John Podesta's email is not anti-Catholic, is not a scandal, and surrenders no "moral high ground"

This is response to a comment on the other thread, in which it was posited that Trump would pay no political price for his somewhat “over the line” speech at the Al Smith dinner. (“Here she is, pretending not to hate Catholics.”) A speech that sort of missed the point of why Democrats, Republicans, and Catholics alike all remember and honor Al Smith, and which contrasted sharply with her speech, which after a round of corny awkward jokes, starkly illustrated why the GOP of 2016 is so thoroughly opposed to what the Al Smith dinner is supposed to represent. (Seriously, go listen to her speech. If you want to skip the bad jokes, skip to 15:00, at which point she makes a stirring case for how America SHOULD be, and that is a thorough takedown of Trumpism. She doesn’t do stirring speeches, or make any case for she would be President? Bull.)

It was posited that Trump would pay no price because Clinton had “surrendered the moral high ground” by the supposedly anti-Catholic attitudes revealed in the Wikileaks emails. Bunk.

For the most part, those offended are the same ones “offended” by the dire imposition on their religious liberty to make sure other people don’t use birth control.

I believe that the organisation to which porcupine refers is Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, an organization formed in 2005 and which opposes the Church’s exclusive emphasis on sexual politics at the expense of the wider aspects of Catholic teaching on social morality. As such, it turns out that the group found itself NOT supporting GOP policies over the last 11 years. Hence the pearl clutching, and the denunciations from the John Paul II-political Catholics.

This is purely an instance of IOKIYAR. When the execrable Cardinal Dolan, or Paul Ryan or Rick Santorum or other Opus Dei types pretend that “Thomism” and “subsidiarity” give theological support for the psuedo-intellectual social Darwinism of Ayn Rand (which, you might be surprised to learn, is a lie), they are exemplary fighters for their religious values. When their opponents engage in political activity in opposition to them, those opponents must be denounced as perfidious.

The Podesta email was sent in the context of the 2012 mini-crisis over birth control and Obamacare. Recall that Cardinal Dolan, who is an evil man, was quite gung-ho to support keeping people without health insurance in order to protect his religious liberty to control what other people do. In true John Paul II fashion, Dolan pretended to be the monolithic voice of Catholicism and thus thundered away, as he is wont to do.

In response to someone inquiring why there isn’t simply a revolution by Catholics to overthrow the Church prelates, Podesta wrote something like “this is why we formed CAPG.” In other words, Catholic opponents of Dolan’s absolutism would seek reform of the Church’s approach to such pastoral matters from within, rather than trying to overthrow the hierarchy in its entirety. We had similar discussions here; many (non-Catholic) liberals were then quite impatient and disappointed in the liberal Catholic’s “reform from within” approach. Sandy Newman described the Church’s “middle ages dictatorship,” which was a phrase used here on BMG by those similarly frustrated. Podesta was defending liberal Catholics’ unwillingness to “revolt.”

His use of the first person plural now allows Republicans like porcupine to use the “astroturf” talking point that she read on redstate. It ignores that Podesta is actually Catholic, and likely is involved in the organization, because it supports his view of Catholic social teaching. I would hope he is: that’s why I support him and his boss.

The other thing that is producing faux pearl clutching is that Sandy Newman stated a wish for a “Catholic Spring” in response to Dolan, who is an evil man. This, of course, is a wish that was then, is now, and has long been shared by the overwhelming majority of American Catholics, even if they are not willing to secede from the Church. The irony is that, just a year later, something that could be just that began with the election of Pope Francis.

Just look what all those people who, in 2012, were horrified that a Catholic might disagree publicly at all with a Price of the Church, now say about the Pope himself, once it became clear that he would not provide moral justification for social Darwinism.

This email scandal is a non-issue, except to those whom are trying to rationalize their support of a forthrightly depraved candidate. Pretending that Clinton somehow “lost the high ground” is simply a continuation of their absurd campaign tactics this season:

Technical Question for Editors

I have a comment in reply to jimc’s “skeptical” comment on the “November 9″ thread, into which I put some effort.  It now shows “Comment Awaiting Moderation” and is evidently not public.

I have seen this once or twice before, quite awhile ago, but see no response to my question then, and so I ask again:

How to resolve this?

Yes on 4 Gets Biggest Endorsement Yet

Sen. Rosenberg (Flickr/Jones Library)

Stan Rosenberg has become the highest-ranking current elected official in Massachusetts to endorse Yes on 4, the ballot question to legalize marijuana:

Senate President Stan Rosenberg says he’s planning to vote for a ballot question that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Massachusetts.

The Amherst Democrat said during an interview Thursday on WGBH-FM that he will vote for Question 4 and then try to make improvements to the measure. [...]

A poll released Wednesday by WBUR-FM found 55 percent of voters back the ballot question, while 40 percent oppose it.

Other endorsers include former Gov. Bill Weld and Boston City Council President Michelle Wu. Also, Rick Steves!

It’s unfortunate that some Democrats, like House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, continue to oppose legalization in the face of majority public support. It’s one thing to take a moral stand against popular opinion, but opposing marijuana legalization is both wrong AND unpopular.

