A Few Random Thoughts Because I Got Nothin'

This would seem to be ... An open thread. If your thoughts run more than 140 characters, this is your place. [This post is actually by JimC -- technical glitch is preventing that from showing ...] - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Charming family, the Kushners.

The short version is: In 2004, Jared Kushner’s father Charles, a real estate magnate in New Jersey and New York, pleaded guilty to a tax fraud scheme in which he claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars in phony deductions for office expenses at the partnerships he created to manage the apartment buildings he owned. Kushner, a major donor to the Democratic Party, also pleaded guilty to fraudulently making hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions in the names of employees and associates who didn’t know their names were being used. Finally, Kushner pleaded guilty to retaliating against a cooperating witness in the case — his sister. He did so by setting a trap in which he hired a prostitute to lure his sister’s husband into a sexual encounter in a New Jersey hotel, where the action was secretly photographed and videotaped. Kushner sent the pictures and tape to his sister as revenge, apparently motivated by Kushner’s belief that she and her husband were helping U.S. Attorney Christie and his prosecutors.

In our quest to return the world to sanity, I think we should emphasize Wisconsin. Wisconsin should be as blue as we are.

Betsy DeVos recently compared charter schools to Uber, apparently not for the first time. I find this pretty offensive.

The Tsarnaevs stole our sacred right to make fun of the marathon. When do we get that back?

MA: A Segregated State

Amazing -- and not in a good way. "Is Boston [MA] racist?" Huh. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

The Globe had a surprisingly in depth piece looking at the racial divides that still persist in the Greater Boston Housing market.

Naomi Cordova didn’t want to buy a home in Brockton. In fact, she was dead set against it. But the working-class city is where Cordova ended up, despite the fact that she’s employed at a tech company in downtown Boston and makes more than $90,000 a year.

With a price tag limit of$275,000, little money for a down payment, and no desire to buy a fixer-upper, Cordova, a 34-year-old single mother of Puerto Rican and African-American descent, felt she had few other options. The city, which she associates mainly with its gang violence, isn’t where she feels she belongs.

It goes on to profile the challenges which include a predominately white field of realtors steering minorities toward majority minority communities, lack of credit and savings, and fear of living in an all white community.

“The patterns are pretty persistent,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of integrated communities to choose from.”

And this segregation has persisted despite laws designed to reverse the damage done by decades of discriminatory housing practices. Some people are reluctant to leave neighborhoods where their family and friends have lived for generations; others are held back by reports of racism when black or Latino families move to white suburbs.

Finances are perhaps the biggest deterrent. People of color tend to have fewer assets and fewer family members they can borrow from — a racial wealth gap that puts them at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to securing a loan.

And even when minorities achieve levels of affluence comparative to their white peers-they are still less likely to live among their income cohort and rather live among their racial cohort.

Even when they are in the same income bracket as whites, minorities in the Boston region are turned down for mortgages at a higher rate and live in substantially less well-off neighborhoods, according to a study by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council in Boston. The average white family earning $78,000 a year in metro Boston lives in a neighborhood where the median household income is $72,400 a year, while the average black household earning $78,000 a year lives in an area where the median is $51,100 a year.

We should all be ashamed of this record.

In 86 of the state’s 351 cities and towns, not a single loan was made to a black or Latino home buyer

That fact alone should sober us from the delusion that we are a progressive state because we rejected Trump and sent Liz Warren to the Senate. By many other standards we still fall woefully short in income inequality and racial equity in housing. And housing is where it all starts. De facto segregation keeps minorities locked in unsafe neighborhoods, depresses their job prospects, their education prospects, reduces their lifespan, and crams minority voters in a few districts. It’s no accident our state legislature is one of the least diverse in the country as well. This is the kind of policy area a gubernatorial candidate needs to talk about. This is the kind of policy area Marty Walsh does not have the courage to address. And this is the kind of policy area we must be talking about on this blog and in the broader activist community.

Stability and stagnation in MA

I was thinking about this since my last MBTA screed. Joan Vennochi beats me to the punch, using the poll showing Baker’s, uh, formidable popularity as a jumping-off point to show the underside of inequality:

Does Massachusetts live up to the hype? – The Boston Globe.

