Newsweek: "Beyond Israel's Lebanon Strategy"

While John Barry's article doesn't quite answer the questions have, it is a worthy read. I liked, too, that he noticed that civilians on both side are paying a high cost for what Israel bills as the war to make all Israelis safer. Funny, that line sounds familiar with... ah, that's right: Mr. Bush uttered it many, many, many times.

If The Cease-Fire Actually Works, Wil Both Sides Proclaim Victory?

Let me start off by stating that I believe, as does this Associated Press (AP) article on MSNBC that both Israel and Hezbollah (Hizbollah to some) will declare themselves the victor. But this is no young sibling game of rivalry.

Sadly, I believe that Hezbollah has somehow done better than expected and Israel worse. The latter is a huge issue because the size and scope of Israeli's military has probably kept those who might challenge Israel at bay; now... well... they see some weaknesses.

As Israel Arrests Palestinian Parliament and Hamas Leader, Will This Mean Fresh Trouble?


Israeli security forces detained Palestinian parliamentary speaker Aziz Dweik, a leader of the governing Hamas movement, in a raid on his West Bank home on Sunday, while an airstrike killed a Palestinian in the southern Gaza Strip, as Israel pressed its offensive against militants.
I believe it's very possible that this is going to end up causing Israel more trouble than if they had let the Palestinian stay loose. But, again, I've noted too many times that Israel is like many other of the Middle East nations in constantly taking action that creates a much greater problem (or problems) than the original one for which the action was taken to address.

"Israel's War Crimes"

Daniel at Crooked Timber offers up this thoughtful post which addresses many of my own deliberations on the subject:

Following on from last week’s post on Hezbollah’s War Crimes, it would seem appropriate to follow up with a discussion of the actions of the state of Israel with respect to the Geneva Conventions. Human Rights Watch has an excellent and thoroughly-researched report on the subject of whether the civilian casualties in Lebanon have been the result of collateral damage to legitimate military actions, or whether there have been instances of illegitimate, intentional or excessive violence against civilians. It concludes that there is certainly a case to answer. There is also the issue of whether the war crime of “reprisals” has been committed – the carrying out of acts of violence against civilians in order to put pressure on their government to carry out some desired course of action, which is of course called “terrorism” when non-state actors do it.

...My summary of the report’s conclusions would be that the proposition that the IDF “takes the utmost care to minimise civilian casualties” has been falsified to a high degree of certainty, and even the weaker claim that the IDF does not intentionally target civilians looks a lot less certain than one would previously have believed. The attacks on infrastructure such as the LibanLait dairy look not at all like legitimate attempts to shut down Hezbollah and very much like attempts to intimidate the Lebanese population; unless we are prepared to postulate a truly colossal series of blunders, it looks very bad indeed.

Israel has in the past been able to maintain, with some justification, that there can be no “moral equivalence” between its actions and those of the terrorists; an important point when the physical effects of the IDF’s actions have been so many more deaths than the physical effects of terrorism. Whatever the jus ad bellum, this issue of jus in bello matters a lot, and speculation about the long term genocidal aims of the President of Iran simply cannot justify war crimes now. The gradual disintegration of the clear distinctions between the conduct in war of Israel and that of its enemies, which are very important in maintaining Israel’s international diplomatic reputation, ought to worry the Israeli government a lot more than it apparently does.

Another Example of U.S. Media Spin on Israel-Lebanon-Hezbollah

First, this WaPo page gives you the draft resolution. Now, to the "meat" of this post, notice this and ask if it sounds like just one side is being unreasonable (my take):

U.N. Security Council draft resolution calls for "a full cessation of hostilities" as Hezbollah vows to keep fighting until Israeli soldiers leave Lebanon.
Can you glean from this the greater truth that Israel is refusing to leave Lebanon - in fact, it's indicated it will continue attacking "wherever it things there is a danger"?

In my reality, both Hezbollah AND Israel are being rather unyielding in the cease-fire put together and submitted to the U.N. Security Council today, but in newspaper after newspaper, and cable and broadcast network after network, I get "Hizbollah is being obstinate" with only a much more subtle subtext that Israel insists on occupying a separate country and will attack at will.

Speaking of Non-Stop Funner, Allegedly Homicidal Marine Demands Apology for Being Impolite

Is this frickin' perverse or is it just me? From Glenn Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory:

Impressively following up on the commitment he made on Wednesday, Mark Zaid, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit this week against Jack Murtha on behalf of the Marine staff sergeant in Haditha, has now written a letter to Rep. John Kline (R-MN) advising Kline that he will be added as a defendant to the lawsuit along with Murtha unless he apologizes for statements he made about Haditha and expresses regret for "publicly prejudging" the guilt of the Marines. As Reuters reports:
    A U.S. Marine suspected in the killing of 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq, threatened to sue a second congressman on Friday for comments the Republican made about the case, according to a letter obtained by Reuters.
Kline is a former Marine and is one of the most loyal Bush supporters in Congress. He is currently facing a tough re-election campaign against FBI whistle blower Colleen Rowley. And, as an added bonus, Kline is also the much-revered Congressman of John Hinderaker, who never once mentioned that his own Republican Congressman made such statements about Haditha even as he repeatedly smeared the character of Rep. Murtha...

Are We Having Fun Yet?

It's been such a wonderful, exhilirating, educating, non-stop, pious, jumping joy ride these five plus years since George W. Bush took office that it's just hard to tell when we're having an even "more funner" (I heard Mr. Bush use this a week or two ago) time than usual.

What the Bushies Have Wrought in Iraq And Beyond

The huge rallies to protest U.S. and Israel for their actions against Lebanon in Iraq yesterday had many extolling the virtues of Hezbollah. I don't think the Bushies have anyone to blame for this but themselves. However, it hurts all of us - not just in the U.S. but in many other places as well as Lebanon and Israel and Palestinian territories.

I may not like what Israel is doing but I'm hardly a fan of the kind of actions organizations like Hezbollah (Hizbollah to some) perpetrate; I just don't like state-sanctioned terrorism any better, which is precisely what Israel and the U.S. love to perpetrate.

Seems Like Ann Coulter Has a Bit Too Much Glass in Her "House"...

... for all the stones she tosses. I mean, this is a woman who many conjecture is a poor she-male, someone for whom transgender surgery was not a complete success. Even her friends seem to find her about as shallow and unpleasant a person - as well as someone who cannot tolerate any criticism herself... but man (oh man!) does she like to dish it.

From Media Matters on what I posted about yesterday:

In her August 2 nationally syndicated column, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter suggested that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) is gay: "I'd say that's about even money" on Sen. Clinton "[c]oming out of the closet" in 2008. Coulter's column consisted largely of questions and answers she claimed "were left out of a Baltimore Sun article due to length." The July 30 Sun interview with Coulter can be read here.

Coulter attacked former President Bill Clinton on the July 26 edition of CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, saying that he "show[s] some level of latent homosexuality," and she labeled former Vice President Al Gore a "total fag" on the July 27 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews.
    From Coulter's August 2 column:
    Q: Does Hillary Clinton have a good chance in 2008? What are her strengths and weaknesses? What did her reaction to your "Jersey girls" comments tell you about her as a potential candidate?
    A: Good chance of what? Coming out of the closet? I'd say that's about even money.
    Her strength is her first name; her weakness is her last.

Maureen Dowd: "Gladiatorial Fight"

The kind folks at Rozius provide us with today's Maureen Dowd column, "Gladiatorial Fight". As usual, you see a snippet here but go to Rozius - or for the registered, New York Times Select - for the whole She-bang:

The enunciation of a clear sentence about the war in Iraq by Hillary Clinton means that there must be an election coming up.

Until now, she has been unsubtly subtle about the most urgent issue facing the country, sending signals rightward, sending signals leftward, tacking here, tacking there. Some days she seemed to be signaling whether she intended to signal.

But now, suddenly, she’s a woman of passion, a model of concerned clarity. After an eon of calculated silence on most of the big moral questions of the day, there is a calculated breaking of the silence. The enigma won’t play anymore. It’s time for the drama.

But the drama played like “The Taming of the Shrew,” with the only question being, who was the shrew?

Hillary was trying to bring Rummy to heel, and Rummy was trying to exert manly control over Hillary.

The junior senator from New York staged a drama in three acts, first sending a letter summoning the reluctant Rummy to appear before the Armed Services Committee; then hectoring him with a litany of his “numerous errors in judgment”; and finally at the end of the day, like the Queen of Hearts, delivering her climactic demand for his head.

“I just don’t understand why we can’t get new leadership that would give us a fighting chance to turn the situation around,” Senator Clinton said after the hearing, summing up a truth acknowledged by everyone except W. and Dick Cheney, and particularly felt at the Pentagon, where the deeply unpopular defense chief has gone from self-styled matinee idol to self-destructing idle martinet.During the hearing, Hillary unmanned Rummy, as Shakespeare would say, accusing him of incompetence, impotence and improbity.

