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.
November 3 and Beyond: Prepare for the Contingencies
Saturday, October 23, 2004
In the year 2000, there was a difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. The Republicans didn't give a shit what others thought of them and their propriety. They just went out like gangbusters and fought and fought and fought until their guy was put in the White House. They were prepared, they invested the time and energy that it took to defend their case (however indefensible it seemed), and refused to give an inch. The Republicans sued first and laughed last.
The Democrats found themselves flat-footed and unprepared to mount an operation in support of voters, and instead acted in response to what the Republicans were doing. The Democrats worried that an open struggle over the outcome of an election would be too unseemly, and that any President who won after such a struggle would be unable to do anything of note. So the Democrats packed up and went home because they didn't want to look too pushy.
We know what happened next. This shit matters, and I don't know about you, but I am not about to trust the Democratic Party establishment to do the right thing in the days after Election Day. We've got to take on the responsibility of getting the message out ourselves.
The way I see it, we've got three possible contigencies to deal with: 1) Bush clearly wins, 2) Kerry clearly wins, and 3) It appears too close to immediately call. I shudder at thought of the first contingency, warm at thought of the second, and get riled up at thought of the third. If you've been carefully reading the news, you know that the Republican rub-out-the-vote campaign is in full gear, meaning that if it looks too close to call, the rub-out-the-vote tricks have turned a legitimate Kerry win into an apparent tie.
Whatever the circumstance that faces us on the morning of November 3, 2004, this time we have to be prepared. We cannot let the Republicans dominate the public sphere with their messages. We have to be ready that morning -- yes, that morning -- to put our own messages out, loudly and proudly.
There are lots of ways to do that: letters to the editor, calls to radio talk shows, calls to government officials, public protests where abuses merit it, and other tactics can be carried out by concerned citizens. In a small way, we're doing our part by crafting bumper stickers, buttons and t-shirts with messages to fit whatever outcome we're faced with, so that we can make the most of it.
The new Election Day and Beyond section offers a growing selection of messages to deal with whatever nastiness or good news may come our way in the next two weeks. If you want to have your bumper sticker, button or t-shirt effectively confront the election's outcome and have a say in its resolution, you'll have to make an order now.
Visit our Election Day and Beyond shop, and prepare yourself for the best and the worst.
A Choice of Values: A Pension or Big Splashy Gifts
The Republicans like to talk about values, so let's play their game for just a second, and talk about a critical choice of values made this week by the Republican elites in control in Washington D.C.. George W. Bush and the Republican Congress made the decision to find the money their huge gift of billions of dollars of taxpayers' money to big corporations (and campaign contributors). They found that money by cutting back on the pensions of federal employees.
That's right - the Republicans are finding the money to pay for their big corporate kickbacks by absolutely stopping all payments into the federal employee pension system.
So, let's talk about values, then. What kind of values allow Republican politicians to cut back money intended for old people who have been working all their lives, just in order to make extra big gifts of cash money to huge corporations that aren't even in any financial trouble?
The values shown by the Republicans through this action: Greed, corruption, cruelty, self-importance, and indifference.
Oh sure, the Republicans are the party of values. You just ought to ask what kind of values they're talking about before you sign on for their ride.
One Pro-Kerry site we will not be supporting
Friday, October 22, 2004
Having just found the limits of her partisanship, Mother Davis writes,
We get a very high number of requests for links from people who have developed very fine and very original liberal web sites. We gladly provide links from Irregular Times to most of the sites that make a request, but very occasionally we find a request that we just cannot bring ourselves to comply with.
This afternoon, for example, we have received a request for a link from a new web site calling itself Visualize Kerry President. This web site advocates that liberals like ourselves dedicate themselves to the task of meditating on the mental image of John Kerry as President. The web site actually claims that doing this kind of imagination will provide material assistance to the effort to election John Kerry President.
Oh, it sounds sweet and positive and New Age gooey and all, but in fact this web site's efforts amount to an enormous waste of time. Visualizing something does not make it happen. The Beatles' goofy experiments with the Maharishi Mahesh Yoga a generation ago proved that visualizing world peace does little more than help pop stars create a really groovy persona. Imagination is imagination, and it's fine, but it's dangerous to get mired in fantasies when reality needs so much help.
The Visualize Kerry President web site is a great example of the practical problems many visualization afficionados have. Apparently, the web site's creators have been wanting to put the site online for quite some time. They have only succeeded in doing so now, less than two weeks before the actual election.
