Posts Tagged ‘John Kerry spits hot fire’

As we recently discussed, the Obama team has perfected the zeitgeist campaign.  Some of it is intentional, (the text messages, the basketball,) while the rest (the internet memes) just sorta happens.  Music is another important element of this.  Everyone knows Republicans make poor DJs, and Senator Obama has collected an impressive variety of musical endorsements.

Democrats always pwn music.  Even sad-sack John Kerry had future Senator Bruce Springsteen.  But, as the BBC’s Gavin Hewitt noted today, Springsteen, the Foo Fighters, and Bon Jovi were always the headliners; fans would literally come for the band and leave from the candidate.  Obama is the star, and his campaign has picked perfect music to augment his aura:

“Two songs, however, are used to define the campaign. One is the arrival anthem, that plays Barack Obama onto the stage. It is U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” – with its line “oh you look so beautiful tonight.”

It’s a stunning song, combining a real Phil Spector sound with a crowd-pleasing hook.  They also nailed it on Biden, bringing him out to Springsteen’s “The Rising.”  It may be a little too 9/11, but Springsteen acolyte (and legitimate Reverend) Jeffrey Symykywicz makes the case for why it works, and most importantly it just feels right.

Choosing campaign songs is not as easy as it looks.  Hillary’s people flubbed it with Celine freakin’ Dion, John Edwards’ schtick was Mellencampy, and poor McCain-Palin keeps getting sued.  So back to the other song Hewitt identified as central to the campaign:

“…after his speech, when he lifts the bottle of water to his lips, in comes the heavy beat and then Stevie Wonder’s scream in “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

It’s an awesome song from an all-time great American musician – it’s easy to forget that the man’s been on the charts since 1963.

In the key of Stevie, an African-American friend of mine said something worth closing with.  I had been talking about the cultural relevence of Bob Dylan to my family, the kind of people who raise their kids on Phil Ochs and Joan Baez, edited up a “liberation haggadah” for Passover, and distribute “Rise Up Singing” as a graduation gift.  We were driving somewhere discussing this when Stevie comes on his CD player.  My friend turns to me and goes: “What Bob Dylan means to your mother, that’s what Stevie Wonder means to black people.”

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Tim Wise is a sharp, incisive, southern Jewish anti-racist writer. Which is why the right people make anti-semitic attacks on him. (Seriously? The “big nose” line from David Horowitz? What, is “Horowitz” his stage name? Paragons of Aryan manhood, all of you…)

But that’s a tangent. Point is, at least three people have sent me this within the last couple days. Wise goes through a comparison of Barack Obama with John McCain and Sarah Palin in order to hash out the importance of white privilege on the election. He compares the treatments of the candidates’ personal stories and asks whether the same traits perceived as positive with white candidates would be acceptable with Obama. Example:

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

Quite right. This is the guy about to make Governor Palin a grandma. (So much for the “I don’t want kids” on his Myspace page.) Let’s see a black candidate’s 17-year-old daughter get pregnant by a profanity-laced, violence-threatening young man and count the seconds before CNN Presents: Crisis in the Black Family. There’s more:

White privilege is when you can develop a pain-killer addiction, having obtained your drug of choice illegally like Cindy McCain, go on to beat that addiction, and everyone praises you for being so strong, while being a black guy who smoked pot a few times in college and never became an addict means people will wonder if perhaps you still get high, and even ask whether or not you ever sold drugs.

Imagine that Michelle Obama had committed fraud to acquire painkillers through a medical charity and subsequently attributed it in part to stress brought on by her husband’s political scandals.

Unfortunately, the article is just a little too much race explains it all. Like an amateur Marxist, Wise has a theory that fits everything. Consequently, he overreaches:

White privilege is being able to sing a song about bombing Iran and still be viewed as a sober and rational statesman, with the maturity to be president, while being black and suggesting that the U.S. should speak with other nations, even when we have disagreements with them, makes you “dangerously naive and immature.”

This isn’t because Obama is black; it’s because he’s a Democrat. “Naive and dangerous” is exactly how they tagged Kerry when he questioned the formulation of the “global war on terror.” They ran ads asking how the Massachusetts Senator could protect us when he “[didn’t] understand the threat.” All foreign policy statements from the left are naive, dangerous, or both. Doesn’t matter what color the speaker is.

There’s other examples as well:

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

First, Palin has already lost something like 11 or 12 points off her approval ratings between her convention speech and today. Second, it’s the anti-intellectualism, stupid. If you go on Bill O’Reilly’s sixty minutes hate, you’re going to be attacked; and if you speak to low-information voters in sentences longer than a bumper sticker, you’re an egghead. Gore was one, as were Kerry and Dukakis. (Remember this was old model Kerry, not the newly-combative Kerry 2.0) President Clinton was a bright guy but got away with it in part because Bush père sucked worse at slogans. Senator Obama joins a long and distinguished line of totally white Democrats facing similar charges of intellectual arrogance.

