John Podesta's email is not anti-Catholic, is not a scandal, and surrenders no "moral high ground"

Great and phenomenally well-sourced read. - promoted by hesterprynne

This is response to a comment on the other thread, in which it was posited that Trump would pay no political price for his somewhat “over the line” speech at the Al Smith dinner. (“Here she is, pretending not to hate Catholics.”) A speech that sort of missed the point of why Democrats, Republicans, and Catholics alike all remember and honor Al Smith, and which contrasted sharply with her speech, which after a round of corny awkward jokes, starkly illustrated why the GOP of 2016 is so thoroughly opposed to what the Al Smith dinner is supposed to represent. (Seriously, go listen to her speech. If you want to skip the bad jokes, skip to 15:00, at which point she makes a stirring case for how America SHOULD be, and that is a thorough takedown of Trumpism. She doesn’t do stirring speeches, or make any case for she would be President? Bull.)

It was posited that Trump would pay no price because Clinton had “surrendered the moral high ground” by the supposedly anti-Catholic attitudes revealed in the Wikileaks emails. Bunk.

For the most part, those offended are the same ones “offended” by the dire imposition on their religious liberty to make sure other people don’t use birth control.

I believe that the organisation to which porcupine refers is Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, an organization formed in 2005 and which opposes the Church’s exclusive emphasis on sexual politics at the expense of the wider aspects of Catholic teaching on social morality. As such, it turns out that the group found itself NOT supporting GOP policies over the last 11 years. Hence the pearl clutching, and the denunciations from the John Paul II-political Catholics.

This is purely an instance of IOKIYAR. When the execrable Cardinal Dolan, or Paul Ryan or Rick Santorum or other Opus Dei types pretend that “Thomism” and “subsidiarity” give theological support for the psuedo-intellectual social Darwinism of Ayn Rand (which, you might be surprised to learn, is a lie), they are exemplary fighters for their religious values. When their opponents engage in political activity in opposition to them, those opponents must be denounced as perfidious.

The Podesta email was sent in the context of the 2012 mini-crisis over birth control and Obamacare. Recall that Cardinal Dolan, who is an evil man, was quite gung-ho to support keeping people without health insurance in order to protect his religious liberty to control what other people do. In true John Paul II fashion, Dolan pretended to be the monolithic voice of Catholicism and thus thundered away, as he is wont to do.

In response to someone inquiring why there isn’t simply a revolution by Catholics to overthrow the Church prelates, Podesta wrote something like “this is why we formed CAPG.” In other words, Catholic opponents of Dolan’s absolutism would seek reform of the Church’s approach to such pastoral matters from within, rather than trying to overthrow the hierarchy in its entirety. We had similar discussions here; many (non-Catholic) liberals were then quite impatient and disappointed in the liberal Catholic’s “reform from within” approach. Sandy Newman described the Church’s “middle ages dictatorship,” which was a phrase used here on BMG by those similarly frustrated. Podesta was defending liberal Catholics’ unwillingness to “revolt.”

His use of the first person plural now allows Republicans like porcupine to use the “astroturf” talking point that she read on redstate. It ignores that Podesta is actually Catholic, and likely is involved in the organization, because it supports his view of Catholic social teaching. I would hope he is: that’s why I support him and his boss.

The other thing that is producing faux pearl clutching is that Sandy Newman stated a wish for a “Catholic Spring” in response to Dolan, who is an evil man. This, of course, is a wish that was then, is now, and has long been shared by the overwhelming majority of American Catholics, even if they are not willing to secede from the Church. The irony is that, just a year later, something that could be just that began with the election of Pope Francis.

Just look what all those people who, in 2012, were horrified that a Catholic might disagree publicly at all with a Price of the Church, now say about the Pope himself, once it became clear that he would not provide moral justification for social Darwinism.

