And the Situation Worsens

CNN reports that Israel has moved back into Gaza and stepped up airfire on Lebanon.

Stabbed in the Back: The Rallying Cry and the Great Myth of the (American) Right Wing

Harpers has a long and very worthwhile essay on how the right wing has always rallied its forces by insisting they've been "stabbed in the back".

Russia: Fledging Democracy or Increasingly a Police State

According to Masha Lipman writing in WaPo, despite all the talk of democracy at the G8 Summit and Mr. Bush's glad-handing of Mr. Putin, Russia is becoming much more of a police state than a democracy of the people under Putin's careful (too careful) control.

US, its Allies, and Rest of World Divided Over Israel's Actions and Middle East Conflict

So says the International Herald Tribune.

My Thoughts, Concerns Re: Middle East

Let me address some email messages I've received about some of my posts about the Israel-Gaza-Lebanon warfest because I want to clarify some points.

First, a few people (at least, among those who wrote) feel I have taken the view that Lebanon is completely innocent and Israel is completely evil. That simply is not the case; to present my views that way, I believe, is beyond just error.

First, the Israeli people are no more the war-mongering power mad egotists that the Sharon-inspired Israeli government is than Americans are the bloodthirsty madmen that the Bushies are. Likewise, most Muslims do not want the wars that some of their leaders seem eager to wage. Israel is not evil. America is not evil. Muslim nations are not evil. But the people who lead each of them may be a whole other matter.

For one thing, Hezbollah as a militant organization and Lebanon as a sovereign nation are two very different entities. Lebanon is a very weak, resource-depleted nation that really does not have the ability to stand up to Hezbollah and the money and other resources it has been able to muster from Iran and Syria. It's important to separate Lebanon from Hezbollah for purposes of discussion even if the media lumps them together.

But let's get down to a more important issue. You can't look at Israel's actions individually. Before the first attacks in Lebanon, Israel was gutting Gaza for the Hamas-accredited kidnapping of an Israeli soldier. They took out the electricity superstructure so very little power flows in Gaza. Imagine what it wouldbe like if you were deprived of electricity for weeks on end, in the middle of summer. The Gaza attacks served as the backdrop for what then happened with Lebanon which, we were told, began because two more Israeli soldiers were taken by Hezbollah.

First, the taking of soldiers is quite a bit different than the taking or the killing of civilians. Can we agree on that? Second, Israel has a long-standing history of disrespecting borders in general and of venturing over the Lebanese borders specifically. Hezbollah may have kidnapped the two soldiers on Israeli soil, but I think its historically more likely that the soldiers were - quite inappropriately - on Lebanese soil when they were taken. If they were, then Israel sort of bought its own problem there.

Their response, regardless of where the soldiers were taken, was to begin bombing the hell out of the Lebanese infrastructure, starting with Beirut International Airport. Israel can say til it's blue in the face that it is only meaning to hurt Hezbollah, but dozens of the dead and hundreds of the injured in Lebanon are NOT Hezbollah militants but innocent civilians with no Hezbollah allegiance. Israel says it is taking extreme care to only target these militants yet the death count on the Lebanese civilian side is WAY out of proportion with the equally tragic deaths of a much smaller number of Israeli civilians caused by Hezbollah-aimed rockets with a maximum range of about 80 miles.

For example, at one point on Thursday, we had 75 dead Lebanese civilians to one dead Israeli civilian yet the media keeps making it sound like Israel is taking a much harder hit and thus my posting about ALL life being equally sacred. The fire power between the two sides is extremely skewed although the media makes it sound evenly matched.

But - aside from how this mess started - a much bigger concern becomes where it will go next. I fear that Israel's PM Olmert is trying to draw the U.S. into the fray by pointing to Hezbollah's links to Iran and Syria, two of the Bush targets. Unfortunately, I don't think the Bushies need much of an excuse to go after Iran and Syria and for all I know, the Bushies are acting in concert with PM Olmert and the Sharon-like Israeli power structure to force us into what could become World War III (or is it IV? With the Bushies, there are so many wars).

But look at how Iraq and Afghanistan have fared under our war auspices. And we went into these countries with a military and an economy far more capable than they are today. We also had far less worldwide hatred aimed at the U.S. when we first started those wars.

So I think we must be extremely careful what we are willing to let either Israel or the Bushies drag us into. Some - was it CK or thebhc posting here in comments? - believe that Iran is actually a far more desired target for war by the neocons than Iraq or Afghanistan ever were. And there are others who see a new war as a fine way to insure a GOP victory in mid-term elections in November.

Americans - and Israelis and Muslims - are going to have to be informed, speak up and out, and work very hard not to be swayed by the explosive rhetoric and the lies their leaders tell them. This is our only hope to keep from being pulled into what could become the Armageddon some people seem to want to bring about.

Unfortunately, I wish this post were more organized and more clear. I'm suffering from a silent migraine and the old noggin isn't working up to par.

The U.N. Goes After North Korea

Right now, the UN is demanding the end of Jong Il's ballistic missile program. But it's really difficult to say what effect this rebuke, if any, may be.

For More Analysis on the Media Spin on the Middle East Crisis

...check out TheBHC at Anything They Say. Strong words but some very intelligent thoughts, too, such as:

One needn't hunt around too much to see the glee with which US media oulets view the latest insane escalation of violence in the Middle East. And while these two admitted rags are thrilled with the sight of explosions, especially when those bombs are reigning down on Lebanese, Palastinians and other swarthy Arabs, the horror show is clearly enjoyed by the likes of CNN, which last night broadcast continuous coverage of the naked and outsized Israeli aggression and had all the appearances of the latest blockbuster Hollywood offering: sure to be this summer's big hit!

Far from needing to offer an opinion about the obvious and outrageously asymmetrical response of Israel to the second kidnapping of Israeli troops (there are already plenty of those abounding), objectively, actions in the Middle East now appear to be verging on complete madness. But US media coverage once again sides with Israel, pronouncing that country's action as entirely justified. The world sat back and watched as Israel stormed through Gaza, punishing the Palestinian civilian population with any number of violations of international law and treaty, but now that Israel is bombing civilians of a sovereign nation in retaliation for the pissant behaviour of Hezbollah, the handwringing in American mainstream media has been amped up considerably. It needs to be, otherwise America's Middle East love child might come out looking rather shameful in all of this. Hezbollah's and Hamas' actions were designed to provoke exactly the kind of excessive response that Israel unleashed, something that Israel probably understands but still chose an untempered retaliation anyway.

Although They May Be Aided by Iran and Syria, Hezbollah Also Acts Alone

The LA Times today takes some of the massive spin out of the Bush-Cheney War Machine that is beginning to sound very much like the crisis in the Middle East will soon become a U.S. war on Iran and Syria. Specifically, The Times provides some much-needed detail that, while indeed funding and other support is tendered to Hezbollah by Iran and Syria, this organization also plays by its own rules, separate and apart from Iran and Syria.

Please take the time to read it.

Bush Lie #48176: These Tax Cuts Pay for Themselves

As you read this snippet from the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities on the great lie of Mr. Bush's budget-breaking billionaire tax cuts, consider the previous post taken from The Times of London that asserts that if the U.S. isn't bankrupt already, it very well soon will be.

In recent statements, the President, the Vice President, and key Congressional leaders have asserted that the increase in revenues in 2005 and the increase now projected for 2006 prove that tax cuts “pay for themselves.” In other words, the economy expands so much as a result of tax cuts that it produces the same level of revenue as it would have without the tax cuts.

President Bush, for example, commented on July 11, “Some in Washington say we had to choose between cutting taxes and cutting the deficit…. that was a false choice. The economic growth fueled by tax relief has helped send our tax revenues soaring.”[1] Earlier, in a February speech the President stated, “You cut taxes and the tax revenues increase.”[2] Similarly, Vice President Cheney has claimed, “it’s time for everyone to admit that sensible tax cuts increase economic growth and add to the federal treasury.” [3] And Majority Leader Frist has written that recent experience demonstrates, “when done right, [tax cuts] actually result in more money for government.”[4]

In fact, however, the evidence tells a very different story: the tax cuts have not paid for themselves, and economic growth and revenue growth over the course of the recovery have not been particularly strong.

** Even taking into account the stronger revenue growth now projected for fiscal year 2006, real per-capita revenues have simply returned to the level they reached more than five years ago, when the current business cycle began in March 2001. (March 2001 was the peak and thus the end of the previous business cycle, and hence also the start of the current business cycle.) In contrast, in previous post-World War II business cycles, real per-capita revenues have grown an average of about 10 percent over the five and a half years following the previous business-cycle peak.[5] By this stage in the 1990s business cycle, real per-capita revenues had increased by 11 percent.

** Overall, this economic recovery has been slightly weaker than the average post-World War II recovery. In particular, GDP growth and investment growth have been below the historical average, despite recent tax cuts specifically targeted at increasing investment.

** Those who claim that tax cuts pay for themselves might argue that stronger revenue growth in 2005 and 2006 represents the beginning of a new trend, and that the tax cuts could pay for themselves over the longer term. Neither the historical record nor current revenue projections support this argument.

