November 22, 2005

Fulfilling expectations

  • In the "Arrgghghghggh" department... I came this close to actually praising Our Guv for supporting the proposed Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Too good to be true, as it turned out. Our Guv is siding with the power companies:

    News of the delay comes two weeks after Romney indicated his overall support for the initiative at a conference in Boston, calling it ''good business" because it would prompt Massachusetts companies to develop state-of-the-art clean-energy technology.

    Since then, power plant owners and other businesses have intensified their lobbying, urging Romney to reject the deal, which would freeze power plant emissions at their current levels and then reduce them 10 percent by 2020. The critics' chief concern has been that the deal would send energy costs higher.

    Yes, that last part might be true, but you have to look at it in the context of a total lack of leadership on the energy front from the Governor, who after all opposes viable alternatives. (Thanks to Bostonist for some links and good commentary.)
  • Speaking of viable alternatives ... a friend who was at a recent event in Arlington with Deval Patrick and the three declared Lieutenant Governor candidates says that with regard to our energy needs, "None of them mentioned conservation. It's the 800-pound gorilla."

    To the candidates: It's OK ...  we can handle it, you know.
  • And speaking of conservation, at commenter stomv's advice I went out and got a new badass, 7-day programmable $40 thermostat for the crib this past weekend. Aside from some mild confusion about wires, and some concern about the mercury-filled old thermostat (kids, do not drink this at home), it went pretty smoothly, and now the heat is nice and modulated, and pretty much doesn't come on uselessly in the middle of the night. I expect it'll pay for itself this winter.
  • This is like musical chairs, but the West Medford and Union Square Green Line extensions are still on the table. Folks in JP are unhappy that the Arborway trolley got axed, as was the Red-Blue line connector. And there's still no news on making the other end of the Green Line, or the middle, suck less.

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 05:30 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

2006 and local blogs

Linked from Political Wire, Kari Chisholm of Mandate Media has a post about the potential importance of political blogs in the '06 elections. Mandate Media runs the indispensible LeftyBlogs site, which sorts out the local blogs by state. (We've got a link to the MA lefty bloggers on our blogroll, and Kari was kind enough to leave birthday wishes to our site.)

The über-example of blogs' influence in a campaign was the  Daschle-Thune race in South Dakota in '04. But most of the time, it seems to me that blogs aren't going to have that kind of power, especially not in bigger states. But Chisholm puts her finger on it here:

Though readership is tiny for local political blogs, the Nevada Democrats' spokeswoman Kirsten Searer makes the critical point:

"The beauty of bloggers is they have an audience of the right people. If they break news, then insiders in politics and mainstream media are likely to pick it up."

It is nice to see that the Republicans at the NRCC completely miss the point about blogs.  Roll Call quotes spokesman Carl Forti:

"The people who go to these blogs, it’s the very partisan Republicans and very partisan Democrats, and those aren’t the people we are worried about."

As regular readers of P&T know, the whole purpose of a campaign website is to communicate with, motivate, and organize the grassroots supporters and fans of a candidate. 

If there's a blog out there - either of the news, commentary, or activist variety - that's talking to your people... well, that's a blog worth tracking and wooing.  Nevermind their roles in pushing stories to the forefront of the big media.

Yup. As we've wondered before, it may not be breadth, but depth of readership that can be influential. It'll be interesting to see if and how the MA blogcircle affects the '06 races.

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 05:07 PM in Massachusetts, National | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

The Delahunt-Chavez deal: what's the problem, exactly?

CitgosignWhat a fascinating story this is.  Congressman Bill Delahunt (D-Quincy) has personally cut a deal with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to provide millions of gallons of low-cost heating oil, to be distributed through Citgo (which is a subsidiary of the Venezuelan state-owned petroleum company) and handled here by Citizens Energy, Joe Kennedy's outfit that for years has been helping poor area residents find affordable heating oil.  The back-room goings-on behind this deal are a tale worth reading.

