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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 02/12/2006 - 02/19/2006
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Some questions are so massive in their implications, I almost don't want answers

well, that's not really true... i DO want answers but the answers i think i'm eventually gonna hear are going to rock my country and the world to its very roots... at least maybe then we can get on with the business of making this a decent world to live in...
The gravest indictment of the American news media is that George W. Bush has gutted the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter – yet this extraordinary story does not lead the nation’s newspapers and the evening news every day.

Nor does the press corps tie Bush’s remarkable abrogation of both U.S. and international law together in any coherent way for the American people. At best, disparate elements of Bush’s authoritarian powers are dealt with individually as if they are not part of some larger, more frightening whole.

What’s even odder is that the facts of this historic power grab are no longer in serious dispute. The Bush administration virtually spelled out its grandiose vision of Bush’s powers during the debates over such issues as Jose Padilla’s detention, Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court nomination and the disclosure of warrantless wiretaps.

For instance, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has defended the wiretapping program in part by citing the inherent powers of the President to override laws during war time, an argument that the administration also has applied to detentions without trial, abuse of prisoners, launching foreign military operations and committing extra-judicial assassinations.

All Bush has to do, it seems, is deem someone an “enemy combatant” or an “affiliate” of some terrorist group and that person’s life and liberty are delivered into Bush’s hands, without any impartial evaluation of the evidence.

oddly enough, i don't find it "odd..." pattern recognition is my forté and when i look at all of the pieces, they make a perfectly logical pattern... and, i know for a fact that i'm not the only one that sees this pattern... unfortunately, the pattern is so profoundly disturbing that, in fact, it's easier to just dismiss it as too far-fetched to be believable... but... but... as each day passes, i'm more and more convinced that what i'm seeing is devastatingly real...

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Reno Gazette Journal reports that Cheney's shooting foiled attack

the reno gazette journal must have a sense of humor... i'm actually only guessing that they have a sense of humor... esteemed son sent it along with this question attached:

"Please tell me that this is a joke."
Shooting foiled attack: White House

Vice President Dick Cheney's shooting of a supposed Republican backer on a Texas ranch this week was a positive step in the nation's war on terror, a White House spokesman said today. The spokesman blamed "a few discontented Democrats" for using the incident for political gain, but said President Bush will present Cheney with a prestigious award for his part in spoiling an unspecified "terrorist plot."

"It's been established that (shooting victim) Harry Whittington was to blame," Scott McClellan said, referring to administration claims that Whittington, wearing an orange vest and crashing through brush, "broke protocol" by approaching the vice president from behind during a hunt.

"Our intelligence indicates that Mr. Whittington may not have been who he presented himself to be," McClellan said. "Had the vice president not acted, innocent American quail could have been killed."

McClellan declined to give details, citing national security concerns. White House sources speaking on condition of anonymity said the man they knew as an ally of the administration may be an al Qaeda lieutenant named Pulin Yerchain. Central Intelligence Agency reports suggest Yerchain infiltrated the Texas Republican party as early as 1950 and used hefty political donations to rise to a position of trust.


McClellan labelled "not worth a response" suggestions by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, that Cheney was "a secrecy-obsessed gun nut." He also condemned as "bordering on treason" charges from firearms experts that Cheney had broken a basic rule of hunter safety. The National Rifle Association's Web site warns that hunters should "never fire in a direction in which there are people or any other potential for a mishap."

"That's the NRA," McClellan said. "We can speculate about their motives, but what's important is that the vice president was able to save himself and the American people by his quick action."

McClellan said Bush will present Cheney with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, in a televised ceremony at the Daytona 500 NASCAR race this Sunday.

the truly unbelievable thing about this story and the current state of the nation is that we could even CONSIDER the possibility of it NOT being a joke...

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Delay of info release on shooting incident part of deliberate strategy to discredit the media and assert power and privilege

i don't think there's any argument to be made to the contrary...
My friends, Dick Cheney did not make a mistake when he routed around the press. He followed procedure-- his procedure. As Bill Plante, White House reporter for CBS News said at Public Eye, "No other vice president in the White Houses I've covered has had the ability to write his own rules the way this one has. He operates in his own sphere, with the apparent acceptance of the president."

Cheney has long held the view that the powers of the presidency were dangerously eroded in the 1970s and 80s. The executive "lost" perogatives it needed to gain back for the global struggle with Islamic terror. "Watergate and a lot of the things around Watergate and Vietnam both during the 70's served, I think, to erode the authority I think the president needs to be effective, especially in the national security area," he said in December.

again, nothing new here... this has been the m.o. since day one... bush, cheney and their mouthpieces have repeatedly talked about "taking their message directly to the people..." that strategy has been hugely effective... after all, at the most fundamental level, it's a lot harder for juan and juanita to face down the president of the united states than it is for someone like helen thomas who has made it her profession to get to the truth... and where does this take us...? why, to this very familiar scene...
The people yelling questions at Scott McClellan in the briefing room, like the reporters in the Washington bureaus who cover the president, are in Cheney's calculations neither a necessary evil, nor a public good. They are an unnecessary evil and a public bad-- ex-influentials who can be disrespected without penalty.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

A legislative proposal by Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine to exclude Bush’s NSA wiretapping program from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

[W]e don’t want to have any kind of debate about whether it’s constitutional or not constitutional.

oh, mike, mike, mike... of COURSE we don't want a debate about whether or not nsa spying is constitutional... why in the world would we want THAT...? such a terrible waste of time and energy talking about whether or not the president of the united states is a criminal... why, EVEN president bush or, should i say, ESPECIALLY president bush, doesn't want to engage in such a fruitless activity...
President Bush said today, “I mean, a lot of lawyers looked at this, and they said, you bet, Mr. President, it’s legal.”

doesn't it make you feel good that your elected representatives always have your best interests at heart no matter what else might get in the way...?

(thanks to think progress...)

