Thursday, March 09, 2006

A few words of humility

I just want to thank whatever fool nominated me for a Koufax, Jason. But it is true, I have actually had a few visitors from the great beyond.

I just want to say to all you gentle visitors that I know I am not worthy of such an actual honor. I do hope you like my odd little take on things, and hope I can muster something of interest to a few of you during this time.

The blogville sweeps week, heh. Well, anyway, go check out our radio station. They deserve a visit.

Cheers all,
-swift.

Gotta get my two bits in

So a friend of mine says of the ports deal that there's no question it will go through. He points out that this is just a money grab. $5.6B in cash is already in the accounts of somebody out there, just waiting for a few details before it becomes usable.

He's got a point. Not chump change. Furthermore, it's not as if the owners of DP World are increasing their capital. This is a rights deal. $5.6 billion for the right to operate what, six ports for twenty years? Something like that. For that kind of money, this thing is getting done.

The problem, though, is that this is inspiring cognative dissonance in the group Dave Neiwert called "transmitters" It's very hard for the demagogic, zinger-slingin' right-wing media agents to find an angle to work on this.

Their audience has been trianed for years to be bigots. The verbal onslaught puts the listener in a position of power by highlighting the target's otherness. Almost always. Now, with this deal, the "bad guy" is buying into the system, so you can't attack them from the same angle. The troops still want to, though. For the Fox News set, arab = bad.

But it's the other side of the equation that nobody really wants to talk about. The people who want this deal done are the sellers. By facilitating the diversification of the Sheiks' business interests many ends are being furthered, and none of them are germane to mainstream political converstaion in any U.S. demographic group. First and foremost is the vassal-state relationship (and cash flow) between the Sheiks and the financial hegemons of the West. Second is the gray- and black-market shipping that benefits so much of the political economy both outside and inside the U.S. Third is the further internationalization of trade and labor that so benifits the "ownership society."

There's more, I'm sure, but what's important is that the existence, power and aims of the beneficiaries of this deal make people uncomfortable. That's the elephant in the room. And it's why, even after some face-saving shuffle is worked out, that people all over the political spectrum will continue to point to it as a harbinger of W's decline.

What's interesting is that we have to assume that these "interests" are either politically indifferent to the Republican Party or that they don't mind maneuvering anybody over a barrel. Perhaps especially some boob who actually thinks he runs the show.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Watching rocks wait

Watching rocks wait
for waves of time and passion
we tilt with the spin of the world

So easy to believe
that rocks feel time slow
they sit with such unambiguous patience

Stillness pervades
The crash of the waves does not move us
Is nowness long? It certainly is lingering.

The seagull dips fast
The wind lifts her alight
We feel the wave rising afore us again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Gut Feeling

It's ajust a hunch and you know it would never come to light, but the Dubai Port deal is a setup. S-E-T-U-P.

Check it, everybody is jumping on this guy now. The big question it leaves is not what happens to Bush, his time is over. The question is under what program do we govern? Who determines it?

The Republicans have set policy exclusively for a good while, and this is their failure. But the tendedncy will be to tar and feather Bush but let the basic program keep rolling.

The non-opposition party nominally called Democrats will likely do nothing to establish an alternative narrative but this would be a great time to do so. Strike while the iron is hot.

As for the setup, everybody wanted this guy out, he's been a miserable failure. So he will go down as a very early lame duck. The question for interested journalists and bloggers is who actually put the deal together, especially if Bush officially didn't know about it.

Cheers,
Swift.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Humor as a Force Driving Historic Events

Who has not made a joke about our Darth Vader-esqe VP? I dressed up as him for Halloween in '04 (I thought it would be my last chance). He is a scary man.

We are emerging today from the first shooting by an office-holder since the Hamilton-Burr business in the very early days of the country, when we were still a Republic.

How does something like this happen? And I don't mean old men drinking and wandering around with guns, although that seems an obvious enough bad idea. What I am getting at is a bit more obscure and bizarre.

