Where do we go, from here?

So I watched "Once More With Feeling" on Thanksgiving...sue me.

If you felt anything like I did on November 3rd, you were feeling lost, bewildered, angry, depressed, disillusioned, scared, and other messy emotions that don't lend themselves to normal functioning. Actually, if you felt anything like I did on November 3rd, you were a volatile mix of all of these emotions and probably contemplated chemically-induced coma.

After all the time spent on blogs and reading papers, the hard and unglamorous work of voter canvassing and phone banking, the multiple donations of more money than you could really afford to every progressive organization who came calling, the obsessive watch of daily poll results and electoral calculus...all of that, and we all thought, hoped, prayed that we'd neared the end of King George's reign. And though I'll never be convinced this election wasn't subverted to a heinous and corrupt conclusion, the fact that it was even close enough for stealing, that it was anything but a monumental rejection of Bushco's Administration, meant that many millions upon millions of Americans collectively bent us over and kicked us in the proverbial gut.

I sought refuge in the progressive blogosphere for reassurance that I wasn't as isolated as I felt and looked to my leadership for guidance on what to do next. I won't get into my thoughts on the vote count thing because it's going to take me off on a tangent and involve me banging my head on my desk -- again -- but I, like the rest of the Democrats, was waiting for someone to tell me where to direct my energy.

It never came. Not from Kerry, not from the DLC, the DNC, the DCCC, or the DSCC. MoveOn didn't have any action items, either, and though I dearly love Air America and all their rightful anger, they had very few answers to offer about what to do next. With the exception of the DLC and the DNC, I don't blame any of those people/organizations because everyone, everyone, was just as stunned as I was. We got the wind knocked out of us and it took awhile to catch our breath.

What should've happened, however, was a clear directive from the DNC/DLC to all of those organizations, throughout the lefty blogosphere, in emails to everyone on the databases of every progressive organization in the country, to every Democratic politician and activist and voter about what the next step should be. For whatever combination of reasons, the Democratic leadership failed us and it's time to take a book out of the professional sports playbook, time to fire the managers and bench the players that aren't team players, recruit some new blood out of the minors, get the team back into training, decide on our play strategy, and start collecting some victories. We've got the mother of all championiships in 4 years and if we want to have any hope of winning, the work starts now.

The regrouping has finally begun, and that's good. But I'm not content to wait for direction from the leadership anymore. I'll have a lot more on this topic soon, including a project I'm working on with a small group of others to actually do something about taking matters into our own hands. But in the meantime, much of what I've been contemplating has been contemplated more deeply, and articulated more eloquently, by many other people. Among them, Pericles over at DailyKos, who's nailed 10 killer topics that we as a progressive movement should be tackling and refining and addressing right now.

Daily Kos :: 10 Ideas for 2008

We have to to start laying the foundation for the changes we want to make, to build the framing and the structures of the progressive community that we need to win. Are you ready to fight?


Oh happy day!

Vilsack's out. Which means even he knows he's not what we need right now. Thanks, Governer Vilsack, you're a good Democrat.


Walmart: bigger than the internet?

Holy kee-rap is this disturbing. Walmart, as we all know, is a greedy corporate giant that's driving economies -- including ours -- into the proverbial ground. Not intentionally, but when the economy tanks and we're all living in cardboard boxes, who gives a shit whether it was intentional or not?

Anywho, Walmart also happens to be quite fanatical about information gathering. All the better to sell those bottles of Sam's Club bottled water, my dear. Watched an interesting little piece Frontline the other night on just that subject, as a matter of fact. Seems it's the secret of their success. But did you know that the amount of customer data they have stored is twice the size of the internet?

Let that sink in for a minute. Then read it for yourself.

The New York Times: What Wal-Mart Knows About Customers' Habits

Yet another reason I'm glad I don't shop there.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum posts information from several knowledgeable sources that there's no way Wal-mart's information database is twice the size of the internet. Which, yay! And also, duh. Because if I'd really thought about it, 460 terrabytes isn't that big when considering the billions of webpages number that Google lists on their main page. So apparently, the NYT is pulling numbers out of their asses again. But still, 460 terrabytes is a pretty damn big database and something to be wary about. Still glad I don't shop there.


