And, yes, I DO take it personally: 01/14/2007 - 01/21/2007
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Mark: Thanks to all the contributors on this blog. When I want to get information on the events that really matter, I come here.
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
The mainstream media’s assumption that Armitage “inadvertently” let Plame’s identity slip out almost as gossip also was challenged by my conservative source. When I asked him about that scenario, he laughed and said, “Armitage isn’t a gossip, but he is a leaker. There’s a difference.”
joshua holland, writing in alternet, offers a chilling perspective on how detainees will be tried under the new and abhorrent military commissions act...
The Defense Department has drafted a manual for trying detainees at the Guantanamo, Cuba, jail that would allow terror suspects to be imprisoned, convicted and executed on the basis of hearsay evidence or coerced testimony.
As American companies move more and more of their manufacturing offshore, many take on the status of "free riders." They enjoy all the benefits of being "American" -- government services and subsidies, the protection of the US military -- while discarding reciprocal obligations to the country: jobs, economic investment and paying a fair share of the tax burden.
fortunately, i've seen nothing as egregious as what's going on in iraq, or even, for that matter, the desecration that's already been perpetrated on the environments of such places as irian jaya, the congo, bolivia, and peru...
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The aftershocks of the Republican congressional defeat in November are reverberating north of the border as Canada's Conservative government is showing signs of falling. The rejuvenated Liberals are expected to press for a vote of no-confidence in Prime Minister Stephen Harper as early as February, possibly depriving George W. Bush of another close ally. But a Canadian reversal would be especially bitter for U.S. conservatives because Harper -- known as "un clone de Bush" -- modeled his movement after the divisive style of modern Republicans.
Our hideously twisted "leadership" thinks civil rights are optional
bush, cheney, rove, addington, hadley, gonzales... these men now form the heart of darkness in the bush administration... the fact that alberto has the unmitigated gall to make this argument is yet another sign of how very deeply evil is entrenched in the twisted leadership provided by the white house...
In another sign of President George W. Bush's disdain for America's "unalienable rights," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales argued before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Constitution does not explicitly grant Americans habeas corpus rights to a fair trial.
Challenging two centuries of established legal opinion, Gonzales quibbled over the fact that the Constitution simply bars habeas corpus from being suspended except in extraordinary circumstances.
Gonzales's comment suggests that Bush and his lawyers still see American rights as optional.
as parry rightly notes, it's enough to make your blood run cold...
In one of the most chilling public statements ever made by a U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales questioned whether the U.S. Constitution grants habeas corpus rights of a fair trial to every American.
Responding to questions from Sen. Arlen Specter at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Jan. 18, Gonzales argued that the Constitution doesn’t explicitly bestow habeas corpus rights; it merely says when the so-called Great Writ can be suspended.
“There is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution; there’s a prohibition against taking it away,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales’s remark left Specter, the committee’s ranking Republican, stammering.
“Wait a minute,” Specter interjected. “The Constitution says you can’t take it away except in case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless there’s a rebellion or invasion?”
Gonzales continued, “The Constitution doesn’t say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right shall not be suspended” except in cases of rebellion or invasion.
the beaches here (villa gesell, argentina) are wonderful and the sunsets are world class... on my earlier "light posting" post, someone advised me that i was missing a bet by not going to punta del este, uruguay, instead... well, maybe, one of these days... for the meanwhile, however, villa gesell, particularly the barrio norte area where we're staying, is just my kind of laid-back place...
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BAGHDAD, Jan. 17 -- The Iraqi government's need for American troops would "dramatically go down" in three to six months if the United States accelerated the process of equipping and arming Iraq's security forces, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Wednesday.
i read the headlines on this story in both the wapo and the nyt, and immediately thought to myself,¨"where's the catch...?" well, looks like here it is...
