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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 11/26/2006 - 12/03/2006
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, December 02, 2006

What Webb REALLY did...

and about goddam time, too...
It’s justice long overdue for a president who has so abused the symbols of war to get his comeuppance from a battlefield hero who personifies real toughness as opposed to fake toughness. Bush struts around with this bullying frat-boy attitude, and he gets away with it because nobody stands up to him. Bush could have left Webb’s initial response stand, but no, he had to jab back—“That’s not what I asked you.” Webb is not one to be bullied. He knows what real toughness is, and it’s not lording it over people who are weaker than you, and if you’re president, everybody by definition is weaker.

let's hear it for somebody in a major elected office who, in remarkably restrained and civil fashion, says what needs to be said... let's hear it again for a columnist who isn't afraid to point it out...

(thanks to kos...)

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Ah, Rummy... Too little and too goddam late...

go take your place with colin powell as one of the most cravenly lying cabinet members the united states has ever seen...
Two days before he resigned as defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld submitted a classified memo to the White House that acknowledged that the Bush administration’s strategy in Iraq was not working and called for a major course correction.

“In my view it is time for a major adjustment,” wrote Mr. Rumsfeld, who has been a symbol of a dogged stay-the-course policy. “Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough.”

Nor did Mr. Rumsfeld seem confident that the administration would readily develop an effective alternative. To limit the political fallout from shifting course he suggested the administration consider a campaign to lower public expectations.

“Announce that whatever new approach the U.S. decides on, the U.S. is doing so on a trial basis,” he wrote. “This will give us the ability to readjust and move to another course, if necessary, and therefore not ‘lose.’ ”

“Recast the U.S. military mission and the U.S. goals (how we talk about them) — go minimalist,” he added. Mr. Rumsfeld’s memo suggests frustration with the pace of turning over responsibility to the Iraqi authorities; in fact, the memo calls for examination of ideas that roughly parallel troop withdrawal proposals presented by some of the White House’s sharpest Democratic critics.

don't tell me that stuff hasn't been percolating in your fevered brain for a long time... and don't tell me either that you were just being a loyal member of the team by not speaking out sooner... there's a special place in hell for people like you... and i'm sure you, robert mcnamara, and henry kissinger will have a grand old time jawing about the good old days while you're all stacking blistering hot rocks into neat piles...

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Iraq troops coming home...? I'll believe it when I see it, and not one second before...

to say that bush has "no choice but to capitulate" smacks to me of one of two things, either incredible naivete or pathological delusion... that said, i hope i'm wrong on both counts...
Robert Dreyfuss is an Alexandria, Va.-based writer specializing in politics and national security issues. He is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 2005), a contributing editor at The Nation, and a writer for Mother Jones, The American Prospect and Rolling Stone.

Stripped of its diplomatic weasel words, the ISG’s recommendations are a stunning blow to the administration of George W. Bush and everything it stands for. “We had to move the national debate from whether to stay the course to how do we start down the path out,” said one of the ISG’s commission members, according to The New York Times.

Faced with the ISG consensus, backed by a determined Democratic majority in Congress that was catapulted into power by an American electorate sick of the war, President Bush will have no choice but to capitulate. Early in 2007, American troops will start to come home.

granted, there may be other big, as-yet unknown, events in the cards that haven't played out yet, which could change things dramatically... however, given the state of play at this particular time, i just don't see it happening... bush is going to make it look like he's genuinely considering other options, he will make a grand show of diplomacy (like monday's meeting with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq), but i think that's all it is - show... there is absolutely nothing substantive that bush has changed in response to public or congressional pressure in six years... i repeat, nothing...

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Why, in god's name, are we still building nuclear weapons...?

knowing as much as we know about not only the staggering destructive capability of nuclear weapons but also the horrendous long-term effects, why are we still so intent on building and stockpiling them...? and don't gimme this crap about their "deterrent capability..." as we can plainly see, in today's world, a nuclear weapons stockpile only serves to motivate other nations to do the same thing...
The Nuclear Weapons Council, made up of senior Defense Department and National Nuclear Security Administration officials, said yesterday that they plan to continue developing a new nuclear weapons program even though recent studies suggested that existing stockpiles are in better condition than had been thought.

The announcement comes just two days after the release of studies by the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories showing that plutonium triggers in currently stockpiled weapons will remain reliable for 90 to 100 years.

A major reason for starting the new weapons program -- known as the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) -- was the belief that highly radioactive plutonium would degrade so much within 45 years that it could affect the reliability of the weapons in the current stockpile, many of which were built in the late 1960s.

the trident I, sub-launched missile, can carry 8 warheads, and the trident II can carry up to 14, but it only takes one single warhead to unleash the destructive force of hell...

what's wrong with this picture - besides everything...?

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Friday, December 01, 2006

If Cheney testifies in the Libby case, will it set a precedent?

look, i don't know squat about the law, so maybe someone better informed than i can comment on whether or not cheney agreeing to testify in the scooter libby case sets a precedent that might render moot a claim of executive privilege in response to subpoenas for congressional hearings... anybody...?
Vice President Dick Cheney is set to be a witness for the defense in the case against former chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, according to a report filed by the Associated Press and a statement obtained by RAW STORY.

"We're calling the vice president," the news agency quotes attorney Ted Wells as saying in court. Wells represents Libby, who is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.

"We have cooperated fully in this matter," a statement released by Cheney's spokeswoman read, "and will continue to do so. In fairness to the parties involved, and as we have stated previously, we are not going to comment further on a legal preceeding."

like i said in an earlier post, i would very much like to see cheney testify - to ANYTHING... however, the prospect of seeing the big dick verbally dismembered by fitz under cross-examination has me positively salivating...

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The Readers Digest Condensed Book version of the Iraq Study Group Report

just think how many smart people spent untold hours putting this together...
(1) Things in Iraq are disastrous and our current policy there is a total failure.
(2) Our troop presence is not improving the situation; things have gotten steadily worse.
(3) There may be goals that, if theoretically met, would improve things, but those goals can't and won't be met -- either because we lack the resources or because they are just not achievable.
(4) No matter what, we absolutely cannot begin withdrawing, and those who want to do so are radical and unserious.

< sigh >

(thanks to glenn greenwald via atrios...)

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Is this a "dirty bomb" trial run...?

just askin'...
A hotel in Southern England, which has been tested for the presence of radiation as part of the investigation into the possible poisoning of a Russian spy, is being evacuated, various news sources are reporting.

