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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 03/19/2006 - 03/26/2006
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hurray for our Latinos...!

commenting on the unprecedented 500,000 people marching today in los angeles against the proposed immigration legislation, max blumenthal over at huffpo nails it...
Deprived of any substantive issues ahead of this year's mid-term congressional elections, the Republicans have reached into their deck and drawn the race-card. Introducing a stream of anti-immigrant legislation specifically directed against brown-skinned workers is the GOP's post-Bush, post-9/11 strategy.

And as they advance their short-term political goals, the congressional GOP institutionalizes a culture of hypocrisy which punishes immigrants publicly while paying them privately. To quote a sign that hung today on an overpass above the 101 freeway, "We built your houses, we growed [sic] your food, and now you call us criminals?"

i have said for many years that, if the latino population of the u.s. all decided to stop working at the same time, the country would have no choice but to post a big "Closed" sign...

i couldn't be more delighted to see things take this turn... our immigrants make this country run on a daily basis... our businesses grow fat off their labor, our lawns are mowed, our fast food is served, our trash is removed, our food is harvested, our goods are delivered and our homes are built at their hands... james sensenbrenner and his bigoted ilk can take their racist, reactionary, fear-based, criminalizing crap and shove it directly down the toilet...

hurray for our latinos...! each one of them does more honest work in one day than sensenbrenner has done in his entire life...

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It seems as though the LA Times may have a clue about the value of bloggers

i've refrained from commenting on the domenech firestorm because, basically, i don't give a damn... but, now that the dust is settling, it's good to see that someone, somewhere, has a clue...
Even a casual reading of the facts demonstrates clearly that the online folks — whatever their ideology — performed pretty much as one would wish. In fact, they vindicated many of their medium's claims to be a seedbed to communities of collaborative watchdogs, each building on the other's work to shed light on an issue that engages them.

And, as anyone who's ever owned one knows, the best watchdogs will bite, as well as bark.

While the initial concerns about Domenech were raised by liberal bloggers and online commentators alarmed by the extremity of his politics and the recklessness with which he expressed them, his critics didn't stop there. Because his career — if a 24-year-old can be said to have such a thing — has essentially been conducted online, there was a digital trail to follow through cyberspace. And follow it they did, within hours. What they found was not simply vulgarity and intemperance, but serial plagiarism of an unsophisticated, unimaginative under-graduate sort.

In short order, the evidence was up on the Web for all to see and judge for themselves. That's when something important happened. Now, the Web is about as polarized as a virtual place can be. It doesn't value civility; ideologically, the law of tooth and claw attains. But because the liberal bloggers and commentators had fashioned a convincing and utterly damning case against Domenech out of his own vanity — who in their right mind compiles an archive of his own thefts? — by Friday morning, conservative bloggers, one after another, began calling on the young man to resign.

and resign he did...

the times hits the nail on the head... this isn't about nailing the wapo or exposing yet another kool-aid drinking, conservative, lying cog in the r's noise machine... what it's really all about is the value of citizen journalism and the vast reach of the internet which, doubtlessly, the power-crazed minions of bushco are already hatching plans to shut down...

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The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it.

(a founding member of the elite counter-terrorist unit, Delta Force, and author of the book, "Inside Delta Force," retired Command Sergeant Major Eric Haney, in an interview scheduled to appear in tomorrow's Los Angeles Times...)

comments on iraq...
Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward. His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.

We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal policies.

comments on torture...
The only reason anyone tortures is because they like to do it. It's about vengeance, it's about revenge, or it's about cover-up. You don't gain intelligence that way. Everyone in the world knows that. It's worse than small-minded, and look what it does.

i am not now nor have i ever been a fan of the military but of this i am sure... i have had the privilege to get to know a few sergeants major (i had one for a father-in-law), and have met at least one command sergeant major and they, without a doubt, possess more integrity in their pinkies than 99% of the people on the planet... when they speak, it behooves us all to listen...

(thanks to raw story...)

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Observations of the city thirty years after…

March 24, 2006

Everyone has either gone to Buenos Aires for the
march or waits for a bus or train to go. Not everyone. There are a few stragglers haunting the plazas that are filled with the smoldering remains of last nights commemorations; a skeleton of chicken wire from an unidentifiable effigy lies untouched in the middle of the walkway, bits of charred wooden sticks and carbonized newsprint are enmeshed within it. People give a measured berth to this strange paraphernalia, weary of looking or coming too close.

In the same plaza, across from the elegant court house that imitates an imperious French architecture, strings of white xeroxed pages with faces of men and women in the peak of their youth dangle like Tibetan prayer flags from a statue of a state hero on a horse and are tied to light poles throughout the plaza, except that the flags (they kind of look like flags from a distance) are only black and white and the portraits are more like mug shots from a crime museum photo album, as the images are thirty years old. The hairdos of the women are one step forward of beehives or long, natural, mother-goddess seventies chic. Many of the men in the photos have slicked hair to their shoulders and untamed side burns. Perhaps they do not really look like mug shots, too many of them are smiling. But there is nevertheless a formality, they are all posing, turned at a 3 quarters stance, chin up, eyes forward. Perhaps they are pictures from the high school year book. Whichever, any eerie sense of purpose, a manufactured image of the truth is evident. These images, more than any portraits I know of, are not meant to recall an individual, they represent an idea. Their stiff, awkward smiles (taken the day before they were driven off in the back seat of an unmarked, green Ford Falcon?) betray the cloud of fear and uncertainty under which they lived and the specter of pain and unthinkable torture they suffered before their deaths. They are plucked as if from the white of a cloudless horizon. A middle-aged women steps cautiously under the string of faces, studying each one with deep, mournful eyes and a hand covering her hollow lips. She pauses at each face, as if she thinks that by looking closely enough, she will remember everyone that has gone and yet, occasionally she nods with surprise and her eyes light in sudden shocks of recognition.

