Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hooray for Olbermann

You've probably heard by now that Keith Olbermann put the big smackdown on Rumsfeld yesterday for his dunderheaded remarks about confused dissenters who don't remember the lessons of Hitler. If you somehow missed it, the transcript is available here or you can watch the video.

Word has it the right wingnuts of the screechosphere will be flooding MSNBC with hate mail so a call has gone out to the reality based community to show some support for Olbermann's courage in stepping forward to challenge Rummy on his Ambien-addled rhetoric. Please take a moment to thank Keith and tell MSNBC that we want more of his kind of journalism. Send a short note to these addresses:

[hat tip Jules Siegel]
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Blog bytes

I was going to blog on the Presidential proclivity towards putrid humor but instead, I'm just going to link to Rory. Never before has flatulence been described so eloquently.

And mikevotes ask a good question.
In relation to this story on Bush's campaign travel, $166 million dollars for Republican candidates in 15 months, I find myself wondering if anyone's ever heard of him appearing even once at a Katrina fundraiser? Or maybe showing up to help raise funds for Iraq war widows and orphans? Or even a local policeor fire dept. somewhere for hazmat gear?
I don't recall his attendance at even one charitable function unrelated to filling the GOP coffers. Do you?
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Who are we fighting for?

Bush is always telling us that we'll leave Iraq when the Iraqis are ready to let us go. It looks like it's going to take a long time for us to stand down if we have to wait for this army to stand up and take care of itself. Some 100 Iraqi soldiers refused deployment to Baghdad earlier this week, on the premise they were needed more where they were. It appears Shia and Sunni soldiers don't want to serve outside their home provinces.

Meanwhile, the AP reported the Iranian government is training and equipping much of the Shiite insurgency in Iraq, according to the statement of US General last week. Excuse me, but I thought it was Sunnis, Baathists and AQ who were the insurgents. The Shia are in power and control of the govrnment. So shouldn't that read Iran training Iraqi government militia?
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Earmark update

Following up on this story, the latest rumor is the real Mr. Bridge to NoWhere, Ted Stevens (R-AK), put the anonymous hold on the porkbuster bill currently stalled in the Senate. How unsurprising. Smart money has been on him right along.

In a related development, Jay Rosen of the brainy journalism blog Press Think has a new citizen journalism project in the works. That's somehow related to a project that is tracking down the pork barrel earmarks at the receiving end. The first contributor unearthed a lobbyist connection to a large award made to a glaucoma foundation that smacks of payola. It looks like a good project for anyone with the time and inclination to do investigative work.
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Bushenomics - the rich get richer

The WaPo notes today that the three richest counties in America are in the DC suburbs, a fact attributed largely to the "enormous flow of federal money into the region through contracts for defense and homeland security work in the five years since 9/1... "

That stands in sharp contrast to the new Census Bureau report on the financial health of Americans. I guarantee the White House and the GOP will trumpet the stats that show median household income rose by 1.1 percent in 2005 and that the poverty level stayed the same.

However, this NYT editorial takes the analysis to the next level and gives us the numbers the White House doesn't want us to see.
But the entire increase [in median income] is attributable to the 23 million households headed by someone over age 65. So the gain is likely from investment income and Social Security, not wages and salaries.

In all, median income for the under-65 group was $2,000 lower in 2005 than in 2001, when the last recession bottomed out.

[T]he share of the population now in poverty — 12.6 percent — is still higher than at the trough of the last recession, when it was 11.7 percent. And among the poor, 43 percent were living below half the poverty line in 2005 — $7,800 for a family of three. That’s the highest percentage of people in “deep poverty” since the government started keeping track of those numbers in 1975.

As for the uninsured, their ranks grew in 2005 by 1.3 million people, to a record 46.6 million, or 15.9 percent.
The economy really is doing great. Plenty of wealth out there, especially for those who have their fingers in the military-industrial till. There's an old maxim -- you gotta have money to make money. It's never been more true. It's a great time to be a rich man in America.

But I find it hard to define an economy that leaves so much money in the hands of a few while 47 million Americans live in fear of becoming seriously ill without health insurance, and millions more are losing ground every day, as good. In fact, I find something inherently inhumane in the model and the outcomes. When productivity is up and real wages are down, it's clearly time for a redistribution of the wealth.
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More cattle, less hat

Maybe we can stop worrying just a little. First Bush lost the WalMart women. That's a heavy blow for the GOP. But now it seems, he's also lost the Beauty Parlor moms and that could be the death knell for GOP power for the foreseeable future.

The thought of living through two more years of Bush generates only "a deep fatigue with the direction of the country." More interestingly, although this sample group is almost unanimously disgusted with Bush, they still don't regret voting against Kerry. The vote they rue is in 2000. Gore has risen in their minds as a symbol of a time when politics and politicians was more than just partisan sniping and empty sloganeering. In other words, they now wish Bush had never been president.

This strikes me as a refreshing change. I think there's hope for us yet.
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Stormy anniversary

A year ago a storm called Katrina changed the Gulf Coast for the worse. Not much has changed in that time except billions of our tax dollars ended up in the pockets of White House crony contractors. I posted my take at Detroit News this morning since Blogger wasn't feeling like working today.

My thoughts on fake photo ops and why isn't this front page news? Brownie admits he lied at the time to protect the president's ass.

Update:Matt at has possibly the best post I've ever seen on the subject. The photos tell the story but read the text too. Heartbreaking stuff.
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Calling for accountability via the internets

What do you do when you're working on a government project that is severely and dangerously flawed and you can't get your superiors or your Congressmen or government ivestigators to listen to your whistleblower complaint?

Michael De Kort posted a YouTube video. That got their attention. Of course, he also lost his job but who wants to work for crooks and liars anyway?
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Monday, August 28, 2006

Desperate times for desperate people

Here's the problem with creating a country of people who are desperately impoverished. It apparently took less than 24 hours for the local Iraqis to loot an abandoned British army base. The Brits left and everything removable was taken, from floor planks to window frames to corrugated roofing. You don't have a job, your house is blown up and you need materials you can't afford. Who would expect anything different?
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Bushenomic boom a bust for working class

Here's this week's proof that the only beneficiaries of the Bush boom are the one percenters. The money quotes:
The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.” [...]

In 2004, the top 1 percent of earners — a group that includes many chief executives — received 11.2 percent of all wage income, up from 8.7 percent a decade earlier and less than 6 percent three decades ago, according to Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, economists who analyzed the tax data.
“The golden era of profitability...” Kind of reminds you of the gilded age of capitalism doesn't it? It's a good time to be a CEO or a mega-trust fund baby. For the rest of us working stiffs -- not so much.
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US supplied Iran with nuclear capability

How soon we forget. Here's something neither the White House nor the right wing screechosphere will tell you while they're busy making a case for an "October surprise" bombing raid to snare votes in November "neutralize" the alleged impending threat of a nuclear Iran. The only reason Iran even has a nuclear program is we gave them a reactor and ten pounds of weapons grade uranium in the 60s when they were our "allys" instead of the "axis of evil."

Judging from the article, they haven't made much progress in advancing the techology since then. Which is not to say they won't ever, but Jebus, even if they can make a bomb in the next two years, how many can make? One? Two? How many do we have? Hundreds? No offense to those who don't take this view, but you would have to be ill-informed or a coward to consider that a real threat.
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Ohioans hate Republicans

You know I'm not a big believer in polling but this strikes me as good news. It appears Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is tanking in the opinion polls in the Ohio governor's race. I can't think of a better outcome for Ohio, or for the nation, if that lying creep was drummed out of politics.
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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Don't like the news?

I've been on a brutal work rotation, so I haven't been following the Middle East this week, but this strikes me as disturbing. Taking a page from the US, if you don't like the message, shoot the messenger. Israel bombs destroyed a well marked Reuters truck. Look at that photo and tell me that was a mistake.
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Traveling White House?

I love this spin that Bush is not on vacation because he didn't spend the entire month of August hogging brush on the ranch. Do they think no one will notice that bascially he's spending a couple of extra nights in the White House between short trips to multiple locations in order to give the appearance of "working hard?" I mean, he's in Maine now at the family compound, obstensibly for a family wedding, but he's blowing off the family events in favor of taking over a national forest for a bike ride with a few select locals. Do they think no one will notice?

