Tag Archives: politics

Go Read Brian Phillips’ “Your Stupid Rage”

I am here to save your life, and I’m not kidding. This isn’t about the state of discourse on the internet, or nostalgia for some imaginary pastoral of 1950s civility, or making sure I don’t get yelled at in blog comments. This is about you, and how you are going to live in the world. I mean how you’re going to live as a sports fan, but let there be no limit to the revelation: I mean how you’re going to live in every other way, too.

Brian Phillips’ screed on rage in soccer is one of those pieces I would love to force everyone I know to read. It’s through-and-through wonderful, and touches on the disturbing trend of how politics have become a sport, how internet culture has infected everything, and how miserable it is to let rage consume you.

Not to spoil the end, but this is too beautiful to not quote:

> The secret is to care, I mean really care, about something other than your club. That thing can be the game itself, or the truth, or just being a reasonable person. You can care about something other than your club and still be totallysupercommitted to your club. It doesn’t mean not supporting your team through thick and thin; it just means being able to tell the difference between thick and thin, and not thinking that your favorite forum, or your group of like-minded supporters, is so important that it throws reality on the wrong end of a greater-than sign. It means doing this for fun, and not for revenge or for a sense of deep-down defining identity, even if you’re a crazy tattooed ultra. You can be a crazy tattooed ultra and still be fine, for that matter. You just can’t be an idiot.

The Great Release

And it feels like it won’t come on
And it takes like you’re full of love
Still the time never to pay on
Still the time never to pay on

And it feels like I’m coming home
And it’s still like a merry cow
And it feels like it’s coming home
And it feels like it’s full of love
Still in time is the great release
Something dying will be a great release

I recently realized that I began writing for the web not long before the 2000 election season. There was no cause and effect there – I certainly wasn’t writing about anything deep on Day One – but I do find the timing curious. Soon, what had been a predominantly vain site about my school goings-on became my emotional release to the world.

As outlets go, I’ve been hard pressed to find one that can be more cathartic than writing: writing for myself, for a nebulous group of friends and coworkers, for the world. I write to preserve thoughts, to capture feelings. I write so that I will not – so that I can not – ever forget.

With that in mind: I do not ever want to forget how I felt at 5:58 in the morning, walking to PS 16 and finding a line, the first time I would ever have to wait to vote. I was #31 at my polling station. I could not cast my vote soon enough.

And I do not ever want to forget how I felt last night, at a quarter past ten, when the path to victory became clear and I began to eagerly count down the forty-five minutes left until the west coast closed and the election could be called.

And I do not ever want to forget how the nation and the world reacted at eleven o’clock the evening of November the 4th, as the tears came to my eyes.

And I do not ever want to forget watching John McCain concede – both for his attempts to mend the wounds he had caused during his campaign, and for him coming face to face with them, as his supporters booed the president-elect.

And I do not ever want to forget listening to President Obama’s victory speech, and realizing that I no longer had reason to doubt the possibility of the American spirit, to no longer believe that hope was little more than an exercise in futility.

I can not ever forget what the last eight years have done to this country. It has divided us, such that my own relatives feel that calling me a “commie pinko” is acceptable discourse. It has destroyed our good standing around the world. It has warped our values: intelligence and eloquence had become something that we no longer wanted in our leaders.

And I will not delude myself: the next four years will be extremely rough on our new government. I do not hold any expectations that everything that is broken will get fixed. President Obama does not have all the answers, nor should any one of us expect him to. But we should expect him to do right: to uphold our rights and empower us; to work with our allies and strengthen us; to deter our enemies and protect us; to set a good example and lead us. We will hold him accountable and demand transparency, just as we should any government.

But the electorate has spoken resoundingly. No longer are we a nation who can be cowed by our government in the name of security, fear, or war. A nation that can so strongly reject fear mongering has already found its strength again. And with the leadership we have elected, we have the possibility of rebuilding from the damage of those last eight years.

For the first time in my adult life, I am hopeful for this nation.

I do not ever, ever want to forget that.

Election Day Reading List

Arianna Huffington declares The Internet the big winner of the 2008 election:

From the way campaigns connect to supporters, to the way those campaigns are covered, to the way voters decide who to vote for, 2008 has delivered the first truly 21st century presidential race. And election night promises to fortify the Internet’s victory.

Andrew Sullivan on why he’s voting for Barack Obama:

But there is something about his rise that is also supremely American, a reminder of why so many of us love this country so passionately and are filled with such grief at what has been done to it and in its name. I endorse Barack Obama because I will not give up on America, because I believe in America, and in her constitution and decency and character and strength.

Nate Silver on what to watch for tonight.

In The Political Deep End

Five minutes ago, I’m resting on the couch, nursing a pinched nerve in my neck; I have my laptop open for scanning Twitter, political blogs, and Metafilter to catch impressions on the debate.

I hear a female voice coming from the TV – Countdown with Keith Olbermann was on but I had zoned out. My brain identified it quickly as Andrea Mitchell, and I carried on.

And then I stopped to consider: *I can identify political commentators without visuals*.

Somebody, please, save me.

Journalistic Integrity

Let me see if I’ve got this “how to be a journalist” thing straight.

You go to a message board and post something laughably stupid, like “is Obama too skinny to be president?

> Does anyone out there think Barack Obama is too thin to be president? Anyone having a hard time relating to him and his “no excess body fat”? Please let me know. Thanks!