There are broken bottles everywhere, translucent shards of green and brown crunching under foot. In truth, every public gathering, whether it be for a solemn occasion such as this, a regular union protest or teachers strike or students walkout, part of a seemingly endless routine now, or just a good old fashioned pep rally before or after a soccer match, is also a cause for some to celebrate. The usual suspects inhabit the worn, green benches and the ordered lawns: a passed out drunk, lovers sipping mate, hippies hunched over their rope and crystal jewelry spread out on a purple blanket. The smells of stale beer, sweat and an occasional whiff of marijuana smoke fill the air. The city is in hangover mode. The skies earlier had been dynamic; powerful beams of light burst through the clouds at intervals like fists of hope, refusing to give in completely to the approaching storm. But now, here in the somber atmosphere of the plaza, gun metal blue thunderheads have encroached on the latter part of the afternoon. Winds are picking up, forcing older citizens to wrap themselves in unruly cloaks as they seek warmer shelter.

Over at the Cathedral, the national flag is flying proudly at full mast. Its grand steps and entrance way are empty and silent. No one seems eager to pay a visit or even to walk on the sidewalk in front.

We decide to visit a public art gallery housed in an abandoned railway station at the other end of town. There is a quaint bricked street passing in front. A few people are inside, sipping on cerveza at a white plastic picnic table while their children dance and hop about. Two workers are setting up a projector, later there will be slides and a presentation. We walk up a slight ramp to the exhibition space. The walls are unpainted, concrete block and there is a walled off room with large, empty windows that is the snack shop. They sell cerveza and bottled water and snacks. In the middle of the space there is a table with children’s books that had been censored during the dictatorship. They have titles like; The Big Elephant, Learning French and The People in Your Neighborhood. Even books on mathematics were barred, (though they were not part of the display) because of their “communist content.” Information, in the eyes of the dictator, is a dangerous thing, the most dangerous. Hanging on the walls are a series of small (8 inches by 5 inches) sketches, engravings that were chosen to be a part of a stamp collection commemorating the thirty years that have passed since March 25, 1976, when General Jorge Videla polished up his boots and took to the podium. They all represent, in some way, the horrors of the “Dirty War”; the cynicism and sadism of its leaders and their claque, the tacit support from some of the world’s most influential “Democracies” (the U.S., Israel, etc..).

Even around supper time a scant few stores are open. We scour the city for a place to sit down to try and make sense of this day, of what has happened, of what will happen. We finally find a pizza place open though they’re not serving food until later. There is an uncomfortable silence in the room, a weariness in the scattered faces looking up from their tables. We talk about life outside, in far off countries, having exhausted ourselves on so much dismal recapitulation. “You get the sense that anything could happen and no one would be…surprised.” My friends words hang in the air like smoke rings that have retained their shape after the smoke has disappeared.

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Greenwald (again) speaks the truth

not that it matters...
The reality is that the Administration has been making clear for quite some time that they have unlimited power and that nothing -- not even the law -- can restrict it. But here, they are specifically telling Congress that even if Congress amends FISA and the President agrees to abide by those amendments, they still have the power to break the law whenever they want. As I have documented more times than I can count, we have a President who has seized unlimited power, including the power to break the law, and the Administration -- somewhat commendably -- is quite candid and straightforward about that fact.

[...]

We really do have an Administration which believes it has the power to break all laws relating, however broadly, to defending the country. It has said this repeatedly in numerous contexts and acted on those beliefs by breaking the law -- repeatedly and deliberately. They are still breaking the law by, for instance, continuing to eavesdrop on Americans without the warrants required by FISA.

This is not theory. The Administration is not saying these things as a joke. We really do live in a country where we have a President who has seized the unlimited power to break the law. That's not hyperbole in any way. It is reality.

[T]he Administration has seized the power of Congress to make the laws, they have seized the power of the judiciary to interpret the laws, and they execute them as well. They have consolidated within themselves all of the powers of the government, particularly with regard to national security. This situation is, of course, exactly what Madison warned about in Federalist 47; it really is the very opposite of everything our Government is intended to be:
From these facts, by which Montesquieu was guided, it may clearly be inferred that, in saying "There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or body of magistrates," or, "if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers," he did not mean that these departments ought to have no partial agency in, or no control over, the acts of each other.