Marijuana is less of a health risk than alcohol and tobacco, both of which are legally available to adults. As the Globe has reported, research shows that in the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally sold in cafes, young marijuana smokers are slightly LESS likely to take up harder drugs than their counterparts in the United States and other countries.

Despite “decriminalization” in Massachusetts, statewide arrest rates for marijuana possession were 3.3 times higher for blacks than for whites in 2014, even though research shows blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates, as the Globe reported.

On the ballot questions, I’m on board with Progressive Massachusetts: No No Yes Yes.

Russia and Syria

Let’s set something straight. The Baathist regimes in Syria – Assad and father Hafez al Assad before him – have been aligned with Russia and the Soviet Union since THE SIXTIES. Donald Trump wouldn’t know this. They have had access to a port on the Mediterranean for a half a century. No action nor inaction on Obama’s part caused this. Nor Kerry’s part. Nor Hillary’s part.

Debate open thread

Have at it.

November Ninth

This presidential election is not a contest between Clinton and Trump (and, to a lessor extent, Johnson and Stein).  Rather, it is a referendum on Trump.

And assuming that Trump is going to lose, the voters will be electing whomever is running against him.  Turns out, that’s Hillary Clinton (remember her?).

Although Clinton’s election Trump’s defeat will be a monumental smackdown with a mandate against all his horrors, HRC will not have a mandate.

Let’s assume my prediction of a 48.3%–45.2% popular vote spread is correct, which many of my friends think is waaaaay too high for the Donald.  This plurality harkens back to her husband’s 43% win back in 24 years ago (count ‘em!), but that was with a serious third party contender.  Still, I expect about 20% of her supporters aren’t voting FOR HER they’re voting AGAINST HIM.  It’s not unusual to have some voters only voting against the “lesser of two evils.”  But I can’t imagine it’s ever been this significant.

Add to that her unpopularity; her not being a good campaigner (cf. Coakley, Martha); and all the faux scandals drummed up by Faux News.  And it’s clear to me that few voters in America will be supporting her.

So my point (see! I’m getting around to it!) is more of a two-part question:

  1. How much of a mandate will she have to govern?
  2. Is she a sitting duck in 2020?

Here’s the counter points to my worries:

  • She’s much more popular when she’s actually in government (Senator, SoS) than in campaigns (’92, ’08, ’16).  So maybe my worries will be over when the dust settles on November 9th.
  • W had no mandate in ’00 and he ran with it like he was king of the world.  A mandate is whatever you say it is.  Winning is enough, even if it’s a squeaker, and she’s got four years to do a good job.

Obama sort of had a mandate in ’08, but that was due to McCain’s terrible campaign, Bush’s unpopularity, the financial meltdown, and inevitable pendulum swing between parties.  But the GOP got to work obfuscating him at every turn for eight fun-filled years.

So I worry that we’ll have a wounded president even before she starts and will be hard to re-elect in four years.

Am I wrong? I welcome your comments.


Some Follow-Ups: Baker's Welfare Policy, Mass Fiscal's Disclosure Policy, Mandatory Minimum Sentences in the SJC

(A few developments on three posts from earlier this year.)

Back in June, Governor Baker sought unsuccessfully to reduce state welfare payments to families in which a disabled family member was receiving federal disability payments. Under Baker’s plan, as the Herald reported, the state would no longer pay $400 per month to a grandmother who’s caring full time for her 13-year-old granddaughter who cannot walk or talk because of the cerebral palsy that she has had since birth. The cutoff of state funds Baker proposed would have left the family of two to survive on the $750 per month in federal disability payments the granddaughter receives. The Legislature told the Governor no.

In August, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire struck down a welfare eligibility restriction in that state very similar to the rule Governor Baker wanted Massachusetts to adopt. The federal disability payments, the court ruled, were intended as specific assistance to persons with disabilities and were not intended to be available for the family’s general living expenses. One hopes that if the Legislature’s rejection of Baker’s proposal does not deter him from introducing it again, the New Hampshire Supreme Court decision will.


In August, after the Legislature passed a law requiring organizations that use direct mail for their electioneering to disclose the names of their five largest donors (just as organizations that use paid television, internet and print advertising must do), the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, purveyor of preposterous allegations about the voting records of its opponents, was left with a choice — either divulge the names of its five biggest donors, or curtail its electioneering.  They recently announced that they would keep their donors’ names secret, which means that their direct mail efforts this election season will not be indulging in their usual farcical claims but will merely encourage recipients to visit their website.  In an effort to portray this decision as a victory, Mass. Fiscal commented that it never wanted to become dull:  ”We are always looking at ways to improve our effectiveness in communicating with the voters.”


In April, the Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments in a District Attorney’s appeal of a case in which the trial judge declined to impose the statutory minimum mandatory prison sentence for drug distribution on a disabled black man who had been convicted of possessing an amount of drugs in the approximate quantity of a five-gram packet of sugar.

Last week, the court issued an opinion reversing the trial judge and ordering that the minimum mandatory sentence (3 1/2 years instead of the 2 1/2 years the trial judge ordered)  be imposed. But in that decision, the Court also sent a message to the Legislature that arguments about the unconstitutionality of mandatory minimums, such as the strong evidence of their racially discriminatory application during the twenty years that they have been on the books, might be appropriate for the court to consider in future cases.

