Will a Cavalry Arrive to Save Massachusetts (and the US Senate)?

By Al Giordano

It has been many years since I so intensely reported politics in Massachusetts, and these recent weeks leading up to Tuesday’s special election on Senator Ted Kennedy’s replacement have reminded me of the following bad memories:

In 1978, a socially conservative pro-business challenger toppled Massachusetts Governor Mike Dukakis in the Democratic Primary. His name was Ed King and he became governor for four years, until Dukakis retook the corner office through a titanic rematch. Of course, King did a lot of damage during his four years as Governor.

In 1990, a whacked-out right-wing nutcase named John Silber – longtime president of Boston University, professor Howard Zinn said that his autobiography should have been titled Mein Campus – won a three-way Democratic primary for governor with his anti-abortion, anti-poor people, pro-business stances. Silber was defeated by descended-from-the-Mayflower millionaire Bill Weld, who ran as a pro-choice, pro-gay rights – but pro-business – Republican, who ushered in twelve years of Republican control – half by him and half by a Rogue’s Gallery in succession named Cellucci, Swift and then, brrrrrrrr, Romney.

These things happened in the supposedly “liberal” and “Democratic” state named Massachusetts.

Truth is, Massachusetts’ reputation as a progressive electoral bastion – dating back to 1972 when it was the only state to support Democrat George McGovern against President Richard Nixon (leading to a plethora of bumper-stickers that said, “Don’t Blame Me, I’m from Massachusetts”) – is undeserved. And that anomaly probably had to do more with McGovern’s choice of a Kennedy in-law named Sargent Shriver as his running mate than with McGovern’s heroic opposition to the Vietnam War. Massachusetts – so heavily Irish-Catholic - has always loved its Kennedys, but in spite of their liberal politics more than because of them.

Its capital city of Boston is the most segregated major city, racially speaking, perhaps in the United States. (And it was the Far North bastion of opposition to public school integration long after the Deep South had stepped into the future.)

Which is why Governor Deval Patrick’s 2006 gubernatorial triumph was a big step forward for the Bay State electorate.

But the Massachusetts Democratic primary electorate is one inordinately influenced by State House hacks in one corner and politically-correct practitioners of “identity politics” activism and such in the other, and regularly in the dysfunctional push-and-shove between the two, the Massachusetts Democratic Party falls so out of touch with the public that it takes a big electoral hit.

Here is the bad news (for progressive politics, for health care reform, and so much more): By all traditional political math, Democratic US Senate nominee Martha Coakley – currently attorney general of the state – will lose Tuesday’s special election for the seat that Ted Kennedy held until his passing last summer.

Coakley’s nomination is the result of a perfect storm (for Republicans): A Massachusetts Democratic primary electorate still a bit hungover that its own choice for president in 2008, now Secretary of State Clinton, lost in the rest of the country to Barack Obama, some still a bit bitter over that, and the general mediocrity of Coakley's primary opponents, too. (Say what you will about John Kerry, but each of them were mere political insects compared to him.)

Coakley - originally way ahead in the polls - took much of the month of December off from stumping the state and recently suggested that it would be a waste of her time to engage in retail campaigning by shaking hands outside of Fenway Park. She exudes, at times, that prissy elitism that turns Massachusetts voters away from Democrats so regularly.

Worse news is that her Republican opponent, Scott Brown, is a buffoon who voted 96 percent of the time in the Massachusetts State Senate with GOP dogma. If he arrives in the US Senate – as the traditional political math says he will – he will become the forty-first Senator vote to block so many progressive advances that would still be possible if he doesn’t succeed.

And yet, by traditional Massachusetts political math, I repeat: Brown will win Tuesday’s special election.

Now, here is the good news – if you are a pro-health care, pro-immigration reform, pro-people progressive – for Massachusetts, and for the United States.

There is still a cubic centimeter of chance that the script can be broken on Tuesday, and Massachusetts can be exorcized from its seasonal flirtations with the right-wing out of its frustrations with the hack-fest that is the Democratic party there: The Massachusetts special election has been nationalized.

As of the moment I type these words, volunteers for Organizing for America from the other 49 states have made more than 150,000 get-out-the-vote phone calls today alone toward saving Coakley’s rear (and that of the US Senate, and so many policies to come). Organizing for America has added a new ingredient to the stale old Massachusetts political recipe: that of, duh, organizing.

This afternoon, the US President himself ventured into Massachusetts to rally the cavalry that Coakley and the Massachusetts Democratic Party couldn't muster on their own.

Those phone calls have been made by lone citizens making calls from their homes, or via Skype or Vonage on the Internet, and in many cases from phone banks organized by many of the very same grassroots organizers who changed the US political game in 2008.

What they do is simple, and with easy step-by-step instructions available to anyone with a modem.

The small chance that Massachusetts – and so follows the nation – has this year to rip up the traditional Bay State script and short-circuit yet another right-wing rise to power from the faux-progressive state comes from the cavalry that Organizing for America has driven in to organize a better voter turnout from folks who don’t normally vote in off-year elections.

