"The Next Movement" With Denise Clay (and The Diva)
Broadcast Live on June 28, 2001
9:00 p.m. - 10 p.m. Eastern Time
Archived Audio Posted June 29, 2001
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Begins at TimeStamp 23:30
DENISE CLAY:† Hi, I'm back.† You're back with Denise Clay, and this is "The Next Movement."† And, no, I'm not still pissed off about election 2000, because I'm a reporter, I'm not allowed to be.
We talked in the first half-hour about where this anger is coming from, why people ARE still angry about the 2000 election.† Now we'd like to talk to someone who IS one of those people, who is still angry about it, and has taken her activism to the internet.
Our next guest, Tammy Talpas, has turned her anger into activism with her website, coup2k.com.† She and others have decided to protest the Bush election with all their might.† She was one of the speakers at the recent Voter March, held simultaneously in Washington DC and San Francisco, on May 19th.†
Again, if you would like to join our conversation, please do so, by giving us a call at 877.986.9200, or by sending an instant message to IMG2Studios@aol.com.
Hi, Tammy.† Thanks for joining us.
THE DIVA:† Thanks for having me on, Denise.
DENISE CLAY:† First of all, tell me a little bit about coup2k.com.
THE DIVA:† Sure.† It's a website I started a couple of weeks after the election, its nickname is "The Bush Brothers Banana Republic Resistance" [Laughter], and it originally was started as a personal page -- as a place for me to sort of catalog the news stories, and what was going on after the election -- a personal diary.† It didn't take me long to find out that I wasn't the only one online doing that, and a community sort of sprung-up around election dissent after the election, and my site got to be one of the ones that a lot of people sort of gravitated to.† Something that makes my site a little different is -- since I am a Resistance Chick, rather than a Resistance Dude -- I talk a lot about the emotional fallout of the election and its aftermath, which is something that isn't generally addressed on other websites.
DENISE CLAY:† What have you seen, in terms of emotional election fallout?† Like I mentioned in the first half-hour, I get, like, columns and cartoons, and like different types of things where you can like "beat Bush up" on the internet, from friends of mine.† But, what have you noticed?
THE DIVA:† Well, we call it "Post Coup Stress Disorder," and you talk about anger, but there is also an awful lot of depression.† People aren't eating the same, they're not sleeping the same -- they don't have the same trust in the democratic institutions of America that they used to have.† I'm one of those people.† I've dropped a good 40 pounds since the election.† I don't...† I "fall into a coma" rather than going to sleep... I feel there is so much work to be done.† I wasn't a radical (by the way, I consider myself a radical now, but I wasn't prior to the election).† What happened is, the election, and all of the things that your first guest discussed in sort of conciliatory and "maybe, maybe not" tones...† You know, certain realities have been exposed, that weren't known before the election, that cry out for some kind of reaction -- that so offend the notion of America having any sort of democratic ideals to begin with, that people feel...† I read a quote once by Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, where he said, "It was like finding out The Star of Bethlehem was a UFO!"† For a lot of people, the election, it was like finding out that your parents never loved each other -- that everything you've been taught about your government, and your government's ideals, was sort of a patriotic, jingoistic sham, that didn't have any teeth to back it up.† And so people are -- especially people that are isolated in rural areas or heavily republican areas -- are feeling very depressed, and angry (of course).† And the media is playing into this in a big way.† If their voices (the people that feel the way I do)... If their voices had been representedin the media from the get-go, if there had even been a discussion of the issues raised by the election -- an open discussion, rather than a sort of "rah-rah," prayer-breakfast-booster-meeting about how great America is, and how wonderful this "peaceful transition of power" is...† You know, NOBODY wants to see violence, but everyone wants to believe that their country is democratic.† And I KNOW America is a republic, but it is a republic in which our leaders are elected by democratic processes, and it's those processes that are felt to be under attack (by people like me).† And we are certain that we have the correct moral stand, and ethical stand on this, and that OUR values are the values of the mainstream.† The reason we're as angry as we are, is that we're just better informed.
DENISE CLAY:† Now, in terms of the stuff that you get on your website, what are people saying to you?† I guess, what are people saying?
