Joke Revue: "Cheney to Lead Torture-Pride March"

Borowitz:

Cheney to Lead Torture-Pride March

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” on Sunday, former Vice-President Dick Cheney told host Chuck Todd that he was “sick and tired of Americans being ashamed of our beautiful legacy of torture” and that he was organizing the first “National Torture-Pride March” to take place in Washington in January.

“This is a chance for all of us torturers to say, ‘Look at us, this is who we are,’” Cheney, who will be the Grand Marshall of the parade, said. …

“We’ll be there to say, ‘We’re torturers and we’re damn proud of it—join us,’” Cheney said.

Cheney Calls for International Ban on Torture Reports

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Former Vice-President Dick Cheney on Tuesday called upon the nations of the world to “once and for all ban the despicable and heinous practice of publishing torture reports.”

“Like many Americans, I was shocked and disgusted by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s publication of a torture report today,” Cheney said in a prepared statement. “The transparency and honesty found in this report represent a gross violation of our nation’s values.”

“The publication of torture reports is a crime against all of us,” he added. “Not just those of us who have tortured in the past, but every one of us who might want to torture in the future.” …

Should there be a referendum on hosting the Olympics? Of course.

An interesting question arose in this thread on the question whether there should be a referendum in Boston, or in Massachusetts, on hosting the Olympics.  After all, we don’t ordinarily put public policy questions, even pretty big ones, on the ballot.  Why should we do so in the case of the Olympics?

Right off the bat, a couple of reasons occur to me.

  • In democratic countries, a referendum on hosting the Olympics appears to be fairly standard practice.  Consider: Berlin, another possible 2024 host, is committed to “a vote for all Berliners to decide.”  Similarly, several of the countries that have withdrawn their bids to host the 2022 Winter Olympics have done so because the question failed at the ballot.  Oslo, Krakow, Munich, and Davos/St. Moritz all withdrew (or declined to bid) after voters rejected the idea of hosting the games.
  • Famously, the only two remaining cities competing to host the 2022 games are Beijing and Almaty (Kazakhstan).  Guess what?  ”No public referendums are being held in Beijing or Almaty.”
  • Hosting a casino has some aspects in common with hosting the Olympics (of course there are differences too).  Among them, the possibilities of a lot of traffic, a lot of people from outside the community descending, crowds, security issues, and so forth.  And as you know, the Massachusetts casino law – itself just approved by a ballot question – provides for a vote in any community in which a casino might be built.
  • It’s politically stupid not to hold a referendum.  A positive result allows backers to proclaim that the public is behind the bid, without fear of contradiction.  Whereas relying on polls, or on elected officials, can and will always be second-guessed.

For all these reasons, Marty Walsh’s statement to WGBH regarding a referendum strikes me as, frankly, bizarre.  Here’s what he said (starts at 13:10):

ADAM REILLY: Do you think that there should be some sort of a citywide vote on whether residents of Boston want the games here?

MARTY WALSH: I don’t know that I necessarily think that we need a vote on it.  There has been some dialogue, probably not enough dialogue, we probably should’ve had more dialogue, and there will be a lot more dialogue if we get to the next round, but I don’t necessarily think we need to have a vote on it.  I’ve seen polling numbers where a majority of Boston are in favor of the Olympics.

Walsh goes on to explain that he hasn’t heard from very many people in opposition.  But obviously, the number of residents from whom he personally has or has not heard isn’t especially relevant.  And, as I’ve already said, polling numbers can be, will be, and in fact already are being, debated and disputed.

Seems to me Boston should be more like Berlin, Oslo, Munich, and the other cities that have held or will hold referenda on hosting the Olympics, and less like Beijing and Almaty.  I frankly can’t imagine what the case against a public referendum would be.  So come on, Boston 2024 and Mayor Walsh, just back a referendum.  Then everyone will know that you mean it when you say that you only want to have the Olympics in Boston if the people are behind it.

