What Happens When the Whoremaster Beats the Whores Who Serve Him

That whoremaster, of course, being Bush's brain Karl Rove, and the happy whores being most of the mainstream journalists assigned to the White House or similar beats. Now that the whoremaster doesn't need his stable of sluts as much, he can happily slap them silly.

From the wires:

WASHINGTON - Presidential adviser Karl Rove said Saturday that journalists often criticize political professionals because they want to draw attention away from the "corrosive role" their own coverage plays in politics and government.

"Some decry the professional role of politics, they would like to see it disappear," Rove told graduating students at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. "Some argue political professionals are ruining American politics — trapping candidates in daily competition for the news cycle instead of long-term strategic thinking in the best interest of the country."

But Rove turned that criticism on journalists.

"It's odd to me that most of these critics are journalists and columnists," he said. "Perhaps they don't like sharing the field of play. Perhaps they want to draw attention away from the corrosive role their coverage has played focusing attention on process and not substance."

Rove told about 100 graduates trained to be political operatives that they should respect the instincts of the American voter.

"There are some in politics who hold that voters are dumb, ill informed and easily misled, that voters can be manipulated by a clever ad or a smart line," said Rove, who is credited with
President Bush's victories in the 2000 and 2004 elections. "I've seen this cynicism over the years from political professionals and journalists. American people are not policy wonks, but they have great instincts and try to do the right thing."

Rove said it is "wrong to underestimate the intelligence of the American voter, but easy to overestimate their interest. Much tugs at their attention."

Gatlin, World's "Fastest Man", Tests Positive for Drugs

Some of our athletes are clean and free of performance-enhancing drugs, right?

If not in the professional area, perhaps PopWarner softball?

The Crisis in Lebanon and Israel, Day: 17 Too Frickin' Many

Blogging from Jerusalem:

Scenes from a War Zone and The Numbers Continue to Grow.

Also, Israel pulls troops and equipment out of a (former?) Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon.

An Answer to Diana M. Daniels "A Letter to Hugo Chavez" in WaPo

Dear Ms. Daniels:

I read with interest your letter to Venezualan leader Hugo Chavez. As I did, I couldn't help but notice that some of the same complaints you infer about Chavez certainly fit the Bush Administration and Bush himself like a glove!

Mind you, I'm no fan of Chavez. I have read of many positive things he has done yet I am also deeply troubled by others. While those I know who have visited Venezuela speak highly of the services available to the poor and I know Chavez certainly helped some of the Northeast through a winter of brutal heating prices, I can't quite bring myself to "buy" the packaging.

You write of temper tantrums by Mr. Chavez. How about those of Mr. Bush? His temper tantrums can torment the entire world.

Lip service to democracy? Yoohoo! Have you seen the folks in the White House? They've jeopardized the veracity of voting, they talk "freedom" while threatening the press for doing any type of investigative journalism, and they mention how our soldiers fight for freedom while they take every possible dollar, good, or service away from them.

As for representing the will of the people, I remind you that everytime a majority of the public voices an opinion opposed to him, Mr. Bush calls them "focus groups" or says, "I'm the decider and you're not".

Be careful about those stones with glass houses, Ma'am.


Katharine Chase

Care to See How the House Voted on Estate or "Death" Tax Relief Bundled with Minimum Wage?

Find it here.

Crawford, Texas: You Get the Good with the Bad


Crawford liked it well enough when they profited by having the country's first illiterate president living on a pretend ranch there. And Cindy Sheehan, by far, is not the only one to ever stage a protest there.

So excuse me if my sympathies aren't with South Bumfuck, Texas.

Bush's New Bill to Handle Terrorist Detainees

From what I've read - not just at the Washington Post or Boston Globe either - this bill is just as bad as what's been in place before and speaks very badly of rules and laws we hold dear (or did before Bush-Cheney decided to scare everyone all the time). I don't see how this will stand up, considering the latest decision by the Supreme Court in the Hamdan case:

U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early version of the bill.

A 32-page draft measure is intended to authorize the Pentagon's tribunal system, established shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks to detain and prosecute detainees captured in the war on terror. The tribunal system was thrown out last month by the Supreme Court.

Administration officials, who declined to comment on the draft, said the proposal was still under discussion and no final decisions had been made.

Senior officials are expected to discuss a final proposal before the Senate Armed Services Committee next Wednesday.

According to the draft, the military would be allowed to detain all "enemy combatants" until hostilities cease. The bill defines enemy combatants as anyone "engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners who has committed an act that violates the law of war and this statute."

Legal experts said Friday that such language is dangerously broad and could authorize the military to detain indefinitely U.S. citizens who had only tenuous ties to terror networks like al Qaeda.

"That's the big question ... the definition of who can be detained," said Martin Lederman, a law professor at Georgetown University who posted a copy of the bill to a Web blog.

Scott L. Silliman, a retired Air Force Judge Advocate, said the broad definition of enemy combatants is alarming because a U.S. citizen loosely suspected of terror ties would lose access to a civilian court -- and all the rights that come with it. Administration officials have said they want to establish a secret court to try enemy combatants that factor in realities of the battlefield and would protect classified information.

It May Be Summer, But There's a Big Chill Between U.S. and Europe

Story here. In summary, it's that the relationship between Europe and the U.S., finally thawing after so many years of chilliness during the Bush years, has now gone into the deep freeze again over Bush's unqualified support for Israel's actions against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Somalian Riots

After one of their officials was killed, Somalis took to the streets to riot. If you haven't heard, Somalia and Ethiopia are headed into one very nasty, bloody war.

Iran Forbids Use of Foreign Words

Yeah, it's stupid when the president of a country does this type of thing. But before anyone laughs too hard, let's not forget "freedom fries" and "freedom toast" and how the FCC wants to enforce huge fines for saying "naughty" words when the president lets "shit" hit the fan at the G8 Summit. Beyond that, there is this great spin on words placed by the Bushies. It's no brighter when Americans do this crap.

From WaPo:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered government and cultural bodies to use modified Persian words to replace foreign words that have crept into the language, such as "pizzas" which will now be known as "elastic loaves," state media reported Saturday.

The presidential decree, issued earlier this week, orders all governmental agencies, newspapers and publications to use words deemed more appropriate by the official language watchdog, the Farhangestan Zaban e Farsi, or Persian Academy, the Irna official news agency reported.

The academy has introduced more than 2,000 words as alternatives for some of the foreign words that have become commonly used in Iran, mostly from Western languages. The government is less sensitive about Arabic words, because the Quran is written in Arabic.
Among other changes, a "chat" will become a "short talk" and a "cabin" will be renamed a "small room," according to official Web site of the academy.

When Do We Hold Them Accountable?

As I sit here reading and listening to the palaver of "all" Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will supposedly accomplish when she returns to the Middle East next week, I can't be the only American or world citizen for that matter who wonders why the hell she didn't accomplish the job last week, when she was originally sent over and when the Bushies had already taken their sweet Texas time bothering to address the bloodshed in Lebanon and the more limited number of casualties in Israel.

Israel told the world in the last few days that they have a "green light" for everything they are doing. Since Israel is really only talking to the U.S., one has to believe the green light is coming from Bush and Rice. Or Israel is lying. I suspect it's a little of both.

But let me note the reaction published in Salon and reposted at Blah3 from American chef, Anthony Bourdain, who happened to be in Beirut filming a program for the Travel Channel when all hell broke loose when Israel began to attack. Notice what he says about Mr. Bush's behavior in that open mile moment with Tony Blair at the G8 Summit:

    What is clear -- as far as we're concerned -- from all sources is that there is no official, announced plan. No real advice, or information, or public exit strategy or timetable. The news clip of President Bush, chawing open-mouthed on a buttered roll, then grabbing at another while Tony Blair tries to get him to focus on Lebanon -- plays over and over on the TV, crushing our spirits and dampening all hope with every glassy-eyed mouthful. He seems intent on enjoying his food; Lebanon a tiny, annoying blip on an otherwise blank screen. I can't tell you how depressing that innocuous bit of footage is to watch. That one, innocent, momentary preoccupation with a roll has a devastating effect on us that is out of all proportion. We're looking for signs. And this, sadly, is all we have.
Sad indeed. Sadder still are some of the letters written to Salon suggesting that the Beruit residents that Bourdain meets somehow deserve what they got.

Seattle Slaying by Muslim Man Front Page News in Israel and Middle East

While it's certainly been covered a great deal here, this story is much bigger in Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East because of its racial angle:

lone gunman burst into a Jewish organization in downtown Seattle on Friday, killing one woman and wounding five others in what authorities were calling a hate crime.

The gunman, Naveed Afzal Haq, 31, was arrested without a struggle at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, where the shooting took place. He was later charged by Seattle police with one count of murder and five counts of attempted murder.

