Thursday, August 23, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
An interesting tale to relate:
Today I was grabbing some breakfast at Java Joe's, and there was some discussion involving a store in downtown Augusta called Arch Enemys (yes, it's misspelled, don't ask me why). For those of you who don't know, they have- or at least used to have- live models in their store windows, wearing outfits sold in the store. The discussion, of course, turned to our other former store with live models, which used to be right across the street- the lingerie store, Spellbound.
The person I spoke with related a tale of the hell the owner went through to keep that store open as long as she did. She, too, faced off against the Christian Civic League- and lost. I, admittedly, didn't know the depths to which they went, including to call a 15 year old girl a "slut" for being related to the owner and associated with the store.
The CCL began protesting outside the storefront of Spellbound shortly before its closure. Their online postings, designed to incite the rabble as they were when they declared Rita and I Pagans (duh!), were much more successful against Spellbound than us. The owner endured harassing phone calls, death threats, and what sounds like videotaping of her patrons before she finally gave in and closed her doors- a mere four months after the Kennebec Journal lauded her business as "bringing a piece of New York to Maine".
We in this country are fighting a "war on terror". How you can fight a noun still eludes me, but okay. Next it will be the war on Twinkies. The excuses of "9/11", "fighting them there so we don't fight them here", and "terrorism" fall on my deaf ears.
On September 11th, 2001, planes flew into buildings and killed thousands. They scared people away from flying. Airline companies went bankrupt, some being bailed out by the Fed (and this time, with good reason). People walked the streets, looked at Arabs with headgear and beards, and assumed they too must be terrorists!
The Christian Civic League promotes the kind of terrorism that scares me most- the kind that walks into our small towns and frightens us. I have long held the belief that the scariest terrorist act would be to butcher a small town of 100 to the last man- small death toll, but no one would feel safe anymore.
When we allow the Christian Civic League to shutter the doors of local businesses practicing their legal right to free speech, we fail the citizens of our state, and we fail as Democrats. This is the true war on terror- fighting off groups such as these who promote hatred among the citizenry, and turn neighbor against neighbor.
Never again should we allow this group to close a business. I don't care if you thought the Spellbound displays were too risque- tough. They were practicing their right to free speech. The Christian Civic League, meanwhile, declared their victory over the "liberal establishment". We must not let these acts continue.
The County Committee is their current target. We will not be cowed. We will not surrender. And, Democrats, you must not surrender. The true "war on terror" is fought right in our own towns, against groups like this who promote wrong-headed ideology and attempt to make everyone else bend knee to it. We must not permit domestic terrorism to continue to rear its ugly head.
And if you think I'm being overly zealous, review the definition for "terrorism":
"the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion"
And of "terror":
1 : "a state of intense fear"
And tell me that the owner of this store wasn't terrified.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Always amusing to hear from the Christian Civic League. Michael Hein was in attendance at the Democratic State Committee meeting yesterday, to pick up some fresh photographs for the Record, their online publication. They did an article on the subject.
Due to our party's belief in inclusiveness and democracy, we did not call the meeting into executive session as we were permitted to do in order to exclude him. Instead, people were merely annoyed by the volume of flashes from his camera.
And the best picture he got of Rita Moran, his primary target (I am merely secondary, it seems) was the side of her head. All those flashes and that's all he managed, heh.
What got my attention, though, is that he picked up our press release, and cited sections of it in the article he wrote. There was one small change, however: he took all references to the adjective "Democratic", and replaced them with the noun, "Democrat".
Now, one can ask, why would someone do something that silly?
As any Democrat knows, we are members of the "Democratic Party". We are not members of the "Democrat Party". The reason for the party's name has lost some of its old power over time, as the country became what it is today.
Originally, when the party was formed in Jefferson's day, it was known as the "Democratic Republicans". You can see the meaning behind this- members of the party wanted a republic governed by the people, and not in name only. If you were a Democratic Republican, it was because you aligned yourself with popular government.
Compare this to the other party of the day- the Federalists. They were the party of the aristocrat- strong federal government, to hell with "states' rights" (then not a code word for racial discrimination). This party consisted of the rich- bankers, lawyers, landowners... not the sort that wants the rabble in charge.
