Thursday, August 31, 2006

What ARE the GOP's Interests?

Conflicting with those of the public.

Over the past six years, the list of conflicting GOP and Public interests has grown long, indeed. A tiny, sampling:
Voting, Media, Oil, More Oil, Energy Policy, Avian Flu Vaccine, Hospitals and Health Care, Government Contracts, Contract Accounting, The Supreme Court, and this list goes on and on...
This week, Alternet's Sarah Anderson focuses of Blatantly Boasting War Profiteers:

"Obviously, we got a pop during the Iraq and Afghani thing," CEO Gerald Potthoff of Engineered Support Systems International candidly if indelicately told an investment publication last year. A big pop indeed. A series of war-related contracts for logistical services, some awarded on a no-bid basis, drove company earnings to record levels and set up executives for a lucrative sale of the company to another defense contractor, DRS Technologies, earlier this year. Among the beneficiaries of that sale: President George W. Bush's uncle, William H. T. Bush, an ESSI director, who cleared $2.7 million in cash and stock. Known to the president as "Uncle Bucky," he claims he had nothing to do with the company's landing lucrative defense contracts.
In last night's"Rumsfeld is a fascist" commentary, Keith Olbermann begged the question, What really are the GOP's interests?

From Iraq to Katrina, to flu vaccine shortages, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to envelope this nation - he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have – inadvertently or intentionally - profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.
Anderson, for her part, dared to question the billing name on the record of purchase for the emperor's new clothes, still not having seen the receipt: "Why should we let our tax dollars subsidize war profiteering?"

Early this year James Cavuoto, editor and publisher of Neurotech Business Report, warned colleagues about the dangers of conflict of interest delivered by the GOP Department of Defense:

However, we must avoid the danger that the potential profit that the defense economy stands to deliver to our industry will suck us into passive acceptance of the civilian mismanagement that has misused and maltreated the precious resource represented by our military personnel. The fact that we do business with the government does not relieve us of our sacred responsibility in a democracy to hold our elected officials accountable for the policies they have pursued. Moreover, the fact we cherish and admire our returning servicepeople does not mean that we cannot question the wisdom of the war in Iraq or the moral fiber of the Washington elite who started it.
Rumsfeld, his militarization of disaster relief, health care, and all the rest, should take note.

War for Brains

Bush's $2-trillion misadventure in Iraq. In an article published early this summer, The Harvard Magazine reviews cost estimates of Bush's Iraq war. Bilmes, a public-finance specialist, provides context:
“We are not only saddling our young people with this burden,” she adds, “but we are sweeping it under the carpet and not noticing that there’s a big bump. These costs are locked in. The reality is that the government is very, very bad at budgeting for long-term costs...How big is big? The highest-grossing movie ever, Titanic, took in $1.8 billion. We spend that in Iraq in one week.”
Long-term medical costs is another legacy of the Iraq war. Coagulants, armour, and triage practices are saving lives, yet serious injuries multiply. To date, there have been 2,638 deaths, and nearly 20,000 wounded. The injured mortality rate is the lowest in any U.S. war, 10%, but the rate of amputations, a marker for serious injury, has nearly doubled to 6%. Thousands of U.S. servicemen and women are returning home with brain injuries, amputations, blindness, and other neurological conditions, with ongoing costs that have yet to be realized.

Combat veterans object to GOP policy. According to the Navy Times, congress is drawing the ire of the the largest organization of combat veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars. VFW chief, Jim Mueller, asserted that a proposal in congress to cut funding for research and treatment of traumatic brain injury in half, “clearly indicates that the Congress is out of touch with the realities and consequences of war.”

DOD budget shows GOP's true colors. According to USA Today, George Zitnay, co-founder of the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, “testified before a Senate subcommittee in May that body armor saves troops caught in blasts but leaves many with brain damage...Zitnay asked for $19 million, and 34 Democratic and six Republican members of Congress signed a letter endorsing the budget request.” The News & Observer reports:
Brain injuries are so common among U.S. troops that they're called the signature injury of the Iraq war, but Congress is poised to cut military spending on researching and treating them...The Pentagon asked only for $7 million and didn't respond properly when congressional staffers tried to find out whether it needed more money for the program, said Jenny Manley, a spokeswoman for the Senate appropriations committee.
New patterns of morbidity and mortality change the costs of war. For a variety of reasons, the morbidity/mortality landscape has changed. Given the rising incidence of long-term traumatic injury, I suspect the new landscape presents a deceptive and incomplete picture of the current and future costs of making war. Earlier this year, James Cavuoto, Editor and Publisher of Neurotech Business Report, mused: "The injured soldiers returning from Iraq deserve our support and all the medical technology we can possibly provide. The question that remains is whether we, in the end, are deserving of their service."

I'm not holding my breath for that answer.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Katrina Reflections

This is an open thread to post our reflections on the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the tragic aftermath.

I thought it best to let Tim Wise with "The Black Commentator" speak again. This is from the September 8, 2005, issue and is titled Blasphemy About New Orleans: A God With Whom I Am Not Familiar.

And in this essay, Jim Wallis asks why it is that during hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters, those who have the least to lose are often those who lose the most. (Sorry, registration is required...but worth it to read stuff not by religious fundies. Check out their homepage and see for yourself at

And our always sensitive and empathetic (or is that just pathetic?) President says that we will not remember Katrina in ten years. No, Mr. President, in ten years we will not remember you.

You Tube Pick of the Week

Since I just found out how easy it is to put YouTube videos into a blogpost, you're going to be seeing a lot more of them. Here's a 1994 performance from Paul Rodgers and Friends. I've always been a huge fan of Paul Rodgers, since the days of the '60s band FREE (biggest hit; All Right Now), and later Bad Company (who had a hit of the same name.) Here they are doing a song called Wishing Well. I LOVE the hook line; "And I know what you're wishing for...Love in a Peaceful World."

Paul's latest tour was with Queen, doing some of their tunes, some Free tunes, and some Bad Company tunes. From the cuts I've seen it must have been a great tour!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Taking Care Of Business

How about taking care of people?
In This Recent Alternet article, Russ Baker talks about how
the Democratic Party, or at least a good number of its most influential members, are part and parcel of the pro-business culture that permeates the halls of power in Washington, D.C. He uses Joe Lieberman as a classic example.
"Lieberman is...famous in the capital for his undying support for corporate causes. There are countless examples: Remember Lieberman's role in blocking the reforms of stock option accounting that former SEC chair Arthur Levitt was trying to enact? This was a question of honest accounting that became part and parcel of the corporate corruption scandals of recent years, and Lieberman was a champion of the wrong side.

