In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
It should be noted that Flanders, in the north of France, was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the World War I. One of the few things said to have survived the bloodshed was the poppy. John McCrea, a Canadian doctor serving on the battlefield, wrote this poem after treating the battle wounded and burying the dead. This poem is the reason that the red poppy flower is the symbol of Veteran's Day and given out by veteran's organizations, like the VFW.
Veterans' Day (formerly Armistice Day)
November 11, is the anniversary of the Armistice which was signed in the Forest of Compiegne by the Allies and the Germans in 1918, ending World War I, after four years of conflict.
At 5 A.M. on Monday, November 11, 1918 the Germans signed the Armistice, an order was issued for all firing to cease; so the hostilities of the First World War ended. This day began with the laying down of arms, blowing of whistles, impromptu parades, closing of places of business. All over the globe there were many demonstrations; no doubt the world has never before witnessed such rejoicing.
In November of 1919, President Woodrow Wilson issued his Armistice Day proclamation. The last paragraph set the tone for future observances:
To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nation.
In 1927 Congress issued a resolution requesting President Calvin Coolidge to issue a proclamation calling upon officials to display the Flag of the United States on all government buildings on November 11, and inviting the people to observe the day in schools and churches ... But it was not until 1938 that Congress passed a bill that each November 11 "shall be dedicated to the cause of world peace and ... hereafter celebrated and known as Armistice Day."
That same year President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill making the day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia. For sixteen years the United States formally observed Armistice Day, with impressive ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the Chief Executive or his representative placed a wreath. In many other communities, the American Legion was in charge of the observance, which included parades and religious services. At 11 A.M. all traffic stopped, in tribute to the dead, then volleys were fired and taps sounded.
After World War II, there were many new veterans who had little or no association with World War I. The word, "armistice," means simply a truce; therefore as years passed, the significance of the name of this holiday changed. Leaders of Veterans' groups decided to try to correct this and make November 11 the time to honor all who had fought in various American wars, not just in World War I.
In Emporia, Kansas, on November 11, 1953, instead of an Armistice Day program, there was a Veterans' Day observance. Ed Rees, of Emporia, was so impressed that he introduced a bill into the House to change the name to Veterans' Day. After this passed, Mr. Rees wrote to all state governors and asked for their approval and cooperation in observing the changed holiday. The name was changed to Veterans' Day by Act of Congress on May 24, 1954. In October of that year, President Eisenhower called on all citizens to observe the day by remembering the sacrifices of all those who fought so gallantly, and through rededication to the task of promoting an enduring peace. The President referred to the change of name to Veterans' Day in honor of the servicemen of all America's wars.
(Excerpts from All About American Holidays by Mayme R. Krythe)
Unlike Memorial Day in the U.S., Veteran's Day is for remembering the living veterans, not just the ones that have already died in the service of our country. That includes the people serving right now, this minute, for the United States. It's better that you show your appreciation for their sacrifice and service to our country in a repectful, sincere manner now -- no matter what your political beliefs are -- rather than missing the opportunity and only having Memorial Day to honor our veterans.
I remember what is like to spend years away from home, too. I know most servicemen ultimately think of only one thing -- getting home to their loved ones. So, for you guys, I give you Jessica to remind you that someone is waiting for you at home.
As we discovered yesterday, in v1.0 on this topic, it is a convenient assumption made in the media that the hispanic vote, and perhaps specifically cubans living in South Florida, had at least some impact in the election of Mel Martinez to the U.S. Senate. Indeed, it is common, or even appropriate, for people to vote for candidates that share some of their ethnicity in a representative form of government. However, looking at the results of the Senate race in Florida may reveal some interesting things not covered by busy news reporters.
In the table below is the first set of unofficial results of the Florida U.S. Senator election as posted on the Florida Department of State, Division of Elections website.
You can click on a candidate's name to go to their web site, if any. All seven of these people were listed on Project Vote Smart. It should be noted that these numbers were transcribed directly from the Florida DoE site today. The numbers I initially had for this blog entry were slightly different which indicates to me that the DoE is updating the numbers without creating a new table or annotating when their numbers have been changed. Hence, their use of the word unofficial describing their election results covers that asspect of it, I guess.
So, you ask, "What is so friggin' interesting here?"
