Monday, October 30, 2006

Pitt Full Of Casey

Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey, Jr., visited my alma mater the other day, as reported by the campus paper. The big guns (local version) came out for this one:

The party came complete with speeches from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, State Representative Dan Frankel, Congressman Mike Doyle, Chris and Andre Heinz and Senate hopeful Bob Casey.
The Heinz boys! That's kind of embarrassing. Those kids follow the path of John Kerry. That's a hell of a substitute father figure to mature under.

Before the rally, students lined Fifth Avenue bearing "Bob Casey for U.S. Senate" posters and called for support from passing motorists and pedestrians. Rick Santorum supporters also took a stand along Fifth, holding posters and cheering for their candidate.


What's more obnoxious than a bunch of lawn signs up and down the street? A bunch of hand-held signs waving in your face when you're trying to drive down the street. (NOTE: I am not a great fan of lawn signs.)
In from the rain and armed with buttons, bumper stickers and signs, students and Pittsburghers welcomed Mayor Ravenstahl, who was the first to offer support to Casey's campaign. "We have the opportunity to change the way Washington is working," Ravenstahl said. "We can get rid of the Bush administration --- well, we can't get rid of the Bush administration, but we can lead the change by electing Bob Casey."
Pittsburgh's youthful mayor has a lot of appeal. He boldly and respectfully stepped forward to assume the position in the wake of Bob O'Connor's untimely demise, he has appeared on David Letterman, he bravely defended the honor of the city against the threat of Sienna Miller, and he installed the first-ever computer in the mayor's office.

On the downside, he is a big city Democrat. How else can you explain the "we can get rid of the Bush administration" slip? He sees George W. Bush the way that a lot of us see Hugo Chavez, or Ahmadinejad: As a threat to be eliminated. Every time a leading Democrat opens his/her/its mouth and makes a statement like that, I am more and more convinced that the Dems aren't just our rivals; they are the enemy.
Frankel took the mic next, asking the audience, "Have you had enough of rising deficits and reduced student loans? Have you had enough of incompetent foreign policy that has divided our country? We've had enough of Rick Santorum." Frankel predicted a "clean sweep" for Democrats in the coming elections because, he said, "this state, this city, this University has had enough."
I will admit that I know absolutely nothing about Dan Frankel, but he doesn't sound like the kind of guy I'll be sitting down and sharing lunch with anytime soon. He uses a rhetorical device that bothers me when politicians of either party employ it: "I am the spokesman for EVERYTHING!" Frankel lives in Pennsylvania, so he speaks for all Pennsylvanians! He lives in the city, so he speaks for all Pittsburghers! Frankel went to Kenyon College, so he speaks for everyone at Pitt! Oops. Well, Oakland (the city neighborhood in which the University is situated) is part of his district, but most people who attend or work at Pitt live in his district.

