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.


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.


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


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.