His meaning, as his own words import, and still more conclusively as illustrated by the example in his eye, can amount to no more than this, that where the whole power of one department is exercised by the same hands which possess the whole power of another department, the fundamental principles of a free constitution are subverted. This would have been the case in the constitution examined by him, if the king, who is the sole executive magistrate, had possessed also the complete legislative power, or the supreme administration of justice; or if the entire legislative body had possessed the supreme judiciary, or the supreme executive authority.

greenwald's closing point is precisely the one that i have been making recently... the american people and the american news media simply can't BELIEVE that the leadership of the united states is composed of criminal lawbreakers who are using the u.s. constitution as toilet paper... the abandonment of the constitution isn't something to worry about down the road... it's already a done deal...

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100,000 Argentines gather to remember the desaparecidos

(desaparecidos is spanish for "those who disappeared...")



100,000 march yesterday
in Buenos Aires

last week, the argentina congress passed a resolution declaring a new national feriado (holiday) to commemorate the launching of the march 24, 1976 coup that toppled argentina's constitutional government and opened the door to the deadliest dictatorship in argentine history... yesterday was the first official national "day of remembering..."
100,000 people gathered at the Plaza de Mayo square in front of Government House to repudiate the seven-year regime that human rights groups and President Néstor Kirchner say killed or made to disappear 30,000 people.

[...]

"Thirty Years of Life Defeating Death!" and "Not One Step Back!" read large banners strung alongside black-and-white photographs of victims of the so-called Dirty War, as many cried and lit candles. Some 3,600 photos of victims were projected — one per second — onto the white stone flanks of the towering Buenos Aires Obelisk.

understandably, the dirty war is a difficult subject for argentines to talk about and, when they do, their voices drop and their heads hang down... most everyone i've met either lost someone close to them or knows someone who did... it's good that they're not allowing the lost to be forgotten...

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Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Uruguay: neighbors, for better or for worse

four of the southernmost countries in latin america, the core of what's known as the "southern cone" (after the shape of the continent in those latitudes), all led by left-leaning presidents, two of them newly-elected, are facing the challenge of how to work together effectively...



Left to right, the flags of Argentina,
Bolivia, Chile and Uruguay

michelle bachelet, chile's new president, began her courtesy calls with a 24-hour visit to buenos aires...


Both host President Néstor Kirchner and his visitor went out of their way to avoid potential conflicts at this early stage . . .

but, like it or not, chile and argentina are joined at the hip...
  • 400,000 of Chile's citizens are living in Argentina (half of all Chileans living abroad)
  • Chile has 14 billion dollars invested in Argentina (almost half of all Chilean investments abroad)
  • The two countries annually conduct 5.4 billion dollars of bilateral trade (with a surplus of 4.2 billion in Argentina’s favour)
  • Chile and Argentina share one of the world’s longest frontiers (some 5,300 kilometres)
enter bolivia... with a major transition underway in bolivia following the recent election of evo morales, both argentina and chile share a concern over the future of their energy supplies...
  • Both presidents fully realize that the key to the Southern Cone’s gas future lies with Bolivia (South America’s second producer)
and, if the scenario weren't already complicated enough, uruguay, which imports natural gas from both argentina and bolivia, has been engaged in an ongoing conflict with argentina over the building of two new paper-pulp mills on the rio uruguay that many argentinians believe will lead to serious environmental damage... traffic roadblocks between argentina and uruguay put up by argentinians protesting the construction of the plants were recently ordered to be taken down, but only after serious economic damage had been inflicted by stemming the annual flow of argentine summer tourists to uruguay's beaches...
Uruguay stands far more in line for gas delivery cuts this coming winter than Chile (the chief victim last year) due to the pulp mill dispute (in which Chile is ambivalent because it has delivered materials to the construction sites of Uruguay’s mills but has banned pulp mills on its own soil out of anxiety for its salmon stocks).

maintaining good will and continuing serious discussion are the keys to building solid, mutually beneficial relationships... if these four countries can pull it off, they will be setting the bar for the entire continent and will demonstrate to the rest of the world what self-sufficiency looks like...

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Friday, March 24, 2006

He's got the power: the president's "signing statement" trumps Congress, oversight and legislative intent

bush is essentially saying he can do whatever he goddam well pleases and nothing and nobody is going to stop him...
When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

[...]

Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would "impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

Bush wrote: "The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . "

although it's hardly the first time it's been said, congress might just as well pack up and go home... the power they haven't ceded to the executive branch by being a white house doormat has been effectively neutered by the unitary executive theory... if the u.s. ever sees another general election, you can bet it won't be one in which the current coup d'etat victors will be stepping down...

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No government "of, by, and for the people"

god bless bill moyers... he talks about the "noises in the woods" we've all been taught to fear...
The "noise" in the woods is the work of the old guys playing gods, wanting you to live in fear and trembling so that you will look to them to protect you against the wrath to come. It takes courage to put their truth-claims to the test of reality, to call their bluff.

