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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 03/12/2006 - 03/19/2006
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- Noam Chomsky
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, March 18, 2006

"[A] bizarre kind of double talk" that abuses the rules of legitimate discussion

just another twisted, manipulative tool from the bottomless toolbox of karl rove... (you can't believe this kind of rhetorical deceit can come from anyone else, can you...?)
When the president starts a sentence with "some say" or offers up what "some in Washington" believe, as he is doing more often these days, a rhetorical retort almost assuredly follows.

The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents. In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position.

He typically then says he "strongly disagrees" — conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making.

Bush routinely is criticized for dressing up events with a too-rosy glow. But experts in political speech say the straw man device, in which the president makes himself appear entirely reasonable by contrast to supposed "critics," is just as problematic.

Because the "some" often go unnamed, Bush can argue that his statements are true in an era of blogs and talk radio. Even so, "'some' suggests a number much larger than is actually out there," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

A specialist in presidential rhetoric, Wayne Fields of Washington University in St. Louis, views it as "a bizarre kind of double talk" that abuses the rules of legitimate discussion.

"It's such a phenomenal hole in the national debate that you can have arguments with nonexistent people," Fields said. "All politicians try to get away with this to a certain extent. What's striking here is how much this administration rests on a foundation of this kind of stuff."

what's "striking here" is how much this administration rests on a foundation of virtually EVERY kind of stuff that is diametrically opposed to anything that even resembles decency, honesty, and basic humanity...

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Steve Clemons: "Just for the record, here is what 'stunning isolation' looks like."

(thanks to the washington note...)
Vote on Human Rights Council

The draft resolution to establish the Human Rights Council (document A/60/L.48) was adopted by a recorded vote of 170 in favour to 4 against, with 3 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Federated States of Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau, United States.

Abstain: Belarus, Iran, Venezuela.

Absent: Central African Republic, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Equatorial Guinea, Georgia, Kiribati, Liberia, Nauru.

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Something deeply broken about the corporate system in America; kleptocracy at work; a corrupt, failed third-world state; United Airlines

bankruptcy as a business strategy... bankruptcy as a license to steal...

ben stein, of all the unlikely people, hits another one out of the park (the first one to come to my attention was courtesy of skadi) and, in so doing, shines yet another light on my favorite chew-toy, united airlines, as well on the rotten-to-the-core system that's robbing us blind...

Several people sent clippings describing how UAL provided Glenn F. Tilton, who was living in San Francisco when it hired him as chairman and chief executive, with a suite in a luxury hotel when he spent time at its headquarters in Chicago. UAL was paying for the suite -- which cost $18,000 a month, according to The San Francisco Chronicle -- while it was reorganizing its finances under bankruptcy court protection and telling tens of thousands of workers that their jobs had been eliminated, their pay cut, their pensions terminated or all of the above because the company was broke.

like yours truly...
Some of the letter writers recalled how UAL spent an average of $10 million a month on lawyers, accountants and investment bankers for 37 months while UAL was in bankruptcy, and yet was unable to pay its employees their pensions.

Now UAL has emerged from bankruptcy with a mighty flourish, and an allowance of hundreds of millions of dollars for its top executives. Some letters pointed out that one of UAL's board members is none other than our old friend Robert S. Miller, chief executive of Delphi, the auto parts maker.

Delphi also recently entered bankruptcy -- but proposed to the bankruptcy court a payment of well over $100 million to its top executives to keep them happy while it was in bankruptcy. Mr. Miller, who goes by Steve, a version of his middle name (not the one who sings "Fly Like an Eagle", but an artist of sorts nonetheless), has told Delphi's workers that they will have to take pay cuts of roughly two-thirds in order to save the business.

But my favorite communication, the one that made me stay up nights, was from a United States Army sergeant who has done two combat tours in Iraq and two more in Afghanistan, and is now home in Georgia training others to serve in those wars. I have been pals with this man for a couple of years now, and we talk on the phone. He has been following my articles online, and he simply asked, "Was this what I was fighting for in Iraq?"

The question haunts me, not only because of UAL and Delphi, but also because there is something deeply broken about the corporate system in America. Long ago, my pop was pals with Harlow H. Curtice, the president of General Motors in its glory days in the 1950's. Mr. Curtice presided over a spectacularly powerful and profitable G.M.

For that, in his peak year as I recall from my youth, he was paid about $400,000 plus a special superbonus of $400,000, which made him one of the highest-paid executives in America. At that time, a line worker with overtime might have made $10,000 a year. In those days, that differential was considered very large -- very roughly 40 times the assembly line worker's pay, without bonus; very roughly 80 times with bonus. A differential of more like 10 to 20 times was more the norm.

Now C.E.O.'s routinely take home hundreds of times what the average worker is paid, whether or not the company is doing well. The graph for the pay of C.E.O.'s is a vertical line in the last five years. The graph for workers' pay is a flat line -- in every sense.

Now, my fellow free-market fans may well say: "Hey, stop your whining. This is the free market at work." Only it isn't the free market at work. It's a kleptocracy at work. (I am indebted to another of my correspondents for the word.) What's happening here is that the governance system for many -- by no means all -- corporations has simply stopped working.

For centuries, the idea has held that the stockholders own the company. They are the trustors. The trustors select directors who in turn hire a chief executive and other top officers and then keep an eye on them for the stockholders. They -- the chief executive, other top officers and the directors -- are all agents for the stockholders, many of whom are often the employees, as is the case at UAL.

But what has happened is that -- as in a corrupt, failed third-world state -- the trustees in too many cases are captives of the C.E.O. and his colleagues; they owe both their places on the board and their emoluments to the chief executive, and they exercise no meaningful restraint at all on managers. The directors are instead a sort of praetorian guard, protecting management from its real bosses, the stockholders, as management sucks the blood out of the company.

I am by no means saying this is the standard or the usual way business is done in this country. Most managements are still honest and hard-working, I believe. But far too many are simply in the catbird seat to take what is not decently theirs from people who cannot afford to be taken.

Government, meanwhile, does nothing, or next to nothing. Courts, especially bankruptcy courts, do nothing. And the employees and stockholders and the whole society are looted. Maybe it's not looting in the legal sense, but something basic is removed from the society. In the capitalist society, the most basic foundation is trust. But in today's world, trust is abused, mocked, drained of meaning.

Again, I am not talking everywhere, by any means. I work with many, many businessmen and businesswomen, and a huge majority are honest and amazingly hard-working. I am sure that this is true nationally. But enough are not so honest and hard-working that it takes a toll on the rest of us.

Don't get me wrong. I am not a newborn. I know that looting is not new. Man is highly flawed when money is on the table and not guarded well. I saw it and wrote about it in great detail when Michael R. Milken and Drexel Burnham Lambert were ascendant, and in many other cases. It was terrible and dreadful, at least in my view, back then in the 1980's. It has always been terrible.

