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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 08/12/2007 - 08/19/2007
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"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it."
- Noam Chomsky
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, August 18, 2007

John WHO?

mccain emerges from hiding...
This morning on CNN, host Kiran Chetry suggest to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that he’s been unfairly “painted as being a huge supporter of the president’s Iraq strategy. Is that an accurate portrayal?” she asked.

McCain responded that “life isn’t fair” because, in reality, he’s been “the greatest critic of the initial four years” of war:
It’s entertaining, in that I was the greatest critic of the initial four years, three and a half years. I came back from my first trip to Iraq and said, This is going to fail. We’ve got to change the strategy to the one we’re using now. But life isn’t fair.

as commenter #1 on think progress observed: "John Who???"

yeah, i've been wondering the same thing myself... until this, it seemed like mr. straight-talk express had dropped off the map... glad to see he's still got faith in the karl rove playbook, where rule #1 is "when caught in a trap of your own making, lie your way out of it..." actually, the subtitle of that rule is "the 'who's crazy, you or me?' tactic..."

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ah-HA...! i was having problems connecting on skype the past couple of days... sometimes my cable modem here gets huffy about connecting to certain sites and i thought that might have been the problem... looks like it was skype...
Problems continued yesterday for Skype, an Internet-based phone company, as it tried to patch up a software glitch that left many of its 220 million customers disconnected.

Worldwide disruption spanning Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America began on Thursday, prompting rumors on the Web about the cause of the outage, including speculation that the service had been attacked by Russian hackers, or that the failure was the result of problems caused by a recent software update.

i have a lot of friends and colleagues whose lives, like mine, encompass living for extended periods of time in far-flung corners of the globe, and skype has been an enormous aid to staying in touch with family, friends and business associates... not only is the price right (i can call the u.s. from argentina for 2 u.s. cents a minute), but the service and call quality is excellent... it's also very popular... for example, right now, at 9:03 a.m. argentina regional time, there are 5,623,663 users online... right now, it's working, and here's hoping their glitch stays fixed...


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Friday, August 17, 2007

Serious delusion, willingly perpetuated, deliberately perpetrated

read this carefully...

I. Our Rules / Their Rules
Several governments have defeated Islamic insurgencies, but usually only after about ten years, and adopting policies of summary executions and carpet bombing or shelling.

The Algerians in the 1990s finally stopped the so-called Islamic Salvation Army. The Russians decimated Chechnyan separatists. Syria’s Hafez al-Assad brutally exterminated several groups loosely affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, most infamously by the thousands at the town of Hama.

But so far, no recent military has succeeded in defeating a radical Muslim terrorist insurgency, while subject to a constitutional government and an absolutely free media. In this regard, the United States — given its position as the world’s only superpower and recognized as the most sensitive of all countries to easy criticism — is especially at a military disadvantage.

Witness Guantanamo Bay that is demonized worldwide as the new Stalag or Gulag, when, in fact, it is the most humane detention center of jailed Muslim terrorists in the world.

Abu Ghraib was reprehensible for its sexual roguery and gratuitous humiliation, but the real military problem of that prison has been the serial release, not American mistreatment, of Islamic murderers. In Iraq, then, the question arises — can a liberal Western government defeat a barbarous Islamist terrorist insurgency while under constant audit — and remaining true to its own democratic principles?

have you absorbed all that...? good... now try this...
II. Fighting For Democracy?
The present war, however, is again qualitatively different: We are not seeking to quell the violence in Iraq or Afghanistan by the imposition or use of a brute. Instead we expend blood and treasure in the hopes that a consensual government can fight as well as a dictatorship — while at the same time ensuring freedom for its people.

So in Iraq, not only are we waging a war according to American rules of engagement, but for the idea of constitutional government run by a poor, deeply traditional, tribal, and often religiously fundamentalist population.

General Petraeus knows that Iraq Security Forces can get information out of detained terrorists much easier than we can. But he also accepts that winking at systematic torture would be at odds with his directive to protect and promote constitutional government.

okay... but, wait... he ain't finished yet...
III. War-loving Republicans?
There is yet a third anomaly: We are presently fighting two simultaneous wars under a conservative Republican administration. And that too is fairly rare in the last 100 years, and far more challenging. [...] Apparently, the intelligentsia and media felt that no liberal Democrat could possibly have preferred war, and had only fought when forced to — despite the use of Democratic preemption in a variety of instances.

and STILL, he's not finished...
IV. From YouTube to Cingular


Even during the Serbian bombing a mere decade ago, poor civilians on the ground were not able to easily email, or cell phone daily reports, or post videos on the Internet.

But now an errant bomb or single rogue jailer in Abu Ghraib will be blared live — in raw and unedited fashion without much of a context — to a housewife in Frankfurt or a farmer in Anatolia. Any single untoward incident can splash across the computer screens of billions, and serve as an instant referendum on the service of tens of thousands of American soldiers.

The result is that U.S. military officials recognize that any possible strike on the Syria border would be broadcast worldwide as carpet bombing of a wedding party or tribal reunion, while the enemy’s mass beheadings and torture will often go unreported.

do you see where this is all headed...?
V. The Oil Bogeyman
American military options in the Middle East are also circumscribed by a global oil market — even more so than during the Cold War fear of a counter-reaction from the Soviet Union. We are in an era of seemingly perpetual petroleum scarcity, one far worse even than the oil boycotts of old that were shortages by intent and directed solely at the West.