That's not even enough time for the web site to be listed on Google's search engine, much less to build a national movement of people playing with pictures in their heads. If visualization really works, how come it took so long for these people to bring their own web site out of the visual realm and onto the world wide web?
I've learned a very important less over the last couple of years: Political success is much less a product of imagination than it is the result of organization and hard work. Success depends upon good liberals keeping their heads out of the clouds until every vote is counted.
In 2005, we can return to dreaming about what might be and visualizing whirled peas. Now is the time for everyone to pull their weight.
Visualizing herself a pepperoni pizza and remaining hungry,
Nope, No Election Fraud THIS Time! No, Sireeee!
While the 2000 Elections in Florida were marred by widespread voter fraud, we can rest assured that they've fixed everything in Florida! No voter fraud there! We're going to have a fair election, with nobody's vote surpressed or...
St Petersburg Times, October 22
Now who do low-income, minority and elderly residents vote for? And why would someone want to steal those residents' ballots?
It'll come to me in a minute. Hmmmm....
(tip o' the pen to Chicagoprogressive at DailyKos)
New Bush Haiku
We received the following new Bush haiku from Karl Simanonok this morning:
Into the Abyss
Ah, a descending spiral of doomed serenity...
Thank God for Touch Screen Voting!
In the year 2000, enough votes were miscounted to swing the election to George W. Bush.
In the 2004 election, praises be, we don't have to worry about that sort of thing. Thanks be to Jesus for the technological wizardry of touch-screen voting, which offers a new no-mistakes, error-free method of...
Now that everything's working just as it should, I'm sure we all can be confident that our votes are indeed being counted, even if we don't get a paper trail to verify that pesky computer electronicky whiz-bang equipment is doing what it's supposed to be doing. Who needs piddly things like verification? Democracy is working: my government told me so!
There's nothing to see here. Nothing to see. Move along, folks. Move along.
Big Oil Funds Global Corruption
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Who would think that the presidential election in the United States could affect internal government corruption in Nigeria? Well, I would, after reading through a new report by Transparency International about the state of corruption around the world.
The research behind the report highlights something that human rights activists have known for a long time: Money from big oil companies is the primary force behind corruption in oil-rich countries. These big oil companies, by the way, are owned and operated by the big Western powers, especially the United States.
The thing is that American law does not require these big oil corporations to reveal what kind of payments they are making to foreign governments. As a result, the bribes that fuel the corruption remain secret.
We, the American people, have the power to expose corruption to the light of day. We have the power to clean up governments around the world so that petty little dictators who get out of control do not have the resources to destroy their nations. We have the power to bring democracy and freedom to much of the world, not through bombs and bullets, but through our own honesty.
You put the oil of corruption into the tank of your car. You buy that corruption when you fill up with unleaded. You have the responsibility to do something about it.
It is no coincidence that the current President and Vice President of the United States have earned their wealth from big oil the same big oil companies that fund corruption around the world. It is also no coincidence that the President and Vice President are doing nothing to change the American laws that allow American-run companies to bribe foreign governments with impunity.
This year, our own presidential election is being watched by the entire world because the rest of the world knows that they will have to cope with the choices that Americans make. It is time for us to be responsible world citizens and stop the corruption that our wealth has bought.
Bush: Not a Member of the Reality-Based Community
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
If you haven't read Ron Suskind's article from this Sunday's New York Times Magazine, I strongly suggest you give it a gander. Even I, who decided some time ago that Bush was off his rocker, was shocked by the following disclosures:
Joe Biden was telling a story, a story about the president. ''I was in the Oval Office a few months after we swept into Baghdad,'' he began, ''and I was telling the president of my many concerns'' -- concerns about growing problems winning the peace, the explosive mix of Shiite and Sunni, the disbanding of the Iraqi Army and problems securing the oil fields. Bush, Biden recalled, just looked at him, unflappably sure that the United States was on the right course and that all was well. '''Mr. President,' I finally said, 'How can you be so sure when you know you don't know the facts?'''
As Whitman told me on the day in May 2003 that she announced her resignation as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: ''In meetings, I'd ask if there were any facts to support our case. And for that, I was accused of disloyalty!''
One congressman -- the Hungarian-born Tom Lantos, a Democrat from California and the only Holocaust survivor in Congress -- mentioned that the Scandinavian countries were viewed more positively. Lantos went on to describe for the president how the Swedish Army might be an ideal candidate to anchor a small peacekeeping force on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Sweden has a well-trained force of about 25,000. The president looked at him appraisingly, several people in the room recall.
