GOP 2016: Trump-Carson. You heard it here first.

I’m calling it right now.  The 2016 Republican nominee for president will be Donald Trump.  And Ben Carson will be Trump’s running mate.

You don’t think it’s going to be Trump?  Who else is it going to be?  Jeb Bush, the supposed choice of the establishment, who has turned out to be an absolutely terrible candidate for president, who foolishly lets himself get baited by Trump, and who sinks a little further with each new poll?  Scott Walker, who looked like a real contender until he started, you know, saying things in public, and until people started looking at his actual record in Wisconsin?  Marco Rubio, whose positions on some issues (e.g., abortion) are so extreme as to be nearly disqualifying, who also has failed to meet expectations, and who is consistently polling worse than fellow Floridian Jeb Bush – to say nothing of his epic fail when delivering the GOP response to the 2013 State of the Union address?  Carly Fiorina, who is running on her business record which mostly consists of nearly managing to single-handedly destroy one of the most storied technology companies in America?  Ted Cruz, the only person the GOP establishment hates more than Donald Trump?  John Kasich, who will sink like a stone (all the way down from 4%) once GOP primary voters realize that he kinda likes Obamacare?  Christie?  Jindal?  Perry?  Huckabee?  Rand?  Come on.

Fact is, none of the other GOP candidates can figure out how to deal with Trump.  He baits them, and they keep falling for it.  He insults them, and they splutter and look awkward and sad about it.  It’s fair for GOP voters to ask if the other candidates can’t handle Donald Trump, HOW ARE THEY GOING TO HANDLE ISIS?  Or Hillary Clinton, for that matter?

Furthermore, Trump has figured out a couple of things that the other Republican candidates haven’t.  First, most Americans – and this includes most Republicans – basically like Social Security.  Trump does too, and to my knowledge he’s the only GOP candidate to say so.  Second, most Americans basically hate the fact that wealthy donors wield so much influence in politics.  Trump doesn’t need donors – he’s practically dead last in terms of fundraising – and he has been railing very effectively on this topic, declaring the campaign finance system “broken” and himself independent of it.  It’s something Trump says that even lefties sorta like.  Third, Trump – like most Americansthinks that really rich people (including himself) should be willing to pay more taxes, and he’s expressed interest in eliminating the infamous “carried interest” loophole that helps the hedge fund guys pay next to nothing.

And another thing: the old adage that people aren’t paying attention yet doesn’t really hold in this case.  Did you know, for example, that the GOP debate that aired in early August drew an estimated 24 million viewers, making it “the highest-rated primary debate in television history as well as the highest-rated non-sports cable telecast of all time in total viewers”?  Those are extraordinary statistics.  Sounds to me like people are paying attention.

I didn’t think this way a month ago, but the last month has been extraordinary (the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza described the Trump phenomenon as “the most amazing thing I have seen in all of my time covering politics”).  I don’t see Trump going anywhere any time soon.  He’s got all the money he needs.  He’s way up in the polls, and there’s no reason to think he’s not going to stay there for a while – his numbers have stayed high and even gone higher despite statements and actions that would have destroyed any other candidacy.  And, unfortunately, he’s got a message that is resonating.  Note, in this connection, that the combination of virulent nativist, anti-immigrant rhetoric with populist/left positions on some economic issues is not an entirely new idea, and has enjoyed some success elsewhere.

In short, Trump seems to me as likely as anyone (and more likely than most) to be the Republican nominee.  So, who would he pick to run with him?  Ben Carson strikes me as the most obvious choice.  Carson is (a) African-American, which would help Trump rebut the racism charge; (b) not a politician, which is consistent with Trump’s apparent belief that most (if not all) elected officials are nitwits; (c) actually pretty popular with Republican voters, at least right now; and (d) open to the possibility.  Furthermore, he’s one of the few other GOP contenders whom Trump hasn’t yet insulted.

So.  Trump-Carson 2016.  You heard it here first.

NRA Claims more victims

The campaign against gun safety waged by gun manufacturers and their lobbying arm the NRA has claimed more victims: this time professionals shot on live TV. Father of murdered 24-year old reporter Alison Parker put his finger on the problem. NYT:

“I’m going to do something, whatever it takes, to get gun legislation, to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about closing loopholes and background checks,” Mr. Parker said Wednesday night on Fox News. “This is not the last you’ve heard of me. This is something that is Alison’s legacy that I want to make happen.”

Thursday morning, on CNN, he said, “I’m for the Second Amendment, but there has to be a way to force politicians who are cowards in the pockets of the N.R.A. to make sensible laws to make sure crazy people can’t get guns.”

