'We need to face up to needed structural changes' Paul Volcker makes his case for financial reform. It’s persuasive. It’s also encouraging that he advocates, repeatedly, the need for comprehensive international agreements, something I mentioned the other week. The big global banks have to be on a level competitive playing field. Global competition is the primary reason, or at least the stated reason, why so many Wall Street firms originally went public and why they pushed for repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in the late 1990s. A global agreement limiting the functions of large financial firms would theoretically remove that global-competition argument. …
Harvard’s Niall Ferguson and UB’s Laura Tyson warn that breaking up “too big to fail” banks is too simplistic and not enough. Ferguson even says the financial crisis really wasn’t caused by banks being too large. OK, let’s concede that point. But are we or are we not now bailing out the banks considered “too big to fail”? Volcker argues regulating future bank actions – such as risky securities investments – isn’t good enough. History shows Wall Street and regulators have a short memory and rules get changed, he says. The best “fail-safe” method is breaking up banks – and regulating them, he says.
¶ 6:32 AM
P.S. -- It reflects well on both sides for doing it and allowing the cameras in.
¶ 12:17 PM
Sorry, but … I like Christy Mihos. He’s Massachusetts’ very own loose cannon, in the most positive sense, keeping establishment pols on their toes, especially when he served on the old Turnpike board.* But this isn’t good. We all have our own financial problems. But he’s running for governor. There’s a difference. …
* Isn't it great to refer to the “old” Turnpike board? The unfair tolls and hacks live on under another agency roof. But it's still nice to know there's one less independent board out there wreaking independent havoc. ...
¶ 9:17 AM
'Hardly a hermit' Nice story about J.D. Salinger. ... Over coming days, weeks, months and years, we're inevitably going to find out some weird details about Salinger's private life. He was indeed more than a little weird. He did withdraw from life to a large extent. He was intensely private. But he apparently was far from being a Howard-Hughes-like recluse in Cornish, where he effectively hid in the semi-open with the help of neighbors. ... This Zen-like line perfectly sums it up: “If you did not go looking for him, he was there. If you did, he was not.” …
Update -- Dan has more about a part of Salinger’s life that I didn’t know about. …
¶ 8:40 AM
‘Am I wrong? Am I missing something?’ Part II This post has bugged me since I wrote it and people emailed in the other day. For the record: I was wrong. It’s sort of like one of those psychiatric ink-blot tests. One person sees one thing in a scribbled mess; another person sees something else. If you’re looking at the state budget from the perspective of Deval’s budgets (not including the larger FY 2011 budget he proposed earlier this week), the fact is they haven’t ‘skyrocketed.’ If you’re looking at it from the perspective of state spending in general over the past five years (and that’s the way I initially and sincerely looked at the proverbial ink blot), state spending has indeed ‘skyrocketed,’ despite a recession and spending cuts. … I guess we could say “we’re both right” – and that would technically be true. But it would be a cop out. The original BMG piece was written in the context of Deval’s budgets (setting aside what Baker meant about skyrocketing spending). So I was wrong. I should have written in response to the ‘Am I wrong?’ question: “No, you’re not wrong about Deval's budgets.” And then responded to the ‘Am I missing something?’ question: “Yes. Step back. Look at the ink blot from a different, longer-term perspective.” … But I didn’t say that. So I was wrong. …
There. Got that off my ink-blot-analysis chest.
¶ 8:08 AM
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
'The signs are clear' Some real interesting exit-poll results from last Tuesday's election. The 'working-class revolt' and 'gender matters' sections caught my attention.
Update -- From Reader AM:
Very interesting. Coakley, to the extent that she ran any kind of positive campaign, ran on "women's issues" -- health care, of course, but also the way she presented her DA/AG record. I really believe that Massachusetts voters don't like prosecutors, but if she'd talked more about going after murderers as opposed to wifebeaters, she might have done better among men.
'You want ugly buildings? I'll show you ugly buildings' Adam goes on a great rant about about modern architecture and ugly buildings:
People resent structures like City Hall not because they are different but because they represent a deliberate attempt to stamp a giant boot on the face of the people who paid for it forever (John Collins was, I'm sure, a perfectly grand fellow, but that Orwellian homage to him on the side of City Hall fits the building perfectly). The JFK Building is decried not because it is new (or was when it was built) but because it's insipid and bland - just like those skyscrapers for which an entire vibrant neighborhood was torn down a few blocks away. Damn right people resent having the "old" taken away from them when that represents their homes.
For the record: I happen to like the “new” City Hall and many other modern buildings. But Adam’s right that architecture has gone through a long, tired period of either trying to shock the bourgeois or trying not to come across as bourgeois – and the results too often are ugly “modern materials” monstrosities like the Interncontinenal Hotel, etc.
¶ 6:28 PM
How not to distribute aid How not to distribute food and aid in Haiti: Drive trucks up, dump sacks of rice and boxes out the back, cause near riot. How to distribute aid: View the Dr. Pape interview toward the bottom left here. It’s a little counterintuitive. But not that counterintuitive. The bottom line: Don’t give already desperate people a reason to worry, panic or riot. … NBC’s Robert Bazell has kind words for the work being done at GHESKIO in Port-au-Prince.
¶ 12:13 PM
'Either he steps up and starts to do his job or ...' John has some excellent advice for President Obama.
¶ 8:38 AM
‘Am I wrong? Am I missing something?’ Ah, when state spending increases from $22.2 billion to $27.7 billion over five years, for a 24.7 percent spike, I’d say the budget has ‘skyrocketed.’ … OK, let’s use the projected budget figure. It’s still a 21.6 percent increase -- despite a recession. Lord knows what it would have been without the worst economic downturn in decades. …
Update – A couple of readers have emailed in to disagree. First, A Reader:
I think you're really cherry-picking your stats. Did spending "skyrocket" under this governor, as Baker has claimed? Pure nonsense.
Romney's last budget: 26.2 bill FY10 Budget: 27.0 bill
That's a 3% increase over three years -- NOT accounting for inflation, i.e. it's a *cut*.
The jump between 07 and 08 can at least partially be on account of health care expansion, a big chunk of which was paid for by the federal Medicaid waiver.
I mean ... come on. And to say, "without the worst recession" ... yeah, if things were different, they'd be different. But Baker's statement is still just plain nonsense.
And from Ben:
If you do the math, the growth averages out to 5% annually. Higher than inflation but not crazy if you factor in the healthcare cost.
My response: I’m going off the Baker quote provided in the post, i.e., state spending is skyrocketing. It’s a general statement with no reference to Patrick. So I took it at face value: state spending is skyrocketing. The numbers on the chart confirm, in my opinion, that contention. State government has grown by more than 20 percent in the past five years – despite the recession. I’m not cherry picking anything. The numbers provided are right there.
¶ 8:11 AM
‘What really happened in Massachusetts’ Really? … I could have sworn we just elected a Republican who explicitly opposed the current health-care reforms. … Michael runs into other liberals twisting last Tuesday’s election results into pretzels. Love their characterizations of male voters. Here’s a hint: Women good/men bad. Are you surprised? …
¶ 7:23 AM
Monday, January 25, 2010
‘The destructive duopoly’ Bill Frezza of Adams Capital Management in Charlestown asks all the right questions (and there are a lot of them) about how both political parties are failing the country:
Now that the runaway train of one-party profligacy has flown off the tracks in Massachusetts, is there any chance We the People might seize this opportunity to re-examine our party loyalties, challenging the destructive duopoly that's been serving our nation so poorly? How can the decisive repudiations of both the party of George Bush and the party of Ted Kennedy in quick succession possibly be spun to the merit of either?
Isn’t it obvious that a disgusted electorate has had enough of both?
I was mentioning the same thing to a friend via emails the other day, to wit: The ’08 election and Tuesday’s election were both about centrists smacking around the two parties. Neither party seems to get it. They win an election and automatically assume it's an endorsement of the policies of their respective bases.
¶ 12:13 PM
'The irony' Kevin and Jon gleefully pound into the Legislature’s too-cute-by-half changes to the state’s senator-replacement law. ...