“You did not go into Iraq with enough troops to establish law and order,’’ she said. “You disbanded the entire Iraqi Army. Now we’re trying to recreate it. You did not do enough planning for what is called phase four and rejected all the planning that had been done previously to maintain stability after the regime was overthrown. You underestimated the nature and strength of the insurgency, the sectarian violence and the spread of Iranian influence.”

She pointed out that the administration succeeds only in achieving the opposite of its aims — with the number of American troops in Iraq scheduled to increase, not decrease, and the violence and instability spreading.

...When Hillary and Rummy square off, it is a gladiatorial contest of two masters at hauteur, self-righteousness, scriptedness, infighting and belief in their own manifest destiny.

Hillary wants to avoid Joe Lieberman’s fate by arguing that how the administration went about this war has caused all the problems, not that it went to a needless war she supported. Her stratagem avoids the lie that set off all the other lies, and leaves Hillary risking a John Kerry problem, being both for the war and against it.

It’s going to be a tough triangulation. Even Bill never had to squirm his way out of something as hard as this.

Don't Take My Word For It But...

I don't think this chap likes John McCain very much.

But - as always - I could be wrong.

What We Didn't Do in Lebanon

ThinkProgress tells us loud, clear, and in a minimum of words:

Though the Bush administration “pushed hard for a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon” last year, it “paid much less attention” to fostering democracy in the country afterwards. “We did nothing, we did absolutely nothing” to bolster the weak Lebanese government after the Syrian withdrawal, a State Department official admitted

The U.N. Security Counsel Now Meets to Discuss the U.S.-France Cease-Fire

I would love to believe that today's news of a U.S.-France broked complete cessation of violence cease-fire will stop the deadly combat in Lebanon and the rain of rockets into Israel, but like the rest of the world, I honestly do not know.

Israel still says it will not stop until an international peace-keeping force is in place and, in response, Hezbollah says it will not stop shooting rockets so long as Israel insists on staying in Lebanon. In a different time, Israel would have gone along with the U.S., however, since the return of the once-disgraced Sharon in 2000, Israel has told the U.S. what to do and, oddly, we've allowed this under Bush.


Cost of Iraq War Will Soon Overtake Both Vietnam and Korean Wars


WASHINGTON: The Iraq war is to overtake Korea and Vietnam as the second-most expensive overseas military operation in US history, with spending expected to top $US500 billion ($660 billion) by the end of the decade.

A report from the Congressional Budget Office says $US291billion has been allocated for the Iraq war, the equivalent of $US1000 for every man, woman and child in the US.
The figures were published amid intense debate in Washington over when, and how fast, the US could begin to pull out of Iraq.
And the numbers must be quite a bit higher, given how Rumsfeld likes to play games with numbers and money.

Well, They Say You Can Get Anything on Craig's List

And if pot dealers are selling their wares there, I suppose it must be true.

Is it filed under M for Marijuana or Maryjane or Maui Wowie or B for BC Hydro?

Minimum Wage Hike Bill Dies Because GOP Tied It to Death/Estate Tax

Poor Bill Frist; he really wanted to help those millionaires and billionaires, too. He couldn't give a tinker's damn about minimum wage-job workers, however.

We need to hand him another defeat as well: don't let him anywhere near the presidency in 2008.

Is Israel's Ehud Olmert Nothing More Than A Bush Clone or Is He a Wise Guy?

Arianna Huffington seems to believe this is what Israel's leader has turned into:

Israel's current strategy of trying to bomb its way to security is actually having the counterproductive effect of making its people less safe.

Hezbollah's support in the Arab world is growing daily. Jordan's King Abdullah said Israel's all-out offensive has turned the terrorist group into heroes, and Iraq's Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani vowed that if Israel continues its current tactics " will befall the region."

Meanwhile, the conflict has dramatically weakened the democratic government of Lebanon and greatly emboldened the radicals in Iran, whose president today said the "main solution" to the Middle East crisis was the "elimination" of Israel.

Nevertheless, Israel, led by newly bellicose Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, seems determined to press the attack. "There is no cease-fire and there will be no cease-fire," he said in the wake of the Qada bombing, vowing that Israel would fight on "in the air, sea, and land."

Here's the Mel Gibson Explanation to End All Gibson Explanations

This comes right from the Gibson camp: Mel can't be an anti-Semite because he employs an Israeli body guard and a Jewish publicist.

Sadly, this defense isn't quite as good as the tried-and-true, "Some of my best friends are black."

Dan Froomkin Asks, "What's The Motivation?"

Good question; too bad we won't get answers and certainly not from Mr. Bush.

President Bush often complains about lack of transparency in places like North Korea or, more recently, Cuba -- and contrasts that with the United States.

Here he is in Vienna in June: "We're a transparent democracy. People know exactly what's on our mind. We debate things in the open. We've got a legislative process that's active."
White House Briefing

But the reality is that, particularly when it comes to Bush's foreign policy, the minimal press access to the intensely secret inner workings of the White House and the almost complete lack of effective Congressional oversight have left Bush's decision-making process largely a mystery.
Case in point: What is really motivating our policy in the Middle East? And who's really making the decisions? We don't know.

Delta Joins the List of Fine Employers Who Promise Pensions and Then Take Them Back

Yeah, Delta is in fine company and the courts in the Bush years always allow them to dump the pensions for work their employees long since performed.

Top Aide to Bush Shoplifts Then Gets Less Than a Slap on the Thieving Wrist?

[Ed. note: Update: According to TPM Mucker, Allen claimed all 25 (indeed!) different instances of theft for which he was exposed - how many unexposed? - on the ill effects of Hurricane Katrina. Not that he had any special work regarding Katrina, however. Bush Republicans, always willing to stand up and admit errors... someone else's errors.]

From The Times and note the bold line - something went wrong, not he did wrong. Gee, from that alone you can tell he's a Bushie.

A former White House adviser pleaded guilty to theft Friday, briefly breaking into tears as he tried to explain to a judge why he made phony returns at discount department stores while working as a top aide to President Bush.

''Something did go very wrong,'' Claude Allen said.

Allen, 45, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Circuit Court to one misdemeanor count of theft under $500. He was sentenced to two years of supervised probation and ordered to pay a $500 fine.

Sheer Coincidence That Mr. Bush Hurried Into Vacation Before...

the latest unemployment figures came out, showing the new job creation rate is so slow as to be non-existent? Too bad Mr. Bush is "employed."

Ann Coulter Is Even More Obsessed with Sexual Aberration Than Rick Santorum

After calling both Bill Clinton and Al Gore raging homosexuals, Ann Coulter, when asked if Hillary Clinton would "come out" as a presidential candidate for 2008, remarked something like, "Come out? You mean out of the closet? Because everyone knows Hillary's a lesbo!"

Gee? They do? Nobody told me. This is just like Little Green Footballs who keep referring to a Qana Massacre "talking points" all wild lefty bloggers must recite each day; I've never gotten such an email or memo. Maybe I'm not a wild lefty.

As for Coulter, I liked how Keith Olbermann handled it, something like, "And with Ms. Coulter, we're supposed to believe she's a 45-year-old virgin with a very prominent adam's apple."

Well, I doubt she's 45 because when I first heard of her, she and I were the same age and now, I've gotten older but she's gotten younger. The adam's apple speaks for itself, but I'll take a pass on the "virgin" part since I'm so chase...er.. chaste myself.

I saw we hook Rick Santorum up with Coulter. Then they can fight over who will be the male in the relationship.

Here's a Unique Concept: It's Only a Regional War if a Major Israeli City is Hit

Four times today, the most recent on Joe Scarborough on MSNBC before I could find the remote to turn him off, I've heard something quite similar to this:

x number of Israeli soldiers killed, x number of wounded in Israel, four bridges in Lebanon destroyed, 28 Lebanese farmers killed on a strike right at the border between Lebanon and Syria, a Hezbollah rocket hits 30 miles south of Tel Aviv...
BUT... if Hezbollah strikes Tel Aviv, this is going to be WAR, a BIG REGIONAL WAR where the U.S. will get involved on the side of the righteous: Israel

Um... hasn't it already been a war for more than 23 days? But only if it hurts a major Israeli city is this a bad thing although the city of Beirut and smaller cities in Lebanon are in ruins, with more than a million people displaced, and close to a thousand civilians dead there (compared to about five dozen Israelis). But hey, Tel Aviv is sacred so it's hands off?
I don't think I quite get this mentality. Israel has not only destoyed a sovereign nation, it has now breeched the border with Syria, an entirely different country. But that's fine. It's just when it hurts Israel that there is a problem. Then the U.S. will get involved because no one is allowed to touch Israel. Total insanity!

Is Condi Rice Getting Neocontented?

James Bamford, author of a piece now in Rolling Stone magazine, was just on Countdown with Keith Olbermann talking about how the neo-cons are really trying to get rid of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice because she is not "towing the neocon" line in helping fuel what's needed to take us into a war with Iran and Syria.

