Tag Archives: Scott Brown

Reflections on the 2012 Massachusetts Democratic Convention

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As you can see from the photo collage above, I was very excited about being a first-time delegate to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention this past weekend in Springfield, Massachusetts.  Having recently joined the Athol Democratic Town Committee, I eagerly looked forward to being directly involved in the Democratic (and democratic) process of selecting a candidate to oppose Republican Scott Brown in the race for Senator of Massachusetts.  I spent much of Friday evening enjoying Springfield by visiting separate receptions for U.S. Senate candidates Elizabeth Warren and Merisa DeFranco, as well as receptions for Lt. Governor Tim Murray, and State Treasurer Steve Grossman.  I also had occasion to see Congressman Richie Neal from Springfield and my own area congressman Jim McGovern.  I owe my friend on the Democratic Committee (as well as my wife) a big thank you for successfully wielding my camera and taking some really nice photos of me with the various candidates, a favor I returned, in kind, for him.

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Marisa DeFranco’s reception was rather sparsely attended, while Elizabeth Warren’s reception was absolutely packed with eager supporters.  The line waiting to get into Ms Warren’s reception at Theodore’s extended nearly a block outside throughout the evening. I enjoyed some barbecue ribs and conversation with supporters, but then moved on to other receptions, as there were hundreds of supporters waiting for a spot inside the restaurant, and we were unsure if Candidate Warren would show up, and if so, when?  (Note:  I did very briefly meet Candidate Warren later on in the evening as she was leaving Theodore’s).

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We moved on to a much smaller reception for Candidate DeFranco in the courtyard of Adolfo’s Restaurant.   Still, the smaller size of the DeFranco reception allowed me and my party to sit down and relax at a table, and to speak for 15-20 minutes to an enthusiastic DeFranco supporter who was explaining why Marisa was a great candidate   When Ms. DeFranco came in, I encouraged her to come to our table to speak to us, and she happily obliged, spending about 15 minutes with us–earning strong points for her warmth, her sincerity, her background as a lawyer for immigration issues, and her feistiness in carrying the fight to Scott Brown.   I was impressed with her, yet overall was more impressed with Elizabeth Warren, when I heard Ms. Warren speak twice on Saturday.  I like what Elizabeth Warren espouses regarding support for the middle class, jobs and the economy, accountability for Wall Street, protecting Medicare and Social Security, and civil rights/equality issues.  I also very much respect her background in education and her instrumental role in the founding of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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The next morning I went to the AFL-CIO breakfast at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, to see Elizabeth Warren and Joe Kennedy III speak. The room was packed, so my buddy and I sat on the edge of the stage with some other delegates while we munched on bagels and coffee.  We were shooed off there—naturally—once the speakers began arriving.  That worked out fine, however, as it earned us standing positions just 3 feet in front of the stage—great for viewing and listening to speeches (in a noisy room) and for photographing and videographing the speakers.  The speeches seemed designed to energize the crowd, and—as such—they were shorter versions of their usual stump speeches.  I plan to include excerpts of these speeches on my YouTube site sometime in the next day or two (http://www.youtube.com/user/mrgrosky1?feature=watch).  I enjoyed seeing and hearing from many Democratic Party luminaries from past and present including Tim Murray, Steve Grossman, Martha Coakley, Joe Kennedy III (running for Barney Frank’s seat), Former Governor and Democratic Presidential Candidate Mike Dukakis (with his wife Kitty), Rep. Richie Neal, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Niki Tsongas, Rep. Ed Markey, former Democratic candidate for governor Warren Tolman, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, Newton Mayor and Former Senate Candidate Setti Warren, Massachusetts AFL-CIO Secretary Louis Mandarini, Jr., Secretary of State Bill Galvin, and Governor Deval Patrick.

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Elizabeth Warren’s speech showed both  passion and boundless energy, and helped to further energize the crowd.  It also helped me to begin the process of finalizing my decision on the race.

