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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The Canvass.

I guess I should write about how it went before I forget it all.

I got up at 5:30 so I could get my wife to drive me to D.C., where the buses waited, by 7. We had to take the kids, too, but for once, they were happy to be awake so early. (The kids, that is. I doubt my wife was, but bless her heart, she didn't show it.)

Crammed like sardines into a motor coach. The bus' radio was set to a local Christian music station. On a Democratic bus! Congnitive dissonance! Aren't we supposed to be the atheist communists? I read a little bit of Seymour Hersh's Chain of Command to remind me of one reason I was there, and then slept most of the way and woke up in... Harrisburg, Pennsylvania! Swing state country! (It was somewhat depressing, I admit, to look out the window the few times I was awake, because I invariably saw Bush/Cheney signs, but as we got closer, a few Kerry/Edwards signs began appearing as well.)

The state Democratic headquarters was heartwarming. Signs everywhere, for both national and local candidates. Plenty of doughnuts to go around. And I thought we were packed like sardines in the bus...

We got a nice lecture/pep talk about canvassing; they explained that they were moving from persuasion of undecideds to energizing the base and getting out the vote (GOTV), which worked for me; I'm not much of a persuader (or so I thought). Then we broke into groups of two and three and were assigned a block of Harrisburg and dropped off to work a list of registered Democrats.

I was with Rama, a biochemist from Laurel, and Karen, a woman who had last worked on a political campaign in Michigan for McGovern. (I explained that I hadn't been able to volunteer in '72 because I was too busy being born.) We walked down a street in a predominantly African-American neighborhood. They had been canvassed before, and not by the Republicans, based on the number of Kerry-Edwards signs we already saw. For the most part, those folks who were home were very polite, considering all the politcal crap they must have been hearing. But in one case, Rama and I (who were working the right side of the street while Karen took the left) actually met a bona fide undecided voter!

Her husband was a clear Kerry supporter (he asked us for three window signs, and stapled one to a two-by-four to improvise a lawn sign while we were there), but he had forgotten to register to vote, so our household vote came down to his wife. She didn't like Bush, but she wasn't sure about Kerry--seemed to have internalized the whole flip-flop meme. So Rama and I tried a little reasoning. What sealed the deal, though, was when she asked whether Teresa Heinz Kerry really gave money to extreme causes, as has been alleged in various chain e-mails. As it happened, I had just read about this, and was able to debunk it in some detail. That seemed to impress her. I think we may have given Kerry one more vote in Pennsylvania (worth about 300 votes in New Jersey).

At 3 PM, we elected to attend a rally with Elizabeth Edwards who was just wonderful, answering every question from the audience with aplomb. My favorite question came from someone who looked like a college student, and asked, "We have been bombarded with television advertising telling us that John Kerry is a 'liberal,' and that's it dangerous to have a 'liberal' in charge of America. Could you please explain to me: what is a 'liberal' and why is it bad to have one as President?" Mrs. Edwards made a pretty good case that George W. Bush is a liberal, actually.

After the rally, we headed to the bus (I took a wrong turn trying to get back, and was chewed out by a police officer, which saddened me) and back to D.C. I was home by eight-thirty. I wish I could do it again next weekend--but I am definitely doing it on Election Day.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

I'm off to canvass for votes. Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The end thymes.

I don't know if I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year, but if I do, I already have the first line of my novel:
Every morning I wake up and put the United States back together.

This is somewhat related to something I've wanted to blog about for a while, because I recently asked a friend whether he was going to spend November scribbling bad prose (we've both tried since 2002 and neither one of us finished). He, too, said he wasn't sure, but if he did write one, it would be "set forty years after the reelection of George W. Bush." (And just so we're clear on his intentions, he added, "the trick would be not making it exactly like The Handmaid's Tale.)

Add that to David Neiwert's excellent series on the creeping pseudo-fascism of the right wing, and, more personally, something I can't really write about which brings home (into my family, in fact) the issue of self-defense against the government, and I'm really starting to wonder whether folks like me, who are passionate about electing John Kerry, but not yet willing to entertain the speculation that, say, the Bush administration would simply not accept the outcome of an election, are kidding ourselves.

