As only Jim Kunstler can:

To me, GWB will remain the perfect representative of his time, place, and culture. During his years in Washington, America became a nation of clowns posturing in cowboy hats, bethinking ourselves righteous agents of Jesus in a Las Vegas of the spirit, where wishing was enough to get something for nothing, where “mistakes were made,” but everybody was excused from the consequences of bad choices. The break from that mentality will be very severe, and we may look back in twelve months and wonder how we ever fell for the whole package. The answering of that question will occupy historians for ages to come.

Never sure if reading Kunstler first thing every Monday morning is good for me or not. Hilarious, yes, but depressing too.

As you may know, I am deeply interested in politics, in particular the subtle art of crafting imagery, shaping narratives, and building harmony to create something much larger than a moment’s victory. Yes, I want a movement. Oddly enough, these past few of weeks of writing about music have taught me more about love than anything else — I believe love it is what is uniting us at this moment and that is precisely why hatred can no longer win in America.

In 2003, I was drawn back into politics by Howard Dean, the man who gave voice to a dormant and disillusioned left, and in turn tasked me to use my newfound passion to participate in the political process. I genuinely loved what Dean stood for, and under his leadership I was never completely ruled by my growing distaste for George W. Bush, but that is precisely what the election became under John Kerry: a referendum on Bush’s first term, an outlet for my contempt, and a battle against those who absolutely loved him. We all know how that turned out.

Leap forward to 2008 and our present nominee, Barack Obama. Much has been written about his ability to unite us and even more will be said if he emerges victorious, but the one thing that’s missing from the conversation is love. Let me define it: it’s a deep affection for him and each other, an openness to the moment and the opportunity, a hope and hunger for something more meaningful, and most of all a sense of wonder that this is even possible. Here we are on the verge of electing an African-American man with a decidedly foreign name to succeed the most culturally divisive and thoroughly destructive Presidency in our brief history!

Is it any wonder that these stories like Charles meets Barack and Michael Shaw‘s incredible post about James Armstrong, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s one-time barber seen in the photo above, are floating to the surface? Just look at the history on that wall, and look at that smile — it’s not smug or self-satisfied, it’s genuinely composed and content that each and every struggle has been worth it.

I can think of no better song than “Damn” to sum up the confluence of their dreams and aspirations, our shared trials and tribulations, and America’s chance to make history tomorrow. This track from George Evelyn, aka DJ E.A.S.E., aka Nightmares on Wax, and vocalist Chyna B. is dripping with funk, soaring with soul, and absolutely bouncing with the energy of new life:

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Damn, indeed.

Completely ungoogleable by their proper spelling, !!! is more often both printed and pronounced Chk Chk Chk, but any other three monosyllabic grunts will suffice in a pinch. Like Brooklyn’s Gang Gang Dance, !!! is another New York band (with some from Sacramento, CA and Portland, OR too), and I thought their epic “Me and Guiliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)” track would be an excellent followup to Monday’s GGD Song of the Day.

It’s difficult to escape the reality of our current situation in America: our economy is crumbling under the weight of its own inequity; our government is in crisis-mode with the Bush administration trying desperately to conceal the true extent of the damage they have done; our environment is changing, rapidly, perhaps beyond the point of no return; our human race is at war with one another over the last remaining drops of oil, soon to be water and food as well; and the list goes on and on. Yet through it all, there is an unmistakeable sense of hope, and a deep desire to find another way forward in the world.

People always ask me, “What’s so fucking great about dancing?”
How the fuck should I know? Yeah, even I can barely understand it
But when the music takes over, the music takes control
Here’s a message to you, Rudy and you, sir, Mr. Bloomberg
And the rest of you ties-too-tight dudes
Y’all could learn a lesson, by losing inhibitions, yeah
Losing yourself in the music, losing yourself in the moment
Because we have nothing more than this very second
You can’t count on the one coming after, no one’s sure about the one before

At the risk of getting all raved out on you, and believe me I was only barely on the periphery of that mindset in the mid 90s, what can and will unite us is love, and dancing, and living each and every moment to the fullest. I truly believe a singular focus on the here and now, with an eye toward our comparable struggles and common dreams in life, can bridge our most historic gaps.

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My generation is on the cusp of taking control of our country, and all involved deserve a little dancing in the streets. Our work to end oppression and discrimination may be difficult, but it need not be drudgery, and I for one plan to keep on dancing, laughing, and loving for the next four years and well beyond.

