Left In Lowell

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June 5, 2012

“Actionable Intelligence”

by at 6:19 pm.

Pardon me while I spike the ball. This is a (another) “Huah” moment. Ne Desit Virtus (”Let Valor Not Fail”)

Senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan on Monday, US officials say.
Abu Yahya al-Libi, variously described as daring and charismatic, was becoming a familiar face to the jihadist movement through his appearances on the internet.

American counter-terror analysts have long argued that killing individual al-Qaeda leaders degrades the organisation by forcing the promotion of less experienced operatives. Drone strikes, they say, make al-Qaeda look vulnerable and undermine its global standing.

Behind the drone operations, of course, lies an unseen intelligence operation which fed US commanders knowledge of Libi’s whereabouts. We can’t know how that worked, but we can speculate that it involved the use of satellites and drones to track militants, listening stations to intercept their communications and agents on the ground to provide first-hand information.

The reach and apparent effectiveness of US intelligence in the region may well be as of much concern to al-Qaeda’s leadership as the death of their comrade.

Washington believes that following Osama Bin Laden’s death last year, Libi, an Islamic scholar from Libya, became al-Qaeda’s second-in-command after Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahiri.

If I’m gloating, it’s not as a soldier. It’s as an “Obama Democrat.”

Don’t be a chickenhawk! Vote Democrat in 2012.

November 10, 2008

Greater Lowell Turnout

by at 9:23 am.

For those who had been wondering and had not seen Dick Howe’s post, he has the town turnout stats. Lowell only got to 61%, while surrounding towns got into the 70s and 80s. Tsk, tsk.

November 8, 2008

Anatomy of a Great Campaign

by at 10:15 am.

As many of you know (ad infinitum), I have done some work in support of a few candidates this cycle, and in particular, for Jen Benson (Representative-Elect, 37th Middlesex) and Obama in NH. Now it is time to analyze the experience and share some thoughts I had in doing it.

Jen was running against a very negative candidate, who was willing to lie and distort her record and her positions, not only in his own literature (some of which he didn’t bother to even label as from him, due to some loophole), but also in the local media. Though this seat was previously held by a progressive Dem, whose values Jen shares, it was by no means a slam dunk that she would win this election. There are several small towns in the district, many of which go Republican as much as Democrat.

I arrived a week and a half before Election Day to do my afternoon of phone banking for Jen, as promised, and took up a packet or two of Unenrolled in Harvard, MA. I didn’t say it then (for “stategery” reasons), but I felt really good about Jen’s chances after that day, both from the results of the phone bank and from watching her campaign in action.

First, the phone numbers in the packet were about as good as I’d ever seen. Maybe it’s a town with less transient residents than our area, but I scarcely got a bad number all day. So that is lesson #1 - get the best phone/address lists you can possibly get. It wastes less time for your volunteers, for one. Secondarily, I didn’t find a single supporter for Kurt Hayes the whole time (and no one else there that day did either) and plenty for Jen. So that made me feel pretty optimistic.

But the real reason I am writing this post is the campaign I witnessed on Election Day itself. That day, I met campaign manager Mike Mackin, who was running the show from Benson HQ. I found out that he was something of a rookie in the position; but I can tell you, he certainly was not acting like one.

The campaign had a strategy that ran like a textbook grassroots program: by the time election day had rolled around, they had canvass- and phone-banked-ID’ed your typical likely Dem voters, your Unenrolled, and even, the so-called “Lazy Dems” - the infrequent registered voters. Now, the Benson campaign had the fortune of landing in a presidential year, when more voters typically show up, as well as in Obama’s year, when turnout reached record levels, even in our “safe Obama state.” I suspect Jen did get a percentage point or two more because of this effect (though she still would have handily won). However, that does not mean that this campaign wasn’t prepared for any turnout scenario.

What struck me was that they had, along with GOTV calls and visibility outside the polls, observers at every polling place checking off the voters who had come in (which is allowed). The plan was that they would compile a list of the Benson-ID’ed voters by early afternoon who had not yet voted and send out a squad of canvassers knock on the doors of these supporters, asking them personally to come out and vote. I myself was on the list of volunteers scheduled to canvass. Now, by happenstance and a good year for Dems, so many of those people had come out to vote that the afternoon canvass became unnecessary. But the volunteer canvassers were lined up to do their jobs should they be needed.

I had a similar experience with the Obama campaign in NH - this was an expert campaign in an atmosphere that can, and often is, very chaotic. They too ran a completely traditional, grassroots campaign where boots on the ground matter more than money in the bank (though money helps hire organizers). They had the right emphasis on the former, such that the latter (the small donors) snowballed into record amounts of donors and donations.

It was evident to me from both my experiences with the Benson campaign and the Obama NH operation that they had planned and executed a great grassroots strategy to get out the vote. And in both cases, this was coupled with a positive campaign that just kept plugging along with its message no matter what the Hayes or McCain campaigns barfed up; you can see why Jen did so well in the 37th Middlesex, and Obama in the electoral college. If our goal as progressive Democrats is to elect more and better Democrats, we also want more and better campaigns. To my eye, that’s exactly what we got with Jen Benson and Obama, and I can sincerely say they both earned their wins last Tuesday.

