Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Piglipstick is where it's at for the time being.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

US Could Face Catastrophic Military Defeat In Iraq

What does a failing empire do when it faces collapse? Why, start another war of course. Webster Tarpley discusses the very real threat of our entire 150,000 + army in Iraq being annihilated if Codpiece makes the wrong move.

"Amateurs talk strategy; professionals talk logistics." -- Gen. Omar BradleyWashington, DC, December 16, 2005 -- The flawed assessment offered by the Baker-Hamilton report neglects a crucial aspect of the political-military situation of the US and other foreign armed forces in Iraq: the danger that the US army of occupation might be cut off, encircled, and annihilated as a fighting force over the next few months. This flaw in turn makes it easier for Baker-Hamilton to reject a priori the one rational response to the current reality, which is the extrication of US forces before it is too late. We do not need a new way forward in Iraq; we require a speedy way out of Iraq.

The real argument concerning Iraq has nothing to do with victory; the issue is now avoiding catastrophic military defeat for the US, in a form far worse than the Baker-Hamilton group has chosen to imagine. The looming specter is the worst of military cataclysms ­ a battle of annihilation on the model of the Romans at Cannae, L. Crassus at Carrhae, or of von Paulus at Stalingrad."

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Time's Person Of The Year - The Copout

Time magazine ran a poll for a while leading up to it's announcement of Person Of The Year. I was interested in this poll because the two leading personalities according to those who voted were Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with 35% and 21% respectively. So who did Time magazine choose as POTY? You.

Yeah, they decided to get funky as they sometimes do and choose a concept rather than a person. Their decision says a lot about how bloated, self referential and full of themselves they are. And I suspect the real reason that they didn't select one of the two leading choices that they offered was that it wouldn't look good for the fascists if Time's POTY was assasinated.

Samantha Bee Foxifies Al-Jazeera

They clearly needed a lesson to reach an american audience.

Friday, December 15, 2006

From Pocket Change to Bullion

New rules outlaw melting pennies, nickels for profit.

"WASHINGTON — People who melt pennies or nickels to profit from the jump in metals prices could face jail time and pay thousands of dollars in fines, according to new rules out Thursday.
Soaring metals prices mean that the value of the metal in pennies and nickels exceeds the face value of the coins. Based on current metals prices, the value of the metal in a nickel is now 6.99 cents, while the penny's metal is worth 1.12 cents, according to the U.S. Mint.
That has piqued concern among government officials that people will melt the coins to sell the metal, leading to potential shortages of pennies and nickels."

I wonder if it's illegal to do this now:

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Reisistance is Feral

Over at Counterpunch Jason Hribal gives an overview of captive animal intransigence:

"The acts of resistance that often attract the most attention are violent forms. Arms are bitten off. Flesh is torn. Bones are crushed. Humans are killed. The most famous recent event occurred in 2002 in Las Vegas during a Siegfried and Roy show. Montecore, a 6 year veteran of stage, refused to lie down during a routine, and, when his trainer bristled, the white tiger clamped down on his arm. After being repeatedly hit on the head with a microphone, Montecore then grabbed him by the neck. His trainer would survive but only barely. Others have not been so lucky."

It doesn't take much to figure out why this happens. When I was growing up in the New York area I'd go to the Bronx Zoo on occasion. This was back in the 50s and 60s so the confinements were victorian and crude. The animals were plainly suffering in their cramped and spare captivity and would exhibit all kinds of mental and physical pathology. Some were very thin or fat, there were bald spots and sores, some seemed to be in a constant state of torpor or would act out their anguish with repeated movements over and over again because they went crazy. Lots of anti social and violent behavior. It was sickening.

"The most common forms of resistance, however, are those particularly unspectacular in their methods. Cheetahs who refuse to do anything. Tigers who ignore commands. Elephants who fake ignorance. Orcas who rebuff new tasks. Gorillas who break equipment. Chimpanzees who throw their shit ("scatological humor," as zoo officials call it) at visitors. One researcher marveled at how skillful the monkeys at the Los Angeles Zoo were at hitting visitors with "clods of earth" from great distances. Then there was Stuffie, the first chimp ever produced from artificial insemination. Shot to death in 1987 while attempting to escape, she was infamous at the Toledo Zoo for holding milk in her mouth for hours on end: waiting patiently until her trainers came close enough so that she could spit it out in their faces."