Increasingly what follows will be a liberal Western superpower, adopting rules of engagement that reflect its own idealism fighting against a primordial terrorists, in pursuit of democratic reform — sometimes under conservative Republican administrations vulnerable to charges of militarism, while being scrutinized by a global media eager for signs of either American hypocrisy or weakness, and a world jittery over world petroleum prices.

Should Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker stabilize Iraq, it will demonstrate that the United States, under the most impossible of conditions, can still defeat Islamic terrorism while fostering constitutional reform that improves the security of the region and the world at large — and due so irrespective of a hostile world media and partisan politicking at home.

But if they cannot?

The ultimate irony: The seventh-century terrorists win — and those who habitually demonized American military operations will themselves lose as well.

you know what's so horribly despicable about this twisted line of reasoning...? it allows for no possibility that the motives of the united states are anything but pure... god, how i would like to believe that... i DID believe that for a good portion of my life... just like everyone else, i was raised to believe in the myth of my country... what i now know is that the united states, founded on the most enlightened principles of any country in the world, has had those principles hijacked by people so greedy for money and power that they are willing to do literally anything to get them... victor davis hanson is seriously deluded and those who will rally around his words are as well...

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You GO, ACLU...!

we should get down on our knees and kiss the shoes of folks at places like the aclu and crew... they're busting their humps to look after our civil liberties which, if the criminals in the white house had their way, would have been completely wiped without anybody saying a damn thing... are you listening, congress...?
In an unprecedented order, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered the Bush Administration to respond to a request it received last week by the American Civil Liberties Union for orders and legal papers discussing the scope of the government's authority to engage in the secret wiretapping of Americans, according to an ACLU press release late Friday.


According to the FISC’s order, the ACLU’s request “warrants further briefing,” and the government must respond to it by August 31. The court has said that any reply by the ACLU must be filed by September 14.

"Disclosure of these court orders and legal papers is essential to the ongoing debate about government surveillance," said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. "We desperately need greater transparency and public scrutiny. We're extremely encouraged by today's development because it means that, at long last, the government will be required to defend its contention that the orders should not be released."

The ACLU filed the request with the FISC following Congress' recent passage of the so-called "Protect America Act," a law that vastly expands the Bush administration's authority to conduct warrantless wiretapping of Americans' international phone calls and e-mails. In their aggressive push to justify passing this ill-advised legislation, the administration and members of Congress made repeated and veiled references to orders issued by the FISC earlier this year. The legislation is set to expire in six months unless it is renewed.

at least there's SOMEBODY out there looking out for the constitution...

(thanks to raw story...)

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Putting 9/11 in perspective - now THERE'S a concept!

ah...! that all-too-rare glimpse of truth and common sense...
About Paul Campos
A native of Colorado, Paul Campos practiced law in Chicago before returning to his home state in 1990 to join the law faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has written extensively on the role of law in American society.

When Stu Bykofsky, a columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News, wrote a column last week in which he openly hoped that America suffers "another 9/11," he merely had the poor judgment to say what many a right-wing politician and pundit is thinking.

Evidence for this is everywhere: in the fact that Bykofsky was invited to appear on the GOP's unofficial network, Fox News, to "explain" his comments; in the keen disappointment that ripples throughout the right-wing blogosphere every time the collapse of a bridge or a steam pipe explosion turns out not to have been the work of Scary Brown People Who Hate Our Freedoms; and in predictions such as that made by former Sen. Rick Santorum, that the GOP's electoral fortunes will improve as soon as there's another terrorist attack.


The narcissism at the heart of the Cult of 9/11 is captured by an episode of Larry David's mordant comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm. David meets with a rabbi whose brother-in-law was killed in uptown New York in a bicycle accident on the day of the terror attacks. When at the meeting's end David innocently exclaims "Let's roll," the rabbi is outraged: "You knew my brother-in-law died on Sept. 11! How dare you say something like that!"

A nonplussed David replies, "I didn't realize that if you died uptown it was still part of the tragedy."

The fact is that if you, like me, are one of the 99.9 percent of Americans who doesn't know anyone who was killed or injured in the 9/11 terror attacks, or in the subsequent rescue efforts, then 9/11 was at bottom a very disturbing thing that you saw (over and over again) on TV.

It didn't "change everything," and it didn't (and doesn't) justify the Iraq war, indiscriminate spying on Americans, extrajudicial renditions, torture, or any of the other immoral actions that continue to be done in its name.

It's high time to stop wallowing in our obsession with what is becoming the most overblown and shamelessly exploited event in American history.

go read the rest of it... it's well worthwhile...

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Brent Budowsky is wrong

brent budowsky wrote this for the hill and it was also posted on robert parry's consortium news site...
Dear Mr. Budowsky,

You wrote that:
Democrats need a Karl Rove, someone who can outline a grand vision and pursue it with the toughness, tenacity, courage, fearlessness and will to win that Rove possesses.

I am completely dumbfounded that you would even consider committing such words to print. Karl Rove is perhaps the purest embodiment of evil that has ever strutted across the American political stage, with the possible exception of Dick Cheney. NOBODY needs a Karl Rove.

Then we have this.
Democrats need what Americans want: a conviction politics that is principled, fearless and tenacious and projects confidence and strength to voters hungry for change.

The vision is clear: a realigning election in 2008 with a Democratic president and Democratic Congress to establish one of those great eras of American optimism and reform.

