A Cautious Man
October 31, 2008
Halloween Night Springsteen
Currently up at BruceSpringsteen.net -

Dear Friends and Fans,

If you grew up in central or south Jersey, you grew up with the "Jersey Devil." Here's a little musical Halloween treat. Have fun!

A "high resolution" version is there. A "no time to wait, I got candy to collect" version is here -

A Night With The Jersey Devil
by Bruce Springsteen/Robert Jones/Gene Vincent

Hear me now!
I was born 13th child, 'neath the 13th moon
Spit out hungry and born anew
Daddy drag me to the river tie me in rocks
Throw me in where it's deep and wide
I go down, I don't die
Hole in the river bottom, I crawl through
Come back kill six brothers and sisters, kill papa too
Sway down Mama, sway down low
They gonna know me wherever I go

Into my bed with her kerosene my mama creep
Set my flesh to burning, whilst I sleep
I burn, burn, burn, till my soul burn black
Black rains fall, I come back, I come back
Get down Mama, get down low
They gonna know me wherever I go

16 witches, cast 16 spells
Make me guitar outta skin and human skull
Sing you a song like the wind in the sandy loam
Bring you baby out'cha your happy home

Ram's head, forked tail, clove hoof, love's my trail
I sup on your body, sip on your blood like wine
Out world theirs, this world mine
So kiss me baby till it hurts
God lost in heaven, we lost on earth
Sway down Mama, sway down low
They gonna know me wherever I go
Wherever I go, wherever I go

Well I got a brand new lover
I love her yes I do,
She's my one and only and her name is Baby Blue...

For more on the Jersey Devil, visit the folks at Weird NJ.

October 30, 2008
Tougher Than The Rest
It’s a little late in the game to be thinking about this, but what the heck. Given everything we now know, and have seen in this campaign, can we say that Senator Obama was the best choice as the Democratic nominee for President? In my humble opinion, “yes we can” say that. The main reason, I believe, is his consistent message and approach, and adherence to the positive aspects of his campaign.

Senator McCain and his supporters, whether politicians or right-wing pundits, have engaged in all sorts of nasty attacks. Would there have been as much attacking if the nominee was, say, Senator Clinton? I don’t see why there would not have been. All of the same old nonsense would have been recycled, for one. Remember, these are the people who managed to paint a decorated Vietnam veteran, John Kerry, as a phony if not a coward. Although it might not have been a big consideration during the primaries, the ability of the Democratic nominee to stand up to those tactics, to weather those attacks, is clearly an important qualification for being the standard-bearer. Senator Obama has shown that he has that ability.

In addition, we’ve seen that it doesn’t matter what the Democratic nominee actually says or believes – the right-wing attack machine is always ready to take a phrase or half of a position, and reinterpret it into a completely baseless attack. The “socialism” chant that’s become the basis for Senator McCain’s campaign is evidence of that. Senator Obama may suffer from a tendency to assume that he is having an adult conversation with reasonable people, forgetting that what he says will be sliced-and-diced and repackaged by the hate machine, but the same thing would have happened to whomever was heading the ticket. What may not have been the same, would be the presence of mind to push forward in a positive way, rebutting the attack machine not with similar nastiness, but showing a clear resolve and strength of character as a counterargument.

It’s only recently that I realized (maybe late in the game, but so what) that Senator Obama has been following the same steady course throughout his campaign. What some people have called his “No drama Obama” persona is really a consistent, certain attitude that he has presented, without veering off into new approaches or scrambling based on whatever happened to come up in the news. Look at last spring, when he declined to jump on the “suspend the gas tax” bandwagon, or the recent financial crisis. Compare this with Senator McCain, who has veered from issue to issue, and jumped on the most inane of talking points (see “Joe the Plumber”, or whoever or whatever he is). The contrast could not have been more stark, and this has only served to show Senator Obama in an even more positive light, imho.

And it’s not just the recent campaign. The brilliant and effective rejoinders to the offensive “real vs. fake” America arguments have their roots in Senator Obama’s introduction to the national stage, four years ago (as mentioned here previously). Senator Obama started on his road to this point by rejecting that sort of divisiveness, and by staying on that road he may have (one can only hope) helped to turn a page in our politics.

