Patterico's Pontifications

1/19/2010

ObamaCare = Dead

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:15 pm

The media says this election was not about health care . . . and yet, this election appears to have had quite an impact on health care. Barney Frank:

I have two reactions to the election in Massachusetts. One, I am disappointed. Two, I feel strongly that the Democratic majority in Congress must respect the process and make no effort to bypass the electoral results. If Martha Coakley had won, I believe we could have worked out a reasonable compromise between the House and Senate health care bills. But since Scott Brown has won and the Republicans now have 41 votes in the Senate, that approach is no longer appropriate. I am hopeful that some Republican Senators will be willing to discuss a revised version of health care reform because I do not think that the country would be well-served by the health care status quo. But our respect for democratic procedures must rule out any effort to pass a health care bill as if the Massachusetts election had not happened. Going forward, I hope there will be a serious effort to change the Senate rule which means that 59 votes are not enough to pass major legislation, but those are the rules by which the health care bill was considered, and it would be wrong to change them in the middle of the process.

It’s an echo of what we saw from Jim Webb, which I reported earlier:

It would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.

It’s tough to overstate the significance of all this, isn’t it?

UPDATE: New York Times: Democrats Won’t Rush to Pass Senate Bill.

Ping, pong, the rigged game which is dead!

UPDATE x2: Headline rewritten to make Karl happy.

UPDATE x3: Politico: The fallout: Democrats rethinking health care bill.

The Stunning Brown Win

Filed under: Health Care,Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 8:42 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Rasmussen has the numbers and some of them are stunning:

“In the end, Brown pulled off the upset in large part because he won unaffiliated voters by a 73% to 25% margin. The senator-elect also picked up 23% of the vote from Democrats. [Our polling shows that 53% of voters in Massachusetts are Democrats, 21% Republican and 26% not affiliated with either party.]

Coakley also barely carried a usually reliable Democratic constituency. Union workers went for her by just six points, 52% to 46%.”

Despite the media’s spin, this vote was largely about health care:

Fifty-six percent (56%) of voters in the state say health care was the most important factor in their voting decision. Brown made it clear in the closing days of the campaign that he intended to go to Washington to vote against the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats.

Twenty-five percent (25%) of Massachusetts voters say the economy was most important.

Forty-seven percent (47%) favor the health care legislation before Congress while 51% oppose it. However, the intensity was clearly with those who are opposed. Just 25% of voters in Massachusetts Strongly Favor the plan while 41% Strongly Oppose it.

Fifty percent (50%) say it would be better to pass no health care legislation at all rather than passing the bill before Congress.”

Spin that.

— DRJ

The Spin Begins: Big Media Tells Us This Wasn’t About Health Care; UPDATED with Proof That It Was; UPDATED with Evidence of L.A. Times’s Unacknowledged Rewrite

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 7:33 pm

The L.A. Times reports:

In a stunning blow to Democrats, Republican Scott Brown ended the party’s half-century grip on the Senate seat once held by Edward M. Kennedy, coming from nowhere to give the GOP the crucial 41st vote that could thwart President Obama and his agenda, starting with healthcare.

Actually, we don’t need a 41st vote. Democrats need a 60th vote to invoke cloture. But anyway.

Also, Mr. L.A. Times reporter: it’s stunning to you — and no doubt to your readers, whom you have not prepared for this shock. But many of us have seen this coming for days. Because . . . well, let’s see what you think the reason is.

The candidate herself owns much of the responsibility. She was complacent to the point of arrogance — taking extensive time off after the primary and disdaining the notion of standing outside in the cold, shaking hands — and committed a series of gaffes, including an assertion during a debate last week that Afghanistan was free of terrorists.

What about health care?

[UPDATE: Rasmussen tells us: “Health care has been a huge issue in this election. Fifty-two percent (52%) of Brown voters say it was the most important issue in determining their vote. Sixty-three percent (63%) of Coakley voters say health care was the top issue. 78% of Brown voters Strongly Oppose the health care legislation before Congress.” Thanks to JVW. Now look at Frank Luntz’s focus group talking about how important heath care was to their vote:

. . . and now back to what the L.A. Times thought was important . . .]

But there were larger forces at work.

Right. Like health care.

Gov. Deval Patrick is extremely unpopular, and a series of corruption scandals have tainted Democrats on Beacon Hill, home to the Massachusetts statehouse. Brown repeatedly tied Coakley to the state’s Democratic rulers, effectively turning her into the incumbent in the Senate race.

Also, health care.

There was also a presumptuousness to Coakley’s campaign. Democrats habitually referred to “Ted Kennedy’s seat” — after all, except for a two-year period after John F. Kennedy won the White House, the U.S. Senate seat had been in the Kennedy family since 1953. Edward Kennedy died in August of brain cancer. After Democrats changed state law, Patrick appointed a longtime friend of the Kennedy family, Paul G. Kirk Jr., to fill the job while awaiting Tuesday’s vote.