Given Massachusetts’ political history over recent decades, it is a bit of a long shot... But… So was 2008.

Should Coakley lose on Tuesday, well, that’s just business as usual in Massachusetts politics.

But should she emerge triumphant, that (now) come-from-behind victory will be because Organizing for America – at the moment when all seemed lost (and public opinion polls suggested so) - changed the game, and turned out the kind of folks that normally only vote in presidential elections, if at all.

The cavalry, in sum, is sitting in front of a computer, in your home or office, reading these words.

That latent cavalry will be in front of your mirror when you awaken on Monday.

Tuesday could signal that the cavalry is here to stay, to keep changing the game of corroded and corrupted politics with community organizing techniques.

But that will be decided on Monday, depending, one at a time, on whether the cavalry answers the game-changing call once again.

Are you part of that cavalry?

If so, use the comments section to tell us of your ride, and of what you saw or heard while galloping...



Saddle up the Palomino

Thanks, Al.  Calling voters later today to work that cubic centimeter of a chance that MA will, to quote my late Mother, "Wake up and pee! The world's on fire".




What is Plan B?

Hi Al,

Thanks for the sobering jolt. It also doesn't help that the media is driving the narrative assist for the repug candidate. I have never seen such blatant partisan bias. To the MSM none of the repug candidate's despicable record get's scrutiny. At least during the 2008 election cycle they questioned McCain's campaign for the approprirateness of the proto-teabagger racist rants (e.g. shouts of "terrorist", Palin's despicable "real America versus non-real America" and "Obama doesn't see America like you and me do..."

Now the GOP and allies are allowed to spew racist venom without challenge. It's reported that today at the repug candidate's rally supporters were shouting the vilest epithets against the Dem candidate (e.g. "shove a curling iron up her butt...").

Worse of all all the rest of the Democratic congresscritters seem to have gone AWOL, leaving the President to fight this battle all alone. None of them talk about the incredible achievements when they appear on tv. I guess they think they need to insulate themselves from being tarnished should Coakley lose. They are treating the President like some radioactive material. So much for a guy who single handedly campaigned for the victories in 2006 and offered his coattails for the sweet ride in 2008! But this is how they pay him back in his hour of need. Nobody has come out to tell us what the congressional Plan B is if the Mss repug candidate should pull this off. Are they prepare to let a who year's work, and 40-year effort just go down the tubes? (the reconciliation talk is simply too hilarious. If they cannot muster the backbone for a regular order vote, what makes them think they can break it up and vote the qualifying parts under reconciliation?

I am increasingly convinced of a stultifying nihilistic streak that has engulfed the Democratic party.What do people want this president to do in the midst of all this nightmarish crisis. After the election people polled said the president needed to be given time to repair the country. Today 20% of Massacussetts Democrats want to vote with teabaggers for the repug candidate who brazenly thumbs his nose at their values?

But i don't understand the venom of democrats. The polls are funny and all over the place. Ron Brownstein's outfit says 39% say they'd vote for him again but 50% say they'd vote for someone else. He has 87% approval among Democrats, 20% REpubs, today his approval stands at 53% yet majority of Americans are sour and claim the country is on the wrong track, same as in Feb 2009 (These figures come from Meet the press).

What it tells me is that the impact of the negative media environment is deeper than we like to think. To me nothing has changed about President Obama ever since I noticed him during the 2004 Democratic Party convention up till now. I am not surprised by anything he does, how he takes decisions, or the range of possibilities (or non-possibilities) available to him. Those things that he can do without congressional involvement, he does in the most progressive way, the rest are determined by the actions/stupidity of others. so what would the naysayers have him do. What could a president Kucinich under these circumstances?

So I am left to ask whether we have descended into nihilism such that no one can do anything that is good enough to solve our myriad problems. People just want rage and blood and they want it now. And the angry left? I shake my head.

@ Mary

Mary - You've singled out the biggest problem: the media.

I would add "the commercial media."

And in this long distance run, creating what will replace that force will be the from-below narration of our lives and times, something we've been building for years here, long before others saw it coming, and we do have our plans to upturn the game board... soon, I hope... but only when the fruit becomes ripe...

@ Mary

A great comment and very similar to my own thoughts and feelings, but expressed more eloquently than I could have done. This nihilism I fear is one of the greatest threats to progress today. The system is broken and it will require all of us working cooperatively to fix it, yet many people would rather see it destroyed if they don't get their way. If you haven't seen it already, I strongly recommend watching Obama's speech in honor of MLK day where he directly addressed this situation, particularly the childishness on the left: http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/president-obama-dr-king...

Laura, I saw the speech

I saw the speech and cried. The still photographs were even more telling. President Obama looked so alone sitting there in the church in  prayer. Very telling when he confessed that he is NOT always so calm, that "the barbs sting" and the attacks hurt, yet the only thing that keeps him going is his "faith in things not seen." That sentiment is so much aligned with the core of the theologies of the Black Church and Reinhold Niebuhr's views.

