Really, Senator Brownsberger? The Keystone Pipeline, Too?

Interesting development. - promoted by david

Maverick is one word for it, I guess…

And he [Brownsberger] said he would not favor any congressional intervention to block the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf Coast, arguing that the project is little more than a footnote in the fight against climate change. […]

The pipeline, Brownsberger acknowledged, would allow for the extraction of more Canadian oil. But “the truth is what causes climate change is not taking oil out of the ground, it’s burning it,” he said.

My first response to Senator Brownsberger is to ask what he thinks people do with the oil after taking it out of the ground.  They tend to burn it.  My second response is that Brownsberger’s response is also factually wrong.  When it comes to dirty tar sands, yes, Senator Brownsberger, just the taking of the tar sands oil out of the ground is also environmentally costly:

Extracting tar sands, and turning bitumen into crude oil, uses vast amounts of energy and water, and causes significant air and water pollution, and three times the global warming pollution of conventional crude production. The rush to strip-mine and drill tar sands in the boreal will destroy and fragment millions of acres of this wild forest for low-grade petroleum fuel.


The most obvious reason is that tar sands production is one of the world’s most environmentally damaging activities. It wrecks vast areas of boreal forest through surface mining and subsurface production. It sucks up huge quantities of water from local rivers, turns it into toxic waste and dumps the contaminated water into tailing ponds that now cover nearly 70 square miles.

Also, bitumen is junk energy. A joule, or unit of energy, invested in extracting and processing bitumen returns only four to six joules in the form of crude oil. In contrast, conventional oil production in North America returns about 15 joules. Because almost all of the input energy in tar sands production comes from fossil fuels, the process generates significantly more carbon dioxide than conventional oil production.

If Senator Brownsberger or another proponent of Keystone were to respond that, sure, extracting the dirty tar sands oil is extremely environmentally costly, but at least it creates jobs, well, not so fast:

The report said the pipeline’s construction would support 42,100 indirect jobs and 3,900 direct jobs during the one- to two-year construction period, which would bring in wages of about $2.05 billion, as well as another $3.3 billion in other spending. But once up and running, the operation of the pipeline would only support 35 permanent and 15 temporary jobs, mostly for inspections, maintenance and repairs.

The project would create a number of short-term construction jobs (funding for which, in my opinion, would be better allocated on construction jobs to repair and upgrade our nations’ crumbling bridges and roads, as well as to erect wind farms that can truly help America move toward energy independence) but extremely little in the way of any long-term employment, making the jobs argument a mirage.

There is also the risk to communities through which the pipeline passes.  Many of us heard on the news of the Pegasus pipeline bursting, sending dirty tar sands oil into Mayflower, Arkansas, in a major spill that still harms area residents months later.  And Mayflower wasn’t alone:

And the fact is that Mayflower is not an isolated incident. A previous TransCanada pipeline, also called “Keystone,” experienced 12 separate oil spills, including one that released 21,000 gallons, during its first year of operation in 2010. Nationwide, about 3.2 million gallons of oil spill from pipelines every year. Spills such as these pollute drinking water, ruin American farmland, potentially destroy sacred tribal grounds, and create an uninhabitable environment for homeowners.

To make matters worse, TransCanada would not be liable for cleaning up the mess that Keystone XL will create. Because tar sands oil is not subject to the 8-cents-per-barrel excise tax that funds the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, American taxpayers would likely be forced to bear any clean-up costs.

Why should we be concerned about Keystone spills, beyond the obvious harm to the environment and public health?  Because a spill could send food prices skyrocketing:

The line will run through critical areas such as Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer, where a leak or an oil spill could easily contaminate the water source for nearly 20 percent of the country’s agriculture.

Ultimately, there’s a reason that Senator-elect Ed Markey’s campaign website included the following:

Ed’s also taken on the Republicans’ “Drill, Baby, Drill” campaign by opposing the Keystone XL pipeline and helped prevent drilling in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Meanwhile, “Green Republican” Gabriel Gomez’s campaign website included the following:

The Obama administration is wrong in stopping the Keystone pipeline, a project that will create jobs, drive down our energy costs, and help us to become energy independent.

