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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 01/08/2006 - 01/15/2006
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The UK: "the most spied-on citizens on earth" now includes Members of Parliament

is it somehow comforting to know that citizens in the uk may actually be more spied-on than citizens in the u.s...? does knowing that tony blair is just as zealous in his intelligence-gathering activities as george bush ease my mind...? do i think that the uk is as committed as the u.s. in taking strong steps to protect its citizens...?
Tony Blair is preparing to scrap a 40-year ban on tapping MPs' telephones, despite fierce Cabinet opposition, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

He is expected to formally announce to the Commons within weeks that MPs can no longer be sure that the security services and others will not intercept their communications.

Until now, successive administrations have pledged that there should be no tapping "whatsoever" of MPs' phones, and that they would be told if it was necessary to breach the ban.

But that convention - known as the Wilson Doctrine, after Harold Wilson, the prime minister who introduced it - is to be abandoned in an expansion of MI5 powers following the London bombings.

MPs should be treated in the same way as other citizens and will be given the same safeguards against wrongful tapping, the Prime Minister will say.


There has been a marked expansion of surveillance in Britain since 1997. New technology and new laws mean that Britons are among the most spied-on citizens on earth.

in a word... no... and i'm sure the one uses the other to justify his criminality... we're in deep shit in this world, ya know... very deep...

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Hey...! It's an election year...! Time for another war...?

sure, why not... the war without end - the war on terror - isn't doing much for george's poll numbers and certainly iraq isn't helping him out... let's start banging the same drums we heard prior to shock and awe and see if we can't stir up some action...
In his sharpest comments to date on the Iranian nuclear crisis, President Bush warned Friday that Iran is seeking to produce nuclear weapons and intends to use them to destroy Israel.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Washington, D.C. with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Bush warned:

"I want to remind you that the current president of Iran has announced that the destruction of Israel is an important part of their agenda. And that's unacceptable. And the development of a nuclear weapon, it seems like to me, would make them a step closer to achieving that objective."

The president said that Iran's nuclear ambitions pose a threat, not just to the Jewish state, but to the world.

if we let bush and his gang of criminals pull off another one, we deserve everything we get...

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Bush wants the Senate to hurry up and confirm the most dangerous Supreme Court nominee in the history of the U.S.

President Bush urged senators Saturday to quickly approve his choice of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court, even as Democrats said they would try to delay an initial vote despite the apparent momentum toward his confirmation.

"The Senate has a duty to give Judge Alito a prompt up-or-down vote," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "America is fortunate to have a man of his intellect and integrity willing to serve, and as a justice on our nation's highest court, Sam Alito will make all Americans proud."

you bet he does... unfettered executive power is almost within his grasp and the quicker alito can be confirmed, the less the chance that something might crop up to get in the way like maybe this, for instance...
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Friday in the waning minutes of Alito's confirmation hearing that unidentified Democrats will "exercise their rights" to put off next week's scheduled vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Democrats say they won't be ready Tuesday to vote on his nomination since Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has called on party members to hold off making a decision until after a meeting Wednesday.

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Not only DIDN'T we get Ayman al-Zawahri, we've royally pissed off the Pakis

Shah Zaman, who lost his three children, walks
on the rubble of his house, destroyed in an
apparent pre-dawn air strike, Friday, Jan. 13,
2006 in Damadola, about 200 kilometers
(125 miles) northwest of Islamabad, Pakistan.

i was watching cnni last night just before hitting the sack... i had turned it on just for the heck of it and there it was, plastered all over the screen...


a breathless anchorwoman was talking about how a cia airstrike had supposedly nailed al-zawahri... i watched for less than a minute before switching it off, figuring that, this morning, i would probably find out it was yet another chunk of the endless baloney we're being fed and, son-of-a-gun... whaddaya know...

Pakistan on Saturday condemned a purported CIA airstrike on a border village that officials said unsuccessfully targeted al-Qaida's second-in-command, and said it was protesting to the U.S. Embassy over the attack that killed at least 17 people.

and, hard on the heels of my recent discovery that the cia's unmanned predator drones are being piloted by guys (gals?) sitting in la-z-boys somewhere in the nevada desert, i have to ask myself, was the guy/gal piloting the drone sitting up or reclining when the drone fired the missle...? just asking...
Citing unidentified American intelligence officials, U.S. news networks reported that CIA-operated Predator drone aircraft carried out the missile strike because al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, was thought to be at a compound in the village or about to arrive.

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Ashcroft goes for the big bucks with his new calling - former Attorney General for hire

gee, in the previous post, noam chomsky says "There's basically two principles that define the Bush administration policies: stuff the pockets of your rich friends with dollars, and increase your control over the world..." i return from making my rare second cup of coffee (hey, it's the weekend, ok!) to read this...
Less than three months after registering as a lobbyist, former Attorney General John Ashcroft has banked at least $269,000 from just four clients and appears to be developing a practice centered on firms that want to capitalize on a government demand for homeland security technology that boomed under sometimes controversial policies he promoted while in office.

so, not only is he now into the big-time megabucks, he's also breaking new ground...
While Ashcroft’s lobbying is within government rules for former officials, it is nonetheless a departure from the practice of attorneys general for at least the last 30 years. While others have counseled corporate clients or perhaps even lobbied in a specific case as part of law firm business, Ashcroft is the first in recent memory to open a lobbying firm.

(thanks to kos...)

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Noam Chomsky has a few thoughts to share

i'm always glad (i'm not sure "glad" is the appropriate word) to hear from noam chomsky... there are a few - too few - thinkers and commentators that have a knack for making things crystal clear... chomsky is one of them... here's some of his observations taken from an interview by geov parrish and posted on alternet...
  • Yes, [the war in Iraq] increased terror. In fact, it even created something which never existed -- new training ground for terrorists, much more sophisticated than Afghanistan, where they were training professional terrorists to go out to their own countries. So, yeah, that's a way to deal with the War on Terror, namely, increase terror.
  • The fact of the matter is that there is no War on Terror. It's a minor consideration. So invading Iraq and taking control of the world's energy resources was way more important than the threat of terror.
  • We're told that they didn't find weapons of mass destruction. Well, that's not exactly correct. They did find weapons of mass destruction, namely, the ones that had been sent to Saddam by the United States, Britain, and others through the 1980s.
  • When the U.S. invaded, the inspectors were kicked out, and Rumsfeld and Cheney didn't tell their troops to guard the sites. So the sites were left unguarded, and they were systematically looted. [...] It meant that they were taking the high-precision equipment that you can use for nuclear weapons and missiles, dangerous biotoxins, all sorts of stuff. Nobody knows where it went, but, you know, you hate to think about it. Well, that's increasing the threat of terror, substantially.
  • There's basically two principles that define the Bush administration policies: stuff the pockets of your rich friends with dollars, and increase your control over the world. Almost everything follows from that. If you happen to blow up the world, well, you know, it's somebody else's business. Stuff happens, as Rumsfeld said.
  • There is almost no serious discussion, I'm sorry to say, across the spectrum, of the question of [Iraq] withdrawal. The reason for that is that we are under a rigid doctrine in the West, a religious fanaticism, that says we must believe that the United States would have invaded Iraq even if its main product was lettuce and pickles, and the oil resources of the world were in Central Africa.
  • The U.S. invaded Iraq because it has enormous oil resources, mostly untapped, and it's right in the heart of the world's energy system. Which means that if the U.S. manages to control Iraq, it extends enormously its strategic power, what Zbigniew Brzezinski calls its critical leverage over Europe and Asia. Yeah, that's a major reason for controlling the oil resources -- it gives you strategic power.
  • We're not allowed to concede that our leaders have rational imperial interests. We have to assume that they're good-hearted and bumbling. But they're not. They're perfectly sensible. They can understand what anybody else can understand. So the first step in talk about [Iraq] withdrawal is: consider the actual situation, not some dream situation, where Bush is pursuing a vision of democracy or something.
  • So what's the problem [with China]? The problem is that the United States doesn't like the way it's coming out. Well, too bad. Who has ever liked the way it's coming out when you're not winning? China isn't any kind of threat. We can make it a threat. If you increase the military threats against China, then they will respond. And they're already doing it.