But there is something new and unlovely that my pal in the Army brought up. Now, we are engaged in a war. More than 100,000 Americans are fighting far from home. Many don't come back. Many come home crippled. They are fighting for a vision of a just and decent society back home in glorious, shining, blessed America. And back home, meanwhile, the looters are running wild, taking the meaning out of that vision of America, taking some -- by no means all -- of the beauty out of America as a land of justice and fairness.

mr. stein's rosy view of the past is, imho, deluded... what IS different now is that the curtain has been pulled back, the tactics are bolder, the stakes are higher, the last slices of the pie are on the table and the 'rents are going to make sure they get theirs first, screw the little brats...

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Pressuring the judiciary to the will of Bushco's agenda

you can only imagine the back-channel communication that took place between brinkema and the bushco minions...
The death-penalty trial of al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui is back on track after a judge reversed course and agreed to admit some evidence about aviation security.

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema relented Friday from her earlier order barring all such testimony. She had issued that ruling Tuesday as punishment for the alleged misconduct of Transportation Security Administration lawyer Carla J. Martin, who coached witnesses.

"It would be unfortunate if this case could not go forward to some final resolution," Brinkema told trial attorneys in a telephone conference.

[...]

The judge accepted a compromise proposal by the government. It allows prosecutors to present limited testimony about what the government could have done to enhance aviation security before the Sept. 11 attacks if Moussaoui had not lied to FBI agents Aug. 16-17, 2001, about his al-Qaida membership and plans to crash a jetliner into the White House.

Prosecutors had told Brinkema their case would be gutted without at least some testimony on aviation security. While they disputed her ruling that the aviation security evidence was contaminated beyond repair by Martin, prosecutors suggested using a new, substitute witness and documents that Martin had no contact with.

if this case went down in flames south (pardon the pun, it was unintentional but too good to strike completely), bush might as well forget trying to convince the american people that he's serious about national security and terrorism...

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Let's get really real... They know EXACTLY what they're doing...

any implication that bushco doesn't know what it's doing is just plain wrong...
Yesterday, former National Security Advisor Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski gave a speech on the Iraq war at the Center for American Progress.

  • Neither President Truman nor Eisenhower – Democrat and Republican – ever spoke of America being a “nation at war” during the Korean War. Neither President Johnson nor Nixon ever spoke of America being a “nation at war” during the Vietnam War. Yes we have a serious challenge from the potential threat of terrorism and we have to wage an unrelenting struggle against it. But to describe America repeatedly as a nation at war – implicitly of course with a commander and chief in charge – is to contribute to a view of the world by America that stimulates fear and isolates us from others.
  • Do we really want Iran to desist, or do we want to drive it into extremism? It surely cannot be our deliberate intention to fuse Iranian nationalism with Iranian fundamentalism. But that is precisely what we are doing.
creating fear through endless war, seizing unfettered power from a cowering populace, using unabashed measures of social control by virtually suspending the constitution and the bill of rights, funneling vast amounts of money to the already super-rich - these ARE the top bushco agenda items... "surely [they] cannot be our deliberate intention[s]..." but they are, zbigniew, they are...

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Friday, March 17, 2006

This interchange chills me to the bone

(thanks to media matters and atrios...)
On Hardball, Chris Matthews, Dana Milbank, and Pat Buchanan discussed what they agreed were the likely political benefits to President Bush and congressional Republicans if he were to launch a pre-emptive war against Iran.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe, if we wake up tomorrow morning -- and things tend to happen like this. Dana, you first: If we wake up tomorrow morning, it's 9 o'clock, and we learn that the United States has attacked Iran, has attacked its nuclear installations, its laboratories, its bases, its silos, whatever, to pre-empt them from building a nuclear weapon, would the American people accept that and all the consequences that came with it?

MILBANK: Well, I don't know about accepting it, but it certainly would cause a rallying effect, you know, so, I mean, everything in this poll says lame-duck presidency. But you have to remember terrorist strike, national crisis -- well, he's still probably not going to get tax reform through -- but suddenly, he's a strong national leader again. So, you certainly can't rule out that possibility. You know on your --

MATTHEWS: Could they also think he's insane? . . . I'm dead serious about this. Could that be too radical a move? I'm trying to find this out.

[...]

BUCHANAN: I don't think he's going to do it for political reasons, but if he did do it for political reasons, you'd do it in October.

MATTHEWS: Why? To win?

BUCHANAN: Sure, you'd get right up the polls. Just like, you'd go right up, you'd win the election.

MATTHEWS: Dana, I'm staggered by the possible truth in what he just said. That a blitzkrieg-type action by the president -- do something before the public even thought about him doing it -- would put him on top of the heap again.

MILBANK: There is undoubtedly a rallying effect. There's no way, there's no way around that. The question is: Exactly when do you do the action, and exactly how long do you stay up at the top of the heap here?

the fact that this discussion is actually being held among those who present themselves as communicators and shapers of public opinion is staggering... even more staggering is that i believe it's not only within the realm of possibility, i think it's in the realm of probability... if i was a betting man, i would say that it would either be iran as these cynics speculate or a major terrorist attack on domestic soil, either one well-timed for maximum poll benefit...

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It's crunch time

at this point in u.s. history, robert parry sees three ways we can go... unfortunately, only one of 'em is very likely and, even though it's the one that appears "safe," it's the very one that will continue to take us downhill...
[A]t this third anniversary of Bush’s ruinous invasion of Iraq – with more than 2,300 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis dead – there is reason to look at three alternative scenarios for the future, from one that might be best for America (though the most fanciful) to what could lie ahead if events continue as they are (the most likely).

Option One
Option One would be a national recognition of the Supreme Court’s historic mistake in 2000 and an adoption of a bipartisan strategy to rectify it – putting the United States back on the course that the American voters chose five years ago. This option also could open the door to genuine bipartisanship, possibly even a unity government.

[...]

[T]oday’s political reality – especially the deeply angry right-wing political/media infrastructure – makes Option One virtually “unthinkable,” even fanciful. George W. Bush and his dead-enders would never admit they’ve made mistakes, let alone relinquish power to a Democrat.

Option Two
With Bush and Cheney dug in – and conceivably lashing out with more military operations abroad, such as a military assault on Iran – the American voters would have to intervene via Election 2006 putting in a Democratic House and/or a Democratic Senate that would confront Bush.

A House Judiciary Committee under the chairmanship of Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, would demand documents about Bush’s secret policies and investigate Bush’s various abuses of power – policies of torture, warrantless wiretaps, detentions without trials and domestic propaganda.

But Bush, who believes he holds “plenary” – or unlimited – powers as Commander in Chief, would surely refuse to cooperate, forcing Congress to subpoena records and eventually consider holding the Executive in contempt.

The intensity of the political battle would deepen with the nation split into two warring camps: on one side, Americans demanding that Bush be held accountable under the laws and the U.S. Constitution – and on the other, Bush loyalists calling his critics “traitors.”

Bush’s megalomania, as a modern-day emperor who rages when aides bring him bad news, would prevent meaningful compromise. If Congress stuck to its guns and pressed for impeachment, a full-scale constitutional crisis would ensue.