Bamford says the neocons really would prefer current UN ambassador (and lifetime nasty fool) John Bolton as Secretary of State (probably because the job requires diplomacy to keep countries out of war and Bolton would be sure that we are IN a war). Bamford also points out that Bolton is quite a neocon himself, which would please those like William Kristol, as well as the fact that - as we already know - the neocons are hungry for full-fledged war with Iran "at any cost."

Vermont Court: Vermont's Ruling of Joint Custody By Lesbians Trumps Virginia's Anti-Gay Laws

From the Burlington Free Press (Vermont, we're tiny but feisty!):

The Vermont Supreme Court said today that Vermont courts, and not those in Virginia, have exclusive jurisdiction over an emotional case between two women arguing custody over a child they had while they were in a lesbian relationship.

The unanimous ruling in Vermont conflicts with a series of decisions in Virginia courts, which held that that state’s anti-gay marriage laws controlled the case. Vermont Justice John Dooley wrote, though, that it’s Vermont’s laws that control because the women involved in the dispute were legally joined in a civil union in 2000 and that’s what governs their 2003 separation and subsequent child custody disagreement.

Vermont became the first state in the nation to recognize same-sex couples’ relationships in 2000, enacting a civil union law that mimics marriage. Only one other state has such a law and whether such relationships would be recognized in other states has been a matter of litigation.

“This is a straightforward interstate jurisdictional dispute over custody, and the governing law fully supports the Vermont court’s decision to exercise jurisdiction and refuse to follow the conflicting Virginia visitation order,” Dooley wrote.

On a Much More Serious Note: Goodnight, Soldier

After that previous bit of folly, I've just learned a much more serious piece of information:

A Vermont marine died Thursday from wounds received in combat in Iraq.

Lance Cpl. Kurt E. Dechen, 24, of Springfield, was conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division.

Dechen is a graduate of Springfield High School.

What? You've Never Been Stuck on a Toilet and Suffered Burns?

Let he - or she - who has never suffered burns while stuck on a toilet cast the first stone... er, roll of bathroom tissue.

Israel Destroys Lebanon's Last Major Route to Syria and Outside World

So is Israel going to pay to restore all they've destroyed? No, I know exactly what the answer is: no. From the wires:

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Israel and Hezbollah fought bloody ground battles and exchanged fierce air and missile strikes Friday — including bombing raids that severed Lebanon's last major supply link with Syria and the outside world, and the guerrillas' deepest rocket attack inside Israel

I Like This Dog!

This dog destroyed Elvis teddy bear.

Please, please do not put this dog down. He's a fine guard dog. And if he hates what belongs to Elvis, then he's got pretty good taste, too!

Say Hello to...

The Loathing Reporter from the UK.

I especially like Blair-isms he posted, found here.

40 More Civilians Dead in Lebanon From New Israeli Strikes

Story here.

The Good News Is The Bushies Finally United Iraq

But the bad news is that we united them against the U.S. and Israel because of Israel's attacks on Lebanon and Bush's "Let 'em do whatever they want" schtick toward the main benefactor of America's largesse, Israel. More than 100,000 Iraqis protested in Baghdad - and you know it's not exactly safe to leave your home in Baghdad, let alone go out in the streets, so this is something!

Pentagon Wants to Stop Soldiers' "Trophy Videos" of Iraqi Events

Funny I had to go to The Guardian in England to read this story:

Last week the Pentagon ordered American servicemen in Iraq to stop posting private video clips on the internet.

These "trophy videos" have become one of the more extraordinary by-products of modern-day warfare as soldiers - like everyday tourists - send video images ranging from the comic to the utterly horrific back home to impress friends and titillate the fans of "uncensored war".
There are hundreds of hours of this stuff posted up on a range of internet sites - most of it is fairly crudely shot and edited and usually set to thrash metal soundtracks.

But these homemade war videos offer an insight into modern warfare and the psyche of the average serviceman which conventional broadcast news and current affairs coverage cannot get close to.

Some of the material - like the famous Show Me the Way to Amarillo Peter Kay video rip-off by British servicemen - is clearly just an innocent exercise in overcoming the boredom between patrols, but it is the stuff shot on patrol that really has the power to shock.

Images I have seen recently include a close up of a suicide bomber exploding in two, an insurgent being shot through the head by an American sniper, full scale firefights between US patrols and insurgents plus endless images of body parts scattered about in the aftermath of the latest bomb explosion.

This footage is often supported by a running commentary of "awesome" and suchlike from the cameraman who has literally strapped a digital camera onto his helmet or gun barrel and shot the video while he was shooting insurgents.

Oops... Previous Post

Scripps is the reporter of these poll results that appeared in - ironically enough considering my Editor and Publisher post - Rocky Mountain News.

One-Third of Americans See Government Culpability in 9-11-01

Wow, from Vermont Commons:

"Thirty-six percent of respondents overall said it is "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them "because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East."
Now, bear in mind that many more believe in federal complicity, but do not speak publicly about it, nor would they be likely to acknowledge such in a poll.

Without trying to sound too "aluminum hat" here, I think it's possibility the true number of believers may be as high as 50% or greater.

Editor & Publisher Irrelevant? Them's Fightin' Words

I couldn't believe this when I found it on Romenesko from Technorati just now:

Rocky editor says "liberal" E&P has become irrelevant
Rocky Mountain News

John Temple says Editor & Publisher editor and columnist Greg Mitchell mistakes standard opinion journalism for media criticism. "What he should really do to make his publication relevant is critique journalism, not tell us what he thinks newspapers should be saying on their editorial pages or in their columns."
Well, I can tell you exactly what bothers Mr. Temple: that Greg has not ever, and probably not soon will, tow the Bush company line.

I don't always agree with Greg Mitchell, but you'll notice I link to his work often because I think it's sound, accurate, honest, and very well worth the time. And, on a personal note, Greg's been nice enough to drop a note now and again because he takes the time to read what others are saying about his columns at E&P. But that contact came only after he already earned my high respect. Everyone I've talked to about Greg's columns - a considerable number, both in journalism and out - feel just about the same way I do.

So irrelevant? Nah.. not by a long shot. Perhaps Rocky Mountain News is just depressed it doesn't have anymore lovely Jon Benet Ramsey stories to boost circulation.

Reporters Should Do a Better Job of Covering How Bush Allows Personal Religion to Influence His Actions

Saul Friedman, in a great post over at Nieman Watch Dog, tells us:

Former White House reporter Saul Friedman says that, for the first time in modern American history, a president’s religion is determining policies, and the press should do a better job reporting it.

Sun-Times: "Bush is Signing Away Our Checks and Balances"

The Sun-Times is hardly a defty lefty (home to Bob Novak and others) yet its got one heluva strong and accurate oped, "Bush is Signing Away Our Checks and Balances" that I encourage you to check out. What Bush has already done and wants to do far more of in the future is the exact thing our forefathers warned us against if we concentrated power too greatly in a precious few.

From the piece:

The Constitution gives a president two choices in considering a bill passed by Congress: Sign or veto it, and tell Congress why. But starting with James Monroe, presidents have issued statements about their opinions of some bills, indicating they would not enforce some provisions. This was infrequent until Ronald Reagan, when signing statements became a way to influence the way legislation was interpreted by the courts. The statements became a political tool.

Still, no previous president holds President Bush's record when it comes to presidential signing statements. He's issued 807 vs. the 600 by all of the other presidents. He has made an art of cherry-picking parts of bills he doesn't like and regally declaring after he signs the bills that he has the authority not to carry out certain parts of them.

"He is usurping the power of Congress," declares Neal Sonnett, chairman of an American Bar Association task force that examined the issue of presidential signing statements and recently released a report about them that will be discussed at the ABA meeting in early August. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, agrees. He is presenting a bill to "authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president's acts declared unconstitutional."

...ABA task force member Bruce Fein, who helped Specter draft the bill, says Bush is making "Swiss cheese out of our laws." The framers of the Constitution created checks and balances within government exactly to prevent this royal approach. If Bush disagrees with bills he should veto them. Plain and simple.

Update on Bush's Vacation

As MissM points out (and remember to visit her blog here), officially Mr. Bush is only on vacation for 10 days. However, the White House usually tells us he only takes 6-10 days when he's at Crawford for the better part of a month with only GOP campaigning breaking up that month. MissM also points us to more on this topic from The Carpetbagger Report, a fellow Vermont blog that is top-notch. Steve outlines the very few times Bush has actually cut into his vacation time for anything approaching work.

And I'm in full agreement with Steve at The Carpetbagger, compared to Bush, Blair certainly does have his priorities straight.

Israeli Defense Forces and "Israel's Lost Moment"

In my earlier post, I referenced Patrick Lang, very connected within Washington and one of the best "authority" voices I've seen since 9/11 (his blog is here). In his piece, he referenced Charles Krauthammer's (the psychiatrist who proves shrinks can be complete and utter nutjobs) column in WaPo, "Israel's Lost Moment."

