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Were you shocked by:

•    The Bush v. Gore breakdown of vote-counting & rule of law?
•    W’s blank check in Iraq in return for mishandling the 9-11 lead-in and follow-up?
•    The 2008 financial crisis and bail-outs resulting in an increase, rather than a decrease, in the size and political influence of TBTF banks?
Do you wonder why those who gain from both spontaneous and manufactured crises, by implementing “the Shock Doctrine”, detailed by Naomi Klein in her book of the same name (, always seem to be the enemies of social democracy (at least since FDR)?  One reason is that social democrats fail to seize their own opportunities to benefit from shocks.

One shock and after-shock opportunity has been unrolling since mid-2013: the serial disclosures of Edward Snowden’s evidence on the extent of the US government’s and its contractors’ expanded warrant-less collection and usage of information, and reduced transparency and judicial and political supervision.  These disclosures have put the surveillance state’s apologists on the defensive – but for how long?

•    It’s now or never.
•    By the end of 2014, the shock of these disclosures will have worn off, as apologists develop new cover stories, and as the media and actual and potential voters are distracted by new news (real and fabricated).
•    Moreover, if the 2014 election results contain no surveillance-related surprises, politicians and the mainstream media will pronounce that the present scope of data collection, usage, transparency and supervision has been ratified by the voters.

How can this opportunity be seized? See below the orange shock.

How can this opportunity be seized?

•    One way is to elect a few surveillance critics and remove a few surveillance apologists -- the more surprising, the better.
•    Can this make a difference?
•    Yes -- is the lesson of Senator Liz Warren’s impact on the national conversation about banks, their victims, and other economic issues.

Getting lucky is not a strategy

•    We were lucky that, after the financial crisis-bailout shock, Warren had her regulatory appointment blocked, and she happened to reside in a state ripe for replacing its Republican Senator.
•    We need to more proactively make our own luck in order to accomplish something similar in response to the surveillance shock.  
•    Otherwise, even the best and most deeply grounded incrementalist political strategies will not be sufficient to counteract the Right’s successful seizure of their opportunities.
What’s the rush? Analogous to the geophysical tipping points of Climate Change, there may be political tipping points from:
•    the morphing of Eisenhower's military-industrial-complex into a military-financial-surveillance-complex, and
•    the additional power-concentrating and dissent-chilling effects of extreme surveillance.
On the potentially influential, but so far largely complicit Senate Intelligence Committee:
•    Committee chair California Democrat Dianne Feinstein,, is not up for 2014 re-election.
•    A committee member needing 2014 re-election is surveillance critic Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall.
•    A committee member needing 2014 defeat is surveillance apologist Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins, whose response to the initial Snowden disclosures was to amplify quickly discredited assurances, by stating:

the program, in which the NSA collected information on the phone calls and emails of millions of Americans "has defeated and thwarted dozens and dozens of terror plots both here and overseas" (Source:

