Another member of Massachusetts’ reality based community. Maybe honesty IS the best policy.
It seems that there really isn’t that much to this story. Luckily for Patrick I think the bigger story will be Reilly’s mistake in his quest for a LG running mate AGAIN! In the process of moving so I am admittedly not completely on top of the Patrick story but from what I gather I think he will easily weather the storm.
The Boston Globe is reporting that after just one day St. Fleur is out of the running. More when I get home!
According to Adam Reilly, Deval Patrick is warning that he will be releasing a statement about a tax irregularity. Just when I thought things were looking up for Patrick. I guess we will have to wait and see what the statement says. Nothing on Patrick’s website yet.
So now that the speech is over I wanted to give a more detailed impression of my thoughts on the SOTU. First, Bush is really, really an uninspiring speaker. His ability to deliver a speech is quite pathetic. But I digress, the speech is about the steak and not the sizzle. There are basically 4 areas of Bush’s speech I want to focus on: 1) energy policy, 2) foreign policy, 3) economic policy, and 4) what was not said.
The big line of the night was Bush’s “America is addicted to oil.” To combat this addiction Bush has prescribed a 75% reduction in our importation of Middle Eastern oil. Bush also suggest a 22% increase in federal spending on clean coal, nuclear energy, and solar and wind power. This seems fairly impressive at first. A few things to consider though. First, we only import 20% of our oil from the Middle East. This means we are going to still be at about 85% of the oil consumption we are at now. This is hardly enough of a change; this does not even constitute a small step. If we are addicted then we need to make real steps toward nipping this addiction. If Bush called for a 30 or 40% reduction in overall oil consumption he would have had my attention and my support. Now I don’t think Bush’s suggestion should be dismissed because it is at least a call to start thinking about the future and he deserves credit for that.
As for the increased federal funds for research here too Bush deserves some credit because he has proposed an actual idea and a figure (which too often he didn’t do in his speech). My problem with funding increase is that he didn’t say how it was to be directed. Bush could decide to give 5% of that increase to solar and wind power and the rest to coal and nuclear power. If we are interested in energy independence then we need energy to come from sources that are renewable. Coal power, however clean we can make it, is not renewable and therefore really doesn’t help us gain any independence. Nuclear energy, although renewable, is incredibly dangerous and creates a biproduct, the spent nuclear waste, that leads to major troubles and inflames people’s NIMBY attitudes because no one wants the stuff in their state. Here again Bush only came half way at best. If you are going to create independence let’s make sure we are pursuing technologies that make us reliant on no one. Solar and wind are just such technologies.
All in all Bush should be credited for hopefully starting a broader dialouge on energy independence. He failed, however, to make real strides in getting us there. He offered some ideas but they were witout sound details and leave too much room to keep us virtually on the same path we are on now.
My biggest problem with Bush on foreign policy was this specter of isolationism he kept raising. I felt as though he was suggesting that Democrats are seeking an isolationist position circa 1918 and 1940 (when it was the Republicans that were the big isolationists). I do not think there is anyone with any credibility suggesting we withdraw from the world stage. Democrats believe in engaging the problems of the world we just don’t believe that engagement means bombs and brigades. We sought to block the nomination of John Bolton to the UN because we see great importance in our stance with world. If we were interested in retreating all together we wouldn’t have cared whom Bush nominated for the position.
If Bush is suggesting that because Democrats seek the withdrawal of forces from Iraq we are seeking to isolate America from the realities of the world he is wrong here, too. Staying the course as he is fond of saying is not tantamount to being a leader on the world stage. If we were serious in democracy and engaging those oppressed by tyranny we would realize that freedom isn’t delivered by guns but by a choice. People must choose to be free. If Bush wants democracy in the world to spread he needs to commit his government to educating people why democracy is the way.
The big announcement in this area was the American Competitiveness Initiative. This proposal seeks to train 70,000 high school math and science teachers. This deserves credit because it includes some specifics as well as stands as good policy. In our high tech service economy it makes sense to start turning students on the education areas that dominate. This is a good start but it begs the question: why high school? If the students are not receiving quality education in elementary and middle school then they won’t be prepared for the highly trained teachers in high school. The initiative would be stronger if it sought to get boys and girls ready long before high school.
