Ach, Twitter. Also: It's working.

Oh Lordy. Another social media exchange gone ugly this afternoon. You all are my witnesses — I am committing to the following rules/observations/notes to myself:

  1. You can’t convince anybody. Not on FB, nor Twitter, nor the Thanksgiving table. People can only convince themselves.
  2. Enough. New rule: Two tweets maximum to people I don’t know personally — like, in meatspace . That may even be too many. The potential for misunderstanding is just too high. Shut up already.
  3. It’s too soon. Many, if not most lefties who passionately supported Bernie do not want to hear your establishment bull#%^* rationalizations for Hillary or the Dems. Not. Having. It. Check back … well, I don’t know when.
  4. You’re the official douchebag – axiomatically. Here at BMG, after 11+ years, we’re used to the idea that people can disagree genially. That’s how we tried to set it up. It usually works here … Usually. This is just not how most of the world works, and I forget that. To most people, most of the time, disagreement is hostile. You’re an a-hole and the enemy, by definition.

Someday I will learn. I trust you will all keep me to these guidelines.

Now, with that prelude … I hope Bernie supporters (of which I nearly was one) will look at the positive ways they’ve influenced this race. Just a few examples:

  • Hillary endorses a $15 minimum wage (mostly).
  • Hillary now opposes TPP – which really is looking like a bad deal for climate, among other things.
  • Hillary takes up the flag of Black Lives Matter — a position that entails some honest political risk. (Not sure this can be chalked up to Bernie’s influence, but certainly he was part of the conversation and flanked her on the left.)
  • Hillary moved left on fracking. Not quite ruling it out, but closer.

Now, the typical response to these, er, evolutions, is “See? You just can’t trust her!” Which is partly fair. But politically not astute, I’d argue.

I’m not into heroes. We’re not gazing into someone’s soul. We’re trying to wield power to get stuff done so that we can all lead better lives.  Either that stuff gets done, or it doesn’t.
And when a politician yields to your power, you have won a victory. Nice! Take a bow!

If you haven’t read it, do read Dan Savage on “taking motherf$@&ing yes for a motherf$&@ing answer” from Hillary on gay marriage:

Hillary Clinton’s support for marriage equality may be a political calculation. And you know what? We worked hard to change the math so that those political calculations would start adding up in our favor. So sincere change of heart or political calculation—either way—I will take it.

It goes on — as always, a good, bracing, NSFW read.

There are politicians who are implacably opposed to what you want. You can’t vote for them. There are politicians who are indeed out front on things you like. You work for them.  And then there are politicians you can do business with, when you have built the movement and Zeirgeist and inevitability, and have proved there’s a political market. Hillary’s the latter, and she’s probably going to be the next President.

She could use a good Congress.

Jay Fitzgerald absolves Baker and DeLeo

Jay Fitzgerald of the excellent MASSterList (“an ensemble of news and commentary about the Legislature, Politics, Media, and Judiciary of Massachusetts from major news organizations as well as specialized publications”) rejects Charley’s withering criticism yesterday of the do-nothing position of the powers that be Baker and DeLeo on the Commonwealth’s deteriorating infrastructure. Charley’s conclusion: “[Y]our commute is going to suck, forever.”

The leaders are just representing the people, Fitzgerald says:

Plenty of blame to go around for the state’s infrastructure woes

Blue Mass Group isn’t happy about the new A Better City report, which warns how Greater Boston’s rickety infrastructure can’t handle the region’s expected population growth and needs in coming years, and tears into Gov. Charlie Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo for not doing enough to prepare the state for the future. “To be blunt: There is absolutely no ambition, no intention, no vision, no proposal, no agenda, from either our Governor or Speaker, for providing the necessities of our region going forward. None. They’re just not going to do it.”

But to be equally blunt: Most lawmakers on Beacon Hill, overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats, don’t want to give the MBTA a dime more until its dysfunctional management and operational practices are overhauled (see items below, btw). Meanwhile, former Gov. Deval Patrick not so long ago proposed a large gasoline tax increase to pay for infrastructure improvements. Guess what? The Democratic-controlled legislature balked and passed a more modest plan. Then voters, in a statewide referendum, rejected tying future gas-tax increases to the inflation rate. Blame Baker and DeLeo? Please.

