Friday, September 29, 2006

Deval in Watertown Saturday

I just got confirmation this afternoon that Deval Patrick will be attending the Watertown Faire on the Square, tomorrow, Saturday Sept. 30th sometime around 12 noon. Unless I'm mistaken, this will be the candidate's first public appearance in Watertown since he begain his campaign over a year and a half ago.

I will be at the Deval Patrick booth most of the day, so come on by and say hello!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Why Detainee Treatment Matters

There's plenty to talk about here in Massachusetts, but as the issue of detainee treatment has been revisited in the news lately, I'm reminded of the following story from my family.

During World War II, one of my great uncles flew on missions to drop supplies behind enemy lines for the Belgian Underground. On one such mission, his plane was shot down by Nazis, and he ended up in Belgium, taking cover with the resistance. He was eventually captured by the Germans and sent to a prison camp. The following passage is from the book Someone Will Come for You, which tells the story of the crew of that particular plane. This is what happened to him after he was captured.

He had spent ten months in captivity and wanted to return to normal as soon as possible. Whilst a prisoner he had been fortunate to have one of the guards show a great deal of kindness to him and other POWs. The guard was an old soldier with only one eye and was christened 'Popeye' by the prisoners. 'Popeye' had a son who was a prisoner of the Allies and often wrote to his father saying how well he was being treated. 'Popeye' accordingly looked after his charges, giving them extra food and blankets and trying to make their lives a little more bearable.
That is why how we treat our prisoners affects the lives and safety of our own troops. My uncle was treated well because we treated the Germans well. We won't be able to say the same for those captured in the future.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Cool Kids Hang Out Behind the Risers

I'm liveblogging from the Deval Patrick victory party for Blue Mass Group. Head on over for news from there as it happens.

I even managed to wear my shirt the right way this time.

Primary Day

Today's primary day, so remember to get out and vote! Polls are open from 7AM to 8PM, but vote early because it may get wet in the afternoon. I won't make any predictions, but my hope is that Deval Patrick's grassroots operation (of which I am a cog) will win the day for him. Anything could happen, though, and while the polls have Patrick ahead, we have plenty of experience in Massachusetts with candidates coming from behind at the last minute.

I don't know what an "endorsement" from a blog really even means, so I'm just going to lay out who I'm voting for tomorrow and why.

Governor: Deval Patrick
I've been volunteering for Deval Patrick's campaign for it seems like ages. I've never volunteered for a candidate before. After the 2002 and 2004 elections and the 2005 town council races, I decided that it was time to stop sitting on the sidelines. If a candidate I like loses, it's not going to be because I personally didn't do enough.

Better people than I have described why they think Patrick is the best candidate, so I won't try to duplicate their efforts. I will repeat something I remember him saying during one of the many speeches or interviews he's done over the course of the campaign. He talked about meeting with a group of business leaders who complained to him that every time that politicians set up one of those meetings, the same half-dozen or so faces were there. Unless I'm misremembering, Patrick was the first one to bring a different set of people to the table. That's how I feel about Massachusetts sometimes. We're so focused on looking inward for solutions that we miss out on input from other sources. I feel like that's Patrick's campaign in microcosm. He's the breath of fresh air and injection of energy after staring out at the same faces for far too long.

This is the election to go for it. The way Republicans have won in the past was to woo disaffected Democrats and center-right independents to vote in the Republican bloc. Thanks to Christy Mihos, there is a safety valve this year. Those who have read this blog for a while will know that I've done the math. If even a small percentage of those Democrats and independents who decline to vote for a Democrat end up with Mihos, the Democrat will end up winning. If Mihos runs even a semi-credible campaign, and with Bill Hillsman doing his ads, that is likely to me, Healey will have very little margin for error.

Lieutenant Governor: Tim Murray
I went back and forth on this quite a bit. Andrea Silbert is a great candidate, but I'm not sure that she balances the ticket with Patrick as much as Murray would. At the end of the day, I'm just not comfortable having two candidates on the ticket who are running for their first elective office. Silbert is very good, though, and I would hope that she would find a position somewhere in the Patrick administration (not to count my chickens). I was impressed by Deb Goldberg the first time I saw her, but I have to admit that her full-page ad to the Brookline TAB complaining about their endorsement pretty much closed the door on her for me.

