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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 05/17/2009 - 05/24/2009
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Friday, May 22, 2009

Honesty is honored in - of all places - Argentina...!


this is the kind of good news i'd like to see a LOT more of, particularly in a place like argentina where, as the article mentions, corruption is a national epidemic...
It was a gesture which became instant headline in a country where corruption is considered a national plague.

Two public relations young fellows set up a website in his honour calling for gestures of gratitude for what is seen as an extraordinary act of honesty. Last weekend the sum was reached according to the site.

Santiago Gori, a taxi driver from the city of La Plata, 60 kilometres south of Buenos Aires found the money after driving an elderly couple. They only went a short distance but when he dropped them off, they left a bag in the back of his taxi.

A few days later he managed to locate his passengers again and he returned the bag. For Argentines used to corruption at all levels of society, this was an extraordinary story.

It is estimated 55.000 people visited the site and left hundreds of rewards and messages for Gori.


As happened a month ago when 100.000 people spontaneously took to the streets for the final farewell to former President Raul Alfonsin, the architect of the transition to democracy, “the Argentines again came out in mass to honour an honest man”, said Gori.

“Maybe it’s a new message for the political establishment when we are a month away from mid term elections”, added the publicist.

“If our politicians had 10% of Gori’s honesty, what a great country we could be”, said one of the contributors who invited the taxi driver out for lunch.


For his part, Mr Gori seemed a bit bemused. He said he only did what had to be done, and that he does not quite know what to do with all the things he has been offered.


Argentina rates 109 in the International Transparency 2008 list, while its neighbours Chile and Uruguay are placed in position 23, the least corrupt countries of Latinamerica.

corruption saps the energy right out of a society... it's a motivation killer because you know that, no matter what you do or how much you want to do the right thing, it won't matter because somebody is always there forking out cash to get ahead of you in line... it's pathetic... afghanistan is the same way... there's always somebody there with his hand out and, if you don't pay up, you can kiss whatever it is that you want to get done bye-bye...

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The "Torture 13"

marcy wheeler (emptywheel at firedoglake) writing in salon via alternet, does her usual thorough job laying out the case against the usual suspects...
1. Dick Cheney, vice president (2001-2009)
2. David Addington, counsel to the vice president (2001-2005), chief of staff to the vice president (2005-2009)
3. Alberto Gonzales, White House counsel (2001-2005), and attorney general (2005-2008)
4. James Mitchell, consultant
5. George Tenet, director of Central Intelligence (1997-2004)
6. Condoleezza Rice, national security advisor (2001-2005), secretary of state (2005-2008)
7. John Yoo, deputy assistant attorney general, Office of Legal Counsel (2001-2003)
8. Jay Bybee, assistant attorney general, Office of Legal Counsel (2001-2003)
9. William "Jim" Haynes, Defense Department general counsel (2001-2008)
10. Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense (2001-2006)
11. John Rizzo, CIA deputy general counsel (2002-2004), acting general counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency (2001-2002, 2004-present)
12. Steven Bradbury, principal deputy assistant attorney general, OLC (2004), acting assistant attorney general, OLC (2005-2009)
13. George W. Bush, president (2001-2009)

memorize these names... i want to be around to post on them again when they start doing time...

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Juan Cole on Obama's speech: "Cutting back from three packs a day to only one could still kill you"

as always, professor cole dispenses solid, reasoned wisdom...
I find him making too many concessions to the National Security State that are in my view unconstitutional. He maintains he is cutting back the abuses. But it isn't good enough that one president should identify where he things the US government went too far, and voluntarily cut back. Cutting back from three packs a day to only one could still kill you. And what happens if a different sort of president gets in in 2012 and ramps up the abuses again? By declining to draw a clear and adjudicable line, Obama is unwittingly allowing the Right to lay the groundwork for permanent move to presidential dictatorship. Obama says he doesn't want to re-litigate the last 8 years. That is frankly disingenuous. The last 8 years was never litigated. And crimes were committed. If they are not addressed, they will become norms, not crimes.

thanks, prof... i couldn't have said it better...

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

And, NOW, fresh from an engagement in the United States Senate, HE-E-E-EERE'S Barack OBAMA...!

give him a warm welcome...
Obama: From Anti-war Law Professor to Warmonger in 100 Days

How long does it take a mild-mannered, anti-war, black professor of constitutional law, trained as a community organiser on the South Side of Chicago, to become an enthusiastic sponsor of targeted assassinations, 'decapitation' strategies and remote-control bombing of mud houses at the far end of the globe?