** In 1981, Congress approved very large supply-side tax cuts, dramatically lowering marginal income-tax rates. In 1990 and 1993, by contrast, Congress raised marginal income-tax rates on the well off. Despite the very different tax policies followed during these two decades, there was virtually no difference in real per-person economic growth in the 1980s and 1990s. Real per-person revenues, however, grew about twice as quickly in the 1990s, when taxes were increased, as in the 1980s, when taxes were cut.

The United States Going Bankrupt... or Is it Bankrupt Already

From The Times of London, which you should read in conjunction with the next post on Mr. Bush's "pay for themselves" (ha!) tax cuts:

The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.

A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.

Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. "To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors," he asked.

According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.
Thank you, Mr. Bush! Imagine that. In less than eight years, President Clinton took us from a terrible deficit into a record surplus. Before Mr. Bush's first year in office following Clinton, he had already driven us back into the red.. and now, into bankruptcy.

WaPo's EJ Dionne: The Bush-Cheney Big Bang, a Big Bust, or One Terrible Shot in the Dark?

You really need to read the whole thing, but here's a rather large snip-snip:

Consider Vice President Cheney's address before the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Aug. 26, 2002, one of the earliest major public arguments the administration made for war. The lead of the news stories was Cheney's claim that there was "no doubt" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was prepared to use them. "The risks of inaction are far greater than the risk of action," Cheney declared.

But then there was the delightful promise of what American success in Iraq could achieve. "Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad," Cheney said. "Moderates throughout the region would take heart, and our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced."

Today, with Israeli troops battling on their northern and southern borders, with Iran ignoring calls for negotiations on nuclear weapons, with Baghdad in flames and with many of Iraq's moderates living in fear, those Cheney sentences stand as the most telling indictment of the administration's failures.

If Israelis and Palestinians were closer to peace, if Iraqi democracy showed signs of stability -- these might justify a war fought in part on the basis of false premises.

But when the Big Bang happened, the wreckage left behind took the form of reduced American influence, American armed forces stretched to their limit and a Middle East more dangerously unstable than it was at the beginning of 2003. Whether one ascribes these troubles to the flawed implementation of the Big Bang Theory or to the theory itself, what matters now is how to limit and, if possible, undo some of the damage.

That is what the American debate should be about, but those in charge of Republican campaigns this year have another idea. They have hit upon the brilliant strategy of pushing any serious discussion of the failure of American foreign policy past Election Day. For the next 3 1/2 months, they want the choice before the voters to be binary: staying the course and being "tough," or breaking with President Bush's policy and being "soft." There are just two options on the ballot, they say: firmness or "cut and run."

If I were a Republican strategist, I'd probably do the same thing. But Democrats (and, yes, the media) risk playing into Republican hands if they fail to force a discussion of the administration's larger failures or let the debate focus narrowly on exactly what date we should set for getting out of Iraq.

The case for reducing our commitment to Iraq in the interest of other and larger foreign policy purposes -- has anyone noticed the growing mess in Afghanistan? -- is built on a compelling proposition: that the administration made a huge bet on Iraq and it lost. American voters can decide to keep the gamble going, to risk more lives and money, and hope that something turns up. Or they can decide that this gamble will never deliver the winnings that those who took it on our behalf promised.

By late November of this year, the United States will have been at war in Iraq for as long as we were involved in World War II. Under those circumstances, the burden of proof should not be on those who argue for changing what we're doing. It should be on those who set a failed policy in motion and keep promising, despite the evidence, that it will somehow pay off if only we "stay the course."
Instead, it certainly looks like Karl Rove, college dropout, traitor, pond scum will choreograph another election based on lies. And the Dems, unless they get smart very fast, will dance to his awful tune again.

If Iraq is a Democracy, Putin Doesn't Want it For Russia

So far, Vladimir Putin has given the best quote from the G8 Summit meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia now.

When Bush said what a wonderful democracy Iraq is and how he wants a better democracy for Russia, Putin immediately says (to paraphrase), "I don't want a democracy here that operates like Iraq!"

Putin might still be a nasty little KGB weasel, but he's not dumb!

Did Anyone Notice the Logo for the G8 Summit in Russia?

What looks - without closer examination - like a lone cowboy on a rearing horse?


"Why don't the Americans just go home?

From Riverbend, the Iraqi blogger:

Why don't the Americans just go home? They've done enough damage and we hear talk of how things will fall apart in Iraq if they 'cut and run', but the fact is that they aren't doing anything right now. How much worse can it get? People are being killed in the streets and in their own homes- what's being done about it? Nothing. It's convenient for them- Iraqis can kill each other and they can sit by and watch the bloodshed- unless they want to join in with murder and rape.


Sorry to those who left comments from about noon time on - they just won't open for me. I'll try again tomorrow.

Hot, Hot Baby

An Inconvenient Truth?

From Think Progress:

“The average temperatures of the first half of 2006 were the highest ever recorded for the continental United States, scientists announced today.” Almost 45 percent of the contiguous U.S. experienced “moderate to extreme droughts” while “some areas, such as the Northeast of the country experienced record rainfalls and severe floods.”

The Spy Who Sued Me

MissM points us to the Valerie Plame-Joe Wilson legal defense fund site.

Thank you, Miss!

Crazy Idea But...

What do you think the possibility is that this new flare-up (to put it mildly) in the Middle East isn't such a surprise to the Bushies because they planned to use something like this to propel us into a war with Iran now, with (sadly) a view toward November's mid-term elections?

It seems too murky, too contorted, and too absolutely WRONG in every sense of the word to be possible, but then, all of those qualities seem to fit the standard Bush-Rove playbook.

Tell me I'm wrong. Please!


"End Times" Groups Want Apocalypse Sooner Rather than Later

Gee, well... I say let them go ahead and have their end times now and get off the planet so the rest of us don't have to listen to them.

Good riddance! And don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out!

From the LA Times:

For thousands of years, prophets have predicted the end of the world. Today, various religious groups, using the latest technology, are trying to hasten it.

Their endgame is to speed the promised arrival of a messiah.

For some Christians this means laying the groundwork for Armageddon.

With that goal in mind, mega-church pastors recently met in Inglewood to polish strategies for using global communications and aircraft to transport missionaries to fulfill the Great Commission: to make every person on Earth aware of Jesus' message. Doing so, they believe, will bring about the end, perhaps within two decades.
Sadly, to some degree, the crisis in the Middle East can be tied directly to the far nutwing of the religious right here in the U.S., who feel they need to meddle in Israel and defeat the Muslims in order to have the rapture the way they want it.

This isn't good for anyone, including Israel, since while these nutcases says they befriend Jews, part of their ideology is that these Jews must be converted to Christianity for it to happen.

Bush, the "Decider"

From the wires:

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - President Bush rejected Lebanon's calls for a cease-fire in escalating Mideast violence on Friday, saying only that Israel should try to limit civilian casualties as it steps up attacks on its neighbor.

"The president is not going to make military decisions for Israel," White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

Lebanon's prime minister asked Bush, during a phone call Friday, to pressure Israel for a cease-fire. But Bush told Prime Minister Fuad Saniora that Israelis have a right to protect themselves.
"We think it's important that, in doing that, they try to limit as much as possible the so-called collateral damage, not only on civilians but also on human lives," Snow said.
Right. Much better to let Israel, as it has done before, make decisions for Bush.

White Powder at The Times NOT Anthrax

That's what the followup says, but look at this:

The letter had a postmark from Philadelphia, the police said, and contained an editorial published by The New York Times on June 28 titled “Patriotism and the Press,” with a red “X” written across it, said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman. Mr. Browne said the substance had yet to be identified but that it was later deemed to be beige in color, not white.
I think the "Patriotism and the Press" column included MUST mean Ann-thrax Coulter did indeed accidentally send along her daily cocaine supply. Now if she could only snort the other stuff. It might make him more malleable and reasonable. Cough.

$@%*!!! I Missed Bastille Day!

Why didn't anyone tell me?

I didn't put up my Bastille Day day or decorate it!

I failed to put out my basket so the Bastille Day Bunny could fill it with french fries and forgot to hide French Toast in the lawn for the Bastille Day toast roll.

I never got to Wal-Mart to buy great cheapo presents like the "official French ticklers of Jeff Gannon's GOP!" or real French w(h)ine made in Indiana (which the Dept of Homeland (In)Security tells us is the major terrorist target and not LA, NY OR Washington, DC, btw) or French flags manufactured by Chinese political prisons!

There's no Bastille Day turkey roasting in my oven (although this turkey is roasting in 90+ degree heat at her keyboard) and no Bastille Day stockings hung over my fireplace (unless you count my damp nylons hanging in the laundry room).

But I'm sure Karlo remembered! Right, Karlo? Uh... Karlo??? Wait, I'm sure he's busy shooting off bottle rockets to commemmorate Bastille Day.

Middle East Turmoil Big Part of New Record Oil Prices - and Profits

Israel's attack on first Gaza and then Lebanon is being blamed, at least in part, for the big rise in crude oil prices this week, taking them within a hair of $80/barrel.