There’s also the question of what Bush would do if he were faced with impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate. Would he go – as Richard Nixon finally did, waving his V-for-victory salute and flying into political exile – or would Bush resist with whatever forces remained at his disposal?

Option Three
Bush continues as President for the next three years, even as he consolidates his authoritarian powers and leads the United States deeper into the neoconservative delusions of “preemptive” wars.

Without a pushback from Congress, Bush is sure to press his theories of the “unitary executive” domestically and his strategy of “preemptive wars” internationally. For instance, despite the Iraq disaster, Bush reaffirmed his commitment to the doctrine of “preemption” in his new national security strategy paper issued March 16.

[...]

[T]he “safe” political option – to let Bush operate much as he has since Sept. 11, 2001 – has consequences that may be more dangerous than the other two more confrontational options.

[...]

U.S. citizens may have little choice other than to begin pondering difficult options that go beyond what’s envisioned by today’s conventional wisdom.

i'll leave it to you to envision what those options might be...

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Poll: 46% support censure resolution, 44% opposed

well, ain't THIS interesting...?

(thanks, once again, to glenn greenwald...)
Do you favor or oppose the United States Senate passing a resolution censuring President George W. Bush for authorizing wiretaps of Americans within the United States without obtaining court orders?

All Adults - 3/15/06

Favor - 46%
Oppose - 44%
Undecided - 10%


Based on 1,100 completed telephone interviews among a random sample of adults nationwide March 13-15, 2006. The theoretical margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points, 95% of the time.

Already, a plurality support the Censure Resolution, and that's with just one person -- Russ Feingold -- advocating it, and Democrats running away from it. Think of what those numbers will be if Democrats stand united, with some Republicans, and forcefully explain why we cannot allow the President to break the law with impunity.

i'm trying to think of what the numbers will be IF the democrats stand united...

~scratches head~
~rubs chin~
~looks at ceiling~
~scowls and purses lips~
~looks out window~

sorry... i'm having trouble with the "standing united" part...

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Is the shit gonna fly and, if so, when and how much...?

glenn greenwald makes an exceptionally important point that we would all do very well to ponder...
There is a palpable increase in the level of extremism and desperation among Bush followers as the Commander in Chief's approval ratings fall lower and lower and as the views which Americans have of both him and his party become more hostile. This is going to be a significant dynamic -- as their power slips further and further away, Bush followers are going to resort to increasingly radical and rage-fueled measures to keep it. Here are just a couple of illustrative examples in the past 24 hours:

(1) Paul at Powerline calls for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

[...]

(2) In a post condemning Feingold's censure resolution, Jeff Goldstein predicts that the U.S. is headed for another civil war -- at least he hopes so . . .

[...]

George Bush's Presidency is disintegrating in front of our eyes. And the Republican Party which he has dominated and controlled for the last five years is extremely weak and fragile. But they are not going to just fade quietly into the night.

[...]

There will be few limits on what many of them will be willing, and eager, to do in order to hold onto it. Removing dissident judges, imprisoning political opponents, and calling for a "civil war" is a nice start.

i stopped doubting the lengths to which the current regime and their lackeys would go when i saw them smearing richard clarke, a man passionately devoted to his country and to ostensibly the same political agenda that they were... i then reluctantly came to the conclusion that i had been avoiding for some months: bushco has no desire for anything but raw, unobstructed power and they will get it and hold on to it by whatever means possible... they've managed to keep right on truckin' since then, while continuing to convince a hell of a lot of american citizens that they have their best interests at heart... now, with popular support disappearing faster than mist in the morning sun, anyone who thinks bushco is going to miraculously turn reasonable is smoking some powerful stuff...

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Battered-media syndrome

and the wapo is reporting this nearly six years later because...?
President Bush's troubles with congressional Republicans, which erupted during the backlash to the Dubai seaport deal, are rooted in policy frustrations and personal resentments that GOP lawmakers say stretch back to the opening days of the administration.

you can't tell me that there was no one in the media who didn't know about this or was unable to develop a credible off-the-record source to inform the american people that all was not in rosy lockstep in the r's camp... what makes it so much worse is the wapo's incredible disingenuousness in deflecting attention from their own responsbility by citing things like this...
Congressional scholar Norman J. Ornstein has written that the recently vented anger, after being suppressed for years out of loyalty or fear, might be seen in psychological terms. He called the condition "battered-Congress syndrome."

the utter failure in this article to even hint at any media role in playing along suggests to me a "battered-media syndrome" and tells me that the power of rove, cheney, et al, has been such that, until the on-going collapse of popular support was so massive that it could no longer be ignored, there was no feeling of safety in reporting anything other than administration spin and lies...

now, while i understand the strong instinct for survival in the face of the r's undeniable capacity for wreaking both career and personal destruction, to continue to sit on the sidelines while your country is being systematically trashed is complicity of the worst sort...

First they came for the Communists but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists but I was not one of them, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews but I was not Jewish so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

Martin Niemoeller

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Is this headline necessary...?

Call for Censure Is Rallying Cry to Bush's Base

i don't know about the rest of you, but when i read a headline like that and then a first paragraph like this, i think, oh, what the hell's the use, and want to just throw up my hands and walk away...
Republicans, worried that their conservative base lacks motivation to turn out for the fall elections, have found a new rallying cry in the dreams of liberals about censuring or impeaching President Bush.

maybe that's the whole idea, eh...?

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The U.S., human rights, the U.N. and foreign policy - a few short perspectives

perspective 1...
[T]he United Nations overwhelmingly approved a new Human Rights Council on Wednesday to replace the widely discredited Human Rights Commission.

John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador, said the council was "not sufficiently improved" over its widely discredited predecessor.

The vote in the General Assembly was 170 to 4 with 3 abstentions. Joining the United States were Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau. Belarus, Iran and Venezuela abstained.

perspective 2...
Foreign policy, legal and human rights authorities are raising serious questions about the credibility of the U.S. State Department's annual report on human rights, released last week.

Noah S. Leavitt, an attorney who has worked with the International Law Commission of the United Nations in Geneva and the International Court of Justice in The Hague, told IPS: "The sad reality is that because of the [George W.] Bush administration's haughty unilateralism and its mockery of international prohibitions on torture, most of the rest of the world no longer takes the U.S. seriously on human rights matters."

perspective 3...
Releasing the latest edition of its annual human rights "Country Reports", the U.S. State Department Wednesday named Iran and China as among the world's "most systematic human rights violators" in 2005, along with North Korea, Burma, Zimbabwe, Cuba and Belarus.

perspective 4...
"In Iraq 2005 was a year of major progress for democracy, democratic rights and freedom," according to the introduction, citing the "steady growth of NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and other civil society associations that promote human rights", as well as the holding of two elections and one constitutional plebiscite.

perspective 5...
As the United States began making the case in the U.N. Security Council this week for what its Ambassador John Bolton calls "painful consequences" if Iran continues with its controversial nuclear programme, Washington is facing a familiar dilemma: What to do if the rest of the world refuses to go along?

perspective 6...
President Bush plans to issue a new national security strategy today reaffirming his doctrine of preemptive war against terrorists and hostile states with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, despite the troubled experience in Iraq.

perspective 7...
An updated version of the Bush administration's national security strategy, the first in more than three years, gives no ground on the decision to order a pre-emptive attack on Iraq in 2003, and identifies Iran as the country likely to present the single greatest future challenge to the United States.

u.s. success in foreign policy goals vs. credibility in the world of public opinion: disaster...

