Who is playing the part of Richard Nixon circa 1968 in ’16

This is a continuation of my blogpost concerning the similarities to 1968 – only now I am focused on what history and the GOP machinations reveal when they nominate candidates.

1968~ Annus Horribilis Americanus

War, assassinations, riots. Riots about race, riots involving  political protests. Engaged in a war it was evident we were certainly not winning – the Tet Offensive caught our government off guard despite what had been written in the Pentagon Papers, commissioned in 1967 ~ what the Pentagon Papers were to reveal to the American people with their leaking in 1971 was very importantly, and very simply: we, American people, had never been told the truth about the War in Vietnam.

What was released yesterday and read on the Senate floor?

The torture program instituted by the CIA with regard to the ‘War on Terror’ – again, the American people had NOT been told the truth of what had been done in their name.

Within the past 2 weeks we have seen rioting in Ferguson MO ,  although for anyone who was alive in 1968, the riot in Ferguson does make not make a blemish on the face of what occurred in 1968. Yet the motivation behind it was similar – a sense of injustice, a hopelessness that there are 2 sets of justice in this country:one for whites, one for African Americans. [A white police officer was failed to be indicted with many questions hanging over the evidence presented, in addition to a outdated law used as justification for lethal force given to the grand jury, as well as the failure to re-cuse of the Prosecutor, whose father, a police office,r had been killed in the line of duty by an African American.]

Within days of the no indictment in Ferguson Mo, another highly watched case of a African American man from NY being placed in a  NY City Police department forbidden choke hold, died as a result of that choke hold. Although, again, a Grand Jury failed to indict the police officer for excessive use of force.

Protests across America have resulted with many homemade signs proclaiming #BlackLivesMatter. Traffic has been the one thing most affected by these protests. A few people have been arrested, but very little or no known property damage has resulted.

What’s supremely different between the protests about race in 1968 and 2014 is that a significant number of white Americans are taking part in them in solidarity.

We have had a major action taken with regard to immigration recently which has caused as much division as President Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty’ programs( despite their undisputed success – WIC, SNAP, HEAD START, Housing etc).

It is my opinion, that the same people( or their children) who complain[ed] about WIC, HEAD START, SNAP Benefits are still complaining about immigration policies because at some primitive level they see someone else~ people in grinding poverty mind you~ ‘getting’ something they are not.

My reaction?

They should count their blessings and recognize how lucky they are to not need, absolutely not need, that bare minimum of assistance, instead of coveting it in some weird way.

War on Poverty/Immigration

Race/2 tiered Justice system plainly evident – Rudy Guiliani’s daughter didn’t have to be worried about a police officer acting as judge, jury, and executioner when she was caught shoplifting, did she?

Protests marches/ Protest marches reflecting what America looks like

Governmental reports commissioned/released in which it is admitted our government lied in our name


How did Richard Nixon manage to win?

It certainly helped him when a viable 3rd candidate, George Wallace, joined the the pool of candidates.

It certainly helped him that he had ‘name recognition’ and that he had run before( for many offices, sometimes disastrously~ losing the race for California Governor he infamously said ‘You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around any more’); Republicans seem to LOVE and honor those candidates who have run before. Almost a prerequisite for a GOP candidate: must run, must lose, must lose ‘well’, must try again before it  - the nomination of the Party- is bestowed upon you and THEN the chances of victory increase.

Richard Nixon.

Ronald Reagan lost to Gerald Ford then went on to win.

George H W Bush lost to Reagan, served as Vice President, then went on to win again.

Bob Dole – chosen as a Vice Presidential running mate – went on to lose( they like picking in ‘seniority’ order as well)

John McCain – ran, and lost to George W Bush, gets the nomination and loses. See Bob Dole – age forces a ‘benching’.

Mitt Romney – ran, lost. Ran again, gets nomination. Word is circulating that he may run again.

If he does, imo, place your bets on Mitt getting the nod – GOP likes ‘tested’ candidates.

We have a slew of candidates who would prove mighty divisive if they decide to run – they appeal to the base of the GOP.

What’s the base?

Xenophobes, racists, a regional rump Party if you take away the ‘benefits’ of gerrymandering.

A person who makes in a year what the Koch Brothers make in about 15 minutes and who thinks their economic interests align with the Koch Brothers. That’s the base.

The base who looks so weird sitting next to the power brokers on the GOP Convention floor – one extreme to another.

What the GOP wants( forget Chris Christie, forget Scott Walker) and has shown us throughout history is a tested candidate who doesn’t come across as too crazy. So say goodbye to Ted Cruz, Sarah the quitter Palin, and say hello to a person who can look ‘middle of the road’ during a year[s] of upheaval.

So far, it is only 1968 that can be called Annus Horribilis Americanus ~2014  the American people are bringing about awareness without the real divisiveness we saw in 1968. That bodes well for Democrats.

