"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Politrix

Atrios on Obama's economy captures the essence of what I find so dispiriting:

The point isn't that there was some magic obvious solution, the point is that the problem was bigger than they imagined and, frankly, recovery noises from the administration started to remind me of Bush era noises about how things were always improving in Iraq.

Team Obama appears to have taken all the wrong lessons from team Bush. They pursue the limp magical-thinking type propaganda — "clap louder!" — couched as DC-centric conventional wisdom (which is itself morally and intellectually bankrupt), without apparently even contemplating the virtues of a Cheney-esque will to power.

They also play politics very poorly, much more poorly than the Clintons.

I find myself in odd moments beginning to wish we'd nominated Hillary.

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Much Like Pints Of Guiness, Bicycling Makes You Stronger

Music Please:

I haven't written much about politics in the past... year or so, mainly because it's been such an unqualified bummer. I read Krugman and Duncan and check up with my friend the subcommondante on a daily, and pretty much count myself in their camp on most issues. If you want to stay in the know, you could do a lot worse.

But this caught my eye and excited some comment, well, because it highlights the total batshit insanity angle of what's going on out there, and in doing so sheds some maybe pretty good light on what exactly makes the whole political situation so depressing. I could not help but remark.

So, the leading Republican candidate for Governor of Colorado thinks that having a free bike program in the city of Denver is the first step towards one world government:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are "converting Denver into a United Nations community."

"This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed," Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.

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Another World Is Possible?

I've been slowly making my way through First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, which I picked up while browsing the Strand back in the spring and then purchased as a supplemental counterweight to the delightfully light/fun Shantaram. Žižek isn't really breezy, but he's certainly brilliant, and more importantly willing to ask pretty hard questions.

The book is part dissection of the contemporary neoliberal status quo ideology, and part argument to revive the idea of (haunting music) Communism. It's already delivered a few gems, such as this explanation of the uselessness of the modern Leftist opposition:

In the good old days of Really Existing Socialism, a joke popular among dissidents was used to illustrate the futility of their protests. In the fifteenth century, when Russia was occupied by Mongols, a peasant and his wife were walking along a dusty country road; a Mongol warrior on a horse stopped at their side and told the peasant he would now proceed to rape his wife; he then added, "But since there's a lot of dust on the ground, you must hold my testicles while I rape your wife, so that they will not get dirty!" Once the Mongol had done the deed and ridden away, the peasant started laughing and jumping with joy. His surprise wife asked, "How can you be jumping with joy when I was just brutally raped in your presence?" The farmer answered: "But I got him! His balls are covered with dust!"

A lot of the rest is somewhat remedial for anyone with a critical eye for the world: how a "kinder" — or more recently "greener" — capitalist status quo has taken hold and is recycling its opposition into its own system, etc. The interesting piece to me is not this critique, but the argumentation to seriously (re)consider the Marxist alternative.

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Who Said It?

How does this sound?

“The state should not tear down the apples from the tree of economics. What the government should do is help grow our apple orchard, develop our economic environment.”

That's Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, aka shift manager for Boss Putin.

The question I have is why does the President of Russia (in translation, even) seem to have a better grasp of post-free-market-fetish economic rhetoric than our own progressives? I mean, it'll be really unfortunate if the Left in the US doesn't come to articulate a competent vision alternative vision to the current "world order." Though maybe not all that surprising.

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Political and Funny

I got handed a voter guide from The League at the 24th and Mission Bart today. Gave me a warm and fuzzy. Love this stuff:

How crazy is San Francisco politics? We're endorsing Gavin Newsom, a guy who blocked us on twitter! We disagree with Gavin a lot. He talks a good game at being progressive, but most of the time he's on the "big money" side of crucial local issues: selling out Bayview/Hunters Point to Lennar, siding with PG&E against public power, etc. His policy of reporting immigrant youth to ICE before they've been convicted of any crimes is horrible. But when you take him out of SF and compare him to the usual hacks who run for office statewide, Gav looks pretty good. He supports reforming Prop 13 and is semi-serious about addressing climate change. His opponent in the primary is Janice Hahn. Her politics seem pretty good, but we don't think she's ready for prime time. She's gotten by on her family name and just doesn't have the experience.

