Thursday, October 20, 2005

a transformation in progress

In the past few weeks we have seen a transformation in the Ohio Democratic Party, and I think it is a very encouraging sign that maybe, just maybe, we are on the cusp of some long overdue gains in this state. Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy, elected in 2000 and re-elected last year, announced her candidacy for the 15th district Congressional race, presumably to challenge seven-term Republican incumbent Deborah Pryce. Congressman and former Secretary of State Sherrod Brown announced his candidacy for the United States Senate, to challenge two-term Republican incumbent U.S. Sen Mike DeWine. Earlier this year, Congressman Ted Strickland announced his candidacy for the 2006 Governor's seat that will be left vacant when Bob Taft is mercifully term limited out of office next year.

For the longest time, the "A" list democratic candidates were unwilling to abandon their safe Congressional seats, or other political offices, for the chance to take on the Republicans in races like these. So instead, it would be left to inexperienced "B" list candidates, who had good ideas but little skill in fundraising, to run shorthanded campaigns, and typically to suffer defeat. Consider that last year Ohio was split 51-49 between Bush and Kerry, but U.S. Sen George Voinovich dispatched Democratic challenger State Sen. Eric Fingerhut by a staggering 65-35 margin, in the process winning a majority of the votes in each of Ohio's 88 counties. In 1998, when Voinovich ran for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democratic U.S. Sen John Glenn, his opponent was former Cuyahoga County commissioner Mary Boyle, who had never sought a statewide office before.

Now it appears that the "A" listers are coming out swinging, ready to challenge the republicans in 2006. All I can say is that its about time, and it should make it a lot more fun during next year's election cycle.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Musings on the confirmation of John Roberts

With 12 Democratic senators having announced their support for John Roberts, he has now garnered a veto-proof (not that it matters) majority of 67 senators supporting his nomination to become the nation's 17th chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Note that President W is our 43rd president, but Judge Roberts is in line to be only our 17th chief Justice. That should illustrate just how important this deliberation and vote is.

I am concerned about Judge Roberts' nomination simply because of his evident disdain for the role of the judiciary. Time after time , his amicus briefs would have left the appelant no judicial remedy for their issue. No judicial remedy on example after example of government outrages too extensive to list here. My question is too twofold: First, if Judge Roberts doesn't think the judicial system should dispense justice, then who does he think the people can turn to they need it? Street justice? Vigilantism?

Secondly, how can someone who disdains the courts so much want to serve as essentially the chief judicial officer in the country? There's an old saying that you can't govern if you don't believe in government. How can you be a justice if you don't believe in the judiciary?

If I were in the U.S. Senate right now, I cannot say one way or the other how I would vote on Judge Roberts' nomination. All I can say for sure is that I would be asking a lot more questions.

Hey, someone yell at me when I don't blog, would ya? :)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Revisionist history in the wake of Katrina

I am really starting to get tired of the Republicans reflexively protecting the Bush administration and blaming the mess in New Orleans on Louisiana's Democratic governor and the mayor of New Orleans. It was absolutely criminal that there was not resources staged and in place ahead of the landfall of this hurricane.

As an amateur meteorologist (a pretty good one, I might add), I know that by Sunday morning this is what the National Hurricane Center was saying about Katrina:


Now, what part of comparable in intensity, only larger, than the legendary Camille, and
headed right for New Orleans, was not understood in Washington? You can blame the looters and the poor people left behind, but the fact of the matter is on Sunday morning it was looking like New Orleans was about to be wiped off the face of the planet!

Not to mention that the first NHC forecast putting the hurricane in the vicinity of
New Orleans came out Friday afternoon. The Bush administration should have been
preparing, staging resources, making plans for what to do after a Category 5
hurricane made landfall in a major U.S. city with 100,000 people (based on
the mayor's own estimate of an 80% evacuation rate) still in it. And when
the hurricane weakened to a Category 4 and veered east at the last
moment to miss New Orleans, the Bush administration should have been able to breathe
a sigh of relief knowing that they had more than enough resources in place to deal with
flooding in the storm's wake. Because remember, a Cat 5 storm would have put the whole city under water from a massive storm surge.

Instead it took them the better part of a week to respond. Why weren't National Guard troops called up and ready to go? You have a potential catastrophe coming, why don't you prepare?

I think conservatives have started to become so desperate to protect the President
in the face of rapidly falling poll numbers that they have lost all sense of objective reality.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

For anyone who's still reading...

I've decided to convert what I originially intended to be a blog about the YDA convention in San Francisco into an all-purpose blog on Ohio politics in general. Ohio is very important in terms of national politics as everyone learned from last year's presidential election. We call it the Mother Of all Swing States or the MOSS for short.

