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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 02/05/2006 - 02/12/2006
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- Noam Chomsky
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Can we come home now?

Thanks to my friend Bill for passing this on to me. From Truthout
Doug and I are not alone. 30% of Iraq veterans have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The divorce rate among Iraq Veterans is very high. Homelessness, unemployment and drug abuse are also on the rise. As Doug put it in an article written shortly before he took his own life, “All is not okay ... for those of us who return home alive and supposedly well. What looks like normalcy and readjustment is only an illusion to be revealed by time and torment. Some soldiers ... will live with permanent scars from horrific events that no one other than those who served will ever understand.”

Doug and I are America’s returned veterans, her sons, left on our own to suffer after the torment of war. I still struggle through life. I often remind myself that I have to bring myself through for my daughter. I force myself to hope that even though my personal finances are in shambles, my marriage destroyed, and nearly everything I once held dear left on the rubbish heap created by this war, this torture cannot last forever. Some days I believe it; on many, I don’t.

Also with this article is the email written by Doug Barber shortly before he took his own life.
PTSD comes in many forms not understood by many: but yet if a soldier has it, America thinks the soldiers are crazy. PTSD comes in the form of depression, anger, regret, being confrontational, anxiety, chronic pain, compulsion, delusions, grief, guilt, dependence, loneliness, sleep disorders, suspiciousness/paranoia, low self-esteem and so many other things.

We are easily startled with a loud bang or noise and can be found ducking for cover when we get panicked. This is a result of artillery rounds going off in a combat zone, or an IED blowing up.

I myself have trouble coping with an everyday routine that deals with other people that often causes me to have a short fuse. A lot of soldiers lose multiple jobs just because they are trained to be killers and they have lived in an environment that is conducive to that. We are always on guard for our safety and that of our comrades. When you go to bed at night you wonder will you be sent home in a flag-draped coffin because a mortar round went off on your sleeping area.

Soldiers live in deplorable conditions, where burning your own feces is the order of the day. Where going days on end with no shower and the uniform you wear gets so crusty it sometimes sticks to your body becomes a common occurrence. We also deal with rationing water or even food for that matter. So when a soldier comes home to what they left they are unsure of what to do being in a civilized world again.

This is what PTSD comes in the shape of - soldiers can not often handle coming back to the same world they left behind. It is something that drives soldiers over the edge and causes them to withdraw from society. As Americans, we turn our nose down at them wondering why they act the way they do. Who cares about them; why should we help them?

Talk show hosts like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and so many others act like they know all about war; then they refuse to give any credence to soldiers like me who have been to war and seen the brutality of war. These guys are nothing but WEAK SPINELESS COWARDS hiding behind microphones while soldiers come home and are losing everything they have.

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The Coretta Scott King funeral is an example of the U.S. at its best

so, where would you guess that sentiment is being expressed...? c'mon... don't be shy... where do you think...? ok... read it and then see if you can tell...
Listen, I watched the funeral of Coretta Scott King for six hours Tuesday, from the pre-service commentary to the very last speech, and it was wonderful -- spirited and moving, rousing and respectful, pugnacious and loving. The old lions of the great American civil rights movement of the 20th century were there, and standing tall. The old lionesses, too. There was preaching and speechifying and at the end I thought: This is how democracy ought to be, ought to look every day -- full of the joy of argument, and marked by the moral certainty that here you can say what you think.

There was nothing prissy, nothing sissy about it. A former president, a softly gray-haired and chronically dyspeptic gentleman who seems to have judged the world to be just barely deserving of his presence, pointedly insulted a sitting president who was, in fact, sitting right behind him. The Clintons unveiled their 2008 campaign. A rhyming preacher, one of the old lions, a man of warmth and stature, freely used the occasion to verbally bop the sitting president on the head.

So what? This was the authentic sound of a vibrant democracy doing its thing. It was the exact opposite of the frightened and prissy attitude that if you draw a picture I don't like, I'll have to kill you.

It was: We do free speech here.

That funeral honored us, and the world could learn a lot from watching it. The U.S. government should send all six hours of it throughout the World Wide Web and to every country on earth, because it said more about who we are than any number of decorous U.N. speeches and formal diplomatic declarations.

i'm not gonna tell ya... you'll just have to follow the link and find out for yourself... i can tell ya this, tho', i was surprised...

(thanks to s, my good friend here in skopje...)

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Are Rove's threats going unheeded...?

attempting to read between the lines, i can only surmise that, after the dark lord, the one-who-must-not-be-named, karl rove, issued his threat to blacklist any r's who didn't stand with king george on the nsa spying issue, prince karl's cachet may be losing a bit of its luster...
In interviews over several days, Congressional Republicans have expressed growing doubts about the National Security Agency program to intercept international communications inside the United States without court warrants. A growing number of Republicans say the program appears to violate the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that created a court to oversee such surveillance, and are calling for revamping the FISA law.

now that they're beginning to think about the fact that we have a gang of criminals running this country, do you suppose they might also eventually come to the inescapable conclusion that the appropriate means to deal with a criminal president is either seeking his resignation or initiating impeachment proceedings...? god, i hope so but, after going-on six years of witnessing outrage after outrage being perpetrated without consequences, i've found that even entertaining the NOTION of hope is a set-up for disappointment...

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Media Matters' quote of the week

note who's being quoted...
Quote of the Week

"I mean, you know, I think these civil rights leaders are nothing more than racists. And they're keeping constituency, they're keeping their neighborhoods and their African-American brothers enslaved, if you will, by continuing to let them think that they're -- or forced to think that they're victims, that the whole system is against them."

-- Mary Matalin

yes, THAT mary matalin, the one who works for dick cheney... just like this quote proves, you can be sure that, sooner or later, true colors will show...

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Hearing update

So far it seems that the Republican response is to jump on the "blame Brownie" bandwagon and calling his "leadership" into question and remove blame from White House or DHS.

Robert Bennet (UT-R) – We knew that it would take at least five years for DoD to work. Looked wonderful on paper. Yet, 18 months later turf battles, etc. Not making hay about DHS not working. Sympathetic to what B is saying. Still…having seen this before, I know there are things that can be done.

