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

Saturday, December 30, 2017

MundiMuster! Floridians, You Can Restore the Vote

Click the link if you're interested, or read the thread to see more about why you should be interested.

Warping In The New Year...

I've upgraded this from one of Jim's comments in the Moot, definitely deserves a post of its own -- thanks for this, happy New Year to you, too!
Speaking of Star Trek, you know 2018 is the year warp drive gets invented, according to TOS canon. Lieutenant McGivers says so, and she should know, since she's the ship's historian. ;->

MARLA: Captain, it's a sleeper ship.

KIRK: Suspended animation?

MARLA: Uh huh. I've seen old photographs of this. Necessary because of the time involved in space travel until about the year 2018. It took years just to travel from one planet to another. Then a brilliant industrialist named Elon Musk found a way around the laws of physics. . .

Hm. Why does she say "about" the year 2018? Is there going to be time-distortion effect? Or has the election of Donald Trump altered the time-line? Anyway. . . happy new year. ;->

Friday, December 29, 2017

DiEM25 Is Needed... And Needs To Change

Everything I feared, everything I hoped. As usual.


I love all of this.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Live Long And Prosper

Piles of Antiquity

Finished Mary Beard's Colosseum book only to begin her Parthenon book the next day. Am I on vacation or what? Plan to spend some time today, as yesterday, organizing my syllabus and notes for next term's graduate critical theory survey, but the truth is that I'm taking it easy this break, trying to catch up on sleep, trying to recover from the stress of end-of-term and endless-Trump and losing Sarah and all the rest.


Echelon Insights finds that there were only 17 days in 2017 where Donald Trump was not the top topic of conversation on social media, and he was the number one story every week for every audience.
Garbage every minute, garbage all the way down. Highly elevating, for the soul, for the nation, for the world.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Fake News

So, some people who created a fake war on saying merry christmas have declared a fake victory in that fake war so that they can fake feeling good about fake winning it over people who simply don't care about any of it?

Internet of Shit

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Monday, December 25, 2017

All Honor To Those Who Are Working On The Holidays

Ready To Catch The Wave Should It Come

Federal Election Commission filings show that if a wave crashes on the Republican House majority in November, as many have predicted, Democratic surfers will be on their boards to catch it. Nearly a year out from the election, Democratic candidates have filed in all but 20 House districts held by Republicans. By comparison, Democrats in 80 districts do not have a Republican opponent for their seat. The Democrats are not just filing to run in districts where Mrs. Clinton performed well. They are also running for conservative seats that were uncontested in 2016 and where Republicans remain heavy favorites, in states like Texas, Arkansas and Nebraska.

Let's Make It Happen

Hark, the Herald Fugelsang

As every year, the reminder:

And What Have We Done?

I'm a wee bit more hopeful now than I was this time last year, and this year -- even with its disgusting and demoralizing Trump atrocities and calamities, even with the devastating loss of little Sarah -- has been a wee bit better than the worst I feared for it and now, for next year as every year...

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Shit Stink

Christmas Effects by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

As every year on this day, a remembrance for a scholar who mattered to me when it mattered quite a lot:

What’s “queer?” Here’s one train of thought about it. The depressing thing about the Christmas season -- isn’t it? -- is that it’s the time when all the institutions are speaking with one voice. The Church says what the Church says. But the State says the same thing: maybe not (in some ways it hardly matters) in the language of theology, but in the language the State talks: legal holidays, long school hiatus, special postage stamps, and all. And the language of commerce more than chimes in, as consumer purchasing is organized ever more narrowly around the final weeks of the calendar year, the Dow Jones aquiver over Americans’ “holiday mood.” The media, in turn, fall in triumphally behind the Christmas phalanx: ad-swollen magazines have oozing turkeys on the cover, while for the news industry every question turns into the Christmas question -- Will hostages be free for Christmas? What did that flash flood or mass murder (umpty-ump people killed and maimed) do to those families’ Christmas? And meanwhile, the pairing “families/Christmas” becomes increasingly tautological, as families more and more constitute themselves according to the schedule, and in the endlessly iterated image, of the holiday itself constituted in the image of "the" family.

The thing hasn’t, finally, so much to do with propaganda for Christianity as with propaganda for Christmas itself. They all -- religion, state, capital, ideology, domesticity, the discourses of power and legitimacy -- line up with each other so neatly once a year, and the monolith so created is a thing one can come to view with unhappy eyes. What if instead there were a practice of valuing the ways in which meanings and institutions can be at loose ends with each other? What if the richest junctures weren’t the ones where everything means the same thing? -- Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Tendencies, Duke University Press, 1993, pp. 5-6

Sunday Walk

Lovely Christmas Eve with Eric today, our usual Sunday walk down Piedmont to our greasy spoon for eggs. Afterwards, a stroll through St. Mary's. The streets were bustling with last minute shoppers, I suppose, the cemetery even more empty and quiet than usual. Spent the day idling through chapters of Mary Beard's popular guide to the Colosseum -- probably just because it was on the shelf next to the book I read yesterday. We plan to watch detective shows or silly science fiction tonight cozy under blankets and sleep in if my insomnia can for once be kept at bay. I hope everybody has a good holiday.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Women And Power

I enjoy Mary Beard's writing -- both her popular and more academic work on Roman history and institutions especially -- and also admire her clarity, cordiality, and ferocious public persona. I read her latest book, Women and Power: A Manifesto yesterday. Public speech and the political subjecthood figured through such speech has been indicatively male since the Greeks, and the brutalizing policing of women's voices has characteristic and conspicuous continuities ever since. The book weighs in at just a hundred or so pages, and many are devoted to edifyingly garish paintings of classical subjects. I managed most of it while soaking in a lovely hot bath. Nothing not to like, really, but nothing really new there, either, I may excerpt the text (or earlier essays from which it was largely compiled) the next time I teach on gender in antiquity, since the tone is clear and conversational and the references nicely topical. You're probably better off reading her on Pompeii or the triumph -- though in her conclusion Beard genuflected in the direction of larger and thornier questions of gender that may indicate her future scholarship may take on feminist resonances more explicitly and in ways from which we will all benefit.



