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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 10/21/2007 - 10/28/2007
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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, October 27, 2007

Some of the most heart-rending photos I've ever seen

i have to confess, these really got to me...
Inmates at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where at least 14,000 people were tortured to death or sent to killing fields. Before killing the prisoners, the Khmer Rouge photographed, tortured and extracted written confessions from their victims.

Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide

Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide

Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide
He had a job to do, and he did it supremely well, under threat of death, within earshot of screams of torture: methodically photographing Khmer Rouge prisoners and producing a haunting collection of mug shots that has become the visual symbol of Cambodia’s mass killings.

“I’m just a photographer; I don’t know anything,” he said he told the newly arrived prisoners as he removed their blindfolds and adjusted the angles of their heads. But he knew, as they did not, that every one of them would be killed.

“I had my job, and I had to take care of my job,” he said in a recent interview. “Each of us had our own responsibilities. I wasn’t allowed to speak with prisoners.”


In the interview, Mr. Nhem En spoke with pride of living up to the exacting standards of a boss who was a master of negative reinforcement.

“It was really hard, my job,” he said. “I had to clean, develop and dry the pictures on my own and take them to Duch [his commandant at the prison, Kaing Geuk Eav, known as Duch] by my own hand. I couldn’t make a mistake. If one of the pictures was lost I would be killed.”

looking at those innocent, haunted faces is almost overwhelming... we must dedicate ourselves to insuring that horrors like this, whether in the killing fields of cambodia, the slaughtering fields of darfur, the concentration camps of germany, or the neighborhoods of baghdad, are halted, now and forever...

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Holy crap! Yet ANOTHER Bill of Rights shredding piece of legislation is on the table

H.R. 1955: "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism" [PDF]

i no more than glance away when the next unconstitutional move, this one initiated by a house democrat no less, slaps me upside the head like a dead fish...
[C]ongresswoman Jane Harman has introduced legislation--H.R. 1955: "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism"--that is expected to be referred to the House Rules Committee for assignment of floor time for debate by the House. This is a bill that is unneeded, unwise, and unfortunately will pass and be signed into law as it purports to be part of the response to 9/11 and the global war on terror.

At base, Harman's proposal seems to be a direct attack on First Amendment rights. No where is this more clear than in the third introductory paragraph (the "where as" section) that provides the context for the action desired. Specifically, this legislation aims at the unregulated nature of the Internet:
"The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization,
ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism
process in the United States by providing access to broad and
constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens."

Moreover, Harman is telling the American public, citizens and permanent residents, that they are too dumb to recognize hate speech, demonizing rhetoric, and propaganda, and are so morally immature that they are not capable of knowing when to "blow off" terrorists and their messages designed to incite large scale insurrection

One also gets the impression that Harman believes that terrorist criminality has become so wide and the number of people who mentally entertain thoughts of non-compliance with authority so numerous that the country is about to teeter into chaos.

are ya pissed off yet...? well, hang on to your seat... it gets better...
There is more. To get to this "more," it's necessary to reproduce three definitions contained in the bill.

VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.

HOMEGROWN TERRORISM- the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.

The key is in the last definition. The history of democracy is that over time, government encroaches so much into the lives of its people that government itself becomes the problem. Consider that in the 1770s, had the U.S. been a country with a law that criminalized the "threatened use of violence," every one of the Founding Fathers who participated in the Boston Tea Party organized into the Minute Men detachments or refused to accede to the British soldiers foraging on private property would have been guilty of "violent radicalization" and of promoting "ideologically based violence."

What has become an "extremist belief" in some circles within the government is democracy. Look again at the three definitions. Do they not directly challenge one of the most fundamental rights that many in the U.S. trace back to time immemorial: the right of citizens to "keep and bear arms"? Again, a people who have access to firearms inherently pose a "threat" to any government, even one with a standing army at its beck and call. And the more centralized the power of the ruler (e.g., the unitary presidency), the greater the temptation to seize the weapons--and the rights--of its citizens.

the bottom line...?
In this legislation as drafted, the underlying unacknowledged assumption is that "radicalized thought" can lead to only one outcome: an attempt to overthrow government by violence.

the only thought that comes to mind is that they must be expecting the brainwashed masses to suddenly rise up...

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We've created an environment of fear so intense that illegal immigrants are afraid to save themselves from fire?

great jumping jeebus on a ritz cracker...
Immigrants from south of the border, many illegal, provide the backbone of menial labor in San Diego, picking fruit, cleaning hotel rooms, sweeping walks and mowing lawns.


[F]our bodies were found in a burned area in southeastern San Diego County, a region known for intense illegal immigration.


Terri Trujillo, who helps the immigrants, checked on those in the canyons, urging them to leave, too, when she left her house in Rancho Peñasquitos ahead of the fires.

Ms. Trujillo and others who help the immigrants said they saw several out in the fields as the fires approached and ash fell on them. She said many were afraid to lose their jobs.

“There were Mercedeses and Jaguars pulling out, people evacuating, and the migrants were still working,” said Enrique Morones, who takes food and blankets to the immigrants’ camps. “It’s outrageous.”

Some of the illegal workers who sought help from the authorities were arrested and deported.


The Border Patrol also arrested scores of illegal immigrants made visible by the fires. Agent Fisher of the Border Patrol said 100 had been arrested since the fires started Sunday.


The American Civil Liberties Union said it had received reports that people had been denied help at shelters because they lacked proper identification. Officials have been checking identification to prevent people not affected by the fires from taking advantage of the free food, clothes and other services.


Wayne A. Cornelius, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego, who studies border questions, said that if the past was a guide there would be more friction over the fires and their effects on illegal immigrants.

“San Diego likes its illegal migrants as invisible as possible,” Mr. Cornelius said. “So whenever something happens that calls attention to their presence, it is fodder for the local anti-immigration forces.”

so much for a natural disaster bringing people closer together... why don't we just turn trained hunting dogs loose to go flush them out of the brush and chase them right into police wagons...?

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The Argentine Hillary poised to win the presidency tomorrow

must. not. forget... argentina's presidential election is tomorrow, altho' there's hardly any question about the outcome...

President Nestor Kirchner and his wife are poised to launch a new political dynasty Sunday in an election that promises to replace him with her.

Argentines are grateful to Kirchner for engineering a recovery from a 2001 economic crisis that savaged the middle class, and that has translated into such broad support for his wife, Sen. Cristina Fernandez, that she will likely avoid a second round.

Argentine law prevents more than two consecutive terms, but a husband- and-wife team could alternate in power for as long as their support continues.


Fernandez's two main rivals—former lawmaker Elisa Carrio and former economy minister Roberto Lavagna—have criticized Fernandez for failing to build a platform, saying she is merely trying to ride in on her husband's coattails.


Dubbed "Queen Cristina" by many critics—and "the queen of Botox" by Carrio—Fernandez campaigned in gritty slums in designer clothes, and many joked that her frequent campaign trips abroad were focused more on shopping than politics.


