Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Friday, October 31, 2008

Studs Terkel Is Dead

The great Studs Terkel has died. I've been telling everybody not to get complacent, of course, not to assume Obama is going to win this thing… But here's hoping Terkel died with the full expectation that America is firmly turning the tide toward justice and away from the killer clowns at last, peaceful in a certainty I won't permit myself until I see it with my own eyes.

Samuel L. Jackson's Kick Ass No on 8 Ad

Best ad of the bunch, in my opinion.

Bush's Last Ditch Orgy of Destruction

This is who they are.

[via Washington Post]
The White House is working to… weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January.

The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining.

Once such rules take effect, they typically can be undone only through a laborious new regulatory proceeding, including lengthy periods of public comment, drafting and mandated reanalysis.

Seen in the context of the recent Bush cross-border provocations in the Middle East and the hyperbolic pre-emptive belligerence of the new amplified Bush Doctrine (which more or less declares war on every nation in the world, including nations that do not yet exist) I think it is safe to say that we see in these last unchecked and uncheckable efforts to enact their program a confirmation of our worst fears about the Movement Republicanism that originated in the Nixonian-Reaganist epoch and has found its earthshattering consummation in the Gingrich-Bush II epoch: A pure expression of the worst impulses human beings are capable of, a will to domination and short-sighted gain without attention to consequences, and a consequent harvest of misery, lawlessness, and destruction.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kindergarten Marxism

Look, All Fixed!

Paper Ballots Are Appropriate Technology

Link to Democracy Now! story this morning with more details:
With the election less than a week away, the battle is on for voting rights. Early voters across the country are reporting long lines and problems with electronic voting machines. Republicans, meanwhile, continue to file lawsuits that could stop thousands from voting. We speak to Harvey Wasserman of Free Press and Brad Friedman of the Brad Blog.

Julie Brown Helps Make Amor Mundi More Positive

She's Like Hitler... With a Vagina!

Baby Jeebus and His Orc Armies

[via Calitics]

Pretend to be surprised:
[O]ne of the biggest financial supporters of the Yes on 8 campaign is Elsa Prince Broekhuizen, who has pumped $450,000 into the campaign. Broekhuizen is the mother of Blackwater founder and owner Erik Prince and Bush Pioneer Betsy DeVos.

Baby Jeebus sure inspires him some fucked up love in the shriveled hearted broken brained right-wingers of his Orc Armies, don't he just, tho'?

Gathering up armies of murderers for money, funneling mountains of cash into deceptive fear-mongering propaganda to fool decent everyday people into writing bigotry into the California Constitution. Can't you just feel that sweet Baby Jeebus kindness, mercy, and love?

Everybody knows it makes Baby Jeebus cry if America isn't bombing the innocent children of brown people who live over the resources we want! Everybody knows it makes Baby Jeebus cry if loving same sex couples aren't being stigmatized, humiliated, and harmed enough!

We've heard a lot this campaign season about the energy and hope inspired by the Obama campaign. Millions of young people or long complacent older voters have been reactivated by the promise of a return to law and legitimacy, a repudiation of torture, illegal detentions, show trials, armies on the streets, warrantless wiretapping of citizens, security theatrics and heavy-handed panic-mongering, endless drumbeats for war after war after war, vilifying the patriotic protestors who drive our nation forward into freedom, trammeling the dissent that substantiates the consent of the governed, calling half the nation or more unreal Americans, un-American, traitors. Millions have been mobilized by the promise of a return to sanity in America, a rebuilding of a nation that builds things, a return to sensible regulation, oversight, progressive taxation, a secure safety net, universal healthcare, public investment in education, infrastructure, renewable energy, and the welfare of all our citizens, a repudiation of predatory lending, welfare for the rich, looting via privatization, pyramid schemes, dubious financial instruments, cronyism, fraud, and hype, all sold with vapid fantasies of spontaneous order and trickle-down elitism.

But it's wrong to think all the energy and inspiration is on Obama's side. It may be true that Obama attracts hundreds of thousands while grumpy old piratical McCain and that squawking parrot on his shoulder attract lynchmobs hundreds strong (still scary, of course, whatever the disproportionateness, given the lynch-mobbiness), there are still right-wing causes that generate real numbers and mobilize real passionate intensities. Have a look at the ecstatic transportation on the faces of the genocidal Orc armies of loving Baby Jeebus, countless thousands strong, as they contemplate the harm and heartbreak they can inflict together this election season (Yes, We Can! Yay, Hate!) to their lesbian and gay neighbors, co-workers, family members, and fellow citizens. What a true abiding inspiration they are!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Not Buying It

[Graphic via the incomparable, indispensable]

So, when the Villagers handwave about a "tightening race" is it that they think we really have access to no information at all? Do they really think we still uncritically buy these whomped up story lines? Even after they facilitated the stolen elections in 2000 and 2004 and cheerlead us into a catastrophic immoral illegal idiotic and unpopular war and occupation of choice in Iraq? Honestly?

McCain can't win except by stealing it. Simple as that. The negatives have been all but insurmountable since before McCain sewed up the Nomination for anybody with eyes to see them, and all the Killer Clowns jumping ship and pulling out the long knives in these final days tell the tale more pithiliy and nastily than I could do.

There is no Bradley Effect. There is no tightening race. There is no on-the-margins electoral strategy for McCain that doesn't ultimately translate to "fascist putsch."

