A Cautious Man
August 31, 2004
Just a Look and a Whisper, and He's Gone
These Are Better Days


[Edited to add] Curmudgeon at Mapleberry Blog was kind enough to inform me that Mr. Theogeny may still be around to help us through these troubled times.

He's Back in Town!
Like a Deus ex machina, Hesiod has re-appeared, ready to come to our aid. He reminds us that, once upon a time, George H W Bush was attacked as John Kerry is being attacked now:
Compare, for example, the way George W. Bush refuses to do the right thing and denounce these liars with the way Michael Dukakis, in 1988, responded to a very similar attack on the President's father.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, a tailgunner from then Vice President Bush's old Naval Air Squadron was an eye witness of the infamous occasion when Bush was shot down by the Japanese. Accord to this witness, Chester Mierzejewski, Pilot Bush prematurely bailed out, thus dooming the two crewmen in the rear part of his plane. Ironically, the allegation is detailed by none other than the despicable POW/MIA exploiter Ted Sampley in a widely quoted article circulating on the internet.

In 1988, however, other than the New York Post article and an Associated Press report, the whole controversy quickly died. The reason it died, despite the credibility of the accuser, was partly because the media were gutless. But mostly because Michael Dukakis, honorable to a fault, refused to make it an issue.

As reported by the New York Times:

"Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, questioned about a World War II gunner's challenge to Vice President Bush's account of being shot down over the Pacific, said, 'I don't think that kind of thing has any place in the campaign.' The Democratic Presidential nominee said the challenge to Mr. Bush's war record was 'unfair' and 'unfortunate.' Mr. Bush 'served this country,' Mr. Dukakis said. 'He served it well and with tremendous courage, and you don't fly 58 missions without enormous courage and tremendous patriotism.' The New York Times, August 14, 1988

A pretty stark difference. Not just with George W. Bush, but also between Dukakis and Bill Clinton who fought back.
And he also reminds us of an old speech of Zell Miller's - his speech to the 1992 Democratic Convention. In addition to the part he reprints, in the whole speech (via the link he provided) there's a portion which could well be part of a 2004 Democratic speech.
Americans cannot understand why the rich can buy the best health care in the world, but all the rest of us get is rising costs and cuts in coverage, or no health insurance at all.

And George Bush doesn't get it?

Americans cannot walk our streets in safety, because our "tough-on-crime" president has waged a phony war on drugs, posing for pictures while cutting police, prosecutors and prisons.

And George Bush doesn't get it?

Americans have seen plants closed down, jobs shipped overseas and our hopes fade away as our economic position collapses right before our very eyes.

And George Bush does not get it!
It's really good to see Hesiod back and better than ever.

(Edited to add) I checked back, and with some trimming Hesiod has turned it into a terrific 2004 Democratic campaign speech.

August 30, 2004
Higher Ground
Last evening, I didn't tune in to see the closing ceremonies at the Olympics, or even whatever dreadful pre-convention coverage the cable news outlets were providing. No, I'm a person with a child in high school, and in order to keep up with current trends I did what I had to do - watched some of the MTV Video Music Awards. Actually, I sort of drifted in and out of the room, catching pieces of the mostly vapid spectacle.

But, in the middle of the lip synching and bling-bling, there suddenly appeared Alicia Keys, who was joined by Stevie Wonder in performing his once-again timely song from 1973, "Higher Ground":
People keep on learnin'
Soldiers keep on warrin'
World keep on turnin'
Cause it won't be too long

Powers keep on lyin'
While your people keep on dyin'
World keep on turnin'
Cause it won't be too long
Who'd have thought that MTV would have the most powerful political statement on cable TV last night?

August 28, 2004
"Give My Love to Rose Rove ..."
I heard on the radio today that one of the celebrations related to the Republican National Convention will be a tribute to Johnny Cash. Now, I never thought of Johnny Cash as a Republican, so you can imagine what I thought his reaction would have been. Reading the news later, I found a story about someone who thought the same thing, but she decided to do something about it:
"A lot of his political songs really represented issues the Republicans don't really seem to care about very much," Erin Siegal said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I find this really offensive, for his name or his memory to be used like this."