Perhaps a lot of people at Pitt have had enough of Dan Frankel, whether or not they can vote in his district.
Congressman Doyle followed Frankel and led the crowd in a cheer, spelling out "Pitt Dems" and calling for personal initiative to get out and vote.
No word on whether Congressman Dipshit used a megaphone and pom poms.
"Republicans are going to begin a campaign of 'fear and smear' now," Doyle said of upcoming political ads. "They're going to show you Osama Bin Laden, remember him? He's the guy who attacked us four years ago who Bush never went after."
And welcome to the Democrats' twilight zone! It's never "fear and smear" when Dems attack Republicans, but when the criticism goes the other way -- watch out! It's mean people being mean to nice people who are being nice, even when they are smearing their opponents.
Advising Democrats to ignore what he called "propaganda," Doyle said, "It's all about turnout now. I promise you, if we show up to vote, we win."
Yes! Listen to Mike Dipshit, Democrats; ignore "propaganda", and you will end up voting Republican. (I find it harder and harder to believe that this guy was ever a Republican.)
Repeatedly referring to current Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum as "George Bush's rubber stamp junior senator," Doyle said, "If we gain control over the House and the Senate, George Bush won't have any more rubber stamps and will have to answer to the American people he's been screwing over."
All of the talk about "rubber stamp" and "98%", referring to Santorum's record of voting to support Bush administration policies, is goofy. Santorum and Bush belong to the same political party. It would seem a bit odd if they didn't match nearly 100% percent on the issues. Find a Democrat who only voted with Clinton 98% of the time, and the Dems would tout him/her/it as an independent thinker who follows his/her/its own conscience.
"Eleven days to change America," Doyle said. "Do you want to do it?" The crowd responded with a standing ovation for the congressman.
Yes, we do! Let's vote Bobby Casey out of the public spotlight for good. Another good suggestion from the guy who otherwise doesn't know what he's talking about.
Following Doyle was Chris Heinz, the Republican-turned-Democrat stepson of Sen. John Kerry. "I don't get to talk about Rick Santorum very much," Heinz said. "In fact, this might be my last chance."
I'm very sorry to hear that. I didn't realize that Chris Heinz was terminally ill. Or perhaps he means that he's going to climb into a hole if Rick gets re-elected.
Taking advantage of the opportunity, Heinz said, "He is, in my mind, bar none, the worst senator I've ever seen in my life," a comment that drew strong applause.
Did his dad ever use such strong rhetoric? (I mean his real dad, not the Herman Munster who married his mom.) I know that John Heinz was considered a moderate, even a liberal, Republican, but he was a party man and generally well-liked by the public. Which side is using "fear and smear" again?
Planning to be out of town for the election on Nov. 7, Heinz brought his completed absentee ballot to the rally. Showing the envelope to the crowd, Heinz said, "I voted for firing Donald Rumsfeld, which felt good." Still, said Heinz, "I don't consider myself a partisan man. I am first and foremost an American. This is a democracy and just because a Democrat is going to be elected, doesn't mean we shouldn't be held accountable."
Bzzzt! Wrong! America is NOT a democracy, and never has been. When was the last time you got to vote on an issue and not a human representative? This is a representative republic with democratic elements. Not the same as a democracy. If it was, Chris Heinz would be able to vote for firing the SecDef. But he can't. The system doesn't work that way.

If I were scripting this rally, I would have had one of Casey's hippie supporters lighting up a smoke during the Heinz speech, and letting the wind blow a few hot ashes in the direction of Heinz's absentee ballot, thereby setting the paper ablaze. What a moment it would have been! I missed my calling. I should have been a filmmaker.
Casey took the stage last and was greeted by applause from the crowd and handshakes from the preceding speakers. He thanked the Heinz brothers for their support, and Casey said of their late father, "John Heinz grew up with wealth but understood he had an obligation to serve if given the chance, and I'm thinking about him today and thinking about this region, and I think the future looks bright."

But was he wearing shades? Or drinking Heinz ketchup straight out of the bottle, for that matter? (NOTE: I have always used Heinz ketchup at home, and probably always will. Ketchup is not political.)
Two student Santorum supporters shouted to Casey, "Where's your commitment to HIV/AIDS? Are you going to do better than Santorum?" "I'm going to do a lot of things better than Santorum," Casey said. "I put 10 specific plans forth in this campaign. The score right now is 10 to one. His only plan right now is privatize social security, and that is a bad plan."

Remember how Bill Clinton cured AIDS when he was elected back in 1992? Neither do I. Casey gets credit for quickly changing the subject, but then he disingenuously reduces his opponent's agenda down to one plan. Admittedly, privatizing social security isn't the most popular policy on the public's agenda, but it's not the only thing that Rick Santorum is about. How much has Casey had to say about terrorism and international affairs?
Casey's top concerns were improving childcare and reducing global warming. "If we invest in children in their younger lives, they're not only going to be brighter, happier people, but they're going to contribute more to society," Casey said.
I'm a father of several children, and it bugs me when some politician talks about "investing in children's lives". There is a perverse "get 'em while they're young" air about it. My children are my business, Mr. Casey, not yours. You and your ilk want to turn our babies into perfect copies of yourselves. They are unique individuals, and have been since the moment of conception. Do not mention them again. Shut your mouth and talk about something else.
He said that solving global warming was one of the government's responsibilities. "We have to have mandatory reductions of carbon emissions, because unless we confront this crisis, we might as well not have Congress or other governmental leaders," he said.
"Global warming" is climate change. It's been happening in cycles for millions of years. It's very arrogant to assume, as Casey does, that humans could affect climate change in such a short span of time, either for better or for worse. Whatever credibility he had to begin with is pretty much shot at this point.
"The urgency for change across Pennsylvania and across the country is a tidal wave," Casey said. "This is the year America says no to more of the same, no to divide and conquer and yes to a new direction."
This last bit is a meaningless generalization that sounds good if spoken by the right orator. Try to imagine Casey speaking these words, in his quiet nasally voice. It's horrible. Absolutely horrible.

And like Bob Casey, Jr., absolutely meaningless.

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