"I don't think we're done on the upside," said BNP Paribas Commodity Futures broker Tom Bentz, referring to the rise in oil prices.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries issued a statement in which it blamed geopolitical factors beyond its control for the recent price volatility. The groups emphasized that the market is "well-supplied with crude."

Indeed, oil prices did not arrive at the doorstep of $80 a barrel overnight. The combination of rising global demand, limited excess production capacity and concerns about supply interruptions from Nigeria to the Gulf of Mexico have all played a part, analysts said. So, too, has the influx of billions of dollars into oil markets in recent years by hedge funds and other financial institutions angling for profits amid global instability.
Let us not forget, however, that despite how bad things get, the one thing that NEVER falls is oil profits. In the last year, major oil companies have profited as no one conceived possible. These profits never seem to fall victim to anything.

"The Way In - And Out - of Israel's Wars

The Christian Science Monitor's editorial today also offers some perspective on the Israel-Lebanon crisis, including that the U.S. may have helped bring this about by forcing a marginalization of the Hamas-led Palestinians by refusing to have anything to do with the duly elected Palestinian leaders.

Here's a snip:

Three weeks into the Israeli-Palestinian armed conflict over a kidnapped Israeli soldier, the violence has taken a very dangerous turn, veering into Lebanon, and possibly elsewhere. One way out is to understand the new elements in this two-front war.

Often, it's difficult to sort out who started what in a Middle East conflict, but that's not the case here. Militant Islamists – Hamas in the Gaza strip and Hizbullah in Lebanon – provoked this by incursions into Israel, killing and abducting Israeli soldiers, and demanding the release of Arab prisoners in exchange for the Israeli captives.

Why did they do this? Most likely to justify their militancy at a point when democracy and peace in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon were getting too close for comfort – but not yet close enough to check their power.

At the same time, Hamas, newly elected to run the Palestinian legislature and ministries but internally divided between moderates and militants, needed to divert attention from peace moves by President Abbas and worsening daily life under its watch. And Hizbullah, also holding ministries in a more democratic Lebanese government, has been under growing pressure to disarm. What better way to justify both groups' violence – supported by
Syria than to align with an issue that has emotional standing among Palestinians and with which they've had success with Israel in the past: prisoner exchanges?

As for Israel, no prime minister would brook soldier kidnappings and rocket attacks on civilians from both borders. This is especially true for new Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who campaigned on further unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories and who still has his security credentials to prove. He has recognized that he has no peace partner in Hamas, at least not yet.

Meanwhile, the West may have emboldened militants through its strategy of complete isolation of Hamas. That approach forced Hamas moderates out on a limb, with no way provided for them to slowly climb down and change position on recognizing Israel and renouncing violence.

But crises have a way of changing attitudes, and that can happen here.

One possibility is that, facing war and its effect on civilians, moderate leaders of the governments to which Hamas and Hizbullah belong will find the backbone to stand up to the militant factions.

James Wolcott: The Flaw in Seeing the U.S. and Israel Acting As One

James Wolcott has a post up that I encourage you to read in its entirety regarding Israel, Hezbollah, the crisis in the Middle East, Bush's (mis)handling and more.

Here's a snip:

One of the tragic follies of the age is the unexamined, bedrock consensus of our political and media establishment that the interests of the US and Israel aren't merely conjoined, but identical. That Israel is such an intimate extension of American influence, muscle, and will that they share the same nervous system and optic view. Ray Close, a former CIA analyst waving a warning flag at No Quarter, confronts the prospect of the US being sucked into the bloody vortex while Bush autopilots the same monotonal cliches about terrorism, peace-loving people, and Israel's right to defend itself (which no one disputes--it's the scale of the retaliation that's at issue).

"The interests of my country, the United States, do not coincide with those of Israel in many important respects today," Close writes. "Let me mention just two of those ways. It is very important to the United States that the independence and national sovereignty of a democratic Lebanon be preserved. That means absolutely nothing to the Government of Israel, despite what they may say to the contrary. Israeli actions going back many years, demonstrated most graphically in the 1980’s, clearly prove that point. Current Israeli actions in Lebanon are belligerently challenging the continued viability of the fragile coalition government that is struggling to achieve credibility and legitimacy at a critical period in Lebanon’s history. [my emphasis] Israeli actions are, even more importantly, threatening to revive the deep sectarian divisions and inter-communal tensions that led to fifteen years of tragic civil war from 1975-1980. American national interests will suffer much more than Israel’s if chaos results. Secondly, we Americans have other critical interests to worry about. If we take a position supporting Israel’s demand that Hizballah must be totally defeated and disarmed (a futile objective in any case), and especially if Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the revered spiritual leader of Hizballah, is physically harmed, the Shiite populations of Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East will be inflamed --- greatly undermining American prospects of working cooperatively and constructively with the Shiite religious parties in Iraq that control the overwhelmingly majority of political power in that country.

..."Encouraging and supporting Israel in a bloody confrontation with Hizballah in Lebanon may seem to be a justified and reasonable action in the shortest of terms and from the narrowest of perspectives, but the United States of America is not Israel, and we have regional and global interests and responsibilities that far surpass those of this one small ally. Just for once, let’s think first of what’s best for America."
I agree. I also believe that Bush's current "nah, I don't wanna push Israel to agree to a truce now excuse me while I nap through more important stuff" approach is going to hurt the situation further.

Is Ann-thrax Coulter Sending The New York Times "Care" Packages?

The Times reports that it received a suspicious envelope containing white powder, remininescent of the yet-unsolved (those silly Bushies!) anthrax scare in Autumn 2001.

I suspect Coulter (smirk). Cocaine might explain her personality; she probably got confused and sent them her daily stash instead of a direct death threat.

Israel Vows to Press On, Bush Refuses to Tell Israel to Stop, While John Bolton Blames Attacks on Iran and Syria

OK, I get the rest... but what planet is John Bolton on that - with Israel bombing the crap out of Beirut and Hezbollah lobbing missiles back at Israel - he wants to lay ALL blame at the feet of Iran and Syria. Oh wait... it's part of the justification for who we attack next. Gotcha.

From The Times:

The Israeli government decided today to press ahead with its military operations in Lebanon, concentrating on targets associated with the Hezbollah militia, including the bombing this evening of the headquarters of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Israeli officials said.

They said that the Israeli strategy is to diminish or destroy the power of Hezbollah, which has created “a state within a state” in southern Lebanon, and to ensure that the Lebanese army replaces Hezbollah on the border with Israel, as demanded by the United Nations.
In response to a new barrage of rockets today, said Isaac Herzog, a member of the Israeli security cabinet, “We’ve decided to put an end to this saga and to change the rules of the game whereby a terrorist organization that is part of the Lebanese government can push the region to the abyss.”

Brig. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, a member of the general staff, said: “We want to put Hezbollah out of business. We want to force the Lebanese government to take responsibility and deploy along the border and dismantle Hezbollah, which if it is allowed, will prevent any stabilization and peace process in the Middle East.”

BradBlog Reports First Federal Lawsuit Filed on Tainted Electronic Voting Machines

Story at BradBlog.

Katherine Harris Tries Raising the Dead: In This Case, Joe Scarborough's Dead Office Worker

As you may recall, I've run the story before of how, right after now TV talk show bore Joe Scarborough mysteriously put a quick end to his Congressional career, a woman working in his office died under mysterious circumstances right there on his office floor; the medical examiner who ruled it a natural death is pretty questionable himself.

But that's a story for another political race.

Here's what Florida Senate hopeful and Florida vote stealer extradinaire Katherine ("There's no such thing as too much makeup or too large boobs!") Harris tried to do with the information, from Wonkette:

It was Joe Scarborough, host of the prime-time MSNBC show Scarborough Country and a former Pensacola Republican congressman who was courted last summer by national Republicans to run against Harris. But before he could announce he wouldn’t, Harris called major donors and suggested Scarborough would have to answer questions about the strange death of a former staff member in 2001, according to two former high-level Harris staff members, a GOP donor and Scarborough.

Not fast enough for Harris, who called donors like Pensacola developer Collier Merrill. Merrill told The Miami Herald that Harris suggested Scarborough was going to have trouble when “they start asking questions… about that dead girl,” Fort Walton Beach staff member Lori Klausutis.Dornan said he overheard Harris tell more than one donor: “I don’t know what he’s thinking when he’s got this whole issue of a dead intern on his hands.”

To the Far Rightie Southerners Who Wanted to Gut the Voting Rights Act: Ha!

You didn't win. I'm so pleased.

In Light of a New Record Price for Oil and Stocks in Freefall, Let's Look Again At Mr. Bush's Economy

From Paul Krugman today, "Left Behind Economics":

I’d like to say that there’s a real dialogue taking place about the state of the U.S. economy, but the discussion leaves a lot to be desired. In general, the conversation sounds like this:Bush supporter: “Why doesn’t President Bush get credit for a great economy? I blame liberal media bias.”

Informed economist: “But it’s not a great economy for most Americans. Many families are actually losing ground, and only a very few affluent people are doing really well.”

