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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 08/14/2005 - 08/21/2005
Mandy: Great blog!
Mark: Thanks to all the contributors on this blog. When I want to get information on the events that really matter, I come here.
Penny: I'm glad I found your blog (from a comment on Think Progress), it's comprehensive and very insightful.
Eric: Nice site....I enjoyed it and will be back.
nora kelly: I enjoy your site. Keep it up! I particularly like your insights on Latin America.
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Salt Lake City...? Venue for a Bush protest...?

oh, my, my, my... this could possibly put a crimp in george's 5-day push to sell the war...
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson called for "the biggest demonstration this state has ever seen" to protest President Bush's appearance Monday before a national veterans convention.


"There should be a collaboration of health-care-provision advocates, seniors, the [gay, lesbian and bisexual and transsexual] community, anti-Patriot Act advocates and other civil libertarians, anti-war folks, pro-Social Security advocates, environmental advocates, anti-nuclear-testing advocates, and anti-nuclear-waste- shipment-and-storage advocates," the mayor wrote in the e-mail.

The mayor's message drew a howl of outrage from Mike Parkin, senior vice commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Atomic Post 4355 in Salt Lake City.

"Excuse my French, but - that son of a bitch!" he said. "It makes the mayor look very, very unpatriotic. It makes him look despicable."

i totally fail to understand why any veteran in her right mind would support bush... as a veteran myself with both my oldest son and his wife working for the veterans administration, i am all too aware of the havoc bush is creating with veterans, veterans programs and veterans benefits... every time i see a vehicle on the road with one of those "veterans for bush," i wanna pull the driver over and ask what in the world she can be thinking...

(thanks once again to raw story...)

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Awww, geeeez... "Concealed carry" - the Minutemen in Houston

the money quote: "Just because you can pass one of these concealed-weapons courses doesn't mean you have the mental capability to carry a firearm."
no duh...

The Minutemen will come to Houston bearing arms.

Leaders of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps of Texas had earlier said volunteers observing Houston's day laborers in October would carry nothing but video cameras.

But leaders now say those involved in the operations targeting local illegal immigrants will be allowed to carry arms as long as they comply with all federal and state laws.

In fact, those who have a concealed-weapons permit are being offered a discount on joining the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.


But critics worry about the Minutemen carrying arms in the city, and they think the group is giving special incentives to those able to carry concealed weapons.

"They only want people who are armed," said Juan Alvarez, a member of the Coalition Against Intolerance and For Respect, a newly formed group advocating for Houston day laborers. "It will incite violence."

Bill Parmley, the original leader of the Minuteman Texas chapter, said he had discouraged the use of weapons, particularly in urban operations such as the observations of the day laborers who wait for work on Houston streets.

Parmley resigned last month, citing racism among local members in the Goliad chapter. He now says he worries about the Minutemen being armed.

"Just because you can pass one of these concealed-weapons courses doesn't mean you have the mental capability to carry a firearm," he said.

what is happening in my country...? i don't even recognize it any more...

(thanks to raw story...)

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Time for something beautiful on a slow news Saturday

for a change, there was no "friday night surprise," that sneaky little tactic for breaking bad news when everybody's focused on the weekend, initiated by nixon and perfected by rove, so, instead, let's rest the eyes... if john can do picture blogging from paris (which i highly recommend, btw), i can do it from argentina...

A rugged rock formation in a canon on Ruta
Nacional 237, Provincia de Rio Negro, near
the village of Confluencia on the way to
San Carlos de Bariloche, Wednesday, August 10

The alpenglow of sunrise bathes the mountains
towering over the outskirts of Bariloche,
Sunday, August 14

Volcan Lanin, 3766m high, approximately
150km away, as seen from Ruta Nacional
237 near the town of Huayquimil, Sunday,
August 14

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CNN International this Sunday: Dead Wrong [UPDATE - here's the U.S. AND the CNN International schedule]

(note: i just watched part of this program which evidently started at 7 a.m. argentine time, about a half hour before i woke up and switched on the tv... it seems to be fairly comprehensive but still tiptoes around laying the blame for the debacle where it belongs - at the feet of bush and cheney... colin powell gets totally scapegoated as does george tenet... it will be re-aired on CNN International this evening at 1800 argentine time, 2200 GMT...)

CNN International which, for all practical purposes, might be a totally different network from its domestic cousin in terms of breadth of coverage, lack of obvious bias, and avoidance of titillating stories, has scheduled a special report this sunday titled "dead wrong..." it's a look at what they euphemistically are calling the "massive intelligence failures" that led to iraq, featuring a number of people who are now wishing they had never heard of iraq... but, even more interestingly, the program claims it will explore declining u.s. credibility in the rest of the world... the best time i can come up with is 8 p.m. edt... if i find something more concrete and/or times in other areas of the world, i'll post them...


ok, here's the schedule for the u.s.... all times are edt...

Sunday, August 21

Dead Wrong: Inside an Intelligence Meltdown

8 p.m., 11 p.m.

