Neo-birtherism and Sour Grapes

This is a losing issue, as Brown has himself convincingly demonstrated. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Our friend Scott Brown, who may be the only person is one of the only people (Thanks to jimc for pointing out that Endicott Peabody also lost in both MA and NH, albeit 20 years apart in his case.) in history to lose races for the US Senate in two states, is calling on Elizabeth Warren to take a DNA test to prove her Native heritage.  He’s even reprising his “As you can see, she’s not.” line.  Truth is, has run commercials featuring people who were surprised by their results, but it obviously has no bearing on qualifications or stances on issues.  I find it hilarious that he seems to care about the “real” Native Americans that Warren supposedly pushed aside, never mind that Harvard has confirmed she never received any benefit from checking that infamous box.  If I were Warren I’d be tempted to say sure, I’ll take a DNA test just as soon as you and your candidate take IQ tests!:)

A right without access is not a right

The costs are too damn high. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Yes, that was the decision today, one that all Democrats including the presumptive nominee for president cheered.  A right without access is not a right.  You know where I am going, eh?   If, according to our presidential nominee, affordable health care is a right, then access to wealth that makes health care affordable must be part of the equation, no?  The average premium for single coverage in 2015 is $521 per month, or $6,251 per year.   This is the cost of the policy, not including co-pays and all the rest, but let’s just round it out to $8,000 which is still far less then the $10,000 per person we expect to pay per person this year for actual health care.


So what is “affordable”? Can anyone tell me?  Can the Democrats who support the private ownership of health care insurance please weigh in on this?  Can we say that $15 an hour is too high a wage when we know that health care will cost the individual between $6,000-10,000?  Looks to me like the courts have may have done us a favor on this. The “Affordable Care Act” like so many things in Washington (Right to Work for example), is anything but what it sounds like, eh?


Single Payer NOW…or at least, let’s start the path to it with a public option for ALL.


Thank you.


Down-spinning the platform battle

The DNC platform negotiations are gathering rather more attention than usual. And how they’re going, and who’s exercising influence … well, depends on whom you ask.

Here’s the AP:

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A draft of the Democratic Party’s policy positions reflects the influence of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign: endorsing steps to break up large Wall Street banks, advocating a $15 hourly wage, urging an end to the death penalty.

Impressive! By any previous standards this is pretty darned progressive. Yet here’s the take that’s typical of the Sanders supporters on my various feeds:

During a 9-hour meeting in St. Louis, Missouri on Friday, members of the DNC’s platform drafting committee voted down a number of measures proposed by Bernie Sanders surrogates that would have come out against the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), fracking, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. At the same time, proposals to support a carbon tax, Single Payer healthcare, and a $15 minimum wage tied to inflation were also disregarded.

via Betraying Progressives, DNC Platform Backs Fracking, TPP, and Israel Occupation | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

Two thoughts on this:

First, it’s right for the Hillary delegates to take their lumps from the Sanders progressives on the substance. I obviously support a carbon tax, and we need to run screaming away from fossil fuels ASAP. Fracking should end. Palestinian dignity ought to be supported — we’re overdue for a new narrative and public language on Israel/Palestine and Hillary’s not giving us that.  Single payer would be great.

That being said, there’s a tendency to measure the strength of one’s commitment to goals (stop global warming; health care for everyone) with a particular set of means (carbon tax; single payer). And simply put, those two policy tools are really, really hard to get passed and stay passed. In some really fine posts, (here’s the other one) David Roberts at Vox has taken on the political problems of the carbon tax*. In Australia they passed it (yay!) … and then repealed it (boo!). With single-payer, the Vermont legislature agreed to it in theory … and then couldn’t fund it. Oh well.

Political sustainability is a big part of economic and environmental sustainability. Simply put, the HRC platform people are looking towards the general election, and they see the political cost to Dem candidates as prohibitive. And with the House and Senate potentially in play, one can see the reason for playing it “safe”; whereas flipping both houses of Congress would really be a “political revolution”.

Somewhat dishearteningly for political true believers, you typically make a choice between the strength and “purity” of your ideas, and the breadth of your coalition. But considering the mood of the country — and the demonstrated appeal of Sanders’ agenda — I’m willing to bet a Democratic Congress would be pretty darned progressive. But you gotta win first.

The necessities of stopping climate change and getting health care for everyone haven’t gone away. There’s more to come in the platform negotiations. The Sanders people are doing their job, and bringing energy, vision and passion. I hope they will come to acknowledge their own power, and claim credit for their victories and influence along the way. This will keep people engaged, thereby growing their influence.

