Tag Archives: Attorney General Martha Coakley

Scott Brown, Haiti Relief, and Football

Election of Scott Brown in Mass. Illustrates Voter Anger and Frustration

This week’s election of Massachusetts relatively obscure State Senator Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate was a wake-up call to all politicians in Washington that the Americans are fed up with business as usual in the Beltway.  Martha Coakley may not have been the strongest campaigner, but after all–this is Massachusetts–the true-blue state that voted over 60 percent for Barack Obama just over a year ago!

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I do have to admit that my adult son and I spent almost three hours alone on a downtown corner in an election-day snowstorm holding signs for Martha Coakley.  We recorded 52 thumbs-up from passing motorists vs. only 29 thumbs down during about a thirty-minute time period when we were making our strictly unscientific poll.  Since our town and the whole state voted strongly for Brown, the only thing we were able to confirm was the complete unreliability of these unscientific polls!

So, what does it all mean?  Well, first of all, it means that the people are unhappy with the slow pace of the recovery and the higher-than-ten percent unemployment rate (9.4 percent here in Massachusetts).  Secondly, they seem to be angry with both Democrats whom they view as trying to spend our way out of the recession by using huge amounts of taxpayer money (adding to the deficit) with additional government programs like health care.  Although many people in Massachusetts support the idea of health care for the 30 million Americans who do not have any health care (and the elimination of prior conditions as a rationale for rejection ), they are incensed with back-room deals and a perceived lack of transparency in developing a health care bill.  While this looks like good news for Republicans, it is clear that they should not be licking their chops just yet.  Surveys and interviews with voters show that the people are  also not happy with Republicans who seem to be refusing to compromise, and are now beginning to be known as the Party of “No.”  Many people I spoke to point to the fact that Republicans and Conservatives  like Sen. Jim DeMint or Rush Limbaugh seem to WANT Barack Obama to fail and are, therefore, doing everything within their power to be obstructionist and confrontational–refusing to work with the President or to offer realistic compromises.

For those who pay attention to history, it is clear that this financial crisis does not belong to any ONE political party.  After all,  Democrat Bill Clinton left a $237 billion surplus for Republican George Bush and a Republican Congress.  President Bush and his policies caused that surplus to disappear largely through unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving  Democrat Barack Obama (on entering office)  a $1.3 trillion deficit.

The general view seems to be that Scott Brown–an attractive and energetic campaigner–was able to tap into all of that voter frustration.  Running a smart campaign, he is the beneficiary of all of that voter anger and angst.  His job now is to  prove that he is, in fact,  the independent thinker, shaker and mover that he purported to be.  In the spirit of good government and true bipartisanship, I wish him all the best.  Our country needs it; our democracy demands it.

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NOW,  ONTO  SOME  OTHER  CONCERNS  OF  THE  WEEK:

Kudos to the American people who have rallied to the cause of disaster relief in Haiti by donating over 377 million dollars in the past two weeks.   As an American and an educator for nearly 37 years, it makes me proud to see how average citizens–many in financial difficulty themselves–have dug deeply to help friends in the world community who have been stricken by the disaster in Haiti.  While so many countries–including the U.S., Mexico, Venezuela, Israel, Spain, and China–have sent doctors and/or rescue squads, many are also contributing huge amounts of money.  Based upon the percentage of amounts donated and/or pledged and on the per capita contributions (which takes the population of each country into account), it seems that the leading contributors are the United States, Canada, Spain, Great Britain, France, the World Bank, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the European Commission.  I hope the contributions continue to flow in –even as Haiti fades from the nightly news reports, and the media focuses on other areas of the world.

Since they often are ridiculed for the causes they espouse, I also want to thank those celebrities who were involved as performers or phone handlers in the telethon for Haiti relief which was on all three networks yesterday.   Sure, our society rewards superstar celebrities with nearly obscene salaries for their singing or acting, but it behooves us to point out that a large number of these celebrities really do seem to have genuine social consciences that cause them to go into action to help in the worst of times.  Thanks to celebrities such as George Clooney, Madonna, Sting, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Kid Rock, Neil Young, JayZ, Beyonce, Shakira Wyclef Jean, Bono, Sheryl Crow, and Rhiana who all performed (partial list).  Thanks also to those who manned the phones:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Julia Roberts, Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington, Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood, Halle Berry, Ben Stiller, Stephen Spielberg, Ellen DeGeneres, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, and Reese Witherspoon.  As of this morning, their efforts had already raised 67 million dollars.  Quite a few of these celebrities have also made major contributions from their own personal fortunes to Haiti relief. Just a few of the heavy contributors:  Sandra Bullock (1 million dollars), Leonardo DiCaprio (1 million dollars), Madonna (250,000 dollars), Clooney/Pitt and others (1 million dollars)..

