Friday, November 19, 2004

Soul food

All right, dear readers, your blogstress has learned her lesson. Never again will she declare her breakaway republic to be a spleen-free zone, the resultant loneliness being more than she can bear. For ever since she asked her devotees to spare the spleen and pass the erudition, she has received not one bit of postable correspondence from her once enthusiastic public.

Today's proclamation, therefore, will declare to be a confection concocted with Spleenda, a low-invective derivative of spleen that is safe for consumption by cardiac patients, bi-polars, bi-sexuals, hypertensives, hyperbolics and just plain old hot-heads.

Her readers will recall that, in the wake of the horrifying results of the presidential election, your Webwench despaired of the fact that the highly articulate outrage of Very Smart People in the upper reaches of medialand was actually playing into the hands of the righties with its contemptuous portrayals of the moralists who voted for President Bush.

This is not to say that your cybertrix is not a pot of fury herself. (You'll recall that she almost came to blows over a plate of smoked fish at a Yom Kippur gathering with a loud-mouthed right-wing retiree.) It's just to say that those of our kind need to exercise caution until we've arrived at a sound messaging strategy for selling the values of peace, love and understanding (isn't there something about those in the New Testament?), not to mention affordable health care, solvent Social Security, and the notion of a government constructed of the people's money for the public good, not for corporate profits.

As any good shrink will tell you, rage is often the expression of sadness, and vice versa. When infuriated in settings deemed inappropriate for female anger, women tend to cry. In grief, men often rail. In our current dilemma, your emotionally androgynous blogstress sees grief as the higher form of expression, and none has expressed it better than Hendrik Hertzberg in last week's New Yorker:

Here in the bluest borough of the bluest city of the bluest state in all our red-white-and-blue American Union, it has not been a happy week.

In his characteristically elegant cadence, Hertzberg guides us down his river of tears at a gliding, not furious, pace, explaining without name-calling the phenomena that confound us blue-staters about the vaunted religious vote for Bush:

In voting for a party that wants to tax work rather than wealth, that scorns thrift, that sees the natural world not as a common inheritance but as an object of exploitation, and that equates economic inequality with economic vitality, they have voted against their own material (and, some might imagine, spiritual) well-being. The moral values that stirred them seem not to encompass botched wars or economic injustices or environmental depredations; rather, moral values are about sexual behavior and its various manifestations and outcomes, about family structures, and about a particularly demonstrative brand of religious piety.

The piece is hardly humorless; in describing how certain types of religious trust Bush's impulsive leadership style because of a belief in the president's anointment by the Creator, Hertzberg refers to W's ruler as "Almight Gut". (Nice play, by the way, on the German...)

The consolidation of power into the executive branch provides the essay's closing shot, with an ominous insinuation of a Constitution nearly broken:

The system of checks and balances has broken down, but the country remains divided—right down the nonexistent, powerless middle.

Read Hertzberg's "Talk of the Town" Comment

If, like your net-tête, you just can't get enough of Hertzberg, check out this pithy interview with Susan Q. Stranahan of Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk:

Stranahan: Do you think that the national media (concentrated in Blue States) can ever hope to understand the motivations of this segment of the population, or is the cultural divide just too great?

Hendrik Hertzberg: I guess we'll find out. Even as we speak, explorers commissioned by the Blue Media are trying on pith helmets and khaki shorts, readying themselves for the trek into the Heartland of Darkness, with nothing but a tattered copy of
What's the Matter with Kansas? to guide them. I wish them, you should excuse the expression, Godspeed.

Read Stranahan's interview with Hertzberg

Now, your Webwench's point in all of this, dear reader, is not to simply delight her readers with the utterances of an outstanding writer. It is to say, here is the way to vent. We can't all write with the grace of Hertzberg--yeah, we got dat--but we can part our curtain of rage to risk the exposure of our souls to this harsh reality. It will hurt a bit. But without taking the risk of that pain, our souls will retreat as the power-mongers soldier on. And what a terrible sin that would be.

