Left In Lowell

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October 9, 2007

Post-Live Blog Commentary

by at 9:36 pm.

*still fuming at computer*

Some general impressions from the very active, quite bloody, MA-05 debate tonight.

OK, Thompson is delightfully kooky and off the deep end, but entertaining, fairly articulate, except when he gets into a libertarian screed…then he talks a mile a minute and sounds really kooky.

Hayes is a Republican (even unto the war) but running independent. Sure, he can say so, I suppose. He’s somewhat articulate, I think actually would have made a better Republican candidate than Ogo turned out to be.

Ogo made a total ass of himself, again not answering the damn question on the SCHIP veto. What’s more, he answered the question on how he’d deal with gangs with making Bush’s tax cuts permanent. And and big WTF to him?

Murphy did good, he really needs to leave off the forced “Kennedy oratory style” he tried to get away with in his closing and opening statements. I dunno how it came off on TV, but it didn’t work in person. He’s at his best when he shows off his understanding of the question he’s asked, because he really has come a long way in being comfortable doing that, and he does actually answer the question. Patrick also had several instances of rebuttals that cut, especially when Ogo tried to get away with equivocating (which he did all night) on Social Security.

Ogo scored a couple points maybe (honestly though, he sounded like a walking Republican talking point), but he lost far more. He really seemed clueless. For instance, he does understand that he can’t go to Congress and rewrite a bill that’s already passed, right? I think he said at one point (regarding the SCHIP veto override) that that will take a whole two weeks to get to that override vote - if he were in Congress now, he’d be working to redo the provision that (he thinks) will let all the undocumented workers get free health care (uh, ok). Right. Because rewriting the actual bill and going through committee and then getting it on the floor won’t take three or four months. *shakes head* Clueless. And if he’s not clueless and knows better, he’s a dishonest person.

Niki Tsongas stayed focused, answered questions (unlike Ogo) and with some exceptions where I more agree with Murphy than Tsongas on specifics, is a true Democrat who understands the stakes. The biggest disappointment I’d say on her performance is that she fell into the “have to say I’d support funding for the troops because Republicans will say I’m anti-troop if I don’t” equivocation. It’s not even politically dangerous to say the words “cut the funding” now, folks, it’s what the American people want.

BMG also covered this live and has post-debate commentary.

OK, Fine, I’m Liveblogging

by at 7:00 pm.

The candidates just walked in, and I’m all wired up, so I guess that I am liveblogging.

Run Politics is here, doing some real cool live stuff including online submitted questions and an intriguing “View upcoming questions” that is a mystery to me, so check it out.

Watch it live (online), by the way, at any of these links listed at BMG. WBZ WUML (91.5FM) is also airing it live! Right now! Also LTC Channel 8 if you’re in Lowell.

OK the Run Politics thing is really funky! You can rate the candidates as they answer…check it out, click on the Dashboard in the Run Politics site.

Opening statements: Patrick Murphy: didn’t raise money for race but for charities in this race. I didn’t know that. Seems politically shaky but interesting idea. Shared sacrifice act. Will accept no larger salary in Congress than 5th district average, no heath care.

Kevin Thompson: Talks about monopoly, Democrat controlled Congress, misleading statement about tax and spend Dems, who got thrown out in 1994…uh…Clinton and the Dems cut some spending, notably in the industrial military complex. Talks about how handing the reigns over to the Repubs didn’t work.

So far he’s not mentioning how the Constitution Party is really conservative, far-libertarian, Instead focuses on constitution…well, all well and good. Talks about unborn rights - there we go, there it is.

Ogonowski: starts with bio. General puppies and lollipops. Congress broken, election referendum on Congress. Claims like everyone here to be for real change. Immigration reform, “does not include amnesty.” Wants to cut taxes permanently.

Hayes: pretty articulate, good speaker, clear, talks about extremists that have taken over party. There’s that change motif again. Again, no mention on his actual political philosophy, just how the two parties are poisonous.