When I have been a part of momentous events, I have frequently noticed an aura or "charge" to the time leading up to and during those events. It is almost as if the magnitude of the implications of an event impinge upon the space time surrounding the event.

It is as if, not literally, but with a sense that somehow echoes our more mundane senses, there is a ringing in the ears, a numinous light that suffuses the edges of the field of vision. Actions seem propelled by their inner logics and time slightly distends, leaving a feeling of lag or echo.

So what was the scene of the shooting like? These feelings I am describing surround events that shape the lives of a small group of people. When it is something that shakes the foundations of an empire, what forces are at play?

I would propose that Dick Cheney is so nasty, so without redeeming qualities and so obvious in his avarice that he created a bubble of extreme tension within the National Consciousness.

We needed some way to deal with this. It is no secret that he is a bad guy. You could use him as an example to teach children that bad guys do exist. I told you I dressed up as him for halloween. Let me ask you- have you ever tried to make your face do what his does? It is not easy, yet it is a habitual and ordinary movement of his facial muscles. The infamous sneer of Vice President Cheney betrays an emotional visciousness that can only make polite, concerned patriots of mild temperment and middle age extremely uncomfortable. It is difficult to imagine the man being pleasant at all, for any reason. He is not avuncular, he appears incapable of kindness.

The cognitive dissonance of the mass of Americans, who hold at various levels of their awareness a distate and discomfort with this man, shaped the space around this shooting. Now we can laugh. Laughing is close to crying, after all. Now we can collectively process what has become a very public embarassing family secret.

The funny question that occurred to me was, what did he say after he shot Mr. Whittington? My thought was, "Next time, two hundred thousand." A freind of mine suggested simply, "Got 'im!"

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A Difficult Truth in the Midst of a Nasty Situation

I was talking today with my mom. I was trying to convince her to watch the Al Gore speech. She didn't want to because it would only depress her due to the fact that little if anything could come of it. During the course of the conversation she broadly derided blogs as being a bunch of people talking to each other and not producing any organization to speak of. It was worthy of thought.

The problem, as a few others have recently noted, is that the Democratic Party leadership does not read us. They do not, in an real sense, know we exist. It brings to mind the metaphor of sports radio. People call in to the sports radio channel and argue for or against the Vikings dumping Duante Culpepper (who just asled for a RAISE after a horrible 1/2 season and a serious knee injury ) and who, exactly are they talking to? And it occurred to me that that's it, we are just like that. Talking to the coaches and GMs of the party, who don't even ever listen to the show.

This is the nasty situation. Jonathan Weiler nails it over at the Gadflyer, saying of Elaine Kamarck (writing at Ruy Teixera's site):

So, whom does Kamarck propose to carry a strongly critical message to the American people, one capable of demonstrating real differences between the parties, not only regarding the administration's over-reaching on the war on terror but its failures on national security more generally: Hilary? Lieberman? Bayh? Biden? How are any of these folks going to make it clear to the American people that they stand for a meaningfully different, and better, understanding of how to protect America? As posted on Tom Paine today, Molly Ivins raises serious doubts about whether centrists like these are up to the task, on national security and other issues.


Molly Ivins, for her part, brings some her strongest writing ever to bear on the task. She asks, pointedly,

What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (65 percent) of the American people want single-payer health care and are willing to pay more taxes to get it. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (66 percent) wants to reduce the deficit not by cutting domestic spending, but by reducing Pentagon spending or raising taxes.

The majority (77 percent) thinks we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment. The majority (87 percent) thinks big oil companies are gouging consumers and would support a windfall profits tax. That is the center, you fools. WHO ARE YOU AFRAID OF?


And this brings me back to my talk with my mom. She was livid with the Democrats. She was even angry with Hillary. My mom was in Beijing for the Women's Conference in 1995. She has steadily and proudly anticipated Hil's run for Pres for years.

I am asking now, Who are you, Democratic Party?! How do we speak to you? That is what we are doing here, and if the level of brains displayed by Harry Reid on Lehrer is the best you've got, if the facts of The American Prospect's recent scoop on Democratic Party polling are true (via Digby), what in God's name are you going to do? You do not have the brains to respond to this.