Unfortunately for Brownsberger, he’s running in the Democratic primary, not the “Green Republican” primary.

Disclosure: The author of this post is a constituent of one of Brownsberger’s primary opponents (Katherine Clark), a former constituent of another of Brownsberger’s primary opponents (Carl Sciortino), and a former State House staff member of another of Brownsberger’s primary opponents (Karen Spilka), though the author remains neutral in the primary.


39 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. If I wanted somebody who supports Keystone and Citizen’s United, I would have voted for Mitt Romney and Gabriel Gomez. Note to Will Brownsberger: to be a progressive, you have to do more than eat kale — you have to stand up for our environment and against corporations trying to buy our democracy.


    • Blast

      My fat fingers in the iPhone have afertig’s deplorable comment a uprating that deserved a downrating. Comparing Will to Romney or Gomez is terribly
      assinine, I strongly urge you to go to the candidates site, see his record on progressive ma, and call him (on his cellphone no less!) and you will realize how mistaken you are. Katherine Clark just sponsored a terrible NSA style law enforcement bill with Martha Coakley, but you won’t see me going around calling her the next Dick Cheney, since the rest of her record is solid. Nowhere has Will said he supports the pipeline, if he suddenly says he does than we can talk, and then is agree it might be better to send someone else to Congress. All he has stated is that he won’t actively oppose it in Congress since he knows Congress has no power over it. That’s like saying he won’t oppose the Ohio ban on gay marriage as a Massachusetts Congressman over Ohio’s constitution-why promise to change something you have no control over? The power properly belongs with the President, any attempts to move it to this Congress will enable not defeat Keystone construction.

      • Oh, I disagree with Clark on that one too

        I guess I’d just say that Will Brownsberger seems to come to really strange policy conclusions. You can dig for oil in tar sands — but don’t burn it! That causes greenhouse gasses (as opposed to doing what, exactly? Admiring its viscosity?). And Congress shouldn’t do anything to prevent the drilling. We can let really wealthy individuals and corporations donate a million dollars to a Super PAC in support of a candidate they like — but a small union shouldn’t directly donate $1000 to that same politician, because that’s corruption.

        And, supporting Citizens United and allowing the Keystone Pipeline — no matter the logic to how you get there — are the positions that Mitt Romney and Gabriel Gomez take. If I had wanted to vote for the things that come from their positions on issues, I would have. I don’t.

        • Confused

          So it’s ok for Clark to back her bad bill that she is sponsoring but Will is a DINO because he refuses to sponsor a toothless resolution against Keystone or vote for a similarly toothless bill on Citizens in the State Senate? Again Will has never said he supports keystone or its approval, I would contend there is nothing the 5ths next Congressman can do to stop it so move on to future winnable fights. I have heard not a peep to the contrary thus far about what actions Congress with a tea party majority will take on this issue.

          And to be clear I disagree with where he comes from on Keystone, he and the ACLU take the flawed position that money is speech in the fire place. Or that political speech paid for by commercial interests for commercial rather than political purposes is still innately political. Go to his website and he directly stated he disagreed with me specifically on that issue. But what u am arguing is that his principled but incorrect position is not the disqualifer you make it out to be and does not make him a DINO. You have a right to your purity yet but Clark also fails it in my book based on your own positions. Seems unfair to apply it in one instance but not the other.

          • Actually, I didn't call him a DINO

            I said that on these two issues, he basically shares the same position as Mitt Romney and Gabriel Gomez; if I wanted that, I would have voted that way.

            And, actually, if you go back to the BMG thread about Clark’s legislation, you’ll see that I was deeply troubled by her NSA bill. And I would LOVE it if she would come on BMG to explain why she sponsored that piece of legislation — as Senator Brownsberger has done for his positions. (I give him a lot of credit for that.)

            But you’re right. Based on her NSA legislation, and Will’s position on Citizen’s United and KXL, I am glad that there are alternatives.

