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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 04/16/2006 - 04/23/2006
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, April 22, 2006

W.R. Grace wishes Libby, Montana, would just disappear from the map

what're ya gonna do when you've gotta ante up for the environmental and human destruction wreaked by your heedless extractive mining practices and insatiable thirst for profits...? why, try to stem your losses, of course, by closing down that nasty little health clinic that's got the goods on you...
As W. R. Grace & Company prepares for a major criminal trial over widespread asbestos contamination here, doctors at the clinic that has treated hundreds of asbestos victims accuse the company of trying to discredit them and force the clinic to close.


Grace, a producer of chemicals and building materials, voluntarily pays for most of the medical treatment at the clinic. In recent months, the company's medical plan administrator imposed new rules that have made reimbursement more lengthy and involved, and pushed the clinic, its administrators say, into a cash-flow crisis. And the administrator said that a review it commissioned of past medical diagnoses in Libby found flaws in more than a quarter of the cases.

does anyone besides me see anything familiar here...? does it at all remind you of the countless stories we have seen over the past six years where those who are trying to bring truth to light are discredited, made to fight never-ending legal challenges, fired outright, and/or had their lives and reputations irreversibly damaged...? (look no further than the previous post...)

it's not like this kind of crap suddenly appeared when bush was elected president... but when that president and those around him have repeatedly given tacit permission for such behavior, is it any wonder it's become commonplace...?

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"Good" leaks and "bad" leaks: whose ox is being gored defines which is which

and how fast action is taken to stop it...
The Central Intelligence Agency has dismissed a senior career officer for disclosing classified information to reporters . . . about the agency's secret overseas prisons for terror suspects, intelligence officials said Friday.

The C.I.A. would not identify the officer, but several government officials said it was Mary O. McCarthy . . .


The dismissal of Ms. McCarthy provided fresh evidence of the Bush administration's determined efforts to stanch leaks of classified information.


Several former veteran C.I.A. officials said the dismissal of an agency employee over a leak was rare and perhaps unprecedented. One official recalled the firing of a small number of agency contractors, including retirees, for leaking several years ago.

it's abundantly clear why porter goss was put in george tenet's chair and negroponte was, in turn, placed above him... it's called INSURANCE...
The dismissal was announced Thursday at the C.I.A. in an e-mail message sent by Porter J. Goss, the agency's director, who has made the effort to stop unauthorized disclosure of secrets a priority.

meanwhile, KARL ROVE SOLDIERS ON... can you spell h-y-p-o-c-r-i-s-y...?

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Friday, April 21, 2006

The former YUGO - slavia

without going into all of the details, for over ten years after the breakup of yugoslavia, the republic of macedonia was called the former yugoslav republic of macedonia (FYROM), and, as far as the greeks are concerned, that will always be its name because the name MACEDONIA, by god, belongs to the greeks, period, end of report... everyone might want to note, however, that there's still plenty of "YUGO" left in macedonia as evidenced by some photos i took yesterday here in macedonia's capital city, skopje...

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Whatever it takes to stay in power, they will do

when i read stuff like this from an old hand like john dean, at least i know i'm not crazy...
If there is no "October Surprise," I would be shocked. And if it is not a high-risk undertaking, it would be a first.

ok, maybe i'm not crazy but, yes, i may be delusionary and, yes, i may be smoking some of that funny-smelling stuff and, yes, i am grasping at straws, but my most sincere hope is that the criminal bushco regime will topple before the elections and even sooner if possible...

(thanks to schoolpsyc at daily kos...)

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Will Fitz be able to face down the Prince of Darkness...?

i absolutely refuse to get my hopes up... i have simply had them crushed too many times... i will repeat, however, what i have said ad nauseam... rove is the embodiment of a very dark force and removing him from the scene would be, imho, a huge victory for everyone who wants to shine a bright light on the seamy underbelly of this criminal administration...
Grand Jury Hears Evidence Against Rove

By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report

Thursday 20 April 2006

Just as the news broke Wednesday about Scott McClellan resigning as White House press secretary and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove shedding some of his policy duties, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald met with the grand jury hearing evidence in the CIA leak case and introduced additional evidence against Rove, attorneys and other US officials close to the investigation said.

