"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Can't Wait 'Till It's Over: Moment of Freedom Edition

As I was walking back from the grocery store tonight at about 10pm (just got home from work) with the makings of quesidillas and a quart of high life in my pack, I had the exhillerating little thrill: in two weeks it will be over, and my life will be my own again.

Yeah, I'll probably keep my job and I don't think you ever go back after getting this deep into the whole scene, but a little over a year ago I made a promise to the night -- the kind of promise another Josh in another time would probably have said he made to god or something -- that I would do whatever I could to try and turn this country around, to pull it off the rocks, away from the ledge and what have you...

Once I had a girl on rockey top
Half bear the other half cat
Wild as a mynx but sweeter than soda pop
I still dream about that

Rocky top, you'll always be
Home sweet home to me
Good ol' Rocky top
Rocky top Tennessee

Freedom, baby. It's coming soon. The Reading Rainbow song running strong through my blood: I... can do... anything...

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The Reality-Based Community

Just want to point out with the emerging reality-based consensus against the Bush administration that my man Britt was blogging about the need for a politically-minded "reality based community" way back when.

That was always a central appeal of the Dean campaign and the core of why I thought (and still maintain) that he was imminantly "electable," and in many ways moreso than John Kerry. If Dean were the nominee, this "realistic empericism vs. blind faith" division would have been front and center for the past several months, rather than being a late (and possibly insigificant) spin in the media cycle.

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drupal 4.5 -- outlandish evolutions

They call it community plumbing; and you can all me a plumber. This software rules: it's got literally millions of dollars worth of engineering in it, and it's all been done by volunteers. Oh yeah, and it's the basis for the hottest little project in the poli-web.

I'm going to move this website to drupal after this damned election is over; a step upward and outward in projecting myself into the ether.

The really cool thing is that it will let you readers and friends make more of everything. I know so many people who are gifted writers and thinkers who should be recording and sharing more of their genius with the world. I've been thinking of moving to a different domain, because what I want to build is a community site and building a community site around what is essentially an egocentric "brand" is a little bit suspect. Likely I'll stick with OJ.com for a while and then transition the whole thing to something -- a resurrection of Axiomlab.org, perhaps? -- which is more supportive of communal effort. Then I can make outlandishjosh.com into pure personal journal, agenda, and aggregator of my other writings which are feed-able.

Any thoughts from those of you following along at home?

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WFMU-FM 91.1/Jersey City, NJ; 90.1/Hudson Valley, NY

Look Out Your Window! What Time Is It? Awesome Time!!

Found via iTunes radio. It's good. I just listened to a guy play great old rock music, then talk about the great old rock music in language worth of Nick Hornseby, then get upset in a delightfully hipster-esque way about Ohio State loosing to Iowa. It's great. Now they're back to music.

Yeah; it is great. I've got to listen to good radio more often!

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Wouldn't it be great if we could coax Neal Pollack out of retirement and do an interview with him or get him to write us an editorial or something? I miss that guy's sense of humor.

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Bush 'goes against values I treasure'

Wow. Check this newspaper editorial from Kentuckey:

For nearly 50 years, I considered myself a Republican. I usually voted for Republicans, and I voted for George W. Bush in 2000. I have deep family roots in the Republican Party. My father, Thruston Morton, served as a Republican U. S. senator from Kentucky and also served as national chairman of the Republican Party. My uncle, Rogers Morton, also served as national chairman of the Republican Party, served as a Republican in the U. S. House of Representatives, and served in the cabinet under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

I cannot in good conscience vote for President Bush in this election. What he has done since his election in 2000 goes against the values I treasure both in terms of leadership and in our nation. He has not done what he said he would do. He has lost my trust and my respect.

He is not a strong leader. He is a creature of the neoconservative ideologues who surround him. He chose to go to war in Iraq under false pretenses, turning responsibility over to the military with no plan to win the peace. He refuses to admit mistakes, let alone learn from them. His campaign is based on fear.

The name Ballard Morton carries weight in KY politics, so this isn't just some random weird ranting.

There are a lot of things I respect about the Republican party, man. And it's really a good thing to see some of them taking the risk of turning against Bush. Depending on how all this goes, people have to know that their future careers may be hurt by being associated with support of this administration. It's getting harder and harder for me to see how people can wholeheartedly support the guy, to be a partisan without reservation, to believe in George W. Bush the way I had believed in Howard Dean.