In any case, the troubles of the Ohio GOP continue to roll on. Today's Plain Dealer featured an article that the Governor himself may be facing jail time over ethics violations. 76% of respondents to an online poll on the Plain Dealer's website ( feel that Governor Taft should be recalled. Now granted, that poll is skewed because Cleveland is such a blue city, but still I think it shows the sentiment against the GOP in Ohio right now.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I went back to Ohio...

Well just to let everyone know that I made it back to Ohio safely after essentially spending my entire Monday travelling. To get an idea of what I mean, just consider that my flight took off from Oakland at 9:55 AM and I finally landed in Columbus at 8:55 PM after an excruciating 2 1/2 hour layover in Nashville. I am now planning to write Southwest a letter lobbying for non-stop flights from Columbus to West Coast cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle. After all, if no other carrier offers them, this should be a business opportunity, right? Besides, Columbus is a similar size city to Nashville, to which Southwest offers non-stop flights from all three destinations mentioned above.

While I was gone, I somehow missed the news of the Marines from Ohio who had been killed in Iraq. However, today's L.A. Times had extensive coverage of how a ceremony was held at the I-X Center in Brook Park for all those servicemen from Ohio who have died in Iraq, 49 so far. They also documented how the mood in this town has shifted over the past months of soliders from Ohio's own 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines being killed at an alarming rate.

Much to my own gall, The Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS was protesting outside this memorial ceremony for the Marines and others killed in Iraq. This is the same Rev. Phelps who is interviewed in the Gay/Striaght episode of 30 Days with signs saying such things as "God Hates Fags." Rev. Phelps and his church also wanted to post a memorial at the site where Matthew Sheppard was brutally murdered stating "Matthew Sheppard entered hell on this date..." The Rev. Phelps and company held signs and placards implying that God killed these Marines in order to punish the American military for allowing homosexuals to serve under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Some passerby had to be restrained by the police and many called the display blasphemous.

I have maintained, and continue to maintain, that the struggle we are in is a struggle of rational, reasoned morality versus religious extremeism in all its forms, whether Christian, Jewish or Islamic. The Rev. Phelps' display is yet another reminder that not all religious extremists are Muslims, but they are all equally dangerous.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Mission Accomplished (for real)

On Saturday 8/6, I was over at the convention site by 10 AM at the request of OYD President Jonathan Varner (JV for short). The Platform committee the night before had requested an extenstion of the deadline to submit their report from 11 PM Friday to 2 AM Saturday, and JV wanted us to be around in case a vote needed to be taken. However, there was apparently no such drama as the Platform committee report was adopted without further controversy. We heard a speech from the President of the Los Angeles City Council about what it was like to be acting mayor of LA on 9/11 at the ripe old age of 28. After that there was some free time so myself and a couple other members of the Ohio delegation took the opportunity to go down to Fisherman's Wharf for some fun before the general session for elections began at 2 PM.

This was YDA's first contested elections in a decade. The Gallaway slate (which included Ohio's own Lauren B. Goode) inlcuded the incumbent president and a couple other incumbent officers. The opposition Unity slate was headed by the former President of the California Young Dems, Alex DeOcampo. During one of their many outbursts of chanting "Unity! Unity!" on the floor, the delegation chair from North Carolina was over conferring with us from Ohio and began chanting "We bailed you out! We bailed you out!" When I asked what he meant, he stated that the CYD under Alex's leadership had been unable to raise enough funds to cover the cost of the convention, forcing YDA to step in with $100,000 in national funds as well as arranging for the $50,000 pledge from UNITE HERE! The delegation chair (named Newman) colorfully stated that "It's ridiculous that they couldn't raise that money. You can't chuck a stick in this town without hitting five Democrats with Titanium cards. But they couldn't raise a hundred grand? What does that say about Alex DeOcampo's leadership?"

With a strong showing of our own Unity, the states of Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, Massacheusetts, Virginia and Texas, stuck together to get 7 of the 8 members of the Gallaway slate elected, including Ohio's own Lauren B. Goode to the post of Democratic National Committeewoman. The opposition Unity slate was supported by Washington, Oregon, California, New York and Pennsylvania amongst others. Unity's lone victory was the election of Rob Dolin to the post of Secretary on a razor thin vote of 1006-992. The defeat for Georgia's Flora Brooke Hesse was hardfought and included a challenge from California that the Ohio delegation did not have all its delegates on the floor for the vote. After the sergeant-at-Arms confirmed that we did, we began chanting O-H I-O in excitement and definace, and to my unending pleasure, the Michigan delegation quickly began chanting O-H I-O as well. It might be the proudest moment of the conference for me.

