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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 11/06/2005 - 11/13/2005
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Iraq is Bush's "roadside bomb..."

(from the latest ap-ipsos poll...)

would you buy a used car from george...?
[S]ix in 10 now say Bush is not honest, and a similar number say his administration does not have high ethical standards.


An AP-Ipsos poll last week asked people to state in their own words why they approve or disapprove of the way Bush was doing his job. Almost six in 10 disapproved, and they most frequently mentioned the war in Iraq — far ahead of the second issue, the economy.

"To use an unfortunate metaphor, Iraq is a roadside bomb in American politics," said Rich Bond, a former national Republican chairman.

probably not...


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in my previous post, i took markos to task for discounting impeachment...
We have bigger fish to fry than getting even against Bush for his misdeeds.

like i said, i really don't care HOW we get 'em out, i just want 'em OUT...

however, kos' stirling newberry, in his never-use-one-word- when-50-will-do-quite-nicely-thank-you way, rose to the challenge and makes the impeachment case in seven well-reasoned points...

Here are the reasons for pushing impeachment:

  • I. Impeachment as a tool of realignment
  • II. Impeachment as a tool to restrain an executive
  • III. Impeachment as a means of removing legitimacy.
  • IV. Impeachment as means of exposing weakness
  • V. Impeachment as a means of setting right the Democratic Party
  • VI. Impeachment as agenda.
  • VII. Impeachment as the basis for a campaign.

there's some good verbiage under each one... go read them...

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Bush on torture: Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes...?

many thanks to kos and bill in portland maine for sharing the miami herald's right-on editorial by leonard pitts...

(via the buffalo news...)
Well, I guess that settles that.

"We do not torture," President Bush said on Monday. Never mind all those torture pictures from Abu Ghraib. Never mind all those torture stories from Guantanamo Bay. Never mind the 2002 Justice Department memo that sought to justify torture. Never mind reports of U.S. officials sending detainees to other countries for torture. Never mind Dick Cheney lobbying to exempt the CIA from rules prohibiting torture.

"We do not torture," said the president. And that's that, right? I mean, if you can't believe the Bush administration, who can you believe? No torture. Period, end of sentence.

But . . . What does it say to you that the claim even has to be made?

Bush spoke in Panama on the last day of a five-day swing through Latin America to promote free trade. He was addressing controversy over secret CIA prisons in foreign countries. America, Bush reminded us in case it had slipped our minds in the 20 minutes since he last reminded us, is at war.

Guess that would explain all the dead people.


In the name of fighting terror, we have terrorized, and in the name of defending our values, we have betrayed them. We have imprisoned Muslims in America and refused to say if we had them, why we had them, or even to provide them attorneys. We have passed laws making it easier for government to snoop into what you read, who you talk to, where you go. We have equated dissent with lack of patriotism, disagreement with treason. And we have tortured.

Yes, Bush says we don't do that kind of thing but, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, who you going to believe, him or your lying eyes?

the above is just the coda to the lengthy litany of atrocities committed by the criminals in the bush administration... markos made this comment earlier today in a post arguing against bush's impeachment...
We have bigger fish to fry than getting even against Bush for his misdeeds.

that's a painfully shallow comment, imho... it isn't about getting even... it's about getting rid of truly evil people who, every single day that they are left in charge, are continuing to systematically destroy everything that we hold dear... i don't give a rip about how we get them out of there... i just know that we MUST get them out...

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Swiftboating 2/3 of the U.S. population... "Bring it on...!"

(from Andrew Foster Altschul via Stephen Elliott at the Huffington Post...)
Clearly, there will be no turn toward the center. There will be no contrition, no reaching out, no soul searching. There will be no road to Damascus, no trip to China. Bush and Rove are going to try to shoot their way out of this, resorting to precisely the scummy smear tactics Patrick Fitzgerald just laid bare. They're going to keep trying to Swiftboat anyone who opposes them - except that Bush's approval rating is about 37% right now, which means they're going to have to Swiftboat almost two-thirds of the U.S.. Six in ten voters now think Bush is dishonest, and yet he's going to insist, as always, that we shut up and trust him or be branded traitors. It's almost funny.

But really it's sad. I thought, perhaps, there was a moment when better natures might take over, if only in the name of self-preservation. Once again I underestimated this man's tragic stupidity. My consolation is that it can't work. The numbers are against him now. If this is really the way he wants to spend the next three years, his reputation going down in a hail of bullets while he and Turd Blossom keep jabbering about everyone else's crimes, I say: Bring It On.

we'll see what kind of reaction the new wh p.r. campaign produces in the polls over the next few weeks...

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'Nuff said


(thanks to kos...)

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Saturday photoblogging: The Argentine Pampa


Scenes from the Argentine Pampa
in the early morning mist,
August 2005

(from wikipedia...)

The Pampas (from Quechua, meaning "plain") are the fertile South American lowlands that include the Argentine provinces of Buenos Aires, La Pampa, Santa Fe, and Córdoba, most of Uruguay, and the southernmost end of Brazil, covering more than 750,000 km² (290,000 square miles). These vast plains are only interrupted by the low Ventania mountain range near Bahía Blanca (Argentina), with 1,300 m height. The climate is mild, with precipitation of 600 to 1,200 mm, more or less evenly distributed through the year, making the soils appropriate for agriculture.

Frequent fires ensure that only small plants such as grasses flourish and trees are exceptional. The dominant vegetation types are grassy prairie and grass steppe in which numerous species of the grass genus Stipa are particularly conspicuous. "Pampas Grass" (Cortaderia selloana) is an iconic species of the Pampas. Vegetation typically includes perennial grasses and herbs. Different strata of grasses occur due to gradients of water availability. The Pampas are home to a wide variety of native species, although there is an almost absolute lack of native trees, except along main watercourses.

Its climate, as in the mid-latitudes, is naturally changeable. Winters are cool to mild and summers are very warm and humid. Rainfall is fairly uniform throughout the year but is a little heavier during the summer. Annual rainfall is heaviest near the coast and decreases gradually further inland. Rain during the late spring and summer usually arrives in the form of brief heavy showers and thunderstorms. More general rainfall occurs the remainder of the year as cold fronts and storm systems move through. Although cold spells during the winter often send nighttime temperatures below freezing, snow is quite rare. In most winters, a few light snowfalls occur over inland areas. Snow is extremely rare near the coast.

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Smacking down the disadvantaged who want to better themselves

god forbid we allow any efforts to achieve social, educational or economic equity to exist unchallenged...
Federal prosecutors are threatening to sue Southern Illinois University over three scholarship programs aimed at women and minorities, calling them discriminatory.


The Proactive Recruitment of Multicultural Professionals for Tomorrow fellowships and the Bridge to the Doctorate fellowships are aimed at increasing enrollment of minorities in graduate programs where they are underrepresented. The Proactive program, begun in 2000, has aided 78 students, while the Bridge program, begun last year, has aided 24 students.

A third program, the Graduate Dean's fellowships, are for women and minorities who have overcome adverse social, cultural or economic conditions. It was started in 2000 and has aided 27 students.

oh, the horror... the horror...

why don't they sue yale and harvard for practicing discrimination bias toward the wealthy and well-connected for admitting george bush...?

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Evangelizing at the U.S. Air Force Academy

why won't this go away...? three guesses and the first two don't count...
"Praise God that we have been allowed access by the Academy into the cadet areas to minister among the cadets. We have recently been given an unused classroom to meet with cadets at any time during the day," the husband-and-wife team of Darren and Gina Lindblom said in the Oct. 11 letter to their donors.


The Lindbloms' letter was made public by Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, a 1977 Air Force Academy alumnus who was a White House lawyer in the Reagan administration. He has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Air Force of violating the First Amendment's establishment clause by fostering evangelical Christianity over all faiths.