Go Home! Declare it over, quit and let somebody with guts take your place! This is a dire cultural situation and we are too damn busy trying to keep our financial ends met to try to change the system with pot and rock concerts any more.

(For my part, I have thought this somewhat the crux of the matter for some time now. As I was writing in my recent post about John Lennon, our expectations are overwhelmingly shaped by what happened in the early '70s. I get the sense, today, of a sort of subliminal cultural puzzlement (much of it from boomers like my mom) about why no one is in the streets protesting this slow march to totalitarianism. And the answer, of course is that no one has time. That, and like I said, no draft.)

Which brings us to the difficult truth. If we can't stop it, we are slowly marching towards a discontinuity in our governmental structure.

If we can't get the Democrats to listen to us, they will keep losing, and as Al Gore so straightforwardly points out, our Constitution will either change or become meaningless. And that's the nasty, nasty truth. Because nobody else is telling the Democrats this. And if they can't hear us then they will keep believing the poison mirror of the oligarchs' media.

Maybe we need to have a liberal blogospheric position and lobbying event. Develop a platform, take small donations on the Dean model and start targeting specific legislators and party officials. I wonder if the Governor himself wouldn't give us some suggestions where to start. Otherwise, what are we doing here?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Holy Fuck.

Al Gore is reborn. The change is not only thorough but deep, and will be a lasting one. He is now a man who knows what conviction is. We should all write all of our congresspeople and ask if they have watched his speech and ask that they make public shows of support.

I have only one real thought that I want to share this moment with those who come to read my musings, and it has two parts. The basic thought (which I have not seen mentioned elsewhere) is that as a former Vice President, Mr. Gore enjoys certain priveledges. One is a lifelong dispatchment of dedicated Special Service teams, the most advanced security one human being can be provided. Another priveldge he enjoys is the right to a daily security briefing at a level of security clearance coequal with the Office of the President.

Ok, one more thought. There has been a great deal of thought expended be pretty much all of us on the activist and committed liberal end of the political spectrum since 2001. Our efforts have centered around how we will find a place in a nation that is clearly headed for an uncertain future. Al Gore has had a personal involvement on those moments which led to our introspections, and he gets it. Thank God, he really does understand the gravity of this moment in history, and he respects the part he has been given to play.

Go to C-SPAN, watch the speech.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Jottings from a busy man..

Well, started school today. It's something being 30 and entering a major university as a transfer student.

One thing that impresses me is just how many people are there. Maybe because the age groupong is so narrow (and race/demographics, too), it becomes slightly overwhelming. The little (and very diverse) community college I had been attending was full of friendly people. Here, where there are overwhelming numbers of relatively similar people, there seems little impetus for small talk. There would be no real likelihood of connecting again, after all, so why bother?

I have one class in the social sciences building. It is a place marked by subtle indications of a population that feels need to dig in, facing an onslaught. I do not blame them. Academics are often killed first. It did make me really think, however, about how very much sound thought is guarded in academia. Even given the obvious shortcomings of the institution there is a great deal worth protecting.

Yesterday was MLK Day. I saw my son sing in his community choir at the local childrens' museum. They sang a variation of "We Shall Overcome." I was reminded just how radical an act belief can be, when the belief is something that flies in the face of history and precedence. We are in need of reminders regarding the odds faced by the civil rights movement. We should be honored to be able to inherit thier lessons.

Peace,
-swift

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Irony strikes again: Bird Flu in Turkey

Disclaimer: This post has nothing directly to do with its title.

The end is nowhere near here, but somehow it is easy to believe it is.

Watching the History Channel's show on John Lennon tonight brought home the differences between 1972 and today. The difference is not that the FBI isn't spying on us. The difference is that in the Viet Nam era there were tens of thousands of protesters living in ways that made the FBI's monitoring attempts very difficult.

Today we politely blog from home, secure that our aliases present to the world only the face we want seen. We are fools.

