How the MA House Delegation Voted on Arming Syrian Rebels

The Roll Call on today’s resolution arming Syrian rebels to fight ISIL. Which passed 273-156. 159 Republicans and 114 Democrats, including all the major leaders and committee chairs, voted for the resolution while 71 Republicans and 85 Democrats voted against it.

In our delegation Neal and Lynch voted for the resolution, while Clark, Capuano, Kennedy, McGovern, Tierney, and Tsongas voted against it.

I personally have mixed feelings about how best to fight ISIS, but it seems that arming Syrian opposition groups is what helped create it in the first place. Kudos to our members who took the tough vote and bucked the leadership.

Happy Birthday, Boston

Happy Birthday, Boston. Boston was incorporated as a town on September 17, 1630. So Boston is 384 years old today. The map above shows the outline of the original Boston overlaying the street map of today, showing what used to be ocean and the original Charles River before expansion.

Don Berwick offers a hearty endorsement of Martha Coakley

Email from Don Berwick (no link) that arrived this morning:

It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve as a candidate for governor, and the 114,000 voters who supported me are, without doubt, a future force for change.

To all of you, I have one request now: join me in full support of Martha Coakley and the Democratic ticket on November 4th. Although we do not agree on all of the issues, I have no doubt at all that the Commonwealth’s future will be in excellent hands in a Coakley Administration. I cannot say the same about the prospect of four years under Charlie Baker and the Republican Party….

I believe that the future well-being of the Democratic Party lies in its unapologetic and firm commitment to the progressive values that together we explored over and over again in this campaign: social justice, equality, and compassion in public policy.  Our state and our nation are hungry for leaders who remind us all of our shared interest in these values and in human rights. The Democratic Party stands for those values and Martha Coakley will champion them.

Good for Berwick.  He didn’t have to do this – he’s not someone who strikes me as the sort who will definitely seek elective office again (though maybe he will).

What say you, disappointed Berwick backers who are skeptical of Coakley’s candidacy?  Does Berwick’s full-throated endorsement change your view?

MA Again Leads in Health Coverage, but US incomes stagnant and poverty declining slowly

The economic security of working families depends on reliable access to affordable health care, as well as opportunities to earn good incomes and to share in the benefits of economic growth.

New information released by the Census Bureau today shows that, in 2013, Massachusetts continued to lead the nation in the share of its state population covered by health insurance. With 96.3 percent of people in Massachusetts covered, the Commonwealth far exceeds the national average of 86.6 percent. Massachusetts has led the nation in health care coverage for its population since the implementation of the state’s health reform in 2006. [For more on health insurance coverage rates, see MassBudget's new factsheet on this part of today's Census release, available HERE.]

Today’s Census data also reveal that four years into an economic recovery, low and moderate income U.S. households are seeing limited benefits from the nation’s economic growth – median household income is lower and the poverty rate is still higher than in 2007, just before the start of the Great Recession. Modest reductions in the overall and child poverty rates, however, did occur between 2012 and 2013. Specifically, the data show the following:

  • There was no statistically significant change in real U.S. median household income between 2012 and 2013. U.S median household income in 2013 stood at $51,939, an amount 8.0 percent (or $4,497) below pre-recession, 2007 levels (adjusted for inflation).
  • The U.S. poverty rate fell to 14.5 percent in 2013, which is lower than the 15.0 percent rate in 2012 and is the first statistically significant decline since 2006. The 2013 rate remains significantly higher than the pre-recession (2007) rate of 12.5 percent.
  • The U.S. poverty rate for children dropped to 19.9 percent in 2013, a decline from 21.8 percent in 2012. This is the first statistically significant decline in the child poverty rate since 2000. Across the country, however, 1 in every 5 children still lived below the poverty line in 2013.

Both short and long term factors have added to the challenges faced by low and moderate income households. In the near term, budget cuts due to sequestration as well as other austerity measures at the federal level during 2013 significantly reduced overall economic growth, likely impacting job and income growth. Over the long term, in a decades old trend, the well-being of working families has become increasingly disconnected from growth of the national economy. While workers’ wages rose in lock-step with productivity gains throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, since the late 1970s, wage growth for most U.S. workers has fallen far short of growth in productivity. [See MassBudget's Labor Day release on workers' wages and incomes.]

