I’ve been thinking a lot about the wave of recent laws criminalizing abortion. Despite memes from my liberal friends, the divide on this issue is not gender. 60% of women and 57% of men in america are pro-choice – the difference is within the margin of polling error. Meanwhile, many of the most dedicated pro-life activists are female. That includes Kay Ivey, the Governor of Alabama who just signed one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country.Continue reading
My son was born almost 11 months ago and is just starting to walk on his own. Seeing him learn to stand on his own feet and the look of sheer glee on his face as explores his world is magical. Watching him and his big sister become more and more themselves is basically the best thing in my world. I think most parents experience something similar, having kids gives us a chance to see the world through new eyes and experience familiar things for the first time once again. Continue reading
Several people have messaged me asking me for my recommendations for the upcoming election. Here’s my slate so far:Continue reading
Bernie Sanders was the first presidential candidate I’ve ever donated to or knocked on doors for and I am proud to say that the CNP platform takes the best of his ideas and expands on them. Unfortunately, he’s out of the race.
So am I Bernie or Bust? No. My refusal to vote for a kleptocrat who ran the State Department as the acquisitions arm of her bogus “charity” in order to enrich herself has nothing to do with Sanders.
Clinton’s foreign policy record is atrocious. She not only voted for the Iraq war, she lobbied for it and called it a business opportunity. She deported orphaned Honduran children to a country where they would be executed by a dictatorship that she helped put into power. She was also the biggest advocate for overthrowing Libya’s government. Declassified emails show her explicitly saying she advocated that war to gain access to Libya’s gold and oil. Libya is now a major ISIS stronghold and the millions of refugees fleeing their homes can thank Clinton. Republican strategist Steve Schmidt recently said during an interview on MSNBC that “the candidate in the race most like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a foreign policy perspective is in fact Hillary Clinton, not the Republican nominee.”
The last Clinton administration pushed through NAFTA and permanent normal trade relations with China which together destroyed millions of good-paying working class jobs – the rust belt is rusting because of the Clinton’s. Further, Bill’s bank deregulation directly led to the housing market collapse that forced millions of Americans out of their homes and wiped out 53% of black America’s wealth. Hillary’s longstanding support for the TPP (and the fact that she picked a man who voted to fast-track the TPP as her VP after pretending to oppose it due to pressure from Sanders) indicate her administration will be more of the same.
She described opposing gay marriage as a “fundamental bedrock principle… a foundational institution of humanity.” Even now after switching her public position to fit popular trends she continues to take tens of millions of dollars in donations to the Clinton foundation from countries where being gay carries the death penalty. She has repeatedly changed positions on major issues after receiving campaign contributions. Don’t take my word for it, ask Elizabeth Warren. As Obama said, “she’ll say anything and change nothing.”
During the primary she sent spies to infiltrate the Sanders campaign and paid online trolls to make the internet a worse place. She spent months talking up how much money she was raising for the party, but spent more than 99% of the money on herself. Her allies in the DNC used every dirty trick to tilt the race in her favor. When they were exposed and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was forced to resign, Hillary hired her onto her campaign the same day. She’s so brazenly corrupt she doesn’t even attempt to hide it.
So no, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton. Not that my vote matters! California is reliably blue and if the Democrats had nominated a bag of avocados it would get California’s electoral college votes. Which is of course why they don’t even pretend to care about our issues. Clinton couldn’t even be bothered to keep her promise to debate here!
So what’s the alternative? Trump isn’t even worth considering, he’s a pathological liar, a cheat who makes a regular habit of stiffing the people he does business with, and is such a phenomenally bad business man that he would be wealthier if he had just stuck his inheritance in a market-indexed fund and spent his life golfing with his buddy Bill Clinton. That’s before you even talk about the fact that he’s built his campaign on white nationalism(1 2 3) and borrows rhetoric from Mussolini. The man is truly scary. Fortunately he’s made it clear he doesn’t intend to actually do the job of president and will leave governing to his VP. Not that Pence is much better!
