Madame Speaker. Sweet.
Whew. Frajous joy. Herein mostly new phoning-for-MoveOn tidbits.
Of course my favorite tidbit was the Spunky Very Old Lady from <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Montana which I reprise below for its tastiness and, if 1666 angels can dance on the head of a pin, I oughta be able to tattoo The Rock in My Front Yard quote on my forehead. Read it again now that we've WON.
The Rock in My Front Yard
Aw shucks. Doing my election phoning, I was talking to this spunky very old lady from Montana (Jon Tester v Conrad Burns.) She said her husband who sold farm equipment had had to work with Conrad Burns way back before he was a gleam in the Republican juggernaut eye.
When Burns got elected she said her husband said, “What's that boy doing being a Senator? He wasn't even a good cowboy. He was only good for kicking s-h-i-t.” She delicately but ringingly spelled out the s-h-i-t.
I grinned. She went on to say, “Hang on, I got a little story to tell you. This young man Republican called me to ask if I was going to vote for Conrad Burns. I said, 'Young man, I've got a rock in my front yard with more brains than Conrad Burns.'”
I'm at 2280 dials and 600 contacts and 300 earnest answering machine messages now — and tho I have blisters on my ears and clearly a growing brain tumor from all that phone next to my head, it's worth it for that blessed line. It's the “in my front yard” which sells it so sweet.
Misty from Arizona, first time voter
I got Misty from Arizona along the way on Election Day afternoon. I relayed my earnest spiel, including the golden line, “Kennedy beat Nixon by one vote a precinct — your vote is so important.” (Kennedy was killed on my 19th birthday which made me deeply political in an irradiating flash. The next morning I saw Ruby shoot Oswald 'live' on the small flickering black & white tv in the common room of my college dorm at Mount Holyoke.)
Misty asked me about the ID she needed. I vaguely remembered that some states had instituted a draconian ID system. I asked if she could check online? 'Well, my system's so slow.' (How could America be so Third-World behind in broadband? It's a crime. We're spending $820,000 per minute on the military budget and another $216,000 per minute on Iraq and we don't have the interstate highway equivalent of broad band? Shame.) I said, “If you have a minute, I'll check for you on The Google.” I get to some Arizona site. Misty has a license but the address hasn't been changed. She has voter material.. The only substitutes for the up-to-date photo ID are Utility Bills. Well, how many kids or apartment dwellers have utility bills in their names? Oh and you can have Property Tax receipts. Sure — college kids and poor people are going to have property tax receipts. This is just the 2006 equivalent of the poll tax. Limit the Democratic vote basically.
I suggested she put everything with her name and address on it in a grocery bag and if they didn’t accept it, demand a provisional ballot.
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Do you ever ask yourself if this new breed of feral Republicans is a snarl of pit bull-human hybrids? If you make 2280 phone calls you will. I understand that phone calls from strangers can be really vexing, but Hey you vicious rabid person in Idaho, it ain’t a sharp stick in the eye. Of course I never ever hinted at my disbelief that Americans could be so damned nasty and rude. As a major-league phoner, the nastier they are, the more cordial – with no snideness – you are. Give them zero reason to say at the water cooler the next day that some snippy Democrat called.
I realized in the last six years that Rove et ilk were always feral. Without a nano-hesitation they always defaulted to painted-in-a-corner, slavering attack. It’s why the breakdown of government nationally and internationally was so dogastrophic. Dear compromise reason-‘n- reality-prone Democrats just didn’t have the knee-jerk attack mentality. Maybe it's a piranha-human hybrid that they are.
An interesting phenomenon is that if you’re going to be a great political phoner, you have to be very vulnerable. Being vulnerable is the only way to come across as genuine in the brief moment you have with most people. This openness is a gift and a necessity but when someone really is gratuitously mean, it actually hurts. Then of course you have to learn to shake it off instantly so the next dial is clean and sweet and fresh.
Less heart than a tree
Usually of course you don’t have long chats with folks because you gotta cover the territory but over weeks of phoning, there are oases where you chat for a bit for your own refueling or to give someone a boost of fellow humanity. There was this dear lady in Webb land (Virginia) who had a husband with Hodgkins and they were in some horrible straits and she’s been trying to get some help from Charles Taylor, her District 11 representative. Her baffled and exhausted voice recounted how Mr. Taylor shined and shined them on until her rich sister who “sells tomatoes to brokers” called on her behalf. Mr. Taylor apparently had his office check if the sister was “big time enough” to sell tomatoes to brokers before he would take her call. I thought here was The Nub of this Giga-Greed Era – if you got money, you get connections. It’s the Republican Way To perk her up I told her the Montana Rock storyette. She said at once, “I’ve got a tree in my front yard with more heart than Charles Taylor.” In the coming planetary alchemy to the enriched light, the shaped panpotent light, we should put in a memo for brains and hearts for the Reptilians.
