National Rifle Association: "A voice for criminals"

NYT Op-Ed contributor Alan Berlow lays out what any reasonable observer has known for years: the National Rifle Association is primarily the lobbying arm of the gun manufacturing industry, and supports crime and criminals because that makes people buy more guns.

“[T]he N.R.A. was no longer the voice of law-abiding gun owners, but rather a voice for criminals.”

Americans should understand the outsize role the N.R.A. plays, not only in thwarting sensible gun safety laws but also in undermining law enforcement by abetting gun traffickers, criminal gun dealers and criminal gun users

Read the whole piece here.


Joke Revue: "Americans Opposed to Being Shot Seek Representation in Washington"


Americans Opposed to Being Shot Seek Representation in Washington

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – Americans who are opposed to being shot, a constituency that has historically failed to find representation in Washington, are making a new effort to make its controversial ideas heard in the nation’s capital.

“When you bring up the idea of not wanting to be shot with members of Congress, there’s always been pushback,” Carol Foyler, founder of the lobbying group Americans Opposed to Being Shot, said. “Their reaction has been, basically, ‘Not being shot: who’s going to support something like that?’”

Foyler, however, believes that the right to not be shot, much like women’s right to vote, the right to same-sex marriage, and other rights that were deemed controversial in their day, may be an idea whose time has finally come.

“For years, we’ve been talking about the right to not be shot and people have been looking at us like we’re out of our minds,” she said. “But recent polls show that a vast majority of Americans, in fact, do not want to be shot.”

While Foyler and other anti-being-shot activists believe that Washington may finally be receptive to their radical ideas, Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association, is doubtful. “People who don’t want to be shot are a very narrow interest group,” he said.

Daniel Kurtzman:

“The story says that Donald Trump gets so little sleep, he actually suffers from sleep deprivation. Then again, so do most people who think about Donald Trump becoming president.” –Jimmy Fallon

“NSA leaker Edward Snowden joined Twitter yesterday, and immediately got more followers than the NSA. Which raises an interesting question: Who’s following the NSA on Twitter?” –Jimmy Fallon

“While visiting America, Pope Francis secretly met with Kim Davis, the county clerk who denied marriage licenses to gay couples. At first she refused to meet with the Pope because she was told, ‘There’s a guy in a dress named Francis here to see you.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Governor Bobby Jindal’s presidential campaign is angrily insisting that the “Duck Dynasty” cast supports him and not Donald Trump. And that is the current report on the state of the Bobby Jindal campaign.” –Conan O’Brien

“After their meeting got off to a tense start, Obama and Putin wound up talking for 90 minutes, and Putin described the talks as ‘surprisingly open.’ Putin said it was the most productive conversation he’d ever had with someone who wasn’t tied to a chair.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Donald Trump came out with this proposal for a new tax plan yesterday. Just like a real presidential candidate would do! It’s kind of adorable.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Under Trump you won’t have to pay any income taxes if you make less than $25,000 a year, if you and your spouse make under $50,000 a year, and if you capture an illegal Mexican you won’t pay any taxes at all.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Pope Francis wrapped up his trip to the U.S., and while he was in Philadelphia, the Pope visited a prison. He said he couldn’t believe how dirty and overcrowded it was, then his assistant said, ‘This is just the Amtrak station, we haven’t gotten to the prison yet.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Jeb Bush said last week that Democrats often win the black vote because they tell people ‘we’ll take care of you with free stuff.’ Whereas Democrats actually win the black vote because Republicans keep saying stuff like that.” –Seth Meyers

“Yesterday as Pope Francis rode down Fifth Avenue, Donald Trump actually stepped out of Trump Tower with his son, Donald Jr., and got booed by the crowd. Then Trump was like, ‘I guess they really don’t like you Donald, Jr.!’” –Jimmy Fallon

“House Speaker John Boehner announced that he is resigning from Congress. When he heard Congress lost Boehner, John McCain said, ‘Oh I got a little blue pill for that.’ ‘No, BOEHNER. We lost House Speaker Boehner!’ It’s pronounced Bay-ner.” –Jimmy Fallon

“And in a speech yesterday, Pope Francis urged American bishops to ‘flee the temptation of narcissism.’ Then bishops were like, ‘Oooh! He’s talking about us!’ –Jimmy Fallon


A testimonial... - promoted by david

at Manchester Community College in New Hampshire.

