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.

Report from the western front: Dave Eggers at a Trump rally

In which the author spends an afternoon he will never get back at a Trump rally in Sacramento, and files the following intriguing report for the Guardian. Among other points, he explains the baseball hat as a shield for Trump’s baldness and solution to the problem of his weave blowing in the wind at airports. Perhaps this has long been obvious to others, but it was an explicatory revelation for me.

And then it came together. I’d been watching Trump’s speech, hearing the crowd laugh and cheer and have a good time in the early evening sun, and all along I’d been trying to put my finger on what the rally reminded me of. And now, my head back in the 1980s, it hit me: Andrew Dice Clay. He might not be familiar to audiences outside the US, but in the 80s, for a few years, he was the most popular comedian in America. He would come out looking like the Fonz – in jeans, a leather jacket and a white T-shirt – and he’d tell jokes that were politically incorrect but often very funny. His posture was that of a braggy thug from Brooklyn, saying crude things on the street corner. At the height of his fame, he could sell out stadiums.

It was just an act, of course. But like a lot of comedy, the appeal is in the forbidden delight in hearing highly inappropriate things spoken into a microphone. We can’t believe someone said that, on stage, or behind a podium, to so many.

For a year now, pollsters, the media and the world at large have been baffled by the fact that no incendiary or asinine thing Trump says or tweets seems to make any dent in his appeal. He has broadcast countless statements that would sink any other candidate. (In his Sacramento speech, he repeatedly called the US a “third world country”, which would be the end of any other campaign in American history.) And for a year we’ve all assumed that when Trump said something xenophobic or sexist or offensive to the world’s billion Muslims, or the world’s billion Catholics (remember when he took on the pope?), or to the world’s 3.5 billion women, it must mean that his supporters agree with his newest outrageous statement.

But this is not true. Something very different is happening. His supporters are not really listening to anything he says. They cheer when he says he’ll help the veterans, they cheer when he says he’ll build a wall, but ultimately they do not care what he says. They don’t care if he actually will build a wall. If Trump decided, tomorrow, to reverse himself on the idea of building a wall, his supporters would shrug and their support would not waver. He has been for gun control and against gun control. He has stated his support for Planned Parenthood and for the idea of criminal punishment for women who seek abortions. He has called the Iraq war, and most of our adventures in the Middle East, mistakes, but has said he would carpet bomb Isis. He has reversed himself on nearly every major issue, often in the same week, and has offered scant specifics on anything in particular – though in Sacramento, about infrastructure, he did say, “We’re gonna have new roads, bridges, all that stuff”.

In line with this theory, the crowd vanishes before the end of the routine:

Believing that Trump’s supporters are all fascists or racists is a grave mistake. This day in Sacramento presented a different picture, of a thousand or so regular people who thought it was pretty cool how Trump showed up in a plane with his name on it. How naughty it was when he called the president “stupid”. How funny it was when he said the word “huge” the peculiar way he does, without the “h” (the audience yelled back “uuuuge!”, laughing half with him, half at him). In the same way we rooted for Clay a few years ago when he showed up as an actual actor in a Woody Allen movie, the audience at a Trump rally is thinking, How funny would it be if this guy were across the table from Angela Merkel? That would be classic.

Americans who have voted for Trump in the primaries have done so not because they agree with all, or any, of his statements or promises, but because he is an entertainment. He is a loud, captivating distraction and a very good comedian. His appeal is aided by these rallies, and by media coverage, and both are fuelled not by substance but by his willingness to say crazy shit. Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager, has insisted that they “let Trump be Trump” and the wisdom of the strategy is undeniable. As long as he continues to say crazy shit, he will continue to dominate the news and will continue to attract crowds. The moment he ceases to entertain – to say crazy shit – he will evaporate.

Or even before that, people could just get bored. This happened in Sacramento. Just over halfway through his speech, people started leaving. Twenty-five minutes in, he had begun to repeat himself, and he’d started looking down at the podium, reading dubious statistics about Sacramento’s economic situation. People didn’t care. At one point he read from an article he said he’d clipped from a newspaper. He was getting too specific, and the entertainment value was sinking.

People from the front of the crowd started making their way back, and out. It started with the elderly woman in the Veterans of Foreign Wars hat. She, and the two people helping her, squeezed their way through the throng and into the darkness of the hangar. This began a steady flow of the departing. These people had arrived at 4pm, had waited three hours and now, at 7.30pm, they were leaving. Trump was still talking, but they were not worried about missing anything he would say, because they did not care. They had seen him, heard the zingers, taken a picture or two, and now they were heading to the parking lot, to get a head start on the traffic.

By the time Trump finished, there was no one behind me. Most of the hangar was empty. The only people left were the few hundred outside, pressed against the barricades, waiting for him to sign their posters and hats. As he moved down the line, as the sun finally set and the night finally cooled, the song playing, just as poignantly as it had when he arrived, was “Tiny Dancer”.

Did Trump Fake His Bill of Good Health?

John Miller, represent! - promoted by Bob_Neer

Rumor is circulating that Trump faked his accountant’s signature on his tax documents during the 80′s in service of tax fraud. Dishonest, but maybe not the worst quality in a President.

