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THE BOSS VERSUS BUSH
Last Post 06 Aug 2004 08:52 AM by Rev Jules. 28 Replies.
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Rev JulesUser is Offline
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06 Aug 2004 08:52 AM
    The following article was re-printed in today's Guardian after an initial publication in The New York Times on August 5th 2004. It represents the first explicit political statement that Sringsteen has ever made in the public arena. Until now, Bruce has, "always stayed one step away from partisan politics". It is a fascinating document and should be read by all who are interested in music or politics or both. CHORDS FOR CHANGE By BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN published in The New York Times, August 5, 2004 A nation's artists and musicians have a particular place in its social and political life. Over the years I've tried to think long and hard about what it means to be American: about the distinctive identity and position we have in the world, and how that position is best carried. I've tried to write songs that speak to our pride and criticize our failures. These questions are at the heart of this election: who we are, what we stand for, why we fight. Personally, for the last 25 years I have always stayed one step away from partisan politics. Instead, I have been partisan about a set of ideals: economic justice, civil rights, a humane foreign policy, freedom and a decent life for all of our citizens. This year, however, for many of us the stakes have risen too high to sit this election out. Through my work, I've always tried to ask hard questions. Why is it that the wealthiest nation in the world finds it so hard to keep its promise and faith with its weakest citizens? Why do we continue to find it so difficult to see beyond the veil of race? How do we conduct ourselves during difficult times without killing the things we hold dear? Why does the fulfillment of our promise as a people always seem to be just within grasp yet forever out of reach? I don't think John Kerry and John Edwards have all the answers. I do believe they are sincerely interested in asking the right questions and working their way toward honest solutions. They understand that we need an administration that places a priority on fairness, curiosity, openness, humility, concern for all America's citizens, courage and faith. People have different notions of these values, and they live them out in different ways. I've tried to sing about some of them in my songs. But I have my own ideas about what they mean, too. That is why I plan to join with many fellow artists, including the Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks, Jurassic 5, James Taylor and Jackson Browne, in touring the country this October. We will be performing under the umbrella of a new group called Vote for Change. Our goal is to change the direction of the government and change the current administration come November. Like many others, in the aftermath of 9/11, I felt the country's unity. I don't remember anything quite like it. I supported the decision to enter Afghanistan and I hoped that the seriousness of the times would bring forth strength, humility and wisdom in our leaders. Instead, we dived headlong into an unnecessary war in Iraq, offering up the lives of our young men and women under circumstances that are now discredited. We ran record deficits, while simultaneously cutting and squeezing services like afterschool programs. We granted tax cuts to the richest 1 percent (corporate bigwigs, well-to-do guitar players), increasing the division of wealth that threatens to destroy our social contract with one another and render mute the promise of "one nation indivisible." It is through the truthful exercising of the best of human qualities - respect for others, honesty about ourselves, faith in our ideals - that we come to life in God's eyes. It is how our soul, as a nation and as individuals, is revealed. Our American government has strayed too far from American values. It is time to pick up the pieces and move forward. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting.
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    06 Aug 2004 09:05 AM
    Very honest and nicely written piece. The main thing though is...what a line-up for that concert.
    mutchUser is Offline
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    06 Aug 2004 10:07 AM
    great stuff.