Making the assumption that those who currently purport to lead the Democratic party and/or who are putting themselves forward as presidential candidates are either capable or willing to do what is necessary to pull the United States out of the most serious threat ever to our constitutionally-based republic is a delusion that must be dispelled, for you, for me, and for everyone who believes in the promise of the United States.

Unless and until ANY candidate or ANY leader of ANY party is willing to stand up and call our constitutional crisis for what it is, issue a call to action for U.S. citizens, take forceful action to REMOVE the criminal members of the current administration IMMEDIATELY, and pledge to not only roll back but, via legislation, REPUDIATE all elements negating the separation of powers and the other vehicles designed to gain unlimited access to money and power that have been put in place, slowly and inexorably, since the Reagan administration, our country will NEVER again see "one of those great eras of American optimism and reform." And, it's a cinch we will NEVER see one of those eras with a Democratic Karl Rove leading the charge.

I have followed your writing, Mr. Budowsky, for a while now, and have mostly been impressed. I have also been pleased to see your affiliation with Robert Parry, for whom I have a great deal of respect. This piece, however, strikes precisely the wrong chord, and I come away deeply disappointed.

Best regards,

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the aclu will be running the following ad and would appreciate whatever support we can provide...

It’s bad enough Congressional leaders have failed to act to restore habeas corpus, end torture and rendition, and close Guantanamo. But now Congress, led by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, has caved in to Bush fear-mongering and expanded a warrantless spying program they should be investigating and ending.

When our leaders behave like sheep, their constituents need to know it.

if anything, the ad is too gentle...

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Everything's so secret, we don't even know our OWN NAMES!

not exactly, but we're getting there fast...
Lawyers for the Bush administration encountered a federal appeals court Wednesday that appeared deeply skeptical of a blanket claim that the government's surveillance efforts cannot be challenged in court because the litigation might reveal state secrets.


Deputy Solicitor General Gregory G. Garre was forced to mount a public argument that almost nothing about the substance of the government's conduct could be talked about in court because doing so might expose either the methods used in gathering intelligence or gaps in those methods.

think progress has compiled some of the astonished reactions of the three-judge panel...

The three judges on the court were unsatisfied with the argument, offering various stinging comments and rebuttals:

- “Is it the government’s position that when our country is engaged in a war that the power of the executive when it comes to wiretapping is unchecked?asked Pregerson.

- “This seems to put us in the ‘trust us’ category. ‘We don’t do it. Trust us. And don’t ask us about it,’said Judge M. Margaret McKeown.

- “Every ampersand, every comma is top-secret?” queried Judge Michael Daly Hawkins about a withheld document.

- “”Are you saying the courts are to rubber-stamp the determination of the executive of what’s a state secret? What’s our job?” asked Pregerson.

- “I feel like I’m in Alice and Wonderland,” observed McKeown.

When Deputy Solicitor General Greg Garre argued that “other avenues” than the court system were the proper forum for complaints about government surveillance, Pregerson shot back: “What is that? Impeachment?

this kind of administration nonsense simply cannot be allowed to stand... it's long past time to toss this kind of totalitarian approach into the trash where it belongs...

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Comunidades y Viviendas, Monologue 1

Following on from last night's post, what to do? Where to start? How to explain? How to proceed? Striving for clarity to all those questions can only lead me to mental paralysis, so I will simply jump in.

As absurdly obvious as it may sound, everybody lives somewhere. It is a fundamental fact of our existence and, globally, one we all have in common. Certainly, the circumstances and the definition of that “living” may vary dramatically, but, the fact remains, we all put our heads down to sleep, and that takes place most often at the place (or places) we live. From the homeless person and the nomad, to the super-rich world citizen, our perspective on life springs from where and how we live day-to-day. My theory, therefore, is simple. If we are going to change the world, we must start from where people live.

Let me quickly introduce another perspective. Human society and the dynamics of the world in which it exists are made up of an infinite number of nested and interrelated systems. A family is a system. A community is a system. Biology is a system. An organization is a system. The environment is a system. Politics is a system. A government is a system. The economy is a system. The planets and their movement around the sun is a system. I will talk at another time about the emerging field of complex adaptive systems, but, for now, it is sufficient to point out that all of these systems are interconnected, interdependent, seek to learn and grow, and that the behavior of one affects, often in non-linear and unexpected ways, the behavior of the others. It is impossible to effectively alter the dynamics of one system without considering the influence of related systems and, subsequently, impacting the dynamics of those systems.

If we are to focus on and change a core element of human existence, where and how people live, we must undertake that work from a systemic point of view. All of the systems that interrelate with that core system must be taken into account. That was the framework behind the visual I posted in my introduction to this concept last night. All of those components, and probably more that I failed to mention, are systems inextricably interrelated to where and how we live, what I have chosen to call “Comunidades y Viviendas.” If where and how we live is to change for the better, ALL of those systems MUST be taken into account, and not only taken into account, THEY must very likely be changed as well. We must insure that the changes in the core element of how and where we live are not ground into dust by leaving the systems that support it unaffected. At a later time, I will relate several stories from my past experience that clearly illustrate how that can happen and the tragedies that ensue when it does. I am sure many of you have similar stories and hope that you will take the opportunity to share them when we get to that point.

Before moving one step further, I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t point out that what I am proposing has enormous and potentially quite threatening implications for established systems. If people become truly empowered to take charge of where and how they live, there is NOTHING else that can remain unaffected. Economic and power structures, for instance, will be altered in dramatic ways. The flow of both will be reversed, flowing from the bottom up, rather than as they do now, from the top down. This, to me at least, implies that there must be a readiness for this kind of change, and, as I said in the introductory post, I am predicating my proposal on what I believe to be unexpected and dramatic events that will pave the way for work on these changes to begin in earnest. That said, I see absolutely no reason why planning for it should not begin now.

