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Thursday, June 29, 2006

The NewsHour Hamdan roundtable transcript

This transcript is a must read. Participants include Neal Katyal (Mr. Hamdan's lawyer), Joseph Margulies (Northwestern University Law), Andrew McBride (lawyer who filed amicus brief siding with the administration) and John Yoo (UC Berkeley Law, and "primary architect of the Bush administration's detainee and interrogation policies while working in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel")

ANDREW MCBRIDE: ...If a foreign force uses a flag of truce in the battlefield to fool our troops and then shoots at them, I don't think that our military needs to consult a judge before they punish that act. And I think that having the judiciary intervene in that and superintend that weakens our military.

MARGARET WARNER: But you're saying that's what this ruling does?

ANDREW MCBRIDE: I'm saying that's what this ruling does, by emphasizing the role of the court in evaluating whether or not statutory criteria are met. I think the president, as commander in chief, can use military tribunals in the same way that he uses bunker busters.

That's putting it bluntly. Hard to believe, but, yes, you just read that.

NEAL KATYAL:...let me say, you know, I respect Professor Yoo a lot on some things, but on this, I think, when he says the court could have saved the country a problem by basically letting the president do what he wanted, I think that fundamentally misunderstands the Constitution and the separation of powers.

As Justice Stevens today for the court said: We have a government of divided powers, and the president can't just make the rules up as he goes along and act as the prosecutor and judge and jury in these things.

That's the point, and has been all along. Why Guantanamo and unnamed third countries? Because we have rules inside our borders; we have courts and the rule of law. In fact, we have rules period.

JOSEPH MARGULIES: What the Supreme Court held in the recognition of Common Article 3 as a baseline is that war is not a dissent into lawless anarchy, that you do not allow, no matter who you believe this person to be, no matter what you believe he may have done, no matter where you caught him, no matter what you think he may have been responsible for, we do not return to the time where you could treat prisoners like caged beasts.

Amen. And, finally:

MARGARET WARNER: John Yoo, you were the co-author, famously, or a co-author of what some people call the "torture memo," but it was a memo, Justice Department memo that argued that, in fact, the Geneva Convention did not apply to these detainees and, therefore, different kinds of more extreme interrogation methods were certainly permissible.

Does this ruling knock the pins out from under that position that you and others in the administration took? And, if so, what are the implications?

JOHN YOO: Well, I do think it's fair to say the court rejected the idea that Common Article 3 doesn't apply in the war on terrorism or that the Geneva Conventions don't apply to al-Qaida in the war on terrorism, so it does knock that out from under the administration's legal position on the status of detainees.

I do think the court was mistaken on that, and if there is going to be one thing that Congress is likely to overrule it will overrule that part of the opinion.

Congress, Professor Yoo, how quaint!

Read the whole thing. This is one that will get talked about. (h/t gimmel at dkos.)


Hamdan v Rumsfeld

For the latest information and links on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld read Think Progress and Majikthise.

This graf, from Glenn Greenwald gets to the core of it:

It has been some time since real limits were placed on the Bush administration in the area of national security. The rejection of the President's claims to unlimited authority with regard to how Al Qaeda prisoners are treated is extraordinary and encouraging by any measure. The decision is an important step towards re-establishing the principle that there are three co-equal branches of government and that the threat of terrorism does not justify radical departures from the principles of government on which our country was founded.

Copa do Mundo

I've been catching World Cup noontime matches at my current favorite place to watch a soccer game...a little Ethiopian restaurant here in North Oakland called the 'Red Sea.'

There's a cafe/bar to one side of the building with a TV high up in one corner. The sun comes blazing in off Claremont Avenue. The door opens and closes with new arrivals and the patrons inside welcome the occasional curious passerby. For some games the scene is packed with people (games with Brazil or the Netherlands tend to draw a crowd.) For others, it's a quieter affair...and I might be the only one present who is not a 'regular.'

There's something about a soccer match...a specific aural quality. Crowd noise, the constant chatter of the announcers, the free flowing commentary that soccer fans offer up in parallel to the match. Horns. Cheers. Chants. Groans. In soccer anything can happen at any time, hence the need to orient oneself with one's ears to the developing action. Soccer is, more than any sport, propelled by waves of sound.

It's almost as if a soccer match is something that happens 'to you.' Nothing might happen. Anything might happen. There are long periods of stasis broken by moments of sudden decisiveness. Goals, and, in particular, spectacular goals have a kind of affront, a kind of shock. The constant flow of play generates an intense level of attentiveness and fascination. To steal a quote from Danny Blanchflower, courtesy of Ronnie Wolman, a Toronto Textile Man:

"Football is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom."

