It’s been a spectacular end of summer in the Triangle. We dodged the rampages of hurricane wind and rain that have beset our neighbors to the north, south, east and west. We’ve had a luxurious flirtation with cool days and cooler nights, the coolest ones (for me, anyway) being at the Bull Durham Blues Festival, the city’s archetypal event, with young, old, black, white, Durhamite and visitor relaxing in lawn chairs and dancing side-by-side in the old DAP. A resplendent Solomon Burke blessed and caressed the crowd, and Isaac Hayes brought his unrepentant ’70s cool–and the thrill of hearing him told, “Shut cho mouth.” But driving through Chapel Hill with the top down, the first few scarlet leaves drifting in, the realization struck hard: It’s almost fall, and this election is less than 50 days away. We’ve seen a brutal Republican juggernaut lay waste to any sense of campaign decency that remained after the ugly, opening salvos fired years ago by Jesse Helms and the tricksters and handlers of the Nixon, Reagan and Bush I regimes. The Bush-Cheney-Rove machine of lies (Swift Boat Veterans, terror alerts, and now the absurd debate about Selectric typewriters) has somehow succeeded in creating doubts about John Kerry that have absolutely nothing to do with his ability or what he stands for. No, Kerry’s campaign hasn’t found the kind of footing it needs, but it’s more than his campaign ineptitude that has put the winner of a Silver Star on trial while Bush’s well-connected draft dodge and dropout as a National Guardsman gets short shrift.

It’s hard to know where to start with the case against George W. Bush: The dismissal of terrorism before 9/11 and failure to effectively fight it since; the deception that brought us to war and the cost in lives and money of failing to prepare for the aftermath; tax cuts for the rich creating astounding deficits for our children to pay; the sell-out of the public interest to corporate ones in the environment, health, media and more; the assault on civil liberties and gay and women’s rights; the alienation of the rest of the world; and, most eerie, the religious aspect behind it all.

It’s time to get to work, full-time, non-stop. Call the Democratic Party (821-2777) or go to and see what you can do to help. If you’re still not motivated, go see the documentary Unprecedented, which the Independent is sponsoring next week across the Triangle, about the steps taken to manipulate the Florida vote.

Enjoy these days. But make the most of them.