In late May the new leader of America's fight against illegal drugs, Gil Kerlikowske, returned to Seattle, the dope-tolerating city where he'd previously served as police chief. As part of the visit, he stopped by a local morning radio talk show, where right off the bat he declared, "I'm ending the phrase, 'the war on drugs.'"
Burner leaves a pamphlet in the door of a home Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006 in Puyallup, Wash. (AP Photo/Karie Hamilton)
To understand how invested online activists were in the campaign of Darcy Burner -- the bright, tech-savvy, and ultimately failed candidate for Congress in Washington state's 8th Congressional District -- consider what happened in February of last year, when the University of Washington's student newspaper, not normally a major player in national politics, published excerpts of an interview with Burner campaign spokesman Sandeep Kaushik.
Speaking to a student reporter about the nationwide army of liberal bloggers and online activists who have become a force at all levels of politics in recent years, Kaushik said: "They're not at the point yet where they can really swing a race. Part of my job is making sure people know the blogosphere is not the campaign."
There is a scene in Gus Van Sant's Milk that goes some way toward explaining the unprecedented nationwide protests that occurred after California voters, on Nov. 4, reinstituted a ban on gay marriage in their state by passing Proposition 8.
In the scene, Sean Penn, playing the gay rights icon Harvey Milk, celebrates an almost diametrically opposite moment in history: the gay rights movement's 1978 victory over California's Proposition 6, which would have banned homosexuals, or anyone who supported them, from teaching in public schools.
"We can come home," Milk, as played with impressive intuition and bravery by Penn, tells a cheering crowd of activists in San Francisco on the night that Prop. 6 was defeated.
It's morning on the Fourth of July in conservative Greeley, Colorado, and along 10th Avenue, the town's residents are staking out choice spots from which to watch the parade. A man in a "Got Freedom?" T-shirt claims a piece of sidewalk. A family with young kids dressed in patriotic hues sits along a curb. An elderly woman sets up under a shade tree with her oxygen tank at her side and a tiny American flag stuck to its valve.