"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Debate and Communication

How did we get such a pack of poor talkers? I'm watching the Democratic candidates' forum right now, and it's really annoying how poor the oratory skills of our potential leaders are. I also find it wrankling when the moderator asks a question and the candidate, rather than answering the question -- or even attempting to -- launches into a tangent of semi-related political mumbojumbo. It would be so much easier to watch if they would devote at least 15 seconds to answering the question, and then launching into whatever sound-bytes they think will hit. I don't like it when people don't follow basic communications protocols.

Watching the people speak, Dean looks strong. He's the voice of reason, and the one who's proposing real solutions. For instance, on the worker question, he talks about how unions and the people who want to be unionized, need to organize and grow stronger, and that this is the way to protect workers, by allowing them to protect themselves. He also suggests bolseting social security by extending payroll taxes to cover income above $80,000, which it currently does now. Kucinich rants, lashing out at the others, looking mean, hunted. Kerry launches into a class-war tirade -- and a good one; good applause -- but none of them propose anything real.

Sharpton is a rare gem. He's unlikely to contend, but the man can speak. He makes everyone else look bad, and we need more people with his skills on our side.

Lieberman is such a weenie, it's ridiculous. He won't re-appoint Ashcroft; shocking. His quote on vouchers, "This is an experiment. Try it for a few years. Keep it to the poor children. Don't take any money out of the public school budget. See what we learn." Right Joe, experiment on a class of poor students. That's a talking point you want to promote.

Edwards is Clintonesque, mustering comforting personal tones, family connections, a smooth demeanor and delightful drawl. You can see why people still go gaga for him, in spite of being nowhere in the polls. Doesn't seem like the year to seduce the voters, but any idiot can see he's got a bright future.

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First of all, this massive flash animation is cool. A bit heavy handed -- man does Dennis sound nutty from time to time; not what he says so much as how he says it -- but very cool nonetheless. And now on to matters of more substance.

There's been a lot of punditry in the past week that my man Howard Dean is peaking as a candidate. With three magazine covers and an efficient high-throughput/small packet fundraising engine, I look at it as "Dean cracking into the mainstream" rather than "Dean peaking." Let's think about it for a second.

It's still real early in the primary cycle. At this point in the 1992 process, Bill Clinton was still a hilbilly lawyer that no one thought stood a chance at anything. This time around the stakes are considerably higher, so it's natural to see things being stepped up. Still, Dean has a lot of room to grow in terms of national name recognition, and in any place where his brand equity is comperable to the other candidates he's in the top tier. He's officially arrived in the lead pack, true, but that's no reason to believe his forward momentum is slowing.

A significant portion of politically-inclined Americans remain interested but steadfastly undecided on their primary candidate of choice. For many Democrats -- those who's involvment generally comes to pulling a lever, if that -- Summer 2003 is far too soon to even begin seriously thinking about making a choice. While you can make a case that most party activists have picked a side, that doesn't mean anyone has peaked.

The exciting thing about Dean is that he's getting a lot of people more involved than they've ever been before. A quarter million signed up to get campaign email, 75,000 attending meetups nation world-wide. Dean talks about getting three or four million new participants in this process, and his campaign is serious about it. That doesn't just mean more voters -- though that's obviously the proof in the pudding. It means more people campaigning, more people having a stake in the process, more people awake and breathing. The internet provides a platform to organize this kind of distributed/decentralized campaigning, and while people would have scoffed at the notion six months ago, the theory is being put into practice with brilliant results.

And here's the kicker: the Dean campaign is just warming up. I know this because I have my hand in a number of pies which aren't quite ready to come out of the oven. Everything you've seen up until now is the work of a simple strategy, a good candidate, a powerful message, and a campaign that knows how to get out of the way. The real magic has yet to begin. There's a massive reservor of grassroots energy steadily growing larger, waiting to be unleashed. The humble beginnings you're starting to see now -- hand-written letters to Iowa and New Hampshire for instance -- are just a taste of what's to come. As meetup gatherings transition in pupose from solidarity to recruiting to action, prepare for a wave of people-powered Dean projects, open to anyone's participation. They'll range from from good-old door knocking to concerts to presence in parades, and they'll be organized without any direct coordination from campaign HQ. They will launch careers and change lives. They will reclaim the dignity of America.

We've got a beautiful scale-free organic network cooking here, and there's no sign that it's slowing down. Every new person who signs on adds exponential power to the system. The only reason people say it's peaking is that they've never seen anything like it. People have been declaring Dean as "peaking" for about two months now. They can't concieve that this new kind of organization, this new kind of spirit, has a chance of supplanting the old hypnosis of the boob tube which has been the hallmark of US Politics for the past 40 years. But it will.

Dean's campaign is offering something truly new: a place at the table for anyone who wants it. Rather than populist rabble-rousing or handing out didactic talking points or attempting to take on the role of strong father/protector, Dean appeals to the angels of our better nature to take a stand in our own lives, a stand for our country, for our future, to get involved as leaders on our own level. Dean's campaign represents an restoration of the American civic spirit; the sort of thing Nader talked about but could never deliver. It is about participation, bi-directional communication and in-person politics, about being a part of what's happening as it happens, because this is the only way it has a chance of happening. It's up to us.

Tune in, turn on, but don't drop out. We're turning this mofo around.

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Art and Politix

Some random response to my "art is church" bit o'er there on yr left with their own. I don't know if I understand this, but it sure seems like art: Mutant Eggplant. Heavy on the cactus. See if it makes meaning to you.