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Glenn Greenwald isn't discouraged by the "mewling, slavish and indescribably dishonest Pat Roberts."

there are a few really thoughtful, articulate, rational and all-around confidence-inspiring folks out there who can regularly and reliably shape my thinking and iron out the nasty wrinkles... glenn greenwald is one of 'em...
There is nothing surprising – and nothing even remotely fatal – about the fact that someone like Pat Roberts engaged in slimy maneuvering in order to comply with Dick Cheney’s decree that there be no investigation by that Committee into this scandal. If that little stunt is enough to make people say that the whole thing is over and the Administration won, then it means that we weren’t prepared to fight very hard over this matter.

The reality is that the more the Administration fights to suppress investigations and conceal relevant facts, the more fuel is added to this fire. Every presidential scandal in history has been exacerbated by the cover-up component. Opponents of the Clinton Administration had some of their most compelling political P.R. victories when the Administration invoked precepts of "Executive privilege" in order to block interrogation and to avoid the disclosure of documents.

Rather than viewing each obstructionist step by the Administration as some sign of our inevitable defeat and doom, we ought to see it and use it as what it is -- a sign that, contrary to their bravado, the Administration is petrified of this scandal and is doing everything possible to prevent Americans -- through their Congress and the courts -- from discovering the truth.

ok... i'll buy that... but, i gotta tell ya, glenn, it's goddam discouraging to follow this shit day after day after day for six years, watching outrage after outrage after outrage surface, and still have the only light at the end of the tunnel be that of the oncoming train...

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The fall 2006 election scenario

rhg at daily kos offers up what, imho, is a very plausible scenario for how the r's will scheme their way into retaining their chokehold on u.s. citizens by winning the 2006 elections... it might not play out precisely this way but anyone who has any comprehension whatsoever of the political strategy of he-who-must-not-be-named, karl rove, can immediately grasp the familiar pattern...

this is a teaser but, to grasp the totality of the nightmare, go read the whole thing...

This fall, the Democratic Party will be steamrolled into defeat. The Republicans, whose sole remaining positive poll numbers regard their conduct of the so-called "War on Terrorism," will, once again, leverage that into victory. And they will do that by a cynical, destructive, yet absolutely brilliant act of political ju-jitsu: they will declare victory in Iraq.

i don't think it's a question of "if..." the question for me is do we have any power to stop it...?

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What is this, the Soviet Union?

Now, not only will law-breaking by the administration not be investigated, anyone trying to bring it to the light of day will be prosecuted.

The common denominator here? Senator Roberts (R-Kansas)

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Speaking of Sen. Pat Roberts...

the nyt apparently shares the view skadi expressed in the previous post...
Is there any aspect of President Bush's miserable record on intelligence that Senator Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is not willing to excuse and help to cover up?

For more than a year, Mr. Roberts has been dragging out an investigation into why Mr. Bush presented old, dubious and just plain wrong intelligence on Iraq as solid new proof that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was in league with Al Qaeda. It was supposed to start after the 2004 election, but Mr. Roberts was letting it die of neglect until the Democrats protested by forcing the Senate into an unusual closed session last November.

Now Mr. Roberts is trying to stop an investigation into Mr. Bush's decision to allow the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without getting the warrants required by a 27-year-old federal law enacted to stop that sort of abuse.

Mr. Roberts had promised to hold a committee vote yesterday on whether to investigate. But he canceled the vote, and then made two astonishing announcements. He said he was working with the White House on amending the 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, to permit warrantless spying. And then he suggested that such a change would eliminate the need for an inquiry.

the title of the editorial, however, doesn't quite tell the story...

doing the dirty work has way too mild a connotation... aiding and abetting criminal and unconstitutional actions comes closer to it...

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

A thousand little cuts

Jesus Gawd Almighty. It looks like the Republicans are going to roll over for Bush one more time. Senator Roberts is acting like he has struck a deal with the White House to avoid an investigation into the NSA wiretapping. The House, on the other hand, may investigate, but their own Republicans can't seem to agree on whether they are really going to investigate the actual law-fucking-breaking going on, or whether or not they are just going to see if the FISA law just needs some tweaking so Bush can go on doing what he has been doing for the past five years: flipping a big fat bird at Congress and the Courts.

On the home front, we have nearly three years into the process of my son-in-law getting his green card. Just when we think we are done and all is ready to be finalized, they throw us another curve. Latest? The interviewer, on official letterhead, requested of my son-in-law:

"Please submit an orginal letter of employment for your joint sponsor, ####. This letter must state her length of employment, current salary and prospect for future employment.

Please submit copies of her earning statements for the past six months.

Seems simple enough. Okay, I email back east for my employer to send the letter. I get together all my pay stubs for the last six months. The letter arrives. Smart employer sent two, on letterhead, with her business card attached. I put all documents together and hand off to daughter and son-in-law. She runs it by the Reno DHS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. According to them, though I had done EVERYTHING in the letter, I was supposed to be a mind reader and know that my letter would not be complete if it did not include all the information on a separate piece of paper THEY HANDED HER TODAY. This paper looks like it has been Xeroxed a gazillion official letterhead or government document number either. It says (and yes, it is all in upper case):




The thing is, the letter says what I make, and that ain't part-time pay. It says the likelihood of employment is good. AND, the HR director tells them that they can CALL her if they have additional questions. The pay stubs include the hours I work, my SSN, etc. So, I am going to have to get on the phone in the morning with USCIS and sit on hold and find out what exactly they need from me.

I guess this wouldn't feel so sucky if the rest of the world were okay. But my country is going down the tubes and this is just one more cut.

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"I'm satisfied with the explanation he gave." Of COURSE he is...! Why would he want to criticize his boss...?

why the hell would you want to risk pissing off your boss by criticizing him in public...? bush is nobody's fool...
Texas authorities closed the investigation into Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident Thursday without bringing any charges. President Bush said Cheney had handled the situation "just fine."

"I'm satisfied with the explanation he gave," Bush said, making his first public comments about Cheney's accidental shooting of 78-year-old attorney Harry Whittington while aiming for a quail. Bush said the vice president's explanation was "strong and powerful."

