Politics is getting depressing again…

I’ve been quite absorbed with my startup the last couple months, but it’s been hard to escape the derailment of the Obama administration’s political agenda — in the form of the current healthcare “debate” — less than a year after sweeping to office with a seemingly overwhelming mandate. As much as I’ve pushed these concerns to the back of my mind, I can’t help but at least subconsciously find the reemergence of the politics of fear depressing.

The right-wing extremists we united to vanquish only 10 months ago haven’t disappeared; they just went underground long enough for us to lose focus and for them to prepare their insurgency. This political battle is Afghanistan, not Iraq (or more accurately, what Iraq was supposed to be) — it’s not quick or sexy and the minute we let up, the enemy will take advantage with sneak attacks.

With enough stability regained that the everyone no longer feels we’re in crisis mode and Obama in office long enough for people to realize he’s not some kind of miracle worker and that the solutions to the problems we face are going to take meaningful time and effort, the right-wing has turned up the intensity of their guerilla war by reengaging in the politics of fear. Healthcare is obviously the most conspicuous theater (‘death panels’, really?!), but Glenn Beck’s unabashed claims that Obama is a racist, the “outrage” over Obama’s back-to-school speech, and now the forced resignation of Van Jones are all part of a pattern we cannot afford to ignore.

This post was prompted by one from Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, on the Van Jones debacle entitled “We All Blew It“. I couldn’t agree more, and it made me realize this is a problem that is only going to escalate if we don’t do something to stop it. We progressive Americans, who were only finally galvanized by our reaction to 8 years of Bush/Cheney coupled with the bright promise of the change Obama could bring, have reverted back not just to complacency, but worse to underestimation.

Just because *we* are immune to the politics of fear, does not mean they have lost their power — no matter how absurd the claims in question (whether it be ‘death panels’, Obama’s racism, or Van Jones’s “extremist views and coarse rhetoric”). Remember how much we underestimated George W. Bush in the 2000 election (regardless of whether he legitimately won, none of us thought it would ever even be close)? We have to stop assuming people fact check outrageous claims and recognize that inflammatory propaganda must be stopped in it’s tracks and those who perpetuate it must have their credibility undermined so they can’t continue to do so much damage. Say something enough times (especially on tv) and too many people will start to think it’s true. The more unsubstantiated and/or downright false claims we allow the Glenn Becks of the world to shout from the rooftops, the further they will push the boundaries. We cannot afford to let these extremists define the terms of engagement — if you have to answer questions on ‘death panels’, you’ve already lost.

The politics of hope are a challenge of patience and understanding, while politics of fear pander to our desire for quick fixes and to blame others. Getting people to think beyond sound-bites and seek substance is no easy task, but we have proven it can be done. Let’s not let all that hard work be squandered by neglecting to follow through.

I won’t lie, I’ve found the continued emails from the White House and Equality California (the No on Prop 8 folks) annoying. But I realize now that’s because they remind me I can and *should* be doing more. I’m going to start by phone banking for Equality California this week, because if I don’t participate then I don’t have a right to complain.

What are you going to do?

Delicious Bookmarks for September 2nd

These are my Delicious links for September 2nd:

Delicious Bookmarks for July 21st through August 31st

These are my Delicious links for July 21st through August 31st:

Delicious Bookmarks for July 20th

These are my Delicious links for July 20th:

  • Ed Ulbrich shows how Benjamin Button got his face | Video on TED.com – A look at Digital Domain's process for creating the fully CG performance of Benjamin Button's head for the first hour of the film. Using high-resolution 3D scanning and the F.A.C.S. methodology they developed a template for creating a digital library of facial components that could then be animated using the actor's actual facial expressions.

Delicious Bookmarks for July 9th

These are my Delicious links for July 9th:

  • Universal/TuneCore deal opens major doors for indie artists – Ars Technica – By offering their marketing services to independent musicians on a fee basis with no transfer of rights required, Universal Music Group is basically turning into a music marketing agency. The decline of physical distribution (for which labels were gate-keepers) and the ascendency of relatively open digital channels coupled with the elimination of barriers to entry in production costs means that mainstream marketing is really the only differentiated competency the labels have left. Universal's recognition of that and this play to those strengths is a smart move. It will be interesting to see if other labels (and ultimately studios, who are subject to the same technological market shifts) will follow suit.