McCain can't win the Election democratically. We still need to vote in unprecedented numbers and with unprecedented energy for Obama, but this is because we need to prevent fascists from stealing the election at the margins, and we need to provide the Obama Administration an adequate supermajority to overcome Republican obstructionism to the hard work from us all and real costs to pampered elites that needs doing if we are not to become an outright failed state over the next few years.

Notice, by the way, that McCain's brief Convention Bounce amounts to a blip on a data terrain endlessly testifying otherwise to the Republican Negatives of the unprecedentedly failed Bush Administration and catastrophic consummation of "Movement Republican" corporate-militarism sold through Christianist PR and the politics of Nixonian resentment. That brief blip is actually more a "Palin Bounce" than a Convention Bounce, properly so-called, and is best conceived as the same sort of delusive clutching at straws that Movement Republican True Believers could have whomped up if a meteor had struck outside the Republican Convention and a few Fox News anchors claimed to see the face of Ayn Rand in the embers. It was one last ditch ejaculation of True Belief in the face of reality before America actually got to know Palin and saw that she is indeed the same old dumb elitist theocratic story they've already left for dead among the ruins of the Washington Consensus and the Gipper's pomade.

If Only

In another sign of the ugly desperation and complete unscrupulousness to be found now in even what seemed securely GOP races for the leading incumbent "luminaries" of the Killer Clown party, this mailer from the Elizabeth Dole campaign accuses her Democratic opponent of promoting, of all things, the gay atheist agenda.

As a queer atheist -- and, hell, I'll admit it, a vegetarian, too -- of many decades' standing I do wish somebody would let me in on this agenda I've been hearing about so portentiously all these years for crying out loud. I'd be so down with it if only the Great Gay Atheist Illuminati would see fit to find me worthy of being a mere footsoldier in support of The Cause!

What Do I Think About "Humanity Plus"?

Since I'm a fairly longstanding critic of the sub(cult)ural and self-described "political movement" expressions of futurological speculation especially as represented by Robot Cultists in their transhumanist, techno-immortalist, and Singularitarian flavors, I've been getting requests for my reaction to the fact that The World Transhumanist Association is now billing itself, rather preciously, as "humanity +".

Needless to say one has to wonder if a warm and fuzzy self-promotional rebranding designed to blunt the regular charges against transhumanist formulations of eugenicism and elitism is really best-served through the self-congratulatory attribution to one's own conspicuously marginal, usually embarrassingly wrongheaded, decisively Actually Human subculture of the moniker "Humanity Plus," especially given how this is apt to look from the perspective of those of us more likely to find ourselves on the Humanity Minus end of the stick.

But, you may have noticed that I don't really devote very much time to exposing Robot Cult foolishness these days, since, whatever the cruel pleasures afforded by the enterprise, ultimately it is unclear that transhumanists really deserve sustained attention once the basic critique is delineated and done with.

Therefore, to the question what do I think of WTA's rebranding as "humanity+" I think the better and short answer is not so different from what I think about Amway's rebranding as Quixtar: Not interested.

Up Is Down

[via TPM]
Last week, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) squared off in a debate with Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford. But on Lunsford's podium a GOP operative had placed a small voice recorder, presumably to pick up some off-mic comments Lunsford might make -- apparently a violation of the debate rules. When [the operative] went up to Lunsford after the debate to demand his recorder back, Lunsford said, "No you won't get it back"...

[Now] the chairman of McConnell's campaign have filed a criminal complaint against Lunsford for petty larceny and destruction of property -- because of the erasure [of the illegal recording].

[I]s there really an affirmative responsibility to return your opponent's campaign bug after you discover it?

If the details of this story are accurate as I'm hearing them, the question for me is just how lacking in self-consciousness do you have to be to try to score points accusing the one who seeks to defend himself against your illegality of illegality? Oh, I guess, all you have to be is a Republican.

The fact that the campaign in question here is Mitch McConnell's in Kentucky, which appears a bit desperate in a tight race that I certainly expected to be utterly beyond reach of a challenger suggests that Election night may be full of surprises.

Let's just hope "successful" Republican election theft sold by corporate media fluffers as expressions of the bogus "Bradley Effect" and backed up by domestic army units freshly empowered to police "unrest" at Executive order aren't the surprises we end up having to swallow...

Vote! In numbers too great to distort or to steal. Vote, vote, vote!

Not Feeling It

If I weren't out in the world teaching, I would retreat for a week into a vault too thick walled and deep underground for media to penetrate. Because when I contemplate all the trumped-up war dances and terror-threats, all the ugly racist and queer baiting smears, all the vapid "some say the earth is flat, others round" corporate "balancing" of Republican deceptions, it's hard to know how we're going to make it through this last insanely stupid disgusting storm of endless poop this week before the Elections.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

SF Mayor Gavin Newsom is Fighting the Bigotry of Prop 8

Eric and I have been together over six years now, and we've been domestically partnered for half a decade or so, but the truth is we don't really approve of marriage, at least for ourselves. We've always found it too weirdly vestigially patriarchal and propertizing to enthuse about it overmuch. Still, you better believe it makes us spittin' mad to observe the spectacle of ignorant, fearful, reactionary bigots who would exclude from us the marriage we disdain but to which we should have the right to equal access as citizens. We both disdain car culture, but you can surely imagine how we would respond to theocratic efforts to refuse faggots the right to drive! Clearly this effort to "protect marriage" from loving queer couples (rather than from, say, idiot celebrities who serially marry for publicity, for example) derives entirely from the ugly awful misguided project to find as many ways as possible to stigmatize and harm citizens like us in the eyes of a society that is otherwise growing more open, sane, and indifferent to the "difference" lgbtq folks represent with every passing year.