Not for people stuck on the wrong side of the income gap, who are desperate for affordable housing and not in the market for a $4 million condo unit in a revitalized Downtown Crossing. Not for the homeless, whose numbers have nearly doubled over the past nine years, according to a recent study commissioned by the Boston Foundation. Not for kids stuck in schools hindered by an outdated school funding formula. And not for those rail commuters who just experienced three miserable days of delays attributed to defective new locomotives.

Massachusetts honks are justified. We are #1 in education; #1 in being health-insured; we have a strong economy and low unemployment. We also have a hellacious inequality gap, one which is gnawing at the quality of life for those not in a position to benefit from industries that require the extremely-well-trained. Personally I don’t wish to live in the East Coast version of a gilded, class-bifurcated Silicon Valley.

Neither the successes nor the challenges are really about Baker at all. These are the result of factors that pre-date Baker by decades, if not centuries. Actions taken or not taken by him and the legislature will also be felt in the generational terms.

Baker re-re-invented himself between 2010 (angry!) and 2014 (sober bean-counting manager). He was basically content to inherit a post-Deval Patrick political consensus: Play to our strengths in tech, health care and education; don’t do anything too crazy on taxes, up or down; manage the bureaucracies. This comports perfectly well with a House leadership that, if anything, is even more small-c conservative than he is.

But we have a political culture that has no interest in taking on the long-term, structural problems that put together, squeeze the comfort out of life for many. We are failing to adapt. There are no plans, no ambitions, no signature legislated efforts to address:

  • The cost of housing. It is an increasingly crushing burden for the non-wealthy; but even if you’ve been a homeowner and seen your asset increase in value, how can your young adult kids afford their own places? This has been festering at least since the tech boom of the late 90s got laundered into real estate assets. We have needed a regional (Greater Boston) plan to create non-luxury housing in quantity, and have never gotten action, or even a clear vision from legislature nor governor.
  • The decay of the MBTA. A related economic justice issue. A reliable T is cheaper (and cleaner) than a car, providing a little economic cushion for the non-rich. And when it’s not reliable, one’s hold on a job is precarious. The Baker administration’s efforts on the T are technical, not adaptive: Save a few bucks here and there, but then what are you left with?
  • The cost of health care. I actually have to give some credit to Baker — and take away from the House — for proposing price growth caps to address the confiscatory pricing of Partners et al.  ”Health insurance” for nearly everyone doesn’t obviate rising costs, which cut into household budgets and employers’ ability to hire or raise wages. Speaker DeLeo ensured once again that we failed to act firmly.
  • Cost of higher education. Public higher education has always seemed an afterthought in Massachusetts political culture. We see the same administrative featherbedding and high salaries in the UMass system as in the higher ed system at large. And now UMass Boston — which should be a gateway to the middle class — is $30 million in the hole, cancelling classes. Wrong direction.

These are big-picture problems that require Vision, or Progress – which is really just adaptation. Our Governor and legislature seem content to live off the achievements of those who designed and invested in our current comforts and (relative, contingent) successes.  Our successes are not equally shared, and create their own set of problems. Assets are prone to decay, and in some cases (the T, our real estate market) they are already at a breaking point. The time frame of public investment and planning is generational, not the next election.

We are not asking for miracles. We are asking for long-term planning.

Target Increased Military Spending at the Enemy

Exactly - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Target Increased Military Spending at the Enemy

On April 6, 2017 the Huffington Post published my piece arguing that if we’re going to increase defense spending, we should target the enemy.

The piece observes that

The budget President Trump released this month increases Defense Department spending by $54 billion, or 10 percent.  It increases Homeland Security expenditures by almost 7 percent.  At the same time, it decreases spending by the Environmental Protection Agency by an astounding 31 percent, and eliminates EPA spending on climate programs.  “As to climate change…we’re not spending money on that anymore,” according to Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  It’s ‘a waste of your money.”

But in fact, the failure to address climate change has profound security implications, which U.S. defense and intelligence agencies—and not just traditional environmental groups—have raised for decades.

