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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 06/14/2009 - 06/21/2009
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Friday, June 19, 2009

A headline and a lede that anyone with two brain cells to rub together should choke on

'scuse ME...?!?! we fork over literally TRILLIONS to the banks, investment firms, insurance companies, automakers, and everyone else associated with the money and power structure in this country and we can't manage to come up with funding for health care...? un-fuckingly-believable...
Obama Initiatives Hit Speed Bumps
On Capitol Hill

High Price Tag For Reform Bill Prompts Sparring And a Delay

President Obama's hopes for quick action on comprehensive health-care reform ran headlong this week into the realities of Congress, as lawmakers searching for the money to pay for a broad expansion of coverage discovered that it wasn't easy to find and descended into partisan -- and intraparty -- bickering.

A set of unexpectedly high cost estimates -- arcane data that nevertheless carry enormous import in the legislative process -- sent shockwaves along Pennsylvania Avenue and forced one key committee to delay action on its bill, probably until after the July 4 recess.

In a high-level meeting at the White House yesterday, Obama conveyed his concern over early pronouncements by the Congressional Budget Office that a bill drafted by the Senate health committee would cover just 16 million additional people at a cost of $1 trillion, said one official with knowledge of the session who was not permitted to talk to reporters and so spoke on the condition of anonymity.

somebody grab me quick and slap me really, really hard... i'm rapidly losing all grip on reality...

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The tragic history of the American Empire

in keeping with our "school of the americas" trip down memory lane (see here), let's take yet another look at the horrors perpetrated by my very own country around the world for years...

via information clearing house...

"The Secret History of the American Empire" with John Perkins, author of "Confessions of An Economic Hit Man."

Perkins zeroes in on hot spots around the world such as Venezuela, Tibet, Iraq, Israel, Vietnam and others and exposes the network of events in each of these countries that have contributed to the creation of the American Empire and international corruption in "The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth About Global Corruption" - Cody's Books

John Perkins spent three decades as an Economic Hit Man, business executive, author, and lecturer. He lived and worked in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and North America. Then he made a decision: he would use these experiences to make the planet a better place for his daughter's generation. Today he teaches about the importance of rising to higher levels of consciousness, to waking up - in both spiritual and physical realms - and is a champion for environmental and social causes. He has lectured at universities on four continents, including Harvard, Wharton, and Princeton.

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Are our so-called liberal-progressive friends starting to wake up to the Obama bait-and-switch...?

from the progress report...
For all of the administration's promising early steps to restore transparency and accountability, however recent developments are less encouraging. Some of these stumbling points have been simple failures of implementation; many of the administration's budget transparency websites, for example, publish inconsistent numbers. Other transparency failures, however, suggest a more disturbing trend. Despite promises to end "secret meetings" and restore the White House as the "people's house," the administration has refused to disclose the names of individuals who have visited the White House since Obama took office, while echoing similar excuses by Bush administration officials who wanted to hide secret meetings with energy industry executives. But most disturbing are recent, tenuous invocations of "national security" to cast a shade over government transparency. After the Environmental Protection Agency uncovered nearly four dozen toxic coal ash sites in Tennessee that "could cause death and significant property damage if an event such as a storm, a terrorist attack or a structural failure caused them to spill into surrounding communities," the administration choose to keep the locations of the toxic sites secret from Tennessee residents because of fears that such disclosure could present a "security risk." Similarly, despite earlier disclosure of the infamous torture memos, the Obama CIA has thus far successfully kept secret a comprehensive account of that agency's interrogation practices. Although a heavily redacted version of the report was uncovered by the ACLU, the administration insists that disclosing the full report would endanger national security. Even more alarming, however, is the Obama administration's adoption of Bush's "state secrets" claim in court cases dealing with issues ranging from extraordinary rendition to warrantless wiretapping. The "state secrets" privilege allows the administration to withhold information in a lawsuit or even dismiss the suit altogether if the subject matter of the suit could potentially reveal information that puts national security at risk. In one suit, brought by an Islamic charity challenging the previous administration's warrantless wiretapping program, a federal judge finally threatened sanctions against the Justice Department if it did not comply with an order to turn over a document to the plaintiff's attorneys. Incidents such as these led the New York Times to lament that Obama has "backtracked, in substantial if often nuanced ways, from the approach to national security that he preached as a candidate, and even from his first days in the Oval Office."