Collins went on to say:
“We should not assume a trade-off between liberty and security.”
•    Collins asserted as an argument that lax supervision and transparency of security will result in more liberty, but
•    is more persuasive as an argument that more liberty will result in more security.
Luck, Unluck & Making Luck:
•    Unluckily, Collins is more popular, and much more entrenched, than former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, while Maine, although twice voting emphatically for Obama, has yet not fully broken with its history of electing moderate-campaigning Republican Senators.
•    Luckily, Collins’ opponent Shenna Bellows has a profile that is perfect for leveraging Collins’ surveillance apologism into voter reexamination of
(i) Collins’ lagging behind recent trends in Maine public opinion on many issues,
(ii) Collins’ political trustworthiness, and ultimately
(iii) Collins’ personal likeability.
•    Luckily for us, Bellows has made her own luck, by surpassing all expectations in articulateness, energy, organizing, outreach to independents and libertarians, visibility, endorsements and fundraising. (Details, and comments by Kossacks, are in the diaries listed here).
•    Will we make our own luck? To do so, we must contribute visibility and support to help increase Bellows’ momentum during the next few weeks, as her campaign prepares to enter the final two quarters' home stretch with lift-off in the balance.
Overlapping Strategies:
Seizing shocks can and should be accompanied by other strategies, which should include, but not be limited to poll-watching. Luckily, the Bellows-Collins-Maine contest also fits under several other Senate strategies, for example:
•    Targeting Symbolic Opponents: Like Mitch McConnell, Collins’s defeat would be interpreted as rejection of an entire political strategy.
•    Bang for Buck: Like Mark Begich’s Alaska, Maine is a cheap media market with a population small enough to reward face-to-face campaigning.
•    Outsider Freshness: Like Al Franken (& Liz Warren), Bellows represents a strategy of Democratic outsiders leapfrogging lower-level offices to make first-time runs for the Senate, against Republicans who have already defeated office-holding Democrats.
•    Regional Consolidation: Like Jeanne Shaheen’s New Hampshire, accelerating Maine’s transition to a completely Blue state could help achieve a solidly Blue regional bloc in New England, better able to coordinate regional public policies (and to counter-balance the Republicans' virtual Senate lock on other regions).
Many Kossacks have been skeptical of Bellows’ chances, which, when she declared her candidacy four months ago, faced long odds, against an incumbent widely regarded as unbeatable (despite Collins' longtime Maine Senatorial ‘twin’ Olympia Snowe having been pressured into retirement by a tea partier in the last cycle).
•    Those odds have now been narrowed, but this race remains difficult.
•    If the race wasn’t difficult, it would not need a surveillance shock, and would not send a shocking message back to DC.
•    Taking the chance of ‘swinging for the fences’ is central to seizing shock opportunities.
•    Did W’s team hesitate to take chances to grab Florida’s 2000 electoral votes, or to blame Iraq and absolve Saudi Arabia for 9-11?
•    Did Rahm Emmanuel hesitate to call “F*cking Retards” Progressives who tried to apply, on responses to the financial crisis, the pressure that President Obama had invited?
Let’s recall another famous comment by Rahm: “Never let a crisis go to waste”.
•    With hindsight, it appears that Rahm did a reasonable job of getting much of what he wanted from the financial crisis.
•    Did we get much of what we wanted?
•    Do we have a plan for getting anything from the surveillance crisis?
•    Are we willing to take chances to get it?
•    If not, then was Rahm accurate in labeling us as “F*cking Retards” (even if his reasons were the opposite of the actual reasons)?
We should welcome “Rahm-Tard” calling us retards for taking chances to seize opportunities from the surveillance crisis, which is going to be “not news” very soon, unless we can sustain it with the undeniable “new news” of:
“Surveillance Sinks Senator; Shocks Senate!”

Originally posted to BellowsforSenate on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 04:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Knowledge Democrats.

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Comment Preferences

  •  what's Shenna Bellow's stance on food stamps? (0+ / 0-)

    Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

    by terrypinder on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 04:36:55 AM PST

  •  “Surveillance Sinks Senator” (4+ / 0-)

    That would shock the whole country.

    Simple fact, this system does not spy on Al Qaeda. We know how Al-Q communicates and they don't use telephones. They haven't used telephones for a decade.

    Surveillance NOT war fighting.

    Same time our guys got bin Laden's lists of contacts. That turned into a covert mid-scale war, where there's not much question who won.

    Obama has lost 10 Americans to terrorism.

    Reagan lost 675. Clinton lost 444. Bush43 lost 3,206.

    D'oh. And worldwide terrorism has been crippled as well, which not one Big Republican is willing to address. (Yeah, Democrats are way better at killing terrorists; GOPers go in with a whole army and attack the wrong country.)

    Healthcare remains Obama's greatest victory. Killing the fxck out of Al-Q is a close second.

    "Teachers: the Architects of American Democracy"

    by waterstreet2013 on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 05:22:47 AM PST

  •  ps I would change the bit about "ret**ds" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's going to limit the success of your diary. Just because he used it doesn't mean you'll get a pass.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 05:49:48 AM PST

  •  Good ideas (0+ / 0-)

    Good diary. I would have gone with a title that doesn't distract by giving Rahm more credit than he's due.