NOTE: In his list of daily reads of which he speaks to Stranahan, Hertzberg neglects to mention Your blogstress is certain that this was a mere oversight.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Spleen-free zone

Over the course of the last week, your blogstress has received all manner of angry, amusing and rueful missives and graphics from her faithful readers. Bai Lon, our beloved White Dragon, was the first to send the now-famous "Jesusland" map (admittedly funny); Beltway Breaker sent some witty screeds from the London Daily Mirror, the fabulous Frankie G. (your blogstress's partner in musical crimes) passed on a vast array of visual gags and expressions. Others sent evidence of rage and frustration, as well.

Though the impulse to post on these was strong, and your Webwench went so far as to request links to much of the amusing material, in the end she refrained, momentarily obeying the Victoria's Secret angel on her shoulder who whispered, "What does this do for us?"

There being no shortage of cyberspace available, indeed designed, for the venting of spleen, your cybertrix has declared, for the time being, her breakaway republic to be a spleen-free zone, so that she and her readers might turn their focus to this question: What do we do now?

While our rage fills us with an instantaneous sense of power when expressed, it is a self-depleting sort of power that is not terribly productive. True empowerment will come from imagining new ways of moving in the world, new ways of marketing our values and new ways of expressing the democratic impulse.

Now, don't mistake your blogstress for some blissfully serene creature. She is plenty pissed off. But in listening to all of the brilliant, pissed-off people she loves--such as the inimitable Maureen Dowd--growling in the upper reaches of the media about ill-educated religious nuts having delivered the presidency to George Bush, she can't help but think that such expressions only play into the opponents' hands. (Look at those godless media elites!)

Karl Rove's declaration of the religious right as having delivered the victory serves three purposes: it pays back the right by playing to its leaders' vanity, it attests to Rove's own "brilliance" as a strategist for having focused on that base since 2000 and, most importantly, it drives liberals to frothing distraction at the thought of creationists owning the White House.

None of this is to say that the GOP's focus on the religious right as the source of its margin of victory is a fable; your Webwench has been warning of just such a prospect for more than a decade. (See the December 1995 Mother Jones, "Power Preying," your écrivaine's primer on the right's plan for dominion.) But it's not the whole story of this election. There's the polling place shenanigans, Democratic ineptitude in expressing moral values (what is liberalism if not a set of moral values?) and timidity in owning up to liberal values, and poor strategy in responding to scurrilous attacks.

Today, in a thinly veiled but welcome power-grab, Andrew Stein of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) launched a page on the SEIU Web site called Unite to Win, asking unionists to examine the state of the labor movement and suggest improvements. While your net-tête entertains some anxiety over the upheaval already begun within liberal establishments, indeed a change is needed, and it's a-gonna come.

So let the soul-searching begin. And let the artists, the writers, the musicians, the thinkers show the world how imagination can fuel the revolution.

Send in your ideas.

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Monday, November 08, 2004

Specter of a family feud

As Arlen Specter (R-Penn.), upon winning his fifth term to the U.S. Senate, prepared to assume the chairmanship of the chamber's powerful Judiciary Committee, he let it be known that he was in no mood to pussyfoot around.

When asked about the kind of jurists likely to ascend to the Supreme Court, Specter said, "When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, or overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that is unlikely." The media promptly reported Specter's comments as a warning to the president when considering nominations, and the right went nuts.

James Dobson, creator of the Focus on the Family empire, said on ABC's "This Week," that Specter "is a problem, and he must be derailed." According to the Washington Post's Susan Schmidt:

Senate offices were swamped with calls about Specter late last week, and the uproar is "not going to go away," Dobson said. "Republican senators know they've got a problem."

The paper's Helen Dewar and Charles Lane reported Specter's "explanation," issued late last week:

"Contrary to press accounts, I did not warn the president about anything" and would "never apply any litmus test" on abortion, Specter said in a statement. "I expect to support his nominees," Specter said later in a telephone interview.