Both are right, but Charley’s criticism is more constructive. Without infrastructure improvements, the Commonwealth, and especially the greater Boston area, will strangle. Imagine Boston without the T, or with just one harbor tunnel: far less prosperous; far less liveable. “Route 128″ means “Massachusetts high technology industry” in common parlance. If our subway was as good as Hong Kong’s you’d be home in half the time. If our rail system was as good as China’s, it would take just over an hour to get to New York by train. If our Internet was as fast as Korea’s, people in Western Massachusetts would read this article twice as quickly for a fraction of the price. One reason there are fewer good jobs in America than there were is because much of the world has caught up to our infrastructure, and many countries have passed us. Result: jobs go there.

On the other hand, pouring good money after bad is just a waste. It’s obvious the T needs structural reform — quasi-public listed corporation or some other similarly fundamental reorganization — if it is to reverse its current decline and once again become the world-class system it was a century ago. Voters did indeed reject an increased gasoline tax: there are alternatives.

If we stay still, however, we lose because we are part of a dynamic, constantly changing national and world economy, many parts of which are surging past us. Walls won’t save us. Also, nature degrades all existing systems: we have to keep investing just to stay in place. The job of leaders is, in part, to educate people about these hard realities. To the degree they don’t, we’ll all fail — our commutes will, indeed, suck forever — and Baker and DeLeo will go down in history as the ones who watched.

End of the primaries open thread

Reactions to today’s events? Have at it!


Reminder: State Senator Jamie Eldridge's Re-election Campaign Kickoff is TONIGHT!

Go Jamie! - promoted by Bob_Neer

Let’s give the Commonwealth’s most progressive State Senator some BMG love!

Click here for details/RSVP/donations

Raw Example of a Special Interest versus the Public Good

It is certainly true that the medical professions thrive on constrained supply. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Right now in Massachusetts, the Mass Dental Society is spending large amount of money to prevent citizens from receiving local, affordable dental care. Specifically, the Dental Society is lobbying the Massachusetts Legislature not to allow mid-level professionals called Dental Hygiene Practitioners DHP) to perform needed dental services.  These DHP would be a strong answer to help prevent the two million visits to emergency rooms for dental problems as well as the sharp increase in personal bankruptcies due to mounting dental bills.

The basic issue of allowing mid-level practitioners to perform in the medical field was decided long ago when Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants proved their value in treating the 75% of patients who do not need to see a doctor and have their health problems resolved by these mid-levels. The value of these mid-level medical professionals is established beyond question by both physicians and the public.

But even with that experience in the health field, dental societies refuse to allow mid-level dental practitioners to perform comparable services.  The reason given by the Massachusetts Dental Society in a recent Boston Globe full-page ad is lack of “minimal training”. This flies in the face of facts. The training required for a DHP is a two-year program comparable to a Master’s degree and up to 2000 hours of hands-on training supervised by a dentist. The dental services provided by a DHP are limited to the precise training they received and are performed under a dentist’s supervision. As further proof of their value, programs similar to the DHP program have been in place in over 50 countries with outstanding acceptance and effectiveness. Why the resistance to a program that would provide affordable dental services in rural areas of this country without enough  or even some dentists to serve the population?

The answer is how the power of a few can override the need of the many. At issue here is the moneyed interests of a special interest group, the Mass Dental Society, pitted against the dental health needs of thousands of children and elderly Americans.  What is unusual here is how clear-cut the issue is – who will be served, the public in need of dental services or dentists protecting their wallets? We wait for the Massachusetts Legislature to decide.

Significant policy initiatives in the FY17 Senate budget: another sign of the new State Senate

Thanks for posting, Senator. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Two weeks ago, the Massachusetts State Senate debated the FY17 state budget. After the Senate Ways and Means Committee reported out favorably the proposed budget, Senators filed a total of 1,167 amendments, totaling around $4 billion in proposed increases to every part of the state budget. After three days of debate, a total of $63.1 million was added to the original $39.497 billion budget, highlighting the decades-long reality that significant investments in education, housing, environment, public health, and human services will not happen until the Commonwealth of Massachusetts brings in much more revenue.

