Friday, 15 January 2010


Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama is shocked - shocked - that financial institutions which gave out huge bonuses for years and years are giving out huge bonuses this year. 

He demands that they give back the TARP money they were handed last year (not a great strategy, since a lot of that money already was given back).  And there is also talk of a punitive 50% tax on the bonuses -- which would probably be ruled a bill of attainder, thus unconstitutional. 

But it does make for great theater and wonderful sound bites for our media.

Gerald Warner, of London's Daily Telegraph, gives us his veddy British take on this.  The bold print is mine:

Barack Obama: 'We want our money back.' And who gave it away to the banks, Mr President?

By Gerald Warner

 We want our money back, Barack Obama has told US banks, announcing a levy on large financial institutions to help repay the notorious bailout he imposed last year. Oh, do we? And who gave away the taxpayers money in the first place, Mr President?

This pretended identification with Joe on Main Street is a favourite ploy of dodgy politicos with their backs to the wall Wall Street, in this case, which is imminently expected to announce bonuses beyond the dreams of avarice, hence Obamas nervous anxiety to be seen to be doing something. If Obama wants to see the taxpayers money repaid, that will take some doing, since the Tarp bailout cost America $700bn.

The new tax on top banks is expected to raise $90bn over 10 years. So that is around $9bn a year. But Wall Street is poised to dole out $47bn in bonuses this year alone. If this is assumed to be a lean year, at a very conservative estimate bank bonuses are going to total $500bn over the 10 years that the Obama tax painfully claws back just $90bn for Joe Public. No wonder a financial strategist in New York has already described it as petty theft from bank balance sheets.

That is not very nice language. Since the purpose of this cosmetic exercise is to save the face of a President with minimal physiognomy still showing through the egg splattered over his features from just about every policy he has touched, we need a more user-friendly terminology. How about Small change you can believe in?

This is what we get when we elect a Chicago machine politician, with no qualifications for the Presidency, and hand him a lopsided congressional majority to back him up.  It isn't pretty.

The 2010 elections cannot come fast enough.  And that goes double for 2012.


Ken Berwitz

Three really good rules of thumb for politicians:

-You don't win an election in Israel by attacking Jews.

-You don't win an election in Afghanistan by attacking Muslims.

-You don't win an election in Massachusetts by attacking Catholics.

There is a major difference between these three rules of thumb:  It is that no one tries to win by attacking Jews in Israel or Muslims in Afghanistan -- but, incredibly, Martha Coakley is trying to win an election in Massachusetts by attacking Catholics.

No I am not drinking or on drugs.  This is really, really real. 

Read the following transcripted excerpt from Coakley's interview with Ken Pittman:

Martha Coakley on the Ken Pittman Show

By Ken Pittman

Published Yesterday

Ken Pittman is the afternoon voice for Greater New Bedford's WBSM 1420.

Martha Coakley on the Ken Pittman Show January 14, 2010

"You can have religous freedom but you shouldn't work in an emergency room." - Martha Coakley

Ken Pittman: Right, if you are a Catholic, and believe what the Pope teaches that any form of birth control is a sin. ah you don't want to do that.

Martha Coakley: No we have a seperation of church and state Ken, lets be clear.


Ken Pittman: In the emergency room you still have your religious freedom.


Martha Coakley: (......uh, The law says that people are allowed to have that. You can have religious freedom but you probably shouldn't work in the emergency room.

Got that?  Martha Coakley says that if you are a practicing Catholic, you shouldn't be welcome to work in a hospital emergency room. 

What does she think a Catholic doctor would do to patients in an emergency room?  Do people go to emergency rooms for abortions - other than because their lives are at risk (which is far different than elective abortion)?  to get birth control pills?

About now, you should be asking if Coakley was drinking or on drugs.

Do you have any idea how many Catholic voters Martha Coakley lost with that incredibly stupid comment?

Do you have any idea how many DEMOCRATIC Catholic voters Martha Coakley lost with that incredibly stupid comment?

We have talked about a number of polls in here over the past week or so.  But whatever they say, and wherever Ms. Coakley is, you can subtract a bunch of points from her vote total because of this remark.

