January 2011
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Month January 2011

Democratic State Committee Meeting rescheduled from 2/1/11 to 2/16/11

The Democratic State Committee Meeting that had been scheduled for Tuesday 2/1/11 has been rescheduled to 2/16/11 same location; American Legion Post 440 at 295 California St, Newton.  Dinner 6:00 PM; Meeting 7:00 PM; please spread the word that the meeting has been rescheduled! Stay safe.  Clear flat roofed buildings, sheds and carports – and stay safe and warm. And please spread the word that the meeting has been rescheduled! Deb Sirotkin Butler 4th Middlesex State Senate Committeewoman

RomneyCare/ObamaCare – Unconstitutional?

Federal Judge in Florida ruled today that ObamaCare is unconstitutional.  Since BMG has the finest minds on the Internet (no, that’s not sarcasm), I ask the denizens: is this likely to stand?  Will ObamaCare implementation halt while the case makes its way to SCOTUS?  Are there any ramifications for our own RomneyCare, on which ObamaCare is based?

Keith Olbermann – A Local Precusor

Keith Olbermann’s sudden departure from MSNBC last week at the top of his game and ratings for the formerly rating starved cable outlet reminds me of a quite similar set of facts that happened to Jerry Williams in the fall of 1976.  Jerry Williams was at the top of his game and ratings for the then Westinghouse owned and operated WBZ Radio. Jerry had been the night-in and night- out voice of protest to the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration on the clear channel powerhouse broadcasting across 38 states. Williams had even made the de facto if not the actual Nixon’s Enemy List  in the early ’70′s. Now, in the more passive Gerry Ford era Westinghouse, a major defense contractor as well as broadcasting giant, pulled the microphone plug on Jerry Williams their ratings superstar as now did MSNBC in the post George W.Bush/Dick Cheney era. As the then WBZ sales manager and later WBZ Radio general manager told me a few years later Westinghouse dumped “The Dean” because they could not control him and they could still make a bundle of money without him. The same flawed philosophy appears to hold true at MSNBC.  That now late WBZ […]

On The View From Egypt, Part Six, Or, Let’s Review Where We Are

We’re a week into the Egyptian uprising now, and it’s time to reassess what has taken place so far and what might come next.

We know a few things, and we don’t know a lot-and from what we can tell, the folks on the ground are also not sure what might happen. That said, we do know enough to begin to figure out the right questions to be asking.

As was true Friday, things are moving fast, so let’s jump right in.

GOP Bill: Pay China First, Social Security Last in Case of Default

The astonishing war against senior Americans presses on.  As if the totally unwarranted bipartisan attempts to slash Social Security aren’t enough, now we have H.R.421 – “To require that the Government prioritize all obligations on the debt held by the public in the event that the debt limit is reached.” Introduced by Tom McClintock, Republican of California Chris van Hollen, ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, says: House Republicans’ new proposal to put foreign creditors – including China – before American families is deeply troubling and will hurt our economic recovery.  There is no question that we must come together as a Congress now to put a long-term plan in place to reduce the deficit.  But this country must not put China first, and fail to extend that same full faith and credit to American taxpayers.  We must get our fiscal house in order, and at the State of the Union the President laid out ideas to tackle this challenge.  But for the new Republican majority to do so at the expense of the economic security of American families and seniors is reckless and irresponsible.  Democrats will fight any legislation that doesn’t put American families first. Incredible.  I guess only […]

Information for Constituents in Egypt

Just wanted to let everyone know that we have setup a page with up-to-date information from the State Department for American citizens in Egypt. We’ll continue to update the page as we get new information.   Right now, American citizens interested in departing Egypt via USG-chartered transportation should contact the US Department of State and Embassy Cairo by sending an email to EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444. Please provide the following information: Name, age, place of birth, U.S. passport number and any special medical needs. For more detailed information, visit my website or travel.state.gov Thanks, Congressman Jim McGovern Jim on Facebook Jim on Twitter