The administration was eager to put to rest a public relations firestorm arising from Cheney's failure to publicly disclose Saturday's accident until the next day. The episode had knocked the White House off stride and distracted attention from Bush's agenda.

aw, geeeez... "distracted attention from bush's agenda..." oh, man, what a pile o'shit... bush's agenda is CHENEY'S agenda and it takes only 5 letters to spell it out: P - O - W - E - R...!!

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And hard on the heels of the Gitmo report, the new Abu Ghraib photo story is getting legs

ya know, it's tough when liars, criminals, sadists and war-mongers can't seem to catch a break - other than, of course, from the entire u.s. traditional media establishment, the u.s. congress and the american people... if those nasty little watchdog groups like the united nations high commission for human rights and the international committee of the red cross would only stop sticking their noses in where they don't belong...
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday the latest images of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison showed clear violations of international humanitarian law.

However, the Swiss-based body, whose confidential reports have previously accused the U.S. military of using tactics "tantamount to torture" on inmates at the Baghdad jail, declined to say whether it would raise the issue again with Washington.

An Australian television station broadcast what it said were previously unpublished images of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the facility, fuelling Arab anger against the United States.

"We are shocked and dismayed at the mistreatment and abuse displayed in these images," ICRC spokeswoman Dorothea Krimitsas told Reuters in Geneva.

"The type of treatment in these images -- video or photos -- very clearly violates the rules of international humanitarian law which are designed to protect people detained in the context of armed conflict," she added.

oh, pish-posh and twaddle... when are they going to stop whining...?

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Close Guantanamo...? Ok, but what about all the others...?

at least this terrible blot on our nation's integrity and respect for human rights is staying visible... i'm sure bushco would like nothing better than for it to fade away... and, once again, it's the foreign media that are front-paging the story... we're so pathetic...
UN human rights investigators have called for the immediate closure of the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.

The UN report on conditions in the Cuba camp says the US should try all inmates or free them "without further delay".

Some aspects of the treatment of the 500-strong camp population amount to torture, the UN team alleges.

The US has rejected most of the allegations, saying that the five investigators never actually visited Guantanamo Bay.

It called the report's conclusions "largely without merit and not based clearly in the facts".

One of the five investigators responsible for the report, UN special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak, said that the detention of inmates for years without charge amounted to arbitrary detention.

"Those persons either have to be released immediately or they should be brought to a proper and competent court and tried for the offences they are charged with," he told the BBC.

Speaking in London before the release of the report, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said she could not endorse every recommendation made by the report - but that she could see little alternative to closing down the facility.

the u.s. can deny until hell freezes over but as long as things like the recently-released second wave of abu ghraib photos continue to trickle in, we haven't got a leg to stand on...

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Now, HERE'S a headline that would gag a maggot

so, cheney chooses the most sympathetic venue possible and the wapo plays along but throws in their own softball caveats just in case anyone (like me) might accuse them of ignoring the obvious...

consider this:

Fox News is widely viewed as more sympathetic to the Bush administration than the other networks, particularly through its high-profile talk show hosts.

or this:
Emily Rooney, a talk show host for Boston's WGBH-TV who worked with Hume at ABC News, praised Hume's intuitive grasp of politics.

Hume has "never hidden" his conservative leanings, she said, and Cheney "chose Brit Hume for a reason -- because he's always given a fair hearing to the Republican Party, which not every journalist did along the way."

pardon me while i rush to the bathroom to disgorge my breakfast coffee and bran cereal with nectarine...

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US Senator Robert C. Byrd says what needs to be said

Senator Byrd holding a pocket-sized
copy of the U.S. Constitution

yes, senator byrd has a checkered past but so do we all... on the subject of the constitution, however, he knows what he's talking about...
Is this where we are heading in the land of the free? Are secret government programs that spy on American citizens proliferating? The question is not, "Is Big Brother watching?" It is "How many Big Brothers have we?"

Ever since the New York Times revealed that President George W. Bush has personally authorized surveillance of American citizens without obtaining a warrant, I have become increasingly concerned about dangers to the people's liberty. I believe that both current law and the Constitution may have been violated -- not once, but many times -- and in ways that the Congress and the people may never know because of this White House and its penchant for control and secrecy.

We cannot continue to claim that we are a nation of laws and not of men if our laws and, indeed, even the Constitution of the United States itself, may by summarily breached because of some determination of expediency or because the President says "trust me."

i would go a wee bit further than the good senator... i think it was well before the nyt revealed the warrantless spying program that our constitution was in trouble... in fact, i can pretty much peg it to the day the appeal was filed with the supreme court to stop the florida recount, a successful maneuver to sidestep the electoral process and the first of many more aimed at seizing the reins of absolute power... it was some time ago that we abandoned the claim that we are a nation of laws... the evidence is all around us...

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I'm feeling sad

i just spent a nice evening at the movies with a few friends here in buenos aires... they wanted to see a gory slasher movie, not my thing, but i said what the hell... it turned out to be grade d-minus acting with every bit the stupidly written plot that i suspected it would have... oh, well... it was being with friends that made the evening worthwhile, not the movie... so, now, i'm back at the 'puter, looking over the day's news and, ya know what...? everything i'm reading about is just as stupid and as oozing with overwrought melodrama as what i saw sitting in sala 5, piso 1 of hoyt's general cinema at abasto... and, ya know what else...? that makes me feel very sad... my country is better than dick cheney... my country is better than george bush, karl rove, bill frist, tom delay, jack abramoff, donald rumsfeld and the rest of the criminal gang... and, yes, my country is even better than someone like that sniveling sycophant senator from minnesota, norm coleman, who got his ass handed to him by none other than "drownie" brown in the senate hearing the other day... so, when are the american people, my fellow citizens, going to wake up and toss these bastards out...? this can't be allowed to continue... it just can't...

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Nauseating... Money and power trump good government every time...

expanding a tad on skadi's previous post about agreeing with trent lott of all people, rove's threats of blacklisting seem to be working, aided and abetted by the senate majority weenie, bill frist... not only does the senate intelligence committee hearings on the nsa spying issue appear to be going down the drain, so does any effort at all toward providing good, responsible government... two items for your consideration...

item one...