The fact that one of these two will be America’s next president is proof of how dysfunctional American politics have become.
Unfortunately, no third party can win a US presidential election because the US uses first past the post voting instead of proportional representation (the system used by most other democracies), so the majority either don’t vote or hold their noses and vote for a “lesser evil”.
Even if a third party for president could win, neither Stein nor Johnson moves the needle for me – Stein talks the talk and I have great respect for her as a dedicated activist for social justice, but her only elected experience is two terms on a city council. She is very valuable to the larger progressive movement as an activist but bluntly lacks any experience that would qualify her for the presidency. As a former governor Johnson has experience and his advocacy for civil liberties and against war makes him clearly a lesser evil than Trump or Clinton; but his economic platform is every bit as bad as Clinton at her worst. I can’t vote for either of them in good conscience.
I will vote on all the local elections where third parties can actually compete and on the ballot initiatives, but as a Californian who cares about the issues there is no candidate for US president I can support.
I was working on an article on the US presidential elections for another website earlier today and made an offhand remark that if the Democrats nominated a bag of Avocados for the presidency that California would faithfully line up and vote for it. And then it hit me – a bag of Avocados would actually be a better nominee than either American party’s candidates. Here’s 10 reasons you should join me in writing in a bag of avocados on your presidential ballot this fall. Continue reading
Yesterday I put up a new post on how to optimize your mobile app’s URI scheme. The post is mostly technical but touches on a few important points – notably the fact that the mobile app ecosystem is a fragmented series of walled gardens. This is in sharp contrast to the free and open web where anyone can add content and anyone can access it.
If you feel the way I do about free speech, feel free to insert your own rant here about the privatization of the (virtual) commons. This is the digital equivalent of town squares where free speech was legally protected being replaced by malls where a rent a cop will firmly escort you off the premises if you try to do any sort of outreach. Continue reading
I’ve self-identified as a feminist since my late teens and have been very vocal about it, sometimes to my own detriment. Not that I’m some sort of knight in shining armor, I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way despite my best intentions and I can’t claim to be motivated entirely by altruism. While I am very much interested in equality and women’s issues in their own right, I’ve always been at least as interested in what Feminism could potentially do for men. Continue reading
It’s Sunday after the vote and I’m sitting in a park in Edinburgh, killing time. I had intended to stay in Scotland another week to do more interviews about what’s next but now, with a 10 point spread on a No vote, I find myself too brokenhearted to continue. Especially since Maia left for California this morning and I am once again traveling alone. I’ve re-booked my flight but unfortunately the first available seat does not leave until Monday. I shout out on Twitter and Facebook that I am here for another day and would like to talk about what’s next. A few people re-tweet the message, but no one local replies. They’re busy picking up the pieces and mourning. I understand. Continue reading
Last nights drive back to Edinburgh from the Highlands was gorgeous. North of Perth we put on the radio and Dido’s “Thank You” came on and we both sang along. It was magical. Continue reading
Sunrise came far too early and it’s off again. Today I am 34 years old and Scotland has a real chance at independence for the first time in over 300 years. My phone chimes repeatedly when I turn it on with birthday wishes from friends, coworkers, and clients. Today feels like a good day.
After about an hour and a half of driving we arrive in Elgen, the road sign count has shifted back strongly in favor of Yes and we see a fair number of stickers and a few big flags as well. There doesn’t seem to be an actual Yes office in town, though there have apparently been a good number of events and the day is getting on by the time we get breakfast in our bellies so we decide to head on to Inverness (dubbed InverYESs by local activists).Continue reading
Arbroath is a pretty little town on the east coast of Scotland, just to the east of Dundee. Driving past, you might not think much of it, but way back in 1320 a group of Scottish nobles signed a declaration that they would never under allow themselves to be subjugated to rule from England and that they fought “not for wealth or position but for liberty, which no good man gives up except with his life.”
