"Donald Trump: the madman in his castle"

An entertaining opinion piece in The Guardian by Ben Fountain (“Isolated from power, the Republican party has turned inward and driven itself insane on a toxic mix of fear and rage. Trump is its natural figurehead”) features this from Norman Mailer on the GOP in 1968:

They had been a damned minority for too long, a huge indigestible boulder in the voluminous ruminating gut of every cow-like Democratic administration, an insane Republican minority with vast powers of negation and control, a minority who ran the economy, and half the finances of the world, and all too much of the internal affairs of four or five continents, and the Pentagon, and the technology of the land, and most of the secret police, and nearly every policeman in every small town, and yet finally they did not run the land, they did not comprehend it, the country was loose from them, ahead of them, the life style of the country kept denying their effort, the lives of the best Americans kept accelerating out of their reach. They were the most powerful force in America, and yet they were a psychic island. If they did not find a bridge, they could only grow more insane each year, like a rich nobleman in an empty castle chasing elves and ogres with his stick.

Of course, the contemporary GOP is not, and has not been, isolated from power, so the thesis of the piece is weak: they control, among other things, the Congress and, until very recently, the Supreme Court. Still, Mailer’s quotation is a fine morseL.

Clinton chooses Kaine

Wisely? NYT’s most relevant para:

Ultimately, Mrs. Clinton, who told PBS that she was “afflicted with the responsibility gene,” avoided taking a chance with a less experienced vice-presidential candidate and declined to push the historic nature of her candidacy by adding another woman or a minority to the ticket.

Kaine is Clinton’s Biden: an accomplished leader who stands on his own merit and is a reassuring, centrist choice for a majority of the country. Clinton’s goal, more clearly than ever, is to win.

Trump Burns the Barn

It was a very long speech. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Yes, it was too long, and it was redundant.

It had some clunky moments, like when he pledged to get rid of Obamacare.

People calling it “racist” have one really solid anecdote, about the immigrant who killed, was released, killed again, and is still at large.

But … it was Trump at his Trumpiest. He spoke of his issues in simple terms, and he sounded liked he believed every word. It was the best speech he can give. He rose to the moment.

NEVER doubt that he can win this thing. He absolutely can.

Video here. It’s really worth hearing.

The only question Hillary Clinton needs to ask to win this election

Ponder-worthy. - promoted by hesterprynne

How does pulling out of NATO and raising consumer prices by 55% make America great again?

The Brexit vote ranked the British economy and is estimated to lose thousands of British jobs as it is implemented. Remain never made this basic bread and butter argument. Instead it vilified the supporters of Brexit as intolerant racist morons who needed to be told how to vote by their betters. This is the same campaign Hillary is running, which is why a potential landslide election is still razor close in too many swing states.

This question puts the onus on Trump to defend his economic policies which the media doesn’t report on and most Americans are ignorant of. They vote their wallet and their children. Hillary has to educate the public on how Trump will drastically raise taxes and prices and why he is an appeaser of Americas enemies posing as a hawk. And all she has to do is quote Mitt Romney:

First, the economy: If Donald Trump’s plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into a prolonged recession.
A few examples: His proposed 35% tariff-like penalties would instigate a trade war that would raise prices for consumers, kill export jobs, and lead entrepreneurs and businesses to flee America. His tax plan, in combination with his refusal to reform entitlements and to honestly address spending would balloon the deficit and the national debt. So even as Donald Trump has offered very few specific economic plans, what little he has said is enough to know that he would be very bad for American workers and for American families.

35% tariff, Trumps own number, combined with the 25% national sales tax that his “fair tax” is funded by.

Picture the MasterCard ad:

“Everything you can buy under a President Trump.

Single Bic Pen: $5.50

Big Mac: $10

Xbox: $600

IPhone: 1,500

Toyota Corolla: 40,000

Voting to protect your wallet from President Trump: priceless.”

Field Notes from the State Budget: Gov Targets the Disabled

Pop quiz. Which are there more of in the United States:

(1) stamp collectors, or (2) families receiving cash welfare?

