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.
Are Americans Looking for Death?
Saturday, September 18, 2004
Mother Davis gazes at the skull of Yorick as she ponders,
There's a fascinating pair of stories in the news today:
1. The death toll in Iraq is rising sharply, with suicide car bombings killing scores of people
2. George W. Bush, who came up with the whole idea of sending young Americans to Iraq in the first place, is enjoying a widening lead in the polls over his opponent, John Kerry.
At first thought, this combination of stories seems crazy. How could an increasing number of the American people support George W. Bush, even as Bush's war in Iraq is descending deeper and deeper into disaster.
But then, I thought, I'm presuming that most Americans share my opinion that when a whole lot of people die as the result of Bush's war in Iraq, it's a sign that the war is going badly. My assumption has been that the American people don't like it when people get killed because of their government's actions.
I think I've been wrong about that.
The convergence of increasing mayhem in the war in Iraq and Bush's positive polling suggests that a large number of American people think that it's a good thing when lots of people get killed in war. Unlike the progressive people that I know, it appears that the rest of America gets some kind of satisfaction out of seeing America involved in a bloodbath, and would like to see some more blood over the next four years.
Certainly, not all Americans are lovers of mayhem and violence. After all, half a million Americans marched in New York City last month to protest Bush's violent reign. However, it appears that enough Americans really do get a kick out of feeling part of a chaotic war to increase Bush's approval ratings now that Iraq seems headed for years and years of civil war, with American soldiers in the midst of it all.
Wondering if there's any way to give pro-violence Americans their own country so that the rest of us can live in peace and security,
Illegal Wars - How Is War Ever Legal?
Friday, September 17, 2004
At first, my reaction to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan's declaration was purely enthusiastic. Annan had declared Bush's invasion of Iraq last year to be "illegal". Wasn't this a vindication of what the anti-war activists had been saying for so long?
Well, I thought about it, and the more I thought about it, the answer seems to be: Kinda.
The global situation is this: The only attempt to establish a permanent international court was rendered limp by George W. Bush's declaration that the court had jurisdiction over the entire world except for the United States of America. Bush has unilaterally declared the Geneva Conventions to be purely voluntary, and only for use during wars that don't get people riled up very much. The power United Nations is rejected by the very country that hosts it, turning the UN into a sometime puppet of the President of the United States. We've seen unprovoked wars break destroy sovereignty, the historical basis of law.
How, in this situation, can any war be considered legal? What international laws are left? The idea of international law has become something to be used at the convenience of the United States when it is in the mood for a show trial. Law that does not apply to all is no law at all.
And so, can the illegal war against Iraq ever lead to punishment in a court of law? When there are no legal consequences to breaking the law, no law exists.
George W. Bush's certain immunity from any considerations of a war crimes trial proves only that the international realm is lawless in the face of American Empire. Kofi Annan is no more the sheriff than Hamid Karzai is the President of Afghanistan.
Bush Caught in Another Big Lie
Over the last few weeks, George W. Bush has been telling Americans that the war in Iraq is going very well, and that the cause of democracy in Iraq is advancing strongly. Bush's spokespeople have insisted that even though things seem bad on TV, that's just because the American media isn't showing the whole story of progress in Iraq.
All this time, George W. Bush and his aides have had in their hands a special report, a National Intelligence Estimate, that says that the situation in Iraq is very, very bad. Specifically, the National Intelligence Estimate states that there are three possibilities for Iraq's future:
Notice: A stable, democratic government that will serve as an example for other nations in the Middle East is not one of these possibilities. Yet, Bush has been telling the American people that Iraq is moving just swimmingly on such a path. In fact, the National Intelligence Estimate describes Iraq as moving toward the worst of the three possibilities: Open civil war.
Bush knew. Bush knew that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating, yet he kept the National Intelligence Estimate secret. Bush never let the American people know how that war in Iraq is really going. He just told us what he wanted us to believe.
George W. Bush told the American people the opposite of what he knew to be true.
That's a lie, one more lie to put on the big pile of lies Bush has been collecting ever since he seized office in 2000.
Help Environmental Defense - Limited Extra OOMPH
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
This morning, I'm making a special appeal to our progressive readers on behalf of Environmental Defense.
Environmental Defense is one of America's strongest environmentalist action groups, running lots of great programs like:
The reason I'm bringing this up now is that Environmental Defense has a special matching funds campaign that's only running until the end of September. That means that any donation you make to Environmental Defense will be doubled.
You can participate in this matching fund program online, or by calling 1-800-684-3322.
With just weeks to go, and Bush ahead, we need to think beyond the election, and start building up good non-governmental programs like those put together by Environmental Defense. What the feds won't do, we've got to do for ourselves.
Bush Can't Handle You Knowing the Truth
Reason #1612 to Boot Bush:
Remember how the Bush Administration told us its medicare bill would cost $400 Billion, while it turned out that it was hiding the true cost of over $500 Billion from not only the American public but the United States Congress? Well, just wait -it gets better.