As I mentioned, this particular Krauthammer piece might be worth reading, just for the sub-text, if you get my drift.

You also may want to read Lang's piece in The Christian Science Monitor that analyzes the Israeli Defenses Forces (IDF) and asks if the IDF is "all they can be." While they've leveled massage amounts of damage in Lebanon, truly laying total waste to the infrastructure, I've been surprised at how badly they have performed. But let Lang tell you what he thinks.

Speaking of Hillary Clinton, Krugman Offers "Centrism is For Suckers"

Offered in full by Rozius, here's a snippet of Paul Krugman's latest column, "Centrism is For Suckers." It offers a look at what we need to think about going into November mid-term elections:

Put it this way: If the Democrats gain only five rather than six Senate seats this November, Senator James Inhofe, who says that global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” will remain in his current position as chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. And if that happens, the Sierra Club may well bear some of the responsibility.

The point is that those who cling to the belief that politics can be conducted in terms of people rather than parties — a group that also includes would-be centrist Democrats like Joe Lieberman and many members of the punditocracy — are kidding themselves.

The fact is that in 1994, the year when radical Republicans took control both of Congress and of their own party, things fell apart, and the center did not hold. Now we’re living in an age of one-letter politics, in which a politician’s partisan affiliation is almost always far more important than his or her personal beliefs. And those who refuse to recognize this reality end up being useful idiots for those, like President Bush, who have been consistently ruthless in their partisanship.

"The End of the Right" or "Is Conservatism Finished?"

E.J. Dionne covers this in The Washington Post.

However, I'll state - as I do probably too often - that Bush and his ilk are NOT really conservatives. They latched onto the label and the media uses it, but tried-and-true Republicans do not think of the Bushies as conservatives anymore than Dems think of Hillary Clinton as a super progressive lefty (ha!).

I do not believe The Right or Conservatism is finished. I'd much rather to keep Conservatism around than the Bush "flavor" of it. And only the extreme right are the destroyers of this country.

More on Buying of Green Party by GOP in Pennsylvania

Since I referenced it earlier, let me provide one of the links that talk about how the Republicans are financing the Green Party in Pennsylvania. There are also some links I can find that talks about the same thing for Lieberman, even before his announcement he was forming his own independent party, narcisstically named, "Lieberman for Connecticut".

"Devastating Report" of the CIA's Involvement in Kidnapping and Torture

Quote from the piece: "After 9-11 the gloves come off."

When you stop to think about some of what the CIA has historically done, that quote rings pretty damned scary. The excellent Nat Hentoff writes in The Village Voice of "Devastating Council of Europe report on CIA involvement with kidnapping and torture."

Read it and you'll understand why it's labeled devastating. It's all that and more, even to those of us who have read and researched about the many dark things done since 9-11-01.

Why the Democrats Can't Assume Big Wins in November Mid-Term Elections

I've posted before that I don't think it's wise for Dems - or any party that isn't represented by an elephant - to assume easy victories come the November mid-term elections, regardless of how low GOP candidates like Santorum are polling. Usually, however, my comments are specifically tied to the security-poor, fix-high electronic voting systems that largely Republicans control.

Yet there are other reasons Democrats could lose. One of the most obvious is that Dems don't always indicate they stand for something other than as opposition to a Republican candidate. But there's still a lot more.

There's also the matter that the Dems keep allowing Karl Rove and the GOP to write all the game rules and decide on the topic. Why? The Republicans don't dance all that well so why are they always the choreographer? You can't lay this entirely for blame on the media which really is far more GOP friendly than Dem-conscious; somehow, good Dems have to find a way to be seen and heard and powerful regardless of the Repugs. They're trying to do this with the plan to pull-out of Iraq, but the message isn't all that strong.

Another big problem is the Democratic Leadership Committee or DLC, separate from the Democratic National Committee or DNC, and far more like the relatively-few-in-number moderate Republicans than traditional Dems. Hillary Clinton is a good example of DLC style candidates who are more attractive to the Republicans (as a great target) than to many Democrats.

Funny thing is I don't know any Dems - or non-GOP types - who like the DLC, which is much more corporate and rich influence minded than the more grass/net roots style of the DNC under Howard Dean (and where the hell is Howard these days?). Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi has a piece on the DLC you may want to read called, "The Democrats are Still Doomed".

Finally, remember, too, that the GOP is underwriting distraction candidates: there is much evidence that Republicans are underwriting the Green Party in Pennsylvania and donating to Joe Lieberman in Connecticut.

The Future of Lebanon

I think it's probably fairly obvious to anyone who reads more than a few posts in this blog that I believe the military action wrought by Israel against Hezbollah but with the weight of this action truly felt by the civilian population of Lebanon, especially South Lebanon is wrong.

But it goes deeper than my sensibilities and my grave concern for the humanitarian crisis now playing out there as well as in some of the towns in Northern Israel. Let me try to explain.

First, Israel's stated objective is to wipe out Hezbollah. But that can't and won't happen, not even if Israel spends the next two centuries in Lebanon.

Not only will they fail to wipe out Hezbollah, Israel is creating new terrorists each and every day with its tactics. Last weekend's Qana Massacre alone will live in the hearts and minds and popular myths of the area for ages to come. If Israel stopped its operation in Lebanon right this very moment, their actions have already born whole new generations of terrorists, whether they align with Hezbollah or another group, or form their own collective.

What Israel is doing is very much like what the U.S. has done under the Bush doctrine, and anyone with half a brain realizes that this has not worked and it has done nothing but make matters far worse than they were before 9-11-2001.

Second, Israel bears a great deal of responsibility for the situation that allowed an organization like Hezbollah to come about in the first place. Examples (I'll cite just a few, but there are dozens):

a) their occupation of South Lebanon for years up until 2000 from which Lebanon has never, ever recovered
b) Israel's complete disrespect for any borders but their own
c) acts of aggression toward other nations and people only then to hide behind the powerful body of the United States when these other parties rebel against the aggression
d) Israel allows pro-Zionist religious extremists to operate against other races and nations but they yell to the max when other religious extremists try the same thing

Third, they have set up a military occupation unless and until an international peacekeeping force takes over. However, Israel isn't really going to allow such a force to operate unless Israel itself can run the show. So this force really isn't going to work; it won't save the lives of civilians at least in part because Israel does not want it to do so.

Fourth, by destroying so much of Lebanon, they have guaranteed that extremist organizations like Hezbollah will fill the void because they will provide services and some degree of infrastructure Israel has now decimated.

Israel Military Policy Under Fire After Lebanon's Qana Massacre

Buzzflash points us to The Forward, a Jewish weekly in New York, which talks about the questions and comments arising from last weekend's Qana Massacre in Lebanon and the Israeli military's policies that I think is definitely worth a read. Snippet here:

As Jerusalem defends itself against worldwide condemnation over a deadly air strike that killed dozens of Lebanese children, current and former Israeli officials acknowledge that the Israeli military has loosened the restrictions on targeting militants in populated areas.

After an Israeli air force raid Sunday on the Lebanese village of Qana left dozens of civilians dead, many of them children, human rights groups accused Israel of committing a "war crime." Many critics — including Israeli ones — are questioning the military's policy of bombing in densely populated Lebanese areas. As of earlier this week, more than 550 civilians had been killed in Lebanon during the current conflict, with Lebanese officials claiming that the civilian death toll has exceeded 750.

Following the Qana deaths, Israeli authors and intellectuals signed a petition calling for an immediate cease-fire and protesting the killing of civilians. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel called for an official commission of inquiry to investigate the military's bombing policies in Lebanon.

One of Israel's top political commentators, Nahum Barnea of Yediot Aharonot, also raised questions in his column Monday. "I am ashamed," wrote Barnea, whose criticism reverberated in Israel this week. Barnea argued that just because he feels that the war is justified "does not grant me an exemption from torturing myself with questions." The most piercing question, he wrote, "arose when I heard Defense Minister Amir Peretz boasting about how he has freed the army from limitations regarding the civilian population that lives alongside Hezbollah. One can understand the accidental killing of civilians, in the heat of battle. A sweeping order regarding the civilian population of South Lebanon and the Shi'ite neighborhoods of Beirut is rash, injudicious and will lead to disaster. We saw the results yesterday, with the bodies of women and children being brought out of the bombed house in Qana."

Barnea was referring to several statements that Peretz, leader of the left-of-center Labor Party, made in the course of the past three weeks, saying that he had directed the Israeli military not to be deterred by Hezbollah's use of civilians as "human shields." Other Israeli officials also indicated that the military's rules of engagement in the current fighting in Lebanon are more permissive than they have been in the past. Some said that Israel is attempting to "inflict pain" on Lebanon's civilian population to put public pressure on Hezbollah to disarm.

Hezbollah and Israel

As you no doubt heard, the Hezbollah's chief, Nasrallah, said that if Israel attacked Beirut, Lebanon again, he was prepared to unleash rockets that would rain down on Tel Aviv, one of the most important and populous of Israeli cities. As we all heard last night, Israel went after Beirut in a big way in the pre-dawn hours of Friday.

