New England Politics

Written by Joe Tetreault | 06 January 2011

BOTCHED DRUG RAID IN FRAMINGHAM, MASSACHUSETTS These remain all too common and all too tragic. "If this case plays out like most of those before it, Eurie Stamps' death won't change a damn thing."

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Written by Joe Tetreault | 23 February 2010

Yesterday, Massachusetts Junior Senator Scott Brown voted for cloture on a $15 billion "jobs" bill.  This has riled some in the right wing of the blogosphere.  Among the aggrieved is Monica Crowley who writes:

In his maiden voyage vote, the newest member of the Senate, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, voted the wrong way. Yesterday, he voted with the Democratic majority for the $15 billion "jobs" bill. Apparently, Senator Brown fell hook, line, and sinker for the Democrats' line of BS that this WAS, in fact, a "jobs" bill.

It's nothing of the sort. It's Stimulus II. Since Stimulus I, in all of its $862 billion infamy, did not work, the Democrats decided they needed another big-spending monstrosity. So they produced this thing of a bill that costs us $15 billion we do not have. $15 billion we cannot afford. $15 billion for tax credits for businesses (which do not work in spurring job creation and are not to be confused with tax cuts, which do work) and highway spending.

In other words, it's nothing but spending. After the voters sent Senator Brown to DC to STOP spending. If they had wanted another Ted Kennedy spendaholic, they would have voted in Martha Coakley.

The problem however is that Brown went to Washington with the promise of stopping health care reform, not preventing the entirety of the democrat agenda.  What my conservative friends may have missed was he was the least bad option.  And that when forced to choose between bad options, bad results will follow.  Therefore if your objective is to stop ObamaCare then "Brownie", as Crowley calls him, is still doing a heckuva job.

Look, before the special election, Nate Silver's bunch at 538 showed that Brown was ideologically to the left of Dede Scozzafava, whose liberal leanings were suffiecient to encourage Doug Hoffman to run as an independent.  The lesson the tea partiers took from Hoffman's loss was that a little more than nothing is still more than nothing. By throwing their weight behind an ill-informed and relatively talentless politician, conservatives alienated the voting populace.  Instead of a pickup, the party sacrificed the seat in the name of purity.

Things were different in the Massachusetts special election.  What Crowley mistakes as closet liberalism is in fact what Brown was before he went to Washington.  If conservatives and libertarians are disillusioned they should reassess what exactly the better choice would have been.  Martha Coakley, Brown's opponent, would have voted for this legislation as well, but she also would have supported ObamaCare.  The libertarian in the race, Joseph Kennedy would not have supported either, but he would not have been successful against Coakley in the special election.  Casting aspersions towards Brown means the honeymoon is over.  But it doesn't mean that he isn't doing what he was elected to do.

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Written by Joe Tetreault | 18 January 2010

In May of 2008, Edward M. Kennedy was diagnosed with the lethal cancer that would claim his life little more than on year later on August 2009. The good people of the commonwealth of Massachusetts had been represented by Kennedy for 46 years. Ironically, one of his final decisions may have successfully paved the way for the defeat of Martha Coakley to succeed him.

Coakley has not as yet lost her contentious race against Scott Brown in the Massachusetts special election. Her faltering bid can be traced primarily to her lackluster campaigning. But look beyond Coakley's inadequacy as a candidate. Special elections are often outliers based on the whims of public opinion and get out the vote efforts. The herculean efforts of well-motivated candidates can sway the populace in even the most fundamentally recalcitrant enemy territory. Like Massachusetts with a Republican. Ironically, the decision to retain the Senate seat by Kennedy allowed the perfect storm that sends Mr. Brown to Washington.

A diagnosis in the early part of 2008 left ample time to conduct primaries and schedule a special election to coincide with the general election in November of 2008. As readers will recall, Republicans were on the retreat in 2008 and a special election concurrent with the general in Massachusetts would have likely resulted in a 20 point victory for Coakley (or whomever the Democrat candidate would have been) regardless of the ability to campaign by the Republican candidate. The fired up party at that time was not the Republicans or even fiscally moderate independents who are driving Brown's surge. The Democrats were in lockstep behind then Senator Obama as he steamed past John McCain. Any effort by the Democrats to paint the Republican candidate with a brush by Bush would have succeeded rather easily.

