October 1, 2003: “Mildly attending to the shenanigans of the so-called major candidates”

I'm the innocent bystander
Somehow I got stuck
Between the rock and the hard place
And I'm down on my luck…

-from "Lawyers, Guns and Money" by Warren Zevon

It's been years since I have been able to muster up much enthusiasm
for any political candidate in this country. This did not result
in what would be an understandable apathy as I have voted in every
congressional and presidential election since the fateful year of
1968, though I have more often not voted for the top or the head
of the ticket. When I lived in Massachusetts' 4th congressional
district I was proud to cast my ballot every two years for Barney
Frank.

As the Republic slouches toward another Presidential election personally,
currently I am more interested in who wins the Booker Prize. I have
found myself mildly attending to the shenanigans of the so-called
major candidates. Because of my disavowal of television as being
vital to my civic responsibility, I have spent some time on the
Internet inspecting and grousing about the representations of America's
Eleven
. For what it's worth:

Dr. Howard
Dean
-- The slogan, "Dean for America," is
clever. The requisite all-American color motif (red white and blue)
with hints of Old Glory. Dean is open shirted looking off into the
distance, no doubt at the radiant future he sees accompanying his
election. The Dean site is given credit for having the first web
blog, though a quick look left me unimpressed. I do like the Italian
Futurist drawing used in the fund-raising initiative. There are
Spanish-language features. Here's Howard Dean on national security:
"Bajo el gobierno de George W. Bush, esta nación
se ha perdido en el camino. No sólo estamos menos seguros,
tanto en nuestra tierra como en el extranjero, sino que aun hemos
disipado nuestro rol como fuente de inspiración y guía
para otras naciones. Yo busco el devolver a los Estados Unidos el
lugar que le corresponde en el mundo y su liderazgo moral en los
asuntos internacionales
." Or if you will, "Under
George W. Bush, this nation has lost its way. Not only are we less
secure at home and abroad, we have squandered our role as the inspiration
and guiding light for other peoples. I seek to restore America’s
rightful place in the world and its moral leadership in world affairs."

Massachusetts Senator
John Kerry
-- The headline "Hammer Bush out of
the White House" is the boldest statement I can recall from
a candidate who rivals Al Gore in his roboticism. It does have a
certain ring to it, and the hammer cursor is a cute touch. But the
visual of Kerry reading "My Friend Rabbit" to a group
of kids is beat. So is his slogan, "The Courage to Do What's
Right." I am wondering why the announcement that the new Kerry
website is also in Spanish is in both English and Spanish.

President George
W Bush
-- No surprises except maybe the photo of Dick
Cheney smiling. And there is the GeorgeWbushstore.com. You can buy
George Bush stuff there. And, not to belabor the obvious, there
is a lot of blah blah blah here.

President George
W Bush
-- Okay, so this is the parody “official
site” and the site about which President Bush opined, "There
ought to be limits to freedom!" Here's one headline, "President
Bush's Even-Tempered Response to Egregiously Slanderous Iraq Criticism
from Senator
Ted ‘Pinko Hooker Murderer’ Kennedy
." Showing
pictures of Bush picking his nose may be a low blow. He wasn't President
at the time: "Priceless
footage
of W publicly picking his nose -- right from ESPN coverage
of a Rangers game when W was part-owner." This site as no Spanish-language
component.

Republican National Committee
-- Predictable stuff except for the RNC monthly newsletter entitled
"Rising Tide." That's a good title, dammit. And the Spanish-language
site is serious and comprehensive.

Democratic
National Committee
-- Okay, they have a weblog called
"Kicking Ass." They have the Spanish thing going too.

You Decide
-- Here's Bill Feldspar on his creation, "Welcome to the ‘George
W. Bush or Chimpanzee’ webpage. This is a little project I
decided to start once I realized how much George W. Bush looks like
a chimpanzee. I'm not a member of any political party, and I have
nothing in particular against the man. I just think he kind of looks
like a chimpanzee."

Draft Jim Traficant,
Democrat President 2004
-- Former congressman "Jim
Traficant is in prison so are you" is currently serving an
eight-year prison bit on federal bribery, racketeering, tax evasion
and other corruption charges. It's a great country, isn't it?

