Fontana canvassed today, I go out tomorrow. Today was my day on the phones. I don't mind...no, I enjoy the really angry people, like the man who picked up while I was leaving a message on his machine to yell, "Are you still there? Do you think I'm stupid?...." Drama is good. But then I also called and spoke to a man's wife, asked for him, waited two minutes, only to find that it had taken two minutes because he's really old, and all I was doing was reminding him to vote for John Kerry on Tuesday. That just makes me fucking hate myself more than I can say. I stopped doing phones and told the folks, "Anything else...."
But...I also managed to weasel into becoming a poll worker. Ohio has a byzantine system of poll regulation whereby they allow four "judges:" two Democrats, two Republicans, inside the polling place. They also allow two "challengers," one from each side, inside. This year, these will almost all be lawyers. They also allow one state "inspector" to monitor the proceedings inside. Then, outside, as long as they stay 100 feet from the polling place, all manner of rif-raff can congregate, and that's where I latched on. We had a few-hours long training session today that basically boiled down to: don't fight, don't talk to the press, don't be smarty-pants whiteys in black precincts, help people who need help (wrong precinct--we have maps; confused by the ballot--we have samples; disabled--we know about Ohio's curbside voting provisions), and, most important, report any irregularities as fast as you can.
What you notice right away is that GOTV is the land of the young. Almost no one else is willing to do that much scut work for that long for no pay. But they love it, and they really do good work, and, youthful insecurities aside (you give a twenty-four year-old authority and see if it goes to his head...), they're good folks. Here in Akron, they bused dozens of Columbia and NYU students in, and are having them all sleep in the gym at the local Y. I didn't hear a single complaint.
Then there are locals, with whom one generally has the warmest interactions, because, as several of them told me, at first it was just a few dozen folks meeting occassionally--and now, hordes are pouring in from around the country to take direction from them and try to help in any way they can. It's really wonderful to feel their appreciation.
Of course, there's also that peculiar species of local activist: the slightly crazy busybody, usually a woman. One of these asked me if I needed a place to stay, then, after I answered, said, "Democrats don't stay at the Hilton!" It wasn't a joke, but I burst out laughing. Then I thanked her for the offer, but she was gone.
Tomorrow, we find out how much the good folks of Akron like having an Iranian walk up their driveway, and try to tell them how to vote...
As I pounded the pavement this afternoon, I couldn't help but think of Kant's remark that the good will glitters like a jewel in its own light, even if, due to the niggardly provisions of a stepmotherly nature, it fails to accomplish its purposes. And a good thing too, since I'm really not suited for the door-to-door.
Partly this is because I find it intensely irritating when strangers knock on my door; partly it's because I usually find social interaction with strangers to be excruciating. Doing this felt like asking someone out in junior high, only over and over again. So, you innocent residents of Pennsylvania, accept my humble apologies for (a) bothering you at all and (b) bothering you in a way that suggested that I myself would rather be elsewhere because I deeply regretted calling you to see if you were going to the prom.
Oh, the things I do for you, Big John. With love, no less.
On the plus side, I met some fantastic people. Fellow volunteers: committed, engaged. MoveOn organizers: professional, incredibly hardworking. People on the street: sometimes idiots, mostly nice, sometimes inspiring. Tomorrow: same thing, different city.
Let's do it. Final donations are in the mail; the last efforts at persuasion are underway. Ogged is in Akron. In a few hours, I'll be in Harrisburg with all the entreating, persuading, and cajoling power I can muster. I think we're going to win this, but I know we're going to end it swinging hard.
Godspeed to all of you in the final days.
I'm leaving for Ohio in a few hours, so no blogging from me today. But I hope to post at least daily updates about what's going on once I get there.
In the meantime, Jack O'Toole is keeping track of some things you'll find interesting.
Holy shit. No accusation, no matter how apparently implausible, can be dismissed where the Bush administration is concerned.
Is that Karl Rove in the new terror video?
Oh shit, I don't need this. There's a celebrity site called Awful Plastic Surgery, and I just can't. stop. looking...
(Although, Paris actually looks better...)
Please let this be wrong.