The document is incredibly important to world history because it was the first declaration of its type to establish the concept of popular sovereignty – that Scotland belonged to her people and a king was only worth supporting if he could protect and defend them.Continue reading
I’ve just arrived in Perth, about an hour north of Edinburgh. The drive up was pretty enough – rolling green hills and trees dotted with houses under a foggy Scottish sky. Along the way we saw 3 Yes signs and the first No lawn sign I’ve seen so far on the trip.
Maia and I are heading to the Perth / Kinross Yes campaign HQ. I saw online that a bunch of activists will be meeting there to go leaflet around noon and I’m hoping to get some interviews in. We find parking not too far off and duck into a the first restaurant we see in search of breakfast but they don’t open until noon. The lady is tired having just flown from California via Toronto and desperately wants hot food and beer, I promise her an epic lunch and she munches on the remainder of a grilled cheese with a look on her face like a kid who just lost her favorite baseball over the fence.
Perth has the feel of a relatively bourgeois suburb with big yards and flowers everywhere. I’m wondering if the campaign here will be different from the bigger cities to the south which were very much driven by the culture and ethos of recently de-industrialized workers who feel betrayed by the Labour party and hope for a better future in an independent Scotland. Continue reading
It’s a quarter after 6 and I’m standing in a line a block long outside a nightclub in downtown Glasgow to see Tommy Sheridan (@citizentommy) – a well known socialist organizer and activist – speak. The is the last of 110 speaking engagements like it that he’s done since January and YouTube footage of some of the others has drawn a firestorm of both positive and negative comments and hundreds of thousands of views. Tommy is interesting because he’s famous for his writing and speaking in a way that just doesn’t happen in the U.S. Noam Chomsky can sell millions of books, but you’d never see NBC or Fox invite him on to talk about why we can afford to bomb Syria when we’re cutting budgets for everything else.Continue reading
It’s 2pm and I’m sitting in a pub in Glasgow with a tartan carpet and celtic fiddle music alternating with american country music in the background. I order the Haggis Nips & Tatties (haggis, parsnips, and potatoes with gravy) because Scotland, and am sipping a pint of Caledonia’s finest. This is the single most tourist thing I’ve done this trip and the most tourist I’m likely to do. By it’s sheer overdone in your face Scottishness it feels like it would be more at home in Manhattan or San Francisco – this is clearly a place that caters to tourists.
I’ve just come from the Glasgow Kelvin neighborhood HQ and done a fantastic set of interviews with volunteers there. One of those, Lindsey Little, is a Plaid Cymru MP from Wales who came up to help. As I mentioned before, I’ve done interviews now with a couple different people from Wales who’ve come up to help with the campaign. Their perspective is markedly different from the Scots I’ve talked to in a few key ways and worth breaking out on its own. Continue reading
I arrive at the main #YesScotland HQ, located (appropriately) on Hope Street in Glasgow. There’s a long wheelchair accessible ramp into the office with an iron handrail, a nice desk with a group of people gathered round deep in conversation, and a doorway into a larger work space which is presumably where the main work of coordinating the birth of a new nation is conducted. I introduce myself and the lady behind the desk asks if I have an appointment, which of course I don’t. I explain that I don’t work for any media outlet and – while I’ve had some freelance writing published – the fact is I’m really just some guy with a blog who was crazy enough to buy a ticket and fly halfway around the world on my own dime to watch the world change. She laughs, takes my name, and says she’ll see what she can do. A few minutes later, Stewart Kirkpatric (@calgacus) comes out and greets me warmly.
Stewart is a very interesting guy with an easy laugh and a wide smile, I like him instantly. He’s a former Labour campaigner who has still never joined the SNP, is quick to point out that he’s not a Nationalist. In fact, he spent many years knocking on doors urging people not to vote for the SNP because surely if they could just get Labour re-elected things would get better. When Tony Blair’s new Labour adopted a neoliberal economic agenda and then took the country to war in Iraq he took the betrayal personally, feeling as though he’d been made a liar.