"Police and Health Protection Agency officers are at the Ashdown Park Hotel at Wych Cross, near Crowborough," The Argus reports.

Italian academic Mario Scaramella, a contact of Litvinenko who met the former KGB spy one month ago in a sushi bar and then later tested positive for radiation, was said to be a guest at the hotel.

Over a dozen sites in Britain have shown traces of radiation, since Litvinenko died Nov. 23 after being exposed to the deadly radioactive toxin polonium-210.

it seems to be getting bigger and nastier by the day, if not by the hour...

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Venezuela trades up

hugo's got a lot o'oil sittin' down there, and i think he caught george and dick licking their chops when they thought he wasn't looking, so he figured he might oughta get ready...
Russia signed $1-billion contracts on supplies of 24 Su-30MK2 Flanker fighters and 30 helicopters to Venezuela prior to this year's visit to Russia by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, triggering criticism from Washington, which regards the Venezuelan regime as a potential security threat in the region.

"The first Su-30MK2 fighters for the Venezuelan air force have been transported to Moscow by an An-124 Condor transport plane, and later they will be shipped to Venezuela," the official said, adding that two more fighters will be delivered to the Latin American country by the end of 2006.

Russian-made fighters will substitute American F-16 and French Mirage fighters currently deployed by the Venezuelan air force.

hey... nothing like fostering competition in the global weapons business...

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World Aids Day

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Using the internet at work - what your employer can find out, now, so can the government

note: this isn't about terrorism, this is about ANY federal litigation proceeding...
U.S. companies will need to keep track of all the e-mails, instant messages and other electronic documents generated by their employees thanks to new federal rules that go into effect Friday, legal experts say.

The rules, approved by the Supreme Court in April, require companies and other entities involved in federal litigation to produce "electronically stored information" as part of the discovery process, when evidence is shared by both sides before a trial.

so, add that to the already-extensive list of electronic communication and transaction information available to the government... yes, i know they "say" that such information would not be required to be produced unless federal litigation is involved, but there is absolutely no reason for me to believe that companies won't be pressured to share that information in much the same way the telcos are being pressured to share telephone calling records... the safest bet for all of us is to make the assumption that EVERY piece of personal or business communication and EVERY personal or business transaction conducted electronically by any means is available for government scrutiny at any time...

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Right here is the whole reason the U.S. is cozying up to India

because it keeps the flood of money pouring in to the military-industrial complex...

Boeing eyes $15 billion in Indian work: report

December 01, 2006 09:24 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Boeing Co. said it may bid for $15 billion of Indian military orders in the next decade, as it seeks to benefit from closer ties between the U.S. and India, a Bloomberg report said on Friday.

where would the u.s. be without the defense industry and the global arms trade...? more specifically, where would the super-rich and bushco cronies be...?

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A snapshot: the Economist eyes this week's news

i'm not a huge fan of the economist, although it's not a bad guide as to what the global elites are thinking... even so, you can be sure you won't see any of these teasers in the mainstream u.s. media...
The falling dollar

It's a symptom of the American economy's weakness, and is therefore likely to drop further

Bush in the Middle East

A weak Iraqi prime minister met a weakened American president

The pope in Turkey

Christianity's top man steps into a spiritual minefield

and, you can bet your sweet bippy* you won't see "weakened american president..."

* p.s. yes, i'm definitely dating myself... the phrase, "you bet your sweet bippy," was one of the popular catch phrases of the tv show, rowan and martin's laugh-in, whose last season was 1972-73...

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thinking about traveling abroad...? Fine... Thinking about coming back...? Read this...

given the amount of international travel i do, and given the fact that my laptop was seized coming through u.s. customs in june and not returned for three weeks, this hits home...
Without notifying the public, federal agents for the past four years have assigned millions of international travelers, including Americans, computer-generated scores rating the risk they pose of being terrorists or criminals.

The travelers are not allowed to see or directly challenge these risk assessments, which the government intends to keep on file for 40 years.

The scores are assigned to people entering and leaving the United States after computers assess their travel records, including where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor vehicle records, past one-way travel, seating preference and what kind of meal they ordered.

The program's existence was quietly disclosed earlier in November when the government put an announcement detailing the Automated Targeting System, or ATS, for the first time in the Federal Register, a fine-print compendium of federal rules. Privacy and civil liberties lawyers, congressional aides and even law enforcement officers said they thought this system had been applied only to cargo.

i've been through u.s. customs twice since june without incident, but, i can tell you, i approached both of them with no small degree of trepidation...

(thanks to john at americablog...)

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Is it Gates' coronation or his confirmation...? Robert Parry asks the right questions...

while the vast majority of the liberal blogosphere is still basking in the glow of the mid-term elections, our constitution continues to be undermined... robert parry details, yet again, all of the serious questions about gates' past that still remain unresolved, and wonders just how dangerous this man will be when handed the sweeping - and unconstitutional - powers of the military commissions act...
The questions about Gates’s integrity and independence stand out in even sharper relief now because of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. The new law empowers the Defense Secretary to create a parallel American legal system, existing outside the protections of the U.S. Constitution.

As Defense Secretary, Gates would handpick the military judges and set the rules for administering the system, which was established under a law passed by Congress in September and signed by President Bush on Oct. 17. The law allows the jailing of both “unlawful enemy combatants” and “any person” who allegedly helps them.

While the new law explicitly strips non-U.S. citizens of the habeas corpus right to a fair and speedy trial, the law implicitly does the same to U.S. citizens in a section that covers “any person” who “aids, abets, counsels, commands or procures” actions by “unlawful enemy combatants.”

Anyone who is thrust into this parallel legal system is barred from filing any motions “whatsoever” with a civilian court, presumably preventing assertion by citizens and non-citizens alike of habeas corpus or other constitutional rights. [See’s “Who Is ‘Any Person’ in Tribunal Law.”]

Given the sweeping powers that Gates would inherent as Defense Secretary, the Senate Armed Services Committee might want to take a little more time before it rushes through his confirmation.

to all appearances, bushco is tottering around like a drunken prizefighter about to take a fall... we can only hope so... every minute that bush, cheney, rove, addington, and gonzales remain in their seats of power is one more minute that the foundations of our country are in danger... and, if gates is confirmed, we will be no better off than if rumsfeld had remained...

