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.
Two Vehicles, Two Visions
Saturday, October 02, 2004
As a part of the presidential campaign of 2004, two vehicles are driving around the country to spread two very different political messages. The Republicans are driving a lumbering 80,000 pound truck, spewing huge amounts of poison into the air as it moves down the road under the control of a paid driver. Following the Republican's behemoth is the other car, a small, swift, agile, clean hybrid car driven by volunteers from the Sierra Student Coalition.
These two vehicles represent two visions for America. Bush's vision for America promotes the interests of big powerhouses motivated by the pursuit of money, and spreading poison into the environment along the way. The resistance to Bush, on the other hand, believes in grassroots action that involves people who are motivated by deep ethical principles, for the good of all Americans. I know which vision I'll pick on Election Day.
The Bush Administration Knew Evidence Was Bogus in 2001
According to a brand-new New York Times investigation, members of the Bush Administration all the way up to Condoleeza Rice knew as early as 2001 that the government's own top nuclear experts had judged that aluminum tubes purchased by Saddam Hussein were NOT centrifuges for refining fissible materials, but parts of small artillery rockets.
If Condoleeza Rice did her job, Bush knew this too.
Yet members of the Bush administration continued to scream at the American public that they had "irrefutable evidence" that the tubes were for making nuclear bombs.
Read the article here for yourself.
Bush's Faces of Frustration
Friday, October 01, 2004
Debate Video: Bush's Faces of Frustration (broadband) (dial-up)
Mistaken, Mistaken, Mistaken Again
Does Bush learn from his mistakes? In his first debate with John Kerry on September 30 2004, George W. Bush refused to correct his error from earlier in the week, when he erroneously asserted that 100,000 Iraqi soldiers, police and security officers had been trained. As a number of media outlets reported, the actual number is only 22,700. Instead of acknowledging his error, he repeated it:
"Let me first tell you that the best way for Iraq to be safe and secure is for Iraqi citizens to be trained to do the job. And that‘s what we‘re doing. We‘ve got 100,000 trained now."
It was wrong when he said it earlier in that week, and it was wrong when he said it in the debate. We need a president who learns from his mistakes. George W. Bush doesn't even seem to recognize them.
Lest you think Mr. Bush simply misspoke, minutes later he repeated the claim:
"There are 100,000 troops trained, police, guard, special units, border patrol. "
Bush didn't merely slip up: it appears he wrote a glaring factual error, off by an entire order of magnitude, into his talking points. Well, either he wrote it or his handlers wrote it. Which is the worse possibility: that he knowingly rattled off and repeated facts he knew weren't true (they call that a "lie" where I come from), or that he rattled off talking points that he knew nothing about the veracity of, prepared by a handler who knew they weren't true? Neither possibility is heartening.
(Source: Transcript of John Kerry / George W. Bush Debate of September 30, 2004)
The Gentleman and The "Gentleman's 'C' "
The bar for President Bush was low going into last night's foreign policy debate. It's no secret that a great orator, he is not.
Yet, Bush's performance in allegedly his strongest subject, warrants below a "gentleman's C." It was nothing short of dis-graceful. He did not meet observers' low expectations, he fell short of them.
Conservative talking heads are already calling Bush's performance "strong" and "resolute." They are even awarding Bush "style points." These pundits must have been distracted during the debate, for no other reasonable explanation can be offered for their assessment.
Senator Kerry won the foreign policy debate, period.
Kerry displayed a depth of knowledge about foreign policy situations in Russia, North Korea, Iran, Sudan, and of course, Iraq and Afgansitan.
He clearly outlined a four-point strategy for the situation in Iraq.
He concisely explained his so-called flip-flopping about Iraq, explaining that it was not the war itself, but the conditions that President Bush failed to meet before going to war (such as coalition building and using military force as a last resort), that made Kerry apprehensive about the war's course.
As far as style points, viewers can award points to Kerry as well, for his professionalism, poise, and sturdiness.