She held a Town Meeting and took questions  on a wide range of domestic and foreign policy issues.

The breadth and depth of her experience, knowledge and leadership was apparent to all as she received many standing ovations.

The most moving testimony came when she addressed gun violence and introduced the mother of Dylan, a young boy killed at the Newtown elementary school in Connecticut.  Dylan’s mom stayed composed in calling on us all to fight the NRA and help pass gun safety laws.  It was Hillary that got choked up and lost it.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the room by the time she finished speaking.

On her way out I had a chance to speak with her on the rope line.  I showed her a photo of my daughter, Heather, an honors graduate of her alma mater, Wellesley College.  She held my hand, looked me in the eye, and commented how beautiful she was.  I thanked her for championing education reform including the re-financing of college debt.  She was so warm and gracious.

I was smitten and I resolved then and there to re-double my efforts to elect this extraordinary leader our next President.

Fred Rich LaRiccia

Wonk Post: Democratic Presidential Support by Demographic

Interesting how strong Clinton's support is relative to Sanders among people who earn less than $40,000. - promoted by Bob_Neer

From Pew:

MOE: 5.3% for Democratic RV sample; 5.7% for Democratic probable primary sample.

Make 'Em Do It: Millionaires Tax

This is a good idea, and also politically a smart way to undo our mythical flat tax requirement. Sign the petition, if you can. - promoted by david

If Massachusetts is serious about helping working families and building a stronger economy, we must invest in quality public schools, affordable higher education, and a transportation system that works.

Unions are at it again.

No, not the thugs of Teamsters Local 25, though they’re at it too in their own way.

I mean the rest of us. The progressive ones. The unions that believe in the tradition that gave Americans the 40 hour work week. The unions that fought for increases in the minimum wage. We’re fighting against income inequality, and we’re fighting for the revenue for our families, our fellow citizens, and ourselves. And we’re doing the way we’ve always done it, as part of coalition of like-minded groups. Raise Up Massachusetts is the name of the coalition, and we’re a fighting back against the redistribution of wealth to the wealthy. We’re the folks who brought you the paid sick leave ballot initiative.

The many good people serving in our state legislature are not enough. We need to follow Franklin Roosevelt’s famous, if apocryphal, dictum: “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.” I don’t know if Bob DeLeo wants to do it, but we’re going to hold his feet to the fire with the Millionaire’s Tax ballot question.

The ballot measure has been certified, and we’re actively collecting the 65,000 signatures needed to place the question on the 2016 2018 [-ed.] ballot. When implemented, the tax will raise more than a billion dollars that would be dedicated to quality public education, including public colleges and universities, and the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges, and public transportation. The tax is simple:  annual taxable income $1,000,000 would be taxed at additional rate of 4%.

(For the record, I’m not a leader in the Raise Up coalition. I’m just a politically-active MTA member (who is gathering signatures for the petition), the chairman of a select board, and an active BMG member. I was inspired to write this post based on the frustrations of my BMG friend Somerville Tom).

It’s not me, it’s the guns.

Great post, John. It may well be, as another writer suggests, that a history of violent behavior is a far better predictor than a history of mental illness. - promoted by david

You’d never suspect it by looking at me or even following me around in my daily routine, but I had to deal with asthma many times in my life.  I take medication for it.  I’ve been to the hospital several times because of it. And yet, if you were looking for a team mate on your triathlon team, you might pick me.  In fact, a few years ago, out of hundreds of teams, my team took third place and I was competing in a younger age group.  (I was in my 40’s but my team mates were in their 30’s so we competed in the 30-39 group)  Even so, my time on the bike was better than most other guys in their 30’s.  In 1996, when I was 42 and recovering from knee surgery, I won fastest time overall in the ten mile time trial.  That was against guys in their late 20’s and 30’s.  According to my health file, I am listed as “Asthmatic”.  If you were ever looking for an asthmatic, you’d look for some stereotyped image and look right past me.

You’d never suspect it by looking at me or even following me around in my daily routine, but I had to deal with depression a few times over the years.  I took medication for it.  I’ve was hospitalized once because of it. But even in the hospital, few knew I was dealing with deep depression.  In fact, one day a doctor held the door open for me to leave the hospital.  He thought I was a visitor.  I pointed to my sneakers without laces and pants with no belt and said “No doc, I’m an in-y, not an out-y”  I was in sales for most of my working career and did rather well at that. I always had a smile and a funny story.   I’ve done stand-up comedy.  According to my medical file, I had a history of mental illness. If you were ever looking for someone who was ever afflicted with any mental illness, you’d look for some stereotyped image and look right past me.