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    06 Aug 2004 11:40 AM
    I have to say this blew me away when I read yesterday on the NYT's website. I too meant to start a thread on it but Jules (good man!) beat me to it. Yeah, we've been getting rock / pop stars / whatever mouthing off about politicians on a regular enough basis over the years. So you learn to take it with a pinch of salt, if you bother to listen at all. Springsteen however is another kettle of fish. He has spent a remarkable 30 year career avoiding direct statements and positions on politicians throughout his career, be it in song or in interview. The fact struck me particularly around the time he released the Rising. In interviews he did to promote the album he weaved an incredibly skilful - and obviously deliberate - path around politicising September 11th and what the Rising might stand for in terms of politics or policy. He kept his words – like the album - focused on the human side of the story. For him to now come out in this fashion against Bush and his team’s policies is a very powerful statement. And it stands for an awful lot more than it might seem at an initial glance. To be truthful, shivers went up my spine when yesterday I got to the paragraph where he announces his intention to go tour with other artists. I could see it coming as I read down but didn’t think he actually go ahead and do something on that scale. This is one very telling gesture that will resonate. What the article doesn’t say is that the tour is only visiting the 7 or so ‘swing’ states where the vote is a dead heat between Kerry and Bush. eoghan
    Rev JulesUser is Offline
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    12 Aug 2004 04:14 PM
    I've been giving Bruce's article a great deal of thought over the last week. Springsteen is one of America's greatest authors. His unique artistic vision of his country has shaped it's cultural image as surely as any Spielberg movie, John Steinbeck novel or Walt Whitman poem. He writes in NYT, "I supported the decision to enter Afghanistan and I hoped that the seriousness of the times would bring forth strength, humility and wisdom in our leaders. Instead, we dived headlong into an unnecessary war in Iraq, offering up the lives of our young men and women under circumstances that are now discredited". He claims that, "I don't think John Kerry and John Edwards have all the answers. I do believe they are sincerely interested in asking the right questions and working their way toward honest solutions". And yet, and yet... I couldn't put my finger on what was off for quite a while then yesterday morning I heard Jimmy Cliff's song 'Vietnam' on the radio and it all made sense...John Kerry volunteered to go to Vietnam in 1966 AFTER opposition to the war began in the colleges of America in 1965. He was the kind of guy that Jimmy Cliff was pleading with to STOP that war. He is the kind of guy that Springsteen was addressing in the 1980's during concerts when he warned that, 'Blind faith in your leaders or in anything will get you killed' before he launched into the song 'War' which says that, 'War ain't nothin' but a heartbreaker...War is the enemy of all mankind'. If John Kerry was a young man today, would he be signing up to go to fight in Iraq with the words, 'Send me' ? It blows my mind that Springsteen would support ANY war. What makes war waged in Afghanistan any different from that waged in Iraq ? Did Afghanistan give to anybody but the undertaker ? For Springsteen to endorse an old war horse like Kerry, well, I don't know. And I don't see any honour or distinguishment in volunteering to go fight in an immoral, illegal war like Vietnam. In fact, when I saw Kerry give his, 'I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty' schtick in Boston I thought of the final scenes in Born On The 4th of July where Cruise's character screams at the police about the Vietnamese people's proud tradition of defending themselves against foreign agression.
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    12 Aug 2004 04:42 PM
    "For Springsteen to endorse Kerry in any way, well, I don't know." How about lesser of two evils then? It's not my country involved but alot of all our interests are at stake as USA is pretty big in terms of jobs and global environmental impact, in which case I reckon Kerry might not be as owned by the oil cartels..etc as the present "Government" in USA. Sorry to any American's that read this, but I've read some Michael Moore and thus feel I can go "tut tut" from my high horse in the corruption free Island that we (mostly) have here off the coast of Europe...{Big fan of Irish TD's so I am. All those sick priests, so many blind eyes...what a nation we are!} As I said, it's not my country, so I wont tell anyone what to do, I think I would prefer the worlds most powerful nation to at least try to be seen not to endorse what in 500 years time will be seen as nepotism. Plus in fairness Kerry kinda looks like he might make some awfully silly public mistakes that we could relish in, he just seems kinda goofy or something, rather than plain ignorant and seemingly hellbent on ruining everything he touches! heh. I've said too much now cos I am in danger of sounding like I know what the feck I'm on about.
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    12 Aug 2004 04:56 PM
    quote:
    Originally posted by mutch
    I've read some Michael Moore and thus feel I can go "tut tut" from my high horse in the corruption free Island that we (mostly) have here off the coast of Europe
    Ahh, Michael Moore, the 'Dude, Where's my coherant argument' guy ? The fellow who does this cheap shot stuff by asking congressmen whether they would send their sons to war. C'mon Michael, what responsible parent would ? When Springsteen told his own father that he had failed the draft, his father's response was a simple, "Good". Gimme a break here. Enough with the fat, male, millionaire, white, liberals.
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    12 Aug 2004 05:09 PM
    auh, as reinaer wolfcastle once said " dat was th joooohke", still though you gotta admit its good to have someone giving out, stirring it up, most people (myself for one) wouldnt know much about the details of the last election were it not for his book, I know theres probably more even handed people writing about similar topics in a more responsible/professional way, but thats not gonna get the attention of the majority who are fed CNN/SKY/Bloomberg and are over worked or too stoned or whatever to go search for better information. Having said that he is pretty self righteous, but he's not as self righteous as most of the green party and alot of the left have become here in Europe. And begorah isnt he Irish to boot! hah. Ireland strikes again!
