Joke Revue: Perry hopes glasses, not talking will make him seem smarter

Borowitz:

RICK PERRY HOPES COMBINATION OF WEARING GLASSES AND NOT TALKING WILL MAKE HIM SEEM SMARTER

AUSTIN, Tex. (The Borowitz Report)—With an eye toward a Presidential run in 2016, Rick Perry, the Texas governor, is hoping that a two-pronged strategy of wearing glasses and not speaking will make him appear smarter to voters, aides to the Governor confirmed today.

“After the 2012 Republican primary, we knew that we needed to solve what we called the Governor’s smartness problem,” said Harland Dorrinson, an aide to Perry. “The fix that we came up with was glasses, but, as it turned out, that was only half the solution.”

After outfitting Perry with designer eyewear, aides sent him on the road to reintroduce himself to voters, but the response, Mr. Dorrinson said, was underwhelming: “The problem was, he was still talking.”

A round of focus groups convinced aides that only through a combination of wearing glasses and not emitting any sounds could Perry overcome voters’ initial impressions of him.

At a recent political stop in San Antonio, the newly minted Governor Perry was on display, wearing his glasses and gesticulating expressively while saying nothing for thirty minutes.

“Our focus groups show people no longer know what Rick Perry is thinking,” said Mr. Dorrinson. “That’s a huge improvement.”

Daniel Kurtzman:

“Yesterday, North Korea held its annual marathon. Congratulations to first, second and third place winner, Kim Jong Un.” –Conan O’Brien

“CNN announced that Anthony Bourdain’s show is taking over Piers Morgan’s time slot. Anthony is a culinary expert who loves good food. His show is the highest-rated series on CNN. But let’s be honest. The highest-rated series on CNN is like being the least drunk Australian.” –Craig Ferguson

“George W. Bush and Bill Clinton sat next to each other at the big game. Clinton congratulated UConn on its big win, while Bush gave Kentucky a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.” –Jimmy Fallon

“About a year from now, I’ll be doing commercials for reverse mortgages.” –David Letterman

“Hillary Clinton yesterday made some very strong remarks about the media. She said that the media treat powerful women with a double standard. Or as it got reported in most places, ‘Hillary Clinton shows off sassy new haircut.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“A year from now I’ll be on the beach with a metal detector.” –David Letterman

“Billionaire Sheldon Adelson had a little party in Vegas this weekend to audition Republican presidential candidates, and they all came to kiss his ass: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, John Kasich. Chris Christie came, and while he was in Vegas he went over to the New York, New York hotel and shut down traffic on the miniature Brooklyn Bridge.” –Bill Maher

“50 years ago, America’s biggest employer was General Motors, where workers made the modern equivalent of $50 dollars an hour. Today, America’s biggest employer is Walmart, where the average wage is $8 dollars an hour…And Walmart released their annual report this month, and in it was the fact that most of what Walmart sells is food. And most of their customers need food stamps to pay for it. Meanwhile, Walmart’s owners are so absurdly rich that one of them, Alice Walton, spent over a billion dollars building an art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, 500 miles away from the nearest person who ever would want to look at art. And she said about it, ‘For years I’ve been thinking about what we can do as a family that can really make a difference.’ How about giving your employees a raise, you deluded nitwit?” –Bill Maher

“Evil Russian president Vladimir Putin and his wife have divorced. They say it was amicable. It must be because she’s still alive.” –David Letterman

James Hansen at MIT

James Hansen visited MIT on April 15 and April 16 and gave two public talks. One was for Fossil Free MIT (http://www.fossilfreemit.org), a new student group concerned with divestment, on the politics of climate change, “Combatting the Climate Crisis: the Path from Science to Action,” and the other was for the climate science community on “Ice Sheet Melt, Sea Level and Storms,” the subject of a paper he is now working on.

The good news is that, according to Hansen, we do not have to worry about catastrophic methane releases from the tundra or ocean clathrates as the paleoclimate record shows there were no such releases in higher temperature periods.

The bad news is that, according to a paper Hansen is now working on, we do have to worry about the effects of ice sheet melt on ocean currents and thermoclines as well as the possibility of dramatic wind intensity increases in storms. Again, based upon the paleoclimate and geologic record.

Hansen would have preferred to title the political talk “Challenge for young people: how to make the unfolding climate crisis an opportunity” as he believes that confronting the climate issue can be beneficial, that the prospect is not all doom and gloom. However, he also said, “We have almost as much warming in the pipeline as has already occurred” (0.8º C which means at least 1.6º C cumulative even if we stop now).

Climate impacts we are already seeing include ice sheet disintegration, sea level rise, species extinction, weather extremes. Comparing the present climate to the paleoclimate record can help us predict some of the impacts. During the Eemian, the interglacial period 130,000 years ago, temperature was 2º C warmer than now and sea level was 5-9 meters higher; during the Pliocene, 5.332 million to 2.588 million years ago, the temperature was 3-4º C higher and sea level was up to 66 feet (20 meters) higher than today.

