••can ye pass the acid test?••

ye who enter here be afraid, but do what ye must -- to defeat your fear ye must defy it.

& defeat it ye must, for only then can we begin to realize liberty & justice for all.

time bomb tick tock? nervous tic talk? war on war?

or just a blog crying in the wilderness, trying to make sense of it all, terror-fried by hate radio and FOX, the number of whose name is 666??? (coincidence?)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

WASHINGTON - House Democrats, responding to Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that his office is exempt from certain national security disclosure requirements, said Tuesday they will try to strip some of his funding.

4th branch authoritah

we may never know if daily show and colbert report writers pick material independently or coordinate work to get another slant on news they deem worthy.

either way, last night both noted vp cheney's assertion that he's not in the executive branch contradicts his past claim of executive privilege.

it's illogical for him to want his office viewed as legislative when the opposition has a majority, so both shows extended the idea into a fourth branch of government.

news media used to be called that. for about 25 years they've abdicated their responsibility to keep us informed, so it was inevitable that somebody would enter the vacuum, supplant their mission with its mirror image, and keep us uninformed, misinformed, &/or disinformed.

one satirist aptly morphed the branch into a club to beat down critics, but another sense of 'club' also applies, since cheney doesn't work alone.

he used his earlier stance to avoid revealing who his energy task force met with. the new position defends his disregard of mandated procedures for handling classified info.

of course, both have to do with secrecy and control, two hallmarks of bush-cheney sometimes said to be causally related—i.e., personal power depends on keeping secrets.

what's new is a subtle demand to respect the vp's supposed authority to do whatever he wants however he wants to do it.

condi rice used to say 'you can't have it both ways.' apparently dick cheney can. he's not just darth vader now. he's eric cartman too.

Overseeing the executive branch
Congress must strengthen the powers of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
By Thomas H Kean and Lee H Hamilton

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday accused former President Clinton of not responding forcefully enough to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing or later terrorist attacks.
Last September, Giuliani defended Clinton's record amid political bickering over which president—Clinton or George W Bush—missed more opportunities to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks.

US oil giants ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil Corp. both decided to leave the huge extra heavy oil projects after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez nationalized them as part of his socialist revolution.

"We want to see (Venezuela) meet their international commitments in terms of providing fair and just compensation in accordance with international standards, for any property that does come under government ownership," State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey told reporters at a briefing.

Venezuela Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez said earlier Tuesday the two companies had decided to quit the Orinoco projects but that they still had time to negotiate the terms of their exit from the Orinoco projects.
with this kind of accountability, no wonder they weren't ready for katrina...

listen, watch, or read:

Ex-EPA Head Christine Todd Whitman Denies Misleading Public Over Environmental Dangers After 9/11; Admits White House Removed EPA Call for NYC Apartments to be Professionally Cleaned of Dust

Nearly six years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Whitman appeared on Capitol Hill Monday for the first time to answer questions about the EPA's statements after the collapse of the World Trade Center. Since Whitman assured New Yorkers that the air was "safe to breathe," thousands of downtown residents and workers have become sick. [includes rush transcript]

With Thousands of New Yorkers Sick, NYC Residents and Workers Accuse Whitman and Bush Administration of Covering Up Dangers of Toxic Air After 9/11

On Monday, two busloads of Ground Zero workers and residents traveled to Washington to hear Christine Todd Whitman's testimony. We hear from two members of the group Beyond Ground Zero, environmental attorney Joel Kupferman and Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez, who attended Monday's hearing. [includes rush transcript]

Friday, June 22, 2007

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - An Army officer with a key role in the US military hearings at Guantanamo Bay says they relied on vague and incomplete intelligence and were pressured to declare detainees "enemy combatants," often without any specific evidence.
"...and justice for..."?

WASHINGTON - Congress has turned back the latest attempt to cut funding for an Army school that trains military officers from Latin America and has a tainted past.
let's face it, folks: even some dems in congress have an incomplete political education. they should watch (or listen to or read) democracy now!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

i've seen this guy on c-span (where you can see him saturday at 1 pm et) a number of times, and he really knows his stuff!
my interview of the ruler of the cosmos

first of all, you may be wondering why foa came to me, of all people.

