Hillary's Massachusetts Mistake

Interesting hypothesis. Perhaps all politics is, indeed, local. - promoted by david

When I was at the First Official and Wonderful BMG Stammtisch, I remarked that I really don’t like statewide or national races. Give me a nice race for selectman or school committee, life is good.

State rep, state senator? They are good folks. I know them. I like them. Anything beyond that? If I know them, if I have a past relationship, I’m happy to help. I got involved in the last governor’s race because I met Martha Coakley long before she was elected to anything, and I genuinely like her. I have known Ed Markey for years, having many chats with him during Arlington’s Patriots’ Day parade.

President? I haven’t met a candidate since Jimmy Carter (with the obvious exception of the MA candidates), and while I will happily support the Democrat in the general election, I have no reason to get overly invested in the primary. I will take sides, maybe even slap a bumper sticker on the car, but I really reserve my passion for the local races for candidates who I have met, know, and have personally asked for my support.

So, my email is stuffed with requests to support Hillary, but I have been driving around with a Bernie sticker. He sings to me, and my pragmatic side wants Sanders to do well so the hall isn’t filled with delegates ready to anoint Hillary. Not that I don’t like Hillary, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to give any candidate an uncontested path to the nomination.

I’m watching the NH debate and I’m about to fall out of my chair when Hillary said she couldn’t be an insider, because she was a woman trying to become the first woman president. She wasn’t an insider, but every other establishment Democrat (except for Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee) sat on the sidelines out of deference to Hillary. No problem, no big deal, no need to nail down support, she’s solid in the establishment lane.

When Bernie Sanders points to Hilary and describes her as part of the establishment, and she objects with ferocity, I find it to be beyond incredible, even beyond specious. She was so establishment, such a prohibitive favourite, she could take this whole thing for granted. Quick wins in Iowa and New Hampshire against token opposition, no problem, clinch the nomination, and it’s on to the White House.

Except… it’s not the way things turned out. One of the token opponents, that fringy socialist from Vermont, has gained considerable traction. Hillary needs a boatload of help to minimise a potential 30 point loss, and suddenly she needs a strong showing in the Massachusetts primary on March 1 to counteract the potential New Hampshire disaster.

Where was Hillary on:
July 13, 2013?
June 14, 2014?
September 19, 2015?

She wasn’t at the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention.

Hillary Makes Big Things Happen

One of MA's stalwart elected progressives weighs in. Thanks for posting here! - promoted by david

I am an unabashed, unapologetic, George McGovern liberal Democrat – and I enthusiastically support Hillary Clinton.

Don’t’ get me wrong, I like Bernie a lot and he supports many issues that I care deeply about, but Hillary is passionate about those issues, too.

She’s got the experience, she’s been tested, and arguably, she’s more electable going up against the Republican nominee in November.

However, that’s not my primary reason for supporting her. Indeed, I’m not averse to supporting longshot candidates; I managed George McGovern’s presidential campaign in Massachusetts when he made a brief run in 1984.

I’m for Hillary because she has a history of making big things happen.

One of the issues closest to my heart is ending hunger, both here at home and around the world.

A few days before she was sworn in as Secretary of State, I met with Hillary privately at the State Department for what turned out to be a lengthy session. We talked for a bit about America’s outdated Cold War policy toward Cuba and agreed a change was long overdue, but most of the discussion was focused on hunger. What impressed me most was how she sees the big picture and understands the details needed to make change happen. She sees the forest and the trees.

Senior Massachusetts Republicans weigh in

It's fair to point out that Baker had a significant pay-to-play problem a while back, and Christie appointees just decided that Baker did nothing wrong. - promoted by david

Earlier this week, former Senator Scott Brown endorsed Donald Trump at a rally in Milford, citing his independence with which he liked to identify himself, Trump’s first in NH since the Iowa caucuses.  Brown had previously hosted several candidates at separate fora.

Meanwhile His Excellency Charlie Baker has endorsed Chris Christie, which may well stem from getting assistance from the Republican Governors Association which Christie chaired.

Here's the Reason for the "Progressive" Talk

An interesting take. This may be part of the answer, but there are also substantive differences in approach worthy of consideration within the context of two broadly progressive Democrats. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Ever wondered why all of a sudden the Sanders campaign has started their attack on Clinton on being progressive? Sanders while saying he’s not going negative, and I agree that if you make the distinction of personal attacks, but he isn’t exactly talking about himself either. The same could be said of Clinton in the primary, she has attacked positions but I haven’t recalled any personal attacks.

