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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 08/13/2006 - 08/20/2006
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
Send tips and other comments to: profmarcus2010@yahoo.com

And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Media Matters does a first-rate analysis

never shoddy, they make three major points around how our esteemed fourth estate leads us down the garden path...
  • Problem 1: The prediction/assertion can be self-fulfilling
It's simple. When the media assert that a particular event -- in this case, the U.K. arrests -- will drive up Bush's poll numbers on the question of national security, they do several things: They suggest to the public that Bush played a significant role in thwarting the terror plot; they tell the public that his purported role is another example of his strength on terror; and they contribute invaluably to Rove's plan to make this election year about the war on terror rather than about any number of other issues -- including the Iraq war -- that Rove has decided, probably correctly, poll even worse for Republicans.

  • Problem 2: The prediction/assertion is made possible by bad or no reporting
In suggesting or asserting that the U.K. arrests are helping or will help Bush, the media are not reporting; they are repeating. That Bush is strong on terror. That Bush played an important role in thwarting the attacks. That Bush's policies have made us safer.

[...]

We are not saying that any of those statements is false. We are merely saying that in simply asserting that the public will view Bush more favorably as a result of the U.K. arrests, the media must withhold from viewers and readers -- and presumably themselves -- contrary evidence and contrary viewpoints.

  • Problem 3: The prediction/assertion is apparently wrong
If professional pride isn't enough to dissuade the media from repeating Republican spin on an issue as serious and consequential as national security, perhaps this will be: The media's predictions are wrong. Polling conducted after the U.K. arrests doesn't bear out the claims of a Bush bounce.

there's really a lot more than i've snipped out here... go read the whole thing...

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PNAC may have closed up shop but it ain't dead

not by a long shot...
The Bush administration continues to bypass standard intelligence channels and use what some believe to be propaganda tactics to create a compelling case for war with Iran, US foreign experts and former US intelligence officials have said.

One former senior intelligence official is particularly concerned by private briefings that Vice President Dick Cheney is getting from former Office of Special Plans (OSP) Director, Abram Shulsky.

"Vice President Cheney is relying on personal briefings from Shulsky for current intelligence on Iran," said this intelligence official.

Shulsky, a leading Neoconservative and member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), headed the shadowy and secretive Department of Defense's OSP in the lead-up to the Iraq war -- helping to locate intelligence that would support the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq.

probably the only reason pnac closed up shop is because most of them are on the inside and don't need a p.r. and front organization any longer...

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We know they've lied, consistently, over many years

and now that it's official, forget any penalties...
A federal judge ruled yesterday that tobacco companies have violated civil racketeering laws, concluding that cigarette makers conspired for decades to deceive the public about the dangers of their product and ordering the companies to make landmark changes in the way cigarettes are marketed.

But U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said that under a 2005 appellate court ruling, she could not impose billions of dollars in penalties that had been sought by the Justice Department in its civil racketeering suit against the eight defendant tobacco companies.

All she could do, she said, was try to deter future illegal acts by the companies, and to that end, she ordered them to stop using terms such as "low tar," "light" and "mild" and to undertake a massive media campaign in an effort to correct years of misrepresentations.

a life-long smoker, my mother died of emphysema... another life-long smoker, my father-in-law died of emphysema... tough shit, i guess...

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Is George strongly grounded...?

on the one hand...

(NYT, 18 August)
...with a careful, thoroughly grounded opinion, one judge in Michigan has done what 535 members of Congress have so abysmally failed to do. She has reasserted the rule of law over a lawless administration and shown why issues of this kind belong within the constitutional process created more than two centuries ago to handle them.

but on the same hand...

(NYT, 19 August)
Even legal experts who agreed with a federal judge’s conclusion on Thursday that a National Security Agency surveillance program is unlawful were distancing themselves from the decision’s reasoning and rhetoric yesterday.

They said the opinion overlooked important precedents, failed to engage the government’s major arguments, used circular reasoning, substituted passion for analysis and did not even offer the best reasons for its own conclusions.

Discomfort with the quality of the decision is almost universal, said Howard J. Bashman, a Pennsylvania lawyer whose Web log provides comprehensive and nonpartisan reports on legal developments.

“It does appear,” Mr. Bashman said, “that folks on all sides of the spectrum, both those who support it and those who oppose it, say the decision is not strongly grounded in legal authority.”

then there's the third hand...

(NYT, 19 August)
President Bush predicted Friday that an appeals court would ultimately overturn a decision this week declaring his warrantless wiretapping program illegal, and he said that “those who herald this decision simply do not understand the nature of the world in which we live.”

ok, let's do a brief re-cap here... first, the decision IS thoroughly grounded... second, the decision ISN'T strongly grounded... third, george thinks that anybody who doesn't support his criminal spying activities simply doesn't understand today's world... taking a leap of logic, i would conclude that GEORGE isn't strongly grounded... anyone else care to take a crack at it...?

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The Saturday radio address - another crock full'o'shit from the prez

i used to get really pissed off when i'd read stuff like this from george... now, it's like watching your unbelievably stubborn neighbor wash his car when there are thunderheads on the horizon... what'r'ya gonna do except watch and shake your head...?
President Bush said Saturday that his administration's determination to remain in Iraq and its efforts to end violence in Lebanon are key to protecting the U.S. from future terrorist attacks.

i've come to the conclusion that his neurons must just mis-fire... what else could it be but a brain dysfunction...?

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Long day, not much posting

got on the road at 9 a.m. in bariloche and, 1100km later, it´s 9 p.m. in santa rosa, and time to hit the sack after a pizza dinner... only 700km more to go tomorrow back to buenos aires, a relatively short haul... it was a cloudy start in bariloche but, by the time we hit piedra del aguila, it was sunny and warm and stayed that way the rest of the day... it´s the end of a great trip and i'm sad to see it over... i'll get back on the posting routine later tomorrow...