My question is wht does the party plan to do about the healthcare bill should things not go our way in Mass.? I hope there is a plan B, else all this work goes down the tubes?

@ Mary

"People just want rage and blood and they want it now."

I think this sums it up. The media wants rage and blood because they think its what sells. The right wants it because its their only chance of winning anything. And now the angry left wants it as a way to unleash all of their pent-up rage from 8 years of Bush.

Obama was never a "rage and blood" candidate. He wants to change the nature of the conversation. I don't know if he's going to be able to do that. His only hope is if enough of us can get over our selfish need to vent our own feelings and get on with the work that is in front of us.

And thanks Al for the primer on MA politics. Coming from MN (home to the late Senator Wellstone and the only one to vote against Reagan's re-election), I know what it mean for a state to not be as predictable as some in the rest of the country might think.

''It was the best of times, ...''


By any of my metrics, the Obama presidency has been stellar. I longed for the best back in January 2009, and braced for the worst. It brought about both: real actionable Hope, lockstep reactionary frenzy.

Things are really looking up in America today, whichever Half you gaze on. Things are really looking bleak in America today, whichever Half you  stare away from. Half-full fate meddling, half-empty thumbs twiddling and all.

The whole is evermore than the sum of its parts from the outside in, evermore torn apart from the broadside down; rich but snaky counterpoint woven into the very fabric of American citizenry.

Lincoln raised Faith a 'Bach' and a half, I'd say. Poker guy from Chicago called to see: a braided straight with a Handful; good enough for Abe, good enough for me!

Simply put, Massachusetts is 'payback' and 'run for cover' time. 'Pumas' and pundits, 'tee for two's and 'fund it', 'look for a refund's and 'found it',

why don't we bring that Uppity, yes that one, down a notch or two? 


Out of state coordination by the Coakley campaign

It kind of sucks.  I've offered to come up and activate a personal network of volunteers as well as knock doors tomorrow but they just want me to phone bank from home. Martha Coakley has run a piss-poor campaign, and from what I can see is running solely on name recognition and registration advantage.

Disclaimer: I campaigned heavily for Alan Khazei

@ zizi

There is a good primer here on ways to pass the bill even if Coakley loses. The best option would be for the House to pass the Senate bill as is. Because both houses would have passed an identical bill, it would then go directly to Obama without having to go back through the Senate. Ideally, they would then write an amending bill that includes the compromises worked out during the negotiations. Because this would deal largely with funding/cost issues (such as the excise tax), this could be passed through the Senate via the reconciliation process, which requires only 51 votes (however, reconciliation is NOT well suited to passing the main bill).

I've been phone banking.

It's been interesting- hard to say how its really going because the lists are lists of supporters. Some in MA seem very down about the prospects, but some seem moved to action which is what we need. Our entire NY OFA field staff is there now, and staffers from many other states, so I hear. So that's encouraging.

Most discouraging piece of news - I spoke to someone in the Pioneer Valley who was organizing some phone banks to pass along the names of volunteers, and I asked him if they needed door knockers. He said they had no canvassing program. That's political malpractice in my book. It might work for Republicans, but Democrats need to get our voters out.

We'll see. I'm cautiously hopeful, but worried.


This is the very first time in the past year that I have felt pessimistic about the chances of health care reform.

I wish I could be optimistic about Coakley winning, but most of the polling news has been pretty awful over the past 24 hours (and rain is now predicted, I hear).

I'm sure that Pelosi, Emmanuel et al are furiously thinking of plans B, C and D, on how to deal with the loss of one more Senator - and maybe they can pull off a vote before Brown would get seated - but, boy, the process sure would leave an extremely bad taste in everyone's mouth.

Please be right, Al.

Too clever by half?

A very interesting piece by Lawrence O'Donnell, who knows Senate procedure as well as anyone:


Any thoughts, Field Hands?

Thanks laura

That explanation makes me feel better that all is not totally lost should the worst happen in Mass. The question then is will Nancy Pelosi and the progressive caucus agree to pass the senate bill as is and then feel assured that the compromises worked out recently would be dealt with through an ammendment? Will there be the political will at all to proceed in such an environment, or will Democratic congresscritters all throw up their arms and say "we tried." Will Jane Hamsher and her merry band not pressure the house not to vote for the senate bill?

Some hopeful sign though. I notice Hamsher's accolytes on Dkos have surprisingly turned around and calling for GOTV for Martha Coakley lest the healthcare bill be doomed. I had to do a double take when I saw those diaries. But strange things do happen. Who knows.

