James Baldwin on the Dick Cavett Show

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Tim Wise posted the link to this video on his Facebook page.

In a previous post “I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me”, I suggested we should all think about figuratively putting on other people’s shoes to imagine how they might view an issue. In this video clip, James Baldwin gives us a “shoe horn” to get those shoes on.

Perhaps the greatest show horn ever invented for trying on other people’s shoes was the movie Crash. The trailer for the movie gives you just a hint of what you are in for if you watch the movie.

The Snake in the Market Basket: Can the Company Recover From Employee Revolt Without Loading Up With Debt?

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The American Prospect has the article The Snake in the Market Basket: Can the Company Recover From Employee Revolt Without Loading Up With Debt? by Robert Kuttner.

The article closes with these two paragraphs.

Until now, Market Basket has operated with no debt and lean management, which  enabled it to combine good wages and low prices. Mackin views the Market Basket victory as the rare thwarting of a trend to rationalize retailing to the benefit of shareholders and middlemen at the expense of workers and independents that often manage more efficiently.

Yet the piper must be paid, and the money to pay back the private equity partners (whose entire business model is quick windfalls) must come from somewhere. Worse case, we have variant of Orwell’s Animal Farm, where after a while you can’t tell the humans from the pigs.

This is exactly the issue I worried about when I heard that the deal to buyout the “bad” cousins involved a lot of debt.  It may not have been obvious to all readers, but the issue was behind my comments in my previous post A Scary Thought.

Jamie Eldridge: Why I’m voting for Don Berwick for Governor

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State Senator Jaimie Eldridge has posted on Blue Mass Group the article Why I’m voting for Don Berwick for Governor .

Well, just as the members of the House and Senate progressive caucuses, and thousands of advocates and activists across the state do our part every year to create comprehensive change, we need a Governor who is equally committed to this level of transformation. And a Governor, with the power of the bully pulpit, the support of the grassroots, and ability to coordinate state efforts, can make this kind of change a reality.

In listening to Don Berwick speak to hundreds and thousands of people in Massachusetts, whether in people’s homes, at the Democratic state conventions, Democratic cookouts, and our one on one conversations on the phone, in the State House, or in his office, I believe that Don Berwick has the abilities to change the status quo that remains in so many policies in Massachusetts, which is holding the state and its people back.

I saw this article thanks to Michael Horan for posting the link on his Facebook page. I responded to his comments about the article before reading the article itself.

I said that I am voting for the person I would really like to see in the office, not for the person I think that most other Democrats will like. In the end, I hope that they are the same thing.

The one issue I would like to see Don address is the need for the governor to work with the other branches of government (the legislature in particular). I have heard it said that one of Deval Patrick’s failings is his inability to work with the legislature. Whether true or not, it is an issue for Don to address. He says he is not a politician and does not want politics as usual. That is fine for him, but there are lots of politicians who will remain in government and will be exerting power.

Senator Eldridge wrote in his article:

And yet there are things that happen on Beacon Hill that make me shake my head. A wasted opportunity on a progressive tax package that does not adequately invest in transportation infrastructure, underwhelming increases in public education, welfare, immigration and criminal justice “reforms” that only further punish the poor and oppressed, and state agencies that have made only modest progress on social suffering and moral outrages such as the state’s homeless crisis, and deep poverty in struggling cities and towns.

His reference to not adequately investing in transportation infrastructure may be to a different bill from the one that is a particular bone of contention of mine.  Earlier, Deval Patrick proposed a large sum for investing in transportation infrastructure.  The bill that the legislature passed was only about half of what the Governor proposed.   I was particularly incensed when, at a Sturbridge Democratic Town Committee annual lunch, Democratic State Senator Stephen Brewer bragged about how he has saved us money by cutting back on the amount of money to be spent.  About a year later, at the next annual lunch, I spoke to a State Rep who told me that part of the problem with the Patrick bill was the wasteful way money would be spent because of the order of certain projects in the bill.  I think at this time, she also mentioned the Governor’s habit of presenting bills on a take it or leave it basis instead of holding appropriate discussions with the legislators before presenting a bill.

