The House Voted on Three Democratic Budgets Yesterday. How Did the MA Delegation Vote?

Interesting datapoints. - promoted by david

Yesterday, the House voted on three Democratic budget proposals: the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s People’s Budget, the Congressional Black Caucus’s budget, and the Democratic Caucus’s budget.

Of the three budgets, the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s budget is always the “gold standard” of them. Here is a run-down of the budget by the Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel:

On the investment side, the CPC expands investments in areas vital to our future. It would rebuild America, modernizing our outmoded infrastructure. It would invest to lead the green industrial revolution that is already forging markets and creating jobs across the globe.

The CPC understands that we must do the basics in education. It would provide pre-K for every child, the most important single reform we can make in education. It calls for increasing investment in our public schools, helping to mitigate the destructive inequality between rich districts and poor. It would provide students with four years of debt-free college education, and pay for renegotiating existing student loans, relieving the burden now crushing an entire generation.

An Olympics referendum? Should've just asked BMG.

Well, looky looky. Boston 2024, and Mayor Walsh, have now completed their slow-motion about-face on putting something about the Olympics on the ballot.  Having previously indicated that they opposed that course of action, they’ve now gone all-in and are saying they will actually sponsor a ballot question (exactly what it will say remains to be seen, and, as the Globe accurately points out, this is quite important.)

It would be churlish to point out that this is the exact advice BMG generously offered the Mayor and Boston 2024 a few months ago.  But we are nothing if not churlish around here, so we’ll point it out.

I frankly can’t imagine what the case against a public referendum would be.  So come on, Boston 2024 and Mayor Walsh, just back a referendum.  Then everyone will know that you mean it when you say that you only want to have the Olympics in Boston if the people are behind it.

Imagine the money they could have saved on high-priced PR consultants and the like!  We remain pleased to offer BMG as a free service to the Massachusetts political community.

Snark aside, this is good news.  Yes, ballot questions can be “bought,” and we should anticipate a lot of spending directed toward getting people to vote Boston 2024′s way – just as we saw with the casino question.  And there’s virtually no doubt that the anti-Olympics side will be badly outspent by the pro-Olympics side.  So it’s not a perfect solution.  But it is the best one available, and therefore it is the right one.

Deval Patrick's Newest Gig? Lobbying for the TPP

Of interest. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Recently, our former governor took a job as a “global ambassador” for the Boston 2024 Partnership. Although he’s now “volunteering” and not taking the $7,500 a day compensation package, I’m sure he’ll get a very generous expense account to use for his wining and dining of IOC commissioners.

However, lobbying the IOC isn’t his own gig now. He’s also lobbying for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal written by and for large corporations which the Obama administration has been aggressively pushing.

Deval Patrick was announced today as a member of the advisory board of the so-called Progressive Coalition for American Jobs, a front group run by former Obama aides. Here’s the Associated Press on the announcement:

President Obama’s allies are recruiting high-profile Democrats to help combat liberal resistance to his bid for new trade agreements in Asia and elsewhere.

The effort will sharpen differences between the Democratic Party’s liberal and pro-business wings, especially in New England. And it could accelerate the effort to woo black lawmakers, a key target in the House.

Heading a pro-trade advisory board being announced Tuesday are former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and former US. Trade Representative and Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk.

Kirk’s and Gregoire’s roles are not surprising. But Patrick’s might add some sizzle to the trade debate heating up in Congress. Among the Obama trade agenda’s strongest critics is another Massachusetts Democrat, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Patrick and Kirk are two of the nation’s most prominent African-American politicians. Obama has openly wooed the Congressional Black Caucus in hopes of securing some of the House Democratic votes he will need to pass his trade plans.

I wrote about the “Progressive Coalition for American Jobs” two weeks ago at the Daily Kos. It’s the Democratic-aligned PR firm behind Democrat-in-name-only Ro Khanna’s congressional campaign against Mike Honda (CA-17) and Educators for Excellence, a Gates-funded front group that advocates against teacher tenure and for teacher evaluation systems that rely on the use of standardized test scores.

Boston 2024 Tells Supporters to "Get Inspired" by Watching a Leni Riefenstahl Film

"Boston 2024 is not 'deliberately promoting the Nazi agenda.'” And, "The list of 'inspirational' movies also included Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film Munich, which is based on the Israeli operation to assassinate the members of the PLO responsible for killing 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich." Amazing. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Boston 2024 hasn’t been having the best PR lately, and today (or, now, yesterday) was no different.

At 2:20 in the afternoon, Boston 2024 tweeted out a link to a list of the “10 best” Olympic movies, telling supporters to watch them and “get inspired.”

