By the way, Ed Markey still wants your money

It’s been a while since I’ve complained about Ed Markey’s absurdly aggressive, scare-mongering fundraising emails.  So, here’s the latest installment, from my inbox this morning.

From: Ed Markey <>
Subject: I need your help ASAP

No, no you really don’t.

Date: October 31, 2014 9:04:48 AM EDT
To: David

Dear Friend,

If the pollsters and the pundits are to be believed, we need to win just about every close race on Tuesday.

That’s true.  But yours isn’t one of them.

Right now, Democrats are running short — on time and room for error. And if we come up short on our $16O,OOO goal for October, we could be in trouble.

No, you couldn’t.  As of October 15, you had well over $2 million in the bank, while your opponent barely cleared $20,000.  And stop using “O” instead of “0.”

If we miss our fundraising goals, we can’t run the kind of GOTV operations that will lead us to victory. 

Yes, yes you can.  As noted above, you’re sitting on $2 million that you are barely going to need to tap into.

Help us keep our organizers in the field and getting out the vote — chip in $5 before midnight.

No.  Other people need my hard-earned money much more than you do, Ed.

Polling guru Nate Silver says that this year’s elections aren’t like 2012 or 2010. The Republicans have an advantage, but as Silver puts it, “they haven’t been able to put Democrats away.”

We’re still in this. Democrats can win this year, but only if we make the most of every remaining moment of this campaign.

What are you talking about, Ed?  You will win this year, regardless of what happens in other states.  Nobody in America thinks that Brian what’s-his-name is going to win this election, including Brian, I’d wager.

Other Democrats, however, may or may not win.  They’d probably find it easier to win if occupants of safe seats, like yourself, were helping them fundraise instead of padding their own campaign accounts.

Please contribute $5, $10, or more toward our $16O,OOO goal — we only have 15 hours left.

No.  You don’t need that much money this month.  In fact, you don’t need any more money, because you have two million bucks in the bank.  And please, for the love of God, stop using “O” instead of “0.”

Does it matter if Baker's fish story is fake?

As reporter after reporter fails to turn up anything to substantiate Charlie Baker’s now-famous (even made MSNBC) story about the huge New Bedford fisherman who dissolved in tears upon relating the story of his sons and their foregone football scholarships, the question must be asked: let’s say the story is fake.  Does it matter?

Watch the video of Baker telling his story again.  He’s awfully convincing in every detail.  How the guy looked.  Where he was from.  Which high school the guy’s kids went to, and what sport they played.  He betrays no doubt whatsoever that these are real people, and that he story he’s telling really happened.

But now, under the pressure of reporters not being able to verify what he said, Baker is admitting that he “may have gotten some of the details wrong.”  I’m sorry, but what??  Which of those details, so convincingly delivered, were made up?  Baker has pretty much clammed up on the matter, refusing to answer reporters’ detailed inquiries.  In response, the New Bedford Standard-Times, which endorsed Baker, now sounds like they are regretting it and really want answers.  In an editorial published today, they say this of Baker:

His slow response to our questions threaten to taint his relationship with this region, as our endorsement of his candidacy a couple Sundays ago praised him for his recognition of SouthCoast’s importance in statewide economic development.

We need to know that his fervor, his tears, his promises are genuine….

[W]e still want to know from the Baker campaign whether the story he shared at the debate was a symbolic anecdote or a calculated manipulation of the public — and New Bedford — for his political ends.

But, Baker insists, “the essence of the story is true.”  What does that mean?  Which part of it is the “essence,” and which are the apparently fake embellishments?  Baker won’t tell us.

I’ve already explained why I’m pretty sure that the telling of the fish story was planned.  Now, as it turns out, the story may well be fiction in some important particulars.  It is remarkable to me that a story should be so powerful that it causes Baker to break down in tears every time he’s told it for the last 5 years.  (Dianne Williamson at the Telegram puts it less charitably: “Should he care so much, though? Really? This big, strong man chokes up every single time he tells the same 4-year-old story?”) It’s even more remarkable if the story isn’t real.