The grand jury session in federal court in Washington, DC, sources close to the case said, was the first time this year that Fitzgerald told the jurors that he would soon present them with a list of criminal charges he intends to file against Rove in hopes of having the grand jury return a multi-count indictment against Rove.

In an interview Wednesday, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove remains a "subject" of Fitzgerald's two-year-old probe.

"Mr. Rove is still a subject of the investigation," Luskin said. In a previous interview, Luskin asserted that Rove would not be indicted by Fitzgerald, but he was unwilling to make that prediction again Wednesday.

"Mr. Fitzgerald hasn't made any decision on the charges and I can't speculate what the outcome will be," Luskin said. "Mr. Rove has cooperated completely with the investigation."

Fitzgerald is said to have introduced more evidence Wednesday alleging Rove lied to FBI investigators and the grand jury when he was questioned about how he found out that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA and whether he shared that information with the media, attorneys close to the case said.

Fitzgerald told the grand jury that Rove lied to investigators and the prosecutor eight out of the nine times he was questioned about the leak and also tried to cover-up his role in disseminating Plame Wilson's CIA status to at least two reporters.

spring is the season that ushers in fresh vigor and renewed life... i can't think of a better way to mark the season than to see rove, a principal architect of the bushco creed of fear, lies and character assassination, go down...

(thanks to steve clemons at the washington note for pointing me to this latest effort by jason leopold...)

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At least the Titanic wasn't trying to hit the iceberg.

the d's...
An elephant lies snoozing. Sensing the time is right, a crowd of Democratic mice surround it and move in for the kill. “What's the plan?” asks one. “Plan?” asks another. “Maybe we should have a meeting,” says a third. “What if we win?” frets a fourth.

the r's...
“What is the difference between the Titanic and the Republican Party?” goes one joke in conservative circles. “At least the Titanic wasn't trying to hit the iceberg.”

the economist expounds from its lofty perch...
Sniff the air in Washington, DC, this spring and you notice the smell of decay.


[I]f the Republicans reek of decay, the Democrats ooze dysfunctionality: divided, beholden to interest-groups and without a coherent policy on anything that matters to America and the world...


Two years ago, this newspaper narrowly favoured Mr Kerry's incoherence over Mr Bush's incompetence (see article). Since then, Republican incompetence has exceeded even our worst fears. How depressing to report that Democratic incoherence has soared too. America deserves better.

using the dems' slogan against them is, admittedly, a cheap shot, but not undeserved... as the country faces a genuine constitutional crisis, "we can do better" is a gross understatement and until the party leadership owns up to the real urgency of the dilemma, they will continue to be marginalized...

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Blaming the victim - at least the NYT isn't being fooled

no shit...
President Bush wants to show the nation he's shaking things up in his administration, but it is clear that the people who messed everything up will remain in place.

  • [T]he first thing this president will be remembered for is the disastrous way the war in Iraq was conducted under Donald Rumsfeld, who, of course, isn't going anywhere.
  • If there's a second thing we think history will shake its head over, it's the administration's cavalier disregard for the civil liberties of American citizens and the human rights of American prisoners. Needless to say, nobody's being replaced at the Justice Department.
  • The third great disaster of the Bush administration is a fiscal policy that has turned a federal surplus into a series of enormous budget gaps and an economy that depends on loans from China to pay its bills.
The president is like one of those people who pretend to apologize by saying they're sorry if they were misunderstood. He doesn't believe he's done anything wrong. It's our fault for not appreciating him.

Blame the victim.

when in god's name are we gonna get bush the hell outta office...? 31 months more of this criminal administration is an eternity, an eternity for them to continue their destruction of our country...

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Gimme a "W..." Gimme an "O..." Gimme an "R..." An "S..." How about a "T...?"

i spotted this yesterday and passed up posting on it because it was so well-covered in the rest of the blogosphere... however, on second thought, it's just too juicy to leave alone...
Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.

it's a very long rolling stone article that, in erudite fashion, makes the case that most of us already know all too well...

