Help an Independent Blog Out (in Western Mass)

A worthy cause. Why not subscribe to BMG, while you're at it? A very reasonable $3.99 a month, or $39.99 a year, gets you a spiffy BMG badge by your user name, an ad-free experience, and the satisfaction that you are helping us stay afloat. - promoted by david

Dear BMG Community:

I wanted to share with all of you that my blog, Western Mass Politics & Insight has just kicked off a fundraising campaign to get us through a particularly busy election cycle this year in the Greater Springfield area.

For those of you who do not know, we have no fewer than four competitive legislative primaries and a district attorney’s primary to be followed by two competitive senate general elections.That is on top of the statewide races, which I have been covering as much as possible up to this point. Check out the campaign’s kickoff video to see just a smattering of what WMassP&I has done and what is before it this year.

I'm Giving John Fish a Chance. He's Starting To Win Me Over With His Olympic Pitch

"We can’t rest on our laurels." Amen. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Yes siree, like everyone else I rolled my eyes and laughed when I heard about John Fish from Suffolk Construction leading the charge to bring the Olympics to Boston.

But now I’m given Fish a chance. He’s pushing through despite the media’s snark and sticking with his message. If I understand it correctly the message is something like this:

Listen folks, most of the things required to host the Olympics are already in the pipeline either privately or publicly. Long term public transportation plans along with major capital improvements at our colleges and universities. By focusing on the Olympics the city can catapult itself to where it wants and where it should be years after it hosts the Olympics.

For instance, you can’t have a summer Olympics without an Olympic stadium that seats 70,000 to  80,000. We definitely don’t have one. That’s probably because we definitely don’t want one. But we do want a soccer stadium that seats 20,000 – 30,000 fans. According to Fish a permanent soccer stadium can be built with temporary seating to accommodate the Olympics. (I for one favor the Somerville or Revere site for a soccer stadium but those locations may not work for the Olympics. How do you say Revere in 137 languages?)

The Charles River is a no go for rowing events because of the bridges but Lake Quinsigamond in Worcester is rated one of the top rowing venues in the country That appears to be the only event that has to be exported and if you pay attention to the Olympics a 50 minute ride is nothing for an event or two.

Of course I’m not sold but this is more than a rich guy suckering us in like Robert Preston in the Music Man. The flip side is because Fish runs one of the few big time construction companies in the area he has a good feel for many of the big projects being planned. Especially those on the drawing boards at the local colleges and universities, integral for venues and the Olympic Village.

And if the city doesn’t get  the Olympics great. Look at how much we’ve invested in transportation, infrastructure, and other such stuff that will keep this city hoping for another 50 years.

Quincy Market opened 40 years ago and suddenly Boston was a tourist destination. I’m serious. before that the city sucked. The sun never shone. Everyone spent their days smoking, drinking coffee, reading the Herald, and playing the number with their bookie. Plus we drank constantly.

We can’t rest on our laurels.

The Boston Globe is reporting that US Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire raised more than $2.8m in the 2nd quarter.

- promoted by Bob_Neer

The Boston Globe is reporting that US Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire raised more than $2.8m in the 2nd quarter and has more than $5 million on-hand. Carpetbagger Scott Brown has not yet reported his fundraising but the deadline for reporting is July 15th. If you are like me, please take a moment to simply enjoy the Schadenfreude.

Abolishing the Gov Council & Rebooting the LG

Hurray for abolishing the Governor's Council, a hackish legacy of the hated British imperial system that the real tea party patriots fought to overthrow. - promoted by Bob_Neer

As next in line to serve as Governor in the absence or death of the current Governor, the Lieutenant Governor’s current role can be crucial. However, the position can be so much more than that.

What I propose is that the LG serve a truly #2 position as Chief Operating Officer of the Commonwealth.
I believe the best approach would be to codify the changing role in the Commonwealth’s Constitution, and will push strongly for the change to be made. But I won’t sit on my hands until then.

