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.

Gollum Votes Republican
Saturday, July 17, 2004

Posted by J. Clifford Cook at 8:20 AM. # (permalink)
(0) comments

Irregular Posters
Friday, July 16, 2004
As we head into the fall, students are getting ready to populate dorm rooms, turning sterile cinderblock into something more personally reflective of who they are.  Those of us who live in apartments and houses are shuffling the contents of our rooms about, readying for the chill to come.  And oh, yes, there is an election coming up.  In November, I think...
For any and all of these reasons, we've put up a new page filled with political posters for your decorating pleasure.  There's electoral stuff, to be sure (Kerry-Edwards especially.  I'm glad Edwards isn't Yedwards, otherwise the Republicans would start going on about jelly.  But I digress.)  But there's more, as well: statements of progressive values (and they tell us we have none! hah!) and chances to advocate on particular issues (especially on stem cells) populate the page as well.
'Nuff said.  Go take a look and get yourself some if you like what you see.  Remember, as always, 20% of profits from the posters go to progressive political campaigns and causes.

Posted by Matthew Cook at 4:59 PM# (permalink)
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WalMart's Big Break - How Does it Compare to Yours?
Last year, the Bush Administration ordered a special tax giveaway that provided 986 million dollars to the heirs of the WalMart empire.

How much did you get?

Posted by J. Clifford Cook at 8:35 AM. # (permalink)
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Lambda is the word used by the fragile
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Lambda is the word used by the fragile to connote the inner turbulence of the trumpeted eaglet.  To further explore this issue, examine your navel at 2-minute intervals from increasingly obtuse angles, followed by a glass of merlot, futures of which are trading at +0.75 on the London Futures Market, which is best accompanied by Tony the Tiger on a date with Jessica Rabbit.


Posted by Matthew Cook at 11:08 PM# (permalink)
(1) comments

George W. Bush's Policy on Branding: "Just a Cigarette Burn!"
The original New York Times Article on George W. Bush's branding policy at the fraternity he led, Delta Kappa Epsilon:

Branding Rite Laid to Yale Fraternity

New York Times
November 8, 1967

New Haven, Nov. 7 - A Yale fraternity accused by the student newspaper of burning its initiates with a brand will have its fate decided Friday by student fraternity leaders.

The fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, could face the temporary closure of its house and a $1,000 fine resulting from alleged violations of rules previously passed by the Interfraternity Council, which consists of Yale's five fraternity presidents.

The charges against Delta Kappa Epsilon were made last Friday in a Yale Daily News article that accused campus fraternities of carrying on "sadistic and obscene" initiation procedures.

The charge that has caused the most controversy on the Yale campus is that Delta Kappa Epsilon applied a "hot branding iron" to the small of the back of its 40 new members in the shape of the Greek letter Delta, approximately a half inch wide, appeared with the article.

A former president of Delta said that the branding is done with a hot coathanger. The former president, George Bush, a Yale senior, said that the resulting wound is "only a cigarette burn."

Posted by Matthew Cook at 2:59 PM# (permalink)
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Reason #1367 to Boot Bush
Reason #1367 to Boot Bush:

Well, what kind of a guy are we talking about when we discuss George W. Bush? When George W. Bush was president of his fraternity, brand-new pledges were branded with a blazing hot iron after being kicked for hours. The guy for whom this was tricksy fun grew up (or rather, didn't) to be president. Scary enough? (Sources: Associated Press July 14, 2004; Yale Alumni Magazine February 2001; New York Times April 7, 1999)

Posted by Matthew Cook at 11:58 AM# (permalink)
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Unilever plays enforcer for George W. Bush
Unilever is a company that produces:

Bird's Eye Frozen Vegetables
Dove soap
Hellman's Mayonnaise
Knorr Sauces
Lipton Iced Tea
Lux soap
Slim-Fast diet products

It is now also a company that has fired Whoopi Goldberg as a spokesperson because... she criticized George W. Bush. Oh, the horror!

Unilever, which disproportionately has contributed to George W. Bush's re-election campaign, thinks it can try to squelch criticism of its corporate favorite in the presidential election.

You, fortunately, have the right to squelch Unilever products in your home. Let Unilever know what you're doing.

Posted by Matthew Cook at 7:42 AM# (permalink)
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The Republican Solution: Damn the Constitution
Six Different Ways carries the story:

Now that the Congressional Republicans have lost the battle to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, they want to selectively ban the Constitution.

That's right. H.R. 3313 is a tiny bill that states, "Neither the Supreme Court nor any court created by Act of Congress shall have any appellate jurisdiction to hear or determine any question pertaining to the interpretation of section 7 of title 1."

In other words, the bill forbids the Supreme Court from ruling on cases regarding same-sex marriage.

