The Road to 9/11                           Peter Dale Scott             Jan 2008
Building Red America                   Thomas B. Edsall          Jan 2008
The Shock Doctrine                       Naomi Klein                  Jan 2008
The Argument Culture                   Deborah Tannen           Jan 2008
A Clearing in the Forest                 Steven L. Winter           Jan 2008
Foxes in the Henhouse                   Steve Jarding & Dave "Mudcat" Saunders   Feb 2008

The Road to 9/11           Peter Dale Scott           Jan 2008
            Subtitled: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America

This has got to be one of the most upsetting and disgusting books that I have ever read.  In one sense it is a book in a rather old theme; bad people doing bad things.  However it is a lot more than that, it is also about good people, and mostly good people, and even a few who are even sort of good being seduced by - dare I say it, "The Dark Side."  Some of these, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton; were perhaps talked into some of their actions by legions of "advisers" but perhaps they thought that they were furthering the cause of American Democracy by carrying out some of their policies.  The author makes the convincing point that whatever their motives, the end results of their actions culminated in the 9/11 attack.  Perhaps another way of phrasing this would be to say that all of the US presidents, from Eisenhower through Bush 2, and many of their advisers, have shared a vision of making America more prosperous and safe in a sometimes scary world.  Some of their visions were aimed more directly at the largest and richest corporations and the military than others but in almost all cases the end result was the expansion of the "military and industrial complex" that Eisenhower warned us against.  

As a part of this our friends, business partners, and military partners have in general become more influential and rich and our enemies and innocent bystanders have become more and more impoverished and resentful.  More than any other book that I have read, this book details all of the steps, actors, and relevant documents that have moved us down this path.  If any specific event could be cited as the beginning of this "road to 9/11" it might be the creation of the CIA in 1947, perhaps not in its intent (debatable) but certainly in its creation of a structure that could be used by what he calls the "deep state".  That part of the state driven by top-down policy making, often by small cabals.

In brief the book discusses Nixon and Kissinger and the increase in secrecy, the Ford presidency with Rumsfeld and Cheney, Brzezinsky and his impacts on oil and Afghan policy, and Carter's reluctant giving in to Rockefeller on the Shah of Iran.  He then goes on to discuss Casey, the Iranian hostages and BCCI - the Bank of Credit and Commerce International and the links to Afghanistan and the beginnings of al Qaeda.  Then to the US with the Al-Kifah Center and the relations between al Qaeda and the US government between 1988 and 1998 including Clinton's actions.  Then on to the relationship between US agents money interests and al Qaeda agents including ali Mohamed before 9/11.  He then goes into detail about the origin of FEMA and the plans for Continuity of Government.  Many of these same people were involved in the 9/11 Commission Report and the many problems and omissions of the 9/11 report.

In his concluding chapter Scott offers a number of suggestions.  Although a times governmental secrecy does serve the national interest - it has become counterproductive.  Without frequent checks and balances secret agencies quickly strive to become a government in and of themselves.  We need to open up our government and realize that the most potent weapon that America has is a free people.  When American civilians have extensive contacts with Muslim countries the forces of Islamic terrorism will decline much faster than they will with GIs breaking down doors or firing missiles.

He refers to three strategies for political change:
  1. Unmediated or direct political change.  Breaking the link between corporations and politics.  As Gore Vidal observed, there is now "only one political party, the Property Party, with two right wings, Republican and Democrat."  He supports the concept behind MoveOn.org but doesn't feel that it will succeed by itself.  
  2. Replacing or doing away with our ailing institutions.  This is the alternative supported by many revolutionaries such as Communists or Anarchists.  This has obviously failed in the past in many instances, some, like China have caused untold suffering and we still don't know how it will end.
  3. Visionary realism or realistic Utopianism.  Developing and strengthening alternative institutions rather than breaking our old top-down institutions.  This is the vision of John Adams in a letter to Thomas Jefferson: "What do we mean by the revolution?  The War?  That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it.  The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected from 1760 to 1775, in the course of fifteen years, before a drop of blood was shed at Lexington."
He proposes a set of changes to reform or limit the deep or secret state.
  1. Recognize income disparity as a threat to the public state.
    1. Undo the recent regressive tax laws that have unduly favored the rich.
    2. End the US - IMF imposed financial rules that transfer money from smaller nations to the West.
    3. International regulations of finance to reduce the benefits of moving offshore and supranational businesses.
  2. Reform the electoral process so that the electorate thinks beyond the structures of the two main political parties.
  3. Reform our drug policies.  Our present policies have the effect of increasing the cost which makes growing and producing narcotics that much more profitable.  We need to reduce the profits to these criminal organizations and reduce the population of prisons which are prime recruitment areas for terrorists.
  4. Oppose US involvement in Iraq and the doctrine of preemptive wars in general.  
We must also have an open political approach to Islam.  Currently almost all of our interaction with Islam has been because of oil.  We are against Islam because people of that faith live on top of the oil and we want the oil.  When they object to our attempted theft we characterize them as religious terrorists.  We need to treat them as business partners, just like we would treat the British or Canadians if they were to discover a huge oil reserve in the middle of their country.  As long as we try to steal "Islamic" oil, they will react in the only way they can, "Islamic terrorism."

The 9/11 commission was created by the government that planted the seeds that came to fruition on Sept. 11.  We should not it to disclose the whole story, any more than the Warren Commission published the full story on the Kennedy assassination.  These investigations take time and when the people making the report are involved in the earlier events, their conclusions and facts are biased.  The full truth is slowly coming out in many forms (such as this book).  

There is a four page "Glossary of Open Politics" which is composed of perhaps unfamiliar words and phrases used in the context of this book.  There is an extremely complete list of notes by chapter which takes up 117 pages of fine print, a 13 page bibliography, and a 19 page index.

As a final note, this is one of those books that should be added to a data base of "bad people doing bad things,"  Although it is not really "my thing" it could be useful to be able to quickly track down the major and bit players and see what they were doing when and where.  The ability to quickly do this would be much more productive than either coming through literally hundreds of books or especially going through the millions of original documents.

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Building Red America       Thomas B. Edsall         Jan 2008
            Subtitle: The New Conservative Coalition and the Drive for Permanent Power

Another "bad people doing bad things" book, only this one doesn't have the intellectual rigor of The Road to 9/11 by Scott.  He certainly doesn't seem to understand that there is a difference between a conservative and a liberal (Strict Father vs. Nurturant Parent) in terms of moral beliefs.  He seems to see American politics as a battle between evil but technically smart calculating Republicans and good but lost in the clouds Democrats.  Everything seems to be at the same level.  He presents literally thousands of facts and figures.  But the analysis seems very surface.  It is almost like comparing the Bible, War and Peace, Mein Kampt, and Dick and Jane by the number of words.  No!  That is not the importance of these books.  They differ in many respects but number of copies printed, font, use of color, etc. is not how you evaluate them.  

My feeling is that he in more in favor of the Democratic political message than the Republican message but most of the book is filled with tales of how well the Republicans have done and how poorly the Democrats are doing it.  At times he sounds like a Republican saying "Naha, Naha, Naha, we are smarter than you!" to a Democrat.  You begin to have serious questions about who's side he is on and who he respects the more.  I personally don't believe that all Republicans are evil, I believe that they believe in a moral philosophy that I do not agree with and that the "prosperity gospel" (and Strict Father) is a poor way to raise children and run a country (world) and is grave danger of causing irreparable harm to our planet and the people who live on it.

Chapter 8, conclusion.  Michael Tomasky of the American Prospect:  "That liberalism was built around the idea -- the philosophical principle -- that citizens should be called upon to look beyond their own self-interest and work for a greater common interest." and "Liberal governance is about demanding of citizens that they balance self-interest with the common interest."  This is compared with the Republican, conservative, Christian view of the "prosperity gospel".  

There are 55 pages of notes by chapter which includes his bibliographic references and a 12 page index.

On a somewhat snide note, it may be that he just double checked much of his data at the last minute but almost all of his web references are dated May 2006, just as the book was going to press.  

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The Shock Doctrine                       Naomi Klein                  Jan 2008
            Subtitled:  The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

In brief: She doesn't like torture and the Chicago School of Economics as personified in Milton Friedman, that is pretty much the skeleton of the book.  Klein pretty well fleshes out these bones.

Introduction  Blank is Beautiful:  Three Decades of Erasing and Remaking the World  The book starts out at a Red Cross food shelter in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in Sept. 2005.  People are still dying and a Republican congressman and a developer issuing statements about our opportunity to clean up (read that as out) public housing and discussing their "opportunities".  "Uncle Miltie" sees this as an opportunity to radically reform the educational system.  Don't rebuild the public school system, replace it with a private voucher system.  Friedman and others have learned to take advantage of every disaster to implement their far right-wing policies.  This started when Pinochet staged his coup in Chile on Sept. 11, 1971 (is there a pattern here?).

She compares this plan of using civilian disasters in a similar vein to the use of "shock therapy" on prisoners that came out of the panic over Chinese "Brain Washing" during the Korean War.  

Part 1  Two Doctor Shocks: Research and Development  
C1  The Torture Lab:  Ewen Cameron, the CIA and the Maniacal Quest to Erase and Remake the Human Mind  The work of Dr. Ewen Cameron, the Canadian Psychiatrist at McGill University who worked for the CIA in the 1950's.  Roughly he believed that if you could erase all of the memories of a brain you could rebuild their personality to that of a normal person.  It didn't seem to work very well, memories (brain cells) could be destroyed, but they couldn't be recreated.  It wasn't for the lack of trying, they tried a lot - but the more they tried, the worse the people got.  