Why not get on phone to talk to chertoff directly? Did not occur to you to do that?

Brown - Culture such that I didn’t think it would work. Went directly to WH rather than deal with interdepartment red-tape. Waste of time to call Chertoff, then him call someone, then someone call Rumsfeld. (take too much time, too many layers) Easier to go straight to WH and talk to Hagin or Andy Card and get immediate response.

Bennett – that is a shocking pronouncement on dysfunctionality of department. Holy cow (paraphrase). You mean, wow…you couldn’t sit down with Chertoff at all?

Brown – made two attempts to do so. 1. Chertoff wanted briefings from undersecretaries with info, most challenges, etc. Prepared memo. In record. Chertoff never had the component head meeting with me. 2. Did get a meeting to keep preparedness in FEMA. Needed to stay in FEMA. Made case to Chertoff. Thought he had won. Chertoff agreed. 48 hours later decision is reversed.

Bennett – you didn’t tell Chertoff because you felt it wouldn’t do any good.

Brown – I succeeded elsewhere, but not this time because DHS was bureaucratic mess.

Lautenberg: Not here to blame Brown alone. If I have a fire in my house I don’t insist on talking to the fire chief before putting out the fire. If we can’t trust aides to chief then there is a huge problem. You [Brown] appear to be the "designated scapegoat."

Still incredible needs. Trailers, shelter, etc. Who is responsible NOW? The responsibility lies with the White House.

I find the response now indicates where we were before.

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Well, we shall see if the extortion has worked...

Brownie is due to testify in about ten minutes, and I will be watching. I am absolutely sick after reading this NYT article this morning. Read the whole thing. Some nuggets:
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bush administration officials said they had been caught by surprise when they were told on Tuesday, Aug. 30, that a levee had broken, allowing floodwaters to engulf New Orleans.

But Congressional investigators have now learned that an eyewitness account of the flooding from a federal emergency official reached the Homeland Security Department's headquarters starting at 9:27 p.m. the day before, and the White House itself at midnight.

[...]

As his helicopter approached the site, Mr. Bahamonde testified in October, there was no mistaking what had happened: large sections of the levee had fallen over, leaving the section of the city on the collapsed side entirely submerged, but the neighborhood on the other side relatively dry. He snapped a picture of the scene with a small camera.

"The situation is only going to get worse," he said he warned Mr. Brown, then the FEMA director, whom he called about 8 p.m. Monday Eastern time to report on his helicopter tour.

"Thank you," he said Mr. Brown replied. "I am now going to call the White House."

Citing restrictions placed on him by his lawyers, Mr. Brown declined to tell House investigators during testimony if he had actually made that call. White House aides have urged administration officials not to discuss any conversations with the president or his top advisors and declined to release e-mail messages sent among Mr. Bush's senior advisors.

But investigators have found the e-mail message referring to Mr. Bahamonde's helicopter survey that was sent to John F. Wood, chief of staff to Secretary Chertoff at 9:27 p.m. They have also found a summary of Mr. Bahamonde's observations that was issued at 10:30 p.m. and an 11:05 p.m. e-mail message to Michael Jackson, the deputy secretary of homeland security. Each message describes in detail the extensive flooding that was taking place in New Orleans after the levee collapse.

Given this chain of events, investigators have repeatedly questioned why Mr. Bush and Mr. Chertoff stated in the days after the storm that the levee break did not happen until Tuesday, as they made an effort to explain why they initially thought the storm had passed without the catastrophe that some had feared.

"The hurricane started to depart the area on Monday, and then Tuesday morning the levee broke and the water started to flood into New Orleans," Mr. Chertoff said on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Sept. 4, the weekend after the hurricane hit.

Mr. Chertoff and White House officials have said that they were referring to official confirmation that the levee had broken, which they say they received Tuesday morning from the Army Corps of Engineers.

So, a worker for FEMA is not official enough? This comment alone speaks volumes as to what they thought of that agency.
They also say there were conflicting reports all day Monday about whether a breach had occurred and noted that they were not alone in failing to recognize the growing catastrophe.

Mr. Duffy, the White House spokesman, said it would not have made much difference even if the White House had realized the significance of the midnight report. "Like it or not, you cannot fix a levee overnight, or in an hour, or even six hours," he said.

What a bastard. Yes, of course, the levee couldn't be repaired, but gee, doncha think you could've gotten rescue resources moving towards New Orleans a bit quicker?

I am off to watch the hearing. More later.

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Biopiracy

One of the significant problems "normal" people encounter when deciding what, if any, informed opinion to take on "Free Trade" is the mind boggling complexity of its` evolving markets, the myriad of factors involved in its` formulation and implementation. I have a lot of respect for people like Andrew Leonard at Salon.com who try and sort out some of the principal issues involved. As he has stated, and I certainly have to agree, transparency, or a general lack thereof, is one of the major causes for concern by those who often stand to lose the most, that is, the poverty inflicted, consuming populations of the world from what is euphemistically termed "Free Trade." Mr. Leonard directs his readers over to a great website SciDev.net, to help untangle the big, ugly knot piecemeal, starting with biotech.

Biopiracy refers to the isolation and potential patenting of the "active ingredients" by bigpharma found in certain plants native to Africa and Brazil for ex., which have already been used by indigenous populations for generations as remedies. Naturally, in the spirit of "Free Trade", these populations want their piece of the profit pie and, just as naturally, some of those in bigpharma don’t wish to give it to them. Take the case of Hoodia cactus, a cactus from S. Africa that has been used by the native San population as an appetite and thirst suppressant for thousands of years. This appetite suppressant was developed and patented by the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and sold to a British company,(Phytopharm), which had in turn sold the licensing rights to the pharmaceutical company Pfizer for $21 million. The San population found out through media reports and sued the CSIR, receiving a modest and still pending 6 percent of potential revenues. A report by the US-based Edmonds Institute and the African Centre for Biosafety, South Africa, cites 34 more recent examples of Western laboratories developing drugs, cosmetics and industrial products using material from African plants, animals or microbes.

