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.
George W. Bush admits that US is planning a draft
Saturday, October 16, 2004
Call it a slip of the tongue if you like, but George W. Bush said it today:
"After standing on the stage, after the debates, I made it very plain we will not have an all-volunteer army."
The weird priorities of outrage
Alan Keyes insults Mary Cheney for being a lesbian, calling her a "sinner" and a "selfish hedonist." Republicans are silent, refusing to defend her.
John Kerry merely points out that Mary Cheney is a lesbian, and Republicans are outraged.
It's not really a surprise, just a confirmation that the Republican Party is only comfortable discussing gays and lesbians when it is attacking them.
Support the Troops For Real
Mother Davis picks up the telephone as she notes,
There's been a lot of empty talk about supporting the troops over the last couple years. Most of it has been nothing but empty talk and little ribbon. Real support has been sorely lacking.
Well, now is the time when the troops need some real support. Yesterday, a platoon of Army reservists were ordered to go on what they call "a suicide mission". They were told to take unarmored tankers filled with explosive fuel through a neighborhood filled with enemy insurgents. They were given almost no armed escort for the trip.
Why was the trip so important? Members of the army reserve unit are not sure, because the fuel was contaminated, rendering it useless. They say that their commanders knew of the contamination, but ordered them into harm's way anyway.
So, the entire platoon disobeyed orders and refused to go.
Now, the platoon is being held prisoner by the Army, in a tent in the desert. They are being refused the right to sleep, and are being interrogated - as the New York Daily News puts it, "treated like captured Iraqi insurgents".
The Army has stopped even allowing the reservists to use telephones, although one member of the platoon, Amber McClenny, was able to sneak in one telephone call to her mother. McClenny asked her mother to call her representative in Congress and "raise pure hell".
So, here's the support the troops part.
These troops have been given unarmored vehicles, contaminated fuel, and inadequate armed escort on their mission. They are now accused of mutiny, and are being subjected military "justice". Frankly, I don't think that's good enough. What this situation calls for is an independent, non-military investigation of all parties involved - both officers and enlisted soldiers.
If you really support the troops, I'm asking you to do what Amber McClenny asked her mother to do. Call your representative in Congress and "raise pure hell". The American people deserve to know the whole truth about what went on yesterday in Iraq.
You'll find your own representative's phone number at Congress.Org
Dialing the number,
Republican Steve LaTourette Caught in Sexual Hypocrisy
Friday, October 15, 2004
Oh, it seems like ages ago now that Ohio Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette was screaming demands for judgment against politicians who dared to cheat on their wives.
Just a few years ago, Congressman LaTourette voted to impeach Bill Clinton for having oral sex with Monica Lewinsky. LaTourette used the Clinton impeachment scandal for the sake of his own political advantage, taking out huge newspaper advertisements condemning President Bill Clinton for having extramarital sex.
So, we're amused to find out today that LaTourette, who had promoted himself as Mr. Morality, is complaining about having been discovered having out-of-wedlock sex with a prominent Washington D.C. lobbyist who used to be his employee. What's more, it appears that Congressman LaTourette was having sex with this lobbyist well before he filed for divorce from his wife. Yes, that's right - Congressman Steve LaTourette was doing just what he blasted Bill Clinton for doing: cheating on his wife with a female employee.
Mr. LaTourette, a few years ago you tried to take down the American government over a matter such as this. You threw the first stone, Mr. LaTourette, so now please don't complain when you find that your own glass house has shattered to pieces.
More Republicans Caught Using Communications Devices at Debates
There's a strange trend in the Republican Party these days: More and more, Republicans are being caught at cheating in debates. The story about George W. Bush's mysterious hidden devices revealed in photographs during his 1st and third presidential debates against Senator John Kerry has received a great deal of attention. Photographs such as the one to the right reveal the presence of strange boxy devices under Bush's jacket on his shoulder blades, along with conspicuous lines that appear to descend all the way to his belt line.
Just what is that odd shape under Bush's jacket? Notice that there is no equivalent on Senator John Kerry's back, which always appeared natural and smooth. It's odd that Bush's team decided to fit their candidate with the same device that was used during the first debate, even after the American public had demanded to know just what the Bush campaign had put under Bush's jacket the first time around. Bush's public relations team has acknowledged the controversy over what Bush was hiding, but has refused to explain what they were hiding under Bush's clothing.