To win without a runoff, Fernandez must get either 45 percent of the vote or 40 percent with at least a 10-percent lead over her closest rival.

A poll released Friday by Poliarquia Consultores suggested Fernandez would get 42 percent, compared with 17 percent Carrio and 12 percent for Lavagna. The poll had a margin of error of 2.1 percentage points.

lavagna is the former minister of the economy under kirchner who largely engineeered argentina's massive debt default and bond re-financing scheme... he resigned his post a couple of years ago and i'm not sure exactly why... his replacement, felica miceli, had to resign earlier this year due to some shenanigans over money... i've posted extensively on argentina and it's on-going issues, but i'm not going to bother digging up the links right now... feel free to do a search if you're so moved...

ya gotta love the snark about "the queen of botox..."

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Video of Dodd's Senate speech

yeah, i know i'm flogging dodd, but, goddamit, i think he actually GETS it... certainly more so than i've heard from anybody else so far...

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Chris Dodd to be on Meet the Press tomorrow

a little big-time media exposure... now, THIS is more like it...

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Unfettered executive power: the abuses go on

the constitutional crisis is starting to sink in with some folks... jack cafferty's always been able to dig in and report on more of the truth of what's happening... with this, he's beginning to hit paydirt...

note the chyron - "giving up executive power, clinton would 'CONSIDER' it"... uh-huh... whatever...

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More Timeless Wisdom via Thomas Paine

Poor Madison has been carrying all the weight lately. He was an exceptionally wise man on issues of liberty and gov't. It's amazing that he was surrounded by a cast of characters that also exhibited exceptional understanding and wisdom.
One fiery patriot was Thomas Paine.
He had trouble controlling his temper on issues related to freedom, liberty, revolution and tyranny. He was, as some say today, inflammatory. I call it passionate.
Sadly, later in life he died alone, penny less, and insane.
His contributions to our Constitution and Republican gov't are truly priceless. I wish he were here with us today.
At least his words and wisdom are still with us, even though no one seems to remember them.
Here is a little reminder.

But where says some is the King of America? I'll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain...let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS KING.
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
Thomas Paine, Dissertation on First Principles of Government, December 23, 1791

If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute.
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791

Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

These next two are my personal favorites. Short, to the point, and very timely.
If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.
Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, December 19, 1776

We have it in our power to begin the world over again.
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.
Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, December 19, 1776

When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776

Once again, the Founders reach out to us from the past to aid us during desperate times.
Only a fool or a tyrant would fail to accept their assistance, freely given, when so much is at stake.
Is it the fool or the tyrant that currently inhabits the halls of our government?

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Edwards calls out Hillary

you go, john...
I learned a clear lesson from the lead up to the Iraq War in 2002: if you give this president an inch, he will take a mile - and launch a war. Senator Clinton apparently learned a different lesson. Instead of blocking George Bush’s new march to war, Senator Clinton and others are enabling him once again.


The New Yorker recently reported that one reason the administration has not yet attacked Iran is because public opinion has turned against such a course. Senator Clinton’s actions undermine the American people’s opposition to war with Iran. Today’s advancement of the Bush strategy on Iran shows how much we need strong opposition on this issue. I learned my lesson the hard way in 2002, but it appears that others still have some learning to do.

why, in god's name, would anyone, much less a democratic candidate for the presidency, and particularly given the unbelievable horror of death and destruction that the united states has unleashed in iraq, a horror based on manipulation and outright lies, consider giving the bush administration the time of day on iran...? i don't get it... just more reason why hrc hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell of getting my vote...

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Madison: The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home

jim has been particularly on the mark when quoting our founders, especially james madison, so i thought i'd jump on the bandwagon...

A pure democracy is a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person.

A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country.

All men having power ought to be mistrusted.

As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights.

Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.

I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

If men were angels, no government would be necessary.

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.

It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.

Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

Learned Institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people. They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty and dangerous encroachments on the public liberty.

Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power.

No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.

Such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.

The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.

The Constitution of the United States was created by the people of the United States composing the respective states, who alone had the right.

The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation where the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.

The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to an uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government.

The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.

The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.

The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad.

The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.

The proposed Constitution is, in strictness, neither a national nor a federal constitution; but a composition of both.

The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.

We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.

What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.

What prudent merchant will hazard his fortunes in any new branch of commerce when he knows not that his plans may be rendered unlawful before they can be executed?

why aren't the presidential candidates quoting our founders...? wouldn't that make sense...? isn't the ability to understand and relate our situation today to their wisdom something we should expect to see in those who would be our leaders...? (yeah, i know... silly me...)

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Holy shit! Chris Dodd goes for the whole enchilada!

(note: i just jumped around to a few "liberal," "progressive," and "democratic" weblogs, and the only one i saw that mentioned dodd's speech was atrios... we finally have a senator - a presidential candidate at that - actually speaking out on our constitutional crisis, and it's hardly making a ripple in the blogosphere... how PATHETIC is THAT...?)

you have no idea how long and how desperately i have been waiting for a speech like this... the hair on the back of my neck is standing up and i have chills up and down my spine... this is the call to action that should have been sounded years ago, but better late than never... all of my hopes and prayers are riding on this man... he cannot be too forceful in his message or too strong in his actions to defend our constitutionally-founded republic... god help him and us...

Mr. President, for six years, this President has demonstrated time and time again that he doesn’t respect the role of Congress nor does he respect the rule of law.

Every six years as United States Senators we take the oath office to uphold the Constitution. Our colleagues on the House side take that oath every two years. That is important.

For six years this President has used scare tactics to prevent the Congress from reining in his abuse of authority.


Many of the unprecedented rollbacks to the rule of law by this Administration have been made in the name of national security.

The Bush Administration has relentlessly focused our nation’s resources and manpower on a war of choice in Iraq. That ill conceived war has broken our military, squandered resources and emboldened our enemies.

The President’s wholesale disregard of the rule of law has compounded the damage done in Iraq and has made our nation less secure and as a direct consequence of these acts, we are less secure, more vulnerable and more isolated in the world.

Consider the scandal at Abu Ghraib – where Iraqi prisoners were subjected to inhumane and humiliating acts by U.S. personnel charged with guarding them.

Consider Guantanamo Bay. Rather than helping to protect the nation, the prisons at Guantanamo Bay have instead become the very symbol for our weakened moral standing in the world.

Consider the secret prisons run by the CIA and the practice of extraordinary rendition that allows them to evade U.S. law regarding torture.

Consider the shameful actions of our outgoing Attorney General who politicized prosecutions – who was more committed to serving the President who appointed him than the laws he had sworn to uphold.

And consider, of course, the Military Commissions Act – a law that allows evidence obtained through torture to be admitted into evidence.

It denies individuals the right to counsel.

It denies them the right to invoke the Geneva Conventions.

And it denies them the single most important and effective safeguard of liberty man has known – the right of habeas corpus, permitting prisoners to be brought before a court to determine whether their detainment is lawful.

Warrantless wiretapping, torture – the list goes on.

Each of these policies share two things in common.

