The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Blackboxvoting.org and Ralph Nader's Recount Campaign

Blackboxvoting.org is investigating election fraud in the recent election. You can find out more and lend your support here:
http://www.blackboxvoting.org.

Mark Adams sent this today:

This link shows the graphs with exit poll results and actual results where paper ballots and or electronic machines were used. http://www.therandirhodesshow.com/todays_show.html

It think is smells very bad. Read Thom Hartans "Ultimate Felony" article below to shed more light and perspective. ---- Mark Adams


Send a fax to Ralph Nader.
Demand A Recount Now

Send a Fax Now to: 202-265-0092
Text should Read:

RALPH --

Challenge the election results in New Hampshire, Now.

[your signature]
Your Name,
Black Box Voting Activist

An Alternative Concession Speech

This is by Adam Felber http://www.felbers.net/mt/archives/000945.html and was submitted by Mark Adams

[Former candidate Felber, flanked by his family and supporters, steps up to the podium in the bright autumn sunlight. Cheers and applause are heard.]

My fellow Americans, the people of this nation have spoken, and spoken with a clear voice. So I am here to offer my concession. [Boos, groans, rending of garments] I concede that I overestimated the intelligence of the American people. Though the people disagree with the President on almost every issue, you saw fit to vote for him. I never saw that coming. That's really special. And I mean "special" in the sense that we use it to describe those kids who ride the short school bus and find ways to injure themselves while eating pudding with rubber spoons. That kind of special.

I concede that I misjudged the power of hate. That's pretty powerful stuff, and I didn't see it. So let me take a moment to congratulate the President's strategists: Putting the gay marriage amendments on the ballot in various swing states like Ohio... well, that was just genius. Genius. It got people, a certain kind of people, to the polls. The unprecedented number of folks who showed up and cited "moral values" as their biggest issue, those people changed history. The folks who consider same sex marriage a more important issue than war, or terrorism, or the economy... Who'd have thought the election would belong to them? Well, Karl Rove did. Gotta give it up to him for that. [Boos.]

Now, now. Credit where it's due. I concede that I put too much faith in America's youth. With 8 out of 10 of you opposing the President, with your friends and classmates dying daily in a war you disapprove of, with your future being mortgaged to pay for rich old peoples' tax breaks, you somehow managed to sit on your asses and watch the Cartoon Network while aging homophobic hillbillies carried the day. You voted with the exact same anemic percentage that you did in 2000. You suck. Seriously, y'do. [Cheers, applause] Thank you. Thank you very much.

There are some who would say that I sound bitter, that now is the time for healing, to bring the nation together. Let me tell you a little story. Last night, I watched the returns come in with some friends here in Los Angeles. As the night progressed, people began to talk half-seriously about secession, a red state / blue state split. The reasoning was this: We in blue states produce the vast majority of the wealth in this country and pay the most taxes, and you in the red states receive the majority of the money from those taxes while complaining about 'em. We in the blue states are the only ones who've been attacked by foreign terrorists, yet you in the red states are gung ho to fight a war in our name. We in the blue states produce the entertainment that you consume so greedily each day, while you in the red states show open disdain for us and our values. Blue state civilians are the actual victims and targets of the war on terror, while red state civilians are the ones standing behind us and yelling "Oh, yeah!? Bring it on!" More than 40% of you Bush voters still believe that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11. I'm impressed by that, truly I am. Your sons and daughters who might die in this war know it's not true, the people in the urban centers where al Qaeda wants to attack know it's not true, but those of you who are at practically no risk believe this easy lie because you can. As part of my concession speech, let me say that I really envy that luxury. I concede that.

Healing? We, the people at risk from terrorists, the people who subsidize you, the people who speak in glowing and respectful terms about the heartland of America while that heartland insults and excoriates us... we wanted some healing. We spoke loud and clear. And you refused to give it to us, largely because of your high moral values. You knew better: America doesn't need its allies, doesn't need to share the burden, doesn't need to unite the world, doesn't need to provide for its future. Hell no. Not when it's got a human shield of pointy-headed, atheistic, unconfrontational breadwinners who are willing to pay the bills and play nice in the vain hope of winning a vote that we can never have. Because we're "morally inferior," I suppose, we are supposed to respect your values while you insult ours. And the big joke here is that for 20 years, we've done just that. It's not a "ha-ha" funny joke, I realize, but it's a joke all the same.

Being an independent candidate gives me one luxury - as well as conceding the election today, I am also announcing my candidacy for President in 2008. [Wild applause, screams, chants of "Fel-ber! Fel-ber!] Thank you. And I make this pledge to you today: THIS time, next time, there will be no pandering. This time I will run with all the open and joking contempt for my opponents that our President demonstrated towards the cradle of liberty, the Ivy League intellectuals, the "media elite," and the "white-wine sippers." This time I will not pretend that the simple folk of America know just as much as the people who devote their lives to serving and studying the nation and the world. They don't. So that's why I'm asking for your vote in 2008, America. I'm talking to you, you ignorant, slack-jawed yokels, you bible-thumping, inbred drones, you redneck, racist, chest-thumping, perennially duped grade-school grads.

Vote for me, because I know better, and I truly believe that I can help your smug, sorry asses. Vote Felber in '08! Thank you, and may God, if he does in fact exist, bless each and every one of you. [Tumultuous cheers, applause, and foot-stomping. PULL BACK to reveal the rest of the stage, the row of cameras, hundreds of unoccupied chairs, and the empty field beyond.]

Telling The Blue-State Bush Voters What It's Like

The following is a reposting of parts of an exchange I've taken part in on the message board of the world's greatest internet radio station www.wfmu.org. The discussion began when several Blue State Libertarian Bush voters taunted Kerry supporters. I'll pick it up with my comments and another long comment from a fellow "heartland" Kerry supporter.


I wrote:

One thing I want to say to all my blue state libertarian-Republican brothers and sister: Bush's victory looks a whole lot different when you are living in the middle of red state America. When you see the kind of world that Bush's Evangelicals actually want to force on the rest of the country, when you live with it every day, you can't take for granted all the bounties that liberal, tolerant, cosmopolitan "moonbat" culture provides for you. You don't have to fight for it. Where I live, you do.

Many of my students in southwest Missouri generally assume that every "normal" person is a conservative, evangelical Christian, that the founding fathers were conservative Christians who saw the US as a Christian nation, that books which take the Lord's name in vain are "inappropriate" even in state college English classes (bye-bye Hemingway!), that evolution is "just one controversial theory" rather than the backbone of the life sciences, that Iraq attacked us on 911 and deserves whatever it gets as payback, that doctors who perform abortions should be subject to the death penalty, etc. etc. [by the way, these folks are just as likely to cheat on exams, get pregnant out of wedlock, drive drunk, and divorce as any other college students] Some of you guys seem to think that this is all a myth dreamed up by Amy Goodman and Mother Jones magazine.

It's not. It's real; it's growing; and it's eventually going to curtail some of the freedoms you guys now take for granted. This is what I think every time I hear Colin Quinn or Dennis Miller continue to flog liberals from deep within the safety of liberal bastions. Such bad boys! Try living here amongst your base some time.

A poster named "phat-ass" responded:

I would have to concur with Fatherflot. I live in Nebraska and he paints a very clear picture of what it's like in the Red Zone. Dave caught a very small part of the experience in Omaha. The downtown is quite active in a lot of ways. But to say that Omaha has some sort of liberal press is deluded. The Omaha World-Herald endorsed the most conservative congressional candidate I have seen nominated in my lifetime as did the Lincoln Journal-Star. They did not endorse the Democrat, who was not some socialistic, collectivist whacko. He is a decent hard-working man from a family of farmers who wants to do what he can to keep farms in the hands of families. The backbone of the economy in this part of the country is farming. The Republicans have spent years claiming they support the family values of family farms. All the while they have done what they can to create a system of corporate welfare that has decimated the family farm. Consequently family farms are disappearing at a hellish rate of speed and companies like Con-Agra reap all the benefits. Farmers have little money and are lucky to have insurance and in order to compete they are forced to sell out or take a handout. Then what happens when they sell out? Can they find a well paying job? Of course not. There aren't that many to go around. At the same time the Republican leadership claims that any state or city investment into modern infrastructure is socialistic. Companies refuse to come here with their jobs because of this. We lose talented young people, who are educated at the state universities because there are no jobs and because the environment is not conducive to the lives they so rightfully want to pursue. I think Fatherflot's point should be taken very seriously in places outside of the Red Zone. It's very easy to heap insults upon those so-called collectivists when you live safely in a place that isn't being held hostage by corporatists that will glibly complain about welfare moms and then take a handout from the government to "create jobs." They don't, of course, create jobs. They close down Goodyear plants and ship the jobs to Mexico. Not because they can't afford the wages. No, they give themselves raises. They take advantage of droughts and buy up properties from families that have held the land for 5-6 generations. The government will give Florida record amounts of money to help them with the aftermath of the hurricanes. But a drought is not a "natural disaster". It's easy to see how they can make this calculation. The education system here is crumbling as the "baby gets drowned" by the Grover Norquists of the world. The infrastructure falls apart. The wages fall. We have an incredibly low unemployment rate here in the heartland. The cost of living is low, supposedly. But we have the largest rates of people with two or more jobs as the wages are depressed. How can any of this make sense? You would think that people would be pissed off. Well they are. They are pissed off at all the elitist, baby-killing, gay-loving swine on the East Coast. The culture wars that you may not see very closely because you live in a nice open place are being fought on the street of towns like Fremont, Nebraska and Wichita, Kansas. And if things continue the way they are going these battles will spread to the rest of the country. If you hold dear the idea of a right to privacy or a woman's right to choose it's important to realise that that the people who got Bush elected do not. And they are going to to expect some payback. You may not meet them very often on the streets of New York or New Jersey but they are here and they are legion. Bush has successfully mastered the techniques of using wedge issues to get elected and it's nice to think that he won't really go so far as to push those parts of his agenda. We will see when his Supreme Court nominees vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

[later, this same writer posted more]

Brooks has some salient points concerning the insularity of the Democratic party. And living in Nebraska I've seen what that can do to people. Selling "Buck Fush," bumper stickers is not going to help the cause here in the heartland.But I can't say the Democrats are the only ones with this problem. Running around calling people commie-pinko ain't going to help things much either.

