Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
It's a mad, mad, mad, mad Rick Santorum
According to RawStory, embattled Senatorial re-run Rick Santorum is upset that former Iranian president Khatami is coming to America. Meanwhile, Jimmy Carter may put his own anger aside and meet with the former Iranian leader.

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posted by JReid @ 9:11 AM  
Hey flat daddy!
The Daily Kos probes the outer edges of ridiculousness with the latest tragedy spawned from the disastrous Iraq war: the flat daddy.

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posted by JReid @ 8:43 AM  
California quitteration?
Could California vote to quit the Electoral College? And could the country eventually follow?
Lawmakers sent Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a bill Wednesday that would make California the first state to jump aboard a national movement to elect the president by popular vote.

Under the legislation, California would grant its electoral votes to the nominee who gets the most votes nationwide — not the most votes in California. Get enough other states to do the same, backers of the bill say, and soon presidential candidates will have to campaign across the nation, not just in a few key "battleground" states such as Ohio and Michigan that can sway the Electoral College vote.

"Frankly, the current system doesn't work," said Assemblyman Rick Keene (R-Chico), the only Republican to vote for the bill. "Presidential candidates don't bother to visit the largest state in the nation…. California is left out."

If Schwarzenegger signs the bill — AB 2948 by Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D-Anaheim) — California will be the first state to embrace the "national popular vote" movement, though legislation is pending in five other states: New York, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado and Louisiana.

The California legislation would not take effect until enough states passed such laws to make up a majority of the Electoral College votes — a minimum of 11 states, depending on population.

The governor's office said Schwarzenegger has not taken a position on the bill. ...

Something to think about.

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posted by JReid @ 7:51 AM  
Israel's immoral choice
The U.N. has condemned Israel's use of cluster bombs toward the end of its conflict with Hezbollah on Lebanese soil. Here's the story from the Financial Times, which I'm sure will be roundly condemned as biased and anti-Semitic forthwith...

The United Nations on Wednesday described as “shocking and immoral” the fact that Israel dropped well over 90 per cent of its cluster munitions in Lebanon during the last three days of the conflict – when it was already clear there would be a cessation of hostilities.

Jan Egeland, UN humanitarian chief, made his comments just hours after Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general, left Israel after talks with Ehud Olmert, prime minister, and other government members. The UN said Mr Annan had asked Israel to provide a map of where cluster weapons were used but did not raise Mr Egeland’s concerns because he was unaware of the details during his Jerusalem visit.

Israel intensified its military offensive in southern Lebanon in the 72 hours between Security Resolution 1701 being signed in New York and the ceasefire on August 14.

Cluster weapons contain dozens of small explosives which spread over a wide area and are either air-dropped or ground launched.

The UN said it had identified 359 cluster bomb-strike locations, and that 102,000 unexploded small bombs continued to maim and kill people every day.

“Civilians will die disproportionately again, after the war,” he said. “This should not have happened. It’s an outrage.”

He added that countries which had supplied Israel with the munitions, including the US, should take the matter up with the Israeli government.

Mr Olmert and Mr Annan had earlier held talks on the implementation of resolution 1701.

But after the meeting Mr Olmert did not respond to the secretary-general’s call for a lifting of the air and sea blockade that the UN official had called a humiliation for the Lebanese.

UN officials travelling with Mr Annan said later he was still optimistic that Israel would reconsider its position, and repeated his call for a first gesture to be made by lifting the air blockade of the country.

“The government of Lebanon is one we wish to support,” said Ahmad Fawzi, the secretary-general’s spokes man. “By continuing this blockade we are not doing so. On the contrary, we are undermining this government.” ...
And therein lies the rub. It looks like Kofi is trying to push Israel toward compliance with the international community's directive that it withdraw from Lebanese territory immediately -- something the Israelis are resisting. And without any real sway over Tel Aviv, the U.N. might be resorting to airing a bit of Israel's dirty laundry, to try and shame it into action.

I doubt the strategy will work. To my knowledge, Israel has never really listened to the U.N. Why they would start now is beyond me.

Update:

The Independent reports the cluster bomb controversy is increasing global pressure for a total ban on these nasty munitions.


Pressure for an international ban on cluster bombs has intensified as Israel stands accused of littering southern Lebanon with thousands of unexploded bombs in the final hours of its war against Hizbollah.

Campaigners yesterday accused the Israel Defence Force of leaving a "minefield" of deadly bomblets in villages and fields after firing hundreds of cluster shells, rockets and bombs across its northern border in the three days before hostilities ended earlier this month.

United Nations officials said that 12 people had been killed, and another 49 injured by such bombs since the war ended and that the casualty rate was likely to rise.

The Israeli government insists that it did not target civilians during the conflict and says all weaponry used was in accordance with international law.

Israel insists its use of weaponry is legal. However, anti-landmine campaigners have been pressing for an international ban on their use, arguing that cluster bombs are indiscriminate and their use in populated areas may contravene international law.

Mine-clearance specialists said densely populated southern Lebanon was blighted by thousands of unexploded bomblets, which can kill or maim if they are moved or touched. In one case this week 35 bomblets were cleared from in and around one house, while in another a woman lost her hands when a bomblet apparently became tangled in her tobacco crop.

Yesterday the United Nations official in charge of bomb disposal in southern Lebanon said his staff had identified 390 strikes by cluster munitions, and had disposed of more than 2,000 bomblets since the ceasefire.

Chris Clarke, head of the UN mine action service in southern Lebanon, said: "This is without a doubt the worst post-conflict cluster bomb contamination I have ever seen."

In a presentation at the international conference on conventional weapons in Geneva yesterday, he said that the "vast majority" of cluster bombs had been fired by the Israeli Defence Force in the final three days of the conflict, prompting campaigners to accuse the Israeli government of targeting civilian populations.

Mr Clarke, who has worked in bomb clearance in Sudan, Kosovo, Kuwait and Bosnia, said the number of confirmed strikes was "climbing every day". He said: "They are everywhere in south Lebanon. We are still looking. Pretty much the whole of south Lebanon is carpeted with these things." He predicted that specialists would take up to six months to remove the worst threat from unexploded weaponry and said full clearance could take a further year.


Tags: , , , Politics, Israel, Terrorism, War, News, Lebanon
posted by JReid @ 12:50 AM  
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Thank you, Keith Olbermann
On tonight's "Countdown," Keith Olbermann placed himself in a class by himself (sorry, Anderson Cooper.) His dismantling of Donald Rumsfeld and the Bush administration's argument that they alone hold the keys to truth about Iraq and the so-called "war on terror" (given that so far, they have gotten everything -- literally everything -- wrong) and that dissent from their policiies or rhetoric is the equivalent of Neville Chamberlainism, was brilliant, succinct, and powerful, more than worthy of his hero, Edward R. Murrow, whom he also quoted. I'll post the video and transcript soon. Suffice it to say that Keith turned Rummy and Company's argument precisely against them, proving that it is they who mimick the government of Neville Chamberlain, who in the 1930s led England down the path to appeasement through ignorance, ignobility, and a belief that their critics had to be marginalized and pushed aside. It is the Bushies who are behaving like the 1930s government of England, not their critics. And like the Chamberlain administration, they have gotten it all, horribly, grotesquely, wrong.

I only hope that a majority of Americans continue to see through them.

Update: Here is the text of Keith's remarks. The video is also available at that link. And here is a transcript, which I can't resist reprinting in full:
The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants -- our employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as “his” troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For in their time, there was another government faced with true peril—with a growing evil—powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the “secret information.” It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s -- questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.

It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions — its own omniscience -- needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all — it “knew” that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History — and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England — have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty — and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus, did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.

Excepting the fact, that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute -- and exclusive -- in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis.

It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today's Omniscient ones.

That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.

And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.

Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience -- about Osama Bin Laden's plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein's weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina's impact one year ago -- we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their "omniscience" as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to envelop this nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have -- inadvertently or intentionally -- profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emporer's New Clothes?

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?

The confusion we -- as its citizens-- must now address, is stark and forbidding.

But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note -- with hope in your heart -- that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light, and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld's other main assertion, that this country faces a "new type of fascism."

As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that -- though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed: "confused" or "immoral."

Thus, forgive me, for reading Murrow, in full:

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty," he said, in 1954. "We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular."

And so good night, and good luck.
You can also get the video (without ads) at C&L.

Tags: , Bush, Iraq, Politics, Cheney, War, News, Iraq War,
posted by JReid @ 9:04 PM  
Unmasked
Senator Ted Stevens of Bridge to Knowhere, Alaska, admits to being the secret bill holder...
posted by JReid @ 5:33 PM  
The pitiful report
Rpbert Novak codifies the horrors contemplated by Republicans in November in his latest political dispatch, reprinted by Human Events. The operative word on GOP prospects of picking up seats in Congress this year: pitiful. Meanwhile:
f Democrats prove that they can hold their leads against the vulnerable GOP districts in the third and fourth columns, then they will press their advantage effectively and probe for more weaknesses until they start winning in seats in the second column of the chart (leans GOP) and even the first (likely Republican Retention). If this happens, it will be like a dike bursting for the GOP. Too many holes will appear to be plugged up, and Democrats will almost certainly take the House. Then we will have concrete reasons to expect a 25 or 26 seat GOP loss.

Key to Democrats' victory, again, will be the removal of their own marginal incumbents from their endangered condition. The less spent by Democrats on their own seats, the more they can spend unseating the many marginal Republicans. No matter how they play it, Republican strategists cannot effectively play defense everywhere.

From the perspective of contested races, Democrats are clearly at the controls. They have two main obstacles to overcome, from a big-picture perspective: The first is their decisive technological and methodological disadvantage when it comes to voter turnout, demonstrated in the 2004 election. The second is the irrelevance of the Democratic National Committee, whose cash-on-hand total is currently less than that of some Senate campaigns.

Still, the money they do have is in the competent hands of DCCC chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and DSCC chairman Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), not those of Howard Dean.

Not that Republicans won't try every trick in the book, like calling anyone who criticizes the war in Iraq a Nazi-era appeasers and advocates of retreat...

Tags: Politics, Republicans, GOP, Republican, ,
posted by JReid @ 5:08 PM  
Bye-bye Blair
And meanwhile, could it soon be curtains for Tony Blair?

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posted by JReid @ 9:04 AM  
Lift the blockade
The U.N. calls on Israel to end its blockade of Lebanon. But since when does Israel listen to the U.N.? And apparently, the Lebanese are about sick of Kofi and company.

Tags: , , , Politics, Israel, Terrorism, War, News, Lebanon, Italy
posted by JReid @ 8:58 AM  
Who is the masked Senator?
Right and left wing bloggers want to know.
posted by JReid @ 8:46 AM  
Postcards from the Bush boom
Sorry, wingnuts, you may think the economy is going gangbusters, but you're alone in that belief. Most Americans feel that things are going downhill. Consumer confidence is way, way down in August. And with good reason. According to the latest Census data, between 2000 and 2005:

The number of uninsured Americans increased significantly, climbing to 46.6 million in 2005, up 6.8 million since 2000. Compared to 2000, median income is 2.7 percent lower in real terms, and 5.4 million more are living in poverty.

The small improvement in median income between 2004 and 2005 was insufficient to erase the over $1,800 loss in median income experienced from 2000-2004. Full-time, year round workers also lost ground with median income for men falling by $774 and for women falling by $427.

The Census report confirms that the recovery from the last recession has been weak, echoing other data showing slower than expected growth in employment, output and business investment.
There's more:
In 2005, 46.6 million people were without health insurance coverage, up from 45.3 million people in 2004.

– The percentage of people without health insurance coverage increased from 15.6 percent in 2004 to 15.9 percent in 2005.

– For full-time, year round workers, the median earnings of men declined 1.8 percent to $41,386, and the median earnings of women declined 1.3 percent to $31,858.

– In 2005, 37.0 million people were in poverty, not statistically different from 2004.
The statistics were particularly distressing for men, who lost earning power in 2005, while women managed to close the earnings gap somewhat, by not falling as far or as fast as the men.

MisBlog has charts like this one, which shows the number of people living in poverty in America today:


Monster of Love puts it in context:

According to just-released census data, corporate profits are at their highest level relative to GDP than at any time since the 60s!!!

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.” (Link.)

A golden age indeed. And RedState and Powerline are so far, silent on these numbers, which is especially surprising for RedState, since they normally love to jump in topics disparaging of the Bush boom... Ah, never mind, my quest for a Bush hack has hit paydirt. Note to salty, productivity, corporate profits ... up ... poverty ...up ... real wages and incomes, including for white men... not so much. hackneyed talking points can't change that. More on the D-R parsing, from today's NYT:
The nation’s median household income rose slightly faster than inflation last year for the first time in six years, the Census Bureau reported yesterday.

The rise, however, had little to do with bigger paychecks — in fact, both men and women earned less in 2005 than 2004. Rather, census officials said, more family members were taking jobs to make ends meet, and some people made more money from investments and other sources beyond wages.

The glimmer of improvement came after years in which the economy slogged through the bursting of the 1990’s stock market boom, a brief economic downturn, the aftershocks from the 2001 terrorist attacks, a series of corporate scandals and growing evidence of a deepening divide between rich and poor.

While the economy has been strong by most statistical measures for the past several years, its benefits have not translated into improvements in the standard of living for many people. In New York, the proportion of city residents living below the poverty level has not changed in the last five years. (Related Article)

Nationally, the small uptick in median household income reported yesterday, 1.1 percent, was not enough to offset a longer-term drop in median household income — the annual income at which half of the country’s households make more and half make less.

That figure fell 5.9 percent between the 2000 census and 2005, to $46,242 from $49,133, according to an analysis of the data conducted for The New York Times by the sociology department of Queens College. The difference was so sharp, in part, because the 2000 census measured 1999 income, which was at the height of the dot-com bubble.

Still, census officials were upbeat at a news conference while announcing the new data, also pointing out that the number and percentage of those living below the poverty line held steady in 2005 after four consecutive annual increases.

Brookings' Ron Haskins was on the radio show this morning, and he has what will be a familiar take on this whole poverty thing: two ways to combat it are meaningful work and marriage. Unfortunately, the former is particularly undervalued in America today.

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posted by JReid @ 7:53 AM  
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I wish we lived in a time when you could challenge a fella to a duel
...er... debate. Now how in the world would a verbal face-off between George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad work out? Somebody had better get Dubya a large print dictionary ... stat...

Update: What if Dubya and Mahmoud really did meet at the podium... (cue the dream sequence music...)
TIM RUSSERT: President Bush, President Ahmadinejad, I want to thank both of you for coming to Washington University in St. Louis for this important debate on world affairs.

MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: You are most welcome, journalistic swine.

GEORGE W. BUSH: I'd like to salute the people of St. Louis, who have rebounded from immense tragedy to embody the courage and will of the American people in their dreams of living in freedom.

RUSSERT: All due respect, sir, but I don't think St. Louis has had any immense tragedies recently.

BUSH: I am referring, of course, to the uninspired play this season of the Cardinals who, though hanging on to first place in the mediocre National League Central, seem doomed to fall to the upstart Mets come October. Mr. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly refused to engage in a serious debate over the mysterious pitching woes of former 20-game winner Mark Mulder, who now struggles with a plus-6.00 ERA despite his country's unparalleled atmosphere of opportunity and freedom.

AHMADINEJAD: As I have said before, the Cardinals, like all your bloated capitalistic teams, have too long relied on the formidable Albert Pujols to carry them offensively at the expense of cultivating young arms on its farm system, much like the formerly invincible U.S. has always depended on cheap labor from Third World countries and intellectual resources from Europe instead of developing a strong infrastructure.

RUSSERT: Gentlemen, I think we're getting away from the important issues here. Now, President Ahmadinejad, you mentioned the " formerly invincible U.S. " Do you really think -

BUSH: That movie demonstrated the resolve and freedom of the American people.

RUSSERT: Excuse me?

BUSH: "Invincible," starring Mark Wahlberg as a down-on-his-luck bartender who never even played college football yet makes the Eagles -- in Philadelphia, our country's symbol of liberty and freedom.

AHMADINEJAD: Like all Hollywood exports, the film was predictable and trite, burnishing the image of an American dream that is no longer achievable to anyone but those born into wealth. A wholly meretricious message.

BUSH: It was based on a true story, buddy. Fixing the facts around the policy of gripping entertainment is fair game.


Tags: News, Iran, News, Ahmadinejad, News
posted by JReid @ 5:28 PM  
CNN: Where journalism and dignity part company
Poor Kyra Phillips. Can't a girl dish on her brother's wife in the loo without the damned microphone gnomes forgetting to switch her off? The Hot Air Blog has the video, Newsbusters provides the transcript of the latest dignity shattering moment for America's favorite television Bush-bot.

Previous Kyra antics:Losing it: CNN's Kyra Philips parts with her dignity

Update: CNN so very sorry for the potty mike...

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posted by JReid @ 5:06 PM  
If it was Armitage
No, right wing wackies, people like me, who were appalled by the outing of Valerie Plame, a CIA "non-official cover" operative who was working on weapons of mass destruction and specifically, Iran's quest for them, would not be depressed if it turns out that Richard Armitage was the "unnamed source" who gave Valerie Plame's identity to the Prince of Darkness, Robert Novak. Actually, Armitage makes sense in a way; he supports Bob Novak's claim that the information came to him from someone who was "not a partisan gunslinger" and who may have given him the information not knowing that it was classified. I can certainly buy into the idea that Armitage passed on the info as a piece of juicy gossip, and that the administration bad-guys (Rove, Libby and others) then moved the information around in order to discredit Joe Wilson. That is certainly plausible. It also explains why no one other than Libby -- who lied about his involvement, apparently -- was indicted by the Fitzgerald grand jury.

But what still bugs me is this: once Bob Novak began to research the info, one of the sources he called was at the CIA ... and that source specifically advised him NOT to publish Ms. Plame's identity. He was told that he shouldn't do it, and at that point he had a choice not to. But he did. Add to that the fact that the administration toadies like Rove certainly knew what they were doing, even if we go out on a limb and allow that Novak did not. If Novak was a dupe, then Rove and company deliberately set out to cut Wilson's legs out, even at the expense of Plame's career and safety, her operation, and U.S. intelligence on WMD and Iran.

In other words, the Armitage link explains a lot, and pulls several pieces together (including the rather serpentine Bob Woodward...) but it doesn't change a thing. The outing of Valerie Plame, if not criminal, probably should have been. It was at the least, cynical, harmful and unconscionable. Not that that's anything new for the Bush/Cheney crowd.

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posted by JReid @ 9:52 AM  
One year later
The anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is bringing no respite for the Bushies over their handling of the disaster one year ago this week, but it is creating some symmetry in the blogosphere. From opposite sides of the ideological aisle, two bloggers come to the same conclusion today: New Orleans wasn't doomed by the hurricane, it was doomed by the levees.

Paul from Wizbang makes it plain:

In the months since Katrina, we've learned that the storm was a Category 1 by the time she hit New Orleans. No "Super Hurricane," just an average storm. We've also learned that the New Orleans Hurricane Protection System was not overwhelmed by Katrina, it collapsed. Causing the Corps of Engineers admit they flooded New Orleans not Katrina... An admission that got scant little media coverage. The Great Flood of New Orleans was not a natural disaster but a man made one.

The reason the Corps finally had to admit responsibility was that the floodwall that failed -flooding 70% of the city- basically collapsed under its own weight. It was undeniable. The Corps tried for months to claim the water came over the top of the floodwall and washed it away from the backside. (Which would make it Congress's fault) Everyone who has seen the break or looked at the surge data knew this was a lie; that the wall suffered a catastrophic failure before the water reached the top. Almost a year later, the Corps admitted that the floodwall suffered from multiple fatal design flaws and failed prematurely.

What was not really told to the public however is how high the water got up the walls before they failed. - This is an important question to a city rebuilding ~$250 billion in infrastructure. It is commonly assumed by the public that the water must have been quite high.

The question also has legal ramifications. Sovereign Immunity says citizens can not sue the government for damages unless there is negligence or Congress allows the government to be sued. If the public assumption is that Katrina was responsible for the flooding, Congress would never allow the government to be sued.
And Paul's conclusion isn't so much shocking as it is depressing:
New Orleans was doomed with or without Katrina, we just didn't know it. A good high tide puts more water in the canal than this. As the video shows, the water was barely higher than normal levels. The walls could have failed on a decent high tide. ...

...That levee was doomed. If it had failed without notice, the death toll would have been measured in tens of thousands. There would be no evacuation, no preparation, no Feds at all. (such that they were anyway) no Coast Guard in choppers etc. Tens of thousands of people would have been dead in hours and tens of thousands more would have died on 120 degree rooftops waiting for rescue. It would have been unimaginable. - More unimaginable.

