Question Side of November Ballot Set

Of interest. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Secretary Galvin announced the order of the ballot questions yesterday.  There are four that made it:

  1. To see if the Commonwealth will vote to allow a second slot parlor.
  2. To see if the Commonwealth will vote to lift the cap on charter schools.
  3. To see if the Commonwealth will vote to phase out extreme animal confinement.
  4. To see if the Commonwealth will vote to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for recreational use.

My own preferences are no, no, yes, no respectively.

Why Fight For Gas Tax Hikes If They Just Fund Sprawl?

Now that you mention it, I am a big fan of the millionaire tax. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

EmptySteve LeBlanc writes for the Associated Press today about how Massachusetts uses just a tiny fraction of cigarette taxes for anti-smoking programs. By contrast, he says most of a recent gas tax hike goes for its intended purpose:

Drivers paid an extra $257 million to fill up their tanks as a result of the 3-cent-per-gallon increase … virtually all of the gas tax money went to highway construction and maintenance

Polls show voters don’t want to pay more for road construction, but Democrats are constantly told by Very Serious People that they must campaign for gas tax hikes because it’s The Right Thing to Do.

Sure, it’s nice to put a more accurate price on gasoline, which gets so many free rides, from polluting our air to getting massive taxpyaer subsidies.

But if the money is just going to pay for more highways, incentivizing more sprawl and more gasoline consumption, it’s unclear if raising the gas tax is even a clear net good, never mind worth progressives spending precious political capital on what’s a relatively unpopular cause.

I’d rather fight for a millionaire’s tax and a carbon tax, wouldn’t you?


Cross-posted from The Green Miles

The Listener: Understanding Hillary Clinton

I haven't had a chance to read the Klein piece yet - but looking forward to this profile of the person who may become the nation's first Venusian president. - promoted by hesterprynne

For most women, the language of conversation is primarily a language of rapport: a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships.

–Deborah Tannen

For the reality-based crowd–the crowd that believes in working toward reality, not the crowd that believes they already know it–Ezra Klein has a long, important piece on Hillary Clinton. He doesn’t fawn. He doesn’t tell the truth–only an idiot thinks that he knows the truth about a person. This piece is important because it is one of the first that attempts to understand our next president.

Too often, we fall victim to the notion that people are simple, lacking contradiction and complexity. We forget that what we know is mediated, filtered, in Chris Cilizza’s words, “distilled” by the media. Klein knows a fair number people with a lot of direct experience with Hillary Clinton. He interviewed many more. These people insist that she is much different in person.

Every single person brought up, in some way or another, the exact same quality they feel leads Clinton to excel in governance and struggle in campaigns. On the one hand, that makes my job as a reporter easy. There actually is an answer to the question… Hillary Clinton, they said over and over again, listens.

Klein, with some sourcing, suggests that the campaign trail was not constructed with women in mind. Listening, while not exclusive to women, is more valued by women, says Klein. The modern campaign, however, is focused on the other end of communication: speaking.

Modern presidential campaigns are built to reward people who are really, really good at talking. So imagine what a campaign feels like if you’re not entirely natural in front of big crowds. Imagine that you are constantly compared to your husband, one of the greatest campaign orators of all time; that you’ve been burned again and again after saying the wrong thing in public; that you’ve been told, for decades, that you come across as calculated and inauthentic on the stump.

Klein refers to Clinton’s 2000 senate and 2016 presidential campaigns as evidence.

Clinton began her 2016 campaign with a listening tour, as well, and it is worth considering the possibility that these tours are not simply bullshit. This is, to be honest, a possibility I had not really considered until speaking with past and present Clinton aides who have been forced to take their boss’s process seriously….

It turned out that Clinton, in her travels, stuffed notes from her conversations and her reading into suitcases, and every few months she dumped the stray paper on the floor of her Senate office and picked through it with her staff. The card tables were for categorization: scraps of paper related to the environment went here, crumpled clippings related to military families there. These notes, Rubiner recalls, really did lead to legislation. Clinton took seriously the things she was told, the things she read, the things she saw. She made her team follow up.

