Spare a Thought for the Down Ballot Races

Of note. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Folks, the national scene is deservedly getting a lot of attention, and my eyes will be on the debate Monday. The presidential race and senate races, in particular, could not be more important this year. But down ballot races in Massachusetts also deserve your focus and support. In my districts, I’m lucky to have a fairly safe congresswoman, state senator, and state rep. While I will likely be spending some time in New Hampshire between now and November 8, yesterday I spent the afternoon with the incomparable Amanda Smith canvassing for freshman state rep Mike Day (Winchester and Stoneham, 31st Middlesex district), after a rousing sendoff by Congresswoman Katherine Clark.

Mike Day is a hard-working rep who is in the legislature for the right reasons and has made a positive impact in his first two years. He has a far right-wing opponent (though she does not present herself that way) who is a Republican state committeewoman and has been endorsed by Gov. Baker (though he did not endorse her in the Republican primary). The choice could not be clearer. Yet Mike Day won his last race by barely 2 percentage points against this same opponent, and she’s coming on strong. This could be a close race, and it depends on getting to the doors, getting the message out, and getting out the vote. If you want to make an impact and keep this dedicated progressive Democrat in the legislature, you might throw some support his way. He has a long list of endorsements including Congresswoman Clark and State Senator Jason Lewis.

In Massachusetts, the strategy of the right seems to be to build a farm team of republican selectmen, city councillors, etc. who can then move on to state rep and state senate seats, aided by a lot of out-of-state money. Let’s stop this one. It’s not my district, not my campaign, but it matters to our ability to improve the lives of residents today and tomorrow. Check out his website for more info. The key point here is that every vote counts. People need to 1) register, 2) vote, 3) complete the entire ballot, 4) tell their friends and neighbors that their votes for all offices matter, 5) make sure that people who have trouble voting on election day can either vote absentee or vote early, and 6) Get Out The Vote. (Others should feel free to chime in, highlight their important local races, and share exactly how we can help one another.)

Great ad for Clinton "Mirrors"

Trouble brewing at EOEEA?

There have been three not-great stories for the Baker administration recently, all coming out of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA):

  • Two top officials of the Department of Conservation and Recreation were suspended without pay for a week after the press revealed that they used state resources to throw a party for Republican bigwigs.
  • Baker named his former campaign driver, James McGinn, as the head of the state’s environmental police – perhaps the most controversial of several hires within EOEEA that have the whiff of patronage about them.
  • An EOEEA employee was harassed and faced on-the-job retaliation after her fiancé announced that he was planning to run against an incumbent Republican state senator.

Baker has defended the hiring of McGinn, and has strongly criticized the employees involved in the other incidents.  Nonetheless, one has to wonder whether it’s coincidence that all of these incidents are happening within EOEEA.  When Baker named Matthew Beaton, a not-very-well-known state rep, to be his Secretary of EOEEA, eyebrows were raised.  And I wondered whether he was up to the job of running such a large operation:

one does wonder whether a 30-something, 2-term state rep with no evident experience overseeing anything other than a small construction company and a state rep’s tiny office is ready to hit the ground running with respect to a large secretariat that encompasses at least seven different agencies (honestly, if I had to hazard a guess as to which major Baker appointee will step down “to spend more time with his family” first, it’d be Beaton, since Baker will be the last guy to have patience for someone who isn’t up to the managerial aspect of the job).

So far, Baker is expressing “full and unequivocal support” for Beaton.  But I’d expect that to change if this starts to look like more of a pattern than it already does.

Massachusetts Ballot Questions, in haiku form

No no, Yes yes is easy to remember. - promoted by Bob_Neer

Inspired by Damian Carroll’s version of this for California and LA.

Q1:
Builds a slots parlor
Exclusively Suffolk Downs
Without open bid

Q2:
Twelve new charter schools
Must be opened every year
First in poor cities

Q3:
Animals’ cages
Must be a minimum size
If grown or sold here

Q4:
Legalizes pot
Licenses granted by State
Towns vote to opt out

Q5 (Boston and other places voting on the CPA):
Small property tax
Pays for housing, old stuff, parks
Some State matching funds

Q5 (Somerville):
Build new High School or
Risk deaccreditation
Borrowing money

Restoring the 4th amendment -- and rebuilding trust -- here in MA

Two more horrific shootings of black men by police this week, in Tulsa and Charlotte. It seems that this will never end — perhaps because it’s never stopped. Most likely we are simply more aware of racist police violence because of social media, and the instant ubiquity of news; back in the day, we’d only know what was happening across the country if some national outlet happened to pick up the story.