Secretary of the Commonwealth: John Bonifaz
I just had the following conversation with my wife:

Her: I think I'm voting for Bill Galvin.
Me: Why?
Her: Well, I know Bonifaz is good on voting rights and elections issues, but the Secretary of State's job is more than just that. He seems like a one-issue candidate.
Me: I agree. But, he's not going to win the primary. Voting for John is a great way to send a message to Galvin that voting issues are important to you without having to do your due diligence on the other aspects of the Secretary's job.
Her: Good point.
Me: Plus, I don't like how he ducked out of doing any debates.
Her: Okay, maybe I'll vote for Bonifaz after all.
That convinced her. How about you?
Middlesex County Clerk of Courts: Michael Sullivan
I hadn't given a second thought to this race until I saw the fake jury summons Bruce Desmond was sending out to primary voters. That was a big turnoff. Sorry Bruce, you should have stuck with the lit drops.

I will be guest posting today on the esteemed Blue Mass. Group from the Patrick post-primary party. The blogfathers made me an offer I couldn't refuse! Stop by over there to get the bloggers-eye view of primary day, or just to say hi.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Quick Thoughts on Tonight's Debate

Reilly did better than he did on Thursday, but expectations for him were so low that he'd have to. He asked the strongest question of the other two, but Gabrieli punted and Patrick gave an answer Reilly wasn't expecting and sounded completely lost.

Gabrieli did not seem to get the irony in bashing Patrick for wanting to re-think the 1993 compromise on charter school funding and in the next breath talking about how we needed to do-over the health insurance compromise that passed just last year.

Patrick really missed an opportunity by asking his opponents an open-ended question about their negative ads. That was tantamount to flat-out asking them to bash him for five minutes. He's a lawyer. He should know to never ask a question he can't control the answer to.

The hands-down winner of the debate: EdPrisby.

Boston Drinking Liberally Candidates Night Tonight

The folks at Boston Drinking Liberally wanted me to pass on information about tonight's New Members & Candidates Night at Globe Bar & Cafe in Copley Square. Two candidates in the Second Suffolk's write-in primary are planning to drop by. Incumbent Senator Dianne Wilkerson (D) is scheduled to stop in from 6:30 to 7:30, followed by her Democratic challenger Sonia Chang-Diaz at 8:30. They'll also be watching tonight's gubernatorial debate. Sounds like fun!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Evening Tidbits

  • I got polled by SUSA on the gubernatorial primary this afternoon at work. It was a recording of Joe Shortsleeve (favorite newscaster name ever, by the way), who read off the questions, and asked for push-button responses. I imagine the poll results will come out in the next few days.
  • I got a call today from a source saying that Treasurer Tim Cahill is endorsing Deval Patrick for Governor. From the sound of it, Cahill is also going to be offering the Patrick campaign some logistical support, so while the endorsement may not matter much in terms of publicity, it might help get people on the phone for Deval in the next week.
  • Lambda, the Harvard Law GLBT organization, is co-sponsoring a debate between the democratic candidates for governor tomorrow, September 12 from 1:45 pm to 3:00 pm in Ames Courtroom. The debate is free, open to the public and will focus on LGBT issues, though there will be no public Q&A at the end. Both Deval Patrick and Chris Gabrieli have confirmed their attendance.

Thoughts on 9/11

The day before I was born, a man scaled the face of the World Trade Center, tower 2. That event was captured on the front page of the next day's New York Times, a version of which was framed and on the wall of my bedroom from as early as I can remember until I left for college.

The first time I remember going to the top of the World Trade Center, we went with my mother's cousin who was a Port Authority Police officer. We went up in the freight elevator, which was almost as exciting as what awaited at the top. I got two souvenirs from that trip. The first was a brochure with a picture of the towers on them and the legend "The Closest Some of Us Will Get to Heaven." The other, I still have:

Some kids had pennants of their favorite baseball team in their rooms, I had a pennant of the World Trade Center.

We went back years later, before I entered high school. This time we had to wait in line, as our cousin had since retired. On the observation deck, I stared out at Manhattan, straining to see if I could make out my grandmother's house in the Bronx.

The last time I was at the top of the World Trade Center was in 1999. I had started work in IT for an investment bank, and we had several of our orientation sessions at Windows on the World, at the top of the South tower. For some reason I remember the details clearly, the pattern on the carpet, the layout of the rooms. During breaks I would press my face up against the glass and stare North, out at the city, still that kid staring out at the tops of buildings and trying to find that house in the Bronx.

When orientation was over, I ended up in a much smaller building in lower Manhattan, but I had a cubicle next to the window, and I could stare up right at the tops of the two towers. When I worked late, you could see the flashbulbs go off from people taking pictures of the nighttime cityscape, or just of each other.