Believing its own press releases, the ecclesiastical class of the religious right thinks it, not Diebold and Democratic miscalculation, delivered the president's electoral victory, and is using the Specter flap as an opportunity to strut about and flex its muscle. Dewar and Lane report:

Concerned Women for America, a conservative group, issued a statement saying Specter had disqualified himself from the chairmanship and stuck by that statement even after Specter issued his clarification.

It's still unclear whether Specter will hold onto his chairmanship of the prestigious committee. What befuddles your blogstress is that in 2000, when the stakes were much lower for Specter personally, he played nice with the Bush ticket on the issue of abortion. He did, however, wonder aloud whether pro-choice Republicans were being a bit too accommodating, and when asked for clarification by your Webwench, demurred:

On Sunday, Arlen Specter, the pro-choice Republican senator from Pennsylvania, surveyed the crowd composed largely of Republicans that filled the ballroom of Philadelphia's famed Bellevue Hotel for an event sponsored by Planned Parenthood, the Republican Pro-Choice Coalition, the National Women's Political Caucus and several other women's rights groups.

From the podium, he invoked the ghost of Barry Goldwater, quoting the late Arizona senator: "'We have to keep the government out of our pocketbooks, off our backs and out of our bedrooms.'" The line drew a round of enthusiastic applause. "We are all good Republicans," he told an audience in need of appreciation, "and maybe we are too good Republicans...We don't want to make trouble for the ticket."

After he left the stage, Specter explained to me that it had been his own inclination to simply raise the issue of removing the GOP's harsh anti-abortion plank form its platform but not to press it. When I asked if his remarks reflected a pang of conscience over having gone along with the wishes of the Bush campaign, the senator replied, "Well, you heard me. I can't say it any better than that."

Read full story, "Very Good Republicans"

The outcome of the Specter flap should give the politically attuned a better sense of who's using whom. Is it Bush using the evangelicals, or the evangelicals owning Bush? Your cybertrix is betting on the former.

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Saturday, November 06, 2004

Fish sandwich, please

Okay, America, so we're screwed. Time to put on our thinking caps and figure out, what next?

Hey, your blogstress has this idea: How 'bout organizing around something other than an election? The liberals, progressives, and people who just like having some civil rights, did a mighty fine job of organizing folks and getting them to the polls. It would be a shame if, like too many liberal endeavors, that was declared "Mission Accomplished," because we know that the real war has just begun--so strip off those flight suits, kids.

One thing your cybertrix is hearing over and over again from people just back from organizing in the field is what an uplifting and inspiring experience it was. It seems not to matter where they were--Columbus, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, East Cleveland, Seattle--they've all come back in a state of subdued bliss.

Let us not forget how Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed built the Christian Coalition out of the mailing lists from Robertson's failed 1988 presidential campaign. And don't forget our friend Jerry Falwell; he didn't really build anything. He was the front man for the first organization of politicized evangelical Protestants, an outfit called the Moral Majority, concocted by a couple of right-wing Catholics and bankrolled by Joseph Coors of brewski fame.

So let's get ourselves a preacher--someone who can call down the Spirit with ferocity--and paste his face on some smart-but-folksy-looking outfit bankrolled by Soros. Secularism just won't do it, folks. If the other side is winning by boxing up peoples' fears and selling them as religion, the least we can do is gather their hopes together in an open basket, and ask them to partake. And get their names and numbers.

Don't worry; there's enough in the basket to go around--at least seven loaves and a few fishes.

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Friday, November 05, 2004

Exit, stage right

As much as it pains your Webwench to extend the ever-widening platform afforded the we've-got-a-three-percent-mandate-so-get-outta-the-way other side, it would be unfair of your blogstress not to commend Barry Johnson of The Hopeful Cynic for his thorough examination of why the exit polls were so off the mark in the presidential election. Since polls drive so much of the campaign process, this is a must-read for those who wish to consider the mechanics of confusion.