And not to forget last year's Katrina debacle, he will attend some kind of ceremonial remembrance for the victims later this week, but also on his agenda are several fundraisers. Which do you think he's really going for - honoring the lost souls, or raising dough for the party? You might ask one of the survivors, who are still barely surviving a year later. I bet they rebuilt the casinos by now though.
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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Aimless spin on Iraq death toll

This piece really pisses me off. The The Bush apologists are all over it, of course. Yeah, you have a greater chance of dying at home then you do while deployed in Iraq. We knew that. Technology is a wonderful thing. The enhanced equipment saves lives, but the study fails to address in any substantive manner, the injury rate.

The chance of of coming home damaged is 1 in 33. The down side of the technology that saves lives is that more guys are coming home in pieces, with multiple lost limbs and head traumas than in any other war. I have to wonder if that even counts the one third of the troops that come home with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, since the Pentagon is busy trying to discount it as a legitimate condition.

This article adds nothing to the discussion other than offering a weak excuse to support the senseless carnage in the Middle East. I mean, tell us something we don't know. The left is still right. This war in Iraq is a disaster not only for stability in the Middle East, but also for our troops.
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Friday, August 25, 2006

CIA agents needed - must be willing to issue dire warnings when needed at election time

The GOP are apparently so desperate to hang onto their seats that they're trying to bamboozle the voters into believing Iran presents a immediate threat to our safety. The obvious goal is to get public opinion behind yet another ill-advised, pre-emptive strke against yet another nation that isn't even close to presenting a credible danger, in time to save the election for them. Sadly, this repeat of the Iraq flim-flam, if carried to the level of a preemptive strike, would endanger much more so than some completley theorectical act of aggression by Iran in the dim future. The truly awful thing is, these politicians care so much more about their political future than our safety, they would further incite an already violatile situation in the Middle East, simply to justify an unneccessary act of aggression in an attempt to stay in power.

Iran is admittedly a problem but one that can surely wait for another two years, at which time we might have a president who is more likely to act on careful research and analysis instead of reacting to his "gut feelings." Certainly, it would be more prudent to deal with the powder keg of Iran by dampening it with diplomacy, rather than by throwing a match on it with a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, just how stupid does the GOP think we are? This latest call for "more dire" intelligence on Iran is a play by play repeat of the manipulation of the CIA's work in the run-up to Iraq. Do they think we forgot that every ethical intelligence agent quit or was run out while the White House built what we now know was their false case against Saddam? If the GOP are planning to make bombing Iran their October surprise, they may well find the surprise is on them. It's unlikely the voters will endorse the architects of yet another politically driven, unneccessary pre-emptive act of aggression that is certain to make the Middle East a bigger killing field and a larger terrorist training ground, at the ballot box.

A fool may be born every minute, but I have a feeling, that this time, the American people won't get fooled again.
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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Just ick!

Well this one hits close to home. Another illegal chop shop shut down for regulatory violations in selling body parts.. We're talking human body parts here, not cars.

Can you imagine the call from your doctor after transplant surgery? We regret to inform you the heart we just implanted in your body may be tainted....

That's the trouble with the world today. Everybody is out to make a quick buck and ethics be damned.
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Honesty is the best policy?

This one is going to making the email rounds I'm sure but it's the first I've seen it so I'm posting it for your morning amusement.

Dear Abby:

I am a crack dealer in New Jersey who has recently been diagnosed as a
carrier of the HIV virus. My parents live in a suburb of Philadelphia and
one of my sisters, who lives in Bensenville, is married to a transvestite.
My father and mother have recently been arrested for growing and selling
marijuana and are currently dependent on my other two sisterswho are
prostitutes in Jersey City. I have two brothers. One is currently serving a
non-parole life sentence in Attica for murder of a teenage boy in 1994. The
other brother is currently being held in the Wellington Remand Center on
charges of neglecting his three children.

I have recently become engaged to marry a former Thai prostitute who lives
in the Bronx and, indeed, is still a part-time "working girl" in a brothel.
Her time there is limited, however, as we hope to open our own brothel with
her as the working manager. I am hoping my two sisters would be interested
in joining our team. Although I would prefer them not to prostitute
themselves, it would get them off the street, and, hopefully, the heroin.

My problem is this: I love my fiancée and look forward to bringing her into
the family, and of course, I want to be totally honest with her.

Should I tell her about my cousin who voted for Bush?


Worried About My Reputation

How embarassing. What would you do? [hat tip JZ Souweine]
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Not all war photos are faked

Greg Mitchell at Editor and Publisher cuts to the chase on the bogus "fauxtography" frenzy going on in the right wing screechosphere. The Hot Air crowd is seeing phantoms in every photo but offer no actual proof that their hysterical claims are accurate. Mitchell deflates their gas bag rather adroitly. Here's a choice quote.
This broad condemnation, and the conspiracy theories, lodged against photographers in war zones -- who are risking their lives while bloggers risk nothing but carpal tunnel syndrome -- needs to be refuted.

Indeed, one American photographer in Lebanon, Bryan Denton, often cited by the blogs as backing their claims, has now apologized for his earlier "irresponsible" assertions at the Lightstalkers site, and stated flatly, "Any one out there who is trying to politicize that is just plain sick, and is moving this further away from the real issue at hand. There are hundreds of photographers working here now. Don't let a few bad apples take the attention away from what the REAL story is, because by the looks of the blogs, THAT is exactly what is happening." Don't expect to find those second thoughts on any of the blogs.
Let it be noted that the blogs in question are all from the screechosphere collective. The same people who have no problem with the White House doctoring their photos to make Bush look better.

Meanwhile, judging from the huffing and puffing going on among the Hot Air-heads, Mitchell is hitting a nerve. Can't wait for the part two of the column.
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Challenge the lies

The Left Coaster has some good advice to the Democrats. You gotta F, you gotta I, you gotta GHT. He suggests we just pound them with the truth and make them prove us wrong. Enough of backing down every time they deny their malfeasance and claim pursuing the issues will hurt the Dems at the ballot box.

Our job is to make the meme viral. Their illegal surveillance programs are being used to spy on political enemies, not just terrorists. If they even really bother with terrorists at all. It's not like they're catching any real ones. All they've done so far is arrest ordinary criminals and try to build a nexus to terrorism.
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He's on a Bridge to Nowhere

You gotta love this.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski, stung by accusations of arrogance and stubbornness, lost his bid for a second term Tuesday after polling last in a three-way GOP primary.

Sarah Palin, a former Wasilla mayor, won the Republican nomination for governor after capturing 51 percent of the vote. Former state legislator John Binkley came in second with 30 percent and Murkowski polled just 19 percent.

“We expected to win, we didn’t win, so we’ll support the nominee,” Murkowski said after arriving at election headquarters to concede.
So Mr. Bridge to Nowhere is at the end of the road on his political career. Couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy and I think this says something about the national digust with incumbents when a guy as connected as Murkowski can't even make a decent showing in a party primary.

I think it's going to be a very interesting election this year.
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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The trouble with incumbents

There's no love lost between Glenn Reynolds and me. He's been nothing but rude to me since the day I first emailed him. I haven't read him in months but I ran across this and I really have to give his Porkbuster's project a plug today. There's a bill afoot in the Senate that would eliminate anonymous earmarks. Ironically someone put a secret hold on the bill.

The Porkbuster burst is encouraging constituents to get their Senators on record denying that they were the one who put the hold on it. Obviously, the premise is to out the perp who's trying to kill the bill and let the good Senators know we care about it. It's a good project and judging from this response to an inquiry, it's hitting a nerve.

The piece reiterates the same point I've been making for months. Our legislators have forgotten who they work for. They are answerable to us. Some of these politicians have been haunting the hallowed chambers for so long, thay appear to believe they've become the ruling class and needn't bother with the people. And not just on the national level. Incumbents at the state level suffer from the same arrogance. It's really time to remind them who pays their salary.
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White House looks rudderless

Could there be any clearer proof this administration is failing? Good ole Joe publicly called for Rumsfeld's resignation. Did he make a deal for White House support or is Lieberman getting a little nervous about Bush stinking up his campaign as the "moderate's" voice? Personally I think he made a deal with Rove. They need a scapegoat and somebody has to dump on Rummy. Win-win for Karl. He starts the ball rolling to blame Rummy for the mess in Iraq and Joementum gets to pretend he's not just a White House toady.