The 22-year-old art student from Brooklyn, N.Y., launched a Web site dedicated to her cause and says she expects at least 500 people to protest at Tuesday's events. All have been asked to dress in black, Cash's signature color, and bring musical instruments and their singing voices.
It's on August 31, if you're going to be there. More information (and detailed instructions on how to dress) is available at www.defendjohnnycash.org.

August 21, 2004
"The Revolution Starts ... Now"
The revolution starts now
When you rise above your fear
And tear the walls around you down
The revolution starts here
Where you work and where you play
Where you lay your money down
What you do and what you say
The revolution starts now
Yeah the revolution starts now
Steve Earle's new album, "The Revolution Starts ... Now" comes out on August 24. As his record company says, it is "extremely political" (you can read the lyrics here, and listen to some of the songs here). For people who don't want to hear the political views of a writer or a performing artist, that's your right. But, Mr. Earle does have some thoughtful things to say, as in the liner notes for the new album:
The Constitution of The United States of America is a REVOLUTIONARY document in every sense of the word. It was designed to evolve, to live, and to breathe like the people that it governs. It is, ingeniously, and perhaps conversely, resilient enough to change with the times in order to meet the challenges of its third century and rigid enough to preserve the ideals that inspired its original articles and amendments. As long as we are willing to put in the work required to defend and nurture this remarkable invention of our forefathers, then I believe with all my heart that it will continue to thrive for generations to come. Without our active participation, however, the future is far from certain. For without the lifeblood of the human spirit even the greatest documents produced by humankind are only words on paper or parchment, destined to yellow and crack and eventually crumble to dust.
And, like everybody else these days, Mr. Earle now has a blog. I'll put it in the list, and check back there from time to time.

August 18, 2004
It Takes A Red-Headed Woman
To Get A Dirty Job Done

Meet Dr. Marilyn O'Grady, candidate for U.S. Senate for the Conservative Party in New York. Dr. O'Grady faces a tough fight in her attempt to unseat Sen. Charles Schumer (especially since there's also a Republican candidate, but apparently nobody knows much about him). In an effort to boost her candidacy, Dr. O'Grady has hit upon an apparently sure-fire scheme - call for a boycott of Bruce Springsteen. As reported by Fox News:
"He thinks making millions with a song-and-dance routine allows him to tell you how to vote," Marilyn O'Grady says in the 30-second spot. "Here's my vote: Boycott the Boss. If you don't buy his politics, don't buy his music."

In a statement, O'Grady said Springsteen "has a right to say what he thinks, but we have an equal right to speak. Now that he's moved onto the political stage to bash my president, it is entirely fair to respond."
You can view her ad from the site at this link.

As an aside, if you are reading this you may have noticed that a certain (choose one: characteristic/trademark/drawback) of this site is the (choose one: frequent/constant/annoying) use of references to the work of one particular artist, in titles and the like. There's no particular reason for that - it's just something to do while setting down these random thoughts. As a result, more than one individual did ask me why I hadn't commented before on the Vote for Change tour. After all, it has everything I've been writing about here - Springsteen, concerns about the Administration's war policy, right-wing calls for celebrity boycotts, and even some musings from Bill O'Reilly. But, in addition to being lazy the week that news came out, I didn't feel the need to add my two cents. But something about this just bugged me, so ...

Back to Dr. O'Grady, who from the video is a red-headed woman spreading some pretty ugly ideas. Remember, she wants to be a U.S. Senator, and she seems to believe that people who disagree with her should be bullied into silence. It's one thing for radio hot-heads, dime-a-dozen columnists, message board scribes or two-bit proprietors of boycott websites such as Pabaah.com (they still won't let me link from here) to "Dixie-Chick" someone. But, someone who aspires to the position of U.S. Senator, ought to have a little more respect for a basic liberty such as freedom of speech. And I don't buy this "they have to face the consequences of their actions" nonsense. Look, if an artist is giving a show to support a cause you don't support, then don't go. If they release a song with a point of view you disagree with, don't buy it. But this idea that you boycott everything involving a musician, or an actor, whose politics are different from yours, is offensive.