Pollsters have long understood that the way in which you ask questions can profoundly influence the results of a poll. The folks who run the Trump Make America Great Again PAC apparently realize that, too. In a fundraising blast on Friday, they included a highly-scientific poll that begins thusly:

Trump vs. Obama

If one is sending out a poll to one's rabid supporters, one wouldn't think that one would need to cook the books. Still, The Donald will undoubtedly be delighted to hear that he got fewer "poor" ratings than his predecessor.

Friday, December 22, 2017


Tariq Ali's Islam Quintet

I finished reading Tariq Ali's Night of the Golden Butterfly yesterday -- and with that I have completed all five novels in his "Islam Quintet," which I began the week before the first week of instruction for the Fall term and so finish a week after handing in final grades for that term. I enjoyed and learned from all five and found real provocation from most, though I would say that I enjoyed the last two least, as they are bit more thematically and narratively scattered. Every single novel was full of humor, delightful observations, and contrarian historical knowledge. My favorites were the first two I read, Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree and The Book of Saladin. I would warn that the conclusions of Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree and A Sultan in Palermo are devastatingly brutal (at any rate, they truly were for me) -- especially if you are prone to worry about the worst-case genocidal-authoritarian scenarios of the Trump epoch, for the historical parallels are not edifying. Like Night of the Golden Butterfly, The Stone Woman was a more meandering and gentle read (indeed, the latter is positively Chekhovian in some ways), in a way both make for milder more diverting entertainments, although Ali is doing lots of admirably ambitious things formally in the latter novels, too, don't get me wrong. I strongly recommend them all.

Public Service Announcement

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


"Tech" has never been anything but a euphemism for assholery.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Make Them Pay

And, oh yeah, as a Californian?


Monday, December 18, 2017

Better Late Than Never

Implementation is selective and slow and to be pressured not trusted (as usual), but, yes, but, still, yes.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Holder On Holding The Line

Yes, it may come to this. It may come to this in weeks or even days.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Feeling Hopeless Is Always Understandable

...but only very rarely right.

A new AP/NORC poll released yesterday puts Donald Trump's approval at 32%, making him the least popular first-year president in history (at least, since approval ratings began to be recorded in the 1940s). Despite the booming economy, only 40% of Americans think he is doing a good job on the economy. On the other hand, only 30% approve of how he is doing on health care, foreign policy, and taxes. The poll also found that only 9% think the country is more united under Trump while 67% think it is more divided.
There has to be a reckoning coming...

Friday, December 15, 2017

I Fear This Is True

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Still Grading... And Worse

My deadline is tomorrow. A handful of students still haven't handed in final papers, however I badger, pressure, and cajole. This is more upsetting than I can possibly say. Students who could do well, who have been doing reasonably well so far, who have certainly been passing at any rate, are going to fail -- and there is little I can do about it. I know I may seem to complain about the excruciating intensity of final grading, but far worse still is waiting for work to grade that never comes...

Happy Birthday Indivisibles

We All Know

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"And An Act of God"

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


In trying to find the right word for President Donald Trump, American voters are overwhelmingly negative, as 53 voters (not percent) say "idiot" is the first word that comes to mind when they think of the president, followed by 44 voters who say "liar" and 36 voters who say "incompetent," according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. In the same open-ended question, allowing for any answer, 35 voters say "leader," with 35 voters saying "strong," 26 voters saying "a**hole," 21 voters saying "great," 19 voters saying "moron," 18 voters saying "arrogant" and 17 voters saying "disgusting"... Of the 48 words used by five or more voters, 30 words are negative. Voters disapprove 57 - 37 percent of the job President Trump is doing, consistent with findings for the last four months. Trump has hit or topped the 40 percent approval mark four times since he was inaugurated. His highest approval, 42 percent, was in February.
They're dismantling the ACA mandate, medicare, social security despite the flabbergasting unpopularity of this, they refuse to install gun regulations and invest in renewable energy despite the flabbergasting popularity of this. Trump lost the popular vote by millions, Roy Moore is likely to be elected this very day to a Senate seat while a majority (with whom I number myself) thinks he is straightforwardly unfit for office. Republicans think they are insulated from consequences -- and they may just be right, and if they are right things may get bad enough before the next election that things won't get better again for any election in my lifetime. That said, disapproval like this would historically indicate a Democratic Wave in the upcoming mid-terms and a one-term humiliation of a failed presidency for Trump. Maybe that will be true again. It should be true. It needs to be true. It is worth working to make it true.

Grading Grading Grading

Grading it is.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Happy Birthday UNICEF

Still Grading

Second verse, same as the first...

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Better Late Than Never -- The Doug Jones Campaign Is Actually Asking For The Votes It Needs At Last

My Retweets Suggest Unexpected Star Wars Fever...?


Grading final papers this weekend. Worried about stragglers and extensions as always, but this has been a pretty good term and I think everybody is going to do mostly well this time around. It sometimes seems as though millions of my fellow Americans want me to die because I am queer, because I am a feminist, because I care about the environment and think we should abolish guns and prisons and wage-slavery and advertizing, and because I am a non-believer, even just because I am a teacher, an intellectual, a celebrant of silly pursuits like art and poetry and philosophy in this terrible distressed world, because I have no patience for the lies of sociopathic "tech leaders" and their fraudulent infomercials, maybe because I am getting old, because I am anxious and sleepless and depressed, because I dare to try to cobble together some kind of an itinerant intellectual existence as an unapologetic democratic eco-socialist adjunct in the humanities, without guarantees, benefits, supports... but it is nice to see from the comments that some of my fellow Americans also want me to die because I am not a good enough progressive for them. That's nice. Back to grading papers, I guess. I still miss my kitty. This has been a hard year.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Tech's This! Changes! Everything!

...usually turns out to be more of the same, and the worst of the same.


According to Pew, Trump's approval has fallen in every polled demographic group over the course of his first year, dramatically in some, and of course, overall his approval is historically unprecedentedly low, and has been from the first. For any other President, for any other party, at any other time in history this would matter enormously. Although this November's off-year election was an encouraging harbinger, it still remains to be seen if Trump's dismal record and approval will free us from his catastrophic criminal administration before he manages to do us all in.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Also, Too

I am glad Franken has resigned. Politicians are replaceable, values are not. Also, too:

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

The "War On Drugs" Is Racist...

