Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Stealth Weapons of Mass Democracy

Kevin Brennan at Tilting at Windmills has a great post about why the Republicans will never allow Canada to join America:
Why not? Because we'd turn the federal government over to the Democrats.

A new poll shows that Canadians overwhelmingly favour John Kerry over George Bush. Strangely (at least to my mind), the region where Bush does the best is Atlantic Canada, where 37% of people would like him to win. Quebec is the most pro-Kerry, at 69%, with Ontario, Alberta, and B.C. all favouring Kerry by about a 3-1 margin (or about 60% of the population).

Also curiously, Quebecers and Albertan are more likely to report a negative impression of Americans than people in other provinces, whereas Atlantic Canada likes Americans the most. That said, 73% of Canadians said they like and admire Americans. However, we're very much opposed to the Bush Administration, with 67% of Canadians saying that they do not like or respect his administration, and 72% saying he doesn't deserve re-election.

The most interesting little factoid is that Canadians are significantly more likely to expect Kerry to improve relations with world leaders in general than we are to expect him to improve relations with Canada in particular. This is actually a pretty reasonable thing to think; many of our problems with the U.S. are the result of trade issues over which the President rarely exercises much direct influence.

I don't find Atlantic Canada's relative affinity to Bush as surprising as Kevin does. After all, aren't the Maritimes socio-economically the closest thing we have to the American south?

I do, however, find it surprising that Quebec is the most pro-Kerry. (Be honest: isn't it refreshing to find Quebec pro-anything?) Is it the Catholic appeal?

If only Canadians could vote down here. After all, the fate of the sleeping elephant affects us, too. (Is that why I come across so many other Canadians working in US politics?)

Of course, while Canadians can't vote and can't contribute financially...there's nothing to stop them from volunteering. If those 72% of Canadians who don't want to see Bush re-elected teamed up with a group like Driving Votes to make roadtrips across the line and help register new voters, that means we could send potentially send 22,914,299 Canadians out to nearby critical battleground states such as Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virgnia, and New Hampshire--or 2,864,287 Canadians to each state.

Just think about it...a few guys, some fishing rods, a cooler, crossing the border at the Peace Arch...who's going to give them a bad time?

Share the idea with your Canadian friends, and contact Driving Votes today to start arranging your road trip.

Another organization channelling volunteers into swing states is America Coming Together

Also, I have my first freeper. Check comments below. In typical fashion, the fellow can't spell. How utterly embarassing that he purports to be Canadian. Brings to mind Garrison Keillor's quip on conservatives and therapy...


Who's watching the watchers?

Part of the aggressive erosion of our civil rights under the Bush administration is the transformation of our country into a panopticon, utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham's conception of the perfect prison where prisoners could be under constant surveillance. In other words, more strides down the slippery slope towards (more fully) becoming a police state.

  • Akhil Reed Amar and Vikram David Amar discuss the 4th Amendment implications of Attorney General John Ashcroft's expansion of the FBI's authority to surveil Americans in public venues such as open Internet chat rooms, political rallies, and houses of worship:
    The Fourth Amendment helps identify what is sensible and what is problematic about Ashcroft's new policy. In turn, Ashcroft's regulation helps identify what is sensible and what is problematic about the Supreme Court's Fourth Amendment caselaw. Read more
  • Ian Walsh of The Blogging of the President writes about Boston's new surveillance cameras...that will still be there long after the DNC circus has left town.

  • EPIC, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, has a wealth of resources on surveillance, including the American government's surveillance and disruption of peaceable protest:
    The United States has a distinctive history of protest, which has helped to shape many of the values we hold today. The Independence movement, the Women's Suffrage movement, and the Civil Rights movement all gained strength through various forms of protest. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution preserves free expression and "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." These rights are necessary to ensure the effective functioning of democracy. Today, as protest continues to play a vital role in the social and political landscape of the United States, the right is endangered by a "system of public surveillance," particularly in Nation's capital.
  • The ACLU points out that what's wrong with Public Video Surveillance is the lack of proportion between benefits and risks.

  • If you still can't see the problem, take a look at the ACLU's case study of the FBI's surveillance of Martin Luther King or read James Campbell's article in Granta 73 on how the FBI did the same thing to James Baldwin and destroyed his life.

