Victory for Western Massachusetts: Kinder Morgan Suspends Pipeline

Thank you for your leadership, Rep. McGovern. - promoted by david

This is a big victory for Western Massachusetts and our state’s future as a leader in clean and renewable energy. With the defeat of this pipeline, it is clear that the voices of Western Massachusetts families have been heard. I am so proud of the incredible activism led by my constituents.

The safety and health of our communities must be our first priority. With so many concerns raised about how the pipeline could impact local drinking water, our farmers and the crops they grow, and ongoing conservation efforts, I believe it is the right decision to halt development of the pipeline.

People must always come before profits and today the people won. Massachusetts has a proud tradition as a leader in clean energy and we must continue to build on that by investing in solar, wind, and other renewable energies. Making these investments will help to reduce energy costs, combat climate change, and support the good-paying jobs that will power the 21st century economy and build strong, sustainable communities that will thrive for decades to come.

Pipeline Suspended

This is ... Amazing news. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

My FB feed has lit up with the news that Kinder-Morgan has suspended the proposed pipeline project that would have run through much of MA and terminated in my neck of the woods.  There was a lot of local opposition, but I gather that costs were a factor in the decision.

Why is ActBlue supporting a regressive cause like marijuana prohibition?

A very interesting question, and a difficult one for ActBlue, who has stated on Twitter that their "long-time policy is to list multiple sides on ballot initiatives when Ds are split." How "split" do Democrats have to be, and how is that ascertained? ActBlue's fundraising machinery is very powerful. That's a good thing, in general. But with great power comes ... well, you know. - promoted by david

Unnoticed in the flurry of press last week around the formation by Governor Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo of a committee opposing the marijuana ballot initiative was the company selected for the committee’s fundraising: ActBlue.

This is distressing, as ActBlue since its 2004 inception has billed itself as a backer of progressive causes, with their website stating,”If you’re a candidate, PAC, or c4 non-profit organization, the first requirement is that you’re a Democrat or working for progressive causes.” There is nothing progressive about the stock reefer-madness rhetoric being used by Baker and his fellow prohibitionists. Is the involvement of some Democrats like Walsh and DeLeo enough, from ActBlue’s perspective, to help the prohibitionist fundraising effort? Apparently so.

But ActBlue risks alienating other Democrats. A poll released by Western New England University last week showed that 64% of Democrats support the initiative, which would end prohibition and replace it with a system that regulates marijuana similar to how the state regulates alcohol. With only 29% in opposition, this whopping 35-point lead shows that ActBlue is out of step with a supermajority of Democratic voters.

So why is ActBlue sticking its neck out for such a regressive effort? Who knows. It will be interesting to see if any Dems call them out for it.

[Update] I’ve started a petition telling ActBlue that marijuana prohibition is not progressive. Please sign and share.

Open All the Primaries

This is an important issue. In principle, I have no objection to closed primaries. Why is it, exactly, that a person who chooses not to enroll in a political party should nonetheless have a say in deciding that party's nominee? However, the ridiculously early deadlines in NY, and other reported problems there, are serious cause for concern. - promoted by david

So … I was thinking about this New York mess.

There is a solid, really solid, argument for requiring party registration for primary voting. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect a primary voter to pick a party in advance.

However, it’s just not good enough for the simple reason that two parties have a duopoly in presidential politics. So a voter is forced to choose one, or forced not to vote.

Furthermore the eventual President will be everyone’s President. If we had five, six, seven parties … then the voter who chose none of them would have a weaker case.

But only two choices, in America?

We have to err on the side of greater participation and greater democracy.

Open the primaries. The only thing I would restrict is, if you’re a Democrat, you can’t vote in the Republican primary, and vice versa.

As I’ve noted, i get annoyed at independent voters. But a two-party race for President is undemocratic.

Open all the primaries.

May BMG Stammtisch

Early notice! - promoted by charley-on-the-mta


The Saloon

May day, only a few days late. Come, enjoy some libations, and talk politics.

Our now-regular monthly BMG Stammtisch will happen two weeks from today — 4-May — at The Saloon in Davis Square at 7p.

Hope to see you there!

New York

Bumped, for the results. - promoted by Bob_Neer

I got nothin’ really, but it pleases me immensely to see the great state of New York have a meaningful primary.

Chris Christie must feel wistful today.

But anyway … here’s a pretty good news roundup.

More Than 4,000 US Troops in Iraq and Still No War Vote?

