Tag: politics

A political epiphany about Providence

It has been percolating along in my head for weeks now. I call Providence a half measure or in the more common vernacular a half ass city. In my meeting with City Councilor Bryan Principe and Representative John J. Lombardi yesterday the focus became a bit more clear.

The All Politics are local meme emerged and that’s all well and good. But what emerged was that the east side of Providence is the ruling class simply by dint of being the biggest voting and most consistent voting block in the city. Meanwhile overall voting in the Federal Hill/Broadway/West End areas is pitifully low. And the south side is worse than that. All total only about 1/4th of the people in those areas votes consistently. I’m one of them.

But I wonder why there is so much voter apathy. Don’t people realize that by voting in their neighbors and make no mistake, my elected representatives are in fact my neighbors.

I guess people get turned off every time a sitting politician gets caught up in legal troubles. Or not knowing what it takes to run – the fundraising, phone calls, emails, etc. that comprise a modern campaign even for city councilor. The ones who did figure it out sit on the council or in the State House today. Or we worked on political campaigns. I’ve done two gubernatorial campaigns so far. Perhaps I’ll do a mayoral someday – maybe organize the south side of the city.That would be fun.

And I ask myself how did I end up knowing how the game works? It’s pretty simple – I recall as a kid I was exposed to it every election season. My grandfather and father were very politically active. So it’s no wonder I exercise the same right. I grew up in the 4th ward and recall the dinners and more to the point the schools I went to made sure we got exposed to politics at lunches and dinners. I recall the food being mediocre and the conversation being pretty dull. But all that gelled into my young mind.

It’s important that you at a minimum know how to reach out to elected officials. If only to make your life a little easier. In my case I walk to the train every morning and having uncleared sidewalks is a major pain in the ass. So I of course know a little email directed to the right target gets it done. As an example I noticed the sidewalks after the GTECH building on Francis street east were never cleared. I figured out who the councilor was, sent him and email and next day the sidewalks bordering Waterplace park were down to cement. And now every time it snows there’s a DPW crew out there clearing it at 6 in the morning. Now I know it wasn’t just me experiencing the problem but as I’ve posted before when I get put out I get vociferous. And I have the wherewithal to know how to contact those people. I prefer email because email at least keeps a written record in your sent folder.

Let’s put it this way – our local elected officials need to hear from us regularly. And around here particularly in election seasons you cannot help but to bump into those elected folks.

So what I think we need to do in every ward outside those on the east side is to break voter apathy.  Maybe encourage sitting Councilors, Representatives and Senators. Send them into the schools to do assemblies or visit classrooms and talk about their positions. And by golly hold a spaghetti dinner every now and again. Bring the kids. This is something they need to know.

The Roosevelts on PBS – and what’s wrong with politics today

So I’ve been watching the PBS Series on the Roosevelt family. And one part of it struck me.

Both Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt came from old money  and understood the concept of noblesse oblige. In fact the last time we saw similar in the United States was John F. Kennedy. Everything after that not so much.

So the problem – is the Nouveau Riche – or more to the point their descendants today. I’m speaking of course of the Koch brothers and others like them in congress. They come from their parents money and so have no sense of noblesse oblige. Instead it’s that 80’s mindset of greed is good, of the Paris Hiltons, and the brats of the rich. It’s all about them and fuck everyone else. That is exactly what’s wrong with the United States. And of course the corporate interference in government vis a vis money is speech is a big problem too.

But the thing to keep in mind about the rich brats – there are a whole lot more of us than there are of them. It’s just how do we motivate the rest of the population of the U.S. to rise up against them? At this point they’ve no captured both houses of the legislature at both the federal and local levels.

And of course the Tea Bagger/Tea Party is being lead along by corporate interests – and will in fact vote against their own self interest.

Why is that the case? I’ll explain – we don’t really educate kids in the U.S. One thing we leave out is the critical thinking skills. Fortunately for me – I received a pretty good education in Catholic schools for the first twelve years. And it included what I would call back then subversive critical thinking skills.