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With Alito's confirmation, we might as well kiss the Constitution goodbye

more confirmation, as if we needed it, that, as peter daou so articulately points out, the progressive netroots bloggers are voices crying in the wilderness as the united states enters perhaps the most critical and dangerous period in its history...
This, then, is the reality: progressive bloggers and online activists -- positioned on the front lines of a cold civil war -- face a thankless and daunting task: battle the Bush administration and its legions of online and offline apologists, battle the so-called “liberal” media and its tireless weaving of pro-GOP narratives, battle the ineffectual Democratic leadership, and battle the demoralization and frustration that comes with a long, steep uphill struggle.


The hellish reality progressive bloggers have acknowledged and internalized is still alien to the party establishment. Dem strategy is still two parts hackneyed sloganeering and one part befuddlement over the stifling of their message.

Maybe the Democratic establishment wants it so, maybe they don't know better, but progressive bloggers and activists are starting to see the bitter reality of their isolation...

i was bemoaning this sad fact only yesterday...
every day i wait, thinking TODAY will be THE DAY... TODAY, people will look around them, read the news and say, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH... but it ain't happening... every day, things get worse and worse, and every day, nothing happens...

do you suppose hope is the thing we all have to lose before things turn a corner...?
[T]he Democrats were incapable of making an issue out of Alito’s embrace of the “unitary executive,” a concept so radical that it effectively eliminates the checks and balances that the Founding Fathers devised to protect against an out-of-control President.

Bush even gave the Democrats a news hook to make the peculiar phrase “unitary executive” a household word. Bush cited his “unitary” powers just days earlier in signaling that he would use his commander-in-chief authority to override the provisions of Sen. John McCain’s anti-torture amendment passed in December 2005.

Though the McCain amendment had been big news – and Bush’s announcement of his personal loophole on torture had been reported in the press – the Democrats still failed to force this troubling concept of an all-powerful President into the mainstream debate.

“Unitary executive” may have been the buzz of the blogs, but it was barely mentioned on the evening news. The notion that Bush and Alito believe the President has the power to abrogate the Bill of Rights, authorize torture and seize control of independent regulatory agencies got much less attention than a few tears shed by Alito’s wife.

meanwhile, alito's nomination appears poised to sail through... i suggest we all download and print copies of the u.s. constitution... it might be nice to have one handy for a keepsake if nothing else...

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Friday, January 13, 2006

More on Gore's upcoming "Constitutional Crisis" speech

i posted on this yesterday but it's sounding more and more like al gore is preparing the speech of a lifetime...
It sounds as if Al Gore is about to deliver what could be not just one of the more significant speeches of his political career but an essential challenge to the embattled presidency of George W. Bush.

In a major address slated for delivery Monday in Washington, the former Vice President is expected to argue that the Bush administration has created a "Constitutional crisis" by acting without the authorization of the Congress and the courts to spy on Americans and otherwise abuse basic liberties.

Aides who are familiar with the preparations for the address say that Gore will frame his remarks in Constitutional language. The Democrat who beat Bush by more than 500,000 votes in the 2000 presidential election has agreed to deliver his remarks in a symbolically powerful location: the historic Constitution Hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution. But this will not be the sort of cautious, bureacratic speech for which Gore was frequently criticized during his years in the Senate and the White House.

Indeed, his aides and allies are framing it as a "call to arms" in defense of the Bill of Rights and the rule of law in a time of executive excess.

i'm all for all kicking butt but, i also have to say, i think we may very well be past the time for speeches... something has to be DONE...

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You'd think they'd get tired of smearing decent people but I guess we all knew they'd take a shot at Murtha...

from rep. john murtha writing in the huffington post this afternoon...
This afternoon, published an article entitled "Murtha's War Hero Status Called Into Question" on its website. The article questions the validity of my purple hearts. This is my response:

"Questions about my record are clearly an attempt to distract attention from the real issue, which is that our brave men and women in uniform are dying and being injured every day in the middle of a civil war that can be resolved only by the Iraqis themselves."

"I volunteered for a year's duty in Vietnam. I was out in the field almost every single day. We took heavy casualties in my regiment the year that I was there. In my fitness reports, I was rated No. 1. My record is clear."

i'm sorry but these people are pathetic and disgusting... leave the man the hell alone... he's more than distinguished himself over 16 terms in congress and 38 years of combined active duty and reserve military service... this kind of attack demonstrates nothing but meanness of spirit...
A Cybercast News Service investigation . . . reveals that one of Murtha's former Democratic congressional colleagues and a fellow decorated Vietnam veteran, Don Bailey of Pennsylvania, alleges that Murtha admitted during an emotional conversation on the floor of the U.S. House in the early 1980s that he did not deserve his Purple Hearts.


"Pretending to be a big war hero and boasting about having medals is a slap in the face to our veterans who were seriously wounded or killed in action," [World War II Navy veteran Harry M.] Fox was quoted as telling the Uniontown Herald-Standard in the newspaper's Nov. 1, 1996 edition. "He campaigned as a war hero and I've never seen any documentation that he earned any of these honors," Fox reportedly stated.

and what the hell, you may ask, is
The Cybercast News Service was launched on June 16, 1998 as a news source for individuals, news organizations and broadcasters who put a higher premium on balance than spin and seek news that’s ignored or under-reported as a result of media bias by omission.

Study after study by the Media Research Center, the parent organization of, clearly demonstrate a liberal bias in many news outlets – bias by commission and bias by omission – that results in a frequent double-standard in editorial decisions on what constitutes "news."

In response to these shortcomings, MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell III founded in an effort to provide an alternative news source that would cover stories that are subject to the bias of omission and report on other news subject to bias by commission.

and who the shit, you might ask, is l. brent bozell...? among other things...
Mr. Bozell is Executive Director of the Conservative Victory Committee (CVC), an independent multi-candidate political action committee that has helped elect dozens of conservative candidates over the past ten years. He was National Finance Chairman for the 1992 Buchanan for President campaign, and Finance Director and later President of the former National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC). He currently belongs to the Council for National Policy (CNP).

i guess my only response to this besides nausea and disgust is that it's too bad a congressman of the caliber of john murtha feels it necessary to even dignify this trash with a response...

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Evidently, there's nothing the American people won't put up with

glenn greenwald voices my darkest thoughts...
There is a widespread, tacit assumption that no matter how apathetic and inattentive Americans become, there is still some line which they will not allow the Government to cross when it comes to exceeding or abusing the limits of government power. That assumption has taken a huge beating over the last four years, and is now in serious doubt.

Americans have sat by more or less passively by while this Administration detained American citizens and threw them into a military prison without charges being brought, without a trial, and without even allowing them access to a lawyer. Many are basically indifferent to revelations that the Bush Administration is eavesdropping on American citizens in secret and with no oversight of any kind. And worst of all, a sizable portion of the population is acquiescing to the fact that we have a President who was just discovered breaking the law, and rather than expressing shame or remorse once he was caught, has vowed to continue doing it based on the theory that he has the right to violate the law and that it's for our own good.

every day i wait, thinking TODAY will be THE DAY... TODAY, people will look around them, read the news and say, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH... but it ain't happening... every day, things get worse and worse, and every day, nothing happens...

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Guantanamo: "... a necessary part of protecting the American people."

all i can think of by way of comment is crudity and profanity... let's just leave it at that...
President Bush rejected on Friday a suggestion by Germany's new chancellor that the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, be shut down.

The camp on the U.S. Navy base there is "a necessary part of protecting the American people," Bush said after meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House.

In a joint news conference, Merkel said she raised the issue with Bush, and she described it as one of the differences between the United States and Germany.

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OMG...! Identical twin assholes - separated at birth...!

if i hadn't seen it with my own eyes, i wouldn't have believed it...

