It is with heavy heart that I am reporting about the death of Kamal Jain. According to the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Lowell, whose board Kamal served on, he passed away while working with his wife on her farm yesterday.
Jain, as you remember launched a spirited, yet respectful, campaign for Auditor against Mary Z. Connaughton. Upon learning of his death Mary Z. told Red Mass Group, "Kamal and I got to know each other during the campaign and even better after the campaign. We shared a similar vision on so many matters, my heart sank when I heard the news. We lost a committed public servant and my heart goes out to him and his family. He will be dearly missed by so many."
But beyond that, Jain has been working tirelessly to make my hometown Lowell, Massachusetts a better place. He has been helping to run Lowell Makes, a community workshop where people can turn ideas into products and creations.
The Mayans were apparently off by three years in their calculations. 2015 is apparently the beginning of end times. Why you ask? Simple, after five years Jim Lyons (R-Andover) has voted for a state budget. State Representative Kevin Kuros captured the moment in a photo for all posterity.
In all seriousness though, in a phone conversation Lyons told Red Mass Group why he voted for the budget. Lyons said, "there have been areas that I have been looking for in a budget since I got here. Due to the leadership of Governor Baker those issues have been addressed. The areas include a serious effort at reining in the growth rate of government spending, shrinking of the size of government - which Baker is doing with early retirement, and serious entitlement reform. This budget includes those and more. I am alos extremely happy that Representative Lombardo and I were able to get a serious look at the problem of the Department of Children and Families taking children from parents due to medical disputes."
The budget package approved, unanimously, by the house, has many of Governor Baker's priorities in it. This is no doubt due to his soaring popularity in the polls, and the Democrat leadership's not wanting to be on the wrong side of the administration during the honeymoon period.
A Republican representative told Red Mass Group that this budget is a win-win for Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey, "if the budget works Dempsey can take credit, if it doesn't he can say 'we gave the Governor what he wanted as a courtesy and it didn't work."
Budget highlights include a reduction in medicaid (MassHealth) spending, a moratorium on the Pacheco law for the MBTA for a period of time, and other strong reforms.
Yesterday the Massachusetts Republican Party sent out this statement by Chairman Hughes about the lack of transparency in the budget process.
Democrats on Beacon Hill owe the taxpayers of Massachusetts a more open and accountable budget process. The majority's lack of transparency on this multi-billion dollar budget is just another example of the excesses of one-party rule in the Legislature. Speaker DeLeo should move debate into the public eye, and let taxpayers see how their money will be spent."
One of the great equalizers that Republicans have as the minority party is the ability to keep their amendments out of consolidation, and to call for roll calls. It only takes a little less than half of the Republican minority to stand for a roll call, that's 16 members, in order for a roll call to be recorded.
That is why when you read the fine print on this State House News Story (via the Lowell Sun) you have to scratch your head.
Rep. Geoff Diehl sponsored an amendment to prevent tax dollars from being used "to procure, host, aid, further or remediate the effects of, the 2024 Olympics." The amendment permitted transportation investments "even if such expenditures may also facilitate procuring, hosting, aiding, furthering, or remediating the effects of, the 2024 Olympics."
"What we're trying to avoid is having the taxpayers on the hook for overruns. I urge the membership to pass this amendment so we don't have to wait for the ballot question to come about and have it passed for us," said Diehl, whose amendment calling for a privately-funded Olympics surfaced after 8 p.m. Monday.
When Diehl asked for a roll call vote, an insufficient number of both his Democratic and Republican colleagues rose to meet the threshold for a recorded vote. His amendment was then defeated on a voice vote.
Sources tell Red Mass Group that about ten Republican members stood for the Diehl Amendment. Why would Republican members not want to get the body on record on the use of taxpayer money for the Olympics. Polling shows that the public supports Diehl's conservative approach.
Why did Minority Leader Brad Jones, once again, not have the caucus stand for a conservative's common-sense budget amendment? Especially when the leader of the Party Kirsten Hughes is calling for more transparency.
The more things change, the more they really stay the same.
We just passed the 100 day mark of the governorship of Charlie Baker. Suffolk University just released a poll showing how the public thinks he is doing after those 100 days. He is wildly popular, Jon Keller reports.
The poll finds Baker is easily the most popular politician in Massachusetts right now, with 74-percent expressing a favorable view of him while only eight-percent hold an unfavorable opinion.
