BMG pizza party/fundraiser Friday at 6:30! Senators Eldridge and Jehlen join your editors!

WARNING: In keeping with our national dialogue, the only topic of discussion permitted will be deflated footballs. But hey, we've got progressive fave Sens. Jamie Eldridge and Pat Jehlen showing up Fri night - and at least a dozen other of your favorite BMG characters. We'll all be deflating each others' dinner rolls. Who else? -Charley Bumped, for glory. -Bob - promoted by david

We have lots of good things to report regarding Friday’s big event!  Most important is that it’s still happening this Friday, Jan. 23, starting at 6:30 pm, at Bertucci’s in Medford (free pizza and rolls, cash bar).  Details are in this post.  We very much hope we’ll see you there.  Other stuff to know:

  • There will be a silent auction, at which, among other items, a pair of Red Sox tickets will be available, thanks to a generous donor!  You’ll have to show up to bid, so there’s a good reason to come.  If you’d like to donate anything, we’d be most grateful – please let us know.
  • Judging from the comments on the last post on this subject, it’s looking like we will have a lovely turnout of lovely people.  We encourage you to RSVP if you haven’t already, either in the comments or via email to us, just so that we can give Bertucci’s an idea of how many people will be attending.  But if you forget to RSVP and realize on Friday that you want to come anyway, please do!  The more the merrier.
  • Since the last post went up, we’ve had a veritable flood of new subscriptions, for which we are tremendously grateful – thank you!!  If you’d like to support BMG by subscribing, detailed instructions are at this link.  We love seeing those little gold badges all over the site.

We are looking forward to Friday, and we hope you are too!  See you then.

Joke Revue: US-Cuba relations

A nice review of the history of US-Cuba relations from Tonightly:

Daniel Kurtzman:

“A new survey shows that most people trust Google more as a source for current events than traditional news outlets. Traditional news outlets didn’t believe the news until they Googled it.” –Seth Meyers

“The RNC released its first presidential debate schedule, which includes at least nine debates in different states across the country. As opposed to the Democratic debates, which will just be Hillary staring at her opponents until they burst into flames.” –Jimmy Fallon

“According to a new poll, nearly six out of 10 Republicans want Mitt Romney to run for president. So do 10 out of 10 Democrats.” –Conan O’Brien

“Just days after Mitt Romney suggested he might run for president, there’s been a backlash. The backlash is led by Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, and just to hedge his bets on every issue, Mitt Romney.” –Conan O’Brien

“This year’s Oscar nomination pool is the least diverse collection of nominees since 1998. There are so many white nominees that Fox News agreed to host a debate.” –Seth Meyers

Go Pats!

I agree with Ernie on the merits of both the boilerplate issue and Deflategate, but even though both may be meh moments as to substance, they are also extremely powerful political symbols.

A line on the Olympics is that the events have become a giant international corporate Borg that suck a fortune from host cities, slam them into Panem-style dystopias during the events, and leave them littered with hastily built architectural turds that deface the landscape for decades. A line on the Patriots is that they are cheaters who will do anything to win, from taping their opponents to deflating footballs to get a better grip, and that explains their exceptional performance since 2001.

I think both of these interpretations are misguided: the Olympics might be great for Boston, and according to the NFL the Patriots have won their titles fair and square. But politically, both issues play directly into the hands of naysayers. That’s why Walsh should never have approved that clause and, if it’s true that it is no big deal he should follow David’s advice and get an amended contract if he wants to maximize public support. As for the Patriots, the map below from ESPN illustrates my point.

On to the Super Bowl. Hurray for sports in Boston and New England. Go Patriots!

