Falchuk crows, but only a little, about the election

Behold! - promoted by Bob_Neer

Evan FalchukAlthough the polls disagreed, Evan Falchuk was spot on when he spoke with Left Ahead in September. He stated firmly that he and running mate Angus Jennings would get 3% or more as Gov./lG candidates this month. They got 3.3%

He came on again to talk about what that 3% threshold means — recognition of his United Independent Party by MA, a big increase in how much they can raise from each donor, and what the next steps are to build on the party status.

UIP Platofrm: The detailed and comprehensive party platform is on its site here.

The instant pundit cliché for Falchuk’s recent run is that he won by losing. That is, as he told us two months ago, it would be a real long shot for him to win the top office, but he was positive of the 3%. That cliché seems to assume the UIP iis one and done, much like the pale and frail Green-Rainbow Party.

He and I got down into some gears today, aspects I haven’t heard in other interviews with him. Well, neither of us is shy or tricksy, as Gollum might say. Click the player below to listen in to hear about the likes of:

  • Where did this elaborate platform come from? (A big part of the answer is that a group of 56 “concerned citizens” agreed on the content and specifics.)
  • If front-man Falchuk disappears what happens? (He alleges they are set up for that and have a deep bench of involved members.)
  • Can and will Falchuk keep pouring in personal money to keep the UIP afloat? (No. They’ll refuse superPAC money, but with the new fund-raising rules as an official party, they expect to get plenty to survive.)
  • Can they enroll over 40,000 voters in the UIP to keep the party alive? (That’s a big push already underway now and they fully expect to do that so they don’t have to worry about percentages in future elections.)
  • Can they get candidates to run? (They already have offers from over 20 and are just beginning to recruit. So, yes.)
  • What offices will the UIP be able to and seek to win going forward? (Until the next gubernatorial race, they look to run for legislative offices.)
  • Do Falchuk and Jennings feel like spoilers, Nadar-ish? (No data don’t support that.)

Listen in as Falchuk describes the UIP plans. He also dishes on the cynicism of Dem Martha Coakley and GOP Charlie Baker. Neither would be specific in their planks, in contrast to the UIP platform. He attributes that to their desire to avoid getting called when they alter or reverse positions (maybe in response to donations). He says that’s the real advantage of being specific and sticking to it.



A Tale of Two Commonwealths

"Our party motto should be-leave no family behind." - promoted by Bob_Neer

We have already had a lot of extensive discussions processing the loss last Tuesday, not just of our candidate for Governor but for 3 our of 4 ballot questions our movement had hoped to pass. I think part of what was missing in the Coakley campaign and missing even in our discussions here-is the fact that our state with its abundance of resources, solid fiscal management, liberal levels of tolerance, and excellent health care and higher education systems-is still a fundamentally unequal place.

In reality we live in two different commonwealths. The dynamic information based economy of the immediate Boston area and the struggling Gateway cities on our periphery-particularly those in the Northwest, Western, and Southeast corners of our state.

Anthony Bourdain is a world renowned food journalist and snarky personality, but his CNN series Parts Unknown has been a far more serious journalistic undertaking. Just last week he did an hour long program on the people of Iran, a widely praised episode that may win him an Emmy. This week he visited the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and I was excited to see what he would have to show of my home state.

It wasn’t pretty. His segment on Provincetown dovetailed his own bohemian first year as a chef there, during the 70s. He discusses how open and gay friendly it was even then, but also how that subculture interacted with the dominant conservative Catholic fishermen who would have the blessing of the fleet and a unique traditional way of life. Most people got along with one another, and it was a real community. Now, he and another chef reminisce that most of their friends from that era are dead from drugs, the gay enclave of a fishing town is now a gay town with a fishing enclave, and most of their favorite spots have been gentrified away.

