I Don't Want Affordable Health Care!

The point of this post is not "spend it all." The point is that there is a different bottom line than money -- which we assume to be true when we value something infinitely, like national security. A provocative point. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Let me be clear, I don’t want affordable health careI want health care.  Affordable health care implies that when I need it, I have to reach into my wallet and pay for it, as I would do with an affordable lunch or affordable pair of shoes.   Affordable health care implies that we are all on our own, in the market, and buying what we need with our own individual funds.  That’s not what I want.  I want health care.

I want health care in the same way that I want national security.  I do not want affordable national security because I am not willing to put a price on our national security.  I know it is not free. It will cost us all. We will pay for it with our taxes.  I know that some of us are more at risk from foreign and domestic threats at one time or another and I do not expect those individuals to have to pay more for national security.  We are all in this together.

It is the same with health care.  I know that some of us are more at risk of injury or disease at one time or another and I do not expect those individuals to have to pay more for health care. We are all in this together.  It does not matter to me if the threat to our health and safety is cancer, ISIS, diabetes, Aryan Nations, heart disease or Al-Qæda; they are all threats to our health and safety.

When our nation was under attack on 9/11, no one said “let’s find an affordable market solution to this”.  No, we found a solution.  Further, we did not look to the private sector for the solution, we looked to our government.   It should be the same with health care.

To the naysayers who might jump in about how government can’t do anything right and market solutions are a panacea, let me remind them that Osama bin Laden is gone and the health care in the USA carries the highest cost in the developed world, with some of the worst results.

So, no thank you, I do not want affordable national security or affordable health care. I want national security and

 I want health care.

Faith in the future: The Morality of Energy Policy

Yet another story of clean energy policy with the juice – it’s hard to keep up! Faith leaders from diverse communities made their case in the State House yesterday for energy efficiency and increased renewables:

Members are asking lawmakers to lift caps on solar energy and strengthen incentives for the development of community and low-income solar installations; invest in offshore wind development, with a focus on communities where coal-fired power plants have closed or are closing; ensure that energy efficiency programs reach low- and moderate-income homes and speakers of languages other than English; increase accountability for gas leaks, and reject ratepayer funding for new natural gas pipelines.

State Representative Lori Ehrlich, a Marblehead Democrat who has sponsored bills this session addressing gas leaks and mining, told coalition members they brought an important voice to the debate over energy policy.

“Policy decisions made in this building by virtue of who shows up to advocate so often revolve around other factors, such as cost and feasibility,” Ehrlich said. “Well, those things are important for sure, but what you bring to the table today is important, too: morality.”

Yes. We don’t just make decisions in our legislation based on the strictest sort of bean-counting. We have different bottom lines, that accord with our values. There are things you just wouldn’t do for a buck, and continuing fossil-fuel dependency is one of them.

There’s the potential for a broad and powerful coalition including lower-income communities, who could really most use the help instituting conservation measures; traditional enviro/climate constituencies, which skew wealthier; and now, the clean energy industry.

Faith leaders were critical to the health care push in 2005-06. May they have a similar impact here.

Hydro Not An Energy Silver Bullet

Gov. Baker apparently doesn't recognize the power of our own position. Thankfully others recognize it for him. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Block Island wind farm construction

Ann Berwick writes in today’s Boston Globe that Gov. Charlie Baker has so far overlooked a huge potential made-in-Massachusetts energy source: Offshore wind. As Massachusetts has fallen behind Rhode Island, where construction is already underway on the Block Island wind farm, Baker has instead focused almost exclusively on fracked gas and hydro. Berwick isn’t opposed to hydro, but says that without offshore wind, Baker is negotiating from a position of weakness:

No question, if we can get more Canadian hydropower, we should. But will we be able to get it, and get it when we need it most?

There’s still hope for Hydro-Quebec’s Northern Pass project, designed to bring Canadian hydropower through New Hampshire to Massachusetts, but it has been stymied for years. It’s possible that other proposed transmission lines will not encounter the same difficulties, but that remains to be seen. And if opposition forces transmission lines to be installed underground, rather than overhead, the costs of Canadian hydro will increase dramatically.

And will we be able to get the power when we need it most?