Haq is a U.S. citizen, police said, and their initial conversation with him by phone while he was inside the building indicated that he was a Muslim.

Police would not disclose the content of the conversation, but Amy Wasser-Simpson, the federation's vice president, told the Seattle Times in a story on its Web site the man got past security at the building and shouted, "I'm a Muslim American; I'm angry at Israel," before he began shooting.

"This was a purposeful, hateful act as far as we know, by an individual acting alone," said Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels at a news conference, adding "This is a crime of hate."

Authorities said they were "taking every precaution" in searching for explosives and additional suspects and were monitoring the city's synagogues and Jewish organizations.

More Accidental Shootings in South Lebanon

Reported at Blah3:

…in southern Lebanon. Again a convoy of civilians fleeing with international media right on the spot:
    …two mortar rounds hit a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians escaping the violence in southern Lebanon. The BBC's Jim Muir, who was with the convoy, said two people in a German TV vehicle were wounded when the rounds exploded next to their car.

    The convoy, organised by the Australian embassy, was returning to the port city of Tyre from the border village of Rmeish, where hundreds of people have been trapped by the Israeli offensive. Our correspondent says the cars were clearly marked as a press and civilian convoy, and that individual journalists had been in contact with the Israelis who knew about the journey.

    Meanwhile, the US state department has claimed to be ‘outraged’ by the suggestion that the Israeli bombing of Lebanon continues with the approval of the world: Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon made the suggestion after powers meeting in Rome refrained from demanding an immediate ceasefire.
The message sent has been understood loud and clear by Israel – I guess the US is outraged not about the claim, but about the fact that Israel has admitted as much publicly!
I remain concerned about some of what I've seen at Haaretz which implies the U.S. is using Israel to begin a much broader and more lethal war.

House Passes Federal Minimum Wage Rate Increase; Poison Pill(s) Still Attached

Well, the House of Reprehensibles did pass a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage but - far, far more hurtful for the federal budget - cut the estate tax (aka "death" tax) so that millionaires and billionaires can pass along their massive fortunes.

This is horrible to tie these two items together.

Progress Toward Peace in Middle East?

Not sure... but perhaps it isn't worsening as it has with each and every passing day.

Hezbollah supposedly has agreed to at least the concept of an international force in Southern Lebanon which is not U.S. dominated or entirely under Israel's thumb (I question whether both of these are possible considering how both players try to rule); Rice says she's encouraged (and I'm rarely encouraged by anything that pleases her).

The Washington Post details how Lebanese christians are taking in Muslims uprooted from their homes in Lebanon by the air and ground attacks from Israel.


Is Someone Giving Israel the Sense That the U.S. Wants Them to Expand This War?

This unnerved me tonight, along with some other posts on Haaretz. What do you think?

Two forces of nature influenced all of Israel's wars: time and America. The two are really one. Time was always pressing. To move quickly to the offensive, to push far into the Arab territories before the world could figure out what was going on, because the moment they figured it out the Security Council would be convened and Israel would be halted and forced to give back the spoils. There was no lack of reasons for the desire to abbreviate the war - to spare lives, to free up the mobilized economy and to end the war with enough supplies in case hostilities resumed quickly - but the supreme imperative was to run as far as possible before the White House waved the black flag. This time, though, it's convenient for Washington to have its Israeli protege whip the ward of the provocative power and even administer a thrashing. The difference, of course, lies in the identity of the adversary - Khomeinist Iran and not communist Russia.

Like Father, Like Sin Son?

From the good people at TPM Muckraker:

Stop it, dad, you're embarrassing me:
    The 81-year-old father of U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman [(R-MN)] was cited for lewd conduct and indecent exposure Tuesday for allegedly having sex in a vehicle with a 38-year-old woman, according to a police report.

    Police responded to a call early Tuesday evening and arrested Norman Bertram Coleman Sr. and the woman, Patrizia Marie Schrag of St. Paul, outside a pizza restaurant on the eastern edge of downtown St. Paul.. . .
Sen. Coleman has often referred to his father, a veteran of the Normandy invasion and the Battle of the Bulge and a former businessman, as one of his personal heroes.
And here's another good little "family values", holier than though GOP Bushie employee:
We were remiss in not linking sooner to this fabulous New York Post piece, by scribes Erin Calabrese and Lauren Elkies:
    A State Department worker cruising down 34th Street with three scantily clad women in what appeared to be a government car with flashing lights collided with a yellow cab last night after allegedly running a red light, police said.
The man -- 26-year-old Jason Giuliani, reportedly a member of State's Diplomatic Security Service -- was armed at the time, according to observers. Before the crash, he was yelling to passers-by, "stay to the right! Stay to the right!" over the loudspeaker of his government-issue Buick LeSabre, as he piloted it west down the eastbound lane.

After the crash, witnesses noted the presence of a cooler in the backseat, and a case of Heineken in the trunk. Before Giuliani was taken away by police, he was caught on videotape handing a "small brown bag" to one of the women, the Post reported.
"Stay to the right?" Eh?

Are Bush and Rumsfeld Playing the Shell Game with U.S. Troops in Iraq

You read this piece from The Times of London and tell me that I'm not seeing, when summarized, a current effort to increase the troop levels in Iraq which will later this year - say, oh, maybe around the time of the November mid-term elections - come home.

Coincidence? The timing is awfully good here - good for the GOP and Bushies, that is. I don't think the troops get much from it.

Shady Dealings

The New York Daily News reports that a significant amount of the money awarded to New York City post-9/11 to pay for cleanup is actually being used to fight claims by first responders like cops and firemen and others regarding health problems suffered as part of the recovery process.

Color me speechless...

Ah, the Imperial Presidency

Must read for the summer: "Conservatives Without Conscience" by John Dean (of Nixon Watergate fame).

Says Dean:

"I am not sure which is more frightening," he adds, "another major terror attack or the response of authoritarian conservatives to that attack."

Uh... Don't Congratulate the GOP for Finally Discussing Mininum Wage Hike Just Yet

Sure, to many of us, the idea that the U.S. would finally look at changing the minimum wage level at the federal level sounded great since it's a measure the GOP has repeatedly denounced even though the prices of everything from coffee to crude oil to electricity have gone way past the roof in the nearly 10 years since this figure was last changed.

But did you hear HOW the GOP is willing to do a minimum wage hike? So far, I've heard of two provisions. One is a provision attached to the bill that forces small business people to provide health care. While I would love to see the health care, no GOP politician is going to vote for the wage hike at the same time they have to sign off on medical care.

The other involves the so-called "death" tax to help make sure Mr. Bush and Paris Hilton will be able to claim more of their parents' money.

The GOP means for this bill to die an ugly death; sadly, it will.

Must Be Nice!

Chevron joins Shell and Exxon/Mobile in boasting record high profits during a period of time when gas prices have never, ever been this high ($3.54/gallon here recently)

Well, Now We Know Where All That "Stay the Course" Talking Points Are Directed Toward

Not only is the military looking to send over 5,000 more troops, as many as another 3,500 already in service will be kept from leaving Iraq.

[Ed. note: quagmire, morass, abyss... what am I forgetting here?]

Lebanon and U.N. Seek Three (3) Day Cease Fire

I second that, but there is no way Israel will agree to it based on their recent conduct. They won't agree to it even if Hezbollah offered to disband (which it won't).

Dean Steps in GOP Doodoo

I like Howard Dean; I truly do.

But to see him wallow in GOP muck by calling Iraq's Prime Minister al-Maliki an anti-Semite because Maliki did not condemn Hezbollah made me first cringe and then get physically ill.

Even if you step away from the GOP-style name-calling, there is this little matter of the #%!(*# fact that Palestinians and many even in Iraq are as Semitic as the Jews. This bit of crap, usually the domain of the brain dead righties, makes me as angry as how the president can't say nuclear.

In the "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport" Department

Would you believe that a 25-member kangaroo preserve is near the top of the Department of Homeland (In)security's terrorist watch list?

The Statue of Liberty, the U.N, and the NY Stock Exchange are not, but a tiny kangaroo preserve and a heck of a lot of land in Republican Indiana are. See a pattern emerging?

The term imbecile comes to mind.

Squandering Resources: What Bush and the Majority GOP Do Best

The numbers in this post from the Ostroy Report hurt (but I heartily approve of the graphic - copied at the right here - which accompanies it):

The real tragedy of the quagmire in Iraq is the effect it's had on the United States' ability to engage its financial, military and political resources elsewhere. Since March 2003, we've squandered $300 billion and 2600 U.S. soldiers' lives on this unjust, poorly planned and ill-fated Bush vanity project. But now with the violence and bloodshed raging out of control in Israel, Lebanon and Gaza, the U.S. appears neutered; unable to effectively inject itself into a dire situation where American diplomacy and perhaps military involvement would normally be a bedrock in the process. In short, we're stuck where we don't belong, and cannot be where we do.

