This One Crazy Thing You Can Do To Make the Political Reality Better, Or, Thoughts After the Republican Wave


So, we got the “wave” that we deserved. Republicans took seats in the Senate, the House, and at governors’ mansions across the nation. This good old-fashioned trouncing has the right quite spiritedly, nay gleefully, affirming that America is the “greatest nation in the history of the mankind.” (Interesting case of confirmation bias, don’t you think?) In light of last night’s outcome I thought I’d pen a plea—and it may not be the one that you expect.

For decades we’ve been bowling alone. Voluntary association by Americans—unions, social clubs, bowling leagues, et cetera—has gone the way of the dodo as the internet destroys human empathy. Enquiry shows that without voluntary association, individuals become bereft of social trust. Historically, without social trust, we see very little support for liberal legislation (in the inverse, political and social trust was at an all-time high in America during the passage of New Deal programs). Without liberal legislation, America’s Democratic party lives on as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and as a brand without substance. Logic tells us that if political distrust leads to a dearth of liberal-minded legislation, the political right has no incentive to be trustworthy and, in fact, is likely to work toward disillusionment.

What can be done?

First, let me make an abstract claim I can’t substantiate; one I feel in my bones: with the devolution of trust, the two primary American political parties are now, and have for decades been, in cahoots. Yes, cats and dogs are getting along—a closed-loop ouroboros with Democrat head eating Republican tail.

It all sounds crazy, I know, but why should it? For one, candidates across the aisle take funding from the same corporate sponsors. Their cooperative Manichaeism holds the American political system in a paroxysmal state, a tug-o’-war over the same irreconcilable issues. Cast as devil or god, each party plays a specter defined by individual temperament—reason is the enemy of both. How else could absurdities such as a climate-change-denier as climate chair work? It’s all a comedy of errors intended to inflame sensibilities toward either extreme.

Political change is supposed to be hard fought. Recall that Hegel called history a slaughter bench, and viewed war as more a fight to the death between competing ideas than as one fought by armies. Still, the reward for all that bloodshed ought to be synthesis:
I believe that the diagram is broken. There are no new ideas, only materially different methods aimed at the same end: acquisition. We see a seesaw of competing ideology, with each side digging their feet in more deeply each time they become the ousted party. The whole scheme degenerates to the extremes. Here’s (an incredibly poor) diagram to illustrate the change:
New Diagram

So, for those interested in avoiding the status quo, everlasting political infighting, and pervasive denial of rights, what can be done?

Love and associate with thy neighbor, friends. As often as possible, break taboo and talk about political perceptions and realities. Actual political dialog among peers changes the paradigm and sets independent actors on the path toward creation and understanding of ideas—a sharp departure from the consumption of stale prescribed thought we’re spoon-fed by the mainstream media. More important than farm-to-table, shop local, slow-food and others localized movements you can think of, instead, Think Local.

Shut off your teevee. Forget what George Will, Wonkette, and even Nate Silver have to say. Support independent candidates. Become one yourself! At the very least, go roll a few with friends and talk about what is and what ought to be.

dude abiding

If we don’t take political thought back, we’re in for a thousand years of political gymnastics, business as usual, and trickle-up economics powered by right and left alike.

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DANGER by MarkedMatt23
DANGER, a photo by MarkedMatt23 on Flickr.

Just got this back from processing. It somehow guided my thoughts to the POTUS election.

Leaving — Headed to

Moving off of

Thanks to everyone who’s followed along here. I’ve exported all content and all new pieces will be available at

Second Break-In on Logan Square Street in 31 Days


Damn.  That makes two cars and two broken windows in our care and on our street in 31 days.  The first, on July 12th, was the missus’ sister’s, a late 90’s compact SUV that we car-sat while she was out of country.  The perp walked away with an in-dash CD player and we were left holding the guilt bag.  Tonight, it was her folks’ 3rd car, which we had borrowed to gain the freedom to leave the city on the weekends and the casualty was an original iPod shuffle.  Rarely used, the early millennium Toyota sat just a few hundred feet from our front door beside a turn of the century neoclassical church.

We were well-acquainted with the process and, largely because of my stubborn idea that an unreported crime is a nonexistent crime, we called the report in to the police.  More accurately, we simply emailed it in as I already had the 14th District’s Police Commander’s email addy from the last go-around.  After reading my note — an irritating one, I’m sure (I mentioned Broken Window Theory) — she graciously and promptly dispatched a squad car.

The point of this post isn’t really to critique the CPD or the Alderman’s response.  In an environment defined by political austerity and group-politik-pandering, I’m sure their hands are tied.  Of course CPD can’t rightly investigate property damage and theft in a city that boasts a homicide rate that bests Kabul’s.

One feels the prick of privilege in even broaching the discomfort caused by the inconvenience that accompanies this sort of thing.  People die in this city every day.  We lost a CD player and a $50 iPod and we’re left wary of parking on our own street but, otherwise, intact.  The audacity that’s rolled up in the willingness to break a window, in broad daylight, to glom on to a minor electronic device that black-market-retails for $10 sheds light on the desperation of our dispossessed.  How arbitrary is it that each of us exist as a relative have or have-not?  In many cases, it turns out to be a transitory standing.

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Craigslist Patriotarianism — Exciting Publishing Opportunity!!!

