Go fish! Baker baits the media

Charlie Baker’s tears have launched a fishing expedition for the old man and the sea: the subject of his moving story. So far, nothing, which doesn’t help the Republican (the story is “real to me,” he says, a somewhat egotistical standard). Jonathan Carvalho investigated for New Bedford’s Standard Times (hat tip to Commonwealth Magazine’s excellent The Download free email service):

Questions surface about Charlie Baker’s story about a New Bedford fisherman

The day after Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker emotionally recounted the story of a New Bedford fisherman in a televised debate, people intimately involved with the city’s fishing industry and high school athletics say they don’t know of a family that fits Baker’s description. …

“No one comes to mind that I can think of,” said Jim Kendall, president of New Bedford Seafood Consulting. “I’ve gotten several calls on this, texts and emails, too. … I’ve checked around, and no one seems to be able to put a finger on who it would be.”

Kendall said he believes he would have pinned it down because he’s been working in the fishing industry for 51 years.

“I’ve been running several fishery groups in the city, that’s all I do,” he said. “I would think I have a pretty good grip, if not knowing the individual, knowing who to reach out to, and so far I’ve been unsuccessful.” …

A source with a longtime association with New Bedford High athletics said after many years familiar with the program, he did not know of any two brothers at NBHS receiving football scholarships, never mind going fishing instead.

Meanwhile, Yvonne Abraham underlines Baker’s emotional fragility to make a broader point – a sharp contrast, one might add, to the maturity, experience and resolve Coakley displayed at the debate:

Republican Charlie Baker was going along nicely in Tuesday night’s debate, exuding competence, speaking with authority about taxes and paid sick leave.

Then the gubernatorial hopeful came apart, telling of meeting a fisherman ruined by federal catch rules. “I may not make it through this story,” he began, promptly succumbing to tears.

New Falchuk Ad Calls for Third Party

I have embedded the ad I believe JimC is referring to in the post. - promoted by Bob_Neer

No one’s going to read this or comment on it, but I feel duty-bound, since I slammed him for what I considered a less than candid approach on his bumper stickers. Evan Falchuk’s new TV ad explicitly says (to paraphrase), “Independents are the majority, we need our own party.” And he names the party.

Of course I dispute the argument; independents are supposed to be independent. But props to him for being direct.

The crying game

The #MAGov news of the day – first reported by Matt Stout at the Herald, as far as I know, but since picked up at the Globe and elsewhere – is that Charlie Baker’s emotional story about the fisherman, the retelling of which caused him to choke up in last night’s debate, stems from an encounter during his 2010 run for Governor, not from this campaign.

Is that a problem?  Hard to say.  On the one hand, there’s no doubt that the problems facing fishermen in Massachusetts remain real, and that they are a legitimate issue for any gubernatorial candidate to care a lot about.

But on the other, the revelation that Baker’s story is actually about five years old does, at least to me, make Baker’s emotional breakdown during the debate seem less authentic, for several reasons.

  1. If you listen to the debate again, you’ll see that, while Baker never actually says that he heard the story recently, the way he presented it seems designed to make you think that was the case.  The question, after all, was “when was the last time you cried,” and he refers to the fisherman story as one he heard during “the course of the campaign.”  He didn’t actually say “this” campaign, so maybe Baker’s setup qualifies as accurate (the Politifact rating would probably be “half true”).  But I came away from the story with the clear (mis)impression that Baker’s encounter with the fisherman was fairly recent.
  2. That leads me to think that part of Baker’s debate prep was how to respond to some kind of question relating to a campaign trail event that somehow meant a lot to Baker, and that Baker and his team decided that this story, even though it’s five years old, was the best one available.
  3. And if you think about it, it makes sense that Baker would choose this story.  It’s totally guy-friendly – the fisherman was a “big huge guy,” and his sons were football stars, so there’s relatively little danger of opening up a masculinity gap by crying over their story (the latest WBUR poll shows Baker up 12 points among men, and he can’t afford to lose many of them since Coakley leads among women).
  4. More importantly, Baker’s takeaway from the story is that – and this is an exact quote – “I feel we have let the federal government drive the data process associated with this, which has driven the rulemaking process, and has left these people with no one.”
  5. See how perfect that is?  An undeniably touching story about a Massachusetts family in very difficult circumstances is happening because of bad data.  It’s the perfect rejoinder to the charge that Baker is a data-driven numbers wonk who doesn’t care about actual humans.  It lets him say that data really does matter, and good data can help people.
  6. I’m not even saying that Baker is wrong about that.  I don’t know enough about the very difficult issues surrounding MA’s fisheries to have much of an opinion on the details, but it is true that having accurate data on what is actually happening in the fisheries is the key to formulating good policy.  I’m just saying that, IMHO, it is no accident that Baker chose to tell this 5-year-old story, rather than a more recent one – surely, someone on the campaign trail this year has moved Baker to tears? – that wouldn’t have let him make his point as clearly.

