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Stateside With Rosalea: Torquing Heads

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Torquing Heads

Torque is a measure of how much a force acting on an object causes that object to rotate. So if you put a handful of folks together who are determined to move conservative people's politics towards the progressive end of the spectrum then you have the torquing heads at the panel discussion I attended last week, What Are Americans Voting For?
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The moderator, in the centre, is Bruce Cain, a well-known local and national commentator on politics. To his immediate left is George Lakoff, who believes there is no spectrum with progressives at one end and conservatives at the other; rather, we are all bi-conceptual. And on Lakoff's left is Paul Pierson, a Yale-trained political scientist and last-minute substitute for former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich who was unable to attend.

At the opposite end of the line-up is Joan Blades, co-founder of and, both of which are Internet-based grassroots organising entities. Next to her is Markos Moulitsas, founder of Daily Kos, a political blogging site that draws over 20 million unique visitors each month.

Moulitsas opened the discussion by talking about how the Democratic Party has lost touch with those parts of the country that either aren't on the East or West Coast or aren't a battleground state, whereas Republicans understand that every vote, everywhere, counts.

Pierson quoted a June 2006 Congressional Quarterly comment that "Republicans have everything going for them, except popularity", to demonstrate his theory that the media has a "senior class president" view of politics and as a result only follows races that fit that mould.

Joan Blades, wearing a T-shirt upon which Rosie the Riveter holds a baby instead of rolling up her sleeve to build bombers, said that although the issues that organisation addresses are not front page issues, they are the kinds of issues that will get people out to vote.

Lakoff stressed that "it's very important to know that nobody makes it on their own in this country" and that taxes are the common wealth being used for the common good, an idea that underpinned much of what the Founding Fathers were seeking to create with the constitution.

At the end of the discussion, Cain asked the panelists for their predictions of Democratic gains on November 7. Moulitsas gave a range of between 10 and 45 and Pierson predicted 22-25. Blades said there'll be a big mid-term turnout for the progressives, with members already having made more than 2 million get-out-the-vote phone calls. Lakoff countered that there are 60,000 Republicans in California alone standing by to make phone calls in the last 72 hours.

MP3 audio is available at the World Affairs Council website at
If you sort by date, the event was on 10/26/06

PS: This post was going to be accompanied by photos of 5 pairs of feet, but my focus wasn't all that good and besides, someone got to that idea before me in a completely different context, judging by this photo from a recent copy of the Bay Area's Spanish language weekly el Mansajero:



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