Even the Paris deal is not enough

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On December 30, the Boston Globe posted my opinion piece entitled “The Paris deal is not enough, and time is running out.”  There are a number of reasons why various writers have observed that there may be glimmers of hope for the climate notwithstanding President-elect Trump’s position that climate change is a Chinese-perpetrated hoax.  For example, there are already more solar industry jobs than coal-mining jobs in the United States, and the grim future for coal generation is due far less to environmental regulation than to the relatively low cost of natural gas.

Unfortunately, while the glimmers are real, they provide a seriously incomplete picture.

No responsible person disputes that to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change we need to keep the increase in global average temperatures by the end of the century “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.  However, the opinion piece observes:

Even if the Obama administration’s policies — like the Paris Agreement, the Clean Power Plan, and strict automobile and appliance standards — were fully implemented, we would be nowhere close to that target. According to the UN Environment Program, even if the carbon reduction pledges made in Paris are honored, the world is heading toward a likely temperature rise of 2.9 to 3.4 degrees this century.

The Globe piece discusses the concept of a “carbon budget,” developed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, the world’s foremost scientific expert body on climate change.  The carbon budget is the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted into the atmosphere without causing the earth’s average temperature increase to exceed the target of 1.5 degrees (i.e., “well below” 2 degrees) or 2 degrees by the end of the century.

The IPCC concludes:

[I]f the current rate of emissions continues, there is a 66 percent chance that the carbon budget for keeping the global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees will be used up sometime in 2021. In other words, even if we stopped all emissions five years from now, we’d still have only two chances out of three to hit a 1.5-degree target. (If we loosen the target to 2 degrees, we have 20 to 30 years left to eliminate all emissions in order to have a 66 percent chance of success.)

This is not an academic exercise.  In light of the sea level rise attributable to climate change that the IPCC and others predict if the world stays on its current emissions path, by 2070 Kolkata could have 14 million people at risk; Mumbai, 11 million; Guangzhou, China, 10 million; Dhaka, Bangladesh, 11 million; and Ho Chi Minh City, 9 million.  In other words, the refugee crisis the world is experiencing now is a pale forecast of things to come.  And that’s not to mention severe heat waves, global food insecurity, and the salinization of freshwater aquifers.

The Globe piece also notes:

If we were to use all the fossil fuels extracted so far and those that could be extracted in the future with today’s technologies (but not necessarily at current prices), leading scientists and economists have estimated that the rise in temperature would be an unimaginable 8.8 degrees Celsius.

There may be just time to step back from the precipice.  But as the piece notes, a more apt metaphor is: “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

Here’s the link to my December 30 opinion piece:



2000 Participate in Four Freedoms March in Pittsfield

Video at the link. - promoted by david


What Congressional Democrats should do (but won't)

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Anyone who’s successfully dealt with bullies knows that the only thing that stops ‘em is to bully them back.

I know that Congressional Democrats will have to keep their powder dry, and when the Republicans go low they need to lose go high, and all of those excuses for doing nought but increasing their personal wealth. But if they actually want to do something to control the situation, they need to go big. And go bad, and do it quick.

I suggest that they stall/stop every single Trump appointee/nominee, as best as can be done, while attacking them in the press with the most heinous and savage stuff they have, until the Republicans do one thing – give Democrats the SCOTUS Justice that’s been stolen from us. Hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, and if he gets voted down they’ll continue to hold votes for Democratic nominees – and after some number are rejected, Democrats get to simply select who gets the position.

I.e., just do what the Republicans do, but be honest.

If the Democrats give the Garland affair a pass, there is zero hope for the next four years. None. The battlin’ Congressional Dems will have shown the world that they can be stomped on like a bug without consequences, and thus the stompings will only get worse.

Clark has guts

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To boycott the swearing in saying to attend would ‘normalize Trump’s promotion of bigoted, misogynist, anti-Semitic and racist claims.”

” In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”   GEORGE  ORWELL

Democracy, now and forever.  Let this be our new battle cry.

Bravo, Katherine !

Fred  Rich  LaRiccia

Chair, Congresswoman Katherine Clark Committee






Picking Our Battles

promoted by david

I have stated, ad nauseam perhaps, what I think the important fights are.

But what say you? Trump puts (and will keep putting) so many fish in the barrel that it will be hard to decide which ones to eat, to mix a metaphor.

For example, I would pass (painfully enough) on the Supreme Court vacancy. We lost that one, and I think we would be better off de-escalating future Supreme Court fights. (Which, I know, might not work.) But the lesser, federal counts — on which there are something like 100 vacancies — we need to fight on those seats, lest the entire federal bench become a GOP stronghold.