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the ones tapping into the deep well where most of the American say they are when it comes to issues and remedies that pollsters ask about.

I would rather watch that dynamic unfold by far.

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Is Bernie Sanders replaying the role of Eugene McCarthy?

Political pundits across the country at this moment, as 2014 draws to a close, would have us believe that the only contender, only possible person to win the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States in 2016, is former First lady, former US Senator from NY, former Secretary of State of the US, Hillary Clinton.

History, and a certain current US Senator from Vermont would say ….not so fast with that Coronation – umm, excuse me, Nomination.

In 1968, a Democratic Senator from Wisconsin, Eugene McCarthy, threw his political hat into the presidential ring and directly challenged a sitting President of his own political Party, Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Eugene McCarthy announced he was running for President because, he said :

I run because this country is now involved in a deep crisis of leadership – a crisis of national purpose – and a crisis of American ideals. It is time to substitute a leadership of hope for a leadership of fear. This is not simply what I want, or what most of us want. It is, I believe, the deepest hunger of the American soul.

McCarthy made his campaign almost a moral crusade, trying to harness the anti war Vietnam sentiment that was growing, especially among the youth, as well as to re-engage people in the political process.

McCarthy chose to challenge President Johnson in the NH primary and while pundits at that time  gave him nearly no chance at victory, McCarthy came within a few hundred votes of winning that primary over President Johnson, setting into motion a decision by President Johnson at the end of March 1968, to announce at the conclusion of a nation wide prime time speech( which  was primarily concerned with the ongoing war in Vietnam), the following words:

Through all time to come, I think America will be a stronger nation, a more just society, and a land of greater opportunity and fulfillment because of what we have all done together in these years of unparalleled achievement.

Our reward will come in the life of freedom, peace, and hope that our children will enjoy through ages ahead.

What we won when all of our people united just must not now be lost in suspicion, distrust, selfishness, and politics among any of our people.

Believing this as I do, I have concluded that I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing in this political year.

With America’s sons in the fields far away, with America’s future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office–the Presidency of your country.

Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.

1968, as we all know, was seminal year in American history.

It started off with nearly every political sage at that time predicting that LBJ would secure the Democratic Nomination for President of United States.

Yet one Senator challenged that presumption and in doing so, showed the vulnerability of a sitting President; when LBJ took himself out of the race it set into motion another announcement, by another famous politician, to battle Eugene McCarthy for the nomination – Robert F. Kennedy . As well as another, at a later date- Hubert H. Humphrey the then current sitting Vice President.

What does all of this have to do with Senator Bernie Sanders?

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is identified in the US Senate as an Independent and one who caucuses with the Democrats within that legislative body, and who self identifies as a democratic socialist, is seriously considering running as a Democrat to move the political conversation toward economic justice for all. It is a moral discussion he desires, just as Eugene McCarthy desired a moral dialogue dealing with the issues that were front and center in 1968.

Bernie Sanders is speaking to reporters in print, tv, cable,and radio, as well as using every social media tool available to draw attention to the economic injustices that exist in our society, the injustices that permeate our corrupt campaign donation driven government. He speaks a very clear message of what is ill in the body politic and he gives a very clear program of how to deal with the ‘illness’ within our democracy and Republic.

He has traveled to the now seemingly solid Republican South to see if his message of economic populism resonates. According to reports, he has filled the locations in which he has engaged in dialogue with concerned citizens.

He has traveled to the first in the Nation caucus state – Iowa, and again, reports indicate that people are turning out and listening to him and his message and program.

There is a very important point that people should take careful note of – Hillary Clinton came in 3rd in Iowa in 2008, finishing behind Barack Obama and John Edwards.

Most recently Hillary Clinton traveled to Iowa to attend the famous Harkin Steak Fry, an event for which the money raised is to benefit the Iowa Democrats;for her appearance at this event she charge the organizers a $50,000 traveling expense.

Today comes the news that Moveon.org has pledged to spend $1 million dollars to convince US Senator Elizabeth Warren to run in 2016 for the office of President.

Is history is some way repeating itself?

Can Senator Bernie Sanders show the vulnerability of Hillary Clinton as a candidate as Senator Eugene McCarthy did to LBJ?

Let’s not forget that most recent photo of Hillary Clinton speaking to a very empty looking auditorium at Georgetown University.

Is Hillary Clinton stepping into the role of President Johnson in 1968?

If Senator Bernie Sanders does decide to run and he uses a grassroots driven, people to people campaign method that can work in Iowa, and he manages to somehow rock the political world as happened in NH in 1968, will that give Senator Warren a reason to run as it did Senator Robert Kennedy?

History has a funny way of showing things, the ability to absorb ‘lessons learned’ or  even ‘lessons to be avoided’.

Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 race for the Presidency is one we should familiarize ourselves with – there are many lessons to be learned there.