Weinstein, who has been joined in the suit by four recent graduates of the academy, said that some other religious groups are allowed onto the academy's campus, but only during certain hours and under close supervision by Air Force chaplains.

"The only group that gets 24/7 unrestricted access to cadets is this fundamentalist, born-again Christian group," Weinstein charged.

answer...? four words... focus on the family, located just across interstate 25 from the academy... dobson's office undoubtedly faces the beautiful rampart range, the face of the rockies, that serves as a lovely backdrop to the air force academy, and i'm sure he simply can't stand to think of all that intelligent youth just sitting there, waiting to be proselytized...


Focus on the Family headquarters in
Colorado Springs. The Rampart Range
is behind the building in the upper
right. The Air Force Academy lies
at the foot of the Rampart Range.

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Wrapping lies in the flag

obviously, rove is back in the saddle... they're all singin' from the same page, the vicious edge is back, patriotism is used to silence critics and seeking truth and knowledge is branded as giving aid and comfort to terrorists... it's same ol', same ol'... but will it work on a public that has started to emerge from its trance...?

all together now... a-one, a-two, a-three...

[Bush] said the troops in Iraq deserve to know "that their elected leaders who voted to send them to war continue to stand behind them."
Mehlman, addressing a GOP dinner in Fort Wayne, Ind., mocked Democratic calls for further investigation into the handling of intelligence before the war. "Maybe this investigation will reveal that they were brainwashed."
"We cannot allow a mythology to develop that somehow it was inappropriate to be frightened" of Hussein, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said in an interview. "The president absolutely should take on what I would describe as the surrender wing of American foreign policy."
"I point out that some of the critics today believed themselves in 2002 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, said Thursday at a news briefing. "They stated that belief, and they voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq because they believed Saddam Hussein posed a dangerous threat to the American people. For those critics to ignore their own past statements, exposes the hollowness of their current attacks."

it's hard to find the right words to characterize such tactics... all of them have been so overused - unscrupulous, vile, manipulative, dishonest - the list goes on and on... they need to leave... all of them...

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Liberal columnist axed at LA Times

beginning wednesday, robert scheer's column will move to the huffington post...
On Friday I was fired as a columnist by the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, where I have worked for thirty years. The publisher, Jeff Johnson, who has offered not a word of explanation to me, has privately told people that he hated every word that I wrote. I assume that mostly refers to my exposing the lies used by President Bush to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Fortunately sixty percent of Americans now get the point, but only after tens of thousand of Americans and Iraqis have been killed and maimed as the carnage spirals out of control. My only regret is that my pen was not sharper and my words tougher.

just another sign that blogs may well be the last stand for truth and free expression, at least until bush figures out a way to strangle the internet and silence them as well...

smooth move, arianna, you filthy rich, well-connected, l.a. diva, you...

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How do you know when a liar is telling the truth...?

answer: you don't... media matters puts the deception of the bush presidency in historical context...
It wasn't long ago that some of America's leading news organizations thought that a president's deception was cause for resignation. The Chicago Tribune, for example, called for Bill Clinton's resignation in a September 15, 1998, editorial. One reason the Tribune gave was that Clinton's statements about the Monica Lewinsky matter would make it difficult to trust him in the future: "Who will know when he's telling the truth and when he's not, whether he's being sincere or play-acting, whether his word is his bond or just another artful dodge?"

That's a question news organizations should start asking again: "Who will know when he's telling the truth and when he's not?"

i have never trusted one single thing that's come out of that guy's mouth, not from day one... his speech, his facial expressions, his tone of voice and his body language just shriek "liar..."

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Getting to Rove through Libby

murray waas throws a bit more weight behind what many of us have suspected...
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald delayed a decision on whether to seek criminal charges against Karl Rove in large part because he wants to determine whether Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, can provide information on Rove's role in the CIA leak case, according to attorneys involved in the investigation.

patient... methodical... devastatingly thorough... completely professional... and not a partisan bone in his body...
Katy Harriger, a professor of political science at Wake Forest University, who has authored two books on special prosecutors, says that Fitzgerald's open-ended case on Rove is no different from what any ordinary prosecutor would do with any defendant. "It is fairly routine that you are not going to be clearing someone until you hear from a central witness, even if it means [that it takes you] two years to clear your other case before you hear them."

beginning with the press conference, patrick fitzgerald immediately moved to the top of my present-day list of heroes... yeah, i wish he was moving faster but i would much rather he do his job accurately and well...

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Bush: the liar accuses his critics of lying

yeah, hadley was obviously just the warm-up act...
President Bush forcefully attacked critics of the war in Iraq on Friday, accusing them of trying to rewrite history and saying they are undercutting American forces on the front lines. "The stakes in the global war on terror are too high and the national interest is too important for politicians to throw out false charges," the president said in his combative Veterans Day speech.

it ain't gonna work, george... most everybody's on to you now, you lying sack of shit...

and how dare you take veterans day to defend sending americans to their deaths in a needless war of your choice...

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Featured blog: Bread and Circuses - Fair and Unbalanced

i began featuring a blog on this page last week... it seemed to work fairly well so i've decided to continue... each featured blog will stay up for a week... i will try to select those that i think have something to offer, not necessarily politics and news, but intelligent, unique and creative...

this week, one of the blogs, bread and circuses, an effort of andrew donaldson, is featured... you can pay him a visit by clicking here or on the graphic in the right-hand column just below the babel fish translation icon...

if you would like to feature your blog, visit here and sign up...

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The reassuring presence of Condi in Iraq

[T]he secretary arrived at a military airport and rode by helicopter to a U.S. base near Mosul, flying over sheep grazing next to the roofless shells of bombed-out buildings and houses.

gettin' those ferragamo shoes a bit dusty, are we...?
Rice, who flew in from Bahrain, said her main goal was to urge Iraq's diverse political parties to reach across sectarian lines and create a single country where everyone felt "fully protected." [...] Rice said she delivered the same message of unity to Iraqi deputy prime minister Ahmad Chalabi during her meeting with him in Washington this week.

the fact that she would even REFERENCE her meeting with ahmad-the-crook is startling...
"If Iraq does not succeed and should Iraq become a place of despair, generations of Americans would also be condemned to fear," Rice said at a ceremony for the first of the teams. "So our fates and our futures are very much linked."

oh, the futures of the u.s. and iraq are linked, no doubt about it... just not in the way or for the reasons she thinks...

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B-A-A-AD critics...! We lied to you and you believed it...! SHAME...!

The White House decided to respond aggressively in hopes of convincing the American people that Bush relied in good faith on intelligence that proved wrong in an effort to protect them -- rather than skewing the data to rationalize a war he was already determined to wage, as many Democrats contend.

hey, convince away but i ain't buying it...

evidently, it's ok to hand out false information, get people to act as if it's true and then skewer them later on when they find out they've been had...

"I point out that some of the critics today believed themselves in 2002 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, said Thursday at a news briefing. "They stated that belief, and they voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq because they believed Saddam Hussein posed a dangerous threat to the American people. For those critics to ignore their own past statements, exposes the hollowness of their current attacks."

this sounds like something one of your kids would pull... "dad... i TOLD you i would only be out until 11 and you said that was no problem... now, just because some stupid neighbor THINKS he saw me coming in at 1:30, you want to GROUND ME...? you want to believe the NEIGHBOR instead of ME...? dad... that's JUST NOT FAIR..."

why does the wh insist on thinking we're all terminally stupid...?

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Humanity gone wanting in the Senate

I woke up to this.

NYT-Senate Approves Limiting Rights of U.S. Detainees
The Senate voted Thursday to strip captured "enemy combatants" at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, of the principal legal tool given to them last year by the Supreme Court when it allowed them to challenge their detentions in United States courts.

