Caucus schedule posted

Heads up. - promoted by david

Due to the convention not being until September 19th this year the caucus window is May-June rather than the usual February-March.  The only reason it seems we have been given for the later date is the hope of presidential candidates stopping by on their way to New Hampshire.  Since the registration deadline is in the charter (with a proposal to amend it out pending) you still had to be a Democrat by January 31st the later dates notwithstanding.  Personally I’ve long wondered why we bother during the odd years instead of just doing Democratic Campaign Institutes, but local committees can use these as an organizing tool IFF they capture relevant information.  There’s usually not much competition for delegate slots in the odd years and often slates are incomplete so if you are new to the process or know someone who is this is the time to get yourself or them involved.  The schedule is posted here.  Check-in is open from 15 minutes before to 15 minutes after the announced time.

These MA Representatives Just Voted to Erode Your Privacy Rights...Twice

According to jcohn88: "Neal, Kennedy, Moulton, and Keating voted twice to erode privacy rights. McGovern, Tsongas, Clark, and Capuano voted twice to defend them." - promoted by Bob_Neer

During his State of the Union address, Obama highlighted two issues where he would work with the Republican Congress which should have raised red flags for progressives: trade and cybersecurity.

Yesterday and today, the House of Representatives took up legislation on the latter issue passing two bills described by civil libertarian groups as surveillance bills in disguise.

Yesterday, the House passed the Protecting Cyber Networks Act 307 to 116. 202 Republicans and 105 Democrats voted for it. 37 Republicans and 79 Democrats voted against it.

Earlier this week, a coalition of civil liberties groups and security experts wrote to Congress urging members to oppose the bill.

Here is what PCNA would do:

Authorize companies to significantly expand monitoring of their users’ online activities, and permit sharing of vaguely defined “cyber threat indicators” without adequate privacy protections prior to sharing.Require federal entities to automatically disseminate to the NSA all cyber threat indicators they receive, including personal information about individuals.

Authorize overbroad law enforcement uses that go far outside the scope of cybersecurity

Authorize companies to deploy invasive countermeasures, euphemistically called “defensive measures”

Marty Walsh thinks First Night is too big for the City to run

In fairness, to make the obvious comparison Boston 2024 is a private group, thus the proposed change would make the Olympics and First Night at least organizationally similar. - promoted by Bob_Neer

After Mayor Menino rescued the annual First Night celebrations, it appears that Mayor Walsh wants to get out of the responsibility of First Night essentially because it is too difficult:

“We are not in the business of running events like this,’’ Walsh said. “We can handle small events. First Night is logistically a fairly large event with many different moving parts.”

While I don’t necessarily object to the City trying to find someone else to run the event, I do find this statement inconsistent with Walsh’s insistence that the City has the capability to actively plan and monitor the development of the 2024 Olympics. Even the planning of the City’s own responsibilities for the Olympics will dwarf that for First Night.

First Night has been a popular annual event in the City for almost 40 years. Unlike the Olympics, it caters primarily to the local population and involves mostly local artists, musicians and dancers. If Marty Walsh truly believes that an important and popular local event such as First Night is too onerous a responsibility for the City to bear, then he should admit that the City has absolutely no business taking on the 2024 Olympics.

 

 

Kinder Morgan CEO Compares Gas Pipelines to Cigarettes

Time to kick the habit, not just get a bigger drug delivery device. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

cigaretteKinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct fracked gas pipeline has hit all kinds of trouble, with nearby residents saying it’s not worth the risk, and folks all over Massachusetts saying its $2.7 billion cost is far too high and that fracked gas is just as bad for our climate as coal.

As Darren Goode reports (sub. req.) in Politico Pro, CEO Richard Kinder (net worth: $12 billion) is sick of all of us Massachusetts residents trying to tell him what he can and can’t do in Massachusetts:

Kinder Morgan CEO Richard Kinder said environmental protesters are using natural gas pipeline permitting as a “chokepoint” in their war against fossil fuels. But he conceded the protests are working and that his company — which owns stakes in or operates 84,000 miles of pipelines in North America — and the broader industry need to do a better public relations job.

