Friday, September 23, 2016

Hillary Clinton Is the Sacrificial Anode of the DNC Warship

Lots of people believe that the Podesta Group works for Hillary Clinton. In fact, it's the other way around.

The Podesta Group is working assiduously to implement a globalist agenda on behalf of the same corporate oligarchs who are pulling Clinton's strings, and Clinton is simply a tool that the Podestas can use to achieve their objective.

As long as an oligarchy-friendly candidate is installed as president, the Podestas will have done their job. There's no reason to think that Tim Kaine, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, or any other corporate Democrat would be a less effective agent of oligarchy than Clinton. In fact, we have good reason to suppose that all of these candidates (and dozens of other high-profile Democrats) would be more effective than Clinton could hope to be--since she lacks credibility, enthusiasm, and even the mensch-ness that Camille Paglia ascribes to Biden.

Paglia has long maintained that Clinton will be pulled from the race at some point and replaced by a Biden/Warren ticket.

Paglia may not have the personnel exactly right, but she's dead on concerning the strategy in general.

Whether Clinton's collapse at the 9/11 memorial service is as serious as some detractors claim, it certainly lays the foundation for Clinton to exit the campaign on the pretext of health considerations when the moment is right.

But when will the moment be right?

It isn't hard to see that postponing the substitution of Biden (or whomever) for as long as possible makes perfect sense from the perspective of the DNC and the Podesta Group.

Just think about how Clinton's 9/11 controversy has eclipsed other news items for more than a week. Is anyone talking about her failure to stand with the Sioux against DAPL? Is anyone talking about her tepid commentary on police brutality in communities of color? Is anyone talking about how the breakdown of the ceasefire in Syria is merely setting the stage for the war with Russia that Clinton and other Democrats (such as Leon Panetta) crave?

Nope. Instead, all we can hear is people without medical backgrounds arguing with each other about whether Clinton has Parkinson's Disease.

On the surface, her 9/11 collapse looks like just another typical moment of distraction in American politics.

But it's more important for us to recognize her candidacy as a meta-distraction, as will become obvious when Biden is proffered to the American electorate at the eleventh hour to make us think that we've been given a welcome exit from the choice between Trump and Clinton (even though we will all be able to see, after the election, that the choice between Trump and Biden amounted to the same thing).

Clinton's temporary candidacy protects the replacement nominee from any form of accountability. We should think of Clinton as the sacrificial anode of the DNC warship--the highly reactive and polarizing metal whose electrolytic purpose is to be corroded by the saltwater that would otherwise compromise the structural integrity of the hull.

If the Democrats had nominated Biden from the beginning, then he would be the one who looks like he holds environmentalists, peace-niks, and seekers of social justice in contempt.

If Clinton's biggest selling point is that she isn't Trump, then Biden's will be that he is also not Trump--with the added bonus of not being Clinton.

Like many people, I've mistakenly regarded Trump as the foil to Clinton for months now. In fact, both Trump and Clinton will turn out to be foils to Clinton's replacement.

No matter who that replacement is, s/he is unlikely to seem as self-serving, dishonest, and inhumane as Clinton--or as narcissistic, clueless, and petty as Trump.

Please bear this perspective in mind when Julian Assange releases whatever damning information Wikileaks is preparing to unleash against Clinton and the DNC.

No matter how damning that information is, it won't matter come election day because Clinton will have done her job by absorbing all the corrosion associated with the leak.

Furthermore, I predict that no matter how obvious it becomes that Clinton should drop out of the race in light of the Wikileaks revelations (whatever they turn out to be), she won't drop out until after the debates with Trump. The last thing the Democrats need is a gaffe-prone Biden going toe-to-toe with anyone as unpredictable as the Donald.

Anyone who's still wondering how the Democrats could possibly have selected as toxic a candidate as Hillary Clinton should consult the Wikipedia entry on sacrificial (or galvanic) anodes, according to which "the anode must possess a lower (that is, more negative) electrode potential than that of the cathode (the target structure to be protected)."

In other words, the more polarizing a substance is, the better it works to protect another substance.from corrosion in a charged environment.

If the ultra-polarizing Clinton really does stay on the ticket through election day, then the DNC critics are right to say that she was the worst possible nominee the Democrats could have selected.

But when she drops out to make room for Biden's pristine, unsullied candidacy, she will turn out to have been the best possible temporary choice.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Claim that Guccifer 2.0 Is Part of a Disinformation Campaign Is Itself a Disinformation Campaign

Some folks say there was a time when the primary function of the mainstream media was to inform people.