¶ 10:29 AM
‘No state does it like we do’ I.e., stuffing as many patronage jobs as possible into a bloated probation department budget with no way to measure the agency’s effectiveness – and that’s just the way the legislature wants it. …
It's one of the worst-kept secrets in the budget process: stashing former lawmakers and their aides in the system as court clerks, assistant court clerks and assistant to the assistant clerk. Toss in the probation system and you have a system steeped in politically connected employees with varying interest in showing up for work.
Obama’s first-year faux populism funk My Herald colleagues, Howie, Peter and Margery, all offer their assessments of O’s first year. … Peter, whose political views I rarely agree with, is probably closest to the mark: The economy is killing Obama. Yesterday’s Washington Post-Kaiser-Harvard exit poll from Tuesday’s Massachusetts election tends to confirm that. But the discontent isn’t so narrow and simple. How the president has responded to the economy is also key – and the same WP-Kaiser-Harvard poll confirms that voters think the president and Dems have veered seriously off track. Think health-care. Think cap-and-trade. Think of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill that was really just a disgusting Dem spending orgy, with minimal WPA-style projects. Think how it was Massachusetts voters who sent this signal. … Hub Blog’s dart throwing skills were way off on Tuesday (undoubtably due to elbow problems), but my accompanying list of factors impacting Tuesday’s vote wasn’t far off, if you believe the exit polls. …
If Obama can now resist the temptation of faux populism, if he does not rage, like Lear on the heath, against banks, he can be what Americans, eager for adult supervision, elected him to be - a prudent grownup. For this elegant and intelligent man to suddenly discover his inner William Jennings Bryan (“You shall not crucify America upon a cross of credit-default swaps”) would be akin to Fred Astaire donning coveralls and clodhoppers.
That’s part of the first-year Obama disappointment: He’s elegant, intelligent and still popular – and, Rush Limbaught aside, people still want him to succeed. But he’s not going to succeed by lurching from Pelosi leftism to Bryan populism.
¶ 9:52 AM
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Is Brown the next Duke, Tsongas, Kerry and Romney? Peggy Noonan called it: The national ‘Congressional Vampires’ are already starting to claim Scott Brown as their own. You should have seen Monica Crowley and Pat Buchanan gushing over Brown last night on the McLaughlin Group, proclaiming him as the new Republican superstar, ranking him a ‘9’ on the GOP star charts, touting him as presidential material and I kept thinking, ‘He’s toast in Massachusetts if he goes down this road.’ … I hope he doesn’t go down the D.C.-celebrity road, jetting off to GOP fundraisers and rallies all around the nation. I don’t think he will. He seems well grounded. But he’s in a different world when he’s in Washington, and the temptations and pressures on him to conform and give in will be great. One of Brown’s aides, mindful of the reaction of fickle Massachusetts Independents in two and a half years, should be ripping up plane tickets that don’t read “Logan-Reagan National - round-trip.” …
As for the headline, they’re handy local reminders why Brown shouldn’t go down the constant-campaign road: Duke, ’88; Tsongas, ’92; Kerry, ’04 and Romney, ’08.* One might as well add Weld and Cellucci to the list, if you’re counting all the annoying Massachusetts pols who mentally checked out early on us. There’s always the chance Deval may yet land on the list, somewhat involuntarily.
* Doesn't include 'Kennedy, '80.' He was in a Camelot league all his own, though he technically could be included on the list.
¶ 11:27 AM
'Hope for Haiti Now' Last night’s Hope for Haiti Now telethon was great. Hats off to George Clooney for organizing it. But don't forget there are other worthy charities to donate to out there. My personal favorite is here. Dr. Jean Pape is interviewed on the bottom right. He's a great man doing amazing work. I can vouch for him. The money will be well spent. He now has thousands of refugees on his clinic grounds.
¶ 10:26 AM
Friday, January 22, 2010
‘The First Anti-Ted Kennedy Tea Party’ Some old WGBH footage from 32 years ago suddenly starts making the rounds. It’s an incredible cheap shot. Andrew Sullivan has completely lost it if he even remotely compares an old anti-busing rally to Tuesday’s protest vote against Democrats. … It never even occurred to me that someone would play the racist card. But there it is. …
P.S. -- I distinctly recall, in the early 1970s, lefty groups holding a major anti-Corporate America “tea party” protest in Boston. I don’t know why, but I used to have a poster advertising the event. Any locals know the protest I’m referring to? Anyway, I doubt we’ll see any connections made between it and Tuesday’s vote.
Update – I think I’ve found the early ‘70s lefty “tea party” protest I was talking about above (scroll down to “Influence”). It was on the 200th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. I was just a kid then, but remember it was a big deal. ... One other interesting factoid: Ghandi once made his own reference to the Boston Tea Party during the India ‘salt protest’ campaign against British colonialism. I’m pretty damn sure no one is going to connect Ghandi to today’s Tea Party movement and Tuesday’s vote. But you never know.
¶ 9:48 AM
‘The Nuts versus the Creeps’ Peggy on what the average voter has been roughly thinking over the past few years or so:
If you were a normal human sitting at home having a beer and watching national politics peripherally, as normal people do until they focus on an election, chances are pretty good you came to see the two major parties not as the Dems versus the Reps, or the blue versus the bed, but as the Nuts versus the Creeps. The Nuts were for high spending and taxing and the expansion of government no matter what. The Creeps were hypocrites who talked one thing and did another, who went along on the spending spree while lecturing on fiscal solvency.
She also has good advice for Scott Brown:
He needs to serve the country the way he campaigned for votes — earnest, open, not beholden to interest or party. And he needs to avoid the Descent of the Congressional Vampires, who'll attempt to claim his victory as their own and suck from his neck until he's a pale and lifeless husk. Not to understate. But they'll want him fund-raising and speaking all over the country, not knowing or perhaps caring that the best work he can do for his party is succeeding in the eyes of his constituents, who couldn't care less about the fortunes of the GOP.
'President Obama's Excellent New Banking Proposal' Surprising source of support for Obama's plan. ... My only reservation is that it's got to be part of a larger international agreement. We'll be at a competitive disadvantage if Canadian, British, Swiss, German, Japanese, Chinese banks etc. are allowed to consolidate as global giants while U.S. banks are held back.
¶ 7:04 AM
Thursday, January 21, 2010
'Energy and Stealth of G.O.P. Groups ...' If you believe the Mass. campaign was all about political operatives, pollsters, fundraisers, secret meetings, dramatic emails, missed phone calls, schedules, electronic data bases, voter ID lists, TV buys, vacation plans, etc., then this article is for you. … It’s a variation of the blame-Martha meme, ultimately. There’s truth to it. But, you know, … never mind.
Update -- Brighton Reader thinks Martha will go down in history as ...
Remember Theresa Lepore? She is the one who changed the design of the ballot in Palm Beach County, Florida, resulting in confusion and many votes for Buchanan instead of Gore in 2000. Martha Coakley now joins her, cast into the flames of the Democratic party's circle of hell reserved for people who screw up with catastrophic consequences.
'A simpler, less ambitious bill' Mickey notes that the SEIU, now that it has its tax exemptions in place, and others are advocating full-steam ahead on health-care reform. It ain't going to happen. ... Jon points to stunning exit-polls results about health care and other issues in the special election; Howie has more too. ... I could have lived with the Senate plan. But a simpler, less ambitious bill is a much better option -- and was always a much better option. ... Outraged Liberal, still dazed from the election, makes a good point in general:
The results on Tuesday are a clear sign people are tired of extremes on either side of the partisan divide. Barack Obama was not the perfect champion of all that he surveyed nor is he the total bum he's being made out to be today.
There is something to be said for compromise and for pragmatism. Whether we get that is an open question in a 24-7-365, 140-character media environment. But it's worth trying.
But I think Nate’s underestimating the “Massachusetts-specific special contingencies.” There’s a lot of anger out there. Deval and the Beacon Hill types are quite aware of it. Michael lists all the pent-up “Massachusetts-specific special contingencies.” … John Ellis has more, and he points to this state voting-trend graphic. I’m reminded of the old voting-trend maps in the two-party Illinois – the ones showing stark voting differences between blue cities and red suburban/downstate towns. …
Jon sifts through the blame-game ‘if only’ scenarios and concludes Dems may have shot themselves in the foot before the primary:
Rep. Steve Lynch might have made a much better candidate, and he wanted to run, but AFL-CIO chief Bobby Haynes and his fellow rocket scientists told him to take a hike because he - get this - wanted to actually see the details of ObamaCare before pledging allegiance to it. Nah, unacceptable.
