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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 11/13/2005 - 11/20/2005
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, November 19, 2005

"Accountability is now in a majority position in America."

hunter on kos, always articulate, always cogent, always clear, senses a sea change of attitude both in the media and in america against the dirty smear campaign being waged by the white house against its critics... his case in point:
On Countdown tonight, Newsweek's Howard Fineman was tapped with commenting on the Republican attack on Murtha, which has now devolved into Republicans asserting they will launch an ethics probe of Murtha in explicit retaliation for his stance on the Iraq War.


Fineman was remarkably blunt in his assertions that the "ethics" and other attacks on Murtha are being orchestrated by Karl Rove -- by name -- and the White House, which intends to hit Murtha with everything "necessary".


In short, he made it perfectly, bitterly clear that the White House itself sees Murtha as a tremendous threat, considers itself at war with Murtha, and that Rove -- again, by name -- intends to hit him with everything at the administration's disposal.

hunter, i respect your views... and i profoundly hope your closing comment proves to be correct...
[A]ccountability is now a majority position in America. Accusing the American people of treason for demanding it is not simply cowardly -- it is also being met with decidedly more organized hostility than in previous Republican "campaigns" against the American citizenry. That may be something.

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Blog of the week: Diary of the Mad Pigeon

i mentioned last saturday that i've been featuring a blog per week...i've been attempting to select those that have both interest and relevance to me and hopefully to others... this week's featured blog, diary of the mad pigeon, bills himself thusly...
So... who is The Mad Pigeon? I'm an Air Force officer and former Army NCO with a Bachelors in History and Masters in National Security Studies, and serve as a military specialist on Middle East affairs (I’m reluctant to call myself an “expert;” there’s always something new to learn). Indeed, most of my work keeps me in the realm of geopolitical analysis on a daily basis.

In addition, I've been selected as an instructor for the US Air Force Academy Dept of Political Science starting in May 2006.

i also like that he has a few burrs under his saddle, always a good sign...
I'm bothered by consumerism, elitism, status seekers, snobs, and extremists on either side of the political and religious fence who try to tell me how to live my life. I don't want to be the target of anyone's marketing campaign (indeed, the word “marketing” makes my skin crawl), find television to be a cultural sinkhole, and think whoever invented pop-up advertising and spam should die the death of a thousand cuts. Other than that, I'm a really nice guy.

he has some collaborators on his blog as well... give him a visit...

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Saturday photoblogging: Lake Ohrid, Macedonia


Lake Ohrid from Galicica National Park
in southwestern Macedonia, looking
west toward Albania.
October 2004

The National Park Galicica, situated in the furthest south-eastern part of the Republic of Macedonia, is characteristic for its positioning between the two lakes - Ohrid and Prespa Lake, for the involved orthography and the interesting geomorphologic shapes (deep valleys, various types of karst forms, and glacial relief forms).

(From the website of the Macedonian Ministry of the Environment.)

Map of Macedonia

Map of Macedonia, detail of
southwest quadrant, showing
Lakes Ohrid on the left and
Prespa on the right. Galicica
National Park lies between the
two lakes

Lake Ohrid from the city of
Ohrid, looking southwest.
October 2005

(Photo courtesy of Dragan Stojanovski)

Lake Ohrid, that came into being between four to ten million years ago, is Europe's oldest lake, and is amongst the oldest in the world. It is a typical oligotrophic lake, meaning that it contains low levels of nutrients. By its origin the lake is a tectonic one and belongs to the so-called group of "Desaretian lakes" (named by an ancient region called Desaretia). The Lake came about in the tertiary period, prior to the glaciations.

Most of the Lake's water bulk comes from numerous surface and underground springs. That is the reason certain researchers consider it unique in the world. Most of the surface springs lie along the southern shore, near the monastery of St. Naum on the Macedonian side, and near the villages of Tusemiste and Starovo and the town of Pogradec in Albania. There are about 40 rivers and springs that flow into the Lake (23 on Albanian, and 17 on Macedonian territory). During summer, most of them dry out, whereas the rivers Sateska, Koselska, and Serava are the only waters with significant water flow that feed up the Lake.

(From the website, Macedonia Clasp of the World)

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Fire Bob Woodward

Post reporter Bob Woodward should not be vilified for protecting the identity of his source in this complex affair.

i agree... vilifying him is pointless... he should simply be fired... why...? failure to inform his boss of the fact that he had received extremely sensitive information from an anonymous source that could have potentially significant consequences down the line... that failure demonstrates enormous lack of professionalism if not outright insubordination which has destroyed his professional credibility and seriously damaged that of his employer...

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Mass murder, torture, false imprisonment, and the use of chemical weapons: guilty as Saddam

george monbiot...
We were told that the war with Iraq was necessary for two reasons. Saddam Hussein possessed biological and chemical weapons and might one day use them against another nation. And the Iraqi people needed to be liberated from his oppressive regime, which had, among its other crimes, used chemical weapons to kill them.

Saddam, facing a possible death sentence, is accused of mass murder, torture, false imprisonment and the use of chemical weapons. He is certainly guilty on all counts. So, it now seems, are those who overthrew him.

the u.s. does not recognize the international criminal court in the hague, vice president cheney supports interrogation techniques based on torture, white phosphorus and napalm have been used in iraq, suspects are apprehended without the knowldege of their national governments and rendered to third countries, secret prisons hold uncharged detainees and no records exist to show that they are being held, reports of detainee torture continue to appear, statistics on civilian iraqi deaths are not kept, ahmad chalabi is welcomed into the white house after helping to start the war using contrived information, those who attempt to find out the truth are subjected to accusations of irresponsibility and character assassination... where does it all end - and when...?

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The R's strawman resolution: stand-up comedy at a funeral

gutting murtha's resolution to make it appear that he was calling for immediate, unconditional withdrawal from iraq when his original resolution specifically stated that forces should "be redeployed at the earliest practicable date," both guaranteeing defeat and attempting to cast murtha and the democrats as cowards, is political behavior at its most despicable... juan cole speaks...
Republicans in Congress responded to Murtha's considered plan by introducing a phony resolution that bore little resemblance to Murtha's [the original resolution can be read here], and then helping defeat it overwhelmingly. The intent was apparently to force the Democrats either to look as though they were in favor of "cutting and running" or to vote against immediately withdrawing US troops and so associating themselves with Bush's 'stay the course' policy. The Republican straw man resolution was:
' Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.

1 Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately. '

Well, this stupid resolution is not what Murtha was saying, and the vote on it is meaningless. It is worse than meaningless. It is political clowning.

Indeed, given the GIs being blown up on a daily basis, the Republican phony resolution was the equivalent of trying to do a stand-up comedy routine at the funeral of someone's beloved son who had died at age 20.

I don't think the American people will find it amusing. We'll see in 2006 whether they did.

i've felt many times that i had suffered the last straw and each time i have found that the last blow was yet to be delivered... it's hard for me to grasp the depravity of what i'm witnessing and can only pray that it's the darkness before the dawn...

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Friday, November 18, 2005

House votes 403-3 against resolution ; CNN polls 85% for pullout in 6 mos.

the house voted 403-3 against the immediate pullout resolution...
In a maneuver designed to discredit Iraq war critics, the Republican-led House of Representatives overwhelmingly defeated a resolution on Friday to pull U.S. troops immediately from Iraq.

CNN's poll, taken this evening, shows 85% of 12,885 people responding want the u.s. to pull out of iraq within 6 months...

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Attacking the critics and promising to stay the course while planning for withdrawal

there is no end to it... this government simply HAS TO GO...
[T]hese White House attacks are hypocritical in light of new information that the administration itself is preparing for withdrawal. Here’s what NBC Nightly News reported tonight:
There’s word now that the Pentagon, where planning, after all, is everything, has drawn up a plan to draw down the number of U.S. troops in Iraq… Pentagon and military officials tell NBC news the plan calls for the substantial withdrawal of more than 60,000 American troops from Iraq. The plan was drafted by Generals John Abizaid and George Casey, the top two U.S. commanders of the war. If Iraqi elections are successful in December, and a new parliament seated in January, the withdrawal could begin almost immediately. Military officials say it would be an incremental or phased withdrawal.

