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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 11/27/2005 - 12/04/2005
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- Noam Chomsky
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, December 03, 2005

From Germany: a look at extraordinary rendition

the eu is being dragged into the u.s. torture issue whether they want to be or not...
A bitter debate over torture has erupted in Europe. Washington is believed to have used EU countries as transit points for moving terrorism suspects to clandestine locations where they may have been tortured. The Council of Europe and other organizations are now demanding answers -- from the US and European countries who looked the other way.

Spiegel Online's graphic map
showing suspected terror
flights in Europe.
(click for larger image)
British journalist Stephen Grey, who claims to have a list of the flight movements of CIA aircraft, says he has discovered 210 suspicious flights in England alone. In January 2003, the Austrian air force even sent up two fighter jets to check on a suspicious Hercules flying under registration number N8183J. An investigation later revealed that the plane had taken off from the Rhine-Main Airbase in Frankfurt and was operated by Tepper Aviation, which is considered a CIA front company.

so, now, as i posted yesterday, condi, the dominatrix, is heading to europe to stifle the controversy... how...? by honesty...? oh, heavens no... she's simply going to tell them this...
Rice will stress in public that Washington does not violate allies' sovereignty or break international law, and she will remind publics their governments are cooperating in a fight against militants who have bombed commuters in Madrid and London, senior U.S. officials said.

let's see... what does that remind me of...? oh, yeah... you're either with us or you're against us... yeah, that's it...

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CNNI special on AIDS in Africa: "This place is f****d"

i am watching a cnn international special on AIDS in africa... it's powerful... very powerful... it takes abstinence and puts it directly where in belongs - in the toilet... unfortunately, despite huge campaigns for condom use, the very revealing interviews with both young men and women show that condom use is rejected, even IF the person knows that he or she ALREADY has AIDS, even IF the young men are talking about what might happen if their SISTERS have sex with an infected partner... at one point, in the evening, sitting on the side of his cot, the interviewer looks up at the camera and says, "this place is f****d... the social structure has completely broken down..."
A special edition from Johannesburg, hosted by CNN's African Bureau Chief, Jeff Koinange. As the world observed another World Aids Day, the United Nations said sub-Saharan Africa still lead the world in the number of new infections across the globe.

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Saturday photoblogging: 15% cut in Argentina supermarket prices

this is a change from my usual photoblogging of beautiful or unusual scenery or places... but, hey, i took the picture only two hours ago and i thought it was cool... so there...
The government yesterday [December 1] signed a two-month price accord with the country’s leading supermarkets to lower prices by 15 percent in its latest effort to rein in galloping inflation. The agreement was the first major announcement by new Economy Minister Felisa Miceli and requires cuts in the prices of food, clothing and personal hygiene products until January 31.

oops... i said in a post earlier today that the cut was for three months... it's not... it's for two...


Signs promoting the 15% price cut in
the produce area of the Coto supermarket.
The sign on the left is for onions and
the one on the right is for sweet potatoes.

i went grocery shopping this afternoon and coto (a large national chain) was a madhouse... the place was packed, every single checkout line was humming, and shoppers and their overflowing baskets were lined up down every aisle... it took me 40 minutes of waiting in line to get out of there... and i couldn't believe how much everyone was buying... it looked like some of them hadn't shopped in months, either that or they weren't planning on shopping again until after christmas...

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The 2008 Monty Python election: "And NOW, for something COMPLETELY different...!"

Looking forward to the 2008 election, three-in-five (60%) surveyed by TIME say they would like the next President to be “completely different” from George W. Bush (36% would like someone similar).

how about looking forward to TOMORROW...? how about we get somebody "completely different" TOMORROW...? (yes, i have already written to santa...)

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Justice Sunday III - aw, c'mon, knock off the sequels

ah... memories...


yeah, ok, they wanna "rally the base" when the alito hearings start... but, folks, the bloom is off the rose... the only thing that's doing well in the sequel department is harry potter... the first justice sunday kinda fell into the horror movie category, leaving everyone gap-jawed at the senate majority leader visibly endorsing right wing fundamentalist religious extremists... the second one, like most sequels, didn't live up to the first one, particularly when frist stayed home... this one...? looks like something you might catch in network re-runs if at all...
FRC President to Announce Justice Sunday III

December 2, 2005
CONTACT: J.P. Duffy, (202) 393-2100

Tony Perkins to Speak at Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA - Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins will speak this Sunday morning at Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia and will announce FRC's next nationwide simulcast. Greater Exodus Baptist Church will host FRC's simulcast television program, Justice Sunday III - "Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land" on Sunday, January 8, 2006 from 7 PM - 8:30 PM ET. The simulcast will air one day before the start of the Alito nomination hearings and will educate people of faith on how the judiciary impacts their lives. Justice Sunday III will broadcast live in churches, on television and radio stations across America and via live webcast on

WHO: Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council
Rev. Herbert Lusk of Greater Exodus Baptist Church

WHAT: FRC President Tony Perkins Announces Justice
Sunday III

WHEN: Sunday, December 4, 2005
11 AM Service

: Greater Exodus Baptist Church
704-710 North Broadway Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

(thanks, i think, to think progress...)

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The Iraq insurgency: broad-based and disconnected

Iraqi and American officials in Iraq say the single most important fact about the insurgency is that it consists not of a few groups but of dozens, possibly as many as 100. And it is not, as often depicted, a coherent organization whose members dutifully carry out orders from above but a far-flung collection of smaller groups that often act on their own or come together for a single attack, the officials say. Each is believed to have its own leader and is free to act on its own.

well, ain't that interestin'... dear leader doesn't seem to agree with "iraqi and american officials in iraq..."
The Bush administration has long maintained, and Mr. Bush reiterated in his speech Wednesday, that the insurgency comprises three elements: disaffected Sunni Arabs, or "rejectionists"; former Hussein government loyalists; and foreign-born terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda. [...] "There is no center of gravity, no leadership, no hierarchy; they are more a constellation than an organization," said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at the Rand Corporation. "They have adopted a structure that assures their longevity."

is there some reason other than pathological why george can't tell us the truth...? every day since even before the man stepped into office, we've been faced with the groucho marx dilemma... what are you going to believe...? my words or your own lying eyes...?

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John Henry Faulk

This Molly Ivins column got me Googling and I found some interesting things here and here. Fascinating audio from a 1983 interview discussing the Freedom of Information Act, the McCarthy era, and the revolutionary concept of government instituted to protect the rights of individuals.

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Bush's victory plan speech photos: how to spin an image

i posted the picture below on thursday following bush's victory in iraq speech... the title of the post was "a grand photo of a small man with a small plan..."


today, in the wapo, i happened across an article by phillip kennicott with the title, "finding an angle in every shot," that uses the following photo of the same man in the same setting with a very, very different message...


