Will Globe Keep Ignoring Columnist's Blatant Conflicts of Interest?

This is just sad. - promoted by david

Why is the Boston Globe letting former US Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) sell space on its op-ed page? As Eric Hananoki reports for Media Matters, the Globe has once again allowed Sununu to pen a column without disclosing he’s a highly-paid industry lobbyist:

Sununu wrote in his August 17 column that “Obama’s bureaucrats reach ever deeper into the economy, pursuing expensive and unnecessary regulation of the internet.” Sununu and the Globe did not disclose that he is the highly-paid honorary co-chair of Broadband for America, an organization whose members have included major broadband providers and has been heavily funded by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

Broadband for America’s most recent IRS 990 form states that the group paid Sununu $480,067 for “lead consulting” during parts of 2013 and 2014.

Sununu also serves on the board of directors for Time Warner Cable (TWC), which fights Internet regulation. [...] TWC gave Sununu approximately $272,000 in compensation in 2014, according to company documents.

But Sununu’s byline innocuously reads, “John E. Sununu, a former Republican senator from New Hampshire, writes regularly for the Globe.”

Sununu has also used his column to attack President Obama’s Clean Power Plan while serving as “Adjunct Senior Policy Advisor” for Akin Gump, a powerhouse DC lobbying firm that rakes in millions from the coal, oil and fracked gas industries.

The Globe’s excuse? “Reached by phone by Media Matters‘ Joe Strupp, Editorial Page Editor Ellen Clegg said she’s on vacation and hasn’t ‘read this column closely.’” When it comes to Sununu’s incomplete byline, Clegg says ”take a look at it.”

But when Media Matters first pointed out Sununu’s Akin Gump conflicts of interest back in 2012, then-editorial page editor Peter Canellos claimed, “If [Sununu] were in any position to benefit from matters he writes about, we would disclose that fact.” (Canellos is now executive editor of Politico.)

The Globe is failing to live up to its own stated ethical standards. Will Clegg now succeed where Canellos failed?

On Point Debates BLM and the Democratic Party

Kudos to Sacha Pfeiffer for tackling a hot issue today at On Point on WBUR and NPR. Have a listen.

For decades, black Americans and the Democratic Party have gone hand-in-hand. Loyal supporters of one another. But the Black Lives Matter movement has been publicly confronting Democratic presidential candidates over their attitudes on race and racial inequality. Not even ultra-progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been spared. Protesters say they want to hear specific policy plans, not vague promises. And they’re putting the Democratic candidates on the spot. Is this clash creating a rift between blacks and the Democrats that could benefit the GOP? Or is it making their relationship stronger? This hour, On Point: African-Americans challenge the Democratic Party.

The jungle behind amazon.com

"[A] soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard," in the words of Jeff Bezos. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Jack Welch’s style of management (fire each year the bottom 5 or 10%) can’t hold a candle to the management style of Jeff Bezos.


This is a report catching fire on the Internet about Amazon’s experiment – seeing how far its employees can be pushed for productivity. The cult of efficiency is as old as the Ford assembly line – in this case the widgets are engineers & managers & other workers, who are ingested, chewed and tossed out when they are unable to work 80 hours weeks, burn out, or become pregnant, or have to care for a sick family member.


Here’s but an excerpt that would make George Orwell proud. (A Modern Animal Farm, if you will:)

“In 2013, Elizabeth Willet, a former Army captain who served in Iraq, joined Amazon to manage housewares vendors and was thrilled to find that a large company could feel so energetic and entrepreneurial. After she had a child, she arranged with her boss to be in the office from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, pick up her baby and often return to her laptop later. Her boss assured her things were going well, but her colleagues, who did not see how early she arrived, sent him negative feedback accusing her of leaving too soon.

““I can’t stand here and defend you if your peers are saying you’re not doing your work,” she says he told her. She left the company after a little more than a year.

Torture stays on the table

The waterboarding table, that is. The Bush family sticks together. - promoted by Bob_Neer

On Thursday (13-August-2015), GOP presidential contender Jeb Bush publicly refused to rule out torture, according to reports like this:

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Thursday declined to rule out resuming the use of torture under some circumstances by the U.S. government.

“I don’t want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement,” Bush told an audience of Iowa Republicans, when asked whether he would keep in place or repeal President Barack Obama’s executive order banning so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the CIA.

Had our government aggressively investigated, prosecuted, and punished the apparent war criminals of the prior administration (notably led by Jeb Bush’s brother), government-sponsored torture would not still be “on the table”. We already have, for example, a Senate Report that concluded that the practices of the prior administration were more brutal than disclosed, that the CIA lied, and that the abuses were ineffective (from the above link):

A Senate report released last year cited CIA records in concluding that the techniques were more brutal than previously disclosed, that the CIA lied about them, and that they failed to produce unique, life-saving intelligence. The CIA and its defenders take issue with the report.

