An update on my trip to the NJDC meeting in Washington DC: A unique Jewish candidate who attended the meeting of the National Jewish Democratic Council meeting in Washington DC this week was Hank Eng, a Chinese Jewish American who is running for Congress from Colorado’s sixth district, east of Denver.

Eng, 60, moved to Colorado for his wife’s career about three years ago, after serving on the city council in Appleton, Wisconsin. A civil air patrol officer and pilot, he is a second generation Chinese American, and the son of a man who served the Flying Tigers in Kunming during WWII. Eng grew up in New York City, studied Engineering and management and served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Kenya and US AID in Africa and around the world. He has also worked in Russia, Pakistan and China.

Unfortunately for Eng, his district is known as an area that would vote for the Republican even if the candidate was dead. His Republican opponent, Mike Coffman, reportedly raised nearly $900,000; Eng has raised less than $50,000.

A member of conservative Jewish Congregation Rodef Shalom in southeast Denver, his daughter Kendall, recently celebrated her bat mitzvah.

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  • He should send his prospective constituents my post about the Republicans being guilty OF EVERYTHING. 😉

  • Proposed new handles for our friend:




  • Tom, you’re surprising me with your bitterness. I don’t even like Obama. I just really dislike what the Republicans have done to us over the past several years.

  • Nah, Middle, I’m fine. Probably maxed out on the prez race, however. Too much anal retentiveness there is probably not a good thing.

  • US Colorado House District 6 is SOUTH of Denver, and there are a lot of us recovering Republicans who are not only voting for Hank Eng but donating our money and time to his campaign. Some of us have never even put a yard sign up before. Hank Eng’s opponent is so sure he’ll win that he shut down his campaign after the primary, which is where he spent most of the money he earned. So don’t call the election yet, please. We’re PURPLE and turning BLUE.

  • Why, did they say something new?

    Is their performance in the debates representative of how they’ll govern?

  • Yes in part, and yes. On the first question: moderator Lehrer spent 40 minutes on the bailout, and neither of them had addressed it fully last week. McCain made an interesting decision to stress that the parties were working well together. I’d expected him to attack the Paulson bill.

    And, yes, in the sense that one had a sense of their governing and personal styles. They’re two of the most distinctive politicians before the public; it was engrossing to watch them square off. I wonder about Obama’s detatchment, his coolness. Check out the exchanges on Iran. McCain reprised MA’s ‘stinking corpse’ quote, a very passionate and forceful moment for him. Obama responded by calling MA’s threats “nonsense”, a fascinating, revealing adjective, I thought.

    So, well worth watching. For what it’s worth, I thought McCain was more impressive simply on style, but my courtroom bias is in favor of controlled aggression/setting the agenda/getting the other guy to respond, which McCain demonstrated almost all evening. Obama was basically fine, in that dry, professiorial way of his.

  • Gee, and I thought that “nonsense” was a way to discredit Ahmedinejad and his psychotic drivel. He also used the term “vile”, I thought.

    BTW, “nonsense” is a noun.

    Tom, to what extent does it lend legitimacy to a dangerous and psychotic idea declare it as something other than “nonsense?”

    You really don’t see any political problems with the Republicans relying inordinately on fear as a campaign tactic? You don’t think that relying excessively on an external enemy to define yourself politically has any drawbacks? You don’t see any problems with consistently comparing the levels of threat to American security from those abroad as a way to shuffle the discussion on the threat that the American government poses, and has posed, to your freedoms as a citizen?

    Didn’t Benjamin Franklin have something to say about all this?

  • Did you have a point, froylein?

    Anticipating anything that could come of a need to reference the dictionary definition of a word…

    Yes, it’s a noun.

    1. Words or signs having no intelligible meaning: a message that was nonsense until decoded

    Yes, Ahmedinejad’s utterings have no intelligible meaning within the context of international law. There is no legal pretext upon which one can stand when calling of the dissolution of a nation-state. None whatsoever.

    2. Subject matter, behavior, or language that is foolish or absurd

    Yes, Ahmedinejad’s melarchy is certainly both foolish and absurd.

    3. Extravagant foolishness or frivolity: a clown’s exuberant nonsense.

    Wasting Iran’s priorities by going on like this and talking about destroying Israel is a frivolous distraction from its saner priorities.

    4. Matter of little or no importance or usefulness: a chatty letter full of gossip and nonsense.

    Destroying Israel does nobody any good and talking about how you intend on doing so makes it obvious that you are presenting yourself as an unimportant nation with nothing more compelling to offer to the international agenda.

    5. Insolent talk or behavior; impudence: wouldn’t take any nonsense from the children.

    Perhaps the most important definition and the most apt and responsible way to describe Ahmedinejad.

    So, other than presenting dictionary definitions, did you have an actual argument to make about this weird need to present that lunatic as a modern-day bogeyman?