['foa' is short for 'friend of all.' i could've called her/him/it 'rotc' ('ruler of the cosmos'), but that might get confusing, or 'motu' ('master of the universe') or combined the two into 'motc,' which i suppose would be pronounced like the hebrew for 'bread') but foa doesn't like to be thought of as a master—let alone 'god'—and 'friend of everything' would get even more confusing than 'rotc,' so 'foa' it is.]

i mean, i'm not religious at all. in fact, i'm not even a believer, in the usual sense of the word, tho of course i have beliefs.

well, the answer seems to be foa works in mysterious ways. i know that seems like a cop-out, but i have no other explanation. as to the choice of when to come to me, well, that's a bit of a mystery too, but foa gave me a partial reason, namely that i was about to think of asking. s/he had just turned the divine awareness toward humanity and immediately knew i was on the verge of that thought, so s/he didn't wait till i actually formulated the request, especially since i—as a nonbeliever—might never quite get around to it. there was more than that, but it's in the transcript of the interview. [i'm not sure i'm using the right word when i say 'interview.' foa has an inerrant tendency to anticipate questions, so basically all i did was take down answers. it wasn't the same as dictation, tho. the whole time, i felt like s/he was answering the questions i would have asked if s/he'd given me a chance. i have to admit it was more efficient that way.]

one more thing. i'm sure many of you must be wondering what foa looks like. i can only say the appearance kept changing. sometimes foa looked human, sometimes like some other animal, sometimes a plant or a mountain or a lightning bolt or a pillar of smoke. never anything artificial, tho. also, the human form was male sometimes, female at others, and occasionally somewhere in between. its race varied and was often indeterminate. and once in a while it had multiple heads or multiple arms or extra eyes. all those may be true forms, or none of them, or some. i'm inclined to think i never saw the true form, only illusions.

here's what i took down [rush transcript, unedited]:

FOA: MAN—. sorry, man. is this better? ok.

soon you will wonder why i never before directly gave humanity the message i'm about to deliver. so let me preface my remarks by reminding you that i'm pretty busy and have a lot on the mind. sure, i could do it all at once, but that has problems. look what happened when i destroyed the world. afterwards you became even more violent than before. my rainbow is not merely a token of my promise not to flood the whole earth again. it's a reminder to me. every time i see it, i recall that i need to give full attention to whatever i'm working on at the moment.

the reason i haven't spoken to humanity for so long—by your perception of time—is that i've been talking to ants. like you, they fight too many wars. every ant is as precious to me as any other of my creatures. i hate to see them kill each other, and i've told them so. but they don't listen.

now, you think ants have no free will and are entirely driven by instinct. it's true instinct is a major factor. it limits liberty, but it has limits too. if an ant comes upon two pieces of food of approximately equal size and attractiveness, instinct makes it want both, but it can carry only one, so it must choose. thus, free will, conditioned by necessity. it's a paradox, of course, but how could freedom be free of paradox? and it only makes sense. a normal, healthy creature first does what it must. only when necessity ends does freedom begin. any particular choice is either required by circumstances or not. when it's not, creatures have no choice but to choose freely. there i go again.

invoking me on money and in oaths is not necessary. you're free to do it, of course, but those of you who think it flatters me are wrong, for i know your motive to be fear. i show you no preference on its account. your nation's advantages come from chance and history, not my intervention nor my blessing. only be glad i forbear from holding you to a higher standard because of it, for you would not meet it.

war is sometimes necessary or, at least, unavoidable. more often, it can be avoided, but, too frequently, avoidable wars take place.

why don't i wave my wand, as it were, and stop it? my will, after all, is absolute and inviolable. whatever happens, you can be sure it doesn't oppose my will. you wish i would prevent evil. why don't i?

these are complex questions. i don't blame you for feeling puzzled or confused. the simple answer is that i have chosen to let events happen without my interference. that's my will. i have no desires. but i do care.

when i see you acting destructively, it brings tears to my eyes—figuratively speaking, of course. you think i enjoy watching you suffer? it rips my heart and claws at my conscience.

but i am determined to leave the choice to you. that's why the cosmos is governed by randomness and chance. that's why big bangs happen and stars explode and planets form and life evolves and flowers grow and giant hailstones crash thru roofs. it's why birth defects exist and why 99% of all animal species have gone extinct. and it's why leaders of tribes and nations, wanting to do right but fearing they will make mistakes that turn their supporters away, cravenly choose war when they could have chosen peace.

i could go on forever, but i'll give it to you in a nutshell. your planet has problems only you humans can solve. you have finite time and strength. you will run out of both if you keep distracting yourselves with violent conflict. the choice is yours. you can make war or make peace. end war or endless war. period.

and then i was alone, wondering if i'd imagined it all.

Defense Secretary Robert M Gates vowed today to improve mental health care for service members, focusing the Pentagon's attention on a system described as deficient in dealing with such issues as psychological trauma and severe brain injuries resulting from the war in Iraq.

but the first step toward sanity may be below...