Bush supporter: “Why doesn’t President Bush get credit for a great economy? I blame liberal media bias.”

To a large extent, this dialogue of the deaf reflects Upton Sinclair’s principle: it’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. But there’s also an element of genuine incredulity.

Many observers, even if they acknowledge the growing concentration of income in the hands of the few, find it hard to believe that this concentration could be proceeding so rapidly as to deny most Americans any gains from economic growth.Yet newly available data show that that’s exactly what happened in 2004.

Why talk about 2004, rather than more recent experience? Unfortunately, data on the distribution of income arrive with a substantial lag; the full story of what happened in 2004 has only just become available, and we won’t be able to tell the full story of what’s happening right now until the last year of the Bush administration. But it’s reasonably clear that what’s happening now is the same as what happened then: growth in the economy as a whole is mainly benefiting a small elite, while bypassing most families.

Here’s what happened in 2004. The U.S. economy grew 4.2 percent, a very good number. Yet last August the Census Bureau reported that real median family income — the purchasing power of the typical family — actually fell. Meanwhile, poverty increased, as did the number of Americans without health insurance. So where did the growth go?

The answer comes from the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, whose long-term estimates of income equality have become the gold standard for research on this topic, and who have recently updated their estimates to include 2004. They show that even if you exclude capital gains from a rising stock market, in 2004 the real income of the richest 1 percent of Americans surged by almost 12.5 percent. Meanwhile, the average real income of the bottom 99 percent of the population rose only 1.5 percent. In other words, a relative handful of people received most of the benefits of growth.

There are a couple of additional revelations in the 2004 data. One is that growth didn’t just bypass the poor and the lower middle class, it bypassed the upper middle class too. Even people at the 95th percentile of the income distribution — that is, people richer than 19 out of 20 Americans — gained only modestly. The big increases went only to people who were already in the economic stratosphere.

The other revelation is that being highly educated was no guarantee of sharing in the benefits of economic growth. There’s a persistent myth, perpetuated by economists who should know better — like Edward Lazear, the chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers — that rising inequality in the United States is mainly a matter of a rising gap between those with a lot of education and those without. But census data show that the real earnings of the typical college graduate actually fell in 2004.

In short, it’s a great economy if you’re a high-level corporate executive or someone who owns a lot of stock. For most other Americans, economic growth is a spectator sport.
Nods to Rozius.

Apt Enough Headline? "Arlen Specter Successfully Pretends He Accomplished Something"

Works for me... but what Specter agreed to (another rape and sodomy of democracy does NOT work for any of us except the totalitarian, power-hungry, knowledge-starved Bushies):

Arlen Specter announced today that the administration has tentatively agreed to let the secret FISA court do a “one-time review” of the illegal NSA domestic spying program that has been in operation for years and will continue to be in operation indefinitely. President Bush reserves the right to change any bit of the deal he feels like changing. Mr. Specter said the agreement reflected the fact that “the president does not have a blank check.”

Specter then began striking his open palm against his cheek while White House spokesperson Dana Parino asked reporters, “why is Senator Specter hitting himself? Why is Senator Specter hitting himself?”
The president doesn't have a blank check? Specter, you handed him not just a blank check; you gave him the effing bank (of American trust)!

Santorum isn't the only politician Pennsylvania needs to take out on trash day.

New Poll Says Majority of Americans Plan to Vote Democrat

Too bad the Democrats weren't such let-Rove-decide-the-rules wusses.

All Life is Sacred, Not Just Some

On CNN and several other news sites today, I've noticed that prominent in coverage of the Israel-Hezbollah-Beirut conflict waging currently is news that an Israeli woman and her grandson were killed. Their deaths are terrible and made more tragic because they were so avoidable, the victims innocent civilians in the madness.

But nowhere was there such obvious coverage of the more than five dozen Lebanese civilians dead in the last two days. Certainly, no individual stories of their equally tragic deaths were noted as with the Israelis. I've seen this depicted again and again since the latest entifada began in 2000: individual Israeli deaths, always a fraction of the number of Palestinians in most conflicts, cited but not the others.

This disparity is nothing new. We hear so much of the deaths in New York, Washington, and in the field in Pennsylvania on 9-11-01, but our government makes a point of not even trying to count the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and elsewhere the so-called War of on Terror is being waged.

In fact, the most conservative estimates of civilian deaths just around Baghdad is about 50,000 or more than a dozen times the number who died here on 9/11. But experts say that figure is ridiculously low, and likely, several hundred thousand Iraqis have died, which does not count Afghanistan, et al.

We keep hearing, "it doesn't matter what we do so long as we save even one American life."

But ALL life is sacred. An Israeli life is as valuable as an American life which is as valuable as a Lebanese life which is as valuable as a Palestinian life which is as valuable as an Iraqi and Afghani life.... and so on.

Perhaps if this were acknowledged a bit more, some of the bloodshed would stop.

But then, I do seem hopelessly naive and simple sometimes.

Where is the Outrage Over Right-Wing Blogger Calling for Murder of Five Supreme Court Justices?

Glenn Greenwald brings us the tale of a right-wing blogger who has publicly advocated the cold-blooded murder of the five Supreme Court justices who ruled against the Bushies in the celebrated Hamdan case that relates to Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo), detainees, and these foolish military tribunals (that make kangaroo courts seem terribly fair).

Maybe this should be no surprise considering the far right has spent weeks now advocating the execution of The New York Times for printing already public information on bank spying by the Bushies, or that Senator John Cornyn and former Rep. Tom DeLay both called - not so indirectly - for violence against judges whose decisions they didn't like.

But it's a sad state of affairs. And one would think that at least one sane voice on the right would come out against such a posting. Silence except for people backing up this crazed blogger's demand for murder.

Impotent Arlen Specter Strikes Again in NSA Eavesdropping Review

Arlen Specter has become so timid, which is a shame. He used to at least sometimes stand for something. Now he blows hot wind and, at the slightest backdraft, he cowers.

Such is the case with the NSA eavesdropping case. The American people have a RIGHT.. an obligation really... to demand a complete review of this matter, to demand that the system of checks and balances provided to us is in place.

What do we get from Arlen, who should have some balls as head of the Senate Judiciary Committee? Ha! Bush grudgingly agrees to a one-time, highly conditional, largely impotent review of the NSA spying matter, and Arlen acts like the job's done and the American people can shut up their complaints now.

The only thing this impotent review is going to prove is how wide Arlen Specter is willing to spread his asscheeks when the president or his henchmen tell Arlen to bend over. As it happens, Arlen can spread 'em pretty damned wide.

Go home, Arlen. Maybe you can spend some significant quality time with Rick Santorum when he loses his seat in November. Oh wait.. that can't happen because Santorum doesn't even frickin' pretend to live in Pennsylvania. Snort! Well, without Pricky Ricky to play with, Arlen can perfect his latest incarnation of the "magic bullet theory" he gave us for the JFK assassination: in Arlen's case now, it's the magic rimjob theory; the Bushies are certainly practicing enough on the senator from Scotland.

Israel, Hezbollah, Lebanon

In just two days, more than 60 people have been killed and this is exclusively in the Lebanon incursion by Israel, separate from Gaza. If this isn't a full blown war, what is?

Despite Israel's assurance they are trying to minimize casualties and are only going after terrorist targets, we know that while Hezbollah in its rocket assault has killed ONE Israeli woman, some 60 Lebanese civilians have died, many women and children, including 12 people from a single family. One wonders what the numbers would be like if Israel weren't taking such care.

Just look at the bombing being done at Beirut International Airport. This isn't a terrorist base, it's an airport. Israel has already struck it at least twice.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush is busy with pig jokes.

Israel to U.S. on Brink of War: Keep Sending Checks, Otherwise Fuck Off

Gee, although we give more support to tiny Israel than any other country on the planet and we supply them with almost all their military might, we don't seem to hold much sway over their decision making.

From Blah3:

So. Things are spinning out of control all over the Middle East, and finally the World's Greatest Superpower decides to weigh in on the side of restraint. And how does Israel respond to the World's Greatest Superpower? According to Steve Clemons, the response was nasty, brutish and short.
    Although I do not have independent confirmation, I heard the rumor from a well-placed source that Secretary of State Rice attempted to increase pressure on Israel to stand down and to demonstrate "restraint". The rumor is that she was told flatly by the Prime Minister's office to "back off".
Bush, when asked about the crisis with Israel and Lebanon, kept trying to joke about a pig. Don't ask me.


The New GOP: Do As We Want and Not as We Did to Clinton

As half expected, the right is up in arms about Valerie Plame's - joined by husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson - intent to sue Dick Cheney, Karl Rover, and Scooter Libby for outing her, thus ending her active covert CIA operative career (not to mention endangering other field operatives and their network of informants and helpers).

What I found interesting was the usual double standard both the old and new GOP always want applied (and if the GOP stands for nothing else, it's double standards: as in, "the rules always apply to you, but NEVER, EVER to me!"). To whit, one of their big gripes today is that Plame has "some nerve" suing Cheney and Rove when they are so busy doing the people's business.