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    12 Aug 2004 07:02 PM
    quote:
    Originally posted by mutch
    auh, as reinaer wolfcastle once said " dat was th joooohke",
    Its cool Mutch, I wasn't having a go at you. Its just that I was in contact with an American Professor recently who had writtten an open letter to Bruce in the US political magazine Counter Punch and he wrote the following to me, "I see Kerry as very similar to Bush on Iraq, and am afraid that if/when he wins many voting for him will be bitterly disappointed by his determination to retain and expand the fruits of victory in the region".
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    13 Aug 2004 06:50 AM
    I stand corrected Jules, theres an old saying "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" that applies to me here...
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    15 Aug 2004 05:17 AM
    As an American, (and born and bred NYC resident) let me be (among) the first to say that the US gov't is close, dangerously close, to being in complete disrepair. What we have now in our offices, in our electoral process, in our media "watchdogs" is nothing like democracy, checks/balances, etc. It is actively upsetting that i should be a position where i must pick between the lesser of two evils to run my country. But that's exactly the position I'm in. Yes, Kerry is deceptive in his image as being entirely anti-war. That said, The Boss is right when he says that at the very least, Kerry and Edwards want CHANGE for the u.s., and not simply more of the backwards, self-serving, downright deception that Bush has given me and mine. It's worth noting, too, that even if he's not entirely anti-war (though i wish he were), I trust Kerry to make more sound decisions because he (unlike Bush) knows what war is actually like. Someone asked Kerry once why he's against the death penalty and he simply replied "because I've killed." Can't argue with that as far as I'm concerned. If there's going to be a war (and i wish there wasn't) i'd much prefer it be led by someone who didn't spend his formative years boozing and snorting cocaine and dodging his stints in the army reserve, but rather by someone who knows just how horrible war can be. Point Blank: I cannot deal with another four years of Bush/Cheney in charge, and i applaude Springsteen and the rest for voicing the same sentiment (especially considering the tasty tax breaks they must've recieved from Bush's policies) (Worth mentioning what the hell i'm doing on this message board in the first place- I studied in Dublin miss it terribly and thus cling desperately to my love of the irish music scene via a few friends and this website) That said, i'm fascinated about all your thoughts. keep em coming! x, -h.
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    16 Aug 2004 05:46 AM
    I can't help but see Bush as the lesser of 2 evils in the presidential race. Domestically the Americans would be better off with Kerry 'cause he might help sort out some of the mess Bush made, however on an international front Bush is somewhat isolated and held in disregard. As long as Bush is incharge, France and Germany are unlikely to get involved in Iraq or anyother follow on actions against an imaginary "axis of evil". However if a smooth operator (dunno if that describes Kerry?) does take over and gets Europe involved on a major scale we are gonna reap the consequences first hand. Which ever way it goes a chain of events has already begun and no new president could turn it totally around at this stage. Kerry, by merely running for president, is showing that he isn't opposed to war as there is no way the Americans can pull out of there in the foreseeable future. Empire building is a long hard slog
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    16 Aug 2004 09:41 AM
    Before I continue, I should say that I didn't post up Bruce's speech to take Cluas out of the arena of music related discussion into a purely political areana. And I am also conscious that a number of our readers are American. However, considering that the election is such a hot topic in music circle in America and that Quorian has expressed an interest in hearing a number of different views. Here goes. 1) I agree with El Duderino that America will be not able to leave Iraq anytime soon. Hell, it still has forces stationed in Germany. America will be in Iraq for a very long time and a president that sees it as military situation as opposed to a policing, rebuilding situation is going to find themselves in a lot of hot water. 2) I disagree that Kerry is better qualified just because he is ex military. Military service did not help Carter, Bush Snr or Nixon avoid American involvement in hostilities overseas. Being a former soldier does not automatically make you more peaceable. Kerry went looking for a fight in Vietnam and he has made that aspect of his life story a feature of his campaign profile. 3) I wonder how can Kerry provide affordable health care when he is intent on increasing defence spending. President Clinton left office with a federal surplus of over 5.8 trillion dollars, which he had hoped would be used to provide for care for America's elderly (RTE interview july 2004). That money is now gone. How does Kerry plan to pay for his ideas ? Clinton was many things but, as president, he was first and foremost a fiscal genius. If you look at his 2004 Democratic Convention speech it is full of financial, yet easily grasped, detail. If you want to understand the financial implications of what Quorian is saying, have a look at that speech. http://www.johnkerry.com/pressroom/speeches/spc_2004_0726.html Sadly, it is exactly the kind of detail which is entirely lacking in Kerry's own address. 