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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 08/19/2007 - 08/26/2007
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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Iraqi History

Check out this article on Iraqi history at
The Information Clearing House.
It gives a good example of Western folly in that region. As the author points out, it would be nice if we in the west would try to learn about a region before we attack it. Of course, we would have invaded anyway, but understanding the history of that region may point towards real solutions to our current crisis.

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"How do you screw the taxpayer for millions?"

well, golly gee, rolling stone has the "screwing the taxpayers for millions for dummies" run-down... i must have missed this boat when it came in... i wuz probably at the airport...
The Great Iraq Swindle

How is it done? How do you screw the taxpayer for millions, get away with it and then ride off into the sunset with one middle finger extended, the other wrapped around a chilled martini?


Operation Iraqi Freedom, it turns out, was never a war against Saddam ­Hussein's Iraq. It was an invasion of the federal budget, and no occupying force in history has ever been this efficient. George W. Bush's war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity -- to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they fuck things up.

it's a long article detailing just exactly how the money makes its way out of our pockets and into the pockets of those who who make up the corporate war industry...

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Aaron Russo:
February 14, 1943 - August 24, 2007

A successful producer, club owner, and political activist has passed away.

Visit Wikipedia for more on this talented guy.

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"Any military which can claim ... that al-Qa'ida is on the run is not capable of carrying out anything on the scale of 9/11"

robert fisk writes in the independent, for which he works as the middle east correspondent...
My final argument – a clincher, in my view – is that the Bush administration has screwed up everything – militarily, politically diplomatically – it has tried to do in the Middle East; so how on earth could it successfully bring off the international crimes against humanity in the United States on 11 September 2001?

ah... but wait... there's more...
I am increasingly troubled at the inconsistencies in the official narrative of 9/11. It's not just the obvious non sequiturs: where are the aircraft parts (engines, etc) from the attack on the Pentagon? Why have the officials involved in the United 93 flight (which crashed in Pennsylvania) been muzzled? Why did flight 93's debris spread over miles when it was supposed to have crashed in one piece in a field? Again, I'm not talking about the crazed "research" of David Icke's Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Center Disaster – which should send any sane man back to reading the telephone directory.

I am talking about scientific issues. If it is true, for example, that kerosene burns at 820C under optimum conditions, how come the steel beams of the twin towers – whose melting point is supposed to be about 1,480C – would snap through at the same time? (They collapsed in 8.1 and 10 seconds.) What about the third tower – the so-called World Trade Centre Building 7 (or the Salmon Brothers Building) – which collapsed in 6.6 seconds in its own footprint at 5.20pm on 11 September? Why did it so neatly fall to the ground when no aircraft had hit it? The American National Institute of Standards and Technology was instructed to analyse the cause of the destruction of all three buildings. They have not yet reported on WTC 7. Two prominent American professors of mechanical engineering – very definitely not in the "raver" bracket – are now legally challenging the terms of reference of this final report on the grounds that it could be "fraudulent or deceptive".

Journalistically, there were many odd things about 9/11. Initial reports of reporters that they heard "explosions" in the towers – which could well have been the beams cracking – are easy to dismiss. Less so the report that the body of a female air crew member was found in a Manhattan street with her hands bound. OK, so let's claim that was just hearsay reporting at the time, just as the CIA's list of Arab suicide-hijackers, which included three men who were – and still are – very much alive and living in the Middle East, was an initial intelligence error.

But what about the weird letter allegedly written by Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian hijacker-murderer with the spooky face, whose "Islamic" advice to his gruesome comrades – released by the CIA – mystified every Muslim friend I know in the Middle East? Atta mentioned his family – which no Muslim, however ill-taught, would be likely to include in such a prayer. He reminds his comrades-in-murder to say the first Muslim prayer of the day and then goes on to quote from it. But no Muslim would need such a reminder – let alone expect the text of the "Fajr" prayer to be included in Atta's letter.

Let me repeat. I am not a conspiracy theorist. Spare me the ravers. Spare me the plots. But like everyone else, I would like to know the full story of 9/11, not least because it was the trigger for the whole lunatic, meretricious "war on terror" which has led us to disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan and in much of the Middle East. Bush's happily departed adviser Karl Rove once said that "we're an empire now – we create our own reality". True? At least tell us.

do ya suppose serious journalism folks are starting to pay attention...?

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Philip Zelikow, Bushco, Iraq and Ayad Allwai: unparalleled, in-your-face corruption

just another day for those intent on making sure the power and money continue to flow into their hands and those of their fellow criminals...

glenn greenwald...

Over the past several weeks, there has arisen a palpable and coordinated shift among the Washington establishment to blame Iraq's problems on Prime Minister Maliki and to suggest that salvation lies in his replacement. The only real alternative ever identified is former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.