Details below the fold:

Why Gay Marriage Is Winning, and Other Fights are Not

An argument ... - promoted by Bob_Neer

This was a very provocative, and I think, instructive argument in The Daily Beast, written in the wake of the Hobby Lobby ruling focusing on how, in just ten years, gay marriage has gone from a radical social experiment brought forth via an activist judiciary in a liberal state, to a growing national consensus. At the same time, support for reproductive rights has gone from a bipartisan issue with broad popular support to a state by state history of defeat that neatly mirrors the state by state successes of the marriage equality movement. The author posits ten reasons why this is the case, but I would say the three are the following and could be cross-applied to other progressives issues:

4. Rights Lose. In addition to lacking compelling personal narratives, the “pro-choice” frame is itself a loser. This is why LGBT activists don’t use the term “gay rights” anymore: because no one likes them. In the nineties, “gay rights” came to mean “special rights,” which may be ridiculous, but which was a successful opposing frame. As with the act/identity dichotomy, “rights” also isn’t existential enough to persuade people. So LGBT activists changed their tune, shifting from rights-talk to love-talk, equality-talk, language about basic humanity. Gloria Steinem famously said that feminism is, at its core, humanism. But this message hasn’t trickled through. Many Americans still think reproductive justice is about the act of abortion, rather than the humanity of women.

Groups like Freedom to Marry and Marriage Equality USA had more success than the Human Rights Campaign, since they equated gay marriage with basic freedoms any human being should be entitled to under an American view of equality and liberty. That was a lot more affirmative and positive, asking for freedom from government interference (casting it in a libertarian light) and the same rights other people have (casting it in an anti-discrimination light).

The response to the Buffer Zone controversy is a great example of where the pro-choice movement is failing in this regard. In trying to defend the actual act of abortion it is trying to defend something a lot of people, even supporters, are uncomfortable talking about, rather than the broader concern that women in general should be free from harassment, discrimination, and second class treatment in modern America. Focusing on the women going into clinics to get basic services like cancer screenings, check-ups, etc. and emphasizing the full range of services women are now getting denied access to in more restrictive states or may be harassed for getting in our own backyard, is the better frame for this issue. And it may be time for the older generation that fought the battles for sexual liberation to recognize that the pitch that plays in Peoria isn’t a condescending slogan like ‘get your rosaries off my ovaries’ but something far more inclusive like ‘every woman deserves to see her doctor when she wants to’.

7. Capitalism. Because LGBT equality has been successfully framed in the context of discrimination and fairness, and because it has many privileged male champions, it has been easy for corporations to line up behind it, and reap the financial rewards of being seen as pro-gay. Sure, there are a few anti-gay outliers: Chick-Fil-A, Hobby Lobby, whatever. But this past month’s Pride festivities were like a showcase of Fortune 500 companies: banks, airlines, insurance companies. Meanwhile, I can’t think of a single A-list brand that is out, loud, and proud for reproductive freedom. That makes a big difference in terms of movement dollars and public awareness. Once again, more radical queers may bemoan the corporatization of the LGBT movement, but capitalism has a way of winning.

Casinos Fail to Meet the Moral Test

If most MA voters vote to approve casinos, as appears likely at the moment, will that make them moral? - promoted by Bob_Neer

Former Vice-president Hubert Humphrey frequently observed “The moral test of government is how it treats people in the dawn of life – the children, people in the twilight of life – the elderly, and people in the shadows of life – the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.”  This quotation is found above the entrance to the Hubert H. Humphrey Building’s offices of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Washington, D.C. where Don Berwick served as Administrator from 2010-2011.  The quote inspired Berwick’s work there and has become a touchstone of his campaign for Governor. He recites it at campaign appearances often.

When government encourages and promotes casinos as a means for economic growth, it fails to meet the moral test.  Don Berwick understands this well and is not afraid to provide the leadership necessary to defeat them.  Now that the SJC has ruled that the voters of the Commonwealth will decide the future of casinos in Massachusetts at the ballot box this November, it is up to us to follow this leadership.

The Boston Globe is the Anti-Washington Post - Judge Mulligan Can't Handle The Truth - Women's Health Rights is Campaign Issue? - Gaming Commission Asking For Law Suits - 75 State Street, Behind the Scenes

Great theater at the Moakley Courthouse this week as the cross examination of Judge Robert Mulligan in the O’Brien probation trial ramps up.

From all reports Mulligan is coming across as nothing less than a self-serving liar. His arrogance is own worst enemy. This is a man that has sat through a few thousand hearings and trials in his career. You would think he would have learned something. Like how not to get set-up to look like a nefarious fool when testifying.

