Welcome to the (pumpkin) pie in the sky

Yeah, with a few helpful tips, you could even have a nice discussion with the relatives with whom you don’t see eye-to-eye on climate … because who is against clean energy that’s cheaper?

Renewable energy starts to win on price – Business – The Boston Globe.

The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.

… According to a study done by the investment banking firm Lazard, the cost of utility-scale solar energy is as low as 5.6 cents a kilowatt-hour, and wind is as low as 1.4 cents. Natural gas comes at 6.1 cents a kilowatt-hour on the low end and coal at 6.6 cents. Without subsidies, the firm’s analysis shows, solar costs about 7.2 cents a kilowatt-hour at the low end, with wind at 3.7 cents.

How cool is that? The cost of clean energy is rolling down the hill, due to a virtuous cycle of innovation, investment, deployment, and competition. Remember that as you pay your natural gas bill this winter: Wouldn’t it be nice to get off of the commodity-price rollercoaster and add more and more zero-marginal cost (or close to it) energy?

Is clean energy viable long term? The real question is whether anything else will be. Watch Skip Pruss, a former advisor to Michigan’s Governor Granholm. The “credible” projections for growth of renewables has been grievously wrong — way too pessimistic:

Why Partners Healthcare’s Market Power (and Proposed Expansion) is bad for MA

Wonky. But the charts (below the fold) tell the tale. Partners costs a hell of a lot more, and its expansion will drag up prices. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

It is time for Massachusetts to lead the nation, once again, on healthcare.  An “historic” opportunity to address provider pricing power, in a period of market consolidation, should not be overlooked.  The governor-elect and attorney general-elect should take this opportunity to renegotiate the Partners Healthcare deal—and defend the interests of Massachusetts consumers.

The Boston Globe has called the regulatory scrutiny of Partners Healthcare “historic, for the unprecedented level of scrutiny it’s bringing to a proposed merger of hospitals and the focus on long-term cost control.”  With all of the ink that has been dedicated to coverage of the proposed Partners Healthcare expansion, and its “potential” to increase healthcare costs in Massachusetts, it is helpful to consult the publicly available data to elucidate the issue and illustrate its importance.

No justice. Peace be to all.

Right now protestors in Boston and around the country are demonstrating solidarity with the family of Mike Brown and the community of Ferguson MO. Though they are far away from the site of the original outrage, these protests are right now setting the standards for the relationship that we expect with the police and law enforcement in our own community.

Protestors are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves, and everyone has their chance to hold forth. But to sum up how I see it:

  • We expect that the police shall protect and serveeveryone. We expect a neighborly attitude from the cops as a default. They are there to protect and serve Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, and the 12-year-old kid from Cleveland as much as anyone else.

    We will not accept an adversarial relationship between police and community, poisoned by toxic racism. In Boston we recently had the 25th anniversary of the Charles Stuart murder. We’ve seen this movie before: Racist hysteria and violence — police rioting, really — inflicted by police force on entire African-American communities. Oh do tell us about “lawlessness.”

  • Blacks and whites are marching together. Many, many white people are outraged at the injustice. This must not be a cross that our African-American neighbors must bear by themselves. The issue is not invisible to us. It is not “someone else’s problem.” May we guard against the privilege of getting away from it, that we may forget, that compassion shrinks, that outrage recedes.
  • Structural racism as not only cruel and unjust to its victims, but as a hideous waste of human potential. Protestors in Boston stopped outside the South Bay Correctional Center, where inmates pressed against the windows to see them. A bloated criminal justice system that imprisons blacks at a shockingly higher rate than whites; discrimination in hiring, wages, and promotion; neglect of public institutions that serve communities of color — those losses go well beyond the immediate communities. They keep everyone down. Again, these are not “someone else’s problem.”

It’s just shocking and sad that any of this actually needs to be said. But if we take something away from Ferguson, let’s just start to imagine what its opposite would be like.