    Real nations don’t go around muttering about how fearful they are of threats. If they feel the need to act on a threat, they man up and take the bastard out. They don’t sulk in a corner like a child and just say “I’m not talking to you.” (See definition #5).

  • Princeton University’s WordNet also cites the use of “nonsense” as an adjective. Let the adults do the talking.

  • That’s not the one you linked to. Adults can defend the evidence they provide for the talking they do. Or in your case, the talking you don’t do. You didn’t provide a single rebuttal of anything I said whatsoever.

    No wonder you’re afraid of an idiot like Ahmedinejad.

  • BTW, 4 minutes is a short period of time. Sometimes it makes sense to actually take the time to consider what someone is saying before responding to it in such a knee-jerking (which means “reflexive”) fashion.

  • It’s on the site I linked to; I even used the citation format the site provides. Reading ability certainly is of advantage in today’s societies.

  • So sorry. It’s listed all the way down after 5 definitions (gee, the ones I responded to) for its use first as a noun. After that, it lists specifically adjectival forms such as “nonsensical”. Only after that does it even begin to list “nonsense” as an adjective and in a decidedly academic manner, meaning, and I quote: “adj. Genetics Of or relating to a mutation in a structural gene that changes a nucleotide triplet into a stop codon, thus prematurely terminating the polypeptide chain during protein synthesis.”

    Actually, I know that definition very well. I highly doubt that it was the one Tom had in mind. Or the one Obama had in mind.

    Only after that do we get the only way in which it could have been used as an adjective:

    “having no intelligible meaning; “nonsense syllables”; “a nonsensical jumble of words”

    It’s not that different from the meaning of the primary, noun-form of the word.

    You realize all this is moot because Obama, as I recall, used it as a noun. Or did you want to contend otherwise? Did you actually even see the debate or read the transcripts?

    I think this diversion you planted is starting to look strikingly similar to definitions #3 or #4 from above.

  • Which gets us right back to the original question. Did you have anything to rebut about how Obama’s use of the word “nonsense” is or is not especially intriguing? We know you know how to find the most obscure and least relevant listing of something, after skipping through all the relevant stuff. But did you have an actual point to make other than that you can read dictionaries? I mean,

    I highly doubt it but I’m certainly willing to be proved wrong.

    I know it takes extraordinary discretion and judgment to skip over the use of “nonsense” as an adjective in the application of molecular genetics, but I was hoping you had a more pertinent point to make.

  • It was supposed to be nothing but clarification. I didn’t watch the debate, I didn’t read the transcripts. I only just clarified that ‘nonsense’ can also be used as an adjective. Prize question: what is the semantic difference between seeing something on TV and watching something on TV?

  • In that case, I suppose I should thank you for your clarification.

    In an event, I’m about as interested in semantic distinctions between “watching” something on TV and “seeing” something on TV as I presume that you are in the meaning of mutations in a structural gene that changes a nucleotide triplet into a stop codon, thus prematurely terminating the polypeptide chain during protein synthesis, but I don’t want to get in the way of “Prize questions” when the fate of the world is at stake. So, I’ll let you go on and answer your prize question and hope that if anyone is serious about the geostrategic significance of the debate or what Tom noticed then that conversation will continue to remain open for discussion as well.

  • Anyways, I’m being cute and speaking a little tongue-in-cheek. Well, a little at least. 😉

    By all means, let me know what this difference is.

  • No it’s not! I swear it’s not! I’m telling Webster!

  • Okay, I watched the debate.

    I thought McCain got the better of Obama in large part because he was more forceful in his convictions. His criticisms were sharp and quite aggressive while Obama remained calm and dispassionate. While that’s okay I guess, when your opponent for President keeps saying that you “don’t understand” things (did he actually say to Obama, former editor of Harvard Law Review, “you don’t know the difference between strategy and tactics?!), at some point you need to fight back. It doesn’t have to be harsh or stupid, just an elegant reposte that makes McCain pay a price for his remark and forces him to think about doing it again.

    I didn’t learn anything new about their positions. They’re at the point of their campaigns where there are no unexpected questions and responses are rote. They’re also constrained from speaking the full truth for fear of alienating swathes of voters.

    Overall, it was a tie, but considering the failed record the Republicans have, I thought McCain won the debate. Obama had a head start coming into the night, but McCain speedily caught up and kept throwing glancing blows that prevented Obama from retaking the lead.

    It also felt that McCain’s tactic of taking Obama’s strongest advantages against Republican contenders and flipping them into criticisms of Obama was well played and effective. This was something Hillary couldn’t do to him with a Democratic audience listening, but McCain can do with a national audience listening and it was effective.