There's nothing surprising here. As far back as President Woodrow Wilson, in the early 20th century, American liberalism has been swift to flex its imperial muscle and whistle up the Marines. High-explosive has always been in the hormone shot.

The nearest parallel to Obama in eager deference to the bloodthirsty counsels of his counter-insurgency advisors is John F. Kennedy. It is not surprising that bright young presidents relish quick-fix, 'outside the box' scenarios for victory.

Obama’s course is set and his presidency is already stained the familiar blood-red.

Watching Obama Morph Into Dick Cheney

America has lost her soul, and so has her president.

A despairing country elected a president who promised change. Americans arrived from every state to witness in bitter cold Obama’s swearing-in ceremony. The mall was packed in a way that it has never been for any other president.

The people’s good will toward Obama and the expectations they had for him were sufficient for Obama to end the gratuitous wars and enact major reforms. But Obama has deserted the people for the interests. He is relying on his non-threatening demeanor and rhetoric to convince the people that change is underway.

The change that we are witnessing is in Obama, not in policies. Obama is morphing into Dick Cheney.

Obama has not been in office four months and already a book could be written about his broken promises.

Little Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners at Gitmo Under Obama

[W]hile much of the focus has been on the tactical use of torture at Guantanamo, almost no attention had been paid to a parallel force that was torturing prisoners in a variety of ways, including waterboarding them, and that is this riot squad of sorts that you referred to called the Immediate Reaction Force. The prisoners and their lawyers at Guantanamo call it the “Extreme Repression Force.”

And basically what this is is a thug squad that is used to mercilessly punish prisoners who show the slightest bit of resistance or who do things that technically they’re not supposed to do, infractions like having two Styrofoam cups in their cell instead of one.

Guards will call in this goon squad. They come in with their Darth Vader outfits, and they literally gang-beat prisoners. There are five men, generally, that are sent in. Each of them is assigned to one body part of the prisoner: the head, the left arm, the right arm, the left leg, the right leg. They go in, and they hogtie the prisoner, sometimes leaving them hogtied for hours on end. They douse them with chemical agents. They have put their heads in toilets and flushed the toilets repeatedly. They have urinated on the heads of prisoners. They’ve squeezed their testicles in the course of restraining them. They’ve taken the feces from one prisoner and smeared it in the face of another prisoner.

And while Barack Obama, almost immediately upon taking office, issued an executive order saying he was going to close down Guantanamo within a year and that he was going to respect the Geneva Convention while his administration reviewed Guantanamo, this force has continued to operate and torture prisoners under the Obama administration.

In fact, in February of this year, about a month after Obama was inaugurated, there were sixteen prisoners on a hunger strike at Guantanamo. The Immediate Response—or Immediate Reaction Force was used to go in and violently shove massive tubes down their noses into their stomachs. And what the IRF teams, as they’re called—when they beat someone, it’s called IRF-ing, or to be IRF-ed up by these teams. They would use no anesthetics or any painkillers, shove this massive tube by force down their nose into their stomach and then yank it out. Some prisoners have described this as torture, torture, torture. And many have passed out from the sheer pain of this operation.

This force has received almost no scrutiny in the US Congress or the US media and operates at this moment.

i don't need to add anything to these... it all speaks for itself...

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nassim Nicholas Taleb - my hero - and a voice of reason amid the idiots who pass for financial gurus

i picked up taleb's book in the dubai airport back in february... i'd never heard of it before but as soon as i got into it, i realized i was reading a very fundamental, profound work... i was so impressed with it, in fact, that i made it one of two required texts for my mba seminar on leadership that starts in june... i will virtually guarantee you, there will be only one or two of the students in the class that will have heard of it before they saw it on the required reading list... sad, eh...?

anyway, here's taleb, giving his none-too-rosy financial outlook...

PBS NEWS HOUR Interview with Nassim Nicholas Taleb, famous economist and author of "The Black Swan" and Dr. Mandelbrot, professor of Mathematics. Both say that the present economy more serious than the Great Depression, and the economy during the American Revolution.

here's the view from brasscheck tv...
A sobering discussion on the nature of the current economic crisis and why this one may be very different from ones in the past.