Boston 2024: the too-good-to-be-true Olympics

Bumped, for glory. See also the excellent analysis of the folks assembling the Boston bid in the next post. - promoted by david

It just sounds magical, doesn’t it?  The perfect Olympic games.  Not a dime of public money expended, except on stuff we are planning to do anyway like upgrading the MBTA.  No white elephant stadiums – every event will take place either in facilities we already have, or in ingeniously designed temporary structures that can quickly and cheaply be converted into something with long-term utility.  All those billions of dollars to host the games?  It’ll come from corporations eager to plaster the Olympic rings all over their brands.  Cost overruns?  Don’t you worry – the benevolent overlords of Boston 2024 will indemnify the city against any possible losses.  No tax dollars will be put at risk.

Who could say no to that?

Maybe the International Olympic Committee (IOC), for starters.  Economists who know a lot about the Olympics like Andrew Zimbalist say that this way of mounting an Olympics, modeled on the successful LA games in 1984, won’t fly today.

“You can’t do the LA model in 2024, you just can’t,” said Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College professor who researches sports economics. “It’s pie in the sky.” … Zimbalist says Los Angeles was a unique case; the city was the only viable bidder for the 1984 Games, following three successive Olympics that were rocked by violence or burdened by debt.

Despite the IOC’s new lip service to reform, Zimbalist said, he predicts a low-budget Olympics would have no chance against pricier, government-backed bids.

“The IOC has always been about, ‘You’re going to honor us with glitz, you’re going to honor us with glorious facilities,’ ” Zimbalist said.

Rather than pick apart aspects of the slowly-emerging details of this proposal – about which I don’t know more than what’s in the paper and on which I’m not an expert anyway – let me just say this to Boston 2024: call the IOC’s bluff.  They say they want reform?  They say they don’t want only totalitarian regimes to be able to host the games?  They say they’re no longer into ridiculously lavish perks and over-the-top government spending?

Then give them an offer that makes them prove it, and prove the skeptics like Zimbalist wrong.  Remember, as I wrote a few weeks back, “the IOC is filled with awful people.”  You cannot and should not trust them to live up to anything they are saying publicly.  If you do, the people of Boston and of Massachusetts will inevitably be left holding the bag.  Rather, you must hold firm against the IOC’s demands, which inevitably will push back against all the great stuff you’re saying now.  If that means we don’t get to host the Olympics, so be it.  We’ll be fine.

Most things that sound too good to be true actually aren’t, as we all know.  Right now, that’s the category into which I’d put the publicly-disclosed details of the Boston 2024 proposal.  So let’s see the fine print, and let’s be sure it lives up to the hype.  And above all, for the love of God, let’s not make Boston into the latest round of fools who get suckered by the false promise of Olympic gold.

Who Has a Seat at the Table in the Negotiations for Boston's Olympic Bid, and Who Doesn't?

An brutally "transparent" analysis. The most politically explosive points -- and they could be explosive indeed if Boston wins and the project subsequently runs into major problems -- are in the final paragraphs. - promoted by Bob_Neer

As the deadline for the submission of Boston’s Olympic bid gets closer, there has been more media attention to the secrecy of the process by which the bid has been negotiated. Notably, there has been an absence of City Council hearings or community forums. The negotiations have been entirely closed to the public.

This is rather ironic given that the Boston 2024 website states as one of its principles “We will do our due diligence in an open, honest, and transparent manner.”

One thing that is public about the Olympic bid is the names of those on the Executive Bid Committee. Let’s take a look.

First up are the College and University Engagement Committee Co-Chairs:

  • Robert Caret, President of University of Massachusetts
  • Katie Lapp, Executive Vice President of Harvard University
  • Gloria Larson, President of Bentley University
  • Israel Ruiz, Executive Vice President of MIT

Harvard is in Cambridge, not Boston. Bentley is in Waltham, not Boston. MIT is in Cambridge, not Boston. Only U Mass has a presence in Boston. Cambridge, especially, and Waltham, probably, would likely be affected by hosting the Olympics–and not just because of the price tag. But they are, nevertheless, not Boston, the city burdened with hosting responsibilities.