And that may be funny to some on the east coast who can say it with a bit of a wink. Out here it's no joke. We recently had a county commissioner call our very reasonable and not particularly radicalized planning commission "socialistic." He meant it. And people's heads could get cracked open around here over such labels.

The question about "moral values" is a poorly worded question until you realize that it is code. Think of it this way. George Bush claims to have a deep and abiding faith in his Lord Jesus Christ the Savior. His claim is backed up by his position on abortion, and gay rights and a slew of other things. Well, then, he must be a moral person. His economic decisions must be moral. His military decisions must be moral, etc. The Republican party has done a bang-up job in setting this up. With a set up like this a devout Catholic man who has spent his adult life in public service and farming can be painted with the "immoral" tag just because he happens to want to protect family farms and is a Democrat because he is convinced--and he has a good argument that it's true--that the Democratic party has a history of standing up for family farms. I'm talking about Matt Connealy, who ran for Congress in Nebraska and was beaten by a man who barely said anything aside from the words, "family values." Connealy's opponent will not be doing a whole hell of a lot for family farms. He'll talk the talk. But he'll walk right over to Con-agra's headquarters in downtown Omaha and promise them the world.

It's all well and good to call the Democrats effete, elitist, east-coast swine. But think about who's lives are being effected by the other elitist swine in this world. David Brooks can go on and on about how he has travelled this country all he wants. But I would love to see him spend an hour on a line at a meat-packing plant in a small town in Nebraska. A lot of people around here do not have the time or the ability to look at a candidate beyond just a few easily understood issues. We work long hours and get paid very little. Karl Rove sees that and is able to get people to vote for his man because of "moral values."

Economic booms don't happen in these parts of the country for various reasons. Nebraska has never experienced any time of great wealth and prosperity. We have grown accustomed to it. We take what we can get and it makes sense to not vote our pocketbook since our pocketbooks have never been overflowing. The Washington elites know this and take advantage of it. What's the morality in that?

Lawrence Britt - The 14 Characteristics of Fascism

The 14 Characteristics of Fascism
by Lawrence Britt
Free Inquiry Magazine, Spring 2003

www.globalresearch.ca 7 November 2004

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/BRI411A.html
Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt recently wrote an article about fascism ("Fascism Anyone?," Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20).

Studying the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile), Dr. Britt found they all had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism. The excerpt is in accordance with the magazine's policy.

The 14 characteristics are:

Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottoes, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

Rampant Sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

Religion and Government are Intertwined
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .

Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

Fraudulent Elections
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

hello: you are now living in a fascist empire

Hello: You Are Now Living In A Fascist Empire
Empire: A political unit having an extensive territory or comprising a number of territories or nations and ruled by a single supreme authority. Imperial or imperialistic sovereignty, domination, or control. (http://www.dictionary.com)by Carolyn Baker 11/05/04 "ICH" -- I struggled for some time with the title of this article. I might also have called it “Way Worse Than ‘I Told You So’” after having written for months, even years, that the charade we have just witnessed, called an election, would be a repeat performance of the coup d'etat of 2000. Was this election stolen? Unquestionably. The list of likely illegal acts in this election is no less than mindnumbing. But if you wish to read them, they can be found at: http://www.accuracy.org/new.htmSome months ago, I wrote an article entitled “Why I Will Not Vote in 2004” and incurred the wrath of those folks who were hellbent on voting for the “lesser evil.” They could not grasp my position because their paradigm would not allow them to do so. Their paradigm goes something like this: We are still living in a democracy, although we are about to lose it, and we will lose it if G.W. Bush gets elected. So even though John Kerry is an imperialist, corporate lap dog-suck-up, we can “elect him and then fight him.” Never mind that Kerry IS the ruling elite and is the embodiment of the neoliberal establishment which seeks kinder, gentler world domination and social legislation domestically that dutifully buttresses the agenda of corporate capitalism while pretending to “regulate” it. These individuals are in this moment nursing their broken hearts that Kerry lost but grasping at whatever straws of hope they might find for 2008. What they also don’t get is that there isn’t going to BE a 2008—well yes, there will be a 2008, but it is highly unlikely that it will include a Presidential election, and if it does, it won’t be a clean, fair, equitable, democratic one.What few people in America understand, despite the astute observations of millions of individuals around the world, is that we are living in an empire, and we are no longer living in a democracy. Every last semblance of democracy in our nation that, in our desperate denial, we leave our claw marks on, is evaporating with each tick of the clock.. America’s allies and enemies internationally are calling like it is: Within four years, the so-called democratic republic of the United States will be unrecognizable. Without question, we can expect the destruction of Roe v. Wade, the packing of the Supreme Court with Christian fascist maniacs, the invasion of Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Colombia, to name a few. Even more horrifying is the likelihood that one of the cavalier, oil-sucking exploits will end up in a nuclear exchange. We can count on a ghastly tanking of the U.S. economy and a government policy of privatization (piratization?) on steroids. Endless versions of and addendums to the Patriot Act will become the law of the land, and another terrorist attack, deliberately planned, orchestrated and financed by persons in the U.S. government and the energy and financial sectors will almost certainly occur. It will undoubtedly catapult the nation into Code Red and martial law. The folks who could not grasp the futility of voting for a corporate candidate or a third-party candidate who cannot possibly win have not allowed themselves to comprehend that the Machiavelli-worshipping neoconservatives of the Bush Crime Family WILL NEVER, I said, WILL NEVER, turn over this government willingly—not in 2004, not in 2008, not EVER. They proudly proclaim that they have no problem with doing WHATEVER is required to remain in power. That includes rigging elections, assassinations, book-cooking, and above all, carefully crafting their personal propaganda machine, the American corporate media.When an old paradigm no longer serves its adherents, serving the paradigm becomes absurdly self-destructive. Already, liberal democrats are delusionally thinking about the election they naively assume will happen in 2008, determined to resuscitate the decrepit, dying paradigm which fantacizes that some Hillary or some Obama will save us. When people understand the term, “fascist empire,” and when they fully grasp that they are living in one, they will no longer waste precious physical, mental, or spiritual energy applying the bandaids of defunct democracy to the cancer of world domination and domestic devourment.On September 11, 2001, all the rules and paradigms of our post-Cold War world were incinerated in the ashes of Ground Zero. For the past three years, 9-11 researchers (not the ones that produce substandard fiction like the 9-11 Commission Report) have gathered enough evidence to convict and imprison for life as war criminals the perpetrators many times over. Hint: The perpetrators were not Islamic terrorists, although Islamic terrorists were used as intelligence assets by the United States government to commit the atrocities. When we understand the motive, means, and opportunity (the three factors all criminal investigators examine first, but which the Kean Commission couldn’t be bothered with) of September 11, we will understand unequivocally that we no longer live in a democratic republic, but rather a burgeoning fascist empire. All of this exhaustive research can be examined at: www.globalresearch.ca and www.septembereleventh.org . If the thought of exploring this issue further immediately causes you to feel overwhelmed and longing to find the nearest sofa on which to curl up and take a nap, be aware that that is exactly what the perpetrators are counting on. However, until we get to the bottom of exactly what happened on September 11, 2001, who perpetrated the crimes, for what reason, who benefited and how, we have no chance of defeating the empire.As citizens living in the belly of the beast, we must not only think about how to defeat the empire, but also how to merely survive living within it. In order to do so, one must understand the concept of Peak Oil—one of the principal reasons for the 9-11 attacks. Peak Oil is simply that moment in time when global oil and natural gas begin an irreversible and permanent decline which cannot be thwarted no matter how much money, effort, or alternative forms of energy are spent trying to change it. Although Peak Oil is something we will only know with certainty when we see it in the rear view mirror of history, we are clearly, dangerously in the throes of it at this moment. For the latest research on Peak Oil, see: www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net and the website of geologist, Dale Allen Pfieffer at http://home.earthlink.net/~annallen0416/energydepletion.html .Both corporate candidates of 2004 have been aware of the realities of Peak Oil, but had they to come clean with the American people, they would have risked putting the markets and the citizenry in chaos, not to mention decreasing the value of their own oil stocks. Peak Oil is a global energy crisis of a magnitude previously unknown to the human race and will cause food prices to skyrocket and the American way of life as we know it to disappear. It means the end of sustainability and growth on planet earth. No candidate who seriously aspires to receiving votes can even think about discussing this issue. Some uninformed individuals erroneously insist that Peak Oil is a scam perpetrated by oil companies and vehemently attack those of us who take it seriously. In response to them, I would offer a paraphrase from Dale Allen Pfieffer: Peak Oil does not need to be defended; it will defend itself quite effectively within the next decade. For comprehensive research on the 9-11 attacks and their connection with Peak Oil, all citizens who wish to be thoroughly informed should attentively read CROSSING THE RUBICON: The Decline Of The American Empire At The End Of The Age Of Oil, by Mike Ruppert.So what solutions do I propose?First, we must willing to face the reality that we do, in fact, live in an empire and that that empire is plummeting headlong into unrestrained fascism. This means the death of our relentless fantasies that we still live in a democracy or that the old paradigm based “electing the right candidate” can serve us. We have had three corrupt elections in America in the past four years. Continuing to believe that we will have a clean one in 2008 is tantamount to insisting that the earth is flat.
Secondly, we can join with millions—yes millions, of Americans who will not swallow the foul, fairytale version of what happened on September 11, 2001. Rather than obsessing over who might be the “right” candidate to “save” us, we can choose to work in a grassroots movement with victims’ families and other truth-demanding citizens for a totally transparent investigation of that watershed moment in time which the empire will continue to use to justify its devourment of other nations and its own citizens. I believe that a grassroots movement of 9-11 truth-tellers has the potential for total transformation of the political landscape of the United States, and I personally will settle for nothing less than that level of social and political renovation.
In addition, it behooves us to begin to massively conserve energy on an unprecedented scale and learn how to grow our own food, as well as learn techniques of emergency and non-traditional health care. (See The Party’s Over, and Power Down, by Richard Heinberg) Finally, we must wake up and smell the fascism and the futility of its rigged elections. More than ever, after witnessing yet another coup d’ etat on November 2, 2004, I celebrate W.E.B. Dubois’ assessment that “the two parties have combined against us to nullify our power by a 'gentlemen's agreement' of non-recognition, no matter how we vote...May God write us down as asses if ever again we are found putting our trust in either Republican or the Democratic parties." Carolyn Baker is a professor of U.S. history and can be contacted at cbaker@nmsu.edu