Read Johnson's piece on the polls

Of course, your blogstress prefers to believe that the exit polls were actually correct, and the voting machines just wrong. (Which is actually possible, even in a republic as great as ours.) More likely, though, Bush did really win by his slender margin--by boxing up people's fears and selling them in swing states as religion.

NOTE: Why can't these self-described Christians just read the New Testament, and do as Jesus instructed them? As our friend, the Spiritualist, points out, just look at what he said about homosexuality: a big fat zero. And as your cybertrix points out, check out his instruction on abortion: nada. (And yes, they did have abortion in Jesus's day. Abortion has existed since women started getting pregnant.) So what did Jesus say? Love God and one another. Imagine that.

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We're not in Pasadena anymore

WASHINGTON, D.C.--This morning, 9:00 a.m., intersection of North Capitol and D Streets, NW:

On a bicycle, a sixty-something lady in a billowy raincoat of Wedgewood blue, pedaling away in navy-blue nylons and matching pumps. Nice legs.

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Muddling through

Our friend Mallemaroking sends this note of encouragement:

Somehow, we will muddle through this. I love this country to the depths of my soul and I refuse to believe that BushCo is what we are about. We will sail to a better place and fulfill the opportunity that was given us. Of this, I have no doubt.

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Thursday, November 04, 2004

A bit behind

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Please forgive, dear readers, your delinquent cybertrix for being a bit behind the eightball in posting all your brilliant comments. You all wrote with such a fury, and your Webwench is presently not up to doing much more than lolling about the Oppo Factory in her cat suit. Do bear with.

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Denial is bliss

From your blogtress's good friend, Deep South (who had the misfortune of lending his well-muscled form to one of your Webwench's many ill-planned moves between apartments), comes this:

As of today, November 3, 2004, my life is proceeding along happily with the assumption that President Bartlett (a.k.a. Martin Sheen) retains control of the White House. I can rest assured that he will use force abroad only as a last resort, that he will attempt to unite the country, that he will maintain a balanced budget, and that he is acutely aware of history and the true dynamics that drive the world.

I will get my news only from NBC on Wednesdays, at 9:00-10:00 p.m.

Denial is bliss.

Deep goes on to rhetorically ask whether reality could really be that much worse than his alternate televised universe, only to arrive at the conclusion that, well, it could--and probably would--be, but only should he wish to marry the man of his dreams ("I'd have to FIND one first, right?" he adds), drive a gas-guzzling car, or:

* I didn't want my grandchildren to pay off a multi-trillion dollar debt
[but since I don't have any grandkids, what the hey?]

* I get on Ashcroft's radar

* I breathe the air

Hey, Deep, word is that Ashcroft's resigning, so there's one off your list. And just hold your breath, would ya?

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Hope & other things

AMTRAK 79, BALTIMORE, MD.--"Remember, they're not done counting in Ohio," said the beautiful young man who drove your blogstress to the Trenton train station this morning in the hotel van. "Keep hope alive," he added, as he handed your Webwench her bags.

Your cybertrix has begun to wonder whether hope isn't a pursuit best suited to the young. While she refuses to embrace cynicism (though she has been guilty of periodic dalliances with that cad), a sense of weary sadness so fills her being that she finds it difficult to feel much of anything else.

Your écrivaine would feel less depleted, she thinks, had the president ever given her reason to believe that he had the humility to read the fact of the evenly-divided electorate as something less than a mandate for his earth-raping, pocket-picking, Constitution-mangling, innocent-killing agenda. And his deployment of the politics of trauma in his own cause--his blatant exploitation of the 9-11 horror and the damage it caused to the psyches of so many Americans--is something for which your blogstress will no doubt spend pounds of candle wax and countless hours kneeling at the feet of her pagan deity in order to experience only brief moments of forgiveness for the deeds of the commander-in-chief. Yet grace, like joy, tends to run that way: in glimmering, fleeting manifestations that can offer years of sustenance in a single moment, if only we are willing to share the fruits of the feast..

So, here's to hope...and faith...and charity. May we hold fast to one another.