Then we have the Government and Community Outreach Committee Co-Chairs:

  • Former U.S. Senator William “Mo” Cowan, Senior Vice President and COO at ML Strategies
  • William F. Coyne, Esq.
  • Massachusetts Senator Eileen Donoghue

“Government and community outreach” basically means lobbying. ML Strategies is a lobbying firm owned by Mintz Levin.William Coyne is an estate planner and business litigator who has also done lobbying work for Raytheon, Altria (the parent company of Philip Morris), and the American Chemistry Council, among others. And Senator Eileen Donoghue is from Lowell, not Boston. In Progressive Massachusetts’s legislative scorecard, she voted against the progressive position 2/3 of the time. She is also the only elected official of the three, i.e., the only one with any degree of democratic accountability.

Then we have the Innovation and Technology Committee Co-chairs:

  • Jay Hooley, CEO of State Street Corporation
  • Juliette Kayyem, Professor at Harvard Kennedy School and CEO of JNK Solutions Group
  • Jeff Leiden, CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals
  • Bill Teuber, Vice Chairman of EMC

Why is there an “Innovation and Technology” committee? Beats me. State Street Corporation is a financial services holding company. It’s not really doing any innovation or technological advancement (unless as an investor). Kayyem’s background is in “homeland security,” not “innovation, and JNK Solutions Group does not seem to exist anywhere on the Internet besides the Boston 2024 page. What a pharmaceutical company has to do with the Olympics–other than perhaps in the realm of sports medicine–is beyond me. EMC is a data storage company.

We then have the Public Relations and Marketing Committee Co-chairs:

  • Karen Kaplan, Chairman and CEO of Hill Holliday
  • Doug Rubin, Founding Partner of Northwind Strategies

Hill Holliday is an advertising firm,and Kaplan has done work for Bank of America, Cadillac, Capella University, Celgene, Chili’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Johnson & Johnson, John Hancock, LG Home Appliances USA, Liberty Mutual, Major League Baseball, Merrell, Merrill Lynch, Novartis, Olympic Paints and Stains, (RED), Smucker’s, Supercuts, TJX, and Verizon Wireless. Most of us probably already know Northwind from its political work (Deval Patrick, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Kennedy, Martha Coakley), but it also has a corporate wing. It does not list clients online, except for Sam Adams SunGen Mark Andover (which are provided as case studies)–although he has done work for the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, and Uber according to lobbying disclosures.

Next are the Olympics and Paralympic Movement Committee Co-Chairs:

  • Cheri Blauwet, MD, Sports Medicine Physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Spaulding Rehabilitation Network (Paralympic Athlete)
  • Ralph Cox, Founding Member and Principal of Redgate Real Estate Advisors (1980 U.S. Hockey Team)
  • Bob Reynolds, President and CEO of Putnam Investments (Trustee, US Ski and Snowboard Team Foundation)

The purpose of this committee is not clear to me, nor is the expertise of a real estate advisor or the CEO of an investment management firm.

Next are the Fundraising and Finance Committee Co-Chairs:

  • Roger Crandall, President and CEO of Mass Mutual Financial Group
  • Steve Pagliuca, Managing Director at Bain Capital and Co-Owner of the Boston Celtics

I think the purpose of this committee is rather self-explanatory, as is the nature of those chosen to serve on it.

Next are the Master Planning Committee Co-Chairs:

A real estate developer and an architect, as one would expect.

And the Legal Committee Chair is R. Robert Popeo, Chairman of Mintz Levin, a white collar criminal defense attorney.

Among the “principles” on the Boston 2024 site is “We will only bid if we have support from our city, state, and federal government; our business community; and our venue communities.” However, I do not see a single community organization represented.

