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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 11/09/2008 - 11/16/2008
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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

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bagh-e Babur Gardens, Kabul, Afghanistan

we spent yesterday afternoon at babur gardens, a restored royal palace, tomb and gardens on the west side of kabul... an art exhibition of afghani, iranian and pakistani contemporary artists is on display in the queen's palace through 20 november and, i have to say, both the setting, the building restoration and the art are stunning... it's a remarkable oasis of beauty and serenity in the midst of the poverty and chaos of a war-ravaged but nonetheless magnificent country with a priceless cultural heritage that most westerners know little to nothing about... here's a few photos i was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take...

Bagh-e Babur, Kabul, Afghanistan

Babur tomb

Original wooden doors, circa AD 1500

Mosque as seen from upper garden

Bagh-e Babur

Bagh-e Babur (Persian: باغ بابر) is a park and tourist attraction in Kabul, Afghanistan, which contains the tomb of the first Mughal emperor Babur. The park is made-up of several gardens that would go on to inspire other Mughal gardens. The walls of the park were rebuilt in the same older style design in 2005 by the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), since they were damaged during the 1992-1996 civil war in the city. Bagh-e Babur is situated in the Chehlstoon area of Kabul, over a hill, from which the western and southern parts of Kabul can be viewed. Babur, who was first buried in Agra, would later be buried here to fulfil his wish. Bagh-e-Babur is currently under restoration by Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Aga Khan IV has promised that it will be a big asset to city of Kabul and Afghanistan.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Say goodbye to a ridiculous buffoon...

paul waldman in the american prospect...
After eight years of President Bush, we almost don't know how to function without him - almost. But before we move on, we should pause to remember just what we're leaving behind. Goodbye, we can say at last, to the most powerful man in the world being such a ridiculous buffoon, incapable of stringing together two coherent sentences. Goodbye to cringing with dread every time our president steps onto the world stage, sure he'll say or do something to embarrass us all. Goodbye to being represented by a man who embodies everything our enemies want the people of the world to believe about America - that we are ignorant, cruel, and only care about foreign countries when we decide to stomp on them.

sigh... how true...

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hit the road, Joe...

i completely agree... no more joe... let him do his damage somewhere else besides the democratic party and the democratic majority in the united states senate...

Joe Lieberman has launched consistent, deeply partisan attacks on President-elect Barack Obama, questioning his patriotism and fitness to lead. While Lieberman campaigned for John McCain and spoke on his behalf at the Republican National Convention, he spread some of the GOP's nastiest smears. Think Progress has provided thorough evidence of Lieberman's partisan politics. He should not be allowed to have subpoena power to investigate the Obama administration as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. In fact, he should not be allowed to remain chairman of this or any other committee.

hit the road, joe, and dontcha come back no more, no more, no more, no more,
hit the road, joe, and dontcha come back no more...

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Once Again, End The War

Many credible Americans would argue, supported by the pollsters, that the economy should be the current focus. I agree. What better way to help control spending and provide more cash to boost our economy than ending the war? For a moment, set aside all of the security, moral, and ethical considerations regarding whether or not to continue the war. As always, follow the money. Most of the money spent on this war, just like Viet Nam, is never used to prosecute a successful end. It's funneled to the system that supports war. Meanwhile, troop levels are too low and the best equipment is scarce.

One of the best summations of war that I have ever found is given by Major General Butler in his book, WAR IS A RACKET:

In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.

How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?

Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few – the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.

And what is this bill?

This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

Anyone who questions the expertise and patriotism of Smedley Butler is an unpatriotic, anti-American, anti-veteran, anti-capitalist idiot. This war cannot continue. It is depriving our economy of resources. It's also killing our kids and a lot of folks who never harmed us.
Now is a time of opportunity for us to remind our leaders, and ourselves:
No arguments for it's continuation based on economics, patriotism, national security, and fighting terrorism stand against logical scrutiny or the guidance of our Founding Fathers.
Once more I call on Liberals, Conservatives and all in between, to rise up as you did some 40 years ago. Help me, an ex-conservative Republican, to rise to the need of your People, your Nation, and your fellow Human Beings. You will not only stand on a moral and ethical high ground, you will also play an integral role in saving our economic future.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Dear President-elect Obama... Let's pull our Constitution out of the dumpster...

worth posting in full...

meteorblades from daily kos...

Dear President-Elect Obama

Sun Nov 09, 2008 at 01:57:50 PM PST

Let me be the 47 millionth person to congratulate you on your stunning campaign and victory. Everybody in my family voted for you. So Tuesday night was pretty exciting after it became clear that we weren’t going to have the Supreme Court deciding the election with a bogus ruling, or some other shenanigan.

My stepson, who is studying in England for his last year of engineering, got his ballot off the Internet. Even though she is 26, it was the first-ever presidential election for my stepdaughter. Abducted as toddlers and taken by their father to Libya, where they were kept away from their mother for 18 years, this democracy thing is rather new to the two of them.

It’s something they didn’t encounter in Libya. There, the rule of law simply does not exist. Libya may be the U.S. oil companies’ new best friend, but it is no friend of human or civil rights. Express a little too much dissent if you’re Libyan, and you’ll soon hear about it from people you really don’t want to hear anything critical from. The government wants to take your business or your residence for a pittance or nothing? Too bad for you. You want somebody to please tell you if your cousin is being held in prison? Tough. The rule of men takes its toll.

