Tag Archives: Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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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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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