"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Acid Test For Environmental Issues

It appears that with the votes of three Democrats (Landreau from oil-industry heavy Louisiana and two from Hawaii apparently because they support the rights of native people to determine how to use local resources) the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge will be opened to oil and natural gas development. Chafee, Snowe, McCain, Coleman, Smith, and Collins were Republicans who opposed.

The interesting thing about this is that the ANWR doesn't have nearly enough oil to make any substantial impact on prices or long-term sustainability of our energy policy. Everyone knows this. Everyone also knows that very very few Americans will ever visit the ANWR. This was a symbolic battle, one that has been going on a long time and it's really about the principle of conservation versus the principle of development. One of the problems in Washington DC is that a lot of the battles fought become similarly divorced from reality, politics operating in it's own ecosystem. The results of such fights don't amount to good governance no matter how they turn out.

How environmental groups react to this symbolic defeat is going to be interesting. There's a real opportunity for environmental advocacy groups to seize the mantle of pragmatism within the realm of energy policy. It will be interesting to see if they take it.

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Free Beef!

Apropops the "serious" stuff below, here's a grand tradition I'm proud to see is still in operation: free beef with your tires, at Les Schwab.

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Signs of the Times

When John Bolton's nomination to be Ambassador to the UN was announced, the Republican talking points were locked in:" he's a guy with experience who knows how to get things done." The response from the opposition were some rather disparaging quotes he made about the UN, and it all blew over becuase no one really cared all that much.

But now there's some video. It really makes you think. Watch it.

It's one thing to read a quote by a guy saying "the UN doesn't exist." It's another thing to see him shouting (realy shouting) at a bunch of other diplomats: "The United States make the UN work when it wants it to work, and that is exactly the way it should be because the only question, the only question for the United States is what's in our national interest."

It's this beligerent mix of imperialistic power -- "we make it work when we want to make it work" -- and isolationist mindset -- "the only question is what's in our interest" -- that I find so disturbing in the Bush Doctrine. It is a cocktail of some of the worst elements in the US national character. It is the dark side of "exceptionalism," the attitude that we are special, we are powerful, and therefore things should work out according to our desires. Why? Because.

This is dangerous stuff! The reality of the situation is we are not that powerful; we are not exempt from history, and we cannot exist as we currently do without the support of other nations around the world.

From an economic perspective we have lost our base of industrial productivity and now maintain ourselves through consumption and finance. Now, if we were running a tight ship (e.g. balancing our budget, investing in infrastructure, living within our means) that kind of post-industrial information economy might work. But we're not doing that. We're in a structural decline. Our currency is dependent on the generosity of Asian central banks; our consumption is financed through runinous consumer debt; and our corporations have taken the concept of financialization to the logical extreme, maximizing shareholder value by any means necesssary. All this while our educational institutions crumble, our middle class dwindles and our base of small business and enterprise is ground under by the advance of franchises, big box retail and foreign-made goods created with what really essentially amounts to slave labor.

This is not a strong economy. It is a large one, the largest on the planet, but it is fundimentally unhealthy. It is fat. It is dumb. It is greedy. And it is bleeding. This cannot last. In our lifetimes we will either lead the world by reforming our own systems, or we will drag the world down with our decadence.

From a military perspective as well, we are really not as muscular as the hawks would like you to believe. Attempting to win the peace in Iraq is straining our resources to the limit, and in the paradigm of 4th Generation Warfare simple killing power is not enough to create security. We cannot bomb our way out of our problems -- we must prevail in the moral sphere. At the moment we are failing mightily to do this. No matter how much we may pat ourselves on the back for being "liberators," the truth is no one throws roses down in the paths of American troops. They plant bombs by the side of the road. This isn't the sort of situation you can get our of through force alone; you have to be wise, and willing to let other people get what they want. One really can't imagine Bolton helping out much in this respect.

And thta's pretty much the point. Much like Paul Wolfowitz's nomination to head the World Bank, Bolton's nomination is a message from the People In Charge that they are going to continue to have it there way, and the rest of the world can either get on board or get bent. It will probably continue to work for a while, but it takes us further along a badly charted course. As some point, the shit has to start adding up. Just watch this video and think about what it means that this guy has been hand-picked to represent the United States to the rest of the world. It's a sign of the times.

If you live in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, or Wisconsin, you have a Sentator -- someone who is supposed to represent you -- on the Foreign Relations Committee. They're the people who will evaluate Bolton for his job. If you live in one of these states, pick up the phone. If you've never called your Congressperson or Senator, now's a good time to get the experience. It's really not hard, and it does matter. America needs to have this conversation.