As the need for a multi-nation peacekeeping force in Southern Lebanon becomes paramount towards finding an end to the violence there, the Pentagon has made it clear that U.S. forces are stretched so thin primarily from Iraq that we cannot, unlike in the past, send out troops to participate in this mission.

"As far as boots on the ground, that doesn't seem to be in the cards," said John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. This position was echoed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: "I do not think that it is anticipated that U.S. ground forces . . . are expected for that force."

...That our nation's military resources and assets are so depleted that we cannot afford to send a few thousand troops into Lebanon is shameful. That this troop shortage precludes us from defending an ally and our own interests in the region is both maddening and frightening.

Paul Krugman: "Reign of Error"

The Quintessential Krugman strikes again in The Times with "Reign of Error", courtesy of Rozius:

Amid everything else that’s going wrong in the world, here’s one more piece of depressing news: a few days ago the Harris Poll reported that 50 percent of Americans now believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when we invaded, up from 36 percent in February 2005. Meanwhile, 64 percent still believe that Saddam had strong links with Al Qaeda.

At one level, this shouldn’t be all that surprising. The people now running America never accept inconvenient truths. Long after facts they don’t like have been established, whether it’s the absence of any wrongdoing by the Clintons in the Whitewater affair or the absence of W.M.D. in Iraq, the propaganda machine that supports the current administration is still at work, seeking to flush those facts down the memory hole.

But it’s dismaying to realize that the machine remains so effective.

Here’s how the process works.

First, if the facts fail to support the administration position on an issue — stem cells, global warming, tax cuts, income inequality, Iraq — officials refuse to acknowledge the facts.Sometimes the officials simply lie. “The tax cuts have made the tax code more progressive and reduced income inequality,” Edward Lazear, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, declared a couple of months ago. More often, however, they bob and weave.

Consider, for example, Condoleezza Rice’s response a few months ago, when pressed to explain why the administration always links the Iraq war to 9/11. She admitted that Saddam, “as far as we know, did not order Sept. 11, may not have even known of Sept. 11.” (Notice how her statement, while literally true, nonetheless seems to imply both that it’s still possible that Saddam ordered 9/11, and that he probably did know about it.) “But,” she went on, “that’s a very narrow definition of what caused Sept. 11.”

Meanwhile, apparatchiks in the media spread disinformation. It’s hard to imagine what the world looks like to the large number of Americans who get their news by watching Fox and listening to Rush Limbaugh, but I get a pretty good sense from my mailbag.

Many of my correspondents are living in a world in which the economy is better than it ever was under Bill Clinton, newly released documents show that Saddam really was in cahoots with Osama, and the discovery of some decayed 1980’s-vintage chemical munitions vindicates everything the administration said about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. (Hyping of the munitions find may partly explain why public belief that Saddam had W.M.D. has made a comeback.)

...And what about the perceptions of those who get their news from sources that aren’t de facto branches of the Republican National Committee?

The climate of media intimidation that prevailed for several years after 9/11, which made news organizations very cautious about reporting facts that put the administration in a bad light, has abated. But it’s not entirely gone. Just a few months ago major news organizations were under fierce attack from the right over their supposed failure to report the “good news” from Iraq — and my sense is that this attack did lead to a temporary softening of news coverage, until the extent of the carnage became undeniable. And the conventions of he-said-she-said reporting, under which lies and truth get equal billing, continue to work in the administration’s favor.

Whatever the reason, the fact is that the Bush administration continues to be remarkably successful at rewriting history. For example, Mr. Bush has repeatedly suggested that the United States had to invade Iraq because Saddam wouldn’t let U.N. inspectors in. His most recent statement to that effect was only a few weeks ago. And he gets away with it. If there have been reports by major news organizations pointing out that that’s not at all what happened, I’ve missed them.

It’s all very Orwellian, of course. But when Orwell wrote of “a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past,” he was thinking of totalitarian states. Who would have imagined that history would prove so easy to rewrite in a democratic nation with a free press?
Go here to read the entirety.

In The GOPs Must Be Crazy - Part 2 Department

Bill O'Reilly is almost as grandly delusional as Ann Coulter. And yet, both of them only laugh at their "devoted fans" and sell them more nonsense; these chumps have NO idea that these two get rich just goofing on them.

From Media Matters:

Less than one week after falsely claiming that The New York Times' editorial writers are "sitting ... out" the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah because the paper fears alienating its purported liberal Jewish base, Bill O'Reilly appeared to modify his theory during the July 24 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show. As Media Matters for America noted, the Times had already written three editorials on the subject when O'Reilly made his original claim on July 19. On the July 24 Radio Factor, O'Reilly modified his claim, stating that the Times was "basically sitting ... out" [emphasis added] the issue. Apparently to support his claim, O'Reilly read a portion of a July 18 Times editorial, which he deemed "just garbage." Yet during the same day's edition of The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News, O'Reilly repeated his false claim from the previous week, again asserting that The New York Times was "absolutely sitting [the conflict] out editorially." In fact, the Times has now published four editorials on the current conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

While interviewing Media Research Center president L. Brent Bozell III, O'Reilly stated: "The New York Times is sitting this [conflict] out, absolutely sitting it out editorially. And I believe it's because they don't want to alienate their liberal Jewish base here in New York City. Am I wrong?" In fact, the Times has now run four different editorials on the subject, published on July 13, 15, 18, and 21. In its latest editorial, the Times urged a cease-fire between Lebanon and Israel, a U.N.-backed peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, and the disarming of Hezbollah.

Ann Coulter, Sick Fuck, As Obsessed With Perverted Sex As Rick Santorum

Ann really HAS lost it this time. From Media Matters:

On MSNBC, Coulter called Gore a "total fag," while Matthews said "we'd love to have her back"

On the July 27 edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews asked Ann Coulter, "How do you know that Bill Clinton is gay?" -- referring to her comment the night before on CNBC that Clinton "show[s] some level of latent homosexuality." Coulter responded, "I don't know if he's gay. But Al Gore -- total fag." Coulter then went on to defend her theory about Clinton by stating that "everyone has always known, widely promiscuous heterosexual men have, as I say, a whiff of the bathhouse about them."
Ann would know any of this how?

No. Please don't tell me. I have a vague interest in dinner and anything Coulter-esque will ruin my appetite. TYVM

Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez Actually Makes His Predecessor, John Ashcroft, Look Good

I dunno about anything making the loon/goon Ashcroft good, even Alberto Gonzalez, but I otherwise agree with Ruth Marcus in "Ashcroft Nostalgia"; you really read it ALL :

Alberto Gonzales is achieving something remarkable, even miraculous, as attorney general: He is making John Ashcroft look good.

I was no fan of President Bush's first attorney general, who may be best remembered for holding prayer breakfasts with department brass, hiding the bare-breasted statue in the Great Hall of Justice behind an $8,000 set of drapes, and warning darkly that those who differed with administration policy were giving aid to terrorists.

But as I watched Gonzales testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, it struck me: In terms of competence (the skill with which he handles the job) and character (willingness to stand up to the president), Gonzales is enough to make you yearn for the good old Ashcroft days.

...There is no polite way to put this: Gonzales doesn't seem to have an adequate grasp of what's happening in his own department or much influence in setting administration policy.

Asked about House-passed legislation that would bar Justice from enforcing a year-old law requiring trigger locks on newly sold handguns, Gonzales said he was "not aware of" the dispute. Asked about his department's prosecutions of corrupt Border Patrol agents (described in a front-page story in this newspaper), Gonzales said he would "have to get back to you."

And when Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) inquired whether the administration supported reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act as passed by the House, Gonzales didn't seem empowered to give him a straight answer -- though the Judiciary Committee was set to take up the measure that afternoon. "I don't know if I'm in a position to state that as an administration we're going to support that," Gonzales said.

Gonzales as witness is a maddening exercise in jello-nailing. "I'm going to move on and accept your non-answer, because I don't think I'm going to get anything more on that subject, and perhaps nothing more on the next subject," Specter told Gonzales after a fruitless line of questioning about whether Justice was -- as the attorney general had said in May -- considering prosecuting journalists for publishing leaks.

The Passion of the Mel (for Alcohol)

Being a messenger of God must be tough. That has to be the explanation why Mel Gibson would be arrested for driving under the influence, known as DUI or DWI to most.

Uh huh!

In The GOPs Must Be Crazy - Part 1 Department

Talk about fiddling while Rome burns, although in this case, it's Condi-kins Chopsticks While Lebabon Explodes. Notice that she even makes evil, nasty faces at the sheet music, just like it's a foreign leader, a member of Congress, or anyone who questions her husband...er, president!