Another story that has received less attention is that of Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning, who is struggling to fend off a strong challenge from Democrat Dan Mongianardo. Senator Bunning's behavior has become increasingly erratic over the last few weeks, to the extent that many Kentuckians are openly questioning his mental stability. Bunning has insulted Mongianardo for being of Italian descent, suggesting that all Italians look like they could be sons of Saddam Hussein. Bunning announced that he had won the endorsement of a labor union, when in fact, the labor union had not endorsed him at all. In a show of increasing paranoia, Bunning dramatically increased his staff of bodyguards, pushing away even the most avid supporters at campaign events.
Then, most strangely of all, Senator Jim Bunning tried to pull out of a debate against Dan Mongiarnardo. At the last minute, Bunning announced that he could not attend the debate because of an important vote in the United States Senate. Records show, however, that there were no votes, scheduled or unscheduled, in the United States Senate at that time. It appears that Bunning just made it all up.
Under pressure, Senator Bunning finally agreed that he would participate in the debate, but from a remote location. However, it appears that the remote location was rigged to help Senator Bunning cheat in the debate. Bunning used teleprompters that were hidden off-screen to read from. Dan Mongianardo stood by the rules, showed up to the original location, and used no surreptitious communications devices. Senator Bunning has since admitted that he used his remote location to get around the rules, but insists that there's nothing wrong with that.
How many other cases of Republican politicians using secret communications devices during debates exist? We can't say for sure, due to the attempt of the Republican Party to hide the devices from public view. We can identify a trend when we see it, though - the Republicans are alone in their use of such secret communications. No Democratic politicians have even been accused of such malfeasance.
As If We Really Needed Another Reason to Not Vote For Nader...
Thursday, October 14, 2004
For those of you who are sticking to the "I'm voting for Ralph Nader because his campaign represents my ideals" line, consider this from the New York Times:
A Pennsylvania court struck Ralph Nader's name from the state's ballot yesterday,
Wait before you trot out the "See, it's a conspiracy against true democracy!" line, there's more:
declaring that nearly two-thirds of the signatures on his nominating petitions were invalid or had been forged in what the court called an unparalleled case of election fraud.
Yes, that's the Nader campaign alright, the one that stands on principle!
Bush's Most Telling Response
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
The most telling response of George W. Bush in the debate of Wednesday, October 13 was to the point-blank question:
Given another term, would Bush appoint judges who would overturn Roe vs. Wade?
George W. Bush refused to answer the question.
Howie Hawkins: A REAL Progressive, for a Change
We were as pleased as punch to learn of a true progressive candidate running for Congress in New York State's 25th Congressional District. The Democrats of Onondaga County, which includes the city of Syracuse, have for years failed to mount any opposition to conservative Republican incumbent James Walsh - a suspicious submission if we ever saw one.
This year, when the Democratic Party once again declined to offer a candidate for Congress, Howie Hawkins stood up and took on the challenge himself. In a remarkably short amount of time, Mr. Hawkins gathered up enough signatures on his petition to mount a challenge to Congressman James Walsh on an independent line, under the name of the Peace and Justice Party.
Hawkins is the real thing, folks! Check out the following items from his campaign platform:
- End the War in Iraq
- Cut Military Spending
- Universal Health Care
- Living Wages
- Equal Rights for Gays and Lesbians
- Progressive Tax Reform
- Repeal the Patriot Act
- Reproductive Freedom
- Support Solar and Renewable Energy
- Auditable Paper Trails for Electronic Voting Machines
This is our kind of candidate, and we're supporting the Howie Hawkins campaign all the way. However, Hawkins is fighting the big corporate backers of James Walsh's Republican Elite, and he needs all the help that he can get. We're asking all our readers to lend a hand.
Visit the Howie Hawkins for Congress website to find out more about what you can do.
Republican: Oklahoma Beset By Biblical Plague of Lesbians!
The more they open their mouths, the more Republican politicians let us see how strange their perception of the world really is.
Tom Coburn, a Republican who is running a campaign to represent Oklahoma in the United States Senate, recently told an audience that "lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they’ll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that’s happened to us?"
