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

Friday, November 30, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Green New Deal

A lot of people are talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal -- mostly in the loose way they are talking about everything related to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez these days -- so maybe they should read it. Very commendable if preliminary, captures the urgency and the promise of climate change reasonably well (especially loving those ten-year deadlines).

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily (A Day And A Vote Short Edition)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, November 26, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Where We Are

Sunday Walk And What Comes After...

Mid-term grading and then a couple of weeks of toxic wildfire smoke kept us from our weekly Sunday walk nearly a month... Today, tho', we went to our favorite diner on Piedmont Avenue for brunch for the first time in weeks and then walked to the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses to see if any blooms remain after a long month of fall weekends away. It was a miracle of fading but splendid flowers in the place, especially reds and yellows, and all the fountains spilling their songs... The gray fog burned away in the early afternoon light, the sky a blazing blue bowl stirring sweet autumnal breezes. There were children screaming cheerfully like sleigh-bells and playing tag among the paths this afternoon. Next week I've got a writing workshop on schedule, then symposia of student presentations of work on their final projects, then I'll be jurying submissions for next term in the Diego Rivera gallery -- none of this requires very much prep from me, but it's a bit of a roulette spin: unless the students are energetic and collegial and prepared these workshopping and peer-participation events can get pretty frustrating and grim, but when the students are even the least bit in the spirit of the thing it can be a string of stunning revelations leaving everybody feeling great about their work, the course, even the world. Fingers crossed!

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily... Let's Speak Up For Her For Caucus Chair

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Holding Out Hope But Not Holding My Breath...

Since everybody knows the Trump administration cynically released a catastrophic report on climate change the day after Thanksgiving to limit exposure to its contents, wouldn't it be great if the media trumpeted the report wall to wall on Monday to demonstrate they won't be manipulated so obviously about matters of grave important informing the public of which is literally their primary mission as an embattled institution attacked daily by the very same administration indulging in these Orwellian shenanigans in the first place?

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, November 23, 2018

So, A Day Off

Took my first complete day off in ages... slept, grazed on snacks, polished off some fun recent sf by Kim Stanley Robinson and Aliette de Bodard, didn't look at e-mail, and generally loved life. Tonight we'll probably watch LOTR and/or holiday baking shows on Demand and get high while Penny strives for our attention with cat antics. This year began as bleakly as any I can remember, but I am beginning to hope it may be ending, ascending.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

"A Thanksgiving Prayer"

As every year (less thrilled about this than in years past, I must say, but the anti'murcan vitriol is still stirring to the heart)...

Every Year I Do These Things...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Thanksgiving Day

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Today's Random Wilde

I have grown tired of the articulate utterances of men and things.

Teaching Day

Back into the City today, smoke or no smoke. Not sure how many students will make it given the proximity of the holiday and the atmospheric excuse available to all, but we'll be screening Otomo's "Roujin Z" which should be enormous fun, while also tying up loose ends, student presentations, and such. The last two weeks of the term look to be a slog, glad to have taken in a deep if poisonous breath yesterday because I'm a burned out husk running on fumes and ready to sleep for a week...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, November 19, 2018


We are breathing human tragedies. Classes cancelled due to the smoke. Suddenly scrapping my lesson plans for errands. Weird energy in the air.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday, November 18, 2018


For the second week in a row, smoke from nearby wildfires has kept us from our Sunday brunch and stroll. The afternoon is an orange haze burning away a thin white morning fog of dust. I've been coughing all week, but given my, er, history it's the nosebleeds that are the most terrorizing. The smoke keeps Eric at the edge of his migraine on top of everything else. The air we are breathing is a poisonous cloud of human tragedies... My class could conceivably be canceled Monday (school shut down both Thursday and Friday but those are not teaching days for me), but we are approaching the chaos of end of term and students are already falling off the edges of the map and deadlines are getting plucked like violin strings. Thanksgiving is the furthest thing from my mind, hoping the holiday break in three weeks will bring a measure of relief...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, November 16, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Mundi Muster! Extinguish the Slavery of Incarcerated Firefighters in California

Sign This Color of Change Petition:
Wildfires are raging across northern and southern California, and have killed at least 44 people since the most recent wildfires started. Over the past year, the fires have caused over $1 billion in damage to property and nearly 7,000 homes and buildings have been destroyed. These wildfires have also had a big impact on California's incarcerated population who have risked their lives fighting wildfires-- two inmates have already been killed this year in the line of duty.And the incarcerated workers fighting these fires are making as little as $1/hour.