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More amens, more hallelujahs - this time to Dan Froomkin

he doesn't mention olbermann but he should have...
What is it about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert that makes them so refreshing and attractive to a wide variety of viewers (including those so-important younger ones)? I would argue that, more than anything else, it is that they enthusiastically call bullshit.

Calling bullshit, of course, used to be central to journalism as well as to comedy. And we happen to be in a period in our history in which the substance in question is running particularly deep. The relentless spinning is enough to make anyone dizzy, and some of our most important political battles are about competing views of reality more than they are about policy choices. Calling bullshit has never been more vital to our democracy.


If mainstream-media political journalists don’t start calling bullshit more often, then we do risk losing our primacy — if not to the comedians then to the bloggers.

But here’s the good news for you newsroom managers wringing your hands over new technologies and the loss of younger audiences: Because the Internet so values calling bullshit, you are sitting on an as-yet largely untapped gold mine. I still believe that no one is fundamentally more capable of first-rate bullshit-calling than a well-informed beat reporter - whatever their beat. We just need to get the editors, or the corporate culture, or the self-censorship – or whatever it is – out of the way.

i can't think of a thing to add...

(thanks to atrios...)

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Global blogging - it seems we're causing trouble everythere...

without a doubt, just as the netroots is altering the political and establishment landscape in the u.s., the same thing is happening everywhere... this can only be good news... at least we have the opportunity to find the truth out for ourselves rather than trying to figure it out through the thick haze of propaganda...
Authoritarian states like China, Iran and Egypt are having trouble dealing with the burgeoning number of critical online diaries. These blogs, which multiply by the second, expose news about incidents that many regimes would prefer to keep hushed up. In many countries, blogs are giving people their first real taste of democracy.


In essence, says Dutch Internet theorist Geert Lovink, blogs are simply "relatively frequent and chronologically ordered public expressions of personal thoughts that include links to other Web sites." But in some parts of the world they serve a loftier and sometimes emancipating purpose. In societies where official censorship is rampant and freedom of speech often curbed, they transport forbidden opinions and knowledge considered taboo to people who wouldn't otherwise get access to such information. Indeed, by connecting and encouraging individual dissidents, they also become a tool of revolution.

It is this power of information that has made bloggers as feared as they are vulnerable in many countries.

Blogs are generally seen as a part of the "vague media." Since their inception in the mid-1990s, they have multiplied exponentially. Nowadays a new Internet diary is launched every second, and the number of blogs doubles every five months. Forty-one percent are in Japanese, 28 percent in English and 14 percent in Chinese. The German contribution to a many-faceted "blogosphere" uninhibited by convention lies at a mere 1 percent, leading the German blogger community to ironically and self-desparagingly refer to itself as a kind of blogging backwater.

i never in my wildest dreams would have guessed that japan accounts for 41% of the world's blogs... the doubling every 5 months is pretty staggering as well...
Many bloggers see the Internet as the first true democratic platform, one that enables every individual to exert far more influence than by simply checking a box on an election ballot. All it takes is a computer for any thought, from mundane musings to critical ideas, to be replicated and to garner support, all at little or no cost to the blogger.

my fear, however, is that governments everywhere, not just in the well-known repressive countries, are all too aware of this emerging netroots power and are busily crafting ways to put a stranglehold on it... case in point: egypt...
The Egyptian Interior Ministry continues to deny the excesses to this day, calling the bloggers liars. Cairo's high court for administrative matters bolstered the government's position when it recently made it legal to censor Web sites.

While the Egyptian authorities have only 3,000 critical bloggers to contend with, the roughly 70,000 blogs appearing in Iran in the national language, Farsi, as well as English, represent a far greater potential for subversion.

ah, that lovely word, "subversion..." dontcha hate to think that very word is being used in the united states right now, and that our right to free speech is being questioned by the likes of newt gingrich...?

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Go read Sirota

Sociopaths Have Taken Over the Op-Ed Pages

you won't be sorry...

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No Condi for Prez...? Awwww... What a shame...

look out... here comes the rudy bandwagon...
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has insisted she does not plan to seek the US presidency in 2008, while hailing women's growing role in world politics, in an interview with French television.

"I'm very glad that women are running, and women are winning in many places," Rice told TF1 television late Wednesday. "I was at the inauguration of President Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and for President Bachelet in Chile."

"But I won't be one of them," she told the channel from the NATO summit in the Latvian capital Riga, adding that she was "an academic at heart."

i would like nothing better than to see a woman or an afro-american or both as president... that said, spare me from condi, and, almost as bad, hillary... too bad molly ivins is suffering from cancer... now, THERE'S a woman i could get behind...

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Independent Congressional inquiry...? Yes, indeed...!


the teaser...

A Crack in the Stone Wall

The White House will give the Justice Department inspectors
the required security clearance to review the
administration's domestic wiretapping program, but Congress
should also mount its own independent inquiry.

yep, yep, yep...
It was one of the more outrageous moments in the story of the Bush administration’s illegal domestic wiretapping. Almost a year ago, Congressional Democrats called for a review of the Justice Department’s role in the program. But the department investigators assigned to do the job were unable to proceed because the White House, at President Bush’s personal direction, refused to give them the necessary security clearance.

Now the president, for reasons we can’t help thinking might have something to do with this month’s elections, has changed his mind. The White House will give Justice Department inspectors the required clearance, and a review will go forward.

That’s all to the good, as long as the investigation is not intended to pre-empt any efforts by the new Democratic majority to conduct its own Congressional review of the wiretap program. The Justice Department inquiry will hardly do the full job.

"one of the more outrageous moments..." get out a pen... do you have lots of paper...? how much time do you have...? start writing...

"intended to pre-empt...?" bushco...? subterfuge...? perish the thought...

Congress should not be satisfied with Mr. Fine’s very limited investigation. It should mount its own independent inquiry into how the war on terror, and American civil liberties, are being affected by an eavesdropping program about which we have been told so little.

give me an amen... give me a hallelujah...

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Electronic voting machines to be decertified...?

i hope so...
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is recommending that the 2007 version of the Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines (VVSG) decertify direct record electronic (DRE) machines.

DREs are currently used by more than 30 percent of jurisdictions across the U.S. and are the exclusive voting technology in Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland and South Carolina.

According to an NIST paper to be discussed at a meeting of election regulators at NIST headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md., on Dec. 4 and 5, DRE vote totals cannot be audited because the machines are not software independent.

In other words, there is no means of verifying vote tallies other than by relying on the software that tabulated the results to begin with.