Beyond that, Lieberman happily has done the bidding of the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies and many others... And of course, his support of and continued rationalization of the Iraq invasion, like many of Lieberman's other stances, has served chiefly to benefit large corporations, in this case the "national security/homeland defense" industry that got a huge boost from Bush's reckless military adventurism."
Baker goes on to detail how this perversion of democracy goes well beyond Lieberman, naming prominent consultants and operatives in the Democratic party with close connections to Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Al Gore among others. (And of those, by the way, I rather like Al Gore.) It's a lengthy article, and I'd like to use this excerpt to prompt you to read the whole thing.
"Jack Quinn served as Vice President Gore's chief of staff and later as counsel to President Clinton. In January 2000, he left what was still a Democratic White House and formed Quinn Gillespie with Ed Gillespie, a Republican and close friend of Tom DeLay. This firm was among the pioneers of the one-stop-shopping approach that has since swept Washington. Want to influence the legislative process? Now you can get right to the top of both parties by hiring a single firm.

Quinn Gillespie has represented clients who want to drill in fragile areas of Alaska, put the screws to already beleaguered American creditors, and prevent the introduction of more healthy dairy substitutes in school lunches. Quinn helped secure a controversial pardon for the fugitive financier Marc Rich as Clinton was leaving office."
This comes from Russ Baker's Real News Project, blogrolled here for further reading.

Stalin spoke of how he didn't care who voted, only who counted the votes. In the American system of 'democracy', the situation is even worse than that, notwithstanding the potential abuse of Diebold and ES&S voting machines. Who cares who votes when the same corporate moguls decide who both candidates are? The American flag might as well look like this.
Going Deeper:
The Corporation. This Canadian-produced documentary by Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbot and Joel Bakan is so good it's frightening. Not to my knowledge available on the net in streaming form. I suggest you buy a copy of the DVD set, watch it several times, then donate it to your local library or high school. Same goes for the companion book.

Another Open Thread

Good Doggy!!
Now, c'mere boy, and I'll give you a milk bone.

Today's link is to a post by Canadian blogger Firestarter 5, who posted the story of a 71-year-old woman living in her car in Los Angeles while the Bush administration wastes billions of dollars a day on the war in Iraq.

Our quote;

"In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors, for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal applies only upwards, not downwards." -- Bertrand Russell

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Friday Night Cat Blogging

So, I Had this picture of a cat sitting around doing nothing
(the picture, not the cat. Cats are almost always sitting around doing nothing),
and it's Friday Night. So I thought, what the heck, might as well cat blog.
What harm could it do?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Overdue Open Thread

ON NOTICE!When Colbert Gets Your Number, You've Had It!

Tonight's link is to Nate of Get In Their Face! (And Shout Down Tyranny), an excellent multimedia blog out of Pearl Harbor, HI. Nate is a good friend of Sans-Culotte who is wondering, like us, where he is. If you have any information that could help us, please, please, pass it on.

Tonight's quote:

"When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative."

Martin Luther King Jr.

(From the older banner that was atop Sans' homepage.)

Portrait of War Crimes

Pablo Picasso's famous antiwar painting, Guernica, commemorates the small Basque village in Northern Spain that was bombed by Hitler's German forces in April 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, marking the first time civilians had been targeted on such large and effective scale. According to Russell Martin, Author of Picasso's War, "Guernica has become for people around the world visceral, visual evidence of the true nature of war, a perspective very unlike the heroic and optimistic one so often presented by politicians who have never seen war close at hand." A third of the villagers were either killed or wounded during the three hours of bombing and machine gun fire.

We know that since the inception of the Iraq war, the Bush administration has been uncomfortable with Guernica's ability to inspire parallels between the Bush and Hitler regimes, evoking poetic response. I note the parallel one can also draw to Israel's bombing of civilians in Southern Lebanon. And as we teeter on the verge of "action" in Iran, and depending on how we act, we may, indeed, strike a stunning parallel to the fascist friends of Franco. If we are willing to justify the slaughter of civilians because of "terrorists", haven't "the terrorists won?"

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Evangelists Infiltrate USAF Academy

Air Force Cadets: ‘Ten-shun. Right face.'That is what the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado,
has been training its cadets to do
– move to the right – politically and religiously.

I find this item from The Bradley Report to be more than a little disturbing. Are taxpayer dollars being spent within the military to ensure an officer class that is predominately Born-Again Christian and Republican? If so, the consequences for America's future worry me. Excerpts;
"This begins with President George W. Bush and goes all the way down to the individual cadet...He is, himself, a born-again Christian evangelist, and that is the starting point. Often Mr. Bush’s self-proclaimed evangelism gets in the way of his duties as president. This is one of those places.
Administrators, staff, upper classmen and cadets all get the message and they get it with abundant clarity – if you are going to be an upstanding United States Air Force officer, well you had better be an upstanding evangelical Christian, or else. If evangelical Christianity exists in the USAF Academy, and clearly it does, this is its mission.
Bush knows this and the Air Force hierarchy knows Bush’s wishes, even if Bush never passed them along directly or specifically.
It is nonetheless reasonable to ask why this particular strain of religious practice suddenly gained hold at the Air Force academy – coincidence? Unlikely. It’s much more likely that no one tried to stop this because the top guy liked this brand of preaching."
So, if no-one tried to stop this, what has been done? And why is there anything wrong with this? Don't the religious believers have a right to discuss their faith with others? (As argued here) Well, I'll try to answer the second question first, by referencing this Washington Post story from last November;
"A private missionary group has assigned a pair of full-time Christian ministers to the U.S. Air Force Academy, where they are training cadets to evangelize among their peers...'Praise God that we have been allowed access by the Academy into the cadet areas to minister among the cadets. We have recently been given an unused classroom to meet with cadets at any time during the day,' the husband-and-wife team of Darren and Gina Lindblom said in [a] letter to their donors.
Michael L. Weinstein, a 1977 Air Force Academy alumnus...has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Air Force of violating the First Amendment's establishment clause by fostering evangelical Christianity over all faiths...'The only group that gets 24/7 unrestricted access to cadets is this fundamentalist, born-again Christian group,' Weinstein charged."
The military, faced with this lawsuit, did an investigation into practices at the Air Force Academy. Citing The Bradley Report again (italics where military report quoted), here are some of their conclusions;
"[T]he air force discounts overt religious discrimination...but is willing to admit that some teachers, administrators and upper classmen failed to discern 'where the line is drawn between permissible and impermissible expressions of belief.' In other words, some in authority arrogantly proselytized subordinates with their right-wing, evangelical Christian beliefs.

Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, atheists and even some other Protestant worshipers did not enter the Air Force Academy to be discriminated against.
But they were.
They were discriminated against because some administrative USAF Academy staff and some upper classmen protégés tried to preach evangelical Christianity to them, and whenever they failed to win over the given cadets, those young men and women were then treated differently, as though they were utterly without military worth; this was pure religious discrimination, as ugly as it gets."
So, what has been done, officially, is that this report was made. None of the Academy's officers who either tolerated or encouraged this behaviour have been disciplined so far, and I doubt they will be. Last January the Bush White House dishonestly framed the issue as though the evangelicals were the ones being discriminated against, as reported in The Washington Times. "The White House will pressure the Pentagon into being more explicit in saying that military chaplains can pray in the name of Jesus Christ, an evangelical Christian chaplains' group says." For more background on this issue, Religion and Ethics newsweekly (PBS) has a forum here with plenty of links.