  • Ironically, my home town has been the center of the battle over public surveillance in Canada. Privacy Commissioner George Radwanski has been fighting to have the Royal Canadian Mounted Police remove a video camera from downtown Kelowna on the grounds that it intrudes on citizen privacy--and his campaign lead to Canada outlawing public surveillance cameras entirely. Read the story in my hometown paper and in Wired. These stories are dated but I'm trying to track down more current information.

    Here are some of the other people who are watching the watchers:

  • Michael Naimark shows you how to disable CCTV's using a hand-held laser, like the kinds on keychains. (Okay, I guess that constitutes "phreaking the watchers" more than "watching the watchers".)

  • And the ACLU is out there, as usual, running several campaigns to fight for our privacy in the face of these attacks.

  • Public surveillance is one of those civil liberties battles that is so readily deflated by the question, "but you don't need to worry because you don't have anything to you?" But we do need to worry. And we need to fight back while we can.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2004

    Entrance Exams

    The NYT has a story today about redesigning US citizenship exams.

    My first reaction was wariness...because just as the victors write (their own version) of the history books, whoever writes the citizenship exams gets to promulgate their own ideas as to what constitutes "official citizenship."

    The new test will also try to ensure that prospective citizens understand basic concepts of American democracy...

    Yeah, I'm afraid. Especially after following the story this month of how in Florida (yes, Florida) the GOP in violated the rights of new citizens by registering them to vote outside of naturalization ceremonies with forms pre-filled to register voters as Republican.

    Now, my husband Neil and I are a bi-national couple. I am Canadian, he is American, and I am in the US as a permanent resident. Our married life has been filled with immigration negotiations with both the US and Canada, and we will probably each apply for the other's citizenship down the road. So I decided to take a look at each country's citizenship test (as they stand now) to see what kind of concept of democracy they represent. I'll post a comparison of the two later.


    Monday, July 26, 2004

    Rethinking Book Rolls

    I'm alwasy delighted to find a new book roll on my favorite blogs backed by a partnership agreement that gives bloggers a handful of change for click-through sales.

    At the same time, I strongly encourage bloggers to rethink the decision to partner with Amazon. Amazon is a major player in the systematic attack against independent book publishers and book retailers.

    As an alternative, I warmly recommend Powells Books, an independent brick and mortar/online store based in Portland, Oregon. The founder, Michael Powell has a great track record working for free speech and civil rights, and donates to Oregon democratic candidates and organizations (scroll down).

    Powells also offers an excellent partnership program.

    I've just set up my book roll through Powell and look forward to adding music and movies through their Partner, Django as well.

    It's all about voting with my wallet (the only way I can vote here) and putting my money where my mouth is...instead of putting my money where their jackboots are.

    Friday, July 23, 2004

    Off to DemocracyFest

    No posts for a few days...I'm out the door to DemocracyFest, to represent Campaign 101 at a panel on youth in grassroots politics along with Jay Leff of Youth for America.

    As much as I admire all of the bloggers that will be posting from the National Conventions next week...right now, I'm more concerned with how to do the 17 hour round trip drive in 2 days and still be lucid when I'm in front of the mike...

    I'm looking forward to meeting Jay in person (we've been talking on the phone and by email for weeks), as well as, hopefully, the DemocracyFest organizers, Zephyr Teachout, Joe Trippi, and maybe even Governor Dean.

    Updates nextweek...once I catch up on some sleep again!

    Pst! Civiblog Project

    The good folks at The Citizen Lab are organizing a new project called Civiblog that
    makes free bloggin space available to Canadians working for NGOs abroad.

    They are looking to find as many Canadians as we can who are working for NGOS abroad to write blogs that will be hosted on the Civiblog community of sites.

    One example of such a blog that they've already created is the Kandahar Chronicles, written by an MSF logistician working in Afghanistan. Check it out here.

    There will be one major "meta-site," maintained by the Citizen Lab, that will link together all of the participants and house a collection of constantly updated resources that participants might find useful -- things like reports on staying safe in zones of conflict, job postings, travel advisories, etc. They anticipate hundreds of Canadian-NGO bloggers creating over time a virtual community that will benefit everyone.

    The site is currently under construction, but can be viewed here.