            • That's fair

              We disagree about Brownsberger but I respect your consistency. And I still want to be clear I am troubled by both of these positions, I just feel I need to defend where they are coming from because he is such a rare and responsive legislator. But so is Carl, and I am sure the others as well which is part of y broader point that the gang up Brownsberger approach is not the right way to start the race.

              Another commentator made a Winslow comparison that, while to those of us who know Will is preposterous, does show the difficulty he will have approaching this race. If my own experience as a former constituent was not so positive it’d be difficult for me to defend him
              As strongly as I’ve done here.

              • "Responsive"

                You know, I give a lot of points for being responsive. Responsive is good. But the content and substance matters. Brownsberger may be the most willing to blog, but when he does, his logic just totally breaks down. Dan Winslow is also really responsive (even posting to BMG on occasion) — but when he posts, I disagree with what he says. That’s why both Winslow and Brownsberger won’t be getting my vote.

                Based on your comments, it sounds like you think Carl Sciortino should get your vote, but you just really like how responsive Brownsberger is. I’d suggest that you should get on the Sciortino team. Both are responsive, and Sciortino seems to be the genuine progressive you want.

                • Not getting on any team

                  Don’t live in the 5th, don’t live in MA currently so can’t volunteer my time, can’t donate due to lack of funds. That said, I have nothing but respect for all of the candidates. I have concern about Clark’s bill and concern about Wills statement on Keystone-I just deplored the quick rush to judgement and negativity, and I do have the best relationship with Brownsberger who was my rep and state senator and felt he was being mistreated by the original author who is obviously affiliated with another candidate.

                  I’ve noticed Carl recommending and liking comments and posts, would live for him to make some posts here and would love to hear from the other three whom I am less familiar with.

  2. “I think the interesting question,” he said, “is whether [voters will] appreciate the frankness I have to offer — or whether people aren’t ready to hear what I have to say.”

    Why am I getting the Dan Winslow vibe?

    If Will’s campaign strategy is; I’m smart and if you don’t listen to me then you are stupid, he’s going to have a short campaign.

  3. not to divert too much on the jobs argument...

    …but imagine if we had a goal of building good long-term jobs, along with reduced energy consumption that could also help reduce the reliance on foreign oil, gas prices, emissions, and wear and tear on bridges and roads, while improving urban health and opening up land for other uses besides parking and driving. Just imagine.

    And imagine if we invested billions of federal dollars into urban public transit systems. Short term and long term jobs, short term and long term investment. Good for unions. Good for economies. Good for cities. Good for the environment.

    If only someone had the guts to propose that, rather than finding new ways of getting more oil out of the ground.

  4. The entire Keystone thing stinks

    and not just for it’s negative environmental impact. This is a proposal made primarily by TransCanada on behalf of Canada’s right wing that fancies itself as a potential “Oil State.” TransCanada refuses to sell one drop of oil directly to the U.S. Instead they want to pipe this sludge to Gulf Coast refineries that cannot efficiently process it. These same refineries are up for sale by BP and other oil companies because they want out of the refinery business (that is NOT where the money is) so the pipeline makes the refineries attractive to investors though they will need quite a bit of new infrastructure to be profitable. To me its all part of the further consolidation of the privately owned energy giants. Apparently Brownsberger is good with that too.

  5. Alright buddy

    You clearly aren’t neutral since this is the second negative post you made about Will. You clearly don’t want him to replace Markey. We get that, you have you’re reasons, but how about you pick one of the candidates you like and talk about their positive qualities?

    Also, Brownsberger is not supporting the Keystone pipeline. It is disingenuous and dishonest to argue otherwise, or to argue against straw man positions regarding its impact and job creation. What he is saying is he favors keeping that decision in the executive branch, Lynch and Boehner want Congress to have that power so the GOP house can take away the Presidents authority and clear the project over his objection. What Will is saying is that this resolution, much like the symbolic sense of the Senate resolution he opposed in the State Senate on climate change is a huge waste of time and energy. Better to fight the fights you can win. Realistically there is next to nothing our next 5th CD Representative can do about it but pressure the President. Senator Markey can hold the project and use other Senatorial powers to filibuster and delay, but his replacement in the House can propose and vote for legislation, better to propose and vote for legislation that will pass and better to vote for legislation that won’t give Boehner and his tea party cronies the power that the President rightfully has over this project. You are strongly implying he holds the exact opposite position than he has.