Incarcerated firefighters, not protected under any work safety regulations, often return from fighting fires with broken ankles, arms, burns, and suffering from extreme exhaustion. Fighting fires is backbreaking labor and in the state of California, many people who are doing this work have been forced. The common refrain from proponents of the program is that it is completely voluntary--but inmates often face disciplinary action if they refuse to participate. To make matters worse, many of the prisoners doing this work are women, most of whom are mothers, and children. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) boasted in July that over 2,000 incarcerated adults and 58 incarcerated youth were fighting fires. Mothers and children often choose to take on this dangerous work because they are told that it could accelerate their release date and get them back with their families by earning “good behavior, ” but it usually results in just a mere two days off a sentence. On top of all of this, incarcerated firefighters can't even get jobs as firefighters once they are released from prison--because they have felony records.

The CalFire program is not a mutually beneficial exchange, it's a ruthless exploitation of forced, deadly, and essentially unpaid labor. That's why we're calling on the CDCR to end the practice of employing children to fight fires, ensure that incarcerated firefighters receive the same wage as firefighters who aren't incarcerated and that a pathway is created for them to have a real job on the outside.

This is the message we'll send to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Governor Jerry Brown: Here is the Petition:
We're calling on you to end the practice of employing children to fight fires, ensure that incarcerated workers in the CalFire firefighter program receive the same wage as firefighters who aren't incarcerated, and that a pathway is created for prisoners working as firefighters while in prison to be able to to do the same job once they are free.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Today's Random Wilde

Psycholog­y is in its infancy, as a science. I hope in the interests of Art, it will always remain so.

Barbara Lee Speaks for Me Daily

And while we're on the subject of Barbara Lee, I ferociously endorse this sentiment as well:

Mundi Muster! Demand House Democrats Investigate Voter Suppression

I'm telling House Democrats to investigate voter suppression and save Black political power! I'm joining Color Of Change to demand Democrats use their new majority in the House of Representatives to open investigations into voter suppression. This year we saw widespread suppression of voters in Black communities and other communities of color, and it's time we fight back! Color of Change Petition

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Mundi Muster! Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Good Question for Governor-Elect Newsom:

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, November 09, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Yes We Cannabis

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Today's Random Wilde

Le mystère de l'amour est plus grand que le mystère de la mort.

Ned to Beto...

Not a prediction, inasmuch as the mode of prophesy, popular tho' it may be, is even more idiotic in the field of long-term political prognostication than it is in the field of futurological flim-flammery -- still, it seems to me entirely as plausible to imagine Beto O'Rourke as the governor of a Texas as purplish as Virginia presently is twelve years from his impressively close loss this week as to observe Ned Lamont become governor-elect of the Connecticut that did not elect him over the vile "Independent" Joe Lieberman in a comparably high-profile election twelve years ago. That "twelve years ago" feels like a literal eye-blink to me, by the way.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

MundiMuster! Sign SPLC's Petition

November 07, 2018
Last night, Americans shifted the balance of power in the House of Representatives, creating a Democratic majority. The new Congress now holds the responsibility to take a stand for civil and human rights. Here are four immediate steps Congress must take to put America back on the right track. Add your name in support.
1. Reauthorize and Strengthen the Voting Rights Act. Congress must enact a new Voting Rights Act to ensure fair elections and unfettered access to the ballot for everyone.
2. Investigate America’s resurgent white supremacist movement. President Trump’s role in electrifying the white supremacist movement cannot be ignored. Congress must hold hearings to investigate the rise in hate and extremism in this country and on possible solutions.
3. Stop the Trump deportation machine. The Trump administration is operating an inhumane deportation machine that rips families apart, terrorizes communities, and flouts due process and American values. Congress must hold the administration accountable for its abuses and enact sensible reforms to our broken immigration system.
4. Stop the Census from being rigged. By including a question about citizenship, the Trump administration wants to use the decennial Census as a weapon of intimidation against immigrants, one that would distort the results. Congress must take steps to stop this scheme.

