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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 06/19/2005 - 06/26/2005
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Save your breath, fratboy...

President George Bush will make a primetime appeal to Americans next week to shore up dwindling domestic support for the war in Iraq, where insurgents have inflicted one of their deadliest attacks in months on US forces.

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It's looking like a recess appointment for Bolton

if bush makes a recess appointment, he's signaling two things: 1) he acknowledges that he put forward a candidate incapable of garnering sufficient bipartisan support for confirmation and 2) he doesn't care that visibly "damaged goods" will assume the important role of u.s. ambassador to the u.n... both signals embody bushco's incredible disregard for the role and responsibility of the senate in these matters, a willful disdain of the separation of powers, and an arrogant, unilateral approach to foreign policy...
The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Friday that it would be a mistake for the White House to bend further to Democratic demands related to John R. Bolton's handling of intelligence material.

In an interview, the chairman, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, said he now expected that President Bush would grant a recess appointment to Mr. Bolton, whose nomination as ambassador to the United Nations has been blocked by Senate Democrats for more than a month.

Some other Republican senators, including Trent Lott of Mississippi, have said in recent days that Mr. Bush should provide the Democrats with information they have requested related to Mr. Bolton's access to the names of American individuals and companies mentioned in highly classified intelligence reports based on communications intercepted by the National Security Agency.

Mr. Roberts had sought until now to serve as an intermediary between the White House and Senate Democrats in the matter. But he said he believed that the administration had gone far enough, and that a recess appointment expiring in January 2007 and perhaps renominated after that, would be preferable to the potential security risks of providing Congress with wider access to names in the N.S.A. reports.

a "mistake to bend further...?" FURTHER...? aw, c'mon... bending implies flexibility... that crowd can't BEND... if they did, they'd break...

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Froomkin: Rove is "brilliant..."

i say rove is brilliant... i also say he is evil... i believe that every single word that comes out of the mouths of bush, cheney, rove, rumsfeld, and the whole damn lot of 'em are carefully thought out, checked against an overall master strategy, committed to memory, and thoroughly practiced before ever visiting a public ear... i've seen many, many comments declaring that rove is nothing but a pathological political hack... i don't think so and, evidently, neither does dan froomkin...
There are at least two reasons why no one should expect any apologies from Karl Rove or the White House for Rove's controversial comments Tuesday night, in which he described the liberal approach to national security as being weak and possibly even treasonous.

1) This White House doesn't apologize.

2) Why apologize when you said exactly what you meant to say?

Karl Rove didn't get George W. Bush this far just by luck. Rove has a brilliant and so far unbeatable strategy when it comes to political warfare: He doesn't defend his candidate's weaknesses, he attacks his opponent's strengths. Unapologetically.

and, ya know what...? it's working... discussions of the downing street memo, bolton, iraq, delay, and all the other bushco fuck-ups have disappeared, literally overnight, from the blogs and the msm... i said a long time ago that my only hope for bush's second term was that the devil would come early to collect the marker karl gave him on his soul...

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Polarized...? Nah...

via jerome a paris and kos, we can see some truly jaw-dropping numbers in the recent american research group poll on the national economy...
Among Republicans (36% of adults registered to vote in the survey), 84% approve of the way Bush is handling his job and 12% disapprove. Among Democrats (38% of adults registered to vote in the survey), 18% approve and 77% disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job. Among Independents (26% of adults registered to vote in the survey), 17% approve and 75% disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job as president.

let's re-cap...

  • 84% OF REPUBLICANS APPROVE of bush's handling of his job
paraphrasing one of atrios' favorites, great jumping jeebus on a cracker...! no wonder no one's talking to anyone else... the other eye-popping figure is how many independents now disapprove...



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"Extraordinary rendition" doesn't fly in Italy

our high-handed ways aren't everyone's cup of espresso...
Italian authorities said Friday they have issued arrest warrants against 13 American intelligence operatives, charging that they kidnapped a radical Islamic cleric as he walked to a mosque here two years ago, held him hostage at two U.S. military bases and then covertly flew him to Cairo. He later said he was tortured by Egyptian security police.

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Friday, June 24, 2005

Bolton update - Well, well, well...

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joseph Biden, said on Thursday the White House had to provide information Democrats seek on U.N. nominee John Bolton by the end of the day or the nomination would be dead.

"If they don't have (the documents) by the end of the day, it's finished," the Delaware Democrat said of the bitter dispute over President Bush's choice to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

i would love to believe that "finished" really means FINISHED rather than leaving the door open for a recess appointment...

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Karl Rove as Sensei

Oh My God. Kristen Breitweiser, 9/11 widow, rips Karl a new one over at The Huffington Post.
Now Karl, a question for you, since you seem to be the nation's self-styled sensei with regard to 9/11: Is Usama Bin Laden still important? Lately, your coterie of friends seems to be giving out mixed messages. Recall that in the early days, Bin Laden was wanted “dead or alive.” Then when Bin Laden slipped through your fingertips in Tora Bora, you downgraded his importance. We were told that Bin Laden was a "desperate man on the run,” and a person that President Bush was not "too worried about". Yet, whenever I saw Bin Laden's videos, he looked much too comfortable to actually be a man on the run. He looked tan, rested, and calm. He certainly didn't look the way I wanted the murderer of almost 3,000 innocent people to look: unkempt, panicked, and cowering in a corner.