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An onrushing train

From our dear friend, the Composer, comes this:

Well, I feel the wind knocked out of me: it feels like an onrushing train--coming toward me. However wonderful it is to know so many people voted in this election, the results are horrifying....If I were a theist, I'd pray for interesting and effective art.

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Blogstress signing off for the night

TRENTON, N.J.--Not having slept for days, and only fitfully for weeks, your cybertrix is calling it a night, in order to actually make an 8:00 a.m. train back to our nation's capital.

Hang in there, America. We'll figure it out.

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Edwards speaks;
we're waiting it out

"We have waited four years for this victory, and we can wait one more night," Edwards told a weary crowd in Boston.

Rather and Ed Bradley say it could be as many as 10 days before Ohio is decided, since the election's outcome may be decided by the provisional ballots delivered by the African-American wards of Cleveland and Cincinnatti. Why so many provisionals there? Republican challengers at polling places, it seems.

Looks like Iowa is another cliffhanger.

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Lawyers, lawyers, lawyers

TRENTON, N.J.--Josh Marshall is keeping watch on what he calls Republican delaying tactics in Ohio, a story he says the media are ignoring (like so many others).

Read Marshall on Ohio

Your blogstress was told by a poll-watcher on the ground in Columbus (on what is now yesterday) that the president's inpromptu visit to his Columbus headquarters at noon on Election Day served to shut down a number of streets in a Democratic ward.

Because the Columbus drop-in was billed, not as a campaign appearance, but as a visit to thank his Columbus volunteers, the media apparently refrained from noting Mr. Bush's violation of a long-standing tradition in presidential politics: no politicking on Election Day after the polls open. But what do you want from a guy who thinks the Constitution was made to be broken?

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Live free or die

TRENTON, N.J.--Guess they're not loving that U.S.A. Patriot Act up there in libertarian heaven, otherwise known as New Hampshire.

Rather points out that New Hampshire is the first state tonight to go a different way than it did in 2000, and it went for Kerry.

Nonetheless, it looks as though a Kerry victory is becoming ever less likely.

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Coors not so Golden in Colorado

TRENTON, N.J.--Well, the Senate may remain in Republican hands, the House definitely will, and the White House is lookin' mighty red at this late hour. In this distressing environment comes this bit of good news: Coors is goin' down in his bid to become a U.S. senator from Colorado.

It's hard to get much more hypocritical than the Coorses of Golden, Colorado. The brewing dynasty provided more than seed money for the religious right (they basically bankrolled Paul Weyrich and his Heritage Foundation) and continue to embrace that platform, all the while courting gay male patrons by sponsoring gay festivals (leather parties and the like) that feature some activities which, in the the lock-down minds of morally superior righties, should ensure the imprisonment of the participants, if not their death by stoning.

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You say you want a revolution

The smoldering Gang of One responds to your blogstress's post labeled Apocalypse:

Ché was a medical school student; Castro, a minor league baseball player; Pancho Villa (née Doroteo Arango), a cattle rustler; Emiliano Zapata, a humble farmer; Mao was a peasant; Lenin was a lawyer. Hitler was the only "revolutionary" who considered himself an artist.

Well, probably not the only one (your cybertrix comes to mind)--just the only one among the smoldering Gang's selected group. Intriguing nonetheless.

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Cleveland rocks?

TRENTON, N.J.--Looks like Ohio will be decided by the county in which Cleveland resides, a single Midwestern county could determine the outcome of the election if the verdict goes negative for Kerry. They all say that he can't win without Ohio, and they're still counting votes in Cuyahoga County--and they figure to be doing so until about 4:00 a.m.

From an election-night party in Washington, D.C., the Internationalist informed your cybertrix hours ago (10:55, to be exact) that it would be all about Ohio.

About the chance of the election being decided before daybreak, Rather said to Shieffer: "I used to say that if a frog had side pockets, he'd carry a handgun."

Your blogstress is not sure what that means, but you gotta hand it to these old guys girding their loins for an all-nighter while your more youthful Webwench finds herself fading.