"Luckily" -and I groan when I say that- Katrina allowed the city to be evacuated.
Paul backs up his post with video and extensive photographic evidence, some taken by a firefighter who was at the scene of the levee breach. Read it if you can do so without screaming.

On to Greg Palast, who says much the same thing, courtesy of a "levee whistleblower."
DON’T blame the Lady. Katrina killed no one in this town. In fact, Katrina missed the city completely, going wide to the east.

It wasn’t the hurricane that drowned, suffocated, de-hydrated and starved 1,500 people that week. The killing was done by a deadly duo: a failed emergency evacuation plan combined with faulty levees. Behind these twin failures lies a tale of cronyism, profiteering and willful incompetence that takes us right to the steps of the White House.

Here’s the story you haven’t been told. And the man who revealed it to me, Dr. Ivor van Heerden, is putting his job on the line to tell it.

Van Heerden isn’t the typical whistleblower I usually deal with. This is no minor player. He’s the Deputy Director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center. He’s the top banana in the field — no one knew more about how to save New Orleans from a hurricane’s devastation. And no one was a bigger target of an official and corporate campaign to bury the information. ...
Palast has even more here.

Tags: , New Orleans, Katrina, Politics, Flood Aid, Hurricane, Fema, Hurricane-katrina, Current Affairs, Louisiana
posted by JReid @ 8:32 AM  
Friday, August 25, 2006
The wounds of war
A young British soldier commits suicide because he can't bear the thought of shooting children in Iraq. ... And half of all Britons feel threatened by Islam. Just two grim headlines out of Britain this morning.
posted by JReid @ 9:51 AM  
Memo to Israel (and the neocons): brute force doesn't work
Italy's foreign minister has a message for the Israelis, and their patrons in Washington:
ROME - If the planned multinational force in Lebanon succeeds, it might be possible to create a similar force for the Gaza Strip, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said in an interview with Haaretz.

D'Alema said that America's aggressive approach to the Middle East, which Israel shares, has failed, and has caused serious damage. Now, he said, Italy and Europe must prove to Israelis that only international intervention can bring them security.

D'Alema is considered the driving force behind Italy's decision to contribute 3,000 soldiers to a beefed-up UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), thereby making it the largest western contributor to the force.

But the Italian foreign minister, who met with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Rome on Thursday, said that the multinational force can only help the government of Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah. This matter "essentially depends" solely on the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, he said, and will certainly not be done through force.

He also claimed that it would be "simplistic" to describe Hezbollah solely as a terrorist organization. "Were Hezbollah merely a small terrorist group, it would not enjoy the support of so many Lebanese," he said. "Even Tzipi Livni says that if Hezbollah becomes a political organization, this will be a success, and I agree with her."
Of course, you won't get much out of an Israeli daily without cueing up some echoes of anti-Israelism from the darned Europeans:
D'Alema is president of the Democrats of the Left, and was also a senior figure in the party's earlier incarnation as the Communist Party. Many on the Italian right and in Italy's Jewish community view the party as hostile to Israel, particularly in view of the great support that Israel received from former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The Italian foreign minister's views are clearly not supportive of the Israeli government. Nevertheless, he expressed concern for Israel during the interview.

"We are sending our soldiers to Lebanon and endangering their lives out of love for Israel. We have no interests in Lebanon; this is supposed to be a step that creates peace. And that is in Israel's interest," D'Alema said.
Bingo.

And D'Alema got in a shot at the decline of American and English credibility in the Mideast:
Analysts say D'Alema understood the United States cannot mediate in Lebanon. The French are hesitant, the British are considered too pro-American, and the Germans do not want to get involved in a delicate situation. He is therefore pushing for Italy to take advantage of the vacuum.

Meanwhile, France continues to "pedal baque" on the very idea of a 15,000-strong UNIFIL force:
...Mr Chirac, giving a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, told reporters: "I don't know who mentioned this figure but it doesn't really make sense.

"So what is the right number, 4,000, 5,000 or 6,000? I don't know."

Non, indeed.

Tags: , , , Politics, Israel, Terrorism, War, News, Lebanon, Italy
posted by JReid @ 8:48 AM  
Learning to hate the bomb
The U.S. State Department will open an inquiry into Israel's use of American-made cluster bombs on Lebanese civilians. Says the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 — The State Department is investigating whether Israel’s use of American-made cluster bombs in southern Lebanon violated secret agreements with the United States that restrict when it can employ such weapons, two officials said.

The investigation by the department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls began this week, after reports that three types of American cluster munitions, anti-personnel weapons that spray bomblets over a wide area, have been found in many areas of southern Lebanon and were responsible for civilian casualties.

Gonzalo Gallegos, a State Department spokesman, said, “We have heard the allegations that these munitions were used, and we are seeking more information.” He declined to comment further.

Several current and former officials said that they doubted the investigation would lead to sanctions against Israel but that the decision to proceed with it might be intended to help the Bush administration ease criticism from Arab governments and commentators over its support of Israel’s military operations. The investigation has not been publicly announced; the State Department confirmed it in response to questions.

In addition to investigating use of the weapons in southern Lebanon, the State Department has held up a shipment of M-26 artillery rockets, a cluster weapon, that Israel sought during the conflict, the officials said.

The inquiry is likely to focus on whether Israel properly informed the United States about its use of the weapons and whether targets were strictly military. So far, the State Department is relying on reports from United Nations personnel and nongovernmental organizations in southern Lebanon, the officials said.

David Siegel, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy, said, “We have not been informed about any such inquiry, and when we are we would be happy to respond.”

Officials were granted anonymity to discuss the investigation because it involves sensitive diplomatic issues and agreements that have been kept secret for years.

The agreements that govern Israel’s use of American cluster munitions go back to the 1970’s, when the first sales of the weapons occurred, but the details of them have never been publicly confirmed. The first one was signed in 1976 and later reaffirmed in 1978 after an Israeli incursion into Lebanon. News accounts over the years have said that they require that the munitions be used only against organized Arab armies and clearly defined military targets under conditions similar to the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973.

A Congressional investigation after Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon found that Israel had used the weapons against civilian areas in violation of the agreements. In response, the Reagan administration imposed a six-year ban on further sales of cluster weapons to Israel.

Israeli officials acknowledged soon after their offensive began last month that they were using cluster munitions against rocket sites and other military targets. While Hezbollah positions were frequently hidden in civilian areas, Israeli officials said their intention was to use cluster bombs in open terrain.

Bush administration officials warned Israel to avoid civilian casualties, but they have lodged no public protests against its use of cluster weapons. American officials say it has not been not clear whether the weapons, which are also employed by the United States military, were being used against civilian areas and had been supplied by the United States. Israel also makes its own types of cluster weapons.

But a report released Wednesday by the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Center, which has personnel in Lebanon searching for unexploded ordnance, said it had found unexploded bomblets, including hundreds of American types, in 249 locations south of the Litani River.

The report said American munitions found included 559 M-42’s, an anti-personnel bomblet used in 105-millimeter artillery shells; 663 M-77’s, a submunition found in M-26 rockets; and 5 BLU-63’s, a bomblet found in the CBU-26 cluster bomb. Also found were 608 M-85’s, an Israeli-made submunition.

The unexploded submunitions being found in Lebanon are probably only a fraction of the total number dropped. Cluster munitions can contain dozens or even hundreds of submunitions designed to explode as they scatter around a wide area. They are very effective against rocket-launcher units or ground troops.

The Lebanese government has reported that the conflict killed 1,183 people and wounded 4,054, most of them civilians. The United Nations reported this week that the number of civilian casualties in Lebanon from cluster munitions, land mines and unexploded bombs stood at 30 injured and eight killed.
Israel also reportedly used deadly white phosphorus munitions in Lebanon (as did the U.S. in parts if Iraq, including Fallujah,) which if true would violate international law. More on those allegations here, including the incidences of Lebanese victims showing burn wounds doctors there have never seen before.

And as Fairness and Accuracy in Media reports, the MSM has largely ignored this story.

Meanwhile, the U.N. is concerned that Israeli cluster bombs still litter southern Lebanon, posing a mortal risk to civilians.

... And UNIFIL's Lebanon force is meandering its way toward a few thousand troops, including a whopping 2,000 from France and 3,000 from Italy (which may now take the lead in the U.N. force.)

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Tags: , , , Politics, Israel, Terrorism, War, News, Lebanon

posted by JReid @ 8:08 AM  
McCainations
RedState has a go at John McCain. Is he the Joe Lieberman of the GOP ... or is he aiding and abetting a sneaky Bush-Rove plan to use Dubya as a political pivot.

Tags: , , Bush, Politics, Republicans, GOP, Republican, ,
posted by JReid @ 7:58 AM  
Around the world in 80 links
Okay, maybe not 80.

First up, Osama gets his groove on ... or does he...? Terrorism expert Peter Bergen is raising doubts about wacky author Kola Boof's new book, in which she makes fantastic claims about the terror master's sexual practices, TV choices, and Whitney Houston adoration. TPM Muckraker puts Kola on blast:
"The worst book of the year, is surely Diary of a Lost Girl: The Autobiography of Kola Boof," Bergen writes on his personal Web site. "The book is rife with howlers large and small," he says:
...there is one vividly recounted scene in which Boof performs sex acts on a group that included bin Laden; Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s number two; Abdullah Azzam, bin Laden’s mentor, and Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian jihadist theoretician. Boof says this happened in Morocco in 1996. However, in 1996 bin Laden was living in Sudan, Ayman al Zawahiri was imprisoned in Dagestan, Azzam had been assassinated in Pakistan thirteen years earlier, and Qutb had been lying in his grave for three decades.
Here's Bergen's web site ... and here's TPM Muck's update on "How Osama got his groove back." (Previous: Shoop Shoop)
Meanwhile ...

Will Bunch has the update on Kyra Phillips' "wonderful" Rockey Vaccarella propaganda, and how CNN and the rest of the MSM fell for Karl Rove's latest trick.

RawStory has the latest Katherine Harris quotes. Apparently, the separation of church and state in America is a lie.

A former aide to would-be presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani was found nude and strangled to death in his Manhattan apartment this week. According to New York's 1010 WINS:
The death of Martin Barreto, 49, has been ruled a homicide.

Police found Barreto's body Tuesday in a bedroom at his home after a friend reported he wasn't responding to phone calls or knocks on his door.
Barreto was alledly expecting a visitor, who will now become the chief suspect.

More info on this creepy case from WNBC:
Police discovered Barreto's body Monday night on a bed at his home on East 10th Street after a friend reported he wasn't responding to phone calls or knocks on his door.

A doorman told investigators Barreto had told him he was expecting a visitor and instructed him to let him in. Police were searching for the visitor as a possible suspect.

There were no signs of a struggle or a robbery inside the home, where Barreto lived alone, police said.

Relatives and friends said that about three years ago, Barreto had sought restraining orders against a man with whom he had ended a relationship.

Barreto, who worked at City Hall in the late 1990s, was a partner in a Manhattan public relations firm. He also was a former radio journalist who served on the board of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists from 1993 to 1996, according to the NAHJ's Web site.
And 7Online takes it tabloid, with one detective calling the crime a "romance situation gone bad."
The Asia Times reports that the U.S. and its oil companies have fallen out of favor with the world's oil producing countries.

And the NY Times reports that there could be more to the Duke rape case than meets the defense-jaundiced eye.

And the WaPo has the skinny on just how complicated the demotion of wee, poor Pluto from planet to planetoid (or whatever the new name for rump galaxial excommunicant is these days) will be for America's students.

Tags: News, News and politics
posted by JReid @ 7:30 AM  
Thursday, August 24, 2006
It's August 24 ... are we dead yet?
As of yesterday, a full 24 hours after the 12th Imam was to return and the evil Ahmadinejad was to wreak armageddon-like havoc on the world ... we're still not dead yet. ...Not that that's deterring the intrepid Glenn Beck from predicting unimaginable horrors to come if we don't get moving with that war on Iran...

Meanwhile, if you haven't read the James Bamford piece in Rolling Stone about the selling of the "next war" by the same Armageddon-threatening clods who sold us the last war ... you should. And then read Michael Ledeen's response ... and Bamford's counter-response, which ends with this zinger:
All of this could be looked at as simply a silly sideshow were it not for the fact that the last time this circus came to town, we ended up in a deadly blood-drenched quagmire in Iraq. In the next war I think we should leave the troops home and send in the clowns.
Amen.

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posted by JReid @ 8:51 AM  
Cruisin for a bruisin?
Paramount dumps Tom Cruise ... or he dumps them, depending on whose spin-meisters you believe. But has the studio made a big mistake? Forbes analyst says yes (and not just because the magazine has to justify naming Cruise as the world's most powerful celebrity...) Blogger Ian W agrees:
If you look at Paramount’s most successful films since the year 2001 that didn’t star Tom Cruise, you see an interesting pattern –

2001 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider No15
2002 The Sum Of All Fears No24
2003 How to Loose a Guy in 10 Days No29
2004 Lemony Snicket’s No18
2005 The Longest Yard No12

Paramount haven’t had a top ten box office hit without Tom since 2000 when What Women Want came in at No4 (and the top film that year? Mission Impossible II.) What makes Paramount’s case even funnier is that War of the Worlds a film they pointed to as having its box office takings affected by Cruise) had a worldwide gross of almost $600m, making it Paramount’s biggest hit (based on money taken) since 1997 and Titanic. Even the ‘failure’ Mission Impossible III will almost certainly finish the year in the ten biggest earners.
Happy landings, Paramount!

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posted by JReid @ 8:35 AM  
Rockeygate
Good old, Rockey Vaccarella ... earnest American ... Katrina survivor ... enthusiastic supporter of the president ... trailer-side cook ... and GOP candidate for office??? Huh???

Doug Krile has the ill wind blowing from the White House P.R. shop... courtesy of Taegan Goddard...

"As next week's anniversary of Hurricane Katrina triggers recollections of rooftop refugees and massive devastation along the Gulf Coast, the White House has begun a public relations blitz to counteract Democrats' plans to use the government's tardy response and the region's slow recovery in the coming congressional elections," the Los Angeles Times reports. "President Bush will visit the area Monday and Tuesday, including an overnight stay in New Orleans... The trip will force Bush to revisit sensitive racial issues that arose with the flooding of New Orleans ...
All the better to counter that Spike Lee documentary. ...

So, will the news media run wild with the propaganda? Will Rockey Vaccarella replace Mark Karr as a mainstream media darling? Will Bunch reminds us that "if it sounds too good to be true..."
It was exactly one year ago that the headlines were all about Bush, on another lengthy vacation in Crawford, refusing to meet with an average American who was devastated by a tragedy -- Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq. It was a publicity bloodbath, and it rolled right into the horrors of Katrina and a seemingly indifferent White House, beginning the long slide in Bush's approval rating.

Now comes Rockey, a plain-talking character who lost it all in Katrina, who nearly died in the hurricane, forced to hang onto a rope for four hours (some of that was captured on film), and now wants to government to do more for Katrina victims. And what a difference a year makes -- not only did Bush, not in Crawford but hard at work in the White House, meet with this "average American," but check out the glowing praise our president received in return. ...[insert embarassing Rick Sanchez story here...]

...This guy is a symbol of the misery that so many people in Louisiana and Mississippi? If we didn't know any better, this couldn't have been more of home run for Bush if the whole thing had been set up by Karl Rove.

Hmmmmm...

In fact, we had a hunch -- that maybe, just maybe, Rockey Vaccarella had a background himself in GOP politics.

And, whaddya know? Turns out that the earthy Vaccarella -- a highly successful businessman in the fast-food industry -- is indeed a Republican pol, having run unsuccessfully under the GOP banner for a seat on the St. Bernard Parish commission back in 1999. We don't have a good link, but here (via Nexis) is part of his bio that ran in the New Orleans Times-Picayune on Oct. 15, 1999...
Oh... the naked propaganda now has a name, and that name ... is Rockeygate.

Meanwhile, real Katrina victims continue to languish and suffer. And the disaster profiteers are laughing all the way to the bank:
When President George W. Bush addressed America from floodlit Jackson Square in New Orleans on September 15 last year, he said: "Our goal is to get the work done quickly. And taxpayers expect this work to be done honestly and wisely ... And in the work of rebuilding, as many jobs as possible should go to the men and women who live in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama."

Yet the report details how the overwhelming majority of initial contracts for construction went to companies - "usually large, politically connected corporations - based outside these three states".

Among the biggest winners of contracts were Florida-based Ashbritt, which received a US$500 million ($782 million) contract; Bechtel of San Francisco, which has received US$575 million worth, and Texas-based Fluor Corp US$1.4 billion. One Louisiana company, the Shaw Group, won a a US$950 million contract.

There is no suggestion that any of the companies acted illegally or stepped outside acceptable commercial practice.


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posted by JReid @ 6:09 AM  
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Bushy wushy
The latest polls are out. It seems Americans no longer buy into the meme that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. In fact, most of us have finally figured OUT that one has nothing to do with the other (except for the free training we're providing in Iraq to any nere-do-well wanna be jihadi who cares to travel to Baghdad...)

Meanwhile, a new report confirms it: we don't know diddly squat about Iran.
posted by JReid @ 8:24 PM  
Don't tap us, we'll tap you
Well would you get a load of that ... AT&T is suing over firms it says gained unauthorized access to its customers' data. Ain't that a kick in the head...

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Tags: , , NSA, Bush, Politics, War on Terror, Congress, FISA, , surveillance, spying, Privacy, eavesdropping

posted by JReid @ 8:18 PM  
The great Bush recession of 2007?
With sales of existing homes in the crapper ... one economist is predicting a deep, nasty recession.
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The United States is headed for a recession that will be "much nastier, deeper and more protracted" than the 2001 recession, says Nouriel Roubini, president of Roubini Global Economics.

Writing on his blog on Wednesday, Roubini repeated his call that the U.S. would be in a recession in 2007, arguing that the collapse of housing will bring down the rest of the economy.

Roubini wrote after the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday that sales of existing homes fell 4.1% in July, while inventories soared to a 13-year high and prices flattened out year-over-year.

"This is the biggest housing slump in the last four or five decades: every housing indictor is in free fall, including now housing prices," Roubini said. The decline in investment in the housing sector will exceed the drop in investment when the Nasdaq collapsed in 2000 and 2001, he said.

And the impact of the bursting of the bubble will affect every household in America, not just the few people who owned significant shares in technology companies during the dot-com boom, he said. Prices are falling even in the Midwest, which never experienced a bubble, "a scary signal" of how much pain the drop in household wealth could cause.

Roubini is a professor of economics at New York University and was a senior economist in the White House and the Treasury Department in the late 1990s. His firm focuses largely on global macroeconomics.

Read Rubini's blog post for yourself here. And then take a Prozac.

Tags: , Bush, housing market, Marketwatch, News
posted by JReid @ 8:12 PM  
What now?
Will the Little Green Footballers and their psychotic female friends female slam Fox News reporter Steve Centanni for his "anti-American" statements on video saying his "Islamofascist" captors were treating him and his fellow captive, cameraman Olaf Wiig, "well" and giving them clean water? Are they now traitors to America for giving in to the Kalashnikovs that were very likely pointed at their heads as they spoke on a newly released video? Only the Little Green Footballers know for sure... Meanwhile, the U.S. says "no" to negotiations.

So far, the righties are studiously avoiding a Jill Carolling of the captive (hey, they work for FOX, after all...) and instead are focusing on the usual drivel about the MSM hating Fox News, blah blah blah, Here's the video:



Update: LGF does some Jill Carrolling after all.

Tags: , Gaza, Centanni, Wiig, News, Fox reporters kidnapped
posted by JReid @ 7:48 PM  
Finally, Bush has his Monica
He has a "FEMA-style" trailer ... and LOVES it ...!



He cooks Cajun, real good ...



And unlike that awful Cindy Sheehan...



... he CAN meet with President Bush!



Meet "Rockey" ... spelled with a campy "e-y..." George W. Bush's very own Monica. ...



(Hey, does that mean we can impeach Dubya now???)

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posted by JReid @ 6:52 PM  
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
We're killing ourselves
Juan Williams was a no-show on the radio program this morning, but his WaPo column of Monday was a hot topic of discussion. (We also talked with Spike Lee -- do see his Katrina documentary if you have HBO...) Anyway, I think any comment that I could make on Williams' column would be unequal to the words in the piece. Here they are (I normally don't reprint so much, but in this case, you need to read it all). Black people, this one's especially for you:
Banish The Bling
A Culture of Failure Taints Black America

By Juan Williams
Monday, August 21, 2006; A15, Washington Post

Have we taken our eyes off the prize? The civil rights movement continues, but the struggle today is not so much in the streets as in the home -- and with our children. If systemic racism remains a reality, there is also a far more sinister obstacle facing African American young people today: a culture steeped in bitterness and nihilism, a culture that is a virtual blueprint for failure.

