"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Burning Man Tape

I've digtialized the tape I did at Burning Man this past summer. I'm gonna cut it into a few snippets. There are two main segments: interviews I did with people at recycle camp, and then some dispatches from the front on Saturday night. I'll try and cut them up and write a little context tonight, but it might have to wait. I'm taking off for a weekend in Minnesota doing all things MfA. What's cooler than being Cool? ICE COLD!

Actually, I'll be something of a ramblin' man these coming days. Next week I'll be in Seattle Wednesday through Sunday, then down to San Diego for the O'Reilly Digital Democracy Teach-In, which should be kinda fun. Posting may be intermittant for a bit. I'll take my camera.

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Silver Linings

According to CNN's exit poll, Dean beat Kerry in only a couple Demographic categories:

  • 18-29 year olds
  • The Very Liberal
  • Minority Women
  • People who use the internet often

That's my group! I think a coalition of young people, progressives, and minority women with a net-savvy edge would govern this country pretty well, and present a pretty good alternative to Bush.

But I want serious progress, so take it with a grain of salt; call it spin if you must, but that picture of John Kerry giving the thumbs up in front of a crowd of dour-faced old white men gave me the creeps. I want youth, I want women, I want color, and I want technology. And I want it now! ;)

So now we find out if Dean's really low on cash, and see what he can do with his speech tonight. It's not over yet, but we're up against the acid test. We'll see what we can do at seven places at once in a week.

And I can't fucking believe I just used a smiley-face in a blog. Time for whiskey.

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Outlandish Josh Comes Alive

Looking for something to hold on to tonight, I dug out the 10 minutes worth of audio tape I took at Burning Man this summer and finally gave it a listen. So good. So very good. I will digitalize and post it here soon.

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Sailor Days

When one hits the bottle, the bottle hits back. This is a fact, and people tend to either enjoy it or slink away. Last night I did my best Hank Williams impersonation, inhaling half a bottle of bourbon -- left overs from caucus watching -- in about two hours; fell blind asleep on Luke's couch at 11pm after getting sick twice. Chasing the blackness again. Reminds me of college, the time when I was working on my show, drinking from a flask and taking generic caffeine pills.

Today was more relaxing. I stuck around Berkeley and played video games for about 7 hours. Reminds me of high school, the time when I was innocent.

Things are moving and changing a lot it seems. I'm missing something, but I don't know what it is. I haven't spoken to my man Mark in nigh on a month. I haven't really been able to let my hair down since the end of August. I miss making art and thinking philosophically and being more lustful for life.

Sometimes I think I'm trying to cram too much in too early. Hunter S. Thompson didn't become Hunter S. Thompson until he was in his late twenties. Sometimes I think I've not gone fast enough. It's hard to gague speed these days. Velocity is a principle life theme of mine, but somewhere in my maturation over the past few months I seem to have lost touch with that. More honest physical exercise is probably needed. More riding up and down hills.

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Spin the Globe

So I've been accused of spinning, by an unnamed person, possibly a troll, in the comments to the post below this one. It's not the first time the S-word has come up, so I thought it might be good to lay out my perspective on things. I dislike spin, and so I take the accusation pretty seriously.

I promote my candidate. That's without question. I point out to other people why I believe in him, and why I think he's the best potential president, and why I think he's got the best chance to beat Bush. If you really want to see me getting in there and making my hopeful predictions, you should check me out on the Daily Kos.

But I don't like to call what I do "spinning." Spinning is playing games with reality. It's manipulation. It's distortion. It's the politicization of the truth, and I don't think that's what I do.

Is it spin to try and figure out why my candidate failed in Iowa? To work to get the person I see as best qualified elected? To point out the failings of the newsmedia? To communicate my honest perspective to other people?

If that's spin, then there's no such thing as just talking about politics. I choose not to live in a world where honest political communication is impossible. You can call what I do whatever you want, but I'm just calling the situation as I see it. I understand this is quite a foreign concept in the world of politics, but you know maybe it's honesty's turn on to make a comeback. I sure think we could use it.

I've also been labelled a pawn. I'll freely admit I'm probably among the least politically powerful people in the country, and as such the pawn is a pretty apt description of my value in this contest. However, I resent the implication that I'm being manipulated. There's no one moving me around. I'm clever enough to read Dean's campaign strategy, and on occation I try to support and promote it. Sometimes I send them my ideas. Sometimes I promote my ideas on my own. I'm happy to play the role of citizen-participant. Democracy isn't chess.

