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

Monday, February 29, 2016

Sunday, February 28, 2016

One Hand Clapping

Winning the reddit primary is worth exactly nothing because there is no reddit primary.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

What It Is


Lowering Expectations For Raising Expectations

Just read a Sanders supporter who is beginning to reconcile to looming defeat but declaring themselves not quite ready yet to settle for the "lowered expectations" of the Clinton campaign, as if making false promises, offering up deceptive oversimplifications about difficult legislative processes and indulging in wish fulfillment fantasies constitutes "raising expectations."

Friday, February 26, 2016

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Stoopid Fyoocher

When corporations re-market decades old remote control toy helicopters as "drones" the science fiction future arrives.

Another Teaching Day

Workshopping the first long paper assignment in my undergraduate class today in the City. It's always a useful exercise for the students, but a bit tedious from my perspective since there's not much I do but supervise.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Teaching Day

Today in the City in my graduate Biopunk seminar we'll be talking about the first three chapters of Bruce Sterling's novel Holy Fire. Each of the chapters has its own thematic and narrative integrity and the whole novel is a bit of a picaresque, a string of jewel-like novellas. There will also be a couple of Presentations, of Genesis and Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge and also of Zhang Xiaogang. The pairing (or tripling) is really odd, and so I'm hoping it will be provocative and fun. I love the way these student presentations derange my plans and get everybody excited and engaged in ways that aren't in my control. Usually I just want to lecture every minute I can at an unnaturally high speed right up until the next class demands the room.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Sunday, February 21, 2016

An Exchange With Two Readers Who Respect Me But Maybe Kinda Sorta Hate My Support of Hillary Clinton

This is upgraded and adapted from the Moot to this wee, almost throwaway post. In that post, entitled "I Want To Vote For A Democrat" I reiterated a couple of simple points I have been hammering out variations of for weeks by now: "There is a connection between the fact that Bernie Sanders is running for the Senate as an Independent and not as a Democrat RIGHT NOW -- even as he is also running to be head of the Party he has not been a member of -- and the fact that he is running for the Party's nomination using a strategy that eschews the Democratic Party's actually-existing actually-winning diverse Obama coalition." Both of my interlocutors here are long-term and friendly readers of Amor Mundi, and I hope they will remain so. I appreciate their comments and their spirit of engagement over political differences. That we all get a little exasperated about this stuff is par for the course in the opportunistic scrum of partisan contests that are always freighted with intellectual investments on the part of their partisans they can never really truly bear.

Friend of Blog "Lorraine" wrote:
I'm disappointed that Bernie hasn't decided to run for re-election as a Democrat, but it's not a deal breaker for me. I was more disappointed with Barack when he decided early in the general election phase to work with rather than against the status quo campaign finance system. I guess it's a game of chicken. Is taking the high road important enough to risk going into the big arena at a disadvantage (to John*)? I can't answer that. It's the road not taken.

As for Hillary, #IllBeWithHer after she gets the nomination, which I hope she has to fight for. I call that the "shuffleboard strategy." I think, even without my primary vote, probability of Hillary winning the nomination is 100%. I don't see much risk there, as shuffleboard strategy goes.

I still wonder, though, which is the bigger nightmare scenario? A Republican president in 2017, or *still* having an only-centrists-need-apply Democratic Party in, say, 2036? If Bernie wins the nomination and goes the way of McGovern, of course, that gives the centrist scum powerful bragging rights, and I would hate that. But Hillary winning also gives them bragging rights over us. That is probably the main reason going with your program leaves a highly unpleasant aftertaste.

* I assume the new normal is that we're on a first name basis with all presidential candidates?
I replied:

The Democratic Party has moved left over the course of the Obama administration, and the Obama coalition is a progressive one. Hillary's earliest ads and published policies were already very much to the left of her positions in '07. The PCCC is the voice of the DNC now as the DLC was its voice in the dreary days of my early political engagement. Occupy and BlackLivesMatter are real forces. Climate activism and queer feminism will continue to be as well. I think this very encouraging reality has been somewhat obscured by the narrative theatrics of the primary campaign so far.

The General should clarify all that. The GOP plutocratic(Establishment)/bigot(Base) coalition is cracking up before our eyes. A Trump run will leave smoking ruins. The GOP will have to re-invent itself in the face of a diversifying secularizing planetizing New America.

I do hear and respect your fears and frustrations. Things can go wrong. I expect to spend a lot of time protesting the Clinton administration to come. But after a long slog through 80s and 90s and Bush-era politics I feel a righteous wind at our backs and think progressive protest and organizing can proceed with some well-earned joy in times to come.

Friend of Blog "Esebian" wrote:
Hillary has been pro-Iraq, pro-any conflict since then, pro-Big Bank for the entirety of this young century, and in '08 used "hard-working Americans" racist dogwhistle rhetoric in her fight against Obama.

And she's supposed to be the One True heir to his winning diversity coalition?
I replied:

If by "One True Heir" you mean to insinuate that I am supporting a Clinton cartoon with a divine "Chosen One" aura, then obviously I no more think that is true than you do. If you look at Clinton's published positions and explicit campaign rhetoric then, yes, her policy priorities and embrace of the Obama legacy quite straightforwardly indicate that she is appealing to the Obama coalition as a matter of fact, and that she is celebrating the Obama legacy. And President Obama also recognizes that's what she is doing and seems to prefer her on that basis already.

Tad Devine has been open about the fact that Sanders is quite explicitly NOT trying to replicate the Obama coalition, even if he hopes to produce an analogously popular and populist one. Sanders is trying in part to mobilize disaffected working class white voters, among them independents. Sanders has made a class-based pitch to Trump voters on more than one occasion, arguing that his critique is more relevant to their distress than Trump's. As a democratic (eco-)socialist(-feminist) myself, of course I see where he is coming from, but the plain fact is that Trump is more appealing than Sanders to most of those voters (and the election results, both turnout and votes bear this out) because white racist resentment not class solidarity is the sweet spot for that demographic. That voter turnout in the primaries and caucuses is under-performing the Obama excitement in '08 should really trouble those who have accepted hitherto the Sanders proposal that the brute force of millions mobilized by his truth-telling would punch through the stakeholder impasses, institutional hurdles, obstructionist opposition that has stymied President Obama's nonetheless stunning record of achievements (the very record Sanders has castigated as at best a disappointment and at worst some kind of betrayal).