What a tone-deaf dufus she is.  And what a boon her comment will be to Scott Brown.



 It has been suggested to me that I put Ms. Coakley's comments in context.  Ok.

Her suggestion that Catholics should not work in emergency rooms was based on the possibility that a rape victim could come in needing "emergency contraception".

And what is "emergency contraception"?  Some life-saving procedure that a helpless victim could be denied?  Nope.

It is the so-called "day-after pill" that would abort a fetus after sexual intercourse.  For women 17 and over it is available over the counter, like Tums or vitamin pills.  For under-17's, it is a prescription drug that the patient's doctor could ok and someone at the hospital could give them - even (gasp) a practicing Catholic - in no time flat.  Or, horror of horrors, it could be obtained the next day at the local pharmacy.

In other words, the premise of Ms. Coakley's statement that practicing Catholics should probably be banned from emergency rooms is as full of excrement as the statement itself.


Ken Berwitz

You certainly didn't think Barack Obama and his administration were through passing out bribes (with OUR MONEY, not theirs), did you?

From Carl Campanile, writing for the New York Post.  Please pay special attention to the part I've put in bold print:

Unions will dodge O's health tax


Last Updated: 9:38 AM, January 15, 2010

Posted: 2:49 AM, January 15, 2010

Big Labor got some big love from President Obama and congressional Democrats yesterday after they agreed to exempt union workers from the whopping Cadillac tax on high-cost health-care plans until 2018.

The sweetheart deal, hammered out behind closed doors, will save union employees at least $60 billion over the years involved, while others won't be as lucky -- they'll have to cough up almost $90 billion.

The 40 percent excise tax on what have come to be called "Cadillac" health-care plans would exempt collective-bargaining contracts covering government employees and other union members until Jan. 1, 2018.

In another major concession to labor, the value of dental and vision plans would be exempt from the tax even after the deal expires in eight years, negotiators said.

Under the plan to help fund health-care reform, the tax would kick in for plans valued at $8,900 or more for individuals and $24,000 or more for families.

That's slightly higher than the $8,500 and $23,000 thresholds in the bill passed by the Senate last month.

The threshold will be even higher for certain plans with many older workers and women -- a move to benefit unions with a high proportion of female membership, sources said.

New York labor leaders -- who had initially campaigned against the Cadillac tax, favoring instead a surcharge on the wealthy -- said they are thrilled.

"We can live with it. We have an agreement that nothing will be taxed until 2018," crowed George Boncoraglio, regional president of the Civil Service Employees Association.

Officials said the deal was thrashed out over more than 15 hours of negotiating at the White House that ended after midnight Wednesday.

Powerful unions were well-represented around the bargaining table.

Participants included AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Andy Stern, head of Service Employees International Union; Anna Burger, head of Change to Win; and the leaders of unions representing teachers, government workers, food and commercial workers, and electricians.

Stern has been among the most frequent visitors to the White House over the last year, showing up more than 20 times, according to logs.

Originally, the Cadillac tax included in the Senate bill was estimated to raise $149 billion through 2019.

But Trumka said the exemption would reduce that amount by $60 billion -- money that negotiators will now have to find elsewhere, or reduce the coverage in the legislation.

Boncoraglio said CSEA leaders were meeting in Albany -- preparing to wage a major offensive against the tax -- when their Washington lobbyist called and briefed them on the changes.

Obama backs the Cadillac excise tax, citing economists who say it would drive down costs by encouraging insurance companies to offer employers and workers a chance to buy lower-cost health plans to avoid the levy.

Funny happened in time for the Post to write about it (and editorialize about it too).  But somehow there wasn't enough time at the Today show to find its way in as a major story.

But, heck, what have we got to complain about?  It's only 60 billion dollars.  And what's 60 billion, or 600 billion or a billion trillion, if you don't have to actually come up with it, but just have to spend it?

And all this for health care legislation that the country is telling us - no, screaming at us - that it does not want.

The 2010 elections cannot come fast enough.  And that goes double for 2012.


