Whither the GOP establishment?

With Donald Trump’s massive win in NH and his big lead in South Carolina as well as nationally, the anti-Trump faction of the GOP needs to act fast to avoid the catastrophe of a Trump nomination.  But what’s their move?

It seems to me that John Kasich’s very surprising second-place finish in NH is awful news for them, because I think he’s an unlikely rallying point (as I said last night).  Kasich is, in reality, a pretty right-wing guy despite his warmer-and-fuzzier, compassionate conservative rhetoric. But he has one gigantic problem which, because nobody really saw his big NH surge coming, didn’t figure much there: Obamacare. As you may recall, Kasich is one of the very few Republican Governors who adopted Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, thereby committing the cardinal Republican sin of supplying health care to thousands of people living in his state.  After NH, expect the Obamacare attack to become much, much louder.  Indeed, it has already begun.

Furthermore, Kasich’s all-in strategy in NH worked there, but leaves him in a tough spot going forward.  The next bunch of contests are concentrated in the south, where he seems unlikely to do well.  He doesn’t have all that much money, and he doesn’t have much of an organization elsewhere.  Is he really the guy to whom the big donors are going to flock?

What about the rest?  Ted Cruz, of course, is also hated by the GOP elite, yet he finished third in NH without trying very hard.  He is well-positioned to move into the more conservative states coming up next.  After him, Jeb! came in fourth, Rubio a disappointing fifth, and Christie sixth.  Christie is heading home to New Jersey and will almost surely drop out, correctly seeing no plausible path to the nomination after two very weak finishes.  Jeb continues to astonish by setting what must be a record of dollars spent per vote garnered. But that can’t continue for long; at some point he has to actually win something, and he remains a singularly unimpressive, uninspiring candidate for president.

Rubio?  I thought his “momentum” out of a third-place finish in Iowa was overrated, and the fact that it was so easily derailed by a modest mistake in a debate (it’s not like he called someone a pussy, or something outrageous like that) suggests that I was right.  As a result, he came in fifth in NH, losing badly to Ted Cruz and narrowly to his arch-enemy (not counting Christie) and fellow Floridian Jeb!.  Polling has him in a solid third place in South Carolina, and if that holds up, is the guy finishing 3-5-3 in the first three contests really the hero the establishment is looking for?  Again, at some point, he has to win something, and it’s hard to see that happening soon.

If it were me, I might swallow hard and start trying to buy favor with Cruz; Trump is too erratic, controversial, and offensive to risk being closely associated with, and the rest just seem sad.  What would you do?

The Legend of Scotto (in his own mind)

Last week Scott Brown went out on a limb and endorsed front runner Donald Trump. Trump had been polling with a significant lead for weeks in New Hampshire.

I give you Scotto this morning (via Boston Herald radio) following the Trump win:

So my job was to actually you know in a week and half mobilize a much as we could the ground game here in New Hampshire with you know my people that I had in place just a short couple of years ago. And you know we were really able to kind of get the wheels moving and let them understand what you need to do in the GOTV effort and taking nothing for granted. And just some little nuanced changes and a lot of the things that I was suggesting I was seeing being implemented so it was nice to play a small role in it. And you know they’re excited. Listen, they’re new at this. It’s kind of fun to be with somebody who’s never done this before.

Statehouse News with the transcript.

NH results thread: Sanders and Trump win

On the dot of 8 pm, CNN declared Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump the winners of the New Hampshire primary.  The results apparently are that clear.  It appears that a big battle for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place may be shaping up on the GOP side; we won’t know more on that until more results come in.  Meanwhile:

  • Sanders and Trump, as unlikely as it may have seemed a few months ago, are for real.  They proved in Iowa that they can contend; they proved tonight that they can win, and apparently win big.  And if, as appears will be the case, Trump pretty much lives up to his poll numbers, it also helps answer a question that has hung over the GOP race for months: do Trump’s sometimes astronomical poll numbers reflect real voters?  At least in NH, they did.
  • The GOP establishment, such as it is, is in meltdown.  The two men the establishment hates most – Ted Cruz and Donald Trump – went 1-2 in Iowa, and Trump appears to have won NH running away.  Marco Rubio, the supposed establishment choice after Jeb! flamed out, only managed third in Iowa and may well do worse in NH.  What’s their next move?  As of now, John Kasich is holding second place, but he seems an unlikely rallying point.
  • Unless Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina do a lot better than they’re doing right now, they seem to me unlikely to be able to continue.  Christie then might choose to back Kasich (if he holds 2nd), or Jeb!, or he might wait.  Christie didn’t garner much electoral support, but he is an effective surrogate, and he did a lot of damage to Rubio in the last debate.  He wouldn’t be a bad guy to have in your corner going forward.  Fiorina … not sure anyone really cares.

