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.
Saint George and the Dragon
Saturday, April 10, 2004
The trouble with moral simplicity is that it's awfully hard to keep up. You can go off tilting at wicked windmills all day, and then get so tired that you just don't have the energy to protest when a demon asks you to go out to dinner. Such is the problem of George W. Bush, a latter-day fallen Saint George who has taken too much time stomping on the shadows of little lizards to take on the real dragons of our day.
The Rent-a-Cop Solution
Our forces in Iraq, it is becoming clear, are spread too thin to adequately protect themselves. Our administration's solution? Apparently, hire private bodyguards to protect them. I wish I were kidding. Thirteen U.S. Senators have written a letter to Ronald Dumbsfeld, asking for detailed information on just how many rent-a-cops, or, as they put it, "private armies operating outside the control of governmental authority," we are currently employing in Iraq. (Source: AFP, 4/9/04)
I must admit, from a certain Republican dirty-tricks perspective, the rent-a-cop solution solves a lot of problems. These are not military personnel, so we can add all we want without having to expand the size of the army, or stretch troop deployments. They're outside of the military chain of command, at least in theory, so if there's a dirty job to do, they're the ones for it. And if they get killed, they're not counted among military casualties. On paper, they make the cost of the war, in troop numbers and lives lost, look lower than it really is.
But every life lost is a tragedy, and when a private security guard dies, we lose a fellow American, whether or not they're counted on the rolls of U.S. forces killed.
Rent-a-cops are not the answer. We need to bring in the U.N., and get an international peace-keeping force with some credibility to guide Iraq toward genuine independence.
Iraq: America's West Bank?
Friday, April 09, 2004
I read Bill O'Reilly's latest spin on Iraq with anxiety. Even the ultraconservative O'Reilly is criticizing the leadership of George W. Bush, accusing him of making serious mistakes that have led to the escalating chaos in Iraq. That criticism is long overdue.
However, O'Reilly's prescription for regaining control in Iraq is terrifyingly, and familiarly, wrong. O'Reilly says that America needs to stop trying to win over the hearts and minds of Iraqis and just break the backbone of Iraqi resistance.
This frightens me because it reminds me of Ariel Sharon's words about how to deal with the Palestinians. It frightens me because I hear the same language coming from Donald Rumsfeld, and even from George W. Bush. I am very afraid that American conservatives are on the brink of turning Iraq into America's West Bank.
Military solutions have failed miserably in the West Bank, and have failed for generations. Ariel Sharon rose to power promising to break the backbone of the Palestinian resistance with strong military force. Sharon used strong military force in the West Bank, but the Palestinian backbone was stiffened, not broken. The result of Sharon's militarism has been an increase in suicide bombings in Israel, and the destruction of even the talk of peace.
The Palestinians share responsibility in the violence, just as Iraqis share responsibility in the violence that is destroying their land (not their nation - there is no Iraqi nation). Blaming the Iraqis can no longer be the point. When Paul Bremer lectures Iraqis that their violent uprisings will "not be tolerated", he forgets that the whole point of an uprising is that people don't care what their masters want any more.
Now, like the Israelis, we are bombing mosques and kicking down doors, and shutting down newspapers, and shooting civilians, and losing control of entire cities to angry mobs, and making heroes out of men who were second-rate preachers that the world had never heard about until America put its foot down.
Forget the point about whether it's justified. We're past the point of justification in Iraq. America must now make deicisiona about what works. The example of Israel in the West Bank clearly shows that military crackdowns by foreign occupying forces don't stop uprisings - they accelerate them them. If George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld continue down this path, America will be in Iraq for decades.
When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do if you want to get out is to stop digging. The rest of the world must now pick up the mess that George W. Bush has created. I believe that the time has come for the American occupation of Iraq to give way to a truly International coalition that does not include American forces of any kind, but is funded completely by the American taxpayers who unwisely allowed the violence to begin over one year ago.
If Iraq is like Vietnam, How Come There's No Coppola Movie?
From the Toronto Star.
A Time for Protest, or a Time for Democratic Participation?
Thursday, April 08, 2004
Mother Davis scratches her chin as she reports,
With Bush's occupation of Iraq falling apart, International ANSWER is calling for a weekend of local protests across America. Here's the main thrust of their statement:
"From Friday, April 9 through Monday, April 12 there will be nationally-coordinated emergency local demonstrations in cities and towns throughout the country. Thousands will demand U.S. OUT OF IRAQ, Bring the Troops Home Now and Money for jobs, education and healthcare - Not for wars of aggression."