Like most recent left intellectuals I would argue that class politics are stratified by race-sex-gender-age-ability and that useful class critique needs to be intersectional, and in the American case in particular I believe it must foreground white supremacy, given the historical foundation of American Capitalism in slavery/genocide and subsequent segregationist terrorism (which lives into the present in our racist justice/policing/incarceration complex). I am far from thinking Sanders has a racist/sexist bone in his body -- but we are all long past the belief that white-supremacy/patriarchy are merely matters of racist-sexist-heterosexist-cissexist animus. Right? Hello? Sanders' critique takes up intersectionality only superficially at best and his rhetoric is often much clumsier than Clinton's as a result, and his appeal less of a fit with the Obama coalition than hers.

None of this has anything to do with my assessment of her or his "heart," or whether I want to have a beer or be a friend with either of them. I'm not friends with any Presidents. Are you? None of these facile daydreams go into my assessments of which candidate actually on offer would make the better President. When it comes to it, I doubt yours do either. To be honest, I think you pretty much have to be some kind of sociopath to want to be or think you can manage to be a President of the United States in the first place. I'm a democratic eco-socialist feminist queer and I have never once voted for a President in the expectation that they would be a match or near-match for me politically. I think President Obama has been the most stunning, accomplished, progressive President in my whole half-century of life. There are times when I want to just jump up and down for joy at the fact of his administration (whatever my disagreements with this and that decision, some copiously documented over the years on this blog), and times when I think it is an indictment of our system that more Presidents haven't managed to be as or more competent, effective, inspiring, progressive as he has.

Sure, Sanders' deployment of the socialist label is appealing to the likes of another old socialist like myself, obviously, but I don't judge him any differently than I have judged other candidates in the past. I happen to believe that Sanders is temperamentally unsuited to the Presidency, that he doesn't think quickly on his feet, that he doesn't seem to command the full range of topics relevant to the Executive, that he does not seem particularly congenial to facilitating alliances. Yeah, you heard me. I'm not just making an "electability" argument, I actually think or at any rate I fear Sanders would not make a great President. As far as the actual totality of voting records and actual accomplishments goes, I think it is hard honestly to say that Bernie is obviously more progressive than Hillary, and the disproportionate number of endorsements by people in government and progressive organizations seem to indicate pretty clearly which of the two is congenial and connected to the working coalitions that get things done. You are welcome to make a different assessment of these things, and that is well worth debating, but I don't think ideological purity has much to do with any of that. In a nutshell, I don't think Bernie could bring us an inch closer to the socialism he and I both presumably aspire to, while Hillary -- who does not share that aspiration or at least doesn't say so -- might very well get us closer anyway by expanding healthcare access, social security, paid family leave, free community college, and a more progressive tax structure. Maybe this is a bit paradoxical on the surface, but I don't really find it that hard to wrap my head around when it comes to it.

I don't think Hillary is a pure or ideal figure in the way that some (not all, and I don't know about you so you shouldn't assume I am making an accusation you should take personally) Sanders supporters seem to think he is. I certainly don't think Clinton's campaign is Revolutionary! I must say I appreciate that she doesn't imply otherwise. As I've said many times here, I don't think partisan politics is about Revolutions. I think at best parties are sustainable organizing/coalition vehicles for reforms articulated and pressured by radical (and even some Revolutionary) movements on the ground. I actually think it denigrates and undermine radical politics to peddle campaign fandom as a kind of radicalism. That actually offends me as a person of radical conviction. Those (and again I do not mean you, I do not know your feelings on this subject, but I am sure you know what I mean since this sort of thing is rampant right about now whether you sympathize with it or not) who accept the idiotic premise that voting for some celebritized candidate constitutes a Revolutionary activity or that a struggle to become head of a party Establishment is some anti-establishmentarian gesture and then go on to act as though I must be some kind of sell-out or stealth plutocrat in consequence don't offend me so much as make me laugh.

I lived through the Clinton years. Maybe you did, too? I thought Bill Clinton was better but in some ways just a bit better than George Bush Pater. I won't deny I didn't like him a whole hell of a lot. I preferred Tsongas in the primaries (so did my partner Eric, I found out years later) and pinched my nose when I voted for him, the second time around my vote was perfunctory and I was never an activist for him. I always preferred Hillary's politics, her more forthright feminism and progressivism. I marched in Washington to protest Bill Clinton's reluctant but awful gay policies, even as I recognized the organized homophobic environment he was trying to navigate and knew he was no homophobe himself. I was revolted by his Sista Souljah moment, and more disgusted than I can say by his execution of Ricky Ray Rector. Bill Clinton's address of systemic racial violence and poverty and his cultural anti-racism politics played out at one and the same time as all that in his White House. It was much more complicated and frustrating to live through than the retrospective narratives make it now.

The Gingrich Revolution and Contract (On) America were a horrifying time, and the politics of triangulation in that epoch that gave us welfare reform and the evils (and some virtues) of the Crime Bill were also more complex than they seem in retrospect -- which no doubt helps account for Bernie's vote supporting them at the time. I actually think many of Clinton's judgments were dead wrong, but they remain intelligible to me having lived and obsessed through them day to day. Democrats were seriously under siege and the GOP was rising like a deadly tidal wave. The death dealing madness of the W. years was already prophetically evident with those with eyes to see -- but it seemed like everybody in America was drinking the poisoned moonshine while people with decency and sense were tearing out our hair and staring at one another from great distances with eyes like saucers. I was an undergraduate and queer activist through most of those years, doing sit-ins and marches and clinic defense and needle exchange. That's when I was trained in nonviolence with the King Center, that's when I got thrown in jail during a protest. Soon after I moved to California to study philosophy and queer theory with Judith Butler and discovered my teaching vocation and became who I am now.

