"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Lates Blog/Media Pissing Contest

An NPR editor shot her mouth off on the air about citizen speech online, pretty stupidly. Steve Gillard has the most two-fisted response, especially considering he takes the additional step of rebuffing her racially-loaded charge that blogs are "white-guy backslapping networks." Aramando at Kos has a series of examples of where The All Important Editors dropped the ball.

On the other hand, everone knows I really would benefit from a copy desk, and there's a difference between readers who can comment and editors. Reader/commenters are below the writer in terms of power; editors are above. That matters.

I really can't wait until the Corporate media, the Independent for-profit media and the Amateur media realize that no one has a lock on the Truth, and everyone has a important role to play in creating Public Intelligence in the 21st Century. I'm not holding my breath, though.

We're in the early stages, and a lot of people who are very comfortable with the way things were are going to kick and scream against change for years. Likewise many who are bitter at having been long shut out of the public debate are going to revel in every bloody takedown.

My own position is ticklish. I'm with the invaders, no use denying that. At the same time, I disagree with some of the things they're doing. Mainly, I'm finding that I don't really care about institutional legitimacy. Too many compromises, not enough payoff. My philosophy is much more along the lines of HST's experiment with Freak Power. Go balls-out at the swine and see how many people jump on board.

That's the story of the early Howard Dean, by the way.

To break it down, I believe that the A-list bloggers and the Media pundits are fighting over turf that is decreasing in value, and will continue to do so. It's still the most important single piece of turf out there, but my own calculus says it's not worth investment. I think it will work out better for some of us new-schoolers to build our own power bases, to construct our own consensus engines, to grow the market for Public participation, activie citizenship, politics and democracy.

Hence The Book. Because lord knows there's a lot of room to expand this bitch.

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Neil Drumm Is Fucking Famous

Drummy tells it like it is in a video interview. Rock on Drummy.

As a tangent: there's building hype around the concept of "Web 2.0." This is mostly a phenomena of marketing, in spite of all the efforts to put engineers and geeks front and center. That effort itself is a sales tactic: geeks have more credibility than execs and VCs, and execs and VCs aren't stupid. They know when to get out of the way. Anyway, it's not like all this will really matter in a few years. Implicit in the notion of anything 2.0 is that 3.0 should be along real soon now.

Which isn't to say that a new consciousness about users and interactivity online isn't breaking over many commercial enterprises. That's real. But I don't think it's going to make anyone rich in the long run because really it's raising the common denominator. Stuff that people call "Web 2.0" will soon be assumed, like air conditioning in the South. It enables a whole slew of other things to happen, yeah, but in and of itself it's not a huge profit center.

And in a way, I think that's good. Infrastructure is about Value, not Profit.

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Oh So Lo Me Oh

Things are rumbling. Lots of work. I've been hanging out at Aaron's to work, which has better internet and company than the coffeeshop.

This weekend I get a bed! Winter is coming on, and I need a better place to sleep. May also try to clear out that old storage locker while I've got the cargo van rented. We'll see. Could have a stereo too...

Yeah. Not much to report. Had a nice little second date the other night. Book proposal is being drafted. Nothing finalized, but all is in motion.

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Final Days...

So rumors about Bush are (booze) starting to make the tabloids, and then there's this from the Washington Times and Matt Drudge, founding newspapers and websites of the Republican Noise Machine.

Essentially they all say that the Prez is isolated, bitter, sulking, not really talking to anyone other than his wife, his mom, Condi and Karen Hughs. And he's estranged from his Father.

Who knows if its true, but given that I talked before about the possibility of impeachment, I think it's worth mentioning that if things don't get better (or if they continue to get worse), there's the slightly more likely possbility that he'll quit. Bush has 38 months of being president left. That's a long term to serve under the circumstances.

The obvious parallels are to Nixon and his "final days" of drunken solitude, but it makes even more sense for Bush to throw in the towel. As far as I can tell, he doesn't have the kind of Will to Power that you usually see in a president; sure he wanted it, but he was always at the head of a rather large political machine which supplied him with a lot of Chi. The parts of that machine not headed for jail or early retirement are currently being disassembled and redistributed among GOP stalwarts. Bush is largely on his own, facing the growing wrath of a nation he hoodwinked -- probably an uncomfortable position for him.

It's also not outside Bush's history to quit when the going gets tough. He's done it before, and if there's any truth to the rumors that he's back on the Sauce we can only hope he does it again. I don't really fear that Bush will do something totally out of control, because in real terms the President is not a powerful figure in our republican democracy unless the other elements around make him so. I think if Bush tried anything really outlandish he'd find himself checked and balanced. I also don't think it's in Bush's character to take the initiative like that, so I'm not worried about him starting another war or anything crazy.

But still, it would be nice not to have a lonely boozer in the Oval Office.

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Thee Wed

David and Jessica's wedding was really nice, and instead of doing anything else I went home and talked with my Mom until 1:30 in the morning. Wedding-talk, you know. The kind of conversation that comes with a little boozy lubrication and the looming shadow of a socially-significant event.