Yeah, all is not lost, although the MSM is practically dancing on the "grave of healthcare" in an endless loop of breathless commentary on television today. My mute button is practically worn down to the bottom of my remote control, as I smack that button anytime the Mass race is looped in. I can't stand the MSM and even more so that they've also gotten their disaster porn in Haiti to jerk all over. It is sad to see the lives of suffering people abused so. Anyway that's for another discussion thread.

some news to cheer you

Greg Sargent is reporting now that brown is hiring paid temps to do his get out the vote. This to me says he has no real organization on the ground and whatever enthusiasm is there for him is not yet of the kind that can deliver the election for him in a close election.




All due respect to Lawrence O'Donnell (who I definitely acknowledge as being better schooled in congressional procedures than nearly anyone in the press), but if McConnell's master plan was to let the Democrats pass a health bill strictly on party lines and then campaign on repealing it, then the Republicans need a new Senate leader.

There is absolutely no up side for the Democrats if they don't pass this; as members who voted for the bill in conservative districts will have to explain their vote for a "far-left" bill that was so unpopular that it couldn't even pass congress (this, of course, is complete bullshit, but it will be spun that way and it will be impossible for those members to counter it because they won't see any benefits). Plus, all members will find their base (minorities, younger voters, and liberals in general) demoralized by this loss and will not turnout in enough numbers to defend vulnerable members (since they won't really have anything to rally around).

If the bill dies in this way, then the Republicans will benefit greatly based solely on a really bad gambit on Leader McConnell's part (assuming that was his ultimately plan).

Will be phone banking from Chicago

OFA put out the call and there is phonebanking from a Northside Dem office today and tomorrow.


Saddle up, folks, and get those MA voters on the line!

Biden pondering the filibuster?

Wonkette and Politico are floating the idea Joe Biden might act.

Joe Biden To Eat The Filibuster

Hilarious constitutional technicality that we sometimes forget: Joe “Fuck Yeah” Biden is literally President of the Senate. This means that he can do whatever he wants, to the Senate! And with Democrats possibly POSSIBLY losing a Senate seat in their precious Massachusetts tomorrow, maybe he will just “jaw down” the filibuster: “As long as I have served … I’ve never seen, as my uncle once said, the Constitution stood on its head as they’ve done. This is the first time every single solitary decisions has required 60 senators… No democracy has survived needing a super majority.”

I found it interesting to skim and compare the comments in the Politico and Wonkette stories. Wonkette's followers are, of course liberal but I had not realized how rabidly right wing Politico's followers appear to be.


Calvary keeps charging in...

OFA is up to over 245,000 calls as of this morning (01/18).  If Coakley loses, no on can say we didn't leave it all on the field, so to speak.  This is an emotionally trying moment in our journey with this president, and I haven't seen OFA mobilize and unify this quickly and this intensely all year.  In a way, this is more intense than the call bomb we did to Congress this summer over health care.  And I have to say it is amusing that we are mobilizing this intensely on the heels of your previous post discussing some people in Blogistan criticizing OFA's alleged inability to harness the grassroots spirit of the campaign.  This truly feels like the old days during the campaign in terms of everybody pitching in when called upon.

Now, I am from MA and I agree with your assessment of how "liberal" MA Democrats and voters are in general.  Race relations is poor for a "liberal" state.  So the rational part of my head is not all that surprised that Coakley has found herself in such a close race.  I continue to believe that a lot of the underlying discomfort with the president and his moderate proposals has a racial component to it.  Additionally, Scott Brown has all of the characteristics of a typical MA guy.   Also, I think Coakley's people underestimated the amount of IGM (I got mine) going on with MA voters over health care.

If Coakley loses, I have no idea how health care will turn out, and I'm having serious trouble envisioning how our president governs this year with the loss of the senate seat in MA.  The Republicans are going to be feeling (perhaps rightfully) validated in their obstruct and lie tactics.  So they will only turn up the volume.  The media will also be validated in their role in creating such a controversial and hyper-negative environment.  The Democrats will then do what they always do, and try to out-Republican the Republicans, thus turn off their voters and fail to attract Republican voters who are only interested in the real thing right now.

Anyway, I have committed myself to making as many phone calls as I can bear.  I was never a fan of phonebanking, but I have found a way to actually enjoy it since there are more times than one would expect where you get a very engaged person who provides some positive feedback and a good laugh.

Well, well, well, Hamsher now smells fear?

I knew it was going to come to this. Al you have been right all along about the poutrage class. Now that reality has hit them squarely in the face, they are panicking to support Coakely's election bid. In my earlier comment I indicated that her bloggers on Dkos were frantically rallying support for Coakley, now here is what is posted on the front page of her website firedoglake. A cynical side of me might think she has seen the gloomy writing on the wall is doing this last minute ditch to cover her ass to avoid post-mortem blame should things go against us. Or a charitable reading is that she smelled the fear of every progressive possibility of this administration being shot down. We'll see. Here's the post on her front page:

Just so there’s absolutely no ambiguity, let me get something out of the way: Democrats and progressives and anyone who doesn’t want crazy people running the country should get off their asses tomorrow and vote early and often for Coakley.

