How I Spent My PA Primary Day

How did you spend PA primary day? I spent it at Firehouse #4 in Munhall, PA, handing out literature for Ron Paul delegates.

I arrived before 8 AM, introduced myself to the Judge of Elections, and found a spot outside the door to set up shop. There I met a nice Hillary supporter named Allison. She and I discussed/debated politics for most of the day. Later, two more Hillary supporters, John and his Aunt Kitty, spent some time at the precinct and tossed in their two cents. I think it was intellectually stimulating for all of us. All three expressed high admiration for Ron Paul as the only Republican they’d consider voting for (albeit only under duress). I convinced Kitty to check out the Read the Bills Act and the Enumerated Powers Act. 🙂

One thing I learned from the Hillary supporters and direct experience is that Munhall is a staunchly Democratic region. There are about 1100 registered voters in the precinct I worked. Of those, only 218 are Republicans (< 20%). In the last election, 58 of them voted. Yesterday, 532 voters showed up at the polls. Of those, 52 (9.8%) were Republicans. The following is a breakdown of how they voted for presidential nominee. Keep in mind that I deliberately avoided promoting Ron Paul. I wanted voters to choose our delegates based on the issues and not reject them for being associated with the House’s “crazy uncle”.

RON PAUL.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     5    9.61
JOHN MCCAIN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    39   75.00
MIKE HUCKABEE .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     6   11.54
WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     2    3.85

For comparison, here are the unofficial results for all of Allegheny County.

RON PAUL.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  9,264   15.73
JOHN MCCAIN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 42,379   71.97
MIKE HUCKABEE .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  5,128    8.71
WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  2,113    3.59

A good summary of what the PA presidential preference vote means can be found in a Nation article entitled, “McCain Loses 27% of Pennsylvania Vote“. The following is the breakdown of how my precinct voted for GOP convention delegates.

JOHN S. AGATSTON .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     12   10.90
JAMES MCCOLLUM.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     16   14.54
ROBERT TAMBURO.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     22   20.00
ELLEN MELROSE .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     13   15.65
ANDREW MAUL.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     18   16.36
MICHELLE D. AGATSTON.  .  .  .  .  .  .     13   15.65
CRYSTAL M. JONES .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     16   14.54
WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .     00   00.00

Our delegates averaged 18.67 votes and the others averaged 13.5. For comparison, here are the unofficial results for all of Allegheny County.

JOHN S. AGATSTON .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  4,041   13.07
JAMES MCCOLLUM.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  5,776   18.69
ROBERT TAMBURO.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  4,540   14.69
ELLEN MELROSE .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  4,837   15.65
ANDREW MAUL.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  3,207   10.38
MICHELLE D. AGATSTON.  .  .  .  .  .  .  4,370   14.14
CRYSTAL M. JONES .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  3,875   12.54
WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    262   00.85

Our delegates averaged 3874 votes versus 4756 for the others. If my sample size were not so small, I ought to be excited that our delegates did better at my precinct in comparison to the whole District 14 population. 🙂

Unfortunately, only Robert will be going to the national convention. 🙁 He barely squeaked into the third delegate slot. I wish our other two delegates could go, but I’m pleased that at least one will. I look forward to hearing about his experiences at the national convention. 🙂

Yesterday was a long, tiring day that didn’t end until I left at 8:30 with vote tallies, a sun-burned face, and a headache. Having no chair, I had to stand all day, which made me sore all over, but especially my feet. The discussions I had with Hillary supporters gave me a lot of food for thought (Don’t worry; I still don’t like her.), but I’m not sure how productive the whole exercise was. I’m hoping to work a precinct in November for Bob Barr (assuming I still support him then). At the presidential election, we’ll be battling for the hearts and minds of all Americans, not just Republicans. What we do at the polls could have a big impact.

Addendum: Here’s another Pittsburgh Paulite’s comments about the primary results.

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

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