Cough. Gee, where have I heard that before. Oh wait. I remember. We heard it from Clinton - and rightly so - back in the Paula Jones lawsuit. And the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a sitting president could indeed be sued. The GOP was real fine with that. Righteously indignantly fine, in fact.

But now we're supposed to believe that Bunker Boy Cheney is just too busy to be bothered with a lawsuit. Too busy doing what? Promoting torture, outing CIA operatives in an act of treason, and threatening everyone he doesn't like, not to mention shooting people "in error"? And Rove? Gee, I don't remember electing him to do diddly.. which is all he really does besides collect the taxpayers' money for committing mayhem in the name of the GOP.

The New Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court?

It should be clear to anyone thoughtful - and I don't mean political bias holders - that the Supreme Court Bush has weighted heavily toward the far right with the addition of Roberts and Ito, made worse by the resignation of the conservative Sandra Day O'Connor.

Yet, associate justice Anthony Kennedy provided a surprise swing vote in the Hamdan case, the one on Guantanamo Bay/Gitmo that says there should be some limits to what the Bushies can do regarding detainees they choose to keep forever in limbo, void of rights guaranteed under the Geneva Convention. It's too early to say whether Kennedy will take the centrist role of decision maker that O'Connor came to wield, but The Nation looks at this justice in a piece entitled, "The Kennedy Court". I think it's required reading (but what do I know?).

Here's a snip-snip:

The Supreme Court's 2005-06 term--the first to feature the newly confirmed Chief Justice, John Roberts Jr., and Justice Samuel Alito--began with a whimper and ended with a bang. The term's early months saw the Court issuing an unusually high number of unanimous opinions, even in such potentially controversial areas as abortion and gay rights, as the Court sought to decide cases extremely narrowly and thereby avoid controversy. But by the end of the term, controversy was front and center, as the Court divided sharply on its most significant cases, culminating in the stunning 5-to-3 decision, the last day of the term, declaring George W. Bush's military tribunals illegal.

In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the most important case of the term, the Court showed itself willing to do what neither Republicans nor Democrats in Congress have been able to do: Stand up to the President in the "war on terror." The Court's decision reaffirmed, as Justice John Paul Stevens put it, that "the Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in this jurisdiction." The Court's capitalization of the "Rule of Law" underscored its effort to enforce the concept of legality on an Administration that has long since adopted the view that the law can impose little or no constraint on the President during wartime--whether it be the international laws of war, criminal prohibitions on torture and warrantless wiretapping of Americans, or the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a statute that establishes the rules for military trials.

But as much as Hamdan deserved celebration for rejecting the President's vision of unchecked power in the post-9/11 world, the term also showed just how close the country is to a system of government that has no meaningful checks and balances. Bush's two new appointees generally proved themselves reliable conservatives--if not exactly in the mold of Justices Scalia and Thomas, which Bush said he was striving for, at least very close. Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas proved a reliable four votes for conservative results, while Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer continued to be a fairly reliable four votes for moderate to liberal outcomes. (Long gone are the days of Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall.)

Care to Answer a Very Silly, Stupid Question For Me?

How can a shown entitled, "America's Got Talent" possibly feature BOTH David Hasselhoff and Regis Philbin?

This is the reason the rest of the world hates us. Well, this and the Bushies.

On the Front Lines in the War on Terror in... Wait... Paraguay???

Don't ask me. The Bushies' logic in this stuff just completely escapes me.

Could It Possibly Be? Can There Be a Body of Politics of the Common Good

Read this Katrina Vanden Heuvel piece at The Nation which says:

A movement is growing that aims to build a politics of decency and sanity, which speaks to the generosity of the American people. It's not going to be easy, but it's time to rock the boat.

Lieutenant Watada's War Against the War

The Nation profiles the brave soldier who believes war is sometimes necessary but who has refused to fight what he - and the majority of the rest of the world, Americans included - sees as a most unjust war in Iraq.

Maureen Dowd Asks "Who Let the Dogs Out?"

Who indeed:

What better time than the dog days of summer to watch a dog-torture advocate get hounded?

As three female protesters in Abu Ghraib-style orange jumpsuits and black headscarves stood vigil in the back of the Senate Judiciary hearing room, like the supernatural chorus in ³Macbeth,² William Haynes was grilled about his worthiness to ascend to the federal bench when his main claim to the promotion is complicity in letting Dick Cheney dance a jig on the Geneva Conventions.

³The State Department characterizes the use of dogs as an interrogation aid as torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment,¹¹ Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat, said to the Pentagon general counsel. ³We publicly condemned the countries of Libya and Burma for using dogs in interrogation. In November of 2002, you recommended that Secretary Rumsfeld approve the use of dogs to intimidate detainees at Guantánamo.

³The Department of Defense¹s own investigation concluded that this technique migrated from Guantánamo to Iraq and Abu Ghraib. At least two members of the armed forces have now been convicted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for using dogs to frighten detainees. It is striking that as these soldiers were prosecuted, you were being promoted. What message are we sending our troops? And what message are we sending the world, in light of your role in promulgating abusive interrogation techniques, like the use of dogs, stress positions and forced nudity. What message are we sending if we promote you to the second highest court in the land?²

The senator added that the message would be terribly unfair: ³Well, we¹re going to dispatch a few privates, a few corporals, a sergeant, maybe it will get to a lieutenant, but it¹ll never get upstairs. ... Apparently, upstairs there¹s a promotion party. Downstairs people are being sent to prison.¹¹

Mr. Haynes, 48, lamely resorted to the argument that Abu Ghraib was simply a few bad apples, ³the work of the night shift, without any authority whatsoever.²

Even as the Bush administration was forced to concede, after being slapped back by the Supreme Court, that terrorism suspects must be accorded the rights enshrined in the Geneva Conventions, W. was trying to reward those who helped shred them. He nominated Mr. Haynes to sit on the Fourth Circuit court, the conservative Virginia go-to court for contentious cases on civil liberties and detention of foreign prisoners.

A group of 20 retired military officers sent a letter to Senator Arlen Specter, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, expressing ³profound concern² about Mr. Haynes and arguing that he promoted policies that ³compromised military values, ignored federal and international law, and damaged America¹s reputation and world leadership.¹¹

They asserted that the policies ³fostered animosity toward the United States, undermined rather than enhanced our intelligence-gathering efforts, and added significantly to the risks facing our troops serving around the world.¹¹

Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator who is a military lawyer, a member of the Armed Services Committee and is close to the JAG Corps lawyers, is reported to oppose Mr. Haynes behind the scenes. Speaking to reporters in the hallway, he echoed Senator Durbin¹s fear that soldiers should not take the fall for superiors¹ decisions: ³We just need to make sure that what we do in terms of promotion, of a civilian, who was part of policies that have led to military members being prosecuted and having their careers ruined, needs to be thoughtfully considered.²

Ken Lay Stands With Martin Luther King and Yes, Jesus Christ Himself!

I didn't know this. I really didn't. Not until I read CorrenteWire.

From CNN.
    The Reverend Dr. Bill Lawson compared Lay with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ, and said his name would eventually be cleared.
Jesus hates your pension.
Wow. And I thought he was a (dead) rank skank! Color me soooooo corrected.

Enron sits at the right hand of Halliburton which, with Cheney of course in the new GOP eyes, sits at the right hand of God... and Wal-Mart!

Why is NARAL Supporting Joe (The Whine) Lieberman?

After reading this letter from NARAL at CorrenteWire, I still don't get it. Probably never shall.

Bush's GOP Have Their Undies in a Bunch Because They Couldn't Have Exclusive Rights to Flag-Draped Coffins

Honestly, I can't even begin to write about this story because it's so base, so putrid, so fucking ridiculous that you'd think Ann Coulter wrote it. So I'll let John of AmericaBlog tell you but I think the headline above pretty much sums up the new GOP "outrage":

Everyone remember this little beauty from the 2004 campaign, when George Bush decided to use the 3,000 dead on September 11 as campaign props?

Well, apparently now that the war on terror and the war in Iraq have become one big fiasco (where is Osama, anyway?), the Republican party has suddenly decided that talking about both wars is no longer politically correct.

Which of course is understandable. I wouldn't want anyone talking about my biggest failures either, especially if they led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 US soldiers in a senseless war that's become a fiasco due to my incompetence.

I bring this up because the Republicans are now freaking out - meaning, they're running scared - over a new Democratic video highlighting Bush's many failures, and how America has taken a "turn for the worse" under Bush's and the Republicans' stewardship. And the video is of course, correct. It shows photos of pollution, the abysmal response to Hurricane Katrina, and the failed Iraq war, among other examples of Republican incompetence.

The Iraq war photos in the video include that now-famous photo of the flag-draped coffins in the military jet coming back to the states from Iraq. Rightly suggesting that the deaths of nearly 3,000 US troops in a fiasco of a war is most certainly a "turn for the worse" that America has suffered under George Bush's presidency.

Now, you'll recall that George Bush has refused to attend even a single funeral of a US service member killed in Iraq.

And you'll recall that Bush has tried to stop the media from showing the arrival of the coffins of any US soldier who died in Iraq. Thousands of dead heroes are kind of a downer when you're trying to con the public into thinking everything is going swell.

