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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 01/27/2008 - 02/03/2008
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, February 02, 2008

What REALLY happened to New Orleans

from greg palast...

thanks to brasscheck tv...

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My country: "An environment where the pathological becomes the norm"

harsh assessment, but essentially irrefutable...
[I]n a society dominated by pathological values, if one can call them that, the existence of a small group of conscienceless people promoting a culture of greed and selfishness creates an environment where the pathological becomes the norm. In a society, such as the United States today, where the president can lie with impunity on matters of life and death, a pathological environment is created where lying becomes acceptable. Violence is acceptable. Greed is acceptable. It is part and parcel of the ideology of the American Dream, that anyone can be a success no matter who you have to hurt to do it. And, it is in what they must do to actually succeed that the seeds of pathology are sown. In that environment, people of conscience who are weak and easily influenced take on the characteristics of the pathological in order to survive and succeed. They see that their leaders lie and cheat, and they figure that if they want to get ahead, then they can lie and cheat as well.


Psychopathy is an adaptive life strategy that is extremely successful in American society, and thus has increased in the population. What is more, as a consequence of a society that is adaptive for psychopathy, many individuals who are NOT genetic psychopaths have similarly adapted, becoming "effective" psychopaths, or "secondary sociopaths." In other words, in a world of psychopaths, those who are not genetic psychopaths, are induced to behave like psychopaths simply to survive. When the rules are set up to make a society "adaptive" to psychopathy, it makes psychopaths of everyone.

so, what to do...?
Were that pathological influence removed from society by putting psychopaths into quarantine, by educating people of conscience on the signs of pathology, of what to look for and how to deal with manipulation, by changing the systems created by psychopaths; if through such methods we were able to remove this ponerogenic influence, then the other pole, that of conscience, would be the more influential of the two, and people would gravitate towards altruism and truth rather than selfishness and lies.

If we were able to remove the pathological influence, we might find that our conceptions of "human nature" are wrong and are weighted wrongly because we accept those who are genetically without conscience as "human". Remove them and their acts from the data set, remove their influence from society as a whole, and the higher qualities of human nature capable of conscience might find room for expression in ways that we have never dreamed possible.

interesting, but also disturbingly suggestive of police state tactics... a different KIND of police state, to be sure, but still a police state...

how do we recognize these aliens in our midst...?

There are a number of traits that we find in psychopaths: An obvious trait is the complete lack of conscience. They lack any sense of remorse or empathy with others. They can be extremely charming and are experts at using talk to charm and hypnotize their prey. They are also irresponsible. Nothing is ever their fault; someone else or the world at large is always to blame for all of their 'problems' or their mistakes. Martha Stout, in her book The Sociopath Next Door, identifies what she calls the pity ploy. Psychopaths use pity to manipulate. They convince you to give them one more chance, and to not tell anyone about what they have done. So another trait - and a very important one - is their ability to control the flow of information.

They are also incapable of deep emotions. In fact, when Hare, a Canadian psychologist who spent his career studying psychopathy, did brain scans on psychopaths while showing them two sets of words, one set of neutral words with no emotional associations and a second set with emotionally charged words, while different areas of the brain lit up in the non-psychopathic control group, in the psychopaths, both sets were processed in the same area of the brain, the area that deals with language. They did not have an immediate emotional reaction.

Our whole emotional life is a mystery to them, while at the same time providing a tremendous tool for them to manipulate us. Think of those moments when we are strongly affected by our emotions and how our ability to think is impaired. Now imagine that you were able to feign such emotion, remaining cool and calculating, while the person you were exchanging with was really trapped in an emotional cauldron. You could use tears or shouting to get what you wanted, while your victim was driven to despair by the emotions they were living.

They also seem to have no real conception of past or future, living entirely for their immediate needs and desires. Because of the barren quality of their inner life, they are often seeking new thrills, anything from feeling the power of manipulating others to engaging in illegal activities simply for the rush of adrenaline.

Another trait of the psychopath is what Łobaczewski calls their "special psychological knowledge" of normal people. They have studied us. They know us better than we know ourselves. They are experts in knowing how to push our buttons, to use our emotions against us. But beyond that, they even seem to have some sort of hypnotic power over us. When we begin to get caught up in the web of the psychopath, our ability to think deteriorates, gets muddied. They seem to cast some sort of spell over us. It is only later when we are no longer in their presence, out of their spell, that the clarity of thought returns and we find ourselves wondering how it was that we were unable to respond or counter what they were doing.

i think we all must admit that we have known and worked for these people... i've often been astounded - and i don't use that term lightly - at the dysfunction i've seen inside organizations of all types - public and private sector, large and small - dysfunction that, without any doubt, is strongly suggestive of psychopathy... a former colleague of mine from united airlines is currently undergoing a deliberate assault on his professionalism and, by extension, his character, by what i am sure is the very archetype of the social/organizational psychopath described above... i know i've certainly been exposed to my share...

a most interesting article...

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Rewriting the history of the Iraq invasion

thanks to thom hartmann...

lest we forget...

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Glenn: "Mukasey explicitly embraces the most extreme theories of presidential omnipotence and lawlessness"

i missed this most worthwhile post from glenn on thursday...

