Bernie Supporters Should Lay Off Hillary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

3.   Racial injustice.

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

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

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

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

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

A thought experiment

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

Let’s play “let’s pretend”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Battle in Brooklyn Wrap-up: Clinton v. Sanders

Now that was a debate! Of course, I think Secretary Clinton demonstrated that Senator Sanders is a decent fellow with good ideas who will be less effective than his supporters hope as president. It’s time for an experienced woman for president, in my view.

But what this most recent Democratic debate demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt is that, as Sanders said, both of these candidates on their worst days are 100 times better than any of the Republicans.

I’m surprised that Sanders is flying off to Rome on the eve of the New York primary. If I were him, I’d keep working the Empire State.

What were your reactions to the debate, now that it is done. Can the result be changed by campaigning over the next few days, or is it all over except for the counting?

Taxing Hospitals in MA. Pigs are flying.

BMG front page takes with one hand, gives with the other ... - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Before I post some big news from today, I want to discuss Partner’s business practices for a minute.

The Partners Network makes vast profits almost every year. I’m sure if you lined up all the businesses based in MA that mostly deal with MA customers, Partner’s gross profits would be very near the top — and yet goes tax free, because it’s a “non-profit.” Baloney.

It’s important to understand how this works, though. Partners is so profitable because it’s so huge, and is able to use its market leverage to force insurers to pay it more than other hospitals for the same services.

Partners then uses that market leverage to

1) Price out the small community hospitals and networks.
2) Which forces those small community hospitals and networks to start looking for a bigger fish to gobble them up.
3) And then, once gobbled up by Partners, Partners will close all the community hospital’s less-profitable units whenever there’s opportunity to force people to travel into Boston where Partners can get better insurance rates.
4) Which then means many (mostly poor people) will go without core services, since not everyone can go to Boston. No doubt Partners sees this as a feature, not a bug.
5) Rinse and repeat, as the profits increase.

All tax free. The mafia would be proud.

It’s not just Partners, either. It’s Lahey and Bay State Health and several others. Partners is just the biggest fish in the biggest Massachusetts pond, but the same thing applies to other regions of the state, and other networks that have a premier hospital, where they can max out rates on less-profitable procedures.

So, with all that said, here’s today’s big news: the legislature has agreed to a Governor Baker proposal to tax hospitals by $250 million. The tax isn’t a cash grab for government — it would go straight back to hospitals, in the form of helping fund medicaid payments, and in the process help the state get additional federal matching funds (which — let’s not kid ourselves — is the real reason this all happened).

Basically, this is a Robin Hood tax on hospitals — with the rich hospitals shifting some of their profits to struggling, largely community hospitals.

There’s the big asterisk that the House leadership demanded this tax only be in effect for 5 years, thanks to the pervasive influence of the Mass Hospital Association’s lobbyist and campaign bucks in the legislature.

We’ll have to see if that 5 year promise is kept. I have my doubts that the state will be able to keep that promise, given the cost trends and importance of federal matching grants.

In any event, this is a big win today for patients, and one of the biggest things the Governor’s done so far. We should all give Governor Baker some big kudos today; he genuinely deserves it. It’s no small deal for a Republican Governor and former health insurance CEO to raise a tax, and to raise that tax on “non profit” hospitals.

It’s just a shame that we have a Democratic leadership in the legislature that’s perfectly willing to work with a Republican Governor, when for eight years they laughed away any kind of serious proposal like this from a Democrat in the Corner Office. Imagine what else we could have done.

Baker is the Austerity Governor

It’s been said that Governor Baker might turn out to be a Frank Sargent type, an old-fashioned liberal-moderate Republican.

Well, he and his administration seem to be taking every opportunity to take from the poor and working class. Remember how he fixed DCF? Not so fast. Look at how he values them in his new budget:

In a statement that must have agitated even our preternaturally calm governor, Commissioner Linda Spears said she doesn’t have the money to take steps, such as hiring more social workers, needed to protect children in the state’s care.

More …

This budget gives the least to children who are growing the most — those in the critical birth to 5 years of age range. Our otherwise data-driven governor has apparently lost the files showing that investments in early care and education pay off. Overall, the Department of Early Education and Care gets $5 million less than last year. Grants for full-day kindergarten expansion are gone, putting at risk such programs and the children who need them. Families on waitlists for income-eligible child-care will continue to wait, since that item was not funded, either.

Many budget lines that, in past years, helped disadvantaged kids learn are empty. Empty, as in zero dollars for English Language Learners in Gateway Cities, and the hope it offered immigrant students in places like Brockton and Springfield. Empty, as in nothing for the Bay State Reading Institute, even though it has a proven track record in closing achievement gaps for English language learners and low-income students.

Because who can you pick on, if not the poor, vulnerable, and, well, the tiny?