Senator Warren's speech on Citigroup and the Wall Street bailout

This speech, delivered shortly before the House passed the CRomnibus bill that reinstated the possibility of taxpayer-funded bailouts for banks engaged in derivatives trading – a provision that nobody in Congress will admit to actually being in favor of, is well worth watching.  Senator Warren is really hitting her stride.  Good timing.

Kate's Holiday Party - EDubs en Route

The event of the season, to be sure! - promoted by david

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Yet another update. Senator Warren is on her way. She was able to get a flight out of DC and is planning on stopping by. We don’t have an ETA but we are optimistic that all will work out.
UPDATE: Due to U. S. Senate votes, Senator Warren is unable to get to Massachusetts. Earlier today, I heard from Maura Healey, our Attorney General Elect that she will be joining us.

A special theme this year is celebrating BMG’s tenth anniversary. BMGers typically attend in force, although it is not exclusively a BMG event.

You’re all invited. Please join me at 17 Gary Circle in Westborough from 2 to 6 PM. It’s a football friendly, family friendly open house with people coming and going throughout the afternoon. I’ve got coat racks and a sign-in table set up in the garage. Children’s games are in the basement. It’s not for the claustrophobic. One BMGer told me that she came once and she’s glad she came, but she doesn’t plan to come again. Maybe she’s changed her mind and is ready to brave the crowds.

Expected guests include: Secretary of State Bill Galvin, Auditor Suzanne Bump, Treasurer Elect Deb Goldberg, Attorney General Elect Maura Healey, Congressman Jim McGovern, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, State Senators Jamie Eldridge, Tom McGee and Sal DiDomenico, State Reps Jen Benson, Carolyn Dykema, Paul Heroux, Kate Hogan, Chris Walsh and Representative elect Camine Gentile; District Attorney Marian Ryan, Governor’s Councilors: Marilyn Petitto Devaney, Bob Jubinville; Worcester County Register of Deed Tony Vigliotti. I’m pleased to mention that several people who ran for statewide office last year plan to join us: Joe Avellone, Mike Lake, Leland Cheung and James Arena DeRosa are all planning on stopping by. It’s a holiday open house with candidates coming and going like everyone else.

An added incentive to come to the holiday party is the chance to get a Democrat elected to a seat that is currently held by a Republican. Folks can knock on a few doors and then head over to my place for the big holiday party! I’ve created a separate facebook event for that. Both current Party Chair Senator Tom McGee and previous Party Chair John Walsh are planning on pre-party canvassing. I’ll be talking more about that race once we get through the holiday party. Instead of looking back at the Governor’s race, look forward to this winnable race. There are lots of voters to talk with out here. We’ve seen the poster around from Elizabeth Warren. “We can whimper, we can whine, we can fight back. Me? I’m fighting back.” RSVP here if you want to fight back and elect an outstanding Democrat, Jason Palitsch to this seat. While you are checking it out, like him on facebook as well.

Home of Kate Donaghue and Kim Simpson
17 Gary Circle
Westborough, MA 01581
Sunday, December 14 from 2 to 6 PM.
RSVP on facebook or directly to me at KateDonaghue AT aol DOT com.

Everyone is welcome. We are about a mile from the Westborough Commuter Rail station. We’ll arrange for a pickup for anyone who wants to come by train. Please note that street parking gets problematic. I’m encouraging people to park at the Middle School if possible. It’s at 20 Fisher Street in Westborough, just a couple of minutes walk.

Are you in? Let folks know!

"What the Heck" is going on at Boston.com

The newspaper appears to be at BostonGlobe.com now. Having said that, Boston.com features its fabulous investigation of Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman, who appears to have been a serial online harasser of small local businesses for trivial sums. Hilary Sargent is superb in "There’s More: Edelman Did This Before, And Worse" - promoted by Bob_Neer

Remember when you could actually read news on Boston.com?

Now it feels like the herald; want to know the latest on Marky Mark, or have felt the need to debate online if you should buy your hookup a present for the holidays? Well, I found a great place for you Boston.com.