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Molly brings out the long knives

i've repeatedly expressed my high regard for molly ivins while lamenting that the seriousness of what's happening in the u.s. seems to have dampened her sense of humor... well, she's back, only not with humor but with high and full in-your-face outrage...
Mah fellow progressives, now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party. I don’t know about you, but I have had it with the D.C. Democrats, had it with the DLC Democrats, had it with every calculating, equivocating, triangulating, straddling, hair-splitting son of a bitch up there, and that includes Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I will not be supporting Senator Clinton because: a) she has no clear stand on the war and b) Terri Schiavo and flag-burning are not issues where you reach out to the other side and try to split the difference. You want to talk about lowering abortion rates through cooperation on sex education and contraception, fine, but don’t jack with stuff that is pure rightwing firewater.

I can’t see a damn soul in D.C. except Russ Feingold who is even worth considering for President. The rest of them seem to me so poisonously in hock to this system of legalized bribery they can’t even see straight.

goddam right, molly...

(thanks to john at americablog...)

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[T]he traditional media is made up of a growing number of increasingly sloppy children. And their sloppiness is now jeopardizing our democracy.

what john aravosis says...

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I'm happy everything is going so well in Iraq

Iraqi authorities discovered at least 87 corpses — men shot to death execution-style — as Iraq edged closer to open civil warfare.

[...]

Iraq's Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, meanwhile, told The Associated Press security officials had foiled a plot that would have put hundreds of al-Qaida men at critical guard posts around Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, home to the U.S. and other foreign embassies, as well as the Iraqi government.

A senior Defense Ministry official said the 421 al-Qaida fighters were recruited to storm the U.S. and British embassies and take hostages. Several ranking Defense Ministry officials have been jailed in the plot, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

meanwhile, rummy and the other u.s. spinmeisters soldier on...
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday that he had not received anything definitive on the report, but cautioned that earlier accounts are often adjusted later on.

[...]

After members of all the major Iraqi political blocs met Tuesday with U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, no breakthrough was reported on solving the deadlock over the nomination of al-Jaafari to head a new government.

But in an interview with Fox television, U.S. Embassy Political Counselor Robert Ford seemed guardedly optimistic.

"I can't say that we've had a breakthrough, but we had good talks today," Ford said.

iraq has been "edging closer to open civil warfare" for some time now... i say, if it quacks like a duck...

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Juan Bigote (John Bolton) is doing what he was sent to the U.N. to do...

saying "no," giving no quarter, creating chaos and making enemies of one and all...
The United States is being reduced to a minority of one in its unyielding opposition to a proposal to create a new Human Rights Council (HRC) to replace the U.N.'s existing much-maligned Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

On the opposite side of the aisle are strong supporters of the proposal -- an overwhelming majority of the U.N.'s 191 member states -- including the 25-member European Union, the 114-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) of developing nations, plus virtually all of the key U.S. human rights organisations.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, refusing to make any political concessions, says Washington will not support the current proposal -- until and unless there are amendments to it. "If it is put to a vote (in the General Assembly), we will vote no," he told reporters Thursday.

[...]

One of Bolton's demands is that the new Council should elect its members by a two-thirds majority, making it increasingly difficult for "habitual human rights abusers" such as Sudan, Zimbabwe and Burma to find a seat.

But the proposal for the new HRC, crafted after months of negotiations by Eliasson, calls for a vote by absolute majority, meaning 96 out of 191 members, not two-thirds.

This was the best compromise that Eliasson was able to reach with a majority of member states during his long drawn-out negotiations.

Bolton says that Eliasson's best is not good enough for him, because 96 votes will be relatively easy for the "abusers" to garner in order to gain membership in the HRC.

On the contrary, an African diplomat told IPS, "In reality, 96 votes are as difficult to get as two-thirds." "And more so," he said, "because voting will be by secret ballot."

so, why is bolton opposed...?
The secret ballot, he said, can also go against the United States, which is now accused of human rights violations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. "There are many member states who think that Washington is also a human rights violator and has no place in the new Council."

oh... never mind...

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Wussy Dems aided and abetted by the WaPo... Or is that the other way around...?

no matter...
Many Democrats, while sympathetic to Feingold's maneuver, appeared to be distancing themselves from his resolution yesterday, wary of polls showing that a majority of Americans side with the president on wiretapping tactics.

we have a criminal for a president... we have a majority of u.s. citizens concerned over government domestic spying activities... we have a courageous united states senator speaking truth to power and calling for accountability... we have the other members of his own party rushing for the exits... we have the major newspaper in the nation's capital highlighting the lack of democratic support of one of their own and misleading information about american support for bush's illegal activity... even the front-paged headline drips with negativism...

A Senate Maverick Acts to Force an Issue
Democrat Feingold's Motion to Censure the President Roils Both Parties


what an opportunity for the r's to jump in with their usual "partisanship" and "grandstanding" accusations... did they snatch it up...?

Republicans seized on Feingold's presidential ambitions as the motivation behind his bid. Feingold "should be ashamed of this political ploy," said Frist, who also has presidential ambitions.

do bears shit in the woods...?

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Charging for aisle seats...? Gimme a friggin' break...!

what an enormous pile of crap...
Struggling US airlines, looking for new ways to generate revenue, are getting bolder about charging for the things that make air travel a little more comfortable -- including aisle seats.

First came charging passengers for in-flight meals. Then, reservations done by phone cost extra. And now Northwest Airlines is trying to charge passengers for aisle seats and emergency-exit rows.

The day is coming when carriers will require special fees even to check a bag, experts say.

they treat you like shit, lie to you and then announce how innovative they're getting about picking your pocket...

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A tale of two headlines

Baghdad Police Find 72 Bodies in 24 Hours

Bush Expresses Confidence in Iraq's Future

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Rupert on the power of the internet and our digital future

as little respect as i have for how rupert murdoch has trained his global media circus to pander to conservative governments, with the u.s.' fox news as a prime case in point, he didn't get where he is through ignorance and a failure to comprehend reality...
"Power is moving away from the old elite in our industry - the editors, the chief executives and, let's face it, the proprietors," said Mr Murdoch . . .

Far from mourning its passing, he evangelised about a digital future that would put that power in the hands of those already launching a blog every second, sharing photos and music online and downloading television programmes on demand.

[...]

"It is difficult, indeed dangerous, to underestimate the huge changes this revolution will bring or the power of developing technologies to build and destroy - not just companies but whole countries."

