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

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The 4th Psychological Operations Group - getting out the "news" in Iraq

this isn't "new" news... for 10 months of my tour in vietnam, i belonged to the 4th psychological operations group... for four more months, i was assigned to the psychological operations directorate of the military assistance command, vietnam... in my collection of souvenirs are leaflets printed by my company for distribution in the central highlands of vietnam... below is the front and back of a leaflet that was air-dropped on viet cong forces with directions on how to defect...

the leaflet below was prepared by the north vietnamese for distribution to u.s. forces...!

our company, besides designing, printing and distributing leaflets, also operated a radio station and conducted civic affairs missions (personal health and safety) among the montagnard tribes of the central highlands...
In state of the art studios, producers prepare the daily mix of music and news for the group's radio stations or spots for friendly television outlets. Writers putting out newspapers and magazines in Baghdad and Kabul converse via teleconferences. Mobile trailers with high-tech gear are parked outside, ready for the next crisis.

The center is not part of a news organization, but a military operation, and those writers and producers are soldiers. The 1,200-strong psychological operations unit based at Fort Bragg turns out what its officers call "truthful messages" to support the United States government's objectives, though its commander acknowledges that those stories are one-sided and their American sponsorship is hidden.

"We call our stuff information and the enemy's propaganda," said Col. Jack N. Summe, then the commander of the Fourth Psychological Operations Group, during a tour in June.

i've written a memoir of my time in psychological operations and in vietnam that is posted on my other blog...

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Joseph Stiglitz: after every round of trade talks, the poorest countries are worse off

stiglitz takes a dim view of the wrap-up of the current round of development talks taking place in hong kong this week...
Whatever face-saving measures are taken, the meeting in Hong Kong in mid-December to wrap up the current development round of world trade talks will almost surely fail the only test that matters: whether such an agreement promotes the poorest countries’ development. Cynics will say that the advanced countries, in the tradition of previous trade deals, intended to provide only the bare minimum in the way of concessions, while generating the full maximum in the way of “spin,” to get the developing countries on board.


[D]eveloping countries today need to take a hard look at the details of what is being offered. Will the benefits—increased access to international markets—be greater than the costs of meeting rich countries’ demands? Many developing countries are likely to come to the conclusion that no agreement is better than a bad agreement, particularly one as unfair as the last.

i have enormous respect for joseph stiglitz... his book, "globalization and its discontents," opened my eyes to global realities i barely knew existed... that book, coupled with time spent in emerging economies over the past few years, has put me on a steep learning curve with a sensitivity to things most folks in the u.s. have no clue about... while i'm a rank beginner compared to someone with the knowledge, experience and perspective of stiglitz, i try to follow the often arcane actions of the imf, the world bank and the wto... i'm probably a case study in "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing..."
Joseph E. Stiglitz, professor at Columbia University, was the recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize in economics. His best-selling Globalization and its Discontents has been translated into more than 30 languages. His new book Fair Trade for All: How Trade can Promote Development, written with Andrew Charlton, is being published this month by Oxford University Press.

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Bush may not be a religious fanatic but he ain't against social controls either

I don't believe George W. Bush, in his heart, is a religious fanatic. Nevertheless, he deserves much of the blame. By kowtowing to the Christian right for five years, he's taught them to expect subservience. By mouthing their code words in his speeches, he has given them a taste of a government that speaks for them, in their language. And by ignoring dissent, tampering with the media, punishing disagreement, and resolutely lying in the face of evidence, he has paved the way for the rule of illusion and propaganda, ideology and spectacle and faith-based reality, all safeguarded by the iron fist. In a word: Totalitarianism.

the fundamentalist christian right is merely bushco's means to an end and the end is to insure that sufficient mechanisms of social control are in place to keep the populace in line... what good is manipulating us with fear if you don't have a way to get us to do what you want us to do... and what does bushco want us to do...? it's very simple - the blind, unquestioning acceptance that those in positions of authority know best...

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Walking away from a healthy planet

i guess it all depends on what you mean by "health..." to bushco, health is the ability to continue to make money through whatever means while denying the very existence of any downside consequences... the earth is ours to exploit and if environmental conditions become untenable, the rich will still be able to maintain their quality of life by artificial means...
The walkout, by Harlan L. Watson, the chief American negotiator here, came Friday, shortly after midnight, on what was to have been the last day of the talks, during which the administration has been repeatedly assailed by the leaders of other wealthy industrialized nations for refusing to negotiate to advance the goals of that treaty, and in which former President Bill Clinton chided both sides for lack of flexibility.

At a closed session of about 50 delegates, Dr. Watson objected to the proposed title of a statement calling for long-term international cooperation to carry out the 1992 climate treaty, participants said. He then got up from the table and departed.

Environmentalists here called his actions the capstone of two weeks of American efforts to prevent any fresh initiatives from being discussed. "This shows just how willing the U.S. administration is to walk away from a healthy planet and its responsibilities to its own people," said Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate change project at the World Wildlife Fund.

In the end, though, some adjustments of wording - including a shift from "mechanisms" to the softer word "opportunities" in one statement - ended the dispute.

perish the thought of any obstacles whatsoever getting in the way of untrammelled exploitation of natural resources and mindless production of more "stuff..."

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Lieberman hearts Bush despite the fact "that man is BUCK NEKKID..."

honestly, to me, it matters not whose "side" he's on, he's simply wrong... he has a pattern of being wrong, he's been repeatedly rejected as being wrong and he's now simply confirming - yet again - that he's wrong...
Mr. Lieberman particularly infuriated his colleagues when he pointed out at a conference . . . that President Bush would be commander in chief for three more years and said that "it's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that."

