The Road to 9/11
Peter Dale Scott
Building Red America
Thomas B. Edsall
The Shock Doctrine
The Argument Culture
A Clearing in the Forest
Winter Jan 2008
Foxes in the Henhouse
Steve Jarding & Dave "Mudcat" Saunders Feb 2008
Road to 9/11
Peter Dale Scott
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
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
He refers to three strategies for political change:
He proposes a set of changes to reform or limit the deep or secret
- 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
- 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.
- 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."
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."
- Recognize income disparity as a threat to the public state.
- Undo the recent regressive tax laws that have unduly
favored the rich.
- End the US - IMF imposed financial rules that transfer
money from smaller nations to the West.
- International regulations of finance to reduce the benefits
of moving offshore and supranational businesses.
- Reform the electoral process so that the electorate thinks
beyond the structures of the two main political parties.
- 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.
- Oppose US involvement in Iraq and the doctrine of
preemptive wars in general.
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
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.
Thomas B. Edsall
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
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.
The Shock Doctrine
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and his articles can be found online here.
The Argument Culture
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
A comparison of email lists between man and women. Here again men
were more aggressive and women were more sensitive about publishing
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.
- Don't demonize those with whom you disagree.
- Don't affront their deepest moral commitments.
- Talk less of rights, which are nonnegotiable, and more of needs, wants, and interests.
- Leave some issues out.
- Engage in a dialogue of convictions: Don't be so reasonable and
conciliatory that you lose touch with a core of belief you feel
The book has 14 pages of notes by chapter, 11 pages of references, 10 pages of index, and 2 pages of permissions.
A Clearing in the Forest
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.
Foxes in the Henhouse Steve Jarding & Dave "Mudcat" Saunders Feb 2008
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
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
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
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:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Nationalistic Issues, Americans tend to stick with the party in
power at times of national tragedy, war, or international conflict.
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
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
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
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
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.
|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
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
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.
- 36 million Americans live in poverty - 12 million of these are children. This is an increase of 2 million.
- 45 million lack health insurance, an increase of 5 million.
- Over 3 million Americans lost jobs, this is the first lost since the US started keeping figures.
- America's debt has skyrocketed. Under Bush the debt has increased more than all previous administrations combined.
- Homelessness has increased, 4 million are homeless and 1/3 of them are children.
- 12% of American households do not have enough food, 20% of children live in homes without sufficient food.
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
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
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
They present three true case studies of young women.
- came because of a rape?
- came to a girl who is only a child?
- would cost a young woman her life if she delivered?
- resulted from a case of incest?
- would result in abuse and neglect if the baby were carried to term?
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
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)
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.
- Call for and support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
- Give Americans a tax cut, and make it fair - the ultra-rich, ultra-greedy have to pay back what Bush gave them.
- Burn most of the additional 10,000 pages of the Bush tax code, simplify the tax structure, get rid of tax loopholes.
- Eliminate the alternative minimum tax.
- Tax all income equally.
- Take a very hard look at energy and energy prices, support alternative energy sources.
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
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.
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
- For huge numbers of Americans, hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching are very important, get to know and respect this culture.
- Push gun laws and rules as a state issue, not the federal government.
- Push enforcing existing gun laws as an alternative to new laws.
- 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.
- 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.
- Democrats should implement campaign practices that use sportsmen and their spokesmen
- 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.
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
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
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.
Unfortunately the book does not contain a bibliography or index.
- Medals of Freedumb: Gen. Tommy Franks, George Tenet, and L. Paul Bremer.
- Illegal Government Propaganda: Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, and Michael McManus.
- FCC for privatizing the broadcast airwaves: Michael Powell.
- Malpractice by Video: Bill Frist for his diagnosis of Terri Schiavo.
- Environmental Neglection Agency: Testing pesticides in homes with young children.
- Exterminate the Exterminator: Tom DeLay, the Houston ethically challenged exterminator.
- Judges: The Republican attempt to dictate to the Federal Courts.
- George Bush: For starving wildlife refuges while keeping one for himself.
- 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.
- 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.