I ask him how it is to now be working side by side with the SNP and he points out that this is a broad movement with room for everyone, from pro-business groups like Business for Scotland to the Radical Independence Campaign and the Scottish Socialist party. He says “whether you’re a businessman or an anarchosyndicalist, you can support the Yes campaign.” I ask if there actually are any anarchists supporting the campaign and he says he’s sure there are but not in any organized fashion. Cue drum-roll. In my own life as an activist I’ve known some highly organized and dynamic anarchists… but stereotypes exist for a reason. Continue reading
I got a later start this morning than I would have liked, after yesterdays epic 20 hours of pounding pavement my feet and legs refused to cooperate with my 6am alarm. When i finally make it to the bus I get on on the wrong direction and ride all the way to the wrong end of the line – the British refusal to drive on the right side of the road like the rest of the world is as confusing to me as the American refusal to adopt the metric system is to them. No matter, it’s a lovely foggy day and my misadventure provides a chance to see a bit more of the city. When I finally arrive at the train station I grab a large Cornish steak pie. Cornwall, another Celtic region in the south of Britain, retains a fiercely distinct ethnic identity but is struggling to survive as their region has become a popular destination for English retirees and the largely working-class Cornish can no longer afford to live in their own country. The line between gentrification and ethnic cleansing gets very thin in places like this. On the plus side, their meat pies are delicious.
My platform is way off in the back and by the time I reach it the train is about to depart – the conductor hollers at me to hurry up or they’ll leave without me – there’s laughter in his voice but the door still closes on me as I enter. No matter. I grab one of the last vacant seats. Continue reading
If one was to take most mainstream UK media at face value one would be forced to conclude that the people behind the #YesScotland campaign are some sort of impossible combination of right-wing reactionary anti-English racist xenophobes and starry-eyed unrealistic dreamers who expect Scotland to turn into a magical socialist utopia on Sept. 19 and will rip up and throw away a great nation (the uk) in pursuit of that impossible dream. By contrast, the Better Together campaign is presented as a mainstream common sense coalition on an issue so obvious that even old enemies like Labour and the Tories can unite to oppose it.
The facts on the ground do not support these characterizations. Continue reading
Dropping in at the Edinburgh North and Leith Yes campaign offices a friendly woman who reminds me a bit of my mother invites me in warmly and offers me tea (because some stereotypes are true). The weather has turned drizzly and I accept gratefully, glad to be out of the wet. Inside people are busy working and don’t have a huge amount of time to talk, which is fine with me – winning independence for their country is a higher priority than talking to a curious American. A woman gets a text from her friend wondering what Scotland will do without a central bank and I volunteer that America doesn’t have a Central Bank – which meets with broad approval.
Busy groups of volunteers from all the various groups in the Yes coalition come and go and the combination of hot tea and tired feet draws a small group in to an eclectic conversation as SNP activists mingle with Green Yes, Labour for Yes (a group of dissident Labour voters and activists that are bucking the London-based party’s decision to support the no campaign), and even a few Plaid Cymru (left-wing Welsh nationalists) activists who’ve come up to help out of solidarity. The conversation is fast-paced, dynamic, and the sense of optimism in the air crackles like electricity. For all of them, the referendum comes down to a positive vision of Scotland based on their common values. The emphasis varies from one to the next but the common picture is of a country where social justice and shared economic development that benefits everyone are core values. In fact, it reminds me of nothing so much as the Anti-globalization movement of the late 90’s and early 2000’s – with the key difference that instead of being focused on what they oppose these folks are all focused on what they want to create. As an American who’s used to lefty politics always being oppositional, it’s a breath of fresh air. Continue reading
So I still haven’t adjusted to the time zone shift and by 4am this morning I’d given up on sleep and decided to get an early start on the day and explore Edinburgh on foot. Climbing up Calton hill with the city laid out below me was a revelation – seeing the lights laid out below me and the old towers and greek columns behind. This city has such fascinating architecture, a truly unique mix of ancient and modern.
