What We're Fighting For

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I’ve seen too many posts and comments here, and too many op eds around the country arguing that Democrats have to choose between an economic program that lifts working families up and fighting for civil rights for all Americans. Skeptics of fighting for civil rights mislabel it “identity politics” while skeptics of the working class agenda falsely equate it with the white nationalism of Trump.

What the hell happened to our party? We used to believe fighting for civil rights and the New Deal were our greatest achievements. Hillary Clinton’s maiden speech of the presidential campaign at Roosevelt Island eloquently linked the fight for economic equality with the fight for civil rights. So have Sen. Sanders and Warren. We’re all on the same page if we signed up for this party.

1) Civil Rights

Equal Justice for All. This means black lives must matter. This means stopping the inhuman deportations and travel bans of this administration. It means fighting on behalf of our Muslim and Jewish citizens when their houses of worship or burial grounds are targeted. This means making our schools bully free zones for Muslim, immigrant and LGBT students alike. And if the Feds won’t help us our states and mayors and school boards gotta step up. It means fighting for civil liberties and a free press. It means protecting our civil institutions from creeping facism. This is important and we have no excuse not to fight.

2) A New Deal for This Century

Globalization and automation can’t be reversed, but the unprecedented profits these advances generate gotta go back to the people. Progressive taxation, truly universal health care, universal college and more radical ideas like basic income have to be coupled with stronger labor unions, stronger worker protections and stronger safety nets. This is the most hostile administration to workers in American history. Time for them to own it and time for us to fight it tooth and nail while building a better vision for a fairer America.

3) Global Leadership

I feel like foreign policy got the short shrift in this election and continues to do so, even though this is where the administration has caused the most damage. Old allies like Mexico and Australia are being alienated while foes are being embraced as friends with false promised of change. We can’t have that.

A strong NATO, a strong UN, and strong alliances are Democratic achiemenrs that have been the hallmark of our foreign policy and kept the peace for a half century. America First always means America Next, and just as we couldn’t appease our way to better relations with Hitler or Stalin we can’t appease our way to better relations with Assad or Putin.

Keep it Simple

Civil rights, a New Deal, internationalism. These have always been the hallmarks of American liberalism and our party. We invented social security, the civil rights act, NATO and the UN. Our party built that and should own that. Our party has always been the party of immigrants since my ancestors came off the boat at Ellis Island and my wife and her family flew into O’Hare.

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel-we just gotta do a better job of being ourselves.

Did Globe Forget Inflation Exists & Miss Amazing MassHealth Story?

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Boston Globe reporter Jon Chesto had a great story on Sunday about how Gov. Baker is floating a plan to sharply increase the per-employee fee on companies that don’t provide health coverage. I’m greatly summarizing, but MassHealth enrollment has nearly doubled over the last decade, with a comparable increase in costs to the state. It’s hard to say exactly what the main driver is, but but workers are taking advantage broader eligibility under Obamacare/ACA, while employers may be cashing in by letting big government pay for their workers’ health care.

Accompanying the story is this graphic, designed to look like MassHealth spending is skyrocketing:

GlobeNotAdjusted

The problem is that these numbers aren’t adjusted for inflation (if they are, the graphic doesn’t say so). If you don’t adjust for inflation, everything is much more expensive over time. In my day, the ferry to Shelbyville only cost a nickel!

And here’s the thing: If you adjust for inflation, putting all the numbers in 2017 dollars, an amazing thing happens:

So... at what point should sane states secede?

A dark view... - promoted by david

Or at least try to secede?

It’s pretty clear that there are many badly-broken things in our country. Our federal government is run by nuts, kleptomaniacs, and sadists. Our health care and health care reimbursement systems are a bizarre joke. We’re the only industrialized country to not have paid leave for sickness, child birth, and vacation. Our wealthy pay taxes at an astonishingly low rate, and openly purchase our legislators and our laws.

And so forth.

And there is no body, on whole, that speaks for the 99%. There are a few in power who look to do the right thing, but both major political parties are far to the right of the average American on many issues – war, taxes, health care, Social Security, etc. They serve the 1%, not us, and many have made personal fortunes in doing so.

We are a stupid and savage nation.

At what point does make sense to throw in the towel, and let the Scheisskopfs engage in their lunatic games without sucking us into the bonfire? Perhaps sane states like Massachusetts can join up with Canada or others to finally move beyond the great sickness that’s taken hold, because I don’t see how this mess gets fixed in any reasonable amount of time, and without a terrible price.

Piloting Field Trips

  - promoted by david

PILOT PAYMENTS LIGHT

PILOT (Payment in lieu of taxes) reform often moves to the fore as budget season rolls around. In Boston half of the land is tax exempt, which strains our municipal services. Voluntary PILOT payments are not collected at nearly the rate that they are asked. What can be done?

