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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 12/17/2006 - 12/24/2006
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Che Guevara hounded out of Target stores

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Target Corp said on Friday it had pulled a CD carrying case bearing Ernesto "Che" Guevara's image after an outcry by critics who label the Marxist revolutionary a murderer and totalitarian symbol.

Target had touted a music disc carrying case for Che admirers emblazoned with the Argentine-born guerrilla's iconic 1960 portrait by Alberto Diaz, or "Korda." A set of small earphones was superimposed on the image, suggesting he was tuned in to an iPod or other music player.

"It is never our intent to offend any of our guests through the merchandise we carry," Target said in a statement. "We have made the decision to remove this item from our shelves and we sincerely apologize for any discomfort this situation may have caused our guests."

Yes, the irony. A company who imports slave labor produced products from the world's leading Communist regime (China) censors a CD which only shows a photo of an already dead Communist. The critics who are offended by a symbol but are willing to buy products produced by the real thing offend me. Will target remove them from their stores to appease me? Hypocrites.

che is an iconic figure all over the world... no matter which country i happen to be in, che's visage wearing the trademark beret stares at me from t-shirts and storefronts everywhere... what's next...? banishing the movie, the motorcycle diaries from wal-mart and blockbuster...? ridiculousness run amok...

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The Guardian's Steve Bell, George Bush, and Iraq

it's been a LONG time since i've posted a steve bell cartoon...

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It's nice to know there's a government that cares, even if it isn't ours

i wouldn't rank the uk as among the world's most enlightened or liberated countries, but at least their government takes more than a passing interest in people's health without getting all caught up in their fundamentalist christian knickers...
Schoolgirls as young as 12 are to be vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease linked to cervical cancer, under controversial plans being drawn up by the Department of Health.

Millions of girls would be immunised at school against human papilloma virus (HPV) before they become sexually active. Research has shown the virus is one of the key causes of cervical cancer, which kills around 1,000 women a year.

is there opposition in the uk...? sure...
The move will be controversial with some parents, who fear the jabs will encourage unprotected sex or send confused messages about the right age for girls to lose their virginity. The new jab also adds to the long list of vaccines to which children's immune systems are subjected and which some parents worry put too high a burden on young bodies.

but, in the uk, at least for now, health, rather than ideology, is the priority, as opposed to what we've been experiencing in the u.s...
A new vaccine that protects against cervical cancer has set up a clash between health advocates who want to use the shots aggressively to prevent thousands of malignancies and social conservatives who say immunizing teenagers could encourage sexual activity.

Although the vaccine will not become available until next year at the earliest, activists on both sides have begun maneuvering to influence how widely the immunizations will be employed.

Groups working to reduce the toll of the cancer are eagerly awaiting the vaccine and want it to become part of the standard roster of shots that children, especially girls, receive just before puberty.

Because the vaccine protects against a sexually transmitted virus, many conservatives oppose making it mandatory, citing fears that it could send a subtle message condoning sexual activity before marriage. Several leading groups that promote abstinence are meeting this week to formulate official policies on the vaccine.

it's nice to know there's a government that cares, even if it isn't ours...

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"It is time to end this dialectic of death and offer a better way"

brent budowsky is calling for george to send poppy and the big dog on a listening tour of the middle east, and to accept that the american people drew a line in the sand this past november 7...
In December of 2006 the United States stands on the brink of a historic miscalculation that could translate a catastrophe in Iraq into a region-wide conflagration, even more deadly than the status quo.


We should be escalating the search for peace, not stirring the winds of war.


It is time to end this dialectic of death and offer a better way.


If the President announces what he appears to be poised to announce, which would be a new escalation in Iraqi without any credible policy for peace in the Middle East, or regional talks including Iraq and her neighbors, it would be a disaster for the United States and for both political parties.


It is Kafkaesque and Orwellian, as though the American election did not happen, as though the will of the voters does not matter, as though the commitments of candidates in both parties the day before the election mean nothing the day after the election.


This must not be a debate between one way of war versus another; between which terms of escalating bloodshed we will choose; or between a policy of no hope, versus a policy of timidity continuing the carnage.

The American people have just voted for a whole new and better way. The American people are right, and await a leader with the courage to lead.

thank god there are people out there who still haven't lost their minds... my question is, what is it going to take to change this disastrous course and return our country to some semblance of sanity...?

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Friday, December 22, 2006

"Terrorist Groups of Global Reach"→"Global War on Terror"→"Global War on Radicals and Extremists"

more reason, as if any were needed, why our president and his posse need to be expeditiously removed...
[T]he war against “terrorist groups of global reach,” which became the “global war on terrorism,” now has morphed into what might be called the “global war on radicals and extremists,” a dramatic escalation of the war’s ambitions with nary a comment from the U.S. news media.

So, under Bush’s new war framework, the enemy doesn’t necessarily have to commit or plot acts of international terrorism or even local acts of terrorism. It only matters that Bush judges the person to be a “radical” or an “extremist.”

While the word “terrorism” is open to abuse – under the old adage “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” – the definition of “radical” or “extremist” is even looser. It all depends on your point of view.

and this should concern us because...?
Bush’s decision to set wider parameters for this global war also represents a grave threat to the American Republic because Bush has asserted that he, as Commander in Chief, must hold “plenary” – or unlimited – powers as long as the conflict continues.

