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.

From Nick Gillespie review of Steven Johnson’s new book:

We live in troubling times, filled with signs of a great economic apocalypse, politicized science on topics from birth control to climate change and religious zealots who kill innocents rather than live peacefully with them. This is exactly the moment to learn from Priestley, who survived riots, threats of prosecution and other hardships and yet never doubted that “the world was headed naturally toward an increase in liberty and understanding.” Ironically, “The Invention of Air” underscores that there is nothing natural about progress and liberty, each of which must be fought for and defended every single day by visionary individuals.

I have followed Steven’s work, both in print and online, as long or longer than anyone else that comes to mind. His subject matter is not only fascinating on its own, he infuses his narratives with links to and from all manner of topics, bringing more context and painting with much more vivid color. I find his work endlessly fascinating, and will soon rank this book (when I finish it) with “Emergence” as one of my favorites.

What strikes me most about Nick’s review is that last sentence from the paragraph above. This theme of progress is near and dear to me, and when I think of the ideas that excite me most it is this issue of how to motivate a now largely acquiescent society. Many, myself included, live a good life, but things have changed drastically in the past eight years, and we are on the cusp of deeper and much more foundational changes in the very near future. How then do we as a people summon the courage and capacity to do more than muddle through, to no longer cling desperately to an outdated mode of existence, but to fundamentally rework the way we approach life and all that entails?

I know it begins with thought instead of emotion, with a vision not more vindictive reaction, and with an underlying fairness over the single-minded pursuit of profit at the expense of everything and everyone else.

Charles Alexander was married for 69 years, but lost his wife just four weeks ago. Ever since then, he’s poured his heart and soul into volunteering for Barack Obama (via debha):

I can’t watch this without crying, but I am more hopeful than ever that Obama can truly bring about the change we so desperately need in America. Yes, change has become a catchall phrase in this election, but look into Charles Alexander’s eyes to see what it really means — it has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with making the world a better place for his grandkids and great grandkids. That’s a life worth living and a love worth sharing.

btw, music takes a back seat to politics on tankt today, but will resume with another Song of the Day tomorrow.

That’s how I feel about tankt right now.
Too many other more enticing ideas on my mind:

  • I wanna see who. (Not really sure how.)
  • Building and simultaneously demolishing grids.
  • User vs. Designer vs. Developer. And the astonishing difference in my expectations depending on my current position.
  • Apathy, decency, and subtlety. Fuck ‘em.
  • The future. It’s about time.
  • Too many tees. (They’re a walking banner ad.)
  • You say you want a revolution. Get up. Stand up. Save your own damn self. Take the time to think.
  • Is it feathers on a bird or lotsa different chickens?
  • Machines for living.
  • Embrace the glitch.
  • Fragments. Bridges. Limited editions. 10″ wax presses. Social mixes. Unconventional remixes. Oh, and a Truitt / Brown collaboration known as TruBro. Is that offensive?
  • Outside.in in Brooklyn. Warp Records in London. Family in Ohio. Three in San Francisco.

And,

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

- Steve Jobs

What was once and always ‘all in my head’ is now ready to see the light of day. Like branches on a tree, some will thrive, while others whither and die. It matters not which is which, merely that they exist.

The rich tapestry of life seems especially so these days. After several years of deep and difficult introspection, I feel whole again, and stronger than ever. I am loved and loving more than I ever thought possible. I (really, we) feed and sustain me.

I am grateful for my lot in life, truly blessed, and finally prepared to share it with the world, not for gain or glory, but for the chance to make new connections, gain new experiences, and maybe just get a little closer to a deeper understanding of the world.

As always, more soon.

I wanted to share a few of the more powerful words and images created in the light of Al Gore’s incredible achievement, and humbly add a thought or two of my own.

First, Josh Marshall:

There are several layers of irony and poetic justice wrapped into this honor. The first is that the greatest step for world peace would simply have been for Gore not to have had the presidency stolen from him in November 2000. By every just measure, Gore won the presidency in 2000 only to have George W. Bush steal it from him with the critical assistance of the US Supreme Court. It’s worth taking a few moments today to consider where the country and world would be without that original sin of this corrupt presidency.