First, they have weakened our ability to prosecute the global war on terrorism – if for no other reason than they have made it harder, if not impossible, to build the international support and cooperation we need to fight it.

And second, each has only been possible because Congress has not been able to stop this President’s unprecedented expansion of executive power, although some in this body have tried.

Whether or not these policies were explicitly authorized is beside the point. In every instance, Congress has been unable to hold this Administration to account for violating the rule of law and our Constitution. In each instance, Republicans in the Congress have prevented this body from telling this Administration that “a state of war is not a blank check.”


I will not stand on the floor of the United States Senate and be silent about the direction we are headed.

It is time to say “no more.”

No more trampling our Constitution.

No more excusing those who violate the rule of law.

These are our principles.

They have been around at least since the Magna Carta.

They are enduring.

What they are not is temporary. And what we do not do in a time where our country is at risk is abandon them.


I believe we were elected to ensure that this nation adheres to the rule of law and to stop this Administration’s assault on the Constitution.

But the rule of law is not the provenance of any one political party – but of every American who has been safer because of it.


President Bush is right about one thing: this debate is about security. But not in the way he imagines.

He believes we have to give up certain rights to be safe.

I believe the choice between moral authority and security is a false choice.

I believe it is precisely when you stand up and protect your rights that you become stronger, not weaker.

The damage that was done to our country on 9/11 was stunning. It changed the world forever.

But when you start diminishing our rights as a people, you compound that tragedy. You cannot protect America in the long run if you fail to protect our Constitution. It is that simple.

Mr. President, history will likely judge this President harshly for his war of choice and for fighting it with a disregard for our most cherished principles.

But history is about tomorrow. We must act today to stand up for the Constitution and the rule of law.

Mr. President, this is the moment. At long last, let us rise to it.

i'm loosening up the c-clamp on my wallet as i type this...

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"The child-like confidence [of the WaPo] in the ... Bush administration is just staggering"

matt yglesias...
Sometimes I wonder, can the Washington Post's editorials get any worse? The answer -- always -- turns out to be "yes." Today we learn not only that the Bush administration's drive toward war with Iran is in fact an effort to avoid war, but also that up is down, ignorance is strength (and Fred Hiatt is a very strong man) and that when the war does come we'll all need to blame war opponents:
If this diplomatic offensive fails, President Bush or his successor is likely to face a choice between accepting Iran's acquisition of the means to build nuclear weapons and ordering military strikes to destroy its facilities. That's why it is senseless and irresponsible for those who say they oppose military action -- including a couple of the second-tier Democratic presidential candidates -- to portray the sanctions initiative as a buildup to war by Mr. Bush. We've seen no evidence that the president has decided on war, and it's clear that many senior administration officials understand the package as the best way to avoid military action. It is not they but those who oppose tougher sanctions who make war with Iran more likely.

Have I mentioned that war is peace?


[T]he child-like confidence in the good sense, good faith, and competence of the Bush administration is just staggering.

it's not only staggering, it's so totally irresponsible that it borders directly on criminal...

vlad's view...

The response of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was more scathing. He said sanctions made a negotiated settlement harder.

"Why worsen the situation by threatening sanctions and bring it to a dead end?" he said. "It's not the best way to resolve the situation, by running around like a madman with a razor blade in his hand."

remember george's view of vlad...?
"I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy," the president reported, to the alarm of his conservative mates. "I was able to get a sense of his soul."

evidently george elected not to see the "madman" part...

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Bush hypocrisy: Kurds in American Iraq have done much worse things to Turkey than Hizbullah did to Israel

juan cole...
The hypocrisy of the Bush case is obvious when it complains about Iran supporting Hizbullah and Hamas. The Kurds based in American Iraq have done much worse things to Turkey in the past month than Hizbullah did to Israel in June of 2006. Yet when Israel launched a brutal and wideranging war on all of Lebanon, destroying precious infrastructure and dumping enormous amounts of oil into the Mediterranean, damaging Beirut airport, destroying essential bridges in Christian areas, and then releasing a million cluster bomblets on civilian areas in the last 3 days of the war-- when Israel did all that, Bush and Cheney applauded and argued against a 'premature' cease-fire! Yet they are trying to convince Turkey just to put up stoically with the PKK terrorists who have killed dozens of Turkish troops recently and kidnapped 8 (again, more than the number of Iraeli troops that were kidnapped). Bush's coddling of the PKK in Iraq is not different from Iran's support for Hizbullah, except that the PKK is a more dangerous and brutal organization than Hizbullah.

Among the more fantastic charges that Bush made against Iran was that its government was actively arming and helping the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. In fact, the Taliban are extremist Sunnis who hate, and have killed large numbers of Shiites. Shiite Iran is unlikely to support them. [...] The neo-Taliban are being supported by Pakistan...

hypocrisy and lies in the bush administration are so rampant as to hardly be worthy of notice, were it not for the fact that they're deliberate attempts to justify the continual death and destruction perpetrated by the largest state sponsor of global terrorism...

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Update on Senate Judiciary Committee count opposing telecom amnesty - KEEP CALLING!

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Full moon with rainbow, high desert, 18:36 PDT

without a hi-tech camera, i couldn't get this shot to turn out like i wanted, so i will attempt to fill in the blanks... there was a high, thin, broken, herringbone overcast in front of the moon... the moon had just risen over the ridgeline to the east of the house, and was completely encircled by a bright rainbow, a magnificent and awe-inspiring sight... it has continued and now, over an hour later, the intensity has increased such that there is a faint SECOND rainbow encircling the first...

i did some searching to come up with a pic that approximates what i am even now looking at and discovered that the correct term for the phenomenon is "lunar corona..." this pic doesn't have the double corona but it's a pretty faithful representation of what is shining outside my window right now...

all i can say is that it's quite awesome...


oh, very cool... i DID find a pic of a double-ring corona...


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The dream ticket: Bill Moyers and Stephen Colbert

i'm not kidding... it would be a landslide...
Comedian Stephen Colbert is not a threat to win the presidency, but the odds are that that his satire will win plenty of laughs and maybe even some votes.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that Colbert is preferred by 13% of voters as an independent candidate challenging Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani. The survey was conducted shortly after Colbert’s surprise announcement that he is lusting for the Oval Office.

when the late, great, sorely-missed molly ivins first proposed bill moyers, it didn't take me more than a nanosecond to leap up and yell, HELL, YEAH...!

i've posted on moyers for president several times, the most recent being this past april...

i am watching bill moyers' "buying the war" right now via pbs online... i have seen two parts out of five so far, and i can say, unequivocally, it's excellent... moyers has done our country a terrific service, perhaps the most outstanding effort of an already outstanding career... i hearken back to many months ago when there was a quiet but powerful tremor that rippled through the blogosphere...

from the late, great molly ivins in july of last year...

Dear desperate Democrats, here's what we do. We run Bill Moyers for president. I am serious as a stroke about this. It's simple, cheap and effective, and it will move the entire spectrum of political discussion in this country. Moyers is the only public figure who can take the entire discussion and shove it toward moral clarity just by being there.