During the short time I lived in New York, I spent a lot of time in the shadow of those towers. I often ate lunch in the World Trade Center Plaza when the weather was nice; it was a great place to people watch. I used to stand against the buildings and stare straight up at the latticework until I got vertigo. There was a mall under the complex with a Borders, a Warner Bros. Store, a place that sold Swiss Army knives, and a newsstand that would short-change you because "pennies don't count." The first Krispy Kreme I ever saw was in 5 WTC. It's funny what sticks with you. I remember in particular, passing this sculpture between my office and the towers. Like the figure itself, I was always compelled to check the items in his briefcase, knowing full well that they would never change.

Five years ago today, we had just moved to Cambridge. The moving van had come only days earlier, so I was still living out of boxes. I was out of work -- a victim of the tech bust -- and had an interview with a placement agency downtown that morning. I turned on the TV sometime between when the first and second planes hit. I hardly turned it off for the next three weeks. The future Mrs. sco had gone out to get car insurance, and was out of cell range when I tried to call her. I called my father after the towers fell, hysterical, trying to find out if he had heard about my uncle who sometimes worked jobs in lower Manhattan (he ended up walking to the Bronx from Midtown, like so many others that day). A friend of mine called, knowing that I had worked down there recently, to check up on me. I talked gibberish into the phone at him, and he dropped everything and came over from work. I missed my interview, of course. I later found out that the building had been evacuated.

I've been wanting to write this for some time now, but how can you mourn a pair of buildings when so many living people died that day? Is five years long enough to wait? I sometimes think about the people in those buildings -- the office workers, conference goes, bathroom attendants -- just going about their business and suddenly the world ends.

I've been back to Manhattan dozens of times in the past five years, but I've never gone down to Ground Zero. I think it's because I want to preserve the place in my memory without seeing what it turned into. It's like remembering a friend for what he was like in life, and not what he was like on his deathbed. I suppose this post is my way of doing just that, an overdue requiem for the buildings I always felt a connection to.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Notes From our Debate Party

First, I want to apologize for the light blogging over the past month or so. This is, of course, the worst time to reduce my posting output if I want to attract readers, but I made a decision. The work I'm doing here in Watertown for Deval Patrick's campaign is more likely to make a difference in the election than anything I write in the blog. I only have so many free hours in the day, and I've been spending them lately trying to help the campaign here in Watertown. Chances are, if you've seen a Deval Patrick sign here in town, I put it there. (As an aside, while Tom Reilly's street is littered with signs for him, the next street over is a haven for Deval signs -- funny how that worked out). Expect light posting until the primary.

Anyway, last night we had a debate watching party here in town, about a mile from Tom Reilly's home. We had a great turnout -- standing room only -- and generated a lot of momentum going into the final week of the campaign. Thanks to everyone who came!

Obviously, everyone in the room was a partisan, so any report of our debate experience will be hopelessly biased. We all thought that Patrick came off the best, of course, though a few came away with a better opinion of Gabrieli than they had previously held (not enough to sway the vote, sorry Chris). The biggest surprise of the night, though, was how nasty Tom Reilly came across. I don't know if Chris Gabrieli's campaign had anything to do with yesterday's story that Reilly knew about Marie St. Fleur's tax problems, but I'm not sure it was such a great idea to attack Gabrieli right out of the gate. First, it was a complete non sequitur to the question he was asked (always a pet peeve of mine) and second, it keeps the St. Fleurasco in the news for another couple of days. If you could pinpoint the moment Tom Reilly's campaign imploded, it was the day he announced Marie St. Fleur as his running mate and I have no idea why Reilly wants people to be reminded of that. Not only that, but Reilly spent half of the debate talking about how private these tax records are, at the same time he's airing an ad talking about how Gabrieli and Patrick should release their tax returns. It seems like he's trying to have it both ways on this.

Other notes: Janet Wu came out guns-ablazin'; we gasped at how good some of her questions were. Gabrieli had the most laugh lines, but Patrick had some good quips in there, too. When Reilly talked about his street in Watertown being just like anyone else's and his neighbors are just like everyone else, we all rolled our eyes; someone remarked, "We're your neighbors" and we're rooting for the other guy. The stem cell business went on way too long, and Gabrieli turned what should have been his strong point into "I love Harvard!" which may not play the same outside 128 as it does at the Kenndedy School. The other thing that bothered me about Gabrieli -- he said that we're not going to fix the health care system in the next few months. That may be technically true, but we are going to have to implement the health care reforms that were voted in this year. There's a lot for the next administration to fill in, and it will all have to be done in a few short months. He might not be able to 'fix' it, but he is going to have to act quickly.