Mukasey's radical worldview is now the norm

Yesterday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, featuring day-long testimony from Attorney General Michael Mukasey, was extraordinary for only one reason: for our country, what happened in the hearing is now completely ordinary. While Mukasey may be marginally more straightforward than Alberto Gonzales was -- more willing to conform to the procedural formalities of independence -- he is, ideologically, a clone of John Yoo and David Addington and is as much of a loyal adherent to the Bush/Cheney extremist worldview as Gonzales ever was.

Mukasey explicitly embraces the most extreme theories of presidential omnipotence and lawlessness and displays as much Cheney-ite contempt for the notion of Congressional oversight as the Vice President himself. He repeatedly endorsed patently illegal behavior -- including torture -- and refused even to pretend that he cared what the Senate thought about any of it. He even told Republican Senators that they have no right to pass a whistleblower law allowing federal employees who learn of lawbreaking to inform Congress about it, because such a law would infringe on the President's constitutional powers. In Mukasey's worldview, the President has unlimited power and Congress has none.

And none of this is particularly surprising, given that -- as I emphasized after his nomination was announced -- Mukasey is the federal judge who, when presiding over the Padilla case in 2002, endorsed the most tyrannical and un-American power there is, when he ruled that the President even has the power to imprison U.S. citizens indefinitely, even when detained on U.S. soil, with no process of any kind -- a position he refused to repudiate during his confirmation hearing.

None of what he said yesterday is extraordinary, despite how radical and jarring it is. Mukasey repeatedly insisted that even his most lawlessness-endorsing views are within our political mainstream, and he's right about that. It's now been seven years that our country has functioned under the radical executive power theories of the Bush administration, which include the right of the President to break the law. Congress long ago decided it would do nothing about any of it, would acquiesce to it, and thus -- as was predictable and predicted -- it has all become normalized.

glenn has gradually evolved into one of the most insightful, articulate, and no-holds-barred observers of the bush administration's ceaseless efforts to accumulate unlimited and unaccountable executive power while running roughshod over every principle espoused in our constitution and our self-proclaimed veneration of the rule of law... but he is also wise enough to not shrink from the full reality surrounding our descent into fascism...

I long ago stopped blaming the Bush administration -- at least exclusively -- for what has happened to our political system. They were responsible in the first instance, but the rest of the country's institutions -- its media, its Congress, the "opposition" party, even the courts -- all allowed it to happen, choosing to do nothing -- or to endorse it -- once it all began to be disclosed. It wouldn't have surprised the Founders that we would have corrupt and lawbreaking political leaders, including in the White House. The idea was that there would be numerous checks on that corruption. But when those other institutions fail, or are complicit, the fault is collective.

Consider how normalized this has all become: President Bush this week issued one of his most brazen signing statements yet, contesting the right of Congress even to exercise its spending power to bar the use of funds for permanent bases in Iraq. The Washington Post's Dan Froomkin noted that not a single journalist other than The Boston Globe's indefatigable Charlie Savage even reported on this event. As Froomkin said:

The overall message to Congress was clear: I'm not bound by your laws. . . . But it's Bush's cavalier dismissal of the ban on funding for permanent military bases that really speaks volumes -- not just about his view of the role of the legislative branch, but also about his intentions for Iraq. . . . Looking for a news story about all this in your morning paper? You won't find one in The Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times or the Wall Street Journal.

In one sense, I understand Froomkin's indignance. It ought to be newsworthy, to put it mildly, when the President announces that he has the power to violate the law at will. But in another sense, it's not really newsworthy any longer. It's been going on for years and we've chosen to do nothing about it. We have a Government where the President is not bound by the law, and it is just as simple as that.

i swear, i put up these posts and, as i read them over, it feels like some kind of extra-grim groundhog day - pounding the same drum, over and over and over...

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A tale of three countries

yes, i'll admit... my sense of humor is more than slightly twisted and sometimes the temptations of subtle ironies are simply too powerful for me to resist...

i arrived back in buenos aires a week ago today after having been gone for four months... as i expected, the tires on my poor bicycle - bicicleta (bee-see-CLAY-ta, or BEE-see as the locals call them) - were both flat... on tuesday, i walked it over to the ypf service station (pronounced ee-pay-EF-ay) to use their air hose... (ypf is the former state-owned argentina petroleum company, now owned by spain's repsolypf...) their service wasn't working, so i walked the bike further down the avenue to the petrobras station... (Petróleo Brasileiro S/A - Petrobras - is the state-owned oil company of brasil...) the air pump at petrobras didn't work either, and the two attendants hanging around the gas pump islands were competing with each other to see who could go the longest without looking at me...

feeling a little deflated myself, i went back to the house, where later i talked with my landlady... she reminded me that there was another service station just a few blocks in the other direction... she thought it was a shell station, but i knew just where she was talking about and remembered that it was a pdv station... (pdv is Petróleos de Venezuela S.A., and i'm sure you can already see where i'm going with this...) i walked the bike over there yesterday, and, yes, the air pump worked perfectly and there was also an attendant, a pleasant old man, who stood by just in case i needed any help...

so, there you have it... venezuela came through to save the day... do you suppose there's a message here somewhere...?

p.s. i neglected to mention that compressed air service, along with water, at all service stations in argentina is still FREE, which makes it all the more annoying when i pull in to a u.s. service station and note the increasingly rising prices at those goddam coin-operated machines that SELL AIR...

