Digby, pointed as ever:

If Obama were to succeed in fixing the economy, re-regulating the financial system, enacting health care and a modern environmental and energy policy, the right would be discredited for a couple of generations — and the wealthy would lose many of their unfair advantages under a fair and equitable system. They not only do not want to take that chance, they also see this crisis as an opportunity to bury liberal economics and end the government programs that ensure a stable and prosperous society with a vast middle class. The stakes are huge for both sides.

Those of you expecting the republicans to pause and reflect on the previous eight years are sorely mistaken. The future health and well-being of our people and our republic will be decided in the next two years; the rich and powerful will leave nothing to chance.

Regrettably, we are sorely unprepared for this battle.

Abby knows I love my stories, in this case the 75 or so blogs I subscribe to and read regularly (believe me, at one point it was over 150, so this is nothing). Most tend to be meaty, and incredibly satisfying to me, but this complexity creates a barrier to entry. (And yes, I am aware that I do the same thing here.)

I know not everyone knows or cares about these or any other blogs, but people just like you and me are doing incredible work to uncover the truths about our recent past and define a more harmonious way forward. As I read them, I always search for the one sentence or couple of paragraphs that really cut to the heart of the matter; and when I blog about them here, I want to share with you something that’s immediate and obvious, easily digestible and eminently repeatable.

I hope to find a better way to simplify and amplify these ideas, but for now I’m more interested in identifying what strikes me as illustrative and meaningful. With that in mind, here are a few gems from this past week:

  • Environmentalism: “We’ve also got to toss aside the mindset that the status quo is reasonable.” Imagine What Comes After Green by World Changing.
  • Patriotism: “It’s one thing for gluttony to be an individual right, cherished as much as freedom of speech. It’s quite another for it to be a rite of patriotism. And it’s still another for it to put us in direct conflict with other nations that profit from and/or reject the monetary policy that piggishness requires.” Outeat Them Back To the Stone Age by The Cunning Realist.
  • Conservatism: “The labor movement is the greatest anti-poverty program in American history, but to the corporate profiteers, it means one less yacht in the harbor.” Sam’s Club Conservatism by dday at Digby’s blog.
  • Corporatism: “Do we need razors with ten blades — or a single blade that never dulls?” America’s Addiction and the New Economics of Strategy by Umair Haque. This post truly requires a more complete quote:

    Let’s re-examine the house of cards that is the global financial system. Emerging markets seek export-led growth: they undervalue their currencies, so their exports are more competitive purely in terms of price. That’s essentially a subsidy to consumers on the other side of the table — those in the developed world. As emerging markets accumulate surpluses, they recycle them: they lend them back to the US and UK in the form of government and mortgage debt, stabilizing their economies, and amplifying the existing consumption subsidy through leverage.

    Amplifying that artificial cheapness is the simple fact the true costs of production haven’t been factored in — until now: very real costs like pollution, community fragmentation, and abusive labour standards.

    So we’ve been able to consume mercilessly and remorselessly — with no regard for the human, social, or environmental consequences, to us or to others.

    It’s not just cheap oil we’re addicted to: it’s cheap everything. And the world we’re entering isn’t really of Peak Oil as it is one of Peak Consumption.

    But consumption wasn’t the only choice we could have made. We could have chosen, instead, to invest. In what? In anything: anything would have been a more sensible choice than naÏve consumption — education, energy, healthcare, transportation, even a more sensible and rational kind of finance.

    Umair is almost single-handedly moving this entire discussion forward.

  • John McCain: “McCain’s primary talent has always been his ability persuade simple-minded people (i.e. his media cheerleading claque) that he is flipping or flopping as a matter of great personal principle and at great possible cost to his political career — even as he has used his various flips and flops to climb the greased pole and become the presidential nominee of his party.” The Great White Hope by Billmon at Daily Kos. Here’s more:

    Now, finally, all that hard work and twisting and turning have paid off, and McCain IS the GOP establishment candidate. In April, as Clinton and Obama were tearing into each other (or rather, as she was tearing into him) the McCain campaign clearly saw an advantage in positioning their guy above the fray, as the “kinder, gentler” candidate — the better to pick off supporters of the loser in the Democratic primary race. Thus McCain’s promise to run a “respectful campaign.” (He didn’t explain that what he meant was respect for HIM.)

    But McCain and his new team of Rovian handlers now realize they won’t have a prayer in November unless they can motivate the conservative base and (to use Lee Atwater’s charming phrase) “strip the bark” off Obama. And they have to do it NOW, so McCain can pivot back to a softer, more upbeat message in September.

