randomduck

thoughtful. entertaining. random.

Category: dems (Page 2 of 8)

my endorsements for the primary?

Find them here at my namesake site.

Once you’ve read ’em come back here, click on the “more” link, and see how I think it’ll shake out.

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chains

To me, chains are WIPs (a nod to Sarah): constant works in progress.

Chains have many connotations to me, as well.

There’s the bicycling connection: the chain is part of the drivetrain of a bicycle. It needs attention to work properly: proper lubrication, cleaning, inspection for excess wear. Chains are never ever perfect after they’re first installed on a brand-new drivetrain (including new cogs, new chainrings, etc.), but they can be kept in perfect working order for thousands of miles with a little TLC.

Bicycle chains are WIPs.

And then there are chains that are more cyclical: the chains that bind a person to an endeavor, organization, and the like. My political involvement in the District has also been a bit of a chain: binding me to the city and its politics, to political groups that can both inspire and frustrate, often at the same time.

But when the frustrating moments outweigh the uplifting ones, it’s time to break the chain.

I ran for a seat on the DC Democratic State Committee for mostly altruistic reasons. I wanted to change the old-guard ways of the previous administration (raise lots of money, spend even more, achieving nothing in the transaction other than ego stroking). I thought that our group of motivated newcomers could do it. We had drive and determination. We also wanted to show how much could be done (winning citywide election) with so little (a budget that was 1/20 that of our incumbent rivals).

We won in 2004. And once in office, I discovered how completely naïve we were in thinking that change would come. No matter how we tried, the old guard continued to do the same old shtick, time and again. Albert Einstein is credited with the following saying:

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

And that sums up what being on the DC Democratic State Committee has been for the past four years.

So while many from my 2004 slate are gathering signatures to get on this September’s ballot, I’m not joining them.

I’m tending to the WIP that is me: cutting loose those things that cause undue stress and frustration.

I’m breaking the chain.

That’s not to say I won’t be politically involved. Politics and political causes are still near and dear to me, are part of my being and personality. But I’d rather be involved in things where I feel that my time is well spent, my opinions respected, and my frustration rewarded by progress from hard work, rather than the same ‘ol, same ‘ol.

Those are my chains. What are yours?

three random observations

Three things that are on my mind this Saturday night:

  1. Today’s DC Democratic Convention went off without a hitch. It was a decent exercise in voter outreach and party building, but it didn’t offer much to grow the party. Most of the workshops and such were preaching to the already “indoctrinated” DC Dems, and weren’t there to appeal to the online community, the younger Dems, or those in the “leaning” column. But it’s good that the convention happened at all – kudos to the organizers for pulling it off (and on schedule, to boot).
  2. Bicycling magazine has named Washington, DC, the top up-and-coming bicycling community in the United States. That’s cool – and puts a lot of long-needed pressure on DC government to get pro-cycling legislation passed and enacted.
  3. Once is this decade’s equal to The Commitments: a lovely, small, musical film that packs a sweet punch. sprite and I watched it tonight, and it was lovely. And the songs are wonderful, too.

Onward to Sunday – and to riding the bike! Yay!

decisions, decisions

I’m serving out the end of my term on the DC Democratic State Committee, and one of the big votes is tonight: deciding on the unaffiliated add-on (i.e. sorta-super) delegates and the PLEO (elected official) delegates to this summer’s Democratic National Committee Convention. It’s one of the few votes we make that makes any shred of difference in the political machinations of DC, so I’m taking it as seriously as possible.

Due to this election, my phone has been ringing off the hook with folks asking for my vote. My email inbox has been flooded with messages including CVs of work done for DC and Democratic causes. And a few cards and letters have come via USPS delivery.

It’s insane.

But I’ve decided my picks, taking into account that the voting order for the evening is skewed to favor the old, entrenched DC Democratic order (hello, cronyism!).

For the unaffiliated add-on (UAO) positions, which are voted on first, I am supporting Mike Panetta and Miriam Sapiro. Both are strong candidates, and both have been steadfast supporters of Barack Obama’s campaign. While this is an “unaffiliated” delegate position, I think it’s important that the total DC delegation reflects the outcome of the DC primary, where Obama carried an overwhelming majority of the vote. And amongst the DCDSC membership, there are plenty of unwavering supporters of Hillary Clinton – including many who are running for UAO positions. So I’d rather these “unaffiliated” delegates be Obama supporters.

