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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 05/22/2005 - 05/29/2005
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Bolton, Bolton, Bolton

so, mccain sees the need for a COMPLETE dossier on bolton... that's good...

Senator John McCain of Arizona, signaled his support on Friday for a compromise in which the White House might allow Senate leaders access to highly classified documents in return for a final vote early next month on Mr. Bolton's nomination as United Nations ambassador.

but do ya think the white house is gonna budge...? hell, no... not king george... not crown prince cheney... and certainly not arch-villian, rove... steve clemons...

This is the line the White House press office is feeding the press:

"John Bolton enjoys majority [Senate] support, and it's a shame that Democrats are stopping a vote," said Erin Healy, a White House spokeswoman. "This is about partisan politics, not documents."

no, it's not... it's about a loose cannon, party-loyal, intelligence-twisting, serial abusing, MONUMENTALLY POOR CHOICE for u.n. ambassador...

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Chip, chip, chippin' away at civil liberties

The Bush administration asked a federal appeals court Friday to restore its ability to compel Internet service providers to turn over information about their customers or subscribers as part of its fight against terrorism.

like i've said ad nauseam, every day, in every way, if you're not payin' attention, everything we have in this country that makes it possible to live here is slip-slidin' away... (and even if you ARE paying attention...!)

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WSJ takes issue

America's largest newspaper and quintessential conservative editorial page blasted Republicans in Congress on Friday in an editorial titled "Republicans at Bay," RAW STORY has learned.

The editorial (paid-restricted), which hammers Republicans for failing to produce anything of substance in the 2005 session of Congress, may be a troubling sign for Republicans, as the Journal's editorial page leans heavily to the right.


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Sign Conyers' letter to Bush on the "Downing Street Memo"

rep. john conyers is sending the following letter to president bush regarding the "downing street memo" as broken by the london sunday times on may 1... click here if you would like to add your name to the list of signers... when he gets 100,000 signatures, he will personally deliver it to the white house...

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005

Dear Mr. President:

We the undersigned write to you because of our concern regarding recent disclosures of a “Downing Street Memo” in the London Times, comprising the minutes of a meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers. These minutes indicate that the United States and Great Britain agreed to by the summer of 2002 to attack Iraq, well before the invasion and before you even sought Congressional authority to engage in military action, and that U.S. officials were deliberately manipulating intelligence to justify the war.


Among other things, the British government document quotes a high-ranking British official as stating that by July, 2002, “Bush had made up his mind to take military action.” Yet, a month later, the you stated you were still willing to “look at all options” and that there was “no timetable” for war. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, flatly stated that “[t]he president has made no such determination that we should go to war with Iraq.”

In addition, the origins of the false contention that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction remains a serious and lingering question about the lead up to the war. There is an ongoing debate about whether this was the result of a “massive intelligence failure,” in other words a mistake, or the result of intentional and deliberate manipulation of intelligence to justify the case for war. The memo appears to resolve that debate as well, quoting the head of British intelligence as indicating that in the United States “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

As a result of these concerns, we would ask that you respond to the following questions:
1) Do you or anyone in your administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?
2) Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization to go to war? Did you or anyone in your Administration obtain Britain’’s commitment to invade prior to this time?
3) Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?
4) At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?
5) Was there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to “fix” the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?

These are the same questions 89 Members of Congress, led by Rep. John Conyers, Jr., submitted to you on May 5, 2005. As citizens and taxpayers, we believe it is imperative that our people be able to trust our government and our commander in chief when you make representations and statements regarding our nation engaging in war. As a result, we would ask that you publicly respond to these questions as promptly as possible.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


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Media Matters makes a key point on the filibuster agreement

media matters, the excellent press watchdog group, points out something that i and probably many others have missed... in the senate filibuster compromise, a key element called for president bush to engage in more consultation with the senate on nominees prior to submission...

Leading Democrats and their allies were highlighting another part of the agreement: what they asserted was a clear signal to President Bush that he needed to engage in "true consultation and cooperation" with both parties before naming future court nominees, particularly to the Supreme Court.

what hasn't received the press attention it deserves, according to media matters, is that this strong recommendation has been rejected by the white house... (again from the nyt...)

Administration officials and their allies pushed back, saying the agreement would have no effect on their powers to pick a nominee. Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said the administration would consult as it always had, signaling that it did not intend to change in any substantive way its method of selecting, vetting and nominating candidates for the federal bench, including the Supreme Court.

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Tierney opts for piece

The new edition of "Peace and Conflict," a biennial global survey being published next week by the University of Maryland, shows that the number and intensity of wars and armed conflicts have fallen once again, continuing a steady 15-year decline that has halved the amount of organized violence around the world.

yeah, mr. tierney, it's nice to point out a piece of uplifting news over the memorial day weekend and, these days, any and all good news is welcome... but the other side of that shiny coin, taking into account the number of armed conflicts the u.s. either has or is engaging in which, coupled with the number it has or is directly or indirectly supporting, starts to look a wee bit corroded to me...

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Rewards for telling the boss what he wants to hear...

the message this sends to everyone trying to do their job with integrity is crystal clear... screw the integrity - unless of course it fits with the preconceived notions upstairs... disgusting...

Two Army analysts whose work has been cited as part of a key intelligence failure on Iraq -- the claim that aluminum tubes sought by the Baghdad government were most likely meant for a nuclear weapons program rather than for rockets -- have received job performance awards in each of the past three years, officials said.

they may be skilled, competent analysts and may, in fact, be superior performers but what this says to the intelligence community stinks...

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I'm forever blowing bubbles...

more and more news stories are highlighting the very disturbing trends in the real estate bubble... i've posted twice over the past few days (here and here) and now these...

More than a third of the mortgages written in the Washington area this year are a risky new kind of loan that lets borrowers pay back only the interest. [...] "Somebody is going to have the chair pulled out from under them when they find prices have leveled out and they try to sell, only to find they can't sell for what they paid for it." [Allen J. Fishbein, director of housing and credit policy at the Consumer Federation of America]

after paul krugman's opinion piece yesterday, the nyt weighs in again...

Four days after Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, pronounced the nation's housing market frothy, a new report on home prices this week suggested that he might have been understating the situation. Even after one of the steepest run-ups on record, home prices have jumped another 15 percent over the last year.

While gleeful about their apparent riches, homeowners in many of the hottest areas are also growing concerned. How, exactly, does one know if the family palace is sitting atop a bubble about to burst?

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Friday, May 27, 2005

Al Jazeera in Caracas...?