"Do you think you'll get married?"

I do. I like the idea. I like being in love. I like children and want to have some when my life is stable enough to responsibly do that. I've also not had a relationship that's lasted more than a few months, and plenty that lasted only a few days, so it's no wonder why people wonder.

Anyway, I've been thinking about these things for a while, and I intend to write about 'em; but I sort of think that means rewriting a lot of my static content, so I keep rolling that into the idea of overhauling this old website and so it gets put off.

And now I have a plane to catch. So there.

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Impeachement Redux

Posted a little while ago about the possibility of impeachment. There's a good post from a couple days ago by Markos explaining the political logic behind not wanting to go that route.

I pretty much agree. Vengence is petty; better to be forward-looking. However, I think it's important to point out that the very real potential for impeachment can work for us. It spices things up. I think the term "impeachable offense" might have some currency. It juices the atmosphere, heightens the circumstances, creates drama. Those are all things that will need to happen if the Democrats are to build a narrative that can re-align American politics.

That's really what I'd like to see: a new political consensus that repudates the "conservative" movement and its propagandists, breaks up the existing Republican coalition of (Big Business, Big Jesus and the War Freaks) puts non-machine Democrats in positions of power, and lets honest people take charge of the GOP for God's sake. Having an unpopular President Bush to "kick around" for three more years will help this effort greatly.

Once we can force Rove out of Washington, Bush really becomes a tool for us. His visage will be a brutal implement with which to whip the fatbacks, greedheads, pentagon cabalists and creepy preachers into submission. These people somehow got the idea that they're entitled to run this country into the ground just so they can get One More Fix, so that they can get off and be "proven fucking right" before retiring to their gated paradises of choice. Fuck that. They need to be shown the revolving door on a one-way basis. Many careers must end, not just the President's.

Let's not turn Bush into a scapegoat. He's part of the disease, but cutting him out isn't the cure.

And yeah. President Cheney? I'll pass.

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Salesmanship vs. Misleading

The meme du Jour from Bush-backers and continued supporters of our occupation of Iraq is that Democrats are engaging in historical revisionism by asserting they were "misled" into supporting the invasion. This is termed unpatriotic, by the leading light of the online Right. I call bullshit.

But first the quote:

And yes, he should question their patriotism. Because they're acting unpatriotically.
Patriotic people could -- and did -- oppose the war. But so did a lot of scoundrels. And some who supported the war were not patriotic, if they did it out of opportunism or political calculation rather than honest belief. Those who are now trying to recast their prior positions through dishonest rewriting of history are not patriotic now, nor were they when they supported the war, if they did so then out of opportunism --which today's revisionist history suggests.

My first impression is there's a bit difference between "not patriotic" and "unpatriotic," and the rhetoric is all over the map. After all, patriotism isn't a binary litmus that can be applied to every action and thought. But anyway, Glenn Reynolds sort of has a point here in so much as its hard to believe that Senators Kerry, Clinton, Edwards et al were really just wide-eyed does who let their trust in our Dear Leader carry their hearts away in supporting his war.

But really, that's neither here nor there. The point is that it's now almost impossible for folks to ignore the evidence that the White House was explicitly and intentionally dishonest in making its case for war. The operative question is whether or not that bothers you.

It bothers me. How about you?

Even if I believe many Democrats' decision to support Bush in 2002 was influenced by political expediency (and I do), that doesn't mean they weren't also being misled at the time. It also doesn't mean that the piece of legilsation they all voted for was an authorization of invasion. And it's not rewriting history to say, hey, we fucked up. We blew it. If we knew then what we know now, we would have acted differently.

At the time Bush was playing two gambits. First of all, he was making all sorts of noise about working through the UN, it's all about the inspections, etc. I remember being taken in by one of his early speeches on this, thinking, "hey, if he can get the UN to really do it, maybe that'll be a step forward for all of us." By the time things got around to a vote on Capitol Hill, it didn't take a rocket scientist to realize Bush was only interested in the UN as far as they provided him with political cover, but the bill they were voting on was about inspections, not pre-emptive invasion.

That's bum behavior enough, but it's the second part of Bush's war-pitch baboozle that's really gotten him in trouble with the Public. It's now roundly understood that the White House Iraq Group was selectively sharing intelligence with Congress and the Senate in order to maximize hype, and hide any intel that would have cast doubt on the notion that Saddam was an imminent threat. They were cherry-picking what they gave the Senate, and in public they were selectively quoting that selectively-shared intelligence in an acknowledged campaign to whip up public support -- to "sell" the war, so to speak.