I watched the debate expecting Kerry to be put on guard. I expected not great oration, but certainly more than warmed-over platitudes from Mr. Bush. In short, I am relieved to have watched the debate as a primary listener, having now made up my own mind, without being spoon-fed bogus talking points from either political side.
Kerry is winning in follow-up media coverage
John Kerry is clearly winning the post-debate struggle for media coverage.
An objective measure of Kerry's commanding impact: In the top search page of news articles available on news.google.com, most of the headlines are neutral, but on John Kerry's message is contained in any of the headlines. George W. Bush's messages are not represented at all in any of the headlines. Already it appears that the news of the night is the strong challenge that John Kerry delivered to George W. Bush. Bush's messages failed to get through.
Thursday, September 30, 2004
Color me shocked.
Before tonight's debate, I expected to see nothing more than a set of highly rehearsed speeches and a tightly leashed news media following the strict rules defining the event set by the Bush campaign.
What I saw was the collection of news organizations supervising the debate finally stand up and refuse to shoulder the yoke of Bush's media control team any longer. Jim Lehrer actually facilitated a debate, in which the candidates were allowed to respond to each other. The camera crew showed us the reactions of both candidates while they were listening to the each other's ideas.
I watched in shock as I saw Bush blink.
This is the one assessment of the debate that will stay in my memory for the rest of my life: Tonight was the night that Bush blinked.
How many times per minute did Bush blink? 20, 30 times? Bush scowled, he frowned, he bobbed his head and sucked in air painfully from the side of his mouth, but most of all, he blinked.
Psychologists tell us that rapid blinking is an uncontrollable sign of two things: Nervousness and deception. Bush was either afraid of John Kerry, or he was lying through his teeth. The only alternative is that both of these things are true: Bush was nervous because he was lying.
That Bush gave such an anxious, frightened performance is shocking, given the circumstances. George W. Bush spent an entire week preparing for this debate, and yet he came away looking defensive, evasive and powerfully ill-informed.
It seemed that Bush had only a handful of phrases memorized in order to justify the many disasters of the Republican foreign policy, and he was forced to use those phrases over and over and over again, stammering and struggling to look at his notes in a desperate attempt to compete with John Kerry's strong presence on stage.
In contrast to Bush's weak desperation, Senator John Kerry stood tall and did not waver. John Kerry did not blink.
John Kerry showed a command of the facts, and a command of his own mind.
Before tonight's debate, I thought that a Bush victory was almost certain. After seeing Bush's retreat in the presence of John Kerry's challenge, I have new hope.
If America was watching tonight, we will have John Kerry as our president next year. Let's hope that America was not tuned in to re-runs of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.
Bush: Lip-Smacking, Eye-Rolling Weird Act
While John Kerry listens to his opponent tonight, I notice George W. Bush is either paging through his book of ready-prepared notes, or rolling his eyes and smacking his lips. Kerry is coming across as eminently reasonable, while Bush is coming across as arrogant, programmed and strangely out of it.
Bush: The Candidate Clueless Pickers Pick
George W. Bush said it! "It's important that we train Iraqi troops. There are nearly 100,000 troops trained. The Afghan national army is a part of the army. By the way -- it's the Afghan national army that went into Najaf and did the work there."
Even ignoring the whole "nearly 100,000 troops trained" fib (as we've noted before, the actual number is many times smaller), the whole Afghan army in Iraq thing makes me slam my head against the refrigerator and say "BWAH-HUH?" How can Americans stand to have such an ill-informed twit as a President?
Yes, how indeed can Americans stand to have such an ill-informed twit as a President? Well, of course the answer to that question is that not all of us can. A lot of us are Kerry supporters. But yes, there are a fair number of Bush supporters out there, too. What differentiates the Bush supporter and the Kerry supporter?
The Program on International Policy Attitudes at the School of Public Affairs of the University of Maryland has been asking that question, too. They conducted a research study with a representative sample of Americans to find out. Their answer: Bush supporters don't know what their own candidate's positions are.