[...]

"It is a creative, destructive technology that is still in its infancy, yet breaking and remaking everything in its path.

he neglected to mention that the key to this glorious future is unlimited, unobstructed access for all... without that, it's only a matter of time before the have more's will dominate just as they have in every other area of our lives...

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The United States abhors torture



Steve Bell in the Guardian

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"No leadership, no strategy, no coordination, no structure and inaccessible to ordinary Iraqis."

(thanks to susang at daily kos...)
That was British envoy John Sawers' assessment of the U.S. occupation forces to Tony Blair in May 2003, four days after he arrived in Iraq. Three years ago. The scathing report was loaded into a memo even more scathingly titled "What's Going Wrong," one of a series of leaked documents given to The Guardian, which described the exchanges as peppered with "unusual frankness."

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The U.S. hasn't stopped exploiting blacks

but the r's work hard to make them willing participants in their own manipulation... case in point, claude allen...
Conservatives desperately need blacks such as Allen to maintain the public illusion that black conservatives have real clout and a popular following in black communities. Their great value is that they promote the myth that a big segment of blacks support political conservative principles.

[...]

The young black conservative political activists such as Allen spin, prime and defend administration policies on affirmative action, welfare, laissez-faire capitalism and anti-government regulations with the best of white conservatives.

[...]

But none of their efforts touting GOP policies have helped much. Bush still got only a marginal bump up overall in the black vote in 2004, and with his Katrina bumble his poll ratings are stuck even deeper in the tank with blacks. Still, Republicans have done everything possible to ease the way up the political ladder for their bevy of black conservatives. Allen's career is a textbook example . . .

[...]

In years past, scandal-plagued black Republican boosters and appointees pretty much skated away with little more than a spate of bad publicity and a hand slap. Allen may not be as lucky. He may eventually be prosecuted. But as long as Republicans find men like him useful in their drive to make the party appear to be an authentic voice in black America, they'll do whatever they can to keep them as far out of legal harm's way as possible.

applying the word "shameless" to the r's has almost become a cliché but, oftentimes, clichés are vehicles to communicate powerful truths...

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Sen. Russ Feingold introduces the resolution to censure President Bush

this resolution deserves the broadest possible bipartisan support but, as we know, the r's won't back it and, sadly, there will be a number of dems that won't either...
[W]e are faced with an executive branch that places itself above the law. The founders understood that the branches must check each other to control abuses of government power. The president’s actions are such an abuse, Mr. President. His actions must be checked, and he should be censured.

This President exploited the climate of anxiety after September 11, 2001, both to push for overly intrusive powers in the Patriot Act, and to take us into a war in Iraq that has been a tragic diversion from the critical fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates. In both of those instances, however, Congress gave its approval to the President’s actions, however mistaken that approval may have been.

[...]

Not only did the President break the law, he also actively misled Congress and the American people about his actions, and then, when the program was made public, about the legality of the NSA program.

He has fundamentally violated the trust of the American people.

[...]

The President’s claims of inherent executive authority, and his assertions that the courts have approved this type of activity, are baseless.

But it is one thing to make a legal argument that has no real support in the law. It is much worse to do what the President has done, which is to make misleading statements about what prior Presidents have done and what courts have approved, to try to make the public believe his legal arguments are much stronger than they are.

[...]

Even more troubling than the arguments the President has made is what he relies on to make them convincing – the credibility of the office of the President itself. He essentially argues that the American people should trust him simply because of the office he holds.

[...]

Passing a resolution to censure the President is a way to hold this President accountable. A resolution of censure is a time-honored means for the Congress to express the most serious disapproval possible, short of impeachment, of the Executive’s conduct.

contact your senators, be they dem or r, and ask them to support this resolution, any allegiances to bush be damned...

(thanks to raw story...)

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They want the referee to step in [to] protect them against my little pinky

hilarious - and spot on...
During a March 12 interview with C-SPAN president and chief executive officer Brian Lamb, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann said:

"When I attack Bill O'Reilly or criticize him for something that he said on the air, some ludicrous suggestion like, you know, we should let Al Qaeda go in and blow up San Francisco because he doesn't like San Francisco, I mean, just lunatic things, if I punch upwards at Fox News, the clever response, the cynical and brilliant response is to just ignore. Like, well, why do we have to worry, they have one-seventh of our audience? They attack. Bill O'Reilly's agent calls the head of NBC week after week saying, you have got to get Olbermann to stop this, as if for some reason there are rules here. We have -- these are the people who have suspended the rules, and they want the referee to step in [to] protect them against my little pinky."

olbermann is one of the very few honest-to-god straight-talkers left in our sorry traditional media...

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A stunning development at the opening of the fifth day of the Moussaoui trial

unbelievable... when you think things with the bush administration simply can't get any more bizarre...
An angry federal judge unexpectedly recessed the sentencing trial of confessed al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui on Monday to consider whether government violations of her rules against coaching witnesses should remove the death penalty as an option.

The stunning development came at the opening of the fifth day of the trial after the government informed the judge and the defense over the weekend that a lawyer for the Transportation Security Administration had coached four Federal Aviation Administration witnesses in violation of the rule set by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema. The rule was that no witness should hear trial testimony in advance.

"This is the second significant error by the government affecting the constitutional rights of this defendant and more importantly the integrity of the criminal justice system of the United States in the context of a death case," Brinkema told lawyers outside the presence of the jury.

[...]

Brinkema noted that Thursday, Novak asked a question that she ruled out of order after the defense said the question should result in a mistrial. In that question, Novak suggested that Moussaoui might have had some responsibility to go back to the
FBI, after he got a lawyer, and then confess his terrorist ties.

Brinkema warned the government at that point that it was treading on shaky legal ground because she knew of no case where a failure to act resulted in a death penalty as a matter of law.

Even prosecutor Novak conceded that the witness coaching was "horrendously wrong."

According to descriptions by the lawyers in court, it appeared that a female Transportation Security Administration attorney who had attended closed hearings in the case went over with the four coming witnesses the opening statements at the trial, the government's strategy and even the transcript of the questioning of an FBI agent on the first day.

"She was at the Classified Information Act procedures hearing and she should have known it was wrong," Novak said.

when a federal judge says something like this, you know it's bad...
"In all the years I've been on the bench, I have never seen such an egregious violation of a rule on witnesses," she said.

and, not only that, but the government's case apparently rests almost entirely on those witnesses...
Prosecutor David Novak replied that removing the FAA witnesses would "exclude half the government's case."

did i mention i found this unbelievable...?

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Milosevic the Hero?

