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, May 03, 2003
Mother Davis rolls the dice back into the drawer as she notes,

It's hard to be a moral crusader.

You see, if you go around declaring yourself an expert on the moral issues that everyone else ought to follow, then you yourself have to actually be moral yourself, or at least cover up your moral failings so that no one will find out.

Me, I don't pretend to be an expert on morality, but William Bennett sure does. He writes books like The Book of Virtues, in which he preaches a code of morality that he says everyone ought to follow, a code of morality that is universal. Mr. Bennett regularly gets on TV and the radio and preaches withering sermons to those that fail to live up to the moral code that he has devised.

Oh how the high and mighty have fallen! How far have they fallen? Fallen 8 million dollars, in the case of William Bennett.

You see, the ultra-moral William Bennet turns out to be a high stakes gambler who throws his inhibitions to the wind as he makes regular visits to casinos where he is a preferred member. According to an article in the New York Times, Mr. Bennett has a regular habit of going into casinos to "relax" and feel good. He appears to have lost at least 8 million dollars to this habit, and in one period of two months, lost 1.4 million dollars at one casino alone.

Now, Mr. Bennett cites classic religious texts to bolster his arguments that his favorite moral "virtues" apply to all human beings, whether they like it or not. The thing is, a good deal of those texts describe gambling as a sin. I'm not going to get all high-and-mighty about people doing a little gambling now and then, but I do think it's a problem when people allow gambling to consume their lives so that they depend on it just to feel good. I also think it's a sign of greed and arrogance when the rich throw their millions away in emotionally thrilling games of chance instead of using their money to help other people out. Mr. Bennett could have taken that 8 million dollars and helped a lot of people out. Instead, he gave it all to the casino masters, who don't have a great reputation for good works.

In his big volumes about universal morality, Mr. Bennett never bothers to mention that most spiritual traditions regard gambling as foolish and immoral. It appears that when William Bennett talks about universal morality, what he really is talking about are the moral failings of everyone else. His own moral failings don't count, apparently.

I'm not meaning to say that I'm any better than William Bennett. I've got moral failings too, but I don't go around proclaiming myself an expert on morality.

The problem is that Mr. Bennett has made a living out of saying that his morals are better than other people's. He's gotten famous from his sermons that tell people what they should and should not do.

It's time for Mr Bennett to take a look in the mirror, judge himself, and show a little humility before he continues casting stones at others.

Posted by Katherine Davis at 9:22 AM. # (permalink)

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

The Incredibly Fallible President

Republican Party operatives have been working very hard to create an aura of invincibility around George W. Bush. Listen enough to the latest Washington gossip columns, and you might think Bush had already won the 2004 elections. All the pundits, especially on (no surprise) FOX News, have been hyperventilating about the supposed boost Bush has received from his war against Iraq.

Today's polling data from that same FOX News outfit show that the punditocracy is full of it. Yes, Bush got a surge in the polls during the war, as all warriors do. But one month after the war began -- one paltry month -- Bush's bubble has shrunk to five points, taking polls of March 11 as a comparison standard.

Well, whup dee doo. A year and a half from the elections, five points isn't diddly. Bush can be beat. Visit our Anyone but W Action Center for links to the campaigns being raised in opposition to this man. If you're interested in displaying your opposition openly, go get yourself a bumper sticker for your car or a smaller sticker for your bike. Studies show (I love that phrase, but really, it's true) that when one individual pipes up with dissent, others feel more comfortable doing the same.

So break out of that vicious cycle of can't-won't-don't. It can be done, and you can help do it.

Posted by Matthew Cook at 10:01 AM. # (permalink)

Monday, April 28, 2003

Irregular Times Debuts Online Store: Irregular Goods

Irregular Goods is a new online shop being offered by the same folks who've brought you this blog and its parent, Irregular Times. That would be us, by the way, the same old small set of rag-tag free speech traitors.

Never fear, oh corprophobes: we're still rag, we've just added a tag. The items we offer will definitely never appear on Wal-Mart's shelves. Or K-Mart's, even. We're letting our politics, our warts and our funny bones show. Let's just put it this way: George W. Bush and John Ashcroft would definitely not approve. If that probably means you would, then drop on by our storefront and take a look.

Posted by Matthew Cook at 9:53 PM# (permalink)

Texas Republican Tom DeLay Tells African-Americans Who's Black Enough

Are you black enough? If you vote against him, Tom DeLay says that you're not.

Of course, DeLay isn't black at all.

DeLay brought to mind the brilliant words of Republican Senator Rick Santorum, who notified the nation last week that he didn't believe that American adults have a right to consentual sex in the privacy of their own homes.

This time, it was DeLay who put his foot in it, saying of African-Americans who oppose his effort to gerrymander Texas voting districts in such a way that benefits Republican candidates, ""If they do turn it down, then they're more Democrat than they are minority. And they are representing the Democrat Party and not their people.''

Okay, Tom. You've got some credibility problems here, but you go ahead, if you really think that comments like these help the Republicans. While you're at it, why don't you tell African-Americans what kind of music they ought to listen to? Hey, Tom, if African-Americans listen to a tune by J.S. Bach, are they more German than "minority"?

Yes, yes, the Republican Party is opening its doors wide open to African-Americans. I believe it now.

Posted by J. Clifford Cook at 6:55 AM. # (permalink)

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