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After the breakfast, we headed to the Convention itself in the arena.  We saw tributes to retiring Congressmen John Olver and Barney Frank and then a rousing and emotional speech by Governor Patrick.  We then saw video tributes and fiery, passionate speeches by first Elizabeth Warren and then Marissa DeFranco.   After the speeches, it was time to vote—one by one—as we shouted our vote to the teller in our area.  From the votes I heard, I said to my friend, “I don’t think that Marisa DeFranco is going to get anywhere near the 15 percent she needs in order to get onto the ballot.  From the votes I’m hearing, I’d be surprised if she even got 5 percent.”  As you know by now, Elizabeth Warren won with 95.7 percent of the vote.

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In response to those on the internet or in the media who claim that Marisa DeFranco did not get a fair shake at the convention, I strongly disagree.   First, I was not pressured there by either of the candidates or by their supporters.  I felt–as did the overwhelming majority of Democrats there—from nearly every town and city in Massachusetts—that it was our responsibility to put forth the very best candidate who could best beat Scott Brown–something we regard as extremely important to the Commonwealth, to the nation, to the average citizen—to the middle class and the poor. Among the ways that Brown has hurt middle class Americans is 1. His filibustering of the American Jobs Act, 2. His filibustering of the Teachers and First Responders Back-to-Work Act, 3. His filibustering of the Rebuild American Jobs Act, and 4. His filibustering of the Middle Class Tax Cut Act (TWICE) Consequently, we need to ensure that the candidate who faces Scott Brown in the fall is the strongest possible candidate.   It is NOT our responsibility to put forth 2 or 3 candidates—just to honestly vote for the person we felt was the best possible candidate. No one was railroaded, steamrolled, or run over by a bus. All that happened was that in an absolutely free vote by delegates (elected freely by local Democratic committees) the vast majority of delegates (95.7 percent) voted for Elizabeth Warren rather than Marisa DeFranco.  For disapproving Republicans, this was—in fact—the exact same process followed when Christy Mihos did not receive the required 15 percent when he ran for the Republican primary two years ago against Charles Baker.  For a nicely-written blog on the very OPEN and FAIR voting process, please visit http://www.richardhowe.com/2012/06/02/elizabeth-warren-and-the-95-77/ For more notes on the convention visit http://www.richardhowe.com/2012/06/04/notes-from-the-democratic-convention/

Note: ANY registered Democrat can join his or her Democratic Committee, become a Delegate to the Democratic Convention, and vote as he or she wishes at the Convention.

Nearly all delegates with whom I informally spoke believed that Elizabeth Warren is an excellent candidate—and the strongest candidate to oppose Scott Brown.  Many felt—as do I—that a 2-3 month primary fight against a Marisa DeFranco would have unnecessarily drained time, energy, and money from the Warren campaign, resulting in her beginning the fight for the actual seat the Senate until the fall.  If DeFranco’s polling numbers and finances gave her even a long shot’s chance, that may have—just MAY have—been feasible.  But to waste months of campaigning time, as well as personal energy and campaign financing—on a primary fight against someone who may be a fine person, but is simply has virtually no chance of winning is a poor strategy for success against Scott Brown.  I believe that Elizabeth Warren has an incredible intellect, a strong record, and a genuine concern for the citizens of both our Commonwealth and our Nation. She will be an extraordinary candidate, and I eagerly look forward to her upcoming debates with Senator Scott Brown.

Note:  Many more photos from the Convention are posted on my flickr site which can be accessed very easily by clicking on the link in the sidebar at the lower right hand corner of this page.

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The Scott Brown Thank You Tour

Scott Brown Comes to Dracut, Mass. to Thank His Supporters

 

In the spirit of good journalism and fairness, I traveled this afternoon to Dracut, Massachusetts where I attended the reception for Senator-elect Scott Brown.  I went with an open mind, determined to view this man who has shaken to its core the Democratic Party and (to a lesser extent) the Republican establishment as well.  Now, for those who are not regular readers of this blog,  in the spirit of full disclosure, I want to confess that I was an active supporter of Martha Coakley, and fully endorsed her candidacy on January 17 as my first blog post.   