The greatest virtue of Senator Obama and his campaign is that he is offering himself as someone to vote for. All of the joking about the “Obamatic” infomercial last night aside, it is the case that he talked about reasons to vote for him, and did not engage in any attacks on (and certainly no distortions of the record of) Senator McCain. Throughout the long campaign, I think he has made the case that he has the right intentions, the right proposals, the right people behind him, and the right message to spread through the United States, and to the rest of the world.

That’s a reason for (can I say it?) “hope”.

57 Channels And ...
Obama's on every damn one of them (to paraphrase Keith Olbermann from last night).

And as Rachel Maddow noted, the Big BrOadcast of 2OO8 starts with an image of wheat stalks waving in the wind - Americans always love to see stalks waving in the wind, apparently.

That having been said, it was probably necessary. There are a lot of people who (I know this will shock you) do not surf through the internet for points of view outside of what comes through their television screen or (worse) through the speaker blaring out right-wind talkradio. A well-done presentation of Senator Obama's biography, values, and general proposals, coupled with a respected and respectable "cloud of witnesses"1 (Governors, Senators, a General, a former President a cross-section of ordinary people and a live, cheering throng) made for a powerful statement. Hey, if you haven't seen it, take a look2:

And for pure comedy gold, check out Michelle Malkin's "Liveblogging" of the presentation. Don't be too bitter, there, ma'am.3

Sure, that commercial cost the campaign serious bucks. But, coming down to the wire, with a healthy warchest, what else are they going to spend that money on - clothes?4

1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us" (Hebrews 12:1)

2 And if you did watch it, for gosh sakes, don't waste time sitting around and watching it again - do something constructive!

3 But we love Ms. Malkin, here. We really love her!

4 Yes, I learned a new html code today. Can you guess which one? Sorry, we're slow learners here at Cautious Man HQ.

October 29, 2008
"I’ve been Ayn Randed, nearly branded a Communist ’cause I’m left handed ..."
The drumbeat from the McCain campaign and media enablers ("share the wealth" "redistribution" "SOCIALIST!!!") goes on. As provided by the Talking Points Memo website, Senator McCain's remarks yesterday continued and expanded his attack, taking in the whole Civil Rights movement in the process:

After months of campaign trail eloquence, we've finally learned what Senator Obama's economic goal is: to spread the wealth. In a radio interview revealed this week, he said the same thing -- that one of the quote, "tragedies" of the civil rights movement is that it didn't bring about "redistributive change."

ThinkProgress provides a compilation of some of his media sidekicks:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Senator McCain still pushing his plan to use our tax dollars to buy up lousy mortgages - at full price - and then settle for less than their value. That may be a break to some homeowners, but it's also a huge break for the banks. I guess "redistribution" is only bad if it goes to other people.

Finally, also courtesy of TPM, Senator Obama responded today -

Obama: "By the end of the week, he'll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten. ... I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich."

October 26, 2008
Sunday Night Springsteen
Tonight it's not Springsteen himself, but there's still a connection.

The Hold Steady. We'd never really heard of them before seeing them as part of a tribute show in April of 2007, honoring Bruce Springsteen as a fundraiser for the "Music for Youth Foundation". The Hold Steady was the last act (before Mr. Springsteen strode onto the stage), and they did a great reading of "Atlantic City". I've since gotten into their music, and can highly recommend them, especially their most recent album, "Stay Positive".

In this first video, frontman Craig Finn talks about his rock heroes, and says his biggest hero musically is – Bruce Springsteen.

I like this quote, about when he finally met one of his musical heroes: "Meeting your heroes, there’s such an opportunity for them to disappoint you because they can’t live up to all the things that you’ve hung on them. The good news is, if your hero’s Bruce Springsteen, he doesn’t disappoint."

And this is a video with a song about heroes, and trying to be heroes. There are numerous versions of this song on the youTubes, and this live version from Late Night is a good one (albeit the picture is a little odd).

Raise a toast to St. Joe Strummer
I think he might’ve been our only decent teacher
Getting older makes it harder to remember…
We are our only saviors …

And, what the heck, let's roll the "Rosalita" from the "Music for Youth" finale. Mr. Finn starts it off, and as I wrote at the time: "But, the honoree made a point of letting the other artists do most of the lead singing. They acted like they were kids again, singing along to the record. It was kind of sloppy, but well ..."