Is Hezbollah going to show it does indeed have rockets capable of crippling Tel Aviv? I don't know. I would certainly hate to see it happen, just as I've hated every moment of the wanton destruction Israel has visited upon Beirut and elsewhere.

Beirut has long been a city of distinction in the Middle East and home to many journalists covering Iraq and other regions; it will be decades perhaps before this great city can rebuild all that Israel has destroyed. I would not want to see that happen to Tel Aviv or any other Middle Eastern city for that matter.

Israel, The United States, and The Value of Allies

Patrick Lang long ago got my attention as someone more interested in the truth than in pat answers designed to serve those in power (the definition of "truthiness" comes to mind here). He's got a very interesting post up on the above-referenced subject, the value of allies, and looks at crazy Charles Krauthammer's not-totally-loony column deriding Olmert of Israel and what we can learn from the Lebanon crisis.


What the President Has Done Wrong Fills More Than a Book...

Can you say "High Crimes and Misdemeanors"? I knew you could.. but some of these entries are not just felonies, they rise to the definition of treason and also break international laws.

What Bush, Cheney, and company have done wrong fills more than three long books, actually. I noted that John Conyers was preparing to release a huge volume on the Bush Administration's many, many, MANY transgressions, but here's official word from Think Progress on it:

Constitution in Crisis: The report, which is some 350 pages in length and is supported by more than 1,400 footnotes, compiles the accumulated evidence that the Bush Administration has thumbed its nose at our nation’s laws, and the Constitution itself.”

What's Wrong With This Picture? Blair Postpones His Vacation Because of Lebanon, Bush Heads Off on Holiday for Four Weeks

Why am I surprised? I mean, the summer before 2001, when his people were telling him there was a significant risk of an attack on American soil, Bush took five weeks off and didn't want to be bothered by anything. Cutting brush is tough work (cough).

Bush needs a permanent vacation: in a black hole of a prison dungeon.


A Hot Fact

More than 80 days so far this year have broken records for all-time high temperatures.

Who needs to go out and buy a sauna?

A Fall River Tragedy

Lizzie Borden took an axe
She gave her mother 40 whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father 41

RIP Lizzie, Emma, Andrew J and Abby Durfee Gray Borden

'Twas on this day in 1892 that my family's neighbors in Fall River, Massachusetts discovered old Mr. Borden and his younger second wife had been butchered in their 92 Second Street home.

The rest, as they say, is history. Contrary to popular belief, Lizzie was ultimately acquitted of the charges.

Latest from Ha'aretz on Carnage a Trois: Israel-Lebanon-Hezbollah

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his second in command, Shimon Peres, are reportedly at odds over an even greater expansion of ground troops into Lebanon.

Also, five killed in strike on Acre, three in village near Ma'alot
37 people hurt in strikes on Hurfeish, Acre, Kiryat Shmona; 8 rockets hit Ma'alot in first nighttime attack

U.S. hopes for UN vote on Israel-Lebanon resolution by Friday

Chavez withdraws Venezuelan envoy citing Israeli 'genocide'

And Israelis are still weighing whether to accept Mel Gibson's just-ever-so-heartfelt apology (sarcasm mine)

Let Me Share an Email Comment on Mel Gibson

Molly kindly said I could share this with the rest of the "class":

All of this Mel Gibson business seems ever too silly except for one point that rips at both me and my girl friends.

At a time when many Jews here in the states have in their thoughts the terrible, dangerous situation in Israel and Lebanon, this selfish man wants every Jew to stop what they are doing to pay attention to him. His cause is entirely selfish too - he simply wants Jews to accept his apology so he can get on with his own life!

And Why Are We Sharing Top Secret NSA Intelligence with Israel?

I don't believe we should be doing this... at all!

A followup to the story by Sidney Blumenthal in Salon I pointed out to you this morning:

Blumenthal in Salon claims that Israel is receiving intelligence from the US's National Security Agency.

Blumenthal claims to be in touch with "a national security official with direct knowledge of the operation" to supply Israel with signals intelligence from American assets to help it monitor armament transfers from Syria and Iran to Hezbollah. He states that President Bush has approved the intelligence sharing.

Bush is being influenced by neoconservatives in his administration led by Vice President Dick Cheney's staff and Elliot Abrams, senior director for the Near East on the National Security Council. The group, according to Blumenthal, seeks to start a 'four front war' by giving Israel the pretext to strike Iran and Syria. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been briefed, but is not a central actor in the plan.

The National Security Agency is providing signal intelligence to Israel to monitor whether Syria and Iran are supplying new armaments to Hezbollah as it fires hundreds of missiles into northern Israel, according to a national security official with direct knowledge of the operation. President Bush has approved the secret program.

Inside the administration, neoconservatives on Vice President Dick Cheney's national security staff and Elliott Abrams, the neoconservative senior director for the Near East on the National Security Council, are prime movers behind sharing NSA intelligence with Israel, and they have discussed Syrian and Iranian supply activities as a potential pretext for Israeli bombing of both countries, the source privy to conversations about the program says. (Intelligence, including that gathered by the NSA, has been provided to Israel in the past for various purposes.) The neoconservatives are described as enthusiastic about the possibility of using NSA intelligence as a lever to widen the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah and Israel and Hamas into a four-front war.

More Than 900 Lebanese Civilians Dead, More Than a Third Children

... and Israel plans to take over more of Lebanon than it did during its last occupation which ended in 2000. Here from Ha'aretz:

Israel's three-week-old offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon has killed more than 900 people and wounded 3,000, with a third of the casualties children under 12, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said Thursday.

Siniora, in a video message to a summit of leaders of the Muslim world, added that a quarter of the population, or one million people, had been displaced.

In The "How You Can Tell It's Time for the President's Month-Long Vacation" Department

You can tell it's time for George Bush's richly deserved vacation when:

  • hundreds of children are dying in Lebanon while Bush tells us "Israel has a right to defend itself"
  • more people die in Iraq of violence each and every month than died in the U.S. in total on September 11th, 2001
  • the U.S. is at the highest level of debt ever and Mr. Bush hasn't even begun to spend
  • when hundreds of billions of dollars to fight the War on Terror and "rebuild" Iraq cannot be accounted for
  • he's far more concerned about his next meal than whether Muslims think we're trying to exterminate them
  • Dick Cheney got more in a tax refund this year than 98% of Americans will make in their lifetimes
  • his own policies make it far more likely that those who hate us will attack us
  • he's used the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution as his personal toilet paper
  • 2006 is the hottest year on record at a time when Bush has made certain that the worst polluters in the nation will be generously rewarded with corporate welfare and a "police yourselves 'cos we trust you" policy
and that's just a start...

The World According to White House Spokesgerm, Tony Snow(job)

You really have to hand it to Tony Snow(job); not long ago he was lying on Faux News and now he's at the White House everyday, blaming all the world's problems on... oh no.. not George Bush, not Dick Cheney, not even Donald Rumsfeld.

No, Tony always lays blame where it's so richly deserved: at the feet of 86-year-old Hearst columnist Helen Thomas. Two weeks ago Snow credited Thomas with making "Hezbollah's case for it" and this week, he claims, "You just made a Syrian argument against Israel."

Yeah, dear old Helen shows up for work every morning just to ruin America.

And isn't it pretty pitiful that Bush and Cheney and Snow are so terrified of an 86-year-old lady? Damned pitiful. But she's forgotten more ethics and morality than the three of them put together will ever know.

How Would the GOP Like to Reward Whistleblowers?

By criminalizing whistleblowers, of course.

After all, if the GOP has stood for anything since the election of Richard M. Nixon, it's stood for this central tenet: "The only true crime a felon commits is when he or she gets caught."

Just ask Karl Rove, or Scooter Libby, or Tom DeLay, or Jack Abramoff, or...

Raw Story: UN Report a Moral Indictment of the United States

Only in the Bush-Cheney years could something like this even become imaginable.

Hillary Clinton to Rumsfeld: "Why Should We Believe You?"

And here's something I apparently missed in today's Senate hearing with Rumsfeld and all the military brass: Hillary asked Rumsfeld to resign!

Israel Accused of Racism

Many scholars have said basically the same thing that this panel in Geneva is investigating, that some or a large part of Israel's practices amount to racism, with some going as far as to accuse them of ethnic cleansing (the latter is too big a jump for me to make based on the way the U.S., Britain, and others carved up the Middle East to place Israel there in 1948):

Members of a U.N. anti-discrimination panel criticized Israel on Thursday for killing civilians in Lebanon, accusing the Jewish state of violating international humanitarian law and racially targeting Arabs.

Israel rejected the allegations from the independent experts on the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination for lacking objectivity by failing to address Hezbollah’s behavior.

The sole American on the panel, Ralph Boyd, Jr., said the committee also needed to address the actions of other parties playing a role in the conflict — a clear reference to Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.