Another listed “principle” is “We will prioritize diversity in the people we engage, the decisions we make, and the work that we do, including diversity of ethnicity, economic circumstance, age, gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation.” The names in the Executive Committee do not seem to live up to this principles, most flagrantly failing in the realm of diversity “economic circumstance.”

Globe's Vennochi Relaying Rightwing Noise?

Quoting Breitbart.com is just like quoting the Weekly World News as "the world's only reliable news" (which happens to be its slogan) on their decades-long expose of batboy: it's ludicrous, and diminishes an otherwise interesting piece. - promoted by Bob_Neer

BMGers, do you remember how Andrew Breitbart selectively edited video of Shirley Sherrod, and fooled the media and  skittish Democrats into believing she was racist, when her whole life was devoted to helping Americans overcome the history of racism?  You would think people would be extremely careful about repeating stories from Breitbart after that.

Andrew Breitbart, if you don’t know, was a guy who swore he wanted to destroy the “institutional left.” He’s dead now, but his partisan practices of manipulating the media (and therefore government decisions) without a care to context or truth lives on in Breitbart.com.  There is a rightwing noise machine that will constantly publish malarkey, in the hopes that someone with more credibility will pick up the topic because it is “out there.”  Like  Benghazi.

Today’s Globe makes me wonder if Breitbart.com has managed to manipulate the media once again.  Joan Vennochi repeats the old story that rightwingers pushed in 1999, accusations from an Arkansan named Juanita Broaddrick after Ken Starr gave her immunity against perjury.  Unfortunately, Ms. Vennochi did not take into account some context:  Ms. Broaddrick had two friends/employees whose father was murdered in 1971.  In 1980, Gov. Clinton lost an election, and approved over a 100 commutations from the state parole board.  In one of these cases, Clinton commuted this particular murderer’s death penalty to jail time, which was served out until 1993.  The victim’s families were angered, as were other people in that particular county.  This allegation about Clinton got shopped around by the Republican Sheffield Nelson (who Clinton beat in 1990) but the LA Times decided not to print it.  You can read more about this on pages 60-64 of The Hunting of the President by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons.

After living through the 1990′s media and their elevation of so many crazy charges (Whitewater) and then their failure to vet George W. Bush’s readiness to be President, it bothers me to see rightwing noise get repeated without context or critical thought.  The rightwing does this because it is a good strategy for them politically.  They did it to the Clintons, and they do to the Obamas.  If a Democrat gets anywhere near the White House, the noise machine gets fired up, and hopes the mainstream media will follow.

This is Vennochi’s conclusion, in the mainstream Boston Globe:

The right will argue it’s all about ideology. Liberals like Clinton get a break that conservatives do not. According to Breitbart.com, race also factors in. There is more sympathy for a white southerner like Clinton than a black comic like Cosby.

Maybe we expect more from a sitcom fantasy figure like Cosby’s Dr. Huxtable than we do from real-life politicians.

Or maybe, while Bill is off the hook, Hillary isn’t. The next two years will certainly tell us whether his long-ago activities are the shadow campaign issue for his wife.

What is that last bit about?  Is Joan Vennochi, a columnist for a paper with a nationwide reputation, going to start reprinting uncritically every innuendo the rightwing noise machine broadcasts about Hillary?

Because it’s “out there?”



Talk Turkey

Great material. If you have time to link the quotations to their sources John, they would no doubt be even more effective. - promoted by Bob_Neer

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, then Christmas and more holidays after until New Year’s Day, no doubt many of us will be at parties and family functions with one or more or far too many Republicans.  Who knows, maybe some will be so unfortunate as to be seated next to Uncle Tea Party at the dinner table or worse yet, gathered at the punch bowl with two of our libertarian nephews, no doubt enjoying the departure from living in their parent’s basement. One thing about this group is certain, they love to wrap themselves in the flag, honor the founders, quote Constitution era documents and in doing so, present an air of unquestionable authority atop their patriotic high ground.