As long-time gardeners know, climate zones have been consistently shifting Northwards. Previously, this shift is now happening at the rate of a few kilometer per year, making it very difficult for many species to react. Hansen used the Monarch butterfly as his example of species extinction pressure, talking about his personal experience over the years with Monarchs on his small PA farmstead. The pressures on Monarch butterflies are not only climate but the elimination of one of their primary food sources, milkweed, although climate change is certainly one of the reasons for the diminishment of their habitat, both here in the US and Canada as well as Mexico.

One of the steps people can take to reverse the collapse of the Monarch butterfly population is to plant milkweeds seed and remove black swallow wort, an invasive plant Monarchs can mistake for milkweed which is poisonous to them (http://www.cctvcambridge.org/BlackSwallow-Wort). More information on Monarch preservation is available through these resources:
http://monarchwatch.org
http://www.monarchbutterflyfund.org
http://www.monarch-butterfly.com/monarch-conservation.html
http://www.flightofthebutterflies.com/conservation-preservation/
https://www.livemonarch.com/free-milkweed-seeds.htm

He also mentioned the coral reefs which are habitat for a million or more species and vanishing at the rate of 1% per year through ocean acidification and other mechanisms. In addition, precipitation is happening in more violent events, more snow and rain per hour, a reality that the weather data supports conclusively.

“We can’t burn all our fossil fuels… The limit should be 500 gigatons of carbon and we’ve already burned 390 gigatons.” (I’m not sure that I got these figures correctly in my note taking.)

Hansen believes that 2ºC is no longer a reasonable target, especially since there is such a strong correlation between sea level rise and temperature. He calls for a quick coal phase-out, no unconventional fossil fuels like shale oil or fracking, and a price on carbon. His preference is not cap and trade but fee and dividend which covers all fossil fuels and distributes all the dividends directly to the people, an equal amount to all legal residents without one dime going to government. The only US national legislation that is even close to that is the Boxer/Sanders Climate Protection Act of 2013 which Hansen does not completely support as it retains 40% of the carbon fees for the government and does not pass through 100% of the fees to the people. We need to reduce fossil fuel consumption by 30% by 2024 or 2025. If US and China decide to adopt fee and dividend, it would change everything. (The US is not likely to pass any climate legislation in the near future and China has embarked on a pilot program of municipal cap and trade over the last year or so.) More information is available from http://www.citizensclimatelobby.org , which supports fee and dividend.

“Basically, what we have to do is decarbonize our energy.” Sweden is closest to this decarbonization process and they made the transition in about a decade.

Hansen supports new nuclear technologies, fast reactors and thorium reactors with safe shutdown and automatic or no cooling. He believes that renewables are not enough. That, contra Amory Lovins, efficiency is not enough. I was happy to see him display one of my favorite graphs from Lovins’ original Foreign Affairs article back in 1974. This graph compares the hard energy and soft energy paths with projections of US energy usage going out to the mid-21st century. According to the estimates of the usual sources, International Energy Agency, US Energy Information Agency, and others, we should be using 200-300 quadrillion btu’s of energy per year about now. However, in reality, the US has peaked at about 100 quads and been at or below that annual energy budget for about 20 years now while still raising GDP and growing the economy, (despite the best efforts of the banksters).

Hansen believes that climate change is a matter of “intergenerational injustice,” that there is a legal case to be made for children to sue for the harm they will have to endure if their elders continue on the path we’ve presently laid out. There is, in fact, a Federal lawsuit on this issue to be heard in the DC district on May 2. Further information may be available from http://www.ourchildrenstrust.org

During the Q and A, Hansen had to deal with a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party who told us that capitalism is the problem (and Bob Avakian has all the answers) and someone very worried about chem-trails in the sky.

The next day, April 16, Hansen spoke on “Ice Sheet Melt, Sea Level and Storms” to MIT’s climate scientists. In contrast to his political speech which was confident and self-assured, his scientific speech was diffident and halting as he hadn’t completed the paper or finalized his work. He told the audience that one of the reasons why he accepted the invitation to speak was as a spur to finish his paper. I suspect that his political work has interfered with his scientific pursuits and hope that he gets back to the science soon.

He told us that anthropogenic carbon forcing dwarfs anything else affecting climate, that there is a possibility of rapid ice melt, that the paleoclimate record shows rapid changes in ocean currents at temperatures like those today, that such changes can happen again.

Such cooling of the North Atlantic can increase wind speeds to dangerous levels during storms. If Greenland gets warm enough, all bets are off. Greenland ice melt may be much more dangerous than we currently consider. The loss of one meter of ice sheet melt begins to set some of these effects into motion.

Hansen is extremely approachable and was willing to talk to almost anybody. He seems to be a gentle man and a gentleman and certainly is a committed and knowledgeable scientist concerned with the future of his children and grandchildren and all the children of the world.