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Words from the Federal bench I've been waiting too long to hear

telling it like it is - finally...
There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution,” wrote Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit.

dragging the nonsense out into the clean, fresh air...
The ruling eviscerated the absurd notion on which the administration’s arguments have been based: that Congress authorized Mr. Bush to do whatever he thinks is necessary when it authorized the invasion of Afghanistan.

[...]

[T]he administration told Judge Taylor that merely arguing its case would expose top secret information. Judge Taylor said she had reviewed the secret material and concluded it was not relevant. The secrecy claim, she said, was “disingenuous and without merit.”

and, like i speculated would happen the moment i read about the ruling, the attack dogs were immediately unleashed and the stooges in congress ran to the aid of their stricken monarch...
No sooner had this ruling been issued than Mr. Bush’s loyalists in Congress, who have been searching for ways to give legal cover to an illegal spying program, began calling for new laws to overcome Judge Taylor’s objections. Republicans quickly pointed out that Judge Taylor was appointed by President Jimmy Carter and that some of the many precedents she cited were written by liberal judges.

judge taylor puts the supposedly separate-but-equal congressional branch of the federal government to shame...
But for now, with a careful, thoroughly grounded opinion, one judge in Michigan has done what 535 members of Congress have so abysmally failed to do. She has reasserted the rule of law over a lawless administration and shown why issues of this kind belong within the constitutional process created more than two centuries ago to handle them.

this enormous burden shouldn't have to be carried by one lonely federal judge, but, thank god, there's at least one person in this country who, in her official capacity, is acting to put a halt to these criminals...

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ridiculous partisan hyperbole

oh, it's way beyond ridiculous... it's craven, baseless, and a flat-out lie, and i'm really, really sick of it...
Sen. Orrin Hatch, who continuously decries the bitter partisanship in Washington, implied this week that Democratic success in November's election could result in terrorist attacks on America.

Hatch was quoted in Tuesday's Tooele Transcript Bulletin as saying Middle East terrorists are "waiting for the Democrats here to take control, let things cool off and then strike again."

Democrats are criticizing Hatch for what they see as "ridiculous" partisan hyperbole.

when there is every indication that bush and osama have forged an unholy alliance, how can anyone with half a brain believe the kind of garbage the r's are peddling... as the recent catch phrase goes, if you aren't terrified yet (of the bush administration, that is), you haven't been paying attention...

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More scares and we can now expect them on a more or less daily basis

it's the terror channel - all fear, all the time...
An airport in Huntington, West Virginia has been evacuated after explosives tests on two containers in a female passenger's luggage came up positive.

The containers were spotted in the woman's hand bag and subjected to swab tests and sniffer dog examinations, both of which gave positive results.

Officials say the woman is of Pakistani origin and was travelling on a one-way ticket to Charlotte, North Carolina.

She has been detained and is now being questioned by FBI officials.

According to the woman's travel documents she is from Jackson, Michigan and was born in 1978.

Chris Yates from Jane's Aviation told the BBC that both the swab and sniffer dog tests were extremely sensitive.

The likelihood that a container that had not come into contact with explosives would come up positive on both tests was extremely low, he said.

stick around, folks... the parade is just getting underway...

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Yep, it definitely looks like the R's heart Joe

joe's a traitor to his own party and the r's can't abandon him even if it means abandoning one of their own...
A source at the National Republican Senatorial Committee confirmed in an interview with The Politicker that the Republican party will not help Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Alan Schlesinger (R) "or any other potential Republican candidate in Connecticut, and it now favors a Lieberman victory in November."

Said the source: "We did a poll and there is no way any Republican we put out there can win, so we are just going to leave that one alone."

it's all about staying in POWER...! like molly ivins says, "ya gotta dance with them whut brung ya..."

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The U.S. is WAY overdue in realizing that its elections can be and have been stolen

election fraud in the 21st century isn't a phenomenon restricted to underdeveloped countries and so-called "emerging economies..."
The state post of secretary of State was a backwater until 2000, when Florida's Katherine Harris became a central figure in the presidential recount controversy. Now national Democratic groups and White House prospects, unhappy about Harris' decisions and those of Republican Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio two years ago, are pouring resources into contests for the job.

blind faith in our electoral process and in our government was never something the founders had in mind, and we sure as hell can't afford any more naivete... with mid-term elections on the near horizon, we need as many eyes focused on the electoral process as on the candidates and the election outcomes...

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Sure, the president is acting within the law, but, if I tell you why, I'll have to kill you

the fifth paragraph is hysterical... arguing that the president is acting within his authority but, in order to prove that he was, secret information would have to be revealed is bizarre in the extreme... c'mon, you guys... you can do better than that... that's tantamount to saying, "yeah, bush is acting legally but, if i tell you on what basis, i'll have to kill you..." proving that our president is acting legally and constitutionally should be a matter of course, not a state secret... what the hell is going on in this country...?
A federal judge ruled Thursday that the government's warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit became the first judge to strike down the National Security Agency's program, which she says violates the rights to free speech and privacy as well as the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.

"Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution," Taylor wrote in her 43-page opinion.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of journalists, scholars and lawyers who say the program has made it difficult for them to do their jobs. They believe many of their overseas contacts are likely targets of the program, which involves secretly listening to conversations between people in the U.S. and people in other countries.

The government argued that the program is well within the president's authority, but said proving that would require revealing state secrets.

The ACLU said the state-secrets argument was irrelevant because the Bush administration already had publicly revealed enough information about the program for Taylor to rule.

any bets on how it will take before accusations of judicial activism, aiding and abetting terrorists, and treason start to fly directed at judge taylor...?

