Washington's Latest: Haiti, Health Care, and Massachusetts Special Election

Monday, January 18, 2010

From the ongoing relief efforts in Haiti to the continued health care reform process - including a possible big complication should a Republican win the Massachusetts Senate special election tomorrow - this is a big political week. Washington Post political reporter Philip Rucker discusses the latest.


Philip Rucker

Comments [54]

Lee from TN

Voter from Brook: Sorry, wrong again. @50 you write "The same caller BTW". You might want to go back and hear the piece again, the first caller was Francine railing on the vast right wing misinformation campaign and the second caller was Nancy from Boston.

Jan. 18 2010 07:53 PM
Lee from TN

Voter from Brook: You still haven't provided the details of the alleged mass murder conspiracy that Obama is perpetrating that was put out by some, as yet unidentified, Fox personality.

Jan. 18 2010 05:52 PM
Lee from TN

Voter from Brook: @50 you say "Now that the substantive truth, nee misinformation, of that “Massachusetts liberal hack’s” statement has been shown and validated" Please provide the verbiage from H.B. 5102 that validates the statement "He actually voted to allow convicted violent felons to carry loaded, hidden handguns on city streets" in violation of Federal law.

Jan. 18 2010 05:48 PM
Lee from TN

Voter in Brook: Now back to the original topic, I went back and listened to the show a second time just to make sure I heard it correctly. Here is the quote:

"I know about this vote that Scott Brown cast when he was, um, a state representative so before he was senator. He actually voted to allow convicted violent felons to carry loaded, hidden handguns on city streets."

This statement is blatantly false. The bill that he voted for in 2002, that you correctly cited, deals with some wording around the definition of a violent felon presumably in order to differentiate an armed robber from say, Bernie Madoff. The fact of the matter is that there is no law anywhere that supersedes the federal statute, which you also correctly cited, that clearly denies the right to own a firearm to all convicted felons, violent or not unless the convicting state takes action to expunge the conviction, no conviction, no felon. I don't see how much more clear this needs to be for you.

The caller, Nancy, was simply propagating the misinformation put out by the left to smear the republican candidate and scare the public while complaining about the misinformation put out by the villainous Fox News. No different than you are doing when you say that anyone with two brain cells to rub together actually believes that Pres. Obama is involved in a conspiracy to commit mass murder against the elderly population of the county. That is much more absurd than the caller's claim that Brown knowingly, willingly, diabolically voted to bypass federal law and put firearms in the hands of 'violent felons on the street' but no less dishonest.

Jan. 18 2010 05:34 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Lee from TN,
@ 21 you posted “You had the first Mass. caller on who railed on Fox News for their 'misinformation' then a few secoonds later some Mass. liberal hack that railed on Brown for 'voting to allow violent criminals to carry hidden weapons'. Now, where is the misinformation here ?” (The same caller BTW)
You attacked a commenter/caller on a non-news talk show for not citing her sources and besmirching Fox News’ good name.
Now that the substantive truth, nee misinformation, of that “Massachusetts liberal hack’s” statement has been shown and validated, you’re splitting hairs over Fox News the cable network and website—home of Beck, Palin, O’Reilly, Van Susteren, Fox and Friends, Hannity, et al.—still “Fair & Balanced” mind you, and the occasional news cast on the editorial heavy Fox News television network.
Maybe I missed it when the news on Fox news vociferously disavowed the Birthers, corrected the former president and vice president for connecting Saddam Hussein to 9/11 and exposed the lies about so called death panels. Maybe, but I doubt it.

Jan. 18 2010 05:28 PM
Lee from TN

Voter from Brook: And how did I get classified as a Fox News viewer anyway? Are you the liberal media God who judges who is a Fox News drone and who is a loyal liberal media follower? Is this not a WNYC blog? Seems kind of funny to me that I would have any knowledge of what was said on the Brian Lehrer show if I was sitting around having my mind programed by watching Fox News.

Jan. 18 2010 05:00 PM
Lee from TN

Voter from Brook: I'm tempted to not even honor your question with a response. Anyone who would fact check anything as outrageous as the 'facts' you cite clearly needs medical attention to have their head examined. I've never heard anyone accuse Pres. Obama of being part of a conspiracy to commit mass murder and if I did I would assume that person is either high or just plain stupid. What are you refering to anyway? Glenn Beck?? Please, are you joking? Even Fox News itself markets that show as an opinion column, not news.