“We’re doing everything we can,” including running ads featuring Kinder Morgan employees, Kinder said. “But, you know, it’s very difficult because protests are news and it’s difficult to disprove the negative.” The broader industry also hasn’t “done a good enough job in explaining how important what we do really is to the economy,” he said. “Sometimes I think people think we’re manufacturing cigarettes.”

Both fracked gas pushers and cigarette makers rake in huge profits by manufacturing a deadly, polluting, expensive product that’s designed to keep us addicted no matter the cost to our public health. Well, I guess Richard Kinder and I agree on something: That’s a perfect analogy!

Happy Earth Day! (*not actually about Earth)

[subhed: "Why my climate-blogging sucks"]

Today President Obama makes a speech in the Everglades talking about the effects of climate change on things that we value. The Everglades — like the entire state of Florida are susceptible to sea level rise — thereby brining its waters.

The Everglades are a treasure, and a great location and symbol, ecologically and politically. But as Joe Romm points out at length, climate change is not about the “environment” or a “healthy planet” or somesuch high-minded, altruistic stuff:

Affection and concern for our “precious planet” is misdirected and unrequited. We need to focus on saving ourselves.

Self-defense. It’s about us, and about fundamental blood and guts facts of human existence: whether we can get enough food; whether we have a place to live; whether our shelters can survive the elements; and whether our children will live a relatively easy life, or a hardscrabble, violent life of scarcity.

MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svg

“MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds” by FireflySixtySeven – Own work using Inkscape, based on Maslow’s paper, A Theory of Human Motivation.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Don’t get me wrong: Our relationship with nature is one of the fundamental facts of the human soul. Just look at any era of art, music, or poetry and you will find connection to the land, sea, and sky. It’s part of what it means to be human. But with climate change we’re really talking about things lower down on Maslow’s Pyramid — the baser needs of survival.

Meanwhile, most of us find it difficult to even raise the subject of climate change: Only 26% of us actually ever bring it up in conversation. (Even here, most of my climate-mongering lands with a big thud, which squares with my experience — with bona-fide progressives! – in meatspace.)

This makes perfect sense. It’s awkward as hell, for any number of reasons:

  • It’s depressing. Yup.
  • It’s so huge that we feel that it’s utterly beyond our control. Yes. And powerful interests — perhaps the most powerful special interests on the planet — are arrayed against us.
  • We are all “hypocrites” — we all have a carbon footprint, and probably a pretty large one, simply due to living the lives that we know how to lead.
  • … which devolves into lifestyle-mongering and one-upmanship, even if we don’t want to! Well I drive a small car, or I eat less/no meat, or etc etc. I mean, even Scott Brown “recycles all the time.”
  • We cling to our “climate thing”: That miniscule part of the puzzle we can actually relate to — usually something nature-related. For Jonathan Franzen in his maddeningly half-stupid essay, it’s bird habitat. OK as far as it goes. But not the whole story.

But I keep coming back to this: We have to change systems, not just ourselves. Personal conscience and individual choice plays some part in addressing climate, but it’s not sufficient. We did not ask to be born into a fossil-fuel economy. We did not ask for this particular interaction of economics, politics, and geophysics. You’re not a hypocrite. It’s not your fault.

We have to change systems. That means that — in my strongly held view — the greenest possible thing you can do on “Earth Day” is to write a letter, make a phone call, or schedule an appointment with an influential elected official regarding climate change — as represented by these issues:

The people who can actually make those big changes are Presidents, Governors, legislators, and corporate leaders. That’s big, systemic change. We’ve got to catch the conscience of the king.

And it’s important to know that we are making actual progress. Last year we had economic growth with lower emissions for the first time ever. We have the President on the United States, many billionaires, and the world’s most highly capitalized corporation on our side. We have more pressure points than we realize.

The byword is to do what we can, as much as we can, as soon as we can. Not for “the earth”. For us.