[UPDATE]


well, THAT didn't take long...
Terrorist-Friendly Ruling

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Reliable, relatively inexpensive liquid explosive detector in use at White House

absolutely, stunningly, jaw-droppingly hypocritical, to say nothing of exposing an deliberate deception... i'm not even going to cut and paste this one... go visit john at americablog for the grim details...

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Pushing fear while riding on a Harley



bush, pandering to his so-called base, never misses a photo-op... here he is in bono-style shades, posing on a harley...

as a sidenote, i had a gentleman from harley in my class this past summer and, guess what...? harley's just a typical american corporation, trying to wring the last dollar of profit out of its businesses... it talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk... no surprise there...

meanwhile, back at the photo-op, bush reads from karl's talking points...

Referring to the war in Iraq, Mr. Bush said: “There’s some good people in our country who believe we should cut and run. They’re not bad people when they say that, they’re decent people.”

But he added, “I just happen to believe they’re wrong, and they’re wrong for this reason: this would be a defeat for the United States in a key battleground in the global war on terror.”

go ahead... keep cranking the fear machine... keep denigrating everybody who disagrees with you and your criminal posse... the power of truth will eventually expose you for the complete liar and total fraud you are...

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lago Nahuel Huapi, Provincia de la Neuquen, Argentina

after a cloudy start, the sun was out full by early afternoon, and the rest of the day featured the amazing, brilliant blue sky that i have only seen here in argentina...here's two views of lago nahuel huapi, the centerpiece of parque nacional nahuel huapi, looking toward the distant snow-covered mountains in the north and northeast... both were taken this evening at dusk from the shore just north of the town of bariloche...





note: with hardly a breath of a breeze, the water is almost as smooth as glass...

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The latest bomb plot - like Florida, more of an aspiration than an operation

ok, let's see... in the past two weeks we have seen the following events...

  • lieberman loses the connecticut primary sending a strong signal that the repubs and their sycophants are in deep doo-doo
  • the london bomb plot is "uncovered," unleashing a wave of fear-mongering from cheney, bush, tony snow, myriad pundits, and lieberman himself
  • just today, alberto gonzales hints at terrorist cells in our very own neighborhoods (see previous post)
now we have former uk ambassador to uzbekistan, craig murray, not a slouch in the intelligence analysis department, pointing out what had already been brought up as a suspicion
several days ago...

None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports, which given the efficiency of the UK Passport Agency would mean they couldn't be a plane bomber for quite some time.

In the absence of bombs and airline tickets, and in many cases passports, it could be pretty difficult to convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt that individuals intended to go through with suicide bombings, whatever rash stuff they may have bragged in internet chat rooms....

In all of this, the one thing of which I am certain is that the timing is deeply political. This is more propaganda than plot. Of the over one thousand British Muslims arrested under anti-terrorist legislation, only twelve per cent are ever charged with anything. That is simply harrassment of Muslims on an appalling scale. Of those charged, 80% are acquitted. Most of the very few - just over two per cent of arrests - who are convicted, are not convicted of anything to do terrorism, but of some minor offence the Police happened upon while trawling through the wreck of the lives they had shattered.

how much longer are we going to put up with this total, grade-a bullshit...?

(thanks to john at americablog...)

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Terrorists: coming soon to a neighborhood near you

ya know what...? i am so sick and tired of having this administration working night and day to get me to pee my pants in abject terror... but, i suppose i might as well get used to it... the mid-term elections are only a little over two and a half months away...
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, in Pittsburgh to address the World Affairs Council, recalled memories of Sep. 11 while referring ominously to a stateless enemy hidden in American towns.

"The most dramatic change," said Gonzales, "is the nature of the enemy our country today faces -- a stateless enemy sometimes hidden and nurtured here in our neighborhoods, taking advantage of the very laws they mock with their killing and destruction, as a shield from detection and prosecution."

Gonzales, further emphasizing the perceived domestic danger, stated, "The threat of homegrown terrorist cells may be as dangerous as groups like al Qaeda, if not more so.

"It is therefore essential that we continue to develop the tools we need to investigate their actions and intentions with the help of our partners, and prosecute those who travel down the road of radicalization."

the only thing i'm sure of is me and you, and i'm not too sure about you...

p.s. stick a friggin' sock in it, alberto... go out and see if you can find an innocent man to detain (i'm sure there's at least ONE out there somewhere), subject him to torture for 5 or 6 years, and see if he coughs up anything worthwhile...

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Former generals, diplomats, and national security officials speak out on Iran

why...? cuz it AIN'T a crisis and they don't like the way the administration is continuing to set the stage for another war...
Seeking to counter the White House's depiction of its Middle East policies as crucial to the prevention of terrorist attacks at home, 21 former generals, diplomats and national security officials will release an open letter tomorrow arguing that the administration's "hard line" has actually undermined U.S. security.

The letter comes as President Bush has made a series of appearances and statements, including a visit Tuesday to the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Va., seeking to promote the administration's record on security issues in advance of November's midterm congressional elections.

[...]

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard, one of the letter's signers and a former military assistant to Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara in the 1960s, said the group was particularly concerned about administration policies toward Iran, believing them to be a possible prelude to a military attack on suspected nuclear sites in that country.

Gard said the signatories — who included retired Marine Corps Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, head of U.S. Central Command from 1991 to 1994, and Morton H. Halperin, a senior State Department and National Security Council official during the Clinton administration — did not believe that Iran had the wherewithal to build a nuclear weapon in the immediate future and would push the administration to open negotiations with Tehran on the issue.

"It's not a crisis," Gard said in a telephone interview. "To call the Iranian situation a 'crisis' connotes you have to do something right now, like bomb them."

He noted that Iran had sought to open negotiations with the U.S. through Swiss intermediaries, efforts that the letter-signers said were worth exploring as a means of defusing tensions in the region.

