A few thoughts on reality

A ponderous title indeed for a not-especially-ponderous post.  The topic arises in light of Alex Beam’s Globe column today, in which he expresses displeasure with phrases like “evidence-based medicine” or, apropos of us, “reality-based commentary.”  Says Beam:

I see that the Democratic-leaning Blue Mass Group blog claims to be trafficking in “reality-based commentary.” So Republican ideas are pure fiction?

Well, yes, a lot of the time.  :-)

They have plenty of readers, you have to give them that.

Much appreciated.  I must also add a footnote here: Beam gets the origin of the “reality-based” phrase a bit wrong.  He says:

The nonsense phrase “reality-based” has become a hoary cliche, thanks in part to journalist Ron Suskind, who introduced the term “reality-based community” to describe critics of George W. Bush’s policies.

That’s not quite right (or, at least, it’s incomplete).  It was indeed Ron Suskind writing in the NY Times Magazine who introduced the term to the general public.  But it was actually Karl Rove who coined it, meaning it as a derisive insult.  Here’s the relevant passage from Suskind’s piece:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn’t like about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush [later identified as Rove]. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend — but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

What happened then was that folks who were not fans of the Bush administration adopted the phrase, both as a rejection of Rove’s insistence that his “empire” could “create [its] own reality,” and also as a more general insistence that paying attention to the world as it actually exists is generally a good idea.

Which brings me to our friend EaBoClipper (also known as Rob Eno), the proprietor of our evil twin Red Mass Group.  In the course of discussing our little dust-up with Rep. O’Flaherty over transparency, EaBo opined on Twitter as follows:

@bluemassgroup its not really just about Gene O but ur support of one of most corrupt orgs in US the @massdems party

Now, that’s just silly.  Yes, there are some bad apples – the Mass Dems surely are not alone in that (*cough*Jeff Perry*cough*).  And yes, we have our policy differences with Rep. O’Flaherty and others in the party.  But “one of most corrupt orgs in US”?  Like I said, that’s silly.  And when I responded to Rob along those lines, he replied:

@bluemassgroup Oh how I wish it weren’t true, but can you show data proving otherwise? re:1of most corrupt political orgs in nation

Hilarious, for two reasons.  First, obviously Rob wishes that it were true.  That, after all, would make his life’s work of electing Republicans to office in MA a lot easier.  Second, “can [I] show data proving otherwise”?  Where I come from, the person making the outlandish claim has the burden of proving it.  So, he gets to go first.

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Discuss

60 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. "Self-criticism" and the parties

    Pretty unfair of Eno to imply that this site consists of “lockstep liberals” or something. There’s probably been just as much criticism of misbehavior, errors, and crimes attributable to democrats as to Republicans around here. Whereas it often seems like a Republican has to be a confessed serial killer to draw calls for hid resignation from other conservatives.

    • Yeah,

      there’s that pesky reality again, interfering with Rob’s talking points. :D

    • Not implying lockstep liberals

      Implying that your words need to match your actions. Did your rep vote for this leadership? If they did and they are a Democrat tell them you won’t help them if they do it again.

      And to David’s point about “Bad Apples”. When do we get to separate “isolated incidents” after FOUR speakers are convicted on federal charges. After more Democrats go to jail for bribery?

      When David? When it becomes more than a handful of cases, and the rules are set up to protect them it becomes institutionalized. But I guess I doth protest too much.

      • The problem with this...

        …is that on policy, the GOP, particularly the national GOP, is too odious to be a real alternative for most Massachusetts voters. I guess it is more fun to be in the opposition and throw lightning bolts at one-party government than it is to moderate your party’s positions to the point where reasonable people might consider voting GOP. For this reason, I would say that the GOP is the enabler of bad behavior on Beacon Hill.

        • Simple statistics

          When one party owns, say, 90% of the seats in a legislature, then simple statistics suggest that 90% of the corrupt legislators should therefore be members of that party. What would be truly striking is if one party held, for example 10% of the legislature, and yet represented — say — 50% of the criminals.