The data in today’s release provide a useful overview of poverty, income, and health coverage on the national level (using Current Population Survey data), as well as health coverage data at the state level (using American Community Survey data). On Thursday (9/18), the Census Bureau will release additional state-level data from the American Community Survey. When that data is released, MassBudget will provide analysis of changes in income, poverty and child poverty levels in Massachusetts.

The full Census Bureau report is available on their website. Complete analysis of the national trends can be found at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Open Thread - Steve Wynn Gets License. 3 −1 Vote. Judge McHugh Votes for Revere

let the games begin.

I’ll start the open thread.

The goods news is King Arthurs will re-open and I hear they’re getting some new out of town talent plus they’re replacing the urinals with the automatic flushers. Nice. Real nice.

Now the referendum will have the face of Steve Wynn.

How bad did Jim McHugh set up his fellow commissioners to vote for Wynn then after they committed he bailed? I can’t wait until he is deposed.

These’s still a few acts left in this play.

Ed Markey ironically cites Nate Silver in asking for money

I know that you’re probably sick of my complaining about Ed Markey’s fundraising emails.  I understand that, even though his is one of the safest Democratic Senate seats in the country, he has to raise some money to keep it safe, blah blah.  But really – every day?  Look at your inbox and count the number of days over the last several weeks in which you didn’t get a fundraising plea from Markey.  If your inbox looks like mine, it’s a pretty small number.

Anyway, I was amused by the irony of the latest plea, which arrived this morning (email, no link):

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight gives Republicans a 54.7% chance of taking the Senate. The Washington Post and the Rothenberg Report are making similar predictions.

The Republicans are pulling out all the stops to take over the Senate this year. We need to build up our grassroots defense to make sure Massachusetts isn’t one of their conquests.

But a little context is useful.  First, Silver is indeed now forecasting a 54.7% chance of a GOP Senate takeover.  But that is down almost 10 points from a 64% chance just two weeks ago.  So things are trending in the right direction.

Second, and more importantly, Silver’s assessment of the probability of Democrats retaining Markey’s seat is … [drum roll] 100%.  That’s right, 100%.  And that makes perfect sense.  What do you think the odds are that more than a handful of GOP activists in Massachusetts can even name the Republican running against Markey?  Brian what’s-his-name is not going to be the next US Senator from Massachusetts.  He’s just not.

My point is not that Markey shouldn’t be getting in all of our faces regarding the upcoming election.  My point is that his is a safe seat, so it seems to me that he could spare a little fundraising muscle for his colleagues who really are in close races.  Colorado.  North Carolina.  Iowa.  Minnesota.  Even New Hampshire, for heaven’s sake.  If Markey’s goal is really to avoid a GOP takeover of the Senate, it seems to me that his fundraising prowess would be better spent on those races, rather than on padding his own already hefty campaign account to blow out a guy who is little more than a token opponent.

The 2014 Democratic Gubernatorial Primary Results, By the Numbers

Building on jcohn88′s post from Friday, which looked at the primary results in Boston on a precinct-by-precinct level, I took advantage of some lousy weather on Saturday to look at town-by-town results in the governor’s race statewide.

By now most of us have seen the above statewide map, courtesy of WBUR, showing who won each town. By my count this map shows that AG Coakley won 220 of the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns outright and tied for first in six more (four with Steve Grossman and two with Don Berwick; more on ties at the bottom of the post). Steve Grossman won 80 towns (74 outright and six ties for first) and Don Berwick placed first in 51 towns (48 outright, 2 tied with Coakley, and 1 tied with Grossman).

I’ve found such maps to be interesting but of limited use in a three-way race, so I’ve gone ahead and made a spreadsheet and generated some more maps for your viewing pleasure. The goal is to show where each candidate did – or didn’t – have support and to identify some trends.

