"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Good Video

There's some very interesting video available via C-Span of a book panel discussion between Bill O'Reilly and Al Franken. The juicy stuff starts at around minute 48. Franken has been talking about about 18 minutes -- three over his 15-minute limit -- and has been having fun at O'Reilly's expense. Go to minute 30 to see all of Al's barbs. Bill completely looses his temper, calling Franken an idiot and claimed he'd been on for 35 minutes. Franken gets some laughs and Bill gets some cheers for yelling. It's going to be a long hot summer. Molly Ivans comes off as the voice of progressive reason, and good for her.

Read More


Wolf II

So the Wolfowitz quote was out of context. Still, he's essentially saying that because Iraq has oil reserves we had no other way to influence them other than taking over the whole damn country. This is still bull-poopie. And of course it's about the oil. It's not only about the oil, but it is about the oil. Our country has a geopolitically debilitating addiction to foriegn energy. That's the reason "stability in the middle east" matters and "stability in the Congo" doesn't.

Look, there are two ways to deal with this. One is to do whatever is necessary -- lie, cheat, steal, despoil, rob, bomb -- to feed that addicton. The other is to get off the juice. I think we know which track of action this administration prefers. Their policy can be summed up as "A Hummer in every driveway and a Marine base in every oil-rich nation."

A seriously progressive national energy policy is a critical step toward real national security. I've been thinking this for a long time. If we can't free ourselves and our economy from its dependence on cheap gasoline, we're going to be wedded by necessity to an increasingly vulnerable imperial resource-gathering policy going forward. This cannot be allowed to happen.

Read More


Clean Up Act

First off, this is brilliant: Trailers of Mass Destruction. And now for what I've been up to in the past 24 hours.

Hit the gym yesterday for the first time in a long time. It was a painful experience. My stomach hurt and I am terribly out of shape. Not as bad as when I got back from spending the holiday season out west, but pretty sorry all in all. My personal rigor has been on the wane over the past month or two; too much partytime.

Then I hit the Dean Meetup down at the Essex. It was my first and I had a pretty good time. I was expecting Frank to show up and be my wingman, but he couldn't come through. Once I realized he wasn't going to make it, I just started meeting people at random. There was a good queer presence -- did I mention Dean's the queer candidate? -- which was nice; gay men are possibly the most socially apt class of people in America today. There was a good mix of old and young as well as black and white. Arrested Development, who are releasing a new album after many years of silence, was set to play a few tunes after the official meetup time had passed.

It was a beautiful crowd, but these weren't quite my people, a bit on the square side for the most part: grad students, wonks, grizzled volunteers and sports-loving New Yorkers. There were a few other freaks in the crowd -- did I mention Dean's the freak candidate? -- but I didn't get to talking with them. I still had good conversations though, got a free button and signed some mailing lists. I ended up sticking around to see the music, having a few mojitos (when in Rome...) and trying to understand how I would get inside. The evening definitely tickled my ambition-bone.

I missed Frank the most toward the end, when the crowd was a bit thinner and we were talking with good-looking politically active young women. It would have been pleasant to direct them his way.

But I took the bike home in the rain. Dropped in on Jeremy at the Lyric and had three beers, which put me over the line. I'd eaten nothing since lunch and had been to the gym in-between, so my calorie-starved metabolism was just mainlining the booze to keep the works in operation. I went home and felt sick, passed out in a fit of incoherence, waking now with a hangover and Bob Dylan's "Paths of Victory" on the hi-fi.

Read More


What's Going On...

Brother brother brother, we don't need to escalate...

Well friends, things are getting weirder and weirder. Here's what uber-hawk and Pentagon deputy Paul "Wolfie" Wolfowitz had to say about Iraq at an Asian security summit yesterday. He was asked about the US policy towards N. Korea and why it was so different from Iraq. As the Guardian Reports, his response was:

"Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."

Frankly I'm flabbergasted. This basically confirms the most over-simplified "no blood for oil" counterarguments which were dismissed as utter bunk in the run up and execution of the war. No matter that we protected the oil fields better than the water treatment plants. No matter that we kept the ministry under marine guard while hospitals, schools and museums were looted. All this happened and still I thought they had the blood for oil meme licked, and here comes the wolfster throwing more gas on the fire. Either this is some truly diabolical Rovian machination, someone turned the man on to some high-quality stuff, or he's angling for an early retirement. It will be telling to see if the American media picks up on this or not.

In other news, the President seems to be making an earnest effort to get some peace pie cooking in Israel and Palestine, but hard-line settlers and Hamas have different ideas. Settlers are pledging civil disobedience over having their new holdings taken away -- which may or may not mean gang-beating anyone who looks at them crosseyed -- and the terrorists have said they won't relent until the Palestinian state is "liberated" -- which may more may not mean "until Israel is destroyed." It all depends on who you ask.

