Memorial Day

It's nearly the end of Memorial Day, and by now you have all enjoyed barbecues, family gatherings, or some kind of fun and fellowship.

I could go into the meaning of this day, but I won't. All I will say is that I'm sure most of you have a family member or friend that has risked their lives, or perhaps made the ultimate sacrifice, in defense of this country or its ideals. Remember their sacrifice, and what they fought for.

There are many lessons to be gained from this day, but I think the most important comes from those who have died. These are countless men and women who have given their lives in the prime of their lives. This represents a waste of great potential, and underscores the fact that we should work to make war unnecessary. This is no easy riddle to solve, but every action that you take towards peace works toward this ultimate goal. Let those who have come before us be an inspiration as we work to make this planet more peaceful. Until that happens, Memorial Day is an important remembrance, but its promise is unfulfilled.



Your former President, upon his graduation:


Tom Brokaw Commencement Address

For those of you who did not have the priviledge of attending commencement, here is the text of Tom Brokaw's (Democrat) commencement address (minus the jokes, unfortunately)...

This cherished ceremony is for me an annual ritual of renewal. I come to these academies across America with a sense of awe, humility and envy. Awe that the American dream is so fully realized in these environs where the working class and the privileged mingle in common pursuit of learning and advancement, where immigrants fresh from foreign lands have equal claim to our rule of law, opportunity and, if they choose, the privilege of taking their new skills back home.

I am humbled by the sacrifices of so many who have helped you to this promising place in your lives – your family, your teachers and some you may not have considered: the young men and women in uniform, who, at this moment, are in far off places, many in harm’s way, dedicating their lives to your security, and you must think of them today as well.

I am envious of what you carry from here. More than the degree or the honors, what you will come to treasure over the years as they advance, are the friendships and fellowship, some of which will accompany you all the rest of your days. I envy you the experience of exploring new frontiers of knowledge while re-discovering and re-examining ancient truths.

Most of all I envy you at your age the road ahead, life in the 21st century with its transformational technology, emerging democracies, developing economies, shifting power centers and, yes, cultural conflicts that demand our attention and resolution.

These are the themes of commencement addresses across the broad spectrum of campuses this spring and I will expand on them in just a moment, but first I am compelled to offer a somewhat less lofty but more useful observation.

First, you have been hearing all your life that this is it: your first big step in what is called the real world.

You may ask, what is this real world all about?

What is this new life that I’m about to enter?

Ladies and gentlemen of the Class of 2005, Life is not college.

It’s not high school.

Here’s the secret no one told you: Life is junior high.

The world you’re about to enter is filled with junior high adolescent pettiness, pubescent rivalries, the insecurities of 13-year-olds and the false bravado of 14-year-olds. Forty years from now, I guarantee this, you’ll still make silly mistakes; you’ll have temper tantrums; your feelings will be hurt for some trivial slight; say something dumb; you’ll lose your car keys and your glasses every day; and wonder at least once a week, “Will I ever grow up?”

You can change that. In your pursuit of your passions, always be young. In your pursuit of relationships with others, always be grown up. Set a standard and stay faithful to it.
In this new life you’ll also have to think about money in a new way. You’ll discover that life is not an ATM. Now you have to earn it. You’ll have to think about how you can hang onto some of it and, if you’re fortunate, use the money that you have beyond what you need to save a life, save a neighborhood or save the world.

You may be surprised to discover that it is that use of money that is the most gratifying and satisfying. In our family, we like to say that God invented money so that those who have it could help others.

Moreover, while money helps, it is discounted somehow if it doesn’t also carry your full personal value.

A few years ago, in a similar ceremony very much like this, I declared, “It is easy to make a buck. It’s tough to make a difference.” A father of one of the graduates, a Wall Street success, wrote to me suggesting a re-write. “It’s tough to make a buck,” he said, “but if you make lots of bucks, you can make a helluva difference.” A or B? You decide. There is no wrong answer.

But before you get to that, let’s assign a marker to your class – and explore the consequences. The marker, of course, is 9-11, the terrorist attack on America, the worst single assault on this nation in our history. You are the class of 9-11 as well as the Class of 2005. You had a dizzying experience of entering college as your country was entering a shooting war in far-off lands, as a clash of cultures and ideals was altering political, economic and spiritual landscapes far beyond these solicitous environments.

You found sanctuary here at Providence College and the comforting certainty that if you played by the rules, this important passage in your life would be successfully concluded in four years.
Alas, there is not a comparable orderliness about the other passage, the rough ride guaranteed by the rough events of 9-11.

