Thursday, July 28, 2005

"Fight 'em 'til Hell freezes over, and then fight 'em on the ice": Paul Hackett and David Van Os

One of my fellow H-Town bloggers started an online firestorm earlier this week when he suggested that there was no race in the state, or the nation for that matter, that Democrats should let go uncontested. As proof of committing this strategy to action, I give you the following:

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Paul Hackett is a Democrat, Marine, and Iraq War veteran running for Ohio's 2nd congressional district seat (vacated by newly appointed trade representative Rob Portman, who helped DeLay and Cheney twist enough arms to put CAFTA over the top last night), against Republican Jean Schmidt in next Tuesday's special election.

Hackett thinks Bush is a chickenhawk.

Schmidt has raised and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, Bush is making recorded phone calls into the district on her behalf, she is flying on private jets to DC to raise more money, and all of the rest of the typical full-court press is being applied by the GOP to hold on to a district that has gone at least 70% Republican for the last twenty years (28% for the Democrats in 2004).

Why? Because despite all that, polls show Hackett within the margin of error.

Oh yeah, the Republicans are also attempting to Swift-Boat him.

Join me, and these other Texas bloggers, one of whom has appointed Hackett an Honorary Texan, by doing what you can to support his candidacy in these few days before the special election next week.

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David Van Os, a former general counsel of the Texas AFL-CIO, is the Democratic candidate for Texas Attorney General. He received the President’s Citation for Achievement in Civil Rights from the NAACP in 1990, and he went to Florida in 2000 to assist the Democratic Party in that state's infamous vote recount efforts. In private practice as a labor law attorney since 1984, Van Os also advised retired Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, he of the CBS-Dan Rather/Dubya-TANG memo fame, during that affair.

This past week, Van Os named prominent civil rights activist Rev. Peter Johnson his campaign manager and traveled to Cass County, Texas, where a hearing was held by the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference regarding the circumstances of the assault of Billy Ray Johnson, a mildly retarded African-American man who was beaten badly by four white men and left for dead atop a fire ant mound. The FBI and local law enforcement officials investigated the case and came to the conclusion that what happened to Johnson was a crime based on his mental incapacity, not his race; thus no state or federal hate crimes or civil rights charges were lodged. The men charged and tried -- one of whom was working as a guard for the Cass county jail at the time -- received deferred adjudication, probation, and brief jail sentences of 30 to 60 days. (Two other recent deaths of African-Americans, one from hanging and one from a rifle blast, were ruled suicides by local authorities under suspicious circumstances. Chillingly, empty nooses have been found hanging from tree branches in apparent warnings. These reports have enjoyed a low profile in local media; it took a story in the Chicago Tribune to elevate the Johnson case to semi-public attention.)

In 1998 Van Os ran for the Texas Supreme Court against then-Justice (now incumbent Attorney General) Greg Abbott and was defeated. In 2004 he ran again for the Texas Supreme Court against now-chief justice Scott Brister and lost 58% to 41% (Bush defeated John Kerry in Texas by a count of 60-38).

In short, Van Os knows first-hand about David vs. Goliath matchups. He has won a few battles and lost a few, but he has always fought on the side of the little guy against the big-moneyed corporate and special interests, the ones who currently hold the Texas Supreme Court and the Legislature in a hammerlock. He is a progressive populist in the grand tradition of Texas liberals like Ralph Yarbrough and Oscar Mauzy. Here's a sample from one of his recent speeches:

It is time to discard the "avoid polarization at all costs" strategy, the "take no risks" strategy, the "appeal to everybody" strategy, and the "chase the middle" strategy. It is time to remember what Jim Hightower told us 20 years ago: "there's nothin' in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos." It is time to cease the followership strategies of scripting campaigns on the basis of what pollsters say people thought yesterday, and assert the leadership strategies of campaigning for what we know to be right based on our deepest convictions of what we want for tomorrow. It is time to stop worrying about whom we might offend if we speak truth to power, and start worrying about what value are our lives if we don't speak truth to power. It is time to cherish partisan Democrats and reject nonpartisan Nothingcrats. It is time to forget "right-left" analysis and install "right-wrong" analysis. It is time to replace the "liberal-conservative" spectrum with the "liberty-tyranny" spectrum. It is time to stop worrying about how to get money from big donors and start worrying about how to get more money into working people's paychecks. It is time to fight for better lives for voters instead of peddling promises to voters. It is time to treat public office as a duty, not a promotion. We must fight for the people, not in order to win their votes, but in order to win them justice.


Van Os considers it a successful fundraiser when a group of forty club Democrats in Houston pass the hat and get enough to pay his traveling expenses from San Antonio.

Do what you can for him.

(In the interests of full disclosure, I will be serving on the steering committee of Van Os' campaign.)

1 comment:

ohio-slammer said...
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