If you missed the live broadcast, you can catch the reply on YouTube
|WGBH - "The Politics of COVID" (note original title - then changed and reposted to YouTube)|
|WGBH - "The Politics of COVID" (note original title - then changed and reposted to YouTube)|
Democratic gubernatorial race change
"Ben Downing, the Democratic former state senator who staked his gubernatorial bid on progressive policies like universal child care and aggressive climate action but struggled to gain traction in fund-raising, said Tuesday that he is ending his campaign.
Downing, 40, pointed to financial challenges as the reason for dropping out of the race, adding that he made the decision “with a heavy heart.”
“You don’t get into a race with this as the intended outcome or even the expected outcome,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “But I’d like to think and hope we added a little bit to it along the way.”
"REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS, the newest member of the state’s congressional delegation, is finishing his first year in the House. To say it’s been a tumultuous initiation to Congress would be an understatement. His first days in office saw a mob-led insurrection in the Capitol building, and he faced a vote soon after on impeachment of a sitting president.Auchincloss, a 33-year-old Newton Democrat who won the seat vacated by Joe Kennedy, says on The Codcast that the jarring events of his early days in office have cast into sharp relief the natural tension that exists between staying true to the values of the constituents you represent while also working to advance their priorities."
|Auchincloss reflects during The Codcast (audio)|
In his indignant article titled “Politics Sizzles” in The Franklin Observer (10/14/21) Alan Earls complains of—among other things--“one more departure from the traditional ‘non-partisan’ orientation of town elections” in Jennifer Williams’s use of “Act Blue, the national Democratic fundraising system, to gather funds for her candidacy.”
The nonpartisan description of Franklin elections has always puzzled me. Section 5-1-1 of the Town Charter says
"All elections of town officers and Town Council members shall be nonpartisan, and all election ballots shall be printed without any party mark or other political emblem."
What does that mean? The term “nonpartisan” as applied to elections simply means that candidates do not run with partisan labels. It means only that. The candidate will not be identified with a party on the ballot. Nothing more, nothing less.
The more interesting question is what it does NOT mean.
It does NOT mean that candidates cannot belong to a political party.
It does NOT mean that candidates cannot be supported by a political party.
It does NOT mean that candidates cannot use a party’s national fundraising system.
It does NOT mean that candidates cannot be supported by a PAC.
It does NOT mean that candidates cannot espouse the values or policy positions of their party.
Apart from the restriction about party affiliations appearing on the ballot, the nonpartisan clause is merely aspirational. It proscribes no actions beyond the ballot format.
Why does this discussion matter? For two reasons:
First, it makes clear that Williams has done absolutely nothing to violate the Charter’s nonpartisan clause.
Second, it exposes the hypocrisy of “editor” Alan Earls in bemoaning the partisanship in this election when he is himself a candidate and when he is the chairman of the Franklin Republican Town Committee.
Franklin Observer article link for reference -> https://franklinobserver.town.news/g/franklin-town-ma/n/45691/politics-sizzles
October brings two things to mind: politics and baseball.
One historic Franklinite embodies the best of America’s pastime and national service: Eddie Grant. Eddie played baseball for Franklin High School, Dean Junior College, Harvard College, and—eventually—for Major League Baseball (MLB). He even played in the 1913 World Series.
When America entered the war, Grant answered the call to serve. He embodied courage, aptitude, and leadership in combat, and he was the first MLB player killed in WWI. His name is carved in stone on our Franklin Common.
I was thinking about Eddie on August 30th as I crossed the Common to hear comments from Senator Elizabeth Warren. I was surprised when a large group of protestors, donned in blacked, arrived and began shouting her down. I was outraged when they continued chanting through a moment of silence for Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, the Lawrence Marine killed in Afghanistan.