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Certain Hingham Selectmen need to remember what century this Town operates in

It is that time of year when we all start to look for new calendars as this year, 2014, comes to a close.

2 members of the Hingham Board of Selectmen, Chair Irma Lauter and Selectman Paul Gannon, need reminding that 2014, soon to 2015, is in the 21st century. What does being in the 21st century mean when it comes to elected boards?

It means that meetings are recorded on video and can be watched on public access stations as part of your cable package which then get uploaded onto youtube and can be viewed to within a  second of when a contentious issue is brought up. As well as replayed over and over again with the pertinent times noted and the ability to share the clip easily with social media.

While an elected board still must keep official Minutes and Agendas, additionally, the 21st century means websites for States, Cities, and Towns which must publicize Agendas and Official Minutes for those Meetings and do so through the use of the World Wide Web.

Here is where 2 members of the Hingham Board of Selectmen, Chair Irma Lauter, and newest Selectman Paul Gannon, need to recognize the century we all live in.

Many citizens of Hingham watch Board meetings through HCAM, which videotapes meetings. Sometimes the room where the, or any official meeting is being held, look pretty empty of citizens.

Ahhh, but it would be foolish to assume that an empty room means no-one at home is watching.

This past Fall of 2014 the Hingham Board of Selectmen ( Selectman Paul Healey is the 3rd member) found itself with a season-full of youtube accessible cringe-worthy moments.

What the December 4th BOS meeting has shown is that Chair Irma Lauter and Selectman Gannon want to pretend, denigrate, and ignore what actually was said at practically a season full of meetings and rewrite the ‘official’ Minutes to – there is no other word for it – ‘spin’ them, -’Official Minutes’ mind you, no other word for it – in about 10- 12 minutes, citizens of Hingham can watch while 2 elected officials try to ‘spin’ the official Minutes.

Have I mentioned that ‘Official Minutes” are the legal and historic record of what actually occurred at a public Meeting?

Think about that for one second.

By voting to “Accept” the official Minutes – it really doesn’t matter what anyone saw or heard on HCAM.

Whatever we, the citizens of Hingham, actually saw on youtube, or in our home watching public access tv, or in person( and there were meetings this Fall in which people were outside in the hallway at Town Hall because there was no room where the actual BOS was taking place, so many people attended), what we all saw, witnessed, will NOT reflect what was captured by HCAM.

The only thing that will matter, legally, historically, are the voted upon, ‘Accepted Minutes’ of those meetings.

Have I mentioned that HCAM has 2 cameras operating in the room?

Citizens get to see fellow citizens in the audience and their reactions, we get to see the reactions of Board members interacting with one another, get to see when the Fire Chief stands up and reads a statement to the Board detailing how demoralized town employees are after recent votes taken by certain Selectmen and certain BOS meetings,  we get to see our fellow citizens ask for detailed answers concerning a timeline of events, we get to see our fellow citizens express the need for restitution,we get to see how often the Board goes into Executive Session( or tries to), are able to see how long it takes for a certain Selectman to second a motion when he is practically begged by another Selectman to ‘end’ a disgraceful witch hunt. Can you say pregnant pause? I can. I can write it as well. With an HCAM youtube clip – you can time that pregnant pause too. Trust me, it was not an automatic ‘second’ ~ a man’s job pretty much hung in the balance until that ‘second’ was uttered.

Meeting after meeting, seemingly all Autumn of 2014 long, every little and big debate, gesture, and sigh caught on camera.

This December 4th 2014 Hingham BOS meeting really takes the cake in my view.

In about 10 minutes,beginning at the 1:55 mark and ending at the 11:58 point watch as 2 elected members try to rewrite history, denigrate in a subtle way HCAM, pooh-pooh what ‘official Minutes’ are, and then, try to insert into  the record a document that was not introduced at the Meeting in question.

Full disclosure: I am endorsing and volunteering for Mary Power for Hingham Selectman come May 2015.

I do so because I want a Selectman who has integrity, a deep knowledge of how town government works> Mary is the present Chair of the Advisory Board, and for the good of Hingham.

I want to see the focus return to what’s really important for Hingham as the 21st century continues to unfold.

I want to see an end to pitting special interest against special interest and to have elected officials remember we are one town and that we all move forward together.

With respect for all who live and work in this community.

Generations of volunteers in this community have worked assiduously to build a community with a strong economic foundation. The Town enjoys the benefits of a Triple A Bond rating. Leaders have worked to develop  respectful relationships with town employees.

Most especially I want a Selectmen who respects the process of government. A Selectman who recognizes what the proper role of that position truly is and can navigate, avoid, and certainly not create obstacles in how government should function.

It may be slow at times, but by being slow, it is transparent and it that engenders respect for the institution of government.

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The reason why Don Berwick is not known to 71% of the public:did not start out with basic tools of politics

I’ve been at many  political events at which Don Berwick was present trying to garner support from activists.