However, those of you who know me and those of you who have read my blog, know how much I value fairness, decency, and rational discourse characterized by courtesy and respect.  In fact, I am hoping that my blog becomes known as one which actively and eagerly explores all points of view and solicits all ideas, so long as the writer expresses them courteously and attempts to back them up with facts and evidence.    

Finally, those who have read my most recent blog entry on the State of the Union Address, know that I firmly believe that we need to give our elected officials a fair chance and a reasonable amount of time to put their agendas to the test and to measure results.  In President Obama’s case, I stated strongly that 12 months was not nearly enough time to judge either Barack Obama or his Presidency.   

In the very same way, I believe that it is incumbent upon each and every one of us—Brown supporters, Coakley supporters, Kennedy supporters, and even those who did not vote–it is incumbent upon us ALL to support OUR United States Senator (Elect) Scott Brown.  He was, after all, fairly elected by a solid majority in an election that was watched and studied carefully across our Nation.
Consequently, it was in that spirit that I journeyed nearly ninety minutes in my 1993 Ford Focus (sorry, no Scott Brown styled pickup truck) to see Scott Brown thank his supporters and meet some of those other folks who had voted for one of the other two candidates.  I got to the restaurant about one hour early and was met by a line of people which was permitted to head into the restaurant beginning at about 2:40—nearly an hour before Senator-elect Brown was to arrive.  I was fortunate enough to get a position right in front of the podium—prime territory for some great photos, a short video, and a chance to personally meet (albeit very briefly) our newly elected Senator.    

The hall was filled with young, middle-aged, and older men and women, some of whom brought a child or two.  I’ve got to say that my experience in chatting with these Brown supporters for nearly an hour as we staked out our positions (literally and politically) in Lenzi’s Restaurant was a very positive and enjoyable one—even as I announced my Democratic pedigree and my support for both Coakley and President Obama.  This atmosphere, frankly, was in stark and pleasant contrast to my experience in encountering a group of enthusiastic but angry Brown supporters as I left the Coakley-Clinton rally at WPI in Worcester  just two weeks ago.    

This afternoon, I was surrounded by eager, thankful and excited Brown supporters.  They seemed to still be basking in the glow of their election success.  I say “their” success, because so many of them felt that they were a part of the success of the campaign and the victory of Scott Brown.  Seeing the way Brown’s victory has reverberated across the country and is already showing signs of making a difference in Washington politics-as-usual, they seemed newly enfranchised, filled with an idealism that I suspect many have not experienced in many a year.  I spoke to an elderly man from Dracut who had fought in the Korean War.   I spoke to a young Political Science and Communications graduate of Westfield State College who seemed eager to volunteer for a position on the Brown staff.  Then, there was a very pleasant woman standing just to my right in the only position that was better than mine—right in front of the podium.  She had a number of newspaper front pages—one laminated—that she was eager to have autographed.  She was from New Hampshire, and only became a supporter after her sister from Massachusetts called her excitedly about this new amazing candidate that she had begun following and supporting.  You can find her photo and many others of Senator-elect Brown and his supporter on my flickr photo website at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrgrosky.   

I spoke to a woman of 60 years who was eager (like most) to get a photo with Senator-elect Brown.  Quite frankly, I’m not sure she entirely approved of me or of my being there (especially right up front!) since I made it clear that I had not been in Brown’s corner, and that I was a strong supporter of President Obama.  Still, I think I gradually won her over a bit, when I insisted that I would try to write a fair and honest piece on this Brown event.   I spoke with a very kind young  Greek-American father and his sixth grade son.  We spoke of subjects ranging from his strong support of the Senator-elect,  to his son’s education,  to the campaign of Michael Dukakis, to the gorgeous Greek isles of Mykonos and Santorini. I spoke with two young men who had autographed a basketball to present to Mr. Brown in the hope that he might use it to challenge President Obama to a game on his “home court” in Washington.  Then there was the elderly lady whom I was informed was 90 years old and didn’t have a computer when I naively asked if she wanted me to email a picture of her posing with the President.   And the woman with the double-sided poster: on one side “Stand Strong” and on the other “Show the Love–Honk for Scott.”  She said that I could take her photo if I mentioned the “Rabid Republican” website   (O.K……a promise is a promise).   

