Struggling to Understand Vennochi

Joan Vennochi’s columns usually are very clear, but I’m struggling with the one today. (I now see, on reading my esteemed co-Editor David’s post of this morning in its entirety, that he has basically the same reaction. What a relief to know that I am not alone.)

The columnist’s thesis is that there are two sides to speaker DiMasi, “Sal DiMasi, champion of progressive causes. Sal DiMasi, champion of insider deals.” Her admonition: “Liberals shouldn’t ignore allegations of ethical lapses, in deference to DiMasi’s leadership on issues that matter to them.”

Her evidence for the latter was a post Tuesday by esteemed commenter Ryan that I promoted that thanked DiMasi for his leadership on repeal of the benighted Romney-supported 1913 anti-marriage legislation, an appreciative response by DiMasi’s Communications Director David Guarino, and progress on the Global Warming Solutions Act (now passed, hurray!) as evidence of the latter. Encouraging marriage and loving families, taking prudent steps to preserve Massachusetts as habitable real estate … liberal progressive issues both. So far so good.  

I lost her, however, on her evidence for ignorance to “allegations of ethical lapses.”

Should liberals close their eyes to problematic behavior, just as they are doing with another liberal, state Senator James Marzilli? The Arlington legislator has been charged with accosting several women, but refuses to resign even though he has not returned to work since his arrest and has said he will not return

First, Marzilli and DiMasi are related … how? To the best of my knowledge, they are separate people. Second, Patrick supporter EaBo and I both like the Dropkick Murphey’s song that disses Marzilli, and David said he should resign. Vennochi wrote that BMG is “a compendium of mostly liberal bloggers,” but maybe she doesn’t mean the two of us. Is there some other source I am not aware of that reports what “liberals” think?

The only substantive issue she mentioned is DiMasi’s botched dealings with Cognos corporation. The title of the main post about that back in March was “DiMasi Stepped in it,” by esteemed commenter Anthony, which I promoted and which garnered dozens of interesting comments. The ignorance is … where?

“The double standard is a mistake. Self-interest in the promotion of a certain ideology shouldn’t trump accountability for certain actions,” Vennochi wrote. Memo to Anthony: don’t be so circumspect next time you write a headline.

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25 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Ahhhh. The BMG Ego

    I hate to be the killjoy for this orgy you have going on but, Joan Vennochi was speaking of the lemming like manner the more self-proclaimed good government types/progressives are acting by not challenging Sal on such things as his wife's TV job/accountant-personal bank's alleged shake down of ticket scalpers/Dickie McDonough being Dickie McDonough.

    She used BMG as an example of how easy it is for North End Sal street smart Sal to make friends with you wing nuts the same way one would with the mentally challenged kid down the block.

    As for Marzilli she was saying the lefty Senators should, behind the scenes, pressure progressive Senate Pres. to strip him of his chairmanship if he doesn't resign from it.

    BMG should be ashamed and embarressed by Vennochi's column.

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • that's funny

      I think Vennochi should be - while not ashamed, perhaps - at least embarrassed for writing this most recent colummn, with so many holes in it.

      Again, as for Marzilli, do you really think people on the inside - including progressives - haven't told him to step down? Of course they have. The fact that it's 'on the inside' means you don't get to hear about it, but that's the very action you called for.  

      • No Ryan

        they haven't demanded the senate prez tell him/strip him/

        do you really think people on the inside - including progressives - haven't told him to step down? Of course they have. The fact that it's 'on the inside' means you don't get to hear about it, but that's the very action you called for.    


        eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
        • Maybe they will

          Maybe they're just groping for the right words. Irony.

        • how do you know?

          Are you secretly stalking Senator Murray's office 24/7, or something? Seriously, you have no idea what's been said behind the scenes and neither do I. My guess, though, is a helluva lot more logical than your's. You specifically said behind-the-scenes in your post; if you wanted public, you should have said as much. But publicly talking about things like that only brings it up again and again - we wouldn't have gotten nearly as much done if our elected leaders were absorbed in the Marzilli situation instead of doing their jobs. This, btw, is a good reason for why we have a seperate justice system. Convicting people in the court of public opinion is time consuming and distracting.  

          • Pillow Talk Ryan

            the senate prez and I are an item.

            there. It's out now.

            Sorry Terry, i can't keep it a secret anymore.

            eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • Dude, you write here more than almost anyone else

      You're more of a wing-nut than most by that definition.

      As for the mentally challenged kid down the block, can't you think of anyone else to pick on than handicapped children. Here is your homework reading. Talk about being embarrassed and ashamed. Or ashamed and embarressed if you prefer.

      As to DiMasi, I know you have a naive enthusiasm for the awesome power we wield here, but I hate to break it to you: we don't have subpoena power. We can criticize the politician for Cognos, and have; call for Marzilli to resign, and have; and lament the Party apparatchiks that control too much of the legislature, and have ... but we can't actually indict or impeach.

      The disconnect between Vennochi's claims and the record of statements here -- written in digital ink for all to see --  is what I found both amusing and confusing. You'd almost think she rarely read BMG, or was more interested in scoring a quick point than actually commenting on the interesting subjects she raised in any informed and constructive manner.

      • Calm Down Ya....

        wing nut.

        And i didn't expect you Bob to be the one to get self rightous because I compared how easy it is to buy off the left with the ease in making friends with down syndrom kid.

        Did I hurt someone's feelings?

        BTW Bob, there goes that ego again.

        It ain't about you or BMG. It is about the wing nuts that read it that form the base of the far left state reps and senators. BMG was used as an example. You wing nut you.

        Sorry i disagree with you Bob.

        Yes I am a wing nut Bob. I'm on the far end of the curve of people who love to bust the balls of people who are on the far end of the curve on anything political.