In the '08 race I supported Obama and was highly displeased with the racism that circulated through that primary contest. You will possibly be incensed to hear that some of the ugliness of that campaign reminds me a lot of the weird undercurrents and upwellings of racism and sexism that accompany Bernie's campaign now. Then as now I think there is no animus in the candidate, in fact I think Hillary seemed a bit at a loss about it then as Bernie seems a bit at a loss about it now, but I think that the nature of the coalition being mobilized (in both instances working class whites) activates historically-embedded constituency symptoms of white supremacy and patriarchy (though the latter operate/d differently in the PUMAs vs the mansplaining berniebros, to use the media friendly figurations of actually complex realities).

I refuse to indulge the caricatural cartoons of the symbolic politics of celebrity fandom presidential nomination skirmishing. When Bernie says too big to fail is to big to exist and that single-payer is better than for profit healthcare of course I agree with him. You know how you might know? Because I have been saying those exact things as an activist and then as a teacher for over a quarter of a century. Understanding those optimal outcomes is different from trying to build working stakeholder coalitions to reform, expand, and adapt existing institutions and legislation to get from where we are to where we are going.

I think Hillary Clinton's regulatory proposals are better than Bernie's, I think her embrace and desire to build on Dodd-Frank is politically astute -- I think this is exactly analogous to her embrace and desire to build on the ACA to get to universal healthcare. I think Hillary's emphasis on diplomacy and "soft power" and State Department mission to support women and girls all give the lie to charges she is a straight-up war-monger, and though I am of course pleased that she apologized for her part facilitating the ruinous world-historical evil blunder of George W. Bush's war and occupation of Iraq based on admitted lies and war-crimes, I believe her when she says she was giving the Bush administration more credit than it deserved in the expectation that the vote would provide pressure for continued inspections rather than endorsing war as the best option at the time. As far as I can see, my Representative Barbara Lee was the only true hero and visionary on this issue and everybody else was playing catch-up, some a little quicker than others but everybody too damn late. I think the Hillary "warmonger" figuration is a cartoon, as I think the Hillary "bought-and-paid-for" figuration is also a cartoon. But even while saying this I share the worry that Obama's openness to negotiation (so often excoriated as "fecklessness" and "weakness" and "unprincipled") won't be shared by Clinton to the same extent. I hope Clinton's embrace of the Obama legacy and participation in the making of it as his Secretary of State will influence her, but the Imperial Executive is a force bigger than any individual President, and I suspect a stronger progressive Congress and progressive Court are what it will take to check its dangerous tendencies more than any particular occupier of the position could. I also share the worry that Clinton is far from immune to the corrupting influence of the campaign finance system and moneyed-circle in which she moves as spouse of someone on the post-Presidential gravy train. I hope Bernie will continue to mobilize a campaign finance reform movement with the rest of the Warren Wing when he returns to the Senate. I think he can do more good for that issue there than where he claims he wants to be going, to be honest.

It isn't hypocrisy or cynicism or deception that makes me share Bernie's goals but approve Hillary's plans. It is instead, I would say, a recognition that the role of radical education, agitation, organization is to mobilize masses and pressure institutions to change policies and legislation in the direction of progress by way of the ongoing reconciliation of stakeholder differences and problem-solving of partisan reform. Of course, one can get lost in radicalism so that the perfect becomes the enemy of the actually good compromise. Of course, one can get lost in reformism so that what seems possible becomes a monologic celebration of a status quo that actually can and must change. Of course, these dangers are real, but escapes into spontaneisms and perfectionisms and cults of personality and paranoid defensive identity/subcultural-politics and all the rest of those dumb scaredy-cat tricks are unworthy of intelligent people of good will and democratic conviction.

Walk and chew gum at the same time. Hillary isn't a monster. Bernie isn't a saint. They are both politicians. Bernie can seem comparatively more pure because he retreated to a small white homogeneous more liberal than average New England state while Hillary entered into politics on a national and international stage and then stayed there as New York Senator and Secretary of State where the scrum is uglier, the accomplishments harder fought, and the compromises leave scars. The very thing that makes so many dismiss her is the thing that leads me to embrace her. Most of the rest is silly kid's stuff.

The Republicans are putting forth near-textbook fascist exemplars up for the Presidency. Polls declaring Bernie a better match against Republicans do not reflect the avalanche of flaming shit that the GOP has yet to hit him with in the hope against hope Democrats will be foolish enough to choose him over Hillary (which is why they are also cutting commercials and spending money to support his nomination): Bernie Sanders is a grousing short-tempered petulant disheveled superannuated avowed socialist who has repeatedly and recently promised on tape, ready-made for negative ads, to raise middle class taxes. Maybe he could still beat an opponent as execrable as Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, but the gamble is real and the stakes are horrifyingly high. When I complain that Sanders is a grousing short-tempered disheveled superannuated avowed socialist, you should take note that I am all of those things myself, and I rather like all that about him. But I also know what goddamn country I am living in and unicorns are not indigenous to the landscape. A strong Democratic Party with a brilliant pragmatist at the helm, a woman presiding over a rainbow coalition that reflects the reality of America, needs to be there to put up the pieces and move the Obama legacy and coalition forward. People who know better need to stop fooling around.

On the Competing California Cannabis Legalization Iniatives: AUMA Ain't MCLR But You Better Believe I'll Support It If It's On the November Ballot