    So that’s exactly what McCain is doing – instantly, unapologetically, without shame or embarrassment. His enormous cynicism about the political process and his contempt for the voters – not to mention his vast sense of self-entitlement – have led McCain to take exactly the same low road as the Bush family and its various henchmen (Atwater, Rove): Whatever works; whatever it takes.

    Billmon quit blogging at Whiskey Bar a few years ago, but I never unsubscribed — it’s the only dinosaur in my feedreader! Needless to say, I was thrilled to see this new post at the Great Orange Satan. It’s a lengthy post, but well-worth the read, and I guarantee you will never see anything written about McCain that’s as open or brutally honest as this is.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that George W. Bush’s Republican party is hell-bent on preserving the political and economical status quo in America with the election of John McCain. Baring that increasingly impossible feat, they will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who attempts to call any of their policies into question. Which is the perfect segue into this:

  • Me: “Scepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be sceptical about matters of large consequences, and be imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic.” Rules for Living from Nassim Taleb by Barry Ritholtz.

I have had this inverted for much too long. Even as I railed against the powers that be, my skepticism has always been directed inward. At me. Never willing to trust my instincts. Always questioning the fitness of my ideas and doubting my power to critique, curate, and communicate a more considerate and compelling narrative.

If you read through any of my earlier posts, you’ll see this theme emerge time and time again. Until now, I never realized the barrier was my own relationship to my strengths and the things that make me, well, me.

Truly, finding my voice and using my gifts to bring about a more honest and equitable world is not a matter of large consequence, it’s small and aesthetic. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. And that freedom to be imperfect, foolish, and human is incredibly liberating.

I have long been a John Edwards fan, but I haven’t been ready or willing to commit to his candidacy until now. It certainly seems to me that he has really caught fire in the past few weeks, and I don’t believe I’m the only one who’s noticed. I just hope it isn’t too late.

I am especially thrilled with the fact that he has continued to attack the rich and powerful, especially those who have bought and paid for our leaders in Washington. Edwards recently said, “We’re not gonna have an auction in Iowa, we’re gonna have an election. We’re gonna decide who the best candidate is, not who the person is who can raise the most money.” This is a refreshing and much needed change after seven long years of bush league government sold to the highest bidder.

Contrary to popular belief, the presidency of George W. Bush has not been a failure. Rather, I submit to you that he and his Republican party have been quite successful in the things they set out to do. The sad fact is that those things were never meant to benefit me and you — it was always about enriching themselves and the people that put them in power. Nothing more and nothing less.

There is a undeniable wave of authentic populism in America right now. You see it in Ron Paul’s fund-raising numbers, in Mike Huckabee’s overnight emergence from relative obscurity, and in the deep emotional response to John Edwards. Very few Americans have shared in the Bush boom, and many are truly struggling to make ends meet. We also have very real concerns about the priorities of our government and our standing in the world.

John Edwards is clearly a threat to the status quo, and those who stand to lose their unfair advantage under an Edwards administration have made a concerted effort to silence his critiques and eliminate his message from our political discourse. But that just makes an ad (via Digby) like this one even more powerful:

Doug Bishop says, “I’m gonna do my best to make sure that my children aren’t the first generation of Americans that I can’t look them in the eye and say ‘you’re gonna have a better life than I did.” Both he and I believe that Edwards is the only candidate on either side who can make that happen.

I sincerely hope he gets the chance. It will be the fight of a lifetime, but one that desperately needs to happen and one that we can win with a President John Edwards.

Digby on Rudy:

I’m finding myself more and more obsessed with the Giuliani campaign because it really appears to me that the Republicans may just nominate someone dumber than Bush and crazier than Cheney. And without the morals of either of them. How is that even possible?

I hate to say it but I think she might be right.

On the monumental misjudgment that is George W. Bush’s War on Terror for oil in Iraq, and the fact that we will be dealing with his failures for many years to come, Digby saidbest:

The world is running out of oil and the US government wanted to insure that they had a permanent beachhead in the biggest oil rich region in the world. What a good idea to turn it into an anarchic free fire zone in the process. But as Henley and Drum both point out, it will probably end eventually.

I wonder what would have happened if they’d spent the trillion or two (by the time it’s all done) on alternative energy instead.

Not only has Bush failed to get the oil, he’s also squandered our national treasure and tarnished our prestige. His last remaining chance at vindication is to wait until one of the many Iraqi factions vanquishes the others, so that he too can declare victory. If we leave now, there is no glory for Bush. Is it any wonder he will not end this war? This is all about Bush now, we are all just pawns in the game…

So don’t ever let anyone say there is no difference between the two parties. The Dems are flawed to be sure, but the Republicans have consistently held this man in high esteem, pronouncing him a visionary and a great leader (and now cleverly punt that final judgment down the road so that ‘history’ may decide once and for all).