Boston_2024_on_Twitter_Have_you_seen_all_top_ten_Olympics_movies_on_this_list_Get_inspired._On_your_couch._#LazySunday_#Boston2024_t.co_T2pQt9rNUu_-_2015-03-22_16.01.50

 

The first movie on that list was Leni Riefenstahl’s movie about the 1936 Olympics Olympia. You may recognize Riefenstahl as the director the famous Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will.

The Nazi connections of Olympia are deeper than just that:

While official documentation ascribes “Olympia” to a company named Leni Riefenstahl Productions, the film’s finances were in fact controlled by Paul Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda (Berg-Pan, 1980). Furthermore, a frank assessment of Riefenstahl’s possible complicity must not ignore her work for the National Socialist Party (prior to “Olympia”) making a film titled “Triumph of the Will.” In “Triumph of the Will,” the power of the National Socialist Party is clearly exhibited, and everything the German government believed good about Nazism is on display.

(h/t universal hub)

Although the Evan Falchuk replied shortly after the tweet went up to question the Riefenstahl inclusion, the tweet stayed up for another 8 hours before Boston 2024 deleted it–without ever acknowledging doing so or doing anything wrong.

To make matters worse, the USOC Communication Director Patrick Sandusky defended the inclusion of Olympia, downplaying the Nazi ties.    He then said–in what is hilarious either within or outside of context–that Boston 2024 is not “deliberately promoting the Nazi agenda.”

The list of “inspirational” movies also included Steven Spielberg’s 2005 film Munich, which is based on the Israeli operation to assassinate the members of the PLO responsible for killing 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

One has to wonder whether they even read what they tweeted out……

 

Chicago Trib sees big trouble for Boston2024

Oh for @MayorEmanuel's commentary on this. That feed was Chicago's greatest cultural achievement since Second City (which, in fairness to LA, should be renamed Third City, but never mind). - promoted by Bob_Neer

The Chicago Tribune says it looks like Boston’s Olympic bid is foundering, and it reflects badly on Boston2024 and on the USOC.

The current impression is Boston’s bid leaders sold the USOC a bill of goods, the USOC swallowed it, no one got any public buy-in, and both parties now are trying to shove it down the throats of the local citizenry, who have demonstrated a very strong gag reflex.

Sounds about right, to me.

Massachusetts Needs to Act on Civil Forfeiture

"Your money, or your life." - promoted by Bob_Neer

So, when a listing of states comes out regarding civil liberties or quality of life, I generally expect Massachusetts to be near the top.  We were kind of ahead of the curve in the 1770s and I’d like to believe we’ve stayed there generally.  But it was disappointing to learn that Massachusetts languishes near the basement on one hot civil rights issue — civil forfeiture.  If you’re not familiar with the concept, “civil forfeiture” is the fancy term for when police seize objects they believe had been used in commission of a crime. Seemingly innocent, but there are three issues which make civil forfeiture a sticky issue:

  • There is a low bar to take this property from citizens.  Rather than being required to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that property was used in a crime, police usually need a lower bar.  They take the property, and to get it back you need to hire a lawyer to prove a negative.  In other words, if police mange to convince a judge or jury that your car was probably used in criminal dealings, you no longer own a car.  If someone was using your house as part of a criminal enterprise, you may no longer own a house.  An NFL player lost a truck and $200,000 because the man (who is paid in the millions) was sitting there with marijuana and lots of cash.  Some states require a preponderance of evidence.  In the Bay State, they only need the negligible “probable cause”.
  • The threat of impounding property can be used to ensure compliance with other rackets.  A family dependent on their car in order to get to work can suddenly be staring at a spiral of debt unless they comply with demands from the police.  One town in Texas has perfected this legal extortion.
  • Finally, the property is not donated to those who may need it, but sold.  And the money made from selling this property often goes right to the police department that seizes it.  Some states such as Maine prevent this move to give police a financial incentive to take property, ask questions later.  Does it surprise any reader to learn that this is the case in Ferguson, Missouri?  Here at home, seized property goes right in to the budget that pays the officers’ salaries.

It is on that final point that I want to dwell, for that is not the case universally.   New Mexico is moving to end the practice, with a bill on track to the governor.  In Maine, the money goes to the general fund, not the local station.  Same in North Dakota.  Vermont justice demands “clear and convincing evidence”.  Here in Massachusetts, the police have used a handful of cases to muscle family owners out of their motel.

I’m not aware of any bills to correct this in Massachusetts.  Hopefully our Legislature or Governor starts to move against this legalized injustice that puts police and law-abiding civilians on different sides of the courtroom.

Bay State Banner asks "Are the Olympics a City Planning Opportunity?", Walsh Says Yes, Chris Dempsey and I say NO

The winner of 72,514 Boston votes against two strong opinions. - promoted by Bob_Neer

A very even handed and informative piece on the growing skepticism of the Boston community, particularly communities of color, towards Mayor Walsh’s incessant push for an Olympic Bid as a “city planning opportunity”. Christopher Dempsey, lead organizer for No Boston Olympics and yours truly were also interviewed for our perspectives. Feel free to check it out!