On the January 10 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh asked the women in his audience: "How many of you in the secrecy and privacy of your own dreams and hopes would love to be hired as eye candy?"


Later in the broadcast, Limbaugh returned to the subject when he said:
LIMBAUGH: I'm not talking -- I know how many of you want to be sexually harassed -- that's not what I was asking. But, I mean, I -- if, if, if somebody wants to hire you to look good for whoever is the first to walk in the door every day, why not, if that's your asset?

Media Matters has previously noted that on the April 26, 2004, edition of his radio program, Limbaugh stated that women "actually wish" for sexual harassment.

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Bush administration ≠ fiscally conservative

like 180 degrees in the opposite direction...
Driven by the cost of hurricane relief, the federal budget deficit is expected to balloon back above $400 billion for the fiscal year that ends in September, reversing the improvements of 2005, a White House official told reporters yesterday.

and, guess what...? their b.s. is transparent as hell...
This is the third straight year in which the White House has summoned reporters well ahead of the official budget release to project a higher-than-anticipated deficit. In the past two years, when final deficit figures have come in at record or near-record levels, White House officials have boasted that they had made progress, since the final numbers were below estimates.

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Look out...! Here it comes...! (And Latin America is leading the way...!)

argentina, bolivia, brazil, chile, ecuador, uruguay and venezuela, countries with 80% of latin america's population, have all voted in governments with a decidedly anti-u.s. stance just in the past few years... even more countries - mexico in july, for instance - have elections scheduled... john "confessions of an economic hit man" perkins has some thoughts...
In the past year, a rising tide of people throughout the world has been rebelling against policies they see as unjust. This has occurred in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, as well as in the United States, where New York transit workers fought to defend their economic well-being. As one transit worker told me, "We're sick of being told that our families must sacrifice while huge corporations and their executives receive tax breaks."

This rebellion is facilitated by the internet, cell phones and satellite dishes. People in places once considered remote are increasingly aware of statistics such as these:

* Transnational corporations have taken control of much of the production and trade in developing countries: For example, 40 percent of the world's coffee is traded by just four companies; the top 30 supermarket chains control almost one-third of worldwide grocery sales.

* A trade surplus of $1 billion for developing countries in the 1970s turned into an $11 billion deficit by 2001.

* The income ratio of the one-fifth of the world's population in the wealthiest countries to the one-fifth in the poorest went from 30 to 1 in 1960 to 74 to 1 in 1995.

* Of the 100 largest economies in the world, 51 are corporations; of those, 47 are U.S.-based.

* The overall share of federal taxes paid by U.S. corporations is now less than 10 percent, down from 21 percent in 2001 and over 50 percent during World War II; one-third of America's largest and most profitable corporations paid zero taxes -- or actually received credits -- in at least one of the last three years (according to Forbes magazine).

* Back in 1980 the average American chief executive earned 40 times as much as the average manufacturing employee. For the top tier of American CEOs, the ratio is now 475:1 and would be vastly greater if assets, in addition to income, were taken into account. By way of comparison, the ratio in Britain is 24:1, in France 15:1, in Sweden 13:1.

* Pre-Civil War slaves received room and board; wages paid by the sweatshops that today serve many U.S. industries will not cover the most basic needs.

[I]f we want a peaceful and prosperous future for our children, we must recognize basic human needs; we must insist that all people -- not just those at the top -- have the right to justice and dignity. . . . [T]he bottom line of the corporate balance sheet is not the final statement upon which our society will ultimately be graded.

perkins' view is the antithesis of bush administration social darwinism ideology... but we desperately need to find a way to get to the kind of world he suggests, be it over, under, around or through...

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The government collects vast troves of data - ON YOU AND ME

laura donohue spells it out in the la times...
  • tax, education, vehicle, criminal and welfare records
  • travel, medical and insurance records — and DNA tests
  • credit card records, bank account numbers and information on Internet use
  • which charities or political causes you support
  • where you shop, and your supermarket frequent-buyer-card records may indicate whether you keep kosher or follow an Islamic halal diet
  • what, exactly, you read
  • in the 12 months following 9/11, federal agents made at least 545 visits to libraries to obtain information about patrons
  • The FBI has used Patriot Act powers to break into a judge's chambers and to procure records from medical clinics
  • The Patriot Act allows law enforcement officers to get "sneak and peek" warrants to search a home for any suspected crime — and to wait months or even years to tell the owner they were there
she suggests some important questions that deserve answers...
First, what information, exactly, is being collected? Are other programs besides the president's NSA initiative ignoring traditional warrant requirements? Are federal agencies dodging weak privacy laws by outsourcing the job to private contractors?

Second, who has access to the data once it is collected, and what legal restrictions are set on how it can be used or shared?

Third, who authorized data mining, and is its use restricted to identifying terrorists?

Fourth, what is the collective effect of these programs on citizens' rights? Privacy certainly suffers, but as individuals begin to feel inhibited in what they say and do, free speech and freedom of assembly also erode.

Fifth, how do these data collection and mining operations deal with error? As anyone who's tried to dispute an erroneous credit report can attest, once computer networks exchange data, it may be difficult to verify its accuracy or where it entered the system. Citizens who do not know they are under surveillance cannot challenge inaccurate information that may become part of their secret digital dossier.

What will Congress do to ensure that the innocent remain so?

tell me, do you think, in the upcoming congressional investigation, a) are they going to ask these questions, b) if they do ask them, will they get any answers, and c) will it make any difference either way...? my guess...? a) maybe, b) no and c) no...

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Cruisin' the Blogs on a Friday, gettin' ready for the weekend

A few real thought-provokers for you tomorrow...

  • Peter Daou blogging in The Huffington Post on the loneliness of the netroots bloggers and how media and the political establishment are failing to rise to critical opportunities like NSA and Alito
  • Carnacki's diary in Daily Kos gives us something worth shedding serious tears about
  • Glenn Greenwald, writing in Crooks and Liars, talks about dignity, civility and Republicans in the political process
  • Retired Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson spoke yesterday at the Center for National Policy and Patrick Doherty of Tom Paine was there
"Cruisin' the Blogs" is my new, daily blog review radio show airing on WBAT (Buenos Aires Today), an internet radio station in Buenos Aires, Argentina... You can listen Monday through Friday, 11-12 in the morning, Argentina time (9-10 a.m., U.S. eastern time and 2 p.m. UTC)... The program repeats at 10-11 p.m., Argentina time... WBAT is the first english language radio station in Argentina...

Be sure to listen at:

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America is faced with a constitutional crisis...

(thanks to raw story...)

the understatement of the year... at least there's some high-level horsepower commanding some visibility... of course, as we know, it won't make a damn bit of difference...
Former Vice President Al Gore will deliver a scathing speech Monday at Constitution Hall in Washington -- just blocks from the White House -- at which he will declare America is faced with a constitutional crisis.

i never, ever in my life believed things in the united states could come to this...

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Bush administration officials who helped prepare Alito for the hearings

think progress, as it so often does, has the goods...
During this morning’s hearing, Sen. Russ Feingold noted that the same lawyers who created the legal justifications for Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program coached Alito about how to answer questions during the confirmation hearings:
I’m going to say that I am still somewhat troubled by the idea that you were prepared for this hearing by some lawyers who were very much involved in promoting the purported legal justification for the NSA wiretapping program….

I note, for example, that one of the people who participated in these sessions was Benjamin Powell. He recently advised President Bush on intelligence matters and was just given a recess appointment as general counsel to the national intelligence director.

I also see the name of White House Counsel Harriet Miers on the list. And she, obviously, is involved in the president’s position on this matter.

This a serious ethical issue.

uh-h-h-h... ye-a-a-ah... i would say so...

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O'Reilly, the amazing talking asshole, strikes again

hey... just put your mouth in gear... don't bother to engage your brain or in any way monitor what's coming out... as long as the ratings are high and people keep tuning in to join you in your assault on human intelligence, just keep right on blabbing...