Karl, I mention Bin Laden because recently Director of the CIA, Porter Goss, has mentioned that he knows exactly where Bin Laden is located but that he cannot capture him for fear of offending sovereign nations. Which frankly, I find ironic because of Iraq--and let's just leave it at that. But, when you say that “moderation and restraint” don't work in fighting terrorists, maybe you should share those comments with Mr. Goss because he doesn't seem to be on the same page as you. Unless of course, Porter is holding out to announce that Bin Laden is in Iran. (Karl, I want Bin Laden brought to justice, but not if it means starting a war with Iran - a country that possesses nuclear weaponry. The idea of nuclear fallout in any quadrant of the world is just not an acceptable means to any ends, be it capturing Bin Laden, oil or drugs. But, Afghanistan and Bin Laden are old news. Iraq is the story of today. And of course, it appears that Iran will be the story of next month. But, I digress.)

More to the point, Karl when you say, “Conservatives saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and prepared for war,” what exactly did you do to prepare for your war? Did your preparations include: sound intelligence to warrant your actions; a reasonable entry and exit strategy coupled with a coherent plan to carry out that strategy; the proper training and equipment for the troops you were sending in to fight your war? Did you follow the advice of experts such as General Shinseki who correctly advised you about the troop levels needed to actually succeed in Iraq? No, you didn't.

Read it all.

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Shoot the messenger

how very predictable... now that we've fully entered into the orwellian era of mind-control and oppression of opposing viewpoints, it only makes sense that the r's are now attacking the international committee of the red cross (icrc)... why would we expect otherwise...?
The Senate Republican Policy Committee said in a report that the international humanitarian organisation had ”lost its way” and veered from the impartiality on which its reputation was based.

The report -- ”Are American Interests Being Disserved by the International Committee of the Red Cross?” -- follows criticism by the Swiss-based group of U.S. treatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Republican report called on the Bush administration to ask the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review Red Cross operations, noting that the U.S. funds 28 percent of the group's budget and has contributed 1.5 billion dollars since 1990.

A Senate source denied that the report was motivated by a desire to punish the ICRC for embarrassing the United States on its treatment of prisoners. In the aftermath of the prison abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and elsewhere, the role of the ICRC has grown in importance, some experts said.

"denied the report was motivated by a desire to punish...?" puh-leeze...
Beau Grosscup, professor of international relations at the University of California, told IPS, ”This Republican effort makes sense only if one assumes that violating people's civil and human rights (including torture) is in U.S. interests.”

”If so, it is true that those such as the ICRC who are upholding their mandate and mission by investigating and then publicising their findings of violation indeed are working against U.S. interests.”

look out, professor grosscup, you're next...

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Dear Karl

just a thought...
June 24, 2005

Karl Rove
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Rove,

I have observed your activities with no small degree of fascination for the past several years and, with apologies for the presumption, feel I know you reasonably well. Your intellectual capacity is formidable as is your ability to think in long-term scenarios and to match them with effective strategies. You are clearly a textbook example of a “driven” man, and while I could speculate on the source of those inner drivers, I won’t.

While I am sure you don’t need anyone to stoke your ego, I concluded some time ago that you are perhaps the most dangerous man in America. Everywhere I look, I see evidences of your handiwork even though you have been particularly careful to leave a plausible deniability distance of 3-4 people and an equal number of organizations in between. The man you serve, President Bush, is doubtlessly a smart man in his own right but I am also quite certain that, without you in the background, he wouldn’t have stood a chance of getting where he is today.

While this may sound grandiose and over-the-top, I see you as the personification of darkness. Anyone whose principal mission in life is to sow divisiveness and fear, Mr. Rove, is working to remove the light from this world. While there are many who might disagree with me on that assessment, I am firm.

My hope for you, especially in light of the current controversy regarding your comments made the other day in New York, is that you will take a moment to reflect on whether it is really darkness that you want to spread. You are in a unique position, perhaps the most powerful un-elected position in the history of the United States, to empower light rather than darkness. What a difference that would make in today’s world! Listen to your conscience. It will tell you what you need to do.

Best regards,

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Rove: john at americablog reads my mind

yep... i couldn't have said it better myself... thanks john...
I have fucking had it with this White House. This is a story that we do NOT let die, people. Karl Rove's sorry ass needs to leave that White House or the Democrats in Congress shouldn't let ONE PIECE OF REPUBLICAN LEGISLATION ADVANCE, EVER AGAIN.

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The earth has shifted on its axis

I never, not in a million years, thought I would be siding with the likes of Scalia, Thomas, Rehnquist and O'Connor.

High court OKs personal property seizures

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses -- even against their will -- for private economic development.


The 5-4 ruling represented a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes to generate tax revenue.

Local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community, justices said.


Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who has been a key swing vote on many cases before the court, issued a stinging dissent. She argued that cities should not have unlimited authority to uproot families, even if they are provided compensation, simply to accommodate wealthy developers.