Congress appeared ready to launch an investigation into the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program last week, but an all-out White House lobbying campaign has dramatically slowed the effort and may kill it, key Republican and Democratic sources said yesterday.

item two...
Four cabinet secretaries, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, an Army general and the secretary of the Army were supposed to testify Tuesday morning at hearings on matters including Hurricane Katrina and the Bush administration's proposed budget for foreign affairs.

But their invitations were rescinded and the hearings canceled when the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist of Tennessee, scheduled a marathon series of 16 votes on amendments to a pending tax bill — all of them, both parties agree, intended more to score political points than to make policy.

Ultimately, most of those votes were canceled.

so, what got weenie bill's attention instead...?
[The votes] could have been held Monday night, but that did not work for Mr. Frist. He was holding a fund-raiser at his Washington home, with President Bush as the featured guest and some of his Republican colleagues on the guest list, including the Senate whip, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The event raised $3.5 million for Republican Senate candidates.

$3.5M that, unless the senate r's line up with bushco per rove's directive, WON'T find its way into their reelection campaign funds... a senator's gotta have his priorities, dontcha know...?

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For some reason, this is really bugging me.

This article in the NYT really points up how much Cheney thinks that he is a force unto himself, sees himself, not as the #2 in command, but on equal footing with the office of the President. Of course, this comes as no surprise to those of us who have been paying attention since the day Cheney, put in charge of finding a suitable running mate for George W. Bush, chose himself.
The past three days have underscored, in public, what has always been clear in the Bush White House: Mr. Cheney plays by rules of his own making. It is the freedom that only a political figure who knows he is in his last job — he often says he will never run again — can get away with.

"What he did was not an irrational thing," said Mary Matalin, Mr. Cheney's former communications adviser, who spoke to him Sunday morning. "This was a very close friend this happened to. Everyone was shaken up about it. When I spoke to him, it was all about Harry, worrying about him," not whether he should get a statement out, or let his South Texas host tell a local newspaper.

Oh, fer cryin' out loud, this is just so much bullshit.

To others, though, it is a telling example of the cocoon Mr. Cheney has created within the White House.

Even at the most secure meetings in the White House situation room, Mr. Cheney tends to ask questions but leave the participants guessing about his own views — largely, his colleagues say they suspect, for fear of leaks. His movements, once hidden for security reasons, are now often cloaked out of habit. Several senior members of the administration said they were not told of the shooting accident until late Sunday.

Several White House officials said no one among the White House staff, including the chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., felt empowered to dictate how news of the accident would be handled.

What?? Andrew Card did not feel "empowered to dictate?" Huh? And the chain of command is where? Does Bush hold the #1 position or not? No need to answer that.

And then there is this:
Ari Fleischer, Mr. McClellan's predecessor, said Tuesday that he suspected the reason Mr. Cheney failed to say anything publicly was because he viewed the hunting trip and the accident as part of his private life, not his public one.

So, let me get this straight. A blow job in the oval office is impeachable, but potentially blowing someone's brains out is just a private matter. Got it. I know, I know. IOKIYAR.

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Oh my god...I am agreeing with Trent Lott

Oh, this is just incredible.
"I look around," Mr. Lott said, "and think, 'Am I the only one who thinks this is stupid?' "

What is this? Junior High?

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Sometimes it sucks to be a mom

We have had weird weather here in northern Nevada...unseasonably warm and even the bushes around my property were starting to wake up. Well, that has all changed. A drop of temperature by 25+ degrees and waking up to several inches of snow this morning. I work from home, so I am tucked safely on the sofa. But, Love of my Life and dearest daughter and son-in-law must navigate the 55 miles to Reno, going over some pretty treacherous roads until they get to the main interstate.

They all have directions to call me when they arrive at work safe and sound.

This is not fun.

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Big Dick a GOP problem...? Hell, no...! Big Dick a global menace...? Hell, yes...!

don't ya just love the way the traditional media chooses to ignore the implications of a situation and not see that it fully reflects, in microcosm, what has been happening to the u.s. for nearly six years...?
Some current and former White House officials said Cheney's refusal to address the issue or accept any blame has the potential to become a political problem for Bush because it reinforces the image of a secretive and above-the-law White House.

cuz, you see, it ain't just about a political problem for bush and it ain't just about reinforcing the image of a secretive and above-the-law white house... it's about a constitution that has effectively been suspended by, as larry wilkerson so aptly put it, a cabal, and a criminal one at that, who have seized power and have no intention of giving it up... their genius has been that they have made it look, to some at least, legitimate...
Mary Matalin, a Cheney adviser who has helped him deal with the shooting fallout, rejected suggestions that the White House's handling of the incident might result in political damage. "We have a history replete with evidence to the contrary," she said. "Every time we've had predictions of monumental liability, it never occurred."

aye, matey, and THAT's the ticket... no insistence on consequences, no problem...

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

FINALLY - more of the Abu Ghraib photos... From...?? Not the U.S. media... Of course not...

they're coming from australia...! can our traditional u.s. media look any worse...?
More photographs have been leaked of Iraqi citizens tortured by US soldiers at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Tonight the SBS Dateline (Australia's Special Broadcasting Service) program plans to broadcast about 60 previously unpublished photographs that the US Government has been fighting to keep secret in a court case with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Although a US judge last year granted the union access to the photographs following a freedom-of-information request, the US Administration has appealed against the decision on the grounds their release would fuel anti-American sentiment.

answer...? no... i don't think it's possible for them to look worse... and tomorrow, they will prove me wrong...

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How is it? How is what? How is it that we have a dictatorial, repressionist regime instead of a democracy?

yeah... how IS it, pray tell...?
HOW IS IT THAT the vice president of the United States can shoot and wound someone and the American public doesn't learn of it until 18 hours later -- and then only because the owner of the location where the event occurred decided the next day to tell a local reporter?

answer your own goddam question, wapo - if you have the guts...