Ken Berwitz

This latest email is signed by the corrupt, disgraced Chris Dodd, who was so far behind in the polls that he declined to run for re-election:

Dear (NAME),

Health care was the cause of my friend Ted Kennedy's life. So it sickens me that the Republican running to take Ted's place is vowing to be the 41st vote to kill health care reform.

We can't - we won't - let that happen, but we're quickly running out of time. It's now only 4 days until the Massachusetts special election. Martha Coakley will continue Ted's vision, but first, she needs our help right now.

Click here to donate $5 or more to the DSCC. Martha needs our help to fight back against every attack and get every Democrat to the polls. Each dollar will make a difference on Tuesday!

Ted was my best friend in the Senate. And best friends always fight for each other. So when I saw that Martha was being attacked by tea partiers and right-wing radicals - they raised over $1 million in one day - I knew I needed to do everything I could to help.

This seat represents more than Ted's progressive legacy. This seat is the tipping point between a Senate that can pass President Obama's agenda, and one frozen into inaction by Republican obstruction. Scott Brown is the face of that obstruction, and that's why we must help Martha.

Click here to donate $5 or more to the DSCC. Martha needs our help to fight back against every attack and get every Democrat to the polls. Each dollar will make a difference on Tuesday!

It's still sometimes hard to believe he's not here - we worked together for almost 30 years. I can think of no better way to honor his service than to make sure Martha takes his place and provides the 60th vote for health care reform. We owe it to Ted to make it happen.


Chris Dodd

The good news is that this latest effort does not call Scott Brown a "tea-bagger" (I wonder if they got such negative feedback on use of that vile term that they decided to drop it -- we'll know by seeing if it is in future emails).

The bad news is that Dodd is invoking the ghost of Ted Kennedy.  Shameless.

How desperate are they now?  Plenty.


Ken Berwitz

As the Massachusetts senate campaign wends its way toward completion, I thought it would be important to again remind readers of just what depths Marcia Coakley sank to in her Javert-like vendetta against Gerald Amirault.

Dorothy Rabinowitz, the Wall Street Journal's Pulitzer prize winning journalist, wrote the following article.  It is a little longer than what I usually post, but I think you should read every word of it.  

Martha Coakley's Convictions

The role played by the U.S. Senate candidate in a notorious sex case raises questions about her judgment.


The story of the Amiraults of Massachusetts, and of the prosecution that had turned the lives of this thriving American family to dust, was well known to the world by the year 2001. It was well known, especially, to District Attorney Martha Coakley, who had by then arrived to take a final, conspicuous, role in a case so notorious as to assure that the Amiraults' name would be known around the globe.

The Amiraults were a busy, confident trio, grateful in the way of people who have found success after a life of hardship. Violet had reared her son Gerald and daughter Cheryl with help from welfare, and then set out to educate herself. The result was the triumph of her lifethe Fells Acres schoolwhose every detail Violet scrutinized relentlessly. Not for nothing was the pre-school deemed by far the best in the area, with a long waiting list for admission.

All of it would end in 1984, with accusations of sexual assault and an ever-growing list of parents signing their children on to the case. Newspaper and television reports blared a sensational story about a female school principal, in her 60s, who had daily terrorized and sexually assaulted the pupils in her care, using sharp objects as her weapon. So too had Violet's daughter Cheryl, a 28-year old teacher at the school.

But from the beginning, prosecutors cast Gerald as chief predatorhis gender qualifying him, in their view, as the best choice for the role. It was that role, the man in the family, that would determine his sentence, his treatment, and, to the end, his prosecution-inspired image as a pervert too dangerous to go free.

The accusations against the Amiraults might well rank as the most astounding ever to be credited in an American courtroom, but for the fact that roughly the same charges were brought by eager prosecutors chasing a similar headlinemaking cases all across the country in the 1980s. Those which the Amiraults' prosecutors brought had nevertheless, unforgettable features: so much testimony, so madly preposterous, and so solemnly put forth by the state. The testimony had been extracted from children, cajoled and led by tireless interrogators.