Telesur, a regional public TV network envisioned as a Latin American version of the Arab world's Al Jazeera broadcasting group, was officially launched Tuesday at a ceremony in the Venezuelan capital.

The fledgling broadcasting company is jointly owned by Argentina, Cuba, Uruguay and Venezuela.

"After 513 years of looking at ourselves through foreign eyes, we Latin Americans are beginning to see ourselves through our own eyes," said the director of the new regional network, Aram Arahonian, a Uruguayan journalist based in Venezuela for the last 18 years, at the official ceremony.

i'm headed down that way soon... i'll be interested to see if it's being carried on the cable outlets in buenos aires and, if it is, what kind of stories they'll be serving up...

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Yes, Argentina 2x in one day...

ok, so sue me... i'm fascinated by argentina and how its plucky people are pulling themselves up by their bootstraps afer thumbing their collective noses at the imf, the world bank, the g7, and global banking powerhouses like citi and hsbc... this is a good analysis piece of what's been happening and where things might be heading...

Argentine President Néstor Kirchner has often said that he took office during a crisis that was so severe that he had to govern ”minute by minute”. But on Wednesday he reaches the halfway point in his four-year term with an economy in full recovery mode, and his challenge now is to make it last, say analysts.


Gross domestic product (GDP), which had shrunk 20 percent between 1999 and 2002, grew 8.7 percent in 2003 and nine percent in 2004. The unemployment rate dropped from 17.8 to 13 percent, and the poverty rate fell from a record high of 57.5 percent in 2002 to 40.2 percent last year.

The debt on which Argentina had defaulted in late 2001 was restructured this year, with 76 percent of bondholders agreeing to the swap.

Tax collection increased, as did investment, exports and consumption. Wages and pensions also rose slightly, while prices were kept in check despite a small outbreak of inflation earlier this year.

Protests and roadblocks staged by organisations of the unemployed, which had become the foremost mode of social protest after 2000, began to give way to demonstrations by organised workers [see my post of may 21] demanding higher wages and better working conditions.

On the political front, Kirchner backed the congressional decision to annul the amnesty laws passed in the mid to late 1980s, which had put an end to prosecutions of members of the military who committed human rights violations during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

He also restructured the leadership of the armed forces and the police, and put in place a transparent process for appointing Supreme Court judges.

But without downplaying the significance of these moves, Adrogué [Gerardo Adrogué, director of Knack, a public opinion consultancy] insists that the Kirchner administration's greatest achievement has been the return to economic stability.

”And even though not everyone understands the technical details, Argentines approve of the tough stance the president took in renegotiating the foreign debt,” the analyst added.

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Not the kind of p.r. you wanna have...

tracking down nazi war criminals in south america is almost a cliche and now it appears that others have followed in their footsteps...

A new wave of war criminals, this time from the Balkans, has apparently sought refuge in Argentina, which has a sad history of taking in Nazis after World War II.

The embassy of Serbia and Montenegro in Buenos Aires was taken by surprise this week
by the arrest of an alleged Serbian war criminal, Nebjosa Minic, who was living in the western province of Mendoza since 2003.

Minic is implicated in a 1999 massacre of ethnic Albanians in the village of Cuska, in what is today the autonomous province of Kosovo.

i've walked by the serbia and montenegro embassy numbers of times, right there on avenida alvear, half a block off of avenida callao...

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FEAR - a powerful motivator

“Why won’t the press do its job of holding George W. Bush accountable for misleading the country to war in Iraq? How could the intelligence on Iraq have been so wrong? Why do America’s most powerful institutions sit back while huge trade and budget deficits sap away the nation’s future?”

damn good questions all, and deserving of some extended, rational dialogue... robert parry, author of Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq", has some thoughts and history worth considering...i've taken a few excerpts that grab the essence but it's also worth reading in its entirety... mr. parry, you have the floor...

I would say that the most precise answer can be summed up in one word: fear.


It’s not fear of physical harm. That's not how it works in Washington. For the professionals in journalism and in intelligence, it’s a smaller, more corrosive fear – of lost status, of ridicule, of betrayal, of unemployment. It is the fear of getting blackballed from a community of colleagues or a profession that has given your life much of its meaning and its financial sustenance.


[B]y popularizing accusations of “liberal media,” the conservatives both justified the existence of their own ideological news outlets and put mainstream news organizations in the constant position of trying to prove they weren’t liberal. To protect their careers, journalists made a point of writing stories that would please the Reagan-Bush White House.


The consequences of these changes in journalism and intelligence analysis became apparent when the neocons – the likes of Paul Wolfowitz and Elliott Abrams – returned to power under George W. Bush in 2001 and especially after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.


[I]n the mainstream media, news executives and journalists were petrified of accusations that they were “blaming America first” or didn’t sufficiently “support the troops.” Mainstream news outlets competed with conservative Fox News to wrap themselves in red, white and blue. News executives transformed their networks and newspapers into little more than conveyor belts for the Bush administration’s propaganda.


What is perhaps even more troubling is that this fear is spreading to other institutions. Academia is now feeling the heat from conservatives who want to eliminate it as the last bastion of liberal thought.


If individuals are expected to be courageous, there must be courageous institutions to surround and protect them. That’s why the creation of a counter-infrastructure – one that will take on both the powerful conservative infrastructure and the cowardly mainstream media – is so vital.

Examples of how this counter-dynamic could work can be found in the take-no-prisoners ethos of the anti-Bush Internet sites, or in the irreverent comedy of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” or in the unabashed liberalism of the fledgling progressive talk radio.

All have shown toughness in refusing to genuflect before Bush and his enormous political power.

Just as cowardice can come in small pieces, none seeming to be that important alone but which added together can destroy a worthy cause, so courage can build one piece on top of another until a solid foundation is established from which a mighty edifice can rise.

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President Bush - THIS is the kind of heartless leadership you are encouraging

united airlines has to be one of the most shameless companies i know... their front-line employees, particularly those with direct customer contact work their butts off, take the brunt of every problem, get yelled at by the customers, and then serially abused by the management... it's truly pathetic and has been going on for years and years... it never gets better, only worse... this is from an open letter to glenn tilton, the united ceo, from yet ANOTHER aggrieved, powerless employee...

When you first came to United I was very excited, finally a non-airline CEO, someone who didn't owe anyone within our company anything , finally someone who the employees seem to really like and trust, who told us he had our best interest at heart as well as the companies and the future. Someone who told us we would work together to end the bankruptcy and we would ALL see the rewards of our hard work.


Boy was I wrong as was [sic] so many of my coworkers.