That takes me to the principal challenge I see moving forward. I have connections with gifted and enlightened people in many parts of the world who, if they were able to pursue this effort and sustain themselves and their own lives in the process, would drop everything to become part of it. When I say “sustain themselves and their own lives,” I mean precisely that. Most of us require a certain level of resources flowing into our lives in order to maintain needs, responsibilities and obligations, and we also have connections and roots that are neither easily nor lightly abandoned. That’s good. It’s all about where and how we live and no one should be asked to sacrifice that. However, these people, if we are to join together in such a grand project, must come together from time to time to develop and evolve the concept, and, after all, developing and evolving the concept is the first and the biggest piece of the work. What this points to is a basic requirement for seed money, money for two things: to support the lives of the initial, core team so that we can devote all of our energy to the work, and two, money to support the travel necessary to bring us together as needed. To my mind, the money would ideally be provided by an “angel,” a sole philanthropist who would underwrite the development, evolution and pilot execution of the concept until it can become self-sustainable, with no expectation of return, payback, profit or future rights. An impossible fantasy? Perhaps. I’m putting it out there nevertheless, because I know from experience, you don’t get if you don’t ask.

I’ll expand on some of these initial thoughts in future posts. In the meantime, I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Moving in a new direction

i've been somewhat public in my recent angst over the direction of this blog (here and here)... some of my fellow bloggers have been most supportive (here, here, here, here and here)...

i had a brainstorm yesterday morning as i was drifting in and out of sleep prior to getting out of bed... i won't bore you with the details or the long story that led up to that neuro-meteorological event, but i will attempt to pique your curiosity just a bit...

if, as i believe, things are going to take an unexpected and dramatic turn for the better (no prediction on timeline here), we - and i'm speaking in global terms when i say "we" - are going to need a model for an entirely new way to live together... as a professional devoted to large system design and leadership, i think i have something to contribute to such a noble effort...

so what i intend to do is, in addition to the already-established direction of this blog, toss out some of my thinking related to community-building, people-powered governance and leadership, and how to go about designing systems to accommodate both... it goes without saying that i invite anyone who thinks they can add something to such thinking to do so...

for starters, let me introduce a visual of the macro concept which, in honor of my respect for latin american culture, i have christened "comunidades y viviendas," literally translated as "communities and dwellings..."

stay tuned...

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A message to Bill Richardson, a democratic presidential candidate

another day, another fund-raising appeal, another response, this time to dave contarino, campaign manager, richardson for president...
Mr. Contarino,

Unless and until ANY presidential candidate of ANY party summons the huevos to stand up and speak out against the assault on the United States Constitution that has been waged by administrations of BOTH parties for decades and has now reached its appalling zenith with the Bush administration, I will withhold my support, both financial and otherwise. This speaking out is essential for our constitutionally-based republic to survive, and must encompass several elements.

First, of course, the candidate must call the public's attention to the critical state of the nation at present - the separation of powers neutered, executive power run amok, money shamelessly flowing to political and business cronies, a disastrous war based on utter lies, civil liberties shredded, "enhanced interrogation techniques" as a euphemism for torture, the elimination of habeas and any semblance of due process, secret prisons, warrantless surveillance, search and seizure in direct violation of the 4th Amendment - the list is too long to enumerate here.

Second, the candidate must issue a call to action. Citizens can not afford to sit idly by while their country is turned into a fascist state. People must be given a course of positive, constructive action, things that can be done NOW, while we still have time. This would logically include removing the current administration from office and placing a caretaker government in charge until the election can be held in November of next year.

Third, the candidate must pledge to roll back all the levers of unfettered power put in place by the Bush and previous administrations. In fact, a pledge to roll back is insufficient. The candidate must REPUDIATE such actions and offer concrete proposals for how our Constitution can be preserved in the future once he or she takes office.

This is extremely serious business, Mr. Contarino, and there is not a moment to lose. Your politics-as-usual fund-raising appeal on behalf of Governor Richardson is woefully inadequate when placed against what our country is facing. Should Governor Richardson choose to make facing our constitutional crisis part of his campaign, feel free to contact me once again to request my support.

Best regards,

like it will make the slightest bit of difference...

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"If Powell remains silent in September it will be his last act of acquiescence as a spectral being"

sidney blumenthal chronicles colin powell's step-by-step descent into ignominy and offers a prescription for partial redemption...
[A]s General David Petraeus prepares to deliver his report in September on the "surge" in Iraq, he is elevated into the ultimate reliable source, just as former secretary of state Colin Powell's sterling reputation was exploited for his delivery of the case for invasion before the United Nations Security Council on 5 February 2003 (a date that will live in mendacity, for every statement he made was later revealed to be false; Powell regretted publicly that it was an everlasting "blot" on his good name.)


Throughout the excruciating years of his slow destruction, no one served Powell less ably than Powell. To the degree that his abusers and tormentors may be haunted, he is more haunted. Powell's aides are now on the frontline of criticism against the administration, while he obviously simmers, pretending to be happily retired.


Notwithstanding his tarnished reputation, he has a final chance to regain his dignity and at least some of his previous standing by stepping forward at the crucial hour. Does he accept his marginalisation as permanent?


