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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 06/15/2008 - 06/22/2008
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Traveling... Not much posting...

so, enjoy this as a nice change of pace...

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Friday, June 20, 2008

The Democrats are covering their own asses by supporting the odious FISA bill

jonathan turley on countdown with keith olbermann...

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clammyc on Nancy P and the odious FISA bill "compromise"

nancy and her esteemed congressional colleagues obviously believe in their dark little hearts that there aren't people out there who are actually paying attention to this shit and have memories of events that stretch back longer than last night...

You have got to be kidding me, Nancy Hotlist

Thu Jun 19, 2008 at 06:01:57 PM PDT

Over in the comments at Swampland, there is the text of a statement by Pelosi regarding the abomination that is the FISA compromise coming to a vote tomorrow. And, assuming that this statement is Pelosi’s, there is this head smacking passage in the statement (emphasis added):

Tomorrow, we will be taking up the FISA bill. As you probably know, the bill has been filed. It is a balanced bill. I could argue it either way, not being a lawyer, but nonetheless, I could argue it either way. But I have to say this about it: it's an improvement over the Senate bill and I say that as a strong statement. The Senate bill is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. This bill improves upon the Senate bill.

But you probably know that. What you may not know is that it's improvement over the original FISA bill as well. So it makes progress in the right direction. But these bills depend on the commitment to the Constitution of the President of the United States and of his Justice Department. So while some may have some complaints about this, that, or the other about the bill, it is about the enforcement, it is about the implementation of the law where our constitutional rights are protected.

Now, if I may ask, Madame Speaker, "what the fuck?"

What, over the past 7 years, makes you think that there is any way in hell that Bush or his Justice Department will do anything other than scoff at the rule of law or the Constitution? Look at each of the three Attorneys General, just for starters. The BEST thing that can be said about any of them is that John Ashcroft had a moment of clarity when he was gravely ill.


What happened to your statement about the big difference between your Congress and the prior ones is subpoena power. And how did that work out for you?

This administration has ignored subpoenas, destroyed email servers, illegally disenfranchised voters by the tens of thousands, approved of torture, illegally manufactured "evidence" to invade one country and wants to do the same to another, shredded the very Constitution that you "hope" that they will uphold, illegally politicized the US Attorneys, blew the cover of a covert CIA operative, negligently (at best) allowed a major city to be drowned by a natural disaster that was foreseen by everyone, and has engaged in rendition, just to mention a few things.

But that isn’t even the point.

The so-called "leadership" that was entrusted to you was abrogated the moment that you took impeachment off the table. The fact that some of the better successes of the Democratic "led" Congress, such as the minimum wage increase, the extension of unemployment benefits and some other bills are now just the lipstick on the pig that is a horrific occupation funding bill and an unacceptable FISA "compromise".

On what planet will this President abide by anything - the same President who lied over 900 times in the run up to the Iraq invasion? The same President who ignored hundreds of bills with signing statements. And if John McCain wins in November, do you really think that he will abide by the Constitution?

Actually, you probably do think that he will, so never mind there.

This is an issue that the American people are very clearly against. Yet, you seem to think that by trusting a President and a Justice Department to "do the right thing", that you can wash your hands of your responsibilities to America and the Constitution.

That is completely unacceptable, and stunning that someone who made it all the way to third in line for the Presidency would say something that is so very ignorant.

Update [2008-6-19 21:31:52 by clammyc]: For great in depth analysis, check out Greenwald (as always).

doubtlessly, among the TONS of people out there who are clueless about the unconscionable damage that is being done to our republic, our constitution, and the very fundamentals upon which our nation was founded, there are those who believe this is yet another demonstration of congressional democratic spinelessness... to those people i say, WAKE THE HELL UP...!

repeat after me...





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34.7% inflation rate in Argentina


holy crap...! and i'm heading back there next month to spend some quality r&r time in my little place... guess i better bring extra money...
Argentines’ inflation expectations for next 12 months: 34.7%

Argentines expect consumer prices to increase on average 34.7% in the coming twelve months, which is slightly lower than the previous report, according to the latest release from the Finance Research Center belonging to the Torcuato Di Tella Univeristy.
“Inflation expectations for the coming twelve months remain above 30% according to the average reply, while dropping 1.8 percentage points compared to the previous average”, indicates the release.

However “inflation expectations are virtually double those of June last year”.