The letters fit perfectly within the borders of the picture, and the composition of this and similar images was a study in strong horizontals and verticals. The president's head was a column of strength, holding up, like Atlas bearing the Earth, the horizon created by the lower border of the banner. In an image by Paul J. Richards of Agence France-Presse, the "o" in victory was even positioned just above the president's head, glowing like a halo, while the president gazed slightly up and past the camera. A beatific moment and an image that White House media planners couldn't have bested if they took the shot themselves.

But there's also complexity here: Was "Victory" blurred because the photographers intended to subvert the administration's efforts to craft a message? Did the blurring of the letters actually strengthen the connection between the president and success in Iraq, like soft music in the background or the hazy sfumato of the smile on Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa"?

imho, it would have been MUCH more interesting and more fitting to the article's title to juxtapose the two photos with comments for each... with the photo they chose to use and the accompanying text, it comes across primarily as a paean to bush...

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DeLay: "...nobody's going to tell him no."

"No question, there's considerable discontent in the conference about DeLay's return, but nobody's talking on the record," said a House Republican political strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of crossing DeLay, should he return. "If he beats this rap in Austin, he will be back as majority leader, because nobody's going to tell him no."

"fear of 'crossing' delay..." "beat this rap..." HA...! even if they're not talking on the record, they're at least using language appropriate for a bag man and a thug... that's probably why nobody's going to tell him NO... don't forget, his buddy, abramoff, is connected to that gangland-style murder in florida... i guess fear of death is one possible motive for not bothering the guy...

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Aerolíneas back in the air

i live on one of the approach and departure paths for jorge newberry airport that serves primarily domestic flights within argentina... i noticed a significant pick-up in air traffic yesterday and assumed they were back flying...
Workers and management of Argentina’s largest airline Aerolíneas Argentinas yesterday reached an agreement, suspending their wage dispute and ending a nine-day walkout that had affected more than 80,000 passengers.

The strikers, who account for about 2,000 of the company’s 8,500 workers, agreed to a 90-day truce while they hammer out a definitive wage contract with the management of the airline, which is run by the Spanish consortium Marsans.

Spokesmen for the two unions representing pilots and mechanics of Aerolíneas Argentinas said the workers had accepted in principle the company’s offer of three monthly bonuses of between 400 and 450 pesos for the technicians and of between 600 and 1,000 pesos for the pilots. In further negotiations, the unions will demand that those bonuses become part of the salaries.

Aerolíneas Argentinas’ spokesman Julio Scaramella said that the former Argentine state-run airline had promised to re-hire more than 300 employees it fired during the bitter strike, as demanded by the unions.

argentina has been trying to get a grip on inflation which, for a month or two this past year, has hit double digits... president kirchner just announced two days ago that he had wangled an agreement from producers and supermarket chains to lower commodity food prices by 15% for the next three months... it's been inflation that's been driving wage increase demands but, as the vicious cycle rolls on, wage increases tend to lead to more inflation...

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Go take a flying leap, Hillary...

i would LOVE to see a woman become president and, for a long time, i was one of your staunchest defenders... i truly believed that a lot of the antipathy toward you came from insecure men holding their crotches and whinnying in fear like young stallions at gelding time... sigh... but, your true colors are showing and they aren't at all the ones i thought - or hoped - they were...
Sen. Hillary Clinton left one thing out this week when she tried to explain her views on Iraq - namely that she used to agree almost completely with President Bush, even after the war took a nosedive.

please do me a favor, senator clinton, and just go away... start a bridge group with joe lieberman or something...

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Condi tells EU to drop the push to investigate secret prisons

goddam that woman... goddam the entire bush administration... it doesn't make one whit of difference to bushco who they stonewall... read this story and then see if it doesn't sound like the lead-up to accusing the eu of being "soft on terrorism..." swiftboating the eu... a job tailor-made for karl...
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to give allies in Europe a response next week to their pressure over Washington's treatment of terrorism suspects: back off.

For almost a month, the United States has been on the defensive, refusing to deny or confirm media reports the United States has held prisoners in secret in Eastern Europe and transported detainees incommunicado across the continent.

The European Union has demanded that Washington address the allegations to allay fears of illegal U.S. practices. The concerns are rampant in among the European public and parliaments, already critical of U.S. prisoner-abuse scandals in
Iraq and Guantanamo, Cuba.

But Rice will shift to offense when she visits Europe next week, in a strategy that has emerged in recent days and been tested by her spokesman in public and in her private meetings with European visitors.

She will remind allies they themselves have been cooperating in U.S. operations and tell them to do more to win over their publics as a way to deflect criticism directed at the United States, diplomats and U.S. officials said.

"It's very clear they want European governments to stop pushing on this," said a European diplomat, who had contact with U.S. officials over the handling of the scandals. "They were stuck on the defensive for weeks, but suddenly the line has toughened up incredibly," the diplomat said.

no explanations... no cooperation... no quiet diplomacy... no envoy-to-envoy backroom talks... just "BACK OFF...!" how f*****g typical...! how baldly arrogant...!

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Bill Bennett: purple fingers vs. "the 2000 or so soldiers we have lost..."

"On Dec. 12, when elections begin in Iraq," Bennett told Neil Cavuto in a Fox News Channel interview, "let's see many Americans color their right index finger purple in solidarity for the people voting in free elections in Iraq."

great... another gimmick... about as empty and meaningless as the goddam magnetic yellow "support our troops" emblems stuck all over cars... i'm all for the iraqi electoral process but, as much as it needs to go forward, we desperately need to have a serious goddam national discussion about iraq - which coloring our right index fingers in purple ink has nothing to do with... just like the yellow ribbons, it's a mindless feel-good gesture that makes people THINK they're contributing and involved when they're really only aiding and abetting mindless propaganda...

oh, yeah, and here's another little bennett gem...

"Many people in America are more distressed about it (the war in Iraq) than the people who are living through the crisis," Bennett said. "Staying the course is a prudent policy and one that will ensure that the 2000 or so soldiers we have lost will not have died in vain."

i don't bloody think so... am i MORE distressed than somebody who's IN IRAQ...? is THAT what you mean to say, you FLAMING HORSE'S PATOOT...? and then there's the throwaway casualness of the "2000 or so soldiers we have lost..." how literally gagging...

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no, no, no, no, no, no, no...
By creating a federal agency shielded from public scrutiny, some lawmakers think they can speed the development and testing of new drugs and vaccines needed to respond to a bioterrorist attack or super-flu pandemic.

The proposed Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency, or BARDA, would be exempt from long-standing open records and meetings laws that apply to most government departments, according to legislation approved Oct. 18 by the Senate health committee.

Those exemptions would streamline the development process, safeguard national security and protect the proprietary interests of drug companies, say Republican backers of the bill. The legislation also proposes giving manufacturers immunity from liability in exchange for their participation in the public-private effort.

i wouldn't trust ANY administration with something like this and ESPECIALLY not the bush administration... you have GOT to be friggin' kidding me... not only NO... HELL NO...!!