'The Lech Walesa of Massachusetts' From Hub Blog's official Rhode Island Correspondent: "Tufts saves the world. Who is Tuft's most famous alumni? Could it be the Lech Walesa of Massachusetts?" ...
Brighton Reader also wrote in to say: A.) He stands by his assertion that yard signs are basically useless. B.) That the Ed King upset of Mike Dukakis in '78 was a bigger shocker than last night's Brown victory. ... Well, last night was certainly a bigger national shocker.
'It was 'everything' BUT ...' Reader No. 1's immediate reactions to the big Brown win:
You were not alone in making bad predictions. And yes, I agree with you - it was "everything," BUT... after enduring that dullsville concession speech, you gotta blame Martha a bit. Gotta give some credit to the Dem leadership for standing up there behind her this evening.
Enjoy hearing the local talking heads on Channel 5 talking themselves into "it's not anti-Democratic, it's anti-Incumbent." Hmmm... who are the incumbents around here, and now in DC?
Good advice to Mass Dems from Joan (they won't take it). This Mort Zuckerman reads like an interview more than a blog but he summarizes well what is on the minds of many.
FYI: I meant to write last night that Martha shouldn't be "entirely" blamed. Such are the blogging perils of writing the first draft of the first draft of history.
¶ 8:14 AM
'Note: Conservatives drink a lot of bourbon' Armchair Gen. Savin Hill moseyed on down to the Park Plaza last night to take in the Scott Brown celebration. Here's his report:
I got there a little after 8:30 and thought reports of the event being "packed" were premature. There was plenty of food on the buffet tables where cold cuts were slowly taking on that dark chipped beef look as they dried out, and lines at the bars weren't too deep (2 or 3 people). Note: Conservatives drink a lot of bourbon.
As I edged past the press/TV platform (which bisected the ballroom), the sardine factor kicked in. It was sweltering up front, so I was content to hang back behind the press platform - where a large-screen projector/TV displayed what was going on in the packed front ballroom. Somewhere around 9:16 p.m., while Brown's daughter Ayla was singing "Dancing in the streets" a cheer worked its way from the front to the back of the room, very slowly. For the next few minutes people checked their smart phones and Blackberries and word spread that Coakley had conceded. It seemed too soon, but the war-whooping made it undeniable. ...
There was a too-long waiting period until Brown took the podium, and in the interim, there was plenty of time for chants. First, when Kerry was seen on TV at the Coakley rally, the loudest and longest boos of the night erupted, shortly followed by chants of "Kerry's next, Kerry's next, Kerry's next." Then of course when Coakly took the podium, there wasn't much booing, but several rounds of "Na Na Na Na, Hey - hey, Goodbye" broke out. When Brown finally took the podium (after 3 intro speeches!) several chants broke out, including "Forty-one!" and "Gas the truck!" It was a decent if long-ish acceptance speech, oddly broken up in the middle by Brown announcing his two daughters were "available" (followed in the crowd by plenty of shouts from men "I'm available too!"). For a minute I thought the Dating Game would break out onstage. But over all it wasn't a bad speech, but I would have advised him to cut in half. The back half of the room had already started to defect to the bars before the end of the speech.
Shot heard 'round ... Washington and Beacon Hill Victory! ... Absolutely solid victory for Brown. The most stunning political state upset in my lifetime. ... Definitive proof: House signs count. ... The worst electoral call in my life (see below) -- and I couldn't be happier. ... Don't listen to the spin on the far left and right trying to define the issue. Just respond: It's about everything! ... Don't blame Martha or the pollsters. It was a near Perfect Political Storm.* ... Though it was a near Perfect Politicial Storm, can we please, please, please have more competitive legislative races going forward? PLEASE!
9:58 p.m. - Martha on the stage. Concedes. She's being classy. She won't be treated with class by Dems out to deny what happened tonight.
10:27 -- I could have done without Mitt.
10:31 -- SB on the stage. He thanks the independent voice of Massachusetts. ... He's holding up a Herald headlined: "He did it!" ... Park Plaza chants of "Seat him now!" ... Thanks to Martha Coakley. Short applause. Move on. ... Tribute to Ted Kennedy. Light applause. ... He says the first call was to Vicki Kennedy. Applause louder. ... "There's no replacing a man like that." Louder applause. ... Gale is introduced! HOLD THE PRESSES: She voted for the winner! ... I'm tired. I'm out of here. ...
Wait! OMG! He offers his daughters up for marriage bidding! ... Guffaws/cringing from GOP crowd. ... "I can see I'm going to get in trouble." Yeah, you can say that. Poor taste, you might say. ... Is there a Little Bo Peep cane that can haul him off the stage? ... The guy's a jock to his core. ... He's talking of Obama and trucks. Uhm. Stage managers. Hello? ... He FINALLY mentions the health care bill. Ah, shouldn't it have been said sooner? ... "We have more of a show coming." Ah, stage managers. Hello? ... Best comment from someone in the HB room as I try to savor this win: "He's not very good at improvising." The heart sinks. ... OK, I'm definitely leaving now. ... "I'm a little off script." Really? ... It's 10:54. PLEASE. ... This is the best evidence that a short race helped Brown. ... The concession speech is over, TG.
* - 1.20.10 - The word 'entirely' obviously should have been inserted into the blame-Martha sentence above. Of course she deserves blame. Just not all the blame, as some are going to argue.
¶ 9:44 PM
Turnout, polls, snow, signs and more … Part II From Brighton Reader on voting in his neck of the woods:
Just got back from voting, as of noon just over 200 ballots cast at my precinct. That is a strong turnout. This is compared to 350 total for the mayoral race this past November, 930 in November 2008, and 450 in the Democratic presidential primary in February 2008. Not sure of the totals for the primary last December, but I know it was low.
Brown's campaign had two guys there to prevent "voter intimidation" as they put it at first. Surprised me because there has never been any problem there, if they had a good ID operation they ought to have had them checking off voters. At least do something useful while they are there.
Bert adds his own items to my list of issues and passions driving today’s contest:
--Too much, too little - Martha’s gotten too much attention for too long for someone without much personality. Scott Brown’s gotten too little attention in too short a time frame for someone unknown. Advantage: Brown.
--Cynicism - The “hope” of Brown supporters actually seems negative somehow.
--Rollover minutes - Bush and a war costlier than promised sank the Republican Revolution. Obama and a recession deeper than anyone wants is sinking the Democrats. I wouldn’t call it overreach by the Republicans then or the Democrats now. It’s one of those “easier to win the title than hold it” things. Oh, and do Americans really, truly, deep down feel very strongly about many of these issues? If they do, why does personality come into it so much?
Update -- Ben addes:
Surprised that there’s been no mention of the impact of the MA statehouse Dems stuffing through the temporary senator as a sowing the seeds of discontent. Turned off a Dem like myself. Can’t imagine the impact on independents as it was a stark reminder of one party rule.
Update -- Jon Stewart is playing his own blame game – but it’s much funnier. It’s all there: The Yankees remark, Fenway Park, Knock-over Gate, the spelling of Massachusetts. Stewart adds his own: “Coakley was asked her favorite cream pie. She said banana. … Coakely believes Larry Bird is a Sesame Street character. …Coakley went into the bar in 'Cheers,' and didn't know anybody's name."
¶ 2:15 PM
RIP Robert Parker Sad. Countless enjoyable hours spent reading his books. … His death is confirmed. … Joel’s original post via UH.
Update -- From Armchair Gen. Savin Hill:
I always thought it was a shame that Parker's Spenser character got associated with a bad TV show. His Spenser novels, especially the early ones, were wonderfully detailed portraits of Boston - with a lot of humor, wit and action.
Turnout, polls, snow, signs and more … Tidbits on the race:
-- Dan says that Nate Silver is noticing a last-day heavy polling swing toward Brown.
-- Turnout seems to be moderate to heavy, despite the snow. Here’s turnout news from: Herald, Globe, Universal Hub, RMG, BMG and Glenn. Is heavy turnout a sign of Brown momentum or the Dem Machine cranking it up? That’s the big question.
