"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Let The Scapegoating Begin

With all the bad news coming out of Iraq, and the hard reality dawning that our military -- once perceved more or less universally to be invincible -- is in fact a mortal creation with limited powers, the word seems to have come down from the pigs who direct the Republican Noise Machine that it's time to begin preparing for the end.

In the past week, Bill O'Reilly, William Kristol, William F. Buckley and a host of lesser lights in the media/thought apparatus that drove the effort to whip up suppport and launch the war have all shifted stance to accomodate a result which no one really wanted to see, but which most of us on the anti-war side always feared and suspected: failure.

UPDATE: See also the intellectual Father of Neocoservatism denouncing Iraq in relation to his ideals. Oh, man.

The most important aspect of this for all the so-called conservatives, of course, is who to blame. Glenn Greenwald has another great post on this. Latest Iraqi war casualty -- conservative belief in "personal responsibility":

Those who insisted on this war, who started it, who prosecuted it, who controlled every single facet of its operation – they have no blame at all for the failure of this war. Nope. They were right all along about everything. It all would have worked had war critics just kept their mouths shut. The ones who are to blame are the ones who never believed in this war, who control no aspect of the government, who were unable to influence even a single aspect of the war, who were shunned, mocked and ridiculed, and who have been out of power since the war began. They are the ones to blame. They caused this war to fail.

The point here is that no one with a shred of opposition to this whole endeavor was ever in any position to influence any decision which could have had any effect on the outcome. But they're (we're) gonna get blamed.

The argument that's going to be made is that we didn't participate in the Tinkerbell Strategy: we didn't clap loudly enough, believe hard enough.

And that's why this thing was such a catastrophe. Not because it was a crazy idea in the first place. Not because it was sold to the Public though flim-flam, fear and outright lies. Not because Rumsfeld wanted to prove his pet theories about how a modern military worked. Not because Bush alienated every possible ally. Not because the Green-zone staffers in charge of reconstruction were political appointees with no experience, concerned with setting a flat tax rate and insuring that the eventual Iraqi judiciary they were trying to create would stand strong against abortion. Not because of corrupt no-bid contracts. Not because we couldn't keep the electricity on, or even prevent mile-long gas lines in an oil rich nation. Not because we disbanded the Iraqi army and purged their entire pre-existing power structure.

Certainly not because we tortured people, kicked in doors, kidnapped wives and daughters. America always has the moral high ground, of course.

No. It's my fault (and maybe yours) because I (we?) didn't want any of this to happen.

Get ready. You're gonna hear it loud and proud.

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You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

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The A-Word

I was planning on doing a little bloggin' about Abortion, which is coming up as an issue and is sort of poorly articulated by a lot of activists on the left. I probably will throw my two-cents in the ring later on, but when I read this post by Patti, I thought, "heck, just link to that."

She's got a nice, refreshingly balanced view, and hits a lot of points that I think are important when discussing the fundimental issues. Also some creative use of graphics. Go read.

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Girly Action


I've been dating the same lady for more than three months now, which is a long time for me. It feels like we're getting to an inflection-point. There's a level of intimacy and trust now that's pretty awesome -- we've talked about/around most of what I'm discussing here -- and yet at the same time it's sort of clear to both of us we're not going to settle down with one another and get married.

I take the view that life is a long game and I try to keep my womanly connections -- because, hey, you never know. Tangled up in Blue is one of my favorite songs. Moreover, I know a good thing when I see it and I'm not looking to mess with what I've got, but I'm starting to chafe a bit in this relationship. Given that there are rumors (no doubt propogated by my enemies) that I have a "fear of committment," and that the original purpose of me starting to self-publish on these internets was to create a vehicle for honest introspection, I figure it's a worthy topic for blogging.

My understanding of love is as a sort of fever, a force of nature, something that sweeps over you and changes the way you see things. It is something I don't pretend to understand or control, and it's not something that happens very often. It is mysterious, and yet I also know that it is real. I long for this feeling, and not just with regards to women. I want, perhaps to an unreasonable degree, to be passionate about my life.

And yet a lasting relationship is not a fever. It is a series of choices. It is communication, and a shared understanding. It is intentional. It is to some extent planned. There's a tension here.

I envision my future self as a family man, a community member. I want to be a dad. I think it will be really hard for me if my friends start to have kids before I've settled down. I'm going to want them, badly.

When I start to think seriously about this, the implications are rather terrifying and enormous. Managing the twenty-year period of relative stability a family requires is a rather daunting task. I haven't had the same address for more than 18 months in the last eight years, and for most of 2005 I was literally an itinerant rambler, wandering the country. Lucas and I enjoy the pat answer of "thirty five to fifty five" as it pushes this off another eight years into the future, but that's a total dodge and everyone knows it.

Beyond the material concerns, there's an even more troubling and deep question: just who exactly do you think you're going to be spending these twenty years with? I haven't stuck by any woman for more than six or seven months -- hence these rumors about a fear of committment -- so the prospect of settling down is something of a quantum leap, behaviorally speaking.