A few members of the press have actually been courageous enough to suggest that Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of State, should have kept her focus better on the Middle East crisis rather than worrying about tickling the ivories. But what's closing in on 1,000 Lebanese and 60 Israeli deaths when Condi wants to play! Now Condi is going back to the Middle East. What for? To buy shoes or play some more Randy Newman?

And speaking of warped priorities, Mr. Bush missed part of his 14-hour nap errr... "leadership" needed to resolve the situation between Israel, Lebanon, and Hezbollah so that he could play host to "American Idol" winners and runners-up. Isn't that just special?

And Speaking Of a Possible Lead-Up to a Much BIGGER War...

Joseph A. Palermo writes at Huffington Post:

“The Longer The US Allows This War To Continue To Escalate, The Greater Likelihood Of It Sparking An Even Bigger War”…
Meanwhile, al Qaeda declares a Holy War (ah, their silly jihads) against Israel (and they don't like us much either) for its bombing of both Hezbollah and civilian targets in Lebanon.

And exactly how is this conflict sitting in the Arab world? Not well, according to most sources except Condi Rice and Georgie Porgie Bush. Arab leaders not only called for an immediate cease fire themselves nearly two weeks ago, they appealed directly to Bush to involve himself enough to demand a cease fire. Apparently since Bush no longer needed them to help buy votes for himself, Bush ignored them.

Elsewhere, Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog points us to this:
Marc Lynch, who has been watching lots of Arab TV, says the mood in the Middle East has changed considerably over the past two weeks:
    America is totally alone on this. And more than most Americans might realize, America is being blamed for Israel's actions. The shift in Arab public discourse over the last week has been palpable. For the first few days, [there was a] split between the Saudi media and the "al-Jazeera public" which I wrote about at the time. Then for a few days, horror at the humanitarian situation, fury with the Arab states for their impotence, speculation about the endgame, and full-throated condemnation of Israeli aggression. But for the last few days, the main trend has been unmistakable: an increasing focus on the United States as the villain of the piece. (That the Israeli bombing of Beirut stopped just long enough for Condoleezza Rice's photo op certainly didn't help.)

Israel Claims It Has Approval From Entire World For Its Actions

In a "taking liberties with the truth" the likes of which only the Bushies have ever taken such wild abandon, Israel claims it has received a "green light" from the entire International community for its actions in Lebanon, purportedly only against Hezbollah.

This is so far from reality it might almost be something Ann Coulter wrote or Rush Limbaugh spoke on-air.

From the (London) Telegraph:

Israel has interpreted the international community's refusal to demand an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East as an indication of worldwide support for its assault on Hizbollah.

Haim Ramon, the country's justice minister, made the claim after the so-called core group of advisers on Lebanon ended a meeting in Rome yesterday without demanding an unconditional end to the violence.

America, Israel's leading ally on the international stage, has been the strongest opponent of demands that Israel lay down its arms.
Uh... the only one who thinks he speaks not only FOR God but as the imperial monarch of the entire rest of the world is George W. Bush; if that's what Israel is banking on, then they are even more deluded than Bush is.

On Day 17 of the Israeli Campaign Against Hezbollah in Lebanon: Why We Can't Let This Continue

Yes, we're already into the 17th day since Israel began to make Lebanon look like New Orleans after Bush's FEMA "helped" the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

And, just as Mr. Bush's wars on Afghanistan and Iraq have made al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist organizations stronger and served almost as a recruitment campaign for terrorism and insurgencies, Israel's actions are strengthening Hezbollah rather than crushing it. This isn't just me stating this: so too has Richard Armitage, Bush's former #2 man at the State Department (and hardly a dove); so has Bill Clinton; so have too many others to be discounted.

Bill (not Hillary) Clinton said in a Canadian Press interview that Israel has gone too far and that a cease-fire MUST be worked out (he said by Western leaders) now. Kofi Annan said roughly the same thing before Israel decided to make a point by bombing a U.N. observation post on the Lebanese border with Israel for 6-10 hours on Tuesday.

And here's Armitage, in a post at Think Progress:

Richard Armitage dramatically broke ranks with his neoconservative allies yesterday, saying in a radio interview that he feared it was impossible to eliminate Hezbollah through airstrikes, and that by attempting to do so, “you’re going to end up empowering Hezbollah, and perhaps introducing an element into the body politic in Lebanon that will take some great period of time to recover from.” Armitage also criticized the Bush administration for refusing to talk directly to Syria.

According to a database search, no major media outlets have yet printed Armitage’s remarks. Listen:

Israel and The Deaths It Caused in Airstrikes on U.N. Facility

Holden at First Draft, in a post aptly titled, "You Would Think They Have Something to Hide", offers us some salient background information on Israel's 6-10 hour long air attack on a U.N. observer post in Southern Lebanon on Tuesday.

As you may recall, Israel angrily denies it attacked deliberately despite some strong evidence that IDF (Israeli Defense Force) was notified repeatedly before and during the engagement and that the building was clearly marked and long established. Yes, Israel could get huffy, but when U.N. chief Kofi Annan said this was no accident, Israel denounced him; at the same time, the rabid right wing in this country mounted a disinformation campaign to make the U.N. seem culpable in an attack against them. I know about the disinfo campaign first hand because I have more than 300 emails from the rabid righties.

Here's the beef, as presented by Holden:

Israel, the next OJ. I'm sure they won't rest until they find the killers.

    [Israel's U.N. ambassador] Dan Gillerman also said Israel would not allow the United Nations to join in an investigation of an Israeli airstrike that demolished a post belonging to the current U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. Four U.N. observers were killed in the Tuesday strike.
    Meanwhile, the wife of the Canadian soldier who is missing and presumed dead in the attack lashes out.

    The wife of a Canadian observer who was killed when an Israeli jet attacked a United Nations post in Lebanon blamed Israel on Thursday for the incident and said its forces had been firing on the spot for weeks.

    Major Paeta Derek Hess-von Kruedener is presumed dead, although his body has yet to be found. Three other U.N. observers -- from China, Austria and Finland -- died in the border post in Tuesday's attack.

    "Why did they bomb the U.N. site? In my opinion those are precision-guided missiles (so) then that it is intentional," his wife Cynthia told reporters at an army base in Kingston, Ontario. Her comments were carried by CBC television.

    Israel denies its forces deliberately targeted the UN site. The United Nations says it asked Israel a dozen times to stop bombing near the post in the hours before the attack.

    "And that wasn't the only day they were firing on that base. My information from him (the major) is that week upon week they had been firing on there, bombing near it," said Hess-von Kruedener.


    "That was their duty. They were U.N. observers. The building was clearly marked, the vehicles were clearly marked, they're clearly marked as U.N. observers. So why were they (the Israelis) firing on that base?" said Hess-von Kruedener.

100 Days and Counting

As Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) reminded me in an email this morning, there is only about 100 days before the November mid-term elections which will likely be far more critical to the future of the U.S. and the world than most such voting events.

While the Dems have often disappointed, I believe there is a serious difference between disappointment and the rape, pillage, plunder, cheat, steal, and corruption with which the GOP as practiced by George Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill Frist, Tom DeLay, Denny Hastert, Grover Norquist, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, Ken Mehlman, and last but sadly not lease, Newt Gingrich (let's call the Middle East mess World War III and then use it as a marketing tool to win in November!!!) has visited on this nation and the world.

We need every sane vote and voter come November. This means you. If you aren't registered to vote, please do so ASAP. If there is any chance you will be away from home on the first Tuesday in November, get your absentee ballot and then get it returned. If you know people who are not registered to vote, encourage them to make themselves voters.

Why Bother to Send Rice Back to Middle East for More Negotiations?

Probably no other American would like to see a successful end to violence in Israel, Lebanon (both among civilians and Hezbollah loyalists), and Gaza more than I would. But here's why I think it's really foolish to send Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice back:

  1. She went there late Sunday with a pre-conceived notion of what she would do (which amounted to less than nothing and man, did she accomplish just that)
  2. She was in the Middle East for just a few days, seeming to be in a rush to "delight" others by giving a piano recital to her guests; I don't really want to pay for her to play piano when that's NOT what she's supposed to do; if she plays piano like she does her job, God help those who had to listen
  3. She and Bush do NOT want a cease-fire so she really has nothing to bring to the table except to make some people angrier because she coddles the Israeli politicians and snubs others, like Syria
  4. She's incompetent and ineffective; send someone with some gravitas and less beholden to Bush

And Still They Spy

I think we already know this, but the ACLU reports the Bushies are spying on anti-war groups.

Putting Distance Between Themselves and Bush

Heh - in this piece from The Hill, Jonathan Allen discusses how far GOP candidates and incumbents need to stay from Bush so that the president doesn't become a serious liability for them in November's mid-term elections.

