"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Taking Action

Am I signaling my choice of tactics here? Today there is some pretty large civil disobedience going in Midtown, but I didn't go. Instead I threw $25 on the plastic towards Howard Dean. He's the Democratic candidate that appeals to me, and the main thing that they're worried about is being outspent in the primaries, so instead of blocking traffic I kicked his campaign some dough and told them I'd voulenteer. Dean's platform is pretty basic center/left -- health care, multilateral foreign policy, balanced budget -- but seeing him via CSPAN at the California Democratic Convention (you need broadband for this... Dean starts about the 24 minute mark) kind of turned me on. He concludes his speech with "I want my country back," which I've been saying quite a lot lately. It resonated.

Here's perhaps the most tragic solder's story I've yet seen. The whole thing about planning to move back home and get together with his childhood sweetheart really hits me in the heart. I'm afraid there will be a lot more of these in the coming weeks and months.

Last night I met up with the crew from The Quick Fix, which was really really a good feeling. It's more than three years since we started working together, and it had been more than four months since we'd last gathered as a group. We talked for about three hours about our lives and about the state of the world. While the project that originally brought us together has run its course, we still have a lot to say to one another. We're going to continue meeting to work for peace. More on that meeting later... it's a whole thing I want to write up.

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Ugly Business

Well, this is very bad news:

[The Marines] have new orders to treat Iraqi civilians, including women and children, as hostile until proven otherwise.

Best response I've heard is from the comments over on The Agonist: Who knew it might come to this? Pretty much everyone outside the White House, I think.

I haven't said it yet today, so here it is: these people have got to go. Team Bush needs to be benched. The current administration must not be allowed to steer the course of this nation for four more years.

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Outlandish Josh is Going Soft

As some of my friends have had the dubious honor of witnessing, I've been engaging in nausiatingly saccharine public behavior with this really lovely woman lately. Just to warn you, I don't think this is going to let up any time soon. She writes me this in an email, "i'm smiling like a kid who just got her first big wheel and am at the top of a big hill!" I dance a little jig in my living room. We're talking about artistic collaboration and traveling around together. Heady talk, unconscious and honest, the naggling bounds of doubt strain, snapping free as the protective armor of urbanity crashes useless to the floor. I'm becoming a softie.

Also, humor! The onion has done it again: Everyone. Must. Read. This. They really are america's finest news source.

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Hearts and Minds

The Guardian has an interesting bit of reportage on how the Marines are doing in Iraq. Choice quote:

A few miles from the bridge to the south lie the ruins of the ancient city of Ur, founded 8,000 years ago, the birth place of Abraham and a flourishing metropolis at a time when the inhabitants of north-west Europe were still walking round in animal skins.

Sgt Sprague, from White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia, passed it on his way north, but he never knew it was there.

"I've been all the way through this desert from Basra to here and I ain't seen one shopping mall or fast food restaurant," he said. "These people got nothing. Even in a little town like ours of twenty five hundred people you got a McDonald's at one end and a Hardee's at the other."

I've been hoping that perhaps some positive fallout of this war might be a closer alignment of Iraqi culture and ours, maybe some war brides, some Marines and Army boys who go over there and get their consciousness expanded. I was going to say "minds blown," but that's too close to "heads blown off," and I don't want any of that. Usually after a war there's an uptick in freethinking five to ten years later. The next decade is going to be interesting, and in spite of Everything, there are plenty of reasons to stay hopeful.

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I have some actual work to do today -- anyone who knows of good research about customer relations for life insurance using 800-numbeers and/or the internet, contact me -- so I'm just going to give y'all a few tasty links to chew on.

In the world of comics, Garry Trudeau has taken off the gloves, his last two comics are pretty openly critical of what's going on now. The rest of the "town hall" site is pretty cool too. Tom Tomorrow is always fresh, as is Ted Ralls, but Ward Sutton still hits the hardest.

Now for some paranoia-inducing off-beat sources of news. The site aeronautics.ru carries translations of russian websites that purportedly contain leaks from various intel sources over there. Debkafile stokes the engines of fear from Israel. Al Jazeera is still off the web thanks to a continuted DoS attack. If you're just looking for some up-to-the-minute coverage without putting on your tinfoil hat, I suggest the agonist. For a more political angle, read the comments on daily kos. If you're in need of a reprive, keep up with McDonald's smashing news at IsThatLegal.