[ . . . ]

Mr. Graham said the measure was necessary to eliminate a blizzard of legal claims from prisoners that was tying up Department of Justice resources, and slowing the ability of federal interrogators to glean information from detainees that have been plucked off the battlefields of Afghanistan and elsewhere.

"It is not fair to our troops fighting in the war on terror to be sued in every court in the land by our enemies based on every possible complaint," Mr. Graham said. "We have done nothing today but return to the basics of the law of armed conflict where we are dealing with enemy combatants, not common criminals."

Oh fer cryin' out loud. He is using the same "frivoulous lawsuit" language they have used before to gut Americans' right to sue. Honestly, I am just ill this morning. Where the hell has my country gone?

Five Dems voted for it, four Republicans against. Nine senators were MIA. I will give you five guesses as to who the Dems were that voted for this P.O.S. Okay, I won't make you guess. Can we please mount primary challenges against these Haters Of Democracy?
The five Democrats voting for the bill were Senators Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Veterans Day - a personal memoir

(if you have never visited a veterans hospital, you should... just go sit in the lobby some day and watch... if you've never been to a va hospital, i guarantee, you will never see veterans the same again...)

ok, it was only a half-day...


The glass doors slid apart with a quiet swoosh. Three men walked in, one after the other and lined up behind the log-in desk. They backed away briefly in unison as another man who had just finished maneuvered his electric cart away from the counter with practiced, back-and-forth bursts of motion.

When it came his turn, the third man set down the briefcase containing his laptop computer and files and handed his card to the desk clerk.

After scanning the card, the clerk squinted at his computer screen. "8 o'clock, blood work in the lab. 1 o'clock, Green Team on the 4th floor."

"I was supposed to see the pharmacist at..."

"That was cancelled," the clerk interrupted.

"Yeah, it was cancelled and then it was re-scheduled," the man said, reaching for his appointment sheet.

"Yeah, it was cancelled and then it was cancelled again," the clerk said, dismissively shaking his head.

"Nobody told me," the man muttered, taking his card back from the clerk, slipping it in his shirtfront pocket and turning to walk down the hall to the blood draw area.

"Tonight, President Bush holds his first prime time televised news conference in nearly a year," the television newscaster intoned as the man found a seat in the waiting area.

"I didn't sleep worth shit last night," complained the scrawny man in the brown, knit stocking cap as he leaned over to another man sitting in a wheelchair in front of him who was concentrating on flipping up the footrest with his foot. "How did you sleep?"

"I woke up about 4," the equally scrawny man in the wheelchair said. "I'm really tired of their bullshit here, you know?" he continued. "I'm just not going to cooperate with 'em any more, you know what I mean?"

The first man nodded. "I told my doc, 'This must be as good as it gets 'cause it don't get no better.' Screw it."

"If I had two legs," the man in the wheelchair said over his shoulder to the man in the hat, "I'd get me a horse and the equipment and head into the woods. Only come out when I needed more meds."

A man in a white lab coat appeared in the doorway with a clipboard and started calling names.

"See that guy?" the man in the wheelchair said in a voice meant to be overheard. "He's one of the assholes."

Hearing his name, the man with the briefcase picked it up and headed across the hall, retrieving the card from his shirt pocket and handing it to the lab technician as he went.

"Wait right here," the technician said as he took the card to a computer and ran it under a scanner.

The man leaned against the door jamb, watching as lab technicians scurried to and fro with stoppered tubes full of thick, dark red liquid.

"Take chair number 4, there on your left," the technician said.

The man walked down between the row of stations, put down his case, settled into the chair and pulled the arm rest across in front of him. As he rolled up his sleeve, he watched as a woman tech drew blood from the man across the row.

"It's hard to find a good one on you," the tech said to the man as she rubbed her thumb around on the inside of his elbow, probing for a good vein.

"I've been pricked so many times I'm not surprised," the man chuckled.

"There's one," she said as she slid the needle quickly and carefully under the skin.

"Good for you," he said.

The technician with the clipboard reappeared, laid it on a table with a clatter and walked over to the man with the briefcase.

"Your full name? Your full social? Ok, good," he said. "You from Colorado?"

"You recognize the first three numbers, I see," the man said. "Yeah, I'm from Colorado. You too?"

"Nah, but I see so many I start to recognize where they're from. Now that this state's grown so much, they've added some numbers and I'm not sure I know about Nevada any more."

"Yeah, I've got a head full of trivia myself," the man said. "Area codes, zip codes."

The technician laughed and nodded vigorously, obviously pleased to meet another collector of odd information.

"I've expanded, though" the man said. "Country codes."

"Wow," the technician exclaimed in unconcealed admiration. "Country codes. Never thought of that." He paused as he wrapped a blue elastic pressure strip around the man's arm and over the small ball of cotton he had placed stragetically over the tiny puncture. "Well, there you go. You have a good day, sir," he said.

"You too," the man said as he lifted his jacket and briefcase off the floor. He looked at his watch. "Hmmm. 8:30," he thought to himself, "and I should probably be back by 12:30. I wonder what time Borders opens. Oh, well. Starbucks has wi-fi and they're right there too."

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Rove droppings

if i were to mouth off in the fashion of the far-right wingnuts, i would comment on rove's speech before the federalist society tonight by saying that i think he and his anti-everything-this-country-stands-for friends ought to be herded into a cage and neutered so they can't breed... but that would be somewhat extreme, so i won't...

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How the mighty have fallen...!

if he'd just keep on fallin', right out the door... 36% is cold comfort when that gang is still in office...
Today, 36 percent of Americans approve and 53 percent disapprove of the job Bush is doing as president. For comparison, two weeks ago 41 percent said they approved and 51 percent disapproved, and at the beginning of his second term 50 percent approved and 40 percent disapproved (January 25-26).

is it possible to fall into the minus digits...?

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ALERT...!! Humanity spotted in Congress...!

a rare sighting...
House Republican leaders scuttled a vote Thursday on a $51 billion budget-cut package in the face of a revolt by moderate lawmakers over cuts to Medicaid, food stamp and student loan programs.

The episode marked a setback for Republicans on Capitol Hill. They had hoped to use the budget debate to burnish their deficit-cutting credentials with the public and their core political supporters, many of whom are disappointed with their party's performance on spending.

House GOP leaders agreed last night to strip plans to permit oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in the offshore continental shelf from a $54 billion budget-cutting measure, probably securing the votes to pass the bill today.

The decision by GOP leaders came despite a big concession to moderates Wednesday, when the leaders dropped provisions to open the Arctic National Refuge to oil and gas exploration, as well as a plan letting states lift a moratorium on oil drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

it's truly astounding what happens when bush's popularity has fallen through the floorboards and rove isn't in the background beating his drum and calling cadence... humanity breaks out...

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Would you trust Rumsfeld with a decision on whether or not you should be tortured?

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld can authorize exceptions to a new Defense Department policy on military interrogations that bars torture and calls for "humane" treatment of detainees, a spokesman said.


A little noticed loophole in the directive, which was made public Tuesday, gives the secretary of defense or his deputy authority to override the policy.

i can't remember where i read it but someone, a few weeks ago, said that he thought rumsfeld was insane... sure stuck with me...

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To the vets - Go away, we don't wanna hear it...

despicable... unbelievable... disgusting... as a vet who is not a member of any veterans group, i still know that these groups speak for a lot of us and work very hard to serve a population that not only needs but richly deserves it... go hang around a veterans hospital for a while some day... you'll come away very enlightened...
A proposal to end the long-standing practice of veterans groups addressing a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees is an insult to all who have fought, sacrificed and died to defend the Constitution, according to the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). And in a strongly worded letter to House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), the DAV has urged him to continue the joint hearings as an invaluable tool in formulating public policy toward America's veterans.

Chairman Buyer recently announced that veterans service organizations will no longer have the opportunity to present testimony before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees.

