April 28, 2006

Kucinich - OH 13 - Things of debate

On Wednesday, April 26, 2006, the City Club of Cleveland held a debate among the Democratic candidates for the 13th Congressional District. I've been assisting Gary Kucinich (yes, Dennis' brother) with his candidacy. He's a long-shot candidate, pulling 12% in a recent WKYC poll in this 8-way race. Three of his opponents, Betty Sutton, Capri Cafaro, and Tom Sawyer, all pulled 24% in the same WKYC poll.

Gary did well, I think, but there are too many shades of Dennis in his rhetoric. I can pick out one thing in particular... on the Iraq war: UN in, US out.

It didn't work for Dennis running for President... somehow I'm doubting it's going to work for Gary running for Congress. I support the principles behind it, but the delivery needs to be refined.

As for not voting for Dennis... his total intransigence of late has been leaving a bitter taste in my mouth, though I can't say much for Barbara Anne Ferris' apparent outburst at a Kucinich event, demanding to know why he wouldn't debate her. She has every right to do that, just it seemed totally self-defeating and certainly not politically sensible.

I still expect DJK to win the nomination, just without my support this time. Or the Plain Dealer's... or alot of other people who have supported him in the past. New call: 58% K - 42% F.

And if Dennis is too stubborn to see the message that the district is trying to send him with a close result like that, I'm voting for an (R) in the general.


Recliner Democracy

I think we live in an age of deteriorating political activism. Posting on a blog does not help with the situation, but it does assist in clarifying my thoughts on the problem and also, hopefully, makes people aware of my opinion on this matter. With that out of the way, I would like to address a certain group from which I receive emails: MoveOn.org.

MoveOn.org is a left-leaning political "activist" website which bombards its subscribers with emails regarding various legislative actions and reasons to be activists behind not-so-thinly veiled rhetoric. Last week I received an email to participate in a "virtual march" to indicate my support against the genocidal actions of the Sudanese government on the people of the Darfur region in Sudan.

What is this virtual march?

Clicking on a link will bring you to a webpage that has a form which the user can fill out and submit. All of these forms will ostensibly be delivered to members of Congress and the President. What are the odds that they will read 100,000 (MoveOn's goal) letters sent to them by people on the internet, most of whom have political leanings further left than most of Europe? I think that those odds are pretty small, honestly, especially with our current government.

This "mass" mobilization is a pissant show of political "giving a damn," being used by the fine folks at MoveOn.org to inflate their pathetic egos by submitting to Congresspeople these "letters" from the internet. Let us also not forget that all-important PAC money in the briefcases.

I know what's going on with the janjaweed and their cooperation with the government of Sudan. Filling out a webform to have submitted to my member of Congress, Dennis Kucinich, and the President accomplishes a negligible amount of nothing. If I were to want to do something worthwhile, I'd stick a $10,000 check in with a hand-written letter into an envelope, presenting a rational and coherent argument towards intervention in Sudan. It seems to me that would work more effectively than a common web form.

I'll go out and march, even if I'm the only one marching. I truly believe in my causes to be more than pathetic webpages. So if you see me sitting at the corner of Bagley and Front streets with my "Save Darfur" sign... well, you know why.

By the way, I'm voting for Barbara Anne Ferris on May 2. I really didn't like your purely ad hominem attacks on Kucinich, but we deserve better.


April 21, 2006

Article 11

The United States is a Christian nation, eh? Not according to Article 11 of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Tripoli, ratified by the Senate on 10 June 1797. Article 11 states:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Tripoli

So, to further refute the claims of certain high-minded moralistic conservative Christians, the United States was not founded as some new Christian utopia, but rather as a tolerant and secular state. Once again... the GOVERNMENT of the UNITED STATES is NOT founded on the Christian religion.

Hopefully that comes in loud and clear.


April 17, 2006

The Free Times and Paul Hackett

Hackett's Happy: The popular former candidate is angry, but doesn't want to be defined that way.

Articles / On The Cover
Posted by Webmaster on Apr 11, 2006 - 10:17 PM

By Margo Pierce

Paul Hackett has the iron-grip handshake someone might expect of a Marine. But in jeans and an open-collared shirt, eating a lunch of Cheetos and Coke at his desk in an office filled with family photos and children's drawings, he seems like any working stiff in downtown Cincinnati.