Mulligan keeps answering questions on cross with an unequivocal certainty draped in an attitude of moral superiority. You would think he’d learn. Each time John O’Brien’s lawyer, Stellio Sinnis, would show Mulli a letter or document disproving his assertions he displayed an unlikable, arrogant yet hypocritical personality.

Sinnis couldn’t believe how easy Mulligan made it for him. Hollywood could not have scripted it better.

And this is just the beginning. We have yet to hear about Mulli squandering a hundred million dollars the legislature gave him for computers but he instead bought office furniture. Who cares? That’s inside baseball boring stuff. But wait until the jury hears Saint Mulligan explain why he hired Supreme Judicial Court Justice Margaret Botsford’s son-in-law the day before she was mandated to cast the deciding vote to re-appoint him as the CJAM.

Wait til Mulligan tries to explain his O’Brien-war-planning-conversations with Globe reporters, Margaret Marshall, Ronald Corbett, Paul Ware, and a host of other characters who have been portrayed by the prosecution and the media as do-gooders. The exact opposite is true and it’s apparent to those paying attention.

-

O’Brien co-defendant William Burke has been sitting in court for two months waiting to hear some evidence against him. Judge Young has been asking AUSA Fred Wyshak what’s the deal with Burke? Same for Liz Traveres. Well last week Wyshak said that the RICO statue can be used against Burke because a witness said Burke said he “wrote the book” on getting people through the hiring process.

You see Burke is retired and he can’t be linked to any hires outside the statute of limitations unless there is a “predicate act” within the statute.  Remember patronage is not a crime folks. Sorry to tell you that.

With RICO if you can find an act, not necessarily an illegal one, just an act occurring within the statute of limitations you can go after anything that happened before the statute the ran. That statement means Burke is facing 20 years.

Casino Town Hall With Don Berwick

Ironic that a town hall meeting to hear "cogent arguments against Casinos" is held in an establishment -- a bar -- that was prohibited at one point in US history on moral grounds. But I digress. - promoted by Bob_Neer

For those of you who are undecided or aren’t sure which candidate they should support.  As you know, Dr. Berwick is the only one on the Democratic Ballot for governor who opposes Casinos for Ma.

A CASINO TOWN HALL will be held at Doyle’s Cafe, 3484 Washington St in Jamaica Plain Mon, July 7th at 7pm.  If you haven’t heard cogent arguments against Casinos, this is an opportunity to do so.  Further it is an opportunity to size up this candidate as a potential governor.

I am sure he will take questions from those who attend.  Hope you can make it.

Joke Revue: "Republican Supreme Court majority calls case a dispute between women and people"

Borowitz:

SUPREME COURT MAJORITY CALLS CASE A DISPUTE BETWEEN WOMEN AND PEOPLE

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—By a 5–4 vote on Monday, the United States Supreme Court settled a dispute that Justice Samuel Alito said was “at its core about the rights of women versus the rights of people.”

Writing for the majority, Justice Alito wrote, “It is the duty of this Court, whenever it sees that the rights of people are being threatened, to do our best to safeguard those rights. In this case, it is clear that people’s rights were being threatened by women.”

Acknowledging that some women “might argue that they, too, have some claim to being people,” Justice Alito wrote, “That is an interesting question for another day.”

While the Court’s decision caused an uproar across the country, it received a big thumbs-up from one of the Justices who voted with the majority, Antonin Scalia.

“This has been a crappy year or so around here, what with all that gay-marriage stuff, but at least we finished strong,” he said.

PEOPLE WHO CALL OBAMA WORST PRESIDENT SINCE SECOND WORLD WAR ALSO BLAME HIM FOR STARTING IT

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)— A new poll released Wednesday revealed that people rank President Barack Obama as the worst President since the Second World War, and also blame him for starting the Second World War.

While the respondents slammed the President for his handling of the economy, Iraq, and a host of other issues, his perceived role as the primary cause of the Second World War was the biggest drag on his numbers. …

“Fair or not, the American people hold the President responsible for starting the Second World War,” Davis Logsdon, a political-science professor at the University of Minnesota, said. “If the President hasn’t gotten his version of the story out, there’s only one person to blame for that: Barack Obama.”

In other poll results, the most popular President in the survey was Ronald Reagan, widely credited with ending the Second World War.