Ads I'd like to see

Oliver Willis, of "Kryptonite to Stupid" fame, has an excellent series of print ad ideas for marketing the Democratic message. Quick, simple, easy-to-remember:

Brand Democrat

They'd make good posters, bumperstickers, t-shirts, buttons, LJ icons, blogads, banner ads, whatever. This is the kind of thing the DNC should be doing. Hell, they should've been doing this a long time ago. But since the DNC apparently doesn't know whether to scratch its watch or wind its butt, it's time we the people took matters in our own hands. Spread the word, people.


Faces of the Fallen

The Washington Post has compiled a database of every soldier who's died in Iraq, including their name, dates, and pictures. The database is searchable by name or the date/period they were killed. Remember them and their sacrifice.



So much good stuff to read, so little time to write about it. Sorry, guys..."Lost" is on tonight so I only have time for some drive-by linkage. Well worth your time to read through them all, or at least bookmark and read when you've got a few.


Regional inferiority complexes

The seeming disaffection of the South has been a long-standing interest, though even I'm surprised by the extent of my current focus on it. Apparently, however, I'm far from the only one, as evidenced by the glut of posting on the topic pretty much all over the lefty blogosphere.

Digby's had me thinking about this disaffection with a post from this weekend about the historical entrenchment of the Southern resentment of Blue America. Or, to be more precise, Northern Blue America. I agree that the long-standing North/South divide is at play here. But I hadn't actually thought past that to what Digby and others suggest, that it actually goes back further, and is more syptomatic of a culture of both victimization and constantly simmering rage (for lack of a better word) that not only contributed to the Civil War, but to pretty much all the rest of the South's problems. In other words, the Civil War, among other things, were the result of a Southern penchant for a dissatisfaction with everyone, not the cause of it. From Digby's quote of historian Stephen Starr:

Granting the existence of cultural differences between the North and South, can we assume that they would necessarily lead to a Civil War? Obviously not. Such differences lead to animosity and war only if one side develops a national inferiority complex, begins to blame all its shortcomings on the other side, enforces a rigid conformity on its own people, and tries to make up for its own sins of omission and commission by name-calling, by nursing an exaggerated pride and sensitiveness, and by cultivating a reckless aggressiveness as a substitute for reason. And this was the refuge of the South.

Digby later notes:

History suggests that the southern culture has always been as defined by it's resentment toward the rest of the country as much as anything else.

Josh Marshall has more on this idea and its present-day implications and Digby advances the concept further today.

That's not to say that they have only themselves to blame for the state of affairs they now find themselves in, nor for the historic situation of the South in general. Nor that the root of the regional divides in this country can be so easily explained and blamed. And frankly, I'm not interested in the South's problems on this topic in and of themselves, nor in their solutions. I don't mean that as callously as it sounds, but the solutions are going to be complicated cultural adjustments, attitude shifts, and generational progress. Digby rightly notes that such changes aren't really the province of politics.

My interest in this topic pertains to how it relates to a winning strategy for progressives. More to the point, how it informs current debate on whether and what we should compromise in the so-called "values" debate in order to coax more conservative voters to our side. And what I think the topic of the Southern culture of dissatisfaction-with-anyone-but-themselves demonstrates is that such a debate is a non-starter.

Note that I don't mean writing off the South, my previous half-angry/half-joking posts notwithstanding. The South is an integral part of the United States and for all the stereotyping of redneck assholes, there're a lot of liberals, moderates, and even, reasonable conservatives in the Southern states that are worth coaxing to our side.

But that's missing the point, really. If we're going to modify our strategy based on clarifying our ideology (because it's inherently popular with the majority of Americans when we clearly define it) or even, being willing to meet in the middle on certain topics, fine. But what our strategy shouldn't be based on is any sort of compromise, pandering, or submission to the South as an entity in the hope that they might reward us with some votes. History has shown that they won't.

What they said

The next forwarded email I get from my Republican friends/coworkers gloating about the power of the red states gets this here link emailed in response.

Fuck the South

Yeah, I get that red states aren't only in the South. And that red states have lots of pockets of blue. (Which helps us how, exactly, in the electoral college?) Don't care. The things that apply in the South apply in other red states, too. And the things that apply in the Northeast apply in other blue states, too. Consider it a metaphor.