But he's not, and may never be again. Last year, less than a year after returning from active duty in Iraq, Hackett entered the special election in Ohio's Second Congressional District, hoping to fill the seat vacated by Rob Portman when he became U.S. trade ambassador. Hackett's loss to Republican Jean Schmidt wasn't a surprise, but capturing 48 percent of the vote in a traditionally conservative district was. That strong finish, coupled with a verbal combativeness not expected from Democrats, made him a hero among liberals nationwide.

Now helping fellow Iraq War veterans run for office, Hackett says his introductions almost always include the outcome of his first race.

"Let's not get too excited about this," he pleads. "I lost. Come to grips with this: I lost. Let's move on and talk about some exciting victories."

FIT FOR DUTY Name another Dem who looks this good in a T-shirt.

Before that's possible, he wants to set the record straight about the U.S. Senate campaign he abandoned earlier this year, pulling out of the Democratic primary race against U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown.

"I get these calls and letters, 'Please stay in and run as an independent.' I just smile," Hackett says. "You don't get it. To come into politics with no 20-year career and swimming against the current of the river is a complicated, difficult task. You've got to have the money.

"We were raising money at an astounding pace. Sherrod Brown came in with a $2 million advantage, so I had to raise $3 for every $1 he was raising. The bad news is that I was raising a dollar for every dollar he was raising. So that does not allow me to frame — I hate that word 'frame' — the debate, the message, in my terms. The final month of a primary race is all about advertising, commercials and messaging. If I don't have the money to get my message out, Sherrod will do the favor for me and get my message out his way."

Meetings with Rahm Emanuel, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as well as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and his own campaign staff, made it clear to Hackett that the only advantage to staying in the race — and losing — was to set himself up to go after another political office. He didn't want that.

"Some people can call that a crybaby, a quitter, whatever you want to call it," Hackett says. "I thought it was the right decision. I'd make the decision again. It's not the decision that made me the most happy, but it was the right decision for my campaign, for me personally and for the Democratic Party."

Questions are frequently raised about Hackett's loyalty to his party because of the remarks he makes about his former opponent.

"Someone forwarded me an e-mail with a link to a Web site selling T-shirts that say, 'Fuck Sherrod, but I'm still gonna vote for him,' which was a quote from me last week," he laughs. "Why do I have to love him? I don't complain about Sherrod Brown. The problem is 99 percent of the time someone wants to interview me, they ask me about Sherrod Brown. It's usually something stupid like, 'Do you like Sherrod Brown?' Or something equally stupid like, 'Why don't you like Sherrod Brown?'

"Do you want me to sound like a politician and ignore the question and give you some other answer? You can ask me any question and I'll give you my direct, honest answer. It's amazing. I only answer the questions that are asked."

Hackett is hanging up his political aspirations for now. Will he consider running for office in the future?

"Probably, yeah," he says. "I would say it's safe to bet. As I sit here today, I have no desire to get into elected politics. My motivation for getting involved to begin with was to help my country: 'I'm unhappy that my party, the Democratic Party, isn't living up to what I want them to do. Maybe I can jump in here and make a difference. Shit, if I can do this and help out, that's good.' But as far as running for local office or leadership, I'm not interested in that."

Hackett sneers at what he heard from Hamilton County Democratic Chairman Tim Burke and other party leaders after dropping out of the senate race.

"Where the disconnect begins is when the Democratic Party, like Tim Burke, says, 'Come back and run [again] for the Second Congressional District,' despite the fact that I told the folks that hopped into that race that I would not get back in that race," Hackett says. "And their response is, 'Oh, that happens in politics all the time.' To which I say, 'That doesn't mean it's right.' I just think it's poor form, because that was what happened to me in the senate race. Right or wrong, politics or not, if I give my word, my word is my bond.

"Now everybody can spin it how they want to spin it. Fuck it, man. If I just jump back in that race, it's like shit rolling downhill. It gets on everybody and it makes a mess. If we, as a party, want to encourage new blood and participation in this process, we have got to stop doing that kind of thing."