(thanks to media matters...)
On the January 9 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said, "[I]f [former Soviet dictator] Joseph Stalin was still alive, he'd be the UNICEF [United Nations Children's Fund] spokesperson." O'Reilly made his comment during a segment in which he and co-host E.D. Hill were discussing a remark UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and singer Harry Belafonte reportedly made on the January 8 television and radio broadcast of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez's weekly show. As a January 8 Associated Press article reported, Belafonte called President Bush "the greatest terrorist in the world":

"No matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush says, we're here to tell you: Not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people ... support your revolution," Belafonte told Chavez during the broadcast.

The next day, UNICEF issued an official statement saying that the comments represented Belafonte's own views "as a private citizen" and not as a member of the organization. It further stated that it did not endorse Belafonte's remarks.

Belafonte met with Chavez in Venezuela as part of a delegation of Americans that included actor and activist Danny Glover and Princeton University professor Cornel West.

i'm not sure i'd call george bush the "greatest" terrorist in the world but he's undoubtedly the most highly-placed...

makeup is amazing stuff, isn't it...?
you could almost swear that was a face
and not an asshole...

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Hard on the heels of Amnesty International's report of more torture, we have this...

oh, ok... the general takes the 5th amendment... ain't it interestin' how the constitution gets used when it happens to be CONVENIENT...?
Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, a central figure in the U.S. detainee-abuse scandal, this week invoked his right not to incriminate himself in court-martial proceedings against two soldiers accused of using dogs to intimidate captives at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, according to lawyers involved in the case.

The move by Miller -- who once supervised the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and helped set up operations at Abu Ghraib -- is the first time the general has given an indication that he might have information that could implicate him in wrongdoing, according to military lawyers.

let's stay very clear here... right from bush's memo waiving the geneva conventions and absolving himself from any responsibility to observe the u.s.-signed u.n. ban on torture and the use of information obtained via torture down through rumsfeld and the interrogation guidelines written by general ricardo sanchez, the entire chain of command is fully accountable... there just ain't no gettin' around it...

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More on United's wholesale screwing of employees

united's management, with the possible exception of former ceo jerry greenwald, has never given a rat's ass for their employees... and, as i posted yesterday, now that they're ready to exit bankruptcy, they're going to reward themselves handsomely for being such great folks as they continue to stick it to the people who are doing the damn work...
Flight attendants at United Airlines are asking a court to reject the carrier's plan to exit bankruptcy protection, citing plans to pay bonuses to 400 members of management. The union representing flight attendants at United on Wednesday also objected to a part of the reorganization plan that allows the airline to void their labor contract once it does emerge from bankruptcy.

The Association of Flight Attendants spotlighted the objection -- initially filed December 12 -- a week before a US bankruptcy court in Chicago is set to begin a hearing that United hopes will confirm the reorganization plan. That would pave the way for the Chicago-based carrier to end its bankruptcy after more than three years.

UAL infuriated its unions during its Chapter 11 case by slashing wages and benefits and terminating pension plans.

"Employees have been forced to sacrifice annually over USD$4 billion in pay, pensions, work rules and health care while executives have richly rewarded themselves," the AFA said in a statement.

The plan calls for management to be allocated 18.75 million shares, or 15 percent of the restructured United.

i would give a great deal to see some of those so-called managers try to handle the work and live on the salary of a flight attendant, baggage handler, cabin cleaner, or customer service agent...

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The case for impeachment - today's NATION cover story

it's way, way past time we got dead serious about getting bush and his criminal gang out of there...
Finally, it has started. People have begun to speak of impeaching President George W. Bush--not in hushed whispers but openly, in newspapers, on the Internet, in ordinary conversations and even in Congress. As a former member of Congress who sat on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, I believe they are right to do so.


The framers of our Constitution feared executive power run amok and provided the remedy of impeachment to protect against it. While impeachment is a last resort, and must never be lightly undertaken (a principle ignored during the proceedings against President Bill Clinton), neither can Congress shirk its responsibility to use that tool to safeguard our democracy. No President can be permitted to commit high crimes and misdemeanors with impunity.

steve clemons comments...
I suspect [this] will become the script for those on the left who will be organizing, protesting, advocating, and clamoring for George W. Bush's impeachment.

The article, "The Impeachment of George W. Bush" has just now been posted, but I have been thinking about her argument for two days, wondering what I could add to the mix or say about this that she has not.

Holtzman has written a powerfully argued piece with which I mostly agree -- but to be honest -- could have been even more powerful if it had embedded more Republican disgust with what Holtzman appropriately terms the "President's systematic abuse of power." Nonetheless, it's an important brief.

While Holtzman was a steadfast liberal in Congress, her writing about the Nixon impeachment in which she participated and voted for as a Member of the House Judiciary Committee, reaches beyond her party affiliation as it's clear that for her, considering "impeachment" of a president is as grave as "declaring war", which she argues is the toughest and most serious call a president can make.

She compares Bush's "high crimes and misdemeanors" to those of Nixon -- and makes a very compelling case.

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Alito, Bush and the "Unitary Executive"

i keep pounding on this... i think the issue of unlimited presidential power presents the worst crisis ever faced by this country and makes samuel alito the most dangerous supreme court nominee in history...
The “unitary executive” applies . . . to the President’s authority to interpret laws as he sees fit, especially in areas of national security where right-wing lawyers argue that the commander-in-chief powers are “plenary,” which means “absolute, unqualified.”

So, when Alito assured the Senate Judiciary Committee that no one, not even the President, is “above the law,” that palliative answer had little meaning since under the “unitary” theory favored by Alito the President effectively is the law.

Since his days as a lawyer in Ronald Reagan’s White House, Alito has pushed this theory. At a Federalist Society symposium in 2001, Alito recalled that when he was in the Office of Legal Counsel in Ronald Reagan’s White House, “we were strong proponents of the theory of the unitary executive, that all federal executive power is vested by the Constitution in the President.”

In 1986, Alito advocated the use of “interpretive signing statements” by presidents to counter the judiciary’s traditional reliance on congressional intent in assessing the meaning of federal law.

Under Bush, “signing statements” have become commonplace and amount to his rejection of legal restrictions especially as they bear on presidential powers.

but robert parry adds an even more disturbing perspective which hadn't yet occurred to me...
Justice Alito, as a longtime advocate of the theory, would put the Court’s right-wing faction on the verge of having a majority committed to embracing this constitutional argument that would strip regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, of their independence.


The Supreme Court's embrace of the “unitary executive” would sound the death knell for independent regulatory agencies as they have existed since the Great Depression, when they were structured with shared control between the Congress and the President. Putting the agencies under the President’s thumb would tip the balance of Washington power to the White House and invite abuses by letting the Executive turn on and off enforcement investigations.

i hadn't yet connected the "unitary executive" issue with the oft-cited aim of the bush administration to roll back the new deal and return the u.s. to a state of unfettered executive and corporate power as it existed pre-depression... there are so many hidden agendas and covert tactics being employed by bushco, it's a full-time job just connecting the dots...

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

United to exit bankruptcy & CEO Tilton to head for the bank

i still have friends, good friends, working at that airline... i have watched over a period of 11 years as customers and employees have repeatedly gotten screwed by the sons-of-bitches who have the unvarnished balls to claim they provide leadership for that woe-begotten carrier... i personally lost a significant sum of money thanks to their mismanagement and greed... i've never been what anyone would consider well off and now i'm much less well off... there are a lot of good, honest, hard-working people associated with united that, year after year, have had to suck up management's shit... i see nothing has changed and i doubt that it ever will...
When United Airlines exits bankruptcy next month, CEO Glenn Tilton will receive stock and options worth $15 million, base pay of $605,625 and a bonus that could double his salary, according to court and internal company documents.

Mr. Tilton would receive 545,000 restricted shares and 822,000 options, about 1.1% of the $1.9 billion in equity United plans to issue. A compensation expert hired by United assumes the airline’s restricted stock would be worth $13.75 per share, and that the options would have a value of $9.12.