But even more telling, Bush came out in favor of selling the Plan B contraceptive over the counter. I've seen surprisingly little about this. The fundies are of course outraged. The Dems aren't about to point out that Bush did something reasonable. I don't get the strategy for Bush on this one at all. He could have just kept his mouth shut.
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Kill the movement, not the players

This is the scariest thing I've read all day. Terence J. Daly is a retired military intelligence officer and counterinsurgency specialist who agrees with me that conventional military strategies won't win against an insurgency. He makes some great points in that you can't defeat them by killing insurgents but rather you have to undermine the movement itself.

But then he takes it a step beyond my comfort zone. Here's the chilling graf.
Stringent population control measures like curfews, random searches, mandatory presentation of identity documents, searches of businesses and residences without warrants and preventive detention would be standing operating procedure.
Now he does go on to say, "For such measures to be acceptable to the public, they must be based on solid legal ground and enforced fairly, transparently and impartially." However, I don't see how you can operate under the law with that strategy. And how long, in an administration that considers its political opponents tantamount to insurgents, before the White House might seek to use the same methods on Americans?
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Monday, August 21, 2006

Quote of the day

Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is
far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your Honor.
That awful power, the public opinion of a nation, is created in
America by a horde of ignorant, self-complacent simpletons who failed
at ditching and shoemaking and fetched up in journalism on their way
to the poorhouse: Mark Twain.

I love Twain.

[ht George L]
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Bush in Blunderland

You have to wonder if Rove and Cheney are throwing Bush under the bus. I mean, who is writing these lines? Or are they letting him ad-lib again?
"War is not a time of joy," [Bush] said. "These are challenging times, and they're difficult times, and they're straining the psyche of our country. I understand that. You know, nobody likes to see innocent people die. Nobody wants to turn on their TV on a daily basis and see havoc wrought by terrorists."
Right. Translation: It's not fun to be president anymore. My approval rating is tanking and I can't swagger around like the head rooster in the henhouse now that you people noticed bad shit is happening in Baghdad.
But Bush said he agreed with Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, that if "we leave before the mission is done, the terrorists will follow us here." A failed Iraq would provide a safe haven for terrorists and extremists and give them revenue from oil sales, Bush said.
Is he joking? Did he forget his August surprise so soon? According to the sky bomb theory, the terrorists are already following us home. Iraq is the nirvana of terrorism. How much safer could they be? I think they might be losing more people with suicide bombs than we're actually killing. And what oil revenue? Didn't I just read that Iraq is about to start importing oil? It simply boggles the mind.

On a brighter note, Bush, in a fit a pique, admitted Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. My take on that story is here.
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Sunday, August 20, 2006

What's a little payola among friends?

Duke Cunningham's wife lays it out for us.
This about sums up the culture of GOP corruption.
Nancy Cunningham told The New Republic magazine that she didn't question junkets financed by defense contractors because other senior congressional figures, including Speaker Dennis Hastert, joined in.

"How can it be illegal or unethical if the most important man in Congress is doing it?" she asked interviewer Kitty Kelley, the celebrity biographer.
Ya think Kitty is working on new book?
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Oh won't you please come home....

How much do you want to bet they'll just tell this kid all is forgiven, and then ship his ass straight back to Baghdad. That's really punishment enough.
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Quick hits

This is too funny. Via Simbaud, check out the latest enemy of our freedom.

The commentary is little hard to follow on this but the simulation rocks. What if a giant asteroid hit the earth?

Two from ReLoad. Awesome flash animation. And the wingnut edition of the NYT. (Note you have to roll your mouse over the page to see the edition)
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My president tried to kill me and all I got was this lousy tshirt....

Life moves in mysterious ways. I would have missed this but I made the mistake of clicking on trick poll about Annthrax Coulter at NewsMax and ended up on their news alert list. They of course, didn't source or credit this story since it came from NPR but it proves once and for all that Bush is not just crazy, he's fucking sadistic.
President Bush spent his afternoon not buried in Middle East diplomacy, but daring his staff at the ranch to join what he calls the "100-degree club." ...The president challenged White House employees to run three miles in the central Texas heat across the scrubby terrain on his property. (You think anyone dared to refuse?)

Those finishing the three miles (without dropping dead of heatstroke) got a T-shirt from the president. Mr. Bush did the course on his bike (his bad knees prevent him from running these days), but rode back to join the runners as they came in. I'm told the president was friendly and encouraging in the most fatherly way -- as he pedaled around the sweaty troops. According to the Weather Channel, the temperature on this patch of Texas was exactly 100 degrees when the run took place. The heat index was 102.
An anonymous bystander reports that the president was drooling and cackling madly, calling out his pet names for his minions, as he circled them like a vulture. (Okay I made that part up).
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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Think before you click

For instance, Email can be dangerous to your stealth. One wrong slip of the mouse and suddenly the whole world knows wearing that saran wrap dress didn't have the desired effect on the hubby's little willie.

[Unsurprisingly from Drudge]
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White House privatizes IRS collections

This is digusting. The short version: The White House has no problem with virtually dismantling the IRS department that goes after billionaire tax cheats but is now going to outsource the collection of small tax debts to a handful of their crony capitalists, at a sacrifice of billions in collectable debt.

My post on this at the Detroit News is here.

[Surprisingly via Drudge]
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Good leaks, bad leaks

For all the demonization of the NYT for leaking "damaging" information about White House malfaesance, Justin Rood at TPM points out all leaks are not equal. Noting an AP story on the liquid bomb plot, he discovers a huge leak buried at the end.
Two. . . U.S. counterterrorism officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation, said the British suspects placed calls to several cities in the United States before their arrests. At least some of the calls were placed to people in New York, Washington, Chicago and Detroit, one official said. The suspects are all British citizens, mostly men in the 20s and 30s of Pakistani descent.
Now, that appears to be remarkably specific intelligence leaked from within an ongoing terror investigation -- classified information that could not only reveal sources and methods, but also tip off possible suspects before the Feds got to them.

This "liquid terror" plot has been alleged to have been a serious and immediate threat. Yet almost a week has passed without any comment from the administration about this published account. No one's called the AP a bunch of traitors. No investigations have been launched. The White House has not condemned the leak or blamed it for possibly costing American lives.

So, why not?
Why not indeed? Could it be because this leak advances the White House agenda rather than exposing it's illegal activities? Just asking.
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Logical conclusions?

I'm seeing more of these parodies lately and I think it's a good tactic to use the wingnuts own language against them. This one from Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks is a good one and asks a timely question. Why not racially profile young white boys? As he points out:
Nearly every school shooting in America has been done by a young white boy. This is indisputable. Numbers don't lie. And these are the most dangerous criminals of all because they target our children!
Taking a page from the Malkin playbook, he suggests preemptive strikes on random counties in Kansas and forced internment. After all, it's for the children....
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Friday, August 18, 2006

Lieberman and Farrakhan

I'm immodestly going to tell you that I think my post at the Detroit News is rather clever. Go read how even dead fish rise to the top of the pond.
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Judicial branch gets it's groove back

Glenn Greenwald is the go to guy for the progressive take on Judge Taylor's NSA decision. He takes a more tempered view than the NYT and admits the ruling in weak in some places but he sums up why this decision, along with with Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, bodes well for the health of our system of government.
Thus, judicial decisions are starting to emerge which come close to branding the conduct of Bush officials as criminal. FISA is a criminal law. The administration has been violating that law on purpose, with no good excuse. Government officials who violate the criminal law deserve to be -- and are required to be -- held accountable just like any other citizens who violate the law. That is a basic, and critically important, principle in our system of government. These are not abstract legalistic questions being decided. They amount to rulings that our highest government officials have been systematically breaking the law -- criminal laws -- in numerous ways. And no country which lives under the rule of law can allow that to happen with impunity.
Since the Congress has failed dismally in upholding their end of checks and balances on executive power run amok, it's heartening to see the judiciary taking their role seriously, no matter how it ultimately turns out as these matters wend their way through the long process of appeals. Be sure to also read Glenn's initial analysis and the roundup of right wing blogs' personal smears on the honorable judge. As always, when they can't defend the illegal acts of the president, they resort to their long time tactic of attacking the messenger.
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GOP losing swing voters

First the Walmart voters bailed. Now the "security moms" are jumping ship. I don't know whether to be relieved or concerned. I love that the formerly bamboozled demographic groups are finally waking up to reality but I worry it will only make the Democrats complacent. They're less likely to fight on issues if they think a generic "we're not Republicans" platform will sweep them into office.
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Judge Taylor draws right wing's fire

The right wingers are giving Judge Taylor's decision on NSA surveillance an "F" but the NYT gives her high marks for a courageous and timely ruling today. Meanwhile the swiftboating of Taylor has already begun with accusations of collusion with the far left against this "anti-American activist judge" arising from the legions of the raging right screechosphere. This is, of course, is just their usual code for how dare you disagree with "our" president.

