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November 10, 2004, 9:00 P.M.

A third favorite, also to honor Veterans' Day:

The Grave

The grave that they dug him had flowers
Gathered from the hillsides in bright summer colors,
And the brown earth bleached white at the edge of his gravestone.
Heís gone.

When the wars of our nation did beckon,
A man barely twenty did answer the calling.
Proud of the trust that he placed in our nation,
Heís gone,
But eternity knows him, and it knows what weíve done.

And the rain fell like pearls on the leaves of the flowers
Leaving brown, muddy clay where the earth had been dry.
And deep in the trench he waited for hours,
As he held to his rifle and prayed not to die.

But the silence of night was shattered by fire
As guns and grenades blasted sharp through the air.
And one after another his comrades were slaughtered.
In morgue of marines, alone standing there.

He crouched ever lower, ever lower with fear.
They canít let me die! the canít let me die here!
Iíll cover myself with the mud and the earth.
Iíll cover myself! I know Iím not brave!
The earth! the earth! the earth is my grave.

The grave that they dug him had flowers
Gathered from the hillsides in bright summer colors,
And the brown earth bleached white at the edge of his gravestone.
Heís gone.

Don McLean

November 10, 2004, 7:30 P.M.

Two of my favorite poems, in honor and rememberance of all veterans:

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae

Thank you

November 9, 2004, 9:10 P.M.

Josh Marshall persists in his belief that the Republicans are overstating the extent of their victory. I disagree. While the Presidential election in the electoral college was as Marshall points out, the second closest since 1916 (the Bush victory four years ago being the closest), the Democrats lost ground in the Senate and the House, leaving the Republicans with decisive control of both. This rolls right down to state gubernatorial races, House and Senate races and judicial contests in states where judges are elected. Mandate or not, they wield almost all of the power. With the retirement of a Supreme Court judge or two, it only gets worse.

November 9, 2004, 9:00 P.M.

Governor Benson answered a critical question this week when he announced that his freeze on hiring by state agencies would remain in place. The substance of that announcement came as no surprise to me. What did surprise me is that Benson did anything at all. I mean, I didn't even think that he would show up for work anymore after blowing off his supporters at the Center of New Hampshire and going home early on election night. It remains to be seen what gets done between now and the Lynch inaugeration, but I would not expect much in the way of progress.

November 9, 2004, 1:20 P.M.

The Tipping Point: Yesterday I celebrated the 7th anniversary of my 39th birthday. I took the day off from writing and spent a little time thinking about what I should write, and what I could or should say about politics this month.

Immediately after the election I noticed that a lot of people had nothing to say. Like me, they were probably reading about what had happened and why. I personally was searching for something to help me explain why, despite record voter turnout, President Bush was reelected. Based on the large number of hits to my website (www.philpotonpolitics.com) during that period of time, some people were apparently looking to me to say something. Since they werenít writing to me, I assume that they, like me, needed some time to mull this thing over.

Well, Iíve mulled. One thing that I do not accept is that the Republicans have claimed the moral high ground and thatís why Bush won. Certainly, this was a factor in voter turnout and in neutralizing the large voter registration drives of the Democrats. Early on in the election cycle we were hearing that the President might be vulnerable among evangelicals and the more conservative wing of his party. It was suggested that these voters, disenfranchised by the apparent shift, however marginal, to the center by the administration, would simply stay home. Not so, said Karl Rove, and they truly came out in record numbers. Such record numbers that they completely counterbalanced the minority and youth voters brought to the polls by the Democrats.

Kerry did badly among Catholics and moderate religious types: roughly 52% of Catholics surveyed voted for Bush. This number clearly comes from the anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage stance collectively referred to in post-election jargon as the ďmorality question.Ē No doubt, Kerry lost big in this area and that really is okay. If a majority of people feel that, with all of the other issues facing this country, this was the turning point, so be it. I guess my problem is that even with all of those people voting their conscience on the morality issue, the election should easily have gone the other way on the war, the economy and on civil liberties.

