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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 03/05/2006 - 03/12/2006
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
Send tips and other comments to: profmarcus2010@yahoo.com

And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Rove is still calling the shots

rove, along with dr. evil, dick cheney, aka, "the enforcer..."
Appearing on "Your World with Neil Cavuto" [Fox News] on Friday (March 10, 2006), Kristol lamented the loss of the deal by which Dubai Ports World purchased the contract for operating the ports from a British corporation, P&O.

Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, said he thought Bush could have won over Congressional Republicans to the matter if he had been around to fight the issue. But instead, he issued the veto threat and then went overseas to India and Pakistan for two weeks, allowing opposition to grow unchecked, Kristol said.

"Karl Rove calls the people in Dubai two nights ago and tells them pull the plug on the deal, and I think as a result, the president looks weak, frankly," Kristol said.

rove should be trying to talk satan out of calling in the marker on his soul but, instead, he's still doing his dastardly best to stay in control of bush, just like he has been for the past 30+ years...

supposedly, some senior r's in memphis this weekend are floating the notion that bush might want to dump he-who-must-not-be-
named
... the chances of that happening...?

Some senior Republicans with ties to the White House, who asked for anonymity because they did not want to be identified describing internal White House deliberations, said there was a widespread feeling here that Mr. Bush would be well served to bring in new advisers, either replacing Andrew H. Card Jr., his chief of staff, or Karl Rove, his senior political adviser.

But one Republican with close ties to the White House said the investigation of Mr. Rove's role in leaking the name of a C.I.A. operative was making it nearly impossible to make any changes until it was resolved.

slim, fat and none...

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Rice meets with Morales in Bolivia



after rice attends michelle bachelet's inauguration today in santiago, chile, she jets back up to la paz to meet with evo...
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to meet Saturday with Bolivian President Evo Morales, U.S. officials said, as the cordial relations promised by the Bush administration after Morales's January inauguration show signs of strain.

after the usual u.s. "my way or the highway" smackdown, it's good that she's getting some face time...
In the past two weeks, relations between the U.S. and Bolivian governments have grown tense. Morales lashed out at the United States for cutting off funds to a Bolivian counterterrorism unit after Morales named a controversial commander as its leader. He labeled the move "blackmail" and vowed not to return weapons requested by the United States after the program was discontinued.

Two weeks ago, a Bolivian legislator who is one of Morales's closest friends learned that her U.S. visa had been revoked because of security concerns.

well, condi may want to talk and evo may want to talk but i'll bet george ain't interested and god help us all if john bolton sticks his nose into it...
Morales declined to discuss the recent spats. He described his upcoming meeting with Rice as "historic" and said he hoped to talk with her about bilateral economic ties.

"We are always open to dialogue. We can talk to President Bush, but we can also talk with Fidel Castro -- that is our culture of dialogue," he said. "We have no fear about talking, we are going to keep talking. They have asked us to turn over a new leaf and start new relations," Morales told reporters in La Paz, the Bolivian capital. "Nevertheless, I'm receiving a lot of aggression, a lot of provocation from the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. government."

aggression and provocation 'r' us...

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The ratings for the first speech weren't so hot and now we have to endure endless re-runs

in the corporate world, we used to play what we called "meeting bingo..." we'd each have bingo-type cards that listed all the words and phrases that we'd all heard a million times and each time one of them was used in the meeting, we'd secretly check the appropriate box... when someone had a complete line checked, he or she would make some sort of silent, unobtrusive gesture to indicate to the other players that he'd gotten "BINGO...!" i suggest we start doing the same thing with bush's speeches...
Bush Goes on Offensive To Explain War Strategy

President Bush plans to begin a series of speeches next week again explaining the administration's strategy for winning the war in Iraq, as the White House returns to a familiar tactic to allay growing public pessimism about the war that has helped keep the president's approval rating near its historic low.

it's a disaster based on lies, george... how 'bout 'splainin' THAT...?

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Poseurs

my sentiments exactly...
We keep hearing that the Republicans in Congress are in revolt against the president.

Some rebellion.

Yes, the Republicans defied President Bush on the United Arab Emirates ports deal. But it wasn't over a major principle, like the collapse of Congressional supervision of the executive branch or the incredibly lax security in the nation's ports, or even the security issues posed by this particular deal.

The Republicans dumped the ports deal into the harbor because of xenophobia and electoral tactics. Republican pollsters have been saying the president could be a liability in the fall elections, so lawmakers posed as rebels for voters who, they think, want rebels.

[...]

Take domestic spying, held up as another area of Republican revolt. The program violates the law. Congress knows it. The public knows it. Even President Bush knows it. (He just says the law doesn't apply to him.) In response, the Capitol Hill rebels are boldly refusing to investigate the program — or any other warrantless spying that is going on. They are trying to rewrite the law to legalize warrantless spying. And meanwhile, they've created new subcommittees to help the president go on defying the law.

poseurs... and why would we expect anything different...?

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Friday, March 10, 2006

My, the time, it DO fly...

Happy Birthday to AYIDTIP...!

it was one year ago this week that i began began this blog in earnest and i haven't missed a day since... along the way, i've been joined by two excellent collaborators, skadi and toby, and we're planning to be around for the foreseeable future...

without a doubt, it's a labor of love... i can only speak for myself, altho' i am pretty sure skadi and toby would agree, the love is for our country and for this world we share... one of my biggest assets as well as one of my greatest liabilities is being able to see potential, what CAN be, as well as reality, what IS... the potential is undiminished but we've got a lot of work to do to bring reality in line...

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Worst... President... Ever... And your point would be what, exactly...?

there's a saying that comes out of aa 12-step groups - if people are constantly telling you that you've got a mane and a tail, it might be time to start visiting saddle shops...
Down in public opinion polls, President George W. Bush said on Friday he realizes he has made some unpopular decisions but that it "comes with the territory" and he will stand by his beliefs.

[...]