"The tradition of legislative presentations by veterans service organizations dates back to at least the 1950s. And the timing of this announcement -- just before Veterans Day -- could not have been worse," said DAV National Commander Paul W. Jackson.

For several decades now, these joint hearings have been held each year to allow the elected leaders of veterans groups to discuss their organization's legislative agenda and foremost concerns with the lawmakers who have jurisdiction over federal veterans programs. Senators and Representatives who serve on those committees also get the rare opportunity to address the hundreds of constituent members from these organizations' who make the annual pilgrimage to Capitol Hill.

"The right to fully participate in the democratic process is a cornerstone of our nation," said Commander Jackson. "Eliminating these joint hearings is an insult to the men and women who have fought, sacrificed and died to protect our Constitutional rights, including the right to petition the government."

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Outsourcing torture - it's not just for call centers any more

directly related to the previous post as well as the post i put up yesterday relating to the u.n. convention against torture...
Six countries -- the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Sweden and Kyrgyzstan -- have been singled out for violating international human rights conventions by deporting terrorist suspects to countries such as Egypt, Syria, Algeria and Uzbekistan, where they may have been tortured.

gee, if we succeed with regime change in syria, we'll have to find another country to replace them...

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Secret prisons - there may be an entire network of "black sites"

how many and how long has it been going on...?
On Monday, Amnesty International released a report providing detailed information on three Yemeni nationals who were illegally held in secret detention centres or "black sites" run by the United States.

Muhammad al-Assad, Salah Ali and Muhammad Bashmilah were arrested in Yemen in 2003 and handed over to U.S. custody, at which point they "disappeared" for a year and a half until resurfacing in Yemeni custody this past May.

Through interviews with the three men after they were released, Amnesty International uncovered evidence that during the interim, they had been held in complete isolation in a series of U.S.-run secret detention centres.

While there have been widespread reports recently that the United States is holding two to three dozen "high-value" detainees at secret CIA-run facilities outside the country, the cases of the three "disappeared" Yemenis documented in the new Amnesty International report "suggest that the network of clandestine interrogation centres is not reserved solely for high-value detainees, but may be larger, more comprehensive and better organised than previously suspected," the report maintains.

yes, and the icrc must be allowed access which, of course, would mean the sites wouldn't be secret any more...

(from the introduction to the report...)
Imagine that one minute you are eating dinner with your family and the next you are hooded, handcuffed, and dragged away. Your family is not told where you were taken. After your initial interrogation, you are taken to a plane: it takes off, but no one tells you where it’s going and when it lands you don’t even know what country you’re in.

You are put in a cell, completely isolated, with no windows and only a bucket for a toilet. Artificial lights are on all the time and a constant low-level hum comes out of the loudspeakers. You cannot sleep and feel very anxious. The guards, dressed completely in black, communicate only with hand gestures. Interrogators insult you about the things most sacred to you and make you stand motionless for long periods of time. You feel like you are going mad and just want this to stop. And to make matters worse, you still haven’t been told why you are there, nor are you allowed to speak to a lawyer or your family. No one knows where you are.

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"Common sense is a more useful tool..."

thomas oliphant observes the diminishing allure of the far-right wing brand of fundamentalist extremism in virginia and extrapolates the current mood of the nation...
For a full generation, the very conservative state of Virginia has been attempting to instruct the rest of the country on the perils of grand political and ideological theory.


The uncomfortable truth for those who worship ideologies is that common sense is a more useful tool in facing this country's serious problems than rigid tenets.


In politics, the pendulum is always moving, and once again, Virginia is the primary reality check.

at this point, i'd be grateful for any kind of sense, common or otherwise...

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BREAKING: Talking asshole discovered at Fox

what's truly astounding is that it is offered up to a national television audience and thus validated as legitimate and acceptable...
On the November 7 broadcast of his syndicated radio show, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly claimed that "[o]ne of the few countries in Europe that really doesn't speak English on a large level is France, because they don't like us." When co-host E.D. Hill said that the French "like their own culture and they try to preserve it," O'Reilly appeared to agree, then added: "But when, you know, you don't take a shower for 18 days, you know --."

media matters keeps a close eye on this anatomical phenomenon, which is fine with me because i would certainly not want to be the one to do it...

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

very, very, very interesting... the u.s. may very well be in violation in several areas of the convention it signed and agreed to observe...

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, published by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 10 December 1984 with an entry into force date of 26 June 1987, was signed by the United States on 18 April 1988 and ratified by the United States Senate on 21 October 1994.

Articles of particular relevance...


Article 1

1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

Article 3

1. No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

Article 4

1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.

2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.

Article 10

1. Each State Party shall ensure that education and information regarding the prohibition against torture are fully included in the training of law enforcement personnel, civil or military, medical personnel, public officials and other persons who may be involved in the custody, interrogation or treatment of any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment.

Article 11

Each State Party shall keep under systematic review interrogation rules, instructions, methods and practices as well as arrangements for the custody and treatment of persons subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment in any territory under its jurisdiction, with a view to preventing any cases of torture.

Article 12

Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.

Article 13

Each State Party shall ensure that any individual who alleges he has been subjected to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to complain to, and to have his case promptly and impartially examined by, its competent authorities. Steps shall be taken to ensure that the complainant and witnesses are protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of his complaint or any evidence given.

Article 14

1. Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. In the event of the death of the victim as a result of an act of torture, his dependants shall be entitled to compensation.

Article 15

Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made.

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Oil prices go up and down from year to year...


(thanks for the expression, atrios... i haven't used it in a while...!)

Lee Raymond, chairman of Exxon Mobil Corp., said he recognizes that high gasoline prices "have put a strain on Americans' household budgets" but he defended his company's huge profits, saying petroleum earnings "go up and down" from year to year.

ExxonMobil, the worlds' largest publicly trade oil company, earned nearly $10 billion in the third quarter. Raymond was joined at the witness table by the chief executives of Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, BPAmerica Inc., and Shell Oil Company.

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Altering WH press briefing transcripts...?

you gotta be kiddin' me...!! think progress has the goods...

it'll be interesting to hear the 'splainin'... assuming there IS some 'splainin' and not the usual stonewalling...

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Free trade - oy and vey...

there's been a discussion/debate on free trade underway at tpm cafe's book club... i confess to some frustration over that particular venue (tpm cafe) because my reaction to much of what goes on there is that it's a great deal of intellectual masturbation, credential-flaunting, and battles among varying schools of thought somewhat akin to gryffindor and slytherin at hogwarts... i am, however, interested in the topic of trade and its global consequences... the post by alan blinder, an economics professor at princeton, prompted me to engage in my own form of intellectual self-abuse...

here's how blinder's post kicked off...