Your thoughts?

Congratulations, Bernie Sanders !

MSNBC has just announced that Senator Bernie Sanders is the winner of the New Hampshire primary.

Congratulations Team Bernie for  running a great campaign.

Now it’s on to Nevada and South Carolina.


Fred Rich LaRiccia

I think that the 2016 Democratic nomination is sewn up

When a candidate’s campaign manager tries something this desperate – obviously ludicrous and trivial to defend against - it can only mean that their candidate knows they’re pretty hosed:

Robby Mook declaims Bernie’s lavish lifestyle and such

I could well be wrong, but I think the thing’s largely over.

Great News MST3K may be back this fall

Maybe if Tom Servo doesn’t come back Senator Rubio can take his place.

In Non-NH Primary News, How Boston & MA Need To Rethink Development

News today that Boston Mayor Marty Walsh & Mass Governor Charlie Baker want to redevelop 5.5 acres along Kneeland Street, near South Station (Global Article) got me thinking about how our government needs to rethink how it monetizes development.

In much of our development, the City or State sells land to a developer (Hopefully near market value) and then the developer gets to build and then sell or lease their new property, creating a great revenue stream for the developer. Now, this process is less than ideal because there is much room for back room dealing (A common complaint about the BRA), or undervaluation of property for a well-connected developer (Such news blew up last fall about the Winthop Street Garage in Boston). Plus once the City or State sells of the land, the revenue producing nature of the land shifts to what can be gotten for property taxes or business/sales taxes generated by the site which are then limited by Prop 2 1/2 and others.

As I think about various properties owned by the City, State and other agencies, often hamstrung with tight budgets, is why do they sell these properties in the first place? Maybe the City/State needs to become a landlord.

When we talk about transportation outside the US, and why agencies such as the MTR in Hong Kong or the train companies in Tokyo are so successful and offer good service, it’s because their business is grounded in real estate, not transportation. The transportation is just part of the ecosystem they’ve built to better monetize their property. I’ve written at length about this on BMG before: http://bluemassgroup.com/2015/02/fixing-the-mbta-diving-into-some-numbers-talking-transportation-as-an-investment-transit-around-the-world-and-finding-cash-flow/

It’s exciting to see Boston, Cambridge and the surrounding cities thrive. And it’s great to see the reinvestment flowing back into our urban areas. But I think it’s short sited to watch the Cities & State simply sell off their most prized possessions without finding long term ways to build cash flow from them.

I’d suggest our esteemed leaders not rush to give away land to a developer. Yes, it may help repair a somewhat gritty area, bring in new desperately needed housing & more office space, but by simply selling the land off we’re missing a great opportunity to generate more steady cash flow outside of the normal channels of taxes.

If you want some quick reading on this topic, jump over to Wikipedia and read about Ground Rents: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_rent

Ever wander where the Queen Of England’s money comes from? It’s not taxes – they’re landlords, retaining ownership over huge chunks of prime London & UK real estate: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_Estate

We could follow a similar model, which could also be great as our non-profit and tax free colleges, universities & hospitals continue to gobble up land, depriving municipal coffers of much needed property tax revenues.

Let's talk about Foreign Policy

I’ve heard a lot of talk from some quarters that Hillary Clinton is a neoconservative who will pursue Republican foreign policies if elected, and that Sanders is better qualified to be Commander in Chief because he opposed the Iraq War and she supported it. I feel like these talking points still prevent us from really having the discussions we need to have about goals and capabilities and to lay out the plans the next President will need to confront global challenges to American leadership on several fronts.

What can the next President do militarily against ISIL?

Hillary was the architect of much Obama’s foreign policy as his Secretary of State, she supported the Iran deal, she is arguably to his left on the issue of world trade (and has been in both primaries), and she will likely continue the strategies we are pursuing militarily.