That is 15-points better than the next best numbers enjoyed by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who has a 59-to-11 percent favorable/unfavorable rating. (Sen. Elizabeth Warren is third with a 54-33 percent favorable/unfavorable rating.)
Baker's job-approval ratings are just as strong, with a 70-6 percent approval/disapproval spread. And when asked if Baker is a better governor than Deval Patrick was, 42-percent said yes, while only 24-percent said no.
Baker has earned those numbers by showing a strong, active leadership style. He took charge of the situation at the MBTA and has started on the path of reform. Reform that will start with getting the management of the agency under control, not new spending.
He has also submitted a budget, largely copied by the House Committee on Ways and Means, which slashes entitlement spending and puts long needed reforms of the Pacheco law into place.
He has announced the reduction of the state workforce by 5000 people through attrition, and an early retirement package.
Baker has shown a willingness to shrink the size and scope of state government, in a way that actually has Democratic support.
He should continue that and push for even greater reforms. Using the political capital when it is at its highest will show the nation that even in a blue state, you can shrink the size of government.
Hillary Clinton is not an exciting candidate. She wasn't exciting the last time. She isn't exciting this time. I'm apparently not the only one to notice this.
She's no Obama. She's not nearly as immediately likeable, captivating, hyper-articulate. She's not a great orator, she doesn't have much by way of magnetism or personal charisma (though she reportedly does have a terrific sense of humor), much less Obama's famous, deeply reassuring/infuriating Zen-like calm.
She can't hit a three-pointer from 25 feet out. She's not a surprising unknown...
It goes on. When a supporter has to write an article explaining "how to be excited" then it's definitely a problem. Anyways, it made me think of this scene from Wayne's World.
We always hear from some politicians how we need to protect 'humanity', 'women', and identity groups. Giving a damn about neighbors, a particular woman outside of a general sense, and individuals is somehow a very difficult thing for some of these same people who favor such lectures. In their own estimation though, their efforts on behalf of what they see as 'humanity', 'women', and identity groups absolve them of their practice of steam-rolling innocent individuals that may be parts of their 'beloved'-wholes.
Deb Goldberg is a classic example of this and the Boston Globe articles of the past few days show exactly how she feels about particular-woman empowerment. Great credit to the Globe and especially Tom Farragher for having the courage to un-relentingly call out the imperious, unbecoming behavior of a powerful office holder and local gazillionaire(inherited, un-earned). No one in state government rides a moral high horse of the stature Deb Goldberg does which makes this all the more galling and predictable. Equal pay for women, fossil fuel divestment, and all of her other crusades are all fine and good... but they mean more when actually practiced on a personal basis. When it came to empowering a young female subordinate starting her career, she chose instead to humiliate and cause her professional ruin.
Deb Goldberg 'rues her decision' only because she's been exposed for the petty tyrant she is. As for her account of 'working at Stop and Shop' (what heroism!) it's clear in her mind such an experience is the equivalent of a goddamn combat deployment or somehow makes her kin with the little people she crushes. Somehow despite such delusions and investing with Bernie Madoff... this woman was elected to the position of State Treasurer.
Fish rots from the head down, and looking at the pattern of how little people and especially women have been treated by her party's heir apparent this isn't an isolated incident. They are the greatest 'advocates for women' the world has ever known if you ask them, but if you're an innocent woman or individual in their way you will be destroyed without mercy.
Moreover, there's an old saying about American politics that "Republicans fall in line, while Democrats fall in love." Democrats have traditionally been more prone to factor passion and excitement into their selection process, while Republicans have been more businesslike in their tendency to settle for the "safe" establishment candidates who wait their turn. Barack Obama was the daring choice (compared to Hillary Clinton) in 2008, while Republican John McCain was "the next guy in line" that same year, as was Mitt Romney in 2012.
But fortunately for Mrs Clinton, that historical cliché appears to be in jeopardy this year. While Democrats seem all too eager to fall in line behind Clinton, Republicans are gearing up for what looks to be a contentious brawl.
It's not at all clear an establishment candidate will emerge. In fact, conspicuously absent for the GOP this time around is an obvious front-runner - an heir apparent - a "next guy in line." Sen. Rick Santorum, as the last man standing against Mitt Romney in 2012, would have been the obvious candidate, except that he isn't considered a top-tier candidate this time around.
There are those who disagree about Rick Santorum's chances, however Matt Lewis's list is as good as any. It's useful to check his top tier against this venn diagram of candidates produced back when it was thought Romney may enter the race. It holds up pretty well. Who do you support?