Understand that I'm saying this as someone who's attended many many anti-war protests: Is this really the time for Americans to go out in the street and show their displeasure with chants and signs? I'm not saying that there's anything at all ethically wrong with protesting this war. I'm speaking in terms of strategy.
Strategically, we need in the peace movement need to pay attention to what has worked and what has not worked with George W. Bush. Realistically, protests are not going to stop the war. Protests won't stop the war because George W. Bush has proven that he doesn't care about protests. If he cared about protests, he would have reconsidered his lust for war when one million Americans turned out in the streets on a single day. I was one of those one million, and I'm sad to say that it didn't make a damn bit of difference that I turned out in protest. I don't regret it, but I don't want to repeat my mistaken assumption that protesting Bush would make a damn bit of difference.
It's a mistake that a lot of us make. I know someone who works for the Syracuse Peace Council, and organized protests and teach-ins, and then didn't bother to vote in the 2002 election, when there was a clear choice in her district between one Congressional candidate who voted in favor of the war, and another candidate who vigorously opposed the war. This so-called peace "activist" was so damn passive that she couldn't eve trouble herself to cast a ballot for a pro-peace candidate. I checked the voter rolls, so I know for sure.
If we want a peaceful end to Bush's war, we have to get rid of Bush. Bush won't listen to the American people protesting, he won't listen to Congress, and he sure as hell won't listen to the International community. Sing "We Shall Overcome" all you want, but it won't give you anything but a sore throat if you don't cast your vote this November. Without a vote, a protester is nothing but a poser.
If we care about peace, we must get involved in the effort to replace Bush as President, and we must do it NOW (okay, you can wait until you reach the end of this blog entry, but that's it!). I have two simple steps for you to take TONIGHT.
1. Open up a new browser window, and search for the Democratic Party organization in your county. It's usually entitled "_____ County Democratic Committee" - search for your county name and "democrat" in Google, and you'll find them if they've got a web page. If your county Democrats do not have a web page, go to your state Democratic web page and search for contact information there. Now, once you've found your County Democrats, call the chairperson on the telephone and insist that they sign you up on every volunteer list having to do with the Presidential campaign that they've got. Offer to join the County Committee, while you're at it. Insist that you be allowed to get in on the action.
Maybe you don't think this can work. Folks, I got to be a member of my state's Democratic Committee this way, and I am by no means rich and powerful.
2. Go to John Kerry's campaign web site and sign up to become a volunteer. Donate too, if you'd like.
If you've got theoretical principles that have prevented you from supporting John Kerry, let me offer some advice to you that my kindly old grandfather once gave me: Get your head out of your ass before you start talking about other people's shit!
Do you seriously believe that "taking on the two party duopoly" is more important than stopping Bush's rampaging war machine? It's time for us all to get our priorities straight, because there is a bloodbath going on and human beings are getting slaughtered. First things first.
If John Kerry becomes President, I know that we'll be a heck of a lot safer and more peaceful than we are under Bush, and that's a good first step. I also guarantee you that we here at Irregular Times will have plenty of criticism for the John Kerry White House. We criticized Clinton plenty when he was in office, but we're not so stupid as to claim that Clinton and Bush were equally bad presidents. The Democrats and the Republicans are not exactly the same. There is a difference, and it has never been more important to admit that than it is right now.
Don't wait. Don't delay on anarchist vegan communitarian principles. Act. Now. Getting involved in this Presidential campaign may be the most profound opportunity you ever have to further the cause of peace. If you don't, if you only protest without participating, you will be part of a national decision to allow an incompetent, megalomaniacal man to get four more years to drive America into the ground.
This is bigger than Kerry. It's bigger than Nader. It's bigger than NAFTA and globalization and henna body art products. America is marching straight into the shadows, and YOU have the chance to join a real, effective organization to stop that march.
Protest too, if you like. There's nothing wrong with that. But when people protest instead of getting their hands dirty in the real politics of this country, they might as well be voting for Bush.
Nodding her head vigorously because yes, you bet damn well that she means it,
Afghanistan follows Iraq into Chaos
As we follow the news of the growing chaos in Iraq, many Americans have missed the story that the American puppet government of Afghanistan is also losing the small amount of control it once had over that nation.
Renegade general Dostum has invaded the Afghan city of Maimana and taken control of that city away from the national government of the American-installed leader Hamid Karzai.
Not only can't Bush control Iraq, he can't control Afghanistan either. Bush's wars have increased the instability in Afghanistan and Iraq, and made America less safe. Howsabout we not have another four years of that?
