The observations of a 50 something with lots of experience in politics, government, life and learning.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


This is just a note to let you all know that this blog is NOT sponsored by or some other insipid organization. I receive NO FUNDS for the time and effort I put into this magnum opus. In fact, if time is money, I'm donating huge amounts of dough to the cause of truth, justice and the American Way.

As I write this, Himself is "speaking to the nation" about Iraq. Well maybe on the west coast people haven't eaten but talk about upsetting your digestive system! Listening to that nasal twang, those illiterate sentences and then contemplating death, destruction, humiliation and downright stupidity? Not the way I want to end a very tiring day trying to rectify the healthcare system.

The good news though is that my Political Action Committee is "catching on." I arrived at a League of Women Voters "picnic" tonight (where no one was dressed like it was a picnic and they started at 5PM when I was still at work and there was no food left by the time I got there....but I digress....) and one of my friends said "I understand you started a PAC!" Yes, I admitted, I had. Well, she wanted to know, why hadn't SHE been solicited? So I had to describe how I needed to only buy 50 stamps and see how it went so that I didn't use more of the income than was appropriate for expenses! Once I got some contributions I went out on a limb and bought 100 stamps, half of which were for thank you letters! Another woman also wants to make sure she's solicited! So I guess I'm now part of the local buzz!

Keep the faith and let's hope the American people are waking up to what's in front of them. With any luck, the Good Guys will sweep the Congress in 16 months.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


As we all know, the above quote was from Ed Koch, who was constantly concerned about people's perceptions of him as mayor of the Big Apple.

My ambitions are less, shall we say, ambitious, and actually I'm going to TELL you how I'm doing rather than ask...

I am, of course, referring to my POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE. I know I've been sort of a tease telling people that I was going to tell them how it was going. Well now I fulfill my promise.

In my humble opinion, I'm doing quite well, thank you very much.

I've mailed somewhere between 40 and 50 solicitations and have received about 15 donations. On the one hand, that's an amazing return for "direct mail." On the other hand (and, isn't there ALWAYS an other hand?) given that the first 50 letters went out to close friends and family, the question is WHY IS THE RESPONSE SO LOW. Hey, just kidding. I'm VERY pleased with the response and realize that it is a true leap of faith to say "hey, send me your hard earned money and I'll 'invest it' in candidates of my choosing!"

I have received donations from California, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts and Maine. So we're trying to go from sea to shining sea.

And I made my first contribution to a candidate. My friend Peter Marchetti, whom I met thru the Rhonda Serre campaign, is trying to reclaim his at-large seat on the Pittsfield City Council. Talk about a dysfunctional body. Oh well, it's Peter's choice.

More later....I got to bed at 1:30 on 6/21, got up at 5:30, drove to worcester and was compis mentis, got home nad now it's 11:30. I think I'm crashing.


Saturday, June 18, 2005


At some point in high school, we had a film in the auditorium (remember those days?) for history or government that had Joseph Welch, the congressional prosecutor of Joe McCarthy, explaining the ins and outs of the judicial system. And then, if I'm not mistaken, he played the judge in Anatomy of a Murder. He is one of my favorite people.

Obviously his best known line from the McCarthy era was "Sir, have you no shame?" And I think of Joseph Welch and that five word phrase when I look at pictures of Jeb Bush on TV and in the newspapers.

Silly me, I was under the impression that he was the smart one in the family. I sort of felt sorry for him because his parents dissed him when he married a Hispanic woman, and he's been eclipsed by his way more doltish older brother.

Either he has early onset dementia, or he's one of the cruelest people in public life today. Take your pick.

'Nuf said. I haven't had breakfast yet and don't want to ruin my digestion.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Al Franken for Senator

"In this country, we are going through a very dark period," he told his audience, "and someday your grandchildren are going to ask what you did, and you are going to tell them, 'I worked my butt off." ( Al Franken on the possibility that he might run for Senate in MN in 2008)

Which is why I started my own Political Action Committee. After the election, I did the whole "catatonia" thing for two days, moved on to the "let's drown our sorrows in San Diego Bay" thing (no, that does not mean offing oneself by jumping from a bridge....that means drinking margaritas and looking at the water, the skyline and the mountains and realizing that life still has meaning....margaritas can do that for you. Then I did the whole "numbness" thing, which included trying to pretend there wasn't an inauguration and throwing myself into work, where I try to protect elders from the ravages of the healthcare system.