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His satanic rotundness, Karl, still joined at the hip to George, is a subject, not a witness, in Fitz's case

anybody who thinks karl's role vis á vis the president has changed had better think again... you can bleach the stripes on a tiger, but...
"Karl could be called the janitor and his role with the President would not change," said a Bush friend.

witness, subject, target... let's hope blumenthal's right and the escalation continues...
Last week, on April 12, Libby counter-filed to demand extensive documents in the possession of the prosecutor. His filing, written by his lawyers, reveals that he intends to put Karl Rove on the stand as a witness to question him about his leaking of Plame's name to reporters and presumably his role in the "concerted action" against Wilson. In his request for documents from Rove's files, Libby dropped mention of Rove's current legal status.

For months, Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, has assured the press that his client, who was believed to be vulnerable to indictment for perjury, is in the clear. But Libby insisted that he was entitled to "disclosure of such documents" in Rove's files "even if Mr. Rove remains a subject of a continuing grand jury investigation".

Karl Rove is a subject of Fitzgerald's investigation - this is the headline buried in Libby's filing.

(thanks to raw story...)

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O-M-G...! $10B a MONTH in Afghanistan and Iraq...!

if you're at all savvy about these things, the question you MUST ask is, exactly where is that money ending up...? if some enterprising researcher/citizen journalist wanted to do a HUGE service to the american public, constructing a flow chart identifying the precise agencies in the u.s. government where the money started to flow, what intermediaries it passed through, and where it all finally came to rest would be oh-so-very interesting, wouldn't you think...?
The U.S. government is now spending nearly $10 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan, up from $8.2 billion a year ago, a new Congressional Research Service report found. Annual war costs in Iraq are easily outpacing the $61 billion a year that the United States spent in Vietnam between 1964 and 1972, in today's dollars.

perhaps i'm abysmally naive, but isn't finding out for us where our money goes one of the principal responsibilities of a free press in an open society...? no, scratch that... i'm not naive... that IS one of the principal responsibilities, it's just that "free" and "open" are highly questionable assumptions...

(thanks to atrios...)

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Scotty's gone and Rove is "shedding some duties...?"

low-hanging fruit...
A Bush administration shake-up continued Wednesday, with White House press secretary Scott McClellan announcing his resignation and a source saying that adviser Karl Rove would shed some duties.

"shedding some duties...!?!?" you mean he's not going to be shooting off his mouth on foreign policy like he did last week on iran...? you mean he's not going to be crafting mean-spirited character assassinations of bush's political foes...?
Rove, the president's longtime confidant and adviser, is giving up oversight of policy development to focus more on politics with the approach of the fall midterm elections.

The source told NBC that the shift was “an acknowledgement of the tough political climate.”

Rove “is the best pitcher in the league in terms of politics and strategy,” the source added, so “it’s obvious” he should focus on the mid-term elections.

Just over a year ago, Rove was promoted to deputy chief of staff in charge of most White House policy coordination. That new portfolio came on top of his title as senior adviser and role of chief policy aide to Bush.

the only rational response to karl rove is to conduct a forcible exorcism...

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"A pseudo cowboy has made me ashamed to be an American."

(thanks to rona phillips at daily kos...)
On Sept. 12, the American flag sprouted on homes, front lawns, cars, and shirts like weeds in an abandoned garden.


I am suggesting that we let it fly once again. Put it everywhere. But at the same time let us put a black wreath on our doors, a black ribbon on our lapel and cars. Let us show the sadness that we feel for the loss of our American soul.

i do not believe that the current presidential administration is solely responsible for what rona phillips describes as our "loss of soul..." it has been happening for quite some time, ever since the u.s. collectively (although perhaps not with a full awareness of the consequences) embraced the twin fallacies of its own moral superiority and the equally insidious vacuity that "more stuff" equals happiness... i do believe, however, that bushco has dramatically accelerated our descent into a black void from which it will be extraordinarily difficult to extricate ourselves...

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You can bet Latin America isn't a pleasant subject in the White House these days

i've been following the leftward movement in latin america for the last couple of years... it's quite interesting to say the least... while he was only referring to brazil, i share the opinion of the former world bank president, james wolfensohn, that what's going on may be
the "most important experiment in Latin America today."

countries that have already taken the left fork in the road...

Argentina - - - - Brazil - - - - Bolivia

Chile - - - - Uruguay - - - - Venezuela

countries either thinking about it or on the verge...