It probably wasn't very surprising that Charlie Baker came out against Indiana's religious freedom law.
Tim Buckley, communications director for Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, said in an email:
"Governor Baker disagrees with the Indiana law and is proud that Massachusetts has been and will continue to be a leader on equality, but is not proposing any restrictions on the ability of the Commonwealth's employees to do their important work."
He didn't come out as hard against it as he could have. Other governors banned travel from their state to Indiana. Charlie refrained from banning hypothetical travel to Indiana. Nonetheless, props to him because as we know even hypotheticals can get people in big trouble. One thing we should call him on, however, is that he signed the brief in support of gay marriage. Again, not surprising. The surprising thing is what the National Review notes:
But the payoff in the brief comes in the last sentence of this passage: "In a tolerant society, the right to marry can and should coexist with the right to disagree respectfully and to decline to participate as individuals based on sincerely held religious beliefs." This is precisely the issue that has drawn the wrath of the gay-rights and corporate communities that is befalling Mike Pence and Indiana's religious-freedom statute. According to the signatories of the brief, in a pluralistic society, gay marriage can and should coexist with the right to worship as one pleases, both in church and in one's everyday life (including, yes, in business).
What happened? Can't we expect him to agree with what he signed? Is the least bit of consistency too much to ask? The answer is quite simple. Since the time Baker and Polito signed the brief (a week or so ago?), their position has evolved. This is especially clear in the case of Karyn Polito. Again, not a surprising evolution knowing what we know. It does raise questions about what we don't know. Would Charlie refuse to support a bare minimum RFRA here in Massachusetts?
Don't expect sanctimonious Tim Cook to withdraw billions of investment from China. Boycotting Indiana is the easy way, a cheap hit from the corporate peanut gallery.
Read Eric Convey's brilliant takedown of the socially responsible corporate frauds.
Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), whose CEO Tim Cook took a sharp jab at Indiana over the law, just won permission to do business in Saudi Arabia under its own name. Saudi Arabian law provides for execution of people caught in sexual acts with people of the same gender.
And that goes for Salesforce as well as Rod Dreher reminds us over at the American Conservative.
It's not a pretty picture. Gays are incomparably more free as gays in Indiana than in China. It's not even close.
Is this a problem for Marc Benioff? Is this a problem for Apple's Tim Cook? Why do they swallow the Chinese camel while straining at the Hoosier gnat? In Cook's case, it's money: the $16 billion Apple made in China in the first quarter of the current fiscal year - that's $16 billion in three months! - sure can buy some Tim Cook silence. He's pushing around Indiana and other American states because it's easy. It costs him nothing.
Besides, this is not really about human rights. This is about status competition among post-Christian America's white elites. Actual harm done to Chinese people, including LGBT Chinese people, by its government does not matter to Marc Benioff & his Silicon Valley friends. Potential harm to Indiana LGBTs - however unlikely, and however minor by comparison - matters because it is all the fault of Christianist Republicans.
I do wish Republican grassroots voters who valorize big business would understand what exactly it is they champion.
Is it time for liberal corporations to divest themselves of investment in horrid nations like Saudi Arabia and China? Good question. Let's see them walk the talk.
Are they and other gay-unfriendly nation-states the new 21st version of apartheid South Africa?
Don't hold your breadth. Pushing Indiana into a corner is small fry stuff.
As President Barack Obama inches closer to a deal with the theocratic thugs in Iran, a growing chorus of left-of-center voices are beginning to panic over the prospect that what was once theoretical might one day become real.
The latest salvo of teeth-gnashing hysteria comes from the editors of The Observer who sniff that "The One" is such an amateur at appeasement that he's making the reviled Neville Chamberlain look good by comparison.
It is unrealistic to hope that Mr. Obama could emerge as a modern (Winston) Churchill in this chaotic and dangerous chapter in human history. But even Chamberlain would not have made the disastrous agreement that Mr. Obama seems so eager to conclude.
Mr. Obama is an amateur who is enthralled with the sound of his own voice and is incapable of coming to grips with the consequences of his actions. He is surrounded by sycophants, second-rate intellectuals, and a media that remains compliant and uncritical in the face of repeated foreign policy disasters. As country after country in the world's most dangerous region fall into chaos - Libya and Yemen are essentially anarchic states, even as Syria and Iraq continue to devolve - Mr. Obama puzzlingly focuses much of his attention and rhetoric on Israel, childishly refusing to accept the mandate its people have given their prime minister in an election that, by the way, added three additional seats to the country's Arab minority.