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Obscene, disgusting and vile: war profiteering

this makes the phrase "over-the-top" seem ludicrously inadequate...
On the day the President told the American people to prepare for the long haul in Iraq, here’s a story that seems to perfectly sum up our priorities as a nation. They’re calling it Mitzvahpalooza. It may go down in history as the world’s most obscene birthday party (eat your heart out Dennis Kozlowski). David H. Brooks, CEO of bulletproof vest maker DHB Industries, spared no expense for his 13-year old daughter’s entry into adulthood. The girl and 300 of her closest BFFs were entertained recently in New York’s Rainbow Room by Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Kenny G, Aerosmith and, believe it or not, 50 Cent (I guess 500 large can make you forget all about street cred). It was hosted by Tom Petty. The reported cost: $10 million.
David H. Brooks, CEO of bulletproof vest maker DHB Industries, earned $70 million in 2004, 13,349% more than his 2001 compensation of $525,000. Brooks also sold company stock worth about $186 million last year, spooking investors who drove DHB’s share price from more than $22 to as low as $6.50 [DHB was trading at $4.20 Wednesday]. In May 2005, the U.S. Marines recalled more than 5,000 DHB armored vests after questions were raised about their effectiveness. By that time, Brooks had pocketed over $250 million in war windfalls.

after reading this, i think i need to go take a shower...

(thanks to crooks and liars...)

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From the Stars and Stripes: the war is a lie

from the letters to the editor section, monday, november 28...
The reality in Iraq is that the United States created a nightmare situation where one didn’t exist. Yes, Saddam Hussein was an evil man who lied, cheated and pillaged his own nation. But how was he different from dictators in Africa who commit massive crimes again humanity with little repercussion and sometimes support from the West? The bottom line up front (BLUF to use a military acronym) is that Saddam was different because we used him as an excuse to go to war to make Americans “feel good” about the “War on Terrorism.” The BLUF is that our ultimate goal in 2003 was the security of Israel and the lucrative oil fields in northern and southern Iraq.

(thanks to the petrelis files and crooks and liars...)

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Natsios resigns from USAID

having worked as a contractor for various usaid projects and seen some of the less than functional internal politics, it'll be interesting to see who replaces him... when i say 'interesting,' i am cynically thinking of which litmus tested crony is going to be put forward by the bushco cabal... think progress reminds us of this fateful exchange back in april 2003...
Andrew Natsios, chief of the U.S. Agency for International Development, has resigned.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on one of Natsios’s most famous miscalculations:

TED KOPPEL: I mean, when you talk about 1.7, you’re not suggesting that the rebuilding of Iraq is gonna be done for $1.7 billion?

NATSIOS: Well, in terms of the American taxpayers contribution, I do, this is it for the US.

KOPPEL: You’re saying the, the top cost for the US taxpayer will be $1.7 billion. No more than that?

NATSIOS: For the reconstruction. And then there’s 700 million in the supplemental budget for humanitarian relief, which we don’t competitively bid ’cause it’s charities that get that money.

KOPPEL: I understand. But as far as reconstruction goes, the American taxpayer will not be hit for more than $1.7 billion no matter how long the process takes?

NATSIOS: That is our plan and that is our intention. And these figures, outlandish figures I’ve seen, I have to say, there’s a little bit of hoopla involved in this. [ABC, Nightline, 4/23/03]

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"Axis of Impunity"

an important and deeply disturbing perspective on the posture taken by the u.s. on adherence to international law...
The Axis of Impunity

One of the positive steps in international law in recent years has been the establishment of the International Criminal Court, a permanant standing court to try cases of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, since its inception, the court has been virulently opposed by the United States, which fears that its soldiers (and more importantly, its political leaders) might be held accountable for any atrocities they commit or order to be committed (such as, say, the razing of Fallujah, the use of indiscriminate weapons in civilian areas, or a policy of torture approved at the highest levels). The chief mechanism used by the US to undermine the court has been a series of "Article 98 agreements" - bilateral agreements exploiting a loophole in the ICC's statute to exempt American citizens from the court's jurisdiction. The US has used strong-arm tactics to extract these agreements from weaker nations, including the passage of the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (AKA the "Invasion of the Hague Act"), which requires the US government to cut off military aid to countries which refuse to sign such an agreement. So far, payments have been withheld from 35 countries (mostly in Eastern Europe and South America) in an effort to get them to toe the American line.

So, who has signed these agreements? Below is a map of 96 of the reported hundred countries who have signed an impunity agreement with the US. The primary source is a list [DOC] compiled by Citizens for Global Solutions:


This is the axis of impunity. And its remarkable how well it tracks both poverty (meaning exposure to American economic threats) and shitty human rights records. What's also remarkable is that the US has been signing reciprocal agreements with the shittiest of the shitty, in effect promising to protect their rulers from international justice. One of those agreements is with Rwanda; if it and the ICC had been in place when the Rwandan genocide occurred, the US would today be providing a safe haven for genocidaires.

(thanks to idiot/savant at no right turn for the diary and to chris kulczycki at kos for pointing me to it...)

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Inquiring minds in Congress want to know about propaganda in Iraq

this subject was heavily blogged over the past few days... i'd left it alone mostly because it seemed like the internet was saturated with it... but this development is certainly worth noting...
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee summoned top Pentagon officials to a closed-door session on Capitol Hill on Friday to explain a reported secret military campaign in Iraq to plant paid propaganda in the Iraqi news media. The White House also expressed deep concerns about the program.

so, perhaps bloggers' heavy interest in a subject is once again prompting congress to action...?

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Texas re-districting probably shouldn't have gone forward

remember in 2003 when democratic state legislators high-tailed it from austin to albuquerque to prevent a vote on the texas redistricting plan...?
While Texas Senate Democrats remain in New Mexico, their counterparts managed to get some work done in Austin.

Passage of the map remains far away from a full vote, especially since 11 Texas Democrat senators say the hospitality in Albuquerque, N.M., suits them just fine.

The Democratic legislators say they'll stay in New Mexico until Republicans and Gov. Rick Perry take the redistricting issue off the table, and said they're prepared to remain out of state up to 30 days, the maximum length of a special session.

remember THIS part...?
State Representative Senfronia Thompson, Democrat of Houston:

“Members of my staff were forced to sign affidavits saying they did not know my whereabouts. The governor sent the Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers after us. Attorney General John Ashcroft was getting ready to find a way that he could arrest us under the USA Patriot Act. Then the FBI could come over to Ardmore and handcuff us and bring us back to Texas.”

well, it finally passed but now it seems that maybe it shouldn't have...
Justice Department lawyers concluded that the landmark Texas congressional redistricting plan spearheaded by Rep. Tom DeLay (R) violated the Voting Rights Act, according to a previously undisclosed memo obtained by The Washington Post. But senior officials overruled them and approved the plan.

The memo, unanimously endorsed by six lawyers and two analysts in the department's voting section, said the redistricting plan illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power in two congressional districts. It also said the plan eliminated several other districts in which minorities had a substantial, though not necessarily decisive, influence in elections.

hey, no biggie... just another little gravy on the tie of the bush/rove/ashcroft/gonzales justice department... it was all for a good cause...
The redistricting was approved in 2003, and Texas Republicans gained five seats in the U.S. House in the 2004 elections, solidifying GOP control of Congress.