In effect, Bush’s theories of unlimited presidential power obviate the rule of law, congressional checks and balances, and the “unalienable rights” – such as habeas corpus guarantees to a fair trial – built into the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

By stretching the definition of the “war on terror” into something so elastic that it has no discernable shape and no determinable end, Bush and his successors will get to set aside the Constitution indefinitely, essentially creating an American autocratic system for the foreseeable future.

wake up, people... the situation is as bad or worse than it was before the november elections... cheney (the REAL president) has already made it clear that nothing congress can do will slow things down... and, let's get real... they've got two more years to continue to accrue power and finish their job of, as robert parry puts it, "deforming the u.s. government beyond recognition..."

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A psychiatrist does a "Frist diagnosis" on George

i think this will ring true to anybody who's been paying the slightest bit of attention...
First and foremost, George W. Bush is a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. What this means, mostly, is that he has rather desperate insecurities about himself, and compensates by constructing a grandiose self-image. Most of his relationships are either mirroring relationships--people who flatter him and reinforce his grandiosity--or idealized self-objects--people that he himself thinks alot of, and hence feels flattered by his association. Some likely perform both functions. Hence his weakness for sycophants like Harriet Miers, and powerful personalities like Dick Cheney.

Even as a narcissist, Bush knows he isn't a great intellect, and compensates by dismissing the value of intellect altogether. Hence his disses of Gore's bookishness, and any other intellectual that isn't kissing his ass. Bush knows that his greatest personal strength is projecting personal affability, and tries to utilize it even in the most inappropriate settings. That's why he gives impromptu backrubs to the German Chancellor in a diploamtic meeting--he's insecure intellectually, and tries to make everyone into a "buddy" so he can feel more secure.

this shrink doesn't buy any of the recent speculation that bush has a psychotic disorder, and, in fact, neither do i...
Bush knows that things aren't going his way in Iraq, and he knows that it is damaging him politically. He also sees that it is likely to get worse no matter what he does, and in fact it may be a lost cause. However, he recognizes that if he follows the recommendations of the ISG, that Iraq will almost certainly evolve into a puppet state of Iran, and given his treatment of Iran he will completely lose control of the situation--and he will be politically discredited for this outcome. The ONLY chance that he has to avoid this political disaster, and save his political skin, is to hope against hope for "victory" in Iraq. Advancing the "surge" idea offers Bush two political advantages over following the ISG recommendations. One is that if it is implemented, maybe, just maybe, he can pull out some sort of nominal "victory" out of the situation. The chances are exceedingly slim, granted, but slim is better to him than the alternative (none). Alternately, if the "surge" is politically rejected, he gains some political cover, so when things inevitably go to shit, he can say "I told you so" and blame the "surrender monkeys" for the outcome. Most people probably won't buy it, but some (his core base) will.

he concludes with what i believe is the ultimate damning summary of the man's psyche...
Now, I know what many of you are thinking--is George Bush willing to risk the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands more American soldiers, on an outside chance to save his political skin, in a half-baked plan that even he knows probably won't work at all? Damn straight he is. Because George Bush is that narcissistic, that desperate, and yes, that sociopathic as well.

all very interesting, but, the question remains... how the hell are we going to get him and his criminal buds OUT of office...? it needs to be soon... the country is dying a little bit every day...

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Whipping up fervor in a constituency by rallying bigotry

professor cole is spot on...
The purpose of statements like that of [Republican Representative Virgil Goode of Virginia] is to mark Muslim Americans as permanent outsiders and to rally bigoted Christians. (Just as the purpose of [Colorado Republican Congressman congressman Tom Tancredo's] remarks is to do the same thing to Latinos). The technique is a fascist technique, of spreading hatred and demanding the 'purification' of the body public as a way of whipping up fervor in a constituency. It is shameful, but more, it is very, very dangerous. The United States of America depends for its survival on tolerance of diversity. Bigotry can easily tear it apart.

Islamophobia or Anti-Muslimism is now among the more pressing social pathologies infecting the US. If it becomes established and acceptable, then lots of other forms of bigotry will also grow in virulence. There could end up being blood in the streets.

we haven't been hearing as much about the fascist bent of the united states in recent months, but, be assured, it's still very much alive and well... the mid-term elections may have dampened some of it, but with hate-mongers like goode and tancredo and their ilk still at large, we can count on there being more bigoted screed pumped up from their bottomless cesspools of vitriol at regular intervals...

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Well, well, well... Darth Cheney's staff helped Gates prepare for confirmation

oh, i am so NOT surprised...
[A]ccording to a former high ranking CIA official close to the key players, Gates was prepped for his Senate confirmation hearings by high level Cheney staffers, including David Addington, Chief of Staff to the Vice President, and David Wurmser, Cheney's Middle East advisor.