On the eve of his first appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee since control of that chamber changed hands, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales yesterday announced what appears to be a timely tactical retreat in connection with the Bush administration's warrantless domestic spying program. According to a letter issued by Gonzales, "any surveillance that was occurring as part of the Terrorist Surveillance Program will now be conducted subject to the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court," a move that President Bush strongly resisted for more than a year. Yet it remains unclear "whether the administration found a friendly judge who gave a blanket approval to the program or whether it will have to seek individual approval each time it wants to eavesdrop." This distinction is critical, and the administration will not say one way or the other. However, in today's New York Times, Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) charged that the new approach in fact relies "on a blanket, 'programmatic' approval of the president's surveillance program, rather than approval of individual warrants." Administration officials "have convinced a single judge in a secret session, in a nonadversarial session, to issue a court order to cover the president's terrorism surveillance program," Wilson said. Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Mark Agrast writes today, "Before the senators give the administration their blessing, they must be satisfied that this is not a fresh attempt to circumvent the independent case-by-case review which the Constitution requires before the government may lawfully intercept domestic communications.
How do you build yourself a madman? Well, first you flatter him, and then you try never to make him angry, and then you feed him ideas that flatter him even more by making him seem to himself sentimentally visionary and powerful and righteous. You appeal to his already evident mean streak and his hot temper by reminding him all the time that he has enemies, and you cultivate his religious side so that the sense of righteous victimization inherent in extreme religion comes out.
If he were not already an ignorant, dependent, fragile, and rigid person, he would not be susceptible to this sort of conditioning, but by temperament and practice, he has nothing of his own to counter your efforts. Then you hire a few shyster-sycophants like John Yoo to tell him (ignorant as he is, with no actual understanding of the Constitution), that as president he can do whatever he wants.
In the meantime, Karl Rove continues to think that he is the maestro, playing Little George (and his base and the rest of the nation) like his own personal piano. Playing the president, for Rove, means enhancing Little George's actual dependency while encouraging him to think that he's the boss (allowing him to call you "Turdblossom," for example, and isn't it telling that "turd" seems to be Bush's favorite imprecation, rather than, say, "fuck"?).
This time, in his war against Iran, he doesn't even feel the need for minimal PR, as he did before attacking Iraq. All he is bothering with are signals -- ships moving here, admirals moving there, consulates being raided in this other place. He no longer cares about the opinions of the voters, the Congress, the generals, the press...
The small pathologies of Bush the candidate have, thanks to the purposes of the neocons and the religious right, been enhanced and upgraded. We have a bona fide madman now, who thinks of himself in a grandiose way as single-handedly turning the tide of history. Some of his Frankensteins have bailed, some haven't dared to, and others still seem to believe. His actions and his orders, especially about Iran, seem to be telling us that he will stop at nothing to prove his dominance.
lived a spoiled prince, a boy in a man's body, who had no idea how to live the life of a responsible adult... he reveled in debasing the members of his court, knowing that they had no choice but to take whatever humiliation his twisted imagination could contrive... the prince's happiness was all that mattered...
Libby may be going on trial for five felony counts of lying and obstructing justice, but the essence of his criminal behavior was his work as a top enforcer responsible for intimidating Americans who wouldn’t stay in line behind the infallible Bush.
george is a walking case study of why spanking should still not be ruled out when raising children, even adult children...
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after hanging out in argentina off and on for over 2 1/2 years, i'm finally going to the beaches... porteños (buenos aires residents), like their european cousins, love to take an entire month off for summer vacation, only instead of august like in europe, january is the vacation month here... so, for the first time, i'm joining them... maybe i'll put up some nice pics from villa gesell... stay tuned...
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[N]othing should be off the table in the constitutional battle to politically defeat and thwart George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in their remaining two years in office. We must tie no hand behind our back.
Whether it be acts of Congress, citizen petition, legal challenges, State or Municipal action, First Amendment Protests or a movement to popularize and express support for the impeachment of the President and Vice President, or all of the above, one thing is clear in January of 2007: no constitutional means should be off the table when it comes to considering the range of options for opposing this President at this time.
i emphatically agree... politically defeating and thwarting, imho, is the bare minimum... removal from office should be the real goal...
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so much for that ridiculous nonsense that gates is "his own man" and would bring a "more moderate viewpoint" to the bush administration...
In his first visit - on the job - to NATO headquarters in Brussels, new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, while answering questions from reporters, accused Iranians of "acting in a very negative way," and warned Iran that the US is not leaving Iraq.