In 2007, a report commissioned by the Center for Naval Analyses and including 11 retired generals—eight four-star and three three-star—refers to climate change as “a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world,” in part by causing water shortages and damaging food production.  The report says that 40 percent of the world’s population gets at least half its drinking water from mountain glaciers that are disappearing.

In a study commissioned by the C.I.A., the National Research Council said in 2012 that the U.S. is unprepared to address the catastrophes that climate change will create.

Further, according to the Huffington Post piece,

In 2014 the Pentagon released a report referencing the dangerous impacts of climate change on food and water supplies, damage to infrastructure, the spread of disease, and mass migration.  The report said:  “These developments could undermine already-fragile governments that are unable to respond effectively or challenge currently-stable governments…. These gaps in governance can create an avenue for extremist ideologies and conditions that foster terrorism.”

Even President Trump’s Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, agrees.  In January, Secretary Mattis said in written comments to the Senate Armed Services Committee: “I agree that the effects of a changing climate — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation.”

Secretary Mattis has opined before on climate change and its military implications.  In 2010, the United States Joint Forces Command released a document entitled “The Joint Operating Environment,” with a Foreword signed “J.N. Mattis, General, U.S. Marines Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command.”

The report lists climate change “as one of the ten trends most likely to impact the Joint Force.”  It references shrinking Arctic sea ice as opening new areas for natural resource exploitation that may raise tensions among Arctic nations.  It cites a 2007 event in which “two Russian submersibles made an unprecedented dive 2.5 miles to the arctic sea floor, where one ship dropped a titanium capsule containing a Russian flag.”

Referencing sea level rise caused by climate change, the Joint Forces Command report notes that “one-fifth of the world’s population as well as one-sixth of the land area of the world’s largest urban areas are located in coastal zones less than ten meters above sea level.”

One-fifth of the world’s population obviously dwarfs the numbers of refugees now moving west in Europe, with enormous implications for geopolitical instability.

The full Huffington Post piece appears at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/military-spending-climate-change_us_58e65c62e4b0917d34780029?j9

A New Interface to Review MA Legislators' Progressive Records!

Thanks ProgressiveMass -- - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

As progressives across the Commonwealth are looking to get more engaged in politics at the state level, a new resource from Progressive Massachusetts (scorecard.progressivemass.com) can help voters see where their State Representatives and State Senators stand on critical issues and bills.

Voters now can easily monitor how their senators and representatives on Beacon Hill are voting on priorities identified by the grassroots organization. Bills from the Progressive Mass Legislative Agenda are highlighted, focusing on policies advancing economic and social justice, democratic participation, and investments in a sustainable future.

Caroline Bays, co-chair of chapter Progressive Watertown, argues that the best way to fight the reactionary agenda from Washington is through vigorous leadership at the state level.

“MA should be a leader in treating health care as a human right, dismantling racist mass incarceration, funding quality education for all our kids, fighting climate change, guaranteeing a living wage, and protecting the rights of our immigrant neighbors. But despite a Democratic legislature, we are not. The scorecard helps show where we need more courage and leadership. If not during a Trump and Paul Ryan era, then when?”

Many voters new to state-level advocacy are surprised to learn how difficult it is to track their elected representatives’ positions, even while some Beacon Hill insiders caution that scorecards are a limited view into a legislator’s record.

Yet, “roll call votes are one of the few records available to us,” co-chair of the Progressive Mass Issues Committee, Jonathan Cohn, said. “A fuller picture could be achieved with transparency in Committee votes, open meeting laws, and more roll calls from the floor.”

Progressive Mass began its scorecard in 2013, as a densely packed grid of color-coded pluses and minuses. The clean and user-friendly new presentation of was developed by Alex Holachek, a Cambridge-based front-end developer.

“Progressive Mass’s research helped me assess my legislators’  priorities; it was everything I was trying to learn, but the presentation was daunting,” she said. “In developing this new searchable and sortable interface, my aim is to expand the audience for this valuable work.”

After November’s election, many tech innovators and designers are eager to put their skills to work for progressive causes, according to Harmony Wu, who is on the Progressive Mass board.