Tsongas: Change again. Goes right into children’s health care, “set record straight” SS- against raising age, against amnesty, for bringing troops home on timetable. Back to SCHIP, 200K live here in MA that need this CHIP program. Good, mentions bipartisan nature. Hammers on override, how she will vote for it.

Q to Murphy: If elected, what would be your top urban priority?
create environment for econom dev, can’t just bring one project home. Good answer so far, incentives for small biz. (My question - what are the conditions and how do you create them?)

Q to Niki: Would you vote in favor of more war spending?
Never vote to advance the surge, will always however vote to support troops on the ground. (Why do Dems fall for this one every time?) Is for timeline for troop withdrawal.
Thompson: Cut funding, force president’s hand, not getting another dime. He is quite emphatic.
Murphy: Shared sacrifice act
Ogo: Iraq was mistake. (And it isn’t now??) Support for safe stable Iraq (how’s that going?) (Ogo is telling us what makes military sense…does he make any?)
Hayes: Irresponsible to set timetable. When we pull out, need Iraqis to fill vacuum. Want to get troops back eventually to just training and support of Iraqi forces.

Q for Ogo: If elected, your first vote could be re: SCHIP, made opposition to bill clear, have not answered question how you will vote. Of not why?
If I was in Congress today, I would be working with them to put together bill to put together better bill. Fraud abuse yadda yadda. If we override veto take two more weeks. (Is he insane? Does he know how Congress works for heaven’s sake?? Like his plan would take less than two weeks?)
Abstain from vote?
(Ogo does NOT answer question. Repeats Audience responds to moderator who asks Matt Murphy of the Sun, did you get a response?)
Hayes: Would override. But this is example of partisanship (yeah, Ogo is insane, why shouldnt Niki call him on it??)
Thompson: Twostepping issue, for sustaining issue. Against socializing medicine, he lies about who qualifies (400%? Is he smoking something?)
Murphy: Would override. Question is why will there still be children uninsured…need single payer (yes, yes we do)
Ogo: SS admin: current proposal would allow illegals to use it. If this was out of bill, would be for. Niki why don’t you call all your friends in DC and tell them to take that out of the bill (yeah, very mature)

Which do you prefer: current tax system, flat tax, fair tax, etc?
Murphy: Simplify taxes, repeal Bush tax cuts, close loopholes.
Thompson: No taxes at all. (Haha, he’s just going into a rant now, I can’t type fast enough, he’s just off and running).
Ogo: In favor of making tax cuts perm. Misleading number on how much people got ($4K? All right, the average is maybe, but not what average wage earner got)
Hayes: if you take 10% of people who make 50K, it’s painful. 10% from a millionaire, is a lot of money, 100K, but that person is not in equal pain as 50K person.
Niki: Repeal bush’s tax cut for wealthy. 450K or above, that is not your average american, is 1% of US. Keep tax cuts that benefit middle Americans.

Q to Tsongas: Can you tell us what is your position on illegal immigration?
I am opposed to amnesty, tough border security. Need to know who’s coming in or leaving. Hold employees accountable. Also need to address problem that’s here. Millions are here, support earned path, need to learn English, pay back taxes. This is complicated problem. Ogo has no real solution to this problem. Earned path to citizenship will solve problem.
Ogo: Amnesty, amnesty fence fence. Pathway to citizenship is amnesty. (Got a dictionary, Jim?)
Hayes: Path or amnesty, am against it.
Thompson: same answer. Enforce law. Fence.
Murphy: earned path, or else you cannot effectively deal with people who are here. Reaons people come here, need to rework our trade policies which hurts them in their home country (thanks!)