We’re still working our way across open water, forced to navigate by the stars because the old navigational charts are of little use.

Our destination remains uncertain.

Some seas have been rougher than expected. Certain forecasts proved to be perilously wrong. Unexpected currents keep pushing us close to dangerous shoals or in a direction not of our choosing.

It is time then, as they say at sea, for all hands to be on board for this is a common journey and it requires a common effort and the collective wisdom of crew and passengers alike.
Your individual hopes, dreams and plans will be seriously compromised if the ship of state is allowed to drift or steer a hazardous course.

We cannot pretend on this sunny spring day that simply because there has not been another 9-11 that the world is now safe or as it once was. We are not near the end of epic struggle between the Western ideal of rule of law, tolerance, pluralism and modernity and the crazed advocates of a distorted vision of Islam, an ancient and great faith that is too often being misinterpreted by the mullahs that teach in far-away places.

We cannot wish away the complex set of conditions that fuel a rage across a broad band of the globe where too many young men and women your age are caught in the cross fire of claims on their faith and another way of life playing out on the ever wider screens that reflect the images of a world of unveiled women, material excess, secular joy disconnected from their lives of deprivation and uncertainty.

These young men and women are not incidental to the world you are entering. They are the fastest growing population in an already over-crowded part of the globe where self-determination, which you take for granted, remains at best a work in progress. Or, at best, a faint rumor, or, at best, a distant promise.

Many of them understand our culture and speak our language but in their eyes, we show no interest in returning the favor.

Too many of them love the idea of America but hate our government, envy our freedom and deeply resent what they see as our sense of entitlement.

The worst among them did have to be punished and will continue to have to be punished, and the fight goes on but no army can conquer them all or force them to change.

So as you leave here in pursuit of your dreams try to imagine their dreams. Stand tall. Don’t apologize for what you have or what you believe in, but get to know what they don’t have, and why.

Take the lead in establishing a common ground between generations, a common ground of appreciation, understanding, a shared destiny of self-determination and economic opportunity.
See the ancient Arab culture and its faith as something much more than a pipeline from their natural riches to our gas tanks.

This is a place to begin but, fair warning, it will be hard work. Challenging, stimulating, frustrating and hard, for this common ground cannot be found in a piece of software. It is not hidden in the settings on your toolbar. There is no delete button for intolerance and no insert button for understanding.

This new technology that we take so much for granted here in this country and that so defines your generation, is a transformational tool, but as a tool it is really only an extension of your head and your heart.

It will do us little good to wire the world if we limit our vision. It will do us little good to wire the world if we short-circuit our souls. No, the world still requires personal, hands-on, be brave, speak-out courage. We, as the most powerful political, military and industrial super-power ever imagined require citizens who understand that patriotism means to love your country but always believe it can be improved – and that improvement comes not exclusively from the left or the right but much more often from the center. From the arena of public debate and participation where ideology always has a place but where ideological bullies must be confronted. If we present ourselves to the world as patrons of democracy and the oxygen that that requires – free speech without fear of punishment – then we must be the vigilant stewards of it at home as well.

We have another obligation. It will do us little good to export democracy and economic opportunity, to use our military power wisely and efficiently, to nurture tolerance and cross cultural appreciation if, at the end of our lives, we wind up on a dead planet.
Mindless consumption of the basic resources of this precious place we inhabit is a form of blasphemy – and suicide. In my generation we have been witness to the power of awareness, of an environmental consciousness and the modest triumphs of renewal but we continue to lose ground, clean water, creatures large and small, at an alarming rate.

Slowing the destruction and reversing the damage does not require sack cloth and hobbit huts but it does require imagination and temperance, it does require a re-definition of convenience and need. It does require you and all the rest of us to love our mother – Mother Earth – and live our lives in a manner that will allow future generations to know her succor and wonders.
Let me conclude then here today by briefly sharing with you another generation of young Americans – one I tend to be very close to.

Sixty years ago this spring they were coming home. They were re-starting their lives after a dozen years of brutal deprivation, sacrifice, separation, death and grievous wounds that they would carry with them the rest of their lives. Sixty years ago this year Nazi Germany and imperial Japan were defeated in a great war by these young men and women your age and our allies.

These young men and women did not know the plenty you have become so accustomed to. They came of age in the Great Depression when life was about sharing clothing, shoes, food, jobs and what little money a family could muster. Ragged bands of hungry men rode the rails across this country, looking for any kind of work. Families left their dried up family farms for hard labor in California; city kids slept four to a room in walk-up apartments. Banks failed and hope had to be renewed every 24 hours.

