BMG Fundraiser Party Friday 1/23!

Bumped, for glory. - promoted by david

Dear BMGers: You are most cordially invited to our official, extra-special Blue Mass. Group 10th anniversary Propaganda Propulsion Pizza Party! It’s Friday January 23rd, starting at 6:30 pm, at Bertucci’s on Route 16 in Medford. Why there? David dropped his business card in a bowl and won a pizza party, so there you go. Pizza and wings are on them; cash bar for drinks.

We’re hoping that this event will serve two functions.  First, it’s good for everyone, including the BMG community, to step out from behind the keyboards now and then and meet up in person.  Those of you whom we’ve already met, we’d love to see again; those of you we’ve not yet encountered in person, what better time?

Second, we’re trying to raise some much-needed funds to maintain and upgrade the site, and we hope you’ll support our efforts.

Why a fundraiser after all this time? Well, the maintenance and minor improvements we’ve had over the last few years have been bankrolled — barely — by the slender stream of advertising revenue from the site. And when extra expenses have popped up, your editors have dipped into their own personal funds, even depriving their loved ones of life’s necessities in so doing. Not only have we not been making money from the site, we’ve been losing it – for years.

Now, we’ve made some changes, and we’d like to do more. You may agree that after all this time, the site could use a few improvements. We’ve finally moved to a new server. We need a new developer to take on some projects: A mobile-friendly version (i.e., “responsive”, in WordPress jargon) would be nice; more social-networking possibilities; maybe even an events calendar. As you can imagine, this is the kind of thing where you can spend as much money as you’ve got. Once we get a budget we can see what’s possible.

In addition, there will be a silent auction — donations of wicked classy things are most kindly accepted! Our donations are:
1. a voice lesson with Charley
2. lunch and constitutional banter with David — ask for his hilarious Stephen Breyer impression
3. a singed and signed copy of “Napalm” from Bob

Donate something valuable, or better yet, bid!

Do let us know if you plan to go, and give a percentage chance you’ll make it. Here’s a rough, easy translation of your words into percentages:

“I’m coming! Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor dead of night shall keep me from it!” = 75%
“I can make it. See you there” = 50%
“I think I can make it” = 10%
“I’ll try to make it” = 3%

And if you can’t make it, consider this BMG pledge time. Why not subscribe and do some small part to keep our little pamphlet mill cranking away?  Subscribing also gets you a spiffy gold badge by your user name, and cuts down on the advertising you’ll see on the site.  Alternatively, you can toss a few bucks our way using the PayPal button below:





So COME ON DOWN to Bertucci’s in Medford on 1/23. It would be great to see all or any of you in the flesh!

Quick, boys, raise the blimp

Run, Mitt, Run! Three's the charm! - promoted by Bob_Neer

It does not look as though His Etch-a-sketchelency will be on deck for very long.

Getting gas is painful.

Any time you wonder about whether Obama has been not the most romantic progressive boyfriend, please ponder how we’d be doing on climate issues with President Romney. This is a BFD:

WASHINGTON — In President Barack Obama’s latest move using executive authority to tackle climate change, administration officials are announcing plans this week to impose new regulations on the oil and gas industry’s emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

The administration’s goal is to cut methane emissions from oil and gas production by up to 45 percent by 2025 from the levels recorded in 2012, according to an official familiar with Obama’s plans.

Obama Administration to Unveil Plans to Cut Methane Emissions – Nation – The Boston Globe.

Obama Administration to Unveil Plans to Cut Methane Emissions - Nation - The Boston Globe

Natural gas does indeed burn cleaner than coal. It’s what happens when it doesn’t burn: Trapping 80x as much heat as CO2. (Methane decays; over a 100-year period it’s still 20x that of CO2. The 80x figure is relevant because we don’t have 100 years to wait.) So when it leaks — which it does — it loses much, if not all of its advantage. 

So one wonders what Charlie Baker’s seemingly lackluster energy team is going to do about our admittedly high electricity and gas prices. Just build another pipeline? Does that make sense? Let’s try to follow this logic:

  • If gas is cheap, we should expand capacity — cheap energy, everyone!
  • If gas is expensive (as it is now) … we should expand capacity!