The emphasis on young people in today's civil rights struggle is rooted in demographics. America's black, Hispanic and immigrant population is far younger than its white population. Those young people of color live in the big cities and rely on big-city public schools.

With 50 percent of Hispanic children and nearly 70 percent of black children born to single women today these young people too often come from fractured families where there is little time for parenting. Their search for identity and a sense of direction is undermined by a twisted popular culture that focuses on the "bling-bling" of fast money associated with famous basketball players, rap artists, drug dealers and the idea that women are at their best when flaunting their sexuality and having babies.

In Washington, where a crime wave is tied to these troubled young souls, the city reacts with a curfew. It is a band-aid. The real question is how one does battle with the culture of failure that is poisoning young people -- and do so without incurring the wrath of critics who say we are closing our eyes to existing racial injustice and are "blaming the victim."

Recently Bill Cosby has once again run up against these critics. In 2004, on the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, Cosby took on that culture of failure in a speech that was a true successor to W.E.B. DuBois's 1903 declaration that breaking the color line of segregation would be the main historical challenge for 20th-century America. In a nation where it is getting tougher and tougher to afford a house, health insurance and a college education -- in other words, to attain solid middle-class status -- Cosby decried the excuses for opting out of the competition altogether.

Cosby said that the quarter of black Americans still living in poverty are failing to hold up their end of a deal with history when they don't take advantage of the opportunities created by the Supreme Court's Brown decision and the sacrifices of civil rights leaders from Martin Luther King Jr. to Thurgood Marshall and Malcolm X. Those leaders in the 1950s and '60s opened doors by winning passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and fair housing laws. Their triumphs led to the nationwide rise in black political power on school boards and in city halls and Congress.

Taken as a whole, that era of stunning breakthroughs set the stage for black people, disproportionately poor and ill-educated because of a history of slavery and segregation, to reach new heights -- freed from the weight of government-sanctioned segregation. It also created a national model of social activism to advance the rights of women, Hispanics, gays and others.

Cosby asked the chilling question: "What good is Brown " and all the victories of the civil rights era if nobody wants them? A generation after those major civil rights victories, black America is experiencing alarming dropout rates, shocking numbers of children born to single mothers and a frightening acceptance of criminal behavior that has too many black people filling up the jails. Where is the focus on taking advantage of new opportunities to advance and to close the racial gap in educational and economic achievement?

Incredibly, Cosby's critics don't see the desperate need to pull a generational fire alarm to warn people about a culture of failure that is sabotaging any chance for black people in poverty to move up and help their children reach the security of economic and educational achievement. Not one mainstream civil rights group picked up on his call for marches and protests against bad parenting, drug dealers, hate-filled rap music and failing schools.

Where is the civil rights groundswell on behalf of stronger marriages that will allow more children to grow up in two-parent families and have a better chance of staying out of poverty? Where are the marches demanding good schools for those children -- and the strong cultural reinforcement for high academic achievement (instead of the charge that minority students who get good grades are "acting white")? Where are the exhortations for children to reject the self-defeating stereotypes that reduce black people to violent, oversexed "gangstas," minstrel show comedians and mindless athletes? ...
Where indeed. Williams goes on to cite some of the historical giants of the African-American struggle whose example should be infusing young Black minds with hope. Instead, they pale in comparison to the grilled-up goofballs bumping and grinding with hoochies on BET.

And by the way, the culture of failure doesn't just belonog to African-Americans. Our country, from its lack of accountability for our political leadership (from Iraq to 9/11 and beyond), to incompetence in handling Katrina, to our inability to find a way forward on new sources of energy (rather than the blunt force trauma of jacking Muslims for their oil) to our rank failure to educate our young people to the standards of eastern, let alone western, Europe, the culture of failure is as American as apple pie.

And shame on us all for it.

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posted by JReid @ 9:32 AM  
Apocalypse now .. no, seriously, apocalypse NOW
The neocons are making predictions again ... this time ... they're seeing an APOCALYPTIC END TO THE STATE OF ISRAEL AND YES, EVEN THE WORLD AT THE HANDS OF THE MADMAN AHMADINEJAAAAAAAD!!!!!! AAAAAUGHHH!!!!! (sigh). I guess we'd better bomb Iran over there quick, so we don't have to bomb them over here... or something like that.

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posted by JReid @ 9:10 AM  
Journeys into the absurd
Jose Padilla gets less and less terroristic every time he comes before a court. The latest: a judge says the Bush feds way overcharged the Chicago gangbanger turned South Florida Muslim convert. Go figure. Here's the ruling.

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Tags: , , , Terrorism, Law, Padilla, enemy combatant,
posted by JReid @ 8:57 AM  
Poll position
According to the latest polls, President Bush's popularity has soared to an earthshattering 42 percent! Whew! Glad that's over. So much for the GOP's big problems in November...! Meanwhile, here's where Americans are on the war:
Just 35 percent of 1,033 adults polled say they favor the war in Iraq; 61 percent say they oppose it -- the highest opposition noted in any CNN poll since the conflict began more than three years ago. ...
As for Bush himself:
A bare majority (51 percent) say they see Bush as a strong leader, but on most other attributes he gets negative marks. (Interactive: Poll results)

Most Americans (54 percent) don't consider him honest, most (54 percent) don't think he shares their values and most (58 percent) say he does not inspire confidence. (Complete poll results -- PDF)

Bush's stand on the issues is also problematic, with more than half (57 percent) of Americans saying they disagree with him on the issues they care about.

That's an indication that issues, not personal characteristics, are keeping his approval rating well below 50 percent.
Not a good look. But one thing the polls do prove, is that even in the short term, selling fear works, at least on some Americans:
Terrorism is the only area in which Bush has a positive standing and the only one that significantly changed. His rating is below 40% on six other issues.
All else, however, is busto.
• Nine in 10 predict that the cease-fire will be temporary and fighting will break out again soon.

• Seven in 10 say the conflict hurt the image of the United States and the prospects for a long-term peace.

• Two-thirds say the United States should play a minor role or no role in developing a peace agreement. Just 14% say the United States should take the lead.

(USAT).

Tags: Bush, News, News and politics,
posted by JReid @ 8:43 AM  
Shoop shoop
Who know? MacGuyver ... Rock Lobster ... a little "ciga-weed" ... and Whitney Houston. These, apparently are the things that Osama bin Laden loves. ... That's according to the Sudanese poet and soap opera writer that used to date him...

The King of Zembia has an exerpt from Kola Boof's upcoming book:
I made a pot of tea and served him chunky crab salad on pita crackers and thickened tofu with dates in it. His lust was thick. He smoked a little marijuana from a gold hookah, sipping his tea and instructing me that I was always to keep hot tea for his "kif-cambo," to ease the burn in his chest.

"Why do you wear your hair braided?" he asked.

"Because my braids are beautiful," I replied.

Osama said only monkeys braid their hair. He told me that the singer Whitney Houston was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen and that she never wore her hair braided. "I want you to fix your hair like hers from now on," he said. "I can't put my fingers through it when it's braided" . . . .

Osama kept coming back to Whitney Houston. He asked if I knew her personally when I lived in America. I told him I didn't. He said that he had a paramount desire for Whitney Houston, and although he claimed music was evil, he spoke of someday spending vast amounts of money to go to America and try to arrange a meeting with the superstar. It didn't seem impossible to me. He said he wanted to give Whitney Houston a mansion that he owned in a suburb of Khartoum . . . . Whitney Houston's name was the one that would be mentioned constantly. How beautiful she is, what a nice smile she has, how truly Islamic she is but is just brainwashed by American culture and her husband -- Bobby Brown, whom Osama talked about having killed, as if it were normal to have women's husbands killed.

I hate to say it ... and Bobby Brown is no Bin Laden ... but I'm not sure Whitney makes out too well either way...

Related: Odd Times brings the funny:
"Ain't Afghanistan that place with a shitload of heroin? Yeah, I'd take him," she said outside her family's Los Angeles trailer.

Damn.

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posted by JReid @ 7:48 AM  
Monday, August 21, 2006
George Allen's race quickly turning into "macaca"
He's down six points in the polls after making fun of a Jim Webb supporter ... in Tunisian...

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posted by JReid @ 9:51 AM  
Anger and recriminations
...IDF soldiers protesting, calling on Ehud Olmert to resign.

Tags: , Politics, Israel, War, News, Lebanon
posted by JReid @ 9:38 AM  
Israel's dilemma
Following its stinging at the hands of Hezbollah, Israel is now locked in an internal debate about what to do next (apart from violating the ceasefire and complaining about the makeup of the so far tiny UNIFIL force).

One key question for the Israelis: what to do about Syria, the mostly Sunni country (let by the Allawite Assad clan ... think Mormons to Christianity...) which has opportunistically allied itself with Shiite Iran and which has used its patronage of Hezbollah to continually meddle with Lebanon). The trouble is, Syria is no friend of Israel, but it is a necessary lever for stability in the region. So the debate begins. First, whether to treat Syria as, if not friend, then potential negotiating "partner" ... or foe:

Government officials told Ynet that it is better to have Syrian President Bashar Assad on Israel’s side than continue the current diplomatic stalemate and allow him to arm himself for a possible war in the future.

“Assad may be a bastard, but it is entirely possible that it would be better to have him in our camp,” one official said in response to Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter’s statement that “In exchange for peace with Syria, Israel can leave the Golan Heights.

“We should at least consider this option, and we are already hearing similar opinions from the US State Department,” the official said, adding that “We must also take into account what can happen in case a war with Syria breaks out – either we will get a slap in the face or we will respond with a stronger blow that will topple Assad. And then what will we have in the northern border? The Muslim Brotherhood at best, or an extreme model of Iraq or even Somalia at worst.”

Syria, for its part, is not oblivious to the statements emanating from Jerusalem: Arab media outlets Al-Jazeera and London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat featured Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s appointment of a project manager to map out the different issues between Syria and Israel as their top story.

However, Israeli government officials said Livni’s move was blown way out of proportion and the State Department said that in no way does the appointment point to Israel’s intentions regarding Syria.

Syrian parliament member Faisal Kulthum said in response to Livni’s appointment “After what happened during the sixth war waged by Israel against Lebanon – the rules of the game have changed.”

“Israel must understand that it cannot continue to forcefully conquer territories,” he said.

In Syria, they were glad to hear Dichter's comments. As a rule, since the enthusiastic speech of Syrian president Basher Assad last week, when he said that "Syria has another possibility other than peace – resistance," ...
Next, whether to trade land (the Golan Heights) for "true peace" (whatever that is):

Syria is the "single most aggressive member of the axis of evil," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday, ruling out a resumption of negotiations with Damascus at this time.

"I am the last person who will say I want to negotiate with Syria," Olmert said in unusually harsh comments. In a visit to northern Israel, Olmert noted that rockets that hit the town in 34 days of Israel-Hizbullah fighting came from Syria.

According to the prime minister, "When Syria stops supporting terrorism, when it stops giving missiles to terror organizations, then we will be happy to negotiate with them."

His comments were made hours after Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said that he was in favor of withdrawing from the Golan Heights in return for true peace with Syria.

The former head of the Shin Bet told Army Radio, "We have paid similar territorial concessions in the past when we signed peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt."

"Any diplomatic initiative is preferred over war, whether in Syria or Lebanon," Dichter said. "With regards to Lebanon, conditions are even more welcoming than they are with Syria. Lebanon can today begin talks with Israel without the Syrians."
Except that at this stage, the Lebanese hate Israel's guts.

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Tags: , Politics, Israel, War, News, Lebanon


posted by JReid @ 9:14 AM  
How can we miss you, Joe, if you won't go away?
John McCain's favorite Democrat managed to get on television again this weekend ... and ... well ... he's still a Republican. (In fact, John Kerry says he's a specific Republican: Dick Cheney...) Perhaps he and McCain (who's becoming more of a Bushie every day) should take advantage of the Army's newly liberal age requirements and sign up to personally provide those additional troops for Iraq that both men want so badly.

Related: Emboldened calls the Lieberman campaign the worst ... ever. And Lieberman whinges on, insisting again on Sunday that he's NOT a cheerleader for Bush.

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posted by JReid @ 8:59 AM  
Hagel's lament
I think I've said this before, but I love Chuck Hagel. He is, in my opinion, by far the most honorable Republican in Washington, if not the most honorable poltician, period. He speaks his mind, without regard to the orthodoxy of his increasingly extremist, authoritarian and greed-centered party, and unlike ex-Democrat Joe Lieberman, his independence doesn't seem borne of supplication to executive authority or an alien, extragovernmental orthodoxy (neoconservatism). So when Senator Hagel says his party has gone astray, people ought to listen. Here's what he had to say on Sunday:

"First time I voted was in 1968 on top of a tank in the Mekong Delta," said Hagel, a Vietnam veteran. "I voted a straight Republican ticket. The reason I did is because I believe in the Republican philosophy of governance. It's not what it used to be. I don't think it's the same today."

Hagel asked: "Where is the fiscal responsibility of the party I joined in '68? Where is the international engagement of the party I joined — fair, free trade, individual responsibility, not building a bigger government, but building a smaller government?"

His frustration does not lead him to think Democrats offer a better alternative. But Hagel wants to see the GOP return to its basic beliefs.

"I think we've lost our way," Hagel said. "And I think the Republicans are going to be in some jeopardy for that and will be held accountable."

Hagel has not decided whether he will run for president in 2008. But he respects his wife's reservations about being first lady — cited in a book about Hagel.

"I think it just shows the immense good judgment of my wife and how sane she is. I don't know of any spouse who would wish the job of president on their husband or wife," Hagel said on Fox News Sunday. "It's a big job. It's a tough job."
... and if he stood for that top job, I would have to, for the first time in my adult life, seriously consider voting Republican.

Hagel has real reason to be concerned. As the WaPo reported in its Chris Matthews-wowing missive last week, the GOP is losing the so-called "security moms" (which is WaPo-ese for "the gender gap -- a generational staple -- has returned.)

Tags: , Politics, , Republicans, News, 2006, Bush, Congress
posted by JReid @ 8:39 AM  
Friday, August 18, 2006
Right conclusion, wrongly put?
RawStory has the scoop on supposed legal eagles slamming the reasoning ... though not the conclusions ... of the Detroit judge in the NSA wiretap case. If true, in typical Times fashion, step one is to set up the Democrats ... (recall that the Times not only had a hand in breaking the NSA story, the paper's editorial board has also inveighed against it. But the paper also has a history of serving as Bush's handmaiden when it suits them, as in the run-up to the Iraq war.) Let's see what the story is tomorrow. ...
posted by JReid @ 9:28 PM  
Insane clown posse

While most sane people are vigorously arguing against the rather mad idea of the U.S. starting another war -- this time with Iran -- Dick Cheney continues to inhabit a dark world all his own. According to Raw Story:
The Bush administration continues to bypass standard intelligence channels and use what some believe to be propaganda tactics to create a compelling case for war with Iran, US foreign experts and former US intelligence officials tell RAW STORY.

One former senior intelligence official is particularly concerned by private briefings that Vice President Dick Cheney is getting from former Office of Special Plans (OSP) Director, Abram Shulsky.

"Vice President Cheney is relying on personal briefings from Shulsky for current intelligence on Iran," said this intelligence official.

Shulsky, a leading Neoconservative and member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), headed the shadowy and secretive Department of Defense's OSP in the lead-up to the Iraq war -- helping to locate intelligence that would support the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq.

In an earlier report by Raw Story on an OSP spin-off dubbed the Iranian Directorate (ID), Lt. Col. Barry E. Venable -- a spokesman for the Pentagon -- confirmed that Shulsky was consulting for this new initiative as well.

"Mr. Shulsky continues in his position as Senior Advisor to the USD, focusing on Mid-East regional issues and the [global war on terror]," stated Venable.

Several foreign policy experts, who wish to remain anonymous, have expressed serious concern that much like the OSP, the ID is manipulating, cherry picking, and perhaps even -- as some suspect -- cooking intelligence to lead the U.S. into another conflict, this time with Iran.

"Cheney distrusts the information being disseminated by CIA on Iran," said one former senior intelligence official. "The reports assembled by the Iranian Directorate at the Pentagon differ significantly from the analysis produced by the Intelligence Community. The Pentagon Iranian Directorate relies on thin and unsupported reporting from foreign sources."

Remember, Sy Hersh has also reported on the malingering desire to attack Iran in some quarters of the Bush inner circle, and no one is more creepy and neocon-beguiled than Dick Cheney. The president would be well served to retire this man, sooner rather than later.

Of course, he won't. Indications are ... and this is really disturbing ... that he may have drunk the African yellowcake Kool-Aid again.

Tags: , , , neocons, neoconservatives, nukes, War, News, yellowcake
posted by JReid @ 9:08 PM  
Who wants to be a Mideast millionaire
Hey Hezbollah! You just shocked the hell out of the Israelis, disappointed the neocons, survived a confrontation with the Middle East's mightiest army and became the hottest thing in the Muslim world, even after the U.S. stopped your missile flow! So what are you gonna do now? Here's a thought: hand out wads of cash to destitute, bombed out Lebanese to make yourselves even more popular! Das vidanya!

Tags: , Politics, Israel, Hezbollah, War, News, Lebanon
posted by JReid @ 8:58 PM  
Tramm Hudson really likes Black people ... and other things red faced politicians' minority friends say to the media
The Black, civil rights-era friends have been contacted ... their letters of support have been written and posted ... and still, Floridians are asking: "the Black people can't swim guy is the sane substitute for roving GOP menace Katherine Harris???"

Oh, the humanity. Somebody call a real civil rights icon ... say ... Andrew Young, perhaps...

Tags: , Florida, Tramm Hudson, Katherine Harris, politics
posted by JReid @ 8:43 PM  
Twice told tales
Iraq is down to importing oil, just to try and get through the fuel shortages. Not exactly what Wolfowitz promised, is it?

Tags: , Bush, War, News, War On Terror, Military, Middle East
posted by JReid @ 8:38 PM  
Drudge buries the lead
The Drudge Report links to the nekked lady with the pig story, and misses the Daily Mail's real scoop ... no, not the one about Brangelina potentially collapsing under the weight of their ridiculous public image ... the other scoopola: one writer's contention that United Flight 93 was shot down by U.S. fighter jets on 9/11. Not a new theory, but one interestingly discussed. To be honest, I'm not sure most Americans wouldn't simply have accepted such a thing had the administration simply said it had to be done... back when most people assumed they occasionally told us the truth, that is. Now, of course, it's just more fodder for those of us who believe that this administration is so incalculably corrupt and dishonest as to be unworthy of office. Anyway, an interesting ... if very long ... read.

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posted by JReid @ 8:24 PM  
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Our Lady of the Constitution
A federal judge in Detroit accomplishes in one ruling what the entire, sycophant Congress has failed to do for five years: provide proper checks and balances to careening, rapidly accumlulated, unprecedented presidential power. In other words, this wonderful African-American jurist just bitch-slapped the POTUS. Via the Freep:

A federal judge in Detroit on Thursday stuck down the Bush Administrations’ domestic spying program in a decision that could affect the civil rights of millions of Americans and alter the course of the war on terror.

“… The public interest is clear in this matter. It is upholding our Constitution,” U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor said in a 43-page ruling.

Taylor said the program, which the Administration created after the 9/11 terrorist attacks violates the separation of powers doctrine , the First and Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Taylor permanently enjoined the government from intercepting international phone calls involving suspected Al Qaeda members without first obtaining search warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington.
The suit was filed by the ACLU (which will now be eviscerated by the authoritarians on the right, including La Limbaugh, despite their recent defense of His Drugginess...) and it claimed that the warrantless wiretapping of Americans and others on U.S. soil violates the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution.

It's one of five lawsuits all making their way to the courts.

The text of the ruling can be found here.

The Bush administration, beginning with their trained attack pop, Al Gonzalez (who continues to hold the unique distinction of being an attorney general who appears to have no knowledge whatsoever of the law...) have wasted no time rolling out the talking points (al-Qaida, gonna get us, London terr'rists, fight 'em over there so we don't have to fight 'em over here ... yada yada...) and the Authoritarian faithful are in full apoplexy, as would be expected (and of course they're playing the BRITONS GONNA BOMB OUR PLANES WITH BOTTLED WATER!!!! James Bamford, the first reporter to write about the NSA back in 1982, and Iraq war afficionado Christopher Hitchens, the bedrunken, unlikely defender of the Bush administration of late, but who said the following upon joining the suit:

Although I am named in this suit on my own behalf, I am motivated to join it by concerns well beyond my own. I have been frankly appalled by the discrepant and contradictory positions taken by the Administration in this matter. First, the entire existence of the NSA's monitoring was a secret, and its very disclosure denounced as a threat to national security.

Then it was argued that Congress had already implicitly granted the power to conduct warrantless surveillance on the territory of the United States, which seemed to make the reason for the original secrecy more rather than less mysterious. (I think we may take it for granted that our deadly enemies understand that their communications may be intercepted.)