What I would like to know is what it is you and your fellow management team do that makes you worth over $700,000 a year, more than double your starting salary in 3 years, with a 4.5 million dollar pension and bonuses?, a salary so many of us could never achieve no matter how long we worked for United or how much knowledge we obtain. Of course I already know the answer to that. You and your team were hired to come in, make the employees trust you and then stab us in the back You where hired to take more and more from us while you and your management team ensured your futures with raises, bonuses, and pensions. Yet for some reason we as employees still come to work everyday and deal with the customers, load the planes and get them out on time to make YOU look good. I know you'll say it's not you we're making look good it's ourselves and the way people view United, which in a way is true, however as long as we continue to do this day in and day out nothing will ever change, except now I have lost my pension, taken over a 25% pay cut in in less than 8 years with the bulk of that being after YOU the one I was suppose to trust, the one who was going to work with all of us make our lives better and emerge from bankruptcy came on board. Now you want more of my money, you want my vacation, my holidays and my sick time. You want me to work harder and longer for so much less, because "it's for the future of our company." Tell me Mr, Tilton, when the bankruptcy is over and 5 years from now will you and your management team still be part of "OUR" company or will you u have long moved on to your 4.5 million dollar pensions while we struggle week to week trying to save for our retirement because you took it and so much from us?


There was a time a thought I would never vote for a union, I would never strike against United that time has long come and gone. I voted for the strike with over 90% off my fellow workers, and I will strike and I will walk the minute the union tells us no matter what. I would rather see the doors of this company close than see you and your management team get another dime from me or my coworkers. You may think this is unfair and selfish, but then again you can afford to

you know it's incredibly bad when the employees would rather see the company go under than put up with their leadership for another minute... sooo sad...but this is the kind of corporate world bushco is encouraging and, worse yet, the kind of management that's being seeded throughout the federal government...

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Arms sales to questionable countries... (Goddam, they're slow...)

i don't understand how the msm, which i would assume has a lot more resources at their disposal than i do, can be so friggin' SLOW getting important stories out... i posted on the arms sale to pakistan back on may 6 and added some major numbers to the story on may 8... now, here we are, memorial day weekend and the washington post gets a clue - and not much of a one at that...

The sale of military weapons to other countries, including many that were once barred from making such purchases, has increased sharply since the attacks on Sept. 11. [...] Among the countries are Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as Algeria and Uzbekistan. [...] More than half of the top 25 recipients in 2003, either through the commercial sales program or through foreign military sales, were countries that the State Department has defined as undemocratic. They included Saudi Arabia (purchases of $1.1 billion); Egypt ($1 billion); Kuwait ($153 million); and the United Arab Emirates ($110 million).

funny how they neglect to mention that the sale to pakistan was a cool $1.3 BILLION, the HIGHEST of the bunch...

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Housing - Krugman is worried too...

i posted on the scarey increase in housing prices just the other day... now, paul krugman (yes, ANOTHER of my heroes), is raising his voice in alarm... i don't want to be one of those sky-is-falling, cruisin'-for-a-bruisin' kinda guys, but i am really nervous... even if prices stabilize at their current levels, my son and his wife are in hock for the rest of their natural lives with their current mortgage and home equity loan... god help 'em if the bottom falls out of the real estate market and we fall back into a recession...

[A]lthough the housing boom has lasted longer than anyone could have imagined, the economy would still be in big trouble if it came to an end. That is, if the hectic pace of home construction were to cool, and consumers were to stop borrowing against their houses, the economy would slow down sharply. If housing prices actually started falling, we'd be looking at a very nasty scene, in which both construction and consumer spending would plunge, pushing the economy right back into recession.


According to Business Week, 31 percent of new mortgages are interest only, a sign that people are stretching to their financial limits.

THAT'S the kind of number that gives me goose bumps... INTEREST-ONLY MORTGAGES...? as one fast approaching geezerhood, the mere idea of an interest-only mortgage, to me, is appalling...

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Amazing...! Bolton still alive but in ICU...

Democrats forced the Senate on Thursday evening to postpone a vote on John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, demanding that the White House first hand over classified information about Mr. Bolton's conduct that it has refused for weeks to provide. The move put off [any decison on the nomination] until at least June 7.

i missed this, what with being out in the sticks without internet or tv, but i can only imagine the high drama over this high-stakes position... steve clemons is a happy man...

This is a victory...another one. The media has been CONSTANTLY WRONG.

Ok...I am going for a drink. There is still room for faith in American democracy, the rights of the minority, and standing by principle.

i'm pretty happy myself... regardless of what happens from here, it's clear that bushco can no longer sit content with cramming abusive, arrogant, party-loyal-above-all-else ideologues down the throats of the american people... thanks to the conscience of some of our elected representatives in the senate, this loose cannon might actually be kept from walking the halls of the u.n. wreaking his particular brand of destruction...

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Molly revels in Priscilla and irony

one of these days, i'm gonna hafta get around to compiling my list of heroes and heroines... every day, i'm reminded of another one i've forgotten to mention or post on lately... here's one of the best, the irrepressible molly ivins, waxing eloquent on priscilla owen and irony as only she can...

Right-wing Republicans fight to make the world safe from "judicial activists" by appointing Priscilla Owen -- the biggest, baddest, worstest judicial activist Texas ever produced -- to the federal bench.

Owen is so notorious for reading her own opinions into the law, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, then her colleague on the Texas Supreme Court, described her opinion in a parental consent case as "an unconscionable act of judicial activism." (For further irony, see Gonzales' subsequent attempts to deny that he was describing Owen.)

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Another gloomy poll for bushco...

this poll was commissioned by campaign for america's future so it probably will be faulted by the msm as "left-leaning" but it is nonetheless somewhat eye-opening...

* 56% oppose Bush's Social Security privatization scheme.
* 57% feel that the Iraq war has not been worth the cost of U.S. lives and dollars.
* 62% feel that our economy is not good for middle and working class people.

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Three large crosses were burned in separate spots around [Durham, NC] during a span of just over an hour, and yellow fliers with Ku Klux Klan sayings were found at one location, police said. The cross burnings Wednesday night marked the first time in recent memory that one of the South's most notorious symbols of racial hatred has been seen in the city. [...] Cross burnings have been associated with the Ku Klux Klan since the early 20th century. The first known cross burning occurred when a Georgia mob celebrated a lynching.

this CAN'T be a good sign...

