All this talk about Obama got me thinking of Chicago. All the work that's going to have to get done to clean up Bush's many messes is going to require some very big shoulders.
Chicago has always been a tough town. When my dad
went off to fly bombers in the Army in World War 2 (there was no separate Air Force back then), he had to take a train packed with recruits across the country to training. When another future soldier asked where he was from, he answered "Chicago." The other kid responded excitedly: "Oh yeah? Let me see your gun!"
Carl Sandburg is more eloquent:
Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people, Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.
Posted by Hal Eckhart at 10:28 PM
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Freedom is about Authority
58 years after Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four was published, we have a presidential candidate who espouses the ideals of Orwell's nightmare:
"Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do."
Gee, that sounds familiar:
"War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength."
- Campaign slogan of the Inner Party
Posted by Hal Eckhart at 11:17 AM
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November 2nd, 2004 started for me at 4:30, when I awoke restless about the day ahead. A lifelong malcontent, this was to be one of my first ever days spent actually working on a campaign; helping MoveOn do what needed to be done on election day. I'd finally finished the awful project I'd been working on, so the day was free to volunteer.
An hour later I dragged myself out of bed, sat at my laptop and sucked down some coffee, looking for any late developments and weeding out Rolex spam. The weather forecast said sunny. Yeah, right.
At 6:40, I drove up the hill in a light cold drizzle, and had to park surprisingly far from the seminary polling station. I joined about a hundred of my neighbors waiting in long covered hallway for the door to open a 7. At the appointed hour, the doors opened, and we moved quickly through the process (this is Saint Paul, after all). By 7:15, I was back outside and once again amazed that there were already about 250 people waiting, some of them standing in the drizzle, which wasn't getting any warmer.
After a nice breakfast and more coffee, I managed to get down to the MoveOn headquarters in Minneapolis, only a little behind schedule. The scene was one of barely controlled chaos. Bloodshot eyes, stacks of xeroxed pages, folding tables with rows of cheap rented laptops, wall to wall kids, and a few old-timers like me. Mostly, it was the youngsters who were in charge, shouting instructions to be heard over the din, as we, the dazed newbies tried to figure out what we had to do.
Eventually, we were sent out with some fat stacks of paper, printed out from some sort of database that had lists of people who seemed to be likely to vote for our side. Our job was to knock on doors and make sure everyone was getting out to vote. At least the drizzle had let up.
The results were about what you might expect. Almost nobody was home. Those that answered were generally somewhere between enthusiastic and annoyed that people kept knocking on the damn door. We kept running into the DFL
contingents crisscrossing the same area, doing the same thing.
If you're not from around here, the DFL is our own version of the Democratic Party. It's the result of merging, in 1943, with the much more radical Farmer-Labor Party. These days, it seems like a bit of a joke, when you see how watered down the whole platform has gotten.
By a little after noon, we'd gotten though our lists, and headed back to the mother ship. More controlled chaos, just a little more animated now. Despite all the activity, they weren't quite ready to assign me somewhere yet, so I headed next door for some falafel.
Finally, I was sent off to the Seward neighborhood, to do some door-knocking in apartment buildings. Through a silly series of missed connections, I ended up hanging out with a couple of nice people manning a station outside a polling place. We held signs in a cold wind and tried to direct people to the right place to vote. It was a little more confused because the polling place a couple of blocks away had the exact same number on the street. So people would see the "vote here" sign, note the address on the building, and stand in line only to be told they were in the wrong place.
The best moment was when a school bus pulled up to drop off some kids. The three windows in the back of the bus slid open and two little black faces in each window chanted "Kaaa-reee Kaaa-reee Kaaa-reee Kaaa-reee" and then "Buuuuuuush booooooooo" and then "Kaaa-reee Kaaa-reee Kaaa-reee Kaaa-reee."
The second best moment was the rag-tag "off to VOTE" marching band
that came across the 94 pedestrian bridge from Augsburg. They even started to go into the polling station, but were apparently turned promptly around. It was a moment of pure joy to savor now that bitter reality has set in.
Our fingers were getting numb from being clamped onto the sign, but luckily, my lovely and thoughtful sweetie brought us a pot of hot coffee and bag of scones. Oooh, how elitist of us. At least they weren't croissants. But it was, of course, french roast. There are limits to chauvinism
, after all. Or at least there should be.
I ended the day slogging through a huge list of phone numbers, trying to see if anyone still needed help getting to the polls (no) and had voted (yes, happily). Finally, I checked in with my fearless leader, gave her the numbers, exchanged thankyous.
Happy, content, buoyed by a glass of wine, I felt like we'd really finally done it. Enthusiasm and confidence slowly slipped away that night to a cold hard knot of despair and fear for our future.
Posted by Hal Eckhart at 10:47 AM
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Someone updated the stars and stripes
Waiting for Edwards
Jim Hightower wades through the crowd
We spent Labor day trying to gather more signatures for the Recall Randy drive
. The venue was the annual Labor Day Extravaganza
of the Saint Paul Area Trades and Labor Assembly
of the AFL-CIO. The platform was Michael Graves' godawful
Target Stage on Harriet Island in Saint Paul.
John Edwards, Garison Keillor, and Jim Hightower were among the many speakers. It was a beautiful day, if a bit windy, and a real gas to be among so many like-minded people. There's a growing sense of urgency about getting Shrub out of office. I'm at a loss to think what will happen if voters don't wake up and smell the coffee.
Posted by Hal Eckhart at 10:49 AM
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