The Fall Of A Rising Star


What You Need To Know: A Summary For You Lazy Asses


·         In the Ohio U.S. Senate race, Democrat Paul Hackett, a superb candidate, has withdrawn under pressure from national Democratic Party leaders.  Unfortunately, in the process of doing so he is extricating himself from politics altogether.  The result is the Party, Ohio, and the USA losing someone who would have made a great politician.


 


The Democratic Party has suffered a great loss.  In The Politics Of 2005 Part II: The Political Battlefields, I mentioned how the U.S. Senate race in Ohio was soured by the presence of two strong competitors in the Democratic primary, Iraq war veteran and attorney Paul L. Hackett III and Rep. Sherrod Brown (OH-13).  Strangely enough, almost every high-profile Ohio Democrat, Brown included (on August 17 2005), had initially taken a pass in the race, setting Hackett up to be the unchallenged Democratic contender.  But just days after Hackett announced he was entering the race (in late October 2005), Brown reversed himself and jumped into the race, angering Hackett and bringing to life the unpleasant situation of having two strong candidates competing in the Democratic primary.  That situation ended two days ago when Hackett withdrew from the Ohio Senate race – and politics altogether, it seems – in spectacular fashion.  His announcement:


Today I am announcing that I am withdrawing from the race for United States Senate. I made this decision reluctantly, only after repeated requests by party leaders, as well as behind the scenes machinations, that were intended to hurt my campaign.


But there was no quid pro quo. I will not be running in the Second Congressional District nor for any other elective office. This decision is final, and not subject to reconsideration.


I told the voters from the beginning that I am not a career politician and never aspired to be – that I was about leadership, service and commitment.


Similarly, I told party officials that I had given my word to other good Democrats, who will take the fight to the Second District, that I would not run. In reliance on my word they entered the race. I said it. I meant it. I stand by it. At the end of the day, my word is my bond and I will take it to my grave.


Thus ends my 11 month political career. Although it is an overused political cliche, I really will be spending more time with my family, something I wasn’t able to do because my service to country in the political realm continued after my return from Iraq. Perhaps my wonderful wife Suzi said it best after we made this decision when she said “Honey, welcome home.” I really did marry up.


To my friends and supporters, I pledge that I will continue to fight and to speak out on the issues I believe in. As long as I have the microphone, I will serve as your voice.


It is with my deepest respect and humility that I thank each and every one of you for the support you extended to our campaign to take back America, and personally to me and my family. Together we made a difference. We changed the debate on the Iraq War, we inspired countless veterans to continue their service by running for office as Democrats and we made people believe again. We must continue to believe.


Remember, we must retool our party. We must do more than simply aspire to deliver greatness; we must have the commitment and will to fight for what is great about our party and our country; Peace, prosperity and the freedoms that define our democracy.


Rock on.


Paul Hackett


I’ll state my opinion as clearly and succinctly as I can: all the potential contenders, Brown included, had taken themselves out of the running, and moreover had encouraged Hackett to enter the race.  Therefore, it was incumbent on Ohio Democrats to unite behind Hackett.  For no one does this apply more than Brown, who, after all, was among them strongly pushing Hackett into the race.  Why get someone into the race only to jump in yourself days after he decides to run?  It makes no sense.


 



Paul Hackett. Source: Hackett for U.S. Senate


 


The greater tragedy is that with the statement “Thus ends my 11 month political career”, Hackett, one of the most telegenic, straight-shooting, charismatic, talented men ever to run under the Democratic Party banner, and a rising star by all accounts in the Party, has left us.  We have lost him.  What could have been one of the most remembered and stellar of Democratic Congressional careers is now doomed to enter the annals of history as nothing more than a footnote mentioning him as a man who narrowly lost a House race.


 


Okay, here’s some complaints I’m expecting:


 


Sherrod Brown didn’t withdraw himself from consideration; he was just taking time to decide (because of family issues or whatever).


 


No, Brown took himself out of the running, plain and simple. (Annoyingly enough, I can’t seem to find Brown’s official statement online.  I can only get it from this blog.  Sorry.)