The machines currently in use are "more vulnerable to undetected programming errors or malicious code," according to the paper.

The NIST paper also noted that, "potentially, a single programmer could 'rig' a major election."

this would be very good news, and about damn time...

(thanks to the brad blog via raw story...)

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10,000 EPA Scientists petition Congress on global warming

oh, we got trouble... yessir, we got trouble... we got trouble, right here in river city...
"We are writing to protest the lack of progress in addressing global warming," says a letter affixed to the petition.

It goes on to point out that, "the federal government is using primarily voluntary and incentive-based programs to reduce the bulk of emissions," in the United States, and that the EPA "could do more" to stem the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

According to a summary released in conjunction with the petition, the EPA labor union coalition represents over 10,000 U.S. EPA environmental scientists and other experts.

and these folks ain't the screenwriters for happy feet, needless to say... (see previous post...)

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CIA secret flights - 11 EU nations "faked it"

looks like the u.s. isn't the only country with a policy of lying...
The European Parliament has issued a report into CIA secret flights and prisons in the European Union. It points the finger at 11 EU states, saying they knew all about the extraordinary renditions program.

When the existence of secret CIA flights ferrying terror suspects through Europe to third countries for interrogation -- so-called "extraordinary renditions" --of terror suspects hit the headlines last year, Europeans were appalled. A number of European governments were likewise quick to voice their shock at such behavior.

Turns out, they faked it. A June report by the Council of Europe outlined the collusion of many EU states with the CIA's activities. And now, the European Parliament has issued its own draft report into the matter. It accuses 11 EU countries of having turned a blind eye to the questionable practices.

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Forget the oil, the UN should take over in Iraq

here's a perspective i will bet doesn't make it into u.s. media...

(Yasar Qatarneh, director of the Regional Center on Conflict Prevention in Amman, Jordan, talks to Spiegel Online...)
After taking over both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Democrats have publicly discussed reinstituting an oversight committee and starting investigations into defense spending. They have also hinted at investigations into the Bush Administration's conduct of the war. All of this will make it hard to sustain a "stay the course" policy in Iraq. Against this background, I believe that Iraq is a case for the United Nations, with full and unrestricted backing from the European Union. The UN has to take over the country. Such a huge undertaking would involve giving Iraq a similar status to Kosovo. Iraq's sovereignty would have to be put temporarily into the hands of the international community.

so, how does qatarneh see the mess in iraq...?
The real reason for the violence is that the Bush Administration never defined a realistic and achievable set of military goals in the Middle East in general or in Iraq in particular. Its original political goal -- that of establishing a unified, pro-American Iraq that would sign favorable oil contracts with the US, would ally with Israel, and would form a springboard for further US pressure on Iran and Syria -- proved to be completely unrealistic. The inability of the neoconservatives in Washington to let go of those objectives is the biggest problem we have in Iraq and the Middle East. That's where the violence comes from. The imperial ambitions of the current administration have to come to an end.

why is it that those outside of the u.s. can see things so clearly while we sit here sinking in media muddle and government spin...?

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PK puts its cards on the table

a most interesting development...
Senior Pakistani officials are urging Nato countries to accept the Taliban and work towards a new coalition government in Kabul that might exclude the Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

Pakistan's foreign minister, Khurshid Kasuri, has said in private briefings to foreign ministers of some Nato member states that the Taliban are winning the war in Afghanistan and Nato is bound to fail. He has advised against sending more troops.

Western ministers have been stunned. "Kasuri is basically asking Nato to surrender and to negotiate with the Taliban," said one Western official who met the minister recently.

let's see how much attention traditional u.s. media give to THIS eye-opening proposal by our great and good ally in the gwot...

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Terminate the Authorization for Use of Military Force

this is the best idea i've seen come along in quite a while... here is something the congress can actually DO, short of impeachment, to stop bushco's criminal activities...
Tell Our Congress To Rescind Bush's War Starting Powers

The history of the last four years has proven that the Bush administration cooked intelligence and lied to obtain the original Authorization for Use of Military Force ("AUMF"), which was then immediately abused to launch an unprovoked and unwarranted invasion and indefinite occupation of Iraq. Yet, even as the strategic disaster in Iraq lurches further out of control day by day, the Bush administration is still talking about even more irrational plans to light a bigger powder keg in Iran. As reported by Seymour Hersh, Cheney arrogantly stated just before the elections that even were the Democrats to take back the Congress they would find some way around any legislative restrictions to pursue their insanity option in Iran.

Well we DID take back Congress. And the first thing Congress must do to reassert adult control over the petulant White House is to cancel the 2001 AUMF. Not only was it used to justify preemptive imperialism in Iraq, it has been trotted out incessantly since to excuse the illegal domestic wiretaps, the program of torture and secret detentions in violation of the Geneva convention, and every other manner of defiance of Congress and the federal courts since. It was NOT an authorization to unilaterally violate the Constitution, but it has been taken as such, and accordingly it MUST go.

A simple majority of Congress is all that is required to restore the appropriate and just balance of powers, to at least require the executive to have the express consent of Congress before any ill-advised new military misadventure. Only withdrawing the AUMF can send a message that foreign policy run amok will no longer be the order of the day.

imho, THIS ought to be the top item on the dems list...

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Masri's case - worth following

this case has particular interest for me since i was in in macedonia immediately prior to and immediately after the time this occurred...
Khaled al-Masri was supposed to have been disappeared by black-hooded CIA paramilitaries in the dead of night. One minute he was riding a bus in Macedonia, the next -- poof -- gone. Grabbed by Macedonian agents, handed off to junior CIA operatives in Skopje and then secretly flown to a prison in Afghanistan that didn't officially exist, to be interrogated with rough measures that weren't officially on the books.


[The U.S. government argues], citing the state-secrets privilege, that to proceed with the case would damage national security and that this damage outweighs any legal rights Masri may have.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District agreed with the government in May.

If they have their way this time, the pale Justice Department lawyers swaying back in their chairs before the three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit would prohibit any judge and any jury anywhere from ever hearing the arguments in Masri's six legal pleadings and 40 exhibits, more than 1,000 pages in all. Much of the evidence was unearthed by German prosecutors and European Parliament investigators.

does the government's case hold water...?
Is a state secret still a secret if everyone knows it? That's what the court case boils down to at this point.

Masri's lawyers say no.