I've also been told I'm now an insider. While its true I've been to Burlington, that was four months ago. If taking voluntary action to create technology and promoting the candidate you think is most qualified to be president makes you an insider, then I suppose I'm guilty.

But the term "insider" connotes the idea that I'm on the inside of something that others can't be a part of. That's not the case. It's really cheap and easy to think for yourself, and expressing your point of view in conversation with others is an opportunity that exists for anyone who wants to take it. Anyone can do what I do, and I honestly wish more people would. This whole deliberative processess thing only works if we have a lot of participants.

It's also true that I now work in politics professionally. To be honest, I'm slightly uncomfortable with this. My desire to participate in the political process springs from my desire to improve the state of the world, and the sense that I can be a positive asset in the universe. I'm a little wary of drawing a paycheck off that kind of thing, but I took the job because it's an opportunity for me to try and do more good work than I could as a lone agent.

Dig it; I do what I do to promote Howard Dean because I believe in him. I believe he represents progress. I believe he represents more opportunity for more people in the world. I believe his campaign is the beginning of meaningful structural reform of our political process, a necessary first step towards integrating the globe and improving the lot of humanity. Because I believe all these things, I'm fairly steadfast in my support.

That's my story. Sound like spin to you?

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More Dean Speech

I don't want to beat this to death, but I think the media establishment jumped the shark, and that this kind of thing -- the spin becoming detatched completely from reality -- is dangerous. It's not just bad for my candidate, it's dangerous for the country, for all of us.

Here's some video from the crowd's perspective.

It's rally, and a high-energy one. The fact that so many establishment interests want to choke off this kind of excitement about participation in the political process confirms in my mind the importance of not allowing this to happen. Howard Dean started something, and this week it came close to being crushed because the mass media was able to sew the seeds of doubt. "Maybe this guy really is too much..."

There are two ways to look at what happened. One is that there's a strong anti-Dean bias in newsrooms around the country. I tend to think that to be a bit conspiratorial, so I look at the the other way. Matt Drudge was able to do his thing, providing an irresistable pellet of a story that caught on like wildfire among a press corps who were predisposed to playing up supposed gaffes from Dean.

The problem is, this is far more chilling than any conspiracy theory. This would suggest that the press corps is fantastically lazy -- in that they were willing to repeat a 15-second soundbyte without getting the context for themselves -- and/or willing to blow with the wind no matter what the facts are. What I don't understand is why no one from the press, and I mean no one, not even on NPR or PBS, stood up and said this was bullshit, that the conventional widsom being peddled was wholly unsupported by the facts. This kind if thing is suppsed to matter if you call yourself a journalist.

My guess is that most players in the newsmedia game are in one way or another intoxicated with the power they weild. We report, you decide. As A-stock said in the post below, perception has a way of becoming reality, and if you've come up in the world of big media, you've been the sole source for most people's ability to perceve events they don't see first hand. You've been a master of the universe.

That era is drawing to a close. No matter what the outcome of this election, the newsmedia establishment took another step towards oblivion this week. I would expect this spin from people like Drudge, Limbaugh, Rove and Dean's rivals for the nomination; but to see it repeated thoughtlessly and without a care for the reality of the situation in every single media outlet in thr country was truly chilling.

Meanwhile, you might want to read Bush's remarks to the press pool. This is not a joke. We're not scaremongering, this is really happening.

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Dean Speech News

Here are some good first hand accounts of what Dean's speech on Monday night was. The one that outplayed Bush's state of the union. I think if we can get this story out there, the free publicity might be invaluable.

UPDATE: I just saw the whole thing. You can go here to Fox News of all places and see the whole speech in video. In the third paragraph there's a link.

I'm honestly shocked at how badly the media played this. Drugde and Rove did their dirty work well. I can only conclude that most people who work in the newsmedia only heard their clip and didn't actually see the speech in its entirety. I encourage you to watch it and draw your own conclusions. Mine is that this is where the media establishment Jumps the Shark. The spin is now untethered comepletely from reality, and more than unfortunate for my candidate, this is dangerous for the nation as a whole.

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For All You Voyeurs

An actual dream I had last night.