    Still, Obama did make his points and remained poised the entire evening. I suspect many people picked up on McCain’s rudeness to Obama, so maybe the whole “you don’t understand” business didn’t work. By the way, although he was playing it for age versus inexperience, it did strike me that a white man saying to a black man, over and over, that he doesn’t understand things that anybody who can read a newspaper can understand, may have been a sly way of silently bringing up latent racist tendencies among those voters who might harbor them.

    After watching the performances, I am more inclined to think that Obama may not be up to leading in time of war and wouldn’t know how to play the war or the war’s prevention during the lead-up days and months in a way that maximizes the US position. He didn’t press his advantage.

    As far as the evening’s results, I think McCain will gain more voters from the debate than Obama.

  • Middle, I respectfully submit my belief that this reflects an American willingness to assume that conflict and contention, and the impression of aggressively engaging those themes, are what necessarily win the day.

    However, according to the polls, they simply are not.

    What I think you might want to consider looking into, is something that it seems a lot of Americans are picking up on. Temperament and sound, deliberative judgment count for more than McCain and his supporters are willing to admit. Between Obama and McCain, more people will come to the conclusion that Obama has that (or more of it), while McCain does not.

    I’ll admit that there were times Friday when McCain looked awfully strong to me as well. But this observation, like many others, is an entirely subjective assessment. I considered it at least a tie, as well. And on the substance, FactCheck has brought them both down to reality.

    But as with our selection of other leaders, this will come down to body language and how each candidate carries himself physically and verbally. Whether or not they “seem” presidential in the way they connect with the voters and what they are looking for that year. And on these scores, Obama simply carried the day.

    In a change election, the most important consideration is how well each candidate distinguishes himself from the impression of recklessness and careless disregard they have read into the actions of the current administration – even if in a generally psychological manner. McCain’s inability to even look Obama in the eye, lest he reckon with his explosive sense of contempt for him, reveals why Obama has won this first round in the game of impressions hands down.

  • ….Except the tracking poll numbers aren’t bearing that out. Of course, the bailout bill may be overshadowing the debate.

    I saw it pretty much the same way. I’m a little skeptical about the demeanor stuff; I figure people see what they want or expect to see on that score. But if McCain was condescending, such is his rock-and-a-hard-place, underdog posture of having to be aggressive and damn the consequences. Net net, I think it worked well for him. He’s got little choice now but to go hard after Barack.

    The advantage to Obama of his low-key, almost passive coolness is that it prevents him from being branded as an Ayers-style radical lefty. People see an agreeable, smart, well-spoken candidate and now won’t buy a belated McCain effort to redefine him. The time for that is past.

    I also agree with your penultimate para. Obama sounded awfully forced on Afghanistan, sort of faux-tough, and McCain made him look wooden and foolish on Pakistan.

    What did you make of the exchanges on Iran?

    The most telling moment of the night to me crystallized the doubts I have about Obama: McCain’s likening Obama’s refusal to acknowledge success in Iraq with Bush’s stubbornness. You can criticize the decision to go to war and still acknowledgement it, no? I mean, you have to. The evidence is compelling. Obama sounds awfully dogmatic, awfully rigid on this, uncomfortably close to the far-left ideologue the far right seeks to portray.

  • Tom, re: your last paragraph… What you state may be so, but I am awfully surprised that you think that tactic will work. The war is too unpopular for people to start parsing down every single nuance of Obama’s when it comes to acknowledging the success of the surge versus the supposed (my word) folly of the war itself. It seems to be gospel on the hard right that your stance on the war can be used to pin you into a logistical pretzel, but it’s a mistake to assume that everyone will see it that way. The war remains deeply unpopular with the electorate at large, somebody has to give voice to it, and Obama can, and does, appeal to that – regardless of his nuances.

    You have to figure out when and how such a hermetically abstract appeal to logic will work politically and with whom. But in general, in America, it won’t.

  • I’m not suggesting it will work as a campaign tactic, MUL. The ‘surge’ issue is out there and the persuadables are already persuaded. I was making a personal observation about Obama. Given his lack of a record, one has to go with whatever slender reeds are out there to determine how he’d act in office.

  • you know… i got all excited when i saw 33 replies to my posting. and then none were about my posting. sigh. geeez… not even a comment on the hyperlinks. oh well. happy jewish new year

  • Don’t worry, Larry. I know how you feel. 😉

    Tom, what’s interesting to me is that a lot of people seem to be picking up on how the candidate’s personal styles and behavior during the course of the campaign so far seem to indicate how they would act while in office. I think that’s important to consider as we discuss what factors will ultimately determine the outcome of the election.

    At the least, from my understanding of history and presidential elections, it always is.

  • Larry, I think this is one of the best titles for a post in the history of Jewlicious and perhaps of all blogging, ever.

  • I was also in awe of the title and impressed by the depth and quality of the hyperlinks. Kudos!

  • haha yeah right. i sort of think “headless body found in topless bar” remains the best headline to date