That sounds pretty crazy in 2016, when the obvious function of the mainstream media is to keep us misinformed.

Consider Thomas Fox-Brewster's article in Forbes concerning Guccifer 2.0 earlier this week. Brewster, a journalist specializing in cybersecurity, couldn't be bothered to maintain the distinction between Guccifer and Guccifer 2.0 beyond the first sentence of his article.

An editorial appeal to journalistic style when it comes to shortening names after their first appearance might make sense under ordinary circumstances, but not in a case in which so many details have become blurry in the public mind.

Do most casual readers of the Forbes article really know the difference between Guccifer (who has recanted his claims of access to the server) and Guccifer 2.0 (who has repeatedly demonstrated his access to internal documentation from the DNC)?

Regrettably, Guccifer and Guccifer 2.0 have morphed into a collective headache in the minds of readers who aren't sure which one (if either) has anything to do with the Clinton email scandal. (The correct answer is Guccifer, who discovered the account when he hacked Sidney Blumenthal's AOL account.)

How many of the news aggregating applications that quote snippets from paragraphs 2-6 of Fox-Brewster's article (without including the first paragraph--as routinely happens with sample excerpts in Google searches) will insert [2.0] for clarification in a sentence such as this one: "By extension this would suggest Guccifer worked for Putin’s regime"?

Poll 100 Forbes readers. How many know the claim doesn't concern a Romanian hacker named Michel Lazar Lehel who is serving time in a Virginia prison? 

And does anyone really think that the way the mainstream media handles the Guccifer 2.0 story is meant to enlighten readers? On the contrary, it seems calculated to make us confused and susceptible to propaganda, as when Fox-Brewster writes:
America’s politicos fear Russia is attempting to disrupt the upcoming election. US intelligence specialists and security companies – most notably CrowdStrike – have blamed Russia for the attacks on the DNC. By extension this would suggest Guccifer worked for Putin’s regime. Guccifer has previously denied any association with the Russian government, whilst the latter has claimed innocence.
The blur cultivated by the stylistic standards to which Fox-Brewster adheres is typical of a mainstream media that wants to keep the public confused about the motives, reliability, and identity of Guccifer 2.0 instead of focused on the content of the material the hacker has revealed.

For instance, in CNN's 7-paragraph report on Guccifer 2.0's latest leak, Daniella Diaz uses her first paragraph to indicate that the authenticity of the material has not been confirmed ("released more DNC documents Tuesday that reportedly reveal more information about the group's finances"--emphasis added), her second to point out that the materials aren't "damaging," her third to acknowledge the resignation of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as head of the DNC, her fourth (the centerpiece of the article) to warn readers against looking at the leaked materials--since they might include malware, her fifth to quote Donna Brazile's remarks about Donald Trump (an odd choice in an article that doesn't quote one word from its putative subject, Guccifer 2.0), her sixth to point out that Guccifer 2.0's conference remarks were delivered by proxy (an opportune spot to quote some of those remarks if the article is really about Guccifer 2.0 instead of Donna Brazile), and her seventh to repeat the obligatory claim that unnamed people somewhere in the world continue to assert that Guccifer 2.0 is probably a Russian operative (without mentioning that the loudest such people work for CrowdStrike and are therefore on the DNC payroll).

Use of passive constructions and unidentified sources is typical of mainstream media commentary on Guccifer 2.0, as in the latest piece of cyber-alarmism that Cory Bennett churned out for Politico:
Guccifer 2.0 has claimed responsibility for both the DNC and DCCC hacks, although multiple private cybersecurity firms have tied the digital assaults back to a hacking group known as “Fancy Bear,” which is believed to be connected to Russia’s military intelligence service. Researchers believe Guccifer 2.0 is a front for these Moscow-backed hackers.
The last thing a journalist in 2016 would want to do in such a paragraph would be to indicate WHO is doing the relevant believing or which specific researchers were consulted.

But the grand prize for nebulous attribution for the week has to go to the L.A. Times for resorting to meta-reporting instead of assertion concerning purported ties between Russian intelligence and DCLeaks (a website with ties of its own to Guccifer 2.0):
The emails were obtained by the website, which has been reported to have links to Russian intelligence, MSNBC reported.
See how that works? The L.A. Times isn't saying that DCLeaks has ties to Russian intelligence. In fact, it's not even saying that MSNBC says so. It's just saying that once upon a time, MSNBC said somebody else said so.