"I understand some of the things I've done are unpopular. But that's what comes with the territory. If you're afraid to make decisions and you only worried about, you know, whether or not people in the classroom are going to say nice things about you, you're not leading," he said.

it's always so refreshing to come across someone who knows he's an asshole and isn't afraid to admit it...

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A dramatic expansion of drilling, logging and development on the public lands of the West

time to kick back after a job well done...
Gale Norton is announcing her resignation today after serving more than five years as secretary of the Interior and overseeing a dramatic expansion of drilling, logging and development on the public lands of the West.

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Dueling Factions, Single Party

I for one am REALLY tired of hearing that people who criticize our government are "left" or "out of the mainstream of America." First off, let us define terms: 1) left is a physical direction and as meaningless politically as right. 2) America is one large continent, including a north and a south part, with many, many countries. 3) "Mainstream" is a majority of U.S. citizens, not of political pundits, governmental bureaucracy or 99 percent of television media, including the much maligned and "leftist" Hollywood. What I intend to suggest, using fairly reliable statistics, is that the aforementioned groups DO NOT represent, nor do they intend to even mention the real majority opinion of U.S. citizens, however assiduously they may study it. Our single party system, with dueling factions, is an all too human, or should I say sub-human creation. Wave enough cash and stock options in front of anyone’s face and you’ll have the same drooling, statist, pro-oligarchs that we see paraded before us in the name of our sacred democracy, left or right. And just what is America? Well, that’s a fairly complicated question, even when narrowing the discussion to the United States. And after all, we’re still trying to figure that out, right? So, here goes...

(from the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes...)
Asked simply whether they favored or opposed using military force to overthrow a dictator, only 35% were in favor while 55% were opposed. Only 27% said that "using military force to overthrow a dictator" "does more good than harm," while a 58% majority says this "does more harm than good." Perhaps more telling, a larger majority rejects the idea of the US threatening countries with military force if they do not institute democratic reforms. Two-thirds (66%) said "warning a government that the US might intervene militarily if it does not carry out some democratic reforms" does more harm than good; only 21% thought the opposite. When asked to think about making such threats to specific countries, 73-76% rejected doing so for each country named (Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Russia, China, and Burma, also cayanmar)

OK. That’s clear, right? What percentage of the dueling factions has given its unconditional support to doing the exact OPPOSITE? Last time I checked, a pretty high one, unless I am unaware of any major Democratic push to stop threatening Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, China, etc...

To be continued....

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Yes, sometimes denial is preferable to facing reality

i get very tired of reading intelligent, rational people applying accepted tenets of intelligent, rational thinking to bushco... for nearly six years, it's been painfully apparent that the rationale followed by bush and his posse is based on assumptions and drivers that do not conform to the accepted norms of intelligence and rationality... when you look at the bushco pattern systemically and attempt to discern the pattern of the whole, it is clear that, first of all, there IS a pattern and, second of all, that the pattern IS both rational and internally consistent...

why it appears irrational to us is that we cannot accept the truth of the pattern that their actions reveal - deliberate distortion of truth, conscious and determined creation of chaos and fear and dogged accumulation of power, money and social control... success to them requires lobotomizing the constitution, rigging elections, fabricating a diabolical enemy, waging endless war, funneling vast sums of money into their own pockets, exploiting the earth's resources regardless of planetary consequences, holding the media on a tight leash, eliminating any implied or explicit social contract, and maintaining a populace cowering in fear...

a related myth is bushco's incompetence... sorry but it ain't incompetence... they are extraordinarily good at what they do... in the space of the short six years they have been in office, the u.s. has moved from a quasi-democracy to a nearly flat-out dictatorship complete with state-sponsored terrorism... every element necessary to achieving their ends is in place and, to date, nothing of the magnitude necessary to stop this juggernaut has been put forward...

sometimes reality is simply so horrifying that living in denial is preferable... i don't personally know a single person around the world, u.s. citizen or otherwise, who wants to accept the truth... the ones i read who do are often labeled fringe nutcases and members of the tinfoil hat club... even writing stuff like the above, i often have to stop and do my own sanity check... but, folks, the pattern is there, like it or not... pretending it isn't won't make it go away...

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24-hour strike at Aerolineas Argentinas

i'll tell ya who's happy - united, lan, alitalia, american, delta, continental, british, air france, tam, gol, iberia, copa and all the other airlines that compete for air traffic in and out of buenos aires and the country of argentina... passengers simply don't want to fly on an airline that might end up NOT flying at a moment's notice... (yeah, i SAY that and then yours truly flew alitalia, known for exactly the same thing, back and forth to europe just a month and a half ago...)
Pilots and mechanics at Argentina's flagship airline, Aerolineas Argentinas, began a 24 hour strike on Thursday to demand salary increases following failed salary negotiations.

"We had three meetings and we did not reach any agreement... For now, the strike is set for 24 hours," Jorge Perez Tamayo, a member of the pilots' union, told reporters.

Pilots and mechanics walked off the job at 12 noon local time (1500 GMT/10 a.m. EST), delaying flights and catching passengers off guard at the country's main airports.

i'm totally empathetic with the need for employees to have a way to gain leverage with employers in matters such as wages, benefits and working conditions... but, having worked for an airline, i also know that strikes and slowdowns are a lose-lose situation in the airline business...

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For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction...

polls drop, radioactivity goes up...

today's headlines...

ap...


Poll: Bush Approval Rating Hits New Low

wapo...

In an Election Year, GOP Wary of Following Bush

" . . . they go together like a horse and carriage
this i tell ya br-o-o-other
ya can't have one without the o-o-o-other"

"He has no political capital," said Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster. "Slowly but surely it's been unraveling. There's been a direct correlation between the trajectory of his approval numbers and the -- I don't want to call it disloyalty -- the independence on the part of the Republicans in Congress."

tony might not want to call it disloyalty but you can bet your sweet behind that karl, dick and george call it disloyalty...