So it appears the administration is now trying to have it both ways — attacking those who advocate a troop drawdown while leaking a potential exit strategy. President Bush previously said, “Setting an artificial timetable would… send the wrong message to our troops.” Will Bush put a stop to these “mixed messages” being sent to the troops by his own administration?

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Support Murtha... A call from Howard Dean...

let's not let congressman murtha stand alone... it takes incredible courage to stand up and face off with the most vicious attack machine in our country's history... it's time we had this out once and for all... tell him how you feel here...
John Murtha spent 37 years in Marine Corps, earned the Bronze Star, two purple hearts, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. And for the last thirty years he’s been one of the most respected voices in Congress on military issues -- universally respected by Democrats, Republicans and military brass alike.

Now he's speaking out on Iraq -- and the Republican smear machine has questioned his wisdom, his courage, and even his patriotism. Shame on them. Every one of us -- right now -- needs to let Jack Murtha know that we respect his service, respect his leadership, and respect his right to speak the truth. This man has spent his life serving us. The very least each one of us can do is let him know that no matter what dishonorable smear campaign Republicans wage we will be there with him.

Send Congressman Murtha a note telling him that you will not be silent while he is attacked -- Governor Dean will deliver it personally with his own thanks.

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The Murtha debate

(from hotline on call...)
House Goes Nuclear

Emotions runneth over on the floor of the House. Just now, brand new rep Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH). quoting a Marine friend from back home, addressed Murtha: "cowards cut and run and marines stay and fight."

The place went batty, and Schmidt's words are being taken down. The chair suspended floor action.

she didn't want to risk censure for calling murtha a coward...

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Acknowledging realities other than our own: telephone service in Paraguay


Bandera de la República del Paraguay

every once in a while, it's important to take a break from navel-gazing and take a look at the rest of the world...
When Emilio Contrera, a small farmer in Paraguay who is nearly 80 years old, wants to phone his daughter in the capital, he must first overcome a number of hurdles.

He says it is getting more and more difficult for him to walk the two kilometers from his house to the telecentre run by Paraguay's public telephone company, the Compañía Paraguaya de Comunicaciones (COPACO) in the town of Yegros, 280 km east of Asunción.

"There is almost never anyone attending the phone booth, and you have to wait for the employee to show up," says Contrera. But he adds that he is "lucky" because one of the officials is his friend, and helps Contrera make the phone call whenever he sees the elderly farmer coming down the road.

In addition, the office is only open from 8:00 to 19:00. Outside of the office hours, more than 90 percent of the local residents remain incommunicado from the rest of the world, since they have neither fixed telephone lines nor access to mobile phones.

"There is no cell phone signal around here," said the farmer.

As Contrera's case illustrates, telephones are still a luxury item in this South American country.

The elderly farmer is one of the 5.64 million Paraguayans - 94 percent of the population - who have no fixed telephone line in their homes, and one of the 4.2 million - 70 percent of the population - who have no cell phone

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Ouch...! Newsweek backs Murtha ahead of House vote...!

(thanks to political cortex...)
The Bush administration is so accustomed to torturing the truth, it can’t face the facts. Murtha’s outburst on Iraq has shown it is time to stop deluding ourselves.

timing is everything...

We can now confirm that there will be a "Murtha Vote" later this p.m. Speaker Dennis Hastert's spokesperson Ron Bonjean tells The Hotline that it's a "vote to send a message to our American troops that we believe in their mission of fighting terrorists and we must not retreat and defeat."

Angered by what he saw as House Dems "applauding but then backing off" Murtha's statement on 11/17, Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) rose this a.m. at the House GOP Conference and suggested that they call for a vote to force Dems to show "where they stand to the American people," according to his spokesperson Larry VanHoose. Hayworth's call was met with what VanHoose described as "enthusiastic applause" from the rank-and-file GOP.

Pushing aside votes on extending the tax cuts, reauthorizing the Patriot Act and a long-awaited measure on federal flood insurance, the GOP leadership has turned Hayworth's idea into a resolution and will bring it to floor of the House for a vote by 7 pm, according to senior GOP leadership sources.

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Patriot Act reauthorization halted - for now...

sen. russ feingold posted on kos...
I'm pleased to announce that early this afternoon, Senate leaders threw in the towel on their plan to jam a Patriot Act reauthorization bill through the Senate before Thanksgiving. Bipartisan resistance to the tentative agreement reached by conference committee Republicans stopped them in their tracks.

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Support Harry Reid... Don't let him be swiftboated...

as a nevada resident (when i happen to be in the country), i have had the good fortune to meet senator reid... he's a gentleman, courteous, calm, balanced, and very easy to talk to... when he speaks, it's measured and betrays deep and careful thought... he's one of the last people that could ever conceivably be accused of not standing behind our troops... and, more than that, he's the LAST person who would ever step out and make statements without being absolutely sure he was speaking the truth... he doesn't deserve to be attacked by the swarming schools of right-wing piranha, particularly in his own state where he's revered...
The Republican National Committee will begin broadcasting television ads in key markets nationally this weekend that suggest Sen. Harry Reid is "playing partisan politics" with the war in Iraq.

The 60-second ads are part of a national campaign by the RNC to push back against increasingly vocal criticism from Democrats about the Bush administration's policy in Iraq.

The ad, which RNC sources said will air in Las Vegas, provides Reid's office number and tells viewers to call the Nevada senator and "tell him to stop playing partisan politics and stand behind our troops."

On Thursday, Reid joined a growing number of Democrats to publicly condemn the administration for attacking critics of the war.


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"I want my America back."

james moore, always trenchant and down to earth, comments on last night's late hour congressional lobotomizing of the social contract...
Last night, 220,000 people were cut from the Food Stamp program. And Democrats considered that an accomplishment. States will now be asked to seek co-payments from Medicaid beneficiaries to supplement a shortfall of federal funding, and congress wants to cut funding for state programs aimed at child support enforcement. No one even seemed particularly disturbed when they debated taking 40,000 children off of the student lunch program at the same time their parents were being dropped from Food Stamp rolls.

The context for all of this goes unnoticed. While we hand out no-bid contracts to Halliburton for billions of dollars we are trimming the budget in the Spaghetti-Os of impoverished children. Food Stamp recipients are being forced to pay for the president's latest $50 billion in tax cuts. Medicaid patients have no choice over a co-pay that will help our president and our congress pay for the current war without end. One estimate I read indicated that the first round of funding for the Iraqi invastion, which was $84 billion dollars, was enough to pay for full health care for every man, woman, and child in America for one year; no deductions, no co-pays. We are not just wasting lives in those ancient deserts.


The question for our country is whether we ignore the people who have fallen into the ditch or do we stop and give them a hand. And do we turn our backs on their children even though they had nothing to do with the circumstances in which they find themselves? And what do we lose if we walk away from them? There is no way to measure unlived lives or unrealized potential.

I want my America back.

another way to ask that question is, do we ignore the fact that AMERICA has fallen in the ditch...?

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Oh, and btw, Clarke says Congress DIDN'T have the same Iraq intelligence

(once again, thanks to think progress...)
Bush officials had access to reams of raw prewar intelligence data that Congress never saw nor had the opportunity to verify:

What happened was that Congress got the finished intelligence that said these things. They didn’t see all the details. … They don’t get the raw information. They don’t get the [forged documents purportedly showing Iraq sought uranium in Africa]; they get the answer, you know — “the uranium going from…” — but they don’t get the information that it’s based on.

i remember vividly watching richard clarke's testimony before congress, live on cnni, while i was in macedonia... the hair on the back of my neck stood up, chills ran up and down my spine, and, several times, i had tears in my eyes... such was the impact of, finally, hearing truth being spoken... i well knew what kind of risk the man was taking with one of the most vicious attack machines in history ensconced in the white house ready to pounce... i am glad to see him back in the public eye... he's one of my heroes and my respect for him is enormous... how ironic that the latest info he has to share comes via the daily show...