Even in the modern zoo environments that tout their progressive attitudes toward captivity the animals still get bored, lonely, restricted and are deprived of any control of their lives. In the acclaimed Oregon Coast Aquarium the otters repeat the same behavior back and forth for hours on end. These places are far better than the small dirty cells from fifty years ago. But it's still an unnatural existence. A lot of these parks and zoos pretend they're all about protection of species and education, but when it comes to money they're more concerned with propagation and entertainment. If the money grows tight it's spent on cosmetic improvements rather than on animal welfare, to draw in the paying customers.

I don't even want to talk about circuses.

It's easy to anthropomorphize confined animals and their response to a degraded existence. It seems like it's a natural tendency for authoritarian societies to confine and imprison, just like it's the natural response of free thinking people to demand a freer environment. It's no wonder the US has over 2.2 million people behind bars giving us the distinction of having the highest per capita incarceration in the world. The fascists will always automatically default to a prison mentality when faced with opposition. Thus our expeditionary forces in Iraq have dredged up the "strategic hamlet" program. Hence the new era of "free speech zones". Consequently we see the government awarding $400,000,000 to Halliburton to build concentration camps.

If we willingly decide to accept this fate, I wonder what animal behavior our response will resemble - the big cat who sleeps on the cold concrete for 20 hours a day that only gets up to eat what's thrown to him, or the monkeys who throw something of their own back the other way?

Thursday, December 14, 2006


I'm a cinephile. I like to watch movies. My tastes are eclectic but I try to prescreen selections to pick ones that appeal to me because of a general consensus that they're good, or there are certain actors involved, or they have certain style. Mrs. Contendere and I rent them and watch at home; I haven't been in a movie theater in twenty years. There are so many on DVD now that sometimes it takes awhile to get around to some titles.

As it was for Transamerica which I watched last night. So much has been said about Felicity Huffman's performance that I'll just jump on the bandwagon and say that it's as good as it gets. Gender bending stories are common enough but it takes real acting chops to pull off a triple role - a woman playing a man turning into a woman. In this one it's done with deft poignancy as a vehicle to get to the heart of the matter - two people together on a physical and inner road trip of self discovery. It could have been easy to trivialize this topic and stumble with self parody, but never does.

A League of Ordinary Gentlemen is a good documentary about some Microsoft retirees who bought the ailing Professional Bowlers Association and their efforts to revitalize the sport. As with all good documentaries there isn't narration, the camera seems invisible as it follows the pro bowlers and it follows the tried and true buildup to a championship event. It starts off with a bang with great old footage and graphics but falters a bit while the principles are fleshed out. If they had stayed with the format used during the first fifteen minutes it would have been a real treat, otherwise it's a just a solid documentary that the hidden bowler in us will appreciate.

One of my goals is to catch every oscar winner from when the awards first were given out. Double Indemnity won a bunch, including best picture, in 1944. It takes a certain mindset to appreciate a sixty year old movie as something more than a curiosity, after all our society has changed so much. But I think if a flick concentrates on universal understanding, those timeless archtypes, then everybody can resonate with it's story regardless of it's age. This one is tight Billy Wilder film noire with Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson all caught up in murder for an insurance scam. Every great film starts with casting and this team is perfect. It was cutting edge material back in production code days and the tension gets so thick you could slice it up with Wilder's sharp dialogue.

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Best Two Out Of Three?

Tom Engelhardt reminds us of a prior Iraq war, one that was fought in a virtual universe back in July of 2002. The US military decided to drop a cool $1/4 billion on a war game with an unnamed middle east country, meaning Iraq, and things didn't start to turn out too well for the yankees:

"At the cost of a quarter-billion dollars, the Pentagon launched the most elaborate war games in its history, immodestly entitled "Millennium Challenge 02." These involved all four services in "17 simulation locations and nine live-force training sites." Officially a war against a fictional country in the Persian Gulf region -- but obviously Iraq -- it was specifically scripted to prove the efficacy of the Rumsfeld-style invasion that the Bush administration had already decided to launch.
Lt. Gen. Van Riper commanded the "Red Team" -- the Iraqis of this simulation -– against the "Blue Team," U.S. forces; and, unfortunately for Rumsfeld, he promptly stepped out of the script. Knowing that sometimes the only effective response to high-tech warfare was the lowest tech warfare imaginable, he employed some of the very techniques the Iraqi insurgency would begin to use all-too-successfully a year or two later.