All of which is a tiresome but effective way of not engaging anything substantive about the leaks at all, which suits corporate journalists and their oligarchic sponsors just fine.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Photos from the #NoDAPL Protest outside the Energy Transfer Partners Office in Austin, Texas

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Corporate Social Responsiblity, Greenwashing, and the Austin Environmental Justice Team

On September 12th, concerns about DAPL drove local citizens to attend a meeting of the Austin Environmental Justice Team (ATXEJ).

According to the meeting organizers, turnout was about 150% higher than usual, suggesting that DAPL is having a galvanizing effect on activism in Austin (and presumably throughout the country).

The meeting was scheduled to run from 6:30 to 8:30, but it lasted far longer than anticipated because the moderators stuck to an agenda designed for sixteen to eighteen people even though there were more than twice that many in attendance. By the time the icebreaking/introduction activity was over, we were already 20 minutes behind schedule.

Most of the attendees were college-aged, and the event was a hybrid of the typical college workshop and an academic or corporate committee meeting.

There were brief periods of general discussion punctuated by structured group activities. And there were also summaries of reports from subcommittee members on various topics (from the funding of the local police department to the extra fees Austinites must pay to receive electricity generated by solar power).

I don't know anything about how ATXEJ receives its funding, but these folks are getting ripped off if their coffers aren't routinely filled by the sinister agents of corporate social responsibility (CSR)--because it's hard to imagine an intentional greenwashing campaign being more effective at dissipating civic energy than this meeting was.

I was one of a group of people who rose to leave at 8:30--partly because that was when the meeting was supposed to end, partly because not one word had yet been said about DAPL (the concern that had brought most of us to the event), and partly because it had become evident, by that point, that ATXEJ takes a neoliberal approach to environmental concerns.

I sensed the neoliberal tendencies in one of the earlier exercises, when roughly one in five people talked about how important it is for activists to listen to communities in order to get anything done--without a single one of these people indicating what they had learned by listening.

Then came the admission (from a leader named Josh) that the community of environmental activists in Austin is so fragmented that it's hard to organize collective action. Lots of people followed up on his remarks to lament that fragmentation, but no suggestions for building coalitions were examined or discussed. Such suggestions were merely "listened to."

My heart sank especially when we heard from Pete, an environmentalist in east Austin (where the population of African-Americans and Latinos is most concentrated). Pete found his way to ATXEJ because he noticed, as a Hispanic living in east Austin, that all the other neighborhoods around town had beautiful parks. Unfortunately, instead of enjoying nicely maintained parks, the people of east Austin have been living with an area called Red Bluff, where garbage and used oil have been illegally dumped for decades.

Pete's premise was perfectly reasonable: All taxpayers in Austin are entitled to decent parks.

But after working with ATXEJ, Pete's perspective seems to have been warped by neoliberalism. He has done a great job of motivating local citizens (and some politicians) to help clean up Red Bluff, but city officials are unwilling to provide the funding that will maintain it--so Pete is currently working with community leaders to figure out how the citizens in the immediate area can raise money on their own to maintain Red Bluff.

This is the lesson that neoliberalism teaches us: Your tax dollars are going to be spent on the elites, so if you want anything for yourself, you'll have to do it on your own.

It's great that Pete tackled the problem of Red Bluff, and it's great that his community is exploring ways to maintain the area. But what isn't great is the persistence of the fundamental injustice underlying the problem (the fact that wealthier, whiter communities throughout Austin will continue to spend tax dollars raised in east Austin on their own parks without supporting Pete's efforts in any way).

So when ATXEJ bills itself as a "safe space," that's probably because it's designed to preserve the privileges associated with the status quo. If you come to ATXEJ with a problem, they'll be happy to suggest ways that you can address the problem--without rocking the boat.

And if you come to them with a solution, such as how to unify the various environmental groups in the city, they'll listen--without doing anything.

This was my first time to attend an ATXEJ meeting, so it's entirely possible that I've formed an incorrect impression of how the organization operates. However, my first impression of ATXEJ is that this is what greenwashing looks like.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Why Martina Salinas' Bid for the Texas Railroad Commission Matters More than You Think

On September 10th, the Yarborough Branch of the Austin Public Library hosted a debate that was supposed to feature four candidates for the Texas Railroad Commission (TRC): Wayne Christian (Republican), Grady Yarbrough (Democrat), Mark Miller (Libertarian), and Martina Salinas (Green).