The high profile Bush bloggers find damning evidence of bias in Taylor's appointment by Jimmy Carter. An odd contrast to their defense of GOP appointed judges who rule in ways they find acceptable. Those judges of course are never ideologues, they're always only "strict constitutionalists."

I have my doubts the ruling will survive an appeal in the much more administration friendly Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals but my hat's off to the Judge for a courageous ruling that she had to know would expose her to the full force of the rightwingnuts vitriol. As the Time notes, no matter what the ultimate outcome, it's good that this decision is now on the books.
But for now, with a careful, thoroughly grounded opinion, one judge in Michigan has done what 535 members of Congress have so abysmally failed to do. She has reasserted the rule of law over a lawless administration and shown why issues of this kind belong within the constitutional process created more than two centuries ago to handle them.
Indeed, this is how our government is supposed to work. The Congress should keep that in mind before they rush to usurp the system of checks and balances so carefully crafted at the birth of our nation by making legal this illegal conduct our Founders so wisely prohibited. That would really be anti-American.
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

TSA forbids forced cleavage

Now you can't bring your wonderbra on the airplane. Why does the TSA have against women? No toothpaste, no shampoo, no mascara and no "enhancing" bras? What's next? No women with breast implants will be allowed to fly? And what about breast cancer victims who use prostheses?

Do you get the feeling some abstinence only zealot is sitting around HQ making up these rules to combat casual sex?
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Due process 1 - Illegal surveillance 0

Thank you to the Hon. U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor who today ruled NSA wiretapping unconstitutional. You ma'am are a true patriot and a courageous woman.

Too bad she couldn't strike the datamining as well but I'll take what I can get. One tiny step back from fascism.

Her opinion, via Fox News so who knows if it's accurate directly from the court's site [hat tip Great White Snark], is here.

My Detroit News post is here.
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Vaya con Dios Mike

Mike Ruppert of From The Wilderness says goodbye. He's not coming back and he places the blame for the destruction of his offices directly on the US government.

Not to worry though. He hasn't given up the fight. He's just taken it international.

Addendum: When this story initially broke, I looked around for independent confirmation and the only mention I found was in a Vheadline newsbrief that I posted here. Now I don't often source from Vheadline because their archiving system sucks and this brief didn't have a link, so I cut and pasted it directly from the site.

Yesterday, I got a nasty comment from this rude pissant who apparently works for the site and also has own webpage. He put up my post, along with his absurd allegation that I made the quote up, but doesn't bother to post my reply. And he accuses me of violating the tenets of "authentic journalism?" Not to mention he didn't bother to answer my email either.

Maybe the guy could spend more time installing a working permalink system instead of fondling his young co-worker and harassing hard working bloggers.
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British terror bust a bad joke

Not to flog the bogus "terror in the sky" bust to death but this is a fascinating read on just how unfeasible the plot to cook up a bomb on board a plane really is. Apparently it's not as easy as Bush and Blair would have you to believe. In fact it's damn complicated and unlikely to work except by mistake.

Which is not to say airlines passengers are not in danger from on board bombs. The money grafs are at the end.

It's a pity that our security rests in the hands of government officials who understand as little about terrorism as the Florida clowns who needed their informant to suggest attack scenarios, as the 21/7 London bombers who injured no one, as lunatic "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, as the Forest Gate nerve gas attackers who had no nerve gas, as the British nitwits who tried to acquire "red mercury," and as the recent binary liquid bomb attackers who had no binary liquid bombs.

For some real terror, picture twenty guys who understand op-sec, who are patient, realistic, clever, and willing to die, and who know what can be accomplished with a modest stash of dimethylmercury.

You won't hear about those fellows until it's too late. Our official protectors and deciders trumpet the fools they catch because they haven't got a handle on the people we should really be afraid of. They make policy based on foibles and follies, and Hollywood plots.
Personally, I'd rather not know how easy that would be. I have enough to worry about with Bush remaining in office for another two years, plying his mad policies and causing mayhem on the ground.

[hat tip Jules Siegel]
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Be sceptical. Be very, very sceptical.

I'm off to work for a few hours, so just a quick link to the must read of the day. Craig Murray, Britain's former Ambassador to Uzbekistan calls bullshit on the "foiled terror plot" to blow up commercial airliners. A few choice quotes:
None of the alleged terrorists had made a bomb. None had bought a plane ticket. Many did not even have passports, which given the efficiency of the UK Passport Agency would mean they couldn't be a plane bomber for quite some time. [...]

What is more, many of those arrested had been under surveillance for over a year - like thousands of other British Muslims. And not just Muslims. Like me. Nothing from that surveillance had indicated the need for early arrests. [...]

In all of this, the one thing of which I am certain is that the timing is deeply political. This is more propaganda than plot. Of the over one thousand British Muslims arrested under anti-terrorist legislation, only twelve per cent are ever charged with anything. That is simply harrassment of Muslims on an appalling scale. Of those charged, 80% are acquitted. Most of the very few - just over two per cent of arrests - who are convicted, are not convicted of anything to do terrorism, but of some minor offence the Police happened upon while trawling through the wreck of the lives they had shattered.
Read it all. Murray validates my intial response to the arrests. It was all just so much politics and every time they make these bogus busts, it just makes the real problem worse.

[hat tip Jules Siegel]
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Unions and the Union Jack

I rarely read MSNBC news except for what they feature on the home page but I opened the menu by mistake and discovered a couple of interesting items.

Unions are putting aside their differences to focus on their common interests at the ballot box. I just read another post about unions a few days ago that I didn't blog. It may have been a guest post at Buzz Flash, I just can't remember, but the basic premise was that unions traditionally have exercised their political clout on behalf of the working class and progressives should be doing more to support them.

I agree with that in principle but I've found in practice, at least in the last decade or so, they have largely served as arms of the politcal machine and have lost touch with their roots as much as the Democrats have. I wasn't unhappy to see the AFL-CIO split and the Change to Win formed. I think it's good that their numbers are strong to enough to challenge each other. I see it as split between ideologists and the current "win at all costs" strategists. I think a little debate and some compromise among the two factions could strengthen the labor movement's clout.

And Ron Reagan had a good post on how the White House has been using the latest foiled terror plot to make political hay. Read it, it's short, but here's the choice cut.
There are many lessons to be learned from the recent events in Britain. That the Bush Administration, the Republicans in Congress, neo-con pundits and even Joe Lieberman have been proven right all along isn’t one of them.

I think he's right. The fear factor is about to backfire on them.
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Will 06 reflect the will of the people?

We have the votes, but will they count? It looks unlikely if this Salon piece is any indication of what to expect. It should be called, How to Suppress the Democratic Vote in Six Easy Lessons. Unfortunately, with the Democratics making noise but taking so little action so late in the game, the GOP will probably get away with it. However, as discouraging as it is, it's still worth sitting through the ad to read in full.
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We can't get fooled again...

As we struggle to make sense of the chaos spreading through the Middle East, the NYT reminds us [w]hile Lebanon is now trying to pick up the pieces, Iraq is falling apart at an accelerating pace. The terrible carnage suffered in Lebanon still pales in comparison to the thousands of innocent civilians who die in Iraq every month.