And at the Red Sea, wedged into positions where we can view that corner TV, there's a kind of loose fraternity in support of the beautiful game. We applaud goals by either team. We offer knowing smiles when a particular act of cunning or cowardice determines the outcome of events. And in this, we are like so many millions....hundreds of millions...who are doing the same thing on every continent on Earth. We are part of a simultaneous multitude...a tremendous coincidence of focus and wonderment.

Long after the national teams of most of the world have been left behind, people the world over still watch the World Cup. At the Red Sea it is no different. At times, there is a broader meaning to the match. When Patrick Vieira, a French player of Senegalese birth, faced down the racist Spanish coach, Luis Aragones...and then produced the winning goal for France...it was a gesture heard round the world. Those who saw that moment and understood its import will never forget the look on Vieira's face. Here was a man who was willing to put his dignity on the line and then, of course, he delivered. That match that will get talked about for decades.

There's a reason so much of the world roots for Brazil...propels them, almost, into the finals of successive World Cups. It's not simply that Brazil plays the beautiful game in the most beautiful manner. It's also that Brazil, like the racially diverse French side, represents "the world" in its make up. Brazil represents the dream, the aspiration of how the game should be played: with joy and passion. Of course, there are, aside from aberrations like Aragones, truly no "good guys" and "bad guys" at the World Cup. Soccer fans in general, despite their intense affiliations, love the game more than they love a particular outcome.

As the tournament inexorably narrows its focus to teams from fewer and fewer nations, world-wide interest in the matches only increases. Fans from nations left behind find a way to root for one team or the other. And, at the end of the draw when it comes down to the final two nations, there is no place to watch the World Cup final like someplace surrounded by other life-long fans caught up in the action. Love of the game, the desire to see a truly great match, to see a drama played out live before the world, creates a kind of unity and fellow feeling. Quite literally, the whole world is watching.

Sitting in my seat along the back wall at the Red Sea, I feel priveleged to take in the spectacle with so many neighbors, most of them East African, who have come so far to make their homes, like me, under the California sun. There's something human about the World Cup, something that strikes a common chord. Soccer may be just a game with fans like any other, but watching the World Cup does not feel like any other sporting event. For ninety minutes, in giving ourselves to the match at hand, we share something simple with so many around the globe. We make a memory, we share a spectacle. For one brief moment, we are quite simply 'in this together'.

There's a lesson there somewhere, and a reason for hope.

{Btw, Roger Cohen has a great little blog going on this World Cup at the International Herald Tribune. Cohen is a fine writer, but his commenters....from all over the world, are the real find. Check it out.}

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

SayNotoPombo and CA-11

Babaloo at SayNotoPombo asks the question of the day.

(Btw, right now is a great time for SF Bay Area and Central California activists to look into ways of helping Pombo's opponent, Jerry McNerney, as he gears up to defeat Pombo this fall. Interested? Try Left on 580, and, of course, SayNotoPombo and, if you're so inclined, its ActBluePage.)

the Freedom Tower: redesigned

The New York Times reports today about the proposed redesign of the "Freedom Tower" to be built at the former site of the World Trade Center buildings in New York.

It is very much worth checking out the slide-show of photographs and plans included at the link. This is what, in 2011, the replacement for the World Trade Center buildings will look like.

I've written about 9/11 before....in 2005 here and, from 2004, here. You can tell from those pieces that I'm convinced that we haven't even begun to deal with nine eleven as a nation.

It's something significant, building on the site of Ground Zero. Significant as a stand alone act and significant for what kind of building and memorial we choose to place there. In my mind, the debate and delay that has plagued the project, the snail's pace at which it has proceeded...serves as a kind of stand-in for the missing national dialogue about 9/11.

We haven't really talked about "nine eleven" in a real and meaningful way as a nation. We haven't added up the sum of what we've lost...nor have we come to terms with its cost.

2011 is a long way off. As the years that separate us from 9 / 11 / 2001 increase....it's clear that we are not even close to a midway point, either in dealing with our grief, or in thinking, long and hard, with careful self-reflection, about what 9/11 means for America.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hubbies, dh's, and fidos...woof woof!

Amanda Marcotte, of Pandagon, has a great post up tonight about the "lost keys" problem.

Aside from the fact that I'm single, and hence, the post does not apply to me....I don't have that problem. I keep a duplicate set of keys by the door. It's when I lose those that I'm fucked.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Billmon on the Crise de Blogs

Like alot of folks, I've been watching the World Cup. If you like soccer, it's been thrilling. The pace, the build up of play, and the moments of occasional brilliance that flash across the screen add up to a Carnaval of fut. And, as in every World Cup, once in awhile we get to see a player....Maniche, Maxi Rodriguez, David Beckham, Fabio Grosso...work some piece of particular brilliance that is all the more remarkable because it is decisive.

Well, Billmon just pulled off something like the blog equivalant. His long meandering summary of this crisis of the blogs, including a kind of blogging apologia, is worth following to its conclusion.