Keep pushin’. We can get things done.

*I would be remiss if I didn’t include this hopeful rebuttal from Judy Weiss of the Citizens Climate Lobby, a very fine pro-carbon tax group.

The United Kingdom, 1707-2016. RIP

Dated monarchy commits suicide in public. Older Britons have screwed the rising generation -- one reason Trump, the angry codgers candidate, is applauding so vigorously. - promoted by Bob_Neer

In the history of Europe few things have been as transparently good as the day the Berlin Wall came down: freedom — personal, cultural and economic — was to be had and a bright new world was created… a world in which walls came down.

“Brexit” is the opposite of that… Walls are going back up. Whatever hope one might have had after the fall of the Berlin Wall is now on life-support.

In a campaign that was breathlessly naive (“everything will be fine once we leave, don’t worry about it”, “the British people are tired of hearing from experts”) and egregiously mendacious (“money for NHS”, “Scary immigrants”, “nobody will regulate your pillows!”) the “Leave” campaign, spanning the entire spectrum from passive-agressively racist to nakedly racist, convinced the English people (not the Scots or the Northern Irish, mind you) to walk blindly into a caustic uncertainty, thereby signing the UK’s suicide note with a flourish.

This is likely the end of the United Kingdom. Scotland will exit and will flourish for it. In a decade they will have a larger economy than England. Englands military will suffer, as integrated into Scotland as they are… Irish reaction is yet to be gauged but if I were a betting man, I’d say the tipping point of Northern Ireland wanting full integration with the Republic of Ireland has been reached and breached. And if they don’t, what are they going to do, put armed Irish guards to the south looking across a border at armed Northern Ireland guards??? Are Northern Irishman again going to stand off against other Irishman, and again on behalf of the British? That always ended well in the past, dinnit?

The English people have traded their security, their status and their stature for a blind alleyway that will leave them smaller and more isolated then they have ever been. That they believe a pot of gold is hidden in that blind alleyway doesn’t excuse them from the coming pain, and the worst pain when they realize that there never was no pot of gold. I predict about two decades of shrinking ego before they re-apply for entry in the EU… if the EU is still around.

Although I believe the worst of it will be visited upon the English, the chaos attending disintegration of the UK will not be confined to the British Isles. Over the next few years the European Union will face another wave of exit attempts… Greece almost certainly… and France will try, and maybe even some others, but as the scope of the disaster in England slowly unfolds the taste for exit will, one hopes, gradually turn to ash on the tongue… that is to say, unless and until the resulting chaos enables some demagogue or another to stir up national hatreds. At that point, all bets are off. A de-stabilized EU is a scary thing.

Enter Vladimir Putin and his fever dreams of a Russia re-emergent. We might as well either consign the Ukraine to him right now or mobilize NATO. Help from the EU, and the hope of maybe someday even EU membership, was the thinnest threads of Ukraine’s hope against Russia and was Putins biggest fear. In the resulting chaos of the next decade or so… Goodby to all that. And if the Ukraine falls, well… Poland is going to have to do something about that. Will it militarize? Will it call on NATO? What about all the states that were once part of the former Soviet Bloc? You have no idea. You think the Tsarnaev brothers and their once-remove Chechen nationalism-cum-Islam was dangerous? Childs play. The further along Putin gets the more some Croat or Serb or Slovak vows never to serve a Soviet master again… and prepares for war. These are countries that are now NATO members… and there’s a reason for that. A de-stabilized EU only emboldens Putin.

Will all this come to pass? I don’t really know. I hope not. But I do know that this is an epic, world changing event, on the order of the Berlin Wall coming down, but in the other direction. That it was based on lies and transparent stupidity is the scariest thing of it all…

Myopic Nationalism Is Still Rising

Brexit - oy. - promoted by hesterprynne

In historic vote, Britons decide they hate 70 years of peace and prosperity:

“Yes, we remember recovering from World Wars caused by national pride. We then enjoyed our lives in the EU, but now I would much rather go out of this world feeling nationally superior, than allow our younger generation to enjoy that same integration, peace, and opportunity that we were able to enjoy.”
-70 y.o. Codger in the Midlands