Klein doesn’t shy away from legitimate causes of Clinton’s negative approval ratings. The perennial favorites–her Iraq War vote, Goldman-Sach’s speech, and email scandal–are mentioned. And he suggests that her listening style of governance, coupled with her antiquated ability to compromise, could be a potential problem for her presidency. On the other hand, both qualities suggest that perhaps she actually understands the concerns of Bernie Sanders’ supporters and will pursue them.

For anyone who cares enough to understand Hillary Clinton as a person, not a reflection of the media or individual ideology, Ezra Klein’s Understanding Hillary is necessary reading. I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually turns into part of a presidential biography. It’s took long to gloss over the entire article, but you ignore at your peril and will almost certainly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

What Makes the Globe Editorial Board Happy? The Senate is Curious to Know.

Outrage on the editorial page of the Globe this morning:

Legislators’ failure to approve tougher penalties for nursing home violations is inexcusable.

It seems that the House-Senate conference committee that negotiated the state budget for this fiscal year did not include a Senate provision to increase the fines that state regulators can impose on nursing homes for health and safety violations. An excellent series of Globe reports detailed the scandalously poor care that some nursing homes are providing to patients and disclosed that the maximum fine that can currently be imposed for health and safety violations is a laughable $50.

In response to these reports, the Senate adopted a budget amendment by Senator Mark Montigny of New Bedford to increase the maximum fine to $10,000. But, as the editorial board laments today, the provision was not included in the final budget agreed to by the House and Senate. This was a particularly egregious omission in the editorial board’s view, even though, as it noted, “every year, plenty of worthy proposals don’t make it to the final version of the budget.”

Really? Plenty of worthy budget proposals — every year?  For a decidedly contrary view on this point, you can check out the Boston Globe’s editorial page of only four days ago. “Budget weeds sprout at the State House,” the board fumed on July 7, calling out the Senate in particular for including too many outside sections in its budget. Outside sections, as the board described them, are “basically, separate pieces of legislation that are crammed into the budget as a way of bypassing the usual legislative process.”  Without any consideration of the substance of any of these sections, the editorial board concluded that the number of outside sections in the Senate budget exceeded the number in the House budget, and therefore the Senate failed to show the necessary “self-discipline.” One of the outside sections in the Senate budget was, of course, the increase in maximum fines for health and safety violations at nursing homes, the omission of which from the final budget was deemed “inexcusable” in today’s editorial.

If I were in the Senate I might well feel whipsawed by these contradictory mandates. Maybe the editorial board can help out by providing some additional guidance about another Senate budget outside section that was not included in this year’s final budget. This section would have made dental care available to more low-income people by allowing dental hygienists who complete an additional period of education to provide basic dental services in community settings like schools and nursing homes.

A few months ago, the editorial board enthusiastically endorsed this idea.  But now, who knows? Maybe the editorial board is of the view that the Senate ought to have shown the self-discipline to just say no to what was probably another fishy attempt at evading legislative review.

But in this case, that’s not what it was. The dental hygienist bill was filed months ago by Senator Harriette Chandler. The Joint Committee on Public Health (where House members outnumber Senate members by 11 to 6) held a hearing on it in September, reported it favorably in December, and sent it to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing (where House members outnumber Senate members by 13 to 7). The bill remained there until the Committee quietly euthanized it last month. Although as part of its criticism of the Senate the editorial board contends that “the House has moved to accommodate the Senate on releasing more bills from joint committees in a timely way,” apparently that’s a rule with some exceptions.

Just a couple weeks ago, the editorial board included the dental hygienist proposal on its short list of bills that the Legislature must pass before the end of its session. So, we’re eager to hear what the board thinks of the Legislature for omitting it from this year’s budget.  An inexcusable failure to act, or a self-disciplined rejection of a shady effort to short-circuit the legislative process?

Either way, it seems likely that outrage is involved.


Well, in our defense, we did post on this, on Friday. But let's iterate. I'd say that criminal justice reform is just the tip of the iceberg. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

I’m struck by the gap between what we discussed here at BMG all weekend and what black communities across America talked about. This iconic image says much, and in my view demands our attention.