    Participation costs nothing. The blog space will be free. Participants can update their blogs as often or as seldom as they like and it is up to them to decide what they are able or want to write about.

    The Citizen Lab will also make available space on the blogs for digital pictures
    and videos to be posted for those who have the equipment.

    It’s a great way to host one’s own website for free so that friends and family can keep in touch.

    Anyone interested or who wants to hear more is invited to contact the person in charge of the project, Graeme Bunton, at

    If you know Canadians abroad at NGO's, spread the word on this great project.

    Tuesday, July 20, 2004

    The Reagan Family: Friends of the Dems

    Ronald & Nancy Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Newsweek that when it comes to George Bush, she can't feel the love.

    And CBS and other news networks announce they won't broadcast Ron Jr.'s speech on stem cell research at the Democratic Convention next week.

    Nancy supports her son, and has also declined an invitation to address the Republican Convention in September.

    Who but Bush could alienate the entire surviving Reagan clan? And at what point will even the GOP recognize him as a liability?

    All I can say is, the puppet masters made a bad choice when they picked Bush as their mole.

    Political Power of Blogs -- & Common Sense

    A lot of hullaballoo about blogs this week.

    Our sister blog, C101 discusses the Chicago Tribune article that calls blogs
    potentially powerful tools for building grass-roots political support.


    Suw Charman of Chocolate & Vodka is back from BlogTalk2.0 with some great insights into the future of corporate blogging.

    I swear The Blogging of the President has had some similar posts recently, but I can't navigate their archive system and track the posts down. :( Anyone? Anyone?

    The UK's Hansard Society also released a report this week about...the political power of blogging. Their key findings include

  • Blogging has the potential to significantly impact on political engagement and political processes as they provide an opportunity for alternative informal voices to enter into the political debate without a great deal of cost or effort.
  • Blogging breaks down the barriers between public and privates spaces and allows elected representatives to put across their individuality and personality.
  • The availability of low-cost, low maintenance authoring software means blogs are far easier to construct and update than conventional websites.
  • The most appealing blogs are those which provide genuine debate between bloggers and visitors to the blog. Blogs that do not offer this facility give visitors little reason to return.
  • At the moment, political blogging is still regarded as the pursuit of internet connoisseurs rather than ordinary members of the public. While our jury found blogs easy to navigate, they found the tone of content unappealing.
  • Blogging has the potential to be of enormous benefit to MPs and other elected representatives who use it as a listening post rather than another tool to broadcast their ideas, achievements or party dogma

  • And at the end of the all seems to boil down to this:

    Blogs that are produced like Direct Mail or spam--slick, generic, ultra-massaged by a hierarchical organizational structure, one-way communication--are as bland as hell, and don't attract or retain readers. (Let's be honest: how many "official" blogs are interesting in any way? And how many shut off comments as well?)

    Blogs that engage in a two-way dialogue, micro-target their audience, actually say something, instead of blandly trumpeting press releases, and represent the views of real people...are far more successful.

    And, in reality, most politicians and corporations are going to opt for door number one, as blogs become the latest trend in political magic bullets, for the same reasons that they invest huge amounts of money in ad-buys and direct mail:
  • self-motivated consultants who know better will sell them on blogs in general to make a buck but not help the client substantially;
  • it is easier to write a check and make a project go away than to invest time or talent in doing things right.

    Quel dommage.

    My crystal ball says the same people/politicians/organizations with a commitment to open dialogue and to retail politics will be the same rare handful to do a good job of political blogs.
  • |

    Thursday, July 15, 2004

    What Mark V. Shaney has to say

    This is my easter egg of the day:

    Blogger Harland Landes has worked some markov chain magic to set up the erstwhile Lt. Mark V. Shaney with his very own blog.

    Landes of course knows that Shaney is the resurrection of an old net hoax.

    Bravo to you, Mr. Landes.

    Frat House Bitches for Bush

    Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau talks to Rolling Stone this week about his early experiences with Yale classmate George W. Bush:

    Trudeau said he penned his very first cartoon to illustrate an article in the Yale Daily News on Bush and allegations that his fraternity, DKE, had hazed incoming pledges by branding them with an iron.

