Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pinch nose, hold breath, Vote for Martha Coakley

If I lived in Massachusetts, and I don't, this would be one election that I would be dying to sit out. The reasons to not vote for Martha Coakley are legion and I discuss some of them in this post and its comments.

Or you can read Politico's version. Wherever you get your facts, it's clear to me that Massachusetts seriously fucked up in making her the nominee.

But as Hello Ladies reminds me, this is a very important race as far as Senate balance is concerned and it is, gulp, the best thing for the country if Martha Coakley wins yet another election.

There, I said it.

Now pray that no one you love ever needs strong pain medication, or gets falsely accused of a politically fashionable crime or places something that looks nothing like a bomb in a major city.

who needs a shower and was slightly cheered by this.


Desmond Ravenstone said...

News from Massachusetts: Several polls here show a tight race. Coakley's best hope is that the independent candidate takes votes away from her main contender Scott Brown (coincidentally, the independent's name is Joseph Kennedy, no relation).

PG said...

coincidentally, the independent's name is Joseph Kennedy, no relation

Probably not entirely coincidence. Gotta wonder to what extent his decision to run was based on viewing "The Distinguished Gentleman." And I'm afraid the people confused into voting for this Kennedy were more likely to have been Coakley's voters, not Brown's.

I do wish that Brown would stop lying about his position on same-sex marriage relative to Obama's, though. He claims their positions are the same, even though Obama supports repealing DOMA and opposed both a Federal Marriage Amendment and Prop. 8, whereas Brown voted as a state senator to try to amend MA's constitution to get rid of same-sex marriage. It's like saying I have the same position on abortion as Sarah Palin, because neither of us would opt to have one personally. Someone's personal beliefs on a social issue are pretty much irrelevant when deciding whether to vote for that person; what matters is what he believes should be the law.

Joel Monka said...

CC, after hearing decades of this argument I'm done with holding my nose when I vote. All my life I've been hearing that a vote for a third party is a wasted votes, and this time it's too important to waste a vote just sending a message. I have come to believe that the only wasted vote is the one you had to hold your nose to cast, and that not understanding this is why we're in the situation we're in. I believe that the time to start voting your conscience is now- if not now, then when? I'm not a Skinnerian, but I do believe that most people and organizations don't change until it becomes painful not to- and if we keep rubberstamping whatever scum floats to the top of the slating committee, we'll never get choices we can vote for without needing a shower.

Joel Monka said...

PG- Obama supports repealing DOMA? I know what he's said, but he's said a lot of things- but I've seen no action. Well, no good action; there was his administration's DOJ brief supporting DOMA

PG said...

Joel, when the constitutionality of a Congressionally-passed statute is challenged, it is the obligation of the executive branch (generally in the form of the DOJ) to defend that statute, unless the Executive also believes that the statute is unconstitutional and that therefore a good-faith defense of it cannot be made. (Shockingly, the Executive most often tends to believe that when the statute in question intrudes upon what the Executive believes are powers reserved to it and not Congress.)

DOMA steps out of federalist tradition in one respect (by independently defining marriage for the purpose of federal law, rather than deferring to the states) and upholds that tradition in another respect (by maintaining states' ability to decide what will constitute marriage within their own borders). I can make arguments as to why DOMA is unconstitutional: basically, because sex should be treated like race and the government shouldn't discriminate among who can marry each other on the basis of sex any more than on the basis of race. But most people actually consider my argument to be an extreme expansion of existing precedent, and there are good faith arguments to be made on the other side for DOMA's constitutionality. As a former Con Law lecturer, Obama presumably knows that. His 2006 Senate speech in opposition to a Federal Marriage Amendment was calculated to appeal to supposedly-federalist conservatives by pointing out that the federal government shouldn't be telling the states what can and can't be deemed marriage.

The Executive does not work to repeal a law by avoiding his responsibility to defend duly-legislated statutes in court. Also, Declan McCullagh must be pretty ignorant of what litigation looks like, if he would take the brief filed pursuant to that obligation as an expression of Obama's personal beliefs. (Especially the first brief, which appears to have been written and submitted by a Bush-era civil service hire without review by Obama's political appointees, and thus was written in a way that impinged on HRC's sensitivities. The subsequent briefing has been a lot more careful in its rhetoric.)

Obama has said he supports repealing DOMA and would sign the bill when it came to his desk. He hasn't expended a lot of political capital on it in the 358 days he's been in office, but he does have at least three years left and there have been minor matters of a financial crisis, two wars and health care reform for which he needed to conserve that capital. If there's no move on any of the package of equality concerns (repeal of DOMA, repeal of DADT, passage of ENDA) by 2012, I'd agree that he's weaseled, but I'd put my money on one or more of those passing Congress by the next presidential election.