    • I appreciate the sentiment to stay positive

      …but I also appreciate an informative post and link like this. From reading the attached article, it certainly seems that Brownsberger is proudly in favor of both the Keystone pipeline and the Citizen’s United ruling, which I had no idea about:

      Citizen’s United: “But corporations have the First Amendment right to play in elections, he says.”
      Keystone: “…he said he would not favor any congressional intervention to block the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.”

      Besides just vehemently disagreeing with both of his hard-thought conclusions, it makes me wonder: Is this a libertarian streak? If so, I would have very big concerns about how that streak manifests itself economically.

      • Or, to channel Elizabeth Warren

        We need a Congressman we can count on not just some of the time, but ALL of the time.

        • Doesn't exist

          There is no one that I agree with all of the time.

          What you want is someone you can respect their decisions, even when you disagree.

      • Proudly?

        I don’t see that anywhere, he opposes Congressional efforts to take the power away from the President. This current Congress would approve, with the GOP house and the same gutless Dems who nixed gun control in the Senate leading the way. I agree that the President and not Congress has the authority. What specific Congressional action is being proposed to kill the pipeline that he is opposing? I haven’t heard of any bill, if there is one that takes the power to Congress it serves to aid not oppose efforts to get the pipeline passed.

        Now his position on Citizens United was also taken out of context and is highly nuanced, far more than Helman had portrayed it. I suspect the same is true here. Come on BMG is better than the Fox watchers who can’t understand complicated policy issues aren’t we? Elsewhere I’ve defended sound bite policies because they appeal to a national electorate, but the progressive grassroots off the 5th should be smarter than that and able to understand nuanced policy positions.

        Will is a lousy soundbite politician, he’d be the first to tell you that, which is why he is holding himself to a higher standard for contributions than his opponents even though it serves at a disadvantage. I’d take that over the stream of politicos from Obama to some in this race who will utilize the very loopholes they claim to oppose. Will, as a staunch civil libertarian opposes the federal government regulating any kind of speech, but still refuses to benefit personally from Citizens. That’s far less hypocritical than sending me emails decrying Citizens while similtaneously inviting me to donate for a chance to attend a 20k/plate fundraiser on George Clooneys lawn. I still disagree with him, but he laid out his reasoned case instead of pandering to me. I suspect we need to hear his case here a well and the next time Helman takes another quote out of context.

        • With all due respect

          I think you are being a bit generous in your reading of his quote. He seems pretty unequivocal on Keystone, not just a legislative procedural matter you read it as. It states that he does not favor any legislation to stop Keystone, which I presume includes theoretical legislation that could eventually come up.

          “he said he would not favor any congressional intervention to block the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.”

          He also takes the Mitt Romney “corporations are people too” stance:
          “But corporations have the First Amendment right to play in elections, he says.”

          The issue to me is not whether one man declines to participate in the Citizen’s United ruling, it’s whether we as a nation have decided it’s ok for corporations to pour unlimited funds into our elections. In my mind, it is unacceptable to just say “sure, I won’t participate but hey let’s let corporations do as the y please.” Because what, they don’t have enough say already?

          Seems to be his stance on the Keystone pipeline too. I’m not sure whether by acquiescing the role of Congress to fight against the pipeline he’s preferring to let the executive branch or the corporations take the lead. Frankly, both are ugly options and he should realize that. It’s weird to be here on BMG debating Citizen’s United, one of the worst rulings our democracy has ever seen.

          • How can Congress fight the pipeline?

            Specifically this Congress?