          My experience of the prevailing attitude presented here at BMG is we abhor government corruption, and say so immediately and loudly when it shows itself. I see no counterpart at either RMG or in the corpus of Mr. Beam’s commentary (it appears the Mr. Beam googled “reality-based” and found BMG — he doesn’t seem to have bothered to actually read anything here). At least the Globe had the good sense to bump him from the business pages, where his frequent factual errors were a positive embarrassment.

          • Structural issue

            Well, I do see a structural problem where the opposition is too weak to be a check on the majority, no matter who is in power. This is why I say I wish the GOP were a better party–not because I would vote GOP myself!

            • Why are they too weak?

              Could it be that they refused to put up decent candidates for legislative seats, or were they just interested in the executive offices such as governor? Where are the Republicans of Frank Sargent and John Volpe,? Instead, all we are offered, is sharp tongued mini national Republican attack dogs, more interested in making snide remarks about Democrats and President Obama, than making constructive efforts to finding solutions to common problems. If they haven’t been able to come to reasonable parity in the MA Lege, then they only have to look in the mirror for the answer why. Sniping from the sidelines about Democratic hegemony in the Lege solves nothing.

      • Four?

        Flaherty, our radio friend Finneran, DiMasi … is there another? Are you going back to John Thompson?

        • No

          I’m asking if it will take Four convicted felonious speakers in order to call the Massachusetts Democratic Party one of the most corrupt political organizations in the United States. That implies there were three.

        • Finneran was a red pick

          A majority of Dems voted for Richie Voke.

          Finneran spiked Harshbarger’s gov bid in partial payback to the GOP for electing him Speaker.

      • Not all that big a fan of Scaccia

        Good friend of DiMasi’s, ran into ethics trouble years ago regarding a tobacco lobbyist-funded golf trip. I think he’s gotten way too comfortable in the House. Unfortunately, he’s almost always unopposed in the primary, and usually in the general as well. And I have neither the personal charisma, the public speaking ability, nor (arguably) the spotless private life to undertake a campaign against him myself. But I always hope someone does (you listening, Mark Bail?) Sadly, I don’t think I could bring myself to vote for a Republican- I disagree too often with the general party philosophy and platform.

      • Rob, problem is, Brad Jones doesn't look any better - see below

        IF what the Globe quoted him as saying today is accurate, he is just as arrogant, and disinterested in his constituents as any other entrenched incumbent. Here is the quote I refer to, followed by the link (and by the way, you KNOW I am not happy with the leadership of either party at present):

        “Bradley H. Jones Jr., the House Republican leader, said he agrees with the need to conduct some business behind closed doors to facilitate negotiations. Jones calls for a modest overhaul allowing lawmakers to decide the fate of a handful of bills in a public dbate each eyar, without determining the outcome ahead of time. At least a little bit of open debate, he said, would be “a good management tool,” for the speaker, and an opportunity for “blowing off legislative steam”

        Here is the link: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/07/08/massachusetts_legislators_vital_work_veiled_from_publics_eye/?rss_id=Boston.com+–+Local+news

        Now I don’t know about you, but I fought for the election of a representative for him to think, analyze, and make honest decisions in the best interests of the Commonwealth.

        I did not elect him to “blow off steam” i.e. to posture for media – and a deliberative body is about analysis and public debate, not the quiet tyranny of the few.

        While we made fun of “hanging chads” in Florida –

        “In florida, often considered the gold standard for open government, the law prohibits three or more lawmakers from meeting to discuss pending legislation….If residents there want to know which special interests are influencing a bill, they can look at lawmaker’s calendars, phone logs or emails, though some legislators try to skirt that requirement by deleting often.”