Observing the advocates of Prop 8 fearmongering and lying and threatening those who fail to share their self-imposed straightjackets of intolerance and fear is quite instructive, especially when contrasted with the earnest arguments one hears from the other side...

I do hope Newsom rethinks the Kennedy hair before he makes his inevitable White House bid. But, hey, he's got eight years to think it over, I'm figuring -- well, sixteen, if my dreams come true and Barbara Lee gets the nod next! Come what may, he's been fighting the good fight here for years and I'm not alone when I say I won't forget it.

It's frankly unbelievable to contemplate the millions upon millions of dollars out of state far right wing and other fundamentalist hate groups are pouring into California to write bigotry against queer folks like me and Eric into the Constitution of our Republic. They seem to think it makes Baby Jeebus cry when his believers don't hate gay people enough. What kind of sick fuck do you have to be to come to believe such a thing?

Brad Dacus, a legal advisor to the kkklatch of hateful zealots who are lying and blackmailing Prop 8 down the throats of California's citizens has many comparably bonkers and tyrannical crusades to his credit, including campaigning against the Wiccan Propaganda of Hallowe'en candy and struggling to censor the Harry Potter series for its celebration of wizardry.

Almost never have the choices between sides confronting voters in an election seemed so horrifying stark, insanity against sanity, hatred against hope, knowledge against ignorance. It's truly flabbergasting, and more than a little bit hard to bear.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Real America, Apparently

Sleaze Stack

Talking Points Memo is archiving as many Sleazy McCain Robocalls and Mailers as it can find in a central location, organized State by State.

As I've mentioned before -- and Commenters in the Moot seem to feel the same -- the level of sleaze and rabble-rousing and so on feels unprecedented and a bit unsettling this time around.

I can't help but wonder whether what is really unprecedented here isn't so much the actual race-baiting xenophobic jingoistic lying sleaze but the fact that p2p has lowered the costs of mass-publishing mailers and robocalls so much that the seamy underbelly of American Presidential politicking has been exposed for all in all its vile glory. Macaca? Anyone?

It is well known that mass-mediated attention to violent crime can whomp up hysteria about crime even as crime rates are actually falling or that stories about spectacular plane crashes can radically skew one's assessment of the safety of airline travel as against travel by other means. Who knows how the rash of stories about bears loose in suburbia will play out in the public psyche over the long haul?

Anyway, it is a great thing that the Netroots are exposing all this lying sleaze and starting to impel broadcast media into taking these disgusting local campaigning tactics into account (and taking campaigns to task for them), but just how truly unprecedented do you really think this stuff is?

Could it be that the exposure of this stuff could paradoxically undermine the effectiveness of these tactics and so diminish the frequency of their use in all but the most desperate campaigns while at once yielding an impression through this very exposure that sleazy awful campaigning is increasing dramatically?

Monday, October 20, 2008

This Is the End

Upgraded from Comments Friend of Blog Martin writes:
The tenor of this election is really, really ugly. It's obvious that Republicans hate losing much more than Democrats, and they're willing to say and do anything to stay in power, not least of which is framing the debate so that you are either an American (Republican) or a socialist terrorist.

I think when this is all said and done, and John McCain has time to reflect on his loss, he will be ashamed of his behavior. Perhaps this, rather than the Keating 5 scandal, will be the worst moment of his life.

I am hearing stories now of tires getting slashed on cars with Obama stickers, and early voters getting heckled as "cheaters" in polling places. I don't think this is a matter of one side hating to lose more than the other, I think it is a question of one side actually disapproving the very notion of democracy.

This sort of comment is all too apt to be dismissed as simply an ad hominem smear, I know -- but it really is true that there are any number of ways of organizing a polity and one senses that much of the anger of McCain's base comes from such a place of extreme rejection of the American way of life as it is actually constituted.

It seems to me that to accuse fellow citizens of "cheating" in exercising their legal right to vote implies a disapproval that this is a legal right, rather than competitiveness trumping principle.

This more extreme repudiation (in the name of a fantasy of a more "truly American" Christianist theocracy or in the service of certain incumbent powers paranoiacally imagining themselves under threat) extends as well to the arrant double standard of actually perpetuating massively disenfranchising voter fraud through a trumped up scandal about voter registration fraud in the case of Acorn involving at most a negligible threat to the integrity of the voting system, and the flabbergasting sanctimony with which Republican operatives are spreading unbelievably scurrilous claims about Obama, whomping up the worst kinds of racism, and Red-baiting, and Know-Nothingism, and rabble-rousing while accusing Obama and Democrats of "playing the race card" and indulging in "elitism" simply by recognizing the facts of what the Republicans are doing in plain sight!

I am expressing these views in a tone of no small amount of perplexity and even fearfulness, I should add. I'm not sure what exactly is going on here.

As for McCain's shame, I was never one of his big boosters back in the day (I always found him to be worrisomely militarist and anti-choice, just for starters), but I'll admit I never once imagined he was the sort of person who would stoop to this sort of thing or countenance it.

I don't know what to think of all this anymore, I find myself contemplating dark fantasies of a Rovian cabal shepherding another Bush-lite cipher (Palin) through the sausage machine of a dying Republic to maintain their corporate-militarist hegemony.

