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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 05/23/2010 - 05/30/2010
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, May 29, 2010

It's a beautiful Saturday morning here in the high desert

i got back from scotland and the outer hebrides one week ago today, welcomed by cold, snow flurries and a full week of cloudy, chilly, damp and generally miserable weather... today, finally, the sky is clear, the sun is shining brightly and the temp has jumped from the upper 30s to the mid-50s and it's only 10:30... i'm listening to glorious celtic music with a melancholy tinge, perhaps befitting how i'm feeling about being back in the u.s. and continuing to witness the pathos of the erosion of everything we stand for...

glenn greenwald...

The first paragraph of today's New York Times article by Charlie Savage:

The 48 Guantánamo Bay detainees whom the Obama administration has decided to keep holding without trial include several for whom there is no evidence of involvement in any specific terrorist plot, according to a report disclosed Friday.

The Report itself, in a matter-of-fact-tone, describes the individuals to be kept in a cage indefinitely without charges this way:

They can't even be prosecuted in the due-process-abridging military commissions we invented out of whole cloth for those who can't be convicted in a real court. In other words: of course we'll provide a fair tribunal for proving your guilt -- as long as we're certain we can convict you -- otherwise, we'll just imprison you indefinitely without charges. All this even though 72% of Guantanamo detainees have been found to be wrongfully held since the Supreme Court compelled habeas hearings in 2008. And then there are the numerous Yemeni prisoners who have been cleared for release but who will be kept in a cage anyway because we arbitrarily decreed that we're not going to release even innocent prisoners back to Yemen.


Yes -- being as sentimental as I am -- I, too, harbor nostalgia for that "older principle of accountability under the law": you know, that idealized time when everyone was entitled to be charged with crimes before being imprisoned forever (rather than only those for whom prosecution was "feasible") and when Presidents weren't actually allowed to target American citizens for murder without at least some due process being granted. Anyway, did Sarah Palin post something to her Facebook page today? And isn't that Glenn Beck crazy?

i never thought i'd come to the day when i'd be embarrassed and ashamed to identify myself as a liberal, democrat and progressive...

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Last photos from the Hebrides and Scotland

i've been delaying posting these last photos from scotland, an avoidance i now see calculated to defer putting closure to a most remarkable trip... so, one week after returning, here they are, taken over the period 18-21 may... the photo titles say where and what... i'm not providing any additional commentary because i don't have the words...

Sands of Uig, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Bernera Beach, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Scottish coast, from The Minch, near Ullapool

Leakey's Bookshop Cafe & Gallery, Inverness

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh

Dean Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh

Edinburgh skyline, Edinburgh

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Need something to give you bad dreams...? Check this latest gizmo for the Israel Defence Forces...

oh, yay... three cheers for the idf...

i guess such technology will just help things like this to continue to happen...

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If corporate senior management was truly honest...

they would say that they don't want any employees... employees are fundamental irritants, lazy, no-good, lying, worthless sacks of shit that suck up company resources, generate customer complaints and only serve to reduce the amount of money that could otherwise find its way into the pockets of the execs...

when i worked for united airlines, the not-so-funny joke was that the senior execs were in the eternal search for the airline version of the mcdonald's cash register, something so simple that any idiot could operate it, preferably an idiot that would work for minimum wage and not insist on belonging to a union... if you've flown recently, you can see that, with electronic booking, ticketing, online check-in, and airport electronic check-in kiosks, the airlines have surpassed themselves... the "any idiots" are now us, the passengers... the airline employees are only there to prevent serious meltdowns...

the cartoon below is perhaps the best representation i've seen lately of the realities of organizational life... make no mistake... this reality is not restricted to large corporations, the private sector or the united states... it applies around the world to organizations of all stripes... thankfully, there are exceptions but they are pathetically few and far between...