So.  Was Baker play-acting?  I have no idea – if he was, he’s pretty good at it (certainly, he convinced Globe columnist Thomas Farragher).  But nobody should think that Baker told that story solely because it’s actually the last time he cried (was it really? there’s no way of knowing).  I’d lay good money that he had practiced telling that story as part of his debate preparation, that he was looking for an opportunity to tell it throughout the debate, and that he told it when the moment presented itself (on a silver platter, as it turned out).

Lost in all of this, unfortunately, is Coakley’s response to the “most recent cry” question.  Coakley said that she had cried that day at the memorial service for John Laughlin, a/k/a long-time BMGer striker57.  We miss him too.

We Should All Cry After Seeing Charlie Cry Tonight

An emotional moment. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Let me get this straight. Charlie Baker cried or pretended to cry for a fisherman with two sons for whom he refused college scholarships  (approx $400,000.00)  so they could instead become fishermen like him and his father before him but the federal fishing regulations are killing the business.

Get me a box Kleenex.

Are you fucking kidding me? Maybe this fisherman should not have acted like the most selfish father in the history of the world and let his kids take the college scholarships.

Anyway, this is what gets Charlie worked up on the campaign trail. I guess the mothers of kids who overdosed or came home in body bags from Iraq and Afghanistan don’t get him as teared up. Or maybe they do but he’s never engaged them.

How about those Republican policies Charlie? On the other hand Dems protecting overfished waters by a dying industry is worthy of a good cry.

So let’s get Martha elected. Then we can watch the disaster of her governorship play out for the next four years. Still better than the irreversible problems, dangerous policies, and questionable people Charlie will bring to the office.

Calling All Massachusetts Women

Thanks for the heads-up about this - I was not aware of it. Here is the full list of non-binding "public policy questions" appearing around the state this year. - promoted by david

An insidious non-binding referendum has appeared on the ballot in multiple districts in Massachusetts.  Women, wake up!

This non-binding referendum reads as follows: Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that requires all non-hospital facilities performing more than 10 abortions a year to be licensed as “clinics” and to be inspected at least every two years by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health?

This was placed on the ballot by the Mass Citizens for Life in vulnerable districts as follows:

Northeastern paid ZERO pilot funds this past year. ZERO.

Fuel for the ever-smoldering fire of proposals to revise the laws and tax large non-profit educational institutions in the Commonwealth. - promoted by Bob_Neer

For anyone unfamiliar with PILOT funds (payments en lieu of taxes), they’re the chump change cities sometimes ask wealthy “nonprofit” organizations like the city of Boston’s colleges and hospitals to pay up in return for city services, like having paved roads, a sewer system and first responders.

Approximately 50% of all the land in Boston is owned by non profit organizations, land which would be worth nearly $250 million a year in annual revenue if it was taxed.

This means residents have an unfair tax burden while rich universities which charge students tens of thousands a year more than state school — and have hundreds of millions or billions in the bank — pay little or nothing for most of their property.

Boston’s colleges have a horrible track record on fulfilling their PILOT obligations. Of those, Northeastern’s rank greed is by far the most embarrassing — and after they’ve completely stiffed the city this year, dining on its services and ditching when the city asked it to at least go dutch on the tip, it is time to cry foul.