Obviously, the real debates occurring in the new global economy are not about freedom but more accurately about ownership. Who owns whose idea and for how long? Which trade restrictions are appropriate for which situations? One thing is certain: the global corporate network will not be interested in sharing whatever public property they consider up for grabs without a fight. -Toby Mandrake

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Sidney Blumenthal annotates the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on NSA spying

blumenthal compares gonzales' performance and the hearings in general to kafka, john lecarre and mel brooks... my take is more fellini...
The scene at the Senate was acted as though scripted partly by Kafka, partly by Mel Brooks and partly by John le Carre.

[...]

The attorney general argued that the FISA law did and did not apply, that the administration was operating within it, while flouting it, and that it didn't matter. The president's "inherent" power, after all, allowed him to do whatever he wants. It was all, Gonzales said, "totally consistent."

[...]

Congress, Gonzales elaborated, had no proper constitutional role, but in any case had already approved the president's secret program by voting for the authorization for the use of military force in Afghanistan, even if members didn't know it or, when informed years later that they had done so, objected that they hadn't. The law that was ignored, Gonzales declared, shouldn't be amended to bring this domestic spying under the law because the secret program is already legal, or might be legal, and anyway it doesn't matter whether Congress says it's legal. The all-powerful president should be trusted, but when Bush states wrongly that he goes to court for warrants, it's all right that he doesn't know what he is talking about. "As you know," Gonzales said, "the president is not a lawyer."

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Outbreak of foot and mouth in Argentina

o-o-o-o-o-oooo... not good... not good at all...
As more countries yesterday closed their markets to Argentine beef, the National Food Safety regulator (SENASA) declared a state of sanitary emergency "in the entire national territory," following the detection on Wednesday of foot-and-mouth outbreak in San Luis del Palmar, in the northeastern province of Corrientes.

Israel, South Africa, Colombia, Peru and Albania suspended Argentine beef imports from the region of Corrientes yesterday, a day after neighbouring Brazil, Chile, Paraguay — and also Russia, Argentina’s largest market — had adopted similar measures. Uruguay has restricted imports and placed a strict control which included deployment of national security forces at four major crossings.

The head of the Argentine Rural Society (SRA), Luciano Miguens, who in recent weeks has challenged the government’s initiative to establish a price agreement with beef producers, yesterday said that the outbreak of foot-and-mouth in Corrientes will result in "significant losses for the country" due to exports cancellations, but he quipped that "the good news is that we will have cheaper beef."

Local beef producers yesterday called on the government to urgently pinpoint the cause of foot-and-mouth disease outbreak, fearing sharp new losses. Argentina is the world’s third largest beef exporter.

argentina is not in a very good position to absorb this kind of financial impact on one of its largest exports...

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Porter Goss keeps on spinnin' shillin' keepin' on

keep on keepin' on, porter, my man...
[W]e are at risk of losing a key battle: the battle to protect our classified information.

with all due respect, mr. goss, what we are at risk of losing is our democracy, our civil liberties, our cherished tripartite balance of powers, our constitution and most everything else that makes the united states worthwhile... and the battle isn't against terrorism, it's against you and the administration you work shill for...

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A litany of ugliness

another one of THOSE days, a day where there's simply too much tawdriness to comment on seperately... and, once again, thanks to americablog for both the heads-up and the links...


my fondest dream is to wake up one morning and find nothing but wonderful, uplifting news to report rather than another chronicle of my country's ruination...

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Condi and George are lying to the American people about cartoongate

why are we not surprised...? juan cole sets things straight...
Condoleezza Rice is a Liar
Blames Syria, Iran for Inciting Violence over Caricatures of Prophet

Secretary of State Condi Rice on Wednesday blamed Iran and Syria for inciting violence over the Danish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The problem is that she is lying, and this irresponsible charge is another in a long series of propaganda ploys whereby the Bush administration manipulates public opinion in the United States. Reuters reports,
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran and Syria, both at loggerheads with the west, of inciting violence over the cartoons for their own purposes.

Speaking at a Washington news conference with Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Rice said: “Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes — and the world ought to call them on it.”

She said nothing justified the violence and appealed to governments to urge calm.

“There are governments that have used this opportunity to incite violence,” she added, referring to Syria and Iran.

I have done keyword searches in the Foreign Broadcast Information Service of the CIA, which translates radio broadcasts and newspaper articles, for all of 2005 and 2006, using "Denmark and Syria." I found nothing from 2005 mentioning the caricatures in FBIS transcriptions of the Syrian press. The only things there for 2006 concerned the past week, which saw a violent demonstration in downtown Damascus.

I then did a similar keyword search in Lexis Nexis, which includes the BBC World Monitoring of the Arab press. I again found nothing for 2005. I print below what I found for 2006; the record begins only on January 31.

In short, it simply is not true that Syria has whipped up sentiments in the Arab world about the Danish caricatures. Neither the CIA, nor the BBC monitoring, nor any of the wire services, noticed any Syrian official saying anything at all about this matter until the past week! Since Syria is ruled by a secular Arab nationalist Baath regime, this finding is not surprising. And what influence would Bashar al-Asad, a heterodox Alawite Shiite and a secular Baathist, have with his Sunni Muslim or orthodox Twelver Shiite neighbors?

It is being alleged that the Baath regime was behind the burning of the Danish embassy in Damascus, on the grounds that it could not have happened unless the police state allowed it. But things have gotten out of hand before in Syria, sometimes on a large scale. It is likely that the regime allowed the initial demonstration, which radical Sunni Muslims took advantage of to torch the embassy. The Syrian regime hates radical Islam and doesn't like disorder, either. We cannot assume that the embassy burning was directed by the Syrian state. There is no evidence for it, and it actually doesn't make any sense. What would Bashar have to gain from that?

Rice and Bush have decided to get Syria, and are using the current crisis as a stick with which to beat it, and are lying shamelessly to the American public.

lying shamelessly... has a familiar ring to it, doesn't it...