This makes it critically important that we establish an understood line, and test the cases in which it may or may not be crossed.

Let me give a very direct instance of what I mean. We have recently learned that the NSA used law enforcement agencies to track members of a pacifist organisation in Baltimore. This is, first of all, an appalling abuse of state power and an unjustified invasion of privacy, uncovered by any definition of "national security" however expansive. It is, no less importantly, a stupid diversion of scarce resources from the real target. It is a certainty that if all the facts were known we would become aware of many more such cases of misconduct and waste.

We are, in essence, being asked to trust the state to know best. What reason do we have for such confidence? The agencies entrusted with our protection have repeatedly been shown, before and after the fall of 2001, to be conspicuous for their incompetence and venality. No serious reform of these institutions has been undertaken or even proposed: Mr George Tenet (whose underlings have generated leaks designed to sabotage the Administration's own policy of regime-change in Iraq, and whose immense and unconstitutionally secret budget could not finance the infiltration of a group which John Walker Lindh could join with ease) was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom. ...

Quite. But don't get too excited, civil liberties fans. I predict one of two things will happen, sooner or later. The sooner would be the sycophant Congress, led by Chief Presidential Boot Polisher Pat Roberts of Kansas (chair of the ironically-named "Intelligence committee") and somtimey oversight czarito Arlen Specter (Judiciary chair). The Congress will likely hasten to denude itself of any pretension of equality with the executive and hastily subordinate itself to the prez by passing legislation making the illegal surveillance program legal.

The later: Bush's newly crafted Roberts Supreme Court will gather Clarence Thomas, his shoe-shine bag, Sam Alito and Tony Scalia's collective combovers and smack down the Detroit judge faster than you can say "yessa, masta President..."

Such is the state of the Republic, at this stage in the "war on terra..."

And speaking of "terra..." I wonder how long it will be before Judge Taylor (who became the first Black woman judge to be appointed in the Eastern District of Michigan in 1979 -- yes, the Carter 1979 ... which will REALLY cheese off the authoritarians...) gets her first racism laced, bilious death threat from a Little Green Footballer?

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Tags: , , NSA, Bush, Politics, War on Terror, Congress, FISA, , surveillance, spying, Privacy, eavesdropping
posted by JReid @ 5:52 PM  
Quote of the day (so far)
"You cannot lead an entire nation to war promising victory, produce humiliating defeat and remain in power..."

-- Ari Shavit, columnist for Israel's Haaretz daily, on the 34 Days War in Lebanon

If there's one thing I admire about the Israelis, it's their penchant for accountability.

Tags: , Politics, Israel, War, News, Lebanon

posted by JReid @ 10:27 AM  
Apologies to come?
Will those who accused the late Patsy Ramsey and her husband ... and even their then 12-year-old son ... of killing JonBenet now apologize? Meanwhile, the sicko says "oops... I'm sorry..."

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posted by JReid @ 10:05 AM  
A day with Dubya: Rock 'n hogs edition
George W. Bush thinks he's a rock god (kind of like Bono...) who's presiding over a new "morning in America" (and apparently, in the Middle East). The deputy prime minister of England just thinks he's crap.
Tags: Bush
posted by JReid @ 9:29 AM  
Hedging his bets?
From Zaman online:

It has been revealed that Israeli Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Dan Halutz sold his shares hours after his two soldiers were kidnapped by Hezbollah on July 12.

Claiming that “he did not expect a war to break out at that time,” Halutz reportedly sold his shares just a few hours after the kidnapping of the soldiers, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth wrote.

According to the first report published in Maariv newspaper, the shares were estimated to worth around $27,900, and wrote that Israeli officers reacted against the behavior of Halutz at the time.

“The chief of staff is working day and night to defend the citizens of Israel and digging into his personal affairs is not appropriate," read a statement released by the Israeli army.

The Tel Aviv Stock Market had started to fall following the start of attacks against Lebanon.
Yeesh. ...

Tags: , Politics, Israel, War, News, Lebanon
posted by JReid @ 9:03 AM  
Counting their dead, licking their wounds

Even as the Lebanese Army moves into the buffer zone south of the Litani River, and Condi Rice does her best to spin it positively, Israelis and their partisans in the west seem to have traded defiance for despondency following the arguably failed Lebanon campaign. (41% of Israelis apparently want Ehud Olmert to quit... the two missing soldiers seized by Hezbollah are still missing ... a nasty inquest is coming ... and Israel's moral standing around the world is in tatters. And yes, Israel's enemies are emboldened...) So that's where we are.

From the WaPo today:

METULA, Israel, Aug. 16 -- From her dining room window, Zvia Drori looks into Lebanon, less than a mile away from this border town, and sees the yellow flags of Hezbollah stirring slightly in the hot sun. For Drori and her neighbors, the banners seem to taunt Israel for its failure to wipe out the Shiite militia.

"I don't want to stay here anymore," said Drori, 60, who came home Tuesday after fleeing for a month to Tel Aviv. "You see my beautiful view. But you still see Hezbollah."

Thousands of Israelis are returning now to their homes near the Lebanese border. They are bitter and angry about what many call a futile war, and what others call an outright loss.

"Israel lost big-time," said Ravit Ben-Simon, 25, glumly reopening her cellphone store on Wednesday in nearby Kiryat Shemona. "It wasn't a worthwhile war at all. It all started because of the kidnapped soldiers. Where are they now? Still kidnapped. It was all for nothing."

That view was reflected in a national poll released Wednesday, showing that public support for the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has plummeted. The poll by the Maariv newspaper showed that Olmert's support had dropped from 78 percent on July 19, shortly after the war began, to 40 percent.

Here in what Israelis call the "frontline towns" -- the kibbutz farming communities of the settlers who arrived decades ago and the hardscrabble towns that became home to immigrants -- the view is harsh. The rain of Hezbollah rockets emptied these places, sending most residents fleeing to the south and forcing the remainder into grim bomb shelters in their basements.

They emerged with Monday's cease-fire to sweep up the broken window glass, haul away the burned cars and -- in Kiryat Shemona on Wednesday -- bury the dead. Hundreds of residents watched in the cemetery as uniformed soldiers fired a formal salute for Sgt. 1st Class David Amar, 24, a local who had been called up for the reserves. He was killed in Lebanon by an antitank missile Sunday, the day before the fighting stopped.

"He was always smiling. So happy," said a red-eyed soldier who would not give her name. "Was the war worth this? No. We don't think so."
And if there are not already enough parallels with the Iraq war (too few troops, a national leader inexperienced in military matters, and teeming civilian casualties that inflamed hatred for the occupying army...) there's also this:


Israel Television on Wednesday aired interviews with returning reservists offering scathing criticisms of the army, complaining that supplies and armaments were missing, orders were confused, and food and water were in short supply.

And this:


During the war, 118 Israeli soldiers and 39 civilians were killed. More than 5,000 were injured, and at least 12,000 homes were damaged. Estimates of the civilian death toll in Lebanon range from about 700 to more than 1,000, and Israeli bombardment left a path of destruction in southern Lebanon that is unmatched here.

But for Israel, accustomed to military domination of its Arab foes, the failure of its army to crush Hezbollah, or even to reduce the shelling, was a bitter pill.

"Our government was unprepared. They didn't know what they were getting into," said Gital Lahyani, 36, as she reopened her cafe in Kiryat Shemona. "The situation is even worse now. Now the Lebanese, and the Syrians and the Iranians, perceive us as weak. It just set the ground for the next war." ...

... All but an estimated 3,000 of Kiryat Shemona's 24,000 residents had left. Biton had stayed. It was "like a Warsaw ghetto. It was a catastrophe," he said. Beneath his building, a few residents had huddled in the claustrophobia-inducing concrete shelter until the tension drove them out. A child's painted handprints were the only sign of cheer left in the place. Affixed to the shelter's steel door was a sticker, handed out early in the conflict by a newspaper company: "We will win," it boasted in patriotic blue.

"This war didn't do anything," Biton said, waving the cigarette in disgust. "We lost over 100 soldiers. . . . What did we do? We failed."

In the blogosphere, the aftertaste of the war is no less bitter. Let's start with the Likudniks at Powerline:


The magnitude of Israel's failure in Lebanon becomes clearer every day. Hezbollah, stating the obvious, has said it has no intention of disarming (but it may curtail public displays of its weapons). Lebanese officials have made it clear that the "government" has no intention of disarming Hezbollah. Why, asked one leader, should the Lebanese army try to do what the IDF could not accomplish (especially with Hezbollah's popularity now at a new high)?

Meanwhile diplomats are scrambling, without much apparent success, to come up with the members of the new UNIFIL force. If that force arrives, it can hardly be expected to take on Hezbollah. French troops are still expected to take the lead, and the French foreign minister (who has proclaimed Iran a force for stability) slyly promises only to attempt to persuade Hezbollah to disarm. In short, Hezbollah, the Lebanese government, and the international community are already rubbing Israel's nose it it, as well they might. Indeed, it would probably be better for Israel if no enlarged U.N. force appears -- that way the IDF will have more freedom to attack the next time Hezbollah provokes a crisis.
He then tosses in even more despondent comments from The Gambler himself, Bill Bennett:


—Today, Condi Rice has an op-ed in the Washington Post claiming the U.N. resolution on Israel and Lebanon a success, writing among other things that the cease fire brokered, “a truly effective cease-fire, requires a decisive change from the status quo.” She claims Hezbollah has earned “the blame of the world for causing the war.”

—Someone at State forgot to give Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria the talking points.

—The status quo is changed all right, Israel is made weak, is made to look weak and Hezbollah has -—far from any blame -—new respect on the Muslim street. And the headline in the WAPO today is “Hezbollah balks at withdrawal from the South.”
Meanwhile, over at the New York Post, columnist and historian Arthur Herman waxes even more maudlin:


HISTORIANS will look back at this weekend's cease-fire agreement in Lebanon as a pivotal moment in the war on terror. It is pivotal in the same sense that the Munich agreement between Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain was pivotal in an earlier battle against the enemies of freedom. The accord in October 1938 revealed to the world that the solidarity of the Western allies was a sham, and that the balance of power had shifted to the fascist dictators.
Resolution 1701 shows that, for the time being at least, the balance has likewise shifted to the terrorists and their state sponsors. Like Munich, it marks the triumph of the principle of putting off until tomorrow what needs to be done today. Like Munich, it will mean not peace in our time, but a bigger war in our future.

In that sense, the cease-fire may be even more momentous than Munich, and a greater blunder. In 1938 Chamberlain and other appeasers had the excuse that they were trying to prevent an armed conflict no one wanted. Today, of course, that conflict is already here. Historians will conclude that by supporting U.N. Resolution 1701 and getting Israel to agree, the Bush administration has in effect declared that its global war on terror is over. We have reverted to the pre-9/11 box of tools, if not necessarily the pre-9/11 mindset. From now on, the worst Iran, Syria, and North Korea will have to worry about are serial resolutions in the United Nations. Terrorists will be busy dodging Justice Department subpoenas, not Tomahawk missiles.

Our enemies know better. They know the war is only entering a new stage, and they know who the winners and losers were last weekend.
Yeah, I'm sure Hezbollah's 14,000 some odd fighters are prepping to overrun Tel Aviv any minute. Come on guys, I think this is a bit much...

Sorry for that aside. Anyway, Herman get's even gloomier:


The clear losers were the United States and Israel. Israel has sacrificed lives and treasure, and had its honor dragged through the mud of international opinion, for no purpose. America squandered its political capital at the start of the crisis by getting moderate Arab regimes to condemn Hezbollah instead of Israel. They did so because they thought Hezbollah was about to be annihilated. However, they soon realized their mistake. They now know Tehran and Damascus will set the agenda in the Middle East, not Washington. The Arab League's support for this U.N.-brokered deal is just one more measure of our strategic failure.

The other loser is Lebanon. The price of peace in 1938 was de jure dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, as Germany annexed the Sudetenland. The price of Resolution 1701 is de facto dismemberment of Lebanon. A large, well-armed terrorist army acting at the behest of a foreign power now controls the southern half of Lebanon, and pulls the strings in the other half. The facade of Lebanese self-government has been preserved. As a territorial state, it may even last longer than Czechoslovakia did (Hitler gave the Czechs five months before he annexed the rest of their country).

But other states in the region will have learned their lesson. Faced by an internal terrorist organization, especially one with links with Tehran, they will have to make accommodations. No white knight in the guise of U.S. Marines will ride to their rescue; no Israeli tanks and F-16s will do their dirty work for them. Appeasement will be the order of the day.

That includes Iraq. The disarming of Sunni and Shia militias, the necessary first step to ending sectarian violence there, will be postponed - perhaps for good. On the contrary, this crisis has taught Iraq's Shia minority that extremism pays, particularly the Iranian kind.

For everyone in the Middle East knows Iran is the clear winner. Only the diplomats and politicians, including the Bush administration, will pretend otherwise. Iran has emerged as the clear champion of anti-Israeli feeling and radical Islam. The Iranians have their useful puppet in Syria; they have their proxy armies in place with Hezbollah and Hamas. They have been able to install missiles, even Revolutionary Guards, in Lebanon with impunity. Sunni regimes in the region will move to strike their own deals with Iran, just as Eastern European states did with Germany after Czechoslovakia. That includes Iraq; the lesson will not be lost on Russia and China, either. And all the while, the Iranians proceed with their nuclear plans - with the same impunity.

Finally, the other winners are the conventional diplomats at the State Department, especially Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns. In a narrow professional sense, appeasement is their business. They never saw the point to a "war on terror they are delighted to take back the initiative from the hawks at the Pentagon and the White House.

The war in Iraq has clearly sapped the moral strength of the Bush administration. The men of Munich acquiesced to Hitler because another world war like the first seemed unthinkable. The Bush administration clearly feels it cannot face another major confrontation even with a second-rate power like Iran. Yet by calling off the war on terror, it has only postponed that conflict.

"We have passed an awful milestone in our history," Winston Churchill said after the Munich agreement was signed. "Do not suppose this is the end . . . This is only the first sip, the first foretaste, of a bitter cup that will be proffered to us year by year." Despite the failure of appeasement, Churchill still believed the Western democracies would make the "supreme recovery" and take up the banner for freedom again. The United States and the forces of democracy will recover from this debacle - even with a Democratic Congress in 2006 and a Democratic president in 2008. The reason will not be because Bush's opponents have a better strategy, or a clearer vision, or even a Winston Churchill waiting in the wings. It will be because our enemies will give us no choice.
I don't know if I would go so far as to say that we have witnessed another Munich, although I do agree, and have said since the beginning of this conflict, that it was a war that Israel could not win, even if it had managed to prevail militarily. Bombing Lebanese old women and children is no way to win a war on terror. That said, Israel will survive, folks. It remains the strongest military power in the region, and the one true godchild of the United States (contrary to conventional wisdom, we appear to be the godchild of the Saudis, not the other way around). Anyway, more doldrums, this time from the other side of the aisle:

Sidney Blumenthal writes the following, for Salon:


Israel's debacle, courtesy of Bush

Aug. 17, 2006 On Monday, the day the cease-fire was imposed on Israel's war in Lebanon against Hezbollah, and just days after the London terrorists were arrested, President Bush strode to the podium at the State Department to describe global conflict in neater and tidier terms than any convoluted conspiracy theory. Almost in one breath he explained that events "from Baghdad to Beirut," and Afghanistan, and London, are linked in "a broader struggle between freedom and terror"; that far-flung terrorism is "no coincidence," caused by "a lack of freedom" -- "We saw the consequences on September the 11th, 2001" -- and that all these emanations are being combated by his administration's "forward strategy of freedom in the broader Middle East," and that "that strategy has helped bring hope to millions." If there was any doubt about "coincidence," he concluded a sequence stringing together Lebanon, Iraq and Iran by defiantly pledging, "The message of this administration is clear: America will stay on the offense against al-Qaida." Thus Bush's unified field theory of fear, if it is a theory.

Then, once again, Bush declared victory. Hezbollah, he asserted, had gained nothing from the war, but had "suffered a defeat."

At the moment that Bush was speaking an Israeli poll was released that revealed the disintegration of public opinion there about the war aims and Israeli leadership. Fifty-two percent believed that the Israeli army was unsuccessful, and 58 percent believed Israel had achieved none of its objectives. The disapproval ratings of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz skyrocketed to 62 percent and 65 percent, respectively.

The war has left Israel's invincible image shattered and moral authority tarnished, while leaving Hezbollah standing on the battlefield, its reputation burnished in the Arab street "from Baghdad to Beirut." Virtually the entire Israeli political structure has emerged from the ordeal discredited. When the war against Hezbollah ended, the war of each political and military leader against every other one began.
Whatever your ideological bent, and unless you're under the beguilement of the Bush-Condi spin, one other thing is clear: thanks to the blundersome Israeli bombardment of Lebanon, and the wanton destruction of that country's infrastructure, the war has given birth to a new rock star in both the Arab and Muslim "streets", and his name is Hassan Nasrallah. He should send the IDF a thank you note. (Care to guess who's rebuilding southern Lebanon?)

As for the broader war on terror, it should be clear to every sentient being at this point that it can no more be won by military might than it can by parting claustrophobic airline passengers from their petroleum jelly and Evian via F-15.

Oh! ... and Rich Lowry thinks Iraq is becoming another Vietnam.

Happy Thursday!

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Tags: , , , Politics, Israel, Terrorism, War, News, Lebanon
posted by JReid @ 6:51 AM  
Monday, August 14, 2006
Who's blogging now?
Heavens to the 12th Imam ... it's Ahmadinejad dot com...

Tags: News, Iran, News, Ahmadinejad, News, Blogs
posted by JReid @ 10:58 PM  
How Israel lost

... that's the name of a terrific book I read this summer, by Richard Ben Cramer. The bottom line in the book is that Israel cannot sustain its protracted occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, because it can neither subdue the Palestinian people nor absorb them, without losing its character as a Jewish state (or as a democracy, because to maintain Jewish dominance, it would have to sink completely into apartheid.)

But "how Israel lost" could also be the coda to the recent campaign in Lebanon, and Israelis are apparently waking up this week to not just a ceasefire (however temporary) but also to the sobering realization that their great military failed to achieve any of its key objectives. Hezbollah is decidedly NOT disarmed, nor has the organiation been cowed. Lebanon is in ruins, and so too is the potential for a friendly relationship between this onetime jewel of the Arab world and the Jewish state. And now, his war aims in tatters, and despite the best spin efforts his friends in Washington can muster, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is preparing to face the music. From the Independent:
Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, was obliged to admit "shortcomings" in the 34-day-old conflict in Lebanon yesterday as he launched what may prove a protracted fight for his own political survival.

Mr Olmert's admission in a stormy Knesset session came in the face of devastating poll figures showing a majority of the Israeli public believes none or only a very small part of the goals of the war had been achieved.

Adding insult to injury, the leader of Hizbollah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, crowed on television that his guerrillas had achieved a "strategic historic victory" over Israel.

The Prime Minister, who was repeatedly heckled by opposition MPs during his address, insisted the international commitments in Friday night's UN resolution would "change fundamentally" the balance of forces on the country's northern border.

But, facing his first major political crisis since winning the election five months ago, he acknowledged "the overall responsibility for this operation lies with me, the Prime Minister. I am not asking to share this with anyone." A number of Knesset members including the Israeli Arab Ahmed Tibi, a furious opponent of the war, were ejected from the chamber.

The opening of what is likely to prove a bitter post-mortem came as the two sides began an uneasy truce. The conflict is estimated to have cost well over 1,000 Lebanese lives as well as those of 156 Israelis - civilians and soldiers. ...

...Promising that the government "will have to examine ourselves at all levels," Mr Olmert fought to pre-empt a probable campaign by the political right by declaring that Hizbollah had been dealt a "harsh blow". He added that the guerrilla group was no longer "a state within a state" or a "terrorist organisation that is allowed to act inside a state as an arm of the axis of evil", referring to Syria and Iran.
Good try, Olmert. But in the end, what really has Israel gained from its war on Lebanon? I'd say precious little, besides proving to the world what the U.S. proved in Iraq -- that having a superior military does not guarantee victory, particularly when the enemy is essentially the indigenous population of the country you say you're "liberating..."

Tags: , , , Politics, Israel, Terrorism, War, News, Lebanon
posted by JReid @ 10:49 PM  
Fox News does not negotiate with terrorists
Or do they...?
posted by JReid @ 10:33 PM  
Unsurprising headlines: Through the looking glass
NBC News reported today that the timing of the arrests in the UK "bottle bombers" plot didn't belong to the British...
LONDON - NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.

British officials knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

In contrast to previous reports, one senior British official suggested an attack was not imminent, saying the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.

The sources did say, however, that police believe one U.K.-based suspect was ready to conduct a "dry run." British authorities had wanted to let him go forward with part of the plan, but the Americans balked.

