Friday, May 24, 2013

Endorsement Door 3, Ed Markey

Kisses. Kisses. Kisses.

This morning over in DOT at the IBEW Local 103, Business Manager Mike Monahan loved Mayor Tom Menino and Rep. Ed Markey. Menino loved Monahan, the union, unions, and Markey. Markey loved Menino, Monahan and, well, everybody.

The occasion was for Menino to endorse Markey in the special election to the U.S. Senate, replacing suddenly Secretary of State John Kerry. Markey won the Dem primary over Rep. Steve Lynch and faces the GOP's Gabriel Gomez near the end of next month.

As Menino's endorsement of Elizabeth Warren in the previous special, to replace the late Ted Kennedy, was key to her victory, you might have supposed the crowd would have been bigger here than about two hundred.

Then again, Menino squatted like an owl on a limb before coming out for Warren. The anticipation was palpable and fierce. At the endorsement rally in the middle of Roslindale (at Adams Park, a.k.a. Roslindale Square), every bench, bit of sidewalk and patch of grass was populated. The crowd spiraled with increasing passion for 90 minutes before Menino  and Warren appeared. A virtual political talent show ordinary women spoke powerfully for Warren. She ascended the stage to swelling music and louder cheers.

Two years earlier, at another endorsement to-do, former President Bill Clinton came on for Lynch's re-election bid. That was the strangest of such events I ever attended. Everybody got up at the Ironworkers hall to say how wonderful a prez Clinton had been. In a odd juxtaposition, Lynch spoke before Clinton, saying of  course what a wonderful prez he had been. Only at the end, did Clinton podium up to say, yes, what a wonderful prez he'd been. Then at the end of the remarks, he briefly praised Lynch and urged voting for him, campaigning for him and donating to his campaign.

Not today. It was the natural order of things. Monahan introduced Menino, who introduced Markey. Everybody had plenty of praise for the other two.

There was also no tension or doubt. Gomez held no trump card as Scott Brown did as incumbent Senator. No one was surprised the Mayor went for Markey.

There was pretty good stuff around, substance and detail as well as a love fest. They spoke of gun control, protecting Social Security, ensuring equal opportunity in education, or as Markey put it to great appreciation (hear clip below), "...every child should have access to the skill set they need..."

He also said that the kind of partnership he's had with Menino is exactly that he'd need as a Senator "to fight for the cities." He listed urban concerns and what he and Menino had worked on together.

On the other hand, there was no mention of him and Warren as a team, as a one-two punch in the Senate. If I can finally get him on Left Ahead, I'll ask about that.

This show was pretty short, a campaign stop, in and out in a half hour. I have seen and heard Markey do better on the stump. In particular, three months ago at JP Licks, he spoke with wit and power to over 100 crammed into the ice cream parlor. Today, he was warm and generous in praise, but you could see the audience looking around a bit and shifting from foot to foot as he spent most of his time speaking of the splendors or Boston and her Mayor.

He could have benefited from a slice of Clinton's ego. He has a good story and tells it well. He should learn to acknowledge praise and then move to the important stuff. He has some time to practice before the two debates with Gomez.

Click the arrow on the player to hear a two-minute clip from Markey endorsement acceptance.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Milhous or Millstone?

Let us lefty types praise Congressional Republicans, at last for their current stupidity. That is, their reanimation of the odious GOP disgrace Tricky Dick Nixon.

They seem to be oblivious to the low comedy nature of the likes of "I know you are, but what am I." When the Pee-wee Herman character responded that way to an insult, it was more evidence of his puerile foolishness. Now Congressional GOP type and their not so foxy media touts chant an unending Greek chorus of "Nixonian."

The knowledgeable and analytic know first that the evils of the lawless, ruthless Nixon are not at all like the events Obama haters are failing to turn into scandals. Moreover, winger media as well as Republicans push and push the comparisons with Nixon, first the same as and then even worse than Nixon.

I accept as so many pundit types of all political stripes have said or written, that Republicans won't rest, vindicated until they force a Democratic President from office. Nixon, of course, slithered away ahead of impeachment, indictment and jail and under a pardon from his replacement.