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

"A grand photo of a small man with a small plan"

(thanks to justin frank at the huffington post...)

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Wal-Mart: Bush isn't the only one tanking in the polls

The poll showed that a majority, 58 percent, viewed Wal-Mart favorably, but the figure was down from 76 percent in January. Wake Up Wal-Mart said that was proof that its message against the company's low-price business model is hitting its intended target — the average Wal-Mart shopper.

"What this polling indicates is that Wal-Mart's reputation is in a tailspin," said Paul Blank, campaign director at Wake Up Wal-Mart.

76 down to 58... how come you don't see msm reports about bush's reputation being "in a tailspin" now that he's down in the low 30's...?

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Request for Proposal: Peace in Iraq

hmmmm... does halliburton have the capability, i wonder...?
IRAQ: Strategic City Stabilization Initiative (SCSI)


The United States Agency for International Development is seeking applications for an Assistance Agreement from qualified sources to design and implement a social and economic stabilization program impacting ten Strategic Cities, identified by the United States Government as critical to the defeat of the Insurgency in Iraq. The number of Strategic Cities may expand or contract over time.

USAID plans to provide approximately $1,020,000,000 over two years to meet the objectives of the Program. An additional option year may be considered amounting to $300 million at the discretion of USAID.

Funds are not yet available for this program.

please contact:
Yvette Feurtado, Iraq Contracting Officer, Phone 962-6-590-6477, Fax 962-6-590-6333

(thanks to steve clemons at the washington note...)

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Bush "needs to get out more..."

this one-sentence conclusion to today's nyt editorial entitled "Plan: We Win," leaves little doubt about its context...
A president who seems less in touch with reality than Richard Nixon needs to get out more.

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Loathsome Limbaugh on the Christian Peacemaker Team members kidnapped in Iraq

from the cpt website...
What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war?

Jesus said: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." - Matthew 5: 44 (NIV)

We were very saddened to see the images of our loved ones on Al Jazeera television recently. We were disturbed by seeing the video and believe that repeated showing of it will endanger the lives of our friends. We are deeply disturbed by their abduction. We pray that those who hold them will be merciful and that they will be released soon. We want so much to see their faces in our home again, and we want them to know how much we love them, how much we miss them, and how anxious and concerned we are by what is happening to them.

We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people. Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has worked for the rights of Iraqi prisoners who have been illegally detained and abused by the U.S. government. We were the first people to publicly denounce the torture of Iraqi people at the hands of U.S. forces, long before the western media admitted what was happening at Abu Ghraib. We are some of the few internationals left in Iraq who are telling the truth about what is happening to the Iraqi people We hope that we can continue to do this work and we pray for the speedy release of our beloved teammates.

from media matters report on rush limbaugh's november 29 broadcast...
On November 29, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh read an Associated Press report about the apparent kidnapping of four Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) activists by an Iraqi insurgent group. Limbaugh announced that "part of me likes this." He explained: "Well, here's why I like it. I like any time a bunch of leftist feel-good hand-wringers are shown reality. [...] [A]ny time a bunch of people that walk around with the head in the sand practicing a bunch of irresponsible, idiotic theory confront reality, I'm kind of happy about it, because I'm eager for people to see reality, change their minds if necessary, and have things sized up.

vile... what else can be said...?

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Absent cats and busy, busy mice: an unfettered international system

stratfor's peter zeihan...
The question dominating the thoughts of national leaders who often find themselves at loggerheads with Washington is: How do I maximize my position before Washington stops staring at its own navel?

and what are we talking about exactly...? well, for starters, absent the "cats" (the u.s. on a global scale and france and germany within the eu), zeihan points out that the "mice" (the rest of the eu - british, irish, spanish, portuguese, estonians, latvians, lithuanians, poles, hungarians, czechs, slovaks, slovenes, romanians, bulgarians, greeks, italians, dutch, danes, swedes and finns), north korea, venezuela, israel, syria, saudi arabia, iran, pakistan, china, and russia), are going to be using the current global power vacuum to their best possible advantage... zeihan sees russia as having the most latitude to act and predicts where they will put their efforts...
[For Russia], the real issues are items closer to home: Uzbekistan, Ukraine, the Baltics. It is less about attempting to maintain the long-outdated international balance of the Cold War that Russia's nationalists crave, and more about more traditional Russian concerns of securing the borders by expanding them -- or at minimum expanding Russia's "zones of comfort."

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Bahrain: an Egyptian divergence, a Bush flop

At an international conference this month attended by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and designed to strengthen local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society in the Middle East, Egyptian officials pressed for language stipulating that only organisations legally registered with their governments were covered by the new fund, known as the Foundation for the Future.


Saudi Arabia and Oman initially supported the Egyptian position, but ultimately all the governments except Egypt agreed to remove language that would have given them control over foreign resources going to groups in their countries.

Several Arab delegates reportedly saw the language of the U.S. draft as another indication that the Bush administration was attempting to impose democracy "from the outside". Several delegations said that Arabs want more say in crafting criteria for change.

Egypt is the second-largest recipient of U.S. aid, after Israel; it receives roughly 2 billion dollars in U.S. military and economic assistance annually. Since it made peace with Israel more than 25 years ago, it has received tens of billions of dollars from the U.S. It is home to more than half the Arab world's population.

how quaint... egypt wants egyptian ngo's who receive money to be legally registered in egypt... arabs in general want more say in developing criteria that apply to their own countries and don't want democracy imposed "from the outside..." what a concept...!

dr. omid safi of colgate university:

"The failure of the Forum for the Future yet again brings to light the failure of the Bush administration to grasp that the majority of people in the Middle East will continue to judge U.S. actions not by fancy rhetoric and multi-million-dollar initiatives, but rather by the changing of our foreign policy to one that abides by international human rights agreements and empowers self-determination."

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

An inventory of O'Reilly idiocy

media matters puts together a compendium of the latest o'reilly testaments to a single-digit iq...
O'Reilly: "There's a very secret plan ... to diminish Christian philosophy in the U.S.A."

According to O'Reilly, the "secular progressive" movement has three elements:

* First, progressive financiers George Soros and Peter Lewis "pour money into the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union], they pour money into the smear websites, you know, they buy up a lot of media time."
* Second, "the ACLU is their legal arm. ... [T]he ACLU runs around the country suing everybody and intimidating people."
* Third, "the smear websites are their media arm."