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Olbermann on the FISA bill: "If anyone is soft on terror, it is Mr. Bush;" Glenn on the Dems "holding tough"

< sigh > so true...

glenn thinks the spin that the democrats didn't "cave" is pure b.s...

It seems rather clear what happened here. There are certain amendments that are not going to get even 50 votes -- including the Dodd/Feingold amendment to strip telecom immunity out of the bill -- and, for that reason, Republicans were more than willing to agree to a 50-vote threshold, since they know those amendments won't pass even in a simple up-or-down vote.

But then, there are other amendments which might be able to get 50 votes, but cannot get 60 votes -- such as Feinstein's amendment to transfer the telecom cases to the FISA court and her other amendment providing that FISA is the "exclusive means" for eavesdropping -- and, thus, those are the amendments for which the GOP insisted upon a 60-vote requirement.

The whole agreement seems designed to ensure that the GOP gets everything they want -- that they are able to defeat all of the pending amendments which Dick Cheney dislikes, and to do so without having to engage in a real filibuster. In what conceivable way is this an instance of "Dems not caving" or "holding tough?"

even richard clarke was moved to weigh in via an op-ed in today's nyt...
For this president, fear is an easier political tactic than compromise. With FISA, he is attempting to rattle Congress into hastily expanding his own executive powers at the expense of civil liberties and constitutional protections. . . .

In these still treacherous times, we can't afford to have a president who leads by manipulating emotions with fear, flaunting the law, or abusing the very inalienable rights endowed to us by the Constitution. Though 9/11 changed the prism through which we view surveillance and intelligence, it did not in any way change the effectiveness of FISA to allow us to track and monitor our enemies. FISA has and still works as the most valuable mechanism for monitoring our enemies.

what can we do except continue to scream our heads off to our congresspeople and to publish and disseminate the truth to counteract the endless torrent of lies...?

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Microsoft + Yahoo ≠ good news for anyone

fewer and fewer owners, bigger and bigger companies - isp's, telcos, newspapers, television networks, radio stations - more and more opportunities for information to be shaped, controlled, and disseminated to serve the agendas of the powerful, monied elites...
Microsoft in $44.6 Billion Bid for Yahoo

The surprise offer of $31 a share, which represents a 62 percent premium on Thursday’s closing price, would bring relief to Yahoo’s long-suffering shareholders.

quite honestly, i don't give a goddam about yahoo's long-suffering shareholders... nobody's been holding a gun to their heads, forcing them to hang on to their stock... by contrast, nobody will HAVE to hold a gun to my head, forcing me to choose only one software company or isp when there's only one left...

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John McCain IS Dr. Strangelove

more good stuff from robert greenwald...

Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove

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Thursday, January 31, 2008


approximately one hour ago, the hit counter for this site clicked over to 150,000... yeah, i know... that's a relatively tiny number compared to the biggies, but, then again, i've never done what was necessary to take this humble weblog to that level... i realized early on that i had to speak with my own voice and was simply not willing to alter that for the sake of readership... so, what you see here, in company with my fellow bloggers, is what you get... if you like it, great... if you don't, that's ok too... anyway, for those who have been around for most of the ride so far, thanks... for those of you just jumping onboard, welcome... and, for those of you who couldn't care less, hey... i can get behind that...

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And, yes, I DO sometimes resort to fear-mongering

Calm down now, take a's Photoshop.

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"I think the Fed is bonkers" - a slightly different view of the Fed rate cut via Germany's Spiegel

there seems to be a lot of this "bonkers" stuff going around these days...

from spiegel online

Within the space of two weeks, the federal funds rate -- the rate at which banks lend each other money -- has been dropped by 1.25 percentage points. It's a record intervention, one which simultaneously sparks both hopes and fears.

"The Federal Reserve is obviously very nervous about what is going on in the financial system and the housing market," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's, in remarks to the Associated Press.

Some analysts were unsparing in their criticism of the move. "I think the Fed is bonkers," Allan Meltzer, an economist at Carnegie Mellon University, told the Los Angeles Times. Fed officials "frequently swear to themselves and to each other that they are not going to ease (interest rates) excessively, and then the economy slows a little and they do just that," he said.

you gotta believe the fed is scared as hell to be doing cuts this drastic and over such a short time interval...

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Roger Cohen entirely misses the point

he's writing about the interest the rest of the world is taking in the 2008 election...
There will certainly be new military and financial constraints on the next president after the incompetence and profligacy of the Bush years. But those years have also shown how little of significance happens without American leadership. That’s as true of Israel-Palestine as of the environment or Kosovo.

As this election campaign is demonstrating, the United States remains the most vital, open, self-renewing and democratic society on earth. In December 2007, there were 1,059,793 naturalization applications pending: one million people are not clamoring to join a nation in eclipse.


