COMEBACK OF THE MODERATES ?

Rob Consalvo on Twitter: "Excited to announce my candidacy for State Rep.  for the 14th Suffolk District. I submitted over 200 signatures to ensure I  am on the ballot September 1st. There
^^ perhaps the biggest, most crucial moderate win : Rob Consalvo, former District 5 City Councillor, was elected by a landslide margin in the Hyde Park – Roslindale _ West Roxbury – Readville State Representative District.

On September 1st Massachusetts held its State Primary. Almost 1,600,000 voters participated,. and the results show a change of voting trend that few have remarked.

With the exception of Senator Ed Markey’s defeating Joe Kennedy’s challenge, it was very much a victory day for moderate Democrats and even for moderate Republicans. Let me now itemize.

Congress : in the First Massachusetts District, incumbent Richard Neal, chairman of the House ways and Means committee, turned back “progressive” Alex Morse by 59 percent to 41 percent. This result is the exact percentage opposite of “progressive”
Ayanna Pressley’s beating (less progressive ?) incumbent Mike Capuano in 2018 in the 7th District.

in the Eighth District, incumbent Stephen Lynch, the most conservative Democrat in our House delegation, easily disposed of “progressive” Robbie Goldstein by about 66 to 34.

in the Fourth District, moderate Jake Auchincloss won a nine-way primary over eight “progressive” rivals, winning over his nearest rival by 25 percent to 23 percent. (true to form, the District’s “progressives” now seek to change the voting rules)

State legislature — the House :

2nd Suffolk : moderate incumbent Daniel Ryan easily defeated “progressive” Damali Vidot Rosa by 4195 to 3093.

4th Norfolk : incumbent moderate James Murphy crushed “progressive” Melissa Smith — 6357 to 3099.

5th Middlesex : incumbent moderate David Linsky walloped “progressive” Jaymin Patel, 9243 to 2341.

6th Norfolk : incumbent moderate William Galvin defeated “progressive” Tamisha Civil by 5866 to 3238.

10th Middlesex : incumbent John Lawn, one of the most conservative Democrats, beat back a more progressive Allison Leary 4060 to 3624.

14th Suffolk : open seat. moderate Rob Consalvo easily defeated “progressive” Gretchen Van Ness. 5484 to 3292. (there was a third candidate on the ballot. He drew 1488 votes.) Consalvo was supported by Governor Baker.

Consalvo’s big win might be more significant than for only his District. More about this below.

12th Suffolk : open seat. moderate Brenda Fluker Oakley bested two rivals, 4074 to 3144 and 2237.

12th Norfolk : moderate incumbent John Rogers defeated “progressive” Michael Dooley 6451 to 3001.

16th Suffolk : open seat — moderate Jessica Giannino defeated “progressive” Joe Gravallese by 3770 to 2396.

17th Suffolk : long-time incumbent Kevin G. Honan, a moderate, defeated “progressive” Jordan Meehan 4260 to 3598. (Meehan had help from Ayanna Pressley’s husband, Honan was supported by Governor baker.

24th Middlesex : incumbent Dave Rogers turned back “progressive” Jennifer Fries by 7540 to 5858.

35th Middlesex :” incumbent moderate Paul Donato defeated “progressive” Nichole Mossalam by 5227 to 4161.

Moderates did suffer one loss : Vann Howard defeated incumbent David Nangle in his long-held Lowell seat., But Nangle was beset by m any well-publicized ethics issues. Howard’s win may, however, equally be attributed to demographic change : she is of Cambodian origin in the State’s most Cambodian city. (Lowell now has two State Representatives of Cambodian origin, the other being moderate Rady Mom.)

Republican primary : voters nominated for US Senator the candidate by far more reasonable, Kevin O’Connor, over the clownish Shiva Ayyadurai, by 59 to 41 percent. Turnout exceeded 250,000.

Thus we see that a very large turnout aides moderate candidates generally. Progressives have long numbered about 22 percent of Massachusetts Democrats, and though 2018-19 saw them advance to many unlikely wins (Rachel Rollins over Greg Henning for Suffolk District Attorney being perhaps the most unlikely), voter preference momentum seems reverting to moderates.

I think much of this primary’s moderate triumph has Governor Baker as its impetus. Baker’s success managing our response to COVID-19 — and his cautious attention to his job, free of all the performative drama that seems to afflict most politicians these days — has won him the respect of almost 90 percent of Democratic primary voters (according to recent polls). Certainly that respect affected how Democratic primary voters approached the decision who to vote for for Congress and the state legislature. I think that the overwhelming majority of participant voters has had enough of drama, of “shaking things up,” of being treated as if they are benighted bigots. Nor can I overlook the non-union, even anti-union lean of upper-income progressives. Unions are the bulwark of ordinary workers’ advancement in life., The well off may not appreciate unions or relate easily to union people, but the average Democratic voter sure embraces them. As does Governor Baker.

