"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

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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Greatness Requires Discipline

I'm an opponent to conspiracy theories, see them as disempowering distractions which create endless rationalizations for complacency. At the same time, I am an unabashed fan of conspiring. It's my own little paradox of proactivity: don't waste your time trying to unravel a hidden coterie behind why the world is what it is, just get busy making your own.

Spent last night talking Redneck Socialism over pizza and beer with Face and The Girth. We're bandying the ideas of rolling up on California's Canada and implementing a takeover. Prosperous though our lives have become here, the golden state feels like barren ground for the revolution, and we've sometimes a great notion there's an opportunity to do something more than live what passes for the bourgeois American Dream (home ownership, retirement savings, etc) in this 21st Century. At the risk of some material comforts, we can be heroes. After all, risk is our business.

As Eric Schlosser points out, it's been liberals attempting to "look tough" who are largely responsible for the prison industrial complex. This kind of hollowness, this essentially immasculine fear of appearing weak, the willingness to do truly terrible things to literally millions of people... this is the quintessential malaise which infects the contemporary Democratic party, and prevents real reform.

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Brigher Moments In Politics: Mighty Oregon

Having beat a lot on the national drain-circling, I feel compelled to point out a counternote: Oregon just passed progressive tax measures to fund little things like schools and healthcare at the expense of the wealthy and corporations. In other words, the People beat the Powerful. It can be done.

How, you may ask? Well the first thing about progressive populism is you have to talk like a progressive populist, meaning you explain in no uncertain terms that you intend to address the massive inequality by requiring those who can easily afford to do so to step up and support the social contract which has benefited them so much:

Second thing you to is engage your base for God's sake. Maybe campaigning among young people or engaging unions. Give 'em something to jump and shout about at least.

Do those things, and you can win.

Behave as if you live in thrall to Zombie Regan, or as if you're an aristocrat, and you will be crushed.

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This Is What They Call "Implosion"

It looks like President Obama is about to consign himself to irrelevance:

In 1982 Ronald Reagan gave his first State of the Union address. His approval rating was about the same as Barack Obama’s now. His economic track record was considerably worse: instead of presiding over the end of a recession, he had presided over the beginning of one, and the economy was in free fall. Nonetheless, Reagan mounted an unapologetic defense of his economic ideology, combined with a harsh critique of his precedecessors.

We haven’t heard Obama’s SOTU yet. But the big news seems to be the spending freeze. What I hear from bat-squeaks is that it’s not a big deal on economic substance, and that admin officials hope it will clear the way for some modest job-creation efforts. We’ll see about that. Rhetorically, however, Obama is clearly, conspicuously endorsing his opponents’ world-view — which will buy him precisely nothing in return.

I can't really find words to capture the level of EPIC FAIL that we are approaching here. It's truly baffling. While Obama seems on balance to be a nice guy, and I don't doubt his basic smarts, he or the people he's listening to are showing themselves to be utterly politically incompetent. Meanwhile the actual dude who got him elected has been reduced to writing op eds, which the White House is ignoring.

As per Atrios, it really does seem as if the people in charge have no idea what they are doing. I think I'll probably stop writing about this until there's some change in the general downward spiral action.

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Mission Statement Draft #13419

So, the news from the centers of power is grim. Exceedingly grim. The Democratic Party is, as an institution, putting on a world-class clinic in organizational dysfunction. In complete control of the government, they have failed to make any significant achievements over the course of a full year. Their only big move, last winter's stimulus plan, has been roundly understood to be too timid, and as a result the economy, while still existent, is in a prolonged "jobless recovery" limbo.

Then last week's one-two combination of truly devastating news. First the pseduo-aristocratic nomination of a Kennedy-family apparatchik to succeed old Teddy in Massachusetts going down in flames to a right-winger in a pickup who flat out wanted it more. Scott Brown did five times as many public events as Coakly, had a hot-shit new media team (running Drupal), and surged at the end to take the win. That's Edward Kennedy's seat, going to a rather immoderate Republican, and bringing an end to the 60-vote theory of power in the Senate.

Republicans Seize 41 - 59 Senate Majority

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Feed Your Mind w/Dr. Krugman's Soup

With a little help from my friends, I had a greatly restorative holiday weekend. Bailed on Oregon travel plans, slept enormous amounts, got out into nature and into the hot tub.

So I don't have a lot to say. I'm kind of simple Buddha happy and looking forward to upcoming travel to LA, NYC, NOLA: final whirlwind before the end of the year.

In the mean-time, I suggest Dr. Krugman's brain-growth brew. He's got a couple great posts up today. One on the creeping undercurrent of political doom which mirrors my own thoughts pretty closely:

I hope I’m wrong about all this. But my sense is that to have any hope of breaking out of this trap, Obama and company have to take risks — they have to propose new initiatives that might not pass, and be prepared to run against the do-nothing Republicans if the initiatives fail. That’s not happening now; as best as I can tell, the administration strategy is to insist that only a few minor course corrections are needed, and to wait for the jobs to start coming in.

The other alerting us to the reality of PIG IN A VAT!!!:

SCIENTISTS have grown meat in the laboratory for the first time. Experts in Holland used cells from a live pig to replicate growth in a petri dish.

This is probably a good thing. A petri dish will probably yield tastier meats than feedlots, and without all the greenhouse-gas-causing methane (or ethical objections, according to PETA).

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Emancipate Yourself From Mental Slavery

Via Atrios we bounce to BoingBoing:

The internet chapter of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a secret copyright treaty whose text Obama's administration refused to disclose due to "national security" concerns, has leaked. It's bad.

There are several parallel struggles going on right now to define the form and structure of the 21st Century economy both globally and here in Estados Unidos. Some are in the headlines (health care, transitioning off carbon-based energy and dealing with climate change, reforming finance) and a couple other big ones are not.

The two things which fly under the radar are that classic favorite, the military industrial complex, which is verboten for polite political discussion, and the struggle to define the balance of power around information. In this latter struggle, we have some real choices to make, and they're pretty important.

If something like this treaty goes through, the future looks pretty damn dim for internet-enabled innovation, culture, and industry. In essence, the treaty denies non-creators any meaningful ability to "own" the information contained within products they purchase. It also creates highly restrictive requirements for "policing" infringement which will create enormous legal overhead for what are today simple staples of online life (e.g. forget about Flickr or Youtube).

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Mighty Oregon

Where we beat up on USC, and white men vote Obama.

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