A casino developer just spent seventy thousand Revere taxpayer dollars to shoot himself (and Question 1) in the foot

This won’t get much coverage in today’s news, but yesterday’s special election fiasco in Revere will have to go down as one of the most deliciously hubristic backfires in Massachusetts political history.

There’s a lot to explain here, but here’s what you might want to know:

Question 1 is a statewide ballot measure proposing to create one additional Category 2 (slots-only) casino license. So far, so bad. But it gets worse! The site for any license issued under this new provision must be within 1500 feet of an operable horse track with a history of racing, have four acres of buildable land, and can’t be divided by a railway or highway.

If those incredibly-specific requirements sound as if they might have been written by one developer intending to build a casino on one site for his own financial benefit… well, that’s because that’s exactly what Question 1 is. Thai developer Eugene McCain had his eye on a trailer park in Revere just a few blocks from Suffolk Downs, and he didn’t want to take the risk of spending millions to get this on the ballot just to have someone else (including Suffolk Downs itself) take “his” license.

(Footnote: I’m proud to have had an opportunity to bring this question to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for a review of its legality under our state Constitution. While the SJC found that the question was written *just* broadly enough that it could technically apply statewide, it was a chance to bring some sunshine to this flagrant abuse of the ballot question process.)

But it wasn’t enough for Mr. McCain to ask the voters of Massachusetts to hand him a casino license on November 8th. He wanted to be sure that he was the only developer with the only site in *Revere* that could ever be used if a casino were to be approved for the city.

Seriously, this just happened: McCain gathered enough signatures to force the city of Revere to spend *seventy thousand taxpayer dollars* to hold a special election today, October 18th, 2016, on a referendum question which would have guaranteed that if a slots license were ever authorized for Revere that the casino *could only be built on his land.*

Father and sister banned from all contact with developmentally disabled woman because they cried when they saw her

(Cross-posted from The COFAR Blogsite)

Can it really happen in America that the state can take an individual into its custody, and then not even let that person’s family know where she or he is, for months on end?

Yes, that is apparently the case if the individual is mentally ill or intellectually disabled.

In one of the more bizarre and severe instances of restrictions placed by the state on family contact, a court-appointed guardian has banned family members of an intellectually disabled woman from all contact with her because they allegedly became too emotional when they visited her. The 28-year old woman, Chelsea Barr, is dually diagnosed with intellectual disability and mental illness.

Chelsea’s father, David, and sister, Ashley, have not even been told for almost a year where she is living. Clinicians in at least one hospital said the family was to blame for signs of agitation and psychotic symptoms allegedly shown by the woman after the family visits.

The ban on family contact was imposed after Chelsea alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by the alleged boyfriend of her mother over a two-year period from 2012 to 2014. Chelsea’s mother, Nancy Barr, and her alleged boyfriend, John Leone, have both been arrested and are facing trial in Salem Superior Court in connection with the alleged assaults.

In addition to banning Leone and Nancy Bar from visiting Chelsea, a guardian with the Department of Developmental Services last Thanksgiving extended the prohibition to other family members and a family friend, who have not been implicated in the alleged crime.  The only family member who is currently allowed to visit Chelsea is a maternal aunt, who Ashley Barr said had little prior contact with Chelsea and maintains little contact with either Ashley or her father.

Chelsea (left), David, and Ashley Barr at Tewksbury State Hospital in October 2015. It was the last time that David and Ashley were permitted to visit Chelsea.
Chelsea (left), David, and Ashley Barr at Tewksbury State Hospital in October 2015. It was the last time that David and Ashley were permitted to visit Chelsea.

“As far as I’m concerned, Chelsea’s been kidnapped,” David Barr said in an interview.  Both David and Ashley said their lack of contact with Ashley and knowledge of her whereabouts have filled them with emotional distress. “We don’t even know where she is, and no one will tell us,” Ashley said. “It’s really, really hard to take.”

The Barr’s case is, unfortunately, not unique. We have reported on other cases (here and here) in which family contact with developmentally disabled family members has been severely restricted by the Department of Developmental Services. These restrictions also appear to happen in cases in other areas of the health care system, such as the highly publicized case of Justina Pelletier, who was held for nearly a year in a locked ward in Boston Children’s Hospital, and kept from all contact with her parents.

“This is unfortunately yet another case in which DDS and the probate court system has failed families of developmentally disabled persons,” said Colleen Lutkevich, COFAR executive director. “The family always seems to be made the focus of blame when problems occur.

“In this case,” Lutkevich added, “a young woman, who was victimized by sexual assault, is being further victimized by being isolated from members of her immediate family who could provide her with the love and support that she needs.”

David and Ashley have tried for months to get answers from the Department of Developmental Services and from the Department’s court-appointed guardian for Chelsea, and have gotten little information from them. They have gone to their local legislators and gotten little help, and have even gone to the media, but have been unable so far to get any news outlets to report their story.

Neither David Barr nor any other members of Chelsea’s family, other than her mother, are alleged to have known about the alleged sexual abuse while it was happening, and none have been charged or implicated in the crime. David Barr was divorced from Nancy Barr in 2003.

During the period of the alleged assaults, Chelsea had been under the care of her mother and had been living in her mother’s home. David Barr said that Nancy Barr has also been diagnosed with mental illness.

