Report from the People's Climate March

Awesome: I was among an estimated 310,000 final count 400,000 people in NYC yesterday, taking the streets to call attention to the ongoing catastrophe that is climate change, and to show power, numbers and commitment. That was one long line, stretching from 81st and Central Park West down to 34th and 11th, with a jaunt eastward to 6th between 59th and 42nd Streets. I am told that the folks at the front of the line finished the march at about the time that those of us at the back of the line even got started.



The energy was joyous; the crowd was diverse in age; and somewhat so in ethnicity. I was wearing a coat and tie and brought my “I’M A CLIMATE DAD” sign, both of which invited curious comment from other marchers. But this way, I met and talked to a number of folks: the young man with a gentle voice and hipster beard, with the sign saying “I’m walking for MY NIECE”; two veterans of the Climate Ride, wearing their bike shirts (man I want to do the NYC -> DC Ride someday – next year!); a young woman from western Alberta, who lamented how difficult it was to get people involved, even at the epicenter of the Keystone XL controversy; oh, and I got interviewed by an LA filmmaker, asking what I thought of all these Millennial youngsters. Too funny. Lesson: If you want to stand out at a protest rally, wear a suit.

I gather that this event has been mostly ignored by the TV network news, as if we needed more evidence how pathetic and useless they are. NPR gave the march and the UN climate meeting reasonably thorough treatment this morning. My cousin in Nebraska said she’d heard nothing of the march, to which I’m not surprised. Thank goodness for social media, I suppose.

But the march is not merely intended for the UN conferees, or the media. It’s for the marchers to see each other, to recognize that many individuals bear this weight on their consciences, and that we are there for each other. (This was the great revelation of lefty political blogging in the dark years of the mid-2000′s as well.) And indeed, climate has to be brought out of the shadows, out of its niche, as it were. It is a profoundly unsettling topic; I found myself agreeing with this HuffPo contributor that climate is a “conversation killer” that mostly makes people want to think about something else. I understand and empathize with that reaction, which I even get from some the most “enlightened”, progressive folks I know. In my self-consciousness I’ve suspected that talking about it gives one the air of an earnest, well-meaning eccentric, to whom one might smile indulgently and say, “Well of course it’s important, but the issue of the moment is really XYZ.” Hell, I don’t want to think about it either.

But merely that it doesn’t swallow us all at once, or that it doesn’t possess a malevolent human face with a nasty cruel mustache, does not mean that action is not pressing. The window of opportunity for us to stave off even greater catastrophe is vanishingly small, not just in geoscientific terms but in human political terms. To say it’s not urgent is like being content that only your first floor flooded, but the second floor is still dry; or that you can ignore your diabetes because you’ve still got one working kidney.

The march gives us something a bit more hopeful to talk about — itself. We hear not just the footsteps of the climate threat, but our own footsteps on the street. It sounded good.

PS: And now, #floodwallstreet is a thing:


Coverup on Charlie Baker and Chris Christie "Pay-to-Play" Investigation?

A nice little bit of business. - promoted by Bob_Neer

One thing we’ve learned from Charlie Baker and the Paul Loscocco fiasco of his last campaign is that he’s not afraid of backroom shenanigans.

Fortune magazine is reporting that New Jersey has quietly sold their investment in the General Catalyst Partners fund which was being investigated by New Jersey’s state Auditor.

The New Jersey Division of Investments has quietly sold its stake in a venture capital fund managed by General Catalyst Partners, following allegations of impropriety related to a political contribution from General Catalyst “executive-in-residence” and current Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker.

So why is this interesting?

It remains unclear if the sale negates public release of the auditor’s report.

Seems pretty convenient, huh?

But not to worry, Charlie Baker is all about transparency.

A spokeswoman for General Catalyst declined to comment, except to say that the firm has been cooperating with New Jersey. A NJ Treasury spokesman declined comment, while a Baker campaign spokesman has not yet returned a request for comment.

The NFL gained tax-exempt status as a nonprofit in 1944. They pay their CEO 44 mln ...