More than 60% of American Corporations Don't Pay Taxes
The Wall Street Journal on April 6, 2004 reports that more than 60% of U.S. corporations didn't pay any federal taxes in recent years.
You pay taxes. Why don't corporations?
Update: The ultimate source of this information is a Government Accounting Office report of February 27. Click here to read the report for yourself.
OK, Now I'm Pissed Again
Enough melancholy already. I'm full-steam pissed again. Read Dr. Theopolis' first comment on the blog entry below. He's dead-on right. Those of us who were against the war warned the Bush Administration that this kind of quagmire disaster might occur. Rumsfeld sneered in our faces and said he knew what he was doing. We warned the country that the Bush Administration was lying, and they called us traitors.
We can't fix all that now, but we sure as fuck can get the problem child behind it all out of office come November.
Pick Up A Paper
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Pick up a paper. Read any article on Iraq. Is the price of George W. Bush losing an election? It is too high. I would rather have seen Bush win re-election than to have seen this come to pass.
Senator Bob Bennett Gets Confused
Yesterday, Senator Bob Bennett from Utah made a speech demanding that Democrats "not get carried away" in their criticism of George W. Bush's policies. This statement came as U.S. soldiers were losing control of six cities in Iraq in intense fighting that ended up killed at least 12 soldiers in one day.
Well wait a minute, Senator Bennett, isn't it a little bit late for you to ask Americans to "not get carried away?" Thanks to Bush:
- hundreds of thousands of Americans have been carried away from their families to fight a war that it turns out we never had to fight
- over 600 Americans have been carried away from the streets of Iraq back home in caskets and body bags, but Bush refuses to attend a single one of their funerals
- 87 Billion taxpayer dollars got carried away to pay for just the first year of the disaster in Iraq
- When George W. Bush came into office, President Clinton's budget surpluses got carried away, and were replaced with record budget deficits
- Millions of American jobs have been carried away under Bush, and the Bush Administration says it's a good thing when a large number of those have been sent permanently overseas
- Our constitutional freedoms have been carried away by the Patriot Act, which George W. Bush wants to renew and make even stronger
- Our stomach linings may get carried away when we drink our next glass of water, thanks to Bush's plan to allow sewage to be "blended" with public drinking water supplies
Oh, we could go on and on, but Senator Bennett might accuse us of getting carried away.
Senator Edward Kennedy says that George W. Bush has created "the largest credibility gap since Richard Nixon." I think that's being generous. As John Dean says in his current book, what the Bush Administration is doing to America is "Worse Than Watergate".
Now is not the time for namby-pamby kid gloves on the problems Bush has given to America. Now is the time for some long-delayed honesty about the trouble we're in, and who has a plan to get us out of it.
What Would Dick Think?
Monday, April 05, 2004
"Let us go away together, away from the anger and imperatives of men. There will be only the two of us, and we shall linger through long afternoons of sweet retirement. In the evenings I shall read to you while you work your cross-stitch in the firelight. And then we shall go to bed, our bed, my dearest girl."
-- Lynne Cheney, from Sisters, the book she wrote but now wants to keep from being published.
Oh, the sordidity!
Paul Bremer puts his foot down, really this time
News Flash: American Governor of Iraq Paul Bremer has announced that a violent uprising by Shiite Iraqis against the American occupational government "will not be tolerated".
This marks a dramatic change, apparently from the previous policy Bremer had proposed, which was... what, tolerating violent uprisings?
When George W. Bush's agent in Iraq resorts to pronouncing that violent attacks against the American military government "will not be tolerated", it reveals that the Bush Administration really has no plan for reconstructing Iraq other than pumping a lot of oil out of the country and telling the people there in a really, really firm voice that they shouldn't shoot and throw bombs at Americans.
Here's the text of Paul Bremer's next speech, leaked to us by an anonymous White House Source:
"Okay, you Iraqis. It's time to stop trying to overthrow our occupation. Really. No, no, I mean it this time. No killing American soldiers anymore. I'm going to put my foot down on this, tomorrow probably, but definitely by the end of the week. No more suicide bombings will be tolerated, so let that be a lesson to you! If any of you blows himself up at one of our American military bases, he will have to go sit in the corner until lunchtime! Hey, I mean it! No more violent uprisings, now. Come on, guys! Do you want me to stop the car? Okay, if you won't stop shooting at us, I'm going to just stand here silently until you decide that you're going to behave like young gentlemen... Hey! I saw that! Mutilating American bodies is going to get you a long detention, Mister, and don't think I won't write a note to your family! I'll really do it this time. I'm in charge here!"