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Official declared policy: No comment (unless, of course, we decide to comment)

think progress has a run-down on the sudden and massive divergence from the official administration policy not to comment on Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation... apparently, commenting is now just fine...
On Wednesday, the day Mr. Woodward’s disclosure first appeared in The Post, a long list of senior officials had sent word, either directly or through spokesmen, denying that they were the ones who provided the information to Mr. Woodward in mid-June 2003.

recent commenters...

Karl Rove
Condoleezza Rice
John Bolton
George Bush
Andrew Card
Dan Bartlett
Karen Hughes

hey, it's whatever serves their purposes of the moment... they have never let rationality or reason get in the way... it's obvious that their respect for the power of words far outweighs the need for those words to be congruent with behavior... they play what i call the "who's crazy here" game... after listening to them for a while, you begin to think, "am i crazy or are they...?" if that's what you're thinking, the plan is working...

stay tuned...

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Bushco is destroying the military

The military is falling far behind in its effort to recruit and re-enlist soldiers for some of the most vital combat positions in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new government report [by the Government Accountability Office].


The report found that, in all, the military, which is engaged in the most demanding wartime recruitment effort since the 1970's, had failed to fully staff 41 percent of its array of combat and noncombat specialties.

the gao has one of the most sterling reputations for credibility, accuracy and non-partisanship of any government agency but that doesn't deter the bush apologists in the administration from trying to discredit the report...
David S. C. Chu, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, denied that the military lacked what it needed to complete the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said the report failed to appreciate how the Defense Department handled its recruiting efforts, and had "failed to take into account the dynamic nature of the problem we're trying to solve."

and, yes, this is the same david chu who was in the news back in january...
Chu was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article Tuesday, pitting veterans from past wars against those currently serving in the war on terrorism, alleging veterans' benefits were taking away funds from national defense.

"His remarks about veterans' pay and benefits that 'the amounts have gotten to the point where they are hurtful...they are taking away from the nation's ability to defend itself' is a slap in the face to every veteran who took the oath to uphold and defend the constitution against all enemies," Cadmus wrote in a letter to the editor of the Journal.

"Our country cannot separate military retirees from veterans -- a veteran is a veteran!" asserted Thomas P. Cadmus, national commander of The American Legion. "When their country called all gave their best -- some gave their last -- and they deserve the best our country can give them."

"G.I. Joe and Jane have given all they have in this war and all the wars of the 20th century. They are not getting rich on what Dr. Chu seems to think is a gravy train," said Cadmus.

According to Cadmus, countless billions have been spent on wars past but precious little on those who fight for America's freedom. "America has spent well over $200 billion on battling terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan," Cadmus said. "Dr. Chu seems to think that $2 billion for VA health care in fiscal year 2005 and $6 billion to modernize the VA health care system is too much."

another political appointee...

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Former CIA Director on Bush's claim of no torture: "I do not believe him".

Admiral Stansfield Turner . . . labelled Dick Cheney "a vice president for torture".

He said: "We have crossed the line into dangerous territory".

The American Senate says torture should be banned - whatever the justification. But President Bush has threatened to veto their ruling.

The former spymaster claims President Bush is not telling the truth when he says that torture is not a method used by the US.

Speaking of Bush's claims that the US does not use torture, Admiral Turner, who ran the CIA from 1977 to 1981, said: "I do not believe him".

given the administration's plummeting polls and credibility, there's evidently quite a few who would agree...

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"For the first time...?" What are they smokin'...?

What Mr. Bush's Asian hosts have seen, however, is more than a vigorous defense of Iraq policy. For the first time, Mr. Bush and his aides have taken their critics by name, declared their motives to be entirely political, and suggested their approach would give aid and comfort to the terrorists.

i don't think so... maybe they haven't been calling their critics by name and they might not have DECLARED their motives to be purely political, but they most CERTAINLY have suggested that critics are giving "aid and comfort to the terrorists..."

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Aw, c'mon Scott... Why insist on making yourself an object of ridicule...?

direct from the white house...
Congressman Murtha is a respected veteran and politician who has a record of supporting a strong America. So it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party. The eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to the terrorists. After seeing his statement, we remain baffled -- nowhere does he explain how retreating from Iraq makes America safer.

it's going to be pretty hard to maintain up there at the podium when you're being laughed at, scott... you screwed up with this one, baby...

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How long, Dick Cheney...? How long...?


(thanks to crooks and liars...)

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Let's get this [impeachment] party started...!


thanks to jeralyn at talkleft and tk who sent it along to her...

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The lucrative business of the man behind the selling of Iraq

thanks to think progress, i was pointed to a rolling stone article that is a very damning expose of just how iraq was sold to the media, congress and the american public... think progress comments...
The Rendon Group personally set up the Iraqi National Congress and helped install Ahmad Chalabi as leader, whose main goal — “pressure the United States to attack Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein” — Rendon helped facilitate. Pentagon documents show that Rendon has the highest level of government clearance (above Top Secret), which helped it with its INC work — “a worldwide media blitz designed to turn Hussein…into the greatest threat to world peace.”

While the White House continues to insist it did not manipulate intelligence before the Iraq war, it sure seems that it hired John Rendon and his group to do just that.

from the rolling stone article entitled, the man who sold the war...
Rendon is a man who fills a need that few people even know exists. . . . [T]he Pentagon had secretly awarded him a $16 million contract to target Iraq and other adversaries with propaganda. One of the most powerful people in Washington, Rendon is a leader in the strategic field known as "perception management," manipulating information -- and, by extension, the news media -- to achieve the desired result. His firm, the Rendon Group, has made millions off government contracts since 1991, when it was hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power." Working under this extraordinary transfer of secret authority, Rendon assembled a group of anti-Saddam militants, personally gave them their name -- the Iraqi National Congress -- and served as their media guru and "senior adviser" as they set out to engineer an uprising against Saddam. It was as if President John F. Kennedy had outsourced the Bay of Pigs operation to the advertising and public-relations firm of J. Walter Thompson.

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Murtha speaks and Hastert responds...

murtha takes a stand...
Rep. John "Jack" Murtha (D-PA), vice chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on Defense and one of the Democrats' top advisers on military issues, called Thursday morning for United States to immediately begin withdrawing its troops from Iraq.

it's denny to the rescue...
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) released the following statement in response to comments by Rep. John Murtha (D-PA):

"I am saddened by the comments made today by Rep. Murtha. It is clear that as Nancy Pelosi's top lieutenant on armed services, Rep. Murtha and Democratic leaders have adopted a policy of cut and run. They would prefer that the United States surrender to the terrorists who would harm innocent Americans. To add insult to injury, this is done while the President is on foreign soil.

"Four years ago, America as we knew it changed. The terrorists attacked our people and attacked our nation. Nearly 3,000 Americans lost their lives. Families were destroyed, and our children lost their sense of peace. On that day, we learned that we no longer had a choice. Failure to act -- and act strongly -- left our nation vulnerable to Osama bin Laden and his band of terrorist followers.

"But now, Rep. Murtha and other Democrats want us to retreat. They want us to wave the white flag of surrender to the terrorists of the world. It is unfortunate that this is all politics all the time. We need to have a strong consistent policy that will protect our men and women who are fighting to protect us overseas. We must not cower like European nations who are now fighting terrorists on their soil.

aw, denny, stop it...! it's enough to gag a maggot...

and, disgustingly, he continues, but the above alone is enough to send strong-stomached citizens with two brain cells to rub together running for the bathroom... how many lies can you pack into one statement...? incredible...

will these guys EVER stop trying to shove 9/11 down our throats and peddling the not-so-subtle implication that somehow iraq was connected to al qaeda...?

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Dems and R's in the Senate may block Patriot Act

oooo... an interesting turn of events...
A bipartisan group of senators told congressional leaders Thursday they will try to block reauthorization of the Patriot Act to protest the elimination of Senate-pushed protections against "unnecessary and intrusive government surveillance" in a House-Senate compromise.

good... let's see some more bipartisan effort to smack down this criminal administration... it may be our only salvation in the near term...