Why am I worried about this? I can't help thinking this is happening in the Army, Navy and Marines as well. The administration and their stenographers in the mainstream media have been increasingly trying to blur the line between legitimate dissenting US citizens and terrorist sympathizers. It's almost as if they're gearing up to declare martial law or something. A military officer corps with a monolithic belief in the Führer's President's God-given infallibility would make that a serious concern.

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction." -- Pascal
That's what worries me.
(Endnote): Pictured is an F-16 parked in front of the 'chapel', an enormous building that dominates the cadet area of the Air Force Academy. Printable map of campus here.

Related Posts:
Backs Against The Wall
Not Quite Torture?
Constitutional Devolution
Crossposted from Friendly Neighbour

Sometimes it is a Matter of Perspective

Perspectives across the gulf of the Middle Eastern Desert, diverge...

Across states of Red and Blue, diverge.

Across the Progressive Left, diverge.

How can a single thing seem so many ways?

How can the Middle East choose Peace?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

What Can One Man Do?

Putting The War In Iraq on Trial
How can this not be a crime?

The moral courage of one man has the potential to change the outcome of the war in Iraq. That one man, Army Lt. Ehren Watada, refused last June to deploy with his unit to Iraq, citing his obligation as an officer not to obey illegal orders. He did not run, he did not hide, he stood up and faced the music. The army has charged him with disobeying an order, and he could face court martial. Time magazine reported on his case on the occasion of his first hearing Thursday.
...[L]awyers for Lt. Watada used the opportunity to put the war itself on trial, trying to prove he was right to see the war as "manifestly illegal," and as a result, to refuse to participate. "A soldier has an obligation to disobey illegal orders," said Francis Boyle, a Harvard-trained professor of international law who testified on behalf of Lt. Watada and whose mentor wrote the Army's field manual for land warfare. "Under the circumstances of this war, if he had deployed, he would have been facilitating a Nuremberg crime against peace."
As recently as last summer he was willing to go to Iraq. But the more he learned about the war, the more doubts he had, according to his public statements.
In January, after he became convinced that the war was illegal, he tried to resign rather than go to Iraq, but the Army wouldn't let him do so. As a compromise, he asked to be sent instead to Afghanistan, a war he supports. His request was not granted.
Capt. Dan Kuecker, one of the prosecutors, had this to say: whether the war is legal, "is not a decision for a lieutenant to make — it's a decision for politicians and legislators." What he doesn't say is that Congress has failed in its duty to scrutinize the legality of this war in any way. What he doesn't say is that Congress was defrauded by spurious claims of WMDs and a Saddam-El Qaida connection from the start. He doesn't mention that the Republican majority in congress has blocked Democratic attempts to examine the faulty intelligence that led to the war. He doesn't mention that 'this war' is not even a war under US law, because Congress has never declared it to be one.
The implications of Lt. Watada's decision are enormous. By his refusal to serve in Iraq he is shining a light on a very dark place, forcing the media to pay attention to an issue they would prefer to ignore. His case may force some politicians to reexamine their tacit support of this war. It may lead eventually to war crimes trials against high administration officials. All because of one man's courage. The personal costs to Lt. Watada are by no means insignificant. If court martialed and convicted, he would face up to seven years in prison. We recently discussed onthread the courage of Israelis who refused to serve in their country's military. We salute them in the refusenik banner you will find in the left sidebar. And Lt. Ehren Watada, we salute you.For further reading on this story, Jeanine Plante at Alternet has this column. And please visit for background on the support Ehren is getting from his mother, the ACLU, and a former UN Undersecretary General, among others.

Crossposted, with edits, from Friendly Neighbour

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sunday Open Thread

The link takes you to the front runner in the Huffington Post's Contagious Festival. It's an animated version of the New York Times cover, that changes as you hover your mouse pointer over it. Then you see what a right-winger sees when he/she reads the news. Pretty funny.
In keeping with that theme, I have selected the following for tonight's quote;

"All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values."
-- Marshall McLuhan --

Friday, August 18, 2006

Saturday Open Thread

Click for larger image
Tonight's link is to Glenn Greenwald's blog, Unclaimed Territory. I've depended rather heavily on Glenn as a source the last couple of days because he's a lawyer and I've been discussing the NSA wiretapping decision. It's only right that I give him his props.

It's also only right that I use another lawyer for tonight's quote. I chose Clarence Darrow, who had many deep thoughts to share with the world. Is this one?

"I don't like spinach, and I'm glad I don't,
because if I liked it I'd eat it,
and I just hate it.
I'm not so sure, but he also said,

"If you lose the power to laugh, you lose the power to think."

Smart man, Clarence Darrow

Backs Against The Wall

When I put up this post yesterday I knew that there would be a lot more to be said about the NSA wiretapping decision reached by US District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor yesterday. The thought at the top of my mind was, "doesn't this expose a lot of people to felony charges?" Well, it does indeed, as pointed out in the follow-up Glenn Greenwald article on the matter here. In fact, the legal consequences for defying the FISA laws passed after Watergate could be weighing heavily on the minds of a number of Bush Administration officials, not to mention those in the NSA who carried out the wiretapping. In retrospect Judge Taylor may have erred by not issuing arrest warrants for at least some of the individuals involved. I think she committed a worse error by allowing the wiretaps to continue in spite of her ruling while awaiting further resolution.
Going back to Glenn's first column yesterday for details of the ruling;
  • The court ... emphasized...that it is vital to our democracy that the administration's conduct not remain beyond the reach of judicial scrutiny.
  • the court ruled -- rather emphatically and without much doubt -- that warrantless eavesdropping violates the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures
  • the court ruled independently -- again, without all that much reasoning -- that the NSA program violates the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights
  • the court relied upon Youngstown to hold that the Executive's powers in the national security area do not entitle him to act beyond the law or the Constitution
  • since the court found warrantless eavesdropping unconstitutional, Congress could not authorize warrantless eavesdropping by statute.
  • the court made its scorn quite clear for the administration's Yoo theory of executive power because, as the court put it, "there are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution."...the President is subject to constitutional restrictions -- a proposition long unquestioned in our system of government until the Bush administration began inventing radical theories of executive power.
  • the court (a) declared the NSA program to be in violation of FISA, the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment and (b) issued a permanent injunction enjoining the Bush administration from continuing to eavesdrop in violation of FISA. (Which injunction was immediately stayed pending appeal)
The declaration that the program was in violation of FISA is the sticky point on which Glenn's second column follows up. This is serious stuff; the penalty for violating FISA is 5 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. That's got to have a lot of the people who wear headphones and take notes feeling a little uncomfortable. Higher-ups could be responsible for thousands of individual incidents, the fines reaching levels that would even bankrupt Dick Cheney's Halliburton-bloated holdings. Not to mention the jail time.
It is not unreasonable to assume that the potential defendants of FISA charges, as well as those who are complicit in the torture and murder of those illegally detained in the Great War on Terror will do everything in their power to escape justice. And when 'everything in their power' includes the powers of the Bush White House and the Gonzales Justice Department, that could mean martial law. As scary as that sounds, I wouldn't bet against it. Their backs are really up against the wall, and they know it.
Crossposted to Friendly Neighbour

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Friday Open Thread

People can influence...
whether they know it or not.


