Mass Revolution Now!

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

January 31, 2006

State of The Union Liveblogging

by @ 9:31 pm. Filed under National

Lynne is liveblogging too.

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.

Vilsack Loses My Vote

by @ 4:23 pm. Filed under Democrats, Election '08, National Security, Civil Liberties

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 Sad Story

by @ 11:54 am. Filed under Iraq War, National

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.

Rebuilding the Party

by @ 9:15 am. Filed under Democrats, Massachusetts, Election '06

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.

Why Does Reilly Hate Voters?

by @ 6:29 am. Filed under Massachusetts, Election '06

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.

January 30, 2006

A Weak Response To Transportation Reform

by @ 10:19 am. Filed under Massachusetts, Social Policy, Transportation

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.

Sad State of Affairs

by @ 9:12 am. Filed under Massachusetts, Social Policy

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.

January 27, 2006

Federal Court Steps In To Help Mentally Ill Kids

by @ 11:46 am. Filed under Massachusetts, Social Policy

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.

Reilly Burns Me

by @ 10:19 am. Filed under Massachusetts, Election '06

I don’t like Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Tom Reilly. I think he has done a fine job as AG serving Massachusetts and should continue to serve Massachusetts - as Attorney General. Let me lay out my many objections to Reilly:

*He is a bad leader. Leadership, IMHO, is about inspiring people to follow. People like Reilly because they know he has been around forever and because he has never been really controversial (due to his bland stance on everything). For these reasons, if elected Reilly would be moderately successful in getting people to go along with him, but they will follow not because he inspires or because he has a great vision for how to make Massachusetts great. Right now our state requires boldness in initiatives and genuine inspiration, traits for which Reilly is completely devoid.

*This is the next rung for the AG. I hate calculated political careers when they are so blatantly calculated. Reilly wants to be the governor not because he has ideas he isn’t able to implement in his current job or because he so desperately wants to improve the areas of Mass that need the most improvement. No Reilly wants the job because he has groomed himself long enough for the corner office.

*Reilly thinks it is his turn. If I calculated political careers, I DESPISE “political lines.” Elected office is for those who are best capable at that not moment to represent the constituents; it is not for those who have been waiting the longest. The constituents of Mass need a leader, an innovator and Reilly is neither. I think Reilly’s “no campaign” campaign is evidence that he believes it is his turn. We know he is running because he has declared as much and because the Globe has been saying it for months. But other than that where is the Reilly campaign?

*Reilly thumbs his nose at the democratic election process. Again, for evidence I point to Reilly’s no campaign strategy. He is looking to be coronated, not elected. Kings don’t campaign so why should Reilly? Patrick has been taking risks by putting his ideas out there and meeting with the voters. He jumps in when he wants to by creating mock debates. Or when he feels like screwing the other LG candidates by creating how own candidate for the number two slot.

Reilly’s latest move to court Gabrieli is the icing on the cake for me. Reilly doesn’t care about the campaign but only the win. He will circumvent the process by bringing in the previously undeclared and uninterested Gabrieli in order to create a political juggernaut intended to bankrupt the other campaigns before they really get running. I think Reilly is afraid of us voters chosing so he is making sure we can’t by creating this moster ticket dominated by deep pockets rather than indepth ideas. So with that I say let us whole heartedly stick it to Reilly by showing him the Dean model works better. Contribute to Deval Patrick so we can show the Reilly people that financial windfalls can made $10 and $20 at a time. We need to show Reilly that the almighty dollar isn’t the only form of currency with power in Democratic politics.

Please also contribute to the LG candidates so we can keep them in the game too!
Sam Kelley
Deb Goldberg
Tim Murray
Andrea Silbert

January 26, 2006

Initial Budget Thoughts

by @ 3:16 pm. Filed under Massachusetts, Social Policy

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center released a preliminary analysis of Governor Romney’s Fiscal 2007 budget. Sco at .08 has his thoughts from the MBPC release which are a good take. Here are some highlights from the budget:

*The budget will include an increase in local aid of $167.9 million. However, despite this increase when adjusted for inflation aid to local governments is still down $146.5 million from FY ‘01.
*$3.8 million is budgeted for early literacy programs which is no change from FY ‘06. What is appalling though is that this is down from $20.1 million in FY ‘01. What an amazing commitment the Romney Administration has to helping the youngest students get leg up.
*A whopping $0 will be dedicated to reducing class room sizes for younger children. There has been no funding for this program since in the $18 million in FY ‘01. Those young kids just don’t seem to make it on Romney’s radar.
*Spending on higher education is down 21% since FY ‘01.
*$455.7 million is earmarked for health services. This is only a 3% increase from last year and still a paltry 24% (or$144.8 million) decrease from FY ‘01. Smoking prevention, on subsection of this budget line is being funded with $53.9 million which is 93% below FY ‘01. This is a shame since we know that increases in the numbers of smokers will only mean that we need to increase health care spending in the long term.