There was a good feeling in that room–a real comradery among people who were happy for their successful candidate, now a soon-to-be-Senator, and a conviction that they really had made a difference–a difference that maybe–just maybe–might prove to be long-lasting.  Oh, sure, I guess some people didn’t quite know what to make of this retired educator who kept shooting photo after photo with his trusty Nikon—this former Coakley supporter who kept insisting that he was going to give the same chance to Scott Brown over the next two years as he hoped they would give to Barack Obama for another year or two.  But, in the long run, I think there grew a mutual respect,  As I listened to their fears of a scaled-back health care bill which they acknowledged might be acceptable initially (until the Congress added more to it year after year), they listened to me speak of goals that the President had recommended–tax breaks for small business and other job incentives upon which we could, perhaps, agree.   

And what about the object of all that affection, good will, and excitement?  Well, a smiling and exuberant Scott Brown entered soon after 3:30 to the enthusiastic applause and wild cheers of the faithful.   He spoke briefly–about three minutes.  After explaining that he wanted to stay long enough to have a chance to meet, shake hands with, or pose with everyone, he thanked the crowd:  “I want to personally try to thank each and every one of you because without all of you…I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to Washington and bring good government, and fairness, and discussion, and just problem-solving back to the equation.”  He seemed to answer, then, a question from the crowd:  “How are my days…?  My days are pretty much the same,” he playfully quipped.  “I get up, I go for a ride, I ride my bike, play with the dogs a little bit, give the wife a kiss goodbye, and then I go to see about a thousand people!”   He concluded, “and it’s all wonderful, and I’m very, very humbled and honored to be here and to have an opportunity to really make a difference and bring common sense back to the equation in Washington. ”  You can see the video at my YouTube    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsU53wnr05o
  

Just a  short speech and a much, much longer meet-and-greet that followed……Through it all, he seemed young and energetic.  To tell you the truth, he connected so warmly and directly with the crowd that as I watched the young and the old press for photos, handshakes, and autographs, I couldn’t help think and believe that this  is what it must have been what it was like  when Jack Kennedy first was elected to the Senate, Bill Clinton to the Governorship, and even (much more recently) Barack Obama to the Presidency.      

Will he stay true to his words and make good on his promises?  The crowd–voicing their fatigue (in some cases) and their disgust (in other cases) with the Washington career politicians, particularly with Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi–see him as a different kind of politician–a man of the people–a Senator whose only loyalty is to the people of Massachusetts.    

As for me, putting personal political biases and votes aside, I have to say that I was impressed with the man I briefly saw today.  He was friendly,warm,  personable, down-to-earth.  He seemed sincere, and though he was saying many of the same things at each of these five thank-you stops he has made over three days, the words still resonated true, as though they really came from the heart.  I wonder, too, if he will turn out to have more substance–to be more than I thought he was when I voted for Martha Coakley… Is he really the independent voice he insisted that he was, or was that just an attempt to obscufate the fact that he was a Republican who had voted with the state Republican leadership 96 percent of the time?   I certainly was encouraged when–in his first trip to Washington–he seemed to tell both Republicans and Democrats that he did not owe his election to either party and that he would vote his conscience.  I also liked his respect for those with opposing views–President Obama, in particular, and also Mayor Menino.   

Now, it’s true that many would call me an idealist, a cockeyed optimist;  some (especially on the left) might call me dangerously naive.  Yet after two weeks of disappointment with my candidate losing, and many days of seeing the vitriol of so many on the right (and a few on the left, as well) I admit that I was ready to be convinced that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that this light is not a freight train coming towards us, bringing us a disaster of epic proportions.  Scott Brown did not disappoint; I fervently hope he will not disappoint in the half-term ahead of him.  In any case, he deserves a chance.

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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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