"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," O'Connor wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

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Under cover of the Rove flap, DeLay and Abramoff

so astounding are these comments by sen. john mccain and sen. byron dorgan, they need to be left completely intact... (thanks to the progress report...)
In his opening statement from yesterday's Senate Indian Affairs committee hearings, Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) stated, "From our first hearing emerged the utter contempt that Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Scanlon held for their tribal clients. In the second, Mr. Abramoff's and Mr. Scanlon's insatiable greed came to the fore. Today's hearing is about more than contempt, even more than greed; it's simply and sadly a tale of betrayal." Sen. McCain's summation encapsulates how Tom DeLay ally and uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff worked "separately and in concert with [his partner and former spokesman for DeLay] Michael Scanlon" to bilk six Indian tribes out of millions of dollars. Yesterday's hearings -- the third in a series of investigations by the committee -- divulged even more details as to the underhanded scheming perpetrated by the duo. So astounding were the revelations that committee vice-chairman Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), who has served over two decades in the Senate, described it as "a disgusting story of greed unlike any that I have seen in my service in Congress." [Ed. note: all unattributed quotes are from hearing transcript, not yet available online]

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Absolutely unbelievable - Rove is evil...

i can't count the number of times i've said that i believe that karl rove is the most dangerous man in america... (a few just for starters, here, here, and here...) now, he's gone and shown us all just what a vile a man he is...
"Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Rove said. "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war.... Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said we must understand our enemies.... No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals," Rove said.

i've been pooh-pooh'd for giving rove too much credit but my gut has always told me that this man is evil... his combination of intellectual genius and ruthless malevolence is truly appalling and his fingerprints are all over every nasty machination perpetrated by bushco... john at americablog is outraged, atrios is outraged, senator harry reid is outraged, I am outraged, and WE SHOULD ALL BE OUTRAGED... CALL, WRITE, FAX, EMAIL, VISIT YOUR SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN, WRITE TO PRESIDENT BUSH, AND DEMAND THAT THIS MAN RESIGN...!

Senator Harry Reid's response:

“I am deeply disturbed and disappointed that the Bush White House would continue to use the national tragedy of September 11th to try and divide the country. The lesson our country learned on that terrible morning is that we are strongest when we unite together, that America’s power is in its common spirit of democracy and freedom.

“Karl Rove should immediately and fully apologize for his remarks or he should resign. The lesson of September 11th is not different for conservatives, liberals or moderates. It is equally shared and was repeatedly demonstrated in the weeks and months following this tragedy as Americans of all backgrounds and their elected representatives rallied behind the victims and their families, united in our common determination to bring to justice those responsible for these terrible attacks.

“It is time to stop using September 11th as a political wedge issue. Dividing our country for political gain is an insult to all Americans and to the common memory we all carry with us from that day. When it comes to standing up to terrorists, there are no Republicans or Democrats, only Americans. The Administration should be focused on uniting Americans behind our troops and providing them a strategy for success in the war on terror and the conflict in Iraq. I hope the president will join me in repudiating these remarks and urge Mr. Rove to take appropriate action to right this terrible wrong.”

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Bolton - the telenovela continues

i don't think anyone thought that filling the u.s. ambassadorship to the u.n. was going to turn out to be a watershed event for the bush administration... i've posted extensively on bolton (here, here, here, and here, among many others) but no one has done a better job of staying on top of the details, making the right contacts, and clearly reporting the situation than steve clemons at the washington note... (go visit steve here for the latest...)

bushco has proposed and been supported on a number of other, equally bad, candidates for major offices but, it turns out, none of them have been as blatantly noxious as john bolton (view this video)... when the real character of bolton began to emerge in the foreign relations committee hearings, the scales started to fall off lots of eyes, a number of which belonged to republican senators...


as the thick plottened (sorry, i just have to throw in something off the wall every once in a while), suspicions were raised that bolton was more than he appeared and very likely operated as a bush/rove/cheney litmus-tested plant in the state department who felt he had license to do whatever it took to keep the troika happy... the deeper the senators dug, the more sordid the tales that emerged, the most sordid of which suggested that bolton was actually spying on other administration officials...

in the meantime, the arrogant, megalomanical troika characteristically refused to budge even though their boy was slowly turning radioactive... they continued playing psychological games with the media, issuing statements like "bolton's confirmation is assured," and denying the senators' request for release of the very documents that could speed the nomination to passage (or scuttle it)... the senators, now rightfully indignant that information crucial to their advise and consent role is being withheld, have their backs up... most interesting of all, several of them are republicans...

it's so typical of bushco to play chicken... maybe this time, they're not going to be able to get out of the way of the train in time...

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What the hell, let's make it 4x on Iraq

i've seen this posted on several other blogs today but the irony is overwhelming... irony... what an interesting word... it sounds so positively high-falutin', as my grandma used to say... it may be the right word for the following story but i'm afraid it just doesn't quite conjure up the right sand-in-the-vaseline image...
The CIA believes the Iraq insurgency poses an international threat and may produce better-trained Islamic terrorists than the 1980s Afghanistan war that gave rise to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, a U.S. counterterrorism official said on Wednesday.

A classified report from the U.S. spy agency says Iraqi and foreign fighters are developing a broad range of deadly skills, from car bombings and assassinations to tightly coordinated conventional attacks on police and military targets, the official said.

Once the insurgency ends, Islamic militants are likely to disperse as highly organized battle-hardened combatants capable of operating throughout the Arab-speaking world and in other regions including Europe.

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Operation Yellow Elephant

apropos of the previous post and thanks to jesus' general, the ever-vigilant gen. jc christian, patriot... (and, yes, this makes 3x today on iraq...)