Small-D democrats versus aristocrats. The will of the people versus the will of the rich and powerful. Thus the beginning of the name.
So, what happens when the "ic" is removed? Depends on why you're doing it. Some blame it on changes in the language throughout the years. Others blame it on not knowing why the party is named what it is in the first place. But there is a much more simple reason why this has come to exist, and that is that the Republicans like to use it as a slur against us.
The first time this began to emerge was under Herbert Hoover's administration. At this point, the small-D democratic principles of belief that had caused the party's naming were no longer in the forefront. People forgot what a "democrat" was, they'd lived under democratic government for so long. The reason in Hoover's day that they used it? They felt that Democrats did not represent democracy, but instead a form of voter control. They weren't entirely wrong, Tammany Hall certainly ruled New York for over a hundred years.
Bush tries to brush it off as an "oops". But Rush Limbaugh has been quoted similarly... he believes the party does not promote democracy, but socialism (or, as "socialism" is code for now, "communism"). Many Democrats are indeed somewhat socialist in their beliefs, because they feel the safety net in our country exists to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Who wanted this? The people, after the Great Depression. That is why our social programs exist today- they were, and continue to be, the will of the people.
Democrats, as Eric Mehnert said just yesterday at the Special Meeting, are the party of the people. Michael Hein must have missed that part of the speeches. Remember that the next time someone calls you a member of the Democrat Party.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
VIEWS OF AMERICA’S ROLE IN THE WORLD
Nearly all Democrats (97%) and 70% of Republicans agree that America’s standing has suffered in recent years. In addition to a strong military, Democrats (91%) and Republicans (78%) agree that the United States also needs to improve diplomatic relations by doing more to help improve health, education and opportunities in the poorest countries around the world. Both Democrats (81%) and Republicans alike (70%) agree that reducing poverty, treating preventable diseases and improving education in poor countries around the world will help make the world safer and the United States more secure.
Democrats and Republicans agree that America has a moral obligation as a compassionate nation to help the world’s poorest people through foreign assistance. More than nine in ten Democrats (93%) and 84% of Republicans agree that when millions of children around the world are dying from preventable diseases and hunger, we have a moral obligation to do what we can to help. Similarly, Democrats (90%) and Republicans (85%) agree that it is in keeping with the country’s values and our history of compassion to lead an effort to solve some of the most serious problems facing the world’s poorest people.
When it comes to addressing these issues, Democrats (86%) and Republicans (67%) agree that it is important for Presidential candidates to discuss their plans for addressing global hunger and poverty issues in this campaign. Additionally, eight in ten Democrats (81%) and Republicans (80%) agree that the next President should keep the commitments made by President Bush to prevent and fight the spread of AIDS in Africa.
Look at these figures. Even making the assumption that we have a third of the country as registered Democrats, a third Republicans, and a third Independent... these poll numbers for the D's and R's alone actually make for a majority in most cases. 90%. 80%. These are big numbers. And the Republicans even half agree on Democratic principles:
STRONG SUPPORT FOR CANDIDATES WHO MAKE GLOBAL HEALTH AND EXTREME POVERTY A PRIORITY
There is bipartisan support for Presidential candidates who support measures to improve disease prevention, reduce hunger and improve education. The majority of both Republicans (62%) and Democrats (77%) would be more likely to support a candidate who supports saving 15,000 lives a day by fighting the world’s most devastating diseases including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Similarly, the majority of both Republicans (60%) and Democrats (76%) would also be more likely to support a candidate who supports reducing by half the number of people in the world who suffer from hunger and live in extreme poverty, which would mean 300 million less hungry people each year. Additionally, 54% of Republicans and 75% of Democrats would be more likely to support a candidate who supports providing greater access to primary education for 77 million children who are not in school with a special emphasis on girls.
The majority of Republicans (52%) and Democrats (80%) also supports new approaches to how the United States provides foreign assistance, such as increasing micro-credit to help people start small businesses, and doing more to eliminate corruption to make sure the economies of developing nations thrive and that help goes to the people most in need. In short, members affiliated with both parties (73% Democrats / 62% Republicans) would be more likely to support a candidate who supports increased investments in foreign assistance programs and working with other countries to strengthen national security.