The so-called unity government that our troops are dying to uphold there is being enforced by officially sanctioned militias that more accurately resemble Hezbollah than any government security force and makes a mockery of any notion that the Iraqi people are living under a democracy with equitable rule of law. And even as the White House seeks to distance itself from its long standing slogan of "stay the course" and reframe it as "adapt and win," its failing strategy nonetheless remains the same.

One clear fact emerges out of the confusion. The world cannot afford to allow the Bush administration to continue to ply its ill-advised fantastical policies that negate desirable tactical outcomes in the international arena in favor of political considerations at home. And it's up to reality-based Americans to stop them at the ballot box in November by restoring the balance of power on Capitol Hill.
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Time to kick Lieberman out of the party

I don't know how it could be any clearer that Lieberman has sold out to the White House, which makes this item at The Hill especially irritating. Take this statement for example.
If he continues to alienate his colleagues, Lieberman could be stripped of his seniority within the Democratic caucus should he defeat Democrat Ned Lamont in the general election this November, according to some senior Democratic aides.
Could be stripped? The Dems should have risen as a body and immediately disowned him as soon as he started spouting rhetoric straight out of the Rove playbook, such as suggesting Lamont and the voters that gave him the nomination, much less the majority of Americans who want the troops pulled from Iraq, are terrorist sympathizers, or at least enablers.

I mean, a guy who is so obviously courting the Republican vote and has come out and said the Democratic Party is out of touch with the mainstream, should no longer even be recognized as a Democrat. Particularly since, if he's not stripped of his seniority and the Dems win control of the Senate, Lieberman would be chair of the committee charged with holding the White House accountable for its transgressions. Do we really want a guy who Rove and Bush are supporting over their own party candidate in that position?

The Democrats are going to lose if they keep this up. Who is going to believe they can exercise oversight over the White House if they can't even stand up to the miscreants within their own tent? And as Digby points out, the Independent voters will be key in the next elections and they want candidates who will hold the administration's feet to the fire.

Via Avedon, who has much more to say on The Hill piece.
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What asshole said "Stay the course?"

Well this is the must view video of the day. Jon Stewart discovers the GOP has a new slogan for Iraq.

Meanwhile, those soldiers that finally got to go home after spending extended tours in Iraq? Nevermind -- Rummy was only kidding.
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Airport security - dumb and dumber

It's get down on public stupidity day at The Impolitic. I have to ask why 75% of the public supports the almost useless banning of carry on toothpaste on airplanes when tons of uninspected cargo is loaded into the bellies of the same damn planes they're about to board? A situation allowed to continue unabated because the airline and cargo industries are afraid it will interfere with business as usual. Not to mention the total lack of adequate screening of airport employees.

Inside airport security has been breached time and time again in tests undertaken by experts. Why do people acquiesce to feel-good measures at the gate that don't solve the problem instead of demanding better procedures that do?
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Unreality and the right

Here's something you won't see everyday. George Will agrees with John Kerry.
Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement (the British draw upon useful experience combating IRA terrorism) has validated John Kerry's belief (as paraphrased by the New York Times Magazine of Oct. 10, 2004) that "many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror." In a candidates' debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be "occasionally military," it is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world."
Too bad he didn't figure that out while Kerry was running in 04. But at least it seems the conservative intelligensia are "getting" it now. You can't bomb terrorism away. If only the goose-stepping Bush supporters could see past their blind hatred and chest thumping militarism to get to the same reality, we might stand a chance on actually winning against the terrorists.
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Monday, August 14, 2006

Journalism is dead

Get out the barf bag before you read Glenn's post. The Sean Hannity stuff is sickening enough but guess who was chosen among all the possible pundits and various professional interviewers to get the interview with John Bolton?

Get the bag ready. Pam "Look at ME, ME, ME, I have Great Tits" Atlas -- the PJ Media's answer to how to disguise soft porn as political analysis. If you think I'm being harsh or catty, check out any of her vlogs and then get back to me. She's been talking dirty about Bolton for months now. Would it be bitchy of me to make the logical leap in thinking that she made good on her implied promises to get the interview? Because that's what I'm thinking.

On some level I find it amusing. After all, this is the best of the rightwingers who rates a first class interview? The last vlog I managed to sit through looked like a tryout for MTV and sounded a death knell for serious journalism. How embarassing for the women on that side of the fence who are trying to offer actual thinking analysis instead of music videos.
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Why does Chuck Roberts hate journalism?

In a recent episode of the the former newscast, turned state's media quasi-reality show, CNN Headline News anchor Chuck Roberts, speaking of the recent Connecticut Senate Democratic primary won by Ned Lamont, asked: "Might some argue, as some have, that Lamont is the Al Qaeda candidate?"

Which some might that be Chuck? The voices in your head, or Karl Rove's under assistant White House promo man? I don't believe we saw any footage of anyone actually saying that except you.

I never thought I'd live to see the day when a news anchor invented partisan talking points out of thin air. Media Matters has a few choice words for the station bigwigs. I might suggest we all take that contact information and follow suit. It's an insult to the profession of journalism. And not a word from his peers in disgust at such an appalling breach of journalistic ethics. Disgraceful all around.
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Good vibrations?

Well I'm still working today but this was definitely the headline of the week. Awkward Moments Abound in Penis Pump Trial. I'm sure most of you remember the judge who was busted for using the pump while he was presiding in the courtroom. I guess the testimony is a bit graphic.

I always wondered how he got caught. You think he started moaning when he hit orgasm or did the sound of the pump give him away? [ via Leslie's Omnibus]

UPDATE:Ask and ye shall find that Kvatch has the answer.
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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Worth a thousand words

This is an old photo I think, but it doesn't it just sum up the last, almost six years now? Forget the emperor has no clothes, our president is clueless. Everything is just a photo op for the purposes of political advantage.

[hat tip Catfish]
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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Odd lots

I have to get up so early tomorrow that I'm going to go up and spend the night on the hill so I'm not going to post here again tonight. I had to give the posts I did so far to Detroit News because I want them to get the wider dissemination. If you want to know what I'm thinking about tonight, check out Does Bush want to win or lose the war on terror? They're trying to cut the money for liquid bomb technology while this whole terror plot is unfolding. They keep accusing us of being a pre 9/11 mindset. Well they're so stuck on 9/11 the point that they can't plan for future threats.

I also have a good link about the perps in this latest terror bust. Turns out two of them are white kids who converted to Islam. And by the way, this report says they haven't actually found any explosives. So far it looks like a bunch of kids who were all talk and no action.

And in case you missed it, the Senate appropriations committee cut funding for brain trauma research, only the biggest cause of injury to the soldiers fighting this stupid war. The spokesman cites regrettable priorities. Right, like funding futuristic war planes and battleships that have no use in today's asymetric warfare.

These people could not be any more clueless. Who the hell put them in charge?
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Sirotta v. Coulter

I haven't had a chance to watch this yet but it looks amusing. Davis Sirotta at HuffPo posts a link to his "debate" with Annthrax on MSNBC.
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Under reported stories

I'm working for the next four days but I have a couple of posts worth reading at the Detroit News on some items that slipped through the radar relatively unnoticed lately.

Injured soldiers are the new collateral damage in war on terror budgeting. The quote from the Senate spokesperson is enough to make you spit in disgust.

This one was way under the radar. Bush and Cheney pressure Alaska legislature to take a tax deal on oil companies that a third world country would sneer at and would reap billions in breaks for the oilmen.

And I have some remarks for the rightwingnuts who want to paint the Connecticut primary as a death knell for Democrats. I tell them why Lieberman's loss is America's gain.
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Timeless quote

Via Buzzflash, comes a quote that should serve us well right through November. The Buzz is right in suggesting this should be part of every speech and every commercial the Democrats run from now until then.
"Never has so much military and economic and diplomatic power been used so ineffectively, and if after all of this time, and all of this sacrifice, and all of this support, there is still no end in sight, then I say the time has come for the American people to turn to new leadership not tied to the mistakes and policies of the past."