Worcester Police: All Random Assaults Now KNOCKOUT GAME

There have been a few random assaults in the Worcester area over the last month. Unfortunate but not all that surprising. What is surprising is that Worcester police have run to the media in a panic screaming OH GOD IT’S THE URBAN YOUTH AND THEIR KNOCKOUT GAME:

In the past month, police have investigated attacks on the 700 block of Main Street, in the area of 87 Millbury St. and on Chatham near Main Street, all of which involved a male victim walking alone and being approached by another male whom the victims had never met, according to a police report.

Because the assaults are similar to others involving people participating in a violent activity called the “knockout game,” police said that the suspects in the three Worcester attacks might be partaking in the game. The game’s name refers to a “blitz style attack on a random unsuspecting stranger with the goal of knocking the person out with a single punch.”

The knockout game was widely-reported in late 2013, as similar attacks occurred in cities throughout the country.

Oh, it was widely-reported? Well then it MUST be rampaging nationwide, like the chupacabra!

What’s amazing about this story is the sheer volume of coverage it’s gotten based on so little evidence.

Recuse don't Excuse

Events seem to be shaking Geo-political forces around the world including the conflict escalation in eastern Ukraine with anti-Semitic leafleting; paralleled by domestic hate crimes being committed at the Kansas City Jewish Community Center during Passover and Holy Week.  High holidays in the Jewish and Christian religious calendars.

Locally, Mayor Marty Walsh shook it up by throwing down the gauntlet to the Mass Gaming Commission chairperson Steve Crosby for his conflicts of interest and bias in the region A casino process.  The new minted mayor of Boston has called on Crosby to recuse himself from the region A casino licensing process.  Please read this compilation of Crosby gems – he’s the classy guy with the dice cuff links.

Dice cuff link photo

Crosby is also being sued by Caesers for previously articulated bias and conflicts with owners of the Everett property.

Concerns about the credibility of the MGC have arisen on many fronts with the following list of reasons to have an independent watch-dog formed immediately to monitor the well-paid, lucrative expense benefited commissioners:

1. Lavish expenditures on junkets, personal parking, luncheons, consultants, etc….
2. Watering-down the rules and regulations to appease gambling corps – adjusting timelines multiple times
3. Denial of host and surrounding community status to multiple towns and cities (See Mayor Marty’s call to have Crosby recused.)
4. Arrogance, hubris and ignorance of the scope of impacts and rushing local referendum in Plainville when the corrupt racetrack owner Piontowski (buddy and benefactor of Scott P. Brown – formerly know as  Cosmo) was outed and Penn National swooped in overnight after Tewksbury kicked them out
5. Serving as enablers for the predatory gambling industry
6. Conflicts of interest
7. Closed door meetings with proponents
8. Lobbying legislature for casino fixes – easing the restrictions in the law
9. Not establishing independent advisory councils with local stakeholders per the statute
10. Ignoring and denying requests from local officials for information

The MGC is a public – govt. entity that is responsible for enabling the casino law.  Their actions have as a whole have lost the public trust.

In today’s news we also heard Commissioner Zuniga make insensitive, ignorant, offensive and clueless remarks about the Springfield MGM request for yet another special adjustment to the law in granting them a “provisional” license so that they don’t have to begin laying out money for construction which currently includes demolition of some existing properties. MGM is afraid that the repeal question will get to the ballot and opponents will win.  Enrique Zuniga – the highly paid commissioner appointed by Treasurer (and candidate for Governor) Steve Grossman was interviewed on WAMC 90.3FM (public radio) and said this:

Commissioner Enrique Zuniga said it would be “devastating” for Springfield if buildings were demolished to make way for a casino and no casino is built. ” Forget about one tornado or one gas explosion, it would probably look like five tornadoes.” MGM is proposing to build the casino in a three-block area of the city’s downtown that was damaged by the tornado in 2011. Full story at : http://wamc.org/post/anti-casino-activist-says-mgms-license-delay-request-evidence-eroding-public-support

A 39 mile swath of land including cities and towns from Hampden County to Worcester County were ripped apart with the June 2011 tornadoes.  Hundreds of people lost their homes and were displaced.  Some still do not have their homes, businesses and property restored even today – almost three years later.  Four people died.

These are not simple “oops, I misspoke” incidents.  These situations and statements are evidence of wrong-headed thinkers who do not possess the skills to do the job.  BTW, Zuniga defended the lavish MGC spending spree.

No excuse.  None.

Joe Avellone raises $788. Really. What's next? A demand for 15% of contributions?

David S. Bernstein brings us this little nugget of campaign finance news on Twitter:

<satire> <— NOTE: For those who can’t tell the difference, the satire begins here. The news of the $788 is genuine. Just click on the link to David S. Bernstein’s tweet.

A furious Joe Avellone has responded with an angry email to delegates to the state convention.

