How Global Warming is Fueling Hermine

Eek... - promoted by david


Progressives are often nervous to talk about how global warming is impacting our weather. Climate science deniers have lots of theories that are hard to answer!

My advice is to focus on what we know: Extremely warm ocean water is adding fuel to Hermine, and higher sea levels are worsening its damage. Here’s more from Eric Holthaus at

Hermine really has no precedent, at least in the modern meteorological record of the North Atlantic. Hermine has transitioned from a hurricane to a hybrid, post-tropical cyclone and will likely re-strengthen back to hurricane– though it’s unclear whether the National Hurricane Center will change the storm’s designation again. The center notes that the interaction between Hermine’s tropical core and its more nor’easter-like influence could result in short-term looping motions of the storm’s center that are essentially unpredictable.

Even during peak hurricane season, hurricanes that pass north of the Delmarva Peninsula typically weaken because of cooler ocean waters that limit the growth of central thunderstorms. But not Hermine. This sort of storm arguably wouldn’t be possible without the near-record high ocean temperatures currently offshore. Waters between North Carolina and New Jersey are warm enough to sustain a hurricane right now, about 3 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal. That means the region where Hermine will be camped out for most of this week likely wouldn’t foster intensification in a normal, cooler year. Climate change is expected to make storms like Hermine even more common in the North Atlantic.

And the storm is coming in the middle of a year that’s on pace to absolutely obliterate the previous mark for hottest year on record. Here, look at this:

I Miss the People's Pledge

There’s been much discussion here and elsewhere – and appropriately so – about the roughly $100,000 that Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) has dumped into Leland Cheung’s effort to unseat Pat Jehlen in the state Senate.  DFER’s money comes from an out-of-state pro-charter outfit that doesn’t have to disclose its donors.  It is the definition of dark money, and its presence in this race is an unalloyed bad thing.

But, in fairness, it’s also true that the Mass. Teachers Association (MTA) is spending a similar amount on behalf of Jehlen’s reelection effort.  We do know where that money comes from, but the fact remains that the MTA is still a special interest group that is able to spend more money on the race than the candidates themselves have raised.

All of this strikes me as, on balance, bad.  People talk a lot about how terrible Citizens United is, and how we should be trying to keep big money out of politics.  And this is exactly why: right now, outside groups are able to spend tons of basically unaccountable money – often (as in this case) more than the candidates themselves are able to spend – in order to advance a very specific policy goal that may not even be apparent from the advertising that the groups buy.  As I’ve already noted, the DFER materials that I’ve seen on behalf of Cheung don’t say a thing about charter schools, yet we all know that’s why they’re involved.

Fortunately, there is a proven solution: an agreement between the candidates that they will both swear off outside money and a pay a financial penalty if an outside group spends money on their behalf or to attack the other.  In short, the People’s Pledge.  Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown proved that it works brilliantly – as you’ll recall, that was one of the hottest Senate races in the country, in a year when outside groups were flooding Senate races with millions of dollars, yet almost none of that money came here.  And several Massachusetts races have used People’s Pledges since then, though recently they seem to have fallen away.

It’s too late for the Jehlen-Cheung race, unfortunately, a race that would have been a perfect Pledge candidate.  But whatever the result on Thursday, this unpleasantness should be a reminder that outside money remains a serious problem – particularly in down-ballot races, where it can drown out the candidates themselves.  It would be nice to have a legislative solution, but that’s likely a long way off.  Until we do, candidates can, and should, take matters into their own hands.

PS: some people think People’s Pledges are a bad thing.  They are wrong.

A Hot Time in the Norfolk-Plymouth-Bristol Senate Race

Lots of interesting races this year. Primary day is Thursday, Sept. 8! - promoted by david

(note: unpaid Harrington volunteer here writing from the heart without any vetting by the campaign)

The recent dust-up sparked by Sen Jamie Eldridge’s comments provides a useful frame of reference for the increasingly heated contest for Brian Joyce’s Senate seat in the Norfolk-Bristol-Plymouth primary. I don’t think you’ll find much to argue with in my asserting that name-brand candidate Walter Timilty represents the most regressive element in the Legislature, and that his ascension to the Senate would represent a step in exactly the wrong direction. His opponent Nora Harrington’s staunch, but always considered, progressive platform and temperament will help ensure that the Senate remains the relatively progressive bulwark it is.

In what was a quiet and under-the-radar race, the press is now paying attention, things are getting heated and the front-runner’s getting testy. Following Adrian Walker’s deft bit of carving in today’s Globe, Walter Timilty’s taken to Facebook to moan about his insurgent (and surging!) opponent Nora Harrington’s alleged tactics: “And now we see the dishonest mudslinging attacks, and it’s clear that Nora Harrington is part of that dark cloud.”