No. The problem is our dependency on a price-volatile commodity. How about this: continue to bolster efficiency measures and price-stabilizing renewables — a booming industry that happens to be native to Massachusetts. Why shouldn’t Massachusetts shouldn’t go big on renewables, like California?

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone Outlines How the Boston Bid Should Go Forward to Benefit The Entire Region

A good discussion-starter. - promoted by david

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone’s Commonwealth piece is a must read for anyone following the Boston 2024 Bid. It is an even handed assessment of the real challenges the region will face, and why the risks and rewards will need to be regionalized for these games to be successful. It’s a piece supporters, opponents, and those on the fence would do well to read.

Mayor Curtatone has identified the only way forward for these games-a regionalized effort where burdens are shared, costs contained, and the legacy the games leave behind HAVE to include substantial long term investments in our crumbling infrastructure and depleted housing stock. He also addresses a need for greater civic engagement and transparency, using the Olympics as a springboard to get guaranteed federal funding for infrastructure improvements needed on a broad scale in a short timetable, and using the games to increase the permanent sustainability of our local economy.

The municipalities that constitute Greater Boston share many of the same goals that we’re trying to tackle in piecemeal fashion. The Olympics presents an opportunity to leap forward on some of the most pressing issues such as transportation, infrastructure, and housing. A true Boston Olympics should be one where we go to the International Olympic Committee and say, “This is how you do it better.”

Key questions remain:
1)Is this the kind of bid the IOC would actually approve?
2)Is it worth pursuing this bid the right way if it won’t be selected?
3)Can these laudable goals be achieved without an Olympic bid to spur them?

Glad to see at least one policymaker asking them, and looking towards the long term risks and rewards that the Games pose to the entire Commonwealth-not just the city of Boston itself.

Subscribe to BMG!

A fine idea! - promoted by Bob_Neer

Note/Edit: I’m still getting the hang of this… did it post the first time but I just can’t find it?

Hey! Did you know that for just $39.99 a year you can help BMG editors not lose money for providing, frankly, the best source of political news in the state? Well, I just did that, and you can too! See that little ‘Account’ button at the top of your screen? Click it! and get your credit card out. It takes two minutes. I’m new to this posting thing, but I’m having a blast! While you have your card out, why not send a few more of your dollars to worthy causes that value small dollar contributions.

I like:

Progressive Massachusetts.

Black Lives Matter Boston

Mass Alliance

There are a bunch of others, but so far as building a more progressive commonwealth, this is where I’d start!   Ok… /spam Hopefully I’ll get my act together to be a better poster and commenter over the next few weeks.

No pardon for Wahlberg

Former assistant AG Judith Beals offers a devastating argument against a pardon for Mark Wahlberg in the Globe:

Actor Mark Wahlberg has petitioned Massachusetts for a pardon of violent racial assaults he committed as a teenager. I prosecuted Wahlberg for his actions 26 years ago when I was an assistant attorney general. Now, as a private citizen, I see no reason why that history should be erased from the public record through a pardon. While private acts of reconciliation and forgiveness can be an important part of our shared racial history, that history should never be erased.

Wahlberg made his mark in Boston long before he became famous. He first came to the attention of the attorney general’s office in 1986 when Boston was still under court order to desegregate its public school system and racial tension was high.

On a Sunday afternoon, Jesse Coleman, a 12-year-old African-American boy, was walking on Savin Hill Beach when Wahlberg and his buddies began chasing him, hurling rocks and yelling racial epithets. When Jesse returned to the beach the next day on a school field trip, Wahlberg was there again with an even bigger gang, hurling rocks and more racial epithets at Jesse’s class, injuring two of the students.

The harm inflicted by racial harassment extends far beyond individual victims — it sends ripples of fear throughout entire communities. This case was no exception. But Wahlberg was not criminally prosecuted for his actions on Savin Hill Beach. Instead, we secured a civil rights injunction — a court order — that essentially amounted to a stern warning: if you do this again, you will go to prison.