When I entered the governor’s race in January 2013 I had one thing on my mind, how best to serve the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As a lifelong Democrat I have always wanted to run for office. I started by volunteering for Senator Kennedy in New Hampshire in 1980. I worked on Paul Tsongas’s presidential campaign in 1992, and on John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. I believe that my skillset is perfectly suited for the challenges that Massachusetts faces today. My experiences in the private sector, combined with my service as a town selectman and officer in the Naval Reserves, will allow me to get the results Massachusetts needs.

I started this race by talking to voters all across this Commonwealth. I visited over 140 towns last year talking to middle class families about the problems that they are facing. I focused on gateway cities and towns that haven’t seen the economic recovery that much of Greater Boston has. But then the State Party and the other four candidates hasn’t shared their vast resources with my campaign, and I had to change course. I went from talking to voters all across the Commonwealth to soliciting funds from activist Democrats who have already refused to support my candidacy.

This week, I sent out a letter to all elected delegates alerting them to the lack of equity in campaign funding. I told them upfront that my lack of funds would limit participation in our democratic process and it would go against our ideals of fairness and equality. I’m not looking for pity. I’m looking for a fair shot. When I entered this race I knew that I faced an uphill battle, but when people didn’t contribute to my campaign, the hill only got bigger. As Democrats we always talk about giving every individual an equal opportunity at success. My lack of contributions is diametrically opposed to that very idea. Private donations favor party insiders and candidates with wide name recognition.

Elections best serve the people when multiple viewpoints are put forward. I firmly believe that all of the five Democratic candidates could serve this Commonwealth well if elected as the next Governor of Massachusetts. I believe that the wide range of backgrounds of all five of the candidates adds to this campaign and makes each candidate better. It’s clear that all candidates for Governor have brought new ideas to this campaign that will make our party better. That’s why I am asking the other candidates to give me 15% of their campaign contributions.

As Democrats, let’s have an open primary that allows all Democrats to have a say in choosing our nominee.

</satire>

House leadership rejects politically correct view on sheltered workshops

(Cross-posted from The COFAR Blog)

In a welcome counter to some political-correctness-run-amuck in the Patrick administration, the leadership of the state House of Representatives is reportedly solidly behind efforts to preserve vital sheltered workshops in Massachusetts for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

As we reported last week, Rep. Brian Dempsey, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, placed language in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget that would block the Patrick administration’s plans to close all remaining workshops in the state by June 2015.

As a result, the Department of Developmental Services prevailed on a House member to file a budget amendment (No. 282), which would remove Dempsey’s protective language from the bill.  Corporate providers to DDS, meanwhile, began blaming COFAR for having thrown a monkey wrench into their plan to transfer participants from the workshops to their own provider-run daycare programs.

But we understand that the plans in the House are to quietly quash Amendment 282 during the budget debate, which starts on April 28. The scene will next shift to the Senate, where we hope the Senate Ways and Means Committee will place similar protective language for the workshops in its version of the budget.

Workshop proponents have spent the past week calling members of the House to urge their support for Dempsey’s line item language, which states that  DDS “shall not reduce the availability or decrease funding for sheltered workshops serving persons with disabilities who voluntarily seek or wish to retain such employment services.”

As we’ve noted, DDS and the providers maintain that the sheltered workshops “segregate” developmentally disabled people by placing them together in group settings.  This allegedly prevents them from reaching their full potential because they are not being placed alongside non-disabled peers in mainstream work sites.   Citing that reasoning, the administration blocked all new referrals to the workshops as of this past January, and announced plans to close all remaining workshops in the state as of June of 2015.

While the administration’s reach-their-potential argument may sound reasonable in theory, it has no relationship to the experience of real people such as Kim Ryan and Gail Wayne, both of whom have been participants in a sheltered workshop in Newburyport for the past 20 years.  Kim’s parents, William and Janet, said that Kim has tried seven different times to work in mainstream, community-based  jobs, but has experienced either “social or emotional failures with each of these attempts.”

Martha Smith, Gail Wayne’s mother, said Gail has also worked in many community-based jobs, such as sorting mail in the Newburyport City Hall and working in the municipal library; but each of those jobs disappeared over the years for different reasons.  Gail currently does volunteer work in a gift shop in Topsfield, but it is in the sheltered workshop that she has been able to work on a permanent basis and to earn a paycheck.  ”Her first love is the workshop,” Martha Smith said.  ”She feels completely secure there and wants to be there. She wants it to continue.”

Martha’s husband, Reid Smith, maintains that there are few full-time jobs available in the mainstream workforce for developmentally disabled persons such as Gail and Kim.  Reid Smith adds that the term “sheltered” may be a misnomer.  ”It’s a workplace with a little more supervision,” he says.  ”I always urge people who happen to oppose them t go and see them.”

As part of its argument for closing the workshops, the administration has cited federal lawsuits in Oregon and Rhode Island, which are based on the segregated workplace argument.  However, as we’ve noted, those settlements did not require the closures of all sheltered workshops as the Patrick administration is planning in Massachusetts.