Saturday, August 27

Dead Wrong: Inside an Intelligence Meltdown

3 p.m., 8 p.m., 11 p.m

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Speaking of Mexico - the deaths continue

this is terribly sad... one of my very best friends, who had honored me greatly by asking me to be the godfather to his daughter, crossed illegally over two years ago to work construction with his brother in kansas and, a year ago october, was killed in an automobile accident near the town where he and his brother lived... now his wife is struggling to support herself and the five-year old daughter back in mexico... the suffering that these folks endure just to have a shot at a better life is really something...
With about six weeks remaining in the Border Patrol's fiscal year - and more Border Patrol agents patrolling than ever - 201 men, women and children have succumbed to the elements in Arizona.

In Pima County, which includes Tohono O'odham and Tucson, so many corpses are waiting to be identified, autopsied and returned to Mexico that the coroner is storing 60 of them in a refrigerator truck.

Arizona has emerged as ground zero in the nation's debate over illegal immigration. Minutemen Project volunteers launched patrols this spring to stop border crossers, while humanitarian groups set up water stations and gave medical help to immigrants.

"Each of these individuals has dignity, and we need to recognize that," says Beth Sanders of No More Deaths, a coalition of volunteers who cruise the back roads offering water and medical care. Another group, Humane Borders, posts maps on the Mexican side showing where deaths have occurred and warning in Spanish, "Don't go. It's not worth the suffering."

But the incursion is relentless. Since Oct. 1, Border Patrol agents have caught more than 500,000 "undocumented aliens" in the agency's Tucson and Yuma sectors, which include all of Arizona and a 16-mile stretch of California's border. No one knows how many got through.

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Zapatista leader Marcos breaks his silence

Subcomandante Marcos says he wants to influence Mexico's next election by creating a broad political force to push leftist values.

with mexico's presidential election coming up next year (mexico's presidents serve single, 6-year terms) and the front-running candidate, the current mayor of mexico city, manuel lopez obrador, being a leftist himself, it's gonna be an interesting year leading up to next august...
Now, though, Marcos, whom Mexican officials identified in 1995 as a former university instructor named Rafael Sebastian Guillen, is following the political track and is out making public appearances for the first time in four years.

He has used the recent forums in jungle towns to poke fun at Lopez Obrador, the presidential front-runner.

Lopez Obrador is a former Indian activist, but became popular in Mexico City through heavy spending on public works projects, pensions and other handouts for key voting blocs. The leftist candidate says he respectfully disagrees with Marcos, but will not argue with him.

In Zapatista strongholds, where an estimated 250,000 rebel supporters live mostly in wooden shacks — without electricity, government schools or hospitals — there is excitement about the movement's new direction, but few answers about what it will mean.

"I think the time has come for a new phase, where we are watching everything and discussing," said Gabriel, a member of the Zapatista "information committee" for a region that includes Carmen Patate.

Gabriel, who said community rules barred him from disclosing his full name, declined to talk about what he expected.

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Diplomacy...? Perish the thought...! That would require skill...

another up-close-and-personal profile from bush's ship of fools... it's comforting in a bizarre sort of way to know that there is actually a consistent profile being utilized for those bushco chooses for sensitive diplomatic posts... you need to meet at least a majority of these criteria: 1) be an asshole (a la bolton), 2) be loyal to george above all else, 3) be filthy rich, and 4) be a major republican party donor... the principal item is, as we all know, #2...
He married Mexico's richest woman, is an old pal of U.S. President George W. Bush and now Washington's envoy south of the Rio Grande is stirring up controversy in a dispute over crime and immigration on the U.S.-Mexican border.

U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza upset Mexico this week by boasting he had shut a consular office in a border city to "punish" the country for failing to halt a drug war there.

It was the latest in a series of run-ins with Mexico's government that have earned Garza a reputation as a bully who, despite his Hispanic roots, largely disregards Mexican sensibilities about its powerful northern neighbor.


Garza, in his mid-forties, was a campaign advisor in Bush's 1994 gubernatorial race and Texas railroad commissioner.

Despite the diplomatic friction, Garza charmed Mexico's high society in April with a lavish wedding to the country's wealthiest woman, beer heiress Mariasun Aramburuzabala who is worth about $1.5 billion.

U.S. first lady Laura Bush and Mexican magnate Carlos Slim, one of the world's richest man [sic], were among the guests at a lakeside resort.

The glittering nuptials did little to paper over serious disagreements between the two countries.

Mexico is frustrated that Congress has dragged its feet on immigration reform sought by Bush that would mainly benefit millions of Mexican workers in the United States.

for those who don't know, calling carlos slim "one of the world's richest men" is a serious understatement... he may well BE the world's richest man and is a perfect example of why so many mexicans try so desperately to get across the border to the u.s... the mexican super-rich, even more than their u.s. counterparts, have succeeded in perpetuating an enormous have/have-not gap in mexico... the power and wealth of mexico is concentrated in a very few unbelievably wealthy families with slim at the top of the pile...

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Fact: We can no longer trust our electoral process

i am not a conspiracy theorist by nature but i suspect that the "malfeasance," as krugman gingerly puts it, has been with us for long before the 2000 elections... what's different is that it's now becoming visible... well, at least visible for SOME, subtracting the masses who either don't pay attention or who don't care or who, in all fairness, are so damn busy working and trying to make ends meet they don't have time to do anything about it...
By running for the U.S. Senate, Katherine Harris, Florida's former secretary of state, has stirred up some ugly memories. And that's a good thing, because those memories remain relevant. There was at least as much electoral malfeasance in 2004 as there was in 2000, even if it didn't change the outcome. And the next election may be worse.