This email scandal is a non-issue, except to those whom are trying to rationalize their support of a forthrightly depraved candidate. Pretending that Clinton somehow “lost the high ground” is simply a continuation of their absurd campaign tactics this season:

November Ninth

John's comment of the day: "After that, if she governs as a neoliberal, continues the policies of her husband, if she is able to gain support from Democrats like Chuck Schumer and deliver “a giant wet kiss for the tax dodgers who have already parked $2.1 trillion overseas” to quote Senator Elizabeth Warren, she runs one term and loses in a landslide equal to the one that put her in office. If, however, she listens to people like Senator Warren, Senator Sanders, and yours truly, she wins re-election with the bonus of the Democrats taking the house and senate." - promoted by Bob_Neer

This presidential election is not a contest between Clinton and Trump (and, to a lessor extent, Johnson and Stein).  Rather, it is a referendum on Trump.

And assuming that Trump is going to lose, the voters will be electing whomever is running against him.  Turns out, that’s Hillary Clinton (remember her?).

Although Clinton’s election Trump’s defeat will be a monumental smackdown with a mandate against all his horrors, HRC will not have a mandate.

Let’s assume my prediction of a 48.3%–45.2% popular vote spread is correct, which many of my friends think is waaaaay too high for the Donald.  This plurality harkens back to her husband’s 43% win back in 24 years ago (count ‘em!), but that was with a serious third party contender.  Still, I expect about 20% of her supporters aren’t voting FOR HER they’re voting AGAINST HIM.  It’s not unusual to have some voters only voting against the “lesser of two evils.”  But I can’t imagine it’s ever been this significant.

Add to that her unpopularity; her not being a good campaigner (cf. Coakley, Martha); and all the faux scandals drummed up by Faux News.  And it’s clear to me that few voters in America will be supporting her.

So my point (see! I’m getting around to it!) is more of a two-part question:

  1. How much of a mandate will she have to govern?
  2. Is she a sitting duck in 2020?

Here’s the counter points to my worries:

  • She’s much more popular when she’s actually in government (Senator, SoS) than in campaigns (’92, ’08, ’16).  So maybe my worries will be over when the dust settles on November 9th.
  • W had no mandate in ’00 and he ran with it like he was king of the world.  A mandate is whatever you say it is.  Winning is enough, even if it’s a squeaker, and she’s got four years to do a good job.

Obama sort of had a mandate in ’08, but that was due to McCain’s terrible campaign, Bush’s unpopularity, the financial meltdown, and inevitable pendulum swing between parties.  But the GOP got to work obfuscating him at every turn for eight fun-filled years.

So I worry that we’ll have a wounded president even before she starts and will be hard to re-elect in four years.

Am I wrong? I welcome your comments.


Yes on 4 Gets Biggest Endorsement Yet

Excellent! - promoted by Bob_Neer

Sen. Rosenberg (Flickr/Jones Library)

Stan Rosenberg has become the highest-ranking current elected official in Massachusetts to endorse Yes on 4, the ballot question to legalize marijuana:

Senate President Stan Rosenberg says he’s planning to vote for a ballot question that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Massachusetts.

The Amherst Democrat said during an interview Thursday on WGBH-FM that he will vote for Question 4 and then try to make improvements to the measure. [...]

A poll released Wednesday by WBUR-FM found 55 percent of voters back the ballot question, while 40 percent oppose it.

Other endorsers include former Gov. Bill Weld and Boston City Council President Michelle Wu. Also, Rick Steves!

It’s unfortunate that some Democrats, like House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, continue to oppose legalization in the face of majority public support. It’s one thing to take a moral stand against popular opinion, but opposing marijuana legalization is both wrong AND unpopular.

Marijuana is less of a health risk than alcohol and tobacco, both of which are legally available to adults. As the Globe has reported, research shows that in the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally sold in cafes, young marijuana smokers are slightly LESS likely to take up harder drugs than their counterparts in the United States and other countries.