Far from paradoxical, the global fascination with this election is in fact logical. For where America leads, with post-Bush dexterity and purpose, the world will still follow.

did it ever occur to mr. cohen that all those non-u.s. people who are taking an interest in the u.s. election campaign desperately WANT the u.s. to be those things he talks about, every bit as much as u.s. citizens do, every bit as much as i do...? the u.s. represents a promise to the world, a promise on which we have reneged, but, just like me, there are lots of people who want it back, and are turning a keen eye to the u.s. to see what is going to happen... these people are AFRAID, mr. cohen... they've seen what's taken place in the last seven-plus years, and they're AFRAID...

when i went to the dentist here in buenos aires yesterday, we had no more than introduced ourselves when he asked me if i supported hillary or obama... this from a man whose parents migrated to argentina from croatia after wwII to escape socialism under tito... why does he care...? because he KNOWS that, unfortunately enough, so goes the u.s., so goes the rest of the world... for myself, i'd much prefer that we gain our credibility back, and nothing would do that faster or better than for the bush administration to be tossed out before the end of its term...

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Supporting our troops by driving them to commit suicide

tragic beyond words...

dana priest in the wapo...

Suicides among active-duty soldiers in 2007 reached their highest level since the Army began keeping such records in 1980, according to a draft internal study obtained by The Washington Post. Last year, 121 soldiers took their own lives, nearly 20 percent more than in 2006.

At the same time, the number of attempted suicides or self-inflicted injuries in the Army has jumped sixfold since the Iraq war began. Last year, about 2,100 soldiers injured themselves or attempted suicide, compared with about 350 in 2002, according to the U.S. Army Medical Command Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

compounding the tragedy is the unforgivable crime of our leaders to respond to the inevitable consequences of the horrors of war, which, given our all too recent history in vietnam, should have stopped us from waging this illegal war in the first goddam place...
The Army was unprepared for the high number of suicides and cases of post-traumatic stress disorder among its troops, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have continued far longer than anticipated. Many Army posts still do not offer enough individual counseling and some soldiers suffering psychological problems complain that they are stigmatized by commanders.

i'm sorry... there IS no excuse...

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Millions of children are being raised on prejudice and disinformation

aw, geeeez... more bullshit from foreign policy... check this out...

the title...

Europe’s Philosophy of Failure

now, for the meat...
In France and Germany, students are being forced to undergo a dangerous indoctrination. Taught that economic principles such as capitalism, free markets, and entrepreneurship are savage, unhealthy, and immoral, these children are raised on a diet of prejudice and bias. Rooting it out may determine whether Europe’s economies prosper or continue to be left behind.

Millions of children are being raised on prejudice and disinformation. Educated in schools that teach a skewed ideology, they are exposed to a dogma that runs counter to core beliefs shared by many other Western countries. They study from textbooks filled with a doctrine of dissent, which they learn to recite as they prepare to attend many of the better universities in the world. Extracting these children from the jaws of bias could mean the difference between world prosperity and menacing global rifts. And doing so will not be easy. But not because these children are found in the madrasas of Pakistan or the state-controlled schools of Saudi Arabia. They are not. Rather, they live in two of the world’s great democracies—France and Germany.

oh, my stars and garters... shocking... just SHOCKING...! "savage..." "unhealthy..." "immoral..." they certainly COULDN'T be talking about capitalism, free markets, and entrepreneurship...! oh, but wait...! yes, they ARE...! france and germany are DARING to challenge THE RELIGION OF CAPITALISM... how terribly cheeky of them...
The deep anti-market bias that French and Germans continue to teach challenges the conventional wisdom that it’s just a matter of time, thanks to the pressures of globalization, before much of the world agrees upon a supposedly “Western” model of free-market capitalism. Politicians in democracies cannot long fight the preferences of the majority of their constituents. So this bias will likely continue to circumscribe both European elections and policy outcomes. A likely alternative scenario may be that the changes wrought by globalization will awaken deeply held resentment against capitalism and, in many countries from Europe to Latin America, provide a fertile ground for populists and demagogues, a trend that is already manifesting itself in the sudden rise of many leftist movements today.

well, we CERTAINLY can't tolerate POPULISM, now, can we...?

i don't know about you, but i find this little screed terribly naive... by choosing to completely overlook the ravages caused by globalization, the breathtaking exploitation of people and resources wrought by capitalism, and the global financial chaos we are experiencing right at this moment from free and unregulated financial markets, the author is revealing himself as nothing more than a public relations shill for the global super-rich... like they need another apologist... i say, "bloody good for france and germany for trying to inject a little truth into their school curriculums..." it's a novel idea, but, who knows, it might catch on...

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You want to read something REALLY funny?

start with the title of this piece in the current edition of foreign policy...

The List: How to Steal an Election Without Breaking a Sweat

with me so far...? ok, NOW, let's look at the teaser...
From Abuja to Islamabad, autocratic regimes have become adept at manipulating “free and fair elections” to stay in power. Here’s how they do it—and how to stop them.

heaven forbid the u.s. would be included in the list...

anyway, here's a few of the things being "done" to steal elections and what we can "do" to "stop THEM"...