"We undermine the president's credibility at our nation's peril," Mr. Lieberman said. "Some Democrats said I was being a traitor," [Senator Joseph Lieberman] said in an interview on Friday, adding that he was not surprised by the reaction, "given the depth of feeling about the war."

Although some Democrats are upset with Mr. Lieberman, Republicans are embracing him, with President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld singling him out, and his support for the war, for praise in speeches this week.

joe, joe, joe... it's not WE who have undermined the president's credibility... far, far from it... the president has done a wonderful job of that himself... what you seem to be railing against is anyone having the temerity to point out that this particular emperor has no clothes... in fact, to quote a dear, dear friend of mine, "that man is BUCK NEKKID...!"

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Friday, December 09, 2005

John Bolton vs. Kofi Annan

you knew this was coming from the day walrus-face received his bogus recess appointment...
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan defended his high commissioner for human rights on Thursday after U.S. ambassador John Bolton rebuked her for criticizing the U.S. stance on torture, a U.N. spokesman said.

Annan wants to take up the matter with Bolton as soon as possible, the spokesman said, revealing a rare public expression of displeasure with a U.N. ambassador.

High Commissioner Louise Arbour on Wednesday said the U.S.-led war on terror undermined the global ban on torture, a criticism Bolton called "inappropriate and illegitimate".

great... so now we have a pissing contest between the u.n. secretary general and the u.s. ambassador to the united nations... i'm sure you're RIGHT PROUD of him, george... a wwe, trash-talking diplomat on the global stage is just the ticket for improving the u.s. image...

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No Fujimori for Peru until 2011

he should have stayed in japan...
Peru's ex-President, Alberto Fujimori, cannot hold any public sector job or head a party list until 2011, the electoral tribunal has confirmed.

Mr Fujimori has been in custody in Chile since arriving there from self-imposed exile in Japan last month.

Peru is seeking Mr Fujimori's extradition to face a number of charges, including corruption and organising death squads.

He has denied any wrongdoing, and says the charges are aimed at preventing him from standing for president in April's poll.

Mr Fujimori - who was president between 1990 and 2000 - fled to Japan after his government was embroiled in a corruption scandal.

From Japan he sent a fax renouncing his post. Peru's congress then barred him from holding any public office for 10 years.

Despite the ban, Mr Fujimori vowed to return to Peru and run for the presidency as head of the Si Cumple-Cambio 90-Nueva Mayoria alliance.

The electoral tribunal said the alliance would be allowed to register for the elections again if it withdrew Mr Fujimori's name from its list.

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Even the Saudis think the Iraq invasion is making things worse

The U.S.-led war in Iraq may have accelerated the spread of terrorism around the globe, and reports of U.S. mistreatment of militant suspects are troubling its allies, the new Saudi ambassador to Washington said.

In an interview, Prince Turki al Faisal said even if the United States had not invaded Iraq, global terrorism would have continued. "Going into Iraq may have accentuated or accelerated that process," he said.

are we going to swiftboat the saudi ambassador...?

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Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away

i've been following the guardian's steve bell again... i used to follow him regularly... he gets to be a habit... i think you can see why...

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SOME prisoners the ICRC DOESN'T get to see

are we surprised...?
The US has admitted for the first time that it has not given the Red Cross access to all detainees in its custody.

The state department's top legal adviser, John Bellinger, made the admission but gave no details about where such prisoners were held.

Correspondents say the revelation is likely to increase suspicion that the CIA has been operating secret prisons outside international oversight.

increase suspicion or confirm suspicion...?

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Bush jumps in - again - on the "we don't torture" spin

while i was putting together the previous post, this item was released... the administration is obviously feeling the need to do some fast talking...
President George W. Bush on Thursday offered new assurances that the United States handles terrorism suspects in accordance with international and American law, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said.


After a meeting with Bush in the Oval Office, Schuessel told reporters he was satisfied.

again, saying it doesn't make it so and what's wolfie gonna do, call george a liar to his face...? besides, i'm not sure bush even really knows one way or the other whether torture is happening on his watch or not...

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Rice assures NATO allies: U.S. does not allow torture

so, what are they going to do...? look her in the face and call her a liar...?
European foreign ministers said Thursday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had assured the NATO allies that the United States does not allow torture of terrorist suspects and respects principles of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war.


Rice "addressed the principles that guide United States policy with regards to respect for international law," Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht said.

Rice assured the U.S. allies "that at no time did the United States agree to inhumane acts or torture, that they have always respected the sovereignty of the states concerned and even if terrorists are not covered by the Geneva Conventions, they have still applied the principles governing those Geneva Conventions," de Gucht told Belgian RTBf radio network.

but, let's get real condi... saying it doesn't make it so... let's re-visit for a moment just a few key documents that are part of the torture trail of accountability... first is then-white house chief counsel alberto gonzales' memo to bush affirming bush's decision to waive the geneva conventions with regard to al qaeda/terrorist detainees...

(click on image for readable version)

then there's the justice department memorandum to gonzales containing the opinion that bush's interrogation policies would not be violating the u.n. convention against torture as implemented by sections 2340-2340A of title 18 of the United States Code...