Is is absurd that the CEO of a non-profit can earn $44 million and the organization can be tax exempt. - promoted by Bob_Neer


The NFL gained tax-exempt status as a nonprofit in 1944. A designation in the tax code — 501(c)(6) — enables the league to function like a trade organization. The league office is not required to pay taxes but individual teams are.

Roger Goodell makes 44 mln a year . There is no way the NFL should have a non profit status. Coakley should be a leader and sue the NFL for the portion of taxes due to Mass.



Globe and Herald take different approach to reporting story of missing Afghan soldiers

As you may have heard, three officers from the Afghan army who were participating in training exercises at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod have not been seen since Saturday evening, when they were last known to be at a mall in Hyannis.  It’s not a trivial story, and it’s right for people to pay attention.

That said, I find the reporting at the Globe and Herald instructive.  Each paper reports the basic facts; each includes some facts that the other omits.  Let’s compare.  The facts omitted by the other paper are in bold.


The search continues this morning for three Afghan National Army soldiers who went missing from a training exercise at Joint Base Cape Cod.

Major Jan Mohammad Arash, Captain Mohammad Nasir Askarzada, and Captain Noorullah Aminyar were last seen at the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis on Saturday evening, according to Colonel James Sahady, a Massachusetts National Guard spokesman.

“I am told that they pose no immediate threat,” Sahady said by telephone Sunday night. “They are all senior-ranked soldiers that were allowed to come here.”

Sahady said this morning that the men all had valid visas and passports and were free to come and go from the base. Sahady said that further comment could be coming soon from US Central Command.


Three Afghanistan National Army officers were reported missing from an international military training exercise at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod after they disappeared without explanation.

Maj. Jan Mohammad Arash, Capt. Mohammad Nasir Askarzada and Capt. Noorullah Aminyar were all last seen at Cape Cod Mall on Saturday, the day they were reported missing, said Massachusetts National Guard Col. James Sahady.

“There is no indication that they pose any threat to the public,” Sahady said. In Afghanistan, shootings of American soldiers by rogue Afghan soldiers has been an ongoing problem. Last month, Maj. Gen. Harold Greene was killed by an Afghan soldier in an attack that wounded several other NATO and Afghan soldiers.

Just though that was worthy of note.  Certainly, we all hope that this episode ends without incident.

Joke Revue: "Obama To Assure Nation That ISIS Campaign Will Be Drawn-Out Ordeal They’re Used To"

The Onion:

Obama To Assure Nation That ISIS Campaign Will Be Drawn-Out Ordeal They’re Used To

WASHINGTON—Previewing tonight’s televised primetime address to the nation, White House aides confirmed that President Obama will reassure Americans that the impending military campaign against ISIS will be the exact same type of open-ended, drawn-out conflict that they are used to. “The president recognizes that citizens may be uneasy about this operation, and that’s why he will use tonight’s speech to comfort the American public by reminding them that they have been through armed engagements without clear end dates or even concrete objectives plenty of times before, and that this case is no different,” said senior White House advisor Daniel Pfeiffer, adding that the president will assuage viewers’ concerns by laying out precisely how the U.S. will mire itself in the same old quagmire that citizens have grown accustomed to over the years. “The president’s message is clear: This will be just another one of our routine intractable engagements in the region—it’s going to be unending, it’s going to be expensive, and it’s going to affect our credibility within the international community. There will not be any surprises for folks to worry about.” Pfeiffer added that by the end of Obama’s speech, Americans should be able to rest easy and just let this situation play out like they know it will.


Largest Climate-Change March in History Unlikely to Convince Idiots

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – A climate-change march that organizers claim was the largest on record is nevertheless unlikely to change the minds of idiots, a survey of America’s idiots reveals.

Despite bringing attention to a position that is embraced by more than ninety per cent of the world’s scientists, the People’s Climate March, which took place on Sunday in New York City, left a broad majority of the nation’s idiots unconvinced.

