By Ken Krayeske • 7:00 AM EST
Mail Call! The spam filter works exceedingly well on the e-mails, but I still find plenty of strange items of communication in my snail mail box.
I've gotten one magazine subscription too many, and they sold my name to various lists. And so I get address labels garnished with orangutan photos, letters from Walter Cronkite pitching drug legalization and flat Earth brochures arguing against Copernican heliocentric models of the galaxy.
The information delivered by the postman is sometimes utilitarian, like the Hartford 2000 meeting minutes (they always thank Joe Barber for bringing refreshments!). Other times, I see sophisticated messaging, like the Americans United fundraiser stumping for a separation of church and state.
The most consistent mail campaign, after the credit card offers, is the onslaught of print materials from the Democratic Party. First, Al Gore sent me a plea on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "We must not fail in that mission" to save America from the clutches of evil Republicans, Gore beseeched in the first graf.
"On November 4, we must end this assault on reason," Gore wrote, underlined. Sorry, Al, you had your chance to oust the Republicans eight years ago, but that’s another bag of apples.
Then the money ask envelope fell out, and while, I don't trust the senate to do anything of import, I sent them a little note back that said war creates greenhouse gas emissions. Let’s end it now.
Gore's glowing recommendation of a bunch of appeasers was easier to stomach than the "Thanks a million" postcard from a smiling Dick Cheney. It's a company selling cell phone service, playing on my fears that my current cell phone provider donated to the Republican Party. It exhorts me to vote with my dollars and go with an indy phone company.
And then there was the letter from MyRichUncle.com, a private student loan agency, offering a 6.51 percent variable APR for as much as a full year’s tuition. This comes on the heels of an email from Quinnipiac's Director of Financial Aid telling me that some student loan servicers are selling their loans, and fewer loans are available because of the credit crunch.
Great. My incoming communications leave me bummed. Then a day after I received my annual membership renewal for the Hartford Preservation Alliance, there sat an envelope bearing Barack Obama's return address.
How about that? Not only do Obama's volunteers call me to work at a voter registration drive at Weaver High School in Hartford’s North End on July 19, 2008, but Obama sends me personalized mail. It makes me feel like such an A-list player on the presidential campaign.
I felt bad turning down the volunteer caller asking me to work the voter registration drive. I didn't have the heart to tell her Ralph Nader called me a few weeks ago and asked me to collect signatures for his independent party ballot access drive for the November presidential election.
How could I say no to Ralph when he woke me from a nap? And besides, last year, when no one would hire me, Ralph helped me find some part time work to pay the bills for at least another month.
Thus I had to say no to the kindly old Obama volunteer who tried to recruit me for early GOTV efforts. I told the woman that I know that getting more people involved in the political process in the poorest city in America is a worthwhile endeavor, and perhaps I could impact the campaign from the inside.
But, it's clear that Obama is jumping to the center to become an "electable candidate." So we need to press him from the left. He won't listen if I volunteer on his campaign and try to say that his demand for all options on the table for dealing with Iran is unacceptable.
Yet if I get Nader on the ballot in Connecticut, Obama can't take the progressive vanguard's vote for granted, and we could push Obama to the left and to espouse some of a more progressive critique of McCain.
So, yeah, maybe I was still in my nap. Maybe not. But I'll get 250 signatures for Ralph. Because the confusing messages emanating from Obama, his mail, his appearances, they are too much. His mail must be really expensive. I wonder how much as a percentage of his budget, he is spending on it.
The most sophisticated piece he has sent me featured his name on letterhead, and right below Barack on an overleaf was emblazoned the name “Reverend Joseph Lowery.
What a tricky way to break the association between Rev. Wright and Obama! Let's put another Rev. right next to Obama's name.
Rev. Lowery, who I had never heard of until this letter, seems much more palatable to the great religious American mass than Rev. "Goddam America" Wright.
"I walked from Selma to Montgomery and beyond with Martin Luther King, Jr. -- with whom I co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Council," Rev. Lowery wrote. Okay. Ralph Abernathy I knew of. Rev. Lowery, I'm sorry I didn't know your place in history.
Lowery's message recalls of the patience that people urged him to have at the height of the civil rights movement. Thurgood Marshall's response to gradual change in schools when he was the lawyer for Brown in Brown v. Board of Ed was that slavery ended 90 years ago.
In a similar vein, Lowery says now is the time for Barack. Rev. Lowery says Barack had the foresight "to oppose [the war in Iraq] from the very beginning." But now, Obama is saying he will listen to the generals on the ground. My call: this was won’t be over until 2014, at the minimum, no mater who wins in November.
So, Rev.Lowery, do me a favor and whisper in Barack's ear the next time you see him about something that Jesus guy said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called sons of God."
But Barack wants to be called President, and to do that, you have be a shape shifter. The Barack we heard in Hartford in February is different from the Barack I hear now. Back in February, I might have been convinced that Barack would help a city like Hartford.
See, I also just got a letter from Eddie Perez telling me my taxes are going up by about $200 a year, even though the mayor has only given the administration a one percent increase, and the city has cut more than 200 jobs since 2001.
That war funding is killing our cities. And Barack is on board with it. And FISA. The euphoria from that little trip to Hartford that Barack made back in February is gone. Stop the war. Unfortunately, the only people sending me those words in the mail are the Hartford Catholic Worker and the American Friends Service Committee.