Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Political Digest for January 20, 2010

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree with every—or any—opinion in the posted article.

I’m putting this together before the polls close in Massachusetts, by will pop online and add a story about the outcome. I start the blog post by reviewing my e-mail in the evening. The next day, I add to it as news stories cross my desk (my job requires me to track the news in a specific area, but lot of incoming material means I have to slim it down). Late in the day I usually send to my mailing list, and put on the blog for posting the next morning—which means this is not usually the place to go for breaking news. Anyone who is disappointed with that delay may cheerfully receive a full refund. Because of the election, I’ll post this early.

No predictions from me. Having been a Massachusetts Republican state senator, it’s hard for me to believe a Republican can win this seat. I’ll be disappointed, but not stunned, if the Democrat machine pulls it out for her. But by even making it a contest, Sen. Scott Brown has done the nation a service. Hardly any Democrat can now feel secure voting against the wishes of the people.

Some of the articles may be made moot by events, but I’ll leave them for their insights into the sausage-making process.

The Fix: Special election day in Massachusetts
Excerpt: Voters are voting in Massachusetts! Polls in the Commonwealth are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. and conventional wisdom has gelled that state Sen. Scott Brown (R) enters election day as the slight favorite to pull an upset of massive proportions over state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D). As always in an election, there things we know and things we don't know. Here's a look at a few of the most critical knowns/unknowns. What We Know: Independents are breaking heavily for Brown. What We Don't: By how much can Coakley afford to lose independents given the state's strong Democrat leanings? 60-40? 65-35? What We Know: Democratic intensity/interest in the special election has improved considerably over the last few days. What We Don't: Does the fact that loyal Democrats are now more keen on turning out to vote make Coakley more competitive? Or are these people who would never have voted for Brown anyway? What We Know: Millions -- upon millions -- of dollars have poured into Brown's campaign account over the past 10 days. What We Don't: With television time entirely sold out, can Brown smartly spend those dollars on get out the vote efforts? Or will millions go wasted simply because the financial piece of the race broke too late? What We Know: National Democrats with a major assist from organized labor are going all out from an organizational perspective -- they have taken over every aspect of Coakley's campaign -- to save this race. What We Don't: Is everything national Democrats are doing too little, too late? Can organizational might save what has been, to put it mildly, a campaign with deep messaging problems? What We Know: The broad swath of polling released over the last few days suggests that Brown has the momentum. What We Don't: How reliable any of this polling is given that there is no historical parallel for a Senate special election in January, making it extremely difficult to figure out who will vote and who won't vote.

The Fix: What to watch for in the Massachusetts special election
Excerpt: Polls don't close for another six and a half hours in Massachusetts and without any exit polling in the race -- booo! -- political junkies (like yours truly) are left to wait and wonder about the outcome of today's special Senate election between state Sen. Scott Brown (R) and state Attorney Martha Coakley (D). To make that process slightly more palatable, we talked to a number of senior strategists in both parties in search of the key geographic areas and demographic groups to keep an eye on as results roll in tonight in order to best understand what's happening and why. A sampling of their thoughts is below. * City turnout: Coakley must maximize the power of the city turnout machines in Boston (led by Mayor Tom Menino), Worcester (in the hands of Rep. Jim McGovern) and Springfield. Three close-in communities to Boston report their results early -- Cambridge, Somerville and Arlington -- and, according to one Democrat, if Brown is close or leading in those areas, the race is effectively over. * The South Coast: While almost all of the state is reached by Boston television, the communities in hard-scrabble town like Fall River -- home of former Boston schoolboy hoops legend Chris Herren -- gets Providence television and is culturally a far different place than the Hub. These are the sort of Democrats -- blue-collar -- that Coakley must win but, as the race entered its final stages, wasn't winning. * Independent women: The Brown surge has been fueled -- primarily -- by independents who have moved strongly in his favor over the past ten days. Democrats acknowledge independent men are a lost cause for Coakley but they are hoping that her historic candidacy -- she would be the first woman elected to the Senate or governor in the state -- is a significant draw among independent women. The working theory among Democratic modelers is if Coakley can win 35 percent of the independent vote, she can win; if she goes below that number, Brown will win. * The Beltway Vote: The most critical area for Brown is in between Rt. 128 -- the inner Beltway that rings Boston and 495 -- the outer Beltway to the west of the city. That area, which includes the critical swing suburban community of Middlesex, is filed with independent and Republican voters that Brown needs energized to offset the likely swamping he will take in Boston proper. * Boston Catholics: While the city of Boston is strongly Democratic, it is also -- in parts -- strongly Catholic (and pro-life). In communities like South Boston, Dorchester and the North End, Republicans believe Brown has made significant inroads. Worth noting: In the two most recent Republican victories in Massachusetts (Gov. Mitt Romney in 2002 and Gov. Paul Cellucci in 1998), the Catholic vote went Republican. Are you looking at certain key towns/cities or demographic groups?