THE DIVA:† There's a great deal of frustration about the media, of course.† you mentioned that the story of blacks being disenfranchised, and other minorities -- Jews, the elderly, the disabled -- being disenfranchised in Florida, wasn;t really a story until recently, when the Civil Rights Commission came out with their report.† While that's true, to an extent, it's also completely incorrect, but it's also completely incorrect, because the day after the election, The Nation Magazine printed that story.† Before the election, Mother Jones talked about that reality.†
DENISE CLAY:† Well, when I said it wasn't really a story...† It CAME OUT in the mainstream... As someone who is African American, and has observed the whole vote, it was a story to me [laughter].†
THE DIVA:† Well, of course.† And that is what is so disturbing and infuriating for people like me:† That we turn on the mainstream media, and the story of a supermodel being in a car accident because of a cell phone issue, is of more urgent importance than the story of an election system that -- whether or not there is any malicious intent -- is set up to create the disenfranchisement of voters.† And Vincent Bugliosi in his book, "The Betrayal of America," makes the point that intent follows the bullet.† We don't say to someone that is hit by a drunk driver, "You're not a crime victim, because they didnít MEAN to hit you."†† We say, "You are a crime victim.† Their intent is not the issue.† They were negligent in their conduct, and they must be held accountable."
DENISE CLAY:† I havenít had a chance to read Mr. Bulgiosi's book, but I've heard he takes a LEGAL look at this, from the point of view of being a lawyer.†
THE DIVA:† Yes, from the point of view of being a prosecutor.† He goes over a great deal of ground about the history of The Court, its ideological sort of foundation.† And when I say "The Court," I am referring to what he calls "The Felonious Five," and what I call "The Filthy Five," or "The Hive of Five."† Which are all justices that are, even in the case of Clarence Thomas, not particularly new to The Court. ††They have a record of how they'ce come down on issues like this in the past.† And what they did is, basically, an absolutely-snap-180-degrees, to basically hand the election to the candidate of their choice.† And yes, that is absolutely legal, and their right, in the sense that they are the final arbiter in matters that come before them; however, it is absolutely not acceptable, either under their oath to the Constitution, or under the canon of ethics or Bar standards for anybody practicing law in this country.† And Vincent's book is BRILLIANT, in that it talks not only about the spurious arguments they make to support their decision, but it also talks about "The Gore Exception," which is the portion of their decision that basically says, "Please, in the future, do not use this decision as a precedent when you argue before us, because we only 'mean it' for this one case."† And he talks about the reality of "the guilty mind," which is how their behavior demonstrates that they knew, when they were writing the decision, that it was not a decision that could stand any sort of legal test.† Unfortunately, Mr. Bugiosi is being blacked-out by the mainstream media.† The most popular venue for authors promoting new works is to go on the morning shows -- "Good Morning America," "Today" on NBC -- and he has been rebuffed in his attempt to be on these programs, by producers (I assume)...† But they are saying to him, "Nobody cares anymore about this.† This is old news."† And it strikes me as beyond all understanding that Clinton's sex life is still news, but THIS is not.† This is a situation that had at least 50 million victims -- at least 50 million affected parties -- but that, somehow, is not of any importance to the media.† And by the way, I should say, I'm not black, but I AM.† What I mean by that is, genetically I'm white, and I've always self-identified as "white," but when the Congressional Black Caucus stood to challenge the Florida electors, and to demand a hearing on the issues of Election 2000, I realized in that moment that THAT was my family.† That these are the people that need my allegiance, support... my emotional back-up.† And I formally switched my race.† I was fortunate enough to have a woman in Berkeley, California named Lynne Reynolds officially welcome me to the black race.† I now consider myself "The Whitest Black Chick in America."† I no longer trust the media.† They told me that the only people angry about this election were black people.† And I can tell you -- I'm sure you know about the digital divide -- the majority of the letters I get ARE NOT from black Americans.† The majority are from white Americans, on the internet, who have the time and resources to take part in the internet dissent movement.† They feel exactly the way I do, in the sense that they now self-identify as black, because it's a way of protesting the media's constant assertion that the only people angry about this situation are people that they, THEMSELVES, were disenfranchised.† WE feel that is ANY Americans vote was not counted, that then none of us -- NONE OF US -- are safe, and NONE OF US have votes that matter.† It may be blacks, or Jews, or the disabled, TODAY, that are not being counted, but if that reality is allowed to stand, then any of us -- ANY OF US -- can be the next victims.† So we are committed to fighting this fight, whether of not we have a racial dog IN the fight.†
DENISE CLAY:† Do Republicans find their way onto your site, and what kind of response do you get from them?