You get a brilliantly articulate response from “onlinebeerbellygirl”, who has never posted anywhere else on those forums and seemingly just registered that day:

> Yes I think He is to skinny to be President.Hillary has a potbelly and chuckybutt I’d of Voted for Her.I won’t vote for any beanpole guy.

You think, “JACKPOT!”:

> Love your response and your username (onlinebeerbellygirl). Would you mind shooting me an email so I can ask you a few more quesitons? My email is amy.chozick@gmail.com. Thanks so much!

Then you cite this as “research” or a “source” in your shitty article in the Wall Street Journal on the same topic:

> But in a nation in which 66% of the voting-age population is overweight and 32% is obese, could Sen. Obama’s skinniness be a liability? Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them.
> …
>”I won’t vote for any beanpole guy,” another Clinton supporter wrote last week on a Yahoo politics message board.

And that’s journalism, right?

Mighty tip of the hat to Sadly, No! for digging this one out.

Pry My iPod From My Cold, Run-Over Hands

NYC blog-types are up in arms today over [Carl Kruger’s proposed “no-ipod-or-cellphone-while-walking” ban](http://www.gothamist.com/archives/2007/02/07/banning_ipod_ce.php).

> “While people are tuning into their iPods and cell phones, they’re tuning out the world around them… If you want to listen to your iPod, sit down and listen to it. You want to walk in the park, enjoy it. You want to jog around a jogging path, all the more power to you, but you should not be crossing streets and endangering yourself and the lives of others.”

It’s good to know that after a landmark election, particular in NY state, we are still giving government jobs to the batshit insane.

Before we get to the snark, here’s the simple, logical response I’ve been pitching in response all morning:

* If you’re crossing a street – with or without an iPod – in such a way that you are a danger to traffic and those around you, then you must not have the right of way.
* Logically, this means you are crossing against the light.
* This, of course, means that you are jaywalking, which is literally defined as “to cross or walk in the street or road unlawfully or without regard for approaching traffic.”
* We already have laws against jaywalking that are barely enforced.
* Why do we need another law?

Okay, on to the snark. Other distractions to ban around NYC:

* **Tourists that stop dead on the sidewalk of Times Square.** I’m constantly running into people taking pictures or gawking at neon signs. This is dangerous.
* **Stairs.** They are often slippery and/or wet, causing injury and possible death.
* **Rain.** Rain is distracting. Also, wet. Again, safety hazard!!!
* **Children.** Not only are they a distraction, they are a waste of taxpayer resources.
* **Cars.** Did you know the #1 cause of accidents on NYC’s roads are automobiles? It’s true! They must be banned immediately.
* **Light.** Our tourist friends have proven that any sort of shining object can lead to a disaster. Total darkness is much safer.
* **Evening.** On second though, plenty of bad things happen in the dark. Why, 74% of NYC crime occurs between the hours of 6PM and 6AM! Let’s get rid of 12 hours in the day.
* **Sound.** What’s more frightening than a car backfiring, a glass breaking, or a loud siren? Abolish noise, and we can focus on the task at hand – putting one foot in front of the other, repeatedly.
* **Knowledge.** You know the saying about curiosity killing the cat? ONE DEAD CAT IS TOO MANY PEOPLE.

I look forward to our non-existence going forward.

Olbermann Knocks It Out Of The Park

That subversion I was talking about yesterday? It doesn’t have to be sarcastic or shocking.
Sometimes the truth is more than enough.

(If you’re reading this via syndication or LiveJournal, click here for the video.)
The full transcript – and I apologize about the length, but this needs to be read – is courtesy of MSNBC:

The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis — and the sober contemplation — of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence — indeed, the loyalty — of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants — our employees — with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as “his” troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For in their time, there was another government faced with true peril — with a growing evil — powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the “secret information.” It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s — questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.

It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions — its own omniscience — needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all — it “knew” that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History — and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England — have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty — and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus, did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.

Excepting the fact, that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute — and exclusive — in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis.

It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscient ones.

That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.

And, as such, all voices count — not just his.

Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience — about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago — we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their “omniscience” as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire “Fog of Fear” which continues to envelop this nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have — inadvertently or intentionally — profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer’s New Clothes?

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?

The confusion we — as its citizens — must now address, is stark and forbidding.

But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note — with hope in your heart — that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light, and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a “new type of fascism.”

As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that — though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism – indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed: “confused” or “immoral.”

Thus, forgive me, for reading Murrow, in full:

“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,” he said, in 1954. “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.”

“We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.”

And so good night, and good luck.

(video is courtesy of Crooks And Liars)

God Of War

## [US lags in propaganda war: Rumsfeld](http://go.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=11258249&src=rss/topNews)

> NEW YORK (Reuters) – The United States lags dangerously behind al Qaeda and other enemies in getting out information in the digital media age and must update its old-fashioned methods, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Friday.

> Modernization is crucial to winning the hearts and minds of Muslims worldwide who are bombarded with negative images of the West, Rumsfeld told the Council on Foreign Relations.

> The Pentagon chief said today’s weapons of war included e-mail, Blackberries, instant messaging, digital cameras and Web logs, or blogs.

E-mail? More accounts than I can remember.

Blackberries? I’ve got a Sidekick, close enough.

Instant messaging? Four accounts – oh yeah, and I set up the IM server at work.

Digital cameras? Three if you count the cameraphone, two otherwise.

Blogs? Check.

Who knew I was such a warmonger?