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Saturday, May 22, 2004

Well, according to the latest figures, we have PASSED the magical 300 vote plateau!

We are now at 313 votes, a magical 3.70%. While earlier in the evening on Election Day we were up to 3.75%, we had fallen to a mere 3.62%, disheartening the troops considerably.

Added to that, we KICKED BUTT on voter efficiency. I mean it wasn't even CLOSE! Our votes cost approximately $3.20 each. Mitzi Colbath's votes cost approximately $4.10 apiece, but Paul Holvey was dead last, his votes costing over $10.25 apiece!

That's right, kiddies. Holvey paid $10 bucks and then some for each and every vote he received. And who says money isn't the grease that makes the axle of politics spin?

Of course, who would want any sort of campaign finance reform, given THOSE numbers? Great googly moogly.

"80% of life is just showing up"
--Woody Allen.

"90% of politics is just showing up"
-- Hart Williams

Friday, May 21, 2004
Out of Order

Funny. I showed up at the Democratic Party of Lane County meeting tonight. My friend, Mac McFadden came with me. Mac is a former DPLC Secretary, editor of the OUTSPOKEN, Chair of the 4th Congressional District, a Presidential Elector (an Electoral College Graduate, in other words) and many other hats' worth of Democratic activist.

He asked why it was that a character assassination piece was printed in the OUTSPOKEN, and when the policy had changed. He then asked the editor, Frank Vignola, whether he had afforded me the opportunity to respond to the attack on me in the OUTSPOKEN in the May issue (7 days before the election) and Frank lamely replied that there hadn't been time.

One would think that Frank would have, then, NOT printed the letter until the FOLLOWING month, since that way it would not affect the election, and I COULD be afforded an opportunity to answer the charges.

Mac noted that my "blog" accusation was that Ellen Klaastad didn't live in House District 8 -- and unless she'd moved, she STILL didn't live in House District 8, and that I had said Rick Klaastad had not informed me that Ellen was Holvey's Treasurer and that he STILL hadn't informed me that Ellen was Holvey's Treasurer.

Dan Isaacson, whose letter in defense of the OUTSPOKEN piece, officially signed as DPLC Vice Chair, and, thus the official response to my protest of the piece, proceeded to pretend to be a great debater, lawyer and Railroad Engineer, and tried to sweep the whole thing under the rug. (We'll take that up at the next Executive Committee meeting).

No. Mac pointed out that the bylaws clearly state:
D. Conduct.
1. Elected Party representatives shall not use their official titles and offices to endorse or otherwise promote the election of one Democratic candidate over another in any election, other than an internal party election, unless the Party has made an endorsement as provided in Article VIII

Frank Vignola admitted that he had endorsed Holvey prior to the endorsement meeting. Isaacson protested that he hadn't used his "title" for the endorsement, making it in somewise OK.

Isaacson attempted to lawyer it that Vignola hadn't used his TITLE to endorse Paul Holvey, nor had he officially endorsed the letter. He rejoined that he had addressed the whole issue in an email. Mac said: Yeah. I've seen it. Isaacson hadn't been prepared for THAT.

This wasn't good enough for Mac (or me, for that matter) and when Isaacson said that the Executive Committee would take up this "grey area" at a further meeting.

Mac asked what area of the bylaws were a "gray area." Strangely, Dan was fundamentally non-responsive, and changed the subject. To Mac's request whether the minutes would be available, Isaacson replied that they always were.

Funny, the March and April minutes of the DPLC Exec Committee are nowhere to be found, at present. You know, the ones where I was "resigned" without having resigned, and when another House District officer attempted to resign, was ASKED to take a leave of absence? Right.

Funny. Not a word has been said except for the draft minutes, and the letter in the WEEKLY, but the final March minutes, and the draft and final April minutes don't seem to be available. Not that I can find. And not that another Exec Committee member can find.

Odd, ain't it?

The rug was getting pretty lumpy when I asked to make a point.