In any case the closing banquet is over and it is time now to have one day of relaxation in San Fran before heading back east. More updates as they become available

A sunny Friday in San Francisco

Let me see if I can summarize two days in one post. Friday morning (8/5) I was over at the convention site early to hear a panel discussion on the situation in the Middle East given by Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts. After that there was a luncheon hosted by the Gallaway slate at Lafayette Park. Since Ohio's own Lauren Goode is part of the Gallaway slate my attendance was imperative. They told us it was merely three blocks from the Holiday Inn to the park. That was absolutely true. What they didn't tell us was that Lafayette Park sits at the peak of one of San Francisco's famous hills, and getting there would involve walking straight uphill for three blocks. I made it, thinking that I should move to San Fran because I would likely lose about 50 pounds.

After that was over about 2 PM I had no other items I needed to be present at until our Ohio state caucus meeting at 4:30 PM. So I decided to step out of the hotel to the cable car station and ride the cable car down to Fisherman's wharf. Of course I had to change lines so it wasn't a quick trip but very scenic I must say. I walked out to the end of Pier 39 to find, to my disappointment, that the Golden Gate Bridge was shrouded in fog and invisible to my picture taking efforts. I then wandered around the Wharf til about 4 PM when I walked to the cable car station to ride back to the hotel. The only problem with this is that it was absolutely packed. I would have waited in line forever. So, displaying true savvy, I cursed the stupid "tourists" and walked one block north to North Point Ave to catch a #47 bus. I caught one almost immediately and got back to the Holiday Inn right on time.

At our state delegation meeting we discussed our efforts to get the lovely Mrs. Lauren B. Goode elected to the DNC woman post in Saturday's elections. Immediately thereafter at 5 PM we had the Great Lakes regional caucus meeting with the other states in our region (Indiana, Illinois and Michigan). All these states agreed to support the Gallaway slate and therefore Lauren. Displaying true Midwestern spirit, the meeting was soon thereafter adjourned to the hotel bar, allowing the delegates to get dinner before our general session meeting at 6:30 PM.

At the general session meeting we heard from several speakers including CA state treasurer Phil Angelides, who is the Democratic candidate for governor of California in 2006. We also heard from Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, and the truly remarkable story of how she ousted Republican Bob Dornan from a seat representing very wealthy Orange County. Her story was extremely inspiring. We also heard video taped messages from U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) encouraging us to get involved in the American Democracy Institute, a new think tank that she is involved with, and from John Kerry (D-MA) profusely thanking us for the work done on his behalf in the 2004 election. We also heard from the chairman of a new organization, Wake Up Wal-Mart! that is attempting to expose Wal-Mart's $1.5 billion annual price tag to US taxpayers. The evenings final outside speaker was Chris Chafe of the union UNITE HERE! Chris presented YDA with $50,000 raised from the union membership as a token of their appreciation for moving the convention out of the Westin St. Francis in accordance with their boycott. He also explained UNITE HERE!'s reasons in disassociating themselves from the AFL-CIO and how it would affect Democrats.

This is when the fireworks started.

The program for the evening clearly stated that after the outside speakers were finished, the nominating speeches and the nomination acceptance speeches by the candidates would begin. However, since it was 10 PM they must have figured that there was no way that the speeches would happen that night. Either that or they (the opposition Unity slate) were simply unprepared.

In any case, as the convention speaker announced that the speeches by the candidates would now begin, a member of the Unity slate rushed to the podium to make a Motion to Adjourn until the following morning. The speaker announced that this was the time set aside in the program for the candidates to speak, and that it wasn't fair to deny people who had prepared a speech the right to speak. The motion failed on a voice vote. They then asked for a stand-up vote to get a better idea of the exact vote. When that too failed, they then asked for a Roll Call vote. The chair explained that this would require a 25% vote of those assembled and would like be very lengthy as each state chair would have to individually state the votes of their delegates. This motion ultimately failed, and the speeches went on as planned, but it was a preview of the fireworks to come during Saturday's elections. More on that tomorrow.

Friday, August 05, 2005

A long couple of days

Let me apologize to those of you, if any, who are reading my blog. I was sick last night and did not feel up to venturing down to the lobby to work on posting something. I decided yesterday morning to eschew the training sessions offered by Democratic GAIN in favor of exploring the city. I first found a wonderful place to have breakfast that is SO much cheaper than the hotel restraunt. I'm talking a three egg ham and cheese omelet with hash browns, four slices of wheat toast, a glass of OJ, AND two pancakes for a grand total of $4.50. In San Francisco? Who would have thought. I then decided to walk two blocks south to Geary St. to pick up the #38 bus that would take me out to Ocean Beach. According to the map of the city that I have, it didn't look like it would be that long of a ride, but maps can be deceiving. Especially when they say in fine print: "The FOUR MILE area from Divisadero St. to the Ocean is not to scale." When I eventually got there, however, I walked out to the beach and was greeted with the sound of rolling waves that you only hear from an honest-to-God ocean. I also took some pictures of the Seal Rocks...and the ocean, not terribly pretty given the cloudy skies but still worth it.

