Saturday, October 30, 2004

Bruce Springsteen & John Kerry

Bruce Springsteen was in Madison, Wisconsin the other day with John Kerry. He performed two songs and stated why he supports Kerry for president. Kerry doesn't exactly stand for everything that Springsteen believes (if you listen to his lyrics, Springsteen is to the left of both major parties), but he is obviously much closer than Bush. When Kerry took the stage, he said that the first concert he took his daughters to see was on Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A." tour. The best part of the story came after Bruce left the stage:

Springsteen... strode down the street to meet up with his wife, singer Patti Scialfa. The couple stopped in front of a house full of college students gathered on a second-floor deck. "Bruce, come up for a beer," said a sign hanging from the railing.

Springsteen and Scialfa walked up to the house and emerged on the upper deck, each taking a bottle of Capitol Amber, a local brew, and watching as Kerry paid homage to the man who made the working people of Asbury Park, N.J., famous. "He sings about real people. It's poetry, it's beautiful, about life and struggles and what's important," said Kerry, who plays classical guitar. "And the people he sings about are the people I think we ought to be fighting about and having representation in the White House that's worthy in this country." Still, said Kerry, as he acknowledged the obvious, "I may be running for president of the United States, but we all know who the real boss is! Right?"

As the crowd roared, Springsteen doubled over, laughing at the return tribute.

Speaking of "Born In The U.S.A.," one of the best things about Springsteen supporting Kerry is that this year the Republicans can't use his music out of context like they have used that song and others in the past. Of course, the campaign managers aren't the only ones guilty of this. I was driving through the Texas panhandle and listening to the radio the day Bush started the war with Iraq (incidentally, I had been caught in the middle of a political argument at breakfast). Seemingly out of nowhere (it didn't fit their "format"), the radio station started playing "Born In The U.S.A." It turned out to be a mix of that song with some ominous, threatening quotes from Bush directed at Saddam Hussein. It was the typical jingoistic, knee jerk, redneck stuff that some Americans pass off as "patriotism" these days. Omigod, these people have no clue, I thought. Imagine the irony of using a song about Vietnam (not to mention a bad economy) as the background for Bush talking about Iraq. How prophetic!

By the way, Springsteen isn't the only musician the Bush campaign will be excluding from their greatest hits album. In news that must make my mom happy, the writer of "Still The One" by the band Orleans asked them to stop using his song.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Al Gore

I haven't shaved in a couple of weeks, and I commented to my wife that I was going for the Al Gore look. Remember how he grew a beard after he lost the 2000 election in the Supreme Court? My wife said, "That was sad. He really looked like he had just given up all hope... But then, what can he do? He was vice president, he ran for president, and he lost. His career is over."

"Wait a minute," I said. "Gore is still fairly young, isn't he?" He's only 56. I continued, "Richard Nixon was vice president, ran for president, lost, and came back eight years later to win." I'm not saying that Gore should do this, or that he would be the best choice for the Democrats in a future election (after all, if he had been a great candidate, he would have defeated Bush by a bigger margin), but it's not only possible--it's been done before.

He would be a better choice than Hillary Clinton. I don't mind her, but too many people hate her enough that they would never change their minds and vote for her, regardless of her platform. People are already talking about Barack Obama, at least for vice president, but I think it's a little premature. He gave a great speech at the convention, but let's wait and see how he fares in Washington.

Incidentally, I ran into a couple of former co-workers on the El this afternoon. They recognized me immediately despite my Al Gore disguise.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Endorsements For Bush

President Bush isn't supported by his local (Crawford, TX) newspaper, but he has received a couple of other endorsements lately.

For some reason, a number of Chicago Tribune readers are up in arms over the paper's endorsement of President Bush. These readers sadly demonstrate a lack of historical knowledge. The Tribune's Republican roots run deep--to the founding of the party 150 years ago. From the web site of Cantigny, the estate of former Tribune editor and publisher Colonel Robert R. McCormick:

As editors and publishers of the Chicago Tribune, Joseph Medill and Robert Rutherford McCormick (Medill's grandson) used the newspaper as a forum for advocating their own political points of views. On a national scale, Joseph Medill was instrumental in helping to establish the Republican National Party and in securing Abraham Lincoln’s election to the Presidency of the United States.
So while I do not agree with the editorial board's choice, I certainly wouldn't cancel my subscription over it, as some readers have. This endorsement was a foregone conclusion. Indeed, as Eric Zorn wrote in his blog, "...The next time [the Tribune] endorses a Democrat for president will be the first."

The second endorsement is much more interesting and amusing to me: Iran. Although Bush called them part of "the axis of evil," they figure that a Republican president is better since, as the article says, "Democrats tend to press human-rights issues."

Again, a little historical perspective helps to explain this. Remember the Iran-Contra affair that Dubya's daddy was involved in (yet somehow didn't hang for)? Come to think of it, in light of that treasonous Republican scheme (the U.S. sold arms to the country that sponsored the 1983 truck bombing in Lebanon that killed 241 American soldiers), how can so many Americans trust the GOP to fight the "war on terror?" Then again, the American people elevated vice president Bush to the presidency despite his involvement (he proceeded to pardon the others on his way out of office in 1992). If you aren't familiar with Iran-Contra, please visit this site; it is chilling in light of our current world.