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2x in one day on Iraq

but this is so absolutely right on and so very well said that i need to put it here in full... thanks to kos for the link and to steve gilliard of the news blog for not beating around the bush... (pardon the pun...)
This will be brief.

We need to be honest here: Iraq is not worth one more dead American.

People on the right and left want some deus ex machina to save Iraq, but we have., collectively, come to a simple conclusion:

Iraq is not worth dying for. Not for the warmongers on the right or the liberal hawks on the left.

It's bad the soldiers are trapped there, but we have made it their problem, No one is willingly going to join them, and 5,000 have deserted so far.

When you ask liberal hawks to enlist, they are offended by the question.

When you ask conservatives to enlist, they are offended by the question.

And America's parents are NOT sending their kids to die in Iraq if they can, at all, help it. No one blows up IED's at Wal Mart.

We have a volunteer army with fewer and fewer volunteers, and people reenlisting only to save their friends. There is a time limit to their ability to be in combat. They cannot serve forever. They will have to be replaced. And fewer and fewer are willing to replace them,

What I want people to do is be honest.

If you will not serve in Iraq, and no one you know will serve, stop expecting someone else to do what you will not.

Therefore, it is time to stop calling for more troops, or the US to make Iraq safe. We cannot do this and even Americans are refusing to join the fight. It is time to look at your actions and realize, that despite your ideals, you oppose continuing this war. In practical terms, you have decided that this war is not worth your life or anyone you know. And million of Americans have joined you in this decision.

So, with this fact evident, it is time to call for US troops to withdraw from Iraq. Not save it, not add more boots on the ground. You have already voted by your actions. It is time that you match it with your words.

makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up just reading it...

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The U.S. and the Latin American "axis of evil"

i've been posting on the evolving posture of the u.s. vis a vis latin america (here, here, here, and here)... too bad that, like so many important issues, it's getting precious little attention from the u.s. msm...

after the u.s. was thwarted in its choice for oas director general and then threw its support behind the popular choice, chile's insulza, on the condition that he back a u.s. proposal to the oas calling for unified "support" for democracy in the region, which insulza nominally embraced and then later recanted at the oas summit two weeks ago in miami, details began to emerge about what position the u.s. has been crafting toward latin america... no surprise, the cornerstone of the policy is the "war on terror," which translated reads, "the u.s. intends to maintain control of the world's energy resources..." it's a disturbing picture and one to keep an eye on...

Latin America is a continent that is drifting left, out of U.S. control. Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's outspoken president, embodies this continental drift with his anti-imperialist rhetoric. It's a shift away from Pax Americana that is occurring both at the ballot box and in the streets, as elected leaders in Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina defy Washington and attempt to chart independent political and economic paths. [...] Soon after the launch of the war on terror, leading Republicans warned that the problem in Latin America came from a regional axis of evil that ran from Cuba through Venezuela and down to Brazil.


Porter Goss, warned the House Armed Services Committee the drift to the left might be even more pronounced following eight presidential elections scheduled in 2006 in countries with strong center-left candidates, like in Mexico.

Any ”destabilisation or a backslide from democratic principles,” said Goss, ”would not be helpful to our interests and would probably be threatening to our security in the long run.”

Meanwhile, Southcom -- one of the five U.S. military commands that span the globe -- is adapting to the changes in its ”Area of Responsibility”, which includes all of Latin America and the Caribbean. In the past few months, it has released a new ”theatre command strategy” and a new ”posture statement” by Southcom's commander.


Both statements frame regional security issues as part of the ”global war on terror.” But running through them is an evident, although not explicitly stated, concern that the United States is losing control of its own hemisphere.

Also evident are the politics of self-delusion -- seen in statements that ignore the reality of the failed drug war, the anti-democratic character of U.S. policy, and the simple fact that the U.S. government and its armed forces continue to be more part of the problems in Latin America than part of the solution.


In the near future, Southcom will focus on seven objectives, two of which remain classified.

The five unclassified objectives extend far beyond measures that directly or indirectly would bolster U.S. homeland security. Objective number one is to guarantee that ”regional energy supplies will flow freely into international markets and will not be targets of aggression.”

Essential to meeting this security objective, says Southcom, is improving the ability of ”partner nation security forces to protect critical infrastructure” of the energy industry in the region.

"improving the ability of partner nation security forces..." dontcha just love military-speak...? just say it, guys... we're gonna make sure you have the troops, the equipment, and the training to help us help you help us do what we want... are we all clear...? good...

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A perspective on Iraq

i have refrained from posting much on iraq, other than on the downing street memo, first of all because there's plenty of stuff out there already and also, quite frankly, because it's tantamount to scratching at a scab on a rather nasty sore on my psyche... whatever our so-called "motives" were for going there in the first place, there is no doubt whatsoever that we have taken a bad situation and made it worse... my personal view is that bush deliberately used iraq as a distraction from an inability to capture bin laden and the failing u.s. economy... the facts that he could out-macho his father, depose a "bad guy," and gain control over yet more of the world supply of oil were all gravy... now, all we can do is sit and watch in horror as more lives are lost, american and iraqi, and the wonderful "flowering of democracy" in the middle east gets trampled in the dust... let's face it, folks... when it comes to iraq, we're hosed...
If the constitution is rejected, new elections will follow and the process will start all over again, which may be an attractive option for the Sunnis who feel seriously underrepresented, and for the insurgents who could see a chance to wreak more havoc.