"Expanding executive power, for its own sake...?" Well, duh...
i have said over and over and over again, 'til i'm blue in the face, that there is no incompetence, blindness, or stench of failure about the bush administration... they have done and are doing precisely what they've set out to do - create an authoritarian state, funnel all the money into their own pockets and those of their crony supporters, and foment massive global chaos fueled by endless war... and, oh, my god, it's working beautifully, isn't it...?
I once believed that the common thread here is presidential blindness -- an extreme executive-branch myopia that leads the chief executive to believe that these futile measures are integral to combating terrorism; a self-delusion that precludes Bush and his advisers from recognizing that Padilla is a chump and Guantanamo Bay is just a holding pen for a jumble of innocent or half-guilty wretches.
the bush administration came into office on 20 january 2001 with the plan fully formulated...
Addington and Cheney had been "laying the groundwork" for a vast expansion of presidential power long before 9/11. And in 2002, the vice president told ABC News that the presidency was "weaker today as an institution because of the unwise compromises that have been made over the last 30 to 35 years." Rebuilding that presidency has been their goal for decades.
The image of Addington scrutinizing "every bill before President Bush signs it, searching for any language that might impinge on Presidential power," as Mayer puts it, can be amusing, sort of like the mother of the bride obsessing over a tricky seating chart. But this zeal to restore an all-powerful presidency traps the Bush administration in its own worst legal sinkholes. This newfound authority -- to maintain a disastrous Guantanamo Bay, to stage rights-free tribunals and to hold detainees forever -- is the kind of power that Richard M. Nixon could have only dreamed about, and cannot be let go.
In a heartbreaking letter from Guantanamo Bay last week, published in the Los Angeles Times, inmate Jumah al-Dossari writes: "The purpose of Guantanamo is to destroy people, and I have been destroyed." I fear he is wrong. The destruction of Dossari, Padilla, Zacarias Moussaoui, Yasser Esam Hamdi and some of our most basic civil liberties was never a purpose or a goal -- it was a byproduct. The true purpose is more abstract and more tragic: to establish a clunky post-Watergate dream of an imperial presidency, whatever the human cost may be.
and, now that they've got their dream within their grasp, it's up to us, the american people, to make sure they don't get it...
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The banking division of ING Group released a memo on Jan. 9 entitled "Attacking Iran: The market impact of a surprise Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities."
ING is a global financial services company of Dutch origin that includes banking, insurance, and other divisions. The report was authored by Charles Robinson, the Chief Economist for Emerging Europe, Middle East, and Africa. He also authored an update in ING's daily update Prophet that further underscored the bank's perception of the risks of an attack.
ING's Robertson admitted that an attack on Iran was "high impact, if low probability," but explained some of the reasons why a strike might go forward. The Jan. 9 dispatch, describes Israel as "not prepared to accept the same doctrine of ‘mutually assured destruction’ that kept the peace during the Cold War. Israel is adamant that this is not an option for such a geographically small country....So if Israel is convinced Iran is aiming to develop a nuclear weapon, it must presumably act at some point."
so, why now...?
In his Jan. 15 update, Robertson points to a political reason that could make the assault more likely - personnel changes in the Bush administration may have sidelined opponents of attacking Iran.
if my fairy godmother were to suddenly appear and grant me one wish, it would be for bush and cheney to resign - tomorrow... better yet, how about right now...?
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"The picture I will lay out for you today is not a pretty one and it’s getting worse with the passage of time," said David M. Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, in a Thursday morning hearing of the Senate's Budget Committee. "Continuing on our current fiscal path would gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, our economy, our standard of living, and ultimately even our domestic tranquility and our national security," he warned.
While he acknowledged the single-year fiscal improvement touted by the Bush administration for 2006, he said that "it did not fundamentally change our long-term fiscal outlook." He also noted that since 2000, America's net social insurance commitments and other fiscal obligations have increased to $50 trillion from $20 trillion, representing four times the nation's total economic output. Rising national health care costs are the greatest culprit according to data collected by Walker's agency.