4) I often wonder at musicians like Bruce who sit in the shadows during a presidency and then come out at election time. I feel that they are politically naive in a way which musicians like Bono aren't. If you look at the way Bono handled Bush, no different then if he was his local TD, he used his fame to walk into his office and then asked for money to help the weakest in global society. Did Bush tell him to get lost, nope, he wrote him a cheque. If guys like Springsteen did that, used their influence properly, and not just to tell people which way to vote...P Diddy and Eminem are telling people to register so that they have a vote in the first place...then you might have a more equitable government. 5) The other thing I wonder about is Bruce's phrase, "we need an administration that places a priority on fairness, curiosity, openness, humility, concern for all America's citizens". There is an arguement to be made that America's global influence is now so great, and the number of countries its foreign policy affects directly so numerous, that this election is not truly democratic. That American voters are now an elite, choosing a leader whose decisions affect people far beyond the national boundaries who do not have the vote. Clinton understood this. He talked about a 'global economy' in his 1998 state of the union address. He knew that the world had shrunk. He realised that future american presidents had to take into consideration not just the citizens of America but the citizens of the world or as he says, "we live in an interdependent world". I do not believe in the lesser of two evils. I do not believe in negative voting, voting for someone just because you are against someone else and I do not believe in keeping schtum until election time comes around. Democracy doesn't end when the polls close, it begins. Kerry is no Clinton. Clinton's presidency focused on taking people out of poverty and rising them up into the financial middle class. Kerry seems intent on simply preserving the middle class. There is a big difference. I don't believe that Kerry will win this election. I think that by voting for him as their candidate in preference for John Edwards the Democrats have made a bigger mistake than they did in 2000 when they failed to ask for a full recount. A mistake that has haunted Al Gore since. Edwards reminds me of a young LBJ when he says that, "From the time I was very young, I saw the ugly face of segregation and discrimination. I saw young African-American kids sent upstairs in movie theaters. I saw white only signs on restaurant doors and luncheon counters. I feel such an enormous responsibility when it comes to issues of race and equality and civil rights". If it was John Edwards for President, well, maybe that's what Bruce is really trying to say. Bruce asks the most pertinent of questions in his article, "Why is it that the wealthiest nation in the world finds it so hard to keep its promise and faith with its weakest citizens?". Maybe its time The Boss walked into the Oval office, poked The Chief in the chest and asked for a big cheque for those same citizens.
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    16 Aug 2004 11:19 AM
    quote:
    Originally posted by Rev Jules
    I do not believe in the lesser of two evils
    This is a good point but that statement in itself describes the state that American politics is in. It's outdated partizan politics that represents a minority of the American populace that prevails in the States today. The fact that no party really represents America's ethnic minorities is something that I find hard to comprehend, mostly due to the fact that these groups are being largely ignored by presidents/parties once they get into power. I'm still not convinced about musicians getting involved in politics. I know Bono can raise money and the profile of a campaign, but once the glitz and glamour get invovled in the mechanisms of these campaigns the campaign finds it very hard to keep on going under its own steam when a trendier issue comes along. Plus, nothing annoys me more than someone saying all the right things but really knowing nothing about what they are talking about. Anyway, that's a bit off the subject. In my opinion America needs to sort out it's own domestic problems before it starts extending its influence by hook or by crook. This isn't intended as an attack on American citizens. Some of my favourite people are American
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    16 Aug 2004 11:31 AM
    quote:
    Originally posted by El Duderino
    The fact that no party really represents America's ethnic minorities is something that I find hard to comprehend, mostly due to the fact that these groups are being largely ignored by presidents/parties once they get into power.
    Interesting point here. I was recently in Houston to visit friends of mine and one of the points they made was that, whils't they were utterly opposed to Bush as Democrats, they did admire the way that he has promoted Americans of colour (Colin Powell, Condolezza Rice) into very high positions within his administration. I'm not saying this for partisan reasons, just throwing it out for discussion.