We need such courage today. This is a time for heresy. American democracy is threatened by perversions of money, power, and religion. Money has bought our elections right out from under us. Power has turned government "of, by, and for the people" into the patron of privilege. And Christianity and Islam have been hijacked by fundamentalists who have made religion the language of power, the excuse for violence, and the alibi for empire. We must answer the principalities and powers that would force on America a stifling conformity. Either we make the heretical choices that will inspire us to renew our commitment to America's deepest values and ideals, or the day will come when we will no longer recognize the country we love.

he lays out in clear, articulate terms the bushco agenda, the same agenda that i, in my own less-than-polished way, repeatedly attempt to communicate here...
For a quarter of a century now, a ferocious campaign has been conducted to dismantle the political institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual, cultural, and religious frameworks that sustained America's social contract. The corporate, political, and religious right converged in a movement that for a long time only they understood because they are its advocates, its architects, and its beneficiaries. Their economic strategy was to cut workforces and wages, scour the globe for even cheaper labor, and relieve investors of any responsibility for the cost of society.

On the weekend before President Bush's second inauguration, The New York Times described how his first round of tax cuts had already brought our tax code closer to a system under which income on wealth would not be taxed at all and public expenditures would be raised exclusively from salaries and wages. Their political strategy was to neutralize the independent media, create their own propaganda machine with a partisan press, and flood their coffers with rivers of money from those who stand to benefit from the transfer of public resources to elite control.

Along the way, they would burden the nation with structural deficits that will last until our children's children are ready to retire, systematically stripping government of its capacity, over time, to do little more than wage war and reward privilege. Their religious strategy was to fuse ideology and theology into a worldview freed of the impurities of compromise, claim for America the status of God's favored among nations (and therefore beyond political critique or challenge), and demonize their opponents as ungodly and immoral.

perhaps because it is too dark for most of us - including moyers - to accept, there is one other major element of the movement that moyers only indirectly addresses - unfettered power... although moyers touches on what he calls "heretical choices," bushco's naked and ceaseless accumulation of power, best exemplified by its virtual abandonment of the u.s. constitution, is so far advanced that, without exercising heretical choices not yet even discussable in current public dialogue, we may be unable to shake off the cancerous growth that is destroying our country...

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Bushco's agenda is $$$...? You better believe it - for THEMSELVES...!

and here you have it...
As President Bush embarks on a new effort to shore up public support for the war in Iraq, an uncle of the chief executive is collecting $2.7 million in cash and stock from the recent sale of a company that profited from the war.

A report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shows that William H.T. Bush collected a little less than $1.9 million in cash plus stock valued at more than $800,000 as a result of the sale of Engineered Support Systems Inc. to DRS Technologies of New Jersey.

The $1.7 billion deal closed Jan. 31. Both businesses have extensive military contracts.

remember the disney cartoon about uncle scrooge and his money bin...? how about uncle bill...?

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The backstory of a film about war: insights from the director

ips publishes a very interesting interview that poses some serious questions...
In his provocative documentary "Why We Fight", director Eugene Jarecki asks whether Washington's foreign policy is overly preoccupied with the idea of military supremacy, and if the military has become too important in U.S. life.

most interesting of all, at least to me, is this...
Q: Have you faced any problems in terms of distribution?

A: If you are a filmmaker trying to cover a politically sensitive subject in the United States, America has suffered such a degradation of our open media system in recent years, such a shift away from the values of a democratic society, that problems arise long before the distribution phase. At the very start, the struggle to get financing for a film like this in the United States would have proved immediately prohibitive. So we moved overseas to the BBC, to Canada, to France and Germany, to countries whose media systems are far more open than ours, and in many ways shame ours.

this is extremely disturbing information although not something that should be surprising to those of us paying attention... what strikes me about this, more than some other things i've read, is that "Why We Fight" is a straight-forward, fact-based, unslanted documentary... are we really so far gone that we can't even face a documentary...?

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Implications of treasonous Democrats and, oh, btw, Bush ISN'T saying the same things

oh, geeez louise...! i spend all night on a flight from buenos aires, negotiate immigration and customs, traipse through security sans shoes, take the skylink train around hell's half acre (veteran travelers will recognize my description of dfw immediately), locate the gate for my next flight, fire up the laptop, get comfortable and what am i treated to right off the bat on cnn...? none other than that pablum-faced, white house shill, dan bartlett, telling me how bush ISN'T really saying the same things this week in his non-stop iraq speechifying and how democrats should be SUPPORTIVE of the president in a TIME OF WAR instead of attacking him at every turn...

this isn't a good time for me to watch such shit... i'm tired, i'm not entirely thrilled at being back in the u.s.s.r., i'm watching the usual crowd of totally self-involved americans (and, yes, i'm often in that category myself) parade up and down the concourse, stopping only for their starbucks fix, and, meanwhile, our country is continuing to go to hell in a handbasket... fuck you, dan bartlett, AND the horse you rode in on...

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What you talkin bout?

Say what? Here you have it from the horses' mouths, from PIPA....

A growing number of Americans perceive that experts mostly agree that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, though still only half (50%) believe that this is the case—up from 38 percent in October 2004. The percentage who say that most experts believe that Iraq did have WMD is now 24 percent—down from 37 percent. Twenty-five percent now believe that experts are divided.

Beliefs about prewar Iraq are highly related to attitudes about the decision to go to war. Among those who believe that Iraq had WMD prior to the war, 85 percent feel that the war was the right decision. Among people who believe that Iraq had no WMD activities, 95 percent feel that the war was the wrong decision. Among those who believe Iraq had limited WMD activities, but not an active program, 65 percent feel the war was the wrong decision.