So you won't be surprised to find out that the Republicans are now feigning freak out over the pictures of the coffins serving as a moving memorial to how sad and wrong it is that Bush and the Republicans are responsible for killing nearly 3,000 of our proud US troops.

What would the Republicans prefer we use to depict the tragedy of the deaths of our soldiers at the hands of a commander in chief who is inept and a Republican congress that is non-existent?

Well, we already have that answer: The Republicans prefer we don't acknowledge the deaths of our troops at all. To the Republicans running Washington, DC, the deaths of our soldiers in Iraq are an embarrassment, an inconvenient truth one might even say.

To Republicans in Washington, American soldiers don't matter, dead or alive, unless you're a Republican running for re-election, then our troops pop up in all your campaign events and ads as if they're our troops' new best friend, only to be forgotten until the next election.

But Republicans are not our troops' best friend.Republicans sent our troops to Iraq to risk their lives for a lie. They sent our men and women into battle without the body armor they needed to stay alive. Republicans sent them in insufficient numbers to get the job done. They sent them with no plan for victory, no plan for exit. They sent them without even enough food.

Republicans cut the funding for veterans back here in America, and have left scores of Iraq war vets now homeless. And Republicans refuse to even consider pulling our troops out of a failed Iraq war, even as our troops continue to die each and every day - and why? - because a withdrawal would be an embarrassment to our failed commander in chief George Bush. And in a Republican's mind, what's a few thousand dead US troops when compared to possibly embarrassing the worst president ever?

So, the Republicans are understandably freaking out. After all, George Bush and the Republicans are responsible for the biggest US military failure since Vietnam. (And Dick Cheney is responsible for cutting the US military budget far beyond what anyone ever even wanted.) The only way the Republicans know to react is not to fix the problem, but rather to attack the messenger and distract the public.

So, expect to hear a lot from the Republicans in the coming days about how much they respect our dead troops.

More Bu(ll)Shit: Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Bushies Still Ignoring Rules on Detainees and Interrogation

See? I said this "new page" on following the Geneva Conventions cited by the Bushies amounted to more horse manure.

Outed CIA Operative Valerie Plame Files Suit Against Cheney, Libby, and Rove

What? Why not sue Bush and Novak and Judy Miller, too?

Yes, I am serious. I don't believe at all in silly or frivolous lawsuits, but this one seems very well deserved. I hope they have to pay B-I-G.

Ken Lay Mourned (No, Really!)

He was a straight arrow, they say... and the Enron trial was just a witch hunt that went shamelessly and inappropriately after poor, innocent, 12-house owning, hundred millionaire Ken Lay.

Yes, you may gag now.. preferably while you're opening your record high electric bill.

Update: Karl Rove Been Fired Yet?

Seriously, it's happened, right? Because Mr. Bush assured us he would fire who leaked Valerie Plame's name and Mr. Rove said Monday, before Novak talked, that the person should be fired.

Neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Rove would lie to us, would they?

Roasted Rudy, Anyone? Not Too Tasty, But Sure Enough Pork to Go Around

Well, one to add to the summer reading list!

NEW YORK A long-awaited re-appraisal of New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's much-hailed actions surrounding the 9/11 terrorist attacks will be published in September to mark the fifth anniversary of the tragedy. It's called "The Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11," written by Wayne Barrett, the longtime Village Voice writer and author of a biography of the former mayor, and Dan Collins, a senior producer for CBSNews.com. The publisher is HarperCollins.

"When he assured New York that things would come out all right, he was blessedly believable." That was on 9/11. Things haven't been as good for Rudy Giuliani since. And this book won't make it any better.Compared to the bewildered George W. Bush, Giuliani projected confidence, calm and leadership in the terrible hours after the Twin Towers fell. That was all to the good.

However, Barrett and Collins assert, Giuliani's subsequent claims that he had expected and had been preparing for a terrorist attack since taking office do not match the facts, which the authors explore in abundant (and just this side of numbing) detail. Giuliani, for instance, detailed an Office of Emergency Management, but then located its headquarters inside what had long been identified as a prime target—the World Trade Center. It was, the authors write, "the only bunker ever built in the clouds."

The heads of various crisis-management-and-response units were political appointees, most in way above their heads. Giuliani and his subordinates were never able to coordinate communications among various fire, police, dispatch, public-health and other agencies; had they been successful, there's a good chance, the authors maintain, that the civilians who were told to stay in place inside the burning towers would have been evacuated, as the fire chiefs had ordered.

The authors' account verges on indictment when they explore why the firefighters' handy-talkies did not work, a congeries of causes ranging from the technological to the political. Suffice it to say that the Giuliani City Hall seems to have been no stranger to sweetheart deals and patronage, so that the employee in charge of emergency broadband communications had a sister who worked as a lobbyist for the phone provider who just happened to win the lucrative contract. That employee later committed suicide.

As a Pacifist, I Can't Say I Advocate Violence

But Ann Coulter is close to making me suggest someone should put this shrill, vile, nasty, vicious, rabid pile of blonde-dyed crap out of her misery. Hell, if they televise it, I might put up the money for pay-per-view!

Not only does she want terrorists to blow up the New York Times, she's calling for the execution of Bill Keller, preferably by firing range. And except for one newspaper, nobody is taking her column out of print, despite the vicious threats she sends out to her deranged fans to fulfill and the fact that the woman apparently plagiarizes her drivel.

Vice President Cheney Promoted a Pro-Torture Environment

From The Washington Note (and again, why am I not surprised?):

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson , who served General Colin Powell in various capacities as a close aide for 16 years -- most recently as Powell's Chief of Staff at the Department of States, has written a short, matter of fact assessment of the torture proclivities during the Bush administration and the Vice President's central role in promoting a "pro-torture" national security/military environment.

Wilkerson writes in "Dogging the Torture Story".

Give the Gift of Nourishment

I've got a lot to post but I've also got to run out now and make a donation of some much-needed dairy goods at the local food bank. And this brings me to the reason for this post.

Today, a record number of Americans are going to bed hungry. The minimum wage hasn't been raised in nearly a decade and far too many jobs pay only the minimum wage (and less if you're a waitress or farmhand, or an undocumented worker) while just the price of gasoline has more than doubled during this time period. Frankly, I think you might be surprised with how many people you see each and every day who do not have enough food to survive. Low income people are especially hard hit.

Even if you took just $10-$20 a week or every other week or a month and put it into nourishing food you contribute to a local food bank or soup kitchen, you could help so many who are now being turned away since the demand is so high.

As you might have guessed, things around here have been pretty lean lately. But I'd much rather spend some cash on a food bank donation than I would a trip to the movies or a fast food meal. I encourage like-minded people to perhaps consider doing the same.

Senator: Replace FEMA With New Agency

Uh... but FEMA used to work pretty much OK.

Perhaps the problem isn't FEMA itself but the Bush Administration running FEMA?

Katherine Harris: Now the GOP Doesn't Seem to Like Her Either

And she's lost her top campaign staff which is not the first time for her Senate campaign either.

Brink of a New Middle East War?

Think we're on the brink - or worse - of a full scale war between Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah?

Speaking of The New York Times

I've added New York Times' headlines to the right, above Buzzflash headlines.

Bob Herbert: A Vietnam Lesson, Unlearned

Bob Herbert in his New York Times column makes some excellent points about Iraq and the Bush Administration's handling of it.

Bush's Ten (10) Rules for Losing the War on Terror

Besides having himself as titular figurehead, that is.

The Top 10 Bush Rules are here, thanks to Buzzflash for the link.

The O Factor

One can only hope that Bill O'Reilly goes doooo-ooooo---wwww-nnnn in the fight between his ratings and Keith Olbermann of MSNBC. My vote in on Keith, trust me!

From TV News:

Gradually, the show took on more of Mr. Olbermann’s persona, which meant stories were delivered with either mock outrage or ironic amusement. And unquestionably the chief target of the outrage was the Bush administration and its defenders.

Mr. Olbermann said he believed that the turn in public sentiment toward the administration clearly began to bring more viewers to his show. “We saw a certain cultural shift,” he said, adding that it was a “sea change, if that’s not too unfortunate a word, around the time of Hurricane Katrina.”

That a rabid audience can be built for a political discussion show from the left, as it has so effectively been done on talk radio and on some of Fox’s programs from the right, has not been demonstrated before, unless you count the fake news shows on Comedy Central. Mr. Olbermann said the administration had created enough disaffection to keep both his ratings and his outrage up.

“The country gave this president every imaginable benefit of the doubt,” he said, about the period following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. “He abused it. You know what Lincoln said: You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of time. But it looks like you can’t fool all of the viewers all of the time, endlessly.”

Howard Kurtz on Helen Thomas

Poor Howie the Putz: mean old Helen Thomas criticized the Washington Press Corps as a bunch of mute flunkies for the Bush Administration and he takes it personally.

And quite well, he should!

Howie IS a flunky for the Bushies, as is far too much of what we laughingly call the Washington press corps. And Helen Thomas, author of the new "Watchdogs of Democracy?" has flushed bigger wet pieces of bathroom tissue than Howie will ever write!