Its not my job to defend Fox News but I'm curious, have you ever actually watched any program other than Glen Beck on Fox News to base your claims on? If so then please provide me with the program, producer, reporter/commentator, and date that these accusations were made on Fox News and I'm happy to post on the appropriate blog at Fox that I think they are quack jobs.

Jan. 18 2010 04:54 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Lee from TN,
The bill in question is 2002’s Massachusetts H.B. 5102 supported by the NRA (rating Scott Brown an A) and GOAL (rating Scott Brown an A+) meant to in the words of the NRA-ILA “roll back all of the oppressive anti-gun measures imposed by the legislature in 1998” and in the words of GOAL (Gun Owners Action League) will “Changes the definition of a "violent crime" by removing the language that makes every crime punishable by more than 1 year a "violent crime". This removes most misdemeanors from the terminology.”
Mind you, the federal standard is someone "convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year."
Without getting any further into the weeds on this one, the caller’s claim is effectively true.
Now, the question I have for you is how often do you or any of Fox News’ viewers fact check the “news” and editorial claims made on the channel.
To this day people believe Saddam was responsible for 9/11, Obama wants to kill their grandmothers, that death panels were in the health bill, and that the President just plain hates white people and America… So I guess not that often.

Jan. 18 2010 03:58 PM
Lee from TN

Voter from Brook: That is absolutely correct. Otherwise any convicted felon 'violent' or otherwise can not even be in possession of ammunition according to federal law. But even that point only illustrates that a State COULD enact legislation that would create process for an individual to have his or her record expunged and thereby legally POSSESS a fire arm. In fact this process already exists under federal law as any person can petition the state Governor for pardon, thus restoring that person's rights. That said, none of the above has anything to do with conceal and carry permits. The caller's statement was that Brown voted yes on a bill that allowed 'violent felons' to conceal and carry a firearm. So, is the caller suggesting that Brown voted yes on a bill that expunged the records of or granted pardons to every 'violent felon' in the state of MA ? What about the non-violent felons ? Do they get the pardon too or is it just the violent ones ?

Jan. 18 2010 02:37 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Lee from TN,
In short, if a pro firearms MA senator wants to introduce legislation that would allow the restoration of rights to someone convicted of let’s say… felonious assault, it is possible. That would be a state’s rights issue and the federal law appears to acquiesce to the state’s prerogative in regards to state-issued firearms permits.

Jan. 18 2010 12:51 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Lee from TN,
I am NOT an expert on Massachusetts’ or any other states’ gun law but from a quick web check has revealed the following (feel free to fact check it):
‘Anyone who has been convicted of a felony is banned by federal law from ever possessing “any firearm or ammunition." Specifically a person "convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year"’ per 18 U.S.C 922(g)
18 U.S.C. 921(a)(20) provides: "Any conviction which has been expunged, or set aside or for which a person has been pardoned or has had civil rights restored shall not be considered a conviction for purposes of this chapter, unless such pardon, expungement, or restoration of civil rights expressly [or implicitly as a matter of state law] provides that the person may not ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms."
Meaning that a state can restore a convicted felons’ right not only to possess but (as Mass is a “may-issue” state) carry concealed.
The law on felons who wish to legally possess firearms isn’t as clear-cut as “no they can’t”.

Jan. 18 2010 12:43 PM

Brian, why immediately use a right wing argument to the first MA caller about mis information saying, "Isn't that elitist?" Do you listen to NPR? I heard two teabaggers being interviewed just a couple of days ago. The man informed us that the cause of the current economic mess was a transfer of wealth from the middle class to foreigners via foreign aid. He also told us that the health care bill represented "Nationlistic Socialism."

Here in NY ABC is right next to NPR on AM radio. You can hear daily how Obama, with whom I am not happy, is basically a Nazi. It is now fact that global warming is a hoax. And of course, we should not give money to help Haitians because Obama just wants to curry favor with light and dark skinned minorities. Do you really think it is elitist to call this misinformation or even propaganda? Why play that kind of devil's advocate?

Jan. 18 2010 12:31 PM
Lee from TN

mc #36, I still fail to see how any legislation that Brown could have voted for in any way makes it legal for a convicted felon to carry a concealed weapon or how intentionally weak legislation would lend tacit support. It is illegal for a person convicted of a felony to even own a gun in the first place. Ever heard of the background check when purchasing a gun ?

I am simply asking the question who is putting out the misinformation here ? The caller from Mass. with the statement about Brown's intentional support for violent felons legally carrying guns or the Fox News contributor who reports the fact that Mass. Vermont and Nebraska collectively receive $1.2 billion in Medicaid subsidies that other states do not.