The Republic our founders so quixoticly handed off to us some two hundred plus years ago is dying tonight in Washinton D.C. "Conservative" legal scholars are dancing in the streets and Democrats are standing by the hospital bed offering milquetoast and off-topic rebuttals.

The majority of our contry is asleep at the wheel. Out here in the hinterlands of the liberal blogosphere we are heartened by stories of yore, Nixon's landslide in '72 before his ignominous fall. Well, for years before his fall there had been civil unrest rocking the easychairs of the middle-American householders. Today there is only a feeble bleating. The absense of the Draft and its concomitant deaths makes all of today's challenges to democracy seem abstract.

Today there is a growing sense of unreality as ever worse offenses against common sense and the principles of Liberty and Justice are only pooh-poohed, and yet the day-to-day living of basically all of us remains unchanged. Our lives are unaffected by these viscious blows to our collective dignity because quite frankly, we've mostly given up that dignity years ago. We sacrificed it piecemeal, taking jobs we knew were complicit in the moral quagmire of modern business because we were bereft of better choices.

Even those of us who haven't compromised ourselves this way have grown somehow used to losing. We have seen the futility of every kind of straegem and organization. We have witnessed the rise and dominance of hard cash and plutocratic control and we have despaired even as we railed against it all. And we have watched television. We have sat benumbed as it all floated away. There is no fabric of public gathering left, and without fabric, a tapestry can tell no tales.

Somehow, though, we all believe in the fable of Nixon's fall. We believe that bad guys lose, even if good guys don't necessarily win. This irrational belief may someday be our best strength, if it ever motivates enough people to stand up. With impending news of a court that will endorse even the most foul and blatant eviscerations of Democracy, I hope that people are ready.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

But before I go...

One big, multi-part question.

Stroll around the lefty blogs, Mathew Gross, Bottle of Blog>, TPM, Hullabaloo, etc. and ask yourself, is this a different universe? Do the emplyees of newspapers and TV news just eat gray mush all the time? Is that why there is no sense of the magnitude or very close proximity of political uproar?

Or is it something else? Do the reporters know what's going on any more? Certainly Andrea Mitchell, wife of Alan Greenspan, has an inkling (follow the TPM link), but what about the writers at major daily newspapers? What about the folks producing news segments for the networks? Because it's either that they don't know or they just don't want to talk about it.

More than any of the other stuff (at least at the moment) this makes me worried. This silence portends denial of a serious sort, the kind that can progress to dangerous, stultifing depths. Once this kind of denial starts to become really ingrained (like, a year or two ago), it becomes hard to change it. Where is the great catalyst that shakes the media rubes from their torpor? And what if there isn't one big shock but maybe a series of small bumps? The kind of bumps one might feel as an oligarchic semi-democracy goes off-road, veering slowly toward the swamps of despotism? How would the docile, sleep-walking media cover it?

Just a question.

STATUS UPDATE: PENDING

Already suffering mild blog-fatigue, and also somewhat dizzy from the exigencies of everyday life, I looked up and realized that I was shortly to be entering a vortex. That is to say my transfer admission orientation to the bureaucratic behemoth is tomorrow, and since I am as usual a 5n-dimensional piece going into a space desingned for rectilinear 3-d packages, I will be very busy for the next few weeks as I complete my obeisances to the ancient gods of inconvenience and bother.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The beginning of a useful idea

Warning: Very speculative ramblings! (No, I wasn't high, it just reads like I was.)

Balance and bringing balance. The fine art of strectching ones capacities in a way that develops precedented areas of strength while building capacity in underdeveloped areas so as to provide stability. I see the opportunity for a new naming of a dynamic. This would be a part of homeostasis, the compelling movement towards homeostasis.

This is the challenge of all contained entities. (What the living fuck is a 'contained entity' you ask? Well, I'll tell you what I mean by that.) A contained entitiy is any living being or organization thereof whose limits are easily demonstrated. A nation, a corporation, a person. Less true of a family, but sometimes and in some ways, sure. Not any kind of ecosystem that is not threatened. Communities vary, some are very open-ended, diverse or philosophically sound enough that they could be considered as uncontained. The important thing is the demonstrability of the limits of the entity in question.