THE DIVA:† Oh, from the beginning.† Yes, of course...† Yes, of course they found their way onto my site.† There is a group of Republicans -- I will not use the name for them that is popularly used -- that I refer to as "The Peanut Butter People" [Laughter], who generally make a lifestyle of sending viruses to the WebMasters of sites they don't approve of, who called for attacks on Mia Lawrence (the woman who is responsible for Jenna Bush being arrested --† being cited -- for underage drinking at Chuy's), who spam e-mail lists...† Who do all sorts of cloak-and-dagger, you know, macho crap to try to stop dissent on the internet.† I've gotten a lot of hate mail.† Most of it is, of course, obscene, so I can't tell you what they say, but if you type "peanut butter" on my site, you can go and read some of the lovely mail I've gotten from these lovely people.† Basically, they don't feel in the slightest bit threatened by someone like me, they're not reacting to me because they feel that I'm any sort of a threat to them, they're reacting to me because they consider it FUN to basically throw their little bombs of hate into the middle of MY party, which, of course, is my website.† Another thing that they do is, basically, spam internet polls.† They've set up scripts on their computers that allow them to vote, delete the cookie that says they've vote, vote again, delete the cookie...† Which is one of the reasons that some of your listeners may have been to internet sites, and read polls, and gone, "My goodness!† I didnít know 90% of Americans were for allowing automatic weapons in supermarkets!"† So, yes, they've reacted quite strongly, but never in a substantive fashion.† I'm very cautious about what I say on my site, in the sense that I don't spin.† I give the truth, from my point of view.† I don't claim to be objective, but I ABSOLUTELY claim to be honest.† They'll send the occasional letter that is not obscene, that says, "I've never read such a bunch of crap as I read on your site!"† But when I wrote back, and say, "Could you be more specific?," there's never a reply, because nothing on my site can be attacked on the merits, only attacked in a general fashion [laughing].
DENISE CLAY:† I was going to ask if you respond to these criticisms.† I sometimes get on websites, and go around, just to see what people are writing, and a lot of it is pretty nasty stuff.
THE DIVA:† If I respond, I tend to respond with humor.† The morale that's out there amongst MY people is very low right now.† They feel very insecure about the future of our self-governance.† They're depressed -- and I don't mean clinically depressed -- I mean they've been traumatized by what happened.† So I try to use humor to, well, A)† Keep them fighting, because depression can immobilize a person, and B) Because I think humor is very effective in getting a point across.† There's a reason you get political cartoons in your inbox.† You know, 'a picture's worth a thousand words.'† But I do, yes, I do respond.† Not always.† At one point I was receiving mail from Stormfront out of Florida, which is a neo-Nazi group, and my singular and only response to them was, you know, basically, "I know who you are, come get me."† After that, I ceased to respond to them, because there are some people who have no respect for the democratic institutions of our country.† Nothing that I say is going to convince them that blacks being disenfranchised is a crime.† They don't care.† They don't CARE to care.† For them, victory is the highest (What's the word I'm looking for?)... the HIGHEST goal, and everything else is secondary.† For me, I can tell you that, had the Supreme Court made a similar decision in favor of Al Gore, and said, "the votes of Americans don't have to be counted to determine the outcome of this election?"† I would be online now.† I'm a partisan, ONLY in the sense that I am a partisan for what the Democratic Party STANDS for.† But if Democratic Party officials no longer stand for what I stand for, I would go after them, all rhetorical guns blazing, just as I do the Republicans now.
DENISE CLAY:† Now, I understand that you were one of the speakers at the Voter's March in San Francisco.
THE DIVA:† Yes, I was.† I was the "Resistance Chick" on the program that day.
DENISE CLAY:† Can you tell us a little bit about the Voters' March, and what it was addressing?
THE DIVA:† Well, VoterMarch.org and VoterWest.org are two incarnations of the same group, which is VoterMarch, LLC.† And they exist basically, not only to protest what's gone before, but to agitate for democratic reforms in the processes of our elections.† Right now, I talked to you when we were discussing our interview this evening, about the brilliance of this coup.†
DENISE CLAY:† Mmm-Hmm?