    The article in the campus paper prompted The New York Times to interview Bush, who was a senior that year. Trudeau recalled that Bush told the Times "it was just a coat hanger, and ... it didn't hurt any more than a cigarette burn."

    "It does put one in mind of what his views on torture might be today," Trudeau said.

    Read the whole scathing article here.

    Maureen Dowd also covered the branding story in 1999 column, there is a discussion on Mother Jones with more facts and new information dating this May.

    Er...I am the only one right now with flashbacks from the HBO series OZ?

    Maybe Karl Rove can start a up new campaign group. The Democrats have "Veterans for Kerry." The Republicans can have "Frat House Bitches for Bush."


    Monday, July 12, 2004

    Campaign 101: A Major Success

    Today I am a Living Dead Democratic Zombie, after running Campaign 101's two-day intensive campaign training this weekend in Fairfax, Virginia.

    And it was amazing:

  • 18 hours of workshops that we caught on tape for future trainings
  • A slate of top national trainers
  • Keynote speaches by the cream of Virginia Democrats including Delegate Ken Plum, Delegate Viola Baskerville, Delegate Steve Shannon, Congressman Jim Moran, and Virginia Democratic Party Chair Kerry Donley
  • Surprise drop-in appearances from Fairfax Education Association Executive Director Barbara Allen, Virginia Senate Democratic Minority Leader Richard Saslaw, Fairfax County School Board At-Large Member Janet Oleszek, Delegate Chap Petersen, and Democratic Party of Virginia General Counsel Jay Myerson
  • plus the most incredible group of student activists I've ever had the pleasure to meet

  • Now we are all working on thank you letters, setting up your alumni listserv and forum, sending our photos to the Virginia Young Democrats website, getting our friends to fill out voter registration and absentee ballot request forms before they go off to college, and planning our next event.

    And somewhere in there, hopefully, I'm getting a nap...

    It is GOOD to be a Democrat.

    Thursday, July 08, 2004

    Open Post

    Have a great weekend and feel free to comment at will. :)

    No posts till next week

    I am off until Monday to run Campaign 101 in Northern Virginia -- a progressive grassroots campaign skills training for students.

    This week has been slow for posting, because we've been busy making news with Campaign 101.

    We've been mentioned on Michael Moore's website and we're featured in a great article in this week's Connection Newspapers:

    Campaign 101: Experiencing the Political Process
    Steve Evans
    July 7, 2004

    High-school students often participate in grass-roots political campaigns, but rarely have they taught others how to run them — that is, until Campaign 101.

    Read more here

    Tuesday, July 06, 2004

    Edwards for VP

    Kerry has finally is John Edwards for VP.

    Thank gawd,the anoxia was killin me. And, he made the right choice.

    Read the full story here.

    /me does the happy dance

    Now it is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

    Monday, July 05, 2004

    Hoaxbuster: Son of Shaney

    Hats off to Doug at Doug's Dynamic Drivel for catching the latest incarnation of an old web hoax.

    Does anyone remember in the late 80's when a computer program called "shaney" was used to generate text and plant posts in Usenet groups? (Maybe I should start by asking who remembers Usenet....) The shaney posts were put up under the name of "Mark V. Shaney."

    Well, Doug just found an oddly incoherent comment on his blog from...1st Lt. Mark V. Shaney USMC, allegedly stationed in Baghdad.

    Doug provides some great background on the shaney program and includes the text of "Lt. Shaney's" comments on his site. Read the whole thing here.

    Looks like the right wing nutjobs are so busy they need to outsource their blog comments to AI. I guess AI is better than no-I....

    So, who else is getting getting shaneyed? And who is behind the shaney revival?

    Verrrrrrry interesting.


    Sunday, July 04, 2004

    Housekeeping today

    On the blog, naturally, not in my apartment.

    Cleaned up the bookstore, added blogroller, added several new blogs, upped the Canadian content. Now where's my Canada Council grant? ;)

    More links to come...

    Friday, July 02, 2004

    War Casualties

    The Chicago Tribune reports on Sgt. Robert L. Sarra, and The Guardian on Tim Eysselinck, young men returning from service in Iraq:

    Both served in Iraq. Both expressed skepticism about the war. Both had difficulties adjusting to life at home.