Welcome New "Team Members"!

If you have officially joined this site, it means you are a "team member" and can post new material as well as comment on existing stuff.

To post, you need to click on the "Blogger" logo in the upper-left-hand corner and choose "create"

If you are having any problems, contact me at martinek-j@mssu.edu and I will try to help. You can also just e-mail me the material you'd like to see posted and I'll put it up.

As the administrator, I can remove or edit posts or change the status of members, so if you see something that's problematic contact me.

I look forward to what will unfold on The Commons.

Happy blogging!
Jeff

Who's talking to you?

If God is talking to you and the result is a burned or crushed child, it’s not God you’re hearing. If you find yourself taking revenge in your head on everyone who ever insulted you, however slightly, you are not one of God’s messengers. If the substance of the information you get from your God is that he requires you to kill in his name, the information is garbage. If your word from God recommends punishing the innocent in any way, for any reason, your God is not God at all but your own mind's sump of resentment, greed and the dream of power. Is this hard for us to grasp? If the man on the screen, or at the podium, is telling us that other human beings have to be killed or tortured to make our God happy, he’s lying. If the woman says that we need to make others, on pain of death, renounce their God and accept ours, the woman is evil.
MAMBO

When Fascism Comes to America

Maureen Farrell: When Fascism Comes to America,
Buzz Flash, September 21, 2004"

In 1944, Henry A. Wallace, one of three Vice Presidents to serve under Franklin D. Roosevelt, assessed the threat of fascism in America and predicted that the time might come when the media was in collusion with the ruling power. "American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information. . . ," he wrote. Decades later, during the first Gulf War, the media dutifully regurgitated propaganda while those in power did, in fact, "use the news to deceive the public."

But the public remained so fully gullible that by the time the Bush Cartel's "Operation Iraqi Freedom" hit TV screens, the "deliberate poisoners of public information" didn't even have to break a sweat to fool us twice. And although those who relied on FOX News were found to be the most misinformed, it wasn't until a series of FOX e-mails was leaked to the press that anyone grasped how "purposeful" the intent to mold opinion actually was." (9/23)

David Neiwert:
The Rise of Pseudo Fascism, Part 1:

The Morphing of the Conservative Movement, Orcinus, September 19, 2004 (Search "Rise of Pseudo")"What's become clear as this election year has progressed -- and especially in the wake of the Republican National Convention -- is the actual shape of this fresh beast. Call it Pseudo Fascism. Or, if you like, Fascism Lite. Happy-Face Fascism. Postmodern Fascism. But there is little doubt anymore why the shape of the 'conservative movement' in the 21st century is so familiar and disturbing: Its architecture, its entire structure, has morphed into a not-so-faint hologram of 20th-century fascism. It is not genuine fascism, even though it bears many of the basic traits of that movement....Even in the areas where it resembles real fascism, the similarities are often more familial than exact. It is, in essence, less virulent and less violent, and thus more likely to gain broad acceptance within a longtime stable democratic system like that of the United States." (See also Atrios' "The Greatest Generation is Anti-American" ). (9/23)

Maureen Farrell: Can it happen here?,
Buzz Flash, September 14, 2004

"In 1935, Sinclair Lewis penned the cautionary tale, It Can't Happen Here, chronicling the fictional rise of Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, who becomes President against the protests of Franklin D. Roosevelt and America's saner citizens. A charismatic Senator who claims to champion the common man, Windrip is in the pocket of big business (i.e. Corpos), is favored by religious extremists, and though he talks of freedom and prosperity for all, he eventually becomes the ultimate crony capitalist. Boosted by Hearst newspapers (the FOX News of its day), he neuters both Congress and the Supreme Court, before stripping people of their liberties and installing a fascist dictatorship. One might argue, of course, that since It Can't Happen Here was written nearly seven decades ago and America has yet to succumb to fascism, the book is the product of a novelist's runaway imagination, with an interesting yet less than probable theme. But then again, the same might have been said of George Orwell's 1984, before most realized that the book is brilliantly prescient -- and merely off by a couple decades. Like 1984's warnings about perpetual war, doublespeak and Big Brother, It Can't Happen Here describes conditions for totalitarianism that exist to this day." (9/16)

Chris Floyd: Night and fog: Disturbing resonances between regime and reich,
The Moscow Times, September 10, 2004

"You think it's not true, you think it's not coming, you think "it can't happen here." But it can, and it is, right before your eyes. George Bush's United States is clearly in a proto-fascist condition. Of course, there's no such thing as direct equivalence between historical events. The same dangers never come around again -- not in the same form nor with precisely identical content. At every point in time, a new set of elements and circumstances coalesce to create the unique reality of that particular historical moment. But if you take the general definition of fascism provided by its founder, Benito Mussolini -- "the merger of corporate and state power" -- and apply it to the elements that are coalescing in America at this historical moment, you could hardly find a more apt description of the Bush Regime. Couple that with the Bushists' radical transformation of party politics into a quasi-religious cult of militarism and leader worship, and you have not an equivalence but certainly an ever-deepening resonance with the malevolent spirit that swept Germany and Italy during the first half of the 20th century." (9/13)

Dan Eggen: U.S. Lawyers Say Secret Court Could Hear Patriot Act Challenges, Boston Globe, September 5, 2004

"The Justice Department has argued in a recent court case that librarians, booksellers, and other businesses can easily challenge a controversial provision of the USA Patriot Act by appealing to a super-secret court that approves surveillance of terrorists and foreign intelligence agents. The only problem, according to a document released last week, is that the same court does not allow anyone but government attorneys and agents inside its doors. The rules governing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court also do not include procedures for outside litigants to file memorandums or otherwise influence a case, according to a copy of the rules obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union." (9/13)

Rep. Ron Paul: Police state USA, Antiwar.com, August 11, 2004"

Last week's announcement that the terrorist threat warning level has been raised in parts of New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., has led to dramatic and unprecedented restrictions on the movements of citizens. Americans wishing to visit the U.S. Capitol must, for example, pass through several checkpoints and submit to police inspection of their cars and persons... Freedom is not defined by safety. Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference. Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place. Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens' lives." (8/12)

Larry Kearney: Ugly, Buzz Flash,
October 5, 2004

"If God is talking to you and the result is a burned or crushed child, it's not God you're hearing. If you find yourself taking revenge in your head on everyone who ever insulted you, however slightly, you are not one of God's messengers. If the substance of the information you get from your God is that he requires you to kill in his name, the information is garbage. If your word from God recommends punishing the innocent in any way, for any reason, your God is not God at all but your own mind's sump of resentment, greed and the dream of power. Is this hard for us to grasp? If the man on the screen, or at the podium, is telling us that other human beings have to be killed or tortured to make our God happy, he's lying. If the woman says that we need to make others, on pain of death, renounce their God and accept ours, the woman is evil." (10/7)