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Throwing meat to the base... So they're lies... So what...?

i'm with josh on this... the talking points circus has to have new material...
Virtually all of the arguments the White House is now advancing are transparently ridiculous on their face to anyone who has closely followed this evolving debate over the last three years.

But that doesn't matter. The White House doesn't need to win any debates. What they need is for their core supporters to have something to say. Anything. And to be able to say it loudly. The one thing that would be fatal for the White House from its defenders would be silence.

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Rove's talking points attack isn't working - Bush at 34%

from wsj and harris...
Bush's current job approval rating stands at 34%, compared with a positive rating of 88% soon after 9/11, 50% at this time last year, and 40% in August. [...] Mr. Bush's current ratings don't compare favorably with those of three of the last four two-term presidents at a comparable time in their fifth year in office. In November or October of their fifth year, Presidents Johnson (67%), Reagan (66%) and Clinton (58%) all enjoyed the support of majorities, while President Nixon (29%) was less popular than Mr. Bush is now.

can the 20's be just around the corner...?

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Woodward helped Libby: Lawyers would be perfectly happy to argue that water is dry

the ap dutifully reported the spin from libby's attorneys...
Attorneys for the aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, described Wednesday's statement by the Washington Post's assistant managing editor as helpful for their defense, although Libby is charged with lying to a grand jury and the
FBI, not with disclosing the CIA official's name.

juan cole, once again, keeps us grounded...
The defense lawyers for Libby immediately claimed that the new information helped their client. The trick about this sort of thing is that you have to understand that for attorneys, any proposition may be put forward as long as it has not been explicitly rejected by the relevant court. That is, lawyers would be perfectly happy to argue that water is dry, and has not been ruled wet by any court of law, and that moreover anyone who criticizes them for so alleging is guilty of libel and very possibly also of sodomy, until that allegation is ruled on in court.


It does not matter to those folks that their assertions are false; they are speaking instrumentally, for the accomplishment of some purpose, not to express the truth.


In fact, the rather bizarre world of political discourse in Washington, DC, in which all sorts of untrue and faintly ridiculous allegations are routinely made, grows directly out of the unreal discourse of trial lawyers. So politicians (mostly lawyers) alleged to us that Iraq was on the verge of having a nuclear bomb, while in fact Iraq was not even on the verge of having one of those old Mickey Mouse watches that glowed in the dark because they were painted with uranium particles.

Libby has been charged with perjury and obstruction of justice among other charges. He lied to the grand jury on more than one occasion. He said that a journalist told him that Plame Wilson worked for the CIA. This allegation was not true, and nothing Bernstein said on Wednesday changes its falsity. Fitzgerald did not charge Libby with speaking to Woodward, or with being the first to leak Plame Wilson's name, or anything else affected by Woodward's trivial revelation.

except you've now got the entire right wing noise machine trumpeting that fitzgerald's case has collapsed and the allegations against libby are false and politically motivated...

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The failed President is good for business

well, i'm glad he's good for SOMETHING...!
President Bush and his administration may be failing miserably but Failure magazine couldn’t be happier. Driven by a massive surge in failure-related Web searches, the independent online magazine — — is in the midst of a dramatic resurgence, with traffic and advertising revenue up over 500 percent in the past six weeks.

“ wishes to express its sincere appreciation to President Bush and his administration for getting every American thinking about failure,” begins Jason Zasky, editor and co-founder of the six-year-old online magazine. “Whether it’s the Iraq War, the response to Hurrricane Katrina, the Abu Ghraib scandal, the CIA leak probe, Harriet Miers’ Supreme Court nomination, the skyrocketing national debt or gasoline prices—to name just a few—people equate the Bush Administration with failure. We happen to be one of the rare entities that’s actually benefiting from Bush’s policies.”

as i posted earlier today, googling "failure" turns up 227,000,000 results, the very first one of which is george w. bush... the second is failure magazine... who woulda thunk it...?

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Reid responds to Uncle Dick

among other comments, harry had this to say...
“The White House needs to understand that deceiving the American people is what got them into trouble. Now is the time to come clean, not to continue the pattern of deceit.

“So again, I ask Vice President Cheney to make himself available and answer the American people’s questions.

“If he has time to talk to DC insiders… oil executives… and a discredited felon – Ahmad Chalabi - who is under investigation for giving this nation’s most sensitive secrets to Iran, he has time to answer the questions of the American people."

harry, harry, harry... it oughta be clear by now that this administration, cheney in particular, is not going to suddenly develop an honest streak... they are going to stick to their lies no matter what... they've perfected this game over 5 years under the tutelage of the satanic master, karl... it's worked perfectly well so why should they change now...?

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Today, Cheney's the featured act in the Talking Points Circus

ahem... ~cough, cough...~ B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T...! stronger letter follows...
Vice President Dick Cheney added his voice on Wednesday to the chorus of Republican criticism of Democrats who have accused the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence on Iraq, calling it "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city."

josh is seeing the same pattern i'm seeing...
You can see pretty clearly that Karl Rove is back in the saddle because what we're seeing now is straight from the Karl Rove play book. You throw them off balance by charging directly into their line of fire.

i posted this last saturday...
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...?

josh goes on to say...
All there is to do is just keep cataloging this man's history of lies and attempted cons. That's all that's necessary. They can't hide. But don't forget that this latest gambit is only the first flash of what we'll see from this crew as they swing over the downward arc of Fortune's wheel.

i made a similar speculation on monday as bush continued his attacks from elmendorf afb in alaska...
expect the vitriol to continue to flow and, most likely to increase, as bush realizes that his gambits are no longer working... the ugliness is only beginning... bush's fight for survival will reveal the REAL bush - nasty, vindictive and mean - the bush that rove has carefully shielded from public view...

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The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) leaves the U.S. in charge

[T]he Internet status quo has been maintained, allowing the US-based ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), a non-profit private entity working under an agreement with the US government, to remain as the main governing body of the global computer network.

i'm not sure if this is a good thing or not, particularly given the latest developments on the domestic eavesdropping scene...
On Monday, the clock starts ticking for broadband and Net-phone providers to make it easier for law enforcement to conduct surveillance on users of their networks.

According to a final order issued by the Federal Communications Commission in late September, all broadband Internet service providers and many Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, companies will have 18 months--until spring 2007--to ensure their systems have backdoors that allow police to eavesdrop on their customers' communications for investigative purposes.

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Rep. Congressman calls for DeLay to step aside

New Hampshire Republican Rep. Charles Bass says [...] the House Republican conference "would be healthier and more unified if we had real elections and if [former House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay would step aside for the good of the conference.”

i wonder what the hell he means by "real elections...?"
"I think that obviously, with the party’s fortunes down, with the message clearly that most Americans would rather see a more moderate form of leadership in the country right now, then it’s time to govern from the middle.”

as opposed to quite a distance to the right of attila the hun...? well, duh...

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The big picture of the CIA leak scandal

think progress has done us all a favor...
We’ve created a video to help you keep everything straight. It uses footage pulled directly from the White House, recent TV news clips and other archival video to explain exactly what happened and why it’s important. Most of the story is told by administration officials themselves.

especially with the woodward revelation, keeping on top of this story becomes more of a complex task every day...

(atrios has compiled some VERY comprehensive woodward coverage, btw, the latest being here, but keep scrolling up AND down)

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Steve Clemons provides his 411 on Alito

i haven't blogged on alito at all... there's a ton of stuff out there and, like opinions and assholes, everybody's got one... steve clemons, whom i admire and respect, put his two cents' worth in today... he has a fair amount to say but i'll leave it to you to read the rest and just share this...
This guy needs to be rejected.

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Will Bush be revered in 50 years...?

whaddaya think...?
With public opinion of Bush's competence and honesty at record lows, it may be hard for many to imagine his ever being seen as anything but a failure. But in 1952, when Truman's approval rating was down to a miserable 22 percent, who would have guessed that millions of Americans 50 years later would look back on him with admiration as a man of character and a gutsy, plainspoken leader?