Brown offered a resonant rejoinder: He called it “the people’s seat,” and that became one of the rallying cries of his campaign, slapping back at Democrats who seemed to take their power for granted.

Also, health care.

Obama remains personally popular in Massachusetts. But the state was no more immune than the rest of the country to frustrations over the economy and concerns about the exploding deficit and sweeping expansion of the federal government, embodied by the massive healthcare reform bill awaiting final passage on Capitol Hill.

There you go!

Brown, abetted by national Republican allies, turned the vote into a referendum on healthcare and the power of Democrats on Capitol Hill, promising to kill the legislation upon arrival in Washington. (Massachusetts offers far-reaching healthcare coverage, leading some voters to question why they should have to pay for other states to expand their benefits.)

So if he turned the vote into a referendum on healthcare, why did it take you so long to get around to discussing that?

Hmmmm?

RELATED BIG MEDIA COMPACENCY UPDATE: Steven Pearlstein at the Washington Post: Massachusetts race wasn’t a referendum on health-care reform.

Yuh-huh.

(more…)

Are We Having Fun Yet? UPDATE: COAKLEY CONCEDES, BROWN WINS!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:20 pm

[UPDATE: I am giving results in updates as fast as I see them.]

UPDATE: BROWN WINS. Coakley has called him to concede.

Well, the polls are closed. Let’s get a quick recap of some significant events of the day:

The Boston Globe publishes a full election map, declaring Marcia Marcy Martha Coakley the winner of the Senate race in Massachusettes Massachusetts. 50% to 49%. Just one problem: the polls weren’t closed. They say they were testing a tool.

The only tool here is the guy who declared Coakley the winner in the test map.

The best evidence that Coakley is going down: the backbiting has already begun as to who is at fault for her defeat. Enjoy the spectacle. This is from an anonymous Democrat party official:

The campaign failed to recognize this threat, failed to keep Coakley on the campaign trail, failed to create a negative narrative about Brown, failed to stay on the air in December while he was running a brilliant campaign. It’s wishful thinking from a pollster, candidate and campaign team that were caught napping and are going to allow one of the worst debacles in American political history to happen on their watch that they are at the 11th hour are going to blame others.

Before the DNC and DSCC got involved there was barely a single piece of paper on what the narrative is on Brown. The candidate in this race and the campaign have been involved in the worst case of political malpractice in memory and they aren’t going to be able to spin themselves out of this with a memo full of lies.

Hahahahahahaha. That’s the best evidence I know that they’re in trouble.

It seems that Coakley is weakly trying to lay groundwork for a challenge to the results by claiming fraud: namely, citing unconfirmed reports of five ballots being handed out pre-marked for Brown. Wouldn’t put it past the Coakley people to do this. After all, some of the Coakley supporters openly declare that they would cheat if they had the chance.

Ah, but where’s my evidence that they planned this?! How about this: the press release complaining about today’s fraud is dated yesterday. Ed Driscoll, bless his heart, got the screen grab.

Yesterday's News Today

Apparently the Massachusetts Secretary of State is not giving much credence to the fraud complaints.

That’s what I see from a quick scan of the blogs. I’ll update the post as I learn more.

UPDATE: Frank Luntz can’t find anyone who wants to be in his focus group supporting Coakley. And according to a Democrat operative who spoke to Glenn Thrush, “outreach workers in and around Boston have been stunned by the number of Democrats and Obama supporters who are waving them off, saying they’ll vote for Scott Brown.” Another small indicator of the Democrats’ lack of enthusiam: I noticed on Twitter that Sadly, No! writer Brad Reed said:

i voted for her this morning. didn’t feel good about it though. in fact, felt downright filthy about it.

Ah, the enthusiasm!

UPDATE x2: Latest results from Twitter:

11% reporting: Brown (R) 143,950 votes, 53%; Coakley (D) 126,037 votes, 46%

That’s from Chuck Todd at NBC. He seems to have prompt updates, so I’ll be following him.

UPDATE x3: Todd again:

17% in: Brown (R) 52%, Coakley (D) 47%. Just four precincts [in BOSTON] have reported so far.

UPDATE x4: Todd:

25% reporting: Brown (R) 288,615 votes, 52%; Coakley (D) 260,730 votes, 47%

Up by 5 points with a quarter of the vote in. Not bad.

UPDATE x5: Dave Wasserman at the Cook Political Report:

Cook Report does NOT officially call races, but if I were working for a network I would have enough #s to project: Brown Wins

UPDATE x6: Ed Morrissey says it’s Brown by 5 with 36% of the vote in.

UPDATE x7: Morrissey says 40% reporting and Brown is up by 7.