From my perspective the onus is on Sharon to be a big man and resist striking back when the next fit of violence inevitably occurs. If he can manage to do this and prevent the fringe-elements among the settlers from going vigilante, this thing might work. The current intifada has been dragging on for more than three years, and it's been nowhere near as politically cool as the last one. The first uprising was largely about youths demonstrating in the streets and throwing rocks. The current one has been largely about suicide, which is not really a long term winner as a revolutionary tactic. Beyond the basic moral question of blowing up more or less innocent people to get your point across, it really implies that you movement doesn't have its shit together when they can't even manage get-away schemes which would allow operatives to plant bombs rather than blowing themselves up. Palestinians would rather have jobs, to be honest.

In fact, the majority of the people who live around there are ready for peace. The question is whether they can resist being provoked by the loonies on either side. Bush for once is doing The Right Thing(tm) by leaning on them to get off the mark, but it's really up to Sharon to make this process work. Of course, some right-ring radical might blow him away ala Rabin if he really does seem to be pursuing this in earnest. Let's hope the cool heads prevail.

Read More


Salam Pax

My favorite internet sensation, Salam Pax, the blogger from Baghdad, now apparently has his own bi-weekly (or "fortnightly") column in the Guardian. Exciting stuff for the next generation.

Read More


Dean Memes

For your further Dean-leaning persuasion, here is my collection of Memes for Dean. Also, anyone with bandwidth aught to check out the video which Carl with a K has. Great speech. Dean is also on Charlie Rose tonight.

Read More


Another Politix Story

Another politics view has come surging forth from my crackling, caffeine-stoked synnapses. How about this one: Bush as a dangerous power-junkie.

The Mother Of All Glass Dicks

Bush had fucked the country. He was a mean enough drunk back when his poison was cocaine and whisky, and now he was born again and raging with the thrill of his own agency. Being a president at war has got to make pure uncut coke look like non-prescription sudafed, and he'd let the buzz get out of hand. He'd started lying to cover for his habit, claiming that we needed this war to protect us from a very bad man who could unleash the worlds worst know poisons and plagues at a moment's notice.

Of course, this was total bullshit.

This was a bad guy who'd tried to kill his dad, who gave money to families who's kids were killed trying to kill jews, who purged and tortured his political opponents and wore a mustache just like Joseph Stalin -- but he was also tired, old and running a third-world country, hemmed in on all sides by superior military numbers and blockaded by layer upon layer of sanctions. He was no threat. Still, he kind of looked scary. He looked like the kind of bastard who would hurt you if they could and all it took was some fudged evidence to put the still-terrorized public into full-bore war mode. Powell stood up and covered for his boss and with that the war was on.

I remember being baffled at the time by the talking-heads and their insistence that Powell's UN presentation was "very persuasive" and "highly professional." It was a second-rate powerpoint show full of hearsay and conjecture. And while these are kinds of evidence, it's not the sort of thing decent people start a war over. It was smoke and mirrors -- something Hans Bliz pointed out a week or so later. Blix was one of the few true professionals in this mostly amateur clusterfuck, but Wolf Blitzer's travel arrangements were already in the works so the event was spun as convincing.

But now the whole web was unravelling. Like most junkies, Bush didn't think much past his fix. He's gotten some bright-looking fast-talking British kid involved in his scam, and it turns out over there they hadn't completely privatized the press and sold all the media off to their cronies. There was some public dissatisfaction. Blair was more or less busted. He might squeal soon, and if he did it would be the turning point for this cheerleading MBA.

All the dots were there to connect. Power-addicts always fall to pride; this tragedy is older than recorded history. He'd said "Fuck Saddam. We're taking him out," in front of a few senators back in March 2002, when the official story was that war wasn't even on the table. He'd pushed obviously fake documents as rock-hard evidence. Whistle blowers were starting to pop up and damage-control meetings were underway as a few journalists with some vestigial alliance with the truth (and one economist who couldn't believe what he was seeing) started ruminating out loud that the emperor had no clothes.

In a fit of hubris, they'd planned their convention right here in New York City, even moved it back closer to the fateful anniversary, forcing three states to change their primary election laws so everything would be procedurally accurate. It was looking more and more like Bush's Waterloo. The freaks would be back out in the street, millions of them from around the world like just before the bombs started dropping -- half a million on the street in New York City; freaks and old people and upper-east-side trixies -- except this time they would know it was war and instead of asking nicely to be heard they'd be calling for the boy king's head. The bigger they are the harder they fall.

I, of course, am watching all this play out with perverse delight. Bush is a crook and a power-junkie and his friends are even worse. It's time for them to go. They're all hitting the empire pipe, sucking the mother of all glass dicks. Once you taste that sweet rush you'll be chasing the dragon one way or another for the rest of your days. They aught to be carted off to some obscure B-minus think tank where they can rave about American military supremacy, world domination, space wars and the potential of the international petro-dollar, just generally detox in a cool dry place mercifully outside the public eye. Decency damn near demands it.