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as usual, steve clemons over at the washington note, is doing a superb job tracking the ongoing controversy over bush's nomination of john bolton to the post of u.s. ambassador the the u.n... bush ought to have withdrawn the nomination weeks ago but in the current megalomaniacal world of the bush/cheney/rove axis of evil, there's no room for backing away from ANYTHING, no matter how stupid or ill-advised... i won't be able to access c-span today and may even have trouble finding out how the vote turns out this evening but i sure do have my fingers crossed that this terrible nomination doesn't go forward...
at 6pm [edt] there will be a cloture vote. if there are 60 votes in favor of cloture, the senate will move without any further debate to an up or down vote on john bolton's confirmation. if there are not 60 votes in favor of cloture, the question of john bolton's confirmation will be carried over until after next week's recess.

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I preferred the horse jerk-off jokes

the last thing we need is AN UNPAID, UNELECTED bullshit artist spewing crap... the paid ones (mcclellan, rove, etc.) are plenty, thank you very much...

Only a forceful intervention from the White House could induce Egypt's dictator to hold an election that is close to free and fair. Instead he -- and the Egyptian people -- have heard from Laura Bush that his mockery of democracy is worthy of applause.


Mrs. Bush sided squarely with Mr. Mubarak, who frequently condemned the U.S. democracy initiative in the Middle East before abruptly announcing elections on his own terms.

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We don't need no stinkin' global warming...

while the entire scientific community (minus the "junk science" scientists, of course) and the rest of the human beings on the planet are coming to grips with the reality of global warming and the potential for catastrophic consequences, bushco resolutely buries its collective head in the sand and tackles really important matters like announcing a veto on stem cell research... what can you do except read something like this and weep...

A warming climate has heated much of Alaska's permafrost to temperatures just below freezing and drastic changes are expected in the coming decades as that layer of frozen soil thaws. [...] Vladimir Romanovsky, an associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Geophysical Institute said the impact is already apparent. In Fairbanks a path has buckled into undulating waves, houses are slumping into thawed ground and stands of birch trees are toppling as dying forested areas melt into swamps.

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Uh-oh... Did I say that...? I don't remember saying that...

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he will ask President Bush at a White House meeting on Thursday to fulfill his vision of a viable, sovereign Palestinian state living next to Israel in peace and security.

"wait just a cotton-pickin' minute... NOW, i remember what i said... i said, 'we don't DO accountability here at the white house'..."

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NV Congressman Gibbons on the PATRIOT Act

congressman jim gibbons of nevada responded to my concerns over the patriot act... i'm glad to know he shares some of my concerns but not happy with how he papers over some of the bigger ones, like the delayed notification search warrants...

Dear Mr. ---:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding the Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (PATRIOT) Act. I appreciate hearing from you and having the opportunity to respond to your concerns.


As you may know, a great deal of my responsibility in Congress focuses on oversight of government agencies. As a Nevadan, I value every citizen's civil liberties, and I am committed to protecting them. Many people have contacted me with concerns about the PATRIOT Act, as well as to ask me to support various pieces of legislation that would alter the authorities provided in PATRIOT. Please let me provide an overview of this important law and explain both why I continue to support the Act, yet understand that some changes may be necessary.

With some exceptions, I support the PATRIOT Act. It was passed to update and strengthen law enforcement tools used in the war against terror. The Act modernizes the law to keep up with changing technologies, such as cell phone use, email, powerful information encryption technology, and globalized financial and transportation services. Until its passage,
terrorists inside our very country took unhindered advantage of this cutting-edge technology to further their own lethal plots, leaving our law enforcement officers to fight them with antiquated tools and procedures.

However, there are two specific issues I am concerned about with the PATRIOT Act. First, in regards to the issuance of warrants, 'reasonable suspicion' has replaced 'probable cause' as the minimum threshold for which specific warrants can be granted. I believe that, in certain circumstances, reasonable suspicion may be too loosely interpreted. The implementation of this aspect of the bill warrants very close scrutiny and possible changes. Additionally, the intent of the PATRIOT Act, as spelled out in its full title (Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) is to assist counter-terrorism efforts. The recent use of the PATRIOT Act in Las Vegas to procure documents not related to a terrorism case is concerning. With a strict interpretation of section 314 of the Act, law enforcement authorities were within the law, as this section does not specify that financial documents must be part of a terrorism investigation. However, this clearly contravenes the intent of Congress, and Congress may need to amend the law as a result.

Many have voiced concerns about the erosion of civil liberties under the PATRIOT Act. However, I do not believe there is cause for concern, as long as Congress remains vigilant in its oversight responsibilities. Indeed, the PATRIOT Act actually addresses the preservation of civil liberties, stating:

"Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and Americans from South Asia play a vital role in our Nation and are entitled to nothing less than the full rights of every American...The acts of violence that have been taken against Arab and Muslim Americans since the September 11, 2001, attacks against the United States should be and are condemned by all Americans who value freedom...the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans...must be protected..."

Several special interest groups have spread misinformation about the PATRIOT Act in a way that thoroughly misrepresents the truth. For example, the American Civil Liberties Union has claimed that the PATRIOT Act provision regarding delayed notification search warrants, "expands the government's ability to search private property without notice to the owner," and "would allow law enforcement agencies to delay giving notice when they conduct a search...this provision would mark a sea change in the way search warrants are executed in the Unites States." However, they purposefully fail to point out that such types of search warrants have been in use for decades against organized crime and drug traffickers. The extreme nature of terrorism and organized crime requires the ability to delay notification of search. Without this protection, evidence is destroyed, criminal networks are put on alert, witnesses intimidated or killed, and criminals and terrorists flee. Further, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Dalia v. United States, recognized that this type of warrant does not violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

Again, many of the tools the PATRIOT Act authorizes in countering terrorism have been in use for decades against organized crime and narcotics enterprises. Like these types of crime, terrorism is a complex undertaking done by highly intelligent and organized individuals who often have tremendous resources at their disposal. These empires of crime, drugs, and terror simply require more powerful law enforcement tools to be successfully defeated. Many of the arguments used against the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act - the RICO Act - are the same arguments being used against the PATRIOT Act today. The RICO Act has been the most successful tool in the history of law enforcement against mafia organizations, and like RICO, the PATRIOT Act is doing the same to tackle terrorist organizations. Even with RICO and PATRIOT, these organizations are so powerful it may take years to break them up and bring them to justice. Without RICO and the PATRIOT Act, the Mafia and Al-Qaeda would be facing an unarmed American Justice system.