United’s proposed incentive plan for senior managers and directors is expected to be a contentious issue as a Chicago bankruptcy court begins hearings into the carrier’s road map for exiting bankruptcy Jan. 18.

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Thursday Cruisin' the Blogs

no line-up yet... still thinkin' on it... i'll have something by airtime... hopefully...!

"Cruisin' the Blogs" is my new, daily blog review radio show airing on WBAT (Buenos Aires Today), an internet radio station in Buenos Aires, Argentina... You can listen Monday through Friday, 11-12 in the morning, Argentina time (9-10 a.m., U.S. eastern time and 2 p.m. UTC)... The program repeats at 10-11 p.m., Argentina time... WBAT is the first english language radio station in Argentina...

Be sure to listen at:

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The Iraq air war that you never hear about

michael schwartz is right... we hear nothing about it...
One of the true scandals of media coverage of the war in Iraq has been the simple fact that you -- relatively small numbers of you anyway -- had to visit, or Juan Cole's invaluable Informed Comment blog, or, or other Internet sites to find out anything about the fierce (if limited) ongoing air war in that country. [...] Our military has regularly loosed its planes in "targeted" attacks on guerrillas in Iraq's heavily populated urban areas (where much of the fighting has taken place), sometimes, as in largely Shiite Najaf and largely Sunni Falluja in 2004, destroying whole sections of major cities, in part from the air. Despite this, American reporters in Iraq have essentially refused to look up, or even to acknowledge the planes, predator drones, and low-flying helicopters passing daily overhead.


As far as I can tell, no American reporters have been assigned to, or written about, the part of the American air campaign that has been mounted from outside Iraq -- from air bases in places like the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, or from aircraft carriers; and hardly more has been written from the United States where our fleet of unmanned but deadly Predator drones are (remotely) controlled.

i must have missed the story last september about remotely controlled predator drones... that's a pretty interesting piece of news and i was moved to go check it out...
The Predator has emerged as one of the most useful weapons in the U.S. military's arsenal. The tiny Unmanned Aerial Vehicle played a role in catching Saddam Hussein, in killing a high-profile al Qaeda suspect in Pakistan this spring, and in trying to find the Navy SEAL team that went missing in Afghanistan this summer. But the pilots who actually fly the Predator are far from the action. They're sprawled in leather armchairs planted in trailers, in the middle of the desert in Nevada.

i am embarrassed to say that this was my first visit to tomdispatch... it won't be my last...

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Amnesty International documents more torture in Afghanistan and Guantanamo

Amnesty International has released accounts alleging new prisoner torture and abuse in Guantanamo Bay and Kandahar, Afghanistan to RAW STORY Tuesday.

it's not pretty... far from it, in fact... however, i'm posting it because it needs broad exposure... the american people need to know what's being done in their name...
Arrest and treatment by Pakistani authorities

The worst tribulation for us was when they transported us from one place to another: they would tie us up in the most savage way, so much so that some of us got gangrenous fingers and our hands and feet swelled and turned blue. They would tie us up for long periods of time in military trucks, sometimes from daybreak until night, in addition to the hours that they spent transporting us in trucks."

US custody in Afghanistan

"When we were all in the plane - there were approximately 30 of us – they closed the plane door which from behind said "designed to carry machinery". After they closed the door, the soldiers started shouting, screaming and insulting us with the most vulgar insults and nasty curses. They started beating us and took pictures of us on a camera; I could see the flash. I had a violent pain in my stomach – I had had an operation on my stomach and there was a piece of metal in it; when I complained about the severity of the pain, a soldier came and started kicking me in my stomach with his military boot until I vomited blood. I do not know how many hours I was in that state as we went from the base in Kohat to Kandahar Airport where there is an American military base."

"During that time, I was moved to the camp clinic because of the terrible state of my health. They would take me for investigations which were mostly held at night; they would beat me severely and tell me to confess that I was a terrorist!! Once, from the excessive and severe beatings, one of my foot shackles broke. Once, they poured boiling hot liquid on my head and the investigator stubbed his cigarette out on my foot. I said to him, "why are you treating me like this?" He then took a cigarette and stubbed it out on my right wrist and said, "in the name of Christ and the Cross I am doing this". Once, they had beaten me so severely that my clothes were ripped and my genitals were exposed. I tried to cover myself up but they started kicking me with their boots."

Transfer to Guantànamo Bay, Cuba

"It was then that my suffering started. If we wanted to go to the outside toilet, a portaloo, the soldiers would take us violently and would look at our genitals; even the female soldiers did that. They would stand outside the door which was open while we relieved ourselves."

Torture and ill-treatment in Guantànamo Bay

"During investigations, I was threatened with rape, attacks on my family in Saudi Arabia, my daughter being kidnapped, and my murder – assassination – by their spies in the Middle East if I went back to Saudi Arabia.

"They went to a detainee and put his head in the toilet. The toilets in Camp Delta are iron, Turkish-style toilets and then they flushed his head down the toilet until he almost died. They went to a detainee and started beating his head against the toilet rim until he lost consciousness and he could not see for more than 10 hours."

"One detainee, called Abdul Aziz Al-Masri, was ill and was asleep in the hospital. These soldiers went and beat him very badly in the hospital in front of the doctors and nurses. His injuries were excessive and caused his spine to break. He is now hemiplegic. They are now trying to operate on him but he is refusing out of fear that they will play with his back and make it worse rather than make it better as their operations often do. These kinds of incidents happen often. They would make sending them to the detainees an excuse for incidents in which we would suffer extensive injuries, severe disfiguration and fractures as there was no one monitoring or following up their actions. Rather, their officers and officials gave them the orders."

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How NOT to spin a headline (at least in the editorial section)

[I]t might be concluded that the Bush administration has committed itself to ending the use of practices falling just short of torture that it has used on foreign detainees since 2002. But it has not. Instead, it is explicitly reserving the right to abuse prisoners, while denying them any opportunity to seek redress in court. Having publicly accepted the ban on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, Mr. Bush is planning to ignore it whenever he chooses.

don't forget, supreme court nominee samuel alito is a proponent of the precise "interpretive signing statement" strategy that lies behind what is described above...

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How the NSA spying is done - Echelon redux

i've posted previously on echelon, here and here... the description of nsa spying activities, provided by tice, the recently-identified nsa whistleblower, fits echelon to a "t..."
Russell Tice, a longtime insider at the National Security Agency, is now a whistleblower the agency would like to keep quiet.


Tice tells ABC News that some of those secret "black world" operations run by the NSA were operated in ways that he believes violated the law.


Tice says the technology exists to track and sort through every domestic and international phone call as they are switched through centers, such as one in New York, and to search for key words or phrases that a terrorist might use.

"If you picked the word 'jihad' out of a conversation," Tice said, "the technology exists that you focus in on that conversation, and you pull it out of the system for processing."

According to Tice, intelligence analysts use the information to develop graphs that resemble spiderwebs linking one suspect's phone number to hundreds or even thousands more.

compare that to this description of echelon...
Echelon is perhaps the most powerful intelligence gathering organization in the world. Several credible reports suggest that this global electronic communications surveillance system presents an extreme threat to the privacy of people all over the world. According to these reports, ECHELON attempts to capture staggering volumes of satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic traffic, including communications to and from North America. This vast quantity of voice and data communications are then processed through sophisticated filtering technologies.

This massive surveillance system apparently operates with little oversight. Moreover, the agencies that purportedly run ECHELON have provided few details as to the legal guidelines for the project. Because of this, there is no way of knowing if ECHELON is being used illegally to spy on private citizens.

the aclu called for an investigation in 2001 and has been strangely silent since...
"It's high time that the government disclose just how far it's gone in the name of national security," said Barry Steinhardt, Associate Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "If, in fact, this system operates as has been reported, the American intelligence community has brashly ignored congressionally mandated privacy protections."


