"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Wolf II

So the Wolfowitz quote was out of context. Still, he's essentially saying that because Iraq has oil reserves we had no other way to influence them other than taking over the whole damn country. This is still bull-poopie. And of course it's about the oil. It's not only about the oil, but it is about the oil. Our country has a geopolitically debilitating addiction to foriegn energy. That's the reason "stability in the middle east" matters and "stability in the Congo" doesn't.

Look, there are two ways to deal with this. One is to do whatever is necessary -- lie, cheat, steal, despoil, rob, bomb -- to feed that addicton. The other is to get off the juice. I think we know which track of action this administration prefers. Their policy can be summed up as "A Hummer in every driveway and a Marine base in every oil-rich nation."

A seriously progressive national energy policy is a critical step toward real national security. I've been thinking this for a long time. If we can't free ourselves and our economy from its dependence on cheap gasoline, we're going to be wedded by necessity to an increasingly vulnerable imperial resource-gathering policy going forward. This cannot be allowed to happen.

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Clean Up Act

First off, this is brilliant: Trailers of Mass Destruction. And now for what I've been up to in the past 24 hours.

Hit the gym yesterday for the first time in a long time. It was a painful experience. My stomach hurt and I am terribly out of shape. Not as bad as when I got back from spending the holiday season out west, but pretty sorry all in all. My personal rigor has been on the wane over the past month or two; too much partytime.

Then I hit the Dean Meetup down at the Essex. It was my first and I had a pretty good time. I was expecting Frank to show up and be my wingman, but he couldn't come through. Once I realized he wasn't going to make it, I just started meeting people at random. There was a good queer presence -- did I mention Dean's the queer candidate? -- which was nice; gay men are possibly the most socially apt class of people in America today. There was a good mix of old and young as well as black and white. Arrested Development, who are releasing a new album after many years of silence, was set to play a few tunes after the official meetup time had passed.

It was a beautiful crowd, but these weren't quite my people, a bit on the square side for the most part: grad students, wonks, grizzled volunteers and sports-loving New Yorkers. There were a few other freaks in the crowd -- did I mention Dean's the freak candidate? -- but I didn't get to talking with them. I still had good conversations though, got a free button and signed some mailing lists. I ended up sticking around to see the music, having a few mojitos (when in Rome...) and trying to understand how I would get inside. The evening definitely tickled my ambition-bone.

I missed Frank the most toward the end, when the crowd was a bit thinner and we were talking with good-looking politically active young women. It would have been pleasant to direct them his way.

But I took the bike home in the rain. Dropped in on Jeremy at the Lyric and had three beers, which put me over the line. I'd eaten nothing since lunch and had been to the gym in-between, so my calorie-starved metabolism was just mainlining the booze to keep the works in operation. I went home and felt sick, passed out in a fit of incoherence, waking now with a hangover and Bob Dylan's "Paths of Victory" on the hi-fi.

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What's Going On...

Brother brother brother, we don't need to escalate...

Well friends, things are getting weirder and weirder. Here's what uber-hawk and Pentagon deputy Paul "Wolfie" Wolfowitz had to say about Iraq at an Asian security summit yesterday. He was asked about the US policy towards N. Korea and why it was so different from Iraq. As the Guardian Reports, his response was:

"Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."

Frankly I'm flabbergasted. This basically confirms the most over-simplified "no blood for oil" counterarguments which were dismissed as utter bunk in the run up and execution of the war. No matter that we protected the oil fields better than the water treatment plants. No matter that we kept the ministry under marine guard while hospitals, schools and museums were looted. All this happened and still I thought they had the blood for oil meme licked, and here comes the wolfster throwing more gas on the fire. Either this is some truly diabolical Rovian machination, someone turned the man on to some high-quality stuff, or he's angling for an early retirement. It will be telling to see if the American media picks up on this or not.

In other news, the President seems to be making an earnest effort to get some peace pie cooking in Israel and Palestine, but hard-line settlers and Hamas have different ideas. Settlers are pledging civil disobedience over having their new holdings taken away -- which may or may not mean gang-beating anyone who looks at them crosseyed -- and the terrorists have said they won't relent until the Palestinian state is "liberated" -- which may more may not mean "until Israel is destroyed." It all depends on who you ask.

From my perspective the onus is on Sharon to be a big man and resist striking back when the next fit of violence inevitably occurs. If he can manage to do this and prevent the fringe-elements among the settlers from going vigilante, this thing might work. The current intifada has been dragging on for more than three years, and it's been nowhere near as politically cool as the last one. The first uprising was largely about youths demonstrating in the streets and throwing rocks. The current one has been largely about suicide, which is not really a long term winner as a revolutionary tactic. Beyond the basic moral question of blowing up more or less innocent people to get your point across, it really implies that you movement doesn't have its shit together when they can't even manage get-away schemes which would allow operatives to plant bombs rather than blowing themselves up. Palestinians would rather have jobs, to be honest.