    Sunday mornings are more beautiful without Meet the Press.

    by deben on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 06:13:40 AM PST

  •  I know the Pirate Party in Amsterdam (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Is capitalizing on it, running an anti-surveillance candidate for city council. Helps a lot that she's pretty high profile.

    First they came for the farm workers, and I said nothing.

    by Hannibal on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 06:42:31 AM PST

  •  PCCC is endorsing Bellows for this reason. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The PCCC just sent an email to its nearly 1 million members endorsing Shenna Bellows for US Senate from Maine.

    “We call Shenna Bellows the ‘Elizabeth Warren of civil liberties’ because she’s campaigning boldly on constitutional freedom and economic populism,” said PCCC co-founder Stephanie Taylor. “Like Elizabeth Warren’s challenge to former Sen. Scott Brown, many insiders thought Susan Collins was unbeatable. Until now.”

  •  also Blue America. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RandomNonviolence, unfangus

    Down WIth Tyranny! lays out in detail the case for replacing Collins with Shenna Bellows.

    " key Senator-- my opponent, Susan Collins-- is standing in the way of Congressional oversight. Susan Collins voted against requiring the Executive Branch to fully report on the drone killing program in the Intelligence Committee, and now the measure is stalled in the Senate. She and I may disagree about the costs and benefits of the drone killing program. But there's a deeper issue in her refusal to allow details about the program to be released. It goes to the role of government itself. Either we trust government to conduct important business in our names in secret. Or we demand freedom of information, one of the cornerstones of our democracy. I'm running for the United States Senate to restore our constitutional freedoms and advance open government. I believe there can be no meaningful public debate about any government program without freedom of information. Government secrecy breeds abuse of power. It also leads costly mistakes."
    - See more at:

    •  For context on this issue (0+ / 0-)

      in 2008, the national League of Conservation Voters endorsed Collins (with her good-for-a-Republican-but-lousy-for-a-progressive-Dem record) over Tom Allen, who had a much stinger record. It's the classic story of a nonpartisan organization looking for the least-offensive token R to endorse, a practice Collins has benefited from on various issues.

      I think the Bellows campaign is being proactive on this issue. The action link above brings signers to a second action-

      Dear (),
      Thank you for standing up for environmental protection today. 
      This is also an opportunity to make your voice heard by contacting an influential environmental group.  
      You can contact Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters, at 202-785-8683 and tell him you are an environmentalist who supports Shenna Bellows for U.S. Senate in Maine. 
      As the Bellows press release on the environmental endorsements points out,
      Just recently, the League of Conservation Voters released their annual National Environmental Scorecard, which grades each member of Congress based on his or her environmental voting record.  Republican Susan Collins scored only a 69% on her record of standing up for the environment. To environmentalists’ dismay, Republican Susan Collins voted for the Keystone XL Pipeline, against clean energy tax incentives, and against water protections. By contrast, Senator Angus King received a score of 92%.

      Support a Progressive Dem from Maine for US Senate! Bellows for Senate

      by Illegitimi non carborundum on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 05:24:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bellows' $ have gotten Collins' attention (0+ / 0-) shown by this letter-to-editor from Maine Republican Party executive director Jason Savage.

    See the webpage's comments for debunking of the letter's claims and insinuations.

  •  I think that Bellows will win. (0+ / 0-)

    She is closer to the ethos of the voters and her platform is based on her beliefs rather than a vetted, tested party concoction. Nor can the effect of Warren be underestimated. Warren has shown that a freshman senator can make a difference in the national dialog. Bellows would only add to that effect.

    It is more in the interest of the average voter to elect Bellows. Collins is little different than a Third-way democrat, which seems to be the type the the party apparatus favors. More needs to be brought out about the Third way, DLC, centrist brand of Democrat and how they have undermined the middle and working class.