 


In this article, Brown claims he was “wrestling with whether to run because of family considerations” (the article’s words).  That flat-out contradicts his statement which says he was running for reelection in the House (see the blog link above), and it mentions nothing along the lines of deferring a decision because of family considerations. (Btw, that article is a short but good read.)


 


Sherrod Brown was by far raising more money than Paul Hackett was.


 


That’s probably only because Brown was in the race; I’m sure had he not been, Hackett would be raising enough money to be competitive.  Even if that weren’t so, it’s not an excuse to jettison the candidate.


 


You’re just bitter because you were a Paul Hackett fanatic.


 


Okay, I admit I just put that complaint in to clarify something: While I think Hackett is fine in terms of ideology and stances, Brown is by far closer to me ideologically and going by ideology would be my obvious choice.  But I think he should have stayed out of the race because he had already said he would.



 



Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH-13). Source: toledoblade.com


 


Sherrod Brown is the better candidate to win the general election.


 


Is he?  Both candidates have their strengths and flaws.  Like I said, Brown is close to me and most other Democrats ideologically – meaning he’s a left-wing progressive/liberal.  For me that’d in and of itself win my wholehearted support, but it might not fly that way in rural southern Ohio. (Hackett is fairly progressive/liberal but deviates from the Democratic line on a few social issues – most notably gun control – and is more moderate rhetorically.) Republicans are already calibrating their political weaponry to paint Brown as the far-left liberal loony of the race.  Hackett – or any other Democrat, really – would have been subjected to the same treatment, of course, but with Hackett as the nominee Republicans would probably focus on what they perceive as Hackett’s verbal missteps and unpatriotic ranting.  Hackett, in turn, would parlay that as proof of straight-shooting and firm convictions, something that would speak volumes in an election cycle dominated by news of Republican dishonesty.  And Brown would (hopefully) parlay his liberal voting record as everything such a record should be sold as – unabashed belief in the responsibility of the federal government to maintain an activist role in the maintenance and improvement of the nation and its citizenry, and the power of the federal government to make a difference in the lives of all Americans, including the most destitute (this is part of what I called Breakthrough Strategy). (Hopefully, as the Democrats’ de facto nominee, this is what Brown does, instead of running on a wishy-washy wimp “I’m not for big government!” platform ala John Kerry.) My point in all this is that I think both candidates were good Democrats, would be fine U.S. Senators and would defeat Republican incumbent R. Michael DeWine.  But the difference is, Brown withdrew from the race and then Hackett entered (with Brown’s support) so Hackett should have been the Democratic unity candidate.


 


Paul Hackett is just being a whiny loser by complaining about party manipulation and not running for the CD-2 seat.


 


I do think that Hackett was making a mistake by taking himself out of politics, and was disappointed that he’s not running for the CD-2 seat (or any other seat).  That said, Hackett is by no means a favorite for winning the CD-2 seat, or, if he does win, holding onto the seat for more than one term.  It’s certainly possible, but whether or not it will happen is an open question that ultimately only Hackett could answer, and clearly Hackett did not think he would win.  Also, according to him he had promised other Democrats running in that district that he would not run, and his commitment to keeping his word is nothing short of admirable.  More importantly, in regards to the Senate race I think Brown’s standing is equally questionable insofar as reversing himself on a decision he had already made, and in doing so opening up a divisive primary where none had existed before and where it could’ve been avoided.  From Hackett’s point of view, Brown promised to stay out of the election – a claim Brown denies – but regardless of whether Brown actually made that promise the fact remains that Brown had took himself out of consideration and was actively encouraging Hackett to run.  To do that, and then find your Party turning against you, makes me feel really sorry for him.  I have the feeling – though maybe I’m just being incredibly naïve – that Hackett’s statements were a genuine expression of his emotions; after all, what does Hackett have to gain practically from bitching about Party shenanigans?  It seems that Hackett did not want to be your usual calculating politician – notice how he goes on a limb to say all kinds of outlandish things and greatly values forthrightness and fidelity to promises – and the “machinations” of national Democrats really turned him off to the entire political process.  Viewed from that context, I would argue that Hackett had a legitimate complaint about the conclusion of this whole sorry mess.