Joke Revue: "Rand Paul Joins Crowded Field of People Who Will Never Be President"

Borowitz:

Rand Paul Joins Crowded Field of People Who Will Never Be President

LOUISVILLE (The Borowitz Report)—With an official announcement on his campaign Web site, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has joined a crowded field of people who will never be elected President in their lifetimes.

While Paul and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are the only officially announced Republican candidates with a zero-per-cent chance of ever winning the Presidency, a burgeoning roster of totally pointless candidacies is waiting in the wings.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and neurosurgeon Ben Carson are just a few of the men thought to be considering squandering time and money pursuing an office that they will never occupy in a billion years.

On the Democratic side, only former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has stepped forward as someone who could only be elected to the White House in an alternate universe.

Minutes after his announcement, aides to Senator Paul said that they believed that he would emerge as the top choice of voters who are determined to waste their votes in 2016.

“There’s no one out there who has a more remote chance of being elected, unless Trump decides to run,” one aide said.

Onion:

Man Pleased To Find Most Of His Mid-’90s Anti-Hillary Rant Still Usable

DECATUR, IL—Expressing relief that he would not have to construct an entirely new diatribe from scratch, local man Harold Willis was reportedly pleased Monday to discover that most of his anti-Hillary Clinton rant from the mid-1990s was still perfectly usable. “I got rid of the stuff about her ’93 health care plan, but besides that and a few other tiny fixes, there was still lots of good material,” said Willis, adding that once he updated it with a couple Benghazi details and a quick tag about the recent controversy over the presidential candidate’s State Department email server, the well-worn harangue would be good as new. “I figured out I could just replace the part about her being a frigid woman with how she’s just another corrupt Washington politician, so that was an easy fix. I’ll probably tighten up the Whitewater section a bit, but unless there are any big surprises during campaign season, this should easily last through the election.” At press time, Willis happily realized he could simply recycle the allegation that Clinton conspired to murder Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster without changing a single word.

Daniel Kurtzman:

“John McCain addressed critics who believe he will be too old to run for a sixth term in the Senate, saying that he’s still healthy and ready to go. Then people around McCain said, ‘Why is he talking to that mannequin?’” –Jimmy Fallon

“John McCain responded to critics who say he’s too old for a sixth term by saying that his mother is 103 years old and doing well. The crazy thing is that even she is somehow younger than John McCain.” –Jimmy Fallon

First-world public transportation

A glimpse at what could be.... - promoted by david

Various sources like this report an impressive example of first-world public transportation (emphasis mine):

A Japanese maglev that is the fastest passenger train in the world broke its own speed record this week.

Operator JR Central said the train reached 375 miles per hour (603 kilometers per hour) in a test run on Tuesday, surpassing its previous record of 361 mph (581 kph) set in 2003. The train traveled for just over a mile (1.8 kilometers) at a speed exceeding 373 mph (600 kph).

The maglev trains, begun as a project of Japan Airlines and the national railways with government support, have undergone decades of testing. Construction of the Tokyo-Osaka link, which is expected to cost more than 9 trillion yen ($76 billion), began in 2014.

Traveling by rail from, say, Chicago to San Francisco currently takes three days and two nights. America is a HUGE country with geography that begs for technology like this.

The Japanese government and people looked at a SEVENTY SIX BILLION DOLLAR investment and said “YES”. Why can’t we do the same?

Corporate Owners Shrink New Bedford Standard-Times, Literally This Time

Shrunk down to where you could drown it in the bathtub. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

NewBedfordStandardTimesMy local New Bedford Standard-Times has been shrinking for years, laying off nearly half of its newsroom staff since 2005, and now it’s again shrinking physically. I woke up a month ago to find my morning paper had lost an inch off each side, with a note inside helpfully informing subscribers the paper is becoming “more compact.” Even the smaller size didn’t help spread out the woefully thin news coverage – just 3 pages worth.