Union-endorsed candidates had a very good day on September 1st. Much better a day than they had in 2018 and 2019 elections here in this State. Unions had no bigger win than Rob Consalvo’s in the 14th Suffolk. Almost every union in Boston that endorses at all endorsed Consalvo. Thus his win affects more people than only the voters of his District. And not only union members. Consalvo has spent the past few years as chief of staff for Boston Public Schools — appointed by Mayor Walsh, for whom he has worked since shortly after losing the 2013 Mayoral [primary (in which he placed fifth but won big in District Five, whose Councillor he had been. Consalvo is likely to be Walsh’s chief voice in the House, and as he defeated an opponent who was a member of the Ward 18 Committee slate pushed by Councillor Wu — who is now running for Mayor — and which defeated Consalvo’s Ward Committee slate back in March, his big win has implications for Wu right on her own home ground. Consalvo will be Wu’s Representative, after all; and Wu’s chief of staff, Dave Vittorini, was Consalvo’s chief of staff back when Consalvo was a Councillor.

This plot has not only thickened, it has hardened.

Will the moderates (and union endorsed) continue to win in November and on into 2021 and 2022 ? We will soon find out. The choice is clear : stability or instability. I know which one I will support for at least the next two election cycles.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

HOW DARE YOU ?

Greta HOW DARE YOU Meme Compilation - YouTube

How dare you ….. presume to know me ?

How dare you block streets and highways — which we all use — for your own selfish grievance ?

How dare you break the law and then try to justify it by pointing to some other breaking of the law ? What-about-ism ain’t a good look.

How dare you presume upon taxpayers’ money for your project that you cannot afford ?

How dare you, indeed.

How dare you presume which opinions merit being cancelled ? Who made you the judge of anyone else’s conscience ? Be careful that your opinion isn’t canceled next.

How dare you call for boycotting ? Do you not realize that a boycott hurts only the ordinary stiffs ?

How dare you invade somebody else’s personal space ? In restaurants. At their homes — sometimes at 6 am ? Do you not realize that violating people’s space is a good way to make them a sworn enemy of you and your smelly little orthodoxy ?

How dare you call yourself a queen ? A king ? America doesn’t have queens or kings. (gay slang excepted)

How dare you not be humble ?

How dare you not obey the Rule of Hillel the Elder : “whatever is hateful to thee, do not do to your fellow man. This is the whole Torah, the rest is explanation.”

How dare you oppose racism with racism ?

How dare you trample upon somebody else’s grass ? Green, or spiritual, all grass matters.

How dare you scream “f**k the police” and then call for police assistance when your own pride is invaded ?

How dare you judge anyone — anyone, and I do mean anyone — guilty on account of viral videos that always tell only part of the story ?

How dare you not honor the jury trial system ? It’;s in the Constitution !

How dare you swear to uphold and defend the Constitution, against ALL enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC, and then not do so ? Even support those who violate it ? how dare you do that ?

How dare you say “very fine people on both sides”when in fact there are few fine people on either side of a shitshow ?

How do you carry a rifle into a shitshow and not expect to get shat on? How dare you ?

How dare you not ask the question of yourself : how dare I ?

Answer every one of these questions humbly and without knowing that you are always fright — because chances are you are rarely right, and when you are right, you probably won’t realize it and might even think yourself wrong. Answer them before you set this column aside. You may even thank me.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

THE UNWORKABLE PARADOXES OF “ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE”

ENVIRO

On August 1st the Massachusetts House voted 142-17 to include a so-called ‘environmental justice’ amendment into the pending 2050 Roadmap bill setting our State’s future energy policy. The size of the vote suggests the bill won’t be successfully vetoed, even assuming that it should be vetoed.

What then is “environmental justice” ? Is there such a concept beyond the phrase ?

Proponents say that the term means that when energy policy is set, its environmental consequences should not disproportionately impact certain communities or neighborhoods. This sounds good. Equal protection of the laws, a principle we supposedly all accept, requires that energy laws, like any other laws, give equal, not unequal, protection to all.

The “environmental justice” amendment, however, is not a principle but an application of a principle. The devil as always, is in the details. The following lengthy quote from WBUr’s report on the House’ s discussion, tells us much :

Madaro’s amendment, in addition to defining an environmental justice community based on new race, income, and language-proficiency criteria, would give community members a much more meaningful role in the decision-making process about new projects. It also, importantly, says that any future environmental impact statement must take into account something called cumulative impact.

Right now, when a state agency like the Department of Public Utilities or the Energy Facilities Siting Board weighs whether to approve a pipeline, highway or other big project, it looks at whether the pollution from that specific project would exceed state law, but it doesn’t necessarily take into account any background pollution. (This has been a big point of contention in the ongoing fight over the Weymouth Natural Gas Compressor Station.)