"Liberals" seem [to] have been renamed "progressives" these days, but for some reason they still seem to be hostile to freer trade--although Gene Sperling is a refreshing exception. As a liberal/progressive economist, this hostility to trade has long pained me. Frankly, I don't see anything "progressive" about protectionism.

and here's my unusually long-winded response...
i can only speak for myself... i don't pretend to carry the intellectual heft or credentials of many of the posters here and, for that, i'm glad, quite honestly...

i am certainly not against trade nor do i disagree with many of your points... but i do see a dilemma and i have seen that dilemma playing out for quite some time... the examples i will cite are those gathered through observation and experience, not dialogue and policy debate... again, these are from observation and experience...

i have watched nafta transform the face of mexico and not in a good way... when i saw that a walmart and sams club had opened in navajoa, a medium-sized city on mexico's west coast which 25 years before had mostly dirt streets and mom and pop shops, i knew that significant changes had occurred... and it's not just the walmarts... it's home depot, it's officemax, and it's costco... what are those changes...?

well, for one, there's the usual spate of business closures due to the big box competition... what's more interesting, though, is the fact that those big box outlets are essentially charging u.s. prices for their goods which means that the vast majority of folks can't afford to shop there... however, the upper end across the country now has convenient access to all of the goodies they previously had to obtain in either the u.s. or mexico city... even more interesting is that those outlets are paying their help mexican wages... what does this mean...?

what it means is that nafta has done nothing to ameliorate the yawning gap between the rich and the poor of mexico and, in fact, has served to increase it... the carlos slims of mexico, who already owned most of the assets that the big boxes required, have been able to latch on to a lot of that investment and, as a result, have added significant wealth to their already mind-boggling riches and are now in the process of expanding their empires well beyond mexico's borders (examples: telmex, bimbo, cemex)...

u.s. cargo trailers being pulled by mexican tractors are omnipresent on mexican highways... they're literally everywhere, right on down south past mexico city... i make it a point to try to spot mexican cargo trailers in the u.s... there used to be none... now there are nearly none... all the mexican products proliferating in the u.s. stores these days come across the border in u.s. trailers that would otherwise be deadheading home... while this may be good for some u.s. and mexican trucking companies, we all know what truck drivers get paid and what the over-the-road trucker's life is like... if you don't, i'll tell you... they're both shit...

what has trade meant for macedonia, formerly part of yugoslavia, a country where i have spent some time...? quite simply, the local producers are getting killed... every product on the shelf, no matter what unfamiliar brand name it might have, when you read the fine print on the label, reads proctor and gamble, unilever, biersdorf, nestle, etc... for clothing, if it isn't an internationally recognized brand (nike, quicksilver, adidas, reebok, tommy hilfiger, etc.) or an acceptable knock-off, people won't buy it... the domestic textile, food and consumer products industries are desperately trying to find competitive niche markets but, so far, have not been very successful...

what has trade meant for the u.s...? it's very simple and very plain to see... the middle class is being exterminated... employers can't afford their pension programs, their union contracts, their benefits programs, their wage scales, or the numbers of employees in their workforce... none of those items, for various reasons, are competitive on the world market... the poor of other countries are not being raised up, the workers of the u.s. are being pushed down... the companies that are tied up with union contracts and huge financial obligations to their employees are adopting bankruptcy as a strategy to shed them... industries that have no such obligations are simply doing it and employees have no recourse... skilled construction tradesmen where i live, a right-to-work state, are earning $8 an hour...

no, i'm not against trade... yes, i consider myself both a liberal and a progressive... but what i would suggest, gentlemen and women, is that you climb out of the towers of your rhetoric and policy debates, take a walk around the highways and byways of the world's grassroots, and then propose some workable way we can all move forward and can all win... right now, we're working on a lose-lose proposition - unless, of course, you're a big capital holder...

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Argentina's Kirchner tells Mexico's Fox to mind his own business

Amid the continuing fallout from last week’s stalemated Summit of the Americas, President Néstor Kirchner yesterday warned his Mexican counterpart Vicente Fox — who criticized him for opposing a United States-led free trade regional pact — to mind his own business, even suggesting Fox was a US puppet.

"Let President Fox mind about Mexico.
I was voted into office by the Argentine people and I will engage in defending Argentines in the due way," said Kirchner during a rally in the Greater Buenos Aires district of Ezeiza.

In media interviews earlier this week, Fox said that as host of the 34-nation gathering, Kirchner was responsible for seeking consensus on restarting talks on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) pact.

"Instead, the impression several of us got there is that the president’s thinking was directed more at satisfying public opinion in Argentina, and involved more with Argentines’ image of the president, than achieving a successful summit, with American integration," [Fox] said.


Kirchner, popular at home for standing up to the International Monetary Fund and multinationals, even insinuated Fox was a puppet of the US. "For some, good diplomacy is to engage in pleasantries and bow down to the big ones," he said.

well, mexico and the u.s. do share a border and the u.s. is mexico's biggest trading partner, bar-none... however, fox's support of bush in trade is more than counterbalanced by his tepid to non-existent support in other areas, two prime examples being iraq and cuba (although mexico and cuba have had their own share of problems)... things started to go downhill between fox and bush shortly after their first visit in 2001, after bush basically let mexico fall off of his screen...

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Voice your opinion on Chalabi

steve clemons has all the details... here's the summary...
A Short Rap Sheet on Ahmad Chalabi:


Greet Ahmad Chalabi as he arrives to deliver his speeches

Today, 2 p.m. (EST), American Enterprise Institute, 1150 17th Street, NW, D.C.

Friday, 3 p.m. (EST), Council on Foreign Relations, Harold Pratt House, 58 E. 68th Street, NYC

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"The man is an imbecile."

Bush isn’t going to make a comeback. He’s fallen and he can’t get up.

A comeback presupposes substance and ability. A worthy character who has suffered some setbacks, bad luck or simple human mistakes can make a comeback because he has it in him. Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, Michael Jordan, the Boston Red Sox can mount comebacks. The Arizona Cardinals are not making a comeback this season. They don’t have the team and the ability to straighten out what has gone wrong. They will continue to lose until the end of the season.

George Bush is the Arizona Cardinals. His team is terrible and he refuses to change any of his players. He doesn’t have the personality suited for making necessary changes. Quickly adjusting to changing circumstances is not his forte, stubbornness is. Even if he had the inclination to make a change, he doesn’t have the ability. He simply doesn’t know what the hell he is doing.

We’ve been playing most of his speeches and press conferences on our radio show for the last three years. After having listened to him talk about the issues for all that time, there is no polite way to put this – the man is an imbecile.

i'm not sure i agree with the imbecile part...

of course, my speculations are not nearly as informed as some but, my take, for what it's worth, is that, as we all know, bush came to rely heavily on the advice of those closest and most loyal to him... with rove, doing so earned him first the texas governor's office and then the presidency... once president, continuing to follow supposedly sage advice seemed prudent... enter cheney... with cheney and rove perched on each shoulder and a impenetrable cadre of loyalists surrounding him, bush felt reaffirmed as he continued to ride high in the polls and largely bend congress and the public to his will... insulated from reality, as so many have pointed out, made him highly vulnerable to the dark and/or misguided intentions of others... when the train left the tracks as it did some time ago in iraq and, again, most spectacularly during katrina, bush was presented with the opportunity, indeed the necessity, to think and strategize for himself, a task he has never done either as governor or as president...

is bush's intellect up to the task...? i think it probably is... does he have the desire...? i would venture to say that survival, one of mankind's deepest instincts, must, at this point, be making itself felt... so, if he has the mental horsepower and the desire, is he capable of developing the necessary skills - the skills of being a REAL president - quickly enough to matter...? ah, there's the real question... those skills are customarily developed over a long period of time, beginning with rudimentary trial and error and becoming sharper and more refined with age, practice, and increasing wisdom... i see george as just beginning... he'll be a most interesting case study over the next few months - if he lasts that long...

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Looks like the Dems are kicking butt and Bush lost his bet

the virginia democratic gubernatorial candidate, kaine, has claimed victory over kilgore and democrat jon corzine has been declared the winner of the governor's race in new jersey...

since bush made an 11th hour appearance with kilgore yesterday and the wapo subsequently dubbed that race a "referendum" on bush, maybe kilgore is kinda wishing george had stayed home... further proof, as if we needed any, that bush and the r's are in deep and serious shit...

check hotline and kos for updates...

(here's the wapo snippet...)
Peter Baker: "In jumping into the Virginia governor's race just 10 hours before polling booths open, President Bush put his credibility on the line last night and ensured that the results will be interpreted as a referendum on his troubled presidency. But the White House is gambling that after weeks of political tribulations, Bush has little more to lose. . . .