Anyway, that's my whole point. Different demands based on this ill-defined variable, which can be seen at a wide variety of scales.

For groups of less demonstrable limits, the compelling movement towards homeostasis can be applied to the organizing principles of the group rather than the specific members and their established functions. Communities within science, art and philosophy are examples of this aspect of the dynamic. Existentialists failed to develop those elements of the organizing principles of their community that could have provided better stability, and thus had a very short moment of initial prominence. Newtonian physicists have done a much better job by comparison, stretching into fluid dynamics and the physics of atomic interactions even when the Tao (flow) and "quantum" reality are categorically beyond the limits of their purview.

As a counterpoint to this idea, I suppose that we could also say if an entity is very specifically focused in purpose and also well established in its context, it can be said to have enough strength and balance that the demands of this dynamic are less pronounced. I am thinking here of species niches at any level of ecosystem (including the role of various cells in a body, paramecia, etc.) Also in this group would be particularly well adapted/established organizations, such as trade groups like the National Association of Manufacturers. However, even for entities in this situation, the situation is changed in intensity rather than kind.

Trade unions are an example of a whole category of entity that have largely failed to respond to this demanding dynamic.

Also implied by my proposal (demonstrated very clearly by the example of trade unions) is the existence of a complementary dynamic, the continuing change at any given specificity of environment.

. . .

Why yes, I have been practicing my T'ai Chi. Why do you ask?

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Whew.

Thank goodness that's over. Let's get on.. wait. That schmuck's still president? Arrrghh! @*$#! @*$#! @*$#! @*$#!!!

Welcome to 2006. Remember to be good to each other.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Decisive action + no casualties= Sure thing.

Raw Story, who you should all check all the time, has been linking to the interesting developments in the German press regarding the U.S. striking at Iran. The latest in Der Speigel (english), is very specific. Airstrikes soon, because of recent anti-Isreali rhetoric.

This "reason why" has the ring of truth to it. From der Speigel:
The DDP report attributes the possible escalation to the recent anti-Semitic rants by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose belligerent verbal attacks on Israel (he described the Holocaust as a "myth" and called for Israel to be "wiped off the map") have strengthened the view of the American government that, in the case of the nuclear dispute, there's little likelihood Tehran will back down and that the mullahs are just attempting to buy time by continuing talks with the Europeans.
George seems like the kind of guy who would think that talking tough is serious business. This kind of thing might be enough to get his dander up. If he feels like going on the offensive is a good way to reclaim the initiative in the domestic political debate, this would be one way to do it.

Another factor weighing in favor of W. taking this step is the looming State of the Union Address. The man has to talk about something, you know? What good news does he have?

So, lets just say it looks like 5:4 in favor, since it's still a very drastic step. If they take it, what would this mean?

Well, for starters it would hugely affect the domestic political equation in Isreal, where the last I read, Sharon is not really doing well after his stroke. Regardless of how coherent Sharon is, however, the military is certainly quite ready to go after Iran. The polis in Isreal has, of course, been finally easing a bit to the left. Bad news for W. and the neocons. If they can start something with Iran, it's a lot more likely that the yahoo Netanyahu will end up back in power.

The wider gulf states would probably stand to benefit in the short run, depending on how the strike goes. Shi'a populations in the Gulf have of course been very attentive to the goings on in southern Iraq. If the media in the Middle East can play it right, the Gulf State Shi'a will be both somewhat chastened and more loyal to their own governments. This would likely involve some combination of loudly declaiming the U.S. action (what I think of as 'diplomatic outrage') while also finding some way to criticize Iran for destabilizing the region. So far so good. The appearance of these opportunities might be enough to earn tacit approval (read: encouragement) from some of the Gulf States named in the der Speigel article.

The problem, of course, is that Iran would not be incapacitated and would probably strike back. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard are a higly independent, initiative oriented elite force. I would look for something really nasty to go down in Iraq, probably in the Green Zone. The U.S. troops have likely gotten used to being able to somewhat trust Shi'a Iraqis. Typical of any Bantustan, the locals are needed to staff basic amenities. My guess is that there are several Iranian intelligence assets working in the Green Zone. If our guys weren't constrained by ideological blinders, they would take this into account. Of course, if that were true, we wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.