Some things should be beyond the tired left-right divide in this country. Surely those who have sacrificed everything for this country are first on that list. Maybe those hollering and heckling didn’t hear the call for silence, but that’s just the point. We have an important election coming up in Franklin. There are service-minded candidates running. They are Democrats, Republicans, and unenrolled. I may not agree with them on every policy position, but I’m voting for Democratic, Republican, and independent candidates for town council, school committee, planning board, and clerk. But there are also candidates who were clad in black that day in August—those who would shout down rather than join together in commemorative silence.
It’s October. Let’s root, root, root for the Red Sox. Let’s do our research and intentionally select the candidates we support. Let’s VOTE on or before November 2nd. Let’s elect citizen representatives worthy of the legacy of Franklin’s past leaders—especially Eddie Grant.
Terminology is always key. I have told a story that grass is green, Your grass maybe greener than mine or vice versa, but we both know 'green grass'. When it comes to ordering a particular shade of green, the color match becomes critical and the terminology plays more of a role. Emerald green, lime green, dark green... You get the point.
Why have I started this post with a picture of an old telephone? Because I've been thinking a lot lately that what we call a "phone" today is nothing like what we used to call a phone.
I know this is no great revelation, but bear with me for a moment, because I believe there is a strong parallel to be made between this observation and what we are seeing in our current political world, and how we talk about it.
Simply put, we use vocabulary from the past to talk about the present in a way that can, if we are not careful, be very distorting. Much like the powerful computer/camera/reader/flashlight/alarm clock/tracking device we carry around in our purses or pockets has only a tangential relation to traditional notions of the telephone, the nomenclature we use to reference political parties, the courts, and the other institutions of our civic life is equally tenuous.
Democrats, Republicans, moderates, liberals, conservatives - we use these terms as if they are rooted and unchanging in their definitions, like, say, mountains, oceans, or apples. But there is a big difference between the words we use to describe the constructions of human society and those we use for nature. When it comes to how we live and interact, we are agents of increasingly rapid change. We use words to try to create common understandings and tie the present to the past. But broad terms cover up the diversity of the human experience, and how things change over time. People live in "homes" all over the world. But a "house" in one place can be very different from a "house" somewhere else. And certainly our homes today are similar but also very different from the houses of the past.
The conservation of the terms we use for politics distorts how quickly our politics can and has changed. We must remember we are a very young country. Only 245 years (a little over three average modern American lifespans) separates our current time from the Declaration of Independence. For me, at least, that fact never ceases to shock. It resonates how much we have changed, and how quickly.
We need to really think hard about how antiquated some of our descriptions for our current state of affairs have become. Let's start with who makes up the citizenship of our country. It is nothing like what it was, even in the not-too-distant past. We are much more diverse, by any metric you could think of. We are also more urban, more educated, and more mobile. And yet there is a strong bias to think of "average Americans" as those who would be conjured up in decades past. Proof of this can be found in the seeming obsession by the political press to hunker down for interviews with voters in rural diners. These Americans are asked their opinion about the direction of the country a lot more than a young immigrant in the Bronx.
Because political parties are tied to voters, the changes noted above have also led to tremendous change around what it means to be a Democrat and Republican. When I was younger, we talked of the "solid South," which referred to the lock the Democrats had on the Southern states - a legacy of the Civil War. Looking at present political maps, the red-blue divide looks very different. The South is Republican, which again has a lot to do with race and the legacy of the Civil War, except that the affiliation of the political parties has changed.
In 2020, however, Biden won two Southern states - Virginia (which has become an increasingly blue state) and also Georgia. That's because states change as well. Both of those states increasingly have become places that draw an educated workforce to cities and suburbs, and this cohort has become more reliably Democratic voters. So yes we can talk about Georgia and Virginia as part of the South, or even part of the original 13 colonies, but what that means for today is different from what it meant in the past. In a counter example, West Virginia was once one of the most Democratic states in the union and now it is one of the most Republican.
Once one acknowledges all this churn it brings into question some of the other descriptive terminology we tend to use. What really is a conservative, a liberal, a moderate? How can you be a conservative and care nothing about conserving the planet? How can you be called a moderate and do nothing to moderate the greatest assault on democracy in generations? Is it a liberal value to adhere to the science of vaccines?