Neither Mr. Cheney nor the White House gets to pick and choose when to disclose a shooting. Saturday's incident required immediate public disclosure -- a fact so elementary that the failure to act properly is truly disturbing in its implications.

so, SPELL OUT THE IMPLICATIONS...? but, n-o-o-o-o-o...

when the goddam, fire-breathing hell is the u.s. gonna wake up...? things have advanced so far down the pike to a totalitarian state that our so-called "elected" officials don't answer to ANYONE for ANYTHING... if we needed a moment to pinpoint precisely when it became clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that bushco disregards the law and has no compunction about doing whatever it pleases, it is this one... cheney doesn't see himself ABOVE the law, he IS the law and the law is whatever he says it is...

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Juan Cole's perspective on the latest Plame-Wilson Iran connection

like prof. cole says,
If [this] speculation were true, the scale of treason emanating from Rove and Cheney and his staff is scarcely imaginable.

nothing must stand in the way of the accrual of absolute power... nothing...
We know that Cheney, the Neocons and other factions in the Bush administration desperately wanted to get up a war against Iran so as to overthrow its government.

If the CIA was successful in a measurable way in preventing proliferation to Iran of technology required for making a nuclear weapon, and could certify as much to Congress, that very success would make it harder to justify a war on Iran.

We know that someone among the Neoconservatives also let Ahmad Chalabi know that the US had broken Iranian codes and could read that country's secret diplomatic correspondence. As anyone could have expected, Chalabi immediately told the Iranians about the US spying. The Iranians will have immediately changed their codes.

So between disrupting the work of Plame Wilson's unit at the CIA and letting the Iranians know about the broken codes, the pro-war party managed to make Iran's actual progress on nuclear research opaque to the US government. It was necessary that it be opaque if there was to be a war. Iran is actually a decade or two away from having a bomb even if everything went well. But US intelligence agencies must be less confident they know what is going on in Iran now than before the Neocons destroyed so much of the effort against Iranian proliferation. It was the US withdrawal of inspectors from Iran in 1998 that created the uncertainties that allowed Bush to invade Iraq. For warmongers, good intelligence on the enemy's capabilities is undesirable if that intelligence would get in the way of launching a war.

Still, it is just speculation.

think about what's being said here, folks... before bush took office, such stuff would have been dismissed as the ravings of a lunatic... now, we hardly blink an eye... how has it come to this...?

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Monday, February 13, 2006

I was focused on Katrina like I've not been focused on anything for a long time

and, imho, these denials are empty, false and pathetic...
The Bush administration on Monday pushed back hard against Katrina-response criticism leveled by ex-disaster agency chief Michael Brown and congressional investigators.

"I reject outright the suggestion that President Bush was anything less than fully involved," said White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff "unequivocally and strongly" rejected suggestions that his agency was preoccupied with terror threats at the expense of preparing for natural disasters.

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It's just too nice a day to focus on the crap

with the story of cheney's shooting of his hunting companion growing more bizarre by the minute, with the u.n. security council ready to take up the question of iran, with global islamic anger over the cartoon controversy still commanding media attention, with the documentation of dereliction of duty by bushco over katrina growing more solid by the minute, i think it's simply too nice a day to dwell on such gloomy news... here's something that brought a smile to my face and, from my current vantage point in the buenos aires barrio of nuñez, looking up through the trees at a beautiful blue, late afternoon, summer sky, dotted with white puffy clouds, reading this makes me even happier to be here... i'm not often in a mood to look past the terrible dilemma our world is in, but today i am, so deal with it, ok...?

In the northeastern Argentine province of Chaco, the poorest part of the country, the Storytelling Grandmothers programme has been so successful that the Ministry of Education has taken up the idea and turned it into national policy.

The programme, launched five years ago by the Mempo Giardinelli Foundation, is as simple as it is effective. It basically consists of elderly people who volunteer to read books to children.

"The aim of the programme is to help children live better lives, because reading makes for a better life," Argentine writer Mempo Giardinelli explained to IPS.

Originally intended as an activity for primary schools, it has now spread to hospitals, institutions for the disabled, soup kitchens that cater to children, orphanages and churches.

"This is our secret formula: affection, plus high-quality literature, equals children who read," Natalia Porta López, the programme coordinator, remarked to IPS.

The grandmothers make weekly visits to the school or institution assigned to them, and read a different story each time to their young audience.

"The whole activity is centred on the book itself as object. The grandmothers teach its symbolic value in the most loving and generous way, in order to encourage reading from the earliest age," the programme's founding document states.

"The image of a storytelling grandmother captures that beautiful, intimate moment when an adult opens a book and says to a child: 'I'm going to read you a story.' It's concrete, simple, and magical," said Porta López.

"This custom has been abandoned, so somebody has to do it. The 'storytelling grandmother' is a symbolic figure. Anyone who is interested can take on this role and reconstruct that defining moment, women or men, of any age," she explained.

now tell me that doesn't give you the warm fuzzies...

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Iraq is an on-going disaster but, let's not forget, the people who live there are honest-to-god human beings - just like us

juan cole pointed me to riverbend's latest post on her blog, baghdad burning... having just spent three weeks hanging out with some really decent folks in the balkans and today being greeted by a warm round of abrazos from friends welcoming me back to argentina, reading riverbend reminds me of how much we all have in common, not just as human beings but in the things we hold dear...
We were collected at my aunts house for my cousins birthday party a few days ago. J. just turned 16 and my aunt invited us for a late lunch and some cake. It was a very small gathering- three cousins- including myself- my parents, and J.’s best friend, who also happened to be a neighbor.


When it was time to blow out the candles, the electricity was out and we stood around her in the dark and sang “Happy Birthday” in two different languages. She squeezed her eyes shut briefly to make a wish and then, with a single breath, she blew out the candles. She proceeded to open gifts- bear pajamas, boy band CDs, a sweater with some sparkly things on it, a red and beige book bag… Your typical gifts for a teenager.


[T]he house was filled with strange men, yelling out orders and stomping into rooms. It was chaotic. We could see flashing lights in the garden and lights coming from the hallways.Suddenly, two of them were in the living room. We were all sitting on the sofa, near my aunt. My cousin B. was by then awake, eyes wide with fear. They were holding large lights or ‘torches’ and one of them pointed a Klashnikov at us.