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Is it any wonder I'm losing interest in posting...?

with headlines and stories like this to start my day, i'd be much better off just jumping off a cliff...
Senate Approves Nearly $60 Billion for Wars

The Senate on Thursday approved a nearly $60 billion measure to pay for continuing military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq as House Democrats struggled to round up votes for a major package of business tax breaks and safety-net programs for the long-term unemployed.

hells fire... it's all fiat currency anyway, printed up or digitally created on a computer, so why can't they whip some up for the unemployed instead of continuing to enable endless death and destruction...? i guess i must be from a different planet, maybe even a different universe...

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The BP "spillcam"

something to ruin your day...

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Obama administration is concerned about continuing to work with the perpetrator of the biggest environmental clusterfuck in history?

the most pathetic headline imaginable...

from the wapo...

Obama administration conflicted about relying on BP to stop gulf oil spill

jeebus h. freakin' keee-rist on a surfboard...! can you believe it...? if obama had any semblance of cojones and/or really had the common good of the citizens of this country at heart, he would have kicked bp's ass out of the picture after the first week, commandeered all available resources, and put together a crack team of the world's top experts to mount an all-out effort to mitigate this unprecedented disaster... he would have followed up by declaring a moratorium on any new offshore drilling permits and announced a national effort to develop alternative, clean energy resources in a program that would rival and even surpass the race to put a man on the moon...

what's the matter with this man...? nothing less than the survival of the environment of the gulf coast is at stake, to say nothing of the future of the planet, and barack is afraid of hurting widdle ol' bp's feelings...? grow a pair, mr. audacity of hope... you're working for US, you son-of-a-bitch...!

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The obscenity that is corporate "personhood"

corporate "personhood" is both an obscenity and an oxymoron... it first took hold in a deliberate misinterpretation of the 14th amendment, passed in 1868, led by the railroad barons... the amendment was passed to give substantive and procedural due process rights to former slaves but, in cases such as santa clara county v. southern pacific railroad (1886), was used to establish the precedent for treating corporations as "persons"... this was never the intent and we are way overdue for a legal nullification of this absurd concept...

not that it's going to make a difference to our ravenous super-rich elites who are pulling the strings of our corporatocracy, but at least there's a few things afoot...

here's one effort, a group working to counter the latest supreme court insanity, citizens united v. federal election commission...

"We the corporations"

On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions. The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule.
We Move to Amend.
We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

* Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
* Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our votes and participation count.
* Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate "preemption" actions by global, national, and state governments.

(sign their petition here...)

the march of the monahan brothers came to my attention just the other day...

Two brothers in their late sixties are setting out on a journey they hope will "restore democracy to America." Starting out from San Francisco, Robin and Laird Monahan have begun a 3000-mile hike that will take them across ten states to Washington, DC.

Along the way, the Monahans hope to rally opposition to the controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Citizens United v. FEC.


you can view the brothers' blog here... i am hoping to meet the brothers when they pass through carson city, nevada, this weekend...

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Monday, May 24, 2010

"The latest face that masks the corporate state" - Chris Hedges on Obama

oh, would that it were otherwise...
What is happening in Greece, what will happen in Spain and Portugal, what is starting to happen here in states such as California, is the work of a global, white-collar criminal class. No government, including our own, will defy them. It is up to us. Barack Obama is simply the latest face that masks the corporate state. His administration serves corporate interests, not ours. Obama, like Goldman Sachs or Citibank, does not want the public to see how the Federal Reserve Bank acts as a private account and ATM machine for Wall Street at our expense. He, too, has helped orchestrate the largest transference of wealth upward in American history. He serves our imperial wars, refuses to restore civil liberties, and has not tamed our crippling deficits. His administration gutted regulatory agencies that permitted BP to turn the Gulf of Mexico into a toxic swamp. The refusal of Obama to intervene in a meaningful way to save the gulf’s ecosystem and curtail the abuses of the natural gas and oil corporations is not an accident. He knows where power lies. BP and its employees handed more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

We are facing the collapse of the world’s financial system. It is the end of globalization. And in these final moments the rich are trying to get all they can while there is still time. The fusion of corporatism, militarism and internal and external intelligence agencies—much of their work done by private contractors—has given these corporations terrifying mechanisms of control. Think of it, as the Greeks do, as a species of foreign occupation. Think of the Greek riots as a struggle for liberation.