“Punishing” the Democratic Party by helping elect a Bush/Cheney Republican is the equivalent of cutting off your head to spite your nose hairs.

Grow the fuck up, please.

Coakley's non-campaign

I can say this from personal experience, both in the primaries and in the current Senate race:


I live in Somerville, would consider myself pretty involved in the local political scene, and have, with no exceptions, never seen so pathetically bungled a campaign as the one Coakley is apparently allowing to spin down to the ground in flames.  She did exactly nothing during the primary. In fact, I used to have philosophical discussions with friends about whether Coakley actually existed, or was in fact a purely virtual phenomenon. There were no yard signs, nobody canvassed, and, in general, the overwhelming impression was that a race for dogcatcher in a sleepy town in the Deep South in the summer heat would have been more dynamic.  To be fair, this was true of all the candidates - only the Capuano campaign went canvassing on the day before the vote itself, and what they did was to drop off leaflets.  Even now, Coakley's campaign is a non-presence, literally. My guess as to why this happened is two-fold:


First, the Democrats here were spoiled by years of crushing wins by Teddy Kennedy. They gave no real thought to what his successor would need, and left it up to the machine/local bosses to figure it out. This, they failed to do, as the Coakley disaster amply illustrates. It should be added that the machine here is not regarded with much goodwill, and has generated some strikingly dubious politicians to occupy positions on Beacon Hill of late.


Second, Coakley herself is not a retail politician, or indeed much of a politician at all. I think she confused the machine's decision to back her over Capuano with the real depth of support she has here in the state, and concluded that a cautious, no mistakes, auto-pilot campaign would be enough. This, in winter, in a special election, when the economy was sour! Truly, there are blind mice with learning disorders in this part of the world that could have come up with better plans! Unfortunately, as we now know, Coakley couldn't even manage to play defense well. The gaffe about Schilling was astounding, as was her announcement that standing out in the cold shaking hands was simply.. not her way.  You might survive one gaffe like that, but she has managed to make several similar ones within a couple of weeks.


Will the cavalry arrive?  On this, I am fairly optimistic. I don't believe some of the recent polls, because their cross-tabs seem unbalanced. They routinely under-state minorities and younger voters, and in some cases their regional sampling seems dubious.  I think too that the gloss has come off Scott Brown of late as voters realized that he was a Republican.  Obama's visit ought to help as well. He drew a huge turnout (some estimates say 15,000) and they turned away a lot of people.  Brown, by contrast probably managed 2,500 at his big rally in Worcester.  FWIW, the few Republicans I know seem to think Coakley will win.  I believe that Coakley is going to pull this through, but it is a lot more than she deserves. My guess as to the margin is 9%, which may seem high, but I think fits with 3 fairly major recent polls, done before Obama and the organizers really got to work.

Been phone banking

Notes from calling:

- Out of the many people I spoke to only one said she was undecided, due to the tone of Coakley's recent ads.

- Everyone else said they were voting for Coakley and seemed to get the importance and seriousness of the situation.

-A few said they were voting reluctantly, again due to the tone of recent ads, but others sounded like they couldn't wait to get to the polling place: "Hell yes, we're voting for Martha!"

-Several people said they were more enthusiastic until things became nasty during the last couple of weeks.

-A couple of people were surprised to get a call from CA.

- Many people said they had been called multiple times.

Man, I hope she pulls this thing.

arlington, VA

we've got an OFA phonebank with 36 vols calling.  a mix of GOTV and virgin lists.  the virgin list people we reach are for the most part nice, the GOTV lists are a bit more vexed by all the calls, but that comes with the territory.  must say, seems like more vols here than we got for deeds in GOTV weekend last november.

phonebanking experiences

My husband made 100 calls yesterday and many of the people he spoke with have had enough. They're oversaturated and at least five told him that'd gotten 15+ calls from Coakley supporters and one told him if he got another he wouldn't vote for her. Jon put all of them on the 'do not call' list and obviously there could have been some exaggeration on their parts. I've been waiting to get a single call from anyone (I'm an independant) and haven't gotten one that was for me vs. 2 for my registered Dem husband. We've gotten about a dozen robocalls this weekend at our house from anti-gay marriage groups, anti-choice groups, a pediatrician against healthcare reform, a citizen for heathcare reform, President Obama, Bill Clinton, Vicki Kennedy and others. It's given me an appreciation for what our neighbors in NH go through every four years ;-).

Coakley didn't do anything all that visible in December after winning the primary whereas Brown did. Signs for Brown have been going up all over the place around us. There is one Coakley sign in the next town over amidst all the Brown ones. Most web sites we go to that have ads have been saturated with Brown ads. I've seen a couple of Coakley ones.

I hate to see someone like Brown take over that seat but, in my opinion, there was a real misreading of peoples' frustrations and anger out there by the Coakley campaign and state party officials. And while plithy remarks aren't meaningful, Brown gained tremendously with his 'it's not the Kennedy's seat, it's not the Democrat's seat, it's the people's seat' remark. Whoever came up with the line read the mood of plenty of people around here dead on and capitalized on it.