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Just in case we've forgotten, George wants to remind us that we need to be scared shitless

osama and the terrorists are george's best friends... as long as they're out there, real or imagined, they allow him and his posse to keep speechifying the american people into fits of blind fear... "all the better to control you with, my dear," said the big bad wolf...
President Bush said the U.S.-led global war on terror has "weakened and fractured" al-Qaida and allied groups, outlining as proof new details about the multinational cooperation that foiled purported terrorist plans to fly a commercial airplane into the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast.

"The terrorists are living under constant pressure and this adds to our security," Bush said. "When terrorists spend their days working to avoid death or capture, it's harder for them to plan and execute new attacks on our country. By striking the terrorists where they live, we're protecting the American homeland."

But the president said the anti-terror battle is far from over.

"The terrorists are weakened and fractured, yet they're still lethal," the president said in a speech at the National Guard Memorial Building. "We cannot let the fact that America hasn't been attacked in 4 1/2 years since September the 11th lull us into the illusion that the threats to our nation have disappeared. They have not."

george... go screw yourself... stronger letter follows...

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Attempts to bomb and slander Al-Jazeera out of existence are driving viewer numbers UP

ok, so let me see if i have this right... the u.s. threatens iran about its nuclear program which makes it more determined than ever to have one... the u.s. puts up an electronic news crawler on its building in havana spreading anti-castro messages to cubans and castro becomes more determined to resist any and all u.s. pressure... the u.s. intentionally, unintentionally or otherwise bombs al-jazeera in afghanistan and iraq, bans them outright from reporting there and jails al-jazeera reporters in guantanamo and iraq yet the existing audience grows more fiercely loyal and new viewers tune in daily... ummmmm... what's wrong with this picture...?
The Al-Jazeera bureau in Afghanistan was bombed by U.S. warplanes in 2001. During the invasion of Iraq, U.S. tanks shelled Al-Jazeera journalists in a Basra hotel. Shortly after, its office in Baghdad was hit by a missile from a U.S. warplane; correspondent Tareq Ayoub was killed.

Al-Jazeera reporters have been detained by U.S. forces and placed in prisons in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. It has weathered verbal attacks from U.S. defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and from government officials in many countries in the Middle East.

[...]

U.S. President George W. Bush attempted to convince British Prime Minister Tony Blair to agree to bomb the headquarters of Al-Jazeera in Doha in Qatar in November that year, according to a report in Britain's Daily Mirror citing "top secret" minutes of the meeting where this was discussed.

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Pushing Iran toward nuclear weapons

more stuff you don't hear from our thoroughly house-broken traditional media...
Two former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials who were directly involved in producing CIA estimates on Iran revealed in separate interviews with IPS that the National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) on Iran have consistently portrayed its concerns about the military threat posed by the United States as a central consideration in Tehran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.

Paul Pillar, who managed the writing of all NIEs on Iran from 2000 to 2005 as the national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia [...] said the dominant view of the intelligence community in the past three years has been that Iran would seek a nuclear weapons capability, but analysts have also considered that a willingness on the part of Washington to reassure Iran on its security fears would have a significant effect on Iranian policy.

Pillar said one of the things analysts have taken into account is Iran's May 2003 proposal to the Bush administration to negotiate on its nuclear option and its relationship with Hezbollah and other anti-Israel groups as well as its own security concerns.

"It was seen as an indicator of Iran's willingness to engage," he said.

it makes perfectly good sense... the 5-dollar, multi-syllable description of iran's reaction is "psychological reciprocity," meaning simply that people tend to react in ways that mirror how they're being treated... but, of course, such fundamental concepts of human interaction are not in the bushco repertoire...

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After insisting that it had ALREADY briefed Congress, Bushco decides to brief Congress

jesus h. christ on a pogo stick...
After weeks of insisting it would not reveal details of its eavesdropping without warrants, the White House reversed course Wednesday and provided a House committee with highly classified information about the operation.

[...]

The shift came the same day Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., announced he is drafting legislation that would require the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the administration's monitoring program and determine if it is constitutional.

It also came after Rep. Heather Wilson (news, bio, voting record), R-N.M., chairwoman of a House intelligence subcommittee that oversees the NSA, broke with the Bush administration and called for a full review of the NSA's program, along with legislative action to update the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

She and others also wanted the full House Intelligence Committee to be briefed on the program's operational details. Although the White House initially promised only information about the legal rationale for surveillance, administration officials broadened the scope Wednesday to include more sensitive details about how the program works.

"I think we've had a tremendous impact today," Wilson said at a news conference as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Gen. Michael Hayden, the nation's No. 2 intelligence official, briefed the full Intelligence Committee.

"I don't think the White House would have made the decision that it did had I not stood up and said, 'You must brief the Intelligence Committee,'" said Wilson, a U.S. Air Force veteran.

only one word comes to mind... clowns...

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

At Coretta Scott King's funeral without a bubble

the moment the poor bastard leaves his bubble, look what happens...
[T]he Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, a former head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the group Martin Luther King Jr. helped found, made a reference to not finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The well-heeled, mostly black crowd erupted in a standing ovation.

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Paul Craig Roberts believes we have undergone a coup

this is the first major media figure that i've run across who is saying out loud what i've been saying for three years... there are probably others but none that i know about who are actually using the "c" word...

paul craig roberts asks "who will save america...?"

We have reached a point where the Bush administration is determined to totally eclipse the people. Bewitched by neoconservatives and lustful for power, the Bush administration and the Republican Party are aligning themselves firmly against the American people. Their first victims, of course, were the true conservatives. Having eliminated internal opposition, the Bush administration is now using blackmail obtained through illegal spying on American citizens to silence the media and the opposition party.

[...]

The United States is undergoing a coup against the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, civil liberties, and democracy itself.

[...]

The TV networks mimic Fox News' faux patriotism. Anyone who depends on print, TV, or right-wing talk radio media is totally misinformed. The Bush administration has achieved a de facto Ministry of Propaganda.