O'Reilly said these three elements operate "in tandem":

O'REILLY: [Y]ou use your left-wing smear websites to go after anybody who stands up for Christmas. If you stand up for Christmas, they come after you. So the tandem intimidates. The tandem intimidates. Suing on one hand; smearing on the other hand.
Fox betrays Christmas crusade, sells "Holiday" ornaments for your "Holiday tree"

Despite O'Reilly's specific criticism of those who use the term "holiday tree" instead of "Christmas tree," an O'Reilly Factor ornament for sale at the Fox News store features this tagline: "Put your holiday tree in 'The No Spin Zone' with this silver glass 'O'Reilly Factor' ornament."
O'Reilly: "I don't believe Paul Krugman gives a fig about the troops"

O’Reilly: He's a Princeton professor who writes for The New York Times. I don't believe a word he says about anything. I think he's a socialist who hates the country. And, you know, when I see his byline, I just go, "Oh, next."
Today's All-Spin Zone: NBC gave O'Reilly forum to compare advocates of withdrawal from Iraq to Hitler appeasers

Today host Katie Couric lobbed O'Reilly a softball, asking "What is your biggest fear about a premature withdrawal?"

From Today:

O'REILLY: These pinheads running around going, "Get out of Iraq now," don't know what they're talking about. These are the same people before Hitler invaded in World War II that were saying, "Ah, he's not such a bad guy." They don't get it.

my son works with someone who listens to o'reilly religiously (pardon the pun)... i have to ask myself, how can someone who surely has a functioning brain listen to such drivel for more than a nanosecond...?

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Genocide: a very sobering implication of the "Victory Plan"

robert parry makes a point well worth considering and not a very pretty one at that...
Despite pretty words about democracy and freedom, George W. Bush’s “victory” plan in Iraq is starting to look increasingly like an invitation to genocide, the systematic destruction of the Sunni minority for resisting its U.S.-induced transformation from the nation’s ruling elite into second-class citizenship.

The Sunnis, an Islamic sect that makes up about 35 percent of Iraq’s 26 million people, are being confronted with a stark choice, either accept subordination to the less-educated Shiite majority or face the devastation of Sunni neighborhoods, the imprisonment of many Sunni males and the deaths of large numbers of the Sunni population.

In referring to this possibility, many in Washington object to the word “genocide” – which is defined in international law as the destruction of “in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” – but already there are troubling signs that Iraq’s incipient civil war could slide into something close to that.

and, given that the sunnis are, for the most part, the more qualified in warfare, both conventional and unconventional, and are also gaining a lot of experience currently conducting the insurgency, things could get pretty ugly...

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'Victory plan'

the quotes on this bbc headline pretty much sum it up...

Bush outlines Iraq 'victory plan'

and if the headline doesn't make it clear enough, the last paragraph in this snippet does...
In a major policy speech, Mr Bush refused to set an "artificial deadline" to withdraw US troops, saying it was "not a plan for victory".

It comes after the release of the first Iraq strategy document, which rejects widespread calls for a timetable.

Mr Bush has come under growing pressure from Democrats on Iraq. Polls give him the lowest approval of his presidency.

They also suggest that six out of 10 Americans think the war in Iraq is not worth the cost.

As such, this was a speech from a president in deep trouble, says the BBC's Justin Webb in Washington.

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The National Strategy for Boosting Iraq P.R.

this past sunday, i stated my hope that george's speech on iraq today wasn't simply more of the same old crap we've heard a thousand times already...
After two-and-a-half years and 2,110 U.S. troop fatalities, the Bush administration released what it calls a “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” (NSVI). The problem is, it’s not a new strategy for success in Iraq; it’s a public relations document. The strategy describes what has transpired in Iraq to date as a resounding success and stubbornly refuses to establish any standards for accountability.

oh, well... another hope dashed...

(thanks to think progress...)

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Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman and Rumsfeld part ways

i was watching this news conference yesterday in the airport but i missed this part...
The nation's top military man, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, said American troops in Iraq have a duty to intercede and stop abuse of prisoners by Iraqi security personnel.

When Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld contradicted Pace, the general stood firm.

Rumsfeld told the general he believed Pace meant to say the U.S. soldiers had to report the abuse, not stop it.

Pace stuck to his original statement.

The unusual exchange occurred during a discussion at a news conference about the relationship between U.S. forces in Iraq and an Iraqi government considered sovereign by the United States.

a very public divergence like that is a big deal... i would have loved to have been a fly on the wall listening to their post press conference debrief... rumsfeld likes to make it pretty clear that he doesn't take shit from anybody but pace looks like he could probably hold his own quite well... it's been widely reported in the press that senior military officers can't STAND rumsfeld and i've had that perspective validated when talking to a few senior u.s. military and ex-military working with the defense ministry of a better-left-unnamed country...

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Argentina: Aerolineas strike goes on

i posted on this the other day...

when we landed this morning, i saw quite a few aerolineas argentinas aircraft parked around the airport and assumed the strike was still underway... then, what with dealing with immigration, baggage retrieval and the dreaded aduana (customs), it slipped my mind until i read this just now in today's news...

A labour conflict in Argentina’s largest airline that has already stranded 50,000 people further escalated on its sixth day yesterday when Aerolíneas Argentinas sacked more than 100 striking workers, totalling 337 layoffs since Sunday.

Aerolíneas pilots and mechanics have been on strike since Thursday, in a protest that has grounded some 260 domestic and international flights. The workers are demanding a 45-percent pay hike but Spanish consortium Marsans — Aerolíneas’ owner since 2001 — has offered five percent.

the aerolineas terminal and the terminal where i arrived are separate so i didn't notice any pickets and the overall operation seemed normal...

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From winter to summer...

all the windows open... nice breeze... maybe a little summer thundershower later on... ah, the pleasures of going from high desert nevada to buenos aires in late november...

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Headed south... WAY south...

getting ready to board an 11-hr flight to argentina... depending on whether or not my friend got my internet connection set up as promised, i may or may not be posting again by tomorrow... meanwhile, you'll just have to entertain yourselves... :)

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Bushco adopts realism in Iraq...?

In a new indication that the balance of power within the administration of President George W. Bush has tilted strongly in favour of the realists, Washington's influential ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, has disclosed that Bush has authorised him to open direct talks with Iran about stabilising Iraq.

well, yeah, that IS a significant shift but, listening to rumsfeld today and then reading what bush is continuing to say, you wouldn't think that reality had any bearing whatsoever on this administration's thought processes... besides, wasn't the white house just beating the war drums over iran a few weeks ago...? but, as juan cole notes, it may explain a few things...
This opening may help explain why Ahmad Chalabi went to Tehran before he went to Washington, and why he was given such a high-level (if unphotographed) reception in Washington.

Likewise, it helps explain the Cairo Conference sponsored by the Arab League, the results of which were an effort to reach out to the Sunni Arab guerrillas.

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The enormity of Cunningham's crime

i suspect, with what's going on with abramoff, scanlon, noe and the other sleazy characters, we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg...
Yesterday's guilty plea by Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham -- make that former representative, since he resigned after entering the plea -- reveals the most brazen bribery conspiracy in modern congressional history. A San Diego Republican and Vietnam War veteran who served on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee and the intelligence committee, Mr. Cunningham admitted taking $2.4 million in bribes from two defense contractors angling for government contracts and from two other co-conspirators. [...] The bribes are breathtaking in their scope, audacity and sheer greed.

