Shot Through the Heart
Taking in Republican vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney's visit August 10 to Anderson County High School calls to mind one day in 1988 when rock star Jon Bon Jovi visited a high school gym in Raleigh, North Carolina to spread the gospel of saying "no" to drugs.
Apparently, the visit was arranged because Bon Jovi's manager was busted for drugs. As part of his community service, the manager would dispatch his biggest clients to tell kids to stay away from such naughty things.
Poor Bon Jovi.
Because his manager was a goofball, Bon Jovi was plucked out of the security of his limousine world and dropped into an acne-ridden mosh pit of adolescent freaks either taunting him with "You suck!" or desperate squeals of "Do me, Jon!"
And of course, there was the unforgivably lame local radio DJ who emceed the event. Perhaps extracting some sort of special vengeance on the ruling rock-and-roll aristocracy he served by merely playing records, the DJ told Bon Jovi, "Well, you don't seem so tall in person as you do on your album covers! Ha!"
It seemed highly unlikely anyone left that gym with even the slightest hint drugs were to be avoided. In fact, Bon Jovi himself may have needed a little something to soothe his jangled nerves.
Cheney's visit to the Anderson County High School gym followed the Bon Jovi template - a virtual cameo shot of a celebrity passed off as a meaningful message.
Whether you were among the Republican faithful waiting to be fired up about the presidential ticket or a spiteful Democrat looking for something to criticize, the Cheney visit didn't offer a whole lot.
Just as Bon Jovi grimaced through a painful trip to a high school gym, Cheney came off just as oblivious.
"This must be Kentucky, huh?" Cheney said almost as if he couldn't believe it himself.
The crowd cheered wildly. It also cheered wildly when he added "This must be the home of the Bear Cats" and noted an accomplishment of one of the school's athletic teams.
Cocky with success, a confused hush then fell over the crowd when Cheney erroneously mentioned that the crowd was taking time off from the first day of school. Realizing his error and tossing aside the charade that he is intimately familiar with the workings of Anderson County's public schools, Cheney chided his staff for poor "advance work."
He spoke for a few minutes - just enough time to offer such penetrating statements as "Stay in school" and "Education is key to the rest of your life."
He also opened up enough to share with the crowd that the presidential campaign probably means "there'll be no fishing trip this fall."
While undoubtedly the fish will be disappointed later this year, others were a little let down in the immediate context of that gym.
At the conclusion of Cheney's comments, an audience member remarked, "That was a speech?"
Apparently it was.
Cheney told reporters afterwards that he doesn't believe in long speeches.
Three audience members were allowed to approach a microphone on the gym floor to ask questions following Cheney's opening remarks.
The first probed Cheney's feelings about school vouchers that subsidize private school tuitions and, critics argue, threaten to drain money away from the public schools - like the very one Cheney was using as a set piece for promoting his campaign.
If a public school fails to improve within a three year period, parents should have the option to take those federal dollars and find tutors, a charter school or a private school, he said.
Cheney boldly declared technology in the classroom is "absolutely vital" when the second inquisitor asked what his thoughts were on the subject.
On the third question, Cheney made sure everyone knew he thought the federal government should "support education," but in no way should those Washington bureaucrats wrest control away from the localities.
In about 15 minutes, the speech and the questions were over; Cheney left the stage in a swarm of security and staff to the pounding rhythms of the marching band...
A lot of work went into delivering the maximum amount of pomp for so little ceremony.
In addition to the marching band and a platoon of cheerleaders pumping up the gym filled to capacity, busloads of children - the human props of a modern politic consumed with the question "What about the children?" - were shipped in.
Amid the screaming and the band music, the following interview transcript samples the devotion of typical preteens imported for the event:
Why are you here?
Girls one and two: "Because we like Dick Cheney!"
Girl three: "Everyone from our school came except for one boy because his mother wouldn't let him."
Why do you like Dick Cheney?
Girls one and two: "Because he's cool!"
Girl three: "Yeah!"
Why is he "cool"?
Girl one: "Because he's here to help us!"
How will he help you?
Girl three: "We'll know after the speech!"
Girl one: "Yeah!"
When the event ended and the hundreds of people poured out of the gym, it was impossible to find the girls for a followup interview to see if they had learned to their satisfaction how Cheney would help them.
Maybe it's a sign Bill Clinton's era is drawing to a close. When he campaigned by bus in 1992, people could be waiting for hours at the next rally site because Clinton wouldn't leave the last crowd until he had shaken every hand - even those just wanly pointing in his general direction.
There's no way anyone would have left one of those rallies without coming dangerously close to overdosing on Clinton's southern fried smarminessz.
To Cheney's credit, no one was yelling "You suck" either.
Sad Jon Bon Jovi can't say the same.
But, then again, no one was asking Cheney to do them either.
Amid the general chaos of last week's Reform Party national convention, Bay Buchanan, sister of presidential hopeful Pat, reportedly said her brother would not support Gatewood Galbraith who is vying for Kentucky's sixth district congressional seat.
Galbraith, on the other hand, gave Pat Buchanan a strong endorsement.
Straightening this out, Galbraith told ACE that Bay Buchanan was just unfamiliar with his position on issues like marijuana and consequently did not want to commit her brother to backing him.
Galbraith reaffirmed his support for Pat Buchanan, but added it's probably better for everyone that he stay away from the sixth district.
"An appearance by Pat here would magnify our differences and not celebrate our similarities," Galbraith said.
Among the issues Galbraith identified as dividing him and Buchanan:
· Roe v. Wade - Buchanan is against the landmark abortion ruling; Galbraith said he supports it although he can also back some restrictions such as a 24-hour waiting period.
· Anti-homosexual laws - Gatewood said he doesn't endorse the gay lifestyle, but he feels laws criminalizing private behavior are "bad law." He suspects Buchanan doesn't agree.
Galbraith said he and Buchanan agree on the importance of the United States' national sovereignty and respect for the Second Amendment, among other issues. - ADG
Take this benefits plan and shove it
Workers walked off the job at 12:01 a.m. August 16 at the Canteen Corporation, 868 Nandino Road over pay and benefits.
Doug Harris, a member of Teamsters Local 651 who sat in on negotiations for a new contract, said the 14-member union rejected the company's offer a week earlier and no counter offer was made.
While low pay and long hours are on their list of grievances, workers are particularly upset over the company's decision to change insurance plans. The new plan, workers said, means more out-of-pocket expenses for them.
"The policy is great if no one has to use it," Harris said.
Harris said the unionized employees gave several days of notice before striking. During that time, the employees helped train their replacements, he said.
It's possible the strike could last a while. The union reported the company ordered enough supplies to last two weeks.
The Canteen Corporation performs vending services. A company manager declined to comment on the strike. ADG