(To let Moyers know what you think of this idea, write him at P.O. Box 309, Bernardsville, NJ 07924...)

you can watch "buying the war" by clicking here...

i'd even take the c-clamp off my wallet for that one...

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Two years later, the obscene war profiteer goes down

remember this...?
In May 2005, the U.S. Marines recalled more than 5,000 DHB armored vests after questions were raised about their effectiveness. By that time, [CEO David] Brooks had pocketed over $250 million in war windfalls.

do you remember why he's characterized as obscene...?
On the day the President told the American people to prepare for the long haul in Iraq, here’s a story that seems to perfectly sum up our priorities as a nation. They’re calling it Mitzvahpalooza. It may go down in history as the world’s most obscene birthday party (eat your heart out Dennis Kozlowski). David H. Brooks, CEO of bulletproof vest maker DHB Industries, spared no expense for his 13-year old daughter’s entry into adulthood. The girl and 300 of her closest BFFs were entertained recently in New York’s Rainbow Room by Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Kenny G, Aerosmith and, believe it or not, 50 Cent (I guess 500 large can make you forget all about street cred). It was hosted by Tom Petty. The reported cost: $10 million.

i posted about this scum back in december 2005... finally, he goes down...
The founder and former head of a company that manufactures body armor for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan was arrested this morning by federal agents on Long Island, N.Y and charged with using company money to supplement his lavish lifestyle and netting $186,000,000 while riding his company's stock down.

so, what the hell took 'em so goddam long...?

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Gaining public acceptance of torture through humor and the use of the "24" rationale

rudy giuliani on torture...
If there was a terrorist attack on an American city, and it was clear that there were all going to be additional attacks, some of them were going to be nuclear, and they were planned for the next couple of days and one of the people involved in it was arrested, and the head of the C.I.A. came to you and said we have to do certain things to get the information from him, would you authorize it? And I think most of us answered it, yes we would, we would authorize doing whatever we thought was the most effective to get that information.


And I see, when the Democrats are talking about torture, they’re not just talking about even this definition of waterboarding, which again, if you look at the liberal media and you look at the way they describe it, you could say it was torture and you shouldn’t do it. But they talk about sleep deprivation. I mean, on that theory, I’m getting tortured running for president of the United States. That’s plain silly. That’s silly.

this is just one more example of how our propaganda machine and its spokespeople are assiduously working to gain acceptance for torture as a norm of our society... such hypothetical scenarios are calculated to inflame and mislead and such mockery is neither cute nor in the least bit funny... it's merely camouflage for the real intent - persuading us that torture is a legitimate tool of our government... it's sad and sick and it's destroying our national soul...

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Harry Reid's response: says nothing, commits to nothing, but sounds nice

just popped in to my inbox...
Efforts to replace the flawed Protect America Act with a better statute are underway. On October 17, 2007, Representative John Conyers (D-MI) introduced in the House of Representatives the Responsible Electronic Surveillance that is Overseen, Reviewed, and Effective (RESTORE) Act of 2007 (H.R.3773). Although the House has not yet voted on the bill, my colleagues will likely reconsider this measure in the near future and it is an improvement over the Protect America Act.

On October 18, 2007, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence agreed 13-2 to the text of a draft Senate bill which many believe is also a substantial improvement over the flawed Protect America Act. As Senators and the public examine the bill, there will be some debate about certain provisions in this initial draft bill, most notably how the draft bill addresses issues related to the alleged cooperation of telecommunications carriers with the government on intelligence collection.

In the coming weeks, Senators will have an opportunity to further refine and improve the draft bill, first through Senate Judiciary Committee action, then during floor debate, and in the conference process with the House. I assure you that I will work with my longtime friend and colleague Senator Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) to ensure that he feels his rights as a United States Senator to amend and improve legislation are preserved and respected. You can be certain that I will be pushing hard for a final bill that provides America with the effective but legal intelligence tools needed to fight terrorism, while also protecting our civil liberties and establishing strong mechanisms for congressional and judicial oversight.

says nothing, commits to nothing, but sounds nice...

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Honor Dodd's hold

Dear [Name redacted],

The ball is in Majority Leader Harry Reid's court.

All he has to do is respect Senate tradition by honoring the "hold" Chris Dodd has placed on any bill that includes "retroactive immunity."

With one public pronouncement, we can rest peacefully in the knowledge the rule of law has been preserved ... this time.

We've written a letter to Senator Reid cosigned by, the ACLU, and a number of other prominent organizations and bloggers asking the Majority Leader to honor Senator Dodd's hold.

Add your signature to ours before we deliver the letter prior to next week's Judiciary Committee hearings on the issue.

AT&T's alleged actions here violate the constitutional rights clearly established [by the U.S. Supreme Court]. . . . AT&T cannot seriously contend that a reasonable entity in its position could have believed that the alleged domestic dragnet was legal.

That was the emphatic rebuttal of the telecom's case by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker -- a President Bush (the elder) appointee.

Providing amnesty to lawbreaking corporations is a complete assault on the rule of law and on the basic fairness of our political system. When ordinary American citizens are accused of breaking the law, they are forced to go to court and, if the accusations are proven, they suffer the consequences.

If the telecoms really did nothing wrong, they should prove that in court, like all Americans must do.

And if Senator Reid honors the "hold," they'll have their day in court.

It's that simple.

Read the letter to Senator Reid and add your name.

Senator Dodd also pledged to filibuster any bill containing retroactive immunity should his hold be ignored.

He has been joined by Senators Obama and Biden.

After a record number of threatened Republican filibusters, it shouldn't be a handful of Democrats actually forced to maintain one.

Hopefully, we can make sure it won't actually come to that.


Glenn Greenwald, Jane Hamsher and Matt Stoller

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Shock? Check. Anger? Check. Rejection? Check. Acceptance? Might as well.

anonymous liberal writing for glenn greenwald...
From a purely political standpoint, I find it virtually incomprehensible that Democrats are not tripping over each other to oppose granting immunity to the telecoms. I understand that many Democrats live in constant fear of being labeled "soft on terror," but this issue is easily severable from the issue of surveillance law generally. It has nothing to do with the president's surveillance authorities going forward, and any voter can readily understand that. This is about a president (who is painfully unpopular) asking Congress to do something totally unreasonable (blindly grant sweeping immunity for unspecified illegal conduct) on behalf of huge corporations (whom no one much trusts or likes) who are more than capable of taking care of themselves (they have massive legal budgets and top-notch lawyers). If Democrats in Congress don't think they can present their opposition to such legislation in a way that the public will understand, then they might as well pack up and go home because they're clearly not cut out for this line of work.

i agree... why make us suffer more than we already have by watching congress engage in this elaborate and empty charade of separation of powers, adherence to the constitution and respect for the rule of law... give bush carte blanche to run the country any way he wants, which he's doing anyway, and we can get on with the grief process over the loss of our democratic republic... we've been through shock, anger and rejection, so we might as well get cracking on acceptance...