Just as these young men and women your age were beginning to emerge from those dark and difficult days, America was attacked – and entered a war on two fronts for survival that was already under way in Europe and the Pacific: World War II.

These young Americans and their families answered the call, fighting across the deadly beaches of Italy and France; in the freezing winters of central Europe; in the South Pacific and on all the seas and in the skies, day in and day out. . . . Bloody, face-to-face battles of unspeakable cruelty and death. At home, farmers grew more food and civilians ate less so the soldiers could be fed. Women put on overalls and kerchiefs and went to the factories. Young wives and children didn’t see their husbands and fathers or hear from them for months or, in too many cases, ever again.

And when that war was over, when the terrible, hateful evils of the Third Reich and imperial Japan had been defeated, this generation of Americans returned to their homes or established new communities in other places. They went to college in record numbers, married in record numbers, gave us new laws expanding the freedoms of those who had been left behind for too long. They did something that had never been done in international warfare; they rebuilt their enemies. They gave us new art, new science, new industries and new international institutions. They gave us the lives we enjoy today.

They came home to run for political office at every level; they formed service clubs and built new universities; they never gave up on the idea of common cause and their role in it.

They were Republicans and Democrats, but at the end of the day, they did not lay down their arms and say, “I’ve done my share.”

Some are in this arena today, quietly look on with pride and humility at the promise of your generation, the opportunities available to you that were simply unimaginable to them.

They ask little of us and yet we owe them so much.

I call them “The Greatest Generation.”

Remember them as you leave here. Nurture their legacy.

Remember how they rose as one to meet far greater challenges than we face today.

Remember them as you put the mark of greatness on your generation.

Good luck and Godspeed.


South Dakota Dems Get It


Mrs. Carcieri Wants to Take Away YOUR Right to Vote!

A warning for us all from Mike Raia. Somebody better find Carcieri in a public forum and ask him about this. -DK

Remember seven months ago when the PC Democrats and the College Republicans joined forces to register members of the student body to vote before the November election? Do you recall the staggering number of interested students who filled McPhail’s for the debate between me and Pat Brown in late October?

I never had the opportunity to share the success stories of Rock the Vote with the student population. We registered just under 500 new voters in the first six weeks of the school year. Looking at surveys we put together, more than 55 percent of the student body was registered either in their home state or in Rhode Island before moving back to campus. On Election Day, with the help of active student participation, more than 75 percent of the registered voters on the Providence College campus voted at St. Pius or through absentee ballot.

Despite our clear interest and dedication to the American democracy, Governor Carcieri’s loud-mouthed wife doesn’t think we should be allowed to vote. In Monday’s Providence Journal, the First Lady of Rhode Island said, “I truly feel we are not mature enough to vote until we are about that age. I noticed that a lot happened to me between the ages of 18 and 22, when I graduated from college.” (ProJo link)

This is the same woman who sported a pin to the GOP Convention in September that proclaimed John Kerry was the terrorists’ choice for POTUS. I’m not advocating that a candidate should be judged by the actions and opinions of one’s family members, but unless Gov. Carcieri steps to the plate and publicly denounces his wife’s disdain for those of us affected by the issues of college loans and grants, Social Security reform, the war in Iraq, and any other issue to which each of us has an direct interest, we need to stand in the way of his reelection.



Last weekend, thirteen PC Democrats gathered at Brown University for the Northeast College Democrats Conference. The conference featured over 500 participants from College Dems chapters at 42 different colleges and universities stretching from the District of Columbia to Maine.

And of all those Democrats, I must say that those of us from PC dominated the conference.

On Friday, we saw the man who was the best President of any of our lifetimes (with the possible exception of our esteemed moderator, Dr. Cammarano), William Jefferson Clinton. In the morning, he gave a speech to over 4000 students and other supporters in Meehan Auditorium at Brown. The speech was wide-ranging, and got some idiotic criticism from the Providence Journal. However, the speech gave us insight to many issues and gave us hope and inspiration for the future, which of course is why we were all at the conference. Later that day, we got the opportunity to ask questions from President Clinton in much-smaller Alumnae Hall. During both appearances, Clinton exhibited an incredibly dynamic speaking style that made it clear why he was President for eight years. That night, we experienced an open bar at the RI State House. Oh yeah!