After Chelsea told a family friend about the alleged abuse in 2014, the friend reported the matter to police, and Chelsea was immediately removed from her mother’s care. She was apparently placed in a shared living arrangement in Haverhill, but that location was not disclosed at the time to any other members of the family.

In the months that followed, the family was only sporadically informed about Chelsea’s whereabouts.  Chelsea’s sister Ashley and her father said that virtually no information was provided to them for the first month after Chelsea’s removal. They were then allowed to visit her only a handful of times, either at a DDS area office or in Massachusetts hospitals to which Chelsea was admitted, reportedly after psychotic episodes.  Ashley Barr currently lives and works in Rhode Island.

Last Thanksgiving, the DDS guardian, Dorothy Wallace, a psychiatric social worker, terminated all family contact with Chelsea. Ashley said she and her father have not been permitted to visit or call Chelsea for nearly a year, and they don’t know where she is currently living.

Guardian testifies against the family

Wallace, the DDS guardian, has declined to speak with COFAR regarding the case. In statements she provided in probate court in August 2015, she said she ordered that the family’s contact with Chelsea be restricted at that time because Chelsea’s father and sister would become overly emotional during visits with her. Wallace said clinicians in various hospitals in which the visits took place complained that Chelsea would be agitated and upset after the visits and that her symptoms of bipolar disorder would then become aggravated.

Wallace also contended that on one occasion, Ashley was overheard telling Chelsea not to listen to medical personnel at a hospital.  Ashley disputes that, saying Chelsea had told her people were making fun of her, and that she told her not to listen to whoever was making fun of her. “Maybe someone misinterpreted me,” Ashley testified during an August 2015 probate court hearing. “I would never tell Chelsea not to listen to doctors.”

Wallace and Jill Casey, Chelsea’s DDS service coordinator, testified in the August 2015 probate hearing that their goal was to reunite Chelsea with her family once she was “clinically stabilized.” However, as of October 2016, more than a year later, the family has received no word from DDS as to when or if such a stabilization has occurred.  Ashley Barr said her calls and text messages to both Wallace and Casey have gone unanswered.

DDS Commissioner Elin Howe responded to an email from COFAR about the case on October 6, and would say only that the case was under review. However, as of today (October 19) neither David nor Ashley had been contacted by the Department as part of that review.

Ashley acknowledged she and her father did become emotional at times during visits with Chelsea because she appeared upset at being kept isolated from them and often appeared to be over-medicated.

“For several visits we did cry in front of Chelsea, I mean how could we not?” Ashley said. “She was alone, scared, by herself, and just went through a horrific thing for about two years. So yes, my father and I did cry, and I was an emotional mess for a very long time.  Watching my sister all drugged up, she could barely talk, and given the state she was in, it was very hard to keep it in. I walked out of the room most of the time so my sister wouldn’t see me.”

In one of the last instances in which they were allowed to visit Chelsea, Ashley said it appeared she had not been bathed.  Ashley personally gave her a shower at the hospital. Her hair was so dirty and matted, Ashley said, that she had to use an entire bottle of shampoo and conditioner to untangle it.

The enforced isolation of Chelsea appears to violate DDS regulations, which include the right to humane and adequate care and treatment, self-determination, least restrictive care, and integration of the person in the community. In addition, people in DDS care have a right to communicate, the right to have reasonable access to a telephone and to make and receive confidential calls, and the right to be visited and to visit others “under circumstances that are conducive to friendships and relationships…”

David Barr frustrated in gaining guardianship

Like many probate cases, this case has a complex history. David Barr has tried without success to gain guardianship of Chelsea following his divorce from her mother.  In early 2015, the Essex County Probate Court passed over David Barr and a long-time family friend, who had offered to be Chelsea’s guardian, and instead appointed Wallace, the DDS-paid psychiatric social worker, who had never met Chelsea, as her guardian.

David Barr said he would have supported the family friend as Chelsea’s guardian, but “we were totally ignored.”  Barr has since filed a new petition for guardianship in probate court.

In the probate court hearing in the case in August 2015, David was described by Chelsea Barr’s DDS service coordinator as a “bully” because he allegedly swore at her when he first met her and once left a threatening message on her voice mail that he was going to “get you people.”

The Barrs had no attorney at the probate hearing, and there was consequently no cross-examination of the service coordinator.  Ashley Barr says her father was threatening only to someday sue DDS over the restrictions placed on his contact with his daughter. “Not one time did my father ever mention coming after them violently,” Ashley stated in an email. “He’s trying to get his daughter back and not end up in jail.”

Ashley added that her father was not liked by some of the staff of Chelsea’s day care provider agency because he would become angry and reprimand the staff following several instances in which Chelsea walked out of the provider’s facility unattended.

Restrictions on visits and information blackout began after the abuse was reported 

Ashley Barr said that after the alleged abuse of her sister was discovered in October 2014 and Chelsea was removed from her mother’s care, “nobody would talk to us.”

Ashley said she was initially unable to get any information about Chelsea or her whereabouts from either the DDS service coordinator or her supervisor at DDS.  She said she even contacted the police and was unable to learn anything from them. “My dad and I have no criminal record,” Ashley said, “yet we were still treated like criminals.”