Consider the suppression of dissent at Bush rallies. It's been well-documented that hecklers are tolerated at Kerry rallies, and removed (or even arrested) at Bush events. Most recently and egregiously, three women were ejected for wearing T-shirts with an allegedly "obscene" message: "Protect our Civil Liberties."

Then there's the well-documented, but inexplicably ignored by the major media, case of Nathan Sproul and Associates, who have been going from state to state, paid for directly by the Republican National Committee. They have been posing as a non-partisan voter registration organization, but they have been refusing to register Democrats, and in at least one known case, actively throwing away Democratic registration forms. Make no mistake, this is not some fringe outfit; their own employment ads say that they're funded by the RNC.

And of course you have major right-wing figures asserting that torture is akin to fraternity pranks, and that indefinite detention of American citizens isn't worrisome. There are even reports of wholesale murder of civilians in Iraq, to puff up body counts of "insurgents." Even as I write this I worry that I sound like a "paranoid lefty."

When does paranoia become intelligence?

I hope that Kerry can pull out an electoral vote landslide. I am becoming more convinced by the day that unless he does, the right-wing machine will simply pick itself up and start moving inexorably back to power. We need a strong rebuke to these kind of policies, that look reality in the face and say "We make our own reality." We cannot allow the people who demand power for its own sake--not power to help people, not power as a responsibility, not even power for policy--to continue running this country.

I'll be traveling this weekend to knock on doors in a swing state, doing my small part. I hope it's enough.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Holy fucking shit.

The instant (but scientific) poll from ABC news has:
Kerry Won -- 42%
Bush Won -- 41%

But look at the party breakdown:
Republicans -- 38%
Democrats -- 30%

I think that translates into a Kerry win--big time.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Triumph of the Will...

Thousands of Nevada Dem Voter Registrations Destroyed by Repugs
(Oct. 12) -- Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.

Anyone�who has recently registered or re-registered to vote outside a mall or grocery store or even government building may be affected.

The I-Team has obtained information about an alleged widespread pattern of potential registration fraud aimed at democrats.�Thee focus of the story is a private registration company called Voters Outreach of America, AKA America Votes.

The out-of-state firm has been in Las Vegas for the past few months, registering voters. It employed up to 300 part-time workers and collected hundreds of registrations per day, but former employees of the company say that Voters Outreach of America�only wanted Republican registrations.

Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assisatnt to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.

So the people on those forms who think they will be able to vote on Election Day are sadly mistaken. We attempted to speak to Voters Outreach but found that its office has been rented out to someone else.

The landlord says Voters Outreach was evicted for non-payment of rent. Another source said the company has now moved on to Oregon where it is once again registering voters.� It's unknown how many registrations may have been tossed out, but another ex-employee told Eyewitness News she had the same suspicions when she worked there.
The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee.�Similar complaints have been received in Reno where the registrar has asked the FBI to investigate.�

"I love democracy." -- Chancellor Palpatine, Attack of the Clones

"The Night George W. Bush Ordered a Thug to Tell Me to 'Get the Fuck Out of Here!' "

Read this. The whole thing.

It may or may not be true, I admit. But it is hellishly frightening.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Christopher Reeve

I can't honestly say why his death affects me as much as it does. When I found out--and it may be the first time I've learned about a death from a blog--I found myself crying.

Some of it, I'm sure, is childhood memory. I was as big a fan of the Superman movies as anyone. And looking back, let's be honest--could there have been a better Superman, ever? He was a relative unknown, sure, which allowed us to project whatever we wanted onto him, but with that chiseled, square jaw and massive chest, Reeve was Superman, and with the glasses on, he was Clark Kent.

But obviously, if it hadn't been for his accident, and his tireless advocacy of scientific and medical research since then, he would be known as just another actor, most likely, and I doubt I'd be crying.

From what I understand, Reeve was seen, to some in the parapalegic community, as setting back the cause, because he wasn't working for rights for the handicapped and wasn't accepting that he would no longer walk again (at least, that's the impression I got from the admittedly few times I worked with VSA). I can understand that. But to the folks, like me, who were lucky enough to not be handicapped... well, he made us believe a man could fly, and then he made us believe a man could walk.
"Well, I just have to start with a challenge to the President. Sir, I have seen your train go by... and I think I can beat it."
-- Christopher Reeve, Democratic National Convention, 1996

Friday, October 08, 2004

Who cares?