Furthermore, I would not expect the general populace of Shi'a Iraq to be very happy with a U.S. airstrike in Iran. Many Iraqi Shi'a have family living in Iran, after all.

Also, there is a huge potential for bizarre nastiness with the Iran/Turkey/Kurdistan situation, should this strike take place.

At the very least, it would really complicate things. At worst we would be looking at the wider regional conflict that we have all been dreading (except the Christian "End Times" fanatics, of course, they would be thrilled). No matter what, it would make a smooth withdrawal of U.S. troops all but impossible.

Basically, this would be an idiotic move certain to lead to terrible developments; in other words, par for the course.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Okayness-ing

-Or, What I saw at the movies-

Once upon a time there was a little cartoon character with the perfectly goofy name of Spongebob. Spongebob was a humble little guy in shirt and tie, and though he worked at a fast food joint, he also championed the temporary victories of staying young in the face of impending adulthood. While this sounds at first blush to be just another push towards the elongation of childhood, it is in fact very much more.

Spongebob, you see, has the distinction of being very successful. He also has a best friend, and their relationship earned their movie a heaping ton of outcry from the carping culture-crappers of the religious right.

The fun thing is that the movie earns it. Especially if you are a guy, I strongly suggest seeing this movie. What a wonderful warping and playful twisting of the half-knowledge of incipient sexuality. What a really, really gay-and-straight-friendly film. What a bunch of very bizarrely adult visual gags. What a feel good film, and in all the borderline ways implied!

-------

There are three big thematic movements that I see shaping the development of our culture (may be more, but these three at least). Number one is the very dangerous and dramatic gyrations of political form that accompany the late stages of empire. It's the one I usually write about. Number three is the curious and oft-underestimated persistence of spiritual emergence throughout the populace. That's for another time. Second, though, is the ever increasing tolerance and understanding prevalent within our culture.

Not sure about that last one? Consider, my lady love and I recently watched Notorious, the 1946 Hitchcock film starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. A wonderful movie. There was so much wrestling with and suppressing of emotion that you could have mapped the waves of psychic energy had you sand to dance across the space between those actors. They were that tense. Of course, Hitchcock, 1946, etc.. but still, have you heard of the Eisenhower years that followed? Notoriously repressed, haha.

Today, consider, I work (in produce at a goofy, high-end, natural foods grocery) with a fellow, a family man, a few years older than me, quite the character. He tells this story one day, about the neighbor girl who comes over because her family ignores her, watches TV a lot with his family. Says to my friend that she thinks she might have an STD (she's 14). He kicks his kids (11 and younger) out of the room and goes through this very dense, emtionally laden territory in a sensitive, caring way, takes her to the clinic. A gut wrenching story, but in a big way it's really about the neglect the girl is suffering at home. I bring it up here because later on, while there's nobody else in the cooler, I take the moment to tell him I think he did exactly the right thing, and he just opens up, starts talking, sharing his worries and cares. We talk it over a bit, and later he thanks me. This would've been all but impossible in 1985, much less 1945. In 1905 our middle class jobs barely existed. Our liberal bourgoise clientele certainly had no equivalent as sizable or prominent.

Today, I still hear people use the the word 'gay' as a derogatory adjective for things or actions, and of course the hate fest of the 2004 elections is another topic entirely. However, my gay family members are not only tolerated, they are openly integrated into many folds of society. Friends and relatives who are inter-racial couples are met with nothing worse than infrequent glares, at least in my fair northern clime (another co-worker just went to visit in-laws down south and said they were not served at a restaurant on the road). What I'm getting at is that I know that prejudice and bigotry are not dead, but they are losing, and have been, steadily, for quite some time.

