MA Senate votes on Criminal Reform today

Today the Massachusetts state Senate considers a Criminal Justice Reform package filed by a group of senators including Will Brownsberger and Claire Cronin:

https://willbrownsberger.com/senate-criminal-justice-reform-package/

Progressive Massachusetts has done an analysis of amendments to the package. Call your state senator:

https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator

and ask them to support or vote against specific amendments to the package:

http://www.progressivemass.com/2017_10cjr-senateamendments

or use the EMAIL link to email them.

Two additional bills in the Senate preserve visitation for families of prisoners, which Bristol County residents, especially, should support:

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S1278

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S1335

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Mainstreaming white supremacy

On Thursday morning the SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce had Bristol County sheriff Tom Hodgson and Helena DaSilva Hughes to breakfast at the Wamsutta Club to discuss immigration. During his presentation the sheriff cited questionable statistics from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), claiming that illegal immigration costs taxpayers $116 billion a year. The CATO Institute calls FAIR’s new study “fatally flawed” and “even more sloppy” than their previous one.

It would have more appropriate for Hodgson to speak about opioids, recidivism, or suicides. He actually knows something about the latter since his own jail accounts for a quarter of all county prison suicides. But there he was – again – acting as a spokesman for FAIR’s white supremacist immigration policies and conveniently avoiding trouble in his own backyard.

In 2015 Tom Hodgson appeared with Dennis Michael Lynch at an Islamophobic venue in Stoughton which had previously hosted Dutch neo-fascist Geert Wilders. Lynch is an Islamophobe, a white supremacist, a supporter of the Constitutional Sheriff Movement and of sovereign citizen Cliven Bundy, about whom he made a film.

That same year Hodgson appeared with a representative of the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR) at the Fisherman’s Club in New Bedford. Despite the name, FAIR has little to do with reform. Instead, its goal is assuring White Anglo-Saxon dominance. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, FAIR has links to white supremacists and eugenicists. Its founder, John Tanton, wrote to one eugenicist: “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”

In 2016 the Sheriff was one of three speakers at a “Patriots Unity Day” rally in Randolph. The second speaker was Jessica Vaughan, of the nativist organization Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). Like FAIR, CIS was founded by John Tanton and publishes dubious statistics on immigration. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, CIS also maintains links to white supremacist and anti-semitic groups. CIS executive director Mark Krikorian quipped after the deadly 2010 Haitian earthquake: “My guess is that Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough.” The third speaker was Raymond Hanna with the anti-Muslim hate group ACT for America, which also has white supremacist ties. In Arkansas ACT’s “March Against Shariah” events were organized by a Nazi and publicized on Stormfront.

In June this year the Sheriff appeared with Dan Stein and Michelle Malkin at an annual “Hold their feet to the fire” broadcast with anti-gay bigot Sandy Rios. Stein is executive director of FAIR, and characterizes America’s immigration laws as an effort “to retaliate against Anglo-Saxon dominance.” Stein describes Central American immigrants as engaged in “competitive breeding” and asks: “Should we be subsidizing people with low IQs to have as many children as possible, and not subsidizing those with high ones?” Malkin too has links to white supremacist groups, including VDARE, and to Islamophobic groups. Malkin opposes the 14th Amendment, which gave citizenship to slaves.

According to FAIR’s 2011 annual report, that was the year the organization began cultivating sheriffs like Hodgson. “In 2011, we identified sheriffs who expressed concerns about illegal immigration.” FAIR staff “met with these sheriffs and their deputies, supplied them with a steady stream of information, established regular conference calls so they could share information and experiences, and invited them to come to Washington to meet with FAIR’s senior staff.” Since roughly that time Hodgson’s main job has been as a FAIR spokesman.

It’s hard to believe that the avuncular fellow who sends Thanksgiving turkeys to deportees in the Azores could really have such horrific views. But when the sheriff keeps consorting with white supremacists, singing and quoting their lyrics in the original German – well – it’s hard to reach any other conclusion. Tom Hodgson is a white supremacist.

It was disappointing that the Chamber of Commerce gave this hater a mainstream platform, and worse, an opportunity to skip another day of work – taking care of the business Bristol County voters actually elected him to do.

