Archive for September 9th, 2004

Don’t Hit Me Again!

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Vice President Dick Cheney’s outrageous statement that if we elect Kerry, we will be “hit again”. is garnering considerable attention in the Liberal Media, but given considering the mood of the electorate and the public’s habituation to hyperbole, will probabaly we soon swept into the dustbin of campaign retoric and forgotten.

Personally, it makes us want to wail, “Please, Poppy, don’t hit me again! I’ll be good.” However, looking beyond the viscereal gut-reaction, logic and the track record cast additional doubt on the veracity of the prediction.

In Russia they have “elected” the poster-boy for hard-assed, steely-eyed power-politics, and look how that is turning out for them. Having a paranoid, hard-line, hard-hitting authoritarian in power is no guarentee against terror – in fact, it seems to attract bombers like bees to honey.

Don’t forget that 20 years ago Putin was running the KGB, and Bush senior was his counterpart at the CIA. Maybe this whole modern morality play was cooked up in Langley and Dzerzhinsk Square. Spooky, huh?

Another example. Four years ago our friend and partner in the war on terrorism, Israel, elected a hard-line, get tough with the terrorists hawk as prime minister. Has this bold move stopped or even discouraged the terrorists from blowing up Israelis? In fact, the ascension of Sharon marked the beginning of the period of most intense terrorist attacks in the history of Israel.

Do we really want New York City, Boston and Houston turned into Tel-Aviv clones, with cameras and checkpoints on every corner and the nation on a permanent state of alert, waiting for the next suicide bomber?

Maureen Dowd weighs in in today’s New York Times with her own inimicable take on the topic:

“George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have always used the president’s father as a reverse lodestar. In 1992, the senior Mr. Bush wooed the voters with “Message: I care.” So this week, Mr. Cheney wooed the voters with, Message: You die.

The terrible beauty of its simplicity grows on you. It is a sign of the dark, macho, paranoid vice president’s restraint that he didn’t really take it to its emotionally satisfying conclusion: Message: Vote for us or we’ll kill you.”

Flash-Forward

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Ever
since we participated in our
first Flash Mob
18 months ago, we have been speculating on the
potential of the phenomena as a method of political protest, The mob
we participated in was an inane exercise in theater of the absurd –
80 flashers met up as if by chance in the Greeting Card section of
the Harvard Coop, and all told the clerks we were looking for a card
for our friend Bill. No wonder it was a transitory phenomena.

But we immediately thought, "What a great M.O.for political protest!"
disciplined squads of protesters, coordinated by cell phone and pager,
assembling like magic from urban background humanity, performing a brief
but memorable protest or political action, and melting back into the
crowds before the forces of order can arrive and arrest.

According to the New
York Times
, an anonymous hacker who goes by the
pseudonym John Henry has created a program named TXTMob that does just
that, providing "detailed and nearly instantaneous updates
about route changes, street closures and police actions".

As the traditional
political class cling ever more desperately to power, and turn to protecting
their positions with the kind of massive shows of force and intended
intimidation we saw in New York and Boston during the political conventions,
harnessing technology is the natural
way for protesters to fight back
.
Watch for these political flash mobs in an election near you, soon.
We predict that by the Presidential elections of 2008, they will be a
regular
feature of the electoral panorama..

The software was not intended for everyday mobile socializing. It
was created as a tool political activists could use to organize
their work, from
staff meetings to street protests. Most of the people using
it are
on the left: of the 142 public groups listed on the TXTMob
site, the largest are dedicated to protesting the Bush administration,
the Republican
Party or the state of the world in general.

When a preliminary version of TXTMob was tested at the Democratic
National Convention in Boston in July, about 200 people used
it to organize protesters into spontaneous
rallies, to warn them about the location of police crackdowns and to
direct volunteer medics where they were needed, all in real
time.

from the New
York Times