ABUSE OF POWER BY GIGANTIC CORPORATION COMES AS TOTAL SURPRISE

MENLO PARK (The Borowitz Report)—Millions of Americans awoke on Monday to the shocking news that a gigantic corporation with unprecedented power over their lives had allegedly abused that power for commercial gain.

Across the United States, stunned consumers were shaking their heads in disbelief after learning that a gargantuan company whose explicit goal is to make as many billions of dollars as possible through any means available would put its own interests ahead of those of its customers.

“It never would have occurred to me that an enormous corporation with the ability to track over half a billion customers would ever exploit that advantage in any way,” said Harland Dorrinson, twenty-nine, a caterer from Albuquerque. “Like a lot of other people, I feel used.”

Carol Foyler, thirty-eight, a human-resources administrator from Pittsburgh, echoed the reactions of many who were blindsided by the news. “I definitely feel like I’ve lost my innocence today,” she said. “If you can’t trust a multi-billion-dollar corporation to do the right thing, who can you trust?”

Daniel Kurtzman:

“If our Founding Fathers wanted us to care about the rest of the world, they wouldn’t have declared their independence from it.” -Stephen Colbert

When in the course of human events...

Front-paged for the 9th straight year. As you celebrate America's Independence Day today, take a moment to keep the people around the world who are trying to secure the blessings of liberty in your thoughts. Since the older versions of this post appeared on earlier versions of the blog, the comment threads from years past don't appear here, but can be seen here and here. - promoted by david

Read it and weep.  Seriously.  Happy 230th 231st 232nd 233rd 234th 235th 236th 237th 238th, America.  An image of the original document is in the extended.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.  Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.  And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Single Payer in MA - How Do We Get There?

A great question, from one of our very knowledgeable commentators on matters like this. IMHO, it would behoove Don Berwick to make plain the details of his strategy to implement single payer in Massachusetts as soon as possible. - promoted by david

It seems to me that a common mindset on this blog is that it would be nice for Boston to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, but that there are so many questions regarding the costs of such an event that without a solid framework on where the revenue will come from, its hard to really support the idea.  I think its a reasonable view and one that I agree with.  However, I have to wonder why the same rationale doesn’t apply to a single payer health care program.

Vermont has laid the groundwork for adopting a single payer system.  But from what I understand, Vermont has not yet found a way to pay for it.  I’ve seen estimates that implementing the plan will cost close to $2 billion annually.  To put that in perspective, Vermont is a state where the total amount of revenue (both taxes and fees) collected in fiscal year 2013 was just over $5 billion and where close to 90% of the population already has health insurance.  Its easy to point to Vermont as a success story, but the path to success still seems long and riddled with pitfalls.

In Massachusetts, almost 80% of the commercial health insurance market falls under 3 companies – BCBS of MA, HPHC, and Tufts.  Taking a deeper dive into one of those entities, Harvard Pilgrim makes up almost 20% of the market and (based on its publicly available annual statement) collected almost $1.7 billion in MA premiums from over 300,000 plan members and paid out over $1.5 billion in medical expenses (including hospital expenses, professional services, referrals, and prescriptions).  If $1.5 billion in costs represents 20% of the commercial market, then the total commercial market that would need to be replaced by a single payer system is at least $7.5 billion in new expenses (and that’s just paying the direct expenses, not including administrative/overhead expenses).  The total revenue collected by the state of Massachusetts in FY 14 was just over $23 billion.  Don Berwick’s website promises the creation of a panel to determine how to “get to yes” on single payer but doesn’t contain any specifics on where the 33% increase in tax revenue would come from.

Of course there are a lot of other logistical questions that would need to be determined.  But I think the most important threshold question (and one that proponents of single payer should be expected to answer) is: Where does the $7.5 billion+ annually come from?

 

In breaking news along the line of "Water is wet", Romney endorses Scott Brown in New Hampshire...

fredrichlariccia appropriately quotes Goethe in the comments: “Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action.” - promoted by Bob_Neer

While watching MSNBC this afternoon, you would have thought that this was an event to rival the discovery of the missing plane in the Indian Ocean, but breaking news: “Mitt Romney endorses Scott Brown in New Hampshire“.

It was truly a battle Royal (pun intended) of the empty suits in New Hampshire today!