Cameron only worked directly for the CIA from 1957 through 1961 but the results of his work were still being used as late as 2006 and people in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib used these techniques from a manual code named Kubark.

C2  The Other Doctor Shock: Milton Friedman and the Search for a Laissez-Faire Laboratory  Where Dr. Cameron believed in returning the human mind to a pristine state, Dr. Friedman dreamed of depatterning societies, returning them to a state of pure capitalism, cleansed of all government regulations.  Friedman seemed to have the same sensitivities to peoples welfare as Dr. Cameron.  

A brief history of the Chicago School in the Friedman era.  A major effort was made to recruit students from South America and especially Chile. American businesses were heavily invested in South America and they looked to Washington and the Republicans to make the region safe for US industrial control.  

At this same time similar activities were occurring in Indonesia.  The US, pushed by industries and using the CIA, played a major part in the revolutions led by Pinochet and Suharto.  Economist trained by the Chicago School played a major part in the planning of these revolutions.  

Part 2  The First Test: Birth Pangs    
C3  States of Shock: The Bloody Birth of the Counterrevolution  A brief discussion of the history of the coup in Chile, the part played by the Chicago school, and similar actions in other parts of South America.  

C4  Cleaning the Slate: Terror Does Its Work  The killing of Orlando Letelier in Washington DC on Sept 21, 1976.  The use of torture in Chile and other countries of South America.  

C5  "Entirely Unrelated": How an Ideology was Cleansed of Its Crimes  Friedman either could not understand or refused to admit that his ideas cause pain and suffering.  More on torture and privation.  Amnesty International and their reporting on Chile and South America.

Part 3  Surviving Democracy: Bombs Made of Laws  
C6  Saved by a War: Thatcherism and Its Useful Enemies  Friedman's ideas were being tried in South America but they were under attack.  Nixon and Reagan liked the concept but both realized that they could not be sold in the US.  Thatcher in England was also a believer but she knew that they could not be sold to her electorate.  Then Argentina attacked the Falklands.  This was a foolish and short lived attempt.  But it did give Thatcher the ability to push her Friedman derived ideas.  She was able to break the resistance of the coal miners and the rest of her "economic reforms" were passed.  This was the first instance of Chicago school policies being used without a military coup.

C7  The New Doctor Shock: Economic Welfare Replaces Dictatorship  Bolivia  and the economic ideas of Jeffrey Sachs.  Klein doesn't much like Sachs either.  Her description of his ideas is not quite as clear as she was with Friedman.  Again, Reagan pushed for the reduction of coca which caused an economic depression which in tern resulted in severe inflation.  Sachs was invited in to help solve Bolivia's problems.  Klein didn't like his solutions.  

C8  Crisis Works: The Packaging of Shock Therapy  Sachs demonstrated that an economic shock could be used to push through programs that would be politically impossible under normal circumstances.  Chicago school people looked at hyperinflation as an opportunity to be seized, Sachs looked at hyperinflation as a problem to be solved.

Argentina, monetary policy, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Chicago school students.  How to use shock to sneak in unpopular policies.  

Part 4  Lost in Transition: While We Wept, While We Trembled, While We Danced
C9  Slamming the Door on History: A Crisis in Poland, a Massacre in China  Poland: Solidarity and Sachs again.  Again Klein doesn't like the solution.  My question, was there a better one?  Certainly many people suffered, could there have been a solution that would have caused less harm?  Who knows.

China, the late 1980's, Tiananmen Square.  It was not Communism being protected by the government at that time, it was capitalism.  Shock therapy works in China.

C10  Democracy Born in Chains:  South Africa's Constricted Freedom  South Africa won it's political freedom, but the economic freedom was lost in the process.

C11  Bonfire of a Young Democracy: Russia Chooses "The Pinochet Option"  Many nasty comments on economics and its effect on the transformation of Communist Russia to Capitalist Russia.

C12  The Capitalist Id: Russia and the New Era of the Boor Market  Russia: "Too much shock, not enough therapy"  Sachs' problem with Russia is that he proposed about 30 billion in aid, he as much as promised that to Yeltsin but he has misread the mood in Washington and the IMF - they would not give the aid.  On Jan 13, 1993 Sachs gave a talk in Washington DC to explain the problems or Russia.  They weren't interested, they wanted to buy Russia at cut rate prices.  They won.  A description of Davidson Budhoo, an IMF staffer who resigned and turned whistle blower.

C13  Let It Burn: The Looting of Asia and "The Fall of a Second Berlin Wall"  How the IMF created the collapse of the Asian Tigers and created a windfall for themselves and their friends.

Part 5  Shocking Times: The Rise of the Disaster Capitalism Complex  
C 14  Shock Therapy in the U.S.A.: The Homeland Security Bubble  Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and his attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 10, 2001.  Rumsfeld and his war against the Pentagon.  The privatization of the Defense Department.  The rise of the security industry.

C15  A Corporatist State: Removing the Revolving Door, Putting in an Archway  The transfer of control of the instruments of government to the private sector.  Many of the top executives and consultants in Washington were representing their own finances instead of the United States during the Bush II administration.

Part 6  Iraq, Full Circle: Overshock  
C 16  Erasing Iraq: In Search of a "Model" for the Middle East  Her personal experiences in Iraq.  How the message from Dr. Cameron on destroying a person were taken to heart and used in Iraq.

C17  Ideological Blowback:  A Very Capitalist Disaster  Why was there a war in Iraq.  How the "shock" was used to conceal from the Iraqis the US plan to convert the oil resources of their country to a private windfall for US companies.  Why the looting of museums was used as a means of destruction of the national identity of the nation.  How Bremer turned 500,000 state workers including soldiers, doctors, nurses, teachers, and engineers into terrorists. And more besides.

C18  Full Circle: From Blank Slate to Scorched Earth  Paul Bremer certainly knew that there were risks involved in forcing free trade on a society, he had warned of this in a policy paper in Nov. 2001.  Was he just relying on shock to blind the Iraqis to the process?  Before Bremer came to Iraq the military was putting in place a procedure to begin the process of self governance.  He almost immediately stopped all of these initiatives.  It was only after Bremer's plans were starting to be implemented that most Iraqis became negative.  Al-Sadr began recruiting an army.  

Most war crimes occur in the early stages of an invasion.  That did not happen in Iraq, things started out professional and the abuses at Abu Ghraib began in Aug 14, 2003 - four months after the fall of Baghdad.  This was after Bremer had been in charge for several months, many of his political rules were in place, and resistance began to rise.  The original shock hadn't worked and now they were trying out the personal shock of the Kubark manual.  Descriptions of the types of torture used and how they compared with that used in Chile and other South American countries.  

The growth of mercenaries in Iraq.  At the beginning of the Iraq war there were approximately 10,000 mercenaries.  Three years later the Government Accountability Office reported 48,000 mercenaries in Iraq.  In addition many were hired to fulfill usual military duties, for example prisoner interrogation.  The main beneficiaries were companies like Cheney's Halliburton and Blackwater.  Many returning injured soldiers were "privatized out" to for-profit medical contractors.

In the Gulf War of 1991 there was 1 private contractor for every 100 soldiers.  At the beginning of the Iraq war there was 1 for every 10 soldiers.  At the end of three years the ratio was 1 to 3 soldiers, at 4 years there was 1 contractor for every 1.4 soldiers.  And that only includes those working directly for the US Government, not other governments or the Iraqi government.  The UN budget for peacekeeping in 2006-2007 was $5.25 billion.  For that period alone the contracts with Halliburton totaled $20 billion.  The War in Iraq has been a tremendous success - for the private companies.

Part 7  The Movable Green Zone: Buffer Zones and Blast Walls  
C19  Blanking the Beach: "The Second Tsunami"  In July of 2005 Klein traveled to Sri Lanka to view the disaster caused by the Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami in that part of the world.  The "shock doctrine" opportunists had taken the opportunity to perform massive ethnic cleansing of the prime commercial properties.  For years they had been coveting the coastal areas which were the property, residences, and bases for the local fishing populations.  Many of these areas had been cleared of houses, ports, businesses, etc. belonging to the locals and before the locals had recovered from the loss of life, homes, and businesses the international developers had moved in and staked out much of the ocean front land.  They put up fences and posted armed guards to keep out the "destructive activists" who wanted to search for missing family members, bury their dead, and begin rebuilding their lives.  

Several countries were caught up in this land grab including Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Maldives, Indonesia, and India to a more limited extent.

C20  Disaster Apartheid:  A World of Green Zones and Red Zones  While in New Orleans in Sept. 2005 covering Katrina she was involved in an auto accident.  She had been in some of the destroyed hospitals and she was terrified to be taken there.  She went to a private hospital, Ochsner Medical Center.  It was wonderful.  Then she talked to a young intern if he had been to any of the public (Black) hospitals, he had never thought of it.  This graduate of a private medical school, interning in a private hospital had never thought of the vast majority of the citizens of New Orleans, many of whom were still dying in all but abandoned public hospitals.  He, and many others, had been trained not to even consider these people and their needs.  

She details a very few of the cases where contractors, mainly big donors to the Bush Campaigns, were given very large no-bid contracts to "renovate New Orleans".  One specific example.  a company was paid by FEMA $175 per square foot to install blue tarps on damaged roofs.  The blue tarps were provided by the government.  The work was subcontracted out to smaller contractors who actually had the necessary tools.  The workers in many cases were paid as little as $2 per square foot.

She discusses the relationships between the Iraq "Green Zone" construction and Katrina relief.  She also comments on how the "disaster industry" and the "protection industry" are making more and more inroads into the governing of America.