Here is another newsflash-so would President Sanders and so would nearly every President Republican once they got into office. There is just no real appetite for a third full scale ground invasion of Iraq in as many decades, short of that, the strategy against ISIL will involve a sustained bombing effort and special forces. No President has the luxury of pulling out completely since there is a risk of a terror attack happening on their watch, no President will have the support of the American public to wage a full scale ground invasion. So we will get something in the middle, it’ll just be in what shades and variations.

Between the Democrats I am far more comfortable with the detailed plan that Hillary laid out to get more hawkish than Obama on internet recruitment, cutting off funding, and bringing in more special forces and support for friendlies like the Kurds. By contrast, Sanders thought ISIL was in Afghanistan and the Taliban was in Iraq at the last debate. A level of ignorance we would never tolerate and openly mock in a Republican. And we don’t even need to dignify their lunacy with a response.

What can the next President do, diplomatically?

On the diplomatic front there is a lot of damage a Republican can do, from shredding the Iran agreement to the international accord on climate change to pulling out of human rights conventions. Not to mention doubling down on failed strategies like torture and extraordinary renditions. Cruz is completely amoral when it comes to questions of Middle Eastern human rights, which, so am I when it comes to enforcing our values via the sword but it would be nice if we stopped funding the Saudi’s who do nothing for us in the region and are the cause of most of it’s instability, let alone are terrible pariahs whose brazen disregard for women and the rule of law would make an Ayatollah blush with envy. Time to stop underwriting their armed forces and buying their bullshit. Bernie actually thinks they will beat ISIL for us, with the King of Jordan, another autocrat he is praising. Not with Iranian troops on the ground they won’t, both of those powers benefit from the quagmire in Iraq and Syria since it bogs down Iran.

Hillary or Bernie? The burden of proof rests with Bernie.

The days of American hegemony are over, and it’s unlikely that Hillary can pursue the drive by bombing humanitarian hawkishness of her husband nor the saber rattling world altering crusade of the second Bush administration. I strongly believe out of all the candidates she is the only one who has the depth of experience and the key contacts with existing world leaders to quickly spring into action and sail the ship of state through these perilous times. There are still lapses of judgment that persist and associations that concern me (the Kagans, Kenneth Pollack, and other Iraq architects), but at the end of the day Bernie isn’t even bothering to present us with an alternative.

As a declared voter of his in the Massachusetts primary, I strongly wish he did. Hillary’s flaws on foreign policy share many of the same origins and problematic associations as her issues with Wall Street he has so successfully hammered her on. Yet a single vote 15 years ago does not foreign policy leadership make, even if he was right and she was wrong. He really needs to outline not only how he would be different but how he would be better equipped to deal with these challenges. And he has to do this now.

I've seen this movie before

I fully understand why many Mass Dems love what Bernie Sanders is saying and intend to vote for him on March 1.  Four decades ago, I felt the same way – only the candidate then was Sen. George McGovern.  After years of Vietnam under Johnson and Nixon, we wanted the change McGovern promised.  But things were and still are very different between the Hudson River and the Sierras. This is largely a center-right country. We got killed then — in fact, Massachusetts was the only state to go for McGovern (Remember the “Don’t blame me, I’m from Massachusetts” bumper stickers?) — and with Bernie as our candidate, well, I’ve seen this movie before.

We all want what Bernie wants, but it’s not going to be as easy as he seems to think — after all, we Dems control neither the House nor the Senate. Any positive change will be incremental, and any Democratic President will be abused by yet another right-wing Congress. For 25 years Hillary has shown she has the right stuff. She is tough enough to deal with whatever Fox News or Ted Cruz throws at her; while Bernie has yet to feel the back hand of the Republican noise machine. Further, as anyone who has been following current events during the last quarter-century knows, Hillary is better prepared than almost everyone who has entered the Oval Office. That’s why I’m supporting her, and I hope you will, too. As I said, I’ve seen this movie before, and I don’t want to see it again. The stakes are simply too high.


The case against The-case-against-Hillary

(Please know: I am still an undecided voter.)

In light of the waves of tendentious anti-Hillary oppo emitting from Sanders enthusiasts, this is a necessary read — one which takes on even our sainted senior Senator a bit.

You may know this old Bill Moyers video, where Warren pillories Hillary for voting for the bankrupcy bill.