I’m very proud that during the Senate budget debate, numerous legislation was passed that reflects not only how progressive the Senate is, but how Senate President Stan Rosenberg and Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka’s decentralized approach has led to a more robust discussion of, and passage, of meaningful legislation. It also highlights the growing frustration the State Senate has with delays in the House of Representatives taking up bills, as the Legislature heads into its last two months of the formal session, before its election-year recess.

We need infrastructure. And we're not gonna get it.

I’m often asked, not in so many words, “Why so hostile towards Charlie Baker [or Bob DeLeo]? I’m a liberal, and he’s not so bad.” And Dems this past weekend at the convention surely were not eager to take him on.

Well, that’s true, he’s not so bad, by certain standards. He’s taken an executive interest in nuts and bolts that his predecessor failed to take. One should appreciate that.

But he is not trying to move the sloth and inertia of our political culture, as Gov. Patrick — for all his flaws — surely did. Again and again, we see the need for big vision and major investment … and Baker and DeLeo pretty much spit the bit every time.

The Dukakis Center at Northeastern U has released even yet still another report on the inadequacy of our infrastructure to our current and future needs:

Between 2010 and 2030 the population of Greater Boston is expected to grow by 10.5 percent. In that same period, a sizable jump in workers between the ages of 25 and 44 is expected — along with a much bigger jump in people over the age of 64.

An economic report released Tuesday by researchers at Northeastern University concludes this area will require some major infrastructure improvements to support that population.

via Report Says Major Infrastructure Fixes Needed To Support Greater Boston Population Growth | WBUR.

Investments and accompanying contracting oversight are needed for the MBTA, highways, energy, and — critically — climate change adaptation and mitigation, for rising sea levels and storm surges. We dodged a bullet with Superstorm Sandy a few years ago — New York City wasn’t so lucky.

Of course, this will require money — as well as a reinvention of our utterly broken contracting system, a problem not unique to MA.

From the Executive Summary:

Between 2010 and 2030, we project that the population in the five counties of Greater Boston will have grown by nearly 430,000, or 10.5 percent. Where will they live? How will they get to and from work, school, and other essential destinations? Will their communities be outfitted with appropriate levels and types of transportation, energy, water and sewage capacity, recycling and waste facilities, and open and conservation land to suit their environmental and economic needs, ensuring a growing and prosperous economy? Through careful longitudinal tracking of multiple systems and demographic shifts across many jurisdictions, we hope to provide resources essential to the sort of state-of-the-art performance-based planning that will be imperative in the years ahead. Based on our projections, the conclusion is pretty straightforward. As a region we must find ways to expand our infrastructure, enhance the efficiency with which we use it, and find ways to conserve energy, water, and open space in order to accommodate the population growth and expanded economic output we project through 2030. The complexity lies in determining which course to take and ultimately how to pay for it.

Well sure! Let’s all put our heads together and figure that one out …

To be blunt: There is absolutely no ambition, no intention, no vision, no proposal, no agenda, from either our Governor or Speaker, for providing the necessities of our region going forward. None. They’re just not going to do it.

This is not an abstraction. This means that your commute is going to suck, forever. See what’s happening with Washington DC’s subways for a glimpse of the future.

Oh, and our city will be flooded.

With set of political assumptions that hold sway on Beacon Hill, we’re just paddling with one oar. We will continue to be crippled by a political culture of neglect. We’ve been warned ad nauseum about the effects of inaction; we’re living with the consequences every single day.

This is why I think there’s a political opening vs. Baker, and more broadly against a political culture of austerity, denial, and short-term thinking.

Joke Revue: "Trump: Mexicans swarming across border, enrolling in law school, and becoming biased judges"


Trump: Mexicans swarming across border, enrolling in law school, and becoming biased judges

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA (The Borowitz Report)—Unless the United States builds a wall, Mexicans will swarm across the border, enroll in law school en masse, and eventually become biased judges, Donald J. Trump warned supporters on Monday.

