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Month January 2017

Neil Gorsuch nominated for SCOTUS

He is a circuit court judge from Colorado, and former clerk for Justices White and Kennedy (and if confirmed will be the first justice to serve with another justice for whom he clerked).  In any other circumstance I would say he’s qualified and the process should proceed, but this time there is the significant matter of his name not being Merrick Garland, so nothing personal Judge Gorsuch, but…

Gorsuch Nomination in East Room

I hope everybody’s enjoying the white party in the East room of the White House. What a very white house it is this evening. What is this? 1923?

Republicans Pose Laws Cracking Down on Lawful Protests

From CNN. These are the sort of officials we need to highlight, and run against. I’m going to guess that Rep. Keith Kempenich has a pretty safe seat, but it would still be useful to challenge him. Lawmakers in that state are set to vote Friday on a bill that would legalize accidentally running over protesters in the road, one of several new measures across the country that aim to discourage disruptive protests. Rep. Keith Kempenich introduced the North Dakota bill, which states that if a driver “unintentionally” causes injury or death to someone blocking traffic on a roadway, then the driver will not be liable for damages. Kempenich said he was spurred to act after Dakota Access Pipeline protesters last year moved to block public roadways, scaring some of his constituents. Wait, there’s more. But roadway protests are a hot topic in Minnesota, too. There, a Republican-led House committee passed a measure Tuesday that would allow local governments to sue criminally convicted protesters for law enforcement costs. These are attacks on our most fundamental rights, and (unless they pass) they will be long forgotten when these guys come up for reelection next year. We need to challenge them — […]

A Progressive Legislative Agenda for 2017-2018 (plus, your action needed)

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Ripe Opportunity for the state to help Western MA

The Hartford Courant is reporting that the insurance company AETNA is exploring a move to Boston from Hartford. In general this seems like a silly proposition, but is a perfect opportunity for our state leaders to help the Western Massachusetts economy, especially since AETNA seems to be speaking to Charlie Baker’s office about this. I don’t know why AETNA is looking to move from Connecticut, but let’s assume that they are simply unhappy with the state and its policies, and they like Massachusetts. Instead of luring them to Boston, how about giving them some incentive to move to the greater Springfield area? It’s just up the road from Hartford, so the benefit to AETNA would be pretty strong – they wouldn’t have to relocate their workforce. Let’s face it, the Boston area is doing pretty well. State unemployment is allegedly under 3%, but the unemployment in Western MA is still higher, and the types of jobs we have out here pay a lot less than Boston. Boston’s metro median household income in 2015 was $78,800. Springfield’s was $53,393 for the metro area. Boston city was $54,485, and Springfield was $34,751. We clearly need some help here. We have plenty of […]

Dump the Trump Slump

I originally posted this on my Facebook page, in response to seeing despair from a lot of friends.  Maybe it can do some good here as well. You’re exhausted by the news. You’re by turns baffled, angry, and weepy about the things that are happening. You feel helpless as you watch your country lurch down a path you never dreamed it would consider, and you grow despondent as you realize that we are only 10 days into the new administration. In short, you’re in a “Trump Slump,” to borrow the brilliant turn of phrase coined by a friend. It’s no fun, but take heart: you are not alone. Here are some ideas on how to break out of it. First – and this is important: accept that you can’t solve this problem alone. None of us can. You should feel no shame at all for feeling like you aren’t able to make things better for people who are being harmed, because the reality is that except for a very few people who already have power, it’s just not possible in most cases. The key is that there is tremendous power in many people doing small things. So the right question isn’t, […]

What am I Missing?

As stated in the Boston Globe: The growth of the state economy slowed to a crawl in the last three months of 2016 as the shortage of skilled workers squeezed company expansion plans, the University of Massachusetts reported on Friday.  The state’s unemployment rate in December was 2.8 percent, the lowest its been in 16 years, and while that’s good news for workers and those searching for jobs, it is making it difficult on employers who can’t find the people they need to fill positions, said Alan Clayton-Matthews, an economics professor at Northeastern University. As many of you know, I was laid off from my job about a year ago.  As part of my duties to qualify for unemployment payments, I had to research the position that I held and learn what the going rate was for that position in the marketplace.  What I learned was that my position pay range was $45-60K.  That explained one thing to me straight away. I was being paid several thousand dollars more than the high end of that range, and I was getting four weeks vacation.  While the reasons for my termination were never given, apart from, “We have to make changes” and “The company […]

It’s not really about Trump, Part 3

See this article. It’s a lot about Bannon. Now we know why Bannon got himself onto the National Security Council. He already seems to be in control of Trump’s domestic agenda of rolling back enlightenment-inspired pluralism and the liberal order progressively institutionalized since the Great Depression. Now, what better position from which to engineer the provocations and story-line for the war against Islam that he has said in other interviews that we must fight. Can anyone doubt that he has already planted in Trump’s deranged and vainglorious mind the idea that such a new world war would enshrine Trump as a world-historical figure? These people must be stopped.

Are we being “played”??

From Heather Cox Richardson: she is writing from the position of a moderate (albeit one who has published several books on the history of the Republican party). —- “I don’t like to talk about politics on Facebook– political history is my job, after all, and you are my friends– but there is an important non-partisan point to make today. What Bannon is doing, most dramatically with last night’s ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries– is creating what is known as a “shock event.” Such an event is unexpected and confusing and throws a society into chaos. People scramble to react to the event, usually along some fault line that those responsible for the event can widen by claiming that they alone know how to restore order. When opponents speak out, the authors of the shock event call them enemies. As society reels and tempers run high, those responsible for the shock event perform a sleight of hand to achieve their real goal, a goal they know to be hugely unpopular, but from which everyone has been distracted as they fight over the initial event. There is no longer concerted opposition to the real goal; opposition divides along the […]

What happened to the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Not a single person has been killed on American soil by terrorists from the seven nations included in Trump’s immigration order. But the order is popular with many Americans — roughly half.  It is popular because those Americans are afraid, having been encouraged in this by Trump himself. FDR told us that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  It is unfortunate this this statement has become trite through repetition. It is an important truth, because fear is incompatible with freedom.  Rational prudence in the face of danger, yes, but not irrational fear. If we are to succeed in our fight to preserve civil liberties in our country, our first goal must be to fight fear — with facts.  We cannot be free without being brave — especially in the face of cynically concocted imaginary “dangers”!