High Times:
I’ve been interviewing opponents of the now $2.25 million-funded Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) in California... Generally, their opposition to AUMA is that it is not True Legalization™, in that it doesn’t legalize enough. There will still remain laws and regulations, and the penalties for noncompliance will include possible jail. Therefore, they argue, it’s not True Legalization... some will posit that it should be rejected in favor of the Marijuana Control, Legalization, & Revenue Act (MCLR) or the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative (CCHI)... But I wonder what will actually make the ballot—the AUMA with its $2.25 million war chest, backing of the two leading national drug reform organizations, endorsements by major political players and conformance with the Cole Memo and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's commission, or the MCLR, the CCHI... The facts are that the AUMA initiative has the money to make the ballot and the language that’s moderate enough to make 50 percent +1 California voters approve it. Opposing this initiative puts one in the place of aiding and abetting the cops, rehabs, drug testers and prison guards who want to be sure legalization fails. [Emphasis added --d] And why on earth would anybody oppose this AUMA, when the prohibition California has NOW is so much worse?
NOW: Getting caught with an ounce of weed gets you a ticket.
AUMA: An ounce of weed in your pocket is perfectly legal.
NOW: Getting caught growing even one cannabis plant at home gets you a felony.
AUMA: Up to six cannabis plants in your home are perfectly legal.
NOW: Getting caught with over an ounce of weed in your home gets you a misdemeanor.
AUMA: You can possess at home all of the results of the harvest from your six plants.
NOW: Getting caught with any amount of concentrate can get you a year in jail.
AUMA: Possessing up to eight grams of concentrate will be perfectly legal.
NOW: Giving someone even a joint gets you a misdemeanor.
AUMA: You can share up to an ounce with another adult.
NOW: You’ve got to buy your weed on the black market from a guy who can get a felony for selling it.
AUMA: You can go to a retail shop and buy marijuana...
NOW: Your city can ban you from cultivating medical marijuana, indoors or outdoors.
AUMA: Your city cannot ever ban your personal indoor six-plant garden.
NOW: If you live in public housing or have an anti-pot landlord, you can’t legally use your medicine anywhere, because public toking is illegal.
AUMA: You can toke with other adults in a licensed pot lounge.
NOW: Your parental rights can be infringed upon because of your medical marijuana use.
AUMA: Medical marijuana parental rights are specifically protected.
If there is any part of the AUMA that makes things worse for a marijuana consumer or a medical marijuana patient than they are now, I can’t find it. But it’s interesting to see the attempts my opponents try to use to scare people. One tells me that the AUMA will cause the price of weed to rise to $500 per ounce, even though legalization with more restrictions in Colorado and no home grow in Washington, both with higher taxes than the AUMA proposes, has led to precipitous declines in the retail price of marijuana... Some are bothered by penalties for passing weed to minors or growing and selling without a license. Not only are these things already illegal, how well do you think voters would take an argument that we ought to be allowed to pass the weed to schoolchildren? ... So here’s my challenge to my opponents: Take the time you’d spend thinking of a clever new insult or name for me and find me just one part of AUMA where my life as an adult cannabis consumer with no medical marijuana recommendation gets worse after it passes.
I agree MCLR is better than AUMA. I agree it looks like it's going nowhere. I agree that you have to be bonkers to reject AUMA for the status quo. I agree with the forceful statement I emphasized above. I feel like arguments taking this imperfect equals evillest of the evil form are multiplying like hydra heads to annoy me.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

White House Ready

Clinton's Victory Speech today. By all means, compare it to Trump's belligerent drunk rant a few hours later. The choice is stark.

Hope without Fight is just Hype.

#ImWithHer

I Want To Vote For A Democrat

There is a connection between the fact that Bernie Sanders is running for the Senate as an Independent and not as a Democrat RIGHT NOW -- even as he is also running to be head of the Party he has not been a member of -- and the fact that he is running for the Party's nomination using a strategy that eschews the Democratic Party's actually-existing actually-winning diverse Obama coalition.

Is There Hope For Hopefulness?

I am hearing a lot of denigration of pragmatic politics as a course in cynicism right about now, and I am hearing a lot about dried up middle aged liberals who are presumably contemptuous of youthful idealism they should instead be celebrating. Well, I for one think it is the height of cynicism and not idealism for candidates participating in politics at the highest level to indulge in loose talk and to make false promises about incredibly difficult desired outcomes. Worse, I think it is a recipe for disastrous generational demoralization and cynicism in those admirably hopeful young people who believe the loose talk when false promises fail to materialize. America needs all of our idealism and energy and creativity, because our problems require generations of sustained effort, through knots of parochialism, prejudice, greed and error. Politics is almost always too slow to bear, it is compromised and heartbreaking and hard as hell. Shame on those who know better who are willing to make promises they can't keep at the expense of honest assessments of the difficulties in the way of our shared goals and those who indulge in self-aggrandizing spectacles of purity theater at the expense of lifelong advocates with battle-scars to show for their accomplishments, especially when that "purity" is enabled by their own comparative insulation from the scrum of contentious politics. It is education, organization, planning, and sustained effort that makes me hopeful. Hope without fight is just hype.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Stupid Truthiness Of Lying About Lying

About this already widely cited exchange with Hillary Clinton on honesty: An honest person tries to tell the truth but also knows that truth-telling for finite error prone human beings is too fraught an effort for one to presume one always actually manages the feat. People have an unconscious, people have secrets, people proceed in the face of errors, divided loyalties, and demanding contingencies. In politics especially all of these factors are amplified. I am reassured by a presidential candidate who values honesty would feel these realities especially keenly. I think it is rather hilarious that so many people are now saying Hillary declaring she earnestly tries to tell the truth makes her more a liar than lying about it would.

Devine, So Not Divine

Tad Devine sure knows how to win a nomination fight that loses Democrats the general election.

Carter re-elect, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, now Sanders.

Lucy, football, again, at a time like this?

Just Curious

So, just why was it anyway that Bernie Sanders left thriving, difficult, diverse, complex, real American Brooklyn for a political life in the homogeneous white postage stamp of a state, Vermont?

America is not Vermont. Sanders supporters, do you wish that America is Vermont?

Not a good look, guys.

Sanders Supporter, Have You Lost Your Way?

It's fine to support Bernie over Hillary. We disagree, and disagreement is fine. But if your support requires you to fancy me a monster shilling for a monster, you've lost your way.

Satisfies Expectations

Republicans rarely disappoint at being disappointing.

Fandom Menace

We've gone from grasping that The Revolution Will Not Be Televised to "radical" Sanders supporters believing that The Revolution Will Be Nothing But Television Commercials.

It Seems That My Sanders Question Is Answered At Last

It would seem that Bernie is running NOW, this very minute, as an Independent for Senate. So, apparently Sanders is simultaneously running to be the HEAD of a Party he won't deign to be a MEMBER of as a Senator. Alrighty, then.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Progress Is Made From Both Radical Movement and Partisan Reform

As a teacher, writer, agitator, protester, organizer, voter, supporter and champion of the democratic left for thirty years of my life, when it comes to the choice of radical movement politics and partisan reformist politics I am a firm advocate of BOTH/AND, I regard EITHER/OR as amounting to NEITHER/NOR, and I take very great pains not to confuse ONE for the OTHER.

