The Real Problem Is There Aren't Enough Black Republicans

I am working on a long post -- honest I am -- about the widening gap between rich and poor in America, what the neoconservatives really want, and what their strategy has been. Really! It will be, uh, a major policy address.

Until then, via Pinko Feminist Hellcat, try this on for size. I find myself sickened but strangely fascinated. It's the website of an organization devoted to convincing another 11% of African Americans to vote "Reaganite Republican." (That would be, Hollywood Hypocrite Republican, as opposed to Racist Southern Confederate Good-Ol'-Boy Fuck The Government And All Its Welfare Queens Republican?)

Strangely, the board has almost no African Americans, and until recently, apparently, the site displayed only the pictures of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Even more strange, though, is the link to what used to be (before those silly intellectual property quibbles?) a site for viewing images from Without Sanctuary, a book on lynching photography.

Now, there are all kinds of good reasons why people look at pictures of lynchings. Scholarly reasons, historical reasons. Still. Is it the putative 11% of African Americans who are to be enticed to join the Republican party who the creators of the AARLC website thought would be interested in viewing these images? Or is it, perhaps, actually the Nazi collaborator cronies on the advisory board?



More of our anxieties

A blog devoted solely to ambulance-chasing attorney spam.


Your Tax Dollars Hard At Work

This is what the White House staff spends their time doing. Can you believe they put this up on a public site?

Now, granted, they're making fun of their colleagues' delusions of grandeur, which certainly deserve to be made fun of. But isn't it a bit infantile? The problem seems not to be that of wasting the public's money, but rather that of lacking social skills -- or lacking sufficient slavish obeisance to Der Fuhrer. (You're not, it turns out, supposed to say you're "the assistant undersecretary of X," but rather "President Bush's assistant undersecretary of X.")

Doesn't it have a little of the character of that "let's look for WMDs under the table -- I know they must be here somewhere" or "some people call you fat cats -- I call you my base" kind of humor?




I heard this on the radio on Friday, several times, as part of a repeated segment on Chicago public radio on the 25th anniversary of the great feminist bookstore Women and Children First, which some of you may know.

Each time I heard it, it made me cry -- probably because of childhood memories, but also because its optimism seems so far away now. But just think: somehow, people found it in them to sing this in the darkest days of the Vietnam War, in the year Richard Nixon won a second term with 61% of the popular vote:

Free to be you and me

There's a land that I see where the children are free
And I say it ain't far to this land from where we are
Take my hand, come with me, where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we'll live

In a land where the river runs free
In a land through the green country
In a land to a shining sea
And you and me are free to be you and me

I see a land bright and clear, and the time's comin' near
When we'll live in this land, you and me, hand in hand
Take my hand, come along, lend your voice to my song
Come along, take my hand, sing a song

For a land where the river runs free
For a land through the green country
For a land to a shining sea
For a land where the horses run free
And you and me are free to be you and me

Every boy in this land grows to be his own man
In this land, every girl grows to be her own woman
Take my hand, come with me where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we'll run

To a land where the river runs free
To a land through the green country
To a land to a shining sea
To a land where the horses run free
To a land where the children are free
And you and me are free to be
And you and me are free to be
And you and me are free to be you and me



How Fundamentalist Groupthink Works

"columnist says public school promoting islam should be sued"

We think we're so tech-savvy. But they're using the internet more effectively than we are.



Three Little Words

I'm feeling rather unimaginative right now. I could blog about my weekend introduction to gender bias in the world of modern dance (upshot: pretty much like art and art history), or the really interesting dance piece I got to see as a result.

Or I could blog about professional insecurities and annoyances, which are legion.

Instead, I will beg and plead readers (I know some of you are still out there, but you've all stopped commenting) to help me out with a project.

Some collaborators and I do a street action where we stand out at a busy intersection at rush hour once a week (I'm not there every week, but we're trying to be there pretty regularly). We started out with signs that said things like:

Bush: War and Racism
Bush: War and Pollution
Bush: War and Insanity

Then we had things like

Defend our rights: STOP BUSH
Defend our schools: STOP BUSH


After the election we decided it was high time for a new set of signs. We'd still like to STOP BUSH, but that rings a little hollow at this point. Taking into account the fact that we live in a heavily Democratic neighborhood, we wanted to do something a little more subtle, or humorous, or thought-provoking -- to get people thinking about what they might do beyond voting. To cheer them up a little in the aftermath of the November Disaster.

We came up with the idea of doing triads of words (or two-word phrases), each one being a question. Some of the words might have more than one relevant meaning. Anyway, I'd love to get suggestions for other combinations, but also feedback on these (which Goatdog, DW, SVO and I came up with):

have to?
be this?

other people?











also, as an extra added bonus, Gaia suggested these:










Fraud or no fraud

Despite really odd numbers in Florida, Ohio, etc. I don't think there's much chance we'll be able to show that voting machine fraud actually enabled the Repugs to steal the election.

Not to say those who are working on this should quit. It's good information to have, even if it doesn't do much good.