Just a few words on the NFL playoffs……..I am writing this just as the AFC Championship game begins.   As I think of the millions of fans who are diverted by football for a few hours from their financial or personal problems, I am reminded a bit of my Shakespeare classes at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.  It seemed that even in the midst of a classic tragedy like Macbeth, Shakespeare  managed to introduce some comic relief—just to allow the audience to breathe a bit–before the worst to come.  One hopes that we have already seen the worst, but it is nice–nevertheless–to be able to take a breath, watch the Jets, the Colts, the Vikings, and the Saints–and be concerned only with yards per carry, interceptions, quarterback sacks, and the like.  If only the problems of the world could be so simple.

My Predictions:

Colts defeat Jets 24-21;  (Jets’ defense not enough to stop Manning) and Saints defeat Vikings 31-27  (Bret Favre is good (and Adrian Peterson could help), but Drew Brees is better.

Until Next Week………….

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The Massachusetts Senate Race — Martha Coakley Vs. Scott Brown

      

Worcester, MA Rally for Martha Coakley with Former President Bill Clinton

 

In my first post for this new blog, I will discuss the Massachusetts Senate Race,  endorse a candidate, and explain my rationale for that endorsement.  I invite you to read, to agree, or to disagree.  All I ask is that those who disagree do so courteously–without being disagreeable.  This is a column for rational discourse and courteous debate of ideas and issues.    

The Senate race for the seat formerly held by The Liberal Lion of the Senate, the late Ted Kennedy, here in Massachusetts, is about as close as it can get, with the election set for Tuesday–just one day away (January 19).   It is Democrat Martha Coakley (currently Attorney General) vs. Republican Scott Brown (currently State Senator)   The tone of the campaign has gotten really heated lately with both candidates flooding the television and radio airwaves with ubiquitous commercials.   

On Friday night I went to a Rally for Martha Coakley which featured former President Bill Clinton, a supporter of Mrs. Coakley.   You can see some of the photos from that event in the collage above or by clicking on my flickr site at the far right side of this page.    

This race is an extremely important race–not only for Massachusetts, but also for the entire country!   

Why”” you ask.     

One Major Reason:  If Martha Coakley is elected, President Obama maintains his 60 vote Democratic majority in the Senate.  This allows him a more reasonable chance of passing the agenda on which he campaigned so successfully—the same agenda which caused him to be elected by an overwhelming majority of Americans.  In particular, he needs every one of those 60 Democratic Senate votes in order to pass his Health Care Reform Act.    

On the other hand, what are the national implications if her opponent is elected?   Well, there’s the rub!  Scott Brown, in fact,  has pledged to be the 41st vote in the Senate to kill President Obama’s health care bill. In addition, his election would deny the Senate the 60 votes needed to block a filibuster on all of the items on President Obama’s current and future agenda.  If the Republicans (with a possible 41 votes) are allowed to filibuster, many of Obama’s agenda items may never actually come to a vote.     

My View on the Race:    

It seems to me that Scott Brown is trying to paint himself as an Independent, rather than the staunch and dedicated Republican which he surely is.  It IS true that he has voted with the Republic leadership 96 percent of the time–specifically 546 times with the Republican position as opposed to only 25 times against that Republican leadership position.    

In fact, Scott Brown seems to be a conservative Republican in the same mold as Dick Cheney and George Bush, the two individuals most responsible for the financial crisis in which we now find ourselves and for the War in Iraq.  Remember Republican George Bush calling himself a “Compassionate Conservative” to appeal to disaffected Democrats and Independents???   Hmmmmm…….A lot like Republican Scott Brown calling himself “independent” to appeal to all those “unenrolled” or “independent” voters!    

What are some of the positions which alarm me most about Scott Brown?    

1.  He OPPOSES cracking down on Wall Street bonuses, and he wants to provide LESS Wall Street oversight.    

2.  He wants to kill the health care bill, saying that we need to craft a better health care bill.  In a recent debate, the moderator pointed out that if this bill went down to defeat, it would likely be another 15 years (at least) before another bill would be introduced.  This is what happened when the Clinton attempt at a health care bill was last defeated.    

3.  He is NOT a friend of education!  He voted against smaller class sizes and for cutting funding for public colleges and universities.    

4.  He sponsored legislation to allow hospitals to deny contraception to rape victims.    

5.  He voted NO on a bill to provide for investment in and expansion of the life sciences industry in Massachusetts.    

6.  He voted AGAINST a bill which RESTORED all Mass Health benefits cut in 2002–including dental, vision, chiropractic, and prosthetics.    

7.  Incredibly, just one month after the September 11 attacks, Republican Scott Brown was one of only THREE Massachusetts state representatives to vote AGAINST a bill to provide financial assistance to Red Cross workers who had volunteered with the 9/11 recovery efforts.  Fortunately, despite Republican Scott Brown’s NO vote, this bill which authorized leaves of absence for certain Red Cross workers participating in Red Cross emergencies still passed 148-3.    