Well. I’ve seen all Nora’s collateral. And I’ve attended every public forum (but one) at which she’s spoken (along with her 24-year old independent opponent–have to give a shout out to gutsy Stoughton hometown boy Jonathan Lott), starting with an early summer appearance at our DTC here in Stoughton and concluding in Canton last weekend. And the only “negative” element in her rhetoric has been direct references to Walter Timility’s voting record while serving 17 desultory years in the state legislature (and she’s actually been mercifully sparing, focusing in her public appearances on her own strengths and platform). His staunch opposition to marriage equality. His militant opposition to women’s reproductive right. His anti-immigrant stances. His grandstanding over the Rt 93 BLM protest, calling for additional ten-year sentences. His votes against an increase to the minimum wage. His pro-death penalty position. It’s all-too-obvious why Nora’s received the endorsements of MassEquality, MassAlliance, Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, Sierra Club, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, SEIU (1199, 88, 509), Sonia Chang-Diaz, and Linda Dorcena Forry.

What is Democrats for Education Reform really after?

Pretty much anything about charter schools – or education in any form, really – is absent from these pro-Cheung flyers (both of which arrived in my mailbox today) sent out by Democrats for Education Reform. Curiouser and curiouser…

Pat Jehlen debates Liam Kerr on money in politics

Today at noon at WGBH News reporter Mike Deehan’s Facebook page. You can review the video any time.

Pat Jehlen is a Massachusetts state Senator representing Cambridge, Medford, Somerville and Winchester. She has been endorsed by Blue Mass Group and a host of others.

Liam Kerr is the facilitator for Wall Streeters and other corporate interests trying to purchase a MA Senate seat to facilitate privatized education state director of Democrats for Education Reform.

Michael Jonas from the ever-excellent Commonwealth Magazine has a primer with useful background here.

Among other interesting aspects of this debate, it was an excellent example of the ways in which the Internet can enhance public discourse. Check out the running stream of comments on the post.

The broadcast had an audience of about 150-200 people: an insignificant fraction of the electorate, but probably a fairly good fraction of people highly interested in the subject.

On balance, I thought it was a pretty useful discussion. It was good to see the two real candidates square off against each other. Onward to next Thursday.

$200,000 to buy a Mass. Senate seat for a former Virginia Republican?

Updated for the debate news. Tomorrow (Friday) at high noon, Senator Jehlen debates Liam Kerr of Democrats for Education Reform on the charter school cap and outside money spent on Jehlen's primary race against Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung. To be webcast by moderator Mike Deehan on his Facebook page ( - promoted by hesterprynne

If spending the avg annual Somerville income of 6 people in 10 days to win a state senate seat is wrong, I don’t want to be right. — leland4anything

Politics in the Age of Trump comes to Massachusetts: a group run by Wall Street hedge fund executives called Education Reform Now (Sessa Capital, Covey Capital, Charter Bridge Capital, Cubist Systematic Strategies, and Sanford C. Bernstein employ its directors) dumps $200,000 into a state Senate race to try to buy a seat for former Virginia Republican Leland Cheung who backs an expansion of charter schools (13 percent of them for-profit businesses nationwide).

Progressive Democratic champion Pat Jehlen, endorsed by Blue Mass Group and a host of others, is the target of this crass last-minute attempt to bring Trump’s style of Wall Street 1%-er politics to Cambridge, Medford, Somerville and Winchester.

Hilariously, in a brilliant PR stroke, Jehlen has now challenged Liam Kerr, head of Massachusetts Democrats for Education Reform, who will spend the Wall Street money to help Cheung, and John Petry, co-chair of the board of Education Reform Now, who got the money from Donald Trump Vladimir Putin Pearson Education he won’t say, to a televised debate about the issues facing state government in Massachusetts and about the role of money in politics.

“DFER is spending $200,000 it received from Education Reform Now Advocacy in a campaign to defeat me — twice as much in two weeks as I’ve spent in the eight months of this campaign. That makes them my real opponents, so they are the ones I should be debating, not the Cambridge city councilor whose name is on the ballot,” Jehlen wrote in an email. She says Somerville Community Access Television has agreed to provide studio space, and the station’s Joe Lynch, who moderated a previous Jehlen/Cheung debate, has agreed to moderate.

Kevin Franck has been all over this story, and reported yesterday on the tight links between the Cheung campaign and MLM Strategies and the Novus Group, who work for DFER.

I guess we’ll see next Thursday what the value of Wall Street hedge fund money is in a Massachusetts Senate election.

Where, exactly, does Leland Cheung stand on Super PAC money?

About ten days ago, I received the following email from Leland Cheung’s campaign:

Friends and Supporters,

I was shocked to wake up this morning and find that nearly $20,000 in anonymous Super PAC money had been spent to attack our campaign.

Shocked, shocked, I tell you!  He followed up two days later:

Our opponent’s outside groups spent thousands lying about my record, and in response you sent thousands to counteract them. As your neighbor, I’m truly grateful. But we know they won’t stop at this.

Donate now to counteract deceitful Super PAC money.

Terrible, all that deceitful Super PAC money flowing into Massachusetts legislative races.  So, imagine my surprise when I opened up BMG this morning, and learned that literally ten times the amount Cheung claims was spent against him – $200,000 – has been dumped into a pro-charter group for the purpose of backing Cheung’s own campaign.