We have a unique opportunity to impose greater scrutiny on the intelligence community, and to rein in the CIA. We should take that opportunity.

What else?

Rogue One: Recruitment Poster for The Resistance

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Some lessons from Rogue One:

  • You have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.
  • However greedy, evil, vain, and cruel, power will find servants. Some of those servants will prove capable.
  • The grownups will not protect you.
  • When offered the choice between truth and justice or tickets to the inaugural ball, Republicans will take the tickets.
  • Ask not what your galaxy can do for you: ask what you can do for your galaxy.
  • Do not rely too much on the Democratic Party: the institution will sometimes seek safety and compromise at the crucial moment.
  • The volunteers will bear any burden and pay any price, but someone has got to ask.
  • The problems of little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.
  • All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given you.
  • That may be less than you thought.
  • You cannot outrun what is coming.
  • Faith manages.
  • Hope.

Hoping for the best...

Bumped, for glory. - promoted by david

We seem to be back up again.  We’re working on the problems, which are quite stubborn.  At the moment, comments are disabled, but posting appears to be working normally.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: We’ve enabled comments.  As of this moment (Tuesday at 11:20 am), things seem to be working normally.  Let’s see what happens…

FURTHER UPDATE: OK, it appears that not quite everything is normal.  Specifically, user posts are not visible in the usual right sidebar.  You can actually post, we just can’t see the link.  If you want to post, please do so and let us know, either by emailing us (blue at bluemassgroup dot com) or posting a comment here.  We can then front-page, which I think should work and should allow everyone to see the post.

Test Post

Test to make sure promotion is working. - promoted by david

A train leaves Washington carrying 17 Democrats, while another train leaves Wisconsin carrying 19 Republicans.

If the train from Washington is traveling at the speed of light, while the train from Wisconsin is traveling at the speed of sound, will Jeff Sessions be confirmed on a party-line vote?

We're back...?

Well, that was distressing.  As you probably know, BMG has been down for several days.  We’re not sure exactly what happened, nor are we sure that the problem has been resolved.  But, at the moment, we seem to be running normally again.

It’s clear that, for the site to continue, we need some fairly significant technical upgrades.  More announcements along those lines are coming soon.

In the meantime, happy holidays, and best wishes for 2017.

Stiffening of spines

The one tiny bit of comfort I take in the horrors that are to come, is that hardly any of them are based on popular policy. How can you take away health care from 20 million people and not suffer a political consequence? How can you voucherize and cheapen Medicare, to the point that we’ll be paying for our parents’ health care in order to afford a tax cut for the rich? Even Trump ran against that. How can you cripple clean energy (popular) and pollute clean air and water (also popular), without political cost?

You can’t. People don’t like that stuff, and they didn’t think they were voting for it.  “We” haven’t gone away. And “we” are most of us.

I have to appreciate the words of Charles Blow, furious and comforting at the same time:

… Angry yet? Yes. Good!

And understand this: You are not alone; you aren’t even in the minority …

… I know that it can feel like we are all drowning in a deluge of compounding outrages, with every headline about this impending administration appearing to one-up the last, but take heart.

You may have been on the losing side of this year’s election, but you are on the right side of history. In the final tally, courage will always defeat fear; love will always conquer hate; the beautiful diversity of America, and indeed all of humanity, will always outshine the darkness of racial enmity.

This is the reason I write, to remind people of honor and courage; to tell them that their cause isn’t lost, that their destiny is victory.

And with that … you may have seen this circulating social media: A note from former Congressional staffers on how the left can take up the tactics of the Tea Party circa 2009-10. Of course we should do so! It’s also known as politics, or showing up, or witnessing, if you’re fancy about it. And even in Massachusetts, our electeds need to know to stand firm in opposition. Even the “good” ones in “safe” districts need to hear it:

Help, My MoC [Member of Congress - ed] is in a Safe District!

If your MoC is in a heavily Democratic or Republican district, you may assume that they have a safe seat and there’s nothing you can do to influence them. This is not true! The reality is that no MoC ever considers themselves to be safe from all threats. MoCs who have nothing to fear from a general election still worry about primary challenges.

More broadly, no one stays an MoC without being borderline compulsive about protecting their image. Even the safest MoC will be deeply alarmed by signs of organized opposition, because these actions create the impression that they’re not connected to their district and not listening to their constituents.

Help, my MoCs are actually pretty good!