Asked, “If, before the war, US intelligence services had concluded that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction and was not providing substantial support to al-Qaeda,” a clear majority of 71 percent said that the US should not have gone to war, while just 27 percent said that the US should still have gone to war with Iraq for other reasons.” This is a bipartisan majority. Fifty-three percent of Republicans and 87 percent of Democrats think that in this case, the US should not have gone to war.


What the matter AMERICA? What, you would rather have Saddam or Osama in power? You are lucky you have enough FREEEDOM that you can participate in a poll in the first place!

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“No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it’s just simply not true.”

helen thomas touches a sore spot...
In a nationally televised press conference, George W. Bush repeated some of his favorite lies about the Iraq War, including the canard that he was forced to invade because Saddam Hussein blocked the work of United Nations weapons inspectors in 2003.

Bush has uttered this lie in a variety of forms over more than 2 ½ years, yet the Washington press corps has never challenged the President directly about the falsehood. He got away with it again on March 21 when no journalist followed up the question from Helen Thomas that elicited Bush’s response.

Some TV commentary about the Thomas-Bush exchange even suggested that Bush had scored points with the American public for calling on – and then slapping down – the senior White House correspondent who is known for her irreverent and acerbic questions. But Bush’s truthfulness wasn’t questioned.

Bush reasserted his false claim about the U.N. inspectors after Thomas noted that Bush’s pre-war rationales had turned out to be false, an apparent reference to Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein’s supposed links to al-Qaeda.

“Your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime,” Thomas said. “Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true.

“My question is: Why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, your Cabinet officers, former Cabinet officers, intelligence people and so forth -- but what's your real reason? You have said it wasn’t oil, the quest for oil. It hasn’t been Israel or anything else. What was it?”

Bristling at the question, Bush said, “I think your premise, in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist – that I didn’t want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect. …

“No president wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it’s just simply not true.”

you wanted war, you bastard, and so did everyone in your advisory circle...
“I also saw a threat in Iraq,” Bush said. “I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That’s why I went to the Security Council. That’s why it was important to pass (Resolution) 1441, which was unanimously passed.

“And the world said, ‘Disarm, disclose or face serious consequences.’ And therefore, we worked with the world. We worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny the inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did. And the world is safer for it.”

liar, liar, pants on fire... yeah, let's look for a minute at just how much safer the world is now because of your friggin' illegal war...

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Yes, we're all monsters

PZ Myers is a biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris. He publishes a weblog entitled, "Pharyngula: Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal."

The skies are clear here and the sun is shining, I think I'll put the computer away and go for a walk, do a little lab work and tidy up my office. No worries here…it's just another quiet Saturday. We're going to watch a play this evening.

Say, do you remember—I think it was only a few years ago—when we watched with horror and fascination as our military bombed Baghdad and our tanks rolled across the Iraq? We were assured our smart bombs would make this a clean war that would only help the Iraqi people, and our pundits crowed about our easy victory. I felt rage and pity, I was on the streets with a sign protesting, I wrote to my representatives and complained and cajoled and threatened. I howled in fury at the futile waste of lives and money, the jingoism, the injustice.

So today I'm going for a pleasant walk.

Does anyone care anymore?

Anyone?

This is how the monsters win, you know. They launch horror after horror, and as long as we have our electricity and orange juice and the quiet comforts of our homes, after a while we stop flinching, we just sit benumbed, we tell ourselves, "I'll rouse myself for the next really big one," and we remind ourselves that we couldn't stop the last war, so how can we be expected to stop the next one? We tell ourselves that the democratic way to stop this ongoing nightmare is to elect better leaders at the next election (always the next, it rarely seems to be this one), and then we vote for soft, rotten representatives who, with rare exceptions, simply surrender to the insanity.

So I'm going for a walk.

I'm a monster, too.

here in buenos aires, the sun is shining, it's refreshingly cool, the sky is brilliant blue and i'm about ready to go heat up water for coffee...

as i type this, i am looking out my front window and watching the early-morning comings and goings of the neighbors, taking their kids to school and heading off to work, the city workers sweeping the street, and trucks making deliveries to the corner store... i will spend the day packing and getting ready for tonight's flight and a three-month absence, staying with family in the states, teaching a university class, working again in the balkans... to all appearances, god is in his heaven and all is right with the world...

of course, things are far from right... the world is on a disastrous course, headed rapidly down a greased slide to who knows where, with the president of my country at the head of the parade... pz myers is right... here we sit, drinking our coffee and making note of the daily destruction...

i'm a monster too...

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How about getting a successor NOW who can get us out NOW...?

this walking, talking disaster needs a good, swift boot in the ass followed by a forced march right out the front door of the white house...
President Bush acknowledged yesterday that the war in Iraq is dominating nearly every aspect of his presidency, and he served notice for the first time that he expects the decision on when all U.S. troops come home to fall on his successors.

his administration is falling down around his ears, the country has been trashed beyond anyone's imagination, u.s. foreign policy and global credibility is in tatters, the u.s. constitution has been shot full of holes, so, tell me again, why is this s-o-b still in office...?
With a series of polls showing Bush and the war less popular than ever, he rejected calls to change the U.S. military strategy or shake up the White House staff and war cabinet. "I am happy with the people I surrounded myself with," he said. But Bush did not rule out bringing aboard a veteran Washington operative to help soothe relations with an increasingly restive Republican Congress, a move that aides said may happen soon.