As I said in my remarks to Michael Horan, I don’t know if this assessment of Deval Patrick is correct, but it does raise the issue of how non-politicians can succeed in a political office.  I am pleased to hear that State Senator Jamie Eldridge  thinks that Don Berwick has the necessary skills.  I’d like to see Don Berwick address this issue in public so that the rest of the voters can have the same feeling as Eldridge.

Tolman apologizes for calling Healey’s questions ‘unbecoming’

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The Boston Globe has the article Tolman apologizes for calling Healey’s questions ‘unbecoming’.

To give you the context of this story, they provided the following video:

For me the issue is not the words he used. It is his refusal to answer the question.

In Joan Vennochi’s OpEd column Unbecoming issue in the AG race, she says:

Tolman says Healey is wrong to characterize him as a lobbyist, even though he was listed as one for SEIU Local 1199, and Holland & Knight, the law firm for which he worked, also listed him as a federal lobbyist. Whatever the paperwork said, Tolman never lobbied at the state or federal level, a campaign spokesman said.

If Tolman is afraid to hit back, the time for reticence is over. He needs to explain his record with as much intensity as his opponent is questioning it, no matter how unbecoming he appears.

If he were a lobbyist for SEIU, that is not bad in my opinion. Why couldn’t he just say so? As for his working with a hedge fund and a gambling organization, I want him to answer to those questions. If he has a good answer, why doesn’t he just say what it is? If he doesn’t have a good answer or he refuses to answer, then I am definitely not voting for him.

It is funny the way The Boston Globe is playing this. If you see my previous post, Globe Debate Between Maura Healy and Warren Tolman, you see that they called it a feisty debate, but they didn’t tell you why they called it that. Even in today’s news article they have not addressed the point in print. The real issue in the debate isn’t mentioned in the news, only on the OpEd page. Although, for those who see the article on the web, they do get to see the video clip that lets you decide for yourself whether or not this is the issue.

Also notice how The Boston Globe does not even mention how dismissive Tolman was on the importance of Maura Healey’s role in the current Attorney general’s office. That is probably a worse offense than the comment about unbecoming.

House Calls with Don Berwick

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Don Berwick has a new ad House Calls with Don Berwick.

You have to give him some credit for creativity in political ads. Maybe he can even teach you to play the piano.

Fed Chair Signals Possible Policy Shift on Unemployment

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The Real News Network has the story Fed Chair Signals Possible Policy Shift on Unemployment.

EPSTEIN: Well, when the financial crisis hit, the central bank, the Federal Reserve, created about ten to 15 new tools of policy to try to bail out the banks. And while it’s a very good thing that they devoted this conference and a lot of research to trying to figure out what’s going on with the labor market, they need to do a lot more research and devote a lot more attention into what other kinds of tools the central bank can use to generate more and better employment. So, for example, my colleagues here at PERI, Bob Pollin and others, have talked about loan guarantees, asset-based reserve requirements, various kinds of credit lines, and so forth for institutions that are trying to generate more and better jobs to create infrastructure, make the green transition to a fossil [fuel] free economy, and so forth.

This brief video was a tantalizingly brief introduction to what the Fed might be doing to address the unemployment issue. I’d like to hear much more about what tools could be invented for use by the FED. I wonder if the FED could have come up with means to get mortgage relief directly into the hands of homeowners rather than trying to trickle it down to them through the banks.

Although it will probably always be true that fiscal, tax, and regulatory policy have more tools to apply to the problem than the FED’s monetary policy.

A Scary Thought

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Here is something to keep you awake at night.  Imagine what Mitt Romney could have done if his Bain Capital had taken over Market Basket.

Imagine if we had an Attorney General that was good at some of the things Mitt Romney was good at.

August 28, 2014

If it is not clear to you about why this is a scary thought, look at my subsequent post The Snake in the Market Basket: Can the Company Recover From Employee Revolt Without Loading Up With Debt?

Globe Debate Between Maura Healy and Warren Tolman

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I received this email from the Healy campaign.

Maura Healey for Attorney General

Dear Steven,

“Unbecoming.” It means unattractive, indecorous. It’s not a word you hear men on Beacon Hill use about each other.