    St. Sarra got into bar fights and received a month of Marine counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder. He was refused re-enrollment on the grounds that he could only show he met the Marine requirement to be fit for rigorous combat duty on foreign soil by agreeing to go back to Iraq. He refused.

    He got a temporary job in a mailroom and filled out an application for the Secret Service. He speaks at peace rallies now. His mother still worries about him.

    Tim Eysselinck did not fare as well. On April 23, he shot himself in the head. He leaves behind his parents, his brother, his wife, and a stepchild and a daughter.

    How many more stories are there like this? And how many will the public ever hear?

    ~with gratitude to the Chicago Times and the Guardian for publishing these stories, and to the families for sharing them


    Michael Moore may get one wish, finally

    Back in November 2000, Michael Moore wrote a public letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, requesting the UN send in Jimmy Carter and a team of observers to oversee the Florida recount.
    If this kind of thievery were happening in any other part of the world, we would have bombed the crap out of it by now. I am hoping for a peaceful resolution to this crisis and for the self-declared "President-Elect" to be returned to his box seat in Arlington, Texas.

    Not quite 4 years later, Moore may get his wish after all.

    Channel News Asia in Singapore and Agence France Presse reported today that a bipartisan team of Congressional Representatives have requested the United Nations to send observers to monitor the November 2 US presidential election.

    Funny, I can't find any mention of this story in the US news media...

    Way Back Machine

    Two great articles this week on the subjective swings of the press. ("Fickleness" was too unimportant and "pandering" doesn't quite get to the point.)

  • In The Campaign Desk, Liz Cox Barrett chronicles how the press fawned over John Kerry as a potential Gore running mate in 2000, long before it became imperative to malign him as the Not-Bush of 2004. B
    The "handsome," "charismatic" candidate who four years ago had an "easy manner," "charm," and a record impregnable to Republican attack has undergone a hideous transmogrification, as described by reporters.

    Since then, the same reporters and news (sic) outlets describe Kerry as ugly and devoid of charm.

    One can only speculate that he currently press darling of the Democratic world, John Edwards, will likewise become hideous and repulsive in the next four years.

    The issue here is not the importance of a candidate's physical appearance, but the press's willingness to abdicate any pretense of objectivity or impartiality and jump on the latest bandwagon to support the agenda of people in power.

  • Blogger Brad DeLong takes two columns about CIA reactions to Iraq intelligence, by the Washington Post's Jim Hoagland, written 15 months apart, and compares them point for point.
    DeLong writes:
    In October 2002 it was finally the case that some in the CIA were willing to buck careerism, recognize the obvious danger of Saddam Hussein, and no longer bury evidence. In February of 2004 it is incompetent alarmists at the CIA who exaggerate the Iraqi threat--and poor naive George W. Bush who believes them(.)

    Read the article. Outstanding.

  • Let's think about both of these articles for a minute: if politicans rule by polls, and the infotainment media make decisions based on "popular" news and corporate profit margins, that leaves the people buying news as a consumer product designed to reinforce the status quo. Er...doesn't sound like informed democracy to me.

    Bravo to both of these writers for peforming the public service of fact-checking, research and analysis that we clearly don't receive from the mainstream media.


    Stand up for Democracy

    Four years after the 2000 Florida debacle, Florida still has not corrected the voter purge that kept registers voters from casting their ballots.

    More than 2,100 Florida voters -- many of them black Democrats -- could be wrongly barred from voting in November because Tallahassee elections officials included them on a list of felons potentially ineligible to vote, a (Miami) Herald investigation has found.

    To put those numbers in perspective, in 2000 George Bush "won" (sic) Florida by a margin of 537 votes.

    What can you do about it?

  • Tell the DNC you want them to ask for an injunction and stand up for Democracy.

  • For that matter, tell John Kerry that you want him to make sure all eligible voters get to cast their votes.

    Too often we sit and wait for the media to manufacture the issues for us...and look where it gets us. Seize the reigns and let's get Democratic leaders working on this NOW.

    Updated 2004/7/2 16/12 SE
  • TalkLeft has a link to the full "felon" (sic) list, thanks to the good folks at People for the American Way, along with instructions for how to remove your name from the list.
  • |

    Thursday, July 01, 2004

    I don't mean to be the fly in the ointment...