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"What's a constitutional democracy to do when the president and vice president lose their marbles?"

from an op-ed by rosa brooks in today's la times...
The U.S. is full of ordinary people with serious forms of mental illness -- delusional people with violent fantasies who think they're the president, or who think they get instructions from the CIA through their dental fillings.

The problem with Bush is that he is the president -- and he gives instructions to the CIA and military, without having to go through his dental fillings.

Impeachment's not the solution to psychosis, no matter how flagrant. But despite their impressive foresight in other areas, the framers unaccountably neglected to include an involuntary civil commitment procedure in the Constitution.

Still, don't lose hope. By enlisting the aid of mental health professionals and the court system, Congress can act to remedy that constitutional oversight. The goal: Get Bush and Cheney committed to an appropriate inpatient facility, where they can get the treatment they so desperately need. In Washington, the appropriate statutory law is already in place: If a "court or jury finds that [a] person is mentally ill and . . . is likely to injure himself or other persons if allowed to remain at liberty, the court may order his hospitalization."

I'll even serve on the jury. When it comes to averting World War III, it's really the least I can do.

unfortunately, rosa, it ain't just bush and cheney... whatever horrible disease has those two in their grip is evidently highly contagious... look at our congress where the democrats are falling all over each other to pander to the two madmen's every whim... perhaps we can convince halliburton to build a detention center pro bono where all of them can be held indefinitely without charges and sans habeas corpus until we the people can arrange for a relatively unknown country to accept all of them under extraordinary rendition...

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

No photo-ops for YOU!

cute kid, clever ad, dead-on message...

ah, yes... jerry, george and the soup nazi...

comedy gold...

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"War criminal! ... War Criminal! Take her to the Hague"

i am of very limited means, but i'd be glad to purchase her airline ticket...
"Blood of millions of Iraqis is on your hands," the protester told Rice, who was President Bush's national security adviser when he decided to invade Iraq.

"War criminal! ... War Criminal!" the black-clad, "blood"-soaked protester screamed as authorities dragged her from a hearing room on Capitol Hill. "Take her to the Hague."

Rice was testifying to the House Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday, where she continued what some critics see as the Bush administration's drumbeat to war with Iran.

none of that seems to bother condi who was there to add her cadence to the drumbeat for war with Iran that's picking up tempo and growing ever louder...
Iran's nuclear program and alleged backing of terrorism represent "perhaps the single greatest challenge" to US national security, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday.

"We are very concerned that the policies of Iran constitute perhaps the single greatest challenge to American security interests in the Middle East and around the world," she said at a hearing in Congress.

After recent bellicose US remarks, including President George W. Bush's warning that a nuclear-armed Iran evoked the threat of "World War III," Rice said that Washington remained committed to talks to end Iran's atomic drive.

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The Foreign Policy Anxiety Indicator

from the report...
Loss of Faith: Public's Belief
in Effective Solutions Eroding

the surprising thing is that anyone would find this surprising… you only have to look at what happened to chris dodd’s campaign when he announced his hold on the fisa bill… as greenwald says, “That is why Dodd’s relatively mild actions have generated such intense enthusaism and support — a drop of water to someone stranded in the desert will seem like a royal feast.” we’re dying for lack of leadership and, as glenn so well puts it, even a tiny bit looks like a LOT when we haven’t seen any for so long…

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The latest from Chris Dodd

Dear [Name redacted],

Let's get right to it and talk about how we stop retroactive telecommunications immunity from becoming law.

The way I see it, there are three ways to get this provision stripped from the final bill:

1.) The first step would be to make sure the idea doesn't make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- where it will be considered shortly.

If we can get it stripped there, it will have to be offered as an amendment to the overall bill where it will be a lot easier to get 41 votes against retroactive immunity than 41 to sustain my filibuster if necessary.

Take a moment and call up members of the committee, let me know what they said, and join others in tracking our progress in stopping the provision right there.

The other two ways:

2.) If retroactive immunity does make it out of committee, Senate leadership can honor the hold I've placed on any legislation that includes retroactive immunity.

3.) If leadership does not honor my hold, I remain committed to filibustering, and working to get the 41 votes necessary to maintain it.

This has the potential to be a long fight -- so let's build a solid foundation for our effort today by asking members of the Judiciary Committee to vote against any FISA bill that includes retroactive amnesty.

I'd like to see a little more spine, frankly, on these issues. People tell us they want to lead, but a little leadership right now would certainly be welcomed on these questions.

I don't want to, but I'm not afraid to do this alone.


Individual Senator Rundown

NamePartyStatePositionTake Action
Sessions, JeffRALmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Feinstein, DianneDCAmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Biden, Joseph R., Jr.DDEmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Grassley, ChuckRIAmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Durbin, RichardDILmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Brownback, SamRKSmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Kennedy, Edward M.DMAmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Cardin, Benjamin L.DMDmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Schumer, Charles E.DNYmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Coburn, TomROKmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Specter, ArlenRPAmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Whitehouse, SheldonDRImaybe CALL THEM NOW
Graham, LindseyRSCmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Cornyn, JohnRTXmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Hatch, Orrin G.RUTmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Leahy, Patrick J.DVTmaybe CALL THEM NOW
Feingold, Russell D.DWImaybe CALL THEM NOW
Kohl, HerbDWImaybe CALL THEM NOW
i'm writing him back asking him to expand his leadership by stepping out on all of the aspects of the constitutional crisis...

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Israel to worsen an already critical human rights disaster in Gaza

Municipality of Gaza

following the hamas victory in the january 2006 election in palestine, the strategy of israel, supported by the "quartet" - US, EU, Russia and the UN - has been to punish the ordinary people of palestine so severely that they would move to overthrow their government... when fatah leader mahmoud abbas dismissed the hamas-led government in june and began ruling by decree, hamas seized control of gaza, leaving fatah in control of the west bank... the israeli "punishment" strategy toward gaza continued and is now being ratcheted up... it's criminal and nobody is moving to stop it...
Israeli military experts have formulated a plan to gradually cut off electricity and fuel to the Gaza Strip in response to ongoing rocket fire from the Palestinian area, officials said Wednesday.

The plan, formulated by a senior team lead by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, is expected to be approved by Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. It was not immediately clear when the decision would take effect.

"It's clear that we have to cut off ... the supply of electricity and the supply of fuel," Vilnai told Army Radio. "We will dramatically reduce the flow of electricity from Israel over several weeks."

Israel's government last month declared the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip a "hostile territory," clearing the way for Israel to impose sanctions against the territory. The cutoff in power is part of Israel's hardening stance toward Hamas, which violently seized control of Gaza in June.