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Of Nukes and Power

The New York Times: Bush Seeks to Ban Some Nations From All Nuclear Technology

In what amounts to a reinterpretation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Mr. Bush now argues that there is a new class of nations that simply cannot be trusted with the technology to produce nuclear material even if the treaty itself makes no such distinction.

This is pretty interesting. The diplomatic tactics at work here are shady, and the scope is too exceptionalist, but this development shows that lightbulbs are going off above some heads on Team Bush. You can't have widespread nuclear power without the widespread possibility of nuclear weapons. Reactors require all sorts of dual-use technology, and they also make great places to hide clandestine enrichment and development facilities.

The problem is that with the breakdown of the cold war balance of power, having some nations go around and tell others that certain energy technologies are off limits is a recipie for trouble. The opportunity here is for some bold peacenik to propose the real solution: a global ban on nuclear power. That's a non-starter, but if you're serious about preventing enemy nations from constructing atomic weapons and you want to make sure other states aren't building stuff on the side which can be sold, the first step to a working enforcement regime is shutting down the cooling towers.

More broadly, it strikes me again that so many of our political conflicts have roots in thermodynamics. I remember being a kid and talking with my chemist father about the possibilities of cold fusion, how there might come a time when everyone would have their own "Personal Sun." That''s a recipie for a kind of utopia, as long as people didn't, say, start using their PS to shoot lasers at one another.

In any event, there's a growing consciousness on the left and right that energy issues are really at the root of a lot of problems we'd like to fix. Maybe the Apollo Alliance will finally get some play.

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Scalia (with paranthetical insertions)

Flipping along tonight past Cspan-2 -- where a bunch of Democratic insiders are talking about the primary schedule (ugh) -- onto the flagship and theres Tony (Antonin) talking before some foundation. He's a good talker and clearly quite smart. I actually think there are some things he says which might be applicable in ways he would completely detest.

For instance, he talks about how the limited right to abortion or the right to engage on sodomy should be legislated and not left to the court. He's right, of course, in terms of ending these debates. We should take that to heart. There's pressure on Bush now to push a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. but he won't do it. However, when the time comes -- in 10 or 20 years -- we should do the opposite. Because it would work at that point, barring facism or something.

At the same time, his argumentation is full of holes and contradictions. For instance, talking on and on about how the Supreme Court has become politicized because of the notion of a "living constitution," how that's driven questions of "majority rule" and extending what the constitution means and made confirmation battles in the Senate so rancorous. Then he cites the SCOTUS decision not to consider the question of a right to die as an example of how... the constitution is being extended beyond its meaning?

And then, after ending on a note about how the living constitution is a threat to the protection against majority rule, not five minutes later he says again that when it comes to questions about homosexuality and abortion that the ballot box exists to advance these issues. Which is, essentially, majority rule. Nice.

But he sounds very believable when he says these things. They're logically inconsistant, but he's nimble on his feet and never gets flustred. So you can see why these people love him.

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Recent Photos

My own site update has fallen EVEN FURTHER by the wayside as I've been too busy and distracted. However, here are a few photos in the meantime to tide you over.

First, an update to the crash-log. The last couple of places I've slept:

Jeremy and wes's futon

Jeremy and Wes's futon, the closest thing I have to a home base since I can stay there whenever I want, they've got a set of spare keys, and it folds out big enough that I can sleep relatively comfortably on a diagonal.

Cassbed and Piggy

Here we have rising young director Laura Cass's bed and the infamous Piggy Reese. I dog-sat for Laura this weekend, which was pretty awesome. A whole apartment and a real bed all to myself. Well, all to myself and Piggy.

Finally, two subway posters I saw side by side that made me laugh. Sometimes you can't beat the randomness of real life for irony value:


War of the worlds

That's an add for Hardball and an upcoming NBC short-run series called Revelations, which is in latin and translates as "The End of All Things Is Near."

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Earth To Democrats II

Someone might think that the democratic establishment would have watched Gladiator. Juaquin Phoenix: "I will give them a vision of the greatness of Rome and they will forget all about the sermonizing of a few dry old men."

That's a rather simple political strategy, but it pretty much sums up every winning presidential campaign in my lifetime. Got it? Good. Now keep it.

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Abusing Power 101

Strange phone calls as Bush's Social Insecurity Road Show Continues:

"The man who called was very polite and nice," says John Gasquet, owner of Empire coffee at 2 S. Main in Downtown Memphis. "He said he was special agent Something-or-other. He said that due to the fact that in some states the President had been to, there were issues of security regarding area businesses, he was calling businesses to tell them not to put up any negative signs in their windows that were negative toward President Bush. He said there were designated areas of protest and this would cut down on the possibility of problems."