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It all comes down to Ohio

TRENTON, N.J.--Dan Rather to Kerry Communications Director Joe Lockhart: "I know you'd rather walk through a furnace in a gasoline suit than lose Ohio."

This is why Rather is still worth watching on election nights. The forced folkisms are at least amusing, giving the viewer a reason to suffer through all the mathematical electoral-vote scenarios run across the television screen. Your blogstress's favorite harkens back to 1992, when Rather referred to Ross Perot as someone regarded by some folks as being "half a bubble off plumb."

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Less than scintillating

TRENTON, N.J.--Here at Kerry's New Jersey election-night headquarters (Marriott Trenton Yard), the energy is pretty low. True, the state was called early in the evening, after weeks of yo-yo polls that yielded an exhausted sense of relief among the troops once the dead-heat surveys were handily defied.

As your cyberscribe blogs, a hard-core group surrounds a large-screen TV in a hotel lounge, fretting and subdued--in fact, exuding a sense of quiet so uncharacteristic of the local culture so as to be downright odd.

Earlier in the evening, Governor-not-elect Richard J. Codey* addressed the crowd, seeming like a nice man--which, in New Jersey politics, could account for the perplexed silence of the partisans herein.

*Readers will recall the resignation of New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, effective November 15th, which propels the ascendence of the state Senate president to the governor's mansion. McGreevey, who resigned in the midst of a patronage scandal that involved either a gay lover or harassment victim, depending on whom one believes (about the harassment or consensuality--we're quite certain about the patronage), was noticably absent tonight.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Technical difficulties

TRENTON, N.J.--Drat! Your blogstress just learned that nothing she had posted earlier actually published until now! And it's f'n Election Day (Jersey dialect). Although your blogstress published no witticisms of her own, she had published a heartfelt missive from the smoldering Gang of One, and her own little set piece about a set-to on a Washington, D.C., bus. Really, really she did!

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Blogging alone

TRENTON, N.J.--From Douggie, the Real Estate Maven comes this:

OK, so you left the epicenter of political power to go to New Jersey on one of the biggest political days in years. What gives, what are you not telling us, do I dare ask did you leave town to be with some one else?

So, back to the matter at hand: it is 9:30 at night and no witty writings, hmmmmmmm?

Well, yes, your blogstress has been quite remiss (bad blogstress!) in not, as yet, issuing the witticisms promised in an earlier post.

And while Douggie clearly has a lascivious imagination when it comes to your Webwench's personal life, alas, the cause of the absent witticisms had to do with your cybertrix's pesky day job, the cause of her Jersey soujourn.

And so, the panic scenario your écrivaine had envisioned came not to pass in your net-tête's homeland, as the more prescient had predicted. Karen, Executrix of Jersey, comes to mind. Earlier, a voice mail was left by the Executrix, who said:

I spent the whole day at an elementary school in [Union County town], handing out Kerry flyers, and I can tell you that there's no way in hell Bush is going to win in New Jersey.

And right she was. Voter turnout in New Jersey, said the Executrix, was approaching an unheard-of 70 percent, and in Linden, turnout at 3:00 p.m. equalled the turnout yielded in 2000 at 7:00 p.m.

And so the race drags on, the big story being Ohio, Florida and the upper Middle West, while your cyberscribe blogs alone in a Trenton hotel room. Oh, fate, cruel fate!

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Interesting times

TRENTON, N.J.--From the smoldering Gang of One comes this:

Blogstress knows I am a member of the opposing camp, and we have had our donnybrooks regarding the liberal camp versus the conservative horde. But I am not here to shill for my man, nor pick a fight with those loyal to the challenger. I suppose I am here as an American. An American pained by the sharp divisions in our nation. I am distressed that we have come to such blows and to such horrific mudslinging. I recall in the last election so-called celebrities vowing to move to Paris or some other imagined haven were George W. Bush to become POTUS. I cannot understand this mindset. To me, that is sullen, immature and selfish. Only spoiled children turn their backs on their siblings.