In other words like the inventive misfits at a war game in the movie "The Dirty Dozen", the red team was fluid and innovative and used their strengths against the enemy's weaknesses with devastating results.

Such simple devices as, according to the Army Times, using "motorcycle messengers to transmit orders, negating Blue's high-tech eavesdropping capabilities," and "issuing attack orders via the morning call to prayer broadcast from the minarets of his country's mosques." In the process, Van Riper trumped the techies.
"At one point in the game," as
Fred Kaplan of Slate wrote in March 2003, "when Blue's fleet entered the Persian Gulf, he sank some of the ships with suicide-bombers in speed boats. (At that point, the managers stopped the game, ‘refloated' the Blue fleet, and resumed play.)" After three or four days, with the Blue Team in obvious disarray, the game was halted and the rules rescripted. In a quiet protest, Van Riper stepped down as enemy commander."

So there is one out of two reasons why america is flushing itself down the toilet with it's bloody shitheap in the middle east - the military is as dangerously incompetent and stupid as it's commander in chief, or war game outcome or no, the situation over there was planned to turn out this way.

I believe the latter. There's such a laundry list of conscious steps to get to this unholy hell that I can't even begin to list them all. I believe it was deliberate policy to destroy Iraq and to dangerously destabalize the entire region. Why else would you have the most elaborate war gaming in military history and not learn from or give a shit about the outcome?
And then stroll right into the real thing?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Same, Only More So

I suspect the weighty decisions are all made well in advance among the heavy hitters at the top, barring some unexpected crisis. Sockpuppet will then get his marching orders to be the front man in the well oiled propaganda effort to make the rubes think we have a government that functions like we're told in history class. That acts with wise deliberation for the good of the people and all that. It's all about perception.

We've travelled so far into bizarro world that the Baker group's tepid findings and suggestions about Iraq are touted as a stinging rebuke to Codpiece and his bloody shitheap. It's nothing of the kind. First of all the bandaid brigade is made up of water carriers for the fascists like former congressmen and cabinet members who helped implement the disastrous invasion and occupation in the first place. It's a who's who of wheeler dealers. Their final presentation is like the army's "hurry up and wait" attitude. Frank Rich of the NYT says:

"The group's coulda-woulda recommendations are either nonstarters, equivocations (it endorses withdrawal of combat troops by 2008 but is averse to timelines) or contradictions of its own findings of fact."

Adding to it's irrelevance is the claim that the sole reason for Baker and the boys to do what they did is to appease the Saudis, who desperately want the US to stay and watch over the Sunni minority. After all, Baker and other members are involved with law firms representing the Saudis. Makes you wonder what their first priorities are.

The perceptual charade continued with Von Rumsfeld's ouster and having Iran Contra gangster Robert Gates breeze through his secretary hearings. Shuffling the war criminal deck chairs will probably fool enough of the rubes into thinking something is being done to fix Iraq. Putting Gates in as secretary of defense is as venal as the Iraq group report name - "The Way Forward" is inane.

So now we have Bush announcing that this week he's all bound and determined to get "new ideas on Iraq" by meeting with various sycophants and co - conspirators and yes men. What a bunch of crap. The mixed messages the fascists keep delivering ensure that nothing at all is going to change and Babylon is going to continue to drip blood.

Like today, where we learn that around 150 Iraqis and 5 GIs are dead and who knows how many wounded.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Nobody's Enamored With The Hammer

A lot of blogs have glommed onto this today but it's so much fun I'll just pile on.
Tom DeLay (sleazebag, Texas) decided to start a blog and didn't find a very warm reception.