After the equally lengthy ride back it was time to get changed into business attire for the first general session of the convention. There were some heavy hitter speakers to kick things off. House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was the first speaker, and she talked at length about how Paul Hackett's near victory in the 2nd Congressional district was a sign that the American people were tired of politicans rubber stamping the decisions of the Bush white house. Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) spoke at length of how we need to do a better job of standing up for what we believe in. Then New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson talked of the need for the party to shift power from the leaders in D.C. to the governors, noting that there are 12 Red states that have Democratic governors, including Kansas, Oklahoma, Montana, and Tennessee. However, easily the most significant speech of the night was given by San Francsico Mayor Gavin Newsome, who made waves last year by giving the green light to same-sex marriages in the city. Mayor Newsome spoke of the need to have the courage of our convictions and consistently state them. He said that voters perceive those who don't have that courage as lacking integrity, and that there are those who will vote for you, even if they disagree with you, if they know your position and know you believe in it. Bill Clinton once said that strong and wrong will beat right but weak all the time. Were the 2004 elections proof of that? Quite possibly yes.

The shame of Thursday night is that feeling ill prevented me from going out but the night was not totally unproductive. For now however, I am being summoned to go with the Michigan delegation to a bar. While there might be the traditional OSU vs. Michigan rivalry, there is a recognition that we are all Democrats here. More updates as I can provide them.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Political Mardi Gras, indeed

Wednesday afternoon marked the first political events of the convention. We got our registration, got our credentials, and had our first state delegation meeting. Wednesday night was also the welcome reception with welcomes from numerous California democratic legislators. As I began to interact with members of other state delegations, from Pennsylvania to Indiana to Alabama to Texas to California and Arizona, I was struck by the fact that everyone's first comment on seeing I was from Ohio was "Sorry about your congressional race." I couldn't count how many times I had to explain to folks back home what we were trying to accomplish in the 2nd Congressional District, and yet everyone out here not only knew about the race, but knew about all the details of the district and how remarkable it is that the race was even as close as it was, given how gerrymandered the district was.

We also had our first Ohio state delegation meeting yesterday, and I was struck by the fact that our delegation is almost entirely male. I can't believe that the party of women's rights, the party that owns the female vote by roughly 18 points, doesn't have more than 2 female delegates from Ohio. I quickly decided that I didn't spend the money I'm spending and the vacation days I'm using to be at a sausagefest, and spent most of the evening talking to delegates from other states, eventually hitting a bar with some very cute members of the Texas delegation.

Thursday's reception will be where the big guns come out. US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and governors Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Mark Warner of Virginia will be there to talk about how to proclaim our Democratic values. I will have my business cards at the ready.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

What exactly is a "boutique" hotel?

Well I am back in the lobby to get some Internet business done. After my first night here I am struck by the uniqueness of this place. What is a boutique hotel? A hotel with no air conditioning but walk in closets. A hotel with no internet access except in the lobby to encourage people to hang out there. A hotel with an Arabic-fusion restaurant called Saha (a weird name to me, as my grandmother has been saying that to me after I cough or sneeze since I was little). A hotel where four different languages can be heard during breakfast.

The seminar that I am attending at the conference doesn't start til 3 PM so I have something like 4 hours to kill. I've got a map of the city and I think its time to hop on the Muni and see what I can see. If I take pictures I will be sure to post them. And I promise there will eventually be some politically relevant information on here ;)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A journey of a thousand miles...

My first impressions of San Francisco are that it reminded me of just how true that statement is of how a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This morning (8/2) I woke up in my bed in Columbus, got my apartment ready for me to be gone, went to work, left work at 2:30, drove my car up to Mazda Direct so it can be serviced, they dropped me off at the airport, I boarded my flight to Phoenix, and four hours later we arrived (the annoyance of a screaming kid more than balanced out by a screaming hot redhead flight attendant). Then I had to race across Phoenix Sky Harbor to catch my connecting flight to Oakland. I landed in Oakland and immediately loved the moderate temps. I then took a cab to my hotel, where after eating dinner I am sitting in the lobby hacking this out (no internet access in the individual rooms). So here I am trying to convince myself that it really is 11:09 PM instead of 2:09 AM, and thinking about how far I've come in a single day.

The YDA convention starts Wednesday @ Noon. More updates as they become available.

Monday, August 01, 2005


My first entry comes as I am preparing to leave for San Francisco to represent the Buckeye State at the Young Democrats of America National Convention. Hopefully we will have good news to send us off, namely that Paul Hackett picked up an upset win in the 2nd Congressional District special election. In any case, please check back here for updates throughout the August 3-7 2005 convention!