Once upon a time (the 1990's) I liked to reflect on how powerful I thought it would be that a whole generation was being raised without any cultural endorsement of bigotry. From "The Real World" to "Will and Grace," "American History X" to "The Bird Cage," amazing work was going on, culturally. And everywhere bigotry was a shameful thing. There were no notable examples of a proud bigot other than the extremely marginalized, for example David Duke. Then came Karl with a K, and well, the rest is recent history. All the same, though, this recent blip of backlash cannot come close in real power to the trends that have shaped popular entertainment since the birth of mass media.

There are a lot of reasons for a lot of different parts of this that I would love to get into here (and bore my one or two readers,) and I should loudly note that the popular acceptance of misogyny is profoundly, disturbingly and puzzlingly harder to combat, but I try to limit my rambles to two major topics at a time at most. Enjoy the good mood, friends, and go rent the Spogebob Squarepants Movie.

Peace,
-swift

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Silently

All the faces of the Goddess are real
aware of the answers we move about our dreams
awake or in denial we conduct our dealings
Love or dross, we spin our fables of meaning
and All our histories are real

The potential for language generation on blogs

Over the holiday madness (an empire built on the backs of retail employees), I had an opportunity to reply to this very good guest post by poputonian over at Digby's Hullabaloo. Poputonian compares the liberal blogosphere to the social environment and pamphleteering in revolutionary era Boston.

Poputonian's rumination on the variety of groups working in loosely associated fashion during Paul Revere's time was apropos. The feeling of revolution is very much in the air out here on the blogs. The people of late 18th-c. New England, however, were involved citizens in a way that is vastly different from our contemporary info-polis. Today, there is little indication that Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry or any of their friends really know what a blog is.

Congressional leadership amongst the Democrats must very much feel the point of our semi-revolutionary fervor is directed at them as well as at the corrupt heart of Washington's halls of power. And they are right to feel this. I doubt that any of the prominent, socially climbing bloggers like Markos or Josh Marshall were happy when Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. This is the sort of anti-democratic legislation that will haunt the United States for generations to come, and a lot of it came during the Clinton years.

I think I have written before about how happy I am that there is a thing called the Thirty-Something Dems Working Group in Congress. That is a good place to start. However, sooner or later we will need to address issues within the leadership of the party. The first ten minutes of Bulworth, where the senior Senator from California is hogtied by lobbyists and his own chief of staff, remain one of the most trenchant critiques of modern politics ever to see mainstream exposure. There has been no real change to this dynamic.

The locally prominent, reform minded Democrats that I talked to at a Howard Dean rally were all very cognizant of this problem. The closest any of them would get to a clear discussion of the problem, however, was to call out "special interests" and demand vague reforms. This abysmal abandoning of effective use of language was on prominent display throughout the Kerry campaign as well. Kerry was very good at talking in code words to try to indicate that he was far more liberal than he had ever really shown publicly. For my part I believe him. So what? Who knows it? Nobody. Even within the party, people are unable to speak plainly about the problems that this country faces.

Out here in flyover country, people outside of the political system are more able to talk to each other about politics than the Democrats are because the Dems realize at a subconscious level that in order to talk plainly about the systemic biases in this country they will have to explose their own indenture to the financial/insuance/medical, military/industrial/communications and marketing interests that have always had an overwhelming interest in the operation of this "democracy." The plain language that people want to hear from their politicians is difficult to manage when you are at risk of stepping on the toes of giants. Consequenty, voters are turned off by Democrats because it is clear that there are too many circuitous thought patterns and coded meanings going on when they talk.

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are starting to wake up to the fact that they are fighting for their lives. They are also not from among the Beltway in-crowd who have far too much a penchant for the hierarchies of their own society. Nancy Pelosi in particular, with her recent proclamation that there will not be one party-wide position on Iraq is opening the door to the plain use of language by Democrats.

What needs to develop now is a sense that this variety of opinion and subsequent plain language is a basic principle of the party. The Repuglicans have, after all, been crazy good at promulgating very specific memes. The Democrats can differentiate themselves from this by using widely varied, but direct language. There is an army of think-tank language engineers working for them in this capacity right now. It's us, out here in the blogoshpere. The question is whether any will notice.