Scroll down for it: Why is This Woman Handing Out Blank Absentee Ballots?
Excerpt: This YouTube just went viral. It appears to show a woman handing out blank absentee ballots in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Now, why would she do that? Dear me, what a mystery.

Gasps at MSNBC as Chris Matthews Reports GOP’s Brown Ahead by Double-Digits in MA Bellwether Areas
Excerpt: Here is video of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews this morning saying he just talked with Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos who told him that the GOP’s Scott Brown is leading Martha Coakley by “double-digits” in the “Bellweather areas” of Massachusetts.
Matthews said “it looks like Brown.” He went on to say “if the Bellweather areas are double-digits for Brown, it’s over.” There were gasps on the set at MSNBC when Matthews said “It looks like Brown.”

Coakley's Election Day scramble
Hope this isn’t a Brown error. I stopped campaigning when the polls closed at 8:00 pm, then started again the next day for the next election. Democratic candidate Martha Coakley is spending Election Day on the trail in Massachusetts, while her Republican rival has one event scheduled. After voting at her Medford polling place this morning, Attorney General Coakley hit the campaign trail as polls show her trailing state Sen. Scott Brown (R). She's scheduled to make appearances in New Bedford, Fall River, Springfield and Worcester before ending her day with an election eve party at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. And she’s not alone. Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) are traveling with Coakley, a campaign spokeswoman said. In contrast, Brown had one public event this morning. He cast his vote in Wrentham and isn’t expected to appear again until his election night party at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston…. A recent poll by InsiderAdvantage had Brown ahead by nine points. But in the unpredictable environment of a special election, one Democratic strategist said, polling universes can fail to capture likely voters. Moreover, the Democratic Party structure in the Bay State will help turn out voters for Coakley. There are no exit polls in the race, but anecdotal evidence being reported by Boston news radio stations says turnout has been heavy so far. WTKK FM reported 500 votes were cast in two hours at a polling place in Foxborough. The Boston Globe reports that more than 23,000 ballots had been cast in Boston by 9 a.m., which is significantly higher than in the primary last month. Some 2 million votes are expected to be cast for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy's (D) seat. Weather could be a factor as the snow that was falling in Boston this morning turns to rain in the afternoon.

Democrats' 60 hangs by thread
Democrats pulled out all the stops in Massachusetts on Monday but are bracing for a loss in Tuesday’s special election. The final day of one of the biggest special elections in United States history was marked by even more help from President Barack Obama, continued Democratic attacks and a growing sense that Scott Brown is primed to rob Democrats of their 60th vote in the Senate, just six months after they secured it and with a healthcare bill hanging in the balance. The latest polling in the race shows the GOP state senator with leads in the single digits or tied, but some predict the swing in momentum means he’ll win Tuesday, and possibly by a comfortable margin. That would be a stunning result for Democrats, who were hardly alone when they failed to foresee a tough race for the seat of Sen. Edward Kennedy

Upset could trigger healthcare rush
The ironically-named “democrats” again reveal their contempt for democracy. If Brown wins, and they do this, they will bring down a firestorm on their party, but they seem increasingly power-mad and tone deaf. When Ted Kennedy won a special election to replace JFK, the media reports he was seated the next day. Excerpt: Congressional Democrats are considering passing healthcare reform before the winner of the Massachusetts special election is seated in the upper chamber, Democratic sources say. The expedited endgame would be necessary only if Republican state Sen. Scott Brown defeats state Attorney General Martha Coakley in Tuesday’s special election to fill the seat left vacant by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). That would be an option,” said a senior Democratic aide, who downplayed an alternative scenario wherein the House would pass the Senate-approved healthcare bill without changes. If Coakley wins, Democrats will retain their 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Leaders will make a final decision when results of the election are known, but sources close to the Democratic leadership in both chambers say a speedy vote is the best option. The plan could backfire if a single Democratic senator, such as Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.) or Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.), objected on grounds that it would violate the will of voters in Massachusetts.