...and ending the "War On Drugs" must be made to be much less racist than it has been so far.


Get ready, they're going to push it to the edge, they're going to test the republic and there is every reason to think the republic will fail.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Remember When Republicans Declared Obamacare "Rushed"?

It wasn't. And when they said they cared, they were lying. We all knew then and we all know now. Lie lie lie lie steal kill cheat. You know, Republicans! (Fauxvolutionaries chiming in "Dems too!" won't even appear in comments -- I am done with you.)

God Damn Them, Every One...

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Sunday Walk

Lovely walk to our greasy spoon diner on Piedmont for a late breakfast, then on to Temescal and back home in a big loop of some of Oakland's wonderful walkable urban neighborhoods nearby... Spent the afternoon reading Judith Butler in anticipation of the last lecture of the term. Tonight, we're snuggling under a blanket with Suchet's Poirot. The calm before the end-of-term storm.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

On A Day of Defeat... Recall A Year of Effective Resistance... And Gather Your Strength

Rebecca Solnit:
It has been a grueling year for people who care about human rights, climate change, and whatever remains of value in federal institutions from the judiciary to the diplomatic corps. This is a terrible, terrible era, one in which tremendous harm is being done to many people, to the planet and to the federal government. It is also a time in which, through the heroic work of people all over the country and the world, the regime has been exposed, thwarted and rebuked. That’s worth remembering as we face a horrific tax bill and the end of net neutrality. This year of conflicts demonstrates that sometimes when we fight we win, and we have enormous fights ahead of us. The Trump administration is unstable for many reasons, from the erratic behaviour of the president to the Mueller investigation. Civil society has tremendous influence over what becomes of it, and of us. It’s time to take stock of some of the encouraging phenomena that emerged from this grim year. So I made a list.

Don't Think I Don't Know It...

Friday, December 01, 2017

Where We All Are Now

When Trump Fires Mueller...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Letter To An Unknown Woman

I don't post as much these days as I once did -- like so many others, I have retreated into my family and teaching life a bit as the madness of the larger world is swept with destructive gale-force winds. But I am still writing my way through the distress and provocation of day to day life as ever nowadays, it's just that I've re-connected to some of my oldest and most trusted friends in longform letter-writing over the last year. It has been literally life-saving. Anyway, I'm deep in end-of-term teaching demands at the moment, little likely to craft a new post for a few days at any rate and this excerpt from a letter last weekend felt a bit like a blog post, so I have culled it of any tell-tale references, adapted it a tad, and pass it off as a blog-entry....
I enjoyed your optimistic appraisal of the Trump investigation -- I assume Europeans are eager for ANY sign of a resumption of "regular " order here in America. I'm afraid it looks less like that here. For me the Mueller investigation is a bit chilling right now -- because it really does look like demonstrable wrongdoing has occurred (I wasn't sure even the Trump bunch was THAT clueless and venal). Unfortunately, that does NOT mean that impeachment is any more likely than it was a year ago (which was nill), it is a political not a legal process in a very significant way. That very probably means Republicans will soon violate yet another set of governing norms to maintain their hold on power even as this destroys the viability of the Republic over which they hold that power.

I personally believe Trump will serve his full term. He may quit at that point (before that it is possible, but the chances are very slim in my opinion), because he seems miserable, but I strongly suspect he will run again because his ego needs the affirmation. I believe he has exactly the same path to re-election as he had for election in the first place. He might lose, he is unprecedentedly unpopular, but if the GOP activates its bigot base and promises to punish the ones they hate and fear it may well work again to the ruin of us all. How can we deny this? IT HAS HAPPENED ALREADY.

Perhaps Republican dysfunction will screw up their efforts to demolish the tax base on which our devastated at best never more than notionally sustainable social democracy depends. (We'll know three weeks from now, tops, just how bad it's going to be -- I am steeling myself for the absolute worst, vast wealth transfer upward, fatal sabotage of health care, abortion rollback, guns everywhere, the "tax" bill is becoming a fascist christmas tree in a room nobody gets to see.) But perhaps they'll screw it up, the negotiations are delicate even if it is all unfolding recklessly in darkness too fast for accountability. Perhaps paralysis and fear will undermine next year's efforts to re-enact all these efforts yet again, when battered and exhausted from this years struggles, we begin them yet again (thank the Goddess the Virginia off-year election has been read by both sides as a referendum on Trump that he miserably failed), and then perhaps a blue wave could overcomes gerrymandering and disenfranchisement enough to give Democrats control of one or both chambers of Congress (odds are against this, I fear, but it is probably a necessary result if we are going to make it through this emergency intact any time soon, I also truly fear) and gum up Trumpmerican efforts still more. Democrats would have to tread carefully then, minimizing Trump damage while trying to ensure the country blames Trump and not them for the next two years of inevitable frustration leading to the next Presidential election. Such a strategy will likely antagonize the progressive base in ways that will make the next primary as contentious as the last one -- and with exactly the same result, division, demoralization, self-sabotage.

If Democrats managed to control all the layers of government in 2020 somehow in spite of all the reasons everything is likely to go wrong instead, America can get roughly to about where we were in 2010 by 2022. Who knows what kinds of economic, environmental, or military catastrophes could happen between now and then to derange all these fragile calculations? Signs of another dot.bomb and bursting debt bubbles are everywhere, tyrants with arsenals (not just our own) are barking at one another, planetary alliances are shifting disturbingly (American exceptionalism is over, come what may, which is a plus for the world). Who knows if I'll even still be alive in 2022?
And even if we manage to pull off those miracles, at what point does greater progress happen? America should be like a continent-scaled Sweden already if the world is to turn back and save itself from eco-tastrophe. And, never forget: eco-tastrophe also means world war and world depression and social violence and existential threat. It would take a quarter century of vast effort to get where we need to be already. Instead, if Democrats save the country again (among other things, from themselves) it is most likely that we will have set the stage for yet another inevitable bigot backlash that smashes everything to pieces again by 2024, 2028 at the latest. I mean, demographic tipping points will presumably get us off this see-saw eventually -- but in time?