The head of the GAO also warned that if no action is taken now to control government spending, severe tax hikes could be necessary. He stated that, "balancing the budget in 2040 could require actions as large as cutting total federal spending by 60 percent or raising federal taxes to 2 times today’s level."
in addition to dropping THAT bombshell, walker had something else very interesting to say...
During the course of the hearing, senators also asked Walker about the cost estimates presented by President George W. Bush for sending 21,500 more troops to Iraq this year, according to Air Force Times. Walker believed that the amount of money planned to be spent on the troop escalation was much more than needed for the number of troops involved. "I have some serious concerns about the numbers...It is unclear what much of the $5.6 billion is to be spent on," they reported him saying.
9. MLK: "A revolution in American values away from consumer materialism and militarism is needed if we are not to go on having one Vietnam after another:
The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality [applause], and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing "clergy and laymen concerned" committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy . . ."
"Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin [applause], we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered . . ."
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just . . ."
A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." [sustained applause]
10. MLK: "Love and justice, not aggression and exploitation, hold the real hope for a peaceful and prosperous future:
' This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I'm not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: "Let us love one another (Yes), for love is God. (Yes) And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. . . . If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us." Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day."
Another presidential power-grab via a "little-noticed provision"
just stop and think for a minute... this is the third post i've made today on "hidden" provisions increasing our president's already near-dictatorial powers... how many more of these are lurking out there...? i'm not sure i want to know... never mind, OF COURSE i want to know...
H. E. Bud Cummins, the respected United States attorney in Little Rock, recently left office. He has been replaced on an interim basis by J. Timothy Griffin, who has a thin legal record but a résumé that includes working for Karl Rove and heading up opposition research for the Republican National Committee. Senator Mark Pryor, Democrat of Arkansas, wanted to raise concerns about Mr. Griffin’s appointment as part of the confirmation process. But he couldn’t because there was no confirmation process.
recess appointments... little-noticed provisions cleverly hidden inside larger pieces of legislation... signing statements... the unitary executive... war-time powers of the commander-in-chief... we still call it the united states, but it's a different country than the one i thought i was a citizen of...
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The provision, which was slipped into a spending bill at the end of the last Congress, is intended to close a long-standing loophole that critics say puts contractors in war zones above the law.
i have several reactions here... the first, obviously, is the outrageous notion of having civilians tried in military tribunals... this is major precedent, and, mark my words, is no more intended to be restricted to afghanistan and iraq than the iraq troop escalation is meant to be temporary... and, get this, the rationale for restricting it to those two countries contains this mind-boggling revelation...
Previously, civilians could be tried under the UCMJ only during a declared war. Since military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan never involved a declaration of war, civilians have been exempt. But the new provision also allows the UCMJ to be applied to certain civilians during a "contingency operation." Operations in Afghanistan and Iraq both fit that definition.
wow...! so, NOW we learn that our president has never been commander-in-chief during an actual WAR, only pretending to be one during a "contingency operation..." whaddaya know...!
so, what kind of folks could get swept up and charged under this new approach...? and charged with WHAT...?
"Soldiers subject themselves to a different system of criminal justice. That's a decision that's made by everyone who enlists," [Christopher Anders, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union] said. "There may be some logic in applying military standards to civilian military contractors who are taking up arms. But it's a whole different thing when others are swept up."
The Pentagon is still developing guidance on how the new provision will be used. "We're going to have to go through and assess the situation as the facts and circumstances develop," spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said.
mmm-hmmm... but, back to the question...
[L]egal observers say it could be interpreted broadly to also include employees with other government agencies, as well as reporters.
"One could imagine a situation in which a commander is unhappy with what a reporter is writing and could use the UCMJ to pressure the reporter," said Phillip E. Carter, a contracting lawyer with McKenna Long & Aldridge.
ah, i see... so, if you or i are annoying enough in our resistance to all things bushco, it's conceivable that we could be charged under the UCMJ, and, well, let's just say halliburton isn't building all those domestic detention centers for NOTHING, ya know...
a second reaction, that the provision is intended to close a loophole, while it makes sense on its face, is ALSO a load of bollocks since a provision for subjecting civilians to justice from federal prosecutors is ALREADY in place, but, mysteriously, has never been used...