Everyone with brains knows we have to turn around. For a while the more level-headed conservatives were delighted because their team was winning, because their guy was walking tall and kicking ass, but now there was a little sick knot in every thinking man's stomach. This had gone too far.

The whole world was watching, and for some this only stiffened their spine. They wouldn't back down. They would support the leader to the bitter end. They would go out in a blaze of twisted glory like the last waffen SS who kept the swastika flying over the Reichstag for more than a week against the will of more than a million Soviet shock troops.

For most though they knew the folly of empire. They could see the lunacy in the tax cuts. They understood that this man was leading the country into a century of ruination, a bitter dark corporate future ruled by fear and greed and the worst aspects of human nature. They've seen what lies ahead and they know we need to change course. The worm has begun to turn.


I welcome your feedback on anything. My next work of political framing keys off of this phrase: "Invading Iraq is like sleeping with a crazy person. There's potential there, but it's not something you do when you're drunk out of your mind and you don't have any of your friends backing your play." Wow... seems my man Billmon has already felt-out that meme: invasion as sex (and it has Dr. Dean too!). Until next time...

Read More


Frame Breaking

Thinking along the lines of Metaphor and War and doing some longer-gestation writing about the coming presidential contest, I've been particularly influenced by HST and his style of coverage, and am working on something similar. Tinkering with the notion that my man Howard Dean is among other things the "empowerment candidate," the candidate that wants to make individual agency and action a central theme of his campaign and presidency -- this in contrast with Bush who takes a kind of Father Protector role, tells us to support the troops and keep shopping, but otherwise not to do anything out of the ordinary. What I've got on the Dems is still in the works, but here's an excerpt of what's cooking on Bush.

Summer 2003
It is a desperate season. The winds of war are blowing hot and hard with little relief in sight. With the economy heading into a stagnant swampy summer -- vacations and temporary jobs traditionally do little to kick the beast back to life -- by the time the school year rolls around so many state economies will be floundering that it will be very hard not to notice the difference. You'll start seeing it in bad ways, a change in the air: more cripples on the street begging for change, more insane people running loose, more mean looks and petty squabbling. The people are divided and sad and most of all frightened.

Bush the Father Protector has failed them, but like a child who represses memories of parental abuse they don't want to believe it. It's painful to admit that you put your faith in someone and that they let you down. There's a contingent that will maintain that even though Bush lied about WMD and even though Iraq is a mess and even though the economy is in the doldrums that the President is still the best man to lead the country. It's too painful to believe otherwise after having committed.

This is the basis of the hard sell: that the rubes will keep fooling themselves long enough for the salesman to slip out the door, get into his car and drive away with their money -- that he'll get away clean before they are able to come to terms with the fact that they'd been screwed.

Hopefully realization, a breaking of the Father Protector frame, will wash over the land in time to ditch this criminal administration. These people are crooks and cronys and collaborators, down to the (wo)man. Bush is going to have a rude surprise when he finds out that his military swagger can't solve the Israeli/Palestinean conflict, that waving his dick around doesn't really solve anyone's problems, and that giving his board-room buddies yet another sop of a tax cut really didn't create 1.4 million jobs.

But he's got devious people working to keep him in power and they'll use every scare tactic in the book to keep people from rolling over on daddy. This is family business and what goes on here does not leave this house.

The burning question will be whether enough of the population can come to terms with the fact that this president has failed this country in monumental fashion, whether they will rise up and dump this embarassing ass-clown, or whether the people will sink further into into fearful abused catatonia and lie dormant on election day. It's still too far out to have much of a hint, but many of us are banking on people waking up to their own situation and throwing the bums out.

More later...

Read More


Fan Mail

Part of the joy and pain of having a website with an anonymous comment form is that I sometimes get strange and unsolicited email which I know isn't spam because no spambot I know of can fill out a form and hit "submit." While I was off canoodling and digging deeper into my relationship with Sasha, I got two true gems. The first is a bit of "career advice" from anonymous:

If you aspire to write, may I suggest you devote your energies to learning how to [a] spell; [b] write a coherent paragraph; and [c] sound like you are older than 15 and have a decent IQ. Just trying to be helpful.

In all likelyhood this is just someone pissed off at my politics -- not the first or last time this has happened -- but point taken on the spelling and grammar. I play it fast and loose here, and I realize that a professional writer would hold back for editing and not publish things when drunk, high, tired, rushed or otherwise impeded from giving his/her work a thorough review. I tend to take more time with more serious pieces. For instance, I've been working on a profile of the Democratic candidate field for a few days, and I'm showing it only to friend and keeping it tight until the time is right.

Here's the other gem from the weekend, came with the subject "Insult and Ridicule":

Submissive SWF enjoys being insulted and ridiculed. Will accept all forms of abuse.

This is kind of coming out of left field, I have to say. Is there something in the subtext of my site that would suggest I'm seeking a submissive? Is this merely someone trying to embarrass someone else by sending some fakemail? Lord knows I'm not about to respond to this, but it sure is an interesting thing to have turn up in one's inbox.

Read More