“You have to look at the whole picture and the cumulative impact that EJ populations have been bearing the brunt of,” Belén Power says. “It makes a big difference to look at the entire picture and all of the burdens that communities like Chelsea, East Boston, Brockton and so many others are already carrying.”

If this provision becomes state law, it could have a really big impact on where big infrastructure and energy projects can be sited, she says.

That last sentence serves us a warning. Utility facilities have to be sited somewhere. They can;’t be floated up in the sky but must stand on planet Earth. Given passage of this amendment, where, then, will utility facilities be sited ? If not in or near an “:environmental justice” community, then where ? In a community that is not entitled by law to “environmental; justice” ? The language of the amendment suggest that it’s OK to place an electric power substation or gas pipeline transfer house in a neighborhood of higher income, or that is home to a smaller population of color than protected by the Madaro amendment. Yet communities of this sort have political clout. Will they approve such a utility station ? I am betting not. It’s in such communities that one finds the bulk of climate crisis activists.

Where, then, can a new or renovated electric port gas facility be sited ? Probably they can’t be sited anywhere.

There are plenty of environmental activists who would be quite happy to see electric and gas facilities disappear. Solar and wind, those are their thing. Let’s not forget that the so-called “Green New Deal” envisions just this, not to mention an end to airplanes (!)

I mention airplanes because, as State Representative Madaro specifies, the East Boston neighborhood which he represents lives with enormous environmental impacts from Logan Airport. Logan could never be built today, unlike in the 1920s. It abuts East Boston. planes almost skim East Boston rooftops as they come in for landing. Take-off noise often deafens residents. Jet fuel burns create substantial pollution. Car traffic to and from the airport stuffs east Boston streets. If any Massachusetts community houses environmental overload, East Boston is it.

There’s also an electric substation issue in East Boston. For three years now, Eversource has sought to build one on empty land abutting Chelsea Creek — empty but neighbor to a fish processing plant, baseball field and numerous homes. The proposed site fails on all kinds of levels, and I have written opposing it. I still do oppose it. My objections, however, have had to stand on their own criteria. These haven’t a law to fall back on, one that precludes the substation for reasons whose application creates a “catch-22.”

If the 2050 Roadmap Bill is enacted — which it likely will be — objections to the Eversource substation will be mooted, and my friends who oppose it can celebrate. But their celebration comes at the cost of creating a law that imposes next to impossible conditions on utility services, which we all need. Even East Boston needs them. Good luck getting them henceforth. And what of the airport, whjich expands all the time as Boston becomes ever more commerce-prosperous ? Oh well, that isn’t the legislature’s problem, I guess. If they make it hard for businesses to op;erate, or for customers to access them, well, that’s just collateral damage ?

Proposals like the Eversource substation should have to stand or fall ON THEIR OWN MERITS, not have their prospects barred by legislation that simply overrides the major issues involved because it’s easier to close doors than to have to make decisions on who they can open for.

—- Mike Freedberg / Hereand Sphere

THE BLACK LIVES MATTER CAUSE : WHAT IS ITS OBJECTIVE ?

black

^ First Amendment in action, yes. But what, exactly, do these protesters want ?

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More than two months have passed since the current wave of “black lives matter” protest began. The movement is said to be the largest ever in our history. Maybe so, although I recall that Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights movement was quite large and enormous. However, it is not my purpose to measure but to ask two questions : what, precisely, is the “black lives matter” movement trying to achieve ? What, if anything, CAN it achieve, if all goes well ?

It was easy to understand  Martin Luther King’s movement. He and his helpers, followers, and supporters wanted things promised in writing in the Constitution : full voting rights and laws to enforce of the “privileges and immunities” guaranteed to all citizens by the express language of the 14th Amendment. The 15th Amendment gave Congress full power to enforce these guarantees by legislation. The King movement asked Congress to pass that legislation.

You could read everything that King and his million followers asked for.  It was nothing that any of us has not asked for. The “black lives matter” protest hasn’t the same certainty. Its objectives are vague and not written down. I’ll have more to say about that later.

The King movement had its leader, and a very special leader he was. A minister of God; always dressed Sunday best; dedicated strictly to nonviolence; and, a speaker of rare power, who used the words of our founding documents just as Frederick Douglass before him had done. King — and not only King but also A Philip Randolph, Medgar Evers, Charles Evers, Hosea Williams, Ralph Abernathy, and the late John Lewis — controlled the moral high ground, the political ideal, and the confrontations : and when beaten, imprisoned, and even murdered, Americans could not help but say that it was wrong what was being done against them. Opponents had only one option : explicit Jim Crow.

King’s movement was also sectional. He confronted the South only. People were reminded of the Civil War, which all of us knew and understood — fought and won by the rest of the country now overwhelmingly more numerous and powerful than the eleven states of the old Confederacy.