Senate election in Massachusetts could be harbinger for health-care reform
Excerpt: Democrat Martha Coakley's struggle to stave off a potentially devastating defeat in Tuesday's special Senate election in Massachusetts marks a critical turning point in the year-long debate about health-care reform. Regardless of the outcome of the race, the two parties appeared headed toward a monumental clash over the issue in the coming midterm elections.

Democratic candidates closely watch Mass. special election
Excerpt: Regardless of what happens in Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts, several Democrats in big races will have to rethink themselves on healthcare. And it’s incumbent senators in particular who have strategists concerned. Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) face electoral peril similar to that of Martha Coakley, except they aren’t running in the bluest state in the union. They are running (save for the case of Colorado in 2008) in a trio of red states. Democratic strategists worry that what has happened in Massachusetts will make the lawmakers gun-shy. If voters can elect a Republican in Massachusetts, why wouldn’t they unseat, for example, an incumbent polling in the low 40s in Arkansas? (And regardless of the outcome, unknown as I write this, Sen. Brown and his supporters have thus done a great service to the Republic.)

Ten reasons why the Massachusetts Senate race is very, very important
Good summary. Excerpt: It's almost impossible to overstate the political significance of tomorrow's Massachusetts Senate election. Here are ten reasons why the election is so important nationally:

The Political Blunders of the Obama White House
Excerpt: If Scott Brown should defeat Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts special election tomorrow, it will be a fitting metaphor for the political trajectory of President Obama's first year in office. A year ago Democrats were talking about Obama as the next Franklin Roosevelt, and suggesting that they were on the cusp of an enduring majority. Today, they are struggling to hold Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat. Coakley will rightly get most of the blame should Brown actually pull off what once seemed to be an impossible victory. Yet much of the responsibility will have to rest with Barack Obama, who has guided his party so poorly that it is having trouble making an appeal to voters in Massachusetts. To put it bluntly, the Obama White House has been politically inept in the last year. It has made serious miscalculations, and today it is paying a price. Ultimately, the reason for these errors goes back to the greenness of the Commander-in-Chief himself, who lacked executive experience and had little first-hand knowledge of the way Washington functions. He put together a team too full of Chicago strongmen, campaign hacks, and sympathetic "Friends of Barack." Accordingly, he and his executive staff were ill prepared for managing the government. This led to three significant political blunders.

Scott Brown’s wife could kick your ass
Excerpt: Turns out Mrs. Brown is a reporter for WCVB-TV the ABC affiliate in Boston using her maiden name, Gail Huff. She’s kept a low profile because has an agreement with the station that she won’t cover politics nor appear at any of her husband’s campaign events to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. Here’s Gail taking the Navy SEAL fitness test. We’d bet on her in a death cage match with Barney Frank. And we’d pay to see it, too.

Massachusetts - the Chicago Way
Excerpt: How best to steal the election from Brown and the people of Massachusetts? Absentee ballots. As has been shown time and again across the nation, Democrats like to lose, misplace, or never count absentee ballots. Traditionally, they tend to favor the Republican candidate. Especially those from overseas military personnel.

Kabul paralyzed by bombings, shootouts with Taliban fighters
Bad timing for Martha “Clueless” Coakley, who said all the terrorists have left Afghanistan.

Satire. Humor. Joke. Please don’t write and ask, “Is that true?”
Obama: Coakley Victorious if Brown Gets Less Than 60%

Excerpt: As voters in Massachusetts go to the polls today to decide who will complete the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s unexpired term, President Obama declared that “anything less than a 20-point win by Scott Brown represents a resounding endorsement of my entire domestic and foreign policy agenda.” “If Brown ends up with less than 60 percent, there’s gonna be a lot of sullen Republicans, moping around, hanging their heads,” said the president to a crowd of supporters that greeted him upon his return from stumping for Democrat Martha Coakley. “Such a thin margin against such a historically weak opponent would be tantamount to a crushing loss for Scott, and would signal a clear rejection of the GOP platform in general.

Are Republicans "Due"? by Thomas Sowell
Excerpt: Those of us who are not Republicans nevertheless have a huge stake in this fall's elections, because the current administration in Washington is not merely deficient but dangerous, both at home and abroad. In just one year in power, the Obama administration has not merely tripled the deficit and circumvented the Constitution with their "czars" who rule by decree, but have moved to dictate the medical treatment of all Americans-- which is to say, they are moving toward getting the power of life and death, to add to all the other powers they have seized. Increasing numbers of Americans are saying that they are having trouble recognizing the country in which they were born and grew up. They will have even more trouble recognizing America if the Washington juggernaut does not lose a substantial part of its power in this year's election. The dangers are not only in domestic policy but even more so in the Obama administration's foreign policy. Their diddling around while fanatical leaders of a terrorist-sponsoring nation like Iran are moving toward producing nuclear bombs can take us and the world to a point of no return.