In the 13 years I served in the attorney general’s office, I recall only one instance of a defendant violating a civil rights injunction — Mark Wahlberg. His attack on Thanh Lam and Hoa Trinh showed the same tendency toward serial acts of racial violence. The two men had no connection except for the fact that they were both Vietnamese. Wahlberg’s repeated racial epithets revealed an equally racist motivation albeit toward a different class – making clear that bigotry harbors no boundaries. But this time, Wahlberg was even more violent, breaking a five-foot pole over Thanh Lam’s head and punching Hoa Trinh to the ground. For this, he served 45 days in prison.

Racism is a vice that has hurt Boston and left its stain. To whitewash, as it were, Wahlberg’s grotesque crimes against children and immigrants would be obscene. He should be applauded for rising above his past, just as Boston and the nation should be, to the degree they have done so, but we should never forget it.

Hope for grassroots movements’ impacts on 2015-2016 legislative session

Sen. Eldridge outlines a progressive agenda. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Last week, the 2015-2016 legislative session began, with the swearing-in of the 189th General Court, and Governor Charlie Baker the following day. Media attention was focused on the three primary leaders of elected government: Governor Baker, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo. In their first public remarks for this two-year session, each expressed a strong commitment to working together to move the Commonwealth forward.

I cannot remember coming out of a stronger period of grassroots issue organizing leading into a new legislative session. Grassroots organizing can have a tremendous effect on bringing real change on Beacon Hill to pass bills and budget priorities that make a positive difference in the lives of Massachusetts residents. Here are some of the organizing efforts, and legislative opportunities for change this session:

Climate Change. A wide-range of organizations from 350MA.org to Climate XChange to the Environmental League of Massachusetts to the Sierra Club have organized around stopping the Kinder Morgan pipeline, increasing the investment in alternative energy, divesting the state pension fund from fossil fuel companies, passing a carbon tax, expanding the state’s energy efficiency programs, and investing in climate resiliency. Most of these ideas, and many others, will be filed as legislation this session.

Racially Biased Policing: Ferguson and Beyond. Outraged citizens, led in many communities by an impressive group of young black activists, took to public spaces and the streets to protest the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner over the past few months. With the aid of organizations such as the NAACP, the ACLU, and the Lawyers’ Civil Rights Committee, legislation is being drafted on racial profiling, police training, stop and frisk policies, the militarization of police, and review processes for civilian deaths.

Criminal Justice reform. Groups such as like Ex-Prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancement (EPOCA), Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), and the Criminal Justice Policy Coalition have been advocating for changes like CORI reform for years. Now, with the addition of groups like End Mass Incarceration Together and the Mass Restorative Justice Coalition, it seems like an opportunity in the Legislature to reform mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, bail reform, comprehensive rehabilitation of prisoners, restorative justice, and repealing the 5-year suspension of driver’s license for drug violations, among others

Economic Inequality.  Massachusetts has one of the largest gaps between the rich and poor in the U.S. The impressive organizing by the Raise Up Mass Coalition, to secure a legislative victory to raise the minimum wage, and a ballot victory to provide earned sick time for workers, marks a turn towards state policy to reduce inequality in Massachusetts. With groups like Mass Alliance, the Coalition for Social Justice, and Progressive Mass continuing to organize, , the stage is set for an even more expansive discussion about how to raise wages for low-income workers, and reverse the decades-old trend of a declining standard of living for a majority of Massachusetts residents. Legislation including expanding the EITC for working families, universal pre-K, investing in higher education, and strengthening consumer protections will all be on the table this session.

Workers’ Rights. The Massachusetts Coalition for Domestic Workers, led by the Brazilian Immigrant Center and including the AFL-CIO, Greater Boston Legal Services, MIRA, and JALSA, was successful in passing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights during the last session. With the increase in wage theft by employers, the growing efforts to unionize fast food restaurants, hospitals, and universities, and a need for greater protections of workers, legislation addressing these areas will surely be coming up.

Each of these grassroots movements has really gained strength over the past two years. However, the activism, energy, and strategic plans to pass legislation that provides shared prosperity for all residents, takes stronger action on climate change, and restores the civil rights of many underprivileged communities across the state will require further vigilance that cannot take a break as the 2015-2016 legislative session begins.

Elizabeth Warren, What Is Best In Life?