The National Rifle Association did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

The NRA and its members bear direct responsibility for this tragedy, and every other killing of innocents by lunatics with guns in this country, such as for example the Sandy Hook, CT massacre, because they oppose gun safety legislation.

Why on earth would Elizabeth Warren want to be Joe Biden's VP?

There’s been a great deal of breathless speculation following the meeting between Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, much of it centered on the (entirely hypothetical so far) possibility of Biden’s jumping into the race for president and announcing that Warren would be his running mate.  It would make a huge amount of sense from Biden’s perspective: announcing a ticket from the get-go is a bold, attention-getting move that would not only propel Biden into a tight race for the Democratic nomination, but would also create a powerful, double-barreled campaign machine with Biden and Warren able to make twice as many campaign appearances as any other candidate.  And Warren’s presence on the ticket would of course neutralize a good deal of Bernie Sanders’ appeal, and would shore up Biden’s appeal to the left.

What I don’t see – at all, really – is why Warren would do it.

Let’s start with the obvious: Warren could have run for president this year.  A lot of people wanted her to.  And she had a good chance of winning.  Yet she absolutely, vigorously, and repeatedly declined, until finally the press believed her and stopped bugging her about it.  So … if she actually did want to be president, wouldn’t she have, you know, run for president?

Second, let’s assume that she actually does want to be president, but didn’t want to take on Hillary Clinton, or didn’t think she had enough foreign policy gravitas yet, or whatever.  Becoming Biden’s VP could resolve those problems, but only if (a) Biden wins the nomination; (b) Biden wins the presidency; (c) a President Biden serves only one term (if he were to serve two, Warren would be 74 when she finally got her chance); and (d) Biden’s presidency is reasonably successful.  None of those is even close to a sure thing (let us all bear in mind Biden’s uncanny ability to say incredibly stupid things at the worst possible time).  The only saving grace for Warren is that she doesn’t have to give up her Senate seat to run with Biden this year.  But assuming that Biden loses, I really question whether Warren, whose national profile is enormously high already and is still on the upswing, would gain much profile from a national campaign as second banana (I think, in fact, that she might return to the Senate weaker than she is now); and if he wins, she’s consigned to at least four years of basically not being able to influence policy as much as she can now.

Third, she’s in a great spot right now.  She’s probably the most popular Senator in the country, and she’s got the job for as long as she wants it.  She is shaping the national debate.  She will be less effective in doing that as a candidate for, or as the actual, VP.

Fourth, as today’s Globe points out, Joe Biden’s record as an advocate for the people to whom Elizabeth Warren has devoted her career is not actually all that awesome.  The bankruptcy bill is the best, most public example of Warren and Biden vigorously disagreeing, with Warren calling out Biden by name as a problem in the New York Times.  Biden’s crime bill, too, had some pretty disastrous effects.  As a Senator, Biden’s record was really only OK, and we should all try to keep that in mind as speculation of his jumping into the race continues to swirl.

Fifth, the VP candidate traditionally plays the role of attack dog.  Perhaps Warren would decline that role.  But to the extent that she couldn’t, does she really want to be in the position of going after the first serious female candidate for president, and the sitting Senator whose economic views are probably closest to her own?

Personally, I think Warren would be much better off staying right where she is.  I see little upside for her to sign on with Biden, and a lot of downside.  She’s in a fantastic position right now.  I hope she stays there.

Wonk Post: Democratic Candidate Net Favorables Among Latinos

It's ... inevitable! -Bob - promoted by david

From Gallup:

On the Democratic side, only Hillary Clinton is a familiar figure to a substantial segment of U.S. Hispanics. As a result, she is the only one with a sizable net favorable score. Three-quarters of Hispanics have an opinion of Clinton. With 58% viewing her favorably and 18% unfavorably, she has a net +40 favorable score. This is remarkably similar to Clinton’s image among Hispanics in advance of the 2008 presidential primaries, in June 2007, when 63% viewed her favorably and 20% unfavorably.

Bernie Sanders is the next-most-recognized Democrat, known to 25% of Hispanics. Nearly as many view Sanders unfavorably as favorably, giving him a +5 net favorable score. The other Democrats — Jim Webb, Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee — are each known to only 14% of Hispanics and, as a result, have even lower net favorable scores, ranging from +2 to -2.

Green Line Extension in Jeopardy Due to Cost Overruns

Rut roh... - promoted by david

Per Commonwealth Magazine:

Recently estimated at about $2 billion – which doesn’t include the cost of financing – the full cost of adding seven new trolley stations in East Cambridge, Somerville and Medford could wind up as much as $1 billion over budget, MBTA Interim General Manager Frank DePaola told reporters on Monday. Officials who briefed the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday afternoon are now looking to renegotiate with the contractor and alter the plans.