But that is not the worst part of the site, it’s the painfully moronic “What the Heck” headlines.

heck

I got one, what the heck are you doing? Please make it stop.

Massachusetts Delegation Says No to the Cromnibus

Bravo to the MA delegation for standing united against this awful bill. The notion of major policy changes being wrapped up in "must-pass" legislation to keep the government functioning should be appalling to everyone on both sides of the aisle. - promoted by david

Last night, the House passed the so-called “CRomnibus”–part continuing resolution, part omnibus bill, part Pentagon slush fund, part austerity, and part rollback of the regulatory state.

Although they are far from the only toxic pieces of the deal, negotiated by Democratic and Republican appropriators, the two pieces that have faced the most criticism from Democrats have been the part gutting campaign finance laws and the part promising to bail out the banks when they lose money from risky trades (a part that was, in fact, written almost entirely by Citigroup). Our senator Elizabeth Warren has spoken eloquently and forcefully against this effort to partially repeal Dodd-Frank.

However, the toxicity of the deal did not end there:

But there’s so much more to the CRomnibus than just those two riders. Under the bill, trustees would be enabled to cut pension benefits to current retirees, reversing a 40-year bond with workers who earned their retirement packages. Voters in the District of Columbia who approved legalized marijuana will see their initiative vaporized, with local government prohibited from taxing or regulating the drug’s sale. Trucking companies can make roads less safe by giving their employees 82-hour work weeks without sufficient rest breaks. Pell grants for college students will be cut, with the money diverted to private student loan contractors who have actively harmed borrowers. Government financiers of overseas projects will be prevented from stopping funding for coal-fired power plants. Blue Cross and Blue Shield will be allowed to count “quality improvement” measures toward their mandatory health spending under Obamacare’s “medical loss ratio” provision, a windfall saving them millions of dollars.

Wahlberg update: one of his victims backs a pardon

Not sure why a British tabloid was first on this story, but there you go: the Daily Mail found Johnny (Hoa) Trinh, the guy Mark Wahlberg punched in the eye, and ascertained that Trinh supports Wahlberg’s pardon application.

In an exclusive interview with Mail Online Trinh said he is happy for Wahlberg to be given a pardon saying: ‘He was young and reckless but I forgive him now. Everyone deserves another chance.

‘I would like to see him get a pardon. He should not have the crime hanging over him any longer.’

Trinh added that he would like to meet Wahlberg face to face to tell him he does not bear a grudge.

Interestingly, the Daily Mail also reveals (I think for the first time, and contrary to every other account of the event that I’ve seen) that Wahlberg’s attack actually did not cause any lasting damage: Trinh was already blind in his left eye when Wahlberg punched him.

One has to admire Trinh’s spirit of forgiveness.  And certainly, Wahlberg’s pardon request seems stronger with one of his victims backing it.  But I’d still like to see Wahlberg deliver personal apologies to all of his victims before his application is taken seriously, and I still find it unsettling that a movie star seems to be the first person in many years to have committed a violent crime in Massachusetts and then have a pardon application taken seriously. UPDATE: Alert BMGer kayceecee correctly points out that, in fact, Governor Patrick has approved a pardon for True See Allah, who was convicted in 1991 of armed assault with intent to murder (the assault left the victim paralyzed).  That pardon is presently before the Governor’s Council for its approval.  Of the four pardons approved by Patrick, that is the only one involving a violent crime.

Senator Mark Udall sounds a warning on the CIA

Guardian:

A day after the Senate intelligence committee released 500 pages of its voluminous 6,700-page inquiry into CIA torture, Senator Mark Udall called upon Barack Obama “to purge his administration of high-level officials” complicit in the Bush-era torture program.

That purge, he said, should include the CIA director, John Brennan, a confidant of Obama whom Udall said the president had declined to rein in during a long clash with the Senate intelligence committee. Udall first called on Brennan to resign in August, after Brennan conceded that agency officials had inappropriately accessed emails and work product of Senate torture investigators on a shared network. …

“Director Brennan and the CIA today are continuing to willfully provide inaccurate information and misrepresent the efficacy of torture.

