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.
Countering the Pro-War Yellow Ribbon
Saturday, September 11, 2004
The last month has seen a mysterious boom in yellow ribbon magnets and stickers that read "Support Our Troops", "God Bless America", and even "One Nation Under God". We found one distributor of these yellow ribbon stickers who also sells magnetic Ten Commandments displays for the cars of devout believers.
The point of all these yellow ribbon magnets and stickers? It's a campaign gimmick, of course. The "support our troops" motto has become shorthand for the undeclared commands of "support the President" and "support the war" and "stop questioning your superiors" and "just get in line, jack!"
We have a different message of our own that we hope can help to counter the yellow ribbon emblem of lockstep unity behind the war. Yes, we've got plenty of "Support the Troops - Dump Bush" bumper stickers, and others of that type, but we also wanted to directly counter the whole yellow ribbon thing.
So, we've created a black ribbon of mourning, in memory of the 1,000 soldiers who have been killed by Bush's military adventure in Iraq. In the place of "support our troops", we've placed the slogan: No More Blood for Oil.
You see, we believe that the best way to support the troops, and other human beings besides, is to not throw away any more lives for the sake of big oil companies' profits.
As of today, the black ribbon of mourning is available only on a bumper sticker and a car window decal. We'll have a wider selection of bumper stickers soon, along with buttons, magnets and t-shirts with this theme.
As the pro-Bush yellow ribbon campaign shows, widespread visibility is key for images of this type. We hope that it isn't too late for us to have an impact with the black ribbons of mourning, whether Bush is re-elected or not.
Bird Watchers Get Political
Okay, in the last 24 hours we've had blog posts here about flying triangles and flying bullets. Let's get a little bit more natural, and go for some flying objects that really belong in the air. Let's talk about Birders United to Defeat Bush.
It takes all kinds in this struggle, and as the group points out, if just a few hundred Republican bird watching enthusiasts had voted in accordance with their interests, George W. Bush would have been nothing but a footnote in history. It's great to see people of all kinds doing grassroots organizing to get Bush out of office, so if you're an avid birder, and you don't like Bush, you might get a big kick out of checking out this group of friends to the feathers.
Help bring back the assault weapons ban
Mother Davis resists pursing her lips as she says,
For ten years, the United States of America has enjoyed a time of relatively low criminal violence. Oh, we're still one of the more murderous nations on the planet, but much less so than we used to be - especially since the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 was passed.
Well, wouldn't you know it, George W. Bush and the Republicans in Congress are letting that ban expire. On Monday, Uzis and other assault rifles are set to pour back onto America's streets. How's that for Homeland Security?
Now, here's what you can do about it:
Visit the site of Stop the NRA and sign the petition to bring back the Assault Weapons Ban.
Well, hop to it!
Getting ready to hop herself,
Flying Triangles - UFOs Worthy of Discussion
Friday, September 10, 2004
We here at Irregular Times are a skeptical lot. Some people think that means that we're closed-minded to all kinds of cosmic stuff. Actually, no, that's not what being skeptical means. Being skeptical means remaining open-minded while being sharp-minded at the same time.
So, when we heard about "flying triangles" being sighted consistently over the last few years, our skeptical interest was piqued.
Here's the basic rundown of the story: People in the United States have been reporting strange flying triangles, moving at slow speeds over populated areas (of course, sightings are less likely over unpopulated areas, but that's just where B-2 flights were mistakenly reported as spaceships a while back).
Are the flying triangles spaceships from an alien civilization? Chinese airplanes? Surveillance devices used by the Department of Homeland Security to spy on Americans going about their everyday lives? Figments of crazy peoples' imaginations?
We don't know. We're not going to try to pretend that we know.
We are willing, however, to listen.
Maybe you've seen a flying triangle. Maybe you've got an idea about what they could be. Maybe you know someone who sent in a fake sighting report. Maybe you just like things with 3 sides on them. Whatever the reason, you can now pop on over to a special thread on our discussion board, dedicated to nothing but talk about the flying triangle phenomenon. Since we've opened the thread up, we've already got someone who says they saw one themselves. Who knows what else you might hear...
Perhaps it's all bunk. Perhaps it's not. It's certainly interesting, and very irregular.
Bush-Cheney 2004: We Won't Cut Your Head Off
Bush Administration Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's latest line of defense against criticism on torture at Abu Ghraib:
"Does it rank up there with chopping someone's head off on television? It doesn't."
Is that what America stands for now? At least we don't chop your head off?
I think we can reach for a higher standard than this.