THE DIVA:† There are so many levels on which our democratic institutions fail us.† And you can argue, ANYONE can argue, whether that is by design, or by accident, but the fact is, the way the Civil Rights laws are written in this country, intent is not an issue.† Effect is the issue.† If people are disenfranchised, it is not necessary to prove malicious intent on the part of the people that institute that disenfranchisement.† So VoterMarch/VoterWest exist to dissent from the Supreme Court decision, AND to demand and agitate for democratic reforms in our election processes.† The VoterMarch was not as successful as the J20 event, because of course there was NO WAY that the media could NOT cover the inauguration (or as we say, the infraudulation) of our new Resident (because we don't call him the "President").† The May 19th event was not as well-attended as the J20 event in Washington, DC, but the people that were there...† I was enchanted and thrilled by how brilliant and smart and committed these people were.† Many of them are longtime activists, but a great many of them are like me, they're "Rookie Freedom Fighters."† They're people that it took something as egregious and as unspeakable as what happened in Election 2000, to get them off-the-dime and into activism in a big way.† We had people speaking there, at VoterWest, who are constitutional scholars, who are longtime electoral advocates, who saw this problem coming a mile away.† I can't claim that kind of brilliance.† I had no idea -- NO IDEA -- that we were even in a situation where something like this was possible.† And I certainly never believed that the Supreme Court could get away with such a partisan decision, and that basically our Fourth Estate, the people we count on to inform us, would (you know) roll over to have their belly scratched, rather than barking like crazy.† It was a real wake-up call for me, so when I spoke at VoterWest, I spoke from the point of view of someone who was awoken from a sort of ignorant slumber by the realities of the election.† And the response, to me, because I also spoke about the emotional fallout...† Because, as I said, it's not a standard mode of operation for people in dissent movements to talk about emotion.† They talk about policy.† They talk about effective resistance.† But it's in my nature to talk about emotion, so I do.† And I found that the response to that portion of my remarks was just amazing.† When I stepped off the stage, I was sort of...† not mobbed... (because, you know, people on our side don't do the "mob" thing, just paid Congressional staffers in Miami-Dade County [laughter] from the Republican Party that like to mob people...)† but I was met when I came off the stage by a lot of people, who've never heard of me (of course), and who couldn't believe that anyone was going through the same thing that they were.† I just have to say that I got a kick out of seeing that there is now advertisement on TV for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder medication.† There never were before the election, and I think to myself, "Well, at least there's now a market for it."† [laughter]† You know, "Maybe before there wasn't a market for it, but now there IS."
I'm sorry.† What was your...?† I think I may have gotten off the question that you asked.
DENISE CLAY:† No, that's fine.† My next question was, what part do you think voter apathy played in all this?† And do you think that this will make people who at one time were apathetic get up and vote; or, will it make people who voted for the first time this year decide, "Well, our political process is so screwed up...† Why bother?"
THE DIVA:† I try really hard not to speak for everyone, because I only know what I know for myself, personally, and what I am told by others, but I do know that following the election, there were polls done of people that did not vote.† And the majority of them -- the vast majority (and I do not mean plurality, I mean majority) -- said that they would have voted for Al Gore.† And of course, they were coming to that decision with the knowledge of how the Republicans were acting in the post-election period.† You have to remember, a lot of people that are not partisan WERE offended by seeing elderly Jews in Palm Beach County called "retards."† They found that offensive, just from a human point of view.† Others were offended by the paid rent-a-mob, the Congressional staffers that were flown down and put-up in hotels in Miami-Dade County to shut down the recount.† Certain actions that were taken by Republicans in the post-election period were just bound to create a negative backlash.† The media, whether by design, or whether by what I call just "sheer nincompoopery," dropped the ball on discussing that as well -- discussing the sort of tactics that were used by Republicans in the post-election period.† But I do hear from people who did not vote, and I do hear from people (believe it or not) who claim to be registered republicans.† And I also hear from people that have never voted, who are to young to vote.† You'd be quite surprised by the way 16- and 17-year olds perceive what happened.† I think, in many ways, because they're new to politics, and maybe weren't politically aware during impeachment, this (for them) is a huge shock, and VERY motivating...† in the sense of, I mean, it's like watching the World Wrestling Federation!† They had no idea that politics could get so down-and-dirty, and be so dramatic.† The ones that write me, and I've not yet heard from someone under 18 who's written in to attack my site or my position, the ones that write in to me tell me that they're glad that they came to political awareness at a time when there was so much work to be done, because it keeps them motivated, and on-task.†
DENISE CLAY:† Is this anger, this motivation, sustainable?† Is it something that'll fade?† Do you think that it will fade?
THE DIVA:† That...† That's a very tough question.† I can tell you that my personal lifestyle after the election was not sustainable.† I wasn't eating at all... I wasn't sleeping, but maybe two or three hours a night, because I felt...† And, by the way, I don't have such a grandiose, delusional self-image that I thought that I could do ANYTHING to fix this.† That wasn't the issue.† I was speaking out, because I needed to speak out, for my own personal reasons -- not because I thought that I could have any great effect on anything.† The immediate burst of energy after the election is physically unsustainable.† There's just no way that people can not sleep and not eat for four years.† And since Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life, there certainly is no way that we can keep that up for twenty or thirty years.
DENISE CLAY:† That's very true.
THE DIVA:† However, what started out as a burst of almost volcanic activity, and commitment, and...† You know, I was at the Los Angeles Federal Building in Westwood protesting every Saturday after the election.† And no, that's not possible to sustain.† However, what started out as just this incredible outpouring of sort of (you know) grassroots activism, what it's turned into now is A) more traditional activism -- writing public officials, writing the media, affiliating with groups that are fighting for what we believe in, supporting each other in the activism paths that we choose...† But there's also some nontraditional things that are going on.† I'm not a writer, and I'm not a web designer.† And as I told Vincent Bugliosi, I'm nothing at all.† But a lot of people have made speaking out -- in whatever venue they choose -- part of their regular lifestyle.† People that don't write for a living are writing, and they are creating a permanent digital record of how Americans felt at this time in our national history -- how they felt, what they believed, what they knew.† And the great thing about this is, when articles go missing off of mainstream publications (which does, in fact, happen), there are websites which have referenced them... have quoted them.† So even if those articles go missing, there is a permanent record now that these facts were in the public eye at this time, and that people were responding to them.†
DENISE CLAY:† About how many people visit your site in an average week?
THE DIVA:† This is where I have to do a mea culpa.† When I switched from a free server, which is basically...† I was using a virtual domain hosting service to point to a free server.† When I switched to a real server, I never installed a separate CGI script to know what kind of traffic I got.† But at the time I switched, I was getting about a thousand hits a day.† Now, on my free server, I'm down to about a hundred hits a day, but during the overlap period, it was about 10-to-1, so I'm figuring that somewhere between 500 and 2000 hits a day, I would say, is about right.† Which, by the way, is nothing.† However, I also send out a newsletter through an e-mail list, which I know is forwarded widely, because I get responses from people who are clearly not quoting my site, they are quoting exactly what I'm sending out in my newsletter.† There is more than one way for people to hear what is being said on my site.† And, by the way, my site is not just MY writings.† I publish other brilliant writers -- †like Rose Thomas, Carol Schiffler, James Higdon, Beth Albertson -- these wonderful writers that have spring up after the election.† I publish anyone who sends me anything that is of good quality, and that is in-line with the position that my site takes.† I give them a voice on my site, as well as on whatever sites are publishing them already, because I am not the sort of a person that believes having too many sites is a problem, or is going to overwhelm people. †I'd like to see 10 million sites like mine, and everyone wading in and being heard. †As to how many people visit, I can't say for certain, but I can say that †statistically (which, by the way, I am dying to speak about the statistical issues -- but I think we're running out of time [DENISE CLAY: †Yes] -- about the election).† Statistically, I'd say that between 500 and 2000 a day would be probably a low-to-high estimate.
DENISE CLAY:† Now, if folks wanted to access your site, how would they get there?† What is your web address?
THE DIVA:† It's coup2k.com.† That "coup," as in "coup d'etat" (which is C-O-U-P), the number "2," the letter "k," ".com."† They can also go to any of the major search engines like Google, and just type "diva" (I'm "The Diva" -- that's my pen name), and "bbbr" (those are the initials for "Bush Brothers Banana Republic"), and it will, of course, hit on my site.†
DENISE CLAY:† Well, I thank you very much for joining us Miss Talpas, and I really appreciate your input.†
THE DIVA:† And I thank you for having me on, Denise.† You have a wonderful show.†
DENISE CLAY:† Thanks.† We'll be back after a short break.† You're listening to IMG2.com, and this is "The Next Movement."
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