More black men were killed by police last week. The weekend was filled with protests, as well as the predictable nonsense from the usual suspects — dutifully reported without comment or clarification by CNN.

The issue of police violence against blacks is not going to go away. In my view, we need more than prayer and hang-wringing.

We need action.

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

So far as I can see, Team Sanders is following its leader, who acknowledges his achievements and is moving toward an endorsement of Secretary Clinton. Personally, I think the Sanders candidacy has significantly boosted Clinton's chances for election because it has focused energy and attention on the Democratic race, which she won. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Our BMG contingent of Bernie Sanders seems intent on loudly and angrily losing, rather than celebrating its HISTORIC victory in negotiations for the Democratic Party platform. After MONTHS of relentlessly repeated criticism of our nominee (who won by LARGE MARGINS of primary votes) about health care and minimum wage, now we hear crickets from her detractors when Ms. Clinton embraces the position of Mr. Sanders on those two issues.

Hillary Clinton has embraced the “most progressive policy agenda in modern history” (emphasis mine):

The Democratic Party is on track to ratify what is arguably its most progressive policy agenda in modern history, after the committee tasked with writing the platform document finished its final round of amendments and votes overnight.

The platform is expected to be formally adopted at the party’s national convention in Philadelphia at the end of the month.

While the document is nonbinding, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has been laser-focused on it since the primary season wrapped up and has kept some of his top staffers on board to fight for the inclusion of his ideas. The Sanders campaign views the platform as tangible evidence that his campaign’s efforts moved the party to the left and they hope the document will excite their fans and serve as leverage for lobbying policy details in next Congress and administration.

The document -– a formal declaration of the party’s positions -– includes language on breaking up “too-big-to fail” banks; reinstating a new version of the Glass-Steagall Act, which required that commercial banking and securities activities be separated; abolishing the death penalty; and fighting for a Constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizen’s United case, which barred the government from restricting political spending by nonprofit corporations.

Rather than celebrate this major accomplishment, our Bernie Sanders contingent chooses to focus on the one aspect where the compromise offered by Ms. Clinton isn’t enough for them

CNN reports that Mr. Sanders won on minimum wage, health care, and climate change:

Bernie Sanders’ campaign is declaring victory after striking deals with Hillary Clinton’s allies over climate change, health care and a $15-an-hour minimum wage as Democrats finalized the party’s 2016 platform.

It appears to me that “glorious” defeat is more appealing to at least some of our Bernie Sanders contingent than the historic progress Mr. Sanders himself sought and celebrates.

Since the animus against Ms. Clinton is apparently NOT based on issues, we are left to speculate about its true origin.

Hillary Clinton supporters reject adding explicit opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal to the Democratic Party's 2016 platform.

Of interest. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on why we need to stop the TPP


Can anyone tell me why Clinton supporters rejected adding explicit opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal to the Democratic Party’s 2016 platform?


This does not give me a warm & fuzzy feeling regarding the next Clinton administration….



Obama gets it right on guns, again

Consider this, from the NYT:

In Texas, gun owners can legally and openly carry what are known as long guns, including shotguns and rifles. The carrying of handguns is regulated in Texas and requires a state-issued permit, whether concealed or openly carried, but the carrying of rifles is largely unregulated and requires no permit. The so-called open carrying of rifles has become common at many demonstrations in Texas in recent years.

And this from Reuters:

Obama noted that Dallas police on Thursday had to protect themselves and citizens from sniper fire while deciphering who had guns among those taking part in a protest decrying police shootings of black men.

The presence of a gun in the car where Philando Castile, 32, was killed by police in Minnesota on Wednesday contributed to that event, he said.

“In Minneapolis, we don’t know yet what happened, but we do know that there was a gun in the car that apparently was licensed, but it caused, in some fashion, those tragic events,” Obama told reporters.

“We can’t just ignore that and pretend that that’s somehow political … it is a contributing factor – not the sole factor – but a contributing factor to the broader tensions that arise between police and the communities where they serve.”

