My quickie DNC interviews

Over the four days I was at the DNC, I asked some of the people I bumped into why they were there, in roughly 30 seconds.  Here are the folks I talked to, along with what they told me.


Scenes from the DNC, from our photographer (part 2)

Here are more scenes taken by our photographer, Glenn Kulbako.  These are all inside the hall at the Wells Fargo Center.  You can click the images for a larger view.

Scenes from the DNC, from our photographer (part 1)

I was happy to be able to take Glenn Kulbako, a friend and professional photographer, along to the DNC with me.  He took much better quality pictures than I was able to.  Here’s some of what he saw outside the arena, and in the corridors.  Scenes from inside the hall are in a separate post.  You can click the images for a larger view.

Outside the Wells Fargo Center

Baker Pays Off Political Debt With Petty Veto

“Listen, I run a bus company. We run an efficient bus company that’s headquartered in Springfield, Mass. When you’re looking at publicly subsidized rail service it absolutely can have an impact on our business.”

–Peter Picknelly, CEO Peter Pan Bus Company

Charlie Baker, Governor of Massachusetts, has enjoyed popularity ratings inversely proportional to those of Donald Trump. He’s easily the most popular governor in the United States.

Peter Picknelly, the owner of Peter Pan Bus Lines, is a good business man: he donates to both Republicans and Democrats; he donates to philanthropic causes; and he does his best to boost the down-and-out City of Springfield.

Then candidate Charlie Baker greets Peter Pan Bus Lines owner at a Springfield fundraiser that the businessman held for Baker

Put them together and what do you get?

A transparently, politically cheap move to keep the public good ignorant of the potential benefits of east-west rail service.

Dan Glaun of Masslive has an outstanding, well-researched article on the subject:

Massachusetts State Sen. Eric Lesser’s push to study expanded east-west rail service is facing pushback from Peter Picknelly, the Springfield business leader whose Peter Pan bus company is currently the main provider of mass transit from Springfield to Boston.

Lesser’s (D-Longmeadow) proposal to launch a feasibility study of building higher speed rail across the state won approval from the legislature during budget votes in May and June. But on July 8, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker used his veto powers to amend the measure, changing it from a formal study to a working group that would study bus improvements and other transit options as well.

Two days before Gov. Baker’s veto, Picknelly, a major Springfield employer, philanthropist and state-wide political donor, sent an email to Baker and legislators urging Baker to reject Lesser’s proposal.

In the email, obtained by MassLive, Picknelly describes the proposal as redundant of other ongoing rail studies in the northeast, and argued any study should examine other forms of transport. Rail is expensive and would be no faster than his bus service, he argued.

“I am always disappointed that proposed studies like this only include rail, and never seem to take a comprehensive look at all modes of transportation,” Picknelly wrote. “A balanced approach to transportation would look at a number of alternatives, such as HOV lanes and express bus services.”

But he also cited the threat that an East-West rail line from Springfield to Boston posed to his business.

“I simply can’t see the point of spending huge amounts of taxpayer dollars for this kind of rail service, which would adversely impact Peter Pan, an 80-year old, tax-paying business that provides first-class service between Springfield and Boston, and which would also affect the hundreds of good union jobs Peter Pan provides to Western MA area employees,” Picknelly wrote.

I met the guy who was dancing during Katy Perry

What is it about Katy Perry?  First Left Shark, and now this?

Walter Weeks and BMG’s David

Anyway, video of this gentleman dancing has been making the internet rounds. So, maybe you’d like to know who he is. Happily, I bumped into him on the floor of the convention, and we had a brief chat. His name is Walter Weeks, and here’s what he said:

Home run by Hillary

A great acceptance speech: responsibility delivered with passion. Plus, an evisceration of the Trumplet.

I’m ready to work hard to raise money, build support, and elect this excellent candidate to the White House.


Solar Electric Power to the People

I like direct action, positive protest that has immediate, practical, social and economic use.

That’s why I say, Solar IS Civil Defense – light, phone, battery can be supplied by a few square inches of solar electric panel. The solar bike lights on my backpack over the last decade have proven the concept to my satisfaction (

Light, phone, battery are also entry level electricity for the 1.4 billion or so of us around the world who don’t yet have access to reliable electric power. Emergency preparedness at home, entry level solar power to the people who’ve never had it is essentially the same thing.