It is possible that John F. Kerry wins tonight. If he does, he will still be my president. I may disagree with his philosophy. I may have serious issues with his agenda. But it is the Office that I cannot turn my back on. If Kerry wins, I can only wish him Godspeed, and that he truly does what is necessary to protect us all, and honor his obligation of defending the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

In the event the incumbent is voted out of office, certainly I will be disappointed. But I will believe that Kerry has the chance to rise to the occasion, and demonstrate those characteristics that mark leaders of men and women in trying times. I may not be a complete believer in Mr. Kerry but I am, without question, a believer in the goodness of this country.

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WASHINGTON, D.C.--His name, he said, was Apocalypse, a rather improbable appellation for this plump, baby-faced young man of maybe 19 or 20. What occasioned the conversation was your blogstress's "I Voted" sticker, tentatively laid on the collar of her fabulous black leather jacket, which he noticed as she sat herself down across the aisle from him on the number 96 bus. "You did that," he said. Your Webwench looked around. The man in the wheelchair who had gotten on the bus just ahead of your cybertrix fumbled around a minute in his wallet, proudly producing his own sticker. A further scan of the passengers revealed most wearing the cute little stickers. Most were African-American. Apocalypse appeared to be of mixed heritage, his dreads, about the thickness of the wool used for baby sweaters, were bleached to a soft gold that matched his perfectly smooth skin; his eyes a merry shape and blue-green.

"Well, did you?" your cybertrix asked. Well, no, he hadn't, he said. "See, now, we need you young people," your net-tête said, sounding uncharacteristically something like her actual age.

"I just need to get my music and my writing out there," he replied.

Your blogstress agreed that artists nearly always comprise the vanguard of any revolution, but they are also society's most vulnerable activists, she explained. "Especially artists of color," she added, before her eyes landed on her own very pale hands and she wondered if she hadn't overstepped.

The conversation took off from there, ranging from Christ being the true leader (Apocalypse), you're gonna wind up fighting in a war (blogstress); people died for you, how dare you not vote (educated 50-something black woman); ain't no talkin' to you (working-class 50-something black woman).

Finally, the driver could take it no more. "Isn't anybody hearing what God is saying?!" he yelled. He was about 60, and African-American himself. "It's simple; it's about good and evil. Look beyond yourselves! This ain't about you; it's about the world.

"When I get some form and they ask all that stuff--race, ethnicity, what-have-you," he continued, "I cross it out and write Earth Man--'cause I'm a man, and God put me here on this earth. That's why we're here--to take care of this earth. And if this thing don't go right, it's gonna be hell on earth. And that's the right word--hell."

Your Webwench exited the bus, chastened.

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Monday, November 01, 2004

Change of venue

It just gets better and better. Fate is taking your blogstress tomorrow evening to chronicle the election returns from Trenton, New Jersey. ("Trenton Makes, the World Takes," say the big, block letters mounted to the side of a bridge that spans the Delaware River.) So your Webwench will be making blog in Trenton, from which the world will take countless witticisms, no doubt.

Sincerest apologies are issued by your cybertrix to those who had planned to wander through the Oppo Factory to be part of the blogstressing experience; your net-tête swears she'll make it up to you (though some are likely to get more made than others).

So send those e-mails, and she'll endeavor to get them up. Douggie the Real Estate Maven; Nancy the New York Artist; Karen, Executrix of Jersey; Spirit Guide; SallieSixToes; the Internationalist; Beltway Breaker; Bai Lon, the White Dragon; Play Right; Lips Buzz; the Fabulous Frankie G. (your blogstress's partner in musical crimes); and the smoldering Gang of One--your blogstress awaits your missives.

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Tune in Election Night!

As she did during the debates, your cybertrix will be blogging the election results and election night coverage in real time. For up-to-the-minute commentary, tune into, and join the conversation.

