It is a time of freedom and fear, of Gaia and of borders, of many paths and the widening of a universal toll road, emptying country and swelling cities, of the public bought into privacy and the privacy of the public sold into invisible data banks and knowing algorithms. It is the time of the warrior's peace and the miser's charity, when the planting of a seed is an act of conscientious objection.
These are the times when maps fade and direction is lost. Forwards is backwards now, so we glance sideways at the strange lands through which we are all passing, knowing for certain only that our destination has disappeared. We are unready to meet these times, but we proceed nonetheless, adapting as we wander, reshaping the Earth with every tread.
Behind us we have left the old times, the standard times, the high times. Welcome to the irregular times.
Saturday, September 07, 2002
Attack of the Anniversary Memorials
It's inescapable: a year after three airplanes slammed from the sky into American soil, the Americans are beseiged once more, by media remembrances of the attacks. I, for one, won't take part in these memorials. It's not because I don't feel anger and sadness about the attacks of September 11 last year. I do. Let me say it clearly: I loathe the cruel violence of those attacks.
That said, I also loathe the morbid attention to the attacks that saturates practically all the American media this week. Through journalists, talk show hosts, musicians, artists, politicians, and anyone else who has access to a microphone, a video camera or a keyboard, the United States is engaged in a brownstudy, a gloomy meditation on the events of a year ago.
The memorial events seek only to re-evoke the suffering our nation endured a year ago, as if by recounting individual and collective tragedies we can resurrect the dead. We can't.
Our nation needs more than ever to find a way to move forward. If we must crowd out all other thoughts with September 11 retrospectives, we might at least evaluate ourselves instead of rehashing. Let's take a critical look at how we've changed as a nation over the last year and ask ourselves the difficult question: Is this what we want America to be?
Friday, September 06, 2002
The phrase "homeland security" always made me feel uneasy...know I know why:
The term 'homeland' puts some on their guard
Friday, September 6, 2002
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON -- The name of the Department of Homeland Security is meant to evoke images of safety -- even family, hearth, comfort. It gives some people a knot in the stomach. An uncommon word to begin with, "homeland" became an everyday word after the Sept. 11 attacks and was institutionalized when President Bush created the Office of Homeland Security.
Jeff Neberman, who teaches European history at Boise State University, says it's "right out of Nazi Germany." The German word "heimat" means "homeland" and was used by the Nazis....
"Homeland" has "obviously grated on quite a number of people," said Todd Gitlin, who teaches culture and sociology at Columbia University. "It feels like an import even if you're not aware that its origins are German."
Leslie Savan, who wrote a book about advertising and popular culture, said "homeland" makes her think not only of Germany, but also of Russia and South Africa's former apartheid government. "It's been one of those words that's supposed to sound cozy and warm," she said. "But because it sounds cozy and warm it has been used by totalitarian governments."
Very Irregular Plans for War Indeed:
According to an article from CBS News, George W. Bush's Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld began making plans to invade Iraq almost immediately after the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001 in spite of the fact that he knew of no connection between Iraq and the attacks!
The article cites notes taken by Rumsfeld's aides, who accompanied him to the National Military Command Center when the Pentagon and Twin Towers were hit. The notes refer to Rumsfeld ordering his aides to come up with plans to "Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL [Osama Bin Laden]." Rumsfeld ordered the plans to "Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not."
The notes clearly acknowledge that Rumsfeld knew of no evidence linking Iraq and the September 11 attacks. Nonetheless, Rumsfeld began to plan for a "massive" invasion of Iraq. Why?
The only sensible conclusion is that Rumsfeld wished to invade Iraq before September 11, 2001 but was waiting for a pretext. As soon as he saw an opportunity, he eagerly began to push for a new Gulf War against Iraq, and continues to push for war to this day.
The question the American people now have to ask is: what is the real reason Secretary Rumsfeld and his boss George W. Bush wanted to invade Iraq before September 11 last year? Why won't they reveal these plans to the American people? What do they have to hide?
Could it have anything to do with big oil business? Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are both from big oil corporations, as are many others in the Bush Administration. The Iraqi government currently controls some of the richest oil fields in the world, oil fields which would be privatized after an invasion by the United States.
Given the lack of any other coherent motivation for an invasion of Iraq, we've got to ask ourselves: are Bush and Cheney willing to sacrifice new blood for oil?
Thursday, September 05, 2002
Mother Davis swivels her eyes back and forth across a map of the Earth, between the United States and Columbia as she reads the morning newspaper.