(click on image for readable version)

as these and other high-level authorizations and memorandums of guidance trickled down the chain of command, they led directly to the interrogation techniques detailed by general ricardo sanchez in his memorandum of 14 september 2003 (which he denied writing while under oath in front of the senate armed services committee on 19 may 2004)... (read them in full here...)

the above references, all part of the public record thanks to the aclu and other watchdog organizations (many aclu documents available here), are merely a small sample of the chain of accountability that stretches from the lowest-ranking soldier right to the oval office... this business of saying the u.s. observes geneva, has respect for international law and doesn't use torture techniques is, plain and simple, 100% bullshit...

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Evidence obtained through torture inadmissible in the UK

it seems as though the brits are moving a little faster at taking their country back than the u.s...
Evidence that may have been obtained by torture cannot be used against terror suspects in British courts, the House of Lords ruled today.

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Venezuelan heating oil flows to the Bronx

he may be scoring political points but chavez is also making the u.s. government look like ebenezer scrooge on a bad day...
A green Citgo tanker truck chugged up a hill with a grim view of tenement buildings, elevated subways and treeless sidewalks to deliver Venezuelan heating oil, a "humanitarian" gift from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.


[O]n the second snow day in the Bronx, where scrawled graffiti warns pedestrians of rats, fleas and maggots, it did not escape the notice of tenants that a foreign government stepped in after Congress did not.

"The government should have done it," said Shirley Manuel, 52, a tenants' rights activist, wrapped up tightly in her wheelchair. "This is their country, this is their people -- they should be taking care of their own."

"they should be taking care of their own..." now, THERE's a concept...

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Harold Pinter's scathing view of the United States

an appropriate time to re-cycle steve bell's cartoon from the guardian showing pinter giving the finger to tony and george...


pinter's nobel prize acceptance speech last night was the occasion for a very articulate, verbal thrashing, not undeserved...
[W]hile drama represents "the search for truth," Mr. Pinter said, politics works against truth, surrounding citizens with "a vast tapestry of lies" spun by politicians eager to cling to power.

Mr. Pinter attacked American foreign policy since World War II, saying that while the crimes of the Soviet Union had been well documented, those of the United States had not. "I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road," he said. "Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be, but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self-love."

He returned to the theme of language as an obscurer of reality, saying that American leaders use it to anesthetize the public. "It's a scintillating stratagem," Mr. Pinter said. "Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable."

Accusing the United States of torturing terrorist suspects in Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, Mr. Pinter called the invasion of Iraq - for which he said Britain was also responsible - "a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law." He called for Prime Minister Tony Blair to be tried before an international criminal court.

Mr. Pinter said it was the duty of the writer to hold an image up to scrutiny, and the duty of citizens "to define the real truth of our lives and our societies."

"If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision, we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us - the dignity of man," he said.

"a vast tapestry of lies..." works for me...

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Bush's approval up, disapproval down

(the latest NY Times/CBS News Poll...)

oh, dear, if they think the strategy is working, i suppose we're in for more iraq/economy speech re-runs... at this point, i think most of us have them pretty well committed to memory...

  • 52 percent of poll respondents saying the Bush administration intentionally misled the public when its officials made the case for war.
  • A majority of Americans want the United States to set some timetable for troop withdrawal.
  • 32 percent want the number of American troops reduced, and 28 percent want a total pullout.
  • Mr. Bush's approval rating [is] at 40 percent, up from 35 percent a month ago.
  • [Bush has] an approval rating of 79 percent among Republicans, 12 percent among Democrats and 34 percent among independents.
  • 53 percent of Americans disapprove of Mr. Bush's job performance, down from 57 percent a month ago.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Airline passenger shot dead in Miami

shoot to kill...
A passenger who claimed to have a bomb on board an American Airlines plane in Miami was shot dead by a US federal officer, government officials say.

The 44-year-old US citizen was shot by an air marshal when reaching into his bag after leaving the plane. Reports say no device has yet been found.

Flight 924 had just arrived from Colombia, and was headed to Orlando.

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Calif. R's not happy with Ah-nold, touting Mel Gibson

how utterly and unbelievably disingenuous of newsmax NOT to mention that ah-nold's appointment also happens to be gay...
California Republicans are in open revolt against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over his hiring of a Democratic operative as his new chief of staff.

And one leading state GOP official is touting actor Mel Gibson as a possible Republican primary challenger to Schwarzenegger.

Officials with the California Republican Party are said to be furious with Schwarzenegger and have demanded a private meeting with the governor to complain about his appointment of Susan P. Kennedy, who was a Cabinet secretary during the administration of Gov. Gray Davis.

these people make me ill...

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The BG's Derrick Z. Jackson: Bush and Psalm 115

the op-ed piece is entitled, "invisible integrity..." it's not a pleasant read...
What America did not know at the time or chose not to believe was which part of the Bible Bush would emphasize. It must have been Psalm 115. That passage says, ''They have mouths, but they cannot speak; eyes have they, but they cannot see. They have ears, but they cannot hear; noses, but they cannot smell. They have hands, but they cannot feel; feet but they cannot walk; They make no sound with their throat."

That would certainly explain prisoners held without charge for years, ghost detainees, CIA secret prisons, the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, and beatings and dog attacks in immigration detention centers on our soil. This week, National Public Radio broadcast a gut-wrenching feature on Richard Rust, an immigrant detainee who died last year at the federal prison in Oakdale, La. According to witnesses, Rust collapsed but did not receive medical attention for 20 minutes. The ambulance did not arrive for another 20 minutes.