Mass Senate’s “Commonwealth Conversations” a hit – now it’s time for action

Jamie Eldridge is is an Acton native and the son of a public school kindergarten teacher and electrical engineer. He represents the Middlesex and Worcester District. Thanks, Senator Eldridge. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Over the past two months, the State Senate toured Massachusetts to make government even more accessible and hear directly from residents on issues that matter most to them. It was a memorable and heartening experience to hear people express their thoughts about the FY16 budget, legislation, and policy that they believe would benefit the Commonwealth during the forum. I appreciated hearing the feedback, particularly as the Legislature wrestles with another tight budget this coming year.

As a takeaway, we gained a better understanding of the unique set of issues each region is facing, and that state government needs to be more in tune with these circumstances. What’s more, hundreds of people from Pittsfield to Newburyport showed up at each forum to express their opinions. It was very humbling to have so many people participate in Commonwealth Conversations.

A few of the concerns residents highlighted included:

• Solving the state’s drug crisis
• Increasing funding for local aid, especially education
• Improving public transportation
• Investing in higher education and workforce training
• Helping low-income workers
• Raising the quality of healthcare
• Stimulating the economy

With Commonwealth Conversations now over, the State Senate will begin reviewing the testimony throughout the tours and hopefully generate new ideas. Here’s hoping those innovative proposals make their way into the FY16 budget or a new bill. It is absolutely critical that the legislative agenda of the State Senate meets the needs of the thousands of people who took time off from work and a night with friends or family to express their hopes, dreams, and wishes for Massachusetts.

Since I was first elected, I have fought for greater transparency and decentralization in the Legislature. After three months of the new session, I’m extremely proud of the improved outreach, transparency, and equity of the Massachusetts State Senate. Not to be an exception, Commonwealth Conversations blended all three of these key values into each of the tours.

Now it’s time for action.

Don't Let The Hillary People and The Republicans Fool You, Sen. Elizabeth Warren Is No Sen. Barack Obama. She'll Win Over Reagan Dems. Establishment Scared to Death

An cogent case for Warren 2016. If Warren runs I suppose we'll finally discover what does happen when an immovable object meets an irresistible force. - promoted by Bob_Neer

So now the Hillaryites (disguised as pro Liz Warren people or disinterested Dems) say Liz should not run because the country will view her as another Barack Obama. A first term fluke senator who suddenly becomes the flavor of the week among the shallow ignorant self-impressed  dominating the “progressive” wing of the party can not be paraded in front of the American people again. Just ain’t gonna work.

Don’t buy it. Just the old folks doing their devotions to the Blessed Hillary. They know they blew their chance eight years ago but hubris makes them believe the seas should be parted for her candidacy.

Screw them.

Face it folks, making Barack Obama President in ’08 was like putting One Direction in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year. Like them, Barack is a manufactured boy band who plays to a much larger audience. With Liz it’s more like a young Aretha just walked in the room.

Don’t believe me? How about the dozens of “present’ votes he took in the U.S. Senate?

Obama was more like a sports prospect a general manager falls in love with. Guy should have stayed in the minors never mind starting game one in the World Series.

And it shows.

Now Liz, Liz is much different. She has a record and would never vote “present” over and over again for political ambition.

That’s just a start.

But the real point is that everyone is afraid of Liz. That says much.

What really scares the Republicans is that Liz plays to Reagan Democrats probably more than Reagan. So they and Hillary have to drown out her message to beat her. That won’t be easy.

BTW why again is it that Liz Warren fans do not want her to run for president? I just don’t get the argument against from her fans.

Reality bites: Boston 2024 now open to ballot question on the Olympics

Looks like reality just slapped the Boston 2024 pooh-bahs in the face.  After a really terrible two weeks, in which the folks trying to bring the Olympics to Boston saw their poll numbers nosedive so that a majority of Boston-area respondents (52%) now oppose the idea, were so embarrassed by the revelation that they were planning to pay ex-Gov. Deval Patrick an eye-popping $7,500 a day for boosting the bid that Patrick himself had to reverse course and say he’d do it for free, and came close to losing the support of their most sympathetic Globe columnist, they’ve come around to what should have been obvious from the get-go: they cannot have an Olympics in Boston unless the people want it.  From today’s Globe:

The local Olympic bid committee says it will move forward with a proposal to bring the 2024 Summer Games to Boston only if a majority of the public shows support for the effort — and the panel would be open to a statewide referendum to accomplish that.

