Mass Revolution Now!

Another member of Massachusetts’ reality based community. Maybe honesty IS the best policy.

December 30, 2005

A Dubious Honor

by @ 3:12 pm. Filed under Massachusetts

Well Boston has made the top of the list. Unfortunately this is a list we would rather not top. Governing Magazine’s blog has an interesting post on the best and worst public spaces around the world. Our very own City Hall Plaza in Boston topped the list of the worst public space. The picture the article included aptly captures the space’s lack of invitation and beauty. The “honor” also reminds me of the first time I saw the dreaded City Hall building and was instantly transported back to the University of Wisconsin’s campus. Our Humanities Building (doesn’t that just smack of irony) looks nearly identical to City Hall and serves as an eye sore to campus in the same way City Hall does as the back drop to Fanieul Hall. Maybe as part of Menino’s legacy he could take such a large public space and give it back to the residents and visitors of Boston by redeveloping it with the intention of topping the list again, but this time as the best public space.

Isn’t a Leak a Leak?

by @ 2:58 pm. Filed under National, National Security

I am sure that this is not an original thought or original outrage but I was reading a story today on Yahoo News and became quite upset. It seems that the Bush Administration is launching an investigation into who may have been the NSA leak on the wiretapping.

Is anyone else really, REALLY annoyed that the Bushies are jumping because one of their pet secrets, something they needed to be kept secret, was leaked but failed to do so when they were the leakers and the leak served their political gain? I think it is absurd and shameful that a breach of national security isn’t of the same level of outrage when it doesn’t suit the administration as positively. I am happy that the wiretapping story was leaked, don’t get me wrong there, but I am not completely thrilled that our national secrets are being aired. Again, let me clarify that the wiretapping is wrong, should never have been secret, and I am happy that its existence has been made public, but I am not happy that the NSA and CIA cannot keep secrets. I am even less thrilled with the fact that Bush is really ticked that this leak occurred and as such will fully investigate it yet when the Plame identity was leaked he had to be pulled kicking and screaming into an investigation.

December 25, 2005

Pope Gets Greater Protection

by @ 11:46 am. Filed under Law

Recently a Texas judge said the Pope could not be sued in an American court because he was a foreign head of state. ProfsBlawg raises an interesting point. Our own president can be hauled into court for personal lawsuits but it seems that foreign dignitaries enjoy greater protection. This is a curious result of the decision. Was the judge protecting the Pope?

December 24, 2005

Outrageousness Gone Wild

by @ 4:22 pm. Filed under National

I hate to upset anyone’s holiday festivities but Media Matters has a list of what it deems to be the most outrageous comments of 2005. Warning: the following contains excessive amounts of stupidity, audacity, and just old fashioned meaness. You may not want to read with fruitcake and eggnog.

[Hat tip to Think Progress]

December 23, 2005

My Response to Cos

by @ 6:04 pm. Filed under Democrats, Mass Blogging, Massachusetts

I agree that the Dean campaign and did phenomenal things, many of the successes are rightly be implemented in various form by numerous groups. This is an excellent thing and one part of the Dean legacy I am happy to see survive. Like I said, I love(d) Dean and was incredibly energized by his campaign and was devastated to see the stupid mistakes his campaign made and the way the Dems turned on him to bring him down. So we agree on the successes of the Dean campaign and both agree that we need to work to remember them and implement them as best we can.

However, what I generally disagree with you on is how you choose to rewrite history. You cannot say “Dean did not ‘lose’” because he did. Winning is defined as being the nominee which Dean was not. When we are talking about strategy for our presidential contenders it is not about finding the guy or gal that runs a great campaign with new ideas…but doesn’t secure the nomination. What we are after is a candidate that excites, energizes, invigorates our ideas, and ultimately secures the nomination. As activists our goal is to get our ideas to the top and get our candidate the nomination. Based on that we must acknowledge that as good as Dean’s strategy was we must not replicate it less we expect to lose the nomination again. As much as I love his movement I acknowledge that I would prefer a movement that moves into the White House.

Plus, as much as I hate to admit it, the movement of Dean is incredibly limited. Sometimes we forget this. We generally surround ourselves with like minded people. So as you, Cos, who is awesome and incredibly involved, attend all the DFA meetings in the state (or so it seems) and all the PD meetings, you start to see only the progressives. You forget about the incredibly rigid and stagnant town committees and state committee that still dominate our state. (Just think of Somerville, the same people run the machine there as have for a decade or more.) Our job, and we are doing great at it, is to spread the movement but the reality is we have a LONG way to go. We can continue as progressives generally do, myself included, pretending that we are on some meteoric rise but to do so only creates false hope and a false sense of accomplishment. It also sets us up for big disappointment as time passes and we realize that progress is not being gained.