Besides the death, which prisoner rights advocates say could constitute ''deliberate indifference" and thus cruel and unusual punishment, current and former detainees talked about daily dehumanization such as being called boy and being told to go back where they came from. They said that the day after Rust's death, guards swept up friends of Rust and put them in windowless punishment cells for up to three months. They said they were intimidated by staff not to talk about Rust.

It all adds up to why the members of the 9/11 Commission this week gave the Bush administration an F for coalition detention standards, saying, ''The US has not engaged in a common coalition approach to developing standards for detention and prosecution of captured terrorists. Indeed, US treatment of detainees has elicited broad criticism and makes it harder to build the necessary alliances to cooperate effectively with partners in a global war on terror." It was one of 17 F's or D's the bipartisan commissioners gave the administration for its responses to 9/11. It awarded no A's and just one A-minus -- for shutting down funding of terrorist networks.

when are we going to be rid of this administration...? 2008 is entirely too far away...

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Democrats not walking in lockstep, OH MY!

Commenting on profmarcus' post below. True to form, the authors had to get Dean's Iowa scream into the article by the third paragraph. Must not let anyone think that he is anything but a madman!

Not only did she back a position that polls show most Americans do not support,

Uh, excuse me? The polls show just the opposite.
. . .a top strategist to House Democrats, who requested anonymity to speak freely about influential party leaders.

Oh lord. I hear from people like this all the time. Ready, willing and able to to tell me just what I and the rest of the Democratic Party are doing wrong, but unwilling to do anything but throw stones.

Snippet from the article:
What I want Democrats to be discussing is what the president's policies have led to," Emanuel said. He added that once discussion turns to a formal timeline for troop withdrawals, "the how and when gets buried" and many voters take away only an impression that Democrats favor retreat.

Well Rahm...time to get to work and explain our position. And no one is saying cut and run. Did you even READ Murtha's resolution?


While the party is divided over the specifics of Iraq policy, most Democratic legislators are slowly coalescing around a political plan, according to lawmakers and party operatives. This would involve setting a broad time frame for drawing down U.S. troops, starting with National Guard and reserve units, internationalizing the reconstruction effort, and blaming Bush for misleading the country into a war without a victory plan.

The aim is to provide the party enough maneuvering room to allow Democrats to adjust their position as conditions in Iraq change -- and fix public attention mostly on Bush's policies rather the details of a Democratic alternative. A new Time magazine poll found 60 percent of those surveyed disapproved of Bush's handling of Iraq.

Okay...this sounds like the Democrats actually are doing something. Of course, this is buried in the article, you know, the fact that Democrats ARE working together to come up with a workable plan. Uh uh, oh no, that doesn't fit the meme that "Democrats are in disarray...and they are a bunch of hopeless losers."

This quote should have been in paragraph two, not the last one in the article.
Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Tex.), who represents a district Bush won easily in 2004, said he disagrees with Pelosi and Dean but does not see that as a problem. "The national press is playing up the fact that Democrats do not speak with one voice on Iraq," he said. "We should wear it as a badge of honor because it shows we are not playing a political line with war and peace."

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Bushco credibility plummets over torture and secret prisons

in two news articles and one editorial, the nyt today looks at the rapid erosion of the precious little that's left of the bush administration's credibility...

condoleezza rice long ago forfeited any right to exasperation over being questioned, particularly exasperation borne of the arrogance and dishonesty of an administration that refuses to answer any of them with anything resembling the truth...

Rice was pelted with questions on Tuesday about covert prisons and a mistaken, secret arrest, as she grappled with what has become an incendiary issue in Europe. She declined to answer most of them in two European capitals.

Even though aides to Ms. Rice said they realized that the secret-prison issue would dominate a good part of her trip, at times she has shown exasperation over the debate.

at least the press has roused itself from its slumber enough to even ASK the questions they should have been asking all along... and, thank goodness, despite condi's stonewalling, the facts are no longer being swept aside... a lot of folks simply are no longer buying what she's selling...
[I]t would be hard to imagine a more sudden and thorough tarnishing of the Bush administration's credibility than the one taking place here [Berlin] right now.


In Britain, members of Parliament from both parties reacted with even greater skepticism to Ms. Rice's statement, saying it had neither answered their questions nor allayed their concerns about American policy.

in the u.s., folks aren't buying it either...
It was a sad enough measure of how badly the Bush administration has damaged its moral standing that the secretary of state had to deny that the president condones torture before she could visit some of the most reliable American allies in Europe. It was even worse that she had a hard time sounding credible when she did it.

Of course, it would have helped if Condoleezza Rice was actually in a position to convince the world that the United States has not, does not and will not torture prisoners. But there's just too much evidence that this has happened at the hands of American interrogators or their proxies in other countries.

it only stands to reason that "she had a hard time sounding credible..." it's really hard to sound credible when you're not telling the truth...

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"Happy 'Holiday' Season" - George and Laura Bush

the 'quotes' on 'holiday' are mine...

yeah, yeah... i said yesterday that if i saw one more post about the "war on christmas" i was going to be physically sick and here i go, posting another one myself... sorry, but i read this and just sat there shaking my head over the absolute inanity, to say nothing of the wasted energy, of this phony campaign stirred up by fox, o'reilly and gibson...

This month, as in every December since he took office, President Bush sent out cards with a generic end-of-the-year message, wishing 1.4 million of his close friends and supporters a happy "holiday season."


Bush "claims to be a born-again, evangelical Christian. But he sure doesn't act like one," said Joseph Farah, editor of the conservative Web site "I threw out my White House card as soon as I got it."