Allawi hires the most powerful GOP firm in the country, with former top Bush officials as partners, and almost immediately, the key Op-Ed pages of our nation's newspapers open up to him and all of official Washington, beginning with the President, changes course. Suddenly, key figures in both parties begin calling for Maliki to be replaced.

Most extraordinary of all is how deceitful this whole process is. As CNN reports: "The lobbying firm boasts the services of two onetime foreign policy hands of President Bush: Ambassador Robert Blackwill, the former Deputy National Security Adviser, and Philip Zelikow, former counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

But currently, Zelikow in particular runs around Washington holding himself out -- and being held out -- as an Expert on the Future of Iraq while concealing that his firm is being paid by Allawi to undermine Maliki.


The whole media/Beltway edifice is built on this rotating, interconnected filth. But this case is so egregious. One of Washington's Most Respected National Security Experts, key Rice advisor (and 9/11 Commission Executive Director) Philip Zelikow, is running around Washington trying to engineer the fall of the Iraqi government -- testifying at Congressional hearings and appearing on network news programs, perhaps even working officially again for the Bush administration -- all while being fraudulently held out as an objective expert and concealing that he is being paid by the prime beneficiary of these policies.

knowing what we already know about our government and both of our political parties, the biggest surprise would be if something like this WASN'T happening...

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Will Durst on Karl Rove: "Proof that Satan and the Pillsbury Doughboy had more than just a passing acquaintance”

from the nyt...
[T]he crowning moment is likely to remain intact.

It comes at the end and ties the package together, making it a show rather than just a stand-up comedy routine: a tirade of adjectives that will have any Bush loyalists who accidentally wandered into the room under their seats, and everyone else out of theirs, cheering.

here's a video clip - thanks to alternet - of what they're talking about...

i haven't seen such verbal agility since the old fedex commercial...

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Everything's going so well in Iraq

kevin drum compiles a few stats from the brookings institution iraq index... brookings, btw, is where michael o'hanlon and kenneth pollack, shameless bush surge defenders, work... (see here and here...)

Violence Metrics




Iraqi Military and Police Killed



Up 23%

Multiple Fatality Bombings



Down 25%

# Killed in Mult. Fatality Bombings



Up 19%

Iraqi Civilians Killed
(All violent causes)



Hard to say1

U.S. Troop Fatalities



Up 80%

U.S. Troops Wounded



Up 45%

Size of Insurgency



Up ~250%

Attacks on Oil and Gas Pipelines



Up 75%

1Methodology changed dramatically between 2006 and 2007, so numbers are highly suspect.
2Number is for March 2007.
3Numbers are for June only. No July numbers are available.

Infrastructure Metrics




Diesel Fuel Available

26.7 Ml

20.7 Ml

Down 22%

Kerosene Available

7.08 Ml

6.3 Ml

Down 11%

Gasoline Available

29.4 Ml

22.2 Ml

Down 24%

LPG Available

4,936 tons

4,932 tons

Down 0.1%

Electricity Generated

8,800 Mwatts

8,420 Mwatts

Down 4%

Hours Electricity Per Day



Down ~14%

4No numbers available for June/July. Figure is extrapolated from May and August numbers.

things are going smashingly well, i'd say...

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How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

that was one of the dumb questions catholic kids used to ask the good nuns in their catechism classes back when i was a nipper, a question that turned into a cliche, exemplifying the anal-retentive lengths catholic doctrine in the 50s would go to trying to define everything to within a gnat's ass... browsing around on news sites and weblogs (as is my custom of a morning when i'm not gainfully employed), i'm reminded of that cliche as i read story after story, article after article, post after post (full disclosure: some of them mine), focusing on minute details of the latest media, pundit, congressional, talking head and/or bushco outrage, while ignoring the obvious bigger picture... like what, you say...? i'm glad you asked...

  • our political system is broken and nothing less than a complete overhaul is going to fix it
  • the 2008 election will change nothing
  • both the republican and the democratic parties are riddled through with slaves to money and power, bought and paid for by the super-rich elites who call the shots in the united states and most of the rest of the world
  • those same super-rich elites maintain themselves by reaping massive profits from war, death and destruction, and have no incentive or intent to seek world peace
  • those same elites control most of the world's economic system and have no incentive or intent to alleviate or eliminate poverty
  • the united states is poised on the brink of a complete authoritarian, fascist shut-down, with the stage set and all the mechanisms in place to accomplish that as soon as the proper trigger is pulled
  • each day george bush and his administration remain in power is one step closer to that brink
  • there will be an attack by the united states on iran
  • there will be no pull-out from iraq, there will be no shut-down of the permanent military bases, the massive new embassy complex in baghdad will not be vacated or left half-empty
  • congress will not reclaim its rightful power as spelled out in the constitution
  • the united states constitution will be reduced to an interesting historical document
  • the middle class in the united states and other developed countries will cease to exist
all of the above are predicated on one simple assumption: that the current situation is allowed to stand...