I am committed to protecting Nevadans' constitutional and civil rights. Please know, I will continue to closely monitor the implementation of the PATRIOT Act, and will be considering what changes may be necessary. Congress will have the opportunity to amend the PATRIOT Act this year, as many aspects of the law sunset in 2005 and must be renewed by Congress. When considering issues and legislation relating to the PATRIOT Act, I will keep your views in mind, as well as the interests and liberties of all Nevadans.

Again, I appreciate your willingness to contact me and share your views. For more information on the issues affecting our state, please visit my web page at where you can sign up to receive breaking news, weekly newsletters and monthly columns --- all delivered directly to your e-mail address. I look forward to hearing from you again soon, and having the ability to keep you updated on the work we are doing in Congress through my web page.


Jim Gibbons
Member of Congress

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Quick action on the worst of the worst

when i read dobson's little screed on how the far right was screwed by a repub "bailout and betrayal" and then think about how little miss priscilla is now a federal circuit court judge, i wanna puke...

By a largely party-line vote of 56 to 43, the Republican-led chamber confirmed Texan Priscilla Owen for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

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As if there isn't enough to be scared about - housing prices are skyrocketing

the ballooning of housing prices is not a heavily-watched story in the media but it may have some of the most dire implications of anything that's going on...
[T]he median price for sales of existing homes, which does not factor in newly built ones, rose to $206,000 last month, up 15.1 percent over the last year and breaking the $200,000 level for the first time.

even that sounds relatively mild until you start taking a regional look...

Prices have jumped most sharply over the last year in the West - up 21 percent in April from a year earlier, compared with an increase of 14 percent in the calendar year 2004.

now, hold on to your hats as we take a micro look at reno, nevada... my son and his wife purchased a home in april, 2003, for $198K... one month ago, it was appraised at $285K, an $87K appreciation in one year... in percentage points, that's a whopping 43% increase...

my big worry is that housing is driving a good deal of the economy... when i look at the incredible pace of housing development (as i did yesterday from the air over reno, phoenix and denver and then again driving through denver and colorado springs), i think of all the related jobs that development is fueling... then i start to think about how closely interrelated mortgage interest rates are to u.s. foreign policy and the financial activities of other countries... (again from the washington post...)

Mortgage rates are closely tied to the market for long-term government bonds, which are benefiting from purchases by foreign governments, particularly in Asia, that continue to buy Treasury bonds, as well as from investors looking for a haven from risky corporate securities.

that leads me to treasury snow's recent pressure on china to revalue its currency...
Earlier this week, the US Treasury said that China was in danger of being censured for manipulating its currency and called on it to move "without delay" to loosen restrictions on the yuan.

which in turn leads to thinking about what might be the reverberations in the u.s. if it does...
The rest of the world finances the economic and financial policy of the Bush administration. Central banks and private investors buy dollar bonds and fill the holes in the US budget and in the balance of trade. Europe and Japan assumed this role for a long time. Recently Washington has become dependent on the Chinese. The US faces a dilemma in relation to Peking. The Yuan would be 40 percent more expensive with abandonment of the dollar bond. A “market-just” Yuan price would raise the price of imports from China and relieve the US trade balance. However Peking insists on a cheap Yuan to counter the risk of recession and devaluation of its own dollar assets. The Bush administration refuses to repair its budget.

then i start thinking about what would happen if (maybe when is a better word) the real estate bubble bursts...
[T]he growing gap between house prices and almost everything else - rents, incomes, population growth - is the surest sign of trouble.

and here's how it would all come down...
To stabilize the value of the dollar at the present level, the US needs a daily currency inflow of $1.8 billion. If credit worthiness is scratched, the dollar is no longer only “a problem for others.” The anticipation of future losses can trigger a chain reaction. The interests have a key function. First foreign investors demand higher yields for their readiness to acquire or hold dollars and US bonds. The greater the risk of a loss in value, the higher is the expected bonus in the form of higher interests. However higher interests put pressure on readiness for investment and consumption, above all in the US where much more is bought on credit than in other parts of the world. For example, the real estate market could collapse that profited for a long time from historically unique low interests.

then i start thinking about my son and his wife living in a house that is suddenly worth less than they owe on it... that's not a train of thought that is conducive to a good night's sleep...

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I know it when I see it

judd at think progress has a pretty good eye for hypocrisy and exploitation... go check it out...

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I hope Voinovich is watching his back

sen. voinovich has quickly become something of a hero in my book cuz i have a strong suspicion that the pressures he's under must be intense... when you come out and say stuff like this when the cheney/bush/rove axis of evil is so strongly committed to pushing something, it's pretty gutsy... i just hope he doesn't end up wearing a pair of custom-designed rove concrete overshoes...

[It] is my concern that John Bolton's nomination sends a negative message to the world community and contradicts the President's efforts. In these dangerous times, we cannot afford to put at risk our nation's ability to successfully wage and win the war on terror with a controversial and ineffective Ambassador to the United Nations.

strong words but he's doing what he oughta be doing - putting the interests of the nation ahead of party interests and speaking from his convictions... that's what he was elected for, after all... unfortunately, that's not something valued by buschco...

The White House remains strongly in favor of Mr. Bolton's nomination, and it is unusual for a Republican to break ranks so publicly with President Bush.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Bush - 2; Karzai - 0

first yesterday and now today... so far, it's been a very unproductive visit for mr. karzai... he's zero for two... bet he can't wait 'til he gets back to kabul where things are a bit friendlier...

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan spoke Monday with President Bush about the treatment of Afghan prisoners held by the United States. But Mr. Bush made no commitment on when he might be willing to give the Kabul government control over prisoners taken by the military.

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Oh, swell...

more pretext for the neo-con, chickenhawk, darth vader wannabes to polish up their light-sabres...

Syria has halted military and intelligence cooperation with the United States, its ambassador to Washington said in an interview, in a sign of growing strains between the two nations over the insurgency in Iraq.

this is NOT a good sign...

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Damn...! And here I thought DOBSON was pissed...

from the great state of minnesota... it's so loaded with goodies, i hardly know where to start... you can read it for yourself, but first a few highlights...
  • "boned your party up the a**"
  • "you looked us all in the face, and spat"
  • "You got conned"
  • "Klansman, a drunk machine hack and a party bag man"
and my personal favorite...

  • "Thank God for Tom Delay"

Note To Bill Frist: You Suck

To: Bill Frist, US Senate.
From: Mitch Berg, Schmuck Citizen and pissed-off former GOP contributor
Re: Your Infinite Cretinism


Senator Frist,

Mitch Berg here. You probably don't know who I am; I'm a typical schmuck. I write a blog, and I try to pitch in on GOP activities around Minnesota.