Pats

"Boilerplate"

The kerfuffle du jour, as you know, is the revelation that as party of its pitch to the United States Olympic Committee, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh signed a document in which he agrees that the city’s “officers, employees and representatives, shall not make, publish or communicate to any Person, or communicate in any public forum, any comments or statements (written or oral) that reflect unfavorably upon, denigrate or disparage, or are detrimental to the reputation or statute [sic] of, the IOC, the IPC, the USOC, the IOC Bid, the Bid Committee or the Olympic or Paralympic movement.”  Furthermore, the agreement also imposes an affirmative obligation that the city’s “officers, employees and representatives, shall each promote the Bid Committee, the USOC, the IOC Bid, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls and the Olympic and Paralympic movement in a positive manner.”

Hey, no problem, says Mayor Marty.  ”I believe in free speech.”  And you can ignore what the agreement says – it’s “boilerplate,” and “it was in the agreement, and we had to get the agreement signed.”  Walsh assures us that “if a city employee isn’t happy and on their own personal time goes to Facebook or Twitter or any other social media, that’s fine.”

The USOC also assures us that we needn’t worry our pretty little heads about the seemingly draconian speech restrictions.  ”That is boilerplate language that is typical of contracts between parties,” a USOC representative told the Globe.

This “boilerplate” answer is obviously unsatisfactory.  Contractual language appears in contracts for a reason, and the reason is almost always that at least one of the parties wanted it in there.  And the only reason a party would want language like this in a contract is to have in reserve the ability to enforce it against the other.  So let’s take Walsh at his word that, as far as he’s concerned, city employees can say anything they want about the Olympics on their own time, in any forum [UPDATE: in an email to city employees, Walsh tried to clarify that that is indeed his position].  That does not mean that the other party to the agreement – the USOC – couldn’t seek to enforce the language of the agreement against Walsh and the city.  Would such an action be successful?  Who knows.  The point, as the Globe correctly points out in an editorial today, is that the mere fact that such language is out there is “likely to have a chilling effect on the public discussion over whether to bid for the Olympics.”  ”Boilerplate” or not, contractual language exists to be enforced.

This language is an embarrassment, and Walsh never should have agreed to it.  If he is serious about his commitment to free speech, he should forward an amended version of the agreement without the offending language to the USOC, and if they are serious as well, they will promptly execute it.  Nothing else is good enough.

Disgraceful: Marty Walsh agreed with the USOC to restrict city employees' speech

This is awful.  And it’s only the beginning.

Documents obtained by the Globe through a public records request to City Hall show Mayor Martin J. Walsh has signed a formal agreement with the United States Olympic Committee that bans city employees from criticizing Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Games.

The “joinder agreement” forbids the city of Boston and its employees from making any written or oral statements that “reflect unfavorably upon, denigrate or disparage, or are detrimental to the reputation” of the International Olympic Committee, the USOC, or the Olympic Games.

It’s astonishing to think that, if I were a city employee, I could have lost my job by posting – as I did in October – that “the IOC is filled with awful people.”  It’s shocking that Mayor Walsh actually signed a document making that city policy.

And it’s profoundly disappointing that Walsh seems to be on board with the Olympic gang’s past practice of shutting down speech that is not consistent with the Olympic boosters’ message.  A while ago, I was hoping that Walsh would actually stand up to that odious practice:

Rather than repeating something like Boston’s shameful “free speech zone” episode at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, where protesters were tucked into an iron cage under the highway, any Boston Olympics bid should insist that none of the speech-limiting garbage that was reported during, say, the London 2012 Olympics, will be tolerated here.  Bostonians must be free to speak about, or against, the Olympics, just as they always have been on other topics.  Of course, the IOC won’t like it, and it might cost Boston the games.  But surely Marty Walsh isn’t going to sacrifice the free speech rights of his city’s people to a shadowy cabal like the IOC.  Right, Marty?

So far, not looking good.  You can read the agreement at this link (via Garrett Quinn at MassLive.com).

Joke Revue: Most Americans Now Consider Romney a Stalker

 

Borowitz

Poll: Most Americans Now Consider Romney a Stalker

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a possible setback for Mitt Romney’s latest Presidential ambitions, a new poll reveals that a majority of Americans now regard the former Massachusetts governor as a stalker.

