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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 03/28/2010 - 04/04/2010
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Happy Easter...!


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Friday, April 02, 2010

From Buenos Aires - Holy Thursday photoblogging on a Good Friday

just another fabulous buenos aires sunset...

Thursday, 1 April 2010
Parque Lima, Barrio Nuñez, Buenos Aires

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Shameless, disgusting and perhaps the ultimate in pure denial

i can hardly believe words like this could come out of the mouth of a key figure in the catholic church...
Pope Benedict's personal preacher has compared criticism of the pontiff and Church over child abuse to "collective violence" suffered by the Jews.

The Rev Raniero Cantalamessa was speaking at Good Friday prayers in St Peter's Basilica, attended by the Pope.

In his sermon, he quoted a Jewish friend as saying the accusations reminded him of the "more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism".

His comments angered Jewish groups and those representing abuse victims.

Father Cantalamessa said Jews throughout history had been the victims of "collective violence" and drew a comparison with recent attacks on the Roman Catholic Church.

He read the congregation part of a letter from a Jewish friend who said he was "following with disgust the violent and concentric attacks against the Church, the Pope...

"The use of stereotypes, the shifting of personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism," he quoted from the letter.

Father Cantalamessa, the preacher to the papal household, is the only person allowed to preach to the Pope.

the guy clearly not only doesn't get it, he doesn't display the slightest desire to get it... "getting it" means acknowledging that the hierarchy of the catholic church not only covered up decades of abuse, it actively enabled it to continue... the fact that people are upset over that fact has nothing to do with attacking either the catholic church as an institution or catholics as a group of people... what it does say is that people the world over are deeply disturbed that religious authority figures could be so unbelievably callous as to obviously conspire to protect themselves and allow physical and sexual abuse to continue... that's purely despicable and in no way can be compared to anti-semitism... for father cantalamessa to say it does tells me that the level of denial at the highest levels of the catholic church is beyond belief...

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Of course... Israel goes over the top in reprisal with at least 13 air strikes in Gaza...

i believe it's israel's unwritten policy that at least 100 palestinians have to die for every israeli...
Israeli warplanes have carried out at least 13 air strikes on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources have told the BBC.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Four of the strikes took place near the town of Khan Younis, where two Israeli soldiers were killed in clashes with Palestinian fighters last week.

The Israeli strikes are the most serious for more than a year, says the BBC's Jon Donnison from Jerusalem.

Palestinian news agencies reported that Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets over parts of Gaza on Thursday warning residents of retaliation for last Friday's killings of the soldiers in Khan Younis.

They were the first Israeli soldiers to be killed in hostile fire in Gaza in over a year. The military wing of Hamas claim responsibility for those attacks.

Hamas said police stations and training facilities were among the targets of Israel's overnight raids.

Tensions in the region are running high after a recent Israeli government announcement of plans to build 1,600 new homes for Jewish people in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as a capital of a future state.

the biblical eye-for-an-eye just doesn't cut it for israel...

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I've posted a lot on Mike McConnell but Glenn has the final takedown

my last post on mcconnell was in response to his disgustingly self-serving wapo editorial on 28 february... i find that i often have the same reaction to things as glenn greenwald who, imho, delivers the ultimate take-down of this not-very-well-disguised denizen of the corporatocracy...
[I]t isn't that people like Mike McConnell move from public office to the private sector and back again. That implies more separation than really exists. At this point, it's more accurate to view the U.S. Government and these huge industry interests as one gigantic, amalgamated, inseparable entity -- with a public division and a private one. When someone like McConnell goes from a top private sector position to a top government post in the same field, it's more like an intra-corporate re-assignment than it is changing employers. When McConnell serves as DNI, he's simply in one division of this entity and when he's at Booz Allen, he's in another, but it's all serving the same entity (it's exactly how insurance giant Wellpoint dispatched one of its Vice Presidents to Max Baucus' office so that she could write the health care plan that the Congress eventually enacted).