Instead, despite an elected Democrat governor holding office in the Bay State. Despite a monumentally good election for the Democrats in the offing. Despite the basic logic that fighting malignant brain tumors is best accomplished when one devotes the totality of one's being to the cause. Despite all this, Teddy Kennedy chose to stay on as Senator for Massachusetts. His appearances in Washington became rarer and rarer. His impact on legislation lessened. In a year when progressive liberals clutched the reins of power tightly their standard bearer was a premature ghost.

No one knew when Senator Kennedy would shake off this mortal coil, but even so, the decision to remain Senator allowed the climate to change, drastically. In his final months, the Tea Party movement went from an offhand comment by Rick Santelli on CNBC to a powerful coalition of angry voters. Voters who held the Democrats in particular and incumbents in general to account for the spiraling deficits.

It was Kennedy's signature goal, universal health care for Americans that derailed Coakley the most. Incessant back room deals after Kennedy's death soured voters even more on the current Congress. It's difficult to fathom the terms more starkly. One election would effectively determine the fate of the spendthrift agenda wending its way through Washington. In arguably the most liberal of states, the nominee of the dominant party so foolishly assumes the race was over before it began. Challenging her, taking on the mantle of leviathan slayer, one state Senator, whose own party hesitated to back him. All avoided if Teddy Kennedy had done the noble thing and step down to allow Massachusens to be represented in full during the 111th Congress. Now that's crushing hubris.

More Coakley-Brown coverage here and here and here.

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Written by Joe Tetreault | 12 January 2010

Professor Jacobson obliterates Coakley's negative ad.
The Senate language will provide protection for hospitals and doctors who, due to religious or moral beliefs (a broader exemption than Brown's "religious beliefs" standard), refuse to provide abortions. This language is broad enough to provide an exemption even in the case of rape victims. This language also is not dependent upon whether the abortion service otherwise is allowed under the Hyde Amendment regarding federal funding of abortions.

Since Martha Coakley supports the Senate bill, does this mean Coakley wants to deny care to rape victims?


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Written by Joe Tetreault | 12 January 2010

The HuffPo's Jennifer Donahue seems to be conceding on behalf of Martha Coakley.
At a time when jobs are scarce, terror is back at orange, and heating oil is expensive, not to mention the rent, guess what: after one year, Coakley and the Democrats can give up talking about Bush-Cheney-McCain. They need to develop and focus on a clear consistent message that comes from the leadership and transparency voters mandated a year ago. Change can mean anything. But voters did not mean more of the same.
But as delicious as her penultimate paragraph is - reprinted in pixelated perfection above - it's the final graph I want to call more attention to. Plainly the special election is tilting towards Brown. Whether the democrats can staunch their hemorrhaging depends entirely on Coakley. While it is not Brown's race to lose, he's ahead on ideas and he's established himself as likable and safe to vote for. Coakley's tentative debate performance left her in third behind Brown and the independent candidate, Joseph L. Kennedy (no, not related) and her clumsy negative ad seems certain to only further beclown her.

Donahue's point that irked your humble correspondent is this one:

It happens to be a lousy week for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to be under attack for word choices and imperfect vote counting. It could just lead to a filibuster hungry GOP. And not because they picked up a message. Just because they stepped back to watch Democrats try to find their way in a time that is perhaps the most challenging to govern in eighty years. [ed.-Emphasis mine]
I'll grant you, the Republicans need a message. I'll grant you they have done little more than get out of the way of the Democrats as they hang themselves. But the climate is no more hostile now toward governance than at any time in our nation's history. The mistakes that have made governing difficult are the culmination of broken promises and a lack of ideas on the part of democrats. It comes to the fore when Coakley tries to tie Brown to Bush and Cheney. That was how they beat the Republicans who themselves had grown rather contemptible. Instead, amidst a economic downturn where 10% of the nation's workforce is out of work, the administration threw money at the problem in an entirely haphazard way, created an obviously bogus method of tooting their own horn and then with laserlike precision focused on every measure to intensify the uncertainty in the economy. Voters aren't dumb. They know when a politician lies to them, talks down to them and couldn't care less what they think. They know when a man repeats a commitment eight times prior to the vote and then utters it no more hence that it was a sham. Those elements contribute to the democrats inability to govern the ole US of A, and nothing else. no comments