In The "Houston, We Have a Problem... er... Bug Exterminator...er..." Department

Well, Texas wanted Tom DeLay and that's exactly what they're getting, rules an appeals panel who, like the original judge, told the Texas GOP that they're stuck with the bug exterminator who never saw corruption he couldn't profit from, a mean trick he wouldn't pull, or money from hungry children he wouldn't take.

Elsewhere, a three-judge panel is expected to rule soon on that disastrous Texas redistricting the Texas GOP hand-carved to make sure no Democrats would be left in the state.

What Else We've Done in Iraq

MSNBC brings us the story of soldiers testifying about how they killed blindfolded - and sometimes bound - Iraqis.

The Record of Rumsfeld and Bush in Iraq

Judd at Think Progress has compiled an impressive list of... er... )what's the mirror opposite of accomplishments?) what's gone on in Iraq since Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld last appeared before Congress. Read it and weep (seriously):

It will be the first time Rumsfeld has testified publicly about the war before the committee since February 2006. Here’s what’s happened in Iraq since then:

– Approximately 300 U.S. troops have died in Iraq
– Approximately
2,530 U.S. troops have been wounded
– Well over
10,000 Iraq civilians have been killed
– Insurgents have conducted an average of
620 attacks per week
– In March there were 7.8 hours of electricity per day in Baghdad (down from 16-24 hours before the war), last month there were 7.6 hours.
– In March there were 133,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Today there are
132,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and plans to raise that number to 135,000.

That’s Rumsfeld’s record. Now he has to explain why it shows that we should “stay the course.”
Thanks, Judd (I believe Think Progress is one of the best information resources on the Web).

What a Mel-ee This Has Turned Into

I really don't want to waste a lot of font on DWI Man Mel Gibson who, in my opinion, has always been a phenomenal waste of time. But I was rather pissed that police charged him only with the least of his reported offenses from last Friday early AM's traffic stop, letting him walk on the two times he actively tried to escape custody, with assaulting one of the deputies, and some of the other chicanery.

Then he hires a big-shot lawyer NOT because he needs the legal help, per se, because the sheriff's department didn't charge him on any of the felonies he apparently committed, but just to keep the video of his traffic stop from appearing before the public.

What a jerk! What's "funnier" is to hear the far right go to bat for him. A woman named Jennifer Giroux appearing on Scarborough Country last night stepped over all the other guests to "protect" Mel, implying it was "an evil plot by Christ killers" to hurt this man of God. I thought she was going to attack the rabbi that was on as she kept telling him that "men like you" try to revise history" so people won't know the truth: that you killed Christ!" This is a paraphrase; unfortunately, her actual words and behavior were even worse. I don't know where they dug her up from.

And that esteemed brain trust, Dr. Phil, on Leno last night said nobody should fault Gibson for one little thing he said late at night after a couple of beers. Like I said: true brain trust. Just remember that Oprah once told us that he was like the smartest man she had ever met. Tells you something about Oprah, no?

Live from Lebanon

During MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann", they were showing live pictures - rather spectacular although that sounds like something positive rather than something horrific - from south of Beirut where major explosions were going off.

Although Israel said this was a "Hezbollah stronghold", Olbermann rightly indicated "they have been wrong about such things before". Like the Bush Administration, every "hit" is a terrorist sometimes even after it's long since been proven that it was no terrorist they hit.

One thing the Bush years have finally taught me: state-sponsored terrorism kills just as deadly, hurts just as much as individual or insurgent terrorism.

On Cuba

I don't know about you, but I'm more than a tad creeped that former Cubans are dancing in the street down in Florida, holding lavish parties at what could be a premature belief that Fidel Castro is dead and gone. It's morbid and weird and I would tend to think these folks should be more concerned about the country they came to live in rather than the one they left.

But the Bushies are just as bad. They've got a game plan, apparently, for how to take over Cuba and run it once Fidel is gone. Newsweek tackles the post-Castro game plan.

Update on Lebanon - The Start of Day 23 of the Israeli Incursion into Lebanon

MSNBC just reported two items: first, that fresh explosions have rocked Beirut, but with no explanation yet what they are (Israeli fire, I imagine) and how many died (too many, no doubt).

The second announcement is that the Bush Administration announced today that the U.S. would train the Lebanese Army. Oh boy... like we trained the Iraq Army? We've seen how well that has gone.

Also from MSNBC:

Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned that the fighting was causing a backlash against moderate Arab leaders and was strengthening the very radicals it was intended to destroy. “The Arab people see Hezbollah as a hero because it’s fighting Israel’s aggression,” he said.

The fighting in Gaza, which began June 25 after Hamas-linked militants captured an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid, has killed a total of 175 Palestinians, the U.N. reported Thursday, adding that it was concerned that “with international attention focusing on Lebanon, the tragedy in Gaza is being forgotten.”

An Honest Newspaper Front Page...

Thanks to Dudlee for the link.

A Side Note on the Issue of Children And the Israel-Lebanon-Hezbollah Carnage a Trois

BadTux (my favorite blogging Penguin) places tongue firmly in adorable cheek to note in Comments here:

But... but... the Lebanese children are BROWN! And the Israeli children are WHITE! How dare you imply that brown children are just as precious as white children?!-- Badtux the Typical American Penguin
Sadly, this is just how the freepers actually think.. and post everyday.

However, let me point you to something better to behold: BadTux's "A Penguin's Guide to Comparative Religions" - I enjoyed it immensely.

So Many Children and Infants Are Dying in Lebanon, Especially South Lebanon

Unicef and other aid organizations estimate that as many as 35% of the civilians dead in Lebanon from Israeli airstrikes are young children, or nearly 300 kids.

From the (UK) Guardian:
Huge numbers of children are being killed, injured or displaced in south Lebanon. ...Three days ago, next to the gutted and destroyed house in Qana, seven bodies lay covered with bedsheets, a blanket and a prayer mat. One small arm stretched out from under the sheets; thin, the arm of a little girl, a piece of cloth like a bracelet wrapped around the wrist. As bodies were loaded on the stretcher, I saw another dead girl; she was dressed in a black shirt with a coloured scarf wrapped loosely around her head. Her face was swollen.

... as I stood there registering that emotion, hellish scenes were unfolding. Four medics carried a little boy by on an orange stretcher: he was perhaps 12 years old, dressed in black shorts and a white T-shirt with a coloured motorcycle on it. His arms were stretched behind his head, but apart from the bruises on his face and the swollen lips, he looked OK. For half a second I told myself, as I tell myself every time I see death, that he was just sleeping, and that he would be fine. But he was dead.

Then came two more boys in the arms of the rescuers. One of them, the younger, around eight years old, had his arms close to his chest, his nose and mouth covered with blood. The elder, around 10, had dirt and debris in his mouth. Their slight bodies were put on a blanket, the head of the younger boy left resting on the shoulder of the elder, then four men carried the blanket off, stopping twice to rest as they took them away. The bodies of the boys were piled with other corpses in the back of an ambulance.

Two more small dead boys followed them...

What is obvious to everyone covering this conflict is that children are bearing the brunt of it. The few official figures collated so far seem to support this. Unicef says that 37 of the 60 dead in Qana on Sunday were children, and everywhere you go, it seems that it is the children who are being killed, injured and displaced. Yesterday the Lebanese government said that of the 828 of its civilians killed in the conflict so far, around 35% have been children - that's around 290.

Unicef also estimates that about a third of the dead have been children, although it bases that figure on the fact that an estimated 30% of Lebanon's population are children, rather than any actual count of the dead. There are no official figures yet for the number of wounded children, but they will certainly exceed the number killed; as for those displaced, Unicef says that 45% of the estimated 900,000 Lebanese to have fled their homes are children.

Aid agencies believe that the reason children are suffering so much in this conflict is because of the big families that are traditional in south Lebanon. "You are not talking about nuclear families, you are talking about families huddling together with four, five or six children. Inevitably, a high percentage of children are killed," says Anis Salem, a Unicef spokesman. "We estimate that before Qana, 30% of the deaths were children, but it is a very fluid situation and that figure can quickly become redundant."

GOP: In Its Greed, It Never Feels Like it Has Enough Power

The New York Times - quite rightly, IMHO - criticizes the Bush Justice Department for taking powers away from a Democrat elected Secretary of State to hand instead to that state's (Alabama) Republican governor, Bob Riley.

At issue is something pretty significant: Alabama's voter database... and we've already been treated to numerous examples of what happens when the Rethugs handle a state's voter database (can you say Blackwell in Ohio in 2004 or Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris in Florida in 2000?).

White House Happily Tosses Press Corps From the White House

Dan Froomkin blogs on the "dismissal" of the press corps from the White House, and Bush's strange appearance at it (he asked Helen Thomas for a kiss and the great lady wisely declined; remember what Bush's kiss did to Lieberman ::cough::choke::).

