Political Happy Hour: April 19, 2017

Here’s your American flag JELL-O shot table of politics, from Joshua Miller of the Boston Globe at the Massachusetts State House.

WOW. A WHOLE LOTTA STAR POWER MISSING FROM PATRIOTS’ VISIT TO WHITE HOUSE. Check out these stunning side-by-side photos from the Twitter feed of New York Times Sports: “Patriots’ turnout for President Obama in 2015 vs. Patriots’ turnout for President Trump today”

MORE from Jim McBride of the Globe: “The Patriots officially wrapped up their Super Bowl campaign Wednesday at the White House, and they did it the way they started it — without Tom Brady. ... 34 players opted to skip the trip. In addition to Brady, other notable absences were Devin McCourty, Martellus Bennett, Alan Branch, Dont’a Hightower, Chris Long, LeGarrette Blount, Patrick Chung, Dion Lewis, James White, Duron Harmon, and Logan Ryan. ...”



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AARON HERNANDEZ FOUND HANGED, via Mark Arsenault and John R. Ellement on “Convicted killer and former New England Patriots star Aaron J. Hernandez hanged himself inside his cell at the state’s maximum security prison in Shirley early Wednesday, in an apparent suicide five days after he was acquitted of two additional murders.

Hernandez, 27, was serving life without parole for killing Odin L. Lloyd in an industrial park near the football player’s million-dollar North Attleborough home in 2013.

The arc of Hernandez’s life was short and steep. He reached the highest levels of fortune and acclaim in professional sports, only to throw it all away by shooting Lloyd, who had been his friend. His legacy in Boston sports will be one of profound tragedy.

Hernandez apparently took his own life on the day many of his former teammates were honored at the White House for winning Super Bowl 51. ...”


THE POLITICS OF HEALTH CARE CONGLOMERATION, via Ted Nesi of WPRI: “Care New England, Rhode Island’s second-largest hospital group, announced Wednesday it has agreed to merge with Brigham and Women’s Hospital parent Partners HealthCare, in a deal that could significantly reshape the state’s medical sector if regulators approve it. As part of the deal, Care New England said it will spin off long-struggling Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket ...

By taking over Care New England, Boston-based Partners would instantly become a huge and deep-pocketed force in Rhode Island health care, controlling multiple hospitals ...”

BUMP PANS IDEA OF POT PANEL MIRRORING GAMING COMMISSION, via Matt Murphy of the State House News Service: “Auditor Suzanne Bump on Wednesday panned the idea of giving oversight of the burgeoning legal marijuana market to an independent authority akin to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, questioning the model put in place six years ago to oversee the expansion of legal gambling.

‘Bad idea,’ Bump said during an appearance on Boston Herald Radio, gasping as the host brought up the topic of putting legal marijuana regulation under an independent authority.

A new committee formed earlier this year to review and recommend changes to the ballot law passed in 2016 legalizing the adult use of marijuana has been openly considering whether to strip oversight from Treasurer Deborah Goldberg’s office and pursue a different model. ...” Link via


CONTROVERSIAL ‘RATTLESNAKE ISLAND’ PLAN FOR QUABBIN RESERVOIR SUSPENDED, via Jordan Grice on “Plans to establish a timber rattlesnake colony on Mt. Zion Island at the Quabbin Reservoir have been suspended. Senator Anne M. Gobi, D-Spencer, announced Wednesday morning that members of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board voted to suspend the plan. ...”

BETWEEN THE IDEA AND THE REALITY FALLS THE SHADOW, via Tim Logan in today’s Globe: “... Two of Boston’s most historic churches are worried about the effect of shadows that would be cast by a pair of towers planned for atop Back Bay Station. They’re asking city and state officials to reconsider the project and have the support of the state office charged with protecting historic buildings. Trinity Church and Old South Church are among the organizations protesting plans by developer Boston Properties for the two buildings — 365 and 298 feet tall — along Stuart Street at Back Bay Station. ...”

CAN ELECTIONS LIKE GEORGIA’S HELP PREDICT FUTURE RACES? Come for the analysis, stay for the flashback to the 2010 Massachusetts US Senate race, via Jonah Engel Bromwich of the New York Times: “The congressional election in Georgia this week was billed as having potential national implications ... It seems likely that the same will be said for scattered upcoming special elections ... But political scientists and pollsters who analyze races for a living say that so-called bellwether races are tricky to evaluate ...

David Paleologos, the director of the political research center at Suffolk University in Massachusetts, said that national analyses were often in danger of missing facts on the ground, viewing candidates as vessels of broader Democratic and Republican ideologies, rather than politicians with distinct views informed by local issues.

He recalled the Massachusetts special election of Senator Scott Brown, who defeated the Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, in January 2010. When Mr. Brown came from behind to surpass Ms. Coakley, forecasters took it as a signal that other long-held Democratic seats in Massachusetts were about to fall. But it didn’t turn out that way.

‘Brown’s race turned up a big fat zero goose egg for the Republican Party in the congressional races that year,’ Mr. Paleologos recalled. ... He concluded that ‘it was not fair for people to report it as this big Obama backlash that Brown was riding,’ and said that Ms. Coakley herself ‘bore the brunt of responsibility’ for the loss. ...”

O’REILLY OUT AT FOX IN EXTRAORDINARY FALL, via Emily Steel and Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times: “Bill O’Reilly has been forced out of his position as a prime-time host on Fox News, the company said on Wednesday, after the disclosure of settlements involving sexual harassment allegations against him. His abrupt and embarrassing ouster ends his two-decade reign as one of the most popular and influential commentators in television. ...”

YOUR MBTA-DELAY LONG READ, a great profile of CNN’s Jake Tapper, via Taffy Brodesser-Akner in GQ: “... It’d be easy to think that the Jake Tapper WTF Face — that unique look through which he transmits his seeming disbelief and outrage — is just a singular expression, that it’s just one face. In fact, the Jake Tapper WTF Face contains multitudes.

There is the JTWTFF that is a mere frown, the depressor supercilii muscles creating a hood over his downward-turning, disappointed eyes. There is the JTWTFF wherein the muscles you’d most associate with the apples of the cheeks rise to his eyes while his eyebrows reach skyward toward that hair. Me? My favorite Jake Tapper WTF Face is the one where his eyebrows arch but also corrugate into small bowl-shaped caterpillars, and his frontalis, the muscle of the forehead, rises and lowers at the same time, all of which forces his glabella to form a very satisfying omega sign.

While so many anchors feel obliged to maintain their Ron Burgundy anchor-y-ness, Tapper allows an incredulousness, and maybe even a smidge of disgust, to sneak on through. In those moments, when he augments the standard newsman persona to include his own come-off-it realness, he has a way of embodying all of us. This may be his biggest public service. ...”



Back tomorrow.

Joshua Miller can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos and subscribe to his weekday e-mail update on politics at