Yet despite all the advantages that the King movement possessed and made full use of, and even accounting his and his cohorts’ dignity, Constitutionalism, eloquence, and numbers, it still took a President of the United States, willing to split his party, to get through Congress a Voting Rights bill and a Civil Rights Act, each with enforcement teeth, that already had major support in both House and Senate.

The “black lives matter” movement’s links to the Constitution that we all swear to are “equal protection of the laws” and “due process of law” — guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. Then what of it ? Objection is made that our nation’s police departments do not give citizens of color equal protection; they discriminate and give citizens of color pressures that they don’t put upon others. That’s the case being argued.

Viral videos certainly make the police in them look bad, ready to discard the protections that we all have a right to demand, or to blunder grossly, as happened to Breoma Taylor.  Yet even the worst of those viral videos — and the one involving George Floyd and officer Chauvin is terrible to watch — seem anecdotal rather than outcomes of a policy of Jim Crow. No one has established that any police department, or any city authority, has a policy of treating citizens of color more harshly, on purpose, than they treat others. I am readily convinced that some police have that sort of racial animus, and that city authorities knowingly tolerate it. Yet that is an assumption on my part, as it it is on the part of protesters.

(Note — I wrote “protesters.” By “protesters” I mean peaceable protesters exercising First Amendment guarantees. Vandals., looters, highway blockers, car jackers, arsonists, muggers, and combat rioters confuse a movement that cannot afford to be trapped. Let’s not let them trap us.)

We’ll talk now about the protest itself :

( 1 ) It badly needs eminent leadership. I speak not of wealthy athletes and Hollywood celebrities but of civic and religious leaders. Where is this movement’s Martin Luther King? Its Charles Evers ? Its John Lewis ?

( 2 ) It MUST act as the King movers acted: dress in Sunday best, practice nonviolence, and protest IN THE DAYTIME, not under darkness of night.

( 3 ) It must have a specific, legislative objective that everyone can buy into. “F the police’ chants won’t do, indeed they alienate. Disband the police is not going to happen, and even calls to defund the police aren’t going anywhere except in a few very left-political cities. Police reform is, however, on the table. Be specific and practical. Win police support for it. Many police chiefs urge it. Why not accommodate them ?.

( 4 ) The movement MUST address Black on Black city crime. A shock-jock podcaster, Gillie da Kid, citing the hundreds of shootings in Chicago as one example,, says “Black lives ain’t gonna matter until they start mattering to Black people !” He is right. In some cities, strong Dads and Role Model movements began arising long before George Floyd. The movement should embrace these action groups and bring their leaders forward.

I emphasize this because the main reason why police departments put so much police presence into majority Black city neighborhoods — what protesters call “over-policing” — is because people who live in those neighborhoods are scared, and angry, hearing gun shots all the time, and they call 911. A lot. Moreover, police sometimes overreact because they have every reason to fear whenever they make a stop or an arrest in neighborhoods whose worst side is what they see so much of.

( 5 ) The movement must clearly reject the criminals. It must shut them out, policing itself. It can do this. It has security people and can deploy them to fend off the outlaws. Nothing I know of will win the movement more support from ordinary people than its shoving the outlaws away for good.

( 6 ) The movement must win the support of Black police officers. It isn’t going anywhere if it views them as the enemy.

( 7 ) the movement cannot have a marxist agenda.

( 8 ) the phrase “black lives matter” implies that to an unspecified group or number, they don’t matter. Who is being thus accused ? Name them. 

( 9 ) the movement might well fail, given its lack of leadership and absence of a specific, achievable objective. It can also fail for not making common cause with the entire nation, as the King movement did. The movement cannot say “if you’re not Black, you don’t understand. The rest of us HAVE TO BE INVITED IN. It cannot be about being Black.

So far, the movement — much wrapped up in congratulating itself — enveloped by Black, Black, Black — seems not to imagine failure or to care much about the consequences.   

Lastly, “black lives matter” has to mean more than an admonition to police departments.  It should embrace self-improvement initiatives and — above all — social integration. As long as most people who are not Black interact rarely with people who are Black, each will readily see the other as “other” and be a bit uncomfortable about it. Uncomfortable doesn’t make for a healthy social com[pact ! If we can’t alleviate social segregation, legal reforms will always lack solid foundation in community custom.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

THE CONSTITUTION AS THE NATION’s TEACHER AND SAFE HARBOR

constitution

^ our Constitution : the nation’s teacher — and its safe harbor to which we all sail course

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Having today finished reading Stephen Budiansky’s admirable biography of Oliver Wendell Holmes, I am moved to discourse again upon my own views about our nation’s Constitution. I have written of this subject before. You can read my earlier essay here : https://hereandsphere.com/2017/04/03/the-constitution-an-expansionist-document/. In that column I spoke a lot about Mr. Justice Brennan and his view that the Constitution expands organically as the nation expands that it guides. I wrote there that the Constitution expands not the powers it grants but the subjects to which it applies. That was good, as far as it went. I see nothing that I wrote there that needs taking back. Today, however, I wish to speak of the Constitution from another perspective entirely. I want to speak of it as the nation’s teacher, its political headmaster, and — a corollary — a kind of destination toward which the nation and its people sail course.