Progressive Jeff Miller Takes on Newt Gingrich
Progressives, take notice:
In Central New York State, four miles to the north of New York City, Jeff Miller, a progressive candidate for US Congress, is being targeted by none other than Newt Gingrich, the ultraconservative former Speaker of the House. Last time Gingrich set his sights on a Democrat, he tried to have Bill Clinton impeached. This time, he's trying to bring down the surprisingly strong campaign of Jeff Miller, who promises to take the 24th Congressional District of New York State back from the Republican Party.
Gingrich has gone so far as to fly to Jeff Miller's district to endorse Sherwood Boehlert, the conservative Republican incumbent. The timing is apt, as Boehlert is taking on the even more conservative Dr. Walrath, a warrior of the religious right. Jeff Miller is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Whomever Miller faces in the general election, it will be a proxy battle with Newt Gingrich, and so this particular contest has become a major theatre in the struggle between progressives and conservatives that is being fought this year across America.
Sherwood Boehlert is a Republican so extreme that he has earned a shameful zero percent rating from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. As a member of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Boehlert has been part of the effort to allow military-style semi-automatic assault rifles, such as Uzis, back on American streets. These guns were used in the mass murders at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, as well as by the snipers who terrorized Washington D.C. in 2002 and 2003.
Boehlert has also stood out strongly against pro-Choice policies. The National Abortion Rights Action League ( NARAL ), for example, gives him a failing rating of only 30 percent. Boehlert has also been complicit in Bush's special tax favors to the richest of the rich, voting for such favors to the economic elite 9 times since the Reagan Administration left office.
Jeff Miller must be electedif the Republican grip on Congress is to end. For that reason, we are asking all our readers to read about Miller's strong progressive platform, and to contribute to his campaign.
We cannot afford to let Newt Gingrich win again.
America, Korea, Bush and Nuclear Weapons
Mother Davis throws the old mushrooms out of her refrigerator as she comments,
Last week, a significant piece was little noticed by the American public, which was busy with hurricanes, the Republican National Convention, and other disasters. South Korea admitted that it has, for a long time, been working with enriched uranium and plutonium in ways that are usually interpreted as signs that a program to produce nuclear weapons is under way.
The Bush Administration shrugged and moved on.
The fact that the United States has sounded alarms about similar nuclear programs in "evil" nations like North Korea and Iran has not been missed by the international community, which accuses the Bush Administration of a double standard on weapons of mass destruction. The shoe fits.
When weak nations not allied with the United States try to develop nuclear weapons, the Bush Administration howls and warns of impending global disaster. The Bush Administration is relatively silent, however, when allies of the United States such as South Korea move toward nuclear weapons. Indeed, some very unstable nations allied with the United States, such as Pakistan and Israel, already possess nuclear weapons, and the Bush Administration does not seem bothered about it one bit.
Worst of all, the United States of America is the inventor of nuclear weapons, and holds the world's most powerful stockpile of nuclear weapons - by far.
It's time to end the hypocrisy on weapons of mass destruction and work toward truly a global ban on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Programs of mere non-proliferation are not working, and even if they were, these programs would not address the problem of weapons that already exist.
No one who cares about the future of human civilization should tolerate the existence of a "nuclear club" of nations, allowed to develop, maintain and enhance arsenals of nuclear weapons as they wish.
To find out more, visit the Union of Concerned Scientists' references on nuclear weapons, the United Kingdom's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and Australia's Nuclear Disarmament Party.
Considering that worldwide problems call for fully worldwide solutions,
Redefeat Bush -- The Cell Phone Movement
As times change, movements change. But a cell phone movement? That's right, a cell phone movement has joined us. It's organized by RedefeatBush.org and here's how it works:
1. You bring your cell phone to a local place (from Alaska to the tip of Florida) named on the website.
2. You get a list of people to call in battleground states.
3. When you call these folks, you help them register to vote and encourage them to turn out at the polls.
It's simple, but this kind of thing really can make a difference come November. Check 'em out.
George W. Bush has a funny way of mourning
Thursday, September 09, 2004
After being pressed by reporters yesterday, George W. Bush admitted that over one thousand Americans had been killed in Iraq as a result of the American-initiated war there. Then Bush made a statement that is truly strange, when taken in context: "We appreciate the sacrifice of the men and women who wear the uniform. They're serving a great cause. We mourn every loss of life. We'll honor their memories by completing the mission."
