"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Blogs Over Baghdad

Quick note for those who find this fascinating. Salam Pax has some news stuff and also introduces us a new blog from an Iraqi: G In Baghdad. I'm assuming that since it's from Salam, it's legit. Choice quote:

Please stop and start doing your homework properly, I don't want my country to be another breeding place for Osamas and lunatic terrorists.

It's brilliant. He's writing to America and the world and he's telling them what they need to hear. I hope someone with juice is listening. As Frank said to me this morning, we all hoped Bush would prove us wrong on the war, on the occupation, on the Israel/Palestine summit, but right now it's looking like we need a change in leadership here to start setting things right. We need someone who can work with, not against, the rest of the civilized world. Paging Dr. Dean...

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GOP Convention News

As I'm sure you're all aware by now, I'm righteously pissed about the 2004 GOP Convention being in NYC. It's not just that these people have screwed the city on several money issues, they also get away with using the wounds of New York as an emotional justification for whatever whack-ass jingo plan they're pushing. They pushed their dates back to early Septemeber, and now reports are surfacing that they plan to lay a cornerstone at Ground Zero during the convention.

This as firehouses around the city are closing. What happened to that first-responder aid and that reconstruction grant? Oh, right. Tax cuts. Don't try to play me, Bush. Don't think you can play NYC. This time it's personal.

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Building Steam

The Geeks for Dean movement is starting to build steam. See Britt and Mitch. If we can get the serious makers of the net on board as well as the new blogging constituency and keep everyone's egos under control, we'll have the internet sewn up. We're warriors and professionals and it's time we activated ourselves.

A reminder of why I do this: interviewed by the BBC and asked what keeps Dean going on his reportedly back-breaking schedule, he responded as follows:

I think that what drives me to keep going is the knowledge that if this country fails, then a beacon for the world is lost. And this country is headed for failure under this president.

-- Howard Dean, M.D.

I've been thinking that for a long time, and Dean is the only one who's saying it. He's tapping the main line as far as I'm concerned. This summer is going to be a long simmering process and in the fall it's going to explode.

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I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

It's funny. I used to read the news a lot, the NY times, CNN.com and so on. But since the war I've stopped doing it regularly. I scan the times headlines and read their editorials, but other than that I don't spend time on major news outlets. I read what is referenced in the Blogs, but I don't sit down with the news.

Here's an example of why. CNN is so clearly has an enforced, almost propaganda-like pro-US policy on all their stories these days. It's subtile, but it's there. Look at this article. The substance is about a closed-door hearing about Bush's handling of Iraqi WMD intel, an attack on a US convoy and the civilian death toll. The photos are of a US Solder having fun with a couple kids and our Man in Iraq L. Paul Bremmer at some official ceremony.

I'm all for GIs making nice with the locals and L. Paul getting to exercise his ambassadorial talents. However, the photos and stories are decidedly mismatched. Are there no more relevant photos? Are there no sunnier stories? Cuffs and collar don't match here, and it seems like no one cares.

Perhaps the Onion truly is America's finest news source. Check out their WMD lies infographic.

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It is James Brown Time

Everybody over there/get on up

Everybody right now/get into it

Everybody over here/get involved

Get involved/get involved

Anyone can be a part of the movement now. If you find the technology intimidating, we will help you with that. This is stuff anyone can do.

We'll need respectable people like Britt Balser, Doc Searls and Lawrence Lesseg to give this dean.com thing the extra hip techno juice it needs to really turn over. I personally feel more affiliated with the freak wing; I feel more etherial kinship with people like HST or rageboy or the feisteir days of Justin Hall. The latter two don't touch on politics directly all that often, but 'tis the season, my friends. The going has gotten very weird, and it's time for everyone to turn pro. Let's do this thing.

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Quick Dean Thing

I tried searching Gnutella for Howard Dean and came up with nothing. So I put an MP3 of Dean's great Charlie Rose appearance in my shared media folder. You can also snag it here: 23 minutes of high-quality talk at only 3mb. You can stream it if you want too; this is coming off my free ISP web-space and not my home box, so feel free to hit it up and pass the link around.

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Heady Predictions

I had this meeting last Friday with my old professor Steve, and while other events this weekend more or less monopolized my mind, the fallout from our marathon four-hour conversation is starting to coalesce.

We were ostensably talking about the book Steve wants to write about addiction and consumerism, but ranged far and wide into politics and the nature of power in American society. One of the big revelations uncovered was the way in which TV culture (and the attendant consumerism) has stripped America of its democratic tradition.

It used to be that our guaranteed freedom of speech was a means of distributing power among the people. Being able to stand up and speak in a public place was actually very empowering because that -- and town-centered newspapers -- was how you got the word out to people. Mass media changed this, and TV really sealed the deal. The freedom to speak is no longer a distributor of political power. Where I jump off, and I didn't really share this with Steve, is that the net is the answer to this problem.

The internet as a medium is one of the few real hopes for democracy in the 21st century. If you buy "The Medium is the Message" then you'll understand why.

Democracy is about empowerment and participation. Television as a medium is non-participatory and disempowering. As I said, the advent of mass broadcast media rendered our much vaunted freedom of speech politically insignificant. You can say whatever you want because it doesn't matter any more. What matters is what's on televsion. That's an unfriendly environment for real democracy.