These expectations vary according to the region of Argentina: in the capital Buenos Aires the rate remains high at 36.5%; in the Great (metropolitan) Buenos Aires drops to 33.1% and in the rest of the country climbs to 36.7%.

and what's the "official" inflation rate according to the totally out-of-touch and lying through its teeth government of cristina fernandez de kirchner...?
The Argentine Central Bank monthly survey estimates inflation in the next twelve months to be in the range of 9.7%.

that would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic and if the real rate of inflation wasn't taking such a toll on the folks least able to deal with it...

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"Deal" on the FISA law...? "Deal"...? For whom...? Not the American people, that's for DAMN sure...!

from today's nyt...
Deal Is Struck to Overhaul Wiretap Law
The deal reached by leaders in Congress overhauls the rules on the government’s wiretapping powers and provides some immunity to the phone companies.

whatever thread you choose to follow, money or power, it all leads to the same place, a place that has absolutely NOTHING to do with constitutional protections, civil liberties or the common good of u.s. citizens...

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Friday photoblogging - Miami

i took this panorama photo of miami from my hotel room window last evening... the miami herald is in the brown building in the center left and biscayne bay is in the left background... you can just see the start of the port of miami at the extreme left...

Downtown Miami and Biscayne Bay
(click on photo for larger version)

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Building the "Bush Legacy" bus

a slideshow...

"Bush Legacy" bus

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The U.S. effort to control Iraqi oil continues a 100-year campaign of Western interference

juan cole...
Poor Iraq has been looted, occupied, and disrupted by the industrialized West for a century because of the curse of its oil wealth.

professor cole also offers this fascinating little tidbit...
Bush and Cheney clearly went into Iraq primarily in order to put US petroleum firms in precisely this favored position, although that is not the same thing as saying that the oil majors plumped for the war. It is more likely that smaller, hungrier concerns were eager for Iraq to be opened; Cheney was CEO of one of those firms 1995-2000, i.e. Halliburton, which might well have gone bankrupt without the no-bid contracts he was able to throw it once he arranged for the US invasion.

patrick cockburn in the independent...
Nearly four decades after the four biggest Western oil companies were expelled from Iraq by Saddam Hussein, they are negotiating their return. By the end of the month, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil and Total will sign agreements with the Baghdad government, Iraq's first with big Western oil firms since the US-led invasion in 2003.


The major oil companies have been eager to go back to Iraq, but are concerned about their own security and the long-term stability of the country. The two-year no-bid agreements are service agreements that should add another 500,000 barrels of crude a day of output to Iraq's present production of 2.5 million barrels a day (b/d).

The companies have the option of being paid in cash or crude oil for the deals, each of which will reportedly be worth $500m (£250m). For Iraq, the agreements are a way of accessing foreign expertise immediately, before the Iraqi parliament passes a controversial new hydrocarbons law.


For the four oil giants, the new agreements will bring them back to a country where they have a long history. BP, Exxon Mobil, Total and Shell were co-owners of a British, American and French consortium that kept Iraq's oil reserves in foreign control for more than 40 years.

The Iraq Petroleum Company (once the Turkish Petroleum Company) was formed in 1912 by oil companies eager to grab the resources in parts of the Ottoman Empire.

over five years after the u.s. began the illegal iraq war and well over a year after the attempt to pass the iraq oil law ground to a standstill (see my previous posts here), my country soldiers on in its quest to control iraqi oil...

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A sad but sweet story from Gaza


Kite-flying on the
Gaza-Egypt border

this story reminds me of when i arrived in kabul in late march (see previous post here)... it was still kite season and, in the afternoon, after school let out, the skies over the city were filled with kites... there's something about a kite that lifts my spirit...
Mahmoud Abu Teior (13) knows it's Abdullah's kite up in the skies, though he has never seen Abdullah. But that kite rises into the skies from just that place on the Egyptian side of the border across from Gaza. And, Mahmoud knows Abdullah's voice because they speak sometimes. They have never met, and likely never will, but they are connected through their kites.

It's that time of the year. The holidays bring scores of children to play together – across the dividing line. And despite the iron wall of separation, they form friendships.

Mahmoud has always known the border as playground. This is where the family home was before it was demolished to make room for the border wall. "I always come here because this is where our house used to be," he says, launching his kite.

Most children still play from 'home', where Block O, Yebna, Block J, or the al-Salam neighbourhood used to be. The playground is that strip of no man's land known as the Philadelphia corridor, created over 2,400 homes razed ahead of the 'disengagement' by Israel in 2005. That 'disengagement' made about 16,800 people homeless here, according to UN figures.