Much of the Constitution is a kind of operating manual. That’s the part of it that I wrote about before. Yet most of the Constitution’s Amendments aren’t so much operational as statements of principle. And here, in the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, 14th, 15th and 19th Amendments in particular, we meet the Constitution as teacher and as destination. The principles set forth are momentous. Nothing petty about them : freedom of speech, of religion, of the right to peaceably assemble; freedom from quartering of soldiers; freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures; guarantees of due process and rights to jury trial; freedom from cruel and unusual punishments; guarantees that every American citizen is a citizen of both his State and the nation; entitling him to all the privileges and immunities granted by any state; birthright citizenship; guarantee of equal protection of the laws, of State and nation; voting rights not to be denied on account of sex; and the application of all of these to all.

Everyone who reads the history of our nation since the years that these Amendments were adopted knows that the ink on parchment by which they were written down in no way assured that the principles therein would take universal effect easily or soon. None did. All required decades of conflict. Some required strife amidst violence by those who resisted. I needn’t elaborate the events we have read of, or participated in. My purpose here is to illustrate the situation created by the principles enunciated in a document we all profess to honor.

Holmes, in most of his Supreme Court rulings and dissents, always insisted on the principlar nature of our Constitution. Decisions in favor of actual litigants were to match Constitutional guarantees with facts on the ground. People at the bar of his Court — individually or as the citizenry of a State or city — were not to have their better life barred by logic but enabled by common sense : and to him, the great Constitutional principles — including those in the “operating manual” — expressed the common sense of political mankind. If not, how were they to be understood by common people ? And understood by all, they had to be, or the Constitution and the nation it guided risked a permanent class of the dissatisfied, the not understanding, or the not accepting.

As I have written to a dear friend, I see these great statements of sweeping principle as instruction given to us, the Constitution as the nation’s teacher. As I further wrote, I also see the great Amendments as a kind of harbor toward which our national boat sails, we being its helmsmen and crew. We were settled by immigrants brought here by ship (even the slaves came here thus albeit against their will), and ion important ways, that — the coming to an idealized, dreamt-of nation by ship — is our essential national experience. America did not exist when the first ships brought our first forbears here. It would  be no lie to say that America still doesn’t fully exist. In that sense, we are all — and I do mean ALL — immigrants coming by ship to a fully realized America, the America written in the Constitution’s great statements of principle.

Mel King, who galvanized so much of Boston when he ran for mayor in 1983, liked to say, “we came on different ships, but we’re all in the same boat now.” He meant simply that we have to work together, and so we do. Yet as I see it, we have more work than : striving toward being who we say we are. The Constitution has settled the question of which principles we are committed to. The wars that were fought to settle it have been fought, and the debates in Congress and in our elections have been debated. The nation is clear on which harbor we are headed to. The Constitution beckons us to plot a correct course and to build a ship that can get us there, that can withstand storms and tides, fair weather and foul. I think that if we see the Constitution in this light, we’ll be a lot clearer about which duties we have as citizen crew aboard what kind of political ship.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

JOE KENNEDY FOR UNITED STATES SENATE : MY PERSONAL OPINION

jOE

^ Joe Kennedy III at Tino Capobianco’s big meet & greet, last November 2nd

 

Here and Sphere has yet to endorse a candidate in the contest to elect our State’s Federal Senator whose seat is on the ballot this year. That does not mean that I, personally, do not have an opinion. I do have one. I’m voting for Joe Kennedy. In the Democratic primary on September 1st.

Why am I voting for him ? I don’t usually vote a Democratic primary ballot, but this time I am doing so. That was the first step I took : to pass by the two men seeking the Republican nomination for this office. Until the Republican party extricates itself from the ugliness of Mr. Trump, and from the nihilistic, bathroom-graffiti level of gripes that he has imposed on the party as substitute for an actual agenda — until, as I say, the party asserts an actual agenda that I can support, I won’t be voting in its primary, no matter who may step into that mud.

A Democratic ballot, i will take.

On the ballot on September 1st I will find two names : Ed Markey, the current US Senator,  a man I have known since he first sought public office — in 1972 — and Joe Kennedy, presently a multi-term Congressman from our 4th District (centered in Brookline and Newton).

Markey was a long-time Congressman from the Middlesex County District before  deciding, in 2013,  to make a late-career move to the Senate (the seat was open because John Kerry had been appointed Secretary of state.) In that contest, I consulted to a Republican candidate, Dan Winslow. When Gabriel Gomez won the GOP nomination, I voted for him.  I did not see then why Markey — an eloquent voice to be sure, on rare occasions when he spoke up — was surrendering his seniority in the House to become a back bencher in the Senate. He has since become as rigid a “no” vote as the current Senate has. I am not a fan of “the universal No.” it gets us nowhere.