Q to Ogo: Street gangs…wat would you do?
Puppies and lollipops, make government work. Keep tax cuts permanent. ??? (how the hell does tax cuts help gang violence??)
Thompson: state and local issue not fed. Deporting 12M illegals will be first good step.
Niki: Marvelous program in Lowell, UTEC, getting out in the streets with afterschool programs. Education, early on, fed govt has to be partner with education. Funding. High cost of loans preventing people from college.
Hayes: Enforce current laws (law and order…yeah cuz that’s worked so well so far). Fully fund NCLB, incentive to teachers to teach in hard districts.
Murphy: Need afterschool programs, avenues for children to pursue, work programs in summer, so many things happen when people can contribute. Keeping tax cuts perm is not going to help anything with gangs in Lowell.

OK just lost my whole damned liveblog. And people wonder why I never do it?

I had some really good comments too. Stupid blogging software…

I’ll post more reaction later on, when I’m no longer fuming at my computer. But this was a seriously lively debate, watch it archived later on, it was worth coming tonight.

Yeah, “You,” 2006 Person of the Year…Ask!

by at 1:01 pm.

As Tony says. Go put some good questions down (and vote on others) ASAP for this debate tonight for the MA-05 race, the last debate we’ll have before we vote next Tuesday.

Me, I’m going to try to be there in person, barring life getting in the way, instead of watching on TV or internet. Should be fun, after all the dissembling we saw from Ogo last time around on NECN. I actually think I like the Constitution Party candidate better than the Republican! At least he’s internally consistent, and actually answers questions. Plus, he’s got the traditional conservative view that we shouldn’t be in this Iraq war adventure and should get the troops home.

UPDATE: Ooooooh…wonder if I’m gonna get thrown out like David and Charley? Ha!

Ogo’s “Number One Issue” - Not So Much

by at 12:32 pm.

David digs through Ogo’s press release archives (clever boy) and observes a notable dearth of “immigration” as Ogo’s concern, before July. As I’ve already said, it appears that inside-the-beltway consultants from the Republican party have taken over Ogonowski’s message and campaign, and David agrees. So much for the outsider, independent Jim Ogonowski, eh?

So, what makes anyone in their right mind think Ogo’s going to make independent calls if he gets to Washington, DC after next Tuesday? He’s already failed that test. (He can’t even run a campaign independently.)

Bernstein On Ogo’s Ad - And More

by at 10:37 am.

David Bernstein over at Talking Politics has a great post articulating how Ogo has misstepped in this race by allowing, or seeming to allow anyway, the national Republican party to dictate what his campaign should be doing (a point I am making, not him).

Once you get past immigration, though, Ogonowski’s kinda screwed — which is a big reason why, in last week’s NECN debate, his answer to pretty much every non-immigration policy question was: “I don’t know, but there should be a bipartisan, non-bickering process to figure out the best solution.” […]

This is why SCHIP has posed such an existential crisis for his campaign. To put it plainly, in the SCHIP showdown, voters think that Bush is WAY more wicked suckier than the Congressional Democrats.

This is awfully bad luck for Ogo: who the hell knew that Congress would get together in a non-bickering, bipartisan fashion, and work out an imperfect but undoubtedly positive bill on a mom-pop-and-apple-pie issue, and that George Bush would veto it in such a grotesque fashion that polls show 85% of the public wants him overriden — a mindboggling level of public unanimity usually reserved for questions like “should the US try to prevent Iran from arming anti-American terrorists with nuclear weapons?”

If Ogonowski says he would vote to uphold the veto, he’s taking Bush’s side in the galactic struggle of good vs. evil. If he supports the override, he’s conceding that, contrary to the entire basis of his campaign, the Democratic-led Congress is the solution, and Bush and the obstructionist Republicans are the problem.

Nicely analyzed, and about what I’m feeling about this race though he puts it a lot better. Go read the whole thing.

October 8, 2007

Don’t Like “Illegals”? Don’t Eat, Then

by at 9:31 pm.

Do you like your cheap fruit and veggies, the ones that keep your family healthy without breaking the bank? Maybe you ought to take a look at this post by Dick Howe.