White Skanska Kiewit (WSK), the company awarded construction of the project under a unique procurement process, now estimates construction of those first three stations to cost $898 million, throwing into question the affordability of the plan to build a total of seven stations ending near Tufts University.

“Everything’s on the table, and everything includes canceling the project, but that’s not where we want to go, but we need a project we can afford to build,” Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack told reporters Monday.

*bolding my addition

My takeaways:

There are five things I would ask folks to consider before opposing this project.

1) It’s a federally required project

The Big Dig settlement REQUIRED a mass transit expansion for Somerville to offset the pollution from big dig construction and new highways

2) It’s an investment in the future

The MBTA is a mess, cutting back on expansion limits the constituency to the inner city-we need suburban expansion to expand the political constituency and ridership for mass transit. Its a win win-more voters will vote for it, more local officials will want it, and when ridership expands the financial sustainability increases. Not to mention getting cars off the road.

3) It’s a revenue problem not a spending problem

The MBTA was artificially saddled with pension debt, in a similar way to the postal service, and used as an ATM by politicians to pay for other programs. It’s part of a starve the beast ideology, cut services so they suck, cut taxes, and then tell folks the services suck since government is still too big-cut and repeat many more times over.

4) Proof that privatization increases costs and PACHECO Law still needed

Folks want to eliminate the Pacheco law which forces private contractors to prove their services will be more cost effective than a public and/or union backed project. This shows why private bidders frequently underestimate costs to be competitive and then lock you into jacked up rates. Same thing happened on the commuter rail.

5) Definitely Audit the shit out of this group

I am not saying fiscal responsibility goes out the window, I am saying this project is too important to let this setback kill it. But definitely audit WSK and perhaps find a way to reopen the bidding if it shows deliberate overcharging. Bechtel definitely got away with deliberately overcharging for the Big Dig-a fiasco that happened under Charlie Baker’s watch I might add when he was Weld’s budget manager.

Just because it’s getting expensive and complicated, doesn’t mean it can’t be managed right or costs can’t be brought under control. It’s a project that is essential to the health of the region and it’s future.

POLITICO debuts "Massachusetts Playbook"

Great idea for Politico to go local, and also to hire Lauren Dezenski who is a terrific reporter. - promoted by david

POLITICO began distributing an email today called the Massachusetts Playbook, along with similar for at least a few other states, highlighting state political stories with a bit of other stuff thrown in.  Those who wish to subscribe may do so here.  Today’s edition is viewable here.  This can be an open thread on topics discussed in today’s edition.

Israeli Mossad Chief Throws Peace-Bomb Into Iran Debate

"Peace bomb", excellent. Pleased that both of our Senators have endorsed the deal. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

Yesterday on the PBS Newshour, there was a shocker when the former head of Israel’s intelligence and special operations agency, the Mossad, Efraim Halevy, endorsed the Iran Agreement  (http://video.pbs.org/video/2365550482/), saying:

“I believe that this agreement blocks the roads to Iranian nuclear capability for at least a decade.  And I believe that the arrangements that have been agreed between the parties as such give us a credible answer to the Iranian nuclear threat at least for a decade if not longer.”

Halevy said that there had been a historic shift in the Iranian position that it was their sovereign right to pursue the nuclear program, adding that the Iranians had “caved in”.

Most notably, Halevy discounted the furor over recent media accounts of the UN-International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) side deal that would permit the Iranians to use their own inspectors:

“The Director of this agency, Yukiya Amano, has impeccable credentials. Up until now Israel has respected Yukiya Ano – respected his judgments – and I think we should wait and see the ultimate process of the negotiations he is now conducting with the Iranians and how he will be satisfied at the end of this year with the arrangements that he is setting up to monitor these activities.”

Halevy said that he expected Iran to cheat but that this is the whole point of the monitoring provisions of the agreement, and that the motto here should be “Mistrust and Verify”, and that “there is going to be a verification system in place which is second none and has no precedent.”  The monitoring machinery that will be put in place by the United States “will not be in place if the agreement is scuttled by the U.S. Congress’” the Mossad chief added.

This is a peace-bomb from the ultimate Israeli security expert in support of the Obama Administration and its diplomatic and foreign policy competency, including Secretary of State John Kerry and his team, and should be trumpeted from the hillsides.  Right now.  Spread the word.

 

Our Massachusetts police state: So many police -- so little policing

Two appalling tales. - promoted by david


I am struck by two simultaneous episodes of terrible policing right here in Massachusetts this week.