At a rally in San Jose, the presumptive Republican nominee said that “making America great again” meant preventing the nation from becoming “overrun by Mexican judges.”

“We don’t win anymore,” he told the crowd. “We don’t win at judges.”

While Trump offered no specific facts to support his latest allegations, he said that he had heard about the threat of incoming Mexican judges firsthand from border-patrol agents.

“They see hundreds of these Mexicans, and they’re coming across the border with lsat-prep books,” he said. “It’s a disgrace.”

In a line that drew a rousing ovation from supporters, Trump blasted Mexican leaders for their role in the crisis, claiming, “They’re sending us their worst people: lawyers.”


Nation Unable To Recall If Trump Said He’d Personally Fund Abortion Bombings Or If That Just Sounds Right

WASHINGTON—Saying they vaguely remembered the presidential candidate making the statement in front of a large rally but that they might be mistaken, citizens across the country were reportedly unable to recall Tuesday if Donald Trump had promised to personally fund abortion clinic bombings or if that just sounded right. “I thought I had a pretty clear memory of Trump saying something about funneling money to anyone who volunteered to blow up a Planned Parenthood, but maybe that just seems like a claim he might make and I’m getting mixed up—so I guess I’m not really sure if he said it or not,” said Somerset, NJ resident Anna Chung, who, like millions of her fellow citizens, believed she had maybe read a tweet from Trump laying out his willingness to finance a string of anti-abortion firebombing attacks, before conceding that her recollection might have been confused with another of the presumptive GOP nominee’s public comments. …

Spoiler Alert: AP and NBC News put the tally of delegates and super-delegates above the 2383 number, Clinton is the presumptive nominee...

Mike is on it. More importantly, here are the latest polls from California. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Congratulations to Secretary Clinton, now onto November. Apparently, being News organizations, given the primaries on Tuesday, they called so-far uncommitted super-delegates and the current tally has Clinton at 2384, which is also predicted to be achieved with just pledged delegates after California and New Jersey.

If you live in California or New Jersey, don’t read this.

NOTE: Counting Delegates Honestly, Clinton Won

Clinton went +5 (6-1) in the Virgin Islands, and +12 (36-24) in Puerto Rico, over the weekend. She will almost certainly net a majority of pledged delegates on Tuesday. If she does, what's Sanders' argument? That the supers should back him instead, and undo the will of the voters, because he's polling better than her against Trump in some polls? That would be, frankly, crazy. - promoted by david

This is for all of you who can’t get over the primary…

  • the people who support Bernie and don’t know who’s on their side here at BMG
  • the people who support Hillary but don’t know who’s on their side at BMG
  • the people who can’t stand the Bernistas because they don’t know it’s over
  • the people who can’t stand the Clintonistas because they know it’s over
  • and all those in-between…

The primary may not be over until that last whiner whines, but it’s over. There is no legitimate way for Sanders to claim victory, no reason to contest the convention, and no reason to complain As Michael Tomasky writes:

You always read that a candidate needs 2,383 delegates to clinch the nomination. And that is true if you include superdelegates. Hang with me here, this matters. There are 4,051 pledged delegates and 713 supers. Add those two numbers together, then divide that by two, then add one (i.e., 50 percent plus one). That gets you to 2,383.

But if you’re talking pledged delegates only, 50 percent plus one is 2,026. You never see that number, and I guess I understand why—2,383 is the number, officially. But 2,026 is a majority of pledged delegates—you know, the ones you win by persuading voters to pull the lever with your name on it. I’ve been mystified as to why the Clinton people aren’t pushing more awareness of the 2,026 number. If the situation were reversed, we can be sure that Jeff Weaver would be all over cable denouncing the mere existence of 2,383, that strutting harlot of a number.

The Kids Are All Right (I Mean Left)

Thesis: Sanders is by far the biggest change agent in this election cycle. Discuss. - promoted by hesterprynne

“He’s not moving a party to the left. He’s moving a generation to the left. Whether or not he’s winning or losing, it’s really that he’s impacting the way in which a generation—the largest generation in the history of America—thinks about politics.”