Suddenly, someone called out something from outside and it was over. They began rushing to leave the house, almost as fast as they’d invaded it. Doors slamming, lights dimming. We were left in the dark once more, not daring to move from the sofa we were sitting on, listening as the men disappeared, leaving only a couple to stand at our gate.


My aunt sat sobbing quietly in the living room, T. comforting her. “Houses are no longer sacred… We can’t sleep… We can’t live… If you can’t be safe in your own house, where can you be safe? The animals… the bastards…”

We found out a few hours later that one of our neighbors, two houses down, had died. Abu Salih was a man in his seventies and as the Iraqi mercenaries raided his house, he had a heart-attack. His grandson couldn’t get him to the hospital on time because the troops wouldn’t let him leave the house until they’d finished with it. His grandson told us later that day that the Iraqis were checking the houses, but the American troops had the area surrounded and secured. It was a coordinated raid.

They took at least a dozen men from my aunts area alone- their ages between 19 and 40. The street behind us doesn’t have a single house with a male under the age of 50- lawyers, engineers, students, ordinary laborers- all hauled away by the ‘security forces’ of the New Iraq. The only thing they share in common is the fact that they come from Sunni families (with the exception of two who I'm not sure about).

We spent the day putting clothes back into closets, taking stock of anything missing (a watch, a brass letter opener, and a walkman), and cleaning dirt and mud off of carpets. My aunt was fanatic about cleansing and disinfecting everything saying it was all “Dirty, dirty, dirty…” J. has sworn never to celebrate her birthday again.

It’s almost funny- only a month ago, we were watching a commercial on some Arabic satellite channel- Arabiya perhaps. They were showing a commercial for Iraqi security forces and giving a list of numbers Iraqis were supposed to dial in the case of a terrorist attack… You call THIS number if you need the police to protect you from burglars or abductors… You call THAT number if you need the National Guard or special forces to protect you from terrorists… But…

Who do you call to protect you from the New Iraq’s security forces?

yes, indeed... who DO you call...?

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Ya gotta love Buenos Aires

i was here when this story was unfolding... come to find out, buenos aires has had numerous instances of tunneling bank robbers, so much so that many banks have installed seismic devices to detect underground disturbances... but the crooks described in this story were obviously masters of their craft... the getaway tunnel which led to the rio del la plata was even equipped with a boat... the gang was filmed on security cameras but they were, of course, carefully disguised... but, more than that, they never addressed each other by name, only calling out a meaningless code word when getting someone's attention... they also moved around only in fits and starts, like robots, to avoid being characterized by stride, gait or body conformation...
The hostage standoff was stretching into its seventh hour, with hundreds of police officers surrounding the bank. After negotiating a peculiar swap -- four hostages for some pizzas and sodas -- the captors inside seemed suspiciously quiet. So police stormed the building.

They found the 19 remaining hostages safe and sound, but the captors had vanished. A hole in the basement wall was covered with an iron lid that had been bolted shut from the other side. Later, police discovered that the hole led to a secret tunnel, which hooked into a municipal drainage system that emptied into the La Plata River. It was a clean getaway.

"Until now, in the history of Argentina there has never been a band of thieves that's had the audacity, the logistics, the preparation and the luck that this group of criminals had," a Buenos Aires provincial police investigator, Osvaldo Seisdedos, told reporters after the heist three weeks ago.

needless to say, the thieves are already the stuff of legend...
"Everyone I know is talking about it and saying the same thing -- that the people who did it are geniuses," said Salvador Peluso, 37, who works at a water-sports store across the street from the bank. "They robbed a bank without a single gunshot being fired and got away with everything. It's like a good movie."

but, while you're chuckling, keep in mind... this is argentina, not the u.s...
Many Argentines avoid bank accounts because of the financial sector's tumultuous recent history. Before the nation's economy collapsed in 2001, the value of the Argentine peso equaled the U.S. dollar's. Those who had deposited their dollars in savings accounts watched their fortunes largely disappear overnight -- the banks converted the money to pesos at the time of the collapse, and the pesos immediately lost most of their value. Throughout the country, many people vowed never to put another cent in a bank account.

In last month's crime, bank cash accounted for about $200,000 of the millions stolen, according to bank officials; the vast majority of the plunder came from the privately held boxes.

"Safe-deposit boxes seem to be an Argentine habit because people understand that banks are very insecure here," said Nydia Zingman, an attorney representing dozens of the robbery victims.

and, yes, the bank IS responsible - maybe, eventually, let's hope... and, just in case you're interested, it was a branch of banco rio...

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I hate to rub it in, but...

i got here to the house in buenos aires a little while ago after the very long haul from skopje, macedonia... it's now 9:30 a.m... the flights were easy, on-time and uneventful... i hate to rub it in (ya, right!) but it's a glorious morning - temp is about 22C, blue sky, brilliant sun, no clouds, cool breeze, birds singing and locusts buzzing in the trees... i'm sitting at the window looking out at the street, watching the neighbors sweep their sidewalks and walk back and forth from the corner store with various bags full of whatever... occasionally, a car passes by... i know... it's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it...

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dick Done It

Sooner or later, we all knew this sort of thing might happen. You mix mind boggling greed for power, the desire to kill animals for the sheer joy of it, and a duo of ultra-radical right wing nutjobs and the Dark Lord himself and you get this....from CNN. The byline reads : Cheney accidentally shoots hunting partner. Accidentally people. Yeah right. The report says that the White House waited a day to release the news. Maybe they wanted to wait while the as of yet unidentified no.3 man skipped town. Say, does that remind anyone of the private jet the White House sent around the country after 911 loading the Bin Laudin family and all the rest of Saudi royalty while the entire U.S. commercial fleet was grounded?

Question: Who wants to make a wager Cheney will get some prison time?

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Liberalism as religion?

I have read this editorial several times now, and I must say that I can't figure out if the author is trying to blame liberals for the Muslim protests or...what exactly? In his piece, Our Faith in Letting It All Hang Out, Stanley Fish seems to imply that anyone who doesn't "get" why Muslims are so upset over these cartoons, well, they are just immoral liberals.
The first tenet of the liberal religion is that everything (at least in the realm of expression and ideas) is to be permitted, but nothing is to be taken seriously. This is managed by the familiar distinction — implied in the First Amendment's religion clause — between the public and private spheres. It is in the private sphere — the personal spaces of the heart, the home and the house of worship — that one's religious views are allowed full sway and dictate behavior.