The years of illegal spying have given the Bush administration power over the media and the opposition. Journalists and Democratic politicians don't want to have their adulterous affairs broadcast over television or to see their favorite online porn sites revealed in headlines in the local press with their names attached. Only people willing to risk such disclosures can stand up for the country.

[...]

If the Bush administration can continue its policy of picking up people anywhere in the world and detaining them indefinitely without having to show any evidence for their detention, it can do whatever it wishes.

[...]

Congress and the media have no fight in them, and neither, apparently, do the American people. Considering the feebleness of the opposition, perhaps the best strategy is for the opposition to shut up, not merely for our own safety but, more importantly, to remove any impediments to Bush administration self-destruction. The sooner the Bush administration realizes its goals of attacking Iran, Syria, and the Shia militias in Lebanon, the more likely the administration will collapse in the maelstrom before it achieves a viable police state.

to call what roberts has to say "sobering" would be a serious understatement... besides feeling chilled to the bone, i also find perverse satisfaction in knowing that someone of roberts' caliber shares my viewpoint... i guess it helps to think i am not alone in the looney bin...

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DoJ and Bushco's approach to internal dissent

in common useage, "shooting the messenger" simply means giving a hard time to the bearers of bad news... it has become clear, however, in the going-on six years of the bushco reign, that shooting the messenger has taken on a much more literal meaning... from government scientists decrying global warming to political opponents to justice department professionals doing their sworn duty, the specific directions as outlined in the karl rove playbook say nothing less than "destroy the messenger..."

james comey, the former deputy attorney general under ashcroft who dared to disagree with the wiretapping program, detainee interrogation methods, the waiver of the geneva conventions and the authorization of torture, was put in an untenable position... derided, isolated and ridiculed, he finally threw in the towel and left for a private practice... his farewell speech to his doj colleagues is a gem...

On Aug. 15, 2005, in his farewell speech, Comey urged his colleagues to defend the integrity and honesty of the department.
“I expect that you will appreciate and protect an amazing gift you have received as an employee of the Department of Justice,” Comey said. “It is a gift you may not notice until the first time you stand up and identify yourself as an employee of the Department of Justice and say something – whether in a courtroom, a conference room or a cocktail party – and find that total strangers believe what you say next.

“That gift – the gift that makes possible so much of the good we accomplish – is a reservoir of trust and credibility, a reservoir built for us, and filled for us, by those who went before – most of whom we never knew. They were people who made sacrifices and kept promises to build that reservoir of trust.

“Our obligation – as the recipients of that great gift – is to protect that reservoir, to pass it to those who follow, those who may never know us, as full as we got it. The problem with reservoirs is that it takes tremendous time and effort to fill them, but one hole in a dam can drain them.

“The protection of that reservoir requires vigilance, an unerring commitment to truth, and a recognition that the actions of one may affect the priceless gift that benefits all. I have tried my absolute best – in matters big and small – to protect that reservoir and inspire others to protect it.”

it's absolutely appalling to me that the very type of public servants that we WANT and DESPERATELY NEED are the ones being forced out...

(thanks to robert parry and consortium news...)

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Bolton is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee...? Say it isn't so...

Example

o-o-o-o-oh n-o-o-o-o... the man who wants to decapitate the u.n. building in new york is nominated for the PEACE PRIZE...? there is no justice in this world...

Two Americans who played a major role in exposing Iran's secret nuclear weapons plans have been nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.

United Nations Ambassador John Bolton and longtime Iran investigator Kenneth R. Timmerman were nominated for their repeated warnings and documentation of Iran's secret nuclear buildup and revealing Iran's "repeated lying" and false reports to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Bolton was formerly U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security and was author of the Proliferation Security Initiative, an international effort to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction and related materials, which led to the eventual breakup of the secret nuclear network directed by Pakistan nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan. Bolton repeatedly warned of Iran's nuclear plans.

Timmerman, an independent researcher, has written extensively on Iran's nuclear activities for more than 20 years. His report for the Simon Wiesenthal Center in 1992 first detailed Iran's ties to A.Q. Khan. His most recent book, "Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran," was published last year.

great... nothing like being nominated for a nobel prize to validate serial abuse as foreign policy...

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

New Orleans Mayor seeks foreign aid from Jordan and France

ray nagin and his city desperately need help... with bush's promises apparently empty, hizzoner is doing the right thing - putting his city first... my piece of unsolicited advice...? pick up the phone and call hugo chavez...
"I know we had a little disappointment earlier with some signals we're getting from Washington but the international community may be able to fill the gap," Nagin said when a delegation of French government and business officials passed through on Friday to explore potential business partnerships.

Jordan's King Abdullah also visited New Orleans on Friday and Nagin said he would encourage foreign interests to help redevelop some of the areas hardest hit by the storm.

"France can take Treme. The king of Jordan can take the Lower Ninth Ward," he said, referring to two of the city's neighborhoods.

Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city and killed more than 1,300 people in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The Bush administration has pledged billions of dollars to Katrina victims but five months after the storm, New Orleans remains largely in ruins.

Nagin said his message to President George W. Bush would be that the federal government needs to refocus on the devastated area.

"We need your undivided attention over the next six months," he said. "We need backup. We need for you to make the words that you spoke in Jackson Square a reality."

don't hold your breath, ray...

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Privatization: on the scene in Macedonia



just since i've been here - friday, yesterday and today - the city center of skopje has been completely snarled by roadblocks thrown up by those protesting the planned sale of the national electric company's distribution system to a foreign investor...
The protests against sale of ESM Distribution (ElektroStopanstvo na Makedonija www.esmak.com.mk) that resumed today at Skopje's streets have been organized by "misinformed" citizens, said Macedonian government, proposing a meeting for clarifying the company's privatization process, the Macedonian Makfax agency reports. "We propose a meeting aimed at explaining the facts in order to rectify your confusion caused by false information", Government's spokesman Agim Jonuz told the representatives of the civic association Voice of Light.

[...]

Last week, the three-day protests proved stronger than those organized last month, mobilizing greater attendance and causing heavier traffic congestion. Hundreds of thousands of vehicles were forced to take long detours to reach their destinations.

