William F. Buckley: This is how we remember you...

via Wikipedia:
In 1968, ABC News hired Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr. as political analysts of the Republican and Democratic presidential conventions, predicting that television viewers would enjoy seeing two men of letters engage in on-air battle; as it turned out, verbal and nearly physical combat were joined. After days of mutual bickering, their debates devolved to vitriolic, ad hominem attacks. During discussions of the 1968 Democratic National Convention Protests, the men were arguing about Freedom of Speech in regards to American protestors displaying a Viet Cong flag when Vidal told Buckley to "shut up a minute" and went on to call him a "pro-war crypto Nazi." The visibly livid Buckley replied: "Now listen, you queer. Stop calling me a crypto Nazi, or I'll sock you in the goddamn face and you'll stay plastered." After an interruption by anchor and facilitator Howard K. Smith, the men continued to discuss the topic in a less hostile manner.

Later, in 1969, the feud was continued as Buckley further attacked Vidal in the lengthy essay, "On Experiencing Gore Vidal", published in the August 1969 issue of Esquire; the essay is collected in The Governor Listeth, an anthology of Buckley's writings of the time. In a key passage attacking Vidal as an apologist for homosexuality, Buckley wrote: "the man who in his essays proclaims the normalcy of his affliction [i.e., homosexuality], and in his art the desirability of it, is not to be confused with the man who bears his sorrow quietly. The addict is to be pitied and even respected, not the pusher."


Historian Gray Click Here!

I don't know if you know this, but the Internet watches back. The successes of Anonymous are not your successes. Facebook users take note, not only is it near impossible to delete your account, but Facebook employees follow your clicking for fun. Even if you are unknown, you are not un-noted. This site uses Google Analytics to become analytically involved with our readership. (The average time on site is 10 minutes for an US reader, while not even a minute for a UK reader. How we can compete with Beat That Quote?)
As of now, we can take comfort, the eyes that stare back at us rarely focus in. You may be filmed as you neck in Central Park, but odds are no one will look at the tape unless a Terror strikes nearby. You may post a wacky comment on your Facebook crush after visiting their profile for the 50th time today, and while Facebook employees could giggle at this, they probably won't. But what about the historians.

I don't really sweat our blog's hits and stats. I post for my friends and family, as a personal record, and for my true love; the historian I sometimes imagine wafting through the gases of my web life. He is the hidden figure in the "generation me" equation --a name by the way which must go and is completely inadequate in describing the natural self-indulgence children born today will posses. But the web denizens of today and tomorrow will continue to dream of being noticed after they are dead, in some sort of 7-up induced fantasy.

But what will remain, and will anyone care? First, what will remain: from my experience, not a lot. This blog will be a collection of broken links and words that were arranged just to make room for the links in the first place. Will that dance with the mildest of restrictions be one day noticed as art? Does it satisfy Alan Moore's criteria of structure? Probably not. But if not as art, then as comforting history? Who knows? I've been online long enough to know that things don't last out here, at least not how you intended. But that doesn't mean no one will care.

To be honest, I'm not ready to say if my Historian of Tomorrow will ever find me. That's a prediction I'm not ready to make. But surely there are smaller things I can try my hand at. The futurists at the Long Now have been doing this for awhile. Kevin Kelly has a daring prediction on Long Bets that I'm not willing to disagree with:
“By 2060 the total population of humans on earth will be less than it is today.”
If you take into account what Stewart Brand says, it's hard to disagree.

But here's a prediction I've had kicking around in a notebook for awhile. But I'll put it into play now,

Within five years I will be able to buy a Killer Robot Nixon from the Futurama episode, A Head in the Polls.

Eventually anything you want, will be available anyway you want it. As culture continues it's march into the physical world, expect more dolls, replicas, and garments from your favorite obscure tv show/movie/book/comic/blog post.


BarackBack Mountain


Trust Them With Your Life?

I haven't trusted the Secret Service to preform their job in a non-political way for years now. Now there's this news:
Police concerned about order to stop weapons screening at Obama rally

I first clued into possible SS malfeasance when I read this amazing Rolling Stone article on how the press framed Al Gore in 2000. Included is a dissection of a little manufactured story that made Gore look bad and was started by an SS decision. Then the Secret Service were organizing the "Free Speech Zones," and the questionable security at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston.

Are they impartial? If I were running for president I would hire my own security firm.


Why I hate Alternet

Thirsty for news, I went over to Alternet.org, a progressive news site I used to read. All my usual sources have kind of said their peace for the week, and the lazy bums are resting all weekend. And with the strike preventing me from watching any new television shows, regardless of any talk, (Talk is not TV!) I was really ready to read some news. With the elections heat, and TV's lull, I've been reading more and more. So here's what I find:
What? I'm missing a chance to consider the horrors of life in middle America? Geez, I'm such a dope. Here I am, ignoring this news story that's been playing on TV since I was 15, and wasting a perfectly good opportunity to consider horrors. Why am I even bothering to write this, when I could drop everything and start being afraid right now? Psychological torture is just a cable news show away. Like FDR said, 'you've got nothing but fear on every channel.'