If Northeastern and the litany of colleges and other wealthy nonprofit institutions in the city can’t pay a measly 12.5% of what their tax bill would be in PILOT funds, it is time to tax them in full.

Read here for the Globe’s story on this. There are many more bad actors.



MA-9: John Chapman is a disgrace

Charlie Baker's party. - promoted by Bob_Neer

By now, some of you may have seen the video John Chapman, Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. William Keating, has on the front of his website. Titled “Bill Keating: Invisible and Ineffective” this video shows people from the 9th Congressional district attempting to name their Congressman and failing. Today’s Patriot Ledger called the video an unwise stunt, but it is way worse than that.

During the debate between Keating and Chapman this evening, it was revealed that one of the gentlemen filmed in the video is a mentally disabled person, incapable of even answering the question. This despicable action cannot be tolerated. Taking advantage of the political disengagement of certain residents for political gain in itself is bad, but then irresponsibly using video of a mentally disabled man is grounds for disqualification. John Chapman has proven himself completely unworthy of having his name on the ballot next Tuesday and should be ashamed of himself for this extremely shameful act.

Update: Here is the audio from the debate. The disclosure about the video is at the 32 minute mark.

Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming

It's Fri 11/21 through Sun 11/23. I can't make it - perhaps we could assign a BMG embed? - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Just wanted to make sure people know about this upcoming conference which may be the start of something really exciting. I know from my monitoring of Harvard, MIT, and other universities that ecosystem solutions to climate change are not only not on their radar but met with antagonism when brought up. The conference organizers can use your help (and mine) in getting the word out.

Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming

We have solutions!
More of our man-made carbon emissions to date have come from land mismanagement and the resulting loss of soil carbon than from burning fossil fuels. The good news is that we know how to remove that atmospheric carbon and store it back into the soils where it belongs, by harnessing the power of nature.

The Conference
Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming is a 3-day conference with the goal to bring the power of biology front and center in the climate conversation. We are bringing together a stellar roster of speakers—scientists, land managers and activists—and participants from around the world to learn from one another and to devise strategies to expand vast natural soil carbon sinks around the world. To learn more about the speakers: http://bio4climate.org/conference-2014/speakers/

Register here:

Help us support the conference!
Donations will keep tickets affordable, provide scholarships, pay for materials, assist with major outreach efforts before and after the conference, and help support our hard-working and dedicated staff. Any contribution is greatly appreciated!

Restoring Ecosystems to Reverse Global Warming is hosted by the Tufts Institute of the Environment and the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

The climate scientists may not be considering these possibilities but the organic farming movement is jumping into it with both feet. They see a possibility to increase soil fertility at the same time they can help filter the atmosphere of fossil fuel pollutants and maybe even collect carbon credits, if that system ever becomes viable.

Carbon Farming: Organic Agriculture Saves the World

Christine Jones on Soil Carbon

Holistic Management

Cows Save the Planet

Disclaimer: I have been tangentially involved in planning the conference.

Joke Revue: Christie Sworn in as Doctor


Christie Sworn in as Doctor

TRENTON (The Borowitz Report)—Saying that he was “sick and tired of having my medical credentials questioned,” Governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.) had himself sworn in as a medical doctor on Sunday night.

Dr. Christie acknowledged that becoming a doctor generally requires pre-med classes, four years of medical school, plus additional years of residency, but he said that the Ebola epidemic compelled him to take “extraordinary measures, as we say in the medical profession.”

Dr. Christie said that, beginning on Monday, he would begin a series of random “house calls” to check New Jersey residents for Ebola and assign them for quarantine. “I can usually diagnose someone with Ebola in under a minute,” Dr. Christie said. “Even faster if I don’t actually see them.”

The doctor said that before moving forward with his plan to quarantine scores of New Jersey citizens he suspects of having Ebola, he consulted with other prominent epidemiologists, including Dr. Rick Perry, of Texas. “He concurs,” he said.

Dr. Christie defended his quarantine plan against critics, noting that unorthodox procedures in medicine often face opposition at first. “We’re used to hearing that the nurses and doctors who treat Ebola patients are heroes,” he said. “But the real heroes are the people who lock up those heroes.”