But I wouldn't want it to sidetrack us from the main point, which is that whether or not there was fraud in the counting of the votes, there's abundant evidence --
voter intimidation; fraudulent phone calls telling Democrats to vote on Wednesday; fraudulent mailings telling people their polling places had changed; or that they'd be arrested at the polls if they had unpaid parking tickets; insufficient numbers of voting machines; voter registration drives that tear up Democrats' forms, etc. -- that the Republican Party, as a matter of policy and active practice, simply hates democracy.

It might lead one to question the value of giving any more thought at all to electoral politics. On the other hand, if the Democracts lost because they didn't, when push came to shove, do enough grassroots work-- you don't really have to choose, do you? Face-to-face grassroots work should be effective toward both electoral politics AND other goals.



What we're up against

For some reason, I constantly get spam from the "Christian Underground" and the "Traditional Values Coalition." Today I got a message from CU informing me that Dickinson College supports the teaching of terrorism to students. It turns out the college sponsored a contest for lesson plans at various levels to teach students about 9/11, and one of the winning entries encouraged students to think about "the broader context of global injustice."


Fortunately, there's a diversity of views in the evangelical nutjob community. Here's a response on CU's forum from someone who believes that 9/11 was not such a bad thing after all:

I am a public school teacher....(with a diverse background including 20 years as a former youth pastor).

Let's just say IF scriptures have an end time scenario, and IF we could possibly be part of that end time generation...then we know it would require a global community eventually that would be receptive for the time of the spirit of antiChrist.

We know that the world will one day come against Israel IF the book of Revelation were to be considered true. We can imagine that educational reforms, curriculums, environments would necessarily evolve to be in essence factories for turning out refined prepared global citizenry.

We are Israel's only true ally and friend at this time. IF the world is to come against Israel in the end time scenario we could logically presume it would first have to come against Israel's powerful friends. I think we need to think hard and long if being a friend of Israel is actually an injustice.

If our only aim is to do what is necessary to be at peace with the world, a world that is at enmity with Israel...then we may well be cooperating with (and perhaps can't avoid) becoming enemies of God as we evolve into that global spirit of antiChrist- a setting necessary to receive its false Christ.

We have evidently forgotten the Six Day war...that Palestinians are displaced due to their spoiled plan to oust and destroy Israel, but more importantly as a nation that had been at one time tuned into God, we've forgotten or no longer believe the events God plans to bring about. Any curriculum that is to do actual justice should also include as another reason why the Arab world might be mad at us these Biblical spiritual insights as well. Conveniently, however...our secular pluralism will not allow a Christian/Judaeo perspective where deeper understanding might be had.

Now...IF there were a diabolical hell contrived plan to bring about a global union of nations to prepare a way for the antiChrist, how convenient might that not be!

I think we've come to be too concerned about survival at any cost, and that fear as a spirit now reigns the day that we are unable any more to see clearly.



Anxiety and the Nation-State

A blog devoted solely to spam selling panic-attack drugs.

I had something to say about the nation-state, but I can't remember what it was. Too much anxiety, I guess.


Choice, Rights, and Grassroots Organizing

At my antiwar group meeting last night we had a really interesting discussion. Two of us who'd done GOTV work (that's "get-out-the-vote" for you apolitical types!), in Milwaukee and in rural South Dakota, found that the issue the Democrats seemed to be losing the most people on was abortion. I think that this was different in states where there were anti-gay referenda on the ballots, and where that was the "moral values" issue that the right whipped people up with.

It seems like abortion has been lost in the public discourse surrounding the election. It's a more difficult issue, in that I'm sure plenty of Dems are willing to jettison same-sex marriage as a priority, if not as a hoped-for goal. It's certainly not the biggest priority for everybody in the queer community. But what about abortion? Are women going to be sold out on this one? Are the Senate Democrats going to put up a stand in favor of Roe? In fact, I think not. I think Roe is almost certain to be struck down in the next four years (leaving us with de jure what we have de facto anyway -- a hierarchy of access that probably maps pretty well on the red state-blue state divide). Too much of the Democrats' discourse around it seems like half-hearted lesser-evilism.

So it's been over 30 years since Roe v. Wade, and most of us in my generation don't know people who had illegal abortions, or don't know that they did. Some of the women in my group suggested that we needed to hear from those women, especially survivors of botched back-alley abortions and other horrors of the pre-Roe era. I think this is right. (We are even thinking about doing a documentary with women -- including religious women -- discussing why they're pro-choice. Does such a thing already exist?)

I also think (with Tom Frank's book in mind) that the Democrats, or somebody, needs to get a populist economic message out there. But I don't think, frankly, that that will peel away enough of the anti-choice crowd. It's a really powerful, emotionally resonant issue. If you thought abortion was as bad as slavery and murder combined, and you thought you had it in your political power to make it illegal, wouldn't you sacrifice other things to that goal?

I mean, look at this.

We don't like to look at it, do we? What can we do in response -- pictures of maimed and dead Iraqis and American soldiers? Abu Ghraib? I'm not sure what I think about this.