Thank you to all our Veterans

Our gratitude to those who risked their own lives to keep us safe. And may we remember to keep them safe, and housed, and helped. "Veteran" and "homeless" are two words that should never appear together. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

John McCrae wrote the best tribute I can think of over a century ago as a Canadian WWI Medic. It also reminds us that this holiday is an international observance commemorating the end to one of the worst wars in human history.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Live blog of GOP debate

Go Trump! Go Carson! - promoted by Bob_Neer

Courtesy Fox Business Network and the Wall Street Journal.  No opening statements.  Follow in the comments.  Add your own insights, fact-checking, anything I misunderstood or just missed, etc. about the various points in replies to the respective comments.  I have to keep up so I will not be editorializing or fact-checking on the fly.  Please therefore also forgive bad punctuation, sentence fragments, misspellings or any other non-standard written English.

Final reaction: I thought only sports events went over the allotted time:)  I actually think it was one of the better debates.  It stayed substantive – no electability, gotcha, fight-picking, or otherwise silly questions.

Boston enforces restaurant transparency

Good job in theory, Boston: weak effort in practice. Globe:

Early next year, diners in Boston will get a new tool to learn how clean a restaurant is — a city-issued letter grade rating the establishment’s food safety practices. For the first year of the new initiative, a letter grade — either an A, B, or C — would be posted online only. But if the rollout goes smoothly, the grades would be displayed in storefront windows of every restaurant in Boston, resembling the systems that New York, Los Angeles, and other cities have been using since as early as the late 1990s.

As the newspaper argues in an editorial: the grades should be posted in hard copies at the front of every restaurant, just as they have been for years in NYC:

[T]he pilot program that Boston is scheduled to launch in early 2016 won’t be of much practical use initially, because the grades will only be available online. Physical signs on-site indicating a restaurant’s level of cleanliness won’t be required until some as-yet-undetermined date. Realistically, few diners are going to search the city’s online database for restaurant inspectionsbefore choosing where to eat.

Every municipality in the Commonwealth should adopt this — and every elected official should propose a mandate for a similar practice if they know what is good for them: it is supported by an overwhelming majority of voters (even if dirty restaurants don’t like the idea much).


Marty Walsh has some 'Splaining to do

See the comments for a response from Mayor Walsh's office. This one is worth following closely. - promoted by david

Per Diane Ravitch’s blog

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh gave no indication in 2013 when he ran for office that he was a supporter of school privatization; his opponent John Connolly clearly was. Walsh accused Connolly–a charter school supporter of wanting to “blow up” the school system. Yet now Walsh is working closely with the Gates Foundation and the far-right, union-busting Walton Family Foundation to close 36 public schools and replace them with privately managed charter schools

Charlie Pierce isn’t happy either, comparing this move to one Scott Walker would make:

The ever-essential Diane Ravitch catches Walsh in the middle of performing what we like to refer to around the shebeen as a “full Scott Walker”—namely, pulling a fast one once you’re elected that you never made a part of your campaign. It’s not breaking a campaign promise. It’s breaking a campaign presumption, which is supposed to make a difference. Anyway, Walsh beat John Connolly at least partly by accusing Connolly, who is an open ally of the education “reform” grifters, of trying to destroy the public school system in the city where public schools were invented in this county. Now, it appears that Mayor Walsh has broken up with Candidate Walsh.

These are two bloggers who I regularly check, and usually they are on the money with their scoops or analysis. Especially Ravitch, who is an expert on public education and exposing the charter myths. Her work on that subject and my conversation with regular teachers in Cambridge and Chicago, along with my own brief experience tutoring in an inner city school in Chicago, pushed me from a charter advocate (one of several bad positions I once espoused on BMG) to a skeptic.

And if what she is accusing Walsh of doing turns out to be true, and I am open to the idea that people are jumping to conclusions, that will turn me from a supporter to a skeptic. Real dumb move if he sold out his core supporters on the issue he had the most differences with Connolly over.

DONG goes clean energy

Clang clang clang with the hammer … couldn’t resist. This is great news. You see, just like banks are where the money is, offshore MA is where the wind is. And you can’t keep people away from it now:

Denmark-based DONG Energy A/S, the world’s largest developer of offshore wind farms, Monday said it would build up to 100 giant wind turbines, generating as much as 1,000 megawatts of electricity — more than double the output Cape Wind had proposed for its site off Cape Cod. The Danish company recently acquired one of the leases for a stretch of ocean that the US government has designated for wind farms. It has dubbed the local operation Bay State Wind.

via European firm pitches huge wind farm off Vineyard – The Boston Globe.

