RIP Barbara Anderson

One of the most influential non-politicians in Massachusetts political life passed away yesterday.  I can’t say that I agreed with her often.  But nobody can doubt her commitment to her cause, or her effectiveness.  Condolences to her colleagues, friends, and family.

UPDATED: Clinton and Sanders Caucus Results Open Thread

Happening today! - promoted by david

Following a long standing tradition here on BMG here is an open thread for people to use to post caucus results. There will be eighteen caucuses around the state today. In each Congressional District there will be a caucus to elect Clinton delegates and a caucus to elect Sanders delegates.

Voting in a presidential primary caucus is an interesting experience for anyone who takes part.  It is a great opportunity to network and meet political junkies from throughout your Congressional District.  If you are helping on a campaign, it is a fine place for signature collection since everyone is registered as Democrats.


Just a reminder that your vote at the caucus doesn’t change the number of delegates for either candidate, but simply determines which supporters go to Philadelphia.

Krugman dispatches Sanders

Another week, another icon of the left disses the Democratic Socialist.

What I think has happened here is that Sanders decided that he might actually win the nomination and went negative — “unqualified!” (an absurd, even insulting, and arguably sexist, claim on its face, but more to the point, if true, why wait until now to make it) — to try to close the deal. A bad choice, I’d say. First, he probably won’t win the nomination no matter what he does because Clinton has the lead and will probably do well in the states with the most delegates. Second, he has such significant weaknesses himself — some of which Barney Frank and Paul Krugman have explained — that any effort to bring the campaign down will wind up hurting him more than his rival. A better strategy would have been to try to keep riding the kindly Vermont grandfather wave and hope to beat expectations in New York, California and the other big prizes. NYT:

But in any case, the way Mr. Sanders is now campaigning raises serious character and values issues.

It’s one thing for the Sanders campaign to point to Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street connections, which are real, although the question should be whether they have distorted her positions, a case the campaign has never even tried to make. But recent attacks on Mrs. Clinton as a tool of the fossil fuel industry are just plain dishonest, and speak of a campaign that has lost its ethical moorings.

And then there was Wednesday’s rant about how Mrs. Clinton is not “qualified” to be president.

What probably set that off was a recent interview of Mr. Sanders by The Daily News, in which he repeatedly seemed unable to respond when pressed to go beyond his usual slogans. Mrs. Clinton, asked about that interview, was careful in her choice of words, suggesting that “he hadn’t done his homework.”

But Mr. Sanders wasn’t careful at all, declaring that what he considers Mrs. Clinton’s past sins, including her support for trade agreements and her vote to authorize the Iraq war — for which she has apologized — make her totally unfit for office.

This is really bad, on two levels. Holding people accountable for their past is O.K., but imposing a standard of purity, in which any compromise or misstep makes you the moral equivalent of the bad guys, isn’t. Abraham Lincoln didn’t meet that standard; neither did F.D.R. Nor, for that matter, has Bernie Sanders (think guns).

I disagree with Krugman, however, that this is bad for the Democrats. A fierce primary makes the eventual nominee stronger. But it is probably bad for Sanders.

Surprise! Candidates say dumb things.

It’s just a fact of political life: any candidate for president, however disciplined, will at some point say something really stupid at what seems like an impossibly bad time.  It’s the nature of the beast: the spotlight that shines on anyone making a serious run for that office is incredibly bright, and candidates are human.  They get tired and frustrated.  They make mistakes.

In the last few days, that’s exactly what has happened.  Hillary Clinton said dumb stuff to an activist on a rope line, and it became a big embarrassing story.  Eric Fehrnstrom, in some masterful concern-trolling, likened it to Bob Dole’s “stop lying about my record” moment, and he’s not far off.  But then she baited Bernie Sanders into a line of personal attack, and he fell for it, repeatedly calling her not “qualified” to be president.  That, too, has blown up into a big embarrassing story.