Progressive Massachusetts was founded 5 years ago by grassroots organizers from the Patrick and Obama campaigns.

Baker to the left of House -- on several matters

Let this not go unnoticed:

House leaders unveiled a $40.3 billion state budget Monday that significantly tempered two controversial plans by Governor Charlie Baker to tackle the cost of health care. Lawmakers slashed his proposed fee on businesses to fund state medical costs, and they rejected a plan to cap the prices charged by hospitals.

… In their spending blueprint, House leaders also axed a plan by the governor to rein in health care spending by capping the prices charged by expensive hospitals. Speaker Robert A. DeLeo cast hospitals as crucial to the state’s economy and said they should not be subjected to new cost-control measures at a time when Congress continues to consider repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

“Hospitals as crucial to the state’s economy” — whereas every business and individual who pays health insurance premiums is chopped liver? Isn’t this a plain case of serving a special interest — one company in particular, Partners — literally at everyone else’s expense?

So on the uninsuring-employer fee (reminiscent of the 2005-6 ballot issue that led to Chapter 58, btw), Baker is to the left of DeLeo. On the hospitals, former insurance exec Baker was willing to gore a very powerful ox. He also proposed to tax Airbnb.

This is a very ironic position for those of us who have very progressive reps who nonetheless voted to maintain DeLeo as Speaker-for-Life. For all of our state’s considerable strengths and achievements, we have a continuing, growing problem of affordability and inequality. Every criticism I’ve made of Baker’s lack of long-term planning (e.g. the T) applies doubly to DeLeo. And he makes his membership look bad. It’s a Catch-22 for them: Vote him in, and ensure that nothing truly progressive/adaptive can happen; or vote against him and lose whatever chairmanships, power/influence one has coming.

Stagnation.

United

Wise. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

One problem with the way that corporations treat citizens (as employees or customers) is that when there is a snafu, the corporation says what it will do and the citizen can only take it or leave it.  That’s not a “level playing field”, as I see it.   There were regulations regarding what United needed to offer, but I think we all know about regulatory capture and the reality that many of the rules are clearly one sided.

I’ve been in sales/customer service for most of my working years.  I learned a valuable lesson from one co-worker who showed me that, after a mistake on our part,  it’s better to ask a customer what they think is fair rather than offer something up front.  It helps the customer in trusting the outcome, and levels the playing field.  I asked him, “What if the customer is completely unreasonable?”  He replied, “Most people want to be fair, reasonable, and respected.  Besides, if the person is unreasonable, nothing we offer up front will suit them.”

I used that approach for many years and it’s never let me down.

So here is my suggestion to United and any other company in that predicament:

Next time you are oversold on a flight, announce to the seat holders that you need to re-purchase two seats (or whatever) and you would like any seat holder willing to do so, to please offer their proposals in writing and when you have collected all the proposals, assuming you have at least two, take the best two and move on.

Whatever that price is, it will be lower, in the long run, to what you wind up with doing it the current way.

Cold War 2.0 (Might as Well Call It What It Is)

Meanwhile...Eric Trump contends that the U.S. airstrike on Syria last week proves not only that his dad is "presidential," but also that he's not connected to Putin in any way. - promoted by hesterprynne

Agent-operational measures aimed at exerting useful influence on aspects of the political life of a target country which are of interest, its foreign policy, the solution of international problems, misleading the adversary, undermining and weakening his positions, the disruption of his hostile plans, and the achievement of other aims.

John Schindler

In 2009, a number of Central and Eastern European leaders, including Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel, wrote a letter expressing their concern for the United States’ lack of attention and concern for them in the post-Soviet world.

The letter was prompted by an occasion: the Russia-Georgia war in which Russian-backed separatists in Georgia started a civil war in the country. The separatists were a proxy for the Russians, and the result of the war, in spite of protests from the international community, was that Russia essentially annexed two Georgian provinces.

Although the national security community was well aware of the problems Russia presented to Central and Eastern Europe, neither the Bush or Obama Administrations really addressed their concerns. Both administrations were almost certainly distracted by the threat of terror and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Russia proceeded to invade Ukraine and Crimea while other countries in the region suffered the corrosive effects of Russian-sponsored political and economic effects of war by other means.