It’s still worth contacting your state representative and Rep. Dempsey’s office to voice your support for these workshops, and to thank Rep. Dempsey for his support.  The House Ways and Means Committee number is (617) 722-2990, and Rep. Dempsey can be contacted at Brian.Dempsey@mahouse.gov.  You can find your own legislators at: http://www.wheredoivotema.com.

Recycling Saves Money. Recycling More Saves More Money.

fairhaven recyclingHere in Fairhaven, the town has to pay a company to collect trash and recycling. But while the town then has to pay $50 a ton to get rid of the trash, the company takes care of the recycling for free.

So what’s the problem? Only 14% of the town recycles and many households still use those iconic, tiny blue bins. As Ariel Wittenberg reports in the Standard-Times, now Fairhaven is looking to invest in bigger recycling bins to encourage bigger savings:

Department of Public Works Superintendent Vincent Furtado said that his office recently came to an agreement with ABC Disposal to start using larger trash and recycling carts, much like those now being used in New Bedford.

Our conversations with Warren Tolman and Maura Healey

The two leading candidates for Attorney General, Warren Tolman and Maura Healey, have been kind enough to sit down with Bob and me to talk about their visions for the office.  By popular demand (and with the permission of both campaigns), we’re posting the full audio of our conversations so that you can hear what they had to say about their priorities and several important issues of the day. We hope to have a chance to write up highlights of the conversations separately, but for now, here is all of what they had to say in our conversations.

Obviously, the interviews were conducted in rather noisy eating establishments, so we apologize for the background noise. FYI, the casino discussions start at about 40:00 for Tolman, and at about 35:00 for Healey.

Tolman:

Healey:

Full disclosure: I am volunteering for the legal team seeking to overturn the Attorney General’s ruling and get the anti-casino question on the ballot.

Looks Like Terry Murray and Bob DeLeo Not Getting Along - Why Not CPAs and Techies Hired as State Troopers? - Charley Baker Will Do What Steve Grossman Won't - Steve Crosby Can't Hide From Conflicts - Hey Deval, What Would Pope Francis Do?

That’s what I hear. Ice cold relationship. Senate flexing muscle and House getting perturbed. Usual crap. House always wins. But expect some effed-up budget negotiations.

Hey, rather than hire muscle head combat vets as state troopers why not hire accountants, techies, and lawyers and go after white collar criminals steeling tens of millions? Just a thought.

—-

Now that Steve Grossman has decided not to run against Martha Coakley I expect Charley Baker to hit her hard on being a fraud.

How about Mayor Walsh calling for Steve Crosby to step aside from eastern region casino decisions because there is the appearance that he is in the pocket of Steve Wynn? Nice.

Watching former Appeals Court Judge and current Gaming Commissioner Jim McHugh defend his master’s blatant conflicts makes me wonder about the soundness of the thousand plus decisions he penned.

—-

Judge Mulligan and hopefully Paul Ware will be testifying twice now that Judge Young has split the probation indictments into two trials. A second round of torture for them only worse. Cross-examiners will have first trial transcripts to impeach them with. Can’t wait.

Hey Deval, still no signs of pardons from you on your way out the door. You better be working with five members of governor’s council and do the right thing as you exit.

Remember Governor, only one thing you have to ask yourself:

What would Pope Francis do?

Justice Ralph Gants to be the next Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Justice Gants combines scholarship and compassion.  I appeared before him when he was a Justice of the Superior Court to keep a woman in her home during a care and protection matter – and I can attest personally to his compassion as well as his scholarship; he agreed that a transitional living apartment was subject to the rule in Serreze – that as long as part of my client’s welfare grant went to rent, she was a tenant with tenancy protections.  (See http://masscases.com/cases/app/30/30massappct639.html ).

I have also heard him teach in a panel context, watched and listened to videos of oral arguments, and read his decisions on occasion.  In selecting Judge Gants, Governor Patrick has deepened, strengthened, and enriched the Judicial Branch.

Well done!

A look at MA Governor polls adjusted for name recognition

I have spent a lot of time complaining about how the media interprets early polling in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race as horserace numbers, even though only one candidate has greater than 50% name recognition. But how are the candidates doing among the people that do know their names?

I computed the recognition-adjusted polling average for the Democratic candidates for Governor and wrote about it on the Mass. Numbers blog:

http://massnumbers.blogspot.com/2014/04/adjusting-ma-governor-polls-for-name.html

The upshot is that Martha Coakley still has a commanding lead, with Steve Grossman, Juliette Kayyem, and Don Berwick in a group behind, and Joe Avellone trailing.

That being said, we are getting to a point where low name recognition needs to go from being an excuse, to something that needs to be overcome fairly quickly, possibly through a strong showing at the convention.