Israel has severely restricted the flow of cargo and people through Gaza's borders since the takeover by Hamas, which Israel, the U.S. and the European Union consider to be a terrorist group.

the strategy of punishing the people is clearly articulated by noam chomsky...
There was a free election in Palestine, but it came out the wrong way. So instantly, the United States and Israel with Europe tagging along, moved to punish the Palestinian people, and punish them harshly, because they voted the wrong way in a free election. That's accepted here in the West as perfectly normal. That illustrates the deep hatred and contempt for democracy among western elites, so deep-seated they can't even perceive it when it's in front of their eyes. You punish people severely if they vote the wrong way in a free election.

cutting off electricity and fuel will only exacerbate the already serious situation, a situation that was already critical as of last december...
89 percent of the population is poverty-stricken, living on less than $2 a day. Over 60 percent are unemployed, and since the election of the Hamas government in January, international aid has dried up. It had been used to pay the salaries of public officials. Now, even those who have jobs have been thrown into poverty, meaning that over 860,000 people in the Gaza Strip are now living on food parcels distributed by the UNRWA. Over half of the population.

keep in mind, the number one u.s. client state relationship is with the israeli goverment...

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A letter to my Senators, my Congressman and Speaker Pelosi

written to senators harry reid, john ensign, congressman dean heller, and speaker nancy pelosi...
There is a reason why, when Senator Chris Dodd announced his intent to put a hold on the Senate FISA bill granting telecom immunity and later that he would filibuster the bill after Senator Harry Reid indicated he would allow it to come to the floor anyway, that Senator Dodd's popularity and campaign contributions soared.

My expectation, which i now see to have been pure fantasy, has always been that, sooner or later, our esteemed Congress would take serious, forceful steps to remedy a downhill luge run to an authoritarian state. I see now that I was mistaken.

Our country is in the grip of a critical constitutional crisis, perpetrated by the biggest gang of criminals to ever occupy the White House and the crimes are being aided and abetted by the members of Congress, Democratic and Republican alike.

This is not a plea for action. The purpose of this communication is to tell you that I have given up on you and your colleagues. I no longer believe that you are acting in the best interests of the citizens of the United States nor do I believe that you are upholding your sworn oath to preserve and protect the United States Constitution.

I hope you are all paying close attention. Our country is heading toward disaster and no one is at the helm.


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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Beyond outrage: a manifesto

took the words right out of my mouth...

nightprowlkitty at daily kos

We saw an election stolen, the will of the people denied. And in the aftermath we saw every progressive and humane aspect of government subverted. And we were outraged.

We saw the great City of New York attacked and even as people all around the world united in sympathy and gave help, criminals who had stolen power planned to go to war with the wrong enemy. And we were outraged.

We saw the social apparatus of our nation subverted and prostituted to engender mistrust and hatred towards anyone who would speak the truth. And we were outraged.

We saw a bloody war, an illegal war of aggression, spiral out of control, with "collateral damage" so high that it astounds the senses, hurts unbearably, as at the same time we saw our wounded soldiers untreated and abused by the very ones with power that sent them to this war. And we were outraged.

We saw the great City of New Orleans and the lovely Gulf Coast drowned and allowed to remain damaged, people treated like animals, again the hate unleashed by the criminals in power through a deranged media absorbed by its own profits and fears of retaliation by those very criminals. Whatever good reporters there may have been were quickly subsumed by corporate edits of complicity and kowtowing. And we were outraged.

We saw our rights being sold down the river, our own Democratic representatives so far removed from reality as to not even make a gesture towards real opposition to these criminals who have stolen power in America and destroyed our unity as a nation. And we were outraged.

We saw our justice system perverted beyond recognition, honest men and women punished for doing their jobs, laws against the weakest of us enforced with savagery and contempt for the simple basics of humanity, from poor folks with no health care to undocumented migrants being treated no differently than terrorists at Gitmo, to folks from public housing in New Orleans being forced into exile from their homes, their lives, exile and death, and oh, we were outraged.

And we saw a courageous man in Congress being forced to recant his words and apologize to appease the powers that still retain their dark hold over this country, even though the only powers left are those of destruction and fear and greed.

And I am no longer outraged. No. Nor am I shamed. My eyes are wide open now and I am not outraged nor ashamed.

I am resolved. My gaze is now level rather than rolling in terror and anger. I know this misAdministration for what they are and I know what they will do. I know our Democratic leadership for what they are as well, and they have made it clear what they will do.

This war must end. And this crew of criminals in the Executive Branch need to be removed from office. I know this. And I know that our present leadership, in both parties, have not made a commitment to doing either of these things.

I don't blame anyone here for how they are now reacting to this reality. For those who feel they must leave the party, I have no words of censure. For those who will stay and fight for the party, I have no complaint. For those who must continue to yell, I have no need for refutation.

I am united with anyone who is against this misAdministration. I am united with all my brothers and sisters across this nation who see what is going on, and I will support all who oppose these criminals and their enablers. I will support in any way I can all my neighbors who help each other, from the terror attacks in New York City to the floods on the Gulf Coast to the terrible firestorms in California.

I have no more outrage, feel no more shame. What was done to Rep. Stark has shown me there is no longer any reason to respect those who have been charged with leading our nation. They are simply human beings who have been unable, for whatever reason, to do the right thing. They are not even worth my outrage.

I will focus my attention from now on to those who are able to do the right thing, from whatever walk of life they travel, powerful or with no power at all. I am resolved. I am not outraged and I am not ashamed.

superb... now, let's take that resolution and put it to work, shall we...?

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Brendan Skwire phones Senator Jay Rockefeller's office

entirely too good to pass up... brendan posts over at booman tribune and at brendan calling...
Ring. Riiiiiiing.

"Hello, Senator Rockefeller's office."

"Hi there, my name's Brendan Skwire, and I need some help from the Senator.
"It seems I've broken a few laws, and I'm looking at a felony conviction.

The judge has pretty much rejected my arguments of innocence, so I was wondering how much it will cost me to get Senator Rockefeller to write an ex post facto bill giving me immunity from my crimes. I don't have as much money as AT&T, but since Senator Rockefeller's selling indulgences, I was wondering how much it'll cost me. Can you give me some idea?"

"Sir, if you'd just look at Senator Rockefeller's website, he explai--"

"Oh yeah, I've been to his website. And I've also been reading about how the Senator didn't get any donations to speak of from AT&T until 2006-2007, when it spiked by nearly $20,000, so I've been wondering how much will it cost me to buy Senator Rockefeller?"

"Sir, I'll pass your message along."

"Thanks. Hey, why's he doing this anyway? He's independently wealthy, and doesn't need the $25,000 or whatever."


"And what gives him the right to sell of my Fourth Amendment rights? Those rights aren't his to sell, and they're worth a hell of a lot more than a measley $25,000. You might even say they're priceless."

"I'll pass your message along." -Click-

Jay Rockefeller deserves to burn in Hell for his shameful sell-out. The man is no better than Quisling or Petain. Tom Paine, Ben Franklin, and the rest of the Founding Fathers are spinning in their graves right now.

yes, he does deserve to burn in hell, right next to MY senator, harry reid...