And yet this is a fitting bookend, with Gore receiving this accolade while the sitting president grows daily an object of greater disapproval, disapprobation and collective shame. And let’s not discount another benefit: watching the rump of the American right detail the liberal bias of the Nobel Committee and at this point I guess the entire world. Fox News vs. the world.

And not to forget what this award is about even more than Gore. If half of what we think we know about global warming is true, people will look back fifty years from now on the claims that “War on Terror” was the defining challenge of this century and see it as a very sick, sad joke — which rather sums up the Bush presidency.

In spite of what the Republican right wants us to believe, this herculean effort was never about personal glory for Al Gore. It is a selfless act, born of a deep commitment to the truth, and a dedication to the health and well-being of all on Earth. But since they cannot fight the facts, which as Stephen Colbert once said “have a well-known liberal bias,” they must counter with outright slander and the most personal of smears…

Speaking of which, along with the great Media Bloodhound, I too was appalled to see the New York Times give prominent placement to such worthless garbage. Contrast that with the simple and understated treatment on the Apple website:

Al has put his heart and soul, and much of life during the past several years, into alerting and educating us all on the climate crisis. We are bursting with pride for Al and this historic recognition of his global contributions.

Yes, Gore is a member of the Apple Board of Directors (he’s on Google’s Board as well), but he’s also an American icon now recognized for his efforts by the global community, and that feat alone is worthy of acknowledgment. But we can’t give him too much glory, or else some people (even make-believe ones like Fake Steve Jobs) will look to Al for even more…

Now it is time. You must run. Not because you want to run, but precisely because you don’t want to run. That, Al, is your strongest point. You don’t want it. You don’t need it. You dare now to be yourself. No artificiality, no stiffness, no falseness. You are who you are. And we need you. We, your fellow Americans. We need you. Now more than ever. Our nation’s soul, hurt by this foolish war, cries out to you. We’ve been wounded by an administration so obsessed with so-called “terrorists” that they don’t notice the earth’s temperature rising at an alarming rate — nearly a tenth of a degree in just the last ten years. So blinded by fear of Iran that they don’t see the snowcap receding on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and icebergs melting and breaking apart in Antarctica. For nearly eight years we have suffered under this madness. This must end.

I don’t often admit it, but I voted for Bush in 2000. I was warned repeatedly by a close friend, but the overwhelming media bias against Gore (especially at the local level in Ohio — the Columbus Dispatch was ruthlessly brutal) had me so thoroughly snowed that I pulled the lever for Bush instead. I still recall a distinct sorrow and shame for my decision at that very moment, knowing in my heart that I was making a grave mistake (obviously that regret remains with me to this day, and even voting against him in 2004 brought little relief). Luckily, there is a silver lining, as Andrew Sloat so eloquently reminds us of the beauty in the 22nd Amendment…

Clearly, these two men and their causes will forever be linked, and their fortunes intertwined. We know now the many differences and the immense gulf between them. Look no further than these two images for confirmation…

Here is Al Gore. He is consumed with his life’s work, immersed in his passion, actively at play in his mind, and truly unencumbered by his modest office:

Al Gore

On the other hand, here is George W. Bush. He is an empty suit in an empty office, seen here casually bullshitting with Nouri al-Maliki on the phone, obviously fidgeting as his imagined power to wish away an inconvenient truth proves ineffective yet again. It always seems that he is consciously trying to look the part of President, all the while mistaking ceremony for reality:

George W. Bush

Clearly one man is a leader, the other is a farce. History will not be kind to Bush, nor should it be, but that is the least of our worries now. And no, this is not about the election in 2000, it is about the future of America and the fate of the world. We must find a way to move forward, together, and only one person can do it.

So please, Al, run. Run for President of the United States in 2008. And don’t take any shit from anyone when you do. Stand tall. Stand proud. You were right then and you are right now.

Robert Cringely saidbest:

Profit is to be found not just in pleasing dissatisfied customers, but in dissatisfying them in the first place so they will then pay to be pleased.

That’s life to a T in the Bush era.

This scam only succeeds because we continue to support a broken system, rather than demanding a better way. Then again, that’s true of most of our ills these days (see my previous post for more on that subject).