"I'm not going to announce it right now," Bush said, noting that he has had conversations with congressional allies. "Look. They got some ideas that I like and some I don't like, put it that way."

Bush dismissed the rising chorus of Republican criticism as election-year jitters. "There's a certain unease as you head into an election year," he said.

"election-year jitters," my rosy-red behind... the american people are finally waking up, george, and god help you and your murderous, megalomaniacal gang when we finally rub the sleep out of our eyes...

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What crap...

brought to you by the good folks over at rush limbaugh's website...



atrios has the definitive comment on this crap...

This idiocy should be self-refuting, but maybe I'll explain it so even dittoheads and Jeff Goldstein can understand. I'll assume his fatality numbers are roughly correct.

There are 300,000,0000 people in this country. There are about 130,000 troops serving in Iraq. Think about that and why that graphic makes you the likely winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize for Excellence in Wankery.

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More evidence that the Iraq war was based on a lie

many lies, in fact... consider this...
[F]or a short time the CIA had contact with a secret source at the highest levels within Saddam Hussein’s government, who gave them information far more accurate than what they believed.

Naji Sabri, Iraq’s foreign minister under Saddam revealed:
  • Saddam had no significant, active biological weapons program. Sabri was right. After the war, it became clear that there was no program.
  • Saddam desperately wanted a bomb, but would need much more time than [several months to a year]. Sabri was more accurate.
  • Iraq had stockpiled weapons and had "poison gas" left over from the first Gulf War. Both Sabri and the [CIA] were wrong.
but, once again, valuable, credible intelligence was blown off...
In the weeks following September 2002, after first contact with Sabri was made in New York, the agency kept much of his information concealed within its ranks. Sabri would have been a potential gold mine of information, according to NBC News analyst retired Gen. Wayne Downing.

"I think it’s very significant that the CIA would have someone who could tell them what’s on the dictator’s mind," says Downing.

But, intelligence sources say, the CIA relationship with Sabri ended when the CIA, hoping for a public relations coup, pressured him to defect to the U.S. The U.S. hoped Sabri would leave Iraq and publicly renounce Saddam. He repeatedly refused, sources say, and contact was broken off.

bit by bit, story by story, revelation by revelation...

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Iraq snippets of note on the equinox and the start of year 4

three years later, iraq still dominates the news... meanwhile, welcome to spring (northern hemisphere) or fall (southern hemisphere)...
  • At least 51 people were killed by insurgents and shadowy sectarian gangs, police reported — continuing the wave of violence that has left more than 1,000 Iraqis dead since the bombing last month of a Shiite Muslim shrine.
  • [George Bush, speaking at] the City Club of Cleveland: "In the face of continued reports about killings and reprisals, I understand how some Americans have had their confidence shaken," he said. "Others look at the violence they see each night on their television screens and they wonder how I can remain so optimistic about the prospects of success in Iraq. They wonder what I see that they don't."
  • [Speaking] at the International Association of Firefighters' legislative conference in Washington.Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska: [T]ime for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to "be told to go home" and for Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff "be given his walking papers" [Biden]; U.S. involvement in Iraq had been "badly mismanaged by the administration" [Richardson]; "There's been a credibility erosion for three years." [Hagel].
  • Three years of upbeat White House assessments about Iraq that turned out to be premature, incomplete or plain wrong are complicating President Bush's efforts to restore public faith in the military operation and his presidency, according to pollsters and Republican lawmakers and strategists.
and so it goes...

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Spying issues aren't restricted to the U.S.

it's interesting just how fast an investigation can get serious when the president is involved...



The navy yesterday closed down all its intelligence offices to scrutinize their work, as the government pledged to act with "severity" to investigate citizen spying activities in the navy.

A court investigation in the Patagonian province of Chubut discovered 26 folders gathered by navy intelligence agents containing information on citizens and targeting government officials, journalists, union leaders and politicians. It was reported last night that President Néstor Kirchner was one of the targets of the spies.

The Argentine armed forces are banned by law from collecting intelligence information about citizens. Defence Minister Nilda Garré yesterday met with navy chief Jorge Godoy and ordered him to "deepen the investigations" and detect "the chain of command" in the illegal intelligence activities.

you just know that someone in argentina is saying, "well, the united states does it so why not us...?"