Saturday was day two. We spent the first part of the day in workshops. This was the meat of the conference, and in workshops about topics like fundraising, community service, technology, local politics, national politics and many, many more, we discussed how to make our chapters, and thus the entire party, even better. After a great meal at Paragon on Thayer Street, we had a Q&A session with Congressman Jim Langevin and Lieutenant Governor (and more importantly, Friar) Charlie Fogarty. Both of them were good, but Langevin gave the PC Dems some great compliments in front of the entire crowd. After the Q&A session, we got some crazy networking done with Fogarty and Langevin.

We declined to attend the last day because we all had studying to do. In all, the weekend was incredibly fun, and incredibly productive. For your enjoyment, here are some pictures...

Alyson Laferriere, Ashley Laferriere, Kevin Roe, Adam
Roach, Dan Kachur (hey, that's me!), and Nate Daher
at registration on Friday.

Most of the gang in the chambers of the RI State Senate.
From L-R, Jill Antonellis, Brooke Huminski, Emma
Pietrantonio, Ashley, Adam, Dan, Kevin, MB Allen,
Caileen Burns and Alyson.

Hey look! I'm presiding over the Rhode Island Senate!

Kevin and Adam with Secretary of State (and US Senate
candidate) Matt Brown.

Dinner on Saturday night at the Paragon. Who's that
guy in the background?

Myself, Adam and Kevin with LG Charlie Fogarty.

Brooke, Emma, random Brown girl and Jill with Charlie

The gang with Congressman Langevin.

I Love Tom DeLay!

Here is the text of my article that was printed in the latest issue of PC Black and White.

A Democratic Thanks to the GOP
by Dan Kachur

The Left

Those who know me might be surprised to hear me say this, but I love Tom DeLay. Why would I not want the downfall of a leading Republican whose political style is probably more caustic than any other Republican? Because DeLay’s years of hubris and greed have finally culminated into a litany of ethical abuses so blatant that they threaten the health of the entire Republican Party. Every day that Tom DeLay remains the House Majority Leader is a gift to the Democratic Party.

DeLay gained national attention as the architect of a redistricting effort aimed at sending more Republicans to Congress. Not only was this effort in blatant violation of the Texas Constitution, it was also surrounded by major ethical lapses. The redistricting effort was possible because the Texas GOP was able to gain control of the state legislature, thanks in part to an effort by a group called Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee (TRMPAC), co-created by none other than Tom DeLay. In 2002, TRMPAC sent $190,000 to the Republican National State Elections Committee. Exactly two weeks later, the same committee sent $190,000 to legislative candidates supported by TRMPAC. The problem comes from a Texas law that expressly prohibits corporate donations to state races. Since the original money included corporate donations, it appears that TRMPAC colluded with the GOP in a not-so-subtle violation of Texas law. DeLay claims he has no knowledge of the transactions, but with a GOP committee involved, one has to wonder how the Congressman was ignorant.

When the illegal redistricting effort finally got underway, the only option that Texas Democrats had to uphold the law was to actually leave the state. Naturally, DeLay decided to respond by abusing his power as a Congressman. DeLay used contacts in the FCC to track down the absent legislators, an act so far outside the pale that DeLay was admonished by the House Ethics Committee. The committee also frowned on DeLay’s solicitations of donations from Westar Energy just before a vote that was important to the company, and for offering a bribe to former Rep. Nick Smith (R-CA) to win support for the Medicare reform bill.

Just as DeLay was beginning to feel heat from the press following these and many other ethics violations, he saw a glimmer of hope in the form of a dying woman in Florida. Even though he had previously been in favor of removing a feeding tube from his own father, DeLay joined the fight to keep Terri Schiavo alive. Unfortunately for DeLay, this time even his hypocrisy couldn’t save him, and his bizarre diatribe against the courts following Terri’s passing made things even worse. DeLay’s attempt to use a brain-dead woman and her family’s tragedy for his own political gain backfired and, as the polls suggested that the public was turning against him, so did his fellow Republicans. Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) said, "We’ve got to uphold the highest standards of legality and ethics… You can’t have your leader under a cloud." Even extremist Rick Santorum (R-PA) called for DeLay to better explain his actions to the public.

But these Senators are only speaking out against DeLay because they have difficult re-election races in 2006. The real GOP opinion about DeLay comes from House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), who stated Sunday that "Tom DeLay will stay as leader." DeLay never could have attained power if his ethical violations were not tolerated in his own party, and he would not remain as leader of House Republicans if his colleagues did not condone his actions. DeLay serves as evidence that the GOP is corrupt to the core, and it is my hope that rank and file Republicans across the nation and especially in his home district will condemn his unethical ways. And as for DeLay remaining as leader, all I can say to Rep. Blunt is, "Thanks."