So here’s the reason, this week in NH based on the UMass Lowell/7News NH Tracking Poll Clinton has gain 16 points. Sanders with still a significant lead with 15%.

2/1 – Sanders 61% Clinton 30%

2/5 – Sanders 55% Clinton 40%

Losing 16% in 5 days is a free fall, I still think Sanders is going to win NH, but I have no doubt that Clinton will use the Sanders free fall this week against him in Nevada and South Carolina where Clinton is already in a strong position. So for those who are arguing over labels, save yourself time and energy, it doesn’t matter. Sanders attack is just good old fashioned politics.

America Cannot Afford an Endless War in Afghanistan

  - promoted by david

By Jim McGovern and John Isaacs

President Obama never wanted an endless war in Afghanistan, but that is exactly what America is currently facing.

Just last week, the Washington Post reported that “Top U.S. military commanders…are now quietly talking about an American commitment that could keep thousands of troops in the country for decades.”

President Obama previously promised to have American troops out of Afghanistan by the time he left office, but last October he announced that the U.S. will keep close to 10,000 troops in Afghanistan through most of 2016 and retain 5,500 soldiers there by the time he leaves office. Now, keeping substantial numbers of U.S. troops in Afghanistan indefinitely is on the table.

After decades of war, the United States learned the hard way that we could exit Vietnam and be stronger for it. A perpetual war in Indochina ended when we were chased out, with helicopters rescuing Americans from rooftops.

Today in Afghanistan, we are at a crossroads similar to the one we faced in Vietnam. We must remember the lessons we learned and stop Afghanistan from becoming another endless war.

Click here to read the full post on Huffington Post.

Jim McGovern is a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts and John Isaacs is the Executive Director of Council for a Livable World.

MARCH BMG Stammtisch

Wednesday's event was a great success! Thanks again to Tom for the idea. Looking forward to seeing you March 2. - promoted by david

The Saloon

After the rousing success of the first monthly BMG Stammtisch (eleven attendees, all conversations off the record. :) ), the second will take place on Wednesday, 2-March-2016, at The Saloon in Davis Square, a quick walk from the Davis Square Red Line stop, starting at 7:00p. There is parking in town lots nearby. All are invited and all are welcome.

The address is 255 Elm Street, Somerville (617-628-4444). When you arrive, tell the host/hostess that you’re with the Blue Mass Group.

NOTE: The Saloon is found down a flight of stairs from the street. It is marked at street level ONLY by the discretely labeled white globe above (on Elm Street), hearkening back to its design theme as a speakeasy during prohibition. The establishment shares ownership with the better-marked “Foundry” at street level, and in fact is in the basement of the Foundry.

This is very much a low-stress low-commitment kind of thing — come if it works for you, no you don’t have sign up, you don’t have tell me ahead of time, no agenda, no program. Picture this as something of a meat-space real-life counterpart to our online community that has meant so much to me for the last ten years or so. We easily find things to talk about.

I hope you’ll come.

Both Clinton and Sanders are progressive Democrats


Senator Bernie Sanders and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton escalated their verbal wrangling Wednesday, sharply questioning each other’s liberal credentials in perhaps the most acrimonious day of their fight for the Democratic nomination.

The two conducted their dispute digitally, with posts aimed at their millions of Twitter followers, and then appeared separately in a CNN sponsored town hall meeting Wednesday night. …

Sanders, in his volley of tweets, called attention to her more “moderate” positions on a host of issues important to the party’s liberal base, including her vote to authorize the war in Iraq, ambivalence about the Keystone XL Pipeline, and support for an early draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“You can be a moderate,” Sanders said in one tweet. “You can be a progressive. But you cannot be a moderate and a progressive.”

Clinton has since said the Iraq vote war was a mistake, and she no longer supports the pipeline or the TPP agreement.

Clinton’s campaign responded Wednesday afternoon in its own series of tweets defending her record and attacking Sanders.

“This shouldn’t be a debate about who gets to define ‘progressive’ — it should be about who will get real results for American families,” stated the first tweet.

“Now, if you do want to make it about who’s a ‘real progressive,’ ” @BernieSanders, what were you on these days?” read the next tweet, which included a graphic that listed several of Sanders’ votes, including those against tighter gun control.

In my opinion, both candidates are progressive when compared to any of their possible Republican rivals, which is the only final choice we are going to get.