Hot Take-O-Matic Redux

This yields the impression -- and I think this squares with the feelings many are experiencing this morning -- of a divided result, almost a wash, and hence a disappointment. That the highest-profile contests, Abrams, Gillum, and O'Rourke seem to have gone the Republicans' way may buttress that sense of disappointment especially here and now, as the results remain raw, and the criminality in Georgia (and elsewhere) and the megaphoned racism in Florida and Georgia (and elsewhere) are especially demoralizing and enraging. The brutal Senate result this cycle (which I have been worrying about since well before 2016) is enormously consequential since Trump will use it to continue his ongoing reactionary dismantlement of the courts on which we will depend so much in the next years to implement voting reforms and maintain tattered but vital environmental and healthcare regulations and supports. But Democrats won the House, the repudiation was geographically widespread in ways that suggest the 2016 Presidential result did not portend the loss of a nationally viable electoral coalition even as it also confirmed (to those who needed such confirmation) that the white supremacy that has shaped the entire history of this nation continues to do so in ways that always undermine and now imperil our notionally and yet aspirationally democratic tendency. Democrats now can put a check on the worst impulses of Trump-era Republicans, and will also provide a foil for Trump to demagogue in his run for re-election -- which he would have done anyway, but don't doubt for a second he can win re-election in this racist country with such methods. Like W, Trump's election was something of a fluke, but his re-election would not be. Notice that even in the terms of the hot take-o-matic, Democratic House gains are actually on the cusp between a good result and a wave, suggesting the better night for Democrats than Republicans this mid-term actually represented. A lot of truly vile figures went down and others felt vulnerable as they have not before. Medicaid expansion, felon re-enfranchisement, medical and recreational cannabis legalization, protections for queers, minimum wage increases, progressive voter reforms won across many states, making life a bit better for many here and now and setting virtuous forces loose to redress anti-democratic gerrymandering and voter disenfranchisement schemes. Because Democrats won, government is coming to better reflect the diverse reality of our lived nation, with historic victories for women, black folks, queers, native Americans, young people and others. This night was not a mixed result, but an overall victory amidst real defeats. We can fight on from here, when with a worse result we might not have done. Too many of those who seem utterly demoralized must have formed unrealistic expectations about the structural disadvantages the Resistance overcame to win last night, and too many seem to me to underestimate just how entrenched white supremacy is -- perhaps it is a good thing that the result was mixed enough and ugly enough that privileged straight white "progressives" couldn't just retreat back into their comfortable shells and idiotic "post-racial" America and "lean in" white feminist stasis narratives. Here's hoping the stealth-reactionary tech-fetishization that has so long undermined left discourse is truly on the wane in the aftermath of facebook and google and amazon shenanigans. Here's hoping fewer people will fall for berniebrocialist purity-cabaret next time around (and that people of genuine socialist conviction will organize with environmentalist BDS work and prison abolition work and gun regulation work and union organizing work and on-the-ground disability activism and real support for undocumented folks and asylum seekers rather than pretend sniping at voting on social media is some kind of revolutionary activity), and people of and adjacent to the Resistance will vote and do more than vote through the next couple of years and the next few hundred crises soon to come. Trump is already behaving like he is fully aware that he is in a fight for his life... and the democratizing, diversifying, secularizing, planetizing majority must understand that we are in a fight for our lives too. We are all we have. I, for one, am much more encouraged than not and feel ready to rumble.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Take Octavia Butler into the Voting Booth

“Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.”
― Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Monday, November 05, 2018

"These Are The Bad Time"

Daily inner monologue...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Long Teaching Day

Work kept Eric and I away from our brunch and stroll this weekend, and I miss the bolstering respite now, going in to my long teaching day today: William Burroughs and Valerie Solanas this afternoon in critical theory. In the past this has always been a fun lecture and often a freewheeling discussion, but I'm feeling burned out from mid-term grading marathons the last three weekends in a row and the imminently upcoming last-chance-to-stop-the-Nazis election stakes tomorrow, so my heart is really not at all in it today. Worksopping final papers in my digital anti-democratization course, final projects ramping up in all three courses, which tends to mean a bit less lecture prep time and far more one-on-one time with students veering from disengaged to desperate...

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Captain, My Captain!