Speaking of which, this passage has the ring of truth:

Whether that's good or bad for the Kossaks I don't know -- I suppose it depends on how much credence you give to Gandhi's old saw: "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." In the real world -- and in imperial America, too -- the truth is that sometimes they ignore you, then ridicule you, then fight you and crush you like an overripe eggplant.

How true.

{Wow, there's just an extraordinary amount of great reflective pieces lately: this one from Murray Waas at HuffingtonPost is truly breathtakingly well-written. Go. Read it.}

Sunday, June 25, 2006

James Wolcott takes on blogofascism

Wolcott is brilliant. (Thank you, digby.)

  • If you're up late reading and follow technology issues, don't miss this piece on King of Zembla.
  • And if you blog, and like theory, this essay on Blog Theory by Jodi Dean at Bad Subjects is pretty damn interesting. (thanx to Wood s Lot.)

  • Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    open source politics

    We've come a long way from the heady moment that gave rise to this August 2003 interview between prominent internet theorist Lawrence Lessig and then Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi.

    Just one week ago, over one thousand of us met up in Las Vegas at the first Yearlykos convention. It was an experience that replicated on a communal scale the thrill that Matthew Gross must have had when, as Joe Trippi recounts above, Matt drove from Utah to Vermont unannounced to work on the Howard Dean campaign. We at Yearlykos took online politics offline.  Names became faces. The netroots networked. Candidates courted bloggers. The blogosphere, quite literally met the press.

    In contrast to Trippi and Lessig in 2003, however, we had new buzzwords at Yearlykos; the convention was awash in references to "People Powered Politics" "the millennial generation" and "social networking software."

    With this essay, however, I'd like to make the case for a quiet phrase that we've let fall somewhat into disuse. I'd like to talk about open source politics.

    Immediately following the 2004 election Micah Sifry wrote an article in the Nation entitled The Rise of Open Source Politics.  The article is worth reading in full, but I'd like to highlight a passage that speaks to what's on my mind:

    Open-source politics is still a long way off. The term "open source" specifically refers to allowing any software developer to see the underlying source code of a program, so that anyone can analyze it and improve it; better code trumps bad code, and programmers who have proven their smarts have greater credibility and status. Applied to political organizing, open source would mean opening up participation in planning and implementation to the community, letting competing actors evaluate the value of your plans and actions, being able to shift resources away from bad plans and bad planners and toward better ones, and expecting more of participants in return. It would mean moving away from egocentric organizations and toward network-centric organizing.

    Open source politics, then, is not simply about feedback...it's about how feedback makes us more effective.  In the language of programming from which the term "open source" derives: better code trumps bad code. In the world of politics that means better ideas trump bad ideas.  As Joe Trippi, referring to the Dean for America blog, exalted to Lessig in the 2003 interview cited above:

    The response we are getting and the ideas that come off of it are just amazing. The comments section is just such an amazing thing. Little things you never would have thought of: Zephyr [Teachout] came up with the idea of having a poster that was downloadable and printable for each state, with a goal of getting a million of these posters put up -- for example, "New Hampshire for Dean" -- as a way to get visibility going. We put that up with the links of all fifty states and immediately afterwards, one of the first comments was, "I'm registered to vote, I'm working overseas in London, there's a lot of American expats here, and you know, you really, I'd love to have an Americans Abroad for Dean poster that I can put up and that my friends overseas can put." Two minutes later another post comment was, "I'm in Spain, and you guys shouldn't forget about us, you should do Americans abroad."

    This is my 7th presidential campaign, but in every other campaign, the campaign never would have known that it had screwed up by not just creating the fifty-first sign. It's a small thing, but within ten minutes we had an "Americans Abroad" poster up with the rest, blogged about it, said, "hey, you're right, you caught that.

    Open source, however, means more than just passing along criticism and ideas.  Open source is also a meritocratic means of discovering new leaders.  Those of us who witnessed the professionalism with which Gina Cooper and her team of "entrepreneurial volunteers" pulled off Yearlykos would concur.  Yearlykos was an example not only of how feedback and input made the convention better, but of how specific expertise was drawn from a pool of talent.  In this, Yearlykos was a great example of open source.  Fabooj, Nolan and Pontificator, to name just three examples, went from being "screen names" on dailyKos to demonstrating skilled leadership and organizational competence for all the world to see.  Do not underestimate the power of that example.  We in the netroots are about to see it applied again and again as offline skills and leadership become vital considerations in this political movement.  In effect, the "feedback" that thrilled Joe Trippi in 2003 has taken its logical next step: the emergence of new offline leaders.