All of which leaves us wondering what, exactly, we saw at that debate.  A man genuinely moved by the plight of fishermen in Massachusetts?  A father empathizing with the anguish of a man who felt he had steered his sons wrong?  A candidate for office so cynical and calculating that he not only made up a powerful story but then managed fake tears in the telling of it?  Some combination of the above?  Hard to say.

So, does it matter?  Yes.  It has to matter whether candidates tell the truth, whether the subject is large or small.  It just has to.

Joke Revue: Supreme Court Backs Koch Plan to Fire Cash from Cannon at Voters


Kochs Approve Plan to Fire Cash from Cannon at Voters

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)—The billionaire Koch brothers have approved a controversial plan to shoot cash from cannons directly at voters heading into polling places on Election Day.

The plan, which Koch insiders have privately referred to as Operation Money Shot, would distribute as much as seventy million dollars in small bills in the hopes of seizing Republican control of the United States Senate next Tuesday.

While most state laws prohibit electioneering within a hundred feet of polling places, the Koch plan craftily skirts that restriction by using high-powered cash cannons, similar to the T-shirt cannons used in sports arenas, which have a range of up to a hundred and fifty feet. …

[T]he Supreme Court upheld the Koch brothers’ plan by a five-to-four vote on Thursday, arguing that spending money on elections was protected by the First Amendment, and that using a cannon was protected by the Second.

Midterms Prediction: Billionaires to Retain Control of Government

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—With just one week to go until the midterm elections, a new poll indicates that billionaires are likely to retain control of the United States government.

The poll, conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, shows that the proxy candidates of billionaires are likely to win ninety-eight per cent of next Tuesday’s races, with the remaining two per cent leaning billionaire.

Although the poll indicates that some races are still “too close to call,” the fact that billionaires funded candidates on both sides puts the races safely in their column.

Davis Logsdon, who supervised the poll for the University of Minnesota, said that next Tuesday should be “a big night for oligarchs” and that both houses of Congress can be expected to grovel at the feet of their money-gushing paymasters for at least the next two years.

Calling the billionaires’ upcoming electoral romp “historic,” Logsdon said, “We have not seen the super-rich maintain such a vise-like grip on the government since the days immediately preceding the French Revolution.”

Obama Urged to Apologize for Anti-Fear Remark

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—President Obama is coming under increasing pressure to apologize for a controversial remark that he made on Tuesday, in which he said that the nation’s Ebola policy should be based on facts rather than fear.

While the anti-fear tenor of Mr. Obama’s comment was offensive enough to some, the President made matters worse by suggesting that science would play the leading role in guiding the nation’s Ebola protocols—a role that many Americans believe should be played by fear.

Daniel Kurtzman:

“The man in charge of investigating the 2012 Secret Service prostitution scandal has quit after he himself was caught with a prostitute – which explains why President Obama just appointed an irony czar.” –Jimmy Fallon

“The investigator who led the probe in the Secret Service prostitution scandal was caught with a prostitute. When cops found them together, he said, ‘Hey, I’m investigating here.’” –Conan O’Brien

“I want to settle everybody down. Let me put this in perspective for you. Your chances of catching Ebola are the same as the Jets chances of making the play-offs.” –David Letterman

“During a campaign event, former presidential nominee Bob Dole told the crowd that Mitt Romney should run for president in 2016. If there’s anyone who knows that the third time is a charm, it’s a guy who lost three times.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Vladimir Putin announced he’s abolishing daylight saving time. He said he doesn’t want to set Russian clocks back. I will say this: He’s done a pretty good job of setting the Russian calendar back — to about 1983.” –Craig Ferguson

“Scientists found they have evidence that human beings had sex with Neanderthals. Apparently the evidence is any episode of the ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Last night, someone jumped the White House fence again. See, the problem is, if the pizza doesn’t get to Obama in 30 minutes, it’s free. And that comes out of their paycheck.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Maybe people would stop trying to jump the fence if the first lady weren’t taunting us by growing gardens full of that sweet, sweet kale.” –Jimmy Kimmel

Getting Out the Vote - It's now or never

  - promoted by david

I was going going door to door earlier this week and met a voter who was definitely planning on voting for the Democratic ticket. I reminded him that election day was coming up on Tuesday and gave him the opening and closing times. He realized that he will be out of town during voting hours. I explained that he could vote absentee at City Hall. He promised me he would vote absentee and thanked me for making sure he had the opportunity to vote.