Unlike Russia’s military actions, which were reported in the media, though with little context or analysis, it’s non-military tactics have been largely unnoticed. Even as it was reported that Russia was taking an active role in tilting the presidential election to Donald Trump, there was little or no attempt to understand the manipulation as part of a larger Russian larger strategy. Known as the Gerasimov Doctrine, the Russians recognize

“a ‘blurring of the lines between war and peace,’ and that ‘nonmilitary means of achieving military and strategic goals has grown and, in many cases, exceeded the power of weapons in their effectiveness.’ Gerasimov argues for asymmetrical actions that combine the use of special forces and information warfare that create “a permanently operating front through the entire territory of the enemy state.”

Special forces need not be involved to follow the doctrine. There is plenty that can be accomplished with active measures, the whole of Russian political warfare that ranges from propaganda to assassination. It was active measures that the United States experienced during the 2016 Presidential election. Propaganda isn’t new, but the technology to spread it and delicacy of the information ecosystem have changed.

Russia used armies of Twitter bots to spread fake news using accounts that seem to be aimed at Midwestern swing-voters. In addition to bots, Russia also used “trolls,” hundreds of computer operatives who pretended to be Trump supporters and posted stories or comments on the internet complimentary to Trump and disparaging of Clinton. The United States was completely unprepared for the intensity and sophistication of these tactics.

The seeds of more concerning strategies, those that have been successful in smaller, more easily influenced countries, seemed to have been already been sown in the Trump Administration. The Kremlin Playbook (2009), a report issued by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, describes the process for infiltrating and influencing Central and Eastern European countries:

Russian-linked entities work to support select state actors who in turn work on their behalf. This support can include investing in rising politicianscultivating relationships with prominent businessmen, or helping to ensure that its business affiliates become well positioned in government. From a position of authority and power, these local affiliates can work to expand a system of Russian patronage by ensuring that lucrative contracts and rewards are doled out to Russia’s preferred partners, who then are beholden to the Kremlin’s network and become instruments of its influence. Russia’s networks can be so extensive that they penetrate government institutions and investigative bodies, disabling a democracy’s ability to conduct oversight as well as ensure transparency and accountability, which erodes the rule of law and renders it vulnerable to exploitation and manipulation.

Capture of the American economy or political system would seem to be a long shot for the Russians, but Trump’s and his administration’s connections to Russia are concerning. If Trump were somehow able to lift or render ineffective sanctions on Russia, their efforts would be amply rewarded. From Rex Tillerson to Wilbur Ross to Paul Manafort to Michael Flynn to Trump himself, there are troubling connections to Russia, connections that make investigations imperative.

State capture is not the only Russian goal.

First and foremost, the Kremlin is interested in ensuring that it is able to maximize the economic benefits of its engagement with the region and further enrich members of its inner circle as they seek opportunities beyond the Russian economy. Another equally vital motivation is to weaken the European Union and the West’s desirability, credibility, and moral authority, particularly among EU aspirant countries such as Serbia, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, in order to reduce their enthusiasm to cooperate with and integrate into these structures. A final motivation is Russia’s desire to elevate itself and its model of governance as a more attractive alternative to the U.S.-dominated international order: an illiberal sovereign “democracy” that is economically controlled by a select inner circle.

Every country attempts to increase its economic advantage and present itself as desirable and moral, but like the Soviet Union before it, Russia’s goals are the antithesis of American ideals. The United States has a very mixed record when it comes to exerting its influence abroad, but Russia’s has always been worse because it has never cared about democracy. Its totalitarian days may be over, but Russia’s preference for authoritarianism has not changed. Colluding with the mafia and secret police, the Russian government has aided, abetted, and participated in stealing entire industries and capturing government from both the people of Russia and smaller Central and Eastern European countries. Not infrequently, the Russia government assassinates its citizens, particularly its reporters and critics. The United States may not live up to its democratic ideals, but we certainly have them.