He interviews two fishermen-and their tale was particularly sad-and completely true. They are only six or seven boats that still go out, they get hit with almost $3,500 of fees to the agency they rent from, liscense fees and taxes they pay to the state, and are very conscientious that there is little left to catch. They down some pints and a shot with Bourdain and lament that their sons won’t follow in their footsteps. This segment was straight out of the Baker debate performance-which we all instinctively mocked-waving off this way of life as an environmental calamity or an antiquity not part of modern Massachusetts life. It’s not, it’s an important part of our heritage and the actual livelihood of hard working blue collar folks who used to be the backbone of our party. It hit me, and it hit me hard, that we are not doing enough to help not just those seven boats in P-Town, but the communities of Fall River, New Bedford, Gloucester, and those communities in Boston itself that depend on this resource for their livelihood.

Ford F-Series and the Vote

A fine discussion. I'd say it's because Democrats create jobs and Republicans destroy them, as a general rule, and if you want recent evidence compare the elinimation of jobs under George W. Bush, and the millions of jobs built under Obama. More Republicans in office equals fewer jobs for Americans. - promoted by Bob_Neer

A few weeks ago, while we were attending a house party rally for one Democratic candidate, my wife introduced me to a newcomer to who had a question for me.  I’m always happy to meet newcomers, especially because of the perspective they bring. The woman was probably in her late thirties or early forties and had just started to get actively involved. Her question came as the result of her recent venture into door to door canvassing.  She was canvassing in largely middle class, Metro West areas and asked me, “Other than gay rights, women’s rights, how can I convince people to vote for Democrats?”  I did the best I could with mentioning health care reform, but the current wave of candidates in both parties seem in agreement, same with labor issues, with the only exception being earned sick time for low wage workers.  We struggled to find issues that she could use canvassing white middle class males and their families in Metro West Massachusetts, issues where the differences with Republicans were sharp and that mattered with people in her town.  I come from a family of FDR Democrats, labor Democrats, and here I am in Metro West Massachusetts, surrounded by labor and struggling to find a way to tip the scales in our favor.  I drive by some homes in disrepair with “Charlie Baker” signs on their lawns.  I remember the Scott Brown wave that swept through the pickup truck demographic.  Did you know that the Ford F-Series F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for the past 32 years.  Yes, the Toyota Prius is a big seller and we own that demographic, but it’s not enough.  Can we really afford to ignore the F-150 voter?  I’ve read “What’s the Matter With Kansas” and I wonder, “What’s the Matter with Metro West Massachusetts”?

So her question to me is now one for you.

It’s not enough to own the women’s vote.  It’s not enough to own the urban vote.  It’s not enough to own GOTV.  What would you tell this newcomer who is eager to help us elect Democrats in Massachusetts (and beyond)? I know there were fact sheets comparing and contrasting Coakley/Baker but it’s clear that they were not enough.

How do we campaign to win the pickup truck vote?





Joke Revue: "Exit Polls Indicate Nation Suffering from Severe Memory Loss"


Exit Polls Indicate Nation Suffering from Severe Memory Loss

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Exit polls conducted across the country on Election Day indicate a nation suffering from severe memory loss, those who conducted the polls confirmed Tuesday night.

According to the polls, Americans who cast their votes today had a difficult time remembering events that occurred as recently as six years ago, while many seemed to be solid only on things that have happened in the past ten days.

While experts were unable to explain the epidemic of memory loss that appears to have gripped the nation, interviews with Americans after they cast their votes suggest that their near total obliviousness to anything that happened as recently as October may have influenced their decisions.

“I really think it’s time for a change,” said Carol Foyler, a memory-loss sufferer who cast her vote this morning in Iowa City. “I just feel in my gut that if these people were in charge they’d do a really amazing job with the economy.” …

McConnell Campaign Rocked by Photo Showing Him with Science Book

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—The reëlection campaign of Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) went into a tailspin on Monday with the emergence of a leaked photograph showing the Senator reading what appears to be an advanced science text.

The picture, which appeared on the gossip site TMZ, shows a visibly absorbed McConnell reading a scholarly volume entitled, “The Man-Made Causes of Global Warming.”

For McConnell, who has repeatedly punctuated his public statements on climate change with the claim that he is “not a scientist,” the scandalous photo threatens to torpedo his reëlection bid.

In the hours since the image was leaked, McConnell has plummeted between five and seven points in statewide polls as voters demanded to know what he was doing with the type of book only a scientist would read.