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Roberto Lavagna, architect of Argentina's debt recovery, resigns in cabinet shake-up

wow... big news from down south... i suppose it was to be expected after lavagna spoke before a major business association last week, an association president kirchner had just finished lambasting in the press... their differences had been widely reported but i didn't think, given lavagna's performance in the debt reduction effort, that kirchner would let him go that easily...
Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna, the independent economist who played a key role in Argentina’s recovery from recession, exited President Néstor Kirchner’s government yesterday to be replaced by Banco Nación head Felisa Miceli — the first woman to run the country’s economy.

After days of speculation about a deepening rift with Kirchner, Lavagna tendered his resignation after a brief meeting with the President in Government House yesterday. Lavagna was widely considered Argentina’s most powerful and popular politician after Kirchner.

the others...
Nilda Garré, Argentina’s ambassador to Venezuela, will replace senator-elect José Pampuro as defence minister. Garré is a long-time human rights activist with a background of militancy in the Peronist party in the 1970s. Minutes after getting a call from Kirchner offering her the job, Garré got a call from Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez who congratulated her on the promotion. [...] Foreign Minister Rafael Bielsa, meanwhile, will be replaced by his deputy, Jorge Enrique Taiana. [...] The place of Kirchner’s sister, Welfare Minister Alicia Kirchner, will be taken by Juan Carlos Nadalich, currently second-in-command at the PAMI pensioners’ health institute. Alicia Kirchner won a senatorial seat in the President’s native province, Santa Cruz.

if you are counting, that's two new women cabinet ministers...

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Delta's bankruptcy court motion: the taint of union-busting

damn right... i've been hollering about this for months... i'm glad a judge is seeing the same thing and calling them on it... it's digusting how bankruptcy has become the latest business strategy du jour...
The judge presiding over Delta Air Lines' bankruptcy said on Monday that the carrier's motion seeking to void its pilots' contract had the taint of "union busting."

"The issue is whether or not at this time I should permit the rejection of the union contract," US Bankruptcy Judge Prudence Beatty said. "One can talk about union busting and that is precisely what this kind of motion has the taint of..."

Her remarks came amid a testy exchange between the judge and Delta lawyer Jack Gallagher in which Beatty, who the pilots have in the past accused of siding against them, assailed some of the airline's main arguments.

Delta is asking the court to void the pilots' contract so it can force them to accept USD$325 million in givebacks, part of USD$3 billion in cost cuts and revenue increases it says it needs to stem its losses.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

"Underlings exploited Bush's detachment" and deliberately ignored evidence

wilkerson's b-a-a-a-ck...
A top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that wrongheaded ideas for the handling of foreign detainees arose from White House and Pentagon officials who argued that "the president of the United States is all-powerful" and the Geneva Conventions irrelevant.

In an Associated Press interview, former Powell chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson also said President Bush was "too aloof, too distant from the details" of postwar planning. Underlings exploited Bush's detachment and made poor decisions, Wilkerson said.

underlings...? like dick cheney...? like donald rumsfeld...?

again, no surprises here... i just wish to hell wilkerson and powell had gone public and raised holy hell long before this...

ok, now let's consider for a minute the headline the ap gave this story... ready...?

Ex-Powell Aide Criticizes Detainee Effort

well, y-e-a-a-ah... i guess that's ONE of the possible headlines... but get this, buried about 17 paragraphs in...
[Wilkerson] said he has almost, but not quite, concluded that Cheney and others in the administration deliberately ignored evidence of bad intelligence and looked only at what supported their case for war.

oh, well then... "deliberately ignored..." small point... just mentioned in passing... sheesh...

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Routine torture in Iraq - an interrogator's first-hand account

here's the summary... damning stuff but also corroboration of what we've thought all along...
Spc. Tony Lagouranis (Ret.) was a U.S. Army interrogator from 2001 to 2005, and served a tour of duty in Iraq from January 2004 to January 2005. He was first stationed at Abu Ghraib; in the spring he joined a special intelligence gathering task force that moved among detention facilities around the country. Here, he talks about how he found a "culture of abuse" permeating interrogations throughout Iraq. "The worst stuff I saw was from the detaining units who would torture people in their homes," he tells FRONTLINE. "… They would smash people's feet with the back of an axe-head. They would break bones, ribs, you know. That was serious stuff." He says he sent reports of the abuse he saw up the chain of command, but he does not believe his claims were followed up on. Lagouranis also talks about the confusion on the ground over whether Iraqi prisoners were subject to the Geneva Conventions. "I mean, there's just no way that what we were doing and what was sanctioned by the Pentagon through the IRE, the interrogation rules of engagement -- there's no way that fit in within the Geneva Conventions," he says. And he describes his own use of military working dogs to intimidate prisoners.

pbs frontline has the interview transcript...

(thanks to levity at kos...)

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Randy Cunningham: the Duke takes a fall

good news day... it's beginning to look a lot like christmas...
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday morning to conspiring to take bribes in exchange for using his influence to help a defense contractor get business.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of income tax evasion.

U.S. District Larry A. Burns scheduled Cunninghman's sentencing for Feb. 27.

actually, it IS beginning to look a lot like christmas... it's snowing lightly here in the high desert, the first of the year (at the lower elevations, that is)... tomorrow, i head back south of the equator to summertime... YAY...!

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Fitz the bloodhound is on Rove's trail and closing in fast

hoooo-eeeee... listen for the baying of the hounds when they've got that varmint treed...
Rove’s former personal assistant, Susan B. Ralston -- who was also a special assistant to President Bush -- testified in August about why Cooper’s call to Rove was not logged. Ralston said it occurred because Cooper had phoned in through the White House switchboard and was then transferred to Rove’s office as opposed to calling Rove’s office directly. As Rove’s assistant, Ralston screened Rove’s calls.

But those close to the probe tell RAW STORY that Fitzgerald obtained documentary evidence showing that other unrelated calls transferred to Rove’s office by the switchboard were logged. He then called Ralston back to testify.

Earlier this month, attorneys say Fitzgerald received additional testimony from Ralston -- who said that Rove instructed her not to log a phone call Rove had with Cooper about Plame in July 2003.

Ralston also provided Fitzgerald with more information and “clarification” about several telephone calls Rove allegedly made to a few reporters, including syndicated columnist Robert Novak, the lawyers said.

If true, this is perhaps the most significant evidence Fitzgerald has obtained suggesting Rove deliberately sought to mislead investigators.

i hope to hell he's squirming like he's made so many others squirm... if he enters a plea, he's toast... if fitz indicts him, he's toast... either way, it's fine with me...

(thanks to raw story...)