I met Kennedy for the first time last November at a big house party in Winthrop, home of my friend, Tino Capobianco. At least 100 people attended — some of them political, most not. No woke activists were there, only Kennedy followers. I was very impressed to see so many moderately ordinary voters there — the sort who get involved in politics for somebody they like but who don’t mainline political opium. Activists are few, and have a tendency to rigid mind. They want this, this, and this done, period — no matter by whom. (The current crop also voices a tendency to racial

thinking, a sad detour which I want no part of.) Ordinary voters — a personal candidate following — have only modest goals : they want somebody they can look up to, who will do a good job and who will remember their names and be seen out and around from time to time.

That’s the politics of neighborhood, what the late Tip O’Neill had in mind when he famously said “all politics is local.”

Kennedy has built a solid reputation as a civil rights advocate. He has also partnered with Governor Baker on Federal funds requests. I like that.

During this campaign, however, he has, unhappily, attempted to match Senator Markey’s very progressive agenda : medicare for all, green new deal, abolish the electoral college, you name it. I have watched him say that, again and again, and I have winced. I wondered if I could vote for him after all or whether I should maybe just take a pass on the entire contest: for I am very opposed to all three of those positions.

It turned out that I had missed the real event : Kennedy was very solidly becoming the candidate of labor and of those personal-following voters I mentioned above — the State’s Joe Biden voters, the Pete Buttigieg voters, and the Amy Klobuchar voters. Meanwhile Ed Markey became the candidate of our “progressives,” those who actually want the agenda he talks of.

Our state has pretty much divided, politically, into three camps : Trump Republicans, with their 25 percent; the pragmatic Democrats, who may well number 45 percent; and progressive Democrats, who seem to number about 35 percent. I am committed to the pragmatic Democrats. Anybody who thinks that that commitment isn’t crucial should take a look at the police reform bill presently being conferenced. If we are to deflect its hurry and its recklessness, it will be the pragmatic Democrats who will do it. The same split looms large in Boston. Next year’s Mayor contest, like last year’s City Council, Congress, and District Attorney contests, will be a battle between the progressives and the pragmatics.

It is vital, therefore, that Joe Kennedy win his race. I am under no illusions that he will espouse any sort of conservative, or even moderate, positions; but I am fairly convinced that he will hurry nothing, will listen to all, will embrace ordinary voters first, and will work across the political aisle to get good stuff done. it was, after all, his late uncle, Ted Kennedy, who made Voltaire’s quip his motto : “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”

Joe Kennedy will, thank god, NOT be perfect. He will, however, be good. That’s my political comfort zone.

BACK TO SCHOOL, OR NOT ? SOME CONSIDERATIONS…

 

school

The major debate afoot right now is not what you think it is. It’s not the election, not black lives matter, not even how much money we’ll get in the coming stimulus bill, although that is definitely in our minds.

Instead, the really big issue for everyone is whether school, opening for the coming year, should be in person or online. As I do not have kids in school, the question does not directly impact me. Nonetheless, we are Here and Sphere for a reason. Important public policy is our mission’s arena, and no decision seems more significant to us than how to educate our kids.

What we can do, if not to decide the big question, is to make sure that important factors do not get passed by. First of these, in our opinion, is that in-person school is mandated for a reason : kids cannot do without peer interaction. Do we value “diversity,” or don’t we ? Kids in school meet all of each other and have to deal with all of each other. It’s hard enough a sit is to know contemporaries who live in different neighborhoods without imposing more drastic social isolation. An entire school year spent at home, learning in the anodyne medium of on-line, trades socialization for safety. Yet is it safe, socially, to do his ? I wonder.

Some will say that the reality is that kids will separate into cliques anyway, including skin color cliques, so nothing is in the end gained by requiring kids to attend in-person school. These observers may well be correct; yet are we to simply give in to undesirable social outcomes rather than do what we can to dilute them ? I understand that after graduation, out in the real world, kids, now adults, will enter workplaces in which “diversity,” more or less, is in place. I’m not satisfied with that answer. It’s much harder to develop a workplace friendship than a school one. At work, adults practice dissimulation. They “front,’ as the slang has it. In school, these social strategies are far less workable, not to mention not yet come to mind.

For all these reasons, I strongly favor kids returning to in-person school.

There is more — considerations of a different kind: money. The Boston Public School budget includes $ 106,000,000 for “transportation.” It shouldn’t be there in any case, but at least it is required for in-person schools., If Boston decides to impose online, at-home schooling, what becomes of the now otiose $ 106,000,000 ? And what of the school facilities maintenance budget, several millions of dollars ? It’s hard to justify not returning all these dollars to the taxpayer, yet I’ll sell you six hundred Portland antifa lasers if you think tax money will EVER be returned to those who pay it.