Religious conservatives are miffed because they have been pressuring stores to advertise Christmas sales rather than "holiday specials" and urging schools to let students out for Christmas vacation rather than for "winter break."

i concluded yesterday's post this way, well worth, imho, a re-run...
listen very, very carefully and then repeat after me - THERE IS NO F'ING WAR ON CHRISTMAS...! got it...? ready...? THERE IS NO F'ING WAR ON CHRISTMAS...!!

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WaPo: front-paging Dem differences - again

why are the dems so afraid of taking a stance against the iraq war... why does the wapo still appear to be insisting that most americans support the war...? why is anything that goes contrary to bushco's illegal war automatically slammed by dem leadership...?
Despite Pelosi's claims that she echoes the views of most members in her caucus, plenty of Democrats are cringing at her new high profile on an Iraq withdrawal. Not only did she back a position that polls show most Americans do not support, but she also did this when Bush is trying to move off the defensive by accusing Democrats of supporting a de facto surrender.

"We have not blown our chance" of winning back the House but "we have jeopardized it," said a top strategist to House Democrats, who requested anonymity to speak freely about influential party leaders. "It raises questions about whether we are capable of seizing political opportunities or whether we cannot help ourselves and blow it" by playing to the liberal base of the party.

why does the wapo delight in front-paging democratic differences...?

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Despicable David Horowitz needs your help

to expose the intellectual corruption of universities in the u.s...

Thousands of Ward Churchills are indoctrinating students on college campuses from coast to coast! We are going to spread this message by placing this advertisement in at least 250 student newspapers across America over the next 60 days. To do this, the Center must raise $131,250, and we need your help in raising this money.

We want to open 2006 by getting students, professors, and administrators' attention: we're watching radicals on campuses and we're going to expose them to the public!

Please help us by making a generous contibution...

note to david horowitz: universities generally have a higher density of people who actually know how to think and use their gray matter than most places out in society as a whole...

if u.s. universities are corrupt, it ain't the way mr. nutcase horowitz thinks... they are veritable bastions of feudal management practices but hardly repositories of left wing radicals trying to make converts out of unsuspecting students... horowitz has found a cause and he thinks he can get people to open up their wallets to let him pursue his twisted ideas... what the hell is the matter with this country...? please tell me...

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The "War on Christmas"

if i read one more post on this subject, i think i will be physically sick... of all the manipulative non-issues that could possibly occupy airwaves, bandwidth and printer's ink at this time in our country's history, this has to rank near the top of the most craven... it's squarely in the mold of terri schiavo and i hope it comes back to bite everyone who had anything whatsoever to do with foisting it on the american people...
The right’s latest campaign to build public support for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito? Convincing you he’s the Christmas candidate.

The right-wing Commitee for Justice yesterday began airing a radio ad in Colorado, Wisconsin, and West Virginia, trying to convince conservatives that he will lead the fight against the so-called “War on Christmas.”

listen very, very carefully and then repeat after me - THERE IS NO F'ING WAR...! got it...? ready...? THERE IS NO F'ING WAR...!!

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Torture: Arthur brings us squarely back into reality

read it...
[W]hat the Bush administration seeks is nothing less than an official government-wide sanction and approval of the use of intentionally inflicted, unbearable, monstrous and inhumane pain on human beings. Civilized people would recoil and strongly oppose such methods if they were suggested as a way to deal with animals and beasts of burden -- yet the United States now wants to officially approve treating people in the same way, or worse. And they forget that, even if we were to put the determinative moral issues aside, every expert on the subject offers the same conclusion: torture does not work. Yet they insist on using it anyway, whenever they decide they need to, using whatever argument of the moment they happen to select as justification. This is the "moral leadership" and the "ideal" we now offer the world -- and the ideal we say justifies the use of military force even against entire countries that do not threaten us.

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War on gays opens on two more fronts [UPDATE]

john over at americablog has been very busy the past few days nailing ford motor company's butt to the wall for pulling its advertising from gay advocacy groups after bowing to pressure from the extremist american family association (afa)... now, we learn that focus on the family is pulling the same crap with wells fargo...
The conservative Christian group Focus on the Family has closed all its Wells Fargo accounts because the San Francisco bank contributed to a gay rights group that promised to use the funds to "fight ... the anti-gay industry."

A Focus on the Family official would not disclose how much money the organization kept with Wells Fargo, its primary bank, but said the nonprofit group's income was $146 million last year.

looks like all-out war to me...


(wells fargo's response...)
How did Wells Fargo respond? Did they immediately cave to the far-right, as Ford did?

From comes this quote from Chris Hammond, a spokesmen for Wells Fargo, which gives about two million dollars a year to gay and lesbian organizations: “We absolutely made a $50,000 grant to GLAAD, and we're absolutely proud of our support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community."
Wells Fargo has made it clear that it will spend its money, donate to community causes, and advertise as it wishes, not as the Bush White House and its rightwing cronies desire.

Wells Fargo: a corporation willing to stand up to bigotry and intolerance. What a difference from Ford, the corporation that now seems to stand somewhere to the right of Antonin Scalia and Attila the Hun.

well, i'll be dipped... how about dropping wells a note thanking them for standing up to the religious fascists at focus on the family...?

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OMG...! Europe's all pissed-off and now Condi's coming...!

quick, quick... we better DO something like REALLY FAST...
Two CIA secret prisons were operating in Eastern Europe until last month when they were shut down following Human Rights Watch reports of their existence in Poland and Romania.