Now, 200 grand is an insane amount for an outside group to dump into a state legislative race.  So I’d expect the folks who aren’t a fan of big outside spending – like Cheung, to judge from his emails – to quickly and forcefully condemn that kind of dark money flowing into a race like this one.  Haven’t heard anything so far, but maybe I missed it.

In any event, it would be great if both candidates could swear off this kind of thing.  Maybe there is some sort of Pledge that both candidates in a race could agree to, that would benefit the People of the district, rather than the outside groups.  We could call it a “Pledge for the People” … no, that’s too clunky … what other name might work …?

Disclosure: BMG’s editors have endorsed Pat Jehlen for reelection in this race.

Climate Ride!

Ever since I heard about it, I’ve been wanting to do this for years: From September 8 through 12, I’ll be hitting the road on my bike, riding 390 miles from Bar Harbor ME to Boston, to raise funds and awareness for a few organizations fighting climate change. It’s called the Climate Ride — modeled after successful fundraisers like the Pan-Mass Challenge and so forth. They coordinate rides and hikes all over the country — California, NYC to DC, etc.

They let you designate your beneficiary organizations, so I chose two local groups and two national ones. Locally I’m supporting the Better Future Project (which includes 350Mass) and the Boston Cyclists Union. For national groups I’ve chosen and the Union of Concerned Scientists. This follows my sense that since climate change is such a massive issue, there isn’t one single way to go about fighting it. We need in-the-streets rabble-rousing, insider lobbying, science, lifestyle/culture changes — the whole lot.

So for the last several months I’ve been raising money through my social networks — Facebook is hugely helpful for this kind of thing — and I’ve actually blown through my goal of $3500. But I am greedy! You can help break the thermometer by donating here.


And if you can, come to the arrival rally at the Boston Common on Monday 9/12 — around 3pm. And as this is an awareness-raising endeavor, I’ll be splatting all the social media with pictures and tales of the ride.


Crowdsourcing DFER

A couple of items today regarding Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), one of the groups supporting charter schools in Massachusetts.

First, DFER is putting $200,000 into Leland Cheung’s Democratic primary challenge to State Senator Pat Jehlen. That’s a huge amount of money to spend in the last 10 days of a campaign. Senator Jehlen’s press release on this subject is after the jump.

Second, DFER sent a questionnaire today to legislators, inquiring about their positions on ballot Question 2 and on charter schools generally. One can presume that DFER is intending to make other campaign spending decisions based on what (if anything) it hears back.

The questionnaire, in PDF form, is here.  Since I know lots less about charter school issues than my fellow BMG’ers, I offer it up for their edifying comments.

Dig in on Legislative Primaries - Elect Progressives September 8th

Another useful resource from the good people at ProgressiveMass. - promoted by david

Voting day for state primaries is just around the corner!  Progressive Massachusetts has endorsed in five races in the upcoming state primaries on Thursday, September 8. and our endorsed candidates need your help!

When Progressive Massachusetts supports progressive candidates in primaries, we are doing two important things for the long-term movement –

  • Making the legislature more progressive, so we can get more legislation passed
  • Building the bench of progressive leaders who someday can run for even higher office

Do your part this weekend.

Information is below on how to help our five progressive endorsees:
Monica Cannon (events in Roxbury)
Mike Connolly (events in Cambridge)
Pat Jehlen (events in Somerville, Cambridge, Medford)
Jack Lewis (events in Framingham, Ashland)
Moses Dixon (events in Worcester)

And don’t forget to donate to our candidates if you haven’t already!

Remember, your time and dollars go much further in state legislative races — and you’re investing in the movement long-term.


I think this is a problem. Remember the slap on the wrist of that "Brock" guy so as not to ruin a white guy's life? Well, check out this Springfield case - the same attitude seems alive and well, here

Read the comments, in which a long-time BMGer speaks of his personal acquaintance with the people involved. - promoted by david

Here is a quote from the case: “In the Becker case, the 18-year-old former East Longmeadow High School student was originally charged with two counts of rape, which could have netted him 20 years in prison. He would later submit to facts sufficient for a guilty finding on two lesser charges of indecent assault on a person age 14 or older.

Prosecutors wanted him to serve two years in jail on the lesser indecent assault charges, but Estes ordered the case continued without a finding. If Becker stays out of trouble with the law, stays away from drugs and alcohol and stays away from the victims, the case will not go on his record as a conviction, and he will not have to register as a sex offender.”


The rest of the article:


  Title of article: “Who is Thomas Estes? Judge in David Becker sexual assault case under glare of spotlight following ruling”×:

“Putting this kid in jail for two years would have destroyed this kid’s life.”  Said the defense lawyer.

What about the victiims?

Jamie Eldridge Goes There

Where a lot of BMG’ers have been on the subject of the state’s Democratic Party for some time. His comments as reported in the Globe:

“There are plenty of conservative Democrats who have been elected, unchallenged, for years if not decades, including at the local and legislative level….I personally think the time is ripe … for Sanders supporters/ progressives to ‘take over’ the Massachusetts Democratic Party, and have a serious influence on its platform, candidates, and policies.”