Richard Nixon

How cool is it to use the GOP's own words against them?
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Friday, August 11, 2006

Time for a ceasefire

Regular readers know I've been horrified by the carnage in Israel and Lebanon and am just torn up over how my position affects on my Jewish friendships, so I was especially glad to just receive this from a friend who is as Jewish as they come.
Over the last 4 days, 200,000 people from 148 countries
have signed the ceasefire petition. At this rate, we could soon be the
largest global online petition in history.

The pressure is working. The global outcry over this crisis has pushed the Ambassadors to the UN Security Council to work around the clock to achieve an immediate ceasefire.

The latest word is that the Council may be close to a final vote today or tomorrow, but we've been this close before and negotiations have fallen apart. We need more pressure now to close the deal.
Sign the petition here and please pass it on. Time is of the essence.
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In the Red Zone - war is hell

If you didn't click the links at Agitprop's post that I talked about below, I want to point you to this eyewitness account from the ground in Baghdad in Time magazine. It's a long piece but worth reading in full.

After reading it myself all I can say is, I'll believe what the White House is saying about Iraq when I see Rummy and Condi strolling arm in arm down the streets in the Red Zone.
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Thursday, August 10, 2006

No goat shall be undiapered...

Putting aside the horror du jour for a moment, I've been meaning to link to Agitprop's post on the current "freedom" the locals in Iraq are enjoying under the thumb of the newly empowered Shia clerics. You should read the whole post, including the links, to get the full impact but here's a choice quote.
Shepherds are being killed when they don't diaper their goats (clerics think people will be turned on otherwise) - apparently this sort of punishment happens regularly in Nazaria, a suburb of western Baghdad. Are you a grocer who arranges your vegetables in a way that some mullah might find suggestive? You get the death penalty too, or at least your store will be firebombed. Shiite clerics wrote up a flyer telling you how to display your food and, if you don't obey, it's two in the hat!
Now I know there are people who find food sexually stimulating, but how different is this sort of theocratic enforcement from the Taliban? For this we spent billions of dollars and ten of thousands of lives?
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August surprise in the skies

I posted at the Detroit News about today's planned disruption of the international airline system. My first take wasn't well received. I picked up some bizarre criticism on that post including one person who called me a racist for allegedly implying that Pakistanis aren't good enough to be drafted by the AQ.

I followed up with this one tonight. Somehow I don't think they'll like it any better. All I have to add at the moment is the timing of the bust is bloody convenient. Nobody will be talking much about how the results of the primaries and try to stop all those inconvenient domestic spying programs like NSA now. Not to mention, the White House is pushing to make their war crimes retroactively legal. Quite a coincidence.

It stinks of Rovian tactics to me.
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Summertime blues

Sorry I disappeared yesterday. I came home late with a blinding headache and went straight to bed. Haven't been able to shake it all day today either and it's been another long one, but I found out I don't have to work tomorrow so I'm going to go check my email and I should be back with something of vague interest in a while.

Oh good. Blogger is down for maintainence. Guess I'll only be back if they go back up.
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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore

The armchair pundits are all putting in their two cents on Lieberman's loss, with reactions ranging from giddy glee from those who believen the "far left" have hijacked the party and that it will hurt the Dems in November, to more thoughtful analysis of the wider issues. The NYT pretty much sums up my immediate reaction. The salient points being:
The primary upset was not, however, a rebellion against the bipartisanship and centrism that Mr. Lieberman said he represented in the Senate. Instead, Connecticut Democrats were reacting to the way those concepts have been perverted by the Bush White House. [...]

The rebellion against Mr. Lieberman was actually an uprising by that rare phenomenon, irate moderates. They are the voters who have been unnerved over the last few years as the country has seemed to be galloping in a deeply unmoderate direction. A war that began at the president’s choosing has degenerated into a desperate, bloody mess that has turned much of the world against the United States. The administration’s contempt for international agreements, Congressional prerogatives and the authority of the courts has undermined the rule of law abroad and at home.

Yet while all this has been happening, the political discussion in Washington has become a captive of the Bush agenda. Traditional beliefs like every person’s right to a day in court, or the conviction that America should not start wars it does not know how to win, wind up being portrayed as extreme. The middle becomes a place where senators struggle to get the president to volunteer to obey the law when the mood strikes him. Attempting to regain the real center becomes a radical alternative.
Both parties should take a lesson from yesterday's results. The White House and the GOP can thump their chests and decry the Democrats' failure to embrace their phoney version of bipartisanism, which basically means we'll propose the policy and you agree or we'll frame you as being confrontational and anti-American. But the propaganda has worn so thin that all but the blindest partisans can see through it. The people are simply disgusted with politics as usual.

Incumbents across the country were ousted in yesterday's primary and it's not just about the war. Americans of both parties are sick and tired of professional politicians whose only interest is in placating their corporate donors and maintaining their party's power. What happened yesterday is just the beginning of the empowerment of the electorate and both parties will find that no incumbent with a dismal record of representing working American's interests will have a cake walk to re-election. You can't get more bipartisan than that.
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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

War is Hell

They could be talking about Iraq.
Back home in California, Henry published an account of the slaughter and held a news conference to air his allegations. Yet he and other Vietnam veterans who spoke out about war crimes were branded traitors and fabricators. No one was ever prosecuted for the massacre.

Now, nearly 40 years later, declassified Army files show that Henry was telling the truth -- about the Feb. 8 killings and a series of other atrocities by the men of B Company.
But the article is about Vietnam. The truth always comes out, but sometimes it takes a really long time to get here. Twenty years from now, maybe we'll get the truth about what this administration really did. I'm pretty sure it's bigger than we can imagine.
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Coulter caught lying -- again

I didn't get on the plagarism thing with Anthrax Annie for a number of reasons, but this pretty much proves Coulter is not only lazy, she's a liar. Media Matters picks apart the endless pages of footnotes that allegedly prove her points and discovered she willfully misrepresented her sources, omitted contrary information within the sources, used hopelessly outdated work and outright made up shit.

So, if you love her books -- fine -- I hear she's amusing to some, but remember you're reading works of fiction, not an objective thesis.
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Turning swords into ploughshares

The carnage inflicted by Hezbollah and Israel on each other has almost reached the one month mark. While the White House dances around diplomacy, tacitly endorsing the violence by its inaction, horrified observers around the world call for a truce. Granted, as the NYT points out, it won't be easy.
Troops must also be lined up for the international security force. The idea is to draw them from NATO countries like France, Italy and Turkey, along with perhaps Australia. None of these countries want to send soldiers if either Israel or Hezbollah is going to keep shooting. Therefore the political settlement has to be packaged so that both sides can claim some sort of victory.
Therein lies the problem. The combat has ceased to be about defense or aggression. It rests on perceptions. Both sides want to be seen as the
"winners." But all the posturing about victory is for politicians. The civilians on both sides of the border, who daily lose their homes, their loved ones and their peace of mind, are the real losers. As the Times points out,
This ugly war has already killed about 700 Lebanese and more than 90 Israelis. Close to one out of every four people in Lebanon have been routed from their homes. With the human price of combat so high, this settlement must be built to last.
One might suggest that the first step is for both sides to simply declare victory, agree to a ceasefire and start thinking about the populations they are allegedly protecting. Putting down their weapons and picking up hammers to begin repairing the damage done by this ill-advised fight would show some true concern about the well being of their peoples.
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Monday, August 07, 2006

NY1 Silences Debate

Since I'm on the topic of voting tonight, I meant to post FAIR's piece on the NY Senate race. This is what's wrong with the way we elect our candidates.
There is a heated debate among Democrats about the direction of the party, with centrist party stalwarts facing challenges from the left on issues like the Iraq War. But New York City voters will have a more difficult time seeing this debate play out, as New York City cable news channel NY1 (which is owned by Time Warner) has blocked the anti-war Democratic challenger Jonathan Tasini from a primary race debate against incumbent Sen. Hillary Clinton.

In a statement (Village Voice, 8/2/06), the channel said it had "established criteria to identify which candidates would be invited to participate" in the debates: poll at least 5 percent and have spent and/or raised $500,000.

In a recent Marist poll (7/19/06), Tasini stood at 13 percent, but his campaign has only raised $150,000.
Candidates should not have to be required to spend a certain amount of money in order to be allowed air time in public debates. Tasini is a viable contender and the voters lose when they're a denied a chance to hear an alternate view. It's time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.