If you answered stamp collectors, you win – congratulations!

This datum – that stamp collectors now outnumber families receiving cash welfare — comes via Nicholas Kristof of New York Times, who devoted a recent column to entering a guilty plea on the charge of once being excessively optimistic about welfare reform. As he explains in the succinctly-titled “Why I Was Wrong About Welfare Reform,” for a time back in the late 90′s welfare reform seemed to be working, in large part because of an employment boom that helped many welfare recipients get jobs. But twenty years and two recessions later, in Kristof’s words, “the embarrassing truth is that welfare reform has resulted in a layer of destitution that echoes poverty in countries like Bangladesh.”

Kristof’s column introduced us to Bobbie Ingraham, a 47-year old grandmother in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who is caring for a toddler granddaughter born with drugs in her system. Ingraham has had a hard life herself, battling addiction, domestic violence and health problems that make it very difficult to find a job. She has no cash income from work, and so her electricity, gas and water have been cut off. Before welfare reform, 41 out of 100 Oklahoma families living in poverty received cash assistance. Today only 7 families out of 100 do, and Bobbie Ingraham’s family is not one of them. Welfare reform promised that fewer families on the welfare rolls would mean more families with jobs and economic stability. Instead, it’s simply meant more widespread and deeper poverty among families with children.

As you might expect, the picture in Massachusetts is not quite as dire as it is in Oklahoma. But it’s nothing to brag about either. Before welfare reform, 81 out of 100 Massachusetts families living in poverty received cash assistance. Today only 39 out of 100 families do.

Which brings us to Governor Baker’s welfare policy. He’s proposing to reduce the number of families receiving cash assistance even further, from the current 33,000 down to 26,000 or so.

Putting this change into effect involves rescinding a welfare eligibility rule that’s been in place since 1972. Under this rule, the benefits that severely disabled people receive from the federal government under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program are not counted as income in determining a family’s eligibility for welfare cash assistance. The Governor wants to start including those disability benefits as income, which he concedes will result in 6,900 families losing their cash assistance grant altogether.

To see how the Governor’s plan would affect one family in the state, consider Teresa Hubbard, a 52-year-old grandmother living in Brighton. She is caring full-time for her 13-year-old granddaughter who cannot walk or talk because of the cerebral palsy that she has had since birth and which is the basis for her receiving about $750 per month in federal disability payments. Because these disability payments don’t currently count as income, Teresa and her granddaughter also receive a cash welfare grant of about $400 per month, for a total monthly income of $1150. If the Governor’s plan goes into effect and disability payments are counted as income, Teresa and her granddaughter would lose their entire cash welfare grant and would be very much at risk of becoming homeless.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate included language in their annual budgets barring the Governor from putting his plan into effect, but he vetoed that language and intends to eliminate the cash assistance grants of 6,900 families, including Teresa’s, in October.

Unless, of course, the Legislature overrides his veto. The veto override process starts in the House, and  you can find information about contacting your Representative here. While you’re at it, you can also call the Governor at 617-725-4005 and suggest that maybe he could find better uses for his time than finding ways to harm disabled residents of the state who are already living in poverty. Stamp collecting, for example, might be a good choice.

Already some drama at the GOP convention

Your GOP convention open thread! - promoted by david

There was an effort to change rules on the floor, I believe to unbind delegates.  Former VA AG Ken Cuccinelli complained to MSNBC that the rules were gaveled through and the Colorado delegation has walked out over this.  Feel free to use this as an open thread on observations on the convention tonight.

UPDATE (by David): It’s already old news, but the video of the floor fiasco on day one regarding the rules is worth watching.

The DNC is around the corner, and we'll be there. Tell us what you'd like to see!

As we bask in the nightly sh!tshow that is the 2016 Republican National Convention, let us not forget that, starting next Monday, the Democrats begin their own four-day spectacle.  And, as with the last two conventions, BMG will be on the scene.

