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Left In Lowell » 2012 » September

Left In Lowell

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September 24, 2012

Pierce Brutality

by at 6:06 pm.

Wow…this Charlie Pierce piece is pretty brutal. Worth a full read, but here are some highlights to whet your appetite (bold mine):

It’s a bit of a mystery as to why Brown has chosen to run the kind of yob campaign that he’s currently running, even though it’s contrary to the image the country has of him, and even though it makes him look like a preposterous know-nothing. (A guy who went through law school is really appalled by what a law school professor makes in salary? Please.)

On the other hand, there are some obvious explanations. For example, for all his regular-guy facade, this is a shrewd, calculating man who is sublimely impressed with his own importance as a political figure. (Again, Paul Ryan has a similar problem.) He’s also incredibly thin-skinned. It is very likely that the notion of someone challenging him in a serious manner has offended against his sense of himself as the pivotal figure that everybody told him he was two years ago.

Kings and Queens…actually, Pierce really nails it there.

Pierce goes on to mention that Brown’s “campaign manager, Jim Barnett, is a Karl Rove acolyte.”

You don’t hire Barnett to sell your pick-up truck and your barncoat and your big happy suburban family. You hire him because you want to throw rocks. Barnett is a wartime consigliere. So is Eric Fehrnstrom. This is the campaign Scott Brown wants to run because these are the people he’s picked to run it.

That’s the role he’s decided to play, even though it’s completely dissonant with the figure he’s playing in his television ads.

Oh, just go read the whole take down, seriously, there’s too much to quote for fair use on a blog post.

Lowell Is a Battlefield, Part II

by at 12:55 pm.

Scott Brown isn’t the brightest bulb on the porch.

This is a screen grab from his latest ad:


When I drive through “Old Lowell,” I see plenty of Scott Brown & Eileen Donoghue campaign signs cohabitating the lawns. Does Brown really think he will come out on top, if he tries to force Lowellians into a “push comes to shove?”

There may be a tiny Lowell crew that giggles at the idea of putting a crown on Eileen’s head. I wonder if trying to tie Warren around Donoghue’s neck, like the proverbial albatross, will have the same fantastic results?

September 23, 2012

Lowell Is a Battlefield

by at 9:47 am.

Via Marie Sweeney on facebook, a fascinating nod to the Mill City by the Boston Globe’s Glen Johnson. Calling it “ground zero” in the Senate race, Johnson named the dueling endorsements of both Elizabeth Warren (Mayor Murphy, Arthur Ramalho) and Brown (Rita Mercier) and the failed endorsement of Micky Ward, who in a day rescinded his support of Brown after he found out his record on unions and gay rights.

I was cracking up at Johnson’s characterization of Mercier: “a pugnacious and ticket-topping politician.” Pugnacious: “inclined to quarrel or fight readily; quarrelsome; belligerent; combative.” Indeed!


It is as if the US Senate race will be decided by who is more popular at the Owl Diner, or who can tell the best story about Tarsy Poulios’s time on the City Council.

Awesome. All politics are local.

And it is true that while generally, Lowell has gone blue in past races (presidential and gubernatorial) it flipped during the special election to replace Ted Kennedy. Though I would argue the weather and timing and lack of a Democratic campaign had a lot to do with that.

(NECN also had a segment about Lowell and the Senate race on Sept 14th, though they did not, surprisingly, include any interviews with Mayor Murphy).

So if you are sitting there thinking, what can I do for Elizabeth Warren, really, well…show up for a phone bank or canvass. I went yesterday morning, where Mayor Murphy stopped by to kick off the day’s canvassing. The campaign is us - you and me. Yesterday I walked the streets in Ward 1 combing for more Warren voters. I talked to the campaign staff at HQ and they are enthusiastic and optimistic, but without volunteers they can’t do their job. Yes there’s lots of people showing up…so why aren’t YOU?

Tell you what. There’s about six weeks left to the campaign. Commit to spending a few hours some weeknight or weekend between now and then. It’s fun and you’ll meet new people, and we can beat Scott Brown by double digits in Lowell if we get enough voter IDs!