Despite “decriminalization” in Massachusetts, statewide arrest rates for marijuana possession were 3.3 times higher for blacks than for whites in 2014, even though research shows blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates, as the Globe reported.

On the ballot questions, I’m on board with Progressive Massachusetts: No No Yes Yes.

Debate open thread

Have at it.

Some Follow-Ups: Baker's Welfare Policy, Mass Fiscal's Disclosure Policy, Mandatory Minimum Sentences in the SJC

(A few developments on three posts from earlier this year.)

Back in June, Governor Baker sought unsuccessfully to reduce state welfare payments to families in which a disabled family member was receiving federal disability payments. Under Baker’s plan, as the Herald reported, the state would no longer pay $400 per month to a grandmother who’s caring full time for her 13-year-old granddaughter who cannot walk or talk because of the cerebral palsy that she has had since birth. The cutoff of state funds Baker proposed would have left the family of two to survive on the $750 per month in federal disability payments the granddaughter receives. The Legislature told the Governor no.

In August, the Supreme Court of New Hampshire struck down a welfare eligibility restriction in that state very similar to the rule Governor Baker wanted Massachusetts to adopt. The federal disability payments, the court ruled, were intended as specific assistance to persons with disabilities and were not intended to be available for the family’s general living expenses. One hopes that if the Legislature’s rejection of Baker’s proposal does not deter him from introducing it again, the New Hampshire Supreme Court decision will.


In August, after the Legislature passed a law requiring organizations that use direct mail for their electioneering to disclose the names of their five largest donors (just as organizations that use paid television, internet and print advertising must do), the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, purveyor of preposterous allegations about the voting records of its opponents, was left with a choice — either divulge the names of its five biggest donors, or curtail its electioneering.  They recently announced that they would keep their donors’ names secret, which means that their direct mail efforts this election season will not be indulging in their usual farcical claims but will merely encourage recipients to visit their website.  In an effort to portray this decision as a victory, Mass. Fiscal commented that it never wanted to become dull:  ”We are always looking at ways to improve our effectiveness in communicating with the voters.”


In April, the Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments in a District Attorney’s appeal of a case in which the trial judge declined to impose the statutory minimum mandatory prison sentence for drug distribution on a disabled black man who had been convicted of possessing an amount of drugs in the approximate quantity of a five-gram packet of sugar.

Last week, the court issued an opinion reversing the trial judge and ordering that the minimum mandatory sentence (3 1/2 years instead of the 2 1/2 years the trial judge ordered)  be imposed. But in that decision, the Court also sent a message to the Legislature that arguments about the unconstitutionality of mandatory minimums, such as the strong evidence of their racially discriminatory application during the twenty years that they have been on the books, might be appropriate for the court to consider in future cases.

A casino developer just spent seventy thousand Revere taxpayer dollars to shoot himself (and Question 1) in the foot

  - promoted by david

This won’t get much coverage in today’s news, but yesterday’s special election fiasco in Revere will have to go down as one of the most deliciously hubristic backfires in Massachusetts political history.

There’s a lot to explain here, but here’s what you might want to know:

Question 1 is a statewide ballot measure proposing to create one additional Category 2 (slots-only) casino license. So far, so bad. But it gets worse! The site for any license issued under this new provision must be within 1500 feet of an operable horse track with a history of racing, have four acres of buildable land, and can’t be divided by a railway or highway.

If those incredibly-specific requirements sound as if they might have been written by one developer intending to build a casino on one site for his own financial benefit… well, that’s because that’s exactly what Question 1 is. Thai developer Eugene McCain had his eye on a trailer park in Revere just a few blocks from Suffolk Downs, and he didn’t want to take the risk of spending millions to get this on the ballot just to have someone else (including Suffolk Downs itself) take “his” license.

(Footnote: I’m proud to have had an opportunity to bring this question to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for a review of its legality under our state Constitution. While the SJC found that the question was written *just* broadly enough that it could technically apply statewide, it was a chance to bring some sunshine to this flagrant abuse of the ballot question process.)