The numbness thing had to quickly be replaced by the "vigilant citizen" thing, because a friend of mine was running for an open state rep. seat this past winter. It wasn't my district, and we had 57 days to see if anyone knew who she was. She ran the best campaign, but 57 days in the dead of winter wouldn't give you enough time to let people know that John Beresford Tipton was in town. We had the best message and the best candidate. We were also trounced. Luckily the Republicans were too dumb to nominate the more electable of the two people running in their primary, and so the D's waltzed to victory.

Before the numbness thing set in again, I realized something.

I knew a lot ABOUT politics, I knew a lot of people IN politics, and I knew a lot of people INTERESTED in politics. I'm the local "go to girl" in my small town when there's a campaign for some obscure office. "Marge, who should I vote for?" is the constant question heard on the street. So I decided to put my money, and OPM, where my mouth was and start my own PAC.

I have always been a supporter of Clean Elections and contribution limits. My first run for Selectman, I put on a $25 PER FAMILY contribution limit and raised over $1200. Donated a couple hundred back to the high school scholarship fund. Won in a landslide (well, almost....) I've always been proud of that race because some people thought I was "stupid" not to accept $100 donations. Later in my term I needed to make a hard choice on an appointment to a board and "some people" had a much different opinion than I did. Luckily, they hadn't contributed 10% of my campaign coffer!

So now I'm inching up on the $1K mark in the Margaret Johnson Ware PAC. I'm about to write my first check to a candidate campaign committee. I only accept donations up to $132 per person. I'm looking for candidates who have a viable chance of changing the system and who stand for the issues that I'm interested in.

So at least when my grandchildren hear about the dark political days of the early part of the 21st century, when civility was lost from politics, and personal invective was the rule of the day, and they say "Grammy ....what did YOU do to make a difference?" I can say "I worked my butt off."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Rationality from the "Other Side"

I heard Christine Todd Whitman from the Commonwealth Club on NPR today. It was obviously an old broadcast, because the compromise on the nuclear option hadn't been concluded yet.

While I don't agree with the times she tried to make GWB look like a good guy, in general her talk made a lot of sense. Her book "It's My Party, Too" is probably a hat in the ring for 2008, certainly a way to make $, but who cares if what she says is true. It is also a reminder to Democrats about what it feels like to be a conservative in our party. And it's nice to know that there are a few R's out there who still want a constructive dialogue on the issues of the day. Her comments on energy, for the most part, were fairly tolerable. Her comments on the Schiavo case were right on!

It's always good to remember that no "side" owns the truth, and that you can learn a lot more from listening than from speaking.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

That Was The Week That Was

Now, if you get the popular culture reference in the above title, you ARE dating yourself, but it means you're my kind of people.

I figure I have about three faithful readers, so to them I apologize for no new "news" in the last week. We had an engagement party for my son on Saturday, and that entailed transforming the entire house from a den of dirt into something presentable enough to be seen by his future in-laws. In the middle of that an old college friend showed up, and so I HAD to see her, and that set me back even more.

The party went off without a hitch and a good time was had by all families. This is not always the case and we feel INCREDIBLY lucky that our future d-i-l is so wonderful and has such a great family. We are almost over the whole "Republican" thing. In fact, my goal for the next visit is NOT TO MENTION PARTY AFFILIATION ONCE. (We'll see how I do....)

Meanwhile all the people in the blog world are talking about "The Downing Street Memo." I will now tell you something very embarrassing.

I have purposely NOT read anything about the DSM. You know why? Because I would either be outraged, or depressed, or both. I would feel that I'd (and the world had) been had, and I just can't deal with all those emotions right now. I'm putting my effort into something constructive, my new political action committee, called, surprisingly, "The Margaret Johnson Ware Political Action Committee" (in part because under Mass. law a PAC controlled by only one person needs to identify itself as such.) I have put the DSM in a category of "wake me up when 5% of the population has heard of, and is outraged, by such, and then I'll hop on."