We’ll be posting here as often as we can, and probably moreso on Twitter.  (Follow us @bluemassgroup if you haven’t already!)

So, what would you particularly like to see from Philadelphia?  We’ll try to chat with as many MA delegation folks as we can, of course, but who in particular, or what topics in particular, would you like to hear about?  We’ll do our best to make it happen.

*Nobody* wants a pipeline tax. (Well, almost)

Eugenia Gibbons of MassEnergy gives us the results of a YouGov poll on energy in Massachusetts — confirmation of what we all expected:

MA residents SUPPORT legislation to ban “pipeline tax”

66% of respondents SUPPORT a pipeline tax prohibition. A mere 8% oppose a ban.

MA residents favor investments in energy efficiency & renewable resources.

70% of respondents believe the state should increase investments in energy efficiency & renewable resources, compared to only 30% who support investing in new gas pipelines and infrastructure.

via Poll shows strong opposition to consumer financing of gas pipelines.

Well you coulda knocked me over with a feather. I figured it was so, but didn’t know how right I was.

If you share the obvious wisdom of the vast majority of your fellow Bay Staters — on the pipeline, efficiency/renewables, and the Renewable Portfolio Standard — it would be nice if you could let your elected officials on Beacon Hill know: 617-722-2000 is the switchboard. Read Eugenia’s post for complete info (see “Take Action”). The House and Senate are taking up the energy bill now.

Genius: Colbert's Hungry for Power Games

And don’t miss the equally inspired Christmas in July:

And Jon Stewart, God bless him:

Boston's 700 displaced people from the closing of the Long Island Bridge in the Boston Globe spotlight - remember them?

Our internal refugee crisis. An absolute obscenity in a city of plenty. Shame on the Mayor; shame on all of us. -Charley
Link fixed. - promoted by david

Where did the 700 recovering addicts and homeless rendered without beds and treatment by the sudden closing of the Long Island bridge and all the shelters and programs on Long Island go? They became displaced persons, internal refugees in Boston proper – this story is worth a signal boost as part of requesting the Massachusetts government power structure to replace these treatment beds and to own up to the harm they have done.  I admit I sometimes become irritated by the Boston Globe’s decisions as to what to cover and what to ignore.  This story though – does them proud and focuses on a total failure by Boston City Government and the so-called “Democratic” establishment.

This time, in covering where the 700 vulnerable human beings tumbled after being stripped of the programs where many were finding recovery and rehabilitation, the Boston Globe got it right.

If I could figure out how to share photos on this current platform, I would share some of the Globe’s.  Go look.

All that protected Marty Walsh and the government of the City of Boston from outcry after they threw these folks on the street due to zero pre-planning is the short attention span of the American voter and the media.

So, I say “Well done Boston Globe” because we, you and I and every homeless struggling person thrown on the street by the City of Boston are really members of the same family.  There but for the grace of God go you and I.



Better Get Used to It: A Media Scorned Slowly Learns About Its Changing Role

Ach. Well, I feel terrible for the folks who want to do a good job in media but who are in an industry that has not figured out how to charge $ for a decent product. I feel like that has a lot to do with our predicament. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Glenn Close, A Fatal Attraction

Fatal Attraction was the swan song of the “woman scorned” movies. Much of the 20th century was spent telling the story in film and fiction of white, middle-class men confronted with the stress of romancing women not their wives and dealing with the aftermath of affairs. From Graham Greene to John Updike, these chronicles of privilege took up a lot of space.

When I encounter complaints from Chris Cilizza and the White House Correspondents Association, I can’t help think of the relationship between the press and politicians. Monetarily speaking, the press has been struggling with its own relevance for years, but the 2016 presidential campaign is the first time the press has had to face its declining relevance in the political arena. And they’re not happy about it.