When all is said and done I simply can't believe that is true -- and if it were, I am pleased to say I do believe that these killer clowns are going down in an epic defeat.

Still, this ugly mean-spirited stinking consummation of Nixon/Reagan/Gingrich/Bush Movement Republicanism (nested within the larger Hayek/Friedman/Rand/Reagan/Thatcher/Pinochet/Deng neoliberal epoch) is a fittingly dumb small shitty end to a constellation of catastrophically murderously idiotic ideas.

Here's hoping a progressive sustainable technodevelopmental epoch of p2p democratization has more to offer for the next thirty years, and here's hoping we all remain in good enough health to enjoy and facilitate them, peer to peer.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Republican Projection

So, of course, the Republicans are trumping up a scandal of voter fraud in order to perpetuate an epic scaled voter fraud themselves. They are counting on the ignorance of the people they have always despised and, sometimes, to their cost, underestimated. They are counting on the laziness and on the prejudices of the incumbent interests of media to broadcast the fraud to do its misinformational and demoralizing work over the last couple of weeks of the campaign. The people are of course too energized and incumbent media too uncertain in the face of the Netroots for these tried and true strategies to have the usual chance of success. Even if the Republicans fail (as I strongly suspect they will) to achieve another squeaker victory by means of the usual demoralization, disenfranchisement, and theft, this last ugly gambit will set the table for a season of trumped up uncertainty and full-throated hate which will refuse the mandate of the election and bedevil our every effort to solve the shared problems of this nation. For Republicans, this is, grotesquely enough, the sort of thing that looks like a "win-win" situation.

There is a larger point to make here, beyond the obvious and awful observation that Republicans would create a phony voter fraud precisely to cover up their effort to engage in voter fraud on a scale incomparably greater still.

This isn't, it seems to me, an act of "daring." This isn't a matter of "boldness," as one sometimes hears from the kinds of folks who like to say that the criminal thuggery of a blunt instrument like Karl Rove amounts to some kind of "genius" (rather than simply a greater willingness to be evil than most people could manage without suiciding). This outrageous projection seems to me instead to be symptomatic of some deeper tendency of mind that connects up to the authoritarian spirit in the service of which this sort of gambit seems so often to be mobilized in the first place.

I've lived intimately with deeply conservative people all my life. I've been one myself in some aspects and episodes of my own life, truth be told, and struggle to this day with unexpected unwelcome upwellings of reaction. Much of my immediate family is uncritical, unrepentant and enormously loud in its espousal of Movement Republicanism in its Christianism variation, and has been for decades. I've listened to their anger and fear getting vented in the car, at the table, in holiday gatherings all the years I was growing up. I know what they were talking about before the Gingrich Revolution and George W. Bush even better than I know how they've been talking since -- just because I don't talk to them much these days, rather for the same reasons I'm not likely to dive into the oven when it's on.

All those years of claiming to fear dictatorship, and then Republicans got into power and began immediately to dismantle the rule of law and started building up mercenary armies to patrol the streets in the name of the profits of the rich and the faith of fundamentalist theocrats. All those years heaping scorn on "moochers" and "second-handers" and people looking for "free lunches," and then Republicans got into power and began immediately to loot and "privatize" public infrastructure and services, vacuum up public funds in the name of "defense," steal everything that wasn't nailed down at home and abroad, gorging on the future via ballooning indebtedness, pyramid schemes, and "starving the beast," demanding free lunch after free lunch, handout after handout. All those years of hysterical sanctimonious rage directed at "political correctness," cutting off even the modest expression of worry about the harm of racism, sexism, homophobia, conformism in America, and then Republicans give in at the first sign of resistence to their rule to a full-throated carnival of hate, a surreal and endlessly elaborated Boschian spectacle of disgusting race-baiting, misogyny, queer-bashing, self-congratulatory Know-Nothingism, mob-minded intimations of violence in the streets.

Even those who were not the direct beneficiaries of such grotesque reversals seemed to become eager apologists for them the moment they began. (A few conservatives drifted no-doubt into the fairy-tale abstractions of "libertarianism" in the face of these hypocrisies, but this was typically even worse than those who failed to learn the lesson of the contradictions of the corporate-militarist worldview of Movement Republicanism, and yielded not so much a repudiation of those contradictions as an escape into the deeper delusion that driving the market fundamentalist blade even deeper and more stridently home would wound us less rather than even more surely fatally.)

The long and the short of it falls to this.

It is ultimately too easy, I know, but honestly won't lead you astray as often as you might think, simply to hear in the zanier accusations one hears from the right wing directed at Democrats, liberals, and progressives nothing more than the confession of the deepest desires vomited up from their broken brains and shriveled hearts.

Their leaders and partisans would scorch the skies and call it a "Clear Skies Initiative," they would sell you hideously unsafe prohibitively expensive nuclear plants and coal-fired acid rainstorms with public propositions sold with images of windmills and daffodils. They would create a permanent hereditary overclass and sell it to their would-be serfs as "tax relief." They would tell you that government is a corrupt and incompetent and criminal enterprise and then claim to prove it by governing corruptly, incompetently, and criminally. They would lie you into an immoral, illegal, catastrophic war of choice and declare dissent unpatriotic. They would lie to your face and call you a liar when you point to the facts that expose them. They would brag of their rugged individualism and twist their faces into ugly masks of contempt at the slightest confrontation with novelty or difference. They would boast of their innovative genius and then "propertize" the commonwealth to capture for themselves the energy, intelligence, and effort of their peers, or congratulate themselves for their risk-taking and then whine for a handout whenever a bill comes due in the aftermath of their recklessness and fraud. They would declare the peacemaker a warmonger as they draw up their warplans. They would tell you the dissent that has been the hallmark and accomplishment of the American way of life at its best is actually hatred of America, and then reduce the consent of the governed to unquestioning obedience to the rich and powerful and call the resulting Anti-American travesty "Pro-America."