I’ve collected a few quotes of my own that I like to use at times like these. Few things are more pleasant in a political exchange with ones adversary than hoisting them on their own petard.

They are yours to share and please feel free to add more if you have them.  I will list them without comment, except the last one.

Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions or property in geometrical progression as they rise.    Thomas Jefferson

Whenever there are in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on. If for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be provided to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not, the fundamental right to labor the earth returns to the unemployedThomas Jefferson

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent    such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice.   But though the law cannot hinder people of the same  trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render then necessary.   Adam Smith

A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at least be sufficient to maintain him. They must even upon occasions be somewhat more; otherwise it would be impossible for him to bring up a family, and the race of such workmen could not last beyond the first generaion. Adam Smith

Where wages are high, accordingly, we shall always find the workmen more active, diligent, and expeditious, than where they are lowAdam Smith

Whenever the legislative attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in the favor of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it sometime is otherwise when in favor of the masters.  Adam Smith

“All Property except … (that) absolutely necessary for Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents (inheritance) and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and Uses of it.”  Benjamin Franklin

All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man’s own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole cameThomas Paine

Joke Revue: "G.O.P. Unveils Immigration Plan: 'We Must Make America Somewhere No One Wants to Live'"


G.O.P. Unveils Immigration Plan: “We Must Make America Somewhere No One Wants to Live”

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled his party’s long-awaited plan on immigration on Wednesday, telling reporters, “We must make America somewhere no one wants to live.”

Appearing with House Speaker John Boehner, McConnell said that, in contrast to President Obama’s “Band-Aid fixes,” the Republican plan would address “the root cause of immigration, which is that the United States is, for the most part, habitable.”

“For years, immigrants have looked to America as a place where their standard of living was bound to improve,” McConnell said. “We’re going to change that.”

Boehner said that the Republicans’ plan would reduce or eliminate “immigration magnets,” such as the social safety net, public education, clean air, and drinkable water. …

In closing, the two congressional leaders expressed pride in the immigration plan, noting that Republicans had been working to make it possible for the past thirty years.

Republicans Accuse Obama of Treating Immigrants Like Humans

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In a sharp Republican rebuke to President Obama’s proposed actions on immigration, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused the President, on Thursday night, of “flagrantly treating immigrants like human beings, in clear defiance of the wishes of Congress.”

McConnell was brutal in his assessment of the President’s speech on immigration, blasting him for “eliminating the fear of deportation, which is the great engine of the American economy.”

“Fear is what keeps immigrants working so hard and so fast and so cheap,” McConnell said. “Remove the fear of deportation, and what will immigrants become? Lazy Americans.” …

Daniel Kurtzman:

“Analysts say Obama’s new immigration plan will focus on deporting violent criminals. So, this could impact your fantasy football team.” –Conan O’Brien

“Today is the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. President Lincoln wrote it on his way to the site of the speech on the back of an envelope. One guy on the back of an envelope wrote the great Gettysburg Address — while every night it takes six guys to write this crap!” –David Letterman

“Germany has overtaken the United States as the world’s favorite country. Germany is the most popular country in the world. That is one hell of a comeback.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Pope Francis announced that next year he is coming to the United States, or as Fox News is reporting it, ‘Obama lets in yet another guy from South America.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Scientists say the European space probe that landed on the comet has detected organic matter. This means there could be either life in space or a Whole Foods. We just don’t know.” –Conan O’Brien

“This week a group of activists, known as Anonymous, hacked the Twitter account of the KKK. The KKK is furious. They said Anonymous is just a bunch of cowards who don’t have the courage to show their faces.” –Conan O’Brien

“Yesterday the DEA raided several NFL teams suspected of giving prescription painkillers to their players. In its defense, the New York Jets’ doctor said, ‘We don’t give painkillers to our players. We give them to our fans.’” –Conan O’Brien