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

You're either "with us" or with the terrorists - THAT sure covers a LOT of territory...

son-of-a-gun... no sooner had i put up the previous post, than this shows up from robert parry...
By setting up a toothless review process for warrantless wiretaps of Americans, the Republican-controlled Congress is handing George W. Bush another major victory in his consolidation of virtually unlimited executive power.

The plan -- promoted by "moderate" Republican senators -- may even allow for more wiretapping by broadening the scope to any American deemed to be "working in support of a terrorist group." Given Bush's view that you are either "with us" or with the terrorists, that could cover almost any administration critic.

yeppers... you're either "with us" or with the terrorists... time to dump the air america bumper sticker...

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Free speech...? Free expression...? In the U.S...? Think again...

it looks like resistance to the regime in power will have to go underground...
A San Diego County woman is suing her former employer, accusing her manager of firing her on the spot when she saw the woman's car had a bumper sticker advertising a progressive talk radio station.

The suit also alleges that, after seeing the sticker, the employer commented that the woman could be a member of al-Qaida.

[...]

According to Laroca's suit, the bumper sticker in question read only: "1360 Air America Progressive Talk Radio."

ooooooooo... we all know that air america is a known terrorist organization...

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The Iraq civil war, "to the extent one were to occur," will be dealt with by Iraqis, "to the extent they are able to."

and, oh, by the way, we need $91B FRIGGIN' MORE for both iraq AND afghanistan...
Top members of the Bush administration urged Congress Thursday to quickly pass a $91 billion spending bill that includes money to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that despite a surge in sectarian violence in Iraq, the process of creating a stable government is proceeding satisfactorily. ['scuse ME...?]

Rumsfeld was pressed to explain the U.S. military's plan to respond in the event that Iraq's sectarian violence grows into a full-fledged civil war.

"The plan is to prevent a civil war, and to the extent one were to occur, to have the — from a security standpoint — have the Iraqi security forces deal with it, to the extent they are able to," Rumsfeld said.

and, oh, yes... it's another EMERGENCY SPENDING BILL, outside of the normal congressional budget appropriations process...

hello, america...? hello...? HELLO...?? anybody there...?? H-E-L-L-O...??

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The Iraqis take a page from the occupying forces

how terribly, horribly sad to say nothing of flat-out unethical and positively dishonest...
[A] representative of the Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, ordered that government hospitals and morgues catalogue deaths caused by bombings or clashes with insurgents, but not by execution-style shootings.

[...]

Spokesmen for the Health Ministry and the Supreme Council -- commonly known by its initials, SCIRI -- denied that any order to alter the tabulation of deaths had been issued.

Abductions and killings of Sunni Arab men, usually by gunshots to the back of the head, have occurred with increasing frequency over the past year and are widely blamed on government-allied Shiite religious militias and death squads alleged to be operating from inside the SCIRI-dominated Interior Ministry.

[...]

Morgue and Health Ministry officials say morgue workers were barely able to keep up with the arrival of bodies. Iraq's state-run pharmaceutical company lent the ministry "six or seven'' refrigerated trailers to handle the overflow, according to the ministry official. Bodies that went unclaimed were buried in cemeteries in Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala.

the page is taken from the very same manual that directs president bush not to attend military funerals, that disallows press coverage of the bodies of american servicemen arriving at dover afb, delaware, that keeps the u.s. from tracking the number of iraqi civilian deaths since the war began, and prevents wh officials from citing in public, until recently, the total number of american casualties due to iraq... we're supposed to be there helping the iraqis construct a sustainable democracy... what the iraqis are learning is how to construct a reasonable facsimile of the bush administration...

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1984

Were we surprised that the "Justice" Department and the F.B.I. were found to be abusing their powers under the "Patriot" Act and a material witness law from 1984 (no pun intended) which allows them to arrest and detain witnesses who they feel might flee the country?

Thanks to Glen A. Fine, an inspector general at "Justice", and the AP we are told
:

The investigation began after a report by two civil liberties groups said the Bush administration had used the law to detain at least 70 people since the Sept. 11 attacks.

At least 30 of the 70 detainees were never called to testify before a court or grand jury, the ACLU and Human Rights Watch reported in June.

Only 28 people were charged with a crime and most of those charges were unrelated to terrorism, the groups said. Seven were charged with providing material support to terrorist organizations.

Fine's report also catalogs potential violations by the FBI of laws and regulations relating to national security investigations. The bureau reported 108 instances in the past two years of tapping the wrong telephone number, intercepting the wrong e-mail, continuing to listen in on communications even though the warrant had expired and other problems. In one case, the FBI received the content of 181 telephone calls instead of just billing and toll records, Fine said. Apparent violations continued for 120 days in one case in which the FBI was at fault and for more than a year in another in which a third party, such as a telephone company, was to blame, Fine said.

And, as is the hallmark of the police state in which we live...

The FBI sent the reports to an oversight board of presidential appointees, which is supposed to report apparent violations of law or presidential orders to the attorney general. The "Justice" Department recently told the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group that has sought information on the violations, that it has not received any reports about misconduct from the board, according a letter provided by the center.

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The undisputed master of hypocrisy

the textbook case of lack of accountability doesn't hesitate to point fingers...
President Bush, on a Gulf Coast inspection tour that included his first visit to this city's storm-shattered Lower Ninth Ward, bluntly accused Congress on Wednesday of underfunding the repairs and called for speedy action to make good on federal commitments.

The president said Congress has been slow to provide funding to rebuild housing destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and, while pledging to make New Orleans's levees "equal or better than they were before" the storm, attacked a congressional decision last year to redirect $1.5 billion from his request to repair the region's flood-protection system to projects in other storm-affected states.

there is nothing the man will not stoop to in an effort to make himself look good, particularly if it's at someone else's expense... after leading a 6-year crusade to lobotomize any hint of an implicit or explicit social contract, after gutting every federal program within reach while working with a congress that's handed him everything he ever wanted on a silver platter, and after a criminally negligent katrina disaster response, george has the unmitigated gall to accuse congress of not being responsive... what a guy...

