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.
Friday, October 10, 2003
The folks over at Buzzflash have unearthed the following transcript of Rush Limbaugh pontificating on his show:
"There's nothing good about drug use. We know it. It destroys individuals. It destroys families. Drug use destroys societies. Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.
Yes, the drug-abusing, law-breaking Limbaugh is a hypocrite. And the nasty thing to do would be to crow that Rush Limbaugh ought to follow his own advice and go to jail. But it wouldn't really be the honest thing to write -- and it also wouldn't be nice. Believe it or not, I really do hope Limbaugh comes out of this alright. So here's what I really think about the whole hullabaloo:
Limbaugh's quote reflects the typical right-wing approach to something: individuals should be able to survive on their own, so they should just do it and not bank on help from anybody else. To the extent that individuals end up having trouble in life, it's their problem and they just need to suck it up and face the consequences. It also reflects the typical intolerant fundamentalist religious approach: there is simple good and evil in the world, and those things that are morally evil should be punished via absolute, draconian measures.
Rush Limbaugh now faces the consequences of his own actions: given the privilege of money and connections, will he go to jail or use his money and connections to go the more productive and less penalizing drug treatment? My bet is that Limbaugh will do everything in his power to go the treatment route. This is not what his intolerant fundamentalist religious approach would recommend, but religion aside it is in his best interest. It is also not a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps right-wing individualist approach, since going into treatment is an acknowledgement of being individually powerless and able to succeed only with the help of others. Gulp it down, Rush: it does take a village.
After Limbaugh emerges from treatment (hopefully addiction-free), he'll have a choice: either to acknowledge that rationalist liberalism worked when religiously intolerant right-wing individualism didn't, or to continue to subscribe to religiously intolerant right-wing individualism for everyone else -- and conveniently carve out an exception for himself. The first course of action would hopefully serve as an object lesson for him and help him re-evaluate the assumptions on which he has based his draconian, disdainful screeds. The second course of action would serve as an object lesson for the rest of us that connections and money allow one to get through personal crises unscathed in a way the rest of us can't.
Let's hope Limbaugh chooses the former course. Good luck, Rush.
Rumsfeld Hiding From Responsibility?
Yesterday, two American soldiers were killed in an ambush in Iraq. Day after day, Americans are killed and wounded in George Bush's war.
What did Bush's Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld do in response to these killings? He cancelled a press conference scheduled for today so that he wouldn't have to face reporters' questions.
Looks like Bush and Rumsfeld are trying to bury our heads in the Iraqi sands.
Thursday, October 09, 2003
Mother Davis rests her chin in her hands as she comments,
Today's news tells you a lot about the value that the Bush Administration places on human life.
In Iraq, at least ten people were killed. Eight or more of these were killed when a car bomb went off at a police station in Sadr City. Also, a Spanish diplomat was shot at point blank range as he left his home outside Baghdad. He died. Elsewhere, an American soldier was killed as Iraqis attacked his convoy with rocket-propelled grenades. Many other attacks on American soldiers happened throughout Iraq today, although the Pentagon declines to report all of them.
In the midst of all this violence, George W. Bush announced that the situation in Iraq is improving. Can Iraq take much more of this kind of improvement? Can we?
Hoping we don't get any more of this kind of "good news",
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
From today's New York Times: Bush Can't Handle NegotiationAfter promising to engage with the United Nations in the lead-up to war with Iraq, promising a vote, George W. Bush withdrew his resolution when it became clear a majority of the Security Council (indeed, a majority of the world) thought his resolution was bunk. Now in the aftermath of war, George W. Bush has done the same thing: promising to involve the United Nations in reconstruction of Iraq and then withdrawing his resolution when it became clear a majority of the Security Council thought his resolution was bunk. In case after case of early withdrawal, it has become clear that George W. Bush can't handle diplomacy.
An anonymous senior Bush Administration official's understanding of the meaning of multilateralism: "We don't want to play this game for a long, long time. This is as much a choice for the Council as it is for us. They can be multilateral and be part of it, or they can tell us to do it ourselves." The "It's Bush's Way or the Highway" Principle is not what multilateralism means.
Bush's failure of diplomacy in this instance (related to his inability to admit error) is not just a personal failure: it has dire consequences for Americans and Iraqis. If the Bush Administration can't successfully handle negotiations in the Security Council, the United States won't get much of any financial, logistical or military help in handling Bush's mess in Iraq. Americans will be stuck with the bill, the headache and the danger. Iraqis will be stuck with a quagmire. The world will be stuck with a terrorist breeding ground that Bush created but couldn't clean up. (Source: New York Times October 8, 2003)
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Folks, I'd like to recommend you read a really interesting polling report out from the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes:
To get to the meat of it:
Fox News viewers are much much more likely to make factually inaccurate statements regarding WMDs, Iraq and Al Qaeda than viewers of other news media. Readers of newspapers and especially listeners to NPR are much less likely to make those factually inaccurate statements. (Other TV News sources lie in between Fox and NPR, but closer to Fox.) These patterns remain even when you hold opinions of President Bush, party affiliation and education level constant (although the relationship diminishes somewhat in magnitude). In other words, watching Fox News makes you ignorant and NPR/Newspaper consumption promotes knowledge, at least on the WMD/Iraq/Al Qaeda front.