-- Driving to work, I was struck by the A.) heavy snow (and not just a sprinkle – it’s still snowing heavily outside) and B.) Scott Brown sign holders at intersections, bundled up and defiantly braving the elements. No Coakley sign holders spotted, though I know they're out there.
-- Michael Graham and guest VB were hilarious this morning on ‘TKK. Both hedged for the record on today’s election (who hasn’t?), but were clearly upbeat about a potential Brown win, knocking on wood and crossing their hearts/hoping to die, etc.. They listed all the Martha foibles. Man, it was a long list.
-- Found myself thinking earlier this morning: When was the last time Massachusetts conservatives, moderates and Independents etc. felt as good and/or psyched up about a local election? I think it goes back eight long years ago to Mitt's election in 2002.
The envelope, please … Prediction time! Actually, it’s more like wild guessing time. I’ve covered my share of elections over the years, and I’ve never seen anything like this one. Let’s put it this way: If pollsters don’t have a clue if it’ll be close or a blowout, for either candidate, then it’s time to pull out the darts. … There are four legitimate scenarios today: A.) Coakley in a squeaker. B.) Brown in a squeaker. C.) Coakley in a comfortable win (four points or more) and D.) Brown in a comfortable win. … And my guess is … envelope please … C.) The Dem machine sputters into action. … I don’t want “C” to happen. It’s what I think will happen – or more accurately, what I guess will happen. Besides, I like cutting against the CW grain, even though a Coakely win was CW just 10 days ago. I hope my guess is flat-out wrong. … I look out the window and see snow, head over to Intrade to see Brown way ahead, before voting booths opened this morning, recall conversations with friends passionately backing Brown, and I question whether I’m ignoring the obvious and falling back on a deeply ingrained pessimism before big events.
As for the promised list of issues, passions and other things impacting the contest, here goes (and this is based on whether SB wins or not):
1. The economy: The electoral doomsday machine of electoral doomsday machines – and ideologues conveniently ignore it.
2. Democratic overreach: The year started with passage of a grotesque $787 billion Dem spending wish list, disguised as an economic stimulus package, and it ends with a Frankenstein health-care bill. The Dems don’t seem serious about the economy. They misinterpreted why Republicans were thrown out of office. The overreach has revived the GOP and conservatives, who are now pouring national money and resources into the race.
3. TIE - -- Martha Coakley incompetence/Scott Brown competence: The worst-run campaign in recent state history runs up against the best-run underdog campaign in recent state history.
-- Beacon Hill hackery: A strong anti-establishment undercurrent that out-of-staters will never quite appreciate. Two tired clichés are true in this election: 1.) It’s the economy, stupid 2.) All politics are local. Senate races are a strange mix of national, foreign-policy and local issues. Independents factor hugely into categories 1.,2., and 3.
4. Gender politics: It’s there – on both sides. We’ve heard a lot about females quietly mobilizing for Coakley (usually in the old “Women good/Men bad” fashion). But it dawned on me last night, while talking to some guys, that men are pissed. They say this has been a “male recession” – and the guys I talked to were wind-burned trade people who weren’t happy with the direction of the state or nation.
5. Dem Disappointment – Not just with Obama, because he wouldn’t go all moonbat on every issue. But with Deval and Sal and Dianne etc. They’re not enthusiastic about this election or candidate. It’s evident.
Daring to say the unthinkable One reader, with campaign credentials galore, dares to say it:
House signs: not an indicator. "House signs don't vote." From a campaign perspective, they are a huge pain in the ass. Getting locations, making them, putting them up, no votes though. Then you have to put the signs up again after your opponents' drunk supporters knock them down as they stagger away from some beer soaked fundraiser. Meanwhile, your supporters are doing the same damn thing. And to top it off, frequently the people who live there are voting for another candidate, or more likely not voting at all.
The bold assertion will be put to the test today! … I happen to think house signs are indeed sometimes crude indicators of momentum and enthusiasm. I also love house-sign wars. It’s drunken neighborhood democracy at its finest. …
Update -- From Ed:
When I first came here, I worked on a campaign in Worcester. Two thirds of the yard signs were in the yards of people not even registered to vote. I imagine it's "more legal" to pay somebody to put up a yard sign if they don't vote.
A learning moment? Reader No. 1 says this piece contains “wise counsel for our President.” … I agree with points 2 and 3 in the article – and they’re sufficient reasons to want to send the president a message in tomorrow’s Massachusetts election (not to mention sending a message to Beacon Hill). … My prediction for the race comes tomorrow morning. I hope to list, in rough order, what I think are the issues and passions driving this historic race.
¶ 5:52 PM
'A new record for anti-Americanism' From Armchair Gen. Savin Hill:
Unbelievable. It's a new record for anti-Americanism -- this time for the amount of time Europeans get around to hating the US for helping Haiti.
Note the compendium of "offenses" the US has allegedly committed that was compiled in the British newspaper in the article.
Dear Europeans: Why don't you just torpedo our Naval hospital ships en route. Would that make you happy?
Health-care reform: So Coakley isn’t even needed? Hesitating to vote for Brown because of concerns about health-care reform? Hesitate no more. It doesn’t matter. The NYT confirms that the back-up strategy is to ram through the already passed Senate health-care plan if Coakley loses. So, go ahead, vote for Brown. Send a signal on other issues! … I’m not sure it was a smart move for the WH to leak this strategy. It frees up a lot of guilt-ridden voters to join the protest. … Speaking of other issues, here’s a good summary of the general mood out there among many voters:
Mr. Gasparoni, who has lived here all his life and works as a tax manager for a medical device company, said that he had never campaigned for anyone before, but that he was moved to act because he was upset about the state’s decision to raise its sales tax, was leery of the health bill in Congress and was fed up with the scandals involving several Democratic state lawmakers.
“I think people have had enough,” Mr. Gasparoni said.
The article rightly notes that Massachusetts isn’t living up to its liberal stereotrype – a stereotype that was never quite accurate. It’s a blue state. But sometimes the masses do revolt. … Ben writes in that he’s concerned a Brown victory could “threaten to prevent any action by the US for quite a long time” on … climate change. Well, there’s probably a backup plan for that too. So don’t worry. Ben adds: “On another other I would not have believed that anyone could run a campaign like Coakley if I had not seen it myself.”
Update -- From Reader B:
Enjoy the blog as always but do you really think there are really pro-health plan voters who would go for Brown if the health plan wasn’t at risk? It seems to me that Brown’s success is due almost exclusively to the anti-health plan wave.
And someone ought to tell the voter you quote that the US Senate doesn’t get involved in state sales tax rate setting. Be interested to hear what his plan to balance the budget included.
As I wrote back to B, there really are guilt-ridden voters (somewhat) out there who feel better about Brown's health-care-reform stance not mattering, i.e. me. My Herald colleague, Margery Eagan, is also all over the air talking about how we have to pass reform RIGHT NOW or SB will kill it. But it doesn't matter if Scott is elected. Right? He can block an even worse bill coming out of conference committee (see tax exemptions for yet another Dem special interest group, i.e. unions). But, if Dems want, they can pass reform right now, today, tomorrow, Wednesday etc. by passing the Senate plan.
¶ 10:52 AM
'President Obama is not Martha Coakley in drag' Huh? ... Only Barney Frank. ... Other campaign links and notes:
-- Glenn has photos from big Brown rally in Worcester. Herald confirms big and enthusiastic crowds, though Palin-imitating Coakley supporters are complaining they were "scared" at the event. Oh, boo hoo ...
-- Obama's event also apparently big and enthusiastic, with long lines to get in. ... P.S. WaPo is reporting only 1,000 people were there "moments before" Obama took stage. ... Three-thousand in Worcester. One thousand in Boston. Hmmmm. See Reader No. 1's "signs" note in post below.
-- BMG gets to take a bow for breaking birther video. I attributed it earlier today to TPM, not knowing BMG got the scoop.
¶ 5:34 PM
Turnout, Bill and signs, signs, everywhere signs Brighton Reader on Tuesday's turnout and Bill Clinton, while Reader No. 1 went on a secret sign-counting mission. From Brighton Reader:
If turnout gets to the levels cited in the Herald article, then I think that really upends the assumptions in all the polls and the strategies of both campaigns. Each side was counting on a drought of voters in some areas and a flood in others. Will a high turnout help Brown, the way it boosted Mitt Romney over Shannon O'Brien in 2002? Or will it benefit Coakley, the way it pushed John Kerry past Bill Weld in 1996?