Of course, we could end it all in a heartbeat, if we just worked together…

The problem with America, ruthlessly laid bare by Jim Kunstler:

The people I know complain endlessly about how stupid President George W. Bush is, and how badly he has lied to the public about this or that. But a casual observer from Mars would have to conclude that President Bush perfectly represents a nation that shows such a thoroughgoing incapacity for thought, and such an aversion to the truth about its own behavior. A people so hopelessly unwilling to get its act together deserves to suffer.

And the solution to our woes, masterfully diagnosed by Prince Campbell:

Most people fail to grasp this but our emotions are stronger than our minds. And until you get your emotions under control (especially in stressful situations) your brain can’t work.

My favorite contrarian sets it up and my favorite soothsayer knocks it down. All I have to do it pull it all together…

Speaking of which, I truly believe that America is more than ready for someone or something to cut through the bullshit and call it like it is. We may be shocked by the truth, but at least it’s real; more importantly, it will even feel real after nearly seven years of Bush’s stifling delusions of grandeur.

On the often overlooked and seldom discussed fact that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove in particular relied on an inherently weak and thoroughly obedient Alberto Gonzales to lend an imprint of propriety to their rampant lawlessness, Sidney Blumenthal saidbest:

From the beginning of his rise with George W. Bush until the day of his abrupt resignation, Alberto Gonzales was anointed, directed and protected by Karl Rove. At the Department of Justice, Gonzales served as Rove’s figurehead. In the real line of authority, the attorney general, a constitutional officer, reported to the White House political aide. Bush did not nickname Gonzales “Fredo,” after the weak brother in “The Godfather,” without reason.

As White House counsel and attorney general, Gonzales operated as the rubber stamp of the two great goals of the Bush presidency — the concentration of unaccountable power in the executive and the subordination of executive departments and agencies to partisan political imperatives. Vice President Cheney directed the project for the imperial presidency, while Rove took charge of the top-down politicization of the federal government. Gonzales dutifully signed memos abrogating the Geneva Conventions against torture, calling them “quaint,” and approved the dismissal of U.S. attorneys for insufficient partisan zeal.

Fittingly, his routine indifference to matters right and wrong, to say nothing of legal and illegal, was not his downfall. Rather, Gonzales is now leaving office due to his inability to keep up the barest semblance of competency in his job and coherence in the face of his critics. Let’s face it, he failed to register even a modicum of respect from his own Republican party, which is a pretty low bar indeed!

In the end, it all comes down to keeping up appearances. That, of course, was once thought to be Rove’s one true gift, but now like nearly everything else he has touched — in this case propping up a man who had no business being Attorney General — his ultimate undoing. And that is precisely why the real story here has nothing to do with Gonzales…

So make no mistake, Gonzales is not leaving because of Rove, rather it is Rove who had to leave because of Gonzales. Don’t be fooled by the inversion, and the implied causality here. This is due to a gross miscalculation on Rove’s part — that Gonzales could lie to Congress with impunity — necessitating yet another elaborate cover story to escape his crimes. I have to wonder if Bush has even pieced this one together yet.

As thrilled as I am to see them both go, and believe me I am ecstatic, I sincerely hope we haven’t seen the last of them just yet. Congress must continue to press these two and hold them accountability for all of their lies told and laws broken. That is truly the only way we can prevent this absurdity from ever happening again.

In an especially biting rant on the ease in which the vast majority of Americans can be lulled into sleep by such trivial pursuits, while the financial markets and government institutions slowly collapse under the weight of their own corruption, Jim Kunstler saidbest:

Of course, all that creates a problem for the masses of human beings who theoretically support themselves by working to produce new things of value to be bought and sold. But let them watch Nascar! Let’s take whatever little remains of our tax revenues (or bonding ability) and build a dozen more speedway ovals around the country, and tweak the stock car engines so those suckers can run on ethanol, and shower the fans with Little Debbie snack cakes as they count the laps. Bring on Britney Spears or Paris Hilton at half-time (do they have half-time in Nascar?) and let Justin Timberlake cut their hearts out on the hood of a Dodge Avenger. Believe me, the public will be so deliriously entranced by the spectacle, they won’t notice anything else going on in the background of our nation.

This is how America enters the Long Emergency — in a Nascar rapture, with Jesus directing the pit crews and the Holy Ghost working the barbeque concession.

To wit, Michael Vick’s plea is the top story (old news) on the day in which Alberto Gonzales resigns to spend more time with his lawyer (big, big new news). Wake up, America.

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.