Martha Coakley

The sitting AG, of course, was the winner last Tuesday with 42.4% of the vote, compared to Steve Grossman’s 36.5% and Don Berwick’s 21.1%. As the map below shows, she did well just about everywhere and truly poorly almost nowhere.

The key for the map is as follows:

Good towns: Dark Blue: 60%+, Blue: 50-59.99%, Light Blue: 40-49.99%
Medium towns: White: 30-39.99%
Bad towns: Pink: 25-29.99%, Red 15-24.99%, Dark Red: Below 15%

Labor Day Weekend in Central America

(Hi everyone. Thanks for welcoming me to the BMG community. For my first post I wanted to share a few takeaways from my trip to Central America earlier this month. Would love to hear your thoughts and look forward to joining this conversation.  – Joe)

Gunfire at work. Death threats at home. Vicious gangs demanding you pay them a ‘war tax’ or your 7-year-old son’s life is on the line.

For Margarita and her son Darling, this was their daily reality in Lempira, Honduras. And last November it finally forced Margarita – terrified and desperate – to leave her home, pack up what few belongings she could, and flee the country with Darling by her side, moving north to a country whose golden door has long been a refuge for the oppressed and afraid.

They were not alone. Since last October, nearly 60,000 children and families have arrived at our border asking to be let in. Many were fleeing similar danger as Margarita and Darling. Some were seeking economic opportunity. Others were trying to reunite with family. But all cascaded on our border asking for help. For several months – even as the numbers pouring in have steadied — our country has struggled to respond.

With this in mind, I traveled to Central America over Labor Day Weekend with a bipartisan group of my colleagues, trying to understand what fueled the surge in migration. We talked to religious leaders in El Salvador about how they protect their communities from violence in the absence of a reliable police force. We visited an outreach center for Honduran youth where the first thing you see when you walk in is a wall filled with pictures of local children who have lost their lives to gang violence. We toured a shelter for victims of sex trafficking in Guatemala City, speaking to girls no more than 14 and 15 years old.

That life, raw and real, opened our eyes to the circumstances so many of these families are desperate to leave behind. This is not a problem for the United States to solve on its own. But there is no question there are areas where we can help. We need to work with the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to crack down on the human smugglers (known locally as coyotes), address poverty, assist local development and restore faith in civic institutions. We have to clean up our own system, pass comprehensive immigration reform and make a strong, clear statement about what US policy is – and isn’t. And we need additional judges, lawyers and legal resources in our system to speed up the process for assessing whether people arriving in this country have a legitimate claim to asylum or not.

But there was a lesson that resonated through our experience above all else. Fueling the instability and violence wreaking havoc on Central American communities is one thing: the United States’ deep, painful and persistent addiction to narcotics.

This is a plight we here in Massachusetts know far too well. From Taunton to Springfield, families across our Commonwealth have been coping with this heartbreaking epidemic. But the human cost of our country’s addiction extends beyond our borders. At the heart of the poverty, crime and lack of opportunity driving desperate children and adults to American soil are drug cartels that have systemically undermined civil society, rule of law and economic justice. The impunity of these cartels is protected by the US drug trade. By the billions of dollars that flow into their pockets from the rock bottom of the American drug culture.

Which is why this country needs to confront its addiction crisis head-on, as the public health emergency that it is, rather than the law enforcement problem it has become. The DEA estimates that the heroin trade with Mexico alone is well over $40 billion per year; the gross domestic product of Honduras is only $18 billion. There is no chance we can arrest our way out of this problem. We need to invest more resources into education, treatment and prevention. Combatting drug abuse will require a comprehensive approach, ensuring we have enough providers, making sure dosing guidelines reflect the realities of addiction, holding insurance companies accountable for their role in helping to improve access to care, and guaranteeing that those with addiction get the long-term health care they deserve for what is a chronic condition.

There is no easy answer to the crisis of drugs, violence and economic opportunity that continues to drive thousands to our doorstep. At every repatriation center we visited on the trip, I asked the individuals there why they’d left; why they’d risked everything on a dangerous journey with no guarantee of success. The answer was simple: promise of a life free of fear and violence. Promise of a country that doesn’t turn its back on the hungry, the persecuted or the abused.