But in the public sphere, the argument goes, one's religious views must be put forward with diffidence and circumspection. You can still have them and express them — that's what separates us from theocracies and tyrannies — but they should be worn lightly. Not only must there be no effort to make them into the laws of the land, but they should not be urged on others in ways that make them uncomfortable. What religious beliefs are owed — and this is a word that appears again and again in the recent debate — is "respect"; nothing less, nothing more.

The thing about respect is that it doesn't cost you anything; its generosity is barely skin-deep and is in fact a form of condescension: I respect you; now don't bother me. This was certainly the message conveyed by Rich Oppel, editor of The Austin (Tex.) American-Statesman, who explained his decision to reprint one of the cartoons thusly: "It is one thing to respect other people's faith and religion, but it goes beyond where I would go to accept their taboos."

Clearly, Mr. Oppel would think himself pressured to "accept" the taboos of the Muslim religion were he asked to alter his behavior in any way, say by refraining from publishing cartoons depicting the Prophet. Were he to do that, he would be in danger of crossing the line between "respecting" a taboo and taking it seriously, and he is not about to do that.

So, would "Liberals" be most of the United States and the western world then? Would that include the religious right of this country? The right-wing pundits? Cuz...pretty much everyone is looking at the protests as a gross overreaction, much along the same type of reaction of the right in THIS country to, oh say, the Dixie Chicks and France, though I must admit, no French embassy was burned down, though, as I recall, there were public burnings and destruction of Dixie Chicks CDs and a dry cleaners with a French souding name was destroyed.

One of the problems with the essay is the conflation of religious traditions/faith with overall morality. Mr. Fish seems to think that they are one and the same.
This is, increasingly, what happens to strongly held faiths in the liberal state. Such beliefs are equally and indifferently authorized as ideas people are perfectly free to believe, but they are equally and indifferently disallowed as ideas that might serve as a basis for action or public policy.


But I would bet that the editors who have run the cartoons do not believe that Muslims are evil infidels who must either be converted or vanquished. They do not publish the offending cartoons in an effort to further some religious or political vision; they do it gratuitously, almost accidentally. Concerned only to stand up for an abstract principle — free speech — they seize on whatever content happens to come their way and use it as an example of what the principle should be protecting. The fact that for others the content may be life itself is beside their point.

This is itself a morality — the morality of a withdrawal from morality in any strong, insistent form. It is certainly different from the morality of those for whom the Danish cartoons are blasphemy and monstrously evil. And the difference, I think, is to the credit of the Muslim protesters and to the discredit of the liberal editors.

What? We should give them credit??? This makes them more moral than the rest of us??? This is where Mr. Fish conflates religious tenets with morality. They are not one and the same. Muslims believe an artistic depiction of Mohammed is blasphemy. Fine. They can believe that until the end of time. But as I see it, that is not a moral tenet. Don't murder. Don't cheat. Don't steal. Don't rip off the poor. These are moral tenets on which all religions and even athiests can agree. These should indeed be used to fashion the laws that govern us all.

And yes, there does come a point where we say, in our secular government, "Yes, we do respect your religious belief that says it is immoral for women to be uncovered in public. That is your religious choice and perfectly within your rights as you live in our society. But do not expect us to make a law requiring all women of our country to cover themselves in public, so as not to offend your religious beliefs." What would be the reaction in this country if, for instance, orthodox Jews who do not work on Saturdays, and observe strict restrictions in how far they can travel, insisted that the rest of the country do the same?

However, Mr. Fish ends with something with which I can agree.
This is why calls for "dialogue," issued so frequently of late by the pundits with an unbearable smugness — you can just see them thinking, "What's wrong with these people?" — are unlikely to fall on receptive ears. The belief in the therapeutic and redemptive force of dialogue depends on the assumption (central to liberalism's theology) that, after all, no idea is worth fighting over to the death and that we can always reach a position of accommodation if only we will sit down and talk it out.

But a firm adherent of a comprehensive religion doesn't want dialogue about his beliefs; he wants those beliefs to prevail. Dialogue is not a tenet in his creed, and invoking it is unlikely to do anything but further persuade him that you have missed the point — as, indeed, you are pledged to do, so long as liberalism is the name of your faith.

And the same can be said of the far-right religious fundamentalists in our own country.

Like I said, I have read this essay several times now, and I am still not quite sure what his point is. Is he saying dialogue is useless and we should give in to the demands of religious fundamentalists because, by golly, at least they have a strong conviction that they are right and you morality-challenged liberals don't? Does he mean that we who wish religious neutrality are not as entitled to having our beliefs respected as those who would burn down embassies and murder innocents, all in the name of a religious belief? I refuse to accept his argument, if indeed, that is what he is suggesting.

It's so funny, I can't tell you the number of times I have heard my fellow countrymen say, "If [enter your favorite non-English speaking group here] wants to live in this country, they should learn to speak English." Gee, I would just prefer that everyone learn to speak "liberal." Of course, there are some native born Americans who could learn the same. Yep, freedom of speech means ALL speech. Not just politically correct speech, either left OR right.

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Glenn Greenwald raises a half dozen big, red flags

there is no doubt in my mind that greenwald is right... bushco is working overtime to make sure its critics are intimidated into silence and that those who do speak up or provide information potentially damaging to the bushco reign will be dealt with severely...
I really believe that the significance of this article from today's New York Times cannot be overstated. In essence, while the President sits in the White House undisturbed after proudly announcing that he has been breaking the law and will continue to do so, his slavish political appointees at the Justice Department are using the law enforcement powers of the federal government to find and criminally prosecute those who brought this illegal conduct to light:
Federal agents have interviewed officials at several of the country's law enforcement and national security agencies in a rapidly expanding criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding a New York Times article published in December that disclosed the existence of a highly classified domestic eavesdropping program, according to government officials.