Glenn Reynolds writes a column for the Guardian, and they allow comments. I don't read the column, but a friend sent along the latest installment which claims--to say "argues" would be a bit much--that the "Anglosphere" is somehow uniquely dedicated to democracy and freedom. Here's a sample of that slippery phenomenon so aptly called glennuendo.
when the chips are down it's usually other members of the Anglosphere, and particularly Britain and Australia, who can be counted on, and who are worth standing beside in turn. (Canada has been a bit dodgy in recent decades, ever since the Pierre Trudeau era and the Quebecois ascendancy). This is, of course, the reason why Tony Blair and John Howard wield such influence, while Chirac can barely get his calls returned.
My friend notes,
To imply that Trudeau and the "Quebecois ascendancy" are one and the same thing is absolutely ludicrous. The Quebecois nationalists *despised* Trudeau, saw him as an sellout to the anglos ... they hated Trudeau so much that in 1984 they aligned themselves with Brian Mulroney's Conservative Party. Mulroney (also a bilingual Quebecker) was a Reagan wannabe, very friendly to the US.
Two points about voting:
First, Taegan Goddard is right. Please pass it along to as many people as you can; by blogging or email or printout or whatever.
I am a Democratic Party "designated challenger" for Cuyahoga County. Ohio law permits candidates to appoint such challengers, who "shall be permitted to be in and about the polling place during the casting of the ballots and . . . to watch every proceeding of the judges and clerks of elections from the time of the opening until the closing of the polls." The turnout for last night's training session was impressive, overflowing the pews at a Unitarian church a mile from my home. There were at least 200 people, so many the organizers, who admitted they were "floored" by the crowd, were short on materials. The term "designated challenger" is in fact a misnomer. Our goal is to maximize votes, not legal challenges to votes. One could say we're really intended to counter the Republican "designated challengers," who many believe are intended primarily to discourage voters. As the Akron Beacon Journal wrote last week: "Once a voter is challenged, he or she must take an oath and then answer questions posed by the presiding poll worker who formally records the responses. The sight of all this, or the resulting delay, may lead those still in line to bolt, choosing not to vote even though their registration may be all in order." The only grounds for a challenge are contentions that the voter is not a U.S. citizen, has not been a resident of Ohio for 30 days, is not a resident of the county in which he is trying to vote, or he is not 18. If such a challenge is made, the voter can answer them by affirming under oath that he satisfies the requirements. If he is not on the rolls but contends he should be, he can vote by means of a provisional ballot, the validity of which will be subsequently verified. In our efforts to thwart excessive challenges by the Republicans, for each challenge we will ask the challenger the factual basis for his challenge. Why, for example, does he think the voter is not a U.S. citizen?
That's exactly the right approach. And so good to hear about the turnout.
I know thousands of swing voters have been waiting for the Ogged endorsement, and I hate to disappoint.
I've been thinking lately about just why I'm so sure that I'm voting for Kerry. And everyone knows the myriad reasons: we're less safe, Iraq has been bungled, the Bushies might be thinking of invading Iran, they've gladly eaten into the constitution, they don't give a shit about the environment, the economy is on the brink of crisis, they don't give a shit about the poor, etc.
But one either accepts those reasons or doesn't; and that seems to depend mostly on temperament and previous political affiliation. There's very little convincing being done on those grounds. The more I thought about my vote, the more clear it became that I had to vote against the administration because of one issue: Abu Ghraib.
I got all earnest about it at the time, but I don't regret what I wrote. Whether you were one to believe that such things happen all the time or not, the broadcast of those pictures around the world essentially changed the meaning of America. And, I still have to pause to believe: not one person in a significant position of authority has been so much as reprimanded.
And a vote for Bush would, in however small a way, be a vote excusing Abu Ghraib, and the indifference with which it's been treated. I can't do that. Even if a Democrat had presided over Abu Ghraib, I would vote against him. Not in my country. Not in my name. This cannot be my president.
Lots of liberal buddies are upset about the Palast/BBC/voter disenfranchisement story, but a couple of points about that. Republicans are allowed to challenge new voter registrations, and while I'm sure that their intent is often nefarious, the fact that they're challenging, by itself, isn't necessarily so damning. Second, it was never clear just how Palast was moving from the existence of the list to Republican wrongdoing.
Today, Salon takes a closer look at the matter. When you can't get Salon on board for some GOP bashing, it's time to back off the story.