"It appears that the NSA is engaged in a surveillance system of epic proportions," Steinhardt said. "If these reports are true, ECHELON dwarfs the extensive surveillance of Americans already conducted by the FBI and other domestic law enforcement agencies."

echelon pre-dates george bush, bill clinton, bush I and, in fact, extends all the way back to truman... echelon is a joint venture of shared information (pdf file) among the united states, the uk, canada, new zealand and australia... it came out of an effort begun in the late 40's and has been gathering steam ever since, incorporating the latest in signal intelligence technology to monitor communications world-wide...

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How to spin a headline

you can read the whole thing for yourself... it's pretty much substance-free...

If Senate Democrats had set out to portray Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. as extreme on issues ranging from abortion to government surveillance of citizens, they ran up against an elusive target on Tuesday: Samuel A. Alito Jr. For nearly eight hours, Judge Alito was placid, monochromatic and, it seemed, mostly untouchable.

and why would that be, you might ask...? well, gee... it seems that he had some help as this editorial in the VERY SAME PAPER points out...
There have certainly been troubling aspects to this hearing, but so far they have been in Judge Alito's favor. The news that federal judges intend to testify in support of his nomination is both unusual and unfortunate, as are reports that a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee may have helped prepare Judge Alito for the hearings. So are some comments by Senator Arlen Specter, the committee chairman, who seems to be using his position to spin things Judge Alito's way.

steve clemons articulates my view, although in a somewhat subdued, steve clemons way...
Alito has been a distinguished conservative judge whose long record of decisions give a clear portrayal of his work and opinions. However, his brand of conservatism should remain in the periphery of our court system and not be allowed to ascend to the highest court in the land.


[T]he clincher is that he is committed to a vision of expansive Executive Branch power in our government at a time when the other branches sorely need to be propped up -- and need to get back in the business of curbing Executive authority. Our democracy is in fragile shape on many fronts -- and the Courts and Legislature must reassert themselves and end the de facto monarchy America has tripped into.

i've been a bit more shrill, stating baldly that i believe samuel is the most dangerous supreme court nominee in u.s. history...

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There's no money in health for doctors and hospitals

Doctors and hospitals profit by treating complications of diabetes but lose money when they try to prevent them.

in one sentence, everything that's wrong with health care in the united states...

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Wednesday on Cruisin' the Blogs

the line-up so far...

  • Judd Legum at Think Progress comments on Bush's gathering last week of officials from former presidential administrations
  • U.S. Representative John Conyers blogs on The Huffington Post about presidential power and asks a noted constitutional scholar for his opinion

As you may know by now, "Cruisin' the Blogs" is my new, daily blog review radio show airing on WBAT (Buenos Aires Today), an internet radio station in Buenos Aires, Argentina... You can listen Monday through Friday, 11-12 in the morning, Argentina time (9-10 a.m., U.S. eastern time and 2 p.m. UTC)... The program repeats at 10-11 p.m., Argentina time... WBAT is the first english language radio station in Argentina...

Be sure to listen at:

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Juan Cole comments on George Bush's judicial appointment history in Afghanistan

i sure do appreciate juan cole... he keeps right on top of things that otherwise might pass wholly unnoticed, makes connections that need to be made and doesn't talk down to anyone...
Great Justices Installed by Bush

As the Alito confirmation hearings begin, it is worth considering some of the judicial consquences of George W. Bush's various campaigns. When the US overthrew the Taliban and installed the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, the Bush administration implied that everything had changed. What few observers seem to have noticed is that Hamid Karzai immediately appointed as Afghanistan's chief justice, Fazal Hadi Shinwari, whose philosophy of life was little different from that of the Taliban!

One can only imagine that Bush, who kept thousands of troops in the country and oversaw the evolution of the Afghanistan government, had no objections to the man's judicial philosophy.

Among Shinwari's rulings:

  • Amputation of hands and stoning to death will continue to be the punishment for thieves and adulterers in post-Taliban Afghanistan, country’s new Chief Justice Fazal Hadi Shinwari was reported today as saying.
Was all this to make his own nominees to the Supreme Court, who merely want to install a king-president over Americans, uphold the privileges of rich white males, and work against women's rights and one-person, one-vote rights for racial minorities, good in comparison?

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Bush hits the campaign trail

like he ever left it...
President Bush, in full campaign mode, warned Democratic critics of his Iraq policy on Tuesday to watch what they say or risk giving "comfort to our adversaries" and suffering at the ballot box in November. Democrats said Bush should take his own advice.

There are 10 months before congressional elections in which polls indicate the president's Republican Party could lose its dominance of Capitol Hill. But Bush is wasting no time engaging the battle. In his first speech of 2006 on the road, last week in Chicago, he aggressively challenged Democrats on the economy.

Tuesday's equally sharp message represented an attempt by the president to neutralize Democrats' ability to use Iraq — where violence is surging in the wake of December parliamentary elections and messy negotiations to form a new coalition government — as an election-year cudgel against Republicans.

Bush acknowledged deep differences over Iraq among casualty-weary Americans, just 39 percent of whom approve of his handling of the war, according to a recent AP-Ipsos survey. Without specifically mentioning Democrats, the president urged campaigning politicians to "conduct this debate responsibly."

He said he welcomed "honest critics" who question the way the war is being conducted and the "loyal opposition" that points out what is wrong with his administration's approach.

But he termed irresponsible the "partisan critics who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil or because of Israel or because we misled the American people," as well as "defeatists who refuse to see that anything is right. With that description, Bush lumped the many Democrats who have accused him of twisting pre-war intelligence with the few people, mostly outside the mainstream, who have raised the issues of oil and Israel.

Bush argued that irresponsible discussion harms the morale of troops overseas, emboldens the insurgents they are fighting and sets a bad example for Iraqis trying to establish a democratic government.

what a bunch of cow manure or, should i say, turd blossoms... the pungent smell of rove seeps from every syllable of every bush quote in this article... bush doesn't welcome "honest critics..." he doesn't tolerate critics, honest, dishonest or otherwise, it's bush's own administration that's setting the rotten example for the iraqi people (to say nothing of citizens in countries around the world), and, for bush, any discussion is "irresponsible discussion..."

the fact that he and his satanic majesty, karl, still think they can run this game on the american people is either a testament to their incredible obtuseness or the american people's incredible gullibility... either way, it makes me sick...

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Greenwald frames the Alito nomination

on crooks and liars, where he's accepted john amato's invitation to submit the occasional guest blog... he's doing a damn good job too...
What is at stake with this nomination is whether we are going to have a country that endorses and allows George Bush’s theory that the permanent war we are fighting gives him the right to violate whatever laws he wants to violate. All indications are that Alito is at the very extreme fringe when it comes to deference to Presidential authority and power -- exactly what is most dangerous for the country right now. A country where the President can break the law and claims the power to do so is an extreme and radical situation -- at least for the United States -- but this is what Sam Alito represents and it is why he was chosen by George Bush for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court...

i couldn't agree more and have been saying precisely the same thing myself, repeatedly......

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Abramoff is a Republican problem through and through

thanks to fired up america via john at americablog for pointing me to this rather surprising piece in the national review online labeling the abramoff mess for what it is - a republican mess, through and through...
Republicans trumpet every Democratic connection to Abramoff in the hope that something resonates. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), took more than $60,000 from Abramoff clients! North Dakota Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan used Abramoff's skybox! It is true that any Washington influence peddler is going to spread cash and favors as widely as possible, and 210 members of Congress have received Abramoff-connected dollars. But this is, in its essence, a Republican scandal, and any attempt to portray it otherwise is a misdirection.

hey...! r's...! got that...! he's yours... ALL YOURS...!

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John Bolton is surpassing all expectations

all the speculation about what kind of trail of destruction john bolton would blaze up and down the halls of the united nations evidently wasn't of the idle variety...
For months, we have been arguing that the Bush administration has generally the right substantive agenda for badly needed changes at the United Nations, but that Ambassador John Bolton's scorched-earth alternative to diplomacy is undermining the prospects for successfully achieving these reforms. Now it turns out that our criticism has been only half-right in at least one crucial area - in restoring the United Nations' moral authority on human rights by excluding egregious violators from a new human rights monitoring council. Mr. Bolton's latest proposal on this gets the substance wrong as well.