They are the dictators they were warning us about. They are the looters and freeloaders and lazy no-account frauds they excoriated. They are the liars, the thieves, the scam-artists they repudiated. They are the cravers of Big Brother's thick boot-heel and thick lipped smile. They are the rank conformists they disdained, the flatterers of power that inspired their disgust.

It should go without saying, by way of conclusion here, that all the while there is a crucial sense in which this "they" I keep talking about are inside all of us.

Whoever else they are they are also our own moments of weakness, our own inevitable occasions of succumbing to fear, our exhausted turns at our worst from the demands of kindness and difficult scrutiny into the ease of cruel blanket repudiation.

Growing up and becoming a responsible citizen requires grappling with these capacities to active ignorance and indifference and indulgence we all have within us. The authoritarian types who presently throng so noisily among the ranks of Movement Republicanism, who seem forever to project onto their enemies the malign intentions, falsehoods, and schemes they inevitably implement themselves the moment they have occasion to do so, sometimes seem to me to be extraordinarily thoughtless about their own privileges, vulnerabilities, and inter-dependencies. It is foolish to overgeneralize, of course, but one wonders how often the politics of facile projection connects quite viscerally to the failure or even the diminished capacity (bad education? trauma? chemical imbalance?) of those who engage in it ever to empathize with the real circumstances of others, ever to do the work of abiding self-criticism, ever to mourn rather than deny their real losses or admit their abiding limitations. Failing or refusing the struggles of intelligent introspection, they indulge in the funhouse mirror struggles of an alienated extrospection instead.

MundiMuster! Censure Michelle Bachmann

No, Michelle, proving you hate democracy actually isn't the same thing as showing you "love America."

Wingnut zealots who call for witch-hunts in the name of a death-dealing money-grubbing so-called "Pro-America" theocratic police-state agenda rejected by an overwhelming majority of actual Americans should pay the price of getting their asses handed to them in a hat when they decide to bark and bray their blank-eyed moralizing hate in the light of day.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Given the hysterical attribution of "extremity" and "divisiveness" to Paul Krugman's usually sensible and always accessible work by the extreme right wing as well as by the pampered superficial "moderates" inside the beltway who coddled that extreme right wing for so long in the name of "balance" while it marauded across the world to our ruin, I used to joke that nothing short of an award of the Nobel Prize for Economics could get Krugman a shot on Obama's cabinet or the like, where he might do real good (that is to say, even more real good).

Of course, this attribution of "divisiveness" was always inspired, quite simply, by the fact that Krugman was so often so right about the ways in which the Right was wrong and said so fearlessly and articulately. Reading Krugman's warnings in 2000 about what a Bush Administration would be like will make you tear your hair out in frustration, not to mention his prescient warnings about social security privatization, reckless Fed policies, and the Housing Bubble. "Nobody could have predicted," indeed.

Now that Krugman has won the Nobel, we can be sure that his status as a public intellectual fighting for old school liberalism (not always in ways that are quite as arch-progressive as I would like personally, but usually nudging in the direction of the left wing of the actually possible as the old saying goes) will be enhanced, whether or not he gets a shot at a powerful post in a Next New Deal Obama administration.

Suck It, Wingnuts

How the wingnuts must be exploding right about now, to find their Party tanking in every poll, to realize that strong women, uppity brown folks, and out queers were not destroyed or demoralized through the long epoch of Hate and are ready joyfully to take up their places at the table never to relinquish them again, to hear the emerging consensus that calls the bluff of Nixonian resentment and Reaganomic looting and kicks them into the dustbin of history, to find that nobody is pretending to like them anymore, that nobody is interested in hearing them repeat the corporatist-militarist-theocratic pieties that are all they ever had to say, that nobody thinks they are cute or smart or righteous in the least, that everybody is too busy coming together to solve shared problems of poverty, exploitation, treatable illness, climate-change, education, arms proliferation, and the rest, peer-to-peer, that our ideas and icons never relinquished their hold over the popular imagination and are now regaining their pride of place in the world of authoritative institutions.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Republican Id Still on Display at McCain Rallies

[via Think Progress]

We are told that McCain is trying to walk back the worst and scariest hate-mongering in evidence in his rallies lately (even while negative "dangerous" and "who is he really?" conceits still dominate McCain ads).

Of course, the popular Republican "Base" has long been a rather hateful know-nothing mob, and it is a hard thing for McCain to castigate them too much when at this point they seem to be all he has left.

No doubt, the kindler, gentler McCain Campaign trail will still abound with sulfurous exhalations from the white racist patriarchal warmongering money-grubbing thought-hating theocratic wingnut underbelly that is Movement Republicanism's glorious consummation amid the ruins of Baghdad, New Orleans, and Wall Street.

As witness this curious snippet from Pastor Arnold Conrad's invocation at a McCain rally in Davenport, Iowa today:
I would also pray, Lord, that your reputation is involved in all that happens between now and November, because there are millions of people around this world praying to their god -- whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah -- that his opponent wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and election day.