2007-01-31: Remember the victims of the cartoon terrorists

Today is the anniversary of the day in 2007 when Boston was under attack by cartoon terrorists. On this day, we ought to reflect and remember the victims. I don’t mean the mooninites’ usual victims Master Shake, Frylock, and Meatwad; on January 31st, 2007, they struck further and wider. On this day, remember our fear based policies, our hostility to quirkiness, our collective political sickness of panic and xenophobia. Although the Mooninites temporarily turned it all into a farce, their job is not yet done. So today, I’m reposting something I wrote for Blue Mass Group shortly after the cartoon terrorist scare of 2007: What Does Random Panic Protect Us From? Comments seem to be closed on old BMG posts, but my LiveJournal post will allow comments for years, and I’ve also added some new material.  Please read it today, and share it, and link it. “The mooninite adventure was like MA telling me that they don’t want my creativity.” -A brilliant and talented person of the sort our state should want to attract. Update: Sean Stevens and Peter Berdovsky (Zebbler), who made and put up the Mooninites, will appear on a streaming Internet interview show called “The Latest With” […]

Juan Cole provides useful context on Egypt

University of Michigan middle east specialist Jaun Cole offered useful perspective on the unrest in Egypt in a post “Egypt’s Class Conflict” on his blog Informed Comment over the weekend.

[W]hy has the Egyptian state lost its legitimacy? Max Weber distinguished between power and authority. Power flows from the barrel of a gun, and the Egyptian state still has plenty of those. But Weber defines authority as the likelihood that a command will be obeyed. Leaders who have authority do not have to shoot people. The Mubarak regime has had to shoot over 100 people in the past few days, and wound more. Literally hundreds of thousands of people have ignored Mubarak’s command that they observe night time curfews. He has lost his authority.

Authority is rooted in legitimacy. Leaders are acknowledged because the people agree that there is some legitimate basis for their authority and power. In democratic countries, that legitimacy comes from the ballot box. In Egypt, it derived 1952-1970 from the leading role of the Egyptian military and security forces in freeing Egypt from Western hegemony. That struggle included grappling with Britain to gain control over the Suez Canal (originally built by the Egyptian government and opened in 1869, but bought for a song by the British in 1875 when sharp Western banking practices brought the indebted Egyptian government to the brink of bankruptcy). It also involved fending off aggressive Israeli attempts to occupy the Sinai Peninsula and to assert Israeli interests in the Suez Canal. Revolutionary Arab nationalist leader Gamal Abdel Nasser (d. 1970) conducted extensive land reform, breaking up the huge Central America-style haciendas and creating a rural middle class. Leonard Binder argued in the late 1960s that that rural middle class was the backbone of the regime. Abdul Nasser’s state-led industrialization also created a new class of urban contractors who benefited from the building works commissioned by the government.

From 1970, Anwar El Sadat took Egyptian in a new direction, opening up the economy and openly siding with the new multi-millionaire contracting class. It in turn was eager for European and American investment. Tired of the fruitless Arab-Israeli wars, the Egyptian public was largely supportive of Sadat’s 1978 peace deal with Israel, which ended the cycle of wars with that country and opened the way for the building up of the Egyptian tourist industy and Western investment in it, as well as American and European aid. Egypt was moving to the Right.

Selection continues on the flip. Read the whole article here.

UPDATED: 2011-2012 Massachusetts HOUSE & SENATE Leadership & Committee Assignments

Updated: The majority and minority leadership of both chambers have completed their committee assignments for the new legislative session.

Our post from last week with the committee and leadership assignments from Speaker DeLeo has been combined with the Senate appointments and the House Minority appointments.

Read the full list of House and Senate leadership and committee assignments on providers.org - or check below the fold.

Egypt: lessons from Iran/Iraq of the 1970s?

Here’s a look back at an earlier period of instability in the Middle East. This is how the modern economy swings — when the floating dollar is inflated for domestic purposes, it has unanticipated effects around the world: When [Saddam Hussein] came to power in this pre-Reagan era, capitalism was not held in high regard throughout the world. It is not surprising that Saddam attempted to manage the Iraqi economy with socialist schemes mixed in with capitalist markets. He began his leadership of Iraq in the Jimmy Carter years, which saw the price of gold rise from $140 to as high as $850, settling to $625 in 1980 going through election day. [Gold has gone from $265 to over $1400 since 2002.] These were marvelous days for the oil-producing states of the Middle East, particularly Iran and Iraq, as the price of oil rose to as high as $35 a barrel, more than ten times the price before President Nixon ended the gold standard in 1971. There were great differences, though, in the way Iran and Iraq managed this new wealth. in Teheran, the Shah assumed the dramatic rise in the oil price was due to energy shortages that would […]