I'm not exactly an expert on Scott Brown. Two weeks ago, he could have
walked right up to me, introduced himself, and I wouldn't have known who
he was. If he mentioned he was the Republican candidate to fill the
Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy, I would have thought (to
myself) “Oh, the cannon fodder.”
Like everyone, I just sort of assumed that the voters of Massachusetts
would elect a liberal Democrat to replace Kennedy, and didn't give the
election much thought.
But then some polls show the race tightening, and there were even a
couple that showed Brown with a lead, although the MoE made it a
Every Democrat in the country, predictably, went berserk. Brown, and his
Democratic opponent, Martha Coakley, represent the decisive, filibuster
vote on health care. The conventional wisdom is that if Coakley is
elected, it passes, and if Brown is elected, it fails. This is one of
those relatively rare instances where conventional wisdom is most likely
The poll, conducted by Suffolk University immediately after a
candidates' debate which Scott was widely seen as winning, lit a fire
under Obama, who had been taking a hands-off approach to the race. He
announced that Coakley had invited him to come and campaign on her
behalf. Scott immediately growled about Coakley bringing in “outsiders”
such as the President of the United States, a growl that might have been
slightly less farcical had Scott not had general outsider and all around
alien Rudy Guiliani in to campaign for him on the very same day.
It doesn't help any that the election will be decided by the hated and
widely mistrusted electronic voting machines. Those machines have done
more damage to American democracy than Roger Ailes and Sun Myung Moon
combined. They've managed to do what the Nazis and the Communists
couldn't, and caused Americans to lose faith in their political system.
It worries me. It's not unusual for last minute polls to show sudden
swings, and more often than not those swings vanish on election day. I
don't have any reason to question the integrity of the Suffolk
University poll, but I will note that the only one with similar results
is Rasmussen, which is predictably right-leaning. If not for the “bugger
factor” of the easily manipulated voting machines, I would still be
expecting a fairly easy win for Coakley.
There's a lot of confusion about Scott Brown, too. Nate Silver over at
fivethirtyeight.com described him as “a liberal Republican”, whereas
William Rivers Pitt at Truthout viewed him as the spawn of an unholy
mating between Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. (Pitt didn't speculate on
Brown's DNA, actually, but had Scott lumped in with the far right).
It's not very often you see Silver and Pitt contradict like that. In
fact, I hadn't seen it before.
So I went to Brown's campaign website and pressed the button labeled
By modern standards, Brown's website is straightforward. I've seen
campaign sites where you come away without the faintest clue what the
candidate's opinion is on ANYTHING, and sometimes you don't even know
what party the candidate represents. You get vacuous homilies about
“strong national defense” (ever seen a candidate advocate a weak
national defense?) and “good education” (even Rush Limbaugh opposes
“poor education”) and American values, which are not to be confused with
Japanese values, which drive on the other side of the road.
Brown is more forthcoming then that. He has the same boilerplate listed
in the preceding paragraph, of course, opposing the collapse of America,
stupidity and Japanese driving, but he comes right out and states
unequivocally that if elected, he would vote to defeat the health care
bill in the Senate, which of course is the main item everyone is most
concerned about. You can see his views for yourself at
As far as his over-all philosophy is concerned, he's a moderate
conservative. If Silver was wildly wide of the mark in describing him as
a “liberal Republican” Pitt was wrong to lump him in with the
Teabaggers. And even though the Teabaggers are wetting themselves in
delirious joy over the possibility that he might get elected, he's gone
out of his way to avoid them, limiting his outside help to Guiliani and
not inviting people like Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck to speak on his behalf.
That makes what's about to happen to him a bit unfair. I want to see
Coakley win, but Brown will lose because people he's avoided have said
and did some pretty vile things this week, and it will cause a backlash
against Republicans that will be felt in Massachusetts in three days.
The scenes out of Haiti are shocking and sickening. This is a country
that has suffered grievously over the past century, in no small part due
to American corporate involvement in its affairs. With over half the
national wealth flat-out stolen by US corporations and their puppet
regimes in Haiti, life on that island was already the worst in the
western hemisphere, with the capital city a vast collection of aged and
ramshackle concrete buildings and shanties, the high price of poverty
and capitalism. The trouble began with a relatively small loan from the
National City Bank of New York, which gave America the opportunity to
keep a hobnailed boot on the necks of the Haitian people ever since.
Even now, Visa, descendant of National City Bank of New York, is
charging a fee on every donation made for earthquake relief there. I
leave it to you, the reader, to ask why the executive officers of
Citibank aren't hanging from lampposts.
That Haiti isn't particularly known for earthquakes didn't help, not
that the country could afford the luxury of earthquake codes to begin
with. It all came to a head with an earthquake that, in California,
would be considered a moderate nuisance that might have killed a couple
of dozen unlucky people. In Haiti, the death toll is expected to be
200,000, and might be higher. We'll probably never know, exactly.
Pat Robertson, of the “sees every sparrow fall” crowd, opined that the
Haitians had it coming as a result of a deal the country made with Satan
a few centuries earlier. The story is an urban legend, of course, but
that didn't slow down Pat any. I'm guessing he wouldn't consider the
name of that devil to be National City Bank of New York, would he? Nah.
Jesus loves the little corporations, and all that.
Then Rush Limbaugh decided that the earthquake was a big, big break for
Obama, since most of the victims had black skin, and Obama would benefit
from all those dark-skinned victims. He went on to tell people to donate
funds to private concerns (presumably, like Visa) rather than “the
government” because the government would just squander the money. He
told people not to give “one penny” to any government Haitian relief
efforts. When hit by a tidal wave of objections, he tried to buttress
his case by pointing out that the military (which, for purposes of
ideology, had suddenly stopped being a sacred cow and was now a colossal
waste of money) was sending down an aircraft carrier to Haiti, which
cost nearly $2 million a day to run. Of course, Rush neglected to
mention that the ship was, in effect, a 1,500 bed hospital, which would
give devastated Port au Prince approximately 1,500 more hospital beds
than it had after the earthquake. Pretty good deal for $2 million a day.
Faux News' top three “news shows” devoted a total of 6 minutes and 45
seconds to the earthquake over three hours the following night. Glenn
Beck devoted 17 seconds to it in his hour. Apparently Faux doesn't have
much time for dark-skinned people who make deals with the devil to
showcase government waste and “that Negro” in the White House.
The result is a fresh round of revulsion against the far right. The huge
majority of Americans are humane, decent, caring, and giving when the
need arises. The response of creatures like Robertson and Limbaugh
aren't just alien to Americans; they're alien to humanity.
So what does this have to do with Scott Brown?
Nothing. Nothing at all. There isn't a shred of evidence that suggests
he supports Limbaugh or Robertson, or shares their views on Haiti.
But he's a conservative Republican.
And even though they have nothing in common with conservative
Republicans, the leaders of the Teabaggers call themselves conservative
Republicans, and that rubs off. Even though he doesn’t seem to have
anything in common with these people, and indeed has tried to keep them
at arms’ length, Scott will pay a price, and it’s one the GOP will pay
Teabaggers are heartless, brainless bastards who are a disgrace to
America, and Scott isn’t one of them. But because the GOP let these
people preempt them and steal their political cloud, Scott pays the price.
As I said, I’ll be delighted if Scott loses. But because he’s precisely
the type of conservative that conservatives need in order to maintain
any standing in a two party system, it’s as big a loss to the country if
loses as it would be if he wins.
I've just been informed that National City Bank was taken over by PNC,
not Citibank, and has no relation to Citibank.
I regret the error.
January 21, 2010