“The Pope is coming to New York City. He said he would like to hold audiences with the downtrodden. He’s talking about the Jets and the Giants.” –David Letterman

“The Pope also said that while he’s in town he would like to go see ‘The Book of Mormon.’” –David Letterman

“This week Bill Clinton tweeted a photo of himself reading George W. Bush’s new book ’41.’ Then George W. Bush responded to that post on Instagram. Then John McCain said ‘You two are hilarious’ by telegraph.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Yesterday the Supreme Court lifted the ban on same-sex marriage in Kansas. They didn’t give a reason for the ruling, but then again when a state is famous for a Judy Garland musical about a rainbow and a wizard who comes out of a closet, do you really need an excuse?” –Jimmy Fallon

University of Virginia: "The Rape School"?

Update: Lending credence to charges of a systemic problem — although "rape and murder laboratory aimed at young women" seems extreme — UVA chose a former member of the fraternity accused of gang rape as its "independent counsel" to investigate this matter last night. The Virginia Attorney General announced today that a different counsel will in fact be chosen. Amazing, and a further reminder — if any was needed after Penn State — that universities require oversight. - promoted by Bob_Neer

A devastating article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely published yesterday in Rolling Stone described a brutal alleged gang rape of a first-year college student and asserted that UVA routinely downplays sexual assaults because “nobody wants to send their daughter to the rape school.”

Jackie was just starting her freshman year at the University of Virginia when she was brutally assaulted by seven men at a frat party. When she tried to hold them accountable, a whole new kind of abuse began.

Rather than immediately contact the police when she learned of the allegation, this is how Dean Nicole Eramo, head of UVA’s Sexual Misconduct Board, responded:

When Jackie finished talking, Eramo comforted her, then calmly laid out her options. If Jackie wished, she could file a criminal complaint with police. Or, if Jackie preferred to keep the matter within the university, she had two choices. She could file a complaint with the school’s Sexual Misconduct Board, to be decided in a “formal resolution” with a jury of students and faculty, and a dean as judge. Or Jackie could choose an “informal resolution,” in which Jackie could simply face her attackers in Eramo’s presence and tell them how she felt; Eramo could then issue a directive to the men, such as suggesting counseling. Eramo presented each option to Jackie neutrally, giving each equal weight. She assured Jackie there was no pressure – whatever happened next was entirely her choice.

Rape is a felony, and one of the most serious violent crimes that can be committed. Colleges should immediately report all such incidents to law enforcement authorities. Let the courts sort out innocence and guilt. If schools want to pursue additional actions on their own, that is a separate discussion.

Lo and behold, that is exactly what UVA — or UVrApe, as it is apparently now known by some — decided to do today, a day after the article was published. Rolling Stone reports that the president of the university in a statement today “asked Charlottesville police to formally investigate the sexual assault on Jackie and [said] that the university would cooperate with the authorities.”

There are a lot of colleges and universities here in Massachusetts. They may be ivory towers, but they are not worlds unto themselves where the writ of criminal law does not travel. Felony crimes must be reported to law enforcement authorities for prosecution and not downplayed or swept under the PR rug.

Budget cuts on the horizon - anyone paying attention?

Everyone keep your eye on this one. - promoted by david

I’m a little surprised that there hasn’t been any mention of the state’s current budget woes here on BMG. A deficit estimated between $325m (the governor) and $600m (Mass Taxpayers Foundation) seems to be forming. Maybe we should spend a little time discussing this, since this is the kind of lunchbox economic issue that general election voters tend to dwell on? How did we get here? What is the way out?