Ironically, it may also suit the Bush Administration since it would give the United States more reason to keep its troops in Iraq. Following a dip in support for the war among Americans, some lawmakers have demanded an early exit, by the beginning of next year. The Administration has rejected this.

Even without all this, it would be hard to see whether Iraqis can ever draw up a constitution that will reconcile the positions of all groups. Unfortunately this has little to do with high-minded demands and more with a fight over the division of the spoils.

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Friedman doesn't get it

Just shaking my head this morning. Thomas Friedman's column says that George Bush is only catering to the far right, not because he is a right-wing idealogue, but because Dick Cheney isn't running for President.
No, George Bush has a different V.P. problem. It is the fact that his vice president has made clear that he is not running for president after Mr. Bush's term expires in 2008. So Mr. Bush has no heir apparent. And that explains, in part, why his second term is drifting aimlessly, disconnected from the problems facing the country.

"If President Bush had a vice president, or someone who was clearly designated as heir apparent to his administration, [the president] would have a more immediate incentive to widen his political base, to offer policies that would appeal more to the center," argued Don Baer, a former senior adviser to President Clinton. But if one looks at the sorts of policies that Mr. Bush has chosen, or not chosen, for his second term, it suggests that Mr. Bush "is not thinking of the bigger implications" for three years down the road, Mr. Baer added.

So you see, it's Cheney's fault his boss is such an ass. The only problem is, Friedman asserts, is that Dick Cheney isn't running, therefore George has no incentive to govern from the center. Excuse me? When has Bush ever governed from the center? His is an administration whose "my way or the highway" approach has worked so far, so why should he change? George Bush reminds me of a five-year-old who knows that if he just keeps bugging his mom for candy, ("Mom! Mom! Mom! C'mon, please, please, please...Mom....I want it. Mom!! Mom!!!") that sooner or later she will just get weary of the whole thing and give him the candy, all the while vowing that next time she won't be cowed. Until the next time, that is. And George knows this. Friedman seems to think that if there were someone else whose fortunes Bush was concerned with that certainly he would be more prudent in his governance and that he would actually tack to the center and really work on solving our national problems. Oh Thomas, Thomas, Thomas. It just isn't so. For George, it's always about him. No one, not even Dick Cheney, is of consequence to him.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Mpls Star Tribune hits hard on Guantanamo

i love it a lot when a major metro daily pulls itself together into full-tilt indignation with brilliantly clear rhetoric... i love it even better when they're right on the money...
The issue of whether Durbin's rhetoric crossed a line is small potatoes compared with the undeniable truth that American treatment of its prisoners has crossed many, many lines -- of morality, of international law, of practical benefit.

But instead of discussing what goes on at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and other prison camps, the right would prefer to get into a senseless argument about whether "we" are better than the Nazis or Saddam Hussein or the Soviets or Pol Pot or whomever a critic of Guantanamo might raise as a comparison. It's a tactic the group running Washington now has used again and again: They're quite deliberately changing the subject -- from Guantanamo to words spoken on the Senate floor.

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Dean raises $$ (and hell) in Mass.

In a defiant speech at a party fund-raiser in Boston, Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean vowed yesterday to continue his fiery critique of the Republican Party and followed up with a pointed jab at Vice President Dick Cheney. ''We are going to be much tougher and in-your- face with the Republicans when they say things that aren't true," Dean said.

give 'em hell, howard... there's been a lot of things that need saying out loud and in public that haven't been getting said... if it takes some hard-edged rhetoric to get the drugged msm to pay attention, so be it...
''I don't care if Dick Cheney likes my mother or not; we are going to fight back," Dean told a boisterous crowd of about 300 Democrats at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. ''I think it's great that Dick Cheney went after me. At least they know there's a Democratic Party that's not going to put up with this stuff anymore. As the head of the Democratic Party, I will not be lectured about morals by Tom DeLay and Rush Limbaugh," he said.

damn right...

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WaPo on Bolton: Democrat obstructionists

the old cliche that there's a sucker born every minute certainly applies in the washington post's lead article today on the failure of the bolton nomination to achieve cloture in the senate yesterday... their headline, Democrats Block Vote On Bolton, could probably have been written by karl rove and perhaps was... steve clemons speculated yesterday...
Frist wants to try and paint Democrats opposing John Bolton as obstructionists, but the media covering the Bolton nomination are clearly not letting Frist have his way on that claim. The major media do get the reality that the White House has FAILED TO BUDGE on any of the three outstanding, legitimate document requests made by Senators of the Executive Branch.

reading that headline certainly doesn't indicate they "get the reality" of anything... the body of the article, thank goodness, is a bit more "balanced" (that term is becoming more odious by the day) but, if there's a slant, and there is, it's definitely toward sucking up to the white house by making the dems look like whiny little crybabies who only want to gum up the works while playing down the fact that bush is the real obstructionist who wants his way and his way only...
A senior White House official said last night that Bush will still press for a confirmation vote but has no plans for further compromises on documents and is considering a recess appointment.

senator joseph biden, who has also announced his candidacy for the democratic presidential nomination, did his own piece of grandstanding...
"It is totally unacceptable for the president of the United States . . . to try to dictate to the Senate how he, the president, thinks the Senate should proceed. . . . It is somewhat presumptuous, to say the least."

my best guess...? a recess appointment... such a move would be fully in keeping with the arrogant, unscrupulous, unrestrained mis-use of power demonstrated each and every day by the most malevolent presidential administration in u.s. history...