They point to President Bush's Sept. 6, 2006, disclosure that the CIA ran secret prisons abroad and conducted covert rendition flights as part of its counterterrorism campaign.

They point to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's statement that if there were injustices in these programs, they can be remedied in U.S. courts.

They point to the testimony of Schily before the German Parliament just last week in which he said that then-U.S. Ambassador Daniel R. Coats had told him that the CIA had mistakenly imprisoned Masri and offered an apology -- not to Masri, but to the German government. They point to reams and reams of official German evidence.

and, of course, the justice department disagrees...
The CIA and Justice Department lawyers strongly disagree. They argue that allowing a case to go forward could lead to a "cascading" of disclosures, many unforeseen, and that foreign governments would refuse to work in secret with the CIA for fear they could end up in court.

stay tuned...

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principled leadership... this is encouraging...
Hastings, Harman Rejected for Chairmanship

House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has decided against naming either Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House intelligence committee, or Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (Fla.), the panel's No. 2 Democrat, to chair the pivotal committee next year.

with hastings' ethics cloud and harman's bush toadying, neither one was an acceptable choice... good for nancy... it's about time someone took a serious stand against people who simply don't cut it...

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No, thanks... I'll pass...

newsmax wants your opinion of rudy... by all means, let 'em know...

< gag, choke >

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bush's "blacklists" squelched

do ya suppose the recent elections provided some much needed support to the other two marginalized branches of government...?
A federal judge struck down President Bush's authority to designate groups as terrorists, saying his post-Sept. 11 executive order was unconstitutionally vague, according to a ruling released Tuesday.

The Humanitarian Law Project had challenged Bush's order, which blocked all the assets of groups or individuals he named as "specially designated global terrorists" after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"This law gave the president unfettered authority to create blacklists," said David Cole, a lawyer for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Constitutional Rights that represented the group. "It was reminiscent of the McCarthy era."

well, of course they did... no one who has conscious brain cells operating can fail to see how the mid-term elections have emboldened both congress and the courts... both institutions have been under relentless attack for almost six years... i welcome any and all forward movement by both in facing down the flagrant constitutional violations that have become part and parcel of the bush administration... keep it up, cuz it's about to get a lot worse...

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I don't often blog about bloggers

but i'm going to make an exception with a front-page post by markos today...
Remember all the Chicken Littles that said Rove would steal the election? Gilliard gives them a smackdown. Same goes for everyone who was SOOOO convinced Bush would bomb Iran before the election.

i resent that... deeply resent it... i, for one, am damn sick and tired of all the noises and implications that, now that the dems have won congress, we've somehow gained a reprieve, and that those who have been continuing to sound the alarms are "chicken littles..."

i think there was every effort made to steal the elections, and it would have succeeded had it not been for the unexpectedly large turnout of disillusioned voters... yes, many of those voters turned out BECAUSE of dogged work by dems on the ground all over the country, and that's very good news indeed... BUT, goddamit, rove is STILL a very dangerous man...

i also think that bush would have absolutely bombed iran some time ago had it not been for the dogged work of bloggers and other outraged citizens who were not going to be duped again like we were on iraq... even now, bush would order bombers into iran in a heartbeat if he thought there was any way he could pull it off without the joint chiefs of staff collectively tendering their resignations... in fact, the joint chiefs are the principal reason rumsfeld is gone...

when i read someone i respect as much as i do glenn greenwald, who says the kind of things that he is saying (see previous post), i know i am not crazy... we don't have our country back, markos moulitsas zuniga... not yet... not as long as bush is president and cheney is vice president... not as long as karl rove and david addington are still in the white house...

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Arrogant...? Condescending...? Rude...? Must be Bush...

more proof (as if we needed any)...
At a White House private dinner just after the election featuring "newly elected lawmakers," Emily Heil writes that Bush asked Webb "how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing." Webb replied to the President that he "really wanted to see his son brought back home," according to a person who was present at the dinner.

"I didn't ask you that, I asked how he's doing," Bush replied, according to The Hill's source.

"Webb confessed that he was so angered by this that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief, reported the source, but of course didn't," writes Heil.

i want to take a poke at the guy just READING about it...

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The endless war and the totalitarian president

i am glad glenn greenwald is out there, pounding on this... i feel exactly the same way and i will continue to pound on it myself because i believe there is nothing more important and potentially destructive to our country than the on-going constitutional crisis...
Democrats replaced Republicans in Congress as a result of the midterm election but nobody has replaced Dick Cheney and George Bush. And they see Congress as irrelevant.

and "irrelevant" would mean precisely what...?
[T]here is simply no question -- none -- that the Bush administration believes it has the power to initiate wars against other countries, such as Iran or Syria or anyone else, without having even a pretense of Congressional approval.

keep reading... it ain't pretty...
There are a lot of Democrats who, understandably enough, seem all excited about the great new policies and legislation they think they can enact now. And many people are equally excited (at least) about the Congressional investigations that are going to commence. But it is vital to keep at the forefront of our political discussions the fact that the Bush administration is composed of individuals who do not recognize the rule of law or the authority of Congress to do much of anything, and -- unless they are absolutely forced to do so, and it's unclear what that might include -- they are not going to comply with these things we used to call "laws" or with Congressional subpoenas and other mandates because they believe they do not have to. And they have said so expressly, time and again.

The rule of law is being made a mockery of every day by an administration that continues to eavesdrop on us without warrants even though there is still a law in place that makes doing that a felony punishable by five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The Yoo Theory of Presidential Omnipotence is still the official and embraced position of the executive branch. Neither it nor its adherents have gone anywhere.

And we still don't know whether the last two years of this administration will be driven by the broken, humbled, tired and drained President whom we saw the day after the elections, or by a more-than-ever embittered and contemptuous Cheney-led administration bent on more war-making and lawlessness. I think most people assume, quite correctly, that it will be the latter.

It is good to hear Democrats talking about their intentions to investigate and to exercise oversight and impose limits on the administration's behavior, but it is vital that they recognize that doing that is not going to happen easily. It will require some extremely contentious confrontations and very difficult fights to enforce the rule of law.

remember, we are still in a state of declared war, which, according to bush and his minions, means that, as a wartime commander-in-chief, the president can do whatever he wants in the name of national security without anyone being able to tell him differently... we are in deep waters, and, i agree with greenwald, the "more-than-ever embittered and contemptuous Cheney-led administration" will continue on its course, full speed ahead...

(thanks to lukery at wot is it good 4...)