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Bush: a profile of the acting-out, dry-drunk personality

just as an exercise, try to attach real-world examples that show how and when bush has engaged in these behaviors...
Appearance to the world of the acting out personality

  • The "scapegoat'' of the environment
  • Irresponsible
  • Troublemakers at home, work, school, or community
  • Get into a lot of mischief
  • Runaways
  • Drug or alcohol problems
  • Delinquent or pre-delinquent behavior
  • Brushes with legal authority
  • Rebellious against any type of authority figure
  • Do not take direction easily
  • Goof off people
  • Bring disgrace to family, fellow workers, friends, or self
  • Lack tolerance for others
  • Poor achievement record
  • Angry, hostile, or belligerent
  • Fail at school or work
  • Sexually promiscuous, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unwilling to abide by rules or codes of conduct
  • Prone to use a self-destructive behavior pattern
  • Lack of worth to the system, organization, family unit
  • Sullen and uncooperative
  • Bombastic, mouthy, caustic
  • Shallow, self-centered, manipulative, exploitive

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Did Scotty get beamed up?

the inquiring minds at think progress want to know...
Where did White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan go? The last time McClellan gave an on-the-record press briefing from the White House press podium was 19 days ago.


We called the White House today to ask whether there would be a press briefing today, and the press assistant checked the schedule and informed us there was not one scheduled. When asked whether there would be a press briefing any time this week, the press office informed us that there was nothing scheduled because the President would be traveling.

Given his long absence, we’re left wondering if Scotty is still on the job.

with bush acting out, it's very likely that everything is in limbo... maybe we'll know more if bush allows questions today after his immigration speech in arizona...

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Suicide bombers crop up in Afghanistan

i receive infrequent but informative reports from my friend in kabul... in one, he attached a picture of himself wearing a helmet... if you knew this person, that is the very last personal accessory you could have ever imagined him wearing... it sounds like he may be wearing it more often now...
The attacks have been particularly noteworthy for their use of suicide bombers. Some have struck in waves, with one explosive-laden car following the next in an effort to maximize casualties. That sort of attack has been a hallmark of al Qaeda and a regular occurrence in Iraq. But in Afghanistan, suicide attacks of any kind have been relatively rare, despite a quarter-century of warfare.

Attackers have also shown a growing appetite for strikes in cities, particularly Kabul, setting residents' nerves on edge and leading them to take new security precautions at work, home and social events.

does everything we touch turn to shit...?

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Fear is never a long-term strategy

two good articles, one about how the scales of fear are falling off of the eyes of the american people and the second about how fear is finally catching up with those who have been so successful in using it for their own ends...
The United States is now undergoing a great reckoning. With collapsing confidence in the government, obsessive debate about the war, rising contempt for the president, shame in relation to the plight of our young soldiers, acrimony at holiday tables -- ''I told you so" versus ''What would you have us do?" -- the nation confronts the all-too-human fact that our frightened responses to Al Qaeda, at home and abroad, have done us far more damage than the nihilist terrorists ever could have. Our communal dread, instead of sharpening our responses, made them reckless.

fear is extremely debilitating... bushco, of course, knows this and has used it as an excuse to shove naked power, money, global domination and social control schemes down our collective throats... now, however, as always happens, they are being overtaken by their own fear...
The political shock and awe the administration so regularly deployed after Sept. 11, 2001 no longer works. The Democrats suddenly have discovered that -- no thanks to them -- the American people are somewhere else and they have little to fear from George Bush or Dick Cheney. No Presidential "counterattack," no "lashing out," no set of speeches or new agenda (to be announced in the 2006 State of the Union Address or anywhere else) is likely to change any of this for the better for this President. Fear is no longer on the Bush administration's side. No wonder they're now afraid -- very, very afraid.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Ok, George... What IS your plan for Iraq...?

fine... but if it means more of the same old crap we've heard a thousand times already, forget it...
The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee [Virginia Sen. John Warner] urged President George W. Bush on Sunday to go before the American public to explain his plan for the war in Iraq.

however, george has been sulking in crawford... (see previous post...)
Bush, who has been out of public sight since he arrived on November 22 at his Crawford, Texas ranch for a Thanksgiving break, has been facing waning support for the war and the lowest job approval ratings of his presidency.

george speaks on immigration tomorrow in arizona, an issue he believes will help him regain his standing in the polls... anyone wanna take any bets...?

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From deep within the White House bunker

oh, lord... not as if we haven't figured out long ago how this man-child we call a president behaves but, heaven help us, it's playing out now to the bitter end...
"We're just plodding along," admitted a senior Bush aide from deep within the West Wing bunker. "It's up to the President to turn things around now."

Even as his poll numbers tank, however, Bush is described by aides as still determined to stay the course. He resists advice from Republicans who fear disaster in next year's congressional elections, and rejects criticism from a media establishment he disdains.

"The President has always been willing to make changes," the senior aide said, "but not because someone in this town tells him to - NEVER!"

For the moment, Bush has dismissed discreetly offered advice from friends and loyalists to fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and bring back longtime confidant Karen Hughes from the State Department to shore up his personal White House staff.

"He thinks that would be an admission he's screwed up, and he can't bring himself to do that," a former senior staffer lamented.


A card-carrying member of the Washington GOP establishment with close ties to the White House recently encountered several senior presidential aides at a dinner and came away shaking his head at their "no problems here" mentality.

"There is just no introspection there at all," he said in exasperation. "It is everybody else's fault - the press, gutless Republicans on the Hill. They're still in denial."

this guy is totally friggin' dysfunctional, just the kind of behavior you'd expect from a dry drunk - sulking, moody, stubborn as hell, not listening to anybody, determined not to admit to any weakness or vulnerability, in complete denial, digging himself deeper and deeper... we've been in deep shit for a long time with this false-front, drugstore cowboy president, and now it's getting a whole lot deeper...

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Pakistan arms deal sours

i posted way back on may 8 about this u.s. arms deal with pakistan and speculated about how india would respond... of course, not long after, the u.s. cut some special deals with india and india basically abandoned its historical non-aligned status, a huge move that caused raised eyebrows around the world...
Pakistan's decision to postpone the US-subsidized purchase of 77 nuclear-capable F-16 fighter planes from the ailing Lockheed-Martin Corporation provides an opportunity for the Bush administration and Congress to call off a disastrous deal that the United States should never have proposed in the first place.

In economic terms, it would be reckless for Pakistan to pile on new foreign debt by spending $3.5 billion on F-16s. Even before the earthquake, Pakistan was a poor country, with per capita gross national income of $600 per year.


For the United States, the damaging strategic consequences of the F-16 deal have become increasingly apparent since the White House offered to sell the planes last March. It is fueling an arms race between New Delhi and Islamabad just when a delicate peace process has begun to ease tensions in Kashmir, and it is rekindling anti-US sentiment in India just when the administration has started to move toward a ''strategic partnership" with New Delhi to strengthen India as a counterweight to China and Iran.

it would be both interesting and novel if the united states was to define and engage in a foreign policy that actually encouraged peace instead of war but, hey, that wouldn't be to the advantage of the arms manufacturers now, would it...?