In the minds of some, and according to the NRA, the reason we are plagued with so many mass shootings in the USA is because of people affected by mental illness, not guns.   The NRA will tell you if we can only keep guns away from people like me, people who have or have dealt with mental illness, the mass shootings will stop.

I used to be quiet about my bouts with mental illness.  The stigma attached to it is powerful and this recent propaganda pushed by the NRA and even some well-meaning Democrats is just adding to that stigma. I was ashamed about my history of mental illness because of this stigma.  Then I began to change.  I would tell one person, then another, all in confidence.  Every time I did, that person would either tell me that they, or a close or relative had a similar experience.   Soon I began to realize that mental illness is much more prevalent than we might think.  A whole lot of people deal with it, some chronically, some for just a time, and they are not locked up in institutions. They walk among us and they are not the dangerous threat that the NRA would want you to believe.  It’s not us, it’s the guns.

Comment of the day: Make the energy pie higher

stomv proposes a grand energy bargain for MA:

I could imagine a great compromise.

Governor Baker, you want your large hydro? You got it. We’ll build the transmission and bring in 2 GW straight to Boston (where the price impact will be greatest).

In return, we also want to ratchet up our RPS requirements, take another shot at 83/83A long term off-shore wind contracting, will continue to ratchet up energy efficiency programs, want to ratchet up the stretch code and the “base” building code, and want to change the formula for gas leak prioritization so that National Grid et al have to fix far more leaks a year.

But Baker only gets one thing, you say? The idea is to balance the energy imported from Canadian hydro with an equal amount of incremental RE [renewable energy], EE [energy efficiency], and gas-leak-savings.

This great compromise would do wonders for reducing emissions (GHG and SOx, NOx, Hg, etc), would be an economic benefit to MA, would suppress wholesale electric prices, and would obviate any need for an additional gas pipeline in New England.

Sounds good to me. More pie for everyone. 

Pope's meeting was not an endorsement of Davis's views

The "clarification" from the Vatican is certainly welcome. I'll stick to my baseball analogy though: if you want to play in the big leagues, you have to be able to hit a big league fastball. If Francis was poorly served by his staff in this case - and perhaps he was - then changes need to be made. - promoted by david

The NY Times is reporting this morning on a statement from the Vatican : ” The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.”

Enough said.  Now let’s move on.

Fred Rich LaRiccia

Baker: Not leading on energy

I went down the crossroads, got down on my knees … Do check out this rundown of the Tuesday’s State House energy hearing.

Baker says state is at energy crossroads – CommonWealth Magazine.

It’s sad that after eight years of pretty spectacular clean energy leadership by Governor Patrick, we seem to be entering a stage of pull-back under this Governor. Saddest of all is Baker seeming to counsel increasing reliance on gas, which is not clean; a powerful greenhouse gas; which leaks prodigiously; and which for its transport, we’ll have to pay for through rate increases. While Baker claims to be focused on price, it’s still a commodity: there is very little that even statewide policy can do to affect price of gas that can go pretty much anywhere in the world.

Under these circumstances, more natural gas capacity ought to be an absolute non-starter. It should be resisted at every level, at every step, by NIMBY (literally) and in the State House. Gas is the bridge to nowhere. No more.

Slightly more mixed is his planned reliance on Canadian hydro power to comply with the state’s renewable energy mandates. Governor Patrick had reluctantly acceded to this plan, in spite of the fact that Canadian hydro requires the flooding of forest land that may in fact have a large carbon footprint. Baker is getting pushback, especially from South Coast legislators like Haddad and Pacheco who still see the economic potential of homegrown offshore wind. And with regards to price, the Baker administration seems much more optimistic about getting a good deal for hydro as opposed to offshore wind. Why?

Baker also claims to support solar, but wants to dial back the feed-in tariffs for government and large-scale arrays. Some support. Without other offsetting incentives — perhaps in permitting, or encouraging regulation for new construction — this obviously will put a crimp in solar’s growth.