Gerald, it was alleged, had plunged a wide-blade butcher knife into the rectum of a 4-year-old boy, which he then had trouble removing. When a teacher in the school saw him in action with the knife, she asked him what he was doing, and then told him not to do it again, a child said. On this testimony, Gerald was convicted of a rape which had, miraculously, left no mark or other injury. Violet had tied a boy to a tree in front of the school one bright afternoon, in full view of everyone, and had assaulted him anally with a stick, and then with a magic wand." She would be convicted of these charges. Cheryl had cut the leg off a squirrel.

Other than such testimony, the prosecutors had no shred of physical or other proof that could remotely pass as evidence of abuse. But they did have the power of their challenge to jurors: Convict the Amiraults to make sure the battle against child abuse went forward. Convict, so as not to reject the children who had bravely come forward with charges.

Gerald was sent to prison for 30 to 40 years, his mother and sister sentenced to eight to 20 years. The prosecutors celebrated what they called, at the time "a model, multidisciplinary prosecution." Gerald's wife, Patricia, and their three childrenthe family unfailingly devoted to himwent on with their lives. They spoke to him nightly and cherished such hope as they could find, that he would be restored to them.

Hope arrived in 1995, when Judge Robert Barton ordered a new trial for the women. Violet, now 72, and Cheryl had been imprisoned eight years. This toughest of judges, appalled as he came to know the facts of the case, ordered the women released at once. Judge Bartonknown as Black Bart for the long sentences he gave criminalsdid not thereafter trouble to conceal his contempt for the prosecutors. They would, he warned, do all in their power to hold on to Gerald, a prediction to prove altogether accurate.

No less outraged, Superior Court Judge Isaac Borenstein presided over a widely publicized hearings into the case resulting in findings that all the children's testimony was tainted. He said that "Every trick in the book had been used to get the children to say what the investigators wanted." The Massachusetts Lawyers Weeklywhich had never in its 27 year history taken an editorial position on a casepublished a scathing one directed at the prosecutors "who seemed unwilling to admit they might have sent innocent people to jail for crimes that had never occurred."

It was clear, when Martha Coakley took over as the new Middlesex County district attorney in 1999, that public opinion was running sharply against the prosecutors in the case. Violet Amirault was now gone. Ill and penniless after her release, she had been hounded to the end by prosecutors who succeeded in getting the Supreme Judicial Court to void the women's reversals of conviction. She lay waiting all the last days of her life, suitcase packed, for the expected court order to send her back to prison. Violet would die of cancer before any order came in September 1997.

That left Cheryl alone, facing rearrest. In the face of the increasing furor surrounding the case, Ms. Coakley agreed to revise and revoke her sentence to time servedbut certain things had to be clear, she told the press. Cheryl's case, and that of Gerald, she explained, had nothing to do with one anothera startling proposition given the horrific abuse charges, identical in nature, of which all three of the Amiraults had been convicted.

No matter: When women were involved in such cases, the district attorney explained, it was usually because of the presence of "a primary male offender." According to Ms. Coakley's scenario, it was Gerald who had dragged his mother and sister along. Every statement she made now about Gerald reflected the same view, and the determination that he never go free. No one better exemplified the mindset and will of the prosecutors who originally had brought this case.

Before agreeing to revise Cheryl's sentence to time served, Ms. Coakley asked the Amiraults' attorney, James Sultan, to pledgein exchangethat he would stop representing Gerald and undertake no further legal action on his behalf. She had evidently concluded that with Sultan goneSultan, whose mastery of the case was completeany further effort by Gerald to win freedom would be doomed. Mr. Sultan, of course, refused.

In 2000, the Massachusetts Governor's Board of Pardons and Paroles met to consider a commutation of Gerald's sentence. After nine months of investigation, the board, reputed to be the toughest in the country, voted 5-0, with one abstention, to commute his sentence. Still more newsworthy was an added statement, signed by a majority of the board, which pointed to the lack of evidence against the Amiraults, and the "extraordinary if not bizarre allegations" on which they had been convicted.

Editorials in every major and minor paper in the state applauded the Board's findings. District Attorney Coakley was not idle either, and quickly set about organizing the parents and children in the case, bringing them to meetings with Acting Gov. Jane Swift, to persuade her to reject the board's ruling. Ms. Coakley also worked the press, setting up a special interview so that the now adult accusers could tell reporters, once more, of the tortures they had suffered at the hands of the Amiraults, and of their panic at the prospect of Gerald going free.