Those people are out there, though. Oh Yeah:

And for those who don't get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me. ''You think he's an idiot, don't you?'' I said, no, I didn't. ''No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!'' In this instance, the final ''you,'' of course, meant the entire reality-based community.

Just so you know, reality is on the ballot in a couple weeks.

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Power Corrupts: The "Holy Fucking Shit This Is Our President?" Edition

The New York Times Magazine: Without a Doubt

I'll write more on this, but this NYT magazine article is required reading for anyone seeking to understand how we got here and why the Bush administration must be removed from power.

Read it. It's usually something of a comfort to inhabit the world of mainstream politics, where there are all kinds of stories and "reasonable explanations" for things. There are ways to rationalize horrible news of death and destruction -- a few marines here, a score of Iraqis there -- and other ways to gloss over sometimes more horrific statistics -- several million people living in proverty. There are ways to believe that all this business with our country lately is just little rough water, that nothing is seriously amiss or going wrong.

But as my mother quipped in a comment somewhere below: "I was tear-gassed by Nixon. Bush makes him look like a saint." Read the article.

This isn't "Bush Hatred" (which by the way is a made-up idea created by the spinmeisters in the west wing to supress reasonable dissent), it is the truth; and there's a fear that comes with that truth that all of this -- the faith-based president, the debased state of journalism, the world of 24-hour talking heads jacked up on the sickeningly stimulating death-juice of 9/11 -- it all might just be more that our country can handle. I do believe we run the risk of coming apart at the seams. I do, really, but I don't like to think about it because it's very frightening.

The article is very frightening. Here are some things we can do:

Voter X
MfA Get Out The Vote
ACT (massive grown-up GOTV)
Where's my polling place?

Please vote; and please tell everyone you know that you're doing it. Send an email to all your friends and let them know how you feel. Call everyone you know on November 2nd. Call them next week and tell them to vote early.

The most important motivator for new and unlikely voters is being asked to vote by a friend or peer. Do it. Lobby your friends and your family. There are no good reasons not to vote, and a million and one really important things on the line in this election.

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GOP Stragegy


And finally, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that BC04 is simply freaking out at Kerry's exposure, deliberate or inadvertant, of a vulnerability in their base-first strategy, which depends heavily on piggy-backing battleground state referenda on gay marriage.

This makes sense, and I find it interesting. It was clearly in effect in Michigan when I was there, but it's a spectacularly short-sighted strategy for the GOP. Younger conservatives (they're out there) aren't fired up about banning gay marriage. Most of them, in fact, are fine with it -- or with civil unions or some equivalent solution -- and don't want to be strongly associated with outright homophobia.

By tying their base-mobilization strategy to bigotry and religious fundimentalism, Rove's GOP is narrowing their base and turning off younger party activists.

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Freeway Free Speech Day Pictures Page 1

Awesome: culture-jamming is getting smarter and more mainstream. That's a good thing.

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Going Upriver

Went to see Going Upriver last night w/Nick. It's a great way to get psyched to vote for Kerry if you need or want that. We saw it in a shoddy art-house in the Richmond with like three other people in the audience, so I'm not sure that it's really getting out there. It might be big on DVD if Kerry wins: a kind of "get to know they guy before he becomes president" rental.

But the film. Kerry has an inspiring and humbling story, to be honest, but it's also one full of irony and a grim kind of forboding given what's going on today. The paralells between Iraq and Vietnam -- geopolitical, tactical, attitudinal -- are enormously disturbing. Nick and I have a mutual friend (possibly Nick's best friend) who is about to head back for his seventh stint in the middle east, so the feeling is personal.

Let me say this real quick: any hippy bullshitter who thinks Kerry's going to "escalate" in Iraq, or who thinks President Kerry would have done the same thing going to war had he been in charge the past four years is telling themselves an amazingly false story, probably in order to justify the dissident stance they've come to enjoy. Go see this movie, and then let's talk about it.

That being said, you can see the seeds of Kerry's douchbaggery quite clearly.

It's something of a mystery how he rose to the head of the VVAW, and my impression is that there wasn't a really strong leadership structure or organization there; it was a chaordic system and he just sort of emerged.