I give it to Kerry, for what it's worth. But not nearly the blow-out of the first debate. I thought Bush was all too often condescending and hectoring, especially at the beginning. Kerry seemed to be down to earth and human. I doubt his stuttering at the end will be widely reported, because it doesn't fit into the Storyline (Bush stumbles over words, not Kerry).

But I'm just some guy, after all.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Terrorists Terrorists Terrorists!

I'm George W. Bush, and I approve this message.


I was just making some canvassing calls--boy is that ever draining and exhilarating at the same time. (I'm also glad I now get free long distance with my phone company.) The most memorable was a nice long conversation with a couple of Ohio seniors; I could barely get my pitch in, they were so eager to tell me why Bush needs to be defeated. I agreed with them (though I am a little leery of the whole 1930s Germany comparison), but in any case they couldn't help with the volunteer effort.

But I know who can. So why aren't YOU calling? Or if you live in a swing state, why aren't you canvassing?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Are you a reporter? Then REPORT!

Straight from CNN via Atrios:
PHILLIPS: So, do Americans agree with Kerry's statement during his debate that Osama bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks and not Saddam Hussein?
Agree with Kerry's statement?

What the hell kind of question is that? Kerry's statement? It's a freakin' fact!

"The Bush administration today stated that black is white. Some Democrats still claim that black is black, however."

Impression #1.

All right, I have to get this written before my weak-willed thoughts are subsumed by the wall of spin and opinion no doubt bearing on me: the VP debate was a tie, IMHO. In my wife's opinion, Cheney won. We're both die-hard Kerry-Edwards supporters, by the way (as if you didn't know!).

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Or are they Michael-Powellisms now?

This has been the problem all along in Kerry failing to run on his record in the Senate - he was a motherfucking statesman, a real one, who grappled with real issues, for years. He didn't go from 'Nam to presidential candidate. Kerry's own words are the clearest rejoinder to charges that he has lacked clear positions on Iraq. Kerry was a hawk, but a responsible hawk. He was not an appeaser. He was not beholden to his party. He just decided back then, and to this day, that we shouldn't dis the rest of the world, and we shouldn't, fer chrissake, run into this thing like a Peoria drag queen at make-up close-out day at the JC Penney's in the mall.
I might have said it with fewer Cheneyisms, but still, Rude Pundit got it right, I think, don't you?

Monday, October 04, 2004

Dear Lord.

Why hasn't this been covered in the United States?
Maher's Story in Brief

Maher Arar is a 34-year-old wireless technology consultant. Arar was born in Syria and at the age of 17, came to Canada with his family. He became a Canadian citizen in 1991 and in 1997 moved to Ottawa.

In September 2002, Arar was in Tunisia, vacationing with his wife Monia Mazigh and their two small children. On Sept. 26 while in transit in New York�s JFK airport, he was detained by US officials and interrogated about alleged links to al-Qaeda. Twelve days later, he was chained, shackled and flown to Jordan aboard a private plane and from there transferred to a Syrian prison.

In Syria, he was held in a tiny �grave-like� cell for ten months and ten days before he was moved to a better cell in a different prison. He was beaten, tortured and forced to make a false confession.

During his imprisonment, Monia campaigned relentlessly on his behalf. After many representations from Canadian Human Rights organizations and a growing number of citizens, the Government of Canada, on Jan. 28, 2004, announced a Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar.

Well, at least we have a suitable Republican response to the recent talk about outsourcing torture: Blame Canada.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Well, duh.

Paul Krugman, the New York Times:
These days, Mr. Bush and other administration officials often talk about the 10.5 million Afghans who have registered to vote in this month's election, citing the figure as proof that democracy is making strides after all. They count on the public not to know, and on reporters not to mention, that the number of people registered considerably exceeds all estimates of the eligible population. What they call evidence of democracy on the march is actually evidence of large-scale electoral fraud.

Well, yeah. But according to the Bushes, large-scale electoral fraud is democracy on the march. Isn't it?