Last of all, I want to say congratulations to Jen Benson and to Mike Mackin. They should be really proud of the campaign they waged. (And they probably will sleep for a week!)

November 7, 2008

Photos That Will Make You Cry

by at 11:35 am.

This is what we voted for, folks. (HT: Mr. Lynne)

Update: Sweet. The grownups are in charge again! (HT: BMG)

Just as an aside, the fact that we’re sort of peering into the transition team, it sort of reminds me of the public involvement in the Patrick transition…a very empowering process. Now, let’s see if we can keep that up both here in MA and nationally.

November 6, 2008

Stuff We Had A Right To KNOW!

by at 12:40 pm.

NOW we get to hear about just how dangerous and uninformed Palin REALLY was? NOW? So much for the public vetting a candidate.


Thanks media, for hiding this from us. (Via BMG).

November 5, 2008

Ouch for State Republicans

by at 1:39 am.

Can it really get any worse for them? Really? Losing three seats in the legislature, meaning state Republicans hold only 16 of 160 seats total?

You know, if you stopped running hard-right, anti-gay wingnuts that are far outside the mainstream of Massachusetts voters, you might actually get somewhere. Unless you like being the size of a single committee of the state House. *shrug*

(And if you ask me, we already have plenty of “checks” in the legislature with conservative Democrats like Rep. David Nangle. Frankly, I’d love to see them switch parties to more reflect their voting record, but that’s not going to happen while the state Republican party is as impotent as Bob Dole before the invention of Viagra. Talk about a losing side!)

Yaywhee on Ballot Questions!

by at 1:12 am.

I don’t think I ever explicitly came out to say in linear fashion where I stood on the MA ballot questions, though individually I had things to say about them.

With 83% precincts reporting, the ballot questions have gone the way I could have wished, with absolutely fabulous resounding margins that make me proud to be from Massa-freakin-chusetts:

1. Repeal the income tax?
Winner No: 69%
Yes: 31%

2. Decriminalize marijuana?
Winner Yes: 65%
No: 35%

3. Abolish dog racing?
Winner Yes: 56%
No: 44%

Yay for sanity (Q#1), superyay for the dogs!, and…yay…for the pot heads?

Question #2’s margins totally caught me off guard. Who knew MA voters felt that strongly on this? Certainly, the compelling ads from law enforcement making the case must have had some impact. I think it’s a sane, pragmatic route to take and I think we see a mandate there for better ways of dealing with marijuana possession and possibly, CORI reform.

On Question #1, I just am flabbergasted by the margin of loss. These are margins you see in a John Kerry/Jeff Beatty race (scratch that, more people voted No to Q1 than for John Kerry).. I think we can safely say that the close call on this issue from 2002 where 45% voted for it is safely beat the crap out of. Thank whatever lord you believe in.

November 4, 2008

Local Dems Win Big

by at 10:45 pm.

Jim Arciero wins, as does Jamie Eldridge, 56% to 44% (28 of 52 precincts reporting) and Jen Benson, 56% to 44% (10 of 11 precincts reporting) according to Boston.com.

Election Day 2008 Open Thread

by at 8:46 am.

Your friendly neighborhood open thread. Gimme a report from your polling place! How’s turnout in Lowell?

I’m in Lunenburg’s only polling place with Jen Benson visibility. There’s been 6-10 people here holding signs for Jen and Obama, as opposed to 0-3 people for Kurt Hayes, if that’s any indication.

More encouraging, though, is the turnout…locals say that the very (and still, now) steady stream of voters has been incredible even for this politically active town.

Update: here, as of a little while ago, fully 20% of Lunenburg voters had already shown up to vote.

Update II: Don’t forget, if you want to join me at the Brewery Exchange on Cabot St, I’ll be there after the polls close, by 8:30pm. If someone brings a laptop with cell modem access, even better, because there’s no wifi as far as I know. There’s some interactive maps on dkos that I’d love to keep track of while returns are coming in. :)

Update III: Holy smokin’ voters! By 11am, Acton had seen 30% of its voters turnout, and get this!!! Lunenburg, by noon, was just under 50% turnout!!!!! I am at a loss for words!

Update IV: Word on the street says that people in the SecState office is reporting they expect a 76-77% turnout statewide. Whoa.

We might even have a real democracy around here! GoBAMA!

November 3, 2008

Election Night At The Brewery Exchange

by at 3:41 pm.

Tomorrow after a hard and full day on the campaign trail (I’ll be down in Eldridge/Benson territory), I think it’d be cool if any LiL’ers wanted to meet up to watch the election returns. I am guessing that this will be much less of a let down than the last two. I plan to stay up nice and late. :)

So local Demcrats, if you want to come and watch the election returns on a huuuuuge screen, come to the Brewery Exchange, 201 Cabot St in Lowell. I like the Brewery because of the setup they have on the second floor, it’s pretty nifty. Say, around 8:30pm or so?

PS - I will try to post election day updates tomorrow via PDA. If I have enough phone juice, that is. :)

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