Why is there a picture of a man kissing the "Butcher of the Balkans" on the front page of CNN? Notice also the beautiful floral arrangement nearby on the altar to Milosevic. Am I overreacting? Why is this all they can talk about? I watched CNN and the BBC on their weekend editions, a virtual hagiography of the late madman. How will his family deal with the burial, etc...? Is this all they have time for? Why not at least make a gloss over of the crimes, (Srebrenica for one) for which he has been accused and the controversy of his trial? It seems that these organizations will instead more likely miss the opportunity to exploit a real life war criminal on the TV, as that hallowed group appears to be vanishing before our eyes. For instance, we will probably not see any high ranking U.S. officials being accused of committing war crimes any time soon. The U.S. in many cases refuses to provide aid to nations that might accuse them of committing war crimes while they (U.S. military) are present in their nation. Why, even as we speak "el bigote", to borrow from the professor, aka Bolton the mustachioed of the feckless U.N., is, well, we’ll give you his words...
We have said, and it is our objective, that we eliminate the UN Human Rights Commission to create a new Human Rights Council that will hopefully be immune from the deficiencies of the current Human Rights Commission.

In fact, this is a pretty good idea, now endorsed by many nations and human rights organizations. Only, el bigote changed his mind. Now it’s no. According to BoltonWatch, the newfangled Human Rights Commission does not go far enough, including an argument endorsed in a recent New York Times editorial that nations under sanction by the Security Council, two in total (Ivory Coast and Sudan), are not immediately banished from the council, which soup strainer originally wanted to be comprised of only Security Council nations, including China, Russia and the U.S. Note: High ranking officials in all three nations are eager, chomping at the bit so to speak, to report human rights abuses of their fellow partners. How does all this relate to Milosevic? Well, one gets the sense the big wig politicos from around the globe watched on as his charges and his trial came under scrutiny with a bit of anxiety.
It was considered likely that, if allowed to present his case, Milošević would attempt to establish that NATO's attack on Yugoslavia was aggressive, thus being a war crime under international law and that, while supporting the KLA, were aware that they had practiced and intended to continue practicing genocide, which is a crime against humanity. If a prima facie case for either claim were established, the ICTY would be legally obliged under its terms of reference to prepare an indictment against the leaders of most of the NATO countries, even though the Prosecutor already concluded an "inquiry" against the NATO leaders.

Thanks to wikipedia for the last quote.

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Will the real John McCain, please stand up?

Straight Talk Express, my ass. After watching McCain cozy up to Bush in the 2004 election (and before that), I knew for certain that the man either had no principles at all, or really is a far right Republican. Either way, I don't want him in charge of my country. Paul Krugman lays it out quite nicely.
It's time for some straight talk about John McCain. He isn't a moderate. He's much less of a maverick than you'd think. And he isn't the straight talker he claims to be.

Mr. McCain's reputation as a moderate may be based on his former opposition to the Bush tax cuts. In 2001 he declared, "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us."

But now — at a time of huge budget deficits and an expensive war, when the case against tax cuts for the rich is even stronger — Mr. McCain is happy to shower benefits on the most fortunate. He recently voted to extend tax cuts on dividends and capital gains, an action that will worsen the budget deficit while mainly benefiting people with very high incomes.

When it comes to foreign policy, Mr. McCain was never moderate. During the 2000 campaign he called for a policy of "rogue state rollback," anticipating the "Bush doctrine" of pre-emptive war unveiled two years later. Mr. McCain called for a systematic effort to overthrow nasty regimes even if they posed no imminent threat to the United States; he singled out Iraq, Libya and North Korea. Mr. McCain's aggressive views on foreign policy, and his expressed willingness, almost eagerness, to commit U.S. ground forces overseas, explain why he, not George W. Bush, was the favored candidate of neoconservative pundits such as William Kristol of The Weekly Standard.

Would Mr. McCain, like Mr. Bush, have found some pretext for invading Iraq? We'll never know. But Mr. McCain still thinks the war was a good idea, and he rejects any attempt to extricate ourselves from the quagmire. "If success requires an increase in American troop levels in 2006," he wrote last year, "then we must increase our numbers there." He didn't explain where the overstretched U.S. military is supposed to find these troops.

When it comes to social issues, Mr. McCain, who once called Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance," met with Mr. Falwell late last year. Perhaps as a result, he is now taking positions friendly to the religious right. Most notably, Mr. McCain's spokesperson says that he would have signed South Dakota's extremist new anti-abortion law.

The spokesperson went on to say that the senator would have taken "the appropriate steps under state law" to ensure that cases of rape and incest were excluded. But that attempt at qualification makes no sense: the South Dakota law has produced national shockwaves precisely because it prohibits abortions even for victims of rape or incest.

The bottom line is that Mr. McCain isn't a moderate; he's a man of the hard right. How far right? A statistical analysis of Mr. McCain's recent voting record, available at www.voteview.com, ranks him as the Senate's third most conservative member.

[...]

... Every once in a while he makes headlines by apparently defying Mr. Bush, but he always returns to the fold, even if the abuses he railed against continue unabated.

So here's what you need to know about John McCain.

He isn't a straight talker. His flip-flopping on tax cuts, his call to send troops we don't have to Iraq and his endorsement of the South Dakota anti-abortion legislation even while claiming that he would find a way around that legislation's central provision show that he's a politician as slippery and evasive as, well, George W. Bush.

He isn't a moderate. Mr. McCain's policy positions and Senate votes don't just place him at the right end of America's political spectrum; they place him in the right wing of the Republican Party.

And he isn't a maverick, at least not when it counts. When the cameras are rolling, Mr. McCain can sometimes be seen striking a brave pose of opposition to the White House. But when it matters, when the Bush administration's ability to do whatever it wants is at stake, Mr. McCain always toes the party line.

It's worth recalling that during the 2000 election campaign George W. Bush was widely portrayed by the news media both as a moderate and as a straight-shooter. As Mr. Bush has said, "Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

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United Airlines sucks... They can't seem to help it...

with so many other important things going on in the world, it seems a shame to waste time with corporate incompetence, but this takes the cake...

as a former employee, united and i have been on the outs since well before i left... only a couple of years after i started working there, as part of my job, i found out the grim reality of the company, namely, that its so-called leadership exhibits all the characteristics of our esteemed bush administration... now that they've emerged from bankruptcy and it's apparent that the "leadership," despite the infusion of fresh blood, is just as rotten to the core as the previous regime, let me relate my experience of last night and this morning... (please understand, however, the front line employees of united are, by and large, very good people, just working stiffs trying to get by in an environment of serial management abuse...)

last night, my daughter was flying on united from minneapolis via chicago to buenos aires to visit me... a major snowstorm unexpectedly created problems in minneapolis and her 6:50 p.m. departure didn't get off the ground until nearly 11... we had been sending text messages back and forth and i had talked to her twice by phone... i was monitoring the status of both flights on the united website... the website showed that the chicago-buenos aires flight had departed a half hour late so i knew she was going to be stuck at o'hare when she finally arrived... once she finally got airborne, it was 1:30 a.m. so i decided to hit the sack...

this morning, i awoke fairly early and checked both flights again on the united website... here is what i saw...






the website said that the minneapolis-chicago flight had been diverted to indianapolis and was still there... it showed the same information about the chicago-buenos aires flight that i had seen last night only updated to say that it would arrive in buenos aires approximately four hours late...