At the White House, a top aide to President Bush denied the account.
As well that top aide should. Of course, the timing wouldn't have anything to do with politics, now would it...?

Meanwhile, Sy Hersh's latest report is that the U.S. and Israel coordinated the attack on Lebanon as a "dry run" of a U.S. attack on Iran:
In the days after Hezbollah crossed fro Lebanon into Israel, on July 12th, to kidna two soldiers, triggering an Israeli air attack o Lebanon and a full-scale war, the Bus Administration seemed strangely passive. “It’s moment of clarification,” President George W Bush said at the G-8 summit, in St. Petersburg on July 16th. “It’s now become clear why w don’t have peace in the Middle East.” H described the relationship between Hezbolla and its supporters in Iran and Syria as one o the “root causes of instability,” an subsequently said that it was up to thos countries to end the crisis. Two days later despite calls from several governments for th United States to take the lead in negotiations t end the fighting, Secretary of Stat Condoleezza Rice said that a ceasefire shoul be put off until “the conditions are conducive.

The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground. ...

...According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah—and shared it with Bush Administration officials—well before the July 12th kidnappings. “It’s not that the Israelis had a trap that Hezbollah walked into,” he said, “but there was a strong feeling in the White House that sooner or later the Israelis were going to do it.”
The Middle East expert said that the Administration had several reasons for supporting the Israeli bombing campaign. Within the State Department, it was seen as a way to strengthen the Lebanese government so that it could assert its authority over the south of the country, much of which is controlled by Hezbollah. He went on, “The White House was more focussed on stripping Hezbollah of its missiles, because, if there was to be a military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities, it had to get rid of the weapons that Hezbollah could use in a potential retaliation at Israel. Bush wanted both. Bush was going after Iran, as part of the Axis of Evil, and its nuclear sites, and he was interested in going after Hezbollah as part of his interest in democratization, with Lebanon as one of the crown jewels of Middle East democracy.”

Strengthen Lebanon's government? More proof that the neocons are absolutely deluded, and that they should absolutely be permanently sidelined from participation in the workings of government. And that includes the Vice President...

And now, for the Allice in Wonderland coup de grace:
“The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. “Why oppose it? We’ll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran.”

A Pentagon consultant said that the Bush White House “has been agitating for some time to find a reason for a preëmptive blow against Hezbollah.” He added, “It was our intent to have Hezbollah diminished, and now we have someone else doing it.” (As this article went to press, the United Nations Security Council passed a ceasefire resolution, although it was unclear if it would change the situation on the ground.)

And apprently, not doing it well. Richard Engel reported tonight from Tyre that Hezbollah appears firmly in charge in the south, and not only is Nasrallah refusing to disarm (after all, "only Hezbollah" can stand up to Israeli aggression...) they are pledging to "lead the effort to rebuild southern Lebanon.") Strengthen the hand of the Lebanese government my arse...

Tags: , , , Politics, Israel, Terrorism, War, News, Lebanon
posted by JReid @ 10:19 PM  
Respect, and sympathy, for Lebanon
As a cold peace settles over Lebanon...

People on both sides of the Blue Line are hoping for the best, as the U.N.'s belated deal to halt hostilities takes effect (as of midnight Monday).

The ceasefire comes after Hezbollah's biggest launch day -- 250 rockets into Israel, and after Israel's worst day of military casualties, with 31 soldiers killed on the march to the Litani River, and a helicopter shot down with 5 crewmen missing.

No one is sure this is over, but for now, it appears that Israeli and Lebanese children can have a few days, at least, to play outside.

The Israel-Hezbollah battle has raised the profile of tiny Lebanon in the Xenophobic west, and for me, it has incresed both my knowledge of, and respect for, the people and government of Lebanon -- and notice I said Lebanon, not Hezbollah ... so back off, cranks. ... In particular, I have been impressed by the raw emotion and intelligence of two figures, Cultural minister-cum-acting Foreign Minister Dr. Tareq Mitri, a learned, sober man who deeply understands both the angels and demons of religion, and how they play into the conflict, and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, head of a weak coalition government caught between the overbearing Syrians, the cruel Israelis, the meddling Iranians and the rash, selfish Hezbollah, and whose emotion and obvious love for his country and countrymen stood Lebanon in good stead as the bastion of democracy that the American administration hoped the Cedar Revolution would bring. Siniora and his cabinet's decision to deploy 15,000 troops to the south probably saved his country from total devastation at the hands of the Israelis, as did some solid diplomacy with the French (who still understand the virtues of honest brokerage, which the Americans, under the Sharon-beguiled Mr. Bush, have apparently forgotten. ...

And amid all the dying, and the controversies, I think these two men have stood tall. Of course, the conflict is not over, but my sympathy, and prayers, are with Lebanon today. On August 8, when a ceasefire still seemed a long way off, blogger Abu Kais at From Beirut to the Beltway summed things up very, very well:

Fouad Siniora, long paralyzed by an inane National Dialogue and Bashar's Lebanese orcs, found his legs yesterday, with a little behind the scenes help from France and Saad Hariri. His speech at the Arab Foreign ministers meeting brought tears to the eyes of many, including the supporters of the Arab world's vicarious resistance against Israel. Siniora's Arab tears made Hizbullah's Iranian weapons look marginal. While it's too early to declare Siniora as the face of a new Arabism, the man's dedication to his country, and his steadfastness and political wizardry may well be what this region long needed: a fresh start. Bashar and his Iranian friends have been dealt a severe blow by Siniora's decision to send the Lebanese army south. Not even Hizbullah could object.

Siniora knows who is destroying his country. One force is Israel. But the second force is Iran and its new proxy state, Assad's Syria. Hizbullah and Israel put him in a difficult position. They made his fight for his country's independence look like treason. But he persevered, and soon he found the means: Cabinet consensus and the Arab League. Absorb Hizbullah by acknowledging their resistance, but don't let them absorb you.
Saniora on Tuesday praised Hezbollah's resistance, but said it was time for Lebanon to "impose its full control, authority and presence" over the war-weary country. "There will be no authority, no one in command, no weapons other than those of the Lebanese state," he said on Al-Arabiya television.
Siniora yesterday looked like the leader no Arab country has ever had, offering a better alternative to the misguided "resistance" plague swallowing the region's youth.
We do not want the Lebanese state and the Lebanese people to remain the punch bag of Israel or anyone else (Read Iran and Syria). We are determined not to be the arena for conflicts and confrontations from now on, whatever the justification… We are basing our arguments on the sorrows of the widowed women, the dead children, the wounded and the homeless people… (Naharnet)
"Our Arabness is not conditional. It is not by force, but a choice," he added. The significance of these statements should not be missed. Bashar can no longer get away with waving his brand of Arab nationalism in our faces, using it to justify his murders, and to keep us in a state of war and fear. Arabism should not be a political tool of oppression or ignoring the suffering of your own people. It should be the key to our political independence.
And from Israel, blogger Allison of Isreality, tells a tale of teenage and parental frustration and fear:

It was supposed to be the highlight of camp: “Survivor Day.” Inspired by the TV show of the same name, the campers arose at 5 a.m. and prepared for a full day of managing outdoors on their wits. There were a variety of water challenges planned - a critical concession given the 90-degree plus heat - ranging from jumping on and off rafts to wet and wild tug of wars.

Everything was going swimmingly, so to speak, until - in the middle of all the fun - four long-range Hezbollah missiles from Lebanon landed about a kilometer from where the campers were frolicking in the local water hole, giving Survivor Day an unexpected and entirely unwanted twist.

For the past 12 days, our 12-year-old daughter, Merav, has been having the time of her life at her first overnight camping experience. The setting was Kibbutz Shluchot just south of Bet Shean in the northern Jordan Valley. “Everyday there’s something different,” Merav told us one night by phone. “You never know what to expect.” ….The Khaibars landed in the Mount Gilboa forests between Bet Shean and Afula. As soon as I heard the news (since the war started over a month ago, I have been obsessively monitoring the Internet, checking in no less than once every five minutes), I pulled out a map. Whereas the previous round of missiles fired into the Bet Shean area sailed mostly over the town and nearby Kibbutz Shluchot - setting off alarms, but touching ground a good deal away near the West Bank city of Jenin - this time, they were daringly close to a camp full of kids outdoors, who not coincidentally, were also miles from the nearest bomb shelter.

The phone soon rang. It was Merav. She was clearly in tears; I could feel her shoulders heaving up and down in the tremble of her voice. “They’re canceling camp,” she said. “We’re coming home tonight. They said it’s not safe here anymore.”

I didn’t know exactly how to respond. It’s hard enough parenting a teenage daughter in ordinary times and Merav’s emotions are already volatile; I never know if she’s going to take a comment in stride or launch into a sequence of ceremonial door slamming.

Should I try to comfort her, ask her how she was feeling and if she was scared? Or should I act all nonchalant and normal and say what a shame it was that camp was ending early, letting her initiate any heavy-duty discussion?

I looked for clues in Merav’s words. “And today was supposed to be the best day of camp, too,” she said. I sensed less shaking now and more of a pout. That seemed to call for a laid-back direction. “That’s such a bummer,” I said, picking my words carefully. “I know you were really looking forward to it.”

“But I’m scared, Abba.”

“You are?” I said, confused now by the rapid change of course. “Well, what was it like?”

“We heard this whistling sound, it was more like a ‘whoosh,’ then we thought we saw a light in the sky - I’m not sure - it was almost like a shooting star in the middle of the day - and then there were these big ‘booms’ and we saw all this smoke going up from the other side of the mountain. We had to duck under these picnic tables for, like 15 minutes, and we were all wet and it was muddy.”

“That must have been awful,” I intoned caringly. “No wonder you were scared!”

“And now you’re going to have a big load of clothes to wash!” Merav barked, a sprig of sarcasm back in her voice.

My parenting instinct was being ping-ponged all over the table. I needed to pick a strategy: casual or concern. But Merav had decided for me. “I have to go now,” Merav interrupted my game of mental table tennis. “We need to pack. We’re coming home tonight. Bye.”

Let's hope it's over for both sides, starting today.

And now, in Israel and in Lebanon, it's almost all over, but the spin. From Ha'aretz, senior Israeli ministers say Hezbollah is now a "beaten force":

Senior cabinet minister Haim Ramon said Monday that as a result of the war in the north, Hezbollah is a "beaten" force that is entirely changed.

The justice minister also said that the terms of the UN cease-fire could spur a fundamental change in Lebanon, and that that was the objective of the war as pursued by Israel.

"Despite whatever claims Nasrallah may make in victory speeches, Hezbollah today is an entirely different Hezbollah, he told Army radio, referring to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

"This is a beaten Hezbollah, entirely different in real terms, both on the ground and also from the international standpoint," he told Army Radio.
Others disagree, of course. And Israeli colunnist Shmuel Rosner begs to differ ... at least somewhat. And he does the obligatory winners and losers:
The war-guide to winners and losers

Israel: Certainly not a winner. "Her people said she did Israel a favor," I wrote today about Secretary Rice, "as it sought a way to stop the bloodshed without seeming to surrender. She saved Israel from itself." Read my analysis here. The Israelis are those who paid the price. Running for cover while burying the dead.

Hezbollah: Certainly not a loser. "Siniora's government would not order the army to fight Hezbollah for fear of civil war breaking out again," writes Zvi Bar'el here.

The Lebanese: My Lebanese friend wrote me a couple of days ago: "Destroying Lebanon will do you no good; all you're doing is nurturing additional hate towards the Israelis." I have not yet answered. I don't really know what to say.

Syria: A senior Defense Department official told me Wednesday that The U.S. is troubled by what official termed "a rise in Syria's self-confidence." This says it all. Read the rest of what he said here.

Iran: Haaretz' Yoel Marcus phrased it exactly right: "Neither a political accord nor a military victory will change the situation as long as Iran is around, controlling the height of the flames." Read him here.

U.S.: "The fact that the United States has spent major diplomatic capital providing Israel with an unprecedented window of opportunity to deal with Hezbollah, facing down both its European allies and the Arab League, and complicating efforts to launch multilateral sanctions against Iran, makes matters [namely, an Israeli loss] even worse," wrote David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, echoing an article written by Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post a couple of days ago (The Haaretz piece here, the Post piece here). I think it is an overstatement, but nevertheless reflects a sentiment that should be taken seriously.

Security Council: There's not one sentence in Yossi Sarid's article with which I agree - except for this one: "Every time I hear about the "international community" and the United Nations and its Security Council, I exchange my tears for cynical laughter." You can read it here.

Olmert: The sentiment is the one expressed in Ari Shavit's article today: "You cannot lead an entire nation to war promising victory, produce humiliating defeat and remain in power" (Read here). Reality is of course more complicated. Who exactly is going to replace him? Olmert was elected because no other alternative was in sight - and he will probably stay for the same reason.

Siniora: The jury is still out mulling the future of Lebanon's Prime Minister. But "This man, who broke down during the conference of Arab foreign ministers in Beirut this week, has managed to surprise everyone," writes Zvi Bar'el. Read it here.

Bush: He is probably disappointed. And for good reasons.

Rice: "Some on the right flank of the Bush administration feel Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was too hasty in aligning with French demands for a cease-fire," I wrote today. Her relations with Israel will not be as casual as they have thus far. ...
There's more in the piece...

Previous:

Tags: , , , Politics, Israel, Terrorism, War, News, Lebanon
posted by JReid @ 7:38 AM  
The Monday funnies
Weekend at Fidel's? Apparently the 80-year-old Revolutionista is alive, but not well, photos released over the weekend notwithstanding. Meanwhile, the quest to carve up the communist island to the benefit of American and other economic interests waits in the wings, as Miami's exile community contemplates their former property...

Tags: Cuba, Castro, Fidel, Venezuela, Politics, Bush, Fidel Castro, News, Latin America
posted by JReid @ 7:10 AM  
Saturday, August 12, 2006
The UN-resolved conflict
Israel continues to pound Lebanon, hitting the historic cities of Sidon (north of the LItani River) and Tyre, knocking out power stations, and taking out the last road into Syria, which was the final ground route to bring in relief supplies. Over the last couple days, Israel has also rocket attacked a joint U.N-Lebanese Army convoy which was accompanying civilians attempting to flee the conflict in southern Lebanon.

And this of course has halted the Hezbollah rocket fire into northern Isr... oh, sorry, it hasn't done that at all. But of course it has united the "moderate Arab world" on the side of the Israeli "builders..." oh, wait, wrong again ... it has intensified the image of Israel as regional bully.

This all comes as an ambarrassed United Nations finally manages to vote for a belated resolution, which finally manages to include a requirement that ... wait for it ... Israel not reoccupy sourthern Lebanon. Kofi Annan is rightly frustrated, but he should also be frustrated with his own weak leadership. The resolution seems to me to be a product of French persistence plus Russian esasperation married to American stall tactics on behalf of Tel Aviv. The better to cut the power to all of south Lebanon, I suppose... and to permit maximum carnage before the end. Of course, it's pretty obvious that the U.S. also wants to allow Israeli forces to get as deep into Lebanon as possible, so that when Lebanese and Unifil troops move in, the barrier they're holding is outside of Katushia rocket range of northern Israeli settlements. Strategery...

More on the fighting, and the resolution, first from the BBC:
Israel's military is pressing on with an expanded ground offensive in south Lebanon, despite the UN Security Council vote for a ceasefire plan.
Israel has tripled its number of troops there, the army chief said. They are moving towards the strategically significant Litani River.

The UN passed a resolution urging a "full cessation of hostilities".

Israel's Cabinet is to discuss the issue on Sunday and will only halt military action after it takes a vote.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is asking the Cabinet to endorse the resolution, describing it as positive and acceptable.

But even as diplomats finalised the draft, Israel radio said troops had been ordered to seize ground as far as the Litani River, up to 30km (18 miles) from the Israeli border. ...

...According to Lebanese security sources, at least five people were killed in Israeli air strikes in a village near Tyre.

Israeli jets also raided the city of Sidon - north of the Litani River - destroying facilities at a power station. It is only the second time Sidon has been hit in the conflict, which began more than four weeks ago.

The UN special envoy to the Middle East, Alvaro de Soto, said he expected Israel to wind down its operations in the next couple of days.

No timetable has been agreed for a ceasefire yet.
Now to Mr. Annan:
UN Security Council resolution 1701 was passed unanimously in New York after an impassioned speech from Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Hezbollah rockets are still forcing Israelis into shelters underground

He lamented the UN's failure to act sooner to end fighting in the Middle East.

He also said the widely perceived delay in drafting a resolution had "badly shaken" global faith in the UN.

Meanwhile, the text of the resolution is here..

And there's more on the resolution and how it fianlly came to be from the Independent (note who voted "aye" for the U.S. ... hint, the voter does NOT have a giant, Village People moustache...):
The breakthrough in New York came as France and the United States overcame differences on a resolution that envisages a swift deployment of Lebanese army troops to the south and the beefing up of the UN force already there, called UNIFIL, with troops from Western nations.

Israel, which would be expected to begin withdrawing its troops "in parallel" with the new deployments and "at the earliest opportunity ", had earlier voiced dissatisfaction with the text on the grounds that it conferred insufficient authority on UNIFIL militarily to enforce the ceasefire on Hizbollah. But the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told President George Bush in a phone call last night, minutes before the vote, that he would recommend accepting the text to his cabinet tomorrow. US officials said the Lebanese government was also ready to respect the resolution.

It had become clear that the principle Security Council members, including Britain, were no longer willing to delay a vote. "We are going to vote today, come what may," the British envoy, Emyr Jones Parry, asserted in the afternoon.

Several foreign ministers were on hand to raise their hands in the Security Council, including Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, Britain's Margaret Beckett and France's Philippe Douste-Blazy.

Attention will inevitably now switch to the ground in Lebanon. It remained to be seen how far the ceasefire resolution would be observed, bringing an end to a month of blood-letting in Lebanon. Or if a truce did emerge, how long it would hold. ...
The Independent also sketches out what Israel was not able, through it's de facto negotiator, John Bolton of the recalcitrant Neocons, to wring from the agreement:
There is no explicit provision on the disarming of Hizbollah, raising fears it may break the ceasefire. "Our hope is that we've created enough of a process, and enough security will be established, that Hizbollah will neither want nor be able to do that," said Mr Jones Parry. [The British envoy] "But the first few days are going to be very challenging. Because if they do attack, it opens up a whole can of worms." ...

...The text accepts Lebanon's offer to send 15,000soldiers to the area while suggesting that UNIFIL would be expanded "to a maximum of 15,000 troops" operating under a reinforced mandate to "monitor the cessation of hostilities". Those troops are expected to be provided by countries including France, Spain, Germany and Australia. In time there could be 30,000 troops in the south. Diplomats are hoping that the introduction of such a large number of troops will answer Israel's fear regarding the creation of a security vacuum on its border that it would leave Hizbollah soldiers the opportunity to spill back in.

Israel had been hoping that UNIFIL's mandate would be boosted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter which would have explicitly authorised it to engage Hizbollah fighters. The idea was dropped, however, after it drew strong objections from Lebanon on the grounds that it would have converted UNIFIL almost into colonising force.

Lebanon and other Arab nations had also pushed negotiators to balance the terms of the ceasefire to ensure Israel and Hizbollah were under matching constraints. In the end, the text called for "the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive operations". This appears to leave it to Israel to define which of its operations are offensive.

From the London Free Press, we get this update:
Israel ignores looming ceasefire

JERUSALEM -- Long columns of Israeli tanks, troops and armoured personnel carriers streamed over the Lebanese border early today as Israel pressed ahead with its military offensive, hoping to inflict as much damage as possible on Hezbollah before a proposed ceasefire deal comes into effect.

Israeli officials said the military would push forward with the expanded offensive, ordered yesterday by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, despite a UN Security Council resolution that calls for an end to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

The campaign will continue at least until tomorrow when Olmert will bring the resolution to his government for discussion, said Gideon Meir, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official, adding Olmert intends to urge the cabinet to approve it.

The resolution authorizes the deployment of 15,000 UN peacekeepers to help Lebanese troops take control of South Lebanon as Israel withdraws.

Officials said the continuing military operation is intended to further weaken Hezbollah and make it easier for the UN and Lebanese troops to take over.

"The logic would be that even in the framework of this successful outcome, if you hand over to the Lebanese army a cleaner south Lebanon, a South Lebanon where you have Hezbollah removed from the territory, that makes their (the Lebanese) troubles a lot easier," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mark Regev.

Only six hours passed from Olmert's initial decision to broaden the ground offensive to his endorsement of the ceasefire deal. The zig-zag signalled Israel's dilemma after a month of inconclusive fighting.

Israel has been unable to defeat Hezbollah and is concerned about growing Israeli casualties, as well as international condemnation, if the war continues. However, Olmert also fears accepting a deal that does not rein in the guerrillas could lead to another war down the road and hurt him politically.

