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.
Impeach Rumsfeld Postcards - send to Congress
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Get your Impeach Rumsfeld Postcards and send them to Congress - get Washington to act now!
Soon to come - Impeach Bush cards too. Bush knew about the program to torture. Who didn't know? The American people!
NEWS FLASH: Donald Rumsfeld Approved Torture in Abu Ghraib
In the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh reports that Donald Rumsfeld personally approved "a highly secret operation" that "encouraged physical coercion and the sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq."
Read all about it.
George W. Bush, Clarity and the Newspapers
George W. Bush has helpfully explained why he doesn't read newspapers or even watch the nightly news on television: "I like to have a clear outlook. It can be a frustrating experience to pay attention to somebody's false opinion or somebody's characterisation, which simply isn't true." Yes, exposure to other points of view can pose a pesky problem for one's clarity. It might even change one's mind. Thank goodness Mr. Bush avoids that problem.
Speaking of clarity, we do need to clarify the unfairly broad statement that George W. Bush doesn't read newspapers. You see, says White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, "He does not dwell on the newspaper, but he reads the sports page every day." The sports pages! Oh, well then. That's different. Thank goodness we have a president who's familiar with earned run averages in the American AND National Leagues.
Although George W. Bush does not read articles in the newspaper, Laura Bush does. Good for you, Mrs. Bush! She tells her husband all about her opinion on the stories she thinks are important. "Frequently," says White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, "I find that his reaction kind of reflects Laura Bush's take." Do we have an independent thinker as a president? Er, nope. Feeling comfortable yet? (Source: Washington Times May 11, 2004)
A Tale of Two No-Sweat Sneakers
Friday, May 14, 2004
In December of 2003, it came to our attention that Adbusters was planning to sell a Blackspot sneaker that would be made ethically and would feature the anti-brand of a simple black spot rather than a swoosh. Intruiged both by the possibility of a return to ethical shoe manufacture and by the uncanny resemblance between the Blackpost sneaker prototype and the Chuck Taylor All-Star sneaker, we arranged for an interview with Kalle Lasn, who assured us that the Blackspot sneaker was not some kind of cute post-modern joke but an actual product to be coming out in the Spring of 2004.
In the wake of that interview, it was a great surprise to come upon yet another sneaker, looking exactly like the Blackspot sneaker (which looks exactly like the Chuck Taylor). This shoe also went by a catchy name, the No Sweat Sneaker. And yes, this sneaker too was collecting pre-orders and promising to be produced under fair trade conditions in the Spring of 2004.
Well, it's May 14, 2004, and that makes it Accountability Time. Let's check in and see how No Sweat and Blackspot are doing with their quest for the sweat-free sneaker.
Reason #1122 to Boot Bush
Reason #1122 to Boot Bush:
The Republican Party Platform of 2000:
"The rule of law, the very foundation for a free society, has been under assault, not only by criminals from the ground up, but also from the top down. An administration that lives by evasion, coverup, stonewalling, and duplicity has given us a totally discredited Department of Justice. The credibility of those who now manage the nationís top law enforcement agency is tragically eroded."
We couldn't agree more. Just substitute "2004" for "2000."
Oh, Grow Up!
Well, now they've gone and done it. Al Sadr and the Americans were fighting too close to the Imam Ali Mosque, in the Shiite holy city of Najaf. And wouldn't you know, it looks like they've gone and messed it up. Oh-oh! Al Sadr's militiamen blamed the Americans for the damage. But Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said nuh-uh, "Go ask Muqtada who put that hole in the shrine." (Source: AP, 5/14/04) Real mature, guys. You were both playing too close to the shrine, and it's both your faults. Shame on both of you, you should have known better.
Republican coverup: The problem is not the photos
Thursday, May 13, 2004
Mother Davis waxes philosophical as she comments,
Wise heads used to ponder the question of whether there is any sound if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it.
Now, Republican members of Congress are pondering the question: If an Iraqi prisoner is tortured by an American, but we don't let the public see the photographs, did the torture really happen at all?
The GOP's cover-up machine has sprung into action, with Republican Tom DeLay suggesting that he doesn't think the torture is any big deal, accusing the public of overreacting to the gruesome photographs. Other prominent Republicans have stated that the photographs need to be classified Top Secret, because they would make the United States look bad.
This reaction by the Republicans in Congress is deeply disturbing to me, because it confirms that the Republican leadership does not regard torture by American soldiers as a serious problem. Instead, they believe that the only problem is letting the American people know that the military is torturing people.
This is as ridiculous as if a man found pictures of his wife having sex with another man, and then chided his wife by saying only, "You should know better than to take pictures of this. In the future, when you have an affair, make sure I don't see any more of these."
The problem is not that photographs were taken. The problem is the torture itself.
Yes, there is a secondary problem: The Republicans are behaving as the military officers in the Iraqi prisons did. They're trying to cover up the torture instead of taking care of the problem. The more that the Republicans in Congress come together to stonewall the American public's right to know, the more they try to keep the torture a secret, the more that the Republican Party is becoming America's pro-torture party. Donald Rumsfeld has gone so far in the last few days as to say, on the record, that he thinks that some of the techniques of torture used by Americans in Iraq, Guantanamo, and Afghanistan are a good idea.
I'm hoping that the American people are insightful enough to take note of the broad scope of torture that is taking place in the name of the United States, even if they are never given the right to see the pictures for themselves.
Wondering if she still has money in her bank account if she doesn't take a picture of it,
The ABCs of Beating Bush: A New Irregular Book
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
In these irregular times, the reasons to boot Bush out of the White House on Election Day are piling up faster than we can possibly deal with them. There's so much information about the Bush Administration being revealed that there is a strong temptation to just tune out, stop paying attention to the details.