I watched some excerpts of Bill Clinton's appearances, still as good as ever, able to zing the Republicans without rape posters or getting all maudlin about Ted Kennedy.
All this money flooding the airwaves and websites, it's like bonus day on Wall Street for campaign consultants.
Reader No. 1's mission through the south-of-Boston suburbs:
We did a couple of sign-counting missions while out and about on errands this weekend. The results:
Saturday: I never realized before that most political signs appear on the lawns of people who live on main thoroughfares. (Does this say something about people who choose to buy houses on busy streets? Or how politics plays into relationships with your neighborhoods? Might be a sociology/political science Phd in this topic for someone someday.) At any rate, some statistics (and no double-counting was permitted).
-- Total signs: Brown 26, Coakley 15. -- Total large signs (the new dining-room table rectangles sprouting up in recent years): 2 to 2. -- Signs in front of businesses: We counted 7 Brown signs in front of 3 different businesses - two of them car dealerships (hmm...) -- Homemade signs: 3 Brown, 0 Coakley.
Sunday: A short run to the market, covering two main thoroughfares. Count on the way home: Brown 13, Coakley 0. This can't be right, I thought; Dems get a goodly number of votes from school supporters out here and Obama did just fine. So I took the long way home through neighborhoods where likely Coakley voters live - 3 more Brown signs, no one publicly for Martha. Final total this morning: Brown 16, Coakley 0.
Obviously none of this guarantees anything, but it sure is telling. More typically, it's the backers of Republican and/or moderate or conservative candidates who hold back the signs.
Mass. Senate race tidbits, Part III Actually, the biggest story of the morning: The Dems' rape poster. Let's just say it's beyond negative. ... I like Barbara Anderson's line here. But filing a criminal complaint? ... Remember Brighton Reader's advice to the Coakley campaign.
¶ 8:51 AM
Mass. Senate race tidbits, Part II More tidbits on the Senate contest:
-- Perhaps the biggest story of the morning: Voter turnout now expected to be high. What this does to all the polls and projections (which were based on low turnout), I don’t know. I suspect it will help Coakley. Who knows at this point?
-- Spare me the emails for not saying it will help Scott Brown. … I got a mini-bombardment of emails yesterday from what I suspect were out-of-state types who were furious that I wasn’t sufficiently gung-ho for Brown. I finally figured out what was happening. It explains the update note to Reader Z in yesterday’s last post.
-- Here’s why Scott Brown isn’t exactly my cup of tea, even though I’m thrilled his candidacy is scaring the living s&%t out of Dems.
-- I never thought I’d miss the very tired ‘It’s the economy, stupid’ line. Sure Beacon Hill, Obamacare (pro and con), Martha’s incompetency, etc. are all factoring into the race (and all four pieces are quite good and recommended). But getting lost in the shuffle is the old-fashioned, proven trend of the party in power getting creamed when the economy goes south. I’m as guilty as anyone else for forgetting that elementary fact of elections.
My only hesitation in voting for Brown is how that vote will be spun by the mediots in the Beltway. Let me say emphatically that my vote for Brown isn't a vote against Obama. It's a vote against the Democratic Party, and hacks like Coakley, but also a vote to help moderate the GOP. One more New England Republican is necessary. Of all the places the GOP might find it's path again I hope it's from where it was born.
-- Biggest disappointment of last 24 hours: My home-made manicotti was wrecked by absolutely awful Newman’s Own tomato and basil sauce, which overwhelmed everything with a weird sweet-and-sour taste. The ‘Battleground’ movie and Brigies IC were fine. See note in yesterday’s tidbits.
-- Yard sign watch: Only one (1) Coakley sign in my neighborhood. My next-door neighbor, who usually has the earliest and most Dem signs during elections, has none (0). … I’m doing a yard-sign scouting mission later today. Update to follow.
-- Memo to White House/DNC staff: Bring your own Coakley signs to Boston today. There seems to be a shortage here.
Mass. Senate race tidbits Just some things I’m hearing, seeing, thinking, emailing, reading, etc. in between errands, a little work, naps, chores, as we await tommorow’s arrival of the O:
-- A friend and Brown supporter said she felt like a pre-2004 Sox fan and couldn’t, and didn’t want to, believe that what she’s always wanted to happen was about to happen because every other time she thought it would happen, it didn’t happen. ...
-- The Machine just dropped off the first Coakley for Senate yard sign in my neighborhood. Immediate thoughts: A.) It’s a little late, isn’t it? B.) Desperation. C.) Ominous? Ominous, perhaps, if you’re a paranoid pessimist dreading the Machine finally waking up. ...
-- Bill Clinton called me an hour ago. I go way back with him.
-- I’ve told a number of people, in emails, this entire race is almost surreal. Is it a real insurrection? All sound and fury from the right? Are the polls all wrong or right? What? A couple of people have said I’m all over the projections map, i.e. David Broder-like. But who isn’t hedging? During a profound period of doubt, I asked one friend if, effectively, I was a waffling nut case. He hasn’t answered back. … I think I got my answer.
-- Battleground! Not the Massachusetts race. The movie. It’s on tonight on TMC. 8 p.m. Two Academy Awards. It’s settled: manicotti, a war movie, Brigham’s Mocha Almond. No waffling!
-- Talked to someone yesterday from Tennessee, who described himself as a Democrat and former Duke '88 campaign worker. He said he's traveled around the country and there's "anger all over the place." He meant it in the context of this year's elections.
-- Reader No. 1 and I have traded emails about the race since his post this morning. Here’s his latest:
There's a big story here that doesn't fit the Right-Left narratives: it's a candidate with whom people working in predominantly private companies have come to identify, against a candidate of the Hack-Progressive Alliance. The H-P Alliance has benefited hugely from the votes of political independents who care about things like school funding... if those voters stop voting automatically for H-Ps, things start to change. I do think we ought not to put a lot of stock in things like Intrade which, unlike polls, are not based on voting preferences but somebody's idea of what somebody else will decide... I just saw Brown ahead of Coakley there by three points, which seems more within the range of probable outcomes than this morning's 57-42, but I'm not sure I would bet money on it (literally, no pun intended :->).
-- Speaking of Intrade, it has Brown up, 54 -48, as of 4:05 p.m.!
Update -- To Reader Z: My views on Brown are here. Democrats on the national and state levels have got to be sent a signal. So I support Brown even though I'm not wild about his politics. The waffling is on my election outcome predictions. I don't know why that's so hard to understand.
'Emergence of a non-ideological Reality-Based-Community 2.0' Reader No. 1 lets it rip:
Enough with the political abstractions like Intrade and Democratic political consultants fighting in the lifeboats. The 538 article you flagged (could've been boiled down to one sentence: 'All politics is local.' (But now apparently, we have the data to support that.) To these eyes, the money paragraphs in the 538 piece on Brown are:
"In 2002, he filled out a Votesmart survey on his policy positions in the context of running for the State Senate. Looking through the answers doesn’t reveal too much beyond that he is a pro-choice, anti-tax, pro-gun Republican. His interest group ratings are all over the map. Business and gun rights groups typically rate him very highly, labor and and environmental groups have rated him both middling and high over time. The teacher’s union rated him low in 2001, and high in 2005.
All in all, a very confusing assessment, and quite imprecise..."
My goodness! He might be a 21st century moderate, with the occasional ideological inconsistencies that implies. Or at least, a moderate for Massachusetts, if all politics are local.
It's not that complicated: no matter who wins Tuesday, we are seeing the emergence of a non-ideological Reality-Based-Community 2.0. The 1.0 RBC flagged up questionable philosophy and disastrous execution in the War on Terror (especially) and Washington corruption... hey, wait a minute, so does the 2.0 version of RBC! But with quite different views, and hardly doctinaire conservative views - you don't need to be a Dittohead to be alarmed about this and this, not to mention this and this (http://www.scrippsnews.com/content/murdock-obamacare-can-cost-you-your-health-insurance), and most of all, this.