But Gard said the administration appeared to be going in the opposite direction, adding that he was particularly concerned by recent warnings from former Israeli military officials that a strike against Iran may be needed to disable that country's nuclear program.

i'm beginning to think that bush and those closest to him, feeding him his lines, are pathological... (actually, that's not true... i'm not BEGINNING to think, i've been thinking it for going on six years...)

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Hey, Dick...! Hey, Karl...! What goes around, comes around...

it looks like cheney and rove are going up against a tough customer...
A lawyer plans to use a legal precedent that allowed President Bill Clinton to be sued while in office to force Vice President Dick Cheney and presidential adviser Karl Rove to testify in a lawsuit brought by former CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband.

California attorney Joseph Cotchett said he will ask a federal court to order Cheney, his ex-chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Rove to testify in depositions about their role in disclosing her classified status.

The civil lawsuit accuses them and others of conspiring to publicly identify Plame as a CIA agent to punish her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for writing in an op-ed piece that the Bush administration twisted intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in the run-up to the Iraq war.

Cotchett, who took over as trial counsel in Plame's case on Tuesday, said legal precedent for whether Cheney and the others could claim legal immunity in the case comes, in part, from Paula Jones' sexual harassment case against Clinton.

In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court said in a unanimous ruling that neither Clinton "or any other official has an immunity that extends beyond the scope of any action taken in an official capacity."

In order to be dismissed from the case or avoid testifying, Cotchett said, lawyers for Cheney and the other men would have to argue that they were acting on government business if they are found to have leaked Plame's name to the media.

ah, gosh... how very interesting... they may very well be hoisted by their own petard...
Hoist by your own petard

Meaning

Injured by the device that you intended to use to injure others.

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Lieberman may lose seniority

he SHOULD lose seniority or, better yet, be booted out altogether... he's effectively resigned from his party...
Democrats are upset with statements Lieberman made about the Iraq war, implying that the stand of many Democrats to bring the troops home from Iraq by a certain date puts national security at risk. Some senior aides have intimated that Lieberman may lose seniority within the caucus over the imbroglio.

whatever respect he may have once had and whatever he may have done to earn it, he has pissed away and then some...

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"We need them to be out of our country and away from all of the Middle East"

iraqis look at the lebanese and see themselves, as well they should...
Talk on the streets of Baghdad is taking a tone of oneness with the Lebanese. An anger over the bombing of Lebanon that Iraqis say they can feel as their own has led to some of the world's biggest demonstrations against the Israeli attacks on Lebanon. Shia militant leader Muqtada Sadr has led one of the largest demonstrations against Israel.

"We know very well that American politicians support Israel and sent them new bombs to attack Lebanon," Abu Muhammed, who was a senior intelligence officer during Saddam Hussein's regime told IPS. "At the same time, they send aid to Lebanon, such as food and water. They did the same in Afghanistan and Iraq before. But we don't need their aid -- we need them to be out of our country and away from all of the Middle East."

what a sorry, sorry state of affairs...

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Propaganda on the Picture Box

Today the FCC swallowed hard and decided that misidentified, and therefore unidentified news sources and news content, aka. Video News Releases (VNRs), which are pre-produced, prepackaged, shipped and sold by government or corporate offices and directly onto the flashing blue screens where hapless US citizens watch the evening news, munching on their fat laden dinners, could be bad for the average news consumer. "You can't tell any more the difference between what's propaganda and what's news," said FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. The FCC issued 44 letters of inquiry to 77 licensees concerning the possible undisclosed sourcing of news reports. According to FCC regulations, “licensees and operators generally must clearly disclose to members of their audience the nature, source and sponsorship of the material that they are viewing.” John Stauber of the Center for Media and Democracy reports that violators of the sponsorship disclosure rules could face “monetary fines of up to $32,500 per violation, and the possible revocation of broadcast licenses.” Additionally, “Section 507 of the Communications Act establishes civil and criminal penalties for violation of disclosure requirements, with the possibility of a fine of up to $10,000 and as much as a year of imprisonment.”

An April 6, 2006 study by the Center for Media and Democracy conducted over a 10 month period by Diane Farsetta and Daniel Price shows 77 tv stations, which reach about half the US population, aired these VNRs or Satellite Media Tours (SMTs) in 98 separate instances. A list of the 49 different clients from the 3 major PR firms who produced the content includes General Motors, Intel, Pfizer and Capital One. CMD reports that these 77 stations “actively disguised the sponsored content to make it appear to be their own reporting.” The report cites a
Harris Poll which shows that 70 percent of the US population relies on Network News for “unbiased” information. Additionally, the report states that “in June 2005, the president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA), Barbara Cochran, told a reporter that VNRs were "kind of like the Loch Ness Monster. Everyone talks about it, but not many people have actually seen it."

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Slouching toward Armageddon (continued)

juan cole shares this...
Ray Close, a retired CIA analyst of Arab affairs, writes:
Despite vehement official assertions to the contrary, indications are increasing every day that the Bush Administration has already decided that conventional diplomacy will fail as a way to manage its confrontation with Iran, and that military action against the Teheran regime has therefore already reached the point of final countdown.

[...]

[The Bush administration's] bombastic and posturing style of “diplomacy” is going to lead inescapably to one or the other of the following results:

1. War with Iran (with negative consequences beyond anyone's ability to imagine); or 2. Another humiliating demonstration of impotence.

or 3, all of the above...

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An NYT headline and lead-in to make you roll your eyes

what can you do after reading something like this except shake your head...
Bush Said to Be Frustrated by Level of Public Support in Iraq

By THOM SHANKER and MARK MAZZETTI

President Bush is concerned about lack of progress in Iraq and frustrated at the Iraqi government and people’s lack of public support for America’s mission.

President Bush made clear in a private meeting this week that he was concerned about the lack of progress in Iraq and frustrated that the new Iraqi government — and the Iraqi people — had not shown greater public support for the American mission, participants in the meeting said Tuesday.

only an intense isolation from anything resembling reality could produce such an astounding revelation... the guy must live in a hermetically-sealed dome...