One idea that I hope gains traction centers around providing BPS students with more equitable opportunities for experiential learning at Boston’s many cultural institutions. The Museum of Science, The Museum of Fine Arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the New England Aquarium, and the Children’s Museum all refuse to pay the amount of money that the City of Boston requests. In fact, of the institutions mentioned above only the Museum of Fine Arts pays any of the CASH PILOT requested. The MFA was asked to pay $1,032,392 in CASH. They paid $68,920. All of these large institutions receive a substantial community benefit credit toward their PILOT payment – or lack thereof.

Teachers know first hand that field trips are not easy to facilitate. One of the major impediments is lack of transportation to and from these world renowned cultural meccas. Navigating and relying on the overstrained MBTA with multiple classes in order to get to a museum wastes school time, is unnecessarily cumbersome, and takes way from the time that we get to spend on location.

A PROPOSAL

I propose that these institutions buttress their community benefit by providing chartered buses to our schools. Doing so would encourage more equitable learning opportunities for BPS students. Students in the suburbs participate in many programs at these Boston institutions. It’s high time that these institutions that reside in our city start putting the kids who live in Boston first. How many Field Trips would the $1,401,965 that is owed by these five institutions provide? Better yet – have the rest of the non paying non profits chip in as well, maybe for some BTU teachers on assignment. If you live in Boston and agree call your elected representatives. Together we can be that change. In union there is strength.

People are thinking

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Ideas to push priority issues has been made more difficult in this political climate. However I received an email today from a member of the Universalist Church that lives up to its name that puts forward a proposal to develop a single payer system. The writer is distributing the message through members of the church, and asking them to pass it on. Many who belong to the church are progressive activists.

They are looking to broaden the chain of taking on more supporters. The proposal is here.

The email also had the accompanying message:

PETE BUTTIGIEG FOR DNC CHAIR

  - promoted by david

The 36 year old Mayor of South Bend, Indiana is my candidate for DNC Chair election this Saturday.  He is a successful, smart (Harvard), articulate, progressive, elected millennial from a red state in the heartland.  Just what we need to win back Congress and Statehouses next year.

He is seen as everyone’s second choice and an outside the Beltway generational bridge between the two deadlocked inside factions — Congressman Keith Ellison from the Sanders wing and Labor Secretary Tom Perez under President Obama.

He served ( US Navy ) two tours of duty in Afghanistan and was endorsed  by former Vermont Governor and DNC Chairs, Howard Dean and  MA Treasurer Steve Grossman and MD Governor Martin O’Malley.

Dean said he would not only lead a 50 state strategy but he would lead a 50 year strategy to re-build the party from the ground up !  Today, on MSNBC Mayor Pete outlined his Four F’s platform : Freedom, Families, Fairness and Future.

Call your member of Congress @ 202-224-3121 — even though they are not voting members of the DNC — to let them hear your voice on this important election for the future of our beloved Democratic Party.  Some MOC can and have endorsed candidates for Chair.  There are 447 voting members of the DNC and a majority is needed to win.  Mayor Pete said it’s like running for Class President.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Fred  Rich  LaRiccia

If you see something...

promoted by david

I see on their website that the Dept. of Homeland Security has trademarked the phrase “If you see something, say something.TM”  I wonder if that will interfere with my t-shirt design?  In any case, I offer it under a creative commons Attribution – Share Alike license, and leave it to people who are more artistically and entrepreneurially inclined than I am (and possibly their attorneys) to take care of the implementation.

It looks like this:

See something?

Greed

Fear

Bigotry

Say something!

The words in the list could be over someone’s picture, or moved around to form the legs of a triangle with a picture or graphic inside; the words in the list could be adjusted to suit your particular concerns.

Time to start reminding people that security comes in a variety of flavors, and that there are alternative approaches to hiding behind a wall with as many guns as you can stockpile.

 

Good news about renewables and jobs makes our failure painfully clear

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Jobs in wind and solar are both growing like gangbusters and comprise the majority of jobs in the electric-power sector, according to the US Department of Energy (motto: Not Eliminated Yet).

More workers in solar than fossil-fuel-powered generation

If the above chart does not reproduce, it’s in the linked story, and worth a look.

Solar alone beats fossil (and nuclear); wind alone beats coal. Cheers and congratulations and thank you to the policy advocates and entrepreneurs who made this possible.

This is amazing good news, and I hate to spoil the party. But I have a question.

An Enemy of the People

  - promoted by david

I know it’s Twitter, and I know we’re supposed to look into his heart, but this is beyond the proverbial pale, and he really should apologize for it.

Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump 1h1 hour ago
The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

EVENT: Let's Get Local: Attracting Capital to Local Energy Projects

promoted by david

Encouraging and empowering people to act locally binds together the local fabric of a community. People build thriving communities when they invest locally. The entire community benefits when small businesses and investors recirculate their dollars in the local economy.

This is something we all hear too often – “shop local”, “think global, act local”. But how often do we apply this framework to our energy use? How often do we turn on our light switch without thinking about where it comes from? Local energy empowers communities to work together to make effective investments, leveraging the support and incentives offered by utilities and the state and federal governments. Come learn about moving capital to local energy projects and building up value in the local economy.

Join Climate Action Business Association for a panel discussion featuring:

  • Charlie Lord of Renew Energy Partners, Principle
  • Isaac Baker, Founder of Resonant Energy
  • Richard Andre, President of  Vineyard Power Cooperative
  • Kevin Dutt, Managing Director of Boston Impact Initiative
  • Moderator: Eric Grunebaum, clean energy consulting via Cambridge Energy Advisors and co-founder of toggle

Date: Thursday, March 23rd
Time: 6:00
Location: 131 Cambridge St., Boston, MA

Schedule:

  • 6:00-6:30 Networking
  • 6:30-7:00 Panel Introductions
  • 7:00-7:30 Panel Q&A
  • 7:30-8:00 Networking

Click here to RSVP.

Trump's Personal Attorney Delivers "Peace for No Sanctions" Proposal

More from Boris and Natasha? - promoted by hesterprynne

What the f-ck are you doing? You’re hanging around my f-ckin’ neck like a vulture, like impending danger.

-Goodfellas

Hours ago, the New York Times dropped a bombshell.

“A week before Michael T. Flynn resigned as national security adviser, a sealed proposal was hand-delivered to his office, outlining a way for President Trump to lift sanctions against Russia.”

The timing, as the lede suggests, is important, but the proposal’s authors, a group of Trump operatives, are more interesting:

Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen hand-delivered the proposal. Former campaign manager Paul Manafort, pro-Putin, Ukrainian parliamentarian named Andrii V. Artemenko, and convicted Russian American mobster Felix Sater authored it. You’re going to hear a lot about these guys in the next few weeks, though Felix Sater is perhaps the most colorful of the four.

The son of an underboss to the “boss of all bosses” of the Russian mafia, Felix Sater has a past that would make his father proud:

  • In 1993, Felix served a year in prison for stabbing a New York commodities broker in the face with part of a margarita glass.
  • In 1998, Felix pled guilty to running a pump-and-dump stock* scheme for his employer White Rock Partners. He was able to buy himself out of jail time by providing useful information to the FBI and CIA.
  • More recently, Felix has been charged with tax evasion. He ran the Bayrock Group with another son of a mobster, doing high-end real estate deals, skimming money from the business, not paying taxes, and trying to cover it up. Interestingly, DONALD TRUMP, JR. and IVANKA TRUMP have been named as material witnesses in the case.

Trump’s denials to the contrary, Felix Sater seems to have grown into the Trump organization like a tumor. Sater and Bayrock’s involvement began with Trump Soho, perhaps the key project ”in the post-bankruptcy era in which Trump appeared heavily reliant on Russian funds to finance his projects. Sater was at the center of that project. The details only came to light after the project got bogged down in a complicated series of lawsuits.”

It was in these lawsuits that Trump denied knowing Sater. However, as Josh Marshall writes,

now we learn that Sater is still very much in the Trump orbit and acting as a go-between linking Trump and a pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian pitching ‘peace plans’ for settling the dispute between Russia and Ukraine. (Artemenko is part of the political faction which Manafort helped build up in the aftermath of the ouster of his Ukrainian benefactor, deposed President Viktor Yanukovych.) Indeed, far, far more important, Cohen–who is very close to Trump and known for dealing with delicate matters–is in contact with Sater and hand delivering political and policy plans from him to the President.

In Russia, and apparently in Trump’s business dealings and presidential administration, it’s not easy to separate the businessmen from the criminals. And it’s not hard to believe that Trump and/or more people close to him are actively involved in a shady push to lift sanctions on Russia.  As John Schindler, a former intelltigence operative who (ironically) writes for Jared Kushner’s father’s paper, has written about Flynn’s now infamous contacts with Russia on sanctions:

it’s difficult to see how Flynn decided to parley with Moscow without a go-ahead of some kind from Donald Trump. We don’t know this to be the case and cannot allege or even speculate that this occurred. But while Flynn is unquestionably a loose cannon, as a career military man he understands the chain of command with perfect clarity. Moreover, accepting that the soon-to-be National Security Advisor opened up back-channels of communication with the Kremlin all by himself is as credible as the notion that the Plumbers decided to break into the Watergate without orders from higher up.