While it might not seem it from my comments and my posts, I am an eternal optimist. I believe more in what is possible in politics and people. JFK taught me to hope for a better tomorrow but also reminds me that it is a struggle to get there. For all of my hope I try to balance it with reality. Dean did not win but this does not mean we don’t have great lessons to learn for the successes his campaign did have and I am happy to see, as our dialouge here and BMG in general shows us, that we are learning those lessons. But the biggest lesson to learn is that his complete strategy was not a winning one and should not be replicated in whole, in part maybe, but not in whole.

As for the changes you challenge me to lay out I have many. The biggest in my opinion is ideas. I think progressives and Democrats win when the debate is for ideas. Unfortunately I think we are relying on tired and used ideas. This is a new century, a new millenium with problems we have not faced. This means new ideas, not updated ideas. Social security is an idea from a generation ago to deal with a problem that does not fully exist. Let us dare to dream anew; let us be thankful for the solutions of those who came before us but recognize that the problems are not the same so the solutions must not be either. We need to reconnect to academia to find these solutions. We need to retap the brain power in this country and challenge them. A long time ago this party stood for the preposterous proposition that we could eradicate poverty. We did not but how amazing was the journey in trying? We were the party that had the improbable idea to land a man on the moon and then bring him back. With ideas like these we got an entire country to look inward and use all its best talents to tackle these challenges. When we challenge America to dream and think I believe Democrats win not only elections but we win as a country because we are putting our best foot forward.

I also would suggest that Democrats change the tone. One of the best parts of Bob’s original post his dedication to the best idea, whomever it may come from. Washington used to be a place dedicated to finding the best solution; it was partisan to be sure, but the object of the partisanship was not scorched earth but instead a dedication to finding a real solution. Democrats and Republicans want wins, they want to run up the score as often as possible and be damned to the consequences of total victory. We cannot achieve what we set out to when the destruction of our enemy is our goal. Dems and Reps have lost sight of the undeniable fact that as sure as the seasons change no one stays in political power forever. Being mindful of this those in power should take advantage of the country’s stamp of approval on their ideas but also remember that when that approval is over the minority party they have been trampling on will only want to give back twofold. We need to be the “bigger man” and step back from the edge in this game of partisan brinksmanship. Moderation in tone, liberal in ideas.

Finally we need to find new blood. We cannot let ONE RACE go uncontested from school board to US Senator; each of those positions is of equal importance for they both serve the same function: representative to the people. While we cannot fund and back every race to the degree we want we need to rely on the net roots and grassroots to support these candidates. We need to rely on sites like BMG to not only be a clearinghouse of information on the candidates but also fundraising tools to help direct, as was the case with Dean’s campaign, small contributions that will, in total, be big bucks. We want to get our neighbors and friends involved by reminding them that civic engagement makes us all better; civic engagement can create communities where there were none and strenghten communities that already exist. We may find ourselves in a perpetual cmapaign but that is not bad if the campaigns are about they should be: ideas and betterment. Would any of us think it is bad to be engaged in a constant discussion of ideas and how to better our communities? I think considering that is largely what political blogs are about!

The challenge to us then, to those of us who are pumped and people like you Cos who are wired in and motivated, is to not only fight our battles behind these screens but also to make sure that we are coming together personally by volunteering and being active in campaigns and causes. I have been too lax on this myself. I am ready for action and eager for a fight. By organizing online and on the streets we stand to be the most amazing wave of civic re-engagement history will ever know; we will resemble the revolutions past and we will truly change not only Democratic politics but the country in the process. I think that is what Cos and Bob and everyone else has been saying and with that Bob is right, we really don’t disagree at all.

December 22, 2005

Check for Fraud

by @ 10:12 am. Filed under Massachusetts, Social Policy

Mass Marrier, ever vigilant about those who oppose SSM, has a great post telling us to check out KnowThyNeighbor to check to see if you or anyone you know who would never sign the anti-gay marriage petition has in fact signed it through fraud. Apparently we are running out of time so check it out now! However be warned, so many people are heeding Mass Marrier’s call that the site is pooping out a lot. Be vigilant though and make sure you aren’t part of another massive fraud on the public!

Dems Win on Patriot Act

by @ 10:02 am. Filed under National, Civil Liberties

The PATRIOT Act has been extended but frankly this extension is a huge victory for the Democrats. The White House and the Senate have agreed to a 6 month extension of the Act thereby saving for another day the push to make the whole deal permanent. Now the House as to acquiesce to make the deal final.