But we’ve got problems here. The MA Supreme Judicial Court even made a pro-4th Amendment ruling that is at once justified, and stunning in its conclusions: That under the circumstances, black people actually have good reason to fear the police, and that flight is not [by itself - edit] adequate cause for suspicion:

We do not eliminate flight as a factor in the reasonable suspicion analysis whenever a black male is the subject of an investigatory stop. However, in such circumstances, flight is not necessarily probative of a suspect’s state of mind or consciousness of guilt. Rather, the finding that black males in Boston are disproportionately and repeatedly targeted for FIO [Field Interrogation and Observation] encounters suggests a reason for flight totally unrelated to consciousness of guilt. Such an individual, when approached by the police, might just as easily be motivated by the desire to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled as by the desire to hide criminal activity. Given this reality for black males in the city of Boston, a judge should, in appropriate cases, consider the report’s findings in weighing flight as a factor in the reasonable suspicion calculus.

This situation of mistrust has been not helped in the least by the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association’s stonewalling on police cameras. The patrolmen agreed to a voluntary body camera program; then somehow no one volunteered to wear one. When the commissioner then ordered some of them to wear the cameras, they took it to court: You can’t make us – it’s voluntary! This does not sound like good faith negotiation.

And in Walpole … does this sound familiar?

Jean-Paul Wahnon has never run afoul of the law. So when a Walpole police officer rifled through his Toyota Prius on an August afternoon and repeatedly asked whether the car was his and whether he had a gun in his possession, Wahnon was concerned.

Senator Warren takes Wells Fargo Chairman and CEO John Stumpf to Woodshed

Must see YouTube. (If you prefer reading about eviscerations to watching them, BMGer terrymcginty offers some of NPR’s summary here.)

The Most Effective Case for Hillary Clinton

Another take on what Clinton needs to do to close the deal - promoted by hesterprynne

This is a unique election, certainly the most bizarre in modern American history. An election that should have been a referendum on one of the most successful Presidencies in our lifetimes, will instead be a referendum on a man wholly unqualified to seek the office, let alone, serve in it.

In my mind, this election is going to come down to convincing voters who would normally reject Hillary Clinton in any other cycle to embrace her in this one. Not just to disavow Trump, but to affirmatively embrace her. The Dallas Morning News, a conservative paper that has not endorsed a Democrat in over 75 years affirmatively embraced Hillary Clinton this past month in a brilliant editorial. Tell your independents, your centrists, your #Never Hillary progressives, and especially your #Never Trump conservative friends and neighbors, to read this editorial and get back to me on her fitness for office.

It begins pretty boldly:

There is only one serious candidate on the presidential ballot in November. We recommend Hillary Clinton.

I’ve said this since day 1, and count me as one of her most consistent critics here. I voted for Bernie in the primary, I’ve met the man, I love the man, and I love the cause he stood for. But there was only one potential President on either party’s debate stage this cycle, and that was always Hillary Clinton.

The Dallas Morning News continues:

We’ve been critical of Clinton’s handling of certain issues in the past. But unlike Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has experience in actual governance, a record of service and a willingness to delve into real policy.

This woman is flawed, ethically and politically, and that will never change. This woman is also the most capable policy mind of her generation, including her predecessor and her husband. That will never change either. And on a whole, it is the latter more than the former that determines a successful presidency.

Resume vs. resume, judgment vs. judgment, this election is no contest.

In Clinton’s eight years in the U.S. Senate, she displayed reach and influence in foreign affairs. Though conservatives like to paint her as nakedly partisan, on Capitol Hill she gained respect from Republicans for working across the aisle: Two-thirds of her bills had GOP co-sponsors and included common ground with some of Congress’ most conservative lawmakers.

As President Barack Obama’s first secretary of state, she helped make tough calls on the Middle East and the complex struggle against radical Islamic terrorism. It’s no accident that hundreds of Republican foreign policy hands back Clinton.

I love that Hillary loves Israel, I love that Hillary tells Snowden where to stick it, and I love that she continues to stand up to our enemies. That she keeps it 100 when the far left wants to play drum circles to stop ISIS and blames America for Putin’s aggression. Or when the far right continues to deny the national security threat posed by climate change and xenophobia. Now is not the time for American retreat, we will get that under President Trump, the Kremlin’s candidate this cycle. Now is the time for a liberal committed to women’s rights, gay rights, and economic fairness who is strongly committed to preserving America’s predominance in the world. We need that combination in these uncertain times. When the very ideals of the West are attacked by radicals defaming Islam or nationalists defaming our flag. America is not only ready for her, it needs her.

"Sane Republicans" Won't Save Us From Trump

An argument that the Clinton campaign's preoccupation with winning over sane Republicans is the reason the polls are still within the "margin of terror" (h/t Samantha Bee) - promoted by hesterprynne

The Boston Globe editorial board has been on a year-long crusade to beg Republicans to stop being Republicans. During the primaries, they repeatedly asked Republicans to vote for Democrats’ preferred Republicans. Surprise! Today’s Fox-loving, fact-denying, far-right Republican base picked the craziest candidate available.