How it’s done: It’s much easier to steal an election when there are fewer checks on executive power and no legal framework for resolving disputes.

How to stop it: An independent judicial branch that is capable of arbitrating electoral disputes without partisan pressure is a must. It also helps if polls are managed by independent election commissions rather than interior ministries.

stop me if any of this sounds familiar...
How it’s done: In countries with little or no independent media outlets, opportunities are rife for leaders to use state-controlled media to broadcast propaganda or discredit the opposition.

How to stop it: The proliferation of Internet news sources and text messaging can make it harder to control the flow of information...

How it’s done: In close elections, a popular technique is to identify which polling stations are likely to be swing votes and replace trained election officials with government loyalists at the last minute.

How to stop it: Observers from international organizations are harder to remove and less susceptible to threats from local law enforcement personnel.

How it’s done: [O]fficial results are generally tabulated by officials at centralized locations away from public scrutiny, making deliberate miscounting all too easy.

How to stop it: [Use] mobile phones to text unofficial results to a central server, creating a tally that could be compared to officially released results

well, gosh, there's just lots and lots more, but you'll just have to go read it yourselves...

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Digby on Mukasey: "The ends justify the means"

it depends on what your definition of "is" is...

I'd like to once again thank all those who voted to confirm Michael Mukasey and those who didn't bother to vote. It was an excellent demonstration of leadership. (My recollection is that many of the Democrats felt they had already "won" by forcing out Alberto Gonzales.) But maybe next time, we could just have a a little baseline that the Attorney General of the United States can't believe that torture can legally be used if it might save lives. I think that might be considered a basic qualification going forward.

bastard... (i'm speaking of mukasey, of course...)

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A quarter of a percentage point...? N-O-O-O-OOOO...! Make it a HALF a percentage point...!

doofuses... dickheads... stop propping up the super-rich with OUR goddam money...
Fed Cuts Key Rate by Half-Point

Saying it was acting to head off a recession, the
policy-setting committee of the Federal Reserve Board reduced
its benchmark short-term interest rate, the federal funds
target, to 3 percent, from 3.5 percent.

let the whole goddam thing just COLLAPSE and let's get it the hell over with...

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Russ Feingold: "The government can suck up all your emails"

not only "can"... they've been doing it for a long time...

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The co-optation continues

read this carefully...
A US military base might be set up near the village of Chubra in the region of Bourgas, Chubra mayor Georgi Kendov said.

The municipality was hoping that establishing the base would lead to the modernisation of infrastructure in the region, Dnevnik daily said.

Kendov said that the money to be earned from the base could be used for a polyclinic and daily emergency centre with ambulances.

NATO asked if the former buildings of a tank brigade in the town of Aitos could be turned into a reserve storage base. NATO planned to store here the equipment for one or two battalions, which would be based in the military bases of Novo Selo and Bezmer.

The US investment in the municipalities where military bases would be set up, would be nearly $200 million, Dnevnik said.

In late December 2007, at a public discussion, experts explained that the bases would remain Bulgarian, under Bulgarian flag and command. The villages near the bases would benefit from infrastructure development. The US planned charity for the social institutions in the region of the bases, Dnevnik said.

Sungulare mayor Georgi Kenov said that the bases were a possible way to solve some of the problems in the municipality, including unemployment.

i've driven through many small towns in the balkans, bulgaria included... the same thing is happening to them that is happening to small towns all over the world, only with an additional twist... small towns in hundreds of countries are being essentially abandoned as community residents move to urban centers in search of employment and a better life, leaving the community's poor, children, and elderly with diminishing or non-existent services and a rotting infrastructure...*

in the former socialist countries, there's an extra twist... prior to the socialist collapse, many small communities in countries like bulgaria relied on some form of manufacturing, food processing, agriculture, military activity, or other economic base to sustain them, all of which were placed there by the command economy of the socialist state... with the fall of socialism and the mad rush to privatization, much of that local economic base disappeared, virtually overnight... driving through these small towns, you can often see massive factories, shuttered, looted, and empty, broken windows everywhere, surrounded by apartment blocks filled with people barely making it... by contrast, capitals like sofia are bustling and apparently prospering, that is unless you consider the shanty-towns springing up all around the outskirts...

is it any wonder communities like the ones described above, notwithstanding bulgaria's new status as a member of the european union, are susceptible to the blandishments of nato and the united states when their very survival is at stake...?

* as an example, i am currently typing this in buenos aires, argentina... the city proper, capital federal, has approximately 5 million residents... the metro area, gran buenos aires, has roughly 17 million residents... argentina, in terms of land mass, is the 7th largest country in the world, and has 35 million people in TOTAL, which means that more than half of the people live in a single urban area...

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rudy could disappear from the public eye permanently and no one would be the worse off... edwards, on the other hand, was the only real voice speaking out against our corporate rulers...

p.s. in all the blather i'm reading about rudy's spectacular flame-out, i am seeing nothing whatsoever about the precise point at which his free-fall started, namely the scandal involving nyc paying for expenses related to his mistress while he was mayor... ain't THAT interestin'...?

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Light posting today...



