Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Getting Out The Vote...well, a few of them, anyway 

Well, I kicked off my first day of canvassing in Allentown on Saturday morning the way any enthusiastic Kerry supporter would: with a little Christian television in my room at HoJo's, while I ate my Raisin Bran from a small styrofoam bowl. (While partaking of the "continental breakfast" in the lobby I had spied a middle-aged man peering into his iBook at the Electoral Vote Predictor; although in retrospect the EVP + the Mac should have pegged him as a Dem; still who knows these days; but yes, it turned out he and his wife were in town canvassing with ACT. We mutually celebrated our presences.)

Anyway, I was watching the "Imperial Christ Network" or whatever, and the program was called "Janice's Attic," an ostensibly "scientific" children's program whose stated mission is to promote wonder of all God's works.

Unfortunately, "Janice" promotes nothing but stupidity and disgust at her own sweetly smirking condescension and thinly-veiled dislike of children. First "Janice" conducted an"experiment" in which she set out to "make" a banana, by combining ingredients such as flour (evidently processed white baking flour is a universal equivalent of "carbohydrate," which bananas contain), sugar, phosphorous, and crushed vitamins (bananas contain vitamins, it turns out) in a bowl, mixing up the crap, and pouring it in a yellow cylinder of cardboard. An African-American "doctor" then appeared onscreen to "taste" the "banana." Of course the "doctor" finds it disgusting--which proves, as both the "doctor" and "Janice" chant in sing-song unison, that "Only God can make a banana!"

Now, I don't care whether you believe in the Deity or not--what the fuck is this "experiment" supposed to be teaching children? That the best efforts of "science" consist of deliberately half-assed attempts to mix up a bunch of shit in a bowl? What could the response of small child possibly be to the efforts of "Janice," other than, "No shit it tastes shitty, you dumb whore--if you wanted to make something worth eating, couldn't you at least read and follow a recipe? My mom buys me banana-tasting fruit gummies or whateverthefuck the in the grocery store all the time, and in fact they taste even more banana-y than real bananas, I'd far rather eat banana-flavored crap than an actual, boring-ass banana, so don't attempt to tell me that the full force of science brought to bear on a project like this (combined with a fat commercial budget) couldn't produce something a great deal better"? What is "Janice" teaching our children about the entrepreneurial spirit? Don't even try it? Does "Janice" want all our kids to be stupid and poor, and on evil welfare?

The next segment on "Janice's Attic" features Janice, an elderly woman gardener, and a small girl tending a flower garden together. The elderly woman posits that unlike every other plant and animal in our ecosystem, flowers were put on this earth by God for no other purpose than our own aesthetic enjoyment.

What sort of blasphemous, satanic argument is this? Has no one heard of bees? Of fucking pollination? I almost thought I heard the little girl say, "What's wrong with you, you hedonistic old whore? How solipsistic and selfish can you be? have you never heard of fucking insects? Do you know what an ecosystem is?"

What the hell is wrong with these people? Of all the possible ways to promote a message of wonder toward God's creation, this is the best they can come up with? Adult silliness, willful incompetence, and the assertion of obliviously counterfactual information?

But anyway--the canvassing! Here's me at the Allentown field office with a stack of lawn signs I had assembled the previous night:

Saturday we canvassed in a neighborhood west of Bethlehem, not far from Lehigh University. Canvassing is basically going door-to-door with clipboards, culling information on who is and who isn't a strong Kerry supporter and likely voter; urging people to go to the polls on Election Day; making sure they know where their polling place is, have a ride if they need one, etc. Although we are briefly trained in the arts of brief "persuasion," you actually meet relatively few undecided voters on the canvassing route, since this phase of the GOTV campaign is aimed at making sure "the base" gets to the polls. The neighborhood was almost entirely Spanish-speaking. This might have been a problem, since neither I nor my canvassing partner spoke Spanish; but aside from a woman in her thirties who mumbled something about "killing babies...and lesbians..." and an elderly woman who told us (through a "translator"--a teenage kid in a do-rag who happened to be around) that she was waiting for her Pentecostal, evangelical church to advise her on her voting decision (the pastor of that church also happening to be her son), almost everyone indicated in one way or another that they were going to vote, enthusiastically, for John Kerry on election day.

This isn't the aforementioned Hispanic neighborhood--it's a presumably academic community on the hillside near Lehigh U--but it's what I took pictures of:

Here are some views of the abandoned Bethlehem Steel mill, looming above the river banks like a dark monstrosity, a sublime sight:

Sunday we canvassed in a working-class neighborhood across the river from Bethlehem in an area called Freemansburg. It was mostly white, a good deal elderly. We encountered a few more people who were either "undecided" or refused to talk to us about who they were voting for; but again, almost everyone was happy to take our Kerry/Edwards buttons, and one woman was thrilled when we offered her a Kerry window sign. She's been meaning to get one, since her next door neighbor had a Bush/Cheney sign with an appended, handwritten "Stand Firm."

Kerry's going to take PA, no doubt. The thing is it's got a Democratic governor, and the neofascist GOP thugs just don't have their dirty hooks of corruption and fraud as deep into the voting machinery as they do in FL and OH.


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