Also part of this initiative is Bush’s call for a permanent R&D credit. This, too, is a great idea but one I think is largely a corporate welfare measure. If we are giving tax write-offs for R&D it will largely benefit only those huge multi-national companies that spend billions on research. This will help feed these companies coffers. Why not target the credit to small and medium sized businesses? Remember companies like Micro$oft and Hewlett Packard started in garages. Why not target the credit to the guys tinkering in their garages as well as the mamouth companies?
What Wasn’t Mentioned
Bush failed to address two very significant issues. First, he made no real mention of what we are going to do to help out the victims of the Gulf Coast. As Ben has eloquently stated there is still a real need in the Gulf. Bush should have called on us to make further sacrafice to finish the job down there. Instead he was demanding we finish the job in the wrong gulf. Bush also failed to mention the rampant corruption and scandal that is plauging his party and this country’s Congress. By not mentioning these areas he has spectacularily failed in his duty to lead.
So I heard on NBC last night that Sheehan, who was invited by Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California to attend the State of the Union address, was arrested just before the speech began. I found out why today. Sheehan was arrested because she wore a t-shirt that protested the war. Apparently she wore another shirt over it and once in gallery removed the outer shirt showing off her protest. The kicker for me is that it is a MISDEMEANOR TO PROTEST IN THE CAPITOL BUILDING! Isn’t there one of those little constitutional rights that protects our right to redress our grievances? Bush is a weak man who couldn’t have his little moment ruined. The Capitol police actually handcuffed the woman and lead her out. What a crying shame.
I would like to state that the fact that Marie St. Fleur does has back taxes and student loans does not mean that is unqualified or a dirty tax cheating pol. I gather from today’s Globe piece on St. Fleur and Reilly that she has experienced financial trouble like many families and this would be reason for her troubles, not some sinister plot by her to not pay taxes. That said, she does deserve close scrutiny on her ability to manage funds and priortize fiscal responsibilities.
For me the troubling part of the article had to do with Reilly’s political caluclations and his leadership ability. The first thing that juped out at me in the article wsa that when Reilly approached St. Fleur she discolsed her “financial troubles” to Reilly. How does Reilly respond? Did he conduct any sort of check into the why or how of his future running mate’s troubles? No!! His campaign couldn’t because they were up against a massive deadline, St. Fleur has to declare yesterday or miss the chance to run with Reilly. This is totally amateur stuff coming from the Reilly campaign. Reilly was so intent on screwing over the voters and the other LG candidates that his only “inquiry” into the matter with St. Fleur was to ask only for “assurance from [St. Fleur] that she was dealing with the problems.” Reilly, when inviting her onto his ticket, had no clue how she got into the trouble, he didn’t much care apparently because picking her “was less a political calculation than my belief in the person.”
Herein lies my second problem. I think it is just swell that Reilly doesn’t follow political instinct but he is RUNNING FOR POLITICAL OFFICE! Reilly better start caring about politics because if he faces Healey in the general election you can bet her campaign will care about political calculations which will likely make her campaign look more appealing. I appreciate a pol that doesn’t base every move on politics, that is why I love Senator Feingold, but the reality is REilly is in the business of professional politics which means he needs to get his head into the game or get out all together.
Reilly should care whether his running mate got into financial difficulty because she is a cheat or if it is because she struggles to make ends meet like thousands of families here in Massachusetts; one is a liability and the other may be an asset. I didn’t like Reilly before because I didn’t like his positions or his style now I can add to the list of reasons to not vote for Reilly his bad political skills. Reilly is proving he doesn’t have what it takes to reclaim the corner office after 20 years of Republican victories. Go Patrick go!!
So I have been pretty pumped up about public transportation lately so I wanted to forward on some information about public hearings in and around the Boston area being held by the MBTA. These meetings are about the 2006 Service Plan. Of course they are the perfect opportunity for those of us interested in seeing major improvements to the T to speak up and let the folks at the MBTA know what we want.
For more info see the MBTA website.