Pssst! Here's a poorly kept secret: the main reason we want Gavin to become Lt. Governor is because if he wins, the Board of Supervisors gets to pick his replacement, and we're hoping that would mean that we'd finally get a Mayor we could be excited about! Some of us are afraid this could backfire on us: Gavin goes on to become Governor or Senator and uses his clout to support candidates and policies that we don't like. Hmm. It's a tough call.

And then there's the comedy. Here's a real ad:

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In Which I Ponder My Life and Career and Think About Working Out

Spent this past week at this little get-together called Drupalcon. I've done a poor job in general explaining what this "Drupal" is to my non-nerd quadrant of friends, and it's a pretty long story with a lot of angles and beautiful idiosyncrasies. And also now kind of a big deal on these old internets. Like, 3000 people showing up for a conference we organized, with major sponsorships from technology heavyweights and a presentation from the White House.

Yeah.

The first wave of my professional life was very startup-oriented. Silicon Alley from '98 to '01. I never made any money of course, but as a 19 to 22 year old kid it was amazing experience both on technical and business fronts. The second wave was all about politics, but definitely had that scrappy startup kind of vibe, bootstrapping an insurgent campaign and then getting the non-profit equivalent of venture financing to try out some totally unproven ideas, including building a professional space around Drupal and participating in the dot-org boom. After that I took some time off and freelanced, then started a company. While starting ones own company is an integral part of being an entrepreneur for real-real, the first few years of this were a lot of hard learning curve for me, and to be honest it was a lot harder than I thought.

Now, exhausted from an excessively busy week and battling a devilish low-grade cold, I still feel like, once again, the buzz is back. It's a new wave. I'm back to sleeping six hours a night and waking up jazzed.

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DIY Campaigning

I've been tracking these efforts for a while. It's going to shake things up. A lot.

Fun times ahead.

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Revolution on the Right

I'm wearing this fly new hoodie I got from the artist who did that "Act Like Ya Know" poster that I liked. Rage is not revolution, but it might be a precourser.

I think it's important to recognize that when we talk about political extremism in Estados Unidos, the far Right is much larger, organized, well funded and (critically) well armed and prepared to shed blood compared to the Left. They are a strong movement which has embraced increasingly violent and eliminationist rhetoric, especially with regards to Muslims in the wake of 9/11.

It's been years since eco-radicals even burned down a lumber-yard — which is ultimately just property crime — but anti-choice radicals still kill doctors and "militia" members (or anti-tax hardliners) blow up buildings in protest of what they perceive to be tyranny.

The political right has been fueled by fear and anger for decades. The chickens are coming home to roost.

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Rhetoric Gone Stale

Just as much as I find myself cringing whenever politicians use phrases like "Main Street" and "Special Interests," it's worth noting that people outside the mainstream — my own people, so to speak — have just as many sucktastic language tics.

At the moment I'm reading The Army of the Republic, which was right there next to the just-finished Chronic City in the "Hip Lit" section of the U of O bookstore when I swooped in a couple weeks ago. Downshifting from Letham's prose is rough, but Stuart Archer Cohen's subject matter — domestic terrorist/patriots vs. water privatizers — is right up my Red Dawn alley. It's a fun read so far.

However, it's reminding me that it's just as irksome to read leftist cliches about taking it to the streets and whatnot. Even the more radical dialogue can make me wince. The revival we want to see is going to take a new language, purged of these cliches and their anti-meaning. Paging Dr. Lakoff...

Although, it could be closer than we think. Maybe I'm just an old softie, but this still gets me:

And I wish to god that someone would stick all of Perot's stuff on youtube for posterity. There's a huge amount to learn from what he was able to do:

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Consider The Alternatives

Apropos the previous posts about political power-grabbing and whistful public longing, and after a quick trip through the Jon Robb link farm, another thought I'd like to log for the register: in this crazy modern era of ours, in which the existing system is fumbling more than the San Diego Chargers, how long before we really start to think outside the box. Like waaaaay outside the box.

For instance, just off the top of my head:

My parents generation was willing to question pretty basic assumptions about how they were supposed to live. It didn't all work out, but it was a worthy exercise I believe. I think my generation is in an even more (potentially) radical space, thanks to these here internets. Not only can we interconnect with like-minded folks around the world with unprecedented ease, we can self-publish, self-learn, and figure What Actually Works in ways that were completely unthinkable to previous generations.

It looks bleak in some ways, but in other ways it looks pretty bright and wide open. Bears remembering.

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