The poll results suggest that Romney’s presence in every Presidential campaign in recent memory has taken its toll on the American people, who have expressed disbelief that he would return after being repeatedly told in no uncertain terms that he was not wanted.

Additionally, many of those surveyed said that they previously felt harassed by the Massachusetts governor’s relentless e-mails and phone calls, and favored some form of intervention to keep Romney from contacting them in the future. …

Richest One Per Cent Disappointed to Possess Only Half of World’s Wealth

DAVOS (The Borowitz Report)—A new Oxfam report indicating that the wealthiest one per cent possesses about half of the world’s wealth has left the richest people in the world “reeling with disappointment,” a leading billionaire said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters in Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum, the hedge-find owner Harland Dorrinson said, “I think I speak for a lot of my fellow billionaires when I say I thought we were doing a good deal better than that.”

Daniel Kurtzman:

“Mitt Romney said he is considering a third presidential bid. Romney said he got the idea from watching his dog repeatedly run into an electric fence.” –Seth Meyers

“Yesterday, during his domestic abuse trial, NASCAR driver Kurt Busch said he believes his ex-girlfriend is a CIA-trained assassin. I guess those are just the kinds of thoughts you have when you drive in circles for four hours.” –Seth Meyers

“Mitt Romney is reportedly putting his 2012 election team back together. And somehow, miraculously, none of them were busy with other stuff.” –Seth Meyers

“Paul Ryan announced that after a lot of thought, and talking it over with family and friends, that he is not going to run for president in 2016. I’m telling you, this announcement sent shock waves through no one.” –David Letterman

“The film ‘Boyhood’ won the Golden Globe for best drama. It follows one guy’s journey over the course of 12 years — or as Mitt Romney calls that, ‘running for president.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Potential presidential candidate Jeb Bush will release a decade’s worth of tax returns to avoid comparisons to Mitt Romney. Yeah, they’re nothing alike. They’re just both former governors from wealthy families whose parents gave them super-weird names.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Our hearts are with the staff of Charlie Hebdo and their families tonight. I know very few people go into comedy as an act of courage, mainly because it shouldn’t have to be that, it shouldn’t be an act of courage, it should be taken as established law. But those guys at Hebdo had it, and they were killed for their cartoons. For however frustrated or outraged back and forth conversation can become, it’s still back and forth conversation amongst those on … let’s call it team civilization. And this type of violence only clarifies that reality. Of course, of course, our goal tonight … is to not make sense of this, because there is no sense to be made of this. Our goal, as it is always, is to keep going, keep calm and carry on, or whatever version of that saying is in your dorm room.” –Jon Stewart

 

More cartoons over the flip:

What's Really Disturbing about the Southeast Expressway Protests

A good point. - promoted by Bob_Neer

The real outrage is that if you live on the South Shore, your chances of getting to a level-one trauma center depend on how well traffic is flowing on the Southeast Expressway. In a region that spends more per-capita on medical expenses than just about anywhere else on earth, there seems to be no level-one trauma facility on the South Shore.

Apparently ambulance drivers on the South Shore have not planned any alternate routes in case the Southeast Expressway is jammed (which only happens about 5 days a week). They just turn around and go someplace else. And not only that, the AG has okayed the closing (after one more year) of the only emergency room in Quincy. Because getting people quickly to life-saving emergency help–while more important than hippie protesters– is less important than profits.
The above should have been obvious to any public servant who really wanted to serve the public. To craven pols like Marty Walsh and Coleen Garry, their only reaction seems to be “You know what this story is missing? My face on TV!”

What Does the Globe Poll Really Say about Support for Boston 2024?

Still early days ... - promoted by Bob_Neer

On Friday, the Boston Globe released the first post-USOC announcement poll about how people in Boston and Massachusetts as a whole feel about the city’s 2024 Olympic bid. This poll has been widely cited as saying that the people in the city and across the state back Boston 2024.