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Argentina's Kirchner to IMF: No courtship, no romance

the world bank, the imf, the g7, the u.s. treasury, and the large global lender banks (citi, hsbc, etc.), have worked for years to perpetuate economic servitude in their client nations in the name of free markets, private enterprise, democracy, rule of law, and so forth... what needs to be remembered is that argentina was the imf's "poster child" up until shortly before the financial collapse of 2001 followed by a flurry of finger-pointing (in argentina's direction, predictably) along the lines of "no, no, we told you to do it THIS way" and "if you had dealt with corruption like we TOLD you" and so on... then, to the astonishment of the global financial community, argentina made the decision to remain in default of its loans and to use the money accumulating from it's gradual recovery to benefit its CITIZENS first rather than re-pay the bigs... on the occasion of the national flag day, yesterday, argentine president nestor kirchner had this to say...
“Because I defend the fatherland’s interests.” President Néstor Kirchner lashed out at the International Monetary Fund yesterday saying he "refuses to court interests that have sunk us." Heading a ceremony in Rosario to celebrate Flag Day, Kirchner’s outburst came on the day that the IMF concluded an Article IV review of the Argentine economy, a standard annual procedure for IMF member countries. What set Kirchner off was a supposedly secret IMF document published yesterday by Clarín that is highly critical of "Kirchner’s political methods," and which is reported to have been written by IMF Western Hemisphere Director Anoop Singh, who is also responsible for the Argentine case. ‘‘The IMF focuses its attacks on me because I strongly defend the fatherland’s interests and refuse to court those interests that have permanently sunk us," Kirchner said.

there have been many, many more countries that have been similarly damaged by toeing the imf line who nevertheless continue to do so out of fear of losing access to development money... still, it needs to be said and i'm glad kirchner is saying it... no doubt it will get little to no coverage in the "first world..."

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Monday, June 20, 2005

More on the beast: United Airlines

i've been posting regularly on united airlines, sparked by the pension default and also by my all-too-intimate knowledge of their sleazy inner workings... the soon-to-be-emasculated npr did a story on june 17th as part of their religion and ethics series... it's not nearly as hard-hitting or as investigative as it should or could be given how much privilege corporations already enjoy in the u.s., how much license they take with it, and how much human debris gets left in their wake... but, hey, we're talking msm here, right...? and we were expecting maybe, what...? in-depth journalism...? a little taste...
Dr. SCOTT PAETH (Professor of Religious Studies, DePaul University): The key ethical issue that the pension action raises, from my perspective, has to do with the question of whether or not there are any obligations that exist between employers and employees anymore, or whether utilitarian considerations of what a corporation considers to be in its best interest are the only things that matter.

JUDY VALENTE (NPR Reporter): United employees have already agreed to give up about $3 billion in wage concessions a year for the next five years. That's why many employees thought their pensions were safe.

CATHY SAMPSON (International Association of Machinists): We feel cheated by this. We feel these were promises that were made to us. They were deferred wages. We earned it, we deserve it. We always thought it was going to be there, and now when we need it the most, we find out none of this is true, that we're not going to get this.

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after making the previous post, i headed out for eats and to see batman... it's a long movie so i just got back to see this great news...! steve clemons is sharing wine with some of those who helped him make an outstanding, on-going case against john bolton's nomination...

38 Oppose Cloture -- 54 Favor Cloture -- 60 Votes Needed to Get Cloture


again, according to steve...
John Bolton is the wrong person for the job. It was high-handed enough of the White House to appoint him, but even more high-handed for them to not yield on legitimate document requests from the Senate.

It will be even more high-handed if the Cheney-Bolton wing of the White House now pushes John Bolton into the U.N. with a recess appointment.

at least no one is rolling over for bushco on this one... i keep waiting for the tipping point... maybe we're gettin' close...

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Steve Clemons on Bolton: "We are winning!"

as i write this, it's 4:40, argentine time, and the bolton vote in the senate is less than two hours away... steve clemons took a look at the sports book odds on bolton's confirmation, tracking it from early may...
The Bolton market at is dropping dramatically. The chances of Bolton now getting through as Ambassador to the United Nations are measured by the market at 45% chance of confirmation.

This is amazing as he was considered quite likely, 95% likely at the end of May, and then hovered around 90% through early June -- after which it has been plummeting since.

We are winning.

but before i'm overcome with euphoria, steve also comments on the very real possibility of a recess appointment which would be bush's way of flipping the big, fat digit at the u.s. senate, the united nations, and the american people...
Lots on the Republican side are now saying that a recess appointment is likely. It would be a historic decision as the July 4th recess is only five days -- and during the last 20 years, the shortest period of recess for such an appointment was 10 days.

But this administration is precedent-setting in many ways. Recess appointments are the President's right. If he wants to send his embattled nominee who failed to get confirmation in a Republican-controlled Congress, there is little that can be done to stop it.

there'll be a price to be paid, however...
Appointments made during short recesses (less than 30 days), however, have sometimes aroused controversy, and they may involve a political cost for the President. Controversy has been particularly acute in instances where Senators perceive that the President is using the recess appointment process to circumvent the confirmation process for a nominee who is opposed in the Senate.

i've got my fingers crossed...