Why is the Baker administration willing to go to great lengths to lower the price for gas — but lukewarm to encouraging home-grown energy sources we have, thereby insulating ourselves (ahem) as far as possible from commodity fossil fuel sources that exacerbate global warming?

It’s not just a numbers game. It’s a values game, with a significant aspect of local economic growth. California is leading. Why not us?

Zero Emissions Economy to Reversing Global Warming

Thanks so much for uh, giving us the dirt, gmoke. "Soil scientist Rattan Lal believes that increasing soil carbon on agricultural lands globally could reverse climate change within a decade or two." WAT - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Meteor Blades recently ( wrote about The Climate Mobilization ( which is asking people to sign a pledge to

Reduce our country’s net greenhouse gas emissions 100 percent by 2025 and implement far-reaching measures to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere…

Establish the following imperatives as our nation’s top foreign policy priorities: A 100 percent reduction of global net greenhouse gas emissions at wartime speed, and the deployment of comprehensive measures that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere until a safe climate is restored.

Zero emissions of greenhouse gases is a necessary mental step to take and it is good to see that people are beginning to organize around it. I’ve been writing about a zero emissions economy for at least 20 years and that means EVERYTHING not just greenhouse gases. Zero emissions as an approachable goal as zero defects on a production line in Total Quality Management is an approachable goal. Zero emissions for all materials and resources within an ecological design framework like Bill McDonough’s simple ecological design principles:
waste equals food
use only available solar income
respect diversity
love all the children

We should be doing this as at least a thought experiment now and, I believe, that thought experiment would have enormous benefits as we transition to a new ecological economy where the throw away society begins to realize there is no such place as away.

Recently, I had the opportunity to raise these ideas with the Dr Lynn Orr, DOE Undersecretary for Science and Technology, at MIT as both a public question and in private conversation. Perhaps I planted a seed.

I’m also glad to see that The Climate Mobilization is taking on another part of the climate question which is not often addressed. Zero emissions of greenhouse gases is good but it addresses only the source side of the issue. There are sinks as well. As systems dynamics teaches, a working system contains both sources and sinks. John Wick is a CA rancher who has measured for the last 5 years a ton of carbon per hectare per year sequestered on his grazing land and computer models estimate that he can do this for 30-100 years. See He says there are 35 soil carbon sequestration methods now recognized by USDA. Soil scientist Rattan Lal believes that increasing soil carbon on agricultural lands globally could reverse climate change within a decade or two.

I also mentioned this to Undersecretary Orr.

On October 16-18, 2015 there will be a conference at Tufts University on Restoring Water Cycles to Reverse Global Warming ( Last year, the same group held a conference on soil carbon cycles ( You can watch the proceedings on their webpages. You can also participate in Soil Saturday on October 10 ( to help raise awareness about these issues and practical solutions to reverse climate change now while improving the soil and rebuilding our agricultural systems.

Zero emissions of greenhouse gases is a radical idea in the present context. A zero emissions economy and reversing climate change through natural soil and water carbon cycles are even more radical and far-reaching. They are also very much within our grasp if we want to reach for them.

Data Viz: Charles Yancey facing tough road to re-election

Out with the old ... - promoted by Bob_Neer

From CommonWealth Magazine:

City Councilor Charles Yancey has represented Boston’s District 4 since the district was created in 1983. In every election since then — both preliminaries and finals — Yancey has taken the top spot at the polls. But all that changed in the September 8 preliminary election, when newcomer Andrea Campbell trounced Yancey, 58 percent to 34 percent. Campbell ran strong across the entire district, which includes large pieces of Dorchester and Mattapan, with slivers of Jamaica Plain and Roslindale. But the size of her victory came from running up huge margins in the highest turnout precincts — precincts that also tended to have the largest white populations in the predominantly minority district (emph. mine).

An interactive version of the piece, with clickable maps and charts, is available here (not great on mobile).


David writes: "It is unfortunate that he apparently [Ed.] met with Kim Davis while he was in the US. That was a mistake." - promoted by Bob_Neer

to be citizens of America and the world.

As the grandson of Italian immigrants I was deeply moved when the Holy Father introduced himself to President Obama at the White House as the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina — the first Latin American Pope.

Then he joined the President by calling on all of us to be the “land of the free and home of the brave”  by practicing the Golden Rule and treat others as we want to be treated.


Fred Rich LaRiccia