January 2016
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Month January 2016

It’s Iowa Caucus prediction time!

OK folks, we’ve all been watching debates, scouring polls, and otherwise reading tea leaves for months now.  But on Monday evening, actual voting begins.  The Iowa caucuses are a weird way to kick off the selection of a presidential nominee (read this and this for some details on how delegates are actually awarded), but, to paraphrase a certain former Secretary of Defense, you nominate a president with the delegate system you have, not the system you might want or wish you had at a later time. So, have at it in the comments.  Give us your top three finishers on both the Democratic and Republican sides, with expected percentages (don’t worry about allocating actual delegates – let’s leave that to Iowa party officials).  Winner determined by getting the top-3 orders right, and then by getting closest to the actual percentages.  Tiebreaker points for getting the correct order of Republicans further down the ballot.  Best finisher gets, in addition to bragging rights, a beverage on me at Tom’s upcoming BMG Stammtisch gathering in Somerville on Wednesday.  (Obviously, you have to be 21 to collect that prize.  If you win but either you or I can’t make it Wednesday, we’ll work it […]

What if …

I must say I’m taken aback by at least the timing, if not the content of the recent State Department announcement about Hillary Clinton’s emails: The State Department acknowledged for the first time Friday that “top secret” information has been found in emails that passed through the private email server Hillary Clinton used while leading the agency, elevating the issue in the presidential campaign three days before the hotly contested Iowa caucuses. The information was contained in 22 emails, across seven email chains, that were sent or received by Clinton, according to a State Department spokesman. The emails will not be disclosed as part of an ongoing release of Clinton’s email correspondence from her years as secretary of state, even in highly redacted form. The timing of this announcement, just days before the Iowa caucuses, catches my attention — surely the political fallout is not unexpected. Is there a chance that there are some Hillary Clinton detractors in the State Department who are playing politics? In any case, this creates an interesting scenario … What if this blows up, and makes Ms. Clinton unelectable? Is Bernie Sanders the beneficiary of this? What is the likelihood that: 1. Martin O’Malley surges, […]

Warren slams Obama: “Corporate criminals routinely escape meaningful prosecution for their misconduct”

Right on, Senator Warren! Senator Clinton should be thanking her lucky stars that Bernie Sanders is the greatest of her worries these days. If Warren had run, the outcome of the Democratic primary might be in serious doubt. NYT Op-Ed by Senator Warren: I just released a report examining 20 of the worst federal enforcement failures in 2015. Its conclusion: “Corporate criminals routinely escape meaningful prosecution for their misconduct.” In a single year, in case after case, across many sectors of the economy, federal agencies caught big companies breaking the law — defrauding taxpayers, covering up deadly safety problems, even precipitating the financial collapse in 2008 — and let them off the hook with barely a slap on the wrist. Often, companies paid meager fines, which some will try to write off as a tax deduction. The failure to adequately punish big corporations or their executives when they break the law undermines the foundations of this great country. Justice cannot mean a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but nothing more than a sideways glance at a C.E.O. who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars. Of course, enforcement would likely have been weaker or non-existent if […]

Crowdsourcing an Alternative

Full Disclosure: I am the field director for the United Independent Party See you all at Saloon on Wednesday! We can trade contacts or barbs in person over great drinks! It’s stories like this one that convinced me something is profoundly broken about our state’s democratic and yes, Democratic system of government. Adrian Walker talked a look at Senator Brian Joyce’s (D-Milton) ethical foibles. From Adrian Walker in today’s Globe: Brian Joyce, a Beacon Hill fixture, has been the subject of multiple recent ethics probes, and he probably isn’t done being investigated (emphasis mine-JC). In a lengthy telephone interview Thursday, he insisted that he had never violated the state’s frankly lax ethical standards and predicted full exoneration. But he was contrite as well, admitting that he had, at times, been guilty of lousy judgment. At the center of the most recent investigation was a graduation party Joyce threw for his son. Of the $5,200 cost of the party, $3,367 was paid by his campaign finance committee. Joyce has agreed to pay back the money billed to his committee, which will be donated to the Massachusetts Hospital School, a Canton-based facility for people with special needs. To add insult to injury […]

Joke Revue: “Dazed Marco Rubio Wakes Up In Koch Compound To Find Cold Metal Device Installed Behind Ear”

Onion: Dazed Marco Rubio Wakes Up In Koch Compound To Find Cold Metal Device Installed Behind Ear ‘Hello Marco, We Will Now Begin The Program,’ Says Soothing Voice A disoriented Rubio says he is unsure if he has been in the room for five hours or five days. UNKNOWN LOCATION—The brightly lit, stark-white room gradually coming into focus as he regained consciousness, GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio reportedly awoke in the Koch brothers’ secret compound Thursday and reached suddenly to his throbbing head to discover a cold metal device implanted behind his left ear. As Rubio sat up slowly on a steel cot—the room otherwise empty except for a large Koch Industries logo emblazoned on one wall—sources said he was startled to hear a soothing voice reverberating inside his aching skull, evidently emanating from the smooth metal disk that he gingerly touched while panic began to well in his chest. “Hello, Marco,” said the oddly familiar voice. “We are very pleased to have you as our guest. We have so much planned for you.” “Remember, what’s best for us is best for you, Marco. Now, let’s begin with an exercise on threats to American free enterprise and prosperity.” “Now that […]