Very. Presidential.

Great Photo of Madam President in the new Vogue.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Teaching Day

In my grad Biopunk seminar this afternoon in the City, we're talking more Foucault, reading Octavia Butler's "Bloodchild," and there will be presentations on the artists Kiki Smith and Alexis Rothman. If it weren't for the commute both ways I'd be really looking forward to all of it. Classes this term are looking up -- last term was a bit of a drag.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Rather Revolting

The Sanders campaign began revolting against the superdelegate system of the Democratic Party only when Sanders realized he is not getting any superdelegates. Sanders already knew about this system when he decided to run for the nomination of the Democratic Party, and Ted Devine, Senior Adviser to the Sanders campaign helped to craft the superdelegate system he now excoriates. By running as a Democrat, Sanders gained legitimacy (as a competitor to a figure with an international profile like Hillary Clinton among other things), as well as priceless informational and organizational resources. He has not yet seen fit to do any of the party-building or down-ticket fundraising you might expect a candidate to consider a responsibility given the benefits the party has conferred on him. Sanders likes to offer up glib generalities about "enthusiasm" and "turnout" that are presumably his contribution to a party crying out for his charismatic cult of personality -- but it is unclear how loyal or useful or dedicated (say, come the mid-terms) "Bernie-or-Bust" latecomers to the party will actually turn out to be. Certainly, Bernie's promises that the unprecedented turnouts mobilized by his "Revolution" will magically bulldoze away Republican obstruction and the complex competing demands of actually-existing actually-powerful institutional stakeholders seem even less credible once we notice that so far Bernie's turnout numbers have conspicuously underperformed Obama's from eight years ago -- Obama whose performance in office has been such a crushing disappointment to Bernie and so many of his supporters. I must say I fully expect Bernie to go back to condemning the party he now seeks to be the head of the moment he loses its nomination fair and square all too soon.

Hundreds of Sanders' Closest Colleagues Have Endorsed... Hillary Clinton


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Meta

An aphorism is a point of departure masquerading as an arrival.

Sorry

Convincing yourself that your voting preference makes you a Revolutionary doesn't convince anybody else your dick is any bigger.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

When Shit Gets Real Hillary Benefits

Things that happened the moment we knew Scalia had died:
[1] The idiotic pretense of privileged folks on the left that the politics of purity cabaret trump the politics of pragmatic considerations vanished instantly. Hillary benefits.

[2] The grotesque lie of the Bernie-or-Bust brigade that "Both Parties Are The Same Anyway" so who cares if we risk unelectability by championing our unvetted paladin, the short-tempered petulant disheveled superannuated avowed socialist from a white homogeneous postage stamp of a state was instantly exposed. Hillary benefits.

[3] The immediate, ugly, and outrageous GOP obstruction of President Obama will offend every liberal and progressive so much that all the Obama bashing that Bernie supporters engage in, insinuate, or tolerate will no longer get any kind of pass.  Hillary benefits.
That a man who delighted in using his considerable power to make life much harder for innocent vulnerable people -- including queers like me -- has died, and that his evil dies with him, also happened, but I am assuming that this goes without saying for the readership of this blog. All of us benefit.

Scalia

If I win the Lottery tonight it's going to be a real head-scratcher what my third wish should be.

Reaching for Analogies

I am hoping Clinton will be Truwoman to Obama's FDR.

Friday, February 12, 2016

We're All Waiting


Grumpy

I like how when Bernie Sanders isn't complaining about how awful President Obama is he likes to try to steal his moves.

He has a new vapid ad out about bringing the country "together." His last vapid ad seemed to me hard to distinguish from a car commercial. No words, open faces. You may vaguely remember it. People seemed to like it.  Like sweet ice cream, already it is melting away...

I happen to think Sanders should maybe inflect his old-school class analysis with an intersectionality that foregrounds white supremacy if he really wants to deal with the forces that are tearing this country apart at the moment. But, you know. "Together."

Maybe he should have supported the president rather than calling for someone to primary him last time around? Honestly. You know, grandstanding isn't fighting. You do know that, people, right?

It's actually a bit of a scam, when it comes to it. Nobody who actually knows anything about revolutions or cares anything about the revolutionary thinks voting for a president of all things is a revolutionary activity -- any more than buying a new cellphone or a different soda pop is revolutionary. That doesn't keep PR assholes from saying otherwise, but presumably we are all savvy about that sort of nonsense. Right? Sanders voters like to think of themselves as savvy, isn't that right?

You know, I have always liked Senator Sanders and I think he is very fine as the very progressive Senator of a very progressive, homogeneous white postage-stamp of a state, Vermont. Sure, even Vermont couldn't get the single payer he is claiming he will magically somehow get for the whole nation which is why Hillary Clinton who fought so arduously and publicly for universal healthcare and then got the S-CHIP program that became the bridge to the passage of the ACA is supposedly evil compared to him and so on and so forth blah blah blah, but, oh hell, why bother? Who needs facts or context? It seems already we're moving on. Time now to demagogue the mostly but not entirely terrible 1994 Crime Bill (which included an assault weapons ban and the Violence Against Women Act, which is why so many Republicans fought it at the time) that Sanders voted for but Hillary Clinton did not. That makes sense.

It's a funny thing, but it occurs to me that President Obama accomplished more in two years than Senator Sanders accomplished in over two decades in Congress. I guess we aren't supposed to notice things like that, or the fact that all the people who actually know Bernie Sanders the politician best are all endorsing... Hillary Clinton. And I do mean pretty much ALL of them. I mean, by a flabbergasting disproportionate extent, but, hell, I guess they are all the Establishment... the establishment of that awful Democratic party that Bernie Sanders never deigned to be a part of until the day he decided he should be THE LEADER of it. If only it were possible to accomplish let alone maintain progressive achievements without sustainable fighting organizations that constitute "establishments," wouldn't that be swell?

And who even knows if Sanders will continue to consider the Democratic Party worthy of his membership as Senator if he happens not to win its nomination for the Presidency. It would seem that that is a question the answer to which can be neither asked nor answered.