But we don’t need to wait for some mythical or mystical date in the future, only Bush does. The rest of us can plainly see that he, his administration, and his Republican party have completely and entirely lost it all. They stood behind him and cheered, even as it became abundantly clear he had blown it. We are much worse off then when he started, and have since lost seven years of money and enterprising effort to chart a more prudent course.

America will recover, as she always does, and soon shine more brightly than ever before.

Let us make sure that Bush and his Grand old Republican Party do not.

Slowly catching up on the past two weeks…

John Gruber, on the unique constraints and enormous potential of the iPhone interface, saidbest:

The iPhone’s screen measures just 3.5 inches, but it’s now the biggest frontier in interface design.

I am so much more dependent on my iPhone after traveling for the past two weeks. It performed flawlessly. In fact, I have since become very attached to Twitter’s mobile interface (it’s much less cluttered) and I am truly blown away by the iPhone specific Facebook interface (though far from perfect, it may be the one thing that keeps me interested in Facebook, for now). I have an idea for game too, but no idea how to make it happen. =)

Fred Wilson, on the near ubiquity of Twitter and his desire (mine too) to see it work natively with Facebook, saidbest:

I want to use Twitter to update my Facebook status. I don’t update my Facebook status. I twitter it to my blog, my friends phones, and countless other places on the web. I hope that Facebook will be another of those places soon.

Easy prediction: Twitter is the next big thing for everyone. My mom will never join Facebook, but I bet she’s following my tweets by year’s end, and adding her own shortly thereafter. Without a doubt.

Khoi Vinh, on consuming information online not for convenience alone but for the opportunity to do something with it, saidbest:

But, truth be told, the lion’s share of my recreational non-fiction reading happens online now. It’s not just that the diversity of content and the immediacy of that content is so much richer online, it’s the fact that there’s so much more one can do with content when it lives online.

Even my modest attempts at joining the conversation are incredibly satisfying and richly rewarding. I find I’m much more engaged with my thoughts, more coherent in their expression, and more passionate in their application (no doubt much to my father’s dismay).

Seth Godin, on using contrast to define an identity, saidbest:

One of the hardest things to do is invent a brand with no opposite. You don’t have an anchor to play against.

Perfectly obvious, yet often forgotten, and even then rarely done well. See the following for proof.

Digby, on the overwhelming data that indicates an incredible opportunity for Democrats to change the terms of debate in America, saidbest:

But you have to be optimistic, at least, that the American people are eager to hear a new story. The question is whether the Democrats can tell it.

I have some thoughts here, as you might imagine. Now if only I can find the time…

Peter Semmelhack, on the absolute brilliance of his just-announced Fred Wilson-backed company, BUG Labs, saidbest:

So what is BUG exactly? It’s Legos meets Web services & APIs. Imagine being able to build any gadget you wanted by simply connecting simple, functional components together. Now imagine being able to easily program, share and connect these gadgets in interesting ways. In essence, we’re building an open source-based platform for programmers to build not only the applications they want but the hardware to run it on.

You had me at legos. Sign me up now!!

Umair Haque on the creative bankruptcy, strategic blunders, and epic failure of imagination of old media’s new internet plays, saidbest:

More simply: before you can worry about capturing value, you’ve gotta understand how value is created.

There is a lifetime of wisdom in that one simple sentence, and a fortune for whomever figures out how best to apply it.

John Edwards, on the dichotomy of being hopeful by nature but incredibly frustrated by world we have allowed George W. Bush to dictate, saidbest:

“I’m a naturally optimistic person who feels an outrage that should be expressed, and I think that will come across as genuine and authentic. There is no strategy to it. I just have to be myself.”

This is me to a tee. Consider yourself warned. =)

On the 2008 Presidential election, and the blatantly bigoted and increasingly dictatorial “Rush Limbaugh inspired” platform of the republicans, Digby saidbest:

In spite of their paeans to patriotism and religion, I have always believed that the heart of the conservative movement was really just simple racism and authoritarianism and all their bleating about “values” is a nothing more than a weapon with which to hit Democrats over the head. After all, the highest rates of divorce, single motherhood and abortion are in the deepest of conservative red states. There’s a lotta preachin’ but not a lot of practicin’.