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 Public Meeting
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM and 5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
State Transportation Building, Conference Room 4
10 Park Plaza
Located adjacent to Boston Common; accessible via the Green and Silver Lines at Boylston Station and bus Routes 43 & 55
Thursday, February 2, 2006 Public Meeting
2:00 - 3:30 PM and 6:00 - 7:30 PM
Dudley Branch Library
65 Warren Street
Located in Dudley Sq.; accessible via the Silver Line and multiple Dudley Sq. bus routes
Tuesday, February 7, 2006 Public Meeting
6:00 - 7:30 PM
Citywide Senior Center
806 Massachusetts Avenue
Located near Central Sq., accessible via the Red Line and bus Route
Thursday, February 9, 2006 Public Hearing
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Boston Public Library
Mezzanine Conference Room
700 Boylston St.
Located in Copley Square; accessible via all Green Line Branches and bus Routes 9, 10, 39, 55, 502 & 503; also walking distance from the Orange Line and Commuter Rail at Back Bay Statio
Update: the great folks at Under The Golden Dome were blogging the SOTU as well. Also see the superb coverage by ThinkProgress. I linked to just one section so make sure you go to the homepage of ThinkProgress to see what else they said.
We are at least 20 minutes into the speech and Bush as proposed nothing and said nothing. He has thrown out the standard stuff:
Democracy is good
Terrorism is bad
We aren’t going to quit in Iraq
Praise the soldiers
He said this is an historic time yet he has offered no vision on how we will meet this historic time. He is hammering Iran now on plutonium and nuclear weapons. He is telling the citizens of Iran that we want to be friends but if you don’t look out we are gonna open up a can of American kick butt on you.
Honestly, I am admittedly biased against Bush but I don’t think anyone can say he is an inspiring guy. Bush is oratorically challenged.
Now he says we need to reauthorize the Patriot Act so we can be safe here. He of course is tying the need to reauthorize to 9/11. Bush is reminding us that he is acting under Constitutional authority to wiretap us. Yet he has never shown us any of those court cases or that precedent.
This is what annoys me. He just asked us to help him protect America yet he never tells us how. He just throws out sentences that don’t make sense, or rather they do make sense but they are like hot air, no substance.
Bush keeps mentioning protectionism and isolationism. Did I miss something? Are there any serious people out there seeking old school isolationism circa 1918? 1940? I don’t think so, what is he talking about?
Oxymoron alert! Bush just said we need to act responsibly from a fiscal standpoint yet asked to make the tax cuts permanent. Oops, you aren’t being fiscally responsible when you are choking the coffers of funds and draining what little is in them on an unncessary war. Bush is also proud of cutting over $800 billion from the federal government. Ask anyone who requires any social services how they feel about that.
FANTASTIC!!! Bush just said the Dems didn’t pass social security and they all stood up and clapped. He didn’t expect that, he looked fantastically silly. This was actually the most sustained applause.
Hypocrite alert!! Bush said he didn’t believe in isolationism earlier now is saying we need to seal our borders from those darn Mexicans.
Tort reform nonsense. Bush is giving bogus stats about how there are no OB/GYNs in rural areas because of people suing when they are negligently treated.
The big energy announcement: we are going to invest more in clean coal, nuclear energy, and solar and wind power. This isn’t bad except coal and nuclear energy are bad! Why are we spending money on these old school energy sources. If we are going to be serious about energy independence let’s get serious about it. Independence means cutting the ties from energies that are non-renewable. Bush only gets it half right. He isn’t encouraging us to direct our energies to complete energy freedom. Plus, instead of cutting Middle East petroluem independence altogether, he only asks for 75% in 20 years, this is good but why not go all the way?
“Judges must not legislate from the bench.” Why did he pick Sam Alito then? Also, he just thanked O’Connor for her service and it occured to me, she was the first woman to serve on the bench and she has been replaced by a white, conservative guy…so much for progress.
“Human is life is a gift from our creator and that value must never be disregarded..or put up for sale.” Do you think the way Bush and his Republicans treat the poor is value this gift from the creator? Do you think the way they let people literally rot after Hurrican Katrina is valuing that gift? I don’ think so either.
“We will end the stigma of AIDS.” Ok, that sounds really nice but you offered no way of how we get there? DO YOU HAVE IDEAS?!? You know, those crazy things the offer solutions instead of salesperson puffery.