 


Bottom line is, the Democrats now have a liberal candidate in position to be the next U.S. Senator from Ohio (I hope fervently that Brown runs on a full-throated big-government liberal platform and does it well, and I hope whatever Democrat replacing Brown in the Thirteenth District does the same) but at the cost of one of their greatest rising stars.  I had serious bad feelings when Brown and Hackett both declared themselves candidates and knew this was not going to end well.  Sadly, the conclusion is messier than I feared.  This is truly a political tragedy.


 


February 15 2006 edit: Added the pictures.

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UCSD’s Genetic Disorder

Okay, before I go any further I want to say that I generally like UCSD and I’m glad to be here.  But sometimes – a lot of times, lately – I wish I could’ve gone somewhere else, well, “better” – at least, more prestigious, and without UCSD’s glaring defect.  What is that defect?


 


This quarter, I attempted to enroll in a course called BICD 100 (Genetics).  Just so you know, this is the only course that all students within the myriad (eight, to be exact) majors of the Division of Biological Sciences are required to take.  In other words, every bio student – no matter if they’re in general bio or EBE or biochem or human bio or whatever specialization – is required to take this class.  Professor Laurie G. Smith is one of the more popular genetics instructors (though she only received an average rating on RateMyProfessors.com) and the class, while having a decently large enrollment limit of 412, is located in Peterson 108, which I don’t think is large enough to actually seat so many students.


 



Professor Laurie G. Smith


 


I attempted to enroll via WebReg and found that I was smack dab in the middle of a horrendously long waiting list.  I forget the exact number but it was something on the order of 385 or so.  Pretty much enough to start another class.  Unfortunately… the Division of BioSci wasn’t having that and no other professor seemed willing or able to step up and teach another genetics class.  I started out as Number 240 or so and then my number fell somewhat so the last time I checked (two weeks after instruction started) I was at 195 or thereabouts. 


 


But anyway, going back to the story.  So, having failed to actually enroll but securing a spot on the wait list, I went to the first lecture and… WOW.  PETER 108 was basically carpeted wall-to-wall with human bodies.  For those of you who go to UCSD and know what it looks like, imagine all the seats filled, plus the back area, plus both stairwells, plus the front area, as students set up camps lining the exits and the front row.  It was fucking insane.  I mean, it’s like, all these people, packed like rats in a overcrowded pet store container, wanting to be in this class.


 


It was this experience (plus that of attending the next couple of lectures, which weren’t any better) that reminded me of why I wanted to avoid UCSD (and UC’s in general) in the first place: There’s too many goddamn fucking people here.  I mean, I love you all and everything, but I really wish there were less (make that way less) people at UCSD.  I mean, at a big school like UCSD I really feel like an insignificant ant in a colony, competing with all the other single-minded, ignorant unwashed ant-masses for attention and survival.  I hate the big classes where people are packed like sardines; I hate walking along the pathways filled with massive rivers of backpacked students.  I wanted to go to a small private school where classes were 20-people large and you could always get a desk that would actually cover your entire lap instead of just your right thigh.  It’s too bad I did so bad in high school (goddamn Monta Vista) and so got rejected from every private school I applied to.


 


Besides massive class sizes and too many people, UCSD has a few other problems too.  Namely, surroundings and class composition.  I mean, I’m not normally a race-conscious person, but I look around and notice – hmm! – whites and Asians!  And that includes quite a number of fobs that walk around chattering some insane language on their cell phones. (For some reason, I never hear fobs actually speaking Mandarin.) There are practically no Hispanics or blacks here.  I know like one of each.  And there’s something about the La Jolla area and University City, east of the I-5, that just screams clean suburbanism: nice paved streets, green lawns, ridiculously good-looking and expensive housing, lots of cars – some of them quite expensive/powerful/tricked-out (the Subaru Impreza WRX (and its STi variant) is quite common in these parts) and driven by arrogant yuppies spoiled by their parents – and a big Westfield mall with Abercrombie & Fitch/Hollister/Gap/Forever 21/American Eagle/the other usuals.  Plus, everyone studies and focuses on grad school/law school/med school/pharm school/whatever comes after college obsessively.  Oh yeah, and there never seems to be any parties around here, and when there are life somehow finds a way to keep me from going to them.