The first is the Home invasion by a SWAT team attacking an innocent Hispanic couple in Worcester (emphasis mine):

A woman said police and a SWAT team mistakenly raided her Worcester apartment and that she was frisked by an officer before being allowed to put clothes on.

Marianne Diaz told the Telegram & Gazette she awoke to state police detectives and a SWAT team breaking down her door on Wednesday morning.

The 23-year-old Diaz said she knelt with her frightened daughters beside her as police officers with shields pointed guns in her direction.

“Stop (expletive) crying and take care of your (expletive) kids,” she claimed one officer told her.

She said a female officer later frisked her even though she was naked. Ten minutes passed before she was allowed to cover herself up, she added.

Diaz’s fiance, Bryant Alequin, said he suffered a minor back injury during the raid. Their roommate, Joshua Matos, said doctors told him his wrist — which had been recovering from a fracture — was refractured.

Once again an innocent Hispanic woman is abused, children are terrorized, and her Hispanic fiance was injured. Once again a District Attorney (Joseph Early) defends the actions of these uniformed thugs.

Meanwhile, a drunken white racist harrassed and assaulted minority (Black, Asian, and Indian) passengers on a Red Line train Friday night. Fortunately, the episode was videotaped by another passenger.

When the woman who videotaped the incident reported the assault to MBTA police — complete with this raw video — the MBTA police nevertheless allowed the white perpetrator to walk away. Once again, a white male perpetrator terrorizes and assaults minority passengers and is allowed to walk away unimpeded by uniformed and heavily-armed police. I’m reminded of the similarly lackadaisical response of MBTA police to the Red Line car operating at full speed with an open door. Why are there so many MBTA police, so heavily armed, when they have so little concern for actual emergencies?

I’m glad that at least MBTA Lt. Richard Sullivan agrees that “Conduct and behavior such as [this] will not be tolerated on the MBTA” — at least when on-camera and on the record for local journalists. I’m glad that Mr. Sullivan promises to “talk to all parties involve (sic), to include the police officers.” I can’t help but wonder what, if any, disciplinary proceedings “talk to” includes.

Some of us want to believe that we here in Massachusetts are immune from the transformation of America into a police state, where state-sponsored uniformed and heavily-armed thugs harass, abuse, and injure innocent victims with impunity while ignoring clear evidence of crimes committed by favored demographic groups.

We are NOT immune.

I voted for Maura Healey as Attorney General. I take her at her word regarding police abuses like this. I await with interest her response to these two examples of terrible police work by state agencies within her jurisdiction.

THE GREATEST MAN WHO WAS PRESIDENT

Carter is, IMHO, our greatest ex-President. Best wishes to him and his family as he undergoes treatment. - promoted by david

Jimmy Carter wasn’t the greatest President but he should be honored and remembered as the greatest man who was President.

When asked about his future priorities after being diagnosed with cancer the 90 year old former President said : ” I’d like to see the last Guinea worm die before I do.”

The worm is ingested through contaminated water and can painfully grow to 3 feet long before it is removed with a stick through a lesion in the skin.  By providing water filtration methods the Carter Center has helped reduce worldwide cases from 3.6 million in 1986 to 11 known cases today.  What a remarkable humanitarian achievement !

Thank you, President Carter, for brokering peace between Israel and Egypt, for warning us to be good stewards of this precarious environment, for making human rights the cornerstone of our foreign policy, for returning the Panama Canal to its’ rightful owners and building homes for the homeless.  But most of all we are grateful because you cared about the suffering of your fellow human beings all over the world.

Fred Rich LaRiccia

Why Is State Rep. Garrett Bradley Doing Kinder Morgan's Dirty Work?

Good question. - promoted by Bob_Neer

State Rep. Garrett Bradley (D-Hingham)

Why is a Democratic state representative from suburban Boston filing a bill to let Kinder Morgan build a fracked gas pipeline through conservation land 150 miles away?

As Christian Schiavone reports for the Patriot Ledger, Bradley has outraged fellow Democrats and anti-pipeline activists by filing a bill to override conservation protections and let Kinder Morgan build a fracked gas pipeline on protected land in southern Berkshire County:

Bradley’s district includes parts of Hingham and Scituate and all of Cohasset and Hull. State Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, and state Rep. William Pignatelli, D-Lenox, whose districts include Sandisfield, told The Recorder newspaper, of Greenfield, that they refused to file the bill on behalf of Kinder Morgan.