You know, the way that most people mourn the loss of life is by attending a little thing called a funeral. In fact, for previous presidents, it has been a tradition to attend the funerals of soldiers who have been killed in war. If Bush really mourns the loss of American lives in Iraq, how come he's busy attending campaign fundraising parties instead of going to soldiers' funerals? That's right - Bush has not been to a single soldier's funeral.
It's also part of the typical mourning process to go through a period of self-reflection and re-evaluation. Not Bush. When Bush says that he's going to complete "the mission", it's a bit hard to know what he means, given that no one really knows what "the mission" in Iraq really is. All the old mission statements seem to fall by the wayside. The only mission left seems to be to hunker down and stay the course without knowing what the course is. The only mission left seems to put Americans in harm's way without any real idea of why they ought to be there. The only mission left seems to be to sacrifice more and more American lives.
Mourning American lives by sending more Americans to their deaths is hardly the kind of sensitive appreciation and "honor" we need right now.
Peace, Love and Zen from the Republicans
As the election gets nearer, our Republicans are getting more shrill, and more weird, making our mailbox ever so much more fun. This morning, we got the following message from a kindly old dame named Faith Tatum.
"kerry is a traider. im also an old hippy. however, i still have a brain. i am not willing to surrender my free country over to the dictator of the un. you and your communist kerry boy do not deserve to live in my country so get the hell out.
Gosh. Kerry is a trader? Is that what she meant to say? If so, what does he trade, and is it any good?
Furthermore, I wish to complement dear old Faith on her beautiful philosophical language: "the dictator of the un". Wow. Like, that could apply to concepts like untruthful or unrepentant or uninformed. Faith is making a principled statement here about the unwillingness (wow - another un!) of George W. Bush to admit his mistakes and bring the United States back into balance.
Far out, Faith. Got any more koans like this for us?
Crazy Alan Keyes: Jesus Christ is on my side!
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Ya gotta love that Alan Keyes, coming in to Illinois from out of state to show people a good time.
He's wacky! He's zany! He's insaaaaane!
The latest from Alan Keyes: " Christ would not vote for Barack Obama. "
Well, duh. For one thing, Jesus is not registered to vote in Illinois. (Is Alan Keyes registered to vote in Illinois yet, or is he still voting in Maryland?)
For another thing, Jesus does not have a birth certificate, and he's unlikely to get one with that story about "virgin birth".
Then there's that problem of Jesus having been put in a tomb about two thousand years ago. You see, if someone who has been buried as dead "rises" from the grave to vote, it's widely interpreted as voter fraud.
Woo hoo! Voting with the messiah - Alan Keyes is craaaaazy!
Bolster the Economy and the Environment at the Same Time: Freecycle!
Looking through the newspaper put out by our local co-operative grocery store, I found out about a great new way to strengthen the economy and help the environment at the same time - Freecycle!
Freecycle is a network of local networks that enables people who have stuff that they don't want anymore to give those things to people who desperately want things, but don't have the money to buy them.
Benefit 1: People with low incomes get stuff they could otherwise not get
Benefit 2: Stuff that would otherwise end up in the dump continue to be used in people's homes
Benefit 3: Big corporate Republican-owned businesses don't get to make as much profit, and have to write smaller checks to people like George W. Bush
It's about empowering little folks and getting people to come together.
The only downside: If you live in a rural area that's not near a progressive cultural center like Portland, Oregon or Ithaca, New York, there probably isn't a freecycle network near you.
The upside: If there isn't a freecycle network near you, you can start one up!
Bush Puts Us In Biggest Debt Ever
It was a record-breaking day for George W. Bush yesterday. Not only did his ill-conceived Iraq War kill its 1,000th American soldier, but Bush proved that he could throw away taxpayers' money at a record pace too.
It was announced yesterday that George W. Bush has given the United States the largest budget deficit ever this year: over 422 billion dollars.
That means that for this year alone, Bush's government is spending 422 billion dollars more than it brings in.
There's a connection between Bush's loss of American dollars and American lives, of course - the same Iraq War that has killed over 1,000 Americans is also a major cause of this year's record budget deficit (although, to be fair, Bush's program of special tax giveaways to corporations and super-rich campaign contributors takes a lot of the blame too).
Funny, but I thought I heard Bush promising, a few months back, that he would cut the budget deficit in half. How does he plan to do that when he increases it every year? More fuzzy math from Bush, I guess.
The really appalling thing is that Bush's political party controls all three branches of the federal government right now. So, if Bush really wanted to stop shoving his expenses off onto our nation's children, he could do it. Bush does want to avoid indebting our children, right?
Republicans Cut Veterans Benefits
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
I'd call it tacky, but it goes way beyond tacky.
