Sunday, October 30, 2005

What Will We Tell the Children?

Elementary School Halloween Festivities Cancelled

First there was Fox (so-called)News Channel's "Christmas Under Siege" and now we have the Underwood Elementary School of Newton throwing in with their cancellation of Halloween festivities.

"The school's principal said yesterday he acceded to the complaints of a handful of parents who said that because the school's traditional Halloween celebrations offended their religious beliefs, they would not send their children to school if the revelry continued this year."

For the love of The Great Pumpkin, A HANDFUL of people?! You've got to be kidding! Look, when it comes to what parents want to expose their children to, parents gotta do, what parents gotta do, but this is just flat-out ridiculous. If a few parents have such a fragile belief system that they cannot bear for their children to be exposed to the black, naughty evil that is the average elementary school Halloween celebration, then they should keep their kids home.

On the upside, there will be more candy corn (hmmm...candy corn) for the other kids. Jeez.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ethics? Great. Let's talk ethics.

MyDD blogger quits Does that effect us here in MA?

Jerome Armstrong of MyDD has decided pack it in for the foreseeable future. Basically it has to do with a possible conflict between Armstrong's blogging and his role as a paid political consultant.

Some background on the folks involved.

dKos take on things.

I don't follow the Meta Blogger Beefs too closely because they usually turn into a food fight, but this particular area of blogging ethics interests me so I been observing from afar, and I have these questions:

  • Do bloggers have a responsibility beyond the usual disclaimer that they work for a particular candidate?
  • Does it make a difference if the blogger is paid, or volunteers for a candidate?
  • Is it ethical for a blogger who volunteers or is paid by a candidate to blog bash the opposing candidate, even with the disclaimer, or should a blogger disqualify themselves from blogging about an opposing candidate at all?

Granted, to my knowledge none of these questions are an issue yet for us here in the Massachusetts bloggy-sphere, but as blogging becomes more accepted by the public and by campaigns, it is clear to me that this is a discussion we should be having at some point. The line between advocacy and shilling can be blurry if we bloggers don't pay attention to where that line is.

Here's my story:
Some time ago, I was approached by a campaign about some blogging that I had done. They thanked me for my comments. It's always nice to get feedback, so I didn't think anything of it. Later, I was asked to come to a fundraiser. I didn't think anything of it at the time because as a member of my DTC, and former delegate I get LOTS of invitations to fundraisers, but this one was a bit steep for my budget, so I declined. I'm going to paraphrase what happened next, but the gist of it is that the campaign wasn't really interested in my money. Because of my blogging, they wanted me to attend the fundraiser and mingle with the invited guests and talk up the candidate.


That is SO NOT the reason why I got into blogging. Yes, I am a democrat. Yes, I am a partisan, and I am supportive of certain candidates, but my point is that I do that on MY terms, not theirs. I would imagine that my fellow bloggers' spidey-sense would go off in a similar situation, but my bigger question is: are we obligated to avoid situations like that? Will we eventually see a situation down the road, where bloggers are planted, just to support candidates and causes?

I have too many thoughts.

I hope that we can have a discussion about these issues at the blogging gathering that is in the works for sometime later in the year.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

1st Middlesex District Rep. Race and Dem Meetup News

Last night I had the opportunity to talk to a potential candidate for state representitive. She hasn't officially announced yet, so I'm not going to mention her name just yet, but I am very encouraged to hear that someone is going to run against Rep. Robert Hargraves (R-Groton). In 2004 Rep. Hargraves ran unopposed, and that's just not right. I remember thinking back then, that I would like to get more involved in local politics with the hope that between the towns that make up Rep. Hargraves district (Ayer, Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell and Townsend) we could come up with someone to run against him.

In other candidate news, I also had a chance to stop by the Rt.495/MetroWest Dem Meetup at the Littleton Town Hall. Last night the group hosted a candidate's night with Gerry Leone, candidate for Middlesex DA and Deborah Goldberg, candidate for Lt. Governor. I missed the first part of the meeting so I didn't get to hear Gary Leone, but I made it there in time to see Deb Goldburg. I have only seen her make brief comments before at the DSC meeting in Ayer and at the convention in Lowell, so it was nice to hear her give a longer speech with more details.

