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.
The Lie of the Link
Friday, September 19, 2003
Mother Davis rests her chin in her hands as she considers the implications...
So George W. Bush has been caught in another lie. Last year, George W. Bush promoted his war against in Iraq by suggesting that he had evidence that Saddam Hussein was a part of the plot behind the September 11, 2001 attacks against Manhattan and the Pentagon.
This week, Bush finally admitted that Iraq and Saddam Hussein were absolutely not involved in the September 11 attacks. Furthermore, Bush admitted that he never had any evidence that would have supported the outrageous statements he and his assistants made last year.
Still, there's something about Bush that just can't give up the lie. As a parting shot, Bush declared that Iraq and Al Quaida were "linked".
Okay, folks. Here's where you've got to pay attention to George W. Bush's language. You see, it's not really his language at all. His appearances are scripted by his handlers and lawyers, who don't trust Bush to be able to speak intelligently for himself. So, when Bush says that Iraq and Al Quaida were "linked", you know that phrase was chosen of for a precise, legalistic reason.
Here's what "linked" really means: indirectly associated. Sure, Iraq and Al Quaida were "linked", but, for that matter, you are "linked" to Al Quaida. This is the friend-of-a-friend kind of relationship. Saddam Hussein was the President of an Islamic country, and Al Quaida is an Islamic organization, so BAM! They're linked!
You are a member of a country that has angrily criticized Saddam Hussein and threatened him with assasination, and Al Quaida also has angrily criticized Saddam Hussein and threatened him with assasination, so BAM! You are linked with Al Quaida.
Some sociologist once said that everyone on the planet is linked, through a maximum of six degrees of separation. You can see that it doesn't really mean all that much to say that two people or organizations are "linked".
And yet, it's a powerful statement. When Bush says that Saddam Hussein and Al Quaida were "linked", he's suggesting, once again, that Saddam Hussein was to blame for the attacks of September 11. Bush has the chutzpah to say this just after he admits that there's no evidence whatsoever for anything of the kind. Those are brilliant words of spin put in the words of Bush by the team of advisors behind the President, repeating a lie while admitting it's a lie.
However, these arguments about what the truth really is are put into sharper focus when we consider the cost of Bush's playfulness with the facts: Yesterday, another 3 American soldiers were killed, and many more seriously injured, in Iraq.
It goes on, and on, and on... and it's not just liberals who are questioning why the hell Bush got us into this mess in the first place.
Wondering if America can survive four more years of Bush's "security",
Oh, but what a flash...
Thursday, September 18, 2003
Is Wesley Clark just a flash in the pan? It's too soon to tell (a fun punditism), but we'll tell you this: over at our Election 2004 Bumper Sticker Shop, Clark bumper stickers have been outselling Howard Dean bumper stickers by wide margin over the past two days (Dean stickers are still strongly outpacing stickers for all other candidates). It takes people, not just reporters, to make that happen.
A Non-Hostile Criticism of Military-Speak
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Here's the latest in the military's assault upon the English language:
Today, the military informed us that a soldier in Iraq died two days ago of "non-hostile gunshot wounds". They gave no further details.
What the hell is a "non-hostile gunshot wound"?
Is that what happens when an Iraqi shoots an American soldier, but says, "Pardon me" first?
Is that what happens when a soldier gets shot and killed by a complete stranger who later assures us that it was nothing personal?
Or is it when some teenager who isn't even old enough to drink is given high-powered assault weaponry, is shipped off to a foreign country where there's an ongoing guerilla war, the temperatures are consistently above 120 degrees and he doesn't have enough rations to eat, and he accidentally shoots his buddy in the back?
Pardon me, military spokespeople, but is there such a thing as a friendly gunshot wound?
How can the military not release further details? According to ABC news, 117 Americans have died of "non-hostile gunshot wounds" since the war began. I think we all deserve a few more details about how such a thing is possible.
Winding my way through georgewbush.com, the official Bush-Cheney campaign website, I've found a nastily effective, ethically-challenged tool that could do a whole lot of damage to the integrity of the political process.
THE BAD NEWS: the campaign to re-elect George W. Bush has initiated a campaign of Republican-sponsored plagiarism on a scale we've never seen before, backed by a program of unprecedented technological sophistication. On their web site, the Bush team encourages supporters to appropriate text staffers wrote, sign their names to it, and send it to dozens of local newspapers and newsletters at a time. When the little people do it, it's called misrepresentation, plagiarism and cheating. When Bush does it, does that make it OK? You know the answer.