        We are one of fewer the 20 states that have no requirement that legislators discuss government business in public. That is a systemic problem, and was the same back when Massachusetts one-party Republican state back in the 50s and early 60s. State government in this state was closed, tribal and elitist then, too although it seems to me that Massachusetts has become less and less open, and power has become more and more centralized during the time I have been observing this state.

        We are, in fact, seen as being one of the worst, per the same article.

        “…among a handful of states who are at the absolute bottom of the barrel,” said Charles N. Davis, a journalism professor at the University of Missouri who researches open-government laws. “If you’re in the business of trying to self-govern, if your a citizen, if your’re an activist, if you’re someone who is trying to affect the outcome of legislation, it’s nearly impossible because you’re literally shut out of the process.”‘

        There is no wonder that where legislation and governance are secretive and almost totally closed to ordinary citizens and small business pay to play schemes are hatched behind those closed doors, and lobbying becomes a tainted, big money multi-billion dollar business because the lobbyists are seen as the only players with access even though they are mercenaries, in the main. And legislators “retire” by becoming lobbyists and improve their income by hundreds of thousands of dollars by walking out the State House door only to walk back in again. Just go to http://www.sec.state.ma.us/LobbyistPublicSearch/Default.aspx where the public can track what lobbyists report, and check out Bob Traviglini (or a number of others). Remember that his last year as Senate President he earned about 85k – and as a lobbyist it looks to me that the part of his income he has to report is closer to $500k. He is not alone.

        • Amen!

          Perfectly summarized.

          There’s been a hell of a lot of fake posturing about doing something about it, but the evidence and realities point elsewhere. I think that the Democrats have been given the benefit of the doubt on issues of transparency, ethics, corruption, fraud, waste, and influence-peddling. Patrick has continually patted himself on the back for surface ethics and other reforms… meanwhile, this recent charade with the appointment of Christopher Speranzo as clerk magistrate exemplifies what you just laid out as the problem. The revolving door, you scratch our back and we’ll scratch yours real soon b.s. that makes this state hum.

          What a goddamned mess.

      • gotta agree with EaBo...

        at least on his point that BMG tends to go soft on Democrats for their abuses of power… but it’s a bit weak coming from a public supporter of the Republicans, since they’ve so thoroughly proven themselves to be blatant foes of the public interest. Maybe the Republican Party in Massachusetts is different from the national party… but affiliating with such a group and pretending to care about good government is nonsensical. It’s not even about ideology anymore, it’s about empire and creating new realities — ones that always seem to benefit the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else.

        Unfortunately the two-party system has falsified the debate, making it a debate between promoters of empire and defenders of empire. The defenders are always critical enough of HOW we practice our empire to dupe majorities of concerned citizens.

  2. Just to respond to Beam's column.....

    The is something to “evidence-based” medicine” vs. non-evidence based medicine.

    Studies (and these are old, so no sources) have shown that experienced doctors have “hunches” about a patient that were proven correct when then followed up with batteries of tests. At the time people speculated that it was a front brain/back brain thing and the doctors were subconsciously reading multiple clues and processing them with being analytical about it. Once malpractice torts took hold this field of research stopped because “hunch” would never hold up in court.

    Now it’s all analytics, although there are now new studies that are resarching the role of just seeing your doctor has in your overall health.

    • Beam, enabler of gibberish

      Another one of his columns in which he slings his ignorance around like so much gorilla feces, and accuses others of making the mess.

      He doesn’t know what evidence-based medicine refers to, so he imagines it must be stupid, unnecessary or a “lazy neologism.”

      He’s the worst. Maybe even worse than Jacoby.

    • "Evidence-based Medicine" is real and needed

      Those of us who follow medicine and pharma professionally know that too much current medical practice is based on procedures and medications that have no demonstrable benefit (but great cost).

      We see this in the changing patterns of, for example, prostate exams and breast cancer exams. We see this in the huge number of prescriptions written for compounds that either do nothing or make matters worse. Doctors routinely prescribe antibiotics for children with viral infections “just in case”.