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Juan Cole on the SOTU: "He won't be missed"

wasn't interested, didn't watch it and, other than this from juan cole, so far haven't read anything about it, but nevertheless thought professor cole's summary and rebuttal must be about as good as it gets...
When Bush first came in, the comedian Will Ferrell did a skit on the television show "Saturday Night Live" that depicted the president cowering under his desk as bombs went off in Washington and the country went down the tubes. Coming after the prosperity and relative peace of the Clinton years, it seemed a fantastic parody. Little did we know that if anything SNL did not begin to capture the full extent of the catastrophe.

Nobody cares any more, unlike in 2003 when shills for the war were always on my case to "report the good news" and lay off Bush. Some of my "arguments with Bush" during the past 7 years were internet bestsellers. Now, the man has discredited himself so badly, he can't even get people to so much as yawn at him. But in honor of all those arguments of the past, I'm doing it one last time.

As usual, most of what he said in the State of the Union address was transparent lies. He praised private groups for doing charity work in Louisiana because he hasn't followed through on his own promises after Katrina. He did that phony thing of reporting the average tax "increase" if his "tax cuts" were allowed to expire. If I'm in the room with someone who made a billion dollars last year and Bush doesn't cut my taxes at all but he cuts those of the billionaire such that he saves 5% of his income, then the two of us in the room have an average tax cut of $25 million apiece. But in the real world, I get bupkus and the billionaire gets $50 million. That shell game sums up the Republican "tax cut" scam they keep running on the American middle class, which always falls for it.

So here are some last arguments with the man's bald faced lies, for old times sake.

Bush assertion: "We believe that the most reliable guide for our country is the collective wisdom of ordinary citizens."

Sad Fact: Indiana GOP tries to keep ordinary citizens from voting with restrictive photo identification law.

Bush assertion: "And so, in all we do, we must trust in the ability of free peoples to make wise decisions and empower them to improve their lives for their futures."

Sad fact: Amit Paley writes, "A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State Department and independent researchers.
In Baghdad, for example, nearly three-quarters of residents polled said they would feel safer if U.S. and other foreign forces left Iraq, with 65 percent of those asked favoring an immediate pullout . . ."

Bush assertion: "We've seen Afghans emerge from the tyranny of the Taliban and choose a new president and a new parliament."

Sad fact: "Afghanistan Journalist sentenced to Death for Blasphemy" and I don't think women would agree with Bush's rosy picture of progressive democracy in Kabul. Not to mention that half the country's gross domestic product is generated by the heroin trade. Bush goes on to say that his democratic projects are only being interrupted by terrorists; but all the problems above are problems with the establishment, not with terror groups.

Bush assertion: "From expanding opportunity to protecting our country, we've made good progress."

Sad fact: Bush's Iraq is a major generator of terrorism, which it was not before 2003. "Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the prime training ground for foreign terrorists who could travel elsewhere across the globe and wreak havoc, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials and classified studies" by the CIA and the Department of State, Warren P. Strobel reported July 4, 2005. "Iraq's emergence as a terrorist training ground appears to challenge President Bush's rationale for invading and overthrowing leader Saddam Hussein in March 2003," Strobel wrote." So we are safer how again?

Bush assertion: "We launched a surge of American forces into Iraq. We gave our troops a new mission: Work with the Iraqi forces to protect the Iraqi people, pursue the enemy in his strongholds, and deny the terrorists sanctuary anywhere in the country."

Sad fact: "The Iraqi Red Crescent Organization and the U.N. reported last month that the "number of Iraqis fleeing their homes has soared since the American troop increase began in February". . . The chart reports some decreases in the intensity of "ethno-sectarian violence" in certain Baghdad districts (Note: This is based on military data). But where there have been decreases, they are due largely to the fact that "mixed Muslim" areas are being overrun by either Shia or Sunni enclaves.The map above demonstrates that Shias have been gradually taking over all of Baghdad (noted by the green mass that now covers much of the city), wiping out Sunni communities that stood in their path. Center for American Progress analyst Brian Katulis estimated that Baghdad, which once used to be a 65 percent Sunni majority city, is now 75 percent Shia."

A large proportion of the 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Damascus was displaced to Syria during 2007, apparently as a side effect of Bush's troop surge.

So all this involves "protecting the Iraqi people" how, exactly? Does Bush think Iraqis are safer when they are refugees in a foreign country?

He won't be missed.

now, if we can just figure out how to remove the legacy of unfettered, criminal executive power along with the man...

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Sibel Edmonds: "I have one message for the US media: If they think this is over, it's not over."

luke ryland interviews sibel...
Luke Ryland: Why has the US failed on this story so dramatically for 6 years?

Sibel Edmonds:
[...] With the US media, it appears as though if there is no clear partisan angle, then there's no story. As you know, this case is spread over two administrations, and that appears to make it difficult for the reporters to cover the story. Even within one news organization you might have one journalist who wants to use the story to indict Clinton, and another who wants to use the story to bash Bush, and in the end neither of them write about the story because it doesn't fit their partisanship, their 'narrative', so they just drop it altogether.

I had such high hopes for the alternative press, and they do a lot of good work, but partisanship repeatedly gets in the way there too, on both sides.