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Three cheers for Jack Carter

some good news for a wednesday morning...
Democrat Jack Carter, son of former President Carter, on Tuesday easily advanced to a November general election race against incumbent U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.

Carter said Ensign has been too cozy with the White House. "You know, he's voted for the Bush administration 96 percent of the time," Carter said.

ensign is a toad...

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NewsMax hearts Joe

as if we didn't need more proof that the wingnuts fully embrace joe, we now have this poll from the uber-conservative newsmax website, complete with this ad being run on the wapo's morning email of headline news...


NewsMax is conducting one of the first online polls about Senator Joe Lieberman's independent run for U.S. Senate from Connecticut.

We want to know what you really think. Key media sources and others want to know your opinion. Vote today!

1) Do you support Sen. Lieberman as an Independent in his run for U.S. Senate?

Support ___ Don't Support ___

2) Do you agree with Senator Lieberman that the war with Iraq and the removal of Saddam was the right thing to do?

Right Thing ___ Wrong Thing ___

3) Does Senator Lieberman's loss in the Democratic primary help or hurt Hillary Clinton?

Help ___ Hurt ___

4) Who did you vote for in the 2004 election?

Bush ___ Kerry ___ Other ___

as much as i despise newsmax, go take the poll and let 'em know what you think... (just for chuckles and grins, of course...)

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Cuban exile terrorists, Blackwater, political hacks, laughable scare tactics

alternet's got a rich trove of goodies today... some highlights...

frank joyce talks about how the u.s. continues to protect the planners of the terrorist incident that blew up a cuban airliner in 1976...

This tacitly U.S.-supported terrorist crime never appears on the "history" list of incidents involving civilian airliners, at least not in the U.S. media. Why? Cognitive dissonance is one explanation. The syllogism goes like this: The United States is a good country. Terrorism is bad. The United States funds and protects terrorists. Uh-oh -- we certainly can't talk about that.

[...]

[T]he planners and instigators of the plot, Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, got away clean. Posada is today being protected by the U.S. government from an extradition demand by Venezuela, where the crime was planned. [...] George H. W. Bush in effect pardoned Orlando Bosch. He is today a free man living in Miami where he gives gloating TV interviews about his role in blowing up the plane.

matt taibbi in rolling stone via alternet, explains why political hacks of all political stripes - the dlc included - are freaked over the lieberman loss...
[T]heir problem now is that they've fucked up Iraq and everything else so badly that they've practically made "McGovernism" mainstream. A whole generation of hacks has reached office running against George McGovern, and now Joe Lieberman is threatening to ruin things for everybody, just like Jimmy Carter wrecked the Barry Goldwater gravy train for the last generation by falling on his face against Ronald Reagan. If there is such a thing as a principle in Washington, avoiding such a catastrophe as that is it.

jeremy scahill, writing in the nation via alternet, takes a look at the "army-for-hire" outfit, blackwater, a big-time war profiteer...
Government records recently obtained by The Nation reveal that the Bush Administration has paid Blackwater more than $320 million since June 2004 to provide "diplomatic security" services globally. The massive contract is the largest known to have been awarded to Blackwater to date and reveals how the Administration has elevated a once-fledgling security firm into a major profiteer in the "war on terror."

[...]

A heavily redacted 2005 government audit of Blackwater's WPPS contract proposal, obtained by The Nation, reveals that Blackwater included profit in its overhead and its total costs, which would result "not only in a duplication of profit but a pyramiding of profit since in effect Blackwater is applying profit to profit." The audit also found that the company tried to inflate its profits by representing different Blackwater divisions as wholly separate companies.

The WPPS contract awarded in 2004 was divided among a handful of companies, among them DynCorp and Triple Canopy. Blackwater was originally slated to be paid $229.5 million for five years, according to a State Department contract list. Yet as of June 30, just two years into the program, it had been paid a total of $321,715,794.

then there's molly ivins' arched eyebrows and twinkling eyes to top off the day...
My favorite episode, of course, was the Miami terrorists, a fearsome horde of seven described by the FBI's deputy director as, "More inspirational that operational." That means wanna-bes. An FBI informant posing as a member of al-Qaida offered to supply the plotters with material for the jihad, so they asked for boots and uniforms. Every terrorist needs a uniform.

Of course, even a nincompoop can succeed occasionally -- but the list of wanna-bes keeps growing. Seventeen people were arrested in Canada for intending to behead the prime minister. Has anyone in all of history ever cared that much about a Canadian prime minister? Their national motto is, "Now, let's not get excited."

not a bad haul for a wednesday...

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Unscrupulous politics from the Karl Rove playbook

make no mistake... karl is the guiding light here...



disgusting... unprincipled... despicable... no moral or ethical compass... no scruples... attack... smear... denigrate... whatever it takes to win...


(thanks to raw story...)

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Olbermann connects the dots

between bushco politics and fear-mongering... and, golly gee, what does he find...? go take a look...