...at the Bush administration's first National Security Council meeting, Bush asked if anyone had ever met Ariel Sharon. Some were uncertain if it was a joke. It wasn't: Bush launched into a riff about briefly meeting Sharon two years before, how he wouldn't ''go by past reputations when it comes to Sharon. . . . I'm going to take him at face value,'' and how the United States should pull out of the Arab-Israeli conflict because ''I don't see much we can do over there at this point.'' Colin Powell, for one, seemed startled. This would reverse 30 years of policy -- since the Nixon administration -- of American engagement. Such a move would unleash Sharon, Powell countered, and tear the delicate fabric of the Mideast in ways that might be irreparable. Bush brushed aside Powell's concerns impatiently. ''Sometimes a show of force by one side can really clarify things.''
A group of Democratic and Republican members of Congress were called in to discuss Iraq sometime before the October 2002 vote authorizing Bush to move forward. A Republican senator recently told Time Magazine that the president walked in and said: ''Look, I want your vote. I'm not going to debate it with you.'' When one of the senators began to ask a question, Bush snapped, ''Look, I'm not going to debate it with you.''
But perhaps the most striking description of the Bush White House comes from a senior Bush adviser:
The aide said that guys like me [Suskind] were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.
A lot of people are reacting with incredulity to this last statement. Have we lost so much that a focus on reality itself needs defending?
In a word: Yes.
Declare your allegiance with reality. Proclaim your membership in the reality-based community. Let it be known that you won't allow our nation's leadership to remain unreal.
Iran Endorses Bush: Kerry Would Be Too Tough
No, I'm not making this up. The Associated Press writes:
TEHRAN, Iran - The head of Iran's security council said Tuesday that the re-election of President Bush was in Tehran's best interests, despite the administration's axis of evil label, accusations that Iran harbors al-Qaida terrorists and threats of sanctions over the country's nuclear ambitions.
Vaccine for Me But Not For Thee
Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has told his 99 fellow Senators that they should ignore the restrictions on flu vaccines and get vaccinated anyway because they're special.
Meanwhile, my 5 1/2 month-old daughter cannot obtain a vaccine because she's not yet at the 6 month-old threshold for being at risk. We're told that by the time she turns 6 months old, the vaccines will most likely have run out and she won't be able to be vaccinated at that time.
The Bush administration, the Republican-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate have been warned for years about vaccine shortages, but didn't do jack about it. Instead, Bush yammered on about steroid use in athletes (and didn't even follow through on that) and the Congress renamed its toast. People will die because of their inaction.
Fucking elitist pieces of shit.
Bush advocates response before provocation
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Yesterday, In a speech in front of a crowd of Republicans in New Jersey, George W. Bush hyperventilated, "Senator Kerry's approach would only allow us to respond after we're hit!"
Wow! Talk about ambitious! It appears that George W. Bush is promoting an approach in which we respond to things before they happen.
You know, it's kind of like dodging a bullet before it's fired. Wow, George W. Bush sure is going to keep us safe, because he knows when the attacks are going to take place, and who's going to do it, and how, and he's soooooo smart that he'll respond to these attacks before they happen, so that they never happen.
That must explain why it appears that George W. Bush is just lashing out in a blind fury against imaginary enemies here at home and abroad. See, Bush isn't making mistakes. He's responding to things that never happened because he had the strength to respond to them, see.
That dangerous John Kerry, though, he wouldn't respond to things before they happened! That jerk! Why, if he were President, we'd never see John Kerry responding to things that never happened before they never happened, because he's just a weakling liberal Senator from Massachusetts!
I can now see that the way to tell a good leader from a bad leader is that the good leader runs around responding to things that don't exist, whereas a bad leader only responds to things that have already happened. Thank you, George W. Bush, for offering such a clear and sane plan for taking America to war!
Beyond Politics: Irregular Holiday Cheer
Believe it or not, we here at Irregular Times care about a lot of things other than politics. We're focusing so much on politics right now because politics have never been more important a factor in our everyday lives.
However, we are able to look past Election Day, and all the legal challenges that are sure to follow, and think forward to enjoying the holidays. In particular, we're interested in the old notion of the holiday of Yule, a pre-Christmas holiday celebrating midwinter. As a part of this celebration, there were re-creations of a mythic battle between two figures called the Holly King and the Ivy King (also known as the Oak King). These two figures represented the cycle of life and death as found in the yearly change of seasons.
