Monday, November 5, 2012

Tomorrow's election (How I'm voting, and why)

This is a crazy election season. I was quite confident a month ago that Obama would cruise to re-election. This despite an economy that, under normal circumstances, would absolutely sink an incumbent. Maybe it's just propaganda, but I've sensed a lot more confidence from the Romney camp, than the Obama camp, in the last week. It makes me a little nervous. My gut tells me that Obama pulls it out.

For president, I'll vote, tepidly, for Barack Obama. I was a somewhat enthusiastic Obama voter last go around. I loved the "new level of cooperation and openness" he promoted. I'm still waiting for it. On cooperation, it's clear he didn't get any help from Republicans, but my sense was that he didn't try very hard, either. On openness, he's failed all on his own. He also promised to allow 5 days of public comment before signing a bill. Another failure. He wouldn't hire lobbyists. Oops. He promised that I wouldn't see any increased taxes. That one went away when he shrunk my healthcare FSA. So why vote for him? As near as I can tell, Mitt doesn't have any core beliefs. At least none that aren't easily changeable. I have to ask which Mitt we will get. It's too scary a question for me. I think I'd like Mitt better on the economy, but I KNOW I'd like Obama better on most (not all) social issues. I'm taking the devil I know. ( I should add, I'd have voted for Gary Johnson  above Mitt, and probably really line up better with him than Obama.) One final reason I'm voting for Obama, and it's a theme you'll see continue throughout, is that I'm a big believer in split government. The only thing scary than the Democrats in complete control in DC, is the Republicans in complete control. There is no question that the Republicans will maintain control of the house. It's highly likely that the Democrats will continue to control the senate. On the off chance (and really, it's very, very small, regardless of Warren vs. Brown) that the Republicans take the senate, I NEED a Democrat in the White House.

For senate, I'll again vote for Scott Brown. I was an enthusiastic supporter of Brown's last time around, but that had a lot more to do with Martha Coakley than it did with Scott Brown. I attended Fells Acre Nursery School as a child. I knew and loved the Amirault family. To see why the only time I wouldn't literally urinate on Coakley is if she was actually on fire and I might put it out, read this, and the linked pieces. Elizabeth Warren is a much better human being than Martha Coakley. At the same time, I can't imagine her breaking with her party on anything. She also describes herself as a rock-thrower. Washington has enough hyper-partisan lockstep politicians of both stripes already. Scott Brown promised to vote his conscience, and break with his party when it made sense. He's largely delivered on that promise, to my surprise. Ask hardcore Republicans about Brown, and they deride "that RINO" (Republican In Name Only). We'd all be better off with more RINOs and DINOs. That's the cure for our Washington dysfunction.

For US house, I'll vote for Richard Tisei. See above. Tisei is a heck of a lot more likely to work on good ideas when the source is "the other side," than John Tierney. One only needs to look at Tierney's record to see that. Plus, a pro-choice, openly gay, pro-gay-marriage republican? MA should send that person to the Republican congress. What fun. Again, the way to fix the dysfunction in Washington is to get rid of the partisan idealogues. Tierney, like Warren, is one of them. Consider this: every major paper in the district except the Gloucester paper has endorsed the Republican, and even the liberal Boston Globe has picked Tisei as their token. Let's hope it works out better than the Globe's last token, Mary Connaughton, who lost the auditor race to a woman exposed before the election as a tax cheat. But that's Massachusetts for you. When you throw in John Tierney openly lying to us over and over again about his "wife's family problems" it becomes a no-brainer.

On that subject, let me say that in any other state I'd be a hard core democrat. I don't know how anyone can do that in Massachusetts, where absolutely everything is dominated, and poorly, not to mention corruptly, run by the democrats. I normally refuse to vote for democrats for statewide office, because we absolutely need a little more balance. I'm making exceptions for Joan Lovely, and John Keenan. I like Joan, I've covered the reasons before. I usually don't vote for Keenan. I either blank or write-in a neighbor. Mostly I do this because Keenan is all too happy to play the corrupt game. (See his support of since indicted Sal Dimasi for example.) When the speaker is under investigation, and it's clear that an indictment is coming, and it's actually becoming a tradition, I lose respect for you when you go along with that. So why am I voting for Keenan? Simply, I think he's done really good work protecting Salem in the wake of the Dominion announcement that the power plant was going to close. I gained some respect for him there. For the first time, I'll fill in his oval. I will lose some respect for both he and Lovely when I learn how much they collect in per diems next year, for making a commute that thousands of Salemites make on their own dime every day. So anyway, in MA, I'm one of the great unenrolled, who has always leaned to the left, but who is having a harder and harder time doing that because of MA democrats.

Questions 1-3: Yes to all. Boring. That's all I have to say about them other than this: what happens when the first person takes advantage of question 2, and the relatives go to file a life insurance claim? Suicide is excluded from just about every life insurance policy ever written. Will they pay? Should they? It will be vaguely interesting to watch that play out. On question 3, why aren't we just legalizing and taxing?

Question 4, the dreaded CPA:

It's important to consider who is for and against an initiative. In this case, the single biggest supporter of the initiative is Mickey Northcutt. So who is Mickey? He's the Executive Director of the North Shore Community Development Coalition. The first point in the mission of NSCDC? "We are committed to creating housing that serves low- and very low-income residents." One key provision of the CPA, which Northcutt neglected to dwell on when he addressed the Derby Street Neighborhood Association, is that annually, at least 10% of the CPA funds collected need to be set aside for affordable housing. Don't we have an awful lot of that in Salem already? Aren't we one of a handful of communities statewide that has already reached (and exceeded) our mandated 10%? Yes, we are. Northcutt's involvement gives me great pause.