He makes a good case in person for his candidacy. He is one of 3 good candidates running in the Democratic Primary  for Governor which is fast approaching.

What he lacked, from the start, and I am speaking of: like the day AFTER he decided to run for political office, were the tangible items activists walk out of an event with in their hand: a bumper sticker, a button. A brand that can be shown and displayed to get the public, otherwise known as our friends and neighbors,  just who it is that a known activist is supporting.

Those little items get those conversations going that are the building blocks to getting name recognition.

I saw him in Scituate back in the late Fall of ’13. No bumper stickers then, and what was/is even more shocking  to me now was that no bumper stickers were available at the caucuses held in February when he had already gotten support from my fellow caucus goers, soon to be fellow delegates.

When 3 of us, all delegates, travelling together arrived in Worcester for Friday evening’s opening gavel, we saw signs – signs galore on the street outside the DCU Center. For every other candidate. We saw homemade signs for Don Berwick but we had to search for them, actively look to see if there was any visibility for him, it was that hard to spot. Those individuals who had made homemade signs for Don Berwick were scattered and hard to locate Friday night around 5pm in Worcester.

This really is not suppose to be an anti Don Berwick blog post.

This blog post is being written so that political consultants, activists, recognize that while many advances have been made through data mining and direct voter contact, we cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater: branding, bumper stickers, buttons, signs, and visibility have a role to play, if only to just start the conversation that we must have with our neighbors.

71%  of voters contacted,according to the recent Globe poll, say that Don Berwick is not known to voters and I am suggesting that a little money spent on small items way back in ’13 could have gone a long way to get that number way down.

Call not using these ‘basic political tools’ my pet peeve.

I will finish by saying good luck to all running.

We have a good selection of Democratic candidates to choose from and most of them know that ‘basic political tools’ are important.

I would love an election where all of the candidates recognize this political reality.

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Jimmy Carter’s new book ” ‘ A Call To Action’ Women, Religion, Violence, and Power” echoes John Winthrop’s phrase “A City Upon a Hill” for the 21st Century

How many times have we heard Boston, then America, referred to as “A City Upon a Hill”?

Many times if you’re a New Englander like me. And if you follow history through the speeches of American Presidents, you have heard it a number of times within the past 50+ years.

Where did it originate?

John Winthrop spoke the phrase in a sermon he gave to his fellow Puritans as they sailed upon the ship Arbella and who would soon settle what would become known as the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The sermon Winthrop gave was entitled ‘A Model of Christian Charity’. Relying heavily upon biblical text a review  and purpose of Winthrop’s sermon can be found here.

As well as here.

This is key to understanding why it has resonated, from Winthrop’s sermon:

Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck and to provide for our posterity is to follow the Counsel of Micah, to do Justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God:for this end, we must be knit together in this work as one man, we must entertain each other in brotherly Affection, we must be willing to abridge our selves of our superfluities, for the supply of others necessities, we must uphold a familiar Commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality, we must delight in eache other, make others Conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labour, and suffer together, always having before our eyes our Commission and Community in the work, our Community as members of the same body, so shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, the Lord will be our God and delight to dwell among us, as his own people and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways…: for we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world, we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the way of God and all professors for God’s sake; we shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into Curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whether wee are going:

 When John F. Kennedy addressed the Massachusetts General Court on January 9th 1961, just before he left to be Inaugurated President of the United States, Kennedy referenced Winthrop’s sermon and how it has impacted the history of this Commonwealth and how he hoped to shape his Presidential administration-:

During the last sixty days, I have been at the task of constructing an administration. It has been a long and deliberate process. Some have counseled greater speed. Others have counseled more expedient tests.

But I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arbella three hundred and thirty-one years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a new government on a perilous frontier.

“We must always consider,” he said, “that we shall be as a city upon a hill–the eyes of all people are upon us.”

Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us–and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill–constructed and inhabited by men aware of their great trust and their great responsibilities.

For we are setting out upon a voyage in 1961 no less hazardous than that undertaken by the Arabella in 1630. We are committing ourselves to tasks of statecraft no less awesome than that of governing the Massachusetts Bay Colony, beset as it was then by terror without and disorder within.

History will not judge our endeavors–and a government cannot be selected–merely on the basis of color or creed or even party affiliation. Neither will competence and loyalty and stature, while essential to the utmost, suffice in times such as these.

For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each one of us–recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state–our success or failure, in whatever office we may hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions:

First, were we truly men of courage–with the courage to stand up to one’s enemies–and the courage to stand up, when necessary, to one’s associates–the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed?

Secondly, were we truly men of judgment–with perceptive judgment of the future as well as the past–of our own mistakes as well as the mistakes of others–with enough wisdom to know that we did not know, and enough candor to admit it?