[...]

The Ambulance Service was the only one to raise objections, since the traffic jam caused delayed call responses. Nevertheless, the employees underlined that their vehicles were never denied passing through. In the meantime, the government braces for the final stage of the ESM public bidding procedure.

what many of my fellow citizens in the u.s. fail to understand is that, while our u.s. government piously preaches the benefits of private enterprise and pushes privatization in former command economies at every turn, the good people in these countries have gotten consistently, repeatedly and seriously ripped off... when macedonia privatized its telecom, there was an enormous cash surge into the country but over 25% of it disappeared into the private pockets of the "usual suspects..." shortly thereafter, the average monthly phone bill increased from 500-600 denars to 1500-1800 denars... and that's just ONE example... the citizens are, quite understandably, fed up, not only with their government's corruption but also with the holier-than-thou crap that so often gets shoved down their throats...

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Oops... My bad... Don't forget Glenn Greenwald

when i posted earlier today about a good place to keep on top of the senate judiciary committee's hearings into the nsa spying business, i completely forgot about glenn greenwald... greenwald's an accomplished first amendment attorney and he's been attending the hearings and blogging non-stop... visit his site, unclaimed territory, for some excellent coverage...

here's a snippet from a post glenn has up today at alternet...

Chief among the critical values at stake in this week's congressional hearings to investigate these actions, is whether Congress, the representative body of the people and the branch designated by the Constitution to make the laws, still has any meaningful role to play in our system of government.

imho, congress might just as well have been dissolved immediately following alito's confirmation...

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"Compassionate conservative" - just another size XXL lie to cover social darwinism

there was never the slightest intent to be "compassionate" or to address social needs... the agenda from the get-go was to do the norquist shrink job so that any social compact, explicit or implicit, was small enough to "drown in the bathtub..."
George W. Bush ran for office as a "compassionate conservative," arguing that Americans did not have to choose between huge tax cuts and a government that would do its part to address social needs like education and health care.

Now into his sixth year in the White House, Mr. Bush offered a budget on Monday that showed more clearly than ever the inexorable limits of that political promise.

Mr. Bush is asking Congress, first and foremost, to make his tax cuts permanent and to increase spending on national security, while looking for savings in popular domestic programs like Medicare and vocational education. The tradeoffs, to his critics, are achingly clear, and unfair.

if you aren't well-to-do in the u.s., tough shit... you obviously don't have the right stuff or are just plain lazy or both... get out of the way of those who are smart, smart enough to claw their way to the top and amass riches on the backs of everyone else...
To many Democrats, he appears intent on extending and expanding his tax cuts precisely to create the situation the government faces now, leaving it to choose between tolerating large deficits or cutting into domestic programs in a way that begins to alter the social contract.

c'mon, nyt... "begins to alter" is putting it mildly... it's being lobotomized, deliberately and completely and there's not a goddam thing compassionate about it...

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Stick with the Prez - OR ELSE...!

jeralyn reports on how karl rove is threatening senate judiciary committee repubs about going against george on the nsa spying issue... first, such a tactic is completely predictable... rove's m.o. has always been the most vicious kind of hardball... second, it shows just how nervous the wh is about this issue... if the committee's assessment of bush's actions is that he is in violation of fisa, it's AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE and such a pity that would be...

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The spy hearings

too much to either re-cap or post and still have any degree of comprehension or thoroughness... one of the better blogs covering the sequence of yesterday's hearings and keeping things in context is think progress... scroll down through their posts and you'll have a pretty good idea of what's taken place...

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India chafing at U.S. nuclear restrictions and the price of being "non-aligned"

the seemingly smooth ride surrounding india's decision to abandon its non-aligned status and make its bed with the u.s. has evidently come to an end... given the u.s. penchant for making agreements in order to establish control mechanisms over the other party, this was probably inevitable...
The chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) has sent shock waves through the Indian establishment by accusing the United States of ''changing the goalpost'' while finalising a far-reaching, one-of-its-kind nuclear cooperation deal with India, initialled last July.

[...]

Anil Kakodkar, head of the AEC, which runs both the civilian and military nuclear programmes of India, told the 'Indian Express' newspaper in an exclusive interview published Monday that he interprets the Jul. 18 agreement to mean that the determination of which facilities are civilian and which are military ''has to be made by the Indians. India's strategic interests will have to be decided by India and not by others.''

The U.S., however, wants a say in deciding the civilian-military separation. Negotiators, led by assistant secretary of state Nicholas Burns, have told India that for the separation to be 'credible', the civilian list must include all facilities, including experimental and research installations, which are not directly related to nuclear weapons.

[...]

Kakodkar made his statement without prior authorisation from the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office, which has been dealing directly with the India-US nuclear issue. His interview confirms what has long been known: the AEC was extremely uncomfortable with the nuclear deal, and was dragged, kicking and screaming, into endorsing it. It is now confronting Manmohan Singh.

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"Another provocation from that nest of cockroaches and excuse me for offending the cockroaches"

cnni this morning has a story about a news crawler put up by the u.s. interest section on the outside of its building in havana featuring items like "why aren't cubans allowed to stay in tourist hotels..." fidel is pissed (see his quote in the title) and why wouldn't he be...? can you imagine the shoe on the other foot...? cuba may have its problems and the biggest of those problems may be fidel but where do we get off flipping him the digit in his own country...? unbelievable...
Scores of giant black flags bearing single white stars were raised Monday outside the United States mission, remembering the thousands of people Cuba says have been killed in violence against the island and blocking an electronic sign on the building's facade.

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Argentina logs a first: a homeless woman hosts a TV talk show

how totally cool... i haven't seen this and, in fact, didn't know it existed... i'll have to tune in when i get back next week...
A plaza in a residential neighbourhood of the Argentine capital has become "Stellita's Living Room" for the first TV programme in the world hosted by a homeless person.

Stella Cros, 70, has lived on the streets for nearly two decades. But now she is interviewing special guests, columnists and an astrologer, and presenting live music, as a talk show host.