"White House strategists evidently calculated that a Kilgore defeat would be seen as a defeat for Bush even if the president did not set foot on the southern side of the Potomac . . . [while] if Kilgore wins, it would offer a well-timed vindication of Bush's clout. . .

bush rolled the dice and he lost...

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Steve Clemons ponders citizen's arrest of Chalabi tomorrow in D.C.

why this self-serving charlatan is being given the time of day by anyone in this country is beyond me... i hope there's a mob around the american enterprise institute to give this crook a full-throated chorus of raspberries (or conduct a citizen's arrest) when he arrives for his speech tomorrow at 2:30 p.m...
While the Citizen's Arrest Law in D.C. seems to require the actual real-time witnessing of a felony, I'm not so sure that Chalabi's violations of American law in the past don't already constitute grounds for Citizen's Arrest.

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Secret prisons leak - an R flat tire at 90mph...

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has signed a letter calling for an investigation into who leaked information about secret CIA prisons to the Washington Post, after earlier denying that he has signed it, CNN reported Tuesday evening.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert has also signed the letter.

all the nasty, invective-laden, right-wing punditry accusing dems, the cia, whoever, just had a blow-out on the expressway at 90mph...
Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) told CNN's Ed Henry Tuesday afternoon that he believed it was a Republican senator who gave information about secret CIA jails abroad to the Washington Post.

good ol' trent... he even used one of my favorite quotes, from pogo...
"We can not remain silent. We have met the enemy, and it is us."

the r's have this thing about investigating themselves...

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Slowly, very slowly, dumb-ass Bush is waking up to Uncle Dick

when you don't have what it takes to do the job and you rely on a vp and a chief political advisor/deputy chief of staff who are both strongly allied with the forces of darkness and you accept their advice whole cloth, you better be prepared for the consequences...

bush is a big boy (some might argue otherwise), he makes his own choices, he has a brain (again, some might argue otherwise), and there's no reason on god's green earth why he couldn't have made his own independent analyses of the wisdom of what he was being told... but no... he didn't... and now, he's gonna pay... tough shit, george...

we'll all just wait to see if his self-proclaimed toughness and decisiveness will lead him to do what has to be done or if he's going to go into his usual avoidance and denial mode and hope that it will all go away...

[S]ources familiar with Bush's thinking say Cheney's zealous advocacy for what has become a troubled Iraq policy has taken a toll - especially since Cheney's predictions about how Iraq would play out have proven optimistic.

These sources also said Libby's indictment was a wakeup call for White House aides who have long believed the Cheney national security operation has enjoyed too much of a free hand in administration policymaking.

"The vice president's office will never be quite as independent from the White House as it has been," said a key Bush associate. "That will end.

"Cheney never operated without a degree of [presidential] license, but there are people around who cannot believe some of the advice [Bush] has been given."

The source declined to offer any specifics, citing the extraordinary sensitivity surrounding the Bush-Cheney relationship.

The News reported on Oct. 24 that Bush has told associates Cheney was overly immersed in intelligence issues in the runup to the 2003 Iraq war.

A highly placed source said the President believes Cheney "got too deeply concerned with being portrayed as the source of the Wilson trip."

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Rove's Texas judicial system

texas judges are elected in highly partisan contests in a system partly created by karl rove... now we can watch as delay's indictment progresses through an unholy mess in search of nonpartisan justice...
"Judges in Texas swing the gavel with one hand and take money with the other," said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, a nonpartisan group that tracks the influence of money and corporate power in the state.

Mr. McDonald called the campaign gifts to the judges legal yet highly suspect, and traced the ballooning costs of judicial races to the assault on Democratic power in Texas by the presidential adviser Karl Rove.

Thomas R. Phillips, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court from 1988 to 2004 and an opponent of partisan judicial elections, linked the trend to events long before Mr. Rove's efforts. "We were probably the first state in the nation to make judicial races as expensive as hotly contested regular political campaigns," he said.


The complaints against the Texas judicial system have a long history. In 1987, "60 Minutes," in a program called "Justice for Sale," showed Texas Supreme Court justices taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from lawyers appearing before them. Eleven years later, "60 Minutes" found that little had changed.

In 1998, Texas for Public Justice issued its own report, finding that the seven Texas Supreme Court justices elected since 1994 had raised $9.2 million, of which 40 percent came from interests with cases before the court. A survey taken for the court itself, the group said, found that nearly half of the judges themselves thought that campaign contributions significantly affected their decisions.

damn... that's a ton of conflicts of interest, all perfectly legal of course...
George Shipley, a Democrat and former political consultant in Austin, [said] "Tom DeLay stands guilty of judge shopping in the most egregious and abusive form."

buyin' and sellin'... that's tommy...!

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Fujimori sneaking into Peru via the back door...?

i posted back on october 17 about former peruvian president alberto fujimori's plans to return to peru from japan and run for reelection next year despite an outstanding warrant for his arrest in peru on charges of murder and corruption committed during his decade-long presidency...

fujimori abandoned his office in 2000 and re-appeared in japan where he holds japanese citizenship... the japanese government consistently refused peru's request for his extradition... there was a great deal of public speculation on exactly how fujimori planned to return to peru... there are no direct flights from tokyo to lima which meant a likely stop in los angeles to change planes where he would almost certainly be arrested... it looks like he made it as far as santiago...

Fujimori, 67, who fled to Japan after a corruption scandal toppled his government in 2000, recently stated his intention to defy an international arrest warrant and return to Peru to run for president in 2006. He landed in a private plane in Santiago, the Chilean capital, Sunday afternoon and was arrested by Chilean officials without resisting at the Marriott Hotel early Monday morning. He was being held at a police training academy.


If extradited to Peru, Fujimori would face more than 20 criminal charges, from vote-buying to co-authoring murders carried out by army death squads. Among the most serious charges are the 1991 killings of 15 partygoers, including an 8-year-old boy, who were mistaken for leftist rebels.


Fujimori traveled to Chile on a private jet, which stopped briefly in Tijuana, Mexico, according to a statement by Mexican officials. His choice to try to enter Peru via Chile coincided with heightened tensions between the two countries over a maritime dispute over Pacific Ocean fishing grounds.

"It's a pretty . . . imprudent attitude to come here with no warning during the week that has been the worst one we've had with Peru in the last 10 years," said Chilean Foreign Minister Ignacio Walker, the Associated Press reported.

"imprudent..." yeah, you could say that...

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Iraq: "The greatest foreign debacle of a lifetime."

h.d.s. greenway in the boston globe...
We know now that the decision to invade Iraq was made on a neo-imperial design for the Middle East, and weapons of mass destruction were the excuse that people would accept. We know that this administration took advantage of Sept. 11 to scratch its Iraq itch, even though Sept. 11 had nothing to do with Iraq.

We know now that then secretary of state Colin Powell's WMD performance at the United Nations was nonsense, and, as he himself admits, an indelible stain on his record and reputation. We know how men like Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld bought into a utopian grand design and took a deeply inexperienced young president along with them.

And we know now what a deep and damaging failure this botched dip into idealistic colonialism has been, and how it has hurt our cause of trying to combat Islamic extremism.

I left here with Joe Wilson nearly 15 years ago, but because the son lacked the wisdom of the father, I am back in this demeaned and bitter city witnessing the greatest foreign debacle of a lifetime.

how can it be that this president is still in office...? how can it be that cheney is still in office...? how can it be that rumsfeld is still at his post...?