"Cheney's office prepped Gates for the hearings," this official claims. "His guys Wurmser and Addington got [Gates] ready, not the Pentagon."

and, in case you forgot...
Gates was sworn in by Vice President Dick Cheney on December 18, rather than by the president.

so, what does this tell you...? here's what comes to my mind... there are at least three extremely dark forces operating in the white house - cheney, addington, and rove... any of those three prepping gates for his confirmation hearing signals that gates' selection was just another trojan horse, designed to create the appearance of change while insuring that absolutely nothing changes...
Newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates may not be as independent from the Bush administration when it comes to matters of defense as some have suggested...

< duh >

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Corporate reform should include requirements to satisfy stakeholder needs

the wapo weighs in on corporate reform...
[T]wo sorts of corporate reform are warranted. It should be easier for labor unions to organize. And it should be harder for top executives to pay themselves outlandish sums.

the op-ed goes on to flesh out the current situations in both organized labor and executive compensation and to make recommendations for both... while i am in complete agreement with the wapo on this, i believe there is at least one other major area of corporate reform that needs to be addressed, and the op-ed neatly skips over it with this blithe statement...
Companies are not instruments of social policy; their first duty is to make money by serving customers, and they can provide for their workers only so long as they do that.

i fundamentally disagree... incorporation is a privilege, not a given, and corporations accrue certain duties and obligations as a result of being granted that privilege... unfortunately, the only constituency to which corporations are accountable BY LAW are its shareholders, and this is precisely where most corporations leave the tracks...

a corporation has many constituencies, and ethical and moral corporate leadership not only recognizes them all, but holds itself ACCOUNTABLE to all... the corporate family of constituencies (commonly called "stakeholders") usually consists of shareholders, of course, but also employees, communities, customers, and suppliers... the BEST organizations, be they publicly or privately held, attempt to both identify and satisfy the needs of their stakeholders, and to also put accountability mechanisms in place to insure that the things the organizations have committed to doing are indeed done...

while most organizations pay lip service to satisfying the needs of their stakeholders, without strong societal and/or legal sanctions, such efforts are often tossed to the winds at the first sign of a downturn... this should not be the case... operating a business, regardless of the type of ownership, should require a certain level of commitment to the stakeholders... in a country like the united states, founded on the principle of the common good, EVERYONE should have an obligation to contribute to that common good...

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Oh, man... Immigrant CHILDREN in detention camps... How has it come to this...?

i've been exposed to a lot of disturbing things in my obsessive vigil over all things bushco, but this is right up at the top of the list...
One of the more disturbing stories that surfaced after the Swift meat plant raids was how too many children were left without a parent and/or farmed out to friends and families with no immediate word on how they will be reconnected with their mami and papi.

But if news filtering out of one of the newly designated immigrant detention centers for families is any indication, no undocumented parent is going to open their mouth and claim their children if the whole family is going to be subjected to what is becoming known as the first known concentration camp on American soil in the 21st Century.


[A]t the Taylor facility [the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas, on the outskirts of Austin, Texas, is a private detention facility operated by Corrections Corporation of America], of the 400 people "held" there, 200 are children. And all are families that can be held there for whatever length of time without due process conducted in a timely manner.

To top it off, as long as the men, women and children are held there, the facility's operator draws a daily profit - per person.

The children range in age from infants on up.

According to the lawyers who have visited their clients in the facility, the children receive one hour of education, English instruction, a day and one half hour of indoor recreation.

Jeans and t-shirts have been replaced with jail uniforms; children are issued uniforms as soon as they can fit into them — and everyone must wear name tags, even the babies.

Lawyers are reporting that the families are receiving substandard medical care and becoming ill from the food being served them. Children are losing weight and people are complaining of migraine-type headaches.


The detention for a prolonged period of any child, regardless of whether or not they are with family members, is beneath what the United States used to stand for.

so many things have been done that are so far "beneath what the united states used to stand for" that i have lost track... this is just another one, but one, nonetheless, that is extraordinarily sad...

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What we've never seen before couldn't possibly exist

gore vidal, as usual, offers trenchant insights into what's happening in and to the united states, as viewed from cuba...
We have had since 9/11 a coup d´etat in the United States, the first we've ever had, in which a group of rather dishonest oil and gas people were able to seize the power of the State and by so doing they ended up with the Congress in their hands, they ended up with the presidency and much of the judiciary and much of the courts. It happened very fast. It's quite unique. It will be a great story one day at the moment it's just something the people don't understand. What they've never seen before doesn't exist really.

it's got to be more than coincidental that, only three posts earlier, i was writing about the coup d'etat...

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A Joyous Christmas and a Fulfilling New Year to All

there's a cold rain coming down here in reno... i made my escape from colorado on tuesday, one step ahead of the blizzard that closed down most of the state... it's the first day of winter here in the northern hemisphere, but the first day of summer in argentina (currently 79F in buenos aires at 8 p.m.) where i will be headed once again after the new year...

speaking of the new year, would it be too much to wish for bush and his band of criminals to be forced out of office early on in 2007...?

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"Escalation" not "surge"

even though i've been caught up in it myself, i'm glad to see that some folks aren't buying the verbal trickery embedded in every piece of bushco spin... case in point is this item from think progress...

Lieberman Officially Endorses
Escalation in Iraq

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"Conduct abroad a war of choice and expand executive power at home"

i've just finished reading what may be the most cogent analysis of the bush presidency i have yet come across...

the following two snippets give you an idea of the direction jay rosen takes in the article, but i highly encourage you to read the full piece...