I'm probably not sharing anything new here but that's what we're seeing and hearing from our little corner of central Mass.



Keep Calling

Our OFA team has been calling over the weekend and getting a lot of positive response from the lists provided. Some people tonight were starting to say please keep calling they are starting to get deluged with brown calls.

I am from New Hampshire and have developed a very healthy skepticism about the multiple call complaints. 

Even if Brown wins, Pelosi

Even if Brown wins, Pelosi says that health care reform will pass somehow.  C'mon, you don't think they have a Plan B?

Mass Dems have long history of bungling GOTV strength

I enjoyed reading your assessment, Al, for sure. As someone who went to BU and did my fair share (I think) of campaigning for Dems in those years, I'd have to say that the institutional Democratic apparatus has an unbelievable sense of entitlement - that garnering the primary win is enough to win the general. I was part of Kerry's 1996 win, and I think the fact that Kerry initially polled so badly against Weld was enough to energize people into believing that they had to put it all on the road to get him over the line. There was a huge sense of focus and, at times, even desperation that motivated all of us along.

Two years later, in the '98 gubenatorial election, the feeling was no matter what happened, the Dem wasn't going to lose to that doofus, Cellucci and another state attorney general, Scott Harshbarger, went down in flames in the statewide elections.

In addition to the excellent points you make about Massachusetts' political climate, I would add this - no voter likes to feel like they've been taken for granted, and statewide candidates on the Democratic side routinely take their potential supporters for granted.

Video: Senator Kennedy "Healthcare is a right not a privilege".

There is an excellent video at http://democrats.senate.gov/ that highlights the history behind the long struggle to get healthcare reform implemented. I sincerely hope the people of Mass. see this video before going into the voting booth.  After all that Senator Kennedy did for his state and the country, it would be a tragedy to have a teabagger endorsed candidate take his seat.

My message to Massachusetts Marijuana smokers

We all know Coakley sucks. She crusaded against the Massachusetts decrim initiative in 2008, and after it passed with 65% of the vote urged municipal governments to circumvent it with local ordinances. She thenrefused to pursue charges against the District Attorneys who illegally used government resources to campaign against the initiative.

So why do I want you to vote for her?

Simple. Brown in the Senate will be just as bad on the issue, but by sending Coakley to Washinhgton we get her out of the Attorney General's office, while Brown remaining in the State Senate will have little impact.

Well, it would seem that the

Well, it would seem that the cavalry arrived, but too late to save a weak campaign thrown into panic, unable to comprehend how it could have possibly lost and convinced that defeat was inevitable. It's not their fault, it's not Obama's fault, it is the fault of Martha Coakley and the Massachusetts Democratic party for bungling what should have been an easy win. Like the fabled hare, she didn't start running until it was far too late, and the tortoise beat her. And Scott Brown is most certainly going to make as good a Senator for Massachusetts and America as a tortoise makes a sprinter...

When the Cavalry Comes too late

In the westerns I used to watch in the 1950s, the cavalry almost always saved the day (with the somewhat suppressed exception of General Custer.) But as Tennyson wrote about the leaders of another stupid war, even the bravest of cavalry can't beat a stacked deck:

HALF a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


38 friends/family members answered my phone calls from Brooklyn

And most pledged to vote for Martha Coakley.  The big motivation for them was understanding how close the race had become, how their votes might make a difference.

We need a freaking message machine!

After avoiding all news the whole day, I finally mustered the guts to check the post-mortem of the Mass senate race. As usual the predictable cirular firing squad is in full tizzy.

Here's my take on what is happening:

Republicans are running a PERVERSE version of the Obama campaign as it began in 2007 through 2008. Actually immediately after the Nov. 2008 elections, when the media and the blogger left were high-fiveing about the Repugs becoming a rump party, a few things stood out for me. They are running a cynical and perverted version of the Obama campaign and we haven't woken up to it. Instead of fueling the movement with positive energy like we did, they are using fear and racist bigotry. They are fielding candidates that a visually appealing  just like candidate Obama, but instead of actual brain power and uplifting charisma they are counting on sexpower and hate-filled adrenaline (Palin, Brown, Thune), just like the Murdoch media empire motto.

After the 2008 election, the Repug leadership stated that they were going to study Howard Dean's 50 state strategy. Jeff Sessions claimed that they were going to wage a relentless Al Qaeda style insurgency. Frank Luntz opined that they had all the time been looking for a charismatic candidate like Obama but when he appeared on the scene, he turned out to be a Democrat.