Furthermore, being part of DC’s delegation to the convention is lobbying for DC issues to be addressed on the DNC platform. This involves going to state delegation meetings, pleading the case, and winning over other voting delegates. With Mike Panetta, DC has one of the most passionate and creative supporters of DC statehood and voting rights. He is smart, personable, and driven to succeed in his cause. His DC Olympic Committee movement is one of the most fresh and unique ways to raise awareness of DC’s “last colony” status, and his work as “shadow” Representative for DC is unparalleled.

Miriam is a new person to me, but comes highly recommended by folks I respect in DC political circles. She’s also one of DC for Obama’s recommended candidates for UAO, and in speaking with her, I found a warm person who isn’t all “show and glitz.” DC isn’t going to win folks over on charm, alone – a level voice is needed, and I see that in Miriam.

For PLEO, I’m supporting Mike Panetta only. Does this look funny? It should, but it reflects the absurdity of the voting order in tonight’s elections – as well as an alteration of the delegation selection rules compared to past election cycles. It used to be that all of DC’s “shadow” congressional delegation – the two Senators and one Representative – were automatically part of DC’s delegation to the Convention. That changed this year due to a reinterpretation of the rules by the DNC. Due to this reworking of the rules, DC’s congressional Delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, gets to go, but not the “shadow” Rep – in this case, Mike Panetta.

And yes, there are two PLEO positions up for election. One, however, is an “automatic bid” (validated by a silly vote by the DSC) to the Chair of the DC Council – in this case, Vince Gray. So whether or not I support him is of no import to tonight’s vote.

five years wasted

It’s been five years since George W. Bush and his theocon cronies, with the complicit support of congressional Democrats, brought the United States to war with Iraq.

A needless war.

A senseless war.

A deliberate diversion from the real war on terror and the pursuit of Osama bin Laden.

A war that was more about family honor and potential oil revenue than actual world and regional security.

A war that had cost this country the lives of 3,990 of its own people.

A war that has wounded over 40,000 U.S. soldiers, many severely, and has provided little to no services to them once they return from the theatre of combat.

A war that has killed hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of innocent Iraqi people.

A war that has not achieved any of its purported goals.

A war that was launched with inadequate funding, insufficient troop levels, little strategy, and no exit plan.

A war that, combined with ill-conceived tax cuts and increases in wasteful spending, has destroyed the economy of the United States.

There is no stability in Iraq since the fall of Hussein and the Ba’athists.

The price of oil has not fallen as a result of the “liberation” of the Iraqi oil fields.

The security of the United States has not been improved due to our presence in Iraq – if anything, things are far less secure on a global scale.

In going to war with Iraq, President Bush and his advisers did not remove causes of terror. To do so would have required introspection, something that none of the current occupants of the executive branch seem to be able to do, as it shows them as spineless, rudderless hypocrites.

Our war in Iraq has hastened the development of a civil war in the country. And as was the case in Vietnam, we have no business being involved in a civil war on foreign soil.

It is time to end this war and bring our troops home in an orderly way. At this juncture, as was the case in 2003, we can only cause more harm than good.

why be protectionist?

In my nearly four years of serving on the DC Democratic State Committee, I’ve seen some incredibly silly behavior. But tonight takes the cake: why does a party that so overwhelmingly dominates the political landscape in the District feel the need to be so protectionist?

It reminds me of the Soviet Union in many respects. So silly, so theatrical, so pointless.

a message to the young folks in the u.s.

If you want to affect change in government, have a say in the future of the U.S. policies both at home and abroad, and have a right to complain when things don’t go the way you want them to:

VOTE!

I’m just a bit miffed that the young folk didn’t turn out to vote in Texas and Ohio. Where’d Obama’s ground game go? Is Hillary not appealing to the young set? It’s very sad that the young folk are leaving the decisions to their parents’ and grandparents’ generations – the very ones they rebel against as teens and try to improve upon in their 20s and 30s.

Are the young folk just too saturated with the ads, the robocalls and phone bankers, the almost hourly spam from yet another campaign surrogate? I know it’s a lot of noise, overwhelming at times, and delivered with zero tact or strategy, in many cases.

At any rate, I certainly wish that more young people would get involved – even if it’s just to vote.

And for those who say “but they’re there, on the dais, behind the candidates when they speak”: these people you see are planted there on purpose. Nothing about these assemblies, and the people within camera shot, is left to chance.

Oy. And so the Democratic nominating race trudges on.