While we may be getting back on our feet it is obvious from this brief snapshot that we have a long way to go. Funding has been dramatically cut over the last four years and cities, towns, schools, and universities are still struggling because of those cuts. I think the best analysis comes from the MBPC:

The Governor’s budget puts a choice before the Legislature – one that will become more acute if revenue growth does exceed expectations. The state could take advantage of revenue growth to make meaningful progress in reversing cuts to basic services that were made after revenue was reduced by the tax cuts of the 1990s and the recession of 2001. Alternatively, the state could leave many of those painful cuts in place and begin a new round of tax cuts.

My hope is that the Legislature makes the right choice by reversing cuts to basic services.

Capuano’s Actions Are Indefensible

by @ 9:14 am. Filed under Democrats, Massachusetts, Election '06

Representative Mike Capuano is my representative to the US House. His trip to Brazil is bad news because it puts Democrats in a potentially hypocritical position. How can we be complacent when a representative takes a $20,000 trip to Brazil with LOBBYISTS for which the representative paid NOT ONE CENT? We can’t, and if we do then we are worse hypocrites than the Republicans.

I admittedly know little about Capuano but have to say that this first impression is not a very good one. I find myself asking how would I react if this guy was a Republican? I would react by calling him corrupt and part of the pay to play problem in Washington D.C. So how can I react less when it is my own DEMOCRATIC representative? I don’t think I can. I think that fairness and coummitment to principle compel me to denounce Capuano because he clearly does not share my ideal nor his party’s efforts to reform and rid the capitol of corruption.

I say all of this because of Senator Kerry’s letter to the editor in today’s Boston Globe. The Senator seems to suggest that because CApuano hasn’t made this a habit he should be excused. I think that if Democrats try in one breath to call for reform and point to Delay as horribly corrupt but in the other breath defend the blatantly stupid decision by Capuano as an aberration we will immediately lose our edge as reformers and look like silly, partisan hacks. Representative Capuano may represent the people of his district well but in this current climate of corruption he has spectacularily failed us and for that we need to think twice about who we send to Washington in November.

January 25, 2006

CLF to Continue to Fight LNG Site in Fall River

by @ 8:54 pm. Filed under Massachusetts, Environment

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is upholding its decision to approve construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Fall River. The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) plans to appeal in federal court in the hopes of blocking the terminal. Construction of the terminal would require huge LNG tankers to navigate all the way up Narragansett Bay to the Taunton River. Dredging is necessary to accommodate these tankers. The terminal is also planned to sit within a neighborhood of schools, homes and hospitals.

The Mayor of Fall River, local residents and the Attorneys General of Massachusetts and Rhode Island are also in opposition to siting an LNG terminal in Fall River. CLF’s opposition is based on FERC’s failure to adequately address alternative sites that will pose fewer environmental risks. These alternative sites are required by law.

If you want to learn more about CLF’s LNG advocacy you can do so through CLF’s website.

[The info above came from an email from CLF so a big hat tip to them.]

The Other Lost Lives of Iraq

by @ 8:23 pm. Filed under Iraq War, National

The New York Times had an article on Sunday that I wanted to bring up because it had a very strong impact on me. The article was about the fact that soldiers in Iraq are more likely than in any other war to survive their battle field injuries due to significant advances in medicine. The article follows a Marine, Jason Poole, who suffered significant injuries from an IED. Corporal Poole is now “blind in his left eye, deaf in his left ear, weak on his right side and still getting used to his new face, which was rebuilt with skin and bone grafts and 75 to 100 titanium screws and plates.” Corporal Poole had talked to his girlfriend about getting married when he got back but according to Poole, “But I didn’t come back.”

There are now 7 to 8 survivors for every death in Iraq. This means that for the over 2,000 who have given the “last measure of devotion” to this country there are approximately 14,000 to 16,000 injured soldiers. The reason Corporal Poole’s story was so compelling to me is because too often we focus only on the those who died in battle. We forget that soldiers like Corporal Poole, as he said himself, don’t come back despite making it state side again. The story is also compelling to me because in the costs of the Iraq War we often don’t figure in the fact that someone like Poole, who is in his early 20’s, will require intensive medical attention paid for by the taxpayer (and rightfully so) for the rest of his hopefully long life. With the casualties continuing to rise we can only figure that the cost of the war will be rising dramatically as well.