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"Government lawbreaking has become formally legitimized"

i posted yesterday on mcconnell's interview... glenn greenwald has some thoughts of his own...
McConnell clearly described that in 1978, we enacted a law prohibiting warrantless eavesdropping; the Bush administration broke that law repeatedly; and the telecommunications companies actively participated in that lawbreaking. And now -- as a matter of national security -- the Bush administration is demanding that Congress pass a new law declaring that telecom companies are immune from any and all consequences -- both civil and criminal -- in the event they are found to have violated the law. It is hard to imagine open contempt for the rule of law being expressed more explicitly than this.

What possible reason is there to protect anyone -- including telecom companies -- with a special law enacted to declare that they are relieved of all accountability for illegal behavior? And the premise of this argument is even more dangerous than the conclusion: it is all premised on the claim that these companies were only acting at the behest of George Bush, and therefore were entitled, even obligated, to do what they did. In other words, the President has the power to order private actors to break the law and when those orders are obeyed, the private actors are immune from the consequences of their lawbreaking, because they acted at the Leader's behest.

That government officials like McConnell feel so comfortable openly admitting that the government broke the law, obtaining amendments to legalize that behavior after the fact, and then demanding immunity for the lawbreakers, demonstrates how severely the rule of law has been eroded over the last six years. It is not hyperbole to say that government lawbreaking has become formally legitimized.

the entire article is well-worth reading, particularly UPDATE II at the bottom, where glenn excerpts tim shorrock's earlier salon article that details mcconnell's extensive contacts within the defense telecommunications industry he developed as director of defense programs at booz allen...

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DOJ: let's make it an even dozen

next milestone...? a baker's dozen...
The head of the Justice Department's embattled Civil Rights Division is to resign at the end of August, officials said yesterday, making him the latest in a series of senior political appointees to leave the agency amid continued controversy over Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

Wan J. Kim, the assistant attorney general for civil rights since November 2005, has been closely questioned by congressional Democrats about the administration's policy decisions and allegations by former career officials of improper hiring within the division, mostly under his predecessor.

Kim is set to join nearly a dozen other senior Justice Department officials and aides who have resigned this year.

the head of the snake still survives, poisonous and deadly...

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Great! Let's see just how much more carnage we can create with weapons of unimaginable horror

oh, god... you may not want to read this... you may be particularly sorry you did when you find out that this article came out in 2005 and that the weapon described therein was used in the assault on fallujah...

the following is from defense tech and presents the technology and destructive power of the weapon...

War is hell. But it’s worse when the Marines bring out their new urban combat weapon, the SMAW-NE. Which may be why they’re not talking about it, much.

This is a version of the standard USMC Shoulder Mounted Assault Weapon but with a new warhead. Described as NE - "Novel Explosive"- it is a thermobaric mixture which ignites the air, producing a shockwave of unparalleled destructive power, especially against buildings.

A post-action report from Iraq describes the effect of the new weapon: "One unit disintegrated a large one-storey masonry type building with one round from 100 meters. They were extremely impressed." Elsewhere it is described by one Marine as "an awesome piece of ordnance."

It proved highly effective in the battle for Fallujah. This from the Marine Corps Gazette, July edition: "SMAW gunners became expert at determining which wall to shoot to cause the roof to collapse and crush the insurgents fortified inside interior rooms."

The NE round is supposed to be capable of going through a brick wall, but in practice gunners had to fire through a window or make a hole with an anti-tank rocket. Again, from the Marine Corps Gazette:

"Due to the lack of penetrating power of the NE round, we found that our assaultmen had to first fire a dual-purpose rocket in order to create a hole in the wall or building. This blast was immediately followed by an NE round that would incinerate the target or literally level the structure."

The rational for this approach was straightforward:

"Marines could employ blast weapons prior to entering houses that had become pillboxes, not homes. The economic cost of house replacement is not comparable to American lives...all battalions adopted blast techniques appropriate to entering a bunker, assuming you did not know if the bunker was manned."

The manufacturers, Talley, make bold use of its track record, with a brochure headlined Thermobaric Urban Destruction."

ya got all that...? are you ready for raw story's description of what it does to REAL PEOPLE...?
Such weapons are brutally effective because they first disperse a gas or chemical agent which is lit at a second stage, allowing the blast to fill the spaces of a building or the crevices of a cave. When the US military deployed a version of these weapons in 2005, DefenseTech wrote an article titled, "Marines Quiet About Brutal New Weapon."