The only candidates who stayed from the beginning of the event 
to the end were Martina Salinas (Green) and Mark Miller (Libertarian), 
seated at the front table with an empty chair between them.

The Republican was a no-show. Christian will probably cruise to victory even though he has been ducking public appearances throughout the campaign. We learned from the other candidates that he also skipped meetings with the editorial boards of the Houston Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News.

It was probably an act of cosmic mercy that the Democratic candidate (Yarbrough) was late--since his answers were invariably long-winded and evasive. When a reporter from the Statesman asked the candidates what name the TRC should adopt (since it regulates the energy industry, not railroads), Miller answered with four words: "Texas Energy Resource Commission"; Salinas answered with eight words: "I would put it to a public vote"; and Yarbrough spoke for more than three minutes without indicating what name he preferred or what measures he would take to change the commission's misleading title.

The name needs changing because very few voters in the state have any idea that our three TRC commissioners are responsible for answering important questions about fossil fuels and uranium in Texas. In fact, the oil pumped through DAPL will travel to the Gulf of Mexico via pipelines overseen by the TRC.

Just think about that: Ordinary voters in Texas can influence DAPL based on which candidate we elect to the TRC. Our choices are a Republican who doesn't bother to show up to debates, a Democrat who bloviates about what a "centrist" he is (which is presumably code for how eager he is to accommodate the fossil fuel industry), a Libertarian who believes that no matter what anyone thinks about climate change, it would be irresponsible for the TRC to allow such concerns to influence the extraction and distribution of fossil fuels, and a Green who thinks that the TRC should help Texas lead the charge away from fossil fuels to green energy.

Salinas would therefore have my vote in the absence of any better reason to support her candidacy.

But there is a much better reason to support her for anyone in the state who rejects the RNC/DNC duopoly on politics: Since Salinas is running for a statewide office, she only needs to secure 5% of the vote to guarantee ballot access to all state/national Green candidates in Texas for the next four years.

That's huge.

In other words, if we can get Martina Salinas elected to the TRC, that's a win for the planet and the citizens of Texas.

But even if we can't pull that off, we only have to get 5% of the vote for her in order to achieve a huge victory for third-party candidates in the second most populous state in the country.

I was delighted to meet Salinas after the debate. She is obviously an honest, engaging and thoughtful candidate. Admittedly, there were times in the debate when she stumbled over her words or failed to connect the dots between her thoughts. If I had to assign a letter grade to her performance, I would give her a B+.

In fairness to the Libertarians, their candidate (who has a professional background in both academia and the oil and gas industry) did the best job of explaining problems and thinking on his feet. I didn't like his positions, but he's an apt and affable speaker. Miller earned a solid A.

Yarbrough is a typical Democrat who appears to have borrowed heavily from Hillary Clinton's playbook. All of his answers were slow, unfocused, and lengthy--clearly designed to suck the energy out of the room and to lull the audience into thinking that he was saying something simply because his mouth was moving. But he mostly talked nonsense, as when he asserted that the only non-toxic element on the periodic table is water. (Perhaps some friendly chemists can explain to Mr. Yarbrough that water doesn't appear on the periodic table because it is a compound of two distinct elements. As for the political danger of coming out so publicly against oxygen, let's trust him to discover that on his own.) Under ordinary circumstances, I would have given Yarbrough a D, but he gets a C- simply for showing up (even though he was more than half an hour late).

I give Christian an F for missing so many of these events that his Democratic challenger has never even met him. And I give my own fellow citizens in Texas an F for being so eager to elect Christian simply out of habitual support for Republicans.

But even though I admit that Salinas could have performed a little bit better, I think it's up to Green-leaning Texans to do a LOT better in terms of supporting her.

We need to secure more than 5% of the vote for her, and I encourage anyone with an idea of how to achieve that objective to post a comment below.

Friday, September 9, 2016

If You Don't Realize that Propaganda Trumps Truth, Then Somebody Needs to Tell You So a Few More Times

As Joseph Goebbels observed, "The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over."

The propagandist relies on repetition--not evidence. And repetition appears to be doing the trick as far as public perception of Guccifer 2.0 is concerned.

Once upon a time (as recently as June of this year), there was no Guccifer 2.0.

Then Guccifer 2.0 appeared out of nowhere with a blog and some leaked documents.