I suppose it's a good thing that the saner elements among Obama's cheerleaders are finally waking up to the realization that their hero might be making a colossal mistake of historic proportions due, in part, to his ego's preening narcissism. Better late than never. But the train has already left the station as far as Barry is concerned.
We might call for Mr. Obama to find his inner Churchill and walk away from this tragedy, but we would be happy if he would simply find the character of the "real" Neville Chamberlain, who when dealing from a position of America's strength would never have signed a deal with the devil. Ultimately, this deal will come back to haunt Mr. Obama's legacy far more than Munich haunted Chamberlain's.
We can only hope that Iran's revolutionary leaders ultimately reject a deal as insufficient & (in the process) prevent Obama's meager foreign policy legacy from becoming even more laughably embarrassing than it already is.
Red Mass Group has learned that Massachusetts Governor Charles Duane Baker IV plans to fight former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe in a boxing match.
The fight will take place at the DCU center in Worcester, MA. Unfortunately, access from 290 is restricted due to excessive snow. All roads to the Baker fight lead through Shrewsbury.
A concerned Governor Baker expressed disapointment that the MassGOP platform required him to take on a second career as a pugilist. "At the end of the day, I'm trying to be a good team player." said Baker.
When asked his opinion of Baker, Riddick Bowe said "I think he's a good man. I like him. I got nothing against him, but I'm definitely gonna make orphans of his children." When the existence of the children's mother was raised, the former champ indicated that he imagined she would die from grief.
Local political insiders expect to profit greatly from the fight. Former Governor Deval Patrick will be paid $7,500 per day to serve as "Deputy Ambassador to Inflated Titles and Phony Commissions."
Proceeds from the fight will benefit the Marlborough Republican City Committee.
Dispense all notions you may have of the somber and serious nature of choice. This event betrays the facade that organizations like NARAL and Planned Parenthood put forth and make plain what lies behind the curtain: frivolity.
Supporters of abortion are urged to patronize the pro-choice establishments that sponsor the event. My personal boycott of these businesses is on good footing, having never heard of any of them except for Sam Adams. From now on I choose Sam's competitor Yuengling.
"The person that made this newfound pursuit of intellectual engagement invigorating and sexy was Camille Paglia. Her book, SEXUAL PERSONAE, made me realize how little I really had learned in college. Her articles and assorted writings began to open my mind to the fraud that is higher education in America."
- Andrew Breitbart (2011), Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World!
It's always a hoot to listen to intellectual provocateur Paglia speak when she holds court. She was was recently interviewed by REASON Magazine's Nick Gillespie & it was fun to watch these two different personalities mix it up with each other. The hour-long banter should be required viewing for anyone - liberal or conservative - who is serious about the big issues of our time. It's also a peek at what we lose when we insist on being hyper-partisan with each other.
The appointment of Keith Hall as director of the Congressional Budget Office coincides with the adoption by Congress of a rule change that requires "dynamic scoring" of proposed tax law changes.
Hall is chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission, served as head of the President's Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush and was Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2008 to 2012. In April 2015, he will replace CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf, who has served since 2009.
The appointment of Hall appears to signify an intention, going forward, for the CBO to adhere to the spirit, as well as the letter, of the new congressional mandate. He should not be distracted from this effort by politically-driven griping from economists who should know better than to question the congressional intent behind that mandate.
The only question that Hall or any competent economist might ask in considering the question of dynamic scoring is, "Why would we do it any other way?" Dynamic scoring means measuring the impact on tax revenues of a change in tax law by taking into account how that change will affect the base on which the tax is imposed. Because changing a tax law will always change the economic activity on which the tax is imposed, it would be nonsensical to assume the tax base will remain fixed under a new law. Yet that is exactly what the proponents of "static scoring" want to assume. And it is static scoring that dynamic scoring is intended to replace.
Suppose that someone committed to the idea of static scoring thinks income taxes are too low. If the combined federal and state income tax applicable to the top federal tax bracket is 50 percent (as it is in some states), then, under the canons of static scoring, we might as well double the rate to double the amount of revenue collected from that tax bracket. Dynamic scoring would produce the obvious conclusion that the amount of revenue collected would go to zero, inasmuch as no one will bother to earn (or report) any income that is taxed at 100 percent. Read more at NCPA.