Bare minimum solar electricity for all, as long as the sun shines and the batteries hold out, is technically and practically feasible now.

It is rapidly becoming affordable too.

I know of one company that is reaching the price point of $1 per unit production costs for solar rechargeable lights ( and believe that there are others that are doing the same or better. That’s $1.4 in production costs (or less, given economies of scale) to supply everyone among the presently powerless or $200 million if we start with one solar lighting system per family at a global average of 7 people per family.

How much more for delivery and setting up the infrastructure? The Dominican Light Project ( is beginning to provide solar lights for every family in the Dominican Republic at a proposed cost of $5 each to the customer’s door. They raised some of their money through crowdfunding (–2#/)

Bare minimum solar electricity for all, as long as the sun shines and the batteries hold out, is not only technically feasible but also affordable and practical now.

in 2015, the world’s military forces spent $1,676.0 billion or $4.59 billion per day

2016 USA Presidential election spending to July 22, 2016:
Amount raised by candidates: $904 million
Amount raised by Super PACS supporting them: $492

Just for reference.

Conceivably, there could be an ad hoc popular movement for crowd funding the end of electrical energy poverty within the next 3 to 5 years. A day of what we spend on warfare or a US Presidential campaign could give everybody who needed a light, light.

This is solar electric power to the people.

Now, add a bicycle or a hand-crank and you have two reliable sources of electricity day or night, by sunlight or muscle power.

Here are a few solar lighting buy one, give one programs:
One Million Lights


Buy One Give One for Malawi

LuminAID Portable Solar-Powered Inflatable Light

10 Inspiring “Buy One Give One” Projects – Mashable

How does a month in jail because you could not pay a fine sound? Like debtor's prison, maybe? Happens every day in our state.

State Senator Jamie Eldridge wrote:

“Just leaving the State House, after a fairly long day. I joined Senator Mike Barrett, in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, in his oversight hearing today to look into the fees and fines imposed upon Mass residents convicted of crimes, both in the court process, and in prison. The hearing was nothing less than disturbing. Senior judicial branch leaders who did not have basic data about the kinds of fines and fees imposed on the accused (the vast majority of whom are poor), prisoners being charged for making phone calls, and then the DOC taking a commission from the calls, while also paying $170 for a small TV that would cost $40 at Best Buy. People who surrender themselves to court for an unpaid fine, being sent to jail for over a month because they could not pay the fine (often over $500) right then and there, without legal counsel. There are so many layers of criminal justice reform that must happen in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it’s mind boggling. After I left the hearing, a member of EPOCA told me of how the DOC froze his personal prison bank account (from working in the prison) because he hadn’t yet paid for some drug testing, preventing him from sending money back to his family for MONTHS. I am beyond outraged, and eager to take up massive, bold legislation change to break through the destructive status quo that is the Massachusetts criminal justice system, that puts even greater obstacles on poor people, communities of color, and people suffering from mental illness. Thank you, Senator Barrett, for shining a light on these injustices.

Well, there’s more.  Do not forget that the Courts had 20% of their funding slashed under Romney and Winslow, and were told to make it up by collecting fees. Thus turning judges into bill collectors and the court system into a debtor’s prison pipeline.  I was appointed to represent a destitute mentally ill woman who was hit with two $150 counsel fees, one for herself and one for her two year old.["Counsel fees" don't go to the appointed attorney, they go to the State]  I had to mark up motions and fight the fees to get them waived.   All so that line item 0321-0330 [Non employee court funding] could recoup money and shift costs to line item 0321-1510 [which funds appointments to attorneys from representing the indigent - as happened when I had to draft, schedule and argue my motion to waive those fees then bill for my time to line item 0321-1510] while my client disregulated. It is more than disturbing – it is shameful and destructive.  Nursing mothers are separated from their kids for unpaid fines, this way – or for OUIs and locked detox.  Because there are no treatment beds they are put in Framingham Prison.  The human suffering is huge, wrong, and intolerable.