In his recent book "Steal This Vote" - a very judicious work, despite its title - Andrew Gumbel, a U.S. correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, provides the best overview I've seen of the 2000 Florida vote. And he documents the simple truth: "Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election."

Two different news media consortiums reviewed Florida's ballots; both found that a full manual recount would have given the election to Mr. Gore. This was true despite a host of efforts by state and local officials to suppress likely Gore votes, most notably Ms. Harris's "felon purge," which disenfranchised large numbers of valid voters.

But few Americans have heard these facts.

of course, few have heard these facts... it's not in the interests of the media or the media's super-rich owners to promulgate these facts... that might require changes to the status quo which, as we know, is sacred no matter which party is in power...

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Continuing story: No wonder they hate us

meanwhile, rumsfeld visits paraguay to lay the foundation for establishing permanent u.s. military bases there and implies that venezuela and cuba are fomenting unrest in bolivia... i'm not at all comfortable with all the rumblings regarding the southern hemisphere...(note: paraguay is a signatory of the agreement...)
Three years ago the Bush administration began prodding countries to shield Americans from the fledgling International Criminal Court in The Hague, which was intended to be the first permanent tribunal for prosecuting crimes like genocide.

The United States has since cut aid to some two dozen nations that refused to sign immunity agreements that American officials say are intended to protect American soldiers and policy makers from politically motivated prosecutions.


But particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean, home to 12 nations that have been penalized, the cuts are generating strong resentment at what many see as heavy-handed diplomacy, officials and diplomats in seven countries said.

More than that, some Americans are also beginning to question the policy, as political and military leaders in the region complain that the aid cuts are squandering good will and hurting their ability to cooperate in other important areas, like the campaigns against drugs and terrorism.

In testimony before Congress in March, Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, the commander of American military forces in Latin America, said the sanctions had excluded Latin American officers from American training programs and could allow China, which has been seeking military ties to Latin America, to fill the void.


In all, 53 countries, from Kenya to Ecuador to some European nations, have declined to sign the agreements, saying Washington's effort undermines their commitment to the court. Not all have been penalized and some, like Paraguay and Dominica, later yielded to American pressure and signed agreements.


American budgetary records show that Uruguay, whose new left-leaning government has vocally declined to sign an immunity agreement, has lost $1.5 million since 2003. Costa Rica has lost about $500,000, and unstable Bolivia has lost $1.5 million.

my hat is off to the countries who say no and stick to their guns... the u.s. has no shame when trying to force its way on the rest of the world...

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

OMG... thanks to kos, i just stumbled on Belacqua Jones!

Dear George,

Things are looking pretty grim right now. Public support for the Iraq enterprise is draining away, some of your Neocon buddies are starting to grouse, generals are talking about the wheels falling off and you’ve got this Sheehan woman parked outside your ranch making you look like the callous asshole you are.

But George, no matter how dark the pit, take courage from the wisdom of the sage who said, “Every fart is perfume waiting to happen.” Right now you are staring a golden opportunity in the buttocks. God has given you the chance to prove to the world that you are a man’s man.

Show the American people that while you wimped out in Vietnam you will goddamn well stay in Iraq to the last drop of our children’s blood. Your courage will reinforce the Republican Party’s reputation for being tough on the living. I mean, my God, remind people of what ninnies the Democrats were. When the public soured on Vietnam, what did Johnson do? He cut and run, and let Vietnam fall to the Commies. The man was a slave to public opinion.

Look! The entire thrust of your administration has been to return this country to the glories of the 19th Century, the century that idealized the glory of death in combat. The highest nobility was being gut shot for your country. And the longer and more painful the death was, the greater the glory.

What nobler cause could the youth of America find than to be maimed and murdered just to show the world that we don’t back down from nobody, nowhere. Angels lift each mangled body heavenward as they croon America into the child’s dead ears. Let every town square in America sprout a marble monument listing their dead children. On the base of every monument chisel in stone the declaration, “They Died that We Might Consume.”

For a chickenhawk, there is more glory in defeat than in victory. The martyrdom of others is his redemption.

Your admirer,

Belacqua Jones

mr. jones, i am humbled by your masterful rhetoric... my hat is off to a far superior talent...

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TSA may have to be accountable for no-fly list in court action

this is good and about damn time...
Three Alaskans and one former state resident sued the US Transportation Security Administration on Thursday in an effort to find out what information the agency collected about them as part of its troubled airline passenger screening program.

In a complaint filed with the U..District Court in Anchorage, two travel agents and two public school administrators argued that the TSA broke the law when it secretly assembled profiles of air travelers when it tested its system last year.

They also said the agency should be prevented from destroying any of the other passenger profiles it has created.

The plaintiffs, who have challenged the passenger screening program in the past, include school officials who rely on commercial air services to travel around the remote parts of the state. One of them, John Davis, said he has run into problems because his name matches one on a "no fly" list of suspected security risks. Another, Charles Beckley, recently retired to Montana.