Closest thing to a filibuster in the US House

Bravi. - promoted by david

House Democrats, including many if not all of our delegation, just passed the nine-hour mark in their occupation of the House floor demanding votes on gun control legislation.  Many Senators, including ours have joined them for at least part of the time, with Elizabeth Warren apparently making a donut run for the members.  This effort is being spearheaded by John Lewis, who probably of all members knows a thing or two about sit-ins.  Our own Katherine Clark seems to be Lewis’s co-leader in this, leading Rachel Maddow to point out that they can now be remembered as Lewis & Clark.  (I’m updating at 9:20 at which time the two of them are being interviewed by Rachel.)  Officially the House stands in recess subject to the call of the chair and the C-SPAN cameras have been cut off.  We are getting feed via Periscope from a California member, which even C-SPAN is using in lieu of their own cameras.  We just learned that someone is hitting the nearest Target for sleeping bags to accommodate an all-night stay.  This wouldn’t be an issue if the real House were more like model Congresses I have participated in whereby any legislation filed gets a hearing and those that clear committee get a vote.  In some cases the rules were that the plenary would still vote on a committee recommendation of ought not to pass.

UPDATE: There has now been a gathering of the public outside the Capitol in support of the Democratic sit-in.  We also expect the GOP to come back into the chamber shortly to attempt votes on other items.

Wexit? [with poll]

Elizabeth Warren is being vetted to serve as Hillary Clinton’s running mate.  That puts her on a genuinely short list of potential candidates for the job of vice president, with all that that would entail for the Senate, the country, and especially for us here in Massachusetts.

So, on the eve of the “Brexit” vote in England, it’s time for a Wexit vote right here, where Warren first made clear her intention to run for Senate: Should she stay, or should she go?

Elizabeth Warren: representing you

Tantrums by Toddlers on the Governor's Council

It seems that four of the members of the Governor’s Council, that vestigial organ of state government, are throwing their sippy cups at the news that Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito intends to preside at this summer’s hearings for Governor Baker’s three nominees to the Supreme Judicial Court.

Never mind that under the Constitution the Lieutenant Governor is also a member of the Council and presides when the Governor is absent. Also never mind that the Governor has “full power and authority, from time to time, at his discretion” to call the Council together. Also never mind that there’s plenty of precedent for the Lieutenant Governor to preside on occasions that the Governor regards as appropriate, like, for example, nominations to the state’s highest court. With a Trumpian self-regard, four Councilors have gotten themselves in a huff over the plan.

Councilor Marilyn Devaney of Watertown (who has been known to throw other objects besides her sippy cup) demanded to know why the Lieutenant Governor was intent on usurping “our duties.”

Councilor Robert Jubinville of Milton openly conceded that he wanted the spotlight: ”I don’t know why you want to take it away from us. This is a chance for councilors to do a hearing like we did with Judge [Ralph] Gants, to get some publicity and you’re taking it away.”

In response to the argument that Lieutenant Governor Murray had presided over the hearings for the SJC nominations of Governor Patrick, Councilor Christopher Ianella of Boston pouted thusly: “Murray at least asked.”

Councilor Eileen Duff of Gloucester went so far with her indignation to suggest that it might affect the votes on the nominations: “This is all about publicity, it’s all about press and it’s all about Karyn Polito. It’s not about the Governor’s Council and it’s not about the candidates. It’s absolutely disrespectful and outrageous….This administration is not setting these people up very well now for not having a whole lot of tie votes coming up.”

Really, these people are judging our judges?

Massachusetts Needs A Better Governor

Then again, Baker is the most popular governor in the country, with a 72 percent approval rating, according to a recent survey. Bumped, for the excellent discussion in the comments -- barbershop/winter night General Store potbelly stove/friendly bar choose your metaphor politics at its best. And, of course, we do need a better Governor than "last one, sweetheart" Baker. - promoted by Bob_Neer

In today’s Globe, Stephanie Ebbert tells the kind of story we will read more and more until 2019. The people who provide childcare are absolutely essential to our economy because they let parents work without worrying about their kids. And these childcare providers are getting royally messed up by Governor Baker’s fix it scheme.

One child care provider estimates the state Department of Early Education and Care owes him $15,000 in unpaid bills. Another fears the department is going to ask him to pay back $80,000.

Day care center directors all across Massachusetts are scheduling one-on-one meetings with department officials to hash out unpaid and disputed bills from the past year.

The reason? The new technology the state launched last July to modernize its reporting and billing of day care subsidies still can’t handle the bills.

Why did this modernization of billing and reporting mess up?