[I]n September, Bush will attempt to impose his endgame for Iraq, a continuation of his policy, until he hands off the disaster to his successor. Petraeus is Bush's agent, just as Powell had been. Bush and his White House dread the "mockery" of Powell's "horrible shadow". If Powell remains silent in September it will be his last act of acquiescence as a spectral being.

even though i harbor deep, deep resentment toward colin powell for not speaking out when it was his constitutionally-sworn duty to do so, i still see him as a noble, albeit tragic, figure... his stepping forward, while it wouldn't completely erase his past, sad performance, would certainly go a long way toward rehabilitating his image in my mind... it's never too late to do the right thing...

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Slipping Iran under the AUMF

i just KNEW there was something extra super-fishy about the u.s. deciding "to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a 'specially designated global terrorist'," and, by golly, so there is...
Here's what it means on the surface, that U.S. -- which increasingly blames Iran for terrorist meddling in Iraq and Afghanistan -- can try to go after those who do business with the Iranian military unit. Still, it's clearly not a normal move -- the first time that a government military has received this terrorist designation -- something that's usually reserved for non-state actors like al-Qaeda. And so no one seems sure what this morning what the concrete impact of this unexpected move will be.

Nowhere yet have I seen what it seems clear Bush's Iran move is really all about.

The White House hawks in Dick Cheney's office and elsewhere who want to stage an attack on Iran are clearly winning the internal power stuggle. And an often overlooked sub-plot on the long road toward war with Tehran is this: How could Bush stage an attack on Iran without the authorization of a skeptical, Democratic Congress?

Today, the White House has solved that pesky problem in one fell swoop. By explicitly linking the Iranian elite guard into the post 9/11 "global war on terror" in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush's lawyers would certainly now argue that any military strike on Iran is now covered by the October 2002 authorization to use military force in Iraq, as part of their overly sweeping response to the 2001 attacks.

This has clearly been the thinking for some time, particularly with talk -- unfulfilled, of course -- by some Democrats on Capitol Hill of either revoking the 2002 authorization or placing explicit curbs on attacking Iran.

In fact, concern that Bush would seek to tie a new war in Iran to the 2002 authorization is exactly what was on the mind of Va. Sen. Jim Webb when he sought legislation in March to bar any funding for a strike on the Tehran regime:
Webb told FOX News last week that his concern came about when he compared the 2002 authorization to go to war in Iraq with the presidential signing statement accompanying it clarifying prerogatives the administration deemed permissible under the authorization.

He said the ambiguity in the signing statement leaves room for the president to interpret the authorization as authorizing war with Iran. And, Webb said, according to the signing statement, the president retains the right to take military action "to respond to threats against American military interests."

oh my dear freakin' lord... that bunch has GOTTA go... while the media and the blogosphere natters on about the departure of the dark lord, karl rove, darth is rubbing his hands in glee over the next phase of his plan for taking over the world... probably, last evening, james woolsey went right from cheney's office to cnn's studios...
During an appearance on CNN’s Lou Dobbs last night, former CIA director James Woolsey, one of the earliest advocates of invading Iraq, claimed that Iran “could have” a nuclear bomb in “a few months.”

“The Iranians continue to work on getting enriched uranium,” said Woolsey. “I’m afraid within, well, at worst, a few months; at best, a few years; they could have a bomb.”

hey, terrific... nothing like a new war to give those old tv ratings a boost...

(thanks to atrios...)

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Has the APA seen the light?

so, how long has it been since torture was "outed" as a u.s. interrogation practice...? visibly, publicly...? since 2003 at least...
The American Psychological Association, the world's largest professional organization of psychologists, is poised to issue a formal condemnation of a raft of notorious interrogation tactics employed by U.S. authorities against detainees during the so-called war on terror, from simulated drowning to sensory deprivation. The move is expected during the APA's annual convention in San Francisco this weekend.

The APA's anti-torture resolution follows a string of revelations in recent months of the key role played by psychologists in the development of brutal interrogation regimes for the CIA and the military. And it comes just weeks after news that the White House may be calling on psychologists once again: On July 20, President Bush signed an executive order restarting a coercive CIA interrogation program at the agency's "black sites." Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell has indicated that psychological techniques will be part of the revamped program, but that the interrogations would be subject to careful medical oversight. That oversight is likely to be performed by psychologists.

this is long overdue… the apa has lagged behind their colleagues at the ama in condemning the practice of government using its members to craft more effective “enhanced interrogation techniques…” the apa should be ashamed that it’s taken them this long to take a stand…

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Rest easy. Your government has things well in hand.

i posted last thursday on the broadening of surveillance technology to include visual data gathered from the national geospatial-intelligence agency (nga)... here's some more from today's wsj... (an interesting sidenote... nowhere in the article is the nga mentioned...)
The U.S.'s top intelligence official has greatly expanded the range of federal and local authorities who can get access to information from the nation's vast network of spy satellites in the U.S.

The decision, made three months ago by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell, places for the first time some of the U.S.'s most powerful intelligence-gathering tools at the disposal of domestic security officials. The move was authorized in a May 25 memo sent to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff asking his department to facilitate access to the spy network on behalf of civilian agencies and law enforcement.

and so, constant reader, let's take a look behind door number three and see what you've won...
According to defense experts, MASINT [Measurement and Signatures Intelligence] uses radar, lasers, infrared, electromagnetic data and other technologies to see through cloud cover, forest canopies and even concrete to create images or gather data.