At a more specific level, Clinton is more progressive on gun control and will shatter a glass ceiling by becoming the first female president — huge progress for the nation. She is less progressive on regulation of Wall Street. Her management of foreign policy is subject to debate as to whether she made progress for the country or not, but she definitely has more experience in international affairs.

Sanders is more progressive on regulation of Wall Street — befitting his Vermont constituency compared to Clinton’s in her days as a senator from New York — and in general aligns more closely with the progressive wing of the democratic party on environmental and foreign policy (which doesn’t necessarily mean that Clinton is not progressive in those areas, perhaps just less progressive). He is absolutely less progressive than Clinton on gun control, and arguably not especially progressive at all on that matter (which for me is a key defining issue).

What do you think?

Governor Baker Will Appoint a Majority of the SJC in the Next 21 Months

Important. - promoted by david

Today’s announcement that Supreme Judicial Court Justice Robert Cordy will retire in August means that Governor Baker will be appointing a majority of the SJC — and soon.

Justice Francis Spina turns 70 later this year, and Justices Margot Botsford and Geraldine Hines do so next year (March and October).

That was fast.

BMG Stammtisch

Bumped - this is tonight! Charley and I will be there. Also, the pseudonymous trickle-up is the winner of the Iowa prediction contest, so I will happily buy him/her a beverage of choice, should he/she care to reveal his/her identity... - promoted by david

The Saloon

I invite each and every one of you to join me and hopefully us at a hopefully-monthly BMG “Stammtisch” on Wednesday, 3-February-2016, and the FIRST WEDNESDAY of each month after that. This not-to-be-missed event will take place at the The Saloon in Davis Square, a quick walk from the Davis Square Red Line stop, starting at 7:00p. There is parking in town lots nearby.

When you enter the main room (down the stairs from Elm Street, left at the hostess table), I’ll make every effort to be at the round table in the corner to your left. My plan is to simply be there and welcome all who show. I’ll make an effort to put some sort of “BMG” sign on the table.

I know that several of our local political figures read BMG with some regularity, and I’ll reach out to them individually in hopes that they’ll come from time to time. I very much want this to be a low-stress low-commitment kind of thing — come if it works for you, no you don’t have sign up, you don’t have tell me ahead of time, no agenda, no program.

I picture this as something of a meat-space real-life counterpart to our online community that has meant so much to me for the last ten years or so. I am confident that we’ll find things to talk about.

I hope you’ll come.

What is #winning?

Bernie Sanders is officially a phenomenon, and his near-tie in the Iowa caucuses shows that his organization is for real. Congratulations to his supporters.

Can Bernie win in November? I think David Roberts makes a lot of sense in saying that Sanders has faced absolutely nothing like the kind of @#%$storm that he’s going to get from the GOP, the Kochtopus, and the like. And you know, there’s the socialist thing: polls say that some 50% of voters will never vote for a socialist. Good luck explaining that “democratic socialist” thing to people — that’s just not gonna take with a lot of folks. Roberts:

When Sanders supporters discuss these attacks, though, they do so in tones of barely contained outrage, as though it is simply disgusting what they have to put up with. Questioning the practical achievability of single-payer health care. Impugning the broad electoral appeal of socialism. Is nothing sacred?

But c’mon. This stuff is patty-cakes compared with the brutalization he would face at the hands of the right in a general election..

I have also found that these concerns meet with a certain brittle response from Bernie supporters, as if questioning his electability is the same as saying that his ideas are bad or not important. I certainly don’t mean to do that. Sanders is a substantial person, a real public servant, a real legislator, and one who has earned the trust of his constituents again and again. His notion of a “political revolution” in an era of oligarchy strikes as spot on — the very way we talk about the possibilities of politics is warped by the power of money and special interests.

But we have to win in November. Have to. Why? Two main reasons for me:

  • Supreme Court: Campaign finance/Overturning Citizens United; voting and civil rights laws; and respecting constitutional and lawful regulations.
  • Climate: To continue the Obama administration’s path on curbing greenhouse gas emissions through EPA authority, and continuing the remarkable string of international agreements on climate.

I’m sure you can think of more, but the fate of human civilization seems pretty important; and the reclaiming of our politics from oligarchy begins with reversing Citizens United. (The initial name of that organization was Citizens United was promoting an anti-Hillary film. You might say this is personal for her.) I think Hillary is reasonably solid on those positions.