      It is no surprise that Alex Beam both misunderstands and also misrepresents “evidence-based medicine” — he’s never been one to be overly concerned with the relationship between facts, truth, opinion, and the contents of whatever column he’s on the hook for on any given day.

      • Hey Tom- if we use evidence, the health care industry will decline!

        and that means job loss!

        I read tha the “benefits’ of many drugs post-trial was barely discernable, yet they still are marketed.

        Instead of antibiotics for the kids, the parents should get something. My ex-wife was livid if I came back from the pediatrician without a script for antibiotics for every malady. My kids’ teeth got discolored from all of them.

        And Beam does suck. Most of his columns are as bad as this one.

  3. Rove's comments are revealing . . .

    as much as they are appalling. Is he trying to apply the ideas of Col.John Boyd?

    • If we're an empire, who is the emperor?

      And here we thought we had a Republic.
      Sadly, Rove was right to imply that nobody would be held acccountable for any “history-making” decisions. In the end, all anybody could do was analyze, and maybe agonize. Rove’s arrogant sense of personal invulnerability has been proven to be an accurate assessment of his status.

  4. Clarification

    What happened then was that folks who were not fans of the Bush administration adopted the phrase, both as a rejection of Rove’s insistence that his “empire” could “create [its] own reality,” and also as a more general insistence that paying attention to the world as it actually exists is generally a good idea.

    Suskind never attributed that quote, but widespread speculation has pegged it to Rove.

    Here’s what bugs me — if the speaker had uttered that an ethnic slur, Suskind would have revoked the off the record status and reported it. But a White House official (albeit, probably a drunk one) can assert that we’re an empire and the Constitution therefore means nothing, and that’s OK, no need to say who holds this dangerous, delusional view.

  5. Beam's comment

    I think that Beam unwittingly illustrated the whole point of “reality-based”. He questions the phrase by assigning a strawman to Democrats — that Democrats believe that Republican ideas are pure fiction. Ironically, that strawman is itself pure fiction; making sh*t up is non-partisan, and Republicans don’t have to rely on making sh*t up to argue their points. But it’s also undeniable that they do this from time to time, with the Tea Party among the worst offenders.

    For example, I got an email forwarded to me claiming that there are 70 self-declared socialists in the US congress – members of the “Democratic Socialists of America” organization, and that this is tantamount to treason.

    I said to myself, “hey, that’s pretty shocking, let me read more about that”. I clicked on the link which had a list, including several MA congressmen (John Olver, Barney Frank, Jim McGovern, and John Tierney). I searched for examples of these congressmen avowing allegiance to the DSA, but found absolutely none. The link appears to be that these four are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and since the PDA supports the CPC, voila! these members are self-declared Communist Socialists.

    Of course, the people responding to this email are up in arms. “Traitors!”, they claim. But those responses are not based on facts – they are based on lies and distortions. Even the very word “Socialism” they decry is based on distortions; they have a vision of Hitler, Stalin and brownshirts, yet the DSA platform calls for “democratic, responsive, and representative government to regulate the market, protect the environment, and ensure a basic level of equality and equity for each citizen.” Shocking! How dare they want a democratic representative government? How dare they want to regulate the market? Next they’ll be rounding us all up into camps, right?

    Opinions formed on non-reality are almost always bad, so why is Alex Beam so up in arms here? Why does he ignore that many positions and debates are based on an incorrect understanding of facts, or even on pure lies?

    • There is no real "truth" anymore

      There are so many sides to every issue.

      Even in your post “Tea Party” is no more a unifying term than Rotarian. These groups are all independent and could be anybody.

      I mentioned to a friend that if I wanted to get into the paper tomorrow, I would send out an announcement saying that I was forming a Nazi Tea Party- I would have media all over me in a heartbeat, and liberal blogs would be screaming “see, they ARE racists!!”