And here it is, hailing from Minneapolis, MN, the metropolis that boasts the highest number of PhDs per capita in the nation: your chance to contribute to the documentation and exposé of the US federal government’s conspiracy to undermine its country, constituency, and sustaining tax base–conveniently enough, it looks like it will be released just prior to the presidential election. To be clear, best-qualified candidates will provide a 100-word essay questioning the incumbent president’s country of origin, and “if you think the US government officials are corrupted and working against the American People in many ways, that would be helpful.” Good luck applying!

Merchants Of Cool | FRONTLINE | PBS

Watch The Full Program | Merchants Of Cool | FRONTLINE | PBS.

Revisited this over the weekend after having watched the program in an anthropology course a few years ago in undergrad.  11 years old now, I think the piece still carries lots of weight.  The missus and I had a conversation earlier today (which prompted the MOC review) as to whether there were more than 8 personality archetypes in America; cosmology shells that exist to be marketed at in powerful interactive ways.  I doubt that there are but she holds out hope for more nuance in the human condition.  Either way, it takes a disciplined will to maintain a life as one’s own in contemporaneous society.


Craggy by MarkedMatt23

This recent shot taken during a Sunday hike reminds of the neck-straining gaze towards the weekend. There’s much to overcome; a million little crevices and jutting corners. Still, at the top, life tends to grant grand glances of the valley below. It’s there that we remember why, how, and what-for.

Hurried and Waiting

I happened to have an especially rough workday today.  I had a sit-down with the only seminormal sort in the bullpen — the one fellow in suite such-and-such who didn’t pretend that the Internet gymnastics we each perform on a daily basis are a religious rite — and I found out he was giving notice because the environment was “just too miserable.”  He cited passive-aggressive behavior, ineffective management, disinterest among the staff, and a generally tense milieu as his reasons.  I can’t say I blame him.

The train, too, had given him cause for departure.  The good old Blue line — we wise former Chicago-eastsiders know it’s not quite half as bad as its downright dangerous cousin the Red line — its sporadically underground, steamy-armpit stations like Logan Square and Belmont, the mixture of conspicuous hipster-yuppies, muted working-class types, and full-blown suits riding, together and disinterested, into the mouth of Chicago’s Loop.

We all hurry up or down ruddy CTA stairs only to wait at the edge of the motionless platform, to stumble into gaping-maw mechanized doors onto ribbed-metal and hard-plastic train cars and then to wait again, shuffled to and fro amid the human-cattle tide within the train car’s entrails.  As the inhale and exhale of inbound and outbound travelers inflates and contracts it’s all eyes downward, watching iPods, iPads, iPhones, Kindles, paperbacks, and sometimes feet.  We don’t look at each other anymore.

We ride and rush and gush out of halting trains at different points within the city proper.  The rush-hour crowd teems and bursts out of cavernous underground bunkers to hurry onto an eight- or ten-hour wait – until life and the commute begin again later that night.

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Roderick on the Line

Roderick on the Line

Wow.  Two guys have a conversation and ant holocausts, bird-bigotry, Kurt Vonnegut quotes, Jeremy Bentham’s head, the Humpty Dance and a whole score of other topics surface. Their podcast just might be the perfect way to spend a two hour layover at the airport.

Take Krugman as you like but…

Pathos of the Plutocrat –

While I have my own issues with Krugman as one of those polar pols, nevermind the orientation, he’s struck something here that’s struck me throughout the Hope-mongerer’s presidency.  While I can’t quite put my finger on it, I just know that the economic stagnation that’s become a defining characteristic of my generation’s (I just turned 30 and stopped wearing sandals) pathos is, in large part, due to a stubborn, mean-spirited, revanchist streak bundled up in the emotional personage of this country’s ultra-rich mover-shaker class.

Since 2010 we’ve heard that corporate treasury accounts are flush with cash — this article asks the wrong question, I think … why aren’t corporations hiring with that $, thereby increasing optimism about the wider consumer economic outlook, AND distributing it to shareholders (which tends to improve the outlook at the top-end of the wealth spectrum and create disparate distribution of wealth which some claim is even harmful for the beneficiaries) — and yet we’ve seen incredibly bleak jobs numbers during that span and in the short-run.

I can’t really enunciate what’s underfoot here.  The best that I can guess is that the tiny, ultra-privileged group of status-quo Teutonics who truly shape policy in this country are upset that, despite owning the media, our national discourse, and our economy, they haven’t been able to root out every last ounce of resentment over the gross disparity and corporatist agenda rampant in the land of the free-to-work-and-keep-their-mouths-shut and the home of the brave-and-jingoistic-when-it-comes-to-the-enemy-other-but-silent-when-it-comes-to-the-devil-within (I know, I’m sorry).  This sturdy group of look-alike gentlemen would really like it if we threw a ticker-tape parade once monthly to celebrate their hegemonic free-market for the poor, socialist for the rich economic victory.  Oh, and until they have that sort of triumphant acquiescence from every last one of us they’re going to hold our economy hostage, paint the first minority president with the resulting economic failures, and take their balls and go home until they’re able to ram, cram, foist, force a guy who looks and thinks like them in to highest office and reclaim their rightful place on the political pedestal.

Am I paranoid here? Does anyone else see things this way?  Now I’m over-anxious on a Saturday afternoon…

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