February 2012
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Month February 2012

Integrated Urban Agricultural Systems

On Monday January 30th, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) held a public meeting at Suffolk University, halfway between the State House and City Hall, to change the Boston zoning laws to allow for agriculture throughout the city, making it easier for local residents to grow and sell fresh, healthy, foods in Boston and the greater Boston Metropolitan Area. Nearly 300 people attended. Boston currently has about 150 community gardens serving 3000 gardeners, the highest per capita of any US city. Now the city is trying to figure out how to change zoning to increase urban agriculture beyond gardening and household use into businesses and economic development. Mayor Menino, the newly appointed chair of the food policy task force for the US Conference of Mayors, opened the meeting and the keynote address was given by Will Allen, Founder and CEO of Growing Power Inc. (http://www.growingpower.org), non-profit based in Milwaukee, WI which also does work in Chicago, Detroit, Ghana, and around the world. Growing Power addresses social justice and food access issues through building local agriculture and farm-based businesses and Mr. Allen won the 2008 McArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant for his work on urban farming and sustainable food production. Growing Power has […]

Offered without comment (from me)

I came across this just now. The headline: “Woman: Priest denied me Communion at mom’s funeral because I’m gay“. I grew up just outside Gaithersburg, my mother lives there now. I offer it without comment: From the video in the piece (the embed code is mislabeled): Anchor: “Take me back to when you first realized that the priest had an issue with you being a Lesbian” Barbara Johnson: “The first moment that I realized that the priest had an issue with me being a Lesbian was when I was standing in front of him with my hand out to receive communion.” From the piece: Barbara Johnson knew last Saturday, the day of her mother’s funeral, would be difficult. But she and her lesbian partner of 20 years had no idea that the priest at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, Md., would be a source of her grief. Johnson, 51, of Washington, D.C, walked into the church, mourning the mom she described to msnbc.com as “a really cool woman; she was 85 going on 58.” When Johnson and her partner arrived at the church — which her mom had attended, and her dad, too, before he died years prior […]

More on “conscience clauses”: how much can we really know about what Ted Kennedy would have supported?

Today’s Globe published an editorial tut-tutting about how Ted Kennedy was a public figure, and how his legacy was sometimes difficult to interpret, and how his family doesn’t retain the exclusive right, now that he’s gone, to decide what he would have supported and what he wouldn’t have.  They go on to say that, yeah, Ted Kennedy probably would have lined up with President Obama rather than Scott Brown, but Brown “is allowed to interpret” what Kennedy said and did. Well, yes and no.  Yes, figuring out what Kennedy would have thought about an issue he never precisely faced necessarily involves some guesswork.  But no, Brown should not be “allowed” to simply make stuff up, or to ignore the evidence we have about what Kennedy’s positions were. And we do have some good evidence.  Most critically, yesterday the Globe published a story showing that Ted Kennedy openly and repeatedly supported a mandate that contraception be covered on the same terms as other prescription drugs and outpatient services.  That bill contained no exceptions, even for churches.  The Catholic Bishops opposed the legislation, but that didn’t stop Kennedy from repeatedly co-sponsoring it anyway.  As Kennedy said in a hearing on the relevant legislation in 2001, when […]

Olympia Snowe retiring

Christian Scientist Monitor Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term. There is a already a promising Democrat in the wings.

Senate to Vote on Blunt/Brown Amendment Tomorrow

Looks like Harry Reid is going to force a vote on the Blunt/Brown amendment that will allow employers to dictate health coverage for employees. The Senate has reached an agreement that it be in order for the Blunt amendment #1520 (contraception) to be called up. Further, at a time to be determined on Thursday, March 1, the Senate will proceed to a vote in relation to the Blunt amendment. No other amendments are in order prior to the vote in relation to the Blunt amendment. The Blunt amendment is now pending. It would be downright hilarious if Brown votes against his own bill (again), should be an interesting day tomorrow.


In case you thought Santorum’s JFK/vomit line was spontaneous, an off-the-cuff misstep … he’s used it before. From Nov. 21 of last year: Santorum is a Roman Catholic, but that didn’t stop him from criticizing the country’s only Catholic president. Santorum commented on John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech, in which Kennedy laid out his belief in the separation of church and state. “I had an opportunity to read the speech, and I almost threw up,” Santorum told a crowd in October at the College of Saint Mary Magdalen in Warner, N.H. via Santorum: Early Political Work Influences Him Still : NPR. Now, why he chose to repeat that line when he was pretty close to winning a major state … I don’t know. Anyway, tonight it looks like the GOP is going to go with the phony rather than the true believer. Fall in love, then fall in line … (sigh)

Mitt, you’re on Car Talk

Read this gem courtesy of that plucky band to the north, BlueHampshire.

Clark Rockefeller Republicans

David Brooks’ column today resurrected the dated term “Rockefeller Republicans” to describe moderate Republicans of roughly 40 years ago, often from Northeastern states, who thought that Keynesian economics and environmental stewardship, for example, were not atheistic plots. Which prompted me to think — we need a term for certain Republican politicians of THIS era from Northeastern states who overuse the terms “moderate” and “independent” to conjure the ghost of the Rockefeller Republicans, all the while embracing policies those ghosts would have deplored. And when they’re called on it, they get dug in and a little testy. How about “Clark Rockefeller Republicans?” (Cross-posted here.)

Scott Brown’s truck breaks down over birth control

Two days of actual reporting have pretty much demolished Scott Brown’s bizarre gambit to cast himself as the heir to Ted Kennedy.  Yesterday, the Springfield Republican reported that the 1997 legislation sponsored by Ted Kennedy and his son Patrick did not create a broad “moral conviction” conscience exemption for anything, and certainly not for contraception. Even worse for Brown, today’s Globe reports that, in 2005, Ted Kennedy co-sponsored legislation requiring that contraception be covered on the same basis as other outpatient services and prescription drugs.  The article doesn’t identify the bill, but it seems likely that it was S.1214, the “Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act of 2005.” That bipartisan bill – its lead sponsor was Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, and it was co-sponsored by Kennedy among others – contained no “conscience” exemption for anyone, even religious employers like churches and church-run schools. [UPDATE: TPM reports that Kennedy co-sponsored similar legislation in 2001, 2003, and 2007, declaring that "contraceptive insurance coverage is essential for women’s health," and that he did so over the express opposition of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.] One of the striking things about that bill is how similar its overall operation […]

Quick, watch this. Hysterical.

Mitt vs. Mitt: The story of two men trapped in one body Made my morning.