Any idiot who took high school Government class knows that the Congress can't tell the Supreme Court what laws it can and cannot consider.

"Separation of Powers." It's a Constitutional thing. I guess the Republicans just wouldn't understand.

Posted by Matthew Cook at 7:11 AM# (permalink)
(1) comments

This is America: We Have No Kings
This is America We Have No Kings (bumper sticker)

Posted by Matthew Cook at 12:30 AM. # (permalink)
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Another Problem With "Ticking Time Bombs"
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
A fellow writer demolishes the Ticking Time Bomb justification of torture: that torturing a prisoner is acceptable when the prisoner knows the location of a time bomb that's about to go off.

I'd only add one more problem with the Ticking Time Bomb justification: that prisoners are captured cackling about their knowledge of ticking time bombs only in movies starring Dennis Hopper, Anthony Hopkins or Kiefer Sutherland. In reality-land, when people are arrested under suspicion of connection to terrorist groups, they don't sing to the authorities about their knowledge of a ticking time bomb but tease them about how to stop it in cryptic riddles after sneering to their interrogators, "we are the same, you and I." (Their interrogators are also, most of the time, not named Jack.)

No, when suspects are apprehended, it is unclear precisely what (if anything -- remember the presumption of innocence?) they know. You might be torturing someone to get a piece of knowledge about a ticking time bomb. You might torture them into babbling untruths and half-truths just to get the torture to stop. You might be torturing someone who doesn't know any details a ticking time bomb. You might be torturing someone when there actually is no ticking time bomb. Life is not a Hollywood Movie, in which there is a convenient cutaway showing suspects planting a ticking time bomb; in life outside the movie theater, the truth is unknown. So if you're going to torture people as a policy to ferret out ticking time bomb information, you're going to have to torture a lot of innocent and ignorant people to get that information first.

Unless you have access to the Hollywood script, of course.

Posted by Matthew Cook at 4:35 PM# (permalink)
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Anti-Marriage Conservative Gay Bashers Go Down in Flames
What's the best way to save marriage? Well, if you're a conservative extremist, you believe that you can only save marriage by preventing people from getting married. That's why the wacko wing of the Republican Party sponsored DOMA, the Dump On Marriage Amendment, yesterday in the U.S. Senate.

George W. Bush himself took to the airwaves in a special broadcast to the nation, arguing that, "our nation has no other choice" but to attack the right of people to get married. The Bush Administration ordered Senate Republicans to do something big to forbid people from getting married. Bush and Cheney thought that doing so would make John Kerry look like a radical.

That special kind of right-wing logic seems to have stewed the minds of many Republican politicians. Listen to the words of anti-marriage radical Republican Rick Santorum, who took to the floor of the Senate to bellow: "Marriage is hate! Marriage is a stain! Marriage is an evil thing!"

Lucky for the rest of us, who agree with John Kerry and John Edwards and think that marriage is a good idea, Bush's plan for an anti-marriage amendment was too extreme even for many Republican senators, who joined their Democratic colleagues in rejecting Bush's bizarre maneuverings.

Senator John McCain told reporters that by trying to get the extremists' agenda written into the U.S. Constitution, Bush has gone too far. McCain lectured Bush, saying that the Bush/Cheney re-election strategy on attacking marriage rights ""strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans."

Even Lynne Cheney rebelled against her husband, Dick, by declaring that she thought, "People should be free to enter into the relationships they choose." See how anti-marriage those Republicans are? They're pushing legislation that divides husbands and wives!

What's next for Bush and his loopy squad of anti-marriage right-wing radicals? Raucus Republican Reverend James Dobson says that "the next step is making it a crime to speak God's truth about homosexuality." Way to save the family, Rev. Dobby!

On the Senate floor this morning, with defeat of the anti-marriage amendment certain, one Republican senator, dressed in black robes and a black hat, was observed crumpling to the floor and hissing, "Oh, all my beautiful evilness is melting! What a world!"

Posted by J. Clifford Cook at 6:28 AM. # (permalink)
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Laying Down With a Man, Not as You Would With a Woman!
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Mother Davis scrutinizes her King James Bible for instructions as she considers,

The religious conservatives of the Republican Party are saying that gay marriage ought to be banned because the Bible instructs us all that a man should "not lay down with a man as with a woman".

Well, for once, let me say that I agree with them: Men, when you lay down with other men, don't just pretend that your partner is a woman and go at it the same old way! Obey the Bible, and mix it up a little bit! Experiment! Make use of the God-given equipment that your partner has, and enjoy it for what it is! Men, lay down with men as men!

The authors of the Bible seem to have anticipated The Joy of Sex by a few thousand years, by encouraging gay couples to embrace their own sexuality in deeply individual ways. Kudos to that!