This idea of conservative and liberal becomes even more strained when we try to apply it to the courts, particularly the current Supreme Court. We talk about the "conservative" justices, as if they are holding back the mobs to protect the sanctity of the Constitution. In reality they are laying waste to settled Constitutional rights and condoning attacks on our democratic process. Doesn't seem very conservative to me.
I would humbly suggest that journalists in particular pay attention to these questions of semantics. Because what you call something matters. It shapes how the public sees reality. The term "liberal" might suggest a movement that is unrestrained, whereas "conservative" might suggest a movement that is secure and grounded. Is that really an accurate portrayal of Democrats and Republicans today? Even the idea of two equal political parties simply vying for votes, Democrats this and Republicans that, is a mischaracterization of what each of these parties has become and how they function. Political parties in our history have had leaders, but they have not been cults of personality. The terminology of a "party" suggests a core set of beliefs, a platform on which candidates run, even if they do not agree on all the issues. But today's Republicans are less a party than a mass movement with fealty to a would-be authoritarian. They didn't even try to produce a platform for the 2020 campaign. Instead, their voters, in a party that long championed "family values," embraced a man who was morally bankrupt. This included a vast majority of white, evangelical voters. Similarly, the party that piously lectured on fiscal responsibility when Democrats wanted to spend money, eagerly opened the checkbook to a grifter.
It is understandable that we seek to hold on to familiar terms to try to make sense of the present. That's how language works. We need some common points of comprehension. And languages do evolve. But it takes time. Right now, we don't have time to sit back and wait. We need to develop the words that accurately describe the dangers we are seeing. We can't let comfortable euphemisms and terminology cloud out the truths of our moment. To try to come up with new ways to describe our politics is not an easy undertaking, but it is a necessary one. If we hope to accurately diagnose what ails us and find solutions rooted in the current reality, we must let go of the definitions of the past.
© 2021 Dan Rather
"If Joe Biden’s security staff are up to the mark, a new report on the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic will be placed on the president’s desk this week. His team was given 90 days in May to review the virus’s origins after several US scientists indicated they were no longer certain about the source of Sars-CoV-2.It will be intriguing to learn how Biden’s team answers the critically important questions that still surround the origins of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Did it emerge because of natural viral spillovers from bats to another animal and then into humans? Or did it leak from the Wuhan Institute of Virology? And, if so, had it been enhanced to make it especially virulent?These are important questions – to say the least. If we want to prevent another pandemic, it would be very useful to know how this one started. However, given the paucity of new information Biden’s team will have unearthed over the past three months – while the Chinese authorities have continued to provide little extra data – it is unlikely hard answers will be provided this week."
From the Boston Globe:
"Given the hierarchical and largely one-party political control of both Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the churn of executive positions is slow. And the behind-the-scenes jockeying for those posts can last years among those angling to hold the job next.Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
But on Thursday afternoon the news came quick, bringing with it a major shake-up in New England politics. First, the word that Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo was President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to serve as commerce secretary. Then 26 minutes later, the scoop from Politico that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was Biden’s pick for labor secretary.
With this week’s pair of Democratic wins in Senate races in Georgia giving them control of the US Senate, confirmation for both Raimondo and Walsh should be assured. The real story, however, will be what their vacancies mean for politics in their home states."
"THE MASSACHUSETTS Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled on Thursday that Gov. Charlie Baker’s various COVID-19 orders were authorized by the Massachusetts Civil Defense Act of 1950, and did not violate the plaintiffs’ due process rights or right to assemble under either the state or federal constitutions. The court’s opinion is superficial and poorly reasoned at best, and intellectually dishonest at worst, and is hardly the end of the matter.