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Newt: any of various small salamanders that are usually semiaquatic as adults



why don't we just scrap the bill of rights in toto and save ourselves a lot of trouble and squabbling down the road...?
A former Republican speaker of the house mulling a possible presidential run has said that America may need to reexamine freedom of speech in order to prevent future terrorist attacks.

According to a New England newspaper, Newt Gingrich "spoke to about 400 state and local power brokers last night at the annual Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment award dinner, which fetes people and organizations that stand up for freedom of speech."

Gingrich said that a "different set of rules" should be considered to reduce the ability of terrorists to use the Internet and abuse free speech to get out their message.

suggestion for newt: slither on back to wherever it was you came from...

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Bush can face anything but reality

correct me if i'm wrong, but i don't believe al qaeda had a presence in iraq prior to march 2003...
President Bush said on Tuesday the hand of al Qaeda lay behind the sectarian violence racking Iraq, and deflected talk of "civil war".

i don't believe hezbollah or lebanon had much of an interest in iraq prior to then either...
A senior American intelligence official said Monday that the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah had been training members of the Mahdi Army, the Iraqi Shiite militia led by Moktada al-Sadr.

The official said that 1,000 to 2,000 fighters from the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias had been trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon. A small number of Hezbollah operatives have also visited Iraq to help with training, the official said.

Iran has facilitated the link between Hezbollah and the Shiite militias in Iraq, the official said. Syrian officials have also cooperated, though there is debate about whether it has the blessing of the senior leaders in Syria.

but will we TALK to iran and syria...? no-o-o-oooo... of course not... let's just let the bodies stack up...
Mr. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are traveling to Jordan this week for talks that are to include Iraq’s prime minister and a number of Sunni Arab leaders but exclude the Iranians and Syrians, despite the influence they wield in Iraq and Lebanon.

the iraq study group has recommended talking with iran and syria, but does that cut any ice with george...? hell, no...

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Monday, November 27, 2006

The DOJ IG opens an NSA spying investigation

let's see how far THIS gets...
The Justice Department's internal watchdog said Monday it has opened an investigation into the agency's use of information gathered in the government's warrantless surveillance program.

In a letter to House Judiciary Committee leaders and obtained by The Associated Press, Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said his investigators would focus on the Justice Department's role in carrying out the spying program run by the National Security Agency.

Fine wrote that he wants to ensure that prosecutors and agents are following laws governing the handling of information NSA gathers when spying on suspected terrorists in the United States.

"After conducting initial inquiries into the program, we have decided to open a program review that will examine the department's controls and use of information related to the program," Fine wrote in the four-paragraph letter.

remember the last ill-fated attempt...?
Earlier this year, Fine's office said it did not have jurisdiction to open an investigation into the legality of the administration's domestic eavesdropping program. At the time, Fine's office referred calls for an inquiry to the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, which reviews allegations of misconduct involving employees' actions when providing legal advice.

The Office of Professional Responsibility was denied extra security clearances to conduct an investigation that would include looking at some classified documents and other information that the Justice Department already possesses.

it behooves all of us to pay close attention to this... for one thing, it's extremely interesting that, following the mid-term elections, fine's office NOW thinks it's ok to open an investigation... for another thing, i am curious as to why fine thinks HIS office will get the appropriate security clearances when the other office didn't (unless, of course, the people in fine's office already HAVE them)...

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Civil war in Iraq - trying to find the right name for an impossible nightmare

"'It's stunning; it should have been called a civil war a long time ago, but now I don't see how people can avoid calling it a civil war,' said Nicholas Sambanis, a political scientist at Yale who co-edited 'Understanding Civil War: Evidence and Analysis,' published by the World Bank in 2005. 'The level of violence is so extreme that it far surpasses most civil wars since 1945.' . . .

"On Friday, Scott Stanzel, a White House spokesman, insisted that the Iraq conflict was not civil war, noting that Iraq's top leaders had agreed with that assessment. Last month, Tony Snow, the chief spokesman for President Bush, acknowledged that there were many groups trying to undermine the government, but said that there was no civil war because 'it's not clear that they are operating as a unified force. You don't have a clearly identifiable leader.'"

Harvard professor Monica Toft wrote on in July that there are six criteria for considering a conflict a civil war -- and that Iraq had met all six since early 2004.

personally, i find the discussion about civil war or no civil war akin to the discussions i was party to as a small child attending catholic catechism classes, where we would actually spend time debating questions like, "how many angels can fit on the end of a pin..." there are a lot of people dying, disappearing, being horribly wounded, losing loved ones, enduring unimaginable pain... call it a civil war... call it a banana... it's hell... it's wrong... it shouldn't be happening... and it's our fault...

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Zelikow bails on Condi (and would somebody please drive a stake through Bolton's heart?)

have you noticed how they always cite family when they jump ship or involuntarily hand in their resignations...?
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's most senior adviser on Iraq is leaving the State Department to return to his teaching job.

Philip D. Zelikow is the best-known member of Rice's academic brain trust at the State Department, and the author of sometimes contrarian appraisals of the Iraq conflict and reconstruction effort. He holds the title counselor, a sort of adviser without portfolio.

In a resignation letter dated Monday, Zelikow said he will return to teaching at the University of Virginia in January. He cited a "long-standing debt to my family" and "truly riveting obligation to college bursars," for his children's tuition.

Zelikow was among the first people Rice hired after she took over as secretary of state in 2005. She also brought in other fellow academics to join a team of Republican political strategists to be her top advisers. His first assignment was a scouting trip to Iraq.

When Zelikow returned, according to the Bob Woodward book "State of Denial," he wrote a secret memo characterizing Iraq as "a failed state" two years after the U.S.-led invasion. In September 2005, he wrote a memo estimating a 70 percent chance of success in achieving a stable, democratic Iraq, and what he called a "significant risk" of "catastrophic failure," the book said.

buried at the bottom of the story is this interesting little nugget...
His name has been mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed John Bolton as U.N. ambassador, but a U.S. official said that is not likely. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the White House hopes the Senate will confirm Bolton, whose recess appointment runs out in January.

wake up call to george...


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Do you want to wallow in cynicism, or do you want to do every damn thing you can to force Congress to solve the problem? Take action. Join the fight. If you do, then when your grandkids ask you "What did you do during the great war for impeachment?" you won't have to tell them: "Well, I was shoveling shit at Nancy Pelosi."

a do-it-yourself kit for impeachment...