[W]hat if our problems in Iraq are due not to a lack of realism, but to the total breakdown of reality-based policy making, a deliberate withdrawal from an empirical mindset in order to conduct abroad a war of choice and expand executive power at home?


This is in fact a way to discredit the press that the press has not fully appreciated. Take extreme action and a press that mistrusts "the extremes" will mistrust initial reports of that action...

i have thought for some time that part of the reason bush and his criminal counterparts continue to remain seriously unchallenged is that the media and the american people simply cannot bring themselves to grasp the astonishing breadth and depth of perfidy that they have perpetrated... it falls so far outside what we consider the "normal paradigm" of governmental behavior, we reject it out of hand...

speaking for myself, i spent years attempting to articulate what i had been feeling in my gut since the shit began hitting the fan in earnest after 9/11... it wasn't until i finally connected the dots for myself back in early 2003 that i was finally able to say out loud that the u.s. had been victim of a stealth coup d'etat, and, even then, i thought i had joined the ranks of the tin-foil hatters... since then, a number of others have wised up, but not nearly enough to do what needs to be done, and that is to get these people out of office before it's too late...

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"Congress badly needs to reconsider"

yes, it most definitely does...
Stripping the courts of habeas jurisdiction over Guantanamo was a profoundly foolish step to stop judicial review of an administration whose behavior has repeatedly illustrated the crucial importance of such oversight. Virtually every step the administration has taken toward a fairer and more open system for the detention and prosecution of enemy combatants has come as the result of pressure, direct and indirect, of litigation. The decision to respond to the Supreme Court's rebuke by, among other things, sharply limiting judicial review disabled the one mechanism that has consistently pushed policy in a constructive direction. Congress badly needs to reconsider.

without a doubt, our nation is facing perhaps the most serious constitutional crisis in its history, and the real battle has yet to be joined...
George W. Bush's assertion of unlimited presidential powers was dealt a blow in the November elections, but the battle for the future of the American Republic will be fought out in the months ahead. Bush and his neoconservative advisers are politically wounded, but that will only make them more desperate.

the next two weeks will be relatively quiet, with most people taking time to enjoy the holidays, their families, and to focus on the things that give real meaning to our lives... my wish for the new year, however, is that, as a nation, we finally come to grips with the reality that those in charge are criminals, and that they cannot be allowed to continue in office... that is my wish, that is my hope, that is my deepest desire...

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Bush would be proud of me

i did some christmas shopping yesterday...

At his year-end news conference, President Bush wouldn't
talk in detail about Iraq, calling questions about it
"hypothetical," although he said, "I believe that we are
going to win." But he did urge Americans to shop

and the ultimate irony...
The setting for the event, the rarely used Indian Treaty Room in the old Executive Office Building next to the White House, was inadvertently symbolic. Once a reception room for the Navy, it had stars on the ceiling for navigation, a compass in the center of the floor and other devices used by those who have lost their way.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"What they really want is freedom from us"

ay, and there's the rub...
America’s promises of assistance in Middle East should be treated with caution. We keep saying we want to give democracy to the Middle East but what they really want is freedom from us and this we are not willing to give them.

Robert Fisk, author of The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East has been reporting from Lebanon since the first civil war began there in 1976. Based in Beirut, he is probably the best-known Western journalist to report from the Middle East.

our idea of democracy and freedom in the middle east is the freedom to take direction from the united states...

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Something a bit more pleasant and easier on the eyes

i took this picture last saturday in breckenridge, colorado, on the main street in the old, historical part of town...

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A WaPo page A14 story with a shitty headline that should have been A01

the headline SHOULD read:


but, instead, it reads:

On the War, Determined to Go His Own Way

By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 20, 2006; Page A14

Ever since Republicans were routed last month in what was widely seen as a repudiation of his Iraq strategy, President Bush has been busily listing how his policies there will not be changing.

There will be no timetable for removing American troops, no high-level dialogue with Iran and Syria, and no slackening of support for the widely criticized government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Meanwhile, White House aides are reported to be pushing a major "surge" of troops to Baghdad while preparing a fresh infusion of tens of billions of dollars for the war effort.

Yesterday, in an interview with The Washington Post, while acknowledging that the United States is not winning in Iraq, Bush bluntly dismissed the suggestion that the midterm elections meant voters want to bring the mission in that country to closure. He said he interpreted the election results "as people not satisfied with the progress" in Iraq.

"A lot of people understand that if we leave Iraq, there will be dire consequences," Bush said in the Oval Office. "They expect this administration to listen with people, to work with Democrats, to work with the military, to work with the Iraqis to put a plan in place that achieves the objective. There's not a lot of people saying, 'Get out now.' Most Americans are saying, 'We want to achieve the objective.' "

The comments were another strong indication of the president's determination to chart his own way forward on Iraq, no matter the election results nor any amount of free advice from senior statesmen of past administrations.

to say that the president is determined "to chart 'his own way forward'" is such a f*****g, disingenuous cop-out... the man is monomaniacal, megalomaniacal, delusional, and completely out of control... he and his criminal compadres simply cannot be allowed to remain in office... it's been serious shit all along, but we're in the endgame now...