As the sun came up I stopped into a corner store and got fresh samosas and a basket of strawberries for breakfast and kept walking, pausing to eat them while sitting on a bench looking out over the park at Edinburgh Castle, flanked by brightly lit shop-lined streets. It wouldn’t be a good Scottish morning without fog of course and I got a bit wet from the mist, but for a former San Franciscan that just feels homey.Continue reading
One of the most interesting things about independence movements in modern Europe is the impact of the EU. I wrote a paper for a graduate class in college that argued that because the EU allows even the smallest of its member states to have equal access to markets across Europe as well as free movement for its citizens, the cost of independence had been drastically reduced and we should expect to see growth in secessionist movements across Europe as her various Stateless Nations (ethnic nations that do not have their own governments) seek political independence within the EU’s economic union.
I can’t claim credit for coming up with the idea of course, the slogan of “independence within Europe” has been a core part of the SNP’s platform for a long time. But ten years ago my professors were more skeptical than I think they would be now. Continue reading
Many Americans seem baffled that Scotland isn’t already independent – after all didn’t they win their freeeeeeddddoooooommmmmm at the end of Braveheart? Many more seem confused as to how they’re being allowed to vote on independence at all since in most places and times Nation-States don’t let their provinces walk away. If Tibet or Chechnya or Texas could vote on independence from their respective world powers the map might look very different.
The thing is, the United Kingdom is in sort of an odd place right now. A century ago they were an Empire with colonies and possessions all over the world. Today almost all of those former imperial possessions have gone their own way, albeit as part of a Commonwealth of Nations that includes special provisions for trade and migration. Somewhere along the way, the political elite realized they could not hold on to the empire any more and made a choice to outsource maintenance of the remaining problematic areas (Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, etc) to America while letting the rest go. It makes sense. If the Irish had been able to just line up and vote on Easter Sunday back in 1916 they might have turned independence down – business interests weren’t keen to give up their linkages to markets in the UK any more than their modern counterparts in Scotland are. Continue reading
I’m writing this from the international terminal at San Francisco Airport as I wait to board a flight to London, followed by a short regional connecting flight to Edinburgh. The fact that Edinburgh – the capital of Scotland, which would be the 14th wealthiest nation in the world if it was independent and wealthier per head than the remaining UK – is only accessible via a regional connecting flight says volumes about the country I am going to visit.
Scotland holds a special place in my heart. I grew up listening to her music, learning about her history, and going to the annual Scottish Games almost every year with my parents. In truth, only a bit over half my genealogy traces back to those northern reaches of Britain that the Romans never managed to conquer – like most Americans I measure my lineage in fractions. And I don’t particularly like the term Scottish American anyway. My family has been in the United States since before the Revolution and in California since before the Gold Rush; to claim any other nationality would be absurd. In terms of identity, I consider myself a Californian first and an American a distant second… but I still find pleasure in writing in “Celt” whenever a form asks me my ethnicity.
Incidentally, the parallels between California and Scotland are striking. Both have internal political ecosystems significantly to the left of the larger countries to which they are attached. The size ratios are similar too – California’s 30 million are about 10% of the USA’s roughly 300 million and Scotland’s 7 million are about 8% of the UK, but both are radically under-represented in the larger governments. Both also pay far more into national treasuries than they get back in spending and end up subsidizing their neighbors while elites use deficits as an excuse to cut programs that would help their poorest and most vulnerable. Meanwhile, both of them find themselves suffering from neglect as remote national political establishments who take them for granted (Democrats in the USA and Labor in the UK) cater to more conservative swing voters in distant regions. And while their export-oriented economies shore up the otherwise dismal balances of trade for the larger country, both are just different enough to draw derision from the people they are subsidizing. I know that for me at least spending time in the Midwest and South and listening to people talk about Californians was a revelation; and the anti-Scottish bigotry of many in the English political establishment is well documented.
I could keep listing indefinitely, the similarities between Caledonia and California run far deeper than you might at first expect. Continue reading