THE GOOD NEWS: we can use Bush's own technology to stop his unethical practice before it gains too much steam. We can warn the hundreds upon hundreds of newspapers and newsletters that are being targeted. But we have to act together, and we have to act fast.
I've put together a briefing on the problem and a guide for how we all can help counter this tactic in six easy steps, over at http://irregulartimes.com/astroturf3.html. We can nip this dishonorable tactic in the bud if we each do our local bit.
More Comedy From the Bush Administration
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
This morning, we bring you two great new jokes from the Bush Administration:
First, from Vice President Dick Cheney, there was the statement this Sunday, "I am a deficit hawk... so is the President." If a multi-trillion dollar budget deficit over the next few years makes Dick Cheney a deficit hawk, then I guess my $2100 paycheck last week makes me a millionaire.
Then, there's the latest explanation of the reasons for the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. Colin Powell suggests that the real reason that George W. Bush rushed an invasion of Iraq was a chemical weapons attack in the north of Iraq back in 1988. Oh, how I wish I were making this up. Colin Powell says that a chemical weapons attack within Iraqi borders by the Iraqi government fifteen years ago is adequate proof there was an immediate danger of a chemical weapons attack against the United States this spring. Actually, American soldiers have found no evidence that Iraq has had any chemical weapons at all in recent years.
Under Mr. Powell's logic, the fact that the United States dropped nuclear bombs on Japanese cities in the 1940s proves that there is the threat of an imminent American nuclear attack against Mexico, and justifies the violent overthrow of the American government and occupation of the United States by the Mexican military.
I can't wait to hear what these guys are going to think of next.
Monday, September 15, 2003
A very recent ABC News Poll shows that among Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents, Joseph Lieberman is the most likely vote-getter, followed in declining order by Howard Dean, John Kerry and Dick Gephardt. However, among the likely voters of the Democratic Party and Democrat-leaners, Howard Dean is the most likely vote-getter, followed in declining order by John Kerry, Joseph Lieberman and Dick Gephardt.
I can think of two interpretations of this result. One is that Howard Dean has generated enthusiasm from the set of individuals who were already likely voters, while Joseph Lieberman has generated enthusiasm among those who aren't likely to vote. The other is that individuals who have been swept up in the enthusiasm of the Dean campaign have been strongly motivated to vote.
Which interpretation is right? Well, the numbers won't tell you. Rather, it's the questions asked that are key. How did ABC News determine who was a likely voter? If they did it by asking whether they'd voted in the previous election, the first interpretation makes sense. If they asked whether individuals planned to vote in the next election, the second interpretation becomes plausible.
The problem is that newspapers and TV news programs don't typically report this bit of information, so you have no way of figuring it out yourself. Even the ABC News website's "poll vault" doesn't contain this information. How frustrating.
Bush Team Says It's All According to Plan!?!
Sunday, September 14, 2003
Mother Davis thinks of her son, who could be drafted to join Bush's Armies of Righteousness if things keep going badly, as she listens to the insane words from the leaders of the Bush Administration:
Today, Vice President Dick Cheney said that he does not "think that the strategy is flawed or needs to be changed" for Iraq. What does that mean? Is everything going to plan? If that's true, what kind of sick and twisted Vice President would ever come up with a plan that involves American soldiers being picked off one-by-one like ducks in a shooting gallery? Dick Cheney shows his disrespect not only to America's soldiers, but to the entire American public, for saying so casually dismissing the American deaths in his misguided Iraq war.
Then there was Secretary of State Colin Powell, who got angry at Americans who demand answers about the lies he and George W. Bush told the world before the invasion of Iraq. Powell says, "Those who are so critical of the administration might want to hold their fire a bit."
You've got to love the guts of a politician who can make a remark like that, especially when it comes on the heels of George W. Bush's invitation to angry Iraqis to keep killing American soldiers. George W. Bush said of enemy guerillas shooting at Americans to "bring it on", but now Powell says that critics of Bush's insane war should "hold their fire."
Am I the only one who sees a disgusting set of priorities in that pair of remarks?
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