I've spent the majority of my adult life a single man, and for the most part I've enjoyed it. I enjoy freedom, and not just sexually (although that's nice too). I enjoy being able to spend my time however I like, dictatorial control over my evening hours. I enjoy being unfettered by responsibility in lots of little ways. I am pretty independent by nature.

And now I'm in a relationship with a girl that I like, but I don't have that fever. It's going places, but not all the way. I care about her, but in practice that mostly means I worry about hurting her feelings at some unknown juncture down the road. We talk about this, and we understand one another pretty well, and this is why the relationship continues, but I don't know if I'm doing the right thing or not. I don't know that there is a right thing to do.

Everyone in my cohort is questioning why they live in New York City. Some have good jobs. Some are mainly anchored here by their social network. Some remain feverishly in love with this world capital of a city. Some are planning to leave. I generally count myself in-between the middle two camps. My work is completely portable, and from a strictly financial point of view I aught to be angling to reduce my cost of living and maximize my take-home profits. But I have friends here, and I'm still drawn to the pulse of New York, so this is where I live for now, but I also don't see it being where I spend the rest of my life.

I think another reasons I stay here is that I think of it as a probable place to meet the right woman. I am decidedly picky when I'm not man-slutting it up, and one of my big sticking points is ambition. Just about any woman you meet here is bound to be ambitious. I'm also, as I said, pretty independent, and most New York girls are similarly capable of making their own way in the face of adversity. These are qualities that are harder to find out there in the world I think. There are also a lot of beautiful people here, a point not to be discounted.

In the end, I have perhaps impossibly high expectations. But I'm not really willing (at this point) to settle when it comes to settling down. And so this cosmic ballet continues. Nothing conclusive yet.

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Riding Fixed

It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll; that is the fucking truth. No matter what your field, your pursuit, it is a long way to the top if you don't want to compromise. Free as in freedom, baby.

After a long day of work I was tempted to pack it in: take a bath, read a little, ponder my navel and so forth. But I'd been inside working all day. I made a few calls. Franz was going out, some place on the Bowery, some girls from Barnard. So in spite of the 15-degree wind chill factor I motivated and rode in.

I've been trying to ride more. With all the biz-travel and then the snowstorm, I haven't been getting out on the wheels a lot in the past month. It makes me soft, leaves me nervous and pent up not to have the physical release. Really I should be going to the gym and/or practicing a little yoga on my own, but nine or ten miles of city riding is good enough to keep me chugging along.

It's a pretty good experience, riding with the fixed gear. It takes some getting used to, and initially it's somewhat terrifying; the margin for error is tighter than riding freewheel; your legs directly connected to the machine. But once you get the hang of it, terror becomes thrill as you realize that the system works, you can handle it, and your power has increased. The only thing I can compare it to is playing Wipeout on the ol' Playstation, when you'd upgrade to a new class of ship.

The trick is building and maintaining momentum. You have only one gear, so you have to keep your cruising speed. On the straightaway this is no problem: because there's so much less friction in a fixed-gear system, you can maintain a higher median velocity with the same effort you'd put out on a regular bike, and your ability to accelerate is just awesome -- you can really stomp on the pedals and make things happen.

One gear means it can be hard to keep up on hills. You have to hump it a bit getting over the bridge -- just another man-made hill, really -- but revving up your engine is what this is all about, right? With good music this can even be a meditative process, you own Private Psychadellic Reel.

I personally really enjoy dropping into a social situation fresh from this kind of exertion, this exercise of Human Power. It makes me confident to the point of being a little cocky, like I'm of a different species, especially if the surrounding atmosphere is at all rarified. I used to love riding to the Upper East Side when Sam would get me odd jobs there at an Opera where he was Technical Director. It's such a rich and stiff 'hood, I got all sorts of classist kicks thundering in as a sweaty outsider.

When you've had a good roll in the winter time and you stop to lock up, unslinging the big heavy chain that's now mandatory in this city, it makes a loud clink hitting the pavement; a big gesture. You're breathing hard, and you unzip your jacket to cool off for a second, let the trapped perspiration does it's evaporative thing. Your head and body emit steam. It's sexy.

There is a whole gestalt to making this a part of your life, and it's as big an influence on how you look at the world as driving or walking or taking mass transit as your mainstay. These choices about how we get from point A to point B color the way we see the world, and I'm pretty happy with mine.

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Nerd Project

So from the dKos, I caught a link to this, which is a really nice plugin I traced to here.

I like this way of sharing audio. I'm gonna translate it for Drupal.

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The Widening Gyre of Iraq

We were told they'd be financing their own reconstruction by now. Huh. Things fall apart.

The attack in Samarra began at 7 a.m., when a dozen men dressed in paramilitary uniforms entered the shrine and handcuffed four guards who were sleeping in a back room, a spokesman for the provincial governor's office said. The attackers then placed a bomb in the dome and detonated it.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but some Iraqi officials pointed a finger at Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the terrorist group believed to be responsible for many of the attacks on Shiite civilians and mosques over the past two years.