And on Rudy Guiliani in particular:

He has to go straight for the Republican id. And unsurprisingly the polls indicate that the Republican base is liking what it hears. And why wouldn’t they? Rudy’s campaigning as if he were a right wing talk show host. They didn’t care that Rush was a thrice married drug addict and they don’t care that Rudy’s a thrice married, pro-choice cross dresser. They just hate Democrats, period, and they don’t care what you do or even what you believe, as long as you hate Democrats too. Rudy is the first full-blown dittohead presidential candidate.

We’ll have to see if the country at large wants to take a trip to Limbaughland in the general, but if I had to guess, I’d say Rush’s schtick is way tired except to the hardocre talk radio haters. To the public at large it sounds like political Hootie and the Blowfish — a bunch of bad songs that were way overplayed and are now hideous reminders of an era that’s mercifully passed.

I do hope she’s right, but we have been waiting for the right’s implosion for far too long now For some strange reason the left continues to bail them out — witness their most recent capitulation on the TSP bill Bush pushed through Congress. Whatever happened to “When your opponent is drowning, throw the son of a bitch an anvil.”

I knew it, and wished I would have said it then. Can someone, anyone, please tell me why we now must find the “facts” buried on the opinion pages, while innuendo and spin masquerade parade unchallenged by the truth?

Digby, as usual, cuts through the clutter and puts the entire Bush presidency into focus (my emphasis in bold):

We can impeach and maybe we will. And maybe we’ll remove Bush and Cheney and Gonzales and send a powerful message about the usurpation of the constitution. But no matter what, this is ultimately something the people have to rectify at the ballot box. All constitutional power derives from us. We are the ones who have to make a stand, not just 67 men and women in the Senate. We must vote them out. And we must keep them out until this radical conservative movement is so discredited that they can never again take the radical step of ruling this nation with one president and 34 obedient senators as if they were ordained by God instead of the people of this nation.

I would hope that everyone can see that presidential impeachment isn’t an end in itself. It’s a very serious intervention by the congress into the heart of our democratic system — it seeks to remove a duly elected president and it simply must be ratified by the people or we will have weakened the constitution even more by doing it. It is elections that are the foundation of democracy and what gives real legitimacy to the government. Surely if we believe it is the Democratic congress’ duty to impeach, we must also believe it is our duty to ensure that these people are repudiated by the citizens in no uncertain terms.

No matter what happens in the congress over the next year, I hope that everyone recognizes that the single most important thing that has to happen is that we kick the Republican party so far out of power they have to have a passport to get back in.

I am far from a student of history, but even I now realize that we must never rest when it comes to projecting our voices, protecting our rights, and protesting endlessly when either one is trampled.

This is not a Democratic issue, this is an American issue. They — meaning Bush, Cheney, Gonzales, and the entire Republican party — have so fundamentally perverted what it means to be an American. We cannot and must not let it stand. The truth must be told, the air must be cleared; then we must continue to tell the truth and keep the air clear, so that we are never again confronted with such a brazen attack on our way of life.

These men are not patriots, they are criminals. But they have not only wrapped themselves in the flag, they have justified their actions with God and the Bible. It will not be easy to break their spell on a good portion of America, but it must be done.

On the subject of the war in Iraq and the desire of George W. Bush and his Republican party to cling to some semblence of success, even if it takes decades to materialize, Digby saidbest:

To blithely wave away the current horror on the ground and say that the death and destruction in Iraq will someday be seen as “worth it” and rest easy believing that future generations will thank us for our generous decision to invade their country and unleash hell is morally repugnant. I would say it is far more likely that they will never forgive us.

I sincerely hope that the American people wake up in time to see what the Bush presidency has done to them, so that we do not elect another Bush clone (or worse) to replace him.

On the subject of the Republican Party and the anti-choice movement, Digby saidbest:

So let’s not fool ourselves. It’s not about children. It’s about women. And that means it is simply more conservative resistance to the long march of progress this country has made toward equal rights for all its citizens. The same philosophy that fought tooth and nail against every advance made to ensure that this is truly a free country by denying equal rights to all its citizens also animates those who argue that the rights of the fetus are paramount. It’s just another way of ensuring that the rights of women aren’t.

And once you recognize that you realize that there is no way to fudge this or work around the edges. Every time you forget that you create the rhetorical space for the other side to make their argument more explicit — which is now happening in all its full frontal glory on the Supreme Court of the United States. Women are either free citizens or they’re not.

I remember talking with Vernon Ferrier prior to the 2000 election, and being shocked at his insistence that George W. Bush would slowly but surely turn back the clock on women’s rights. I wrongly assumed that the law was settled, even we as a society were not. But after the past six plus years, it’s clear that is the goal of his policy. And because of that I now know there is no other way to see this battle: “Women are either free citizens or they’re not.”