From his first post:
"I have created this blog in order to provide Americans with a new meeting place where such opinions and viewpoints might be better shared, discussed and debated; a place where conservative and traditionalist Americans might speak truth to power and to one another.In all honesty, I did not fully realize the impact or potential of the blogosphere until very recently…"

His site was up for about an impressive one hour before it and all the not terribly supportive comments were removed. Somebody mirrored the site for our amusement.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Biggest Demonstration In Lebanon's History

Half of the population of the country turned out today to protest the fascist leaning pro western government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

"Speakers told the throngs that the government was in the thrall of the United States, repeating accusations that Siniora's allies had hoped Israel would crush the Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah in its recent war with Israel.
"I tell you that after the (Israeli) aggression ... there is no place for America in Lebanon," said Hezbollah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Kassem, speaking behind bullet proof-glass."

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Tsunami On The Sun

Tsunami - like blast wave rips across the Sun

A huge blast of energy from a group of sunspots rippled it's way across the sun's surface on wednesday, after a similar release of energy on tuesday. A quicktime video of it can be found here. This thing has been exploding since it was first detected on Dec. 5 and the earth is going to just brush by some of the plasma from one of the coronal mass ejections tonight, maybe triggering some fantastic northern lights like this:

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The problem in the next couple of weeks is that if this bad boy sunspot group explodes again with these mega blasts and if the earth is hit directly , all sorts of havoc can happen from phone lines going down to hemorrhoid flare ups.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Iraq’s Death Squads: An Instrument Of The Occupation

by Ghali Hassan at Global Research

On November 14, 2006 militias and death squads dressed as police commandos kidnapped up to 150 staff and visitors in broad daylight raid – one of daily raids throughout Iraq – on the Higher Education Ministry annexe in central Baghdad. Although some hostages have been released, the fate of others is unknown. It is alleged that large number of the hostages have been tortured and others were murdered. The totality of the raids, kidnapping, torture, ongoing civilian massacres and murder were part of the illegal and racist war of aggression perpetrated by the U.S. and Britain against a defenceless nation in disregard of International Law and contempt for International institutions.

Let me stating the obvious. The U.S. did not invade Iraq to establish “democracy” and “free Iraqis”. The U.S. invaded and destroyed Iraq in order to humiliate and divide Muslims – Arabs in particular –, protect Israel’s Zionist expansion and control Iraq’s natural wealth.

Destabilisation was one of the aims of U.S. foreign policy.


When winter comes Mrs Contendere and I like to settle in on these dark, cold nights and watch movies. It's just so pleasant to get a crackling fire going in the fireplace, set out a bowl of good popcorn and get into a flick while the rain pounds and the wind howls.

I've been a fan of online rentals for a couple of years. It's simply the best value for your money, especially if you like classic films that aren't carried by your local rental shops, which mostly have new releases. The two online rental giants are Blockbuster and Netflix with a bunch of smaller outfits. With no late fees and free postage back and forth, it can come out to less than a dollar a movie if you watch a bunch per month. The only problem was the lag time using snail mail.

Last year war broke out between BB and NF. NF dropped their monthly price for three movies out at a time to undercut BB by $3 and vowed to crush BB. I switched over to NF because of the cheaper price and the fact NF had so many distribution centers which meant faster turnaround. Their website is also very advanced and easy to use. They started pulling away from the competition. Netflix was everywhere online and looked like the winner.

Until about a month ago. I have to hand it to Blockbuster - they understood the problem and responded well. Since just about everybody is in easy driving distance to ubiquitous BB stores they decided to use them as drop off centers. You take your online rental in, they scan it to alert the distribution center to mail you your next pick on your online list, plus you use the drop off movie to get a free in store rental. In essence you get six titles out at one time. Plus your account gives you two free rentals from the store per month. The only drawback could be that individual BB stores might have crappy inventories.

From a marketing viewpoint what they did was sharp and bold or completely insane. It'll be interesting to see how Netflix responds. Pass the popcorn.