Then, in November 2014, Ashley was contacted by Jill Casey, the DDS service coordinator, who said she would be allowed to visit Chelsea at the DDS area office in Lawrence for about an hour. David was not invited to that visit.

Ashley said she was told during the visit not to ask Chelsea any questions about where she was living. She said Chelsea “looked scared,” and said several times that she wanted to see her father and to come home.

A family friend, who was allowed to visit Chelsea around this time, said Chelsea was living in a home in Haverhill owned by a woman who had two or three other developmentally disabled persons living there. The friend said she was instructed not to tell anyone in Chelsea’s family where Chelsea was.

The friend said she was allowed on one occasion to take Chelsea out of the Haverhill home for the afternoon. Chelsea was upset, she said, because she wanted to see her family. She also wanted to sleep over at the friend’s house, but that wasn’t permitted by the guardian.

It wasn’t until April 2015 that Ashley was next allowed a visit with Chelsea – this time in Arbor Fuller Hospital in Attleboro, where Chelsea was scheduled to celebrate her 27th birthday.  Ashley said she was allowed a number of visits to Arbor Fuller, and David was allowed to visit as well, though a lesser number of times. It was apparently at Arbor Fuller, that Ashley and David first reacted too emotionally when they saw Chelsea.

In testimony in the August 2015 probate court hearing, Wallace, the guardian, contended that David Barr further agitated his daughter during at least one visit by telling her that she would be going home soon and that he would become her guardian.  Hospital clinicians, Wallace said, subsequently asked her to terminate the family’s visitation privileges.

David Barr testified in response that he was trying only to reassure his daughter, who would become upset whenever he and Ashley had to leave. “I was just trying to provide reassurance that she would go home and that I would always be by her side and would try to get the guardianship,” David said. “She was there alone and scared. Isn’t that reassuring someone? Trying to give her confidence she isn’t going be left alone…?”

DDS and guardian repeatedly said family needed to be “educated”

During the probate court hearing, Wallace, Casey, and Barbara Green Whitbeck, a DDS attorney, repeatedly stated that they considered it necessary to “educate” David, Ashley and potentially other family members about what was in Chelsea’s best interest and the extent of her mental illness.

“I talked to Ashley,” Wallace testified. “She was angry and wanted to maintain the visits (with Chelsea).  I tried to educate her that Chelsea is psychotic and symptomatic – that it can take two, three, four months (to stabilize) her.  It’s not quick.  I don’t think they (the family) understand the magnitude (of her illness).”

Ashley responded in an interview that she and her father felt that Wallace and Casey were being condescending in seeking to “educate” them about Chelsea.  “We have known and talked about Chelsea’s conditions since day-one, 20 years ago, and about what Chelsea has been diagnosed with. It’s nothing new to us,” Ashley said. “We don’t need them to repeat things that we already know about Chelsea’s conditions.”

In June 2015, Ashley found out from her aunt that Chelsea had been admitted to Lawrence General Hospital because her psychiatric symptoms had flared up.  Ashley was subsequently allowed to visit Chelsea a handful of times at Lawrence General, but David wasn’t, for reasons that were not provided to them.

After a short stay at Lawrence General, Chelsea was admitted to Tewksbury State Hospital. Ashley said that when she was living in Connecticut at that time and drove up to Massachusetts several times a week to visit Chelsea.

Chelsea’s father was finally allowed to visit her at Tewksbury State in October 2015. Chelsea appeared drugged during that visit as well, according to Ashley. And that was the visit in which Ashley said she needed to use an entire bottle of shampoo and conditioner to untangle her hair.

That was also the last time either David or Chelsea were permitted to visit Chelsea. “We were told by Dorothy Wallace we were getting Chelsea too excited and they were trying to control her medicine,” Ashley said. “That was an excuse. How else is she going to react when she sees her family and wants to go home? Of course, she’s going to get upset.”

Ashley did manage to see Chelsea without permission at Tewksbury State in December when she visited under an assumed name. She gave her Christmas presents during that visit. It was the last time she would see Chelsea.

Chelsea and her father hug good-bye at Tewksbury State Hospital.
Chelsea and her father hug good-bye at Tewksbury State Hospital.

In May, Ashley found out she was pregnant and learned that she was going to have a girl. She contacted the guardian to ask whether Chelsea would be allowed to come to the baby shower, which was planned for a restaurant in Andover. She said Wallace denied the request and told her Chelsea would not be informed that she was pregnant.

Family friend also denied visits 

The family friend who initially reported the alleged sexual abuse of Chelsea to police had initially been allowed to visit Chelsea, as noted earlier. However, when the friend tried to visit Chelsea at Tewksbury State in April on her 28th birthday, she was told that Chelsea was no longer there.

The friend said she was also told by a staff member at the hospital that she too had been placed on a no-visitor list.  She said she was not given a reason for that prohibition. The friend said she understood that the only family member still allowed any contact at that point with Chelsea was the aunt, who had previously had little to do with her.

Ashley said David did hear from Chelsea one last time in July when Chelsea apparently managed to find a cell phone and called him. She said the cell phone had a New Hampshire area code, but that Chelsea did not know where she was.  The call was terminated after two or three minutes, she said.

“At that point, we knew she was still alive,” Ashley said. “But that’s all we knew.”