Jim McGovern talks to BMG about Hillary and Bernie

Congressman Jim McGovern addressed the MA delegation breakfast this morning, and I was able to catch up with him afterward.  McGovern takes a backseat to nobody in terms of progressive bona fides, and he’s been with Hillary Clinton from the beginning.  I asked him about that, and about how to encourage Bernie Sanders supporters who are skeptical of Clinton to vote for her this fall.  Here’s what he had to say.  As always, I’m grateful to Rep. McGovern for taking the time.

It's the last day! Follow BMG on day 4 of the DNC

Another day, another whole lot of walking, talking, snapping photos, and posting audio clips on SoundCloud. Most of the content will be on Twitter @bluemassgroup, or you can follow the stream here (I’m using hashtag #bmg16).

For overnight contemplation: Lord Gorgonzola

Here’s your late-night snack, before the sun rises on day 4.  I met this fellow on the way into the arena this evening.  The costume is good; his explanation for why he’s at the convention is better.

Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman

Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman by William Tecumseh Sherman
NY: The Library of America, 1990
ISBN 0-940450-65-8

Sherman went to West Point in 1836 and graduated in 1840, 4th in his class academically. He served in Florida, South Carolina, and California, and was at Sutter’s Mill as the Gold Rush began. He resigned his commission in 1853 and became a banker in San Francisco and later a lawyer in St Louis before teaching engineering at the Louisiana Seminary of Learning and Military Academy in 1860, from which he resigned in January 1861 to accept a commission in the US Army in May.

After his memoirs were first published, he included a long appendix in the second edition consisting of letters from interested parties correcting mistakes and offering different recollections of the events he covered.

The first time he was in battle was the first Bull Run and he remembered
“…the whole scene of the affair at Blackburn’s Ford, when for the first time in my life I saw cannonballs strike men and crash through the trees and saplings above and around us, and realized the always sickening confusion as one approaches a fight from the rear; then the night-march from Centreville, on the Warrenton road, standing for hours wondering what was meant; the deployment along the edge of the field that sloped down to Bull Run, and waiting for Hunter’s approach on the other side from the direction of Sudley Springs, away off to our right; the terrible scare of a poor negro who was caught between our lines; the crossing of Bull Run, and the fear lest we shoudl be fired on by our own men; the killing of Lieutenant-Colonel Haggerty, which occurred in plain sight; and the first scenes of a field strewed with dead men and horses.”
General Sherman knew that “Generally war is destruction and nothing else.”

His letter to the mayor of Atlanta is remarkable and may be read at

Along with all my other notes from the book.

Okay all you wonks. What are the best senate and congressional rep races to taking back majority status?

I do, seriously, want to know and haven’t been following this….life the last few years has been rather intense as those who know me well know, at least in part.  Besides, collectively, BMGers know more than any one of us knows individually.  I would, frankly, like to see Senator Sanders as Senate Majority Leader.  No president can “do it alone”.   The better the teamwork, the better the results.

Here Are The MA Dems Against Gun Safety

Attorney General Maura Healey recently moved to close loopholes in the Massachusetts ban on assault weapons. Gun industry lobbyists called this a secretive mystery plan – who knows what’s really in it?? – which was weird considering Healey announced it in a Boston Globe op-ed.

Republicans in the legislature immediately announced plans to try to roll back Healey’s gun safety measures through legislatve action and 18 Democrats are joining with them. Here are the Shameful 18:

Joining the Legislature’s 40 Republicans in signing the letter were Democratic Sens. Anne Gobi, Jennifer Flanagan, James Timilty and Michael Moore, and Reps. James Dwyer, Colleen Garry, Brian Mannal, Alan Silvia, Thomas Golden, Thomas Clater, Jonathan Zlotnick, John Velis, Josh Cutler, James Arciero, Stephan Hay, Dave Nangle, Paul McMurtry and Stephen Kulik.

Do these Democrats really think what we need in America is less gun safety? More assault weapons?

You can find their contact info here:

If you contact any of them, please let us know their response in comments.

Meet Keri Thompson, UIP candidate for state rep

A frequent knock on third parties is “hey, why are you just running for president?  Run serious candidates for state rep.  Build your farm team.”  So, here’s Keri Thompson, who is trying to do just that: she’s running for the soon-to-be-open Third Plymouth District seat as a United Independent Party (UIP) candidate.