At least theoretically, contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan have been subject to criminal law in the United States through the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, known as MEJA. That law, passed in 2000, is supposed to expand federal prosecutors' authority to foreign battlefields. But MEJA has yet to be used to prosecute contractors.
now, let's take a look at that "slipped into a spending bill" crap... first of all, who did the slipping...? why, none other than our favorite "slipper," bush toady par excellence, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.)... and he did it how...?
[T]he provision sparked virtually no debate last year when Graham had it written into the defense spending bill for 2007. The change was easy to miss: It involved adding just five words to a massive bill. The bill was signed into law by President Bush.
a typical bushco tactic - hiding in plain sight... more proof, as if any was needed, that we have been and remain under constant attack from this presidential administration, which moves inexorably forward, often in the dead of night, but, just as often in daylight under our very noses, grabbing power in all conceivable ways...
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i don't impugn dennis' character or motives, but i can't help but point out that the plug should have been pulled on this bastard a long time ago, the earliest being the illegal invasion of iraq, and the latest being the katrina debacle... any "bets" made with or placed on our criminal president were and are the bets of a fool...
While making an unannounced appearance at a media reform conference on Friday, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) - a candidate for president in 2004 and already announced for 2008 - was pressed by bloggers in attendance about impeachment.
maybe attacking iran will finally motivate the american people to demand his removal, but, god, will it take something like ANOTHER ILLEGAL WAR for us to finally hit the wall...?
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Flags of the country of Argentina and the province of Entre Rios
held every saturday, this year starting on 6 january and running through 3 march, "el carnaval del pais," takes place in the argentinian town of gualeguaychú in entre rios province... it isn't nearly as well-known as its bigger and flashier cousin in rio, but it's quite a deal all the same... i went for the first time last night, and, i can tell you, EVERYONE there was having a grand good time...
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As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visits Latin America this weekend to strengthen economic and political ties with the region, Argentina's Néstor Kirchner will not be in the line of presidents turning out to greet him.
Kirchner's government has reinvigorated attempts to prosecute Iranian figures for their alleged role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center here, recently issuing arrest warrants for nine former Iranian officials. Among those sought is former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, accused of ordering the attack that killed 85 people and injured more than 200.
yes, argentina has good reasons to keep mahmoud at a distance, but they're still walking a fine line, trying to avoid looking like they're sucking up to the u.s. and israel...
Some critics contend that Kirchner's government has been manipulated by a regionally unpopular U.S. government that wants to use the Argentine court rulings to stir international outrage against Iran.
There are no really satisfying answers in Iraq, since all of the remaining options are bad. Still, some are notably worse than others, and Mr. Bush has come up with possibly the worst. He would mortgage thousands more American lives and what remains of Washington’s credibility in the region to a destructively sectarian Shiite government that he seems unwilling or unable to influence or restrain.
Unlike Mr. Bush’s views on the American military presence in Iraq, our views have evolved as the evident realities on the ground have changed. At the outset, although we opposed Mr. Bush’s invasion, we hoped the United States military could provide enough security to allow an elected government to build the foundations of national unity and eventual democracy.
As it became increasingly clear that Iraqi political leaders had other, less noble intentions, we still hoped that a substantial American military presence could be used to shield innocent civilians from the growing violence, train reliable and professional Iraqi security forces to take over that task, and exert leverage on Iraqi leaders to follow a less divisive and destructive course.
Now, with Mr. Bush unwilling or unable to persuade Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to take the minimum steps necessary to justify any deeper American commitment, we recognize that even that has become unrealistic.
better evolutionary thought than the dinosaur-on-the-brink-of-extinction thinking that is the bush administration...
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I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word - that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot - that they have to question authority.
One of the very few potential benefits of the Iraq tragedy is that it may raise the level of doubt and cynicism with which Americans evaluate the claims of the Government...
as a card-carrying member of the hippie generation, for my money, this is dreher's best quote...
On the walk to the parking garage, it hit me. Hadn't the hippies tried to tell my generation that? Why had we scorned them so blithely?