I doubt such speculations are much help when it comes to your panic attacks! But you are like me -- you don't have the option of NOT thinking things through and so the only sane option is to think things through as clearly as you can and then seek the support of those you care about while supporting those you care about as best you can. This is my own strategy, I suppose. Please take care of yourself, too.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Hope This Circulates Widely


I need to remember this one.

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Still struggling with a head cold, still taking it easy today, prepping lectures and watching the tee vee under a blanket. This means Eric and I will miss our Sunday brunch and long walk this week, which is a bit disappointing. As end of term approaches, student e-mails are already multiplying into their eventual torrent of heartfelt freakouts, pleas for extensions, unreasonable demands, and a general ratcheting up of the madness factor. All is conspiring to make me feel exhausted and old and ready to retire to watch hundreds of episodes of Suchet's Poirot on a continuous loop on the couch till I kick the bucket.

Speaking of kicking the bucket, according to Christopher Bates:
On Friday, George H. W. Bush became the longest-lived president in U.S. history, at 93 years, 166 days. He surpassed Gerald Ford on that day, having passed #3 Ronald Reagan (93 years, 120 days) about a month and a half ago. Close on Bush Sr.'s heels is Jimmy Carter, who trails him by 111 days, at 93 years, 56 days. That means, for those who are keeping track, that each of the four presidents who followed Richard Nixon lived to be at least 93 (and all four lived twice as long as shortest-lived president JFK, who was shot in year 46, on day 177). It will now be up to Bush Sr. and/or Carter to try to become the first ex-president to make it to 94. For those who are wondering, Donald Trump would reach George H. W. Bush's current age on November 28, 2039; George W. Bush would tie pops on December 19, 2039; Bill Clinton would catch up on February 2, 2040; while it would take Barack Obama until October 14, 2057.
  I myself arrive at the magic moment, if I am very lucky indeed and without any Presidential gravitas in tow, just a couple years after Obama does. At last! Something that doesn't make me feel superannuated this morning.  

Saturday, November 25, 2017


Looks like I'm staying in bed today with a cold. Friends from Seattle brought a cold with them, Eric suffered with it for a couple of days and now it looks to be my turn. Reading the fifth and last volume of Tariq Ali's "Islam Quintet," putting together notes for next week's lectures on Judith Butler and Sara Ahmed. Feeling a bit woozy and blue. Maybe I'll watch Valerian later today under a ridiculous faux-fur blanket.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Why would anybody go big when you can go home?

Made a feast of stir-fried crimini mushrooms, braised tofu, fresh spinach and udon noodles, then strawberries with nonpareils for dessert. Cannabis and "The Desolation of Smaug" on the tee vee. A lovely Thanksgiving with Eric, lots of laughs and then a long indica-induced night of sleep. This weekend I'm reading and preparing to teach Judith Butler's Performative Theory of Assembly for the last two weeks of the Fall semester. So far, not too bad for end of term...

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tamir Rice, June 25, 2002 – November 23, 2014

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Holiday Traditions

Every Thanksgiving vacation Eric and I watch the Extended Editions of Peter Jackson's six Tolkien adaptations, tonight it's Return of the King. Last night, watching The Two Towers, we were reminded of this little ditty that tickled us years and years ago. Watching this high was a real delight: dance party!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Slippery Stairs R Us

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Fighting Democrat

Upgraded and adapted from an exchange in the Moot:
The Democratic Party is, to say the least, an imperfect instrument, but it is the only nationally viable available tool to fight Republicans in their now explicitly authoritarian formation... and even in more "normal" times it remains the best, if always inadequate, tool for progressive reform (pressed and made accountable from the left by activism not confined to partisan politics, of course, but still). As an anti-racist eco-feminist democratic socialist vegetarian secular-multicultural queer it is easy for me to sympathize with those who (presumably like you) find the glacially-paced inertially-incumbent continent-scaled politics of the Democratic Party coalition hopelessly inequitable and under-responsive as measured against my desired outcomes and critical positions. Oh, yes indeedy I do. But I am able to hold more than one thing in my head at the same time: And so, yes, partisan politics are inadequate but also necessary, and, yes, viable coalitions will always be much less radical in their politics than are the politics of the more radical and righteous members of their coalitions. But if you are fighting for prison abolition, universal income, environmental justice, sustainable accessible infrastructure, ending rape culture, and the queer subversion of patriarchy you will probably have to ally with Democrats for every substantial accomplishment and you will probably have to fight with many to most of those Democrats every inch of the way to make them see sense and conduct themselves with integrity. Just because Republicans are comic book villains now doesn't mean their opponents, the Democrats, are comic book heroes. Seeing the obvious differences between the parties hardly requires the pretense that Democrats are above suspicion or criticism. But at this point, false equivalency theses amount to fascist enablement. I don't think that sort of nonsense is the least bit intelligent, righteous, pragmatically useful, or provocative. So, yes, I will keep "harping" on the unqualified, bigoted, authoritarian incompetent asshole in the White House, thanks, and you can throw your bile darts at the first woman to be Speaker of the House, the most effective and one of the most progressive occupants of that position by any objective standard (which is hardly to pretend she is some paragon or to endorse her many incorrect and compromised positions), Nancy Pelosi, instead, and tell yourself that makes you the REAL sooper-revolutionary all the livelong day if you like. Thanks for the comment -- it is nice to see I still care enough about this sort of thing that you could actually get a rise out of me these days.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ugh, Franken

This roundup of tweets more or less captures my immediate and obvious reaction to the news of sexual harassment by Senator Al Franken...
Yes, Franken's statement and call for an investigation were the "right" thing to do after the wrong thing to do was done. Yes, his response is better to the wrong thing he did than Republican responses have been. Yes, Franken has been a useful Senator in a state that might eventually replace him with a Republican -- though the governor is a Democrat and the state has elected an outspoken progressive Democrat in Franken twice and hence Franken's replacement is likely to be a reliable Democrat, perhaps one less likely to abuse any women ever. Yes, the President is a documented and admitted serial sexual predator and harasser and should be held accountable along with Franken but likely won't be and this is utterly enraging. But Franken abused his power and should face consequences for that and making him face consequences helps build a world in which men who abuse and harass women are all more likely to face consequences for their immoral conduct and eventually that is a world in which people like Trump also face such consequences and hence a world in which life is more liveable for more women more of the time. That is what we want.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Paris, D'Accord?