UPDATE x8: Brown by 5 with 45% of the vote in, per Steve Brusk at CNN. Brusk also writes:

Several House Democrats make it clear to Dana Bash tonight after Cap Hill meeting…would not support Senate version of health care

Sweet.

UPDATE x9: It’s Brown by 6 with 57% of the vote in.

UPDATE x10: Ed Morrissey:

60% reporting, @scottbrownMA has a 7-point, 87,000 vote lead in #MASen. Someone’s gonna call this soon.

Yup.

UPDATE x11: 53-46 with 63% of the vote in.

UPDATE x12: Coakley concedes. It’s all over.

Now SEAT THIS MAN.

UPDATE x13: Erick Erickson has a great idea:

DEAR GOP: Scott Brown should deliver the response to Barack Obama’s State of the Union next week!

It’s so perfect, there’s no way they’ll ever do it.

UPDATE x14: Peter Hamby of CNN reports this very significant quote:

Jim Webb: “it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.”

UPDATE x15: Webb’s statement stands in marked contrast to this quote from Rep. Anthony Weiner (D., N.Y.) to the Wall Street Journal this weekend:

“We’re going to have to finish this bill and then stall the swearing-in as long as possible,” Mr. Weiner said. “That’s our strategy, a hurry-up-and-stall strategy.”

Way to respect the will of the people, there, Weiner.

Heavy Turnout in Massachusetts Election

Filed under: Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 5:09 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Reports indicate a heavy turnout in the Massachusetts’ special Senate election pitting Democrat Martha Coakley against Republican Scott Brown. Both camps have reported election violations.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs described President Obama as “surprised and frustrated” at the hotly-contested race. I guess political contests are only good when Democrats are ahead.

— DRJ

MORE:
Allahpundit has late reports that favor Coakley.

Conan O’Brien’s “Bonus”

Filed under: Government,Obama — DRJ @ 5:02 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Reports say NBC will pay Conan O’Brien $40M to sever their contractual relationship.

NBC’s parent company, GE — through its lending division, GE Capital — is the beneficiary of a $139B federal bailout. As President-elect, Obama called on bankers to forgo their multi-million dollar bonuses to show they are taking responsibility and making sacrifices in difficult economic times. As President, Obama was outraged when AIG paid hefty contractually-authorized bonuses after receiving federal bailout money.

But this time the recipient is Conan O’Brien, a celebrity, and the employer is GE/NBC and Jeffrey Immelt — noted Obama backers. Where’s the outrage, Mr. President?

— DRJ

Open Thread: Massachusett(e)s Election

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:56 am

A couple of links to get you going:

Jim Treacher compiles the Coakley gaffes.

Zogby predicts a Coakley victory. Allahpundit quips: “That’s actually the most convincing pro-Brown poll news yet.” Heh.

Legal Insurrection blog will be liveblogging today. I’m quite sure Allahpundit will be liveblogging this evening.

How do you know the White House thinks Coakley will lose? They’re now saying the election isn’t about ObamaCare:

Even before the polls opened, White House officials sought to blunt the narrative that the race was a referendum on the president’s health-care initiative, in part by arguing that Massachusetts already has universal coverage.

“Massachusetts is completely unique, because the health reform law passed a few years ago,” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said. “It makes it an imperfect example and impossible to extrapolate.”

You just keep telling yourself that.

[UPDATE: A wonderful case study in anti-Brown, pro-Coakley bias at the New York Times, courtesy of Matt Welch, here.]

Comment away.

UPDATE: The quote of the day may be this from Scott Brown: “Unbelievable. The leader of the free world is talking about my truck.”

An Explanation for the Trolls?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:56 am

Glenn Greenwald may have an explanation for those trolls you keep seeing around here:

Cass Sunstein has long been one of Barack Obama’s closest confidants. Often mentioned as a likely Obama nominee to the Supreme Court, Sunstein is currently Obama’s head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where, among other things, he is responsible for “overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs.” In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-“independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. The paper’s abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here.

Sunstein advocates that the Government’s stealth infiltration should be accomplished by sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups.” He also proposes that the Government make secret payments to so-called “independent” credible voices to bolster the Government’s messaging (on the ground that those who don’t believe government sources will be more inclined to listen to those who appear independent while secretly acting on behalf of the Government). This program would target those advocating false “conspiracy theories,” which they define to mean: “an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.” Sunstein’s 2008 paper was flagged by this blogger, and then amplified in an excellent report by Raw Story‘s Daniel Tencer.

There’s no evidence that the Obama administration has actually implemented a program exactly of the type advocated by Sunstein, though in light of this paper and the fact that Sunstein’s position would include exactly such policies, that question certainly ought to be asked.

(All emphasis in original.)

Indeed.

My suggestion: if there is a troll you suspect of being part of a secret Obama blog infiltration program, ask him.

If he denies it, consider it suspicious. After all, that’s just what they would say — isn’t it?


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