C21  Losing the Peace Incentive: Israel as Warning  The Davos Dilemma.  Named after the 2007 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  For decades it had been a given that war and disaster was a drain on the global economy.  But it wasn't working any more.  The world was going to hell, no stability in sight, and the global economy was roaring.  One measure had been the "guns-to-caviar index", the comparison of sales of fighter jets(guns) to the sales of executive jets (caviar).  Generally when fighter jets went up, executive jets went down and visa-versa.  But both fighter jet sales were up and executive jet sales were up.  What was going on?  Several pages of discussion of economic markers and war and disaster aftermath.

In the very early 1990's it looked like there was a very good chance of peace between Israel and its neighbors.  Then it all went wrong,  Russia imploded and in 1993 alone about 600,000 Jews emigrated from Russia to Israel.  Laborers, who in large part come from Palestinian camps were no longer needed in Israel, the borders were sealed, and the newly immigrant people from Russia were put to work and were settled in border villages.  Israeli industrialists and politicians realized they they had considerable experience in fighting terrorism and began building companies based on terrorism consulting and the selling of high tech security equipment.  Israel no longer needed cheap labor as it could export high priced talent and expensive security equipment.  

She has a long list of major security initiatives in the US and elsewhere that were supported by Israeli expertise and equipment.  

Conclusion Shock Wears Off: The Rise of the People's Reconstruction  After 442 pages of bad news she ends the book with 24 pages of good news.  She covers the death of Milton Friedman and Augusto Pinochet.  Pinochet had been arrested and was awaiting trial when he died and others in  Chile and other South American countries had been deposed or arrested.  Many Russians have been arrested.  Some in the US including Conrad Black and Ken Lay faced charges.  Many Americans are becoming more dissatisfied with conservitive politics.

Several South American country have forcibly rejected imperialist ideas.  France and the Netherlands have rejected the European Constitution.  Poland and Russia have have had major policy reversals.  Are all of these results ideal? NO!  But they are better than the earlier alternatives.  She sees the most hope for progress in the democracies of South and Central America.  The main lesson that the South Americans have learned is to be aware of the need for protection against the shock treatment they have received in the past.  They are trying to be less centralized with the dispersal of power.  The power of the IMF has been drastically reduced.  In 2005 Latin America made up 80% of the IMF's total lending portfolio, in 2007 this was only 1%.  In 3 years the total IMF lending portfolio shrunk from $81 billion to $11.8 billion, most of that in Turkey.  

Workers rights rural resource, health care, and education issues are even becoming very important in China.  

One factor that was even mentioned in the Kubark Manual, if the people being tortured (shocked) are not totally isolated, they will begin to infect or vaccinate those around them.  If those being shocked are aware of what is going on they can still be physically hurt, but they become resistant to the psychological damage.  They become shock resistant.  An example of this is Lebanon in January 2007.  After the Israeli attacks of 2006 they were devastated.  The western powers offered $7.6 billion in aid if the normal conditions were met, phone and electricity privatization, price increases on fuel, public service cuts, and more taxes on consumer purchases.  The Lebanese government agreed, the Lebanese people did not.  Similar events happened in Spain and in Thailand.  

There are 60 pages of notes by chapter, 7 pages if acknowledgments, and 33 pages of index.

Via Common Dreams and published there on June 21, 2017 Published on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 by YES! Magazine

Naomi Klein Pushes Us to Dream Big to Get Beyond Trump’s Shock Politics The activist’s new book challenges the pessimism that sets in when we think radical change is politically impossible. But it misses something big. by Robert Jensen

“Klein, one of the most prominent and insightful leftist writers in North America for two decades, analyzes how Trump’s ‘genius’ for branding, magnified by his reality TV success, carried him to the White House.” Naomi Klein understands that President Donald J. Trump is a problem, but he is not the problem.

Klein’s book does not stop with an analysis of the crises.

In her new book, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, Klein reminds us to pay attention not only to the style in which Trump governs (a multi-ring circus so routinely corrupt and corrosive that anti-democratic practices seem normal), but in whose interests he governs (the wealthy, those he believes to be the rightful winners in the capitalist cage match), while recognizing the historical forces that make his administration possible (decades of market-fundamentalist/neoliberal rejection of the idea of a collective good).

Klein, one of the most prominent and insightful leftist writers in North America for two decades, analyzes how Trump’s “genius” for branding, magnified by his reality TV success, carried him to the White House. But while we may have been shocked by the election of Trump—not just another celebrity, but the ultimate “hollow brand” that adds no tangible value to society—she argues that we should not have been surprised.

Trump is not a rupture at all, but rather the culmination—the logical endpoint—of a great many dangerous stories our culture has been telling for a very long time. That greed is good. That the market rules. That money is what matters in life. That white men are better than the rest. That the natural world is there for us to pillage. That the vulnerable deserve their fate and the 1 percent deserve their golden towers. That anything public or commonly held is sinister and not worth protecting. That we are surrounded by danger and should only look after our own. That there is no alternative to any of this.

Underneath all these pathologies, Klein explains, is “a dominance-based logic that treats so many people, and the earth itself, as disposable,” which gives rise to “a system based on limitless taking and extracting, on maximum grabbing” that “treats people and the earth either like resources to be mined to their limits or as garbage to be disposed of far out of sight, whether deep in the ocean or deep in a prison cell.”

In addition to the “no” to the existing order, there must be a “yes” to other values.

Klein’s book does not stop with an analysis of the crises. She outlines a resistance politics that not only rejects this domination/subordination dynamic, but proceeds “with care and consent, rather than extractively and through force.” In addition to the “no” to the existing order, there must be a “yes” to other values, which she illustrates with the story behind the 2015 Leap Manifesto (“A Call for a Canada Based on Caring for the Earth and One Another”) that she helped draft.

Klein believes the expansive possibilities of those many yeses are visible in Bernie Sanders’ campaign and others like it around the world.

Near the end of the book she lists ideas already on the table: “free college tuition, double the minimum wage, 100 percent renewable energy as quickly as technology allows, demilitarize the police, prisons are no place for young people, refugees are welcome here, war makes us less safe.” She goes on to identify more ambitious programs and policies: “Reparations for slavery and colonialism? A Marshall Plan to fight violence against women? Prison abolition? Democratic worker co-ops as the centerpiece of a green jobs program? An abandonment of ‘growth’ as a measure of progress? Why not?”

Klein is not naïve about what it will take to achieve these goals but stresses the possibilities: “there is reason to believe that many of the relationships being built in these early days [of the Trump administration] will be strong enough to counter the fear that inevitably sets in during a state of emergency.” The 2008 financial crisis created opportunities for more radical change.

Recognizing that the 2008 financial crisis created opportunities for more radical change that were lost not only because of the Obama administration’s cautious, centrist approach but because of progressive movements’ timidity, she reminds us that the most important changes in the past (expansions of justice and freedom post-Civil War, during the New Deal, and in the 1960s and ’70s) “were responses to crises that unfolded in times when people dared to dream big, out loud, in public—explosions of utopian imagination.”

Klein is right to challenge the pessimism that so easily sets in when we capitulate to the idea that radical change is politically impossible because of the success of decades of right-wing propaganda and organizing in the United States. Politics is a human enterprise, and therefore humans can change it. Utopian thinking in these realms is to be encouraged, as movements build the capacity to move us toward those goals.

My only critique of Klein’s book—and it is not a minor point—is that while reminding us not to accept artificial, self-imposed limits on social/economic/political fronts, it glosses over the much different reality of the biophysical limits we must work within. Klein’s 2014 book on climate change demonstrated how thoroughly she understands what my late friend Jim Koplin called the “multiple, cascading ecological crises” of our time.

But what are the implications of facing those crises?

Go back to Klein’s list of programs, which includes “100 percent renewable energy as quickly as technology allows,” alongside such goals as free tuition and a doubled minimum wage. These are very different kinds of projects that shouldn’t be conflated. By building a stronger left/progressive movement, greater equity in higher education and fairer wages could be won. But much more difficult challenges are hidden in “100 percent renewable energy.”

No combination of renewable resources is going to power the world in which we now live.

First, and most painful, is the recognition that no combination of renewable resources is going to power the world in which we now live—7.4 billion people, many living at some level of developed world affluence. That doesn’t just mean the end of luxury lifestyles of the rich and famous, nor just the end of middle-class amenities such as routine air conditioning, cheap jet air travel, and fresh fruits and vegetables from the other side of the world. We are going to have to face giving up what we have come to believe we “need” to survive, what Wallace Stegner once termed “things that once possessed could not be done without.” If you have trouble imagining an example, look around at the people poking at their “smart” phones or walk into a grocery store and survey the endless aisles of food kept “cheap” by fossil fuel inputs.

If we give up techno-utopian dreams of endless clean energy forever, we face a harsh question: How many people can the Earth support in a sustainable fashion, living at what level of consumption?

There is no magic algorithm to answer that question. Everyone’s response will be a mix of evidence, hunches, and theology (defined not as claims about God but ideas about what it means to be human, to live a good life). I’m not confident that I have an inside track on this, but I’m fairly sure that the answer is a lot fewer people than there are now, living at much lower levels of consumption.

There are biophysical limits that we can’t wish away because they are inconvenient, and they limit our social/political/economic options. Those realities include not only global warming, but also an array of phenomena, all interconnected: accelerating extinction of species and reduction of biodiversity; overexploitation of resources (through logging, hunting, fishing) and agricultural activities (farming, livestock, timber plantations, aquaculture), including the crucial problem of soil erosion; increase in sea levels threatening coastal areas; acidification of the ocean; and amplified, less predictable threats from wildfires, floods, droughts, and heat waves.

We are no longer talking about localized environmental degradation but global tipping points we may have already reached and some planetary boundaries that have been breached. The news is bad, getting worse, and getting worse faster than most scientists had predicted.

We have to think about what kind of human presence ecosystems can sustain.