And finally, your daily peek into the pro-war mindset: "If history—especially that of the Cold War—teaches us anything, it's that peace (if we take peace to simply mean "the absence of armed conflict") and justice have an annoying tendency of being mutually exclusive." That's right folks, war is justice.

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InfoWar is On

Al Jazeera's website has been under heavy Denial of Service attack since yesterday, when they launched their english-language version the AP is reporting. This is a deliberate attempt by someone to limit American access to information. If the NSA isn't involved, I'd be very surprised.

Another kind of info-war, the battle against apathy, is on as well. Many of my friends -- good friends, lovers -- are currently living in a kind of obstinant apathy/avoidance state. It a survival mode. If you really read the news, it's impossible not to be enraged. But what are you supposed to do when the blood boils? Our real chance to give these clowns the boot is 18 months away. What's the point of watching the news?

Well, if you mean the news like on TV, not much. But I think there is something to be said for staying informed. I'm going to start a running education file, something to turn people on to in the run up to the election, something that might help us with regime change here at home, which is really our only hope.

People cope in various ways. I asked my pal Dave the other day how his war has been going. His response was quite witty:

hollywood's producing some great interactive movies these days! every day around noon i grab some popcorn and beer, and cheer enthusiastically whenever i see something blow up. "Operation Iraqi Freedom" feels so *real*... with all the internet, television and radio saturation, it's 10 times more fun then that piddly "A.I." internet game a couple of years ago. hell, a whole bunch of "protesters" marched outside my window on saturday... those crazy kids are *really* getting into the fun. i think the plot's a tiny bit thin (there were some holes around that president's reasons for invasions... why'd the big country invade the little country, again?), but that's hollywood for you... putting up dozens of nifty explosions, gun fights and street riots in lieu of a decent script. ah well, it's all in good fun.

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Why Anti-War Action is Necessary

Been noodling on the "protesting is tratorous" meme for a while today. While the exercising of rights is hardly un-American, I've been looking for the communicable reasoning behind my intuative comment to a women at last weekend's march that I'm doing this because I love my country.

RonK, from Seatte (the original), who I've been reading in the comments of Daily Kos has a piece of the action: because we need to convince the world that this is not the real USA. This isn't the whole story. There's the bit about standing up for what you believe in, creating your own reality, taking meaningful action to be an active participant in your own existence, but this is a critical element. The world must know that what is going on now is an abbaration, so that when we bench Team Bush and bring some sanity back to the White House, we'll have a leg to stand on international credibility-wise. Protest. Do it for the future.

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Refresh Connections

I've been trading a few emails with Luke over the past day or two. He's on Spring Break now, and doing some fine extracurricular sociological studies on the war polls. We've been discussing protest tactics and the utility of Civilization II as a tool for educating world leaders. I pointed out that it teaches some important lessons about power and the peskyness of partisan and fanatic millitary units. Luke responds that going to war as a democracy without the UN wonder of the world is usually political suicide, and perhaps the game needs re-designing given recent events. I say wait and see.

I'm also making plans to sublet the spare room in his apartment for much of the summer. Hopefully Peter and I will be landing a fairly hectic bit of consulting work, which would keep me busy and give me the necessary bank to make that a reality. Not counting any chickens yet, though.

I've also been doing some phone-tag with "The Girth". He's in touch with our USAF-enlisted man JD, who's alive and well in some undisclosed middle-eastern location. Thinking about him, I'm glad he ran up all that credit card debt. See, when JD enlisted a couple years ago, it looked like he was going to be on the forward intelligence/special forces kind of track. But it turns out he has bad credit, which apparently makes you a security liability, which means he's flying in cargo aircraft, which means he's a lot less likely to end up full of holes, which is good news from where I'm standing.

Spent last night in stitches with Sasha. That woman cracks me up something fierce.

Finally, Mark made noises which would suggest he'd be returning from Equador in the next month as well. Perhaps a grand reunion at Ren Fayre is in the cards? I can only hope so.

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Notes from a Defeatist

On loan from Franker, I just finished the latest collection by Cartoon Genius Joe Sacco -- another fine product of the Oregon experience -- and in the spirit of that (and reports of Turkish incursions in the North and bussloads of Syrian Voulenteers on their way to Baghdad), I invite everyone to once again try their hand at the game all the world is playing. Yes sir, step right up and take your best shot, it's the hottest attraction on television and the internet. It's faster than the breaking news. Could be your lucky day kid. That's right, for the low low cost of $80 billion a month, you to can test your mettle. Get ahead of the curve with Gulf War II!

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