Sounds great, right?  Some people don't seem to think so.  Chavez, of course, is not exactly on the Bush administration's A-list - he's the guy who publicly called Bush a "crazy man" and an "assassin," and his distinctly left-leaning government is fairly tight with Fidel Castro.  And so Steve Johnson of the right-wing Heritage Foundation has piously proclaimed that deal-cutting with someone like Chavez "is not something I'd like my congressman to be doing."

BushsaudiLet's take a moment for a reality check.  It's not like we don't do business with Venezuela already - they're our fourth-largest supplier of petroleum products, and they own the omnipresent Citgo.  And who's number 1?  Why our good friends the Saudis, of course.  Oh, but of course, we would never cut deals with them.

Mr. Johnson, I assume, earns a nice salary from the Heritage Foundation, and is able to pay the heating bills on his pleasant home in Silver Spring, Md. without thinking twice about it.  Apparently, it's more important to him and his ilk that foreign leaders who don't like the Bush administration be easily portrayable as bad, bad, bad, than it is that low-income Americans be able to heat their homes.  Or maybe he doesn't think the private sector should have any role at all in helping poor people with their heating bills - rather like the CEO of a different oil company, ConocoPhillips, who told Congress not long ago: "We feel it's not a good precedent for one industry to fund a program as such.  We think that's a responsibility of the government."  Oh, but whoops, the government has seriously underfunded its principal program to help poor people buy heating oil, and Senate Republicans recently blocked an effort to bring funding up to authorized levels.  So, Mr. Johnson, what's your solution?

If Hugo Chavez wants to bolster his image with the American public by selling them cheap heating oil through Citgo, I have a hard time seeing what the problem is.  Call it petro-diplomacy if you want.  At least his government doesn't underwrite Islamic extremism.  Joe Kennedy has it right: "You start parsing which countries' politics we're going to feel comfortable with, and only buying oil from them, then there are going to be a lot of people not driving their cars and not staying warm this winter. There are a lot of countries that have much worse records than Venezuela."

Anyway, so Chavez doesn't like the way Bush is running the country?  Big deal.  He's not alone.

Posted by David at 04:00 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

The Bumblers

Some interesting observations from Bill Fisher: "'New Brownies in the Wings?'  Years from now, we’re likely to remember two things about Hurricane Katrina: The massive human suffering caused by the incredibly dysfunctional response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, and President Bush’s iconic kudo to FEMA’S clueless head: “You’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie!”

"The ‘Brownie’ the president was referring to was, of course, Michael Brown, then FEMA’s hapless director. Days after Bush’s remark, Brownie was ordered back to Washington and later fell on his sword and resigned in disgrace (though he attempted to defend himself before a Senate hearing and remained on the payroll as a “consultant” for several more months).

"But in Washington, there’s always a long line of mediocrities waiting in the wings to serve their country. And President Bush seems to have a particular knack for nominating them.

"Here are three of the more recent:

"Paul Bonicelli was just appointed to oversee the democracy and governance programs of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Those programs are mandated to play a central role in Bush's efforts to democratize Iraq and the broader Middle East.

"Bonicelli’s background in spreading democracy and good governance? Well, his current post is dean of academic affairs at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia, whose motto is: “For Christ and Liberation”. This ultra-fundamentalist institution requires all its students to sign a "statement of faith" declaring that they believe "Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, is God come in the flesh," "Jesus Christ literally rose bodily from the dead," and "all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity."

Continue reading "The Bumblers"

Posted by Bob at 12:33 PM in National | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 21, 2005

No, this is not Photoshop at work

BushdoorThis, rather, is the leader of the free world attempting to exit a press conference in China.  This photograph appeared on the front page of today's NY Times.