Look at what's happening with Independents here (and one suspects nationally). Many members of RBC 2.0 found common cause with RBC 1.0 views, but not with the policy counter-prescriptions and (most importantly), not with the results of those prescriptions. And there are some differences: RBC 1.0 idea of a longterm problem is climate change. RBC 2.0 idea of a longterm problem is college tuition. These are not diamatetrically opposed to each other, but the scope and priorities for decisionmaking are quite different.
From that local perspective (again), Jon Keller just summarized the RBC 2.0 backdrop quite nicely. Go out, drive around his weekend and count the lawnsigns...
'The underlying tragedy' You’ve probably read it. But if you haven’t, read it. … Obviously, Haiti needs immediate help. So donate if you can. It will do a lot of good. But Haiti desperately needs long-term help of a different kind.
¶ 9:08 AM
Blaming Martha, Part II After blaming Martha, they’re going to blame … the American people. You know, we have this ‘disease of our time. You know, that sort of instant forgetting.’ … Thanks, you know, Tom. … Actually, you know, Thomas Frank makes some good, you know, points about the fanaticism of the conservative-movement mindset. But it’s all about, you know, conservatives (bad) vs. liberals (good) in his mind, and the rest of us in the middle are, you know, not really there. … I still think Byron York nailed it a few weeks ago in a piece headlined "Republicans deserve blame for Democratic excesses." The Tea Party types don’t get it. Bill Moyers and Tom Frank don’t get it. This is what they don’t get:
Many (voters) will be fully ready to vote Democrats out of office but will not be fully ready to vote Republicans in. Faced with an either/or choice, they will weigh whether they want to get rid of Democrats more than they want to stay away from Republicans.
P.S. – Bill Moyers’ show wasn’t a complete disaster last night. His interview with Greg Mortenson was outstanding. Mortenson’s descriptions of the Taliban and conditions in Afghanistan were mesmerizing.
I’m not sure about some of Andrew’s methodologies or his observation that conservative support for Scott Brown, coupled with their opposition to Dede Scozzafava, makes ‘perfect sense.’ The bottom line is the GOP lost a relatively safe seat in N.Y. Still, it’s fun stuff to chew on. …
¶ 6:31 AM
Coakley: 57 -42 Nate Silver finally admits it: ‘It’s a toss up.’ … But that’s not what Intrade was showing this morning: 57 – 42, Coakley. The numbers strike me as about right.* Keep an eye on them over the weekend. …
P.S. -- Notice the chart showing Martha getting $95 immediately after the Democratic primary. So much for ‘efficient market’ theories. … OK, someone might say, ‘But the markets are now reflecting reality.’ But I’d respond the markets reflected alleged reality at the top of the housing bubble as well. At what given point in a market is ‘efficient’ really ‘efficient’? …
* Trading is showing wild fluctuations, from a neck-and-neck race to Coakley up by 40.
Update -- Brown surged ahead this afternoon on Intrade.
¶ 6:20 AM
Friday, January 15, 2010
Blaming Martha The emerging losing-side meme if Martha loses: Martha blew it. The early evidence is here, here and here. They’re all smart pieces with good points, particularly Brian’s column. But, you know, voters aren’t moths attracted to the only light on in a room. They’re intelligent. They also have concerns about issues. So if Martha loses (and I still don’t think she will) ignore comments like this from a Democratic campaign strategist, as quoted by the Herald:
Republicans are going to claim that the fact that Coakley is having a problem winning in Massachusetts is related to people’s concerns about Obamacare - when the reality is Coakley’s struggle should be blamed on her and an incompetent campaign strategy.
It’s all about Martha and her incompetent campaign. Riiight. It’s as absurd as saying it’s all about Obamacare. … Jon has an excellent post about how Beacon Hill partially factors into all of this:
When Scott Brown says in a recent radio ad that “our government in Washington is making the same mistakes as our government here in Massachusetts,” it's a powerful punch line to struggling citizens in a state with one of the nation's highest costs of living. When a Brown TV ad flashes a photo of Martha Coakley seated alongside wildly unpopular Gov. Deval Patrick, and former House Speaker Sal DiMasi, who is charged with peddling his influence for chump change, it evokes the fury that's been building inside honest taxpayers through the corruption and incompetence of the Big Dig, the outright looting of public funds by the likes of former county official John Buonomo, and a seemingly endless parade of union excesses, patronage hires, pension abuses and broken promises.
Hub Blog asked Brighton Reader, a Democrat and experienced city operative, for his quick impression on the Mass. Senate race. Here it is:
Scott Brown could win. The Herald poll and the BMG poll both seem credible to me, but you cannot be sure who is going to show up in a special election. A capable Republican generally starts with 40% of the vote. All this "Kennedy seat" chatter obscures this fact. Kerry had to fight to keep his seat against Weld and Jim Rappaport, and Ted Kennedy had his hands full with Mitt Romney.
Martha Coakley's campaign should shut up about abortion, people are worried about their jobs and mad about the Wall Street bailouts and bonuses. Cannot believe how lazy she has been, not out there campaigning until the polls got tight. Voters want to see you work, look at the last woman to win state-wide, Hillary Clinton.
'Then every Democrat in the country is at risk' I give up. … If the poll showing Brown up by 4 points is accurate, notice two things: 1.) Martha isn’t getting the gender bounce she got in the primary. 2.) The opposition to the national health-care plan is strong, even in Massachusetts. … No wonder the DNC yesterday was trumpeting the BMG poll showing Martha with an 8-point lead. But as Nate Silver said last week of polls: “Any one of them could be right.”
A Republican friend, who somehow got on a Dem call list in Rhode Island, said he got a pro-Coakley call via his 401 area-code phone:
That call smacked of complete desperation. I told them I was a Republican, and by the way lived out of state. To me this is huge. The Dems are on the run big time. If a Democrat in the bluest of blue states, in fact a single-party state like North Korea, running for the beatified Kennedy's seat, is at risk, then every Democrat in the country is at risk. Good bye healthcare reform. What do you think?
I think Dems are in big trouble. It's not just about health care. It's about the economy. It's about the spending. It's about multi-thousand-page congressional bills. In Massachusetts, add in the antics of the one-party hackerama (House speaker getting indicted, senators stuffing money in bras or crashing cars or groping women, etc.). …
¶ 8:57 AM
Thursday, January 14, 2010
'Coakley leads 49-41’ Hey, BMG has a poll – and it feels as gut-instinct accurate as anything I’ve seen recently. … Notice two things: 1.) Independents are breaking for Brown. 2.) At the least, it confirms that the Rasmussen poll that first showed the race had tightened was accurate, though Rasmussen’s latest poll shows the race is now a dead heat. …
Getting back to the football metaphor ('It’s a goal-line stand for Democrats’), I’m beginning to think this contest is shaping up to be like one of those games that end up closer than a final score indicates. I.e. An underdog team makes a valiant and dramatic comeback, forcing a clutch goal-line stand by the favored team toward the end. Will Martha and Dems hold ‘em? The hunch here is they will – and then score a garbage TD that distorts how close the contest really was. … Then the Globe gets to congratulate itself that its 15-point poll on Sunday was really right!
P.S. – You REALLY know the race has tightened when the DNC starts sending you emails touting the BMG poll results. I just got one.
¶ 1:05 PM
‘Spare me the ‘thug’ rap’ Bert isn’t buying into the ShoveGate assertion of thuggery. My thoughts follow. But Bert first:
To an extent, some form of this campaign opposition stuff has been around forever. You go to a campaign event, there’s a guy with an opponent’s sign trying to get it in the line of the TV cameras. The other campaign gets a bunch of people with signs to surround and block them.
But shouting or interrupting and event—by either Donkeys or Elephants—goes over the line. … Yes, we’re in a democracy. I’m a HUGE fan of protecting free speech. But can’t we have some level of respectful dialogue?
I’m not sure which (Hannity, Beck, O’Reilly) but I’ve seen them send these young folks out to “interview” candidates or elected officials. It’s pretty clearly harassment, meant to annoy candidates or catch some sort of embarrassing slip. Having someone from the campaign block their access seems a logical reaction. Does anyone really like the paparazzi? I don’t remember many people having a problem when Sean Penn or Bruce Willis or one of the others jumps ugly with the stalkers. So I don’t have a problem with this guy from the Coakley campaign. He really didn’t even get physical with him.
The Weekly Standard—and Boston Herald—can spare me the “thug” rap and carrying on as if the guy was taken off to a work camp.