October 23, 2008
Living In The Future
Regarding that whole "real America vs. fake America" argument from the McCain campaign, discussed below, who knew that the real answer to that nonsense was already given four years ago, by that up-and-coming guy who gave the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic Convention, which we noted here at the time -

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America - there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

Whatever happened to him? Oh, yeah, he's still at it. Which is a good thing, because he still has to fight against that kind of divisiveness:

At a defining moment like this, we don't have the luxury of relying on the same political games, the same political tactics, that we've become accustomed to. This slash-and-burn politics that divides us from one another... which the challenges and crises we face right now, we can't afford to divide this country. By race, by class, by region, by who we are, by what policies we support. Let me tell you something, because I know you've been hearing a lot of stuff lately. There are no real parts of the country and fake parts of the country. There are no pro-America parts of the country and anti-America parts of the country. We all love this country. No matter where we live. Or where we come from.

Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, young, old, rich, poor, gay, straight, city dwellers, farm dwellers, it doesn't matter, we're all together [...] The men and women from Virginia and all across this country who serve on our battlefields. Some are Democrats, some are Republicans, some are independents. But they fought together, and bled together, and some of them died together under the same flag. They didn't serve a blue America, or a red America, they served the United States of America. Nobody should forget that.

If only this could be the last time that someone has to remind everyone of that.

October 22, 2008
"Blood Brothers In The Stormy Night ..."
From the "I didn't know that" department, this fact from an article in yesterday's NY Times "Science Times" section, about creatures with a "taste for blood":

Professional blood feeding may not be for the faint of heart, but nature abounds in amateurs and opportunists. The vampire finches of the Galápagos live mostly on seeds, nectar and eggs, but they supplement their diet with occasional high iron snacks, by persistently pecking at the wings and tail region of one of the islands’ well-named blue-footed boobies. Once the finch draws blood, said Dr. Schutt, “you’ll see five finches waiting behind it like customers at a deli counter.”

I just liked that name, "vampire finches". Sounds like "killer quail", or something like that. They even had a picture of "Count Finchula" in action -

October 21, 2008
In the American Land
What is this land America so many travel there
I'm going now while I'm still young my darling meet me there
Wish me luck my lovely I'll send for you when I can
And we'll make our home in the American land

- Bruce Springsteen, American Land

Someone has to ask Mayor Rudy Giuliani a question: "Is New York City part of the 'real America'?" This question came to me after watching Jon Stewart's devastating take on last evening's "Daily Show", regarding Governor Palin's statement about what constitutes the "real America", as she put it the other day:

“We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans.”

The best part in the piece below was his pointed rebuttal to the assertion that America's cities aren't part of the "real America":

So that means that cities like New York and Washington are the capitals of fake America, the epicenter of fake America, the - what's the word I'm looking for - the "Ground Zero", if you will, of anti-America. I bet bin Laden feels like a real @sshole now. "What? I bombed the wrong America?"

The whole thing:

This leads to my question at the start of this post. Will someone ask Rudy Giuliani if New York is part of the "real America"? Is New York City a place with hard-working, pro-patriotic Americans? Is there kindness and goodness and (especially) courage in New York, also?

Will someone ask Rudy these questions? Gosh, I wish they would.

October 20, 2008
Colin Powell Takes On The Haters
I have no special insight about General Colin Powell's endorsement yesterday of Barack Obama, but there's one part I'd like to highlight.

I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards--Purple Heart, Bronze Star--showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life. Now, we have got to stop polarizing ourself in this way. And John McCain is as nondiscriminatory as anyone I know. But I'm troubled about the fact that, within the party, we have these kinds of expressions.

The New York Times provided some background on Corporal Khan, as well as the picture mentioned by General Powell:

General Powell's strong push-back against the haters who use "Muslim" as an epithet, is one of the most important parts of his endorsement, in my humble opinion.

October 19, 2008
Sunday Night Springsteen
On Thursday, Mr. Springsteen joined with Mr. Billy Joel in a fundraiser for Senator Obama.

