Senate candidates talk about Iraq

Those gathered for the candidate’s forum at the United Methodist Church in Reno last week heard from U.S. Senate candidates who aren’t likely to run TV commercials, if you get my drift. Appearing were four of the five candidates running against Sen. John Ensign: Edward “Fast Eddie” Hamilton (R), David K. Schumann (Independent American), Brendan Trainor (Libertarian) and Ruby Jee Tun (D).

Ensign had respectfully declined the chance to talk about the Iraq War at the event sponsored by the Reno Anti-War Coalition. As for Jack Carter, organizers said the Vegas Democrat had agreed to send a representative to the event. Didn’t happen. This from the man who boasts on his Web site of “traveling around” Nevada and “listening to folks in our state.”

Here’s an abbreviated take on the four who showed:

If it weren’t against election laws, Fast Eddie would give us all $10 bills to remind us to vote “Hamilton.” Fast Eddie, nicknamed thus because “he can do things faster for the people,” wore an American flag shirt that, as Reno activist Rich Haber noted to me, can’t be unlike the one that got Abbie Hoffman arrested back in the 1960s. Hamilton calls himself the “only peace candidate” in the GOP. He supported removing Saddam Hussein but now wants to get out of Iraq. Spreading democracy in Iraq has made the United States a safer place, he said. “Most violence is done by young fanatical people,” he speculated, “who believe they’ll go to heaven and be rewarded by six virgins … or is it seven?” If elected, he plans to work unpaid until the budget is balanced. When asked about the PATRIOT Act, he first promoted his plan to “lower gas prices at the pump.”

Schumann, the Independent American candidate, wants to go to Washington because he, unlike other representatives, has read the Koran and isn’t a fan. As evidence, he says that the former Iraqi government had no compunctions about torturing 6-year-olds. Believe Jesus is the son of God? “You’ll have your head cut off.” In addition, “Muslims have been killing Hindus for a long, long time. It’s just fun to do, I guess.” He waved the copy of the Koran he’d brought as visual aid. As for government surveillance: “If your phone number is on a Taliban or al Qaeda phone, I’m in favor of the government checking you out.”

Trainor, a Reno Libertarian, frequently jumped from the panelist table to manage a camera. He filmed the event for his show on cable access TV. Trainor said: “Trade, not invasion, is the road to peace.” He quoted George Washington on not making longtime enemies and not making special friends. “That’s what we’ve been doing. … We’re not in Iraq to spread democracy. … It’s time to roll back the empire and bring our troops home.”

Ruby Jee Tun, a Carson City Democrat who teaches middle school science, said the United States should “work to bring back our troops with honor and safety … not leaving Iraq in a state of anarchy and chaos.” Executive powers need to be checked, even in times of war. Regarding surveillance: “Honest people doing research aren’t suspects” and Homeland Security can be trusted to do what’s needed. On terror: “Congress can work on resolving the causes of terror, honoring other cultures and religions.” On U.S. intervention in Sudan: “Genocide is an atrocity that we cannot condone.”

Tune in next week for observations on Nevada candidates for the U.S. House, minus Sharron Angle, Dawn Gibbons, Jill Derby and Dean Heller, none of whom could make it. Afraid of a few dozen Methodists and pacifists? Huh.