2018 Midterms

Midterm elections will be here in fifteen months. Every seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and a third of all Senate seats will be up for grabs. The state Democratic primaries will be here long before that, but nobody seems to be worried — except maybe the worry-warts and Cassandras who see disaster unfolding.

Democrats are divided on moving right or moving left, so instead the party has chosen “we’re against Trump” as its anthem. Massachusetts Democrats heard a five-hour preview of this song at the June 3rd convention in Worcester. But merely opposing Trump has limited appeal to Republicans, unenrolled voters, and progressives. Instead, voters are asking: What have you done for me lately? And: What do you really stand for?

Democratic leaders say they are working on something great (sounds like Trump) but they’re in no rush to let American voters in on their secret. When Democrats finally do come up with a new platform, as POLITICO points out, even if it is progressive, centrist Democrats say they’ll chart their own political course. Words are cheap. Platforms apparently are even cheaper.

Democrats face not only apathy and division but a demographic crisis. According to the non-partisan Voter Participation Center at Lake Research, the “Rising American Electorate” (millennials, unmarried women, and people of color) are more likely to stay home for 2018 midterm elections or remain unenrolled than in 2012. In Massachusetts the net loss is expected to be 12.7%, while in states like New Mexico it may be as high as 29.6%. A total of 40 million Americans will drop out of the electoral process. And unfortunately they won’t be Trump voters.

If Democrats cannot agree on a platform, they should at least make voting rights and voter registration a major effort. But so far it’s been radio silence from both the DNC and MassDems.

Among the races coming up in Massachusetts and our slice of the SouthCoast:

  • Elizabeth Warren is up for re-election but her victory is far from assured.
  • All nine U.S. Congressmen seem likely to run unopposed in the primaries as they did two years ago, although in 2012 Sam Sutter challenged Bill Keating (9th Congressional district) in the Democratic primary and got a surprising 40% of the vote.
  • Republican Governor Charlie Baker is up for re-election and any Democrat who wants to take on the telegenic and personable (but nevertheless Republican) governor really needs to emerge as a strong challenger long before the March primaries.
  • William Francis Galvin ran unopposed for Secretary of the Commonwealth in the 2014 primaries, and we’ll probably see a repeat of this in 2018.
  • Popular Attorney General Maura Healey is clearly running an aggressive re-election campaign, taking no chances.
  • Treasurer Deb Goldberg had two primary challengers in 2014 and squeaked by with 55% of the vote in the 2014 general election. Republicans will be gunning for her job again this year.
  • Auditor Suzanne Bump won with 57% in the 2014 general election and ran unopposed in the primaries.
  • Governor’s Council member Joseph C. Ferreira (1st district), who ran unopposed in both the 2014 and 2016 primaries and also unopposed in both general elections, will likely run for his campaigning-free $36K a year job.
  • State Senator Mark Montigny (2nd Bristol and Plymouth), who has generally run unopposed in both primaries and general elections since 1992, will be up for re-election.
  • State Representative Christopher Markey (9th Bristol) is up for re-election. Markey has had periodic challengers (Alan Garcia, Patrick Curran, Joe Michaud, Russel Protentis, Robert Tavares, Raymond Medeiros) but the conservative Democrat has somehow clung to his $75K part-time job.
  • In 2014 Bristol County Commissioner John Saunders was challenged in the primaries by Daniel Dermody but ran unopposed in the general election.
  • In 2014 Sam Sutter ran for Bristol County District Attorney and had no challengers in either the primary or the general election.
  • In 2016 Thomas M. Quinn ran for Bristol County District Attorney and had no challengers in either the primary or the general election.
  • A couple of bland part-time positions offer six-year terms, nice salaries, and generally few challengers:
  • Mark J. Santos has run unopposed for the last 18 years as Bristol County Clerk of Courts. There have been no primary or general election challengers in all this time for his $110K job.
  • In announcing his retirement last March, Mark Treadup, a former school board member, former city councilman, former state representative, former county treasurer, former county commissioner, and former member of the Governor’s Council, bequeathed his most recent job as Career Democrat to Susan A. Morris, but it was given instead to fomer New Bedford mayor Fred Kalisz to finish out Treadup’s term.

At this late date Democrats are unlikely to get their act together. Careerism, apathy, and division can’t be cured overnight. And voter trust remains the critical issue. A party’s actions will always speak louder than platforms and promises.