Christopher Bates:
The United Nations climate conference is taking place in Bonn, Germany, right now. It has been the occasion of much anti-Trump rhetoric... It has also seen a fair bit of bargaining, such as the forging of an agreement among Mexico, Canada, and the Pacific "blue wall" (California, Oregon, and Washington) to cooperate on carbon reduction. The big news on the deal-making front, however, is that Syria... has signed the Paris Accord. That means that the American cheese now stands alone -- it is the stated position of 195 governments that global warming is real and must be confronted, and the stated position of one government that it is not and should be ignored. As a practical matter, however, the U.S. is still a part of the Paris Accord. The withdrawal that Donald Trump triggered cannot be completed until November 2020... the occasion of the next presidential election. The next time a Democrat is sent to the White House, there is zero question that person will rejoin the pact. And whether it is two months after the U.S. officially "withdraws," or four years and two months, or eight years and two months, there is zero question that the other nations of the world will be happy to welcome the Americans back on board. So, like Obamacare, the Paris Accord is a dragon that Sir Donald is going to have real trouble slaying.
Of course, the Paris accord is inadequate even if implemented and it's not like the planet has time to waste on more years of Republican obstruction even if they have a limit -- and even the optimism here about such a limit seems to draw on the analogy of a failure to repeal the ACA just as we find the Senate endorsing yet another stealth repeal of the ACA (its enabling mandate) as part of the corporate plutocratic money-grab of the GOP tax plan.

Without Sarah

My mood, captured in a snippet from private correspondence: The passage of time is very strange. It happened Wednesday and yet here it is Wednesday again. Has this week happened, really? What happened this week? Sarah died this week, that is what happened. A stone week, a week without sun to warm the stone.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


A new Quinnipiac poll finds President Trump’s approval rate at 35% to 58%, near his record low. Also interesting: Just 40% of voters say Trump is fit to serve as president, while 57% say he is not fit. By a 51% to 38% margin, Americans would like to see Democrats win control of the House of Representatives in 2018. By a 52% to 39% margin, they would like to see Democrats win control of the Senate.

Winds Blowing

Andrew Tanenbaum:
Hurricane Maria came close to sinking Puerto Rico, and may also come close to sinking the Republican Party in Florida. Since the hurricane, 140,000 Puerto Ricans have left the island, and 130,000 of them have settled in the mother of all swing states: Florida. All Puerto Ricans are American citizens. Puerto Rico has no electoral votes, but as soon as a Puerto Rican moves to the mainland, he or she can register to vote. Furthermore, most Puerto Ricans are Democrats and after the way Donald Trump rushed to help Texas after it was hit by Hurricane Harvey but basically ignored Puerto Rico after it was hit by Maria, the few remaining Puerto Rican Republicans probably are going to switch parties... Trump won Florida by 120,000 votes. Consequently if a large fraction of the 130,000 new Florida residents register and vote in 2018 and 2020, it could mean a lot of trouble for the Republicans. By itself it probably wouldn't have changed the result, but it would have made the race a lot closer and will also matter for Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in 2018 as well as for many House races next year.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

One Month to the Alabama Special Senate Election -- And It's Real

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sarah, 2001-2017

Our beloved cat Sarah died yesterday in my lap, her little face cradled in my hand. She was never a large cat, even when she fluffed out for the winter months, and she seemed especially tiny at the end. We used to call her babykins, adorababy, permakitten. She was quite talkative, and would chirp and bleep at us incessantly, to get our attention or whenever one of us made eye contact. Strands of her gray fur coat every surface, every corner, every item of clothing, but she is gone, gone. The apartment feels like it's been replaced by a stage set of itself, and we're rattling around wondering what our lines are supposed to be. We also called her our little nurse: she had an unerring knack for sensing when either of us was the least bit distressed for whatever reason and coming up and chirping and cozying up to us and purring into our bodies until we felt better. Friends, guests, apartment managers, anybody sent her into hiding under the bed, she had no trust and no time for anybody but us. There is nobody on earth who can ever know how special she was but us. Her claws were slightly too long and extended a little past her paw pads so that she ticked around the wood floors of the apartment, we called her tick tick baby as she made her restless circuit of the place at night. Her tail was foreshortened and bent, perhaps the result of a tussle as a kitten -- we got her from the SFSPCA sixteen years ago, they had found her in a feral cat colony in Golden Gate Park, she had a gouge in her neck when we got her and appeared to have had a narrow escape from some kind of predatory bird there. She played like a kitten right up to last months of her life -- one of her favorite games was to lie on her back with her legs crazily splayed as Eric would tap her on the left side and then on the right, and she would swipe crazily and belatedly in the direction of the tap, toppling from side to side, missing his hand time and time again, she could literally continue gyrating like that until Eric was too tired to keep at it. We called her caper kitty when she played her wiggle game. She had terrible eyesight and a thousand mile blank stare out the windows as she enjoyed the afternoon breezes roughling the fuzz on her face and whiskers. When she glazed out through the windows, we called that "Sarah watching her stories." Sarah was gray with a fluffy white belly and little white booties. She had an asymmetrical mustache and a tiny bald spot just beneath one of her big flappy bat ears. She was simply perfect. There has scarcely been a day in the last sixteen years when she has not spent hours and hours at a stretch nuzzled up against me, in my lap, rubbing noses with me, sleeping with her chin over my arm as I tapped away at the keyboard, sleeping between Eric's legs all night long (I toss and turn too much), eating from a saucer in my hand as we watched some silly baking competition marathon on tee vee... How I love her. How desolate everything seems without her.   

"Revenge of the Obama Coalition"?