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Bush's "lame duck" may be headed for ICU

In a few instances - most notably the centerpiece of his second-term agenda, his call to reshape Social Security - [President Bush] is dangerously close to a fiery wreck that could have lasting consequences for his standing and for the Republican Party.

the sooner his presidency goes down in flames, the better...

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Immunity struck down; pardons next? [UPDATE: What a concept!]

i posted last week about the repeal of the laws granting immunity to the military and security officers associated with argentina's "dirty war" in the 70's and 80's... now, there is a push to have the pardons granted to those involved overturned as well, coming from, of all places, the military...
Human rights groups in Argentina were still celebrating a Supreme Court decision that struck down the amnesty laws protecting military human rights abusers when a call for the revocation of the pardon of the former commanders of the 1976-1983 dictatorship came Wednesday from an unexpected quarter: the army brass.

"The next step must be the annulment of the pardons," the army chief, General Roberto Bendini, said Wednesday, the day after the Supreme Court declared the two amnesty laws passed in the mid-1980s unconstitutional.

Bendini said it was necessary "to try and convict those who were ultimately responsible" for the gross human rights violations committed by the de facto regime.


i don't know how i missed this juicy quote the first time around but i did...
"It would be unacceptable for the junior officers to be thrown into prison while the high-ranking officers, who held the greatest responsibility," go free, [General Roberto Bendini,] said.

now, THERE'S a novel idea...! accountability...! DAMN...! what won't they think of next...?

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Joe, if you're starting your tally now

Don't count on my vote. Any nominee for the Democratic nomination better know how to back his own party and its leaders. After your shameful "Howard Dean doesn't speak for me" self-aggrandizing remark, let me tell you, you don't speak for me. Nor do you speak for millions of other Democrats who, in the last election, sucked it up, pulled up their shirt sleeves and went to work for a Democratic nominee they really weren't sure about because they understood, that in the face of the Republican onslaught, party loyalty trumps personal misgivings. For all your years in Washington, and after all the crap that has been the Right has flung at us, you have demonstrated time and time again that all you care about is protecting your own ass, not ours, and you are willing to take down a fellow Democrat to do it. Forget about it. You haven't even earned my consideration.

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Because they can

On Edit (7:01 AM) Ms. Mukhataran has been released, but things are still ugly.

Original post:
I am embarrassed that I missed Nicholas Kristof's June 14th column in the New York Times.
No wonder the Pakistan government can't catch Osama bin Laden. It is too busy harassing, detaining - and now kidnapping - a gang-rape victim for daring to protest and for planning a visit to the United States.

In case you haven't been following this story, Kristof provides background:
Last fall I wrote about Mukhtaran Bibi, a woman who was sentenced by a tribal council in Pakistan to be gang-raped because of an infraction supposedly committed by her brother. Four men raped Ms. Mukhtaran, then village leaders forced her to walk home nearly naked in front of a jeering crowd of 300.

Ms. Mukhtaran was supposed to have committed suicide. Instead, with the backing of a local Islamic leader, she fought back and testified against her persecutors. Six were convicted.

Then Ms. Mukhtaran, who believed that the best way to overcome such abuses was through better education, used her compensation money to start two schools in her village, one for boys and the other for girls. She went out of her way to enroll the children of her attackers in the schools, showing that she bore no grudges.

I had read of this triumph, not only in Kristof's column, but elsewhere as well. Chalk one up for decency and the victory of truth over oppression. Well, not quite.
A group of Pakistani-Americans invited Ms. Mukhtaran to visit the U.S. starting this Saturday (see Then a few days ago, the Pakistani government went berserk.

On Thursday, the authorities put Ms. Mukhtaran under house arrest - to stop her from speaking out. In phone conversations in the last few days, she said that when she tried to step outside, police pointed their guns at her. To silence her, the police cut off her land line.

After she had been detained, a court ordered her attackers released, putting her life in jeopardy. That happened on a Friday afternoon, when the courts do not normally operate, and apparently was a warning to Ms. Mukhtaran to shut up. Instead, Ms. Mukhtaran continued her protests by cellphone. But at dawn yesterday the police bustled her off, and there's been no word from her since. Her cellphone doesn't answer.

Asma Jahangir, a Pakistani lawyer who is head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said she had learned that Ms. Mukhtaran was taken to Islamabad, furiously berated and told that President Pervez Musharraf was very angry with her. She was led sobbing to detention at a secret location. She is barred from contacting anyone, including her lawyer.

To make matters worse, even if whe is freed, her six attackers have been released and she is barred from leaving the country.
"This is all because they think they have the support of the U.S. and can get away with murder," Ms. Jahangir said. Indeed, on Friday, just as all this was happening, President Bush received Pakistan's foreign minister in the White House and praised President Musharraf's "bold leadership."

So, Mr. Bush, how about asking Mr. Musharraf to focus on finding Osama, instead of kidnapping rape victims who speak out? And invite Ms. Mukhtaran to the Oval Office - to show that Americans stand not only with generals who seize power, but also with ordinary people of extraordinary courage.