Third, were we truly men of integrity–men who never ran out on either the principles in which they believed or the people who believed in them–men who believed in us–men whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust?

Finally, were we truly men of dedication–with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and compromised by no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest.

Courage–judgment–integrity–dedication–these are the historic qualities of the Bay Colony and the Bay State–the qualities which this state has consistently sent to this chamber on Beacon Hill here in Boston and to Capitol Hill back in Washington.

And these are the qualities which, with God’s help, this son of Massachusetts hopes will characterize our government’s conduct in the four stormy years that lie ahead.

Humbly I ask His help in that undertaking--but aware that on earth His will is worked by men. I ask for your help and your prayers, as I embark on this new and solemn journey.

When Jimmy Carter was Inaugurated President of the United States he took the Oath of Office with his family bible opened to Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

What is the common theme here?

It is very evident: to act justly, with mercy, humbly, to do God’s will as revealed to the human heart.

With the publication of his newest book, Jimmy Carter is once again channeling John Winthrop and calling upon ALL the world’s religions  with “A Call To Action” to recognize that women, all over the world, are being treated unjustly in many, many ways by selective use of religious texts from ALL religions, as well as to excuse the violence waged against women, by men, with power.

Jimmy Carter is calling it the great movement left unfinished in his lifetime.

To achieve justice for women around the world.

This book should be required reading for all people running for office, especially in Massachusetts in 2014 – which should still strive to be~ That City, A City Upon a Hill.

Increasing the Minimum Wage so that it becomes a Living Wage;Earned Sick Time so that people may get well without fear of losing their jobs; Violence against women who attend college – so much more likely to be raped than women who do not attend college – Carter has all the startling statistics, and they are startling, and since our State prides itself upon being the city and state renowned for some of the best colleges and universities in the world, what does that say about how women’s voices are kept silent?

Helping those in dire need of help – making mental health equal in delivery with the rest of the health care system.

Rethinking our system of incarceration – is it not shocking that it was mere days ago that our State Legislature just ‘unshackled’ women prisoners who were in the process of giving birth? 2014? Massachusetts- City Upon a Hill?

Power – when women are not encouraged to run for public office, when the ‘City Upon a Hill’ is filled with men who do not recognize the injustices being waged upon women and families, then it is time to challenge that power, demand answers, bring awareness.

Buy the book, attend a forum, demand answers from those who would represent us, and then judge and elect those who would best act justly, love mercy, and who would walk humbly with universally recognized values to achieve human dignity.


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South Shore Progressive is a local Chapter of Progressive MA; our outreach has been done primarily with speakers to develop awareness and provoke a dialogue within the region

Tomorrow Evening, March 26th @7 pm, South Shore Progressive is delighted to be the host of a lecture to be given by Maxine Neil. Ms. Neil will be speaking on the the topic of inequality and how by being an informed consumer, as individuals, we can reconcile that through “Compassionate Consumption and Workers’ Rights.”( title of her lecture) we can achieve justice. Maxine Neil from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, an international human rights organization. South Shore Progressive Mass is committed to presenting opportunities for the community to learn about and further discuss serious issues.
Economic justice is essential for securing basic human rights. Recognizing that workers’ rights are human rights, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is committed to defending and supporting living wages, fair trade, and workers’ right to organize — and each individual is essential to these efforts. Consumers have the power to make a difference in the lives of workers every day when they choose services and products that align with values of justice and equality. UUSC’s Choose Compassionate Consumption (CCC) initiative helps all of us figure out how to do that.
Take the U.S. restaurant industry, one of the fastest growing sectors with the lowest paying jobs. Sustainable food and ethical eating means more than local and organic — it also means sustainable wages and working conditions for food workers. Current industry norms are unacceptable: gender inequality, racial discrimination, no paid sick days or health insurance, and a tipped minimum wage that has been stuck at $2.13 per hour for more than 20 years.
Food workers deserve more than scraps, and consumers can be part of changing the industry by encouraging the restaurants consumers frequent to do right by their workers. Fair conditions for food workers — raising the minimum wage, ensuring basic benefits — are not incompatible with thriving restaurants, successful business owners, and happy customers. Come and learn how you can help secure important rights for workers in this industry. Everyone is welcome to the event.
Maxine Neil is the Director of the Institutional Advancement Department at UUSC since 2007. She is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Please attend this opportunity to learn about a growing systemic problem, how to address it, and how each person has it within them to affect change and economic justice. There are bills before the Massachusetts House and Senate at this present moment that can be fined tuned to protect workers and we can discuss aspects of where the bill/Raise Up petition currently stands on Beacon Hill.

Wednesday March 26th Hingham Public Library at 7 pm. All are welcome.

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Deadline fast approaching for certified signatures needed for candidates to get on MA ballot

Every November of an election year, without fail, it will either be said to me,with the person knowing I am a political activist, or I will overhear it:”Ughh, why can’t there be more of a CHOICE of candidates to choose from on the ballot?”