According to the US Defense Intelligence Agency, which released a study on thermobaric weapons in 1993, "The [blast] kill mechanism against living targets is unique--and unpleasant.... What kills is the pressure wave, and more importantly, the subsequent rarefaction [vacuum], which ruptures the lungs.… If the fuel deflagrates but does not detonate, victims will be severely burned and will probably also inhale the burning fuel. Since the most common FAE fuels, ethylene oxide and propylene oxide, are highly toxic, undetonated FAE should prove as lethal to personnel caught within the cloud as most chemical agents."

A second DIA study said, "shock and pressure waves cause minimal damage to brain tissue... it is possible that victims of FAEs are not rendered unconscious by the blast, but instead suffer for several seconds or minutes while they suffocate."

"The effect of an FAE explosion within confined spaces is immense," said a CIA study of the weapons. "Those near the ignition point are obliterated. Those at the fringe are likely to suffer many internal, and thus invisible injuries, including burst eardrums and crushed inner ear organs, severe concussions, ruptured lungs and internal organs, and possibly blindness."

see what i mean...? definitely horrifying reading, but, better to know what's going on out there in the "real" world than burying our heads in the sand...

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Making damn sure the poor stay poor

for reasons i cannot effectively articulate, jerome a paris over at daily kos often puts my nose out of joint, and so i usually make it a habit to NOT read his diaries... however, the title of this one caught my eye and i think it's well worth posting here...

The poor must remain poor Hotlist

Thu Aug 23, 2007 at 05:16:46 AM PDT

An excellent exchange between ThatBritGuy and someone in the Salon (the daily round up of international news and stories prepared by Fran over at the European Tribune) this morning, about the deal between Venezuela and London to provide subsidized transport to the poorer Londoners, and the outrage it generated:

Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, has struck a discounted fuel deal with London mayor Ken Livingstone in exchange for expertise on tourism and public transport in Caracas. The move will give up to a million Londoners living on benefits half-price fares on the city's buses.

But Livingstone's critics slammed the deal as "immoral", asking why one of the world's richest capitals should accept developing world subsidies.

Angie Bray, the London Assembly Conservative leader, said the mayor should have requested for financial help from the British treasury instead.

Which triggered this series of comments:

Right. 'Cause the tories are usually so happy to provide public funding for 'hand-outs to the poor'.

A blisteringly unappealing insight into the mind of the Right - not only do they not want to share their own wealth, they hate the idea of help for the poor, even when it's coming out of someone else's pocket.

Ah, but I am sure that they do see it as coming out of their own pocket. After all, the oil wealth which this program is based on has been wrongfully appropriated by an ugly, leftist government. It ought to go into the pockets of investors of oil majors

And there we have it all in a nutshell: neoliberalism is superior to all systems because it could afford to help its poor, and therefore does not need to actually do so. The potential it has, that unfulfilled promise, is, in itself, enough to make the system superior for all to all other modes of economic regulation. But of course, actually implementing that promise would weaken the magic wealth creation machine (mostly, it seems, because the poor would no longer be properly motivated to work hard) and should thus be avoided at all costs.

nothing like threatening the status quo of the super-rich power and money grabbers to elicit a strong response, eh...?

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More dragnet intelligence gathering, this time on non-U.S. NGO's

i've had the good fortune to become familiar with a number of ngo's (non-governmental organizations, or what we in the u.s. commonly call non-profits) that operate in other countries... just like in the u.s., they are set up for a myriad of purposes, but, usually, also like in the u.s., to accomplish something for the greater good of the community/city/province/region/nation that wouldn't or couldn't be done by either government or the private sector... yes, i am sure there are those organizations that are there for nefarious purposes, but i don't think that dictator bush's plan to find out which are which is the way to go...
The Bush administration plans to screen thousands of people who work with charities and nonprofit organizations that receive U.S. Agency for International Development funds to ensure they are not connected with individuals or groups associated with terrorism, according to a recent Federal Register notice.

The plan would require the organizations to give the government detailed information about key personnel, including phone numbers, birth dates and e-mail addresses. But the government plans to shroud its use of that information in secrecy and does not intend to tell groups deemed unacceptable why they are rejected.

The plan has aroused concern and debate among some of the larger U.S. charitable organizations and recipients of AID funding. Officials of InterAction, representing 165 foreign aid groups, said last week that the plan would impose undue burdens and has no statutory basis. The organization requested that it be withdrawn.

"We don't know who will do the vetting, what the standards are and whether we could answer any allegation," said an executive for a major nongovernmental organization that would be subject to the new requirements and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to harm his organization's relations with the government.

i'll tell ya what this sounds like to me... it's smack-dab in the same category as data-mining and warrantless domestic wiretapping - vacuuming up as much personal data as possible on as many people as possible, and then seeing what you've got and how you can use it against them, the same kind of bullshit that's happening inside the u.s., with airline passenger data in europe, etc., etc., ad nauseam...