Why Martin Luther King Was Republican
Rather a different view. Excerpt: It should come as no surprise that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican. In that era, almost all black Americans were Republicans. Why? From its founding in 1854 as the anti-slavery party until today, the Republican Party has championed freedom and civil rights for blacks. And as one pundit so succinctly stated, the Democrat Party is as it always has been, the party of the four S's: slavery, secession, segregation and now socialism.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: supporter of Israel
Don’t tell Obama or Jessie Jackson. Excerpt: Martin Luther King, Jr., was an opponent of the jihad against Israel. Some key and authenticated quotes: "I cannot stand idly by, even though I happen to live in the United States and even though I happen to be an American Negro and not be concerned about what happens to the Jews in Soviet Russia. For what happens to them happens to me and you, and we must be concerned." "Israel's right to exist as a state in security is uncontestable." "Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality."

"Reviving the Constitution" An Online Town Hall
January 30, 2010, 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM. The Kirby Center cordially invites you to participate in an online town hall on Saturday, January 30, 2010. There are two ways to participate in this event--in person or by viewing a live video stream ("webcast"). Advance registration is required for both forms of participation. Please spread the word to friends and family about this day-long town hall, which will feature presentations and interactive Q&A sessions led by Kirby Center faculty and Hillsdale College President Dr. Larry P. Arnn. The event will run from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, and will be broadcast from the offices of TVWorldwide.com in Chantilly, VA. Participation via live webcast is free of charge; persons who wish to participate online will receive a link to the webcast upon registering. In-person participation costs $10, and payment will be collected at the door (checks, cash, and major credit cards will be accepted). Lunch will be provided to those who register to be part of the studio audience. TVWorldwide.com is located at 4206 F Technology Ct. in Chantilly, VA, 20151. Although space is limited, groups are welcome.
Bank Tax Misses the Real Bailout Deadbeats in Detroit and DC
Excerpt: Facing rising populist anger over his administration’s billion-dollar bailouts, President Barack Obama proposed a $117 billion tax over the next 12 years on financial companies with assets of more than $50 billion. “We want our money back, and we’re going to get it,” the President said. The President is half right. Taxpayers are going to get their money back from the banks that received bailout money … but don’t expect to see any of the money the Obama administration poured into General Motors and Chrysler at the behest of their union allies. That is where the real losses are coming from. The TARP program has so far distributed $247 billion to more than 700 banks. Of that, $162 billion in principal and $11 billion in interest and dividends have already been repaid. Except for AIG, almost all banks that received taxpayer money are expected to pay back the American taxpayers in full. As The New York Times reports: “The losses from the bailout fund are expected from money paid to rescue Chrysler and General Motors and the insurance giant American International Group, and from a program to help homeowners avert foreclosures.” So the real deadbeats that are not giving us “our money back” are not the banks, but the union-backed car companies and failed government mortgage modification programs. But guess what? The White House has chosen not to include the car companies among the institutions that will pay this so called “Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee.” Also exempted are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored entities that helped create the crisis. (Let’s discourage lending in this economic crisis.)

Obama’s Inaugural Lies Exposed
Excerpt: Barack Hussein Obama made a lot of promises during his two-year long campaign, and attempted to solidify these pledges in his inaugural address. True, these promises took a softer form (some might call it pap) in his inaugural speech, but those who supported him and voted for him in 2008 understood what he was meant to do on their behalf. This was, of course, before most of us, both on the left and on the right, knew what his real agenda was.

Chicago’s Real Crime Story
Excerpt: Barack Obama has exploited his youthful stint as a Chicago community organizer at every stage of his political career. As someone who had worked for grassroots “change,” he said, he was a different kind of politician, one who could translate people’s hopes into reality. The media lapped up this conceit, presenting Obama’s organizing experience as a meaningful qualification for the Oval Office. This past September, a cell-phone video of Chicago students beating a fellow teen to death coursed over the airwaves and across the Internet. None of the news outlets that had admiringly reported on Obama’s community-organizing efforts mentioned that the beating involved students from the very South Side neighborhoods where the president had once worked. Obama’s connection to the area was suddenly lost in the mists of time. Yet a critical blindness links Obama’s activities on the South Side during the 1980s and the murder of Derrion Albert in 2009. Throughout his four years working for “change” in Chicago’s Roseland and Altgeld Gardens neighborhoods, Obama ignored the primary cause of their escalating dysfunction: the disappearance of the black two-parent family. Obama wasn’t the only activist to turn away from the problem of absent fathers, of course; decades of failed social policy, both before and after his time in Chicago, were just as blind. And that myopia continues today, guaranteeing that the current response to Chicago’s youth violence will prove as useless as Obama’s activities were 25 years ago.