In fact, the majority of the people who live around there are ready for peace. The question is whether they can resist being provoked by the loonies on either side. Bush for once is doing The Right Thing(tm) by leaning on them to get off the mark, but it's really up to Sharon to make this process work. Of course, some right-ring radical might blow him away ala Rabin if he really does seem to be pursuing this in earnest. Let's hope the cool heads prevail.

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Dean Memes

For your further Dean-leaning persuasion, here is my collection of Memes for Dean. Also, anyone with bandwidth aught to check out the video which Carl with a K has. Great speech. Dean is also on Charlie Rose tonight.

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Another Politix Story

Another politics view has come surging forth from my crackling, caffeine-stoked synnapses. How about this one: Bush as a dangerous power-junkie.

The Mother Of All Glass Dicks

Bush had fucked the country. He was a mean enough drunk back when his poison was cocaine and whisky, and now he was born again and raging with the thrill of his own agency. Being a president at war has got to make pure uncut coke look like non-prescription sudafed, and he'd let the buzz get out of hand. He'd started lying to cover for his habit, claiming that we needed this war to protect us from a very bad man who could unleash the worlds worst know poisons and plagues at a moment's notice.

Of course, this was total bullshit.

This was a bad guy who'd tried to kill his dad, who gave money to families who's kids were killed trying to kill jews, who purged and tortured his political opponents and wore a mustache just like Joseph Stalin -- but he was also tired, old and running a third-world country, hemmed in on all sides by superior military numbers and blockaded by layer upon layer of sanctions. He was no threat. Still, he kind of looked scary. He looked like the kind of bastard who would hurt you if they could and all it took was some fudged evidence to put the still-terrorized public into full-bore war mode. Powell stood up and covered for his boss and with that the war was on.

I remember being baffled at the time by the talking-heads and their insistence that Powell's UN presentation was "very persuasive" and "highly professional." It was a second-rate powerpoint show full of hearsay and conjecture. And while these are kinds of evidence, it's not the sort of thing decent people start a war over. It was smoke and mirrors -- something Hans Bliz pointed out a week or so later. Blix was one of the few true professionals in this mostly amateur clusterfuck, but Wolf Blitzer's travel arrangements were already in the works so the event was spun as convincing.

But now the whole web was unravelling. Like most junkies, Bush didn't think much past his fix. He's gotten some bright-looking fast-talking British kid involved in his scam, and it turns out over there they hadn't completely privatized the press and sold all the media off to their cronies. There was some public dissatisfaction. Blair was more or less busted. He might squeal soon, and if he did it would be the turning point for this cheerleading MBA.

All the dots were there to connect. Power-addicts always fall to pride; this tragedy is older than recorded history. He'd said "Fuck Saddam. We're taking him out," in front of a few senators back in March 2002, when the official story was that war wasn't even on the table. He'd pushed obviously fake documents as rock-hard evidence. Whistle blowers were starting to pop up and damage-control meetings were underway as a few journalists with some vestigial alliance with the truth (and one economist who couldn't believe what he was seeing) started ruminating out loud that the emperor had no clothes.

In a fit of hubris, they'd planned their convention right here in New York City, even moved it back closer to the fateful anniversary, forcing three states to change their primary election laws so everything would be procedurally accurate. It was looking more and more like Bush's Waterloo. The freaks would be back out in the street, millions of them from around the world like just before the bombs started dropping -- half a million on the street in New York City; freaks and old people and upper-east-side trixies -- except this time they would know it was war and instead of asking nicely to be heard they'd be calling for the boy king's head. The bigger they are the harder they fall.

I, of course, am watching all this play out with perverse delight. Bush is a crook and a power-junkie and his friends are even worse. It's time for them to go. They're all hitting the empire pipe, sucking the mother of all glass dicks. Once you taste that sweet rush you'll be chasing the dragon one way or another for the rest of your days. They aught to be carted off to some obscure B-minus think tank where they can rave about American military supremacy, world domination, space wars and the potential of the international petro-dollar, just generally detox in a cool dry place mercifully outside the public eye. Decency damn near demands it.

Everyone with brains knows we have to turn around. For a while the more level-headed conservatives were delighted because their team was winning, because their guy was walking tall and kicking ass, but now there was a little sick knot in every thinking man's stomach. This had gone too far.

The whole world was watching, and for some this only stiffened their spine. They wouldn't back down. They would support the leader to the bitter end. They would go out in a blaze of twisted glory like the last waffen SS who kept the swastika flying over the Reichstag for more than a week against the will of more than a million Soviet shock troops.

For most though they knew the folly of empire. They could see the lunacy in the tax cuts. They understood that this man was leading the country into a century of ruination, a bitter dark corporate future ruled by fear and greed and the worst aspects of human nature. They've seen what lies ahead and they know we need to change course. The worm has begun to turn.