The programme, "En el living de Stellita", is taped in a square in the fashionable Belgrano district of Buenos Aires. The set basically consists of park benches and two sofas brought in for the occasion, as well as a doorframe, through which the guests arrive.

"Welcome to my living room," says Stellita as the cameras begin to roll and her guests arrive. "I am here in this plaza which has already given me shelter before," she adds.

[...]

"A show like this gives Argentine television a level of truth and stripped-down reality that is like a balm in a parched wasteland of ideas," he [psychologist Tom Lupo, another guest on the show] commented.

[...]

Poverty rates skyrocketed in Argentina following the late 2001 economic, financial and political meltdown, plunging close to 60 percent of the country's 37 million inhabitants below the poverty line. In the last two years, under the government of left-leaning President Néstor Kirchner, this figure has dropped to around 40 percent.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Oh, BOY...! NEW BOMBS...! Now, THAT'S exciting news...!

shit... i could have gone for years and years without reading a story like this...
For the first time in more than 20 years, U.S. nuclear-weapons scientists are designing a new H-bomb, the first of probably several new nuclear explosives on the drawing boards.

If they succeed, in perhaps 20 or 25 more years, the United States would have an entirely new nuclear arsenal, and a highly automated fac- tory capable of turning out more warheads as needed, as well as new kinds of warheads.

"We are on the verge of an exciting time," the nation's top nuclear weapons executive, Linton Brooks, said last week at Lawrence Livermore weapons design laboratory.

Teams of roughly 20 scientists and engineers at the nation's two laboratories for nuclear-explosive design — Livermore and Los Alamos in New Mexico — are in a head-to-head competition to offer designs for the first of the new thermonuclear explosives, termed "reliable replacement warheads" or RRWs.

head-to-head competition... sounds like the olympics... i wonder if the winner will get a medal...
Designers are aiming for bombs that will be simpler, easier to maintain over decades and, if they fell into terrorists' hands, able to be remotely destroyed or rendered useless. Once the designs are unveiled in September, the Bush administration and Congress could face a major choice in the future of the U.S. arsenal: Do they keep maintaining the existing, tested weapons or begin diverting money and manpower to developing the newly designed but untested weapons?

hot damn...! could we see the return of the nuclear weapons-testing era too...!?!?

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Something to Think About

In a recent article appearing online at Newsweek, Mark Hosenball discusses one of the "theoretical" plenary powers given to the president in that magical authorization to conduct the seemingly perpetual Terrorist Wars. That, of course, would be the absolute right granted to Mr. Bush to snuff out a terrorist suspect on U.S. soil. According to Steven Bradbury, acting head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, during a "closed door" briefing of Congress members, Bush could, if necessary, kill an Al Qaeda suspect on U.S. soil if the president so ordered.

The article continues, "University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein says the post-9/11 congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force against Al-Qaeda empowered the president to kill 9/11 perpetrators, or people who assisted their plot, whether they were overseas or inside the United States." It goes on to add the inferred caveat from Mr. Sunstein that it would be a bit more tricky to do it inside the U.S.

On the official side of the debate, however, intel-czar John Negroponte and FBI director Robert Meuller, deny that a U.S. agency was authorized to kill an Al-Qaeda linked person within the U.S., official side in this case meaning for public consumption?

Well, that makes me breathe easier knowing that our officials are willing to pull out all the stops if they form suspicions about possible terrorist plots.

Question: Why do we have drug czars and intel czars in the U.S.? Is our government paying nostalgic homage to old Russian dictators?

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Are the Dems expert at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory...?

steve clemons posts a ward sutton cartoon that would certainly lead one to think so...

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Congress upset enough about Bushco's claim of absolute power to consider a Constitutional amendment...?

v-e-e-e-ery interesting...
As Capitol Hill prepares to battle the White House over George W. Bush's expanding war powers, moderate Senators on both sides of the aisle are quietly considering a range of options that would attempt at the very least to delineate the President's authority, if not roll it back. Bush's claims of wartime license are so great-the White House and Justice Department have argued that the Commander in Chief's pursuit of national security cannot be constrained by any laws passed by Congress, even when he is acting against U.S. citizens-that some Senators are considering a constitutional amendment to limit his powers, Massimo Calabresi and Timothy J. Burger report in Monday's Time [magazine].

(thanks to raw story...)

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Shooting the (Congressional Research Service) messenger

how many times do we have to sit by and watch bushco and its toadies denigrate, belittle, besmirch and otherwise attempt to destroy the credibility of those who bring bad news or don't line up precisely with its twisted world view...? such a sad, sad bunch of people...

georgia10 at kos details bushco's proxy attack on the crs, an organization with a bipartisan, objective reputation as solid as the gao, for debunking the administration's so-called justifications for warrantless domestic spying...

On Feb. 1st, Representative Peter Hoekstra, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to the Director of the Congressional Research Service whining about how Cumming's [Alfred Cumming, the CRS Specialist in Intelligence and National Security] reports were partisan in nature and not based in law or fact. The letter was the last in a series of attacks on Cumming. On January 25th, the Washington Times ran a hit piece on Cumming, saying he was a registered Democrat, a former Democratic staffer, and he committed the gravest of sins--donating some money to Kerry's presidential campaign. Right wing blogs have picked up on this, and FOX News has done its part as the obligatory megaphone for baseless propaganda.

This modus operandi is standard for the right-wing, but the fact that they resort to attacking a superbly qualified researcher proves they're scared shitless. Just like the smears with Kerry, Wilson, Murtha, and countless others, anytime the right-wing pounds the table this hard, it means they sure have something devastating to hide.

all orchestrated, no doubt, by the dark lord himself, the one-who- must-not-be-named, karl rove...

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

This is far beyond skimming a little off the top

The NYT headline reads: Oil Graft Fuels the Insurgency, Iraq and U.S. Say. Such language implies that there is a little bit of bribery going on, sort of to be expected in a place as tumultuous as Iraq is right now. But then you get into the article and find out it is the problem is deeply entrenched and huge.
Iraqi and American officials say they are seeing a troubling pattern of government corruption enabling the flow of oil money and other funds to the insurgency and threatening to undermine Iraq's struggling economy.