Richard Risemberg: The appeal of fascism, Asia Times,
October 18, 2004

"Let us not put too fine a point upon it: we are in danger of reverting to fascism. Fascism is a disease endemic in our species, a periodic fever whose tremors induce a psychosocial orgasm in its sufferers, tantalizing them with physical delusions of both security and power. Far more than its structural and functional ramifications - well illustrated by Benito Mussolini's definition of fascism as "the melding of state and corporate power" and George Orwell's fictional synopsis of a tech-enabled fascist state in Nineteen Eighty-Four - it is fascism's capacity to make a nuanced oppression seem both nurturing and empowering that makes it so dangerous. It is this nuance of fascism - more than the Big Lie techniques and the brute force fascists also employ - that makes the Bush/Cheney administration and its police and propaganda mechanisms a true threat to humanity in general and to the United States - formerly respected as an icon of liberty." (10/21)

Steven J. Ross: 21st Century Book-Burning, Los Angeles Times,
October 13, 2004

"One of the marks of authoritarian regimes is their effort to stop the spread of knowledge and free speech. In May 1933, Nazi sympathizers in Berlin burned 20,000 'degenerate' books, many of them written by Jews and anti-fascists such as Albert Einstein, Bertolt Brecht and Franz Kafka. Here at home, slaveholders were so frightened by the power of the word that throughout the antebellum South legislatures made it a crime to teach slaves to read and write. Now, Lynne Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney's wife and the former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, has placed herself in the company of dictators and slaveholders. At her urging, the Education Department destroyed more than 300,000 copies of a booklet designed to help parents and children learn more about America's past.Cheney objected to the booklet's reference to the National Standards for History, guidelines for teaching history in secondary schools that were developed at UCLA in the 1990s and that suggest that American history should be taught with an eye not only to America's successes but to its struggles and dark moments as well." (10/18)

Mike Whitney: Red alert means martial law,
The Smirking Chimp, October 5, 2004

"The primary function of the "color-coded" alert system is to prepare the nation for martial law. Whether the threat level will be raised to red is unknown, but the system that has been put in place is designed to activate those conditions. When the system was first announced it was greeted with widespread derision. Criticism came from all corners including political pundits and the media. Since then, however, the Dept of Homeland Security has issued five "orange alerts" (just below the highest "red" alert) at least two of which were fabricated. . . . The colored alerts are implemented as a form of psychological warfare to acclimate the public to the idea of seeing military personnel deployed to their city streets. Cultivating fear is not an overnight project. It requires a policy of gradual saturation; of surprise announcements and increasing threat levels. The ultimate objective is to create a compliant public who will submit to the radical agenda of their leaders. The survival of the current administration depends entirely on this cynical assessment of human psychology." (10/7)

Hummers on the highways also adds to the military atmosphere becoming acceptable. Mark Adams

Thom Hartmann - The Ultimate Felony Against Democracy

Published on Thursday, November 4, 2004
by CommonDreams.org

The Ultimate Felony Against Democracy

by Thom Hartmann

The hot story in the Blogosphere is that the "erroneous" exit polls that showed Kerry carrying Florida and Ohio (among other states) weren't erroneous at all - it was the numbers produced by paperless voting machines that were wrong, and Kerry actually won. As more and more analysis is done of what may (or may not) be the most massive election fraud in the history of the world, however, it's critical that we keep the largest issue at the forefront at all time: Why are We The People allowing private, for-profit corporations, answerable only to their officers and boards of directors, and loyal only to agendas and politicians that will enhance their profitability, to handle our votes?Maybe Florida went for Kerry, maybe for Bush. Over time - and through the efforts of some very motivated investigative reporters - we may well find out (Bev Harris of www.blackboxvoting.org just filed what may be the largest Freedom of Information Act [FOIA} filing in history), and bloggers and investigative reporters are discovering an odd discrepancy in exit polls being largely accurate in paper-ballot states and oddly inaccurate in touch-screen electronic voting states Even raw voter analyses are showing extreme oddities in touch-screen-run Florida, and eagle-eyed bloggers are finding that news organizations are retroactively altering their exit polls to coincide with what the machines ultimately said.

But in all the discussion about voting machines, let's never forget the concept of the commons, because this usurpation is the ultimate felony committed by conservatives this year.At the founding of this nation, we decided that there were important places to invest our tax (then tariff) dollars, and those were the things that had to do with the overall "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" of all of us. Over time, these commons - in which we all make tax investments and for which we all hold ultimate responsibility - have come to include our police and fire services; our military and defense; our roads and skyways; our air, waters and national parks; and the safety of our food and drugs.But the most important of all the commons in which we've invested our hard-earned tax dollars is our government itself. It's owned by us, run by us (through our elected representatives), answerable to us, and most directly responsible for stewardship of our commons.And the commons through which we regulate the commons of our government is our vote.About two years ago, I wrote a story for these pages, "If You Want To Win An Election, Just Control The Voting Machines," that exposed how Senator Chuck Hagel had, before stepping down and running for the U.S. Senate in Nebraska, been the head of the voting machine company (now ES&S) that had just computerized Nebraska's vote. The Washington Post (1/13/1997) said Hagel's "Senate victory against an incumbent Democratic governor was the major Republican upset in the November election." According to Bev Harris, Hagel won virtually every demographic group, including many largely black communities that had never before voted Republican. Hagel was the first Republican in 24 years to win a Senate seat in Nebraska, nearly all on unauditable machines he had just sold the state. And in all probability, Hagel will run for President in 2008.

In another, later article I wrote at the request of MoveOn.org and which they mailed to their millions of members, I noted that in Georgia - another state that went all-electronic - "USA Today reported on Nov. 3, 2002, 'In Georgia, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll shows Democratic Sen. Max Cleland with a 49%-to-44% lead over Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss. 'Cox News Service, based in Atlanta, reported just after the election (Nov. 7) that, "Pollsters may have goofed" because 'Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Max Cleland by a margin of 53 to 46 percent. The Hotline, a political news service, recalled a series of polls Wednesday showing that Chambliss had been ahead in none of them.'" Nearly every vote in the state was on an electronic machine with no audit trail.

In the years since those first articles appeared, Bev Harris has published her book on the subject ("Black Box Voting"), including the revelation of her finding the notorious "Rob Georgia" folder on Diebold's FTP site just after Cleland's loss there; Lynn Landes has done some groundbreaking research, particularly her new investigation of the Associated Press, as have Rebecca Mercuri and David Dill. There's a new video out on the topic, Votergate, available at www.votergate.tv.Congressman Rush Holt introduced a bill into Congress requiring a voter-verified paper ballot be produced by all electronic voting machines, and it's been co-sponsored by a majority of the members of the House of Representatives. The two-year battle fought by Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay to keep it from coming to a vote, thus insuring that there will be no possible audit of the votes of about a third of the 2004 electorate, has fueled the flames of conspiracy theorists convinced Republican ideologues - now known to be willing to lie in television advertising - would extend their "ends justifies the means" morality to stealing the vote "for the better good of the country" they think single-party Republican rule will bring.

Most important, though, the rallying cry of the emerging "honest vote" movement must become: Get Corporations Out Of Our Vote!Why have we let corporations into our polling places, locations so sacred to democracy that in many states even international election monitors and reporters are banned? Why are we allowing corporations to exclusively handle our vote, in a secret and totally invisible way? Particularly a private corporation founded, in one case, by a family that believes the Bible should replace the Constitution; in another case run by one of Ohio's top Republicans; and in another case partly owned by Saudi investors?Of all the violations of the commons - all of the crimes against We The People and against democracy in our great and historic republic - this is the greatest. Our vote is too important to outsource to private corporations.It's time that the USA - like most of the rest of the world - returns to paper ballots, counted by hand by civil servants (our employees) under the watchful eye of the party faithful. Even if it takes two weeks to count the vote, and we have to just go, until then, with the exit polls of the news agencies. It worked just fine for nearly 200 years in the USA, and it can work again.

When I lived in Germany, they took the vote the same way most of the world does - people fill in hand-marked ballots, which are hand-counted by civil servants taking a week off from their regular jobs, watched over by volunteer representatives of the political parties. It's totally clean, and easily audited. And even though it takes a week or more to count the vote (and costs nothing more than a bit of overtime pay for civil servants), the German people know the election results the night the polls close because the news media's exit polls, for two generations, have never been more than a tenth of a percent off.We could have saved billions that have instead been handed over to ES&S, Diebold, and other private corporations.Or, if we must have machines, let's have them owned by local governments, maintained and programmed by civil servants answerable to We The People, using open-source code and disconnected from modems, that produce a voter-verified printed ballot, with all results published on a precinct-by-precinct basis.As Thomas Paine wrote at this nation's founding, "The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which all other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery."Only when We The People reclaim the commons of our vote can we again be confident in the integrity of our electoral process in the world's oldest and most powerful democratic republic.

Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show. www.thomhartmann .com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People: A Call To Take Back America," and "What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return To Democracy."

Friday, November 05, 2004

Janet Sullivan - Forget the "heartland"

from Salon.com

Forget the "heartland"

A Kerry volunteer says Dems aren't latte-drinking snobs -- and they don't need to "reach out" to red state reactionaries.

By Janet Sullivan

Nov. 4, 2004 I have never been more ashamed for my country, or more afraid for it. I ran into a friend on the train the morning after the election, and she started talking about what a nightmare the whole thing had been, and I had to ask her to please stop because I didn't want to start crying again. It's like when there's a death in your family, and somehow even being comforted unravels you all the more.

After going to sleep around 2 in the morning, I kept waking up, thinking of one more horrible thing this election means. The courts. And not just the Supreme Court, God help us, but the federal circuit courts, like the one that decided on Election Day that it was just ducky for the Ohio GOP to send mobs -- mobs in suits, but still mobs -- into largely African-American polling places to "challenge" voters. Fortunately there were enough Democratic poll watchers assigned there to intimidate the intimidators -- but is that what it's come to?
So it's the courts. And jobs. And healthcare. And any chance that minimum-wage workers might see a raise after struggling through on the same lousy pay since the mid-1990s. And the sanctity of a woman's right to make her own healthcare choices. And any sense of feeling secure, of feeling like there are people in Washington working late into the night to keep us safe, the way Sandy Berger and Richard Clarke did when Clinton was president. As I lay there thinking, one more thing, and then another, kept coming to me, like a steady drip of reminders of things lost. It's like when your pocketbook is stolen, and you keep thinking of another thing that was in there. You knew your wallet was gone, and your keys, but then you remember the photos you just had developed were in there. Damn. And oh, Christ, the ring you were getting resized, the one your aunt had left you.

By the time I had gone to bed, the chorus of pundits had fixed on a single tune, as they always do, and remarkably quickly, too. (Do they watch one another's feeds in the green room?) They had dusted off the old theme that the Democrats need to "reach out" more to the "heartland." Reach out? How, exactly? Forget that these folks blindly ignored all objective reality -- and their own best economic and national-security interests -- and voted for Bush. Look what they did at the Senate level. In Kentucky, they refused to use even basic sanity as a litmus test, and reelected a guy with apparent late-stage dementia; in Oklahoma, they tapped a fellow who wants to execute doctors who perform abortions, who was sued for sterilizing a woman against her will, who pled guilty to Medicaid fraud, and who largely opposes federal subsidies, even for his own state; in Louisiana, they embraced a man who has made back-door deals with David Duke and who was revealed to have had a long-running affair with a prostitute; in South Carolina, they went with a guy who thinks all gay teachers should be fired; and in Alaska, they reelected a woman who was appointed by her father to the job after a spectacularly undistinguished career as an obscure state senator. And compared with the rest of the GOP Class of '04, she's the freaking prom queen. These are the stellar elected officials that the "heartland" has foisted on the rest of us.

"Reach out" to these voters? Yeah. Then boil your hand till it's sterilized.
So what are their issues, anyway? They're "cultural and moral values," we keep hearing. Well, they voted in a president who ran up the largest deficits in history, saddling our children and grandchildren with mountains of debt to pay for a tax cut that largely skewed to the wealthiest Americans; underfunded his own education initiative by $9 billion; threw more than a million more families into poverty; lost more jobs than any president since Hoover; saw 5 million Americans lose their healthcare on his watch; demoted the office of counterterrorism and ignored months' worth of dire warnings about an attack in the months running up to 9/11, and after 9/11, fought the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, fought the formation of the 9/11 Commission, and diverted hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of troops away from the war on terror to fight a war of choice in Iraq, where we've lost more than 1,000 young Americans. Those soldiers who are lucky enough to make it home face cuts in their benefits and combat pay, as well as veterans' hospital closures.

Oh, and on a personal note, Bush and Vice President Cheney have been convicted of drunken driving three times between them, and both evaded the draft while hawkishly supporting the Vietnam War; huge questions still remain about Bush's National Guard tenure, while Cheney's story -- five deferments -- is a bit neater and more straightforward. But they do oppose gay marriage, affirmative action and a woman's right to choose. Ah -- now we're getting somewhere on what these "cultural and moral issues" are out in the "heartland." Bush and Cheney hate and fear the same people they do.
And how, exactly, are the Democrats supposed to counter this? Out-pander Karl Rove? Out-lie Dick Cheney? Out-fearmonger George Bush? Even if the Democrats were inclined to do all three -- and after this election, I'm betting they'd be willing to give it their best shot -- what are the odds, really, that they, or anybody, could succeed?

I'm not, by any means, saying that the Democrats made no mistakes in this race -- and some were huge. For one thing, the Swift Boat liars have been dogging Kerry since the Vietnam War was still underway -- John O'Neill was a protégé of Watergate felon Charles Colson -- and the Kerry campaign should have been ready to shoot down their smears from the moment they were launched. For another, they should have defined Kerry aggressively, with a huge media campaign, from the get-go -- the minute he nailed down the nomination in March -- and defined Bush on their terms at the same time. And they wasted way too much time on Florida, where the love is increasingly unrequited and the Bushes rule.

But to pretend that the Democrats are a bunch of effete, latte-drinking elitists who don't know how to connect with the "heartland" is not only hooey, but mindless, lazy, recycled hooey.

There is a name for the people the pundits describe -- and that name is "Nader voter." Democrats, by now, loathe these people even more than the folks in Idaho do. They're the overprivileged, Woodstock-era, insufferably smug liberals who think all the world's a poli-sci class and who'd rather be "right" than win. Especially since they're not the ones to feel the pain if the other guy wins. They cost Gore the White House in 2000, and the truly hardcore ones stuck to their "principles" even this year. They're repulsive. They're to be loathed and mocked to the skies. And they're not the people who were out there working day in and day out for John Kerry.

I spent the months leading up to the election calling people in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. Many of them -- some Democrats, some Republicans, some with no party affiliation -- were also canvassing or leafleting for Kerry. They were teachers who had to buy their own supplies for their classrooms, because Bush underfunded No Child Left Behind. They were steelworkers who liked John Kerry's support of their unions. They were students struggling with tuition that had gone up 40 percent in a single year, because Bush's tax cuts to the wealthy had starved the states and localities. They were mothers with teenage sons who worried about Iraq. They were furloughed firefighters whose stationhouses had been temporarily closed due to budget cuts.

On Election Day, I was canvassing in Abington, Pa., with a group of volunteers so humongous that they had to bus us to another location -- and then to another -- just to find enough work for us all. If you'd plucked any 10 of us out of the crowd, we probably wouldn't have had much in common except our support for Kerry and our hope for a better, stronger country. The first person I commiserated with in my office the morning after the election was Alfred, our maintenance manager from Poland. And we weren't crying into lattes.

To me, the heartland of this country is anywhere that people work their asses off to make their lives better for their families. They stay true to their better angels no matter how miserable things get or how much easier it would be to succumb to hate and irrational fear. They read, and listen, and look for the truth and stay informed about what's really going on, no matter how grim the news. They don't live in Fox News cocoons, they don't blast Rush Limbaugh from their pickups, and they don't vote blindly for the guys whose prejudices most neatly line up with their own. Their concerns are genuine, their values are consistent, their principles are rock-solid, and their hearts are true.

They may not go around saying, "God bless America," but these days, they're probably praying that He'll save America. Because God knows the people in the "heartland" won't.

Books OK'd After Marriage Wording Changed

November 5, 2004
Books OK'd After Marriage Wording Changed

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Textbooks-Marriage.html

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 4:17 p.m. ET

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The Texas Board of Education approved new health textbooks for the state's high school and middle school students Friday after the publishers agreed to change the wording to depict marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The board decision could affect books sold in dozens of states because of Texas' market clout as the nation's second-largest buyer of textbooks.

On Wednesday, a board member charged that the proposed new books ran counter to a Texas law banning the recognition of gay civil unions because the texts used terms like ``married partners'' instead of ``husband and wife.''

After hearing the debate Thursday, one publisher agreed to include a definition of marriage as a ``lifelong union between a husband and a wife.'' Another changed phrases such as ``when two people marry'' and ``partners'' to ``when a man and a woman marry'' and ``husbands and wives.''

Board member Mary Helen Berlanga, a Democrat, asked the panel to approve the books without the changes. Her proposal was rejected on a 10-4 vote.

``We're not supposed to make changes at somebody's whim,'' Berlanga said.

``It's a political agenda, and we're not here to follow a political agenda.''

Board member Terri Leo, a Republican, said she was pleased with the publisher's changes. She had led the effort to get the publishers to change the texts, objecting to what she called ``asexual stealth phrases'' such as ``individuals who marry.''

``Marriage has been defined in Texas, so it should also be defined in our health textbooks that we use as marriage between a man and a woman,'' Leo said.

Texas lawmakers last year passed a law that prohibits the state from recognizing same-sex civil unions. The state already had a ban on gay marriage.