The L.A. Times article says that three out of four workers on American farms are illegal immigrants. That means that if you roam around saying things like “what part of illegal don’t you understand” and then consume produce grown in the USA, you’re a hypocrite. You’re also an enabler of illegal immigrants because it’s the money you spend on US produce that pays the salary that draws them into the country illegally. So shop around, be sure to buy grapes only from Mexico and lettuce only from Honduras. That’s the only way you can get your private life in sync with your public stance on immigration and purge yourself of your hypocrisy.

Like it or not, undocumented workers are part of our system, and they have kept the price of food down. Now, there’s a debate to be had as to whether or not exploiting people’s labor for below minimum wage without labor standards and depressing American wages as a result is moral or right or even good for America, but if you are a rabid deport-’em-all type then you’d better stop eating, or…we could just label you a hypocrite if you like.

Who’s Calling the Shots at Ogonowski HQ?

by at 2:16 pm.

This sounds like standard Republican lying and fear-mongering - not to mention, smearing an opponent. And did I mention lying?

Does anyone else think that the so-called “independent” “I’m-not-a-Bush-head” Ogonowski is getting a little direction on his campaign from somewhere else…like, the national Republican party hacks who made immigration their main focus in the last couple of years?

Nothing splits the Republican party but riles up the base like hatin’ on undocumented workers, while beloved W. Bush, and before him, Ronald Reagan, among others, have taken the business-friendly stance of allowing a path to citizenship for the millions in this country who escaped poverty in their own lives by any means necessary in order to work hard and give their children a better future. Now, Bush and Reagan, like most conservatives, could care less that undocumented workers are exploited by corporations…but they prefer allowing them to stay because business plans depend on the source of labor, in particular for menial jobs that they don’t want to pay much for. But the end result - a saner policy on immigration - is laudable.

Like Democratic hacks who claim being like Republicans wins elections (it doesn’t, but it brings in large corporate donors), the Republican consultant class thinks they have a one-size-fits-all winner in demonizing a group of very vulnerable people and making them the scapegoats for all the personal troubles of their base.

We’re supposed to believe that suddenly, immigration is the pressing issue here in the Merrimack Valley? No, I think this tactic is because of advice from afar, about 450 miles away to be exact, from the Washington D.C. Republican consultant class. And to link SCHIP to immigration (when in fact there is no link anyway) is an attempt to parry scrutiny over his recent reluctance to answer the damn question about overriding Bush’s very unpopular SCHIP veto in the House.

Ogo’s playing to his base…a base that would have voted for him anyway. This is red meat for them, to urge them to get their unmotivated butts to the polls on October 16th. I hope that even though MA-05 trends more conservative than most of Massachusetts, we can see through such horrible tactics, the lying, the hate, and the coverup, and send Niki Tsongas to Congress instead. Volunteer, or donate.

Ogonowski and the “immigrant issue”

by at 12:32 pm.

Over at Blue Mass Group, there is a hot debate on Ogonowski’s position on immigration and his campaign’s attack of Niki Tsongas, accusing her of being in favor of “amnesty.” I do not know what that word means anymore.

He may win some votes in the 5th District by distorting the Tsongas position but he and his campaign, knowingly or unknowingly, areplaying on the fears of some of the electorate. Foreigners, outsiders are the easiest target to blame for any social ills or economical difficulties we may be experiencing. And I think that is what is happening.

This past Saturday, I was listening to a local radio station. And a number of Ogonowski supporters called in during the discussion on the 5th District Congressional race. This is some of the statements made by those callers (and challenged by the hosts) about “illegal immigrants”:

“They crowd our emergency rooms looking for free healthcare that is eventually paid by us; they are taking jobs away from us; they do not want to learn English, we should make that our official language”

I do not doubt that Ogonowski is a decent man but this is the kind of rhetoric his campaign is generating. Do these people who may have xenophobic tendencies think that by sending Ogonowski to Congress, he will help resolve the “immigrant issue?”

