Just because you do something, and then an outcome occurs, doesn’t mean that what you did affected the outcome.
But that doesn’t stop Uncle Mort from believing his lucky bowling shirt is why the Yankees are on a hot streak. It doesn’t stop film producers from thinking that just because one Saturday Night Live skit became a good movie, therefore all Saturday Night Live skits become good movies.
And it doesn’t stop us from flipping a little lever and thinking that we’ve participated in a democratic process.
This space predicted in December of 1998 that the most likely White House scenario for Death Race 2000 was Gore/Bradley running against Bush (assuming none of his personal life became an issue, in which case Forbes could buy the nomination), with Liddy Dole as the VP candidate.
None of which may not seem like any great insight at the moment, but remember: at that time, roughly a dozen Democrats were still considered potential candidates by the mainstream media, and while Bush was already a front-runner, Liddy Dole was one of another dozen relatively minor GOP candidates, with poll numbers placing her roughly 10th in the field.
However, the fundraising picture was already clear enough, even then, that I included the prediction in my forthcoming book, which was due to the publisher last spring — almost a full year in advance of the first actual American citizen casting a single vote in the very first primary.
So we fast forward …
Last Thursday, presidential candidates filed their quarterly fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission.
The Democratic side: same as it ever was. The son of a powerful Senator has raised about twenty million bucks. The basketball player has a little over half that. (Notably, more than one-third of his contributions come from the three states — New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut — which received the broadcast signal of Knicks games during his NBA days.) In short: there was greater dramatic tension in the Phantom Menace pod race.
On the GOP side, the son of a President leads all scorers with over $37,000,000. That’s almost three times as much as his nearest competitor, the son of a rich publisher, who is so far spending only the millions he is given by others without dipping into his personal petty cash. Meanwhile, the wife of a powerful Senator, who benefits from using hubby’s old Rolodex as fundraising Viagra, has pulled into third place in terms of cash on hand.
(You can find the latest figures and a whole bunch of cool analysis at www.opensecrets.org, the website of the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.)
Bush, who has a record of giving fine customer service to his major Texas donors, is now raising so much cash so fast — almost two million dollars last Wednesday alone — that he’s about to pass the $40 million spending limit that would keep him eligible for matching funds, possibly before the end of this month. Which means Bush is gonna be able to just spend as much money as he can raise.
Excuse me, but what’s the point of even holding an election, if the winner is determined before the very first vote is cast?
Of course, we can always change the way future campaigns are financed, assuming we ever decide actual democracy might be worth the bother.
Or we can just wear our lucky bowling shirts.
Jerry Falwell’s at it again.
You remember the whole Teletubbies thing — Falwell’s people sensed a dangerous gay agenda because — horrors! — Tinky-Winky has a triangle on his head.
And we all know that everything with a triangle is gay.
Those Russian guys who play those really big bass guitar-looking balalaika things? All gay. Every single one.
The Egyptians who built the pyramids? Gay. Even school kids know the Pharaohs wore skirts and eye make-up. Nudge, nudge, wink wink.
The Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity at Yale that George W. Bush belonged to, which used a triangle (the Greek letter Delta) as its symbol? Gay.
So let’s all thank goodness Jerry’s kids are watching out on our behalf.
Matter of fact, they’re at it again.
Their target this time around? Lilith Fair. According to the last issue of the National Liberty Journal, the concert series is apparently far more than just a showcase for Sheryl Crow, the Dixie Chicks, and Suzanne Vega; it’s also a demonic plot to send your children to Hell.
Well, we knew that much. After two straight hours of Lisa Loeb whining about relationships, Hell would be a welcome relief. But Falwell’s people mean this in an actual religious sense.
OK. Whatever. See, Lilith is a character in ancient Jewish lore — although Falwell’s people prefer the term “pagan” — who was (in most of the stories; there are a jillion, in some of which Lilith not only destroys her own children, but takes custody of Rose Law Firm billing records) the first wife of Adam.
However, Lilith got kicked out because she wasn’t willing to kiss up, and so instead we got Eve, who ate the forbidden fruit, and so there goes the whole garden and now we’re all stuck with melanomas, pager numbers, and Ricky Martin. Gee, thanks, Eve.
Anyhow, Falwell’s people see the use of Lilith’s name as deliberately evil, since she’s not in the Bible and whatnot, and so now rock and roll music is gonna lead to our complete destruction.
Oh swell. Again?
In the meantime, all I can say in response to these guys is: relax. Thank you for your holy deeds. I congratulate you on your vigilance. And, work accomplished, I think you deserve a little rest.
Take a break. Go home. Put your feet up. Turn on the TV. Find a rerun of some old sitcom and enjoy.
Maybe you can find yourself an episode of Cheers.
In the wake of last week’s piece on the freakish pork-in-the-tomato gene-spliced FrankenFood we’re all eating, I received a number of emails alerting me to some of the other fine work of America’s leading food engineers.
As an example of how Mondo Cane this stuff gets, I’ve chosen one with a high ick factor, purely for entertainment value.
At some point in life, usually as children, almost every one of us has asked our Moms the following question:
Just how exactly do they make pink lemonade pink?
Prompted by you, my demented readers, I did a little poking around, and sure enough, there is an answer. And that answer is:
Crushed beetle eggs.
That’s really the truth. Now, not all pink lemonade uses this particular dye, so check your label, but it turns out that the red coloring often used is something called “cochineal extract,” which extracted from the eggs of the cochineal beetle.
The cochineal beetle, incidentally, is a little squirmy thing that lives in cactus plants in Peru and the Canary Islands. Which, if you ask me, is precisely where the cochineal beetle belongs, not in a cold summertime drink many of our kids chug by the gallon.
The label doesn’t always say “cochineal extract.” Sometimes, if they purify the extract, they call it “carmine.” Swell. It’s still crushed insect eggs. A rose (coloring) by any other name …
And while beetle eggs are supposedly pretty safe, not everything Big Brother packs in your lunchbox is. Check out www.safe-food.org if you’re curious about what the hell else is throbbing around in your fridge.
Y’know what? For me, here’s the distressing part: I’m a vegetarian and it turns out I eat crushed beetle eggs all the time. If you eat ice cream or yogurt or candy that has a red, pink, or purple tinge, guess what? You’re gargling beetle juice. Call me crazy, but it seems like that ought to be on a label somewhere.
“The lemons in this pink lemonade contain no pork, beef, mollusk, or kangaroo DNA, and the ade part became pink without the use of insects, spiders, or garter snakes.”
Just like Mom used to make.
Bob Harris is a radio commentator, political writer, and stand-up comedian. His new book, Steal This Book And Get Life Without Parole, will be published soon by Common Courage Press.