That's right. On issue after issue, majorities of Bush supporters get their own favorite candidate's policies wrong. Not just kind of wrong, not just sort of wrong, but the really wrong, wrong, dead wrong, opposite direction from right kind of wrong. For instance, only 44% of Bush supporters were aware that Bush wants to build an anti-missile system in the United States now (one that, by the way, doesn't work). 51% of Bush supporters think that Bush supports the Kyoto accord to combat global warming (he doesn't). 66% of Bush supporters think Bush supports the existence of the International Criminal Court (he doesn't). 69% of Bush supporters think Bush supports U.S. participation in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (he doesn't). 72% of Bush supporters think Bush supports a ban on land mines (he doesn't). A whopping 84% of Bush supporters think Bush supports the inclusion of labor and environmental standards in trade pacts (he doesn't).
Meanwhile, on issue after issue majorities of Kerry supporters are able to correctly identify Kerry's positions on these same issues.
In short, large majorities of Bush supporters are either willfully or passively ignorant about the world around them and exactly how their candidate would deal with it. Kerry supporters, on the other hand, seem to know what their candidate is talking about. Doesn't it seem like a good idea to go with the people who have a clue? (Sources: Program on International Policy Attitudes September 29, 2004; George W. Bush Press Conference, September 23, 2004)
Reason 1,810 to Boot Bush
Reason 1,810 to Boot Bush:
While campaigning in 2000, George W. Bush argued against electing Al Gore president: "The vice president seems to have forgotten who's been in office
for seven years. This is the administration that's been in charge, and the price of gasoline has gone steadily upward."
In 2004, the cost of gasoline in America reached record highs. In September 2004 the price of crude oil broke $50/barrel for the first time in history. If we take what Bush says seriously, it's time for a new president. Well, now that I mention it, if we don't take what Bush says seriously, then it's time for a new president, too. (Source: Los Angeles Times July 1, 2000)
Reason 1,804 to Boot Bush: Pentgagon Corrpution Revealed
As of this morning, we've passed another milestone in our effort to compile a list of 2,004 reasons to vote against Bush. We gave ourselves the deadline of Election Day, and one of us promised to eat his hat, literally, if we are unable to do so. We added the 1,804th reason just this morning, meaning that we have just 200 more reasons to go.
We've been surprised to find that the real challenge in this effort has been catching all the reasons that Bush gives us. There are so many that we can't possibly record them all - it's like rain falling from the sky. Our most recent addition to the list comes from an important report just released by the Center for Public Integrity, entitled, Outsourcing the Pentagon. There's a great amount of information in the report about the extent of Pentagon corrpution under the watch of George W. Bush
Reason 1,804 to Boot Bush:
Approximately half of the Pentagon budget now goes to private corporations. There are tens of thousands of private corporations that get money from the military budget, but the top 50 of these corporate contractors get over half of the money. These top 50 corporate contractors are also the most likely to get military contracts without having to bother submitting bids against any competitors.
Now, guess which politician is the top recipient of donations from these top military contractors. That's right - it's George W. Bush.
If this corrupt system continues under George W. Bush, the American democracy may not survive.
Boycott for Equality Approaches - October 8
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
I just got off the telephone with one of the leaders of Boycott for Equality - an effort to demonstrate the strength of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transexual Americans, as well as their heterosexual allies. The Bush Administration and the Republican elites in Washington D.C. are doing their best to distract voters from the disasters created by the conservative policies of the last four years, and they're scapegoating the most socially vulnerable groups in our nation to do it.
The Boycott for Equality asks all Americans who believe in equal rights regardless of sexual orientation to drop out of the economy for just one day - October 8.
We'll put up a transcript of our conversation with the Boycott for Equality organization in a day or two, but in the meantime, please visit the group's web site to find out what they're all about, and see how you can help.
2 new wars to come? The Pentagon is planning...
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
What with the disaster of Iraq, and the fumbled disintegration of Afghanistan, we figured that even the Bush Administration would be unable to seriously consider starting any new wars. We were wrong.