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    16 Aug 2004 12:09 PM
    I never really looked at it like that before. I suppose it is admirable that Bush has taken in Colin Powell and Condoleza Rice, however, I still don't think that either the republicans or democrats really represent ethnic minorities. It could be argued that this was a step in the right direction by Bush but, there are still millions of people, largely from African or hispanic etc. descent(not only ethnic minorties are poor, i know) in America living in poverty. But I can't really say that Ireland is much better when it comes to politicians representing the down trodden. During the last election there were no Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, PDs, Greens etc. posters up in less well to do areas. The "nicer" the area the more big party posters you'd see. A very worrying trend if you ask me
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    18 Aug 2004 07:27 AM
    okay, okay, back it up a second... 1) Why is it so hard to believe that Kerry is not simply an ‘old war horse’? That, perhaps, he joined up for war and, having gone and lived it, came out more even-handed, proud of his service to his country, but wary to war-mongers like bush who throw people into battle unjustifiably. By the same token, regardless of whether Kerry is across-the-board anti-war, it IS possible for one to be wholeheartedly against THIS war. And, as we've all said, it's not as though forces can simply pick up and leave, so a commitment to rebuilding and leaving as efficiently as possible is far better an anti-war statement than allowing Bush to continue or than simply not running at all, right? 2) I love Clinton too, always have, but I find the world’s worship of him a little silly. Yes, he understood global responsibility, great man, fiscal genius, and I do wish he could serve another term. But he can’t. So breathe. Sigh. Get over it. That said, ANY democrat’s fiscal policy will be closer to Clinton’s model than Bush’s policies. Bush cut taxes for the wealthiest, he has run mind-blowing deficits, cut funding for schooling when, if you didn’t know, Americans university-level education costs between $2,000-$40,000 (yes forty, not four) PER YEAR before financial aid. He even tried to change the dates of some fiscal quarters to try to make it seem as though some economic benefits generated by Clinton were the work of his administration. (Bush also has one of the worst records on job creation in American history…but now I’m just complaining…) 3) I think that NONE of us are in any position to decide how much Springsteen does or does not know about politics. Is it any more fair to discredit him for being rich that it would be to discredit someone for being poor? 4) A few blunt statements- yes, Kerry’s no Clinton, yes, negative voting is awful, but the reality is that have only two possible options to vote for in November. I’ll be the first to ride idealism when I see enough involvement from Americans that there might be any hope for change. Until then, I’m going to be a realist and vote for whoever’s closest to the mark. 5) To maybe try and bring this all together, i offer this- At the end of the day, i am in support of ANY group which encourages Americans to vote. The thing everyone here seems to agree on is that too few American people wield too much power (whether it's rich over poor, Bush over americans, americans over the world etc). The more Americans come out and vote, the more people are represented in the decision, the better off the country will be. (By the same token it is my belief/hope that the majority of americans are decent people, and that if they were being represented right now with a properly executed 200 election, we would not be in this mess.) SO: Turning things back to the Boss, (and to musicians in general) i think ANY effort to encourage voting is commendable. If groups for change are speaking louder than groups encouraging bush, so be it. All the better.
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    18 Aug 2004 08:18 AM
    Interesting ... I read an article in the Irish Times saying that Bush should have a good election campaign based on his economic performance this year, creating 1 mil jobs from March to May. I found this hard to beleive because the bush administration has been so focued on 'Foreign Affairs' over the last year. Its hard to know to beleive when you read the papers these days so I decided to check out on the internet. Again this could be horse but its interesting anyway...www.musicforamerica.com/node/view/1323
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    18 Aug 2004 10:34 AM
    FROM: http://www.nme.com/news/109529.htm POSTED TODAY "BOYCOTT THE BOSS! BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN’s efforts to run PRESIDENT BUSH from the WHITE HOUSE has seen him incur the wrath of a conservative NEW YORK politician who has launched a ‘BOYCOTT THE BOSS’ television campaign. US senate hopeful Marilyn O’Grady is using the commercial as part of her election campaign. "He thinks making millions with a song-and-dance routine allows him to tell you how to vote," she said in her ad. "Here's my vote: boycott The Boss. If you don't buy his politics, don't buy his music." According to Billboard, O’Grady added: " has a right to say what he thinks, but we have an equal right to speak. Now that he's moved onto the political stage to bash my President, it is entirely fair to respond." Springsteen and REM are leading a host of prominent musicians in a series of anti-Bush fundraising concerts around the US this autumn, ahead of the November presidential elections. The ‘Vote For Change’ shows take in 28 cities in October. The star is also closely tied to Democratic candidate John Kerry’s election push – his ‘No Surrender’ has become the anthem of Kerry campaign."
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    18 Aug 2004 10:42 AM
    this is gonna make great reading in a book that someone will write about all this stuff. Could this create a rift in america between left and right (ignoring far left and far right, they're mostly crazies, yeah?...) i.e. wearing a boss t-shirt marks you out as democrat, wearing a ted "the phucking nuge!" nugent t-shirt (may) mark you out as having bad taste in music AND being a conservative type? phuck blur and oasis, 2pac and Biggie, and whatever norweigan metal has to offer in the line of musicians disputes, this could be serious rivallry about to go down in the USA!!!
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