December 2015
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Month December 2015

Totally off topic

This is totally off topic for BMG, but since I just mentioned NPR on a different post, I feel obliged to note that NPR star Ari Shapiro, who is also a great singer, is live-hosting at 10pm tonight the mind-blowing annual New Year’s performance of the magnificent Pink Martini. Ari really is a great singer, his two Yiddish songs on their holiday album are brilliant, and he is almost certain to sing “Now He Is Back.” Gavin Bondy on trumpet is killer, Pansy Chang on cello makes me swoon, the rhythm section slays, China Forbes’ singing might come in seven different languages (yup, I have seen and heard her do it in person) and Thomas Lauderdale as pianist and maestro rules the roost. Don’t miss this.

Hope/Change Person of the Year

Maura Healey. For, among other things, this. (No I’m not trying to get her to run for Governor. Too soon to discuss, in my view.) Other people I considered: our new Congresspeople, Seth Moulton and Katherine Clark. Both have led on important issues. Huge props to Moulton on the Syrian refugee crisis. Hell I briefly considered Baker, but he just announced a hiring freeze (really a layoff in disguise, because people leave). I would grade Baker “Better than expected” so far, but I’m still a Democrat and he’s still a Republican. Really the hope-iest, change-iest person globally is probably Pope Francis, but his organization has a LONG way to go, and besides this is a political site, not Time magazine (and boy did they wimp out this year, but I digress). Your thoughts?

My brother, Howard

I want the phone to ring and hear, “Hey, what are you doing”, one more time. My brother Peter was saying, he wanted one more game, that one more time at Fenway or the Garden. There are a lot of one mores we all will carry. Indulge my remembrances, for as much I and others have said in various forums about Howard Leibowitz, I guess now is the time that his name and legacy become a more public thing, something he never sought in life. I was telling Conny that he was even trending on Twitter for a bit, which he would have enjoyed immensely. As much as he was online, Facebook and Twitter have become a virtual shiva, a virtual wake for a life fully lived and that has touched so many people, in so many ways. Nothing makes me prouder than hearing every story about how he championed social justice issues. Among the kind words I’ve seen from Mayor Flynn, was Howard being considered one of the “Sandinistas” there. He had that passion to make change, but did so in a way that didn’t alienate anyone. I can’t even begin to tell you how many posts I’ve read […]

CA Geyser Shows Why Fracked Gas Is a Climate Killer

A massive gas well leak in California northwest of Los Angeles has sickened dozens, forced the relocation of thousands of residents and two schools, and caused untold damage to our climate. As Massachusetts lawmakers consider subsidizing new or expanded fracked gas pipelines, the Porter Ranch gas geyser is fresh evidence that locking in our gas addiction would be a climate disaster. Activists in the San Fernando Valley community of Porter Ranch have spent years trying to stop oil & gas drilling, but California has gone full-speed ahead anyway. This leak began October 23 and Louis Sahagun of the Los Angeles Times reports tests have shown hydrogen sulfide levels in the area at 183 parts per billion — six times the state standard for a chemical that can be poisonous. Gizmodo’s Alissa Walker calls it the biggest environmental crisis since the Gulf oil disaster. A relief well won’t stop it for months. According to Mashable’s Andrew Freedman, Environmental Defense Fund estimates the size of the leak at an astounding 62 million standard cubic feet of methane per day:

My take on the “Donald” phenomenon

Many have tried to put a chink in Mr. Trump’s armor by name calling, or denigrating his supporters.  For better or worse they are still our fellow citizens.  How to live with them?  Of course I’m assuming that the overwhelming majority on this blog would rather not.  However, I believe the right inroads have not been made to develop a vision of a united country versus one where the “Hatfields and McCoys” pepper the landscape.  I wrote the following comment in the Globe on yet another Trump story.  Of course I also had to put in a plug for my candidate, Bernie Sanders. “More than one candidate has used MSM’s negative image to their advantage. The Donald’s wealth and crude directness wins people over. There is one thing to keep in mind, however. Donald Trump spares no one who tries to disturb his self aggrandizing plans. He attacked the people of his Mom’s birthplace while at the same time using it to his own advantage. He claimed he was building a luxury golf course, par none, in Menie, Scotland, because of his heritage. The land he chose was a unique environmentally sensitive area, recognized so by experts. He used his […]

RIP howardjp, we have lost another BMGer

We have lost another BMGer. Howard Leibowitz passed away suddenly on Sunday. He blogged here as howardjp. The Globe tells the story and the Herald as well. The obituary is here. Peter Dreier’s remembrance on Huffington Post is quite moving. Howard served the city of Boston for many years. I was struck by this quote from a facebook post, “He knew everybody in City Hall, state government, and Congress, but also neighborhood activists, academic experts, business leaders, and union folks. And, most remarkably in the competitive bare-knuckles world of politics, everybody who knew Howard liked him.’’        