This sounds more like the work of old-school Ba'athists than Qaeda to me, though maybe they're all part of the same network at this point. It's a cold-blooded move, destroying a holy site, designed to provoke maximum outrage after years of instability, hardship and violence. It's working:

Later, the Basra police took 10 foreign Arabs who had been jailed in connection with terrorist attacks from their cells and shot them to death, apparently in retaliation for the shrine bombing, a police official said.

Sistani issued another statement on Wednesday warning the faithful not to attack any Sunni holy sites. But the angry mobs had already begun shooting, firing rocket-propelled grenades and setting some mosques on fire. Imams at three Baghdad mosques - Al Sabar, Al Yaman, and Al Rashidi - were killed, the Interior Ministry said. A fourth imam, Sheik Abdul Qadir Sabih Nori of the Amjed al-Zahawi Mosque, was kidnapped, officials said.

More than 25 Sunni Mosques have been attacked in Baghdad, some of them totally destroyed. There have been additional acts of reprisal throughout the country. If the political and religious leaders are unable to quiet the storm, US forces are going to be in a very complex and dangerous situation.

As long as this violence doesn spill over to our people, it'll remain a minor story. If violent civil disorder persists and Americans are caught in the crossfire (or worse, pinned into their bases and then attacked by opportunists there), it could be the bloody beginning to a new chapter this saga of misfortune, malfesance and incompetance.

I think it's going to continue getting uglier. Brace yrself.

UPDATE: it's going to get increasingly politically tricky too... when you've lost O'Reilly, you've lost a lynchpin of support.

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Internet TV Platform


Download and watch all the best internet TV shows and videos in one powerful application. New channels arrive daily in the built-in Channel Guide.

Stop squinting at tedious web videos-- sit back and watch big, high resolution videos one after another. It's so easy to use that you'll be watching interesting videos in moments.

These kids are smart. I'll start publishing some feeds you might want to add pretty soon.

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Not an administration firing on all pistons:

President Bush knocks over some lab samples as receives a tour of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory... in Golden, Colo. Bush's trip to the site is part of a two-day, three-state trip to promote the energy proposals he outlined in his State of the Union address. Along the route, Bush has touted longer lasting lithium-ion car batteries and solar roof panels that can turn homes into mini power generators. Bush's visit to the government lab comes as his administration scrambled over the holiday weekend, just before he arrived, to restore the jobs of 32 people laid off in budget cuts.

That's a photo caption, by the way. Emphasis mine.

Energy is an issue nexus I care about quite a lot because I believe it's central to our ability to maintain a good standard of living, rebuild the American middle class, and also to raise up people around the world who are less fortunite. Sort of pathetic to see it made into a complete political shell game by the Republicans.

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Getting Meta -- The Gap

The Hotline is a very expensive subscription newsletter that covers Washington DC politics. It defines itself as being for insiders. For a certain set of people, if it wasn't in the Hotline, it didn't happen. William Butler has been covering blogs for the Hotline, and recently wrote an op ed for the Washington Examiner that was a little bit sloppy, for which Blogospheric Young Turk Matt Stoller took him to task. The details there are interesting if you're into the mechanics of party politics, but I'll skip them for now.

The point is that Butler took the opportunity to respond in a more open (e.g. longer than 700 word) format on MyDD with In Defense of Hotline's William Beutler (By Hotline's William Beutler). It's getting digested in various places, but here's the quote (and bolded money-line) I want to riff on:

Markos is fond of saying that the neroots aren't about ideology. That may be so, although I wonder if Matt [Stoller] disagrees, as he criticizes me for saying "woe to" a Dem politician who misreads the blogosphere -- it's not rocket science, he says. Not to him, to be sure. But he might consider the fact that a lot of smart people find the blogosphere particularly inscrutable.

William's post is a Good Thing™. It's far too rare that journalists take the opportunity to engage with their Public, and that's really what all this is about. Now, about that bit I bolded...

To the degree that the Blogosphere is "about" anything, it's about a redistribution of power engineered through rather radical changes in how (and to whom) information flows. This is pretty simple, but it means doing business differently. It means working more openly, and dare I say more honestly.

This is true on both the right and the left, and I actually think it's more of a political problem for Republicans. Openness naturally cuts against the monolitic "message discipline" they've come to rely on, and it will make it harder and harder for them to hold on to their more unsavory (crypto-racist, homophobic, misogynist, corpulently corporatist, etc) coalition members.

But back to the Hotline. It's a bit of a simplification, but it seems like there really is an establishment out there which is typified by Hotline's brand of journalism -- an expensive, insiders-only, limited distribution channel of information. The blogosphere is pretty much the opposite: free (as in beer and as in freedom), open, publicly distributed networks for filtering and distributing facts and opinions.

This all seems like the most natural thing in the world to me and mine. What other way could you possibly want to be? I'm only realizing lately the extent to which there are intelligent people who have been working in another fashion for years and years for whom these ideas are utterly terrifying and/or completely inscrutable.

It's not an age thing -- there are plenty of student body presidents younger than me just itching to start climbing the old-school ladder -- but there is something akin to a generation gap here.

Interesting stuff to ponder.

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