Once again during the general election, the Globe is pleading with “sane Republicans” to oppose Trump. But the “Republicans for Clinton” endorsers it points to has literally no one I’ve ever heard of. Just two of 301 congressional Republicans have endorsed candidates besides Trump.

Most damning is the polling. Below are the crosstabs from Morning Consult’s latest poll that has Hillary up 4% vs. Trump head-to-head and up 2% in a four-way race. Despite the Clinton campaign pouring millions into ads urging Republicans to oppose Trump, Trump actually has slightly stronger support from Republicans than Clinton does from Democrats, and Trump has a slight lead with independents:

Clinton still maintains a lead in the polls overall because there are far more self-identified Democrats than self-identified Republicans (“independents” now lean conservative because so many former Republicans now shun the party label).

Clinton will win not because a handful of “sane Republicans” voted for her, but because she convinced the Obama coalition – young voters, minorities, and college-educated whites – that she’s worthy of their enthusiasm. Despite waves of articles written by oldsters about how it’s all Millennials’ fault that Clinton isn’t doing better, it’s Baby Boomers who are fueling Trump.

Imagine if Clinton had spent all those millions on ads targeting likely supporters instead of targeting Republicans? How would the polls look?

AIM's 2015-2016 Legislative Scorecard: Grading on a (Laffer) Curve

Bumped from a couple of weeks ago, in light of today's Globe story that doesn't delve into the details of AIM's legislative "scorecard" to nearly the extent that your diligent editor did. - promoted by david

The state’s biggest employer trade group, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, released its 2015-2016 Legislative Scorecard today, ranking all 200 legislators by how dependably their votes advanced AIM’s legislative priorities.

This edition of the scorecard also trumpets a very clear story line — when it comes to supporting the state’s business community, it’s a tale of two chambers: House good, Senate bad. In AIM’s own words:

While the House of Representatives and Speaker Robert DeLeo successfully forged consensus on important measures such as wage equity and energy, the Senate hewed to a more progressive, ideological approach that produced a steady stream of bills with the potential to harm the Massachusetts economy.

Wow – who knew that all our Senators were Keynesians, Socialists or worse and that all our Representatives were devotees of Hayek?

The scorecard offers no information about roll call vote numbers or the dates of votes (although such information is available on the tallies made by other interest groups). AIM asserts that the Senate scores were “based upon many of the same issues” as the House scores, but even a quick review shows significant disparities between the votes AIM used to determine the scores in the respective chambers.

For example, AIM takes the Senate to task for twice voting against its preferred position on the amount of compensation employers should be liable to pay to employees in wage violation cases. You would not know from the scorecard that the House also took two votes on this issue, with results (largely along party lines) very similar to the votes the Senate took.  (The House votes are here and here.) While the Senate votes on this issue were included in the scorecard, the House votes weren’t.

Two years ago, AIM decided against issuing any Legislative Scorecard for the 2013-2014 session, explaining that “the complexity of the lawmaking process and the sometimes arcane rules of each chamber make it nearly impossible to render a fair judgment on the votes taken by individual legislators.” Those constraints are no longer in operation, it seems. The scorecard issued today raps the Senate for voting for an amendment prohibiting public utilities from adding fees to their customers’ electric rates to subsidize new natural gas pipelines, but it ignores the fact that four members of the House (including one of the most liberal and one of the most conservative) offered the same amendment in that body’s energy bill deliberations, but the amendment was ruled ”out of order” through an arcane rule —  a parliamentary decision by House leadership that precluded a vote on the substance. (It also ignores the fact that more than 90 of the 160 Representatives sent a letter to House Speaker DeLeo in support of the Senate’s position.)

It was fairly clear, well before today’s scorecard came out, that the House was more friendly to AIM’s interests during the past legislative session than the Senate was. What’s less clear is why AIM chose to rig the results this time.  Is House leadership that susceptible to flattery?

 

Gun ownership declining

Reasonable. - promoted by Bob_Neer

While concentration of firearms increases, according to a new Harvard/Northeastern study. This may help to explain the increasing stridency and paranoia of gun ownership groups as they seek to replace declining numbers with increased volume.

Politically, this suggests that support for gun safety legislation should be increasingly popular with the general public.

Guardian:

Americans own an estimated 265m guns, more than one gun for every American adult, according to the most definitive portrait of US gun ownership in two decades. But the new survey estimates that 130m of these guns are concentrated in the hands of just 3% of American adults – a group of super-owners who have amassed an average of 17 guns each.

The unpublished Harvard/Northeastern survey result summary, obtained exclusively by the Guardian and the Trace, estimates that America’s gun stock has increased by 70m guns since 1994. At the same time, the percentage of Americans who own guns decreased slightly from 25% to 22%.