i called my daughter and announced myself by saying, "so, how are things in indianapolis?" trying to be cute... she told me she had just landed in chicago about 10 minutes before i called, that the plane had landed in indianapolis at about 1:30 a.m. and that they had arrived in chicago at about 4 a.m... she was on the customer service phone at the same time checking on whether or not she would be able to get out to buenos aires on tonight's flight... i heard her say, "oh, so it's not departed yet...?" it turns out that last night's chicago-buenos aires flight had been CANCELLED...

bottom line...? using the united website to check on flight status is not only a waste of time, it's also dead wrong... had i not been in direct contact with my daughter and been relying only on the website for information, i would be heading out to buenos aires ezeiza international airport in a couple of hours only to find out that my daughter is still in chicago and that the flight she was supposed to be on didn't even depart last night... this is pathetic performance... if i didn't know how much the peons who work there need their jobs, i would have been happy to see this sorry excuse for a major airline go permanently and irrevocably belly-up...

meanwhile, my daughter is still in chicago, cooling her heels, waiting for tonight's flight...

p.s. note the proud statement on the flight status screen: "here is the LATEST information about the flight you have selected..." those screen shots were taken at 11 a.m., argentina time, 9 a.m. u.s. eastern time... did i mention that i hate united...?

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Question: What is the implication of this headline and the related story...?

any thoughts...? needless to say, i have a few... (what, you thought maybe i DIDN'T...?)



Detainee in Photo With Dog Was 'High-Value' Suspect


When Army Sgt. Michael J. Smith faces a court-martial today on charges that he used his military working dog to harass and threaten detainees, one of the prime examples of that alleged misconduct will be a photograph of Smith holding the dog just inches from the face of a detainee. It is one of the notorious images to emerge from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Although officials characterized the other detainees who appeared in the Abu Ghraib photographs as common criminals and rioters, the orange-clad detainee seen cowering before the dog was different. Detainee No. 155148 was considered a high-value intelligence source suspected of having close ties to al-Qaeda. According to interviews, sworn statements from soldiers and military documents obtained by The Washington Post, Ashraf Abdullah Ahsy was at the center of a military intelligence "special project" designed to break him down, and was considered important enough that his interrogation was mentioned in a briefing to high-ranking intelligence officials at the Pentagon.

upon reading the first half a dozen paragraphs, i had the distinct feeling that the message was, "oh, he's a high-value detainee so OF COURSE using torture techniques would make sense..." not until 11 paragraphs in, do we get this...
Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, said he found the use of dogs "disturbing."

"It's more evidence that these Abu Ghraib torture techniques were consciously developed for the purpose of gathering intelligence and not something that was dreamed up by low-ranking soldiers on the night shift," he said.

read the following (8 paragraphs in) and see what you think now...
Smith, who has been charged with dereliction of duty and maltreatment of detainees, is scheduled to be tried at Fort Meade this week. He is also accused of using his dog to threaten two other detainees and for allegedly engaging in a contest to make detainees urinate and defecate out of fear.

that is the single most horrifying description of any that i have read about what has gone on in the name of "gathering intelligence" and the "war on terror..." yes, the beatings, the waterboarding, the humiliation, the simulated sex are all horrifying in their own right, but do you have any idea the level of terror that must be induced to cause someone to lose control of their bodily functions...? do you realize that voiding of the bladder and the bowels is the body's reaction to imminent death...? do you understand that this man, smith, with the blessing of his superiors and, by extension, the united states, is accused of making a game out of terrifying someone so much that they thought they were going to abruptly die...? i am ashamed for my country...

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Penultimate arrogance: " . . . people this Administration, and the President in particular, disdains. You scrape 'em off your shoes--and keep going."

you may have wondered where that feeling of being something scraped off someone's shoes came from... now you know...
"The Bushies have proved that five people can run the country for four years and one day," a G.O.P. congressional aide complained. The critics are conducting their conversations with the President's men in polite code, such as asking how they can help. "There is a drumbeat," a Bush friend explained, "but it's not resonant in the White House. These are people this Administration, and the President in particular, disdains. You scrape 'em off your shoes--and keep going."

ah, yes... disdain... THAT'S the word i was looking for...

dis·dain
Pronunciation: dis-'dAn
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English desdeyne, from Old French desdeign, from desdeignier
: a feeling of contempt for what is beneath one : synonym: SCORN

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Flamboyantly masquerading as defenders of America

glenn greenwald, writing in his blog, unclaimed territory, shares some thoughts on senator russ feingold's intent to introduce a measure to censure president bush... it's well worth the read but this short paragraph says it all...
Of all the dishonest and corrupt steps taken by this Administration, the worst, in my view, is that they have flamboyantly masqueraded as defenders of America while they have simultaneously sought to dismantle every political attribute and core principle that has defined who we are as a country for the last 225 years.

and they would be doing this because...? because they have no intention of giving up the power they've accrued... none... the country we thought we lived in has, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist... joe over at americablog was marveling this morning that "your president is clueless and ever so stubborn in the face of huge disasters he has both precipitated and overseen..."
[S]enior staff members insist that Mr. Bush is in good spirits, that calls from his party to inject new blood into the White House make him ever more stubborn to keep the old, and that he has become so inured to outside criticism that he increasingly tunes it out. There is no sense of crisis, they say, even over rebellious Republicans in Congress, because the White House has been in almost constant crisis since Sept. 11, 2001, and Mr. Bush has never had much regard for Congress anyway.

what's he got to worry about...? seriously... he presides over a government of unprecedented power, not only in the u.s. but in the history of the world... do you really think they're going to go quietly into that good night...? i don't think so...

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Opus Dei, the Dominionists, Sen. Sam Brownback and the plan for a U.S. theocracy