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Bulgarian Martenitza



Bulgarian Martenitza

i've been sadly absent from my other blog... my camera crapped out (a lame excuse) and i've been preoccupied with my news and political blog (an even lamer excuse)... however, today, i received an email from a friend in sofia, bulgaria, and it was so nice and friendly and interesting, i simply couldn't resist putting it up to share... you can read it here...

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Republican rebellion

the headline we've all been waiting to see...
A Rebellion in the G.O.P. on Security, a Signature Issue

After more than five years of allowing President Bush relatively free rein to set their course, Republicans in Congress are suddenly, if selectively, in rebellion, a mutiny all the more surprising since it centers on the party's signature issue of national security.

In a rebuke to the White House, House Republicans are moving aggressively to put the brakes on the takeover by a Dubai company of some port terminal operations in several large American cities, an effort that moved forward on Wednesday with broad bipartisan support.

At the same time, Republicans in the Senate are wrestling with how hard to press the White House for more authority over Mr. Bush's eavesdropping program, seeking a middle ground between Democratic calls for an investigation of the program and White House demands to keep hands off.

yeah, well, we might like the headline but saying that they're "wrestling with how hard to press the white house" kind of skirts the fact that the wh has been extraordinarily aggressive (and for THAT crowd, that's saying something) about tasering the r's into line over the spying issue (see previous post plus here and here), so much so, in fact, that the senate r's have succeeded in virtually emasculating any serious spying oversight... plus, dr. evil has been given a series of day passes from his padded cell in an undisclosed location to wave his shotgun in the face of anyone making dissent-like noises...
Faced with the frightening prospect of public hearings and active Congressional oversight into President Bush's contested domestic spying program, the White House sent out its big dog -- Vice President Cheney -- to bring straying moderate Republicans to heel.

[...]

Cheney took point in the White House effort to quash a full-blown investigation into the program. And the guy still gets the job done.

Walter Pincus writes in The Washington Post:
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted along party lines yesterday to reject a Democratic proposal to investigate the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program and instead approved establishing, with White House approval, a seven-member panel to oversee the effort.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Senate Cover-up Committee of Pat Roberts

the opportunities for following-up toby's post from last night just keep popping up...
Pat Roberts has been instrumental in the cover-up of virtually every national security scandal of George W. Bush’s presidency. ThinkProgress has produced a comprehensive report showing how Roberts and his Senate Cover-up Committee have obstructed investigations into everything from false Iraq intelligence to detainee torture to the CIA leak scandal.

once upon a time, in a universe far, far away, the people knowingly and freely elected individuals to represent them who possessed undisputed integrity and an unparalleled commitment to the common good...

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Markos on Cuellar's defeat of Ciro Rodriquez in the TX-28 Dem primary

everyone is entitled to his opinion...
[I]f Cuellar had a Republican opponent in November, I would support Cuellar for the general. The time to fight for the soul of the party is in the primaries. Once the primaries are over, I'm happy to get behind whoever wins.

but if there are two assholes on the ballot, i'll be damned if i vote for the lesser asshole... i've played that game almost all of my voting life and i ain't doin' it any more...

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Gotta lighten it up

i've been on edge today, you know that feeling you get when you find yourself thinking that you might just like to grab the next person that walks by and choke the ever-loving shit out of him...? the moon isn't full, i slept well last night, nothing i can put my finger on other than that last night's rain and today's heat and sultry humidity have brought the worst infestation of mosquitoes so far this summer... i decided to hang out in the food court at carrefour and piggyback on their wifi while basking in their a/c... then i opened my email and found this... (there were actually a bunch more but this one was the one that appealed to me...)



(thanks to good friend, g, in minneapolis...)

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Stuff like this makes me crazy

In this morning's Washington Post I read:
A group of well-connected Democrats led by a former top aide to Bill Clinton is raising millions of dollars to start a private firm that plans to compile huge amounts of data on Americans to identify Democratic voters and blunt what has been a clear Republican lead in using technology for political advantage.

The effort by Harold Ickes, a deputy chief of staff in the Clinton White House and an adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), is prompting intense behind-the-scenes debate in Democratic circles. Officials at the Democratic National Committee think that creating a modern database is their job, and they say that a competing for-profit entity could divert energy and money that should instead be invested with the national party.

Ickes and others involved in the effort acknowledge that their activities are in part a vote of no confidence that the DNC under Chairman Howard Dean is ready to compete with Republicans on the technological front. "The Republicans have developed a cadre of people who appreciate databases and know how to use them, and we are way behind the march," said Ickes, whose political technology venture is being backed by financier George Soros.

So, their answer to a "vote of no confidence" is not to go to Howard Dean and offer assistance. No. Their answer is to cut him off at the knees. As a Democrat, and an on-the-ground activist in the party, this makes me want to just throw up. Why bother trying to strengthen the one organization that is tasked with winning Presidential elections and growing the party (read its charter here). Oh no. Run off by yourself, thumb your nose at those of us who fucking NEED YOUR MONEY AND EXPERTISE and create a whole new layer, probably unavailable to any state or local Democratic party except for a fee, WHICH WE DON'T HAVE, by the way, because instead of INVESTING THEIR MONEY IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, these selfish SOBs choose to line someone else's pockets and snicker up their sleeves at us.
As it stands now, the DNC and Data Warehouse, created by Ickes and Democratic operative Laura Quinn, will separately try to build vast and detailed voter lists -- each effort requiring sophisticated expertise and costing well over $10 million.

Oh yeah. Such an effective use of funds. Redundancy. One of the things I stress in my organizing is being careful not to duplicate someone else's efforts, but if possible, to build on them. Idiots.

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Abramoff: "Any important Republican who comes out and says they didn’t know me is almost certainly lying."

DON’T YOU KNOW JACK?