Cable Guess Network and the Republican Dirty Tricks Machine
Is this yawngate thing fishy or what?
Here's how it went, to the best of my understanding:
David Letterman runs a video clip of a twelve-year-old kid yawning at one of Bush's speeches. CNN later shows the clip, goes to commercial, comes back, and announcer Daryn Kagan says the White House told them the video was a fake. Later that day, CNN again says they were told the tape was faked. When Letterman goes on TV, he calls them on it: he insists the tape is real. The next day, Kagan comes on CNN and says: "The White House, it turns out, I guess never did call us about the tape. . . . And we've been looking through our tapes and apparently we now see no evidence that it was faked." Then the White House takes charge of media access to the kid, and he appears on Letterman's show. The White House, we are to believe, was just tickled pink the whole time.
(Source: Washington Post, 4/2/04)
Well, OK. Mistakes happen. But don't reputable news agencies try to figure out how, and what the underlying truth is? What on God's green earth is CNN doing telling us "I guess" the White House never called them. YOU GUESS?! This is news, sweeties. See, if you were supposed to be broadcasting guesses, you should call yourselves CGN, or the Cable Guess Network. Maybe you should.
If you can't even figure out if someone called you the other day or not, how the hell am I supposed to believe anything you say about what's going on halfway around the world? CNN checked out the video, which is to their credit (if a little too late). Why didn't they check out the phone call? Am I to believe that neither CNN nor the White House keeps a record of their phone calls? Is whether or not somebody called them and told them something beyond CNN's ability to investigate?
Frankly, I don't think even CNN is dumb enough not to know whether or not someone called them. The most plausible explanation is that the White House called CNN and told them to tell the public the tape was fake, and CNN ran with it. Then when Letterman called them on it, the White House called CNN again and told CNN to tell the public that the White House had never said the tape was fake. And CNN did what it was told.
How else could that mistake happen in the first place? Did some crank from Witchita call in and say he was from the White House and CNN took him at his word? Or did someone from the White House actually call CNN, and say, "Boy, we're just tickled pink"; but someone at CNN misheard "tickled pink" and thought he meant "tape is fake?" Or was there no call at all, and some CNN staffer hallucinated the whole thing? Just doesn't seem likely. In any case, I think we deserve an explanation of how the mistake happened that goes beyond "I guess..."
The only conclusion that seems plausible is that the White House told CNN to lie for them TWICE. CNN lied for them unwittingly the first time, and knowingly the second time. And Kagan knew it. News anchors don't throw out phrases like "I guess" lightly. Why say "I guess," except to cover his ass and hint to the public that he himself didn't believe what he was being told to say?
Why does it matter? Hell, this is all about some twelve-year-old boy yawning when he thought nobody was looking. Who cares what really happened? Frankly, I don't care whether he yawned or not, or whether he was standing behind Bush or not. But I do care that the White House told a news agency to lie to me twice, and I do care that that news agency went along both times, once out of carelessness and once deliberately. If the White House and CNN would conspire to lie to the American people over such a minor affair where the stakes are so small, what wouldn't they lie about when the heat was on?
When a leader tells a news agency to lie, and that news agency obeys the leader without checking the facts, even if it knows he's lying, that's nothing more than old-school Soviet-style state-un propaganda. Hoo-boy!
We're turning a corner on Iraq!
Sunday, April 04, 2004
Mother Davis cranes her neck as she hears, again,
"We're turning the corner on Iraq!"
Today was just an awful day. Seven dead American soldiers. Hundreds of dead Iraqis. Hundreds more injured. A bomb in Saudi Arabia (just south of Iraq, for those who are short on geography) kills five and injured at least a hundred.
And it's all connected to terror, we're told, so what are we to make of it when three of the top suspects in the Madrid bombings blow themselves up?
"We're turning the corner," say the Bush Administration talking heads, again.
Do you ever have the feeling that this "corner" they keep on saying we're turning in Iraq is actually just the outside edge of a long, bloody wall that goes around and around in a circle?
Wishing Bush would stop asking Americans to hang out on dangerous corners,
The Guardian: Bush and Blair made secret pact for Iraq war on September 20, 2001
Bush and Blair made secret pact for Iraq war
· Decision came nine days after 9/11
· Ex-ambassador reveals discussion
-David Rose, April 4, 2004, the Guardian
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