The Democratic coordinated campaign HQ is at 73 E. Merrimack St. Lowell, and the canvassing schedule on weekends generally goes: first wave at 10am, and another at 2pm. Someone is at the office from 9am to 9pm daily, though, so you can just show up and let them put you to work! There’s also phone banking, data entry, and other jobs to do, so if you can’t knock doors for any reason, don’t let that stop you. Crucially, if you can take Election Day off to help, or help the weekend or even the week before, that’s very important.

Looking forward to running into more LiL’ers at the Dem HQ! :)

Update: Just got word the official Lowell office email is lowelloffice@elizabethwarren.com. Contact them if you want to schedule your time at HQ!

Update II: Even better, I am told, is to go here, and sign up for a specific shift you want to do as they are listed on the official website. You will be able to hook into the campaign directly. If you are new to volunteering, they’ll contact you. I’ve already put in the search terms for you so you should see only Lowell events at that zip.

Knock & Talk

by at 9:38 am.

In my politcal travels, several have poo-poo’d the importance of endorsements. They are skeptical that the face of a young Mayor, or even a decidely older one, can make any difference in the voter turnout and final results.

My skeptical pals may have overlooked that there is more to endorsements than the momentary media spotlight. A popular Mayor can motivate others to engage the campaign.

Lowell for Elizabeth Warren

Room was crowded behind photographer. See all those Canvass packs? They were gone by the end of the day. More are stacked beside the Mayor for Sunday.

Now, I wrote this diary too late, so we missed the 10am canvass. But, there is the 2pm on deck:
Sunday – September 23, 2012 at 2:00 PM
Lowell Coordinated Canvass
Field Office at 73 East Merrimack Street

Canvassing is fun, btw. If you never have done it before, you’ll get paired up with a seasoned activist.

September 21, 2012

POW/MIA Remembrance: Sat., Sept. 22nd

by at 12:42 pm.

Thanks to those that Remember. (more…)

September 20, 2012

Sun Spins on Safety? Say It Ain’t So!

by at 7:45 pm.

It’s sad that instead of just focusing on the matters at hand, the Mayor and others in this city have to sit there and un-spin the Lowell Sun on top of it all. It’s not like the problems we face in the city aren’t already serious enough, right?

I suggest you go read this post by Mayor Murphy at his assistant Jen Myer’s blog in full.

Most of the post is specific refutations on specific public safety issues that the Sun has been hammering the Mayor on, but I enjoyed this part a lot too:

On the tired issue of subcommittee assignments and perceived “snubbing” of Elliott for chair of the public safety, finance and auditor/clerk oversight subcommittees, I can only say that the purpose of these is to discuss substantive issues, and that my appointments are meant to reflect a preference for workhorses over showhorses in those roles. On public safety, the Police Superintendent himself will tell you that two issues raised by Elliott last year (proposals later overturned by the state legislature and state court respectively) were a distraction from the more pressing problems we face. Elliott’s shortcomings on finance and public safety issues are crystallized in his motion a couple years ago to cut all departmental budgets–including police, fire, health and inspectional services—by 2.5%, thereby endangering federal grant funding because of reductions below the required staffing levels, and putting our community at greater risk, financially and otherwise. During the issues last fall with the clerk’s office, Councilor Elliott was absent from all four ad hoc Clerk Oversight meetings, and this February was absent from our first Special meeting on Clerk Oversight. Accordingly, these assignments were placed in more capable hands.

In short, subcommittees are not to support one councilor’s psychic need for media attention, but to do work, discuss difficult matters, hear residents’ concerns and suggestions, plan for long-term substantive changes that can impact people’s lives. I have been disappointed that these have not been widely used for policy discussions.

First Senate Debate Thread

by at 6:05 pm.

I could NOT believe Brown WENT THERE right off the bat. Whoa.

S&P: No, Trickle Down Doesn’t Increase Revenues

by at 7:41 am.