(1) Senator Conrad Burns (Republican, Montana).
(2) Representative John T. Doolittle (Republican, California).
(3) Representative J. D. Hayworth (Republican, Arizona).
(4) House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Republican, Illinois).
(5) R.N.C. chairman Ken Mehlman.
(6) Representative Bob Ney (Republican, Ohio).
(7) Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed.
(8) White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove.

so, claiming you DON'T know jack seems to really piss him off...
Being airbrushed out of a whole community in which he cut so wide a swath for the past 10 years, where he helped revolutionize lobbying, where he was very nearly ubiquitous and invincible—it’s enough to hurt someone’s feelings. On other matters related to his situation he tiptoes, as would anyone whose fate—the amount of time he will languish in prison—lies in the hands of prosecutors and the judge. But for someone who has fought his whole career to be acknowledged and respected and feared, being treated like a nonperson is simply too much to take. “For a guy who did all these evil things that have been so widely reported, it’s pretty amazing, considering I didn’t know anyone,” Abramoff says.

[...]

“Any important Republican who comes out and says they didn’t know me is almost certainly lying,” he says. Such lies are not just, well, lies, but dumb to boot, he adds, for, as his own humiliations suggest, old e-mails never die; they just sit on hard drives, waiting to be subpoenaed and then to be leaked to the press. “This is not an age when you can run away from facts,” he declares. “I had to deal with my records, and others will have to deal with theirs.”

i'm past taking solace in sleazebags trying to come clean... i'm way, way past my tolerance level with denials, evasions and outright lies... am i glad abramoff's naming names...? of course... do i think it will make the slightest bit of difference...? no...

(thanks to vanity fair - pdf file - via daily kos...)

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Glenn Greenwald looks at NSA "oversight..."

following up on toby's post last night, glenn offers some insightful reflections...

Glenn Greenwald...

Yet again, every Senate Republican followed White House instructions not to investigate the President, and this time did so despite the statements of several of those GOP Senators just within the last 8 weeks that such an investigation was urgent and necessary.

In lieu of fulfilling their pledge to discover the scope of the Administration's warrantless eavesdropping on Americans, Sens. Hagel and Snowe decided instead that they would support legislation which would create a 7-member Subcommittee (4 Republicans and 3 Democrats) to which the Administration is required to report all warrantless eavesdropping activities . . .

Senator Rockefeller ain't buyin' it...
The committee is, to put it bluntly, basically under the control of the White House.

Greenwald again...
[I]t is almost unfathomable how little personal dignity these compliant GOP Senators have. [...] After standing up and publicly making those statement and issuing those demands, they completely reverse themselves a few weeks later when the White House decrees that they do so.

[...]

Let's think just for a brief moment about the always depressing topic of the role of the media here. Here are some rather critical and glaring questions which the hearings would have answered but which, now, remain unanswered:
Did the Administration engage in warrantless eavesdropping on Americans who have no connection to Al Qaeda or to other terrorist groups?

As part of any program, did the Administration engage in warrantless eavesdropping on the purely domestic communications of Americans?

Did the Administration initiate any other warrantless eavesdropping programs aimed at Americans besides the one revealed by The New York Times?

Why did the Administration never seek revisions to FISA if it believed that the law was inadequate or too cumbersome to permit necessary eavesdropping?

The media, intended to be the "Fourth Estate," is another. Are they really going to just walk away from this story without finding out the answers to these questions and informing Americans as to the answers?

[...]

The legislation that Sens. Snowe and Hagel embraced in order not to defy the White House is really nothing short of a bad joke. [...] But this "oversight" is self-evidently illusory and meaningless.

[...]

The issue which is left unresolved by all of these Congressional shenanigans is the issue that lies at the core of this scandal and several others: namely, we are a country in which the President has seized the power to break the law.

will the media "walk away from this story...?"

uhhh...

~takes a moment to ponder~
~scratches chin~
~thinks again~
~nods~

actually, yes, i believe they will, just as the republican senators walked away...

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What constitutes "undermining security...?"

but there ain't nothing wrong with china owning nearly half of the u.s. treasury bonds now in issue...
The Bush administration will push ahead with a proposal to ease limits on foreign investment in US airlines, despite some congressional pressure to slow down the plan or withdraw it, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said on Tuesday.

The proposed regulation was opposed earlier this year by mainly Democratic lawmakers concerned about the impact on US jobs and airline service if global capital options for financially struggling domestic airlines were expanded.

But in recent weeks a few Republicans have begun to question whether the initiative is wise in light of the firestorm of controversy that has consumed plans by a Dubai-based company to manage six US ports as part of its multibillion-dollar purchase of a rival British firm.

Many Republicans and Democrats in Congress, as well as state and local officials who lease port facilities, are worried that giving a company owned by the United Arab Emirates management control of key US ports could undermine security.

i guess it all boils down to how you define "security..." it seems to me that there is precious little concern for ANY type of security, be it protection against terrorist attacks; the welfare of u.s. citizens in any form, from jobs to health care to paying a living wage to disaster response to citizens dying in an illegal war; the preservation of the middle class; or the health of the employers who have been its foundation; and a GREAT DEAL of concern with making sure that plenty of money is flowing into the RIGHT (i.e., well-connected republican) pockets...

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Where to start...

it rained a bit last night and this morning is cool, still and fresh... the sun isn't up yet and the light is still such that it's hard to tell whether it's clear or overcast... as i scan this morning's headlines, i search in vain for good news... it's the same every morning - a litany of gloom - and even the glimmer of good news is clouded by the bad news underneath...

from the nyt alone...

The legislation makes permanent most of the original 2001 law's major provisions, which had been set to expire March 16.

As the Senate looks at changes in lobbying laws, some lawmakers say using companies' planes is necessary in modern politics.

A deal with the White House would impose oversight on domestic spying but avoids the full committee inquiry sought by Democrats.

He said the United Nations Security Council would "impose
meaningful consequences" on Iran if it proceeded with uranium enrichment.