Charlie Baker’s stunt of granting early retirement to get thousands of state workers off the payroll. The people in state government with the valuable knowledge of who was in the system and how the system worked were induced to retire early, thus taking the institutional knowledge away right at the time that knowledge was needed for the new system. Did Gov. Baker save the budget? Noooo…

The Globe learned, however, that the retirees included at least two senior officials integrally involved with the technology and three more employees who worked on the help desk for the new system. Two of the help desk retirees wrote the user guide for the Child Care Financial Assistance system, and the third was the help desk director. Those three were hired back after the faulty launch to help with calls from frustrated day care providers, the Globe learned.

Yes, Gov. Baker decided to put these employees on retirement, then he had to re-hire them because the job still needed to be done. In his desire to cut spending, he ended up creating even more waste.

Read the whole article. Take special care to read to the end where we see the new computer system can not account for how parents might have to send their children to one childcare place in the morning and another in the afternoon. Plenty of parents need to do that, but the system refuses to pay for it.

There are thousands upon thousands of parents in the Commonwealth who need good, affordable childcare. We could provide that, putting parents’ minds at ease, making families lives’ better… if our Governor had the vision for it.

We will see this again and again because as long as our Governor believes “we have a spending problem,” the Commonwealth will be neglecting the basic needs of our citizens: childcare, early education, K-12, public universities, transportation, mental health, and protecting the environment.

Because the Commonwealth has grown and is growing, we have a revenue problem, but our Governor has a lack of vision problem. He can not see how the Commonwealth is growing and will grow in the future. He is not taking care of the present, and therefore is undercutting our future.

Joke Revue: Crowd At Trump Rally Realizes They’ve Been Chanting ‘We Are Frightened And Helpless’ For Last Half Hour


Crowd At Trump Rally Realizes They’ve Been Chanting ‘We Are Frightened And Helpless’ For Last Half Hour

TAMPA, FL—Saying they had been so swept up in the excitement of the moment that they hadn’t been paying attention to what they were shouting, the crowd at a Donald Trump rally in Tampa reportedly came to the realization Wednesday that they had been chanting the phrase “We are frightened and helpless” for the past half hour. “Looking back on it now, I guess we all started chanting ‘We’re so, so scared’ as soon as we got into the auditorium, and then when Trump came out onstage, it really picked up and we added the part about feeling completely impotent in the face of change,” said Trump supporter Colby Swanson, 45, who explained that, after thinking back, some attendees had started chanting “Rage is my only outlet” on and off while they were waiting in line to enter the event. “Boy, we were chanting it really loud for a while, especially after Trump said our country doesn’t win anymore and that we shouldn’t let Muslim refugees into the U.S. Come to think of it, towards the end there, I remember just yelling ‘The world has passed me by’ over and over again.” After recognizing their embarrassing blunder, the Trump supporters were said to have collected themselves and returned to their traditional chant of “Build the wall.”

‘I’d Like You To Post Long, Aggressive Rants On Social Media,’ Says Bernie Sanders In Supporter’s Interpretation Of Speech

WASHINGTON—Addressing reporters after meeting with President Obama at the White House this morning, Bernie Sanders called upon his followers to post long-winded, extremely aggressive rants on social media, according to local supporter Ryan Bailey’s interpretation of the speech. “I’d like you to go on Facebook or Twitter and harass as many people as possible with spiteful, protracted tirades,” said the Vermont senator in Bailey’s inference of the speech, which demanded that he and any other voters still committed to political revolution reply to anyone who challenged their opinion with a barrage of sharply worded displays of sanctimony and condescension, as well as any number of personal insults. “If somebody tries to get you to calm down or walk back your rhetoric, don’t hesitate to double down by questioning their intelligence and maligning their integrity before blocking them entirely. Also, if you see anybody sharing a conflicting point of view anywhere online, it is imperative that you attack them at once with a series of furious and preferably misogynistic responses.” According solely to Bailey’s own perception of the speech, Sanders then concluded his remarks by asking supporters to send a threatening email to Democratic Party officials or members of the media.

