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Jewish World Review Oct. 29, 2004 / 14 Mar-Cheshvan, 5765

Tom Purcell

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Consumer Reports

The Ghosts of Chicago | Chicago, ILL — Dear Election Commissioner,

I've been in Chicago for two weeks and as both Halloween and the election near, I've noticed some very ghastly things here.

Let me start off by saying that Chicago is a wonderful town. I was surprised by how clean it is for a big town. The people are almost as friendly as Pittsburghers. The food is delicious and the blues music is incredible.

But let's face the facts, sir. Chicago has known its share of election corruption over the years. It was the mob and Mayor Daley's political machine that allegedly manufactured a win for John F. Kennedy during the razor-thin 1960 election.

That brings us to the peculiarities I came across while painting the town last weekend. I saw dead people. That's right, dead people were marching up and down Michigan avenue, stuffing their pockets with voter registrations and absentee ballots. They looked liked extras in a George Romero flick.

I struck up a conversation with one of them. He said he was a member of the AADP (American Association of Dead People) and that if any Republican tried to suppress his voted, the ACLU would be crawling over the suppressor faster than you can say "Jesse Jackson." Then he said Herbert Hoover didn't have a Fiddler's Bitch chance of beating FDR.

In no time, ghosts and goblins of every kind began oozing out of the city's underbelly. I passed an Internet café further up Michigan and saw a group of Internet nerds using their mastery over the web to spread lies about Bush reinstating the draft. They were giddy with their ability to generate votes for Kerry just with a few strokes of their keys.

I wandered further down Michigan and stood in front of a TV store. Several television sets were tuned to different "news" channels. Partisans on both sides of the aisle were yapping for their guy and attacking the other. "Journalists" slammed Bush by relaying "facts" that were nearly as weak as the ones Dan Rather tried passing off a few weeks back. I thought journalists were supposed to report the truth, so that voters could make their own decisions?

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I kept walking up Michigan and stumbled into an upscale wine and cheese party. I listened to "educated" people bashing the president. What I found interesting is that they made a "straw man" out of Bush. Instead of intelligently analyzing the decisions and actions of his administration, they find it more convenient to create some fictional buffoon, then attack it for everything that is wrong in the world. What happened to intelligent conversation and debate, the heart of a successful democracy?

I had to get away and walked over to Wabash Street. The front door of a law office was open, and I could hear the lawyers talking inside. They said it didn't matter if Bush wins. They said they could make all kinds of claims, including that Republicans blocked the polls. They'd be able to cloud the results in several states and tie things up for weeks.

I'd had enough of their noise, so I walked down to the Billy Goat Tavern, the place where old-school journalists used to drink. Columnist Mike Royko was a regular there, and I really wished I could have had a beer with him that night.

Like him or hate him, Royko always called it like he saw it. His purpose was to shed light on the truth, even if the truth hurt. He knew that a great country like ours had its share of corruption, but in the end it was saved time and again by the fairness, the good-heartedness and the logical reasoning of the American people.

But we're not seeing much of that in this election. Sadly, Mike Royko's spirit was the only one I didn't come across all night long. Just thought you should know.


Scared for My Country in Chicago

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© 2004 Tom Purcell