Read more…

Video from our Governor Candidates Forum at the 2nd Policy Conference (April 2014)

We thought our April 6 Conference in Worcester was a great day, due in large measure to the focus and commitment of progressive activists from across the state (many of whom are BMG regulars. Hi!).

Summaries of the day have been written up on Blue Mass Group by DrBoerl, and there are member-authored summaries on our blog, too. Check ‘em out, and if you were there, please leave some feedback on our post-conference survey!

In addition to panels with policy experts, the last part of the day turned to electoral politics. To a still impressively crowded room, candidates Steve Grossman, Juliette Kayyem, Martha Coakley and Don Berwick joined us, one by one, and responded at length and in depth to tough, focused questions –and persistent follow-up ones– by our moderator, Jordan Berg Powers. Jordan’s inquiries were derived from candidates’ responses to our Endorsement Questionnaires, which go deep on structural and policy roots of economic inequality (as outlined in our Shared Prosperity agenda).

We have heard over and over again from members that the Forum was invaluable. Indeed, even at the very last minutes of a long day, the room was still packed and the audience’s attention still rapt and focused.

Let's End Childhood Poverty in MA!

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate Don Berwick recently announced that if he is elected as our next Governor, he will work to end childhood poverty in our state within the next ten years.

I know what you’re thinking. “That’s ridiculous. Poverty has always been around and always will be around.” The truth is, with a finite number of impoverished people in the world and adequate resources to help them, as a society, we could end poverty in the world if we choose to do so. For example, Concern Worldwide estimates that it would cost $30 billion to end world hunger. While that may seem like a lot of money, the $40 billion Americans spend annually on weight loss products alone would be more than enough to solve this seemingly insurmountable problem.

So there is no good reason why we can’t win the war on poverty and the best place to start is with children living in our own state. One in seven children in Massachusetts currently lives below the poverty line. That’s up from one in ten children in the year 2008. Of the 20,000 homeless individuals living in our state, a staggering 7,000 of them are children. Picture 6,448 of those children filling every seat in the bleachers at Fenway Park.

How is it that there are 7,000 homeless children in our state and no one is talking about it? One reason is that most of us who can afford to pay hundreds of dollars for Red Sox tickets or the latest Apple product also hang up the phone the moment we hear it is a charity asking for a small donation. In our modern, plugged-in world, it is perhaps easier than ever before to distract ourselves from thinking about our neighbors who lack the most basic of human needs: nutritious food, clean water, and a place to call home.

Let’s resist the easy path of a passive life and take the road less traveled by- deciding that there is something seriously wrong with thousands of children going to bed hungry every night in Massachusetts and working to end this problem. Let’s start by electing government leaders that are willing to put forth bold goals to reduce needless suffering. Join me in supporting Don Berwick’s campaign at www.berwickforgovernor.com

Note: For more on how technology actually makes us less connected in many ways, I highly recommend this excellent NYT column by novelist Jonathan Safran Foer. The column was adapted from his 2013 Middlebury College commencement address

Harvard Confirms What I Got I Suspended From BMG For Saying (sort of): Keystone Cops in Watertown Shootouts Could Have Killed Someone

Hey, you guys remember when I got suspended from BMG last year for knocking law enforcement for the crazy shoot-out/military search/avoid the nearby boat scenario? I compared their constant self-congratulatory ad-hominem speeches to mutual oral sex.

Whatever.

Jokes on BMG because once again you lucky readers were exposed to my pioneering abilities in deep thinking and forethought.

Yes siree. Today’s Globe has an op-ed focusing on a recent JFK School report on local law enforcement’s actions during the Marathon bombing and subsequent search.

Wannabe Rambos all over the place. (How many pumped up with steroids? Take a guess)

One officer riddled a vehicle with bullets, narrowing missing two officers inside; another shot grazed a transit police officer — the second and third gunfire mistakes. Officers with guns drawn surrounded a man walking in the area. Other officers, also with guns in hand, encircled the vehicle of another passerby.

That doesn’t include Officer’s Donahue friendly fire near lethal injury.

Oh, you wanna talk discipline? Let’s talk discipline.

Once he was found hiding in a boat, a commander at the scene called for a small tactical team. Instead, officers involved in the search flocked to the scene. When Tsarnaev poked up the boat covering, the police sprayed hundreds of bullets in his direction. This was the fourth major mistake involving gunfire.

As the report concludes, “it appears that in the heat of the moment of responding, the desire to be more involved in an important event may have affected the behavior of some officers.” (emphasis mine) In other words, most surrounding that boat had no business being there.

The Honeymoon is over. Time for answers and changes.

Remember folks, the people with the badges work for us.

BTW, take a look at this google map showing the scene of the original shoot-out and the path to the backyard boat. The boat can be seen in the satellite picture. Unbelievable. From a helicopter it stands out big time. Was it checked? Of course not.