A controversy arose last year in Texas when the board approved new biology textbooks that contained Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, brushing aside opposition from religious groups.

Tom Englehardt - The Election Hangover of a Lifetime

The election hangover of a lifetime

http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?emx=x&pid=1981

How can I not start on a personal note today? Election night was a roller coaster. I had written a piece a day earlier in which I had expressed guarded optimism about the prospects of experiencing 2005 without George Bush. By Tuesday evening, with hopeful exit polls pouring in, I was pumped. Optimism surged. Phone calls with friends, exchanging bits of half-baked information, only added to the effect. My children arrived; the TV went on; friends began to drop by. I actually found a bottle of champagne, probably years old, and put it on ice. A moment of madness -- and hope.

And then, worst of all, I realized I was experiencing a startling surge of relief, of happiness, of well-being. Whatever it was, it coursed through my body and made me realize how deeply George Bush and his cronies had gotten under my skin. And then, of course, slowly, ever so slowly, it began -- with me saying again and again as one state after another turned red on various TV channels: That was expected; that was expected; that was expected.

This morning, a wonderful young friend, guessing my mood, e-mailed me to say that, even if I felt terrible, at least the election results would be good for Tomdispatch. He may be right. Four more years of Bush folly and horror, how perfect for an oppositional blog. But unfortunately there's a problem, since Tomdispatch, as it happens, is just me, and I feel mighty drear today. If the news isn't good for Tom Engelhardt, how can it be good for Tomdispatch?
Now, I look at my son and I imagine a draft. I look at him and I think of the young Americans who should never have been but are desperately in harm's way in Iraq. I think of the Iraqis and try to wrap my brain around the next 100,000 of them who will die in the urban killing fields of that country, while the second Bush administration pursues its mad, murderous policies. I think about those northern glaciers and the polar ice, and try to imagine them gone in a globally warmed world. I think about being in the heart of the heart of a vast (possibly failing) empire and my heart sinks -- and so, unfortunately, does Tomdispatch's.

I think of the possibly dying Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has held on these extra years by the skin of her teeth, and I remember all too well what it meant in the years of my young manhood to search for a back-alley abortionist, and then I wonder what the Bush court of 2006 will say when the next set of Guantanamo-like cases reach it, or when other U.S. citizens, even perhaps some without names like Hamdi, find themselves jailed on the President's whim. I think of the hideous and useless new weapons systems on which our money will now be squandered. I think of the administration's race to militarize space, as if there weren't enough advanced weapons on our own planet. I think about the neocons, hidden away these last months, who will undoubtedly return oh-so-eager to take a whack at Syria or Iran or North Korea or who knows where else.

I think about the very concept of governing checks and balances -- inexorably slipping away these last decades -- in a world in which the Bush administration controls the White House, Congress, and the courts, and in which the President now has his own political people running his own secret armed intelligence agency, the CIA. And I think about that greatest check and balance of all, the one between our government and a country which, in its relatively short history, has often enough been convulsed by spiritual awakenings and -- yes, what other word can we use -- crusades of every sort, now that the political and religious are increasingly combined in the body of a single man, our President.

In the meantime, a little over half of voting Americans -- and there were a lot of voting Americans this time around -- have now signed on to the rashest presidency in our history (short perhaps of that of Jefferson Davis); they have signed on to a disastrous crime of a war in Iraq, and a losing war at that which will only get worse; they have signed on to whatever dangerous schemes these schemers can come up with. They have signed on to their own impoverishment. This is the political version of the volunteer Army. Now, they have to live with it. Unfortunately, so do we.

My small guarantee. Much of this will change over the years to come. This world of ours already spins on a dime, economically, politically, militarily, environmentally. (Just wait, for instance, until the tactic being developed in Iraq, thanks to our President, the blowing up of oil pipelines, spreads beyond that country's boundaries, as it certainly will, and then check out oil prices and the stock market.) But, to sound a small note of hope, as the world spins on a dime, so often do administrations. And you just never know when one of them will indeed implode. Take Richard Nixon, who sailed through a disastrous war in Vietnam and into office as second time in 1972 on a veritable landslide of votes, and then slide slowly into Watergate and disgrace. These will not be quiet years and, I suspect, they will not prove good ones for George Bush.

I noticed a tiny piece today. Not 24 hours after the election, the Hungarian government announced that, with one more three-month extension, it would, by the end of March, withdraw its 300 troops from our mighty coalition in Iraq. It's a miniscule statement. Easy to miss. No one here is even likely to notice. But consider it a tiny, polite omen. The United States is obviously the 800-pound gorilla in any global "room," but in the coming years much of the rest of the world will have little choice, distaste aside, but to do its best to figure out how to turn backs on, or work ways around, or cut out of the mix this country and its aggressive, treaty-eating, go-it-alone rulers -- its "Moolas" (as George Bush called the Iranian mullahs in one of the presidential debates, as you might speak of "simoleons").

I predict that, within a short space of time, we will find ourselves -- if I can coin a phrase -- an imperial pariah. The Bush administration demanded the right to go it alone. Now they may have no choice but to do so, and the "tribute" any empire can demand of its allies and subject nations may trickle into our economy far too slowly for anything but terrible times, just as the world's oil economy begins to spring endless leaks.

There can be no comfort in predicting bad times, and only small comfort, given what will certainly lie ahead, in the impressive surge of activism that accompanied this election even if, matched from the other side, it could not win it. But we should all take modest heart, not in the pious babble of John Kerry in concession and George Bush in triumph talking about healing the wounds and bridging the splits in our polarized land. No, we should remember that they -- the Republicans -- had decades to organize themselves, and they've had power as well. We've had only the barest few years since George Bush conjured us up from quiescence. How can we really be surprised?

In some ways it's already remarkable what's occurred. The war the President started has chased him to the polls. He wasn't a sitting war president, he was a fleeing one -- even if, thanks to Karl Rove and others, a fleet enough one as well. Now, he's elected but soon enough he'll find out that he's going to have to keep on running.

In the meantime for us, for me, there's the hangover from an election -- many elections -- lost. Tomorrow, or in the days or weeks or months thereafter, an antiwar movement of growing power will undoubtedly come into being. Is there really a choice? In the meantime, there's always the present to deal with.

Deep into election night, my wife wept in her sleep, and I arose in the morning with my jaw locked tight and the mood-hangover of a lifetime. But we're a protective species. I got up, skipped the television news, took a desultory few-minute wander around the Internet, got dressed, grabbed my usual breakfast, went out and bought my hometown paper. I glanced at the headline, "Bush Holds Lead," already knowing he had done more than that, and then I did the protective thing. I found "the Arts" section, triple folded the paper in that identifiably New York way at the crossword puzzle, pulled out a pen, and while walking down Broadway toward the subway, began to fill it in.

A small, ordinary, everyday pleasure. And it did calm me. Tonight, I'll go home and watch the Knicks season opener. (I start all New York sports seasons -- Knicks, Mets, Giants -- with hope but always prepared to follow my team right to the end, right into fan hell.) Ordinary life, it's what we all want most of the time. And we try always to hang onto it, most of the time, under the worst of circumstances, however mild or horrific they might be, in New York or Dayton or Baghdad or Beijing.

Here in New York City, we don't exactly specialize in starry skies. And the other night when the moon was actually in eclipse and you could see it, miraculously, from our street corner (as my wife did), I'm embarrassed to say I was tired and caught it from the couch on TV instead. But I'm still capable of conjuring a sky-worth of the universe, the sort of sky that stretches from horizon to horizon and leaves you feeling awed, and oh so very small. Sometimes that can be a scary feeling, but sometimes -- as now -- it's worth remembering anyway. Sometimes, on the nights when everything imaginable goes wrong, it's worth reminding yourself that we're just one species -- the whole lot of us -- on a tiny planet at the edge of a not so grandiose galaxy, one of only god knows how many. It's worth remembering that it's not, as they say, the end of the world. Tom

Jay Rosen - Are We Headed for an Opposition Press?

http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/
Are We Headed for an Opposition Press?

Jay Rosen

"Big Journalism cannot respond as it would in previous years: with bland vows to cover the Administration fairly and a firm intention to make no changes whatsoever in its basic approach to politics and news. The situation is too unstable, the world is changing too rapidly, and the press has been pretending for too long that its old operating system will last forever. It won't."

Back before the 2004 campaign began, before the emergence of Howard Dean, Democrats shocked at the weakness of their party in Congress would commonly say that the only one "taking on" Bush and putting up a real fight was Paul Krugman, the columnist for the New York Times.

John Kerry's defeat is only hours old. One of the first questions to occur to me is: will we see the fuller emergence of an opposition press, given that George W. Bush and the Republicans are to remain in office another four years? Will we find instead that an intimidation factor, already apparent before the election, will intensify as a result of Bush's victory?

I believe Big Journalism cannot respond as it would in previous years: with bland vows to cover the Adminstration fairly and a firm intention to make no changes whatsoever in its basic approach to politics and news. The situation is too unstable, the world is changing too rapidly, and political journalism has been pretending for too long that an old operating system will last forever. It won't. It can't. Particularly in the face of an innovative Bush team and its bold thesis about the fading powers of the press.