The Holly King is the ancient source of the Santa Claus character later co-opted by Christian churches in an attempt to put an end to non-Christian holiday observances. The Ivy King has not directly transfigured into Christian folklore (although he has a symbolic parallel to some extent in the character of Jesus) - but can be found in many modern gardens in the form of the Green Man motif.
In any case, we think it's high time to re-introduce these two dramatic seasonal characters, the root of the carols of "The Holly and the Ivy". So, we've created an all-encompassing Irregular Holiday section on Irregular Goods, where you'll find the Holly King and Ivy King on greeting cards we've designed just this year. A holiday coffee mug is also available, and a Christmas ornament is scheduled to become available within the next day or two.
I suspect that a lot of people, like me, are looking forward to the time when we can move on past these terrible elections, and simply enjoy ourselves, celebrating a festive Yule.
The Wondrous Miracle of Florida's Touch-Screen Voting
The election follies began as early voting commenced in Florida yesterday, and the new fool-proof computer system...
"In Broward County, north of Miami, supervisor of elections Brenda Snipes said a computer connection went down, preventing nine ballot stations from accessing a database to find out which one of the county's 152 different ballot styles each voter should have.
In Orlando, home to the Disney World theme parks, people were kept waiting for more than two hours by a combination of long lines and computer malfunctions that prevented poll workers from verifying the names and addresses of voters."
(Source: Reuters October 18, 2004)
Bush Passed Up the Chance to Relieve the Burden on American Troops
In July, George W. Bush was offered a deal in which Muslim nations (none bordering Iraq) would contribute troops to provide security to the U.N. mission preparing for a democratic election in January 2005.
George W. Bush rejected the deal because the U.N., not Bush, would be in charge of the troops.
As a result, the U.N. has decided to maintain a staff of only 35 to handle humanitarian and elections duties.
(Source: Reuters October 19, 2004)
A Year Later: Re-Reviewing Al Franken's "Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them"
Monday, October 18, 2004
Last year, Fox News took humorist Al Franken to court to prevent the publication of his book "Lies, and the Lying Liars who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right." The Fox News lawyers insisted that the phrase "fair and balanced" is now completely owned by Fox News, and suggested that the phrase can now no longer be used by any broadcasters, authors, songwriters, or other artists of the written word who do not work for Fox News. The Fox News lawyers complained that Al Franken was stealing their property by using the phrase "fair and balanced" in the title of his book. As a result, they sought to censor Al Franken, and prevent his book from ever coming to market.
United States District Court Judge Denny Chin quickly ruled that Fox News had made a case completely without merit. As the Fox News lawyers tried to make their arguments, the courtroom erupted into open laughter in response to the lawyers' increasingly silly suggestions, such as the idea that readers might make the mistake of believing that Al Franken and George W. Bush both work for Fox News. In the wake of the Fox News lawsuit, Al Franken's book shot up to number one on the best sellers lists and was released a month early with extra printings in order to keep up with public demand. If Fox News was trying to keep "Lying Liars and the Liars who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" from the eyes of the American public, it was profoundly inept in its efforts.
We thought the whole blow-up was hilarious. But in the end, of course, it was all about a book, its suppression and ultimately its promotion. A year later, what is there to say about the book's impact on political life since? Unfortunately, I concluded after picking it up for a re-read, not much. That has as much to do with the weakness of Al Franken's content as it has to do with any stupid, ham-fisted and anti-democratic attempts to censor Al Franken's book by Fox News.
After reading Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, we're struck by the deeply personal nature of the book. It's not about idiotic Republican policies, or about the faults of George W. Bush's presidency, or even about why the ideologies spouted by conservatives are misguided. These subjects would give us something as readers to work with. No, if you look at Al Franken's book carefully, it's about three things:
Time and again, we're treated to tales of Al Franken's encounters with the people he doesn't like, almost always right-wing pundits. Franken expresses his shock when the right-wing pundits call him names, then proceeds to call the same right-wing pundits names of his own. Franken recounts tales in which he plays the hero, making right-wing pundits look stupid. Franken tells of incidents in which he challenges right-wing pundits to fights and makes them look silly when they back down. Franken catches right-wing pundits in lies about such things as whether they have won awards and where they were born. When that's not enough, Franken regurgitates a chapter from a previous book of his by taking his enemies, placing them as fictional characters in Vietnam, then conveniently having them soil themselves, kill each other off and otherwise embarrass themselves. Some people say that's funny, but after the first ten pages I just couldn't bring myself to laugh.