Also, Brown doesn't seem like a very mature public official. It is not seemly for a Senator who is being criticized online by a bunch of high school students to go to their school for the purpose of "calling them out on it." (Brown's words to the students were, "You can hammer me, but I can't call you out on it?")

Joel Monka said...

"Also, Brown doesn't seem like a very mature public official."

I wasn't making an argument for Brown, but in favor of voting third party. Both parties have to learn we're no longer willing to hold our noses.

Joel Monka said...

Voters will have to pinch their noses pretty tight after seeing this flier from the Dems.

PG said...


If Brown's campaign counsel is really going to file a criminal complaint based on a flyer that almost certainly falls within the First Amendment protections against being sued even civilly for defamation, then he's incompetent at law.*

If he's going to hype the flyer as a way to get folks like you het up against Coakley (when the flyer was sent to a very small group of pro-choice voters originally and otherwise wouldn't have hit your radar), he's very good at politics.

* Here's the state statute that they're supposedly going to bring a complaint under:
General Laws of Mass., Ch. 56, Sec. 42: "False statements relating to candidates or questions submitted to voters. No person shall make or publish, or cause to be made or published, any false statement in relation to any candidate for nomination or election to public office, which is designed or tends to aid or to injure or defeat such candidate. ...
Whoever knowingly violates any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than six months."

I haven't seen any cases indicating that anyone has ever been successfully prosecuted under this law. That's really not a good sign for Brown's filing a successful complaint against the opposing party for a flyer that does describe what the headline claim is talking about: Brown's attempt to amend a bill, which would have required emergency medical service providers to make emergency contraception available to sexual assault victims, so that anyone claiming a religious objection to such contraception could refuse to provide the victim with such medication.

Joel Monka said...

"...a way to get folks like you het up against Coakley..." I don't need him to get het up against Coakly, nor does it make me support Brown- as I said repeatedly upstream, this is a case for voting third party, and there is a viable Libertarian in the race. My point is that if scum is rising to the top at both ends of the pond, don't jump in.

Of course Brown will get nowhere with prosecution- but that doesn't change the fact that the ad is a lie. Saying that Brown wants all hospitals to turn away rape victims because he backed a religious exemption would be like saying that Coakly wants the US to be defeated in battle because she supports the rights of conciencious objectors.

PG said...

"I don't need him to get het up against Coakly"
"Voters will have to pinch their noses pretty tight after seeing this flier from the Dems."
and I think it's clear why I got the impression from your prior comment that you thought this flyer was good reason not to vote for Coakley -- which, after all, will suffice for Brown's purposes, as he only has to get more votes than Coakley, not win an actual majority of all votes cast.

"Of course Brown will get nowhere with prosecution- but that doesn't change the fact that the ad is a lie."

First, I don't think much of the supposedly "conservative" credentials of people who use the legal system for PR.

Second, the ad is no more a lie than all sorts of ads I don't recall your having been concerned about when they were coming from the GOP. It takes an undeniable fact -- that Brown wanted to amend the bill in order to exempt healthcare providers from actually having to comply with it so long as they claimed a religious rationale -- and misrepresents it through exaggeration and hyperbole.

"Saying that Brown wants all hospitals to turn away rape victims because he backed a religious exemption would be like saying that Coakly wants the US to be defeated in battle because she supports the rights of conscientious objectors."

Huh? If everyone who would be eligible to serve in the military conscientiously objects to fighting in the war, then there clearly is not sufficient political will in this country for us to fight that particular war, and therefore we shouldn't fight it.

If everyone who is on duty in a hospital emergency room at 3am on a Satuday night when an sexual assault survivor comes in objects to providing her with emergency contraception, she doesn't get that contraception, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't be able to get it, only that she really got screwed over on the hospital to which she was brought.

I hope that was just a random choice of analogy and not an expression of the belief that
(a) providing health care services to a rape survivor is like having to participate in the killing of other human beings in terms of the toll on conscience; and/or
(b) the United States should go ahead and fight wars that its people do not actually want to wage.

Joel Monka said...

Yes, it was a random choice of analogy- the first religion objection that came to mind.

As to Republican lies, I've denounced quite a few, and did not support McCain. I'd have to search whether the tax one in specific was mentioned, but I was certainly no fan of that campaign! In fact, my favorites were the two from New York- Rudi and Hillary- and when they both tanked in the primaries, I went third party again. And said so at the time.