A consistent track record emerges:

(Let’s not pretend that the House’s version is any better — in fact, it may be worse.)

Baker is going to have to decide whether to be Mr. Fixit, or Mr. Fiscal Conservative. You cannot fix the T, or DCF, or anything, on an austerity budget. There is only so far a technocratic cleverness goes. At some point you’ve got to present a vision, and get people to literally buy in.

If the T is still a mess in 2018, and if DCF is still underfunded and losing kids, and oops we forgot to have child care and kindergarten … Everyone’s going to be asking why we bothered with this guy.

Sorry Charlie

Charlie Baker had a rough night last night.  He was giving a speech at an event billed as “the 10th Annual Boston Spirit LGBT Executive Networking Night,” and he found himself unprepared for, and unable to handle, the attendees’ displeasure with his unwillingness to commit to, well, much of anything with respect to the transgender rights bill now under consideration in the legislature.  Here’s how his speech ended.

#awkward

Since his disastrous 2010 campaign for governor, Baker has generally done a good job of hiding the fact that he can be a pretty short-tempered guy who doesn’t handle criticism particularly well.  That public façade started to crack for real last night (here’s another, milder example of cracks starting to show).  Should be interesting to see where he goes from here.

Joe Boncore wins 1st Suffolk and Middlesex Special

A pity. Comment from progressivemax: "As you alluded to, this election is only temporary. One of the Progressives can run again in the General Primary Election on Thursday (yes Thursday) September 8th. Hopefully only one Progressive will run, preventing a split vote. It still will be a tough race since Rizzo’s votes are more likely to go to Boncore, than a progressive." - promoted by Bob_Neer

Per Politico’s Lauren Dezenski

Boncore 4019
Rizzo 3620
Livingstone 2803
Edwards 2363
Hwang 2092

Progressive women of color are batting 0-3 in special elections, as yours truly predicted.

Rizzo’s campaign allegedly distributed transphobic mailers attacking Livingstone, who had been making inroads in Revere. Boncore’s campaign disavowed similar mailers attributed to them. Either way, a nasty race with transphobic undertones.

Not a good night for the Mass Democratic Party in my opinion. Boncore’s dad is a Winthrop City Councilor and close friend of Speaker Robert DeLeo, who was officially neutral in this race. Congratulations State Senator elect Joe Boncore, seeing as there are no general election opponents in the May 10th general or (as of yet) in November. The job is yours!

The Conservative Wing of the State Republican Party Is Not Going Away Without (Another) Fight

While Globe reporter Andrew Ryan was in church on Sunday, someone left this leaflet opposing the transgender public accommodations bill that is pending in the state Legislature on his car.

Authorship of the leaflet was claimed by a group called “Renew MA Coalition.” You can learn more about the coalition on its Facebook page, which features a photograph of Presidential candidate Ted Cruz and conservative State Rep. Jim Lyons flanking Chanel Prunier, the former Republican national committeewoman from Massachusetts. Prunier was turned out of office last week in a very close election by Gov. Baker’s choice, State Rep. Keiko Orrall. Orrall’s victory capped the Governor’s largely successful effort to replace socially conservative members of the state Republican committee with moderates more in line with Baker’s views. Those views include support for gay marriage, but so far at least, do not include support for the transgender public accommodations bill.

As the Governor continues to face considerable pressure to endorse the bill (his failure to do so caused the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to uninvite him to an event later this month at which he was originally to be honored), the conservative wing of his party continues to hold firm to its abiding opposition to rights for transgender persons.

Transparency in the House of Representatives: "If it's good for the Goose..."

Bumped, because we had the scoop. The new edition of Commonwealth Magazine, out today, features a story about House Speaker Bob Deleo's vise-like grip on that chamber, with a lengthy for instance detailing how a Republican amendment cutting back on a bill to reduce civil penalties for drug convictions came to be adopted with no debate whatsoever. BlueMassGroup hates to brag, but we had that story a month ago. Plus, our story included the video. - promoted by hesterprynne

The editorial boards of both the Herald and the Globe are calling on the Legislature to repeal a misguided 1989 law that revokes the driver’s license of anyone who is convicted of a drug offense and imposes a $500 fee to reinstate a license after the suspension time (one to five years) has been served.  The law was conceived in the fond hope that it would deter drug use. Thirty years later, we know that it doesn’t, and what’s worse, it steers those with drug convictions back toward recidivism by adding to the re-entry obstacles they face.  

Last September the Senate passed a bill to repeal the law, and in January the House approved part of that bill. Both editorial boards greatly prefer the Senate version. The Senate repealed the license suspension law in its entirely. The House, on the other hand, kept the license suspension law for some drug trafficking crimes — it adopted an amendment to that effect that had been filed by a group of seven Republican representatives. One of those Republican representatives, State Rep. James Lyons of Andover, told the Globe that license suspensions should continue to be imposed on “thugs who are selling drugs to our family members.” The Globe disagreed with him, dismissing his argument as “a tough-on-crime sentiment that harks back to the original, 1980s-vintage view that led to the failed law.” The Herald, often a Lyons fan, parted ways with him on this issue and urged the House to agree to the Senate in conference committee negotiations on the bill.  