Poor Gov. Chris Christie. Coming off an awful Republican convention in which he was a keynote, Standard and Poor’s “lowered its credit outlook for New Jersey from stable to negative.” Why so? (Bold mine.)

While Standard & Poor’s did not change the state’s AA- rating — one of the worst among the states — it warned the more drastic step of a lower rating loomed if Christie’s nearly 8 percent growth in revenue failed to materialize.


“We revised the outlook to reflect our view of the risk of revenue assumptions we view as optimistic, continued reliance on one-time measures to offset revenue shortfalls, and longer-term growing expenditure pressures,” John Sugden, a credit analyst for Standard & Poor’s, said.


Christie has spent much of the year boasting of a “Jersey Comeback” — an assertion that has fizzled in recent months as state revenue has fallen short of expectations, unemployment has risen and foreclosures remain a drag on the real estate market.

What’s Christie’s risky revenue assumption? That cutting taxes will increase the state’s revenues! The Governor’s response to S&P? Double down!

Unswayed by the latest batch of economic news, Christie repeated his call for an income tax cut at an appearance in Bergen County and said it was a “joke” that Democrats had not yet delivered the cut.

I hate having to state the obvious, but…trickle-down economics doesn’t work. Cutting taxes does not increase revenues. It decreases revenues. If I get a pay cut at work, I don’t take in more money than I did before the cut.

Why is basic math so hard for conservatives to understand? Look, we can disagree, and do, about what government should be involved in and how much it should spend. But can we, please, just agree on basic freaking addition and subtraction? George H.W. Bush called Reagan’s supply-side plans “voodoo economics” over thirty years ago - he was right then, and he’s still right. Tax cuts have slashed revenues in states who have implemented them, and destroyed our national budgets. Conservatives complain about deficits but make them worse…the Bush tax cuts account for a very large percent of our deficit right now, along with his war bill, and the severe downturn he left behind him.

If I was a more cynical sort, I’d say that most trickle-down adherents actually know that what they peddle is a crock of snake oil, but they inflict the country with this policy anyway so that when the deficit inevitably balloons, they can slash the budget in places that will hurt the worst off in our country - that they really, underneath it all, mean “trickle-UP” - cutting taxes for the wealthy so their buddies can get even more gawd-awfully rich and the gap between them and the rest of us gets wider.

And a number of conservatives do know this, and do do this, aka the Norquist “drown it in a bathtub” admission. But I believe the real core of the Republican party, especially its voters, are merely obsessed with “supply-side economics” in a religious way, clinging to trickle-down dogma. You know, like when you see an interview with Tom Cruise, and the host tries to talk about the science of mental health, and Tom Cruise bounces up and down on the couch in denial that mental disease even exists, because his crazy ass religion tells him so. You can try to get him to stop bouncing and listen to the empirical evidence, but dogma prevents him from hearing you.

Well, that’s most trickle-down adherents for you. They keep bouncing, because if they stop and actually think logically, never mind view and digest the evidence against it, it would throw their entire worldview upside down, and that is a very uncomfortable place to be.

(Article via dkos.)

September 19, 2012

It’s Not Magic

by at 8:07 pm.

Warren surges in four separate polls this week; suddenly the tables have turned in a race that everyone said was Brown’s to lose. This isn’t just a simple convention bounce; we’re two weeks past…and general analysis of the internals of the polls are showing that the surge is Democrats “coming home” to Warren. A good part of that, I’m sure, is her performance at the convention. But there is a much more prosaic, basic, and boring explanation as well.

David Bernstein takes a look at campaign expenditures (bold mine).

Brown’s spending is all message, no organization. Of the $3.8 million he spent, $2.8 million went straight to “placed media” — ad buys. Another $360,000 went to direct mail. That only leaves about $600,000 for everything else.

By contrast, Warren spent $2.3 million on ad buys and a whopping $1.1 million on direct mail — which still leaves about $1.5 million on the rest.

A big chunk of that, roughly a quarter-million dollars, went to Warren’s Internet consultants.