The problem: globalization adds exponentially to the complexity of potential outcomes, but the banking system is not designed to absorb the kind of rapid and massive changes globalization makes possible.

These aren't two hippies railing against the system. This is one of most insightful mathematicians and one of the most accomplished options traders of our time.

like i've repeatedly said, let's get on with it... watching this slow-mo train wreck is getting really boring...

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Too good to pass up

as i try to straighten out my spine several times a day after hunching over my keyboard for hours at a time, this caught my fancy...


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Employees want good leadership...? I'm shocked, I tell you, SHOCKED...!!

i've been pounding on this point for years... every single goddam book on management and leadership you pick up says virtually the same thing... it's taught in both graduate and undergraduate management programs... it's proudly pointed to as the way the company does business in the opening pages of every corporate annual report... there's only one problem... it isn't practiced, but i guess that's also the american way... we're at our best when we're telling everybody how things should be done but heaven forbid we should do it ourselves...
Money's Nice, but a Good Boss Is Better

When it comes to sizing up the quality of their workplaces, federal workers value strong leadership and straight answers from their bosses more than even pay and benefits, according to a new comprehensive study of the federal workforce.

one of the things i like best about teaching and training non-u.s. folks is when, after making a point about leadership or management, i get the inevitable comment that says, "well, that may work in the u.s., but you gotta understand this is (fill in name of country here)"... that's when i throw back my head and laugh... after looking at all the nonplussed stares, i lean forward conspiratorially and say, "here's a dirty little secret... it doesn't work THERE either because we don't practice what we preach... so, if you figure it out and do it, you'll be WAY ahead of the u.s..."

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An Obama-appointed fool speaks: "We are a nation at war"

here's just a couple of sample news items of the sort that prompted yesterday's grouch-post...

leon panetta...

We are a nation at war. We have to confront that reality every day. And while it's important to learn the lessons of the past, we must not do it in a way that sacrifices our capability to stay focused on the present, stay focused on the future, and stay focused on those who threaten the United States of America.

oh, yeah... woo-hoo... permanent war... just the kind of thinking we were trying to kill by electing obama and definitely NOT what i want to be hearing from his cia director... the whole concept and practice of "permanent war" is a big piece of why our world is in the mess that it is... it allows those whose mindset is irrevocably fixed on money and power to continue having their way with the rest of us...

chris hedges in truthdig...

The embrace by any society of permanent war is a parasite that devours the heart and soul of a nation. Permanent war extinguishes liberal, democratic movements. It turns culture into nationalist cant. It degrades and corrupts education and the media, and wrecks the economy. The liberal, democratic forces, tasked with maintaining an open society, become impotent.


The military-industrial establishment is a very lucrative business. It is gilded corporate welfare. Defense systems are sold before they are produced. Military industries are permitted to charge the federal government for huge cost overruns. Massive profits are always guaranteed.

Foreign aid is given to countries such as Egypt, which receives some $3 billion in assistance and is required to buy American weapons with $1.3 billion of the money. The taxpayers fund the research, development and building of weapons systems and then buy them on behalf of foreign governments. It is a bizarre circular system. It defies the concept of a free-market economy. These weapons systems are soon in need of being updated or replaced. They are hauled, years later, into junkyards where they are left to rust. It is, in economic terms, a dead end. It sustains nothing but the permanent war economy.

Those who profit from permanent war are not restricted by the economic rules of producing goods, selling them for a profit, then using the profit for further investment and production. They operate, rather, outside of competitive markets. They erase the line between the state and the corporation. They leech away the ability of the nation to manufacture useful products and produce sustainable jobs.

so, what the fuck did we elect obama for...?

again, chris hedges..

Our permanent war economy has not been challenged by Obama and the Democratic Party. They support its destructive fury because it funds them. They validate its evil assumptions because to take them on is political suicide. They repeat the narrative of fear because it keeps us dormant. They do this because they have become weaker than the corporate forces that profit from permanent war.


We have been drawn into the world of permanent war by these fools. We allow fools to destroy the continuity of life, to tear apart all systems—economic, social, environmental and political—that sustain us.

so, with the fools still in charge, we stumble on...

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Bloggus Interruptus

due to temporarily overwhelming disgust, frustration and nausea...

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