Pipeline opponents on the South Shore and Western Massachusetts blasted Bradley for filing a bill involving a pipeline far outside his district. Rachael Brennan of Weymouth said Bradley’s decision to file the bill flies in the face of growing opposition to a different project, proposed by Spectra Energy, that would include pipelines in Weymouth and Braintree and a compressor station near the Fore River in North Weymouth.

“We’re very confused and very angry,” said Brennan, co-leader of the Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station. “Why is he doing this even in the wake of all the opposition in Weymouth?”

First – wow, things are going worse than I thought for Kinder Morgan. Your big play here is to get a rep from all the way across the state to try to screw over the district where you want to build your pipeline? Real savvy, guys. Bravo.

Back to Bradley. His claims he’s trying to lower energy costs are laughable – our fracked gas dependence is exactly what’s driving up our electricity bills. Deepening our addiction will only worsen the problem and keep killing our climate. There’s also the question of whether Massachusetts even needs a new pipeline – there are strong suspicions this is an export pipeline.

So what’s Bradley really up to here?

Maura Healey endorses Hillary Clinton

Interesting development... - promoted by david

per email…

Dear Friend,

It’s time.

It’s time we broke that highest and hardest glass ceiling.

It’s time for an economy that works for everyone, for pay equity, for higher education that’s affordable for all Americans.

It’s time for Hillary Clinton.

Today, I’m proud to announce to you, my friends and supporters, that I’ll be working hard this year and next to help elect Hillary and I hope you’ll join me.  Will you commit to joining me in New Hampshire on August 29?

Hillary is a lot of things to a lot of people. Activist, organizer, lawyer, mother and grandmother. Sunglass-wearing, tough-negotiating, world-traveling Secretary of State. History-making U.S. Senator and First Lady.

There’s a lot of reasons to be with her but let me tell you a few of mine.

She’s a leader who is willing to take on the big guys to protect the rest of us. As a young lawyer, she helped lead the Congressional investigation into President Nixon. In Arkansas, she taught law and ran legal clinics to help poor families and children. As the first woman Senator from New York, she took on Congress when it wasn’t doing enough for rural areas and small towns.

Now, she’ll be on our side as President. Her economic plan will fight the core challenge of our time – raising incomes for everyday Americans and closing the equality gap in earning. She’s proven she’ll be our champion and the champion for all Americans.

Hillary Clinton shares my vision for what America can be, she shares our values as Democrats and she’s the right leader at the right time. We’ve come too far for equality, for human rights, for economic justice to go backward.

I’m all in and I’m ready to hit the streets. On August 29th, I’ll be kicking off a canvass for Hillary in Exeter, New Hampshire, just down the road from where I grew up. Click here to sign up and join me in New Hampshire.

There’s a lot at stake. And it’s time for action.

Please join me,

Maura

Joe Curtatone,my Favorite Mayor, Hangs Black Lives Matter Banner from City Hall

Bravo, Mr. Mayor! - promoted by david

He has been for quite some time, from a thoughtful approach to smart growth, a wise road not taken on the Olympics proposal, and a commitment to sustainability and mixed use development that has allowed Somerville to leapfrog ahead of other municipalities. His commitment to e-government, 311, and an incubator of policy students working on issues affecting Somerville shows a vision beyond the confines of his densely packed small city. I have long viewed him as a future candidate for statewide or congressional office.

And his bold leadership today takes the cake. Joe Curatone has put City Hall on the side of Black Lives Matter activists, aligning his city, the police department he commands, and the entire community with the civil rights issue of our time. This is bold leadership and this is the kind of leadership every Democratic official in our state should be taking.

Why Curatone Made the Move:

“We see this as an important opportunity for an important national conversation” about race, Curtatone said. He said the move was “a very clear statement we are making to the community that we recognize that structural racism exists in our society; it exists in our public and private institutions.”

How Black Lives Matter Has Responded:

Stephanie Guirand, lead organizer of Black Lives Matter Cambridge, said the group was honored that Curtatone agreed to hang the banner and work with them closely.

“He said all the things we wanted to hear about being on the right side of history,” she said.

How it is a recognition that he needs to listen and improve:

When asked if he thinks racism is a problem in Somerville, he said, “Racism exists everywhere.”

“In our public institutions, we can remove it,” he said.

Somerville Police Endorse the Banner:

Curtatone said the partnership is not meant to criticize the work of the Somerville Police Department, which he referred to as a model for community-based policing efforts. He said it was actually a “statement of faith” in the department.

“They’re fantastic,” he said, adding that the police chief supports the cause. “This is not just about law enforcement. The goal is to address racism in all of our other public and private institutions. We are in this as a whole city, not with just a focus on police.”