The spy satellites are considered by military experts to be more penetrating than civilian ones: They not only take color, as well as black-and-white photos, but can also use different parts of the light spectrum to track human activities, including, for example, traces left by chemical weapons or heat generated by people in a building.

well, that's certainly exciting...! but, you might ask, what's the legal basis and what will be the oversight...?
Unlike electronic eavesdropping, which is subject to legislative and some judicial control, this use of spy satellites is largely uncharted territory. Although the courts have permitted warrantless aerial searches of private property by law-enforcement aircraft, there are no cases involving the use of satellite technology.

pay no attention to that complete lie about electronic eavesdropping being "subject to legislative and 'some' [quotes added] judicial control..." is there ANYTHING we can learn about it to find out if it IS legal...? can ANYBODY check it out...?
The full capabilities of these systems are unknown outside the intelligence community, because they are among the most closely held secrets in government.

oh, well then, evidently not... so, who will be in charge of making sure our civil liberties are protected...?
Access to the satellite surveillance will be controlled by a new Homeland Security branch -- the National Applications Office -- which will be up and running in October.


"This all has to be vetted through a legal process," [Charles Allen, the DHS's chief intelligence officer] says. "We have to get this right because we don't want civil-rights and civil-liberties advocates to have concerns that this is being misused in ways which were not intended."

oh, heavens no...! those pesky civil-liberties advocates and their damn constitution...! we should all be vastly relieved to know that an unimpeachable (pun intended) repository of citizen trust, the executive branch, will keep an eye out to make sure all is copacetic... and, really, a concern like the following is so trivial that it's hardly worth mentioning...
In recent years, some military experts have questioned whether domestic use of such satellites would violate the Posse Comitatus Act. The act bars the military from engaging in law-enforcement activity inside the U.S., and the satellites were predominantly built for and owned by the Defense Department.

there now... rest easy... your government has things well in hand...

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"Rove's saga is a rags-to-riches success story of a political serial killer"

check out sidney blumenthal in salon...

a teaser...

While [Rove] is acclaimed as a political strategist, his true innovation was in governing. He sought to subordinate the entire federal government to his goal of creating a permanent Republican majority. Every department and agency has been subject to an intense and thorough politicization. Indeed, Rove's ambitious plan was tantamount to a proto-Sovietization. Even science has been suppressed in the name of the party line, recalling the Lysenko episode. Cheney and Rove acted as the pincers of the unitary executive. While Cheney sought to concentrate unaccountable power in the presidency, Rove brought down the anvil of politics on the professional career staff.

dick and karl... what a team...!

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Robert Parry on the "Protect America Act of 2007"

god, ya gotta love the choice of words... the more i see the "Protect America Act," the more i wanna heave my guts out... when, fercryinoutloud, are we gonna get rid of this bunch...? my preference would be for some time PRIOR to the complete gutting of the united states constitution and the full establishment of a fascist state...
U.S. news reports mostly parroted the White House claim that the law “modernizes” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance of 1978 and “narrowly” targets overseas terror suspects who call or e-mail their contacts in the United States. But the “Protect America Act of 2007” actually casts the wiretapping net much wider.

The law applies not just to terror suspects abroad who might communicate with Americans at home, but to anyone who is “reasonably believed to be outside the United States” and who might possess “foreign intelligence information,” defined as anything that could be useful to U.S. foreign policy.

That means that almost any American engaged in international commerce or dealing with foreign issues – say, a businessman in touch with a foreign subsidiary or a U.S. reporter sending an overseas story back to his newspaper – is vulnerable to warrantless intercepts approved on the say-so of two Bush subordinates, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell.

Beyond the breathtaking scope of this new authority, the Bush administration also snuck in a clause that grants immunity from lawsuits to communications service providers that comply with spying directives from Gonzales and McConnell.


Though getting almost no attention in the U.S. press coverage, the immunity paragraph reads: “Notwithstanding any other law, no cause of action shall lie in any court against any person for providing any information, facilities, or assistance in accordance with a directive under this section.”

In other words, U.S. citizens, who believe that warrantless surveillance has violated their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure, will have no legal recourse against the service provider that collaborated with the government.

This immunity provision is important, too, because the only meaningful safeguard against abuse of the new spying power was that service providers could challenge a wiretap directive through a secret court proceeding.


The Bush administration’s goal was to scoop up any information that might be interesting to the intelligence community, not just what was needed to protect the nation from a terrorist attack.

It’s also unclear what restrictions apply to the year-long surveillance directives if the target enters – or reenters – the United States. Under the law as written, there’s no indication that the service provider must be notified that the 12-month order should be suspended if the target steps onto U.S. territory.

Conceivably, therefore, a directive aimed at an American traveling overseas might stay in effect after the target returned home, with the service provider continuing to give the National Security Agency access to the target’s phone calls and e-mails.

good news for those of us who spend a great deal of time outside of the united states... of course, after the warrantless seizure of my laptop, cd's, dvd's, digital camera and flash memory while coming through u.s. customs upon returning to the u.s. a little over a year ago, and not returning them for over three weeks, i suppose i should just prepare myself, eh...?

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A follow-up on La Oroya, Peru, Doe Run and Renco Group

back in mid-june, i posted on doe run, a subsidiary of renco group... doe run is a precious metals company based in st. louis, with an operation in la oroya, peru... it wasn't a particularly uplifting story, but nevertheless exemplified what many companies do when operating in a country and a regulatory environment where there is little to no accountability...

some key points - and photos - from that post, courtesy of the la times...