We talked for about 15 minutes about Thompson’s role in the Bernie Sanders campaign (she was an elected Bernie delegate, but she resigned that position after registering UIP, giving up her position to an alternate delegate who is reportedly delighted to be here), and about her UIP candidacy.

Follow BMG at day 3 of the Democratic National Convention

Day 3: more of the same.  Wandering, talking, taking photos, and posting to Twitter.  I’m hoping to have a photographer friend contributing higher quality photos today. Follow @bluemassgroup, or watch the stream here.  Enjoy!

DNC Day 2 wrap-up

Just a couple of thoughts on yesterday before day 3 kicks into high gear.

  • The roll-call of states is awesome.  Listening to representatives of every state and territory talk about their home as they cast their delegation’s votes for president … well, it’s political junkie heaven.  And if you haven’t watched Bernie Sanders’ brother Larry cast his vote for Bernie, watch it now.  It was among the most moving moments of the entire convention.  There literally was not a dry eye in the house.
  • Bernie Sanders’ motion at the end of the roll call, after every other state had cast their votes (the delegates were not informed when Hillary went over the top, which I think was after South Dakota voted) to nominate Hillary Clinton by voice vote was exceptionally gracious.  There were some audible “no” votes, but the ayes vastly outnumbered them.
  • Bill Clinton’s speech was the other big event of the evening.  I wouldn’t call it electrifying, as some of his past speeches have been.  But, of course, his role at this convention is very different: to introduce and make the case for his wife.  He did that at length (there were many Twitter comments along the lines of “oh God, we’re 20 minutes in and only up to 1980!”), and I thought effectively.  A good setup from the more personal side, in preparation of what we can expect tonight from President Obama and VP Biden.
  • There was far, far less audible protesting inside the hall tonight than there was last night.  I heard very little in the way of boos, or even “Bernie! Bernie!” chanting.  However, a number of delegates left the floor after the roll call, and there were protests outside the arena.  Here’s a photo of one of them (click for larger).  The woman closest to me is an elected Bernie delegate from Oregon.

A Senator, a Speaker, and a Sheriff talk to BMG

This morning’s interviews at the MA delegation breakfast include Senator Ed Markey, Speaker Bob DeLeo, and Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins.  All very interesting and worth listening to.  As always, I very much appreciate their time.

Senator Markey:

Speaker DeLeo:

Sheriff Tompkins:

Hillary Clinton nominated!

Woo hoo! She’ll be an infinitely better president than worse-than-Voldemort Trump. I’m glad to see her nominated, glad to see a woman finally making substantive progress toward the highest office in the land, and looking forward to working hard for her until victory in November.

This Democratic Convention is much more exciting than any one I can remember since, perhaps, Bill Clinton was nominated to defeat George Bush senior and his tired old ideas, and did, or Barack Obama was nominated to defeat John McCain and his tired old ideas, and did . Bernie Sanders has brought that to Philadelphia, and enormously strengthened the Democratic Party as a whole, and especially the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. His vote to put her over the top with Vermont was an act of political courage. Presumably, Clinton has offered him something worthwhile for his efforts, which is right and proper. He promises to keep bringing it until November. Bravo!

Go Hillary!

NYT says Julian Assange timed email leak

A striking piece in the NYT suggests its former partnership with Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange has well and truly foundered. At this rate, he may be in the Ecuadorian Embassy for a very long time.

Six weeks before the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks published an archive of hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of the Democratic convention, the organization’s founder, Julian Assange, foreshadowed the release — and made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency.

Mr. Assange’s remarks in a June 12 interview underscored that for all the drama of the discord that the disclosures have sown among supporters of Bernie Sanders — and of the unproven speculation that the Russian government provided the hacked data to WikiLeaks in order to help Donald J. Trump — the disclosures are also the latest chapter in the long-running tale of Mr. Assange’s battles with the Obama administration.

In the interview, Mr. Assange told a British television host, Robert Peston of the ITV network, that his organization had obtained “emails related to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication,” which he pronounced “great.” He also suggested that he not only opposed her candidacy on policy grounds, but also saw her as a personal foe.

At one point, Mr. Peston said: “Plainly, what you are saying, what you are publishing, hurts Hillary Clinton. Would you prefer Trump to be president?”

For more on Mr. Assange, listen to this recent, somewhat tiresome interview on Democracy Now!