Call the Barr’s local legislators

When we at COFAR heard about this case, we contacted the office of David Barr’s local House member, State Representative Linda Campbell Dean.  Both Ashley and the family friend had previously contacted Dean’s office, but a staff member in the office indicated at that time that the office could do little to help them.

When we contacted Rep. Dean’s office earlier this month, the staff member did offer to contact DDS on behalf of the Barrs. The staffer reported back that DDS would not discuss the case with Dean’s office, but would pass along Dean’s concerns to others in the Department.

You can contact Rep. Dean’s office at 617-722-2430, or send an email to, and urge them to continue to try to work with DDS to resolve this case.

In addition, you can contact Governor Baker’s office at 617-725-4005; and DDS Commissioner Elin Howe at 617-727-5608; or email: Say you believe David and Ashley’s visits to Chelsea should be restored immediately. Also, let them know that you hope and expect that as part of their review of the case, DDS officials will contact and interview both David and Ashley.

GoFundMe appeal

David and Ashley Barr have also launched a GoFundMe appeal for funds to hire an attorney to represent them in probate court. You can find their petition and contribute to it at

Right out of the gate,

On Friday, January 20, I’d like President Clinton to to address the reality that the USA ranks behind Latvia and 32 other countries with children falling below the poverty line.  More than one in five American children fall below a relative poverty line.

And right after that, she ought to explain how she will improve on our poor showing relative to economic mobility.

Hint:  ”Education and Job Training” ain’t gonna cut it as an acceptable answer.

Great News for Sen. Warren: Curt Schilling May Run Against Her

With apologies, I have to reprint the entire Associated Press story in full, because it is just too perfect:

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling says he’s decided to run for Senate in 2018 if his wife agrees.

On WPRO-AM Tuesday, he said he’d make a run against Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Schilling also said he doesn’t know what he should apologize for following the collapse of his video game company that received a $75 million loan guarantee from Rhode Island.

He asked listeners: ‘‘What do you want me to apologize for?’’

Sen. Warren is whomping Schilling 47% to 28%, according to a recent WBZ/UMass-Amherst poll. And here’s the thing: Massachusetts voters know Sen. Warren really well, but most don’t know Schilling beyond “great at baseball.” Wait until they find out about Schilling’s hateful, extremist beliefs:

And that’s just the start – the list goes on and on and on. Can you imagine what Charlie Baker is thinking about potentially having to share a ticket with this guy? And having to answer questions about every single crazy thing Schilling says?

As a progressive Democrat, I say: Why not Curt?

Good advice on politicking from Jimmy Tingle

Check it out:

Expand Democracy by Eliminating the Electoral College

Here is the latest map.

After 2000, I felt a bit better about the Electoral College. Without it, I thought, we’d have several Floridas and litigate every close state.

But then we had a historically popular nominee, and now the GOP has a historically unpopular nominee.

My vote barely counts. I’m just helping to build a Clinton win in Massachusetts. I’m told it’s awful to live in a swing state at this time (brutal ads on both sides), but I’m tired of my primary vote barely counting and my presidential vote hardly counting at all.

Make every vote count. Can the Electoral College. With all due respect to the founders, they were too beholden to their home states. As they say in Hamilton, welcome to the present, we’re running a real nation.

UPDATE — Why now, may you ask? Mainly because of the approaching election, but also because last night I heard this.

McMullin, 40, is on 11 state ballots and is a registered write-in in 23 other states. His campaign hopes to appear on up to 40 or 45 ballots as a write-in or official candidate by Election Day. “If no candidate achieves a majority in the Electoral College, then the top three finishers in the race go the House,” McMullin told us today. “This if very difficult to do, we know that, and we knew that before getting into the race. We think it’s not possible for us to win 270 votes ourselves, but that’s the best opportunity we have. It depends on how close the race is between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — and right now, it isn’t very close. I don’t think it is likely to be close.” Even while he acknowledges the unlikely path to victory, McMullin also pointed out his positive recent polling results in Utah and, in his words, “the Mountain West.”

I don’t think this would happen (HRC would have to fall short of 270), but if it ever did, what an insane, undemocratic result that would be.

No On 2 in a Historical Perspective

Why are so many Republicans and billionaires pushing Question 2?*

Prof. Robert Weintraub at BU Today offers us more thoughtful context on Question 2. BMG readers, click the link and read the whole thing. There is a broader context for these ideas of denigrating public schools (it fits with Reagan’s denigration of the government), and there is a good explanation of the bad math behind saying that international test show US schools are worse than Singapore’s or China’s. But what really packs a punch is when we learn where all those district dollars end up after new charters schools open:

Perhaps the least known characteristic of charters is that our taxes are taken from our public schools and enrich private investors. Typically, charter schools operate as nonprofits. However, the buildings in which they operate are generally owned by private landlords who benefit financially from taxes that are transferred to the operation of charters.

David Brain, head of the large real estate investment firm Entertainment Properties Trust at the time, appeared on CNBC in 2012 to tell audiences just how lucrative charter school investment has become. In response to a question about the most profitable sector in real estate investment, he said, “Well, I think probably the charter school business.”

This misuse of the public’s education dollars to enrich real estate tycoons helps to explain why a few incredibly wealthy people (who would send their children to private schools anyway) fund Question 2 but hide their identities, as Prof. Maurice Cunningham has written.  (By the way, Maurice Cunningham has no opinion on charters, he just objects to dark money in politics.)