60% of Republicans care about poverty. Think about that. Now my question is, how can we get them to act on their belief?
Friday, August 3, 2007
Chairing our county Democratic committee means I get asked frequently about my presidential preference.
I feel that we went wrong in 2004 by putting our political pundit hats on, and voting for the candidate we felt was most "electable", rather than the one we like best. In other words, we voted with our heads, not our hearts.
I deal a lot with legislative candidates these days (and if you live in the 11 cities and towns of Maine Senate District 21 we are seriously looking for a good candidate, so reach out if you're interested). What I tell them is this: your #1 job is to inspire, to give people hope that things can be better and that you're committed to work with the voters to make that happen. Hope is the key, folks. If you convince the voter you and they can solve the problems we all see in government, you'll get their support.
Looking over the current field of presidential candidates, I can honestly say they seem to be talking at each other rather than lighting that fire, that belief and hope, in the hearts of the American people.
That may be why I like what I've been reading about Ted Strickland (D) Ohio. E.J. Dionne's original story in the Winchester Sun was republished in the Washington Post, and it's worth reading if you want a breath of political fresh air.
What might Democratic presidential candidates learn from Ohio? As a matter of style, Strickland suggests they understand that "people are desperately wanting to believe that political leaders understand them and that they are trying to deal with their day-to-day lives."Memo to overly cautious candidates: Strickland also thinks that "the display of genuine emotion is important."
Substantively, Strickland says the economy matters most, although he has been a strong opponent of the Iraq War from the beginning.
He sees health care and education as central - they were the key issues in his recent budget. These questions "ought to give Democrats a leg up," but only if they can "talk about these things in a way that gets people to believe you will do something about them."
There's the rub for Democrats in 2008. Voters want government to work but aren't sure that it can. They want government to solve problems but worry that it won't. This creates a strategic paradox: Democrats need to discredit Bush's government without discrediting government altogether.
Read the entire story; here's a link to the story in the Winchester Sun.
It's great to hear an elected Democrat who hasn't written off the Republicans, who works to build consensus without compromising his own beliefs. See folks, it be done, and I do wish I'd see more of it.
Anybody got any Strickland bumper stickers?
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Imagine my surprise when I checked the Kennebec Journal's Letters to the Editor and found this one:
Kennebec County Democratic party chairwoman Rita Moran is one heck of a woman. As a Maine pagan myself, I've been acquainted with her for years now and have always found her to be incredibly warm, intelligent and devoted to the service of others. The Maine Democratic Party is very lucky, and smart, to have placed her in a leadership role.
Michael Heath and the Christian Civic League do not share my opinion. Lately, Heath and his organization seem to be involved in a smear campaign against Moran and the Maine pagan community. Pagans have been featured more and more often on their hate-mongering Web site. It's more of the same vitriol and blatant misrepresentation that the League is so famous for spouting against the gay and lesbian community.
I was raised Baptist. I've read the Bible several times. I'm not sure Michael Heath has. He is one of the least Christ-like people I've ever had the good fortune not to meet face to face. From what I remember, Christ suffered so that others might live. He seems to live to make others suffer.
L D (didn't want to use name without permission)
I honestly can't say whether I'm happy about this, or not. I guess I have felt that, if my "outing" were limited to the lefty blogs both the Kennebec Dems and our bookstore would be safer.
As blog readers know, my concern has always been that being "outed" would have a negative affect on the Kennebec Dems (why don't those people smarten up and get rid of that Pagan woman!?!?), or on the business that puts food on our table, Apple Valley Books in Winthrop.
Sure, every once in a while customers come in to say "Oh hey, are you really the same Rita Moran we've been reading about?" as though I were some sort of celebrity instead of just a hard-working business person who stepped up to run the county organization when a new hand was needed. But lefty blogs are read by folks whose support I could count on (and thanks to all who donated through our county committee's Act Blue site to the very sweet tune of over $800 so far). The local paper is not.
So here we go again, folks. Wish me luck! Better yet, send help.