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"The torture and abuse of prisoners was systemic and resulted from decisions made by senior U.S. officials, both military and civilian"

not that it should come as any great news to anybody that the abuse and torture of prisoners was authorized from the very top and has been integral to united states policy from the beginning...
The American Civil Liberties Union and Columbia University Press today announce the publication of Administration of Torture: A Documentary Record from Washington to Abu Ghraib and Beyond. Written by ACLU attorneys Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh, the book presents a detailed account of the treatment of prisoners held in U.S. detention centers in Afghanistan , Iraq , and Guantánamo Bay. Based on thousands of government documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the book supplies substantial evidence that the torture and abuse of prisoners was systemic and resulted from decisions made by senior U.S. officials, both military and civilian.


Administration of Torture exposes the stark contradictions between the Bush administration's public disavowals of torture and the facts established by the administration's own documents. Jaffer and Singh write, "The fact that the Abu Ghraib photographs depicted abuse at a single prison allowed senior administration officials to claim, as they did repeatedly, that the abuse was confined to that facility. This claim was completely false, and senior officials almost certainly knew it to be so." They note that government documents show that prisoners were beaten, kicked, and abused at other detention facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq; that autopsy reports record numerous deaths in U.S. custody as homicides caused by strangulation, suffocation, or blunt-force injuries; and that documents from Guantánamo describe prisoners shackled in excruciating "stress positions," held in freezing-cold cells, forcibly stripped, hooded, terrorized with military dogs, and deprived of human contact for months. The authors also show – using the government's own documents – that officials were aware of the scope of the abuse problem well before the Abu Ghraib photographs were broadcast to the public.

Administration of Torture also contends that the abuse of prisoners took place because of policy, not in spite of it. Jaffer and Singh write, "the maltreatment of prisoners resulted in large part from decisions made by senior officials, both military and civilian. These decisions …were reaffirmed repeatedly, even in the fact of complaints from law enforcement and military personnel that the policies were illegal and ineffective, and even after countless prisoners …were abused, tortured, or killed in custody." They continue, "The documents show that senior officials endorsed the abuse of prisoners as a matter of policy – sometimes by tolerating it, sometimes by encouraging it, and sometimes by expressly authorizing it."

ok, now, let's be really damn clear on exactly what has been done in our names...
  • that Gen. Michael Dunlavey, who asked the Pentagon to approve more aggressive interrogation methods for use at Guantánamo, claims to have received "marching orders" from President Bush;
  • that according to an Army investigator, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was "personally involved" in overseeing the interrogation of Mohammed al Qahtani, a Guantánamo prisoner who was stripped naked, paraded in front of female interrogators, made to wear women's underwear on his head, led around on a leash, and forced to perform dog tricks. According to the investigator, while Rumsfeld did not himself authorize those specific methods, he failed to place a "throttle" over abusive "applications" of the "broad techniques" that he did authorize;
  • that interrogators who used abusive "SERE" (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) methods at Guantánamo did so because the Pentagon had endorsed those methods and required interrogators to be trained in the use of those methods;
  • that FBI personnel who complained of abuse at Guantánamo were complaining of abuse that had been authorized by the Defense Department chain of command;
  • that some of the Abu Ghraib photos showed prisoners being subjected to the very same interrogation methods that Rumsfeld had endorsed for use at Guantánamo;
  • that the plan of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller to "Gitmoize" Abu Ghraib was endorsed by senior Defense Department officials;
  • that though the President and other senior officials insisted that abuse was limited to Abu Ghraib, a Defense Department "Information Paper" shows that, three weeks before the Abu Ghraib photos were leaked to the press, the Army was aware of at least 62 allegations of prisoner abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq, most of which did not relate to Abu Ghraib;
  • that the Defense Department held prisoners as young as 12 years old;
  • that the Defense Department approved holding prisoners in cells as small as 3.1 x 4.0 x 1.5 feet, and that special forces held prisoners in cells only slightly larger than that.
This is my country! Land of my birth!
This is my country! Grandest on earth!
I pledge thee my allegiance,
America, the bold,
For this is my country to have and to hold.

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Turkey, Iraq, Kurdistan, the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) and the U.S.

gee, why wait for a war with iran...? if you're looking for a tinderbox to ignite, here's one handed to you on a silver platter...

juan cole...

The Bush administration made a diplomatic 'full court press' with Turkish leaders to dissuade them from attacking the Kurdish Workers Party [PKK] guerrillas hiding out in Iraq after the killing of 17 Turkish troops and the capture of 8 others by the PKK on Sunday. Turkish Prime Minister Rejeb Tayyip Erdogan is alleged to have told US Secretary of State Condi Rice that the only way for the US to forestall a Turkish invasion is for its military to arrest the PKK leaders in Iraq themselves and to turn them over to Ankara.

Under all this American pressure, The PKK is said to be offering a conditional ceasefire with Ankara. The 'conditional' part doesn't seem very promising to me.

the "conditional" part evidently didn't seem very promising to turkey either...
BAGHDAD, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan on Tuesday rejected the ceasefire offered by the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), saying there's no "ceasefire" with terror.

Babacan made the remarks at a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari after their talks over the crisis on the two countries' borders caused by the PKK rebels.

Babacan said a ceasefire should be reached between two countries or two armies but not with a terror group, which apparently indicates the PKK.

But the Turkish top diplomat pledged Turkey's respect to Iraq's integrity, saying the diplomatic means are still the emphasis of the solutions for the crisis.

On his part, Zebari pledged his Turkish counterpart again that Iraqi government will actively help Turkey to remove the threat posed by the PKK.

anybody got a match...?


so, now it's not only explosive, it's explosive2...
[O]ut of the public eye, a chillingly similar battle has been under way on the Iraqi border with Iran. Kurdish guerrillas ambush and kill Iranian forces and retreat to their hide-outs in Iraq. The Americans offer Iran little sympathy. Tehran even says Washington aids the Iranian guerrillas, a charge the United States denies. True or not, that conflict, like the Turkish one, has explosive potential.

hey, i bet darth's got a match...

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Another little-reported power to screw us and the planet over

how many more of these little gems are tucked away in the baskets of legislation that's been passed since the bush coup d'etat...?
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has used his power to bypass environmental laws so he can restart construction of a fence on the Arizona-Mexico border.

Chertoff's action made public on Monday allows construction to go forward on about seven miles of fence in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area near Naco, Arizona.

Work on nearly two miles of the fence has been suspended since Oct. 10. On that day, a judge ordered a delay on its construction.

She ruled the federal government had not fully studied the environmental impact of the fence.

Congress gave Chertoff the power to waive environmental and other laws to build border barriers when it passed the REAL ID Act in 2005.

the real id act...? no shit... who woulda thunk it...?

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"Dodd is saying the things that need to be said..."

wmtriallawyer writing at daily kos...
Dodd is saying the things that need to be said and doing the things that need to be done at the time those things are most needed to be said and done. And if that can help push the party -- and the nation -- where it needs to be, so be it. Dean did it in '04...Dodd can do it in '08.

And if enough of us agree to check him out beyond just one issue, who knows what might happen?

damn, i sure hope he sticks to his guns... there's nobody else out there right now coming even close, god only knows...