THAT NEW BLOOD is where Hackett is focusing his energy, helping people he calls "citizen legislators" get elected for the first time. So far the people calling for help are military veterans. Multiple calls every day come into his law office from across the country with stories of how his foray into politics inspired yet another rookie to run.

"With the exception of the Second Congressional District, the only people that have reached out to me and that I have reciprocated with are veterans first and foremost and, more specifically, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans," Hackett says.

Citing the "military family connection" as the probable reason for the contacts, he hopes these people will earn some victories for the Democrats.

"Nobody thought I had a snowball's chance in hell to get any sort of required notoriety to be competitive in a congressional race," he says. "But it happened, and to suggest that it can't happen with … any of those [other newcomers] who are running is unfair, and I don't think it's a good strategy to encourage additional participation in the process."

He says he's unsure how his presence can help, but leaves it up to those seeking assistance to tell him what they want.

"It's been an incredibly positive experience, and I would like to continue to be a positive influence in some of these social debates," he says. "I will continue to weigh in on them, at least as long as people have an interest in my view. I think I can be a positive yet critical voice on some of these issues that have not otherwise been addressed by our Democratic leadership or our Republican leadership."

Hackett's experiences convinced him that his views on Iraq, the economy and gay rights are "mainstream." In an exasperated tone, he says this country has more important issues to deal with than gay rights and was surprised when the topic came up at a recent breakfast he had with Senator Russ Feingold.

"I told him it's not a discussion about 'I think that you should approve the gay lifestyle.' I'm not going there," Hackett says. "My gay friends aren't going there. My gay friends want to be left alone. They want to have the same rights in their personal relationship as my wife and I have. If you think that's immoral, fine. Rest easy that, if your religious beliefs are 'They're all gonna burn in hell,' let 'em burn in hell. But while we're here on Earth, we all get the same rights.

"[Feingold] said, 'Wow, that's so clear. That's so straightforward. Why haven't I heard that from anybody else?' I think that's how most people feel. The guy coming out of the Ford plant, that's generally how he feels."

Popping another Cheeto, Hackett continues.

"The Republican Party has been hijacked by religious fanatics," he says. "I'm talking about the people who want to tell you how to worship your god. I'm talking about Pat Robertson, who wants to say that the Twin Towers were brought down to punish New York City. If you believe that, that's fine, live your private life, worship your god in your way. Don't tell me how to live my private life. Don't tell me or my neighbors how to worship our gods. Furthermore, stop taking your lens of religion and placing it over the Constitution of the United States and trying to argue that we have to believe it your way, the religious nut way. Let the rest of us Americans worship our god and live our lives in private.

"Democrats are very afraid to say that, and they're very apologetic about that. I just hope they find the courage to get away from that because, if they don't stand up against what I view as a very totalitarian approach that is overwhelming our country and administration, we're going to be worse off than we are now."

DON’T GET SHORT WITH ME Hackett and Jean Schmidt.

THE UNAPOLOGETIC CANDOR is what attracts and repels support for Hackett; he believes it's what's missing from politics in general.

"It's what makes me most unhappy about the Democratic Party, as a party on the national level and to some extent locally," he says. "They are apprehensive to rock the boat. Guys, the boat's sinking. Let's not be afraid to fight about this. Let's be the opposition party. We are not going to be successful if our strategy is to simply hope that the Republican Party self-destructs."

Hackett says he wants his party to return to its roots — support for working Americans and the freedoms that define America, standing up for individual rights. He wants to do it by redefining some conservative language.

"[Democrats are] the party of fiscal responsibility," Hackett says. "We're the party of limited government. We are the party of strong national defense … that wants our military used intelligently and wisely, that wants to support our military. We're also the party of fair trade … that fought against off-shoring the middle class as best represented by NAFTA and CAFTA."

During his campaigns Hackett formed the opinion that the base of the Democratic Party "doesn't get" those four statements.

"They push back and say, 'No, no, no! We're not that. You're sounding like a Republican'," he says. "To which I would say, 'Listen very carefully to what I'm saying.' Limited government: That means I don't need Washington, D.C. telling me how to live my personal life. It means I don't need them dictating to me how I worship my god, educate my children, dictate to my wife the decisions that she makes with her doctor any more than it means I need them to tell me the type of guns, the number of guns I keep in my gun safe.