Swinging into damage-control mode, McConnell appeared at a hastily called press conference in Lexington and offered a terse denial. “It is true that I was holding the book, and that the book was open. But I was not reading the book,” he said. …

Daniel Kurtzman:

“Republican Scott Brown lost his bid for Senate in New Hampshire last night, two years after he was voted out as Senator in Massachusetts. When asked what he was planning to do next, he said, ‘Are they still looking for a mayor in Toronto?’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Republicans also took control of the Senate after gaining another seven seats. I haven’t seen the GOP get this many seats since Chris Christie made an airline reservation.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Yesterday was Election Day. If we have any Democrats in the audience, I’m sorry but you’re going to have to give up your seats.” –David Letterman

“Imagine Washington, D.C. If you thought Congress didn’t get a lot of work done before, just wait until they get legal pot.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“According to data from yesterday’s midterms, only 13 percent of voters were under 30 years old. So America didn’t rock the vote so much as we soft-rocked the vote.” –Seth Meyers

“Republicans won enough seats to gain a majority in the Senate and increase their majority in the House. For those Democratic candidates who wanted to distance yourselves from Obama, congratulations. You did.” –Seth Meyers

“Today is the midterm elections. The Washington Post is predicting that there’s a 98 percent chance of the Republicans taking the Senate and The New York Times says there’s a 75 percent chance. And CNN said, ‘Wait, that’s today?’” –Jimmy Fallon

“Democrats have been doing everything they can to get young people and college students to vote in the midterms. Though if you want students to participate in something, maybe you shouldn’t call them midterms.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Take a look at this: gas under $3 a gallon – under $3 a gallon. Unemployment under 6%, whoever thought? Stock market breaking records every day. No wonder the guy is so unpopular.” –David Letterman on President Obama

“Politicians are really getting desperate. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent out a final fundraising email to Democrats with the subject line, ‘I’m begging.’ Because what better way to show you’re a strong leader than acting like you’re drunk and dialing your ex?” –Jimmy Fallon

“Tomorrow is Election Day. That’s the day we Americans wake up, consider our options, and then remember we didn’t register to vote.” –Conan O’Brien

“Health officials in countries affected by Ebola are encouraging people to stop shaking hands, and instead give an “Ebola handshake,” which is when you bump elbows with someone. That would be a great idea if they hadn’t spent the past five years telling us to sneeze into our elbows.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Sunday is the New York City Marathon. Good luck to everybody who will be participating. Hillary Clinton, by the way, has not yet deciding whether she’ll be running.” –David Letterman

What is the progressive strategy for the next four years?

Bumped for the fantastic comment thread. Read it, and chime in. Some really thoughtful stuff in there about how we should think about the next four years. - promoted by david

Here’s the situation.  We live in a state where, for better or worse, the agenda is controlled largely by the Speaker and the Senate President.  In almost every case, legislation that actually makes it through both chambers is supported by both of those individuals, and passes by veto-proof margins.  The Governor plays a role too, of course, but he cannot force the legislature to do something it doesn’t want to do (as Governor Patrick learned several times), and his options without legislative buy-in are limited.

The current Speaker, Bob DeLeo, would never be mistaken for a progressive.  The incoming Senate President, Stan Rosenberg, is a different story.  Rosenberg, with a couple of unfortunate blind spots (*cough*casinos*cough*), has taken a number of positions over the years that should look pretty good to a lot of people in these parts.  Here’s one example:

Currently, Stan is the prime sponsor of legislation to change the Massachusetts Constitution to eliminate its prohibition against graduated tax rates and he is supporting An Act to Invest in Our Communities, which seeks to restore the income tax rate from 5.3 percent to 5.95 percent, while raising the personal exemption enough to hold down increases for middle-class families. The bill also seeks to raise the tax rate on wealthy investors, while providing a targeted exemption for middle-class seniors.

That’s the guy who, come January, will be running one of the chambers.  Of course, nothing like that will get through Bob DeLeo’s House.  But under House rules, DeLeo can only remain Speaker through 2016.  What happens after that?