Here is a summary video:


Here is the full video.

The CIA has a long history of misleading the president and other branches of government to protect itself. It typically promises to try to do better in the future, and has never been seriously brought to task for this behavior. If history and president Obama’s recent statement on the subject are any guide, it will not suffer any significant impact for its deceit and incompetence in this instance either. Perhaps the agency has become stronger than the elected branches of the government. In any event, the consequence is a weakening of our system of government.

How does a community say "no" to the Olympics?

Bumped, for glory. Given Boston 2024's Soviet-like levels of transparency, maybe the operative question is how they say "nyet." - promoted by Bob_Neer

This is really the $64,000 question, right?  Two Globe columnists – Shirley Leung and Joan Vennochi – have reported that Boston 2024 head honcho Dan O’Connell is promising not to force an Olympic venue down the throat of any community that doesn’t want it.  Here’s Leung:

Boston 2024 has sketched out 33 possible sites for venues, and president Dan O’Connell vows to hold a hearing in each community where there is a proposal. If the neighborhood says no, on to the next site. If this is done right, we should all be sick of seeing the Olympic rings and talking about where the main stadium could be built.

And here’s Vennochi:

A key section of the six-part bid proposes 33 sporting venues, including many in Boston. Pressed for more public accountability, O’Connell is vowing to hold a hearing for each proposed site; if one neighborhood says no, a back-up will be picked.

OK, that all sounds great.  But Vennochi asked the critical follow-up question, namely, how does a community actually say no?

But when I asked how a neighborhood’s opposition would be determined — by a vote, for example, and by whom? — O’Connell replied, “I don’t know. We will look to the elected officials.”

Laughable, right?  In Boston, for example, apparently Mayor Walsh is already so sure that Boston residents are totally on board with the Olympics that he sees no need for a vote or anything troublesome like that.  He’s pretty sure that the only naysayers are those hippies from No Boston Olympics (his actual quote, at 13:38: “I haven’t really heard from people other than a few people from ‘No Olympics’ that have said they’re opposed to it”).  Because, you know, he saw a couple of polls a few months ago.  Wow.

As alert BMGer jcohn88 correctly points out, the existing polling is in fact far from definitive on the question.  Plus, how could the polling actually say anything meaningful at this point, since – as has been repeatedly pointed out – nobody save a tiny cadre of insiders actually knows what Boston would be signing itself up for?  If a poll’s respondents don’t actually know anything about the question they’re being asked, it’s hard to see how it can be taken as a meaningful commentary on anything.  Garbage in, garbage out.

As of now, Boston 2024′s supposed commitments to transparency and community engagement are looking like a lot of talk with very little behind them.  Even more worrisome is the current sense that certain elected officials (*cough*Marty Walsh*cough*) don’t seem terribly concerned about holding Boston 2024 to those commitments because of their own (misplaced?) certainty about what their constituents actually want.

Pay attention, folks, or this could be a done deal before most people even realized what was happening.

Seth Moulton Statement on Senate Intelligence Report

The Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s use of torture reminds us that these reprehensible practices are entirely inconsistent with our national values and detrimental to our moral leadership in the world. It also reconfirmed what most intelligence professionals have said for a long time: that torture is an ineffective way to gather information—dangerous not only to our values, to our troops, and to our national leadership, but also to our basic ability to obtain quality intelligence. I applaud those, including President Obama and Senator McCain, who have sought to curb these ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ and hope that this report forces us to reaffirm the moral and legal standards that are fundamental to our American values.

Show Us Your Polls, Marty

More like a blind date than a leap of faith, I'd say. But maybe those are the same thing? - promoted by Bob_Neer

As was written on BMG the other day, Boston 2024 had its first public appearance on Monday, and the reviews aren’t great. One of the most frequently cited parts of Boston Globe’s “Off the Page” forum on Monday was when Juliette Kayyem admitted that she has not even read the city’s bid herself.