Before I could speak, though, some clueless little old lady stood up and upbraided Mac for having the temerity to speak up. I guess she never actually read the Constitution. In Oregon, we don't like it when people talk about bad things. We don't DO anything when bad things are DONE, of course. It's just impolite to mention them. Oy.

Isaacson had me come to the front of the room. When I did, and began to explain that my point was not a personal one (I made the mistake of stating that the shenanigans of the campaign were matters of public record -- which, while true, was probably impolitic, since the truth seems to threaten these people -- that the OUTSPOKEN serves a PR function and doesn't only go out to PCPs but also to contributors, he started to argue with me (inappropriate) and when I attempted to conclude my point, he said, I'm the Vice Chair, and I replied, no, you're the Vice President. No one seemed to get it.

They had printed on the agenda: President's Report, and Vice President's Report. Funny, I don't remember them becoming President and Vice President, but I merely corrected him, based on the agenda as printed. He then ruled me "Out of order" when I attempted to finish my point (which was that squabbling in the OUTSPOKEN was contrary to our mission statement, which is to elect Democrats, and would cost us our contributors).

He then banged the gavel and demanded that I cease speaking. "You are out of order!" he burbled.

There was loud applause from one Democrat present. It was Paul Holvey's wife. I think the rest of the room was in a sort of state of horror.

Funny, I can remember few times (except when Bruce goes on and on and scares people) that anyone has ever been ruled out of order. So I guess I should feel lucky.

So, the question is: why did Isaacson have me come to the front of the room? So that he could publicly humiliate me, of course. But I don't humiliate that easy. Sorry Danny boy. Oy.

Let's see: they assassinate my character in the OUTSPOKEN. The Vice Chair writes in his official reply:


This will be the only reply given to your inquiry on the latest Outspoken and thus any reply sent to my in-box will be immediately discarded. The purpose of this letter is to offer a dose of reality to this situation.

Since I do not work for the Holvey campaign and neither does Pat Riggs-Hensonor Carleen Reiley, I want to ask why you refer your attacks to the local Democratic Leadership, when only the treasurer of the Party is involved in a such a position. To date I have not seen any favoritism toward any one candidate by either Pat, Carleen or myself, and for that matter, by the general body..." (Weird non-sequitur, since I was protesting a personal smear and a character assassination piece in the latest issue of the OUTSPOKEN, which is the official publication of the DPLC, and, as to the DPLC officers, who the HECK was I supposed to protest to? The Easter Bunny? And so on and so forth. See "Smear Officially Sanctioned" on my main page for the entire, nauseating excess of sophistry).

So I'm silenced THERE.

And now I'm silenced at the Central Committee level.

I guess they don't want me to avail myself of the First Amendment, although they sure as heck pride themselves on having it when it's me they're attacking, don't they?

So I'm Out of Order.

At least I ain't out of my mind.

Excelsior, and thankyou thankyou thankyou Mac for being the one Democrat who had the balls to say something publicly. One other prominent Democrat confided to me at the Kitty Piercy party later in the evening that he had expressed his opinion that what was done in the OUTSPOKEN was inappropriate. But he took no public stance.

I am beginning to believe that vertibrates form a distinct minority in the Democratic Party of Lane County.

To my vertibrate friend Mac, kudos. To the others: shame on you. When they do this stuff to YOU, I'll still stand up for you, no matter how little you deserve it.


'Cause that's the kind of guy I am.

"Mystery Rangers ASSEMBLE!" Or maybe "DISASSEMBLE!"

But never, as in the case of the DPLC Officers, "DISSEMBLE."


Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Now It Can Be Told (with apologies to K. Vonnegut)

Well, now we know WHY it was that the Register-Guard didn't find the 93% out-of-district-contributions figure interesting, even though every single voter I told it to was appalled, and indignant that no one had told them so.

Because, you see, it turns out I'm NOT a writer, after all, but, rather, a Tax Preparer and Democratic Activist. Hoorah. I sent the following corrective to the RG's Salem office, but I doubt it will be handled with any more care than covering the campaign was.