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A porteño view of the Summit of the Americas

(porteño = a resident of buenos aires...)

for major headline events, it's always fascinating to get the take of those who were there... admittedly, the english-language buenos aires herald is the only bsas paper i read which leaves me without a point of comparison, but, i can tell you, they do a pretty good job of watchdogging president kirchner, an example our own u.s. media could take to heart...
The host must shoulder his responsibility for the failure of any party and the Mar del Plata summit was no exception. If everybody lost, it was partly because President Néstor Kirchner — torn between Bush (his chief support in debt talks) and Chávez (his main oil supplier) — lacked the hemispheric vision or the diplomatic skill (especially with an improvised, lame duck foreign minister) to throw the chairman’s weight behind anybody or to steer the agenda in a more promising direction. Kirchner’s alignment with the Mercosur position against the FTAA clashes with the way he himself undermines Mercosur by maintaining differences with Brazil (over the trade gap), Uruguay (pulp mills) and Paraguay (the presence of US troops). Snubbing President Vicente Fox of Mexico (a three-billion-dollar customer with huge room for growth) for his pro-FTAA stance made even less sense.

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Argentina modifies its stance on FTAA

kinda sorta... at least for the public record...
Argentina said yesterday there is nothing wrong with seeking to create a free trade area in the Americas (FTAA) but that the "context" is not suitable to open the talks yet.

The comment by Cabinet Chief Alberto Fernández appeared to tone down the government’s staunch anti-FTAA stance during last week’s Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, which failed to resolve differences on setting up the trade zone linking the Americas from Canada to Patagonia.

"There is nothing wrong with the FTAA. The problem is trying to implement it in this context and under these conditions," said Fernández on radio.

The resistance of Argentina, along with the rest of Mercosur countries and Venezuela, led to the inclusion of two different views in the final statement of the 34-nation summit.

The United States and 28 other countries were in favour of moving forward with the FTAA, while Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela stated they were not ready to take part in the creation of the bloc.

After the summit, Bush flew to Brazil, where he agreed with President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva on Sunday to put their differences on trade aside and jointly push for progress towards a global trade deal, a move some interpreted as a change in Brazil’s Mar del Plata position.

"Brazil has not changed its position. The Lula government played a key role in the decision taken in the summit," said Fernández.

spin isn't a phenomenon unique to the u.s...

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Cheney to meet with Chalabi...? Disgusting...

charter members of the liars' club, both of 'em...
Ahmed Chalabi, deputy prime minister of Iraq and once a U.S. favorite to replace Saddam Hussein, has not lost his luster with Vice-President Dick Cheney. Mr. Chalabi will hold a private meeting with Vice-President Cheney during his visit to Washington D.C. this week, the first such trip in more than two years.

Though not on his official schedule, Mr. Chalabi is counting on meeting his biggest backer in the Bush administration, Vice-President Dick Cheney. Among other heavy hitters, Mr. Chalabi is also scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

the sheer, ballsy arrogance of cheney to schedule a meeting with that discredited bastard in light of everything that's going on... i hope it's all over the front page of every paper in the country... it can only hasten cheney's demise...

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Steve Clemons posts on Hardball's Special Report on the CIA Leak

steve has a good rundown of the hardball program which just aired and will air again later this evening...
Chris Matthews is on Hardball right now laying out the case in a Special Report on the CIA leak investigation (and more) that the so-called "Iraq Group" in the White House deceived the Congress and America as a whole about WMD intelligence.


Matthews asks Levin "how analytically, did the Vice President and his staff look at the evidence regarding going to war, or not going to war?" Levin responded that Vice President Cheney and other key members of the administration IGNORED any evidence that went against their pre-conceived decision to go to war. Levin makes the case that this time around the intelligence community was RIGHT about the absence of any link between Saddam's regime and al Qaeda, and they were completely ignored and side-lined.

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Maybe a touch of good news on energy - "net zero"

just THINK what THIS could mean...
"NREL's [U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory] research is aiming for a 70 percent reduction in energy use in homes without compromising comfort or convenience. The intent is to provide the remaining 30 percent through onsite power supplied by photovoltaics, making the house a net zero energy user," said Bobi A. Garrett, NREL Associate Director of Planning and Technology Management.

add THAT to THIS...
Honda unveiled a new hydrogen-powered fuel-cell concept car Wednesday which runs on a refueling unit that also supplies electricity and hot water for the home.

The FCX Concept uses the Home Energy Station, which generates hydrogen from natural gas supplied to households, Honda said as it unveiled the vehicle at a press preview at the Tokyo Motor Show east of the capital.

The system refines natural gas to provide the vehicle with hydrogen which is mixed with oxygen to power the car.

It can also supply electricity to the home and recover heat during power generation for domestic water heating.

As well as reducing carbon dioxide emissions by some 40 percent, the system is expected to halve the total cost of household electricity, gas and vehicle fuel, Honda said.

and you have THIS...
Not only could America's homes be energy self-sufficient, but their homes can power their cars. [...] Instead of keeping America chained to the near monopolies of the electricity providers, instead of keeping America dependent on the twisted economic logic of oil companies, instead of keeping American troops in oil-producing regions, instead of running headlong into strategic conflict with China—let's just build and sell better houses, offices and communities.

just think...!!

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Wilkerson spilled the beans... It WAS about oil...

a tip of the tin-foil hat to robert parry...
“We had a discussion in (the State Department’s Office of) Policy Planning about actually mounting an operation to take the oilfields of the Middle East, internationalize them, put them under some sort of U.N. trusteeship and administer the revenues and the oil accordingly,” Wilkerson said. “That’s how serious we thought about it.”

and this was BEFORE 9/11...

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IPS mentions Mercosur

after all my kvetching about u.s. media ignoring mercosur in their summit of the americas reporting, i find that the one media outlet that did mention them is - surprise, surprise - ips, based in rome...

(from their article on the summit...)
The member countries of Mercosur (Southern Common Market) - made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay- recommend putting off further negotiations for the hemisphere-wide trade agreement until after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial summit to take place in December in Hong Kong, where further progress should be made in the Doha Round of talks on multilateral trade liberalisation.

i find ips news to be exceptionally high quality and full of interesting background that doesn't always appear in u.s. media... while they are rarely on top of breaking news, you can count on them to be in there later on with insightful stories... ips' mission...

Contribute to development by promoting free communication and a professional flow of information to reinforce technical and economic co-operation among developing countries.

IPS-Inter Press Service International Association
Via Panisperna, 207
00184 Rome
Tel: +3906 485692
Fax: +3906 4817877

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Unsustainable energy future with current trends

and yet, bushco seems hell-bent on pushing us ever faster to an unsustainable future...
Global greenhouse gas emissions will rise by 52% by 2030, unless the world takes action to reduce energy consumption, a study has warned.

The prediction comes from the latest annual World Energy Outlook report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

It says that under current consumption trends, energy demand will also rise by more than 50% over the next 25 years.


"These projected trends have important implications and lead to a future that is not sustainable," said IEA chief Claude Mandil.

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Ray McGovern on torture

ray mcgovern has a thoughtful opinion piece on tompaine via alternet...
The next several days will show whether our Congress has slipped its moral moorings. Seldom have moral lines been so clearly drawn. The issue is whether American armed forces and intelligence personnel should be permitted or forbidden to torture detainees.


Yesterday, the president's own United Methodist Church's Board of Church and Society, in an almost unanimous vote, protested against the "unjust war in Iraq" and appealed for return of our troops. The Board also issued a strong statement against torture, urging Congress to create an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate detention and interrogation practices at Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

you would think that a statement coming from his own church, for a self-proclaimed deeply religious man, would have some impact... well, wouldn't you...?

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Bush in real-time, without the bubble

it's not often we get a close look at dear leader in action... the iht, describing bush at the summit of the americas in mar del plata, argentina...
[T]he president of the United States is not in charge when he is one among many big-winded leaders and another nation's guest.

When reporters told Stephen Hadley, Bush's national security adviser, that they hadn't heard Bush say much about his proposed trade deal, Hadley replied, to some laughter, "You didn't hear President Bush much talk about anything."