For those not familiar with Rep. Lyons, he’s the Massachusetts chairman of the Cruz for President Committee,  his legislative priorities include reducing the state income and sales taxes and requiring the Legislature to comply with the public records law in order to end the practice of lawmaking by backroom deal outside of public view.

You may be curious how Rep Lyons and his six colleagues succeeded in keeping a portion of the license suspension law in place. It has something to do with lawmaking by backroom deal outside of public view.

Joke Revue: No One in Nation Notices Total Disappearance of Chris Christie

Bumped, for laughs. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Borowitz:

No One in Nation Notices Total Disappearance of Chris Christie

TRENTON (The Borowitz Report)—No one in the United States has taken note of the total disappearance of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who vanished from view several weeks ago.

In interviews with residents across the country, few if any Americans displayed interest in, or concern about, the whereabouts of Christie, who, until he disappeared, had been a once-prominent political figure.

“I hadn’t really thought about him until you mentioned it,” said Trenton resident Carol Foyler, echoing the opinions of many others in the Garden State.

“Huh,” she added.

Tracy Klugian, a resident of Teaneck, said that it took him a moment to remember who Christie was, but then acknowledged that it was “kind of weird” that he had disappeared.

“I mean, he used to be here and now he’s not,” he said. “Whatever.”

At the University of Minnesota, the historian Davis Logsdon said it was “highly unusual” for a governor of such a major state to simply drop off the radar without anyone noticing.

“Chris Christie’s disappearance raises a whole host of questions,” he said. “Where did he go? When did he leave? Does he plan to come back? To be honest with you, I don’t care.”

Efforts to contact Governor Christie for this article were not made.

Onion:

Trump Catches Self Briefly Believing Own Campaign Rhetoric: ‘Whoa, That Was Scary For A Second There,’ Says Candidate

BETHPAGE, NY—Admitting that he was overcome with terror after realizing what he had done, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told reporters he caught himself briefly believing his own campaign rhetoric during a rally Wednesday night. “Oh, Jesus, for a few seconds there I actually found myself agreeing on a deep, personal level with the things I was saying—what the hell was I thinking?” said the shaken GOP frontrunner, recalling with horror that, right in the middle of his speech, he started to readily accept his vows that he would unite the country, force Mexico to finance the construction of a border wall, and eradicate ISIS. “Wow, I’m not sure how I started buying into that load of bullshit about other countries starting to respect the U.S. if I become president. That’s just so clearly ridiculous. I’ve got to be on my toes a little more and make sure this never happens again.” Trump also reportedly expressed serious concern that many of his supporters appeared to believe him when he said he would act more presidential if elected.

Daniel Kurtzman:

“We have New Jersey governor Chris Christie on the show tonight, which means right now, Donald Trump is unlocking his basement going, ‘Oh, no, he escaped.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“In an interview, Spike Lee said that Bernie Sanders’ campaign song should be ‘Brooklyn’s in the House.’ Today, Bernie Sanders said, ‘I don’t know who this ‘Spike Lee’ is, but I hope he can deliver the Asian vote.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have scheduled a debate for next Thursday in Brooklyn. Which is about as close as Bernie Sanders can get to Wall Street without spontaneously combusting.” –Seth Meyers

“Donald Trump is polling so badly with women that at a rally last night, he had his wife, Melania, introduce him. Because if there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to get American women on your side, it’s a foreign model who’s married to a billionaire and never has to work.” –Conan O’Brien

“Donald Trump told The Washington Post that he’ll be able to get the United States completely out of debt in eight years. When asked how, Trump was like, ‘Easy, declare bankruptcy and start fresh! It’s fantastic. I’ve done it already. It’s amazing.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Bernie Sanders said today that none of the ideas he’s proposed in his campaign are radical or unrealistic other than, of course, the idea of a 74-year-old Jewish president with a $2 haircut.” –Seth Meyers

“I saw that Jeb Bush is going back to giving speeches after his failed run for the Republican nomination. He’s actually a very talented motivational speaker, because after you listen to his life story, you feel great about yourself.” –Jimmy Fallon

“An STD clinic in Los Angeles is copying Bernie Sanders’ campaign slogan to advertise its testing services. ‘Feel the burn? Freestdtest.org.’ Makes sense because just like STDs, Bernie’s campaign is super popular on college campuses.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Donald Trump met with the Republican National Committee today. I wish I could have been a part of that meeting. Like Dr. Frankenstein meeting with his monster.” –Jimmy Kimmel