In the meantime you can call or email the station and express your outrage at their criteria:

Robert Hardt
NY1, Director of Politics
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Palast on verified voting

You know I'm a big proponent of paper ballots but Greg Palast in an op-ed at BuzzFlash reminds me that they're no panacea for fraud. As evidenced by the brouhaha going on in Mexico right now, any system is vulnerable to manipulation and he notes an holistic approach is necessary to cure the problem.
And just as in Mexico, the "null" vote, the trashed, spoiled, rejected ballots, overrode the voters' choice, so it was north of the Rio Grande in 2000 and 2004. Ballot spoilage, not computer manipulation, stole Ohio and Florida in those elections -- and will steal Colorado and New Mexico in the 2008 election.

In other words, my fellow gringo activists, we'd better stop fixating on laptop legerdemain and pledge our lives and fortunes to stopping the games played with registration rolls, provisional ballots, absentee ballots, voter ID demands and the less glamorous, yet horribly effective, methods used to suppress, invalidate and otherwise ambush the vote.
And isn't that just what we're seeing here right now? If we're going to take back the country, there's no more vital issue than restoring a verifiable vote.
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Democrats get no coverage on White House crime expose

Steve Benen posting at Crooks and Liars issues a timely reminder. We often complain that the Democrats aren't standing up enough to the White House, but it's good to remember that when they do, they're virtually ignored. Only one outlet, CNN, covered the Democrats' on the House Judiciary Committee report detailing over two dozen violations of law. They gave it exactly 200 words. Barely a blip on the radar. Although to be fair, I'm sure I saw a short piece buried in the WaPo about it as well.

Still, as Benen asks, "...if Dems accuse the administration of criminal activity, and it’s widely ignored, does it really make a sound?"
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Ney says nay to reelection run

The Impolitic predicted months ago that Ney was history and he just took himself out of the race for "the sake of his family." Don't they all say that? More likely the reason is his prospects for reelection looked dim and his donations dried up. But not to worry his future prospects.
"I have some options in the nongovernment sector," he said.
All GOP crooks get cushy corporate jobs when they get caught. He'll probably become a lobbyist as soon as the time restrictions allow it.
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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Moral delinquency

No equivocating in this piece on crackpot Christians. Walter C. Uhler lays the blame for the moral decay of our nation right at their feet. Here's the money grafs.
These Crackpot Christians are largely responsible for placing one of their own, George W. Bush, in the White House. Their astounding ignorance, unquestioning faith, war hawkishness, and fascination with the End of Time subsequently rendered them gullible to the Bush administration's lies and exaggerations about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (especially the apocalyptic "mushroom clouds") and ties to al Qaeda. Thus, they cannot escape responsibility for supporting an illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq.

Judging by recent polls, Crackpot Christians continue to provide the residual support that prevents the total collapse of the worst presidency in American history. Their insouciance toward the ever worsening daily horrors in Iraq - so vividly reported by Jeffrey Gettleman in the August 2006 issue of GQ -- is daily testimony to their moral degeneracy. And, by their refusal to repent and improve, Crackpot Christians become responsible for the precipitous collapse of U.S. moral authority now occurring around the world.
What's ironic about the crackpot crowd is for all their embracing of the Rapture, if it turns out they're right and there is a Judgment Day, they won't be raptured, they'll be reviled and cast out of the kingdom of heaven for their un-Christian conduct. And they'll have to watch the liberals march through the pearly gates.
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Short hops

Good work if you get it. You gotta love how these politicians nickel and dime the electorate to death but have no compuncton about over-paying themselves with our money.

I believe Agitprop has discovered the missing link between the knuckle draggers and actual human beings. Or at least the ultimate rebuttal to intelligent design.

Heretik is tracking the Padilla case and he has all the links worth reading. This is probably the most frightening and least understood case on Bush's docket. I'm afraid the general public won't realize how important due process is to our way of life, until it's lost.

Mad Kane has the perfect theme song for Joe Lieberman's Tomorrow Tour. Oddly it's not based on Yesterday, which would have been a more fitting name for the tour I think.
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Another one bites the dust....

I hate when this happens and for some reason I can't leave a comment at Freedom Sight. I understand completely how you can burnout on bad news, but I'm still sad Jed I taking a hiatus. I'll miss him. I'm hoping it's a false alarm.

Meanwhile, check out his last post. Lot of links worth following there.
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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Odd lot

How bad is it that I'm getting my local news via Avedon? The governor of North Carolina signed, an Innocence Commission into being, that provides for a panel to review wrongful convictions. Sometimes I like this state.

And this is pix of the day, although I've heard they actually, rather quietly, went back to the traditional name for the item.
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Every picture tells a story, don't it....

A sad truth. This guy will get all the attention with his unsubstantiated claims that the Hezbollah guy changed his shirt for some nefarious purpose. He claims to have "expert" confirmation in his comment section.

This guy debunks the whole story easily with higher quality images. His post won't get the same attention, so the first guy's whole, ridiculous, made up theory will become urban legend, sort of the like the false claim that Gore claimed to invent the internet, and the truth will become dust in the stampede of those who will pass on the false information as fact, because it fits their own agendas.
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A Jew's view on neocons

It's like when you have a tooth pulled and you can't stop sticking your tongue in the empty space. Hard as I try, I can't stop reading about Israel and Lebanon. Fortunately, David Levy in Haaretz is more comfortable prose for one who worries about the wider and long range implications of this conflict. Here's a couple of key grafs.
Disentangling Israeli interests from the rubble of neocon "creative destruction" in the Middle East has become an urgent challenge for Israeli policy-makers. An America that seeks to reshape the region through an unsophisticated mixture of bombs and ballots, devoid of local contextual understanding, alliance-building or redressing of grievances, ultimately undermines both itself and Israel. The sight this week of Secretary of State Rice homeward bound, unable to touch down in any Arab capital, should have a sobering effect in Washington and Jerusalem.

Afghanistan is yet to be secured, Iraq is an exporter of instability and perhaps terror, too, Iranian hard-liners have been strengthened and encouraged, while the public throughout the region is ever-more radicalized, and in the yet-to-be "transformed" regimes of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, is certainly more hostile to Israel and America than its leaders. Neither listening nor talking to important, if problematic, actors in the region has only impoverished policy-making capacity. [...]

Beyond that, Israel and its friends in the United States should seriously reconsider their alliances not only with the neocons, but also with the Christian Right. The largest "pro-Israel" lobby day during this crisis was mobilized by Pastor John Hagee and his Christians United For Israel, a believer in Armageddon with all its implications for a rather particular end to the Jewish story. This is just asking to become the mother of all dumb, self-defeating and morally abhorrent alliances.
Read it all. It's not that long and it's the only thing that has made sense to me in all this senseless carnage.
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Friday, August 04, 2006

Are the Democrats finding their groove?

This gives me a glimmer of hope for the Democratic Party. Could that sound be the cracking of vertebrae as the Dems finally found the backbone to call the Republican's bluff on the "two bucks for the poor, millions for the rich" minimum wage bill?

The GOP of course is spewing their usual bluster about how the Dems will live to regret blocking the bill. Meanwhile, the Democrats, finally recognizing the mood of the electorate, vow to push for the minimum wage again, but without the giveaways for the wealthy. Kind of takes the sting out of the wall vote yesterday -- a little.
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The sound of no hands clapping - Rumsfeld unhinged

I'm astounded at how delusional Rumsfeld has become. The NYT offers a few more quotes from his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday.
“If we left Iraq prematurely,” he said, “the enemy would tell us to leave Afghanistan and then withdraw from the Middle East. And if we left the Middle East, they’d order us and all those who don’t share their militant ideology to leave what they call the occupied Muslim lands from Spain to the Philippines.” And finally, he intoned, America will be forced “to make a stand nearer home.”
The Generals, as you've no doubt heard, didn't get on board with the Rummy line this time.
They had to acknowledge that a militia controls Basra, that powerful Iraqi government officials run armed bands that the Pentagon considers terrorist organizations financed by Iran, and that about a third of the Iraqi police force can’t be trusted to fight on the right side.
Not that deters Rumdumb from pressing on with his narrative.
As for Mr. Rumsfeld, he suggested that lawmakers just leave everything up to him and the military command and stop talking about leaving Iraq. “We should consider how our words can be used by our deadly enemy,” he said.
Right. Ssshhh!! Don't talk about it and maybe nobody will notice that our "deadly enemies" reside within the new government we're propping up in Iraq.
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Thursday, August 03, 2006

What a Rumskull...