The other major problem in the US is the focus on symptoms, rather than root causes.


I have one message for the US media: If they think this is over, it's not over. Much more will come out. They won't be able to ignore it any longer, and so I hope they get over any reluctance they might have.

sibel articulates my own view of the alternative press and the so-called "liberal," "progressive" blogosphere in both of her accusations, partisanship AND looking at symptoms rather than causes...

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Greenwald: "Are there any limits at all on the willingness of Congressional Democrats to be bullied and humiliated by Republicans?"

glenn writes on bush's threatened veto of the 60-day fisa extension...
This veto threat is one of the President's most brazen acts ever, so nakedly exposing the fun and games he routinely plays with National Security Threats. After sending Mike McConnell out last August to warn that we will all die without the PAA, Bush now says that he would rather let it expire than give Congress another 30 days. He just comes right out and announces, then, that he will leave us all vulnerable to a Terrorist Attack unless he not only gets everything he wants from Congress -- all his new warrantless eavesdropping powers made permanent plus full immunity for his lawbreaking telecom partners -- but also gets it exactly when he wants it (i.e., now -- not 30 days from now).

If the Democrats had even the slightest strategic sense and/or courage -- just the slightest amount -- this is a political confrontation they would be uncontrollably eager to have. Just imagine if they sustain the filibuster today and instead pass a 30-day extension of the PAA, and then Bush vetoes it, knowingly choosing to leave the intelligence community without the ability to Listen In When Osama Is Calling. It would be the height of political stupidity for Democrats to be afraid of that outcome.

* * * * *

That's what is at stake today as Senate Democrats try to sustain a filibuster against the Republicans' efforts to force a final vote on the truly pernicious Senate Intelligence Committee bill. Are there any limits at all on the willingness of Congressional Democrats to be bullied and humiliated by Republicans, even by the most transparently disingenuous tactics such as these?


The veto threat from the President is so unbelievably corrupt and manipulative that if our national press had even the smallest amount of critical faculties and understanding of the issues, that veto threat would be a major story. After all, how can the President possibly threaten the country that he will veto a law that he himself has claimed for months is indispensable for Protecting Us All?


Any rational person has long ago given up the hope that Congressional Democrats will stand for any actual political convictions, but the most basic sense of personal pride and human dignity -- which one thought was an intrinsic part of human nature -- would preclude their capitulation today. If they don't stand up to the White House and Senate Republicans under these circumstances, one might as well accept that they never will do so.

when the results of the 2006 mid-term elections came out, i spent the entire day in a buoyant mood, thinking that perhaps, at last, the tide was turning and that the most corrupt and criminal presidential administration in history would finally be held accountable, that unfettered executive power would be put in check, and that the separate but equal balance of powers laid out in the constitution would be restored... after congress began its new session in january, it didn't take any longer than the first few weeks to see that my hopes were sadly misplaced... the much-ballyhooed democratic takeover of congress only served to throw the criminal complicity of the democrats into high relief... i spent many months after that, huffing and puffing, elevating my blood pressure through outbursts of indignation and outrage, all for naught... now, the thought of there being only one or two senators (dodd and maybe feingold) standing between the citizens of the united states, our constitution, and the darkest cabal in world history, is not a comforting thought...

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How to kill democracy

brasscheck tv...

From Episode Two of the film series "The Century of the Self" by Adam Curtis. The nephew of Sigmund Freud, Edward Bernays started his ... all » business life as a publicist. While still in his twenties, he was part of the propaganda effort that drove the United States into in World War I (WW I.)

He personally advised several US presidents starting with Woodrow Wilson and counseled numerous corporations and business associations. Hitler's propaganda chief and Nazi henchman Joseph Goebbels was a reader and fan of Bernay's writing in particular Bernay's book "Crystalizing Public Opinion."

In this short excerpt from Curtis's film we see one example of Bernays at work.

Bernays was one of the engineers of the Cold War. He perfected the technique of manufacturing a distant but ever-threatening enemy and then creating a constant state of fear by generating false news reports that endlessly re-stated and exagerated the threat.

The stated purpose of Bernay's methods was to give those in power greater control over what he called "the mass mind." It worked well in the 1950s and sadly, it appears to be working quite well today... but maybe not forever.

more of the REAL history of the u.s...

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Safeguarding the ballots in New Hampshire

from black box voting...

yeah... i'm greatly reassured, aren't you...?

(thanks to kevin at cryptogon...)

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The Republican game plan

hey...! it's their plan and they're STICKIN' to it...!

(thanks to avedon posting at atrios...)

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Glenn Greenwald discovers the REAL Bill Clinton

and about damn time, too...

I've thought most of the criticisms of the Clintons' campaign, including the role played by Bill, have been overblown. Given the standard level of campaign rhetoric, and particularly considering the bile that will be launched towards Obama from the currently pro-Obama right-wing noise machine if he's the nominee, most of the "controversial" comments have been rather mild, standard election fare, generating interest primarily because it was coming from the Clintons.

Beyond that, it seemed most of the efforts to inject dramatic racial conflict into the contest were media-driven rather than an intentional Clinton strategy. And all of the grave concern over how Bill Clinton is sullying the majestic glory of his status as an ex-president -- all because he is, as anyone would, actively and aggressively campaigning for his spouse -- has struck me as silly and slightly pompous.