"Some people think that I say that to be inflammatory. I actually believe it, and I don't think it's all that unique. But it's not a modern Democratic position because modern Democrats, the elitist Democrats, translate limited government into, 'We're going to remove financial support from good government programs like Head Start.' That's not where I'm going. Adopt some of the language and define it your way. Limited government is a good thing when it comes to our personal lives. Think Barry Goldwater. Most Americans agree with that."

Suggesting that politicians prefer the path of least resistance, Hackett says voters like people who take a stand on controversial issues. He says Feingold's call for a censure of President Bush is supported by average Americans.

The Democratic Party also has a unique opportunity to earn the support of Iraqi vets, according to Hackett.

"I don't know where to begin, but the Democratic Party does not speak military," he says. "If you can't speak the language, you're not gonna connect. Of the 60 or more vets that are running across the United States for the first time, all of them are Democrats. I think there are 12 Iraq vets running; 10 of them are Democrats. Why? Because those of us recently who have served understand that the Republican Party has a very thin veneer of wanting to support the military.

"The vets that are coming back are young, they're smart, they're sophisticated both in media and otherwise. You're not gonna bullshit 'em. The Democrats, I hope, will begin to work hard to try to understand, attract and cultivate the support of the military.

"We're over two million Iraq veterans today. In the 15 years of Vietnam, we created three million veterans. In three years in Iraq, we've created 2 million veterans. This war experience is going to have a huge, long-lasting impact on politics in America."

It's important to Hackett that people know that, while he's passionate about his views and willing to share them, he's really not angry. That's why he keeps giving suggestions to the photographer.

"You have to get me smiling," he says. "People have this belief that I'm angry. We have to eliminate this concern that Hackett's angry."

Good article, I think.


I wish that the world would go away for a second and everything become an empty room with no doors, windows or anything else. Just a white room with four walls, a floor, and a ceiling. Over the last year I've dedicated myself to making the College Democrats to be a respectable and functioning organization... and now I'm feeling the door hit me in the ass, and hard, on my way out.

It is pretty crude of an officer of the organization to tell the webmaster that they are going to change the passwords on the website so as to not let me have access. I doubt that anyone can quite understand the profound disappointment which totally pervades my body. I love the College Dems organization. It became my life because I wanted the group to succeed. I set up a blog for the group and was ridiculed for it. I had a domain and webspace purchased for it. Ridiculed yet again. To think that I would, once done and gone with this place, go into the website and alter it is one of the most hurtful and vengeful things I have ever had levied at me.

No one understands the need to be positive and outgoing, it seems. I trust the people who will be leading the organization to make the right decisions for it. They were elected to the positions for a reason and the will of the members must be respected. (It's the rule of law/charter thing that alot of African states suck at.) I know, within the depths of my heart, that they won't fuck up. However, the fact that there is no trust in that perplexes me. I have left enough fingerprints on the group and now it's someone else's turn to mold and shape the future of the group, for I have fallen into its past.

With that stream of consciousness aside, Iran seems to be getting jumpy with the nukes again. (See NYT frontpage, 04/18/2006.) Right now that leaves us with two major problems that have nukes (or might have nukes): Iran and North Korea. They are both run by delusional folk who have an equal level of hatred for the West (and Israel, for Iran/Ahmadinejad.)

Paul Krugman has a strong piece in the OpEd section of the NYT today, as well. ExxonMobil and all those wonderful people keep doing their part to destroy planet Earth, one barrel at a time.


I feel like shit now.

April 10, 2006

Catholic. Christian. Democrat. American.

As I'm reading and writing an exam on developing countries (3rd world countries) and the impact of religion upon the development of political and economic systems in those countries, the thought of the Roman Catholic Church being a socially progressive body is entering my head. Prior to the convening of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) by Pope John XXIII in 1962, the Church was a largely reactionary and conservative body which worked to help elites maintain power in developing countries, particularly in Latin America. Why would they do that? The Church at the time was a significant land owner in the region, so any leftist/Marxist activity would undoubtedly effect the Church's position adversely. I would think that this prevailing opinion of the era was quite materialistic and contrary to the teachings of Christ and the Scripture.