        Ya freakin wing nut.

        carry on

        eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • Regularly Scheduled Condemnations

      You and Demolisher could always take over the Condemnation Calendar to help us liberals keep our condemnations on schedule. It's a difficult task and easy to fall behind.

      • Wrong Again KBusch

        Regularly Scheduled Condemnations

        I've never stuck to a schedule in my entire life.

        eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
  2. Sins of Omission

    Bob - I agree with Ernie (shudder...a little) that JV was speaking of progressives in general, and only held up BMG as a widely known clique of the same.  It isn't what WAS written - it's how much is not.  (And chops to Anthony for that post!).

    Where's the outrage over consolidated amendments?  Lack of Debate?  All the other ethical oddities - seeming and actual - that go unremarked here about Sal?  The IMMEDIATE and vehement 'poor baby, he's sick' defense that was mounted for Sen. Aqualung?  And again, the late or non-existant posts on Democratic corruption, to the seven or eight competing threads about any GOP?

    I DO think you are far less of an echo chamber than many/most progressive house organs, and that makes her use of you as an example somewhat unfair.  But I did an immediate post condemning Duke Cunningham, and have one written about the Reprensible Mr. Stevens that should post soon (I've had account problems which has prevented me from posting on my on blog since July 2; I expect all my July posts to come out in a rush, which may seem a little odd when it happens).

    THAT is her point, I think.

    • PP

      What good would it have been if we've focused the last several months trying to oust Sen. Marzilli, when he's going to be gone anyway, instead of focusing on all these other issues? It's a waste of our time, that's what it is. Here on the local level, we like to get things done. If we were spending all our effort on ousting Marzilli as an entire progressive community, I highly doubt we would have repealed 1913, gotten the Global Warming Solutions Act done (cross my fingers), NPV, etc. Worrying about Marzilli when he's going to be gone anyway would not only be convicting someone in the court of public opinion - something I'm loathe to do (even for Republicans) - but also a big freaking waste of our time. Should he be gone? Of course he should be gone. But, in the grand scheme of things, how does that compare to civil rights, the environment and fair elections?  

    • Well, I agree with you in large part!

      But you're not being accurate:

      Where's the outrage over consolidated amendments?  Lack of Debate?  All the other ethical oddities - seeming and actual - that go unremarked here about Sal?  The IMMEDIATE and vehement 'poor baby, he's sick' defense that was mounted for Sen. Aqualung?  And again, the late or non-existant posts on Democratic corruption, to the seven or eight competing threads about any GOP?

      I personally agree lack of debate and "ethical oddities" (very polite!) are outrageous. And only a very few commenters here raised illness as a defense for Marzilli (maybe he is sick, who knows). This is an open forum. But to then somehow claim that is the view of everyone here is as absurd as Bill O'Reilly claiming that all of the 500,000 daily readers of DailyKos agree with the most extreme view of some random commenter.

      If Vennochi wants to be taken seriously, she needs to make logically consistent, informed arguments. Not write columns like this one that reason something like A = B, B = C, therefore a winged monkey just flew out of my butt.  

  3. The lack of a post on the subject,

    (soon to be corrected) is kind of funny. DiMasi's actions aren't just unethical, they have the appearance of criminality. Based on the jockeying for position for House Speaker, my guess is that the writing is on the wall. Dude has serious, serious ethical, and possibly legal, problems. He needs to go.


    • I wouldn't be so quick to think

      He's going anywhere soon. DiMasi has too many allies.  He's not going anywhere. In the meantime, let the justice system continue to investigate the ethical complaints. Right now, from all we can tell, it was Governor Patrick's office that awarded the Cognos contract, so while having friends in the right places may have helped, I highly, highly doubt anything illegal happened, as much as you may not like that fact.  

      • There's a difference between

        being able to prove illegality and illegality. I don't know why you "highly, highly doubt anything illegal happened," the whole deal stinks and every time you turn around there's another DiMasi "associate" connected and not reporting their connection.

        Also, the mere appearance of a conflict of interest is prohibited by state ethics laws. If you read my post, you'll get what I think happened.

        What I guess happened in the Patrick Administration:

        The deal had been working up ahead of steam for a while, what with piloting and all. Leslie Kirwan signed off on it, but that doesn't preclude legislative influence. The money was such that the legislature had to be on board. The contract was also signed early in the Patrick Adminstration when it wasn't exactly operating efficiently. (In some areas, it's still pretty inefficient).

        The Patrick Administration also requested the IG look into the deal. I'm unclear of the timeline, but wonder if this happened after the DOE employee reported the Cognos rep's alleged attempt to bribe her.

        Did anything illegal happen? I dunno. I don't see any reason to "highly, highly doubt it."


        • the fact that it was early on

          in patrick's administration doesn't mean it wasn't accepted by Patrick's administration. You don't get to sign a bill, then go back a few months later and say "whoops." And none of that changes the fact that an independent source - the Governor's administration - approved the funding. I'm sorry, but all of this is grasphing at straws, Mark. It's certainly nothing that's going to convince me I should want DiMasi ousted, when it wasn't even he who had the final say in approving the funding.  

  4. politics as usual

    The line for considering a politician worthy of condemnation or contempt moves great distances depending on the political party of the politician and whoever is passing judgment.

    Pretending that isn't so or that it is unique to one end of the spectrum or the other is a very important symptom of a condition known as "poltics as usual."

    In Bizarro Massachusetts, I actually think Vennochi would write pretty much the same column. I'm not sure as many people here would lay back if Majority Republicans that oppose modernizing marriage laws ran into ethical issues, the way Salzilli has.

  5. B-list Maureen Dowd

    That's Vennochi.  

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