The first thing that's interesting to me is the unreported election day spoiler candidate for Democrat Betty Castor -- in Dennis F. Bradley. Both Democrats and Republicans brought lawsuits to inhibit Ralph Nader being on the presidential ballot. However, flying under the radar was Senate candidate, Dennis F. Bradley, whose 165,945 votes would have put Betty Castor in the Senate instead of Mel Martinez, who won the election by only 83,593 votes (unofficially).
I know you expect more out of me than something that went unreported in the press. So, I'll give you my sarcastic observations about this Senate race as it applies to crazy part of counting. Go to the web site of the 'Veteran's Party' candidate for Senate. No, seriously. Move your fat, Cheetos-stained hand, grab your sticky mouse, and click on Dennis F. Bradley in the table.
For all the many millions of dollars dumped into the combined campaign funds of both Democrat and Republican candidates to snatch up the available Senate seat of retiring Senator Bob Graham (D) in Florida -- to pay for those nasty, negative campaign TV commercials that I had to endure for months -- the true spoiler of the Florida senatorial race, Dennis F. Bradley, may have simply appealed to the patriotic redneck vote (people who would apparently rather do anything than vote for a rich, cuban Republican lawyer or an over-educated, female, liberal Democrat) with a website that has a cheesy midi audio file of Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." on it.
You don't know how insanely happy that makes me, in a typically 'Go fuck yourself' way, of course. Next time, it may be the Darma and Greg vote that gets the 165 thousand votes and screws up the two-party political domination. Whatever. Blame the cubans or the rednecks this time, if you like.
Me, I just blame the college kids who didn't vote. It is their high school friends, not mine, who are most likely to fight and die overseas. They were supposed to represent the liberal wing of the Democratic party, but turned out to be what I call 1102 Slackers. I'm impressed with those people that did vote, and even more so with people that were politically active this election season.
In all seriousness, I was impressed and made proud by some of the voices from both sides of the dominant two-party system, decisive independents, and both ends of the cultural spectrum of the country who got off their ass. Like the 1102 Slackers, the rest are immature, self-centered sociopaths who better take a foreign language class or small arms weapons course, if they expect to work for a living after graduating from school.
Not to end on a grouchy note, click on some of the other (WRI) candidates for Senate. My personal favorite is Nancy Travis. Republicans may have had Karl Rove as their architect, but 18 people in the family of Nancy Travis voted for her. Besides the obvious appeal of having photos of her pets on her campaign website, explore the website of her campaign architect and her son, Brian, at National Citizen. I'll know if you checked it out. That's what the comment function is all about on a blog.
Before I moved down to Florida, the only political weirdness in the sunshine state of which I was aware was the widely-known 2000 chad counting controversy. In retrospect, some might look back on the 2000 election and call that time in Florida politics the good old days. From comments made by political commentators in the national media that Ohio was supposed to be this election year's Florida, I may have been lulled into my state of Zen Apathy prematurely. Looking closer at the 2004 election myself, I find I am counting cubans, conspiracies, and crazies.
First, just so you don't think I'm being some ranting, angry white man from America's red state south -- because this is your first visit to Thunderstorms, you see my face in the header image, and instantly assume I must be making a racist or xenophobic comment -- everyone seems to counting cubans. I just wanted to state that upfront because I know from past experience that people read my entries weeks and months after a topic is fresh in people's minds from some obscure word phrase hit on internet search engines. To be perfectly honest, I used that phrase simply because I am apparently becoming a big fan of using alliteration in my blog entry titles.
Nonetheless, people are counting cubans in Florida. One cuban, Mel Martinez, is now Florida's first cuban Senator. If you think the Bush and Kerry campaign advertisements on television were negative and nasty, let me tell you that the Senate race between Betty Castor and Mel Martinez aired some television ads that were also particularly vicious and extremely ugly. Whether those ads made a difference in the election of Mel Martinez to the U.S. Senate, I leave for others to analyze.
Personally, it's going to take a lot of legislative wisdom from Martinez to erase the initial feeling I have that he may just be yet another Republican Lackey and Bush Buttboy, based upon the campaign he ran. His campaign staff may have just been star-struck from the attention their little sunshine state race received from the architect, Karl Rove, and the producer, Stuart Stevens.