But it wasn’t enough for Mr. McCain to ask the voters of Massachusetts to hand him a casino license on November 8th. He wanted to be sure that he was the only developer with the only site in *Revere* that could ever be used if a casino were to be approved for the city.

Seriously, this just happened: McCain gathered enough signatures to force the city of Revere to spend *seventy thousand taxpayer dollars* to hold a special election today, October 18th, 2016, on a referendum question which would have guaranteed that if a slots license were ever authorized for Revere that the casino *could only be built on his land.*

Great News for Sen. Warren: Curt Schilling May Run Against Her

Exciting! - promoted by Bob_Neer

With apologies, I have to reprint the entire Associated Press story in full, because it is just too perfect:

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling says he’s decided to run for Senate in 2018 if his wife agrees.

On WPRO-AM Tuesday, he said he’d make a run against Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Schilling also said he doesn’t know what he should apologize for following the collapse of his video game company that received a $75 million loan guarantee from Rhode Island.

He asked listeners: ‘‘What do you want me to apologize for?’’

Sen. Warren is whomping Schilling 47% to 28%, according to a recent WBZ/UMass-Amherst poll. And here’s the thing: Massachusetts voters know Sen. Warren really well, but most don’t know Schilling beyond “great at baseball.” Wait until they find out about Schilling’s hateful, extremist beliefs:

And that’s just the start – the list goes on and on and on. Can you imagine what Charlie Baker is thinking about potentially having to share a ticket with this guy? And having to answer questions about every single crazy thing Schilling says?

As a progressive Democrat, I say: Why not Curt?

Expand Democracy by Eliminating the Electoral College

Let's make the Senate population-based, like the House, and impose term limits on Supreme Court justices, while we are at it. The Constitution badly needs updating to make it more democratic. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Here is the latest map.

After 2000, I felt a bit better about the Electoral College. Without it, I thought, we’d have several Floridas and litigate every close state.

But then we had a historically popular nominee, and now the GOP has a historically unpopular nominee.

My vote barely counts. I’m just helping to build a Clinton win in Massachusetts. I’m told it’s awful to live in a swing state at this time (brutal ads on both sides), but I’m tired of my primary vote barely counting and my presidential vote hardly counting at all.

Make every vote count. Can the Electoral College. With all due respect to the founders, they were too beholden to their home states. As they say in Hamilton, welcome to the present, we’re running a real nation.

UPDATE — Why now, may you ask? Mainly because of the approaching election, but also because last night I heard this.

McMullin, 40, is on 11 state ballots and is a registered write-in in 23 other states. His campaign hopes to appear on up to 40 or 45 ballots as a write-in or official candidate by Election Day. “If no candidate achieves a majority in the Electoral College, then the top three finishers in the race go the House,” McMullin told us today. “This if very difficult to do, we know that, and we knew that before getting into the race. We think it’s not possible for us to win 270 votes ourselves, but that’s the best opportunity we have. It depends on how close the race is between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — and right now, it isn’t very close. I don’t think it is likely to be close.” Even while he acknowledges the unlikely path to victory, McMullin also pointed out his positive recent polling results in Utah and, in his words, “the Mountain West.”

I don’t think this would happen (HRC would have to fall short of 270), but if it ever did, what an insane, undemocratic result that would be.

Good advice on politicking from Jimmy Tingle

Check it out:

Undermining Democracy? The GOP Has Been Doing It For Years

Thesis - the national GOP is dying of a form of sepsis brought about by its own corruption. Discuss. - promoted by hesterprynne

Let me say that I’ve talked to President Clinton. We had a good visit, and I congratulated him. . . .campaign that the President was my opponent and not my enemy. And I wish him well, and I pledge my support in whatever advances the cause of a better America because that’s what the race was about in the first place, a better America as we go into the next century.