The Bush administration is nearing a decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detainee facility and move the terror suspects there to military prisons elsewhere, The Associated Press has learned.

The Senate Judiciary Committee authorized its chairman on Thursday to issue subpoenas to the Justice Department and the Executive Office of the President for documents authorizing the administration's warrantless surveillance program.

wow! how much mental health can i stand?

Of more pressing importance to lawmakers, however, is that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, and Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, D-WI, have issued an edict cutting the amount of money devoted to earmarks in half. Obey denied all earmarks when passing a wrap-up spending bill earlier this year.

what? more?

Senators reached agreement Thursday on a proposal to increase automobile fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon, the first significant boost demanded of automakers in nearly 20 years.

enough! enough! all this sound mind stuff is driving me crazy!

Monday, June 18, 2007

now i get it!

bush's comprehensive solution!

of course! why didn't i see it sooner?

with immigration, terrorism, climate change, imported energy, exported jobs, trade deficit, abortion, stem cell research, gay marriage, gun control, crime, drugs, hunger, disease, and disaster all looming in the new millennium, the master of the universe came in a dream to his holyface, the popeprez of ave pa 1600, and said

behold! i set all this behind you. henceforth i give you domain over all living. you shall begin two small wars. flame will soon engulf all asia. then shall i send my messiah to end all suffering and establish my kingdom upon the earth forever.

it's sooo obvious!

Friday, June 15, 2007

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Federal marshals broke no laws when seizing tape recordings from reporters from The Associated Press and the Hattiesburg American during a 2004 speech by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, an initial agency investigation found.
Later that year, the Marshals Service acknowledged in a lawsuit settlement that it violated the federal Privacy Protection Act, which protects journalists from having their work product seized by the government.

Pentagon says more mental health funds needed

The military's mental health system fails to meet the needs of troops and is too short of funds and staff to help service members sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Friday.

30% of Cubans Overweight

HAVANA - Cubans are no strangers to the battle of the bulge. Waistlines have expanded since the economic crisis of the early 1990s eased on the communist-run island - so much so that 30 percent of adults are now overweight, a newly released government study reveals.

Hamas Gives Amnesty, Killings Persist

The two Palestinian territories, on either side of Israel, are now separate entities with two governments - one run by Hamas and backed by radical Islamic states, and the other controlled by the Western-supported Fatah.
the 3-state solution.... i think i heard that on tv. was it jon stewart?

Romney Woos Anti-Abortion Activists

"I know that it is not time but conviction that unites us," Romney said in remarks on the second day of the National Right to Life's annual convention.

"I proudly follow a long line of converts - George Herbert Walker Bush, Henry Hyde, and Ronald Reagan to name a few....

"My experience as governor taught me firsthand that the threat to our culture is real....

"When responsibility for life or ending life was placed in my hands, I made the right decision."
the only "conviction" this guy has is that winning elections keeps the power where he wants it.

FBI Investigated Ga. Gov in Old Lynching

Talmadge, who died just months after his 1946 election to a fourth term, dominated Georgia politics in the 1930s and 1940s with a mix of racism and pocketbook populism.
looks like his karma caught up to him before those too-slow wheels of justice...

Colombia to Recognize Rights of Gays

one step ahead of the pentagon...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Abbas dissolves Palestinian government
What's next?

GAZA CITY - A beleaguered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared a state of emergency and disbanded the Hamas-led unity government after the Islamic militant group vanquished its Fatah rivals and effectively took control of the Gaza Strip on Thursday.
how can this be happening?

why are these people smiling?

Key senators to revive immigration bill
Compromise sought

WASHINGTON - Senate leaders agreed Thursday night to revive stalled immigration legislation, capping a furious weeklong rescue attempt that drew President Bush's personal involvement. "The leaders have agreed on a way forward," said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV.
the problem is in making it comprehensive. better to deal with the 2 aspects separately: first plug the leak, then clean up the spill.

Curfew in Baghdad empties streets
Sunni mosques attacked

A citywide clampdown emptied Baghdad's streets of all vehicles Thursday in attempts to hold off what authorities dread: a storm of Shiite attacks in revenge for the bombing of one of their main shrines. The tactic appeared to keep a lid on widespread violence, but extremists fired shells into the city's protected Green Zone during a visit by the State Department's No. 2 official.

Marine accused of murder defends actions at Haditha

CAMP PENDLETON, CA - A Marine facing murder charges in a squad action that killed 24 Iraqi civilians told a military court Thursday that one of the men he shot was pointing a weapon at him and that no Iraqis were executed.
1 AK-47, 24 dead civilians. sounds reasonable. kill'em all & let god sort'em out....