Now it turns out that the Bush Administration has been hiding a finding that in 2006, a typical 65-year-old will be spending 37% of his or her Social Security income on Medicare -- a steep rise from this year's 20%. The Bush Administration not only can't handle the truth, it can't handle you knowing the truth. (Source: Washington Post September 15, 2004)
1,604 Reasons to Boot Bush - 400 to go!
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Over a year ago, we promised that we'd find at least 2,004 reasons to boot Bush, and that we'd do so before Election Day 2004.
Well, there's now just a month and a half to go, and as of today we have compiled 1,604 reasons to vote against Bush this November. That means we've got 400 to go, and so the drama is mounting - remember that James has promised to eat his hat, yes to literally eat his hat, if we don't reach 2,004 by Election Day.
Ingratitude to Fishery Observers
Mr. Bush ought to pay more attention to what he catches when he goes fishing. Bush likes to take a lot of time away from his duties as President to do some recreational fishing. Among the fish that he's caught is the striped bass.
Now, why is Mr. Bush able to catch a striped bass? He can catch the fish for fun because of the work of fishery observers, who make sure that big commercial fishing operations stop the practice of catching and then discarding huge amounts of striped bass in order to get a small number of the more financially lucrative cod, haddock and flounder. Just a few years ago, striped bass were at record low levels. Thanks to fishery observers and other conservation efforts, the striped bass have made a modest recovery in their population.
Although these fishery observers have ensured that pleasure boating folks like Bush have the opportunity to play at Old Man and the Sea and catch striped bass for fun, when Bush goes back to Washington D.C., he shows nothing but ingratitude. Bush has asked Congress to cut the funding for fishery observers in 2005.
Another Reason to Boot Bush: Slipping Mutely Away From Democracy
Another Reason to Boot Bush: On September 13, 2004 Vladimir Putin announced that Russia's regional governors would be appointed rather than elected, and that candidates could only run for election to the Duma (Russia's parliament) if they were affiliated with one of the national parties, which Putin controls. The latter move would prevent half of the current membership of the Duma from legally running for election.
In short, Putin announced the shuttering of Russia's democratic experiment.
You'd think that a democracy-loving American government would have a problem with this development. But George W. Bush made no remarks whatsoever on the subject that day or the next. And when asked about developments in Russia on September 14, Dick Cheney declined to make any statement disparaging Russia's move away from democracy, other than to say that "President Putin and President Bush have a good relationship."
Our nation and the world deserve more than an administration that stands mutely by as democracy slips away. (Sources: New York Times September 14, 2004; Remarks of Vice President in Ottumwa, Iowa on September 14, 2004)
News - From Bad to Worse - and a Good but Painful Book
A couple of items from recent news:
Also from Seymour Hersh's book: According a CIA analyst who issued a report to Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice, American soldiers refused to let prisoners in Guantanamo Bay out of their cages for such long periods of time that prisoners were found dazed, lying in their own shit. Furthermore, prisoners were often put in straitjackets, with hoods over their heads, and left out in the tropical sun for long periods of time, to bake. That's not just mean. That's a special perverted kind of mean.
Forest Service Employees Revolt from Party Line
Monday, September 13, 2004
Under George W. Bush, the Forest Service is falling apart at the seams. Mismanagement and ideology have come to dominate the Republican controlled bureaucracy, preventing the Forest Service from adapting to the changes in science and culture that have long since changed its mission. Our National Forests are at risk of being ravaged by a conservative opportunism that regards wilderness more as a sadly underexploited corporate asset than a shared property of the American people that needs protection and rational management in order to be used appropriately for generations to come.
Our natural heritage is at stake, and so it was with great joy yesterday that I was introduced to an organization that is trying to do something about the disastrous Bush Forest Service: Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics takes the Republican elite's political scheming out of the equation and examines the needs of America's public lands according to a combination of the needs of the American people and the lands themselves. In a time when Republicans are attacking science at every opportunity, The FSEEE seeks to return science to the government's forest management programs.
They need our support - at the ballot box and in the government's public comment procedures. The best way to become informed about the emerging crisis of the mismanagement of our public lands is to visit the FSEEE's web site, or pick up their publication, Forest Magazine - and read.
If you care at all about America's natural heritage, you'll be shocked at what you find out.
Insurgency, Bricks and Water in Iraq
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Observe, as I do not mention anything about the Vietnam War...
... Okay then. An Internet aquaintance named Stove pointed out that the newest wave of violence in Iraq, although different in character from the seige of Najaf, is really something like a redirection of the rebellion there. The insurgents were asked by the United States to leave Najaf, so they did, and went to Baghdad, to attack people there instead. Is this progress?
It occurs to me that the insurgency in Iraq is like water, and Bush is trying to take it apart brick by brick.
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