It's funny. I'm a democratic socialist just like Senator Sanders says he is -- not always, mind you, but often enough for Republicans to put it in devastating ads that will help Trump or Cruz or "moderate" (he's not -- AT ALL) Kasich ascend to the White House to demolish the Obama legacy and create a reactionary Supreme Court that outlives me. Anyway, as I was saying, I am a democratic socialist, too, hell, I'm an eco-socialist feminist queer, and I have plenty of friends and colleagues who agree with me intellectually on many political questions with which majorities of Americans would not when it comes to it. As it happens, none of those democratic socialist friends and colleagues seem to me any more electable when it comes to it than I think the grumpy disheveled superannuated avowed tax-raising socialist Senator Sanders is (all of those traits of his I share, let it be known) -- but of course you might not notice this right about now, since Republicans are refraining from actually attacking him on these obvious grounds in the wild hope that idiots on our side actually nominate him instead of Hillary Clinton. And, you know, quite apart from electability issues I happen to think none of my friends or colleagues would make good Presidents either. And I think Presidential campaigns are job interviews not some form of self-indulgent feel-good wish-fulfillment cabaret.

It's a curious thing, I guess, but I don't think making lectures about how good single-payer healthcare would be in a world disconnected from the institutional terrain and stakeholders of actually-existing healthcare provision is the sort of thing that makes a good President. I think lecturing well makes you a good lecturer. I'm one of those, you know. That's how I make my living. Lecturing. In a potential President, though, I am impressed instead by things like Hillary Clinton's years of experience, respect from all the relevant stakeholders in the policy-making domain, instant command of complex details on disparate issues, calm demeanor in the face of stress and distraction, organizational ties to a host of stakeholders and players inevitably at the table when the deals relevant to policy outcomes I care about are under discussion. I don't see Bernie Sanders offering up even a smidge of any of these things. At all.

I'm actually embarrassed for the people of good sense and good will who are pretending to see things differently on this score at the moment. Whatever my disagreements and occasional disappointments with the administration of president Barack Obama, he has been the most progressive President in this country since FDR and the most consequential President since Ronald Reagan. That may be an indictment of our history but that doesn't change any of the realities at hand. Senator Sanders is no Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton will support and extend President Obama's legacy. She has that capacity and she says she will, and I strongly doubt Sanders does have that capacity -- if you forgive me for saying so -- and he doesn't even consistently say he will either, which is worse. That's more than enough for me

Sanders had a great first primary. It was a must-win for him and he won it. He outspent Clinton three-to-one and got swarms of independents and first-time voters out. The Clinton campaign was timid, and Bill's frowny face suggests he thinks the campaign should have front-loaded the kick-ass to nip Sanders in the bud. Maybe so, maybe so. Clinton had a pretty good debate tonight. Her closing won the debate and will make a good commercial. The nominating contest is (at last!) about to enter states that better the reflect the demographic realities of the nation and the Democratic base. Sanders voters are about to see, I think, that votes matter more than decibels -- as they have also already seen that responsible people in the organizational apparatus they are so eager to take over actually have some say in the nominating process that will direct so much of their investments and careers. I do think Hillary Clinton will win the nomination -- though it may take longer and cost more than I would like now before she can turn her attention to defeating the white-supremacist patriarchal greedhead gun-nut crazytown GOP. I will be very glad she wins when she does.

If you think I feel this way because I am less righteous or informed or intelligent than you are, well, you just wallow away in that while you can. I hope the weather is nice on your planet. As a democratic eco-socialist feminist queer vegetarian teacher of critical theory I am to Hillary Clinton's left, as I am to any electable president in this country, and as such I will disagree with and fight against and likely pout and post and protest against many things she will say and do... but welcome to the American left, children, that's how it is. Who the hell are you to pretend fighting for anything worthwhile would be otherwise in this sprawling, diverse, insulated, pampered, power mad, bloodsoaked, idiotic, promising country of ours? Do you even know what fucking country you are living in? What kind of privileged oblivious assholes are you people? You wanted to vote for your DreamPrez and then hit the dancefloor? Your radicalism is a consumer fandom, you are being lazy and you are being stupid and I am not being impressed by you.

Sanders supporters need to be mentally readying themselves to vote for the woman they idiotically demonized all this time if (it's when) Sanders loses what may now turn out to be a drawn out affair of determined delegate accumulation. Hillary will win, and then she'll need to win again if we aren't all to lose more than any of us can stand to.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thought Hillary's Debate Closing Was Fire

Wonder Why?

By overwhelming majorities the Democrats in Congress who know Bernie best are endorsing.... Hillary Clinton.

Bernie Supporters Are Smearing Civil Rights Hero John Lewis Today Because He Supports Hillary Clinton

I doubt he finds this surprising, after having experienced this from Occupy:


When you hear the guy at the end shout "John Lewis is not better than anyone! Democracy won!" I suspect a baby Bernie Bro found his voice.

Still Waiting.....................

I still await an answer or link answering the simple question will Sanders be a DEMOCRATIC senator if he loses the Presidential nomination?

Why is this such a difficult question to find an answer for?

Of course it is a little uncomfortable as questions go. After all, if Sanders won't agree to be a Democrat as a Senator in the future it seems as though he is unwilling to be a member of a party he nonetheless feels perfectly entitled to be the leader of. And if he does agree, one wonders what exactly he was waiting for up to now? But uncomfortable or not, I don't think it is an unfair question. I think it is in fact an obvious question to ask. Sanders is on the record saying he won't run in a third party bid if he loses the nomination. That is not an answer to my question, but it seems the sort of question inspired by awareness that Sanders has not been a member of the Party the nomination of which he now seeks. That is to say, it is a question related to mine. It seems a legitimate question. It is a question that should have been asked and answered by now. Why can I not find the answer to this simple question?