Defying President Bush, the lawmakers said they would take action to scuttle a Dubai firm's deal before a 45-day review is over.

Many tutoring companies, competing for money from the federal No Child Left Behind law, engaged in questionable practices to woo New York City principals, a report said.

Far too many prisoners at Guantánamo Bay seem to be innocents or lowly foot soldiers simply caught up in the whirlwind after 9/11.

and this particularly gloomy item from the wapo...


Former House Majority Leader Easily Beats Three Challengers

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Remember, uh, the NSA thingy...?

It is so easy to lose track of last month’s, last week’s, yesterday’s gory details. As we somnambulate through this perpetual downpour of hyper-information-product-placement, babbling to ourselves or laughing outloud or holding our anger deep in the rumbling pit of our digestive tracts, the past winks out of view like the blue flash of a television being turned off somewhere out there, in the heartland. Remember, uh, the NSA thingy…something about Commander-in-Chief, Authorization to Use Force…uh…spying on citizens, and not just any citizens, U.S. citizens. Yeah, we remember something about it.

Well, guess what? It’s back and going nowhere fast, likely to be consigned to pages near the style section. The Democrats, god bless ’em, and the Republicons, god bless THEM, have basically decided, within the confines of their blessed subcommittees, to shelf all serious debate, loose talk and stubborn investigation into the real extent of the entire eavesdropping program. Reuters gives us the skinny…
Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, Republican chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the committee voted to create a new seven-member subcommittee that would scrutinize the eavesdropping under a plan approved by the White House.

Republicans rejected suggestions that the intelligence panel was retreating from its oversight duties on the NSA program. "The scope of the subcommittee's purview will be broad, wide, deep," said Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

"The committee, to put it bluntly, is basically under the control of the White House through its chairman," said a visibly frustrated Sen. John Rockefeller of West Virginia, ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee.

Ah yes, good old Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas. Intel-Pat. An important Republicon, and Democrat, when need be, strategy has been immortalized in the words of our beloved Intel-Pat…
"When it comes to national security, I prefer accommodation over confrontation whenever possible. We should fight the enemy. We should not fight each other."

Truer words have probably been spoken, but not lately.

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Your national sovereignty and laws don't matter: when the U.S. says "jump," you say "how high...?"

ohfercryinoutloud... talk about friggin' imperial arrogance...
Local authorities in Mexico City have fined a US-owned hotel, at the centre of a diplomatic row, $15,000. They said the branch of the Sheraton chain had discriminated against 16 Cuban officials by expelling them from its premises last month.

The delegation was ordered out to comply with a US embargo against Cuba. A US law bans American companies from doing business with the island. The Cuban delegation was due to meet a group of US businessmen opposed to the embargo at the Maria Isabel Sheraton hotel in Mexico City's central Cuauhtemoc district on 4 February.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc., which owns the Sheraton chain, said the company was asked by the US Treasury Department to tell the Cubans to leave. The Mexican government launched an investigation saying the firm might have broken the law by expelling the delegation.

Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez insisted at the time that the US law could not be applied in a third country.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the Sheraton in Mexico City was a subsidiary of a US-owned hotel group and therefore subject to US laws and regulations.

interesting argument... funny it doesn't apply to google, yahoo and microsoft in china...

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Democratic leaders are falling into their old uninspiring pattern

apropos of the previous post, robert parry of consortium news has this observation...
Election 2006 -- and voter dissatisfaction with the Republicans -- offer hope for the Democrats to reclaim one or both houses of Congress. But Democratic leaders have shown little understanding of the potential for a powerful national message that targets George W. Bush's trampling of constitutional principles that Americans hold dear, not to mention his use of fear and deception to stampede the public into a disastrous war in Iraq.

Instead Democratic leaders are falling into their old uninspiring pattern of passivity, triangulation and check-list issues aimed at disparate interest groups.

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They could just as easily be talking about the United States

it seems like they're all using karl rove's playbook...
As President Néstor Kirchner’s George Bush's acolytes relentlessly continue to amass power in Congress in the wake of their impressive show of force over the Council of Magistrates reform other two branches of government, opposition in Argentina the United States (or rather the lack thereof) becomes even more important. A fragmented opposition faces at least as many problems as its splinters with precious little time to resolve them — especially with possibly early elections, which would leave scarcely more than a year the 2006 elections coming up.

No single description of opposition dilemma can cover every facet but perhaps the core of the problem is that any opposition grouping with clout tends to lack leadership and ideas (or vice versa).

it DOES sound kinda familiar, doesn't it...?

(thanks to the buenos aires herald...)

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Bush's trip "inflicts serious damage"

i'm shocked... SHOCKED, i tell you...
The spectacularly misconceived trip may have inflicted serious damage to American goals in two vital areas . . .

[...]

The nuclear deal that Mr. Bush concluded with India threatens to blast a bomb-size loophole through the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. . . . it undercuts some of the most powerful arguments Washington can make to try to galvanize international opposition to Iran's nuclear adventurism.

[S]ticking Mr. Musharraf with the unwelcome task of explaining to Pakistanis why his friend and ally, Mr. Bush, had granted favorable nuclear terms to Pakistan's archrival, India, while withholding them from Pakistan left him less likely to do Washington any special, and politically unpopular, favors on the terrorism front.

It's just baffling why Mr. Bush traveled halfway around the world to stand right next to one of his most important allies against terrorists — and embarrass him. India and Pakistan are military rivals that have fought each other repeatedly. They have both developed nuclear weapons outside the nonproliferation treaty, which both refuse to sign.

[...]

Mr. Bush should have just stayed home.

george has the "touch," all right... everthing he touches turns to shit... and, ya know what...? i think he likes it that way... stirring up more unrest, tension and fear is his hallmark and he and his buddies are very, very good at what they do...

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The so-called Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005

how about truth in labeling... it should be the "Bankruptcy Prevention and Creditor Protection Act of 2005..." howard karger at alternet tells it like it is... some highlights...