But does the poll really show such support? Not if you dig deeper into the questions.

(1) The first question was “How strongly do you support or oppose the bid?” This is a strange question, given that no one has ever seen the bid and that Boston 2024 has no plans to release it in full.

Nevertheless, this question produced the numbers most often cited: 55.30% support vs. 39.59% oppose. These numbers were similar whether people lived in Boston or not:

Boston: 53.73% support vs. 40.45% oppose

Rest of State: 55.98% support vs. 39.21% oppose

Statewide, 34.91% were strong supporters and 27.12% were strong opponents. In Boston, those numbers were 34.44% and 29.25%, respectively.

(2) Next, the poll asked, “If Boston were chosen to host the Olympics, would you purchase tickets to attend the games in person?

45.32% of respondents said that they would definitely or probably attend, whereas 49.07% said that they would definitely or probably not attend.

Boston: 48.54% attend vs. 44.60% not attend

Rest of State: 43.94% attend vs. 50.98% not attend

WHY MUST WE PUT UP WITH DAILY BRAWLS?

Just a reminder that our current civic saints were not universally beloved … in fact, they are saints precisely because they were prepared to not be universally loved.

August 9, 1966 - WHY MUST WE PUT UP WITH DAILY BRAWLS? | Chicago Tribune Archive

August 9, 1966 – WHY MUST WE PUT UP WITH DAILY BRAWLS? | Chicago Tribune Archive.

Part of making change is making trouble for someone; leaving your own comfort — meager as it may be — to put your self in a position to  make someone uncomfortable; agitating. And those bold enough to confront the public conscience will always be accused of vanity. After all, drawing attention is the goal. People would prefer to look away, and they will if you let them.

There was no MLK Day in 1966. MLK wasn’t “MLK” until we co-opted his most uplifting and comforting words as part of our contemporary civic religion. “Civil Rights” was not an anodyne cliche, something to be taken for granted even in its plain absence. Our civic saints are never saints in their own time; they are troublesome, controversial figures, who might well have made their friends nearly uncomfortable as their foes. We should only ask ourselves if we are controversial enough to live up to their good example.

"I Have A Dream"... updated!

Thanks for posting this. - promoted by david

The National Archives has a pdf of the famous MLK speech.

Read it today. Here is an excerpt, wherein King speaks to the many who protested knowing that powerful people would do them harm.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering.

Further historical documents can be found at Slate. They are the flyers for protests that King was leading when he was assassinated. The struggle continues. What are we doing today, to make right what is wrong?

UPDATE:

I want to call attention to HamdenRice’s must-read post “Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did”

What most people who reference Dr. King seem not to know is how Dr. King actually changed the subjective experience of life in the United States for African Americans. And yeah, I said for African Americans, not for Americans, because his main impact was his effect on the lives of African Americans, not on Americans in general. His main impact was not to make white people nicer or fairer. That’s why some of us who are African Americans get a bit possessive about his legacy. Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy, despite what our civil religion tells us, is not color blind.

Interesting throwback: in 1981, firefighters and others blocked highways to protest layoffs; no arrests

A fascinating find from some BMGers with long memories (thanks, bob-gardner and methuenprogressive).  In the spring of 1981, Proposition 2-1/2 was wreaking havoc on municipal budgets and resulted in a number of layoffs, including police and firefighters.  People were upset, and firefighters in particular were not interested in playing nice.  April 29, 1981 (all links are behind the Globe archive paywall):

Major roads into Boston were temporarily blocked during this morning’s rush hour by protesters of cutbacks in the city’s police and fire departments, causing massive traffic jams on major and alternate routes and delaying commuters….

However, no injuries were reported nor were any arrests made during the morning demonstrations.

The first demonstration began about 7 when some 100 placard-carrying men emerged from Florian Hall on Hallet street, Dorchester – home of Boston Firefighters Union Local 718 of the International Assn. of Firefighters – and climbed an embankment to the Southeast Expressway.