On Feb. 20, 2002, six months after the Board of Pardons issued its findings, the governor denied Gerald's commutation.

Gerald Amirault spent nearly two years more in prison before being granted parole in 2004. He would be released, with conditions not quite approximating that of a free man. He was declared a level three sex offenderamong the consequences of his refusal, like that of his mother and sister, to "take responsibility" by confessing his crimes. He is required to wear, at all times, an electronic tracking device; to report, in a notebook, each time he leaves the house and returns; to obey a curfew confining him to his home between 11:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. He may not travel at all through certain areas (presumably those where his alleged victims live). He can, under these circumstances, find no regular employment.

The Amirault family is nonetheless grateful that they are together again.

Attorney General Martha Coakleywho had proven so dedicated a representative of the system that had brought the Amirault family to ruin, and who had fought so relentlessly to preserve their casehas recently expressed her view of this episode. Questioned about the Amiraults in the course of her current race for the U.S. Senate, she told reporters of her firm belief that the evidence against the Amiraults was "formidable" and that she was entirely convinced "those children were abused at day care center by the three defendants."

What does this say about her candidacy? (Ms. Coakley declined to be interviewed.) If the current attorney general of Massachusetts actually believes, as no serious citizen does, the preposterous charges that caused the Amiraults to be thrown into prisonthe butcher knife rape with no blood, the public tree-tying episode, the mutilated squirrel and the restthat is powerful testimony to the mind and capacities of this aspirant to a Senate seat. It is little short of wonderful to hear now of Ms. Coakley's concern for the rights of terror suspects at Guantanamoher urgent call for the protection of the right to the presumption of innocence.

If the sound of ghostly laughter is heard in Massachusetts these days as this campaign rolls on, with Martha Coakley self-portrayed as the guardian of justice and civil liberties, there is good reason.

Would you want this kind of human being to represent you in the senate?  In any capacity at all?

That is Martha Coakley.  That is what she is all about.

I thought this would be a good time to remind the readers of this blog.

Please tell your friends - especially if they live in Massachusetts.


Ken Berwitz

Many people are racists.  Many people are disgraceful.

But when have we ever had this intense a combination of those two ugly attributes embodied in the chief law enforcement officer of the United States?

Here is today's editorial in the Washington Times, which lays this out in clear, easy-to-understand, and hard-to-argue-with terms:

EDITORIAL: Special protection for Black Panthers


Racial cowardice, thy name is Eric Holder. For those who don't remember, Attorney General H. Holder Jr. had the gall last February to claim that Americans form "a nation of cowards" with regard to racial issues. Saying that this nation must examine its "racial soul" and that "we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race," Mr. Holder explicitly vowed to "have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us." In that same context, he also vowed repeatedly last year to "restore" the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to a supposedly renewed focus on protecting minority rights.

Yet Mr. Holder was far from explicit about exactly what he meant. Judging from the Civil Rights Division's actions - and now from a highly revealing speech by a newly exiled member of the division - it appears that the civil rights of blacks and Latinos will be protected but those of whites and Asians are treated as irrelevant. Far from having a "frank conversation" about that highly problematic change in policy, Mr. Holder's Justice Department instead is hiding the change behind bureaucratic smokescreens, spurious claims of legal "privileges" and outright gag orders.

Mr. Holder knows that his sea change in law enforcement would be highly unpopular if discussed openly - and would be subject to serious legal challenge if openly tested in a court of law. Hence his fear, his cowardice, on the issue.

The smoking gun is the department's refusal to fully sanction members of the New Black Panther Party who were charged with voter intimidation for brandishing a nightstick and using threatening racial language at a polling place during the 2008 presidential election. In this case, Mr. Holder appeared to be undermining equal justice under the law by refusing to protect the civil rights of white voters. Now comes one of the key attorneys in that case to confirm that analysis.