Hey, if they hung on him before, they should hang on him now.. and go down with his leaky ship.

Death Toll in Israel-Lebanon-Hezbollah Conflict

We're now at over 600 dead with most of these in Lebanon.

Has Nationalism Blinded the Jewish State into a Campaign Against Hezbollah in Lebanon Doomed to Fail?

My answer to that, given what I know, is yes. I think that tied into this is a memory of how Ariel Sharon used to bulldoze through neighboring countries with some success. Added to this is the way Bush has behaved toward anyone he believes is an enemy (and he's been kind of evil toward friends and allies, too!) and how Bush has an excuse for every atrocity committed.

John Barry presents a reasoned opinion piece in Newsweek that tackles this question in some depth. You may want to follow this up with a Q&A, Israel's Next Step.

After Israeli Attack Kills Four, U.N. Pulls Border Observers

With grave concerns that more strikes against its people might occur, the UN has pulled those who observe the border between Lebanon and Israel:

The United Nations has decided to remove 50 unarmed observers from their posts along the Israeli-Lebanese border, moving them in with the peacekeeping force in the area, a spokesman said Friday.

The decision came after one of the posts of the observer force, known as UNTSO, was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike earlier this week, killing four.

"These are unarmed people and this is for their protection," said Milos Struger, a spokesman for UNIFIL, the peacekeeping force whose 2,000 members have light weapons for self-defense.
I can't blame them. But I do blame Israeli military officials who ordered attacks on the facility with the express purpose, I imagine, of getting the U.N. out of there. Israel has done this before and so has the U.S. - it's reprehensible and the deaths were so unnecessary.

And please, no more emails telling me that the Israelis were right because Osama bin Laden and Hezbollah "own" or "run" the U.N. If you want to believe such horse manure, man... you may as well have your brain extracted now because you clearly aren't using it.

Blair to Push Bush on Middle East

So Mr. Bush's Brit poodle will jump in his master's lap today, begging not for Liv-a-snaps but for someone better at diplomacy than Condi-kins. Here:

British Prime Minister Tony Blair will seek a U.N. Security Council resolution to resolve the fighting in the Middle East when he arrives in the United States to meet with President Bush on Friday, his spokesman said.

Blair will attempt to “increase the urgency” of diplomacy to end the violence between Israel and Hezbollah when he meets Bush in Washington, his spokesman told reporters on board Blair’s plane. He spoke on customary condition of anonymity.

Bush and Blair come together at the White House as consultations continue on a possible international peacekeeping force to stabilize the more than 2-week-old situation and supplement the Lebanese army. State Department counselor Philip Zelikow is working in Brussels with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and there were plans for meetings at the United Nations.
Will it work?

Nyah. Not unless Israel wants an exit, which they may although probably not quite yet, not if they've called up 30,000 reservists. But Bush isn't going to back down.

In The "It's the Economy, Stupid!" Department

Remember how over the past couple of weeks, Mr. Bush has been out pounding his chest to take credit for a lower-than-predicted deficit (but based on his own fudged numbers) and the great, robust economy?

Well, now everyone pretty much recognizes that - through slow job growth, house sales waaaay down, consumer confidence somewhere in the sub-basement, et al - the economy has stagnated and inflation is creeping upward.

Think Bush will take credit for this? Heh.

Bechtel Screws the Pooch; Now it's a Mess

Wasn't Donald Rumsfeld with Bechtel before he became Secretary of Defense?

Well, this is one hell of an expensive Iraqi "model" project they fouled up. And I can't say I noticed much in the way of penalty.


Landis Tour de France Win in Question: Too Much Testosterone

Maybe it's just a false positive test that has super-biker Landis (American) in the spotlight after his Tour de France win this last week.

But considering his win comes on top of all of Lance Armstrong's wins of the same race and, no, I don't believe that Armstrong was ever fully and accurately cleared... well, it does stinketh a bit.

It also leaves the entire world to believe that with sports pros like Sammy Sosa, McGreevey, Barry Bonds and others using sufficiently to break all records, that this is the American life: cheat hard!

The Bush Administration: Good at Dishing and Imprisoning, Very Bad at Facing the Music

Oh dear, my heart just bleeds! (Now that is sarcasm.)

The Bush Administration is now very, very concerned that the detainees they wrongly imprisoned and arrogantly kept under cover seek solace - and arrests - from the courts in light of the Supreme Court's Hamden case where the Supremes butch-slapped Gonzalez and Bush, among others.

Israel Says It Won't Expand Ground Offensive

Is it perhaps because Israel sustained such large losses in the past two days? And yet Israel has ordered up 30,000 men and women to shift from reservist to active duty.

Meanwhile, we hear the Palestinian leader is working on the release of an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldier taken a few weeks ago while

Anatomy of the U.N. Attack in Lebanon by Israeli Forces

Uh huh. I wish there was not so much spin necessary in the presentation of even the simplest of facts.

Newsweek: Palestinians Do a Double-Take on Nesrallah and Hezbollah

[Ed. note: (singing) "You say Hizbollah and I say Hezbollah.You say freedom fighter and I say terrorist...Let's call the whole thing off!"]

Newsweek reports that in light of the bombings sent by Hezbollah to northern towns and cities of Israel, coupled with the massive airstrikes by Israel against Lebanon, Palestinians are reassessing their view of Nesrallah, leader of Hezbollah.

Personally, if I were Israelis, I'd be reassessing Olmert & Company and heavens to betsy (how prim! how proper!), America should certainly be looking long and hard at the Bushies!).

The Bushies Put Words in the Iraqi Prime Minister's Mouth

Nope, no surprise here either! But it is ironic considering how the Bushies keep telling us it is wrong to consider Iraq's leaders as merely puppets of the U.S.

From The Carpetbagger Report:

Who wrote Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's speech before a joint meeting of Congress yesterday? It's probably safe to say the wordsmiths at the Bush White House had a hand in the writing. It's also worth remembering that this wouldn't be the first time.

To be sure, Maliki stuck to the points the administration and congressional Republicans wanted to hear. He told lawmakers that Iraq is the "front line" in the fight against terrorism; he vowed to make Iraq an "active player" in the security and stability of the Middle East; and he insisted that "Iraqis are your allies in the war on terror."

It prompted Slate's Fred Kaplan to wonder if the Bush gang wrote the speech. His conclusion? Probably.
    Maliki's speech, which he must have read half-ashamed, half-relieved that almost nobody back home would be listening. It was a speech right out of George W. Bush's playbook. It painted the war in Iraq as a struggle between democracy and terrorism. "Iraq is free," he said, "and the terrorists cannot stand this." Those who killed thousands of Americans on Sept. 11 are "the same terrorists" as those killing innocent Iraqis today. "Iraqis are your allies in the war on terror," and Iraq is this war's "front line." […]

    Did Bush aides write the speech? White House spokesman Tony Snow said at his daily press conference that there had been "conversations about the speech" ahead of time –from which one could reasonably infer that they engaged, at least, in heavy editing.
When Snow was asked whether White House officials had advised the prime minister on what to say, Snow said, "I think the word 'advise' is a little strong. We have seen copies of it."

Long-time readers may recall that this wouldn't be the first time the Bush gang intervened to write a speech for an Iraqi prime minister.

Too Late for Empire?

Bush and Cheney certainly don't think so.

Thirty years after Watergate, we again face a constitutional crisis at home and a misconceived war abroad. Jonathan Schell argues that the United States will remain a helpless giant until we finally learn that power in the nuclear, postimperial age is diplomatic, not military.

The Nation: Anger in the Arab World

I'm just positive Mr. Bush is in no way responsible (remember: he's not responsible for anything unless it's good, of course) for such feelings of hostility. ::choke:: Not even because he's never met a Muslim country he wouldn't like to attack. ::gag::


At best, war in Gaza and Lebanon will weaken pro-American regimes without destroying Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran or Syria. At worst, Rashid Khalidi warns, it will be a regional catastrophe.

Don't You Just Love, Love, LOVE It When the GOP and Bin Laden's Al Qaeda Get Together to Coordinate Talking Points for Next Election?

No, that headline only sounds bitter and sarcastic. It's rooted in truth.

Just as bin Laden's message just before the presidential vote in 2004 helped swing the election to Bush (with help from crooked voting machines), apparently Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman are working hard with Zawahiri (who is Osama's #2 much like Bush is Cheney's turd... er #2) and bin Laden to ensure another GOP sweep of votes in the November 2006 mid-term elections.

I wish I was joking but I am not at all certain I am.

Wall Street Dems

As you know, there is no more "one" type of Democrat than there is one type of Republican. Some are more palatable than others, while some really cannot be distinguished from their brethren on the other side of the voting aisle.