back in april, i posted a story from rolling stone on the dominionists, good enough to repeat some of the highlights here...
  • Christian evangelicals are plotting to remake America in their own image. Their ultimate goal is to plant the seeds of a "faith-based" government that will endure far longer than Bush's presidency -- all the way until Jesus comes back.
  • The godfather of the Dominionists is D. James Kennedy, the most influential evangelical you've never heard of. [...] "Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost," Kennedy says. "As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society."
  • "We have a right, indeed an obligation, to govern," says David Limbaugh, brother of Rush and author of Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity.
  • It helps that Dominionists have a direct line to the White House: The Rev. Richard Land, top lobbyist for the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention, enjoys a weekly conference call with top Bush advisers including Karl Rove.
the magazine has continued its superb in-depth reporting on the active aim of a number of religious fundamentalists to dispense with the constitution and turn the u.s. into a full-blown theocracy, this time focusing on an opus dei member, republican senator sam brownback of kansas... it's an apocalyptic vision... here are a few snippets but i would suggest reading the whole thing...
  • Brownback seeks something far more radical: not faith-based politics but faith in place of politics. In his dream America, the one he believes both the Bible and the Constitution promise, the state will simply wither away. In its place will be a country so suffused with God and the free market that the social fabric of the last hundred years -- schools, Social Security, welfare -- will be privatized or simply done away with. There will be no abortions; sex will be confined to heterosexual marriage. Men will lead families, mothers will tend children, and big business and the church will take care of all.
  • He tells a story about a chaplain who challenged a group of senators to reconsider their conception of democracy. "How many constituents do you have?" the chaplain asked. The senators answered: 4 million, 9 million, 12 million. "May I suggest," the chaplain replied, "that you have only one constituent?" Brownback pauses. That moment, he declares, changed his life. "This" -- being senator, running for president, waving the flag of a Christian nation -- "is about serving one constituent." He raises a hand and points above him.
  • The most bluntly theocratic effort, however, is the Constitution Restoration Act, which Brownback co-sponsored with Jim DeMint, another former C Streeter who was then a congressman from South Carolina. If passed, it will strip the Supreme Court of the ability to even hear cases in which citizens protest faith-based abuses of power. Say the mayor of your town decides to declare Jesus lord and fire anyone who refuses to do so; or the principal of your local high school decides to read a fundamentalist prayer over the PA every morning; or the president declares the United States a Christian nation. Under the Constitution Restoration Act, that'll all be just fine.
  • Brownback explains that with the help of the VAT [the Values Action Team, a group Brownback chairs, is composed of representatives from leading organizations on the religious right], he's working to defeat a measure that would stiffen penalties for violent attacks on gays and lesbians. Members of VAT help by mobilizing their flocks: An e-mail sent out by the Family Research Council warned that the hate-crime bill would lead, inexorably, to the criminalization of Christianity. [...] Working almost entirely in secret, the group has directed the fights against gay marriage and for school vouchers, against hate-crime legislation and for "abstinence only" education.
  • Brownback recently muscled through the Judiciary Committee a proposed amendment to the Constitution to make not just gay marriage but even civil unions nearly impossible. "I don't see where the compromise point would be on marriage," he says. The amendment has no chance of passing, but it's not designed to. It's a time bomb, scheduled to detonate sometime during the 2006 electoral cycle. The intended victims aren't Democrats but other Republicans. GOP moderates will be forced to vote for or against "marriage," which -- in the language of the VAT communications network -- is another way of saying for or against the "homosexual agenda." It's a typical VAT strategy: a tool with which to purify the ranks of the Republican Party.
let's not lose sight of what's going on BEHIND the scenes, ok...?

(thanks to tunaman at daily kos...)

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The NYT looks at Markos (Daily Kos) and Jerome (myDD)

nice...
This comically depressing glimpse of today's Democratic Party is recounted in "Crashing the Gate," a smart new book by two leading bloggers. [...] Much of the authors' criticism of the party establishment is dead-on. [...] The Democratic establishment could not hold the netroots back even if it wanted to. Their ability to raise money, recruit volunteers and shape the debate will make them indispensable.

the book...
Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics
Jerome Armstrong, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga

Crashing the Gate is a shot across the bow at the political establishment in Washington, DC and a call to re-democratize politics in America.

This book lays bare, with passion and precision, how ineffective, incompetent, and antiquated the Democratic Party establishment has become, and how it has failed to adapt and respond to new realities and challenges. The authors save their sharpest knives to go for the jugular in their critique of Republican ideologues who are now running—and ruining—our country.

Written by two of the most popular political bloggers in America, the book hails the new movement—of the netroots, the grassroots, the unorthodox labor unions, the maverick big donors—that is the antidote to old-school politics as usual. Fueled by advances in technology and a hunger for a more authentic and populist democracy, this broad-based movement is changing the way political campaigns are waged and managed.

A must-read book for anyone with an interest in the future of American democracy.

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Frist is just a loser but McCain is dangerous

i suppose an argument could be made that frist stole the show by bussing in enough supporters to win the straw poll but, hey...
No one stole the show at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference here this weekend, but Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) demonstrated why every other prospective 2008 presidential candidate must figure out how to get around him.

[...]

The Arizona senator was full-throated in his support for Bush on Iraq, Iran and even the now-defunct Dubai seaports deal. In doing so, he continued to establish his bona fides as the Republican most likely to defend and extend the president's controversial foreign policy record. At the same time, McCain delivered a stern condemnation of fiscal profligacy and corruption in Washington that was rooted in his reputation as an advocate of change and an antagonist of pork-barrel spending.

mccain demonstrated one thing very clearly - his worthlessness as a candidate... so much for his reputation as a "straight-shooter..."

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The R's mental health is in much worse shape than I thought

these people need serious, serious help...
More than 20 months before any real votes are cast, Republican Senate leader Bill Frist of Tennessee won a straw poll on Saturday of party activists choosing their early favorite in the 2008 White House race.

Frist, who packed the home-state crowd with supporters wearing blue "Frist is my leader" buttons, won nearly 37 percent of the 1,427 votes cast by delegates to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

if you want something to make you wake up screaming in the middle of the night, just repeat to yourself, "President Frist..."

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Reason rears its ugly head on Condi's LatAm trip

WHAT...? did i just catch a whiff of reason being applied to foreign affairs...? on her trip this weekend to chile and bolivia, condi:
. . . indicated Saturday that the United States would look for ways to resume military assistance to Latin American nations cut off from aid programs because of their refusal to shield Americans from the International Criminal Court.

now, don't get me wrong... i'm not saying it's "REASONABLE" to keep pumping military aid into latin america (or anywhere else for that matter), but it certainly does make sense to stop trying to find ways to punish countries that don't follow the u.s. into the moral thicket du jour...
Eliminating or reducing military assistance to countries like Chile and Bolivia that are seeking to combat terrorism or drug trafficking is "sort of the same as shooting ourselves in the foot," Ms. Rice told reporters on Friday . . . Ms. Rice said, however, that the Bush administration had limited flexibility in restoring aid because a law enacted by Congress required the cutoff of military aid to countries that did not exempt American citizens from being brought before the court.

At least 30 countries have declined to enact an exemption, including 12 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

At the time the law was adopted, the Defense Department supported it on grounds that American military officials based overseas might be brought before the court. More recently, administration officials said Defense Department officials had become concerned about the loss of military cooperation with key allies.

this is precisely what tends to piss off countries that might otherwise be strong u.s. allies... the u.s. always wants to have its cake and eat it too...

an amusing little sidenote... in an apparently unintentional move, it looks like evo morales got one over on condi... (you gotta watch out for those aymará ... they're crafty little devils...)

In a friendly but pointed gesture, [Morales] gave Ms. Rice a small guitar decorated on the front with real leaves from a coca plant in lacquer. Ms. Rice, perhaps not realizing that the decoration was from the plant that the United States has sought to eradicate, then smiled and strummed the guitar for television cameras. American officials said Bolivian leader was clearly trying to show how growing the plant that is made into cocaine is a part of his nation's culture.

there's never exactly been an overabundance of understanding of indigenous culture and tradition among the world's ruling powers...

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