The Republicans love to chant pro-military slogans like "Support Our Troops" and "Freedom Isn't Free!" But what's behind these slogans? Hypocrisy, as usual.
The truth is that Republicans cut veterans benefits, and they do it during wartime. So, when they say "support our troops", what they mean is to just talk big. When Republicans say "freedom isn't free", I guess what they mean is that America's soldiers have to pay the price for Bush's big mistakes - and do so with fewer benefits when they come limping home.
In commemoration of the thousands of wounded soldiers coping with Bush's cuts in benefits, we offer the following simple and direct bumper sticker:
Freedom isn't free, but talk is cheap. We don't support our troops when we send them off to fight in unnecessary wars and then leave them high and dry to take care of their own wounds after they come back home.
Under the Republican government, cuts to veterans benefits are used to pay for special tax giveaways to the richest Americans. That's not just bad policy. It's mean.
1,502 Reasons to Boot Bush
Another milestone, not nearly as important as the 1,000th American killed in Iraq:
Our long list now surpassed 1,500 reasons to boot Bush out of office on Election Day. We're up to 1,502 as of this evening, with our goal of reaching 2004 before Election Day getting much closer. We've got just 502 reasons to go, and we're not worried at all about finding that number. Bush, Cheney and company hand us more reasons than we can possibly incorporate into our list.
The vast number of reasons to vote against Bush is staggering, especially when one considers that during the last election Bush promised to be a moderate Republican - a "compassionate conservative". All moderation went out the window on election night, however, and Bush has been on a radical reactionary rampage ever since.
Thanks to you, Mr. Bush, for making this so easy.
Death Toll of American Soldiers in Iraq surpasses 1,000
It's a sad mark: as of today, 1,001 American soldiers have died in Iraq.
Bush: Wasted on Coke or Wasted on Life?
There's a new allegation out there that George W. Bush was snorting lines of cocaine at Camp David when his papa was president. Who knows if this story will turn out to be true, but after he says something like the following, you've got to wonder:
"Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country."
(Sources: Boston Herald September 7, 2004 and Associated Press September 7, 2004)
Of Nationalism and Internationalism
Mother Davis wraps her little finger in a corner of a flag as she muses,
One of the main reasons that progressives say that they look forward to an end of the Bush Presidency is that George W. Bush and his Republican followers have neglected international relations for the sake of short-sighted national goals. Progressives complain that the American government needs a more internationalist focus to its policies.
It's frightening that progressives have to make this complaint. After all, if Bush and his crew are dedicated to an anti-internationalist agenda, well, what does that make them? It makes them nationalists, that's what. Republican Nationalism is a dangerous ideology that identifies the interests of United States conservatives as the only thing that really matters. Like German, Italian, and Japanese nationalism, American Republican Nationalism is a fiercely militaristic ideology that regards civil liberties and democratic processes as dangerous barriers to progress.
The nationalism of the Republican Party was well demonstrated at the close of the Republican National Convention, when the attendees all chanted in unison, "USA! USA! USA!" for minutes on end. No one ever bothered to explain the values that would lead the Republicans would chant "USA" over and over again - to them, the value of the nation is there regardless of the actual character of the nation. This chant revealed the way that the Republican Party places the power of nationalism above all other values. Outside the convention hall, protesters chanted to express their ideals - they chanted for peace, for fairness, and for liberty. Their chants were not against the USA, but they focused on the greater good that transcends national power. The Republicans' chant, in contrast, seemed like the selfish demand of a child who refuses to recognize anyone else's needs - a frightening vision to the world beyond America's borders.
The internationalism of the progressive movement is interested in building cooperation between nations in a way that benefits the entire world. The idea behind internationalism is that conflict between nations destroys resources that might otherwise be used for progress. Whereas nationalism attempts to secure power for one nation through domination of other nations, internationalism envisions a global community in which the principles of democracy guide relations. Internationalism also values the rights of individuals over the rights of nations, or other large organizations such as corporations. Nationalism thrives on the centralization of power in national governments and huge corporations tightly linked with those governments.
We progressives can agree: Internationalism, good. Nationalism, bad.
Now - how can we as progressives outside this government work on our own to promote the internationalist vision within the United States and abroad?
Scratching her chin,
Ashcroft's Plan: Concentration Camps for Citizens
Monday, September 06, 2004
While the press focuses on Bush and Kerry's irrelevant debate over Vietnam service, they've let more recent history fall through the cracks:
In August of 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft disclosed a Bush Administration plan in which United States citizens would be declared "enemy combatants," stripped of their constitutional rights, denied access to courts, and jailed indefinitely in special camps -- all without a trial, the right to dispute the Bush Administration's action, or even any charges.