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Mexico's fraudulent election



a commenter on my previous post on the mexican elections had this to say...
AMLO didn't win over half the vote. Get off it. Sad to say, this is not a People Power Revolution.

my response was this...
maybe so, maybe no... i don't trust anyone or anything any more... the mexican elections are just as likely to have been stolen as the u.s. elections were and there is no reason to believe they weren't...

now, i just ran across this...
Finally, the hard numbers are starting to come in. In the “partial recount” of paper ballots from the July 2 presidential election in Mexico, ordered by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (known as the Trife), the recount has been completed in 10,679 precincts of the 11,839 ordered by the court (about 9 percent of Mexico’s 130,000 precincts). From these precincts, Narco News has obtained the following preliminary numbers that confirm the massive and systematic electoral fraud inflicted on the Mexican people:

* In 3,074 precincts (29 percent of those recounted), 45,890 illegal votes, above the number of voters who cast ballots in each polling place, were found stuffed inside the ballot boxes (an average of 15 for each of these precincts, primarily in strongholds of the National Action Party, known as the PAN, of President Vicente Fox and his candidate, Felipe Calderón).
* In 4,368 precincts (41 percent of those recounted), 80,392 ballots of citizens who did vote are missing (an average of 18 votes in each of these precincts).
* Together, these 7,442 precincts contain about 70 percent of the ballots recounted. The total amount of ballots either stolen or forged adds up to 126,282 votes altered.
* If the recount results of these 10,679 precincts (8.2 percent of the nation’s 130,000 polling places) are projected nationwide, it would mean that more than 1.5 million votes were either stolen or stuffed in an election that the first official count claimed was won by Calderon by only 243,000 votes.
* Among the findings of this very limited partial recount are that in 3,079 precincts where the PAN party is strong and where, in many cases, the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) of candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador did not count with election night poll watchers, one or more of three things occurred: Either the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE, in its Spanish initials) illegally provided more ballots than there are voters in those precincts, or the PAN party stole those extra ballots, or ballots were forged.

the florida returns were similarly systematically analyzed and equally troubling findings resulted... let's not be so quick to let mexico off the hook in the same way that we let our own supreme court get away with their 12 december 2000 affirmation of a coup d'etat...

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Something I really need to say

i make numerous posts every day about the outrages of the bush administration and the horrible depths to which bush and his criminal posse are taking my country... i read numerous weblogs that chronicle those same outrages and many more... and, ya know what...? it isn't adding up to SHIT...! bushco is rolling along, continuing to shred the u.s. constitution, flipping the rude digit to one and all, consolidating power, lying, stealing, and riding roughshod over everything that means anything worthwhile in both the u.s. and the rest of the world... let me ask THIS... what in the hell do we need to do to make them STOP...? we desperately need to make them STOP...!

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We've fallen and we can't get up

reading this kind of thing absolutely drives me up the wall...
About a week before, Canadian officials had stopped Benatta as he entered the country from Buffalo to seek political asylum. On that Sept. 11, he was quietly transferred to a U.S. immigration lockup where a day passed before sullen FBI agents told him what the rest of the world already knew: terrorists had attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

It slowly dawned on Benatta that his pedigree - a Muslim man with a military background - made him a target in the frenzied national dragnet that soon followed. The FBI didn't accuse him of being a terrorist, at least not outright. But agents kept asking if he could fly an airplane.

He told them he couldn't. It made no difference.

"They gave me a feeling that I was Suspect No. 1," he said in a recent interview.

The veiled accusations and vehement denials would continue for nearly five years - despite official findings in 2001 that he had no terrorist links and in 2003 that authorities had violated his rights by colluding to keep him in custody.

Of the estimated 1,200 mostly Arab and Muslim men detained nationwide as potential suspects or witnesses in the Sept. 11 investigation, Benatta would earn a dubious distinction: Human rights groups say the former Algerian air force lieutenant was locked up the longest.

put yourself in this guy's shoes... the week before 9/11, you are detained... five years later, without being charged with anything, you are finally released... calling this kafkaesque is a serious understatement... how can you possibly justify this as the action of a nation-state devoted to human rights and justice...? answer...? you can't... not possible...

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You want SNOW...? I gotcher snow RIGHT HERE...!



i took the above photo this morning at the piedras blancas recreation area on cerro otto, a mountain above and just southwest of bariloche, argentina... they've had a TON of snow - as the photo plainly shows - and, to make the day perfect, the sun was bright and the sky a brilliant blue... what a great place...!

p.s. ya, ok... in the previous post, i'm dissing travel writers for plugging argentina and here i am, doing the same thing... so sue me...

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Note to travel writers: forget Argentina



the last thing argentina needs is more gringos running around...
[W]ith startup costs and wages still low in post-crisis Argentina, entrepreneurs say their savings in dollars, euros and pounds go a lot further here — letting them chase entrepreneurial dreams while reveling in the nation's cosmopolitan blend of Latin America and Europe.

(voluntary self-disclosure: i am a gringo and live part-time in buenos aires...)

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Slouching towards Armageddon

the last description one would want to apply to holbrooke is "alarmist..."
"Two full-blown crises, in Lebanon and Iraq, are merging into a single emergency," noted Washington's former U.N. Ambassador, Richard Holbrooke, in an uncharacteristically alarming column in Thursday's Washington Post.

[...]

"A chain reaction could spread quickly almost anywhere between Cairo and Bombay," Holbrooke warned. "...The combination of combustible elements poses the greatest threat to global stability since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, history's only nuclear superpower confrontation."

Among other things, noted Holbrooke, a top candidate for secretary of state if Democrats had won the presidency in 2000 or 2004, Turkey is threatening to invade northern Iraq; the world's largest anti-Israel demonstrations are taking place in downtown Baghdad; Syria may yet be pulled into the Lebanon war; Afghanistan is under growing threat from a resurgent Taliban; and India is threatening about punitive action against Pakistan for its alleged involvement in the recent train bombings in Bombay.

Particularly alarming to Holbrooke, as to a steadily growing number of Republican realists and other members of the traditional U.S. foreign policy elite, is the apparent complacency of the Bush administration in the face of these events.

no, ambassador holbrooke, they're NOT complacent... they're positively giddy with delight... this is precisely the kind of conflagration bushco has been working for since day one...

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Democracy in action - if Gore had stood his ground like AMLO...



if gore had stood firm and called people to his side, we would have seen this scene in the u.s. in 2000... but he didn't and look what we've got... let's hope something disastrous doesn't happen to amlo, or, worse yet, he gives up...
"A historic moment."