Alas, the Bush administration isn't quite ready to embrace the axis of evil: "It's not an endorsement we'll be accepting anytime soon," spokesman Scott Stanzel said.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Political Vandalism

An article in today's Tribune talks about how Bush-Cheney signs are being vandalized at a rate unprecedented in political history. The GOP actually held a press conference downtown to discuss the theft and destruction of campaign signs. Slow news day, huh? Excuse me while I laugh myself silly. The tone of the article is so hysterical, it is ridiculous:

In Gurnee, Simpson said, someone got out of a car and ripped up a Bush-Cheney sign in a front yard as two young children played outside.
Oh no! Not in front of the children! I'm sure they'll be traumatized for life.

State Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) said, "We're talking about something that is a federal and state hate crime." The Tribune reported this without noting that he is wrong. According to my police officer wife, "hate crime" laws only cover crimes based on race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Maybe tearing down the Cheney sign is a hate crime because his daughter is a lesbian? Dillard could argue that this is a free speech issue, but it is not a hate crime. People just love to throw that term around, as if there is such a thing as a "love crime."

Incidentally, Democrats reported similar cases regarding Kerry-Edwards signs, but they didn't see any need to call a press conference to whine about it.

I am surprised that the GOP didn't mention the vandalism on stop signs in my neighborhood: "BUSH" stenciled in white paint below the word "STOP." No, it wasn't me.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

I'm The Lucky Winner!

I got a phone call yesterday. The man told me that I won a Chicago Sun-Times raffle. I never entered such a raffle, but I figured I'd hear the guy out. Well, the prize I won was "the Sunday Sun-Times for only one dollar a week." Since when does a raffle prize require you to pay for something? Gee, what a deal. Then again, I wouldn't want the Sun-Times if it was free, either. The Sunday Tribune is more than enough to read, and the Sun-Times is a third-rate paper at best.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Huh?

So let me get this straight... Kerry mentioned something about Cheney's openly lesbian daughter in the last debate, and now the Republicans are going after him for mentioning her? They just can't handle the "L" word, can they?

This was not an "attack" against Mary Cheney. What Alan Keyes said at the convention was, but this was not. Kerry was simply using her as an example of a person who did not "choose" to be a lesbian, but was born as one. Scientific evidence generally supports this theory, not that Bush cares much about science. Kerry's point in mentioning Mary Cheney was that we are not talking about a conceptual thing, we are talking about real people. He did not say anything against her lifestyle, and he did not reveal anything that people don't already know. It's as if he had been talking about women's rights and mentioned that, oh-my-gosh, Laura Bush is a woman, too!

It just amazes me how the Repugnicans blow things like this out of proportion. Maybe they should replace their elephant mascot with a molehill that morphs into a mountain. They are just upset that Kerry was the better debater. Now they're up against the ropes, and they'll do anything to try to make the Dems look bad, regardless of what Kerry actually says.

This strategy of distraction has been used ad nauseum over the last four years. The main reason the gay marriage constitutional amendment issue was resurrected was to take Iraq out of the headlines (and to a lesser extent to rally the fundamentalist Christian wing of the party). It's obvious that every day the media spend covering the manufactured "controversy du jour" is a day that the media aren't talking about the failings of the Dubya administration.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Presidential Hubris

I was shocked several weeks ago when Bush said we couldn't win the war on terror. Not only was he "flip-flopping" as he so childishly accuses Kerry of doing, but for once he was speaking the truth. Naturally, he changed his mind (got back "on message") the following day, lest he lose his deceitful reputation. This week, Kerry is saying that we can minimize terrorism, but we cannot eliminate it. Bush, with remarkable hubris even by his standards, says that Kerry is wrong and that we will indeed destroy terrorism.

We cannot win the war on terror. First of all, we would have to please all of the people all of the time. I don't see how Bush could think that our nation could do that internationally when he personally has aroused so much resentment just within our borders. Second, there is no way to deter someone from carrying out a terrorist act. If someone is willing to pay with his or her life, then what threat of punishment could we use to stop that person? Third, it is impossible to watch everyone all the time. No matter how many troops, police, video cameras, etc. the U.S. deploys, we cannot watch or catch every potential terrorist. The small and highly militarized country of Israel has been unable to eliminate terrorist acts within its borders, so how could we? If we can't eradicate gangs in the U.S., how could anyone presume that we could control the entire world? For an example of a similarly international and unmanageable controntation, look at the "war on drugs."

The Neo-Cons might compare the war against terror to the Cold War against communism, but they are completely different. To change a government, we don't have to convince everyone in a nation, just the "right people" (whether by persuasion or force). To "win" the war on terrorism, we would have to control every person in every nation--it only takes one dissenter to terrorize the world. There has always been terrorism in the world (for example, one could argue that our founding fathers were terrorists in the eyes of the British), and there always will be. No arrogant, self-righteous president can change that with bombs and soldiers. Bush is telling people what they want to hear, not the truth.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

How About A Write-In Campaign?

Since Alan Keyes is going to get trounced anyway, let's make it really ugly. I have a proposal for you Republicans out there. To show your displeasure with your party's choice of candidate, write in "Jack Ryan" for U.S. Senator! Wouldn't it be great if Ryan got more votes than the man the GOP put on the ballot to replace him? Write in Ryan! Catchy slogan, isn't it?

Great Moments In Product Placement

The other day I shopped at a Dominick's grocery store. I noticed that unlike most stores, they had the condoms near the end of an aisle at the front of the store. Then I saw that the liquor department was only 15-20 feet away! I guess they're going for those Friday night one-stop shoppers.