Colombia - - - - Ecuador - - - - Mexico

Nicaragua - - - - Peru

the nation magazine has a thorough overview and a decent analysis...
Today, roughly 300 million of Latin America's 520 million citizens live under governments that either want to reform the Washington Consensus--a euphemism for the mix of punishing fiscal austerity, privatization and market liberalization that has produced staggering levels of poverty and inequality over the past three decades--or abolish it altogether and create a new, more equitable global economy.

This year, that number is likely to grow. Latin America is in the middle of an election cycle that has already seen Evo Morales win in Bolivia and Michelle Bachelet, a single mother and socialist, win a third term for Chile's center-left Concertación Coalition. On April 9 in Peru, Ollanta Humala, a nationalist former military officer backed by Chávez and Morales, came from behind to force a runoff. In the months ahead, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela will hold presidential elections. And with center-leftist Manuel López Obrador ahead in Mexico, the Sandinistas poised to make a comeback in Nicaragua and Chávez's re-election all but certain, the Bush Administration is nervous. It has responded by trying to drive a wedge between what Rice describes as the "false populism" that is spreading throughout the Andes and the pragmatic reformism of Chile, Uruguay and Brazil--in other words, between the "statesmen" and the "madmen," as Chávez recently put it.

i've always said that if the latin american countries could just get their ducks in a row and stop their incessant feuding, they would be unstoppable... while they're far from best friends (case in point is argentina's ongoing fight with uruguay over the construction of paper pulp mills on the uruguay river), they are making some progress, both individually and with each other...
Buoyed by Argentina's and Uruguay's turn left, and anchored by Brazil's enormous market and advanced agricultural, pharmaceutical, heavy equipment, steel and aeronautical sectors, the countries of South America have taken a number of steps to diversify the hemisphere's economy. They courted non-US trade and investment, particularly from Asia. Fueled by a consuming thirst for Latin America's raw materials--its oil, ore and soybeans--the Chinese government has negotiated more than 400 investment and trade deals with Latin America over the past few years, investing more than $50 billion in the region. China is both Brazil's and Argentina's fourth-largest trading partner, providing $7 billion for port and railroad modernization and signing $20 billion worth of commercial agreements. South American leaders have also sought to deepen regional economic integration, primarily by expanding the Mercosur--South America's most important commercial alliance--and embarking on an ambitious road-building project. These efforts appear to be working. In December Lula claimed that Brazil's trade with the rest of Latin America grew by nearly 90 percent since the previous year, compared with a 20 percent increase with the United States.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The time to begin a serious investigation of the Bush presidency has arrived

what follows are the closing three paragraphs of an extremely well-written and quite lengthy piece in the current issue of vanity fair by carl bernstein, clearly bob woodward's antithesis...
After Nixon's resignation, it was often said that the system had worked. Confronted by an aberrant president, the checks and balances on the executive by the legislative and judicial branches of government, and by a free press, had functioned as the founders had envisioned.

The system has thus far failed during the presidency of George W. Bush—at incalculable cost in human lives, to the American political system, to undertaking an intelligent and effective war against terror, and to the standing of the United States in parts of the world where it previously had been held in the highest regard.

There was understandable reluctance in the Congress to begin a serious investigation of the Nixon presidency. Then there came a time when it was unavoidable. That time in the Bush presidency has arrived.

(thanks to ghost of frank zappa at daily kos...)

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The evidence keeps piling up and Bush is still president

what, for god's sake, is it going to take to SINK this criminal presidency...?

jason leopold hits yet another one out of the park...

Eleven days before President Bush's January 28, 2003, State of the Union address in which he said that the US learned from British intelligence that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from Africa - an explosive claim that helped pave the way to war - the State Department told the CIA that the intelligence the uranium claims were based upon were forgeries, according to a newly declassified State Department memo.

The revelation of the warning from the closely guarded State Department memo is the first piece of hard evidence and the strongest to date that the Bush administration manipulated and ignored intelligence information in their zeal to win public support for invading Iraq.

and now we have the new wh cos, joshua bolten, talking about rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic...
Signaling a possible shake-up among President Bush's senior advisers, the new White House chief of staff told top presidential aides Monday to expect changes that "refresh and re-energize the team." He invited anyone who is thinking of leaving before year's end to do so now.

personally, i'm with americablog's joe in dc...