Carville Poll: Just One-Third of Voters Support Obamacare http://www.redstate.com/brianfaughnan/2010/01/18/carville-poll-just-one-third-of-voters-support-obamacare/
Excerpt: Here’s a shot of cold water for Democrats figuring out how to force an unpopular health care rationing bill through, despite the fact that it’s proving an incredibly hard lift even in liberal Massachusetts. Even Democratic pollster James Carville - and his partner, Stanley Greenberg - are finding that American voters are decisively against the proposal. Not only that, Carville’s most recent poll - which he has not discussed or promoted since it was quietly posted last week - shows that as Democrats have focused on health care over the last few months, their ratings are collapsing.

Seven Lowlights From Obama's First Disastrous Year in Office
Only seven?

Al Qaeda in Yemen Warns It Is Intact and Will Strike
Hope BO can explain to them that Islam is a Religion of Peace in time. Excerpt: The al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen issued fresh threats against the U.S. and its Mideast allies, promising to retaliate against a surge of strikes launched in the past month against its leaders and havens. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula also denied statements made by Yemeni authorities late last week that six of al Qaeda's senior leaders in the country, including the man identified as the leader of the group's military operations, had been killed in an airstrike. "The Yemeni government has been making many false claims … against the mujahedeen leaders in the Arabian Peninsula. The latest of these claims is that it killed six of them," the group said, according to a statement posted on Islamist Web sites. "We assure our Muslim nation that none of the mujahedeen were killed in that unjust and insidious raid; rather, some brothers were slightly wounded."

Iran Demonstrators Facing Death Sentence
Excerpt: The Iranian judiciary will put 16 opposition protesters on trial, Monday, in connection with demonstrations last month on the holy day of Ashoura. Press reports and recent statements by Iranian prosecutors indicate several will be charged with the offense of "mohareb" or "making war against God and his prophet." Conviction on such a charge carries the death penalty. (See how useful Shari’a Law is for quelling dissent? Coming soon to a location near you.)

Obama! It’s Okay to Be Proud of The United States
Excerpt: If the tragedy of the earthquake in Haiti proves anything, it proves that the U.S. continues to be the bright and shining beacon in the darkness. Have there been and will there be mistakes? Of course. Will some of Obama’s cronies get filthy rich? Yes. Even as one reads that China was first on the ground, that Chavez was the first to send an airplane of relief supplies, and that France accuses the U.S. of turning away a relief flight, there is no doubt about which nation is the giant in the relief operation…. Maybe Obama will get the chip off his shoulder through this experience and come to an understanding that America, is in fact the shining light on a hill, a port in the storm, the land of freedom, promise and opportunity; and, that those qualities predated him by nearly two and a half centuries. Maybe, just maybe this event will mark a change in his thinking and attitude and that it is only because the Constitution which he overtly holds in great disdain that makes possible the engine of America’s free market economy; and it is from that engine that America’s economic greatness springs. Maybe he will wake up to the reality that everyone achieves more when they are free to compete within a framework of civility and fairness; that the solution to spreading the wealth around is not tons of stifling regulatory reports or government control; rather, the solution is rooting out corruption in both the private and government sectors of the economy. Maybe, just maybe Obama will join America. There is always hope! If not, the Drummers will come; and they will drum you out of Washington!

Hoyer: Passing Senate healthcare bill 'clearly better than nothing'
excerpt: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday said passing the Senate healthcare bill would be “clearly better than nothing.” The second-ranking House Democrat said “moving ahead on healthcare is essential,” regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s special election to fill the seat held for four decades by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Vietnam bans media from recording democracy activists' trial
John Kerry’s Communist friends in Vietnam, whom he helped to power. Excerpt: A Vietnamese court has banned the used of recording devices and computers by media covering the trial of four democracy activists scheduled to begin Wednesday. "These are the regulations of this court," said an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who refused to be named. "No one is allowed to bring cameras, tape recorders, mobile phones, or computers into the courtroom."

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