The 2016 Presidential election was a disaster for the United States, but it has paid dividends to Russian in confusion and mistrust among our allies and the world. Populating the White House with a combination of relatives and incompetents (the two aren’t mutually exclusive) who lie to the American people as a matter of course, neglect to fill hundreds of government positions, our government is a disorganized mess. Entire government departments are being run by people opposed to their missions. Less than 100 days into the Trump Administration, American desirability, credibility, and moral authority have taken a major hit.

We have elected an international joke, a corrupt, narcissistic, incompetent demagogue, and Russia played a role in making it happen. Time will tell the extent of their role.

Carbon Pricing Awareness Tesla Raffle

promoted by hesterprynne

Come celebrate the launch of Climate XChange‘s second Carbon Pricing Awareness Tesla Raffle. There will be have music, drinks, great conversation, and most exciting of all, they’ll kick off the raffle! Teslas will be on display outside of the brewery, and you will have an opportunity to purchase raffle tickets at the event.

This event is free and open to the public. You can RSVP here. Guests will be admitted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Raffle tickets are now on sale – you can purchase them online.

When: Saturday, April 15th, 12PM-4PM

Where: Aeronaut Brewing Co. 14 Tyler St, Somerville, MA 02143

More details here.

Trump vs. our climate: We are not helpless.

Things are very very bad on the environmental front. Trump issued his executive orders intending to do away with much of Obama’s climate legacy. And the sociopath Scott Pruitt is already going about gutting the EPA with great abandon — and questionable legality. Read this heartbreaking article about the good professionals trying to do their jobs at the EPA now: 

To see the effects of climate change, Cox invited Pruitt to “visit the Pacific Northwest and see where the streams are too warm for our salmon to survive in the summer; visit the oyster farmers in Puget Sound whose stocks are being altered from the oceans becoming more acidic; talk to the ski area operators who are seeing less snowpack and worrying about their future; and talk to the farmers in Eastern Washington who are struggling to have enough water to grow their crops and water their cattle.  The changes I am referencing are not impacts projected for the future, but are happening now.”

Trump’s proposed EPA budget is the vehicle for his science-doubting policies.

His 31 percent budget decrease would be the largest among agencies not eliminated. It would result in layoffs for 25 percent of the staff and cuts to 50 EPA programs, The Washington Post reported Sunday. Lost would be more than half the positions in the division testing automaker fuel efficiency claims.

What insane, reckless greed would cause us to destroy an extraordinarily successful agency, one who counts its successes in lives saved and improved, and in billions and trillions of dollars saved? Which saves kids from lead poisoning and asthma, and would save them a livable planet? Because it advocates for the public good versus narrow, greedy interests all the time. For these folks, it is their job. Of course, almost by definition, they are under threat.

Let’s not sugar-coat it: We are up against the wall. But we are not helpless. There are many, many levers of influence, and if one doesn’t go our way, we grab another.

Note that it will take years to unwind the Clean Power Plan. It is, after all, the implementation of law — one confirmed by Massachusetts vs. EPA, which turns 10 years old today! And even more than federal action, we can affect the actions of states and municipalities, many of which are continuing to lead the way on reducing emissions. Trump may want to bring back coal, but he can’t make us buy it. 

What can we do? Good gravy, what can’t we do? Trump has given us all a middle finger — but there are ways to give it right back.

State:

  • Call your State Rep and Senator and tell them to support S.1849, a bill requiring that MA use 100% renewable energy by 2050. Happy that my rep Sean Garballey and Sen. Ken Donnelly are among the sponsors. You know the number, 617-722-2000 is the State House switchboard. Go do it!
  • And while you’re on the phone, mention that they should revisit last year’s energy bill and add a 2% annual increase in the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. That adds up!
  • Fight gas pipelines at home. A Spectra pipeline just ruptured in Rhode Island; given the dangers, should we continue to build capacity? The communities through which this pipeline would be routed are up in arms — watch for this as a potential sleeper issue vs. Baker in 2018.
  • Fight for the T: It’s an engine of economic growth, economic justice, and lowering emissions.
  • See ProgressiveMass’s Infrastructure/Environment agenda for specific bills. (Rest of it is good too!)