" may be hard for many to imagine his ever being seen as anything but a failure..." well, doggone it, jeff jacoby, ya never know... weirder things have happened... but, anyway, i thought i'd just do the trusty google search under the key word, "failure," and sure 'nuff, out of 227,000,000 results, george still pops up on top... ya know, you kinda hafta admire the steadfastness of the true believers...


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San Francisco - We'll never forget the 11/8 attack

don asmussen, the san francisco chronicle's "bad reporter..."

mark morford, a chronicle columnist takes a more dismissive tack...

In a way, we should be grateful for O'Reilly and Robertson and Limbaugh and Coulter and their slime-slinging ilk. They live in those black and nasty psycho-emotional places, so we don't have to. They show us how ugly we can be, how poisonous and ill, so we may recoil and say, Whoa, you know what? I think I need to be more gentle and less judgmental and kinder to those I love. BOR works an inverse effect on anyone with a vibrant and active soul -- he makes us better by sucking all the grossness into himself and blowing it out via a TV channel no one of any spiritual acumen really respects anyway.

yeah... now that you put it like THAT...!
I mean, what else do you want to do? Allow him credence? Give his infantile words any sort of weight and import? Let him slither into your heart like a worm and fester and burn? O'Reilly is, after all, the Right's most self-aggrandizing blowhard, one who still vilifies France like a child who hates broccoli, one who has, next to Rush Limbaugh, perhaps the worst spin in all of media.

so, he's not worth the gunpowder to blow him up, or words to that effect...

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The Bush family - "a kind of American royalty..."

robert parry again 'splains it all for you...
For decades, the well-connected Bush family has been treated like a kind of American royalty in which a petulant king or prince can stamp a foot and insist that whatever the evidence says the truth is otherwise. Their subjects are expected to bow in acquiescence, while dissenters can expect a good thrashing.

George H.W. Bush did this during the early Iran-Contra scandal, insisting he was “not in the loop” despite extensive evidence that his vice presidential office was a hub for the secret operations in both Central America and the Middle East. Rep. Lee Hamilton and other bipartisan-seeking Democrats gently let Bush off the hook in the congressional Iran-Contra report, clearing him for the 1988 presidential election.

When Iran-Contra independent counsel Lawrence Walsh finally broke through the Bush cover-up in 1992, Walsh was pilloried across Washington as a crazy old man, a Captain Ahab pursuing the White Whale. George Bush Sr. then destroyed Walsh’s investigation by pardoning six Iran-Contra defendants in December 1992.

Now Bush’s eldest son, George W. Bush, is turning to this tried-and-true family tactic to extricate himself from his own web of lies and distortions about the Iraq War. In a Veterans Day speech on Nov. 11, Bush accused those who question his alleged misuse of pre-war intelligence of being the real guilty ones who have distorted the facts.

oh, yes... the talking points circus has been setting up its tents in every available venue and the usual suspects have been dutifully spouting the carefully scripted lines... bush, in two appearances before military audiences who are virtually required to applaud their commander-in-chief, has hauled out the same old "i didn't do it, blame someone else" canard, although in less overt prose... but...
But can the foot-stomping prince prevail again this time?


The next several weeks may show the residual power of Bush’s political and media machines. Able to reach the faithful continuously through TV, radio, print and the Internet, the conservatives have a huge advantage over their liberal rivals.

However, if the White House can’t rally the faithful – and bully the doubters – Bush may soon face the start of his presidency’s end game.

please, please, please, let it be the start of the end game...

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Torture Is Not US

think progress has mounted a campaign against torture...
Colin Powell, John McCain and 89 additional Senators support the McCain Anti-Torture Amendment, which bans torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. Sadly, Vice President Cheney is lobbying furiously behind the scenes to stop the ban.

Torturing prisoners is inconsistent with American values - and it puts our troops at risk, undermines our relationships with our allies, and simply doesn't work.

visit their new site, Torture Is Not US, and lend a hand...

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Acts done in the "name of Islam..." Or Christianity... Or Catholicism... Or Buddhism... Or Judaism...

reading juan cole is like taking a long drink of clear, cold water on a hot day...
[T]he mere assertion that an act was done in the "name of Islam" would not necessarily connect it to Islam in the eyes of other Muslims. All kinds of crazy things are done in the name of Judaism and Christianity and Buddhism. Why didn't the American Buddhists demonstrate when Aum Shinrikyo let Sarin gas loose in the Tokyo subway? Did American Catholics demonstrate against Franco's policies in Spain? Why should American Catholics even feel responsible for those things? Why should Indonesian or Bangladeshi Muslims demonstrate about something that happened in distant Jordan, which had some local context they don't even understand? People who are actually Muslims don't take seriously small groups of cranks who do bizarre things in the name of Islam.

there's so much nonsense, stereotyping and misinformed commentary running around these days, it's extremely refreshing to read sensible, grounded perspectives... here's another, again from professor cole...
Countries governed by religious anythings have persecuted other religions. This is true not only for religious ideologies but also for secular ideologies like Communism and Fascism. Make an idea into an "-ism" and boom, you get gulags. Religion or no religion. You think Muslims were tolerated in Franco's Spain? And, by the way, why can't a Muslim guy marry a Jewish girl in Israel if the two love each other? Hmmm. Could it be that the rabbis are unsympathetic to young love?

this is precisely what's so troubling about the undying efforts of the christian fundamentalists to turn the u.s. into a fundamentalist christian nation...

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bush preaches to China - from Japan - extolling Taiwan

george... you're headed to china this weekend... you're in the process of restricting freedoms at home... you excoriate your dissenters and accuse them of irresponsibility and lack of patriotism... now, you lob more demagoguery from kyoto (whose environmental protocols you reject) at beijing and, compounding matters, set forth taiwan, one of the biggest burrs under china's saddle, as the example china should follow...
President Bush prodded China on Wednesday to grant more political freedom to its 1.3 billion people and held up archrival Taiwan as a society that successfully moved from repression to democracy as it opened its economy.

In remarks sure to rile Beijing, Bush suggested China should follow Taiwan's path.

"Modern Taiwan is free and democratic and prosperous. By embracing freedom at all levels, Taiwan has delivered prosperity to its people and created a free and democratic Chinese society," the president said.

look... condi just got smacked down by egypt at an international summit in bahrain aimed at promoting democracy in the middle east and you're now very likely to have considerably lowered the temperature of your beijing reception...

george... slowly now, repeat after me... d - i - p - l - o - m - a - c - y... do you see the difference between that and h - o - l - i - e - r___t - h - a - n___t - h - o - u...?

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Hear, hear... Hagel blisters Bush

that unaccustomed and vaguely eerie silence is the absence of republicans marching in lockstep to rove's cadence and beating drum...
"The Iraq war should not be debated in the United States on a partisan political platform," the Nebraska senator remarked. "This debases our country, trivializes the seriousness of war and cheapens the service and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. War is not a Republican or Democrat issue. The casualties of war are from both parties. The Bush Administration must understand that each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and should not be demonized for disagreeing with them. Suggesting that to challenge or criticize policy is undermining and hurting our troops is not democracy nor what this country has stood for, for over 200 years. The Democrats have an obligation to challenge in a serious and responsible manner, offering solutions and alternatives to the Administration’s policies."

imagine that... a bush-era senator defending the democrats right to question and dissent... somewhere, across the pacific, bush's ears are burning...

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The nation's finances are going to hell

w-a-a-a-ay back on may 19, i posted this about a rare left and right meeting of the minds...
Stuart Butler, head of domestic policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation, and Isabel Sawhill, director of the left-leaning Brookings Institution's economic studies program, sat down with Comptroller General David M. Walker to bemoan what they jointly called the budget "nightmare." [...] With startling unanimity, they agreed that without some combination of big tax increases and major cuts in Medicare, Social Security and most other spending, the country will fall victim to the huge debt and soaring interest rates that collapsed Argentina's economy and caused riots in its streets a few years ago.

on october 22, i put up a post with this title, "A Category 6 hurricane is threatening our shores - it's the federal budget deficit," commenting on the comptroller general's dire warnings about the out-of-control budget...

walker and others are still sounding the alarm, minus one like-minded colleague, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who recently announced his resignation from the congressional budget office...