As the United States works to address this issue and reform our broken, backwards immigration system, it is that promise that must light our way. Because few American families would be here today were it not for that golden door. Mine certainly wouldn’t.


Bill Koch's Anti-Cape Wind Group Distances Itself from Itself

Astroturf the planetTo no one’s surprise, Bill Koch’s “Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound” front group for billionaires who hate looking at distant windmills has pledged to continue fighting Cape Wind despite the fact that the project is now committed to creating up to 1,000 jobs in New Bedford.

The statement from Audra Parker, the Alliance’s top lobbyist, calls Cape Wind a “project already struggling under the weight of lawsuits”. Audra doesn’t say, but those lawsuits have either been filed by the Alliance directly or by partners like the town of Barnstable, which has taken at least $400,000 in Alliance money to pay lawyers. Why isn’t the Alliance taking credit for its own lawsuits?

I’ve worked for or volunteered with several non-profits and at all of them, if we filed a lawsuit that slowed or stopped something we opposed, we’d be desperately trying to take credit for it. We’d have spent months or years rallying grassroots supporters behind our cause and we’d be thrilled to deliver them a win.

The Alliance is doing the exact opposite because it has no grassroots. It’s pure Astroturf, using Bill Koch’s green to buy the appearance of public support and hoping you can’t smell the plastic.

Seth Moulton on the militarization of local police

First off, if you haven’t read 6th Congressional district candidate Seth Moulton’s live chat right here on BMG, read it now.  Moulton answered a lot of questions, and was almost startlingly forthright in many of his answers.  Clearly, the guy’s a rookie.  ;)  (Note to the humor-impaired: that last line was a joke.)

Among Moulton’s clearest statements on controversial issues was this:

The situation in Ferguson last month is the clearest example of the huge problems a militarized police force present to our communities. We should not be providing military-grade equipment to civilian police, especially if they are not properly trained.

That, to my knowledge, is the strongest statement any candidate for any office in Massachusetts (and maybe beyond) has made on that issue.  I, for one, wholeheartedly welcome it.  And it is particularly powerful coming from someone who actually knows a thing or two about military weaponry.  To refresh your recollection,

Seth joined the Marine Corps in 2001. Although Seth was firmly against the Iraq War, Seth served his country and led his platoon — eventually serving four tours of duty in Iraq over five years. Seth led an infantry platoon during the 2003 invasion and was in the first Marine company to enter Baghdad. Later, he worked to establish an independent Iraqi media. The following year, Seth returned to Iraq as an infantry platoon commander and fought in the lead company in the Battle of Najaf. At the request of then-Lieutenant General David Petraeus, Seth remained in Iraq and joined a small team of Marines working closely with Iraqi security forces and served as a liaison to senior Iraqi leaders south of Baghdad.

Indeed, some of the strongest voices against what happened in Ferguson have come from military veterans highly critical of the way military equipment was deployed there.  I would be delighted if we could send one such voice to Congress this fall.

Local Catholic Leaders come out swinging for repeal

From Crux:

Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Worcester Bishop Robert McManus, Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski and Rev. George Coleman, the Apostolic Administrator of Fall River, say the gambling industry threatens local businesses, “weakens the moral fabric of society” and “fundamentally alters communities.”

And before people scream like Helen Lovejoy-they’ve clearly done their homework and lay out the economic case too-perhaps they have been reading BMG:

The bishops say the Massachusetts’ economy has improved markedly since the casino law passed in 2011. They note that other Northeast states have seen casino gambling revenues decline and that five casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey could close by the end of the year.

And in case anyone dismisses the influence these prelates have in voters as waning or insignificant, I would remind them that the Church’s opposition to euthanasia helped defeat that proposal.

Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Bottle Bill?

On Saturday, since the candidate for whom I had been volunteering (Berwick) lost the primary, I decided that I would devote some of my new free time to the ballot initiatives. I signed up to volunteer for Yes on 2, Yes on 3, and Yes on 4.