    Open source politics, in this sense, is just another name for what those in progressive politics have long called small "d" democracy.  In fact, I would argue that behind all the high tech and high falutin' names we give to this political movement that this value is its core impulse: we want more democracy.  We want a meritocracy of ideas and participation.  Whether it is the democratic openness of the Scoop platform, the ongoing campaign for net neutrality or the push to run candidates in every race in every state, this is our unifying theme: we have a bedrock commitment to the power and effectiveness of small "d" democracy. Open source is the foundation on which all our individual successes have been built and the cornerstone on which our underlying movement stands or falls.  We are small "d" democrats first and last; that is our core value.  Whatever the latest technology or buzz, we should never forget this.

    I wrote a reflection on Yearlykos last week that asked some questions about the event from this perspective.  In particular, I asked about the process by which the term "netroots endorsed" is being applied to candidates and races.  I ask that question again today.

    As I explained in my previous essay, at Ykos I had a chance to hear Chris Bowers explain to a candidate at the MyDD caucus the procedure by which a candidate can become "netroots endorsed."  That procedure is explained very clearly here by one the four bloggers who determines "netroots endorsement," DavidNYC of the Swing State Project.  The other three bloggers  who make selections are Chris Bowers and Matt Stoller of MyDD and Markos of Dailykos.  (If you want an active chance to participate in the nominating process, please click on this active link at MyDD.)  

    While, in fact, we in the netroots can nominate candidates for "netroots endorsment" if we happen across the diaries where nominations are taken...there is:  a) little transparency in evaluating the process by which candidates eventually get selected b) little oversight in determining whether "good choices" or "bad choices" have been made, and c) little small "d" democratic rationale for why a self-selected committee of four bloggers should control the term "netroots endorsed" and the standards for selection.

    Does this process live up to the "open source" standard that Micah Sifry enunciated above?  Does it allow us in the netroots, not simply to give feedback, but to effectively judge whether "good code" will trump "bad code"...whether "good ideas" will trump "bad ideas?"  Does it move us "away from egocentric organizations and toward network-centric organizing?"   With all due respect to the initiative, fairness and follow-through of those involved, I don't think so.  I think we can do better. (For one, a central website for nominations and candidate statements would be nice.) Further, like it or not, as we gain power and impact in the field of politics we will be increasingly judged by the standards we ourselves apply to the political world.   What is to prevent vociferous critics from claiming that a candidate has won "netroots endorsement" not on the merits but by an invisible backroom deal, no matter the integrity and accomplishment of the selectors?  Not much.   Further, how are we in the  netroots improving on our track record for donation and picks from the last election cycle?  It's not clear.

    Now, as this political movement grows and matures it is inevitable that we will have more beaurocracy, more structural disputes, more need for organization and more scrutiny from the outside press. I would insist, however, that there is a golden rule of open source that we might use to guide our way:

    Whenever we find ourselves resorting to something private, secret, or undemocratic it is because we have failed to innovate an open source solution.

    We are open source innovators; that is how we are known.  Our job is not to be "perfect;" all politics, and the democratic process itself, involves the "rough game" of debate and taking sides.  All innovation requires individual initiative and the work of small teams. But when push comes to shove, our movement, if it is to succeed and stay true to itself, must not forget its pole star: we want more democracy, not less.

    Much praise is to be given to the "early adopters" and, perhaps, "inventors" of the blogosphere.  Praise does not, however, equal a handing over of one's voice or one's vote.  One can respect the hard work and foresight of some of our peers and at the same time hold them accountable to our bedrock ideals.  Yes, it might be easier to hand over decision making to self-selected committees for the near term, or, as some have suggested, let the movement play out organically till after the 2008 election and then organize itself in a more thoroughgoing way.  I don't think either option lives up to open source or furthers our short and long term goals.

    Open source politics is premised on one of the founding notions of the United States Constitution: finding a structural way to let the people decide and evaluate, however awkward and contentious that process might be, is both a way to stay true to our founding principles and the most effective form of governance yet invented.  Open source may not be pretty, but given a chance, our history has proven it works.  Our job, then, is to incorporate as much as we can an open source ethos into our politics.

    Now, our political movement contains strains of a "libertarian" impulse and strains of the "progressive" political impulse.  Rather than have these two threads bicker and jockey for preeminence as they have in the past, I would point out that the open source ethos is a unifying theme that we all share.  We are all committed to breaking down the walls of privilege and power that have stifled democracy in the United States these last decades.  That is our common ground.  On a level playing field, either side can be content to let our ideas compete in the marketplace.   That level playing field and marketplace, in my view, should apply to the presidential hopefuls for 2008 as well as "netroots endorsed" candidates for 2006.

    I choose the marketplace analogy on purpose.  It is clear that the innovation that fuels our movement has been deeply marked by the entrepreneurial spirit and initiative of remarkable individuals.  They deserve praise. There is, however, a natural tension between the entrepreneurial and the organizational, especially when calls for accountability and small "d" democracy ring out from the peanut gallery. Organization inevitably follows innovation.  (Professor Lessig eloquently examined this in his book Code: and other laws of Cyberspace.)