The outcome of the opinion could readily be predicted from its first words, which identified the justice who authored it. Stunningly, that justice during the argument of the case had asked the plaintiffs’ counsel whether he didn’t agree that the governor was doing a good job with his COVID-19 measures. Any first-year law student, and indeed most sentient citizens, would know that the job of a justice ruling on a legal or constitutional challenge to a government measure is not to agree or disagree with any policy underlying the measure, or the results achieved by it, but rather to rule on whether it is indeed legally or constitutionally valid."
SJC got Baker emergency orders case right
THERE ARE AT least two important takeaways from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Desrosiers v. Governor, in which the court upheld Gov. Charlie Baker’s authority to issue emergency orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
First, the court’s conclusion was undoubtedly correct. The plaintiffs argued that the governor had “usurped” the role of the Legislature and violated the state constitution’s commitment to separation of powers, as well as the plaintiffs’ rights to due process and free assembly. At bottom, the plaintiffs maintained that the governor lacked the authority to issue emergency orders under the Civil Defense Act. That law, enacted in 1950, gave the governor the power to issue emergency orders in the event of, among other things, “fire, flood, earthquake or other natural causes.”
"Today the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled for Governor Charlie Baker in a lawsuit underwritten by Charles Koch and sponsored by Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance/Fiscal Alliance Foundation in which MFA sought to undo the governor’s emergency public health powers—just as Covid-19 is raging across the land. It wasn’t close.This was really a case about conflicting ideologies. On one side is the view that government should be empowered to help people to do needed things the people cannot do for themselves (the view of Abraham Lincoln, by the way) versus Koch’s ideology, which is that government should do nothing except to protect private property."
"The Supreme Court repudiation of President Trump’s desperate bid for a second term not only shredded his effort to overturn the will of voters: It also was a blunt rebuke to Republican leaders in Congress and the states who were willing to damage American democracy by embracing a partisan power grab over a free and fair election.The court’s decision on Friday night, an inflection point after weeks of legal flailing by Mr. Trump and ahead of the Electoral College vote for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Monday, leaves the president’s party in an extraordinary position. Through their explicit endorsements or complicity of silence, much of the G.O.P. leadership now shares responsibility for the quixotic attempt to ignore the nation’s founding principles and engineer a different verdict from the one voters cast in November."
"HOUSE REPUBLICANS have faced what amounts to a choice between standing for or against democracy: whether to sign on to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s delusional lawsuit to overturn the presidential election. A large majority of them failed the test. More House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), on Friday signed an amicus brief supporting Mr. Paxton, just hours before the Supreme Court unceremoniously rejected the suit. This is a disheartening signal about what these members of Congress might do on Jan. 6, when at least some Republicans probably will object to the counting of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral votes.
Mr. McCarthy and the other extremists and toadies who have signed their names to President Trump’s antidemocratic plot may think their complicity is costless, because the Supreme Court was bound to reject the Paxton lawsuit, as it did on Friday, and there are enough Democrats on Capitol Hill to foil any GOP mischief during the electoral vote counting. They are wrong. Their recklessness raises the once-unthinkable possibility that a Congress controlled by one party might one day flip a presidential election to its candidate in defiance of the voters’ will, citing claims of mass fraud just as bogus as the ones Republicans have hyped up this year."
"FPAC presents Great Performances...At Home! Tune into our Facebook page at 7:30 pm EST every day this week for a LIVE mini-performance by an FPAC Favorite! Kicking us off tonight: Nick Paone! See you at 7:30!"
|FPAC presents Great Performances...At Home!|
"Former vice president Joe Biden named Jen O’Malley Dillon as his new campaign manager Thursday, a major shake-up that comes as the party’s leading candidate plans an organizational expansion to prepare for the general election.Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
The move is intended to quell concerns raised in recent weeks by senior Democratic strategists about the leadership structure of the Biden campaign, which has been beset by underwhelming fundraising, scant staffing resources and organizational miscues during the early nominating contests.
“She will be a tremendous asset to a campaign that is only growing and getting stronger as we prepare to take the fight to Donald Trump this fall,” Biden said in a statement accompanying the announcement.