            • Yes, it's run by Republicans now

              So this Congress won’t realistically do anything to oppose the Keystone Pipeline. But presumably a Democrat in MA-5 will be there for more than one term, and this issue or similar issues will come up again and again.

              If Democrats were in control of Congress, they could fight the expansion of fossil fuels (like Keystone) in the US even if it’s just by raising the issue and pressuring the presidency. At that point why would we trust Brownsberger to do anything to block Keystone? He’s made his position clear:

              …he said he would not favor any congressional intervention to block the proposed Keystone XL pipeline

              Why would we trust him to stand up for the environment on other issues when he believes its just “little more than a footnote in the fight against climate change” (his words, not mine).

              Does this mean he’d gladly support drilling in the ANWR? Is that just a footnote too? What about a new project proposed by oil companies we haven’t even imagined yet?

              Are these really the principled environmental values MA wants to replace Ed Markey?

              I’ll be very curious to see where the environmental endorsements go.

              • Hmm

                Maybe to Brownsberger and other candidates, they backed him before and he returned the favor.

                Also he will push for a carbon tax, he helped save the Silver Maple Forest, and he is committed to ending climate change. I will ask for the umpteenth time, if there is no meaningful Congressional action for him to support on Keystone what is the point of taking a dishonest position? What specific bill is he opposing. Is he opposing Congress taking the power from the President, since thats the smart thing to do to save the pipeline from the Tea Party Congress. I think we should all with-hold judgment and not base something as precious as a vote on something as minute as a minor quote. Let him emphasize what his reasoning is. If he comes onto BMG and says ‘I <3 Keystone' than I will eat my crow.

            • What about other issues?

              jconway – I’m gathering from what you wrote that, in the immediately above comment, you’re contending that we shouldn’t be critical of Senator Brownsberger on matters related to the Keystone pipeline because you don’t think a Boehner-led House is going to take any preventative steps against Keystone anyway, making the issue moot in your mind – is that accurate?

              If that is accurate, then, does that issue-surrender apply to other issues, in your mind? Since Republicans in the U.S. Senate filibustered all gun safety measures, should we abandon efforts to pass universal background checks and a high capacity magazine ban and other measures? Was it wrong for Senator-elect Markey to raise the issue against Gabriel Gomez since Republicans will just keep filibustering anyway?

              If I have your permission, I’ll decide for myself what issues are of consequence to me. And I don’t think legislative battles are won by giving up at the first (or second or third) obstacle.

    • Alright buddy?

      jconway – I am neutral. I am not supporting one of the five candidates nor have I decided yet for whom I will vote in the primary. I am a resident and voter in the 5th Congressional district; and, like most voters at this early stage, I’m figuring out for whom I will cast my vote. That decision might come next week or it might actually come in the voting booth given how many terrific candidates we have from which to choose. I see that as a good thing. Given that the candidates – all current or former state legislators – share many of the same positions on issues when it comes to the broader brush strokes, I’m looking for distinctions among the candidates. Senator Brownsberger is offering such distinctions (kudos to him – while I don’t share his positions, I sincerely appreciate his frankness so that I am fully informed as to who I am voting for or against) that happen to include positions on issues with which I disagree. Others may agree with his positions on these particular issues; I don’t, and I want to share those thoughts and read what others think. If that bothers you, well, too bad.

      As for Brownsberger’s position on Keystone, you ought to pull back on your accusations of being disingenuous and dishonest. Brownsberger’s position – as WBUR reports and I quote in this post – is very clearly that he “would not favor any congressional intervention to block the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.” (Did WBUR mis-report that? Is Senator Brownsberger contending that WBUR unfairly characterized his position? I don’t think so.) I oppose that position. I very much want congressional intervention to block the pipeline, and I lay out my reasons why. I thought that was what we did here on Blue Mass Group.

      • c'mon

        You’re obviously attacking Brownsberger- which is fine. We should have a vigorous debate about the primary. Why deny it?

        • True that

          I’d significantly respect your opposition more if you just came out and said who you were supporting.

          • Why do you think that is?