A year later, I find I no longer give a shit about whether Bill O'Reilly didn't win an award that he says he won, or whether he was really born in Leavittown. I no longer care whether Al Franken had a smart retort handy when some pundit told him to fuck off. I don't care whether a pundit wants to fight Al Franken or not. And to be frank, Franken's fictional fantasies involving the death and bodily disgrace of his political enemies are the sort of thing best kept in a private diary and perhaps disclosed to a therapist, not a publisher.
After a re-reading, Lying Liars boils down to The Story of Al Franken, His Detractors, and How Al Won. The reason why nobody's talking about this book a year after the fact is that it has nearly nothing to do with the real problems facing the country. To a striking extent, we've all moved on to more important matters: changing the direction of our policy and the face of our presidency.
Reports of Republican Electoral Fraud Spreading
At first it was just one story of a few people hired by the Republican Party ripping up the registration forms of new Democrats. Now, it's become much bigger than that.
As the entry below this one relates, George W. Bush's brother Jeb, who is still Governor of Florida, has been caught ordering the names of Florida citizens to be removed from the lists of eligible voters, even though he knew that many of the people on the list were in fact legally entitled to vote. The voters removed from the list were from a group that tends to vote for Democrats.
Now we're also hearing about people who were instructed to destroy Democratic voter registrations in Oregon, West Virginia and in Pennsylvannia. The company behind this illegal obstruction of Democrats' votes? Sproul and Associates, run by Nathan Sproul, former head of the Arizona Republican Party, former leader of the Christian Coalition in Arizona, and currently contracted to work for the Republican National Committee to perform "voter outreach".
The Republican hit squad of Sproul and Associates is also encountering charges of electoral fraud in Michigan, Missouri, Maine, and Ohio - all battleground states.
In South Dakota last week, six Republicans from South Dakota, including the state director of the Republican Victory Program, were forced to resign from their positions processing absentee ballots when serious questions arose about the integrity of the absentee ballot system in South Dakota. Now there are fears in South Dakota that the absentee ballot system may have been stuffed with fake votes for Republicans.
In Milwaukee, which is a majority Democrat city, Republican county officials have been caught blocking the creation of adequate numbers of ballots, so that hundreds of thousands of voters, most of them Democrats, will not be able to vote at all on Election Day, simply because there will be no ballots for them to use.
In 2000, we had to wait until Election Day to start learning of Republican electoral fraud. In 2004, the Republican efforts to attack the machinery of American democracy have been exposed weeks before Election Day - and yet it may be too late to make a difference.
America cannot afford to have another fraudulent presidential election. Our American elections are starting to look more like those run by Russian dictator Vladmir Putin. Bush says he's looked in Putin's eyes, and he liked what he saw. We're seeing the result of that affection for totalitarianism.
This year may be the last chance we have to save America's democractic traditions, and turnout is the key. The Republicans may be able to wipe out hundreds of thousands of Democrats' votes, but that just means that we need to turn out that many more Democrats to vote - while we still can.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush Caught in Voter Fraud
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Four years ago, the office of Governor Jeb Bush helped Jeb's brother George W. in his campaign to become President of the United States. Thousands of eligible and registered voters, who tended to be Democrats, were taken off of lists of people authorized to vote, and so George W. Bush took the state by just a few hundred votes.
Now it has been revealed that the office of Governor Jeb Bush is at it again, and this time Jeb Bush himself has been directly implicated in the electoral fraud. The message below, which Ralph Neas of the People for the American Way refers to as a "smoking email" was revealed yesterday. It shows that Jeb Bush ordered a list of Florida voters to be blocked from taking part in the election, even though he knew that the list was inaccurate and contained the names of people who were, in fact eligible to vote.
Lest anyone mistake this for old news, let's be clear: This email concerns the 2004 election, not the 2000 election. Jeb Bush has been caught trying to commit electoral fraud in order to secure his brother re-election to the White House.
People for the American Way is calling on the Department of Justice to initiate an investigation into the affair. We'll go further and demand an investigation that is conducted by officials who are completely independent from either the administration of George W. Bush or the administration of Jeb Bush. We encourage you to email John Ashcroft on this matter right away.
Only through a truly independent investigation can we uncover the extent of electoral fraud orchestrated by Jeb Bush and the Republican Party in their attempt to give the state of Florida to George W. Bush in this year's election.
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