The goal of traditional left politics—sometimes explicitly, often implicitly—has been to bring more people into the affluence of the developed world, with the contemporary green version imagining this will happen magically through solar panels and wind turbines for all. Honest ecological evaluations indicate that in addition to the core left/progressive goal of equity within the human family, we have to think about what kind of human presence ecosystems can sustain.

A simple example, but one that is rarely discussed: A national health insurance program that equalizes access to treatment is needed, but what level of high-tech medicine will we be able to provide in a lower-energy world? That question requires a deeper conversation that we have not yet had about what defines a good life and what kinds of life-extending treatment now seen as routine in the developed world will not be feasible in the future. Instead of rationing health care by wealth, a decent society should make these difficult decisions collectively, and this kind of ethical rationing will require blunt, honest conversations about limits.

Here’s another example: Increasing the amount of organic food grown on farms using few or no petrochemical inputs is needed, but that style of agriculture will require many to return to a countryside that has been depopulated by industrial agriculture and consumer culture. If we are to increase what Wes Jackson and Wendell Berry call “the eyes-to-acres ratio”—more farmers available to do the work necessary to take better care of the land—how will we collectively make the decisions needed in moving people from cosmopolitan cities, which young people tend to find attractive, to rural communities that may seem less exciting to many?

The best we can say about the fate of the human species is “maybe.”

My point is not that I have answers but that we have yet to explore these questions in any meaningful depth, and the ecosphere is going to force them on us whether or not we are ready. If we leave such questions to be answered by the mainstream culture—within the existing distributions of wealth and power, based on that logic of domination/subordination—the outcomes will be unjust and inhumane. We need to continue left/progressive organizing in response to contemporary injustices, not only for the short-term progress that can be made to strengthen communities and protect vulnerable people, but also to build networks and capacities to face what’s coming.

To ignore the ecological realities that make these questions relevant is not hope, but folly; not to incorporate biophysical limits into our organizing is to guarantee failure. Until we can acknowledge the inevitability of this kind of transition—which will be unlike anything we’ve faced in human history—we cannot plan for it. And we cannot acknowledge that it’s coming without a shared commitment not only to hope, but grief. What lies ahead—coming in a time frame no one can predict, but coming—will be an unprecedented challenge for humans, and we are not ready.

Saying no to the pathological domination/subordination dynamic at the heart of the dominant culture is the starting point. Then we say yes to the capacity for caring collaboration that we yearn for. But we also must accept that the systems of the larger living world—the physics and chemistry of the ecosphere—set the boundaries within which we say no and yes.

No one can predict when or how this will play out, but at this moment in history, the best we can say about the fate of the human species is “maybe.”

We must dare to dream big, and we must face our nightmares.

We have a chance for some kind of decent human future, if we can face the challenges honestly: How do we hold on to the best of our human nature (that striving for connection) in the face of existing systems that glorify the worst (individual greed and human cruelty)? All that we dream is not possible, but something better than what we have created certainly is within our reach. We should stop fussing about hope, which seduces too many to turn away from difficult realities. Let’s embrace the joy that always exists in the possible, and also embrace the grief in what is not.

We must dare to dream big, and we must face our nightmares.

As I tell my students over and over, reasonable people with shared values can disagree, and friends and allies often disagree with my assessment of the ecological crises. So, let’s start with points of agreement: We must say no not only to Trump and the reactionary politics of the Republican Party, but no to the tepid liberal/centrist politics of the Democratic Party. And we must push the platform of the social democratic campaigns of folks like Sanders toward deeper critiques of capitalism, developed world imperialism, white supremacy, and patriarchy.

But all of that work will be undermined if we cannot recognize that remaking the world based on principles of care is limited by the biophysical realities on the planet, an ecosphere we have desecrated for so long that some options once available to us are gone, desecration that cannot magically be fixed by a technological fundamentalism that only compounds problems with false promises of salvation through gadgets.

No is not enough. But yes is not enough, either. Our fate lies in the joy and grief of maybe.

This article was written for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. He is the author of Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialogue (City Lights, 2013); All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice, (Soft Skull Press, 2009); Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity; The Heart of Whiteness: Race, Racism, and White Privilege; Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity; and Writing Dissent: Taking Radical Ideas from the Margins to the Mainstream (Peter Lang). Jensen is also co-producer of the documentary film “Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing” (Media Education Foundation, 2009), which chronicles the life and philosophy of the longtime radical activist. An extended interview Jensen conducted with Osheroff is available here.

He can be reached at rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu and his articles can be found online here. Return to   Top Directory      Main Directory File

The Argument Culture                   Deborah Tannen           Jan 2008
            Subtitle:  Moving from Debate to Dialogue

C1  Fighting for Our Lives   Why do we see (almost) every disagreement or difference of opinion as an argument, a war between two (and only two) competing sides?  Is everything a war - on drugs, on cancer, the battle of the sexes, etc.?  Why can't we discuss the issue from multiple backgrounds and feeling, gain from the exchange, and come to a conclusion that most of us can accept as better than the current?

The author's interest in this topic began with the publication of her book, You Just Don't Understand, a book about communication between women and men.  While most of her reviews and interviews were balanced and fair some were laced with controversy, there were a number that focused primarily on controversy and attacks.  When she asked one reviewer who had attacked her for a statement who had misrepresented a point she had made, the answer was, "It's an argument!"  The reviewer felt that she would get more readers if she made it out to be an argument, a controversy.  She makes the point that sometimes violent argument and conflict is necessary - but most often such tactics just make for ill feelings and reduce the possibility of a friendly solution.

Interesting experimental result, Paul Ekman set up an experiment where people talked about various topics, some of these were true statements, some were not. This was tried first on the general public and then when the results showed that most people were very poor at picking out liars, he tried it on professionals who are trained and whose jobs require them to determine who is a liar and who is not.  With the exception of one group, members of the U. S. Secret Service, other groups scored no better than chance.  These included judges, lawyers, police, psychotherapist and employees of the CIA, FBI, and ATF.  

Are there really two sides to every issue?  Some issues are just plain facts, giving credence to the other side is listening to the murderers, rapists, con-men etc.  The press is often viewed as one of the main problems, they are but often they are the ones called on to report what has happened so they are exposed all of the time.  This is not to say that many aren't serious offenders but they are sometimes pushed into it.  

We need to end the automatic assumption of a "battle" between one side and another, sometimes there truly is, but sometimes there is (or should be) an honest discussion of the issue without rancor.

C2  Both Sides Come Out Fighting: The Argument Culture and the Press  Many examples of "war" terminology in the newspaper, television, and magazine cultures.  Why do many reporters and editors think that to be interesting an item must include controversy.  Often the press only covers the small part of a talk or discussion that involves controversy.  Recent explicit example, in the recent (to me) South Carolina Democratic debate, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards talked for over an hour but the television reported only the 5 or 10 minuted part where Clinton and Obama had a protracted argument-debate.  The rest of the debate was ignored.

Another point is that often guests are invited only because they can be counted on to make a good "show" but really don't have anything to add to the conversation other than shouting.  Sometimes where there is only one side, for example the Holocaust, the press feels that it has to invent another side to be complete and "fair".  The First Amendment says that the government shall not suppress speech, anybody can say what they want, it does not require the press to report or disseminate outrageous views.  Another technique that the press often falls for is that if often allows groups to invent a controversy and then demands that they be heard to "debate the issue."  This is very common in the "debate" over global warming.  The oil and coal companies virtually invented the scientific opposition to global warming but the press never called them on it because they were "fairly covering both sides."

The rule for sports announcers, "It's not how you play the game but whether you win or lose."

C3  From Lapdog to Attack Dog: The Aggression Culture and the Press
 Joke about Clinton during his first term as President:  "The president went on a fishing trip with members of the press corps.  After their boat left shore, the president realized he had left his tackle on the dock, so he stepped off the boat, walked to shore, picked up his tackle, and walked back over the surface of the water.  The next day's headline read, 'CLINTON CAN'T SWIM'."

During the Kennedy administration the press generally listened to the president and reported his statements as facts - sort of like a lapdog.  When Watergate hit, many of todays reporters were in college and are now modeling themselves on Woodward and Bernstein, they all want to bring down a president - or other elected official.  They are acting more like Attack Dogs.  When the press only wants to cover scandals they are ignoring their responsibility to cover the real news of governing which is often not all that exciting.  

When the press attacks people with whom they disagree that is one thing, but when they attack everyone in power just to cause attention to be focused on themselves or their employer that is quite a different thing.  She uses a term, complementary schismogenesis, which could be defined as a mutually aggravating spiral.  The press is angry at the president for not being instantly available and using them and the president (and staff) gets angry at the press for picking on every small failing and reporting it in disgusting detail.  Another problem is that speechwriters know that speeches are reported in sound bites, so they try to construct speeches that can easily be reported as sound bites.  This means that complex issues tend not to get put into speeches because they are harder to phrase into sound bites.

The press thrives on controversy.  When a politician tries to moderate the discussion, to come to a compromise, many in the press attempt to generate combative sound bites so that a controversy which sells more papers can be generated.  Many stories of public officials who quit rather than face the hostility of the press.  This causes the very real problem of good people not wanting to take high office because of the unrelenting pressure they are under.  Problems with the press and media attacking people,  one study reported that many of the same terms used by Nazi's to refer to Jews were used by right-wing talk show hosts.

Is journalists obsession with negative news serving them?  There is evidence to suggest that many of the problems with newspapers loosing readers and TV loosing viewers is related to people getting disgusted with press negativity.  She raises the question, is a dog that is busy attacking really doing that good of a job of watching?  We certainly don't want the press to be lapdogs, and we really don't want insensitive attack dogs, but we do need good watchdogs.  Most of the public wants the press to be aggressive, but not to display misplaced aggression.  Too many in the press are taking the easy way out and criticizing personal characteristics of politicians and not enough time is spent on researching stories that do reflect serious wrongdoing.  