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I welcome your feedback on anything. My next work of political framing keys off of this phrase: "Invading Iraq is like sleeping with a crazy person. There's potential there, but it's not something you do when you're drunk out of your mind and you don't have any of your friends backing your play." Wow... seems my man Billmon has already felt-out that meme: invasion as sex (and it has Dr. Dean too!). Until next time...

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Frame Breaking

Thinking along the lines of Metaphor and War and doing some longer-gestation writing about the coming presidential contest, I've been particularly influenced by HST and his style of coverage, and am working on something similar. Tinkering with the notion that my man Howard Dean is among other things the "empowerment candidate," the candidate that wants to make individual agency and action a central theme of his campaign and presidency -- this in contrast with Bush who takes a kind of Father Protector role, tells us to support the troops and keep shopping, but otherwise not to do anything out of the ordinary. What I've got on the Dems is still in the works, but here's an excerpt of what's cooking on Bush.

Summer 2003
It is a desperate season. The winds of war are blowing hot and hard with little relief in sight. With the economy heading into a stagnant swampy summer -- vacations and temporary jobs traditionally do little to kick the beast back to life -- by the time the school year rolls around so many state economies will be floundering that it will be very hard not to notice the difference. You'll start seeing it in bad ways, a change in the air: more cripples on the street begging for change, more insane people running loose, more mean looks and petty squabbling. The people are divided and sad and most of all frightened.

Bush the Father Protector has failed them, but like a child who represses memories of parental abuse they don't want to believe it. It's painful to admit that you put your faith in someone and that they let you down. There's a contingent that will maintain that even though Bush lied about WMD and even though Iraq is a mess and even though the economy is in the doldrums that the President is still the best man to lead the country. It's too painful to believe otherwise after having committed.

This is the basis of the hard sell: that the rubes will keep fooling themselves long enough for the salesman to slip out the door, get into his car and drive away with their money -- that he'll get away clean before they are able to come to terms with the fact that they'd been screwed.

Hopefully realization, a breaking of the Father Protector frame, will wash over the land in time to ditch this criminal administration. These people are crooks and cronys and collaborators, down to the (wo)man. Bush is going to have a rude surprise when he finds out that his military swagger can't solve the Israeli/Palestinean conflict, that waving his dick around doesn't really solve anyone's problems, and that giving his board-room buddies yet another sop of a tax cut really didn't create 1.4 million jobs.

But he's got devious people working to keep him in power and they'll use every scare tactic in the book to keep people from rolling over on daddy. This is family business and what goes on here does not leave this house.

The burning question will be whether enough of the population can come to terms with the fact that this president has failed this country in monumental fashion, whether they will rise up and dump this embarassing ass-clown, or whether the people will sink further into into fearful abused catatonia and lie dormant on election day. It's still too far out to have much of a hint, but many of us are banking on people waking up to their own situation and throwing the bums out.

More later...

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Dean Profile in NYT Mag

There's a profile of my man Howard Dean in this weekend's NY Times Magazine. I'm starting to hate the times, with their limp-wristed editorial support for the war, their idiotic pay-per-view archives and their insipidly elitist yuppie bullshit television ads. If it weren't for Krugman and a few other voices there, I'd stop checking it on any kind of basis. The war was enough to stop me from going there for daily news (and forget cnn.com... havn't seen that bitch in months), I now rely on various meta-filters to tell me what's up in the world.

Anyway, the profile is crappy, a lot of the same old misconceptions that Dean can't win, that Dean's a protest candidate, that Dean's a moderate in liberal clothing, that Dean's a liberal in moderate clothing. I'm also waiting for my girlfriend to wake up and call me so I can see her for the first time in a week, so I'm in a cranky mood too. I wrote a letter to the editor of course, and then I went looking online for some solace. I happened upon this gem in the dean2004.blogspot.com comments. By "Eric":

Bai [the author of the profile] was right about one thing--many Democrats weren't happy with Clinton and perhaps some of those same people are now supporting Dean. For a few, the discomfort with Clinton derived from policy disagreements. But most disliked Clinton for the same reason Republicans hated him: He used (sometimes hokey) personal charm to avoid taking a clear position time after time--and co-opted Republican policies in the name of "winning" as he went. Without Clinton's force of personality, this approach (now apparently favored among other Democratic candidates) comes across as either lame or blatantly disingenuous. And in hindsight, it's not at all clear that Clinton's unwillingness to, say, pursue campaign finance reform or scrutinize padded Pentagon contracts did the party or the electorate much good.