I am not here to defend the perfection of Hillary Clinton. But she is fairly resilient, if not politically agile. She is able to inspire loyalty, even tears, among her supporters. She has a ton of detractors, who among the Bernie believers have become increasingly strident. But I’ve always thought that when speaking for herself, she comes off pretty well. She is running a general-election primary, as it were — based on the idea that she can win.

Bottom line is that I think she’d be a decent president. And that Bernie wouldn’t be able to deliver on his best ideas: Single-payer, free college, etc. Those are generational challenges, and they will probably only happen when they’re somehow not controversial anymore. But right now he’s going to get killed on taxes and spending. Most folks aren’t going to look at his (very sensible) tax bracket plan and think hey, that works out for me. Many will hear about tax hikes and decide that “they” can’t afford it.

Bernie is tapping into a deep and real part of our political Zeitgeist: The idea that we’re being cheated out of prosperity and protections that we should be enjoying: Higher wages, equality under the law, protection from financial predation, health care security (vs. nominal “insurance”) — this is all very salient in the public’s mind. Hillary would ignore this at her peril. (In his way, Trump is also tapping into a vein of dissatisfaction, that people aren’t getting ahead in this economy — which he dovetails thematically with anti-immigrant xenophobia and racism, a narrative of humiliation.)

In a lot of ways, I’d prefer Bernie, but I also think it’s incumbent upon one to assess the situation strategically. I’m very glad he’s in the race, and that his supporters fight on. But I may not vote for him.

(edited for accuracy)

Rep. Clark "Swatted"

A bizarre and terrifying story, made all the creepier by the fact that Rep. Clark has filed legislation to make "swatting" a federal crime. Fortunately, Rep. Clark and her family are all fine. - promoted by david

I’m not really sure what to say about this, other than how horrifying it is.

It was supposed to be a quiet evening. The kids had gone to bed and US Representative Katherine Clark and her husband had settled in, watching “Veep,” on Sunday night.

Suddenly, police lights engulfed their Melrose home.

Clark was startled to find cruisers blocking both ends of her street and police officers, “some with long guns,” on her front lawn. An officer told her they had received a report of an active shooter at her house — a false report, it turns out, possibly prompted by her legislation that would go after similar pranks.

“It’s a pretty terrifying sight at 10 o’clock, after a nice weekend with your family,” she said.

Atrios called it “attempted murder.”

In an interview, Clark said she believes she was the victim of a practice known as swatting — maliciously calling in a false report to police designed to elicit a large law enforcement response, like a heavily armed SWAT team.

That’s strong perhaps … but still, this is pretty awful.

It’s surprising to me that an average person even has the ability to call in a SWAT team. I always assumed the first responders would confirm that something is indeed happening before anything SWAT-like appeared.

Why Hillary Really Won Last Night

Here's to students of history! "And as a student of history I would just note that history was made last night in Iowa. Hillary Clinton was the first woman to win the Iowa Caucus." (Headline adjusted to Title Case) - promoted by Bob_Neer

Another way to understand why Hillary Clinton won last night in Iowa is to appreciate the operating dynamic of the Democratic nomination process.  So consider the delegate math and you’ll see why the Clinton advantage is impossible to ignore.

Of the total 4,349 delegates (3,636 pledged and 713 super delegates)  to the Democratic Convention to be held in Philadelphia July 25 -28 a majority of 2175 are needed to win the nomination.  Clinton has already secured super delegates pledges of 344 as compared to 12 for Sanders.  354 remain unpledged and 3 were for O’Malley who has since dropped out.

The Iowa results ( 52 delegates)  give Clinton 29 (including 7 supers) bringing her total to date 373.  Sanders won  21 for a total to date of 33. Two Iowa delegates are still pending.

There are 33 delegates at stake in New Hampshire on February 9 where Bernie is the heavy favorite followed by the Nevada caucus on 2/20 and the South  Carolina primary on 2/27 where Hillary is favored with her strong advantage among Latino and African-American voters.

There are 12 contests on March 1 Super Tuesday including Massachusetts (121 delegates).  These will be followed by 12 more races starting with Ohio (121 delegates) on 3/15 and ending with New Jersey (126 delegates) on 6/7.

John Adams said : ” Facts are stubborn things.”   In the final analysis, I believe the math favors Clinton but Bernie is not going to make it easy for her and it’s going to be a long, drawn-out brawl to the finish line.  Fasten your seatbelts, friends.  We’re all in for a long, bumpy ride.

And as a student of history I would just note that history was made last night in Iowa.  Hillary Clinton was the first woman to win the Iowa Caucus.

Fred Rich LaRiccia