Those were the words of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, taking the opportunity, yet again, to cast Mexico's contested presidential contest in apocryphal terms.

He used them on Sunday at the latest of his mass rallies.

And, standing amongst his supporters, I sensed that many here agree with him. Perhaps even his opponents.

Since 2 July, when the presidential election was held, Mexico has lurched its way through an acrimonious and divisive political crisis.

Why? Well, the election produced a victor, but it was not Mr Lopez Obrador.

And he is doing his best to change that result in a monumental battle for the future of this infant multi-party democracy.

He says he is the victim of mass fraud at the ballot box.

[...]

The central square in Mexico City and the surrounding roads have become a tent city in the past few weeks, crowded with protestors taking their message out on the street.

Banks, government buildings and hotels have all been blockaded - symbols, say those involved, of the institutions that have kept the majority of Mexican people in poverty and out of government.

They are symbols that Mr Lopez Obrador also stands against.

It is democracy in action, and it is putting much of the capital city out of action.

[...]

Imagine Trafalgar Square in London or Times Square in New York blocked for weeks on end and you can imagine the scale of this mass resistance.

no matter what kind of makeover or spiritual rebirth gore has experienced in the past years, i will never forgive him for throwing in the towel...

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Cheney is a walking, talking, "unsupported invective"

cheney has to rank as one of the most fact-free individuals in modern american history...
By insinuating that the sizeable majority of American voters who oppose the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy, Vice President Cheney on Wednesday may have crossed the line that separates legitimate political discourse from hysteria.

Cheney's comments came in a highly unusual conference call with reporters, part of an extensively orchestrated and largely successful Republican effort to spin the obviously anti-Bush message of Ned Lamont's victory over presidential enabler Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic Senate primary.

In making the case that Lieberman's defeat was actually an enormous boost for Republicans, the customarily furtive vice president let loose not with compelling argument, but unsupported invective.

"unsupported invective..." cheney himself is an "unsupported invective..."

(thanks to dan froomkin at the wapo via john at americablog...)

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Bush and Cheney have proven they don't know squat about the Middle Eastern Muslims

juan cole states the obvious...
Any US attack on Iran could well lead to the US and British troops in Iraq being cut off from fuel and massacred by enraged Shiites. Shiite irregulars could easily engage in pipeline and fuel convoy sabotage of the sort deployed by the Sunni guerrillas in the north. Without fuel, US troops would be sitting ducks for rocket and mortar attacks that US air power could not hope completely to stop (as the experience of Israel with Hizbullah in Lebanon demonstrates) . A pan-Islamic alliance of furious Shiites and Sunni guerrillas might well be the result, spelling the decisive end of Americastan in Iraq. Shiite Iraqis are already at the boiling point over Israel's assault on their coreligionists in Lebanon. An attack on Iran could well push them over the edge. People like Cheney and Bush don't understand people's movements or how they can win. They don't understand the Islamic revolution in Iran of 1978-79. They don't understand that they are playing George III in the eyes of most Middle Eastern Muslims, and that lots of people want to play George Washington.

they don't understand... they don't want to understand... they think they already understand, but the truth is they don't understand shit...

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Does Bush heart Lieberman?

we already know that karl does...
Q Does the President support the Republican candidate for Senate in Connecticut?

MR. SNOW: The President supports the democratic process in the state of Connecticut, and wishes them a successful election in November.

Q Wait a minute. I realize he supports democracy, but I'm wondering, does he actually support his own party's candidate?

MR. SNOW: I know that's not news --

Q Why aren't you committing -- why wouldn't the President commit support for the Republican candidate in that --

MR. SNOW: I don't know. Why do you ask? Is there something about the candidate that I should know about that would lead to judgments?

Q I'm just asking you --

MR. SNOW: No, that's just a --

Q -- it seems like a very natural thing, why wouldn't he support a member of his own party? Is it because he's well behind in the polls? Is it because the President likes Joe Lieberman? What's -- why not?

MR. SNOW: There may be -- there are a whole host of reasons the President -- I'm just not going to play.

Q It's not really a game --

MR. SNOW: It's not a game. It's not a game, but I'll -- okay, I'll tell you what. I'll refer you to the political office to give you the full judgments on that. I think you know the situation in Connecticut.

is it in the realm of possibility that things could get any more bizarre...? oh, gosh... never mind... i already know the answer to that...

(thanks to tpm cafe....)

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Oh, c'mon... Why does the media consistently parrot WH spin...?

President George W. Bush faced major security challenges on three fronts on Sunday as he prepared to return to Washington after a 10-day working vacation at his ranch.

gimme a break... this is just a cut and paste right out of a wh press release... bush wouldn't recognize hard work if it bit him in the ass... they're just keeping up appearances... the "work" he could and should have been doing - one, showing a little leadership in the face of a "terrorist" threat and, two, leading the diplomatic effort to bring a cease-fire to lebanon - didn't even figure in his brush-clearing agenda...

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"Wake up, folks, and recognize how stupid and wimpish you look."

william greider gets it exactly right...
An evil symbiosis does exist between Muslim terrorists and American politicians, but it is not the one Republicans describe. The jihadists need George W. Bush to sustain their cause. His bloody crusade in the Middle East bolsters their accusation that America is out to destroy Islam. The president has unwittingly made himself the lead recruiter of willing young martyrs.

More to the point, it is equally true that Bush desperately needs the terrorists. They are his last frail hope for political survival. They divert public attention, at least momentarily, from his disastrous war in Iraq and his shameful abuses of the Constitution. The "news" of terror -- whether real or fantasized -- reduces American politics to its most primitive impulses, the realm of fear-and-smear where George Bush is at his best.

So, once again in the run-up to a national election, we are visited with alarming news. A monstrous plot, red alert, high drama playing on all channels and extreme measures taken to tighten security.