There's always enough money for the things we want

Via, the Congressional Budget Office released its budget projections today, estimating the deficit will rise to $286 billion in fiscal 2007, up from this year’s $260 billion projected deficit. Moreover, the long-term outlook remains bleak; total deficits over the next decade are estimated at $1.7 trillion. As I write this, the cost of the occupation of Iraq is at $307,629,652,935.

A phased withdrawal would save $416 billion on the deficit over the next four years and $1.28 trillion over the next decade. On the other hand, a strategy of “stay the course” will increase the deficit by $313 billion over the next four years and $1.3 trillion over the next decade.

I, personally, believe that supplying the world with safe, clean water would go further to curb terrorism than any war Bush could conjure up. Dean Kamen (the segway guy) is on the right track

So how would you spend the money? And, btw, in the time it took me to write this post the cost of the war has increased to $307,635,732,947.

NSA Wiretapping Ruled Unconstitutional

Federal Judge Orders Immediate Halt
In perhaps the best news to come along in some time, US District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has unequivocally ruled against the Bush Administration's unwarranted domestic surveillance program, ordering its immediate cessation. The case was filed by the ACLU on behalf of several clients including a number of lawyers with overseas clients.

It's about time. This program has been going on at least since 9/11, and possibly even longer. This blatant defiance of the Constitution boggles the mind. Here are excerpts from the original AP wire report as published by the Idaho Statesman:
"Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear, in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution," Taylor wrote in her 43-page opinion.
"By holding that even the president is not above the law, the court has done its duty," said Ann Beeson, the ACLU's associate legal director and the lead attorney for the plaintiffs. Beeson predicted the government would appeal the ruling and request that the order to halt the program be postponed while the case makes its way through the system. She said the ACLU had not yet decided whether it would oppose such a postponement.
Glenn Greenwald of the excellent Unclaimed Territory blog, is understandably jubilant over the decision. The NSA's various programs have been his focus for some time now. I urge readers who want a more substantial analysis of this story to head for Glenn's. This is a legal issue. He is a lawyer. 'Nuff said.

While this is undoubtedly the most significant story in the news today, it is politically embarrassing for the Bush administration that they have been legally determined to be involved in criminal activity. What do you want to bet that the Jon Benet Ramsey story gets 24/7 coverage for the foreseeable future?

Cross-posted to Friendly Neighbour

Republicans Backing Lieberman

False Flag Operation Exposed

Breaking news: In a move that should surprise no-one, the Republican party has withdrawn support from their Senate candidate for Connecticut Alan Schlesinger in favour of Joe Lieberman. This report just in from The New York Observer:
This morning, a source at the National Republican Senatorial Committee confirmed in a phone interview that the party will not help Schlesinger or any other potential Republican candidate in Connecticut, and it now favors a Lieberman victory in November.
'We did a poll and there is no way any Republican we put out there can win, so we are just going to leave that one alone,' said the NRSC source.
Instead, the NRSC is pulling for Lieberman over Ned Lamont, who rode an anti-war message to a victory in the Aug 8 primary.
This is sleazy on so many different levels I hardly know where to begin. First is that it unmistakeably exposes Lieberman's entire career as a false flag operation. Well, he's flying his true colours now, and those colours are solid red Republican. Second is that it puts the lie to a longtime Republican talking point that certain measures supported by LIEberman and other DINOs were 'bipartisan.' Third is the laughable idea that Joe is running as a 'Democratic Independent.' Infamous for the kiss he exchanged publicly with George W. Bush at the State of the Union address, one suspects he's kissing a little lower down in private.
h/t to David Sirota of Working For Change, from whom I first heard this story on Al Franken's Air America Radio show. I love that I can stream their stuff up here in Canada.
Cross-Posted To Friendly Neighbour

Thursday Open Thread

Today's link is to BlueGal, who blogrolled us in our first couple of days on the net, and I think she deserves props for that. She deserves props anyway, that's one fine lookin' blog!
How does one come up with a quote to equal BlueGal's class? One turns to Lenny Bruce, the best of the best, who said,

"If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The 10% Solution

Not talking about "terror liquids" here, but another kind of terror that could destroy our democracy and set up a dictatorship....

Nearly 10 percent of Cuyahoga County's [Ohio] official ballots in the May 2 primary were "destroyed, blank, illegible, missing, taped together or otherwise compromised," according to experts who studied the county's new electronic voting system.

These serious Diebold flaws would have made a recount impossible in a close race, says the report which can be reviewed at:

Israel, The US and England have miscalculated again!

Now that the air is calmer and Hisbollah remains solidly intact; Bush and the boys are putting the Orwellian face on this disaster saying that Hisbollah has suffered a defeat.

The BBC as well as the entire Arab World see it quite differently including the end of Israeli invincibility and US influence.

This post by John in Door County. -SBT-

Wednesday Open Thread

Today's link is to Media Matters for America, a watchdog that keeps an eye on Fox "news" and other mainstream media outlets, exposing their sins, spins, and ommisions. We ask them collectively, "when are you going to start doing your job?"

On that theme, our quote of the day,

"Paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell." -- Hugo L Black

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Not Quite Torture?

Unless It's Being Done To You

Remember back on June 29 when the Supreme Court made their decision in the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld? It was big news that the Supremes had decided the US government was illegally holding hundreds of prisoners without warrants while awaiting judgement by military tribunal. Here are some excerpts from SCOTUSblog about the decision:
"[T]he principal, powerfully stated themes emanating from the Court, which are (i) that the President's conduct is subject to the limitations of statute and treaty; and (ii) that Congress's enactments are best construed to require compliance with the international laws of armed conflict. Even more importantly for present purposes, the Court held that Common Article 3 of Geneva applies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda."
This last bit (the one about Common Article 3) is the sticky part from the point of view of the Bush administration, because it is the part that leaves them open to criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act of 1996. The Bush crime family is trying to respond to the Hamdan decision in two ways. The first is pure bluff.

Knowing that the 'backwash' 30-something percent that still support them can't don't read the big words anyway, they're pretending that the Hamdan decision has only one component. The component they acknowledge is predictably the one that gives them the least trouble. Flagrantly misrepresenting the true facts of the case, they are pretending that it is just a legal flaw in the way Military Commissions were set up, and that this is something that can be remedied by an act of Congress. It can't, but the claim gives them a flimsy excuse to continue holding the detainees while they get this little problem fixed.