Daniel Kurtzman:

“The latest polls show Hillary Clinton now leads Donald Trump by 12 points nationally. I guess she’s getting some traction from her new slogan, ‘Come with me, if you want to live.’” –Seth Meyers

“Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said in a speech today that he feels Donald Trump is not a racist. Said Trump, ‘Thank you, Ben Carson.’” –Seth Meyers

“Donald Trump celebrated his 70th birthday today. And I guess instead of blowing out his candles, he just insulted them until they put themselves out. ‘You’re too hot! You smell like wax! You’re the worst part of this cake!’” –Jimmy Fallon

“In a speech, Donald Trump said thousands of people in the United States are ‘sick with hate.’ Then Trump said, “I’d like to thank them for their support.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Bernie Sanders is set to meet with Hillary Clinton this evening. Bernie said the meeting will give Hillary one last opportunity to bow out gracefully.” –Conan O’Brien

“So much has happened during President Obama’s administration. Obamacare was passed. Same-sex marriage was legalized. He worked with 11 other countries to sign the historic Trans-Pacific Partnership. Whereas Donald Trump just walked around Epcot and insulted every country.” –Jimmy Fallon

“After his meeting at the White House, Bernie Sanders said he’s going to do everything he can to ‘make sure that Donald Trump does not become president of the United States.’ Bernie said, ‘I’m even willing to make Hillary my vice president.’” –Conan O’Brien

Idiotic Trump quotation of the week: “Ask the gays.”

“The LGBT community, the gay community, the lesbian community — they are so much in favor of what I’ve been saying over the last three or four days. Ask the gays what they think and what they do, in, not only Saudi Arabia, but many of these countries, and then you tell me — who’s your friend, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?” –Donald Trump in a boast that provoked widespread ridicule from the LGBT community, June 15, 2016

Clearing the Air, Protecting the Climate . . . While Saving Money

Thanks so much, Seth. It's been mentioned here in the comments that on-shore wind (Maine) has great potential. It's also a shame that Kay Khan's RPS-doubling amendment to the House bill -- creating more demand for renewables -- didn't make the cut. Let's see the Senate put it back in. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

As the legislative session moves towards a noisy climax, one of the many bills still moving towards possible passage is what the Boston Globe calls ”a heavily lobbied bill designed to diversify the state’s energy sources.”

That energy bill builds on prior successes in some ways, but if it is really going to reflect hard-won experience it will need to be improved. The final bill must offer greater competition among energy technologies while rising to the challenge of the essential environmental mandate recently affirmed by the SJC in the landmark Kain case - the decision that made it crystal clear that the mandates in the Global Warming Solutions Act must be taken very seriously.

I worked on legislation of this type across New England during my years at the Conservation Law Foundation. In Massachusetts I was part of the team that worked with the legislature to start building a clean energy future through successful efforts like “clean energy procurements” – a tool created by the Green Communities Act for our utility companies to buy power from facilities like wind farms.

Now that I am working for a wind energy company I am fighting the same battles, with an even better view of how practical efforts to shift our power away from fossil fuels can flourish or fail – and what can make the difference in getting the job done.

One lesson that I have learned through hard experience is the necessity of encouraging competition to drive down cost – and the current energy bill, in the form that passed the House, makes the mistake of excluding low-cost onshore wind resources from participation in the bidding process unless it is “bundled” with hydroelectric power.  Such bundling of resources is not inherently wrong – indeed, it might be a fine idea for the states to buy both wind and hydro and build a bundle after getting offers from both kinds of generation – but wind power developers should be able to offer a range of prices and options to the utilities and states buying on behalf of customers. Creating greater competition among electricity sources will inevitably lower energy prices for everyone who pays an electric bill.

As written, the House bill would unnecessarily reduce competition between hydropower and other clean energy sources, including solar and wind energy. Head-to-head competition between land-based renewables, wind and solar energy, and large hydro is the solution to meeting our clean energy needs in the cheapest fashion.

Equally as important is requiring the proposed clean energy procurements in this draft legislation to help ensure compliance with Massachusetts’ rising renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and to meet the greenhouse gas reduction mandate of the Global Warming Solutions Act and the Kain decision.

Massachusetts recently found its RPS, which is designed to tap into more land-based wind and other renewable energy sources to keep costs low for ratepayers while driving private investment into local and state economies, has a three-to-one benefit-to-cost ratio, producing annual net benefits of $217 million.

Delivering clean air in Massachusetts is important, but state lawmakers must encourage the kind of competition needed to do so at the greatest benefit for the state’s electricity customers.  The leadership of the State Senate is now in a position to steer the bill in that direction and ensure that we do what we can to help save the planet while saving money.

Seth Kaplan is Board Chair of RENEW Northeast, a coalition organization that brings together renewable energy companies and environmental advocacy organizations.