      So we now have thousands of groups on both sides that all say whatever they want (and everyone has outlets for their tripe), and opponents then lump them with other groups and claim that’s their opinion.

      There is a peace group in the Merrimack Valley that as part of their activities is now pro-Hamas, anti- Israel. What does one do with that?

      People should check out what Republican activists have to say about the chairman of the MA GOP. At least 50% would claim that she doesn’t speak for them.

      • OK, let's see

        The diversity of voices means there’s “no truth?”

        Come back off the ledge. There is truth, and there are facts.

  6. ??

    There do seem to be a steady stream of senior Democrats in the legislature that have been indicted, tried, and convicted– including two speakers, which happens to be among the one or two most powerful offices in the commonwealth.

    This is a rather hideous track record, and seems to me to be WELL past the “few bad apples” style of explanation, which is bogus.

    I think that only Illinois can approach that degree of high-level corruption, and the felonious governors there have been of both parties.

    Finneran, Wilkerson, DiMasi, the Probation thing, and a lot of silence from the “good apples” except when the political heat passes. Yeah, right. The Massachusetts Democratic party is just afflicted by a few bad apples.

    • Did you see my comment above?

      If the “steady stream” of elected representatives continues to be overwhelmingly of one party — year after year — then wouldn’t you expect the share of corrupt politicians “indicted, tried, and convicted” to be also be overwhelmingly of that party?

      Until the Massachusetts GOP (or some other party) finds a way to field competitive candidates, then the legislature — and the cohort of corrupt representatives — will continue to be overwhelmingly Democratic.

      I think there is little evidence to suggest that a tendency towards corruption has any particular partisan bias.

      • not to be rude...

        …but if i were living in mass what i would expect is that no one should be getting indicted, tried, or convicted, in any party…and you might want to take a step back and give that some thought.

        • Is there such a state?

          Is there a state that has no corrupt politicians? If there are corrupt politicians, and none are indicted, tried, and convicted, doesn’t that mean the corrupt politicians are getting away with it?

          If you want to live in a state that doesn’t indict, try, and convict its corrupt politicians, I hope you enjoy it. I’ll take Massachusetts.

          • yes, indeed, there are.

            i live in washington, and let’s just start the copmparison right here:

            “DiMasi was found guilty on seven of nine counts against him, including conspiracy, extortion, and fraud. DiMasi was the third consecutive Massachusetts House speaker to be federally indicted.”

            since the state was formed in 1889, no washington house speakers have been federally indicted for anything.

            i cannot find a single instance of a washington legislator being convicted of bribery – as opposed to the dianne wilkerson situation.

            and all those “not getting convicteds” don’t seem to be because the state patrol is looking the other way – it’s because being seen as one of those politicians, around here, is actually political death.

            and it’s not just here: oregon runs a pretty clean government these days, as does minnesota, and montana, and idaho, and wisconsin.

            now that’s not to say that politicians on both sides aren’t beneficiaries of legal bribery, but when it comes to the stuff that could actually get you thrown in prison…we won’t tolerate it.

            now how you get out of this mess in mass is something i can’t address with a great deal of informed wisdom, but i can most assuredly tell you that, as an outsider looking in, mass government sure looks corrupt – and i can also tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way.

            • I love the West too but...

              Lena Swanson, former Washington State Senator, was convicted in 2002 of accepting over $100,000 in “illegal payments” (bribes) for assisting veterans in obtaining benefits: http://www.jerebeery.com/convicted_va_worker_still_paid_i.htm

              And Mayor West from Spokane:
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_E._West_(politician)

              Oregon has the infamous “land fraud scandal”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_land_fraud_scandal

              And others:
              http://www.ohs.org/education/oregonhistory/scandal.cfm

              The idea that any state is totally immune from corrupt politicians is absurd:
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_state_and_local_political_scandals_in_the_United_States

              • Oof.