Joan Vennochi showed her skepticism of Boston 2024 in her column in the Globe today: “The first official event of the 2024 Boston Olympics has been unveiled. It’s called leap of faith, and in true Olympic fashion, a giant one is required.”

In an interview on the Scrum yesterday, Mayor Walsh–a booster, not  skeptic–claimed that there would be no need for a vote on the Olympic bid because Bostonians already support it:

I don’t necessarily think we need to vote on it. I’ve seen polling numbers where the majority of Bostonians are in favor of the Olympics. They’re excited about the possibility of the Olympics. I haven’t really heard from anybody, other than a few people from No Boston Olympics that have said their opposed to it.

The most recent public poll that I could fine was from June, and it did not show a majority of Bostonians supporting the Olympics. It showed a very narrow plurality the Olympic bid, but the more people heard about it, the lower the support was.

Forty-seven percent back the Olympic bid, according to the survey, while 43 percent are opposed. And the gap, it seems, is only narrowing.

The Globe survey of 604 likely Massachusetts voters, conducted over the last two weeks, found support declining sharply over time — just as media coverage of the bid was ramping up.

Voters are “open to [the Olympic bid] today, but the more they think about it, the more questions they have,” said John Della Volpe, chief executive of SocialSphere Inc., which conducted the poll for the Globe.

After gauging initial support for the Olympic bid, the Globe presented respondents with the leading arguments on both sides: Backers say the Games will leave a lasting economic legacy and bind the community together, while critics argue it will squander billions better spent on education, housing, and transportation.

Hearing that, respondents’ already tenuous support for the Olympic bid turned upside down: Twice as many said they agree with the opposition’s argument.

The poll also broke down the state results by region and found that those in Metro Boston were opposed to hosting the Olympics 51% to 38%.

If Mayor Walsh has any polls indicating otherwise, he should release them. If not, maybe he should start talking with the people of Boston to find out what they think.

Congrats to Carlo Basile, Governor Baker's New Patronage Secretary - Artie T. Slowly Raising Market Basket Prices, Employee Benefits Next - Kraft Family Having Orgasms Over Thought of 2024 Olympics in Their Stadium

And after the Games are over, perhaps the stadium can be converted to a fourth casino? - promoted by Bob_Neer

So Charley Baker has named East Boston state rep Carlo Basile as his patronage secretary. He calls it something different but it’s the patronage secretary. This is the person who keeps track of the thousand plus appointments the governor makes to boards and commissions and authorities.

Now if the rep from Wellesley was made patronage secretary he’d be getting calls from people interested in the Banking Commission or the board over at UMass Medical.

When you’re the rep from East Boston like Carlo your voice mail is full of locals wanting to be on the barber commission or the state plumbing board.

But anyway, the buck stops at Carlo Basile’s door for all the administrative law judges Baker will appoint.

This should be fun to watch.

Attention Market Basket shoppers: Have you noticed the climbing prices? I have. Has Artie T. closed the deal yet? I haven’t read anything saying he has. But one thing is sure. His game of using his partners’ share of the profits (not his) to ingratiate himself with the workers, customers and friendly reletives are over.

Game over. The new creditors are watching everything. The prices are already showing it and they will continue to rise. And as for all those benefits and huge profit sharing? Gone. Artie has to play by rules now.

And of course he lost. Remember? His cousins were trying to get him to buy them out for years but he refused. Why should he have? It was easier to continue to steal from them. Then they forced the issue and Artie leveraged everything to come up with the two billion price tag.

That’s a big win for Artie S. and another step towards Artie T. being exposed further as a thief and a fraud.

—-

Bob and Jonathan Kraft are all giddy about the possibility of owning the main venue for the 2024 Olympics. Their new soccer stadium temporary outfitted for the 70,000 seat site would make the Krafts the landlord which in their hands will be parlayed into the face of the Boston Olympics.

I bet the city can cut a good deal in selling the Krafts the Frontage Road land for the soccer stadium. They probably will work out the contingent Olympic deal in original agreement.