The second part of the interview is where it gets quite damning. According to Warren, First Lady Clinton became Senator Clinton of New York, and then things changed. The same bankruptcy bill came through congress, and this time Hillary voted for it. When Warren is asked what changed, she replies (paraphrasing), “Hillary started receiving all this money from Wall Street, and they became her constituency.” Well, that would be a very dramatic transformation, indeed.

Now if you loathe Hillary Clinton, and are mostly interested in validating that worldview, then you can stop reading. You have what you need. You can go and post that video to Facebook and talk about how corrupt and horrible she is. But if you’d like to gain a broader understanding of things, continue on.

The tl;dr version is this: Hillary wanted a bill that:

  • prioritized child support in bankruptcy proceedings;
  • made debts incurred because of “violence, threats or intimidation” moot;
  • capped the homestead exemption, so that you can’t buy a mansion and then refuse to pay your debts;
  • added $750 protected spending for food, clothing, and medical expenses 90 days before a bankruptcy filing.

Congress stripped out the amendments; Dems (including Hillary) filibustered; amendments got put back in; the bill passed 83-15.

Now, maybe that’s not good enough for you. It wasn’t good enough for Warren at the time. But this fits a general pattern I’ve been seeing from Sanders oppo, where everything Hillary has ever done is put in the most negative possible light. Politics ain’t beanbag; and it turns out this is a real race. But she could still be our nominee, and she’s got a story. This particular story ends up sounding much more like ordinary legislative sausage-making and less like betrayal. Compromises like this are why Senators have a hard time getting elected President.

I am still undecided, and I find Sanders’s ideas attractive. But I also know — as he must know — that many of them have absolutely no chance of becoming the law of the land, in the time frame of his prospective presidency. This is the friction at the boundary between protest candidate and potential President: The aspirational goals, candidly recognized as such by core supporters, become unfulfillable promises … in other words, pandering, telling people what they want to hear. (Hey, at least it’s not banning Muslims or “carpet-bombing.”) Given the existence of Congress — Republican or Democratic! — the practical legislative difference between the candidates becomes a lot more narrow. The real story of what the next President can do is one of executive action, and legislating on things that have become, sometimes surprisingly, uncontroversial.

Here’s a paradox: A political revolution needs a leader, an icon, a personification of the message. Bernie is doing better at that than I could have possibly imagined — an immense credit to him and his supporters. But, as a structural matter in American politics, the energy would be much better spent at the Congressional level — or even the state legislative level, something the Koch brothers realize.

Update: WaPo’s Glenn Kessler has even more on this, which doesn’t clarify things much. Obviously it would be great to get Sen. Warren’s candid current take, but you know, now she’s a politician too.

Dixville Notch just voted...

Kasich 3

Trump  2


Sanders   4


Fred Rich LaRiccia

Trump just called Cruz a female sex organ...

for his cowardice in opposing waterboarding as torture.

And his followers laughed and cheered him on.

This fool is about to become the Republican nominee for President of the United States.  He is a sick and depraved megalomaniac.

Where is the outrage ?

Fred Rich LaRiccia


The post everyone should read to understand this primary

The context surrounding this election — representing drastically different, competing economic ideologies between Hillary and Bernie — is largely unknown or misunderstood by most Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, but in my mind means everything in this race.

These differences aren’t small, and they’ve drastically changed the country in the past 40 years.

This blog explains it all. I can’t urge people more strongly to give it a read.

An exercise in solidarity. Let's do more that talk the talk. Let's walk.

First, announce who you support in the Democratic race for the presidency.

Second, tell us what you admire about the other candidate.

I will go first.


I support Senator Bernie Sanders.


I greatly admired the way Secretary Clinton responded to the Black Lives Matter confrontation where she was unrehearsed, frank, and I liked her for that.  Her reply reminded me of FDR who said,  “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.”


It’s your turn.

New Hampshire Predictions?

I’m terrible at this myself, but since nobody else had started this thread I figured I would.  What are your predictions for NH, in terms of percentage of the vote for each candidate for both primaries?  Personally I’m thinking 54-46% favoring Sanders with Trump ahead in the GOP, but not by quite as much as latest polls indicate.  Rubio may sink a bit with Bush, Kasich, and Christie fighting for second and Cruz not really in the mix this time.