Testimony to Warren's power: bravo! And to the sorry reality that, left to its own devices, the administration will choose Wall Street. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, hear the lamentation of Wall Street.

That is good!

via TPM

 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has won her push to stop banker Antonio Weiss from becoming the under secretary for domestic policy at the Treasury Department.

Weiss asked President Barack Obama not to resend his nomination for the job, Politico reported on Monday and the White House confirmed to TPM.

Weiss, a Democrat and banker at Lazard, had been in the crosshairs of Warren over the last few weeks as she railed against the unnecessary influence of Wall Street in the halls of Congress.

Warren had maintained that Weiss’s background as a banker who was involved in a merger between Tim Horton’s and Burger King disqualified him from the Treasury post.

“I am writing to request that the administration not re-submit my nomination,” Weiss wrote in the letter to Obama, according to Politico. “I do not believe the Treasury Department would be well served by the lengthy confirmation process my renomination would likely entail.”

Weiss will instead take a job as an adviser to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, which does not require congressional approval.

Yes! This is a big win for the middle class and those families struggling to get up to middle class. Now the President can find someone to work in Treasury who is not all cozy with Wall Street.

Obama and the death of idealism?

An entertaining project by New York Magazine asked 53 historians to assess President Obama’s legacy. This is part of what local hero Samuel Moyn, a professor at the president’s alma mater Harvard Law School, had to say:

In assessing Obama’s historical legacy, what do you believe will be the aspect of his presidency that is currently least understood or misunderstood? In other words, for better or worse, what single thing looks smallest now but will matter most to future historians?

The president’s contributions were sometimes remarkable, but Obama’s primary legacy is his destruction of political idealism for the foreseeable future. He proved an impressive steward of the traditions of his party since the 1970s, which have been to moralize American power and humanize American markets—both dubious goals in themselves. Where Obama differed from all others in his tradition was his brief but unforgettable achievement of a surprisingly large consensus around a belief—or delusion—that Americans rarely entertain. Put simply, it was that American politics could and must fundamentally change. Hard-bitten realists welcomed Obama’s immediate return to type, after his election, as confirmation of their cynicism, but the truth is that we will never know what would have happened if Obama, on the strength of his first electoral victory, had tried to live up to the hype. We do know that the energies he conjured will not reappear soon and are less likely to do so because he summoned them for so ordinary and predictable a set of policies.

You can read Moyn’s complete response to the magazine here. What do you think? Does the president represent “destruction of political idealism for the foreseeable future?” (Disclosure: Sam is a teacher of mine, and a friend: I’ll forward your thoughts to him).

Game: Senate Leadership Predictions

  - promoted by david

Who do you think is going to be appointed to the top leadership spots in the Senate?

Name your predictions for the following positions:

Majority Leader (10 Points)
Ways and Means Chair (9 points)
President Pro Tempore (8 Points)
Majority Whip (7 Points)
Assistant Majority Leader (or is it Assistant to the Majority Leader?) (6 Points)

Who ever gets the most points wins 10 Schrute bucks!

 

 

Intertribal Problems Stuck on Stupid

Who is the enemy? Wrong question. *What* is the enemy? - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

We are going into our fifth month of demonstrations and actions all over the USA about police violence and sanctioned summary judgment. Hearing, reading, seeing the news, it seems as if brutality, terror, and torture are breaking out worldwide, with beheadings and mass killings happening at, perhaps, a quickening rate. Violence meeting violence to make more violence, intertribal problems stuck on stupid, here and abroad.

Recently, I saw a DVD of “The Interrupters,” (http://interrupters.kartemquin.com) on an open cart in the library and I took it home. It’s a documentary about a group called Ceasefire which “interrupts” street violence between gangs and violent individuals in Chicago. CeaseFire’s founder, Gary Slutkin, is an epidemiologist who believes that violence spreads like an infectious disease and uses a “medical” treatment: “go after the most infected, and stop the infection at its source,” to stop it. One part of that treatment is the “Violence Interrupters” program, created by Tio Hardiman, a group of street-credible, mostly former offenders who defuse conflict before it becomes violence. They can speak from experience about consequences and how “no matter what the additional violence is not going to be helpful.”