Health Care Debate tactics that you can use this holiday social season.

I’ll argue that most of ones health is predetermined by genetics and/or ones family environment . Along the same lines, much of ones wealth is predetermined by ones birth. That said, if one does not believe in universal single payer health care coverage, one simply thinks that the lucky ones get help and the unlucky do not, much like seeds scattered by the wind. Some get soil and nourishment, some not and it is not proper human behavior to ameliorate these circumstances. It is as if the bonds of humanity are broken and we’re all on our own as fate would dictate.  To me, this is the Republican position and one that I find repugnant, un-American and immoral relative to any religion I know of.   Bonus Topic:  If the conversation turns to the current heroin epidemic, there’s this:  Almost without exception, nations, and even US states, where the concentration of wealth is greatest have not only more addictions than those with less inequality. These differences relate not to overall amount of wealth in US states but to how the money is distributed among the population. So why does inequality per se have such a profound impact on health, including addiction? 

2016 Predictions

The unseasonable warmth may be about to make an exit from Massachusetts, and the French Toast Alert is crawling out of its summer hibernation for the first time this season. It must be time for the beloved BMG prognosticators to dust off their crystal balls and make predictions for the new year. 2016 Elections: If you are playing, name the tickets and the electoral vote total for the winner. Bernie gives her a good run through Iowa and New Hampshire, but Hillary dominates the rest of the way and wins the Democratic nomination. She chooses Sen. Sherrod Brown as her running mate. After a strong win in Iowa, enough of the GOP establishment lines up behind Ted Cruz with hope of stopping Donald Trump. Trump has 40% of the delegates going into the convention, but Cruz comes through with a strong enough second to assemble a majority on the third ballot. In an attempt to broaden the ticket’s appeal, Cruz names Nikki Haley as his running mate. Hillary wins the presidency with 329 electoral votes. Kelly Ayotte, Ron Johnson, and Mark Kirk lose their senate seats in the general election, while John McCain loses the GOP primary. Senate goes 51D-49R, […]

Getting it wrong on taxis and Uber. Again.

Is the Globe hurting for op-ed material?  Because Christmas Day’s Globe ran an op-ed by former Cambridge mayor and state senator Anthony Galluccio (“a member of the Cambridge Taxi Industry Group,” per the Globe) that not only repeated a bunch of tired anti-Uber arguments that have been around for months, it also asserted a bunch of “facts” that seem suspect – or, at least, he supplied no evidence for them. Don’t get me wrong – I and others around here and elsewhere have been arguing for years that the regulation of the taxi system is a disaster that desperately needs reform, even as we support Uber’s right to operate in and around Boston.  And Galluccio correctly points to two of the taxi system’s more offensive features (“due to regulations, a Cambridge taxi cannot pick up in Boston and vice versa. Absurd, but true.”; and “A taxi medallion owner must finance a medallion for $700,000 or more, the cost of a luxury condo for each cab, just to get it on the road.”), both of which we’ve pointed to before.  However: Galluccio’s claim that medallions cost $700,000 is out of date and almost certainly too high.  A Boston medallion indeed sold for roughly that amount […]

Will the Courts and access to justice remain standing, hat in hand, like Oliver in the orphanage to say, “Please Sir, can I have more?”

This is a BIG issue with almost no constituency.  No one thinks about, supports, or cares about the Courts – until they need to go to court.  Cambridge District Court has been in an inaccessible area in Medford for seven years – denying justice to those without cars.  Does anyone whose nose is not rubbed in it care?  Courts are tucked in former warehouses with almost no public transportation to get to them.  Staff is cut and cut and cut – and it is those who cannot afford attorneys who suffer.  But in our constitution the Judicial Branch is supposed to be the co-equal of the legislature and the executive – not a beggar standing hat in hand, and saying “Please sir, can I have some more” like Oliver in an orphanage.  Deval Patrick let the courts rot and access to justice was not even on his dance card.  Deval Patrick even attacked the small, earnest bar of private attorneys willing to accept court appointments to try and protect those in the clutches of DCF.  The attorneys who, as a kind of vocation, accept appointments to represent the indigent were treated horribly by the Patrick administration which is how he […]