There are at least three possibilities.  First, the House could change the rules so that DeLeo can remain Speaker.  Second, the House could elect a DeLeo clone in 2017 to be the next Speaker.  Third, the House could move in a more progressive direction.

Obviously, the third option is the most desirable.  And so, it seems to me that the strategy for the next two years should be to make the other two options politically untenable.

Have at it.

Senators - including Markey - pitching in to help Mary Landrieu

I gave Ed Markey a lot of crap this year for aggressive fundraising when, it seemed to me (and the election results bore this out), he was never in any serious danger of losing his seat.  One of my criticisms was that I wished he had spent more time fundraising for people who really were in tough battles, instead of for himself.

So credit where credit is due: I’m very glad to see him pitching in to help raise money for Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who (since nobody got >50% as is required in Lousiana) is facing a runoff election to keep her Senate seat.  Other Senators are on the bandwagon as well: just today I’ve gotten emails from Senators Tom Udall, Al Franken, Joe Donnelly, Sherrod Brown, and Ron Wyden, in addition to Markey, asking for contributions to Landrieu’s runoff effort.

It of course remains to be seen how hard Landrieu’s fellow Democrats actually work to keep her in office.  Fundraising emails are nice, but cheap; in contrast, the DSCC apparently cancelled a bunch of reservations for TV ads, though they didn’t actually say they were “bailing” on the race (in contrast to the flashy Politico headline).  Here’s hoping we see lots of follow-through on this one.

By the way, if you would like to help out, you can do so at this link!

DSCC Pulls Out of Louisiana

seamusromney observes in the comments "Party committees suck. They’re about insiders taking care of friends, not about winning." BTW, can anyone name the current head of the MA Democratic Party? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? - promoted by Bob_Neer


With control of the Senate no longer on the line, the race becomes less important for both party committees — each of which took out loans in the final weeks before Tuesday’s election.

I get the rationale behind this, but it’s completely screwy. Landrieu got more votes than Bill Cassidy two days ago. She has a more-than-reasonable chance of pulling this off.

Every seat counts. The battle for control will be a lot easier in 2016 and 2018 if Mary Landrieu keeps her seat.

Put up, DSCC. It’s four weeks and one state.

Election 2014 Post-Mortem #2: The Bad News About The Ballot Questions And National Politics

Awesome post. One of my favorite parts: "And while we’re on the subjects of Democrats, money, and that which is ridiculous, here’s hoping that in 2016 and going forward the fundraising DNC/DSCC/DCCC-emails will take a different tone than the ask for money you’d expect from some desperate, batsh!t drug addict." - promoted by Bob_Neer

So much bad news.

Question 1.  It’s important to remember that we got to this place because Speaker DeLeo, Rep. Dempsey, et al. dictated the terms of the tax bill last year, carved out the gas tax increases from Patrick’s ambitious $1.9 billion package and (eventually) jettisoned the rest.  They deserve blame.   Perhaps Governor Patrick could have done more to stand his ground, too.  As I argued in this space last year, raising the income tax would have been a more palatable, less regressive, and better way forward.  I also think that, especially coupled with the significant sales tax cut included in the package, it would have been more popular.  Of course, hardly anyone was eager to make the case to the public that, despite our Taxachusetts reputation, our tax burden is not all that high.

The result here should not have come as a shock.  The automatic gas tax increases were unpopular across rank-and-file party lines from the get-go.  But we now face some significant budget issues going forward (already!).  How do we realistically make those much needed investments in our transportation infrastructure with No-New-Taxes-Charlie in charge?  I have no idea.

Question 2.  The ugly truth here is simple and easy to recognize: Yes, indeed, big, bad, corporate Super-PACs spent a lot of money, ran dishonest ads everywhere locally, and reversed public opinion.  Among voters, the narrow, “Hey, I recycle, but I don’t want to spend more money on groceries or make more of an effort than I possibly have to”-sentiment took hold.  It’s too bad, because as a matter of policy, deposits work.

Question 3.  Despite mountains of evidence that casinos are altogether bad for life, the repeal was a long-shot.  And despite some significant NIMBYism, most voters thought it was a settled matter.  (I personally found it slightly brutalizing to watch the gubernatorial candidates try to formulate a coherent position on this, by the way.)