Study: Fear of Ebola Highest Among People Who Did Not Pay Attention During Math and Science Classes

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)—A new study, by the University of Minnesota, indicates that fear of contracting the Ebola virus is highest among Americans who did not pay attention during math and science classes.

According to the study, those whose minds were elsewhere while being taught certain concepts, like what a virus is and numbers, are at a significantly greater risk of being afraid of catching Ebola than people who were paying even scant attention.

Interviews conducted with people who spent math and science classes focussing on what they would be having for dinner or what the student in front of them was wearing revealed the difficulty they are currently having grasping basic facts about Ebola.

For example, when a participant of the study was told that he had a one-in-thirteen-million chance of contracting the virus, his response was, “Whoa. Thirteen million is a really big number. That is totally scary.”

Davis Logsdon, who conducted the study for the University of Minnesota, puts the number of Americans who did not pay attention during math and science classes at seventy-two per cent, but adds, “I seriously doubt most people will know what that means.”

Daniel Kurtzman:

“TSA Chief John Pistole announced that he is stepping down. So whoever takes his place is going to have some pretty big shoes to take off.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Earlier today the head of the TSA announced he’s retiring. His employees toasted him with less than 3 ounces of champagne. Then they gave him a gold watch and he had to take it off and put it in a bin.” –Conan O’Brien

“During an interview, Senator John McCain declared that the U.S. isn’t winning the war against ISIS. Even ISIS said, ‘Well, not with THAT attitude.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“The marriage rate has hit an all-time low, with 1 in 5 adults over 25 having never been married. In fact, an ad firm has come up with slogans to get people on board. One slogan is: ‘Marriage, satisfaction guaranteed or your money back — half of it, anyway.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“A new poll shows that only a slim majority of Americans think the country is prepared for an Ebola outbreak. But I think we deal with outbreaks pretty well. It only took us a couple of months to completely eradicate Gangnam Style.” –Seth Meyers

“New York City is overrun with rats. We have so many rats that today Mayor Bill de Blasio was on live television asking every citizen here to make sure to have your rat neutered.” –David Letterman

Latest poll: Coakley up 4

A New York Times/CBS/YouGov poll released today (taken Oct. 16-23) showed Martha Coakley holding a 4-point lead, 45-41, over Charlie Baker.

YouGov is an online-only operation, and its methods are controversial.  However,

recent analysis by election forecaster Nate Silver found Internet polls were slightly more accurate than telephone polls in 2012.

So, take it for what it’s worth, which at this point is probably about as much as any other poll.  To its credit, the Boston “Charlie’s up 9, plus we like him” Globe actually posted a small item reporting this poll on its website.

Did anyone think the Globe would *not* endorse Charlie Baker?

Bumped, for glory. - promoted by david

In a thoroughly unsurprising move, the Globe endorsed a Republican – Charlie Baker – for Governor.  Lots of people saw this coming a mile away.  I was one of them.  At the end of August, I wrote this, on the occasion of the Globe endorsing Steve Grossman in the primary:

Endorsing a guy who probably won’t win the primary, and in the process setting out all the reasons why Coakley isn’t a good candidate, sets them up perfectly to endorse Baker in the general. I’d say the odds are better than even that they’ll do just that, if Coakley wins the primary.

Two days later, on Sept. 2, I was more emphatic:

My prediction is that if Coakley wins the primary, the Globe endorses Charlie Baker.

And so it came to pass.  And, really, the Globe has always liked Baker.  In 2010, despite his disqualifyingly godawful campaign, the Globe said this in the course of endorsing Deval Patrick for reelection:

Baker is a very intelligent administrator who would be a forceful and capable governor…. [H]is managerial skills are stellar. Over 15 months on the campaign trail, he’s sought to speak for private-sector workers who’ve suffered from pay cuts and benefit changes and want their state government to share their pain. In important ways, it already has. But Baker, a former state administration and finance secretary and Harvard-Pilgrim CEO, is justified in criticizing Patrick’s reluctance to force municipal retirees to join Medicare or to give cities and towns the power to design less-expensive health plans without union approval. Whatever the state’s economic climate, voters deserve the most efficient government possible, and Patrick must continue to fight for reform even after tax revenues bounce back.