The minute I hear that question or a variation of that question, I immediately think – ‘I am dealing with a “C” or a “D” voter’.

What does that mean?

Just like a credit rating, voters are rated.

Yes, fellow citizens, you have been assigned a ‘civic grade’. You get that grade from the time you have registered to vote.

You start out batting a 1000% when you register and then, when and if you miss elections~any election : local, state, federal, city, ballot, could be Town Meeting or Special Town Meeting or a Primary, or Special Elections – you miss any of these, and your ‘grade’, your ‘civic grade’ as a voter, as a citizen starts falling. You ‘civic grade’ gets mediocre.

Voting is a matter of public record. All campaigns know your voting history.

Let me re-emphasize that: ALL campaigns know how frequently you as a voter have voted throughout your life( to be really technical campaigns assign voter ID numbers on computer programs for outreach purposes).

They do not know who you have voted for, but they know you did, and when you did, and you have been assigned a grade – a rating: “A” voter – you would go and vote whether to open an envelope. My fellow activists and I fall under this category.  ”B” voter – you tend to vote in primary and general elections and you may go to a Town Meeting if an issue moves you once in a while, but years could pass by before you attend another one, yet you are prized – getting your support is key to any candidates’ election strategy. “C” voter, you might come out and vote for the general election every 4 years and if a campaign can ‘turn you out’ during a Primary – that could be the difference between winning and losing. Your support is key as well if the field is crowded with candidates. “D” voter – you tend to vote only during Presidential Election years. As for “F” – well, I will say this – do not ever complain to me about current events if I find out you have never voted.

Why is this important?

This year, on the Democratic side, we have a plethora of candidates running for office – all good candidates. I can attest to that – I have been elected a delegate to the Massachusetts Democratic State Party Nominating Convention( more on that in a second) and I have met them.

In order for you, the voter, whatever your civic grade is, to see the names of these candidates on the Primary ballot, you have to sign their nomination papers.

To run for Governor, Lt Governor, and Attorney General in MA – you need 1o,ooo certified signatures.

To run for Secretary, Treasurer,  and Auditor in MA – you need 5000 certified signatures.

To run for all County positions: 1000 certified signatures.

To run for St Senator – 300; St Rep. – 150 – all certified.

In addition – for the statewide offices – to get on the ballot as a Democrat, all of those candidates running for statewide office NEED to achieve 15% support of the delegates who were elected at the local caucuses that were held beginning in February and lasted into the beginning of March as well as ex- officio delegates  such as Town Committee Chairs,Democratic State Committee people, Democratic office holders such as Mayors, St. Senators, and State Reps. Additionally, people can apply to be add-on delegates for specific categories: youth, minority etc, bringing the total to somewhere around 6000 people attending the Nominating Convention. 15% of that total. On the first ballot. Not easy. It is a big hurdle.

If they FAIL to get either the number of certified signatures required, OR, FAIL to receive 15% of the delegates support at the Nominating Convention, you will not see their name on the ballot.

So when you see people with clipboards standing outside supermarkets, libraries, at the town ‘transfer stations’, outside Town Meetings, at Malls, please, please, PLEASE take the time to sign these nomination papers.

You will be giving yourself a choice in September during the Primary and you can stop the complaining, that there is ‘never any choice’.

We have plenty of good choices this year and all it takes is your signature to insure that.

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MA Democratic Caucus Season comes to an end~ fun is just beginning

There are a lot of candidates running for statewide office. Important offices. The candidates are pretty solid, have great narratives, great resumes, but the real story is how many delegates and alternates are keeping ‘mum’ about their preferred choices.

So the hunt for delegates continues and that means at every regularly scheduled political event that in off years, meaning no elections, it is nice to reconnect with old friends, such as this weekend’s annual Plymouth County Democratic League St Patrick’s Day Dinner at Pembroke Country Club, that subdued atmosphere in an off year while fun, can become a little frenzied in a year like this one when races for Governor, Lt Governor, Attorney General and Treasurer are wide open and contested.

It will be glad handing all around and politicians and their aides will have eagle eyes trained on suit jackets and scarves – is that a button signifying support for a candidate? Note will be taken. A name crossed off or checked. This is going to happen from now until June at every event at which candidates appear, forums, breakfasts:the voter looking and listening, the candidates looking for the buttons, the bumper stickers in the parking lot. It feels that close that looking for outward support will probably have a defined role for an aide or an intern.

Every button and bumper sticker is taking on mystical qualities~the lack there of, nerve racking .

Look for photos that I will be taking trying to find those signs of support on Saturday March 8th 2014 @ 6pm at Pembroke Country Club – I will post them here. www.Plymdems.com for tickets

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Maybe it’s because we are from New England that we understand what the spoiled brat contingent did to the US government

We understand what the Tea Party did, and the full ramifications of their actions because what is the House of Representatives but Town Meeting writ large?