I only have a few details to share because as I said before, I got there late, so I had to sit right up front. I always feel funny taking notes so conspiciously, so I just listened, plus Deb kept looking at me, and not in that, "I'm good at public speaking and I know that it's important to make eye-contact" sort of way. She looked at me in a way that made me think I had something on my shirt. So anyway, she made her stump speech. She talked about her family history, and how her family's company, Stop and Shop employed so many people. She talked a bit about healthcare. She wants to put "people first" in her campaign. She talked about her experience as a Selectman in Brookline. She also mentioned several times that we need to elect a business person to the Lt. Governor office. A business person? Really? I know Deb has a degree from Harvard Business School, but I think of her more as a Selectman, so when she said that we need to elect a business person, the first person I thought of was Andrea Silbert. I wonder if that is what other people think?

So after she finished her speech, Deb came right up to me and pointed to my nametag. My last name is difficult to pronounce because there is a silent "g" in the middle that throws people off. So Deb and I had a conversation about how to pronounce Italian surnames that have a "g" in them. At least I didn't have a spot on my shirt.

I think Deb Goldberg is a nice lady, and has a nice manner about her, but I just don't see her as Lt. Governor.

UPDATE: Big ole thanks to Marge at MargeBLOG for pointing out that I mistakenly referred to Rep. Hargraves as a democrat. LOL I guess I really want that seat for the democrats, but wishing doesn't make it so. Not yet, anyway. We have a big job ahead of us here in 1st Middlesex to make that a reality.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)

"To this day I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom." --Mrs. Rosa Parks--

Friday, October 21, 2005

Train In Vain?

Possibly some good news (eventually...) for Central Mass. commuters

From the Sentinel & Enterprise:

A proposal to spend $300 million on upgrades to the Fitchburg-South Acton commuter rail may bode well for local commuters in the future, but plans are still preliminary, MBTA officials said Thursday.

"These are just ideas, but nothing will be implemented without a public process," said Dennis DiZoglio, deputy general manager for planning and development at the MBTA."

This would be great, if they actually pull it off. My hubbin rode the train from Ayer to North Station for a few months, but he gave it up, because the schedule just wasn't convenient and the ride was too long and if he missed the train, which was often because something always comes up at the end of the day, he'd have to wait two hours sometimes for a train. When you're already an hour away from home, tacking an extra two hours to your day just doesn't work.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I still don't care what Shannon O'Brien thinks

Without even a hint of irony, failed 2002 gubernatorial candidate, Shannon O'Brien addressed the "Successful Women" business conference in Leominster.

Former establishment candidate for gov. supports current establishment candidate for gov. No big surprise there.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Answer My Friend, is Blowin' in the Wind?

Deval Patrick was a guest on the Chet Curtis Report last night on NECN. It was a shorter interview than I would have liked but Deval had an opportunity to talk about some important issues.

Deval talked about how underfunding infrustructure in local towns may have contributed to the deterioration of the dam in Taunton. He made a great point about how we need to get through this crisis first, and then take a look at what improvements are needed and what type of maintenance schedule for all dams, public and private is needed. I think he made this point well and didn't come across too bitchy toward Romney.

Deval talked about his support of the wind farm down on the cape. He made this comment on that subject to the Boston Globe:

"We need to get serious about the energy supply and cost issues that are facing us in this country and in this Commonwealth," Patrick said in an interview. ''And I want Massachusetts to show that kind of leadership." ''We can't keep saying we understand the problem of energy cost and supply and the problem of global warming and then refuse to act when we have an opportunity to do so."

I honestly don't know where I stand on this issue. I wholeheartedly support alternative energy sources, but if I spent a ton of money buying property on the cape, I don't think I'd like an endless view of whirlybirds either. The point about having to do something to find energy alternatives is well made - and then actually doing something about it. Cambridge is full of Priuses, but that alone is not going to cut it. Our whole state needs to get behind this.

Here's a couple of great quotes taken from the show:

"We have to give people a reason to vote for a Democrat, not just against Republicans."

"I also think, that, like me, an awful lot of people in Massachusetts are tired of the same old thing and the same old people giving us the same old thing and they're appreciating as I do that if we are really going to seize our future then we need someone who is going to help imagine what that future is like and be a part of that future and that's what I bring."

Deval Patrick
Chet Curtis Report
October 18, 2005

Lemme 'splain

No, there is too much. Lemme sum up:

So, I'm back from "vacation" that was more of a tour of Home Depot and Lowes home stores. (My MiL's trailer needed new sinks) No offense to Floridians, of which my hubbin is one, but for cryin' out loud, could Florida be more humid?! Ugh. I'm convinced the whole place is on top of a hellmouth.

I have been busy trying to get caught up with my schoolwork, so my postings have been spotty recently. I've been reading recently more than writing. Well, unless you count posting at BMG, heh-heh... but seriously... Speaking of Blue Mass Group

Congratulations to Blue Mass Group for reaching their 100,000th unique visitor! We're so lucky here in Mass to have so many great blogs, but BMG is shaping up as the hub of the Massachusetts Bloggy-sphere. Great work, David, Bob and Charley on the MBTA. Check out the other cool Mass blogs at LeftyBlogs.