[...]

In one example, a sitting member of the Iraqi National Assembly [Meshaan al-Juburi] has been indicted in the theft of millions of dollars meant for protecting a critical oil pipeline against attacks and is suspected of funneling some of that money to the insurgency, ...

and...
On Saturday, the director of a major oil storage plant near Kirkuk was arrested with other employees and several local police officials, and charged with helping to orchestrate a mortar attack on the plant on Thursday, a Northern Oil Company employee said.

An attack on the company he was in charge of??? Oh, but there is more.
Ali Allawi, Iraq's finance minister, estimated that insurgents reap 40 percent to 50 percent of all oil-smuggling profits in the country. Offering an example of how illicit oil products are kept flowing on the black market, he said that the insurgency had infiltrated senior management positions at the major northern refinery in Baiji and routinely terrorized truck drivers there. This allows the insurgents and their confederates to tap the pipeline, empty the trucks and sell the oil or gas themselves.

"It's gone beyond Nigeria levels now where it really threatens national security," Mr. Allawi said of the oil industry. "The insurgents are involved at all levels."

[...]

Senior officials in Iraq's Oil Ministry have been repeatedly cited in the Iraqi press as complaining about what they call an "oil smuggling mafia" that not only siphons profits from the oil industry but also is said to control the allocation of administrative posts in the ministry.

And...
An Iraqi Army battalion commander Mr. Juburi hired was arrested recently and accused of organizing insurgent attacks on the pipeline, said a high-ranking Iraqi official who is close to the investigation.

And for a little comic relief...
The reports of corruption have set off a major reform effort in recent months, with American advisers assisting internal investigations and promoting new rules like requiring financial disclosure forms for government officials.

Yeah, we are so good at controlling government corruption. Heh.

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When in doubt, bring up Hitler and the Third Reich

i swear to god, i have NEVER heard more references to nazi germany in my life than i have during the past few years... somebody compares somebody else to hitler, lots of somebodies start hollering "foul" and, two weeks later, it happens all over again...

now, we're treated to the absurd spectacle of rummy raising the spectre of an islamic "empire" and comparing it to the rise of the third reich - AT THE SAME TIME that muslims around the world are burning embassies in protest over cartoon depictions of mohammed...

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is warning that Western countries must increase their defense budgets in order to prevent the rise of a "global extremist Islamic empire" that could be as deadly as Hitler's Third Reich.

[...]

"During the 1920s, few people took seriously what some characterized as the mad ravings of a failed painter's book, Mein Kampf," Rumsfeld said. "Similarly, most people earlier ignored the excited utterances of an exiled lawyer -- a so-called rabble rouser -- named Lenin, who had published the pamphlet, 'What is to be Done?'

"But imagine," he posited, "if we could go back today, knowing what we know now about Adolph Hitler and Lenin, to warn the world about those two individuals before they spawned their movements and before literally tens of millions of human beings on this earth were victims -- were killed?"

sometimes, i wake up in the morning and am convinced that the world i thought i lived in has been replaced by some bizarre alternate universe where everything still looks the same but, underneath, is totally different...

what rummy and bushco really want, of course, is for all of us to be AFRAID, VERY, VERY AFRAID... screw 'em all... i ain't living my life in fear...

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Thank you, Betty Friedan

It's a shame that so many young women (and some older ones as well) don't know what broad shoulders they stand on. No pun intended. We just assume the rights we take for granted have always been there. A paragraph jumped out at me from Betty Friedan's NYT obit.
Though in later years, some feminists dismissed Ms. Friedan's work as outmoded, a great many aspects of modern life that seem routine today — from unisex Help Wanted ads to women in politics, medicine, the clergy and the military — are the direct result of the hard-won advances she helped women attain.

I remember those "Help Wanted - Men" "Help Wanted - Women" ads. Men got to be mechanics, carpenters, truck drivers, doctors, college professors. Women could be babysitters, nurses, secretaries and school teachers. All low paying jobs designed to tide her over until Prince Charming came along. And then welcome to second-class citizenship: if you were a married woman you couldn't own property in your own name, establish your own credit, etc. Even after a divorce, the law continued to give Prince Charming control over his ex-wife's life.

I remember my mother wanting to go back to her maiden name after divorcing my step-father and getting all manner of grief from the authorities about it. She was asked if she had her ex-husband's permission! This was in the early 70's. Holy Christ. They wouldn't let her do it. But, they would let her create a hyphenated version of her name using her maiden name and his. Gack. She did that for a few years and then quietly dropped the drunken bum's name.

I also remember how society looked at my mother, a divorced woman. Too bad she had to support those kids, all she needed was a good "servicing" and she would be fine.

It was women like Betty Friedan that helped open the door for my mother to become a computer programmer in the late 70's. She rode feminism's wave, though sadly, I doubt that she would verbally admit it now, but it's the truth. Yes, Mom got where she is on her own power, but if it hadn't been for women like Betty Friedan, there wouldn't have been a wave to ride.

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What's the death of a few miners compared to corporate profits...?

bushco has made it clear from the very start, if you're a working stiff or, worse yet, poor, you deserve your fate cuz if you really had what it takes, you would be on top of the pile, not the bottom, and you certainly wouldn't be poor...
Federal safety officials, faced with the death of two more West Virginia miners, are asking the coal industry to "stand down for safety" tomorrow to check the nation's mines for lethal working conditions. This smacks of public relations more than worker protection. The safety agency, notorious for its political appointees from the coal industry, is also suddenly finding more inspectors for West Virginia, which has suffered 16 miner deaths recently.

The tragedies have laid bare the passivity and pro-industry bias in the Bush administration's stewardship of the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Last month, the chief of the now-galvanized agency cavalierly announced more pressing business and walked out of a Congressional hearing into the initial West Virginia deaths, even as shocked lawmakers still had key questions unanswered.

social darwinism at its finest...

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