To hear Walker, the nation's top auditor, tell it, the United States can be likened to Rome before the fall of the empire. Its financial condition is "worse than advertised," he says. It has a "broken business model." It faces deficits in its budget, its balance of payments, its savings — and its leadership.

Walker's not the only one saying it. As Congress and the White House struggle to trim up to $50 billion from the federal budget over five years — just 3% of the $1.6 trillion in deficits projected for that period — budget experts say the nation soon could face its worst fiscal crisis since at least 1983, when Social Security bordered on bankruptcy.

Without major spending cuts, tax increases or both, the national debt will grow more than $3 trillion through 2010, to $11.2 trillion — nearly $38,000 for every man, woman and child. The interest alone would cost $561 billion in 2010, the same as the Pentagon.

another bush disaster movie, coming soon to a theater near you...

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"The only problem is that none of it has been true."

the nyt declares its view, loud and clear...
To avoid having to account for his administration's misleading statements before the war with Iraq, President Bush has tried denial, saying he did not skew the intelligence. He's tried to share the blame, claiming that Congress had the same intelligence he had, as well as President Bill Clinton. He's tried to pass the buck and blame the C.I.A. Lately, he's gone on the attack, accusing Democrats in Congress of aiding the terrorists.

Yesterday in Alaska, Mr. Bush trotted out the same tedious deflection on Iraq that he usually attempts when his back is against the wall: he claims that questioning his actions three years ago is a betrayal of the troops in battle today.

It all amounts to one energetic effort at avoidance. But like the W.M.D. reports that started the whole thing, the only problem is that none of it has been true.

"tedious..." yes, indeed, it is very tedious... like the old joke about the prisoners who told each other the same jokes so often that they assigned them numbers to save time, bush should give numbers to his speeches... then we could say, "oh, that was just old number 3..."

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Howard Zinn on the Constitution and the Courts

he's been around a long time, he's still articulate, he still has fire in his belly, and he's still advocating civic action...

a few snippets from a lengthy article, well worth reading...

There is enormous hypocrisy surrounding the pious veneration of the Constitution and "the rule of law." The Constitution, like the Bible, is infinitely flexible and is used to serve the political needs of the moment. [...] When the Constitution gets in the way of a war, it is ignored.


It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice.


The Constitution gave no rights to working people: no right to work less than twelve hours a day, no right to a living wage, no right to safe working conditions. Workers had to organize, go on strike, defy the law, the courts, the police, create a great movement which won the eight-hour day, and caused such commotion that Congress was forced to pass a minimum wage law, and Social Security, and unemployment insurance.


The courts have never been on the side of justice, only moving a few degrees one way or the other, unless pushed by the people. Those words engraved in the marble of the Supreme Court, "Equal Justice Before the Law," have always been a sham.

No Supreme Court, liberal or conservative, will stop the war in Iraq, or redistribute the wealth of this country, or establish free medical care for every human being. Such fundamental change will depend, the experience of the past suggests, on the actions of an aroused citizenry, demanding that the promise of the Declaration of Independence--an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--be fulfilled.

he's right, of course... it IS all about US...

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Stephen Pizzo issues a call for obstructionism

my sentiments exactly...
Bush has three more years at the wheel. How are we going to keep this guy from creating any more messes we, our children, and our grandchildren will have to clean up? [...] If ever there was a time to employ massive obstruction, it's now. After all the damage the Bushites have already done, are we really going to just let these Typhoid Marys continue infecting everything they touch, everything Americans hold dear?

I proposed back then that House and Senate Democrats stop running from Republican charges that they are being obstructionists, and instead turn obstructionism into a virtue. When Republicans accuse them of obstructing administration plans, programs or appointees, instead of launching into some convoluted, triangulated response, just thank them for the compliment.

he then calls bushco's patriotism into question, spurred no doubt by the renewed demonization of administration critics as irresponsible and unpatriotic...
  • How patriotic is it for US kids to get killed to fulfill some neocon wet-dream of democratizing the Middle East?
  • How patriotic is it to lie to the US Congress, to the United Nations and the American people to justify that deadly fool's errand?
  • How patriotic is it to get over 2000 America kids killed just so we can turn Iraq over to a convicted embezzler, serial liar and human scum like Ahmed Chalabi?
  • How patriotic was it to appoint a certifiable imbecile to run America's lead emergency response agency?
  • How patriotic is it to turn America's once-robust middle class into a bunch of underpaid Wal-Mart surfs [sic]?
  • How patriotic is it to allow nearly 60 million American men, women and children, to face life without even the most basic health coverage?
  • How patriotic is it to saddle working families with skyrocketing energy prices while energy companies pocket obscenely large profits? (Might this be why they insist on keeping secret the Vice President's energy task force proceedings?)
  • How patriotic is it to toss tax cut crumbs to hardworking Americans while giving the already wealthy windfall tax cuts?
  • How patriotic is it to stand by while your nation runs secret dungeon- prisons offshore and tortures foreign prisoners in America's name?
  • How patriotic is it to let large drug companies monopolize the market on lifesaving drugs, and then pass a law prohibiting bankrupt Medicare from negotiating lower prices for such drugs?
  • How patriotic is it for top administration officials to lie to a federal prosecutor?
obviously, the issue isn't patriotism... the issue is insuring that any and all who stand in the way of bushco's accumulation of absolute power and the money to back it up are removed by any and all means at their disposal... and, yes, we have three more years... what ARE we going to do...?

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Juan Cole: Physician exodus in Iraq

i've gotten on the juan cole bandwagon somewhat late but now that i'm a regular reader, i can see why so many are impressed with the rational, level-headed and clearly very informed pov that he presents...
62 percent of Americans believe that Bush is handling Iraq poorly, and 57 percent of Americans say that the Bush administration does not have high ethical standards.

It makes you wonder what it would take to convince the other 37 percent that Iraq was going badly. Some 6 or 7 provinces, including that of the capital, are the scenes of frequent violence, the economy is in shambles, militias have infiltrated the police and army, looting and sabotage have undercut services and oil production, thousands of people have died, and now the violence is spreading to neighboring countries like Jordan. Is it that they do not know what is going on, or that they are waiting for a civil war or genocide before they entertain doubts?

Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports a wave of assassinations against prominent physicians in Baghdad. Five of the most well known physicians in the capital have been killed in the past few days. The campaign aims at forcing medical personnel to emigrate. Nearly 3000 physicians have left the country, with 150 killed by unidentified guerrillas. The Iraqi government has been powerless to stop it.

another illuminating item from professor cole today is a profile he writes on the filmmaker, Moustapha Akkad, who was among those to die in the jordanian hotel bombings... in the panoply of two-dimensional tv news images, we should never forget the very real, three-dimensional people that have been caught up in such tragedies...

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Bush's attacks becoming shrill

President Bush escalated the bitter debate over the Iraq war on Monday, hurling back at Democratic critics the worries they once expressed that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat to the world.

"They spoke the truth then and they're speaking politics now," Bush charged.

they spoke what they THOUGHT was the truth because they were relying on the information YOU were feeding them... YOU'RE the president, you sorry son-of-a-bitch... YOU'RE the one who gets the intelligence and, based on how YOU think it serves YOUR aims, YOU decide how much or how little to pass along...
"Reasonable people can disagree about the conduct of the war but it is irresponsible for Democrats to now claim that we misled them and the American people," Bush said.

it would be completely irresponsible for those who believe they have been misled to keep silent...

expect the vitriol to continue to flow and, most likely to increase, as bush realizes that his gambits are no longer working... the ugliness is only beginning... bush's fight for survival will reveal the REAL bush - nasty, vindictive and mean - the bush that rove has carefully shielded from public view...

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Are the Dems going to save us...? [UPDATE]


an interesting diary on kos...


curious... the diary on kos appears to have been wiped... ~scratches chin~ hmmmmm... i've written kos and asked what happened... no response so far...
Maybe I am in the wrong place, but I am not a Democrat. I've never registered as a Democrat, and I'll probably never be a Democrat.