Jan. 18 2010 12:07 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

And Lee from TN,
Rhetorically pointing out an omission in legislation (which I would tend to agree could very well be intentioned knowing the views of the pro carry lobby and its ties to the political Right) is not misinformation. Especially on an issue such as this were very little is left to chance many feel any restriction is a restriction too far.
If the caller was making things up from whole cloth (as Fox tends to do realizing most of their viewers will not fact check –such as the recent R. Giuliani’s claim re: the “underwear bomber” that no terrorist attacks or attempts happened under Bush 43 after September 11th—claims heard on the news cast or during the editorial programming) then I would be more inclined to agree with you.

Jan. 18 2010 12:02 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

But Lee,
You’re either missing the caller’s point or woefully ignorant of what gets broadcasts on Fox News with a straight face.
Examples such as:
Obama hates white people…
Obama doesn’t care about Americans (in the context of protecting them from terrorists)
The proposed healthcare bill wants to “kill grandma” and has “death panels”
Supporting the Tea Party’s taxation without representation arguments (by saying they need to change the representation they do in fact have in federal government)
And on and on and on…
There is a marked difference between supporting legislation that could very well allow a convicted felon to legally carry a concealed handgun if they choose to get a permit and saying that someone wants to kill your grandmother or that there is no representation in a representational democracy because the representatives that support your view are in the minority.
Honestly, part of the problem is that Progressives all too often fall into the habit of using neutral matter of fact language when their opponents are using highly vitriolic rhetoric. When Progressives do use the same language, they are accused of being divisive partisans.
Appeals to the mind often fall on deaf ears when the viscera is in play.

Jan. 18 2010 11:49 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Lee from TN: #38, fair enough. I hate broad strokes. But the issue of the carry permits is a fair one in my view, when it comes to this election.

Jan. 18 2010 11:39 AM
Lee from TN

Voter from Brook: Of course not, that is the point. Those were the words of the caller from Mass. I am simply pointing out that this caller makes that very statement in one breath and then derides Fox News for 'misinformation' in the next breath.

Jan. 18 2010 11:32 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Lee from TN,
No sane politician would write legislation saying “Henceforth violent criminals shall be permitted”; however, intentionally weak or vague legislation that does not explicitly infringe on what people consider to be and individual right of a citizen who may also happen to have been convicted of a felony (the way I’m using intentionally sympathetic language) is lending tacit support to potentially violent or volatile people having concealed weapons.

Jan. 18 2010 11:15 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Lee #34, but at least if there is no permit, and the person is caught with an illegal weapon, violence can be prevented by the gun being confiscated and the person charge with illegally carrying.

Jan. 18 2010 11:13 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Lee from TN: Well, of course, if anyone says that anyone who disagrees is peddling misinformation, that would be an opinion too. Both sides are guilty of this.

Re: concealed weapons: the language likely is "violent felons" which does have a legal definition in most states. The question seems to be around whether or not someone with a record as a violent felon is excluded from a law allowing concealed weapons carry permits. As you might see from Voter's posts, apparently endorses Brown.

Jan. 18 2010 11:10 AM
Lee from TN

And while we are on the topic of violent criminals legally carrying concealed weapons, I must have been asleep when the violent criminals started applying for permits to carry their weapons. If I were a violent criminal it just might occur to me not to apply for a permit that alerts the police to the fact that I now have a weapon.... could be just me butseems like common sense.

Jan. 18 2010 11:06 AM
Bipolar from The Garden State

I grew up in Massachusetts. I laugh when both out of state liberals and conservatives take so much comfort in declaring Massachusetts a “liberal state”. It could not be further from the truth. Remember the riots caused by busing urban black students to all white schools in the suburbs? That wasn’t in the 50’s or 60’s. That was in 1975! Even today, go visit Boston. It’s a beautiful city. But its also hands down the most segregated city in the Northeast. Busing is still alive and well because the suburbs are just as segregated as Boston. We are officially called “Bay Staters”. But since we are so twofaced we truly do deserve to be called “Massholes”.

Jan. 18 2010 11:05 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Voter #27: I actually don't know your reasons, so I was basing what I said on past posts that I have read from you. However, that was probably flawed reasoning on my part because, obviously none of those past posts dealt with this specific subject.

That said, I agree completely with your whole 1st paragraph in post #27. They thought that once the primary was over, the election was over. Maybe this scare will wake them up. I do worry, however, about what will happen if Brown wins. I am not completely happy with the legislative history of this congress, but I am fairly certain that I am happier than I would be with the alternative.