 


Does that sound familiar?  Lots of whites and Asians, all studying and no prevalent partying, surrounded by an affluent suburb with expensive cars and a Westfield mall with expensive yuppie stores… Cupertinoans, you know what I’m talking about… UCSD is like ANOTHER FUCKING MONTA VISTA!!!1!!1!!!


 


Okay you might think I’ve completely lost it.  I mean, MV doesn’t have eucalyptus trees, a bizarre bird-man statue, and a building that flashes neon-light words like “GLUTTONY”, “LUST”, “SLOTH”.  But the whole suburby thing, and the whites/Asians/fobs?  That’s so MV!


 


It’s most likely true that some of the parts of UCSD that I associate with MV are of my design.  The everyone-studying-thing might be a function of the people I tend to end up befriending.  And the parties thing is really my fault.  But the race and the Westfield mall have nothing to do with me!  Plus it’s somewhat annoying that there are so many people from MV here.


 


Going back to the original point of all this, UCSD’s big classes as well as the other MV-like things I mentioned contribute to making me feel a certain way that MV made me feel: that I’m in the middle of somewhere that’s totally meaningless, that’s a cookie-cutter factory churning out wired robotic workers, that I’m just one ant in a huge colony.  BICD 100 is a good example of that dynamic. (I didn’t get in, which is actually just as well as I’d be totally swamped right now if I had.) The whole big-lecture-hall-have-to-squint-to-see-the-professor format was exactly what I wanted to avoid in college, and now I’m in the thick of it.  Maybe I’m just being too whiny and complaining too much – after all, college is head-and-shoulders above high school in every possible way, I feel excited about my academic and professional plans, and class sizes will probably ease up a little as I move up the course ladder.  But ultimately, there was something I wanted in college – the small-class, enlightenment/discussion-style education of a small liberal arts school – and it’s not something I’m finding at UCSD.


 


I’m not transferring though.  I believe in sticking at a school through all four (or five, or whatever) years.  And I think things will get better.  I can only hope so.

Crazy Day: January 31 2006

What You Need To Know: A Summary For You Lazy Asses


·         Considering this isn’t a political column and thus should be somewhat “interesting”, you shouldn’t need this summary.  If you do, goddamn it, just read the fucking thing.


 


Tuesday, January 31 2006 was an insane day. (I know this is several days late, but whatever.)


 


It began with an all-nighter for my ochem midterm that day, during which I was surprisingly productive.  Instead of goofing off 75 percent of the time, I probably only goofed off 30 percent.  But that was just as well, since I had to catch up on two weeks’ worth of reading in nine hours.  During the goof-off period, I managed to construct a model of DDT.  It was quite amusing.


 


Chris came by at around 7 AM and work/studying slowed dramatically, but I did manage to finish the practice midterm.  After that, we went to his car (he had brought his car on campus) and listened to rap music.  That included our current favorite song, “Rodeo” by Juvenile (especially the line “I ain’t lying sometimes when you cross my pad up in the club all night a nigga STALK your ass…”).  We then headed over to take the midterm.


 


It was very much similar to the practice midterm, which was good.  But I don’t think I did too hot, especially cuz I ran out of time because I dozed off during the course of the exam.  Ugh.  Not to mention I had PANS which culminated in a rather sharp nauseous pain in my abdomen.  Fortunately, it wasn’t as severe as it could’ve been, partly because I mostly avoided caffeine-rich drinks the night before (all I had was a venti caffé latte with hazelnut, with the “normal” (whatever that is, it’s probably only two shots of espresso) fixings).  But needless to say I was quite tired and sick, and my legs felt like jelly as I walked out of the room.  I went with Chris back to his car, and then he gave me a lift to my apartment (which was practically next door anyway). 