George W. Bush would love nothing more than for progressive Americans to throw their hands up in disgust. We need to keep our eye on the ball, but we also need well-organized information so that we don't feel overwhelmed.
With this in mind, we're introducing a new book: The ABCs of Beating Bush.
Most alphabet books are for kids who are just learning to read. This alphabet book is definitely for adults - folks old enough to vote. There's no objectionable content, unless you count the policies of George W. Bush as objectionable.
From A for Abortion to Z for Zealotry, The ABCs of Beating Bush covers the wide scope of problems with the Bush Administration without getting so bogged down in the minutae of each subject that reading becomes a chore.
It's a perfect quick reference for anyone who wants to know a little more about what Bush, Cheney and company are really up to, and indispensible for those Americans who want to get informed so that they can involved in a meaningful way.
General William "Holy Roller" Boykin Involved in Abuse Scandal
Army Lt. General William Boykin,
apparently gave the go-ahead for prisoners to be roughed up prior to interrogation. This is in Boykin's capacity as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Intelligence.
Read about it in this Reuters news article.
When religious zealotry and unchecked power are combined, is this the result?
Duck Fubya, Chuck Feney
Inhofe's Outrage, Bush's America
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Reason #1111 to Boot Bush:
While Bush is in office, men like James Inhofe of Oklahoma are in charge of the U.S. Senate. Men like James Inhofe of Oklahoma are using the Senate to defend the Bush Administration in the wake of the use of systematic torture in Iraq. How does a Bush partisan like Inhofe respond when he learns about the torture of Iraqis under an American administration? Where is Inhofe's outrage directed?
The outrage of Senator James Inhofe -- made powerful by the presidency of George W. Bush -- is directed toward the people who uncovered acts of torture, toward the press that let the American people see images of that torture, and toward the outrage that the American people feel against acts of torture. Take a good look at those remarks, because if George W. Bush and his Republican allies stay in power, they're a vision of America to come. If we want to see a different America, these men of power must be replaced. (Source: Transcript of Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing of May 11, 2004)
How Bush Chose Stupidity
Monday, May 10, 2004
"Was he born that way?" Read Jacob Weisberg's answer here.
An irresponsible culture of following orders
A chilling reminder of the dark side of the military's power over the people it absorbs into its ranks comes this morning in the form of a father's excuse for his son's participation in the torture of Iraqi prisoners. In Hyndman, Pennsylvania, Daniel Sivits, the father of court-martialed Jeremy Sivits explained that he blamed the officers who gave his son the order to take photographs of the torture. The elder Sivits said that because his son comes from a military family, "he knows how to follow orders".
Jamey Ringler, Jeremy Sivits's basketball coach, echoed this excuse, saying that when Sivits joined the military, "it was beat into his head that he had to follow orders. So in a sense, in his mind, that was right."
You know, we hear all the time about how the military values honor, but this father's desperate attempt to excuse his son exposes the military's claim to honor as a sham. When it comes right down to it, what the military teaches young Americans is a lack of responsibility.
The enlisted soldiers are taught that they don't have responsibility for anything that they do, so long as they just follow orders. They are told that they can kill and maim and destroy, just so long as it's under orders. Is it any wonder that they follow orders when told to torture helpless prisoners? The military teaches them that they are above the codes of civilized behavior.
The officers, when the brutal behavior of their soldiers is exposed, also fail to take responsibility. After all, they say, they didn't do the torture. They get a slap on the wrist for crimes that would give them hard prison time if the crimes were done back here in the United States. The lack of responsibility among the military's leadership is epitomized by Donald Rumsfeld, who has the brass to say "I take responsibility," and then insist that he receive no punishment at all. This kind of "responsibility" without consequences is not responsibility at all.
It's also of worthy note that Jeremy Sivits's father complained that his son was trained by the military to be a truck driver, not a prison guard. Watch out kids, when the military recruiters come to you and tell you that if you join the military, you'll be getting valuable skills that will help you get a job when you return to civilian life. Oh, you'll learn a trade, all right. The military can promise to train you as an engineer, and then send you off to torture prisoners in a foreign country.
Where are you going to put that on your resume?
Should We Let Rumsfeld Off the Hook, and Get Off His Case?
Sunday, May 09, 2004
If anyone ever thought that the Bush Administration were serious about dealing with the growing problem of torture by Americans in Iraq, that impression was destroyed this morning when America found out that Vice President Dick Cheney is demanding that Americans leave Rumsfeld alone and "get off his case".
Apparently, Dick Cheney thinks that Donald Rumsfeld is the real victim here. Poor Donald Rumsfeld.
Dick Cheney implies that we ought to just forget about the torture that's being done in our name, but torture is not just some adolescent prank that is to be brushed off with a simple, "get off my case". We've had enough of Bush and Cheney coddling torturers. We need a President and a Vice President who take these matters seriously.
And as for Donald Rumsfeld? We'll get off Rumsfeld's case when he gets off ours. Go home, Mr. Rumsfeld, and take your bloody hands with you.
Reuters reports that hundreds of photos and live-action videos of abuse of Iraqi prisoners exist and are being reviewed by the White House. If there are hundreds of pictures, imagine the number of "isolated incidents."
According to Reuters, the Pentagon doesn't want to release these photos to the public.
According to the same article, Dick Cheney says of Donald Rumsfeld that it's time to "get off his case."
Sorry, no. Some things are more important than not giving Donald Rumsfeld a hard time.
Return to the Irregular Times Main Page
Read our Blog Archives