Impeach For Peace

and a petition to sign...

Impeachment for Change

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When faced with the full panoply of human existence, intolerance withers

markos nails it...
I'd love to see someone research the correlation between density and partisanship, which I believe may be stronger than other demographic factors. As people are forced to live in closer proximity to each other, the feeling of community and shared purpose appears to drive people to the left, compared to the "I've got mine" ethos of gated communities and fenced-off megahouses. If one is around grandmothers on social security, gay couples, sick people, unemployed people, and other people unlike them, then their appreciation for the government's role in leveling the playing field and social tolerance increases.

one of my biggest beefs is how the u.s. segregates itself according to income, race, and age... we see these ghettoes of old people, rich people, poor people, blacks, hispanics, and, yes, gays... one of the reasons i enjoy being outside the u.s. as much as i do is that tendency is much less evident in many other countries...

i think markos is absolutely right in his observation... it's very hard to maintain bigotry and intolerance when the full panoply of human existence surrounds you on a daily basis...

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More bullshit on Social Security

the wapo continues to shovel...
If the Democrats engage on Social Security, they may find themselves discussing some form of personal retirement accounts. This should not be confused with "privatization": Personal accounts that are added to the Social Security system are different from ones that are funded with money carved out from existing payroll revenue. Creating such add-on accounts could boost national savings, allow workers to build nest eggs and cushion them from the benefit cuts that are inevitably part of a reform. As they respond to the administration's overtures, Democrats should not foreclose this option.

i will let atrios speak for me...
Look, people who advocate adding "personal accounts" to Social Security are just stupid people. Really, just morons. There's no reason to do it. There's no reason to take any part of Social Security contributions and put them in a little fund account with my name on it. If you think some Social Security contributions should be invested in the stock market (I don't) to raise returns overall, then it can be stuck into an index fund or managed by a fund manager or whatever. I still think that's a bad idea, but there's a rationale for it. There's no rationale for dividing that up into millions of individual accounts. There's no rationale for letting individuals "control their own money" by letting them choose across some finite number of managed funds. Social Security is a lovely program which works just fine and really needs no changes other than extraordinarily nonurgent tweaks to the tax formula at some point. And, no, there's no need for modest benefit cuts. There's no need for means testing it. There's no need for any of these things The Serious People like Bob Kerrey want to do. There's no need to strike a "grand bargain" which combines some stupid things with some smart things because there's no need to do so. Leave it alone.

There is no problem with the Social Security system. People who continue to argue that there is - and that the problem can be "solved" with the magic private accounts fairy - either have broken brains or are attempting to push an agenda for ideological reasons or for personal enrichment for themselves and their kind.

note to wapo: fuhgeddaboudit...

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In signed memo, Rumsfeld authorized torture in 2002

The former US commander of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq said in an interview appearing yesterday that the outgoing US defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, authorized the mistreatment of detainees there.

when i read this story the other day, it clicked that i had a copy of the memo, written by the then-general counsel of the defense department, william haynes, to rumsfeld, asking for rumsfeld's authorization to use three categories of "counter-resistance interrogation techniques" at guantanamo... i've been hunting around in my files since then and finally found it...

(click document for full-size image)

i particularly like his hand-written note at the end...

However, I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours? D.R.

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Rove is an evil, lying, son-of-a-bitch

i still haven't picked my jaw up off the floor after reading this...
"Let's let the election go," White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove said in a recent interview. "Let's say, 'Okay, where are some places where we can work together?' "

rove has this talent for saying the most outrageous things, things that are so staggeringly at odds with his own behavior, they literally take my breath away... that such a despicable man, who has done nothing but spread darkness throughout the political landscape, can even utter the words "work together," is completely beyond my capacity to comprehend...

even though it was written as a spoof, the following, imho, has truth written all over it...

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

ISG - no military withdrawal, let's TALK instead...!

sure, let's talk with syria and iran NOW, AFTER things have gone completely to hell in iraq... let's eat cold crow and push a diplomatic initiative with two countries that we have consistently and routinely demonized, as recently as two days ago...
A draft report on strategies for Iraq, which will be debated here by a bipartisan commission beginning Monday, urges an aggressive regional diplomatic initiative that includes direct talks with Iran and Syria but sets no timetables for a military withdrawal, according to officials who have seen all or parts of the document.

un-friggingly-believable... by the time they finish having the discussion about how to arrange the chairs around the table, there'll be nothing left in iraq to worry about...

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V-e-r-r-r-r-rry interesting - "There is no sense of wanting to defend the Bush administration right now"

bush 41 and bush 43 may be obsessing over 43's "legacy" and may be even considering < gasp > collaborative dialogue and compromise in order to not have the ship completely capsize during the last two years of w's presidency, but - and it's a VERY BIG BUT - you can be sure, when it comes to questions of the power of the executive branch, cheney, addington, hadley, rove, and co. aren't going to budge... my feeling is that rumsfeld was merely the whole burnt offering that 43 was willing to sacrifice in order to keep rove and cheney around... it'll be interesting to see how the powerful bush family, led by 41, will move to neutralize rove and cheney if, in 41's view, that becomes necessary in order to preserve the family reputation...
"Senior Republican staff members in Congress have voiced the fear that Bush will now put his legacy over the party's immediate future, and take his cues from President Bill Clinton by "triangulating" when opportunity strikes -- that is, making deals with Democrats, over Republican objections, on immigration, health care or Social Security," Times reporter Jim Rutenberg writes.

"While the White House is trying to define their legacy, they'll try to triangulate us," said one senior Republican leadership aide who requested anonymity to speak candidly. "There is no sense of wanting to defend the Bush administration right now."

"Bush's rhetorical olive branch to Democrats has made conservatives nervous, prompting visions of a reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act that will increase spending or a new immigration system granting legal status, which many conservatives consider amnesty, to illegal immigrants," Rutenberg adds later in the piece. "One Democratic leadership aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bush was "most animated" during a meeting with the incoming Democratic House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, when the subject of immigration came up."

"Republicans close to the White House said Rove was already arguing that Bush should move to bolster his support with conservatives, who make up his base and will compose a greater proportion of the Republican congressional caucus after an election in which many moderate Republicans lost their seats, some to conservative Democrats," Rutenberg continues.