the center for american progress, the publisher of this e-newsletter and the weblog, think progress, has lost a great deal of credibility with me over the past few years... i became a regular reader when i saw that they often got the goods on the multiple abuses and outright crimes of the bush administration ahead of the rest of the baying blogosphere... then it started to dawn on me that they too often played the fawning sycophant to anyone and everyone aligned with the democratic party, frequently turning a blind eye to the fact that we have been and are continuing to be just as thoroughly screwed by the democrats as we are by the republicans, the only difference being that, with the dems, there's no sand in the vaseline...

since obama's election and inauguration, they've taken a turn for the worse, spending WAY too much time, imho, vilifying the likes of bill kristol, bill o'reilly, glenn beck, rush limbaugh, karl rove, and the like, a tactic that only serves to give those despicable characters even more air time and exposure than they already have and thus reinforcing their loathsome presence on the american scene... the best strategy in dealing with such obvious dark forces is to not give them the energy of even recognizing them... the dark feeds on attention whether it be positive or negative, and these guys don't deserve to be fed...

so, now our center for american progress friends seem to be waking up to the fact that our dear sunshine-is-the-best-disinfectant president may well be just another stooge - albeit a very well-spoken, intelligent and polished one - for those who so blithely and heedlessly pull our strings along with the strings of most of the rest of the world...

speaking for myself, i believe obama has a good heart and i would prefer to believe that some of what's going on is the result of his bowing to his handlers... otoh, if he IS a good soul, he'd better start showing it or i will be permanently checking out of the hope hotel...

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

School of the Americas

i'm just tossing out this video clip as a reminder of my country's sordid history in fomenting torture, violence, death and destruction... i've had a number of posts (see here) on the horrors this kind of influence from the u.s. unleashed in latin america via operation condor, argentina's guerra sucia (dirty war), in chile via pinochet, and much more...

via information clearing house...

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One of my fondest hopes may be realized if my senator, John Ensign, has just become burnt toast

John Ensign

take a look at that photo... too slick by half... he looks like a more modern and classed-up version of what we used to call a "lounge lizard," a fitting description i suppose of a las vegas native...

boo-hoo, john... this should teach ya to keep it in your pants, altho' i highly doubt it will...

Sources in Washington and Nevada say Republican Sen. John Ensign, a rising star in the Republican Party considering a 2012 presidential bid will hold a press conference later today in which he will acknowledge an extramarital affair.

Ensign, a member of the Senate GOP leadership, flew back to his native Las Vegas today in anticipation of the public announcement, sources said, missing a vote considered key to the Nevada tourist industry.

Two senior GOP political strategists, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter, said the announcement was imminent. They declined to say with whom Ensign had the affair.

In February 2002, Ensign took an unexplained two week leave of absence from the Senate citing "personal reasons."

When he returned from that respite, Ensign told the Las Vegas Sun that he was "not making any comments one way or the other. I'm just asking people to respect my privacy."

while you're chuckling over ensign's now tarnished star, consider the very low statistical odds of ANYONE being a las vegas native...!

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"We want reforms, we want kindness, we want friendship with the world"


ya know what i'd like to see...? i'd like to see this same thing happening in every country in the world with the same sentiments expressed... we all want kindness, we all want friendship with the world, we all want this world to be a better place... do ya s'pose maybe, just maybe, we're slowly approaching the day when a global "pandemic" of kindness and friendship will spontaneously erupt...? a guy can dream, can't he...?
Ayatollah Khamenei announced Saturday that the election results showing a landslide victory for Mr. Ahmadinejad were fair. But on Sunday he met with Mr. Moussavi, a moderate, to listen to his concerns. And on Monday, he promised the inquiry into the results.

Nevertheless, his announcement could not calm the anger of the people. There was so much distrust that some people said they believed the leader was just trying to buy time and to calm the crowds, rather than attempting to really investigate the outcome.

Hours later, a broad river of people in Tehran — young and old, dressed in traditional Islamic gowns and the latest Western fashions — marched slowly from Revolution Square to Freedom Square for more than three hours, many of them wearing the signature bright green ribbons of Mr. Moussavi’s campaign and holding up their hands in victory signs.

The silent march was a deliberate and striking contrast to the chaos of the past few days, when riot police officers sprayed tear gas and wielded clubs to disperse scattered bands of angry and frightened young people. When the occasional shout or chant went up, the crowd quickly hushed it, and some held up signs with the word silence.