What now, is the Republicans' top priority after the election to rid the United States of rampant lesbianism?
Residents of southeast Oklahoma, by the way, report that they have no more lesbians than any other part of the state, or any other state in the Union. They're wondering if Tom Coburn gets his information out of the same kook's warehouse that earlier supplied George W. Bush with forged documents about yellowcake uranium in Niger.
Republican Family Values
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Running for the 29th Congressional District in New York State under the Republican "Family Values" ticket is John "Randy" Kuhl.
What kind of "Family Values" does "Randy" Kuhl have?
1. Drunk driver.
2. Aimed shotguns at his wife at a dinner party, threatening to kill her.
3. Solicited other women for sex in front of his own wife.
Hey, it becomes an issue when the GOP tries to play the "we're moraller" card.
This is another reason we can respond with a hale and hearty bullshit.
Signs on the Highway: Give you second thoughts, or a rash?
Mother Davis sticks out her thumb and asks,
What is the true impact of a roadside protest?
Tomorrow is Freeway Free Speech Day. Over one thousand activists spread across America are prepared to unfurl banners and hoist signs with messages protesting the policies of George W. Bush. The protest signs will target America's highways (freeways, as they call them in places like California - what a wonderfully Orwellian term), so that the many people driving on the biggest roads will be exposed to some grassroots, um ashpaltroots, um... some ideas displayed by ordinary Americans, not designed by big advertising firms.
The question in my mind is whether such tactics are effective. Now is as good a time as any to ask this question, because the progressive movement has done an awful lot of different kinds of protesting over the last couple of years, and the Bush Administration has not responded to those protests in any visible way at all.
I'm thinking about whether a roadside protest helps the cause, just makes drivers angry, or just doesn't have much of an effect either way. I'd love to know if there's some formal research that's been done to investigate the impact of this kind of action. It's high time that progressives get smart and start focusing on what works - not just what feels good for us.
Getting out her magic marker and ready to hear your ideas,
The Requirements of Cultural Sensitivity
Monday, October 11, 2004
Last night I had a conversation with good friends about different standards of behavior in different cultures, and it got me to thinking: what are the ethical expectations to have two people of different cultures, with different cultural standards and interpretations of behavior's meaning?
My first answer is to say that while it is helpful to understand where someone else is coming from when they do or say something, that doesn't mean you should have to tolerate it. No one can tell me I have to wear a beard or dance a certain way or put up with it when they spit in my salad. My respect for your culture ends when it starts shoving itself down my throat.
But then, on reflection, I realize that this is itself a culturally determined (my wife says "chip on your shoulder determined") response. I have no idea where that rabbit hole ends.
Bush's Anti-Science Campaign Kills
Christopher Reeve is dead, from a systemic infection that arose because of his paralysis. Reeve was thrown to the ground by a horse years ago, and broke his neck in the impact.
After his paralysis, Reeve campaigned for increased funding of stem cell research, which holds the promise of restoring nerve function in people suffering from paralysis. However, because of pressure from extreme right wing religious fundamentalists, George W. Bush decided, all on his own without any input from Congress, to refuse funding for meaningful stem cell research.
The religious case against stem cell research makes no sense, of course. As John Kerry has pointed out, no viable embryos are created or destroyed in the process. Instead, embryos left over from fertilization treatments, already scheduled for destruction, are used. Furthermore, these embryos are but days old, nothing more but non-sentient balls of cells. They have the potential to become human if allowed to develop, but they are not themselves recognizably human.
This doesn't matter to the fundamentalists, of course. For them, opposition to stem cell research is a matter of faith. Logical arguments and pleas for compassion have no effect upon them, for they believe that God himself has commanded them to oppose stem cell research.
We cannot know if Christopher Reeve's life would have been saved if George W. Bush had chosen to fund stem cell research. In the large scheme of things, Christopher Reeve's life is not really the point. There are huge numbers of people around the world suffering from paralysis, Parkinson's disease, and other neurological disorders that might be cured through stem cell therapies.
What's happening to stem cell research is happening to research in all scientific disciplines. George W. Bush is holding progress for the world hostage to the extremist beliefs of an ultraconservative religious minority, and he promises four more years of such obstruction if given another term in office. Bush has declared that help is not on the way - it must be blocked because of the fearful faith of a few.
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