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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Befuddlement over GOP spinning u-turns

thomas oliphant in the boston globe opines today about the spider's web of spin, backtracking, and outright deceit in the r's efforts to keep their stories straight - which seems to be failing more obviously every day...
The Bush administration insisted three years ago that war with Iraq was essential to halt Saddam Hussein's program developing weapons of mass destruction. Faced first with no evidence after the war and now with documents from Tony Blair's government detailing US hype, deception, and lack of preparedness for the war's aftermath, the same people are now using almost identical words to mask today's absurd realities.

Administration and Republican congressional leaders also spent virtually all of March in rhetorical unison, spreading the lie that the late Terri Schiavo was a responsive, feeling, communicative person and thus worthy of federal intervention to fix a legal case against her husband so that her feeding tube could remain in perpetuity. Sworn testimony and unanimous rulings to the contrary from judges were then used as the basis for a vicious attack, again by the right-wing chorus, on the very concept of an independent judiciary.

Faced with elaborate medical evidence of a person with half a brain and no eyesight, there was a skillful combination of the preposterous claim that only the truth was being sought and unctuous assurances from Senate majority leader Bill Frist, who told a national television audience last week that he had put the episode behind him and moved on.

pretty disgusting, huh...?

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Millenium Challenge Corporation

the mcc supposedly was bush's way around the entrenched bureaucracy of usaid (u.s. agency for international development) which, despite the best of intentions, often shoots itself in the foot... (having done some work with usaid projects, i speak from experience...) however, as with so many of bushco's "big ideas," the reality leaves a great deal to be desired...
It took five African presidents to get President Bush to finally face up to the dismal performance of his flagship program to promote development in poor countries. Within days, the White House reported the resignation of Paul Applegarth, the chief executive of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, who, with an entire world of poverty, disease and wretchedness to consider, managed to find only two countries worthy of aid.


To see just how badly the Millennium Challenge program has performed, compare it to the Fast Track Initiative for financing education, which is run out of the World Bank. . . . Since then, the Millennium Challenge program has signed contracts to give money to only two countries: $108 million to Madagascar and $215 million to Honduras. The program's board recently approved two more, Nicaragua and Cape Verde. Through the Fast Track program, rich countries have actually given money to 12 countries. During the first three years, donors shifted about $905 million in foreign aid to the qualifying countries for primary education; this year the 12 countries will get an additional $350 million.

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Refugees in the U.S. - hostility and xenophobia

i tutored several somali refugees when i lived and worked in portland, maine, so this article has some special meaning... they were great people and i was impressed with their ability and willingness to learn but i could see how, in "whitebread," yankee country, problems were bound to happen and evidently they have...
Fleeing civil war and economic and political chaos in their home country, they came to the United States a few years ago, where they tried to settle down in a small town. Though initially welcomed by the locals, they didn't have to wait long to face hostility and xenophobia.

Within months after the Somali refugees arrived in the small town of Lewiston in the northeastern state of Maine, some groups began to see them as a burden on the local economy and as aliens who were taking jobs away from the natives, while receiving free cars and apartments.

Yielding to pressure from anti-immigrant groups, the city's mayor Larry Raymond, declared: "It's time for the Somali community to exercise discipline. We have been overwhelmed. Our city is maxed out financially, physically and emotionally."

The Somali leaders denounced the mayor's statement as "inflammatory and disturbing", saying he was an "ill-informed leader who is bent upon bigotry." Some residents of the town joined their voices in solidarity. But the anti-immigrant wave continued to gather steam.

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World Refugee Day - June 20

it's very difficult to imagine the life of a refugee under the best of circumstances which, by definition, probably don't exist...
Seven of every 10 of the world's roughly 11.5 million refugees have been "warehoused" for five years or more in countries that have denied them basic rights guaranteed under the 1951 Refugee Convention, according to the 2005 edition of the "World Refugee Survey" released Wednesday by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI).

As a result, many of the world's refugees are unable to work, move freely within countries, own property, or even receive an education, according to the report, which also found that the total number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the world actually fell during 2004 for the second year in a row.


"We are failing those who need us most," said Lavinia Limon, the president of USCRI, which was formerly known as the U.S. Committee for Refugees. "Millions of these refugees are children who are growing up to nothing."

Among the worst offenders, according to the 126-page report, are Tanzania, Malaysia, and Iran, all of which received failing "F" grades in USCRI's report card. "A" grades were awarded to Chad, Iraq, and the United States.

chad and iraq... how interesting...!

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Fathers and Daughters

Broken marriages and bitter mothers don’t make for such easy father-daughter relationships. I grew up not really knowing my dad. Yet, my physical features resemble him more than any of my siblings. My dad is curious about the world, and though we may not agree politically, his active engagement in the world and his wonder and amusement at the human condition is very much like mine. As an adult I worked to reach out to my dad and connect with him. We don’t have the history of childhood, with the exception of him teaching me to ride a 2-wheeler, to tell time, to whistle. There are dim memories of sitting on his lap while he watched the Friday night fights, and also puking all over him after having my tonsils removed. But I will be forever grateful for the hand and heart he reached back with when I held out mine. Love you Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

And to my dearest love, thank you for being my daughter’s father. Stepping into a pre-made position was not easy. Your determination and commitment in the face of an adolescent determined to push you away still amazes me. We’ve weathered that storm and come out on the other side a strong family. And I love you more every day for the love and commitment you show every single day.

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