That’s pretty much the line in today’s endorsement: Baker’s an awesome manager, and we need a manager more than anything else.

Effective activist government isn’t built on good intentions. To provide consistently good results, especially for the state’s most vulnerable and troubled residents, agencies need to focus on outcomes, learn from their errors, and preserve and replicate approaches that succeed. Baker, a former health care executive, has made a career of doing just that. During this campaign, he has focused principally on making state government work better. The emphasis is warranted.

One interesting point in all of this is that today’s endorsement makes almost no mention of what the Globe said back in August was most needed from Baker (in the course of endorsing him in the GOP primary over joke candidate Mark Fisher): a vision for governing that goes beyond management expertise.

Charlie Baker has shown himself to have the skills Massachusetts voters often look for in a Republican gubernatorial nominee: He’s a creative manager, committed to rooting out waste and finding new ways to solve problems…. Baker offers nothing like a competing vision [to Deval Patrick's], only a nuts-and-bolts fix to the bureaucratic machine. But after all the cracks are mended, and the leaks plugged, which way does the ship sail? Mapping out a larger agenda for the state’s success will be a key challenge for Baker, if and when he secures the GOP nomination.

Did Baker rise to the “key challenge” of “mapping out a larger agenda”?  You wouldn’t think so to read today’s endorsement, which other than the obligatory nod to Baker’s “full-throated support” for charter schools, is startlingly devoid of policy discussion.  Instead, the Globe contents itself by saying that “one needn’t agree with every last one of Baker’s views,” whatever they are, to vote for him, and concludes with this:

At a difficult inflection point in state government, Massachusetts needs a governor who’s focused on steady management and demonstrable results.

In other words, we were kidding when we said back in August that Baker needed to show a vision, or even to talk much about what he actually wants to do other than improve efficiency.  We really just want a manager.

Anyway, this is all very interesting, but almost certainly irrelevant to the outcome next Tuesday.  As we’ve discussed several times in recent elections, newspaper endorsements have a pretty poor track record recently – just ask Senator Dan Winslow, Governor nominee Steve Grossman, Lt. Gov. nominee Leland Cheung, Treasurer nominee Tom Conroy, Mayor of Boston John Connolly, and any number of other endorsees who have failed to convert a Globe editorial board endorsement into actual votes.

No, what wins is getting your supporters to the polls on election day.  You know how to help do that.

Whose side are they on?

Thanks Senator, as always, for posting here! - promoted by david

The Massachusetts governor’s race comes down to one basic question: Who can you count on to fight for Massachusetts families?

When things get really tough – when you work hard, play by the rules, but something terrible happens and you’re struggling to make it – who is going to be on your side, in your corner, fighting for you?  Who is going to build a future that expands opportunities not just for those at the top, but for people all across this state?

The answer to those questions has nothing to do with who smiles the most in the debates, who has the snazziest slogan, or whose TV ads you like best. It’s about who they fought for when it really mattered.

Yesterday I stopped by a campaign office in Framingham to talk about whose side Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker are on. Here’s what I told the volunteers:

I hope you’ll watch but, more importantly, I hope you’ll share it with your friends. Share it with people who may have gotten to the polls in 2012, but maybe haven’t made up their minds yet this year.  Share it with people who might not have focused on why it matters to vote on November 4.

Charlie Baker is having no problem getting his message out to the people of Massachusetts.  Why?  Because he’s got money.  The national Republican Governors Association – a group funded by Big Oil, Wall Street, and the Koch Brothers – has spent more than $8 million in attack ads against Martha.

They aren’t pouring that kind of money into a Massachusetts governors’ race because they want to help working families in Massachusetts.  Nope.  They put that kind of money in Massachusetts because they believe Charlie Baker will help those who have already made it. They want a governor whose record is firing workers and outsourcing jobs – not investing in people so every kid in our Commonwealth has a chance to succeed.

Here’s our message to Charlie Baker and his billionaire friends: Massachusetts is not for sale.

Share this video right now to let your undecided friends know what this campaign is all about – and why we need to elect Martha Coakley to fight for all of us.