A couple times, Wise makes this mistake of confusing “standard Republican tactics” with evidence of white privilege. (Whether it’s preferable that the GOP be a party of bottom-feeding slanderers or simply a party of racists remains an open question.) Just because Wise is wielding a hammer of racial justice doesn’t make everything a nail.

That said, the article is a quick, fun, provocative read. Its pith also makes it ideal for email forwarding, which has become an important medium this election cycle. Worth a few minutes of your Friday.

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Last week, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Corruption) introduced a resolution honoring the life and music of the late Isaac Hayes. With 20 co-sponsors, the bill praises Hayes for his “vocal performances, songwriting, humanitarian work, and television and motion picture endeavors, and as a radio show host, pianist, saxophone player, restaurateur, and cookbook author.” HRes 1425 was dropped on the Judiciary Committee and will likely come up for “debate” (read: Tennesseans patting each other on the back) this week.

While this is clearly one of those yay-my-district bills, It’s a little hard to imagine the Congresswoman’s 87% white constituents wholeheartedly embracing Black Moses. That said, she does technically represent his birthplace, and a combination of home field advantage and personal preference has been known to cause otherwise ultra-conservatives (Blackburn, Issa, Orrin Hatch, Lamar Alexander,) to stand with the musicians’ union on key issues.

More on Orrin Hatch in particular from teh Wiki:

In the early 1970s he was the band manager for a Mormon-themed folk group called the Free Agency. The Free Agency was made up of members of an earlier Mormon group called the Sons of Mosiah, that was formed when guitarist David Zandonatti and vocalist Ron McNeeley relocated to Utah after their San Francisco based psychedelic group Tripsichord music box disbanded in 1971.

Rock musician Frank Zappa composed a guitar instrumental entitled “Orrin Hatch On Skiis,” which appears on his album, Guitar (1988).

Yes, Tripsichord Music Box and their San Francisco values.

Anyway that’s a digression. Point was, this Congressional resolution includes such gems as:

“Whereas Isaac Hayes was a television and film actor, appearing in countless television shows and three dozen movies, including roles in `The A-Team’, `The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’, `Girlfriends’, and `Miami Vice’

It’s not quite Cynthia McKinney’s Who Shot ‘Pac? bill, but the A-Team? Any day Mr. T gets name-dropped in the Congressional Record is a good day. Also this:

Whereas Isaac Hayes created the groundbreaking musical score and theme song for the movie `Shaft’

(For the record, this is the only bill in the current Congress featuring the word “shaft” that doesn’t relate to cars, energy or homeland security. Minds out of the gutters and search it yourself.)

But most crucially, this post allows me to re-use the John Kerry Spits Hot Fire tag.

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John Kerry was a revelation on Wednesday. Forceful as a nor’easter, he came out and just hammered the crap out of his Senate colleague John McCain. Here’s the video, and here’s an excerpt contrasting “Senator McCain” with “candidate McCain:”

“…I have known and been friends with John McCain for almost 22 years. But every day now I learn something new about candidate McCain. To those who still believe in the myth of a maverick instead of the reality of a politician, I say, let’s compare Senator McCain to candidate McCain.

Candidate McCain now supports the wartime tax cuts that Senator McCain once denounced as immoral. Candidate McCain criticizes Senator McCain’s own climate change bill. Candidate McCain says he would now vote against the immigration bill that Senator McCain wrote. Are you kidding? Talk about “being for it before you’re against it!”

Let me tell you, before he ever debates Barack Obama, John McCain should finish the debate with himself. And what’s more, Senator McCain, who once railed against the smears of Karl Rove when he was the target, has morphed into candidate McCain who is using the same “Rove” tactics and the same “Rove” staff to repeat the same old politics of fear and smear. Well, not this year. Not this time…”

Watch the video, because the crowd effect makes it much stronger. It got even better when the man derided for “looking French,” the man whose Purple Hearts became the butt of frat-boy pranks, turned his sights on the issue of patriotism:

“…The McCain-Bush Republicans have been wrong again and again and again. And they know they will lose on the issues. So, the candidate who once promised a “contest of ideas,” now has nothing left but personal attacks. How insulting to suggest that those who question the mission, question the troops. How pathetic to suggest that those who question a failed policy doubt America itself. How desperate to tell the son of a single mother who chose community service over money and privilege that he doesn’t put America first…

…This election is a chance for America to tell the merchants of fear and division: you don’t decide who loves this country. You don’t decide who is a patriot. You don’t decide whose service counts and whose doesn’t.

Why Democrats always get religion after the fact is anybody’s guess. They run tepid, centrist campaigns, avoiding confrontation, minimizing partisanship, and trying to win with appeals to technocratic competence and some stolen percentage of a poll-identified “swing demographic.” Then they lose, go away a few days, grow the loser beard, and come back spitting hot fire. Better late than never.

(…and some Katrina karma…)

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