The other way they are trying to respond to Hamdan is even more insidious. Having failed in their hamfisted attempts to separate detainees from their legal rights (they're not covered - they're 'illegal combatants') they now are trying to separate themselves from their own legal culpablity. As this recent article in Slate details, they are now seeking legislation that will retroactively immunize government employees from prosecution under the War Crimes Act. And once again they are using false pretenses to further their agenda, specifically the claim that this proposed legislation only covers acts that are not quite torture, such as waterboarding.
Administration officials say that under Hamdan, CIA and military personnel could be prosecuted for violations of the act, presumably by U.S. attorneys in a future administration, and not merely by "rogue" prosecutors in the existing Justice Department. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales recently told Congress that [Common Article 3] terms like "inhuman" and "outrages upon personal dignity" are "inherently vague," and that there were "unacceptable" risks of spurious prosecutions under the War Crimes Act.
This is so disingenuous as to defy description. "The administration, in sum, is asking Congress to retroactively decriminalize the abuses we saw at Abu Ghraib." Why? Because, "In many cases, soldiers say that abusive practices were authorized up the chain of command, making military and even civilian officials potentially complicit." That's interesting. So this isn't about helping Pfc. Lynndie England get on with her life. So what are they trying to protect the bigwigs from? Here's a clue.
We now know that dozens of detainees have died in custody in Afghanistan and Iraq. In several cases, interrogators literally beat detainees to death.
No, that's not quite torture. That's murder.
Cross-Posted to Friendly Neighbour

Olbermann Nails It

With Piece on Politics and Terror
Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?
Uh, I think so, Brain, but where will we find a duck and a hose at this hour?

Last Night Crooks and Liars put up this piece with a 12-minute video of Keith Olbermann talking about the nexus between BushCo™'s political fortunes and their deployment of news related to the Great War On Terror (GWOT). - "It refuses to assume that counter-terrorism measures in this country are not being influenced by politics." The premise is simple: whenever the White House finds itself in political trouble or sees a dip in the polls, they haul out whatever dubious terror threat they can cobble up, and use it to knock the bad news off the front pages. When a real threat occurs, it is held 'on ice' and released to the public at whatever time is most propitious for the government. Next to war-mongering, fear-mongering is the Republicans' favourite mongering.

Olbermann starts out with the recent British Airways arrests and the fact that the US pressured British authorities to act precipitously, tying this to the Lamont victory over Joe Lieberman last week. Then he uses this quote from Tom Ridge, the first secretary of Homeland Security. Talking about the infamous colour-coded terror warning system, Ridge said,
"More often than not, we were the least inclined to raise it. Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment, sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don't necessarily put the country on alert There were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it. And we said, 'For That?'"
Using this as a takeoff point, Olbermann meticulously associates the top ten instances of dubious, spurious or mis-timed GWOT news releases with some political embarrassment to the White House or the Republicans. Apparently any time little Georgie watched an episode of Pinky and the Brain was reason enough to ring alarm bells. After all, each episode contains the following exchange, clearly subversive;

Pinky: Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?
Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky . . . Try to take over the world!
Now I personally see Pinky as George Bush and the Brain could be KKKarl Rove or Dick Cheney. One could do a dissertation on that subject, but I digress.

Watch the Olbermann report, and see what you think. I think he nailed it.

Crossposted to Friendly Neighbour
TAGS:, , ,

Israel's Chief of Staff Halutz Makes A Killing

Take "pathetic", ratchet it up a few levels, and you get... a story about how Israel's Chief of Staff, one Dan Halutz sold his entire stock portfolio at just around noon on the July 12th, after the two soldiers were kidnapped but before the plan to pummel Lebanon became public knowledge.

Also pathetic? The scope of his portfolio appears to be around $27,000.

He sure sells his soul cheap. Probably made a killing in the plummeting stock though. Definitely made killing his life's trade.

War crimes AND insider trading. Any Israeli ethic he missed?

Tuesday Open Thread

"Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it;
but I should suffer the misery of devils,
were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one
whose character is that of a sottish,
stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man." -- Thomas Paine

Monday, August 14, 2006

Death Takes a Holiday

Well, More Like a Coffee Break.
Eighteen hours into the negotiated ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah both sides are loudly trumpeting the victory they have achieved. I'm very skeptical about those claims. In war there are no winners and losers, only survivors and casualties.
Those inhaling in preparation for breathing a sigh of relief, don't hold your breath. As detailed in this NPR report, the rhetoric coming from both sides gives little cause for optimism.
"Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerrillas remain poised to resume fighting. Israel says its troops will continue to destroy Hezbollah assets until those areas are handed over to the Lebanese army and U.N. troops. The leader of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, says fighting against Israel will continue as long as Israeli troops are on Lebanese soil."
Hmm, looks like both sides heard 'cease' as an indistinct whisper, but 'FIRE' came through loud and clear. Meanwhile the Israelis have used the pause to direct their military's efforts elsewhere, as reported less than two hours ago by Reuters,
"Israeli aircraft carried out an air strike in Gaza on Monday, witnesses and the Israeli military said.
The Israeli army confirmed the strike, saying it targeted a command center of the Islamic Jihad militant group.
Witnesses said a house was destroyed and that the residents were notified ahead of the bombing. They said the house belonged to the family of a member of Islamic Jihad. There were no reports of any casualties."
Even if things were smoothing out in and around Israel, there's still that other carnage going on in Iraq, as reported by The Guardian.
"More than 60 people were feared dead today after a barrage of rockets and car bombs hit a predominantly Shia Muslim district of Baghdad.
Another 148 people were injured during the wave of violence which started last night in the Zafraniya district in the south of the city."
The predictable response from Iraqi defense officials sounds depressingly familiar,
"The terrorists are in a critical state because they realise the security plan is succeeding so they have begun targeting innocent people."
Yeah, right they're in their last throes. Yo, Death, don't gulp. You'll burn your tonsils.
Cross-Posted To Friendly Neighbour

Breaking: despite the cease-fire, Israel "confiscated" Hizbollah weapons materials in Lebanon (from Ynet)

The link is in Hebrew, but it just came out: IDF forces have "confiscated" rockets near a south-eastern village in Lebanon. Edited to add: Here is the story in English.

It has also "confiscated" a truck purportedly carrying rockets.

A "senior officer" stated that despite the cease fire, the Israeli army was instructed not to permit the smuggling of weapons material from Syria to Lebanon.

Edited to add: blog reports are mentioning that various people who had been called up - have been brought back to behind Israel's borders. Withdrawal has started, and will probably be quite swift, what with the absence of food, water, body armor, and other equipment among the Israeli forces over the border.

Low-gisitcs - or some proof that Israel has lost the war

They seem to have left their military without supplies. Napoleon might have had something to say about that. Apparently, so does the head of logistics in the Israeli army, one Avi Mizrahi:
"If our fighters deep in Lebanese territory are left without food [and] water, I believe they can break into local Lebanese stores to solve that problem," Brigadier General Avi Mizrahi, the head of the Israel Defense Forces logistics branch, said Monday.
While this provides little comfort to the Lebanese, it is very interesting to note, strategically speaking, on two levels: first, that they've allowed supplies to get to that level (what does it imply about supplies of armaments, medical equipment, etc.?) and second, perhaps more importantly, it implies that they're fighting blindly, not knowing what's going on in the Lebanese territory. The recent exodus of the refugees is pretty sure to have included just about all edible/potable goods in any stores still left standing.