All of the post election presentations David Plouffe participated in, including his recent book have simply given the Repugs some campagin tactical gems that they have employed in Scott Brown's stealth campaign. On top of it all they have an unchallenged message armada of 1000 radio stations, Fox News, think tank "analysts" who park permanently on Cspan and every MSM and print media outlet 24/7. Indeed what many thought was internal strife within the REpug party with the rise of the Teabaggers, was pure psy-ops strategy. They divided their ranks in order to simultaneously capture the hearts of the gullible/racist constituency using blatant racist venom and fearmongering, as well as Independents and old-style Republicans through subliminal appeals to their latent prejudices in order to shift the Overton window toward teabagger territory. This tactical sleight of hand meant no cost to the Repugs who with the "at arms-length" marionetting of teabaggers can have their cake and eat it too.

With the armada of media outlets they control and hard core message discipline, in addition to co-opting  the angry left's online bullhorn, it is no surprise that FACTS have become a pathetic casualty to the blatant Republican lying and revionist history spewing (Giuliani, Perino, Matalin, Karen Hughes all telling lies about 9-11 and the shoe bomber without a single challenge from the MSM) that has become the order of the day.

The result? We have been driven out of the public square, and we have complied willy nilly out of disgust with the din of their noise-machine and ceded valuable media real estate. The message amplification that enabled us to win in 2008 is but a whisper now. Our refuge is now Olberman and Maddow, then throw in Jon Stewart and Colbert. That's it. We did not challenge the traditional media and we did not fund OUR own mega media. The online advantage we had has quickly been overwhelmed by the Repug's mastery of said medium ever since McCain's campaign debacle. And the few mega online outlets we had have gone rogue (Dkos, Huffpo, Aravosis, Firedoglake, open Left, The Nation, etc) and become witting or unwitting allies of the rightwing.

Yeah, so a year in and no one trumpets the actual accomplishments of this administration; accomplishments that Bush et al would die for. Instead we have at best, crickets. It makes me wonder whether the poutrage class would behave any differently even if President Obama got congress to enact everythig on the agnry left's wishlist.

The president's sermon at the Vermont Baptist church was very telling when he cited MLK Jr's unwavering belief in claiming any and all victories large and small along the way in the pursuit of the ultimate prize. That is how the civil rights struggle was waged - planting strategic flags of triumph on all victories no matter what. Aside from the psychological boost that tangible and acknowldged victories bring, such claiming of WON territory also have the added effect of demoralizing the adversay. The rightwing knows this hence their glee at all the taunting they do to us.

So we need a message machine and we need it yesterday! The WhiteHouse itsreelf needs to ramp up it's message machine. We are in a war with the vilest cretins imaginable. We have to beat Roger Ailes and the  entire wingnut cabal, else we all pay a hefty price for the ugly end result.

Amen zizi

Obama's Waterloo.  We kill health care and we break him.  Where are the jobs?  He's not keeping us safe.  Socialism.  Birth certificate.  Blah blah blah.

They have the president on the defense every-single-day.  They began cmpaigning for 2010 and 2012 on January 21, 2009.  We are blessed because Coakley's campaign is a wake up call.  We better get it together in the coming months.  I hope White House does for the sake of us citizens.

Description of Mass. Dem. Party Infighting

This dailykos story - here - describes infighting in the Massachussetts Dem. party from the point of view of someone in the lower ranks of the party in Boston.  Apparently people in Boston were pretty resentful that Coakley won the primary, wanting Capuano instead.  I guess Coakley, who was the choice of Western Mass., didn't do anything to smooth any feathers, and hence the Boston machine just sat and sulked, rather than helping much with campaigning.

in agreement with Zizi and ...

As Ann notes above, Ma. Dems were divided going into this campaign as many thought they had fielded the wrong candidate. However, this explains only in part Brown's success.

The Republicans are on a relentless mission to derail progressive reforms and promote their own distorted vision and policies. They project confidence and are constantly on the attack. And nothing helps more than the subservient media.

Meanwhile, for all the talk about helping the middle class, the Democratic party just keeps coddling the banksters, caves in to the insurance and health industry and worst of all fails to stand united in Congress behind progressive bills, which are either watered down to accommodate wingnut claims or abandoned altogether.

Unless Democrats show resolve and rectitude, come autumn many Americans will see them as simply unable to make good on their promises for meaningful change.

The actual writing on the wall

Just saw this from booman tribune:


Really interesting stuff. I haven't finished reading it yet... it's great.

It's All Over But the Shoutin'

Hey Fieldhands...I've been missing you. I've been very, VERY ill the last few weeks.

If I were one of those to joing the "blame game" (which I'm not), here is who I would blame.

1) The Dems in general. Health care, with everything the progressives wanted/needed should have been done last spring BEFORE Teddy died. The Dems are so busy being wimps, they can't get anything done whether a Repub or Dem administration. As Gov Dean said last night: be a Democrat or be a Republican. You can't be both. Stand up for what you believe in. Teddy did.

2) The Mass Dems. I know very little about Mass Dem politics, but I do know that THEY knew since Aug '08 that Teddy was going to die soon. In spite of their stupid "special election" law, they should have prepared for this with a super-strong candidate that could carry Teddy's seat through 2010.