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Booman's "inexorable logic of impeachment"

i read this and get chills up and down my back... why...? because it is ABSOLUTELY THE RIGHT THING TO DO AND PRECISELY WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE...
The real solution to Iraq starts at home in figuring out a constitutional way to remove Bush and Cheney and replace them with a caretaker government. The rationale and details of the Articles of Impeachment are irrelevant. We need 18 Republican Senators to agree, in principle, to a process that will give us a new administration for the end of 2007 and all of 2008. That administration should agree not to seek re-election. Ideally, it would be made up of a Republican and a Democrat and have cabinet members from both parties. That is what the situation requires.

this MUST HAPPEN, and, god help us all, it CANNOT WAIT...

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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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Another signing statement, this one on the India nuclear "agreement"

"agreement" is in quotes because, with presidential exceptions to fully NINE portions of the "agreement," following a year of negotiating with congress, and even longer with india, it may not amount to much of an "agreement" on anything...
First, President Bush took particular exception to a section declaring the policies of the United States, noting that his "approval of the Act does not constitute my adoption of the statements of policy as U.S. foreign policy." The statements of policy included opposition to nuclear weapons production by all non-nuclear weapons states, as well as promoting India's commitments to control the proliferation of nuclear fuel cycle technology, cooperate in preventing Iran's development of nuclear weapons, and limit expansion of existing nuclear arsenals in South Asia.

Next, President Bush said that a control placed by Congress on transfers to India of items that would run afoul of Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines "unconstitutionally delegated legislative power to an international body," and he therefore considered the section "advisory" in nature.

Then, the president declared that 8 sections of the bill in total had to be construed "in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to protect and control information that could impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive, or the performance of the Executive's constitutional duties."

One section of the bill to which the president qualified his assent called on the the National Nuclear Security Administration of the US Department of Energy to engage the nuclear scientific community in India to develop cooperative nonproliferation activities, particularly with nuclear safeguards in mind. In another section of the bill, Congress had called on the president to issue determinations to Capitol Hill that India was aligning its nonproliferation policy in a manner consistent with US global nonproliferation goals, and also that civil cooperation with the US was not contributing to India's nuclear weapons program.

once again, we see the blatant disdain the president of the united states holds for congress and for the separate but equal provisions of the united states constitution...

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Robert Parry agrees with me about Gates - a Bush toady and a closet hawk

not that it wasn't painfully obvious from gates' remarks yesterday...
Since the Gates confirmation vote on Dec. 6, however, Bush and Gates have signaled that they have no intention of extricating the U.S. military from the Iraq quagmire. They still insist on nothing short of "victory" or "success," no matter how unlikely those ends and no matter how much blood must be spilled over the next two years to avert defeat.

At his swearing-in ceremony on Dec. 18, Gates endorsed Bush's contention that a U.S. military withdrawal without victory in Iraq and Afghanistan is unacceptable.

"All of us want to find a way to bring America's sons and daughters home again," Gates said. "But, as the President has made clear, we simply cannot afford to fail in the Middle East. Failure in Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility, and endanger Americans for decades to come."

Gates also made clear that U.S. forces would remain indefinitely in Afghanistan despite the eroding military position of the U.S.-backed government there.

so, we add afghanistan to the "permanent war" list, and, if the following pans out, we may be adding a few other countries to the list soon...
In his brief speech, Gates also went out of his way to echo Bush's call for a more aggressive U.S. military that can intervene quickly around the world.

"I was impressed by how deployable our military has become since I last served in government" as CIA director in 1991-93, Gates said. "The President said that one of his top priorities was to help our military become more agile, more lethal and more expeditionary. Much has been accomplished in this; much remains to be done. This remains a necessity and a priority."

So, Gates is onboard with Bush's "stay-until-victory" plan for Iraq and is enthusiastic about having a "more lethal and more expeditionary" U.S. military.
Though soft-spoken and mild-mannered – especially when compared to his predecessor Donald Rumsfeld – Gates sounds in substance more like a closet hawk than a closet dove.

terrific... this is precisely what i was afraid of with gates... another rumsfeld, but with a charm school degree...

and where was our new democratic majority during the confirmation...?

But the Democrats failed to probe any of Gates's inclinations at his Dec. 5 confirmation hearing. They failed to nail down his precise thinking on any aspect of the war strategy or even secure a guarantee that the Pentagon would turn over documents for oversight hearings.

Among many gaps in the questioning, the Democrats didn’t press Gates on whether he shared the neoconservative vision of violently remaking the Middle East, whether he endorsed the Military Commissions Act’s elimination of habeas corpus rights to fair trials, whether he supports warrantless wiretaps by the Pentagon’s National Security Agency, whether he agrees with Bush’s claim of “plenary” – or unlimited – powers as a Commander in Chief who can override laws and the U.S. Constitution.

When Gates did stake out substantive positions at the hearing, he almost invariably lined up with Bush. Though insisting that “all the options are on the table,” Gates rejected any timetable for military withdrawal as some Democrats have recommended.