    Rather than run from this tension, in my view, our response should be to understand and embrace it.  We need both dynamics to succeed.  We need to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit of risk takers and pathbreakers and at the same time have the patience and tolerance to build an organizational culture that prevails. From where I stand, when it comes to the path ahead for the netroots, our immediate task is clear.

    We are innovators.  Our job is to innovate.  Our job is to find win-win solutions.  At numerous points in this brief saga, we have faced challenges that we have met with forward thinking ideas that we implemented with savviness and aplomb.  Yearlykos was merely the most visible and successful of these.  From the "Dean bat" to the "recommended diary box" to Energize America the left blogosphere has been a laboratory of tactics and methods, some of which have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams, and some of which have failed.  Today is no different; innovation is the task at hand.  Open source has shown that constructive criticism and feedback, far from being disloyal, is the path to improvement and effectiveness.  My argument today is that we should keep it at the center of our movement.

    You may agree or disagree with me regarding "netroots endorsements." That is fair enough. What I'd ask you to consider, however, is the underlying value that I'm arguing for.  Open source politics is our alpha and omega.  It's where we began and, at the same time, reflects the kind of society we hope to build.  Open source politics is no different in ideals and conception than what our Founding Fathers initiated over 200 years ago or the vision that Lincoln burned into our national memory with his Gettysburg address.

    Given this moment in history and the task at hand, open source, small "d" democracy is also the one thing that we all can and have agreed on.  It is something that coursed through the halls during Yearlykos where an egalitarian spirit ruled the day.  On some small but significant level, that, my friends, is a golden opportunity that we should not neglect to seize.

    Monday, June 19, 2006

    When every vote is counted: Dellums wins

    This article puts an end to the saga of the Oakland mayoral election. Ignacio De La Fuente will not contest the results and on January 1st 2007, Ron Dellums will be Mayor of Oakland.

    Respect should be accorded Mr. De La Fuente for this stance as his move frees up a goodly number of activists and dollars from Oakland to focus on other local races next fall...the most significant of which is CA-11, where Jerry McNerney's effort to unseat Congressman Richard Pombo will need all the help it can get.

    I'd like to say to Mayor-elect Dellums that here in my North Oakland neighborhood I've encountered many voters who voted for either of his two opponents: Nancy Nadel or Ignacio De La Fuente (both of whom retain their positions on the city council, by the way.) While Nadel voters seem happy enough to welcome Ron Dellums as mayor, I consistently hear apprehension from De La Fuente voters about Ron Dellums as mayor, even a sense that Ron Dellums won on "popularity" alone. (I get this even when I mention that my vote was FOR Dellums and list the reasons I've mentioned here previously.)

    There's two things here, I think. First, Ron Dellums is going to have to do outreach to these voters right off the bat. Not simply because they've got, I think, a misperception about what motivates Dellums, but because Ignacio De La Fuente has got the votes and the position to make Dellums' term as Mayor a living deadlock. That is something that we can all agree would not be in Oakland's best interest.

    Second, among the De La Fuente voters I've spoken to about Dellums, there's a misperception about this election as a whole. I concede to my friends that a vote for De La Fuente was a vote for "nuts and bolts" plug-the-potholes leadership. I acknowledge that the work that Mayor Brown and De La Fuente did in their six year alliance counts for something. But what I don't see reciprocated is an acknowledgment that over 66% of the electorate, knowing all that, did not vote for De La Fuente.

    The point I make is this: if a Dellums supporter is willing to concede some of the good your man has done for this city, and even acknowledge his strengths, shouldn't you at least be willing to consider that many Oakland voters did not vote for De La Fuente for good reasons of their own? Shouldn't you be willing to accept that we preferred Nadel or Dellums for reasons other than mere "popularity" or "ideology?"

    One question that strikes me, given the suprising strength of Nadel's support: could it be that Jerry Brown and De La Fuente were just a little bit too cozy with developers while our schools and streets continued to decline? In effect, could it be that many of us Oakland voters considered voting for De La Fuente and even read his proposals carefully, but felt like a vote for Council Chair De La Fuente was a vote for business as usual when Oakland needed a change?

    It's a point worth considering, I think, for all THREE of the Oakland Mayoral candidates. Oakland is counting on you to come together; and we definitely will need your combined skills and cooperation to meet the challenges this city faces.

    Saturday, June 17, 2006

    Christopher Hayes on Yearlykos

    Christopher Hayes of In These Times adds another worthwhile Ykos essay.

    paperbacks and cassette tapes

    There was a time...what seems to be a fucking long time ago...when someone could hand me a paperback or a cassette tape and rock my little junior high mind.