As the Boston Globe’s Jon Chesto has documented, GateHouse Media has been conducting an experiment with its nine Massachusetts daily newspapers: How small can it shrink the journalism staff while still getting readers to pay for it?

“They are finding that even in 2015, there can be lots of efficiencies in these enterprises, which is somewhat surprising given that we’ve had cutting for seven or eight years now,” said Ken Doctor, a media analyst who runs the Newsonomics blog.

But some say it’s not just jobs that are being lost.

“You get this homogenization effect,” said Thomas Caywood, a reporter who left the T&G post-acquisition after his request for a modest pay raise was denied. “Yes, it’s more efficient to have this design center in Austin. But I think you lose some of the regional individuality. GateHouse is to journalism like what Olive Garden is to Italian food.”

GateHouse and corporate owners like it aren’t fooling anyone.

#THANKSOBAMA

We’re coming up on Earth Day, which is not really at all about Earth for Earth’s sake, but about us and our needs.

Thanks to President Obama for his leadership — at least on some fronts. Here’s his weekly address from yesterday.

He’s trying to do great work in the face of resistance from the denialist death cult, including new EPA carbon regs, and trying to fashion a legally binding climate agreement with other countries this December. (The Trans-Pacific Partnership, on the other hand, may well be a large step back.) But consider the alternatives from the GOP field, and get Ready for Hillary.

New Poll Shows the More You Know about the Boston 2024 Bid, the Less Likely You Are to Support It

Further evidence of how incredibly poorly Boston 2024 is managing the critical task of getting people - especially Bostonians - to like the idea of hosting the Olympics. If they want the bid to have any chance, it seems to me that a near-total housecleaning of their leadership is in order. - promoted by david

On Friday, the Western New England Polling Institute released a statewide poll on Boston’s 2024 Summer Olympics bid. It found that 46% of Massachusetts voters oppose the bid while only 40% of voters support it. When the poll looked at all adults, instead of just registered voters, it was slightly closer, but the edge was still to the opposition: 43% opposition and 42% support.

Boston area voters registered the strongest opposition: 48% opposed the bid, while only 35% supported it. North Shore and South Shore voters opposed the bid 47% to 40%.  Central MA voters opposed it 46% to 40%. Western MA voters, by contrast, supported it 54% to 34%.

But this regional variation wasn’t the most interesting find. The poll also asked voters how much information they have heard about the Olympic bid, and the results showed that the more information people had heard, the more likely they were to oppose the bid.

Of those who said they had heard “a lot” of information, 62% opposed the bid, and only 27% supported it. Of those who said that they had heard “some” information, 53% opposed the bid, and 35% supported it. Of those who said that they had heard just “a little” about the bid,” 45% supported it, and 39% opposed it. Of those who heard that they had heard nothing at all about the bid (“none at all”), 51% supported it, and 29% opposed it.

In other words, the more people knew about the bid, the less likely they were to support it.

The relationship between information and position on Boston 2024 immediately reminded me of a poll from the Globe from last June, the first publicly available poll on the Olympic bid.

That poll found slim support (47% to 43%) statewide for the bid, and it, like this new poll, also showed Metro Boston more opposed than other parts of the state and Western Mass more supportive.

But what really stood out in that poll was what happened when you presented respondents with the arguments from both sides. The pollster presented the following two statements to respondents and then asked which statement came “closest to [their] own view.”

Supporters of Boston’s plan to pursue the 2024 Olympics say that hosting the summer games will provide Boston and the region with a lasting legacy of improved lives, a stronger economy, a more modern infrastructure, and a community with a stronger sense of connection and vision.

Opponents say that the likely costs do not outweigh the potential benefits. They say that hosting the 2024 summer games would take significant investments in our infrastructure and cost between $10 to $20 billion dollars – which could be better spent on education, housing, and transportation. Based on what on you know at this time, which statement comes closest to your own view?

63% sided with the opponents, and only 29% sided with the supporters. A majority of respondents from every region sided with the opposition.