They’ve both said other dumb stuff recently.  Sanders’ interview with the NY Daily News editorial board was pretty much a disaster, making him look impatient and unprepared (plus, he may actually have believed that you still use a token to get into the New York City subway).  And Sanders’ campaign manager’s recent comments about Clinton were even stupider than what Sanders himself said.  Clinton, meanwhile, inexplicably continues not to release her Goldman Sachs speeches, hailed Nancy Reagan as a leader in the fight against AIDS, and who can forget her wondering where Sanders was in the fight for health care in the 1990s, when he was in fact literally standing right behind her?

I think we do our candidates a disservice by trying to explain away these mistakes.  I think we should acknowledge that our candidates are human, and that they are going to say stupid things from time to time.  I also think we should hold the candidates we support accountable for their errors, as well as for their policy positions with which we disagree (yes, Bernie’s record on guns is lousy; yes, Hillary is too hawkish).  More honesty from everyone in the political process can only help.

Senate Charter School Debate Today

Today the State Senate debates the charter school bill its Ways and Means Committee released last week.

The Senate declined to take up a House bill increasing the current cap on charter schools during the last legislative session, and so is under some pressure to advance a proposal of its own. The Senate Ways and Means bill increases the cap, but it also imposes more requirements on how charter schools operate, addressing the concerns of charter school critics that these schools are currently able to cherry-pick those students who are already most likely to succeed.

(Mass Budget has prepared a useful guide to charter school funding, which will help you pick your way through this polysyllabic thicket by defining terms like foundation budget rate, above foundation rate, facilities aid rate, and charter reimbursement formula.)

The Senate proposal got an immediate thumbs down from Governor Charlie Baker and other charter school advocates. And the Globe editorial board, while giving the Senate a “thanks for playing” pat on the back, says that the conditions the Senate wants to impose on charter schools are too onerous.

So it is looking increasingly likely that a proposal to increase the cap that does not include the Senate’s additional conditions will be on the ballot in November. This proposal has the backing of not only the Governor but also of a coalition of business interests who say that our low-income urban communities are in crisis. The coalition feels so strongly about our low-income urban communities that it is planning to spend $18 million (an amount that the Globe’s Jim Sullivan says will “obliterate state campaign spending records”) to ensure the ballot question’s success.

Hive mind, have at it.

Wisconsin primaries open thread

Enriched with Twitter. Enjoy!

MA needs paid parental leave

San Francisco has it, California has it, Europe has had it for years (16 weeks at 70 percent of full pay in France, for example), but Massachusetts is grotesquely deficient in this important indicator for economic competitiveness and the ability to attract employers and employees. NYT:

San Francisco on Tuesday became the first city in the United States to approve six weeks of fully paid leave for new parents — mothers and fathers, including same-sex couples, who either bear or adopt a child.

California is already one of only a few states that offer paid parental leave, with workers receiving 55 percent of their pay for six weeks, paid for by employee-financed public disability insurance. The new law in San Francisco, passed unanimously by the city’s Board of Supervisors, mandates full pay, with the 45 percent difference being paid by employers.

Wikipedia lays out policies around the world, in an extremely informative article.

The sooner, the better for the common wealth.

11 Reasons We Must Say No to New Fracked Gas Infrastructure

Note the action link at the bottom of the post. - promoted by Bob_Neer

With the Massachusetts legislature preparing to take up comprehensive energy legislation, Wall Street-controlled energy companies are pushing hard to include a pipeline tax, allowing them to charge all ratepayers a fee to build new & expanded fracked gas pipelines. Here are 11 reasons why that’s a bad idea:

  1. Solar and wind energy are cost-competitive with coal and fracked gas – not some day in the future, but right now. Why would we invest billions of dollars in new fracked gas infrastructure like pipelines and storage when it’s already being surpassed? It would be like spending billions on building new phone landlines after the iPhone had already come out.
  2. A study commissioned by Attorney General Maura Healey confirms new gas pipelines aren’t needed, concluding a combination of energy efficiency and clean energy over existing power lines could deliver a net savings and massive cuts to carbon pollution.
  3. Even those hippie liberal treehuggers at ISO New England see flat load growth through 2024, assuming legislators don’t continue strangling solar growth. The regions with greatest need for new generation? Eastern MA and RI, areas with massive offshore wind energy potential. RI has already started tapping its reserves with the Block Island wind farm, but MA has stayed on the sidelines. Considering MA has 6 gigawatts of offshore wind potential, the energy bill should direct MA utilities to develop at least 2 gigawatts of offshore wind.
  4. Wholesale electricity prices just fell to their 2nd-lowest level in the last 12 years. Electricity prices are of course prone to year-to-year variation, but the drop doesn’t back up the case that electricity prices are a crisis that requires billions of dollars in new infrastructure.
  5. Massachusetts electric utilities have been ordered to give up to $106 million back to ratepayers for claiming too much of a profit on transmission line construction. Now we’re supposed to believe new pipelines are strictly about need, and not about getting another chance to overcharge us for building new, unnecessary infrastructure?
  6. Kinder Morgan is suing Massachusetts demanding it be allowed to cut down trees on state conservation land to build its Connecticut expansion project. Why would we do any favors for these vulture capitalists?
  7. Major ruptures, spills and explosions on fossil fuel pipelines are tragically common and smaller-scale leaks are wipespread and costly.
  8. No one’s saying we should stop using fracked gas tomorrow. But today New England is getting half of its electricity from gas and 80% of it from just two sources, gas & nuclear. Does gas really need more help from state mandates? Is it too much to ask it to stand on its own two feet?
  9. New gas pipelines incentivize fracking, which pollutes drinking water and causes earthquakes. Just because that damage takes place in far-off places doesn’t mean we can sweep our responsibility for it under the rug.
  10. To slow – not stop, not reverse, but just to slow the rapidly accelerating increase of global warming – we must say no to new fossil fuel infrastructure. That means stopping coal export terminals in the West, stopping new tar sands oil pipelines like Keystone XL in the Plains, and rejecting new fracked gas infrastructure right here in Massachusetts.
  11. The more scientists learn about fracking for gas and its impact on global warming, the more it looks just as climate-cooking as coal:

Because here’s the unhappy fact about methane: Though it produces only half as much carbon as coal when you burn it, if you don’t — if it escapes into the air before it can be captured in a pipeline, or anywhere else along its route to a power plant or your stove — then it traps heat in the atmosphere much more efficiently than CO2. Howarth and Ingraffea began producing a series of papers claiming that if even a small percentage of the methane leaked — maybe as little as 3 percent — then fracked gas would do more climate damage than coal. And their preliminary data showed that leak rates could be at least that high: that somewhere between 3.6 and 7.9 percent of methane gas from shale-drilling operations actually escapes into the atmosphere. [...]

If you combine Howarth’s estimates of leakage rates and the new standard values for the heat-trapping potential of methane, then the picture of America’s total greenhouse-gas emissions over the last 15 years looks very different: Instead of peaking in 2007 and then trending downward, as the EPA has maintained, our combined emissions of methane and carbon dioxide have gone steadily and sharply up during the Obama years, Howarth says. We closed coal plants and opened methane leaks, and the result is that things have gotten worse.

I’m sure there are many more and you’re welcome to add what I missed in the comments.

Look, I understand why including nothing for natural gas in this energy bill is hard to swallow for legislators. It’s counter to the usual horse-trading process where lobbyists for one side asks for a loaf, the other side asks legislators to give nothing, they settle at half a loaf, and everyone goes to 21st Amendment for drinks after.

Giving polluters some of what they want also appeals to legislators who prefer to avoid lines in the sand. Can’t we approve just this one more dirty energy project?

But when it comes to confronting global warming, we’re literally decades past the bargaining point. James Hansen warned Congress that our climate was already changing in 1988 – 28 years ago. Temperatures are rising even faster than predicted and as today’s Providence Journal editorializes, sea level rise forecasts are getting scarier.