I call this is victory because the WH nor the Senate’s Republican leadership wanted to make this sort of concession:

President Bush, who had repeatedly said he would not accept a short-term extension of the Patriot Act, embraced the Senate’s action last night. “I appreciate the Senate for working to keep the existing Patriot Act in law through next July, despite boasts last week by the Democratic leader that he had blocked the Act,” Bush said in a statement.

And from Frist:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said he decided on the six-month extension, although he, too, had repeatedly said he would reject “short-term” extensions such as for three months. He said he had not discussed the agreement with House leaders, who plan to meet today. Frist’s chief of staff, Eric Ueland, said a six-month extension is not “short-term.

I think this shows that President Bush’s capital in the capitol has been nearly spent. Could a “crazy” like Feingold led this sort of charge two years ago? I do not think so. The moderate Republicans are also gaining a lot of clout as sort of kingmakers because they are pivitol swing votes key senators need to pass legislation. You also have to love Frist’s ridiculous spin, “This is not short term.” The White House and Republican leadership was originally talking about permanency or years when it came to extension. That is long term; six months is clearly short-term Dr. Frist.

In the spirit of trying to tone down the hatred in the rhetoric of Washington all progressives should give a little thanks to four Republicans who crossed lines to support the filibuster of the extension:

Larry E. Craig (Idaho)
Chuck Hagel (Neb.)
Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
John Sunu (New Hampshire)

December 21, 2005

What Way of Life?

by @ 8:32 pm. Filed under Iraq War

Today’s piece by Derrick Jackson hit me right between the eyes. As Bush and company run around the country and the world talking about how terrorists seek to destroy our way of life I have never stopped to really ponder what exactly that way of life is. In light of the recent wiretapping scandal I would be inclined to say that the terrorists haves succeed in destroying our way of life for it is no longer about privacy and freedom from government intrusion, but I digress.

What really is the our way of life? Given the holiday season I am lead to believe that our way of life is selfishness. Too many stories are about the “gotta have it gifts.” The stories are about the lines for the XBox 360 and rather than lines flooding food banks to drop off non-perishable items and clothing. Too often the story of late coming from Boston is yet another homicide; yet another body closer to the astronomical murder rates of the early nineties. What bothers me about this war is our utter lack of sacrafice. I would normally say our way of life was how we can come together as a country to rally around the democracy that makes us great.

Unfortunately our leader, our president, has failed to ask us to do this and so it seems we will not do so until asked. We would rather carry the mantle of blissful ignorance, shake our heads at the body count and secretly be grateful that it is not us enduring the pain. Vietnam finally hit Americans when we realized the enormous amount of life that was thrown at the problem. Do we really need to experience that again? Do we really need to see dead Americans in the tens of thousands before we ask what it is we are fighting for? I think my point in my rambling is simply to say that when we look at the conduct of this war we are faced with the hard reality that our way of life is not being protected from the terrorists by this war but rather our way of life is being compromised and victory handed to the terrorists because of this war.

In the course of this war we have allowed the disillusioned, misinformed ends justify the criminal means. We have allowed our Congress, our representatives to government, be duped and corraled by a disingenuine Executive to justify ending something his father started. We have allowed American citizens to be labeled enemies of their own country and on such finding we have allowed them to be thrown into jail without their constitutional due process. We have allowed, in the name of this war, this war to secure our way of life, billions of our hard earned dollars to go to a few companies who then turn around to bilk us all out of a few billion more. And now we learn that to protect our way of life we must spy on our citizens to make sure that they are not up to anything suspicious. This is not the American way. Nothing about this war has ever represented for even one second anything close the American dream or our proud democratic traditions. This war is a disgrace and it is a loser. To stay the course is to further degrade what we hold dear.

Rant over.

Romney Just Loves to Draw Things Out

by @ 7:38 pm. Filed under Current Events, Massachusetts

Apparently Romney is saying he won’t make a decision about whether to run for president until 2007. Although he is saying that he plans to continue laying the foundations of a run and raising the money necessary. Why does he insist on leading people on for so long?

December 20, 2005

Feingold Captures the Essence of the Debate

by @ 6:40 pm. Filed under National, Civil Liberties

“None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead.”
– Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), quoted by The Hill.

“Give me liberty or give me death.”
– Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), responding to Cornyn with the quote made famous by Patrick Henry during the American Revolution.

[Via Political Wire]

Union Could Get Slapped Hard

by @ 6:36 pm. Filed under Current Events, National

A judge has declared the TWU’s strike illegal under the Taylor Law which forbids public employees from walking off the job. Here are some of the penalties the union is facing:

*$1 million per day in fines beginning Tuesday
*$5 million in damages to compensate the city for the money it already has spent preparing for the strike
*The city also sought $25,000 fines for individual union members, doubling each day as well

The $1 million fine threat is already in place. The $5 million and $25k fines were additionally sought by the city today. To add to the total blunder by the TWU the international unions it belongs to have both said they did not support the strike making this not only illegal but unauthorized as well.