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Pilger does it again, "The War on Democracy"

[UPDATE and BUMP by profmarcus]

another important video that deserves top billing...

jim's original post from yesterday...

John Pilger has another film that will make you see and feel things that aren't easy for Americans to understand, unless you have been to the favellas, barrios, ghettos or whatever name is given to a slum devoid of hope.
But as Pilger points out, maybe there is hope.
As a regular visitor to Latin America, ProfMarcus may be able to do more justice to this subject than I can, having only made one recent trip to Brazil.
Please watch this film and take note of some familiar players of the world stage.
Once again, courtesy of the Information Clearing House.
I find the CIA guy to be the absolute epitome of NeoCon arrogance. Indeed, the situation in Chile was openly regarded as a victory for the "Chicago Boys". One unmentioned Chicago Boy is Leo Strauss, mentor to Paul Wolfowitz.
These are the people we have entrusted our nation to, and one day the world is going to come knocking on our door asking for answers.
What will we say?

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Back-Talk #3 Attack of the Ex-Reagan Officials

thanks to kagro x at daily kos...

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Psychologists: present at the interrogation

i posted on last week's american psychological association here and here...

evidently, their resolution has a loophole, and some folks - myself included - aren't too happy about it...

Central to the debate is the question "Are psychologists participating in torture?" While the Bush administration repeatedly denies that it uses torture, a leaked report of the International Committee of the Red Cross says certain U.S. methods used are "tantamount to torture."

At a fiery APA town hall meeting after the vote, Dr. Steven Reisner, one of the leading proponents of a moratorium, asked, "I want to know if passing this resolution prohibits psychologists from being involved in the enhanced interrogation techniques that the president of the United States authorized can take place at CIA black sites."

Defenders of the APA's position are clear: Psychologists need to be present at these interrogations to protect the prisoners, to ensure that the interrogators do not go over the line. Critics argue that psychologists are there to help interrogators push the line further and further, to consult with the interrogators on how best to break the prisoners.

Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, a psychologist with Survivors International, a torture survivors group, says there is a loophole: Psychologists cannot participate in harsh interrogations, but they can participate in harsh detention conditions. He said: "You see, they don't use sleep deprivation while they're interrogating you, they use it before they interrogate you, as part of the conditions of detention, to soften you up for the interrogation. So the winner today, and I'm sure their lawyers are very happy, is the CIA."

loophole-free, here's some folks who have their shit together...
The American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association both outright prohibit their members from participating in interrogations at locations where basic human rights are not guaranteed, like Guantanamo. These groups have been joined by others, like the American Translators Association and the Society for Ethnomusicology (since translation is essential in interrogations, and sustained, blaring music has been used as a form of torture).

it seems to me that avoiding even the mere POSSIBILITY of appearing to support torture would be of the highest priority... the american medical association (see their policy here) and the american psychiatric association (see their policy here - pdf) obviously get it...

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McConnell talks: It's a "classified world" and "Americans are going to die"

yep... he's out there spilling the beans... bushco can talk about whatever the hell they want to talk about, whenever and however they want to talk about it, as long as it serves their purpose... but, ask 'em a question and suddenly it's national security, executive privilege, state secrets, classified, or whatever other bullshit reason they want to cite...

highlowpoints from mcconnell's interview with the el paso times...

  • McConnell confirmed for the first time that the private sector assisted with President Bush's warrantless surveillance program. AT&T, Verizon and other telecommunications companies are being sued for their cooperation. "Now if you play out the suits at the value they're claimed, it would bankrupt these companies," McConnell said, arguing that they deserve immunity for their help.
  • He provided new details on court rulings handed down by the 11-member Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which approves classified eavesdropping operations and whose proceedings are almost always entirely secret. McConnell said a ruling that went into effect May 31 required the government to get court warrants to monitor communications between two foreigners if the conversation travels on a wire in the U.S. network. Millions of calls each day do, because of the robust nature of the U.S. systems.
  • McConnell said it takes 200 hours to assemble a FISA warrant on a single telephone number. "We're going backwards," he said. "We couldn't keep up."
  • Offering never-disclosed figures, McConnell also revealed that fewer than 100 people inside the United States are monitored under FISA warrants. However, he said, thousands of people overseas are monitored.
and what possible use would this information be if it wasn't used to inspire fear in the populace...?
Even as he shed new light on the classified operations, McConnell asserted that the current debate in Congress about whether to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act will cost American lives because of all the information it revealed to terrorists.