With this in mind, take a gander at David Sirota commenting on WaPo's story about Wall Street Dems:

A stunning piece by Washington Post business reporter Steve Pearlstein (attached) today shows that the real agenda of these Big Money insiders is to pretend to care about stagnating wages, slashed pensions, and job outsourcing - but not actually be willing to attack the "free" trade policies that are causing those hardships.

Pearlstein notes the nefariousness of it all, after attending a conference by the so-called "Hamilton Project" - the group of Wall-Street-backed Washington, D.C. Democratic insiders working to crush unions, limit citizens legal rights and, of course, perpetuate our corporate-written trade policy:
    "The problem is that, when you scratch the surface, the free-trade members of the Democratic establishment turn out to be more committed to Part A of the formula, more globalization, than they are to Part B, making sure the benefits from globalization are widely shared. For them, it's really not a package deal.

    And if push comes to shove, which it always does in trade politics, they'd welcome more globalization even without the compensatory social policies. How do I know this? Because they said so. At the conference's closing session, I asked former Treasury secretaries Robert Rubin and Larry Summers and former deputy Treasury secretary Roger Altman if any of them would be willing to support the idea of a "time out" on new free-trade initiatives until there was some tangible progress toward greater economic security for U.S. workers. To a man, they recoiled at the idea."
Pearlstein describes the powerful moment America finds itself in - we have enough economic power to actually create a race to the top, instead of fueling a race to the bottom. But only if our government actually starts representing ordinary citizens, rather than Big Money:
    "The idea here isn't to kill free trade. It's to take it hostage. Right now, the defection of formerly free-trade Democrats has made it impossible to get any trade treaty or trade-negotiating authority through Congress.

    That's a big problem for the business community, particularly big corporations such as Lucent, AIG and General Electric. Democrats now have a perfect opportunity to deliver what the business community wants -- and to demand in exchange programs designed to provide workers more economic security. But such negotiations will never succeed if influential Democrats give away the store in advance by signaling they support all trade liberalization, unconditionally. No guarantees of health care, pensions, expanded unemployment insurance -- no more trade deals. It's a simple message even chief executives can understand. Voters, too."

Kool-Aid Consumption Back Up for the Summer? What Gives

Looking at The Times' reporting of the Times/CBS poll which seems to cover some of the same ground as the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll I posted about earlier today (see here), I notice a couple of interesting points:

  • The Times/CBS uses the term "isolationist" rather than pessimist
  • That Times/CBS says about half of Americans polled approved of Bush's handling of the Israeli-Lebanon-Hezbollah debacle (to which I ask again, WHAT HANDLING?)
  • a majority expect Lebanon to lead to a much broader war

Why Blame the Attacker When You Can Blame the Victim?

The mainstream media is having a field day with UN honcho, Kofi Annan.

Their message is pretty much carried across the board: it's just a mistake that Israel bombed the U.N. facility in South Lebanon on Tuesday and that, if blame lies anywhere, it lies with Kofi Annan for pointing out that Israel shouldn't have bombed them. Little attention paid to numerous sources that tell us the U.N., an Irish officer, and others repeatedly told Israel they were attacking the U.N. and should stop while Israel continued for 6-10 hours.

And the mighty righties myths - Hezbollah runs the UN in Lebanon and other silliness - gets repeated again and again as near fact. Sheesh!

"The President Fails to Understand His Enemies"

I certainly don't disagree, but I think a more universally truthful statement would be:

The president fails to understand. Period.

ESPN's Investigation into Pat Tillman's Death

The marvelous MissM also brings us news about ESPN, the sports network, and its investigation into the death of Pat Tillman that the military tried to keep hush-hush.

The Hypocrisy of Bush's Signing Ceremony for Extension of Voting Rights Act

Hypocrisy is pretty standard for politicians, but all the pomp and circumstance Bush went for this morning to "celebrate" his signing of the Voting Rights Act made me particularly ill, considering these two major points:

  1. I don't think Bush cares one damned bit about keeping voting rights intact for minorities, not when he created the "Help America Vote" act that led to extreme abuses leading to the disenfranchisement of African-American and other minority voters throughout the country in 2004.
  2. Many of the people Bush calls his "dear pals" are those who voted against - or abstained or were absent - the extension of the Voting Rights Act.

    Want to know what "evolved" human beings voted against the Voting Rights Act? Our own MissM tells you here.

Shooting Oneself in the Foot Over and Over and Over Again

Posted the other day at Talking Points Memo:

Chris Nelson's top line summary from this evening's edition of The Nelson Report ...
    The war in Lebanon is already a public relations disaster for Israel, and a very real human disaster, with no end in sight, for thousands of Lebanese. Clearly Israel, under military attack, is not officially concerned with the PR, but you could already see in the very competitive Israeli press, late last week, warnings that the IDF was not being careful, that military plans had already gotten out of hand, and that a diplomatic debacle might be in the making.

    Over the weekend, it became clear that Lebanon is also at risk of becoming another serious policy failure for the US.

    The announcement by Secretary of State Condi Rice that she was going to the region, but would not seek direct meetings with Syria, the country the US claims to be at the heart of any “solution” to the Lebanon crisis, has sparked much international criticism, and rekindled debate in the US over the basic lack of Bush Administration policy.

    Or, put another way, the Lebanon situation has exposed, once again, that US policy, under Bush, is largely whatever the Israeli government says it wants. So the long term effect of this on US-Arab relations generally, and the US ability to be constructively involved in any serious peace process, is once again under debate.

    In any particular flare-up in this unhappy region, debating who shot first is a distraction, since the conflict has been going on for generations. The question is, or should be, does the US have a policy with a realistic chance of success, and is the US involved in a process to further that policy...in this case, to resolve the flare-up of the moment? Whether a long term “solution” is possible is always another question....see Bill Clinton/Camp David, etc.

    However, as long-time Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross likes to say (our paraphrase) “having a process may not get you a solution, but having a process does give you a chance to contain the damage.”

    A week ago, much of the international community seemed willing to agree with the US, that Israel had the right to go after Hezbollah, or, at least, the right to go after Hezbollah sufficiently to push back the missile attack capability and threat. But by mid-week, the Europeans were calling for “cease fire” regardless.

In the "Neocons Don't Like Condi Anymore Than We Do" Department

Also from Rising Hegemon:

But I thought they wanted her to be President some day?
    Conservative national security allies of President Bush are in revolt against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying that she is incompetent and has reversed the administration’s national security and foreign policy agenda.

    The conservatives, who include Newt Gingrich, Richard Perle and leading current and former members of the Pentagon and National Security Council, have urged the president to transfer Miss Rice out of the State Department and to an advisory role. They said Miss Rice, stemming from her lack of understanding of the Middle East, has misled the president on Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

    "The president has yet to understand that people make policy and not the other way around," a senior national security policy analyst said. "Unlike [former Secretary of State Colin] Powell, Condi is loyal to the president. She is just incompetent on most foreign policy issues."

    The criticism of Miss Rice has been intense and comes from a range of Republican loyalists, including current and former aides in the Defense Department and the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. They have warned that Iran has been exploiting Miss Rice's inexperience and incompetence to accelerate its nuclear weapons program. They expect a collapse of her policy over the next few months.

In the "Lunatics Run the Show" Department

A new "reason" for why Lebanon is being turned into rubble, offered up at Rising Hegemon:

From World Nut Daily, tragically ignored by the Pulitzer Prize board year-after-year.
    Are Israel's troubles in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and the Hezbollah rockets slamming daily into major Israeli population centers here a result of the Jewish state's tacit support for a homosexual parade slated for next month in Jerusalem?

    Some rabbis seem to think so, and they are attempting to block the event from taking place in Judaism's holiest city."Why does this war break out this week, all of sudden with little warning?

    Because this is the exact week the Jewish people are trying to decide whether the gay pride parade should take place in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv," Pinchas Winston, a noted author, rabbi and lecturer based in Jerusalem told WND.
Right. That must be the reason.

And it's even an excuse that Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson and yes, even Rick Santorum can be damned proud of!

From Salon

Salon has some interesting pieces up:

Is Israel facing a quagmire in Lebanon as it goes after Hezbollah?

Also, Domino Diplomacy by Sidney Blumental, with this teaser:

Condi Rice and Co. are using the conflict in Lebanon as a proxy war with Iran that will somehow rescue the U.S. from failure in Iraq.

More Bush Tax Breaks for Billionaires: House Prepares to Vote on Estate Taxes

You have to give the Bushies and GOP credit: they have managed to take a situation like the so-called death tax (really, estates worth a fairly sizeable amount) and make dumber Americans see it as a problem for them.

Thus, when the House votes on ending the "death" tax, you can bet the GOP majority will make certain billionaires won't be hurt.

Don't you feel better?