Hub Blog’s response: Let’s not forget lefties Michael Moore and Baron Cohan have made careers doing exactly what O’Reilly et gang have done. OK? … As for charges that the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack was the victim of assault and battery, I don’t buy it. But he is the victim of a disturbing ‘imperial’ politician trend that I’ve written about here and here. The fact is John isn’t a Tea Party whacko or paparazzi. He’s a working journalist, and Coakley’s aide couldn’t and didn’t distinguish between the two. The initial shove I can explain away as an accident. The blocking antics were not. McCormack is owed an apology. No more. No less. … Dan has more.
¶ 11:45 AM
'Saving Capitalism from capitalists' The Weekly Standard's Irwin Stelzer has penned a piece that all conservatives should read. The bottom line on bankers, insurers, airline execs and others: Capitalists sometimes don't act like capitalists. Example:
The (health) insurance industry’s monopoly power does not arise from any natural cause, though, such as the enormous cost of constructing competing electricity transmission lines, or of tearing up the streets of a major city to allow competing gas distribution companies. No, such monopoly power as insurance companies have was created by laws it lobbied for and got—exemption from the antitrust laws, and limitations on competition across state lines. The way the industry saw it, unregulated monopoly power is best, but if that game is up, regulation is to be preferred to competition. Which is why the industry fought to retain its exemption from the antitrust laws—and, to its relief, won.
‘It’s a goal-line stand for the Democrats’ Though Scott Brown’s pander-to-the-base conservativism isn’t my cup of tea (no Tea Party pun initially intended), it’s still thrilling to see our one-party-state Dems scrambling, panicking, bemoaning and very reluctantly dragging themselves to the voting booths (‘Yes it sucks. Yes you have to vote for Coakley’). … But despite all the polls and pundit blather about a tightening race, I still have my doubts that the Massachusetts Senate race will be close in the end. Reader Eric is thinking along the same lines:
I've been suspicious about this thing from the beginning. A jillion dollars of national money pouring in for media buys, with no baseline and no accountability, all to be spent in two weeks? It's a consultant's dream.
That said Brown is doing the right thing and nationalizing the race.
Brown’s definitely done all the right things – and Martha has done just about everything wrong. But the Dem base is starting to galvanize, and Beacon Hill and the SEIU will have their legions of hacks out in force next week. Massachusetts is still a Blue State to its machine core. Maybe I’ve caught a bad case of the too-good-to-be-true blues about Brown’s candidacy. I’m just hoping the race is close enough that it’s seen as a clear shot-across-the-bow protest against both national and state Democratic pols and policies.
Update -- From Reader No. 1:
Good Scott Brown story, and framing ("It's me against the machine"), from DC-based Byron York. It's refreshing to read about jobs that aren't/weren't created by the government, a largely foreign concept to Democrats including their Massachusetts Senate candidate.
The 'AG curse' looms -- could history repeat itself in this most historical commonwealth?
One great way you can help Haitians Hub Blog can personally vouch for the Cornell-affiliated GHESKIO health facilities “at the center of the most devastated area of Port au Prince.” A Hub Blog relative works directly with the clinic and regularly travels to Haiti to perform medical work there. I've been there too. They do awesome work. Donations are now being accepted for the clinic, via the Weill Cornell Medical College. Give if you can. Dr. Jean Pape, the renowned head of the clinic, wrote to Cornell and other colleagues:
We were very lucky. I have heard from most of our staff and they are safe. My knee is slightly injured by a piece of concrete that fell from the ceiling. I was at a meeting with the Prime Minister, The Minister of Health, the Director General, the Directors of WHO and UNAIDS, USAID staff, others when it all started. We were all able to get out before the room collapsed.
All the walls around both GHESKIO sites are broken. Buildings have been structurally damaged particularly at the old GHESKIO.
He’s already making a list of general relief-effort priorities for all of Haiti:
1. Clear the obstructed roads so that help can reach those in needs 2. Specialized teams to save those who are still under the rubbles 3. Shelters for those who lost their home 4. Medical and surgical supplies 5. Water 6. Ready to use food 7. Need to organize quickly the burial of the thousands who are dead. 8. Need to put in place emergency hospitals as Doctors without Borders are not operational as their building collapsed. 9. Emergency measures to prevent infections
'The fact that we're even discussing the possibility ...' OK, I was about to dismiss this poll showing the Senate race to be a dead heat. Then I read the following over at Talking Points Memo:
Democrats have told TPMDC privately that Coakley is suffering in this race because of growing anger over spending and frustration with the party in power. Internal polls also show the race is close and that independent voters are flocking to Brown.
But then TPM adds:
Democrats sent to Boston to help with the campaign say they are just seeing the race through to the finish line. One top staffer familiar with Massachusetts is heading to Boston today and said there is not a real threat of the state sending a Republican to D.C.
Huh? They seem to be backtracking a bit in the next graf. But I think it’s safe to say this race has, somewhat remarkably, tightened. Even Martha’s own polls, at least those cited a week ago, showed she was ahead by 14 percent. That’s usually a hefty lead. But I’ll bet the spread was more like 20 percent before the holidays. ... I’m eager as hell to see how this all plays out. …
FYI: Below is the video of the Weekly Standard reporter getting hassled by an apparent Coakley aide. His getting knocked down can be attributed, if you want to be really fair, to an accident. But not what happened afterward, i.e. the aide obnoxiously blocking the WS reporter from following Martha, who’s now mumbling something about Brown aides ‘stalking’ her.
'Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS...' Another tragedy befalls Haiti. ... Having visited Haiti, I know of some of the places said to be damaged -- and if they're heavily damaged, the rest of Port-au-Prince must be a disaster.
'Any one of them could be right’ Even Nate Silver, who thinks Coakley will probably win, is cautious due to the confusing signals from the polls:
This probably won't be a very satisfying answer to those of you who come to me looking for some kind of certitude. But part of being a good forecaster is knowing when to make a bold forecast and knowing when to proceed with more caution; the Massachusetts race calls for a heavy dose of the latter.
Update -- Reader AM:
But at least, in a one-race special election, there's no need to worry about how the undecideds will break. As we saw in the primary, they won't turn out.
Deval's best friend Tim Cahill. ... Deval's dismal poll numbers aren't surprising. What's suprising is Cahill's continued lead over Baker. This hints at part of the problem. Baker's choice of a running mate didn't help matters on his right flank. But there's something more to Cahill's candidacy beyond name recognition and GOP infighting: He's got support, apparently, from an odd assortment of Independents, old Reagan Democrats, more than a sprinkling of hacks, Tea Party types, and disappointed Deval fans who could never vote GOP, etc. ...
Moving on to the Senate race, Martha seems determined to bore everyone to death. ... I still find it hard to believe she'll lose. I'm looking at Brown, at best, barely topping 40 percent.
Update -- Joan on Cahill: "Call him the loner in love with his ambition to be governor."
Heard Smerlas and deOssie talk up the Pats' defensive leadership gap on WEEI last evening, and I think we will hear a lot more about that... it's surely not a coincidence that our last Superbowl came when Rodney Harrison and Teddy Bruschi were healthy regulars. And that was... 5 years ago. As we know, "the NFL is a copycat league" ... any NFL advantage is temporary.
So, this sad Pats fan wants to know: how temporary is NFL disadvantage? When does the window close on Tom Brady? Is Patsboy09 onto something, or is he just forshadowing the next nine months of Talk Radio?
Hub Blog's worried that the Pats have entered the post-Super Bowl eras of Chuck Noll and Don Shula.
¶ 7:41 AM
Sunday, January 10, 2010
24-0? In the first quarter? ... The TV announcers were talking about how one of the Ravens has listened to voice tapes of Brady's audibles and has bragged he knows what plays to expect. It looks it.
Update -- Julian! 24-7. If they hold the Ravens and score again before the half, it's no longer a HFS game.
Update II -- From Reader No. 1:
It's not a good feeling to be writing these words about our team in the middle of a playoff game but... the Pats are/were almost completely unprepared for today. The OL is completely overwhelmed, the defense unable to tackle in the open field, and Brady alternately frantic (when he's running for his life from Suggs and Lewis) and lethargic. The last time Kevin Faulk was the entire focus of the offense was the last year of Pete Carroll era and, while I love the guy, that's not where we wanted to go back today. I'm old enough to recall that today has the weird vibes of the December 31 1978 home playoff wipeout against the Oilers...