Alas, the unrelenting efforts to drive Bill Clinton from office surely were driven by the Nixon stain. The GOP did get him impeached for lying about and inducing others to lie about his being fellated by an intern. He did not leave office and if anything his personal and political stock climbed. (It's worth noting that several of those leading that impeachment effort were at the time involved in long-term adulterous relationships, and lying about those.)

Regardless, this full chorus singing for Obama's impeachment serves two purposes:

  1. Highlighting governmental problems, while even in the short term having hearings that show the President to be innocent of the allegations.
  2. Reminding all voters that Republicans have decades of nefarious association with the sleaziest of all Presidents. 

Yes, the GOP loves to claim being the Party of Lincoln. Really though, they have revivified that awful zombie to make us aware they are the Party of Nixon.

Younger voters who had only a vague historical reference to Nixon are learning more and more about his sordid administration. They now know that this is the Republican way. The GOP would have been far wiser to leave hid corpse undisturbed.

Boomers and older voters hear this dreadful belch from the past. We too re-associate Republicans with the sneaky, lawbreaking, Constitution abusing Nixon.

When Watergate became his Waterloo, Nixon tried to defend his criminal leadership and simultaneously shift the focus from this abuse of office to whether he had profited financially from his misdeeds. Among his remarks at the time were, "People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. I've earned everything I've got."

Well, he seemed incapable of honesty, but truth be told, he was a crook, on many levels.

So, thanks GOP'ers. You have successfully and repeatedly reminded us how the Party of Nixon acts and speaks.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Consalvo Powers On

The myriad Boston mayoral candidates have four months to stand out from the other 23 running. Last evening, Rob Consalvo did a very credible job at that.

In his kickoff rally, his opening acts of supporters wound up the crowd of four or five hundred filling the Cedars of Lebanon hall in JP. Then his wife, Michelle, humanized him with personal and family vignettes. He kept the energy with a rousing stump speech.

One-on-one, Rob is a serious, sincere pol. I wondered whether he could put the hammer to the anvil. No problem last night.

He hit on the high points, what used to be called the vision thing, following the list items on his scant website. He'll surely get more detailed heading to the September preliminary. Meanwhile the skillfully skirted the border of specificity that would give his many opponents targets. Being out early brings big risks.

His skeletal platform hits constituent passions:

  • High quality education, a tier-one school in every neighborhood. (Promises longer school days and year, with more funding, and somehow getting teachers, unions and parents working together.)
  • Strong fiscal foundation for the city. (That seems to mean growing businesses, fostering high-tech and other innovation, and not from austerity.)
  • Improved public every neighborhood. (Some technology like ore ShotSpotter installs, but mostly funding police, fire, youth groups, neighborhood watch and more.)
  • Finding and eliciting ideas and innovations from citizens, businesses, academicians, and government in MA and beyond. 

The emcee, MA Sen. Anthony Petruccelli, three constituents and his wife heaped on his credentials to advance that he can deliver.

He works absurd hours, apparently without fatigue. He solves constituent problems, like ensuring vacant land became a neighborhood's green space. He innovates as in pressing for John's Law to prevent drunk drivers from getting right back in their cars happened in MA; he takes credit for helping it spread nationwide. Maybe even more effective and memorable was Michelle's tale of how he stopped when they were on the way to a hospital for her to deliver their youngest  but he noticed graffiti on the Grew Elementary and hod to call it in before heading to delivery.

She claims it didn't surprise or upset her.She is what Rob called his best asset in the race and Petruccelli said was his "greatest campaign prop."

He's been at it for 11 years on City Council, representing District 5 with parts of Hyde Park, Mattapan and Roslindale. That was Mayor Tom Menino's district.

Disclaimer: Rob is my district councilor. I know him and he has been a guest on Left Ahead a couple times.

During his tenure, Rob has been known for his constant innovations and sticking his neck out on what he decides are good ideas. He comes up with some of those on his own, gets some from constituents and makes no bones about eagerly accepting or adapting others from Councilors, other politicians and elsewhere. He has been one of the few on Council with the reputation for proposing projects, regulations and what they like to call legislation on the fifth floor of city hall.