"Plaintiffs believe that the creation of identity based national security systems unwisely weakens long-standing individual rights and the protections against governmental abuse of power these rights provide," the four said in their complaint.

yeah... no shit...

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More on the housing bubble...

i've posted rather extensively on what "bubbles greenspan" has so endearingly called some slight "froth" in the housing market... with figures like the following, we should all sit up and take notice...

(thanks to oldest son for the tip...)
Single-family home prices are "extremely overvalued" in 53 cities that make up nearly a third of the overall U.S. housing market, putting them at high risk of price declines, according to a study released today.

The report, by Richard DeKaser, chief economist of National City Corp., examined 299 metro areas accounting for 80% of the U.S. housing market.

DeKaser terms a market extremely overvalued if prices are 30% above where he estimates they should be based on historic price data, area income, mortgage rates and population density - a proxy for land scarcity.

Based on those criteria, Santa Barbara, Calif., is the nation's most out-of-whack market, with houses 69% overpriced. Rounding out the top five: Salinas, Calif.; Naples, Fla.; and Riverside and Merced, Calif.


The big culprit: in 85% of the cities surveyed, home-price gains outpaced income gains during the past year. In Bakersfield, Calif., prices rose 33% while incomes increased 3%. In 29% of areas, prices outpaced income growth by at least 10 percentage points.

Just 2% of markets were in bubbly territory at the start of 2004, vs. 31% in the first quarter of 2005.

if this thing bursts rather than pops a slow leak, there's gonna be hell to pay... the combination of borrowing against appreciated equity, the reliance on housing-related employment, and, lest we forget, the trillions that the chinese are tossing into the u.s. bond market, is all that's been keeping the economy afloat... now that we're on the verge of engaging in another cold war, this time with china, it might be a good idea to look both ways before crossing the street to the mortgage lender...

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Vigils... Tipping point...?

let's hope so... the sooner the good ship bushco sinks below the waves, the better i'll feel... then we might be able to begin the long job of picking up the pieces and repairing the destruction of 5 horrible years... unfortunately, we undoubtedly have 3 more to go...
Hundreds of candlelight vigils calling for an end to the war in Iraq lit up the night Wednesday, part of a national effort spurred by one mother's anti-war demonstration near President Bush's ranch.

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Bob Herbert seeks social justice...? tsk, tsk, tsk...

If the war in Iraq is worth fighting - if it's a noble venture, as the hawks insist it is - then it's worth fighting with the children of the privileged classes. They should be added to the combat mix. If it's not worth their blood, then we should bring the other troops home.

If Mr. Bush's war in Iraq is worth dying for, then the children of the privileged should be doing some of the dying.

oh, bob, bob, bob... you just don't get it, do you...? the privileged and their children OWN the rest of us... we are there to do their bidding... we are there to insure that there is no constraint placed on their privilege and that they have unfettered access to however much more privilege they wish to acquire... as in the rest of their lives, the hired help mows their lawns, cleans their pools, takes care of their housekeeping, does their shopping, pays their bills, repairs all their little things that have such an annoying habit of breaking down, extends their span of global control, and creates more opportunities for them to acquire even greater wealth, often by laying down their lives... why SHOULD they burden themselves with any of those details...? they've EARNED the right to their life of ease...

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Rumsfeld visits Paraguay - keep your eyes on this one

i've been posting for some time now on the u.s. moves to reestablish influence and control in latin america... i talked about how paraguay was being groomed as a new location for u.s. military bases... now, rummy visits asuncion... and, of course, paraguay, with its stunted economy would like u.s. bases... what an economic boost...! but, awwwww, shit...
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, arriving in this South American capital Tuesday, said countries in the region should help strengthen democracy in Bolivia and suggested that governments in Cuba and Venezuela have been involved in Bolivia in "unhelpful ways."

Rumsfeld's brief trip is aimed at reinforcing ties with regional democracies as they fight political instability, terrorism and drug trafficking, defense officials said. Rumsfeld will also visit Peru.

Increasing political problems in Bolivia, which borders Paraguay to the northwest, have been fostered by Cuban and Venezuelan authorities, U.S. officials contend.

is this stage-setting or what...?

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Cindy under siege...

the lesson here for all of us - when you stand up for your beliefs in today's society, you better be prepared to be attacked mercilessly, without restraint or compassion... the right's attack machine knows no limits, following the karl rove playbook to the letter... in roveworld, you don't merely attack your enemies, you utterly destroy them, beat the dead bodies with baseball bats, drive metaphorical stakes through their hearts, jump up and down on them, drag them behind cars through the streets, and then dump them in the river weighed down with concrete blocks...
Cindy Sheehan rode into town 10 days ago, a forlorn mother with a question for her president: Why did my son die in Iraq?

But now the same wave of publicity and political anger that she rode to become a nationally known symbol of the antiwar movement threatens to crash down on Sheehan herself.

Conservative commentators and Web sites are taking aim at Sheehan with the same ferocity she has aimed at President Bush. In part, they are using her own words against her -- reciting such controversial comments as her vow to refuse to pay taxes to a government waging an "illegal" war and her desire to see Bush impeached.