Delicious Bookmarks for July 6th

These are my Delicious links for July 6th:

  • Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport | Wired.com Product Reviews – Great review of the new $2.1M Bugatti convertible: "The acceleration is so immediate you can feel your eyeballs deform under the G-forces. It's a sensation of isolationist joy, an out-of-body awareness that you're moving faster than the world can react. Bystanders vaguely remember seeing a flash of expensive paint a few seconds after you disappear over the horizon; entire generations of insects die on your prow. Passing other motorists becomes a dangerous entitlement that has you resenting oncoming traffic for hogging your "VIP lane" — especially when you realize that you can outrun not only the 5-0's cruisers, but their helicopters, too. If they wanna catch you, they're gonna have to dust off Airwolf and drag Jan Michael Vincent out of rehab."

Delicious Bookmarks for June 22nd

These are my Delicious links for June 22nd:

  • Sorry, There’s No Way To Save The TV Business – A clear and concise overview of how the incumbent stakeholders in the TV business are oblivious to the fundamental changes being wrought by delivery of video over the Internet and how this rising tide will ultimately wash away the strategic underpinnings of their legacy business models, which ultimately cannot be translated to this new world.
  • Not safe for work: And we’ll tweet at the end of the tour | Technology | guardian.co.uk – "Looking around the hall at the same-old-same-old faces of microblogging – the people who have been around long enough to have usernames like @amanda and @drew and @mario – all given just enough stage time to remind everyone how awesome their little corner of Twitter is – I realised that 140 Characters was never supposed to be a conference about "the state of now" at all. Rather it's a conference about the state of "then". A conference designed to bring together those of us who have been using Twitter since the start and who now feel like we've lost control of it to celebrities like Aston Kutcher and Oprah. A chance for us all to sit around and talk about the good old days when Scoble and iJustine still mattered a damn and where having 50,000 geeks following you was the pinnacle of success…Or to put it another way, 140 Characters was like a meeting of Twitter Early Adopters Anonymous."

Delicious Bookmarks for June 12th through June 15th

These are my Delicious links for June 12th through June 15th:

  • Topspin » Twitter Emerges as a Viable Direct Marketing Channel – An examination of how Twitter is helping artists using Topspin go direct-to-fan. Using awe.sm, the Topspin + SAM crew were able to establish that 22% of traffic on the first day of Jimmy Eat World's latest album release came from Twitter and that accounted for 20% of the sales. The emergence of Twitter as a meaningful traffic driver has been complicated by the difficulty in tracking its impact. But with awe.sm, publishers like Topspin artists are now able to really see the impact that social media channels like Twitter are having.
  • For TechCrunch, Twitter = Traffic (A Statistical Breakdown) – TechCrunch discusses the breakdown of their own traffic by source and cite their use of awe.sm in helping to track traffic from Twitter, which is now responsible for 9.7% of their overall traffic.
  • Can Su.pr Short Links Save StumbleUpon? (250 Private Beta Invites) – Another mention of awe.sm by TechCrunch in their story about StumbleUpon's new URL shortener, su.pr.
  • BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Bands ‘better because of piracy’ – Interesting take on the impact file sharing has had on the development of music artists in the 'post-Napster era'. One could argue that increased exposure to a broader spectrum of music during artists' formative development may diminish the need for conventional A&R. One more reason the labels' legacy cost structure may be increasingly unnecessary.

Delicious Bookmarks for June 9th

These are my Delicious links for June 9th:

  • Writing Microcopy – Bokardo – Good advice on the importance of descriptive microcopy in product design. Sometimes it's the most obvious (and least sexy) things that drive the biggest value.

Delicious Bookmarks for May 28th through May 31st

These are my Delicious links for May 28th through May 31st:

  • Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros: A folk-rock revival with L.A. roots | Pop & Hiss | Los Angeles Times – LA Times write-up on one of my new favorite bands, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. They call them 'folk-rock', I think they're more 'folk-funk'. But we both agree their live show is not to be missed!
  • Why Advertising Is Failing On The Internet – The title of this piece is a bit of a red herring, and some of the arguments may be somewhat inflammatory. But I agree with the underlying premise, which is that the dynamics of the Internet are exposing the inherent flaws in conventional interruption marketing aka advertising. As a result, the author, a Wharton professor, argues online advertising will not be able to provide a broad-based revenue model to support the majority of web companies as commonly expected. He should have stopped there, but then goes on to examine other potential revenue models in a manner that detracts from his core point IMHO.