Guide to
the 2004 Democratic Presidential Candidates
-- Useful
because it has a list of at least 31 other candidates running for
the Democratic nomination.

Connecticut
Senator Joseph Lieberman
-- Joe? And then there is
Joe's Jobs Tour. What that? There's more, "Joe Lieberman's
manufacturing recovery plan will help transform today's producers
into the factories of the future, make worker training more affordable
and accessible, and level the global playing field by cracking down
on unfair trade practices while continuing to open new markets."

Reverend Al Sharpton
-- Just a hint of an American flag. Brown, green and black are the
motif There's no Spanish iteration, but there is the Rev's 10 point
program:

1. Raise issues that would otherwise be overlooked—for
example, affirmative action, anti-death penalty policy, African
and Caribbean policy.
2. Fulfill American democracy by supporting voting rights or statehood
for the 600,000 disenfranchised citizens of the District of Columbia.
3. Increase political consciousness and awareness.
4. Declare the RIGHT TO VOTE A HUMAN RIGHT and supporting H.J. Res.
28, a constitutional amendment.
5. Stimulate more people to get involved in the political process.
6. Declare EDUCATION A HUMAN RIGHT and supporting H.J. Res. 29,
a constitutional amendment.
7. Increase voter registration.
8. Declare HEALTH CARE A HUMAN RIGHT and supporting H.J. Res. 30,
a constitutional amendment
9. Strengthen our REAL national security by fighting for human rights,
the rule of law, and economic justice at home and abroad.
10. Rejuvenate the idea of putting AN EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT FOR
WOMEN (ERA) in the Constitution and supporting H.J. Res. 31, a constitutional
amendment.

Dennis Kucinich
-- The currently unemployed former mayor of Cleveland lays claim
to being the "Progressive Choice": "I am the only
candidate who will take this country away from fear and war and
tax giveaways, and use America's peace dividend for guaranteed health
care for all, ending health care for profit." There are images
of Martin Luther King and JFK, a picture of Willie Nelson in a Kucinich
for President t-shirt and Ani DiFranco is a pal. Studs
Terkel anoints Dennis
"the one," and this site unabashedly
(and perhaps disingenuously) entitles his story "Power to the
People."

Former
Ambassador (New Zealand) Carol Moseley Braun
-- Lots
of the usual red white and blue. Ambassador Moseley Braun has a
great smile and the whitest teeth on the campaign trail. No Spanish-language
section. Que pasa?

Florida Senator
Bob Graham
-- The usual campaign visual motif with
a picture of Graham and, we assume, Mrs. Graham and three tots (Who
they?). Also, Jim Buffet is a fundraiser for the Senator. There
is Spanish and this site has the weblog thing going, but the disclaimer
"The following comments are from our visitors, and are not
endorsed by Bob Graham for President" puts the kaboosh on verisimilitude.
It must have been the people from legal.

North Carolina
Senator John Edwards
-- What does Edwards get for announcing
his candidacy on the "Daily Show"? Really. I don't know.
Tell me. Anyway, the site is concerned with—as it announces—accessibility
but has no Spanish version, which is a dumb move. There is a weblog:
"Welcome to my campaign's official Blog! I'm new to this whole
thing, but it's very exciting, and I thank you all for helping make
this a community for us all to talk. You know the past few weeks
have been very exciting for the campaign. I've continued to meet
with people all over the country and am very encouraged by people's
show of support."

Missouri
Congressman Richard "Dick" Gephardt
-- Gephardt,
whose father was a milk truck driver and a proud member of the Teamster's
Union, goes right after Howard Dean's online fundraising ability
with a pop up ad. And this web site has this oddly original effort—who
knows, maybe Dick rocks or be down with the funky beat—"Submit
your own Gephardt music.” Dick Gephardt released "Gephardt
Remix," an important musical addition to a Democratic nomination
fight. Gephardt, who will be honored at grassroots house parties
across America on September 30, 2003, also invited others to send
their own musical entries. Qualifying songs will be added to the
Gephardt House Party website. "Gephardt Remix" was made
by Mike Gustafson of Fort Dodge, Iowa. If you would like to send
your entry, simply email a short 1-2 minute original song tmixology@dickgephardt2004.com.

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