We will win this election with our ground game. The polls show that voters are all over and the situation is very fluid. We can make a difference with our GOTV efforts. We will win this election, one voter at a time.

I spoke on Thursday at a rally with Governor Patrick I was channeling my inner Maura Healey and urged everyone to keep on going until the final buzzer. In Maura’s own words:

I believe you keep fighting every second till you hear the buzzer. And as strong as you are as an individual player, your team makes you a lot stronger. That’s how you win.

We need you as part of the team. I’m listing a number of events that people can join this weekend.

Martha Coakley Events
There are many opportunities to meet Martha Coakley and other Democratic leaders at events across the state. Martha is at all of the following events. Please come and bring friends. If you can’t take time from GOTV, send friends.

Don't like the way things are going? Vote United Independent

An alternative is presented. - promoted by david

My name is Angus Jennings, I’m a professional planner with a specialty in housing & economic development.  I’ve worked about half my career in Massachusetts town halls, and half my career as a consultant running my own small business.  As a consultant, I have worked on projects in nearly 40 cities and towns across the Commonwealth, many working for the community itself.  I was born in Springfield, grew up in Wilbraham, have lived in Quincy and Marshfield, and now my wife, young daughter and I call Concord home. Until this year, I had been a registered Democrat all my voting life, and was even on the Board of Directors of the Young Dems of Massachusetts (Mass Democratic Future) back in the early 2000’s.  On Nov. 4, I’ll be on the ballot as the United Independent Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor- my running mate is Evan Falchuk.  I’m here to humbly ask for your vote.

Thomas Menino, 1942-2014.

Sad news. One of my favorite Menino stories was when he introduced the outdoor performances of Bizet's great opera "Carmen," held on the Boston Common back in 2002, as "Cahmen on the Cahmon." The polls showing that well over half of Boston's residents had met Menino personally continue to astonish. He will be sorely missed. RIP, Mr. Mayor. - promoted by david

Sad news over the WCVB twitter feed, Boston has lost one of her finest sons and benefactors. Mayor Tom Menino was one of the happiest politicians I ever met, and someone who clearly felt blessed to have the job he did and treasured every minute of it. There are a lot of facts behind a complicated public figure. Three stand out to me.

The first is personal, I met the man at the L Street bathouse during the 2004 Democratic Convention where I volunteered to help set up the NY Delegation Party. He came personally, with just one black town car and two plains clothes cops to shake all our hands, chat with us a bit, and chat with all the kitchen staff and janitorial staff setting up the event. He showed up before the delegates to make sure he had that face time with us and let us know we were important ambassadors for the city.

The second, is that he is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, major political figure in our state or the country to endorse gay marriage. Marc Solomon, chair of Freedom to Marry, has said on record that there would be no gay marriage in America if it weren’t for Tom Menino. He was an founder and co-chair of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. Also a co-founder and first go-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, one of the largest and most effective gun control groups in the country.

The third is that he left office with 74% approval rating, and poll after poll showed almost 60% of the city had met their Mayor personally at one time or another. He never forgot the people he was elected to serve. Thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Go fish! Baker baits the media

Charlie Baker’s tears have launched a fishing expedition for the old man and the sea: the subject of his moving story. So far, nothing, which doesn’t help the Republican (the story is “real to me,” he says, a somewhat egotistical standard). Jonathan Carvalho investigated for New Bedford’s Standard Times (hat tip to Commonwealth Magazine’s excellent The Download free email service):

Questions surface about Charlie Baker’s story about a New Bedford fisherman

The day after Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker emotionally recounted the story of a New Bedford fisherman in a televised debate, people intimately involved with the city’s fishing industry and high school athletics say they don’t know of a family that fits Baker’s description. …

“No one comes to mind that I can think of,” said Jim Kendall, president of New Bedford Seafood Consulting. “I’ve gotten several calls on this, texts and emails, too. … I’ve checked around, and no one seems to be able to put a finger on who it would be.”