Michelle Goldberg is saying things I want to hear (so take her optimism with a grain of salt), certainly I agree with her concluding recommendations: 
For the past year, the Democratic Party has been engaged in an angry internal debate over identity politics, which are often framed in opposition to a purely class-based appeal. At times, it feels like progressives are doomed to re-litigate the 2016 Democratic primary forever, tearing each other apart while Trump tears down the republic. But if you squint at Tuesday’s results, you can sort of see a synthesis emerging between Obama and Hillary Clinton’s theory of the emerging Democratic electorate -- in which Democrats win by appealing to a coalition of white professionals and minorities -- and Bernie Sanders’s focus on grass-roots organizing and economic populism.
In some ways the election was the revenge of the Obama coalition. Educated white liberals joined people of color to elect an amazingly diverse group of candidates. A Latina single mother, Michelle De La Isla, was elected mayor of Topeka, Kan. Wilmot Collins, a refugee from Liberia, won the mayoral race in Helena, Mont. Seattle elected its first lesbian mayor, Jenny Durkan. After a year in which liberals have been bludgeoned by demands that they abandon identity politics and empathize with resentful Trump voters, the election was a reminder that white men needn’t be the center of the political universe.

Yet class politics and identity politics aren’t really a binary, even if they’re sometimes presented that way. Murillo, for example, the first person in her family to graduate from either high school or college, told me that affordable housing was a central issue in her campaign. Overall, Tuesday was a great night for economic populists. Before this week, the Democratic Socialists of America had 20 elected officials among its membership. On Tuesday, 15 more won local office, including 30-year-old Marine veteran Lee Carter, who unseated the Republican majority whip in Virginia’s House of Delegates.

Ultimately, the main lessons from Tuesday are probably more strategic than ideological. Democrats need to contest every seat they can, no matter how red. (In the wake of the Washington Post’s revelations about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s past sexual relationships with teenagers, it’s a good thing there’s already a strong Democrat in the race.) They should also recognize that young people are crucial to their fortunes, and make it easy for them to run. One person who played a key role in Democratic victories on Tuesday was Amanda Litman, a 27-year-old veteran of the Hillary Clinton campaign who co-founded Run For Something, which trains and supports progressive millennials seeking political office. (Her group backed both Bennett and Roem.) More millennial candidates, Litman told me, “means more millennial voters,” and millennials are largely left-leaning.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017


A new CNN poll finds just 36% say they approve of the way President Trump is handling his job, worse by one percentage point than his previous low of 37%, reached in October. Disapproval has also reached a new high at 58%, with 48% saying they strongly disapprove of the way he is handling his job. Also interesting: 59% say they think Trump himself knew that his campaign had contact with suspected Russian operatives.

And We Are The Damned

Every Trump tweet is damning.

MundiMuster! V O T E

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Re-Litigation All The Way Down

Here's hoping all the nice folks pointlessly re-litigating the Democratic primary yet again hours before an enormously important eminently winnable Virginia state election aren't re-litigating an enormously important eminently winnable lost Virginia state election a week from now. I should have known when the W-enabling Naderites all lost their minds just a few years later again over Bernie's birdie that even Trumpmerican authoritarianism isn't enough to unite progressives in support of the Democratic Party, that never adequate instrument which remains our last, best hope to save us from ourselves.


Wednesday, November 01, 2017

MundiMuster! Stop Trump's ACA Sabotage, Encourage Enrollment!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Near Majority Favors Impeaching Trump -- A new Public Policy Polling survey finds 49% of voters support impeaching President Trump, as compared to 41% who are opposed to doing so. Also interesting: Trump’s approval rating has declined by a net 7 points in the last month.

Monday, October 30, 2017


Andrew Tanenbaum:
A new NBC/WSJ poll puts Donald Trump's approval at 38%, the worst yet for that poll. Individual polls on Trump's approval rating go up and down, but the long-term trend is almost linearly down. Real Clear Politics has a table of all 223 public polls of Trump's approval/disapproval since he took office. We plotted them with least-squares regression lines and got the following graph:
From the data, it is clear that Trump's honeymoon lasted until about March 7. That's the last date any pollster had his net rating in positive territory. But even in February, 20 polls had him under water, and by double digits in seven of them. Even worse, the trend lines are unambiguous: Approval is dropping and disapproval is increasing. This could spell trouble for the Republicans in 2018, since how well the president's party does in the midterms is strongly correlated with the president's own popularity.

Draining the Swamp

The Daily Beast looked at the background of all 341 people President Trump has nominated for positions in the administration and found that 179 -- more than half -- have some sort of a conflict of interest: “One hundred and five nominees worked in the industries that they were being tasked with regulating; 63 lobbied for, were lawyers for, or otherwise represented industry members that they were being tasked with regulating; and 11 received payments or campaign donations from members of the industry that they were being tasked with regulating.”

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Card Carrying

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Christopher Bates:
A couple of weekly pollsters released their latest on Wednesday, and the numbers definitely won't be finding their way to Donald Trump's Twitter feed. First up is Fox News, which certainly tries to tote the President's water, but the numbers say what they say. They have him with the lowest approval rating ever for their poll, 38%. He's losing ground among key constituencies, including men without a college degree, working-class white men, and evangelicals. Politico/Morning Consult, meanwhile, has Trump with a slightly better overall approval rating, at 42%. But the rest of the numbers are pretty grim, as a majority of respondents find him untrustworthy (53%), dishonest (51%), reckless (56%), thin-skinned (52%), lacking in compassion (54%), unstable (54%), and sexist (50%)... These numbers represent a dip from last week; the obvious explanation is Trump's (mis-)handling of the La David Johnson phone call. Puerto Rico surely didn't help, either. While Trump's approval rating ebbs and flows depending on whatever the drama of the week is, it is clear that the overall trendline is downward, and pretty sharply so. Over the past nine months, he's bled about 6.5 points; from pulling numbers regularly in the mid-40s to numbers regularly in the high-30s. For a president who won office by the skin of his teeth, that's very concerning. It's also the case that no president has had such a bad first year on the approval-ratings front since the numbers were first tabulated during the Truman years. The only presidents who were even in the ballpark (see the data at the link) were Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford. Those two men saw their parties lose 54 and 49 seats in the House, and 8 and 4 seats in the Senate, respectively, in the midterm elections. So, to the extent that the numbers have predictive value, the conditions certainly appear to be building for the wave election of all wave elections.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Freedom Must Be Won In Every Generation

“Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation. That is what we have not taught young people, or older ones for that matter. You do not finally win a state of freedom that is protected forever. It doesn't work that way.” -- Coretta Scott King

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunday Walk

A truncated Sunday walk today -- our usual stroll down Piedmont Avenue, our usual brunch at our greasy spoon diner. Too busy for much more, unfortunately. I've been grading papers this weekend, finished half my stack yesterday and face the second half today. The great debate is whether I'll attempt to grade with a "Flea Market Flip" marathon in the background, or retreat to the silence of the back porch and grade with a spoiled old cat on my lap. No pink champagne once I'm done these days (my stupid platelet problem has more or less banished booze from my life for over a year by now), but a lovely bit of cannabis chocolate will make for an even better celebration once I'm done. I race the sun to finish off this day!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

No Bread All Circus

Race-baiting circus against the NFL fading? Conspiracy-baiting circus on JFK coming soon... Chaos, ladder, etc.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sunday Walk

Yesterday was Eric's forty-fourth birthday and we spent it much as it we usually do Sundays: we had breakfast at our diner on Piedmont Avenue then hiked deep into a cemetery for a couple of hours, talking and walking in the sun. Yesterday was clear and fine, the first morning waking without a scratchy throat or wondering whether the scattered ashes darting like snowflakes onto the patio were bits of somebody's home or some other tragedy from the North Bay fires. Sarah has returned from her hidey-hole beneath the bed to nap in the breeze outside as well. Watched an enormously fun Agatha Christie adaptation last night with Margaret Rutherford playing Miss Marple, and then an episode of "Pie in the Sky" for good measure, a smart and engrossing British detective series we're rather loving at the moment. I took Saturday off for a change and spent much of it reading Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Warrior. It's a rambunctious plot-drenched romp. That was lovely, but it probably means my undergraduates get their midterms back in two weeks rather than one. (Since so many are getting their papers to me late, that is only fair after all.) This week's lectures zero in on Eve Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet for Wednesday's "Queer Manifestations" seminar and Frantz Fanon's "Concerning Violence" for Thursday's "Peace in Pieces." These are works I adore, so I'm hoping this week's teaching will be a pleasure. Wouldn't that be nice?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Moore No More?

Will the execrable bigot bully Roy Moore lose his Senate race to a Democrat in deep red Louisiana or will he win and find himself under indictment for massive tax evasion and unable to assume his seat anyway? Chances are, he will win and Louisiana will lose. But, then, that's the GOP.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Mass Incarceration of LGBTQ Youth

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

The stench of the North Bay wildfires singes the breeze for the second day in a row. Walking to and from the grocery store with our little metal cart Eric and I returned with red, runny eyes, coughing in the acrid haze. I've finished the third novel in Tariq Ali's Islam Quintet. I was moved by this novel as well, but found it a bit less gripping than the first two. I think I will remember it at least as fondly as the others anyway. Reviews describe the tone as Chekhovian, but I suspect Mahfouz is a more apt comparison. I think I will take a bit of a break and read Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Warrior before resuming A Sultan in Palermo. For now, it's time to work up some lecture notes for tomorrow's discussion of Sandy Stone in my graduate Queer Manifestations seminar.

Monday, October 09, 2017


Upon Waking

The stench of smoke from the Napa fires woke ma and Eric quite early this morning, hours before sunrise, and the day is still blustery and smokey, the patio blanketed with branches and eucalyptus bark and pine needles. Feeding our little kitty Sarah soft food from a dish in my lap these days, she's well into her sixteenth year and has to be coaxed into eating enough. Also reading Sandy Stone's formative and canonical response to TERFs and genderqueer manifesto The Empire Strikes Back for my queer manifestations graduate seminar and Gene Sharp on nonviolent strategies for my Peace in Pieces undergraduate survey. I've read this material so many times before, but it remains inspiring and provocative. Despite the despair and rage of this terribly demanding year, I find myself, almost in spite of myself, connecting through teaching and everyday care back to life, ideas, commitment, even hope... Strange... Good...

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Sunday Walk

Eric and I had a late breakfast at the Piedmont Cafe and Bakery and then strolled through St. Mary's cemetery for an hour or so before the afternoon heat became more fierce. Still feeling a bit bleary after a long cannabis-fueled full night's sleep. It's been a lazy, lovely weekend, all in all -- Jules, one of my very best friends in the whole world, made a rare visit from Switzerland, which was wonderful, and I also heard from UC Berkeley that I am wanted for teaching again next summer, so that is good news. All told this has been a relaxing and satisfying few days, with Trumpmerican dread pushed off at arm's length for a welcome while.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Trump Disapproval Unprecedented

Christopher Bates:
Donald Trump's approval rating... has cratered again, to its lowest point since he took office. The AP, which does its measurements on a weekly basis, now has him at 32%. The 20s are uncomfortably close, and with them Richard Nixon's record-low Watergate-level approval ratings (around 25%). That is not good for any president, particularly one who is in his first term and is overseeing a generally solid economy (the September jobs report notwithstanding...)... [I]s he being punished for his ham-fisted handling of Puerto Rico? For his cabinet dysfunction? His handling of North Korea and/or Iran? Something else? Could be because Saturday Night Live is back, with Alec Baldwin's devastating impersonation. Maybe it's because of Las Vegas... Whatever the case may be, it is pretty clear that Trump's ceiling is somewhere around 40%, and that he's only going to achieve that under the best of circumstances. This means that we're presumably headed into brand new territory—since approval ratings have been compiled (the Truman years), no president has gone into the midterms (or a possible re-election campaign) with so many Americans unhappy with their performance.
More signs of a Democratic wave to come, perhaps, if enough of us can make it through these months of GOP-domination to vote them out in the mid-terms, though it is hard to know if things like polling approval which have always mattered in the past still matter quite the same way in Trumpmerica with its GOP-safe gerrymandered districts and voter disenfranchisement and ubiquitous algorithmically-mediated deceptions and frauds afoot.