                Game, set and match to loquacious on that one! :D

                • maybe not so much.

                  i mean, look at the difference.

                  yes, a mayor can get himself in trouble, or a legislator (or a big piece of pierce county, washington’s government)…but you guys are talking about dynasties of corruption, big-time nepotism…well, you know, all the things that make mass politics interesting…and that is just not part of the political experience out here, for the most part – and to make the larger point, i suspect it’s because we don’t have as much of an expectation that illegal corrupt government is just part of the way it’s done.

                  (and i’m using “illegal” carefully: i think we all expect legal bribery, no matter where we live.)

              • it's not a bad list...

                …although you missed the ongoing shenanigans in pierce county, washington, where it’s been a “back and forth” between a funky county assessor and a funky county council for close to a decade…but the stories you brought to the table are remarkable in that they are aberrations from the norm…as opposed to corruption being the normal way business is done, which seems to be how things are in places like mass or illinios or new jersey or florida.

                look at what somerville tom actually said: he said that it’s obvious that all the corruption would be coming from one party, because only one party tends to win in mass.

                that’s an amazingly sad commentary on what voters expect from their employees, but it really doesn’t have to be that way – and as i noted earlier, we do have, right here, a relatively clean government – not an immaculate one – but a relatively clean one, and one where scandals often get found out and dealt with.

                and none of this is to say that there isn’t a huge amount of legal bribery in this state, because there is – and some day maybe we’ll get to a point where we can start dealing with that, too.

                no state is immune, that’s a fact, and legal bribery is everywhere

                • That is NOT what I said!

                  I said that IF one party has all the seats, then that party will have all the corrupt politicians. I assert that if the government is evenly split, then the corrupt politicians will be evenly split.

                  Which part of “I think there is little evidence to suggest that a tendency towards corruption has any particular partisan bias.” is difficult to understand?

      • I find this quite underwhelming

        Gee, our party wouldn’t be so steeped in thieving corruption if the opposition wasn’t incompetent.

        Or: gee, all politicians are corrupt, and we just have more convictions because we win so many elections.

        And this from the “government is not an awful thing” party.

        If either of these things be true, we would do better to limit the power and scope of the state government rather dramatically.

        • As tempting as it is to pile

          on Rob Eno, I’ll respond to CMD’s post.

          1. GOP Opposition. By offering serious opposition, a relevant GOP block might be helpful in preventing corruption in the legislative leadership. The downside of electing more Republicans, however, is electing more Republicans. As others pointed out, the GOP might help with ethics, but we don’t want their legislative agenda nor does the electorate.

          2. All Politicians Are Corrupt. There is a certain amount of corruption in politics. Period. What’s rare about DiMasi, Finneran, etc. is their prominence. On the other hand, Connecticut Governor John Rowland and NY State Assembly Leader Joseph Bruno were similarly prominent and crooked. Cities are where the most corruption takes place, and historically, Boston is no exception (and may be a poster child). I speculate that Beacon Hill corruption is an extension of Boston city corruption, but have nothing to back that up.

          3. We Should Limit the Power and Scope of State Government. What would help prevent corruption in the legislative leadership would be to lessen the power of the speaker (and senate president?).

          As it now stands, the membership has to choose between doing his bidding or being unable to serve his/her constituents. That’s what happened to my rep under Finneran.

          As it is now, the Dems are entangled in the strength of their own majority, the dictatorial control of the speaker, and the good of their constitutents. Our current legislators are not blameless in creating this mess, but the entanglement is cultural and historical.

          It’s easy to point out that we recognize a problem, but Rob and CMD beg the question of the difficulty of solving it. The implication is we are too lazy or don’t care. It’s a Gordian Knot. It would be interesting to hear their strategies to cut it. Rep. Winslow’s proposal wouldn’t touch it.

          • Strategies to cut it

            Now you’re talkin!

            Here’s my proposed strategy:
            Launch a campaign to ensure that every single seat in the Massachusetts Legislature — both the Senate and the House — is contested in 2012.