It was a little too pricey for me, but I really, really, really would have liked to have been there. I mean, who wouldn't want to be at this meeting of "power couples".

Anyway, from the performances that night, I guess I'm partial to "Thunder Road". Mr. Joel took a verse, and the whole thing was a unique event. There's a YouTube with the complete song, but it can't be embedded, so after you watch this -

Go here for the full performance. And yes, the saxophone player did sound kind of weak, compared to Clarence.

October 18, 2008
Sweet Virginia
After graduating from college, I continued my education at the University located in Charlottesville, Virginia. I met a lot of people from that state, and came to learn that there was the stereotype of a "Virginian", and the reality that there are all kinds of people and views there, as anywhere. Although, I did have one acquaintance who grew up in southwestern Virginia who, even after she came north for work, would let slip with the occasional "N word" after a drink or two, as if that was the way one spoke in polite company.

Anyway, I thought of all of this when I saw this interview with McCain campaign spokesperson Nancy "Superfluous P" Pfotenhauer. She was arguing that the "real Virginia" would not be voting for Senator Obama.

Even when the interviewer gave her a chance to clarify, she said: "I mean 'real Virginia' because Northern Virginia is where I've always been, but 'real Virginia' I take to be the -- this part of the state that is more Southern in nature, if you will."

Wow. So, based on my personal experience, Ms. Superfluous P says that the "real Virginia" is the one where people talk about the n*ggers, as opposed to all of the other possible Virginias.

I would venture to suggest that Ms. Superfluous P is incorrect. The "real Virginia" is the one which elected Jim Webb over George "Hey, Macaca Brown Guy!" Allen. It's the one which elected Tim Kaine, a crazy Catholic guy who is opposed to the death penalty. And it's the one in which all of those people I met still live, even though they know that people in other places may still have that stereotype in their minds.

By the way, I went to Google to make sure that I was spelling "Macaca" correctly. I wanted to type in "George Allen Macaca", but when I had just typed "George Allen", the Google feature that suggests alternatives for what you are searching for had already suggested that as the number one choice.

If I lived in Virginia, I would be annoyed that my state was defined by the racist clowns who occupy positions of influence in today's GOP.

In short, I think the "real Virginia" would be upset with Ms. Superfluous P, because they know that they are more than, and better than, her stereotypes.

Have You Heard The News?
Three Catholic writers (Nicholas P. Cafardi, M. Cathleen Kaveny and Douglas W. Kmiec) who describe themselves as prolife, and who support Senator Obama, respond to a column in a recent edition of Newsweek, in which George Weigel argued against the candidacy of Senator Obama, from a religious viewpoint. A sample:
George Weigel and his fellow McCain advisers are growing frustrated at the state of the campaign, and they should be. This election rightly continues to focus on the millions of Americans at risk of losing their jobs and their homes. The issue of abortion, of course, is tied to the nation's economic fortunes. In part, we endorsed Senator Obama because his tax-reduction plan focuses on the betterment of average families and those living at the margins. Center for Disease Control statistics reveal that prosperity directly affects the abortion rate far more significantly than Republican rhetoric pledging to outlaw abortion—a feat John McCain has failed to accomplish with nearly three decades in Congress.

In terms of health care, McCain makes no provision for the uninsured and proposes that the insured pay more, in all likelihood dumping people into a private insurance market that is more expensive and less responsive to those with pre-existing conditions.

By contrast, Obama does make provision for universal health care and recognizes abortion for what it is: a tragic moral choice often confronted by a woman in adverse economic and social circumstances (without spouse, without steady income, without employment prospects, and a particularly stigmatic and cumbersome adoption procedure). Obama proposes to reduce the incidence of abortion by helping pregnant women overcome the ill effects of poverty that block a choice of life. A range of new studies–using U.S. rather than Swedish data–affirm this approach.

We're happy to continue to debate abortion, but the well-worn battlefield Mr. Weigel occupies should not distract voters from tangible policies that would actually reduce abortions. Before unwarranted Republican indenture, Catholic thinking gave proportionate consideration to how well a candidate addressed such important matters as a just economy, a living or family wage, access to health care, stewardship of the environment, fair treatment of immigrants and, not to be overlooked, the just or unjust conduct of a war. This is basic Catholic social teaching. It also just happens to be Barack Obama's policy agenda.