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Monday, March 20, 2006

Matthew Yglesias is masquerading as a progressive Democrat

i have one word for you, matt... bullshit...
[W]hat's with Harry Reid saying George W. Bush is "the worst president this country has ever had" or Hillary Clinton's similar claim that he's "one of the worst" in American history? On domestic policy, he's certainly been a bad president in the sense that I would gladly prefer Al Gore or John Kerry or Howard Dean or Joe Lieberman or Wesley Clark or Russ Feingold or pretty much whomever you like. He's somewhat worse than, say, his father. But somewhat better than Ronald Reagan.

george w. bush and his cohorts have perpetrated a stealth coup d'etat on the united states and matthew thinks george is "somewhat better than Ronald Reagan..." friggin' unbelievable...
Here's what they're talking about. They know the base is furious with Bush and they want to placate the base with occassional spurts of strident rhetoric in order to distract attention from the fact that they, like Bush, are on the wrong side of the most important issue facing the country. I think Reid's done a good job, generally, as Minority Leader and wish him well. But I also hope liberals won't fall for this bait-and-switch. The liberal blogosphere can generate all the strident rhetoric one would ever want. What liberals need from progressive politicians isn't rhetoric that's pleasing to the ears, but a combination of election strategies likely to win, and policies that will benefit the country.

ok, i agree with that last part but what i am primarily interested in is how we save the country from the flaming disaster that is consuming all we hold dear and it's becoming increasingly clear that the dems, with few exceptions (russ feingold comes immediately to mind), are clueless...

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Perfect description

Sorry...I am playing catch-up here. It's been an incredibly busy week.

From profmarcus' post about Ben Stein's latest...
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.

Doesn't this describe the Bush administration and its Republican Guard Congress to a tee? Substitute Americans for stockholders and Republican Congress for directors and that pretty much sums up the last five years.

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R's without a message...? HAHAHAHAHAHA...

after seeing the almost identical headline about the dems thrust in my face for nearly six years, seeing this one is startling...

GOP Struggles To Define Its Message for 2006 Elections

why are they struggling to define their message...? it's not changed: lobotomize the social contract, continue to accrue and maintain unfettered power, keep rivers of money flowing into politically supportive super-rich pockets, maintain social control through fear and divisiveness, trash the constitution and the bill of rights... i've probably left out a few major things but you get the idea...
Republican efforts to craft a policy and political agenda to carry the party into the midterm elections have stumbled repeatedly as GOP leaders face widespread disaffection and disagreement within the ranks.

Anxiety over President Bush's Iraq policy, internal clashes over such divisive issues as immigration, and rising complaints that the party has abandoned conservative principles on spending restraint have all hobbled the effort to devise an election-year message, said several lawmakers involved in the effort.

While it is a Republican refrain that Democrats criticize Bush but have no positive vision, for now the governing party also has no national platform around which lawmakers are prepared to rally.

Every effort so far to produce such a platform has stumbled.

i guess when the wapo says "struggling to define its message," they are referring to those who consider themselves republicans who are now awakening from their slumber to find that bushco is not and never has been republican... the hard part for these people has to be that the message they have supported all this time is a far, far different message than they thought they were supporting... but they can take solace in the fact that it hasn't changed one iota...

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The Associated Press ain't buyin' the Bush/Cheney Iraq b.s.

case in point, this morning's headline...
Iraq War Enters 4th Year With More Deaths

point, point, point, point, counterpoint, point, counterpoint, counterpoint, point, MAIN point...
  • As the Iraq war entered its fourth year, nearly 1,500 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers on Sunday sought to root out insurgents from farming villages an hour's drive north of the capital, and at least 35 people died in insurgent and sectarian violence nationwide.
  • Iraqi politicians still had not formed a government more than three months after landmark elections for the country's first permanent post-invasion parliament . . .
  • The 133,000 American troops on the ground inside Iraq was nearly a third more than took part in the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein that began in the early hours of March 20, 2003.
  • At least 2,314 U.S. military personnel have died in the war, which is estimated to have cost $200 billion to $250 billion so far.
  • Bush offered an upbeat assessment: "We are implementing a strategy that will lead to victory in Iraq. And a victory in Iraq will make this country more secure and will help lay the foundation of peace for generations to come," he said.
  • "It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day as an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more," former interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi told British Broadcasting Corp. "If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is."
  • "Personally don't believe, one, that we're there now; two, that civil war is imminent; and, three, that it is inevitable that it will happen," Gen. George Casey, the U.S. commander in Iraq, said in an interview with Fox television.

  • In a sign of political progress, Iraq's top politicians emerged from the fourth in a series of U.S.-brokered all-party meetings on forming a new government and reported they had established an advisory, 19-member Security Council.

  • As politicians met in Baghdad, Iraqi police said eight civilians, including a child, were killed during clashes between U.S. troops and gunmen in Duluiyah, 45 miles north of Baghdad. The U.S. military said it was checking the report.
going on four years... FOUR YEARS and no end in sight...

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Bush: "...ignores the background noise..."

what is it gonna take to get bushco to face the reality that the american people are turning away en masse...?
Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday dismissed suggestions that the Bush White House, hampered by a weak response to Hurricane Katrina and stumbles on policy questions, needs a shake-up.

"I don't think we can pay any attention to that kind of thing," Cheney said on CBS "Face the Nation." "The president has got a job to do. ... He ignores the background noise that's out there in the polls that are taken on a daily basis."

[...]

"Administrations go through peaks and valleys," he said. "When you're down in the polls you're going to take shots that you don't deserve, and when you're up in the polls you're probably going to get praise you don't deserve."

Asked if he and Bush had a "good cop, bad cop" partnership in which Cheney took the heat for controversial policies, the vice president said: "It may look that way. It's not conscious."

never mind... i already knew the answer to that question...



anybody...? please...?