"Part of this is a classified world. The fact that we're doing it this way means that some Americans are going to die," he said.

message: "stop trying to find out what your government is doing in your name cuz it might cost you your life..."

uh, 'scuse me... who's doing the threatening here...? oops... i forgot... i'm not supposed to ask questions... ok, then... here's an observation...

terrorists (the REAL ones, that is, as opposed to the pathetic wannabes that were set-up by our government to LOOK like terrorists so the government could LOOK like it was protecting the "homeland") are not stupid... they probably know more about our government's surveillance programs and supporting technology than mcconnell does... pick up the quasi-cyberpunk, sci-fi thriller, The Traveler, by John Twelve Hawks, if you want to get a good picture of how things are REALLY going down... you'll never see a store security camera or your supermarket discount card the same way again... seriously, check it out...

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The Iraq withdrawal support calculator

just foreign policy offers a handy tool that lets you determine the level of support in your congressional district for iraq withdrawal, and notes that, if congress REALLY represented public opinion, we would have a veto-proof iraq withdrawal plan, post haste...
Just Foreign Policy: "Withdrawal Support Calculator"
Estimate support for withdrawal from Iraq in your Congressional District.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Check out this video

[UPDATE and BUMP by profmarcus]

here's the youtube video, absolutely must-see viewing... thanks to jim for putting it out there...

(original post by jim follows...)

It is a great condensed version of the Executive Orders that have dismantled our Constitutional rights.
Courtesy of Information Clearing House.
Especially disturbing, is the ability of the President to also use these powers in the event of a Financial Emergency.
Some argue that a financial emergency is nearly upon us.

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Stop me if you've heard any of this before

robert greenwald and his gang put together another stellar video, this one comparing the run-up to iraq with the same garbage that's going on right now...

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Shilling for Bush via blatantly dishonest WaPo reporting

read this...
Democrats Refocus Message on Iraq After Military Gains
Criticism Shifts to Factional Unrest

By Jonathan Weisman and Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, August 22, 2007; Page A04

Democratic leaders in Congress had planned to use August recess to raise the heat on Republicans to break with President Bush on the Iraq war. Instead, Democrats have been forced to recalibrate their own message in the face of recent positive signs on the security front, increasingly focusing their criticisms on what those military gains have not achieved: reconciliation among Iraq's diverse political factions.

reading the above in the absence of any other information, one would have to conclude that "military gains" and "positive signs" in iraq are an established fact... however, in light of stories like the following, one might conclude differently...
Helicopter crash in Iraq kills 14 U.S. troops
A helicopter went down in northern Iraq on Wednesday, killing all 14 U.S. soldiers aboard, the military said, the deadliest crash since January 2005.

Iraq's 'Alamo' simmers
Sunni militants have chosen to make a concerted stand in Dora against U.S. troops, who in turn have locked down the Baghdad district.

Bush and U.S. ambassador extend faint praise for Maliki
In an apparent distancing, the U.S. says the Iraqi government risks being replaced if it doesn't respond to the people's demands.

U.S. Uncovers Iraq Bribe Case
Authorities Look to Army Major, Family for Missing $9.6 Million

positive signs...? military gains...? oh, yeah... you bet...

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Bush to R's: Don't cut and run

pound it home to those miserable "cut-and-run" republicans...
Freedom's Watch, a conservative group, plans to launch a $15 million advertising campaign in 20 states today. The group's spokesman, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, says the goal is to tell people that the buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq is working.

"We want to get the message to both Democrats and Republicans: Don't cut and run, fully fund the troops, and victory is the only objective," Fleischer says.

it's perfectly logical... anyone and anything, republican or democrat, that might serve as an obstacle to gaining unfettered power and keeping staggering rivers of cash flowing will be a target... bushco has already proven beyond anybody's ability to dispute that it awards its support and loyalty conditionally, that is to say only on the basis of UNCONDITIONAL support and loyalty toward bushco... political party, religious affiliation, public standing, credibility, reputation - none of that will shield you from the wrath of bushco should you show one iota of deviation from that unconditionality...

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands"

digby has the entire nine yards on this one... i'm not even going to excerpt... you simply HAVE to read it for yourself... when you have, and have picked your jaw up off the floor, come back here and let me know what you think...
Exclusive: Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy
Philip Atkinson

Author: Philip Atkinson
Source: The Family Security Foundation, Inc.
Date: August 3, 2007

(thanks to markos...)

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pathetic, but, sadly, no surprise...

dana milbank in the wapo...

[The White House has] stalled or ignored Leahy's requests as his committee looks into the wiretapping program and the travails of Gonzales. They have calculated -- accurately so far -- that the Dynamic Duo of Leahy and Schumer would deliver harsh words but no punishment of consequence.