C4  "A Plague on Both Your Houses!": Opposition in Our Political Lives  In 1996 something unexpected happened, 14 US Senators decided not to seek reelection.  This is the most ever, almost three times the normal.  In a collection of essays by 13 of them a common theme running through them was a "lament the increasing level of vituperation and partisanship."  These relentless attacks on our legislators and the president are interfering with their work in governing our country.  

Another example is the definition of the term compromise.  One is negative as in a compromised immune system - the other is come to an agreement.  Too much use of the negative is used.  Another problem is the whole primary process.  We force our candidates to declare very early and then we force them to fight it out within each party.  By the time the candidates are nominated they are beaten down and "dirty" tactics seem normal.  Many more examples of harmful tactics.

C5  "Litigation Is War"  Our legal system isn't about truth, it's about winning.  It operates by putting two sides against each other and letting them fight it out in public.  In other legal systems, French and German for example, fact gathering is controlled by the judge, not the attorneys.  Our system pushes lawyers to overstate their claims.  The English distinguish between barristers, who are trial lawyers, and solicitors, who do all the other tasks.  When we combine the two tasks lawyers tend to confuse the roles and treat every problem as a fight.

When she was writing a book on working environments she also did some consulting for them.  Generally when she talked directly to the company leaders themselves, she and they could come to an agreement, sometimes she was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement but it all worked out.  When company lawyers took over the negotiations, the prices went up, as she was forced to hire a lawyer and several times an agreement could not be agreed to at all.  The lawyers stopped anything from happening.  

She describes several court cases, a rape case and a Holocaust case, where lawyers attempted to deny justice.  A lengthy discussion of some of the problems involved in taking a case before a court.  Lawyers are reporting rising levels of stress related to their jobs.

C6  Boys Will Be Boys:  Gender and Opposition  Three cautions:  1) None of what is said is an accusation, it is simply an exploration of the differences between man and women and the purposes fighting and aggression serves for boys and men. 2) Patterns are not norms, there are wide ranges of variability within both men and women. 3) Male-female polarity, while real are both ends of a continuum.  They overlap and both sexes show aspects of the "other".  However the words are used differently for men and women.  "Aggressive" has different connotations when applied to a man or a woman.  (In all cases, "men and women" includes "boys and girls")

Small children tend to group themselves into same sex play groups.  Girls tend to sit and talk a lot, boys tend to run and roughhouse and play with pretend or play weapons.  Girls think boys play to rough, boys think that girls are boring.  Girls disputes tend to be verbal, boys disputes tend to be physical.  Often when boys try to involve girls in their play the girls object that the boys are bullies.  Neither group understands the others play desires and thinks that the other is being mean.  Again, girls are more commonly verbal and boys are most commonly physical.  

Adolescent boys are seldom violently physical but some mock punching is common.  Playful insults (mock verbal attacks) are common.  Adolescent girls quite often misinterpret this and take them for real fights.  They will also share mild insults, but much more carefully.  She implies that young womens insults and arguments are more related to their culture than young mens are.

Men find friendship in shared experience, women find friendship in shared intimacy.  In all cultures men tend to exhibit more aggression than women.  Men very commonly use ritual opposition whereas if women use it at all it is very mild.  However if the problem is real, for example the safety of a child, women can be very aggressive, they just don't get pleasure out of fighting for its own sake.  
The difference between computer games for boys vs. computer games for girls.  The very act of speaking in public is seen as a masculine act.  It was only in the last several hundred years that women were allowed to have any public life at all.  Women were only allowed to read the Bible in private or to their children.  Girls even now tend to hide their conflicts whereas boys make it a performance.  Aggressive behavior tends to negotiate status.  Some observations suggest that men loose some of their overt aggression around the age of 35.

C7  What Other Ways Are There?: Listing to Other Cultures  A woman who grew up in New York moved to the Netherlands - she was seen as too confrontational - in Israel she was seen as to wishy-washy.  People from Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, Armenia, Africa, South America, and others enjoy bantering opposition.  Those from India and Sri Lanka are confrontational,  in Bali definitely not.  Many stories of encounters between people of different cultures.  All cultures have signals when a discussion - argument is getting out of control but outsiders, and even insiders when the culture is changing, often fail to recognize these stopping points.  

Some cultures, she uses the Japanese as an example do not divide the world up into rigid categories.  For example they are very happy with being both Buddhist and Shinto while at the same time a western religion such as Catholicism.  The Ying - Yang dualism of China where each contains within itself a small part of the other and the acceptance if not the reverence for the berdach or both sexed individuals in the Zuni and Navaho groups.  Japan has a long history of acceptance for losers, they loose some, but not all, definitely not "Winner take All".  Should disputes be settled between the two people involved or should their friends take an active part?  This problem and its many variants is address in many different manners.  

Ritual fighting:  She describes cockfighting on Bali and sheep rustling in Crete.  These have both been banned by the government but they still persist because they are part of a male ritual and play an important part of keeping their society together.  She describes in detail the "Hold Me Coat!" ritual among the men in Irish villages.  Two men would begin arguing and when it had escalated to a critical point they would call out "Hold Me Coat!" and start taking their coat off.  Then their friends would trap their arms behind them.  They would scream something like, "Let me go, I'm going to kill him!'  Then their mothers or other female relative would come up and tell them that they were needed at home so stop this fighting.  Each would then complain that the other was lucky that his mother had come and of course he could not refuse her.  Then both they and the rest of the town would discuss the big fight for days, enjoying every minute of it.  Unfortunately this ritual broke down and actual fighting occurred when they move to big cities to work and had no support group.

Ritual Strikes:  She describes ritual labor disputes in Japan where workers and management yell at each other while the negotiating group is busy settling the issue in private and relative harmony.  I was involved in such a strike at the Bunker Hill mine and mill in Kellogg, Idaho in 1973.  It was just exactly as she explains

Ritual Killing of the King:  Examples from Africa.  In one case men gather around their leader, heap scorn on him, threaten him, and then everything goes back to normal.  In the other case after the leader is selected the men attack him, he is symbolically struck on the head, falls down dead, given a funeral, and is reborn with his new status.  He is then treated to a ritual display of support.  We just haven't learned to not guarantee our losers a part of the action and then to stop "killing" our leaders.

C8  Fast Forward: Technologically Enhanced Aggression  Email can pull people together but it can also generate flame wars.  Each new technological change has the capability of doing the same thing.  Face to face communication involves numerous little cues to the other person about how the message is being received.  One way communications (email, memo's, letters, phone messages) do not have this capability and problems are likely to occur.  

Throughout WW II and in most wars before that most of the men on the battlefield did not actually fire their weapons at the enemy.  In Vietnam this change dramatically.  The military used operant conditioning to desensitize American soldiers to the normal resistance to killing another person.  This boosted the rate up to 90 - 95%.  This is the same sort of "training" many children receive when playing video games.  Police departments use this same sort of training.  She compares this to the enhanced hostility of journalists.  

A comparison of email lists between man and women.  Here again men were more aggressive and women were more sensitive about publishing attack comments. 

C9  The Roots of Debate in Education and the Hope of Dialogue  Comments on the culture of education.  Chinese, based on observation and experience and marked by harmony.  Western, most goes back to Plato and Aristotle.  Logic is the only trustworthy source for human judgment, emotions just get in the way.  Early Christian Monks became the method of passing down information.  Many had been soldiers and saw themselves as God's warriors.  When they taught they used a military frame of reference.  In the Middle Ages, young man (never women) were raised in a very combative environment, when in the town they acted like marauding soldiers.  This high degree of competitiveness is still a large part of our culture in education.  

She discusses how the male / female aggression difference effects classroom response.  An academic quote, "If you can't find something bad to say, don't say anything."  "One reason the argument culture is so widespread is that arguing is so easy to do."  In a study of mental retardation, some residents who had severe language language and comprehensions were able to take part in verbal disputes, because arguments have a predictable structure.  They were much less able to participate in other verbal activities.  

Peter Elbow calls this "the doubting game",  educators are trained to look for what is wrong, the press tries to find an inconsistency in an office holder, lawyers look for problems in testimony.  "It is an attorney's job to discredit opposing witnesses, but is it a scholar's job to approach colleagues like an opposing attorney?"  Elbow recommends that you read a body of work as though you believe it and then go back and evaluate it.  Don't stop doubting, but stop doubting exclusively.  The original Socratic method was designed to jar others out of their habitual mode of thought.  By always attacking we just force someone to justify their statements.  If they "loose" the argument they often attribute their loss to poor performance or unfair tactics.  

Is forcing dichotomies on everything the best way?  Is debate the best way to achieve the truth.  Mary Bateson. an anthropologist, makes a point on asking her students to compare three cultures, not two.  If students compare two the are inclined to polarize them, if they compare three they are more likely to think about the cultures on their own terms.  We should talk about "all sides" of an issue instead of "both sides".  The Diane Rehm Show on  NPR often will have three guests instead of two so when one makes an outrageous statement the two can gang up on the statement instead of getting into a two person argument.  

In his The New Golden Rule, Amitai Etzioni proposed these rules:

It is often believed that confrontation builds sales.  But the National Geographic is very non-confrontational and it has been one of the best selling magazines for many years.  

The book has 14 pages of notes by chapter, 11 pages of references, 10 pages of index, and 2 pages of permissions.