Female G.O.P. Senators Propose Earning Seventy-one Per Cent As Much As Male Colleagues

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Two days after voting against the Paycheck Fairness Act, a law that would help women to obtain equal pay, the four female Republicans in the United States Senate co-sponsored a bill that would slash their salaries to seventy-one per cent of what their male colleagues earn.

The senators—Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)—said that the best way to take a stand against big government’s intrusive attempts to mandate equal pay for women was to take a twenty-nine-per-cent pay cut themselves.

“The days of the federal government forcing us to earn as much as male senators are over,” Ayotte said. “We will not stop fighting until we make twenty-nine per cent less.”

White House Vows to Use Every Synonym for War Against ISIS

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Amid some confusion as to whether it had, in fact, declared war on ISIS, on Friday afternoon, the White House attempted to clarify matters by vowing to use “every synonym for war at our disposal.”

After the Secretary of State John Kerry asserted that the United States was not at war, only to be contradicted later by the White House’s statement that it was, the White House spokesman Josh Earnest held a press conference to state that “no synonyms for war have been taken off the table.”

“Yes, this is a war,” Earnest said. “But it is also a conflict, a campaign, a struggle, a fracas, and, if you will, a melee.”

Daniel Kurtzman:

“The official ballot is one line: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ And that’s it. Why is it that I have to go through 18 pages of terms and conditions to download iOS 8 while a whole country can secede from the United Kingdom by checking a box that says ‘Yes’?” –Jimmy Kimmel

“The White House today came out in support of requiring police officers to wear body cameras at all times. It’s a great way for fans to keep up with their favorite NFL players.” –Seth Meyers

“South African sports officials have ruled that Oscar Pistorius is free to run competitively again. Shortly after the announcement, he was signed by the NFL.” –Conan O’Brien

“Mitt Romney we think is going run again. He says he has no plans to run, but he said if he did run, this time things would turn out differently. Yes they would. This time he would get his ass kicked by a woman.” –Bill Maher

“Forty-seven percent of Americans feel less safe than before 9/11. But enough about the NRA.” –Bill Maher

“British Prime Minister David Cameron went to Scotland this week to persuade citizens of the country to vote ‘no’ on leaving the U.K. He said, ‘It’s never worked out for anyone-well except America, and Canada, Australia, India, and . . . I’ll stop talking now.’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Vice President Dick Cheney had a closed door meeting with House Republicans to discuss foreign policy issues. He wanted to sit down with them and have a real heart to…whatever is in there at this point.” –Jimmy Fallon

Casinos and Collateral Political Damage

Intriguing counterfactuals for your Sunday cogitation. On a related topic, don't miss the amusing front-page story about Steve Wynn in today's Globe. Wynn promises an endless fount of hilarious quotes as long as he's building a casino here. Today's gem, about when Wynn's project won the Boston license:
When he finally won, “I turned to my wife, [Andrea,] and I said, ‘Oooh, Mohegan Sun, tough day.’ ”
That said, I respect Wynn's view on the casino ballot question. He's consistently welcomed it, and he did so again in today's article.
[H]e said he is glad the question is on the ballot. “If there is a vocal group that is antigaming, that has to affect regulators and everybody else, whether they admit it or are aware of it or not,” he said. “It colors our presence. The idea that the citizens of Massachusetts are actually going to speak on the subject makes life simpler.”
- promoted by david

BMGer Peter Porcupine recently observed that Deval Patrick will never be President because of casinos. My own view is that Deval would never be President regardless, but this did get me thinking about the collateral damage from casinos.

Imagine this campaign if …

Martha Coakley, Democrat not tied to casinos, runs against Charlie Baker, Republican not tied to casinos. I think her currently way-too-thin lead (three points in one poll) is much wider.

Steve Grossman runs as a successful treasurer who holds progressive positions. Casinos never come up, and he doesn’t push for them. He is then a more viable alternative to Coakley. (No, I don’t think he would have won, but it would have helped.)

Warren Tolman runs as a solid union guy, and he never dabbles in the casino business. (Remember, Maura Healey first separated herself from Tolman by coming out against casinos.)