Only kites can now cross the border. And up in the skies you can almost tell some of the Gaza kites apart. These are the ones made with newspapers and with plastic bags as sail, with some thorns stuck on for the dogfight up there. The usual materials like paper and glue to make a kite are scarce in Gaza.

Khalid Zanoun, 12, like the others, always picks the spot where his house once stood. Up in the skies, he suddenly loses his kite in a dogfight. "He ran away from me!" he screams, looking at his disappearing kite, fists clenched. But soon he is beaming again, preparing another kite for the next battle with his unseen mates on the other side.

Curiosity led him some time back to scale the wall and see what his mates look like. "This is not allowed any more," he says. "The Hamas guards on our side and the Egyptian border guards on the other stop us."

Not entirely, though, because boys will be boys. If nothing, they climb up just to say hello to the Egyptian guards.

It's the better world on the other side. The Egyptian boys have better kites, and they have shoes. In Gaza, most children run barefoot on the sizzling hot soil. Shoes have been priced out of reach for most people, as so many things are nowadays as a result of the Israeli siege.

as long as there are still boys who fly kites, there's some hope for this world...

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My kinda guy, my kinda life...

Living the dream

well, it's not exactly MY dream, but pretty damn close...

from the la times...

Eight years ago, Dave Dixon set himself some lofty goals, especially for an unemployed, twice-divorced middle-aged man with no savings. He wanted to live on the water in Newport Beach. He didn't care to work too much. And he aspired to play golf and tennis several times a week.

Today, Dixon, 60, is living his dream, albeit with some compromises. He lives aboard a weathered, beat-up 37-foot mahogany boat he bought on a credit card for $10,000. Lacking a permanent mooring, he often is forced to anchor in the open sea off Corona del Mar, and for hot showers he uses the Orange County Harbor Patrol's guest facilities.

Yet he works only about 15 hours a week, singing at private parties and two Orange County restaurants to cover his lean $565 in monthly expenses (not including food). He gets out on the tennis court or links almost every day, enough to whittle down his golf handicap to seven and his weight by 40 pounds. And he is rocked to sleep each night by the rhythm of the water, surrounded by multimillion-dollar views of the bay.

altho' i pretty much live this kind of life right now, going where i want, and doing what i want, i also have a need to be able to use my talents (and those talents don't include singing, believe me!)... the challenge is finding venues to use those talents that don't include chaining me to a desk or otherwise placing me in indentured servitude...

check out the slide show... it will make the wage slaves among you weep...

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"If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong"

a quote for the ages...

from think progress...

Having "spent several months experimenting with the limits of physical and psychological pressure," military officers at Guantánamo Bay turned to the CIA in late 2002 "to find ways to get terrorism suspects to talk." CIA lawyer Jonathan M. Fredman "explained that the definition of illegal torture was ‘written vaguely’" and "subject to perception." "If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong," Fredman said.

it was "written vaguely," and made "subject to perception" on friggin', goddam PURPOSE... make no mistake...

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Peace in Gaza...? An end to the siege...?


some good news amidst the gloom of the world situation in general and the fact that george w. bush is still president of the united states...
The Gaza Strip's ruling Hamas militant group said Tuesday it has reached a cease-fire with Israel meant to halt a cycle of deadly Palestinian rocket attacks that rained hundreds of rockets on Israel in the past year and Israeli reprisals that have killed hundreds of Palestinians.

The accord, set to go into effect at 6 a.m. Thursday (11 p.m. EDT Wednesday), has the bigger aim of ending Israel's yearlong economic blockade of Gaza and bringing home a captive Israeli soldier.

But the phased approach is prone to pitfalls, and past truces have quickly broken down. Israel cautiously promised a "new reality" if the rocket fire ends.

please, lord, let it stick and let the criminal siege of gaza be at an end...

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No, John McCain, you can't have Alex

from moveon...

and you can't have my two grandsons, ages 6 and 9, either...

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Re-electing the Republican party would be to "murder liberty in America"

as always, food for thought from paul craig roberts who makes the case for electing obama, despite some serious reservations...
Where is the hope when Obama endorses a foreign policy that benefits only Israeli territorial expansion and an economic policy that benefits only multimillionaires and billionaires?

The answer is that Obama’s election would signify the electorate’s rejection of Bush and the Republicans. Considering the cowardice of the Democratic Congress and its reluctance to hold a criminal regime accountable, electoral defeat is the only accountability that the Bush Republicans are likely to experience.