A clarion. Jim McGovern represents the 2nd MA congressional district. - promoted by Bob_Neer

With this week’s announcement that the U.S. will send more than 200 additional troops to Iraq and send eight Apache helicopters for the first time in the mission to defeat ISIS, today I called on Congress to finally vote on an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) for the nearly two-year war.

I have been proud to be a leading voice calling for Congress to fulfill its constitutional duty to vote on a war authorization for the fight against ISIS, forcing a debate on the House floor last year and continuing to keep the issue in the national spotlight this year.

With this latest troop escalation, the official number of U.S. troops in Iraq will total more than 4,000. And with hundreds more in the country who are not counted on the official rolls, the real number of U.S. troops in Iraq is over 5,000, according to defense officials.

Click here for video of today’s speech.

Text of Today’s Speech:

“Drip, drip, drip, M. Speaker.  That’s the sound of U.S. escalation in Syria and Iraq.  Yesterday, the Pentagon announced that the U.S. will send 217 additional troops to Iraq, pushing the official number of U.S. troops there to more than 4,000.  Mainly Army Special Forces, they will be embedded with Iraqi brigades and battalions. They will be stationed close to front lines. They will include trainers and maintenance crews for the new deployment of Apache helicopters.

“More U.S. commandos could also head to Syria, bolstering the roughly 50 special operations forces advising and training rebel forces on the ground.

“Just when is the House going to debate and vote on an authorization for deploying U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria?  When is the House going to debate these escalations that add more firepower and put more U.S. troops close to the front lines?

“Our troops carry out their constitutional duties.  When will Congress act and carry out its constitutional responsibility? The American people are tired of endless wars. And putting these wars on remote control – with no debate and no votes – is shameful.”

###

Recommended Reading: Sanders

An interesting post-link from a long-time esteemed BMGer. Evidence and research can indeed help to make an argument stronger! - promoted by Bob_Neer

I found that this linked article crystallizes many of the things that made me a supporter of Sec. Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

While refraining from the pure nastiness that characterizes the present phase of the campaign, the author nevertheless presents a fairly withering criticism of Sen. Sanders and his campaign thus far.

It is a long read, but well worth it, because it is uses facts to construct an argument, which is always something worth considering.

It also raises interesting questions for me about the structure of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, and the composition of its elected officials– though these may be questions best left for a later time.

 

Bernie Supporters Should Lay Off Hillary

A Sanders supporter speaks up for disagreeing without being disagreeable. As I have argued before, I think this is good political advice as well for the challenger, and counsel he has abandoned at his peril. Obama, so far as I can recall, was relatively cordial to Clinton during his successful challenge. - promoted by Bob_Neer

The other night’s debate was difficult to listen to if you’re a Bernie supporter, at least for me.   This was because it was frustrating listening to Hillary’s statements that were those of a perhaps too-well-honed-lawyer.  Things were technically true but just too close to being misleading.  But that’s a part of politics.  I wasn’t happy, but too bad.

What has been a lot more disturbing is the deteriorating tone out there on Facebook.  Instead of predictably complaining about the raw tone toward Bernie.  I’d rather point out as a Bernie supporter that the attacks on Hillary personally are becoming dangerously over the top.

The real problem is this:  it is one thing to say that Hillary has often been slow to embrace forwardly progressive positions on issues from gay marriage and a $15 minimum wage to tougher labor standards on trade, electoral finance reform or fracking.

It is quite another to pretend Hillary’s caution is the same thing as corruption.

There is virtually no evidence that Hillary Clinton is personally corrupt.  This a serious charge, and this not what Bernie is saying.  Bernie is saying it is common sense that donors want something for their money.  That is a reasonable conclusion to make, and I agree with it.  But that does not mean that Hillary is corrupt, any more than it means that Barack Obama is corrupt, or Elizabeth Warren is corrupt because she accepts donations from wealthy individuals as well as those of modest income.

I hope we who support Bernie can follow his lead in making this critical distinction.  Hillary Clinton has her limitations like any human being, but she is not corrupt, and has been transparent about her financial dealings.  This is no small matter.

Should she have accepted large speaking fees from corporations like Goldman Sachs?  I say no.  But I also can acknowledge that she could grow on this issue as she grown through the years on so many others – in part by listening to people very close to her like Barney Frank and many labor leaders.

Continuing to create a Hillary caricature when Bernie criticizes certain of Hillary’s past decisions helps no one except Trump and Cruz.