My thoughts exactly

Thanks to _vert1go_:


I got as far as page 27 before I had to stop for the night. I plan to look at them all. My favorites thus far:

"51% of the USA has been hoodwinked, 49% of the USA will work to deprogram them"

"This is one of the 55,902,001 Americans that voted against Bush [who] would like to apologize for the 59,422,689 idiots that did"

"Dear Rest of the World, there have been some troubles at home recently -- as you may have heard. Do you think it would be alright if I crashed at your place for about 4 years...I can pay rent."

"I'm sorry about the election & Paris Hilton"

"Believe me, almost half of us are VERY goddamn sorry."

And this one made me cry a little:

"We still love USA. Good luck my friend. France stay with you."


Couple more things

I owe the youth voters an apology. Yesterday, I said the youth vote didn't materialize and that they didn't give a shit. I was wrong. They did turn out and they voted in their highest numbers since 1972. Because their turnout was 17% of the total turnout, which is the same percentage as 2000, I thought that meant no increase. But if I'd used the most basic probabilty and statistics skills I learned in, well, junior high, I would've realized the fallacy in my thinking. They turned out in high numbers, but so did everyone else. Thus, the unchanged percentage. Anyway, a reader over at Daily Kos has it right, along with a map of how the electoral college would've looked if the youth had had their way. You kicked ass, youth voters, and I thank you for doing your part.

Another bright spot in Day Two of Temporary Political Depression: found out that a very staunch Republican coworker voted for Kerry. And, as proof that there just might be a God and/or Goddess (or two or more), he also voted against the Gay Marriage Hate Amendment here in Oregon. He's not quite ready to call gay unions "marriage", but he's cool with civil unions that provide the same benefits as marriage. At that point it's just linguistics, which we both agreed will take time for people to warm up to. I call that progress.

And finally...yes, Commander Codpiece actually did say today, in his smug and smarmy "press conference", that he "will reach out to every one who shares our goals". As Atrios rightly notes, this is the not-so-cleverly reworded version of "you're either with us or against us".

Well, Mr. Bush -- and for good measure, you too, Mr. Cheney and the rest of the Administration, neocons, religious wingnuts, and for that matter, Bush voters -- here's my response:

Go Cheney yourselves.

In other news, it's entirely possible I'm going to be a wee bit angry about this for awhile. Carry on.

Dear Santa

Guess what y'all are gettin' for Christmas...


"Lost" is over, I'm calling it a night

Regarding all the navel gazing...you know what? I'm tired of that shit. We ran a pretty damn good campaign but when you're up against George Bush The Anti-Christ and his Pantheon of Hell, well, those're some long odds, skippy. The Poor Man nails it.

We're still angry, but we're staying. We love our home and our adopted city too much to leave, we've decided. And we're angry. Why the fuck should we get out? They're the ones who screwed this place up, not us. Oh sure, we were (and I suspect, still will, from time to time) seriously contemplating it, hellatious logistics be damned. But someone on one of the blogs this morning made what I think is a powerful point. They said that moving to Canada or England or Australia or Borneo means that you give up one of your most important powers: control. See, the rest of the world may not live here, but everything that America does affects them and they have no control over it. They don't get a vote. They can't contribute money. They're not allowed to canvass or phonebank or drive people to polling places. They're entirely at our mercy. Leave this country and you leave behind your responsibility to the world to fix this mistake, to make it better, to be the world citizen you should be. As Americans, we have a responsibility for the control we have in the world and we must not go quietly into that good night.

Still, secession isn't out of consideration, as far as I'm concerned. The Blue States can all band together and start our own country and the Red States can try making it without us...good luck with that, Red States. Or, if you prefer, we can keep it to just the Pacific Northwest.

But in the meantime, we're going to take a few days to recover and then it's back to work. Personally, I'm quite fond of this idea. As I said on Heather's LJ today: Word up Republican mofos, we're gonna git all up in yo face.

(Hee. It's funny when white girls do street.)

Kerry will concede later today. God bless you, John...you are probably the best President we never had.