The attorney in question, Christopher Coates, was transferred suddenly to South Carolina after the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights tried to subpoena his testimony with regard to the Black Panther case, which Mr. Coates helped oversee. Mr. Coates is known to have objected to the Obama-Holder team's decision to drop three of the four charges and play softball on the fourth.

Mr. Coates ought to have great credibility because nobody can accuse him of being a conservative ideologue. A former American Civil Liberties Union attorney who has won major awards from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Georgia Environmental Organization and the Justice Department itself, Mr. Coates has made a career of advocating for the rights of black Americans. Yet when he tried to do the same for white voters (and some black ones, too) intimidated by the weapon-wielding Black Panthers, he was hounded, ordered to ignore a subpoena and ultimately exiled.

As reported by the Heritage Foundation's Hans A. von Spakovsky, writing at National Review Online, here's a close paraphrase of what Mr. Coates said to his colleagues at his going-away party:

"A plain reading of the statutory language of the Voting Rights Act indicates that it is aimed at protecting all American voters from racial discrimination and voter intimidation and is not limited to protecting only racial-minority or language-minority voters. ... [Indeed,] the race-neutral enforcement of the Voting Rights Act is imperative to the holding of racially fair elections. ... For the Department of Justice to enforce the Voting Rights Act only to protect members of certain minority groups breaches the fundamental guarantee of equal protection, and could substantially erode public support for the Voting Rights Act itself. ..."

Yet, Mr. Coates noted elsewhere in his remarks, there are those - obviously at the Justice Department itself - who have argued that the department should take into account "disparities between the socioeconomic levels of black and white residents" and "who want to continue to enforce the Voting Rights Act in a racially biased fashion and to turn a blind eye whenever incidents arise that indicate that minority persons have acted improperly in voting matters."

That's exactly what happened in the Black Panther case, quite obviously by now with Mr. Holder's acquiescence. It also is what happened when the Obama-Holder team dropped a case against the state of Missouri for not clearing its voting lists of people who had died. It is what happened when the new administration refused to let the majority-black town of Kinston, N.C., by its own choice, hold nonpartisan municipal elections - with the Justice Department deciding that Kinston's blacks apparently were too stupid to know for whom to vote if the Democratic Party label weren't on the ballot.

The Holder Justice Department likewise argued mostly in favor of the town of New Haven, Conn., when it denied promotions to white firefighters who had earned them. Its new Civil Rights Division chief, Thomas Perez, made a point in his inaugural remarks of saying that the department's focus would be on protecting traditional minorities along with Muslim- and Arab-Americans, abortion doctors and "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals." The rights of others, though, got short shrift.

If that is indeed to be his department's new policy - civil rights protection for me but not for thee - Mr. Holder should be willing to say so openly rather than refusing to let his department answer inquiries - from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and prominent congressmen - on the Black Panther case or on broader discrimination issues.

Openness to such inquiries, and to broader public scrutiny, might take courage. Unfortunately, courage is a character trait in short supply in Mr. Holder's breast.

This man is a racist.  He is an affront to fairness.  He is a detriment to law enforcement.  In short, he is a national disgrace.

eric holder should summarily be fired.  But in an Obama administration that will not happen.....

.....which makes President Obama a disgrace as well.


Ken Berwitz

First he wasn't going.  Now he is.

Reports are that President Obama will go to Massachusetts this weekend to campaign for Martha Coakley.

Two observations:

1) Mr. Obama will be skewered by a good many people - and not just his detractors - for finding time to campaign instead of paying attention to Haiti, Afghanistan, etc.  I don't know if the criticism will be entirely fair, but it most certainly will be forthcoming;

2) He is taking a huge personal risk; 

...If Coakley wins by double digits, Obama is back in the saddle as lord high poobah of the Democratic party, a man who can save even as lousy a campaigner as Martha Coakley... 

...If she wins by single digits, he will claim to be the difference between that win and a loss.  Nervous Democratic candidates might or might not buy the claim (how can you not win big as a Democrat in Massachusetts?)..

...If she loses, Obama's coattails will be seen as nonexistent, and at least some Democrats will abandon his agenda on the grounds that if the people don't want it (health care is the classic example) President Obama's personal charisma won't rescue them in November.

