Monday, February 9, 2004

Pumpkin Seeds

1. Yesterday's Grammy show was the first one I can remember that I actually thoroughly enjoyed, despite some of the more obvious sympathy awards for Warren Zevon and Luther Vandross. Beyoncé is officially a diva, going toe-to-toe with Prince in the opening number and managing to outshine him on his own songs. (I am curious what the Jehovah's Witnesses in Minneapolis thought of his relatively tame performance, though.) Janet Jackson was smart to skip the show; she's apologized more than enough. Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake both made strong cases for successful transitions from teeny-bop pop fads to talented artists with outstanding performances. Andre 3000 is a nut. 50 Cent is an ass.

2. I am sick of Beatlemania.

3. Dennis Kucinich pulled 8% in the Washington caucus and early returns show him getting 14% in Maine over the weekend. His next strong showing will likely be in Wisconsin next Tuesday. Unfortunately, because of the way delegates are apportioned, he still hasn't picked any up. Nevertheless, a few more solid showings like this weekend and he'll at least be able to make a case for having a voice at the convention.

4. Bush's Meet the Press interview was a wash, not likely to change anyone's mind on either side of the divide. Chopped up into the inevitable sound bites that will eliminate the long deliberate pauses where you can see the gears churning as he got his answers straight, he'll even seem semi-credible to some people that are on the fence about him. Like him or hate him - I can't imagine anyone other than Laura actually loves the guy - he comes off as staunchly committed to his chosen course, regardless of what anyone else thinks. The Democrats need to take notes instead of repeating 2000 and undermisestimating him again.

5. Bush's best moment in the interview came when he parried Kerry and McAuliffe's attacks on his National Guard service - or apparent lack of - during Vietnam, suggesting they were dissing service in the Guard itself. You can believe THAT one is going to be on heavy rotation throughout the summer. Challenging his service is a ridiculous strategy anyway as Bush has survived it in the past, including in 2000 against Gore and McCain, arguably an even bigger pure war hero than Kerry. Bush's team absolutely dismantled the far superior McCain with outright lies and slander that put him on the defensive and derailed his "Straight Talk Express." Now McCain's out campaigning for him and sitting on the committee that will determine whether he purposely misled the country about Iraq. You want to talk endorsements, that's one of the biggest ones yet. Plus, Bush has even more money this time around and no primary challenger to drain his coffers. He is going to have Kerry for an early breakfast, serving him up buffet-style across the country and winning yet another strategic election via the electoral college, this time without the Supreme Court's help. The so-called pragmatism of rallying behind Kerry as the most electable is absolutely ludicrous, almost as much a guarantee of another four years of Bush & Co. as if Dean were the nominee.

6. Will anyone have the temerity to suggest that gays and lesbians shelve the marriage issue for a year so as not to damage the Democrats' chances of beating Bush? There's no question that it's going to be a major issue that the fence-sitting front-runners are going to have to take a firm stand on - for or against, no wishy-washy semantics or taking the state's rights copout - and risk pissing off one side or the other. Roughly two-thirds of the country is against gay marriage, particularly in the conservative south where the Democrats need to pick off at least a state or two, which explains why only Kucinich and Sharpton have had the spine to support it outright as a common sense, civil rights issue. If you think about it, the idea is not so different from those that challenged Nader supporters in 2000, claiming he spoiled Gore's chances for victory by siphoning votes in key states, particularly in Florida. As one of those anti-Nader people in 2000, this time I say bullshit. If the Democrats don't have the backbone to stand up for this issue, to call it what it is - a civil rights issue and a family values issue - forcing the Republicans on the defensive for once, they deserve to lose. Plain and simple. For anyone that thinks it's not worth taking a chance on another four years of Bush, I remind them of this: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." --Benjamin Franklin.

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