So to the young folk in states that have yet to participate in the nominating process: get out there, exercise your right and vote, dammit!

why obama keeps gaining momentum

Barack Obama keeps gaining in both state races and nationally because he’s remarkably consistent in tone, poise, delivery and focus of message. At stump speeches, town hall meetings, debates and interviews, he’s confident and consistent. It’s a tone he’s stuck with throughout the campaign, with some variations here and there, but nothing that veers too far from his “always looking forward, never looking back” campaign approach. Even when his campaign looked wounded after New Hampshire, he stayed true with his approach.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has run the gamut of tactics this week – and during the whole campaign. During the Texas debate, she was alternately snarky (the “change via Xerox” quip) and cordially conciliatory (her closing, known amongst Clintonistas as “the moment”). After that, she’s been harsh and attacking, pedantically mocking, calm and collected, and oddly giddy. It’s like she’s still trying to figure out which persona is the one that will work to derail the Obama momentum.

And then there’s the Bill factor: one week he’s the attack dog, the next he’s eerily silent. And no matter what he says or does, it doesn’t help matters – he’s a fly in the ointment of his wife’s campaign, which is to be expected when you have two political alpha dogs in the household, and only one can run for office.

The Clinton campaign is in a state of panicked free fall. They’re not accustomed to being on the skids without any traction in sight. There’s always been some sort of safety net along the way to bail things out, some break that goes their way. This time out, however, the lucky breaks have, to borrow a phrase from Paul McCartney, broken in two. So the campaign is flailing, throwing approaches around, hoping that something clicks with the electorate. It’s sheer desperation, and sad to witness. Hillary’s supporters, and Democrats, deserve better.

Meanwhile, Obama keeps soldiering on – consistent, cool and calm. Good on him – he’s the embodiment of a politician who gets it.

the liberal blogs are dead to me (most of ’em, anyway)

The liberal blogosphere has been an incredible group in its rise to power in Democratic and progressive politics. It has empowered hundreds of thousands of people to voice their opinions on political and social issues great and small, and should be commended for it.

But in this 2008 cycle, blogs that used to be open forums for honest discussion of politics and politicians have become increasingly partisan. Some, like MyDD, have by the choice of the owner: Jerome Armstrong is an unabashed fan of Hillary Clinton, and does not take kindly to those bashing her, her campaign, or his advocacy of her run for the White House. A good friend of mine was banned from Armstrong’s site for calling out one of the white elephants on his blog: that he’s very likely angling for a paid staff position in a Clinton administration. The ban was swift and direct.

The other approach is a bit more hands-off, yet with the overall trend being toward advocacy for a particular candidate. The “blogfather,” Markos Moulitsas, has been a bit of an equal-opportunity basher of candidates on his Daily Kos site (though he’s open about voting for Obama in the California primary), yet the discussion led by the others in the “front page posters” (those anointed to moderator status by Markos) tends to advocate Obama (and before that, Edwards) at the expense and ridicule of Clinton supporters. The arguments get heated, alternating between juvenile playground threats to more vile, disturbing over and undertones. It’s a mess.

And it’s noisy.

And it turns me off.

As most or my friends and family will attest, I’m a political creature. I tend to thrive on political dialog and argument. Yet I’m not one to tolerate inane and pointless arguments about non-substantive issues.

Such arguments are ruling both Daily Kos and MyDD, and I’m not taking the bait. Sure, I’ll glance every so often to see if anything new and truly productive is being discussed. But I think I’ll mostly just move on with my political life, picking my own path, fighting the battles that are worth my time and effort.

And this carries through to other political endeavors in my life. I’ve already made a split from a PAC I helped create back in 2004. And I do not plan to seek re-election to the DC Democratic State Committee once my time is up, as I feel there are better ways to explore my political interests (more on this at a future date).

Political battles that serve no clear purpose other than character assassination are truly stupid. I see them on various skiing forums, where differing schools of ski pedagogy are treated with the same reverence – and resulting fanatic devotion and defensiveness – as major religions. And as is the case with religion: the end is usually the same, though the means to that end may be radically different (or only semantically or syntactically different).

The same goes for the ongoing skirmishes within my cycling club (the faster crowd versus the slower touring set): people take their sides and dig in for trench warfare. And while I tend to ride with the fast crowd, I also see the need to cater to the touring set, who make up the majority of the active membership.

Can’t we all just get along? If not, just leave me out of it for now.

vote today!

If you live in the District of Columbia, Maryland, or Virginia, today is the day!

Get out and vote in the “Potomac Primary!”

I’ll be casting my vote for Barack Obama.

And if this is all weighing too heavily on you, here’s something to watch:

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