As the crowds of strikers in Athens understand, it is not the banks that are important but the people who raise children, build communities and sustain life. And when a government forgets whom it serves and why it exists, it must be replaced.

in some ways, i wish chris hedges wasn't so damn rational and articulate... as much time as i spend in search of the big picture, when someone lays it on me as clearly as hedges does, it can be more than a little depressing...

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Back in Amerika

yeah, it was only two weeks... two months outside the u.s. is more my average but, given where i was traveling amid the beauty, the magic and the timeless and tangible antiquity of the outer hebrides, coming back to the same sad state of affairs is particularly disheartening...

glenn greenwald, as per usual, zeroes in on the amazing and, no surprise, virtually ignored depth of obama's deceit...

Few issues highlight Barack Obama's extreme hypocrisy the way that Bagram does. As everyone knows, one of George Bush’s most extreme policies was abducting people from all over the world -- far away from any battlefield -- and then detaining them at Guantanamo with no legal rights of any kind, not even the most minimal right to a habeas review in a federal court. Back in the day, this was called "Bush's legal black hole." In 2006, Congress codified that policy by enacting the Military Commissions Act, but in 2008, the Supreme Court, in Boumediene v. Bush, ruled that provision unconstitutional, holding that the Constitution grants habeas corpus rights even to foreign nationals held at Guantanamo. Since then, detainees have won 35 out of 48 habeas hearings brought pursuant to Boumediene, on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to justify their detention.

Immediately following Boumediene, the Bush administration argued that the decision was inapplicable to detainees at Bagram -- including even those detained outside of Afghanistan but then flown to Afghanistan to be imprisoned. Amazingly, the Bush DOJ -- in a lawsuit brought by Bagram detainees seeking habeas review of their detention -- contended that if they abduct someone and ship them to Guantanamo, then that person (under Boumediene) has the right to a habeas hearing, but if they instead ship them to Bagram, then the detainee has no rights of any kind. In other words, the detainee's Constitutional rights depends on where the Government decides to drop them off to be encaged. One of the first acts undertaken by the Obama DOJ that actually shocked civil libertarians was when, last February, as The New York Times put it, Obama lawyers "told a federal judge that military detainees in Afghanistan have no legal right to challenge their imprisonment there, embracing a key argument of former President Bush’s legal team."

But last April, John Bates, the Bush-43-appointed, right-wing judge overseeing the case, rejected the Bush/Obama position and held that Boumediene applies to detainees picked up outside of Afghanistan and then shipped to Bagram. I reviewed that ruling here, in which Judge Bates explained that the Bagram detainees are "virtually identical to the detainees in Boumediene," and that the Constitutional issue was exactly the same: namely, "the concern that the President could move detainees physically beyond the reach of the Constitution and detain them indefinitely."

But the Obama administration was undeterred by this loss. They quickly appealed Judge Bates' ruling. As the NYT put it about that appeal: "The decision signaled that the administration was not backing down in its effort to maintain the power to imprison terrorism suspects for extended periods without judicial oversight." Today, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals adopted the Bush/Obama position, holding that even detainees abducted outside of Afghanistan and then shipped to Bagram have no right to contest the legitimacy of their detention in a U.S. federal court, because Boumediene does not apply to prisons located within war zones (such as Afghanistan).

So congratulations to the United States and Barack Obama for winning the power to abduct people anywhere in the world and then imprison them for as long as they want with no judicial review of any kind.

with my work in kabul, i've spent no small amount of time contemplating what was taking place less than 100km from where i sat at my desk, trying to make a constructive difference in the midst of utter tragedy...

despite the many positive changes this president has made, there is no way i can find it in my heart to support an administration that consciously and deliberately tramples on the most fundamental principles my country supposedly stands for... as long as the united states continues to say one thing and do another, particularly when it is as egregious as this, we expose ourselves to the revenge of those who are being crushed under the heels of our boots...

or is that the plan...?

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