Bush will still be President. Cheney will still be Vice President. We'll still be screwed.

(thanks to raw story...)

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Rumsfeld - when dinosaurs speak

when i was employed at united airlines, i was part of a terrific group of people who took seriously then-ceo jerry greenwald's commitment to transform the company... unfortunately, greenwald never gave the boot to all the old dinosaurs and i would sit in meetings with the sorry senior execs under him and they would all say the same thing - "this, too, will pass..." in my mind, it became the mantra for imminent extinction...
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld predicted Monday that calls from retired generals for him to step down would fade away, and he dismissed the criticism as a standard part of the history of American combat since the Revolutionary War.

"This, too, will pass," Mr. Rumsfeld said...

yes, they were right, it DID pass at united, followed by bankruptcy, worthless employee stock shares, pension plan defaults, perennial lousy service, and senior management continuing to walk away with big salaries and bonuses... and, yes, secretary rumsfeld, it will pass for you, too... it appears that george is going to defend you to the death as the u.s. sinks slowly into a vile miasma...

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Tom DeLay: not exactly the gold standard of integrity

of COURSE delay's going to become a lobbyist... what ELSE does he have the skills for...?
As long as he isn't forced to wear an orange jumpsuit (and possibly even then), those lobbyists [at a recent lobbyists' dinner] said, DeLay could easily become a lobbyist himself and make a lot of money.

That isn't exactly what you'd call the gold standard of integrity.

talent (paying to play) meets motivation ($$$ & power)... it's a slam-dunk...

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Let us Not March on a Road of Skulls

Salon magazine posted a must read article about Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower and former economist, Pentagon and State Department official who famously gathered and leaked, while working at the RAND corporation, what came to be called the Pentagon Papers. These were essentially an internal, government study, commissioned by then Sec. Def. Robert McNamara, of the facts on the ground of the Vietnam War since Harry Truman. Those facts stated, quite unequivocally, that "reality" was different from Nixon’s line of "the War will soon be over, everybody smile, the cameras are coming" policy. Did his act of bravery; at his subsequent trial he faced a jail sentence of 115 years; lead to the beginning of the end of the Vietnam War? One never knows, but it certainly didn’t hurt. One thing is clear, however, the times demanded it. And that is the thrust of the article: It wouldn’t hurt for some of the insiders to step up and send some info our way, before we really, really blow it.

From Ellsberg...

This is the time for people to show courage. People have more courage than they realize. It is the situation that challenges them. I think a lot about what happened in Germany in 1933 and I also wonder what people could have done in '32 to try to avert that in Germany. With each year it got much harder, and after that it was very hard to do anything about it. It took increasing courage. Now is the time for people to show that courage, and one thing specifically that I would like to see is a lot more whistle-blowing.

But, Ellsberg continues, it is not easy to be the whistle blower, to risk all, even, somewhat paradoxically, the dictates of ones conscience...
People really feel they are doing the right thing when they keep their mouths shut even when they see these things going on. They think that it would be bad for their company, or the president, if they exposed any of that. They are not lying with a guilty conscience to protect these people. They are doing it because they feel it is the right thing to do. So conscience isn't a totally reliable guide either. Where do you turn then?

Ellsberg advises that we should learn to think more critically, to bring some of that good old skepticism back into our national discourse. Amen brother.

Here’s a little more from the man who knows what he’s talking about
While I am going to continue working against the war in Iraq, it is not with the hope or belief that it will change quickly. But we do need to see how all the global issues go together. We need to look at the world as a whole, rather than disclaiming our miserable commitment to 0.7 percent of our GNP for developing countries. That's not acceptable. That's not tolerable. We need to address the issues of poverty, the issues of empire, the issues of nuclear weapons, the issues of health and of education -- which, of course, means sex education and health education and AIDS education. It is not acceptable that we should be coercing countries like Uganda to turn away from the free distribution of condoms in order to pander to a crazy fundamentalist Christian sect here in America.