Missing last evening were politicians likely to support and endorse early. With two dozen declared candidates — maybe 10 to 12 likely to get enough signatures for ballot slots — pols are necessarily very cautious about such displays. I had to think of 2010 when Matt O'Malley ran in a special to replace Councilor John Tobin and had a monster, politically starry kickoff. No one can beat that kind of display for this race.

So far, no one in the race has advanced either a brilliant slogan or a revolutionary platform. Rob's catchphrase Making Boston Better is more than adequate. He simply has to convince enough voters that he can pull that off, that he can harden up his kind of spongy goals and achieve each one. Last evening was promising.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Marriage Tipping Points

Back a decade ago (ooooo) Hawaii said, "Why not?" to marriage equality — to be quickly legislatively stifled — Vermont passed civil unions (now known as same-sex marriage LITE), and then MA's high court rules that constitutional equal rights are just that in Goodridge. As those transpired, regressive legislators state by state, both WWII sorts and boomers alike, over-reacted with panic.

The tipping point then and in all those places was sent the big, honking message to all those queers and queer loving liberal sorts. Laws defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, often backed up by a voter-approved constitutional amendment forbidding hoe-moe-sexual marriage (oops, "marriage" always in quotes of disdain), flourished like garlic mustard poisoning the lawns of liberty. It was a trend amplifying Prez Bill Clinton's Defense of Marriage Act.

The anti-gay, anti-marriage equality forces loved to chant how 30 or 40 states forbade gay marriage, implying that was permanent. Not so fast, nasties.

We have 11 states, D.C., and a few Native American nations who have legalized SSM. Plus, CA did and will almost surely return next month when the SCOTUS stops futzing around.

Today, Minnesota's House approved SSM. The governor is ready to sign as soon as its Senate does it's proforma consent Monday.

By the bye, Illinois is likely to join the equality party this month.

The tipping point is tipped.

When Illinois and California jump in, suddenly we don't have a freak nation of a few areas approving SSM. Rather, a huge chunk of the population — both coasts and in the middle — say they actually believe in and support equality.

If, as expected, the SCOTUS, hedges on full equality nationwide, only letting CA revert to its legislatively passed SSM, we are left with a modern and primitive America. Texas and South Carolina won't want to give homosexuals American rights, dagnabbit.  Short of a Supreme Court mandate, they'll fester with their regressive stupidity as they did with race laws for a bit longer.

The point is that I was wrong. I thought getting this far would take another decade or two. Once I saw that my boomer generation was little better than our parents on gay rights, I feared for the nation until most of us from both groups had died. I, fortunately, was wrong. America is tired of the irrational and emotional crap and its distractions.

Tip that.

Mega-Sota and Marriage

Watching and hearing several hours of the Minnesota House debate marriage equality, I was moved again, as I was in hearing the New Hampshire and Maine legislatures. The rhetoric was similar, as was the result.

The body today approved same-sex marriage by 75 to 59. The Senate had already approved it and will vote Monday in a pro forma confirmation. The governor is eager to sign the bill into law. Full marriage will start August 1st.

The heartland arguments differed little from the coastal ones. Most reps, regardless of gender, orientation, age or other factors, were intellectually and emotionally and patriotically on the side of liberty and equality for all.

The scattered naysayers tried tired clich├ęs about (discredited) studies saying a mom/dad was the only OK family for kids or that marriage existed just for procreation or such tripe.

The pro side was often at once rational and passionate. They spoke of fairness, American ideals, and even of the relatives, friends, neighbors, coworkers and fellow legislators who were gay and denied fundamental rights and inclusion.

Yes, it was time in Minnesota.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Yes, Delaware

Not to be outdone by the other tiny state, Delaware joined the Eastern Seaboard trend toward marriage equality a few minutes ago. Last week, Rhode island finally, finally made same-sex marriage real after years of rubbing up against it.

This follows last year's Delaware half-hearted civil-unions effort. Today, it went for the real thing, to begin July 1.

Of course, the new law has the unnecessary legally but crucially emotionally for a subset of citizens proviso that clergy and churches can continue to scream, "Do not darken my door, you queens!" in refusing to perform same-sex rituals. That has long been the US Constitution as well as per-state law, but for the anti-gay putting in writing yet again remains a thing of consequence.