Immediately, CrowdStrike (which is a private cybersecurity firm, not a governmental agency) warned us that Guccifer 2.0 might be a Russian cyberspy. Note that in this first, tentative effort to overwrite reality with propaganda, CrowdStrike relied on a whether-or-not construction to articulate the accusation without quite asserting it: "Whether or not [the Guccifer 2.0 blog] is part of a Russian Intelligence disinformation campaign, we are exploring the documents’ authenticity and origin."

CrowdStrike's leaders (including former FBI Assistant Director Shawn Henry, who revolving doored his way into the presidency of a cybersecurity firm shortly after retiring from his government post in 2012) never got around to commenting on the authenticity of the leaked documents, but they lost no time in assembling a squadron of cybersecurity experts at similar firms who were willing to repeat the claims about Russian agency--based on the analysis of data provided to those firms by CrowdStrike.

Meanwhile, Guccifer 2.0 claimed to be a lone Romanian hacker who had named himself after the original Guccifer (also Romanian) as a point of national pride.

We shouldn't trust Guccifer 2.0. He's a hacker who has all sorts of motives for concealing his identity. But neither should we trust CrowdStrike. They were brought in to handle the DNC data breach after it was detected, which suggests that their role in this affair has more to do with managing public relations than keeping data secure.

So it wouldn't matter at all to me if people responded skeptically to both positions by saying, "Who knows whether Guccifer 2.0 is Russian or Romanian?"

But that's not what people are saying because they haven't heard Guccifer 2.0's side of the story--even though they've heard CrowdStrike's assertions about Russian operatives from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and every major television network in the country.

This disheartening phenomenon was evident yesterday in one reader's comment on an article from Russia Today about how frustrated Guccifer 2.0 claims to be about the media's obsession with linking him to Russia:

Even though the comment plainly comes from a reasonable perspective, the writer appears to be completely unaware that Romania is even in contention as Guccifer 2.0's nation of origin. No one should be faulted for distrusting Guccifer 2.0. (I distrust him too!) But those who are interested in the story of whether he really is Russian should at least be familiar with what the hacker himself has claimed on the subject.

If the media's role is to inform us, then readers who are engaged enough by the Guccifer 2.0 story to comment on it should be able to demonstrate an awareness of the most basic claims being made by those involved.

But our media's job is not to inform us. Its job is to manufacture consent among the common folks for the agenda of the elites. And since the war profiteers backing Hillary Clinton's candidacy are eager to take us to war with Russia as soon as she is elected, the media's primary job in connection with Guccifer 2.0 is to use the hacker as evidence that America is already under attack.

The more frequently our newspapers and television pundits repeat that our electoral process is being manipulated by Vladimir Putin, the easier it will be to manufacture public consent for escalating the current proxy war in Syria into something bigger and more profitable (much as the the proxy war in Spain in the 1930s escalated into World War 2).

In January of 2017, after we're well and truly on the warpath against Russia, what will happen if a Romanian hacker surrenders himself to authorities to prove that he really was the lone individual responsible for the DNC leaks?

We'll go to war anyway. That much is obvious. But it's equally obvious that millions of Americans will say, "If he was just some random Romanian all along, why didn't anybody tell us so?"

He did tell us so. But realities that aren't discussed always seem less convincing than fictions that are.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Is Austin's Progressive Identity a Sham?

Standing across the street from Austin's NBC affiliate (KXAN), 
Robin S. protests the RNC/DNC duopoly on the presidential debates.

I live in Austin--a city that bills itself as a progressive bastion within the conservative state of Texas. But the more politically engaged I become, the less evidence I see to support this claim.

If alternative parties (such as the Greens and Libertarians) stand a chance anywhere in Texas, it should be in our self-consciously "weird" capital city, which blends the energy of politics, academia, technology, and entertainment. Austinites think of themselves as creative, empowered, and informed. So if any city in Texas should be clamoring for an alternative to the status quo, it should be Austin--right? 

Last evening, NBC aired a Commander-in-Chief Forum in which Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were presumably encouraged to explain why it's vitally important for all of us, as Americans, to rededicate ourselves to the task of imprisoning ourselves while terrorizing everyone else on the planet.

I didn't see the program because I was outside the local NBC affiliate protesting the fact that neither the Greens' Jill Stein nor the Libertarians' Gary Johnson will be allowed to participate in the upcoming presidential debates.

The email invitation I received to the protest indicated that supporters of Stein and Johnson should gather outside the NBC affiliate at 7 p.m. to let the world know how dissatisfied Americans are with Trump and Clinton as the major party candidates.