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War is not only the best option, it is the ONLY option.

once again, glenn greenwald is on the money...
[W]ar is always the best option. It is the only option for those who are noble, strong, and fearless. Conversely, the sole reason for opposing a war is that one is a weak-minded and weak-willed appeaser who harbors dangerous fantasies of negotiating with madmen. Diplomacy and containment are simply elevated, PC terms for appeasement. War is the only tool that works.

war is the only tool that works if you are among those who believe that fear, wealth and power are humanity's principal drivers and if you can succeed in persuading others to believe the same...
The now well-known principle, Godwin's Law, holds:
"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." There is a tradition in many Usenet newsgroups that once such a comparison is made the thread in which the comment was posted is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.

That principle should be applied 100-fold to foreign policy choices, especially decisions about whether to start new wars.

at least it would provide a starting point...

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One senator and six congressmen headed up the river...?

if so, that's a level of corruption unprecedented in the u.s... seems like there's a lot of "unprecedented" stuff going on lately...
[Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)] expects at least seven lawmakers will go to jail in the wake of investigations related to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and others . . .


Tulsa World reports that Coburn indicated that six congressmen and a senator would end up being convicted on corruption charges and that "members of both parties have been involved in questionable dealings."

i suppose that saying "members of both parties" is meant to somehow be a mitigating factor... i, for one, have little doubt that there are more than a few dems that aren't exactly pure as the driven snow but i also think it's FAR from a mitigating factor... in fact, it's terribly, terribly sad...

(thanks to raw story...)

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The Bush administration took Iraq's oil money and wasted it . . . That's one reason why they're shooting at US soldiers.

"Well, I'm just glad that the Bush administration was able to teach those hopelessly corrupt Middle Easterners the high standards of the American way of doing business. CPA apparently stood for 'The Crooks are the Police Around here.'"

don't it make you feel so PROUD...?
American contractors swindled hundreds of millions of dollars in Iraqi funds, but so far there is no way for Iraq's government to recoup the money, according to US investigators and civil attorneys tracking fraud claims against contractors.


A US law that allows citizens to recover money from dishonest contractors protects only the US government, not foreign governments. In addition, an Iraqi law created by the Coalition Provisional Authority days before it ceded sovereignty to Iraq in June 2004 gives American contractors immunity from prosecution in Iraq.

"In effect, it makes Iraq into a 'free-fraud zone,'
" said Alan Grayson, a Virginia attorney who is suing the private security firm Custer Battles in a whistle-blower lawsuit filed by former employees. A federal jury last month found the Rhode Island-based company liable for $3 million in fraudulent billings in Iraq.

power and money... money and power... power and power... money and money...
"Like a colonial power, the Bush administration took Iraq's oil money, and wasted it. The Iraqis well know that. That's one reason why they're shooting at US soldiers."

(thanks to juan cole...)

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

One of the most secretive administrations in American history

the title of this nyt editorial, "A Bad Leak," flies directly in the face of last sunday's wapo editorial, "A Good Leak," one of the most disgusting shill pieces i've ever read...
[T]his president has never shown the slightest interest in disclosure, except when it suits his political purposes. He has run one of the most secretive administrations in American history, consistently withholding information and vital documents not just from the public, but also from Congress.

this president has never shown the slightest interest in ANYTHING except when it suits his political purposes...

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An unprecedented military rejection of civilian leadership

i don't think there's any way of overstating how huge a shift this really is...
In going public with their criticism, the generals have broken an informal code of silence among officers that is rooted in the longstanding reluctance of the military to openly challenge the civilian leadership of the Defense Department.

when someone arrives at the rank of general officer, particularly of the two-star and up variety, he's passed multiple "litmus tests" and proven himself to be a solid and responsible military officer that fits an extremely traditional mold... to declare the civilian defense chief "unfit to lead" is simply extraordinary...
The retired generals, in effect, have declared Mr. Rumsfeld unfit to lead the nation's military forces as the United States faces crucial decisions on how to extricate itself from Iraq and what to do about Iran's nuclear program.

why is it so extraordinary...? the dictates of that "traditional mold" are quite clear and, up until now, have been carved in stone...
American military officers have a deep respect for civilian authority and a tradition of keeping their differences over policy within the family. They tend to believe that operating within the system is a more effective means of influencing major military decisions than resigning in protest.

even more extraordinary is that it was relatively spontaneous...
The retired generals who have come forward this time say their criticism has not been coordinated. Rather, the first critiques seem to have encouraged others, who have been wrestling over whether to express their grievances publicly.

putting this criticism in its full context demonstrates a rejection of a civilian commander's leadership unprecedented in u.s. history... it is a measure of just how bad things have gotten in the united states of america that something like this could even be taking place...