Current and former CIA officers speaking to ABC News on the condition of confidentiality say the United States scrambled to get all the suspects off European soil before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived there today.

The officers say 11 top al Qaeda suspects have now been moved to a new CIA facility in the North African desert.

CIA officials asked ABC News not the name the specific countries where the prisons were located, citing security concerns.

so, if the sources are "current and former CIA officers," one would tend to believe them... ~shakes head, rolls eyes~ u.s. credibility in the world community just dropped another 15 points...

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Rummy: the nutcase Defense Secretary

[W]e now have a certifiable loon in charge of the most powerful military on the face of the earth. Shouldn't someone do something? I mean, if Bush insists on having a nut in this post, at least hire a harmless nut. The world is full of them. He could find less nutty nuts downtown in any major city. Pick one with less dangerous notions than Don has. That way the weekly Pentagon news conferences would continue being ever so entertaining, but fewer people would get killed.

yeah, well, ok... i've already posted the joe lieberman for defense secretary rumor that popped up over the weekend as noted by bob schieffer on face the nation when john kerry practically endorsed him... then kerry goes yesterday, yet again, and calls for rumsfeld to be replaced... does he NEED to be replaced...? oh, yeah, definitely... BUT... with the same criminal gang occupying the white house will it really make any difference who's sitting in that chair...?

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Argentina's inflation will end the year in double digits

The cost of living rose 1.2 percent in November, bringing accumulated inflation so far this year to 11.1 percent, the INDEC census bureau reported yesterday.


Food prices rose an average of 2.1 percent, pushed by a 4.5-percent rise in meat prices, a 2.8-percent hike in fruit prices and a 1.5-percent increase in dairy products and eggs.

Rising food prices pushed up the cost of the basic food basket by 3.3 percent to 385.77 pesos, the sum required by a family of four to be above the indigence line.

hardly good news... i've certainly noticed increasing prices on just about everything, particularly apparent when coming back after being gone for a few months... given the still high rate of unemployment and the number of folks still at the poverty or extreme poverty level, this is only making life that much harder...

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Opinions Of A 21st Century Kashmiri Nomad

take time to visit this week's featured blog, Opinions Of A 21st Century Kashmiri Nomad... the author, a muslim, offers some valuable insights and asks some interesting and pointed questions... example...
Why O why do people always look at me in a strange way? I think it maybe the fact that I have a rather long beard but is that any excuse? Is it because I have three eyes or three heads, most certainly not! Then how can a beard be so threatening to a ordinary member of the public? I do not approach people in a threatening manner but rather in a way that is quite endearing but still to no avail! They view me as the embodiment of all evil, is that fair ?

a good question, don't you think...? perhaps some of our more testosterone-fueled brethren of the "right" persuasion might care to comment...

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Not good news for Tommy-boy DeLay

A judge dismissed a conspiracy charge Monday against Rep. Tom DeLay but refused to throw out the far more serious allegations of money-laundering, dashing the congressman's hopes for now of reclaiming his post as House majority leader.

awwww, tommy... and you were all ready to step back into your power shoes, give the finger to god and the rest of creation and pick right up where you left off... instead, you've still got a hot poker up your butt placed there by your very own texas judicial system... it just doesn't get any better than this...

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Among Bush's failures: failure to protect the homeland

gee, it was only back in september that the 9/11 commission issued its first shitty report card on the bush administration's lousy progress on the commission's recommendations for homeland security, emergency preparedness and response... in my post of 17 september, i reported on 4 "unsatisfactory" and 7 "minimal progress" grades... of those 11 items, 5 were completely the responsibility of the executive branch... all 11, of course, fall into the category of "capable of being influenced by effective executive leadership" - assuming we had any... what would you say if one of your kids brought home a report card like this...?

this is what the report card looked like...


so, now it's december and it looks like nothing is changing... guess it's time to start restricting george's tv-watching, enforcing curfew, reducing allowance, taking back the keys to the car and, oh, btw, NO BIKING...!
Meeting for the last time since being appointed by Congress in 2002, commission members gave the government "more F's than A's" among the 41 grades measuring progress on security recommendations they issued last year.

"We're frustrated, all of us — frustrated at the lack of urgency in addressing these various problems," said former commission chairman Thomas Kean, a Republican and former New Jersey governor.

Specifically, the panel gave the government an "F" on homeland security spending for cities most at risk, on improving radio communication for emergency agencies and on airline passenger prescreening. They awarded only one A — actually an A-minus — for the administration's efforts to curb terrorist financing.

to say this is a disgrace is a serious understatement... for an administration that manipulated the public with fear into putting them in office for a second term and boasting about their ability to wage the war on terror, how can they look themselves in the mirror in the morning...?

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Whatever information you're getting on Iraq...? Forget it...!

think progress makes some points about today's rumsfeld speech...
In a speech today, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld offered some pointers on how to assess the situation in Iraq.

Don’t pay attention to terrorist attacks:
“To be responsible, one needs to stop defining success in Iraq as the absence of terrorist attacks,” Rumsfeld said in remarks at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Don’t pay attention to U.S. fatalities:
Pressure on the administration over the war has grown as the number of U.S. military deaths has surpassed 2,100. Rumsfeld said a focus on that number would be as misleading as concentrating on the large numbers of deaths at battles like Iwo Jima during World War II, without acknowledging the victories eventually achieved.

Don’t pay attention to the media:
Rumsfeld also delivered a broadside against the media, saying that in the present era of the 24-hour new cycle, events in Iraq may be reported too quickly and without context, and at times with little substantiation.