In Iraq, the secret plan for cultural domination is to have some massive military operation to freak people out sexually. There's a big building in this town in Iraq. Solders, like me, who are willing to go the extra mile for our country are brought in to fight on the front lines. Apparently, randy Iraqis are also being recruited to help loosen up square American troopers. Someone's got a plan for a revolution.

I arrive and climb up many flights of stairs. There are screening stations, control desks (everything is taped and monitored) and couches all along one side of the building. The other side has been divided into small rooms. My control desk operator (the peson who checks me in and out, and watches what goes on in the room) is Molly's fasionist friend Caramia. I'd heard before that I would be working with her -- we have some kind of prior relationship -- and there's a little joking flirtation about what someone might mistake "working together" to mean in this context.

So the place is pretty busy. There are uptight girls coming out of the room kind of freaked out. Stereotypical schoolgirl porno dialogue. "His *thing* was all hard, and then it squirted..." And there are some tall, lanky, confidant-looking arab women; sophisticated types; walking out of rooms with an air of satisfaction, soon to be followed by nervously grinning GIs from the Bible Belt.

The dream shifts before I see any action. A marketplace in the same town. Someone asking for directions to a steakhouse. Some guy telling me about back in the '80s when there was a budding surfing industry in Iraq. The scenery looks like the Playa, feels like a very run-down version of Miami.

Would that this were true. We can all dream, can't we?

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Long Night

We streamed Al Franken tonight o'er on Music for America. Worked out pretty good. I'll be catching the 11:10pm train back home. No sleeping pad in the office and I've got my bike here so that means I can be in bed by 12:30; normal time for me.

Wondering if Hunter S Thompson was right about politics being better than sex. I've been not the most libidinous creature lately, despite fairly ample opportunity. I still get pulled into a cuddle now and again, but I'm not jazzed and hungry about things the way I remember being a year ago. Maybe it's just not my time. Maybe I want something more. Maybe I have too much external stress.

In any event, after the past few days and this evening, I'm glad I had a couple Pabsts in the fridge at the office. Back to the grindstone tomorrow and every day after. This weekend I'm hoping to get nuts and let my hair down some. Next weekend I'll be in Minneapolis and the weekend after, Seattle. Duty calls. This youth politics thing ain't gonna come together on it's own.

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As the Hitchhikers Guide Says

There's a great deal to be learned from Douglas Adams. I think one of the best is his simple slogan for the Guide:

don't panic

The Long-Faced Bandit and the Sunshine Express came through big time. Both cherry-picked the best parts of Dean's rhetoric and delivery, and they were able to present themselves as the positive alternatives to what had become a pretty bitter Dean/Gephard battle. Ho ho and old ironsides destroyed one another in Iowa. Dean still has many things to look forward to; for Gephardt, this was his swan song.

The real power of the Dean campaign is its grasroots-filled bankroll and its nationwide scope, the nearly 600k local supporters. The 3,500 dedicated that made the trip to Iowa are a testiment to what is possible with a grassroots movement, but in the end the tactical advantage they provided was negated by the strategic realities of the race. Gep and Dean's trench warfare created an enormous demand for alternatives, and Kerry and Edwards emerged with the right message at the right time.

Those of us who have been paying attention might be surprised by this, but it's pretty logical; we can understand what has happened, thank everyone for all their hard work and all the memories, and move on to the next contest. There's another primary in a week in New Hampshire, and after that seven states go at once. This is where the Dean campaign showes its true muscle.

People need to be reminded what a great candidate Dean is, what his grassroots support represents, and how the other candidates have more or less stolen from his playbook in a politics-as-usual style of "I'll say anything to get elected." Dean's message has been constant for nearly a year now. Kerry and Edwards only discovered how to critique the DC establishment and use the word "you" on the stump about two weeks ago. Will this matter? I certainly hope so. While I'm happy to see Kerry and Edwards adopting the message of the man I support, I can't really believe that their change of tune is completely sincere. While either of them are clearly preferable to George W Bush, I don't believe in them the way I believe in the good doctor.

In the end, this will be a test of the Dean campaign's ability to draw on its existing grassroots support and spread the good word. Their mass-media strategy could use work, and they need to get back to playing up positive themes. It's a race again people. I'm inclined to think that it always was. Stay tuned and get involved if you're so inclined. Come mid-march, we can get down to business.

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