Kendall said he believes he would have pinned it down because he’s been working in the fishing industry for 51 years.

“I’ve been running several fishery groups in the city, that’s all I do,” he said. “I would think I have a pretty good grip, if not knowing the individual, knowing who to reach out to, and so far I’ve been unsuccessful.” …

A source with a longtime association with New Bedford High athletics said after many years familiar with the program, he did not know of any two brothers at NBHS receiving football scholarships, never mind going fishing instead.

Meanwhile, Yvonne Abraham underlines Baker’s emotional fragility to make a broader point – a sharp contrast, one might add, to the maturity, experience and resolve Coakley displayed at the debate:

Republican Charlie Baker was going along nicely in Tuesday night’s debate, exuding competence, speaking with authority about taxes and paid sick leave.

Then the gubernatorial hopeful came apart, telling of meeting a fisherman ruined by federal catch rules. “I may not make it through this story,” he began, promptly succumbing to tears.

New Falchuk Ad Calls for Third Party

I have embedded the ad I believe JimC is referring to in the post. - promoted by Bob_Neer

No one’s going to read this or comment on it, but I feel duty-bound, since I slammed him for what I considered a less than candid approach on his bumper stickers. Evan Falchuk’s new TV ad explicitly says (to paraphrase), “Independents are the majority, we need our own party.” And he names the party.

Of course I dispute the argument; independents are supposed to be independent. But props to him for being direct.

The crying game

The #MAGov news of the day – first reported by Matt Stout at the Herald, as far as I know, but since picked up at the Globe and elsewhere – is that Charlie Baker’s emotional story about the fisherman, the retelling of which caused him to choke up in last night’s debate, stems from an encounter during his 2010 run for Governor, not from this campaign.

Is that a problem?  Hard to say.  On the one hand, there’s no doubt that the problems facing fishermen in Massachusetts remain real, and that they are a legitimate issue for any gubernatorial candidate to care a lot about.

But on the other, the revelation that Baker’s story is actually about five years old does, at least to me, make Baker’s emotional breakdown during the debate seem less authentic, for several reasons.

  1. If you listen to the debate again, you’ll see that, while Baker never actually says that he heard the story recently, the way he presented it seems designed to make you think that was the case.  The question, after all, was “when was the last time you cried,” and he refers to the fisherman story as one he heard during “the course of the campaign.”  He didn’t actually say “this” campaign, so maybe Baker’s setup qualifies as accurate (the Politifact rating would probably be “half true”).  But I came away from the story with the clear (mis)impression that Baker’s encounter with the fisherman was fairly recent.
  2. That leads me to think that part of Baker’s debate prep was how to respond to some kind of question relating to a campaign trail event that somehow meant a lot to Baker, and that Baker and his team decided that this story, even though it’s five years old, was the best one available.
  3. And if you think about it, it makes sense that Baker would choose this story.  It’s totally guy-friendly – the fisherman was a “big huge guy,” and his sons were football stars, so there’s relatively little danger of opening up a masculinity gap by crying over their story (the latest WBUR poll shows Baker up 12 points among men, and he can’t afford to lose many of them since Coakley leads among women).
  4. More importantly, Baker’s takeaway from the story is that – and this is an exact quote – “I feel we have let the federal government drive the data process associated with this, which has driven the rulemaking process, and has left these people with no one.”
  5. See how perfect that is?  An undeniably touching story about a Massachusetts family in very difficult circumstances is happening because of bad data.  It’s the perfect rejoinder to the charge that Baker is a data-driven numbers wonk who doesn’t care about actual humans.  It lets him say that data really does matter, and good data can help people.
  6. I’m not even saying that Baker is wrong about that.  I don’t know enough about the very difficult issues surrounding MA’s fisheries to have much of an opinion on the details, but it is true that having accurate data on what is actually happening in the fisheries is the key to formulating good policy.  I’m just saying that, IMHO, it is no accident that Baker chose to tell this 5-year-old story, rather than a more recent one – surely, someone on the campaign trail this year has moved Baker to tears? – that wouldn’t have let him make his point as clearly.