Obviously I don't know what the outcome of an Obama campaign appearance will be.  But if I were betting, I'd be betting that it will not help Ms. Coakley very much, if at all. 

-The people committed to Democrats are not going to be impacted (i.e. they would have voted for Coakley anyway). 

-The people who are against her, whether Republicans, or Reagan Democrats, or independents, or people who agree on health care but realize they already have it in Massachusetts so this will cause them to pay twice, or Catholics outraged by her incredibly dumb statement that they should not work in emergency rooms, won't be moved by President Obama telling them to vote for her.

-The only possibility I can see for Coakley to gain from an Obama appearance is that he might be able to bump up turnout among supporters.  Of course his presence might energize people who are against Mr. Obama too -- but the net result would probably be a gain for Democrats, since there are three times as many of them as Republicans in Massachusetts.

So much for the mental, excuse me, poor choice of words.  Who do I think I am?  Scott Ritter? (On the other hand - and I do mean hand -  he doesn't appear to be satisfied with the mental version, does he?)


Zeke ... .... "The One" could well bring out hordes of otherwise disinterested citizens. ... ... This is truly a toss-up, with all these conflicting currents. .. .... .... Officials in MA will ensure that race, religion, sexual orientation or national origin will not be a factor in allowing residents of local cemeteries to vote. (01/15/10)



Ken Berwitz

According to recent polling, there is a 15% lead in the Massachusetts race for the U.S. Senate. 

But wait:  Who has the lead?

A week ago the Boston Globe - which supports Martha Coakley - published a poll that had Ms. Coakley ahead of Republican Scott Brown by 15%:  50% to 35%.  When it came out, I blogged my skepticism based on the fact that a) only 15% of the respondents characterized themselves as independents (which is a fraction of how many independents are in just about every other poll), and those independents broke evenly for Coakley and Brown (despite the fact that other polls show Brown significantly ahead among indpependents, and  independents were far more supportive of the Republican in Virginia and New Jersey last November).

But now there is a new poll, also with a 15% disparity.  And it is not in favor of Ms. Coakley. 

From Pajamas media, the (rightward) venue that commissioned the poll:

January 14th, 2010 11:30 pm

Massachusetts shocker: Brown Up 15% in Pajamas Media/CrossTarget Poll

A new poll taken Thursday evening for Pajamas Media by CrossTarget an Alexandria VA survey research firm shows Scott Brown, a Republican, leading Martha Coakley, a Democrat, by 15.4% in Tuesdays special election for the open Massachusetts US Senate seat. The poll of 946 likely voters was conducted by telephone using interactive voice technology (IVR) and has a margin of error of +/- 3.19%.

This is the first poll to show Brown surging to such an extent. A poll from the Suffolk University Political Research Center published Thursday morning by the Boston Herald, but taken earlier had Brown moving ahead by 4%.

The special election is to fill the seat held by the recently deceased Edward Kennedy. Kennedy, a Democrat, served in the US Senate for 46 years. A Brown victory could stall legislation supported by the Obama administration, including health care.

A few observations about the sampling:

-This poll was conducted by a research company called CrossTarget.  I had never heard of CrossTarget before, so I googled it and it appears to be a Republican-based outfit -- which obviously puts the entire study into doubt.

-The gender composition is 43% male and 57% female.  That should work in favor of Ms. Coakley - thus it is possible that with a more correct gender distribution Mr. Brown would be winning by even more than the 15%

-37% of all respondents say they are Democrats, 20% say they are Republicans and 43% say they are "something else", which usually means independents.  That, it seems to me, undersamples Democrats (which, according to the 2004 data - the latest I can find - have about a 3 to 1 edge over Republicans in Massachusetts), and oversamples independents (who, again, are most likely to go Brown instead of Coakley). 

Taking these factors into account, and ignoring the elephant (literally) in the room - i.e. that it was done by a Republican outfit - the data probably wind up showing that the race is a lot closer than 15% - but that Brown is still ahead.

And then there is the issue of turnout.  People on both sides of the aisle seem to think Republicans are more motivated to get out and vote in this election than Democrats.  If so, tack on a few more points for Brown. 

This is going to be some election.

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