So the speech is over now. 51 minutes total.
My intial thoughts on the whole thing are this: he took the incredibly safe road by offering nothing new. He can’t fail because he didn’t take a step forward. Bush largely reiterated things he has been saying and things he mentioned last year in the state of the union. He failed to ask us to sacrafice again. Bush could have asked us to roll up our sleeves and take on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in terms of rebuilding not just by throwing federal dollars at it but also by giving our own time to rebuild and not just donate money. Bush basically has fed more fuel to our selfish society by saying we can have our cake and eat it too. Instead of asking us to give a little so we can have freedom Bush has said we can keep getting tax cuts, keep spending gigantic sums on a war, and still have all the freedom we want. I am thoroughly unimpressed with the whole speech. Bush wastes every opportunity he has when addressing the American public.
Well I guess he really can’t lose something he didn’t have but now it is a guarantee he didn’t have it. Apparently Gov. Vilsack thinks Democrats are in danger of backlash for opposing Bush’s unwarranted wiretapping. Gov. Vilsack believes that if Dems can’t show that the wiretapping endangers our civil liberties we will suffer a backlash. Vilsack thinks the backlash will be a result of appearing weak on terrorism and national security because we are opposing Gestapo-like measures.
News for you Gov. Vilsack: the ILLEGAL wiretapping is by its very nature A DANGER TO CIVIL LIBERTY!!!! Once we found out that the wiretapping was occuring without the necessary warrants we had all the evidence necessary to show that our civil liberties are being erroded. I wasn’t a big fan of Vilsack and this pretty much seals the deal for me.
A few days ago I talked about a different kind of lost life in the Iraq War. Today the New York Times has another story on the new “polytraumas” of the Iraq War. I thought the article was incredibly heart wrenching because it very eloquently and graphically adds a new layer to the injuries of the war. Apparently the injuries sustained by the soldiers in Iraq as a result of the numerous IEDs have been so horrific and have caused such damage to the soldiers bodies that the medical profession has created a new category to label these injuries: polytraumas.
I was also angered by the article because when I read of these terrible injuries, these horrific life altering injuries, I was reminded that the cause for which they have given their bodies and minds is far from noble, it is far from justified. I would lay my life down to defend the democracy that makes us great and makes us free. I would stand behind the loss of the lives of my neighbors and friends if the cause were worthy but nothing in Iraq is worthy. We entered this war based on a lie. Now our soldiers are being mamed in unimaginable ways because of that lie. To all of those who decry that we need to support our troops as a justification for keeping them there I simply ask them to read the article and look at the accompanying pictures. If anyone support our soldiers it is those who are screaming for them to get out as fast as practicable.
Does the liberal wing dominate anything in Massachusetts? My thought is absolutely not, but the Globe in an article about the declining membership of the Democratic Party in this state has this to say on the subject
Since defeating [Edward] King in 1982, the lieral wing was retained control of what remains of the party appartus.
If this is true I would like an answer to the following questions:
1. How does someone like Finneran dominate and rule the House like he did if the party is affliated with is run by liberals?
2. How do center-right leaning Dems like DiMasi and Travaligni control the House and Senate now?
3. How is the Reilly the prohibitive nominee for the Democratic gubernatorial spot over the much more liberal and progressive Deval Patrick?
4. How have the rules, adopted at the last convention, been changed so dramatically as to be labeled undemocratic at best?
The reality is that you cannot square the answers to these questions with the proposition that our party is being directed by a pack of liberals. I think the only reason liberal is even used to describe the party here in Massachusetts is out of habit. I think, at least this is my experience, that Massachusetts really doesn’t deserve it’s national reputation for liberalism; the state is really more moderate than say Wisconsin, which is quietly a pretty progressive state.