            Thought exercise for you, jconway: why do you think your “respect” for my opposition (to positions on the issues, I presume) would be increased if I was concurrently advocating for a specific candidate? What difference does it make? I’m not making comparisons between candidates; I’m discussing a specific policy position of a single candidate. If Brownsberger was running unopposed, I would still hold this complaint about his position. As I said above, I haven’t decided who I will vote for in the primary – like all voters across the 5th, I’m still gathering info at this very early stage. Why are you so desperate for me to announce a specific candidate to support? What difference does that make to you regarding my support for Congressional intervention to stop the Keystone Pipeline?

        • Because

          you seem to be (as many do) misusing the word “attack.” There is a difference between a “vigorous debate” and an “attack” and it’s a critically important difference. I expand further in a comment below.

  6. And MY disclaimer

    I don’t live in the 5th, I know Will better and feel he is more experienced but I actually prefer Sciortino’s voting record on Beacon Hill. I am supporting no candidate in this field financially or with my time. I strongly urge all candidates and their backers to keep it positive. I am only defending Will from what I view as unfair attacks, and will happily defend other candidates when they are attacked as well. We have five smart, progressive, experienced and dedicated people running to replace a great public servant. This is the rare election when we can feel free to vote our first choice in the primary without worrying that the nominee will be anything but a solidly progressive representative. There is absolutely no reason to go negative this early and tear other people down. I invite Mat Helman to talk up the candidates he knows and end the exclusive take downs of Will.

    • Mathelman cites quotes from a WBUR report

      There is no mention in that report of the rather nuanced interpretation of his statements. Are you having a problem with the WBUR report?

      • One bleepin quote

        That says he opposes Congressional action on stopping Keystone.

        That’s all that’s there. We don’t know if he supports it, don’t know why he opposes Congressional action or anything else. Read the entire article and we see he backs a carbon tax putting him to the left of the field, the President, and genuine climate hero Senator Markey on this issue. We have the Environmetal League president calling him annoyingly principled.

        Helman implies Will supports the pipeline and links to non related quotes from keystone supporters and then proceeds to debunk them. He manages to employ the guilt by association and straw man fallacies in the same post!

        Currently the approval rests with the executive, moving that to Congress would risk giving the tea party majority approval power. Either way, there is no direct avenue for Congress to overturn the project. Any candidate promising they have the magical power to do so isn’t being honest. The only person with that power is the President, and I think he outta use it now to kill it soon.

        • Here's the thing

          Let us accept, arguendo, that a hypothetical Grand Bargain that gave us a real carbon tax in exchange for a basket of horrors that includes Keystone would be a win. (There are so many things there that make my skin crawl, but okay.)

          How do you get to such a deal? Not by saying, Keystone okay based on some abstract principle, but we ought to have a carbon tax.

          You get there by saying, No keystone without a carbon tax, major solar investment, and three other green demands to be negotiated away (perhaps) later.

          I like Brownsberger. He’s smart, he rides his bike to official appearances, and he is no phoney. I remain open to learning more.

          But this sort of thing makes me wonder if he is the person I want to represent me in Congress, for the political scrum where things are messy. Is his intelligence the right kind? His temperament?

          So if Mathelman’s agenda is to raise doubts about Brownsberger, for whatever reason, he is succeeding.

    • "Attack"?

      “Attack” has become one of the most overused words in politics. Saying that I disagree with an elected official’s or a candidate’s position and listing the reasons why isn’t an attack. It isn’t “tearing down” anybody or a “take down.” And it certainly isn’t “unfair.” Weighing pros and cons is how we make choices – including choices about who we vote for. And disagreeing with a candidate on important issues represents a significant con. Sharing that sentiment – and keeping it strictly to the issues – isn’t an attack. There will be disagreements – let’s have those disagreements civilly and then get over it.

      I do agree that we currently have five smart, thoughtful, dedicated, qualified public servants running, all bringing impressive experience. But each of us can only vote for one. How we come to that decision will be different for all of us. But, for most of us I would imagine, issue agreements and disagreements will be integral to our decision. Voicing such disagreements when they occur – and, again, keeping it to the issues – is part of our discourse. If you find that distasteful, too bad.