Friday, October 06, 2017

MundiMuster! SwingLeft Is Ready To Boot Doll-Eyed Dolt Paul Ryan From His District and His Speaker's Perch

pleasepleasepleaseplease Make. It. So.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017


I've mentioned here a couple of times that I've been exercising with Eric lately and have lost some weight this last year. I weighed in at 198 lbs. this morning, the third time I've weighed under 200 lbs. this week. I guess it's real then. This is the first time I've weighed less than 200 lbs. since 2004. (The body I have in my 50s is, needless to say, not the same body I had in my 30s, alas, even at the same weight.) Last year when I found myself in the emergency room nearly bleeding to death I weighed 285 lbs. Soon after, last New Year's Eve I weighed 271 lbs. I've lost over 70 lbs. in nine months! It's hard to account for the profundity of this change, silly though it may seem to mention such details. Just the way my body fits differently in the crowded public buses and trains I use to get to and from work is a transformation, has become so much easier in a minute to minute way I can scarcely communicate what it has been like...

Teaching Days

Friends visiting from Europe this week. In my graduate Queer Manifestations seminar we're taking up Valerie Solanas (among others) today and in my undergraduate survey of "nonviolent" politics tomorrow we're working on models of argument from Stephen Toulmin and Carl Rogers. These are topics I've taught many times before and which require less preparation time than usual. That's good, because I want all the time I can get to gab with my friend Jules and his partner and his sister -- who I have not seen since we were next door neighbors in Atlanta a quarter century ago!

Tuesday, October 03, 2017


Monday, October 02, 2017

Thoughts And Prayers Since Columbine Have Accomplished Nothing...

...maybe it's time to actually DO something. Ban military weapons, track ammunition, make gun manufacturers liable for damages, require training and mental health and criminal screening for licenses, circumscribe recreational use and require safe storage in households near children. The second amendment should be understood as a Constitutional guarantee that armed forces and police (eg, militias) protecting communities be representative (eg, right to bear arms) and accountable (eg, well-regulated). That the second amendment is not a blanket license to own just any weapon is revealed by the fact that nobody thinks the second amendment gives anybody the right to nuclear or biological weapons. Principle grasped and conceded, what remains is the empirical determination just which regulations increase safety and diminish harm. Of course, that can't be the process or the conversation because Republicans -- as with climate policy, healthcare policy, economic policy, education policy...

MundiMuster! Call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Tell them to pass gun safety laws NOW!

Uber, But For The TeeVee...

James Poniewozik on "Wisdom of the Crowd"
If you follow the tech business, you may have heard the formulation, “It’s Uber, but for ...” The idea is that there’s no human endeavor that can’t be transformed by a little coding, as Uber did for taxis... This philosophy now describes an entire genre of TV... It’s Uber, but for formulaic drama. The formula, roughly: Rich jerk invents technology. Rich jerk suffers personal tragedy. Rich jerk suddenly has a reason to care about the outside world. Rich jerk applies his technology to solve a problem related to aforementioned tragedy. Rich jerk gets pushback from the establishment. But rich jerk’s technology works! Thanks, rich jerk! ...
--h/t Jim Fehlinger

It's Never "Too Soon" To Talk About Real Political Solutions To Gun Violence

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Whatever The Odds, Democrats Should Be Fired Up, Ready To Go This December in Alabama

Andrew Tanenbaum:
Many Democrats think that the chance of a Democrat winning a special election for the Senate in Alabama is about as big as the chance of a Republican winning one in Massachusetts. Except that in 2010, Republican Scott Brown did exactly that. An Opinion Savvy poll just out shows Roy Moore (R) ahead of Doug Jones (D) by just 5 points, 50% to 45%. With more than 2 months to go and Moore a constant source of outrageous comments, Jones could possibly win this one, at least if the DNC decides to put some real money into the race. Of course, Republicans who supported primary loser Sen. Luther Strange may be angry now and say they will vote for Jones, but come December they may come and support Moore while holding their noses. On the other hand, it's not impossible that a Moore was a "lesser of two evils" vote, given the shady way in which Strange acquired his office (an apparent quid pro quo for helping quash the prosecution of then-governor Robert Bentley). There could be a segment of voters who were just waiting for the chance to vote for someone who is not Moore or Strange.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Uneven Democratic Recruitment for 2018 Bears Watching:

Andrew Tanenbaum:
The enthusiasm on the Democratic side for congressional races is enormous, but it is not uniform across the map. For example, eight Democrats are already running against Rep. John Faso (R-NY) in NY-19, which is in the Hudson Valley, mostly south of Albany. Another district in which eight Democrats have already announced is VA-10, currently represented in the House by Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA). Her district includes all of Clarke, Frederick, and Loudoun Counties, plus parts of Fairfax and Prince William Counties. It is a highly educated district and could easily flip, hence all the interest from Democrats. However, there are also holes in the map. For example, Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) in NJ-02 doesn't have a credible Democratic opponent yet. NY-24 looks like a dream pick-up opportunity for the Democrats. Hillary Clinton won it by 4 points and Barack Obama won it twice by double digits. But so far, no serious Democrat has stepped up to take on Rep. John Katko (R-NY). Likewise, FL-18 is devoid of a strong Democrat despite its being a district that Trump carried by less than 2 points and the incumbent, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), having a 100% voting record in support of Donald Trump. Part of the reason is clear, though. FL-27, just south of FL-18, is going to be an open seat because Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) is retiring, so local Democrats see that as an easier race than going after an eight-term congressman. The Democrats' problem is that candidates who might run for Congress, such as state senators and representatives, often look at a district and say it is too tough, so they decide to stay put. What they don't realize is that if 2018 is a wave election -- and it might be given what has happened in the special elections already this year -- a plausible but unknown state senator could be swept in on the tide. But that can happen only if the potential candidate becomes an actual candidate. It is an old saying, but it is still true: "You can't beat somebody with nobody." (V)