    Prior to becoming more interested in the political situation, I thought that the differences among Democrats were personal political differences, I didn't realize that there were more or less organized factions within the party. Bill Clinton confused me, but I thought that was caused by his own personal Southern Democrat brand of Politics. When Obama, a Northern Democrat, basically gave us another Clinton Presidency, I knew something wasn't right, and I tried to figure out what was going on. However, if Hillary runs, it will be difficult to run against the notion of a Clinton Democrat, and it would be difficult to run as an anti-Obama Democrat since he is still the sitting President, as he will be in 2016.

    Hillary will have to break with the Clinton past if she wants to win, and she is in ironically the best position to do it, provided that she has the wisdom to see that. She spoke about the vast right-wing conspiracy back in the nineties, few wanted to believe her, but the time is ripe for her to expose it for what it is. Hillary actually has a good chance to swing the country back to the left. She has personal experience with the Republican conspiracy. She also has experience with the "Deep State" and the Presidency. I would also think that she would want hers to be a historical administration, which Third-way policies are not going to give her. However, we will need to have as many progressives like Bellows as we can elect in order to support Hillary or pressure her, since whether she is elected or does move the country to the left remains to be seen.

    I now know that the two party system is a false duality and that the Democrats have been partially co-opted by Republithink. The party purists who put party unity over dissent from the accepted party line have only weakened the Democratic brand. Many people see no difference between the two parties and vote Republican because they feel the Republican candidate will at least do something. It's a kind of Stockholm syndrome.

    Bellows provides the necessary difference, and if she is sincere after she gets elected, it will make all the difference, and how she fares and how she comports herself in office will have an effect on other races the way Warren has.

    Sadly, it is the Republicans who have shown us the way as they organized against what they saw as a vast left-wing conspiracy, which, incidentally only existed in their own fearful little minds.  The right has been using the backdoor to limit populist causes and legislation. The labor movement, civil rights movements and anti war movements, were primarily locally and publically driven. They didn't have a Chamber of Commerce, an ALEC or an AIPAC backing them working behind the scenes influencing policy makers. We need to develope similar committees which will scrutinize any ALEC legislation and call it out. On the other hand, the left has traditionally used the tactic of public action to pressure law makers to make decisions more favorable to the people. By taking over control of the news media, the right has effectively undermined the effect of public action by not allowing the word to get out. They are assaulting the internet for similar reasons. Net neutrality is the fairness doctrine of the internet.

    Like the Republicans, we need to pay more attention to local and state elections, and Bellows is just that. More progressive Democrats in the legislatures will push policies more favorable to the people. The progressive/centrist split doesn't help this, which means that grassroots support is even more important for progressive candidates. Grassroots support is more significant than party support anyways, because it empowers everyday people in a way that party support doesn't. Obama's negative effect on grassroots support is one of the things that has hurt progressives most.

    How do we counter the Obama effect on grassroots organizing. I think part of the problem with placing our hopes in Obama was the delusion that change could come from the top down. Again, the Republicans apparently realized this when they supported local and state candidates, taking over many state legislatures and AG offices. When they can't effect change from the top, a la BushCheney, they can effect change or stop change from the bottom, as they are doing to Obama right now.

    We need to reenforce the idea that grassroots action is best and most beneficial the closer to the ground (so to speak) that it is. Obama is one lone tall blade of wheat being buffeted by the surrounding negative environment. He needs other blades of wheat in the environment to protect him. There are patches here and there, but not enough. Electing people like Bellows helps provide that.

    I think that Bellows could strengthen her base by speaking on college campuses, not simply to get votes, but to educate the young people as to the current political situation and how progressiveism can address the current problems young people are faced with. I think that the Republicans anti voting rights activity would help underscore that their participation and votes are important. Activating the younger voters would also have a ripple effect since they have parents, friends and siblings whom they could spread the word to.

    •  I think you misunderstand Obama (0+ / 0-)
      Obama is one lone tall blade of wheat being buffeted by the surrounding negative environment. He needs other blades of wheat in the environment to protect him.

      He is part of the problem.  He wants to make $100 million from big corporations for selling us out, just like Bill Clinton has.

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