Question 4.  The silver lining!  A wonderful achievement made possible by the hard work of so many!  And the folks who worked on this should feel especially gratified considering that the legislature was afraid to take it on earlier in the year.

* * *

Charlie Baker won because he, and his outside supporters, raised and spent millions more

Money talks and everything else, as a rule, walks in politics. Charlie Baker and the Republican PACs and associations that supported him — far stronger since Citizens United — outspent Martha Coakley and her allies by many, many millions in absolute terms, and likely by even more on a relative basis: 2-1, according to some calculations. He beat her by a whisker. If that imbalance had been reversed, sure as Obama raised more than McCain and Romney, and beat them both, and sure as Warren raised more than Brown, and beat him (and Brown beat Coakley when he raised more than her), the former A.G. would now be Governor.

It’s just math: Candidate Popularity * Money = Outcome, and it is as plain as the golden dome on the State House or the bills in your pocket. Rare exceptions prove the rule.

What I find striking is the resistance to this political reality. Jack Sullivan, for example, a gifted analyst, offers the best catalog I have yet read of reasons why Coakley lost. In Martha We Hardly Knew Ye in Commonwealth Magazine’s superb free Download newsletter he lists the following: “she didn’t carry with her the ‘lessons learned’ of taking and making bold policy stances and statements” (quoting Scott Lehigh), “being splattered with the Patrick administration missteps” (citing Michael Jonas), “a victim of the national enmity towards President Obama and Democrats in general,” “timing of former mayor Thomas Menino’s passing,” “abandonment of Democratic mayors and their machines as well as the passive, in some cases non-existent, support of legislators leaders,” “Coakley isn’t a good politician,” and “lacking political acumen for races that required more than just legal skills.”

Those factors probably all played some role, and they are worth discussing, but the list does not include the most straightforward explanation: cash. It is also the best explanation for last night’s Republican sweep: they spent more. For a micro-example, it explains how Thomas P. O’Neill’s PR factory, armed with millions of dollars, could use “false” information, according to the Globe, to flip 2-1 support for less litter and municipal cost savings to an opposite margin in favor of polluted beaches and a free pass for irresponsible behavior (an impressive example of how to turn a fine family name into a synonym for a trash-filled park in one generation, but I digress).

My theory is that most observers find it deeply unsettling to acknowledge the degree to which our politics is determined by money. First, it is undemocratic, and many people have an attachment to that political system. Second, it devalues the importance of the political elite — journalists, activists, etc. — except to the degree they can raise money. Third, it requires an understanding of the campaign management industry — the talented people who spend the money — a relatively new field with billions in annual revenues that is almost completely opaque.

Here come the crazy ideas

There’s something about the post-election hangover that causes people to say really goofy things, and sometimes to publish them in an op-ed.

Case in point, Globe columnist Tom Keane.  Personally, I’m not a big fan anyway, but this one’s downright silly.

It’s time to get rid of bottle deposits…. The notion of deposits on containers is deeply problematic, a flawed scheme from the 1980s. I first became disillusioned with the law when, living in Boston, I’d find my trash bags razored by bottle-pickers, debris strewn about. Now I’m in an apartment building, and single-stream recycling is — literally — down the hall: one chute for trash, one for recyclables. Trudging to the store to return bottles and cans makes no sense. From my point of view — and that of many others, I suspect — the expanded bottle bill would have been simply more money out of my pocket.

This is a classic self-absorbed bottle-bill-hater argument.  It’s messy; it’s a hassle for me; my life would be simpler and cheaper if I didn’t have to pay deposits on bottles.  It’s an argument that’s been made since the first bottle bill was passed; it’s been rejected for years.  Nothing has changed.

But somehow, in light of Question 2′s failure at the ballot, the time has come to get rid of all bottle deposits?  Say what?  Surely, Keane has some excellent arguments in store.  Before we examine them, let’s recall why we have a bottle bill in the first place.  It is in place to solve a very specific problem, namely, discarded bottles on the streets.  Litter.  If there’s a financial incentive not to throw a bottle onto the street, people won’t do it, the argument goes – and if they do, someone else will pick it up.  And it works: as we all know, 80% of deposit containers are recycled, compared to only about 25% of non-deposit containers.