The problem with the current discredited Human Rights Commission is that its members are chosen by a system of regional rotation that fails to take into account the actual human rights performance of prospective members. The reform was originally intended to change that, by requiring the approval of at least two-thirds of the 191 member countries to win a seat on the new council.

Mr. Bolton wants to defeat the whole purpose of that reform by automatically assuring seats for all five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - regardless of their own human rights records.

That would, of course, guarantee a seat every year for the United States, despite what other countries may think of Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib, the death penalty, or Washington's practice of secretly flying suspects to be interrogated in countries that countenance torture.

oh, by all means, let's set the u.s. up as THE arbiter of human rights and further cement our reputation as the biggest bunch of hypocrites on the planet...

i hope steve clemons is making progress on putting together the bolton watch site he's promised us for the new year...

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Alito and presidential power

The opinion is more than 50 years old, and it is not even binding precedent. But just minutes into the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., it took center stage and seemed to lay the groundwork for the questions he will face concerning his views on the limits of presidential power.

as well it should...
The 1952 opinion, a concurrence by Justice Robert H. Jackson, rejected President Harry S. Truman's assertion that he had the constitutional power to seize the nation's steel mills to aid the war effort in Korea.

imho, alito's views on presidential power are the single most important elements to be ascertained in his confirmation hearings... given alito's support for virtually unchecked executive power and, in particular, for the most troubling of all, "interpretive bill signing," alito might just qualify as the most potentially dangerous appointment bush has yet proposed... see here, here and here...

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"Terrible Iranians" to supply electricity to Iraq

mehrnews from iran...
In its bid to further develop export of electricity to Iraq, Iran is planning to build new power transmission lines to that country, an official at the Gharb Regional Power Company said.

The line, capable of transferring 230 kilowatts of electrical energy will be built to carry Iran’s electricity from its bordering city of Saqez to the northern parts of Iraq, the Persian service of Iran’s Petroenergy Information Network (PIN) quoted Qolam-Reza Khosh-Kholq, managing director of the company as saying on Monday.

juan cole in informed comment...
Those terrible Iranians! How dare they be helpful this way? It will confuse President Bush. Aren't they supposed to be in the Axis [of Evil]?

riverbend in baghdad burning...
Here we are in the first days of 2006. What does the ‘6’ symbolize? How about- 6 hours of no electricity for every one hour of electricity?

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The dominoes continue to fall in Jack's wake

more to come, no doubt...
One of Washington's top lobbying operations will shut down at the end of the month because of its ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former House majority leader Tom DeLay.

Alexander Strategy Group, which had thrived since its founding in 1998 thanks largely to its close connections to DeLay (R-Tex.), will cease to operate except for a relatively small business-development division...

the tragic part of the ripple effects of something like abramoff is that perfectly innocent folks will fall with him... i'm sure the alexander group has at least one single parent, working mom, who is now going to have to struggle to find other employment and hope to hell she can find it fast enough to keep up with the bills...

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Tuesday on Cruisin' the Blogs

oh, it'll be a goodie... i'll be featuring all far-right, republican blogs and pundits - with NO editorial comment from me (or anyone else for that matter!)...

  • Ann Coulter
  • Powerline
  • Cal Thomas
  • Oliver North
  • Captains Quarters
  • Austin Bay
"Cruisin' the Blogs" is my new, daily blog review radio show airing on WBAT (Buenos Aires Today), an internet radio station in Buenos Aires, Argentina... You can listen Monday through Friday, 11-12 in the morning, Argentina time (9-10 a.m., U.S. eastern time and 2 p.m. UTC)... The program repeats at 10-11 p.m., Argentina time... WBAT is the first english language radio station in Argentina...

Be sure to listen at:

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Now that Peru's military can vote, candidates are wooing them with calls for amnesty

just like in argentina where they are still struggling to get past the "dirty war" that ended over 20 years ago, peru needs to find a way to move past its nightmarish past and amnesty for offenders is absolutely not an acceptable way to do it...
For the first time ever, members of the armed forces and police will be able to vote in elections in Peru, next April. These 150,000 newly enfranchised voters are attracting special attention from the candidates, which has given rise to fears that those accused of violating human rights may stand a better chance of escaping justice.

The leading candidates for the presidency and Congress in Peru have begun to call for an amnesty for soldiers who took part in the "war against terrorism," a term applied to the repression by state security forces of Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) insurgents in the 1980s and 1990s.


The last amnesty law for military personnel and police accused of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings and torture was passed in 1995 at the initiative of then president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000). It rendered void all sentences and all trials then under way against uniformed torturers and murderers.


The Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned the amnesty law, but it was unable to prevent the release of military personnel and police accused of crimes against humanity.


The president of the Constitutional Court, Víctor García, and People's Defender (ombudswoman) Beatriz Merino have reminded the candidates that an amnesty, pardon or any other means of repealing sentences or cancelling trials against human rights violators are unacceptable from every point of view.

"They simply cannot be applied in cases of human rights violations," García said.

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Alito's confirmation may mean the Executive will have the power to "toss aside the Constitution."

robert parry of consortium news makes his usual right-to-the-point analysis...
If Samuel Alito wins confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, George W. Bush may have secured a majority to endorse his view of unlimited presidential powers for the duration of the War on Terror. While much focus is on Alito providing the swing vote to eliminate abortion rights, his elevation to the High Court also might mark the point of no return toward a United States dominated by an autocratic Executive with the power to cast aside the Constitution.

"...the duration of the war on terror..." damn...! "duration..." there's a chilling thought... the war without end...

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George is gonna have some trouble holding to his claim that he "doesn't know Abramoff..."

scotty mcclellan...
“The President does not know him, nor does the President recall ever meeting him.”
BIG trouble...
In President Bush's first 10 months, GOP fundraiser Jack Abramoff and his lobbying team logged nearly 200 contacts with the new administration as they pressed for friendly hires at federal agencies and sought to keep the Northern Mariana Islands exempt from the minimum wage and other laws, records show.

i bet the wh gang is sooooo goddam relieved that the focus is on alito today... they wanted the alito hearings to start before the end of the year but i don't imagine they had any idea what kind of deep shit they would be in right off the bat in the new year...

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MSNBC poll on Alito confirmation [UPDATE]


at 6:45 p.m. argentina time, it's now 60% "no" and 40% "yes" with 58822 responses...

go here to register your vote... this is what the results looked like at 1:25 p.m., argentina time...

but, according to this washington post-abc news poll...
A majority of Americans favor the confirmation of federal appeals court judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the U.S. Supreme Court and an even larger proportion believe Alito would not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 high court ruling that legalized abortion, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.

As hearings begin today in the Senate on his nomination, the survey found that 53 percent of the public says Alito should be confirmed to serve on the court--virtually identical to the proportion that supported John Roberts' confirmation as chief justice four months ago. One in four--27 percent--say Alito should be rejected by the Senate.

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The Alito hearings... Let the games begin...

the center for individual freedom (ya gotta love the name), hell-bent to confirm alito, has this to say...
Even before he was nominated, Liberal ideologues vowed to spend millions to defeat anyone President Bush nominated to the Supreme Court.


what liberals and progressives are working so hard to prevent is the confirmation of YET ANOTHER IDEOLOGUE to the supreme court, particularly one with an extremist rightward bent and a firm belief that the president of the united states can operate with unchecked power... if bush had chosen to nominate a moderate, the appointee would no doubt have been confirmed as quickly as roberts... but, NO-O-O-OO...! bush, with his huevos in a vise after the harriet "my-little-crony" miers debacle, had to cough up to satisfy the rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth dogs that constitute his base...

and the center for individual freedom...? it is to larf... with alito on the court, you can pretty well kiss what's left of your individual freedoms goodbye...