More on Olmert, Dubya, and the difficulty of fleeing a conflict, while you're a part of the conflict, like it or not. From The Age (Australia):
Israel still at war despite UN vote

Israeli forces thrust deeper into Lebanon against fierce Hizbollah resistance, hours after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to end the month-old war.

Meanwhile continuing air strikes killed up to 20 people, and relief officials said Israel was still denying permission for aid convoys to reach distressed civilians in the south.

Israeli troops pushed west to Ghandouriyeh, a village 11 km inside Lebanon, their furthest penetration yet, security sources said. Hizbollah said it ambushed them there.

Its statement was a tacit acknowledgement that the Israelis had forced their way through Hizbollah resistance at the village of Qantara, east of Ghandouriyeh. The guerrilla group said it had destroyed seven tanks. The Israeli army said one was hit. ...

...The UN resolution called for an "immediate cessation of hostilities" and authorised up to 15,000 UN troops to move in to enforce a ceasefire. It said Hizbollah must halt all attacks and Israel must stop "all offensive military operations".

Lebanon accepted the resolution and officials said the cabinet, which contains two Hizbollah loyalists, would confirm this at a meeting later in the day. The Shi'ite Muslim guerrilla group has made no comment on the UN vote.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told US President George W Bush he supported it and "thanked him for his assistance in keeping Israeli interests in mind at the Security Council".

Olmert will urge his cabinet to approve the resolution, but an Israeli official said the army would not stop its Lebanon offensive before that cabinet session.

Hours before the UN vote, Israeli aircraft fired rockets at a convoy of hundreds of civilian cars fleeing the south, killing at least seven people and wounding 36, the Lebanese Red Cross said. Israel said the attack was a mistake.

At least 1,061 people in Lebanon and 124 Israelis have been killed in the war that began after Hizbollah guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said the UN resolution "vindicates Israel all the way through and says that Hizbollah was the aggressor and that they need to return the abducted soldiers ... We achieved all we could from the UN."
Nice spin on the part of Peres.

Now to Haaretz, where we get some interesting inside scoop on the internal conflicts among Ehud Olmert's inner circle, includng on Tippi Livni, who sounded for all the world like a natural born hawk on U.S. television, but who may have been subordinating her inner dove...
The cabinet began Thursday its marketing plan to the Security Council to secure the end of the war and play up Israel's successes. Then the obligatory crisis erupted: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert barred Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni from attending the United Nations Security Council sessions.

Livni has been planning the trip for several days. She planned to address the council,speak to colleagues and meet the Jewish community. But Olmert said "No." His reasons were that Livni asked for his approval too late, that there was no point going after the resolution was drafted, and that Foreign Ministry professionals objected. But that was just the cover. Olmert brought his lingering animosity to Livni out into the open.

A short time after the fighting erupted, Olmert pushed Livni out of his close circle.

When he read she was displaying "independence," he sent Shimon Peres for diplomatic talks overseas. Thursday, one of his aides said: "Livni has been telling journalists for three days that she's going to the UN, but remembered to get Olmert's approval an hour and a half before taking off."

Livni objected to continuing with the military operation, which, she believes, had consummated itself in the first two days. She voted against bombarding Hezbollah headquarters in the Dahiya neighborhood in Beirut for fear of escalation. Since then, she has supported the decisions, but kept a low profile. She did not run from one television studio to another to justify the war and muster support for ground operations. She sought a diplomatic solution.

She suggested starting a political process at the same time as the military one, and sending an international force to South Lebanon. Olmert was not keen at first, but ultimately clutched at her suggestions like a life belt to get out of the military entanglement.

At the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Livni made it clear to the IDF chiefs, who proposed an operation that would take a month or two, that if a political way out was found in a day or two, they would have to stop in their tracks.

"Have you completed the operation we approved the last time already?" she asked them.

"Not yet," they answered.

On Monday night, after visiting the Northern Command, Olmert was convinced that the war must be stopped. He did not like the operational plans he was shown, and was not thrilled with the army's performance.

For three weeks, he has been hearing daily that tomorrow the IDF will gain control of Bint Jbail and the town is still swarming with lethal Hezbollah fighters. He did not trust the army to stop the rocket fire even in a prolonged operation.

Since then, Olmert has mobilized a coalition to release him from the grand military operation, which, according to IDF estimates, would involve hundreds of fatalities.

Interesting...

Meanwhile, what does the Israeli military establishment want? more cluster bombs!!! When do they want them? Now!!!
Israel has asked the Bush administration to speed delivery of short-range antipersonnel rockets armed with cluster munitions, the New York Times reported Friday morning. These rockets can be effective against hidden missile launchers.

Israel is asking for the rockets now because it has been unable to suppress Hezbollah's Katyusha rocket attacks in the month-old conflict by using bombs dropped from aircraft and other types of artillery, the officials said.

According to the paper, the request for M-26 artillery rockets, which are fired in barrages and carry hundreds of grenade-like bomblets that scatter and explode over a broad area, is likely to be approved shortly, along with other arms.

But the Times reports that some State Department officials "have sought to delay the approval because of concerns over the likelihood of civilian casualties, and the diplomatic repercussions." The rockets, the officials told the Times, are fired by the dozen and could be expected to cause civilian casualties if used against targets in populated areas. ...

That darned State Department...! Next thing you know they'll be whingeing about Israeli rockets taking out U.N. convoys and killing aid workers!! Soft hearted bastards...

Tags: , , , Politics, Israel, Terrorism, War, News, Lebanon

posted by JReid @ 9:21 AM  
Friday, August 11, 2006
Just so we're clear...
Governor Mark Warner responds to the Cheneyite/Rovian talking points on the Lieberman rejection and its ramifications for the Global War on Terror:
I congratulate Ned Lamont on a great grassroots campaign, and wish him success in November. I and our PAC, Forward Together, will be supporting the Lamont campaign. Connecticut Democrats are mirroring the frustrations most Americans feel with this President’s failed foreign policy and mishandled war. I also commend Senator Lieberman for his remarkable record of public service.

Republican wishful thinking notwithstanding, Tuesday’s vote was anything but a Democratic party repudiation of a robust and determined defense of this nation’s security. To the contrary, it is a call for a return to an American foreign policy that unites our friends and divides our enemies—and a call that will inevitably sweep through November’s elections.

But just in case we don't return to such a policy, you'd better "Give the Republican National Committee $500 or Terrorists Will Attack You":
Today, President Bush faces a similar challenge. In the middle of a war on terror, we need to remain focused on furthering Republican ideas more than ever before. We can't turn back now. [...]

That's why I am emailing to ask you for a favor: will you click here to make a contribution of $500, $250, $100, $50, $35 or $25 to show your strong commitment to our Party and our principles?
Oh rudy, you're so very subtle.

Wouldn't he make a simply dreamy president, Chris Matthews??? (blink blink blink...)

More Kos: Congressional Repubs in trouble, c/o Congressional Quarterly. The Conservative Voice concurs:
An Associated Press-Ipsos poll conducted this week found the president's approval rating has dropped to 33 percent, matching his low in May. His handling of nearly every issue, from the Iraq war to foreign policy, contributed to the president's decline around the nation, even in the Republican-friendly South.

More sobering for the GOP are the number of voters who backed Bush in 2004 who are ready to vote Democratic in the fall's congressional elections – 19 percent. These one-time Bush voters are more likely to be female, self-described moderates, low- to middle-income and from the Northeast and Midwest.

Two years after giving the Republican president another term, more than half of these voters – 57 percent – disapprove of the job Bush is doing.

"The signs now point to the most likely outcome of Democrats gaining control of the House," said Robert Erikson, a Columbia University political science professor.

Democrats need to gain 15 seats in the House to seize control after a dozen years of Republican rule, and the party is optimistic about its chances amid diminishing support for Bush and the GOP-led Congress.

...Oh, and don't mess with Kos on the Internet hacking shizznit. Homie don't play that Joe ...! with your cheap old servers...

Tags: , , Senate, Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont, Politics, 2006, Lieberman, Lamont, , , ,
posted by JReid @ 9:47 AM  
When the going get's tough, the tough go on vacation

This might be the headline of the day, from the Australian:

Blair to work on tan and Lebanon solution

Ha! Don't worry Tony, Dubya's on a fundraising working vacation too. Besides, nobody really cares what you think anyway.

Meanwhile, back at the U.N.:

Agreement? Oui or Non? The IDF doesn't like the terms. The fighting rages on... and as for Hezbollah? They say "tails! We Win!!!" (Pictures courtesy of Labor.org.uk and BettyBowers.com and do not represent the curren vacation practices of the U.S. president or the British prime minister. Both are working tremendously hard and building up massive amounts of sweat equity during their actual summertime sojourns ... allegedly...)

Tags: , , , Politics, Israel, Terrorism, War, News, Lebanon

posted by JReid @ 8:20 AM  
It's 'Hate us for our freedom' Friday!
If it's Friday, there must be terrorists plotting to bomb our freedoms!

This time, the British have learned that Saddam Hussein has sought large quantities of uranium from Afri... oh, sorry, wrong talking points. WE'RE AT WAR AND THE TERRORISTS ARE COMING TO GET US!!! Two contrasting versions of events, first, from NBC News:

LONDON - British officials identified 19 of the suspects accused of plotting to blow up U.S.-bound aircraft on Friday, making public a list of names that fueled suspicions of a Pakistan connection. Travelers at Britain’s airports again struggled with increased security, and dozens more flights were canceled.

Five Pakistanis have been arrested in Pakistan as suspected “facilitators” of the plot, a government official said, in addition to two Britons arrested there about a week ago.

Officials told NBC News that the alleged mastermind of the plot is still in Pakistan and has yet to be captured.

The Bank of England said it had frozen the accounts of 19 people arrested on Thursday. The men, ranging in age from 17 to 35, were said to be British Muslims, and neighbors said at least two of those arrested were converts to Islam.

Investigators, describing a plot on the scale of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, said the attackers planned to use common electronic devices to detonate liquid explosives to bring down as many as 10 planes.

The bombs were to be assembled on the aircraft apparently with peroxide-based solution and everyday carry-on items such as a disposable camera or a music player, two American law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Britain asked that no information be released.

A federal law enforcement official in Washington said that at least one martyrdom tape was found during raids across England on Thursday. Such a tape, as well as the scheme to strike a range of targets at roughly the same time, is an earmark of al-Qaida.
And now, the take from the reality based community, represented this day by one of those derned Frenchmen, Olivier Knox of Agence France Presse (hat tip to AmericaBlog):

US President George W. Bush seized on a foiled London airline bomb plot to hammer unnamed critics he accused of having all but forgotten the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Weighed down by the unpopular war in Iraq, Bush and his aides have tried to shift the national political debate from that conflict to the broader and more popular global war on terrorism ahead of November 7 congressional elections....

His remarks came a day after the White House orchestrated an exceptionally aggressive campaign to tar opposition Democrats as weak on terrorism, knowing what Democrats didn't: News of the plot could soon break....

Bush aides on Thursday fought the notion that they had exploited their knowledge of the coming British raid to hit Democrats, saying the trigger had been the defeat of Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut by an anti-war political novice....

Snow said Bush first learned in detail about the plot on Friday, and received two detailed briefings on it on Saturday and Sunday, as well as had two conversations about it with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

But a senior White House official said that the British government had not launched its raid until well after Cheney held a highly unusual conference call with reporters to attack the Democrats as weak against terrorism....

On Wednesday, Cheney had suggested that Democrats believe "that somehow we can retreat behind our oceans and not be actively engaged in this conflict and be safe here at home, which clearly we know we won't, we can't, be," he said.

While some Democrats have opposed some steps in the war on terrorism, and more and more are calling for a withdrawal from Iraq, no major figures in the party have called for a wholesale retreat in the broader conflict.

But Bush's Republicans hoped the raid would yield political gains....

"Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big," said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won't "look as appealing" under the circumstances.
Care for more?

Karl Rove's good fried Joe Lieberman has this take on the hellfire crescendo of terror nastiness in Iraq -- the "central front of the war on terra" (hm, thought that was Pakistan? Oh well, go Joe!)

“If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England,” Mr. Lieberman said at a campaign event at lunchtime in Waterbury, Conn. “It will strengthen them and they will strike again.”
Sounds like Rove gave Joe-Joe a few talking points to work with. ...

Quick! Somebody call out the National Guard!!! The terror plot has been foiled, and therefore THEY'RE COMING TO GET US VIA OUR BEVERAGES!!!

Mass. Gov. Romney activates National Guard at Boston Airport... Schwarzenegger deploys too...

Whew! Thank God they're on top of it!

Hey Prez, hit that "hate us for our freedoms" thing real quick for me:
"The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation. ..."
Aaahhh ... that's always so refreshing ... I mean don't you just love it when ...

Ack!! They're going after New Dehli!!!

Save us, Dick! What say you?
"The thing that's partly disturbing about [Lieberman's loss] is the fact that," Cheney told reporters from Jackson, Wyoming, "our adversaries, if you will, in this conflict, and the al Qaeda types--they clearly are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task."
... Ah yes. And what about you, Tom Delay? You've got nothing better to do, so why don't you comment:
DELAY: They don’t want to fight this war on terrorism. If they did, Bill Clinton would have led us into the war on terrorism and against Islamic fanatics. Their world view is, “Can’t we all get along? Surely we can talk our way out of this.” And so when we are attacked, their first reaction is to recoil, and say, “This is really horrible. It’s too harsh and you can’t go after these wonderful people that just killed a bunch of Americans. You’ve got to just find a leader here or there, put him in jail,” instead of understanding, as the President understands, that we are at war. We are at war all over the world and you have to go get these terrorists and either put them in a cell or a cemetery. That’s all they know. And we have to do it with overwhelming force. That’s something that i criticize the administration for right now.

CAVUTO: Yeah.

DELAY: You want to get rid of the insurgents in Iraq? Overwhelming force. Israel shouldn’t just let a few troops into Lebanon every now and then. They ought to call up the entire army and have overwhelming force in Lebanon.
Oh, that Cavuto. He's an articulate bastard, isn't he? I mean he just ... ACK!!! EGYPTIAN STUDENTS ARE RUNNING LOOSE IN THE U.S.!!!

(sigh...) Ohmigod this war on terror thing is exhausting. I can't wait till the election is over so the GOP will make it stop. ...

Tags: , Politics, Iraq, War, News, Middle East, Current Affairs, Military, Bush,
posted by JReid @ 6:40 AM  
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Name that disaster date
Quick! What year did the September 11 terror attacks take place? A third of Americans have no freaking idea...
posted by JReid @ 12:07 AM  
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
The deep breath before the plunge?
Is the stepped up Israeli war on Lebanon on or off? From Reuters tonight:
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert put plans for an expanded Lebanon offensive on hold on Thursday to give a chance for U.S.-led efforts to form a peacekeeper force that could curb Hizbollah, a newspaper said.

Israel's Maariv daily said the suspension decision was made after midnight, hours after Olmert's security cabinet decided to deepen an already four-week-old assault on Hizbollah positions in southern Lebanon.
So... what gives?

Are continuing troop losses spooking Mr. Olmert? The fact is, the furious campaign, for all its destruction and killing, has yet to achieve its fundamental aims, to the point where according to Israeli analysts, the IDF is still not in control of the border with Lebanon.

Or is Olmert bending under the continuing barrage of negative world opinion, which was hardly curbed by Israeli carping at Kori Annan and the BBC, or by Dan Gillerman's sanctimonious performance at the U.N. on Tuesday, in which he scolded the Lebanese Ambassador, Mr. Mitra, on the Lebanese people's "moment of decision," in which they must choose to side with "those who destroy, and those who build..." the irony apparently lost on Gillerman that it is Israel that is destroying Lebanon's infrastructure at the moment. (In my opinion, Mr. Mitra check mated Gillerman after the latter tried the "our country's flags, containing the cedar and the star of David, represent our shared history..."(apparently excluding the 18 years of occupation...) "in the Bible, the King of Tyre sent cedar trees to Solomon, son of David, to build the temple in the city of peace, Jerusalem [paraphrasing]... let us return to that history of building together."

Mitra's response: (paraphrased)"it pains me to hear about the city of Tyre today ... a city which today is besieged. The king of Tyre sent cedars to Jerusalem to build ... but Israel is destroying Tyre today. Israel's war against terrorism ... and its desire to eliminate the terrorist infrastructure, as we have heard ... is being experienced by the people of Lebanon as pure horror. And so it pains me to hear of the city of Tyre today."

Gillerman then scolded Mitra again, for not mentioning Hezbollah in his response.

I think, however, that Dr. Mitra, formerly of the Harvard Divinity School and an expert in Arab-Christian history, got the better of Mr. Gillerman.)

Somehow I think the Reuters scooplet will be short-lived, and that the carnage will continue apace tomorrow, even as America's Mr. Moustache continues to block all attempts to turn the guns off. And I'm not sure how much I buy the tales of Condi's angst, either.

Tags: Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East
posted by JReid @ 11:38 PM  
Dog day afternoon
What is MTV2? Basically it's all the crap that MTV can't put on its main channel, either because it is too raunchy, too undeveloped, or contains too many music videos or performances to fit in on what has become essentially a reality show channel with lots of gay and straight sexual hookups.

MTV2 is also targeted at a younger audience: 14-year-old boys. And guess what the boys are tuning in to Saturdays at 12:30?

Media watchdogs are barking over an MTV cartoon that portrays a Snoop Dogg-like character leading two women around on leashes - before scooping up their poop.
The new MTV2 animated series "Where My Dogs At?" satirizes such Hollywood stars as Michael Jackson, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.

But industry pros are incensed over the portrayal of women and blacks in episode four. The half-hour episode, "Woofie Loves Snoop," debuted last month - and until it was removed yesterday, the offending clip was just a click away on MTV.com.

"Seinfeld"'s Jason Alexander voices Snoopathon Esquire III, who struts out of his Caddy with Parkay and Marjorie, two bikini-clad black women wearing dog collars and leashes.

The rap star orders one to "hand me my latte" as she squats on all fours and scratches herself like a canine.

At the end of the scene, Snoop dons a plastic glove and picks up his enslaved ladies' defecation.

"This only serves to reinforce negative images of women, conveying to kids on a Saturday afternoon that all women are bitches and hos," said Paul Porter, founder of IndustryEars.com, a watchdog group.

"In my 10 years of monitoring children's programming, I've never seen anything this offensive."
We had Paul Porter on the radio show this morning, and he made the good point that this kind of broadcasting is a choice by MTV (and it's African-American president, Christina Norman, whom Porter calls a figurehead for the real president, CEO/President of MTV Networks, Judy McGrath. Broadcasters don't have to put this crap on the air, they choose to, because they know that 14-year-old boys will love it (the online page for the show is sponsored by ... wait for it ... an energy drink.)

But should we tolerate this crap? At what point will Black women say "enough?" At what point will anyone with good sense take the initiative to begin turning our culture around?

MTV certainly has the right to put anything it chooses on its airwaves. And if that's what people want to watch (or will allow their teenagers to watch), that's their right, too. I'm totally against censorship. But, we also have the right to tell them that what they're putting on is crap, and to tell the advertisers the same thing by shunning their crappy products. Want to comment to MTV? Here are the addresses:

Christina Norman, President MTV: Christina.Norman@mtv.com
Judy McGrath, CEO and President, MTV Networks: judy.mcgrath@mtv.com
Billy Dexter, Chief Diversity Officer: billy.dexter@mtvstaff.com

Tags: , ,
posted by JReid @ 7:49 AM  
Gloateration
The gloating has begun among the netroots, who finally scored a victory with the ouster (from the Democratic ticket, not the Connecticut Senate race) of Joe Lieberman (now an "independent Democrat ... which apparently is Connecticut-ese for "too old to look for a new career.")

The KosFolk are positively gleeful, and today, Maxine Waters, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Markos Moulitsas and other members of the Democratic left look pretty smart today. Kos counts down his version of winners and losers:


Losers:

The DLC (and the New Republic, as well). Not only did they lose the first fully contested primary between a DLC candidate and a people-powered candidate in the Montana Senate primary, but they saw their patron saint go down in defeat last night. And this wasn't just any defeat, this was the triumph of a rag-tag band of rebels against everything the DC Democratic establishment could throw at us -- President Clinton, Barbara Boxer, NARAL, and so on. That's 0-2 in these contests for the DLC this cycle.

Seeing Al From's oldest nemesis, Jesse Jackson, behind Lamont tonight must've driven him insane. That brings a smile to my face.

Losers:

Lobbyists. They've paid good money to buy Joe Lieberman. How do you buy a guy that doesn't need money? That isn't willing to be corrupted by their strings-attached cash?

Winners

Democracy and the people of Connecticut. I haven't seen the final turnout numbers, but if they are around 50 percent, that's incredible. Maybe three percent turned out for the Virginia Democratic Senate primaries.