So.  Was Baker play-acting?  I have no idea – if he was, he’s pretty good at it (certainly, he convinced Globe columnist Thomas Farragher).  But nobody should think that Baker told that story solely because it’s actually the last time he cried (was it really? there’s no way of knowing).  I’d lay good money that he had practiced telling that story as part of his debate preparation, that he was looking for an opportunity to tell it throughout the debate, and that he told it when the moment presented itself (on a silver platter, as it turned out).

Lost in all of this, unfortunately, is Coakley’s response to the “most recent cry” question.  Coakley said that she had cried that day at the memorial service for John Laughlin, a/k/a long-time BMGer striker57.  We miss him too.

We Should All Cry After Seeing Charlie Cry Tonight

An emotional moment. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Let me get this straight. Charlie Baker cried or pretended to cry for a fisherman with two sons for whom he refused college scholarships  (approx $400,000.00)  so they could instead become fishermen like him and his father before him but the federal fishing regulations are killing the business.

Get me a box Kleenex.

Are you fucking kidding me? Maybe this fisherman should not have acted like the most selfish father in the history of the world and let his kids take the college scholarships.

Anyway, this is what gets Charlie worked up on the campaign trail. I guess the mothers of kids who overdosed or came home in body bags from Iraq and Afghanistan don’t get him as teared up. Or maybe they do but he’s never engaged them.

How about those Republican policies Charlie? On the other hand Dems protecting overfished waters by a dying industry is worthy of a good cry.

So let’s get Martha elected. Then we can watch the disaster of her governorship play out for the next four years. Still better than the irreversible problems, dangerous policies, and questionable people Charlie will bring to the office.

Calling All Massachusetts Women

Thanks for the heads-up about this - I was not aware of it. Here is the full list of non-binding "public policy questions" appearing around the state this year. - promoted by david

An insidious non-binding referendum has appeared on the ballot in multiple districts in Massachusetts.  Women, wake up!

This non-binding referendum reads as follows: Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that requires all non-hospital facilities performing more than 10 abortions a year to be licensed as “clinics” and to be inspected at least every two years by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health?

This was placed on the ballot by the Mass Citizens for Life in vulnerable districts as follows:

Northeastern paid ZERO pilot funds this past year. ZERO.

Fuel for the ever-smoldering fire of proposals to revise the laws and tax large non-profit educational institutions in the Commonwealth. - promoted by Bob_Neer

For anyone unfamiliar with PILOT funds (payments en lieu of taxes), they’re the chump change cities sometimes ask wealthy “nonprofit” organizations like the city of Boston’s colleges and hospitals to pay up in return for city services, like having paved roads, a sewer system and first responders.

Approximately 50% of all the land in Boston is owned by non profit organizations, land which would be worth nearly $250 million a year in annual revenue if it was taxed.

This means residents have an unfair tax burden while rich universities which charge students tens of thousands a year more than state school — and have hundreds of millions or billions in the bank — pay little or nothing for most of their property.

Boston’s colleges have a horrible track record on fulfilling their PILOT obligations. Of those, Northeastern’s rank greed is by far the most embarrassing — and after they’ve completely stiffed the city this year, dining on its services and ditching when the city asked it to at least go dutch on the tip, it is time to cry foul.

If Northeastern and the litany of colleges and other wealthy nonprofit institutions in the city can’t pay a measly 12.5% of what their tax bill would be in PILOT funds, it is time to tax them in full.

Read here for the Globe’s story on this. There are many more bad actors.