Interesting strategic position, Mizrahi.

Monday Open Thread

Saturday, August 12, 2006

No Chemicals, No Passports, No Tickets...

NBC Nightly News reported that British agents are upset that they felt pressured (by whom?) to arrest terror suspects prematurely, and they possibly don't have enough evidence to hold any of them past the 28 days allowed under UK law.

Birmingham, England, City Councilwoman, Salma Yaqoob, told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, that "a major caution in the general public in accepting what is going on, and also because the timing of this, with Prime Minister Blair coming under so much pressure. Just last weekend, we had 100,000 people demonstrating against his support for Israel and America with what’s happening in Lebanon at the moment. And so, people are a bit skeptical. And people are saying, “You know, we don't know whether these men are innocent or not. They may well be guilty, but why are we hearing about these arrests before even charges have been made upon them?

Blogger Kurt Nimmo writes at

In the coming hours and days, we can expect the corporate media, eager stenographers for the neocon plan, to connect the dots—blame will be affixed to Iran, Syria, and their “proxy,” Hezbollah, through “al-Qaeda,” now dedicated (or scripted) to help Hezbollah, not that the homegrown resistance group needs any help, especially from a CIA-ISI engineered terror group.

Finally, as attention has now shifted to Muslim bad guys (either imagined or a parade of patsies), Israel will likely increase the severity of its criminal behavior against the civilians of Lebanon and those of Gaza as well, as the American public will be navel gazing video footage of inconvenienced air travel passengers.

What the Israeli Mil-Int Are Thinking. If ‘Thinking’ is the Right Word

In this weekend’s Haaretz magazine, Gidi Weitz interviews one Brigadier General Yossi Kuperwasser , who until very recently headed the research division of Israel’s Military Intelligence. The man has some problems with attitude, and other problems with reality, human dignity, democracy (he seems to think that it can be dangerous if actually used).

Some quotes may whet your appetite for the entire article:

The media doesn’t play by the rules – democracy is apparently not a wartime venture:

“[...]Our media is dealing with things that are not done in wartime. I don't say we need a media that spouts the official line, but you don't ask the chief of staff about a commission of inquiry, as Ilana Dayan did - that seems to me insane. Do you understand what a chief of staff is? You say yes, but you don't really know what a chief if staff is."

To ask is democratic

"But there are democracies that went crazy, that started to do harm to themselves."

He has obviously read no foreign press recently:

"Israel never presented itself as a victim. Always Samson. The conception of Zionism is to take our fate in our hands, not to be victims."

He doesn't seem to understand what an impact Nasrallah has had on the Arab world:

"Nasrallah is a person who is full of himself. In love with himself. Confident of his capabilities. In practice he has limited knowledge. His analytical capability may be not bad, but the self-confidence he has to demonstrate publicly makes him confused. That's what happened to him this time. He developed a theory and was caught in it without being able to judge himself critically. He had to justify his existence, so he explained that he was defending Lebanon and safeguarding its



"Physically he was ready. In terms of his consciousness he was not ready. At the political level, he has no choice but to lose this war."

Lose? He doesn't seem to be losing. [The interviewer seems surprised]

"He will not lose from the point of view that he will stop firing rockets - Saddam also kept firing rockets in 1991. The political conditions in Lebanon will change. After the war Hezbollah will have a weaker or stronger political status, but its military status will be entirely different. It will not be on the border with Israel. It will not continue to be a threat to Israel."

Has Israel’s out of control behavior had any impact in terms of recruiting new people to the Hezbollah?

"Not one person has been added to the Hezbollah fold. We may have added people who hate Israel, but not to the Hezbollah fold. The Lebanese are not dumbbells: they know why they are suffering."

His evaluation of the likelihood of peace with Syria counts as psychological projection – you can see what he thinks by reading what he says Syria thinks:

"If Syria loses Lebanon, there is a better prospect of arriving at peace with them. If they emerge victorious and nothing happens in Lebanon, why should they go to peace?"

Why, indeed?

"I think the Palestinians themselves do not want the occupation to end. This is to understand why they are pursuing us with rockets from Gaza, where the occupation ended. What is this pursuit? An attempt to force us to shoot at them? It's not all the Palestinians, but groups within them. The moderate voices are heard only faintly."

Unlike in Israel, where moderates are arrested in anti-war demonstrations.

And apparently, there is no chance of peace talks with the HAMAS (which was elected by the Palestinian populace in something of a landslide):

"Hamas, like Hezbollah, wants ... the annihilation of the State of Israel. Let's not get confused here. Even if Hezbollah is disarmed, it will not change that goal."

The bottom line?

So according to what you say there will be no permanent settlement in the years ahead?

"I don't see it.”

So that’s what Israel’s military is on about: eternal warfare. It is not clear to me who is supposed to benefit from this condition. Surely not the people living in Israel, whatever their religion and ethnic origin; surely not the government – we will see a huge backlash as soon as the troops pull out; it seems to me that the government will be recalled with a no-confidence vote when it tries to find the budget – NIS 7 billion, which is $ 1.5 – to repair the damage caused and rehabilitate the bodies and lives broken by the war; surely not the Israeli economy, which will go down the drain: it relies on foreign investment.

So who benefits from this state of things? The military, I guess. And AIPAC, which will be in the business of extorting support from the U.S. Congress for a long, long time.

Israel's Official Policy:

Shoot First and Ask Questions Later
Members of the Lebanese army and security forces, coming from the town of Marjayoun which was seized by the Israeli army on Thursday, arrive at the village of Rachaya, north of Beirut August 11, 2006. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

The Scotsman (a good news source - Bookmark it!) has this report on the assault by Israeli warplanes on a convoy of civilians trying to flee southern Lebanon yesterday. At least seven PEOPLE were killed, and 36 wounded. The convoy had been organized by the Red Cross under the auspices of the UN, and one of the dead was a Red Cross worker. The murderous message being sent by Israel is unmistakebly clear, "Stay in your homes and we will kill you. Try to leave and we will kill you anyway."

For about 48 hours after this war broke out I still clung to the meme "Israel has the right to defend itself. Hizbollah and their Arab neighbours have sworn to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth." No more. By their continued and continuing acts of naked aggression, Israel's leaders have lost all claims to any shred of moral authority. Here's what spokespersons for Israel had to say after the attack was a fait accompli;
The Israeli army confirmed it carried out an air strike on the convoy, saying it had acted on the mistaken suspicion Hizbollah guerrillas were smuggling weapons in the vehicles and that it regretted any harm to non-combatants.
The army said a military inquiry concluded the convoy had been denied a request for permission to move but that it had set out anyway.
"The attack was carried out based on a suspicion. It was found to be incorrect," an army spokeswoman said.
Well, I'm sorry but that just doesn't cut it for the seven PEOPLE who lost their lives nor for the 36 who survived the terror of the attack and the agony of their wounds. Many I'm sure will have crippling injuries that they will have to cope with for the rest of their lives. All of those who got away 'unscathed' were nonetheless severely traumatized and will be having nightmares about this for some time to come. Many will have permanent psychological consequences of PTSD.