–John Della Volpe

Anyone who’s been following my comments and posts on Bernie Sanders knows I’ve been trying very hard not to get angry with the guy. As a Hillary Clinton supporter, this isn’t always easy. Supporting a cause or a candidate tends to lead all of us away from reason. Cognitive dissonance is blessing, but it’s nonetheless difficult to accept as the price of clear thinking.

My dad, who voted for Sanders, sent me the following article. It’s helping me get through these dog days of the Democratic Primary. Speaking at a high school awards ceremony this week, I told the graduates that they were heading into a stormy world, but I had faith in them. The world we are handing them is a basket case. Global warming alone will ensure that.

Like every generation, they will have their shortcomings and failures, but these kids will not fail in their concern for others. As a whole, they are kinder, more tolerant, and more caring. That was not true for my generation for whom conspicuous spending and enlightened selfishness were virtuous, and he who died with the most toys won. These kids like their toys, but greed is not a virtue.

As bad as their situation is, they are looking to government to start solving problems, and Bernie is representing them and their issues. It’s too soon to predict how they will change things, but they are already part of a sea change.

Polls show that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have trouble appealing to young voters. In a recent study released by Harvard, millennial voters, aged 18-29, overwhelmingly favored Bernie Sanders.  Sanders pulled a net favorable rating of 54 percent, Clinton only had 37 percent, and Trump pulled a miserable 17 percent of the same age group.

While the Harvard study shows that Sanders supporters will likely support Clinton if they have no other choice against Trump, the study also indicates that the Sanders campaign has made a lasting impression on young voters that will remain whether or not he wins the nomination. Polling director John Della Volpe explained that: “He’s not moving a party to the left. He’s moving a generation to the left. Whether or not he’s winning or losing, it’s really that he’s impacting the way in which a generation—the largest generation in the history of America—thinks about politics.”

Della Volpe’s work at the John F. Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics shows that over the course of the Sanders campaign young voters increasingly favored the campaign’s core issues. Tracking data over time, Della Volpe noted that there was a demonstrable shift towards progressive politics in the last year. In fact Max Ehrenfreund of The Washington Post suggests that regardless of what happens in the campaign “Sanders might have already won a contest that will prove crucially important in America’s political future.”

As The Atlantic reports, this young generation is liberal, leftist and even socialist in record numbers. Mother Jones reports that it is the largest generation in the country and equal in in voting numbers to the Baby Boomers for the first time ever.

The Sanders campaign has resonated with millennials for the simple reason that he has been the only candidate to take the issues facing our nation’s young seriously. He was the first candidate to put the issue of student debt on the map and he was the only candidate brave enough to state outright that the greatest security threat to the planet is climate change—not ISIS.

But, perhaps most importantly, his campaign recognizes the very real economic challenges facing young voters, who not only have more debt than any other young generation in U.S. history, but also face higher unemployment and more depressed wages than their elders.

(Maybe I’m being naive, but it would be nice if we could stick to the topics of millenials rather than another stupid thread about the primary).

The scourge of paid signature gatherers

An interesting discussion of the role of money in the initiative petition process -- it sent me back to the law books. (Typo in title, referred to in comments, has been corrected.) - promoted by hesterprynne

It is such a frustration to go shopping and encounter a hired gun, being paid to gather signatures to get a referendum question on the ballot.  (And hired gun is much nicer than the phrase in my head).  Bumped into a guy the other day outside the supermarket who was hustling slots at Suffolk Downs, weed legalization, and expanding private/charter K-12 education.  Though he was reluctant to have a real conversation — he didn’t know anything of significance about the issues — he did admit that he’s paid well to come to Massachusetts from out of state to hustle signatures for whomever pays him.

While I think it’s sad that there are people who sell their principles so cheaply, this also is horrible for democracy.  I don’t think the ballot initiative process was designed to let people buy policies they can’t enact.  Nor do I know why legalizing marijuana needs to pay people to sign — I’d imagine that question would be a slam dunk.  Are there any states that prohibit paying signature gatherers?