It’s no wonder this election has strong progressives like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, AG Maura Healey, Rep. Capuno, State Sen. Pat Jehlen, and many more lining up to vote No along with 170+ school committees and so many grassroots activists.

Vote No on 2.


*Sure, you can find some non-Republican, non-billionaires who support Question 2–but the question is, why are Republicans and billionaires–people mostly opposed to progress on income inequality–pushing for a rapid expansion of charters?

Undermining Democracy? The GOP Has Been Doing It For Years

Let me say that I’ve talked to President Clinton. We had a good visit, and I congratulated him. . . .campaign that the President was my opponent and not my enemy. And I wish him well, and I pledge my support in whatever advances the cause of a better America because that’s what the race was about in the first place, a better America as we go into the next century.

Sen. Bob Dole on losing to Bill Clinton

President Bill Clinton, for all of his faults, was pursued for years. It started with White Water (Oh, things were so simple then!) and Travelgate and finally Monica Lewinsky and finally impeachment pushed by philandering hypocrites in Congress. There were also the real crazy conspiracies like the suicide of Vince Foster. When Barack Obama was elected, the nuttiness didn’t stop. There was the birth certificate. The idea that he was a Muslim. Then the idea that he was Kenyan, rather than American. There are a whole host of theories should you care.

In a long campaign to disenfranchise Democratically-oriented minority voters, Republicans have advanced the idea that voter fraud, due to a lack of voter identification, was a major problem. The purpose of requiring voter identification is to suppress votes. Period. But an excuse was needed for voter identification. Fears of voter fraud fit the bill. Trump’s claims of voter fraud ring true with his followers because the GOP has primed them.

There are reasonable Republicans out there. We have some here at BMG and in Massachusetts, though even here the GOP minority pushed a voter ID bill. But at the national level, reasonable Republicans have taken a back seat to the preservation of Republican power.

As Jeff Greenfield writes in Politico:

In truth Trump—and now his new mordant muse, Steve Bannon—are only carrying to extremes a tendency that has long been present in American politics, particularly inside the GOP. For Republicans, Hillary Clinton’s failings are only part of the argument: The broader case is that the Democratic Party itself lacks the legitimacy to govern. And that argument is one that has been a quarter-century in the making.

One of the roots of this argument can be found in the famous list of words that the then-Rep. Newt Gingrich and pollster/communications strategist Frank Luntz offered Republican candidates in the run-up to the 1994 midterms. “These are powerful words,” they said, “words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party. … decay… failure (fail)… collapse(ing)… deeper… crisis…… corrupt…destructive… destroy… sick… pathetic… lie… … betray… traitors…”

Whether this playbook led to the GOP takeover of Congress is debatable. The key point is that these words go to motive. They paint the opposition not simply as incompetent, but as malevolent. And it is an approach to politics that fits perfectly with the rise of right-wing talk radio, whose most prominent practitioners roundly reject John Kennedy’s observation that “civility is not a sign of weakness.” Contra Bob Dole, the adversaries of Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage and company are indeed the enemy. At about the time Gingrich and Luntz were offering their version of “30 Days to a More Incendiary Vocabulary,” Rev. Jerry Falwell was actively engaged in selling “the Clinton Chronicles,” a film that accused the Clintons of murdering their political foes. Today, you can find this argument recycled on a regular basis on The Drudge Report.

Nationally, I don’t think there’s much hope for the GOP. Massachusetts may have Charlie Baker, but he’s balanced off by Sam Brownback, Mary Fallin, Rick Scott, and Scott Walker. We may not end up with the craziness of Maine’s chief executive, but the Republican Party is finally collapsing under its own internal contradictions. Trump gives us an idea of what will slither in and try to replace it. Time will tell whether it succeeds and how well the United States will fare as the GOP splits apart.

Business Leaders (?) for Trump - A Very Sad Group

I get in too deep with political news around this time, so much so that I’ve been reading Trump’s tweets and retweets and going down various rabbit holes. It’s not good, but I can’t help myself. Today, his campaign celebrated how 100 “Business Leaders” have come out to endorse his campaign. These “leaders” also wrote a piece for CNBC to share their letter.

It’s the typical BS from the wealthy right about the need for tax breaks and cutting back on “oppressive” regulation. It’s so obvious that they don’t give a crap about the country and want policies that will flow directly to their personal bottom line. What’s especially revealing about this letter, however, is that it’s all blind faith in Donald Trump, who has put forward nothing resembling a real plan, and whose business success is very checkered by any fair assessment.

I had to point out this part. What a load of nothing-speak.

Every element of the Trump plan points synergistically, interactively, and dynamically towards growth. Hillary’s plan points in the exact opposite direction — and towards a secular bear market.

The list of signers is mostly small potatoes (it’s not a long list of Fortune 100 leaders like Romney received). There are a few big company owners, but also a lot of small restaurant owners and random consulting companies. A few names stuck out for laughs, though.

Kathy Carr, Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Howie Carr Show.

Bradley Crate, who worked on Romney’s campaigns and now runs Red Curve Solutions, which is a GOP political/financial consulting firm. Shocking that a GOP consultant might support a GOP candidate.

Bradley T. Crate, Founder and President of Red Curve Solutions, LLC.