It is not sufficient accountability, but at least it is some accountability.

If the Republicans win the election and escape accountability, the damage Republicans have done to the US Constitution, civil liberty, and a free society will be irreversible. The Bush Regime and its totalitarians have openly violated US law against spying on Americans without warrants and US and international laws against torture. The regime and its totalitarians have violated the Constitution that they are sworn to uphold. Bush’s attorney general Gonzales even asserted to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the US Constitution does not provide habeas corpus protection to American citizens.

When federal courts acted to stop the regime’s unconstitutional practices and abuse of prisoners, the Republicans passed legislation to overturn the court rulings. The Republican Party has shown beyond all doubt that it holds the US Constitution in total contempt. Today the Republican Party stands for unaccountable executive power.

To reelect such a party is to murder liberty in America.


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BREAKING: Gore's endorsement

and here ya have it...

fresh out of my email...

Dear xxxxx,

A few hours from now I will step on stage in Detroit, Michigan to announce my support for Senator Barack Obama. From now through Election Day, I intend to do whatever I can to make sure he is elected President of the United States.

Over the next four years, we are going to face many difficult challenges -- including bringing our troops home from Iraq, fixing our economy, and solving the climate crisis. Barack Obama is clearly the candidate best able to solve these problems and bring change to America.

This moment and this election are too important to let pass without taking action. That's why I am asking you to join me in showing your support by making a contribution to this campaign today:

Over the past 18 months, Barack Obama has united a movement. He knows change does not come from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or Capitol Hill. It begins when people stand up and take action.

With the help of millions of supporters like you, Barack Obama will bring the change we so desperately need in order to solve our country's most pressing problems.
If you've already contributed to this campaign, I ask that you consider making another contribution right now. If you haven't, please take the next step and own a piece of this campaign today:

On the issues that matter most, Barack Obama is clearly the right choice to lead our nation.

We have a lot of work to do in the next few months to elect Barack Obama president, and it begins by making a contribution to this campaign today.

Thank you for joining me,

Al Gore

LIVE TONIGHT -- 8:30 p.m. EDT: Watch streaming video of Al Gore and Barack Obama at a rally in Detroit, Michigan

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Here We Go Again

We should be hiring......and listening to.......some Russian advisors.

From the International Herald Tribune......

Taliban fighters take over several
Afghan villages

Hundreds of Taliban fighters invaded villages just outside Afghanistan's second-largest city Monday, forcing NATO and Afghan troops to rush in while frightened residents fled.

The Taliban assault on the outskirts of Kandahar is the latest display of prowess by the militants despite a record number of U.S. and NATO troops in the country.

The push into the Arghandab district — a lush region filled with grape and pomegranate groves that the Soviet army could never conquer — comes three days after a Taliban attack on Kandahar's prison that freed 400 insurgent fighters.

Those fighters, NATO conceded Monday, appear to be massing on the doorstep of the Taliban's former power base. The city of Kandahar lies only 10 miles to the southeast.

The sophisticated and successful jailbreak, followed by the movement into Arghandab, is the latest evidence of the Taliban's growing strength. The U.S. and NATO have pleaded for more troops in the last year and now have 65,000 in the country. But the militants are still finding successes the international alliance can't counter.


A large river bisects Arghandab's fertile lands. The east side, closest to Kandahar, is controlled by NATO and Afghan troops, Farooq said. The area to the river's west is now controlled by the Taliban.
"The Taliban told us to leave. They are planting mines everywhere," said Shafiq Khan, who was moving his wife, seven children and brother out of Arghandab in a small truck late Monday. Khan reported that helicopters were patrolling the skies. "The people are scared," he said bycell phone.
Arghandab lies just northwest of Kandahar, and a tribal leader from the region warned that the militants could use the cover from Arghandab's orchards to mount an attack on the city.
"All of Arghandab is made of orchards. The militants can easily hide and easily fight," said Haji Ikramullah Khan. "It's quite close to Kandahar. During the Russian war, the Russians didn't even occupy Arghandab, because when they fought here they suffered big casualties."

Sarah Chayes, who runs a non-governmental organization in Kandahar that makes and sells soap and body oils, said on her Web site that Arghandab "is currently acting as the dike protecting Kandahar from a surge of Taliban presence."

"And Arghandab, as Mullah Naqib proved during the anti-Soviet jihad, is a formidable place for a resistance movement to be based. Once well ensconced there, the Taliban would be nearly impossible to dislodge."