I think it is so important that we recognize that almost as equally devastating as the loss of life is the notion that so many of the brave men and women will come back to lives that no longer exist either because of severe physical handicap or because of mental anguish. These are the other lost lives we never seem to count, perhaps the number is just too large for our comprehension; we are unable to cope. These are the lives that President Bush isn’t talking about in his speeches. This is the catch 22 of better medicine; through greatly improved technology and experience we are able to keep soldiers that might otherwise have perished in previous wars alive. Saving one American life is certainly something we are all happy to see but we forget that what is salvaged will be so completely different from what it was and that for that soldier there has, at least to some degree, really been a loss of life. This is the side of war we forget and needs to be brought up from time to time to remind us that we need to get out of Iraq to stop the flag drapped coffins from being unloaded from the bellies of giant military aircraft but also to stop the needless physical and mental anguish that is being shouldered by our men and women.

Transportation Reform

by @ 9:22 am. Filed under Massachusetts, Social Policy, Transportation

Massachusetts, we have a problem. And I am part of it unfortunately Public transportation in our state is woefully inadequate. I live in Somerville yet I rarely use the REd Line, Orange Line, or the buses. When my wife and I need to go places we drive. This is problematic for two reasons: 1) we are contributing to the air pollution in Boston and Somerville, and 2) we are part of the reason public tranportation isn’t fiscally sound. We have access to this transportation yet we don’t use the transportation. Herein lies our catch-22. Somerville does have public transportation but it does not adequately serve all of Somerville. We don’t use public transportation because it is not abundantly convenient, and it is not abundantly convenient because people don’t use it starving the service of needed funds to better serve. How do we improve public transportation before ridership is there? The big “X factor” is if we build it will they come?

Fred Salvucci’s piece in today’s Globe seems to advocate that if we build it they will come camp. Salvucci is no stranger to transportation concerns having served as Secretary of Transportation in Massachusetts. His article is right on the money because he suggest no incremental changes but sweeping, systemic changes. Massachusetts has to make a tough decision about public transportation and fully commit the resources and the energy to fully change the system.

Improving service in Boston and the immediate surrounding communities alone is not enough and will do little to adequarely address our state’s problem. I travel north from Somerville everyday for work and witness the horrendous wall of traffic heading into the city. This traffic is not going to be cut down by improving T service alone. The commuter rails need dramatic improvement. We used to live in Haverhill but moved to Somerville because my wife couldn’t handle the nearly 2.5 hour one way commute everyday relying on the T and commuter rail to her job in the Fenway area. By serving more suburban communities north, west, and south of Boston with efficient, clean, fast commuter rail service we can start to really reduce congestion on the highways. Unfortunately commuter rail service isn’t really even an option for the majority in Massachusetts. However, by improving rail service into Boston we must simultaneously make sure that these commuters are met with fast and efficient T service to finish the commute (think service directly the OPPOSITE of the Green Line). This is why incremental change will not suffice. If we concentrate on commuter service but flood the current T system with these new riders the gains will be short lived because the system will buckle and people will go back to their old ways.

Massachusetts needs to get serious and now. Population declines are real in our state. People can’t afford to live in the city but can’t deal with wicked traffic and HOURS of daily commuting either, especially when in other parts of the country they can keep their car, deal with less traffic, and live cheaper. Investment in public transportaion is an investment in our future and the health of the Commonwealth. But any investment we make must be real and we must be ready to go the long haul and make public transportation in Massachusetts the envy of the country.

Independent Streak

by @ 6:38 am. Filed under Massachusetts, Election '06

I hate to seem like I am jumping on the bandwagon by posting about Independents because the topic has been covered expertly by some of my favorite blogs (BMG, .08, and Beyond 495), but I wanted to weigh in to echo what Mariposa said at Beyond 495 because the issue is important (where her excellent post had my screaming “Amen sister!”). She said it best:

Look, I get it — I don’t love everything about the Democratic Party either, but the solution is MORE involvement, not less, especially at the local, grassroots level.

I couldn’t have said it better. Now is not the time to sit on the sidelines waiting for your knight in shining armor to come along and say everything you want to hear, promise everthing you want. If you don’t like what you see the only way to get what you want is by putting some skin in the game. We cannot endure 24 YEARS (meaning another term) of Republican leadership coming from the corner office. The Independents, or should we say the fence sitters and weak knees, and their non-commital ways need to realize that so long as they don’t come down on one side all they will get is political pandering rather than political promises. So long as that happens the Independents will only become more dissatisfied and disengaged because those politicians they help to elect will have no real accountability.

So when we encouter the elusive Independent in the wild we have to grab on to them and educate them on the importance of commiting to the fight - whichever side they choose. We need to inform that by registering as a Dem it doesn’t mean you belong to the party, you aren’t commited to paying dues (though if they feel so inclined…). This is not time to sit on the sidelines and we need to convince these people to get in the game!

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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!




January 2006
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