But the last few days have changed my view on those matters substantially. The Clintons' strategy has become increasingly trashy, even ugly, and yesterday's remarks by Bill Clinton -- in which he pointedly compared Obama's candidacy to Jesse Jackson's and thus implicitly (though clearly) dismissed South Carolina as a state where the "black candidate" wins, followed up by the Clinton campaign's anonymous branding of Obama as "the black candidate" -- reeked of desperation.

when bill clinton was running for his first term, i had an immediate and visceral gut reaction when he first began to appear as a strong candidate on the national scene, and it was not a positive reaction... to this day, i still can't put it into words or make real sense out of it... terms like "slick willy," and "too smooth" come to mind, but still don't really capture it... however, i was convinced by my first cousin's husband, an accomplished attorney and a southern democrat, that clinton was the man to support, and i reluctantly jumped on the bandwagon...

life during the 8 years of bill's reign was at least ok, if not great, but i remained uncomfortable and there remained a strong underlying suspicion that, at some level, the american people were being sold out just as effectively as we were under george h.w., altho', in grand democratic tradition and in contrast to the r's, there was at least no sand in the vaseline...

hindsight is a wonderful thing... as i look back on bill's tenure, i now see clearly the many ways that he took america to the cleaners, from nafta to the quiet and inexorable seizing of ever more executive power... i see how we were craftily led down the economic and financial rabbit hole, a descent that is paying its horrible dividends today... and, as if to cement my concerns, i've watched in fascinated horror at the blooming, but, i suspect, far from new, love fest between bill and george h.w...

given bill's role in his wife's campaign, and given his wife's noxious roll of national security and foreign policy advisors, to say nothing of her despicable campaign manager, mark penn, i believe the only thing worse for the united states than a hillary presidency would be another republican president... bill and hillary are a team aligned with dark forces and, as a country, we are long overdue in recognizing that fact...

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Our puppet, Pervez, decides he wants to be a "REAL" boy

pinocchio cuts his strings and flips off BOTH uncle mike AND uncle mike...
The top two U.S. intelligence officials made a secret visit to Pakistan in early January to seek permission from President Pervez Musharraf for greater involvement of American forces in trying to ferret out al-Qaida and other militant groups active in the tribal regions along the Afghanistan border, a senior U.S. official said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity given the secret nature of the talks, declined to disclose what was said, but Musharraf was quoted two days after the Jan. 9 meeting as saying U.S. troops would be regarded as invaders if they crossed into Pakistan to hunt al-Qaida militants.

The New York Times — which first reported on the secret visit by CIA Director Michael Hayden and Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence — said Musharraf rebuffed an expansion of an American presence in Pakistan at the meeting, either through overt CIA. missions or by joint operations with Pakistani security forces.

careful, pervez... you don't want to put your allowance at risk...

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Sibel Edmonds claims now tied to Valerie Plame and Brewster Jennings

for the third sunday, beginning on january 6 (previous articles here and here), the uk london sunday times continues to not only scoop every u.s. news outlet on the sibel edmonds story, but also to hurl a gale-force wind at the bush house of cards...
AN investigation into the illicit sale of American nuclear secrets was compromised by a senior official in the State Department, a former FBI employee has claimed.

The official is said to have tipped off a foreign contact about a bogus CIA company used to investigate the sale of nuclear secrets.

The firm, Brewster Jennings & Associates, was a front for Valerie Plame, the former CIA agent. Her public outing two years later in 2003 by White House officials became a cause célèbre.

The claims that a State Department official blew the investigation into a nuclear smuggling ring have been made by Sibel Edmonds, 38, a former Turkish language translator in the FBI’s Washington field office.

Edmonds had been employed to translate hundreds of hours of intercepted recordings made during a six-year FBI inquiry into the nuclear smuggling ring.

She has previously told The Sunday Times she heard evidence that foreign intelligence agents had enlisted US officials to acquire a network of moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions.

Her latest claims relate to a number of intercepted recordings believed to have been made between the summer and autumn of 2001. At that time, foreign agents were actively attempting to acquire the West’s nuclear secrets and technology.

luke ryland, who has been on top of the sibel story for nearly two years, offers this disturbing update on apparent bush administration reaction to the recent media attention...
Significantly, since the Times began this series three weeks ago, the White House has quietly moved to legalize the sale of nuclear technology to Turkey in an apparent attempt to 'Exonerate Neocon Criminals' who have been illegally selling this technology for a decade. Congress has 90 days to block this legislation, otherwise it becomes law. If Turkey wants and deserves nuclear technology, this decision should be made openly and transparently, not the result of stealth decisions made by this administration to hide crimes of senior US officials.

We need public open hearings to determine which officials have been supplying the nuclear black market before this becomes law.

it's more than astounding that our complicit u.s. news media continue to stonewall this story when it's creating tidal waves of reaction everwhere outside the u.s... 'course, look at how long they were able to delay reporting the downing street memo...

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Something is wrong with George Bush

see for yourself...


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