Some learn from others' mistakes.....................
And then, some don't.

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Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face............

Reuters has the story......

Iran withdraws $75 billion from Europe: report

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has withdrawn around $75 billion from Europe to prevent the assets from being blocked under threatened new sanctions over Tehran's disputed nuclear ambitions, an Iranian weekly said.


"Part of Iran's assets in European banks have been converted to gold and shares and another part has been transferred to Asian banks," Mohsen Talaie, deputy foreign minister in charge of economic affairs, was quoted as saying.

Iranian officials were not immediately available to comment on the report in Shahrvand-e Emrouz, a moderate weekly, which did not specify the time period for the withdrawals which it said were ordered by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"About $75 billion of Iran's foreign assets which were under threat of being blocked were wired back to Iran based on Ahmadinejad's order," the weekly said.


EU diplomats have said the bloc is preparing an asset and funds freeze on Iran's biggest bank, state-owned Bank Melli, but that it first wants to see how Tehran responds to the new offer.

Iran is making windfall gains from record global oil prices and said in April its foreign exchange reserves stood at more than $80 billion.

Iran's foreign reserves figure has been climbing steadily. Some analysts say that, alongside rising oil revenues, Iran has been helped by its decision to shift away from the U.S. dollar into other currencies as the dollar has weakened.

Iran has made the shift as Washington has tried to isolate the Islamic state, including imposing sanctions on Iranian banks. That has pushed many Western banks to scrap dollar dealings with Iran or even end business completely.

Well, at least it'll make the Asians happy.

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Certain things you can ALWAYS rely on with George Bush

contemptuousness, arrogance and condescension...

froomkin in the wapo...

President Bush's contempt for those who question him or doubt his accomplishments has been on full display lately.

That two thirds of Americans are now in that category apparently hasn't made him any more receptive to their concerns-- quite the opposite.

When British Sky News reporter Adam Boulton today challenged Bush on his dedication to freedom, suggesting that Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib represented "the complete opposite of freedom," Bush accused Boulton of "slander[ing] America."

Evidently still smarting about the Supreme Court's rejection of his detainee policies last week, Bush noted defensively that the lower courts had agreed with him -- as if that mattered.

While Americans increasingly blame him for record-high gas prices and the toll on their pocketbooks, Bush dismissively referred to domestic concerns about those high prices as "squawking."

And in an interview on Friday with Ned Temko of Britain's Observer, Bush actually joked that he was "still looking" for the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that were the main reason he gave to the public for going to war.

it's bizarrely comforting to know you can count on some things not to change...

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The Biggest Mistake of the 21st Century to SCOTUS crowning George Bush, King.

from Der Spiegel.......

Israeli Ministers Mull Plans for Military Strike against Iran

The Israeli government no longer believes that sanctions can prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. A broad consensus in favor of a military strike against Tehran's nuclear facilities -- without the Americans, if necessary -- is beginning to take shape.


The one question over which Israel's various political groups disagree is the timing of an attack. The doves argue that diplomatic efforts by the United Nations should be allowed to continue until Iran is on the verge of completing the bomb. That way, Israel could at least argue convincingly that all non-military options had been exhausted.

The hawks, on the other hand, believe time is running out. They stress that there is now a "favorable window of opportunity" that will closewith the US presidential election in November, and that Israel can only depend on American support for as long as current US President George W. Bush is still in charge in Washington. They are convinced that the country cannot truly depend on any of the candidates to succeed Bush in office. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic candidate, has already said that he favors direct negotiations with Tehran. And even if Republican John McCain wins the race, politicians in Jerusalem do not expect him to be ordering an attack as his first official act -- despite his performance, at a campaign appearance last year, of the Beach Boys' song "Barbara Ann" with the lyrics: "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran."


And no one knows better than Israeli leadership itself just how much power lies in the mere belief that a country has nuclear weapons. After all, Israel itself has used this as a deterrent for the past 40 years. It is believed that an estimated 100 to 200 nuclear warheads have been produced at the Dimona reactor in the Negev Desert. Israeli historian Benny Morris, who is not normally considered a hardliner, recently suggested using the weapons: "If the issue is whether Israel or Iran should perish, then Iran should perish."

I find this to be an extremely unstable situation, and would urge everyone to click on the link, and read the entire story.

Cross-posted at Stop the Second Holocaust

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

John McCain Debates Himself on Supporting Bush

from the jedreport...

(thanks to john at americablog...)

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