"the same ferocity she has aimed at president bush...?" i think not... first of all, she's not manipulating the levers on a finely-tuned propaganda machine... secondly, she is speaking the truth, unlike bush who is incapable of telling the truth... finally, she is struggling with the worst of all personal losses - a child...

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So, the NYT and Edmund Morris now label Cindy as an "emotional predator..."

A president has to protect himself from emotional predators, or he'd be sucked dry within a week of taking office.

there isn't a shadow of doubt in my mind that being president of the united states is perhaps the most emotionally taxing job on earth and that, if the person holding that office isn't exceptionally diligent in managing his self-care, he's toast... but the implication of this op-ed piece, that avoiding a meeting with cindy sheehan is merely intelligent self-care, is both insidious and wrong... bush could use a meeting with mrs. sheehan as a wonderful platform to demonstrate a whole host of things that would reflect favorably on him but that would require putting aside his arrogance, his self-perception of omnipotence, and his facade of compassion... ain't gonna happen... and mr. morris would be well-advised to stop defending the indefensible...

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Oh My God, It's genetic.

Mo Dowd's column today
How could President Bush be cavorting around on a long vacation with American troops struggling with a spiraling crisis in Iraq?

Wasn't he worried that his vacation activities might send a frivolous signal at a time when he had put so many young Americans in harm's way?

"I'm determined that life goes on," Mr. Bush said stubbornly.

That wasn't the son, believe it or not. It was the father - 15 years ago. I was in Kennebunkport then to cover the first President Bush's frenetic attempts to relax while reporters were pressing him about how he could be taking a month to play around when he had started sending American troops to the Persian Gulf only three days before.

Add that to Barbara Bush's comments regarding the war dead in Iraq:
"Why should we hear about body bags and deaths," Barbara Bush said on ABC's "Good Morning America" on March 18, 2003. "Oh, I mean, it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

There it is folks. We are just the hired help. Got it? Again, Maureen Dowd:

On Saturday, the current President Bush was pressed about how he could be taking five weeks to ride bikes and nap and fish and clear brush even though his occupation of Iraq had become a fiasco. "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life," W. said, "to keep a balanced life."

Iraq is spiraling downward, the economy is on life-support, two plane crashes have taken the lives of hundreds of people, but hey, why worry, we have the fittest president on record, doncha know? you will forgive me if I am not comforted. After all, we managed to win World War II, establish Social Security, get out the Great Depression with a leader in a wheel chair. Low heart rate does not a great leader make

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Cindy Vigils

And if you haven't already signed up for one of the thousands of vigils in support of Cindy Sheehan tonight, go here.

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(thanks to skadi... her creation too, btw...)

the following is excerpted from a letter written by elizabeth edwards, the wife of senator john edwards...
We teach our children right from wrong. We teach them compassion and honor. We teach them the dignity of each life. And then, sometimes, the lessons we taught are turned on their heads.

Cindy Sheehan is asking a very simple thing of her government, and she and her family, and most particularly Casey, have paid a very dear price for the right to ask this.

Cindy wants Casey's death to have meant as much as his life -- lived fully -- might have meant. I know this, as does every mother who has ever stood where we stand. And the President says he knows enough, doesn't need to hear from Casey's mother, doesn't need to assure her that Casey's is not one small death in a long and seemingly never-ending drip of deaths, that there is a plan here that will bring our sons and daughters home. He doesn't need to hear from her, he says. He claims he understands how some people feel about the deaths in Iraq.

The President is wrong.

(thanks to alternet...)

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Win a U.S. Green Card in the Green Card Lottery

whenever i'm online from outside the u.s., this advert keeps popping up, courtesy of the u.s. immigration and nationality act approved by congress... i've seen it for several years and haven't given it much thought until recently... (note: the advert comes up in the language of whatever country i happen to be in at the time, in this case, a spanish-speaking country, argentina...)


(translation: live and work in the u.s... click here to participate in the lottery and obtain a permanent green card... only me... my spouse and i... my whole family...)

the website it links to has the scoop... (i changed the language to english for reader ease...) note: winners get a FREE airline ticket to the u.s...


the website home page provides the come-on...
American Green Card Lottery program benefits:
  • 50,000 people and their families will live and work in the U.S.A.
  • Official U.S. Government program, Congress approved.
  • Your Chance to Live and Work in the U.S.A.
  • Easy Online Registration and Assistance in every step.
  • Double Chances for Married People to win the Green Card Lottery.
Annual Green Card Lottery of the United States

USAFIS organization invites you to participate in the USA Green Card Lottery program where you may win the green card lottery and receive a green card to legally live and work in the United States. If you are not an American citizen, you may submit your green card lottery application to join the program and take advantage of the opportunity that has been offered to you by a program of the American government, through a law that has been passed by Congress - the "Diversity Green Card Lottery" program.

50,000 people and their families annually... ain't it interesting that, given all the hoo-hah about immigration, legal, illegal and otherwise, this particular item hasn't surfaced... give it time... as soon as the minutemen get hold of it, there'll be a stink...