But I am aware that public schools in the United States are controlled by political whim. And it is in the interest of the Plutocracy to keep the kids just smart enough to do the job, but not smart enough to wonder why. So I think at the foundation if we want to get the country back, we have to start with education. Give kids the ability to see through political double speak and the corporate plutocracy will end.

Today’s Event

So this morning (Oh gosh – I completely spaced on it too!) I got to go to an even put on by Generation Citizen at the Rhode Island State House. Candidate for Governor Todd Giroux (D) was one of the judges. 

It was funny – the rubric used  was familiar. I’ve seen variations of it doing program reviews. Each of the judges had four projects to judge. 

But one thing that was said by the candidate struck me. He said maybe some of those same kids might serve someday. I shot him down and explained that a high majority of those currently serving either graduated from LaSalle Acadamy I.e. My alma mater or Classical which is a Public Entrance Exam Required School or any of the Saint or Lady of schools. Very very few are public school graduates per se that are in the legislature. 

Kind of sad when you look at it that way but it’s the way the cookie crumbles. There will always be a ruling class and a plebe class. It’s represented in everything we do around here. It’s funny I got educated in the ruling class schools but I much prefer king maker to king. I just realize the amount of shit you have to take as an elected representative. 

And one of the folks from Generation Citizen – look my gaydar is broken but this guy, yeah. Off the scale! He looks a little like someone I went to high school with but he’s too young to be that person though. Maybe the son of a former classmate. 

Women’s Fund Gubernatorial Debate in RI

So this evening I attended the Women’s Fund Gubernatorial Debate along with candidate Todd Giroux.

All the candidates were there both Democrat and Republican. Now for my observations:

Todd Giroux (D) – He does need to smooth the act out a little bit. It’s why I recorded all his answers so we can post mortem again. But he is still in my opinion the only gubernatorial candidate with a plan.

Ken Block (R) – if he wasn’t a Republican I’d likely be in his camp. We’re both I.T. guys and he is a pretty good story teller.

Gina Raimondo (D) – he staff must be telling her to stop using the emphatic hands bit. Almost though I saw her sitting on her hands for a moment there.

Allan Fung (R)- current mayor of Cranston, RI. And I thought his name rang a bell. He and I both served at the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General at the same time. Didn’t strike me as a remarkable prosecutor.

Angel Taveras (D) – current mayor of Providence, RI. He and Fung attended the same high school which I suspect was Classical. I almost made a comment vis a vis that oh you Classical people, can’t hold a candle to we LaSalle boys.

Herbert ‘Clay’ Pell – He gave the most bizarre parting remarks about he LGBT community, etc. It was the WTF moment of the evening.

Did get to meet Ernie Almonte who is running for treasurer too.

Come to think of it the only one whose hand I didn’t get to shake was Gina Raimondo. She arrived late – that’s probably why. But I am a firm believer in the idea that politics should in fact be a contact sport. Wherever I go – one of the first things I do is get to know the politicians. Hell, might as well know the lay of the land so to speak.

Let’s Play Rate the Democratic Candidates for Governor in Rhode Island

We’ll start with the Democrats. Ratings shall be five points from 1 to 5. This is in no special order just as they come to mind:

1) Todd Giroux – I like his platform idea to steer a billion dollars away from Wall Street and back into the economy in Rhode Island. He also has a plan to keep the state prosperous going forward. That is what I like to see. And ObDisclaimer – I am the Data Analyst for his campaign. Rated 4.5

2) Clay Pell – he’s definitely got the money but I think the brain power is slightly lacking in his case. First there’s the debacle with the missing Prius – who leaves a car unlocked in the city of Providence or environs thereof, and more doesn’t have a second set of keys to the car, and third hasn’t the white matter in their head to think to just lock the car and call a locksmith. This doesn’t give me a whole lot of confidence in his ability to use the bully pulpit to better Rhode Island. Rated 2

3) Gina Raimondo – she is a Wall Street demon spawn. With her at the helm as treasurer I’m pretty upset about the way she’s handled benefits for retirees etc. And it would only get worse once she’s in the bully pulpit. Rated 2.5

4) Angel Taveras – currently Mayor of Providence his most deft move was closing city pools last summer. Plus he’s really stuck it to union retirees and he gets on my shit list for having the tenacity to say that the tax breaks given to the big property concerns created jobs. Really? Of course he wouldn’t answer when I asked “What jobs?” I’m sorry there are no negative numbers allowed because this candidate would be in the dumps. 