The U.S. Constitution forbids such actions, of course, but that isn't stopping the Bush administration from pursuing their crusade against evildoers, constitutions and citizens be damned. This election is not about what Bush and Kerry did thirty years ago; it's about what Bush and his administration are trying to do now. This November is the time to ask: when will they come for you? (Source: Los Angeles Times August 14, 2002)
Americans Killed In Iraq - Politicians Talk Vietnam
An update - yesterday, 7 American soldiers were killed and many more seriously injured by a car bomb in Iraq. So remember this piece of wisdom from George W. Bush and John Kerry: This election is about Vietnam!
There's service and then there's soivice. We're being missoived
The Republicans are criticizing John Kerry because of unproven claims by political enemies that when he rescued his fellow soldiers, ran into the jungles of Vietnam to hunt down Viet Cong fighters single-handedly, and got injured in combat that some of the precise details of the reports related to these incidents might have been slightly incorrect.
At the same time, the records show that George W. Bush went AWOL. That is to say that while he was supposed to be defending Alabama from Mississippi with a cushy assignment secured for him by his daddy, Bush failed to show up for drills 5 months straight! Now it turns out that the records of the counseling that Bush received as a result have gone strangely missing, but the records clearly show this 5 months of failing to show up for duty.
You know, this all happened over 30 years ago, and I can tell you from personal experience that what a man does when he is young does not very accurately reflect what he is capable of when he is older.
What bothers me most is that the Bush and Kerry campaigns have both made fighting the Vietnam war all over again the main issue of this election. This is the case because both Bush and Kerry have showed just plain awful leadership with the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Bush and Kerry know that they don't have to address the actual needs of our nation in the present day - they just have to give voters an excuse to tune out the real issues.
So, yes, the Bush team has been despicable in its use of Vietnam War revisionists to attack Kerry. However, John Kerry was wrong to bring the issue of Vietnam up in the first place. At a time when America is profoundly divided, it's not a good idea to stir up even more smoldering animosities. What's next - are we going to replay the Civil War?
Actually, if you look at the maps of red states and blue states, it kind of looks that way, doesn't it? That's a sign of poor leadership: America needs to move beyond the bigotry and provincialism of the secessionist South and the segregationism of the 20th Century. Most American voters are all too happy to sink back into that ignorance, when given the chance.
George W. Bush is not the wrong man to be sitting in the Oval Office because of his avoidance of duty in Vietnam. John Kerry is not the right man for the White House because of his Vietnam service either.
Listen to the half-million peaceful Americans who marched in the streets of New York City: They weren't talking about Vietnam. They were talking about Iraq, the economy, and the erosion of our constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms. Pay attention to the lack of any similar groundswell from American conservatives.
We're being spun silly in this election, so dizzy that the real issues of the day are being lost, and both campaigns are to blame.
Run Away! Expats Get Honest in Sark
So, as the election nears, and it looks like George W. Bush just might pull off a re-election, some progressive Americans are wondering what the heck they're going to do in case of a Bush/Cheney victory.
I've heard some progressive Americans discuss plans to move to Canada, or Sweden. Well, we've heard those ideas for a long, long time. Where is the progressive who wants to be original to flee to?
We suggest the Island of Sark - the smallest of the Channel Islands (between England and France), and among the smallest of independent nations. Why Sark? Well, Sark lets you have the lack of democracy that's emerging in America, but on a much smaller, friendlier scale.
Sark is the world's oldest Feudal nation - a place to provide progressive Americans with plenty of insight into the future of America under Bush. It also, for a long period of its history, supported itself through legalized piracy - an excellent parallel to the predations of corporations on the American public under Bush and Cheney.
Well, it's your own flight from lunacy, and you can go wherever you like, but the fact is that it's getting hard to find any corner of the world free from the crooked hand of the Bushes. We count Sark as one of the last places on Earth Bush will send his Homeland Security goons to flush out evildoers.
So, if Election Day goes Bush's way, we suggest running away to Sark, to delay the inevitable.
The Cowards! Bush Administration Announces Medicare Fiasco on a Friday Afternoon
Sunday, September 05, 2004
The Bush Administration plans to raise Medicare premiums by a whopping 17.5% in 2005. The cowards announced this plan in a news conference on the Friday afternoon before Labor Day, hoping that nobody would notice. (Source: Washington Post September 4, 2004)
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