The Terrible Mess of Iraq and Its Grim Prognosis

Generals testified before the Senate today that Iraq is at its worst and that civil war is likely; Brit's ambassador agrees that civil war is likely (while many believe Iraq has long since entered a civil war). Also, the Christian Science Monitor has more on a leaked memo that spells out civil war in the land where civilization was born; the memo also spells out the possible division of Iraq into different religious territories (a sad way to end things, IMHO).

Remember this when the GOP decides to follow Newt Gingrich and the neocons' advice to go after Iran and Syria. By comparison, Iraq will seem like a cake walk.

Military Missing More Than One Class of Americans

ABC News online notes that upper middle class Americans are mostly missing from the military. True? Hell, yes. But those who sit above the upper middle class are missing even more.

The Bush twins, for example, graduated college 2.5 years ago and they haven't been near a job yet. However, with their fondness for drinking and drugs, I don't think the military needs them. ::cough::

Also, while the ABC story noted how John McCain's youngest son, Jimmy, has enlisted... well... let's see what Jimmy does. I suspect daddy's presidential desires play a role here. And a hell of a lot more attention has been paid to Jimmy McCain enlisting than to Sen. Max Baucus' nephew dying in Iraq.

More on Israeli Incursions

Beyond the updated 8 Israelis killed from a record number of Hezbollah (Hizbollah) rockets fired into Israel, the wires report that Israel is preparing for a massive new push into Lebanon. Muslim nations have expressed complete outrage over the pounding Beirut and other communities are taking from Israel.

Also, eight more Palestinians have died from Israeli strikes in Gaza.

Elsewhere, Iranian president Ahmadinejad is reported to have said that the Middle East crisis can be ended if Muslims band together and destroy Israel. I say reported because we've learned before that the media, especially American media, have been known to be less than faithful in careful translation of the Iranian president's words. Now, I don't think there is any love lost between Tel Aviv and Tehran, but I am concerned that the bad translation may, at least in part, be intentional to inflame passions and hatred.

How and Why the Coverage of the Israel-Hezbollah War in Lebanon Differs Between America and the Entire Rest of the World

[Ed. note: Update: The New York Times now reports eight (8) Israelis dead from Hizbollah/Hezbollah rockets; an update on Lebanese civilian war dead, however, did not seem to rate a headline.]

In my previous post, I noted how many online newspapers and news services I had to peruse before I found a single one - and that first one was, to my surprise, a Texas paper: The Chronicle out of Houston, if I recall correctly - to mention the Lebanese war dead. Almost all noted that five Israelis had died of Hezbollah rocket fire, but the civilians in Lebanon were apparently not worth noting.

This isn't an individual, unique incident. The war the American media gives us is a much different one that the entire rest of the world sees. American media focuses almost exclusively on Israel, which is why you will hear constantly of Israelis wounded or killed, but not of the death toll each day of Lebanese unless Israel claims some of the dead are Hezbollah guerillas. I've yet to hear one major media outlet here mention how Israel bombed a hospital yesterday, for example, the one noted at Juan Cole's Informed Comment.

Democracy Now today did a very good presentation showing the sharp contrast between American vs. rest of the world handling of this war. For those with access to Free Speech TV, you can see this program again tonight at 7 PM ET. The rest can watch/listen to it by visiting their Web site here. You'll learn all about the Israeli propaganda machine which may be more sophisticated even than the corporate media machine here in the U.S.

Lest you think this is not important enough to bother with, please reconsider. Once you see how news about this war is filtered, your eyes and ears and more importantly, your mind may open to how much else is filtered.. how you see very little of what goes on in this country, let alone the greater world around us.

A Few Words About the Dead

See the bulldozer pictured here? This is how they are burying the dead in Lebanon; in part, because there are so many victims. Some 16 were killed in an Israeli airstrike in just one town.

I had to look through 11 different U.S. papers before I heard of any Lebanese dead whatsoever, although all of the 11 talked about the five precious lives lost in Israel to Hezbollah rockets. Both races' lives are precious... so why does America largely document only one? If you think the only Lebanese dead are Hezbollah guerillas, think again. I doubt the babies and the children under ten, under five years of age are armed Hezbollah fighters although they are, indeed, just as dead.

Tony Blair Sounds More Drumbeats of a Coming War

British Prime Minister Tony Blair called out Syria and Iran for supporting extremist factions in Lebanon and Palestine, almost as if his speech was written by a) the neocons or b) Israel's Olmert.

That drum's got to be a little tired already.

Why Is The U.S. Looking Only At Israel To Please Them? GOP Votes for November Is Why

So many Lebanese can die in Israel's hunt for Hezbollah just so Rick Santorum and his ilk can get re-elected in November and beyond. Nice. Funny thing is I've been around some of these movers and shakers and, in private, you probably could not find a more decidedly anti-Semitic crowd, but they're more than willing to pander so long as they keep power. ::shaking head in disgust::

From today's WaPo:

Republicans are hoping a strong defense of Israel translates into greater support among Jewish voters this fall, but the biggest political benefits are likely to come long after the 2006 campaign concludes, according to political and demographic experts studying Jewish voting trends.

The Jewish group proving most receptive to Republican overtures over the past decade is among the smallest: Orthodox Jews. Right now, they account for roughly 10 percent of the estimated 5.3 million Jews in the United States, hardly enough to tip most elections.

This is likely to change significantly in the years ahead because Orthodox Jews are the fastest-growing segment of the Jewish population, raising the possibility that one of the most reliable Democratic voting blocs will be increasingly in play in future elections, according to surveys of Jewish voting and religious and social habits.

"The likelihood is there will be a very quick jump in the number of orthodox as the baby boomers age and die," said David A. Harris of the American Jewish Committee, a nonpartisan organization that conducts an annual survey of Jews. "They will be increasingly replaced by Orthodox children who are more" in line with Republicans.
I sincerely doubt that the future of American Judaism is with the Orthodox Jews. Granted, they are much more likely to have far more offspring than Reformed Jews, but still...

What I said above about how men like Santorum will pander holds true. I think most of us - those with any morality whatsoever - would think that anyone they would not invite to their own dinner table or speak with if they didn't need something from that person is not someone you should pander to. But the Santorums and Hatches and Hasterts of the world will look down their nose at Jews - which is heinously wrong to do - while in public courting their votes.

I think many Jews understand that the GOP is only pandering to them and feel comfortable in resisting such efforts, as they should. They see the GOP do the same thing with other groups, like blacks and Hispanics, being nice to them in public and completely insulting once the klieg lights are dimmed.

France, Its Resolution, and the Middle East Crisis

France has balked more than most European countries in their displeasure with how Mr. Bush is (mis)handling the Middle East crisis; they refused to sit down in a meeting where the international peacekeeping force was to be discussed (with - as I mentioned yesterday - the U.S. as coordinator which presents a problem for some countries right there) although France says it is most willing to provide personnel as peacekeepers.

France has also circulated a resolution of their own regarding the conflict where Israel is pounding Lebanon in its efforts to "wipe out" Hezbollah (like that will happen). But, as France is no doubt aware, the U.S. in the Bush years listens to no one except the prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert.

Here's WaPo's summary of the French resolution:

The new draft reiterates France and other nations' call "for an immediate cessation of hostilities," and emphasizes "a lasting solution to the current crisis between Israel and Lebanon."

The conditions include: release of the two Israeli soldiers whose abduction sparked the current fighting; "settlement of the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel;" and marking the international borders of Lebanon, including in the disputed area known as Chebaa Farms.

The resolution requires the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon and the extension of the Lebanese government's authority throughout southern Lebanon, which is now controlled by Hezbollah.

It includes establishment of a buffer zone where only Lebanese security forces and U.N.-mandated international forces would be allowed.

More Deaths in Gaza

On Israel's other war front, seven Palestinians have died.

Sidney Blumenthal: "The Neocons Next War"

Salon brings us this:

By secretly providing NSA intelligence to Israel and undermining the hapless Condi Rice, hardliners in the Bush administration are trying to widen the Middle East conflict to Iran and Syria, not stop it.

More on Bush's Planned Expansion of "Special Courts" and "Secret Proceedings"

From Australia's The Age (also check out this earlier post):

The proposed legislation, being discussed at Senate hearings this week, is controversial because defendants would be denied many protections guaranteed by the civilian and military criminal justice systems.

Defendants would lack rights to confront accusers, exclude hearsay accusations or bar evidence obtained through coercive interrogations. They would not be guaranteed a public or speedy trial and would lack the right to choose their military counsel, who in turn would not be guaranteed equal access to evidence held by prosecutors.

An early draft of the bill leaked to the media last week has been modified in response to criticism from military lawyers. But the provisions allowing an expansion of the courts were retained.

Some experts say the new procedures provide no more protection than the ones struck down by the Supreme Court. John Hutson, the navy's top uniformed lawyer from 1997 to 2000, said the rules would evidently allow the government to tell a prisoner: "We know you're guilty. We can't tell you why, but there's a guy, we can't tell you who, who told us something. We can't tell you what, but you're guilty."