Sen. Bob Dole on losing to Bill Clinton

President Bill Clinton, for all of his faults, was pursued for years. It started with White Water (Oh, things were so simple then!) and Travelgate and finally Monica Lewinsky and finally impeachment pushed by philandering hypocrites in Congress. There were also the real crazy conspiracies like the suicide of Vince Foster. When Barack Obama was elected, the nuttiness didn’t stop. There was the birth certificate. The idea that he was a Muslim. Then the idea that he was Kenyan, rather than American. There are a whole host of theories should you care.

In a long campaign to disenfranchise Democratically-oriented minority voters, Republicans have advanced the idea that voter fraud, due to a lack of voter identification, was a major problem. The purpose of requiring voter identification is to suppress votes. Period. But an excuse was needed for voter identification. Fears of voter fraud fit the bill. Trump’s claims of voter fraud ring true with his followers because the GOP has primed them.

There are reasonable Republicans out there. We have some here at BMG and in Massachusetts, though even here the GOP minority pushed a voter ID bill. But at the national level, reasonable Republicans have taken a back seat to the preservation of Republican power.

As Jeff Greenfield writes in Politico:

In truth Trump—and now his new mordant muse, Steve Bannon—are only carrying to extremes a tendency that has long been present in American politics, particularly inside the GOP. For Republicans, Hillary Clinton’s failings are only part of the argument: The broader case is that the Democratic Party itself lacks the legitimacy to govern. And that argument is one that has been a quarter-century in the making.

One of the roots of this argument can be found in the famous list of words that the then-Rep. Newt Gingrich and pollster/communications strategist Frank Luntz offered Republican candidates in the run-up to the 1994 midterms. “These are powerful words,” they said, “words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party. … decay… failure (fail)… collapse(ing)… deeper… crisis…… corrupt…destructive… destroy… sick… pathetic… lie… … betray… traitors…”

Whether this playbook led to the GOP takeover of Congress is debatable. The key point is that these words go to motive. They paint the opposition not simply as incompetent, but as malevolent. And it is an approach to politics that fits perfectly with the rise of right-wing talk radio, whose most prominent practitioners roundly reject John Kennedy’s observation that “civility is not a sign of weakness.” Contra Bob Dole, the adversaries of Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage and company are indeed the enemy. At about the time Gingrich and Luntz were offering their version of “30 Days to a More Incendiary Vocabulary,” Rev. Jerry Falwell was actively engaged in selling “the Clinton Chronicles,” a film that accused the Clintons of murdering their political foes. Today, you can find this argument recycled on a regular basis on The Drudge Report.

Nationally, I don’t think there’s much hope for the GOP. Massachusetts may have Charlie Baker, but he’s balanced off by Sam Brownback, Mary Fallin, Rick Scott, and Scott Walker. We may not end up with the craziness of Maine’s chief executive, but the Republican Party is finally collapsing under its own internal contradictions. Trump gives us an idea of what will slither in and try to replace it. Time will tell whether it succeeds and how well the United States will fare as the GOP splits apart.

Film maker arrested, faces potential 45 year felony charge - for filming North Dakota protests - #NoDAPL

One hopes that the courts in North Dakota have far more sense than the local prosecutors. - promoted by david

Deia Schlosberg won an Academy award for her work as a film maker.  That doesn’t count in North Dakota where her equipment was confiscated and she was arrested.

Amy Goodman was also charged, and plans to turn herself in and fight those charges tomorrow, 10/17/16.

When did the First Amendment get repealed?

Early Voting

Very good news. Early voting starts a week from today! - promoted by david

This year, residents of the commonwealth will be able to vote early!  To find out where in your city/town/hamlet, click here.

I have a GREAT idea….

How about we set it up where once you vote, your television, mailbox, email, and telephone no longer receives campaign information?

If we did that, my hunch would be that voter participation would be close to 100%, on the first day of voting, which this year is Monday, October 24th.