Asking questions later is not going to make this go away.
Footnote: In this article I capitalize the word PEOPLE when referring to casualties who lost their lives. I will continue to do so in any future reports on this conflict, to emphasise that they were living, breathing, feeling humans who loved and were loved by their families and friends.

Crossposted to Friendly Neighbour

Another Cat Against Bush!

(Consider this an open thread.)


Friday, August 11, 2006

The Truth About the Mainstream Media

An Essay by SadButTrue

David Sirota has this hard-hitting piece on his blog today about the depths to which the American Mainstream Media (MSM) has sunk in recent times. In unequivocal terms he describes how the same MSM who are constantly being accused of liberal bias (ironically these accusations come from the MSM themselves) are in fact parrots for the right wing establishment. Here is a juicy excerpt:
...all the talk of the Establishment's disdain for ordinary citizens is not just talk or conspiracy theory - it's very real, and very powerful.

Take, for instance, New York Times columnist David Brooks's piece yesterday - it is arguably the most brazen admission of elite disdain for democracy that has ever been printed in a major American newspaper. Before you dismiss that as hyperbole, read the third line of Brooks' piece:

"Polarized primary voters shouldn't be allowed to define the choices in American politics."

Yes, you read that correctly: According to one of the most prominent columnists in America, "voters shouldn't be allowed to define the choices in American politics."
It's hard to believe that American public discourse could have reached such a low point. That such a statement could be made in one of the most prominent newspapers without the editor firing this columnist's sorry ass and throwing him out on the street is inexcusable. Less than 90 days from the midterm elections this so-called journalist is all but calling for the suspension of democracy. I'm going to let Jefferson and Lincoln speak for me on the vital link between a free press and a functioning democracy.
"An informed citizenry is the bulwark of democracy" -- Thomas Jefferson
"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crises. The great point is to bring them the real facts." -- Abraham Lincoln
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be" -- Thomas Jefferson
"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time." -- Abraham Lincoln
What can the ordinary citizen do to resist this insidious transition from objective reportage to blatant propaganda? First don't watch it or listen to it. There are thousands of good sites on the internet from which you can get your news. I particularly recommend that you seek out sources from outside the US, who can hardly be accused of partisan political bias. BBC News puts out a very good website version of their worldclass news service. So does The Guardian. Second, bookmark Media Matters for America, a site that issues regular reports on the manipulation of fact by the MSM. You'll be surprised to learn how often (well, constantly) they misrepresent what's going on in the world. Remember that their motive for manipulating the news is ultimately to manipulate you; your beliefs, your opinions, and even your actions. Don't put up with it.
Crossposted to Friendly Neighbour

Friday Open Thread

Sometimes it's not about perspective.
Sometimes it's just wrong...


Have at...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Huge Spike in Fearmongering

Snow Caught Dealing From the Bottom Of The Deck.
You've all heard by now (how could you not have) about the increase in the terror alert level due to the alleged thwarting of yet another plot, this one to blow up airliners travelling between the UK and the US. Grant in Houston has already blogged about this today, but I just stumbled across a new element that is almost laughable in its idiotic bluntness. This item from Think Progress,
At a press briefing moments ago, Tony Snow claimed that last night’s Connecticut Senate primary gave voters the chance to answer the question, “Do you take the war on terror seriously?” Snow said that Connecticut voters who backed Ned Lamont (and the 57 percent of Americans who support his position on Iraq) were choosing to “ignore the difficulties and walk away.” That is the same approach, he said, that led Osama bin Laden to the conclusion “that Americans were weak and wouldn’t stay the course and that led to September 11th.”
Geez Louise, are these guys wetting themselves over Lamont's victory, or what? And just how long do the Republicans think they can keep playing the fear card before its corners become so dog-eared and tattered that it can no longer be shuffled back into the deck? Grant augmented his post in comments with this memorable line, "These guys act like none of us read 'Chicken Little' when we were little kids. I am getting too old for the games they keep throwing our way."

Games indeed. This kind of gamesmanship harkens back to the 1940 Presidential election. The Republicans, who then as now were happy to profit from war in spite of the misery, and who were dealing with both sides, had this as their isolationist campaign slogan, "A vote for Roosevelt is a vote for war." Then as now fearmongering was their strong suit. The Democrats shot back with a slogan of their own, "A vote for Wilkie is a vote for Hitler." The Dems still knew how to sit in on a high stakes game back then.

Well, the more things change the more things stay the same. One difference stands out though. In the upcoming midterm elections, the Democrats could well combine the two slogans, "A vote for BushCo™ is a vote for war. And for Hitler." Anybody ready to place a wager on the outcome?

Be afraid, it's election time again!

Blair is in trouble, Bush's war is in trouble, Lieberman could be a harbinger that many hawks may be in trouble, Israel, after 5000 air sorties and 30 days with little success moving into Lebanon, is in trouble. Rove needs a diversion for sure.

At least these problems above won't be on the news today!!! Soledad O'Brien says this terror alert is the "real deal"....that the number of "terrorists" arrested could reach 250!

Thursay Open Thread

It's Les Enragés eighth day in operation, and everybody's pretty giddy about the Lamont victory. We''ll have lots of opportunity to continue to chant, "Go, Ned, Go!" from now until his victory in November. The link is to a Counterpunch editorial on the significance of the win. "..the war in Iraq is hugely unpopular, and since that war was supported by about 90 per cent of the US congress, all its members have something to fear from the voters, which is why many of them are redeploying as advocates of withdrawal."

That's A quote, but it's not THE quote. For tonight, and keeping with the theme:

"I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Israel Expanding Ground Forces

Israel decided on Wednesday to expand its ground offensive in Lebanon, and Hizbollah's leader vowed to turn southern Lebanon into a graveyard for Israeli troops and to unleash more rockets on the city of Haifa.

FIVE THOUSAND IDF AIR FORCE SORTIES in a month haven't defeated a Hezbollah force of 3,000, so...

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's security cabinet authorized the move to send troops further, possibly to the Litani river (mmm...fresh water!), up to 20 km (13 miles) from the border. A senior political source said the expanded offensive could last 30 days.

Bush advocating Geneva Conventions "Lite"?

Political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel would not face prosecution for humiliating or degrading wartime prisoners under amendments to a war crimes law drafted by the Bush administration, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

But humiliations, degrading treatment and other acts specifically deemed as "outrages" by the international tribunal prosecuting war crimes in the former Yugoslavia -- such as placing prisoners in "inappropriate conditions of confinement," forcing them to urinate or defecate in their clothes, and merely threatening prisoners with "physical, mental, or sexual violence" -- would not be among the listed U.S. crimes, officials said.