Posted by David at 01:30 PM in National | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Osama Still at Large

Just a quick reminder that more than four years after the bloodiest day in U.S. history since Antietam, and the worst attack on our country by foreigners since Pearl Harbor, the person who planned, financed and celebrated that assault is still at large. Catching and punishing him is not a priority for the adminisration. "You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you," Bush reported in 2002. The irresponsibility and incompetence of this Republican administration are an insult to the victims of 9/11 and a danger to America.

Posted by Bob at 12:27 PM in National | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 20, 2005

Today, RFK would have been 80

Wes F. and David Eisenthal have reminded us that today would have been Bobby Kennedy's 80th birthday. Here's a site dedicated to him. I'll just chime in with my thoughts.

It seems to me that the Democratic Party, and by extension the country, has never regained its moral vision since he died. RFK was a guy who saw the impoverished and downtrodden, showed the world the reality of their situation, and pointed out that our fates are interconnected. His essential compassion is plain from the speeches and footage (which is all I have, being born after he died):

"There are children in the Mississippi Delta," he said, "whose bellies are swollen with hunger ... Many of them cannot go to school because they have no clothes or shoes. These conditions are not confined to rural Mississippi. They exist in dark tenements in Washington, D.C., within sight of the Capitol, in Harlem, in South Side Chicago, in Watts. There are children in each of these areas who have never been to school, never seen a doctor or a dentist. There are children who have never heard conversation in their homes, never read or even seen a book." [link]

Maybe because of his brothers' deaths, he had a searing awareness of the tragic condition of humanity, of the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune".

In the intervening thirty-seven years since he was killed, our vision has been clouded by the Reagan-era reaction against the Great Society vision; and the rise of megabuck politics -- briefly co-opted by Clinton. The phrase "bleeding-heart liberal" came to have such dismissive power only in that reaction, which clove liberals from the source of their moral power: After all, whose heart doesn't bleed? Is there any other kind?

RFK's legacy is his compassion for his fellow human beings. As Democrats and as a people, we have yet to begin living up to that. His words and life still present the starkest possible challenge to us, but also an opportunity to reclaim our vision and power -- if we decide to take them on.

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 09:18 PM in Massachusetts, National | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

November 19, 2005

Return on Community Investment

Len Stewart of Cape Cod Works has a must-read post on how we must look at any health care reform: It's an investment in our community, which will bear real and tangible economic as well as moral benefits. Quoting Dave Rogoff, Director of Hillsborough County Health and Social Services:

When there is agreement that access to health care makes financial sense, however, cooperation towarding funding solutions develops regardless if it is determined to be a right, a privilege, or something else entirely. [my emphasis]

Luckily, it makes abundant financial sense. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation determined that under its own plans,

Achieving universal coverage under the Roadmap plans would require between $700 million and $900 million in new government spending, some of which would be federal. While universal coverage would require modest additional state spending, the Commonwealth would also gain an estimated $1.5 billion a year from the direct economic and social benefits of improved health as well as other positive effects on the state’s economy. [my emphasis]

Now, that was under the "Roadmap to Coverage" plan; Neither the House nor the Senate is talking about spending 700-900 million new dollars. But the principle is clear: It's an investment, with the reasonable expectation of a significant return. If we're healthier, we're more productive; we miss less work; we earn more money; we spend more money; we create jobs; and so forth.

And not coincidentally, we're probably all a heck of lot happier.

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 11:30 PM in Health Care, Massachusetts | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Get your Lowell on

In the House brouhaha (ballyhoo, balderdash) from yesterday, Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Lowell) reacted to Rep. Jean Schmidt calling a Bronze Star Marine a coward:

"You guys are pathetic! Pathetic!"

Now that's what I call representation. Thanks Marty. (Say it again if it feels good.)

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 05:47 PM in Massachusetts, National | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

November 18, 2005


Usr5Disapproval of Bush is as American as apple pie -- make that blueberry:

Now, how is it that NY, VT, and RI dislike him even more than eeeevil librul old MA? Jeez, we got some work to do.

Posted by Charley on the MTA at 06:52 PM in National | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)