    I remember my friend Everett passing on his brother's cassette copy of Magical Mystery Tour and listening...cluelesslessly at first and then with increasing wonder, over and over again...to John Lennon's Strawberry Fields. Stop. Rewind. Play. Stop.

    Or the time a schoolteacher loaned me a copy of Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions.

    Cracking that paperback meant entering headlong into Vonnegut's pathetic, delicious, cynical world; it was like Vonnegut was leaning over my shoulder, vodka on his breath, more than a little sad to have to disabuse me of my dewy ideals.

    A paperback is a discrete thing. It's physical. When I was thirteen and hungry for anything new...for dispatches from what we used to call the "real world" before that term became a TV show...a paperback was a way out and a way in. You could put it in your pocket. You could lose yourself.

    I remember walking into a bookstore in my home town...and the SMELL of that fucking place was almost like a perfume...the dark rows of books, the musty carpeting, the creaking floorboards. I spent hours in bookstores. I lost myself in possibilities.

    Bookstores were houses of the arcane where I first encountered Pablo Neruda, Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. That these writers existed, that they could conjure the stories and images they did, was, literally, magic to me.

    Now, as an adult I might reread Carson McCullers The Heart is Lonely Hunter...or Wallace Steven's poem The Emperor of Ice Cream...I might find the edition of Ray Bradbury's the Martian Chronicles with the haunting line drawings. But none of those books today would have the impact that these works had on my young mind. The world inside a book had its own gravitational pull then. It's own reality. The world of a book was at once a pure field of the imagination and a space with a kind of terrifying specificity...a new terrain. Books, like music, sucked me in.

    A paperback. A cassette tape. These were things you could pass around. Portal mechanisms. Access passes. Tickets to the unknown.

    Delmore Schwartz. Rainer Maria Rilke. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Grandmaster Flash.

    For me, these names are talismans from my teenage years. These were the messengers who brought news of a broader world. These were witnesses and prophets who had walked the streets of cities that I intended to call home.

    Like all nostalgia, however, this view is distorted in the cracked glass of my memory's mirror. Layers of ulterior motives and wishful thinking confuse the way back.

    What I want now is not so much the specific experience of any of these works; I've tried that, it's not available to me. What I want is the openess, the shock, the apprehensive force of coming to terms with a new experience that I used to get from reading and listening.

    I want to recapture what it felt like to crack a paperback back in the day...I want to revisit those virginal moments of fervor and bliss before Kurt Vonnegut had his way with me.

    Jerry McNerney: Progressive Patriot

    Matt at SayNOtoPombo reports that Jerry McNerney, Democratic candidate running to unseat Congressman Richard Pombo in CA-11, has won the title of Progressive Patriot from Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriot fund. You can read the full story here.

    Kudos to all those in the netroots whose activism helped Jerry win this honor. In particular, a hat tip to what's proving to be the local blog that could.

    Friday, June 16, 2006

    Steve Soto on Yearlykos

    Steve Soto of the LeftCoaster has a great essay up on Ykos.

    It dovetails with one of the points I made in my essay below: It's June. It's 2006. There's a clear task at hand; and it's called the 2006 elections.

    On other fronts, Jedmonds at Pandagon had this take-no-prisoners response to a passage in Garance Franke-Ruta's sure-to-ruffle-feathers coverage of Ykos for TAPPED.

    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    current clicks: majikthise

    Majikthise has some great posts up about yearlykos and other sundry items from...the inimitable majikthise perspective.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    diary up

    I put a diary up at dailykos about Yearlykos. It's pretty much a "meta" piece that is best read with all its dailykos comments (which were excellent and insightful) so I won't cross post it or add anything here other than to say:

    It was great to meet so many fellow bloggers and to travel back an forth to Las Vegas in such good company. These are exciting times for grass roots politics.

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    micah sifry on yearlykos

    Try this intelligent take on the event.

    I have my own thoughts, but they are still percolating...

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    Count every vote...

    I think we can all agree to be patient and wait for the final results to know if we just elected Ron Dellums mayor here in Oakland or if we have a run off.

    Funny thing, I went from telling Nadel voters how they showed that "every voter counts" to seeing the exact same thing apply to Dellums and De La Fuente.

    It just goes to show. Every vote does count.

    Off to yearlyKos...hopefully they'll wrap up the counting and process by Monday!

    kid o

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    Still Waiting........

    Looks like the results so far give Angelides the win (and look bad for Francine Busby), but here in Oakland we're still waiting, and will likely have to wait till after noon today.

    SF Gate has got three articles to read while we do...

    Here's one on CA-11. (McNerney and Pombo win.) Here's one on Oakland Mayor..

    And here's a must read Matier and Ross on how big spending special interests came out for Moderate Dems against Progressives...often with the use of misleading names.