I've found a lot of really interesting, really powerful, really good stuff on [Kos]. But I've also found a lot that concerns me. I've been called a Republican, a troll, a racist, a bigot, an asshole, whatever. That's fine. But more than anything I've been told to leave, or that I should be kicked out, or that I don't fit in.


Is there a place for someone who doesn't buy the party line, who doesn't trust Democrats automatically, and who doesn't believe that any Democrat is automatically better than any Republican?

i haven't been called a troll or a republican or any of those other things... however, i share some of those feelings but perhaps for different reasons...

i believe that both democrats and republicans have been complicit in taking this country to its current predicament... both parties have cozied up to big business, both parties have tolerated their share of corruption, both parties have been arrogant with power... moreover, i don't believe in "black hats" and "white hats" any more... the need to demonize one side in order to embrace the other is a sad commentary on human nature and also reflects the fundamental - and mistaken - adherence to a dualistic perspective, either/or rather than both/and...

that said, i also believe that the current administration is one of the most fundamentally evil groups of people it is in my power to imagine and having them in charge of the country is completely unacceptable... they have moved beyond politics as usual into the realm of nightmarishness... their consummate goals of destroying any and all implied or explicit social contracts between the governors and the governed, consolidating all power and money in the hands of the few, neo-conning their way to global domination, and using fundamentalist religious ideology to enforce social control are among the most naked and odious moves this country has ever endured... they make all the previous shenanigans of both parties seem like a sunday school picnic by comparison...

can we last three more years...? can we last another year...? i am not sure... i am hoping against hope that we will somehow be delivered from this mess... how that will happen remains to be seen... are the dems the ones...? dunno...

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Aha...! A post-Veterans Day poll with no bounce in sight...

looks like the veterans day attack speech, the p.r. campaign and the weekend talking points traveling circus have fallen on deaf ears...
  • Two-thirds of independents and 91% of Democrats disapprove of the job Bush is doing. Even among Republicans, who have solidly backed Bush in the past, 19% express disapproval — a new high.
  • For the first time — albeit by a narrow 49%-48% — a plurality disapprove of the way Bush is handling the issue of terrorism. Six in 10 disapprove of the way he's handling foreign affairs, the economy, Iraq and immigration, and 71% disapprove of him on controlling federal spending.
  • A 53% majority say they trust what Bush says less than they trusted previous presidents while they were in office. In a specific comparison with President Clinton, those surveyed by 48%-36% say they trust Bush less.
  • A record high 60% say going to war in Iraq was "not worth it." In a finding consistent with previous polls, 54% say it was "a mistake" to send troops there.

ok... let's think a minute... bush's last engagement of his asia trip is on november 21... thanksgiving is the 24th... that means he will probably head straight back to crawford... he will undoubtedly take at least a week or possibly more of vacation... then christmas is just around the corner... it'll be interesting to see just how much hiding out george does between now and the first of the year...

dontcha wish a president could be forced to resign on the basis of polls like a prime minister can be forced out with a vote of no confidence...?

and, just for chuckles and grins, another comment on those pesky polls...

"The polls do not reflect reality," [Tammy] Bruce said. "If all polls were right, John Kerry would be president now. Thank goodness he is not."

tammy bruce, self-described...
Tammy Bruce is an openly gay, pro-choice, gun owning, pro-death penalty, voted-for-President Bush progressive feminist. [...] Ms. Bruce's first book, The New Thought Police, [is] an analysis of freedom of expression and the culture wars, it explores the importance of freedom of expression and personal liberty and how that liberty is under attack by the dangerous rise of Left-wing McCarthyism.

a slightly different take...
I can't recommend that you read Ms. Bruce. Her command of the language is less than limited and her perspective is filled with ill-placed detestation. In two words, she's a malicious dog.

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More summitry: APEC (A Perfect Excuse to Chat)

while george is winging his way from alaska to japan, let's see what he's headed into in busan, south korea - besides a mob of protestors (see below)...
Since it was founded 16 years ago the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum (Apec) has been dismissed by its critics as “A Perfect Excuse to Chat” or mocked for its awkward name as “four adjectives in search of a noun”.


Apec is balanced on the brink of terminal irrelevance,” Allan Gyngell and Malcolm Cook of the Lowy Institute for International Policy, an Australian think-tank, wrote in a report last month entitled “How to Save Apec”.

Apec’s agenda had become “bewilderingly large”, the report said, covering issues ranging from shoulder-launched missiles and road accident statistics to projects for women exporters. “The expansion of the organisation’s functions seems inversely related to progress on its core goals,” it noted.


Supporters of Apec say the meeting will help co-ordinate the regional response to the threat of a bird flu pandemic. “This is not just a health issue,” said the official. “If you shut the borders there are all kinds of economic consequences.”

Even so, Apec’s critics think the forum, which will also look at matters such as energy security and negotiations to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons programmes, will lack focus.

lacks focus, eh... and so george is headed there to do what, precisely...? be "presidential...?"

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Uh-oh... Mexico and Venezuela are gettin' serious...

in yesterday's post, i was chuckling... today, things have turned a bit more serious...
Mexico recalled its ambassador from Venezuela on Monday after Caracas said it would withdraw its top diplomat instead of apologizing after President Hugo Chavez warned Mexican leader Vicente Fox: "Don't mess with me, sir, because you'll get stung."

Fox said in a television interview that he would meet with Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez to decide what to do next.

Tensions between Fox and Chavez spilled over after this month's Summit of the Americas in Argentina, where Fox defended a U.S.-backed proposal for a Free Trade Area of the Americas while Chavez proclaimed the idea dead.

In the interview with CNN en Espanol, Fox promised to keep the debate with Chavez from becoming personal but added "we can't allow people to offend our country."

Mexico said earlier Monday that it would kick out Venezuelan ambassador Vladimir Villegas and recall its own ambassador to that country at midnight unless Chavez's government apologized for the remarks.

But in a news conference Monday in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, Foreign Secretary Ali Rodriguez said his country would not accept Mexico's demands and considered the ultimatum "unjustified."

i bet fox wishes he'd never gone to mar del plata...

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Welcome to South Korea, George...!


adoring crowds everywhere...!

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World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)

it's that summit time of year... first, the summit of the americas... now, starting on wednesday in tunis, the wsis...
Reform of Internet governance is the most divisive issue on the agenda. The web is currently managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organisation based in California in the United States.

ICANN has an international advisory board, but the United States has veto power, giving it effective control over the global domain name system.

Several countries are calling for a more democratic inter-governmental organisation to rule the Internet. Ten proposals for reform are under discussion.

so far, no agreement has been hammered out in conferences preparatory to the summit and, to further complicate matters, the host country has become an issue unto itself...
Following protests by civil society groups in October, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan wrote back to say: "The High Commissioner (for Human Rights) has proposed to the Tunisian authorities that they take several measures to remove obstacles to the full enjoyment to the right to freedom of expression and association."

The group Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans Frontieres, RSF) ranks Tunisia 147th out of 167 countries, and describes surveillance of the Internet in Tunisia as "very serious". RSF says its secretary Robert Menard was denied entry into Tunisia earlier this week.

The Tunisia Monitoring Group of the network International Freedom of Expression Exchange said in a report in September that Tunisia is "not suitable for a UN summit."

oughta be interesting if nothing else... probably more interesting than watching george stump his way around japan, china, mongolia and south korea... i wonder if he'll be staying overnight in ulaanbaatar... i doubt he'll be in a great hurry to get to s. korea... (see above...)

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"They won't let us live but they won't let us die."

jeralyn at talkleft shares an article from the denver post about attorneys who are volunteering to assist detainees at guantanamo... inspiring, deeply troubling and extremely sad...
We recently returned from visiting with several prisoners in Guantánamo Bay's military prison, where there are still hundreds of faceless, uncharged prisoners who have been held for nearly four years without ever seeing an attorney.

When many of these prisoners arrived in American custody, they were initially relieved to be in the control of a country that valued justice and due process.

Four years later, many just want to die. They starve themselves for long periods of time and attempt bloody suicides. The government responds by forcing tubes down their throats. People are trying to kill themselves to get out of custody, because they have no legal recourse. "They won't let us live, but they won't let us die," one of our clients explained.