Sen. Reid causes stir with criticism of US generals

WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid caused a stir Thursday when he said Gen. Peter Pace failed in his job of providing Congress a candid assessment on the Iraq war and that he was concerned Gen. David Petraeus might be guilty of the same.

showing some backbone gets predictable attacks. stand firm, harry!

Monday, June 11, 2007

must've missed this a few weeks ago, but thanks to dk, i finally got the link.

this is a real national security issue, folks, both because we lose valuable personnel as a result of phobic officials, and because anybody with something to hide is a potential target for foreign spies who use blackmail as a recruiting tool.
from yahoo:

Bush braces for trouble back in US
Domestic challenges
SOFIA, Bulgaria - President Bush braced for problems at home Monday with the cheers from his European trip still ringing in his ears.

He pledged to resurrect his derailed immigration bill in the Senate—"I'll see you at the bill signing," he declared—and dismissed Democrats' effort to hold a no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as a waste of time.

US general: Iran may be aiding both Afghan gov't, Taliban
KABUL, Afghanistan - Iran gives political and material support to President Hamid Karzai's Western-backed government, but it also may be aiding the Taliban as a way of hedging its bets in neighboring Afghanistan, NATO's top general here said Monday.

Court: US can't detain suspected combatant without charges
RICHMOND, Va. - The Bush administration cannot legally detain a US resident it suspects of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent without charging him, a divided federal appeals court ruled Monday.

now get this:

Al-Marri has been held in solitary confinement in the Navy brig in Charleston, SC, since June 2003. The Qatar native has been detained since his December 2001 arrest at his home in Peoria, IL, where he moved with his wife and five children a day before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to study for a master's degree at Bradley University.

some sleeper, eh?

Judge voids 10-year sentence in teen sex case
Wilson case
ATLANTA - A Georgia judge ordered the release Monday of a man sentenced to 10 years in prison for consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17, a sentence that had been widely criticized as grossly disproportionate to the crime.

Drinking water at North Carolina Marine base under scrutiny
ATLANTA - Thousands of Marines and their families went to serve their country at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune.

Instead, many wound up fighting it, blaming the government for failing to protect them from an enemy that invaded their lives in a most intimate way: through the water that quenched their thirst, cooked their food and filled their bathtubs every day.

from c-span:

· Senate Plans No-Confidence Vote on Gonzales Today
WASHINGTON - The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Monday he will vote for a no-confidence resolution against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

· Pres. Bush Calls Senate No-Confidence Resolution "Political"
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Monday he will vote for a no-confidence resolution against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, after long questioning the leadership and independence of President Bush's longtime friend.

· Federal Court Rules in Favor of Enemy Combatant Detainee
RICHMOND, Va. - The Bush administration cannot use new anti-terrorism laws to keep US residents locked up indefinitely without charging them, a divided federal appeals court said Monday.

· Supreme Court: Superfund Money Can Reimburse Voluntary Expenses
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court strengthened a landmark anti-pollution program Monday, enabling companies to recover costs when they voluntarily clean up hazardous material.

· Pres. Bush Calls for Release of Bulgarian Nurses Held in Libya
SOFIA (Reuters) - President George W Bush said on Monday it was a high priority for the United States to win the release of five Bulgarian nurses sentenced to death in Libya for infecting children with HIV.

· Army Fails to Meet Its Recruiting Goal in May
The Army failed to make its May recruiting goal, the first time since last September that it came up short, the Pentagon announced Monday. But despite growing domestic discontent over the direction of the war in Iraq, the Marine Corps signed up 560 more recruits last month than it had hoped to enlist.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

British police say they have found no evidence to support claims CIA planes transporting terrorism suspects to face possible torture in secret prisons in Europe landed illegally at British airports.
but here's what interests me:
Liberty questioned the timing of the police announcement, released on the same day a European investigator said he had proof Poland and Romania hosted secret CIA prisons.

"When politicians spin it is disappointing," said Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti.

"When police engage in the same activity it is rather more dangerous."

Swiss senator Dick Marty said on Friday top al Qaeda suspects were interrogated using methods akin to torture in Polish and Romanian prisons, in a report for the Council of Europe human rights watchdog.

He said US intelligence and other sources told him the two countries hosted the jails under a CIA program, created by President George W Bush's administration after 9/11, "to 'kill, capture and detain' terrorist suspects deemed of 'high value."'