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BREAKING: Cheney rushed to hospital [UPDATE]

at least they're not keeping it under wraps this time...
US Vice-President Dick Cheney has been rushed to hospital after suffering shortness of breath and apparent fluid retention. Mr Cheney, 64, has a history of heart attacks. He had his fourth heart attack at the end of 2000 and in June 2001 he was fitted with a pacemaker.

[Cheney] was released four and a half hours later and was expected at the White House for afternoon meetings.

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Evo Morales wants to bring Bolivia and China closer together

latin american countries, like many other countries around the world, have been making nice with china as it becomes apparent that china's galloping economic growth and its desire to continue to add markets for its exports both present golden opportunities for their own economies... bolivia's president-elect, evo morales, in his globe-trotting get-acquainted tour, isn't letting any grass grow under his feet...
While on a visit to Beijing, Bolivia's President-elect, Evo Morales, has invited China to help develop his country's energy sector. One of Mr Morales' economic advisers said China could be interested in converting Bolivia's natural gas into environmentally friendly diesel. Mr Morales will meet Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday. Correspondents say his left-wing stance and anti-US speeches may have already won him support in Beijing.

"For the government of President Morales, hydrocarbons is a fundamental topic, in particular the industrialisation of natural gas," Carlos Villegas, an economic adviser to Mr Morales, said in Beijing. "He invited the Chinese government, through its state companies, to participate." But Mr Villegas emphasised that China was not the only country Bolivia was assessing as a possible partner. "We have made the proposal in Spain and France, and now in China... It doesn't mean that we are relying only on China," Mr Villegas said.

morales has perhaps been more visible in the few short weeks since his election than another latin american president in memory... i truly hope that this bodes well for bolivia's future under his presidency...

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Why end our pension plan? Because we CAN...!

if you're financially sound enough that the en vogue business strategy - bankruptcy - might raise too many eyebrows, you can STILL opt for the bankruptcy perk of killing off your pension program... why not take advantage of every opportunity to wring more blood out of the employees turnip as long as you can get away with it... never mind that some of them will be thrown to the sharks...
The death knell for the traditional company pension has been tolling for some time now. Companies in ailing industries like steel, airlines and auto parts have thrown themselves into bankruptcy and turned over their ruined pension plans to the federal government.

Now, with the recent announcements of pension freezes by some of the cream of corporate America - Verizon, Lockheed Martin, Motorola and, just last week, I.B.M. - the bell is tolling even louder. Even strong, stable companies with the means to operate a pension plan are facing longer worker lifespans, looming regulatory and accounting changes and, most important, heightened global competition. Some are deciding they either cannot, or will not, keep making the decades-long promises that a pension plan involves.

Companies now emphasize 401(k) plans, which leave workers responsible for ensuring that they have adequate funds for retirement and expose them to the vagaries of the financial markets.


Mr. Capelli [Peter Capelli, a professor of management at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania] called the switch from a pension plan to a 401(k) program "the most visible manifestation of the shifting of risk onto employees." He added: "People just have to deal with a lot more risk in their lives, because all these things that used to be more or less assured - a job, health care, a pension - are now variable."

and, if it doesn't all work out, tough shit for you, baby...

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Ahhhh... The WH hatches are being battened down...

it looks like george and da boyz think there might be some foul weather a'comin...
Aides to President George W. Bush are trying to identify all the photos that may exist of the President and lobbyist Jack Abramoff together, TIME’s White House Correspondents Mike Allen and Matt Cooper report in Monday editions, RAW STORY has learned.

From TIME:

Bracing for the worst, Administration officials obtained from the Secret Service a list of all the times Abramoff entered the White House complex, and they scrambled to determine the reason for each visit, TIME reports. Abramoff attended Hanukkah and holiday events at the White House, according to an aide who has seen the list. Press secretary Scott McClellan said Abramoff might have attended large gatherings with Bush but added, “The President does not know him, nor does the President recall ever meeting him.”

when jack was flyin' high and showering george and the campaign with hundreds of thousands of dollars, i doubt seriously if george was afflicted with such sudden amnesia...

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TIME reports that there are bigger fish in the probe than Abramoff

oh, just keep 'em coming... let's round up all the scumballs (and i'm including bush in that category), let's haul out the tar and feathers and let's run 'em all out of town on a rail...
[An] official involved with the probe told TIME that investigators are viewing Abramoff as “the middle guy” - suggesting there are bigger targets in their sights. The FBI has 13 field offices across the country working on the case, with two dozen agents assigned to it full time and roughly the same number working it part time. “We are going to chase down every lead,” Chris Swecker, head of the FBI’s Criminal Division, told TIME.

(thanks to raw story...)

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New (to me) blog: The Sergeant Major's Thoughts on That

it's been my privilege to know several army sergeant majors in my life, one of the most outstanding of which was my late father-in-law... these "super nco's" (as they're known in the military) are often as not super people as well... something about rising in the enlisted ranks to the top of the pile, with the "pile" being folks that, as they say, "work for a living," forges a different kind of character and integrity... i just stumbled on this gentleman's blog on daily kos, made a little visit and instantly decided to include it in my blogroll...

this deserves to be re-posted in full...

This is the first time I have actually decided on the title of a post before I wrote the post. I think it happened because as a soldier and leader I am feeling more pain today than usual. Today 12 more soldiers spilled their blood in the sands of Iraq.

The total number of American soldiers who have died in Iraq as of this writing stands at 2,210.

The total number of American soldiers who have been wounded in Iraq as of this writing stands at 15, 955.

I want to avoid repeating what I have written in previous post if I can but I think it will be difficult. So here goes anyway. Each time I read about another soldier dying in Iraq I think that either that soldier or more likely his leader is someone I probably trained. That thought brings it close. I then think that that soldier has a family waiting. Maybe they have children, a husband, a wife, brothers and sisters and a mother and father. Then I think about what my parents and family went through those many months I was serving in Vietnam or some other conflict in some other god forsaken hole. I think of the pain that they felt and it brings it all home to me. I was never the one waiting and I’m beginning to see how being the one waiting can be more painful. Then……….I think that for the families of the soldiers who died today the waiting is over and it hurts more. My family got me back and their families didn’t.

I have to ask myself this……; does George W. Bush think about these things? Does George W. Bush know that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11? Does George W. Bush know that Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction? Does George W. Bush know that Saddam was not a threat to the United States? Does George W. Bush know that those who attacked on 9/11 were al Qaeda and most were Saudi citizens and none were Iraqi? Does George W. Bush know that Osama Bin Laden, who planned and directed the execution of the 9/11 attacks is still at large?

George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in spite of knowing all of the above. George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq knowing that we were going in with at least 50,000 fewer troops than needed to accomplish the mission. George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq without a plan to maintain stability or for the occupation of that country. George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq knowing that the soldiers did not have enough body armor to protect all of them. George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq knowing that the military did not have enough of the right kind of armored vehicles to accomplish the mission and protect the troops. George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq knowing that the military did not have enough of the right kind of armored vehicles and didn’t bother to ask the manufacturer to produce more, faster and let our soldiers continue to be in harms way without the equipment to protect them and save their lives. George W. Bush continues to occupy Iraq with American soldiers who have inferior body armor instead of providing the armor that could reduce casualties by 70% to 80%.

Some might say this is Monday morning quarterbacking. I say it’s simply realizing the facts as they were known at the time. I also say it is dereliction of duty to commit an act for purely political reasons. And I say it is treasonous for the Commander in Chief to order soldiers into harms way while knowing it is one the wrong thing to do and they are not prepared to handle the situation on the ground.

I am hurting today because my/our soldiers are dying as a result of at least gross negligence if not treasonous acts.

I ask you to hurt with me and weep with me but do something to bring change to our government and bring our soldiers home. We have won the war of Armies and it is the Iraqi’s responsibility to win the war of insurgency through democratic means. It may be idealistic thinking on my part but it’s reality in the desert.

SGM Larry A. Myers U.S. Army (Retired)
Location:Tallahassee, Florida, United States
A veteran of 27 years in the United States Army including combat tours in Vietnam.

i'm pleased and honored to make your acquaintance...

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