The Globe article did have one point I agreed with and that is that the party can do more to attract young people. My limited experience in attempting to get involved has be frustrating. I feel like I run into one of two things: 1)I am eyed somewhat skeptically because I am new to the group and therefore an “outsider” so ultimately I am not very welcomed or trusted, or 2) and this is more common, there is no opportunity in these groups to have a voice because all the positions are filled by someone who has been in that position for literally years. An example, the Somerville Democratic City Committee is filled and run by people who have lived in Somerville forever and have been in their positions on the committee nearly as long as they have lived in the city. They do not have patience or a desire to have anyone new, both new to the city and new to the committee, speak up. Maybe I am impatient but I am interested in a seat at the table if I am going to give up precious hours away from family and personal time, even if it is for a worth cause. The party structure here in Mass needs to open up to new blood and fresh ideas by offering some seats to those of the next generation so we are ready to lead.
So the title is a little bit of hyperbole, though I don’t think very much. I cannot for the life of me figure out why Reilly is so insistent on cramming down our throats a candidate for LG, especially when the cadidates he keeps picking are NOT EVEN DECLARED! Tons of superb bloggers have already been posting on this story so let me point you to a few to get a flavor for the reaction of the progressive blogosphere:
Lynne at Left in Lowell hits the nail on the head calling Reilly’s move “anti-Democratic”
Mass Democrant has good analysis of the potential impact of the Reilly picking anyone to create a ticket
Adam Reilly of Talking Politics has my favorite take on the stupidity of Reilly
BMG tries to answer the pressing question of who is St. Fleur?
Sco over at .08 thinks that the Reilly campaign has turned itself from rejected suitor into something, well, less rejected.
So after reading those great posts I wanted to not only throw my two cents but also sort of dovetail my post on why Reilly really aggravates me. I would like to repeat my claim the Reilly has not intentions of caring what the voters want, well that is he doesn’t care until he is in the general campaign. Until then he feels he can keep thumbing his nose at us silly Democrats who would dare think we should have a say. Reilly’s laser beam focus on getting a running mate is evidence of his total lack of care. This focus is also evidence that Reilly doesn’t seem to pay any attention to us bloggers who overwhelmingly seemed to condemn his move with Gabrieli.
I can’t seem to get over the fact that more people aren’t outraged that Reilly has completely passed over four incredibly capable individuals for the LG spot in order to pick who he wants. I don’t really care if St. Fleuer is the single most capable individual for the job; Reilly’s process is so undemocratic it is sad and more importantly it shows an incredibly arrogant side to Reilly. Should he have chosen a declared LG candidate I guess I would be slightly less outraged. But make no mistake, Reilly’s choice of an undeclared candidate pretty explicitly says that the felt that Murray, Goldberg, Silber, and Kelley were unqualified.
The decision is also arrogant because here in Massachusetts the position of LG is elected separate from that of governor. I would not be opposed to two candidates endorsing one another or speaking highly of one another but this ticket formation business, even if there is some precedent for it, is just plain wrong.
I think Reilly has also shown incredible political deafness. I realize that blogs are up and coming and that on the state level they are even more in the wilderness so to speak than is the case on the national level where the myriad of blogs actually seem to play a significant role in the politics. But it seems pretty clear to me, given what I was reading on the blogs, that a lot of members of the Dem party didn’t want to see the race for LG circumvented by forming a ticket. Either Reilly didn’t have his ear to the ground or he didn’t care to have his ear to the ground. Whatever the reason, Reilly plain didn’t want to hear what was being said.
If the moves by Reilly are the beginning of what we can expect from him as both a candidate and a governor I am hardly impressed. Reilly has no finess, he has little skill as a politician. Reilly reminds me a lot of the other powerful Mass pols - aloof, undemocratic, and powerful only because they know how to undercut the process in order to get what they want when they want.
A response from Sam Allis to Fred Salvucci’s op-ed in last weeks Globe appears in yesterday’s paper. Personally, I don’t think the response really captures the sentiment of Salvucci’s piece because Allis focuses too much on the Big Dig rather than the proposals about which Salvucci talked.
Allis seems to suggest that because the Big Dig has been so long and Massachusetts’ citizens are so tired of the negativity that surrounds the project that we should not be bold for quite some time. He takes Salvucci to task for his “tone deafness” for missing the
“toll [the Big Dig] has taken on our collective psyche, our fury and humiliation over the fact that we’ve been the punch line of late-night stand-up routines.”