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The Powell Manifesto...? Or not...

over 30 years ago, the plan of attack was written... it's comprehensive, it's strategic, it's long term, and it's been followed almost to the letter... while there are those who, via good research, do not believe that the memo was indeed the blueprint or that it deserves the icon status it is now accorded, it is nonetheless a fascinating study in the roots of the right's rise to nearly absolute power... i guess nobody, including me, wanted to believe that we were under full scale attack but now that the coup d'etat has become reality, we have a lot of work to do...

yes, it's long and, yes, it's worth the read...

The Powell Memo
(also known as the Powell Manifesto)

Powell Memo published August 23, 1971
This page and our introduction were published April 3, 2004

In 1971, Lewis F. Powell, then a corporate lawyer and member of the boards of 11 corporations, wrote a memo to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memorandum was dated August 23, 1971, two months prior to Powell's nomination by President Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Powell Memo did not become available to the public until long after his confirmation to the Court. It was leaked to Jack Anderson, a liberal syndicated columnist, who stirred interest in the document when he cited it as reason to doubt Powell's legal objectivity. Anderson cautioned that Powell "might use his position on the Supreme Court to put his ideas into behalf of business interests."

Though Powell's memo was not the sole influence, the Chamber and corporate activists took his advice to heart and began building a powerful array of institutions designed to shift public attitudes and beliefs over the course of years and decades. The memo influenced or inspired the creation of the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Academe, and other powerful organizations. Their long-term focus began paying off handsomely in the 1980s, in coordination with the Reagan Administration's "hands-off business" philosophy.

Most notable about these institutions was their focus on education, shifting values, and movement-building – a focus we share, though usually with contrasting goals. One of our great frustrations is that “progressive” foundations and funders have failed to learn from the success of these corporate institutions and decline to fund the Democracy Movement that we and a number of similarly-focused organizations are attempting to build. Instead, they overwhelmingly focus on damage control, band-aids and short-term results which provide little hope of the systemic change we so desperately need to reverse the trend of growing corporate dominance.

We see depressingly little sign of change. Progressive institutions eagerly embrace tools like the web and e-mail as hopes for turning the nation in a progressive direction. They will not. They are tools that can and must be used to raise funds and mobilize people more effectively (and we rely on them heavily), but tools and tactics are no substitute for long-term vision and strategy.

So did Powell's political views influence his judicial decisions? The evidence is mixed. Powell did embrace expansion of corporate privilege and wrote the majority opinion in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, a 1978 decision that effectively invented a First Amendment “right” for corporations to influence ballot questions. On social issues, he was a moderate, whose votes often surprised his backers.

Confidential Memorandum:
Attack of American Free Enterprise System
DATE: August 23, 1971
TO: Mr. Eugene B. Sydnor, Jr., Chairman, Education Committee, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
FROM: Lewis F. Powell, Jr.

This memorandum is submitted at your request as a basis for the discussion on August 24 with Mr. Booth (executive vice president) and others at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The purpose is to identify the problem, and suggest possible avenues of action for further consideration.

(go here to read it all and thanks to kos at dailykos for the tip...)

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Why they're REALLY talking about a troop pull-down in Iraq

there's one thing you can definitely count on with bushco... nothing, and i mean NOTHING, they say has more than the tiniest grain of truth... cheney says the insurgency is floundering... then, talk of troop withdrawals is floated... meanwhile, the deadly violence in iraq continues to escalate... more and more people die... the constitutional process is repeatedly derailed... the kurds hold out for autonomous regions... the sunnis don't want to play ball... so, why should we be talking about decreasing u.s. presence...?

The dirty secret that President Bush refuses to share with a profoundly ambivalent America is that the US armed forces are stretched so thin in Iraq and around the world that the existing occupying force of roughly 130,000 people cannot be maintained beyond next year.

Because Bush based the 2003 invasion and follow-up occupation on the false promise of ease -- a flop of epic proportions for which not a single individual in authority has been held responsible -- the administration has had to scramble for more than two years to keep pace with a growing insurgency as a well as the gargantuan task of reconstruction for which America was not financially prepared.

Tours of duty were extended. The reserves were raided. The National Guard was raided. Military commitments in the rest of the world, including the fight against terrorism and the effort to establish stability in Afghanistan, were compromised. The American people were deceived about the true cost of this war. But all this juggling and deception hasn't been enough. The fact remains: The military cannot rotate troops out of Iraq as their tours end and rotate others in without drastic change and a policy switch that includes telling people the truth.

a "policy switch that includes telling people the truth...?" HA...! when pigs fly... this bunch is genetically incapable of telling the truth... there is no exception to their deception...

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Jeffrey Feldman writes on the "grieving mom..."

So what is the bottom line of the Sheehan protest? What did the Sheehan week achieve?

In broad terms, the success of the "grieving mom" phrase indicates that Americans are now thinking about the War in Iraq through the frame of the family, rather than thinking about Iraq through the frame of "terrorism" or "ideology."

The implications of this shift from "terrorism" to "family" in the country's thinking about Iraq are profound. Not only does this shift forewarn a political tidal wave soon to break on the President's foreign policy, but also of a much deeper, tectonic shift in the strategy beneath all the recent gains in the Republican party.