Since the email reached me just a few hours before the protest was scheduled to begin, I didn't expect much of a turnout.

In fact, I was one of only three people who showed up. I enjoyed meeting my fellow protestors (Robin and Elliot), but I'm unsure how much of an impact our trio had. When Elliot stepped away for a drink of water and I crossed the street to take the photo above, our protest looked like one man holding one flag.

I'm not sure anyone inside the NBC building even noticed that we were standing outside.

There was no reason for me to be disappointed by low turnout at a last-minute protest, but I was distressed by several things that became clear to me last night.

Problem #1: The invitation that I received from the Green Party yesterday suggested that this protest would be a joint effort between Greens and Libertarians, so I was disappointed to see that no Libertarians at all showed up.

It's not clear to me if the Greens reached out to the Libertarians on a national level or if it was left up to local Greens to reach out to their local Libertarian counterparts. If the message was supposed to be transmitted at the local level, then it would have been helpful for the email generated at the national level to indicate as much. But in any case, there clearly needs to be stronger communication between Greens and Libertarians in Austin. We may not see eye-to-eye on economics, but both Greens and Libertarians see the wars on terror and drugs for what they are: governmental excuses for oppression.

Solution #1: At an upcoming event featuring Martina Salinas, the Green candidate for Texas Railroad Commissioner, I hope to find out which of the local Green Party members have the strongest connections to the Libertarian community. If there isn't anyone who fits the bill, I will take it upon myself to become a liaison between Greens and Libertarians because few things are more important in the realm of politics than coalition-building.

Problem #2: There is clearly room for improvement in communication between Greens at the national and local levels. Elliot, the sole official representative of the Green Party at last night's protest, only found out about it after I contacted the local Green office to confirm that the event mentioned in the email was taking place.

Communication breakdowns happen from time to time. Maybe the communication between Greens at the local and national level is better than this event seemed to indicate. But my experience with the Green Party so far in 2016 (including several by-the-seat-of-the-pants events in Philadelphia during the DNC) leads me to suspect that the Greens' emphasis on decentralization may be incompatible with the clear channels of communication necessary for effective organization at the national level.

Solution #2: I'm not familiar enough with the Green ethos to diagnose or address this communication problem on my own. However, I think the rise of various YouTube personalities may provide us with an organic solution. As more people turn their attention to YouTubers such as Tim Black (of Progressive News), Mike Figueredo (of The Humanist Report), Debbie Lusignan (of The Sane Progressive), Will Gaillard (of Let the Madness Begin), and Joshua (of New Progressive Voice), the conversation that we all need to have with each other will become part of the fabric of our lives.

The progressive movement sparked by Bernie Sanders' candidacy is visibly losing steam by the day as the community of his supporters becomes ever more fragmented. When Sanders lost New York, we all held our breath for California. When Sanders endorsed Clinton before the convention, we held our breath for something magical (e.g. the death of the TPP) to happen in conjunction with Clinton's nomination. When Clinton's nomination became official, we held our breath for Tim Canova to defeat Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. No matter how many times we move the goalpost, we keep failing to reach it. We're becoming demoralized in exactly the way the system is set up to demoralize us--and the temptation to check out of the political process only becomes stronger.

Solution #3: We need to set clear and achievable goals. If we can't set them collectively, then we must set them individually. Once we start reaching our individual goals on a regular basis, we'll find the energy to tackle collective goals again. But if we rely on other people for a sense of achievement, then we're at the mercy of factors beyond our control. Instead of resolving to get Martina Salinas elected as Railroad Commissioner, I'll figure out what goal I can set for myself to help get her elected. Even if Salinas doesn't win, I need to do something I've never done, learn something new, establish contacts I didn't have previously, and be in a better position to make a difference for the next Green candidate I can support at the local or state level.

The moral of the story is that the worst response I could have to last night's feeble protest would be to blame the Greens for not being more organized or the city of Austin for not being more progressive. If the Greens are indeed poorly organized, then it's important for me to recognize that deficiency and do what I can to help improve communications. If Austin is a sham progressive city, then it's important for me to recognize that reality and address it.

What could I have done to make last night's protest more effective? I could have reached out to the Libertarians. Next time, I will.

That's one positive step. If we put enough of those together, we have a path to a coalition. If we put enough coalitions together, then we have a shot at changing the system.

If you have better suggestions for what I should do, please leave your advice in a comment. And if you know any person or organization in Austin that I should contact, I'll be grateful for the tip.