Palast's breathless story comes at a time of extraordinary worry over voter fraud, but without much evidence to support his claims regarding the "secret document," it only feeds Republican claims that opponents are more interested in taking cheap shots than seeking out the truth. Salon has certainly been on the lookout for Republican malfeasance in this election, and we've found no small bit of it, especially in Florida -- but without clearer evidence, we can't add this to the pile.
The whole thing is worth reading, for a close examination of the claims, and some follow-up reporting.
His commenters are screaming "lawsuit," but I'm not sure Kos has a case (step up, lawyer folks). Tom Delay said:
Mr. Morrison also has taken money and is working with the Daily Kos, which is an organization that raises money for fighters against the U.S. in Iraq.
Does the "organization" bit get him off the defamation hook?
And I have to confess something, now that I've posted about Daily Kos a few times. Kos, which I believe is pronounced like "dose" (or better, the Spanish "dos"), is how you say "cunt" in Farsi. That's bugging me.
Ok, it's funny. But looking at those two pictures, and at Pearlman's eyes, you can see what a bit of indoctrination can do.
UPDATE Josh Marshall has more.
This is so rich, it's almost creamy. And a better example of two-sides-to-every-story equivalence you will not find.
Democrats "see suppression efforts in Republicans' well-advertised plans to vigorously check the registrations of those who show up to vote. In their eyes, such efforts are designed to convince voters that trying to cast a ballot will be too much of a hassle."
Republicans "see suppression efforts in Democrats' attempts to sow doubts about Mr. Bush's character and his fealty to social conservatives. They believe Democrats will use the Internet to spread fresh rumors about Mr. Bush's youthful behavior among conservative Christians."
If Leonard Cohen re-wrote Ecce Homo, the first two chapters would be called "Why I write such great songs" and "Why I often record lame versions of my great songs even though inferior artists record great versions of my great songs." It's just baffling why he lounges up his material like this (e.g., "Cohen Live," and those frickin' background singers).
Well, if you're in the middle of a post and see that James Wolcott just wrote about the same topic, it's best to highlight and delete.
To put it plainly, if you think that there will be a national time of healing and unity if Kerry wins, you're nuts. He'll be attacked every day, with smears of the kind we've been seeing throughout the campaign. Every day.
There's some slim hope that the Republican party, having lost, will reflect and reform, but it certainly won't be immediate, and might take years.
P.S. Info about the Newsweek bit in Wolcott's post can be found here.
I will say this for Christopher Hitchens: he's made "contrarian" a dirty word, and about damn time.
By the way, I know a lot of you would throw Kaus in with Hitchens, but I don't think that's fair. My impression of Kaus has always been that he's thinking aloud, but is amenable to being convinced otherwise. In fact, I think he likes to be convinced otherwise, if only to be reconvinced back again.
Jeebus, I'm now dreaming other people's blog posts for them. Last night, I dreamt an Atrios post.
Hoeffel's been working hard, but never as hard as now.
As Ann Coulter says: I prefer to win the outcome.
Give him some scratch.
I'll be glad when the election's over and we can get down to some mindless rioting for a while.
It's a visual knockout, but I'm curious what you all think of Eminem's anti-Bush get-out-the-vote video.
I don't know how many people are using Gmail, but what drives me batty about web-based email (well, one of the things) is that you have to manually check to see if you have new messages. Not so with Gmail, as Google itself offers the Gmail Notifier, which will check your GMail and show you the sender/subject, all independently of the browser.
I'm sure you can find similar utilities for other web-based services, and you can also find utilities that will let you use a regular mail client with services like Yahoo!. There doesn't seem to be much point in using a client with GMail, even though there is a way to do it.
I'm done exhorting for the day, but just by way of news, and to keep you uneasy, of course, there's this analysis of the electoral picture.
The states to watch over the next few days are Wisconsin (10), Iowa (7), and New Mexico (5), the three states that Bush will be hitting Sunday through Tuesday as he tries to make up for the potential loss of Ohio's 20 electoral votes.