“These people are not seeking a revolution,” said Ali Reza, a young actor in a brown T-shirt who stood for a moment watching on the rally’s sidelines. “We don’t want this regime to fall. We want our votes to be counted, because we want reforms, we want kindness, we want friendship with the world.”

i get chills just reading this... i don't think it's about one candidate as much as it's about people reclaiming their own power and standing up for what they want instead of bowing to old men whose sole concern is perpetuating their own power and control over others...

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Oh, yay... Learned helplessness...

a societal and organizational dynamic that i've observed for many years is what i have come to call "learned helplessness"... many of us develop that mindset when, over many, many years, we've come to believe that no matter what we do, our employer won't change a damn thing, our society will still be off the rails, and our government will still feel perfectly within its rights to do whatever it goddam well pleases no matter what we, the people, think about it...

now, i come to find out that very same dynamic, using the very same name underpins the oh-so-euphemistically labeled "enhanced interrogation techniques," known to you and me as torture, methods have been - and probably still are - so liberally applied at our < snark > club med-style < /snark > "detention" facilities, known to you and me as prisons and to our friends in russia as gulags...

well, at least panetta isn't sitting on his hands...

CIA Director Leon Panetta fired Mitchell, Jessen & Associates and all other contractors that aided the CIA in its interrogations of alleged terrorists, the New Yorker reported this weekend.

The firings took place in April, around the same time the Senate Armed Services Committee reported on the role played by James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen in developing "countermeasures to defeat" the resistance of captured enemy detainees from whom intelligence was being sought.

Mitchell and Jessen, who run the firm, had worked on a Pentagon program that taught U.S. service members how to survive harsh enemy interrogation methods. They relied on elements of that training in proposing an interrogation program for the CIA. It included methods such as sleep deprivation and other actions based on "theories of 'learned helplessness,' " the New Yorker reported.

our minders have worked long and hard to instill in us the learned helplessness mindset... we're ever so much easier to control when we feel and think that way... nothing to see here, folks... just move along...

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Netanyahu will accept a Palestinian state as long as it's not really a SOVEREIGN state AND Israel keeps building settlements


woo-hoo... what a pile of bullshit...
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bowed to U.S. pressure Sunday and accepted the goal of a Palestinian state. But it was unclear whether the breakthrough, welcomed by President Obama, would lead to a revival of peace talks with the Palestinians, who immediately rejected the sharp limits Netanyahu would place on their nation's sovereignty.

Netanyahu said Israel needed international guarantees that a Palestinian state would not have its own military.In his first policy speech on the conflict since taking office 10 weeks ago, he also insisted that the U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority give up claims to Jerusalem as a future capital, recognize Israel as a Jewish state and "impose law and order" on the Hamas militants who run the Gaza Strip.


Netanyahu's half-hour address, televised in Israel during prime time, staked out a strikingly different approach to the conflict than the one Obama offered 10 days earlier in an address to the Muslim world from Cairo. He again rebuffed Obama's call for a halt to the growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank as a first step toward engaging Arab states in a broad regional peace effort.

ok, now lemme see if i got this straight...

it's ok with israel if palestine becomes a nation (like israel has the ultimate say-so) but palestinians can't have any means to defend themselves (unlike every other sovereign nation on the planet with the most belligerent, destructive, downright NASTY country imaginable right next door, a country that's been working to wipe palestinians off the face of the earth and take all their land since the late 40s), palestinians have to give up all claims to jerusalem (one of islam's holiest sites outside of mecca and medinah), and israel will keep expanding its illegal settlements on palestinian land... oh, yeah, and btw, the palestinians have to put down the legitimately elected hamas government in gaza...

heckuva deal, dontcha think...? no wonder the palestinians are so thrilled...

Palestinian leaders dismissed Netanyahu's call to begin peace talks "immediately, without preconditions," as a nonstarter.

"Netanyahu left us with nothing to negotiate, as he systematically took nearly every issue off the table," said Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian Authority negotiator. "Nor did he accept a Palestinian state; instead, he announced a series of conditions and qualifications that render a viable, independent and sovereign state impossible."

Nabil abu Rudaineh, an aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said the speech was "not enough to start a serious peace process."

Ahmad Bahar, a Hamas leader in Gaza, said the speech "proves that resistance is the only way for the Palestinians to regain their legitimate rights." Hamas' alliance with Iran, hostility to Israel and violent opposition to Abbas' administration make Israelis skeptical that any peace accord can work.

like i said, heckuva deal...

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