The only thing to pay attention to, it seems, is whatever Rumsfeld tells you.

rumsfeld, like so many others in the bush administration, appears to be occupying an alternate universe... yet ANOTHER instance of "who're ya gonna believe, me or your lying eyes...?" puh-leeeeze... this crap is getting SO OLD...

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"Rendition is a vital tool in combating transnational terrorism"

condi is speaking live on cnni prior to her departure for europe to tell 'em to back off their outrage about u.s. torture, rendition, and secret prisons...
"Renditions save lives. [...] The United States has respected and will continue to respect the sovereignty of other countries. [...] The United States does not and will not use the airports of any countries to transport prisoners to other countries for the purpose of interrogation using torture methods. [...] The United States government does not authorize or condone the use of torture."

blah, blah, blah... it's one more instance of "who are you going to believe...? me or your lying eyes...?"

ok... ready for the BIG CAVEAT...?

But in remarks delivered as she got ready to leave on a trip to Europe, she steadfastly refused to answer the underlying question of whether the United States had CIA-operated secret prisons there.

"We cannot discuss information that would compromise the success of intelligence, law enforcement, and military operations. We expect other nations share this view," Rice said in a statement at suburban Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

~scratches chin~ oh... well, then...

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Holidays coming...? Pump prices rise... Of course...

i've watched for many, many years (too many, in fact) as gasoline prices increased just before the holidays - christmas, the fourth of july, memorial day, whatever...
With winter weather settling in, oil appeared set to move back over $60 a barrel — with a corresponding rise in natural gas, the other main fuel of choice.

something just occurred to me... maybe the oil companies, since most of them are vertically integrated (exploration to well-head to transportation to refinery to pipeline to your local gas/convenience store), have decided that it's a better strategy to just raise the price of a barrel of oil... that gives them the (nearly transparent) fig leaf of blaming a price rise in crude rather than gouging by retailers... it also not only produces additional revenue in gasoline but also heating oil, natural gas, and all other petroleum products as well as commensurate revenue gains around the world, not just in the u.s... is that possible...? (what am i saying...? of COURSE, it's possible...)

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The majority party of the moment may not use its powers to strip citizens of their rights

the nyt "seems" to be suggesting that it has only recently come to this realization...
[T]he Bush administration seems to be losing sight of the fact that the rules . . . say the majority party of the moment may not use its powers to strip citizens of their rights, politicize the judicial system or rig the election process to keep itself in office.

there's no "seems" about it... bush has been fully engaged in this agenda since well before he took his first-term presidential oath... when you carefully follow the karl rove/george bush spoor, the trail extends back nearly 30 years, paralleled by and frequently intersecting with the trails of christian fundamentalists and neo-conservatives bent on reconstructing the u.s. to conform to their respective ideologies...
Mr. Bush and his team don't understand that they merely hold the current majority in a system designed to bring periodic changes in the governing party and to protect the rights and values of the minority party. The idea that the winners should trash the system to make sure the democratic process ended with them was discredited back around the time of the Bolsheviks.

protecting the "rights and values of the minority party" is the least of it... imho, the minority party is every bit as culpable for the mess we're in as the criminals currently in power... it's the "rights and values" of the american people that are under assault...

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Lieberman as Defense Secretary?

what a positively nauseating thought... and the toadying bastard would probably accept it if offered... that would probably also put hillary in line for something, i would think... oh, wait... she just decided the other day that maybe she wouldn't support the war any more... tough luck, hillary... you coulda been a contendah...

(bob schieffer interviewing john kerry this morning on cbs' face the nation...)
SCHIEFFER: ...because there's a lot of talk. Last night--over this weekend, I had four different people tell me
that the White House is thinking if the secretary of Defense goes over the next year--and a lot of people think
that he will, that the president is thinking of nominating Joe Lieberman to be secretary of Defense. If he did
that, would you support Lieberman?

Sen. KERRY: Of course, I'd support Joe Lieberman. He's a friend and he's a very capable guy.

of COURSE you'd support joe lieberman... of COURSE you would... loser...

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F*** you, John McCain

on the basis of this quote alone, mccain has lost any credibility he might have had with me... for someone who survived a pow camp in vietnam, he has to have a screw loose to say something like this... f*** you, john mccain...
Appearing on Meet the Press, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) argued that Rep. John Murtha is advocating redeployment of U.S. forces – not because he believes it is in the best interest of the country – but because he has become overly emotional:

MCCAIN: I think he has become too emotional and understandably so. He goes to funerals. He goes, as many of us do, out to Walter Reed, and he sees the price of war. And I think that that has had some effect on him…

so, emotions are what, for weenies...? thank god for an elected representative of this country who bothers to attend the funerals of our troops and to visit the wounded and very likely permanently psychologically and physically disabled at the hospital... why can't we have more like him...

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Stephen Hadley says nothing

one, two, three strikes you're out at the old ball game...

(thanks to think progress...)
Fox News Sunday Host Chris Wallace gave National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley three opportunities to admit Cheney made a mistake when he said the Iraqi insurgency was in its “last throes” last May.

Opportunity 1:

WALLACE: Last May, Vice President Cheney said the following, and let’s put it up on the screen if we can, I think the level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline. I think they’re in their last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.

Since then, 462 American troops have died. The insurgency back in May was not in its last throes, was it?