First they strip you of your dignity. Then they strip you of your profession. Then they strip you of your existence, I would suppose, except, thanks to the Secretary of State's office, that's ALREADY happened. Oy.

Dear Mr. Steves:

You write:

"... Holvey successfully fended off challenges by area civic activist and accountant Marlene "Mitzi" Colbath and Democratic Party activist and tax preparer Hart Williams, both fellow Eugene residents."

I am occasionally a licensed tax preparer, true. But I haven't spent the last 28 years of my life as one, nor have I written novels, short stories, articles, interviews or, yes, investigative pieces as a "tax preparer."

Most accurately, I am an author, sir. ISBN 0-441-10511-4 and ISBN 1-85501-542-2 (The latter was published in its second Commonwealth edition in 1994. The former fetches over $50 a copy when it shows up on eBay.)

It's bad enough losing a race without being mischaracterized professionally by a job that a business school dropout could master with a mite wee bit of study. I am a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981, AFLCIO, and have been for nearly a decade ... and, well, here's another newspaper's description in the Oregonian last Sunday:

Hart Williams is a Eugene writer who recently reviewed "Train" by Pete Dexter for The Oregonian.

from The Oregonian

Thrilling tale of an epic journey, through a mysterious land

Josiah Harlan rose to power in the 1800s in Afghanistan

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Josiah Harlan was an amazing fellow, both as an adventurer and as a shameless humbug. Born in Philadelphia in 1799, Harlan took passage at 20 on a ship to India where -- having picked up a few tricks from his physician brother, and spurned by his Philadelphia sweetheart -- he set out for India, passed himself off as a doctor and vowed never to return.

This began an epic journey that included serving as a British physician in the Burmese war of 1824 and on to Afghanistan and, ultimately, to the left hand of the Afghan King and a kingdom Harlan would never rule, as Prince of Ghor.

Harlan, writes Ben Macintyre in "The Man Who Would Be King: The First American In Afghanistan," was the model for Rudyard Kipling's short story "The Man Who Would Be King." As Macintyre shows, Harlan is far more interesting than that.

Possessed with an unnatural amount of chutzpah, a keen intellect and an almost insanely fearless constitution, Harlan left the employ of the British, befriended the deposed king of Afghanistan, Shah Shujah, and negotiated a deal wherein Harlan would get to rule a province (if not the whole of "Avghanistan") in return for restoring Shujah to the Afghan throne.

Harlan's trip through the then-barely known lands between the Indian frontier and the capital city of Kabul was epic, as he met the sitting king, Dost Mohammed Khan, all the while following and dreaming in Alexander the Great's footsteps. In many places, Harlan was the first European anyone had ever seen. At one point, he disguised himself as a Muslim holy man, an act of astonishing gall that he somehow pulled off.

Harlan managed -- through a combination of cunning, guile, intelligence and sheer brass -- to rise to power, first as governor for a powerful Sikh maharajah, and finally as the trusted general of the Afghan king, fighting against the British and their attempt to install his former patron Shujah as the Afghan king.

Returning to the U.S., this "Lawrence of Afghanistan" sought fame and fortune by publishing a book so relentlessly critical of British imperial designs in Afghanistan that it ended his burgeoning literary career before it began. It didn't matter that he was tragically correct.

Harlan turned his attentions to introducing camels to the American West, to growing Afghan grapes and to raising a cavalry regiment in the Civil War.

Finally, in San Francisco, the old quack returned to his "medical practice" cheerfully unfettered by law or licenses, and traded in his self-appointed honorific as "General" Harlan for "Doctor" Harlan.

Harlan's is an astonishing story that was unearthed by Macintyre, who found Harlan's unpublished memoir and the moldering "deed" to his kingdom.

If there is a flaw to this gripping book, it is that Macintyre spends more time looking down his nose at Harlan's admittedly florid prose than in really "getting inside" Harlan. Macintyre keeps an unnecessary distance, tending to judge the book by its cover -- but what a cover it is!