Here's what the "sales" process boils down to: you create pain in your customer and presenting your product as the answer to that pain. Sometimes the pain is really there and sometimes the thing you're selling is actually a solution, but usually not on both counts. It is an inherantly dishonest process. I know this. I've done in-home hard-sells of a $1,500 vaccuum-cleaner; the sell works because we used these small paper pads to catch the dirt from 10-seconds worth of vaccuuming and left them scattered all over someone's living room until they cracked and bought the thing. In essence, the idea was to make people feel their house is full of filth and this "cleaning system" is the only way out. The guys who were really good would say, "Just keep pulling up dirt pads. Everyone has a breaking point."

This is a pretty brute-force example, but most advertisements work on a similar level of peddling fantasies to elicit an emotional longing for the product. Coors Light comes with sexy blond twins! Oh, wait. I meant a hangover. See the car rocketing across the desert? Freedom! Yes! This is what I need in my life! Oh wait. Buy the car, sit in traffic. Huh.

The reason sales actually works in the long run is that buyers usually find something to like about what they purchased -- Coors Light does get you drunk; the car handles well, etc -- so in the end they don't feel angry at the person who got them over the hump to buy it.

Problem with the War is there's not much to like. In fact, it's pretty much been a disaster, and the more you pay attention the worse it gets. People feel hoodwinked. They've been sold a bum bill of goods. They've been misled.

I would argue that the tactics of Sales were even more expertly deployed in the lobbying that went on in and around DC in late 2002/early 2003 than they were on the public relations front, which mostly amounted to fear-based propaganda. Remember, the insider-support for the war was far greater than actual Public support all the way down the line. The Bush team did a very good job of painting most of DC and the Press into a corner where there was a painful amount of pressure, and the quickest way to get it off you was to say you "supported the President in disarming a Dictator."

So is there a little opportunism at work here? Probably. But killing 10s of 1000s of people puts you pretty far into karma deficit, so suck it up. If the Democrats have any sense they'll pound Bush repeatedly on this, beat him like the adopted national crack-baby that he is, turn his whole second term into a carnival of lame duckatude.

You reap what you sow, fuckers.

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Stayed up all night, flew the first legs in a stupor. Stray thought, am I getting too old for this? Naaahhh... Somewhere on the airport CNN I heard McCain calling for more troops in Iraq. Reading Fear and Loathing in America (which I left on the G-D plane), seems to synch oddly. Where are these "more troops" coming from? Heavier echoes of Vietnam every day.

PDX is the best damn airport I know, a wonder to travel through. High-power wi-fi coverage (free, natch), and a world-class sushi bar when you clear security. Miso, fresh tuna, wasabi, maybe a microbrew if you're in the mood or water and coffee if you're not. It's the best cure to the drain of traveling I know.

I've got three or so hours of business to conduct from my office here outside Tully's Coffee. "Anywhere I roam, where I get online is home..." </metallica> ho ho ho.

And just now I saw a girl I knew, and even had a teenage crush on, walk by. Still looking good. Still having the same boyfriend. That's the beauty of Oregon. Gives me a warm feeling.

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I'm getting ready to ramble -- heading back to Oregon for the weekend because...

David and Jessica

Are Getting MARRIED

Those crazy kids. I'll let you know if I catch the bouquet.

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When We Fail, Others Can Win

This is worth reading inre: the recent massive earthquake in Pakistan:

What about the Islamist organizations of Pakistan; how did they respond? The same Kashmir leader told Reuters, "The jihadi groups are more sincerely taking part in relief operations. Those groups, which were branded bad by the government, are no doubt doing well and will influence people's sympathy in the future."

A number of earthquake victims attested to this reality by stating that the only prompt help they have gotten has been from Islamist groups. (See Asia Times Online Waging jihad against disaster, October 20.) Even Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf agreed with the performance of the Islamist groups related to post-earthquake assistance.

Al-Qaeda is having a field day watching the community of nations perform so deplorably in regard to the human tragedy in Pakistan.

When local orgs outperform the nation state and international community, they demonstrate superior fitness, and they build primary loyalty with the Public. And they deserve to, because they're doing the Right Thing better than We in this situation -- taking care of people who are in dire need.

By the by, this is how Christianity spreads a lot of the time: missionaries arrive with Better Things (say, antibiotics) than the people have on their own, make they make sure the indios understand that the Better Things are only possible because of Jesus, and the rest works itself out. Human beings like to win. Whoever's doing it right has the advantage. Nothing succeds like success, and nothing fails like failure.

Look for more and more various developments like this -- smaller network orgs beating lumbering 20th-century institutions -- in the coming years. Eventually the Establishment will turn on and start working with the new stuff, but only after they're repeatedly and publicly whipped for their incompetance. The fatbacks recoil from anything which threatens their control, even if that means they get beaten like a gongs by their most hated enemies; they're fundimentally greedy and assume their "expertice" makes them more fit than any others to make decisions; rather drive in defeat than let go and win.

The only question is whether they go down in a heavy exctincion/evolution cycle, or adapt in time to save enough of their juice to remain relevant. Across the board the results will be mixed -- e.g. the odds of recognizable survival for General Motors are different than, say, the Democratic Party -- but I believe that by the time my children get out on their own the institutional landscape will have changed significantly.

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