Desperate to present themselves as "bipartisan," the newly victorious Democrats also avoided any impolite questions about Gates's history of deceptiveness or his role in politicizing the CIA's analytical division in the service of right-wing ideologues in the 1980s.

what i've seen since the election does not comfort me one bit... i am dreading the start of the new session of congress next month...

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Will Dick Cheney ever solemnly swear...?

hmmmmmm... i'm not terribly surprised to hear matt damon getting shrill, but certainly wouldn't have expected to hear chris matthews, of all people, agreeing with him...
Actor Matt Damon, starring in new movie The Good Shepherd about the early days of the CIA, appeared today with co-star Robert De Niro on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews. Damon, who has been vocal of late regarding politics, spoke frankly with Matthews.


"Look at the war we're in right now, you can certainly argue that that's a PR battle," said Damon, to sustained applause. He knocked the administration's changing rationale for the war, before saying of Dick Cheney's assertions regarding weapons of mass destruction, "I'd like to see him under oath." Matthews replied, as the crowd cheered Damon, "I would too."

cheney under oath... now, THAT'S something i would pay top dollar to see...

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59 U.S. casualties so far this month, 2947 since 2003, 3000 by year-end...?

and they want to send 40,000 more...?
[T]he U.S. military announced the deaths of two more American troops, raising to 59 the number of U.S. personnel killed in December. A Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Saturday, and a soldier with the U.S. Army's 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division died Friday, it said.

At least 2,947 members of the U.S. military have died since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

peace on earth, good will toward men, is a foreign concept to our president and his band of criminals...

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Juan Cole: Elliot Abrams must go

professor cole is pissed...
Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation carries the story of how Elliot Abrams and others at the National Security Council in Bush's White House have intervened to stop the publication of an op-ed in the New York Times by Flynt Leverett. Leverett himself served in the National Security Council until not so long ago.

For Leverett's criticism of Bush administration Middle East policy and its mishandling of Iran since January of 2002, see this interview at

That does it. Elliot Abrams must go. Elliot Abrams is a felon. He was involved in stealing Pentagon weapons from US stockpiles, selling them to the Ayatollah Khomeini, and then stealing the Iranian funds so garnered to give to far-right Central American death squads, and then lying about all this to Congress. The Congress in the Constitution controls the budget. The Congress had cut off money to the rightwing death squads supported by Reagan and henchmen like Abrams. This elaborate criminal conspiracy inside the White House was the Right's response. They shredded the Constitution (and ever since have been calling their critics "unpatriotic. ")

In 1991, Abrams pled guilty to two misdemeanor counts of lying to Congress under oath. Without the plea deal, he was facing felony charges, since what he did was in fact a felony.

Congress pledged that Abrams would never work at a high level in government again. But by the time the Neoconservative cabal in the Bush administration got Bush to appoint him to the National Security Council, there had been so much turn-over in Congress that, one member told me, "no one remembered who Abrams was."

I'm serious about this, everyone. The bloggers are touted as influential, but their influence is hard to measure or prove. Let's make this a test case.

Can Kos help? Eschaton? Talkingpointsmemo? And, it needn't be only one side of the aisle. A lot of principled persons on the right are deeply troubled by the criminality of this administration.

professor cole is deadly serious on this...
Enough of being ruled by criminals and liars and warmongers. Enough of censorship and attacks on our Constitution. Elliot Abrams must go.

abrams is far from the only one that needs to go...

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Lead poisoning in Peru - killing the environment and damaging the people

i've traveled in the andean highlands of peru... peru is one of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse countries in the world, and it's painful to read things like this...
A grey blanket of smog hangs over the mining town of La Oroya high up in the Andes in Peru, where several generations have suffered the effects of the lead dust and toxic fumes spewed out by a giant smelting complex.

A look around, and a few deep breaths, are all that is needed to understand that something is wrong in this town of 35,000 people in the central Peruvian region of Junín, where humble adobe and brick houses are surrounded by bleak hills in shades of grey -- the vegetation has been destroyed by acid rain -- and the dense air stings the eyes and throat.

The cause of the smog stands out like a sore thumb in the middle of the town: the smokestack of the multimetal smelter and refinery complex that spits out clouds of black smoke, and has been doing so for over 80 years.

Luis Saldarriaga, the head of oversight of the mining industry in the Ministry of Energy and Mines, tells IPS that 1.5 tons of lead and 810 tons of sulphur dioxide are emitted daily by the smelting complex administered since 1997 by the U.S. company Doe Run.

The factory's emissions of sulphur dioxide -- which can cause respiratory problems like bronchitis and are the main cause of acid rain -- are four times the acceptable limit of 175 metric tons a day, as set by Peruvian law.

The factory, located 180 km east of Lima and 3,300 metres above sea level, was built in 1922 by the Cerro de Pasco Corporation, a U.S. firm. In 1974 it was taken over by the state-run Centromín Perú, until it was privatised and acquired by the Missouri-based Doe Run in 1997.

The governmental National Environment Commission confirmed that the smelter is the source of 99 percent of the toxic emissions that people inhale in this town. Up to 20 metals -- including copper, lead and zinc -- are processed in the plant.