So what many Democrats see in Dean is someone with conventional values who isn't afraid to tells it like it is. After Clinton's triangulation and Gore's awkward evasiveness, how can this be anything but a breath of fresh air? You have to be completely bollixed up in rationalizing one of the weirdest, scariest periods in American history to see Dean's blunt declamations of common sense as anything but mainstream. At this particular moment in history, when so much has been so recklessly put at risk by a cadre of radical right-wingers making it up as they go along, we need someone like Dean more than most of us realize. It's been a very long time since the Democrats had, to quote Rob Reiner, a "tough mother" as a candidate. He'll need that backbone to confront fearful pseudo-Democrats almost as much as he'll need it to battle Bush in 2004.

This pretty much summs it up for me. One last link: One Father For Dean and his response to intellectually weak conservatives at his school reunion. And now I've gotten the phone call and I'm off to brunch.

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The WMD Lie

Billmon: What a Tangled Web We Weave when first we practice to deceive, an eye-opening collection of quotes from Team Bush on the question of Iraqi WMD's. It kind of tells a story, starting with:

  • "Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons." - George W. Bush, September 12, 2002
  • "Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent." - George W. Bush, January 28, 2003

And going all the way through:

  • "I just don't know whether it was all destroyed years ago -- I mean, there's no question that there were chemical weapons years ago." - Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, Commander 101st Airborne, May 13, 2003
  • "They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer." - Donald Rumsfeld, May 27, 2003
  • "For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on." - Paul Wolfowitz, May 28, 2003

Here's my commentary:

Number of Weapons of Mass Destruction Found in Iraq: Zero

Explanations:

  1. Gross Incompetence: Weapons were allowed to be moved to more terrorist-friendly nations. The destruction of the expected volumes of WMD would leave large and telltale traces, similar to a toxic waste dump cleanup.
  2. Intentional Deception: The Bush Administration willfully misled the public about the size and nature of Iraq's WMD program in order to scare people into supporting the war.

Most Likely Truth:
A little bit of both. We know that nuclear and other weapons sites were looted in the aftermath of major conflict, along with museums, schools, hospitals, banks and just about everything else. However, taking into account the CIA's protests that its intelligence was ignored and that the Pentagon admits it was running it's own in-house intel operation that produced only friendly results, it seems clear that there was also some deception going on.

The Bottom Line: Bush Lied, People Died.

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Dean Dollop

On the heels of my recent declaration that Howard Dean is the Internet Candidate, I saw a post over on Daily Kos which suggested that one of Dean's favorite movies was Bullworth. I don't know the veracity of that report, but I like the idea of Dean as the Bullworth candidate too. In addition to laughing a lot -- and being temporarily blinded by Hallie Barry's thong strap -- I was genuinely excited by the prospect which that movie set forth: a politician who gets turned-on by hip-hop and stops speaking in the vernacular of bullshit. I actually found it quite exciting.

Someone call Mos Def and see if he wants to issue an endorsement, or we could go corporate and go after Puffy, Russel Simmons and Jay-Z. They're taking their business seriously; it's only a matter of time before they start being players in national politics. The hip-hop vote cuts across racial and class lines, and it would be a peach to get some tight beats behind the doctor. Maybe Al Sharpton can broker something later on down the line.

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Image Overload

Here's a thought: everyone can tell you that JFK was the first TV-elected president. Without those debates and Nixon looking like shit while Kennedy shone like a god-child, it would have been a very different election. That was back when television was our symbol of progress. Today, the use of TV trickery has been mastered to its utmost by the Bush administration, but there's a new thing brewing. The TV is on it's way out, and the net is on it's way in.

The growing adoption of personal publishing via the internet is leading to a substantial shift in how people make decisions. Bullshit it harder to pass off, whether you're a corporation trying to cook the books or a politician trying to pull a fast one. Too many people are watching, pointing out the man behind the curtain. Mark my words, the net is going to have as much impact on American politics as TV did, and it should be a very good thing. I don't know how this election will go -- though since my man Howard Dean is the internet candidate, I hope this is the year the net breaks through -- but when today's teenage bloggers and community-makers are taking up the reins of state, the political landscape will be vastly different than it is today.

Hopefully the bi-directional and participatory nature of the internet will have an invigorating effect on civic life. Hopefully the core tennants of transparency, open-source and best-practice standards will penetrate the collective consciousness, replacing the current paradigm of stagecraft, chicanery and celebrity-worship. Hopefully we're going to see a positive, global, people-centric information revolution and not a feudal, big brother info-lockdown in the future. A lot of that depends on which direction this country is led over the next decade. Total information awareness or total information freedom. It's also about the soul of the political process: when you've consistantly got less than 60% voter turnout, democracy is ailing as a viable system.

There's a strong sense of purpose about these things.

Serindipity! As I post this, I find my original internet role-model Justin Hall is also piqued by Dean. Something big is going to happen. Radiohead says it in the best song on their new album, so at some point the kids are going to believe. "We don't want a monster taking over." Indeed.

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