An Obama Presidency will diminish Baby Jeebus's "reputation" among the heathen Hindoos and Islamofascists? That's the pitch? Really?

Quite apart from the fact that Obama is himself a demonstrable (and to my old school secularist mind, frankly, overly demonstrative) Christian, quite apart from the whole Separation of Church and State thing -- and, hell, why even belabor the obvious at this point when it comes to these people? -- I have to say it seems to me to take a pretty strikingly petty person to worship a god as petty as the one Pastor Conrad seems to have in mind as his own. I mean, honestly, what is wrong with these people?

Today Is National Coming Out Day

I came out over twenty years ago, more or less to everybody I knew, more or less simultaneously, in what was very much a jumping into the deep end of the pool kinda sorta scene. That was fun. I can't say that I honestly feel I have suffered in any way as a consequence of that scene, not a single time in all the years since, although I guess it had its tense and histrionic moments. I frankly think I've gotten far more guff coming out as an ethical vegetarian a few years after that than I did coming out as queer, when I think back on it.

The American landscape for queer issues is very different from the way I imagined it would be by now looking forward back then. Given the disappointments of the Clinton Administration, the ugly foolishness of Don’t Ask Don't Tell and the "Defense" of Marriage, given the ongoing organized hysteria of Theocons in full-on gay panic through this long National nightmare of a Republican Administration forever pandering to the worst, most ignorant, most hateful impulses at the margins of our society, given the "Values Voter" scapegoating of lgbtq folks in the aftermath of Kerry's failure to regain the White House and so on, it is fairly breathtaking to contemplate the steady accumulation nonetheless of milestones and accomplishments toward real legal standing and a cultural embrace of queer folks in America over those twenty years.

I expect an Obama Administration will turn the page on the Queer as favored go-to prop for effective divisive Republican Culture Warfare just as surely as he will decisively undermine at long last and to the abiding benefit of us all the racist Southern Strategy. Whatever the inevitable skirmishings, I expect the way will be clear enough soon enough for marriage, adoption, open service in the military, and all the rest of that jazz, for even the most timorous lesbian and gay folks who want them.

White gay men for whom homophobia has mostly been a matter of their frustration at being denied the heady pleasures to which white racist patriarchal capitalism would otherwise "entitle" them, are doing fine, it seems to me, and are certain to do better all the time from here on… out.

I daresay the problems of queer folks who are vulnerable in their queerness through its imbrication with the irrational prejudices attaching to transgender and intersexual atypicalities, to the legacies of domestic violence, to the existential distresses of poverty and homelessness and transnational precarity, to the spiritual crisis of substance abuse and so on, since these connect to deeper structural problems associated with America's cruel and blinkered market ideology, its shaming and isolating hyper-individualist delusions, its disavowed but interminable bloody-minded racism, and appalling self-congratulatory anti-intellectualism will be longer, more painful, no doubt demoralizing struggles.

In the next twenty years, here's hoping more people "come out" as loud proud fighting liberals, as secular democrats, as social and technoscientific progressives, as cosmopolitan multicultural celebrants, and as peers, peer to peer.

We Wonder As He Wanders

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Elite Fear of Being Called Names (And the Flabbergasting Price We Are All Paying for It)

The fear of being called "socialist" seems to be preventing a whole lot of people in positions of actual authority who know better from doing the things that need to be done to overcome the current economic crisis -- things like outright nationalizations of failing financial institutions, the immediate breaking up of enterprises "too big to fail," investments in massive job-creating public works projects (high speed rail across the continent, new renewable solar and wind energy infrastructure, the repair of roads, bridges, and public utilities, and so on), strict regulations and oversight over industry corruption and conflicts-of-interest, and steeply progressive taxation -- things that are commonsensical whether people want idiotically to call them "socialist" or, more aptly, "saving capitalism from itself," things that are eventually going to be done anyway, after all, whatever they get called, after all this protracted pointless and wasteful shilly-shallying and last-ditch looting spree finally flames out. If it weren't for the fact that I already realized years ago that fear of being called "defeatist" seems to be preventing a whole lot of people in positions of actual authority who know better from doing the things that need to be done to save hundreds of thousands of lives and a trillion dollars of treasure and end the ongoing, illegal, immoral, unpopular wars and occupations of choice of the debased Bush epoch I would have found this latest exhibition of apparently paralyzing fear among the richest most pampered and powerful people on earth of being called names they dislike literally unfathomable.

Betty White, Badass

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Joe Lieberman's Precious Bodily Fluids

[From an interview on conservative Newsmax, found via Think Progress]
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN: Well, I worry about that. I worry that Sen. Obama’s world view is naive. Sen. McCain has been around awhile. He’s learned some things. I’ve traveled the world with him a lot. He’s, he will be the kind of president who our allies will trust, but who our enemies will fear. And in a dangerous world, al Qaeda, Iran, Iran trying to get a nuclear weapons, we want a president who our enemies will fear. I don’t believe that Sen. Obama will be that kind of president. I believe he’s naive to think that people like Ahmadinejad and Tehran Iran will somehow become America’s friend just by… Talking to them in a warm embrace and a cup of tea. It’s not going to work that way. Sen. McCain knows there’s evil as well good in the world and he’ll confront evil directly in order to protect our security and that of our allies.

This honestly sounds to me like the talk of a dangerously broken person. I can't decide whether this sounds more like a desperate cry for help or like a dangerously deluded declaration by Jack D. Ripper...