Lastly, a parenting consideration : if Boston school kids are required to school from home, who will watch over them ? Supposedly we would like to get people back to work sooner rather than later. For high-tech folks who work from home as a matter of course, no problem; but for first responders, retail workers, health care aides, transport workers, construction guys, and many more,. work from home cannot happen. They HAVE to go to a workplace. How can they do this if their kids are stuck at home doing school by “zoom” ? You say “daycare,” but individualized daycare is far too expensive for the very workers who will need it the most.

Finally, an ethical consideration : safety is important, yes, but is it so important that we discard all of the above for its sole sake ? Maybe so. Maybe we do that. But there will be a price paid : not by us but by the kids themselves whom we are running through a safety gauntlet..

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

 

THE HOUSE’s POLICE REFORM BILL STILL ISN’T READY. BUT IT CAN BE.

Kane

^ State Representative Hannah Kane : the five amendments which she emphaized to the House police reform bill can make the bill acceptable.

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Three days ago the Massachusetts House voted 93 to 66 to approve a police reform bill that still misses the mark. The bill is certainly less radical than  the Senate’s bill, which imposes impossible conditions on policing and on nurses, firemen, and first responders as well. Speaker DeLeo is to be commended for crafting a bill that can almost be accepted.

The House bill does not eliminate qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that exempts officers (and nurses, firemen, and first responders) from personal liability for actions taken in the course of their work. The Senate bill proposed to wipe qualified immunity out entirely. So far, so good for the House. Only officers who are decertified, as a result of a decertification procedure set forth in the House bill will lose their immunity. That is a fair compromise.

The bill also incorporates most of Governor Baker’s own certification and police training bill. It lacks only the $ 500 training bonus in Baker’s bill.

Yet the House bill still asks too much of officers. It imposes on officers a duty to intervene if they see an officer violating police procedure. I find that an unrealistic imposition. Officers are not going to second guess their fellows, or, if they do, their fellows are unlikely to want to partner with them in the future. In addition, decertification criteria remain unclear. They are to be reported by a commission created by this bill and tasked with informing us NEXT YEAR If that is thee case, why can’t the whole bill wait till next year ? What is the hurry ?

The House bill also bars schools from sharing with police departments incidents of gang activity on school premises. This is unacceptable. Schools are hardly exempt from gang works, indeed they are a locus of much other juvenile crime and have been thus since at least the 1970s, when teacher assaults became common.

During debate on the House bill, State Representative Hannah Kane, who represents Westborough and Shrewsbury, highlighted five amendments which would have made the House bill a successful consensus. Read them here :

• establishing a clear definition of what constitutes unprofessional police conduct, to include excessive use of physical force or repeated and sustained instances of behavior that violates departmental policies;
• protecting police officers from anonymous complaints by requiring that complaints submitted to the Division of Police Standards be from an identifiable complainant and signed under the pains and penalties of perjury;
• mandating that prior disciplinary actions resolved or adjudicated before the effective date of the bill not be considered sufficient on their own to deny an officer recertification, but may be used if the officer becomes the subject of further discipline after the effective date;
• eliminating language that prohibits school officials from sharing information on students who may be involved in gang activity with outside law enforcement agencies; and
• removing restrictive language that prevents individuals with prior law enforcement experience from serving on the new Massachusetts Police Standards and Training Commission.

Unfortunately, all five were rejected. I ask that the House reconsider the vote, or at least that Representative Kane’s amendments be added to the house while it is in joint conference.

The Speaker says he wants to get this 129 page bill to the Governor by Friday. I repeat my above question : what is the hurry ? This is a complex bill, making several significant changes to the operation of police forces — an institution basic to maintaining civic peace and safety. I cannot understand why our legislature would want to rush any such bill. Even if Representative Kane’s five amendments are added to the bill, it should be tabled and resubmitted next year so that all concerned can assemble their objections or support, after which extensive public hearings can be held.

That is what OUGHT be done. Will it be ?

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

GOVERNOR BAKER’s POLICE TRAINING & CERTIFICATION BILL IS THE ONE TO SUPPORT

 

Baker

There’s a lot to like in Governor Baker’s bill to establish certification of police officers and officer applicants. It’s the one police improvement bill the legislature should enact.

You can read its provision s here : https://www.mma.org/baker-polito-administration-files-bill-to-implement-police-officer-certification-system/

The bill is simple and functional. It includes none of the punitive provisions ore pejorative tone of the bill recently approved by the State Senate — a bill now being assessed by the House and which we do not like very much. It does not have a police review board specific to one interest group or tribe. It does not specify what police techniques re okay and which are not. It is not a “defund” bill.

Baker’s bill offers police and officer applicants a training bonus. Officers should be paid for the time they will be required to devote to the certification process. we like this provision.