    ...but is anyone else leery of online petitions at this point?

    The Alliance for Justice has mounted an online campaign to call for Attorney General John Ashcroft's resignation.

    No one can argue this is a good cause.

    But an online petition?

    I mean, we live in the age of the Patriot Act. How long before Mr. Ashcroft himself gets his grubby hands on those petition lists...and then how long before the black sedans show up at your door in the middle of the night for a one-way trip to Guantanamo Bay?

    Okay, I exaggerate...slightly. Or do I?

    I just don't feel like in this political climate, it is prudent to call up Ashcroft and volunteer as an un-American, un-Patriotic, enemy of the state.

    Now, I don't mean that activism is bad. I just don't know what a petition can accomplish.

    I'd far rather see people write their local and national media, raise awareness of what's going on, and try a little satyagraha.

    I also worry that online activism (petitions and such) keep people complacent, instead of going out into the world and rolling up their sleeves and *doing* something. Are all of these well-intentioned petitions the soma of our time?

    Does God have pom poms?

    Something curious to me, in American political religion, is the notion that God has pom poms, that God puts on a lot of eyeliner and falsh eyelashes every morning and shaves both legs and goes to a tanning booth, all in preparation to shake cosmic pom poms and cheer for one football team, or one school, or one political party, or one country in an international conflict.

    More on God's pom poms in action and the Republican Religious base getting out the right wing vote.

    If the folks at Save America Now aren't enough to put the fear of a pompom swinging gawd into you, I don't know what it takes.

    When it comes to politics, I follow the Old Testment edict of "don't get mad, get even." (It does say that somewhere in the OT, doesn't it?) I hope that everyone who has the sense to be terrified by the new, larger mobiliztion of the fundamentalist Christian vote will step up and do their own part with voter registration and Get Out the Vote efforts.

    There are lots of organizations that would love to have your help:

    For the under 35 set there's
  • Young Democrats of America

  • College Democrats of America

  • and here in Virginia the Virginia Young Democrats

  • Plus, there's
  • the John Kerry Volunteer Center and Media Corps

  • the MoveOn Voter Registration Project

  • America Coming Together

  • Driving Votes

  • The MMOB's Adopt a Swing State Program

  • Our first and foremost obligation in Virginia is to carry the Commonwealth -- which with a lot of hard work is possible this year. So if anyone knows of more Virginia-specific resources, please let me know.

  • And, if you need more motivation, read Rick's post from So May It Secretly Begin about Karl Rove's campaign to politicize and mobilize American churches.
  • |

    Happy Canada Day

    Thinking about home today...

  • Despite the pundit's optimistic predictions for right-wing Stephen Harper and his Conservative party, the country turns left.

  • Prime Minister Paul Martin delivers a back-handed slap to his neighbor in the South in a Canada Day speech that calls Canada a symbol of justice. Candians do not anticipate he'll volunteer to become the 51st state any day soon.

  • The CBC does a retrospective on Canadian cuisine that includes buttertarts (mmmm), maple syrup, and poutine, and even mentions nanaimo bars. (mmmmm)

    Watching these clips makes me realize that culture shock isn't just about what is different in a new place, but even moreso, what is *missing.* And while Americans constantly tell me that there is no cultural difference between Canadians and Americans, I am proud to come from a country that places a value on access to health care, strong public education, affordable higher education, the rule of law, international peacekeeping (vs "peacemaking" (sic)). Looks like Paul Martin thinks so, too.

  • Oh, and for those who don't know it: Canadian Youth call Bush's America the real Evil Empire. Mind you, they have access to real news...
  • |

    Take the slap

    (My apologies for the infrequent postings; my work with Campaign 101, grassroots campaign training for high school and college students, is demanding a huge time commitment right now. Life, leisure time, and blogging should all return to their normal schedule sometime after the training concludes July 11.)

    The president of a Virginia-based Republican consulting group pleaded guilty yesterday to jamming Democratic phone lines in several New Hampshire cities during the 2002 general election.
    ...Raymond plotted with unidentified co-conspirators to jam Democratic Party telephone lines established so voters could call for rides to the polls in Manchester, Nashua, Rochester and Claremont. Manchester firefighters'’ union phone lines also were affected.