On Friday in Mar del Plata, a vacation spot of high-rises, brown sand beaches and a big casino, Bush could be seen walking alone, while other leaders moved in noisy knots, toward the spot on a seaside plaza where participants in the Summit of the Americas posed for a group picture.

looks to me like a sad, lonely, increasingly isolated guy that doesn't have the intellectual horsepower to engage with his fellow leaders...

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Bush says "We do not torture...??" Huh...??

ok, so now we know bush doesn't have two brain cells to rub together...
President Bush vigorously defended U.S. interrogation practices in the war on terror Monday and lobbied against a congressional drive to outlaw torture.

"There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again," Bush said. "So you bet we will aggressively pursue them but we will do so under the law."


"Our country is at war and our government has the obligation to protect the American people," Bush said. "Any activity we conduct is within the law. We do not torture."

ok, lessee... bush doesn't want congress to outlaw torture and then says, "we do not torture..." ~scratches head~

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Buh-bye, Bobby, we're gonna miss ya - NOT!

awwwwwww... what a shame...
CNN commentator Robert Novak has been off the air since August and he "appears to be done” at the network, the New York Post reports Monday.

The longtime Washington insider hasn’t appeared since he uttered an obscenity on the air and stalked off a live appearance.

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Deconstructing Cheney and the usurpation of presidential powers

james carroll opens his boston globe editorial with this comment...
The indictment of the vice president's chief of staff for perjury and obstruction of justice is an occasion to consider just how damaging the long public career of Richard Cheney has been to the United States.

among the other lowlights of cheney's dark record, carroll reminds us of this often overlooked event...
The 9/11 Commission found that, from the White House situation room, Cheney warned the president that a "specific threat" had targeted Air Force One, prompting Bush to spend the day hiding in the bunker at Offut Air Force Base in Nebraska. There was no specific threat. In Bush's absence, Cheney, implying an authorizing telephone call from the president, took command of the nation's response to the crisis. There was no authorizing telephone call. The 9/11 Commission declined to make an issue of Cheney's usurpation of powers, but the record shows it.

it's an excellent synopsis and well worth reading in its entirety... you'll ask yourself, as i did, how have we tolerated this kind of behavior for so long in a public servant...?

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

More on Bush, Brazil, FTAA, Mercosur and the brain-dead U.S. media

in the previous post, i failed to cite outstanding examples of both bush's stupidity and the u.s. media's either abysmal or outright wilful ignorance of mercosur...
Bush also urged Brazil, the continent's largest economy, to use its considerable regional influence to prod into reality a U.S.-backed Free Trade Area of the Americas.

now, why the hell would brazil want to potentially alienate its mercosur trading partners by turning around and trying to persuade them to sign up for ftaa...? what the hell is this guy smoking...? yes, mercosur has had its problems but the one thing that does tend to unite the mercosur countries is not wanting to be lorded over by the u.s...
The development of Mercosur was arguably weakened by the collapse of the Argentine economy in 2002 and it has still seen internal conflicts over trade policy, between Brazil and Argentina, for example.

In December 2004 it merged with the Andean Community trade bloc (CAN) to form the South American Community of Nations. The prospect of increased political integration within the organization, as per the European Union and advocated by some, is still uncertain.

There are more than 220 million consumers in this region and the combined Gross Domestic Product of the member nations is more than one trillion dollars a year.

i say, stick to your guns and go your own way... all that talk of creating jobs and and lifting the region's 220 million poor to better lives is nonsense... just ask mexico (never mind that vicente fox is an ftaa supporter)...

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Bush extols "democracy" for Latin America, code for "capitalism" and "free trade"

in brazil's capital, brasilia, today...
President Bush on Sunday urged Latin Americans to reject efforts to reverse democratic progress in the region while choosing representative governments and building constructive ties with other nations.

latin america already has grass-roots democracy that can't be beat... when things are going bad for these folks (and we don't know the real meaning of bad here in the u.s.), they rise up and toss their leaders out, not only out the door but often right out of the country...
"Ensuring social justice for the Americas requires choosing between two competing visions," Bush said in the Brazilian capital.

One of those choices, he said, "offers a vision of hope. It is founded on representative government, integration into the world community and a faith in the transformative power of freedom in individual lives."

The other, Bush said, "seeks to roll back the democratic process of the past two decades by playing to fear, pitting neighbor against neighbor and blaming others for their own failures to provide for the people."

that last statement is a flat-out lie... what they're desperately trying to do in latin america is to find a balance between really and truly respecting and honoring the lower rungs of society (who are often the ones who are doing the work of the country) and allowing businesses and the private sector freedom to prosper... bush tips his hand when he says things like this...
Bush also continued his push for a free-trade zone for the Western Hemisphere, stretching from Alaska to Argentina. The president argues that more trade between the United States, Brazil and other nations in the Western Hemisphere would help create jobs, spread democratic values and lift people out of poverty.

what he's really after is an unfettered open season for u.s. corporations in a very large market... you notice that the countries that are most vocal in opposition to ftaa are the mercosur countries (see below) - argentina, brazil, uruguay and paraguay - who are working to make a success of their own free trade area, a critical item virtually unmentioned in the u.s. media...


(from wikipedia...)
Mercosur or Mercosul (Spanish: Mercado Común del Sur, Portuguese: Mercado Comum do Sul, English: Southern Common Market) is a trading zone between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, founded in 1991 by the Treaty of Asunción, which was later amended and updated by the 1995 Treaty of Ouro Preto. Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, peoples, and currency. Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru have associate member status. It has a south and middle America integration vocation.

Some South Americans see Mercosur as giving the capability to combine resources to balance the activities of other global economic powers, perhaps especially the United States and the European Union. The organization could also potentially pre-empt the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

yep... indeed...

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Azerbaijan: sucking up to the U.S.

oh, yes... the message is clear... if you're a country that has oil and are willing and ready to sell it, the u.s. wants to talk to you... if you're ok with u.s. military on your soil, that's a big plus... never mind what kind of repressive government you may have...
The last election in the former Soviet republic, in 2003, elected President Ilham Aliyev but was marred by blatant fraud and post-election violence. Since then Mr. Aliyev, who succeeded his father in power, has forged a close relationship with the Bush administration, based on his country's location between Russia, Iran and Central Asia and his willingness to cooperate closely with the U.S. military, which overflies Azerbaijan on the way to Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States backed the construction of a pipeline from Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, on the Caspian Sea, to Turkey that will soon allow the export of at least 1 million barrels of oil a day to Western markets, making Azerbaijan rich.

These strategic facts and Mr. Aliyev's generally pro-Western outlook prompted the administration to overlook the 2003 fraud and, at first, the repression that followed. This year, Mr. Bush and the State Department have pressed their ally to hold a fair vote, arguing that it will stabilize his regime and allow a new "strategic partnership" with the United States.

but, despite some measures of reform...
Human Rights Watch concluded before the election that the possibility of a free vote had been "extinguished."

it's kind of like the sign at the used car dealer...


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Working up sympathy for Karl Rove

He's weary. his wife and only child, who is approaching college, miss him. He has monstrous legal bills. His unique bond with the President is under stress. His most important work is done.

and that "important work" would be...? perfecting the art of character assassination...? taking the nastiness of politics to staggering new lows...? incorporating delusion and denial into white house policy...? composing the storyboards for the persona of an entirely fictitious president...? contributing to the lies that took us into iraq...? manipulating the electorate's fears by continually invoking scenarios of terrorist attacks...? mighty important work there, karl...
Karl Rove's colleagues don't know exactly when it will happen, but they are already laying out the reasons they will give for the departure of the man President George W. Bush dubbed the architect.


Fitzgerald is continuing to look into the possibility of charging Rove with lying to investigators or the grand jury or both. If that happens, Rove almost certainly would resign immediately.

i take no joy in rove's situation but, at the same time, it's good to see the wheels of karma turning on someone so despicable while i'm still around to see it...

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