I use the figure 5% because back in the days of a wonderful movement , early to mid-80's called "Beyond War," they had two interesting factoids about the adoption of a new idea. For an idea to become "imbedded" in the public consciousness, 5% of the population had to hold that idea. For an idea to become virtually a fait accompli it had to be adopted by.......can you guess? Not 50% but 20% of the population. That's right. When 20% of American became CONVINCED that Richard Nixon should be impeached, it was as good as done. No, it didn't happen at that moment. But it had reached a critical mass that made it a virtually unstoppable notion.

So when 5% of ....hmmmm, should it be the U.S. or the world, or Western Europe or what? Well, we'll have to go with U.S. because I can't really get a handle on "world" opinion. When 5% of the U.S. has heard of the DSM and feels that it rises to the level of an impeachable offense, send me an email.

As usual, I have digressed, but that's my perogative is it not? Later this week I'll tell you the story of my PAC and the wonderful initial success it has had.

And so to bed.....

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Thomas Friedman Says It Best

I know that it's au courant for some progressives to trash Tom Friedman these days, but for my money I still think he's one of the only people walking straight (please, it's a figure of speech...don't go all PC on me here...) down the middle and telling the truth.

I've never done a LINK on this blog, and it may not work, but here goes:

One of the joys of living in a small town is that you often have access to speakers and events that would elude you in the wider world, where you'd need an expensive ticket or you'd have to line up 48 hours in advance. In this corner of the world, we have Jim Lehrer, Tom Friedman and lots of other interesting people on a regular basis, which makes life here at least palatable when you think the rest of the world has passed you by.

So read what he says. I sent it to my son in the BIG CITY (DC) and he wrote back "I'm crying."

What was even more amazing was that the class of 2005 Valedictorian, rather than being a boring nerd, was just as compelling as Friedman. Let's hear it for a good liberal arts education. Especially for a student from Bulgaria who triple-majored in German, economics and math.

Is this a great planet or what?

It Has Come to This

Tom Finneran was indicted. Another thing I didn't think I'd see in my lifetime....

But imagine this. When the news of the redistricting situation and the US Attorney's interest in it became public, I emailed/called some members of the Democratic State Committee, including the Affirmative Action chair.

No one said anything. No one has said anything. Omerta. We protect our own.

If a Republican speaker had done this we'd be all over it like a cheap suit. Instead we stand silent. Is no one else embarrassed? Or are we to take silence for embarrassment and know that as good Yankees, we keep stiff upper lips?

When will the Boston party insiders admit that it's people like Finneran and Charley Flaherty who make it possible for all those Republican governors to win? Because people don't want complete control of the state in Democratic hands. Because they're not sure they can trust us.

What's even more pathetic is that the Republicans can't take advantage of the obvious dissatisfaction and run credible candidates for auditor and treasurer. They can't figure out who the REALLY bad guys are and run a moderate Republican against them who would get silent progressive support.

The "good guys" in MA politics want the same thing -- good schools, good government, decent healthcare, a clean environment. We may have different approaches, depending on our registration, but we want it without undue influence from lobbyists and mischief makers.

Do you think Mike Dukakis could be persuaded to come out of retirement?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

So That's How Mark Felt.....

It happened within my lifetime. I finally found out (along with millions of other inside track) the identify of Deep Throat.

I feel a bit embarrassed because I consider myself not exactly an EXPERT on the Watergate scandals, but they certainly could attain the rank of avocation for me, as opposed to hobby. And I had never really heard of Mark Felt. I'm sure I read his name at various points when people were doing pseudo-scientific analyses of DT's identity, but I never really focused on him.

I was 22 1/2 when the DNC headquarters was burgled. A legislative aide for a moderate Republican Member of Congress. Our main focus that summer was going to George McGovern campaign events. In fact, the junior staff of the aforementioned M of C would stand around in the reception area of the office arranging carpools to various events. We were not told who to vote for, but we were asked not to plan our political activities in the front hall of a Congresswoman from the opposing party. Bad form.

I actually remember at one point during that year when I felt sorry for the Republicans, although not for Richard Nixon. My boss sat on the Banking and Currency Committee and Wright Patman, the chair, a real Texas good ole boy, had decided that some aspect of this just HAD to be investigated by his committee. I guess he was following the money. In any case, he ran roughshod over procedure, witnesses and anything else that stood in the way of him grandstanding. I could actually be genuinely sympathetic to my Member for what she had to endure as a junior member of the minority.