"they were initially relieved to be in the control of a country that valued justice and due process..." if THAT doesn't cut you to the quick, i can't imagine what would...

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The Boston Globe's view on habeas corpus

apropos of skadi's post the other day, Humanity gone wanting in the Senate, today's boston globe editorial condemns the senate's unconscionable move and calls for the vote to be rescinded...
People in the custody of the federal government should not be without basic human rights. The Senate needs to rescind its vote last week that would prevent 750 so-called "illegal combatants" at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from appealing their imprisonment in federal court.


US troops are fighting to safeguard the United States, with its guarantees of personal liberty, not to have civil rights limited in the name of national security. Habeas corpus is a venerable principle of Anglo-American law under which prisoners can challenge their status in court. Congress has the power to limit it under extraordinary circumstances. The early phase of the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus to maintain Washington's lifeline to the North, met that criterion. The war on terror, for all its importance, does not.

yes... absolutely... this is indeed one of the very rights we consider precious and that we send our troops to face possible death to save... as a country, we need to be able to look ourselves in the mirror every morning...

Tell your Senators to SUPPORT Bingaman Amendment 2517!

If there is nobody in detention who can be convicted of anything without special kangaroo courts, then the real terrorists have indeed won, for we will then have abdicated all moral authority. Please contact your senators at once to tell them to support the Bingaman amendment.

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Torture vs. medical and psychological professional ethics

Make a habit of two things - to help, or at least, to do no harm.
- Hippocrates

This weekend, the American Psychiatric Association came to the conclusion that psychiatrists should never participate in coercive interrogations, or even lend advice to government officials carrying out interrogations that involve sleep deprivation, threats, humiliation, sensory deprivation or the use of prolonged stress positions, according to the group's president, Steven S. Sharfstein.

The move comes as officials of the American Medical Association are weighing the ethics of doctors helping interrogators, and it follows a call by the American Psychological Association this summer for its members to abjure participation in cruel and degrading techniques. All the groups have long proscribed torture.

why in the world would a single nanosecond have to be spent coming to that conclusion...? the very concept of medical and mental health care-giving is diametrically opposed to aiding and abetting "enhanced interrogation techniques..." (now THERE'S a euphemistic term... given as how the far right is so vehemently against political correctness, let's just call it plain old torture, shall we...?)

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I have to wonder

I bought a new car on Friday and on Saturday we took the trade-in to the car wash to make it presentable to the dealer. (Yeah, I know they said I didn't need to, but it's sort of like cleaning up before the maid comes over--not that I have any experience with that--so she doesn't think you are a complete slob...)

Anyway, virtually everyone working there was Latino. And you know, so what? There was no way to tell which of them might be in the country illegally. If the boys in power (read: Republicans) were so serious about controlling illegal immigration, instead of posturing at election time, they would go after the employers who knowingly hire them. And they would support policies that assist workers in other countries rather than those that ONLY benefit the multinational corporations. But that is an argument for another day. This is a personal reflection.

As I was watching those workers dry my car and clean the windshields, I felt no anger at their existence. Then I reflected on the Vietnamese woman who does my nails. Her father had been a political prisoner in Viet Nam and her mother was left to hold together a family of eight children.

Finally, I thought of my German and Swedish ancestors who, with hope in their hearts of a better life for themselves and their children, left all they knew and loved behind and crossed the ocean to America. I am sure the ones who got here before them resented them too.

So, I have to wonder at those who seethe when they see a brown-skinned person doing a job they wouldn't do in a million years. Do they think of their own grandparents? Do they think that if economic opportunity truly existed south of the border millions would actually leave their family, friends and home, just to come to a land where they didn't know the language and be villified? Anyone who has even considered leaving a miserable job will attest, the comfort of that weekly paycheck is hard to let go of. Now imagine leaving your country just for the chance for something better.

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Anyone who has been through SERE training would know

When the photos and stories regarding torture at Abu Ghraib came out over a year ago, I was amazed, but when the stories of Koran desecration came out, I remembered back to when my ex-husband, training to be a flight engineer in the Navy went through SERE school. He told me of some of the things their "captors" did to them and one of them was tearing up a Bible in front of them.

An Op-Ed in today's New York Times confirms my suspicions.

Doing Unto Others as They Did Unto Us

Washington — How did American interrogation tactics after 9/11 come to include abuse rising to the level of torture? Much has been said about the illegality of these tactics, but the strategic error that led to their adoption has been overlooked.

The Pentagon effectively signed off on a strategy that mimics Red Army methods. But those tactics were not only inhumane, they were ineffective. For Communist interrogators, truth was beside the point: their aim was to force compliance to the point of false confession.

Fearful of future terrorist attacks and frustrated by the slow progress of intelligence-gathering from prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Pentagon officials turned to the closest thing on their organizational charts to a school for torture. That was a classified program at Fort Bragg, N.C., known as SERE, for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. Based on studies of North Korean and Vietnamese efforts to break American prisoners, SERE was intended to train American soldiers to resist the abuse they might face in enemy custody.

[. . .]

The Pentagon appears to have flipped SERE's teachings on their head, mining the program not for resistance techniques but for interrogation methods. At a June 2004 briefing, the chief of the United States Southern Command, Gen. James T. Hill, said a team from Guantánamo went "up to our SERE school and developed a list of techniques" for "high-profile, high-value" detainees. General Hill had sent this list - which included prolonged isolation and sleep deprivation, stress positions, physical assault and the exploitation of detainees' phobias - to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who approved most of the tactics in December 2002.

Some within the Pentagon warned that these tactics constituted torture, but a top adviser to Secretary Rumsfeld justified them by pointing to their use in SERE training, a senior Pentagon official told us last month.

Doncha just love their circular logic?

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

So, who's Hadley speaking for...? Cheney or Bush...?

stop fronting for cheney, you miserable little weasel...
"The president has said that we are going to do whatever we do in accordance with the law," the national security adviser said. "BUT... [bold and emphasis mine] you see the dilemma. What happens if on September 7th of 2001, we had gotten one of the hijackers and based on information associated with that arrest, believed that within four days, there's going to be a devastating attack on the United States?"

He insisted that it was "a difficult dilemma to know what to do in that circumstance to both discharge our responsibility to protect the American people from terrorist attack and follow the president's guidance of staying within the confines of law."

john mccain is sticking to his guns as well he should...
McCain, who appeared on CBS's "Face the Nation" program, said White House negotiators led by Vice President Richard Cheney were pushing to safeguard the option of using the enhanced interrogation techniques in order to get information from detainees in extraordinary circumstances.

The senator said he disagreed with that approach because he was worried about the damage to the image of the United States.

"I hold no brief for the terrorists," he said. "But it's not about them. It's about us. This battle we're in is about the things we stand for and believe in and practice. And that is an observance of human rights, no matter how terrible our adversaries may be."

"it's not about them... it's about us..." goddam right... but, i hasten to add, it isn't about our friggin' IMAGE as much as it is about our national character... are we the decent and principled people we claim to be...? or not...? and what is this "enhanced interrogation techniques" bullshit...? pardon me while i go be sick...

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Welcome to the talking points circus...! And, today, in the center ring...

once again, GIVE IT UP F-O-O-OR ST-E-E-EPHEN HA-A-A-ADLEY...!!!
While admitting "we were wrong" about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, President Bush's national security adviser on Sunday rejected assertions that the president manipulated intelligence and misled the American people.

Bush relied on the collective judgment of the intelligence community when he determined that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, national security adviser Stephen Hadley said.

"Turns out, we were wrong," Hadley told "Late Edition" on CNN. "But I think the point that needs to be emphasized ... allegations now that the president somehow manipulated intelligence, somehow misled the American people, are flat wrong."

and in the other two rings...
Republican lawmakers and other officials who appeared on Sunday news shows echoed Bush's Veterans Day speech in which he defended his decision to invade Iraq.

if this seems like deja vu all over again, you're right... it is... (see "Wrapping lies in the flag," my post from yesterday...)

you gotta admire the choreography tho'...

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