The point that isn't lost, though, is the lesson that while Afghan tribes constantly bicker, they historically unite when invaded. "Macedonian, Mogul, Persian, Russian, British and Soviet armies had all tried, and failed, to control the Afghan tribes," Macintyre writes. It remains to be seen whether history will repeat itself.

Hart Williams is a Eugene writer who recently reviewed "Train" by Pete Dexter for The Oregonian.

Ob-La-De Ob-La-Da life goes on bra ...
(With apologies to Paul McCartney)

A Sober Post-Mortem

Well, at 296 votes, I received less than half the votes that Lyndon LaRouche did in Lane County. Of course, with absentee and write-in votes, and the inevitable "lost box" that Lane County elections manages to find every election, I still hold out hope that I can top the magical 300 mark.

That would allow me to apply for Federal Matching funds in their "Holy Crud, what an Embarrassment!" Program -- a little-known but much revered fictitious Government Entitlement that was established to fund the "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" seat at George Washington University.

The "ego" hit hasn't been that bad. Yeah, I got the living shit kicked out of me, and the "In-Crowd" gets to snicker at that dumb old Hart Williams and his presumption that the voters of Lane County would arouse themselves from their apathetic somnombulance for just long enough to notice that, with 93 cents out of every dollar coming from outside HD8 in Paul Holvey's "Let's Loot The Union Dues" fundraiser, their voice might have just been sold to the highest bidder.

At a BARGAIN, according to the REGISTER-GUARD, I note. For spending a mere $60,000 for 5500 votes, this signal victory for Holvey represents a savings of roughly $15,000 from what OTHER candidates in the state are buying their seats for.

But the reasons, as I said, remain. So the ego isn't really that bruised, because the ego was never really the issue. I can hold my head up, and, following a deep depression, two cigarettes and a double-decker Dagwood special cheeseburger, I'm just fine, thank you.

Following the campaign, I had to admit that I obtained three new skills (things I'd never tried before and will retain long after this campaign is over, and the incumbency of my opponent has ceased): I learned to make buttons, and obtained a button machine. I learned how to design and make lawn signs. And, finally, I finally did radio spots. All three skills will come in handy in years to come. So, that's the upside.

And, therefore, following the lead of another Democrat who had the cojones to speak out, I'm not retiring my website or my organization.

Instead, we're renaming it "Democracy for Lane County," in the hopes that our quixotic dream might one day be fulfilled.

See http://www.hartwilliams.com/hd8 for details. Or, heck, just click here: DEMOCRACY.

Many many thanks to those who supported this campaign so generously, and who worked so tirelessly for so little. We fought the good fight, and, if I might take a moment to comment on my opponents:

I wish Mitzi great good fortune in her future political life, provided that she learns to play by the rules.

And to Paul Holvey and his entire organization, I wish them everything that they so truly deserve.

They have earned every bit of it.

Bloody but unbowed, this is Hart Williams, signing off as a House District candidate, but the blog, the website, and the battle go on.

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little."
-- Edmund Burke


Well, some parties have believed that people in South Eugene would actually care. Others told me that I was tilting at windmills.

Evidently the latter class was correct.

Click here to see the final results (hint: use your browser's "SEARCH" function and look for "Hart" that ought to do it).

There was a lovely moment at Election Central at the fairgrounds (about which more later) When Chris Matson -- the fellow who was paid $3000 by the Holvey campaign, if you will recall -- threatened me in the presence of two witnesses, saying: "Take my name off your blog, or I'll contact EPUD."

Well, again, it's nice to know that your enemies are the most avid readers of your blog. Sorry, Chris.

You have to give him credit for getting my email drop correct, but, alas, my webpage is on another server -- a high-speed server back on the East Coast, which I chose for
1) Their reliability,
2) Their exceptional price
3) Their company stability (they ain't selling to a bigger fish)
4) The fact that you can hit this website as much as you want, but you can't crash it. Easier to try a denial of service attack on AOL
by the by, just in case,
5) it can easily handle multiple streaming video downloads on a massive scale.

I've been with them a few years, and I really think their service is sterling.