“Cutting greenhouse-gas emissions by burning natural gas is like dieting by eating reduced-fat cookies,” says the University of California-Irvine’s Steven Davis. “If you really want to lose weight, you probably need to avoid cookies altogether.”

Please take a moment right now to ask Gov. Charlie Baker to support clean energy solutions.

The "Southern Manifesto" at 60

An excellent Op-Ed a few weeks ago in the LA Times by University of Chicago law professor Justin Driver puts current Supreme Court jurisprudence in historical context:

On March 12, 1956, the majority of Southern senators and congressmen joined forces in Washington, D.C., to publicize the “Declaration of Constitutional Principles.” Now known by its more evocative label, the “Southern Manifesto,” this statement denounced the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, which two years earlier had invalidated racial segregation in public schools.

The nation will not celebrate Saturday’s 60th anniversary of the Southern Manifesto as it does civil rights victories — and for good reason. But we should not permit this crucial date to pass unacknowledged, because doing so invites the comforting delusion that the mind-set supporting the manifesto has been banished from polite society. Although the Southern Manifesto may seem utterly disconnected from current racial realities, arguments marshaled by its drafters presaged recent developments in the Supreme Court’s constitutional doctrine. …

In the 1960s, when it became clear that the Supreme Court would not reverse Brown, Southern Manifesto signatories shifted strategies from condemning the opinion to embracing their neutered version of it. They contended that Brown, properly understood, actually mandated “colorblind” policies. Under this theory, Brown forbade districts from even voluntarily striving for meaningful integration if they considered the race of individual students in pursuing that goal.

Today, this anemic reading of Brown is the law of the land. In 2007, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision invalidated school integration programs in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle. Although both programs enjoyed broad local support, the court reasoned that taking students’ race into account to promote school integration nevertheless violated the Equal Protection Clause.

In striking down those programs, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. reached for Brown’s mantle, writing: “Before Brown, school children were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin.” For Roberts, the same principle that once required the invalidation of intentionally segregated schools now required the invalidation of intentionally integrated schools.

Rather than view the Southern Manifesto as the last gasp of a dying regime, it may be more accurate to understand it as the first breath of the prevailing order.

The key clause in the article in my view: “in a 5-4 decision.” And now back to our regularly scheduled programming …

Joke Revue: Onion explains "Contested Convention"

A selection from The Onion’s How A Contested Convention Would Work explainer:

Q. What is an unbound delegate?
A. A national party representative who is allowed to undermine the democratic process if they feel like it.

Q: What happens in the second round, when many delegates are freed up from being bound to their original candidate?
A: The greatest power rush an Idaho county treasurer has ever felt in his life.

Q: What are the risks of a contested convention?
A: There’s a chance it could introduce an element of controversy into an otherwise congenial GOP nomination process.

Q: When will concerns about the candidates’ beliefs disappear completely and blind, frothing rage take over?
A: Around the fifth round of voting.


Trump Proposes Building Wall Inside Uterus

GREEN BAY (The Borowitz Report)—Donald Trump, the Republican Presidential front-runner, touched off a firestorm of controversy on Wednesday by suggesting that, if elected, he would build a wall inside the uterus.

In proposing an addition to the uterus, a major female reproductive sex organ, Trump sought to draw a distinction between such a wall and the wall that the uterus already has, commonly referred to as the uterine wall.

“No, no, no, this would be a much better wall than that wall,” Trump said. “People are going to love this wall.”

As has been his custom on the campaign trail, Trump offered few details about his plan to build a wall inside the uterus, other than to say that he would make women pay for it.