Sidney Blumenthal: How the Disastrous Bushie Management Style Has Resurfaced with Israel in Lebanon

He too sees many similarities in Bush in Iraq to the Israelis attacking Hezbollah in Lebanon, aka The Neocons Rise Again:

Once again the Bush administration is floating on a wave of euphoria. Israel's offensive against Hizbullah in Lebanon has liberated the utopian strain of neoconservatism that had been traduced by Iraq's sectarian civil war. And the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, has propelled herself forward as chief cheerleader. "What we're seeing here," she said, "are the birth pangs of a new Middle East." At every press conference she repeats the phrase "a new Middle East" as though its incantation is magical.

Her jaunt to the region is intended to lend the appearance of diplomacy in order to forestall it. As explained to me by several senior state department officials, Rice is entranced by a new "domino theory": Israel's attacks will demolish Hizbullah; the Lebanese will blame Hizbullah and destroy its influence; and the backlash will extend to Hamas, which will collapse. From the administration's point of view, this is a proxy war with Iran (and Syria) that will inexplicably help turn around Iraq. "We will prevail," Rice says.

The administration has traditionally engaged in promiscuous threat conflation - al-Qaida with Saddam Hussein, North Korea and Iran in "the axis of evil", and now implicitly the Shia Hizbullah with the Sunni Iraqi insurgency. By asserting "we" before "will prevail", Rice is engaging in national interest conflation.

According to the Rice doctrine, the US has deserted its historic role as ultimate guarantor of Israel's security by acting as honest broker among all parties. Rather than emphasising the importance of Lebanese sovereignty, presumably a matter of concern to an administration that had made it exhibit A in the spread of democracy in "a new Middle East", Rice has downplayed or ignored it in favour of uncritical endorsement of Israel's offensive. Rice's trip is calculated to interpose the influence of the US to prevent a ceasefire and to give Israel at least another week of unimpeded military action.

To the Bush administration, the conflagration has appeared as deus ex machina to rescue it from the Iraqi quagmire. That this is patently absurd does not dawn on those who remain in thrall to the same pattern of thought that imagined the invasion of Iraq would be greeted with flowers in the streets of Baghdad. Denial is the basis of repetition.

This week has seen the publication of Fiasco, by Thomas Ricks, the military correspondent of the Washington Post, devastating in its factual deconstruction. The Iraqi invasion, he writes, was "based on perhaps the worst war plan in American history". The policy-making at the Pentagon was a "black hole", and resistance by the staff of the joint chiefs to disinformation linking Iraq to 9/11 was dismissed. After the absence of a plan for postwar Iraq, blunder upon blunder fostered the insurgency.

In one of its most unintentionally ironic curiosities, the Bush White House has created an Office of Lessons Learned. But the thinking that made possible the catastrophe in Iraq is not a subject of this office. The delusional mindset went underground only to surface through the crack of the current crisis. There are no lessons learned about the blowback from Iraq; about Iraq's condemnation of Israel and its sympathy for Hizbullah; or about the US unwillingness to deal with the Palestinian Authority that made inevitable the rise of Hamas; or the counter-productive repudiation of direct contact with Syria and Iran.

Indeed, Rice is ushering in "a new Middle East", one in which the US is distrusted and even hated by traditional Arab allies, and its ability to restrain Israel while negotiating on behalf of its security is relinquished and diminished.

Israel Bombing New Areas of Lebanon

Story here. I assume they found a bridge, power plant, bank, or doctor's office that wasn't blown to smithereens.

No Shit, Sherlock: Pessimism on The Rise in U.S.

According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (and believe you me, I am very pessimistic about the WSJ as well as the General Electric-run NBC), Americans feel very pessimistic.


With congressional midterm elections less than four months away, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that candidates will be facing a public that has grown increasingly pessimistic, as nearly two-thirds don't believe life for their children's generation will be better than it has been for them, and nearly 60 percent are doubtful the Iraq war will come to a successful conclusion.

And there's more pessimism: Among those who believe the nation is headed on the wrong track, more than 80 percent say it's part of a longer-term decline.

"This is just a horrendous set of numbers," says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican Bill McInturff. The mood is "as dank and depressing as I have seen."

According to the poll, 65 percent say they feel less confident that life for their children's generation will be better than it was for them. In December 2001, the last time this question was asked, respondents — by a 49-42 percent margin — said they were confident life would be better for their children.
Sounds like a realistic assessment head-deep in the Bush years.

While You Struggle to Pay for Gas, Another Oil Company Posts Record Profits

Boy, the money keeps flooding in for oil companies in the Bush years; this from Exxon Mobil.

At the Heart of Fighting in Lebanon Lies the "Lethal Mistakes" of George Bush

Well, at least not all the British press is quite so cowed or enamored of our befuddled leader.

From The Guardian (read it all, this is but a snip):

It was meant to be over by now. This time last week Israeli military planners were demanding another 72 hours to finish the job: that's all they needed, they promised, to clear southern Lebanon of Hizbullah. Yet the enemy has proved stubborn. Despite two weeks of bombardment, Hizbullah's formidable arsenal remains in place. Yesterday they fired yet more rockets - 60 of them - deep into Israel, reaching the city of Haifa and killing a teenage girl in the Arab village of Maghar.
This persistence is causing the first rumblings of Israeli disquiet. Why are the Katyushas "still coming, and killing?" asks one Israeli columnist. Are the Israel Defence Forces losing their edge, asks another, wondering if "instead of an army that is small but smart, we are catching glimpses of an army that is big, rich and dumb". The top brass deny they have been surprised by Hizbullah's strength. They expected nothing less, they say - not least because Iran has been supplying the movement with more than $100m worth of arms. Which would explain the serious hardware, including long-range missiles, at Hizbullah's disposal.

So far none of this has eroded the astonishingly high level of Israeli public support for the war. I spoke yesterday to a "refusenik", an Israeli soldier whose principles compelled him to spend a month in jail rather than serve in the West Bank or Gaza. Even he was clear: "We had no choice but to hit back." This is not about defending occupied territory, because Israel is not an genuine occupier in Lebanon. This is, he says, about defending the country from a proxy army of a state, Iran, that is committed to Israel's destruction.

Little has punctured Israelis' sense of self-belief. They see few of the TV pictures we see, showing Lebanese children, bloodstained and weeping; they have victims of their own to concentrate on. As for the rest of the world's condemnation, it doesn't cut much ice. Why should Israelis listen to Vladimir Putin when he tells them their response has been "disproportionate"? Was Russia's pounding of Grozny proportionate? As for complaints from Britain and Europe about the 390 civilians killed in Lebanon, those are a reminder of the more than 3,000 civilians killed in the 2001 onslaught against Afghanistan: how was that proportionate exactly? Kim Howells was right to be appalled by what he saw in Beirut. But he surely would have been just as shocked had he visited the Iraqi city of Falluja after the Americans had turned it to rubble.
Besides, not much of this criticism, including that from Howells, has got through at all. The message projected by most of the Israeli media is that the bit of the world that matters - the US - is behind them. The government certainly echoes that line, and it will have been emboldened by Condoleezza Rice's show of understanding yesterday.

Indeed, for prime minister Ehud Olmert the backing of the US is central to everything this war is about. The Tel Aviv University analyst Dr Gary Sussman calls it a "war for the legitimacy of unilateralism". This approach, first pursued by Ariel Sharon and now Olmert's defining project, tells Israelis that it is OK to pull out from occupied territory - whether southern Lebanon in 2000 or Gaza in 2005 - because after withdrawal there will be a clear, recognised border, behind which Israel can defend itself more vigorously than ever. That is why, once Hizbullah had captured those two Israeli soldiers, Olmert had to hit back. If he had not, he would have vindicated the critics who brand unilateral withdrawal a glorified retreat, jeopardising Israel's security. He had to prove that pulling out did not mean running away, that Israel could still defend itself. What's more, because it had moved back to the internationally recognised border, Israel would now enjoy international legitimacy. Washington has obligingly played its role, supplying the support that confirms Olmert's logic.
I really do see in the Israeli people now a mirror image of this country's cheerleading and slavish devotion for whatever atrocity the Bushies wanted to commit abroad. It's sad that we're getting a repeat of this so soon, when I thought the whole world knew how badly it served us in the U.S.

"Strife Derails Bush Comeback"

Poor Mr. Bush. People just give him a hard time.

Seriously: have you ever seen the media couch absolutely every world event, big or small, in terms of how it affects just one man? The media really does exhibit a "soft bigotry of very low expectations" with him and lets us know every day, in every way, that it is not how a war, a major event affects a region, a people, a country, it's how it bothers poor Mr. Bush that really matters.


Indonesia Can't Catch a Break: Earthquake Near Tsunami Region

Man, if this isn't bad, what is?

Newsweek: Will a U.N. Force Work?

Newsweek asks the question but I'm not sure the answer can be easily determined.