Bruce Fein, an associate deputy attorney-general during the Reagan administration, said after reviewing the leaked draft that "the theme of the Government seems to be: 'They are guilty anyway, and therefore due process can be slighted.' "

With these procedures, Mr Fein said, "there is a real danger of getting a wrong verdict" that would let a lower-echelon detainee "rot for 30 years" at Guantanamo Bay because of evidence contrived by personal enemies.

So Much for Joementum

Ned Lamont's lead over incumbent US Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) continues to climb, despite Joe's efforts to tie a lack of support of him to anti-Semitic forces.

I think Joe needs to look elsewhere for reasons he is doing so poorly in a race that should have been a "cake walk" for him.

Fighting in Lebanon Intensifies

With Israeli troops still streaming en masse over the Lebanese border, fighting there continues to intensify. "Pound Beirut's Suburbs" is the WaPo's headline. Unfortunately, those suburbs are far more filled by civilians than by Hezbollah.

Brokeback Heatwave

Well, I believe our 9 or 10 thunderstorms in less than 30 hours finally broke the back of the heat wave up here, with relief arriving for New York City and other parts of the East Coast by tomorrow.

I can't say the weather here is delightful, but now it's just warm and soupy, rather than boiling hot and sweltering.

Majority of Americans Now Back Complete Iraq Pullout

A Gallup poll for the first time reports the majority of those polled (55%) want to see a complete pull-out of military from Iraq by year's end.

At this point, I think Iraqis would offer flowers and kisses (remember the ones Cheney insisted they would tender upon our arrival?) if we got the hell out.

Once Again, the Bushies Defecate All Other the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and American Citizens

This is beyond the pale. The Bushies' response to anyone, like the Supreme Court's narrow but winning decision that they are wrong in these military tribunals, is to demand more power to "disappear" and "try" people secretly... and now even without any excuse of "terrorism".

Pay attention to this from yesterday's Miami Herald:

A draft Bush administration plan for special military courts seeks to expand the reach and authority of such ''commissions'' to include trials, for the first time, of people who are not al Qaeda members or the Taliban and are not directly involved in acts of international terrorism, according to officials familiar with the proposal plan.

The plan, which would replace a military trial system ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in June, also allows the secretary of defense to add crimes at will to those under the military court's jurisdiction. The two provisions would be likely to put more individuals than previously expected before military juries, officials and independent experts said.

The draft proposed legislation, set to be discussed at two Senate hearings today, is controversial inside and outside the administration because defendants would be denied many protections guaranteed by the civilian and traditional military criminal justice systems.

Under the proposed procedures, defendants would lack rights to confront accusers, exclude hearsay accusations, or bar evidence obtained through rough or coercive interrogations. They would not be guaranteed a public or speedy trial and would lack the right to choose their military counsel, who in turn would not be guaranteed equal access to evidence held by prosecutors.

Detainees also would not be guaranteed the right to be present at their own trials, if their absence is deemed necessary to protect national security or individuals.
Alas, none of us has the luxury of believing, "Oh, this can't happen to us. Because we've already seen many people who thought that disappeared or irrevocably injured by their "secret" shit.

Rumsfeld Before Senate Armed Services Committee Today

Well, Rumsfeld finally showed up on Capitol Hill after blowing it off that he was "too busy" to be bothered. And, once he got there, his mission seemed to be to point to Iran and say, "They're the root of all evil and must be stopped!"

Drumbeats of war? Not so faint anymore.

I'm beginning to believe that the GOP actually has enough cojones (probably rented for a high price) to take us into war with Iran, not to make us safer, not to "defeat" a real enemy, but simply to ensure they retain power in November.


Good Night, Murray Bookchin

You may never have heard of Murray Bookchin, but others have. Among his other gifts to us, he founded the Institute for Social Ecology in my neighboring town of Plainfield, VT. DailyKos has a small tribute to him.

What? CNN Finally Hired Someone Who Isn't a Robot or a Putz?

A CNN anchor, while talking with an Israeli spokeswoman, happened to show some distaste for the civilian deaths in Lebanon. Good for her.

The Lebonese civilian deaths are no less tragic than the Israeli deaths; the Lebonese also die at a much greater rate than the Israelis, with an astronomical difference between the woundings as well. This business of only certain deaths deserve sadness is just unbelievable to me.

Oliver Stone's World Trade Center Opens in a Week

Here's what Arianna Huffington has to say about the film (she calls it a "political rorschach test):

When it comes to politics, World Trade Center is the cinematic equivalent of a Rorschach test. People will see in it what they want to see. Already, some are hailing it as a "flag-waving, God Bless America film," while others are describing it as "apolitical." In truth, it's neither jingoistic nor apolitical. Its politics is woven within the fabric of the movie and within our own memories of that tragic day. For me, the film serves as a reminder of what is at stake in the fight against terrorism -- and what has been squandered by the Bush administration in terms of money, lives, and global goodwill.

Bill Maher: Occasionally Right, More Often Not So Much

I just read Bill Maher's piece over on Huffington Post (there's two minutes I won't get back in this lifetime). In it, he basically says we're all Mel Gibson because our anti-semitism floats to the surface without much effort whatsoever. One of the examples he uses to prove this point is the hue and cry over Qana and the civilian casualties in Lebanon.

Sorry, Bill, this is one of those times where it becomes painfully clear how you can count Ann Coulter as a "good friend".

Well before the Lebanon incursion, it was certainly very possible to find fault with the Israeli government's policies without hating Jews. The same holds true after the incursion and after last weekend's Qana Massacre as well.

It's ridiculous this idea that criticizing Israel's politics makes one an anti-semite. For this to be true, I would have to believe that Israel is a complete theocracy which, to my understanding, it is not. It would be like saying that anyone who disagrees with a policy by the U.S. government is anti-Christian (after all, wouldn't the GOP love you to believe that they have made American into a Christian theocracy?).

I'll tell you something sad. For a very long time - like a decade or more - I did not openly question decisions made by Israel for fear my opinion might seem anti-Semitic. For someone who grew up in an extremely narrow-minded and racist household, I have been truly blessed in gifts given to me by people of other cultures and religions. Among them are Jews who taught me so much about peace, about justice, about living a life of commitment, about love, about acceptance and about forgiveness. Thus, the last thing I wanted to do was say something which might be construed as "anti-Jew".

Rather appropriately, it was more than one Jew who finally convinced me that I could disagree with the policies and practices of the State of Israel without labeling myself anti-anything. Perhaps you need to meet these same people, Bill.

Maureen Dowd: Mel's Tequila Sunrise

Even Modo weighs in on Moron Mel Gibson's plight (read it all courtesy of Rozius):

Mr. Gibson appears to believe that the Jews control everything. It is an ancient anti-Semitic insult. But now that he has gotten into trouble for his bigoted views, he has thrown himself at the mercy of the object of his bigotry.

He said he wants to “meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one-on-one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing.”

He added: “I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery.”

It’s not the first time he’s gotten in trouble for intolerance. When “Braveheart” came out in 1995, Mr. Gibson ranted and raved when Frank Bruni, then the movie critic for The Detroit Free Press, asked him about some reportedly homophobic remarks he had made three years earlier to a Spanish-language magazine. The magazine quoted him as saying that he became an actor “despite” the fear that it might lead people to assume he was gay. Ecce homo! He told Frank that the arbiters of political of correctness were “tantamount to Nazis.”

Now that the volatile Mr. Gibson has pleaded for guidance from leaders of the American Jewish community, I decided to consult the only one I know. I asked Leon Wieseltier, the author of “Kaddish ” and the literary editor of The New Republic, how he would help Mel heal.

“He has been a very bad goy,’’ Leon said.

“It is really rich to behold Gibson asking Jews to behave like Christians. Has he forgotten how bellicose and wrathful and unforgiving we are? Why would a people who start all the wars make a peace? Perhaps he’s feeling a little like Jesus, hoping that the Jews don’t do their worst and preparing himself for more evidence of their disappointing behavior.“I have always wondered why people who believe that we control the world do not have more respect for us. Take that cop who arrested Gibson. Do you think it was a coincidence that he was a Jew? We have been following Gibson’s every move since he released that movie. The other night, when our uniformed brother spotted him bobbing and weaving in his star car, we saw an opportunity and we took it. Don’t blame us. It’s what Yahweh would do.

“When Officer Mee busted him, we all busted him.

“Moreover, it is the elders’ considered view that whereas alcoholism may require a process of recovery, anti-Semitism is a more intractable and less chic failing. This was not a moment of insanity, even if Gibson is insane. His hatred of Jews was plain in his movie and in his twisted defense of it, which was made when he was sober under the influence of his primitive world view. Perhaps he thinks that all he needs to do is spend a few months in AA — Anti-Semites Anonymous — and find some celebrity sponsor and run for absolution to Larry Zeiger, I mean Larry King, where he can say with perfect sincerity that the Holocaust was a terrible thing and gut yontif.