  7. It IS out of context

    You left out the part in the article where he favors a carbon tax, which I agree would do a lot more than stopping Keystone to curb climate change and is the most progressive policy position to take on climate issues. Or that George Bachrach of the Environmental League called him “annoyingly principled”. He also voted against three strikes which demonstrates he is one of the few legislators out there willing to stand up for the rights if he accused.

    Again show me something Congress could actually do to stop keystone that could stand a chance of passing and then we have an argument. Otherwise I see someone willing to tell it like it is, we need all of us banding together to stop climate change and killing one project isn’t enough. Nowhere is he endorsing the project, nowhere does he make the arguments about job creation and its environmental impact that he quoted and then argued against. Those are straw men they are not Wills position. You take the only quote on the article about Keystone and assign all sorts of arguments, positions, and issues to it that Will is not on record holding.

    You are intentionally reducing complex policy positions into easy sound bites as aligning Will with individuals and principles he actually does
    not agree with. And you have done this twice now. So far you have made no major posts about any of the other candidates or where they stand but I count two misleading critiques against Will. I can give you the benefit of the doubt on Citizens post, his position is complicated and he explained it poorly out of the gate, and i happen to agree with you its problematic. but you deliberately mislead with this post. More questions need to be asked to clarify why he opposes action and his opponents should be clear regarding what they intend to do differently. But I see no direct endorsement of the pipeline you clearly implied. It’s easy to be a yes man and just vote down the line on various litmus tests and symbolic but pointless resolutions, it’s a lot harder to actually educate yourself about an issue and propose principled practical policies to address them. On issue after issue Will chooses the latter and not the former and I hope it does not doom his candidacy.

    • I didn't have anything against Brownsberger

      “It’s easy to be a yes man and just vote down the line on various litmus tests and symbolic but pointless resolutions, it’s a lot harder to actually educate yourself about an issue and propose principled practical policies to address them.”

      My concern now, after reading this article and following it up with his detailed position writing on his blog for congress here, is that he is that he HAS thought about it, and the result of that is a full-throated advocacy of the Citizen’s United decision to the point that he sees politicians opposing it as ‘hypocritical’. In his mind, the threat to democracy is on the shoulders of politicians, who should be self-policing their contributions.

      My proposal to the other candidates in the race is that they agree to the same restrictions that I have for several years unilaterally imposed on myself.

      It’s a nice thought, I guess, that politicians like him are all going to be so good about self-policing. But I’d go way out on a limb and say not all of them will. In fact, many of them won’t.

      He seems like a decent guy who tries to live by a good personal code, but I guess my litmus test MA Congress includes setting up rules for limiting corporate contributions, and opposing the Citizen’s United decision. Maybe his reasoning (I encourage everyone to read the full link to his position page above) can convince people in MA-5 that a nuanced position where Citizen’s United is celebrated for restoring First Amendment rights, but to me it’s kind of a no-brainer.

      Getting corporate money out of politics is a big deal, and just hoping everyone signs a nice pledge isn’t enough.

  8. I don't have a dog in this fight, but ...

    … this guy also supports the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. I’m sure the good people of the Fifth Congressional District can do better, you know, by electing someone in step with the rest of the delegation.

  9. Both here, and in the recent...

    apologia by the Hon Sen Brownsberger, it would appear that he favors outcomes over process. I don’t think, however, he could have chosen two more uglier and, frankly, wicked processes to demonstrated these habits of thought.

    The outcome of ‘Citizens United’, he contends, is greater protection for free speech and so he neither takes exception to the way the decision leaps o’er reason and prudence nor much minds the side affects of the widest possible interpretation of ‘speaker’.

    With regards to Keystone XL it’s jobs and the economy and, apparently, elision of both damage and symbolism without, it seems, having thought it completely through. It’s a view that encompasses only the short term: ‘jobs now, worry later.’