So, let's count cubans. On Google, the headline is "Hispanic vote vaulted Martinez into Senate". Less enthusiatic is the headline in the actual story to which that Google assertion is linked -- the Palm Beach Post. If you happen to be a Hispanic voter living there, you're only given credit for having "probably propelled" the good Senator into his new job. However, if you live in Daytona Beach, you'd be sold the same story and minimized further with "Conservative vote aids Martinez's narrow win".
Hey, I don't mean to be too Chomsky-esque about all this, but if I were a cuban living anywhere, I would be a little pissed. As a mattter of fact, I might even ban the U.S. dollar in my native Cuba. If you thought a few Florida newspapers manufactured consent, how would you like to stand in this line to convert your horded emergency cash into Cuban monopoly money?
Why that would be like voting in the 2004 election and not having it count, or something. I will leave us counting conspiracies and crazies for tomorrow. Probably I will have to file those things under the "Conspiracy Theories in the Imajica" and "You can't make this shit up" (YCMTSU) categories.
As a sidenote: I think the big conspiracy is the president staying out of the news and chilling while the media forgets about the election in its ADHD manner only to blast your soft malleable brain cells this week with Operation Phantom Fury in Falluja, Iraq. Public statements by Bush will undoubtedly stress the grand autonomy of the Iraqi PM Allawi and how he and 'commanders on the ground' made the decision on the timing of going into Falluja. Plausible Deniability.
When it comes to shaping reality, remember Neo -- There is no spoon.
For now, though, I would like to draw your attention to 5.82 MBs of audio goodness that you can download. You get a free MP3 download without the pesky RIAA lawsuits. I wanted to do something cool for this MP3, but I'll just give it to you without fanfare for reading this far. It's my reaction to the 2004 election.
When you listen and think about Evil Stevie, imagine a mix between South Park's Timmy and Stephen Hawking with a Taxi Driver mohawk haircut -- watching a streaming pirated copy of Sid and Nancy, scootering frantically back and forth in his electric wheelchair, and plotting the next big hack. If you don't understand any of those pop-culture references, google them yourself. I can't do all the work for you.
Unlike the prepared speeches that the Bush administration carefully crafts for the president, like Karl Rove's stirring victory speech this week, there are times when the leader of the free world can display a little of his own personality. Usually, after George Bush stumbles through the prepared remarks for a press conference announcing some agenda or policy -- carefully trying to pronounce those pesky foreign words or straining to hold back his nervous snickers during nuanced economic phrases -- the president can then just relax a little. He seems most comfortable with himself during the conversational post-press conference question and answer period. During a recent press conference, a reporter erroneously asked the president what his thoughts were concerning the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The president snickered and replied, "Ding Dong. The wicked witch is dead."
Oddly putting a finger in his ear, he then said, "Oh. I mean, God bless his soul."
I'm so glad the Mandate Monkey kept his job. John Kerry would have been all serious and broke into a boring explanation of the history of the Israeli people post WWII, mixing in concerns for Palestinian economic projections, and the latest intelligence coming in hourly on the tense mood of the region. Nobody wants to hear that shit. We like our president to be unplugged from reality and able to explain what snacks he likes to eat while watching Nascar racing with his dog, Barney.
One thing has been troubling me, though. If Red State America gave George Bush a historic victory and a mandate to continue to fuck the country sans vaseline for four more years, who didn't vote for him?
According to projections and analysis, about 60% of all the people in our country got off their ass and voted, and 40% did not. I'm not entirely positive about the exact numbers, but let's do the math in the easiest way possible. Not including about a half-million people that apparently voted for Ralph Nader, about half voted for Bush and the other half voted for Kerry.
The voters basically broke down into three groups: 30% (plus some) for Bush, 30% (minus some) for Kerry and lastly, the Nader hippy commune -- who we'll leave alone while we're doing mathematics -- so as not to create any troubling karma and harsh their buzz as they design hemp camping trailers.
If you add the two groups of people in the country who did not vote for George W. Bush in 2004, 40% plus 30%, that equals 70% of the citizens of the United States. I'd argue that Bush's 30% doesn't equal a historic mandate for shit. I'm sorry, but it just doesn't add up. Cheney can lie, but math doesn't.
Now, I have been busy with my own life and not having any children of school age means that I'm a little ignorant to what new math curriculum is popular now. This topic totally flies under my personal radar for the most part. I do know most kids go to public schools, some go to private schools and some are home schooled. However, what I don't know, or must have missed, is this: when did the No Child Left Behind program start teaching creationist mathematics?