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A Clearing in the Forest                 Steven L. Winter           Jan 2008
            Subtitled:  Law, Life, and Mind

This is a book by a law professor for other law professors, law students, and those who care enough about the underlying philosophy of law to read and right books on the subject.  Unfortunately my name did not appear on this list.  After reading the preface and the first chapter I determined that they left out my name on purpose.  It does use many of the terms that I am interested in, embodiment, metaphor, radial categories, and more but it applies them more or less strictly to law and the philosophy of law.  He refers a lot to Lakoff and Johnson (of Philosophy in the Flesh and others.)  I prefer to limit my dealings with the law to minor speeding tickets and the fewer the better.  If I have the need I will consult a lawyer.  Until then I will put off the rest of the book.

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Foxes in the Henhouse        Steve Jarding & Dave "Mudcat" Saunders   Feb 2008
Subtitled: How the Republicans Stole the South and the Heartland and What the Democrats Must Do to Run 'em Out.

Foreword  By Senator Bob Kerrey  A brief rambling comment.  Jarding helped him win his second  term as a Senator in 1994.  Comments on the "non-political" nature of most political endeavors.  He reiterates the need to talk to voters "where they live" and truly understand and act on their problems.  "Life is hard.  Political life is harder still."  Jarding and Saunders attempt to capture some of this reality and make it easier for Democrats to survive in this environment.

Introduction  Far too many of our elected officials have lost their way and have no sense of history or responsibility.  Too many politicians in both political parties seem to have forgotten that politics is about those who would be server, not about those who serve.  In 45 years America went form a nation and a people who believed their government was just and good, to one in which our political leaders have brainwashed us to hate our government.  There has been a massive redistribution of wealth, infrastructure has been let rot, research has been cut, working class Americans have been sacrificed to industry, our environment has been trashed and the world is warming.  The authors use Katrina as an example of political malfeasance.  

Given this disaster, and the war in Iraq, it is becoming obvious to all that our government is failing.  We need to replace many of the elected officials with politicians who care about out people, our nation, and our world.  This book is an attempt to show Democrats how they need to fight for us and to get elected.

Part One  A Little History Lesson and Some Scandalous Facts  
C1  How in the Hell Did This Happen?
 Nov. 1, 2004 - according to an analysis of all the facts the Democrats are poised to take back the White House and much of the Senate and House.  The authors discuss all of the advantages that the Democrats had going into the election.

Nov. 2, 2004 - the Republicans won.  What happened.  They discuss in detail exactly what happened.  But the main point is that the Republicans didn't win, the Democrats lost.  They lost big, and it was their fault.  They lost for a number of reasons.  Some of these are:  Kerry and the Democrats simply wrote off a number of states, 27 states that had 227 electoral votes.  When Democrats were insulted to their face they didn't fight back, one was Tom Daschel.  Kerry himself was a genuine war hero, Bush was a draft-dodger, when the swift-boaters attacked Kerry he didn't even defend himself.  

What the Democrats need to do is learn about the culture of America, learn what the people want and respect, and get out message out to them in terms that they can relate to.  The rest of the chapter discusses their strategy for doing this and how the book is organized around these ideas.

C2  Those Were the Days, My Friend:  The Rise of the South and the Heartland (and the Cynical Strategy that Brought them Down)  There are three categories of issues that are usually important in American elections:
  1. Bread and Butter Issues that directly affect voters' pocketbooks and quality of life - education, health care, jobs, environment, Social Security, pensions, and taxes.  Democrats generally do good on these issues but they could do better.
  2. Moral Issues, often defined by Republicans and now generally mean abortion, gay rights, prayer is schools, etc., so-called family values issues.  Highly polarizing, divisive, and raise intense feelings.  Democrats need to define these things on their own terms and if nothing more, neutralize the advantage that Republicans have.
  3. Nationalistic Issues, Americans tend to stick with the party in power at times of national tragedy, war, or international conflict.  
Recently Democrats have been failing on Moral Values and Nationalism, we have been doing OK on  Bread-and-Butter, but not good enough.  First of all you never know which issue will become important so you have to prepare for all three.  You absolutely can not talk about only one.  "It's the Economy, Stupid!" worked for Bill Clinton - it didn't work for Kerry.  A word about moral issues, Democrats often say that many voters are voting against their own best economic interests.  If people feel that way, they must have some very powerful reasons for doing so.  The first thing Democrats need to do is to study their own history.

Americans have had two eras of nation building recently, Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and the New Frontier program of John F. Kennedy and its completion in the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson after Kennedy's death.  These programs showed Americans that their government could solve big problems and that government was there to support citizens.  Some of FDR's major programs include the National Industrial Recovery Act, the Public Works Administration,  the Works Progress Administration, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, the Federal Housing Administration, the Resettlement Administration, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the National Youth Administration, the Rural Electrification Administration, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Social Security Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Some of these worked very well, others not so well; most were detested by conservatives and business interests

JFK's accomplishments were mainly his idealism, he had difficulty getting his programs pass through Congress.  LBJ was able to get Kennedy's initiatives passed as well as many of his own in the aftermath of Kennedy's death.   He was able to pass over 100 major initiatives between 1965 and 1968.  On pages 28, 29, and 30 the authors present facts about some of Johnson's programs.  Every Democratic candidate should know of the initiatives of FDR. JFK, and LBJ and talk about them at every opportunity.  In the 20 years from JFK to Reagan poverty was cut in half, severe malnutrition was almost eliminated, infant mortality rates were down, security for older Americans was increased, and preschool, college education, and job-training programs were greatly increased.

They detail many ways in which Republican initiatives have damaged rural and southern economies since Reagan.

They detail how the racial bigots, mainly in the South, took over the Republican party.  It began in 1902 when Strom Thurmond was born.  They cover his career and his associates which include Harry Dent (who literally carried his piss pot), Roger Milliken, Spiro Agnew, Lee Atwater, Carl Rove, and Chuck Colson.

C3  The Result: Foxes in the Henhouse  This is truly a "Bad people doing bad things" chapter.  It is filled with facts and figures and it is very depressive.  It starts out by discussing the Democrats who blame the "fools" in rural America for voting against their own economic interests where in actuality it is the fools in the Democratic party who failed to understand why rural Americans voted the way they did.  The Republicans have been running on single divisive issues and the Democrats have failed to call them on that.  

The Numbers:  Depending on whose statistics you use, there are around 60 to 70 million rural Americans, this is around 20% to 30% of all Americans.  Education is low, jobs are low, and income is low.  Young people move away, young families move away so there are fewer children.  The only population segment going up in rural areas is the elderly.

Poverty:  Under the Democratic administrations of Kennedy-Johnson and Clinton rural poverty was reduced but it has raised under the administrations of Reagan and the Bushes.  Persistent poverty (20% or more of the population poor over a 30 year period) is a predominately rural problem.  

Education:  Most young people in rural areas who get a college degree do not return to rural America.  Therefore companies seeking trained workers do not locate there.  6 out of 10 rural adults have no more than a high school diploma.  Bush II has been especially diligent in cutting funding for rural education.

Health Care:  The authors present many statistics showing how poorly rural residents are receiving needed health care.  Again Bush II has lead the way in trying to cut programs to improve rural health care.

Jobs and Economic Opportunity:  Unemployment is higher in rural areas.  Currently the earning of workers in rural areas is only 66% of that of workers in urban areas.  Many of the jobs that rural workers used to have have been exported to low wage workers in foreign countries.  Hope in rural areas is low but suicide rates are high.  Rural workers often commute farther to work than urban workers but the availability of public transportation is very low.  Bus and airplane service has all but disappeared in rural areas.  44% of all jobs in rural areas are in government or service industries.  Only 11% of income in rural areas come from manufacturing whereas 30% of the jobs in urban areas come from this area.  

The authors show a two page table of the rural programs in the federal budget in 2005 and the budget proposed by Bush II for 2006.  Without exception the funds decreased in 2006 and in some cases, for example Community Development Block Grants, the funds were eliminated completely, from over $4 billion to nothing.  The main growth industries in rural America are casinos and prisons.  Why?  Because they pay low wages and urban areas do not want them.

Quality of Life:  Bush II has boasted that home ownership is up.  True - mobile homes.  20% of all housing in rural areas is "manufactured housing" compared to 6% in urban areas.  They are cheaper and they are smaller.  They depreciate extremely fast, higher interest rates are required (by the time they are paid off they are valueless), and at least 50% sit on rented land - a hidden second mortgage that never gets paid off.  Large numbers of people cannot afford enough food all of the time, many don't have a telephone and some don't even have an automobile.

Children:  35% of all rural children live either in poverty or near poverty.  In 2000, 48 of the 50 counties with the highest poverty rates are in rural America.  They present tables of children in poverty for urban and rural areas in both the Old Confederacy states and the states that Kerry conceded to Bush II (did not campaign in during 2004).  In the Old South it was 30%, in the states that Kerry conceded it was 21%.  22% of rural children don't have health insurance and only 12% of urban children don't have health insurance.  Mortality rates for rural children are 40% higher than mortality rates for urban children.  Day care for children whose parents work is very hard to find in rural areas.  

The Elderly:  20% of the rural population is elderly vs. 15% of urban population.  15% of rural elderly are poor vs. 10% in urban areas.  50% of lower income rural elderly had lost all of their teeth.  
The GOP is Not Even Taking Care of Its Own:  As the Republicans are turning the south red, the power of the south is eroding.  A table shows the number of committee chairs between 1955 and 2001.  The number of southerners in leadership positions shows a consistent decline.  

The Bottom Line:  Rural and southern residents are paying a heavy price for Republican neglect.  Democrats have to become the voice for these forgotten Americans.  The Republicans have been ignoring them but the Democrats have ignored them as well.  Democrats need to understand their values and their culture.  Republicans have transferred money and opportunities from rural areas and given them to their favored constituents.  Democrats must respond to this and make sure that rural America knows what has happened.