For the second half of the twentieth century, the press call the shots. Once television took hold, television news and debates and advertising were crucial for a campaign. The press did important work exposing Joe McCarthy’s twisted campaign, holding up a mirror to American racism and empowering the Civil Rights movement, exposing the Vietnam War, and Watergate. As the century came to an end, the press became less of a medium and more of a lens that too often distorted reality. The Clintons lived through this era. Al Gore and John Kerry later faced similar distortions. Candidates, however, had to live with the coverage they received. The media could be manipulated, and it became paramount to learn how to manipulate it. The media, for its part, enjoyed setting the rules. They didn’t mind being manipulated if they could also manipulate. Campaign coverage shifted had less and less to do with issues and more and more to deal with how well candidates played the media game. Swift Boat accusations were lies, but the issue was not the truth, but how well John Kerry dealt with the accusations. In debates, the focus was on how well the candidates performed, not whether their answers were substantive or truthful. The media seems to have been happy with this set up. They set the stage for candidate performances, and then turned around to be the political theatre critics. They didn’t have to worry about offending candidates with uncomfortable questions about their mistruths. Not if they appeared “presidential” or like someone you’d like to have a beer with.

Things have begun to change in the last 10 years. The press has begun fact-checking candidate and politician statements. The process and product aren’t always perfect, but they have begun to focus on facts, rather than performance. To his credit, ABC’s Jake Tapper aggressively challenged Trump about his accusations that a federal judge’s Mexican heritage was the cause of bias against the candidate. And the media has even begun to look into and step up its own fact-checking. These are welcome developments. Real-time fact checking is now happening. The ability to catch a candidate in mid-lie is technically possible, and the media is actually starting to do it. This is progress.

These developments make the complaints of the White House Press Corps Association look ridiculous:

“The White House Correspondents’ Association defends the First Amendment in the context of the presidency, and, as such, speaks up when a presumptive nominee from either party falls short. Our op-ed laid out legitimate and different concerns that we have about each candidate with regard to the press. We did not render a verdict on which candidate poses more of a problem; people can draw their own conclusions about that.

The First Amendment guarantees the press’s freedom, not its convenience. Press conferences are, as several BMGer’s have pointed out, a circus, with much more  to do with political dramaturgy than producing information for an audience. President Clinton will, no doubt, hold press conferences, but she doesn’t need the practice. She will owe American citizens clear, open, honest communication. She won’t owe the press anything. Reporters and the White House Press Corps Association don’t have to like. They don’t have to stay quiet about it (that’s where the First Amendment comes in), but they better get used to it. The role of the media is changing whether they like it or not. And it might just be changing for the better.

#PeopleOverPipelines at the State House -- overnight and tomorrow am

Well I’m sore, after finishing about 15 miles of the People Over Pipelines march; but I’m soft, spending the night at home. Some of our hardiest marchers have walked the full 43 miles, and are spending the night in tents at the State House.

You can read Miguel Otárola’s report in the Globe here. A great lede:

After marching 43 miles from Medway to the steps of the State House, 69-year-old David Klafter on Sunday said there were times when he would have loved to go home and rest his feet.

But the toll it took on his body in the past four days, he said, is nothing compared to what future generations may feel from the effects of climate change.

So together with members of grassroots climate groups, he marched to protest the construction of natural gas pipeline projects in Massachusetts.

The pipeline is simply the local manifestation of the challenges the climate movement has to face head on. In a sense, we are fortunate to have a very local foe. This is something tangible — and expensive — that we can fight. And the very locality makes the issue immediate to many folks who might not otherwise become activated: They don’t like climate change, and they sure as hell don’t want inflammable climate juice running through their yards. Think globally, act locally indeed.

Tomorrow (Monday) morning at 9:30am, we start the work of lobbying our legislators and the Governor – who this week take up the energy bill in conference committee. We are urging them to drop — in fact, prohibit — the pipeline fee.

I’m also going to ask them to up the annual increase in the Renewable Portfolio Standard (a requirement of utilities to buy renewables) from 1% to 2% per year, and for at least 2000MW of offshore wind, and strong gas leak language. Because why not? We should be running as fast as possible away from fossil fuels, and with technology and common-sense efficiency, we’ve actually got a way to do it.