And yes, I edited that for those of you who haven't eaten your morning bagel or doughnut yet. But either way you write it, the Howard Kurtzs of the press corps still swirl around the toilet bowl.

Hillary Clinton: Running Against People's Perceptions

From WaPo, but let me add what I've said before: I think Hillary Clinton is largely the choice of the GOP for 2008 Dem nominee. No offense, but if I wanted who the GOP would select, I'd vote for Giuliani or McCain (gag to both).

Hillary is too likely to sell Dems and left-of-Genghis Khan voters out for her own self interests. I also think the GOP would love to see a "cat fight" run-off between Condoleeza Rice and Hillary for president, which wouldn't be taken seriously, just as a side-note to the Good Old Boys Network.

If the Dems can't put up better than Hillary, God help 'em (though, as much as I had problems with many of his actions, I'd vote for Bill again in a heartbeat - but then, so would Poppy and Barbara Bush (guffaw)).

The Bushies Take Security Seriously?

Right. And I'm a 20 yr old blonde nymphette (which, no, I am not).

The top cyber security chief's spot remains unfilled after ages AND they have petting zoos, ice cream stands, and doughnut shops on the Department of Homeland Security prime target list. Oy!

No, the Bushies only take security as seriously as required to a) win an election on FEAR alone (though rigged voting machines don't hurt!) and b) to give these lucrative no-bid contracts to ass kissers like Rudy Giuliani and Guliani & Associates.

What Is Israel Doing?

Not being militaristically minded, I don't think I quite understand unless it's raw aggression for raw aggression's sake.

Israeli warplanes bomb Beirut airport. Lebanese TV reports 47 civilian deaths; one Israeli woman killed. Bush blames Syria for harboring Hezbollah.

A Point of Clarification on Halliburton and Army's End to No Bid Contract with Them

Lest you think that the Army's announcement that it would stop handing no-bid contracts to Dick Cheney's former favoritest corporation, Halliburton, means your tax dollars won't line their pockets, think again.

While the Army probably wanted to leave the impression they would not just hand Halliburton work with no bids, this does NOT mean Halliburton won't win MORE than its share of Army and other government contracts.

In truth, Halliburton and its subsidiaries like Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR) often do not submit the lowest bid, and despite their long and unpleasant history of massive overbilling even on jobs where their performance seems highly questionable, the Army and other government organizations very frequently - surprise! - choose them when bids are made. And the Army will continue to invite Halliburton to bid on everything.

In fact, a subsequent press release made it clear that they EXPECT Halliburton to win one of the three spots that their current contract is being split into, despite the corp's overbilling and non-performance.


US-European Relations at Their Worst Since End of World War II

That's what I just heard on the BBC News distributed through Public Radio International, citing that although the US is touting Bush's meeting with German head Andrea Merkel (after years of chilly relations with Schroeder), more than 50% of Germans think the meeting is a very bad idea AND that relations between the US and Europe haven't been this chilly since World War II.

OK, that surprised me!

ACLU Lawsuit Charges US Blocks Borders to Those With "Different" Ideology

This sadly is no surprise. We've again and again sent labor leaders and activists, professors, journalists and others packing before they can do more than get off a plane.

In a press release issued today, the American Civil Liberties Union charge the government with enforcing an "ideological exclusion" policy to block entry at the border, RAW STORY has found.

"The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union today released new documents that indicate the government is broadly interpreting and using a controversial Patriot Act power known as the "ideological exclusion" provision to block people from entering the country," the press release reads.

"The ACLU is concerned that the provision is increasingly being used to target foreign scholars and others whose politics the government disfavors," the press release continues.

"The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging a provision of the Patriot Act that is being used to deny visas to foreign scholars whose political views the government disfavors," says ACLU's Website. "The lawsuit charges that the provision, known as the "ideological exclusion" provision, is being used to prevent United States citizens and residents from hearing speech that is protected by the First Amendment."

"The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of the American Academy of Religion, the American Association of University Professors and PEN American Center, and also names as a plaintiff Professor Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss intellectual who is widely regarded as a leading scholar of the Muslim world," the website adds. "The government revoked Professor Ramadan's visa under the ideological exclusion provision in 2004, preventing him from assuming a tenured teaching position at the University of Notre Dame."


Mikhail Gorbachev Doesn't Have Much Respect for the Bushies Either

Says the former head of what was the USSR: Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are shallow people.

Sick, Sad, Silly Abuse of Tax Dollars: FCC Combs News Broadcasts for "Dirty Words"

Everything the Bush White House and its administration does mocks every aspect of what America would like to believe itself to be. From Raw Story:

In its continuing crackdown on on-air profanity, the FCC has requested numerous tapes from broadcasters that might include vulgar remarks from unruly spectators, coaches and athletes at live sporting events, industry sources said.

Tapes requested by the commission include live broadcasts of football games and NASCAR races where the participants or the crowds let loose with an expletive. While commission officials refused to talk about its requests, one broadcast company executive said the commission had asked for 30 tapes of live sports and news programs.

"It looks like they want to end live broadcast TV," said one executive, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. "We already know that they aren't afraid to go after news."

While live programming always has been problematic for broadcasters, it has become even more difficult under tougher commission rules approved in 2004. The new rules found that virtually any use of certain expletives will be considered profane and indecent, even if it is a slip of the tongue. In a March decision, the FCC found that the CBS news program "The Early Show" violated its indecency rules because of a profane slip-up but did not issue a fine because the incident occurred before the new rules were instituted.
Yeah, this is useful, isn't it?

Next Books on My Reading List

Helen Thomas' "Watchdogs of Democracy?" and John Dean's "Conservatives Without Conscience".

BTW, I often hear Dean called a leftist which is laughable. They just don't like his intelligent commentary.

A member of Nixon's White House, Dean labels himself, quite appropriately I believe, a Goldwater conservative.

President Bush Mocks Us All: $100K for "Director of Lessons Learned"

Posted at AmericaBlog, a story that has literally made me ill:

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) offers a few more lessons learned:

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the President said we continue to be wise about how we spend the people's money."

    Then why are we paying over $100,000 for a 'White House Director of Lessons Learned'?"

    Maybe I can save the taxpayers $100,000 by running through a few of the lessons this White House should have learned by now."

    Lesson 1: When the Army Chief of Staff and the Secretary of State say you are going to war without enough troops, you're going to war without enough troops."

    Lesson 2: When 8.8 billion dollars of reconstruction funding disappears from Iraq, and 2 billion dollars disappears from Katrina relief, it's time to demand a little accountability."

    Lesson 3: When you've 'turned the corner' in Iraq more times than Danica Patrick at the Indy 500, it means you are going in circles."

    Lesson 4: When the national weather service tells you a category 5 hurricane is heading for New Orleans, a category 5 hurricane is heading to New Orleans."

    I would also ask the President why we're paying for two 'Ethics Advisors' and a 'Director of Fact Checking.'

    "They must be the only people in Washington who get more vacation time than the President."

"Blood on Our Hands"

I somehow missed this Greg Mitchell column, "Blood on Our Hands", which I also recommend. He sums the horrible truth up quite aptly here:

One deluded president plus an army of paralyzed editorialists = many more years of a war that is one big atrocity.
This also reminds me of Rumsfeld's rather sick joking around today at a press conference in Iraq in response to a very serious question by a soldier about outdated, practically useless hardware. Yeah, it's all quite humorous to him as he hurries back to give another elegant, black tie Washington DC dinner party for well-heeled friends.

As E&P's Greg Mitchell Aptly Points Out, Few Raised Alarms on Key War Resolution

As regulars know, I'm a fan both of Editor and Publisher since my journalism school days and of Greg Mitchell there in particular, so I always read his columns.

This week, Greg looks at how few newspapers raised alarms at the time in 2002 that Bush was handed a blank check by Congress to wage war anyway, anywhere, and for any reason he chose. I encourage you to read it in its entirely, with a snippet here:

When Congress in October 2002 voted to give President Bush a free hand to wage war against Iraq, not many in the press saw it as a landmark, perhaps even a turning point, in U.S. history. But ever since the war went bad -- almost three years ago now -- the vote has gained increased significance, something to hail or lament (as a modern Gulf of Tonkin resolution) or an albatross to hang around a political candidate's neck. John Kerry never could explain his vote in favor of the resolution during the 2004 presidential race. Now he says he regrets his vote, but Hillary Clinton, who is in the same bind, refuses to renounce it.

Those who favor the war, from President Bush on down, frequently invoke the bipartisan vote in both the House and Senate as proof that Democrats, too, believed that Saddam had WMDs and felt he should be removed from power. But how did newspapers feel about the vote then? And will any of them promise that next time -- let's say, if a showdown with Iran or North Korea looms -- they will be more vigilant about backing a blank check for a war-threatening president?