3) Progressives. Hey, want some cheese with that whine? Instead of studying how things really work and giving the President less than a week to get done what THEY wanted, many progressives started complaining on January 21. As important as DADT and DOMA, etc., are, health care was even more important. As someone upthread said about the President in church on Monday--where are his supporters? Giving him as much or more grief than the teabaggers and birthers.

With friends like some of these Dems/Progressives, who needs Repubs?


waterprise2 AKA Pam

Liberal with a Capital L!


Timely words (and no chicken-littlling)

To quote words spoken exactly a year ago:

"our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."


You forgot the candidate herself - Martha Coakley - who was so bad that I'm still trying to figure out how she ended up as the candidate. I live in MA and no one I speak with is disappointed she lost, just that Brown won.

Should be an interesting few months as we watch how the Dems in the House and the Senate react. Early signs have not been encouraging.

OFA Conference Call

Just got off the phone with volunteers from around the country.  They had 4 different times for calls, due to demand.

Quick stats:  From Saturday until the polls closed Tuesday,

2.3 million calls from around the US to MA

"These numbers rival the GOTV in the last four days of the 2008 campaign," noted Mitch Stewart, OFA Director.

I wanted to get this posted.  More after I decipher my notes.



After all the hand wringing that has taken place all over the left blogosphere over the last 24 hours on the Mass. senate race, it's time to sort through the debris. What are our options?

Democrats, weakening our OWN HAND through circular firing squads gets us nowhere. It is all about NARRATIVE. We have to control our own narrative and bring the American people into our fold just as we did during the last election cycle. Democrats need to realize that when all is said and done it is better to HAVE governing POWER than to be on the sidelines. The opposition knows this hence their tactic of using fair and foul means to claw their way back to power. We have an agenda that we can be proud of, helping lift up our fellow Americans. Nothing to apologize for. But we have to keep our EYES ON THE PRIZE FOLKS!

I stated here yesterday that the Repugs were running a perverse form of the Obama campaign, and Lo and behold, there's already talk about catapulting the newly minted senator from Mass. to presidential hopeful status because his path is supposed to be similar to President Obama's - young, telegenic, state senator, camera-ready family, lawyer, articulate (i.e. not Sarah Palin who incidentally appears to be the bigger loser from yesterday having had her perch knocked off). Oh and they say he doesn't have a "birth certificate" problem (no one will even ask for it, you see...). Dontcha know it!! The wingnut media armada of radio and cable tv stations will prop up and coddle their new star. And the MSM will ride tehse speculations for all their worth. We need to anticipate that and plot to neuter that.

We need to get in smart combat mode, and park our strongest voices in whatever media outlet there is 24/7 to call the Republican bluff and push forth our story. We have to trumpet our narrative and accomplishments unabashedly. We cannot allow the wingnuts to continue their Orwellian erasure from public memory of their own role in our current economic debacle.

If we on the outside stand as an enlightened bulwark then the White House and lily-livered Democratic Congress will feel emboldened to act on our behalf. We can quibble and point fingers at our leaders for abandonning our cherished wants, but right now they are what we HAVE to work with. Ain't no use being without power to do squat.

Wanted to share this...

Gotta run...but I wanted to post this comment and my reply on the OFA blog this morning.


Back in the saddle  |  Report to Admin

By Kim from Corning 27 minutes ago (Updated 27 minutes ago)
I believe 2010 is going to be a roller coaster year as elections loom. I myself hope to get involved in more than just GOTV activites. I hope somehow that there will be a real effort to unite Americans together and find commonalities rather than differences in our collective selves. I'm so so tired of hearing words like "libs", "teabaggers", "righties", "rednecks", "gay", "black", "elites", "geeks", "freaks".

The media is already ginning up a culture war between Americans. I hope this next election will speak louder than the squawks and shrieks of the crazies.

We are Americans. We are great. The corporations and the media do not represent us...we do.
Re: Back in the saddle  |  Report to Admin
By Lorie aka MO Mama Citizen 2 minutes ago (Updated 2 minutes ago)
"The media is already ginning up a culture war between Americans. I hope this next election will speak louder than the squawks and shrieks of the crazies.

We are Americans. We are great. The corporations and the media do not represent us...we do."

Kim, you read my mind! Times are tough, but so are we. That effort to 'unite Americans...find commonalities rather than differences' begins with each of US. I am involved with the community organizing (being a good neighbor and working with OFA) right here, right now. Let OFA know what you think. The community that came together and gave it everything they had in MA is still here. Working together towards a more perfect union, with our President, is what I can do for my country.

I would encourage all who are hurting, from job loss, insurance loss or no chance of getting it, whatever the pain may be, to look to each other, for support, here on the blog, or in your own town. I stick with our President, as a part of OFA because he told us this would be challenging. I signed up to be an active citizen, not a consumer, when I said "Yes We Can", to President Obama, and my fellow citizens.

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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