Newsweek reports that the hardliners in the Bush Administration are regaining their power, and ordering the Pentagon to develop plans for invasions of Iran and Syria. Get out your map now, and look at what would be the result: American occupation of a huge stretch of hostile territory, from west to east going through Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. Who the heck said that Bush wasn't interested in building up an empire?
Even if these wars never come to pass, it's terrifying that the Bush Administration is so out of touch with reality that its most powerful members would even consider a follow-up to the chaotic occupation of Iraq.
Origins On PBS Tonight: Scientific Sense About Life's Beginning
If you're as sick as I am of the desperate conservative evangelical attempts to replace the science of biology with the religion of Christian Creationism, then you'll appreciate what's on PBS tonight. A four part series of programs called Origins explores the real science behind the origin of life on Earth, and the possibilities of life elsewhere throughout the Cosmos.
There's no faith-based mumbo-jumbo on this show, just discussion of the facts and their implications. At a time when it's hard to get good information even in public schools, when school boards are attempting to censor the ideas at the center of the science of biology, and when disinformation from anti-science religious groups crowds out reason from the White House on down, a television series of this kind is needed, and much appreciated.
Grab your whole family, turn off the sit coms, and tune in to PBS tonight. If you've got questions about the science, there's a great web site to accompany the show - where you can order the series on DVD as well. Tune in for TV that encourages you to think - how rare!
An Update on Selfish Hedonism
A few weeks ago, Alan Keyes, the Republican candidate to compete with Barack Obama, called gays and lesbians "selfish hedonists". What Keyes didn't tell anyone is that his own daughter is a lesbian herself, and works for his campaign.
Keyes, like so many other Republicans, is keen on double standards. He promotes one standard for his own family, but then seeks to enforce a second, stricter standard on everybody else.
To the young Ms. Keyes, we say this: Good for you for coming out of the closet all on your own. Shame on you for working to support a candidate who promises to cut back on the freedom of people like yourself to live in peace. Your daddy insults you in public and praises you in private. Is that the kind of politician America ought to have in the United States Senate?
A vote for fiscal responsibility: Pay As You Go, Congress!
The Democrats in Congress have developed a "pay as you go" enforcement system for the federal government's budget. This system would require that tax cuts and spending items be paid fore without increasing the budget deficit. The Republicans in Congress have no such system, and have no plans to develop one. George W. Bush supports the congressional Republicans in this lack of accountability, and even encourages them when he asks for big increases in spending and big revenue decreases at the same time.
It almost seems that the Republicans are trying to bankrupt the United States of America. Hmmm....
George Wacko Bush Insists Iraq is All Taken Care Of
Monday, September 27, 2004
This weekend, when George W. Bush asked by a reporter if he would still declare "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq like he did a year and a half ago, knowing what he knows now, Bush said that yes, he would.
Here you have it: Bush actually believes that the work in Iraq was all "accomplished" a year and a half ago.
So, um, Mr. Bush - if the mission was accomplished 18 months ago, how come we've still got most of the U.S. military fighting just to hold on in Iraq?
And why is it, Mr. Bush, if the mission in Iraq is long since accomplished, that you've let hundreds more American soldiers die there? Is that your way of supporting the troops?
I'm just curious, Mr. President sir - mighty curious.
Think the Environment Doesn't Matter?
Think that the environment doesn't matter to you? A recent report by the National Cancer Institute reveals that at least 80 percent of all cases of cancer are related to environmental causes. Carcinogens kill huge numbers of people every year, but George W. Bush hasn't lifted a finger to address the problem because he believes that the environment just isn't an important political issue.
Bush's indifference to the environment also explains how he could have been so careless as to forget our 40th anniversary. No, it's not a wedding anniversary - it's an environmental anniversary.
40 years ago, on September 3rd, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law. The Wilderness Act protects over 100 million acres in 46 states, and includes protection of roadless areas.
Not only did Bush forget to celebrate this anniversary of the Wildnerness Act, he decided to screw around on the law, thinking that he wouldn't get caught. Bush has been trying to get roads for loggers and miners built into roadless areas like those protected under the Wilderness Act.
George W. Bush: Caught in yet another act of environmental infidelity.
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