Betrayal And Selective Memory

Many Sanders supporters are now declaring the Congressional Black Caucus endorsement of Hillary Clinton a "betrayal" because she supported the 1994 Crime Bill. Setting aside the complexities of the politics of that moment -- that the Crime Bill was fought by many Republicans at the time because it included an assault weapons ban and the Violence Against Women Act -- it is worth noting that half the Congressional Black Caucus at the time voted FOR the Crime Bill themselves. Hillary Clinton, who did not hold elected office at the time as First Lady, of course did not vote for it but did support her husband's efforts, sometimes using language which we now rightly regard as reprehensible. Bernie Sanders also voted FOR the Crime Bill. Hillary Clinton has proposed as part of her presidential campaign a number of policies to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline, the racist war on drugs, and the mass incarceration crisis exacerbated by the worst provisions of the Crimes Bill, which Bill Clinton himself has recently decried as failures. It is easy to pretend politics is a child's cartoon with pure superheros and evil villains. It is easy to cry "Betrayal" about complex compromises. Stupidity is always easy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Teaching Day

Today in the City in my undergraduate Greek and Roman Patriarchy course we are tackling Gorgias' "Encomium of Helen" and then the Melian Dialogue. Here in the Bay Area it is like spring already in early February. Looks like it will be another year of record breaking temperatures. On the train home, I'm reading Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy.

High Times

Now, as I ponder the long primary and election season ahead I find I am saddened that recreational cannabis legalization in California happens only at its end.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Teaching Day

In my graduate Biopunk seminar in the City today we will pick up our unfinished discussion of Almodovar with a delicious digression into Judith Butler, and then turn to Foucault's Docile Bodies and Mia Mingus' shattering science fiction story "Hollow."

Monday, February 08, 2016

Is It Really "Anti-Establishment" To Fight So Hard To Lead An Establishment?

If being anti-establishment means being opposed to corruption or unaccountable abusive plutocratic power, well that is one thing, but if being anti-establishment means being opposed to institutions as such then that is quite another thing, surely. If Sanders means by "anti-establishment" the former, then he and Clinton are actually both anti-establishment, since both are proposing reforms to limit corruption and undermine plutocratic power, just with different regulatory measures and in different degrees. These are differences that people of good faith can productively disagree about, but these differences do not justify the sweeping distinctions and denunciations too many Sanders supporters seem to be fond of making.

If instead Sanders means by "anti-establishment" the latter, then Sanders is expressing skepticism about organizations themselves. Now, it is a familiar critique that whatever an organization is brought into existence to do in the way of work, once it exists a layer of incumbent politics will emerge to maintain that organization in existence potentially at odds with its original purpose. This inherent conservatism of organizations demands vigilance to say the least from anyone of progressive sentiments, not least because even while that tug of incumbency freights all organizations, organizations remain not only necessary to accomplish progressive ends but also to maintain these accomplishments.

These are the sort of ambivalences that may have lead Bernie Sanders to declare Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign and the super-delegates of the Democratic Party are all parts of an establishment he opposes even while obviously he is not opposing the actual missions of any of these organizations and recognizes the reactionary and plutocratic forces against which these organizations have been struggling throughout their existence. The blanket dismissals Sanders sometimes levels at such fighting organizations symptomize a deep tension in the appealingly straightforward anti-plutocratic critique Sanders is propounding and the rather glibly sweeping solutions, if that is what we are calling them, he is proposing. It is, of course, useful to make the point that a politics of incumbency may bedevil even progressive organizations when they are not transparent and accountable, but to the extent that presidential politics is partisan politics and partisan politics is ineradicably organized it is a little bizarre to mount too ferocious an attack on a party establishment you are seeking to lead on the way to become President of the most powerful military-industrial establishment in the history of humankind.

I am a fan of Occupy and have always considered "it" (Occupy is really an umbrella term for a teeming ramifying complex of resistances and campaigns and viewpoints) both a fierce petitioning of public grievance and a beautiful expression of public happiness. Beyond that, Occupy was a great rhetorical success, changing the terms of the politically possible. I have said all this even as I have also worried over some of the avowedly anarchist adherents of Occupy for their spontaneism, and have wished Occupiers were more doctrinally committed to sustainable and scalable forms of progressive change... But the Sanders campaign, which in some key respects seems a subcultural sequel to Occupy, seems to me to lack the clarity of even the anarcho-occupiers at their worst. Occupy changed the public conversation and in so doing altered the co-ordinates within which the possible and the important are articulated. This is the second presidential campaign shaped by issues formulated by Occupy, and now even more by the Moral Mondays and BlackLivesMatter resistance that succeeded and supplanted Occupy, and far more effectively already in my view. Occupy may have left our movements and organizations to push for the progressive change they demand on terms they define themselves but in a discursive terrain transformed by Occupy's energies and illuminations. But a Presidential campaign is actually taking up tools, it is actually mobilizing organizations, it is actually assuming a position within an institutional terrain. You cannot pretend to be above the fray as you are reaching for the reins.

Bernie tells his supporters half the time that they are the Revolution simply for supporting him -- a claim as absurd as the pretense of many successful ad campaigns that buying a brand of soda or the latest handheld device is a revolution. The other half of the time he tells them he can accomplish none of his lofty ambitions unless there is a revolution in this country -- a claim which leaves one to wonder, if his campaign is not that revolution, then why he isn't devoting his energies to organizing the revolution he says we need instead? If the organizations of the establishment are the problem, is he seeking to lead them then only to command them to leap off a cliff? Not that they would, but were they to do so, what would happen then? And if none of that happens, if he seeks instead to work within the established/establishment terrain, why are we supposed to think he would be better at working with the figures and organizations he disdains than those who are explicitly committed to working within those terms to make change already? And if he miraculously managed that trick of working within those terms he always condemns, and amongst partisans who seem to disdain him even when they sympathize with his message, then why wouldn't all his supporters rightly denounce him as a traitor the moment he succeeded on those despised terms anyway?

I believe that partisan politics are indispensable but also that they are radically inadequate. I believe movement politics on the ground educate, agitate, organize and so push compromised partisan politics to legislate solutions to shared problems. I think both political registers make the substance of change, but that neither manages to do so alone, at least not for long. It seems to me naive to disdain partisan politics for the purity of movement politics -- but I can certainly understand the impulse, the distaste with compromise, the exhaustion of struggle against inertia and ignorance, the heartbreak of witness to avoidable suffering. And it seems to me cynical to disdain the transformative force of movement politics for partisan skirmishing -- but, once again, I can certainly understand the impulse, the thrill of visibility, the compelling contest, the challenge of real-time praxis, the immediate feedback, the palpable rush of victories however few. People who lodge their political investment in either register can do work indispensable to progress, but so too they can lose sight of the reality of progress either by ascending to an Olympian height of moral or aesthetic beauty that they never connect to real change on the ground or by embedding so deeply into the terms of present limits that they come to resist real change in history.

