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

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


I feel terrible about putting these two contrasting observations in the same post. And yet it is the essence of life.

The news from the South is devastating. After making jokes like "I hope that the storm doesn't hit Commander's Palace" (our favorite NO restaurant) it now appears that the Big Easy did not dodge a bullet and in fact it and the neighbors in MS have experienced something that the rest of us can only begin to imagine. My favorite charity for this kind of things is Episcopal Relief and Development, but Red Cross, Salvation Army etc. are all good choices.

It also happens that five months after starting my own political action committee, I may have scored a win in my first venture out of the gate. Pat Jehlen appears to have won the Democratic primary for a special election for State Senate in the Somerville area. I feel like my efforts were worthwhile, even though they were a VERY small part of her overall fundraising efforts. Most about that another time....

Isn't that the essence of life? Yin and yang....mundane and ethereal....ridiculous and sublime.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


...when you're sitting on the beach in Eastham?

I know I haven't posted in a VERY long time. But HELLO! Do you think I started this blog so I could have YET SOMETHING ELSE to feel guilty about? I mean, this is like my answering machine at home. I ONLY LISTEN TO THE MESSAGES WHEN I FEEL LIKE IT...ITS NOT FOR THE CALLERS' CONVENIENCE, IT'S FOR MINE! So this blog is for when I want to say something and not like I have an editor breathing down my neck saying "Your column is due!"

That having been said, I want to thank the people who tell me they actually READ this thing. It's a great privilege to be someone that you use your valuable time to check in with. And I want to respect and honor that.

But I did wonder what I should write about seeing as how I was at a cottage pumping my own water and getting back to nature by improvising showers and using dishwater to flush the toilet with. (You think I'm making this up? I'm not.) But it was gorgeous and relaxing and I was privileged to be there. But it does make one ask "How are you going to get revved up enough about something to write about?"

I mean, it's not like you want to hear "How I spent my summer vacation..."

And then Cos (and I'm sorry but I've forgotten the name of his blog) very appropriately pointed out some things about the special state senate election that's being held Tuesday that got my blood going. So it just shows to go ya...

He pointed out that Pat Jehlen, the individual that MargePAC is supporting, is in favor of nonpartisan redistricting and same day registration and a lot of other "clean elections" kind of legislation. I had been getting discouraged because she was not endorsed by the Globe and I thought maybe I had been too hasty in supporting her. But when Cos pointed out these differences with one of her opponents (and perhaps all of them) I revitalized the courage of my convictions.


Oh, and please, don't start with "but that's the way the people have control. They can vote out the politicians but not the nonpartisan commission." Yeah, and how do I vote out the Billy Bulgers and the Finnerans the the Travs and the Sals? Give me a break. I'm not even saying Trav and Sal are bad people. But why have a special election on 30 August? Give me a BREAK!

Believe it or not, more than the war in Iraq, we should be concentrating on changing the way that electoral districts are drawn in this nation. In other countries, it's nonpartisan. Since ours are drawn for incumbents, not only is there VERY LOW TURNOVER in both the national and state legislature (I'm not expert enough to comment on any other jurisdiction than MA...) but it means that individuals run to the extreme in their party, since the primary is the only place they can potentially be beat. But of course if you're a good party member (and I consider myself to be one) you don't run against a sitting member of your own party unless s/he has done something egregious. And if the district is drawn for them, then the other party doesn't have a chance in hell.

So take that to the extreme. The House of Representatives is made up of M's of C who are extremely liberal or extremely conservative. So there's no compromise, no consensus, no meeting of the minds. And yet the average voter is a moderate on one side or the other.

Until we look this square in the face, we're condemned to decades of deadlock. (Title for a book?) Doesn't make me happy. What about you?

Monday, August 15, 2005


and of course in the Fools category, I have my black belt.

So just in case anyone cares, I think the NARAL ad was a BIG MISTAKE.

I know I know, people say "Why can the slimy Republicans demo John McCain and demonize John Kerry and get away with it and we can't play hardball?"

1. Because we're not a party where people of good will sit around and do nothing when they see something unfair (They Are.)

2. Because we don't have the stomach for slime.

Does that make us wusses? Well, if the definition of a wuss is someone who refuses to stoop to the lowest level just because "they did it first" then sign me up. No election is worth selling one's soul for. And, as I said in a previous post, I think we have to accept the fact that Bush called our bluff when he nominated a non-slimeball for the SCOTUS. Doesn't mean he doesn't have to answer questions and produce the work product from his days in the Reagan White House. But what it DOES mean is that all those people who were gearing up for a fight NO MATTER WHO GOT NOMINATED can't turn on a dime.

We need to maintain our focus on lying about WMD, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, the corruption in Ohio and the overarching question of how we draw national legislative districts in this country. I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on TV, but it seems to me that if people are members of a NATIONAL legislature, then it should be up to a nonpartisan, computer-assisted, "intelligent design" to draw the boundaries in all 50 states. Politics should have nothing to do with it. The reason we have come to such a divided Congress and polity is that districts are drawn in the House for safety's sake, meaning very few are competitive to begin with, and most people run to the extreme side of their party's spectrum to maintain their bona fides. There's no premium on nuanced answers or thoughtful bipartisanship.