Given what I said in a previous post about selfishness, I am starting to wonder whether pro-choice politics really undermines itself with the very notion of "choice." Choice, in some ways, is the bad guy for these people in more arenas than just this one; it's decadent, it's selfish. (Then again, these same people do seem to like school choice.) I'm reminded of the story -- I can't remember where it was, but it was circulating on the internet -- about the woman who had two of her triplet fetuses aborted and justified it by saying she'd have to shop at Costco if she had triplets. That's really a gift to fundy propaganda. What if we framed it in terms of rights instead of choice? Self-determination? Equality? Or is it better to suggest policies that would help reduce the numbers of abortions? I don't think the fetus is a person, but I don't like the idea of having an abortion too much more than I like the idea of cutting off my hand.

Anyway, most of us agreed that we want to do more grassroots work. Does anyone know of organizations that are really doing grassroots organizing on an ongoing basis? We'd love to know about it.



More dead voters in Ohio?

OK, so what the hell is up with this? Surely there's a reasonable explanation?

UPDATE: It turns out the counts that showed voter turnouts from 90% to 1000% in some counties were based on incorrect counting assumptions.



Blue-state reds, red-state blues

So, I've been in New York the past weekend. I've had a really great time, but I have to say I am struck as always by the immense wealth here and by the effort, and money, that needs to be put into one's fashion statements so as not to stick out as a hopeless hick. Granted, I think things have changed a little now that many of my friends here are more settled in their lives. It used to be that every time I came there was some new restaurant that was THE place to be, and everybody knew it, whether they knew each other or not; it was like they spoke this secret New York insider language, and when I met up with one set of friends and introduced them to another they all knew which restaurant or bar we HAD to go to. And by the time I came back three months later it would have changed. I could never keep up. Well, so I'm struck again by our celebrity-obsessed and fashion-obsessed culture, and newly struck by some of the childishness I see in the papers as certain New Yorkers bemoan the fact that the rest of the country is so different from them, and how can they be so stupid, and here look at the average IQs and how the higher ones line up with the blue states, etc. And I'm hearing that publishers are loving the red-state/blue-state split because they can make money off it. And I think back to my earlier post about how the split (just like extremes of gender difference also pushed by the media) is all about firing up our consumer impulses. And somehow this all seems to reduce to the triviality of style, so we have made our consumer choice, and it's for Kerry, and it's superior to those unfashionable idiots who chose Bush.

Well, of course, I think in all kinds of ways we would have been dramatically better off with Kerry in office than Bush, but I can't help thinking that the moral values crowd have a point (which appears, alas, in rather twisted form) about problems with our celebrity/consumer culture. What if those of us blue-staters who have a similar critique could find a way to communicate it more broadly? Might we make some inroads?

If you listen to Alan Keyes's rhetoric (did you know he was a Straussian? I read this in Anne Norton's great new book, Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire), it's all about selfishness. People are selfish, and so they want the state to bless their same-sex union, they want to choose when to have children, etc. They don't want to limit themselves to the cards God dealt them. They don't want to practice self-control.

They want, if they're allergic to cats, to have a genetically engineered cat bred for them that they can pay thousands of dollars for with their blue-state salary.

What if we could disconnect the notion of "selfishness" from the intensely personal issues like abortion and marriage, and recast it as a problem of consumer culture? Where would we, blue-staters, actually want to draw the line between things that anyone should be able to have, and luxuries we agree are obscene? (What if things anyone should be able to have included a really fantastic public education, health care, safety in their own homes -- etc.?)



To work

Well, I am oscillating among feeling like all the wind has been knocked out of me never to return, feeling depressed, and feeling not so depressed after all. Two things made me optimistic in a regardless-of-the-outcome kind of way in the last couple of months: 1) the anti-RNC, anti-war march in New York (unlike most people I know, I left feeling good about the mobilization of numbers and creative energies) and 2) canvassing in Milwaukee, which, although it was really depressing on one level, made me see how much it just might be possible to do with that kind of work, if we only try.

Other things: 3) The anti-Bush side DID mobilize many millions of people (55 million? what's the count now? this is a sitting "war" president, remember) 4) Their side only wins by suppressing the vote 5) Kerry's message was deeply problematic; there are reasons why it didn't appeal to more people.

There's a ton of work to do now. Not least of which is not letting the spin on Kerry be that he was too far to the left. We'd better start getting to work.



Fear Factory

Two points I wanted to make about my canvassing experience both have to do with fear.

1) Almost no one mentioned terrorism. This is SO not on the radar for people in the wards of Milwaukee I was canvassing. I think fear is a luxury. This is sort of Michael Moore's point in Bowling for Columbine. People who are better off are afraid because they're afraid they'll lose what they have. Poor people are too busy being anxious about the next paycheck to be fearful of terrorism.

2) People ARE afraid, some of them anyway, of their neighbors (or family members?) hearing them say out loud that they're voting for Kerry. Four different people (out of the 20 or so I talked to Saturday) whispered, smiled, gave a thumbs up, or otherwise indicated silently that they were voting for Kerry. It reminded me of the weeks and months after 9/11.

Further evidence that Bush & Co. are much, much scarier than "terrorism."

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