I don't know about you but with the state of the world what it is, I really needed a laugh today, and this is funny.

Washington, DC (Rotters) - Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld yesterday agreed to appear before a senate hearing on the war in Iraq after being assaulted by a thirty pound Dictionary lobbed by a pool reporter whose name was withheld by pentagon security. Rumsfeld had been engaging in one of his tried and true choreographed rhetorical question sessions over the growing civil war in Iraq when the reporter apparently snapped, throwing the dictionary at the Secretary. Rumsfeld's glasses were broken in the spontaneous assault, but he quickly produced a pair of sunglasses and continued. [...]
Just click the link. It made me laugh.

[hat tip Evelyn W]
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Thank a soldier today

I know a lot of you didn't participate in the card drive for the Fourth of July. I understand it's not easy to get it together to buy and write them out and then get to the post office, however, via Mom is Nutz - Freebie Friday, I found a simple and fast way to thank a soldier with a free card.

You pick the card from a selection of drawings done by children, click on the greeting you want to leave inside, (there's a wide choice of sentiments), sign your name and click. A printed card will be sent to a deployed soldier. So no excuses, especially those of you who support the war, click over right now and send one. And if you like free stuff, click Mom's link for a long list of other free items you can order by internet.
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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Was 9/11 a government scam?

Did our government lie to us about 9/11? The WaPo throws some fuel on the fire with an article today on the problems the 9/11 commission had with the official narrative. It's rather damning stuff.
Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon's initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public rather than a reflection of the fog of events on that day, according to sources involved in the debate.

Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, according to several commission sources. Staff members and some commissioners thought that e-mails and other evidence provided enough probable cause to believe that military and aviation officials violated the law by making false statements to Congress and to the commission, hoping to hide the bungled response to the hijackings, these sources said.
In the end, the panel punted, and referred the matter to Inspector Generals at the Defense and Transportation departments, rather than taking it to the Justice Dept. But after fighting to obtain the NORAD tapes, it became clear the Pentagon lied to them. Now the question is reduced to whether they deliberately lied for two solid years or whether this was just the result of incomptency.
John F. Lehman, a Republican commission member and former Navy secretary, said in a recent interview that he believed the panel may have been lied to but that he did not believe the evidence was sufficient to support a criminal referral.

"My view of that was that whether it was willful or just the fog of stupid bureaucracy, I don't know," Lehman said. "But in the order of magnitude of things, going after bureaucrats because they misled the commission didn't seem to make sense to me."
It didn't make sense to hold the government responsible for misleading us? You'll notice he was the Republican on the panel and of course back then, Bush was enjoying high approval ratings so who was going to push it?

I've had my doubts about the official version of events on 9/11 practically from the beginning and since then the conspiracy theories have bloomed like dandelions in the spring. I've read most of the evidence they proffered and the questions they raise have not been answered. Why did Building 7 go down when two closer buildings didn't. Why did the collapse of the buildings so perfectly mirror controlled demolitions? Why didn't they recover the black boxes from the planes yet miraculously found the passport of one of the hijackers intact on the ground? Why wasn't there the customary plane debris at the crash sites? Why was the hole in the Pentagon inconsistent with being struck by an airplane? Where are the bodies from the plane that went down in the open field? Why weren't the planes intercepted by our Air Force?

My guess is the questions will never be answered but I have little doubt that this could have been the result of a black-ops mission designed to give the PNAC crowd their "Pearl Harbor moment," especially since the same thugs that brought us Iran-Contra were in charge of the chicken coop again. But we'll never know for sure.

Meanwhile, mikevotes has an interesting discussion on the subject going in the comments at his post and some additional links. Check it out and decide for yourself. My take is we've been had.
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Blog stops

Via Radley Balko, this candidate has my endorsement for Governor of Alaska. Beats the heck out of the incumbent.

Kvatch has the picture worth a thousand words on the switch located just inside the Diebold machines that would allow anyone to easily flip it and switch over to alternate software to run the program. Could they have made these machines any easier to corrupt? I don't think so.

The Heretik is on the job and catches this latest assault on the nation's children. Florida has just effectively criminalized critical thinking and plans to dictate the history curricula taught in the public schools.

I just can't talk or think about Lebanon anymore. It's shattering me. I'm just going to try pleading with my higher power for an end to the madness in all the Middle East for a while and link to thehim at ReLoad who pretty much sums up my current thinking on the matter.

Finally, Stone Soup has got the scoop on Kid Rock who will be marrying Pamela Anderson several times in the next few weeks. Apparently they need a few trial runs before the actual legal type nuptials. Maybe so Pam gets plenty of practice so she doesn't forget her one line?

What is the attraction with her anyway? (Looks at photo of wedding attire at link). Oh right, never mind..... I think I know.
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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Air raids promote terrorism

I hate being put in a position of criticizing Isreal but this is what worries me about their ill-advised aerial assault on Lebanon.
TEHRAN, July 31 — The Israeli onslaught in Lebanon and Hezbollah’s daily victories in the regional public relations war over the conflict threaten to claim a victim in Iran: whatever hope remained of resurrecting the political reform movement. [...]

There are pockets of people who say they want to go to Lebanon and fight for the Islamic cause, and as the fighting spreads, their enthusiasm has grown. The war in Lebanon has also fueled a growing anti-American sentiment, which barely existed on the streets of Tehran before.
The problem in Lebanon, (and Iraq and to some extent Afghanistan at this point), is that our militaries are being commanded by old men who don't understand how to fight a guerilla war. It's interesting to me that so few seem to notice the mightiest armies in the world haven't been able to take out a few thousand zealots, even with ridiculously greater troop numbers and far superior weaponry.

The frightening thing is all these extremist groups have to do is survive to fight another day in order to be considering winning and everything "the West" has done so far in attempting to destroy them, has only made them stronger. That's a great outcome for the war profiteers. For the rest of us, not so much.
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White House tactics riding in Joe's Tomorrow Tour

My DD has a hilarious recounting of a recent Lieberman "rally" in New Haven. At least it would be funny if it wasn't for the disturbing trend it reveals about the new proclivity for suppressing political dissent. When the local police refuse a private citizen the right to drive on a public road because they don't approve of the contents of a vehicle, in this case a largish effigy of Bush kissing Lieberman, and futher attempt to have the vehicle removed from the scene even when it's parked on private property, that's a cause for concern. And when a politician's support team attempts to prevent opposing views from being heard or seen by its candidate and presuably the press, that's a clear sign that our democracy is in trouble.

If this is Joe Lieberman's vision of tomorrow, then give me back yesterday, cause the future isn't looking so bright.
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Hang on Castro, Castro hang on...

The world waits to hear the outcome of Fidel Castro's surgery. One can almost hear the slavering in the White House as they contemplate how to fulfil their long sought after agenda. President Bush had this to say on Monday, shortly before the official word came out on the transfer of power.
"If Fidel Castro were to move on because of natural causes, we've got a plan in place to help the people of Cuba understand there's a better way than the system in which they've been living under," he told WAQI-AM Radio Mambi, a Spanish-language radio station. "No one knows when Fidel Castro will move on. In my judgment, that's the work of the Almighty."
God help us all if Fidel goes while Bush is still in office.
Three weeks ago, a U.S. presidential commission called for an $80 million program to bolster non-governmental groups in Cuba for the purpose of hastening an end to the country's communist system.

It is official U.S. policy to "undermine" Cuba's planned succession to Raul Castro. At the time the commission report was released, Bush said, "We are actively working for change in Cuba, not simply waiting for change."
Don't get me wrong. I'm no fan of Castro and I know from direct testimony that Cuba's grand experiment in socialism is a failure for the legions of poor Cubans who don't enjoy the government's favor. Nonetheless, if it appears Fidel is not going to make it, I'd urge his doctors to remember Generalissimo Francisco Franco and spare the Cuban people from being "liberated" by this administration.
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