Alternatively, the internet as a medium is about participation and empowerment for everyone who is connected. All of the best content on the web is independent. All of the best websites -- even those that are now corporate sponsored -- started as ideas that people had. The internet allows you to do and make things, and can connect you with other people.

This difference is very very important. It's not the beginning or end of the world, but it is very important. Should the internet become a mass media to rival television -- and some say it already has -- it will be a step towards restoring political significance to the freedom of speech. This is why it's important for the government to fund the internet, especially with regards to bridging the "digital divide." Everyone needs access because access is the key to empowerment and opportunity here in the 21st century.

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The Truth And The Election

By far the most consistent and vicious attacks on Howard Dean's presidential candidacy come from his opposition to the recent invasion and occupation of Iraq. This is where the moronic McGovern comparisons come from. This is the first (and often only) real point of contention people I know raise with me when I talk up Dean. Yesterday, NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer told reporters that Dean is unelectable due to his opposition to the war.

"The American people will not elect somebody who opposed a war that they supported," Spitzer told the Press-Republican of Plattsburgh. Spitzer also said Dean won't win the Democratic nomination. (AP)

What is shaping up here is nothing less than a contest for the soul of America.

On the issue of the war there are two principle camps. On one side we have the war believers, who will quite rightly point out that the removal of a "mean sonofabitch dictator" (thanks, Molly Ivans) was a good thing, and go on to say that the discovery of mass graves justifies any means necessary. On another side we have the pragmatists who will point out that we can ill afford the war and subsequent occupation, that neither has made us safer from terrorism, and that such a unilateral Anglo-American action has dire diplomatic consequences. Around these two poles of reasonable disagreement swirl the true warmongers and peaceniks, who represent perhaps 10% of the population each and who will never change their position.

Then there's the increasingly inescapable fact that the Bush administration lied to the American public and to our allies and to the world in order to prosecute this war. There's little way to see around this, what with all the obvious fraud, much of which was known prior to the invasion, and the whistle blowing coming from within intelligence circles both here and in the UK.

And the soul of America? The question is whether or not we the people will tolerate leadership which deceives us because it believes it knows better than we do. The question is whether the American public wants a leader who positions himself as a father/protector and tells us all sorts of stories -- from Santa Claus and voodoo economics to the Tooth Fairy and WMD -- and we accept the lies because daddy knows what's best. The question is whether we believe it is of the utmost importance for our President to be honest and open, or whether we will tolerate a policy of fear mongering and recrimination based on falsehoods and cooked intelligence to dictate the course of this nation.

Howard Dean is the Truth candidate. He's telling the Truth when he says, "there's no way to know if the Iraqi people are better off now than they were under Saddam." Yes, Udai's rape camp has been shuttered, but you don't see any women walking the streets of Baghdad these days either. Indeed, we've uncovered mass graves, but we've also dug a few ourselves. True, there will be no more Ba'ath party political prisoners, purges or punitive torture sessions, but there is also precious little in the way of basic utility services, security or opportunity for the people of Iraq.

Howard Dean is telling the truth when he says we don't have a good track record at occupation and nation-building. No one does. History is littered with the burnt out remains of great nations that thought they could consistently impose their will upon others.

Howard Dean is telling the truth when he says that Iraq was not an immanent threat the US, and that this was the wrong war at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. There was no rush. Imagine if we'd waited six months and gotten the UN on board, and if that had resulted in not having complete chaos, a spree of freelance sexual assault and revenge killings, the destruction of most of the national infrastructure, and the general disintegration of Iraq as a functioning state. That would be a fair trade for half-a-year more of Saddam's ever-lightening touch.

There's a chance for our invasion of Iraq to pay off, but there's a chance that it won't too. It seems hard to deny that Team Bush fudged the run up and neglected to pour any significant resources into post-war planning. Currently there is absolutely no way to tell how this will turn out. Any statement to the contrary is pure propaganda. To say that a presidential candidate is unelectable for opposing this war is similarly bullshit.

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Dean Video

Holy fucking shit. I just watched my man on Charlie Rose from the other night. Snagged some quicktime at long last. It's hot stuff. Charlie is one of the smart people who's drifted right, seduced somehow by the neocon movement, but he's good at drawing people out and giving them room to talk. It's a very sober forum, but Dean was smoking hot wearing his wonk hat. Here's one quote I was pretty excited about:

"Small businesses are the key to the recussitation of the economy because they hire a lot more people in the aggregate than big business do, and they don't move their jobs to indonesia to maximize their benefits because they're rooted in the community. We need to change the way economic development is done and focus on small businesses and not big businesses. That's very difficult... but it has to be done because the future of this country is smaller businesses."

Word.

Listen, it was hard to get this video because the place I was downloading it from was slower than mud. I've re-compressed it down to 27MB from more than 60 and thrown it up here, but it's on my home server so it's really only good one at a time. You should check it out and mirror it yourself if you can.

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Good Video

There's some very interesting video available via C-Span of a book panel discussion between Bill O'Reilly and Al Franken. The juicy stuff starts at around minute 48. Franken has been talking about about 18 minutes -- three over his 15-minute limit -- and has been having fun at O'Reilly's expense. Go to minute 30 to see all of Al's barbs. Bill completely looses his temper, calling Franken an idiot and claimed he'd been on for 35 minutes. Franken gets some laughs and Bill gets some cheers for yelling. It's going to be a long hot summer. Molly Ivans comes off as the voice of progressive reason, and good for her.

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