All of these are very familiar quandaries, and I am saying nothing new in all this but only repeating truths that need repeating because they are hard lessons everyone would rather forget and so we often do. In politics you have to walk and chew gum at the same time. I am not sure I am saying much more than that when it comes to it. But the Sanders campaign seems to me an especially confused and chimeric being -- ascending to the heights... but in the form of the usual spinning and skirmishing in the depths of campaigning muck, promising revolution... not by eschewing the partisan but through the pretense that the partisan is revolutionary, disdaining institutions... while at once scrambling to rule them. I think a lot of people who know the world needs more change than a Presidential campaign could ever provide have decided to indulge in the romance of a Presidential campaign anyway, and I know that people who could be agitating and organizing against banks that still hold their money and police that still do violence in their names are instead fighting with people online over a Presidential nominee. No doubt this is easier and more enjoyable than the alternatives, which are after all quite terrible, and heartbreaking, and exhausting. But I don't know that people should seem so very pleased with themselves for making such choices as they often appear to be, to be honest.

I also have a preferred candidate in the present contest, as all my readers know by now, the ones who are still reading me at any rate, but I am supporting a widely respected, brilliant, capable individual, connected to the partisan and organizational apparatus she would wield as President to make such change as the Constitutional executive may do in our system of government, confronted with the actually-existing realities of our day. I think what many decry as Hillary Clinton's deceptions and hypocrisies reflect instead the realities of a lifetime fighting for progressive causes in a scrum of diverse stakeholders and in the midst of intense forces that require contingent alliances, ugly compromises, and tactical retreats on the way to slow-arriving, fragile, imperfect, hard-won achievements. I think it is comparatively easy to seem progressively pure when you govern a postage stamp of a state with a homogeneous population already more liberal in conviction than the average. I think Hillary Clinton is a lifelong participant in partisan politics because she found herself in the belly of the beast, partnered with an ambitious husband, and then realized once she had arrived there that she had a talent to make progress through partisan politics herself, and so there she has remained. Not everybody has the stomach, the patience, the determination to endure such efforts and I honor those who do, even if I share in the distaste for the process that most other non-participants in that arena like me are likely to do. I can tell you one thing, I do not expect a Revolution from the Presidency and I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton will not disappoint me in that expectation. As far as it goes, that seems about right to me. If you think that is because you are more knowledgeable, righteous, honorable, or committed than I am -- well, live it up.

Such radical change as we need will depend on the mass movements we deploy to press our partisan politics with, and also on the election to Congress and to state political offices and to local positions democratically minded people who are interested and capable of solving shared problems and hence contributing their measure to progress in the world. I support Hillary Clinton because I think she will do her part in such work. I support movement politics to the left of Clinton because I have no illusions about what Presidents can accomplish under the best circumstances. I support and supported President Obama on much the same grounds. I think he is the most progressive President since FDR -- and I can salute him for that even while recognizing that this is at once something of an indictment of the unbearable injustice and inertia of American history. I do appreciate that Clinton is not making or implying promises that she could not keep as President. You know, I have also always liked and admired Bernie Sanders. I'll support him and vote for him if he becomes the nominee of the Democratic party, but I do not think he will and if he doesn't I will be glad he doesn't. I think he makes a much better and more competent progressive Senator for Vermont than he would make a President. It is fair to disagree with that assessment, but I do not think that is the disagreement most people are really adjudicating through their championing of Sanders' candidacy. I think working through a philosophical disagreement about the pragmatics of historical change in the face of white-supremacy, patriarchy, plutocracy and pollution by means of a battle over the Democratic party presidential nomination between two utterly idealized celebrity candidates -- one an heroicized caricature the other an anti-heroicized caricature -- is utterly frivolous, deranging of sense, and a waste of energy and resources that would be better devoted elsewhere. Precisely because I take the urgency of radical change so seriously I find the Sanders campaign as the educational, agitational, and heaven help us all, organizational vehicle for such change the most arrant nonsense imaginable.

Commemorating the Twentieth Anniversary of the Cyberspace Manifesto

From a few years back, a wee Valentine, "I Tweet From Basement, Home of Mom": Time For A Cyberspace Manifesto 2.0?

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Poll

You Want To Make Revolution?

Voting for some dude to be President ain't it.

War As THE Judgment Question

House Joint Resolution 64: "Authorization for Use of Military Force," Sept 14, 2001:

There was one and only ONE "Nay" that day, and it was my Representative, Democrat Barbara Lee who voiced it. Bernie Sanders was in that chamber and he voted "Yea." The record is right here.

Here, voice trembling a bit at first, is Lee's prescient speech, making her case against authorizing war in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. She is ALONE:

Friday, February 05, 2016

Thursday, February 04, 2016

"A Good Day for Progressives"

This Is the Monster Supporters of Sanders and the GOP Love To Hate

I'm an atheist who was moved by Hillary's discussion in last night's New Hampshire Town Hall of the role of spiritual counseling to balance ego and service and practice gratitude.

Is An Answer To This Question Available Anywhere Online?

If Senator Bernie Sanders loses the Democratic Party nomination for President he is now seeking has he said whether he will continue to be a Democrat as Senator or will he become an "Independent" again?

Meme Is Just "Me" Two Times In A Row

once upon a time,

"I come from Cyberspace,
Home of Mind,"
said a material man
in a material land,
sitting on his material behind.

Telling me what you want isn't a plan.

Well, it isn't, you know.

"Cackle"

In the future, we must tickle all candidates in advance to vet their laughter for congeniality to misogynists as key leadership test.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Teaching Day

Baby, it's cold outside. We have the heat on in our apartment this morning for what can't be more than the third time in as many years here. Of course, growing up in Indiana this weather in February would have seemed like spring, frisbees on the lawn. Now, I'll bundle up like a babushka as I shamble to the BART for the City. Today we'll be screening Almodovar's All About My Mother and then discussing it with Donna Haraway's "Biopolitics of Postmodern Bodies." Should be fun.

Monday, February 01, 2016