"It's plain that this proposal would abrogate portions of Common Article 3," said Derek P. Jinks, a University of Texas assistant professor of law and author of a forthcoming book on the Geneva Conventions. The "entire family of techniques" that military interrogators used to deliberately degrade and humiliate, and thus coerce, detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at Abu Ghraib "is not addressed in any way, shape or form" in the new language authorizing prosecutions, he said.

Wednesday Open Thread

Link is to the Hartford Courant for those who just can't hear too often that Joe is outa here. Now for a quote, hmm, let me see...

Well, you might call me lazy for picking this well-known chestnut familiar to any schoolchild, but I read through quite a few quotes and this one was the most fitting:

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time." -- Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Calculating Joemomentum

With 14% of the precincts counted in Connecticut, Lamont has a good lead:

U.S. Senate - - Dem Primary
106 of 748 Precincts Reporting - 14.17%

Lamont, Ned
Lieberman, Joe Dem

Chinese Mideast Envoy Behind Arab Demands

By Andre Pachter
China Confidential
The mastermind behind the coordinated Arab demand for an immediate Israeli troop withdrawal from Lebanon is China's special envoy to the Middle East, Sun Bigan, who is currently visiting the region.

Sun, who is a veteran diplomat and one of China's leading Arabists, called Monday for an immediate unconditional ceasefire in the war between Israel and the Lebanese proxy army of Beijing's non-Arab Islamist ally, Iran.

"Israel and Lebanese Hezbollah should end hostilities immediately to avoid further deterioration of humanitarian crisis in Lebanon," Sun told a press conference in Damascus following a closed-door meeting with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Shara.

Sun expressed China's willingness to intensify "consultation and coordination" with Arab nations.

As China Confidential reported on Sunday, Beijing is maneuvering to become a trusted intermediary--and maybe even a mediator--in the Middle East conflict. Sun is advancing the argument that the United States has lost credibility and influence in the region as a result of its steadfast support for Israel, and that a more neutral power--such as China-- is urgently needed to help end the fighting and reduce regional tensions.

The real objective is to weaken the U.S. position--and ultimately drive the US from the region altogether.

Toward this end, China has been a major arms supplier to Hezbollah's sponsor. In the context of energy deals, Beijing has sold Iran tanks, planes, artillery, and cruise, anti-tank, surface-to-surface and anti-aircraft missiles. Chinese-designed missiles--including some that have been upgraded and improved by North Korea--have found their way into Hezbollah's arsenal of aerial terror.

China is also providing covert technical assistance to Iran's disputed nuclear development program--and supporting Iran diplomatically with a promise to block meaningful United Nations Security Council sanctions against the wannabe nuclear power.

Copyright Andre Pachter. Published with permission. Andre
Pachter's blog China Confidential may be read at:

Told you so. China taking the heat for Iran. Leaves Iran clean as the religious guidance for the enormous Muslim populations in both China and Russia. China will level Tel Aviv if Olmert attacks Beirut. CNN reporting that Olmert upping the stakes in this war. Stupid, stupid man.

Follow the instructions

Marty Kaplan Gives Instruction on How To Hack a Diebold Voting Machine.
This one escaped my attention when it was posted last week on Huffington Post. Thanks to Station Agent at Ice Station Tango, it got a second chance. Now you might think that this item being on HuffPo and IST would be enough, and frankly I don't like posting things that have been done to death elsewhere, especially if elsewhere has done a better job than I could ever hope to do. But if I had my way, this item would be posted on every liberal/progressive blog on the internet.

What issue could be more important in a democracy than voter's rights and fair elections? As Marty Kaplan shows step-by-step in this video, hacking a Diebold electronic voting machine is a lot easier than most computer technical tasks. Well, at least most tasks that require opening the machine. Easier than installing a sound card, say or upgrading the harddrive. More difficult than opening a can of soup, yes, but not so hard as baking a cake. And we're talking one of those Betty Crocker™ mixes here, not from scratch.

Rambling Thoughts

Aug. 8, 2006 -Hopefully the day that Ned Lamont kicks Joe LIE-berman out of politics for good. His entire career has been a false flag operation allowing the Republicans to have a senator in a state that would never knowingly vote for a Republican. His ouster will mark, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, 'not the beginning of the end, but perhaps the end of the beginning.' It should be one of our goals to wrest power away from the Republican party. That's a given. A secondary goal, no less important in the long run, should be to wrest power over the Democratic party away from the pseudo-Republicans. The American eagle will never fly again if it has two right wings. It's just not aerodynamically possible. Go, Ned, and join my favourite Democrat Russ Feingold in the caucus. Some of the bones that, put together, may form the liberal spine of the Democratic party someday soon.

Aug. 8, 2006 -The day Les Enragés becomes one week old (at 10:20 am). Remarkable. What we have accomplished in this one short week has been nothing short of astonishing. Over forty posts, at least a couple of thousand comments, and two scoops over, not only the mainstream media and news services, but apparently the rest of the English-speaking blogosphere too. I made a comment only a few days ago to the effect, "Abby Tatton and Jackie Schecter won't be talking about us on CNN anytime soon." I would like to publicly apologize here and now for my misplaced skepticism. Another significant thing about our reaching the ripe old age of 7 days is that blogflux will now allow us to add the cool mapstat function to the blog. That and a sitecounter are what's on my agenda for today.

Essay: A Storm Is Coming

A storm is coming

I can’t sleep tonight. I’m nervous, waiting and knowing a storm is on the way. Not the kind where the sky turns green and the animals get nervous, but the kind where my soul is restless and the hairs on the back of my neck are standing straight out. The storm is enveloping the world, and I fear it could send us back to the Dark Ages. We are entrenched in Iraq, slaughtering and being slaughtered. The Israelis and the Palestinians are murdering each other. Pakistan and India, mortal enemies, have nukes. Iran is threatening that oil will cost $200 a barrel if the UN imposes sanctions on their country. Fidel is sick and old, and surely if he dies, there will be a fight for power. Chavez is convinced the U.S. wants him dead, and history tells us he may be right. We have deposed democratically elected government officials through black ops for eons now. Millions of Americans have no health insurance and no job security. Greedy corporations raid pensions and workers are left with nothing to sustain them in their old age. Home foreclosures are skyrocketing and people are pawning their possessions to buy one tank of gas to get them to their job, which barely provides them with their basic necessities. We don’t trust our electoral system, convinced we will be Dieboled and disenfranchised. Our president is infantile, a dry drunk, spoiled, and surrounded by “yes” men (and that includes Condi). He has zero diplomatic skills and is an embarrassment and humiliation to all of us. He loves war, as long as he doesn’t have to actually fight it. Our Congress is corrupt beyond belief. Government-funded stem cell research is dead in the water. Global Warming is wrecking havoc on our beautiful Earth and we continue to pollute and refuse to conserve. Our media has become government propaganda. We are hated around the world, and our moral authority is gone, blown away like a dandelion in the breeze. There is no shelter anymore. The storm is coming. And I am afraid.