Daniel Kurtzman:

“Anderson Cooper told Donald Trump that he acts like a five-year-old. Trump then laughed really hard and said ‘Well, Cooper rhymes with ‘pooper.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Donald Trump suggested this morning that his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who has been accused of harshly grabbing a reporter at a rally, could have just been keeping her from falling down. Sure. And Bill Cosby was just helping those ladies get a good night’s sleep.” –Seth Meyers

“A new study has found that people often zone out on purpose when the tasks they’re doing are not challenging enough. So maybe Ben Carson was too qualified?” –Seth Meyers

“Donald Trump’s campaign manager is facing charges for grabbing a female reporter’s arm. Trump scolded his campaign manager and said, ‘On my campaign we only abuse women verbally.’” –Conan O’Brien

“John Kasich is in third with 18 percent, but he says he won’t give up. He’s vowed to keep running. He’s going to keep running until one person in America can identify him by face and then he will stop.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Donald Trump became a grandfather again yesterday. However, Trump says he won’t visit his new grandson until he learns to speak English.” Jimmy Fallon

“It’s been reported that a contributor to CNN has been having an affair with Ted Cruz. All I can say is, way to go, Wolf Blitzer!” –Conan O’Brien

“Donald Trump became a grandfather for the eighth time, ladies and gentlemen. When Trump actually met the baby, he was like, ‘Wow, look at the size of those hands!’” –James Corden

“Hillary also targeted Donald Trump’s recent comments on foreign policy, saying if Trump gets his way, it will be like Christmas for Russia. Then Russians were like, ‘So, we all get potato in sock?’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Bernie Sanders was here on Tuesday and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is here tonight. They’re an interesting pair because they’re still competing with each other, but eventually we know they’re going to team up to stop the deranged billionaire who wants to take over the world. Which if you think about it is basically the plot to ‘Batman vs. Superman,’ the movie. They spoiled it without giving an alert.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Last night, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Hillary Clinton could be considered a founding member of ISIS. That’s ridiculous, ISIS doesn’t hire women. That’s like their big thing.” –Seth Meyers

Never Been a Savior: Movements, Parties, and Prophets

In which it is argued that no one person, no matter how charismatically grumpy, can transform the Democratic party. - promoted by hesterprynne

For the last ten years, it feels like we progressives have been waiting for a savior for the Democratic Party. Deval Patrick, who gave us an eight-year respite from Republican governors, offered a sort of salvation with one of the best campaigns in the last 30 years and an undeniable charisma.It was Barack Obama, marking the end of the Bush presidency, who really had true messianic appeal. As the anti-Bush, he was smart, cool, competent, and interesting. Shepard Fairey‘s iconic poster personified him as hope, and his opponents demonized him. Progressives saw someone true to their cause and backed him enthusiastically, only to find out that he was not the messiah, but a man, and a centrist man at that.

Now it’s Bernie Sanders. He’s pure, so pure that his disdain for the Democratic Party was articulated until he joined it a few months ago. He speaks the truth loudly, often angrily, and calls for a better future. He’s not afraid to speak it to power. Bernie is no savior, but he is a prophet. There are occasional prophets in politics, but never any saviors. Politics and government are a messy business involving too many people for true salvation. Nonetheless, many Bernie supporters treat him as the only solution to our national problems. If we can only get him into the Oval Office, a hard rain of progressivism will fall, washing corruption and inequity from the American streets. As essential as he is to transforming the Democratic Party, Sanders is far from sufficient. Also needed is a movement that extends beyond his candidacy, a movement that sinks its roots into deep down the ticket. And as much as some of his supporters deny it, the Democratic Party establishment is also essential.

Senate Race Updates - First Suffolk and Middlesex

A constituent in the First Suffolk and Middlesex district gives us the picture a week out from the election. Also, candidate Lydia Edwards got the Globe's endorsement today (per annewhitfield's post). - promoted by hesterprynne

We’re about a week out from the special primary to replace Anthony Petruccelli in the Senate, and it’s overwhelmingly likely (probably >99%) that the winner of the Democratic primary will be the new Senator.

There are other races taking of the majority of political attention, but this is a pretty interesting race with a good mix of candidates.

I live in the district and I’m still undecided. I’d love to see a discussion here to flesh out the candidates. Here’s what I see as the general lay of the land: