November 2012
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Month November 2012


For years, this was an annual day of mourning.  Now it is arguably a day of hope, as long as we do not abandon the fight.  The United States has spearheaded the battle against global HIV/AIDS, investing more than $44 billion through our bilateral programs and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.  Millions of people are alive today because of the bipartisan commitment to turn the tide against this disease. And, we are on the verge of an even greater victory:  the possibility of an AIDS-free generation, as spelled out in Secretary Clinton’s new PEPFAR Blueprint.  Countries like South Africa are investing billions of dollars of their own money and leading their own campaigns to prevent the transmission of HIV and dramatically expand access to treatment. Twenty-five countries have reduced new HIV infections by more than 50 percent in the last ten years.  We are in the midst of a transition in which U.S. programs are still absolutely critical, but now, wherever possible, they will support countries’ own leadership against the epidemic.  That is exactly what our foreign assistance is supposed to do:  help countries take the reins and confront challenges like HIV/AIDS themselves. I have been […]

Lochner’s legacy: the real reason we can’t have a graduated income tax in Massachusetts

The conventional wisdom for years in Massachusetts has been that, in 1915, the people adopted Amendment Article 44 of the state Constitution which bars a graduated income tax.  Therefore, if you want to implement such a tax, you have to amend the state Constitution. I’m pretty sure that’s not the whole story.  What I think actually happened is that, in 1915, the people adopted Article 44 as a way of clamping down on tax avoidance schemes that were crippling the Commonwealth’s ability to enforce its tax laws and hence costing it a lot of money.  Unfortunately, some of Article 44′s wording is on the opaque side, so inevitably it ended up in the Supreme Judicial Court.  When it did, in 1921, the SJC relied on the Lochner era’s then-popular but now discredited understanding of the nature of contracts and property to rule that earned income was “income derived from property.”  And, because Article 44 requires that the tax rates on income derived from property must be uniform, it follows that we can’t have a graduated income tax. In my view, this result was intended neither by the people who drafted Article 44, nor, most likely, by the people who voted […]

Democratic Dispatch – November 30

I’m relaunching my attempt to post the weekly Dispatch on BMG. It is my pretty much weekly newsletter about all events Democratic. I handle it at this time through a publicly accessible yahoo group. My plan is to include my opening remarks in the body of the post and then link to the most current issue. If people find it useful I will continue to do this. Of course folks can always subscribe by sending an e-mail to Elizabeth Warren will be travelling across the Commonwealth to say thank you to volunteers and begin the the transition from campaign to governing. Officially called the “Starting with People” tour, there are events in Springfield, Worcester and Fall River this weekend. As I understand it, there will be an event in each Congressional District. For details on future events watch the Elizabeth Warren event page on her website Last week I invited Dispatch readers to the holiday party at my home on Sunday, December 9. I’m thrilled at the number of elected officials who are planning on attending. I have confirmations from Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, Treasurer Steve Grossman, Auditor Suzanne Bump. and Party Chair John Walsh. Secretary […]

State Rep. Joyce Spiliotis dies at age 65

From Statehouse News Service: BOSTON – State Rep. Joyce Spiliotis, a Peabody Democrat who has served in the House since 2003, passed away overnight, according to two of her colleagues. She was 65. Spiliotis died after a battle with cancer, according to her House colleagues. Rep. Bradford Hill, a good friend of Spiliotis, said he was “crushed” by the news of her death. Hill commuted from the North Shore to the State House with Spiliotis for many years and said she kept her illness a secret. She was in the hospital during the last few days, he said. “I didn’t know. She was very private about it,” he said. “She didn’t really tell anybody, which is a little surprising to me. She was so open and so frank in so many ways.” “We had more fun on the way home, we laughed,” said Hill, a Republican from Ipswich. “She always had a laugh. We would call her a card. She was always fun to be around.”

E. Warren Thank You Tour UPDATE: with Lynn and Lowell Events

UPDATE: The Lynn and Lowell events have been scheduled. Saturday, December 8, 2012 3:00 PM Tatiana’s Restaurant, 70 Market Street Lynn Saturday, December 8, 2012 5:30 PM Hookslide Kelly’s, 19 Merrimack Street, Lowell Elizabeth Warren will be travelling across the Commonwealth to say thank you to volunteers and begin the the transition from campaign to governing. Officially called the “Starting with People” tour, there are events in Springfield, Worcester and Fall River this weekend. As I understand it, there will be an event in each Congressional District. Watch the Elizabeth Warren event page on her website for details on future events. An e-mail from Roger Lau at the campaign says. “The campaign may be over, but Elizabeth’s real work of helping working families across Massachusetts is just getting started. Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren (doesn’t it sound great to say that?) will be meeting with people all across the Commonwealth in December to have a chance to thank those who supported her election and to open the door for everyone in Massachusetts. Elizabeth knows that we’re in this together — and we’ve got to work together from the beginning. We’ve got to help people get back to work, level the playing field for our small […]