But if Chris Matson -- who, as you will recall, was paid $3000 by the Holvey campaign -- wants to be upset that the facts have been herein delineated regarding his association with the campaign, I welcome him to file a libel suit. In fact, I'd encourage it, since I would really enjoy watching him attempt to prove that his actions -- which are a matter of both public record and which, in the case of the Endorsement Meeting, were witnessed by hundreds of Democrats -- were different in any wise than what has been reported here.

Sorry, Chris Matson: I'm a journalist, and I don't rewrite history because of threats, whether said threats require Viagra or no.

I'll write more about the Debacle at the Fairgrounds later, but for those of you who wanted to know, painful though it might be to report this, there you have it. I was not victorious.

I did not come back with my shield; I came back on it. This should give someone somewhere some sort of solace.

Or something.


Monday, May 17, 2004

The die is cast, the Rubicon is crossed. I am not at all convinced that standing on a street corner waving a sign in the air has any practical application at this point, so I am eschewing it.

The ads have been running, and will run again tomorrow. It is now a tad more than 27 hours before the outcome is known. As I write this, John Kerry is speaking in Portland. Had I the wherewithal, I'd be there, but having driven there and back yesterday, I just don't have it in me. So ...

I can say this: Mitzi thought that she needed 90 days for her campaign. Paul thought that he needed 90 days as well, but held the overt portion to the 60 days that the rules allow.

I said, back in the middle of April, that I only needed 30 days.

Frankly, I still believe that to be true. My opponents have both run Twentieth Century campaigns. I have been forced to think outside the box, and have run a Twenty-First Century campaign, and we shall see who was right and who was wrong. Soon enough, that is.

Paul feels that he needs $60,000.

Mitzi has spent approximately $10,000.

I have spent (and will spend, in toto) almost exactly $1000.

*If* money is the only point, then we all know the outcome. If, however, other factors are the point here, then I believe that tomorrow night should prove very interesting.

Sun Tzu, in THE ART OF WAR, noted several thousand years ago that there is a time for action, and a time to be still. A time to attack, a time to prepare, and a time to wait.

This is the time to wait.

Everything that could be done -- within reason -- has been done. All that might have been attempted has been attempted; everything that has come to mind has been acted on. So now it is in the lap of the gods, as they used to say. Clearly, I have a great interest in one particular outcome, but the most important thing here is that the decision is out of my hands. I will tell you in advance that I am prepared to accept the verdict of the people. That is what democracy is all about, and this campaign has been prompted by committment to those principles, and not from any false ego that I am the person who will save Oregon, fix the budget, or because I want to prove to the kids back in school who teased me what an important and impressive fellow I am.

This is my line in the sand: if those principles I stand for are accepted by the electorate, then I am nominated, and I have promised to follow the process through to its conclusion, no matter what the outcome. I will not shirk, nor will I back down.

I have tried to offer something different, an alternative to the same sort of politics that has proven so utterly ineffective in Salem, lo, these past ten years. The choice now is in the hands of the people. I trust and accept that choice.

The media have been, frankly, astonishingly lax, uninterested, and disengaged. As a professional, I feel sorry for them. There is a great story here, a story that I will pursue NO MATTER what the outcome. But I am at peace that I have given it my very best shot under the circumstances and limitations under which I, as a mortal man, as a person of limited means, as a citizen of my state, must compete.

I have competed fairly and cleanly. I have followed the rules, written and unwritten, and I have criticized my opponents fairly, without distortion or falsification. If you're going to go after an incumbent (Hart's Law) you have to GO after them. No nicey-nicey. No holds barred, no phony civility. This is a battle, pure and simple, but battles have their rules, and I am satisfied that I have conducted my campaign with integrity, decency and a fundamental fairness.

The underhanded stuff is on my opponents' heads. Whether they sleep well with it or not is their business. I sleep just fine. :)

So, the clock ticks, and we await the resolution of that article of democratic faith: vox populi, vox dei. The Voice of the People is the Voice of God.

I wonder what the People have to say.

Tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick ...

hart williams
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