            Ideally we would have as many contested primaries as possible, but at the very least, every general election should have 2 choices or more on the ballot. The secret is that it is EASY to get on the ballot for State Rep. People have until May 1, 2012 to submit 150 certified signatures in their district. 300 for State Senate.

            There are 200 legislative seats overall, and the minimum number of valid signatures required to get 200 candidates on the ballot for those seats is 36,000, far short of what you’d need to run a statewide ballot initiative, and a whole different beast.

            Imagine a non-partisan campaign to make sure that every seat was contested. If the Democrat normally runs unopposed, work for an independent candidate to oppose them. Better yet, work to get yourself on the ballot… not even necessarily to run a serious campaign, but at the very least to give every single voter in your district an actual choice between two human beings on election day.

            In a truly remarkable twist on stale Massachusetts politics last year, two men who had had enough decided to run as Green-Rainbow Party candidates in the Berkshires against normally-uncontested, entrenched incumbent Democrats. Where Scott Laugenour’s opponent, Smitty Pignatelli, engaged in a dignified campaign including a radio debate, Mark Miller’s opponent, Christopher Speranzo, refused to debate, and refused to answer questions that were surfacing about his secret intentions surrounding the clerk magistrate position he was quietly vying for. In fact, the rumors wouldn’t have even been an issue, except that voters had another choice on the ballot, and the old games were breaking down.

            Covering 2 of the 4 Berkshire County districts, these 2 men transformed the political atmosphere, creating an electrifying sense that uncontested elections are not inevitable, and that democracy, debate, and dissent are alive and well. Speranzo so miffed his district by his blatant disregard for the Democratic process, that voters were outraged. Miller’s fresh voice (though he had been the editor of the Berkshire Eagle over a decade ago) gave people all they needed to stand up for themselves and vote for something they believed in, someone that respected them as much as they wanted to respect the person who would be serving them in the State House. And despite spending just a shade over $3,000, and getting an incredibly late start on his campaign, Miller ended up with 45% of the vote.

            I was with Mark when he pulled papers from the Elections Division, and it’s clear to me that a simple act like that transformed boilerplate Massachusetts politics into a gut-wrenching battle for political discourse steeped in evidence and reality and debate. The ripple effect was a divided Governor’s Council, half of them refusing to rubber stamp this more-of-the-same cronyism.

            It’s clear to me that more simple acts like that, in multiple districts across the state, will add up to even bigger transformations of statewide politics.

            We could start a countdown at 200, and would have over 9 months to get it down to 0. It could be trans-partisan… with Republicans signing up to challenge incumbent Dems, Democrats signing up to challenge incumbent Republicans, and independents, Greens, Libertarians, etc. filling in the rest.

            With MSNBC trying to create the Fox News of the left, I think it’s time we all took a big step back from partisan nonsense and worked together to create our own political realities.

  7. Reality Global Warming and Corruption

    If Eno were to recognize that human action is causing accelerating global warming there might be reason to consider the ‘reality’ of other claims.

    • Only that the UN just admitted its not

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/04/us-climate-sulphur-idUSTRE7634IQ20110704

      pseudo science that begins with a dogma not a theory is not science

      • Good God, do you even listen to yourself?

        Read the article you just posted!

        Subsequent years have still included nine of the top 10 hottest years on record, while the U.N. World Meteorological Organization said 2010 was tied for the record.

        A U.N. panel of climate scientists said in 2007 that it was 90 percent certain that humankind was causing global warming.

        You wouldn’t know reason or science if they bit you on the ass. I’m sorry, you are a talking point machine, not one who engages in actual reason.

        • You are certainly a man of unmatched intellect

          Charlie, Charlie, Charlie….Why the moral superiority act?

          • go personal when you can't argue the facts ....

            BTW, what happened to Christie? he’s going down the tubes, even in his own state.

            • Really!

              And Charlie wasn’t an ass to Rob?