Losers

Every Connecticut newspaper which endorsed Lieberman. Memo from the people of Connecticut -- they didn't care.

Winner

Maxine Waters. Damn that woman busted her butt for Lamont, and she did so with class and flair.

Loser

Chris Dodd. Lieberman's staunchest defender can still redeem himself if he brokers Lieberman's exit from the race.

Winners

Hillary, Bayh, and Edwards, who moved most aggressively to embrace Lamont after the winner was called.

Losers

The DC beltway consultancies. Boy, they went up against an all-star team of out-of-DC consultants and got their asses handed to them. Tom Swan ran circles around the Lieberman brain trust, Bill Hillsman made the best ads of the cycle, ran far fewer than Lieberman's ad people did, and clearly had a bigger impact. Tim Tagaris, who I'm proud is a fellow Chicagoan, has shown us again how our 50-state-strategy can have unexpected benefits. While the 2004 campaign of Jeff Seemann fizzled, the campaign gave us Tim. And he tore it up in the Paul Hackett special election, and tore it up again in Connecticut. He's the best netroots coordinator in the biz and we might not have him had it not been for the 2004 Kos Dozen.

Meanwhile, the DC crowd led a popular 18-year-incumbent to defeat. Is it any wonder Republicans have been kicking our ass?

Winner

ctkeith, who was the crazy guy telling anyone who would listen that Lieberman was vulnerable. He tried, so, so hard to get Attorney General Richard Blumenthal into the race. I bet Blumenthal wishes he'd done it now. ctkeith was the genius/crazy guy behind the kiss buttons and DumpJoe.com, which was sort of forgotten as the Connecticut blogosphere (another bunch of winners) rose and took center stage.

Losers

Republicans. They're going to do some silly press conference on Wednesday claiming the Democratic Party is held in thrall by craaaazy people who agree with, um, 2/3rds of the American people on Iraq. If they want to make a big deal and remind people they have no exit strategy for Iraq, then by all means, therein lies the path to bizarro 1994.

If they really thought Lieberman losing was such a bad thing for the Democratic Party they wouldn't have gone out of their way to prop him up. Instead, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, the wingnutosphere, several Republican congresscritters, and the GOP's Big Money all rallied around their man. This is not a happy day for them.

Winners

Democrats. Did you see Rahm (Emmanuel) out of the gate tonight?
"This shows what blind loyalty to George Bush and being his love child means," said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the leader of the Democratic House Congressional campaign. "This is not about the war. It's blind loyalty to Bush."
Ouch. But the real pain for Lieberman may not be in the gloating (or the supposed illegal hacking ... cue the FBI) ... it may be in the abandonment by fellow Senators.

Already, according to the Hotline, HillPAC has already sent a check, former Senator John Edwards was the first to call Lamont, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer are on board with the Lamont campaign, and the existential questions are beginning to bubble...


The fall out:

-- when was the last time in a non-redistricting midterm that 3+ incumbent members of Congress have lost in primaries. ('94?)

-- how much pressure will Cong. Dem leaders feel when it comes to becoming a bit more strident re: Iraq?

-- Will Republicans simply support a Lieberman indie bid or will they show some life and start floating a Rob Simmons or Nancy Johnson SEN candidacy? Just floating the idea will make Dems nervous; a confident GOP in cycles past would already be spinning their brainwaves on this scenario.

-- There was a sneak preview of that OTHER senate primary which takes place NEXT month in Rhode Island (see MI 07 GOP primary). The news isn't good for Chafee.

-- Club for Growth meet MoveOn... MoveOn, meet Club for Growth. A good night for both.

-- A boon for DNC fundraising?

-- Recriminations. If Lieberman had made his "final argument" throughout the campaign -- emphasizing his Democratic credentials and his 18 years of service, he might have won. Lieberman folks take comfort at the close margin; they think that if Lieberman had one more week to campaign, he might have pulled it off. Maybe.
The KosKids may be a litle over-exuberant:

This is a party with purpose. United on the war (under the call for withdrawal from Iraq), fueled by record fundraising and shockingly good poll numbers, and operating in the best political climate for the opposition since 1994, Dems are poised to make killer gains this fall. And without Lieberman in the caucus to undermine it from within, unity and commonality of purpose is now on the table.

... and they are probably overstating the bubbliness of the prospects of Congressional Dems in November, but I think that last night cannot be spun as a win for Republicans, no matter what RedState says, mainly because the more people like them (the same GOers who used to refer to Holy Joe as one half of the "Sore Loserman" ticket...) support Lieberman, the more Democrats will abandon him.

Previous:

Tags: , , Senate, Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont, Politics, 2006, Lieberman, Lamont,

posted by JReid @ 6:51 AM  
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Children of a lesser God?
From Free Market News, care of Antiwar.com, dated August 4th:
Last Wednesday at the Rome Summit, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora reportedly asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, "Are we children of a lesser God? Is an Israeli teardrop worth more than a drop of Lebanese blood?"
By the way, Israeli leaders do not appear to be moved by Lebanon's tears, despite their protestations that they have no quarrel with the people of that devastated country.
Today, the Lebanese hospital crisis is worsening. The Independent counts the death toll:

... 29 Lebanese Army soldiers have been killed. 3,293 Lebanese have been wounded. 45 per cent of the casualties have been children. 913,000 Lebanese have been displaced (300,000 of whom are children). 94 Israelis have been killed and 1,867 wounded.

10,000 Israeli soldiers are currently fighting Hizbollah in southern Lebanon. 3,000 rockets have been fired at Israel by Hizbollah. The average number of rockets fired daily by Hizbollah in the first week of the conflict was 90. Over the past five days, it has been 169.

Israel has flown 8,700 bombing sorties, destroying 146 bridges and 72 roads. Damage caused to Lebanon's infrastructure is estimated at $2bn. Up to 30,000 tons of oil have spilled into the Mediterranean since an Israeli air strike on Jieh power station.

The international community (apart from Britain and the US) has called for an immediate ceasefire. As yet, the number of UN resolutions: 0.

Too bad you can't restart Beirut's power plants with the West's crocodile tears...

Oh, and in case you've forgotten, disposable Iraqis continue to die, too. Well, you know, "civil war this, civil war that..."

Meanwhile, Kofi Annan suggests Israel's raid on Qana may have violated international law... (yeah, Kofi, like the Israelis listen to you...) Meanwhile, Israel is shunning the word "evacuees":
The government is offering some 17,000 residents of border towns to leave for several days, Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon said Tuesday.

In making the announcement, Maimon avoided the word "evacuation," saying instead that the residents were offered to leave the war zone for several days of recuperation. The government will pay for the stay of those leaving the border area.
And Israel has released a photo of two men it says are Hezbollah guerillas it captured during one of its recent raids into Lebanon.

Links:

Tags: Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East

posted by JReid @ 8:47 AM  
The Hajj distraction
Right wing bloggers have been having a field day with the story of a now fired Reuters photographer, Adnan Hajj, who was caught photoshopping a pair of photos to enhance the images of smoke rising from the city of Beirut. Thinking they've seized upon another "Rathergate", the apologists for the neocon worldview are gleefully touting Hajj as an example of how the "liberal media" is distorting the war, ignoring this "important story," and siding with the "terrorists" against poor, defenseless Israel.

But no matter how the righties try, try, and try again, they can't get this to be a story beyond Fox News and their own corner of the blogosphere (a big corner, since they've pushed "Adnan Hajj" to the top of Technorati). The reason? Because the real pictures coming out of Lebanon are more compelling than the extra puffs of smoke in Hajj's two shots, or another useless blogburst about the "liberal media".


More photos here, from the BBC.

Tags: Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Reuters,

posted by JReid @ 7:36 AM  
The axis of futility
Arab objections are delaying a proposed U.S.-French compromise resolution at the U.N. over the Israeli-Lebanese crisis. Essentially, America's chief "diplomat" -- who in many ways is also acting as Israel's chief diplomat (though the lack of phone contact between his boss, the president, and Israeli P.M. Ehud Olmert is meant to convey a non-parochial relationship)... brokered a deal that would allow Israel's IDF to occupy southern Lebanon until such time as the French could send in a sufficient force to a) push Hezbollah well behind the Blue line b) stand blythely by as Hezbollah moves its rocket launchers around c) share recipes for crepe suzette with Hezbollah officials.

Well the idea of allowing even a moment of Israeli occupation in Lebanon -- which it occupied for 18 years up until 2000 -- isn't flying with Lebanon, and it isn't flying with the Arab League. From the New Zealand Herald:
UNITED NATIONS - Facing sharp Arab criticism, the United States and France on Monday worked on changes to a draft UN resolution to end the Israeli-Hizbollah conflict, with a vote likely to be delayed until at least Wednesday.

US Ambassador John Bolton told reporters after a session with his French counterpart, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, "We're still talking about possible changes we can make based on developments in Lebanon today."

De la Sabliere said, "I am going to work today to improve the text. We have to take into account the concerns of all." Lebanon wants the document to call for a quick withdrawal of Israeli troops.

Beirut's acting foreign minister, Tareq Mitri, briefed UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Lebanese cabinet decision to send 15,000 troops into the South.

Mitri told reporters the move, combined with an end to the fighting and the start of an Israeli withdrawal, "would enable the Lebanese army, after so many years, to be able to exercise both its duty and its responsibility in extending the authority of the government of Lebanon over its national territory."

Bolton said he thought the Beirut government's decision to deploy troops in the South was a positive development.

Ghanaian Ambassador Nana Effah-Apenteng, the current Security Council president, said the 15-member body would hold a meeting on Tuesday with Arab League representatives traveling to the United Nations to press for amendments. The session makes it unlikely the council will vote before Wednesday.
And from the BBC:
Israel launched about 80 air strikes against Lebanon overnight, as diplomats at the UN consider possible changes to a draft resolution to end the fighting.
More than 40 Hezbollah buildings were targeted after the militant group fired more than 140 rockets on Israel.

At least 15 people were reported killed when a predominantly Shia area of Beirut was hit late on Monday.

Meanwhile an Israeli soldier died in clashes with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, the Israeli military said.

Lebanon has told army reservists to report for duty after the cabinet decided to send 15,000 soldiers to the southern border area once the Israelis pull out.

Cabinet ministers who are members of Hezbollah or loyal to the group have given their backing to the government plan.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described the plan as an "interesting step" and said his government would study it.

He told a news conference that such a move had to be accompanied by the disarming of Hezbollah guerrillas.
Another patented U.N. recipe for inaction. ... and dispair:
The UN security council will almost certainly adopt a ceasefire resolution this week, in spite of objections from Lebanon and others in the Arab world. But diplomats and analysts were united in despair yesterday, expressing doubts that the resolution could stop the fighting.

"It does not look good," one European diplomat said. "There is nobody interested in stopping now. Hizbullah has no reason to stop. The discrepancy between what is being discussed at the diplomatic table and what is happening on the ground is terrible."

They fear the draft resolution may have come too late. There is concern it is too weighted towards Israel and risks destabilising Lebanon's moderate government.
Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said on Sunday that once there was a resolution in place, it would be clear who was interested in peace and who was not. The assumption behind her words was that Israel would obey the ceasefire call and Hizbullah might not.

But the reality may be that neither side will obey a ceasefire call. The draft resolution would allow Israel to continue "defensive" operations against Hizbullah and for its forces to remain in southern Lebanon. It is doubtful if Israel could, at this stage, accept a ceasefire when Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, has so little to show for almost four weeks of fighting.

Hizbullah could welcome a ceasefire and declare itself victorious, having stood up to the Israelis longer than any Arab army. But the group has said it would not accept any deal that leaves Israel occupying southern Lebanon.

There are face-saving measures available for both sides. If Israel were to secure the release of the two soldiers held by Hizbullah, that would help Mr Olmert persuade the Israeli public the war was justified. If Israel was to hand over Sheba'a Farms, a pocket of land it held after its withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, Hizbullah could claim a symbolic victory. But a deal on either is not in the draft resolution.
Meanwhile, why is Tony Blair still talking?

Tags: Israel, Middle East, Hezbollah, Syria, War, Iran,
posted by JReid @ 7:06 AM  
The Armageddon meter
How's the Rapture Index looking today? Seems the conflagration in the Middle East is bringing out the Christian crazies...

Tags: , Religion, Satan, Politics, Left Behind, Christian, Christianity, News, Humor, Bible, ,
posted by JReid @ 6:58 AM  
Gruesome details
The Guardian has the disturbing details of the case against a group of American GIs accused of raping and murdering a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and also killing her family. Read it if you have the stomach for it.

Tags: , Bush, War, News, War On Terror, Military, Middle East
posted by JReid @ 6:52 AM  
Monday, August 07, 2006
Apres le ceasefire, la deluge
Mr. Moustache communes with the French and produces a U.N. ceasefire resolution (known in Lebanon, simply as merde...)
The resolution would chart a path toward a lasting peace with a cease-fire monitored by international troops. If passed, it would be the most significant international response to the crisis and raise hopes of ending combat that has killed at least 600 and left Lebanon in tatters.

The resolution must now go before the full 15-nation Security Council and gain Israeli and Lebanese acceptance — and initial reaction from both sides indicated that would not be easy.

Hezbollah warned it will not abide by the resolution unless Israel withdraws from Lebanon entirely and indicated the lack of a timetable for such a withdrawal was perhaps the biggest sticking point with the text.

"We will abide by it on condition that no Israeli soldier remains inside Lebanese land. If they stay, we will not abide by it," said Mohammed Fneish, one of two Hezbollah Cabinet ministers in the Lebanese government.

In Israel, Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog said the agreement was an "important development," but Israel would not halt its assault on Hezbollah for the time being. Still, he appeared to acknowledge the draft meant Israel's offensive would have to wind down soon.

The text of the resolution can be found here. It reads in part:
PP2. Expressing its utmost concern at the continuing escalation of hostilities in Lebanon and in Israel since Hizbollah's attack on Israel on 12 July 2006, which has already caused hundreds of deaths and injuries on both sides, extensive damage to civilian infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons,

PP3. Emphasizing the need for an end of violence, but at the same time emphasizing the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers,

PP4: Mindful of the sensitivity of the issue of prisoners and encouraging the efforts aimed at settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel,

OP1. Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;

OP2. Reiterates its strong support for full respect for the Blue Line;

OP3. Also reiterates its strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized borders, as contemplated by the Israeli-Lebanese General Armistice Agreement of 23 March 1949;

OP4. Calls on the international community to take immediate steps to extend its financial and humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people, including through facilitating the safe return of displaced persons and, under the authority of the Government of Lebanon, reopening airports and harbours for verifiably and purely civilian purposes, and calls on it also to consider further assistance in the future to contribute to the reconstruction and development of Lebanon;

OP5. Emphasizes the importance of the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1559 (2004) and resolution 1680 (2006), and of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, for it to exercise its full sovereignty and authority;

OP6. Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements: ...
Emphasis on "offensive" (for Israel) and "territorial integrity" for Lebanon.

Think this will work out? More of the res by the oh-so-strong U.N. It calls for:
- full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006) that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of July 27, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state;

- deployment of an international force in Lebanon, consistent with paragraph 10 below;

- establishment of an international embargo on the sale or supply of arms and related material to Lebanon except as authorized by its government;

- elimination of foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government;

- provision to the United Nations of remaining maps of land mines in Lebanon in Israel's possession;
Meanwhile, the "cessation of violence" sure seems a long way off...

From the Guardian, Jonathan Chait sums up the Israeli conundrum:
... Let's face it, Israel's counter offensive in Lebanon doesn't seem to be going very well. Liberals are saying it. Conservatives are saying it. Plenty of Israelis are saying it. But here is the odd thing: nobody is paying very careful attention to the alternative. The criticism of Israel's ground campaign - however sound much of it may be - takes place against an assumption that peace could be at hand if only Israel stopped fighting.

Let's examine that idea. The United Nations types argue that Israel should withdraw from Lebanon and cease its airstrikes and that an international force should patrol southern Lebanon. But every country that could contribute to such a force has insisted they don't want to fight Hizbullah. Kofi Annan has said that a "cardinal principle" of any peacekeeping force would be obtaining Lebanon's consent. And neither Hizbullah nor the Lebanese government has evinced any willingness to remove Hizbullah's forces from southern Lebanon.

From the doves there is a persistent disconnect between the goals they desire and the means to achieve them. Here is what former President Carter wrote in a recent Washington Post op-ed article: "The urgent need in Lebanon is that Israeli attacks stop, the nation's regular military forces control the southern region, Hizbullah cease as a separate fighting force, and future attacks against Israel be prevented."

The passive voice in this last clause - "attacks be prevented" - is telling. Who is going to prevent them? Israel went into Lebanon because nobody else had the desire or the inclination.

So the doves' implied solution is that Israel withdraws from Lebanon and stops bombing, and that Hizbullah goes on its way. This is why they've pointed out that not many Israelis have died from rocket attacks since 2000.

But the death toll doesn't quite capture the damage wrought by Hizbullah. The purpose of the missile attacks is to force Israelis to live under a constant threat - missile attacks or cross-border raids that, while sporadic, can occur at any time. No nation would consider that condition acceptable. And even if Israel learns to take periodic attacks from Hizbullah with good cheer, there's no guarantee that the attacks won't get worse. After all, Hizbullah is acquiring newer, more powerful rockets from Iran.

So, what can Israel do? The conventional wisdom holds that any military action is counterproductive. The doves point out that the Israeli counteroffensive has boosted Hizbullah's standing in the Arab world.

Well, sure. But Hizbullah's prestige was also boosted by Israel's 2000 withdrawal from Lebanon. If aggressive Israeli actions boost Hizbullah, and conciliatory Israeli actions boost Hizbullah, then maybe Israel's actions aren't really the prime mover here. Maybe Hizbullah has figured out that it can become the champion of the Arab world by putting itself forward as Israel's chief antagonist, and it will continue to do so regardless of how Israel responds.

The doves are right that any solution that involves attacking innocent civilians is a terrible one. It's heartbreaking to see houses flattened and children killed. But when you have a nation populated in part by murderous religious fanatics who delight in killing enemy civilians and see the deaths of their own civilians as a strategic boon, any option is going to be terrible. ...
As one of those "doves" (but decidedly not a U.N. type, the U.N. being a worthless hunk of prattling junk... I understand Israel's dillemma, but I also believe that their present strategy -- flatten Lebanon, darken the lighthouses, smash the infrastructure, cut the power, terrorize the Maronites and bulldoze the apartments of the "human shields" isn't working either -- it's crippling Lebanon, turning it into a fresh enemy, it's decimating the U.S. reputation in the region (which I care about far more than I care about Israel -- a foreign country, after all -- and it's making Hezbollah more, not less powerful.

We had Rev. Joseph Watkins on the radio this morning (he worked for the first President Bush and is a staunch supporter of the current administration). He argued that Hezbollah must be stopped because they want to wipe out Israel. My point to him was that we all know, and Hezbollah knows, that a 15,000-man militia cannot possibly accomplish that. And Hezbollah is a political party with seats in the Lebanese parliament. So even if they have some sick existential dream of eradicating the Jewish state, what to do about that? Drop a nuke on their place of residence? Well that would be Lebanon. Is that the answer? Decimating Lebanon won't get rid of Hezbollah any more than lobbing Katushia rockets will get rid of Israel. We are, my friends, at an impasse.

Which is where the U.N. is supposed to come in.

Which is why both sides are now hoping for a Hail Mary from the French.

Tags: Israel, Middle East, Hezbollah, Syria, War, Iran,
posted by JReid @ 9:22 AM  
No-mentum
He thinks Iraq is better ... yet worse ...

He's falling behind in the polls ...

... Cokie Roberts thinks he's no more bullish on the war than other Democrats (note to self, she's losing her grip on reality, Rumsfeld style...)

... and Lannie Davis is dunking him in rhetorical pudding...

But all Joe Lieberman really wants is (no, not better makeup...) he wants to keep his job.

Tuesday will tell whether or not he will, or whether the Iraq war will turn this "90 percent" Democrat into a primary result-shunning Independent (or into the new Zell Miller...)

As for me, I wish we lived in a time when you could challenge a man to a duel. ...

Tags: , , Senate, Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont, Politics, 2006, Lieberman, Lamont,
posted by JReid @ 6:55 AM  
Say what?
A new Harris Poll has some disturbing news about the state of misinformation in America:
Did Saddam Hussein's government have weapons of mass destruction in 2003?
Half of America apparently still thinks so, a new poll finds, and experts see a raft of reasons why: a drumbeat of voices from talk radio to die-hard bloggers to the Oval Office, a surprise headline here or there, a rallying around a partisan flag, and a growing need for people to justify the war in Iraq.

People tend to become ''independent of reality'' in these circumstances, says opinion analyst Steven Kull.