The decision of a Democratic-controlled House, Senate, and President to not pursue the apparent crimes against humanity perpetrated by the prior administration is a shameful embarrassment that may well haunt us for decades to come. We Democrats have blood on our hands. We could have acted, and we instead chose the politically expedient route (a choice that was itself utterly ineffective — we got NOTHING for it). On this question, we were a Profile in Cowardice.

I do not want to live in an America that views torture as acceptable US policy.

'Reducing Income Inequality' to be Official Theme of the 2015 Mass. Democratic Convention

OK. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Last Thursday, at its quarterly meeting in the town of Amesbury, the Democratic State Committee passed the following resolution:

Making ‘Reducing Income Inequality’ the Theme of the 2015 Massachusetts Democratic Convention

WHEREAS,  The Massachusetts Democratic Party needs a strong message, a clear and unequivocal message, a message that reaches into the hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of our threatened Middle Class; and

WHEREAS,  The Massachusetts Democratic Party – unlike Governor Baker’s party – is the people’s advocate, and as such we want to convey to Massachusetts voters that “we have your back; and

WHEREAS,  Income Inequality has soared since the election of Ronald Reagan and has resulted in a stratification of society not seen since the age of the Robber Barons; and

WHEREAS,  Reducing Income Inequality is a core principle underlying every issue for which we advocate as Democrats including,  Social Justice, Economic Opportunity, Transportation, Labor, Education, Climate Change, Racial Justice, Housing, Voting Rights, Health Care, and Disability, and will generate the kind of enthusiasm and excitement we will need to organize and win in 2016; and

WHEREAS,  The Massachusetts Democratic Party wishes to demonstrate that our principles are not just rhetoric, that our elected officials and candidates stand by and run on these principles; and

WHEREAS, The Executive Committee of the Democratic State Committee has endorsed “Reducing Income Inequality” as a theme for the upcoming Convention; now, therefore be it

RESOLVED,  That “Reducing Income Inequality” shall be the official theme of the 2015 Massachusetts Democratic Convention, and every element of our convention – our morning plenary session, all afternoon breakout sessions, and a general resolution of the convention – will embrace, incorporate, and further that theme.


Kinder Morgan Meets Resistance in Northeast Massachusetts

Post summary: Republican-led company trying to reach into ratepayer wallets to line its own pockets and jam through an expensive and destructive project. - promoted by Bob_Neer

The multibillion dollar company Kinder Morgan is now facing grassroots popular resistance to its proposed gas pipeline project from towns across the portion of the route in Eastern Massachusetts, from Dracut to Danvers, just as it has in the past faced opposition from Western Mass. The founder of Kinder Morgan is also a long term supporter of Republican candidates and he donated $2 million to the SuperPAC supporting Jeb Bush for president, while holding a Bush fundraiser at his house.

650 people turned out last night at Dracut High school where 18 elected officials and over 50 local residents spoke out against this project. Here is a video clip from Dracut’s Board of selectman chair, who is also part of the town’s Democratic City committee:
Dracut Selectman Chair Archinski, speaking to FERC

In the last 3 months, the city councils of Methuen and Peabody have both passed unanimous resolutions against the construction of this pipeline. Neither city had acted on it before, but as Kinder Morgan has increased the pipeline diameter to Methuen and as it just added a lateral to Peabody a few months ago, opposition groups have sprung up in both cities and in many towns in between.

The pipeline is vigorously opposed in Andover and Dracut, towns of 31,000-34,000 people. in which pipeline construction would clear cut a 75 to 100 foot buffer of trees that currently shields hundreds of homes from a major power line easement. Peabody faces the destruction of a famous bike path and Wilmington the encroachment of critical protected zones that help feed the wells the town depends on for drinking water.

Donald Trump to be guest at fund-raiser hosted by Ernie Boch Jr.

This should be good... - promoted by david

The Circus is coming! The Circus is coming!


“Ernie’s Summer Bash,” a three-hour fund-raiser that will feature live music and a speech by Trump, is a private event. Those who were lucky enough to receive an invitation from Boch will need to pay $100 to get in the door and hear what Trump has to say.

“Whether you are for him or against him, you will be more educated in your decision for who to vote for after hearing him speak,” Boch said. “Is he a loose cannon? Maybe a little. But who hasn’t been a loose cannon in their life? That’s the appeal.”