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Is CENTCOM Commander Fallon standing between us and an attack on Iran?

gareth porter, writing for ips, offers some points of perspective...
  • [In] a meeting between Bush and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Dec. 13, 2006 ... the uniformed military leaders rejected a strike against Iran's nuclear programme.
  • The Joint Chiefs were soon joined in opposition to a strike on Iran by Admiral William Fallon, who was nominated to become CENTCOM commander in January.
  • A source who met with Fallon at the time of his confirmation hearing quoted him as vowing that there would be "no war with Iran" while he was CENTCOM commander and as hinting very strongly that he would quit rather than go along with an attack.
  • Fallon also suggested that other military leaders were opposing a strike against Iran, saying, "There are several of us who are trying to put the crazies back in the box," according to the same source.
  • The possibility that Fallon might object to an unprovoked attack on Iran or even resign over the issue represents a significant deterrent to such an attack.
so, with heavy senior level military opposition to a strike against iran's nuclear facilities, the purpose and scope of an attack on iran was reframed...
The George W. Bush administration's shift from the military option of a massive strategic attack against Iran to a surgical strike against selected targets associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), reported by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker earlier this month, appears to have been prompted not by new alarm at Iran's role in Iraq but by the explicit opposition of the nation's top military leaders to an unprovoked attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

porter speculates on where fallon stands in light of the revised strategy...
Fallon is unlikely to refuse to carry out such a limited strike under those circumstances.

is the strategy working...?
After several months of trying to establish specific links between Iraqis suspected of trafficking in weapons to a specific Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard contact, the U.S. command has not claimed a single case of such a link. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the U.S. commander for southern Iraq, where most of the Shiite militias operate, admitted in a Jul. 6 briefing that his troops had not captured "anybody that we can tie to Iran".

we all know what darth wants...

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The M85 cluster bomb in Lebanon: "about 1200 fragments dispersed over a large lethal area"

of course, it's not just lebanon... these vicious instruments of maiming, permanent disability and death are in use all over the world... lebanon just so happens to be one of the countries most heavily carpeted with them...

(note: i posted both this past february and in may on cluster bombs...)

Lebanon has a devastating cluster bomb problem. Hit hard during the final days of last summer's conflict with Israel, hundreds of thousands of unexploded munitions are strewn throughout the south's rural towns and fertile fields and valleys. Although there have been 255 civilian and de-mining casualties to date, official requests for Israel's cluster bomb strike data have gone unanswered.

"The reality of the situation is we simply don't know how many there are, and we will never know until the Israelis tell us how many they fired," says Chris Clark, the United Nations programme manager for the Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC), the official body tasked with coordinating munitions clearance with the Lebanese Army in the south.

So far the clearance teams working under the MACC have destroyed over 131,000 cluster bombs. While U.S. munitions manufactured in the 1970s and 1980s are the majority found and destroyed, Israeli M85 cluster munition strikes have been discovered mostly in fields and towns like Blida along the Blue Line, the UN demarcated border between Israel and Lebanon.

Stockpiled by the U.S., Britain and Germany among others, the M85 cluster bomb is shaped like a miniature tin can with a white ribbon on top that spins to load the bomb once it's airborne. While older versions have a single fuse, the current model is equipped with a second; a 'safety' fuse that detonates automatically if the initial one fails.


ts manufacturers cite the contemporary M85's failure rate at less than one percent -- results that countries like Britain hold up for justifying their continued use. However, independent studies since conducted in 'real' -- as opposed to laboratory -- conditions have determined the figure to be more like 5 to 10 percent. [note: Landmine Action M85 Cluster Bomb Fact Sheet here - PDF]

Clark seconds this finding. "What we have established here (in Lebanon) is that the average failure rate is at least 6 percent. So for the users of this system to continue to use them on a basis that they have a negligible failure rate is clearly foolish."

The push to ban cluster munitions worldwide by 2008 was kicked off in Oslo earlier this year. Spearheaded by the Britain-based Cluster Munition Coalition representing hundreds of civil society groups, the conferences have successfully recruited 80 countries -- including producers, users and stockpilers -- to sign on so far.

But top weapons manufacturers and exporters -- the U.S., China and Russia -- are staying away, and Britain, although a participant, is fighting hard for the exclusion of the M85 from the ban.

a little bit about one of the m85 manufacturers, israeli military industries...

The rising threats of terror and asymmetric warfare pose new challenges for national security in the 21st century. To effectively confront these perils, military and security forces must respond and transform, based on the rapid assessment of new threats, determinaton of doctrinal and operational requirements, acquisition of new equipment and training of qualified manpower.

As one of the world’s leading international defense industries, Israel Military Industries (IMI) is uniquely positioned to support such adaptation processes. IMI, a diversified, hi-tech company, offers its domestic and international customers a unique range of world-class defense products and systems to meet the changing operational requirements of today’s challenging environment. With its specializations in the development, manufacture and deployment of a wide range of state-of-the-art combat-ready solutions, IMI has established itself as a leading global defense contractor.

and here's the product in question, the "M85 Dual-Purpose Bomblet"... note the claim: "about 1200 fragments dispersed over a large lethal area"...

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"A power-drunk president and a cowardly, corrupted, complicit 'opposition' "

i see i'm far from the only one whose hopes have been dashed...

chris floyd blogging for the "on a week-long book-writing vacation" glenn greenwald...

After 10 full months of Democratic command in the legislative branch -- 10 full months under the "liberal," "progressive," "antiwar" Democratic leadership -- where are we? The Iraq war, far from being ended or even curtailed, was instead escalated by Bush in the face of popular discontent and establishment unease: the first, and most egregious, Democratic surrender. Bush's illegal spying on Americans was not only not punished, it was formally legitimized by Congress, whose Democratic leaders are now hastening to give their telecom paymasters retroactive immunity for taking part in what they knew to be a massive criminal operation, as Glenn Greenwald has often noted here. The Military Commissions Act -- which eviscerated 900 years of habeas corpus, as even Arlen Specter admitted (before slavishly voting for the bill anyway) -- remains on the books, unshaken by the Democrats, despite all the cornpone about "restoring the Constitution" they've dished out for the rubes back home.


So this is where we've come to, one year after the people spoke at the ballot box, fighting through government propaganda, media distortions, pundit scorn, terrorist scares -- and the Karl Rove vote-skewing, vote-suppressing, vote-stealing machine -- to deliver a strong call for a new direction, for an end to war and torture and tyranny and corruption and lies. They believed -- perhaps for the last time -- that their vote might make a difference, that the "consent of the governed" might still retain some meaning.

So they turned to the only serious alternative the system provided: the Democrats. And this is what they got: more war, more torture, more tyranny, more corruption, more lies.

What should the people believe now? What should they hope for from the system now? And what new nightmares await them in the second year of this perverse union between a power-drunk president and a cowardly, corrupted, complicit "opposition"?

unduly harsh...? no, not by a long shot... although i hate to admit it, i'm perversely relieved whenever i see someone pulling out all the stops to tell the truth... we're in a world of shit in this country and we desperately need to find a way to turn it around...

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