The question is what to do with 10-12 million people who came to this country on a temporary visa, and then stayed for economic opportunity and to be with their family. What is his answer to this problem? Simply saying those who “broke the law” should be sent back to the country of their origin is not a responsible, feasible and realistic plan. Is this his idea of “immigration reform?”

Back in March when the campaigns began for the 5th District congressional seat, I never thought that immigration was going to be the issue dominating the race. But here we are, a week before the election and this is what we are talking about. What happened to the War, healthcare, the economy, jobs?

And one more thing, Lowell’s population is about 103,000. U.S. Census estimates that about 22.9% of that population is foreign-born and that 37.7% speak a language other than English at home. Those of us who fall into that category, sometimes get confused when we hear that kind of talk; we hear “illegal” but we also loudly hear “immigrant.” We are sensitive like that. And by the way, we are citizens and registered voters.

October 5, 2007

Blue Mass Group Unceremoniously Dumped from Debate

by at 7:33 pm.

Because newspapers never endorse candidates. The logic of this escapes me:

Charley and I are at the NECN studios to cover the MA-05 debate, which starts in a few minutes. We were sitting in the TV studio with the candidates and a couple of reporters getting ourselves set to watch and blog the debate.

Until a second ago. We were just unceremoniously hustled out of the studio because “our organization” had “endorsed Tsongas.” So now we’re in a conference room watching the large-screen TV.

I asked whether, if the Globe had endorsed Tsongas, they would be permitted to sit in the studio. No answer.

If indeed it was at the request of Ogonowski as David thinks, wow. That would mean he can’t tolerate differing views. (By the way, did he get his entire platform from GOP talking points?). Not that Ogonowski has shown much tolerance in general, what with his stance on immigrants (does he realize his platform of “deport them all” is not only really expensive, imminently unpractical, not to mention quite stupid economically?).

I’d really like NECN to answer the question about why David and Charley were not allowed to blog from the actual debate. It seems like they would have had the final say. I mean, I suppose a hissy fit from a candidate isn’t pleasant, but you could always disinvite him.

Back to the debate, which is on NECN now…SCHIP…there’s some talking points from Ogo. Niki points out the bill as it is does actually ask for proof of citizenship. Well done there.

UPDATE: David confirmed it was Ogo who evicted the two biggest local bloggers in MA. What a tool.

UPDATE II: FYI, live blogging at BMG. Check out multiple threads there. That’s where I’m hanging out while listening to this.

September 22, 2007

Did the Auditorium Commission Make a Mistake?

by at 7:42 pm.

In today’s Sun, Matt Murphy reports on the vote taken by the Auditorium Commission that will allow a Tsongas campaign-sponsored political rally featuring former President Bill Clinton as well as a fundraiser but then “but passed a motion that stated this event would be the exception, and not the rule.”

What? What does this mean? This will not hold up under public scrutiny and I wonder what the courts would say, if this was ever challenged. Now that this event will take place, it leaves the Auditorium open for such events for others. It is the only fair thing to do. We cannot allow one mistake to be corrected by another mistake.

If you did not read Murphy’s first article in the Sun, here is the link.
There are two issues involved with this “controversy.” First, the method by which the Auditorium was reserved for a political fundraiser and second the propriety of having such an event in that building which historically has not allowed political fundraisers to take place there.

The Tsongas Campaign is not to blame for this mix-up; those selected to represent the City’s tradition and interest, who made a poor judgment are to blame.

Forgotten in all this is that a very popular ex-President is coming to Lowell and that his presence should draw a significant crowd and some nice publicity. (Note: Republicans, please keep your anti-Bill comments on this blog to a low-level.)

For those of you who are planning to come to Lowell to hear the former President, the trip is well worth it. I heard him at an open air political rally in 1996. The man is a phenomenal public speaker; one of America’s best. By the way, Lowell is having its annual Open Studio that weekend, so come in a bit early, bring your checkbook and contribute to our cultural economy; have something to eat, buy gas and do not forget to park at one of our municipal garages

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