Correcting The Record: The Accomplishments of Hillary Clinton

Earlier on another thread there was an exchange revolving around what Hillary Clinton had actually accomplished over her long public career.  I suggested that the list was too long to memorize or put in a comment.  When Porcupine suggested she only needed a couple to be satisfied I said I was working on a diary to go up later today.  Turns out that one website pretty much has done this work already, so why reinvent the wheel?  Yes, the site is openly pro-Hillary, but the wealth of well-cited information and praise heaped on her cannot be ignored.  A look at her entire record will reveal that she is neither the hawk nor corporate shill her leftist critics make her out to be, pursuing peace and economic justice at every possible opportunity.  There is also a page of responses to myths and attacks leveled against her, mostly from the Right, but sometimes magnified by the media or event the Left.  I encourage you to follow the links, many of which link to subpages about specific issues.  Once again, there is a lot of misinformation out there about HRC, corrections for which do not take long to find for anyone open-minded enough to look.

Why the gender card isn't working in NH

There’s considerable talk about how Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton among women in New Hampshire.

According to Bloomberg:

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll of likely Democratic primary voters released Thursday showed Sanders winning 50 percent of women and 61 percent of those earning $50,000 or less.

[Andrew] Smith, [director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center] said the gender gap is particularly noticeable by age, with women 35 and younger backing Sanders and women older than 65 more inclined to support Clinton. That’s attributable in part to generational differences and Sanders’s overall appeal to younger voters.

There’s a reason for that. Women who are 65 years of age or older grew up in a very different time. It was a time in which young women would go to see her guidance counselor and be flat out told, women can be elementary teachers or nurses. Forget about that doctor or lawyer thing. Back in 1970, only 11% of students enrolled at US veterinary colleges were women. (Source: American Veterinary Medical Association)

Times change. By 1987, women were the majority of students, and in 2009, 77.6% of students at US veterinary colleges were women.

The AMVA data also showed that, in 2006, graduate programs for psychology, pharmacy, biological sciences, and social scientists were also majority female. Medical school was about 50/50, or 49-51 to be exact.

I am not arguing that we have reached gender equity, or any kind of gender-based nirvana, but voters under 35 graduated from high school, attended college, and entered the job market in a vastly different world than women who are now 65 and over. The glass ceiling argument resonates with older women, with younger women, not so much.

This is even more profound in New Hampshire than anywhere else. In 2008, the New Hampshire Senate became the first US legislative body to have a female majority (13-11). In 2012, the voters of New Hampshire elected a female governor, two female members of the US House of Representatives, while the two US Senators were women.

It’s not gender that is a barrier for young women looking to go to college and have a career. The barrier is now the high cost of college. Student loan debt, often six figures, can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. Interest rates are high, can’t be consolidated more than once, and can’t be refinanced. At a time when the Federal Reserve set interest rates near zero, an 8% interest rate for federally guaranteed student loans is not uncommon. The federal government profits from student loans, while tax cuts are directed at millionaires and billionaires.

Young women can now get into college and graduate school. They just can’t pay for it.

That’s why Bernie’s message is resonating, not Hillary’s.

Testing the courage of heroes

We live in a troubled world.  Issues both great and small cry out for our attention everyday.  And we constantly ask ourselves what should we think ?  What should we say ?  What should we do ?

There are those who demagogue with the glib answer and simple solution to every challenge.  Just build a wall and send them all back.  Keep out those who look different , worship different, think different than we do.

That’s not the America I know.  That’s not the America I believe in.  That’s not the America I love.  We are better.  So much better than that.  We don’t build ourselves up by tearing others down.

It has been said when times are good it’s easy to be good; but adversity tests the courage of heroes.  May we all find the courage to do the right thing in these difficult times.

Fred Rich LaRiccia

Sanders to the Berniebros

We don’t want that crap.

Well said.

Don't make me come back there

It’s primary season. And in a close race, we have strong opinions and heated passions (even within camps).

This is a reminder that we have rules regarding civility on our site. We’ve had them for a long time.

If you can’t make your point without insulting someone … well, you’re not doing it right. I have to say that my experience in meeting BMG people is that they’re delightful, almost to a person. If you’re insulting someone, they’re probably actually delightful, and you’d regret it if you just knew them.

For those who can’t follow the rules, we do suspend or ban people. It’s a pain, and we don’t like to do it.

Primary season is the Silly Season. Don’t make it the Mean Season.

This has been a public service announcement.