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    a long night ahead in California...but especially Alameda County

    Try Trail Mix for an inside take on CA-50...(or better yet go to trusted "election night central" at dailykos.)

    and SayNotoPombo has updates and commentary on CA-11's interesting results on both sides of the primary battle.

    And, as far as Alameda County....let's just say it's going to be so long a night (they are manually feeding every paper ballot into machines at a central location)...that it will probably be morning before we have all the precincts in. And, yes, in any close State-wide Democratic CA race that's going to mean we're ALL going to be waiting on Alameda County.

    More here as soon as I know it.

    Update 1: SF Gate has some Oakland Mayoral initial returns:

    Ron Dellums: 11,800 (44.3%)
    Ignacio De La Fuente: 9,600 (36%)
    Nancy Nadel: 3,948 (14.8%)

    Those numbers are really interesting. Since there's really nothing more to go by...allow me to point up what I find suggestive here.

    Nadel voters knew going in that Nancy had little chance to win...so her strong showing is really significant. Further, Dellums holds 44% even with Nadel at 15%. That means that 59% of Oakland primary voters rejected the endorsements of papers and politicians and voted either of two PROGRESSIVE candidates. That indicates a strong showing for "progressive" and "anti-busines as usual" voters in Oakland today.

    Assuming these numbers hold up, this does not seem to bode well for De La Fuente either. Nadel / Dellums voters certainly overlap more than Nadel / De La Fuente voters. (Of course, I could be wrong about that.) De La Fuente's best hope, I've always thought, would be to win it tonight either outright or by a solid percentage. And while he may yet do so when the votes are counted, I just don't see De La Fuente convincing a majority of Nancy Nadel voters to vote his way in a run off.

    Further, these numbers make me think that the "mystery robo-calls" may have hurt Dellums enough to stop him from winning outright, and that they also, paradoxically, may have both unintentionally led voters to Nancy Nadel as a principled alternative and done nothing to help De La Fuente who was certainly the intended benificiary. (Of course, if these are absentee results, they may reflect votes cast BEFORE the robocalls...argh.) My bet, however, is that time will prove that the robocalls backfired, and may have pushed some voters to Nadel.

    Sunday, June 04, 2006

    In support of Ron Dellums

    I've held off writing about the Oakland mayor's race in part because it represents the classic "Oakland Conundrum:" there are multiple candidates worthy of consideration, all of whom have worked hard for Oakland.

    For myself, before Ron Dellums' entry into the race, I would have strongly considered voting for Nancy Nadel over Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, whom I respect but disagree with.

    Councilwoman Nadel is a committed and pragmatic progressive representing a "Green" ethos who is willing to put it out there and run for local office and make a difference here in Oakland. Kudos to her. Too often, candidacies like Nadel's (and Aimee Allison's run for City Council) are underappreciated. They shouldn't be. Candidates winning local office and making an impact are exactly how progressives can best put our ideas into practice, and Councilwoman Nadel has done that and deserves praise.

    All that being said, however, I am supporting Ron Dellums for Oakland Mayor in the June 6th primary. Here's why.

    #1: Despite some very real progress here in Oakland, I am dissappointed at the legacy of the Jerry Brown / De La Fuente years on crime, community and education.

    There are three core challenges facing Oakland in 2006: Education, Crime and Development. These challenges are linked; we need to work on all three challenges together as one city, as a set of interlinked communities. Ron Dellums gets this; he sees the big picture.

    Mayor Brown and Council Chair De La Fuente have approached these challenges through a take on Development that too often favors chain stores and "market-rate" condos over Community. They've taken an approach to crime that sees Law Enforcement as the sole solution to safe streets. On the other hand, fixing the crisis in our schools and working with our communities on development and solving crime have not been the central priority for Mayor Brown or the City Council. In my view, if we elect Council Chair De La Fuente mayor of Oakland, we will get more of this approach.

    When you read what Ignacio De La Fuente promises to do for Oakland on Education and Crime, especially his laundry list of law enforcement goals, it's clear: Mr. De La Fuente's candidacy is mostly about giving us more of the "Development / Law Enforcement focus" that has marked the Jerry Brown years. In this sense, De La Fuente is very much a "business as usual" candidate (more development, more "criminalization," incremental steps on Education) at a time when Oakland needs more than a business as usual approach. In particular, there can be no real solution to the challenges that Oakland's citizen's face that fails to address the crisis of our public schools as the central task at hand.

    When it comes to educating our kids, Oakland needs to make a drastic change. Ron Dellums best represents that goal. Ron Dellums understands that Education, Crime and Development link together. (See his plan here.) We need to work on all three and we need to do so with everyone at the table building a shared vision with shared commitments for our city.