For those of you wondering what happened:

  1. The youth vote didn’t materialize. The 18-24 year-olds apparently can’t be moved to give a shit about anything more than themselves. There’s also some talk that the gay marriage issue mobilized enough of the evangelicals to negate some of the inroads the Dems made in voter registration/turnout. Congrats to the religious dickheads for promoting hate -- way to exemplify Christian values, assholes.
  2. Electronic voting – been reading lots of stories about electronic votes coming out Republican even though the voter voted straight Democrat, especially in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear more about this in the coming weeks, though it’s too late and because there’s no paper trail, nothing can be done about it. Then again, there’s so much unreported scandal, corruption, and crime in this Administration that it also wouldn’t surprise me if it never makes the news. We have the most craven, lazy, and complicit media ever and they’ve been predicting Kerry’s defeat before the primaries had even started.) This isn't the tinfoil hat talking, but I don't have the energy to link to all my sources...click on the link list over there and read for yourself.
  3. Voter suppression – a not insignificant number of people were turned away or forced to use provisional ballots because of Republican dirty tricks (outdated voter rolls, challenged precincts, erroneous felon lists, etc.) that won’t be counted. Absentee ballots haven’t been counted, either, but I don’t know how many states/precincts and how much effect they have. Again, the link list is full of info if you want to read for yourself.
  4. George Bush is the Anti-Christ and the Republican Party is the Pantheon of Hell.
I take cold comfort in the fact that this Administration is about to reap the whirlwind -- the Medicare thing hits in 2006, the tax policy is a ticking time bomb set to go off within 12 months...environment, gas prices, deficit -- the list goes on. And don't even get me fucking started on Iraq. They're about to see the consequences of all of this and more, but we're all going to have to suffer with them and that, my friends, is reason enough to question your belief in a just God.

I am probably the most optimistic person you'll ever meet. The glass is always half-full, people are fundamentally good, blah blah blah. But Bush & Co. ruled the last 4 years as if they had a mandate and proceeded to divide this country in the most hateful and diabolical ways possible. If you think that after winning more control of Congress, 51% of the vote, and the chance to pack 4 ultra-conservative judges into the Supreme Court, they're suddenly going to rule with a moderate and welcoming hand, you're not optimistic, you're fucking delusional.

There's a lot more I want to say, but I don't have the energy or the heart and anyway, it's all stuff you're thinking right now. I hope I'll come out of this funk and be ready to fight like hell to save my country. In the meantime, I'll be making plans to get the fuck out of here.

Riding the short bus

Regardless of the outcome, there's no rational reason this election should've been so close, nor any rational reason this president wasn't frogmarched to a jail cell. Except, of course, that a frightening percentage of my fellow Americans have the intellectual capacity of Ralph Wiggum>:

"I look at the big map and all of the red in flyover country and I feel like I've been locked in a room with the slow learners. We have become the country that pulls a dry cleaning bag over its head to play astronaut."


Okay, so I was wrong. Sort of.

Not a landslide. But not over, either. As someone on Daily Kos said tonight: "My new battle cry is going to be 'hold the line you bitches'." That's my battle cry and it should be yours, too.

Something's up with the voting results vs. exit polling, not to mention that Faux News called Ohio an hour ago with 200,000+ ballots left to count and 14% of precincts left to report, including the largest Democratic counties. And it's very likely all of our fears about electronic voting are coming true:

"Neverknowsbest points out that the only two states in which exit polls differ markedly from the recorded vote are Florida and Ohio: both critical battleground states, and both states with widespread use of electronic voting machines. In that thread, I note that the normal way of confirming that an election was properly conducted is by noting that exit poll results match the number of votes officially recorded."

The fight has just begun and it's going to be brutal. But Kerry isn't conceding a damn thing and neither should we. This time last year, the media all called it for Bush and I went to bed depressed. I woke up early the next morning to an undecided race and a media with egg on their faces. They apparently didn't learn their lesson, but I sure as hell did, and if you're smart, you did, too. Don't let the media dictate the results to you. Every last fucking vote gets counted, damn it.

The revolution begins

If you haven't already voted, my god, turn off your computer and get yourself to your polling place.

Okay, for everyone else...thank you. A few more hours and we'll have an idea if it's too close to call (and thus, the Republicans begin trying to steal the election...again) and we must take to the streets to defend our country from fascist takeover, or (optimistically more likely) if it is indeed Kerry in a landslide and no amount of Republican shenanigans can change that fact. Either way, thank you for doing your part to save our country from self-destruction.