Few people make a living from farming in this area. The majority of the town's residents depend directly or indirectly on the smelting complex. Doe Run itself employs 4,000 workers, and most of the rest work in companies that do business with the plant or in the social programmes funded by Doe Run.

In 2001, the Peruvian government included La Oroya on a list of the country's 13 most heavily polluted towns and cities.

And the Blacksmith Institute, a New York-based non-governmental organisation dedicated to supporting pollution-related environmental projects in developing countries, recently included it on its 2006 list of the world's 10 most polluted places.

you can only imagine what kind of long-term impact the doe run facility has on the health of the citizens of la oroya, but you would never know it from reading doe run's corporate website...
Doe Run Company serves as one of the world's leading providers of premium lead and associated metals and services. Our commitment to producing these materials in a safe and environmentally responsible manner is demonstrated through pioneering techniques that make our international operations more innovative, efficient and environmentally sound. To that end, we’ve made significant contributions to the evolving industries of lead mining, smelting, recycling and fabrication of metals.

We're proud to operate one of the world’s only multi-metal facilities in La Oroya, Peru, and to serve as the Americas’ largest integrated lead producer. In our quest to continuously improve product quality, service and environmental performance, we work in partnership with our employees, communities, and customers around the globe. Their viewpoints are important to us as we strive to make tomorrow better than today.


(an interesting piece of trivia... in the entire world, there are only two stands of the rare, 5-needle, molica pine, a tertiary era relic - peru and macedonia...)

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What Europe, the U.S. and Israel have created in Gaza

sadly, even darfur is getting more attention than this...
89 percent of the population is poverty-stricken, living on less than $2 a day. Over 60 percent are unemployed, and since the election of the Hamas government in January, international aid has dried up. It had been used to pay the salaries of public officials. Now, even those who have jobs have been thrown into poverty, meaning that over 860,000 people in the Gaza Strip are now living on food parcels distributed by the UNRWA. Over half of the population.


[T]he real drama, says [John Ging ... the director of the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA)], is that the Palestinians are "effectively living in one big prison." After the withdrawal of Israeli troops last year, there was a feeling of optimism -- that just as quickly turned into hopelessness. "Everyone was counting on an economic upswing once the border with Egypt was open," Ging says.

Instead, trade has come to a virtual standstill as the border has remained mostly closed. Israeli pressure has ensured that the border crossing for people at Rafah is only open 14 percent of the time. And only 14 trucks get through the crossing at Kareni every day -- instead of 400 originally planned. It is the only crossing for those goods not produced in Gaza and thus have to be imported from Israel.

"According to the Dec. 5 treaty on the freedom of movement, the Rafah border can be open if European observers are present," says Ging. However, these observers live in Israel and Israel can use their discretion to prevent them from crossing into the Gaza Strip. "That's how you close a border."

remember, folks... israel is the single most important client state of the united states...

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"What went wrong at Abu Ghraib is that someone took photos"

george monbiot, writing in the guardian, crafts a scathing analysis of jose padilla and the u.s. interrogation policy of torture...
If we were to judge the United States by its penal policies, we would perceive a strange beast: a Christian society that believes in neither forgiveness nor redemption.

From this delightful experiment, US interrogators appear to have extracted a useful lesson: if you want to erase a man's mind, deprive him of contact with the rest of the world. This has nothing to do with obtaining information: torture of all kinds -- physical or mental -- produces the result that people will say anything to make it end. It is about power, and the thrilling discovery that in the right conditions one man's power over another is unlimited. It is an indulgence which turns its perpetrators into everything they claim to be confronting.

President Bush maintains that he is fighting a war against threats to the "values of civilized nations": terror, cruelty, barbarism and extremism. He asked his nation's interrogators to discover where these evils are hidden. They should congratulate themselves. They appear to have succeeded.

it's staggering to think that, in the supposed effort to collect information about potential terrorist threats, in the apparently more numerous than we think worst case scenarios, we are permanently destroying human minds, or, in less dramatic fashion, creating permanently fanatical terrorists...

(thanks to alternet...)

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

The experience of an American citizen in U.S. military custody in Iraq

this is staggeringly horrific... and, make no mistake, this could be you or me...
Bread and powdered drink for breakfast and sometimes a piece of fruit. Rice and chicken for lunch and dinner. Their cells had no sinks. The showers were irregular. They got 60 minutes in the recreation yard at night, without other detainees.

Five times in the first week, guards shackled the prisoners’ hands and feet, covered their eyes, placed towels over their heads and put them in wheelchairs to be pushed to a room with a carpeted ceiling and walls. There they were questioned by an array of officials who, they said they were told, represented the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Intelligence Agency.[...]

The two men slept in their 9-by-9-foot cells on concrete slabs, with worn three-inch foam mats. With the fluorescent lights on and the temperature in the 50s, Mr. Vance said, “I paced myself to sleep, walking until I couldn’t anymore. I broke the straps on two pair of flip-flops.”


Camp Rule 31 barred detainees from writing on the white cell walls, which were bare except for a black crescent moon painted on one wall to indicate the direction of Mecca for prayers. But Mr. Vance began keeping track of the days by making hash marks on the wall, and he also began writing brief notes that he hid in the Bible given to him by guards.