Walking about 15 abreast, the group proceeded northbound on the Expressway toward Neponset Circle, blocking all inbound traffic for 20 minutes, until they reached the Neponset on-ramp.

At that point, the demonstrators walked down the up ramp and, for about three minutes, blocked traffic headed northbound on Morrissey boulevard with a 30-foot wide banner carried by 10 men that read: “Help! Save Jobs That Save Lives.” …

One of the leaders of the demonstration, Richard Besse, an off-duty Boston firefighter, surveyed the results of the Dorchester demonstration and called it “terrific. . . . This is what we wanted to do to get our message across.”

These demonstrations were not just a one-day affair, and they were not limited to a single roadway.  Here’s a story from May 1, 1981, two days later:

The ranks of the Boston, state and MDC police were spread thin this morning as police tried to curb growing demonstrations protesting cuts in Boston police and fire department personnel.

Demonstrators were successful in delaying morning rush-hour traffic for as much as a half hour by blocking the Southeast Expressway at Neponset Circle, Morrissey boulevard and Columbia road at Kosciuszcko Circle in Dorchester, Soldiers Field road at the former Coca Cola plant in Brighton, the Sumner Tunnel at the East Boston end and City Square in Charlestown.

And many of the demonstrators promised to return Monday.

The blocking of Kosciuscko Circle caught many drivers by surprise as they attempted to use Morrissey boulevard to bypass the Neponset Circle blockade on the expressway.

About 7:30 a.m., some 30 persons, mostly women, began blocking cars at Kosciuszcko Circle. Almost immediately, 10 MDC patrolmen, several with riot sticks at the ready, pushed the demonstrators from the roadway.

A number of the women began yelling obscenities at the officers and one called out: “Why don’t you take off your uniform and come and meet my husband.”

As cars passed the demonstrators, the protesters called out to the drivers, “Ten bucks if you hit them,” referring to the police officers in the intersection.

Remarkable.  Can you imagine the reaction if this week’s protesters had cursed at the police and encouraged motorists to hit them?

The next day, May 2, 1981, the Globe had this story:

Traffic was stopped on nine main arteries into the city yesterday, the most roads to be blocked by the demonstrators since they began protesting three weeks ago.

Some of the tieups were created on roads or at traffic interchanges where the demonstrators had not struck before, including Kosciuszko Circle and Pulaski Circle, both in Dorchester, Soldiers Field road at the former Coca Cola bottling plant in Allston, and Memorial drive in Cambridge and Storrow drive in Boston.

The demonstrators also stopped traffic on the Southeast Expressway and Neponset Circle in Dorchester, on the East Boston approaches to the Sumner Tunnel, and at City Square, all scenes of earlier protests.

And here, from the same story, is perhaps the most interesting part of all this:

No arrests have been made since the protests began on April 10, when the city’s cutbacks in fire and police personnel and closing of some fire and police stations went into effect.

Boston Police Comr. Joseph Jordan yesterday defended his department’s policy of making no arrests.

“We’ve had demonstrations for the last 15 years,” Jordan said. “Our policy has always been to make an arrest only in cases where there is an aggressive, hostile demonstration and these demonstrations have been peaceful.”

Wow.  Weeks of protests, including several straight days of protests in which major roads were repeatedly blocked, and not a single arrest.  Is it possible that there were no arrests because the police, although charged with trying to keep the roadways open, were basically in sympathy with the protesters?  Or have policies regarding when to arrest protesters changed over the years?  I don’t know, and I would be very interested in hearing from someone who does.

I-93 - "I need to go to the hospital! Please get out of the way!" "Get away from my vehicle!"

Yeah ... this protest was ill-conceived and, IMHO, counterproductive. - promoted by david

Quotes from the 1-93 Protesters. No, really!

“I need to go to the hospital! Please get out of the way!” 0:25 “Get away from my vehicle!’ 1:40

http://www.wcvb.com/…/protesters-offer-no…/30745932