The campaign shuffle is an acknowledgment that while Biden has had a remarkable recent run of victories - at least 15 of the past 21 contests - his operation was not up to the challenge posed by President Donald Trump if Biden wins the nomination."
"To get out of the mess we're in, we need a new story that explains the present and guides the future, says author George Monbiot. Drawing on findings from psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology, he offers a new vision for society built around our fundamental capacity for altruism and cooperation. This contagiously optimistic talk will make you rethink the possibilities for our shared future."https://www.ted.com/talks/george_monbiot_the_new_political_story_that_could_change_everything
"Inspired by Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy, and still stunned by Donald Trump’s victory, increasing numbers of Democratic women are diving into Massachusetts politics.
“The national political environment we’re in, that’s the backdrop to every political discussion,” said Lexington resident Mary Ann Stewart, a freshly declared candidate in the upcoming special election to fill the 4th Middlesex seat in the state Senate. “I think it was a huge wake-up call to people.”
Before his win in the presidential election, Trump drew frequent criticism over comments he made about women. On a leaked “Access Hollywood” tape, the future president was caught boasting, in vulgar terms, about groping women. He disparaged a female political rival’s looks, then criticized a former beauty queen’s weight gain.
The 2016 election provided a stark illustration of the uphill climb women face in the world of politics, said Roslindale resident Katie Forde."
|photo of the full page ad with typo on top|
Here's my wish. May one. May the ideals of one boy unite one nation behind one critical idea that we are one people, we are the people who were promised a government, a government that was promised to be dependent upon the people alone, the people, who, as Madison told us, meant not the rich more than the poor. May one. And then may you, may you join this movement, not because you're a politician, not because you're an expert, not because this is your field, but because if you are, you are a citizen. Aaron asked me that. Now I've asked you.http://www.ted.com/talks/lawrence_lessig_the_unstoppable_walk_to_political_reform
According to CNN exit polls, of the 18- to 29-year-old voters, 66 percent of them cast their ballots for Barack Obama in November. And although a majority of students at Franklin High School are not of legal voting age, that minor detail has not stopped some from taking a sincere interest.
"Even though you can't vote, you can still make a difference," said junior Zachary Woodward.
He and classmate Sara LaFlamme recently started up a Young Democrats club at the school and held their first meeting last Thursday.
"I've always considered myself a Democrat," said LaFlamme. "But this election really caught my attention because the two (Democratic) candidates were a woman and a black man. Those are huge steps right there."
She and Woodward went through a number of issues at the meeting, ranging from the economy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and presented the Democratic standpoint of each.
"I really see this club as a portal through which we can channel our ideas," Woodward told the 11 students present. "Just because we can't vote, we still know what's important."
Tina Leardi, a U.S. history teacher and the club's adviser, stressed that a person doesn't have to agree with all Democratic policies to identify with the party.
"I think (the club) is a really good idea," she said. "Kids should be reading the papers, watching the news, and forming their own opinions."
Read the full article on how the interest in politics has risen amongst high school students in the Milford Daily News here
If the voting pattern of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders at Horace Mann Middle School is any reflection of the way the rest of the country will vote today, Barack Obama will win by a landslide.Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here
The final tally: Barack Obama, 329; John McCain, 181; Ralph Nader, 17.
'Our motto today is: `As Horace Mann goes, so goes the nation,''' said sixth-grade math teacher Patricia Metrick, who helped organize the mock election.
"Twenty, 30 years from now, this election's going to be in our textbooks. Their children will be learning about it. It gives (today's students) a chance to participate, even though they're only young adults,'' said Metrick.
Although the school has held mock elections in the past, this was "by far the snazziest, most authentic one,'' said sixth-grade English/social studies teacher Joseph Corey, who directed the video news team yesterday with sixth-grade math and science teacher Noreen Langmeyer.
"They're very excited, they're waiting for their turn to vote,'' Langmeyer said.