This election, says Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times, "sharpened the cultural divides that have increasingly defined American politics over the last generation." With Bush's majority-of-the-vote win, this dynamic is likely to intensify, but it's only one thing causing an intellectual crack-up in the press. Here are some developments to watch for:

At some point between now and 2008, either MSNBC or CNN may break off from the pack and decide to become the liberal alternative to Fox, thus freeing Fox to find a more frankly ideological formula, as well. During the conventions the logic of this move became evident. The single most shocking moment for television news people came in late summer when Fox won the ratings for the Republican convention, the first time a cable channel had defeated the broadcast networks in that competition. Everyone realized at once the power of GOP-TV and how much sense that system--the more partisan system--made. (Like a political party, FOX has a base and it reaches out for other viewers, knowing it cannot alienate the base.) If one of the other cable channels goes left, will the remaining networks that are "unaligned" stand pat, go left, or hook right? Big question.

Which seems more plausible: the "cultural divides that have increasingly defined American politics," as Brownstein put it, will also begin to define American media, or... Big Media will successfully hold itself back from politics, and the major news sources will remain non-aligned, officially neutral? The first prospect means a radical restructuring is due (or maybe it is already underway.) Certainly leaders in Big Journalism will try to remain non-aligned, but do they even have that power? As we know from politics, if you don't watch out you can be defined by your opponents. Opponents want to define the national press as the liberal media, and they are well along in their cultural project, which does not require the participation of journalists.

The campaign year had many high points and subplots involving the media: confessions of failure on WMD's, Michael Moore's success with agitprop, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and their effect on Kerry, the disaster that Dan Rather and Sixty Minutes brought upon themselves at CBS, the he said she said, we said furor involving who lies more, the rise of the bloggers and the tensions this caused with Big Media (which also absorbed them), Jon Stewart's showdown with Crossfire and his impact overall with "fake" news, the Sinclair Broadcast Group's plans for Stolen Honor. Such episodes we still see as "distractions." Some day we may realize that this is one way Americans "do" their politics today: they attack and defend the media, or start their own media, or use new media against old media, or mount a claim that the media is the opposition.

So what remains after all that? The cultural right, in its struggle with the liberal media, feels that it is on the ascendant. Participants there are primed for more action. News and editorial decision-making are thrust into the political arena itself as potentially explosive "issues." This expansion of the political into the realm of "news" and commentary coincides with greater transparency for the big news combines, which are more successfully scrutinized than they have ever been. Various layers of protection once kept journalists from the knowledge the public had of their mistakes. That layering seems gone now.

The Bush White House and the Republican Party have the national press in a box. As with so many other situations, they have changed the world and allowed the language of the old world to keep running while exploring unchallenged the fact of the new. The old world was the Fourth Estate, and the watchdog role of the press, the magic of the White House press conference. It was a feeling that, though locked in struggle much of the time, journalists and presidents needed each other. Although it was never put this way, they glamourized Washington politics together, and this helped both.

In Bushworld, all is different. There is no fourth estate; an invalid theory, says Team Bush. The press is not a watchdog for the public, but another interest group that wants something. (Or, they say, it's an arm of our opponents' operation.) But the press is weak, and almost passe, in the Administration's view. There is no need to deal with it most of the time. It can be denied access with impunity. It can be attacked for bias relentlessly, which charges up Bush supporters. It can be fed gruel and will come back the next day. The Bush crowd has completely changed the game on journalists, knowing that journalists are unlikely to respond with action nearly as bold. For example, would the press ever pull out of Iraq as a signal to the Bush White House? Never, and this is why it is seen as weak.

Washington journalism likes to imagine itself the Administration's great adversary, but most of the time it relies on access journalism-- not the adversarial kind. "Sources make news" is the first tenet in that system, and that gives sources power. But access journalism makes less and less sense when there is no access, and sources rarely deviate from the party line. The White House press corps has always been based on access, so much so that the alternatives to it have almost been forgotten. I think there will be pressure to abandon the whole dream of press access under Bush, and re-position some forces accordingly.

Interesting, then, what Daniel Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee said at PressThink this week: "When my colleagues complain about a lack of access to Schwarzenegger at his media events, I ask, is that kind of access really critical to our doing our jobs? Is it our job to get close enough to describe the color of his tie, or his interaction with a voter, or is it our job to deconstruct the governor's (or president's) policies and proposals, their effect or potential effect on the public, their cost and consequences? Sure it's great to have an interview with the man, or fire away questions at a press conference, but I think good journalists are capable of informing the public without the benefit of these tools." He's thinking of alternatives to access because he's already realized it: Arnold is post-press in his political style.

I expect some news organizations to begin dealing with these pressures by essentially giving in on several counts-- for example, that newsrooms are populated by liberals and conservative voices are too few. Coming to terms with "liberal bias" could be seen as a way of recognizing the reality of the election and responding to continued anger at the press. The most likely place for those efforts to begin is with the supposed finding that "moral values" (read religion) were the top concern of voters, yet this is not a strength of the liberal, secular press; therefore we need to change-- or something like that. After the Republican sweep, I expect some major initiatives on the bias front.

Keep your eye on Sinclair Broadcasting, in my view a new kind of media company-- a political empire with television stations. It was built to prosper in the conditions I have described. It already has a self-conscious political identity. It is already steeped in culture war. And it admires and imitates the Bush method of changing the world, but keeping the same language for the new situation.

The years 2004 to 2008 will be an intense and creative period for left wing journalism, which is oppositional, and for opinion journalism generally.
Journalists who have been paying attention know that something big in their world changed in 2004. (See my list of stuff happening.) But will they go through the kind of agonizing re-appraisal the Democrats will soon be undertaking? (It's already been called a "battle for the soul of the Democratic Party.") Or will they let that old weary operating system grind on?

PressThink believes the re-appraisal starts now. So hit the comment button and speak. (Comments closed for the time being.)

After Matter: Notes, reactions & links

Call for Writers: This is a call to professional journalists (people employed in the press) who have something to say to their colleagues in the wake of the 2004 election and in light of bigger developments around us. Over the next few weeks, I would like to invite some guest writers to continue the examination of old think in the press, begun by ex-New York Timesman Doug McGill (The Fading Mystique of an Objective Press) and Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub (No Longer Do the Newsies Decide.) Background to those pieces was my post, Too Much Reality, which featured a list of twenty puzzles and problems, such as:

Political attacks seeking to discredit the press and why they're intensifying
Scandals in the news business and the damage they are sowing
The era of greater transparency and what it's doing to modern journalism
Why the culture war keeps going, this year reaching the mainstream press
Why argument journalism is more involving than the informational kind
What has to change in journalism? What was learned in 2004? Send me your press think--in the form of a personal essay with examples and ideas, stories and insights--and if it's good, I will run it. Or e-mail me with an idea. Other guest writers: Ernest Sotomayor of Unity, Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News.
Earlier speculations at PressThink (Sep. 2) "Turn to Fox News for Exclusive Coverage of the Republican National Convention." By 2008 we may see something different emerge: The Republican and Democratic parties negotiate deals with a single network to carry exclusive coverage of the event-- like the Academy Awards, or the Olympics.

At Corante, Ernest Miller responds to this post: Whither the Press?
In politics we have opposition parties. Those in each party express one position when it is their party in charge, and castigate the same position when it is championed by the other party in charge. How expected. And how sad. Is this the future we want the press to adopt?

Why not a press that is the permanent party of skepticism and contingent thinking? How about a press, not without bias, certainly, but with a commitment to exposing the facts and a humble recognition of the possibility for error? Why not a press firmly on the side of transparency? Such a position is hardly apolitical. In fact, it is radically engaged with and opposed to "politics" as well as the "view from nowhere."

Read the rest. It is all forward looking.

Peggy Noonan in her morning-after column for Wall Street Journal (Nov. 4, 2004):

Who was the biggest loser of the 2004 election? It is easy to say Mr. Kerry: he was a poor candidate with a poor campaign. But I do think the biggest loser was the mainstream media, the famous MSM, the initials that became popular in this election cycle. Every time the big networks and big broadsheet national newspapers tried to pull off a bit of pro-liberal mischief--CBS and the fabricated Bush National Guard documents, the New York Times and bombgate, CBS's "60 Minutes" attempting to coordinate the breaking of bombgate on the Sunday before the election--the yeomen of the blogosphere and AM radio and the Internet took them down. It was to me a great historical development in the history of politics in America... God bless the pajama-clad yeomen of America. Some day, when America is hit again, and lines go down, and media are hard to get, these bloggers and site runners and independent Internetters of all sorts will find a way to file, and get their word out, and it will be part of the saving of our country.

Former Newsweek reporter Robert Parry: Too Little, Too Late.

Yet, even as conservative foundations were pouring tens of millions of dollars into building hard-edged conservative media outlets, liberal foundations kept repeating the refrain: “We don’t do media.” One key liberal foundation explicitly forbade even submitting funding requests that related to media projects.

What I saw on the Left during this pivotal period was an ostrich-like avoidance of the growing threat from the Right’s rapidly developing news media infrastructure.

President Bush's press conference after victory, from Dan Froomkim's White House Briefing.