 Blessed be.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Boston Corpse Shaming

OK, boys and girls, in the how-provincial-can-you-get contest Boston remains a major competitor. When it comes to dishonoring the dead, we're down there with the worst.

Consider alleged and highly photographed Marathon terrorism suspect Tamelan Tsarnaev. Cops and his brother produced his corpse in Watertown, but the nasty remains went off to Dyer-Lake Funeral Home and Cremation Services, North Attleboro. They shipped it off to the gutsier Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester. They are not afraid of preparing and plugging controversial bodies, including gang members.

As owner Peter Stephan told the Telegraph, "“Our job is to bury the dead. Can we pick and choose the circumstances surrounding the person – be it their death or what they did? Everyone deserves a respectful burial.”"

Meanwhile of course Boston Herald writers and others are swarming like dung beetles and squatting like carrion birds. "Oh, they got welfare money!" "Lawdy, they are proof all immigrants should be turned back!" "God, condemn their souls forever and let us drag their bodies around the city behind garbage trucks!"

Forget the de mortuis nil nisi bonum crappolo, it's lynch mob time on the Charles. Any respect for the dead, for due process or other constitutional rights be damned.

This is not our first go at this either. A little less than a century ago, the most egregious parallel was Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco. These admitted anarchists were convicted — almost certainly falsely — of murder and put to death. For their families, that didn't end the anguish.

No funeral home would cremate the corpses and no Catholic cemetery would accept the remains. Finally, the WASPy haven, Forest Hills Cemetery agreed to burn the bodies and ship the ashes to the parents in Italy. On the way from the Langone funeral home in the North End, protesters were abetted by the Boston police in rioting, disrupting the transit and shaming the mourners. It was as disgraceful a day as the BPD has had before or sense.

Forest Hills staff had a similar attitude to the Worcester folk. Corpses have a sacred patina that deserves respect and expedience. The politics and self-righteousness of nasties are not relevant. Bless them.

On the Rhode Island to Hell

Tossing back some champers and worst of all wishing the newlyweds happiness may send you to hell, says Providence Bishop T.J. Tobin. Like donkeys braying in the back field, that's the scattered nastiness from the few angry that Rhode Island legalized marriage equality yesterday.

(Art note: A section of Rodin's gates of hell bronze at Stanford U.)

The usual clowns, like NOM, joined him in handwringing and in fear mongering about pious business owners surely, surely being forced to accommodate gay folk.

Tobin had the instant classic though, including:
Catholics should examine their consciences very carefully before deciding whether or not to endorse same-sex relationships or attend same-sex ceremonies, realizing that to do so might harm their relationship with God and cause significant scandal to others.
Non-Catholics may not be aware of his insider code there. Scandal does have the ordinary meaning, as in scandals of bishops protecting child abusing clerics and all the related disgrace. His churchy use means an action or word that would ruin another person's soul. Such scandal is evil in itself and puts one on the express train to hell.

The bishop might do well with less politics and more Bible study. Consider the number of places particularly in the New Testament that judgment is God's not man's. I'm pretty sure Tobin falls in the latter group.

My late mother used to say, "We're all adults here," with the implications of maturity and rationality. Were that the case in RI, the bishop and other anti-gay types might have said, "We fought long and strong against fairness and equality but finally got out butts handed to us."

New England is solidly for marriage equality now. When California returns to the same rights, almost certainly after the June SCOTUS rulings, a big chunk of the population will be too. DOMA is on its way out. It's all happening much quicker than I predicted.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

OK Rhody

Finally, for Christ's sake, Rhode Island passes the two necessary bills to formalize marriage equality. Gov. Chafee promises 5:45 PM signing. The House backs up the Senate by 56 to 15. When he signs, it's a done, regional deal. Ten states for fairness and love.

Let's not do the what-took-you-so-long thing! RI has danced around same-sex marriage for years, accepting  Massachusetts marriages, offering benefits, yadda yadda. We await only te

Now New England is a jolly family of fairness.

RI same-sex marriages begin August. 1.