What they did was throw a temper tantrum of gigantic proportions regardless of the consequences or impact on their fellow citizens because voters approved a law, ~ to bring it into the analogy I am making, approved a Warrant Article , which a small subset of voters disapproved of so vehemently that despite elections and challenges and being affirmed by the Courts was on it’s way to being enacted.

For those that need a concrete example, I will turn to my hometown of Hingham: voters approved at Town Meeting last year the construction of lights and the refigurement of the High School fields. The construction project has not been without it’s problems and controversy, and while it it is near completion, it might not be completely finished if the weather decided to throw a spanner into the work, delaying a ‘finished project’. Say, an early consistent ‘winter’.

Imagine for one moment that the side that ‘lost’, the side that did not want the lights or reconfigurement of the fields decided to attend the next Town Meeting and refused to approve the budget for the WHOLE TOWN unless the half finished project was stopped.

( For this analogy to work, one has to pretend for a second that the advent of cell phones has never happened – bear with me -thanks)

Enough organized voters show up to Town Meeting and literally say: stop this project or there will be no government in Hingham: no police , no fire department, no library, no schools in session, no recreation commission, no Highway department, no transfer station – NOTHING will be funded.

Naturally, some of the other voters who are present at Town Meeting are appalled. Possibly some who may have not supported the project, but who respected the ‘process’ which saw the approval of the project, who are faithful Town Meeting attendees, even THEY are appalled. But they find they cannot stop this crazy train BECAUSE those that are determined to stop the project organized themselves and showed up.( No cell phones to call friends and say”get over here, we need you! – let’s pretend it’s 1960) and those that got the project passed in the first place decided not to attend Town Meeting the following year – well that’s what happened in 2010.

In 2010, Democratic voters stayed home, and didn’t bother to vote.

2010 wasn’t just ANY election year, it was a ‘redistricting’ year and those agitated, upset,voters, the voters who literally hate the law and the President who proposed it so much that they would destroy the government itself to strip it away – The “Tea Party’ ideological loons, got themselves elected and they have zero respect for the process of government.

They have an ideological agenda and they literally do not care who gets hurt in the pursuit of it.

But the other side is not guiltless in this because, by not voting, by staying home in 2010, that decision of apathy produced a vacuum which the Tea Party filled. And we have to deal with the consequences for years because of the impact of redistricting: they gave themselves nearly perfectly safe districts which we all saw when the votes were counted in 2012 – the Democrats received a million more votes for House politicians but control still rests with the GOP with their subset of loony Tea Party Congressmen.

The moral of the story is: show up.

Show up to vote.

Show up to Town Meeting.

When apathy sets in, rot seeps in.

We are seeing the rot in action.

If you, or someone you know didn’t vote in 2010, only shows up once in awhile at Town Meeting, this it the nightmare result…or could be locally.[There is a mechanism to correct something this crazy locally - a Special Town Meeting, but even if one were to be called, there are still effects to shutting down government even for a short time: crime could descend, fire break out, heath issues could arise if the transfer station were closed for a length of time;....there is no comparable mechanism aka "Special Town Meeting" at the federal level]

Those that didn’t vote in 2010 need to acknowledge their role in this disgusting spectacle.

And I haven’t even mentioned how this same rot is working feverishly to deny people access to voting – that, denying and limiting voting is working hand and hand with gerrymandering to lock in this rot.

This is a sad day in America.

We should all realize that voting always matters, respecting the process is vital, and nihilism has no place in America.

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Political life in MA is never boring~ risk for overload of information

Since the end of August, less than 3 weeks ago, voters across the United States have  watched, bemused, as our Nation’s leaders ramped up rhetoric and readiness for a military strike against Syria due to the fact that chemical weapons were deployed during that country’s Civil War.

In a matter of days, our ally, Great Britain, was forced to bow out of what the political leaders in what amounted to NATO, had promised voters would be a ‘limited military strike’ against the government of Bashar Al Assad of Syria to send a message that the use of chemical weapons had crossed what President Barack Obama had  characterized last year  as a ‘red line’ that could not be tolerated.

A funny thing happened on the road to that ‘limited military strike’: Members  of Parliament demanded to vote on this measure, and once the Prime Minister, David Cameron( leader of a coalition government), agreed to put this to debate and a vote, the unthinkable happened: he lost. He lost members of his own Conservative Party, plenty who voted NO and many who failed to vote. He lost members of the Liberal Democrats  whose support is crucial as part of his ‘coalition’ in the same manner: some who voted NO and some who failed to vote.

That NO vote by Parliament sent a shock wave across the Altantic.

It woke up Members of Congress who had no desire to answer constituents’  basic question during Town Hall meetings regarding why they, Congressmen and women, could not vote on this issue as Members of Parliament had done. It was completely bi-partisan. Letters circulated among Members of Congress demanding that Congress be called back into session as to debate this action as Parliament had done.