But there's a caveat, according to Rutenberg's Washington memo analysis: The White House will "dig in hard" when it comes to congressional efforts to probe Bush's national security programs. Vice President Dick Cheney has vowed to rebuild executive power, he notes, and is unlikely to cede ground over a single congressional election cycle.

that's pretty much what charlie savage was saying in the boston globe today, and i concur...

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Ecuador - another South American country makes a left turn

ya gotta love democracy...!
Ecuador's presidential candidate Rafael Correa has claimed victory in Sunday's run-off election.

Three exit polls and an unofficial quick count indicated Mr Correa had gained around 57% of the vote while Alvaro Noboa polled about 43%.

Mr Noboa has said he won the election and if necessary will ask for a recount after official results are announced.

International observers had urged both candidates to be cautious in claiming victory before results were official.

Ecuador has seen much political turmoil in recent years with seven presidents in the last decade.

The last three elected presidents were overthrown and only three since 1979 have succeeded in serving full terms.

ya also gotta love this...
Mr Correa is close to Venezuela's anti-American President Hugo Chavez and has called US President George W Bush a "dimwit".

there's a lot of folks who share that opinion, mr. correa...

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THIS is why the war won't end

this is why we can't let up for one minute on our efforts to get the bush administration out of the white house... unfortunately, i think there are very few people in positions of power, and certainly not in the public at large, who fully comprehend the degree of danger we are in from our own government... bushco has repeatedly shown complete disdain for the two other supposedly equal branches of government, and, now, even with a democratic congress, i see nothing changing...
In signing statements and legal memos, the administration, with Cheney and Addington as its driving force, has repeatedly used the war on terrorism to advance the idea that the president has vast "inherent" authority to bypass laws enacted by Congress. Even when Congress voted, a week after the 9/11 attacks, to authorize the use of military force against Al Qaeda, the administration quickly seized the moment to lay down its marker.

"[Congress cannot] place any limits on the president's determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response," the Justice Department asserted in a September 2001 memo solicited by the White House. "These decisions, under our Constitution, are for the president alone to make."

The following year, the administration drew up secret legal opinions informing military and CIA interrogators that the president has the power to authorize them to violate laws banning torture.

"In order to respect the president's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign against Al Qaeda and its allies, [the anti-torture law] must be construed as not applying to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his commander-in-chief authority," said an August 2002 memo, which was leaked to the media only after the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib came to light.

Then, in December 2005, The New York Times revealed that the administration was wiretapping Americans' international phone calls and e-mails without warrants, violating the 1978 surveillance law.

Three days later, Cheney sat down with reporters and laid out his belief "in a strong, robust executive authority." Bypassing the warrant law, he asserted, was "consistent with the constitutional authority of the president."

the dems can initiate all the investigations they want, they can issue all the subpoenas they want, they can ask for all the documents they want, they can scream, holler, and yell, but it isn't going to make any difference... as long as we continue in a state of endless war, as long as the aumf stands, as long as bush can claim the authority of a wartime commander-in-chief, as long as the unitary executive theory remains unchallenged, we will continue to see the bush administration moving ever more inexorably toward a totalitarian state...

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What MIGHT have been the circumstances surrounding the Litvinenko murder

larisa's been doing her homework...
Was former KGB agent murdered over false-flag terrorism within Russia?

Larisa Alexandrovna
Published: Sunday November 26, 2006

Were a Russian journalist and an ex-KGB officer murdered over an investigation of the Beslan terrorist attack?

here's a quote ya gotta love...
"They never thought anyone would identify the poison," said this source. "but the Brits were very good."

interesting reading and certainly within the bounds of possibility... but, of course, the u.s. would NEVER engage in such a dastardly deed.... n-o-o-o-o-oooo...

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Is John Bolton writing WaPo editorials these days?

sure as hell sounds like it...
[N]o attempt to reason with Mr. Assad and the Iranian mullahs will succeed unless they perceive that the United States and its allies wield sticks as well as carrots. As long as the Bush administration is unable to win U.N. Security Council approval for sanctions against Iran -- or impose them through an ad hoc coalition -- Tehran will have no incentive to make concessions. Mr. Assad will demand that the West concede him Lebanon and call off the murder investigations that would likely implicate him -- unless he worries that his failure to cooperate will result in fresh international sanctions against Syria.

Iran and Syria are ruthlessly waging war against Western interests in the Middle East. Offering to talk is only a small part of what it will take to stop them.

if you were to read just those two short paragraphs without any other context, you would be led to make the following assumptions...

  • the u.s. has been attempting to talk to both syria and iran without success
  • neither syria nor iran are receptive to reasoned discussion
  • force will be necessary to bring syria and iran in line
  • the u.n. security council is obstructing any progress with iran
  • syria is very likely responsible to the recent assassination in lebanon
and those are just the last two paragraphs... the rest of the op-ed is riddled with them as well... whether or not there is the slightest grain of truth in those assumptions is entirely beside the point... so, what IS the point...? simply this... without factual context or even any reference to it, a reader would doubtlessly walk away with certain pre-conceived notions, and, if it so happened that same reader stumbled across john bolton's latest screed, would think that bolton's brand of KITA diplomacy is entirely justified... case in point...
Lebanon's future is at stake in a battle between "democracy and terrorism" following the killing of Christian politician Pierre Gemayel, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on Saturday.


Bolton said it would be a "serious problem" if an investigation into Tuesday's assassination of Gemayel, a critic of Syria, found Damascus was involved.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton is seen in this October 16, 2006 file photo in New York. Lebanon's future is at stake in a battle between "democracy and terrorism" following the killing of Christian politician Pierre Gemayel, Bolton said on Saturday. "Then you have a further clear piece of evidence that Syria is not just a supporter of terrorism but is a state actor in a terrorist fashion," he said.

"The United States has to take that into account when it decides whether and to what extent to deal with a country like that," he said, adding that the issue was not whether the United States would talk to Syria.

"The issue is whether Syria is going to listen," he said.


Damascus had been heartened by mounting calls for U.S. President George W. Bush to talk to Syria and Iran, instead of punishing them, and to seek their help in stabilising Iraq.


[U.S. President George W. Bush] also stopped just short of accusing Damascus of killing the industry minister, but voiced support for the Lebanese people's "efforts to defend their democracy against attempts by Syria, Iran and allies to foment instability and violence".

i'm not going to break my arm patting bloggers (or myself) on the back, but the above is precisely the kind of context that's missing from our so-called "news..." imho, i find such a vacuum all the more sinister when it comes in the form of an op-ed...

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