In every way that matters, the separation between government and corporations is nonexistent, especially (though not only) when it comes to the National Security and Surveillance State. Indeed, so extreme is this overlap that even McConnell, when he was nominated to be Bush's DNI, told The New York Times that his ten years of working "outside the government," for Booz Allen, would not impede his ability to run the nation's intelligence functions. That's because his Booz Allen work was indistinguishable from working for the Government, and therefore -- as he put it -- being at Booz Allen "has allowed me to stay focused on national security and intelligence communities as a strategist and as a consultant. Therefore, in many respects, I never left."

the wapo editorial was a blatant pitch focusing on three main points... one, the u.s. cyber-network is highly vulnerable to hostile attack... two, we should be very, very afraid, and three, the task of strengthening defenses against such attacks should be given to defense contractors... but glenn says it so much better than i do...
The overarching theme is all-too-familiar: we face a grave threat from Terrorists and other Very Bad People ("cyber wars"), and our only hope for protection is to vest the Government with massive new powers. Specifically, McConnell advocates a so-called "reeingeer[ing] of the Internet" to allow the Government and private corporations far greater capability to track what is being done over the Internet and who is doing it:

The United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing. It's that simple. . . . If an enemy disrupted our financial and accounting transactions, our equities and bond markets or our retail commerce -- or created confusion about the legitimacy of those transactions -- chaos would result. Our power grids, air and ground transportation, telecommunications, and water-filtration systems are in jeopardy as well.

Scary! And what do we need to submit to in order to avoid these calamities? This:

The United States must also translate our intent into capabilities. We need to develop an early-warning system to monitor cyberspace, identify intrusions and locate the source of attacks with a trail of evidence that can support diplomatic, military and legal options -- and we must be able to do this in milliseconds. More specifically, we need to reengineer the Internet to make attribution, geolocation, intelligence analysis and impact assessment -- who did it, from where, why and what was the result -- more manageable.

In one sense, this is just typical fear-mongering of the type the National Security State has used for decades to beat frightened Americans into virtually full-scale submission: you are in grave danger and you can be safe only by vesting in us far greater power, which we'll operate in secret: here, allowing us to "reengineer" the Internet so we can control it.

glenn continues...
But there's something even worse going on here. McConnell doesn't merely want to empower the Government to control the Internet this way; he wants to empower private corporations to do so -- the same corporations which pay him and whose interests he has long served. He notes that this "reengineering" is already possible because "the technologies are already available from public and private sources," and explicitly calls for a merger of the NSA with private industry to create a sprawling, omnipotent network for monitoring the Internet...


In other words, not only the Government, but the private intelligence corporations which McConnell represents (and which are subjected to no oversight), will have access to virtually unfettered amounts of information and control over the Internet, and there should be "no borders" between them. And beyond the dangerous power that will vest in the public-private Surveillance State, it will also generate enormous profits for Booz Allen, the clients it serves and presumably for McConnell himself -- though The Washington Post does not bother to disclose any of that to its readers. The Post basically allowed McConnell to publish in its Op-Ed pages a blatant advertisement for the private intelligence industry while masquerading as a National Security official concerned with Keeping America Safe.

yeah, even though i did my own sound-off on this obscene op-ed piece and the incredible hubris of a guy like mcconnell, it's worth having another go at it...

my other posts on mcconnell, dating back to 2006 can be found here...

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I was wondering when I'd see a liberal/progressive wake up to a commonality with Tea Partiers

there's a lot that disturbs me about the tea partiers, not the least of which is their homogeneous make-up - white, male, christian, for the most part... i do share, however, their concern for our continuing slide into fascism, highlighted by the erosion of constitutional rights and the complete failure to hold anyone accountable for unconstitutional and illegal actions on the part of our government...

i've recently been wondering why so many in the so-called liberal/progressive ranks, with the exception of glenn greenwald and a few others, have failed to see - or chosen to ignore - that our slide into a fascist dictatorship has continued unabated and, in fact, actually accelerated under obama... these same people, myself included, were screaming bloody murder when bush was in office...

i'd also been wondering why i've heard so little lately about naomi wolf, a very outspoken critic of abuses under the bush administration and a vocal proponent of a return to the principles of our founders and the rule of law... now, i admit, i haven't gone chasing ms. wolf so my lack of current information is purely my own fault... it's interesting, though, that this should now surface in my morning's reading...

naomi wolf talks about how she views the tea party movement...

To be sure, the Tea Party’s brand of aggrieved populism – and its composition of mostly white, angry, middle-class voters – has deep roots in the United States, flaring up during times of change. But observers who have drawn comparisons to the Know-Nothings, the racist, paranoid, anti-Catholic, and anti-immigrant party that surged in the 1850’s, are reading the movement far too superficially.

Indeed, those who deride and dismiss this movement do so at their peril. While some Tea Partiers may be racist or focused on eccentric themes – such as the validity of Barack Obama’s birth certificate – far more of them, those who were part of the original grass-roots effort, are focused on issues that have merit. If you actually listen to them, instead of just reading accounts transmitted through the distorting mirror of the mainstream media, you hear grievances that are profound, as well as some proposals that are actually ahead of their time.