HADLEY: One of the things the president did in his speech on Wednesday was to try and be clear about who is the enemy, who we’re up against, and he categorized it really in three ways…

Opportunity 2:

WALLACE: But, Mr. Hadley, with respect, I don’t think you answered my question. Was the vice president mistaken last May when he talked about an insurgency in its last throes, given the fact that almost 500 American troops have been killed since then?

HADLEY: The violence is continuing, as I said in my answer to the prior question. We have made clear we thought the violence was probably going to go up in this period.

Opportunity 3:

WALLACE: But doesn’t that undercut the credibility of the administration, first of all, when the vice president talks about last throes, last May, and clearly it turns out it was wrong? And, with respect, there’s an unwillingness for you to admit it was a mistake then. A lot of people say that this administration, even when it’s clearly mistaken, is never willing to say it was wrong…Was he wrong when he said that?

the entire purpose of sending out these so-called sao's is to give the appearance of being an open and communicative administration without communicating anything... we're all expected to sit there and say, "oooo, it's stephen HADLEY, the national security advisor to the PRESIDENT...! ooooo..." he's articulate, he uses big words, he's polished, he's perfectly groomed, he's got a power tie on... how can this person possibly be anything other than totally professional and honest... but, if you listen closely (which most people don't) and try to figure out what he's REALLY saying (which most people either won't or can't), you find out that he's saying absolutely, positively NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH, ZIPPO... you can fool all of the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool ALL of the people ALL of the time... you should have stayed home, hadley, had a late breakfast and read the paper... you might have learned something...

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Bush = gazillions of $$$$$$$$$ spent

The minute you walked in the joint,
I could see you were a man of distinction,
A real big spender,
Good looking, so refined.
Say, wouldn't you like to know
What's going on in my mind?

So, let me get right to the point,
I don't pop my cork for ev'ry guy I see.
Hey, big spender, spend...
A little time!

Big Spender, music and lyrics by Bob Fosse

newsmax, the right-wing "news" site, takes aim at george's profligate and historically record-breaking spending...
George Bush is the biggest-spending president of the past 40 years, surpassing even Lyndon Johnson and his "Great Society" spending spree, a new report by the Cato Institute reveals.

The increase in discretionary spending - that is, all nonentitlement programs - in Bush's first term was 48.5 percent. That's higher than LBJ's 48.3 percent, and more than twice as large as the increase during Bill Clinton's entire two terms, 21.6 percent.

When spending is adjusted for inflation and length of time in office, Bush has an annualized real growth in spending of 8 percent, compared to Johnson's 4.6 percent. In contrast, Ronald Reagan's real growth was just 1.9 percent.

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Drinking and driving in New Mexico

it's a bad scene all over the state but particularly up north...
New Mexico's high rate of drunken driving spurred legislative measures that cut the death toll, but fatalities are again on the rise.

the county where i lived in nm, rio arriba, had the highest dui AND the highest auto insurance rates in the nation... also when i was there, they still had drive-thru liquor stores... in espanola, on friday and saturday nights, cars were lined up for the drive-thru 10 deep... it always amazed me... you could be so blotto that you couldn't walk but no matter... you didn't even have to get out of the car and they'd shove more booze right through the driver's-side window... the cops started doing routine roadblocks on fri and sat nights, checking every car that came through but there were ways around them that everybody knew...

driving back up to el rito one night, we came upon a roll-over just off the side of a dangerous curve... since it was a desolate empty stretch, we stopped to see what was what just as a guy came crawling out of an open window of this upside-down vehicle... we asked him if he was hurt and if we could do anything... he just looked at us, shook his head no, and began to weave down the highway - to home, one would assume...

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No CIA accountability in extraordinary rendition "mistakes"

another disturbing perspective on extraordinary rendition (see previous post)...

it seems as though accountability is the rarest of commodities in this administration...

The CIA, working with other intelligence agencies, has captured an estimated 3,000 people, including several key leaders of al Qaeda, in its campaign to dismantle terrorist networks. It is impossible to know, however, how many mistakes the CIA and its foreign partners have made.

Unlike the military's prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- where 180 prisoners have been freed after a review of their cases -- there is no tribunal or judge to check the evidence against those picked up by the CIA. The same bureaucracy that decides to capture and transfer a suspect for interrogation-- a process called "rendition" -- is also responsible for policing itself for errors.

The CIA inspector general is investigating a growing number of what it calls "erroneous renditions," according to several former and current intelligence officials.

One official said about three dozen names fall in that category; others believe it is fewer. The list includes several people whose identities were offered by al Qaeda figures during CIA interrogations, officials said. One turned out to be an innocent college professor who had given the al Qaeda member a bad grade, one official said.

so now we have condi heading to europe to essentially tell them that, whatever concerns european nations may have about the u.s. using their sovereign territories for illegal u.s. activities, they should just look the other way... i'm sure germany will be oh-so-willing to go along after they read this...
In May 2004, the White House dispatched the U.S. ambassador in Germany to pay an unusual visit to that country's interior minister. Ambassador Daniel R. Coats carried instructions from the State Department transmitted via the CIA's Berlin station because they were too sensitive and highly classified for regular diplomatic channels, according to several people with knowledge of the conversation.

Coats informed the German minister that the CIA had wrongfully imprisoned one of its citizens, Khaled Masri, for five months, and would soon release him, the sources said. There was also a request: that the German government not disclose what it had been told even if Masri went public. The U.S. officials feared exposure of a covert action program designed to capture terrorism suspects abroad and transfer them among countries, and possible legal challenges to the CIA from Masri and others with similar allegations.

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