So this is very hopeful. It’s clean energy that can take up some of the slack of Pilgrim Nuclear shutting down. It gives the South Shore something to be happy about — though no word in the article as to whether they’d use New Bedford’s Wind Energy Center. And DONG says it can accept a lower price than Cape Wind for the energy.

Now … why do we need the Danish to come in a build us a wind farm? Because as a matter of government policy, they are the global leaders in wind. Obviously they had a lot of offshore wind sites available, and most critically, Denmark’s government made it a goal to convert to renewable energy: 100% by 2050! This created a demand for wind farms, and Danish wind companies flourished. Like they say:

Denmark is good at things green, and at making a business out of them. Investment in a green transition could enhance Danish opportunities for a global technological lead. Danish companies already have a global stronghold in several technological areas in which both Denmark and
the rest of the world will invest in the decades to come in order to secure energy efficiency and produce renewable energy. An ambitious but realistic transition will underpin these strongholds. The transition will strengthen the domestic market for green solutions and it will promote technological innovation and research. Exploiting these opportunities will create new green jobs throughout Denmark.

This should be the future of Massachusetts. Not a greasy “combo platter” with continued unnecessary dependency on fossil fuels for a generation, but an Olympic training regimen to overcome an enormous challenge.

Update: Context from stomv — this is a BFD:

Some context

New England currently has 846 MW of land-based wind capacity (source). The capacity factor of that generation is about 25 percent (source). That means an annual generation of approximately 1,850,000 MWh.

Offshore wind has higher capacity factors — this site will likely be on the order of 40 percent. A 1,000 MW project with 40 percent CF generates 3,500,000 MWh.

The DONG project will generate twice the electricity in a year than was generated by all the wind farms in New England in 2014.

P.S. Pilgrim generates approximately 5,500,000 MWh a year. The DONG project replaces roughly 2/3 of Pilgrim’s output.

Tell me why we need dirty energy pipelines again?

Joke Revue: "Carson: Loss of Keystone Leaves U.S. With No Place to Store Grain"


Carson: Loss of Keystone Leaves U.S. With No Place to Store Grain

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Presidential candidate Ben Carson has issued a dire warning that President Obama’s cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline has left the United States with “virtually no place to store grain.”

Without the massive pipeline, Carson told Fox News, the nation’s network of silos is woefully inadequate “to store the bounty of grain that we soweth.”

Carson said that as President, he would seek additional places to store grain, such as “the hollowed-out heads on Mt. Rushmore.” …


Wealthiest Americans Ominously Remind Nation They Could Easily Drop Another $10 Billion On Election

WASHINGTON—Calmly stating that they would not even need to think twice about doing so, the nation’s wealthiest individuals ominously reminded the populace during a press conference Wednesday that they could easily drop another $10 billion on the 2016 election. “We want to make it completely clear to voters that there’s absolutely no reason—none at all—why we couldn’t shell out another $10 billion between now and next November,” said casino magnate Sheldon Adelson on behalf of the top tenth of a percent of income-earners in the U.S., adding that creating dozens of new and extremely well-funded super PACs would mean practically nothing to them. “Trust me, we’ve got plenty to throw around, so it really wouldn’t be a problem. We could spread it around a bunch of congressional races, or, heck, we could put it all on one presidential candidate—it doesn’t really affect us much either way. Why don’t we toss in a billion right now just to give you a taste?” The nation’s wealthiest families then added that they would have no problem repeating the process for the next 30 election cycles before silently walking off the stage.

Jeb Bush, American statesman: quotes by the candidate from the campaign trail, compiled by Daniel Kurtzman:

“I’m a grinder.

This is like, for me, the greater the adversity, the more – first of all, it means I’m going to get better, I got to get better, I know I have to get better. I have enough self awareness – I don’t have this gigantic ego that says, well, they’re just stupid, Iowa voters don’t understand me, they’re eating Monsanto-laced agriculture products.” –Jeb Bush reflecting on his campaign performance

“Look stuff happens, there’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something and it’s not always the right thing to do.” -Jeb Bush, shrugging off calls for gun control following a mass shooting at an Oregon college, Oct.

“As it relates to my brother, there’s one thing I know for sure: He kept us safe.” -Jeb Bush, forgetting 9/11 during a Republican presidential debate, Sept. 16, 2015

“Taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.” -Jeb Bush on the Iraq war, which killed at least 4,424 U.S. troops and 115,000 Iraqi civilians, while costing taxpayers over $1.7 trillion and opening the floodgates for ISIS, Aug.