Coincidentally, that afternoon, the Massachusetts “Information for Voters” guide from Secretary Galvin came in the mail. I’m new to Massachusetts (I’ve lived here just over a year), so I found it particularly interesting to get such a guide. (I don’t remember ever getting one in Pennsylvania—not that we ever had as compelling ballot initiatives in recent years, at least to my memory).

The booklet provides a summary of each of the four ballot questions, tells you what a yes or no vote will mean, provides space for arguments submitted by both sides,and then gives the full text of the proposed law.

The name of the group campaigning against Question 2 caught my eye: “Comprehensive Recycling Works.” By the name, it sounds like either a recycling advocacy group (“works” as a verb) or a recycling company (“works” as a noun). “Comprehensive Recycling Works” criticized the proposal for “expanding an outdated, ineffective, and inconvenient system” and called for “modern recycling technology” that would enable Massachusetts to become a “recycling leader.”

After reading this, I thought to myself, “I wonder who is behind Comprehensive Recycling Works.” So I googled the address (it was given), and lo and behold, the first thing to show up was the website for the Massachusetts Food Association, that is, the supermarket lobby. Or, to use their own words, a trade association of “retailers (from the large chain supermarkets to the corner store operator), food brokers, manufacturers and wholesalers.” Same building, same suite. How kind of them to provide space for this completely-not-connected-in-any-way-group.

Mass AFL-CIO Endorses Seth Moulton

6th CD nominee Seth Moulton appeared before the Mass AFL-CIO Executive Council today (Seth mentioned he was headed there in his live chat this morning).

Seth had completed the Mass AFL-CIO candidate questionnaire and that document was the basis for several questions around education and health care issues from Union leaders.

As a strong Tierney supporter, I want to give Seth credit for standing in front of folks that weren’t with him and tackling some tough questions. While not every answer was in agreement with the Unions who asked the questions, Seth made it clear that his core values were with workers.

Both the Executive Council and the full Political Convention body endorsed Seth Moulton for Congress in the 6th.

Globe Editorial Page Editor Peter Canellos Leaving. Another Renee-Loth-I-Don't-Pimp-For-Casinos Move? Why Today Peter? Why Today?

Long time Globie and editorial page editor Peter Canellos is leaving his post. Why? The last big self-removal from the editorial board was Renee Loth who was sickened over her boss’s endorsement of casinos. She actually thought she worked for people who were on the level. What an education she got.

And now smack in the middle of the Globe’s endorsement of Steve Wynn’s blatant goodfella’s Everett deal in return for big advertising dollars Canellos realized he couldn’t look himself in the mirror every morning if he continued to be one of the well paid and well hidden flacks saying the manure called Wynn’s Everett Casino is actually gold. IMHO

BTW folks, once these people get their grubby hands in our state with a lucrative and powerful casino license they then become a force that politicians have to reckon with. You’s start seeing Wynn executives, their business partners, and lobbyists at every two bit function that use to be held at Anthony’s Pier 4.

Like David Cameron telling Scotland there’s no going back, Massachusetts voters need to know that after Wynn and the boys get their license there’s no going back.

P.S. How about the farce called a hearing the Gaming Commission is conducting over at the Boston Teachers Union Hall right now.

P.S. 2 The commission is made up of two former Cellucci guys with no background close to what is needed. One is a former Springfield city councillor. Then we have Jim McHugh seasoned from the mean streets of South Dakota, Bingham Dana, and the sanctimonious life of a Mass Appeals Court Judge. At least there’s a former N.J. state trooper who worked investigating the Atlantic City scene. She’s the only one I trust but then what do I know? She was a cop so the integrity thing is a coin flip if you know nothing about the person.


I’m still on twitter you know.

Seth Moulton Live Chat

Good morning Blue Mass Group!

It is my privilege to serve as the Democratic nominee for Congress in Massachusetts’ 6th district. I look forward to working with you to keep this seat blue in November, and I’d like to kick it off by answering your questions! I’ll be online from 9:30 to 10:30; if you’d like to post some questions in advance just leave them in the comments! Long-time reader, first time poster,

- Seth


Just finished watching Episode One of The Roosevelts, An Intimate History and WOW ! What an amazing story. As an American history major and lifelong progressive activist it sent goosebumps up my spine and brought many a tear to my eye. What extraordinary spirits they were; Teddy,Eleanor and Franklin.
Their example of strong, uncompromising, progressive leadership should inspire all of us to follow in their footsteps. My favorite quotes : “The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us.” TR “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ER “The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in essence is fascism–ownership of government by an individual, by a group or any controlling private power.” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt–on the threat to democracy by corporate power.