But the big difference is payroll. The Warren campaign has a stunning 77 people on the payroll, compared to 20 on the slim Brown campaign.

Democrats in the state are going back to a very old fashioned campaigning idea. Ever since the rise of Deval Patrick, and John Walsh, there has been a resurgence of door-knocking, neighbor to neighbor, on-the-ground retail politics. Of course, that sort of thing has been happening all along, as many longtime stalwart Democratic apparatchiks could tell you, but it’s the intensity and the energy that has changed. (Technology like databases and internet and Google maps haven’t hurt, either.)

Having done some canvassing and phone banking in the last six years, I can honestly tell you that even in the late hours of the 2006 Patrick campaign, I have never seen the level of participation from volunteers as I have in the last several months of the Warren campaign. Back in the spring, there were so many volunteers showing up, that they got frustrated that the campaign wasn’t moving more quickly or hiring enough organizers to put them to work. Fast forward to September, and those 77 people on the payroll are, well, paying off.

When an enthused and excited Democrat comes to another Democrat’s doorstep and talks about Elizabeth Warren and what she stands for, you can be sure that that Democrat will reconsider any ticket-splitting they might have done in November. Democratic-leaning unenrolleds will, too. The first half of voter ID is all about figuring out who your supporters are, but it also has a side effect of convincing some voters who are undecided or thinking of voting for the opponent, due to the one-on-one conversations at front doorsteps, the personal notes left behind on literature when someone is not home, and the sheer visibility of the campaign. The more people you have out there doing the talking, the more converts you’re likely to make.

The hand-wringing is already beginning on the other side. You’ll see them try to blame “DC Democrats” imposing their will and their support and their money in this race…or the media turning against them…or just being red specks in a blue sea. They don’t see it coming, because they just. Don’t. Get it.

The thing about retail politics, though, is that you have to have a message that resonates with people where they live. In the marketplace of ideas, I don’t think you could sell people on tea-party extremism, or sell a candidate who will double down on the Blunt amendment and vote against jobs bills and water down Wall St reform but who claims to be a moderate independent.

You also need bodies. Lots and lots of bodies. Hiring people on payroll is a huge head start, but then you need a horde of volunteers under them willing to give up a Saturday afternoon or a Thursday night and walk a neighborhood. You can’t drum up enthusiasm unless you have a great candidate.

It’s not magic. It’s hard work and steady, unremarkable, persistent grunt work. Work that is ongoing and still needs doing right up until the end. The Warren campaign, by dint of where they spend their time, money, and energy, obviously gets that. It’s why they will be successful once the votes are cast in November.

(And in case you don’t get the hint, Warren peeps, please please please offer an afternoon or two yourselves if you haven’t already. Or even if you have!)

Lunch Time Heartburn 091912

by at 11:56 am.

Kendall Wallace has cashed the New Media!


When The Sun decided to chronicle the amazing transformation the University of Massachusetts Lowell has undergone in the past five years, we wanted to call it, “The Miracle at UMass Lowell.” UML Chancellor Marty Meehan cringed at the working title because Meehan, who was named to lead the university in March 2007, said every improvement from an ambitious expansion plan that includes new dorms, academic buildings, parking facilities and an $80 million Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, to burgeoning enrollment has been strategically planned by university leaders. Five years ago, UML received fewer than 3,500 applications per year. That number today is close to 10,000. Enrollment is up 37 percent in those five years, with more than 15,000 enrolled. And that increasing number of students are bringing with them rising SAT scores. Miraculous? Maybe not. But impressive nonetheless.

The word on the street is, Wallace gets the lions share of the fruit borne by the inserts. So, when you thumb through this new media insert, gander at the sponsors and imagine the tone & tenor of the “ask.” To this day, Wallace is afforded heavy tribute. Of course, Wallace Wannabe Campi, squirms behind his placard, as the vig sails right over his head.

It’s good to be the ….. King. (h/t to Sensei Tom)
It’s way better then being the Court Jester.

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