In an earlier report last year Marty named Britain as one of a number of countries that provided refueling stopovers for flights involving the unlawful transfer of detainees.
note regarding poland: its president says he wants US interceptor missiles based there.

or should we call him the polish poodle?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Turkish border attacks into Iraq spark fears of wider conflict
Turkish forces shelled Kurdish rebel positions across the border in northern Iraq, Iraqi Kurd officials reported Friday, heightening fears that the fighting could flare into a larger conflict and draw in the US.
the sort of thing "nobody" could have predicted. ha!

Admiral tapped to be next Joint Chiefs chair
The Bush administration sidelined Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Friday, announcing plans to replace him as the nation's top military officer rather than reappoint him and risk a Senate confirmation struggle focusing on the Iraq War.
politics intrudes into the "nonpolitical."

For serious poets, the lines form here
it's for the money...

Bush wins Polish nod for missile defense
President Bush pressed his plan for a proposed European anti-missile defense on Friday with the president of Poland and won his strong support for installing interceptors on Polish soil.
looks like bush ain't putin's poodle no more!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

iraqi kurdistan mostly peaceful, but just across the border...

Putin Proposes Alternate Site for US Anti-Missile System

upper US, bush!?
read it & weep?

S. 1348: A bill to provide for comprehensive immigration reform and for other purposes

327 amendments & counting


i'm not up on the amendment process. most of the listed 327 give no details. is that because senators have reserved empty slots in case they decide later to file amendments? or have 327 amendments actually been proposed so far?
[you may have to click on this to see it]

what ought to be the last word on multiple-choice mitt...

...was written last january!

I'm grayer, I'm a little heavier, and I hope I've grown a bit wiser as well.... Of course, I was wrong on some issues back then. I'm not embarrassed to admit that. I think most of us learn with experience. I know I certainly have.
ah! or do we just get more hypocritical?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

fresh air:

«During the review, I registered concerns that a military 'surge' would likely have only temporary and localized effects unless it were accompanied by counterpart 'surges' by the Iraqi government and the other, nonmilitary agencies of the US government....»

«I also noted that our enemies in Iraq have, in effect, 'a vote' and should be expected to take specific steps to counter from our efforts....»

so the question remains:

does bush listen?

Romney Says US Image Has "Suffered" Under Bush

so what else is new?

then again, i guess die-hard bushies need to get told...


[btw, romney's reasons don't even include aggression, prisoner abuse, kangaroo courts, warrantless domestic spying, subversion of international law, &c, &c, &c.]

Monday, June 04, 2007

thanx dk, for this link on the executive branch's latest monkey wrench...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

party of fear

i look, but it's hard to see a gop issue not based on fear.
we've come a long way in 2300 years, haven't we, baby?

Examination by torture is one form of evidence, to which great weight is often attached because it is in a sense compulsory. Here again it is not hard to point out the available grounds for magnifying its value, if it happens to tell in our favor, and arguing that it is the only form of evidence that is infallible; or, on the other hand, for refuting it if it tells against us and for our opponent, when we may say what is true of torture of every kind alike, that people under its compulsion tell lies quite as often as they tell the truth, sometimes persistently refusing to tell the truth, sometimes recklessly making a false charge in order to be let off sooner. We ought to be able to quote cases, familiar to the judges, in which this sort of thing has actually happened. [We must say that evidence under torture is not trustworthy, the fact being that many men whether thick-witted, tough-skinned, or stout of heart endure their ordeal nobly, while cowards and timid men are full of boldness till they see the ordeal of these others; so that no trust can be placed in evidence under torture.]
Aristotle (384-322 BC), Rhetoric
(translated by W.Rhys Roberts)

emphasis mine.
robert kaufman, touting his new book in a talk at the heritage foundation telecast on c-span's book tv this weekend, mentioned einstein's definition of insanity: doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

but it was not a reference to george w bush. in fact, the book is entitled in defense of the bush doctrine.

talk about irony...!

Friday, June 01, 2007

dk's post on topic

this is hilarious. i won't bore you with a refutation. i'm sure you can come up with your own.
fill your tank with water!

A Purdue University engineer has developed a method that uses an aluminum alloy to extract hydrogen from water for running fuel cells or internal combustion engines, and the technique could be used to replace gasoline.

that's tap water, seawater, any ol' water, folks!

listen to jerry woodall on NPR science friday

If that continues, what it means is that you're not actually weakening them, but you're just allowing them to regenerate, and they are capable of doing so.... If the intensity continues...then it looks like a strategy that is ultimately futile.
—Michael O'Hanlon, a senior analyst at the Brookings Institution