For example, Tea Party activists, using a group called End the Fed, were among the first to focus critical attention on the unelected and unaccountable US Federal Reserve Board. Now legislation is being put forward to establish greater transparency at the Fed – surely a laudable outcome.

While those attracted to the Tea Party movement are a diverse group, some common themes emerge. They see a struggle for the soul of the Tea Party between true libertarians, who are worried about individual liberties, and traditional conservatives.

naomi wolf talks to alternet about how ingrown liberals and progressives have become...
Frankly, liberals are out of the habit of communicating with anyone outside their own ... cohort. We have a cultural problem with self-righteousness and elitism. Liberals roll their eyes about going on "Oprah" to reach a mass audience by using language that anyone can understand even if you majored in semiotics at Yale. We look down on people we don’t agree with. It doesn’t serve us well.

There is also a deliberate building up of two camps that benefits from whipping up home team spirit and demonizing the opposition. With the Internet there is even more fractioning since we are in echo chambers. With so much propaganda it is hard to calm down enough to listen.


I used to think “End the Fed people” were crackpots. The media paints them as deranged. But it turned out we had good reason to have more oversight. Or take their platform about states’ rights. Demographically, I’m a hippie from San Francisco and I’m not culturally inclined to be sympathetic to states' rights. My cultural heritage is FDR and Medicare and federal government solutions. But if you think through the analysis, strengthening state rights is a good corrective of the aggregation of an over-reaching federal power. Take California’s challenge of the Patriot Act or states like Vermont leading the way with addressing the corruption of the voting system. It’s a good example of the Tea Party thinking out of the box on how to address a problem.

i think anybody who takes the time to step back and see the bigger picture will see that the current state of extreme polarization in the u.s. is a carefully-crafted scheme to keep us focused on each other as "the enemy" rather than seeing our super-rich elite handlers for what they are, greed-besotted, power and control mad monsters who don't give a tiny crap for anybody other than themselves...

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I'm no fan of Hamid Karzai, but I think he may have a point


my biggest beef with karzai is that he doesn't know how to lead... he presides over one of the most poverty-stricken and war-torn countries in the world full of people desperate for even the tiniest bit of good news, people who just want to be able to feed and clothe their families and have a roof over their heads... meanwhile, karzai continues to tolerate corruption on a scale so vast that suitcases full of millions of dollars fly out of the kabul airport to dubai each and every day... however...

several years ago, i grudgingly came to believe that my country, a country which profits enormously from war, has simply too much to lose from a breakout of peace... yes, cynical though it may be, i am in agreement with mr. karzai... the u.s. goal is to keep the conflict going...

In January, Mr. Karzai invited about two dozen prominent Afghan media and business figures to a lunch at the palace. At the lunch, he expressed a deep cynicism about America’s motives, and of the burden he bears in trying to keep the United States at bay.

“He has developed a complete theory of American power,” said an Afghan who attended the lunch and who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. “He believes that America is trying to dominate the region, and that he is the only one who can stand up to them.”

Mr. Karzai said that, left alone, he could strike a deal with the Taliban, but that the United States refuses to allow him. The American goal, he said, was to keep the Afghan conflict going, and thereby allow American troops to stay in the country. [emphasis added]

with our super-rich elites making obscene profits from war and given their stranglehold on our elected leaders, what possible incentive could they have for ending the war...?

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Obama in Kabul

i continue to be in fairly close touch with a few on-going developments in afghanistan... i've been aware, for instance, of a continuing rift between the u.s. state and department of defense missions in the country which has been heavily scrutinized of late, and rightly so, by the u.s. ambassador... i'm also aware that u.s. special envoy, richard holbrooke, not the most pleasant guy under the best of circumstances, continues to throw his weight around, probably to the great annoyance of not only the ambassador but also anyone else who makes the mistake of crossing his path... and, of course, that doesn't even take into account the obstacles thrown up by the afghan government, karzai in particular...
President Barack Obama arrived in Kabul on Sunday for an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, his first trip to the country since becoming president and commander-in-chief of the U.S.-led war effort. Obama's brief trip was expected to include a one-on-one meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, an expanded meeting with Karzai's cabinet and U.S. officials, and a speech to American military personnel.

maybe obama decided it was time to kick a little ass and take some names... we can only hope...

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