I would really love a fact check on the Brown concealed weapons vote. However,'s support of him seems ominous to me.

Jan. 18 2010 11:04 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Mark from Williamsburg,
Your comment that the plurality of Americans are against the healthcare bill parrots Fox News in that it implies they are against the proposed for the same reasons. The Fox reasons. Many find the proposed unacceptable because they believe it does not go far enough, not because it they believe it goes too far.
You can’t debunk misinformation using misinformation.

Jan. 18 2010 11:03 AM
Lee from TN

MC, of course anyone is entitled to their opinion. My point exactly, why is it that anyone with a DIFFERENT opinion from the liberal is peddling 'misinformation'.

As for the law that Brown voted for making it legal for 'violent criminals' to carry concealed weapons, feel free to produce the legislation that reads 'violent criminal' and 'legally carry a concealed weapon'. Wouldn't such a state law violate federal law anyway ?

Jan. 18 2010 10:59 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Dear BL show: re:#25, my apologies. Your efficiency was so dazzling that I missed it.

Jan. 18 2010 10:58 AM
Mark from Williamsburg

A caller complained about Fox. Sadly, she's been conned into believing only Air America, CNN, and NPR have the facts. The Democrats in Massachusetts are too self-assured. They need a wake-up call. If Brown is elected, this will motivate the politicians to adjust the current plan which is unacceptable to 68% of Americans from both sides of the aisle.

Jan. 18 2010 10:56 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

MC, I’m interested to hear why you agree, albeit with different reasons.
I’m going on the fact that the Democrats all but phoned it in until the 11th hour and underestimated the Cosmopolitan nude centerfold cum likely Mass senator. This is a pattern with Democrats and since they’ve ignored many who helped bring them into power, I won’t weep for them when they ask “why” in 2010 and 2012.
Also MC, I’ve been looking for the state bill on concealed carry to show that there is a difference between saying Obama is a Nazi supporting death panels and plotting the death of America and a Republican state senator supporting concealed carry permits that would allow convicted felons to be secretly armed and I haven’t found it yet; however,—a pro concealed and open carry website—strongly supports Scott Brown.

Jan. 18 2010 10:53 AM
mc from Brooklyn's definition of a run-off: An election that is held when two candidates have each failed to get the percentage needed to win in a previous election.

This is not a run-off election.

Jan. 18 2010 10:51 AM
mc from Brooklyn

WNYC, did I hurt your feelings when I made the criticism of the title of the segment?

[[MC, you didn't offer a criticism. You pointed out an error, and we fixed it. Thank you!
-BL Show-]]

Jan. 18 2010 10:48 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Lee from TN: Re: the person's Fox News comment--doesn't she have a right to her opinion?

Re: The Brown state senate vote--do you have a source showing that this is not true?

Jan. 18 2010 10:44 AM
isa kocher from istanbul turkey

unfortunately as the party of no. the republicans have proven that they DO eat their children, and that they do not love government by the people FOR the people. they bankrupted thge nation to enrich and entitle themselves at the cost of the developed world's highest rates of infant and maternal mortality. That is what they call right to life"let poor motherds and poor children die tyo give health corporations record profits. the developed world's highests rates of preventable deaths, child abuse violent death all preventable by health care not death care. are we not eating our children and destroying democracy by driving business off shore and giving corporate bureaucrats complete control and record profits, while having the worst medical outcomes in the developed world? tes republicans do eat our children and do hate our American way of government.

Jan. 18 2010 10:40 AM
ANDREW TIPTON from Rockaway, NJ

Remember the McCarthy hearings ? Well, I think the sight of Republicans filibustering complete with cots and and sweating shirts would just about do that party in . .. I truly believe that they underestimate the extent to which the U.S. population wants a beginning at reigning in this medico-industrial complex, no matter how imperfect the first laws.

I agree wholeheartedly with Robert/Manhattan about the inequities of a national vote STOLEN with 49% of the vote vs. the 60% requirement for legislation. Really it should be the other way around.

Martin/ Harlem and Isa/Istanbul -- DITTO

Jan. 18 2010 10:37 AM
Lee Davidson from TN

I listen to your show stream daily and today was more disturbed than ever. You had the first Mass. caller on who railed on Fox News for their 'misinformation' then a few secoonds later some Mass. liberal hack that railed on Brown for 'voting to allow violent criminals to carry hidden weapons'. Now, where is the misinformation here ?