Part of this emergence was that he was clearly the only or at least most viable connector between the ultra-square Sentaors and the fairly radical vets who were protesting the war that had fucked them, that they felt was continuing to fuck the country. This was a tenuous position to be in. The heart of the film covers the VVAW's week of protesting in DC: camping on the Washington mall, going to Arlington Natl. Cemetary, meeting with people in Congress, etc, the peak of which (in terms of natl. impact) was Kerry's speech to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The documentary doesn't dwell on it, but it's clear there was tension between the two contradictory worlds Kerry was walking in. The difference between the now-grey-haired former-radicals who talked about the time, and the tone of the journalists (squares) who were there is revealing. The fact that most of the vets were bivouacking on the mall while Kerry attended at least one high-powered DC cocktail party, that he worked hard to keep the protests peaceful, that he was cast as "the responsible radical," and that this generated some resentment with some other vets leaves little doubt that a difficult balancing act was taking place.

Beginning with the Winter Solder gathering -- which was a very very very powerful point in the film, as I can only imagine it was in real life, and which is still decried as a fraud by the right -- you can watch Kerry's radicalization, and you can watch him thinking how to connect the raw, true, revolutionary energy of his fellow veterans to the rest of America. His work was largely in tempering, shaping and focusing so the veterans could spark real change and self-reflection on Main Street USA rather than just be another radical spectacle. There's a little moment of the early, shadow-eyed radical Kerry where he's literally talking about "connecting these points of energy to change America."

I liked that; found it pretty interesting and relatable to my own life, though my own circumstances are much less dramatic and heightened.

But the irony! The irony! Nixon was worried about the "young demogogue." Kerry's speech to the Senators got something like 4 or 5 minutes of uninterrupted play on the nightly news. Huge impact. Senators talking of cutting off funds for the war, etc. Nixon is quoted as saying, "we've got to stop this Kerry before he becomes another Nader."

Just think about that for a minute. Oh yeah.

So they dug up John O'Neil to be the counter-Kerry in the proto-spin world of proxy press wars. This Talk-Show debate was in the film a little bit. It's also highly ironic that the same John O'Neil is the author of a recently published book attacking Kerry's biography, and a founder, organizer and spokesman for the Swift Boat Vets 527. This fight goes a long way back, it turns out.

Anyway, it's a decent film, if a bit uncritical. For instance, it didn't address some of the inconsistancies in the timeperiod addressed. E.g. the medal-throwing thing.

My sense is that this is a movie made by someone who believes in the Kerry of 1971, who wanted to help America remember that time, and that's why I like it. I want to believe in the Kerry of 1971 too. I find it preposterous that all the things he did then were a matter of political careerism. If you want to get into public office, you don't do it by leading protests and getting arrested -- yes, Kerry was arrested for protesting the war at least once -- and in fact he lost his first bid for public office, running for Congress in 1972. (source: wikipedia).

But it's all there to see, all the tensions of what getting seriously into politics means. All the compromises. 20 years in the political machine have rendered a man who was always a little square but once took enormous personal risks against the conventional wisdom to advance a cause into the candidate we now see. I want to believe that the idealist is still in there, but I don't expect Kerry to give me any proof of this until he's elected. See, I'm pretty convinced that Kerry's pretty fucking serious about winning, that explains why he doesn't run on this part of his biography: polls and focus groups have told him its a loosing "message."

Now, I find this mode of politcking highly dissatisfying. Not just because it produces a bland candidate who sounds like a broken record, but because it completely discounts the ability of a campaign to be a catalyst for change, to actually alter public opinion, to generate consensus, enlightenment, awakening.

This is at the heart of what I so hate about the current political system (and why I so loved what John Stewart did the other day on Crossfire): electoral politics has ceased to be any kind of national conversation in which people's beliefs are seen as open to change, or in which problems are actually investigated, discussed and solutions developed. Instead it's one mushy focus group target vs. another. I do believe that Blogging as a communicative form has the potential to change this, but only if bloggers (and their readers) are able to put more distance between what they discuss and the world of the big media spinwars.

I do believe we've reached a tipping point though. The 2008 presidential election is going to be very very different from the one in a couple weeks. I'm not certain that it will be better, but there will be change.

Anyway, enough ramblin' for now.

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