* In 2006, the Blacksmith Institute, a New York-based environmental advocacy group, named La Oroya among the world's 10 most-polluted places, a list that includes Chernobyl, Ukraine.

* In children, a [blood-lead reading of] 10 micrograms a deciliter, is considered elevated by the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Officials at Doe Run acknowledge that almost every child tested in the Old Town has a blood-lead reading at least double that level.

* A St. Louis University research team said La Oroya faces a "daily toxic cocktail" and labeled the situation "an environmental health crisis."

Decades of toxic emissions have robbed the nearby mountains of vegetation

(L) Men and women scrub down a street in La Oroya to wash away lead and other contaminants spewed from the smelter.
(R) Crispin Huaroc, 63, wears rubber gloves as he cleans masks used at the smelter, where he has worked for 37 years.

from ips, there's this...
Far from halting the source that is poisoning the Andean city of La Oroya, which is home to the Doe Run smelting complex, the Peruvian government ordered a contingency plan for the days when air pollution is worst, as if it were dealing with a natural disaster.


The plan is the result of two years of debates involving citizen groups, non-governmental organisations and the state agencies in charge of carrying it out, as well as representatives of the company, which will provide much of the financing.


The degree of alert will be determined based on air quality and weather forecasts unfavourable to dispersal of the gases and particulates away from the city, such as lower temperatures and lack of wind. But none of the three levels entails ceasing operations at the smelting plant, [Carlos Rojas, regional coordinator of the government's national environmental council, CONAM] said.

Once a state of alert is ordered, it will be recommended that the most vulnerable -- children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses -- should not be outdoors between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm local time, the worst period of the day for exposure.

Doors and windows of homes, schools and hospitals should be closed, and food sold on the street should be covered.

The population in general should cover mouth and nose with scarves and handkerchiefs when outside. The idea of facemasks was ruled out because "people don't want images that further dramatise the situation," said Rojas.

so, don't reduce the pollution, just stay inside while THIS continues...
The Doe Run complex's main chimney emits an average of 1.5 tonnes of lead and 810 tonnes of sulphur dioxide every 24 hours -- more than four times the maximum allowed under Peruvian legislation, which is 175 tonnes per day of sulphur dioxide, according to the Ministry of Energy and Mines.

The same day that CONAM approved the plan, the level of sulphur dioxide recorded over the course of three hours was 12,000 micrograms of sulphur dioxide per cubic metre of air, when the air quality standard only allows 364 micrograms.

Tests also found 330 micrograms per cubic metre of air a composite that includes lead, cadmium and arsenic -- twice the level allowed under air quality standards.


[A]ccording to CONAM, the emission of this toxic agent is a matter of concern. If the contingency plan were CONAM already in place, a state of emergency would have been declared 183 days so far this year.

hell, they're just peasants in peru... screw 'em...

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Cheney goes down

well, THIS made my morning...!

(thanks to raw story...)

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The Turdblossom Gets Flushed

Finally, the Turdblossom is the latest to go down the toilet.

Wapo has the full report.

Karl Rove, the architect of President Bush's two national campaigns and his most prominent adviser through 6-1/2 tumultuous years in theWhite House, will resign at month's end and leave politics, a White House spokeswoman said this morning.


The White House said his departure was unrelated to the investigations. In an interview published this morning, Rove told Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul A. Gigot that he had been interested in leaving last year but did not want to go immediately after the Democrats took over Congress, nor did he want to abandon Bush as he fought for his troop buildup in Iraq and an immigration overhaul.

And the spin is still spinning............

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Well, well, well... Satan resigns...? Pardon me if I'm skeptical.

i don't know what to make of this, quite honestly, except to say that something seems extremely fishy...
Karl Rove, the architect of President Bush's two national campaigns and his most prominent adviser through 6-1/2 tumultuous years in the White House, will resign at month's end and leave politics, a White House spokeswoman said this morning.

Bush plans to make a statement with Rove on the South Lawn this morning before the president departs for his ranch near Crawford, Tex. Rove, who holds the titles of deputy chief of staff and senior adviser, has been talking about finding the right time to depart for a year, colleagues said, and decided he had to either leave now or remain through the end of the presidency.

"Obviously it's a big loss to us," White House spokeswoman Dana M. Perino said this morning. "He's a great colleague, a good friend, and a brilliant mind. He will be greatly missed. But we know he wouldn't be going if he wasn't sure this was the right time to be giving more to his family, his wife Darby and their son. He will continue to be one of the president's greatest friends."

the "more time with family" meme is one of the bigger piles of doggie-doo that continues to be heaped on the gullible public, and, in rove's case, is about as phony as a three-dollar bill...

here's one view from a commenter on the wapo news alert article...

For one of the most powerful men in the world to walk away from this position in such short order, a mere 18 days, means that there truly is something coming on down the pike. There is about to occur an event or action, which even Rove won't be a party to. Such a sudden departure, when Bush has such little time left to serve, has President Cheney's stench all about it. Reading the President's under-reported directive on establishing martial law and suspending the Constitution; in light of the strengthened Patriot Act and increased domestic surveillance legislation; and the several completed military plans enabling a military take-over of state and local government makes for an alarming future. Why would all this exist if not to be used? All it takes is one incident to make the country willing to trade the Constitution for security. Maybe, this either goes too far for Rove or he's an impediment to Cheney. This is not a simple resignation.

i would tend to agree with the thought that something big is coming down the pike, but i wouldn't venture to speculate on what it might be...