“Boards,” he wrote April 24, the day he and Mr. Ertel went before Camp Cropper’s Detainee Status Board.

Their legal rights, laid out in a letter from Lt. Col. Bradley J. Huestis of the Army, the president of the status board, allowed them to attend the hearing and testify. However, under Rule 3, the letter said, “You do not have the right to legal counsel, but you may have a personal representative assist you at the hearing if the personal representative is reasonably available.”

Mr. Vance and Mr. Ertel were permitted at their hearings only because they were Americans, Lieutenant Fracasso said. The cases of all other detainees are reviewed without the detainees present, she said. In both types of cases, defense lawyers are not allowed to attend because the hearings are not criminal proceedings, she said.


At the hearings, a woman and two men wearing Army uniforms but no name tags or rank designations sat a table with two stacks of documents. One was about an inch thick, and the men were allowed to see some papers from that stack. The other pile was much thicker, but they were told that this pile was evidence only the board could see.

The men pleaded with the board. “I’m telling them there has been a major mix-up,” Mr. Ertel said. “Please, I’m out of my mind. I haven’t slept. I’m not eating. I’m terrified.”

Mr. Vance said he implored the board to delve into his laptop computer and cellphone for his communications with the F.B.I. agent in Chicago.

Each of the hearings lasted about two hours, and the men said they never saw the board again.

this gives me the cold chills... you know as well as i do that, if it was you or me, the very same things would have happened, as bad or worse... and here's the most chilling part of all...
“Treating an American citizen in this fashion would have been unimaginable before 9/11,” said Mike Kanovitz, a Chicago lawyer representing Mr. Vance.

it should be unimaginable at any time, under any circumstances...

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If anybody ought to have his free speech restricted, it's Newt

THIS is someone who is supposedly there to protect and defend the constitution of the united states...?
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich last night defended his call to limit freedom of speech to combat terrorism, comments that last month provoked strident criticism from liberal groups.

Gingrich said the threat of biological or nuclear attack requires America to consider curbs to speech to fight terrorists, if it is to protect the society that makes the First Amendment possible.

"Our friends at the 'ACLU left,' of course, were staggered at this concept," Gingrich told an audience of Republicans at a Christmas banquet. "How could we talk about anything less than 100 percent free speech? How could we consider in any way thinking about this issue?"

Gingrich cited last month's ejection of six Muslim scholars from a plane in Minneapolis for suspicious behavior, which included reports they prayed before the flight and had sat in the same seats as the Sept. 11 hijackers.

"Those six people should have been arrested and prosecuted for pretending to be terrorists," Gingrich said. "And the crew of the U.S. airplane should have been invited to the White House and congratulated for being correct in the protection of citizens."

that last paragraph is so utterly divorced from reality, it beggars belief...

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Impeachment - yes...

i can only nod my head vigorously in agreement... unless and until we stop pretending that we are only dealing with an incompetent presidential administration rather than a nest of criminals, and stand up to our desperate need for accountability, we will never get our country back...
From the January 2007 issue of Harper's Magazine:
"Democracy is born in dirt, nourished by the digging up and turning over of as much of it as can be brought within reach of a television camera or a subpoena. We can't "lay out a new agenda for America" unless we know which America we're talking about, the one that embodies the freedoms of a sovereign people or the one made to fit the requirements of a totalitarian state....
Like it or not, and no matter how unpleasant or impolitic the proceedings, the spirit of the law doesn't allow the luxury of fastidious silence or discreet abstention....
The Constitution doesn't serve at the pleasure of Representative Pelosi any more than it answers to the whim of President Bush, and by taking "off the table" the mess of an impeachment proceeding, the lady from California joins the president in his distaste for such an unclean thing as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Rightly understood, democracy is an uproar, the argument meant to be blunt, vigilant, and fierce, not, as the purveyors of our respectable opinion would have it, a matter of liveried civil servants passing one another polite synonyms on silver trays."

Daily Kos has more on this article...

unfortunately, the link to the harpers article is not available until they decide to put their january issue online...

(thanks to the impeach bush coalition...)

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"Bush is a totally pragmatic politician"

what a gigantic load of bollocks, especially coming from a member of the isg whose recommendations bush has virtually shit-canned...
"I think George W. Bush is a totally pragmatic politician," said former senator Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.), a member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which recommended a new course. "He's going to do outreach. . . . He is a total realist. He knows that the solid, march-in-step Republicans, at least in the House, are gone. . . . Now his legacy depends on the national interest, not partisanship."

what is it about wyoming politicians...? i mean, look at darth cheney... must be those wide-open spaces and that constant wind...

p.s. the title of this wapo analysis piece is "Stubborn or Stalwart, Bush Is Loath to Budge..." of COURSE he's "loathe to budge..." the entire foreign policy of the united states is at stake, and it ain't just about iraq per se... let's not forget so-called democratization of the middle east, oil, a major u.s. military presence in the middle east, oil, regional u.s. hegemony, oil, 14 military bases and a massive embassy complex a'building, oil, the continuation of the aumf, oil, the foundation of the endless war on terror, oil, and the prevention of a regional islamic caliphate... (i'll leave the identification of the bogus ones to you, gentle reader...)

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