In addition to your beguiling Webwench, on election night will feature a revolving cast of readers, bloggers and whichever characters choose to wander into your blogstress's Oppo Factory.

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Different needs

Though your écrivaine remains eternally mystified by the fact of the occasional sane-sounding voice on the other side, she reluctantly admits to having found one, or rather it having found her.

Barry Johnson's take on the state of the Garden State is much the same as your Webwench's, though, for him, it's a state of affairs that suits his needs. (Mars, Venus: we got some very different needs.) From Barry's blog,
The Hopeful Cynic, we learn:

I don't think John Kerry has a reasonably probable electoral vote win path if he loses New Jersey to George Bush, and I don't think that's out of the question right now, especially on the heels of Osama Bin Laden's tape release on Friday...

It looks like the Quinnipiac numbers out last week continue to paint a bleak picture for Kerry in NJ, and these were from interviews conducted before the Bin Laden tape on Friday.

Read Barry on Jersey

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Must-reads, before you pull the curtain

As your blogstress frets about trauma, Osama and Jersey City, others have taken a broader view of the 2004 presidential contest.

In his National Journal column, Off Message, William Powers calls us back to a time when we could all be afraid together, rather than blaming each other for facilitating fear:

[B]y and large, atomic-age fear was a fear that united. We experienced it collectively, in effect as one big family. The most beloved kitsch images of the time are about domestic preparations for the big blast, and the families depicted always have a generic Norman Rockwell look.

Powers goes on to remind us that the outcome of this election will not cause civilization to end (though some of us wonder if it hasn't already). A welcome corrective to an overheated environment. (What global warming?) Plus, if more enticement is needed, there's a delightful William Shatner sighting in there. (We hear he's recording another music album. And for that, we're very afraid...)

Read Powers's column

From the New Yorker comes an endorsement of John Kerry signed, simply, "The Editors". But with its resplendent opening paragraph, your Webwench can't help but wonder whether it came from the pen of one of the best living essayists working in the English language:

This Presidential campaign has been as ugly and as bitter as any in American memory. The ugliness has flowed mostly in one direction, reaching its apotheosis in the effort, undertaken by a supposedly independent group financed by friends of the incumbent, to portray the challenger-—who in his mid-twenties was an exemplary combatant in both the Vietnam War and the movement to end that war—-as a coward and a traitor. The bitterness has been felt mostly by the challenger’s adherents; yet there has been more than enough to go around. This is one campaign in which no one thinks of having the band strike up "Happy Days Are Here Again."

Read the editors' complete endorsement

And speaking of fear, rage, and one of the best living essayists working in the English language, your cybertrix urges her readers to revisit Hendrik Hertzberg's masterful piece, "Under Fire," which ran just before the Republican National Convention took over New York:

The Republicans are here. We—-we New Yorkers—-hope they enjoy the amenities of our city. We hope they are treated politely by all of our fellow canyon dwellers, including those among us who are alarmed by the performance of the incumbent Administration during the past three and a half years—-alarmed by its mania for shovelling cash to the very rich at the expense of families of middling means, its servility to polluters and fossil-fuel extractors, its reckless embrace of fiscal insolvency, its hostility to science, its political alliances with fanatic religious fundamentalisms of every stripe except Islamic (and of that stripe, too, when the subject is family planning or capital punishment), its partisan exploitation of our city’s suffering after the attacks of September 11, 2001, its transubstantiation of the worldwide solidarity that followed those attacks into worldwide anti-Americanism, and its diversion of American blood, treasure, and expertise away from the pursuit of Al Qaeda to a bloody occupation of Iraq that appears to have done nothing to weaken Islamist terrorism and may have done more than a little to strengthen it. We sincerely hope that those who will inevitably take to the streets in order to register their objections to the above will conduct themselves courteously and will refrain from offensive or destructive behavior—not only because such behavior is ill-mannered but also because it would represent a huge gift to the political purpose that has brought our conventioneering guests to town. It’s nice to make nice, but that would be overdoing it.

Read Hertzberg's complete piece

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