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Rove still vulnerable...

oh, yeah, baby...! if i had my choice of one man in this criminal administration that i would like to see go down, it would be karl rove, with trickier dick a close second... rove is an evil, evil man and that he has come to occupy such a seat of power will be seen down the road as one of the most tragic chapters in this country's history...
Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation is still active and Karl Rove is still under heavy scrutiny. The AP reports:
A second Time magazine reporter has been asked to testify in the CIA leak case, this time about her discussions with Karl Rove’s attorney, a sign that prosecutors are still exploring charges against the White House aide. Viveca Novak, a reporter in Time’s Washington bureau, is cooperating with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald…

Novak specifically has been asked to testify under oath about conversations she had with Rove attorney Robert Luskin starting in May 2004, the magazine reported.

Rove claims that any inaccuracies in his previous testimony were because “he was very busy man who simply forgot” about his conversation with Time Magazine’s Matt Cooper and other information relevant to the case. Fitzgerald clearly has his doubts about Rove’s excuse and believes Viveca Novak’s testimony can help him establish what really happened.

(thanks to think progress...)

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Iraq withdrawal already underway in some areas

why is it so friggin' hard to get the truth out of this administration...? (sorry... rhetorical question...)

from juan cole...
Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, national security adviser to the Iraqi government, said Saturday that "The American forces will soon turn over complete and total responsibility for security in a number of areas of the country to Iraqi forces." He said that a joint working committee was formed last summer toward that end. He expressed hope that there would be further turn-overs before the Dec. 15 elections, to deprive the guerrilla movement of its pretext for rejecting the political process, i.e. that it is unfolding under the shadow of foreign military occupation.

It is little noted in the US press that US troops have already withdrawn from the cities of Najaf and Karbala. American forces are also withdrawing from military bases in favor of Iraqis. The somewhat ill-fated US hand-over of Saddam's palace complex in Tikrit to the Iraqi government last week was part of this series of withdrawals (the ceremony took mortar fire).

Coalition forces are likely to withdraw from some 15 other Iraqi cities fairly soon. They appear to initially pull back to a garrison outside the city. But if things stay quiet, it is apparently envisaged by al-Rubaie and other Iraqi government figures that they will depart entire provinces.

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The business of war - profit and loss as a higher moral value

oh, man... although he's writing in the context of the the likely suicide death of Col. Ted Westhusing in Baghdad, arthur cuts right to the heart of not only iraq but also of the soul-deadening that has been taking place in this country for a very long time... money and stuff, thanks to the very hard work of those who profit the most from it, have replaced truth, meaning, and noble higher purpose...
Life and death, torture, suffering, unendurable loss and agony -- it's all a matter of profit and loss. Anything that improves the bottom line is permitted -- even the slaughter of innocents. We are a nation of mercenaries -- and we have lost our soul, perhaps for good. Col. Westhusing finally concluded that honor was no longer possible, and he saw no way to stop the horror. Do you wonder at what he did? We created a situation where he felt he no longer had any meaningful choices -- but he refused to give up his conviction that you do "the right thing because it was the right thing to do."

And yet, we insist on finding fault with him. How did we reach such a dark and terrible place?

So I must respectfully disagree with Col. Westhusing's wife in one respect. Iraq didn't kill her husband.

Bush and all those who support this unnecessary, illegitimate and immoral war killed him. It is a war that can only be fought by immoral means, since it is completely sundered from any moral foundation.

And if you supported and still support this war, you helped to kill him.

How much longer are we going to permit this to go on? A year? Two years? Five years? How many more people have to die? How many more people will lose their sight, or their legs, or their minds? Why aren't we marching in the streets to end this madness?

I despair for my country. We tolerate all these horrors, and we barely protest. I think we are beyond forgiveness now. Forgiveness is not possible for what we have let ourselves become.

yes, indeed... "How did we reach such a dark and terrible place?"

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OneManBandWidth - this week's featured blog

i've followed this blog (onemanbandwidth - an american professor in china) from time to time and i can highly recommend it... the blogger, lonnie hodge, is an american, living in china, and blogs on his perspective of the world's most populous country... with china emerging as a truly dominant world power, following along with lonnie is definitely time well-spent... a little from his bio...
Lonnie Hodge is currently the Chinese Trade Specialist and SEO [Search Engine Optimization] Consultant for Sinotrading: an American based resource for Chinese Manufacturing and China Sourced Products. He is one of only two peer reviewed, and accepted, SEO specialists in China.


He doesn’t use spell-check on his own blog and it shows.

Lonnie also helps source, factory direct, any unique or private-labeled products or other wholesale item your business might need made in China: from linens to pens and from car parts to luggage.

It keeps him out of trouble.

Lonnie has been a lecturer worldwide on topics related to Humor and Wellness, Personal Communication, Asian Culture, International Trade, Search Engine Optimization, Marketing, ESL and Personal Growth and Development for Universities, small and large businesses, The Kellogg Leadership Program, The Fetzer Institute and more…

He has a hard time being quiet.

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Slow reveal: the quiet exercise of absolute power

how have we sunk this far...?
[N]o one outside the administration knows just how the determination is made whether to handle a terror suspect as an enemy combatant or as a common criminal, to hold him indefinitely without charges in a military facility or to charge him in court.

Indeed, citing the need to combat terrorism, the administration has argued, with varying degrees of success, that judges should have essentially no role in reviewing its decisions.

and that ain't all...
The Pentagon has pushed legislation on Capitol Hill that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information gathered about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies, as long as the data is deemed to be related to foreign intelligence.


"We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a recent interview.

speaking of spying on law-abiding americans, a well-known blogger, without revealing how he came to know, makes this claim...
CIFA's [Counterintelligence Field Activity] been reading Jesus' General for over a year (seriously, this is not a joke). I feel much safer knowing that.

I've always wondered if it was because I asked the government of Iran to fix a pothole in front of my house (again, I'm serious--it's the only reason I can think of for being on their radar). The timing's right. I first learned that CIFA was monitoring Jesus' General in the Spring of 2004.

Are they reading your blog too?

i'm going to make a post later today about how you can determine who belongs to the various ip addresses of visitors to your site or blog... i am no expert in this but i will provide a resource or two that you can use as a start if you feel moved to investigate who's visiting you...

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Mexico business leaders see Argentina's Kirchner as a model

Despite President Néstor Kirchner’s forcing creditors of Argentina to swallow the largest debt haircut in world history, some of the most powerful Mexican business leaders consider him a true statesman and an advocate of a new, non-violent left, according to one of Mexico’s leading lawyers.

that's also despite kirchner's recent criticism of vicente fox on fox's call for argentina to support bush's ftaa following the summit of the americas...

maybe they're hoping whoever wins mexico's presidential election next year will take their cues from kirchner rather than hugo chavez or fidel castro...

Actually, what the business chiefs really fear is that Mexico City’s leftist Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador may win the presidency next year and "become another Fidel Castro," lawyer Gonzalo Aguilar Zinser told the Herald.
López Obrador, of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), is widely seen as the favourite to succeed President Vicente Fox, who belongs to the conservative National Action Party (PAN).

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