The Making of the Sales Tax Holiday, 2015

In which the whole sorry mass, like an excised tumor, is laid out for public inspection. - promoted by Bob_Neer

As we count down the hours (48 or so) until the August sales tax holiday, when we can save $20 on the four new (tax free!) tires our cars need because of the deplorable condition of our roads, some thoughts on how this year’s holiday came about.

As is typical, the Legislature waited until late July to enact the holiday bill, perhaps deterred by the words of the former Chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, who once described the holiday as perhaps not the finest public policy on the planet. But as is also typical, by late July, retailers have already advertised not only the existence of the holiday but also have hinted broadly about when in August it will occur. And the Legislature does not excel at taking candy from babies.

This year, more legislators in both House and Senate joined the ranks of sales tax holiday skeptics, and this time they also had the Mass. Taxpayers Foundation in their corner (the holiday “is getting increasingly more difficult to justify”). But even as they scored more points than ever in the policy debate, they knew they were outnumbered, despite the fact that many of those supporting the holiday were pretty listless about it  (Senator Marc Pacheco, one of their number, distilled this lethargy into a single sentence: “I will be voting for it reluctantly so that the Senate is not blamed for stopping it”).

The success of the sales tax holiday owes much to the inherent popularity of any law that lowers consumer prices, but not everything. The holiday’s primary lobbyist, according to the Globe, is an “aw shucks, good old boy” who’s very popular on Beacon Hill. The holiday also has think tank support from the (Koch-funded) Beacon Hill Institute. The Institute weighed in with the requisite charts and tables demonstrating the enormous boost the state economy would receive from the holiday, including the rather astounding news that this year’s holiday would generate as many as 860 jobs (note to the Institute: those sound more like “shifts” than jobs,” no?).

And yet another factor: the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance and their kinfolk at the Independent Expenditure PAC, Jobs First.

Donald Trump, moderate Republican...?

Is Donald Trump a blowhard?  You bet.  A demagogue?  Maybe.  A plausible President of the United States?  Gosh, I sure don’t think so.

And yet, it must be noted that his positions on some important issues are actually to the left of the rest of the GOP field.  For example, on abortion rights:

Donald Trump on Tuesday said that he is pro-life, but also supports exceptions to bans on abortion in cases of rape and incest, as well as in cases that would save the life of the mother.

CNN’s “New Day” so-host Chris Cuomo asked Trump if he agreed with Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) stance against exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

“I disagree with that. I am for the exceptions,” Trump responded. “And so was Ronald Reagan for the exceptions, by the way. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Rubio’s stance is shared by most of the rest of the GOP field.

What about defunding Planned Parenthood?  Trump doesn’t like Planned Parenthood … and yet,

“If the time came, I would look at the individual things that they do and maybe some of the things are good, and maybe — I know a lot of the things are bad,” Trump said. “I would look at the good aspects of it and I would also look because I’m sure they do some things properly and good and good for women.”

That stance is clearly left of every other Republican running.  And then there’s health care.  From the debate:

we have to take care of the people that can’t take care of themselves. And I will do that through a different system [than Obamacare].

OK, so he doesn’t like Obamacare; that’s par for the GOP course.  But wait – he thinks government should look out for at least some people?  That sounds something like Medicare/Medicaid, and it’s got some conservatives pretty upset.

And speaking of health care, no less of a credentialed lefty than Matt Yglesias had this to say about Trump’s debate performance:

Donald Trump offered the single best, most original policy idea in the Republican Party debate Thursday night. He also demonstrated by far the greatest understanding of a complicated area of public policy. There, I said it….

[W]hile I wouldn’t rank Trump as one of the great health wonks of all time, his answer to a question challenging him to defend his past praise of single-payer health-care systems demonstrated a decent knowledge of the subject and an innovative and important health-care idea….

Trump then pivoted from [his non-insane explanation of why single-payer wouldn't work here] to a constructive suggestion about reforming health insurance in America, proposing a change that, while big enough to make a difference, is sufficiently non-revolutionary to be plausible.

“What I’d like to see,” he said, “is a private system without the artificial lines around every state.”

Right now, you see, health insurance is a heavily regulated industry. And it’s regulated in slightly different ways by each state government. Consequently, while buyers and sellers of most products (breakfast cereal, cars, appliances, clothing) have one gigantic marketplace to participate in, buyers and sellers of health insurance have a handful of midsize markets (California, Texas, New York) and a few dozen small ones.

“I have a big company with thousands and thousands of employees,” Trump observed, but “if I’m negotiating in New York or in New Jersey or in California, I have, like, one bidder. Nobody can bid.”