But if you consider too much horror, watch too much TV, see the planes hit the towers too many times, there is no going back. You've been shocked too many times. 'You've watched it, you can't unwatch it.'


Pictured Here, TV

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, pictured here running for President of the News.

Futurama, pictured here being watched in the future.


Obama Discusses Faith with Honesty

This June 2006 speech by Barack Obama recently surfaced on digg. It's an amazing speech, a well reasoned argument that imagines an America engaging in a moral debate that supersedes and includes religion. It's forty minutes long, but I can't recommend it more. For the first time I am moved to feel something; what I've wanted from politics since I first read Kurt Vonnegut. In this speech Obama makes me believe in a world where our common humanity can prevail over stupidity and greed. For the first time I am absolutely convinced that Obama is the real deal.

Because when we ignore the debate about what it means to be a good Christian or Muslim or Jew; when we discuss religion only in the negative sense of where or how it should not be practiced, rather than in the positive sense of what it tells us about our obligations towards one another; when we shy away from religious venues and religious broadcasts because we assume that we will be unwelcome - others will fill the vacuum, those with the most insular views of faith, or those who cynically use religion to justify partisan ends.

In other words, if we don't reach out to evangelical Christians and other religious Americans and tell them what we stand for, then the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons and Alan Keyeses will continue to hold sway.

More fundamentally, the discomfort of some progressives with any hint of religion has often prevented us from effectively addressing issues in moral terms. Some of the problem here is rhetorical - if we scrub language of all religious content, we forfeit the imagery and terminology through which millions of Americans understand both their personal morality and social justice.

Imagine Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address without reference to "the judgments of the Lord." Or King's I Have a Dream speech without references to "all of God's children." Their summoning of a higher truth helped inspire what had seemed impossible, and move the nation to embrace a common destiny.

Our failure as progressives to tap into the moral underpinnings of the nation is not just rhetorical, though. Our fear of getting "preachy" may also lead us to discount the role that values and culture play in some of our most urgent social problems.

After all, the problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect ten point plan. They are rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness - in the imperfections of man.

Solving these problems will require changes in government policy, but it will also require changes in hearts and a change in minds. I believe in keeping guns out of our inner cities, and that our leaders must say so in the face of the gun manufacturers' lobby - but I also believe that when a gang-banger shoots indiscriminately into a crowd because he feels somebody disrespected him, we've got a moral problem. There's a hole in that young man's heart - a hole that the government alone cannot fix.
Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America's population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.

And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let's read our bibles. Folks haven't been reading their bibles.


It's weirder than we can imagine

Before leaving the Senate, Obama was pulled aside for some jovial banter with Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho), whose men's room arrest last year caused a national stir. On Tuesday, Obama won the Democratic caucuses in Craig's state.

Clinton, meanwhile, appeared to be more strategic in her final chats. She ventured into the far left corner of the chamber reserved for newcomers, where she buttonholed Sen. James Webb (D-Va.), who has remained undeclared in advance of Tuesday's Virginia primary.

Missing was Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who took a commanding lead for the GOP presidential nomination. McCain's supporters celebrated on his behalf, after Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) spied Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.). The two had spent the previous several days stumping for McCain.

"The rabbi! The rabbi!" Graham called out to Lieberman, as the two men laughed and hugged.



Bokonon '08

Today's Dictionary:

A group of people who, unbeknownst to them, are collectively doing God's will in carrying out a specific, common, task. A karass is driven forward in time and space by tension within the karass.

A karass made of two persons. "A true duprass can't be invaded, not even by children born of such a union."

President of the United States

If Hillary Clinton is elected president we would once again find ourselves living under a non-conventional presidency. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney shared a non-conventional presidency. The Vice P.O.T.U.S. had a larger office and staff than the P.O.T.U.S. Cheney did the heavy lifting, and explained the course of the nation to Bush in private meetings. Are the best interests of the republic being served? It is impossible to find out with such a strange arrangement. The Clinton's Duprass would be more of the same.

The privacy of the Clintons' marriage, and the unique decision-making process they have built together, is not healthy for a democracy, even if they feel it produces good decisions. The non-conventional presidency's we've experimented with have damaged our nation, by virtue of their ability to remain unchecked within the system. We need transparency. Without it, we have nothing.
Because this country, to my way of thinking, cannot be successful if it ever divides on sectarian lines. If there are any considerable number of our people that are going to listen to appeals to their passions and to their prejudice, if bigotry and intolerance and their sister vices are going to succeed, it is dangerous for the future life of the Republic, and the best way to kill anything un-American is to drag it out into the open; because anything un-American cannot live in the sunlight.
--Al Smith

Obama on Healthcare:
"I would have a table, around which you'd have doctors, nurses, patient advocates. The insurance ...companies would get a seat at the table; they just would not get to buy every chair.