Jim Webb Announces Exploratory Committee for 2016 Run

Well, here goes... - promoted by david

From his Facebook page, Jim Webb just announced he is forming an exploratory committee for the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2016. His new website is up and running, webb2016.com

I quoted some highlights below

The official announcement:

I have decided to launch an Exploratory Committee to examine whether I should run for President in 2016. I made this decision after reflecting on numerous political commentaries and listening to many knowledgeable people. I look forward to listening and talking with more people in the coming months as I decide whether or not to run

Themes similar to a certain female Senator from Massachusetts:

The Democratic Party used to be the place where people like these could come not for a handout but for an honest handshake, good full-time jobs, quality education, health care they can afford, and the vital, overriding belief that we’re all in this together and the system is not rigged.

We can get there again….

Everybody deserves that opportunity. In too many places it has been lost as our economy has changed its structural shape and whole communities have stagnated. But we can get it back again, for all of our people. And we must, for the greater good.

Themes drastically dissimilar to a certain female Senator and former Secretary of State from New York:

. We need to put our American house in order, to provide educational and working opportunities that meet the needs of the future, to rebuild our infrastructure and to reinforce our position as the economic engine and the greatest democracy on earth. We need to redefine and strengthen our national security obligations, while at the same time reducing ill-considered foreign ventures that have drained trillions from our economy and in some cases brought instability instead of deterrence.

We will see if Bernie, Brian, Martin, and maybe that certain female Senator from Massachusetts join Jim on the campaign trail. But the first shot of 2016 has just been fired across the bow of the SS Inevitability. Whether it does any damage remains an open question.

MA voters support regulating marijuana like alcohol — or maybe tomatoes

Marijuana should be legal, taxed and regulated. - promoted by Bob_Neer

One of the least publicized results of this month’s election was 14 state representative districts voting to support the legalization of marijuana. Two organizations, the Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts and Bay State Repeal, worked to put these non-binding public policy questions on the ballot. Here’s a quick rundown on the two questions and their results.

DPFMA’s question, placed on the ballot in eight districts, focused on regulating marijuana like alcohol, specifically asking, “Shall the State Representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would allow the state to regulate and tax marijuana in the same manner as alcohol?” The results:

  • 4th Barnstable 73%
  • 4th Berkshire 74%
  • 1st Essex 72%
  • 2nd Franklin 69%
  • 14th Middlesex 72%
  • 15th Middlesex 72%
  • 24th Middlesex 74%
  • 8th Norfolk 73%

This language is reminiscent of the successful campaigns to legalize in Colorado and Alaska, both of which focused on the message that marijuana is safer than alcohol. Seeing support average about 72% approval among these districts bodes very well for the campaign to legalize marijuana in Massachusetts in 2016, which will likely be led by the Marijuana Policy Project and use similar messaging to their other campaigns.

Bay State Repeal’s question was very different, polling public opinion on “replac[ing] the state’s restrictions on marijuana with a law that regulates the cultivation of and commerce in marijuana, by persons over the age of 21, in the same manner as laws that apply to the cultivation and sale of fruits, vegetables and herbs.” The results:

  • 4th Essex 54%
  • 7th Essex 61%
  • 8th Essex 57%
  • 3rd Middlesex 60%
  • 6th Middlesex 62%
  • 2nd Hampshire 64%

It’s incredible to see majority support for legalizing marijuana like tomatoes rather than alcohol. Of course, this would be a much less regulated system, and if adopted, Massachusetts would be the first state to pursue this model. In many ways it makes sense, since marijuana does not carry many of the risks alcohol does (overdose, domestic violence, or significantly impairing driving, to name a few), but it’s unclear whether there would be majority support at the state level for such a far-reaching reform.

Marijuana legalization wasn’t a big issue in MA this election cycle, mostly because both Baker and Coakley were opposed to reform. However, Evan Falchuk was supportive of legalization, and while many factors contributed to him getting over 3%, I’m sure many voters (myself included) cast a ballot for him at least partly for his support of smart drug policy reform. From these election results and national trends, it appears the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts is virtually inevitable — Democrats should get on board, or run the risk of losing the support of young people and other groups who favor reform.