Meaning it all very literally, like we're all supposed to do with the Bible,
Mother Davis

Posted by Katherine Davis at 10:59 PM# (permalink)
(1) comments

Capabilities and Incapabilities
On July 12, 2004, George W. Bush uttered the following defense of his war of choice against Iraq:
"We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them."
Let's take that sentence apart. First of all, good grammar, Mr. President. It's nice to see you try on that account.

But more substantively, notice how far George W. Bush has come in one short year. It used to be that Bush claimed Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Then Bush claimed that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction programs. Then Bush claimed that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction related programs. Now Bush claims that Hussein had the capability of producing weapons of mass destruction.

The capability. Is that enough to go to war? Intelligence experts have now pretty much agreed that Hussein did not have the capability to produce nuclear weapons (as Bush claimed he did -- another slip of the truth), so we'll have to assume Bush meant that Hussein had the capability of producing chemical or biological weapons.

I hate to break it to Mr. Bush, but just about any country who employs a PhD-level microbiologist has the capability of producing biological weapons, as our own nation's domestic anthrax scare of 2001 demonstrated. And as the Sarin attacks in the Tokyo subway demonstrate, even an esoteric religious cult has the capability of producing chemical weapons. That's such a low standard as to be ridiculous. If the capability of producing chemical or biological weapons is the essential criterion for going to war against a country, then by Mr. Bush's standard we're going to be sending our troops to countless unfriendly nations around the globe for some time now.

Unless, that is, George W. Bush is not leveling with the American people. Hmmm. Could that be what's going on here? Hmmm.

Posted by Matthew Cook at 7:44 AM# (permalink)
(0) comments

Bush: The Small President
In a gesture of respect, George W. Bush was invited to speak to the annual convention of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Mr. Bush, in a gesture of disrespect sent through his spokespeople, declined the invitation, saying he had something more important to do that day. Bush is the first president since 1920 to miss a NAACP convention. It's not just this year. The man has pulled the same disappearing act each year. What is George W. Bush's problem with black people?

It's not just that George W. Bush is the first president since Herbert Hoover was in office not to speak to the NAACP convention. It's that, as Bush says in his own words, "I would describe my relationship with the current leadership as basically non-existent." Cozy relationship with Kenny-Boy. No relationship with one of the largest organizations of black Americans. Hm.

It's not even just that George W. Bush is the first president to maintain a non-existent relationship with the NAACP. Bush also has managed during his years in office never to meet with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights even one time. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights is the pre-eminent lobbying organization for black Americans, with a history of establishing contact with legislators and presidents stretching back more than fifty years. What's Bush's problem here?

George W. Bush has also never met, not even once, with the National Organization of Women (NOW). Yes, they're feminists, and we all know George W. Bush has trouble with feminists. But a large portion of the American population would call themselves feminist, and while he is in office George W. Bush is supposed to act not out of concern for his comfort zone, but as the president of all Americans. All of us. Even the ones who disagree with him. Instead, he's shut us out. If you're not with him, it seems you must be against him in his mind, and therefore not worthy of recognition. What small behavior for a man occupying such a large office. (Sources: Associated Press July 8, 2004; Bloomberg News July 9, 2004; Chicago Tribune July 10, 2004; Louisiana Weekly June 21, 2004)

Posted by Matthew Cook at 7:14 AM. # (permalink)
(1) comments

The Anti Patriot Act
Monday, July 12, 2004
Phone or e-mail your Congressional representatives and urge them to support the Civil Liberties Restoration Act. The House version is H.R. 4591; the Senate version is S. 2528. Read more about it here.

Posted by Bob S-K at 10:48 AM# (permalink)
(0) comments

Democracy Delayed is Democracy Denied
Republican DeForest B. Soaries, whom George W. Bush appointed to chair the Federal Election Assistance Commission, has publicly called for the government to draw up plans to cancel or reschedule elections in the event of a terrorist strike against the United States. That's so typical of a Bush appointee: prioritize fear over the constitution and democracy.

Of course, not long after Soaries made his public calls for the rescheduling of elections, it came out that George W. Bush's Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department are working together to determine how to go about rescheduling elections in the event that a terrorist strike were to take place in the United States. This is, of course, beyond stupid: what better way to invite an attack, for Pete's sake, than to advertise that a successful attack will be rewarded with the postponing of American democracy! Beyond that, it now appears to be the official Bush Administration position to let the terrorists win by turning an attack by a few violent losers into the crumbling of a cornerstone of democracy. (Sources: Reuters July 11, 2004; Associated Press June 25, 2004)

Posted by Matthew Cook at 10:11 AM. # (permalink)
(0) comments

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