Here, Joe, this should nicely reassure you that not all people are as "naïve" as Obama where matters of good and evil and inspiring fear among the brown people who have stuff we want to steal and having the righteous strength to bomb people rather than having tea with them and so on is concerned:

It's Not Spying, It's Monitoring! (With a Brief Digression on the Relation of Consent to Dissent)

[via Washington Post]
The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief acknowledged yesterday.

Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan revealed at a legislative hearing that the surveillance operation, which targeted opponents of the death penalty and the Iraq war, was far more extensive than was known when its existence was disclosed in July.

And don't even get 'em started on them horrorist vegetarians and feminazis!
The department started sending letters of notification Saturday to the activists, inviting them to review their files before they are purged from the databases, Sheridan said.

"The names don't belong in there," he told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. "It's as simple as that."

Nonetheless, this should not be read as the "happy ending" to the tale of right-wing "they hate our freedom" police-statism so much as an early chapter in what is sure to be a long blood-curdling chronicle of similar revelations over the next few years. Also, there are real questions as to thoroughness of the "purgations" of the files of those who have been maligned by wingnut paranoids in the War on Terra. Onto what other databases has this information attached itself, waiting to do mischief? What equally horrific surveillance and cataloguing gathered and administered in the service of what equally lunatic-fringe assumptions lurks still-unseen or perhaps never to be seen in the dizzyingly ramifying labyrinth of wingnut appointed bureaucracies? How many fringe patridiots remain in administrative positions who believe this police statism is righteous and hear their weird version of war-mongering money-grubbing white-racist flag-diapered baby Jeebus whispering in their ears to refuse to comply with purgations?
The surveillance took place over 14 months in 2005 and 2006, under the administration of former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). The former state police superintendent who authorized the operation, Thomas E. Hutchins, defended the program in testimony yesterday. Hutchins said the program was a bulwark against potential violence and called the activists "fringe people."

I often idly wonder to myself just what percentage of the population actually affirms as true the saucer-eyed authoritarian ravings that Republicans in their more charming militarist and theocratic modes like to ascribe so glibly to "Moral Majorities" and "All American Values."
Sheridan said protest groups were also entered as terrorist organizations in the databases, but his staff has not identified which ones.

How exciting!
Stunned senators pressed Sheridan to apologize to the activists for the spying, assailed in an independent review last week as "overreaching" by law enforcement officials who were oblivious to their violation of the activists' rights of free expression and association. The letter, obtained by The Washington Post, does not apologize but admits that the state police have "no evidence whatsoever of any involvement in violent crime" by those classified as terrorists.

Hutchins told the committee it was not accurate to describe the program as spying. "I doubt anyone who has used that term has ever met a spy," he told the committee.

[Rather, they] were monitoring "open public meetings."

It's not spying, it's monitoring, y'all. A couple paragraphs down we get a glimpse into just how non-spy-ey the monitoring got. But first:
His officers sought a "situational awareness" of the potential for disruption as death penalty opponents prepared to protest the executions of two men on death row, Hutchins said.

"I don't believe the First Amendment is any guarantee to those who wish to disrupt the government," he said. Hutchins said he did not notify Ehrlich about the surveillance….

Just for shits and giggles here, can we all be reminded that ours is a government of "we the people," "of the people, by the people, and for the people," that the legitimacy of our form of governance rests on "the consent of the governed," and that the free clash of the diversity of stakeholders to questions of the day and the free expression of dissent is literally the life's blood of this republic? It may seem a bit paradoxical, I suppose, but it is no less vitally and urgently true for all that, that it is in the facilitation of dissent that we see the actually substantiating work of consent on which the Founders rightly sought to establish and maintain the legitimacy of American governance. Please be clear about this if it hasn't been something you've given more than idle thought to since your high school civics class or what have you. Consent is not obedience, nor, realize, is the presence of consent indicated by appearance of consensus. In politics -- that is to say, in that mode of reasonable belief and action that takes the dynamic and ineradicable plurality of stakeholders who share the world, peer-to-peer, as its literal point of departure -- consensus, like conformity, is almost inevitably a sign of tyranny, not of freedom. It is literally nonsensical to claim at once to be patriotic while repudiating "as disruption" the dissent on which legitimate democratic governance interminably depends for its ongoing legitimation and substantiation.
But Sen. James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) noted that undercover troopers used aliases to infiltrate organizational meetings, rallies and group e-mail lists.

It's not spying, it's -- it's, monitoring, it's… oh, never mind…
He called the spying a "deliberate infiltration to find out every piece of information necessary" on groups such as the Maryland Campaign to End the Death Penalty and the Baltimore Pledge of Resistance. When Hutchins called their members "fringe people," the audience of activists who filled the seats in the hearing room in Annapolis sighed.

Oh, how I know that sigh by now…
Some activists said yesterday that they have received letters; others said they were waiting with anticipation to see whether they were on the state police watch list.

Laura Lising of Catonsville, a member of the Baltimore Coalition Against the Death Penalty, received her notification yesterday. She said she wants a hard copy of her file, because she does not trust the police to purge it. "We need as much protection as possible," she said.

Quite so.
Both Hutchins and Sheridan said the activists' names were entered into the state police database as terrorists partly because the software offered limited options for classifying entries.