At 3pm, 2039 dials, gent from NY Congressional 23 told me “Bush actually wanted to go to Iran, but he can’t spell.”
One evening last week I called a number and the woman screamed at me, “Do you know what time it is?” Well, yeah, it’s on my computer screen. 8:08 pm. “You woke up my husband.” I am acutely sensitive to the time I’m calling. I wish we wouldn’t call people after 8:30pm their time. I think it’s pretty counterproductive. I always ask after that if it’s too late to call or take a break until the hour turns over. I’m sure the theory is that many more people are home between 8:30pm and 9pm. But 8:08pm?? Who goes to bed at 8:08pm?
On the last several days we began to leave messages on answering machines. Though I love leaving great answering machine messages, I have an inherent quease and dread of leaving messages at un-IDed numbers. With your impassioned plea, you can just stir up the folks who are agin you. Of course by 2008, we’ll have IDed more thoroughly. On Election Day we had 50,000 phoners. My bet is that in 2008, it’ll be 85,000 phoners or more.
Please The Google ‘MoveOn’ today and send them 15 or 25 bucks for sure. (The Google is a dig at our Imperial Decider George who when asked if he used the internet said, “Oh yes, I use The Google to look at my ranch.” It’s one of those revealing phrases that shows you haven’t a clue. A friend of mine trying to pull the wool over the eyes of a theater group was reading a list of the equipment they had and said “Eight ‘Freznell’ lights.” I saw all the glances go around the room. The ‘s’ is silent in Fresnell and they all instantly knew he didn’t know what he was talking about. Similarly with Mr. Bush, saying “The Google” showed he knew nada. Like “the Decider,” “The Google” became an instant ironic piece of the language.)
There is no praise enough for MoveOn.org which organized a nationwide phone bank 5 standard quantum leaps better than in 2004. Much more user friendly and except for a few glitches, always there.
By some computer magic, for all 50,000 phoners there was a little counter on our phoning page that showed Dials or Attempts and Voter Contacts.
As I said after 15 hours of phoning on Election Day, Thanks for allowing me to feel so useful where it mattered. That will always be a highlight in my life. I feel like part of a dear future which we're just beginning. I'm amazed and thrilled.
Stories later. 600 contacts; 2280 dials. Feels good. You all worked magic, you giga-geek Techno Elves. Hurray.
Another encomium was: I just want to take a moment to thank the Techo-Geek-Elves who are somehow keeping the data river flowing so those of us whose own races won't change history whatever feel useful in the places which will decide the fate of Earth for the next 807 days. Your wizardry and lambent and rampant intelligence is appreciated yattally.
//Never will I forget nor will the shininess dim of being able to maybe matter in the Biggest Election of my lifetime. The idea that I could call my heart out into all the key races is a tribute to MoveOn and the beautiful job they did of setting up the data bases and the interfaces and the support systems. Amazing. It was giga-swell to feel like such a pioneer of The Future. I ended every answering machine message with “Keep your heart bright.”
Most important are people like my friends CL & Curt who are not such phone geeks but who Did It Anyway, and next time, it'll be even easier — they'll be an old hands. Hurray for you and the roughly 50,000 like you. It adds up. To about 7 million dials.
The challenge and legerdephone is to make each call sound like it's the only call you've made. Pretty much the same words, but earnest and new each time.
My best line was 'Kennedy beat Nixon by one vote a precinct — your vote really matters.' We all phoned for hours into the Webb precincts and in 2008 I get to say 'Webb beat Allen by 3 votes a precinct.'Suggestions to MoveOn re phoning for beginners:
Remember to smile. People can hear it in your voice.
Remember to say 'Remember to vote' or Your vote is so important' or 'Thank you so much for your vote.' If you say, 'Don't forget to vote,' this is what's called an 'embedded command.' In order to comprehend the statement, you have to imagine forgetting to vote.
You'll get some very cranky people — water off a duck's back — they're having a bad day or a bad life. Kill'em with kindness. It is extremely important to be utterly and unfailingly gracious. One guy said to me, “I can't believe how polite you are. Everyone else who's called has been shoving it down my throat.” I never give cranky people a reason to say at the water cooler, “Hey, Marge, you won't believe what a snippy Democrat called last night.” I want them to have to say, “The nicest, most earnest Democrat called last night.”
In between the ruthlessly rude people, you'll find the sweethearts who say, “I wouldn't vote Republican this year if they pushed needles under my nails.” Or the cool lady who owns a small business who is giving a bonus of a movie ticket to each employee who votes and brings back the’ I voted’ sticker. Is that cool or what? “I want to make sure they know how important I think voting is,” she said.
Then there’s the middle-aged woman who is probably considered a pillar of the community (before I had a chance to say more than Hello) who snarled, “Kiss my ass and don't call again.” At least we had a chance to get her off the list.
Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Wyoming have EDR or Election Day Registration.