Fred Rich LaRiccia

Elizabeth Warren endorses Martha Coakley

I’m sure the campaign will put out a professional video of this fabulous endorsement, including a great story about how Elizabeth first got to know Martha eight years ago, but I was near the front and captured the closing few minutes of Elizabeth’s remarks with my iPhone.  Well worth a watch. Loved seeing these two great public servants together.
Link to video on YouTube:
When Elizabeth met Martha… an endorsement story


Meet Seth Moulton at BMG!

We’re delighted to announce that Seth Moulton, the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 6th district who defeated incumbent John Tierney in last week’s primary, will be online tomorrow between 9:30 and 10:30 am to answer your questions.  We’ll post a new thread tomorrow morning, and Moulton will answer questions in the comments.

Don’t miss it!

Law Suits We Can Expect After Gaming Commission Issues License Decision This Week

First Off. Whoever wants to sue the Commission for not playing fair should bring it in federal court. (David, any jurisdictional problems?)

The judges in The Moakley Building are genetically wired to believe anything coming out of Beacon Hill is highly suspect if not criminal. And they ain’t afraid of no governor or attorney general or former fellow MA Superior Court and Appeals Court judge (McHugh) or the local mob or Steve Wynn or Bill Weld or The Boston Globe. You get the picture? (Okay, they are afraid of the Globe because for the most part they’re Ivy League snobs with little life experience but still better than the state judges on this)

Okay. Let’s project to next week, shall we?

1. The Commission grants Steve Wynn the Everett license.



It has been a week of disappointment for this progressive activist. I have wrestled with conflicting thoughts and emotions ranging from throwing in the towel to abandoning party politics altogether. But with time for my wounds to heal and deeper reflection I have resolved my internal conflicts and would like to share some lessons learned with you, my fellow liberals.

As many of you know I was Senior Advisor to Mike Lake, Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor. I couldn’t have been more proud of my friend than I was on Wednesday morning as we both attended the Unity Breakfast at the Parker House. I knew how bad he was hurting inside yet he conducted himself with grace and encouragement to all. He felt bad for those of us who had volunteered and worked so hard for him. Imagine. He had just been kicked in the gut and called to see how we were doing because he felt he had let us down. I was moved to tears by the experience. Governor Patrick was so kind and thanked us for our service and we shared how we had marched together in the pouring rain at his first Gay Pride Parade in 2005 and how much progress we had made.
We also suffered the loss of my friend and Congressman John Tierney. I met Seth Moulton at the breakfast and when he asked for my support,as reported earlier here and in the Globe, I told him he would have to earn it by proving to me he was a ‘real progressive’. I’m still waiting.
The only consistent takeaway for me on Tuesday when asked how we did was : ‘If I voted for him, they lost.’ We did,however, win the town of Gosnold !

So, after being consoled and bucked up by my friend, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, I’m ready to get back in the fight. But not without some caveats. I have decided I can support the national/statewide ticket best by taking action locally. First, I will consult and manage the most hotly contested state rep race in my area, the 9th Essex: Lynn (Wd. 1, Pcts. 1,2), Saugus (Pcts. 1,2,4-9), Wakefield (Pcts. 1-3,7). It is currently held by Donald Wong (R-Saugus). He is being challenged by my guy, Christopher Finn, the Democratic nominee. We met yesterday with my protégé, Anthony Guardia, who has agreed to come on board as our Wakefield coordinator. Check Chris out at
Second, I will actively support my other state rep and longtime friend Rep. Paul Brodeur (D-Melrose) and 5th Middlesex state senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester). That should keep me busy until November 4 as I do still have a day job.

Strength and Honor! Forward to Victory !

Fred Rich LaRiccia