Part Two The Road to Political Recovery  
C4  Getting to know the Culture of Rural America
 This chapter is basically the story of the campaign of Mark Warner for the Governor of Virginia.  Jarding and Saunders worked on his campaign.  They start out by making the distinction between Bubba and rednecks.  Bubba is not just a white southern rural male, Bubba is a blue-collar outlook that transcends gender, color, economic, and geographic bounds.  There are a lot of female Bubbas.  Bubba likes race cars, football, hunting, and country music.  Rednecks also like a lot of these things.  But there is one big difference between the two that is important for political campaigns.  Bubba is registered to vote, rednecks can't or don't.  A lot of rednecks are too ignorant to vote, a lot can't because of problems with the law.  Bubba is a pretty good guy or gal, we just have to talk to him in his language.  He has most of our values, we just have to learn how to talk to him.  

Jarding and Saunders made a concerted effort to make Warner into a candidate that Bubba would trust.  Not to convince Bubba that he was one of them, but to show Bubba that he shared their values.  They did this in several ways.  The first was car races.  They had the Warner campaign sponsor a car.  Warner didn't drive the car, he supported the car.  He got the driver to appear in political ads.  Warner came to races and enjoyed himself.  The second way was with music.  They got a popular tune, re-wrote the lyrics to refer to Warner, got a good group to sing it, and used it everywhere, and the song became very popular locally.

The third way was with football.  They campaigned at football games, they put on tailgate parties, their band moved from tailgate party to tailgate party, they passed out mascot based lapel stickers.  The final way was with hunting.  Again they didn't try to make out that Warner was a great hunter - that wouldn't have worked.  They sold him as a friend of hunters and he would support their interests.  In the process Warner discovered that he liked being outdoors and turned out to be not a bad shot.  

C5  Five Simple Lessons  From the 1930's through the 1970's Americans grew accustomed to the Federal Government dedicated to equality, justice, fairness, and opportunity.  But greed, ignorance, hypocrisy,and bigotry still existed.  By 1980 cynicism captured the minds of political opportunists and by the 1990's it was riding high.  It maxed out on Nov. 2, 2004.  What happened, and what can Democrats do to restore government to the ideals of the '30's?

Lesson 1: Learn How to Count  Carl Rove looked like a genius, but it was primarily because he was being compared to Democratic campaign managers.  To win the presidency you need 270 of the 538 electoral college votes.  First John Kerry wrote off 20 southern and rural states for 164 votes.  Bush didn't write off any states.  Shortly after he was nominated Kerry announced that they were "suspending operations" in 7 more states with 63 votes.  Thats 227 of the needed 270, Bush only needed 43 more votes.

They discuss two races where Democrats fought for every vote and won, Tom Daschel and Mark Warner.  Democrats have strong roots in the South and rural America.  They just have to fight for them and get them back.

Lesson 2: Define Yourself and Define your Opponent (Not the Other Way Around)  There is a simple 2X2 table that all candidates should fill out in depth.  

About me About opponent
What will I tell voters you on you you on him
What will my opponent tell voters him on you him on him

Brian Schweitzer in the 2004 Governors race in Montana understood this and he won.  Kerry didn't understand this and he lost.  You have to get across to voters who you are and who your opponent is.  He will be doing the same thing.  If you don't counteract what he says and show the voters what he is - you will loose.  

Lesson 3: Show Some Passion!  Show passion in a positive way.  Show that you understand that politics is about those who would be served, not those who serve.  Show that you enjoy serving them and that you want to fight for them against special interests.  Show people that you know that lives are at stake.  Be optimistic and offer solutions.  

Show passion when you are attacked.  Sometimes you need to get pissed.  People like and expect indignation when you are insulted or attacked unfairly.  

Lesson 4:  When Someone Assassinates Your Character, Retaliate!  This should be easy when you are falsely attacked although some Democrats do not understand this - pointed comments about Kerry in 2004.  This is more difficult if the comments are technically true, perhaps irrelevant but true.  If you have to defend yourself you are admitting guilt in the eyes of many.  Attack your opponent on some other grounds.  Make him defend himself instead of attacking you.  

The authors list a number of vulnerabilities of a number of Republican "Attack Dogs".  These are Ann Coulter, Dick Cheney (lots), Bill O'Reilly, and Rudy Giuliani and Bernie Kerik.

Lesson 5: Talk to People Where They Live--About Their Lives, Their Fears, and Their Interests.  You really need to go to where they live.  You are applying for a job and they are the boss.  They may be different from you but you will work for them and their needs.  Talk about class warfare, show them that Republicans are waging it on them any you are on their side.  

Part Three Republican Lies and How to Counter Them  First learn the 5 lessons above and then be prepared to respond to the following four sets of issues in the next four chapters.  These have been, and probably will be the most critical in rural America in the near future.  

C6 Lie 1: Republicans are the Party of Family Values and God  At this point in the book the authors start using a number of quotations.  I will put in many of them.  

Robert Heinlein:  It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.

They are believers in God, they believe that God is truth, and the truth is we don't have all the answers.  They don't like it when political leaders and some religious leaders pretend to know or what God or Jesus wants, when these people have personal and/or financial stakes in their interpretations.  They believe that when Republicans throw Bible passages at Democrats, that Democrats are justified in using Biblical passages right back at Republicans.

John Adams: Power always thinks . . . that it is doing God's service when it is violating all his laws.

God in Politics--Let's Be Honest  God is neither a Republican or a Democrat, he has no interest in political parties.  He also doesn't care which team wins - He is on everybody's side.  They list a number of things that Bush and his Republicans have done to God's children since Clinton left office.
Both Democrats and most Christians believe that hunger, homelessness, lack of health care, greed, and unbridled materialism are our most serious problems, Democrats just need to get this message across.

When Republicans Use the Bible to Justify Their Positions, They Are Playing with Fire  Should we take Leviticus 25:44 literally (we may possess slaves)?  Exodus 35:2 says that people who work on the Sabbath should be put to death.  Exodus 21:7 says that we can sell our daughters into slavery. Leviticus 24:10-16 says we can stone to death those who curse.  Those who use specifically cherry picked and out of context biblical passages are literally playing with fire.  Democrats should remind them of the first book of the New Testament, especially Matthew 25:41-46.

They go on to cite a number of biblical passages which support positions that Democrats support.  Deuteronomy - 10:18-19 treatment of immigrants and strangers, Galatians 3:26-28 - all are God's children, Proverbs 29-7 - rights, Leviticus 19:32 - treatment of the elderly, Matthew 19:13-14 - care for children, Matthew 5:7 - care for the sick, hungry, homeless, and fearful, Matthew 6:19-21, 24 - love of money, Matthew 6:5-6 - public displays of religion.  There are plenty of passages in the Bible that Democrats can use to support their positions.

Republicans Versus Democrats on Family Values: The Winner Might Surprise You  Republicans talk family values, they just don't act family values.  Family Values Defined:  "Family values are those principles that keep family units together, that make make families stronger, healthier, more secure, happier, more productive, more content, and more aware of the importance of the family unit."

What tears families apart?  Without a good education, good jobs are hard to get.  Without good jobs with good wages and benefits it is hard to feed, clothe, care for children, save for education, and save for retirement.  Unemployment breeds despair, hopelessness, and feelings of inadequacy while overemployment - working multiple jobs - keeps families apart.  Use these as your family values.

Republicans like to talk about abortion and homosexuality.  These are both rare, it is easier to scare people if nobody knows one.  Only about 7.6% of men and women have homosexual desires.  Democrats should remember that "Feed 'em, clothe 'em, house 'em, and heal 'em" trumps "Greed 'em, loathe 'em, douse 'em, and steal from 'em" every time.

Abortion: Putting a Face on a Human Tragedy  Republicans are not pro-life, they are anti-choice.  Pro-life means to support all life, not just the life of a fetus.  Abortion is a very poor alternative, it's just that sometimes it is the best option available.  Abortion rates have risen 25% since Bush took office.  Abortion is always a difficult option, what if the pregnancy:
They present three true case studies of young women.

Gay Rights and Gay Marriage  About 7.6% of men and women are homosexual but only about 2.8% of men and 1.4% of women identify themselves as homosexual.  In the 2000 census only about 1.2 million adults live with a gay partner.  They believe that the best response to this is to suggest that the proper venue for this is in state legislation and that it is a discrimination issue.  They cannot reconcile biblical reference that condemn homosexuality any more than they can reconcile biblical references that allow us to sell our children into slavery, kill people who work on the Sabbath, or stone to death someone who wears garments made of two different fabrics.  Jesus says love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. Period.

C7  Lie 2: Republicans are the Party of Fiscal Conservatism
 Name the last three Republican presidents who campaigned on a platform of fiscal conservatism?  Easy: Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, and George W Bush.  Now name the three biggest spenders in American presidential history?  George W Bush, Ronald Reagan, and George HW Bush, in that order.  

George HW Bush increased the debt by $1 trillion in 4 years, Ronald Reagan increased the debt by $3 trillion in 8 years, and George W Bush increased the debt by $1.3 billion in 4 years, projections are that he will add another $2 trillion by Jan. 2009.  Add to this the $0.5 to $1.5 transferred from the Social Security Trust Fund, add to this the tax cuts for millionaires during the years from 2004 through 2014 and his grand total is about $5.6 trillion.  We have a (big spender) winner.  Now compare this to the "tax and spend" liberal Bill Clinton.  In 8 years he had a total surplus of $557 billion and his $230 billion surplus in his last year was the biggest in US history.