In short, Baker’s bill seeks to bolster the credibility of police forces, not institutionalize distrust of them. Look : skepticism about power is built into our Constitutional system, and rightly so. Yet skepticism becomes an obstacle to good government when it feels like suspicion — when it operates as mere distrust. Baker’s bill, which was filed last month – and surprised most of us, including me — incorporates the same principles that today govern licensing of doctors, attorneys, and real e state brokers. it treats police as professionals and asks them to live up to that level of respect.

It is a good bill. We support it. Lets hope that the House embraces it and that in the ensuing joint conference with the Senate, the Governor’s bill, and not Senate 2820, sees its way to final enactment.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

NOTING A PATTERN ? YOU BET

Portland

^^ insurrection in  Portland, Oregon : supported by the same political drift people that opposes Israel defending itself

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Remember way back when, as Israel sen t troops deep into Lebanon to get rid of the PLO once and for all ?

Remember later, when Israel sent its forces into South Lebanon to do away with Hezbollah once and for all ?

Remember several times that Israel sent military force into the Gaza redoubt to get rid of Hamas once and for all ?

I do.

Every one of these uses of force was a crucial defensive move by Israel to destroy thugs whose avowed objective was to wipe out Israel. each said force had launched numerous rockets into Israel, and/or sent assassins into Israel to kill Jews. Eliminating these forces was a vital national interest.

What, then, did the world say about it ? Do about it ? I remember. With the exception of America and its closest allies, “the world” condemned Israel for defending itself. The “world” supported the thugs and the assassins. The ‘world’ called for censuring Israel. Only a US veto stopped it.

The censure was stopped, but not the noisy “worldwide” condemnations; and so in each case Israel bowed to pressure — much of it violent extortion — and stopped the mission short of completion. Each of these organizations lives on, threatening Israel and, in the case of Hezbollah, amassing weapons to attack it and blackmail it. Israel remains under dire, existential threat, forcing the nation to maintain an enormous armed presence and to ally with repressive regimes in its region that share Israel’s enmity for its enemies.

Fast forward to today and to the West Coast of our own nation. An armed insurrection, of avowed marxists, violent and determined to destroy our nation, riots, loots, intimidates, assaults, and burns two cities, Seattle in Washington and Portland Oregon. Our Federal government, which exists first of all to defend us, sends DHS forces into the two cities to defend Federal property and to arrest those who would damage it or attack Federal officers.

Not to snuff out the insurrection, even; just to defend property that belongs to you and me the taxpayer.

What, then, does the America-based version of the “world” that condemns Israel say about our Federal government doing its vital job ? They support the insurrectionists !

I know what I think of this deplorable abandonment of our nation at its most basic. I will refrain from publishing it. I do, however, say : there’s a pattern here. The same people who shout down Israel for defending itself shout down our Federal government for defending its property.

“Down with the police” doesn’t sound much different from “down with Israel.” Israel is America’s loyal ally; the police are Americans’ loyal defenders. Both must then go. Israel must accept defencelessness, and America must helplessly allow insurrectionists to destroy its economy, its cities, its police, its democracy.

By their rhetoric you can know them. The words of Israel’s haters are pretty clear. Those of our own insurrectionists — as well prepared for street battle and funded as Hezbollah was 20 years ago, and becoming ever more co-ordinated — cannot be missed. Our national heroes are enemies, our nation’s progress an injustice, our economy a theft, our people racists. Our insurrectionists are becoming as venomously racist as Israel’s enemies have long been poisonously anti-Semitic. “By their words shall ye know them” still applies.

The enemies of America and of Israel will surely attack me as this, and that, an d whoa and boo. You know what ? I take their attacks as a badge of honor. And so should you.

None of the above should you interpret as sympathy for Mr. Trump. I blame Mr. Trump for much of what is going on. His incompetence and his baiting of our enemies has simply opened the anthill. If fire ants are now pouring into our streets — and very little of it has anything at all to do with the murder of George Floyd; that ship sailed on Day Two — you should blame Mr. Trump as much as anyone.

Can Joe Biden do any better when he takes office next January ? He will bring us honest and competent government, yes. As for the insurrection, we’ll see.

I hope that Joe understands that the insurrection is directed first of all at the Democratic party’s established powers. Regular Democrats run almost all our cities and all of those in which insurrection is waged.

Defunding the Democratic power structure is the first battle being waged by the present insurrection, but this attcak upon Democratic governing bodies has been under way since 2013 at least. We see a mild version of it in Boston. We have watched the intolerant left gather force, a tentative subversion done by legal means : voting and campaigns.

Not so on the West Coast. there, naked rebellion is afoot. Will Joe Biden step in ? After all, its his power base that is under siege. Will he defend it ? We will soon enough find out.

—- Mike Freedberg / H\ere and Sphere