Frank Monroe, bankruptcy judge...


  • "T]he parties pushing the passage of the Act had their own agenda … to make more money off the backs of the consumers in this country. … To call BAPCPA a 'consumer protection' act is the grossest of misnomers."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis...

  • . . . predicted the bill would recoup "billions … in losses associated with profligate and abusive bankruptcy filings."
Houston bankruptcy attorney Jeff Norman

  • . . . estimates that he charges 20 percent to 30 percent more due to the new law.
A Federal Reserve Bank study...

  • . . . real median income dropped 6 percent from 2001 to 2004, while average family income fell by 2.3 percent.
Current data shows...

  • [T]he average credit card interest rate actually rose 1 percent in the six months following the passage of the Bankruptcy Act.
Leslie Linfield of the Institute for Financial Literacy...

  • "Almost half [of bankruptcy filers] have incomes below $20,000 a year, and almost 40 percent indicate that their indebtedness is due to illness or injury."
Again, Judge Monroe...

  • "It should be obvious to the reader at this point how truly concerned Congress is for the individual consumers of this country. Apparently, it is not individual consumers of this country that make the donations to the members of Congress that allow them to be elected and reelected and reelected and reelected."

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Monday, March 06, 2006

THIS is what George W. Bush and his cronies have given implicit permission for this man to say

don't kid yourself, folks... this kind of ugly, bigoted hatred is implicitly condoned by bushco... yes, bushco speaks in code but, for those who listen, the message is clear and you don't even need the secret de-coder ring...
Merrill Keiser, Jr., is a trucker by trade, and he's hoping his next journey takes him all the way to Washington. His goal is a seat in the US Senate, but first he has to make it through the primary that will determine which Ohio Democrat will be the November ballot.

The Fremont man is causing some controversy with one of his beliefs. He tells News 11 homosexuality should be a felony, punishable by death. "Just like we have laws against murder, we have laws against stealing, we have laws against taking drugs -- we should have laws against immoral conduct," Keiser says.

(thanks to raw story...)

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Bolton or Rice... Who's the boss...?

it was a bad sit-com too... the guardian has the skinny...

bolton on iran...


  • "The longer we wait to confront the threat Iran poses, the harder and more intractable it will become to solve ... we must be prepared to rely on comprehensive solutions and use all the tools at our disposal to stop the threat that the Iranian regime poses."
  • "They must know everything is on the table and they must understand what that means. We can hit different points along the line. You only have to take out one part of their nuclear operation to take the whole thing down."
condi on iran...

  • "Nobody has said that we have to rush immediately to sanctions of some kind."
the british parliamentary foreign affairs committee visiting d.c. last week...

  • " . . . encountered sharply different views within the Bush administration."
yep... i would say so... and that's what condi gets for letting george and dick talk her into sending "bigote" (spanish for mustache) to the u.n...

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Unemployment rate falling in Argentina



this is good news... and, for those recently removed from the unemployment rolls, it's VERY good news, up close and personal...
With last Tuesday’s announcement that the jobless have fallen to 10.1 percent of the workforce, Kirchner is on the verge of keeping his promise to restore unemployment to single digits . . .

[...]

The good news does not stop there. The ranks of the formally employed have risen by 10 percent over the past year, expanding for 40 consecutive months and thus topping 37 consecutive months of economic growth. In almost three years of the Kirchner presidency, some 60,000 new companies and 2.5 million jobs have been created to bring the total workforce up to 14.3 million.

but not all is rosy...
[D]espite the decline in the jobless rate and an ageing population, youth unemployment is paradoxically higher than ever — this can only be explained by cultural rather than economic factors, in terms of deficient skills and a lack of work ethic. Nor are salaries becoming any more equal. After three years of rampant recovery, workers in the underground economy are an estimated 45 percent further behind their formally employed colleagues than in pre-crisis 2001.

still, all in all, enormous strides have been made given the depth of the 2001 meltdown that saw over 50% of the population unemployed and more than that fall below the poverty line...

now, if they can just figure out how to tackle inflation...

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Scary Statistics

It might be useful to suggest a reason why there will not be an impeachment of Bush the younger. Sure, there is plenty of damning evidence against him, not to mention a powerful animosity towards what many consider to be his overriding smugness, his intemperance and his churlish insouciance. He, and his ilk, are not interested in what complaints may be lodged against them. Why? Because they know that if history repeats itself (which it has seemed to be doing a lot these days), the Republicons who vote to impeach or vote to censure will lose their otherwise all but guaranteed election victories. Scandal does not bode well for reelection prospects and remember, these politicians are dumb, scared little animals just like you and me. They are going to look out for number one, even if they might not like being a shill for the current pimp masters.

I would like to share a few disturbing statistics with you...the
Center for Voting and Democracy found in a 2005 report,
"The past two House elections were the least competitive in American history by most standards. In each of the four national elections since 1996, more than 98 percent of incumbents have won, and more than 90 percent of all races have been won by non-competitive margins of more than 10 percent."

Not only that, but according to infoplease.com, the average percentage of the population that were eligible to vote and did vote in off-year Congressional elections since 1972 has been a whopping 37.54 percent.

In the future, we would like to explore not only statistics like these, which are rarely, if ever, reported in the mainstream media outlets, but to take a closer look at the disparity of correlation exhibited between the dual faction, single party system we have representing the U.S. population and the opinions of that population as studied by the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes.

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Four clear legal arguments for impeachment

i'm glad somebody who knows what they're talking about is on the case...
[T]he case for the impeachment of President Bush is arguably the strongest in American history. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) makes this amply clear in its recent book, a concise indictment of President Bush that lays out four clear legal arguments that point to impeachment as a necessary remedy for the gross violation of our Constitution. The Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush covers illegal wiretapping, torture, rendition, detention and the Iraq war. An appendix compares the impeachment proceedings of Andrew Johnson, Nixon and Clinton to the comparatively more powerful case against Bush.

this following snippet voices my sentiments precisely...
[A]rguments against the president’s violation of the Constitution have not resulted in any reform or change in behavior. Public shaming and the threat of legal action often work to keep politicians in line. But President Bush is vocally disinterested in the public’s approval of his agenda. Furthermore, he views the law, as evidenced by torture and detainee litigation, as mutable suggestion. For such a president, legal recourse is largely ineffectual -- unless Americans and Congress reclaim the power of the law to remove the offending parties.