And on behalf of the entire GOP, I'm having a hard time walking right now - because you just boned your party up the a**.

No, not just the party; not just the assembly of suits and climbers and hangers-on that no doubt surrounds you at work every day. No, I'm talking about all of us who busted our asses overcoming a full-court media press (and continue to do so), and gave of our time and money until it hurt - hurt our wallets, our families, our relationships, our equilibrium. We gave them all with enthusiasm because we knew what was at stake; a whole generation of Supreme Court decisions.

So we gave. And you took.

And today, you looked us all in the face, and spat.

Reading Michelle and John and Ed, I'm about as depressed as I can be.

We won you a majority, pinhead. What the hell good is it? You think the Democrats are going to abide by your little gentleman's agreement? You got conned. You entered into an agreement with a Klansman, a drunk machine hack and a party bag man. You are the Neville Chamberlain of my generation.

I don't believe in Karma, but I believe what goes around comes around. And I guess you demonstrate it, Frist. The Democrats elect a pinhead doctor to lead their party - I guess it's only fair we did, too.

Thank God for Tom Delay. The least you could do is make it hard for the Dems to neutralize you, rather than walking off the cliff into the kool-aid vat on your own.

Captain Ed is right. Not one more dime. You have made me ashamed to be a Republican.

Oh, I'll bounce back. We all will - most of us, anyway. We'll have to. Because you showed us today - the grass roots have got to do it for themselves; we'll get no help from hamsters like you.

Sincerely - go back to medicine.

Mitch Berg
Saint Paul.

gosh, mitch... don't beat around the bush... tell us how you REALLY feel...

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Just in case anyone's interested, here's THE DEAL...

this is THE DEAL that was worked out last night... thanks to kos for the link and third-hand thanks to whoever took the time to transcribe this and put it in pdf format...

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Are we reaching the gag factor...?

Washington's focus has shifted from fiscal issues to more narrow concerns backed vociferously by social conservatives: the Terri Schiavo case, the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations and, most of all, the fate of the Senate's ability to filibuster judicial nominees.

the gist of the washington post article is that this focus is driving moderates away from supporting the r's...

"I'm inclined to support the Republican Party, but the question becomes, how much other stuff do I have to put up with to maintain that identification?" asked Andrew A. Samwick, a Dartmouth College economics professor who until recently was chief economist of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers.

how much more do we ALL have to put up with, professor...? and maybe "the question becomes," how much more are we WILLING to put up with...?

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President Dobson speaks...

THIS (DOBSON) is the response i was waiting to hear and it's pretty much what i expected (and was afraid of)... like i said last night, we pretty much got a lose-lose deal... but, like the old saying goes, for frist, "if MAMA/DOBSON ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy..."
"This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats. Only three of President Bush’s nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it's business as usual for all the rest. The rules that blocked conservative nominees remain in effect, and nothing of significance has changed. Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice William Rehnquist would never have served on the U. S. Supreme Court if this agreement had been in place during their confirmations. The unconstitutional filibuster survives in the arsenal of Senate liberals.

"We are grateful to Majority Leader Frist for courageously fighting to defend the vital principle of basic fairness. That principle has now gone down to defeat. We share the disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment felt by millions of conservative Americans who helped put Republicans in power last November. I am certain that these voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust."

fair warning, you weak-kneed, spineless, craven cowards... well, no surprise he's pissed... it was clear from the get-go that it was the whole pie or nothing... sounds like he didn't scotch frist's presidential amibtions, tho'... you can be sure the pressure on all fronts from this guy and his minions will only be re-doubled... they've got an iou out there and, by cracky, they're gonna collect...

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Uh-oh... Here we go... The worst of the lot...

The Senate was [is] voting to end debate on Owen, currently a Texas Supreme Court justice, clearing the way for her to gain a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans.

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Monday, May 23, 2005

Same circus, different clowns

The Iraqi authorities are doing about as sloppy a job managing their oil wealth as the American authorities did in the months after the U.S.-led invasion, an international watchdog agency said on Monday.


The U.S. agency had turned over heavily edited audits to the board, stating that the deletions were made to protect trade secrets. An unedited version of the audit later surfaced, showing the deletions sought to conceal questionable billings.

In the new Iraqi oil audit by accounting giant KPMG, covering the period June 29 through Dec. 31, 2004, oil was still being smuggled, hard-to-trace barter transactions were continuing and contracts were still being granted on a noncompetitive basis without justification.

they were obviously trained well... sounds like another iraqi success to me... watch for bushco spin, coming soon to a tv screen near you...

and, on that cheerful note, goodnight, mrs. calabash, wherever you are... (a free visit to the blog of your choice to the first person who can tell me whose trademark sign-off that was...)

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Note to Condi and George... Read this...

i doubt seriously if george and condi would give a second's thought to the following, but, drawing from my limited experience, mr. lieven has a pretty good grasp on reality...
In the West, hostility toward Russian President Vladimir Putin stems from two beliefs: that Russia should move quickly toward Western-style democracy and that there is a strong, popular, liberal opposition ready to lead such a transformation. The first is mistaken, the second, pure fantasy. It will take at least a generation for Russia to build the foundation for a modern market economy and democracy. It’s an uncomfortable reality, but, for the foreseeable future, only a semiauthoritarian government such as Putin’s can keep Russia moving in the right direction. If Putin weren’t there, we’d soon miss him.

the problem, of course, with "semiauthoritarian" governments is they get caught up in their own power and when you have an ex-heavy duty kgb guy like putin at the helm, the risk is commensurately greater... the point is still a good one, however... case in point: putin was obliged to crack down on the likes of khodorkovsky because if he didn't, he'd have the yeltsin version of the wild west to deal with all over again...

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Follow-on to Swedish "Extraordinary Rendition" Story

i posted on this just the other day... interestingly enough, nothing about the U.N.'s Convention Against Torture was mentioned in the Washington Post article...

Sweden has violated international law by sending a suspected terrorist to Egypt where he was tortured, the U.N.'s Committee Against Torture has concluded.

When Sweden forcibly returned an asylum seeker and suspected terrorist, Ahmed Agiza, to Egypt in December 2001, it violated the Convention Against Torture, the committee said Friday at the end of twice-yearly sessions in Geneva.

Despite prior assurances by Egyptian diplomats of his safety, Agiza was subsequently tortured in Egypt, the committee said. The convention forbids the transfer of persons to places where there are substantial grounds to believe he or she may be tortured, even in times of war and emergency.