The investigation, which appears to cover the case from 2004, when the newspaper began reporting the story, is being closely coordinated with criminal prosecutors at the Justice Department, the officials said. People who have been interviewed and others in the government who have been briefed on the interviews said the investigation seemed to lay the groundwork for a grand jury inquiry that could lead to criminal charges.

Alberto Gonzales just spent 8 hours testifying before Congress making clear that he considers George Bush to be "his client". Isn't it plainly inappropriate for him to be making decisions regarding who should be prosecuted for having exposed his "client's" wrongdoing to the public?

Beyond that, consider the effects of these threats on other people who may be tempted to come forward and expose other serious wrongdoing on the part of the Administration. They hear that the Justice Department is "laying the groundwork for a grand jury inquiry that could lead to criminal charges" -- might that have an effect of intimidation against anyone who might consider blowing the whistle on other forms of serious misconduct by the Bush Administration?

we're in deep, deep shit, folks... and, like greenwald says, it can't be overstated...

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I'm reading a monster of a book, all 805 pages, very slowly

it was first published in 1975 and i don't think it ever hit any bestseller list... it's billed as a "sci-fi cult novel" and also as "the ultimate conspiracy book..." i've been working on it since the end of november because reading it is like watching a fellini movie on acid... after a couple of pages, i put it aside until the next day... however, i've been struck big-time by a few passages, so much so that i've dog-eared them, threatening to excerpt a few for this blog... so, this morning, a quiet sunny sunday in skopje, macedonia, while i'm lolling in the doldrums waiting to go to the airport to catch a late afternoon flight and begin the long haul back to buenos aires, i thought i'd take a crack... see what ya think...
"I am also puzzled," Sam Three Arrows said finally. "I worked, long ago, in New York City, in construction, like many young men of the Mohawk Nation. I found that whites were often like us, and I could not hate them one at a time. But they do not know the earth or love it. They do not speak from the heart, usually. They do not act from the heart. They are more like the actors on the movie screen. They play roles. And their leaders are not like our leaders. They are not chosen for virtue, but for their skill at playing roles. Whites have told me this, in plain words. They do not trust their leaders, and yet they follow them. When we do not trust a leader, he is finished. Then, also, the leaders of the whites have too much power. It is bad for a man to be obeyed too often. But the worst thing is what I have said about the heart. Their leaders have lost it and they have lost mercy. They speak from somewhere else. But from where? [...] It is, I think, a kind of insanity."

hmmmm... strike a chord...? try THIS one...
"But they can rule by fraud, and by fraud eventually acquire access to the tools they need to finish the job of killing off the Constitution."

"What sort of tools?"

"More stringent security measures. Universal electronic surveillance. No-knock laws. Stop and frisk laws. Government inspection of first-class mail. Automatic fingerprinting, photographing, blood tests, and urinanalysis of any person arrested before he is charged with a crime. A law making it unlawful to resist even unlawful arrest. Laws establishing detention camps for potential subversives. Gun control laws. Restrictions on travel. [...] Instead of realizing that there is a conspiracy, conducted by a handful of men, the people reason - or are manipulated into reasoning - that the entire populace must have its freedom restricted in order to protect the leaders. The people agree that they themselves can't be trusted.


And the beauty of it is, the majority of the Americans will have been so frightened by . . . terrorist incidents that they will beg to be controlled as a masochist begs for the whip."

ya with me so far...? it gets better...
Of course, the essence of control is fear. The [brainwashing technique] produced a whole population walking around in chronic low-grade emergency, tormented by ulcers, dizzy spells, nightmares, heart palpitations and all the other symptoms of too much adrenalin. All my left-wing arrogance and contempt for my countrymen melted, and I felt genuine pity. No wonder the poor bastards believe anything they're told, walk through pollution and overcrowding without complaining, watch their sons hauled off to endless wars and butchered, never protest, never fight back, never show much happiness or eroticism or curiosity or normal human emotion, live with perpetual tunnel vision, walk past a slum without seeing either the human misery it contains or the potential threat it poses to their security. . . . . Then I got a hunch, and turned quickly to the advertisements. It was as I expected: no [fear reaction]. That was part of the gimmick, too: only in consumption, endless consumption, could they escape the amorphous threat of the invisible [brainwashing technique].

you can probably see why i was moved to not only come back to these passages but also to pass them along...

(from The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, Leviathan by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson)

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Boo-hoo... If you're so goddam sensitive, you should get another job...

My career as a nitwitted, emasculated fascist began the afternoon of Jan. 19 when, as executive editor of the Post's Web site,, I closed down the comments area of one of our many blogs, one called Created primarily to announce new features on the Web site, the blog had become ground zero for angry readers complaining about a column by Post ombudsman Deborah Howell on the newspaper's coverage of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. If I had let them, they would have obliterated any semblance of civil, genuine discussion.

i'm not one to indulge in nasty invective... i do sometimes use graphic language but i generally (NB: "generally") avoid personal attacks... i have been very fortunate with this blog in having to deal with only a miniscule number of such comments... i think i may have deleted two or three in the nearly a year i've been posting... but, ya know what...? those kind of people are out there... we all know that... it's no biggie to take the over-the-top comments and just delete them... it's also no biggie to annotate the comments saying that's what you've done and why... closing down the entire comments section is like swatting mosquitoes with a shovel... i've got only one comment for mr. brady...


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Once again, a litany of crimes, lies and outrages is published and once again we're waiting for there to be consequences

today's nyt spells out what we all know so very well...
We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers — and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.
Like many other administrations before it, this one sometimes dissembles clumsily to avoid embarrassment. (We now know, for example, that the White House did not tell the truth about when it learned the levees in New Orleans had failed.) Spin-as-usual is one thing. Striking at the civil liberties, due process and balance of powers that are the heart of American democracy is another.

yeah... ok... so...? we keep reading and reading and learning and learning about bushco crimes, lies and outrages... and then we keep reading and reading and learning and learning about bushco crimes, lies and outrages... and then, and then, and then... SO WHEN THE FUCK IS SOMETHING GONNA BE DONE TO STOP THEM...?

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