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Two lying liars and one honest man speak on Iraq

rumsfeld in the washington post...
The terrorists seem to recognize that they are losing in Iraq. I believe that history will show that to be the case.

Fortunately, history is not made up of daily headlines, blogs on Web sites or the latest sensational attack. History is a bigger picture, and it takes some time and perspective to measure accurately.

dr. evil on "face the nation" (video clip)...
SCHIEFFER: Mr. Vice President, all along the government has been very optimistic. You remain optimistic. But I remember when you were saying we’d be greeted as liberators, you played down the insurgency ten months ago. You said it was in its last throes. Do you believe that these optimistic statements may be one of the reasons that people seem to be more skeptical in this country about whether we ought to be in Iraq?

CHENEY: No, I think it has less to do with the statements we’ve made, which I think were basically accurate and reflect reality, than it does the fact that there is a constant sort of perception if you will that’s created because what is newsworthy is the carbomb in Baghdad, it’s not all the work that went on that day in 15 other provinces in terms of making progress in rebuilding Iraq.

murtha on meet the press (video clip)...
RUSSERT: Some in the administration say the media is distorting the good news that’s coming out of Iraq.

MURTHA: They said the same thing about Vietnam. They said the same thing over and over and over about Vietnam. They said we’re winning the war in Vietnam. You could go back and get quotes from Vietnam and you’ll see the same kind of reports. The media is the one that’s distorting. Everything is going fine in Vietnam. Well, everything is not going fine in Iraq. They have to realize it. When the whole world is against you, when our international reputation has been diminished so substantially, when all the countries in the region say we’d be better off without us being in Iraq, when the people themselves in Iraq say — and American people say it, I mean, who is right?

(thanks to americablog and think progress...)

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Rummy: incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically

another charge of incompetence...
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.

In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down.

Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army major general, was in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004.

i'm not going to bore you (or myself) with yet another rant about how i don't believe that anything the bush administration has done has been out of incompetence... they're accomplishing precisely what they set out to do... and, as much as i appreciate a retired major general speaking out, the naivete of calling for rumsfeld - or any member of the bush administration - to step down after watching the events of the past six years unfold is beyond disingenuous...

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Task Force 6-26

welcome to the war on terror, brought to you by alberto gonzales, donald rumsfeld, dick cheney, george bush and the united states of america...
Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, "NO BLOOD, NO FOUL." The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it." According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. "The reality is, there were no rules there," another Pentagon official said.

bit by bit, story by story, revelation by revelation, we are finding out the truth...
The heart of the camp was the Battlefield Interrogation Facility, alternately known as the Temporary Detention Facility and the Temporary Holding Facility. The interrogation and detention areas occupied a corner of the larger compound, separated by a fence topped with razor wire.

Unmarked helicopters flew detainees into the camp almost daily, former task force members said. Dressed in blue jumpsuits with taped goggles covering their eyes, the shackled prisoners were led into a screening room where they were registered and examined by medics.

Just beyond the screening rooms, where Saddam Hussein was given a medical exam after his capture, detainees were kept in as many as 85 cells spread over two buildings. Some detainees were kept in what was known as Motel 6, a group of crudely built plywood shacks that reeked of urine and excrement. The shacks were cramped, forcing many prisoners to squat or crouch. Other detainees were housed inside a separate building in 6-by-8-foot cubicles in a cellblock called Hotel California.

appallingly, this was regarded as a state-of-the-art facility worthy of replication, bringing together the best-of-the-best...
Task Force 6-26 was a creation of the Pentagon's post-Sept. 11 campaign against terrorism, and it quickly became the model for how the military would gain intelligence and battle insurgents in the future. [...] The task force was a melting pot of military and civilian units. It drew on elite troops from the Joint Special Operations Command, whose elements include the Army unit Delta Force, Navy's Seal Team 6 and the 75th Ranger Regiment. Military reservists and Defense Intelligence Agency personnel with special skills, like interrogators, were temporarily assigned to the unit. C.I.A. officers, F.B.I. agents and special operations forces from other countries also worked closely with the task force.

no effort was spared to keep the operation under wraps...
Army investigators were forced to close their inquiry in June 2005 after they said task force members used battlefield pseudonyms that made it impossible to identify and locate the soldiers involved. The unit also asserted that 70 percent of its computer files had been lost.

all that horror and so little to show for it...
Despite the task force's access to a wide range of intelligence, its raids were often dry holes, yielding little if any intelligence and alienating ordinary Iraqis, Defense Department personnel said. Prisoners deemed no threat to American troops were often driven deep into the Iraqi desert at night and released, sometimes given $100 or more in American money for their trouble.

at least there was enough management skill present to recognize "outstanding" performance...
[T]he task force leaders established a ritual for departing personnel who did a good job, Pentagon officials said. The commanders presented them with two unusual mementos: a detainee hood and a souvenir piece of tile from the medical screening room that once held Mr. Hussein.

the bush administration has abandoned any claim to represent the citizens of the united states... its legitimacy has long since departed and it is now up to us, as citizens, to figure out how to reclaim our government...

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