I feel really bad when multiple days go by with no postings. Sorry about that. I spent the weekend trying to catch up on reading assignments and avoiding audiovisual contact with news (I failed in this long enough to hear one ABC anchor announce Friday night that the Kerry campaign faced “watching the race slip through their fingers,” and then go on to describe the statistical dead heat in the polls. I tried hard, but I couldn’t make the logical connection between a statistical tie and “watching the race slip through their fingers”).

But I broke from the reading long enough to go “on record” (if going “on record” includes having a conversation over beer and pizza with three other people) with my conviction that this will be the ugliest, most contentious, most disputed, most debilitating and confidence-shaking election the United States has ever seen. Of course, I wasn’t exactly creeping out on my own twig with this. But it has consumed my thoughts from time to time: what becomes of a nation’s citizenry when they discover that their democratic elections are charades? What did we do in 2000? Repugnicans at least had the forethought and dramatic flare to entice local well-to-do activists to stage a fake “populist uprising” outside the rooms where chads were being counted and recounted. Democrats ultimately managed to harry the court-appointed president’s motorcade on the way to his coronation, but were apparently too stunned to mount a serious protest. Barbara Ehrenreich says we need to be ready this time:

In addition to all the poll monitoring, touch screen protesting, etc., we need two things. First, some agreed-upon group to declare the election fair or fraudulent. This may not be an easy or obvious call, according to my friend the political scientist Frances Fox Piven: “If this election is stolen, it will be stolen at the most local level, and we won’t know right away.” Maybe the OSCE can be relied on to pass judgment, or maybe the ACLU should be appointed to do the job, with MoveOn spreading the word.

Second, we need a plan of action for the all-too-likely event that the election is determined to be tainted. “Hitting the streets” sounds good, but if we each do it on our own, the neighbors will just conclude that we’re taking out the recycling or assessing our leaf-raking issues. Asked what we should do, Linda Burnham, of Count Every Vote 2004, suggests people start planning now for local demonstrations at election boards. Piven recommends nationwide protests that are both “nonviolent and disruptive,” possibly on inauguration day. John Cavanagh, director of the Institute for Policy Studies, writes: “On February 15, 2003, over ten million people in over 600 cities around the world took to the streets to say no to Bush’s [war on Iraq.] Another stolen election will require coordinated efforts like this, on a larger and more sustained basis, until the stolen goods are returned. Mega-networks like United for Peace and Justice, which played a central role in February 15 as well as the recent mass march at the Republican Convention, will need to retool so they can play a central role.”

If you think this is a paranoid fantasy (and probably only one or two of you do), read Anne-Marie Cusac’s roundup of the thuggish tactics already in practice in several swing states. And read about the stunning security flaw Bev Harris has once again uncovered – this time in Diebold’s central vote tabulating computers. And about the little mistake that fortunately lost only a couple hundred votes this time (in, where else?, Florida). Moving Ideas is doing a series this month on the technical and procedural pitfalls facing this election. Here are parts 1 and 2 (hopefully I’ll remember to link to the remaining segments). And here’s how the Florida courts are already lining things up for the Bush family.

It’s all about the frame —

Daily Kos got a review copy of George Lakoff’s new book and has posted a preliminary and very detailed review. If he keeps this up, I won’t have to buy the book! And speaking of new books — here’s Seymour Hersh on his, Chain of Command. Oh, and let’s just indulge ourselves: here’s a Guardian interview with Kitty Kelley on her new book.

Kerry speech today —

Here’s the text of John Kerry’s speech today. It’s a hard line to toe for someone who says that even now, even knowing what he knows, he’d still have voted to authorize the attack on Iraq. But this seems to have put BushCo on the defensive for now, especially judging from Bush’s desperate innuendos:

Mr. Bush, in a campaign appearance in Derry, N.H., later in the day, directly responded to Mr. Kerry’s contentions that he was misleading people on Iraq, saying that criticism of the administration’s policies was undermining the efforts of American troops in battle.

“Mixed signals are the wrong signal to send to the enemy,” the president said. “Mixed signals are the wrong signals to send to the people of Iraq, mixed signals are the wrong signals to send our allies, and mixed signals are the wrong signals to send our troops in combat.”

“Anytime we put our troops into harm’s way, they need to have the full support of the United States government — the full support,” Mr. Bush said.

Last weekend Kerry charged that Bush has a secret plan for a massive troop call-up after the elections. (Meanwhile: some existing guard troops are being held in lockdown after trying to visit their families before shipping out. Does anyone wonder why Guard recruitment is down in many

areas (see here and here, for example)?

And they called us the “coalition of the wild-eyed”? —

I can’t decide which is more outrageous and unbelievable: that the RNC actually distributes @#%$ like this as campaign literature, or that they apparently have an audience for it.

You would were expecting democracy? at a Republican convention? — Many, many, many unlawful arrests of protestors by an overzealous, overpumped, overprimed police force.

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  1. M — I read Barbara Ehrenreich’s piece, and she lays it out well. Certainly we need to anticipate that scenario and be prepared for street demonstrations. And we also need to be prepared for the long haul in case the election goes sour. I think of it as an analog to the underground Resistance in WWII — which makes our plan for an in-depth look at Bonhoeffer even more relevant. There was a piece from somebody at AlterNet (maybe Holly Minch at the SPIN Project) a while back about longer-range plans in the event of Bush re-election. I’ll try to find it; it might be worth a look again. Meanwhile, I liked Michael Moore’s latest rant exhorting Democrats to pull their socks up. We should definitely try to win this election in spite of all the dirty-tricks odds against us! So keep your head high and keep on working for that. We’ll see what happens after Nov. 2 and how we can reverse the course toward disaster that we are on currently. Peace, Anne

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