Henry Rollins is pissed, and rightly so.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

NASA Officials Admit There Maybe, Possibly, Could Be Flowing Water On Mars

At the press conference today, NASA (Never A Straight Answer) honchos allowed that liquid water could be present on the surface of Mars. They said they compared images taken years apart by the Mars Global Surveyor and found some newly formed suspicious seeps. Of course that's completely at odds with the cold, dead planet myth we've been fed for years but this isn't the first time our moribund scientific establishment fails to reconcile observed phenomena with outdated dogma.
Or maybe they're just a tad hesitant to admit the obvious.

For example, what do you see going on here?

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To me it's fair to say they're geysers, shooting up and all blowing downwind.

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And can't say for sure, but this stuff sure looks like some sort of vegetation, no?

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NASA Press Conference

NASA (Never A Straight Answer) announced two days ago that it's going to hold a press conference in a few hours to announce "asignificant find on Mars". What's known is that they'll indicate that the Mars Global Surveyor mission is about at an end. There's speculation that they'll announce some other interesting items.

The scientists finally imaged the two Viking landers and their assorted debris from the 1970s along with the current rover Spirit. Considering how small they are from orbit that's quite a coup. A major blockbuster could be that they have proof of standing water on the surface of the planet, or some evidence of recent water erosion. Up to now official paradigms have insisted that Mars is too cold, too dry with air too thin to allow water to exist in liquid form. However ever since Mariner in the 60s there have been plenty of pictures like this of what appear to be seeps all over the face of the planet:

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Two years ago there were layers of dust on the Opportunity rover solar panels that were blocking sunlight and limiting performance. Then suddenly one night something happened that cleaned them off. Speculation was that some wind gusts did it, but when the rover took a picture of it's tracks down on the bottom it sure appeared as if there was a puddle. Did a rain shower clean the panels?

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Also food for thought - the probes have taken lots of pictures like the following which to my untrained eye look for all the world like vegetation. Up to now NASA and JPL haven't come up with any explanations for what this is:

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Are they going to announce definitive proof of life on Mars?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Demonstrations Will Be Extinct

The fascists get all high tech on us.

"The crowd is getting ugly. Soldiers roll up in a Hummer. Suddenly, the whole right half of your body is screaming in agony. You feel like you've been dipped in molten lava. You almost faint from shock and pain, but instead you stumble backwards -- and then start running. To your surprise, everyone else is running too. In a few seconds, the street is completely empty.
You've just been hit with a new nonlethal weapon that has been certified for use in Iraq -- even though critics argue there may be unforeseen effects.
According to documents obtained for Wired News under federal sunshine laws, the Air Force's Active Denial System, or ADS, has been certified safe after lengthy tests by military scientists in the lab and in war games.
The ADS shoots a beam of millimeters waves, which are longer in wavelength than x-rays but shorter than microwaves -- 94 GHz (= 3 mm wavelength) compared to 2.45 GHz (= 12 cm wavelength) in a standard microwave oven."

"It will repel you," one test subject said. "If hit by the beam, you will move out of it -- reflexively and quickly. You for sure will not be eager to experience it again."

Wanna know how a frozen pizza feels? Oh, and it's just one of a whole host of "non lethal" toys the gendarmes will employ at say, the next big antiwar crowd. There are acoustic beams and bullets, ultrasound emitters, sticky polymers, electronic fences, lasers, biotechnical agents and on and on.
Our overlords consider us lab rats.

Monday, December 04, 2006

"Fear took over' in Baghdad raid"

This article neatly encapsulates Bush's Iraq. Some collaborator units with their american trainers went into a Sunni Arab neighborhood in a raid for suspected "insurgents". Seems the 'hood didn't take too kindly to that:

"Staffed with veterans of the Iraq-Iran war of the 1980s and equipped with a complement of refurbished Soviet tanks and American Humvees, the 4,000-soldier 9th division is considered Iraq's best hope for an eventual U.S. troop withdrawal.
But confusion swiftly reigned as insurgents in Fadhil pummeled dismounted Iraqi troops and their American advisors. U.S. radio jammers seeking to hinder communications between insurgents ended up blocking the Iraqi soldiers' walkie-talkies, forcing them to use unreliable cellphone signals to stay in contact. Voice commands were lost amid the explosions and gunfire echoing off the walls.
At one point, U.S. and Iraqi troops piled into a Humvee to escape the hail of insurgent bullets pinging off the armor cladding.
"I was pulling people in," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Kent McQueen. "We were all bunched in there together with the gunner. It was like a game of Twister.
"An insurgent tried to throw a grenade into a Humvee's top hatch, but it bounced off and exploded on the ground.
At times, the overwhelmed Iraqi soldiers fired wildly, sweeping their machine-gun barrels across friendly and insurgent targets alike, witnesses said.
"I had to throw bullet casings at them to get their attention," said Sgt. 1st Class Agustin Mendoza, another U.S. trainer who manned a Humvee gun turret during the battle. "They had no weapons discipline."
"A round hit the glass shield of my turret behind me," Mendoza said. "I hit a guy down the alley and a propane tank. It exploded in a big fireball.
"The number of insurgents in the area was estimated at more than 100. Soldiers said they killed 20 and detained 43 others, including three foreign fighters.
No count was made of the number of civilians killed in the densely populated neighborhood, but U.S. and Iraqi soldiers acknowledged a significant amount of "collateral damage."

What you have here is a timeless example of what occupation eventually becomes. The invading force desperately needs to install a puppet government and cobble together some sort of security force to keep them in power. The satrapy is an illusion, the motivation for the collaborators is half hearted at best. Under occupation Iraq has become a toxic, corpse strewn shitheap.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Gold Medal Wiener

Von Rumsfeld was awarded a gold medal by some rich boys club in Philedelphia a couple of days ago. What for? Who the fuck knows.

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Interesting that the recipient this year was shrouded in secrecy until the last minute. According to the AP:
"When asked about the secrecy surrounding the Rumsfeld medal, league spokeswoman Patricia Tobin said, "It's up to the awardee. We always try to respect the wishes of the awardee."
Later, Rummy was seen running up the stairs trying to sneak in.

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Safeguarding Our Seed From Suds

Maine state officials are banning several beermakers from using "controversial" labels on their products. One, called Santa's Butt Winter Porter shows jolly old St Nick looking back over his shoulder with a pint in hand.

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The other two banned labels show bare breasted women.
I happen to be firmly on the side of Maine State Police Lt. Patrick Fleming, who says the label with Santa might appeal to children. In fact that's probably what those brewers had in mind, knowing the appeal that breasts have, especially to the younger crowd. "Let's get 'em hooked as soon as they can waddle" you can almost hear them say.
We can't stop here. Shamelessly using Santa to lure our impressionable urchins to a life of drunken debauchery is only one way to corrupt them. Let's ban all tantalizing images!

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animal abuse

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

So How Many Lebanese Were In That Demonstration?

As usual crowd size is subjective, depending on how you view the anti western demonstrators.

Hezbollah takes to Beirut's streets
- thousands

200,000 call for Lebanon's 'US puppet' to go

Hezbollah-led protesters paralyse central Beirut - hundreds of thousands

800,000 Lebanese protestors demand PM's resignation

Will Britney Spears' Pantyless Antics Hurt Her Custody Case?
- Fox News

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Friday, December 01, 2006

It Adds Up To Dangerously Incompetent

Jeffrey Feldman at Kos read the Deciderer's body language in Amman and it wasn't pretty:

"In his press conference in Amman, President Bush repeated the word "success" over a dozen times in a clear attempt to frame the debate with a message of confidence. But when we pay attention to the staging--to President Bush's posture, tone, and facial expressions--we picked up on the exact opposite of confidence: absolute fear."

The Black Commentator says It Is Time To Ask The Question: Is George Bush Sane?:

"The horrible thought is that we have been taken into and kept in Iraq by a guy who is not quite right in the head. His life has shown elements of lack of balance you know, and other countries have had leaders whom we regarded, or have come to regard, as not quite right in the head for one reason or another. (I really don’t have to mention names, do I?) So why should it be impossible that our national leader, too, is a bit “teched,” as they say, or maybe is more than just a bit “teched.” Refusing to recognize the facts of the world, after all, and instead living in a dream world in one’s head, is not the model definition of sanity."

Seinfeld, the Lost Episode

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The signs were all there.