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"Thou shalt not kill........

........Unless it maketh thee a profit"
Exodus 20:13 NERV (Neo-conservative Evangelical Revised Version)

I am a man who stands firm and secure in his faith. Those that know me, either personally, or by my writings, are aware that I am NOT a proselytizer. It matters not, to me, if you are a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, etc. I try (tho' I sometimes fail) to show MY faith by my works, deeds, and actions. I make an honest attempt to treat everyone with love, understanding, compassion, and respect. I strive hard, to be the embodiment of my teacher, Jesus, the Christ.

If some people have a propensity for iniquity; to kill, commit adultry, covet another's resources (like oil and water), or lie through their teeth with unabashed shame, I can understand and live with it. However, don't insult my intelligence by claiming to be a Christian, when your actions speak otherwise. It not only denigrates Christianity, but also my opinion of you. Jesus (the One you claim to follow) taught: "Ye shall know them by their fruits".

The title and lead-in are pure snark, as you may have guessed. ALL versions of this scripture are short, and to the point: Thou shalt not kill. The word, 'kill', is translated from the Hebrew, ratsach, meaning, 'to kill, murder, slay'. To take an innocent life. When God inspired those words, He made no caveats. He didn't say, "If you THINK someone MIGHT try to kill you, then kill them first". Calling it 'collateral damage', or a 'cost of war',is nowhere to be found. Neither is 'beyond reasonable doubt', in defense of capital punishment; for by who's standard of reasonable do we apply? We are but mere mortal humans, and it is a proven fact that we are definately not infallible. Death is final. It is one of the few things that are irreversable. You can't get a 'Mulligan' on death. All life is precious, it is a gift from the Creator; it should not be taken by mortal men, nor by the evil governments they have formed.

It never ceases to amaze (and sicken) me, to hear the Republican mantra of 'The Sanctity of Life'. They are pro-life only in regards to abortion, embryonic stem cell research (I still fail to understand THAT one), or Terri Schiavo. They seem to have no problem letting people die for lack of healthcare or from poverty. They seem also, to love sending our young soldiers and civilian contractors into an illegal, un-Godly, immoral war; knowing full-well that thousands will never return alive. The present leadership of this country is a disgusting disgrace at best, and despicably hypocritical at worse. This current band of criminals running our government, the chicken-hawk war-mongers, were afraid to serve in the military themselves, and went to great lengths to avoid service. How can they command people to do something that they, themselves, were/are too scared to do? Have these people no conscience whatsoever? How do they sleep at night?

George W. Bush is arguably the most hypocritical of all. As Governor of Texas, he refused to commute Carla Faye Tucker's death sentence to life without parole. It was universally acknowledged that Carla Faye was a changed person, making a positive impact on many lives, even as she sat on death row. Even the Pope had tried to make intercession on her behalf. And what did Bush do? He made jokes and snide remarks about her execution. He stated he would not interfere with a jury's decision. Yet, he had the unmitigated gall to overturn 'Scooter' Libby's judge and jury, by saying he felt the sentence was 'too harsh'. Say whaaaaaat?????? Three years in a Federal Country Club for Libby is harsher than death for Tucker? To paraphrase Yakov Smirnoff: "Wow, what a Christian!"

What has this once-great nation become? The Republican's lies and deceit have apparently paralyzed the Democrats as well, as they refuse to put the brakes on this runaway freight train disguised as the Executive Branch. What, exactly, are they afraid of? Not getting the support of the 20% that is Bush's base? What about the other 80% of us?

I will continue to bang the drum, sound the trumpet, and beat the dead horse; but I believe we may have already crossed over the threshold, the point of no return. The Neo-cons, Republican and Democrat alike, are willing to kill anything, or anybody, that stands in their way. This includes the country that birthed them, and the Constitution it was founded on.

How, in God's name, can these people have the audacity to call themselves 'Christian'? That is ludicrous, absurd, and down-right farcical, and I might add, sacrilegious and blasphemous, too.

As Jesus (remember Him?) said, "Many are called, but few are chosen".

That's my opinion. What say y'all?

(Graphic courtesy of Jolly Roger @ Reconstitution 2.0)

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday photoblogging leftover from Saturday: Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur

i was able to capture this short video clip yesterday of an unknown type of bird, cheerfully warbling in the Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur, along the Rio de la Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina...

not being a bird-watcher, bonus points for anybody who can tell me what kind of bird that is...

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Follow-up on the Center for Constitutional Rights suit against warrantless surveillance

i posted on the ccr suit on friday and this move by bushco is no surprise...
Four days after President Bush signed controversial legislation legalizing some warrantless surveillance of Americans, the administration is citing the law in a surprise motion today urging a federal judge to dismisss a lawsuit challenging the NSA spy program.


Justice Department lawyers are asking (.pdf) U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to toss the case, citing the new law -- which says warrantless surveillance can continue for up to a year so long as one person in the intercepted communications is reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States.


The government said the new Protect America Act of 2007 requires the government to notify the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court "as soon as practicable" when somebody is being spied upon, but does not require its immediate authorization.

The government has maintained all along that electronic eavesdropping was legal, and said the newest legislation provides "an additional basis for dismissal."

The Center for Constitutional Rights, the plaintif in the lawsuit, is expected to argue today that the new law violates the Fourth Amendment's requirement that judges approve warrants for surveillance.

more to come, no doubt...

(thanks to cryptogon...)

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Opus on polls

do yourself a favor and check out the current opus in salon...

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