Is our pride something we should let stand in the way of further innovation? Salvucci is right, for all the pitfalls of the Big Dig, for which there have been many, the benefits significantly outweigh the burdens. (As some of you may note I have only lived in Massachusetts for a few years so my fatigue level is admittedly much lower than those who have been here longer but I still think, perhaps even more so for those who can remember better the eye sore and headache that the Central Artery were, that the Big Dig is worthwile.) Allis’ argument for holding back, our psyche and humiliation, can easily be turned into reasons for another bold transportation initiative to compliment the Big Dig. We can restore both our pride and humility by creating a transportation system that is the envy of the region and the country. We can show those nay-sayers that we are capable of managing such a project and that is can deliver both the promises it makes and on budget.
Allis also tries to offer reasoning on why the state should be able to back out of the commitments it made when moving forward with the Big Dig:
“[Salvucci] rejects the idea that priorities change and, with rare exception, pledges made a decade and a half ago can be altered one iota. But infrastructure projects across the country get reshaped all the time.”
Basically, if everyone else renegs that means we can too. That reasoning doesn’t hold much water with me and I think we should all expect more. The Big Dig had severe environmental costs associated with it’s construction. The state, recognizing these costs, agreed to certain projects in order to minimize the effects in other areas. What Allis is suggesting is not simple reshaping of an infrastructure project but the wholesale drop of significant, and necessary, infrastructure retooling. We are not talking about moving a highway a few feet but rather we are contemplating not even beginning several major projects that will take tremendous strides to improving the quality of life in Massachusetts. I have said, perhaps ad nauseum, that now is the time for boldness in our state. We must take risks or accept stagnation and languish in mediocrity and mundaness. Allis does not present one reason to not be brave and innovative other than it is hard. That is not good enough reason.
Apparently foreclosures are on teh rise in Massachusetts. Today the Globe has a piece stating that foreclosure rates are the highest since 1993. The main culprit for this untimely rise is variable interest loans. Unfortunately the very vehicle that made it possible for lower income families to afford home onwership just a few years ago is the vehicle that is the reason for the increased foreclosures. The housing market in Massachusetts is slowing and intersts rates are rising; this means those variable rate mortgages are going up and families that stretched their budgets to afford to buy the house in the first place at the lower rates cannot afford the higher mortgage payments and hence foreclosure. We are a society that prides itself on the supposed right to property ownership, it is a sacred right that is increasinglyl a “right” for a dwindling number.
However what got to me the most was a comment by Kevin Klein. He was talking about the fact that he was facing foreclosre and said
It used to be if you lost a job you’d be at risk of losing the house. How, if you lose overtime, many families are so close to the brink, and that can create problems.
This shouldn’t be the case. A family should not expect a chance at home ownership only be devoting every waking hour to working for it or worry if they can pay for it or their job security. Wages are higher to be sure but the value of those wages isn’t even coming close to keeping up with the pace of inflation. More is actually getting us less. The gap between rich and poor is a huge problem in Massachusetts. We have to start raising our voices in the State House and Washington D.C. so the middle class can be protected and to ensure the bottom half that social mobility isn’t mere lip service but a real possibility for those who are putting in the work.
Federal Judge Michael Posner has ruled that Massachusetts has “illegally forced thousands of mentally ill children ‘to endure unnecessary confinement in residential facilities’” because the state is not providing appropiate home care according to today’s Globe.
Judge Posner said that Mass is doing a “woefully inadequate” job of monitoring low-income children to make sure that all of their needs are met under the federal Medicaid laws. Judge Posner also siad that current lapses are “one of the painful ironies” of a system that wastes vast amounts of money on instituionalizing kids that could get care fore cheaper at home. So basically our great state is wasting what is likely to be millions of dollars on care that is “woefully inadequate” which will liely require more money and care in teh long run because the problems will be exacerbated due to the improper initial care. And we can’t figure out why people don’t trust social programs?
The state and the plaintiffs have two weeks to come up with some soutions for the judge. Should they fail to come up with real alternatives the judge has said he will bring the parties back into court where he will impose his own resolution. I am sad it took a federal lawsuit and violation of the law, but this ruling is a great victory for low income families. The systems we created to help are failing instead. These families need a voice so they can stand an equal chance at success in our great state. Their grievances are as worthy as anyone elses.
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There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.
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