I have a more fundamental question: Is Trump mentally unsound? Did Trump fake his doctor’s note? Last year he gave the world a note saying he would be the “healthiest individual ever elected President.” But as Salon pointed out, the note was written in a uniquely Trumpian fashion and screwed up even the simple phrase “To Whom It May Concern”.

And, something Salon didn’t notice: the website on the letter, www.haroldbornsteinmd.com, is a fake.

Does anybody actually want this pipeline?

One natural gas pipeline — Kinder Morgan’s so-called NED — has been withdrawn; but the Access Northeast pipeline that would go through the south of the state through Weymouth to the bay, is still alive. The utilities, and the Baker administration, want ratepayers to pay for it.

The Attorney General is trying to put the brakes on:

Last year, state Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat, released a study saying additional gas capacity was not needed. Assistant Attorney General Kerry Strayer read a statement from Healey. Strayer says the companies’ requests raise a host of legal issues and urged the DPU to delay going forward with them.

“On May 5, the Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments regarding the department’s [DPU] authority under state law to approve gas contracts executed by electric companies,” Strayer said. “Given the legal uncertainty regarding the department’s authority the Attorney General’s Office has moved the department to stay these proceedings, DPU 15-181 Eversource and DPU 16-05 National Grid, until the SJC issues its decision. The department is yet to rule on the AGO’s motions and is moving forward with these proceedings.”

via Mass. AG And Opponents Fight Electric Bill Charge To Fund Pipeline | WAMC.

Now, some 91 legislators opposed a pipeline charge for the NED. Yet somehow all the House amendments — bipartisan! — that would have prevented those charges to pay for the Spectra pipeline, were stripped out.

So the “pipeline tax” doesn’t seem that popular. A bipartisan group of legislators opposes it. The necessity of the pipeline itself is dubious. There’s vigorous local opposition.

What’s the point again, Governor?

Massachusetts has one of the Highest Levels of Income Inequality in the Country...

Discuss. (Oh, you were doing that already. Carry on, then.) - promoted by david

From a new report from Economic Policy Institute (EPI): http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2016/06/16/few-states-match-mass-income-inequality/wMIQkxtzUlwP4ZS4SN0khP/story.html?event=event25

* Top earners (1%) in MA make about 30 times as much as the bottom 99% – that’s higher than 44 other states.

* From 2009 to 2013 (latest data available), top-earning households (1%) claimed 83 cents of every new dollar created by the economy.

Groups like Raise Up have been doing great work on this issue, and are making real progress.  I’m working with a group called FairShot.com that is helping in this effort.  But more work needs to be done.

We need our elected leaders to stand up and make this a priority.  This is not just an issue for Governor Baker.  We have strong Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate.  We need to hold them accountable, and make sure this is an urgent – repeat urgent – focus going forward.

History shows that income inequality is not inevitable.  We significantly lowered the level of inequality in the middle of the 20th century, with a smart mix of progressive policies.  With the right political will, we could do so again and Massachusetts could lead the way for the nation.

But for now, Massachusetts remains near the historic high-water mark of inequality, according to the EPI report – which shows that we are roughly “as unequal as we were at the height of the roaring twenties, before the fall into the great depression.”

That has to change.


Field Notes from the State House: The "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" List

With the Legislature’s 2015-2016 session down to its last six weeks, it’s time to begin recording casualties — bills that just aren’t going to make it into law.  The list is not a short one, so we better get started.

First up: a bill to close a loophole in state campaign finance law. The loophole in question was first discovered and used to great advantage by former gubernatorial candidate and now-Governor Baker.  It allows state political figures to pay state expenses with federally-raised money and to avoid disclosing the source of money spent on campaigns for state party membership.

The bill to close the loophole was filed by Senator Jamie Eldridge with the backing of Common Cause following an April decision by the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance that the Baker campaign’s use of these funding practices does not violate current state law. Because Senator Eldridge’s bill was filed after the January 2015 deadline for legislation to be considered automatically, both the Senate and House had to agree to allow it to move forward. The Senate has done so, but the House has not.

More evidence of the oft-rumored bromance between the Governor and the Speaker?  It’s pretty hard, for example, to imagine GOP Governor Romney receiving this sort of consideration.

The Speaker insists to the contrary, telling the Globe through his spokesman that the sole reason for the bill’s lack of progress is its late filing date. “With rare exception, the House generally does not fast-track late-filed legislation, especially with eight weeks left.” Well, OK — and there’s no man behind any Green Curtain that we must not pay attention to.

There may be other reasons why the Speaker is letting the clock run out on this bill. For one thing, the loophole is available to both parties, not just to the GOP. For another thing, the Republican state committee elections on which Baker’s folks spent $300,000 in undisclosed contributions resulted in the defeat of many socially conservative GOP party members. Their ouster helped to smooth the way for the Governor to signal his acceptance of the transgender public accommodations bill (assuming that it reaches his desk). With Baker’s opposition eliminated, the Speaker also had a much easier time of things with that troublesome piece of legislation. What’s not to like about this new GOP state committee?

Congratulations to Secretary Clinton: she wins the final primary in Washington, DC

By a crushing margin! - promoted by Bob_Neer

Margin at this point is huge. At a few minutes before 3AM, the margin is currently 78.7% to 21.1%. Congratulations!