 


I got back to my apartment and as I was settling down to take a nap I heard some people come in.  Guess what?  CLEANING PEOPLE came on Tuesday instead of Wednesday as I thought they would!  I hadn’t prepared at all for their arrival – and it especially sucked given that the dishes I had just washed would be put back into the sink so they could clean the kitchen counter.  UGH!


 


Oh well, I thought, nothing I could do about it now.  So I went to sleep and woke up – surprisingly enough – at around 2:30 PM, meaning I would have enough time to shower and go to class.  At class, despite the shower, I was still almost dead-tired and I felt like a zombie.


 


I excused myself early from poli sci and went back to my apartment to watch the 2006 State of the Union address. (Hey, it’s political isn’t it?) The address itself, I thought, was a powerful one on the foreign policy/Iraq front, which might be because on the particular topic of what to do in Iraq, I mostly agree with the President.  Then when the President moved onto his domestic agenda he seemed to once again revert to being the idiotic conservative baboon that we all know and love.


 



President Bush, with Vice President Cheney (left) and Speaker Hastert behind him. Source: Wikipedia


 


It was time for physics lecture, but I wanted to stay because I wanted to watch the Democratic response, to be given by newly-minted Governor Timothy M. Kaine (D-Va.).  I thought it was a good response but didn’t seem to really emphasize expanding the federal government’s role (which I wanted to see) though it did emphasize the renewal of competence and deliverance of service in the federal government, which in a way spoke to the same theme.


 



Governor Kaine. Source: CBS News


 


During the speech I had eaten my remaining Doritos (there was only a little bit left) and I hadn’t eaten anything else all day so when Tom said he was going to RIMAC to work out I felt kinda apprehensive about going.  But I decided to force myself to go and so off we went.


 


While I was stretching I laid eyes on one of the HOTTEST girls I had ever seen.  Seriously, this girl definitely looked like she went to the gym every day, and I couldn’t help but stare at her as she walked up the ramp to the treadmills.  I tried to forget about her but the fly machine I normally use was not operational, so the other one was – just my luck! – behind the treadmills.  I eagerly went to go use it and took the opportunity to get another look at this girl.  She was apparently a patient one, too, as she waited at least several minutes for a treadmill to open up.  Just to make sure my nearsighted eyes weren’t deceiving me (I didn’t have my glasses) I got Tom to check her out, and he confirmed her hotness.


 


As I moved on to different exercises, I constantly felt tired and out-of-breath.  If I stopped moving at any moment, I found myself hunched over and panting.  I was definitely working on an energy deficit.  Finally, when I was doing pull-ups, my head started swimming and I took that as a sign that it would probably be wise to cut back on my workout.  So I finished off with just two sets of rather unsatisfying bicep curls, weighed myself, and left with Tom to go to OVT to get a much-needed dinner.


 


The fries turned out good, but the carne asada burrito that I was counting on to provide protein was the worst item I ever ordered at any UCSD dining hall.  Normally they’re good enough, but my server totally fucked up the burrito so that the contents were leaking out the fold in the side.  I had to use a spoon to clean up the mess on the plate.  Even worse, the contents were unusually liquidy, so that every time a took a bite the sauces would ooze up and out onto my hands.  And the sour cream leaked out from the bottom to mix with my salsa (to create a surprisingly delicious sauce that I later used as a dip for my fries).  It was very disgusting, and definitely disappointing.


 


After that mess Tom and I were about to walk back to the apartment when we spied a loop bus making a turn.  We then had to run back and down the stairs and to the bus stop, which was not good for a stomach that had been racked by PANS-induced nausea and then filled with what barely passed for a burrito.  Surprisingly enough, we caught the bus and took it back home.


 


The remainder of the day was tranquil by comparison.  Unlike the previous time I worked out, I actually had enough muscular strength remaining to undress (I had to use gravity to help me last time) and I took a relaxing shower before going online, updating my Facebook profile and doing laundry.  So that was my crazy day.  I went to bed much later than I planned to, though – just as I’m doing now in order to write this Xanga entry.  And with that note, I bid you farewell.