An interesting time last night

So yesterday I did some work on the Giroux for Governor campaign. I sent out close to 400 emails asking for volunteers. Let’s see what I get.

Plus got the candidate to update his web site. Clean it up a little. Also walked him through how to post pix and videos to the blog for the site. Lots of new stuff I’m throwing at them. Also find out I get to interview the campaign manager. King maker indeed.

But around 5PM the wine came out – a few toasts were made and we started talking. A group of four gay men – haven’t been in that type of environment in a long time.

But one thing came out of that I want to explore. I’m viewed by some as get this, an authoritarian. I did email telling that person that I’m no such. I do have the face that I can go stony at any time. And I’m also very assertive. I tell them when it’s something I truly believe or want, I’m direct as hell about it.

And of the group – three of us sort of liberal, one a gay Republican, not only Republican by Mormon. He and I sparred about marriage equality – he has Libertarian leanings – so he was saying how he and his partner don’t want to marry. I start in with theoretical situations – what happens if one gets sick or dies while they’re not married etc. It comes down to the fact that he was squicky about calling his guy his husband. {Sigh}. I told him he had to get over that artificial ickiness factor.

One other thing I did – I had at least two members of the group of us take the Political Compass test. Now the test ranks you where the Y axis runs between authoritarian and Libertarian, while the x axis goes left to right as in political leaning.

What was interesting is that the Republican and the other guy both placed in about the same lower right quadrant. I place in the lower left quadrant – somewhere to the left of Ghandi. But we all rank about the same level on the Y axis. I haven’t had the candidate take the test yet. I suspect he’ll fall into the same quadrant as me.

Religious wing-nuttery over marriage equality

So I was reading this post on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters and this paragraph grabbed my attention:

He went on to maintain that same-sex unions are a “narcissistic parody” of opposite-sex relationships as “homosexual relationships do not represent an authentic intimacy, but rather involve mutual exploitation for the sake of satisfying an unnatural lust” and lead to suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, violence along with other “destructive consequences.” “Homosexuals themselves, who are the greatest victims of the ‘gay lifestyle,’ and are in desperate need of the truth,” he writes.

Let’s break this down, shall we?

“Do not represent authentic intimacy” – the definition:

Of undisputed origin; genuine: “authentic 14th-century furniture”.
Made or done in the traditional or original way: “authentic Italian meals”.

So they’re trying to say because they dispute it our relationships aren’t authentic? Try again! He’s trying to make the wrong-parts argument and failing miserably because we all know better.

…but rather involve mutual exploitation for the sake of satisfying an unnatural lust…

But lust in itself is an immoral thing. Or so says the church. The unnatural part comes from nature being a code word for God. The thing is, in the Bible the prohibitions of a man lying with a man aren’t the word of God per se, but part of the Levitical code of conduct. In other words, written by primitive tribal societies who saw non-reproduction as un-natural.

…lead to suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, violence along with other “destructive consequences.”

Funny, I can only speak from my perspective here. First of all I’ve never contemplated suicide, only drink moderate amounts of alcohol, never abused drugs, and never suffered any violence. Then of course the writer completely gives a pass with “destructive consequences”. This is code speak for “The wages of sin are death.”

This is not to say that alot of gay and bisexual people and even straight people haven’t succumbed to diseases like HIV/AIDS, Herpes, etc. But that’s just it, Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, of the three names doesn’t understand the nature of disease, it’s not so much due to actions per se, but because of bacteria and viruses. Modern science has figured that part out for at least a century now.

And the only reason I’m the ‘greatest victim’ of my ‘gay lifestyle’ is only because religious bigots like Hoffman keep railing on, all up in the Kool Aid, and don’t know the flavor.