And in case you need a team to root for since the Sox are done, this list helps make it easy.

Jamie McCourt, Founder and CEO of Jamie Enterprises, former Co-Owner, President, CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Todd Ricketts, Co-Owner of the Chicago Cubs.

And if you needed another reason to dislike the Jets.

Woody Johnson, Owner of the New York Jets.

Film maker arrested, faces potential 45 year felony charge - for filming North Dakota protests - #NoDAPL

Deia Schlosberg won an Academy award for her work as a film maker.  That doesn’t count in North Dakota where her equipment was confiscated and she was arrested.

Amy Goodman was also charged, and plans to turn herself in and fight those charges tomorrow, 10/17/16.

When did the First Amendment get repealed?

Soo, Will a Democrat Take On Hillary In Four Years? I Mean We Are All Voting For Her But Let's Face It, She Is Not a Good Person and Neither Is Her Husband. In Fact They're Narcissistic Duplicitous Hogs. And Tim Kane Sucks Too!

And is there anyone else besides Donald Trump who Hillary could beat? How did that happen?

I say we elect her then make her life miserable. Let Liz Warren set the agenda for Democrats and watch the steam come out of Hillary’s ears.

Oh, and a fork between the eyes to anyone who after the election says the voters gave Hillary a mandate. No, the voters will give Trump a mandate and send him to loser land. Then do the same to Hillary in four years.

All those corporations, power players, and foreign states whose interests are influenced by the state department giving big money to the Clinton Foundation (the Clinton family’s cash cow); ugly.

Now compare this with the feds making Bob DeLeo an unindicted co-conspiritor because he wrote a few recommendation letters for people hoping to land a job with a state agency. I think he recommended 16 people for jobs and 5 of them were hired. Hmmm, I always thought the speaker could get anyone a job anywhere. I mean that’s what the Globe has always told us.  And now we see he’s five for 16 at one agency. Although the Globe has no clue how things work on Beacon Hill it likes to pretend it does.

And btw Kane is still a piece of shit in my eyes. Mr. Progressive. Mr. Morality. Mr. Catholic. Yeah right. More like Mr. sackless pussie who put himself before his principles. You know, the ones he wears on his sleeves. Yet Mr. Morality has no problem executing every prisoner whose death sentence was carried out during his term.

Then he tells us he believed the law of the land should be upheld and honored. Hey asshole, the law of the land includes powers giving the governor the ability to stop any execution without reason. You suck Tim Kane. You really really really suck.









Image may contain: 2 people , people smiling , outdoor

Um…”thanks” Olena churanova for this meme

Joke Revue: Republican Party Could Recover as Early as 2096



WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In what is being described as a best-case scenario, some political experts are predicting that the Republicans could once again be a viable political party as early as the year 2096.

Davis Logsdon, the head of the University of Minnesota’s political-science department, said on Saturday that the eighty-year time frame for the Republican Party to recover was “admittedly optimistic, but still doable.”

“It’s not going to be easy, and they have very little margin for error,” Logsdon said. “But if they do everything right and a lot of things cut their way, they could be up and running as a somewhat serviceable political party as early as 2096.”

According to the political strategist Tracy Klugian, however, Logsdon’s 2096 target date for the Republicans’ comeback is “laughably upbeat.”

“In order for the G.O.P. to become even a marginally functional political party again, all memory of the 2016 campaign will have to be obliterated,” Klugian said. “That means everyone who witnessed it will have to be dead, and probably those people’s children, and their children’s children, too. I wouldn’t bet on the Republican Party recovering any earlier than the year 2132.”

When asked about Klugian’s assessment, Logsdon said, “Yeah, 2132 is probably more like it.”


GREENSBORO, N.C. (The Borowitz Report)—Hillary Clinton is “plotting to rig the election by getting more votes than I do,” Donald J. Trump warned his supporters on Friday.

Speaking at a rally, Trump detailed what he called Clinton’s “vast conspiracy” to accrue more votes than he does on Election Day.

“The media won’t tell you this, but Crooked Hillary is going around the country every single day, trying to get more votes than I do,” he said. “That’s how she’s going to rig it, folks.”

He called the current sexual-assault allegations against him “a plot by the Clintons to draw attention away from Hillary’s evil plot to get votes.”


Trump Complains Entire Personality Rigged Against Him

WEST PALM BEACH, FL—Responding to his flagging poll numbers and a string of newspaper editorials and cable news pundits questioning his fitness to lead, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reportedly complained to a rally crowd Thursday that for the entirety of this race, his personality has been rigged against him. “From day one, my internal thought processes and overall temperament have completely stacked the deck against my candidacy—it’s so obvious, folks, you can’t deny it,” said Trump, claiming that all facets of his character, from his egocentric worldview to his brash, vitriolic responses to even the smallest and most inconsequential provocations, have been colluding to ruin his chances of ever reaching the Oval Office. “Open your eyes, people! Just look at how I routinely project the fear and hatred inside of me onto others, or my total lack of impulse control, conscientiousness, and tact. My personality is doing everything—and I mean everything—to make sure I never have a chance.” Trump then reportedly vowed that no matter how many of his own character traits aligned against him, he would never let his personality stop him from becoming president, drawing raucous cheers from the crowd.