 

 

1000+ arrests in our nation's capitol - and not one word from the Boston Globe

Democracy Now has covered the "Democracy Spring" protests in Washington, DC. They counted 585 arrests as of Thursday... - promoted by Bob_Neer

1000+ arrests in Washington, D.C. and not one word in The Boston Globe.  Ray Lewis, a retired police captain, who was arrested shortly after Bil Lewis took his photo was only one of those arrests.  Each day had a theme.  Thousands of citizens took part.  Entire busloads of college students rolled in throughout the week, according to those who were there, some of whom called me as they knew how frustrated I am that still healing from a hip replacement and dealing with arthritis – civil disobedience on the Capitol’s steps to protest is beyond me.  What was being protested, that the Boston Globe ignored?  Well:

1.  Corruption due to unlimited money from the billionaire class pouring into politics.

2.  Voter suppression due to the end of the Voting Rights Act.

3.   Racial injustice.

4.   And support for the $15.00 an hour campaign.

A group of citizens marched from Philodelphia to Washington, D.C. – a distance of 140 miles, tweeting out photos, which were published online at  http://www.occupyboston.org/2016/04/16/1000-arrests-democracyspring/ [There is a series of articles, including day-by-day reports from that brave march].  What did the Globe report?  Man breaks into restaurant and cooks hamburger!

I am close to dropping my subscription except for the legal notices I need to monitor to do my work.  And, I suppose, to monitor the reality that Globe coverage serves the billionaire class, ignores what plutocrats tell it to ignore, and slants the news.  That is too bad – a few video clips are no substitute.

So, yes, this was a huge civil disobedience event, eleven days long, with a 140 mile march, and more than 1000+ peaceful arrests on the steps of the Capitol to call attention to the corruption resulting from Citizens United.

And our largest local paper?  Total media blackout.  That was enough of a fail to energize me to post and make sure you all know both about what has happened, and is still happening in Washington, D.C. – and how The Boston Globe choose to keep the news from you all. [I tried to embed some photos but no luck, so you will have to go to http://www.occupyboston.org to see them.

A thought experiment

Seems to me fair to ask whether prosecutors were a little overeager to accept what Dookhan was giving them. - promoted by david

Let’s play “let’s pretend”.

Let’s pretend there is a medical laboratory that does blood and urine testing for all of the general practitioners in a particular region.

Now let’s pretend these same doctors are shareholders in a company that performs expensive and evasive diagnostic procedures.

And let’s pretend that if the medical laboratory reports back certain results after the scientific testing the doctors refer their patients to their company for the expensive diagnostic procedure.

Do you have all that? Ya with me? Sure you are. You’re not an idiot.

As Baker and Walsh Double Down on Prohibition, Warren and Markey Join Global Leaders in Calling for an End to the Drug War

Marijuana debate. Baker, DeLeo and Walsh stake out the "Weed: Threat or Menace" position. - promoted by hesterprynne

Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh, and Speaker Bob DeLeo announced that the launch of the campaign against the marijuana legalization question that MA voters will likely see on the ballot this November. Their group is called the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, even though prohibition has not proven to advance the goals of either health or safety. Many of the criticisms of marijuana are far more applicable toward alcohol or cigarettes.

The group’s campaign will focus on a disingenuous “Think of the children!” line. The legalization ballot measure will not be making marijuana legal for children to purchase (As for alcohol, the age for purchase will be 21). And marijuana is already illegal for all ages now, but teenagers still find a way to obtain it if they want to. The trio apparently plan to trumpet a federal drug use study that shows that Colorado has the highest youth rate of marijuana use in the nation, but the study showed no statistically significant increase in use post-legalization.

In contrast, our two senators–Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren–showed leadership yesterday by signing onto a letter of global leaders and activists calling for the end of the drug war in advance of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem.

You can read the full letter (and see the various luminaries who signed it) in the attached link, but here’s the key message:

“The drug control regime that emerged during the last century has proven disastrous for global health, security and human rights.  Focused overwhelmingly on criminalization and punishment, it created a vast illicit market that has enriched criminal organizations, corrupted governments, triggered explosive violence, distorted economic markets and undermined basic moral values.

“Governments devoted disproportionate resources to repression at the expense of efforts to better the human condition.  Tens of millions of people, mostly poor and racial and ethnic minorities, were incarcerated, mostly for low-level and non-violent drug law violations, with little if any benefit to public security. Problematic drug use and HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other infectious diseases spread rapidly as prohibitionist laws, agencies and attitudes impeded harm reduction and other effective health policies.

“Humankind cannot afford a 21st century drug policy as ineffective and counter-productive as the last century’s.”