Does Berwick even run? He had the clearest anti-casino position, and it made him my eventual second choice. If he doesn’t run, what happens with Kayyem? What would have happened if she ran anti-casino early on?

This is all unknowable, and probably pointless. But it bothers me that we’ve come to a point where both candidates for governor are pro-casino. (As you may recall, our last nominee said he opposed them in 2006.) I think it’s doing damage to our side.

Why? Because, I assume, deep down, Martha Coakley, Steve Grossman, all the others … never wanted casinos. Sure, they saw the potential benefit, and they were receptive to the jobs argument, but they know casinos are bad medicine, and they always sound conflicted when they discuss them. More damage.

Thank God we have the referendum, and thanks again David for your work on it. I think repeal is going to pass.

Charlie Baker whiffs on a softball

Charlie Baker, it is said, is trying to close the yawning gender gap reflected in the polls (the latest Globe poll shows Coakley holding a 16-point lead among women; WBUR has her up 20).  He’s got a whole “Women for Charlie” thing going.  At one of these events, he got asked a really easy question.  And, well, this is what happened.

Oh dear, oh dear.  Joan Vennochi tries to set Charlie straight.

The softball queries from family, friends, and running mate Karyn Polito were silly and insulting to female voters he is targeting — and so were the candidate’s answers.

That’s the judgment of a horrified Baker supporter who called afterwards to say when it comes to talking to women in settings like that, her candidate needs an intervention….

Fox 25’s Sharman Sacchetti … asked whether Baker believes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should be fired after the domestic violence incident involving former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice. “If we fired everybody every time we got into one of these situations, I don’t know, I would like to see more data and more information,” said Baker. So much for heart.

It’s especially good if you repeat Baker’s answer in robot voice.  ”I – don’t – know – I – would – like – to – see – more – data – and – more – information.”  ”MORE – DATA.”  ”MORE – DATA.”

With weak performances like that, Baker is not doing anything to erase his robotic number-crunchy reputation.

Wonk Post: the decline in land-line phones

Paul's conclusion "So in many ways we’re back to pre-radio days, where (absent literal neighbor-to-neighbor) the most effective political communication mechanisms are standouts and lit-drops." - promoted by Bob_Neer

From Mass.Numbers:

While the article refers to telephone sampling techniques, as opposed to internet polling, the graph is also an illustration of how phone banking is occurring in an increasingly cell phone-only environment.

Given this, campaigns shouldn’t be surprised when their phone bank efforts suppress turnout, for the following reasons:

  • Cell phones have caller ID functions, and people resent calls from folk they don’t know.
  • Many people have prepaid phone plans, which means that they pay for incoming calls; and few people like to pay to be telemarketed.
  • The broader culture is so fragmented that, for many people, the only effective political contact is face-to-face. (Social media tends to preach to the choir, and reaches a point of diminishing returns pretty quickly.)  However, canvassers have to have some sort of organic ties to those voters they canvass, or the “folk they don’t know” dynamic comes into play.

So in many ways we’re back to pre-radio days, where (absent literal neighbor-to-neighbor) the most effective political communication mechanisms are standouts and lit-drops.

Both of MA's Senators Voted Against Arming the Syrian Rebels

  - promoted by david

Today, the Senate voted on the Continuing Resolution that passed the House yesterday, with the funding authorization for Obama’s plan to arm the “moderate” Syrian rebels.

Last week, the New York Times had an excellent article on how defining clear-cut “moderates” in Syria is a near impossible feat, one asking for trouble:

“You are not going to find this neat, clean, secular rebel group that respects human rights and that is waiting and ready because they don’t exist,” said Aron Lund, a Syria analyst who edits the Syria in Crisis blog for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It is a very dirty war and you have to deal with what is on offer.”….

The Syrian rebels are a scattered archipelago of mostly local forces with ideologies that range from nationalist to jihadist. Their rank-and-file fighters are largely from the rural underclass, with few having clear political visions beyond a general interest in greater rights or the dream of an Islamic state.