Democrats and Fiscal Responsibility: The Truth Will Set You Free  They present a number of facts showing that during the last 50 years Democratic presidents have been much more fiscal conservative than Republicans have.  In Oct. 2004 169 professors of business and economics from most of the major business schools wrote a joint letter to George W Bush.  This letter is reprinted in part and it is very critical of his economic policies.  There are several pages detailing the winners and losers in this economy.  The winners tend to be Republican supporting businesses, the losers tend to be all those making say less than $150,000 per year.

A Democratic Agenda to Recapture the Fiscal Conservative Mantra  The authors list six stories the Republicans told the American people, six that the Democrats told, and six that the Democrats should have told.  Basically the Republicans lied, the Democrats mumbled, and that Democrats should call the Republicans on every point.  Check out pages 183-4 for details.

Agenda for Fairness and for America's Economic Rebirth (or Some Other Pithy Name)
  1. Call for and support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
  2. Give Americans a tax cut, and make it fair - the ultra-rich, ultra-greedy have to pay back what Bush gave them.
  3. Burn most of the additional 10,000 pages of the Bush tax code, simplify the tax structure, get rid of tax loopholes.
  4. Eliminate the alternative minimum tax.
  5. Tax all income equally.
  6. Take a very hard look at energy and energy prices, support alternative energy sources.
The Republicans' Contract with America--Revised  Since 300 Republicans signed this document ask them to explain how they did with their contract.  If they violated any of their terms call them on it.  

C8  Lie 3: Republicans are the Party of Patriotism and National Defense
 Patriotism's simplest description is "love of one's country."  It doesn't wear a cloak of partisanship, it doesn't reside within one political party, it doesn't require one to blindly follow a political leader or agenda, and it doesn't muzzle dissenting voices.  To claim that is any of these things is simply unpatriotic.  When Republicans say this about Democrats, Democrats seem to think it is beneath contempt and refuse to answer.  This is just plain dumb, we need to respect and defend our country against all enemies, especially domestic.  If a leader is doing something that we believe will hurt our country it is our duty to speak out.  But the next part is where Democrats fail us, if we are attacked for our position, which is what happened before the Iraq war, we need to respond with all the indignation and anger that we can muster and call them on their unpatriotic behavior.  

They continue this section with 7 pages of descriptions of Democrats, Daschle and Kerry, who spoke up against the war and the Republican attacks on them and then 2 pages of quotes from Bush, Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Eisenower, George Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, and others (See Political-ReligiousQuotes).  

George W. Bush as Commander in Chief: Throw Him a Life Jacket, He's in Over His Head  Quotes from a press conference, April 13, 2004.  Unfortunately believably confused.  Bush actually seems to believe what he says.

Republicans' Record of Defense and Veterans' Issues--You'd Better Sit Down for This One  Of 20,000 Humvees initially sent to Iraq, less than 6,000 had armor, of 9,000 trucks over 8,000 lacked armor.  Half the casualties in Iraq had been from homemade bombs, IED's.  These could have been countered?  By radio jammers which cost $10,000 each - about the same cost as to bury a dead American soldier.  Of the 29,000 vehicles sent to Iraq only those that Rumsfeld or other high officials used had jammers.  12 more pages of specific details of how Republican leaders failed to support American soldiers.

Again, Democrats need to learn how to talk to military men and women.  Peter Beinart, editor of the New Republic has several suggestions for Democrats.  Develop a group of military experts who can help the party shape national policy, speak on defense and veterans' issues, and put a pro-defense and pro-veterans face on the Democratic policy.  Admit that their anger over the Vietnam War colored their support and respect for the military, and push American colleges and universities to all military recruits on campus (broaden the ideological gene pool of future military leaders).

Republic Leadership-It Reads Like a Guest List at a Draft Dodgers of Foreign Wars Convention  They present an impressive list of Republican leaders who did not serve in the military.  Very heavy on President, Vice-Presidents, Senate and House leaders, and talk show hosts.  The one about Rush Limbaugh is classic, gives a new meaning to the term asshole (he was 4-E with a pilonidal cyst), a total of 23.  There is also a list of distinguished recent Democrats who did serve in the military, 9 in total.  They reserve 3 pages for Zell Miller - who did serve 3 years in the Marines, starting 1 month after the Korean War ended, leaving before the Vietnam war.

When Republicans claim war hero status, make them prove it.

C9  Lie 4: Republicans are the Party for Hunters, Anglers, and Outdoor Enthusiasts  A historical fact, from America's founding, establishment, the opening of the west and  continuing today, hunting, fishing, and wildlife hunting have been and are very important.  We cannot ignore this and win elections.  Huge number of Americans hunt, fish, and watch wildlife.  Over 10,000 organizations exist to promote hunting, fishing, conservation, an preservation.  Almost all of these support the same ideals that Democrats do.  

Republicans have been able to convince sportsmen that the biggest threat to American hunting and fishing are Democrats.  In reality the biggest threat is not banning AK-47's but pollution, urban sprawl, loss of habitat and the resulting poor conservation and preservation practices.  This has been exacerbated by big-city Democratic leaders who have forgotten their heritage.  The NRA is also a major problem.  They used to be a hunting, fishing, conservation, and education group.  They have switched.  Now there primary mission is to raise funds through direct-mail campaigns.  They are given major cover from Republican politicians who are supported by corporate polluters and industries with very poor environmental practices.  They offer 7 suggestions for Democrats.
  1. For huge numbers of Americans, hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching are very important, get to know and respect this culture.
  2. Push gun laws and rules as a state issue, not the federal government.
  3. Push enforcing existing gun laws as an alternative to new laws.
  4. Push the fact that the biggest threat to hunting and fishing is pollution and habitat destruction caused by Republican policies and not Democrats trying to regulate firearms.
  5. Offer a reasonable and proactive pro-sportsman and pro-outdoor policy agenda, making sure that land remains open for hunting and increased funding to clean up polluted waterways.
  6. Democrats should implement campaign practices that use sportsmen and their spokesmen
  7. Be honest with voters and tell the truth, the NRA is a front group for Republicans and hurts outdoorsmen by supporting candidates that allow pollution and habitat destruction.  
They present a report of a US Fish and Wildlife Service 2001 survey of the number of sportsmen and the total amount of money spent on fishing, hunting, and wildlife watching in all of the states.  It is huge.  They present an analysis of the states that Kerry either did not campaign in or were very close in 2004.  A relatively small percentage of the sportsmen in these states could have made a significant difference in that election, probably electing Kerry in 2004.

A Democratic Agenda on Guns, Hunting, Fishing, and Other Outdoor Issues  Myth: If Democrats moderate themselves on gun issues, they will lose the antigun people.  Wrong - who are they going to go to - the rabid conservative Republicans?  Those in urban centers are commonly antigun, let them be so.  Few of them live in rural areas - if they want to be antigun, let them, they will loose the election anyway.  You are trying to win the pro-gun vote in the country, let the cities vote their own gun laws.  We don't need more gun laws, we just need to enforce the ones we already have.  

Democrats should propose opening up land for hunting and fishing, tax incentives for landowners who allow public hunting, penalizing development that lacks mandated set-asides for wildlife habitat and conservation practices, end pollution that threatens streams, forests, land, and air.  The most serious threat to hunting, fishing, and wildlife is pollution and habitat destruction.

Bush and the Republicans: An Unprecedented Assault on Our Air, Land, and Water, and the Fish and Wildlife They Are Killing There  Again, the greatest threat to our wildlands is pollution and habitat destruction.  The devote 6 pages to itemizing wildland destruction by the Bush Administration.

The NRA--Now Republican Altogether  The NRA has been moving right for some time.  In 1995 the NRA sent out a letter saying that the Bureau of ATF had agents who were "jack-booted thugs" who wear "Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms."  In response to this George HW Bush publicly canceled his lifetime membership in the NRA.  Many others also canceled their membership.  The group has been giving money to Republicans in Congress.  In 2002 they gave A grades to 227 to Representatives,  by 2004 these same people had only voted for conservation issues less than 20% of the time.  They have a 9 page list of the Representatives and Senators who received an "A" grade from the NRA.

With just a little effort the Democrats could take back the American hunters, fishers, and outdoor enthusiasts, just do it!

Epilogue  The book tells a story of a crisis in leadership in America.  Two political parties who have lost their way.  The Republicans drunk on power and fat with special interest money seem to have forgotten the importance of public service.  And the Democrats, who lead waving the torch of hope and opportunity for half a century have turned cautious and largely silent.  

This epilogue is a short version of the typical "Bad people doing bad things!" story that many Democratic writers produce.  It was thankfully quite short.  They ended by exhorting Democrats to get out there and fight the good fight.  

Absolute Arrogant Asses Awards  The book ends with their awards.   Their ten top awards for abusers of power.
  1. Medals of Freedumb: Gen. Tommy Franks, George Tenet, and L. Paul Bremer.
  2. Illegal Government Propaganda: Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, and Michael McManus.
  3. FCC for privatizing the broadcast airwaves: Michael Powell.
  4. Malpractice by Video: Bill Frist for his diagnosis of Terri Schiavo.
  5. Environmental Neglection Agency: Testing pesticides in homes with young children.
  6. Exterminate the Exterminator:  Tom DeLay, the Houston ethically challenged exterminator.
  7. Judges: The Republican attempt to dictate to the Federal Courts.
  8. George Bush: For starving wildlife refuges while keeping one for himself.
  9. Wal-Mart: For changing Sam Walton's "Buy America" campaign to "Bye America" and paying workers in Bangladesh, China, and El Salvador as much as 9 cents an hour.
  10. Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Act:  Charles Grassley and Jim Sensbrenner, Senate and House leaders, who kept credit card companies from earning less than 20% on their investment.
Unfortunately the book does not contain a bibliography or index.

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