U.S. intelligence operatives at the airport had pressured Swedish authorities to return Agiza to Egypt along with another suspect, Mohammed al-Zari, and that both men were physically abused before being sent to Egypt.

A March report by the Swedish chief parliamentary ombudsman also found that the Swedish security service and airport police ''displayed a remarkable sub-ordinance to the American officials'' and ''lost control of the situation,'' leading to the ill-treatment before the men were transported to Cairo.

"despite prior assurances of his safety..." like i said in the earlier post, if humane treatment is the goal, what's the point of rendition...? oh, yeah... and, btw, it's a violation of international law, assurances or not...
The Committee is scheduled to meet again in November to review reports from Ecuador, Austria, France, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guyana, and possibly the United States.

if the u.s. is reviewed, i wonder if it will get any media coverage... probably not...

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A bit more background on the Argentina education protest

i posted on the various strikes staged in argentina last week - teachers, bank clerks, fishermen, car workers, animal health service workers, theater employees, university lecturers, and high school students... here's a little bit more background on the education portion of the strikes, namely the teachers and the high school students (a couple of whom i happen to know)...

In a strike called by the Confederation of Education Sector Workers of Argentina (CTERA), thousands of public school teachers walked out on their jobs around the country and gathered in the capital, where they marched on Congress, calling for government spending on education to be raised from four to six percent of gross domestic product (GDP) within the next three years.

The march coincided with the culmination of protests staged by secondary school students in the capital. On Thursday, students held sit-ins in schools around the city to denounce the dire physical and hygienic conditions they are forced to endure, which include cracked and crumbling walls and ceilings, infestations of rodents, and water and gas shortages.

what's particularly complicating about the situation is that a law adopted in 1993 transferred all jurisdiction for public schools from the federal government to the provincial governments, the consequence of which has been that children are taught a different curriculum in every province, teachers' salaries have wide disparities, and physical facilities have seriously deteriorated... all of this has been greatly aggravated, of course, by the late 2001 financial and economic meltdown which plunged over half of Argentina's 37 million inhabitants below the poverty line... although the last two years have brought a certain degree of economic recovery, there's a long way to go...

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Win-Win...? No... Don't think so.. Lose-Lose...? Yeah, probably...

Centrists Republicans and Democrats reached a compromise Monday night to avoid a showdown on President Bush's stalled judicial nominees and the Senate's own filibuster rules, officials from both parties said. [...] These officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the agreement would clear the way for yes-or-no votes on some of Bush's nominees, but make no guarantee.

Under the agreement, Democrats would pledge not to filibuster any of Bush's future appeals court or Supreme Court nominees except in "extraordinary circumstances."

For their part, Republicans agreed not to support an attempt to strip Democrats of their right to block votes.

Under the agreement, Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen, nominated to a seat on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, would advance to a final confirmation vote.

i dunno how i feel about this... seems to me that a lot more water's gonna hafta flow under the bridge before it becomes clear whether or not this "deal" has any benefit to progressives... i can't imagine president dobson is gonna be terribly thrilled with it either... the deal is in the grand tradition of compromise - split the difference - which basically means both sides lose... the fact that priscilla owen is apparently going to be confirmed gives me stomach cramps... and, if the rumor that frist is gonna call for a vote on bolton on wednesday or thursday is true, it could be a pretty grim week...

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Bush -1; Karzai - 0

President George W Bush has ruled out handing over command of US troops in Afghanistan to the government there. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he would demand the move during talks with Mr Bush at the White House. [...] "Our troops will respond to US commanders," Mr Bush told journalists, when pressed on the issue.

are we surprised...? you can only imagine what RUMMY had to say on the issue... "%#!&*!$@...!!"

but, keeping up appearances...


[T]he two men began their remarks to journalists by strongly praising each other. "I've got great faith in this man as a leader," Mr Bush said.

"... and my great faith in him will continue as long as I call the shots...!"

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Ruh-ro - Hugo's gettin' feisty...

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he will consider breaking diplomatic ties with the US if it fails to hand over a Cuban-born terror suspect.

Venezuela says Luis Posada Carriles must stand trial over the 1976 bombing of Cuba's plane that killed 73 people.

Mr Chavez says Washington would be guilty of protecting international terrorism if it refused extradition.

Mr Posada Carriles - the 77-year-old former CIA employee - was charged last week with illegal entry into the US.

goodness gracious... a FORMER CIA EMPLOYEE... my, my...
He said Caracas would decide "if it['s] worth having an embassy in the United States, wasting money, or for the United States to have an embassy here".

"It is difficult, very difficult, to maintain ties with a government that so shamelessly hides and protects international terrorism," Mr Chavez said.

the pieces of the latin american chessboard are now offically in play... (see my oas post from earlier today...) so, where's condi when you need her...? shopping for ferragamo shoes, no doubt... ~snark~

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Homophobe alert...!

Representatives of the nation's top psychiatric group approved a statement Sunday urging legal recognition of gay marriage. If approved by the association's directors in July, the measure would make the American Psychiatric Association the first major medical group to take such a stance. The statement supports same-sex marriage "in the interest of maintaining and promoting mental health."

i remember clearly when the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) was revised by the APA (American Psychiatric Association) to no longer classify homosexuality as a mental disorder...

promoting the legal recognition of gay marriage is a logical extension of that view altho' it's taken them since 1980 to get there...

now, thanks to a source whose name escapes me, i offer this mental picture for your consideration and enjoyment - james dobson of focus on the family reading this interesting piece of news with DONALD DUCK STEAM coming out of his ears...

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Condi for prez...? ~forms cross with two index fingers~

Political associates of Secretary of State Condi Rice are stirring the 2008 presidential pot on her behalf. While she takes the high road, they're pushing her name out there. "She definitely wants to be president," said one. But, the friend added, Rice isn't planning on quitting to run. "She wants to be drafted," he said.

i've posted this same snark before but, imho, it's good enough for an early summer re-run...


Condoleeza Rice<><><>Ferragamo Shoe

when condi first came on the scene as bush's national security adviser, i read a profile that said she wore ONLY ferragamo shoes... well, not ALWAYS... on her first big european trip as secretary of state, you may recall, she swept around russia in a pair of high-heeled boots... now, i am REALLY betraying my age here but i can't help recall a (very old) nancy sinatra song, "these boots were made for walkin' ~cue the thump, thump, thump of heavy bass~ and that's just what they'll do ~cue the thump, thump, thump of heavy bass~ these boots were make for walkin' and they're gonna WALK ALL OVER YOU...!"