The White House men wear grave faces, but they cannot hide their delight. It's another chance for Bush to protect us from those aliens with funny names, another opportunity to accuse Democrats of aiding and abetting the enemy.

This has worked twice before. It could work again this fall unless gullible Americans snap out of it. Wake up, folks, and recognize how stupid and wimpish you look.

we've been bamboozled by this bullshit for way, way too long... now, with bushco trying to federalize the national guard and monstrous plots afoot, all we need is a terrorist attack to see the declaration of martial law and the final consolidation of power this administration has sought and worked tirelessly for since the beginning... we better wise and wise up fast...

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Our executive branch - a clear and present danger

of COURSE the govs are opposing this...
The nation's governors, protesting what they call an unprecedented shift in authority from the states to the federal government, will urge Congress today to block legislation that would allow the president to take control of National Guard forces in the event of a natural disaster or a threat to homeland security.

In a sharply worded letter that will be transmitted to Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress this morning, the governors ask that a House-Senate conference committee remove a provision included in the House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act giving the president such authority.

not only is it unprecedented, not only does it give a dangerous amount of power to a president who has unconstitutionally amassed too much already, it would be setting the stage for bush's final big act, probably on the calendar either before the fall elections or before his presidential term expires - declaring martial law following another terrorist attack on u.s. soil... and, par for the course, it was drafted in secret and slipped in to a piece of currently pending legislation...
"This provision was drafted without consultation or input from governors and represents an unprecedented shift in authority from governors as commanders and chief of the Guard to the federal government," the governors state in the letter.

As of yesterday, 51 governors, including some from U.S. territories, had signed the letter, a sign of broad bipartisan support that underscores the depth of opposition among state executives to encroachments by Washington on their powers.

The governors discovered the provision two weeks ago, and the effort to have it removed from the defense bill began at last week's National Governors Association summer meeting in Charleston, S.C.

this kind of thing gives me the creeps... at least the governors recognize the threat... the ludicrous part is that the bush administration keeps telling us we should be afraid of the TERRORISTS... HA...!

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I wondered when THIS was going to happen

why didn't they have tsa employees doing this at all airports in the first place...? oh, crap... never mind... a lot of the airport security contractors are heavy repub contributors... silly me...
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Sunday that he intended to replace contractors who inspect passenger identification at airport checkpoints with staff members from the Transportation Security Administration, a move that would be one of the biggest expansions of the agency’s tasks since it was set up in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

of course, the contractor biggies receive nary a mention in the article...

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Civilian casualties FORCE U.S. diplomacy

i posted earlier on the recent wapo idiocy where they claimed bush was giving diplomacy a chance to work in lebanon... now, a headline and teaser in today's nyt attempts to inject a little truth into the discussion...
U.S. Shift Kicked Off Frantic Diplomacy at U.N.

By WARREN HOGE

As Lebanese civilian casualties mounted, the U.S. moved more urgently toward seeking an immediate political solution.

OH...! it was the CIVILIAN CASUALTIES and resulting global outrage that got them to try diplomacy... well then, that's a bit different, now ain't it...?

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

"It would be a cheap war with many benefits"

seymour hersh, the intrepid, never-say-die, investigative journalist for the new yorker, gives us the rest of the story that's been leaking out for the past couple of weeks...
Hersh describes the administration's initial reaction to the invasion [of Lebanon by Israel] as "strangely passive," with George W. Bush saying on July 16, "It’s a moment of clarification" and Condoleezza Rice stating two days later that a ceasefire should wait until "the conditions are conducive."

Hersh's intelligence and diplomatic sources tell him that the reason for this hands-off reaction was that George Bush and Dick Cheney already knew about Israeli plans for a bombing campaign against Hezbollah's underground missile complexes and were convinced that it could both increase Israel's security and serve as a prelude to a American pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear installations.

The White House also wanted Hezbollah stripped of the ability to retailiate against Israel in the wake of an American attack on Iran. As one U.S. government consultant told Hersh, "The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits. Why oppose it? We’ll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran."

a "cheap war..." precisely the cold, callous, heedlessness of the cost of human lives that we've come to expect from our government...

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Somebody else besides the WaPo is smoking that funny stuff

tony snow:
"I'm not aware that the president's ever tried to frighten anybody."

oferchrissakes... anybody who buys that sack of crap is a genuine p.t. barnum sucker...

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Bush has given diplomacy a chance to work...? What are they smoking...?

a wapo headline that totally contradicts the lead-in...
A Month of War

BY HOLDING firm on key points in United Nations negotiations, the Bush administration has given diplomacy at least a chance to work in Lebanon.

it almost makes it sounds like bushco has actually been working to make something positive happen... nothing could be further from the truth...

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Sunset, Provincia de la Pampa, 6:30 p.m., Saturday, August 12

the is my first post of the day... i just completed a 1675km drive from buenos aires to bariloche across the argentina provinces of buenos aires, la pampa, rio negro, and neuquen... argentina is a huge country, the distances are vast and empty, the sky is endless, and the vistas are stunning... this foto was taken last evening along ruta 5, provincia de la pampa (la pampa province highway 5), about 40km east of the city of santa rosa... (and, yes, as i've already confessed, i'm a sucker for sunset and sky pictures...)



bariloche has had a significant amount of snowfall over the past several weeks... however, the ambient temperature tends to hover just around and above freezing which means that they've also had a significant amount of rain... arriving this evening in a cold rain and stiff wind wasn't exactly the cheery welcome i would have wished for... at altitude, on the mountains surrounding the area, the snow is deep and the edges of all the crags are rounded in white... it's an amazingly beautiful part of the world... more photos soon when, hopefully, the sun decides to make a cameo appearance...

p.s. it's hard to see in the sized-down version above, but, if you look carefully at the extreme center right-hand portion of the photo, you can just barely see the silhouette of a windmill...

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