I support higher wages. I support workers. I support unions. But I do not support this strike. This could cost NYC anywhere from $450 to $600 million. No one wins if NYC loses billions; I am not sure where the union thinks it will get the concessions from if the city loses that kind of cash. I cannot imagine how TWU President Toussaint thinks he will get an ounce of sympathy by shutting down a system that transports more people in a day than on ALL domestic flights. This was not well thought out.

My Savior

by @ 5:50 pm. Filed under Site News

I do not think I can say thank you enough to Lynne. I know that she is swamped with real work yet she kept plucking and helped my site look right again. Thank you, thank you, thank you Lynne.

I would also like to take this opportunity to plug Firefox (plugging it because although the site was still a little messed up on Firefox it was far better looking than it was on IE6). I know most people use Microsoft but I made the switch to Apple about a year ago and have never been happier to be free of M$ products. Firefox is a great web browser and a great way to stick it to Micro$oft. Now only my wife keeps the dreaded products of Bill Gates in the house (a problem we will be correcting I can assure you).

A Vicotry for Science

by @ 1:34 pm. Filed under Current Events, National

A nice post from the American Constitution Society about the ruling concerning intelligent design. I find a certain irony in the fact that despite the conservatives’ best efforts to pack courts with their nutty friends it was ultimately a court that blocked one of their favorite school reforms. You know what this means? Time for another Justice Sunday to beat the courts into submission

Site Troubles

by @ 8:16 am. Filed under Site News

I am a confessed idiot when it comes to dealing with the behind the scenes stuff of this site. For those of you viewing the site through Internet Explorer I am aware that the right column is bleeding behind the center column. Because I am an idiot I have asked Lynne from Left in Lowell to give me a hand and I think she has been poking around and trying to fix things (if she hasn’t then my site has a ghost because it has been changing without me doing anything!). She is a busy lady and I am eminently patient because if I have to try to solve this on my own you can assume the site will go down in flames!

I have a Mac so I didn’t recognize the IE troubles. I view my site via Firefox and Safari both of which don’t have the trouble that is occuring in IE. I apologize and promise it will get fixed. Thank you again to Lynne and her help, she is my saving grace!

The Problem with Self-Review

by @ 6:52 am. Filed under National, National Security, Civil Liberties

Yesterday President held a wide-ranging press conference on a variety of subjects. Of course the dominant issue on the minds of the press was Bush’s latest usurpation of power, the NSA wiretapping. The Washington Post has an interesting article on the press conference. I want to highlight a few of the defenses the Bush Administration has been throwing out.

“This is a different era, a different war,” the president said at a year-end news conference in the East Room. “People are changing phone numbers and phone calls, and they’re moving quick. And we’ve got to be able to detect and prevent. I keep saying that, but this . . . requires quick action.”

This is just plain nonsense. As many senators and legal experts have already stated FISA would allow a president to tap first and get a warrant later. There have been numerous instances in which a president tapped the line of suspect and was then able to successfully receive a retroactive warrant through proper FISA channels as the law intends. Bush could have had his cake and eaten it too within the bounds of the law. The other reason this line of defense is nonsense is that suggests the ability of a president to determine that a law is a bit outdated and therefore the president can freshen it up without Congressional approval because of his constitutional “obligation to protect you.”

The other problem I have with the “different era, different war” argument is why didn’t the Bush Administration go to Congress and ask for either the changes it needed in the law or ask for an entirely new law? He has no real argument for his illegal actions and his arguments for his actions are just going to keep getting more pathetic.

While generally relaxed and sometimes joking, Bush grew testy when asked if he is presiding over the expansion of “unchecked power” by the executive branch. “To say ‘unchecked power’ basically is ascribing some kind of dictatorial position to the president, which I strongly reject,” he responded sharply, waving his finger.

I am happy that Bush is rejecting with words the idea that the president cannot act as a dictator. Now only if he could reject the assertion with his actions. He continues to maintain that he briefed a few senators and therefore everything was fine. What is ridiculous about this argument is that he has never said that if they were to have objected he would have stopped the taps. Furthermore we know he would not have. President Bush believes that he is right and what he is doing is legal, he informed the senators only to cover his tracks. We know that at least one senator, Jay Rockafeller, did object yet the taps continued. When Bush believes he is absolutely right and when he believes that his actions are morally just he is an unstoppable juggernaut who is willing to sacrafice the lives and liberties of Americans.

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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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Russ Feingold for President!

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