Is Obama the perfect pro-life candidate? No. Is he preferable to the self-proclaimed "pro-lifer" McCain? Yes, because promoting life in actuality beats McCain's label and all of Weigel's elegant theorizing and hand-wringing. The Republican alternative familiar to Weigel is simultaneously self-righteous, easy and ineffective. The Democratic path is practical, anything but easy—as no act of bona fide love of neighbor ever is—but inviting of a life-affirming outcome.

The whole thing is here.

(Found via dotCommonweal.)

October 14, 2008
Politics and Pasta
The explanation for the title will be clear at the end of this post. After reading about Sister Cecilia (see post below), some people may be confused. After all, they've been listening to high profile Republicans and Republican supporters (some of whom are church officials) suggesting that a Catholic couldn't vote for Senator Obama. Douglas Kmiec has been arguing otherwise for nearly a year now, but few in the other camp ever seem to engage his arguments.

Courtesy of dotCommonweal, I read an interview by John Allen of National Catholic Reporter with Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, who is described as "a past president of the African bishops' conference and is widely considered a leading spokesperson for Catholicism in Africa". Mr. Allen asked the Archbishop about the upcoming election in the United States, and received a thoughtful response:

Do you personally believe the election of Obama would change America’s role in the world in terms of the policies he might pursue?

I’m not a prophet. The idea we have, that we still have, is that there are those who are in office in America, and there are those who in power. Those in power are there permanently, they don’t change, and those who are in office are there to carry out the whims of those in power. No matter who you are, there are certain parameters within which you must operate, and even Obama can’t change that.

If you had a vote, would you vote for Obama?

Obviously, if I had a vote.

Even though he’s pro-choice?

Let me put it this way: The fact that you oppose abortion doesn’t necessarily mean that you are pro-life. You can be anti-abortion and still be killing people by the millions, through war, through poverty, and so on. That’s my own way of looking at it. Of course I believe that abortion is wrong, that it’s killing innocent life. I also believe, however, that those who are against abortion should be consistent. If my choice is between the person who makes room for abortion but who is really pro-life in terms of justice in the world, peace in the world, I will prefer him to somebody who doesn’t support abortion but who is driving millions of people in the world to death.

The choice is not just between a pro-abortion and an anti-abortion person. It’s bigger than that. It’s a whole package, and you never get a politician who will please you in everything. You always have to pick and choose. As they say in Rome, if you don’t take the pasta because of the sauce, then you take the sauce because of the pasta!

You can read the whole thing.

October 13, 2008
Nun Sense
A news story that made me smile this morning -

A 106-year-old American nun living in a convent in Rome could well be one of the oldest voters to cast a ballot in the 2008 US Presidential election.

Sister Cecilia Gaudette, who last voted for President Eisenhower in 1952, has registered to vote and says she will vote for Democrat Barack Obama.

Although hard of hearing, she keeps herself informed by reading newspapers and watching TV at the convent.

"I'm encouraged by Senator Obama," she says.

"I've never met him, but he seems to be a good man with a good private life. That's the first thing. Then he must be able to govern," she adds.

Sitting in her modest office in the convent where she has lived for the past 50 years, the diminutive nun appears uninterested in the row inside the American Catholic church over Senator Obama's support for pro-choice policies on abortion.

Asked about her hopes for the US under an Obama presidency, she says: "Peace abroad. I don't worry about the Iraq war because I can't do anything about it. Lord knows how it will end."

There was a television news story about her, also. She looks like she's one feisty 106-year-old:

Here's some more information about her, now that she's become a worldwide media "star" -

[Sister Carmen Aymar] said Gaudette, a retired teacher of music and art, has been living in Rome for the past 50 years and before that taught in France and the United States.

"She didn't know she could vote by mail or internet and after someone told her she could, she decided to do it," Aymar said.

Gaudette said the last time she voted in an American presidential election was in 1952 and she cast her ballot for President Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican.

Gaudette is hard of hearing and her questions are relayed by another nun. She wears thick glasses and still uses a large, upright black enamel typewriter.