A boycott which is designed to change something (as in the 60's civil rights struggles), is different from this kind of boycott. The purpose of these boycotts isn't to change the political views of an artist, but to make that artist shut up (or worse, to keep someone else from daring to speak out). The only appropriate response, to speech you disagree with, is for you to speak your mind - not to force the other guy into silence.

Folks like Dr. O'Grady need to learn the difference between acting like Dr. King, and acting like Dr. Evil.

August 12, 2004
Everybody's Got a Secret, Sonny ...
... and the Governor of my state, New Jersey, had one heck of a secret, which he told us about today. The full text is at this link (courtesy of Curmudgeon at Mapleberry Blog, so you don't have to register at the New York Times to read it). It's a personal tragedy, more than anything else - a tragedy not because he's gay, but because he has felt the need to try to live his life being something that he's not. I was particularly struck by two phrases in the Governor's speech (which, love him or hate him, has to be regarded as a powerfully direct statement):
But because of my resolve, and also thinking that I was doing the right thing, I forced what I thought was an acceptable reality onto myself, a reality which is layered and layered with all the, quote, good things, and all the, quote, right things of typical adolescent and adult behavior.

It makes little difference that as governor I am gay. In fact, having the ability to truthfully set forth my identity might have enabled me to be more forthright in fulfilling and discharging my constitutional obligations.
That's really the tragic part, isn't it? In both his personal, and professional lives, he felt the need to subordinate who he really was, to present a different face to the world. It's a personal tragedy, because of the effect this will have (especially given the very public nature of this disclosure) on the lives of his wife and daughters. And, it's political tragedy, in light of the fact that he may well have compromised his principles as part of his effort to keep his secret.

And, unfortunately, this is a political tragedy which some may try to exploit, not just in New Jersey but throughout the country. Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog has realized the potential national use (or abuse) in Governor McGreevey's personal tragedy:
First of all, the GOP is about to make him John Kerry's running mate. Not all over the country, mind you -- you won't hear gay-bashing at the faux-moderate convention -- but on talk radio and the Internet, and probably above the radar as well, albeit in code words. And I'm sure they'd love to turn the guy who plans to sue him into the next Paula Jones. If they can make an even barely plausible case that he's truly a wronged gay lover, then all bets are off -- they can play this everywhere; they can play it as outrage at abuse of power for the swing voters while working the homophobia and aren't-Democrats-freaks? angle for everyone else.

They're certainly going to play McGreevey's decision to hang on until November as a sleazy Democratic trick -- and now the various nonsexual scandals of the McGreevey years (scroll down to paragraph 14 in this story for a brief summary) will go national. McGreevey may even bump the Swift boat Kerry haters from their spot at the top of the Fox News charts.
Unfortunately, that's an all-too-plausible scenario. And do you want to know the real funny thing about that?

It's this - I don't think any of the mainstream Republicans would want McGreevey to resign earlier, so that there was a gubernatorial election this November. That's because there's only one guy who's up and ready to go with a campaign on short notice: Bret Schundler, his opponent in the 2001 election, chair of an organization called "Empower the People", and who has been gearing up for the 2005 election. Mr. Schundler is still the favorite of conservative New Jersey Republicans - but, this being New Jersey, a lot of the Republicans (especially those in office) are more moderate. For the Republican establishment, if the choice is a quick election which Mr. Schundler is ready for, or an election next year, I think they'd choose the latter.

So, if it is true that the national Republicans will be using Governor McGreevey's situation to attack the Democrats, I think New Jersey's Republicans have their own little secret - and are happy to wait until next year for the gubernatorial election.


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