Bob DeLeo guarantees that the legislature's joint committee structure will end this year

This is a couple of days old, but still worth noting.  As you may recall, there’s an ongoing dispute between the House and Senate regarding the joint committee structure, in which most legislation is vetted via committees composed of both House and Senate members.  However, because there are more members of the House than the Senate, the committees are lopsided, and in effect give the House total control over whether or not legislation advances out of the committees.  This is a bad system that, frankly, should have been changed years ago (only a couple of other states still use it), as I’ve already discussed.

Well, House Speaker Bob DeLeo – obviously the current system’s primary beneficiary – decided that the best way forward was to author a Boston Globe op-ed pretty much trashing the Senate.  In DeLeo’s view, the Senate’s desire to have equal ability to bring legislation to the floor is “ill-advised, disruptive, and would be detrimental to the public interest,” and also “an impolitic and manufactured reaction to a non-existent problem and is a significant distraction at a time when the Commonwealth is at a critical juncture.”  It goes on to offer a bunch of arguments in favor of the current system that are so weak as not to merit refuting.  One Globe commenter got it right: “The guy who has used the current rules to claw his way to the top of the pile, and whose power is founded on those rules tells me everything is fine and we should leave the rules just as they are. Sure, why shouldn’t I believe him?”

Not surprisingly, DeLeo’s stink-bomb went over poorly in the Senate, which promptly voted 39-0 to move forward with plans to establish separate Senate committees for reviewing legislation.  Commonwealth Magazine reports that “[o]ne senator said following the vote that the harsh tone of DeLeo’s op-ed pushed some senators who had been ambivalent about exercising the so-called ‘nuclear’ option to support today’s move toward establishing separate committees.”  That reaction was about as predictable as the sun rising in the east.

DeLeo’s frankly childish op-ed is probably a good thing in the long run.  It guaranteed that the Senate will move forward on a separate committee structure that will give it more say in moving legislation forward.  And since the Senate is at the moment the far more progressive branch of the legislature, that’s good news as far as I’m concerned.

I agree 100% with Elizabeth Warren on this

Preach, brother! - promoted by Bob_Neer

Sen Warren periodically pops up and decries Wall Street, Big Banks, Credit Card Companies, etc. Sometimes I’m with her, sometimes I’m not. Periodically though she is on the backs (modern phrase: “up in the grill”) of regulators in the financial industries. When she is, I am the biggest fan. As I am involved in a financial compliance function, I know what my own company must do to follow the rules. Why financial services companies don’t have to do this, is beyond me.

Here’s a link to her latest:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/15/elizabeth-warren-wall-street_n_7073040.html

 

I understand the DOJ has gotten billions in fines from various Wall Street and others. That’s not the point. For many companies fines and penalties are just a cost of doing business. In the nation’s money capital, the motto is probably “so fine us- we’ll just make more.”  Note: these fines are usually against the corporation. It’s only when you really put personal hardship on an individual (including making an example of him) that other individuals will ignore their greedy impulsive and behave as proper participants in our economy. The SEC used to pursue this path against company CFO’s. Basically boot them out, take all their money and make them permanently unemployed. Other CFO’s though twice before any monkey business.

Why have the regulators been slacking? I watched one Warren grilling and they have no  answer- they just hang their heads. I”m sure a long Atlantic article or something could get to the bottom (starting with the revolving door). What doesn’t matter is why, the question is why doesn’t anyone care in this administration? Is it really the Republicans fault, when:

The President has appointed the entire SEC.

The DOJ is an Executive branch.

The President has appointed the entire Fed.

That’s all the regulators. Again, sure they’ve gotten a lot of money out of the offending entities. Anyone think they’ve learned their lesson and won’t do it in the future?

I fully expected in 2009 to see some perp walks. I know they’ve had trouble figuring out how to convict people (your average juror probably can’t figure out interest on a credit card, let alone listen to detailed financial dealings), but I don’t care. Figure out a way. It’s important to our economy. The financial services companies have the most money and top to bottom the smartest people. They are working to bend the rules every day (anyone think high frequency trading is okay?). They have to be countered.