    Yes, we need Development, and that means Ron Dellums, like any good Mayor, will work with developers and business to bring worthwhile jobs to Oakland. Ron Dellums, however, promises to do so with the community involved at every step of the process and with ALL the structural agents (including County, philanthopic organizations, the School District, small businesses and State and Federal Government) understanding the broader goals and needs of Oakland's citizens. That's leadership; forging broad partnership is something Ron Dellums is good at.

    Yes, Law Enforcement is a critical aspect of reducing violent crime, but Law Enforcement alone is not the answer. We all know this. We won't make Oakland truly safe simply with more police officers or stricter law enforcement alone; Ron Dellums gets this too. (See Dellums on a Safer Oakland.) In addition to law enforcement, we need to get our communities involved in policing and improving the safety and quality of life in our neighorhoods. Our Mayor needs to be out front on this. Ron Dellums has made that a pledge.

    Finally, the Oakland Mayor needs to lead in building the infrastructure that wins Oakland improvements in education and jobs. When there is an educational system invested in getting every one of our students the skills they need to thrive, when there's city development committed to bringing good jobs to our citizens, that's when Law Enforcement and community organizations can best work together to make our streets safe for everyone. When we're all invested, we're all on board. (Read here for more.) Ron Dellums understands this point of view. It's how he thinks and sees the world.

    Simply put, it's hard to convince the citizens of Oakland that our government is working in our best interests when that government's actions seem to put chain store developers and law enforcement as its top priorities to the neglect of our communities and schools. We all know that some developers have been happy to see zoning that allows them to put up fast food restaurants and national chain stores without regard for our small businesses and the health of our citizens. We recognize that the corporations that run big box stores have been happy to see more police cars in the parking lots of their shopping centers but aren't as invested in the neighborhood next door. All of us know some residents of wealthy neighborhoods in our city who are happy to pay for more police officers but who are not willing to realize that our neighborhoods are linked by more than simply concern about crime.

    The "development / law enforcement" approach may raise home prices in some neighborhoods...and it has improved life in parts of Oakland, something IS better than nothing, or blight...but development alone doesn't necessarily make a healthy city, or a safe city for that matter. Jobs in big box stores and fast food restaurants aren't "good jobs." A city were some citizens have safe neighborhoods and others live in daily fear of crime is not a healthy city. Finally, a city whose school system is failing is a city in need of a wake up call for change.

    Oakland can be so much more than that. Education and community-oriented development are not mere challenges that Oakland's city government should promise to "try harder" at; they are at the core of the social contract that Oakland makes with its citizens. We should deliver the best education possible to all of our kids and we should fight to build a city with great jobs for them when they reach adulthood. A healthy city honors that commitment; it's where the three challenges of "crime fighting," development and education link up. Ron Dellums gets this and has pledged to make this world view the centerpiece of his mayorship, and that, more than any other reason, is why he has my support for mayor of Oakland.

    #2: There are two other pragmatic factors that Ron Dellums brings to the table that are worth mentioning as well:

    A) Mayor Dellums has promised to bring a "new generation of leaders" into City Hall, in fact, that is the major goal of his candidacy, getting people involved. I'd be very interested to see what fresh, young voices Mayor Dellums would bring to City Hall. Oakland could use some fresh voices in our politics.

    B) Ron Dellums' experience in Congress means that when it comes to critical negotiations with the State Legislature and the Federal Government, in particular, negotiating to regain local control of our schools, that we will have a savvy, powerful advocate for the people in the Mayor's Office. That means something. We need someone who has the clout to cut deals that work for Oakland's advantage. Ron Dellums has that clout and that know-how. The City of Oakland, from our downtown to our waterfront to the Chabot Science facility is full of examples Ron Dellums' advocacy in Congress; no one should forget that.

    For the above reasons, with all due respect to Nancy Nadel and Ignacio De La Fuente, I support Ron Dellums for mayor and plan on voting for him in the June 6th primary.

    Friday, June 02, 2006

    Vote for Debra Bowen: CA Secretary of State

    Any Californian concerned about privacy, election reform and good government should make sure to vote for Debra Bowen for CA Secretary of State on June 6th.

    Here's a link to Bowen's website and, from the SF Chronicle:

    As chair of the Senate Elections Committee, Bowen has been a determined advocate of bringing more transparency to the political process -- such as getting lobbying expenses online in a more accessibly way -- and installing more rigorous standards on the use of electronic voting equipment. She has done her homework on technological issues and is ready to make the case that California needs a more aggressive secretary of state to restore public confidence in the electoral process.

    Put Bowen in office in CA and you've got someone who understands election reform in a position where she can have a profound effect on it. In my view, that's a necessary complement to the hard work SO MANY local activists have done here in CA running for Party and County offices.

    (It's also not a bad idea getting someone in statewide office in CA who understands the whole breadth of privacy and sunshine issues. That's a good investment.)