Israel has been the biggest opponent to any UN backed force that would monitor their actions in Palestinian areas; the popular belief here is that Israel does not want anyone to see their treatment of Palestinians.

Let me say I would welcome a U.N. force. However, if Israel and the U.S. won't allow the U.N. to do its work properly - and I think this is an extremely strong probability - then all we do is place more U.N. workers in harm's way.

If you notice I only mentioned the U.S. and Israel here in terms of whether a UN force would work, you've got it right. I expect more out of these two countries than I do out of tiny, war-torn Lebanon or Hezbollah. The U.N. could work around opposition by Lebanon or Hezbollah, but would be seriously hamstrung if one or both the U.S. and Israel interfered.

Did Israel Play Into Hezbollah's Hands as Bush Did With Al Qaeda?

Remember the discussion that finally went mainstream (some of us saw it correctly immediately) within a year or two of 9-11-01 that Mr. Bush's actions were playing right into Osama bin Laden's and al Qaeda's hands by strengthening the terror organization and essentially bringing in new recruits?

Well, this piece available at Common Dreams suggests Israel has done the exact same thing - helped Hezbollah in recruitment and aid - with its attacks in Southern Lebanon.

History Can Come Back to Bite You in the Tush

Buzzflash reminds us of a Jerusalem Post article from early 2004 that indicated Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was kicking around an idea to provoke a showdown with Syria by targeting Hezbollah bases in Southern Lebanon. Read it and you find some similarities in what Israel has done in Lebanon in the last two-plus weeks.

Al Qaeda Threatens Attacks in Reprisal for Israel in Lebanon

No surprise here.

Last Two Days Have Been Deadliest Yet to Israel in Campaign Against Hezbollah in Lebanon

Story here, with another story on how Israel is surprised by how formidable a foe Hezbollah is turning out to be.

Yet I notice we're seeing less and less about death tolls among civilians in Lebanon and CNN seems to exclusively cover the danger to Northern Israel, complete with showing out the Hezbollah rockets feature hundreds of ball bearings each that create high velocity shrapnel that can kill bystanders even when the missile does not.

I understand them covering it, but the death tolls across the border in Lebanon have run more than 10 times higher than in Israel, even when you factor in the deaths of Israeli soldiers killed mostly in Lebanon during fighting. One excuse I've heard for this is that Israel isn't allowing access to fighting in Lebanon by journalists. Another page from the Bush-Rumsfeld war playbook, I suppose.

One More Thought Before I Go...

Remember what Senatore Inhofe (Republican, LaLaLand) said: if you believe in Global Warming, then you are a member of the Third Reich.

Remember, too, that references to Hitler and his men and practices is fine and dandy when done by Repugnantcans but if done by the Dems it deserves public execution. Got it?

Yet More Civilians Die as Israel Moves into North Gaza Again

Also from WaPo:

Israeli troops pushed into the northern Gaza Strip early Wednesday, sparking intense street clashes with local fighters that left 24 Palestinians dead and at least 57 wounded, Palestinian security and hospital officials said. They said most of the victims were struck by Israeli tank shells or missiles launched from Israeli drones flying overhead.

The fighting made Wednesday the deadliest day in Gaza since Israel pulled out of the strip last year.

At least 30 Israeli tanks joined the operation, which began about 3 a.m. and continued throughout the day in the al-Tofah neighborhood east of Gaza City, witnesses said. They described pitched battles in which Palestinian gunmen fired AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades at Israeli forces, which responded with tank fire and missiles.

GOP's Simmering Rage

David S. Broder clues us in on the dislike and disconnect that many old-time Republicans have for the Bushies.


Latest Zogby Poll: America Always Tips to Israel's Side

Americans overwhelmingly see the fighting in Lebanon between Hezbollah and Israel as part of a much "wider" problem. Read carefully and you'll see that Israel does much better in public opinion polls than the Lebanese or Palestinians.

There's lots more detail on this particular poll, but some important points appear here:

A majority of Americans believe the battles now being fought across the Israel–Lebanon border are the beginnings of a wider conflict – one that could result in a war that spans the globe, a new Zogby International telephone poll shows.
The survey included 1,034 likely voters nationwide, and was conducted July 21–25, 2006. It carries a margin of error of +/– 3.1 percentage points.

Asked about their view of the conflict, 29% said they think the conflict between Israeli and Hezbollah forces will lead to a full–blown regional war enveloping several nations, while 19% said they think a world war will result. Another 17% said they think the war will widen to include Lebanese national forces, but will go no further.

Just 24% said they think the current fighting is a typical short–lived skirmish between aggrieved parties.

A bare majority of Americans – 51% – said they sympathize with Israel rather than Lebanon in the current fighting, while 13% said they sympathize with Lebanon. Asked who is more to blame for the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, 61% put the blame on Hezbollah, while 12% blame Israel, and 20% said they were not sure.

Asked about the conflict between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza, 50% said they sympathize with Israel, compared to 15% who take the side of the Palestinians. The balance of respondents said they were either unsure of sympathized with neither party.

Playing Into Ann Coulter's Dirty Little Hand

The more anyone pays attention to Ann Coulter, the better because Ann wants the attention and clearly she'll do just about anything to get it (and her work as a lawyer doesn't seem to involve any law).

Her newest slimeball trick was calling Bill Clinton a "latent homosexual" whic she said is proven by Clinton's almost obsessive sexual trysts with women.

Uh? Excuse me?

Annie, sweetie lambchops puddin pie! There is a wildly better chance that you are male (and probably only half transgendered) than that Clinton is gay. Yet I for one will NOT be asking you to lift your skirt and prove these doubters correct.

Odd Priorities Indeed by House Majority

Excellent points made by TChris at TalkLeft:

Curing disease and disability isn't on the president's list of American values, leading to a veto of the stem cell research bill. Of the ten bills that comprise "The American Values Agenda" (crafted by House Republicans to energize a disenchanted base before the midterm elections), only one has passed: a bill that prohibits condominium and homeowner associations from restricting the display of the American flag. The president signed that bill yesterday, showing that he values the federalization of local condo rules more highly than he values your health.

Rats Deserting the Sinking Ship Known as the SS Katherine Harris

The Moderate Voice features a good piece on how Harris' campaign for a Senate seat currently held by a Dem (Bill Nelson) is eating itself alive and with Harris now engaged in some of the sleaziest tactics possible Joe Scarborough's dead office worker right after he resigned from Congress under rather mysterious circumstances.

If You Thought the Bush Administration Really Wanted to Clean Up Its Act on Detainees Held Indefinitely Without Charges...

Then please send me email because I have some gator-filled land in Florida you'll just die for...

Posted by TChris at TalkLeft:

Not unexpectedly, the White House is doing its best to circumvent the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision. A draft of the administration's proposed legislation would purport to codify the president's authority to try (if and when he gets around to it) detainees before the same military commissions that the Court found wanting in the Hamdan case.

The draft bill would permit secret trials, secret even from the detainee, who could be excluded. The bill would allow convictions to be based on hearsay, depriving the detainee of the opportunity to confront his accuser, and would allow evidence obtained by coercion to be used against the detainee.
    Rather than requiring a speedy trial for enemy combatants, the draft proposal says they "may be tried and punished at any time without limitations." Defendants could be held until hostilities are completed, even if found not guilty by a commission.
Few things could be more offensive to our constitutional values than indefinite detention without trial (or any detention after an acquittal), but that's been the hallmark of the Bush administration's approach to detainees. It would continue under the administration's proposed legislation. And because the pesky Supreme Court thought the president should give detainees the rights to which they are entitled under the Geneva Conventions, the proposed law states that the Conventions "are not a source of judicially enforceable individual rights."

Anyone Try "Tailrank"?

It's a blog compiler. See here.

Suddenly, Israel and the Far Right Discover Political Correctness

...and they want the truth and a collection of facts changed to conform to their ideas about how they operate rather than how others might view their actions.

Posted by SusanUnPC at No Quarter:

The Israelis are outraged by Annan's remarks that yesterday's deadly attack on the longtime, clearly marked U.N. bunker in Southern Lebanon was "apparently deliberate." Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the U.N., called Annan's statement "premature, hasty, deplorable, and irresponsible."

And members of the media are phrasing and shaping their reporting of yesterday's deaths in order to shift the story's FOCUS to a criticism of Kofi Annan's statement -- not to the eight hours of Israeli attacks on the U.N. bunker, despite constant pleas from U.N. officials, and the deaths of the Austrian, Finnish, Chinese, and Canadian observers from the 2,000-person UNIFIL force.

Last night, Larry King asked Christiane Amanpour why Annan was "against Israel":

LARRY KING: ... Christiane, Kofi Annan is usually very diplomatic and careful. Were you surprised that he was so strikingly against Israel today?