No guns, no deaths from guns.

Blessed are the peacemakers

After the apparent murders by police in Baton Rouge and Minnesota, I remembered this quote from James Baldwin, from 1971′s “A Rap on Race” with Margaret Mead:

Because the police do not make any distinction between a Black Panther or a black lawyer or my brother or me. The cops aren’t going to ask me my name before the pull the trigger. I’m part of this society and I’m in exactly the same situation as anybody else — any other black person — in it. If I don’t know that, then I’m fairly self-deluded.

How little things seem to change.

The arbitrariness of the shootings has the effect of making all black people feel targeted. Police power is the point at which racial power — often subtler in other contexts  – is mediated with grotesque clarity. Everything that’s wrong with us, comes out the barrel of a gun.

And yet, and yet … The Dallas Police Department was trying to do it right. They were tweeting pictures of a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally, of themselves smiling with protestors. According to Shaun King, they’re one of the better PDs in the country. And like so many … What’s the reward for keeping peace? The  wages of goodness are not assured.

Remember the dead. Look for the heroes. Apparently Dallas PD had quite a few. We should ask our local PDs to be so.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Clinton Email Findings "no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case"

Topic A, for this 24 to 48 hour news cycle anyway. Taking bets on how long that lasts. - promoted by hesterprynne

I figured we needed a post on the topic with a few takeaways. My initial reaction was the the Republican House will not let this go until after the elections and will have committee meetings Benghazi style, whatever to keep the story going through the rest of the year. They have demonstrated that they do not care if they look like clowns and get destroyed by Clinton like they did with Benghazi, just a meeting is enough for Fox News to run with a story. It’s stupid and useless, but it’s going to happen.

So with James Comey’s press release he noted a few things. The most significant was that they did not recommend charges for Clinton, more specifically, they noted:

our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case

That’s significant, in cases like this, there is wide latitude to charge someone:

Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.

In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.

In addition, no evidence of hacking, no evidence or emails deliberate being deleted.

They did find that Clinton was careless in the handling of sensitive materials.

Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

As the FBI investigation was ongoing the State Department Investigation which highlighted the mess over the past five Secretary of States with the handling of email servers. At the time I was more interested if there was a breach or if laws were broken instead we get bureaucratic BS and CYA time. Seems like we got our answer.

Let the hearings begin!

US Atty Carmen Ortiz FINALLY called out by Huffington Post on Self-Serving, Off-Base Indictments

Is the modus operandi of our U.S. Attorney starting to wear thin? - promoted by hesterprynne

Today Facebook is abuzz about a scathing Huffington Post article that focuses on US Atty Carmen Ortiz and her penchant for going after good guys to generate headlines for herself while destroying the reputations of others.

WBZ Jon Keller is the only media guy who has spoken on this that I am aware of…sad to say, the Boston Globe and even the Herald have been silent and some would say complicit by advancing the US Atty’s agenda in their “news” coverage because they benefit from (illegal) leaks from her staff to create stories that sell papers.  (US Atty’s and Asst. Attys take an oath to uphold the law…to discuss an ongoing investigation with anyone outside… i.e. press… is illegal activity. When a reporter notes in an accusatory story that the source “close to the investigation” “asked for anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case” that is code for : US Atty office breaking the law by leaking info to get the case pre-tried in the press.)

US Atty. Ortiz’ current victims/targets are Tim Sullivan and Ken Brissette at Boston City Hall. But, as this article points out, they are not the first and will not be the last to be unfairly indicted unless someone finally puts the brakes on this kind of activity.

I hope all BMGers will read the article linked here.

I would cut and paste it here but I am not sure about the BMG rules about that…THANKS


July BMG Stammtisch tonight

promoted by betsey

The Saloon

Talk about the fireworks (real and political). Come, enjoy some libations, and talk politics. This is the last Stammtisch before the conventions.

Our now-regular monthly BMG Stammtisch will happen tomorrow evening — 6-July — at The Saloon in Davis Square at 7p.

Hope to see you there!