The police also entered the activists' names into the federal Washington-Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area database, which tracks suspected terrorists. One well-known antiwar activist from Baltimore, Max Obuszewski, was singled out in the intelligence logs released by the ACLU, which described a "primary crime" of "terrorism-anti-government" and a "secondary crime" of "terrorism-anti-war protesters."

Now, doesn't that make you feel more safe? Be sure to thank our Republican friends this November, now, you hear?

Monday, October 06, 2008

"Another Angry Barrage of Insults"

McCain hilariously makes an effort to paint the Obama campaign as an "angry barrage of insults" on the very day of his campaign's "new direction" into full-on sleaze-mongering negativity, and finds that his comments unleash the livid-angry dot-eyed Republican id. "Who is the real Obama?" asks McCain, as if he doesn't know who his consummately talented, professional, inspirational colleague and opponent is, as if there is any question about the dedication, skill, patriotism of Obama or his countless millions of enthusiastic supporters. "Terrorist!" brays one enraged throat in answer to McCain's question from the desperate assembled Republican mob. And then a hundred howling Orc-voices erupt. My friends, how proud, oh, how proud John McCain must feel to head such a fine movement "for change."

Palin FAIL

Smooth talking wingnuts (or, I suppose I should say, smooth talkin') are putting their brave faces on in the face of the ongoing Palin flameout, suggesting she's certainly an "up and comer" for 2012. If only! She'll be impeached out of her governorship before that happens.

Can't believe I'm saying this, but go read Joe Klein.

Pink Floyd Helps Make Amor Mundi More Positive

Today's Random Wilde

They are awfully expensive. I can only afford them when I'm in debt.

Jockeying For Another Bailout Already?

One wonders how different today's market volatility would have looked if we hadn't just bailed out Wall Street to the tune of a trillion dollars?

"McCain plan would do for health care what deregulation has done for banking."

Go read your Krugman.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Pet Shop Boys Help Make Amor Mundi More Positive

Having a nicely wistful looking forward looking back kinda sorta evening tonight...

MundiMuster! Bold Progressives: Take the Pledge

The Election Is the Starting Line, Not the Finish Line. No More Business As Usual. Take the Pledge and Pass It On.
For some reason, we can never find money for kids' health care, clean energy, or other progressive priorities. But when it comes to right-wing priorities like war and giveaways to failed Wall Street executives, Republicans always find the money and Democrats go along...

ENOUGH. Anyone with common sense will vote for Barack Obama and Democratic congressional candidates this November. But it's time for citizens to fight back and take this pledge -- will you join in signing it?
"In 2009 and beyond, I will be part of the movement that pushes Democrats to be bold progressives -- and that helps pass a bold progressive agenda into law."
What does taking the pledge mean? It means that when Democratic "leaders" tell Americans we must settle for watered-down solutions while bold back-benchers in the House or Senate are pushing strong progressive alternatives, we will clamor for those bold alternatives together until they are passed into law.

What else does it mean? It means we will turn those bold back-benchers into leaders. Just as grassroots progressives fueled Howard Dean's election as Democratic National Committee chair and pushed aside insiders who wanted more of the same, we will make sure that Democratic "leaders" are the ones who actually show bold progressive leadership.

What else does it mean? It means we will no longer just write checks to the Democratic Party and assume they know how best to spend it. We'll give our money to bold progressive candidates -- bypassing the influence of corporate lobbyists and entrenched Democratic insiders who are used to picking the winners and using their purse strings to make bold progressives in Congress fall in line.

The era of Nixonian cultural division is over. The Big Con epoch of Reaganomic looting in the name of cruel short-sighted market fundamentalism is over. The rule of the self-appointed would-be aristocrats of neoliberal-neoconservative corporate-militarism is over.

Else, the American democratic experiment will fail, else the human race is truly in peril.

We peer-to-peer progressives see things very clearly, and we speak our minds very clearly, too, and to a powerful, general, and still gathering hearing.

Progressives have always been strong and we have usually been right, and now we know this about ourselves again and are acting accordingly.

We are educating, agitating, and organizing peer-to-peer.

And if you're not with us it's time for you to spend more time with your families so that we can clean up this mess together, solve our shared problems of artificial poverty, organized lawlessness, and ecological catastrophe, and build a world worthy of our collaborative intelligence and diverse flourishing.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Funny Face Helps Make Amor Mundi More Positive

Think pink when you want that quelque chose.

Today's Random Wilde

It is only by not paying one's bills that one can hope to live in the memory of the commercial classes.

Anti-Abortion Zealots Who Lie About It

Planned Parenthood shines a spotlight where it needs to be:

But check out this flabbergastingly deceptive exchange between Couric and Palin on the Early Show (yes, I know it's also a word salad -- we expect that now -- it's the active deception that matters here):
COURIC: Palin says she makes no apologies for her pro-life views and opposes abortion, even in the case of rape or incest.

Gov. PALIN: I'm saying that personally I would counsel that person to choose life, despite horrific, horrific circumstances that this person would find themselves in. And if you're asking, though, kind of foundationally here should anybody end up in jail for having had an abortion, absolutely not. That's nothing that I would ever support.

Actually, making abortion illegal, even in cases of rape and incest, is not "counseling that person to choose life," it's putting a gun to her head if she tries to be anything but her rapist's incubator. If Palin is trying to imply here that she does not think abortion should be illegal, that it is a woman's personal decision, then she is pro-choice. That would be a stunning reversal. Of course, it's actually just a disgusting effort to deceive the American people. No doubt baby Jesus wants her to lie so it's okay.

[Transcript via Atrios]