"But she is a very determined woman and still very lucid," said Aymar, who like Gaudette, is a member of the Religious Sisters of Jesus and Mary.

In The Heat Of The Night
In the grand scheme of things, this is almost a nothing story. Still, I think it's an example of Senator McCain being a little out of touch:

In an effort to energize supporters at his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va., John McCain on Sunday may have also whipped up a little controversy with a remark that he'd "whip" Barack Obama's "you know what" at the next debate.

The presidential candidates are meeting Wednesday in their final televised debate before the Nov. 4 election.

But McCain's pledge -- coming after two days of racial grievances aired by McCain's camp over a comparison made by Rep. John Lewis of McCain to the late Gov. George Wallace -- has sent shivers down the spines of some Republicans who find the racially charged verb may be used against the candidate.

Addressing several dozen volunteers at his campaign headquarters outside Washington, McCain promised some of his signature "straight talk" about the state of the race, and went on to acknowledge his drop in the polls.

Senator McCain better be careful if he thinks he's the one who is going to be doing some whippin'. In that spirit, I offer up the following as a preview of the upcoming debate, courtesy of a scene from "In The Heat Of The Night":

October 12, 2008
Sunday Night Springsteen
A "Teach Your Children Well" edition -

Because it amused me and the Cautious Wife.

Sunday Afternoon Cat Blogging
Haven't posted the Cautious Cats in a while.

Here's an action shot -

October 05, 2008
Sunday Night Afternoon Springsteen
... "On the Streets of Philadelphia" edition.

This is a little early, because it's a long watch. Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Springsteen headlined a "Get Out the Vote" rally in Philadelphia, to encourage a last push for voter registration before the deadline.

As described by Backstreets.com -

After the introduction by a wisecracking Governor Ed Rendell, Springsteen and his acoustic took the stage for a seven-song, 45-minute set that opened with "The Promised Land." "Great to be here in my home away from home, Philly," Bruce told the crowd -- a huge turnout on this Ben Franklin Parkway esplanade -- adding later, "I tried this four years ago... this time, we'll win it!"

Songs included the relevant-as-ever "The Ghost of Tom Joad," the invitation of "Thunder Road," the determined rallying cries of "No Surrender" and "The Rising," and for fun, "a song I played many, many times at the old Main Point," "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street."

Toward the end of the set, the crowd broke into a spontaneous "Yes we can" chant, Bruce adding some percussion on his guitar before offering up one more, a regular from the '85 stadium tour, Woody Guthrie's stirring "This Land is Your Land." And one final message to the throng of voters in Philly: "It's up to you now."

The video (from a local television station's site) is about forty minutes long. So, I suggest that you make your self comfortable, perhaps procure a tasty beverage for yourself, and enjoy the show.

Click here to start (there's an ad, then the show).

I especially like the way he used one of his oldest songs, "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street", with special emphasis on this line -

The Daily News asks her for the dope
She says "Man, the dope's that there's STILL HOPE!"

Oh, and there was a speech, which is on the video. This is the text, courtesy of BruceSpringsteen.net -

"I am glad to be here today for this voter registration drive and for Barack Obama, the next President of the United States.

"I've spent 35 years writing about America, its people, and the meaning of the American Promise. The Promise that was handed down to us, right here in this city from our founding fathers, with one instruction: Do your best to make these things real. Opportunity, equality, social and economic justice, a fair shake for all of our citizens, the American idea, as a positive influence, around the world for a more just and peaceful existence. These are the things that give our lives hope, shape, and meaning. They are the ties that bind us together and give us faith in our contract with one another.

"I've spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality. For many Americans, who are today losing their jobs, their homes, seeing their retirement funds disappear, who have no healthcare, or who have been abandoned in our inner cities. The distance between that promise and that reality has never been greater or more painful.

"I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work. I believe he understands, in his heart, the cost of that distance, in blood and suffering, in the lives of everyday Americans. I believe as president, he would work to restore that promise to so many of our fellow citizens who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning. After the disastrous administration of the past 8 years, we need someone to lead us in an American reclamation project. In my job, I travel the world, and occasionally play big stadiums, just like Senator Obama. I've continued to find, wherever I go, America remains a repository of people's hopes, possibilities, and desires, and that despite the terrible erosion to our standing around the world, accomplished by our recent administration, we remain, for many, a house of dreams. One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down.