Most have no effective links to the exile Syrian National Coalition, meaning they have no political body to represent their cause. And the coalition’s Supreme Military Council, which was intended to unite the moderate rebel forces, has all but collapsed.

The C.R. passed the Senate 78-22. Both Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey were among the 22 NO votes.

They were joined by only 8 other members of the Democratic caucus:

Mark Begich (D-AK)
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Pat Leahy (D-VT)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Here is the statement Elizabeth Warren issued on her vote:

I am deeply concerned by the rise of ISIS, and I support a strong, coordinated response, but I am not convinced that the current proposal to train and equip Syrian forces adequately advances our interests. After detailed briefings, I remain concerned that our weapons, our funding, and our support may end up in the hands of people who threaten the United States — and even if we could guarantee that our support goes to the right people, I remain unconvinced that training and equipping these forces will be effective in pushing back ISIS. I do not want America to be dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, and it is time for those nations in the region that are most immediately affected by the rise of ISIS to step up and play a leading role in this fight. Therefore, at this time, I cannot support funding for this specific action.

If we look at the two votes (McKeon amendment and Continuing Resolution) from the House last night as well, then we can say that if you live in MA-02 (McGovern), MA-03 (Tsongas), MA-04 (Kennedy), MA-05 (Clark), MA-06 (Tierney), or MA-07 (Capuano), then your full congressional representation voted against this latest misguided move to deepen US military involvement in the Middle East.

Biggest Game of Our Lives on November 4th Against Casinos, Media, Mobsters and Politicians. We Can Beat The Big Boys. Have to Work as One

A strategy is proposed. - promoted by david

Okay, bring it in. C’mon, gather ’round. Take a knee. Smoke ‘em if you guttem. Put down the goddamn cell phones before I smash every last one of them. I need you all to listen. It’s important.

In few weeks time we will playing the biggest game of our lives. I don’t care where you go from here and what you do in life. If you are victorious on November 4th and pass the ant-casino referendum you will have a beaten the largest and most powerful and moneyed group of individuals, institutions, wise guys and government entities ever assembled for for a campaign. Their game plan is to mislead and divert voters’ attention to the same old pro and con casino arguments.

So what we have to do is not let these people hi-jack our campaign. We must channel former MA Governor Ed King in his victorious 1978 Democratic primary win over Mike Dukakis by repeating our short concise complaint in every interview, speech, and advertisement. Corruption is running amok at the Gaming Commission!

Koch Influence on Higher Ed: Letter to New Suffolk University President

Certainly, if Koch donations are accompanied by "memoranda of understanding" rather than just being no-strings-attached gifts, the Suffolk community deserves to know the details. - promoted by david

President Smith,

As a proud alumna of Suffolk University, I’d first like to say: welcome to our University! New leadership means a fresh start and I’m excited to see what opportunities your presidency will present for the Suffolk community, past and present.

Because I love my alma mater and care about its future, last fall I began a campaign, Koch Free Zone, to bring attention the Kochs’ influence at Suffolk. As you may know, the Koch brothers, wealthy industrialists from Kansas, have give millions of dollars to colleges across the country in an attempt to influence academic research and class curriculum. The Kochs have donated over $750,000 to Suffolk since 2008, which is much more than many of these schools have received.

An independent New England?

You heard it here first in the NYT:

The details of Scotland’s grievances are almost the diametrical opposite of those of, say, the Tea Party or Swedish right-wingers. They want more social welfare spending rather than less, and have a strongly pro-green, antinuclear environmental streak. (Scotland’s threatened secession is less the equivalent of Texas pulling out of the United States, in that sense, than of Massachusetts or Oregon doing the same.)

It is amazing to me that what sparked a civil war in the United States is apparently just a matter for a one-day vote in the “United Kingdom,” but times are changing and nations are less important than they used to be — just ask the Europeans, or take a trip abroad and observe the extraordinary social, economic and linguistic commonalities that unite the world in comparison with, say, 1787. Perhaps we could keep using the dollar, and preserve the right to travel and work freely in the rest of what is now the United States.

Would we be better off on our own?