We lost the Presidential election, and I lost my job in the spring of '73. Soon after I was working at George Washington University and do remember that we had the hearings on the radio a lot. But apparently the guy who had fired me from Mrs. Heckler's office was spending all his time watching the hearings on TV and not getting any work was everyone's hobby.

We went to Europe after my husband took his bar exam, and only vaguely figured out that something was happening at home...sure enough, it turned out that the Vice President was a crook. Who'd a thunk it? He had been the great liberal savior of 1966 when his Democratic redneck opponent had run on a slogan like "Your Home is Your Castle" referencing his opposition to fair housing laws. But he was quickly converted to the pit bull he was and learned to alliterate.

Meanwhile, everything that happened at the White House became a joke. By the time Rosemary Woods told us with a straight face that little gremlins had erased the 18 1/2 minutes of tape, it said something about our collective willing suspension of disbelief that the entire country didn't get up from that movie and walk out. I shudder now to think how brain dead we were...on the other hand, in subsequent decades we've evidenced that it was not a passing phenomenon so why should I take responsibility?

Living in Washington, EVERYTHING was about Watergate. If someone invited you to dinner at 7:30, you didn't LEAVE YOUR HOUSE until 7:30, no matter how far away they lived, because you didn't want to miss one minute of Agronsky and Company. I think it was James J Kilpatrick who tried to keep up a valiant defense of the President until even he had to admit that he had been duped. The low point, of course, was when Nixon asked his own daughter to go out and lie to the reporters. I felt then that it was only fair that years later, as much as I loved Bill Clinton, and thought he was being unfairly targeted, I should equally criticize him for putting his family in a position where he wasn't honest and asked his wife to front for him and put his daughter through public humiliation. That ain't OK.....

The summer of 1974 we left on a cross-country journey of three months. One of the great lessons of that summer was that, in most parts of the country, NO ONE WAS TALKING ABOUT WATERGATE!!!! There was a drought out West that summer, and unless God was elected President, what happened in DC didn't really affect people's lives too much. It was at this point that I developed my theory that as long as the Treasury kept printing payroll and Social Security checks, it would be a long time before the American public knew whether the President had flipped his lid or not.

The first harbinger was the "Impeach Nixon" bumper stickers at the Helena MT Stampede (which has been favorably compared to the Calgary Stampede I'll have you know...)And then, one day, as we came down out of the mountains of Wyoming and got radio reception for the first time in days, we heard a reporter say "Senator Gale McGee said today that, in light of the smoking gun, he would now vote for impeachment...." WHAT? We raced for a phone and the cowboys in Gillette were none too happy when we tied up 50% of the pay phones in town calling home and trying to get a clue to what was going on. The Denver Post's front page had some hog prices on it....

These were the nascent days of NPR. Frankly, we'd never heard of it or listened to it because DC had a classical AM station that we always listened to. But all the way across Wyoming, South Dakota and Minnesota we listened to call in shows and radio reports giving us a aural report on the quickly deteriorating situation. By the time we reached Albert Lea MN on that Friday we were just in time to see Nixon resign. I think we had enough class not to cheer but to be saddened by the fate of the country. That night we watched a capsule of the week's news and saw in two hours what the last five days had brought. It was one of those weeks where you will always remember where you were.

Journalism has never been the same. Electoral politics has never been the same. It was the final straw on the back of the camel first saddled up by Robert McNamara and Lyndon Johnson. You couldn't trust anyone in politics or government. They were all crooks. Who ever heard of public service?

There have been many unintended consequences of that era. Every once in a while I long for a smoke-filled room where candidate's potential peccadillos are vetted prior to their circulating nomination papers. I cringe at the power of telegenicity but realize that it started in 1960, or perhaps ironically in 1952 with the Checkers speech. And then I realize that we have come full circle when individual voters like me put their own spin on things and create their own fifteen minutes of fame.

It wasn't the first assault on the Constitution, and it won't be the last. And, in fact, the Constitution was the big winner, showing the world that a government of laws, not people, was the prevailing rule of the day.

Of course, one wonders whether this nation, this Congress, this Court, would be as diligent about searching for the truth.

I hope we won't need to test that hypothesis......