But that’s the word Warren Tolman used during today’s Boston Globe debate when Maura asked him to shed light on his hedge fund work, his online gambling company, and his work as a lobbyist.

Rather than answer the question, he said, “Maura, it’s just unbecoming.”

That’s right. “Unbecoming.”

As a prosecutor and a civil rights attorney, Maura understands that tough questions are how you get at the truth.

Can you join me in making a donation to keep Maura’s fight going?

Calling a woman “unbecoming” just because she’s asking tough questions is demeaning, sexist, and certainly no way to celebrate Women’s Equality Day.

I, for one, won’t stand for that. I hope you won’t either!


Marty Walz
President, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts

ContributeLike Maura Healey on FacebookFollow Maura Healey on Twitter
Maura Healey for Attorney General
PO Box 440223
West Somerville MA 02144 United States

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What I could find in The Boston Globe was the article Attorney general candidates spar in feisty debate. Here is an excerpt from the article.

Healey, a former top deputy to Attorney General Martha Coakley, spoke of being a tough litigator who has protected the vulnerable. “You are the people’s lawyer, that is the role of the attorney general,” she said.

Tolman, a former state senator who pushed significant tobacco and ethics reform through the Legislature, spoke of leading outside the courthouse on issues like sexual assault on college campuses.

“It’s a visionary kind of role that I see, where you look at issues, you tackle them — it could be in the courtroom, it could be outside the courtroom, it doesn’t matter,” he said.

There is not too much more to the article. Not very informative about why they chose the headline they did. Without the email from the Healy campaign who would know what Warren Tolman has been doing since he left office.

I am pretty sure i don’t want an Attorney General off having visions and neglecting the basic work of going after the (white collar) criminals. (It would be great if he could do both aspects of the job effectively.) The only thing that could partially rescue Warren Tolman in my eyes would be if he addressed his work since he has been out of office. He needs to explain what he has learned about the miscreants he met that he should be prosecuting when he gets elected.

Can you picture Elizabeth Warren, who wants to put some bankers and hedge fund managers in jail, working closely with our state’s Attorney General, who worked for a hedge fund and owns a gambling company? It would also make all the difference in the world to know what kind of lobbying he did.

August 28, 2014

See my subsequent post Tolman apologizes for calling Healey’s questions ‘unbecoming’ to see a video clip of the relevant section of the debate and to see why I think Tolman has dug himself an even deeper hole than I at first thought.

Maura Healey’s First Television Ad: “Hoops”

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Here is Maura Healey’s first television ad.

Is it just me or do others think that experience running a large part of the Attorney General’s office successfully ought to count for something? Other candidates might have merits too, but when you have someone who has proved that she can do the job well, why take a chance by looking elsewhere?

Maura Healey even has some ideas for running the Attorney General’s department across the state even better than it has been run so far. She knows that there is more to the state than what is inside Route 128.

Move Along, People, Move Along: There’s No Health Care Corruption to See Here

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Naked Capitalism has the article Move Along, People, Move Along: There’s No Health Care Corruption to See Here and it is not about Obamacare.


As we have said before, when health care corruption is actually discussed in polite circles, including the scholarly literature about medicine and health care, the discussion usually refers to corruption elsewhere. In particular, in developed countries, discussion of health care corruption usually focuses on less developed countries.

Now we see that when the issue clearly is the possibility of health care corruption, even the news media will avoid using such a term. Articles may describe what amount to health care corruption. They may refer to it as corruption. But they will not pair that term with health care (or medicine, or anything similar). The subject of health care corruption remains taboo. As long as we do not discuss it, some can preserve the illusion that it does not exist. Thus the anechoic effect continues.

So to repeat an ending to one of my previous posts on health care corruption…. if we really want to reform health care, in the little time we may have before our health care bubble bursts, we will need to take strong action against health care corruption. Such action will really disturb the insiders within large health care organizations who have gotten rich from their organizations’ misbehavior, and thus taking such action will require some courage.

The article is also a good reminder of why the Rick Perry issue of abuse of power is not just some political game of a disgruntled district attorney. There is serious health care corruption at issue here.

The remarks about Perry’s support for HPV vaccination of every Texas girl is quite revealing. It wasn’t an out-of-character move by Perry, after all.