As Ratner told AlterNet, "While our battles against illegal wiretaps and Guantanamo are critical for trying to get back legality, until we get rid of what I consider a criminal administration, we will not be able to go back to even a semblance of civil liberties and human rights."

nearly 6 years of trying to apply the brakes on this train have been fruitless... quite the contrary, in fact, as the train seems to be continually gathering speed... impeachment is a long, tortuous, expensive and possibly empty effort which, nonetheless, seems to be our only alternative... i simply cannot comprehend how much more damage the u.s. will suffer if bush completes his term of office...

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Iraq: ". . .the civil war is already taking place. . ."

who ya gonna believe...?

general nash...?

"We're in a civil war now; it's just that not everybody's joined in," said retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash, a former military commander in Bosnia-Herzegovina. "The failure to understand that the civil war is already taking place, just not necessarily at the maximum level, means that our counter measures are inadequate and therefore dangerous to our long-term interest.

"It's our failure to understand reality that has caused us to be late throughout this experience of the last three years in Iraq," added Nash, who is an ABC News consultant.

or general pace...?
In an interview on Fox News Sunday, however, U.S. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disputed that.

"I think that the Iraqi people -- Kurds, Shia, Sunni -- walked up to the abyss, took the look in, didn't like what they saw, have pulled together, have pulled back from violence, and are working together to keep things calm and to find the right mix for their own government," Pace said.

but, keep this in mind...
Anthony Cordesman, the Arleigh A. Burke chair in strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies . . . noted that when military leaders speak publicly, "They have to spin the issue -- particularly for American and European audiences -- and there's often a rather serious lack of realism."

something else to keep in mind... george w. bush is general pace's commander-in-chief and, at least according to george, we ARE in a war...

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Restoring the sacred aura of Gandhi's shrine after Bush's visit

what...? you would expect george bush to show respect for anyone else's culture...? puh-l-e-e-e-eze...
Hindu priests who look after the memorial of Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi conducted a purification ceremony at the shrine after a visit from President Bush. But it wasn't the president who offended them, it was the sniffer-dogs who scoured the area ahead of his visit.

[...]

The dogs, flown in from the U.S., were part of the intense security surrounding the president, but the Hindu priests believe they tainted the site.

Letting dogs into the memorial also drew sharp protest from Hindu politicians and Gandhi's great grandson, Tushar Gandhi, who called the incident a "national shame," the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

if george visited my house, i think i'd end up moving out... i don't think there's a purification rite that would remove the "taint..."

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Rapid mobilization of resources to attack and root out political enemies

let 'em die in new orleans and on the gulf coast, let cheney and rove leak classified information to suit bushco's political ends, but make sure to attack and destroy any and all who might be shining a light into the darkest of administration corners and letting us see the vermin living there...
"There's a tone of gleeful relish in the way they talk about dragging reporters before grand juries, their appetite for withholding information, and the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors," said New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, in a statement responding to questions from The Washington Post. "I don't know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values it professes to be promoting abroad."

SOME DAYS, bill...?? only SOME...??? the first battle of that "war" of which you speak, billy-boy, took place in florida, post-election, november 2000, and the perpetrator of that "war" was formally sworn into office on presidential inauguration day, january 20, 2001...

(thanks to georgia10 at daily kos...)

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"Mr. Bush might as well have tied a pretty red bow around his India nuclear deal and mailed it as a gift to Tehran."

maybe - although i doubt it - the title of this nyt editorial reflects some inkling of bushco's real agenda...


i've been saying all along that their REAL agenda has nothing to do with increasing national security, fostering world peace or stamping out terrorism... instead, they are intent on doing whatever it takes to keep fear and threat levels high which, in turn, allows greater opportunity to manipulate a fearful citizenry...
Fast-forward to Thursday's nuclear deal with India, in which President Bush agreed to share civilian nuclear technology with India despite its nuclear weapons programs and its refusal to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

This would be a bad idea at any time, rewarding India for flouting the basic international understanding that has successfully discouraged other countries from South Korea to Saudi Arabia from embarking on their own efforts to build nuclear weapons. But it also undermines attempts to rein in Iran, whose nuclear program is progressing fast and unnerving both its neighbors and the West.

The India deal is exactly the wrong message to send right now, just days before Washington and its European allies will be asking the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran's case to the United Nations Security Council for further action. Iran's hopes of preventing this depend on convincing the rest of the world that the West is guilty of a double standard on nuclear issues. Mr. Bush might as well have tied a pretty red bow around his India nuclear deal and mailed it as a gift to Tehran.

another smashing success...

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Ignoring public diplomacy in the Muslim world or talking out of only one side of your mouth

spreading hypocrisy around the world...
Bush has all along made the mistake of playing to Muslim leaders rather than to Muslim publics. Yet he has at the same time undermined authoritarian leaders with his talk of spreading democracy. So a military dictator like Pervez Musharraf, who intervened to corrupt the 2002 Pakistani parliamentary elections, lacks legitimacy according to Bush's rhetoric even as Bush pals around with him and makes him as an individual the cornerstone of US policy in that part of the world.

Meantime, Bush has had a predator missile fired on a Pakistani village, and has been complaisant toward US torture of Muslim prisoners at Bagram and in Iraq.

The PR disaster of the Pakistan trip is a decisive and sad reflection on the complete failure of Bush at public diplomacy in the Muslim world, at a time when nothing is more important to US security and goals abroad.

and we wonder why they hate us...

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