"The time is up. The time is up," Leahy announced yesterday. "We've waited long enough."

But what would Leahy do about it? The first questioner riddled Batman with this.

"The full Judiciary Committee will have to sit down and determine whether to seek contempt from the full Senate," said the noncommittal action hero.

Does that mean he would seek a contempt-of-Congress citation? "What I want to do is get the response to these things," Leahy demurred.

kagro x at daily kos...
The best spin that can be put on this -- and the spin Leahy would no doubt put on it -- is that the Senator was careful, even cagey, and displayed a statesmanlike refusal to tip his hand.

The rest of the world saw this: He's got nothin'.

our two-party system...? balance of powers...? the united states constitution...? what a joke...

* b.o.h.i.c.a...

bend over, here it comes again...

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Amazing! São Paulo gets smart!

an outright ban on billboards and outdoor advertising INCLUDING pamphleteering...? nipping clear channel's attempt to snatch the billboard market in São Paulo in the bud...? support from the city's elites...? actually making it happen...? getting an approval rating from 70% of the city's population...? how incredibly cool...!
In 2007, the world's fourth-largest metropolis and Brazil's most important city, São Paulo, became the first city outside of the communist world to put into effect a radical, near-complete ban on outdoor advertising. Known on one hand for being the country's slick commercial capital and on the other for its extreme gang violence and crushing poverty, São Paulo's "Lei Cidade Limpa" or Clean City Law was an unexpected success, owing largely to the singular determination of the city's conservative mayor, Gilberto Kassab.

As the driving force behind the measure, mayor Kassab quelled the rebellion from the advertising industry with the help of key allies amongst the city's elite.


Since then, billboards, outdoor video screens and ads on buses have been eliminated at breakneck speed. Even pamphleteering in public spaces has been made illegal, and strict new regulations have drastically reduced the allowable size of storefront signage. Nearly $8 million in fines were issued to cleanse São Paulo of the blight on its landscape.

One sore loser in the battle was Clear Channel Communications. Having recently entered the Brazilian market, the corporation was purchasing a Brazilian subsidiary as well as the rights to a large share of the city's billboard market. Weeks before the ban took effect, Clear Channel launched a counter-campaign in support of outdoor ads, with desperate slogans that failed to resonate with the masses: "There's a new movie on all the billboards -- what billboards? Outdoor media is culture."

check the video...

now, if it can just be transplanted here to buenos aires...

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Bomb the bastards back to the Stone Age

from americablog...
From the Tom Tancredo wingnut school of Homeland Security, the denizens of WorldNetDaily have the answer to the whole holy war thing.
Should U.S. threaten nuclear annihilation of Muslim holy sites for deterrence?


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One in ten Iraqis

from der spiegel...
Losing It's Best and Brightest: Iraq's Elite Fleeing in Droves

One in ten Iraqis has left the country. Baghdad's elite are trying to make ends meet in neighboring Jordan and Syria. Washington wants the United Nations to address the refugee crisis. In the meantime, the country is losing its best minds -- the very people needed to rebuild Iraq.

look at the incredible mess we've made...

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Good on the APA

this should have happened years ago...
The American Psychological Association ruled Sunday that psychologists can no longer be associated with several interrogation techniques that have been used against terrorism detainees at U.S. facilities because the methods are immoral, psychologically damaging and counterproductive in eliciting useful information.

Psychologists who witness interrogators using mock executions, simulated drowning, sexual and religious humiliation, stress positions or sleep deprivation are required to intervene to stop such abuse, to report the activities to superiors and to report the involvement of any other psychologists in such activities to the association. It could then strip those professionals of their membership.

The move by the APA, the nation's largest association of behavioral experts, is a rebuke of the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies.

the essence of the hippocratic oath, often abbreviated to "above all, do no harm," an oath commonly taken by medical doctors, should apply equally to those who are trained to be guardians and healers of mental health...

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I forgot about the V Campeonato Mundial de Baile de Tango

ok, so i live part-time here in the tango capital of the world and, for all the attention i pay to it, i might as well be in hoboken... the II Campeonato Mundial de Baile de Tango (2nd World Tango Dance Championship) took place during my very first visit to this city, and now we're up to #5, but, in my semi-spacecase fashion, i had to see a story about it in today's reuters to know that it's going on right now...

for a somewhat more sensory experience, check out this video...

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday photoblogging: Holy crap! It's the sun!

a chilly, gray, winter's day in buenos aires...

ultra-cool, chill lounge music from monterey bay playing over internet radio...

a pot of lentil soup cooking on the stove, filling up the house with mouth-watering smells...

lying on a comfortable futon sofa under a thick blanket...

a good book in hand but not reading it...

daydreaming and looking out the window...

but wait...

it's getting a bit lighter outside...

can it be...?


clockwise, from left to right, the sun makes a cameo appearance...

and just as quickly disappears...

the soup still smells really good...