Time for a rethink, and a reboot.
Update III -- Game and season over. They were dominated at every level. Time for a rethink and reboot indeed.
¶ 1:49 PM
They’ve absolutely convinced themselves they’re critical to the free-enterprise system and deserve record bonuses in the middle of a recession they started. But here’s roughly how it works in reality. Notice the government’s role in this vast transfer of wealth.
Update - 1.11.10 -- Reader BK makes a good point: "There's more than them thar bonuses for Hub Blog to disapprove of . . ."
¶ 9:40 AM
About the only thing clear is that Brown has motivated a segment of the population by running aggressively while Coakley has been in a protective crouch. I doubt anyone -- Democrat, Republican or Independent -- will give Coakley's team high grades for running an insprired campaign.
'The fix is in' Democrats rushed to swear in Niki Tsongas within two days after her special-election win. But, whoa, Dems will have to wait longer to count every single vote if Scott Brown wins the senate special election. …
Not that it matters. Martha will likely win – and she’ll be sworn in pronto because Dems will suddenly discover how to count votes faster.
¶ 8:50 AM
It was the top local story online this morning, even though it was tucked away on page 12 in yesterday's print edition. … I think it’s safe to say the Herald handled its placement with appropriate all-the-news-that's-fit-to-print discretion. …
¶ 8:06 AM
‘The agency underestimated its adversary’ Even though they’re mostly talking about Al Qaeda’s ability to strike within the U.S., this armchair blogging-heads discussion (“Is Al Qaeda Dumb?”) between Peter Beinart and Jonah Goldberg is still a little embarrassing to watch after reading David Ignatius’s column on the CIA-Khost bombing:
By getting a suicide bomber inside a CIA base, the al-Qaeda network showed that it remains a sophisticated adversary, despite intense pressure from CIA Predator attacks. "They didn't get lucky, they got good and we got sloppy all over Afghanistan," says one agency counterterrorism veteran. …
The Khost attack shows that the al-Qaeda network, though badly wounded, remains a wily and resourceful foe. The inescapable conclusion is that the CIA and its allies need to lift their game.
Rule No. 1 in any war: Don’t underestimate the enemy. The opposite is true too: Don’t overestimate the enemy to the point of overreaction or paralysis. A balance has to be found in between.
¶ 7:41 AM
Friday, January 08, 2010
A four-way governor's race? Jill Stein is back. ... I tend to agree with a BMG commenter, who notes she only got 3 percent of the vote in 2002. But in a close race, one or two or three points are important. So this is a setback for Patrick, albeit a minor one.
¶ 2:20 PM
'The Cursing Mommy Cooks Italian' You may have already seen this -- either at the New Yorker or at home on any given night. ... Now watch the Food Channel shamelessly try to copy it. ...
¶ 8:52 AM
Getting nervous? Part II Hub Blog no sooner writes off Tim Cahill in the post below – and then, sure enough, Cahill pulls a rabbit out of the hat. … One poster at Red Mass Group is ecstatic by Cahill’s possible choice of Paul Loscorro as his running mate:
Fellow RedMassGroup-ers, this is a ticket that this strong Republican and conservative would consider crossing parties for. If the Republican party's going back to the Country Club as it seems with Baker and Tisei, I'm not going with it.
Massachusetts Republicans: Always finding a way to blow it. ... Now who are the nervous ones? ... RMG via Universal Hub.
Update -- Peter Porcupine noticed a big boo-boo in my post immediately below, i.e. originally calling it the "Baker-Coakley'' poll. I've since fixed it. PP adds:
... Baker isn't the gubernatorial nominee yet. Christy Mihos is running strong in the primary, and Baker is merely the chosen candidate of the Boston Globe which is not always the best path for a Republican candidate.
In some ways, the emphasis on Baker reminds me of the Palin announcement. Media talking heads had their 'informed' speculation on Romney, Pawlenty, et al, ready to roll the moment the choice for Vice President was made. And McCain chose...somebody DIFFERENT! Who IS this woman? Do we KNOW anybody in Alaska? Is there an affiliate there??? How can we appear omniscient???
Getting nervous? Two reasons for state Dems to be nervous: the Brown-Coakley poll numbers and Charlie Baker's fund-raising numbers. ... I still think Martha's going to win. She's already at 50 percent. But I'd settle for a close race that sends a message to the one-party establishment running both the federal and state governments: You've overreached. ... As an incumbent in a potentially three-way race, Deval should be able to win. But Baker's impressive fund-raising brings home how vulnerable Patrick is this year -- and I have a hunch it could be a one-on-one gubernatorial race by next fall. Cahill's candidacy looks more and more like a spoiler role. He's already angered Democrats in Massachusetts by bolting the party. He'll anger Independents if he ends up as the spoiler next fall. His political career will then be over. He may decide a three-way race isn't worth the long-term cost.
Update -- Tim Cahill strikes: He appears set to name Rep. Paul Loscorro (R-Holliston) as his running mate. He ain't going down without a fight.
Update II -- I initially screwed up by calling it the "Baker-Coakley'' poll numbers. I meant "Brown-Coakley." I fixed it.
¶ 8:29 AM
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Tinker, tailor, soldier, terrorist Our war on terrorism is beginning to sound more and more like something out of a John Le Carre novel from the Cold War. ... Reader No. sends in this piece about how American intelligence sources may have mucked up the underwear-bomber case, in contrast to how British intelligence handled the matter. But to show there's no easy answer to fighting terrorism, here's a piece about how Jordan's vaunted General Intelligence Directorate screwed up by vouching for the man who ended up blowing up the CIA base in Afghanistan. He turned out to be a double agent for Al Qaeda. Keep in mind Jordan's intelligence service is the polar opposite of our domestic-law burdened FBI. The lesson: We're up against truly nasty foes who don't conform to anti-terrorism notions set forth in op-eds or government field manuals. ... Two other points: A.) I'm eager to read David Ignatius's future take on the GID debacle. b.) I hope the CIA doesn't learn the wrong lessons from the Afghan attack, for Jordan's right that we rely too much on technology for spy intelligence.
¶ 5:58 AM
Saturday, January 02, 2010
'Diminished sense of mission' Brighton Reader and Reader No. 1 chime in on what seems to be the hot issue of the week, i.e. our American bureaucracies. From Brighton Reader:
Who failed the country over the past decade? Peggy Noonan points out a few culprits, and their mindset. Bureaucracies, whether corporate, governmental, or religious, will always exist. The actions of the people who lead them is what counts.
From Reader No. 1:
James Bowman's essay on Official Reaction to the Christmas Day Incident should be read alongside the David Brooks column you cite, both for what they agree on and what they don't. Incidentally, Brooks' comment that "over the past 50 years we have concentrated authority in centralized agencies and reduced the role of decentralized citizen action" is awfully revealing - did he mean 50 years, or 50 weeks?
Hub Blog’s Book of the Year Somewhat fittingly, it was the last book I read this past year and decade: Brandeis University professor David Hackett Fischer’s ‘Champlain’s Dream.’ I devoured it. But here’s a warning. It’s definitely for history buffs. It also helps if you’re a closet Francophile (I plead guilty). … Samuel de Champlain’s exploration of North America is fascinating, reaching all the way down from Canada to Cape Cod and extending deep into the interior of the continent. But the book is much more than a chronicle of Champlain’s voyages. It’s about his relationship with native Indians, members of the French court, company investors and the original habitant colonizers. Max Boot reviewed ‘Champlain’s Dream’ late last year, so I’ll let him do the heavy lifting of providing more details. But I’ll just point out that if you liked David Hackett Fisher’s prior books, including his Pulitzer Prize-winning ‘Washington’s Crossing,’ then you’ll like ‘Champlain’s Dream.’ Fans of Nathaniel Philbrick’s ‘Mayflower’ will also probably like it, though the focus of ‘Champlain’s Dream’ is obviously less local. …
I’d love to buy a copy of Champlain’s famous New France map. If anyone knows where I can get one easily and cheap, let me know.
¶ 9:25 AM
You have found the center of the universe -- a blog about Boston, Hub of the Universe.