After Associated Press reporter Terence Hunt opened the questioning with a three-parter, Bush said: "Now that I've got the will of the people at my back, I'm going to start enforcing the one-question rule. That was three."

For mourners only: The election hangover of a lifetime.

Latest installment in Big Journalists bravely debunking bloggers: Frank Barnako, CBS Marketwatch, Bloggers blew it: Much posting, little impact. Here's Jarvis on it. (Who expected big things from bloggers on election night? I didn't.)

Big Voter Turnout Seen Among Young People

Contrary to what EVERY cable-news talking head said. . . .
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Young-Voters.html
November 5, 2004

Big Voter Turnout Seen Among Young People
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 3:12 p.m. ET

Under-30 voters came through in big numbers this year, with more than 20 million casting a ballot for president, researchers found. The turnout bested their 2000 showing by more than nine percentage points and heartened activists who worked to get young voters to the polls.

In Gambler, Ohio, Maggie Hill waited in line for nearly 10 hours to vote for John Kerry. She skipped field hockey practice and ate pizza and cookies delivered to hungry students by their professors.

``You gotta stay with it,'' Hill and her classmates at Kenyon College told one another, as hundreds of them sprawled in the community center playing board games, chatting and waiting for one of only two voting booths.

Few young voters had such a tough time at the polls Tuesday.

Researchers at the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement at the University of Maryland found that 18- to 29-year-old turnout was up by 4.6 million voters from exit poll data from the 2000 election.
They based their calculations on exit polls done for The Associated Press and others by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.

The figures also beat exit poll numbers from 1992, the last time the youth vote spiked amid an otherwise general decline in turnout since 18-year-olds first got the chance to vote in 1972.

Turnout increased among other age groups, too, leaving young voters with roughly the same proportion of the total electorate nationally as in 2000. But activists who were part of an unprecedented effort to get out the vote -- from Rock the Vote and Declare Yourself to the Youth Vote Coalition -- felt that didn't detract from their accomplishment.

``To have beaten the '92 number is incredible,'' said Ivan Frishberg of the nonpartisan New Voters Project. Back then, Bill Clinton defeated the first President Bush.

This time, young voters were the only group that favored Democrat Kerry. The AP's exit polls found that under-30s favored Kerry over Bush, 54 percent to 45 percent, compared to a 48-46 edge for Al Gore in 2000.

While exit poll data provides an early look at young voters, more detailed and definitive information about the youth vote -- provided by the Census Bureau -- will be available next year, said Carrie Donovan, the youth director at CIRCLE.
Still, experts who track the youth vote say that the initial data shows politicians should take young voters more seriously.

``I think at the end of the day, if you're looking for new voters, young voters will emerge as the best bang for the buck,'' Frishberg said.

He said he already saw signs of politicians paying more attention to young people in this election. By the end of the campaign in Colorado -- one of six states the New Voters Project targeted -- he heard political ads playing on radio stations with a young demographic. He also noted that Republican Chuck Grassley in Iowa, who easily reclaimed his U.S. Senate seat, had an ad targeting young people.

Grassley's outreach raises a point to young-voting experts, who say that, despite going for Kerry this time, young voters aren't necessarily a lock for Democrats in the future.

``It's a critical window of opportunity, and it's success that can be built upon. But I think that young people are there for the taking by both parties,'' said David King, associate professor of public policy and research director at Harvard University's Institute of Politics.

He said there are a number of ways the parties can build on the momentum from this election.

With young people's penchant for volunteering, King suggested getting them involved in state and local politics. He also suggested framing the issue of morality -- a flashpoint in this election -- in a new way that appeals to young who often defy traditional liberal and conservative labels.

``Then the conversation becomes 'How do we define our role in society? What does the good society look like? How do we love and care for our neighbors?''' King said. ``That's the kind of debate that, I think, young people would be very engaged in.''

Tara Carolfi, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Wisconsin, said politicians who want to build support from their young constituents also would be wise to address the budget deficit and Social Security.

``We're worried,'' Carolfi said. ``A lot of people feel like it's going to be our responsibility to take care of it.''

Back at Kenyon College, Hill said she's disappointed that the first presidential candidate she's ever voted for didn't win.

``But it doesn't deter me from voting,'' the 21-year-old senior said, noting that the election taught her an important lesson. ``Every vote did matter.''

------
Martha Irvine is a national writer specializing in coverage of people in their 20s and younger. She can be reached at mirvine(at)ap.org

A Simple Project For Progressive Victory in 2006

http://novogate.com/exco/index.php?boardid=1177

A Simple Project For Progressive Victory in 2006

Overview
So just how "conservative" is America? According to polling data -- including a look at exit polling and some interesting election results -- not very. On virtually every domestic issue, from jobs, to education, to healthcare, to the environment, Democrats represent the majority position. For a concrete example, consider the results of a referendum in Florida on a state minimum wage, a dollar higher than the federal minimum wage. Bush won Florida, and the referendum passed -- by a margin of over two to one. So why did the Democrats lose? Because one issue -- terror -- dominated the minds of many in the electorate. However bogus the perception, the President was perceived as "stronger" on this issue, and this issue dominated with many voters.

In other words, fear was permitted to overrule the reason of a majority of ordinary Americans. In fact, this is in keeping with what has been the conservative strategy for decades. The plain truth is that the conservative agenda -- a "minimalist government" playground for corporations -- is downright unpopular. They conceal that agenda behind a sophisticated public relations effort, and use fear and "wedge issues" to keep ordinary Americans divided against themselves.

The solution is obvious. Ordinary Americans must be educated regarding the true agenda of the far right. In fact, that true agenda is readily available to anyone who cares to look for it. As Noam Chomsky pointed out in a lecture delivered all the way back in 1995, corporate fascists communicate with each other regarding that agenda, in public, right in plain view on the pages of America's business publications. Meanwhile, the public utterances of such Republican strategists as Grover Norquist leave no doubt what their agenda is all about. Finally, and most importantly, there is a legislative record for every cheap-labor conservative in the Congress. The cheap-labor agenda must be implemented in legislation, and that legislation includes a record of votes, floor speeches, and other public records.

Defeating the cheap-labor conservatives is a simple process of identifying the cheap-labor agenda, as expressed by the Republicans themselves, and making sure that no sentient American can have any doubt of what that agenda is, and who supports it. To accomplish this, the following functions must be organized.

1. "Opposition research" aimed primarily at embarrassing cheap- labor conservatives with their own public statements and votes. A small number -- a few hundred -- people could systematically document and track the public record of every Republican congressman, senator and various other Republican operatives. [One Congressman or Senator to one "watchdog" equals 535 people -- and in fact, one "watchdog" could target several, especially since a relative minority of congressman are "vulnerable" and only a third of the Senate is up for re-election.]

2. Public Education and Advocacy.This is the backbone of the project, and is where progressive activists by the tens of thousands can participate. We already have tens of thousands of bloggers, letter writers and local activists working separately. If we could recruit a fraction of those to this effort, we can systematically work at the local level to educate people over the next years -- especially in locations where there are "vulnerable" Congresspersons or senators.

3. Advertising. The Republicans have been showing us for years the value of hard-hitting "attack ads." In fact, they frequently use votes, public statements and other "ammunition" furnished by their opponents in attack campaigns. The effectiveness of those tactics should be obvious to everyone. With adequate funding -- requiring a "fundraising" function to be developed -- we can do the same thing, putting ads on the radio and television exposing the cheap- labor conservatives for what they are.

4. "Memes," "Frames" and Message Development. Facts are important, and the research function described above should develop a wealth of facts. [In fact, a lot of facts have already been developed.] But people don't remember lists of facts. They remember memes and frames. This is another lesson to learn from the cheap-labor right. Their slogans and rhetoric are carefully crafted to conceal their cheap-labor agenda, to appeal to people's "patriotism" and "values" and put those into the service of their agenda, and when all else fails, to divide ordinary Americans against each other. With a little imagination and creativity, we can develop progressive memes and frames to deliver our message, and make our facts stick with people.

5. Candidate recruitment and liaison. Developing our own candidates to use our memes, frames and research is a useful exercise, since coordination with actual candidates amplifies the message.

6. Advocacy training. Political communication is an art. Cheap- labor conservatives are good at it because they spend time and money developing their craft. We don't. The results are good facts with low impact -- because the letter writer or speaker has not learned and refined some simple communications techniques. And if you don't understand this yet, you need to understand it right now. Facts aren't enough. How the facts are presented -- i.e., how they are "framed" is even more important. For a very good example, witness the election results -- yesterday. This function can actually be developed as the others are developed, but it is essential that progressives develop some communications professionals, who know how to sway the electorate.

This project is a concrete and immediate means to develop facts, issues and themes directly relevant to the task at hand, which is to restore control of the Congress to the Democrats in 2006. At the same time, it develops organizational coherence, and polishes the communications skills of tens of thousands of activists -- improving their overall effectiveness in every venue and on every issue. Finally, it provides something sorely needed on the left. We certainly have a wealth of activists. What we need is a coherent, amplified and repeated message. This project will furnish the substance of that message.