One bidder is an exaggeration, but it’s true that the number of players in any given state market tends to be small, and the problem is getting worse. The issue is especially severe in smaller states, where the overall size of the market isn’t necessarily big enough to make it worth anyone’s while to enter. But it’s also a logistical hassle for employers who operate in multiple states, especially because states aren’t real economic units. Lots of people live in New Jersey and work in Pennsylvania, or commute from Kansas to Missouri.

So, scoff all you want at Trump’s antics.  I sure do.  But while you scoff, bear in mind that when it comes to policy, he might actually be better than the rest of them.  That should terrify all of us.

Blanchard's, racial profiling,and the problem with internet activism

An interesting and difficult issue. Certainly, we can all agree that the staff at Blanchard's screwed up big-time in this case. - promoted by david

I have no financial interest in Blanchard’s, other than the fact that I spend money there.

Just saw this today, amid a Twitter storm of righteous indignation about how terrible this business is and how we should all boycott them.

I don’t know about the specifics of the situation beyond what’s in the article, but it certainly sounds like Blanchard’s employees made a relatively big and probably racist mistake.

The knee-jerk response was, “Oh, I’m never shopping there again!”

Well. Okay. What’s the aim of your boycott?

Is it to drive Blanchard’s out of business?

Is it to make sure that your money isn’t supporting a racist business?

Okay, but then there’s this: Blanchard’s has one of the most diverse staffs of any retail business in JP. Are you boycotting those stores with all-white staffs? Are you boycotting those stores where people of color are allowed to scoop your ice cream but never seem to find their way into managerial positions?

I guess what I’m saying is that Blanchard’s screwed up in a very visible way here, but this, like everything, is complicated, and when you’re looking at a business’s record on race, you absolutely have to look at their hiring and promotion practices. On that score, most of the businesses that JP’s white liberals patronize look piss poor.

See you in the craft beer aisle.

Black Lives Matter Was Right

Agree? Disagree? - promoted by david

I was kind of ticked off when I saw Black Lives Matter protests commandeering Bernie Sanders’s microphone. Why were these folks attacking the candidate who came closest to their concerns? They were obnoxious.And they were right. The success of a political action should be measured largely by what it accomplishes, and BLM, it seems, accomplished what it set out to do: make Sanders’ focus on racial issues that need to be addressed. Think Progress writes:

After activists from the Black Lives Matter movement repeatedly disrupted speeches by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) over the past few weeks, the popular and populist presidential candidate released a comprehensive racial justice platform and hired a young racial justice activist as his national press secretary.

The platform, which has won praise from several prominent voices in the Black Lives Matter movement, focuses on different forms of violence against people of color in the United States: physical violence from law enforcement and extremist vigilantes, the political violence of voter suppression, the legal violence of the War on Drugs and mass incarceration, and the economic violence of crushing poverty. Sanders lays out several proposals to address each form of violence, from passing “ban the box” laws to prevent hiring discrimination against people with criminal records, to outlawing for-profit prisons, to restoring the gutted protections in the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

A few weeks ago, Bernie Sanders didn’t quite get it. Like most of us, he’s a well-intentioned liberal, opposed to injustice and dedicated to making the world a better place for the less fortunate. But he didn’t understand the meaning of “black lives matter.”

When first approached by protesters at Netroots Nation, he said, “Black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter.” As true as this statement is, it misses the point. Bernie got a little cranky. After all, he fought for civil rights back in the 1960s. Black lives don’t matter in America, certainly not as much as white lives. And Bernie Sanders, with his focus on economic fairness, wasn’t addressing that fact. As Vox states, BLM activists hadn’t felt

that Sanders — and, just as importantly, his supporters — [we]re keeping racial justice front and center. Sanders has become a progressive hero for his economic populism, but at the beginning of his campaign he talked about racial inequality, if at all, as a symptom of economic inequality.

It’s not enough for white liberals to sympathize, BLM protesters want us to see America as they see it. They want us to address the issues that affect them. It’s still unclear how exactly how willing we are to fix a very broken system. Economically, Bernie Sanders has been a leader showing us how America can reclaim its promise. By listening and responding to Black Lives Matter, he is once again leading the way. He could have resisted. Instead he opened his mind and his campaign to a movement he could just have easily marginalized.

Lawrence Lessig wants to be POTUS...

A ripe target for satire (perhaps an effort to reduce the influence of lawyers in politics?), following Mayday PAC which raised millions, ostensibly to combat the influence of money in politics, and lost six out of eight races. If only they had raised more money ... - promoted by Bob_Neer

…at least long enough to enact some government reforms, then he wants to resign.  He would seek the Democratic nomination if he can raise $1M by Labor Day.  He suggests Sen. Warren as his VP, but that would put MA electors in a predicament.