OK.  So, what does Keane have in the way of arguments for getting rid of the bottle bill, aside from the standard argument noted above?

The existing law is antiquated and in need of updating. But since that’s not going to happen, it’s time to come up with some new approaches.

Expanding “pay-as-you-throw” programs would be one approach. Now in place in more than 140 Massachusetts communities, the concept is to charge homeowners a fee for each bag of trash they put out, while collecting recyclables for free. According to case studies by the state, such programs can dramatically increase recycling.

#Fail.  Pay-as-you-throw may be a fine idea, but it has nothing to do with the litter problem.  Pay-as-you-throw creates an incentive to put recyclable waste in the recycling bin, instead of in a trash bag.  But litter, by definition, doesn’t end up in either.  If someone’s already inclined to toss their empty water bottle onto the street, pay-as-you-throw doesn’t create any incentive not to do so.

At the same time, we could follow the example of Delaware, which abandoned its bottle deposit law in 2010 and moved to what the state calls “universal recycling.” Initially funded with a fee on beverages, all businesses have to participate, and all household trash haulers have to offer residents single-stream recycling. Since the bottle bill ended, the percent of Delaware’s trash that is recycled has climbed from 33.7 to 40.1, according to the state.

Still not good enough, for several reasons.  First, a 40% recycling rate may be good for Delaware; it obviously pales in comparison to the 80% recycling rate of deposit containers in Massachusetts.  Second, common sense tells you that many single-serving beverage containers are not consumed at home or in a restaurant.  Rather, they are something you pick up at a convenience store, you drink, and then you throw away (either in a trash can or on the street).  It’s commendable, but I’d venture quite rare, for people to chug that bottle of water and then hang onto the empty bottle until you get home several hours later so that you can dutifully toss it into your single-stream recycling bin.  Most people just don’t operate that way.  Plus, notice that Delaware’s plan was “initially funded with a fee on beverages,” which sounds a lot like a tax (much moreso than the bottle bill, where deposits are refundable).  I imagine that’s going to go well.

And that’s all he’s got.  Astonishingly, Keane never comes to grips with the basic point about the bottle bill: it works.  It’s too bad it didn’t get expanded; what that means is that we’ll continue to see water and juice bottles on the streets, both in communities that have single-stream curbside recycling and communities that don’t, just as we do now.  Getting rid of deposits all together would simply mean that we’d start seeing Coke cans and beer bottles on the streets as well, which now is fairly rare.  And that would be good because…?

Democrats need to hire Daily Show writers

Painful. - promoted by david

After watching The Daily Show last night (if an editor could get the video to embed, that would be awesome [happy to oblige! -ed.]), I’m convinced that the whole messaging thing isn’t that hard. If their writers can give the lines to Jordan Klepper, why can’t someone give them to Democratic candidates?

Jordan Klepper: Last night, at approximately 11:27pm Eastern Time, the Republicans gained control of the US Senate, and results were almost immediate! The economy – now growing at a robust 3.5%. Gas this morning? Under three bucks a gallon. Look: Stock market at record levels; deficits cut in half; ten million more Americans have health insurance; and unemployment sub-6% for the first time since we elected “Chairman Obama”.

Jon Stewart: Well, wait! Hang on a second Jordan, because the things that you’re describing…

JK: And even Ebola, Jon, think about this, which was on the verge of destroying this country under Obama’s feckless leadership is suddenly only a problem now for one guy. It’s Morning In America, Jon!

JS: Jordan, that is an incredibly impressive list you’ve ticked off, of things that happened under Obama and the Democratic Senate.

JK: Oh, please, Jon! If Democrats had accomplished all that, they would have been out there bragging about it for months! It would have been the central message of their campaign, instead of their actual message, which was, like, I’m quoting this here, “I’m sorry! Don’t be mad! We don’t like Obama either! We like guns too!”.

Done. Was it really that hard?


A @#$%burger to go: even yet still more takeaway