The great success of Cindy Sheehan's protest, therefore, is no less than the moral authority for the Democratic Party to speak for the American family.

i get all queasy when i read things like this... while i completely agree that cindy sheehan may well be a tipping point for bush and iraq (and maybe for the entire maggot-ridden bush administration), framing it as a talking point advantage for democrats strikes me as particularly cynical... i know that feldman's schtick is framing and i know he believes that dems need to do a much better job of framing than they have but, in many ways, framing can be just as nauseating and ugly as spin... my feelings are mixed, obviously...

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The choice not to have children...? Forget it...

absolutely, knock-your-socks-off amazing... there is nothing so far-fetched that literal interpreters of the bible won't embrace... never mind the fact that the context is well over 2000 years old, when childbearing was necessary for family survival...
Christians must recognize that this rebellion against parenthood represents nothing less than an absolute revolt against God's design. The Scripture points to barrenness as a great curse and children as a divine gift. The Psalmist declared: "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate." [Psalm 127: 3-5]


The Scripture does not even envision married couples who choose not to have children. The shocking reality is that some Christians have bought into this lifestyle and claim childlessness as a legitimate option. The rise of modern contraceptives has made this technologically possible. But the fact remains that though childlessness may be made possible by the contraceptive revolution, it remains a form of rebellion against God's design and order
but wait, there's more...
The church should insist that the biblical formula calls for adulthood to mean marriage and marriage to mean children. This reminds us of our responsibility to raise boys to be husbands and fathers and girls to be wives and mothers. God's glory is seen in this, for the family is a critical arena where the glory of God is either displayed or denied. It is just as simple as that.

let's see... females as breeder mares... gender role stereotyping... laying the groundwork for eventual banning of contraceptives... good to know what's in store for us when the fundies hold absolute power over society...

despite the fact that if i had achieved personal clarity and mental health sooner in my life than i did, i would not have them now, i am grateful every single moment for my three wonderful children and would not change a thing... i am also confident that i have learned more from my children than they have from me... children brought a richness to my life that would have been unattainable otherwise... that said, i completely respect the choice not to have children... there is no biological or theological imperative to bear children and to say otherwise is a serious error and a negation of the wonderful variety of ways to live a truly full and spiritual life...

(thanks to jesus' general for the tip...)

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Monday, August 15, 2005

Wow...! Tough but effective...

the ugly truth... those who are demanding the ultimate sacrifices never make any themselves...


click on the image to visit the sponsoring organization, velvet revolution, a coalition of organizations including progressive democrats of america, take back the media; and

(thanks to raw story...)

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God bless Paul Krugman

after wading through the chest-deep bullshit that characterizes so much of "news" these days, it's incredibly refreshing to read paul krugman... what a straight shooter... he's a wonderful argument for cloning... (did i just say that...?) anyway, he issues a stern warning and we would all be well-advised to heed it...
[Social Security] privatization seems to be dead for the time being. The Democratic leadership in Congress defied the punditocracy - which was very much in favor of privatization - by refusing to cave in, and the American people made it clear that they like Social Security the way it is.

But the campaign for privatization provided an object lesson in how the administration sells its policies: by misrepresenting its goals, lying about the facts and abusing its control of government agencies. These were the same tactics used to sell both tax cuts and the Iraq war.

And there are two reasons to study that lesson. One is to be prepared for whatever comes next on Mr. Bush's agenda.
Despite the tough talk about Iran, I don't think he can propose another war - there aren't enough troops to fight the wars we already have. But there's still room for another big domestic initiative, probably tax reform.

Forewarned is forearmed: the real goals of reform won't be as advertised
, the administration will say things about the current system that aren't true, and the Treasury Department will function in a purely partisan capacity.

as my grandma used to say, quoting an (extremely) old commercial, bushco's got more tricks up its sleeve than carter has pills... (dating myself, i actually remember that commercial... it was for carter's little liver pills...)

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Justice Sunday II... Or is that Alien II...?

the washington post wouldn't say "shit" if it was up to its eyeballs in it...
Prominent conservative political and religious leaders called Sunday night for Senate approval of Supreme Court nominees who will vote to end the constitutional right to abortion, against recognition of same-sex marriage and for fewer restrictions on religious expression in public places.

The Supreme Court has sanctioned "the right to kill unborn children" and opened the door to legalized "homosexual sodomy," declared Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which co-sponsored "Justice Sunday II."

James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, told the 2,200 mostly white people in Two Rivers Baptist Church: "It doesn't matter what we think. The court rules." The Supreme Court, he said in a video broadcast, has created "an oligarchy. It's the government by the few."

why does the wapo insist on being so friggin' wussy...? "prominent conservative political and religious leaders," my ass... they are fundamentalist religious extremists who want to impose a theocracy on the rest of the u.s. citizens who don't necessarily subscribe to their mindlessly rigid beliefs... and the oligarchy, "dr." dobson, by the way, ain't the courts... it's the super-rich... and all you have to do to find them is to take a short drive across your headquarters town, colorado springs, to the broadmoor... a ton of 'em live there... and, yes, i can name names... that's where the REAL power is, dobby-boy...

