Against all enemies, foreign and domestic...
                      by James Higdon

                      I think the year was likely around 1975.  I was working my way through
                      college, that year, as a bartender.  Depending on my school schedule, I
                      sometimes worked a lunch shift, and sometimes a night shift.  The bar was in
                      one of the nicer theme restaurants, right across from the airport, decorated
                      and costumed according to the writings of Jonathan Swift. They were different
                      times, when alcohol consumption during the noon hour was not only accepted,
                      but encouraged by corporate "working lunch" practice, commonly referred to,
                      in those days, as "the three martini lunch."  At the time, such lunches were
                      fully tax deductible by the corporation.

                      Our most popular lunch drink was what we called a "Nooner."  It was a
                      triple shot martini on the rocks, served in a glass we called the "bucket"
                      - four and one half ounces of 80 proof gin over ice.  Every lunch hour the
                      airline corporations' executives would arrive on the scene, usually including
                      an off duty pilot or two, along with import/export executives and others
                      working for whatever businesses required airport proximity.  Some would
                      have meetings while eating and drinking at the tables, others would line the
                      bar and forego the "lunch" for the three martinis  - somehow managing to
                      negotiate their cars back to the office an hour or so later.

                      One memory from this experience has always stood out in my mind.
                      During an afternoon shift a gentleman (for lack of a better term) at the bar
                      was getting a little loud with his guests, somewhere in the middle of his second
                      Nooner.  The subject was politics.  Being that it was a busy afternoon, I'd had
                      little opportunity to follow the conversation until he beckoned me over to
                      order his third Nooner, and to ask me a question directly.

                      "Don't you agree that only management should be allowed to vote?"

                      "I'm not sure what you're asking," I asked him to be more clear.

                      "In a national election - for congressmen and presidents.  The world is
                      divided according to two types of people - leaders and followers.  It
                      doesn't make any sense for the followers to be able to vote.  They're
                      followers for a reason.  Only people who are employed as managers
                      ought to be able to vote."

                      I have to say that I was a little stunned, and I know that I didn't
                      give him the answer that he wanted.  I told him that certainly wasn't the
                      case according to the Constitution of the United States, an answer that
                      angered the executive enough to make a complaint to the bar manager.  I
                      was later reprimanded, and told to never get in political arguments
                      with the customers.  My protest that it wasn't an argument, that I merely
                      gave a direct answer to a direct question, fell on deaf ears.  I was
                      also told that he was a Vice President of an airline and a regular
                      customer, and that I should never so offend him again.  Such was my early
                      lesson that there is no such thing as free speech - at least for labor -
                      in the realm of corporate management.

                      I tend to think of this incident whenever someone mentions that the
                      United States government should be run like a corporation, and by
                      experienced corporate managers.  I know I also thought of it in 2000 when Jeb
                      Bush and Katherine Harris disenfranchised over 90,000 voters in order to
                      steal the election for George W. Bush.  While corporatism preaches that
                      the idea is merely pragmatic, history teaches that the notion is
                      encompassed by Benito Mussolini's definition of fascism.  In fact, at one
                      point in his political life, Mussolini said that the better name for
                      fascism would be corporatism.  It is a prospect completely counter-intuitive
                      to American conservatism, but it is fully supported by American
                      neo-conservatism.  America did not defeat fascism in WWII, we merely beat it
                      back - temporarily - and it is now rising again on Main Street, USA.

                      We are told repeatedly by the neo-conservatives that a "culture war"
                      exists against evil "libruls," who wish to destroy "American values."
                      But have neocons ever once expressed exactly what these values are?
                      Historically, American conservatism preached the notion of approaching all
                      policy changes with extreme caution, in order to protect the ideals of
                      our own revolution.  Great conservative presidents from our past have
                      fought against a marriage of corporations and government as vigorously
                      as for the separation of church and state.  The fact is that most
                      corporate regulation has historically been instituted by conservative
                      presidents, both Democrat and Republican.  Yet over the last three years we
                      have witnessed a radical agenda to maximize the power of the corporation
                      at the expense of the individual.

                      In the current battle for the "soul" of America, the traditional
                      American conservative is nowhere to be found.  At least not independently.
                      The battle now is between fascism and everyone else who are now
                      identified, in corporate-speak, as "liberals."  The formerly proud Republican
                      Party has been annexed in full in a war against democracy, not by the
                      useful idiocy of George W. Bush, but by Sugarland's own toxic
                      exterminator, Tom Delay, who has publicly stated, "I am the government."

                      It is not that I would encourage conservatives to abandon their chosen
                      party, and to become Democrats.  I do encourage conservatives to
                      attempt to take their party back.  The Republican Party is not the only lost
                      party, it is merely the first to fall.  For those traditional
                      Democrats, who wonder why their party has lost the ability to fight, understand
                      that the Democratic Party is within a hare's breath of falling as well.
                      It is not beyond saving, as it seems Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich
                      are attempting to prove, but redemption requires casting off every ounce
                      of apathy.  As Burke once said, "All that is necessary for the triumph
                      of evil is for some good men to do nothing."

                      It is also incumbent that downed soldiers must rise to fight again.
                      And here, if I may, I'd like to direct my comments directly to Al Gore.

                      The most insidious attack on democracy, in my lifetime, is what
                      occurred in Florida in the year 2000.  And yet it is that moment in time that
                      finally turned apathy into action.  At a time when America had become
                      bored with American politics, that event ignited a new generation of
                      activists.  Such is logical, for it is said that one never appreciates
                      what one has until it is lost.  I have never seen a generation of
                      activists more determined to right a wrong, and so unwilling to "get over it."
                      They can only be encouraged if you, Sir, allow them to take that
                      chance.  It is only by taking your proper place in the White House that that
                      wrong can truly be rectified.

                      If it had appeared to me that you had learned nothing from the
                      experience, I would not now be asking you, imploring you, to reconsider your
                      decision not to run in 2004.  Indeed, it is apparent to me that the
                      experience has changed you in a profound way.  I have seen you turn your
                      back on the DLC, and I have seen your realization of the dangerous
                      inequities of our "Fourth Estate," caused in no small part by the presidential
                      administration in which you served.

                      I know that you feel great pain at the tragic loss of our soldiers in
                      Iraq, sworn to protect America and Americans, and the Constitution under
                      which we live; relegated instead to keeping their thumb on foreign
                      civilians, and too often to kill them for the profit of oil companies and
                      the enrichment of the military industrial complex.  I have heard you
                      speak out against the destruction of the Bill of Rights through the USA
                      PATRIOT Act.  The shredding of worker safety nets, as well as those
                      promised to the disabled, to veterans, and to families, (of the many bills
                      for which you labored) must eat at you as well.  I ask that you let us
                      help you to restore them.

                      When explaining your decision not to run in 2004 you offered that a
                      return to the arena would place an improper focus on what happened in
                      Florida almost three years ago.  I respectfully disagree.  I cannot think
                      of a more dynamic influence to raise the stakes on what will be the most
                      vital election in this nation's history.  There is simply nothing that
                      could possibly influence public interest more.  Those who work for your
                      campaign will show more ferocity than you have ever known in your
                      support.  I ask that you let us begin that work.

                      In 1993 and again in 1997 you gave this oath, "I do solemnly swear that
                      I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against
                      all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and
                      allegiance to the same..."  While the oath regards the office, you will
                      bear the title of "Mr. Vice President" until the day you die, until you
                      renounce the title, or until you achieve a higher office.  That oath
                      follows you still.  Please consider, once again, how best to be true to
                      that oath.  Is it as a leader, or as a private citizen?  A new generation
                      of good activists ask that you lead them to do something.

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