I wonder how bad things are going to have to get before people throw up their hands and take responsibility for a broken system. Or are we all numb?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Do I REALLY Have to Go Home????

I just received an email from a close friend asking me if I'd read this month's issue of Harper's. No, I hadn't. Well, he said, any blogger worth her salt, any PAC chair needs to read this.....I told him that sitting in Oak Bluffs, looking out over the water, riding my new bicycle, and reading a Jonathan Kellerman mystery all seemed like lot better ways to spend my time than worrying about the state of the nation.


But I have learned a couple of things this weekend.

I am now an OFFICIAL MA BLOGGER!!! Lynne from "" included me on her distribution list. This means I have arrived and I will have to find a way of suitably celebrating it. And when I put my URL into an MSN website, some of my postings came up on the search engine. OH MY GAWD!!! I mean, it's one thing to find yourself on the web under "Ware takes job at Elder Services." It's another to have your blog posts pop up. All this "finding yourself at 55 " stuff is getting pretty exciting.

I have also learned that even my old LWV friend Polly, who is now only part time in MA, and the rest of the year in NH hasn't heard of Deval Patrick. Nor had the people I'm staying with, or the other couple who's visiting. We have our work cut out for us people. I DID see a minivan with a big "" bumpersticker and an old Kerry-Edwards sticker in the parking head at the Gay Head cliffs, so we're not totally unknown. But it's an uphill battle.

Also Oak Bluffs should be DP country. What an interesting town. It's the summer hangout of the black upper middle class. Sort of like Washington DC on an island. BUT NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT POLITICS. White or black. It's more about where are you going to get your ice cream and do you need a reservation for dinner and who took the sunblock down to the beach. I'm not much of an "you have to get on a boat to get there" person but I have to say I like this town. Once you figure out what ferry you need to get on (not as easy as it sounds; two departure points, two arrival points, can't get there from here, etc. etc.) you can ride your bike off and we happen to be within walking/biking distance of the ferry. It's heaven. And yet the house seems very much in the country. And a view of the water. DOES IT GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS?

I am not spending much time philosphizing on why I get to spend the weekend here and others are struggling for healthcare. I do that every day and work hard at it. This weekend is about taking care of myself to gird myself for the hard work ahead this summer making sure 30,000 Medicare beneficiaries know what's happening to them. I need to have my karma together in order to get the job done.

The other wonderful thing has been being with old and dear friends. We are having conversations we haven't had in years, and laughing and singing 60's music and camp songs and Broadway songs and hymns and drinking and walking and eating and chilling out. It is Nirvana. We held hands tonight at dinner and sang grace.

We haven't sung this song, but it sums up this glorious weekend. I know Karl Rove is an asshole and that the election was stolen in Ohio and that people are starving in Africa and my daughter's house hasn't sold, but.....


Peace. Keep fighting. But take care of yourselves. We need to be in shape for the work ahead.

Monday, August 01, 2005


I know I'm a little slow on the uptake, so I'm probably the last person in the fundraising world (to which I'm incredibly new....) to discover "Act Blue" ( --I think!!!

I discovered it because at LITERALLY the eleventhg hour, I decided I wanted to contribute to the "we're the definition of an uphill battle" Paul Hackett campaign in Ohio. I got a $20 to my PAC from a person in OH who shall remain nameless. It was an act of faith on her part, and so I thought the least I could do was match it with $20 to an Ohio candidate and put in my own two cents. So tonight I gave $20.02 to Paul and gave Act Blue a 10% "tip" for being the conduit.

Then I discovered I can have my OWN "Act Blue" account which of course I have named "MargePAC." I realize that this solves one of my problems in terms of setting up 50 PACs. I can have a Federal PAC someday, and keep my MA PAC, but for state candidates in other places I can use ACT BLUE as the vehicle. I commend them for figuring all this out way before I did.

I've put Deval Patrick and Martha Coakley on my "Fundraising List" but the sight says they're not in a position to give to these campaigns yet. Not to worry. I'm sending them money from the PAC, but in the future it will be a way to "advertise" their candidacies to others. And maybe add some interesting races like CT and VA gubernatorial runs.....

This stuff is FUN! What a hobby, and it's cheaper than skiing.....


Yes, this is one of those weeks where I'm probably glad I'm NOT a Member of Congress.

I would have voted for CAFTA. And received the undying animosity of most of my party.

Get over it people. The world is flat. Shit happens. Life changes. We have to compete against everyone in the world. It's not just New England competing against the South for where the textile mills are going to go.

Easy for me to say. I have the kind of job that can't be exported. That is, unless people in India want to talk to elders and explain the Medicare D program to them.

But the reality of life is that unless you work in a service industry that demands that you be present ON SITE (the last time I checked "they" hadn't moved the Grand Canyon or the Empire State Building) then everything is up for grabs. Are you smarter? Do you work for lower wages? Do you need health insurance?

Am I saying I like this? No, not necessarily, although there is a whole philosophical question about whether people in the U.S. deserve to live at a much higher standard than people in developing countries. Do you wonder whether the British felt this way in the 19th century?

I was not an econ major, so I'm sure there are a lot of holes in my argument, but the bottom line is that the more we put money in the pockets of people in other nations, the more they will buy our goods, the less incentive they will have to immigrate and the more there will be some economic "balance of power" around the globe.