    The jamming involved more than 800 calls and lasted for about 1 ½ hours on Nov. 5, 2002, the day New Hampshire voters went to the polls to decide many state and federal races, including the closely watched U.S. Senate race between outgoing Gov. Jeanne Shaheen and then Congressman John Sununu. Sununu, a Republican, won the race.

    Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo was onto this story back in February 2003 and has the scoop on who the players are. also has a February story that follows the money.

    And Besty Divine documents the GOP attempts at a cover-up.

    . . .

    The real story here is the fundamental difference between how Republicans and Democrats operate.

    Democrats bend over backwards to operate within not just the letter but also the spirit of the law. We leave the gloves on, ask permission first, and when permission is denied we just stop dead in our tracks.

    The Republicans dropped the spirit of the law ages ago. (Geneva Convention, anyone?) The push the boundaries of the letter of the law, and more than that, they throw the law books out the window if they think they can get away with it. And, as more and more of the governing bodies are dominated by Republicans, they know they can be outrageous because their own team is not going to call them to task. We see this on the local, state, and national level; and, with the Bush administration, we see a blatant disregard for law at the international level.

    Democrats ask for permission; Republicans ask for forgiveness.

    (At least, that's what I would have said a few years ago. When was the last time anyone heard a Republican ask for forgiveness?)

    Republicans do whatever the hell they want, and they take the slap if they get caught.

    Look at the New Hampshire story. Low-level operatives may get fined, or may go to jail, for jamming phone lines or setting the scam in motion. The real crime is that Republican John Sununu "beat" Democrat Jeanne Shaheen in a Senate race that was not a clean election--but we are stuck with the tainted election results. Who goes to jail for that crime? And who is going to make it right?

    Let me be very clear. I do not advocate that Democrats adopt the Republican's dirty tactics. I do not advocate that Democrats break the law. I do not advocate election-tampering or voter suppression of any kind.

    I do, however, applaud Raymond Buckley, and the other NeHampshirerDemocratscs, who fought for two years for this investigation.

    And I do advocate, very strongly, with all my heart, that Democrats forget about BEING NICE. For gawd's sake, we have a war criminal in the White House who was not elected by the people, whose administration is looking for ways to cancel the next election. How much higher can the stakes get?

    Faced with a choice between being "nice" and being "effective," it is high time to decide to be winners over gentlemen.

    The Democrats need to take a page out of Buckley's book, and prosecute all GOP legal transgressions to the fullest extent of the law, hit them with the highest fines, put them out of business, saddle them with criminal records.

  • BTW, you can send a congratulations note to the New Hampshire Democrats by clicking here.

    Let's face it: we are practicing politics on an uneven playing field. We abide by the rule book, and they don't.

    So sometimes, when the rules are grey, and we have to decide between asking forgiveness or risking the slap, for gawd's sake take the slap.

    Rove Republicans vs Democrats look like Ghengis Khan vs. the Presbytarian Lady's Auxiliary.

    There is a certain righteousness in some Democratic circles, that we are nicer, more law-abiding, more genteel.

    Who cares?

    We can be gentlemen losers all the live long day, and feel quite pure and holy about it, but we aren't the people who pay the price. The real losers, the people who bear the cost for our inability to adapt to a changing political ecosystem, are the everyday Americans we are supposed to be fighting for: the kids who can't get jobs in closed factors so they ship out to die in Iraq for George Bush's folly; the people losing their cars and their family homes because in Bush's economic recover, their telecom middle management job has been replaced by three different jobs flipping burgers, washing cars, and cleaning schools at night; the schools facing funding crises and the students in leaky trailers with books older than they are; the veterans who fought in 1 or 2 or 3 wars and struggle to get by despite Bush's cuts to theiretirementnt benefits.

    These people don't have the luxury of losing any more. They are up against a wall of despair and poverty and indigence and disenfranchisement.

    We need to win, for them.

    And in a system where the opposition plays dirty, with unconstitutional recalls of legal elections, with unconstitutional redistricting, with a rigged Supreme Court, and with a standard playbook that includes vote suppression and election tampering, we need to play harder, meaner, more strategic.

    Maybe, one day, we can play again for the love of the game. But today, Democrats need to play to win.

    And sometimes, if that means taking the slap...let's's take the slap.
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