The renovated corner office

I suppose there is some charm in working in an old office that would have been good enough for John Hancock.

Perhaps the next time a major storm or security situation threatens the Commonwealth, the Governor can whip out a quill pen and dash off an urgent note on parchment via horseback.   Continue reading

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Lincoln and Douglas Debate Immigrant Children

Obviously Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas never debated immigrant children; they were one issue candidates in 1858 and the issue was slavery. Circumstances were quite different regarding immigration in the 1850s; no one could be “illegal” since the nation had done nothing to restrict immigration. Still, the different understandings Douglas and Lincoln had of the Declaration of Independence are instructive for our current heated debate over immigrant children.

The Declaration was all to Lincoln. In Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1861 he told a crowd: “I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence….which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men.” Continue reading

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A juror’s take on the O’Brien trial

Last week,  an anonymous juror schooled a powerful Mayor while also raising concerns about due process for a powerful Speaker and federal prosecutorial power. Continue reading

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The Legislature and the Digital Divide Crisis

We are experiencing a digital divide crisis in the commonwealth of Massachusetts as it regards our legislature. We have been saluting them with only one digit when they deserve all ten digits thundering together in hearty applause. Continue reading

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PAC Sponsored “Mothers” Ad: What it Really Conveys

I’ve seen the television advertisement Mass Forward, a PAC supporting gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman, is running. It stops me in my tracks. And it does so for reasons that have nothing to do with Martha Coakley’s allegation of collusion between the PAC and Grossman campaign. The spot features African American mothers who have lost their young sons to gun violence (to view:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHAwlj-gTCk&feature=youtu.be). It urges viewers to back Steve Grossman because he supports legislation that would limit Massachusetts residents to purchasing one gun a month – something the spot says Martha Coakley opposes. The mothers of slain boys hold pictures of their sons and the spot ad with the women sitting together outside. Continue reading

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Probation Mess: Go for the Jugular, Charlie

Yesterday my colleague Professor Duquette counseled Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker to forego attacks on the Democrats over corruption. Professor Duquette’s reasoning was that an attack on the leadership in the wake of the Probation Department verdict would incite legislative Democrats to deploy their mighty organizations against Baker; thus campaigning on Democratic corruption would backfire on Baker.

Professor Duquette is wrong. Here’s why. Continue reading

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Probation Mess: Perception v. Strategic Reality in Guv’s Race

Political scientists have long been debated the relative significance of various factors in determining electoral outcomes. One debate focuses on the relative significance of turning out base partisan voters versus attracting so-called “swing” voters, or voters not wedded to casting a straight party ballot. Another angle on this debate focuses on the relative importance of voter mobilization versus voter persuasion. When media reporters and analysts cover events like the probation trial and verdicts in terms of the impact such things will have on the elections they put greater emphasis on the significance of swing voters and voter persuasion. They pretty much have to do this in order to make their work interesting and relevant to their audiences, but the campaigns of the major party statewide candidates put much greater emphasis on turning out (i.e. mobilizing) voters. To the folks running the Coakley, Grossman, and Baker campaigns public opinion about headline grabbing events, as measured in campaign season media polls, is much less important than most people (and most media analysts) assume. Continue reading

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Speaking of Immigrants

Joanna Weiss began her column on immigrant children in powerful fashion the other day: “What if the Irish potato famine happened today?” We do have that history and I’ve always marveled at how it was summarized by my late friend the Boston College historian Thomas O’Connor in his book The Boston Irish: A Political History “If there had existed in the nineteenth century a computer able to digest all the appropriate data, it would have reported one city in the entire world where an Irish Catholic, under any circumstance, should never, ever, set foot. That city was Boston, Massachusetts.” Continue reading

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The demagogues among us

There’s nothing like the fear of the other to bring the demagogues in our midst out into the open.

Continue reading

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No White Hats

The long ordeal between US Attorney Carmen Ortiz and former Probation Commissioner John O’Brien ended its trial phase yesterday with a verdict in favor of the US Attorney. Both sides as well as defendants-by-proxy Speaker Robert DeLeo and the Massachusetts legislature came out considerably diminished. It’s hard to look upon the fraudulent conduct at the Probation Department as business as usual; it went beyond that.  The US Attorney’s Office zealously pushing the limits in political prosecutions is business a usual, but unfortunately there is no Spotlight Team to stop them. Continue reading

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