It’s On!! Casino War! Everett v. Revere, Tom Menino v. Carlo DeMaria, Steve Winn v. Ceasars, Joe O’Donnell v. Bob Kraft, Orange Line v. Blue Line, Mystic River v. Chelsea Creek, Everett High Football v. The MassPort Jets, Santarpios v. Richie’s Slush, Jevelli’s v. The Silver Fox, Rt. 99 v. 1A, Oil Tanks v. LNG Tanks, Day Square v. Glendale Square, and Bob DeLeo v. ? The Ghost of George Keverian Perhaps?

Question. If Joe O’Donnell loves Everett so much (which he does) why hasn’t he located a business there or been part of a development there or something? Ya know? Why doesn’t Joe, the son of an Everett cop do business there? Hmmmm. I’m sure he’s hired a shit load of Everett kids over the years and is the first with a check for something needed. Think of it. He treats Everett like family. And who wants to work with their family? Especially if the family is Everett. (You all know I hate Everett, right?) Check out the picture on the front page of today’s Globe. I thought for sure they had found another Whitely related body somewhere next to Dorchester Bay. The big black SUVs with darkened windows and a bunch of white guys in suits standing around. Where’s the tent to conceal the digging?

Why the Herald-esque posts aren’t helping us

I come from the school of, ‘if you’re not on message, you’re off it.’ That’s why I’ve been a little disappointed to see the goo-gooze fester a bit on BMG for the past few days. Of course, we should all be for good government, but we shouldn’t be for “good government” used as a wedge to divide us all from being able to do what’s… you know… good. There are a few reasons. If you don’t think other people are paying attention, be it the media or right-wing, I have a bridge to sell you. We don’t need anyone pointing to some ill-thought-out GooGoo posts and saying, “see, if even BMG is for this, then of course Beacon Hill has to [insert Howie Carr talking points here].” Moreover, getting angry over issues much the same way that the Boston Herald does, we too are wasting time that could be better spent digging deeper or giving attention to actual, real-life issues that should be changed. Of course, I’m talking about two recent posts (and many comments therein) in particular: 1) the notion that, even as our budget troubles are very much real and we haven’t restored funds or programs that were […]

All Downhill for MA Skiing Industry in Warming World

The skiing industry will be extinct in Massachusetts before a child born today turns 30, according to a new study on the effects of global warming: Of 103 ski resorts operating in the Northeast, less than half could be economically viable in 30 years if winter temperatures rise by between 2.5 and 4 degrees over the next several decades as expected, according to a study by Scott that will be published early next year. The report says that if society continues to rely heavily on fossil fuels, causing emissions from heat-trapping gases to rise, no Massachusetts ski areas would survive the next 30 years, and only seven of 18 New Hampshire resorts and eight of 14 Maine mountains would remain open. Check out this graphic the Boston Globe created using data from Daniel Scott, director of the Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change at the University of Waterloo in Ontario:

A little history of Article 44

The 44th Article of Amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution, ratified by the people in 1915, is the reason we can’t have a graduated income tax in Massachusetts.  It reads, in pertinent part: Full power and authority are hereby given and granted to the general court to impose and levy a tax on income in the manner hereinafter provided. Such tax may be at different rates upon income derived from different classes of property, but shall be levied at a uniform rate throughout the commonwealth upon incomes derived from the same class of property. The general court may tax income not derived from property at a lower rate than income derived from property, and may grant reasonable exemptions and abatements. I got into a modest back-and-forth on Twitter with Rep. Dan Winslow (R-Norfolk) as to why Article 44 is in the Constitution in the first place.  Dan’s thesis, apparently, is that a graduated income tax constitutes “divide/conquer of electorate based on income,” and was barred because Article 44′s drafters objected to “[p]laying classes against each other and dividing Americans by elevating personal interest over common good.”  I was dubious that this was really what was in the drafters’ mind at the […]

Ricks on Fox: “Wing of the Republican Party”

Pulitzer Prize winning military journalist Tom Ricks called it like it is yesterday on Fox: the network is a wing of the Republican Party. Fox couldn’t handle the truth, and cut him off. “Whattabunchawimps,” Ricks wrote on his blog for Foreign Policy magazine in a post titled “Ricks mocks Fox, which cuts and runs.” The best part of the exchange is the expression on the face of the Fox anchor after Ricks confronts him with the Truth That Dare Not Speak Its Name about the propaganda corporation he is working for: he looks like he was just fed a red pill. Then they go to a break.