About the same time, a friend wrote me about a radio interview (http://www.ttbook.org/book/reforming-lapd) with Constance Rice, a civil rights attorney and cousin to the former Secretary of State, who has trained 50 LA police officers over the last five years in “public trust policing” at Nickerson Gardens, an LA public housing project.

I picked up “The Interrupters” because I was wondering why we didn’t hear about this group in relation to what has been happening with the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamar Rice and others. I listened to the interview with Constance Rice for the same reason. Why haven’t I seen Ms Rice, Gary Slutkin, or Tio Hardiman on my TV screen and all over “social media”? They are doing some things which have proven to work in their own communities. How much of what they’ve done in Chicago and LA can apply to NYC and Boston and other places all around the world? Can they teach us all how to interrupt our own violence and to build a system of public trust policing? As Tio Hardiman says in the DVD: “We’ve been taught violence. Violence is learned behavior.” Can these people and the others like them teach us how to unlearn our violent behavior?

We’ll never know unless their voices are part of the conversation.

Here are my notes on public trust policing from Constance Rice’s interview:

“We start by saying you’re not going to get promoted for how many arrests you make… I told these cops you are not in the arrest business. You are a specialized unit that is in the trust building business…. building trust through service, trust through service and by doing that they’ve completely won over these populations… 66% reduction in property crimes, a 90% reduction in physical crimes… There has not been a murder in Nickerson Gardens for three years….

“To do community trust policing requires a cop to population ratio that we don’t have, #2 it requires you to completely rewrite all the assumptions of policing #3 it requires you to change all of the promotional criteria… They get rewarded for creating relationships… These cops have gotten standing ovations from public housing populations….

“They [critics] can’t argue with the statistics…. We’re talking now five years of data, of constant double digit drops, to the point that the homicides don’t happen anymore…

“A gang murder can cost a million dollars to 17 million dollars… This program has saved hundreds of millions of dollars for the city of Los Angeles… as much as $150 million… a back of the envelope calculation… [number of attacks on police and cops injured on thre job] with this unit, it’s down to zero

“What’s going to change it is changing how cops think and changing how they respond, to everybody, but in particular poor Black people and poor Latino people and poor White people because if you look at the stats on poor Whites they aren’t much better…. What will help them [cops] change and that’s what we have to focus on and that’s what I’m in the business of doing.”

Full interview at http://www.ttbook.org/book/reforming-lapd

Here are my notes on the Interrupters:

“The film’s main subjects work for an innovative organization, CeaseFire. It was founded by an epidemiologist, Gary Slutkin, who believes that the spread of violence mimics the spread of infectious diseases, and so the treatment should be similar: go after the most infected, and stop the infection at its source. One of the cornerstones of the organization is the ‘Violence Interrupters’ program, created by Tio Hardiman, who heads the program. The Interrupters — who have credibility on the streets because of their own personal histories — intervene in conflicts before they explode into violence.”

Gary Slutkin: “Violence is like the great infectious diseases of all history… I saw it as bad behavior not bad people….
Two step process: I have a grievance. The grievance justifies violence.”
Editorial Comment: Interrupt at the point of justification. Vengeance versus justice.

GS: “Everyone has got a grievance and so we just have to say no matter what the additional violence is not going to be helpful. So we’re not in that good and bad game. We’re not in that drama.”

GS: “…reducing violence is not a bandaid, it’s actually a pathway to a neighborhood to develop….
Editorial Comment: Conflict resolution as self-help and development, positive protest, Gandhian economics, cooperation

Tio Hardiman
“We’ve been taught violence. Violence is learned behavior.”
TH: “You cannot mediate conflict without confrontation.”

The Interrupters
http://interrupters.kartemquin.com

Appeals Court Tells Jack O'Brien and Liz Tavares to Stay Home Because They're Not So Sure a Crime Was Committed

An interesting development. - promoted by david

The Probation convictions are not as clear cut as people think. So says a federal appeals court.

…on Friday night, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit said in a brief ruling that“the court is persuaded of a sufficient probability that the appeals present a ‘substantial question’ of law,”..

Keepin  fingers crossed.