A small item in this morning's paper notes that a furor in Columbia has erupted over President Alvaro Uribe's decision to exempt Columbians from prosecution for war crimes by the new International Criminal Court. I guess that, given the fact that they're fighting a civil war down in Columbia, the government there believes that a few war crimes might come in handy.
I'm sad to say that there's a precedent for Uribe's act: earlier this summer, George W. Bush gained a similar exemption for the United States. George W. hates the idea that American soldiers could be put on trial for war crimes by an Internation Court, although he's plenty eager to hunt down and imprison (without trial) or even kill people he believes have committed war crimes, even if they are American citizens.
It seems that every morning brings new, difficult questions that have to be asked. This morning's question: Just what kind of war is George W. planning that makes him want to exempt American soldiers from prosecution for war crimes?
Outraged that George W. Bush is leading this country down a path well-worn by fanatical despots,
Tuesday, September 03, 2002
Bush by the Numbers, as Told by a Diligent Scorekeeper
Dana Milbank, Washington Post
"...Bush has spent a whopping total of 250 days of his presidency at Camp David (123 days), Kennebunkport (12) and his Texas ranch (115). That means Bush has spent 42 percent of his term so far at one of his three leisure destinations.
To date, the president has devoted far more time to golf (15 rounds) than to solo news conferences (six). The numbers also show that Bush, after holding three news conferences in his first four months, has had only three more in the last 15 months -- not counting the 37 Q&A sessions he has had with foreign leaders during his term.
Bush has raised $114.8 million this year at 48 GOP events, surpassing Clinton's record of $105 million in 2000 from 203 events."
An exchange imagined by John Deering, the political cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
Frame One: The Democratic donkey comments to the Republican elephant about how President Bush did nothing to prevent the attacks of September 11.
Frame Two: The Republican elephant replies with a rhetorical question: "So, you're in favor of a preemptive strike against Saddam?"
View the cartoon for yourself
This cartoonish spat is intended to prove how foolish Democrats are to oppose a preemptive invasion of Iraq by the United States. Actually, it reveals the confused logic with which extremist Republican hawks are pushing for a war against Iraq.
First of all, the cartoon completely misrepresents the debate about invading Iraq by depicting it as an argument between Democrats and Republicans. In fact, prominent Democrats and Republicans both are opposed to this new installment of Bush's ill-defined War On Evil.
Second, the issue of whether George W. Bush could have prevented the tragic violence of September 11 if he had been paying closer attention to the warning signs is a completely different issue from whether Iraq ought to be invaded. Remember, there's no evidence that the Iraqi government had anything at all to do with the attacks of September 11.
Third, there is no sign whatsoever that the Iraqi government is intending to attack the United States. That's right, none. In fact, the Iraqis have said that they will defend their country with whatever desperate measures are available to them IF we attack. So, it seems that the likelihood of violence in general and the use of weapons of mass destruction in particular will increase, not decrease, if the United States invades Iraq.
Fourth, the Republican elephant's assumption that only two choices exist (doing nothing and turning the United States into an aggressor nation by invading Iraq without provocation) only illustrates the simplistic, emotionally-driven perspective of conservative Hawks.
In the last frame of the cartoon, the Democratic donkey calls the Republican elephant-hawk a "warmonger". The Republican elephant responds with eye-widened shock. Pardon me if I don't share the confusion. The shoe fits.
J. Clifford Cook
Monday, September 02, 2002
Sunday's Washington Post reports that senior United States military officers have begun to voice their opposition to a military operation against the nation of Iraq. Notice I didn't say "Saddam Hussein." Those who are for a war are fond of saying it's a "war against Saddam Hussein," ignoring that American missiles, shells and bullets will inevitably destroy numerable Iraqi roads, buildings, conscripts and innocent men, women and children who get in the way.
But let's get back to that Washington Post report: senior US military officers are beginning to complain that if a major war against the Iraqi nation and people is launched, there won't be enough resources to continue the military non-war pursuit of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
Donald Rumsfeld (who as a war-pushing military dodger qualifies as a bona fide "chickenhawk") can't trot out the usual "these are not people who know what they're talking about" brush he uses to tar those who disagree with him.
This news makes me wonder what the true priorities of the Bush administration are. Could it be that Bush's handlers don't consider it a priority to finish the stated aim of their non-war: to capture or kill Osama bin Laden? Could it be that despite their rhetoric finishing off Al Qaeda, which has engaged in offensive military operations against American targets, isn't as high on their list as assaulting a nation containing a man who has not engaged in offensive military operations against American targets?
What's the real motive here?
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