This is pretty fucked. There's no telling who was making these calls, but this aught to be investigated. If if was really a fed, it's a big constitutional no no, and someone should at the very least take a fall. If it was someome (maybe an over-enthusiastic GOP Team Leader) impersonating a fed, then that's a crime and they aught to be prosecuted.

Apparently it's not just this one guy, but a number of other business owners in more than one state. I hope this is followed up on, because this is really honestly how the ugly phases of facism get started -- as opposed to the merely ominous phases of propaganda, doublespeak and groupthink -- so it would be nice if we could nip it in the bud.

As for me I'm enjoying a nice litle Sunday. I got some really tasty food to cook and I'm watching a movie and later on I'm going to try and write something legitimately artistic. Huzzah.

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Old Neighbrorhood

I'm dog-sitting a feisty little pup in the villiage. My own room with a view for a couple of days, but I'm all on my lonesome for a saturday night. Last night was a twister, a rendezvous with a girl who spars on my mental level and comes from the theater and who's pretty good lookin' to boot... but it didn't work out. My doing. I previously set the expectation that there would be bedroom fun too, but then I backed out.

Thing is, I knew I was backing out before I went in, but I wanted to see this person again and I'm not the type who can abide taking someone's phone number and not calling. Seems an affront to common decency. Still, it wasn't the right thing to do; but it wasn't the wrong thing either. Nothing amiss in asking someone to hang out and have a couple whiskeys and talk about life and at and what it all means. Seems an allright thing to do.

However, apropops my previous post, I don't think it's good for me to sleep with anyone at the moment, especially if I know I like talking to them too. It just adds layers to the confusion. So I never planned on going beyond talk.

Hopefully I'll sort out who I am and why I'm here soon, because going out and sparring and learning and feeling a tingle all down your spine is just a terrible prelude to going home alone and watching Big Trouble In Little China, fabulous piece of cinema thought it may be.

Having a great apartment to myself alone on a Saturday night seems like quite a waste indeed. Still, I'll enjoy having room for myself; eating ice cream in my underwear and not worrying about imposing on anyone else's morning ritual. Frank came over earlier in the afternoon and we killed my "cheap date" magnum of merlot. It had a screw top, cheap date that it was. It was nice. We talked about all things. We surveyd the world from the roof. We got Mamoun's falaffel and walked the dog, an adventure in and of itself. Later I ventured out for Grey's Papaya and to survey the action on these streets I used to frequent. They've changed and so have I, but the density and concentration remains. It's not quite my scene here on McDougal, but I can't deny that it's jumpin'.

Common threads, really. Romance, fitting in, places I've slept. I feel a bit like a broken record. Oh well. Now where's that ice cream...

Later on:
I closed it out watching Almost Famous with a pint of Chunky Monkey. It's a great movie for anyone interested in rock'n'roll and writing and love and truth and the way things aught to be. It makes me wonder about certain big philosophical things -- like anything good aught to -- and it makes me a little whistful and nostalgic for more innocent times, back when I was a more pure and shining being. Specifically, and in keeping with my theme of late, that has to do with romance.

It's an old saw, but I've gotten a little sad and jaded about the whole thing. It's always a possiblity (anything's possible), but my mind just isn't in that realm when it comes to my own personal transpirings. I can vividly remember a different era; hiding a rose under my jacket in the cold of Northampten, a quilted blanket and candlelight. Or maybe Bill Withers in the morning, or mangos on a roof, or hot tea and rain on a skylight. These are all things I can still feel powerfully if I recall them, but seem pretty fucking far off from where I roll in reality these days. More importantly, I don't have a grip on the ideals. I have no philosophy of love; no book; no inspiration. This is crippling.

There are other things I think are germane which are sparked by the movie -- things about information and access and trust and transparency -- but they don't much fit in with this bit of writing, so they'll wait for another day. I did get really nostalgic with all the post-hippy stuff. "Everything's happening" and all that jazz; the way the world can be enchanted. I miss that. I miss the everyday romance. Not necessarilt the stuff related to the sexes, but the way in which normal life, or heightened party life, can be a thing full of truth and beauty and challenge and wonder. It's never just about kissing or sleeping with someone. It's about the promise.

Now I'm getting incoherant. Time for water and then time for sleep. Tomorrow another thing happpens.

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Myspace music

brazilian girls

I liked the visual pun there: Dont Stop. Stopped. Anyway it's allright music if your taste ranges into the loungy end of electronic. I like it, and I like the band name. I also like what myspace music is doing quite a lot. It seems very empowering to artists.

That's it for me. I'm off into the night and the city.

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