Some commentators have said that, given the overwhelming facts weighing against the administration, and the wealth of information supporting the errors made in international and domestic policy, you had to be living in a cave or be really dumb to have voted for the President. I canít buy this, either. Certainly, a lot of people believed the President when he said that Saddam was aligned with al Qaeda before the war, when in fact we know he was not. People also believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction; we know he did not. These same people believe the President when he says his economic policies are good for the country in the long run. They also believe that trial lawyers are responsible for the insurance crisis when we know definitively that this is not true. Many of these people chose to vote for the President for a lot of reasons other than morality. Some might call them dumb, I choose not to. Rather, I suggest that they chose the devil they knew, rather than the devil they didnít know. Certainly, people on the other side of the aisle chose to believe that John Kerry didnít have various positions on numerous issues, and disbelieved the fact that he had little or no Senate record, or that he missed critical votes on major issues, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. People simply choose to believe the candidate who best reflects their views, and to accept them despite their warts. Thatís why morality was the tipping point.

I still donít think it should have been. There was too much substantive information available that should have been used to unseat Bush. Facts should have overcome emotions, records should prevail. The Bush record is appalling. The Kerry record was missing. We deserve better.

November 9, 2004, 11:45 A.M.

The effects of the national election have left me deeply troubled. I think that a second term for the Bush administration is a dangerous proposition for this country, but also that it represents a paradigm shift in our role on the world political stage.

Although I have been involved with politics all of my life, I have never had such a passionate belief that a single election would so profoundly impact this country and the world. The fact that the President won the popular vote baffles me. The suggestion that morality is a key factor in the peopleís decision scares the hell out of me (no pun intended). For my part, I was never overly enamored of Kerry as a candidate. He always seemed a compromise, in a sense a vestige of a Democratic party that no longer exists as we once knew it.

Since the election, I have read many other writersí thoughts on how the Democratic party ought to respond. Some suggest that we should build on the energy and momentum developed within the party over the last four years. I agree that organizations and institutions can survive, however, they can also stagnate. It is my opinion that the Democratic party needs to be deconstructed. Itís like a big old V8 engine thatís worn out ĖĖ it needs to be stripped down to its basic parts and rebuilt from the bottom up. We are currently up against a wall. The fact that we could not move the ball into the other guyíís field belays offensive weakness. The fact that he moved the ball into ours belays defensive weakness. Whichever way you look at it, the last two election cycles have demonstrated that we are a weakened party that needs to find an effective strategy and effective leaders to ensure that this doesnít happen again.

The Democratic party of my parents is gone. Dick Gephardt was perhaps its last gasp. When he visited my home prior to the primary, I gave him a copy of an article that I wrote entitled, "Who Are the American People?" I still think that the 21st century answer to that question lies in the path we follow to take back our country.

John Kerry couldnít motivate the partyís traditional historic base because it no longer exists. When I hear my 77 year old father, who has been a blue-collar, union member all of his life, talking about voting for George Bush, we have a serious problem. I agree that this wasnít 1964, 1972 or 1980, but it was every bit as much as blowout. Karl Rove and the boys have treated this as a mandate and they will continue to expand the policies that they have put in place over the past 4 years. We cannot let our guard down. I myself intend to take some time off to pout, then I intend to begin questioning what weíve been doing for the past 4 years, what the Republicans have been doing for the past decade, and what it all means for the next election cycle. I donít, however, believe that the traditional model of party building will work without extensive soul searching directed at shaping the party for the future. That is also going to involve putting forward candidates who come to the table with a clear, articulable message, a little less baggage, and a little more energy than those that we have come up with since the end of the Clinton presidency.

Because of the erosion of the traditional Democratic base, we are more a coalition than a party. Until there is a clear message and articulable goals, we will remain but a vocal minority. I am afraid for our country right now. These people who control our government are waging a crusade and they believe that they can win. Any college history student can see the folly in this. One well-placed assassinís bullet puts the Pakistani nuclear arsenal on the open market, and holy wars are by their nature, fought to the death. Equally troubling is the fact that in order to wage this crusade, we are mortgaging our future and paying a high price in lives and treasure. The ancillary or collateral cost is an erosion of our individual civil liberties. "You are either with us or against us" makes me an enemy of the state, where the ends justify the means. We donít have to explain ourselves, justify our deeds or answer to anyone. These are dangerous times.


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