Edited slightly after posting.


So let me get this straight. The Bush administration, the very people who religiously eliminated regulation and thwarted any attempts at oversight — in other words, the very policies that have brought us to the brink of financial disaster — want close to $1,000,000,000,000 of our money to fix it. No strings attached, no obligation to Congress, and absolutely no potential review by the courts.

I say No.

What do they propose to do with ONE TRILLION DOLLARS? Buy all the bad debt from the companies that benefitted most from this lax environment, which leaves them wholly intact to pursue the very same corrupt practices, allows the people criminally responsible to escape without penalty, and sweeps the entire mess under the proverbial rug before the election. No accountability, no meaningful examination of the policies behind the mess, and no chance of enacting new laws to prevent this from happening again.

I say No.

Just like oil revenues were supposed to pay for the War in Iraq, the Bush administration claims this deal will pay for itself, meaning that someday we’ll profit from the purchase of their currently worthless assets — if that’s the case, why are these financial companies so desperate to sell? I see this as nothing more than a short-term fix to prevent their worst fears from coming true: not the collapse of the economy, not the final death of the American dream, but the ultimate revelation that George W. Bush and his Republican party ruined America. They’ve bankrupted us, morally and financially, and now they not only want a “Get out of jail free” card, they want John McCain elected to serve Bush’s third term.

I say No.

Do you support Bush today, more than you did four years ago?

Approval Ratings: The Public v. McCain is a great ad. I wish it were a little sharper on the failings of the Bush presidency — New Orleans didn’t just fall, it flooded and its people were left to die by the Bush Administration (at least McCain got his cake) — but overall I think it’s right on target. Here’s the transcript:

He’s the worst president in history and an international embarrassment.

It took years for George Bush to squander the faith of this country.

We wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But as Americans learned more, his approval ratings slide lower and lower.

Yet, there is one man whose support of Bush just keeps growing.

They campaigned together as our soldiers died.

They ate cake together as New Orleans fell.

And each year, he votes with Bush by ever increasing percentages.

77% of the time in 2005. 86% in 2006. 95% in 2007 and 100% in 2008.

As time finally runs out on this presidency, ask yourself this:

“Do you support Bush today more than you did four years ago?”

John McCain clearly does. Still think he’d be a good president? Still think he’d be anything other than George Bush’s third term? Does anyone really think that’s what America needs?

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.

This quote from Edward R. Murrow is the perfect end to Humanitainment’s take on John McCain:

I never realized it until recently, but losing to George W. Bush in 2000, then having to kiss his ring in 2004 in order to position himself for 2008, must have crushed McCain’s soul. He is clearly half the man he was in 2000. Furthermore, he is incredibly ill-equipped for today’s much more transparent campaign; sad but true, this sea change has left him high and dry. Still, none of that excuses his blatant pandering and outright lying. This man is not fit to be president.

I did a bit of digging into Humanitainment and found their incredibly pointed positioning: “The promotion of social reform through the art of popular entertainment.” Those of you near and dear to me know my passion for politics and my desire to fill the void created by today’s (purposefully) empty-headed coverage. I’ve danced around this topic time and again, never quite sure of how best to engage it, but I remain convinced that simple and fiendishly clever humor is an important part of the answer. What’s missing for me is the call-to-action — what will really make the American people move on an issue or candidate?

That answer, and much more, soon.

Every bit of that’s got to change.

For some added perspective, please see my previous post for my thoughts on Al Gore and George W. Bush. There’s no pressing need to rehash it line-by-line, but I will reiterate that Al’s brilliance continues to outshine his dimmer rival, time and again.

This man is a true visionary and a great inspiration, single-handedly rising above mere politics to viscerally challenge not just the American people, but the entrenched and powerful agents of the status quo. His message is clear and well-considered, and after seven plus years of Republican misdirection and malfeasance the American people are ready to rise up and embrace this moment.

Together, we can meet the challenge. We can solve the climate crisis.

John McCain in his own words:

This is how you run against a war-monger. This is how you attack his supposed strengths. The American people are done with this war, and they are most certainly done with this disastrous, draconian, oppressive Republican mindset. McCain, Mr. 26%, and the rest of their Republican party are dinosaurs, awaiting extinction. War is not the answer, no matter how valiant and virtuous they paint it.

Good luck with that in November? Exactly.

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.