“I’m not sure we need a half a billion dollars for women’s health programs.” -Jeb Bush, criticizing Planned Parenthood, Aug. 4, 2015

“We need to figure out a way to phase out this program.” -Jeb Bush on Medicare, July 23, 2015

“Why would our President close our Embassy to the Vatican? Hopefully, it is not retribution for Catholic organizations opposing Obamacare.” -Jeb Bush, mistakenly accusing President Obama of closing the Vatican when the embassy in fact moved into another building, in a Nov. 7, 2013 tweet

Globe Profiles Rising Star Katherine Clark

A somewhat ham-handed effort to get Clark to run for Governor. She would surely be a much better Governor than Charlie Baker, although that is a pitifully low bar, but as the article points out her political instincts are acute, and serving her well here, as elsewhere. - promoted by Bob_Neer

The Globe had an informative piece highlighting the quick rise of Katherine Clark, who has gone from school committee to US Congress in under a decade, and the advantages she brings to the table as a bipartisan leader. It also chats her up as a potential 2018 candidate for Governor, though she gave a fairly decisive ‘no’ to that talk.

Democratic insiders, impressed by her grit and tenacity in Congress, have been buzzing about the 52-year-old lawyer’s future. In recent weeks party chatter, including informal conversations among long-time Democratic players, has even included talk about Clark as a potential candidate for governor in 2018, when Republican Charlie Baker is expected to run for reelection.

While she has ruled out the 2018 race, other insiders think she should give it a go:

They say she has bipartisan accomplishments in Washington to point to, is a strong campaigner, and has a potent issue set — focused on those related to women and children. And while she represents only one-ninth of the state, she has a helpful geographic profile, as a representative for part of Middlesex County, the state’s largest by population.

Most important, they say, she has charisma and a liberal spark to generate enough enthusiasm to be a serious contender.

“She’s a candidate people could get excited about,” said strategist Scott Ferson, “not just, ‘Which sacrificial lamb should we throw against Charlie Baker?’ ”

I happen to think she would make a great candidate for Governor, but I also think she has the potential to move up quickly in House leadership where Massachusetts could use more clout. She also would make a great Senator if either of our talented incumbents ever retired. So the sky is really the limit, in the meantime, she has done a great job responding to the needs of her district and is becoming a national voice against cyberbullying and in favor of women’s rights and paid leave. A rising star to watch.

Divided, We Fail.

Let's assume that, in the short term at least, neither overturning Citizens United nor public financing of political campaigns is likely. Is there another solution? - promoted by david

I received an invitation to a grassroots fundraising event on behalf of a Massachusetts Democrat’s candidate committee. The identity of the candidate is not the issue. The issue is the message contained in the invitation and this message is one that I have seen numerous times with most candidates.  I bring it up now because I have reached a level of awareness, especially after attending the most recent state Democratic convention, the convention that focused on income inequality and our perilous path towards a two tiered society.

The invitation requested donations ranging from $2,700 to $100.  All who donated could attend the event.  However, those who contribute a minimum of $1,000 are granted early admission, the rest are held back for one half hour while the wealthier contributors get extra time.

We, as Democrats, cry out against the special access to power that money can buy. The widening disparity of wealth in our nation is reaching historical proportions as the middle class evaporates. We drift closer to a two tiered society of rich and poor, winners and losers, haves and have nots; or as in this case, those wealthy donors who come first, and the poorer donors who wait their turn and know their place.

Elizabeth Warren Says Keep it in the Ground

Warren is a leader. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Although Elizabeth Warren landed a spot on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier this year, you don’t often hear her mentioned in the context of energy policy. So I was happy this week to see her co-sponsor an excellent bill introduced earlier this week.

That bill is Jeff Merkley (D-OR)’s Keep It in the Ground Act, which would stop new leases and end non-producing leases for offshore drilling in the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico; stop new and end non-producing coal, oil, gas, oil shale and tar sands leases on all federal lands; and prohibit offshore drilling in the Arctic and the Atlantic.

If we are to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, then a significant percentage of known fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground. According to a Nature article from earlier this year, 82% of known, extractable coal reserves must be left in the ground. The numbers for natural gas and oil are 49% and 33%, respectively. Other studies have put the total percentage of “unburnable” fossil fuel reserves at up to 80%.

The bill was praised by 350.org, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the League of Conservation Voters, Environment America, the Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch, and Friends of the Earth.

Warren, a co-sponsor, and Merkley, the lead sponsor, were joined by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).