"I would put my plan forward ... and these negotiations would be on C-SPAN ... so the public would be part of the conversation and would see the choices being made"


News has a kind of mystery

I just got back from the polls, hopefully I'm not the only one in the mood for news:


The night of the Iowa caucuses, after getting a congratulatory call from McCain, Huckabee told the candidate, according to aides: "Now it's your turn to kick his butt."
Before and after debates, rival campaign staffers note, Romney tends not to mingle with the other candidates — most of whom know each other professionally — preferring instead to keep close to his family and staff. And those same staffers delight in trading stories about Romney's odd behavior. The day before the Republican primary, Huckabee mocked Romney for ordering lunch at a Kentucky Fried Chicken, then peeling off the fried coating and eating it with a knife and fork.
Presented with a golf club, Huckabee said he wouldn't be very good at the game: "I'd be like Mitt Romney eating fried chicken."
The article makes some speculation as to why all the other Republicans hate Romney. Is he just too Mormon? As someone who lived in Massachusetts while Mitt was governor, I can assure you he is a total scumbag. And hating him is a perfectly rational response. I would like to see him eaten by wolves.


McCain and Huckabee have seemed awfully palsy-walsy. Might Huckabee join McCain's ticket once he's completed his task of spending all Mitt's money? Have the Republicans actually come up with a ticket and a scenario that could bring them victory? Maybe. I've been convinced that there will be no way any Republican could run for president in 2008 without his party's history of vampirism and moloch worship getting in the way. McCain has cultivated the respect of most democratic leaders, who show their hawkish hearts with their affinity towards him. McCain and Huckabee pull in different groups of similar Americans who could easily be united, especially against the Clintons. Scary, huh?

In a perfect world, Bill Richardson would be elected president in 2008, and America could just chill out. Since stepping out of the race, Obama and the Clintons have been courting his endorsement. Bill and Bill watched the super bowl together. But I still think he might endorse Obama or wait until after the convention.
The walls of Richardson's office are covered with large portraits of Native Americans. Indian pottery is on display around the room. The governor was holding court on a leather couch, avoiding the pain of getting up to greet visitors because he had wrenched his back exercising.

Richardson doesn't appear to be a guy who spends a lot of time on a treadmill. Unlike skinny Barack Obama, Richardson looks like a man who enjoys a meal. Unlike John Edwards or Mitt Romney, Richardson looks as if he can get along without hairspray and a starched shirt.

The governor's tie was pulled loose, his collar unbuttoned. When he crossed his legs, his black cowboy boots were on full display. A two-week growth of black whiskers covered his jaw.

Richardson said he grows a beard whenever he goes through a period of decompression. His wife hates it, as do his advisers, who tell him he'll look terrible on "Meet the Press," but Richardson doesn't care. Besides, the East Coast pundits only want to ask him whom he's going to endorse, Clinton or Obama, and the follow-up question, what is he going to get for his endorsement. His answer to the media: "Screw you."

He seemed pretty happy for a guy who has just gone through a big rejection.

"Some people, they run for president, they don't make it, they're devastated," he said. "I bounced back the next day. (Still) there is a little element of sadness. I'm actually sad to leave the campaign trail because I loved campaigning, I loved running; I loved being in the debates."

It helped to have the immediate task of dealing with the Legislature. Only hours before I met with him, he got a domestic partners bill passed. That's no small feat in a fairly conservative state. However, Richardson said, a red state in the West is not the same as a red state elsewhere.

"This is a state, like many in the West, that prizes individualism," he said.

Newshour Interactive 2008 Coverage

A quick follow up to the ongoing attempt of the Bush Administration to get telecoms immunity for spying on Americans. Howard Dean's brother hassled me into caring about this, I even sent an e-mail to Keith Olbermann asking him to push it. Well it sounds like the people won this battle. Now if Bush wants to protect the telecoms, he'll need to veto a defense bill he said we needed life or death style. We'll keep you posted.

Because we still can.

The new look

As Brendan mentioned, we're experimenting with a new look for the site, and there are some growing pains. It has been noted that some things look strange if you resize the text, or if you're viewing the site in Internet Explorer. We'll be fixing these bugs as we find time.

In the mean time, if you've just woken up and realized that you're still using Internet Explorer, go ahead and give Firefox a shot, make your text the default size (usually something like CMD+Zero), and tell us what you think about the redesign.

See you at the polls on Tuesday.