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Despite the economic recovery, tough times in Argentina

reading this is spooky... i thought for a minute i was reading about the u.s. economy...
Despite the economic recovery of the past three years and the resultant drop in unemployment, the number of workers with precarious jobs remains high in this South American country [Argentina] of 37 million.

The National Institute of Statistics and Census reported earlier this year that 47.5 percent of workers are not covered by the social security system and have no labour benefits.


On Argentina's initiative, the theme of the fourth Summit of the Americas - to be held in November in the Argentine resort city of Mar del Plata - is ”Creating Jobs to Fight Poverty and Strengthen Democratic Governance”. One of the key issues on the agenda is the need to foment ”decent work”.


[Robert Castel, director of research at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, a renowned sociologist who wrote ”The Metamorphosis of Social Questions: A Chronicle of Wage Earners”, which analyses the phenomenon of mass unemployment and the growing precariousness of labour] uses the term ”supernumerary” to refer to unemployed workers who have no hope of finding anything more than precarious or temporary jobs, said the category does not only include young people, women or those with little formal education.

”Today there is a quite widespread process of increased vulnerability that cuts across social categories,” he said. ”Of course it hits the poor hardest, but it also affects those who appeared to be privileged in the past, like professionals and young people with higher levels of education.”

Nor is this increasing vulnerability only to be found in developing countries, he added. It is also seen in industrialised nations like France or Germany, except that in wealthy countries, the state has more abundant resources and is able to keep a minimal social safety net in place.

ok, let's not lose sight of a few things that are lurking in the background of this story... for one, bush's scheduled visit to the summit of the americas in november is being protested on a daily basis here in buenos aires... the argentines don't want "b-o-o-osh" in their country... also, don't forget... the "wealthy countries" that keep a "minimal social safety net in place" is a category that the u.s., under bushco's specious "leadership," is rapidly moving south of... one of bushco and the r's top priorities is the destruction of any form of social contract and they've already made quite a bit of progress... finally, i happen to know several of argentina's unemployed as well as those with "precarious jobs..." i have a lot of empathy in no small part due to the fact that, in the u.s. context, i'm in the very same boat... i'm 57, no safety net, no assets, living contract to contract... i'm making it - for now...

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Uncle Osama wants YOU...!

oh, ouch...! this is really painful to read but it's not like we didn't know it anyway...
Hussain Osman, one of the men alleged to have participated in London's failed bombings on July 21, recently told Italian investigators that they prepared for the attacks by watching "films on the war in Iraq," La Repubblica reported. "Especially those where women and children were being killed and exterminated by British and American soldiers ... of widows, mothers and daughters that cry."

It has become an article of faith that Britain was vulnerable to terror because of its politically correct antiracism. Yet Osman's comments suggest that what propelled at least some of the bombers was rage at what they saw as extreme racism. And what else can we call the belief -- so prevalent we barely notice it -- that American and European lives are worth more than the lives of Arabs and Muslims, so much more that their deaths in Iraq are not even counted?

yes, i knew that iraqi deaths were not even being counted but, omg, how horrible to see it in this context in black and white... why...? why...? why...? why...? this simply should not be happening... meanwhile, george rides his bike and takes a nap...

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

The asshole breaks his silence on Cindy Sheehan

(thanks to atrios whose comment to this, "fucknuts," is remarkably reflective of my own opinion...)
Bush said he is aware of the anti-war sentiments of Cindy Sheehan and others who have joined her protest near the Bush ranch.

"But whether it be here or in Washington or anywhere else, there's somebody who has got something to say to the president, that's part of the job," Bush said on the ranch. "And I think it's important for me to be thoughtful and sensitive to those who have got something to say."

"But," he added, "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."

if this doesn't rank at the top of the list of the lamest things any public official has ever said about something of major importance, i will eat my hat... what a FOOL...! he wouldn't know a balanced life if it bit him in the ass and, besides, we didn't elect this moron so he could have a balanced life... i would lay great odds that cindy sheehan's life hasn't been particularly balanced since her son, casey, was killed serving a president who lied to him about why he was in iraq...

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Steve Clemons on Bolton

steve clemons deserves a vacation just like everybody else but i sure am glad he's back in the saddle... the guest bloggers just didn't do it for me...
Perhaps John Bolton is modeling himself on Andrei Gromyko, the famous "Mr. Nyet" who said 'No' more often than anything else starting in 1946 when he went as the Soviet Ambassador to the U.N. followed by nearly three decades as the USSR's Foreign Minister.

Maybe Bolton's calculation is that if he follows the Gromyko model -- disagreeable temperament included -- he may continue to work his way up the political ladder.

Secretary Bolton? Good thing we have a democracy to stop him.

oh, steve... i'm not sure we have a democracy any more... in fact, i'm not sure we ever had one...

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Frank Rich: What do you think...? Should we tell George...?

President Bush may be the last person in the country to learn that for Americans, if not Iraqis, the war in Iraq is over. "We will stay the course," he insistently tells us from his Texas ranch. What do you mean we, white man?

if i thought for one single minute it would make a difference whether or not george reads frank rich, i might take heart but we know he doesn't... and, even if he did, he certainly wouldn't care...

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