              • Rob made himself look ridiculous

                By posting a link to a study that completely undercut his point. Charley was just pointing out his foolishness in a relatively gentle and affectionate way.

              • The tone of my comment

                is in reaction to this, which is pure insult, not to mention wild-ass, 24-carat projection:
                “pseudo science that begins with a dogma not a theory is not science”

                Take it up with the scientists, Rob. Take it up with the PhDs at Harvard, MIT, Woods Hole, Tufts, Princeton, etc — you know, the ones you’re too afraid to actually consult.

              • Eno reaps what he sews

                Eno has a long, documented 5-year history at BMG of demonstrably false statements, wildly distorted characterizations of facts, and his bizarre penchant for hating Saul Alinsky tactics while inaccurately painting every Democratic politician as radical socialists and Marxists.

                It’s also been documented that Eno’s posts/comments closely reflect and are sometimes close to verbatim to daily Republican talking points emails.

                Eno is a tired, tired talking point-spewing automaton, a laughable caricature of right wing “thought”. It’s hilarious that Eno posts a link that undercuts his own point, but totally predictable.

                Christie, please excuse some of us if, after years of lame, often intentionally false statements and arguments, some of us have lost our patience with Eabo.

  8. a guy told me...

    that obama, who was born in kenya, supports that health care plan with the death panels…and i hear that he supports the new black panthers, who are responsible for all the voter fraud out there…and if that’s not bad enough, he’s a secret muslim who is ruled by reverend wrigh–oih, wait a minute, i forgot.

    this is the reality-based site.

  9. Citations?

    I’d like to see some citations for the paper itself rather than yet another non-technical “summary”. It is difficult to reconcile the reported claims made by this un-cited paper allegedly published by un-cited researchers with, for example, STATE OF THE CLIMATE IN 2010, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society in June of 2011 (from the “Abstract”, para 2):

    The 2010 average global land and ocean surface temperature was among the two warmest years on record.

    Did those nasty Asians suddenly stop burning coal?

    • Bit by the REPLY bug again

      My comment, above, is a reply to Eabo’s 1:39 post, above.

      I frequently keep multiple browser windows open on my desktop while I compose a comment. I wonder if that provokes this bug.

      Seriously, guys, I do always hit the correct “Reply” button.

  10. Eno on Global Warming

    Are you getting your ‘information’ from Fox? The article you cite is remarkable because it says exactly the opposite of what you believe.
    The anti-reality global warming deniers jumped all over the article without apparently taking the trouble to read it.
    It’s actually pretty simply–particulate air pollution, which causes lots of disease pumps so much blocking material into the air that it can slow, though not at all stop, the rate of temperature growth.

    Again, why should we accept any claims about ‘reality’ from people who refuse to accept the reality of human-caused climate change?

    • Don't you get it?

      “while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

      Now I really wish to know whether this was Rove or not. But it’s bone-chillingly honest, and it’s devastating to any pretense that the Democrats have mustered any kind of opposition to this self-proclaimed empire.

      The reality points to empire (though perhaps empire in decline) but it’s fascinating to me to see an instance of them admitting it.

      Thanks to David for pointing out this history… it explains in striking honesty what is so clear in behavior. The disappointing part is how we keep responding the same way, as though one day we’ll be so judicious that we’ll win.

  11. Perspicacious, not "ponderous"

    With a hat-tip to Christiane Amanpour for reminding me of how much I love this marvelous fifty-cent word (not to mention Ms. Amanpour).

  12. What bloggers do

    “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

    Actually we comment on the empire, and thank Heavens we all have new channels to post our thoughts. Alex Beam can be silly, and so can Rob Ebo. They can’t help it — they have to be provocative.

    David puts them both to shame. Wonderful post David. Thank you.

  13. And the winner is...

    If Judy Mededith and David Kravitz are on one side of an issue my guess is that the reasonable people are elsewhere.

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Sun 23 Nov 4:41 AM