[I am not keen on boasting whatever, but I am pretty darn proud to have been the Top Caller in the nation on Election Day for MoveOn — at least til they closed down that dashboard page. I started at 6:13am pst and phoned til Alaska at 8:45 pm pst. I made about 500 phone calls, 300 voters and 200 answering machine messages left. And there it was under Top Callers: #1 Wendy F. Mountain View CA. I made 2280+ dials in the last 10 days-ish I think. 'Twas cool.]
MoveOn — let me count the ways.
When John Kennedy was killed on my 19th birthday, I was flayed. Then Martin. Then Bobby.
When three English teachers and the three art teachers piled into an art teacher's Volkswagen bus (No kidding!) to go to D.C. for the Big March on Washington, the math teacher at the New Hampshire boarding school where I taught said, “I hope each one of you gets shot.”
We and many other utterly non-violent demonstrators were peppergassed. Nice volunteer doctors were stationed along the street with lemonjuice-soaked paper towels to ease one’s streaming eyes and burning skin. A dead soldier’s mother from Wisconsin just stood mute holding a huge bucket of quarters so us demonstrators could take the buses.
I was vehemently idealistic and uncompromisingly purist til the early 80’s when a tall Texan activist named Wayne told me that the pace of political change “is glacial.” I began to want half a glass of milk for a poor child rather than no milk at all. I guess this was Clintonism before dear Bill, my favorite president. As someone later put it, “Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.”
A vivid lady whose name I don’t remember had been one of the 50 state organizing leaders for the Republicans in the early 80s. She had been the wife of some corporate giga-rich guy in some southern state like Arkansas or Alabama. Every month these 50 women flew to the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. They flew in the husbands’ Lear jets. They met for lunch around a great table in a room with paneled walls and enormous chandeliers. There were butlers alert against the wall, one for each two ladies. “What did we talk about?” she said. “Not about shoes or handbags. Precincts. Specifically and exactingly, precincts. And we did all the precinct work by phone.” This lady like Arianna much much later had had a lightning bolt tell her that she was really a Democrat. She dumped the coldblooded husband and came out West to work on the Nuclear Freeze in Oregon, I think. “All on the phone. We did it all on the phone.”
She was about to go off to the South of France with her artist friend and his black Cadillac. She wanted the California Democrats to have benefit of her insider knowledge. My activist friends and I certainly beat the phoning drum on deaf ears for years.
But finally now with computers and MoveOn, we are at the beginning of proper nationwide phone-driven precinct work. It isn’t detailed and personalized enough yet, but we’ll get there.
My own wish:
Tierra del lollipop.
Beseechment for November 8. Please let me wake up in lollipop land. There is a unicorn where where she walks music plays in the air and where her hoof falls the grasses are not bruised.
Déjeme por favor despertar en tierra del lollipop. Hay un unicorn donde donde ella camina los juegos de la música en el aire y donde cae su enganche las hierbas no se contusiona.
It’s time I think to frabjous some joy, to no se contusina the grasses, and to sing a lullaby to our precious planet Vuravura, our precious planet Jeegoo as we walk.
Has not your heart been trampled on, bruised upon bruised these six years? Beneath your feet are caverns of ruby, great rivers of emeralds, inner constellations as brilliant and real as the stars above. The stars below, the stars below shine when you admire them — your marveling ignites them. As you walk, you surf slightly and lightly on the great jeweled light which rises in ruby and emerald waves to uplift you. Legerdetopaz.
It’s time to frabjous some joy and to rise on the raven’s strong obsidian wings out of this valley of darkness. Like the Northern Lights, the great waves of jewel light rise from the earth in rhapsodic patterns of sweeter duty and beauty. Satan the Silly watches over our laughter with a tenderness the coldblooded religions which made cruel bargains with power eschewed. They would kill people to save them. They would kill people who erred. They would kill people who strayed. I’m a non-kneeler and I will never recant.. The first fox I met as a child in the forest where I walked at night when my parents thought I slept, the first fox I met was as black as a panther. We gossiped of forest secrets.
I think the antidote to being fear-ridden is to be beauty-ridden, and ye gods know this planet does countless exactings and exquisites of beauty.
Poetry wins as any seer will ascertain — it just takes a bloody glacially long time for the poetry virus to spread far & wide enough to have a poetry plague.
The hardest thing to grok is the idea that we have to be grownups now and not just indulge in loathing Mr. Rove, richly does he deserve it. How to use the whole brain poised au point ballerina-like in the corpus callosum, the nerve-dense radiant interface between the two hemispheres of our brains — the corpus callosum waiting all these centuries to be ignited.
11.12.06 7:47:46 pm pst
Well, friends, welcome to Lollipop Land and the steady work of getting about re-building our country.
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10 Dog . Oc . Wolf. North . tzol 10 11.13.06 mon
799 days/2y2m7d left of the pipsqueak despotism/1496
the education-obsessed world begins today with you ..
.. let’s spend the $820,000 per minute Military Budget on education instead