    Strange, too, that both these issues derive from others efforts to change: he refuses to join efforts to change Citizens and he refuses to join opposition to Keystone XL. it seems to me, the fact that these views arise in opposition to efforts to change the bad outcomes of the bad processes , well, this strikes me as rather a bit too mercenary.

  10. Symbolic tilting at windmills or solving the real problems

    What’s the real problem here?

    If the problem is toxic money in politics, Citizen’s United is a huge distraction. If we continue to decry the parts of the law declared unconstitutional, there will be lots of noise but no real solution. All that noise succeeds in doing is distracting from all the corrupting money that was legal before Citizen’s United.

    Keystone XL? If we stop the pipeline, will fossil fuel use be decreased? No. They will just put it on a train and send it across the country. A Keystone XL debate just distracts from real solutions, such as cap and trade, higher standards for vehicle fuel economy, more renewable energy, improved mass transit.

    Seems that Will is looking for real solutions rather than chasing after the shiny distractions. It seems to be a more strategic and principled approach.

    As for the real problem that is the focus of this thread? I think there’s another candidate who views Brownsberger as a frontrunner, who feels the need to discredit Will.

    • Disagree

      I think it is folly to make a suggestion or to assume that posters here are working for,

      “another candidate who views Brownsberger as a frontrunner, who feels the need to discredit Will.”

      No, I strongly reject that position based on the character and service of the five announced candidates.

      As I wrote over here:

      Rarely do I disagree with jconway. I don’t think it is fair to equate the tone and/or content of someone’s posts with the character or judgement of a former employer. mathelman has been rough riding Brownsberger in other posts – but I needed to know that information. It has confirmed some reservations that I have about “wonks and intellectuals” being great legislators. I want a great legislator in the MA-5 seat. I agree with those above who are protesting the claims of implosion as hyperbole. I don’t think that is a valid claim or statement.

      I don’t see any indication by any of the campaigns at this point that competition has been tiered. I would think that the candidate with the deepest record of accomplishment is the one to beat.

      I do see that this will be an emotionally charged race and suggest that maybe we as constituents, activists and stake holders take our own “People’s Pledge” to stick to the high road of civic engagement and civil dialogue.
      heartlanddem @ Wed 10 Jul 9:27 PM

    • No, this is of genuine concern

      The candidates’ approaches to these issues is of legitimate concern to me.

      That includes a sense of how needed change can happen. What is the main chance on issues like democracy hijacked by money and global warming.

      I’m not going to go so far as to characterize Will’s approach based on his statements to date, but what I see alarms (and surprises) me.

      As for the other candidate etc: It makes no difference to me who commenced it, as the song goes. Your characterization is ad hominum, my concerns are substantive.

      By the way, your economic analysis of the impact of keystone is not correct.

    • I definitely disagree with your analysis on all points

      On Citizens United: It doesn’t seem like Brownsberger is calling Citizens United a distraction in the real battle against money in politics. Besides that I think that’s incorrect anyway, he seems to take the principled approach that the First Amendment rights of corporations are more important than the fallout. He then proposes the incredibly naive solution to make politicians self-regulate. He’s probably a good enough guy to do just that, but it doesn’t make for sound policy.

      On Keystone: No, stopping one pipeline will not stop all fossil uel usage, even one on as huge a scale as this one. We shouldn’t be making it easier for them to ship the stuff. We should be making harder, so that the other solutions you (and Brownsberger) point out become more viable alternatives. Allowing expansion of cheaper delivery alternatives undercuts that progress.

      On BMGers who want to ‘discredit Will’: I can’t speak for anyone else on this thread, but I am here to discuss real progressive policy and politics. I find this original post and the comments (including yours, pablo) extremely valuable. If I find myself on Brownsberger’s personal page, reading his own words, and I find that I fundamentally disagree with his conclusions, I don’t feel that it’s discrediting Will to discuss any of it. It’s important to vet the candidates before they become a fixture in our delegation, and these are issues that matter to me and other self-identified progressives.

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