"They will, however, be leaving office, dropping the national tragedies of Katrina, Iraq, and our financial crisis in our laps. Our sacred house of dreams has been abused, looted, and left in a terrible state of disrepair. It needs care; it needs saving, it needs defending against those who would sell it down the river for power or a quick buck. It needs strong arms, hearts, and minds. It needs someone with Senator Obama's understanding, temperateness, deliberativeness, maturity, compassion, toughness, and faith, to help us rebuild our house once again. But most importantly, it needs us. You and me. To build that house with the generosity that is at the heart of the American spirit. A house that is truer and big enough to contain the hopes and dreams of all of our fellow citizens. That is where our future lies. We will rise or fall as a people by our ability to accomplish this task. Now I don't know about you, but I want that dream back, I want my America back, I want my country back.

"So now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, roll up our sleeves, and come on up for the rising."

October 03, 2008
Norman Rockwell Is Not Smiling
There are a lot of reviews of last night’s Palin vs. Biden debate; this isn’t one of them. This is a review of a review, or at least of part of one. In reading the reviews this morning, one particular passage just annoyed me, and it was by (of course) David Brooks in the New York Times, in his description of Governor Palin’s performance:

Thursday night she spoke like a normal person. It took her about 15 seconds to define her persona — the straight-talking mom from regular America — and it was immediately clear that the night would be filled with tales of soccer moms, hockey moms, Joe Sixpacks, main-streeters, “you betchas” and “darn rights.” Somewhere in heaven Norman Rockwell is smiling.

And I immediately thought to myself, “Norman Rockwell is not smiling”. And its not just because even the average Norman Rockwell illustration is a little more substantive than the folksy veneer presented by Governor Palin and praised by Brooks. No, it’s because of a painting like Norman Rockwell’s “The Problem We All Live With” -

Why is that, you ask? It goes back to Governor Palin’s troubling response to Katie Couric when asked if there were any Supreme Court decisions (other than Roe v. Wade that she disagreed with:

Couric: What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?

Palin: Well, let's see. There's, of course in the great history of America there have been rulings, that's never going to be absolute consensus by every American. And there are those issues, again, like Roe v. Wade, where I believe are best held on a state level and addressed there. So you know, going through the history of America, there would be others but …

Couric: Can you think of any?

Palin: Well, I could think of … any again, that could be best dealt with on a more local level. Maybe I would take issue with.

When I hear a conservative talk about issues that are “best held on a state level” or “best dealt with on a local level”, I can’t help but think of the long struggle to bring civil rights to every person in United States. From school desegregation to voting rights to treating people as human beings in places of public accommodation, these efforts were always fought by people arguing that the federal government was interfering with a “local issue”.

As in the painting, which depicts Ruby Bridges being escorted to school by Federal marshals in New Orleans in 1960. A Federal Court had ordered that the New Orleans schools could no longer remain segregated. There was local opposition, to put it mildly:

Charles Burks, one of the U.S. marshals who escorted Bridges and her mother into the school building, remembers the little girl who became a hero.

"She showed a lot of courage. She never cried. She didn't whimper. She just marched along like a little soldier. And we're all very proud of her."

The first year, all the parents of Frantz Elementary pulled their children out of school to protest the integration. As a result, Ruby Bridges spent her first year in a class of one. The teacher, a woman from Boston, was one of the few white instructors who was willing to teach a black child. She and Bridges showed up for school every single day that year, and they held class as if there were no angry mob outside, no conflict over a little girl attending first grade.

Norman Rockwell illustrated the violent reaction of those who opposed this Federal interference with a “local issue”, not only by showing a wall splattered with a thrown tomato, or the “N word” scrawled on that wall, but by the need for the four, tall, resolute and ready Federal marshals surrounding the young Ruby.

In depicting a stoic little girl, being escorted through a phalanx of hate, Norman Rockwell vividly illustrated that the real American values were those of Ruby Bridges and her champions, and not the people who thought that the Federal government was interfering with their “local issues”. So, on balance, I do not think that Governor Palin’s use of a few “betchas” or “darn rights” would make Norman Rockwell smile.


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