Jan. 18 2010 10:35 AM
hjs from 11211

the real shame is how quickly we forget, we just voted out the party of deregulation that brought us this nightmare.

Jan. 18 2010 10:28 AM
mc from Brooklyn

linda: I hear you but what is the alternative at this point?

My sister lives in MA. She said a letter writer to the Globe suggested that if the health care bill gets filibustered that they should force a real filibuster, complete with cots, debating 24/7, all for public consumption on C-Span. Not a pretty sight. Make them do it.

Jan. 18 2010 10:27 AM

Mass. General Law:
Section 35. Bay Staters shall be the official designation of citizens of the commonwealth.

Jan. 18 2010 10:26 AM
john from the office

You would think the Taliban might be elected in Mass. Republicans are americans, who love their county and don't eat their children.

Jan. 18 2010 10:25 AM
isa kocher from istanbul turkey

how they pass it whatever they pass, pass it. or we all better start studying chinese. if this doesn't pass whatever it is, it will be the turniung point in our nation. the triumph of selfish corporate power over government of thge people by the people for the people. triumph of government by corporations for profit if health care doesn't get passed.

Jan. 18 2010 10:24 AM
Robert from Manhattan

correction to what I just wrote ...

if the answer is NO, then I appeal to those attacking this process from the left to desist.

Jan. 18 2010 10:24 AM
Robert from Manhattan

First, it is an absolute disgrace that a wider margin is needed to pass a bill in the Senate that the people who stole the 2000 election would have needed to perform their dirty work.

That said, I have a substantive question. If Brown wins, can the House vote to endorse the exact bill already passed by the Senate? And ... since that bill will already have been passed by the Senate ... would a second vote by the Senate even be be needed?

If the answer is yes, then I appeal to all attacking this process from the left to desist. As Joe Biden recently wrote, if this effort fails there may not be another chance for health reform for another generation or more!

Jan. 18 2010 10:23 AM
linda from brooklyn

brian, you read my mind. i was just thinking that i half hope that the republican wins just to defeat the useless health care bill. i'm really torn, though, because i'm very liberal.

Jan. 18 2010 10:23 AM
Martin from Harlem

Contrary to what your guest from The Washington Post states, I believe the Democrats would pay a greater price in the Fall by appearing unable to govern. They need to get it done even if the House goes ahead and adopts the Senate plan.

Jan. 18 2010 10:22 AM

FWIW, I've always heard "Bay Stater".

Jan. 18 2010 10:20 AM
Lloyd from Manhattan

Coakley will win with 56 percent. Brown is just a product of the media in search of a story

Jan. 18 2010 10:20 AM
Josh from Brooklyn

As a longtime Massachusetts resident, I can tell you that someone from Massachusetts is called a "Bay Stater."

(Definitely not a "Massachusett."

Jan. 18 2010 10:19 AM
Gary from Upper Left Side

Brian, they call people from Massachusetts--Massholes. No kidding.

Jan. 18 2010 10:19 AM
Frank from Queens

Aren't Massachusetts voters being hypocritical? They have health care via a state program and they want to prevent others from having similar benefits in other states through a federal program?

Jan. 18 2010 10:19 AM
ANDREW TIPTON from Rockaway, NJ

A "sneak" vote that precludes a Scott Brown participation is just as ethical as a filibuster. The Republicans should be making legislative efforts instead of blockage and pure-lie propagandizing. Since when is the "will" of the people defined by 41 votes anyway?

Jan. 18 2010 10:18 AM
mc from Brooklyn

I'm afraid I have to agree with Voter from Brooklyn, though likely for different reasons.

Jan. 18 2010 10:18 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Again, the DNC is a day late and a dollar short.
The party will be in for a very rude awakening in 2010 and 2012 for taking voters for granted.

Jan. 18 2010 10:15 AM
Leo in NYC from Staten Island

If the conference committee adopted the Senate bill as written and the House passed it word for word as it passed the Senate, the bill wouldn't have to go back to the Senate. (But that'll never happen.)

Jan. 18 2010 10:14 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Listener from Marine Park may be confusing "reconciliation" meaning merging a House bill with a Senate bill with "reconciliation" meaning bypassing a filibuster in the Senate by passing a bill as a budget resolution. Apparently the latter is not possible now.

Jan. 18 2010 10:13 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Have the MA Dems paid a price for the somewhat hypocrital move to hold onto the seat temporarily.

Jan. 18 2010 10:10 AM

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