John XXIII's calling of Vatican II brought a change to this. The Pope, not without objection, moved the Church in a more liberal direction, from encouraging social activism in its preists to promoting democracy and social justice. From this the principles of liberation theology, though already established, became popularized and more accepted within the Church establishment for a brief moment. Certain aspects of liberation theology have been accepted by the Church, such as the rejection of violence and the stress upon the "responsibility which Christians necessarily bear for the poor and oppressed"1. However, it has also been condemned by orthodox Catholics for its tendencies towards Marxism, the materialistic aspect of it, and the exaltation of class struggle. It would appear to me that the first concession of its good by the man who is currently the Pope indicates the Church's recognition of the obligation of its shepherds to help the downtrodden, which is something that I believe is critically lacking in most other aspects of faith.

You do not see the Reverends (or whatever they are) in the suburban megachurches calling for social action to help people. Rather, they actively work against the causes of charity, pumping more and more money into their personal coffers to expand their congregations and their personal riches.

I am Catholic. I am Christian. I am Democrat. I am American.


1Cardinal Ratzinger, Joseph. Liberation Theology. 1984.

What will 1.2 billion Muslims think the day we attack Iran?

Holy Christ in heaven.


This should scare you. And if it doesn't...

... then you're sleeping.

Read it.

April 6, 2006

Re-PUB-li-can (Latin for: he who is a sore loser)

Tom DeLay's cronies crashed a rally to support Nick Lampson's bid to fill the seat being vacated in Congress by the apparently soon-to-be-resigning-but-not-quite-yet Tom "The Hammer" DeLay. (Photos here: http://www.brazosriver.com/april_6_nick_lampson_press_confe.htm)

DeLay Supporters Crash Democrat's Event

By JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press Writer 48 minutes ago

Supporters of U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay protested at an event Thursday held by the Democratic candidate for the congressman's seat, and the event quickly dissolved into a shouting and shoving match. Police were called, but made no arrests.

"I got pushed. I got hit. I got a sign wadded up in my face and my hat pulled down over my eyes," said Marsha Rovai, 69, a supporter of Nick Lampson. "They just did it to be nasty."

DeLay campaign manager Chris Homan said he organized the protest but DeLay, a Republican, didn't know about it.

"Mr. Lampson is going to have to get used to being confronted about his voting record the next seven months," Homan said.

DeLay, who is under indictment on campaign finance charges, announced this week that he will resign from Congress sometime before mid-June.

At the news conference, Lampson called on the governor to set a May 13 special election so the district would be represented after DeLay leaves.

But moments after the event began in DeLay's home town, Lampson and his supporters were surrounded by protesters who held up hand-written signs. Lampson was silenced by their chanting.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry later said that, unless DeLay offers him his resignation letter by the end of the week, the seat would not be filled until the November general election. The election of a Democrat now could give the Democratic Party a leg up in November.

Lampson represented an adjacent district for eight years until DeLay-engineered redistricting cost him re-election in 2004. He said the protest was nothing new.

(from http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060407/ap_on_go_co/delay_protest_3)

Republicans are running scared from Nick Lampson. Make them run harder and faster! Give Nick your support!


Tom DeLay is finally getting his just deserts following 12 years of wretched Republican leadership in Congress. With all of us together, we can bring America back to its rightful place. Help Nick Lampson and other Democrats beat Republicans and restore dignity to our great nation!



Bring our country back to greatness! Vote Democratic in November!

April 4, 2006

Service for a friend

We walked away from the service
It was 5 pm and raining was falling
The grass was wet and as we walked
You stopped to find your calling

You took my hand and turned away
For what reason you would not say
The grass was wet and we stood tall
You stopped to find your calling

We took our chalk and pressed paper against the rock
Just so that we could measure ourselves by life's clock
The stone was cold and we shivered
You stopped to find Him calling

As if touched by an angel
So quickly I saw you taken from me
Why would it be now?
How could this be just?

I walked away from the service
It was 5 pm and the sky was falling
So I stopped to pick it up and there I saw you
You stopped me to show me the way

As if touched by an angel
So quickly I saw you taken from me
Why would it be now?
How could this be just?

The rain is falling, but the sky is revealing
We walked together, your hand still in mine
So we stopped to talk about it
And you came back into me again