Federal:

  • Hug an environmental lawyer; and then fund one.  These things are going to be tied up in court for a while. Remember that the Clean Power Plan is an implementation of law; the EPA is required to regulate CO2 as a pollutant.
  • Sen. Brian Schatz has called Pruitt’s hollowing out of the EPA “a national scandal” and voiced doubt via Twitter that his actions are legal. Again, that’s what lawyers are for.
  • Join an Indivisible group and show up to your reps’ town hall meetings during the recess. We need to protect the EPA in the same way — and for many of the same reasons — that we protect our health care. Make Republicans fear an anti-EPA budget vote, for instance.
  • Come to the People’s Climate Mobilization 4/29, either in DC (grab a bus ticket here) or in Boston. Be a drop in the wave.
  • Or if you prefer, go to the March for Science 4/22, an event with considerable overlap of interest with the Climate march. In either of these events, there will be plenty of folks with clipboards or apps trying to get people to dig even deeper.

I am uncomfortable as an enviro lifestyle-monger — all have fallen short of the glory, after all — but surely there are ways we can change behavior to reduce demand for destructive things. You are not the only one: People make conscientious choices all the time. And you don’t have to convert your whole lifestyle all at once: Make one change at a time. Like those ads on the Sox radio broadcasts … “It all starts with just one thing.” Whatever your next lifestyle tweak you could make … now would be a great time to do it.

I compare the energy in the climate/enviro movement to the health care mobilization, and I’m often a little disappointed that it doesn’t come up with the same urgency. We seem to have forgotten what it was like without environmental protection. My aspiration is that climate and environmental concerns may burrow deep into the culture — so that it’s ubiquitous, pervasive, and simply shapes the decisions we make every day. In the long term that will defeat Trump and Pruitt, regardless of what rottenness they have in store now.

Internet Privacy: A Chance for Massachusetts to Confound the National GOP

Last year, President Obama’s Federal Communications Commission ruled that broadband providers may not sell information about their customers’ internet browsing habits without permission.

But last Monday, the President scrapped that rule, signing into law a bill that had been approved in both chambers of Congress (on strict party-line votes) to allow telecommunications giants like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to collect and sell that information, notwithstanding any objections from us, its source.

Now this privacy battle has moved to the state level:  Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota and Montana have been pursuing ways to restore the privacy protections that were jettisoned by the Republicans in D.C.

And as of Friday, Massachusetts has joined them.  Republican Senator Bruce Tarr, joined by his five Senate GOP colleagues, has filed legislation to prohibit broadband providers from using or selling their customers’ internet histories without permission, and several Democratic lawmakers have already signed on as co-sponsors.  Let’s hear it for bipartisanship.

You can help to get this bill moving in the State House by calling your Senator and Representative and asking them to co-sponsor Senate Docket 2157: An Act to Secure Internet Security and Privacy.  Contact info here.

The Master of Redirection: Tomahawk Strike Likely Cynical

Is Trump trying to take the RussiaGate issue away from the Democrats? - promoted by hesterprynne

The next time someone says the New York Times is biased against Trump, show them the past few days’ headlines and articles in the aftermath of the Syria Tomahawk strike. The Times blares – without any sense of caution or reason – that Trump was shocked into action by the chemical attack. I cannot claim to know whether his shock was genuine.

I do know that I have eyes, ears, and a memory: Trump displayed no such revulsion after 2013 Syrian chemical attack on children. Why the sudden “shock” now? Should we simply accept that his “shock” this time is the actual reason for his decision to strike? I don’t think so.

We still have our sense of reason, no matter what media outlet spoon-feeds us this line, no matter what self-interested foreign policy analysts gush that this makes Trump a real president. (John Heilemann and many others)

We are expected to suddenly forget all of the bizarre connections between Trump cronies and Russia, to forget about all of the lies about these connections that persisted until the Trump cronies were forced to admit that they in fact had multiple direct contacts with Russian intelligence, and then finally to pretend that a few Tomahawk missiles falling on asphalt (after warning Russia ahead of time) would not create a public relations distance between Trump and Russia that would be remarkably convenient to Mr. Trump.

To say that some of us are skeptical is an understatement.