On the other end of things, my man Briit Blaser's got some fscking right-on things to say about terrorism, opportunism and the clowns currently in charge of the works.

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Input Compression/Output Translation

Things are coming back together. Life is re-taking shape. As someone noted recently, I'm brused just about now, but I'm coming round. In dark times a ray of hope is a welcome thing. Still existing through that rough compression phase of the rebound, the part they show in slow motion on 3-2-1 contact, where you see the rubber ball actually squeeze into itself before bouncing back.

Yesterday I rode up Cyclotron road to the Berkeley National Research Lab, affording an even better view than yesterday's excursion, where I stopped at the Pacific College of religion campus and was astonished by the beauty of the bay. Nothing like riding up a big hill to make you conscious of entropy. Clikity-clackity clickity-clack energy drain; it's another one of those metaphors.

I'm learning again how to take care of myself. Listening to morphine and getting into better physical shape. It's quite something what an hour of bike riding a day and a few push ups will do for you. I'm eating good food and feeling pretty stress free in spite of it all. Hope and prospects are just around the corner, or so the self-pep-talk goes.

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New Feature Content

Ever since people started forwarding me Bob Harris's deft Kucinich vs. Dean tale of the tape, I've wanted to make my own to serve my candidate. Done and done as of this morning. It just hit me and I banged it out. You can catch it here: Why I Support Howard Dean Over Dennis Kucinich.

I also did some flame-warring over on this dkos thread. A little Sunday indulgance.

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Hot Rod

I got a bike! $35 flea market special: a hugely tall schwinn. I feel that this will impact the rest of my summer, possibly in a big way. Mobility == freedom.

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Paths of Victory

I've been trying to listen to good music lately, keep the old spirits up. Sometimes that means Def Leppard for kicks. Sometimes that means a little U2 for nostalgia. Sometimes that means the Black Sheep or the Chemical Brothers or Jane's Addiction for drive. I still love good old Bob Dylan though; for the wisdom.

The evenin' dusk was rolling
I was walking down the track,
there was a one-way with a blowin'
it was blowin' at my back.
Trails of trouble
Road of battle
Paths of victory we will walk

That's a good one for the dark times. Almost as good as my all-time favorite, the "story of a ghost that come back from out in the sea, come to take his bride away from the house carpenter." But that one's a little meloncholy for now. Bob, you whistful motherfucker. Wish I was ocean size.

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Rebound Dreams

$1 beers always sound like a good idea. In praxis, the outcome can be debated. The morning after tells its own tales. A drizzle of a hangover blog today.

We spent the evening at the Acme, a faux-biker bar in Berkeley. There are bikers there, leather and all, but they wear full-face helmets and all appear to be well-off and in their mid 20s/30s, so I call them faux. But it's an allright scene -- friendly, good juke box. Luke and I had one of our famous booze-fueled arguments; debating the relative value of selling out vis-a-vis Ozzy Ozbourne and college and pro atheletes. He gave me a little better understanding of the sociological term "fields" as a middle ground between structure and agency. We had a good bumbling time riding home, me on Kim's girly bike, basket and all.

Praxis... this was supposed to be the summer of it. I haven't touched that document in months. Sad. Perhaps a resurrection is in order.

I'm trying to get on the rebound, the upswing, the return flight from shitsville. I remember after my bike crash this winter how afraid I was, the intense fear of running into things, a new fear, heretofore unknown. My tooth was loose and sore, and it would physically throb when I got a scare, a truck cutting me off or whatever. It took a while to get past that, to get back into the locomotive biker groove.

Continuing with my bike crash/relationship running analogy, I observe similar processes underway emotionally. Even when the immediate helaing process is complete, damage control, scabs formed and all, the psychology of beaten-dog persists. I'm hamfisted lonesome, clumsy and afraid of being touched. No one likes to cuddle the broken-hearted. Or at least this is my perspective on the world, flawed as it is known to be.

So I muddle. It's one of those times in life where you start to hear music differently, you start really listening to sappy love songs. I remember this happening about four or five months after I broke up with Amanda, my first love. I was a lot younger then, more reckless and obscure to myself. I didn't really know what I was doing, visions of sugar-plum faries dancing in my head. What happened was that she moved on quicker than I did, and in a much more real and mature fashion -- she's got a steady girlfriend now, fabulous woman, and they're moving to China together, no fucking joke -- and it knocked my 20-year-old ass for a loop. I recall sitting down for a friendly coffee and talking about our respective lives, the realization coming like a blow to the head, dizzy, seeing stars. Helter skelter. Not that I let on, but that kicked off a period of confusion and vulnerability that lasted about a year. I really didn't move out of it until after college.

However, as long as we're looking at history to be a teacher, it's worth remembering that I did some great creative things in the mean time. Even if I can't be girl-crazy I can be another kind of dynamo. It might even be fun, or at the very least productive. Yes, I know there's light at the end of this tunnel. It's probably a lonely light, cold and cyan-tinted, but it's bright and true and it will bathe me in what I need.

But you know me. I'm nothing if not impatient. I want the world and I want it now. I want to keep drinking coffee all day and night, never sleep, bleeding from my eyes and full of spirit. I want to run, duck, ride and fly. I want to slip free the bonds and space and time and financial circumstances, exist as a being of pure energy, moving at the speed of light, singing hearty songs of anger and redemption, an electric viking sailing off to sea. I want to be there.

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