OK–enough about why I am NOT supporting Scott Brown, the Republican.   Now, why am I SUPPORTING and enthusiastically ENDORSING Martha Coakley, the Democrat?    

1.  She has a very impressive background, having graduated cum laude from Williams College and receiving a J.D. degree from Boston University School of Law before serving as a lawyer, joining Boston’s organized Crime Strike Force as a Special Attorney, serving as Chief of the Child Abuse Prevention Unit, and  investigating and prosecuting literally HUNDREDS of cases of both physical and sexual abuse of children, including the famous case of Louise Woodward.    

2.  She supports and will fight for  the current health care bill, knowing that it is not perfect but that it is the best chance to bring healthcare to millions of men, women, and children who are now without any heathcare at all.  

3.  She has comprehensive and detailed plans to improve our economy.  Specifically she has articulated clear plans for Middle Class and Small Business Relief Tax Program, a Jobs plan to get Americans back to work, and a plan for “enhanced financial reform” to prevent another economic collapse.  

4.  Martha Coakley has a strong record as  Attorney General.  She ” investigated and pursued cases related to housing discrimination, disability rights, fair lending, public accommodation, equal marriage, health care disparities, and hate crimes based on race, ethnicity, gender sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression.”  

5.  As Attorney General and District Attorney of Middlesex County, she ” successfully advocated for and defended legislation to create and expand buffer zones around reproductive health care facilities to ensure the safety of patients and staff members.”  

6.  Martha Coakley is a tough, no-nonsense defender of the public interest.  She stands up for the common man, woman or child when big banks, utility companies, insurance companies, and even the “Big Dig” take unfair advantage.    

7.  Martha Coakley supports our Veterans.  She calls for  improvements in delivering benefits, providing quality health care, ensuring a seamless transition to civilian life, supporting military families, and promoting commitment and respect.  

8.  Martha Coakley would be the first woman in Massachusetts to serve as Senator–breaking that glass ceiling for all the girls and young women who now sit in our classrooms pondering how they can help to shape the future.  

For all of the above reasons (and many more) I fully support Martha Coakley for Senate.  

Just a few more points:   As many media and political pundits have theorized, this race is so close because citizens are really mad, and they are venting that anger on talk-radio, in letters to the editor, and in interviews.   

Well, I’m angry too!  I’m angry that so many people–including friends and family members–are unemployed or underemployed.  I’m sick that so many have lost their homes or are fighting to hold on to them.   

I’m frustrated that so many children arrive in our schools from poor homes, entering preschool or kindergarten so far behind already—with physical, cognitive, emotional or psychological problems–and our teachers are responsible for teaching  more and more with devastating budget cuts impacting them at every turn.  

I’m angry that we have lost so many of our young men and women to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan–and so many more have been seriously injured and will suffer for years to come!  

I’m angry that a child born in a struggling town in Western or Central Massachusetts (or Eastern Mass., for that matter) does not have the same opportunities as those born in a rich town or an affluent suburb of Boston (thanks to the unfairness of property taxes as a support for education).  

HOWEVER, I would respectfully request that you do NOT displace your anger onto Martha Coakley.  It was, after all, the REPUBLICANS who were in charge for the past EIGHT years!  It was George Bush and Dick Cheney who got us into Iraq and into the “Great Recession” –even after inheriting a gigantic budgetary SURPLUS, courtesy of President Clinton.  In Bush’s first term, he even had a majority in Congress.  

For goodness sakes….you voted in overwhelming numbers for Barack Obama.   Give him a chance!  Even Ronald Reagan took a full term to make economic progress in our last recession.  

I support our President.  The economy is improving—people’s investments are coming back–thanks to improvements in the DOW and the NASDAQ.   President Obama is TRYING very hard to fulfill his commitment on health care.  You KNOW that if he had not made health care a priority, he never would have been able to do it later in his administration.  We now have a President that we can respect—as a serious thinker, as an articulate speaker, as someone who LISTENS to others and surrounds himself with brilliant leaders in their fields, as someone who brings people together, as someone who cares.  

Let me finish by noting that I admired the work of  Ted Kennedy as Senator.   Was he a perfect man?  No, he had his flaws like so many of us do–and he spent his life atoning for them and attempting to improve the lives of children, women, the poor, the elderly, and the sick.   Martha Coakley has attempted to do the same in her career thus far.  It would be a tragedy to allow Scott Brown to win this Senate Seat–Scott Brown,  a Republican who stands AGAINST so many of the positions for which Ted Kennedy gave so many years of his life!   

Please, Go to the Polls on Tuesday of this week, and Vote Martha Coakley for Senate.

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