A woman's place is in the White House

Garrison Keillor makes an excellent argument for Secretary Clinton:

I saw Hillary once working a rope line for more than an hour, a Secret Service man holding her firmly by the hips as she leaned over the rope and reached into the mass of arms and hands reaching out to her. She had learned the art of encountering the crowd and making it look personal. It was not glamorous work, more like picking fruit, and it took the sort of discipline your mother instills in you: those people waited to see you so by gosh you can treat them right.

So it’s no surprise she pushed herself to the point of collapse the other day. What’s odd is the perspective, expressed in several stories, that her determination to keep going reveals a “lack of transparency” —- that she should’ve announced she had pneumonia and gone home and crawled into bed.

I’ve never gone fishing with her, which is how you really get to know someone, but I did sit next to her at dinner once, one of those stiff dinners that is nobody’s idea of a wild good time, the conversation tends to be stilted, everybody’s beat, you worry about spilling soup down your shirtfront. She being First Lady led the way and she being a Wellesley girl, the way led upward. We talked about my infant daughter and schools and about Justice Blackmun, and I said how inspiring it was to sit and watch the Court in session, and she laughed and said, “I don’t think it’d be a good idea for me to show up in a courtroom where a member of my family might be a defendant.” A succinct and witty retort. And she turned and bestowed her attention on Speaker Dennis Hastert, who was sitting to her right. She focused on him and even made him chuckle a few times. I was impressed by her smarts, even more by her discipline.

I don’t have that discipline. Most people don’t. Politics didn’t appeal to me back in my youth, the rhetoric (“Ask not what your country can do for you”) was so wooden compared to “so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” so I walked dark rainy streets imagining the great novel I wouldn’t write and was still trying to be cool and indifferent well into my thirties, when other people were making a difference in the world.
Hillary didn’t have a prolonged adolescence and fiction was not her ambition. She doesn’t do dreaminess. What some people see as a relentless quest for power strikes me as the good habits of a serious Methodist. Be steady. Don’t give up. It’s not about you. Work for the night is coming.

The woman who does not conceal her own intelligence is a fine American tradition, going back to Anne Bradstreet and Harriet Beecher Stowe and my ancestor Prudence Crandall, but none has been subjected to the steady hectoring that Mrs. Clinton has. She is the first major-party nominee to be pictured in prison stripes by the opposition. She is the first cabinet officer ever to be held personally responsible for her own email server, something ordinarily delegated to anonymous nerds in I.T. The fact that terrorists attacked an American compound in Libya under cover of darkness when Secretary Clinton presumably got some sleep has been held against her, as if she personally was in command of the defense of the compound, a walkie-talkie in her hand, calling in air strikes.

Extremism has poked its head into the mainstream, aided by the Internet. Back in the day, you occasionally saw cranks on a street corner handing out mimeographed handbills arguing that FDR was responsible for Pearl Harbor, but you saw their bad haircuts, the bitterness in their eyes, and you turned away. Now they’re in your computer, whispering that the economy is on the verge of collapse and for a few bucks they’ll tell you how to protect your savings. But lacking clear evidence, we proceed forward. We don’t operate on the basis of lurid conjecture.

Someday historians will get this right and look back at the steady pitter-pat of scandals that turned out to be nothing, nada, zero and ixnay and will conclude that, almost a century after women’s suffrage, almost 50 years after Richard Nixon signed Title IX into law, a woman was required to run for office wearing concrete shoes. Check back fifty years from now and if I’m wrong, go ahead and dance on my grave.

Globe points to importance of NH field operations

James Pindell notes the potentially decisive importance of field operations to the upcoming election in New Hampshire in a recap of the critical Senate race between Governor Maggie Hassan and Tea Party darling Kelly Ayotte, holding the line for Southern-style GOP hard-liners way up in reality-based New England.

Click here to volunteer for the Democratic Coordinated Campaign and help New Hampshire vote for prosperity instead of the party of Donald Trump and George W. Bush.

But if the presidential race is close and the Senate race remains within the margin of error, the tiebreaker may have less to do with branding — and more to do with the operations of each campaign.

In that respect too, Ayotte will be forging her own path.

Hassan’s campaign is part of a coordinated Democratic party operation fueled by hundreds of staffers and thousands of volunteers — and their efforts benefit not only Hillary Clinton but Hassan as well.

In past elections, Republicans have implemented a similar model for the party’s nominees. But Trump has not invested in much of a ground game this year in New Hampshire, leaving the get-out-the-vote efforts to roughly 50 staffers from the Republican National Committee.

Merrill, who oversaw Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign in New Hampshire, conceded that Democrats have a much stronger field operation in 2016 than Republicans do.

“What Republicans have right now is nothing like what we had four years ago with Mitt,” Merrill said. “However Ayotte, on her own, has built her own field operation and her own brand.”