Stand with Steve Grossman as he takes on the NRA

Hello fellow BMGers-

I’m writing to ask you to stand with Steve this Thursday, April 17 at 1 p.m. in a press conference on the State House steps as he debates Jim Wallace, Executive Director of the Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) — the official Massachusetts state affiliate of the NRA.

Steve has proposed an aggressive plan to fight gun violence here in the Commonwealth.  In a Blue Mass Group last week, Steve applauded Speaker DeLeo for taking the lead on gun control legislation soon to be proposed in the House. But he also urged lawmakers and the Attorney General to add three additional reforms: limit gun purchases to one a month, require gun manufacturers to use smart gun technology, and create an interstate regional task force to deal with the torrent of illegal guns crossing our borders.

I’m asking you to stand with Steve on Thursday at 1 p.m. on State House steps to show the NRA that the families of the Commonwealth want common-sense gun safety reform!

In full disclosure I work for the Steve Grossman Campaign.

Saturn birth news: Its a bouncing baby moon


Image credit: Nasa/JPL
According to The Independant, new images from Nasa’s Cassini-Huygens space probe suggest that Saturn may be in the process of forming a new moon (or moonlet), which has already been affectionately named by scientists as ‘Peggy’. Saturn already has 62 known moons, which would make this the 63rd moon for Saturn and the first one which humans have been able to watch come into existance. The bright smear at the bottom edge of the ring is estimated to be about 750 miles long and shows where Peggy’s gravity is thought to be effecting ring particles.

Time to kill 15% Rule before it kills the Dem Party...

A recent BMG posting by gubernatorial contender Joe Avellone should have raised serious questions for all Democratic party insiders. He pointed out how the convention 15% rule in its current form (15% on 1st ballot or out) was detrimental to the Party and certainly not small “d” democratic.

As a former State Committee member who can remember back when the original 15% rule was adopted, I would have to agree with Avellone’s contention. If the “15%-on-1st” were operating back then, John Kerry would have been shown the door in the Lt. Gov. race, he never would have been Lt. Gov. or had the platform to jump to US Senator.

I get that the 15% rule was adopted to cut down on fringe candidates…if someone could not achieve 15% of delegates within two ballots, they were dropped off…but, to raise the bar to just one ballot when the field is crowded with good, qualified candidates seems overly restrictive and makes the party look anything but inclusive. We are not a party for the favored few, but it increasingly gives that public impression.

Also, the convention requirement forces candidates to spend enormous amounts of money courting delegates and paying for convention expenses, paraphenalia and nonsense. This money could be far better spent courting regular Dems and Unenrolled voters across the state. There was a time when the media actually covered the state conventions in a big way…there were tv booths and crowded press sections…that made the expense somewhat defendable with “free” media results. That is not so today…it’s a one story barely and forgotten.

Herding Cats: Progressive Massachusetts Holds Second Annual Conference to Standing Room Audience

A few years back, some progressive Democrats were sitting around talking about important issues facing both Massachusetts and the United States more broadly.  Tired of mere talk, this group of committed social activists decided to do something about it, and thus Progressive Massachusetts was born.

For those of you unfamiliar with Progressive Massachusetts, they are hands down, one of the finest examples of what grassroots mobilization can achieve.  In just a few short years, they have emerged as the progressive voice here in Massachusetts and are well worth emulation in other states.

In the last year alone, Progressive Massachusetts has:

Collected more than 17,000 signatures for ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage and provide earned sick time for all workers.

Successfully stopped regressive welfare reform from passing on Beacon Hill.

Lobbied for the most progressive election laws in the country (this legislation is expected to soon pass).
Provided key endorsement of progressive candidates in contested Democratic primaries.

But Progressive Massachusetts isn’t looking backwards, nor is it resting on its laurels.  Moving forward, Progressive Massachusetts:

“Believes that Massachusetts should lead the nation in protecting working families and expanding the middle class, while reducing poverty and inequality.  We have the economic engine, creative and intellectual capital, environment, historic models, energy and inspiration to reinvest in, re-create and grow a true Common Wealth.”

FIVE YEAR AGENDA

Quality, Free, Publicly-Funded Education:
Within Five Years:  Free, publicly funded education available for all residents, from pre-K through community, vocational or four-year college.
A First Step:  Universally, publicly funded pre-K available for all residents.

Quality, Affordable Health Care:
Within Five Years:  A Single Payer system, similar to Medicare for All.
A First Step: A Public Option which enables any resident to pay into an enhanced MassHealth system.

Affordable, Decent House, In Safe, Vibrant Neighborhoods:
Within Five Years:  Universal access to housing that costs no more than ⅓ of your household income.
A First Step:  Increased funding for rental assistance programs.
Jobs That Pay a Living Wage:
Within Five Years:  Every job pays a living wage, of at least $15/hour, and everyone has access to safe and reliable public transportation.
A First Step:  Enact Raise Up MA – Increased minimum wage indexed to inflation and earned sick time.