Secretary of State John Kerry seemingly daily asserted the right of the President to move unilaterally on this issue without Congress’ approval. It looked as if the US was set to act upon that ‘limited military strike’ when the President stepped into the Rose Garden, and while echoing that assertion that he could  act unilaterally without approval from Congress, he ‘decided’ that it would look better if Congress supported this action in concert with his plans.

A funny thing happened to that ‘plan’: the American people flooded Capitol Hill with the message that no-one wanted another act of war committed in the Middle East on another country by American forces where there was zero admitted direct threat to the United States. Additionally, Members of Congress were leaving classified briefings and were expressing to reporters that the briefings were leaving them with more questions than answers. It appeared as if every time Secretary of State John Kerry testified before a Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, more and more votes were melting away from supporting the President’s plan to strike.

In the midst of this debate, the President travelled to Sweden for the G-20 Summit and  we have been told that while there, he and Vladmir Putin of Russia had serious discussions concerning Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry made a flippant remark claiming that Syria’s government could give up all it’s chemical weapons, but that ‘wasn’t going to happen.’ Russia said….not so fast, maybe we can help make that happen. And  just this past weekend high level talks between Secretary of State Kerry and his counterpart from Russia seemed to have yielded positive results that may actually be measured by 2014 for the removal of those weapons from Syria.

How does all of this affect Massachusetts voters?

We witnessed our newest US Senator, Ed Markey, announce that he would be a NO vote after receiving all the briefings he said he needed, and had not gotten, which had led to his PRESENT vote in the Foreign Relation Committee which voted on the amended AUMF.

We are witnessing our senior Senator, Elizabeth Warren, having such an impact in Washington that the President’s choice for the next head of the Federal Reserve, Lawrence Summers, has withdrawn his name – she has publicly led the effort to stop Summers’ nomination. While she might not get the person she wants, Janet Yellen, for the post, the fact that Summers was stopped cold speaks to Warren’s willingness to speak truth to ‘power’ – even if that ‘power’ is a President of her own Party.

We are in the middle of a rapidly escalating Boston Mayoral race: more and more debates and forums and gatherings are ramping up in anticipation of the upcoming Primary which is a few short days away in political terms.

In the races for statewide offices – voters have registered that there is a ‘controversy’ concerning an announced candidate for Governor, State Senator Dan Wolf of the Cape and Islands district, and perhaps have an inkling that the ‘issue’ is of his candidacy( is he ethically ‘barred’ from running for and being elected to political office due to his line of work and ‘dealings’ with a statewide agency);his very occupancy of his State Senate seat, is far from settled.

Voters are probably aware that there are others ‘running for Governor,’ among them – for the GOP – the person who lost 4 years ago, Charlie Baker, who claims that voters did not see the ‘real’ Charlie…..really? Who did we see 4 years ago? Charlie McCarthy?  That prompts the question : then who was playing Edgar Bergen?

We have Steve Grossman running for Governor which now opens the Treasurers Office for people to run for that elected office. We have a couple of doctors running for Governor: Joe Avellone and Don Berwick who probably thought that once Labor Day came and went, as well as the Boston Mayoral race was finishing up, voters would start to re-focus on the state wide races. Additionally, over the summer, a woman most Democratic activists who attend Democratic State Conventions[disclaimer - I  have attended, oh the past 7 or 8] are completely unfamiliar with besides the fact that she would sometimes write a column for the Boston Globe and is considered an expert in Homeland Security:Juliette Kayyem, ~ threw her hat in the proverbial political gubernatorial ring. She as well, no doubt wanted voters home from summer vacations and finished up with the Boston’s Mayor’s race.

What happens today? With rumors circulating all weekend?

Martha Coakley, the Attorney General of MA,  who, in 2010, infamously lost to a ‘relatively’ unknown GOP State Senator by the name of Scott Brown for the US Senate seat left vacant by the death of Ted Kennedy,  has decided  that NOW, she wants to be Governor instead. Which will leave her office of Attorney General ‘open’ as well.

Meanwhile, there is a concerted effort on the South Shore, of which I am actively involved and a founding member – of the new group South Shore Progressive Massachusetts. This group is to be issue oriented and our Inaugural Meeting is set for the evening of September 26th, 2013 at 7pm at the Cohasset Public Library. We have a full agenda to discuss the purpose of the group and issues that we would like to bring attention to.

Feeling overwhelmed  politically yet?

Never mind that the Red Sox are now compelling attention as the baseball season winds down……..despite all the news which is coming at the electorate fast and furiously we trust that people are ready to engage politically as Autumn unfolds and Winter approaches.

Stay tuned~ it is never boring to be from Massachusetts when it comes to sports, or politics, and the statewide races for 2014 promises to be a doozy of a year.


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