In another angle on the data, the authors report that for Bush supporters, misstatements are increasingly likely as they increasingly follow the
news, because their news source tends to be Fox News. For supporters of a Democratic Presidential nominee, on the other hand, misstatements are
decreasingly likely as they increasingly follow the news, because their news source tends more to be NPR or a newspaper.
Those are just the highlights -- there's much more in the report. Read it!
Colleges of Arts, Sciences and Killing
A few weeks back, Senator and presidential candidate John Kerry said that if he gets into the White House, he'll fight for a new law that would make it mandatory for all colleges and universities to include ROTC as a part of their curriculum. If the schools didn't do so, Kerry would pull away all their federal funding.
Study. March in straight lines. Study. Learn to shoot guns. Study. Fight.
Am I the only one who sees an incompatability between the goals of most of our colleges and universities and the goals of the ROTC and the military that it represents? No, I don't think so.
The Pentagon's propaganda machine has been so busy promoting the military life that many Americans have forgotten what our nation's military is actually doing to the people it takes out of high school and college life.
Below is a sample of the military culture that John Kerry would make a mandatory presence on university and college campuses. It's an excerpt from a letter published in Stars and Stripes, written by a young sergeant in Iraq.
Iím tired of reading letters ó from people in Stars and Stripes and every other newspaper that we get ó that we are fighting for Americaís freedom. No great foreign army is invading my land nor am I on the roof of my house fighting off waves of advancing hostile attacks. Iím here in Baghdad fighting; my great country is a great distance away.
I am a paid killer; thatís what I do and I enjoy what I do. Please donít candy coat what weíre doing here with a bunch of patriotic propaganda.
The long letter ends with the following remark:
Not everyone thinks like me, but thatís OK, Iím here for higher purpose. Most of the soldiers are doing a great job here. This letter is for all the crybabies in the military who donít rate to be called men. Long live the fighters!
While the honesty of this soldier is a refreshing counter to the patriotic hype that comes out of the Pentagon and the right wing commentators of Fox News, the content of his honesty is deeply unsettling.
Let's not forget where some of this nation's most brutal killers have come from - the military. Timothy McVeigh, America's home-grown terrorist, was trained to kill by the American military. John Allen Muhammed, one half of the Washington sniper duo, was trained to shoot high powered rifles at people by the American military. He passed along this skill to a teenage boy, his partner in serial murder.
Do we really want this kind of training to become a mandatory part of the American college curriculum?
Call me a crybaby if you want, but there are plenty of other ways to teach young people discipline than to instruct them in multiple methods of killing by stabbing, bludgeoning, shooting, bombing.
There's no lack of opportunity for young Americans interested in becoming educated in the ways of killing to go to the Pentagon and enroll there. Those colleges and universities that voluntarily choose to include killing in their coursebooks should be free to invite the ROTC to help them do so.
However, I believe that the American democracy can only go downhill when our schools of higher learning are forced to quarter soldiers so that they may instruct students how to march in lock step and follow orders to kill without question.
I worry about the future on an America under John Kerry when he supports this kind of mandatory militarization of our nation's great system of higher education.
Sunday, October 05, 2003
Reason #350 to Boot Bush
OK, if Afghanistan didn't get rid of Osama bin Laden or Al Qaida or the Taliban, then at least women aren't oppressed in Afghanistan any more, right? Unfortunately, no. Amnesty International reports that in the two years since Bush invaded Afghanistan, conditions for women have barely improved at all, with forced marriages, rapes, domestic violence and the burka still dominating most women's lives. Bush promised a changed Afghanistan for women -- but then he got swept away by the next great war. (Source: Associated Press October 5, 2003)
Operation Find Justification
Okay, so it's going on half a year that the Americans have been in Iraq, and still there hasn't been even one itty bitty tiny whiny Weapon of Mass Destruction found there.
Before the war, the Bush Administration said it had hard evidence for huge stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction and knew exactly where they were. They suggested that the United Nations was incompetent for not being able to find these supposed Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Who's incompetent now?
More importantly, what's the point in continuing the search? If anti-American Iraqis really had hidden huge stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction before the American invasion, wouldn't they be using them to kill Americans right now?
The Bush Administration is asking taxpayers to fork over another 600 million dollars to keep on funding the increasingly desperate and futile search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That may seem like chump change to George W. Bush and his rich friends, but in asking American taxpayers to pay this bill, Bush is treating us all like chumps.
The only reason for continuing this search for the mythical Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction is to cover Bush's butt and enable him to gain re-election. If the Republican Party wants to pay the bill for this political fantasy quest, fine, but it's not the role of taxpayers to fund expensive projects just to make the President look good.
Half a year is enough time for this search. The danger to Americans comes not from made-up Weapons of Mass Destruction, but from the guns and grenades that ordinary Iraqis using to resist Bush's military dictatorship over Iraq.
The time has come for Bush to give up his fantasy of holy war, swallow his pride, give the Iraq over to the United Nations, and take care of the real problems we've got back here at home.
We offer the following statement from George W. Bush, made just yesterday at a $2000 per plate re-election luncheon in Wisconsin. If Bush were to stop and think about these words, maybe he'd realize that it's time to let the Iraq fetish go: "Free nations do not attack their neighbors. Free nations do not threaten the world with weapons of mass terror." (Source: White House Web Page!)
(Bush meant to add, "except for America, of course", but he forgot.)
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