An E&P survey of editorials in more than a dozen major papers around that October 2002 vote finds that few sounded any alarms. The Washington Post was typical in backing Congress' decision to give Bush "broad authority ... to move against Iraq." The editorial suggested that it was not a "declaration of war" and "the course of U.S. policy is not yet set." Of course, Bush would later act as if it were equivalent to a declaration of war, and there is much evidence that U.S. plans for an invasion were indeed pretty well "set" at that time.
This is especially important, I think, in light of the WSJ and Washington savaging The Times for its story on the SWIFT bank spying operation when the LA Times and the WSJ had also written about it, and when the program was HARDLY a secret.

Do we need a press that acts as a PR organ for the White House? I say loudly and often, NO!

Thanks, Greg, once again, for exploring some of the tougher issues and being willing to hold fellow journalists and publishers feet to the fire at this very critical time in American and world history.

Ed&Pub Asks: When is a 14-Year-Old a Woman?

This, as you may recall, is a question I've raged about following the U.S. media's insistence at portraying a 14-year-old female as a "woman" in reports that she was allegedly raped and murdered by U.S. soldiers.

From E&P whom I thought would address this sooner (better late than never):

Ever since the case of the raping and killing of an Iraqi and the alleged murder of three of her family members by U.S. troops went public, the age of the rape victim had been in dispute, ranging from about 15 to 25.

Two days ago, Reuters and others news agencies produced proof that she was 14, based on a passport and identity card. Most news organizations then started calling her a girl -- but some persist in referring to her as a "woman."

The girl was apparently born August 19, 1991. Yet a widely published AP story today by Robert H. Reid repeatedly referred to the girl, whose last name was al-Janabi, as a “young Iraqi woman" and later again as a "woman." The story was in reference to the gag order being requested by attorneys for Steven D. Green, an ex-soldier who is one of the men charged with the rape and murders. It begins: "An al-Qaida-linked group posted a Web video today purporting to show the mutilated bodies of two Fort Campbell soldiers, claiming it killed them in revenge for the rape-slaying of a young Iraqi woman by American troops from the same unit."

A separate AP story today by Juan Lozano, on the soldiers' families defending them, also refers to the girl as a "young woman." Another Reid story later in the day on suicide bombings also used "young Iraqi woman."In Tuesday's Washington Post, an article by Joshua Partlow refers to the teen as an “Iraqi woman.” USA Today featured the AP "young woman" story. The CNN site called the victim a "young female" and a "woman." A CNN report aired Tuesday by Nic Robertson continued to refer to the child as a "young woman." So did the BBC.

Jim Lehrer on his PBS "NewsHour" last night referred to her a "woman." At the CBS News site today, a joint CBS/AP story uses "young woman." The Houston Chronicle goes with "young Iraqi woman" in an article by James Pinkerton for Wednesday's edition.

Yet a full day earlier, and again today, The New York Times was calling her a "girl." The Los Angeles Times on Tuesday referred to her as a "teenage Iraqi" and later as a "teen." Bloomberg used "girl" and McClatchy's dispatch chose "teenager." Reuters simply stated her age: 14.

Other stories continue to offer caveats, claiming that the age of the young victim was “in dispute.” The Reid AP story referred to an FBI affidavit concerning Green’s charges, which estimated al-Janabi to be about 25. The article went on to say that “a doctor at the Mahmoudiya hospital gave her age as 14. He refused to be identified for fear of reprisals.” The AP story does not mention the Reuters release of al-Janabi’s passport and the other supporting documents.

Bush to Request Another $110 Billion for Iraq

Well, gosh, we see how well the other half trillion Bush has (mis)spent there has been used. We can only guess that Halliburton needs new furniture for its lobby.

GOPer: Taking Care of a Sick Immigrant Child "Helping New Generation of Terrorists"

Here's a run-down of the intelligence of the "new" GOP, a la Think Progress:

A Treasury Department analysis “presented in the Mid-Session Review itself confirms what outside experts have consistently said - tax cuts do not come remotely close to paying for themselves.”

Conservatives are outraged that a strict new immigration bill in Colorado still allows children of undocumented immigrants to receive public assistance like food and healthcare: “We’re helping create the next generation of terrorists,” said Rep. Debbie Stafford, R-Aurora.

Spencer Ackerman on the Pentagon’s claim that U.S. military detainees are now protected by the Geneva Conventions: “The very obvious loophole is what will happen to detainees outside of
U.S. military custody — as in CIA custody, such as the so-called ‘black sites,’ where Geneva is a sick joke.”

Michael Savage: “Liberalism is, in essence, the HIV virus.”

Nothing Like Constructive Criticism: Justice Department to Senate Judiciary Committee: "The President is Always Right!"

Nothing more valuable than fawning praise instead of constructive criticism, eh?

From Think Progress:

The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday heard testimony from Steven Bradbury, head of the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel. When questioned by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on whether the President’s interpretation of the Hamdan case was right or wrong, Bradbury replied, “The President is always right.” Watch it:

Mumbai (Formerly Bombay) Death Count Now Over 200

I'm sure the results of the explosions yesterday will go higher.

Dept of Homeland Security's Target List Ridiculous

So an old petting zoo in fucking who'd-want-to-hit-it-Huntsville Alabama and a doughnut shop are in the DHS "big target" database, but not NY's Time Square, the Empire State Building, or the Statue of Liberty?

And a huge amount of our tax dollars goes to these jokers? Fucking ridiculous.

The Media Spins the Israel-Lebanon Story

I just heard Brian Williams state, quite erroneously, at the opening of the NBC Nightly News that Israel, for the first time in 6 years, crossed the border into Lebanon. Not true!

In the last several years, Israeli forces have been found across the border in Lebanon many times (just read the press outside this country. Israel is not one to respect borders.

Granted, this is supposedly to find two soldiers reported captured by Hezbollah, but one questions whether those soldiers were in Lebanon (in violation) when they were taken.

For all the talk about Israeli soldiers, closing in on 100 Palestinians, mostly civilians and a large number of women and children, have been killed just in the past week or so (the first Israeli soldier was taken about 2.5 weeks ago. Israeli took out Gaza's only power plant more than two weeks ago, making life there far more a struggle to survive. Of the 23 Palestinians killed in the last 24 hours, 7 of them were children.

I respect Israel's right to exist (of course!). It's time the power structure in Israel do what many and probably by far most normal Israelis already do: respect the Palestinians right to exist. For all the talk about the evils of having Hamas be the ruling party in the Palestinian region, I'd say there is equally a terrorist organization in charge of Israel: the legacy of Ariel Sharon and the Likkud Party.

Alterman Labels Bob Novak Traitor to His Country And His Profession

One has to ask the question why - oh why - is this president's administration time and again proven to be in bed with people who act as traitors to this country. Novak. Murdoch. Perle. DeLay. Judy Miller. The Rev. Moon. Ken Lay. Jack Abramoff. Ahmed Chalabi. A.Q. Khan. The list goes on and on.

From Eric Alterman's column today on Novak:

On a historical note, Novak’s most consequential story before this one was the one that sunk George McGovern’s 1972 candidacy in which he quoted one of the senator’s Democratic colleagues as insisting that his campaign stood for “the three As: acid, abortion and amnesty.” The quote wouldn’t have mattered had it come from Nixon, but the fact that it was sourced to a Democratic senator, made the charge stick, as incredibly unfair as it was to bona fide prairie liberal and heroic World War II fighter pilot. Almost everyone familiar with the incident believed the source was Henry “Scoop” Jackson. But McGovern told me that he asked Jackson and the man swore it was not so. And if it were Jackson, then Novak’s pledge of confidentiality would have been released when he died. But Novak still will not reveal his source. We know he does reveal his sources when it suits his purposes; not only to Mr. Fitzgerald but also in the case of the former FBI agent Robert Hanssen, after Hanssen was arrested for spying. Why? Because, Novak wrote, "To be honest to my readers, I must reveal it.

Rumsfeld's Military: Gays Must Go, But It Your Agenda is Hate, Welcome to a Career in This Man's Army

Following up on my post yesterday about the Southern Poverty Law Center's report about how neo-Nazis, skinheads, and white supremacist groups are encouraging members to join the military for "free" violence training, let me point you to a piece in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Homosexuals in the military have long had to deal with a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Gays and lesbians are shown the door the second their sexual orientation is known.

The military has been consistently ruthless in this regard, even when it meant thinning the ranks of capable translators and intelligence operators for an inconsequential factor like sexual identity.

But when it comes to the Pentagon's zero-tolerance policy for hate groups, recruiters appear more committed to making monthly quotas than ensuring the values of a racially diverse military. While the Iraq war grows more unpopular, recruiting shortfalls have allowed undesirables to fill the ranks.

Sensing an opportunity for mischief, white supremacists are enlisting and volunteering for battle assignments so they can get training in light infantry tactics they'll need for what they see as the coming race war in America. According to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, large numbers of neo-Nazis and white supremacist skinheads, possibly in the thousands, are on active duty in the U.S. military.

When a Defense Department investigator positively identified 320 racist extremists in the past year, only two were discharged, according to The New York Times. This reflects a "see no evil, hear no evil" stance by the military in a time of recruitment shortfalls.
The military's position - but, of course! - is that this is NO problem. Well, I think it's a big problem. You?