An Equitable Tax System:
Within Five Years:  Constitutional amendment to implement a graduated income tax.
A First Step:  Enact legislation that raises $1 billion in new revenue from the wealthiest residents and closes corporate tax loopholes.

Who We Have Heard From Already…And Who Is Yet To Come :)

Already, Progressive Democrat, Congressman Jim McGovern as addressed the conference, and later, delegates will hear from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, as well as several of the leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

 

**This post originally appeared on the DailyKos and was subsequently featured on Election Diary Rescue.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/04/06/1290046/-Herding-Cats-Progressive-Massachusetts-Holds-Second-Annual-Conference-to-Standing-Room-Audience?detail=hide

New Boston.com: Nooooooooooo

There seems to have been a redesign on boston.com. It looks awful, like pinterest crossed with gawker, yet so much white space. It doesn’t even look like a newspaper and there’s not much news actually on there. It’s also ofter not clear just what it is you’re getting when (article, multi-media, vid) you click on something. Boston.com has problems, but it’s useful now. This does not look useful. I really hope this is just a test or a glitch or something.

Boston,_MA_news,_breaking_news,_sports,_video_Boston.com_-_2014-04-15_02.55.55

Update- seems to be back to normal. Please let this not be a preview of changes to come. I uploaded a screen shot of what it looked like, but can’t get it to display.

Update2- Dang, it’s back. I should have taken a screen shot last night of the last moments of boston.com that was useful.

Why I'm for Repealing the Casino Law

The significant law enforcement, consumer protection, and public safety impacts of expanded casino gaming in Massachusetts make this a central issue for our next Attorney General, the chief law enforcement officer of our commonwealth.

Therefore, I believe you have a right to know exactly where I, and all the candidates for Attorney General, stand on casinos.

I’m opposed to expanded casino gaming and I support the current effort to repeal of the gaming law. I do not believe a modern economy that is focused on creating opportunities for every person can be built on gambling.

The few communities that have voted in favor of casinos are going through tough economic times and many see casinos as a much-needed boost. But evidence from across the country tells a different story. Casinos don’t lay a foundation for diverse economies, they take over. Local restaurants and entertainment venues lose patrons, other industries steer clear, personal bankruptcies and home foreclosures jump, and the costs for police and related services soar

I’ve asked people what local businesses they visited during trips to Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods and the answer I get back for the most part is, “the gas station.”

Some casino supporters act as if we’ve learned nothing in the years since passage of the gaming bill but the last three years have, in fact, taught us a lot. We’ve seen several cities and towns resoundingly vote down casinos after the industry operators had a chance to make their best pitch.

All of which begs the question: Are casinos really a good idea if they’re only good enough for certain cities? I live in Charlestown and I’m opposed to a casino there. The voters of East Boston agreed and voted No on casinos in Boston. Plenty of state leaders have said the same in their hometowns. I know we can do better for everyone.

There are stronger ways to grow our economy. Infrastructure redevelopment creates construction jobs and yields long-term benefits for residents and businesses. Investments in education and job training allow our state to compete for higher-paying and higher-skilled jobs over the long term. A more progressive tax structure, raising the minimum wage, fighting for pay equity, and unionizing our workforce will all do more to support working and middle class families than casino gambling will do.

Recent studies show that casinos may even widen the income gap because gambling proceeds are regressive taxes. They disproportionately affect poorer people who have little discretionary money to lose in the first place. No one wants the government to serve as big brother and tell people how to spend their money but casinos thrive on addictive behavior – just like tobacco companies – and are designed so that people lose. Given all of the evidence about the ills of gambling, I don’t believe in waiting for problems to develop. We need proactive leadership at all levels.

If casinos are built, then the decision about who will be our next Attorney General becomes even more important. It will be the duty of the Attorney General to help protect the public from the accompanying risks, including loan sharking, predatory debt collection, drug and gambling addiction and organized crime. I know some of these challenges well from my years running the Public Protection Bureau in the Attorney General’s Office. As your next AG, I will ensure that our newly-formed Gaming Division recruits the state’s best lawyers to combat these challenges. And I believe that gaming industry should pay for the division.

I will also create a team of investigators stationed full time at the casinos to watch out for abuses just like the teams that Senator Elizabeth Warren successfully fought to put into the banks to watch out for abusive and deceptive practices.

Recently, the Attorney General declared that the current repeal petition was not valid to go to before the voters. The opinion stated that it is improper to shut down the licensing process now that several casino operators have applied. But voters made a decision to shut down the greyhound tracks with a ballot question and that was an industry that had been running for years. I am not concerned about the well-being of casino operators, I am concerned about the well-being of the residents of Massachusetts.

The final decision is up to the courts, but I believe on a matter of this magnitude, the voters should have a chance to be heard.

I also know that the worst reason to support casinos that haven’t been built is because we think we’re already stuck with them. If we have to refund the application fees, so be it.

I support repealing the gaming law and moving Massachusetts forward with smart, sustainable economic policies that help everyone.