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It's morning in Japan...

Revival in Japan Brings Widening of Economic Gap
Japan's economy, after more than a decade of fitful starts, is once again growing smartly. Instead of rejoicing, however, Japan is engaged in a nationwide bout of hand-wringing over increasing signs that the new economy is destroying one of the nation's most cherished accomplishments: egalitarianism.

Today, in a country whose view of itself was once captured in the slogan, "100 million, all-middle class society," catchphrases harshly sort people into "winners" and "losers," and describe Japan as a "society of widening disparities." Major daily newspapers are running series on the growing gap between rich and poor, with such titles as "Divided Japan" and "Light and Darkness."

The moment of reckoning has come as the man given credit for the economic revival, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, prepares to retire in September after more than five years in office. Mr. Koizumi's Reaganesque policies of deregulation, privatization, spending cuts and tax breaks for the rich helped lift the national economy, but at a social cost that Japan's more 127 million residents are just beginning to grasp.

Isn't that just special?
The focus on the widening economic gap has put Mr. Koizumi on the defensive.

"I don't think it's bad that there are social disparities," he said in Parliament, explaining that he favored a "society that rewards talented people who make efforts."

Read the whole article. It's like watching a rerun...only with different players.

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They're sending out talking points to generals???

Holey Moses...

Pentagon Memo Aims to Counter Rumsfeld Critics

The Defense Department has issued a memorandum to a group of former military commanders and civilian analysts that offers a direct challenge to the criticisms made by retired generals about Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

The one-page memorandum was sent by e-mail on Friday to the group, which includes several retired generals who appear regularly on television, and came as the Bush administration stepped up its own defense of Mr. Rumsfeld. On the political front, Republican strategists voiced rising anxiety on Saturday that without a major change in the course of the Iraq war, Republican candidates would suffer dearly in the November elections.

Note: What's is the priority here isn't that more soldiers will die or that Iraq is in chaos. No, it's that Republicans might lose their friggin' majority.
It is not uncommon for the Pentagon to send such memorandums to this group of officers, whom they consider to be influential in shaping public opinion. But it is unusual for the Pentagon to issue guidance that can be used by retired generals to rebut the arguments of other retired generals.

Guidance? Talking points.
A Defense Department spokesman, Eric Ruff, called the memorandum a "fact sheet" that was developed to provide detailed information to an influential group of analysts. In no way was it meant to enlist retired officers to speak out on behalf of Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Ruff said.

"The fact sheet was sent out to provide people with the facts," he said. "We would be doing a disservice to the analysts and the American public if we didn't provide exactly what the facts are."

One retired general who regularly attends the Pentagon meetings said Saturday that he found it unusual for the Pentagon to send such a memorandum in the middle of a heated debate, because it was almost certain to appear politically motivated.

Ya think? Everything these people DO is politically motivated. Look for the words "fact sheet" to figure prominently in Scotty McClellan's press briefings over the coming weeks. And in case you are keeping count, number seven just jumped on the bandwagon
On Saturday, Gen. Wesley K. Clark became the latest retired officer to call for the resignation of Mr. Rumsfeld.


Representative Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican whose campaign opponent has made Mr. Shays's support for the war an issue, said Saturday that he believed his prospects would be brighter if Mr. Rumsfeld were to go, though he has not called for his resignation.

"Do I think someone else would do a better job, and if someone else would do a better job, does it help me?" said Mr. Shays, who has previously criticized the conduct of the war. "Of course it would."

My goodness, he's adopted Rumsfeld-speak!

In two places in this article, Adam Nagourney notes that quotes are anonymous for fear of retribution or ostracization by the Bushies.

"I think it's part of the charm offensive," said the general, who was granted anonymity because he said he was afraid he would not be invited to future Pentagon sessions.


Both men [Republicans with close ties to the White House] were granted anonymity because they feared that speaking publicly would damage their relations with the White House.

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