In other news... Had a great DTC meeting last night. We had a special guest speaker, Faye Morrison, who among many other things is the Regional Coordinator of the Deval Patrick campaign. She came out to talk about Deval and to discuss the upcoming caucuses in February 2006. I am happy to see that some of the folks in my DTC are open to the idea of supporting Deval Patrick. I did not get that feeling leading up to the convention. I look forward to standing corrected. (or something...)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Gone Fishin'

I'll be in Florida until late next week. So head on over to the kickass blogs I mention in my blogroll. Have a great week.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Acton-DFA Wrap-up and Victory '06

DFA Meeting wrap-up

DFA had a good turn out of twelve folks last night at Ken's in Littleton. I wasn't able to attend the last two meetings, so it was nice to be back and visit with everyone.

This month the DFA agenda focused on developing a solid, consistent campaign message. There were some discussions and exercises about developing a message that DFA describes as 27-9-3

27 words
9 seconds
3 points

This is an effort to construct a clear, and concise message. The sample question was: "So, why are you a Democrat?"

27-9-3 Response:
“I believe in right and wrong. It’s wrong to deprive children of health care, to start immoral wars, and to abuse governmental powers. It’s time for what’s right.”.

Personally, I think it's wrong to deprive anyone of health care, not just children, but that's a different DFA meeting, I guess. This is a great idea that DFA has about putting together a clear democratic message, but personally, I tend to focus on positives. I would rather say what I'm for first, rather than what I'm against, but I see the point that DFA is trying to make. I appreciate the work that DFA is doing to get folks the training they need.

Mike C. talked about his experiences as a Victory '06 Precinct Captain. Quick background: Victory '06 is the campaign by the MDP where they are looking for volunteers to walk the precincts in their towns to idenify democratic support, to see how the unenrolled are leaning, or get the unenrolled to switch over to Dem. Mike is offering to train people that are interested.

I have talked about the V6 campaign at my DTC, but no one seemed interested, so I didn't pursue it. Mike C. said that he did mention the campaign to his DTC chair as a courtesy. He didn't leave it to the DTC to take any sort of leadership role, and he recruited people on his own. Mike said that there was only one unenrolled voter that was sorta hostile to him, but not terribly. That's not what makes me nervous about going door-to-door. I'm terribly scared of dogs and here in town, although we do have a leash law, most people just allow their dogs to run. That's the only thing I could see as a potential barrier for me.

I'm going to put up links for V6 and for the Acton-DFA mailing list, as well as the MRDC mailing list. You can always join a list, just to check it out, and if you don't like it, you can always opt out.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Beginners Mind

From Townsend Times columnist Chris Mills

This took me by such complete surprise. There's no way I can describe it better than Chris does, so I'll leave it to him:

I approached the Young Republicans Club at Groton Dunstable High School, to ask if they would consent to an interview. I had in mind writing a piece celebrating the commitment of our youth to politics and government. The answer came back that some students in the club were so offended by what they have read in this column that they were declining the interview.

The hell...?! It makes me sad t think that minds this young can be so closed. Before anyone gets pissy with me, let me honestly say, that I would be just as dismayed, if this was the Young Democrats (who I will be writing about here soon)

In Buddhism there is a concept called "Beginners Mind" That is the wide-open, non-judgemental state our mind is in, right before we clog it up with silly things like certainity and closed mindedness. We can be so certain of our opinions and beliefs sometimes that there is little, or no room for discussion.

Our country is so polarized right now. Especially when it comes to politics. One only needs to spend a few minutes watching the various cable news stations to see how ridiculous things have become. There are no discussions anymore of policy and issues, just shouting matches. Each Talking Head clings so tightly to their opinions as if they were clutching a bag of gold.

It's is sad to see that type of polarization trickle down to the point where it's difficult to talk about politics in any situation. For the Groton Dunstable Young Republicans to rebuff Chris Mills only because he has a different view is a shame. Here is an opportunity to have a dialogue, and share views on both sides, and that opportunity is lost because some people are so threatened by the views of others, that they cannot bear to hear them.

Is that where our country is headed? Are we so partisan now that we won't even talk to people who belong to the "opposing party?" I certainly hope not. We have a lot of work to do here in our state, and in our country. That work needs to be done with the cooperation of both parties and to be able to do that, both sides should try as much as possible to have a "beginners mind" and work together for the benefit of us all.

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." - Shunryo Suzuki-Roshi