“We’re only in this if we have a majority with us,” said Richard Davey, chief executive of the bid committee, Boston 2024, in a Globe interview over the weekend. “It’s clear we have to find a measure to show that support. How we measure, we’re open to that.” … Davey stopped short of directly calling for a referendum, saying the committee is open to how the support would be measured, either with a vote or through public polling closer to the deadline for submitting a bid.

This is a startling turnabout from Boston 2024′s earlier statements, which (under now-departed president Daniel O’Connell) seemed to take the position that even a defeat at the ballot wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of the bid.  Perhaps not coincidentally, O’Connell is now gone from the process, and that surprising line hasn’t been repeated.

Boston 2024′s newfound commitment to majority public support is certainly welcome – some of us have been saying from day 1 that Boston 2024 should be the first to embrace the idea of a ballot question.

It’s politically stupid not to hold a referendum.  A positive result allows backers to proclaim that the public is behind the bid, without fear of contradiction.  Whereas relying on polls, or on elected officials, can and will always be second-guessed…. I frankly can’t imagine what the case against a public referendum would be.  So come on, Boston 2024 and Mayor Walsh, just back a referendum.  Then everyone will know that you mean it when you say that you only want to have the Olympics in Boston if the people are behind it.

Increasing efficiency and decreasing waste in state government

Pretty good idea, and particularly salient in light of today's Globe's story on how there isn't enough parking at MBTA stations. - promoted by david

An innovative and fresh idea emerged from our family’s discussion of the recent legislative photo op at the expense of the MBTA: take bold steps to increase efficiency and decrease waste in state government.

Instead of one highly-publicized “Gov On The T Day” (why am I reminded of “take your daughter to work day”?), I propose that we restructure government incentives so that EVERY member of Massachusetts government (Governor, Governor’s staff, legislator, legislative staff, etc.) is rewarded for taking public transportation, and simultaneously end all stipends, parking privileges, and so on for those employees. Any member of government who chooses to use a soft-tired conveyance (other than a public bus) must pay the entire cost of that use from personal funds.

Here’s how my plan would work:

1. The state will save money by ending daily automobile stipends, parking privileges, and so on. Parking space in downtown Boston is a scarce and expensive resource. The state can earn more by renting those downtown parking spaces to the public.

2. Each member will be awarded a CharlieCard that is prepaid each month, valid for travel on any MBTA conveyance in the state. If regional systems require a separate physical item, those will be provided as well.

3. Members will be provided pre-paid parking at the nearest Commuter Rail/MBTA lot near them (where they can compete with other commuters for space).

4. Daily stipends will be paid for the distance between the member’s home and the nearest MBTA/Commuter Rail access point.

5. No special accommodations will be made for members on board any conveyance. Each member will wait the same time as the general public. Each member will stand in the same over-crowded and unventilated car as other commuters. This has the benefit further increasing transparency in government, as the public has greater opportunity during daily commutes to share their opinions and views with members of government, and vice-versa.

Globe initiates full-court press to get Elizabeth Warren to run for president

An interesting development: today’s Globe puts an editorial and an op-ed on the first page of the opinion section (unusual), and then adds two more op-eds on the same topic (highly unusual).  The argument all of them make: Elizabeth Warren should run for president.

run warren

Of course, we BMGers have talked about this subject long before the Globe thought of it.  :D  Charley wrote up a comprehensive list of why he thinks Warren will not run for president; I added a few of my own thoughts along similar lines; many others have chimed in, mostly (but not entirely) along the lines that Warren won’t, and/or shouldn’t, run.

What is notably absent from any of the four opinion pieces in today’s Globe is a realistic assessment of the downsides for Warren of tossing her hat in the ring.  All of the pieces assume that Warren would be more influential as a presidential candidate than she is as a Senator.  But why should that necessarily be so?  Yes, she will get a lot more national press coverage, especially because if she jumped in, she’d probably see a quick bump in the primary polls that would make her appear competitive with Hillary.  But much of the coverage would be on horserace nonsense, about the latest perceived gaffe, and about the latest tidbit that some RWNJ managed to dig up about Warren’s past, as it always is.  A bunch more of it would be on international affairs – ISIS, Israel, Russia, all stuff that is squarely in Hillary’s wheelhouse and that is not likely to help Warren much.  Relatively little of it would be about what Warren really wants to spend her time talking about, namely, income inequality and related economic issues.  Query whether, as a presidential candidate, she could generate more favorable press coverage on those issues than she can if she participates in the campaign actively, but from the Senate.

And think about it: when was the last time that a primary candidate was able to direct the nation’s focus to particular issues to which he or she wanted to call attention, and actually achieve something substantive?  I can’t think of one.  Maybe Warren would be different.  But maybe not – and if not, she likely returns to the Senate less influential for having failed than she is now.  Unless she wins … but honestly, there is precious little evidence that that’s a realistic outcome.

So I remain skeptical that Warren will run, and also that she should.  Have your views evolved?