The plot thickens. The motives on the Russian side are clear. We still don’t know why Trump favors Vladimir Putin or lifting sanctions. He’s been trying to do business in Russia since 1986. He likes authoritarians. He likes money. He has poor impulse control.

*  A pump-and-dump stock scheme starts with purchasing a bunch of inexpensive stock on the sly, and then selling stocks quickly and fraudulently to drive up the stock price. When the price gets high enough, the criminals sell their stock at the inflated price. The stock eventually crashes and stock buyers lose their money). 

 

 

 

 

WSJ: Climate-blind, soft-pedaling the predatory Pruitt

The Wall Street Journal is always chockfull of ironies and surprises. Just recently the WSJ’s Bret Stephens delivered the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA, a fiercely eloquent, well-received broadside pushing back against Trump’s attack on reality. Applause! 

One wishes that Mr. Stephens had applied this independence of thought and intellectual integrity to the subject of climate. No: Stephens is a fierce and retrograde climate denier, one of the worst of the ostrich crowd. As he once told Bill Maher, “consensus should not rule science.” Ah. So we should base extremely-high-stakes public policy on fringe opinions, then?

Then there was Kimberly Strassel’s interview with Scott Pruitt (paywall, I read it so you don’t have to), in which she laughably claims that he’s just gonna play it straight down the middle, yessir:

Republican presidents tend to nominate one of two types of administrator to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. The first is the centrist—think Christie Todd Whitman (2001-03)—who might be equally at home in a Democratic administration. The other is the fierce conservative—think Anne Gorsuch (1981-83)—who views the agency in a hostile light.

Scott Pruitt, whom the Senate confirmed Friday, 52-46, doesn’t fit either mold. His focus is neither expanding nor reducing regulation.

Except for killing the Clean Power Plan, one of our last and best hopes for averting an utter climate catastrophe in mere decades — if it takes that long.

Pruitt claims he won’t “prejudge the question” as to whether the EPA will regulate carbon dioxide:

,,, Does EPA even possess the tools, under the Clean Air Act, to address this? It’s a fair question to ask if we do, or whether there in fact needs to be a congressional response to the climate issue.

You may remember Massachusetts vs. EPA, the 2007 case that confirmed that yes indeed, Congress did require the EPA to address CO2. There is no mention of Massachusetts vs. EPA in the entire interview. Huh. Expect more lawsuits as he tries to ignore this hard-fought requirement.

He also promises an anti-intellectual chill, an ideological attack on EPA’s science. In doing so, he essentially uses the Trumpian intellectual black hole “A lot of people believe/don’t believe XYZ”:

… Mr. Pruitt plans to overhaul the agency’s procedure for producing scientific studies and cost-benefit analyses. “The citizens just don’t trust that EPA is honest with these numbers,” he says. “Let’s get real, objective data, not just do modeling. Let’s vigorously publish and peer-review science. Let’s do honest cost-benefit work. We need to restore the trust.”

That is some fancy word salad, loaded with innuendo. Whose trust? Who are you talking about? Dare you talk about “the citizens”, who overwhelmingly support regulations for clean air, clean water, clean energy, and climate action?

No. As we protested at Copley yesterday — Objective Reality Exists.

“Restoring trust” to Pruitt means handing over the agency to the interests of those that have paid for his career advancement. Just look at the names on this press release, menacingly entitled Job Creators, American Energy Producers, Farmers and Elected Officials Cheer Scott Pruitt’s Ascension to EPA Administrator — industry hacks and politicians, from fossil fuels to the pig-shit industry; not a single individual who has actually done environmental protection. And some of us thought that was the agency’s job.

It comes straight from the top: The Trump administration’s incessant lying, about matters large and small, is a slap in the face to every person who is honest, diligent, checks their facts, and tries to do a good and thorough job. That includes the professionals at the EPA who have dedicated their careers to protecting the public from environmental pollution and degradation. And in 46 years, they have been wildly, overwhelmingly successful at it, saving countless lives and trillions of dollars – so much so that doubtless we take their success for granted.

If there’s a silver lining — there isn’t really — it’s that Strassel and Pruitt still have to pay lip service to the critical role the EPA plays. But they make pretty damned clear that this is to be an anti-scientific, industry-captured agency, to be rearranged for the purpose of privatized-gain and socialized loss. We drink coal — they make money.

I beg a favor: If you show up to your representative’s town hall — buttonhole them on climate, as well as health care and refugees and treason and the lot. It’s a problem of long-term consequences that require immediate action.

And Mr. Pruitt — We’ll see you in court.