Congratulations! Your Senators and Representative are doing what they should to fight racism, authoritarianism, and corruption. They’re making the right public statements, co-sponsoring the right bills, and voting the right way. So how does this change your strategy? Two key things to keep in mind:

Do NOT switch to targeting other Members of Congress who don’t represent you. They don’t represent you, and they don’t care what you have to say. Stick with your own local MoCs.

DO use this guide to engage with your MoCs locally. Instead of pressuring them to do the right thing, praise them for doing the right thing. This is important because it will help ensure that they continue to do the right thing. Congressional staff are rarely contacted when the MoC does something good — your efforts locally will provide highly valuable positive reinforcement.

There may be some other things we can do to influence beyond Massachusetts, but bucking up our own Reps’ taste for the fight is one of them. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Remember: We’re the majority.

Committee of Safety

People getting together ... - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Tonight I was proud to be one of 50+ attendees at a meeting combining representatives of the Malden, Melrose, and Wakefield Democratic Committees (and one representative from Lynnfield). Held in Malden, this meeting was probably one of many similar gathering held across the country whose theme was basically, “What can/should we do now?” The formal tag line was “Thoughts into Action.” Ideas ranged across issues advocacy, engaging new/infrequent voters, protecting human rights, and improving committee organization locally and statewide—along with sharing our best practices and events, not only within our organizations but also across our region and beyond.  For me personally, the meeting helped crystallize the way I want to focus the time I have to give to improving the Commonwealth (and my city) in the near future. The proof will be in the action.

We experienced a healthy tension among a range of issues, from climate change to income inequality to pressuring the State Committee–and our state elected officials–to DO MORE. Would women’s reproductive issues be part of human rights/sanctuary cities or a separate issue? Would income inequality receive its own small break-out or be subsumed under another? No perfection here—just the messiness of ordinary people with a will to take action. Common themes were anger, frustration, and fear—and wanting to transform those legitimate feelings into practical action, satisfaction, inspiration for others—and real achievement. Most inspiring, perhaps, were two age poles—the group of students who had formed a High School Democrats club at their Wakefield high school—and the retired teacher from Malden who said “I’m here to defend the Constitution of the United States of America.” While the meeting was a first step and not conclusive, each of us emerged with a clearer idea of what we want to accomplish, and some actions we can take. One small step for a region, one giant leap for NOT curling up in a fetal position for the next 4 years. Kudos to Sam Hammer (Melrose), Amanda Smith (Malden) and their associates, not all of whose names I caught. Stronger together.

Getting the Marijuana Law Up and Running: It's Not About the Money

On the first day that it’s legal to possess and grow marijuana in Massachusetts there are some happy faces outside the State House.

But inside the State House, seems it’s a different story.

For example, State Treasurer (and, notably, Question 4 opponent) Deborah Goldberg is troubled because, as she told Politico yesterday, the new law requires her to set up a Cannabis Control Commission to regulate the sale of marijuana — and to do it quickly, but she has no idea where the start-up money is going to come from. Eventually, the costs will be paid for by marijuana sales tax revenues, but those are a year or more away. “Tough times moving forward,” she said.

(If you’re wondering why this funding issue wasn’t addressed in Question 4 itself, that’s because ballot questions are not allowed to include any appropriations of money.)

Goldberg is doubtful that that funds will be forthcoming from the state, citing the Governor’s recent mid-year budget cuts as evidence of our currently precarious fiscal situation. She’s also opposed to requesting that money come from the state’s Rainy Day Fund (even though that’s where the start up costs — $15 million worth — to regulate the nascent gambling industry came from a few years back).

OK, let’s look elsewhere.  How about that $1 billion (that’s billion with a “b”)  economic development bill? Its passage last summer led to much enthusiastic gushing about the many ways it would connect residents to economic opportunities, develop the jobs of tomorrow, unlock economic development priorities, create opportunities for businesses in diverse industries, etc., etc. Surely a little of that money could get this newest industry up and running.  The funds could even be in the form of a loan to be paid back once the sales tax revenues start flowing.

It’s as though the opposition of some of our state leaders to legalizing marijuana in the first place may be giving way to a contrived fatalism that the problem of start-up costs makes implementing the law impossible at present. What happened to that can-do attitude we saw when $150 million appeared, rather magically, to seal the deal to bring General Electric to Boston? (Oh, and by the way on that subject, the House today today advanced a bill to study the feasibility of a helipad near the new GE headquarters.)

There are lots of possible solutions to this relatively minor problem. Finding one just requires some political will.