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Another whine from a blog-challenged reporter

check this out...
Blogs: All the noise that fits
The hard-line opinions on weblogs are no substitute for the patient fact-finding of reporters.

By Michael Skube
August 19, 2007


The blogosphere is the loudest corner of the Internet, noisy with disputation, manifesto-like postings and an unbecoming hatred of enemies real and imagined.


Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, whose popular blog Daily Kos has been a force among antiwar activists, cautioned bloggers last week "to avoid the right-wing acronym MSM." It implied, after all, that bloggers were on the fringe. To the contrary, he wrote, "we are representatives of the mainstream, and the country is embracing what we're selling."

Moulitsas foresees bloggers becoming the watchdogs that watch the watchdog: "We need to keep the media honest, but as an institution, it's important that they exist and do their job well." The tone is telling: breezy, confident, self-congratulatory. Subtly, it implies bloggers have all the liberties of a traditional journalist but few of the obligations.


The opinions are occasionally informed, often tiresomely cranky and never in doubt. Skepticism, restraint, a willingness to suspect judgment and to put oneself in the background -- these would not seem to be a blogger's trademarks.

But they are, more often than not, trademarks of the kind of journalism that makes a difference. And if there is anything bloggers want more than an audience, it's knowing they are making a difference in politics. They are, to give them their due, changing what is euphemistically called the national "conversation." But what is the nature of that change? Does it deepen our understanding? Does it broaden our perspective?


The more important the story, the more incidental our opinions become. Something larger is needed: the patient sifting of fact, the acknowledgment that assertion is not evidence and, as the best writers understand, the depiction of real life. Reasoned argument, as well as top-of-the-head comment on the blogosphere, will follow soon enough, and it should. But what lodges in the memory, and sometimes knifes us in the heart, is the fidelity with which a writer observes and tells. The word has lost its luster, but we once called that reporting.

i rarely choose to post about either the blogosphere or bloggers and i don't very often take a bead on journalists, other than to excerpt what i believe to be their relevant (and, occasionally, outrageous) work... but i can't let this one lie...

my first reaction...? arrogance... my second reaction...? elitism... my third reaction...? ignorance...

i can only speak for myself, but it would be completely impossible for me to be as informed as i am (take a leap of faith with me here) were it not for blogs... yeah, sure, there's opinion galore, sometimes little in the way of fact-checking, plenty of irreverence, strong emotion, harsh invective, vulgar obscenity and occasionally outright slander... there's also a ton of unfiltered perspectives, unsanitized viewpoints and heartfelt stories from and about ordinary people that illuminate what's going on in the country and the world in ways unobtainable elsewhere... over and above that, there's an increasing amount of very good investigative reporting, offering information dug up from sources that reporters on a newspaper or magazine payroll might never have uncovered... none of this is to even mention, of course, that one of the many reasons the blogosphere has exploded is that many of THOSE goddam reporters haven't been doing their job...

but ya know what, and this is what mr. elite reporters-vs.-bloggers skube entirely misses...? 90% of the truly great journalistic reporting that i read, i get pointed to by bloggers... thanks to bloggers, i find that i consistently read sources i didn't even know existed and/or would never have had the time or patience to dig out for myself...

one other thing he misses, and this may be the biggest one of all... reporters are increasingly turning to blogs as a far more direct and complete way to tell their stories, and bloggers are increasingly moving into traditional journalism as a way to reach more readers... mr. whiney-pants skube, firmly stuck in a pre-blogosphere mindset, insists on framing an either-or situation, when, in reality, it's both-and... the blogosphere and its wonderful platform, the internet, is transforming global dialog and truly allowing, for the first time in history, EVERYONE not only to be informed but to take part...

bite me, mr. skube...

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Today's Opus

from salon...

Does everyone go to heaven? Even women who don't shave?

berkeley breathed... my hero...

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Challenging the government on surveillance: the ultimate Catch-22

this is where the citizens of the united states of america stand vis-à-vis our government as of august 2007...
If the government won't confirm it monitored your calls, the case has to be dismissed. If you can prove you were targeted, the government can withhold evidence and the case has to be dismissed. If you already have the evidence you need, the government can bar its use and the case has to be dismissed. The administration shouldn't be allowed to duck accountability for what could be ongoing violations of the rights of millions of Americans.

thanks to scott horton who offers this on the above...
Congratulations to the editors of Newsday, who have seen through the con artistry played by the Gonzales Justice Department, with remarkable success so far, on the American judiciary.

for those to young to fully understand the association...

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he [Yossarian] observed.
"It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.

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