And you believed the Beacon Hill insiders when they said that Bob DeLeo, Terry Murray, and their allies would get off without being charged in the probation dpartment scandal. Well it looks like the politicians turn at the defense table may still be coming. The Boston Globe has the story:
Federal prosecutors are pressuring disgraced former state probation commissioner John J. O'Brien to testify in a renewed investigation likely to focus on politicians who took part in the illegal hiring scheme he once ran, according to two people briefed on the probe.
O'Brien, who is appealing his 18-month prison sentence for his role in the patronage scandal, has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury about his former agency's rigged hiring system, which funneled jobs to politically connected candidates, the people briefed on the investigation said. Both asked for anonymity because the probe is secret.
It is not clear which Beacon Hill politicians might be targeted in a new probation investigation. Though the US attorney's office did not seek indictments against legislators, it named numerous politicians, including House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, as "unindicted co-conspirators" in the scandal. DeLeo denied wrongdoing.
This 4,900-word essay, a 20-minute read, is about the Town Committee system, which is the long-standing legal structure for how political parties organize at the local level in Massachusetts. I argue that, for the Republican Party, this structure no longer makes sense, and, in fact, does more harm than good. I will explain why, and propose major changes for how we can better organize our 440,000 fellow Republicans.
The Problems of Evan Falchuk, and of Kirsten Hughes
Why the RTC Model Doesn't Work
Prescription for Reform
Healthy Republican Organizing
Of particular interest to myself is Ed's suggestion on changing the party image.
We need a new logo. Something that doesn't look like a Republican elephant. Something distinctive.
(Sounds like a good take from a national leader on immigration. - promoted by Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno)
Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson of Bristol County, Massachusetts is hosting a community forum on the subject of immigration on March 26, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the Fisherman's Club in New Bedford (639 Orchard Street). The topic discussed will be will be the importance of achieving immigration reform and will include the adverse impact illegal immigration is having on public safety, national security, public health, education, and economic well-being for United States citizens and legal residents.
This event will include a question and answer period and will end with a discussion about strategies we can utilize to end the 20 years of inaction by Congress and move forward with a sensible and fair plan that will lead us to legitimate comprehensive immigration policy.
with Sheriff Thomas M.Hodgson March 26, 2015
6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
639 Orchard Street
New Bedford, MA 02744
The event is free and open to the public. Numerous restaurants and wine distributors are graciously donating food and beverage for attendees. For more information please contact Grace Ouellette at 508-995-6400 extension 2401.
The St. Patrick's Day Parade organizers were perhaps too busy patting themselves on the backs at their inclusivity to notice that the formerly excluded are not content.
"The proof of the success of their decision will not be so evident this year, but next," Scanlon said. "Will the Allied War Veterans Council allow other LGBT organizations to march with OUTVETS and Boston Pride next year? What will they do if other legitimate LGBT organizations such as Mass Equality, or GLAD, the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, or Dignity, a Catholic LGBT group, BAGLY, the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth, Rainbow Warriors or The Rainbow Times are prohibited from joining them? That will be their real test."
"You are questioning . . . my personal and heartfelt embracement of marriage for everyone," she said. "Whether you want to believe me or not, my actions will obviously prove, beyond you, my sincerity and commitment."
That's great to hear. So now, why not go even further? Why not embrace the public accommodation bill that is a key priority of the commission to which she's now so closely connected? That law would prohibit discrimination against transgender people in public places, making it illegal to refuse to serve them in restaurants or to keep them from using public restrooms. The administration does not support the bill. Baker has cited concerns about how it would be implemented.
Yvonne Abraham is correct of course. Baker and Polito can't accept the LGBT agenda on every point except for the public accommodations part of the transgender rights bill. If there can be no legitimate opposition to gay marriage, neither can there be legitimate opposition to public accommodations. It is only a matter of time before Charlie Baker signs the bill to make Planet Fitness' corporate policy the law of the Commonwealth.
Buried in the numbers of the latest unemployment headlines that scream "Massachusetts Unemployment Rate Drops to 4.9%" is the fact that the Commonwealth shed 800 private sector jobs last month. The Boston Globe has the story.
The private sector lost 800 jobs last month, with 1,600 new government jobs pushing the monthly total into positive territory. That compares to total hiring of 5,500 in Feburary 2014, state data show. The estimated number of jobs added in January was revised downward, from 2,600 to 900.