Who opposes CPA? Well, the really vocal ones frequently seem like tea party animal "UN Agenda 21" wing nuts. I hope I'm wrong about that. The outlandish claims of the opposition also give me pause.

Here's the problem for me. The CPA law is near-perfectly-written extortion. "Pass it, and we'll give you free money," said the state. I'm good at math. I like free money. I even like parks, open space, recreation, and historic preservation. Because I'm good at math, I also know how expensive affordable housing can really be to those footing the bill. See? A dilemma.

Should I put faith in our leaders that they'll keep the affordable housing component to the minimum the law mandates, and will use it for upkeep and capital improvements on existing properties, rather than development of new units? I think several of them would like to limit it that way, and they'll all face immense pressure to do so. Of course, poster child Northcutt may not appreciate that.

Will I notice the $11 a year or so that this will cost me? No. Do I notice the larger tax burden that this adds to? Absolutely. Does that total burden impact my lifestyle? Yup. Do I see this as prop 2.5 end around? Yup. Do I loathe the idea of voting myself a tax increase? Yup. Am I going to? I've really written this entire blog post to decide what to do on Question 4. I think the answer is that really begrudgingly, probably while spitting, yes, I think I'll vote yes on 4. If our elected officials misinterpret 4 passing (I still think it won't) as voters endorsing widespread tax hikes, know that I'm coming for you. If you take that as an endorsement of increasing affordable housing stocks, I'm coming for you. I also reserve the right to change my mind on question 4 when I hit the voting booth tomorrow. If I do change my mind, I'll let you know.

Most importantly, go vote.


  1. In regard to question 2:
    The proposal states that the death certificate would list the underlying terminal disease (not suicide) as the cause of death.

    This is the toughest question on the ballot as far as I'm concerned. I do think terminal patients should have the right to die with dignity. I'm just concerned this particular proposal doesn't have enough checks and safeguards.

  2. I certainly respect that you're voting for Tisei and Brown. And they are relatively centrist by Republican standards today. Which isn't saying a lot. But here's why I disagree with those choices:

    For starters, I do believe Tierney when he said he had nothing to do with his brothers-in-law. I've seen enough family dynamics to understand that, at worst, he might have tried to not know. I'm also certain that in the same light, he had no role in their actions. That's pretty easy to figure - if there were any sniff of it the DOJ'd have been on him like white on rice.

    Taking that out of the equation, I then ask: Has Tierney done a poor job as a Congressman? Does he deserve to lose? And looking at the things he brings to the district, the constituent work he does, and his position in the leadership along with his seniority, and the answer to me is clearly "no, he isn't doing a poor job".

    So it's easy for me to vote for him. Were he actually implicated directly in this mess I might have changed my tune, but that isn't the case, and his wife's already served her time for helping her brothers out.

    As for Scott Brown, I said my piece on my "official" page, but he's the one who's been relentlessly personal and negative from the get-go. The guy he plays on the "Scott Brown Report" that plays on WEEI is not the Scott Brown who showed up for the debates, or runs the relentlessly personal ads that have been playing since June. And the bipartisan Scott Brown isn't the one who shows up when it counts. I agree with you that I despise Coakley, and for the same reasons you do (though I didn't grow up here). And because of that, I sat out the 2010 special election. Not this time.

    I guess in the end my biggest issue is with the Republican Party. In a different world I might not have an issue with Brown and Tisei. I've met Tisei and frankly I like him personally. But the Republicans, to their credit, move in lockstep when they want to. And they devoted the last four years to trying to destroy the President, with absolutely no reaching across the aisle, in order to get to their goal. I want to punish them for that. I want to salt the earth their campaign offices are set up upon. I was a fairly non-partisan Democrat until the Republicans made me one, and I blame them for that. There are many Democratic issues I differ with - but when the Republicans have been in power the Democrats have tried to work with them and find compromise points. Not the other way around.

    And for that to someday change, Republicans have to lose. Lose big, and lose often. The Democrats are too disorganized to ever destroy the country the way the Republicans are trying to.

    And thank heavens that come Wednesday, the only ads on TV will once again be for crap I don't want to buy.

    - Josh Turiel

  3. Here's the thing. Republicans aren't going to lose big and often any time soon. The way to change that party is from within, by sending the Browns and Tiseis into their midst. If people like us don't moderate the Republican party it will continue to be hard right religious zealot dominated, and it will continue to have plenty of influence.

    As for the negativity in the senate race, I think you're wearing your partisan glasses a bit. Warren's camp has had no problem lying about, and distorting his record at every turn, from the get go. Has he been way more strident than before? Absolutely granted. The fauxcahontas crap is particularly miserable. If you laughably painted me as the leader of a war on women, I'd be pretty strident too. If the bipartisan Brown doesn't show up when it counts, you're basically saying that Warren's crowning achievement doesn't count. Without his bipartisan vote it wouldn't have passed. Surely you don't really mean that, right?

    Tierney has produced very little in 16 years in office, and even the Globe calls his claims that he knew nothing of Antigua straining credulity. My big problem there is that he's pissing on us and telling us it's raining. I'd respect him more if he'd just say "It's my wife's family, what did you expect me to do?"

    I'd respect him even more if he'd attempt to compromise and work across the aisle just once in a while.

  4. Also, I'm glad the adds end tomorrow. My guess is we don't know the presidential result for 10 days. I hope I'm wrong.


Don't forget, keep it klassy!