Still Grading

Spent much of the day grading yesterday and today looks to be much the same. A bit of a drag, the way the papers keep coming on and on and on like that. Lovely, tho', to be out in the dappled autumnal light of the patio, a breeze rustling at the stack of papers. Also, a cup of echinacea and a florid curl of steam: A cough and a scratchy throat is worrying me a bit -- my long teaching day Monday is plenty tough already without a cold ladled out on top of it. Feeling sick with nervousness about the upcoming election and the baldness of the GOP Base bid to rancid bigotry and the way the deplorables are practically smacking their lips at the prospect of bloodletting. So so so many Nazis in this country, and it was ever so. Fingers crossed there's a turning of the tide sufficient to break past the disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, misinformation, shenanigans, and reflect the verdict of the rising secularizing diversifying planetizing majority... before, if it's not already, too late.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, November 02, 2018


Another day given over entirely to grading today. And I doubt I'll finish, even so. Lecture prep for next week is already a bit fraught with so much time given to slogging the swamp (as it were, actually the latest avalanche has some good papers in it): looking forward to the lessening lecture load next term (tho' I'll definitely miss the money), since the pace of fall has equaled the ferocity of the summer intensives preceding it I've been teaching so much for so long my nerves are truly fraying. (And of course the endless various trumpnomena aren't helping.)

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Democrats As The Party of Freedom

I like Mike Konczal quite a lot (a shared affinity for the late pragmatic theorist Richard Rorty may be part of that) and I appreciated this rhetorical program he had a hand in for a re-invigorated Democratic Party more equal to the peril and promise of our moment and the rising diversifying secularizing planetizing majority that needs a better partisan instrument to implement our vision of the common good and redress our many legitimate grievances. Quite a lot of the message here is yet another effort to articulate a "positive" conception of liberty against the facile "negative" conception beloved of libertarians (of the market and cyber varieties especially), a return to the New Deal vision of The Four Freedoms yet again. At least this time around, the familiar refrains (and they are not wrong for being familiar) are woven ever-more insistently into the emancipatory anti-white supremacist anti-patriarchal history and urgency of abolition democracy (prison-poverty-pollution abolition), even if even this more radical language is not yet as radical as my own would be, seeking as it does to mobilize a diverse diffuse continent-scaled nationally-viable electoral coalition. The whole piece is at TPM:
With the current political system in turmoil, we face a generational opportunity to redefine liberalism and the Democratic Party. Over the last decade, once-fringe arguments about how we organize our economy and society, and on whose behalf, have moved into the mainstream. Today, vocal and powerful progressive constituencies are pushing the spectrum of these debates well beyond the status quo...

With Trump’s ascendance to the head of their party, Republicans moved towards the past, the jingoistic, and the nativist. But liberals need to move left not only to match the Right. They need to move because the ideological assumptions controlling liberalism over the past decade have collapsed, as we’ll outline in this essay, leaving people searching for new alternatives, which we’ll also describe. Progressives now have an opportunity to propose not just a new set of policies, but a new set of values... [W]e believe there is a clear organizing principle that provides a path forward: freedom. And history provides a guide.

From abolition to the fight against segregation and Jim Crow, from women’s suffrage to the fight for women’s liberation, from the establishment of the minimum wage to the push for democracy in the workplace and greater protection from economic insecurity, a vibrant and critical element of progressive movements has always been freedom. Throughout our nation’s history, we have fought both ideological and actual battles over the definition of freedom, how it is achieved, and for whom it is offered. These have gone hand-in-hand with fights over how we structure our economy and who it serves.

We can take this moment to expand the idea of what what it means to be truly free. Progressives can reclaim a long history of American political thought that ties economic power to political and personal freedom. We can demonstrate that progressive economic policy is essential to creating the conditions in which individuals can have agency and power over their lives.

To accomplish this, liberals need to embrace three key ideas and goals:

Guarantee the public provisioning of truly universal goods.

Ensure a level and quality of jobs that provide autonomy and dignity.

Curb corporate power.

These three commitments, we believe, are essential to structuring an economy in which Americans across gender, geography, race and class can thrive. Our vision is rooted in the idea that our economy should indeed entitle individuals to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. It harkens back to an older version of the Democratic Party, lead by such presidents as Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, that recognized that the government can be used as a tool that secures this freedom.

This essay is not meant to give the specific agenda, full of bullet points and specific budgetary projections. It instead sets boundaries and provides a compass.