The Trumpless debate showed us why Trump is winning: all the other candidates are awful

As you know, the final Republican debate before the voting actually begins on Monday went ahead without the clear Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump.  Let’s review what we learned from seeing how these guys (and they were all guys, as Carly Fiorina, along with Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, didn’t make the cut) performed without Trump’s outsized presence on stage with them. In a word, they were awful.  Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio spent much of the debate trying to tear each other apart to prove how soft the other one was on immigration.  Rubio also had a couple of especially bizarre moments when he declared that he was not a savior; that the only savior was (I believe this is an exact quote) “Jesus Christ who came to earth and died for our sins”; and that he was hoping to spend eternity with his Creator; all the while speaking in the exact same rapid-fire monotone that he uses to talk about tax policy.  You’d think he could muster something resembling a human emotion when discussing what is presumably the core of his faith.  It was strange and unappealing.  He did himself no favors last night, IMHO. Cruz, for his part, did […]

Trump just either blew his chance to be the GOP nominee, or destroyed his opponents’ last best chance to overtake him…

and nobody knows which it is. You sure can’t criticize this primary season for being boring.  After all the nuttiness that we’ve seen (especially on the GOP side, it must be said) up to now, this week’s goings-on still stand out as, perhaps, unprecedented. We’re less than a week away from the Iowa caucuses.  Donald Trump holds a modest lead in the most recent Iowa polling, but Iowa is tough to poll because of the caucus system, so it’s certainly possible that Ted Cruz, or even someone else (most likely Rubio), could pull off a win based on those numbers.  Trump holds a much bigger lead in other upcoming contests, as well as nationally.  Standard campaign strategy in those circumstances would probably be not to rock the boat too dramatically.  Try to win or take a strong second place in Iowa, and hope that the polling numbers hold in NH and beyond.  Ride the wave. Instead, Trump has gone far out of his way to antagonize the news network that holds the most sway over Republican primary voters: Fox News.  Fox News is sponsoring the final pre-Iowa debate.  Trump insisted that Megyn Kelly be removed as a moderator; Fox refused; […]

BMG Stammtisch

The Saloon I invite each and every one of you to join me and hopefully us at a hopefully-monthly BMG “Stammtisch” on Wednesday, 3-February-2016, and the FIRST WEDNESDAY of each month after that. This not-to-be-missed event will take place at the The Saloon in Davis Square, a quick walk from the Davis Square Red Line stop, starting at 7:00p. There is parking in town lots nearby. When you enter the main room (down the stairs from Elm Street, left at the hostess table), I’ll make every effort to be at the round table in the corner to your left. My plan is to simply be there and welcome all who show. I’ll make an effort to put some sort of “BMG” sign on the table. I know that several of our local political figures read BMG with some regularity, and I’ll reach out to them individually in hopes that they’ll come from time to time. I very much want this to be a low-stress low-commitment kind of thing — come if it works for you, no you don’t have sign up, you don’t have tell me ahead of time, no agenda, no program. I picture this as something of a […]

MASC: Governor’s education funding “less than adequate.”

School Committee Association raises concerns over less than adequate education funding in Governor’s proposed FY17 budget Boston—The Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) responded to Governor Baker’s proposed FY17 budget with a sense of disappointment but with determination to work with our friends in the House and Senate as well as our municipal partners in the coming weeks for fair school budgeting and sound educational policy. MASC President Jake Oliveira, a member of the Ludlow School Committee, noted that “MASC recognize the difficulty faced by Governor Baker in crafting a balanced FY 2017 budget, but we are disappointed that the important recommendations of the Chapter 70 Foundation Budget Review Commission were not considered in this budget.  Further delaying the implementation of these recommendations continues to leave Chapter 70 inadequately funded for yet another year.  Our schools are being short-changed, and this leads to an even greater toll on our communities. We are especially disappointed because the Chapter 70 Commission did incredible work to recommend some important funding reforms especially around special education and health insurance.” The proposed FY 2017 budget contains a $72 million (1.6%) increase in Chapter 70 education aid over FY16, well below the roughly $100,000,000 increases allocated in recent years.  “State aid to […]

O’Malley the Kingmaker

Surprised not to see much discussion of this five days out from Iowa.  For anyone fortunate enough not to see the perversion of democracy that is Iowa, there is a significant rule that bears mentioning. And it means the forgotten Democratic candidate might be making some huge headlines the next day…