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I live in Nevada and I'm PROUD of Harry Reid

Progress for America, the well-funded nonprofit group that launched a nationwide field organization to build support for President Bush's Social Security plan, said it has bought $50,000 in time on Las Vegas TV stations through Tuesday to call attention to the description of the president that Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) delivered on May 6.

"Harry Reid calls President Bush, quote, 'a loser,'" the announcer says. "Reid calls Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan 'a hack.' . . . Is this the same Harry Reid we've come to know? What ever happened to Harry?"

little-known fact... las vegas just so happens to be a strong democratic enclave in this otherwise-republican state... i am also just a bit, shall we say, ANNOYED about pfa's tax-free status given this obvious partisan political ploy... from their website...

As a nonprofit corporation and exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, PFA promotes nonpartisan, conservative policies that improve the quality of life for the American people.

~nudge, nudge, wink, wink~

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Washington Post...? THRUSTING into the public eye...? PUH-LEEZE...

The question of prewar intelligence has been thrust back into the public eye with the disclosure of a secret British memo showing that, eight months before the March 2003 start of the war, a senior British intelligence official reported to Prime Minister Tony Blair that U.S. intelligence was being shaped to support a policy of invading Iraq.

who the hell is doing this THRUSTING i'd like to know... it sure as hell hasn't been the washington post... i posted on this story way back on APRIL 30 when the london sunday times broke the story in their MAY 1 edition... ~checks calendar~ and it's NOW MAY 22...? it took the u.s. media TEN FRIGGIN' DAYS to break the story here... thrusting...? THRUSTING...? i don't think so...

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Brooks bites the big green weenie - again (with canned reply)

here "was" the deal...
The Democrats would allow votes on a few of the blocked judicial nominees (Priscilla Owen, William Pryor and Janice Rogers Brown, I'm told). In exchange the Republicans would drop a couple of the nominees (probably Henry Saad and William Myers).

The Democrats would promise not to use the filibuster, except under extreme circumstances. The Republicans would promise not to exercise the nuclear option except under extreme circumstances.

That was the deal, and a very fair one, too. But of course these are moderates.


As we descend down this path, the moderates are being serenaded for their valiant efforts to find a compromise. I'm all for valiant efforts, but why do the independent types always have to be so ineffectual? Why do they always have to play their accustomed role: well-intentioned roadkill?

[M]any moderates are simply people who feel cross-pressured by different political forces, and their instinctive response is to shrink from pressure. They lack spirit to take risks, to actually lead.

These 12 senators believe the looming nuclear showdown will be terrible for their institution. They had a deal within their grasp that would have headed this off, a deal that was just and fair: up or down votes for nominees and respect for minority rights. But as I write, they haven't been able to put it together.

No more sweetheart press for the responsible middle. Put up or shut up.

fair, my ass... brooks is an asshole... you'd think, reading his articulate prose, that he had some idea of what he's talking about... but then you start actually THINKING about what you're reading...

(emailed to

Mr. Brooks,

I'm all for moderation and reason. I'm all for finding a workable middle ground. I'm all for courage, conviction, and spine. But, sadly, by conveniently ignoring the Republicans' jaw-dropping power grab in their attempt to put the cap on a one-party state, the staggering implications for separation of church and state of confirming the most extremist of the Christian fundamentalist judges who will be holding sway for an unforeseeable number of years to come, the abrogation of constitutional checks and balances by giving a blank check to the executive branch, the destruction of the Senate as our only truly deliberative body, and the arrogant, in-your-face, "I-dare-you" attitude of the president in re-nominating previously rejected judicial candidates, your oh-so-reasonable plea for moderates to "put up or shut up," is the most bogus piece of journalism I have read in, well, forever.


[Brooks auto-reply]

Dear friend,

Thanks very much for sending a response to my column, positive or negative. I'm afraid I can't respond to each message. My editors would wonder why I have no time to write for the paper. But I do read every e-mail, and I frequently learn from them.

So, again, thanks,
David Brooks

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The OAS has always been a U.S. front group

and even though the U.S. nominee for OAS (Organization of American States), Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Ernest Derbez, was rejected in favor of Chile´s Interior Minister José Miguel Insulza, the US has already started arm-twisting...


An American proposal to create a committee at the Organization of American States that would monitor the quality of democracy and the exercise of power in Latin America is facing a hostile reception from many countries in part because it is being viewed as a thinly veiled effort to attack Venezuela.

ya think...? but, not to worry...

Roger F. Noriega, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs and a principal architect of the proposal, said in an interview this week that [...] "I am determined that it not be regarded as some kind of effort to isolate Venezuela."

o-o-o-ok... now, let's skip down a few paragraphs...

"The elected governments that do not govern democratically should be held accountable by the O.A.S.," he said as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stood beside him. Ms. Rice and other American officials had wrested that remark from him in exchange for American support for his candidacy.

oh, ok... so there wasn't any pressure...

meanwhile, the OTHER (lesser?) members of the OAS (presumably those who didn't have condi standing next to them, threatening to stomp them with her high-heeled boots if they talked out of line), had some THOUGHTS OF THEIR OWN...

"This explanation is going to be impossible to sell to any adult human being," said Rodolfo Hugo Gil, the Argentine ambassador to the Organization of American States.

Jorge Chen, the Mexican ambassador, said, "I don't think this idea will pass." Some Latin American ambassadors say they fear that the new committee will turn into a star chamber, where ministers would summon representatives of certain countries for interrogation and criticism.

aw, c'mon guys, that's the WHOLE DAMN POINT...

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One more time - Thank goodness for Frank Rich

But if something good can come out of something bad, the administration's overkill of Newsweek may focus greater public attention on just how much it is using press-bashing to deflect attention from the fictions spun by its own propaganda machine.

oh, yeah...

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Speaking of blogs...

here's another blog i've finally gotten around to taking a look at... steve gilliard does a daily news review and i was captured by his comment regarding the simmering controversy over whether or not u.s. soldiers in iraq are targeting journalists...

I don't think the US is murdering reporters as part of a campaign in Iraq
. [...] What I think no one wants to come to grips with is that the US has a shoot first, ask no questions later [policy]. They don't just shoot reporters, they shoot everyone this way, store owners, drivers, kids who look at them funny, families.

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Quote of the day

i've just started visiting the site of juan cole, a professor of history at the university of michigan... i see his writings referenced a lot in other blogs that i respect so i thought i'd take a johnny-come-lately look... for starters...

All religions produce fanatics at the same rate. It is a constant.

looks like i may be a regular visitor...

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