In fact, Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Mexico might now be the key to the whole election. Democrats have won all three states in the last three presidential contests, but in 2000 they were also the three states that gave Al Gore his slimmest margins of victory: New Mexico by .1 percent, Wisconsin by .2 percent, and Iowa by .3 percent. Ralph Nader is again on the ballot in all three states, and recent polls in all three places are inconclusive. Even if Kerry wins Ohio, to win the election he has to also win either Wisconsin or both Iowa and New Mexico. Like West Virginia in 2000, these are the three spots where Karl Rove could pick his opponent's pockets.
New Mexico went for Gore by something like 366 votes in 2000. It's possible that who will be the next president will come down to about 5000 votes in three states.
MORE: I don't want to pull an Insty here, so let me be clear: DON'T SHOOT RALPH NADER! But it's not hard to imagine that if Kerry loses by a few hundred votes in a state where Nader is on the ballot, Nader's life might be in jeopardy. Remember, DON'T SHOOT RALPH NADER!
I don't expect it to be that bad, but I will be amazed if this election comes off without any violence.
Lindsay Beyerstein wades deep into the heart of darkness, and comes out with hilarious stuff.
In the spirit of Found magazine, there's a web site called grocerylists.org, which posts, yes, found shopping lists. Everyone (including the NY Times Magazine, where I read about it) calls things like this "strangely addictive," but we all know it's not strange at all. The article gives half the reason,
''You can see their lives from these lists even if you haven't been in their houses,"
And that, like some kinds of voyeurism, and reality tv, and good comedy, is profoundly comforting, because it lets us place our common, but semi-private, behaviors on the map of normal human behavior. We're all anxious about whether we're normal, and people who were smarter than average kids, in particular, are apt to think of themselves as "strange." And the less we live communally, and see of each other, the more we need things that tell us, "Relax, everyone's goofy; it's perfectly normal."
MoveOn also has a very good GOTV operation, and you can sign up here if you're willing to travel (or already live in one of the swing states; check the drop down for where you're needed).
I've long thought W must believe something like this.
you know, the true history of my administration will be written 50 years from now, and you and I will not be around to see it
Even when this is true, and I think it is in this case, it's a mistake in judgment to make it the primary guide for one's actions. The 50-year perspective doesn't care how many people die, and it sure as hell doesn't care if things were untidy; it barely remembers. One of the lessons of the 20th century that people were trying to drill into our stupid lefty heads was that massive reorganizations of a society in accordance with some grand vision have real, immediate, human consequences that make the proposed changes unbearable. (Of course, no one said anything about inflicting changes on other societies....) We've already figured out that Bush's "steadfast leadership" isn't conservative, but here's just one more bit of evidence that he's a radical.
I caught a bit of the Obama/Keyes debate the other night on C-Span, and quite apart from the fact that Alan Keyes reguarly says crazy things, I'm convinced he's nuts because he is, in fact, preternaturally eloquent. Here he is, arguing that Obama is hypocritical in being for "hate crime" legislation, but against legislation that makes gang-related violent crimes a special category as well.
I'm willing to wager, we could here, that Senator Obama would not think it superfluous to have what's called "hate crimes legislation" that adds a special animus to certain acts of violence, already penalized under the law, but, in order to convey against those particular acts a certain special category of opprobrium from the society.
Not only is it a beautiful sentence, but he offers to make a bet, right on stage! Vote for the lunatic!
This is an important post by Kos about which states are the crucial battlegrounds. If you can't make it to Ohio, you might be able to do even more good if you can get to Wisconsin or New Mexico. Or at least make calls for those states. And y'all are making me nervous: maybe you don't feel like commenting here about things you're doing, but can it be that one of the most well-informed, pissed-off groups in the country isn't motivated to help Kerry win?
I was waiting to cross a busy intersection today, with a family of four opposite, when the mom decided to cross againist the light, went a little way, and her son--about nine--took off after her--then I heard what he was yelling at her: "What kind of example is that? What kind of example is that?"
And, is the knowledge that a sandwich cut in half should be cut diagonally now lost to the world?
Original sin as other-people-in-the-world. Insofar as democratic politics is analagous to conversation, it only works properly if one's interlocuter is interested in conversing, rather than gaining honor or advantage, or simple sadism. Of course, in a conversation, one can always walk away--but politics changes the world we share, and not participating is not an option. It's not a matter of not wincing, but of wincing as little as possible.