In America, it’s not supposed to be that way. As you know better than I, Mr. President-Elect, our Constitution guarantees it. We are shielded by enumerated and unenumerated rights. True, not everybody got these rights all at once. It took a while. Took a war. Took some changing of that Constitution. And, of course, there have been and still remain some heinous violations of rights, both human and civil, despite the shield. But whatever the flaws and failures, whatever the distortions from the twins of greed and power, in America the ideal has been that the rule of law trumps the rule of men.

Or it did until the administration yours is going to replace started torturing people and sending them to secret prisons and getting their consiglieres to maintain that they really weren’t people at all, and therefore not covered by the protections of American or anybody’s law. Unpersons. Subject to whatever their keepers wanted to subject them to with help from pedigreed psychologists and other ethically challenged assistants.

Not just torture, but all the interconnected other elements associated with holding these unpersons, concealing how they were treated and ignoring the Geneva Conventions and the Constitution. They created, as Glenn Greenwald has written, a "culture and ideology of lawlessness."

Mr. President-Elect, I know you have a tremendous amount to think about and do right now, so let me get to the point. I want to ask you a favor. I want you to include a few lines in your Inaugural Day speech. Yes, it’s true. I’ve got a list like everybody else who’s pulling on your coat sleeve right now. That’s what happens when you give people hope for change.

On January 20, I want you to announce to the nation and the world your first steps in restoring the rule of law. Tell everyone that before the sun sets you will sign an executive order renouncing torture and commanding any and all government employees and contractors to cease any torture as defined by the Red Cross, other international organizations and the Geneva Conventions. And say that the United States will never again train, fund, encourage or otherwise assist governments of other nations to engage in torture as it has cravenly done during several administrations. I want you to announce a second order that abolishes the Guantánamo detention center and all the secret prisons elsewhere. A third that ends rendition. I want you tell us that you will immediately seek repeal of the reprehensible Military Commissions Act that tried to paper over lawless rule with legislation that you and most Democrats voted against in 2006. Finally, I want you to announce an investigatory commission – a bipartisan commission – with subpoena power, access to every secret memo and all the time it needs to uncover the whole story of torture and all the associated acts, to fill the gaps in what has already been learned. The first step in keeping these acts from being repeated in the future is to fully understand them and those who ordered them.

Some people, including your friend and advisor Cass Sunstein, will consider these suggestions distracting and divisive. Particularly the investigation. The polls tell us such matters don’t show up on most Americans’ priority lists. Jobs, the war in Iraq, health care, terrorism, even the environment get mentioned long before anything related to what I’m asking. But you know where they do show up? Among Libyans. The kin and friends of my kids. Who, like most Libyans, love Americans. Who, though they whisper about it, detest their regime’s arbitrary rule of men. Who, like so many other people in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia, wonder why the United States tortured and kidnapped and held men without trial. Who came to wonder over the past seven years whether their love for Americans isn’t misplaced.

Like people around the world, they celebrated in Libya when you won, Mr. President-Elect. You’ve given them hope, too. As well as to my kids. They don’t yet know all the ins and outs of the U.S. political system. For instance, the Electoral College doesn’t make much sense to them. But they do understand that a country which holds men secretly captive without redress, tortures them and otherwise violates their fundamental rights as human beings isn’t a place any of us can be very proud to call home.

You obviously don’t need any suggestions on oratory from me. Your comments were dead on the mark 13 months ago when President Bush’s torture orders to the CIA became known. You said:

"The secret authorization of brutal interrogations is an outrageous betrayal of our core values, and a grave danger to our security. We must do whatever it takes to track down and capture or kill terrorists, but torture is not a part of the answer – it is a fundamental part of the problem with this administration's approach. Torture is how you create enemies, not how you defeat them. Torture is how you get bad information, not good intelligence. Torture is how you set back America's standing in the world, not how you strengthen it. It's time to tell the world that America rejects torture without exception or equivocation. It's time to stop telling the American people one thing in public while doing something else in the shadows. No more secret authorization of methods like simulated drowning. When I am president America will once again be the country that stands up to these deplorable tactics. When I am president we won't work in secret to avoid honoring our laws and Constitution, we will be straight with the American people and true to our values."

Arrow. Zing. Bullseye.

But on target as those words are, as welcome as it was to hear them, especially those final two sentences, they are just words until you transform them into action. I know you have much to pack into that Inaugural speech on January 20. I hope you find a place somewhere for my suggestions.

Timothy Lange/aka Meteor Blades


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Expanding TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program

good god almighty...

mish's view...

In late breaking news, Treasury Secretary Paulson has announced a new plan to expand TARP coverage.

Congress was behind the push as Pelosi, Reid Press for TARP Aid for Auto Industry.

and be sure to check this little amazing revelation...
Competition to get under TARP coverage is so high that Auto Makers Would Accept Strings on Aid.

oh, N-O-O-O-O-OOOOOO...!! they'd accept STRINGS...!! what is the world coming to...?

mish, no stranger to snark, offers this in conclusion...

Details of the exact nature of the new treasury plan were kept under wraps, but photographer Keith Taylor managed to sneak into the "Situation Room" and capture this stunning image of exactly who would be covered under the new TARP initiative.

News is sometimes so bizarre now that it is hard to tell fact from fiction.

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