The reality is that after a 16-month, $900-million-plus investigation, the U.S. weapons hunters known as the Iraq Survey Group declared that Iraq had dismantled its chemical, biological and nuclear-arms programs in 1991 under U.N. oversight. That finding in 2004 reaffirmed the work of U.N. inspectors who in 2002-03 found no trace of banned arsenals in Iraq.

Despite this, a Harris Poll released July 21 found that a full 50 percent of U.S. respondents -- up from 36 percent last year -- said they believe Iraq did have the forbidden arms when U.S. troops invaded in March 2003, an attack whose stated purpose was elimination of WMD.

''I'm flabbergasted,'' said Michael Massing, a media critic whose writings dissected the largely unquestioning U.S. news reporting on the Bush administration's shaky WMD claims in 2002-03.

''This finding just has to cause despair among those of us who hope for an informed public able to draw reasonable conclusions based on evidence,'' Massing said.
So what da hell?
Timing may explain some of the poll result. Two weeks before the survey, two Republican lawmakers, Pennsylvania's Sen. Rick Santorum and Michigan's Rep. Peter Hoekstra, released an intelligence report in Washington saying 500 chemical munitions had been collected in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

''I think the Harris Poll was measuring people's surprise at hearing this after being told for so long there were no WMD in the country,'' said Hoekstra spokesman Jamal Ware.

But the Pentagon and outside experts stressed that these abandoned shells were 15 years old or more, their chemical contents were degraded, and they were unusable as artillery ordnance. Since the 1990s, such ''orphan'' munitions have turned up on old battlefields and elsewhere in Iraq, ex-inspectors say. In other words, this was no surprise.

''These are not stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction,'' said Scott Ritter, the ex-Marine who was a U.N. inspector in the 1990s. ``They weren't deliberately withheld from inspectors by the Iraqis.''
Thanks, Santorum. But it can't be that simple. Americans have had plenty of evidence put before them that should make it clear to most sentient beings that ... wait for it ... there are not now, nor have there been for many years, weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. This despite the persistence of right wingers in believing that there are (and that they were spirited away to Syria in the dead of night).

Wake up, people! Lay off the Fox News!!! There are no WMD in Iraq, K? Not there. Don't exist. Nada. Nienti. Rien! Get over it!!! (sigh)

Tags: Bush, Iraq,
posted by JReid @ 6:05 AM  
Friday, August 04, 2006
Friday deathwatch
Professor Juan Cole posts a link-rich Friday blog entry on the ongoing carnage in Lebanon. A clip:

Hasan Nasrallah issued a videotape on Thursday in which he threatened to send rockets on Tel Aviv if the Israelis bombed Beirut again.

I saw the speech on satellite in Arabic Nasrallah also appealed to the Muslim masses over the heads of their rulers. And, he told the Arab leaders that they are not going to be able to keep their positions in America's "New Middle East." They will be overthrown, he said, and their countries will be reduced to chaos and split up into small postage stamp countries. (He appeared to be reasoning on the basis of what the US has done to Iraq). ...

...Israeli television quoted a high Israeli military official saying in response that if Tel Aviv is hit, all of Lebanese infrastructure will be destroyed. AFP doesn't state the man's name, but he needs to read the Geneva Conventions. If he follows through on this threat, having explicitly made it, I hope that some civilized European country finds a way to try him for war crimes. Hitting non-military infrastructure necessary to civilian life is tantamount to murder.
This on a day when 100 rockets were fired into Israel, killing eight civilians.

Meanwhile in Iraq, the largest demonstration thus far in that country in favor of Hezbollah was held in a stronghold of Moqtada al-Sadr. They were not alone...
In Iran, a predominantly Shiite country that has long been seen as a major financial and material supporter of Hezbollah, a violent riot erupted outside the British Embassy in Tehran.

Now, Shiites in Iraq and Saudi Arabia are hosting pro-Hezbollah rallies. According to ABC, Sunni Muslim demonstrators took to the streets of Damascus, Cairo and Amman. But their numbers were dwarfed by the huge Shiite turnout in Baghdad, organized by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The network reports crowds of al-Sadr supporters from across Iraq's Shiite heartland converged on the capital's Sadr City district, chanting "Death to Israel, Death to America" in the biggest pro-Hezbollah rally since the conflict began July 12.
And according to CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, a memo from the House of Rumsfeld erroneously described the demonstrations as being, more benignly, "in support of Lebanon," despite the clear preponderance of Hezbollah flags.

"Starving Lebanon"

Israel is today again defending its tactics in its war on Lebanon. This time, they killed a truckload of fruit pickers in the Bekaa Valley, near the crossing to Syria (apparently, those killed were Syrian, which raises a whole new set of troubling possibilities). And they straffed the last available crossings out of Lebanon, hitting a predominantly Christian area unaffiliated with Hezbollah, and effectively cutting off Beirut from not only Hezbollah resupply operations, but also from food and fuel. From CNN:
The airstrikes closed main roadways and four key bridges into Beirut from the north. It was the first time the Israel Defense Forces has hit the area north of the capital during the 24-day conflict.

"Syria is determined to continue rearming Hezbollah and supply it with weaponry used to attack Israel," said an IDF statement. "The IDF is determined to stop this flow of arms to Hezbollah. The attacks on the bridge last night, which connect Syria and Lebanon, were to this end." (Watch how Israeli bombs shredded roads and bridges -- 1:04)

Syria has repeatedly denied supplying weapons to Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, Lebanese President Emile Lahoud accused Israel of "starving" his country, and Christiane Berthiaume of the World Food Program told The Associated Press that Israel had cut "Lebanon's umbilical cord."

"This [road] has been the only way for us to bring in aid. We really need to find other ways to bring relief in," Berthiaume told the AP.

The bridge attacks left three people dead and one missing, according to the Lebanese Red Cross. Two of the victims were in vehicles on the Maameltain bridge in a Christian neighborhood of east Beirut, according to the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp.

And what is the U.N. doing about all of this? Bickering and moaning, and not a whole hell of a lot else. And with Britain's Tony Blair having thoroughly discredited himself as a person of influence in this conflict (earth to Tony: go ahead and go on vacation...) it's down to France, apparently, to come up with a solution. One wonders whether they will talk about Gaza, where the dying also continues, only without the world's sympathy.

Back to Britain: 100,000 protesters are expected in the streets Saturday to demand an end to the carnage in Lebanon. And 100 MPs have signed a petition calling on Useless Tony to man up to GWBush.

If you want to make a donation to help get aid to the children of Lebanon, the Independent UK has launched an appeal with Save The Children. There are numerous groups in the U.S. who are launching aid appeals for Israelis displaced in the north, but this is the first one I've seen designed to help stanch the disproportionate suffering of the people -- and especially the children -- of Lebanon. I guess this is one of those "thank God for Europe" moments...

Other stuff:

Venezuela, which has small but significant Jewish and Arab communities, has recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest over the continued bombing of Lebanon.

Tags: , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 7:09 PM  
Angry Condi Face Day
Every Friday should be Angry Condi Face Day. Here's this week's selection:


Source: Yahoo!/AP. By the way, Condi is still getting closer to peace in the Middle East. Stiiiiiilllll getting closerrr......

Tags: , Condoleezza Rice

posted by JReid @ 11:55 AM  
The diary of Don Rumsfeld
"Think of the faces in Afghanistan when the people were liberated, when they moved out in the streets and they started singing and flying kites and women went to school and people were able to function and other countries were able to start interacting with them. That's what would happen in Iraq." [Secretary of State Don Rumsfeld, Media Roundtable, September 13, 2002]

"The Iraqi Army knows what kind of a regime Saddam Hussein is running," Donald Rumsfeld said. "They know what the damage that's done to the people of Iraq. They know the truth that the United States of America doesn't covet the land of any other country...I think that there would be -- in fact, there was one instance where hundreds and hundreds of Iraqi soldiers surrendered to a journalist who didn't even have a gun. So, the idea that it's going to be a long, long, long battle of some kind, I think, is belied by what happened in 1990." [Interview with Steve Croft on November 14, 2002]

So, how's that working for you, Rummy?

Tags: Iraq,
posted by JReid @ 11:50 AM  
The jerk
The latest dispatch from Greg Palast explains a lot. The post concerns a conversation he had with someone called Amy, who was one of the small satellites circulating around a State Department / CFR plan magically entitled “Options for Iraqi Oil”:

So while Amy was in the mood to say too much, and before I got into the details of Big Oil’s plan for Iraq, I needed Amy’s help in finding the answer to the question that was just driving me crazy: why did Saddam have to go? Why did the oil industry promote an invasion of Iraq to get rid of Saddam?

The question is basic but the answer is not at all obvious.

We know the neo-cons’ answer: Their ultimate target of the invasion was Saudi Arabia, which would be cut low by a Free Iraq’s busting the OPEC oil cartel. But Big Oil wouldn’t let that happen. The neo-cons’ scheme ended up an unnoted smear under
Amy’s alligator boot heels.

And we can rule out Big Oil’s desire for Iraq’s oil as the decisive motive to invade. The last thing the oil industry wanted from Iraq in 2001 was a lot more oil.

Neither Saddam’s affection for euro currency nor panic over oil supply ‘peaking’ ruffled the international oil industry. What, then, made Saddam, so easy to hug in the 1980s, unbearable in the 1990s?

Saddam had to go, but why?

Amy told me they held meetings about it.

Beginning just after Bush’s Florida ‘victory’ in December 2000, the shepherds of the planet’s assets got together to plan our energy future under the weighty aegis of the
“Joint Task Force on Petroleum of the James A. Baker III Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations.” The master plan makers included Paul Bremer’s and Kissinger’s partner, Mack McLarty, CEO of Kissinger McLarty Associates; John Manzoni of British Petroleum; Luis Giusti, former CEO of the Venezuelan state oil company (until Hugo Chavez kicked him out); Ken Lay of Enron (pre-indictment); Philip Verleger of the National Petroleum Council, and other movers and shakers crucial to such bi-partisan multi-continental group gropes — all chaired by Dr. Edward Morse, the insider’s insider, from Hess Oil Trading.

Their final report detailed Saddam’s crimes. Gassing Kurds and Iranians? No. James A. Baker was the Reagan Chief of Staff when the U.S. provided Saddam the intelligence to better target his chemical weapons. Weapons of Mass Destruction? Not since this crowd stopped selling him the components.

In the sanitary words of the Council on Foreign Relations’ report (written up by Jaffe herself), Saddam’s problem was that he was a “swinger”:
Tight markets have increased U.S. and global vulnerability to disruption and provided adversaries undue potential influence over the price of oil. Iraq has become a key “swing” producer, posing a difficult situation for the U.S. government.

Now hold on a minute: Why is our government in a “difficult” position if Iraq is a “swing producer” of oil?

The answer was that Saddam was jerking the oil market up and down. One week, without notice, the man in the moustache suddenly announces he’s going to “support the Palestinian intifada” and cuts off all oil shipments. The result: Worldwide oil prices jump up. The next week, Saddam forgets about the Palestinians and pumps to the maximum allowed under the Oil-for-Food Program. The result: Oil prices suddenly dive-bomb. Up, down, up, down. Saddam was out of control.

“Control is what it’s all about,” one oilman told me. “It’s not about getting the oil, it’s about controlling oil’s price.”

So, within days of Bush’s election in November 2000, the James Baker Institute issued this warning:
In a market with so little cushion to cover unexpected
events, oil prices become extremely sensitive to perceived
supply risks. Such a market increases the potential lever-
age of an otherwise lesser producer such as Iraq…

I met with Falah Aljibury, an advisor to Goldman Sachs, the Baker/CFR group and, I discovered, host to the State Department’s invasion planning meetings in February 2001. The Iraqi-born industry man put it this way: “Iraq is not stable, a wild card.” Saddam cuts production, or suddenly boosts it, playing games with the U.N. over the Oil-for-Food Program. The tinpot despot was, almost alone, setting the weekly world price of oil and Big Oil did not care for that. In the CFR’s sober language:
Saddam is a “destabilizing influence… to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East.”

With Saddam out of control, jerking markets up and down, the price of controlling the price was getting just too high. Saddam drove the oil boys bonkers. For example, Saddam’s games pushed the State Department, disastrously, to launch, in April 2002, a coup d’etat in Venezuela.

This could not stand. Saddam delighted in playing cat-and-mouse with the USA and our oil majors. Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t playing with mice, but a much bigger and unforgiving breed of rodents.

Saddam was asking for it. It was time for a “military assessment.” The CFR concluded:
Saddam Hussein has demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon to manipulate oil markets… United States should conduct an immediate policy review toward Iraq, including military, energy, economic, and political/diplomatic assessments.
The true motive to invade Iraq, Saddam’s “manipulation of oil markets,” was there, but not yet, in April 2001, the official excuse.

Tags: Tags; Iraq,
posted by JReid @ 11:10 AM  
Blame it on the weather
Stuff happening around the world today:

Salon.com reports the U.S. is sharing NSA intercepts with Israel, to help them monitor, and potentially target military sites in Syria and Iran:
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. (Intelligence, including that gathered by the NSA, has been provided to Israel in the past for various purposes.) 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. 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.
Ooh, a two-front war ... wouldn't that be nice ...

Meanwhile, back in the Senate, we are, or are not, having a civil war in Iraq.

But you can always count on Rummy to give new meaning to the words "alternate reality":
Does the violence tend to be up during the summer, in the spring, summer and fall months? Yes it does. And it tends to decline during the winter period. Does that represent failed policy? I don’t know. I would say not.
No wonder Hillary wants him to get gone.

By the way, guys, most Americans are through with you.

Tags; Iraq,
posted by JReid @ 7:05 AM  
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Say what?
"We can't activate our plan while a dictator is imposing a dictatorship on the *** people. You cannot impose democracy."

Who said that? A senior U.S. State Department official, speaking about Cuba. But he cuold just as well have been talking about Iraq (not to mention Iran, Syria, Palestine, North Korea ... hell, everywhere the Bush administration's crazies aunties in the neocon short bus.

Preview:

Tags: , Fidel Castro

posted by JReid @ 10:48 AM  
Michelle Malkin: right wing moonbat
Has right wing blogger/immigrant and minority scold/Fox News babe Michelle Malkin finally jumped the shark? Her wacky Qana conspiracy theory ... let's call it the Qanspiracy... puts her in "hunt the Boeing" territory ... only with far less credibility. ... And, she has a

Here's the theory, courtesy of ThinkP:

The Choreographed Photos Claim. Malkin argues that the pictures of dead civilians at Qana “appear to be posed, not spontaneous action shots of an unfolding tragedy.” She cites the blog EU Referendum, whose author Richard North speculates that one man who appears in several photos carrying dead bodies is a “Hezbollah official.” Asked by a Washington Post blogger for evidence to substantiate this claim, North responded, “All I have to go on is gut instinct.”

The Hezbollah Bombing Claim. Malkin also pushes the theory that Hezbollah “destroyed the building deliberately.” Malkin points to a possible eight hour delay between when the Isrealis report striking the building, and the first reports of the building’s collapse. (Even popular conservative blogs have noted the similarity between this claim and the WTC Building 7 conspiracy theories.)
Yes, and then there's the small matter of Israel's having apologized for the bombing... and their promise to investigate (although some members of the Israeli government have thrown out some odd statements of their own...) More from Think:

Accounts of the incident from Israel, Lebanon and reporters all contradict Malkin’s version of the events. Villagers in Qana say the wall and roof of the building collapsed shortly after the building was struck. Reporters on the scene confirm that the building “appeared to be hit from above.” Israeli Air Force chief of staff Amir Eshel has acknowledged he “can’t say” when the building collapsed, and has relied on “foreign press reports” to determine the timing. Regardless, Israel is not suggesting that the collapse was staged by Hezbollah. Eschel called even the suggestion that Hezbollah had stored munitions in the building a “conspiracy theory.” The Israeli airforce says it has “no information on…the presence of Hezbollah men [in the area] at the time.” Also, Israel has apologized for the incident.
Meanwhile, with some 900 dead Lebanese and counting... (I guess they're all faking it, according to Ms. Malkin...) Israel says it's engaged in a "battle for perception" -- namely, the perception that they have "beaten" Hezbollah. Apparently, Hezbollah didn't get the memo. Some in Israel are even asking, if we're winning, why are they still firing rockets?

More news:

Six people killed in rocket strikes in northern Israel Two IDF soldiers killed in fighting in south Lebanon (Haaretz)

Rights group: IDF apparently targeted Lebanese civilians (Haaretz)

The Israeli Army responds, saying it would not have bombed the building if it knew civilians were inside (BBC)

Also from that BBC article, the death toll at Qana has been revised downward:
Meanwhile, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), citing local Red Cross and hospital records, said the 28 people confirmed to have died included 16 children.

"It now appears that at least 22 people escaped the basement," the group added in a statement.

According to its investigation, most of the victims belonged to the Shalhub and Hashim families.

Thirteen people remain unaccounted for, and some Qana residents fear they are buried in the rubble, although recovery efforts have stopped, HRW says.

And of course, it wouldn't be Thursday without: Iranian president continues to bring the crazy (my headline, Haaretz's story...)

Tags: , , , , , , , Bush, Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Politics, war, Iran, Iraq,
posted by JReid @ 8:11 AM  
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
You can't please everybody
... according to Ynews, Israelis don't want to hear no stinking pullout talk...

Tags: , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 12:32 PM  
Grueling headlines: a mess in the Mideast
From ABC News yesterday, an Army commander heralded in film after Black Hawk Down apparently writes a dark new chapter in his life and career:
Aug. 1, 2006 — Col. Michael Steele, whose heroics were portrayed in the movie "Black Hawk Down," is under investigation for allegedly encouraging his men to go on a killing spree. The investigation begins just as the Army has started to make its case against four soldiers who are charged with murdering three Iraqi civilians while under Steele's command, ABC News has learned.

The soldiers' defense is that they were under orders to kill all military-age males.

ABC News has learned that Steele has already been reprimanded for the incident. ...

...Steele has a storied military career and it was his unit that came under attack in 1993 in Somalia, as was portrayed in the movie "Black Hawk Down." During the current conflict, Steele has been heard boasting about his unit's record of killing insurgents. Last November he said, "We are absolutely giving the enemy the maximum opportunity to die for his country."

A source familiar with the investigation said Steele kept a "kill board" tallying the number of Iraqis killed by units under his command, and in some cases he gave out commemorative knives to soldiers who killed Iraqis believed to be insurgents.

Steele has not commented publicly about the allegations against him. But a source close to him said that he categorically rejects them.

Meanwhile, the Haditha report is coming, and it ain't good. ...

Also, is the United States Army combat ready? Maybe not. And RawStory has the letter to Nancy Pelosi that could prove it.

Iraq's leaders say they will control security in their country ... eventually.

On antirely different note ... From Rawstory: some staffers and members of the 9/11 commission saw criminality afoot in the response to the terror attacks.

And if you're a true tin foil hatter, Raw also has links to the newly released Moussaoui - 9/11 evidence. Cue the creepy music...

Tags: , , , , , ,
posted by JReid @ 9:56 AM  
Israel digs in deeper
From the Associated Press:

BOURJ AL-MULOUK, Lebanon (AP) - Israel launched its deepest ground strike into Lebanon on Wednesday, claiming it killed 10 Hezbollah guerrillas and captured five in the northeastern city of Baalbek, while nearby air raids killed at least 15 civilians.

Israeli warplanes also attacked a Lebanese army base in the southern part of the country, killing three soldiers, a security official said.

Hezbollah guerrillas hit back, firing at least 150 rockets at towns across northern Israel, killing one person and wounding at least 17, Israeli police said.

Israel medics said one of the rockets hit near the town of Beit Shean, the deepest rocket strike into Israel so far. Witnesses in Israel also reported that a Hezbollah rocket hit the West Bank for the first time, striking between the villages of Fakua and Jalboun, near Beit Shean.

Lebanese security officials said Hezbollah had fired more than 300 rockets since dawn Wednesday. The discrepancy in the number of launches could not immediately be reconciled.

As the fighting escalated, Israel sent up to 10,000 armored troops across the border into southern Lebanon on Tuesday, Israeli defense officials said. Thousands more were gathering at staging areas on the Israeli side of the border, ready to join the battles.

The ferocity of the battles in Baalbek and across southern Lebanon, coupled with the determination of the Israelis to keep fighting and the minimal diplomatic progress toward a cease-fire so far, indicated the three-week-old war is likely to escalate further.

In an interview in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told The Associated Press the fighting will stop only once an international peacekeeping force is in place in southern Lebanon.
At this stage, however, one wonders whether that force would be protecting the Lebanese and Israeli people, or whether it would simply be subborning a fresh Israeli occupation of Lebanon... From the right wing Jerusalem Post (Wolf Blitzer's old outfit, when he wasn't flacking for AIPAC):

While the IDF needs until the end of the week to deal Hizbullah a fatal blow, the military is prepared to remain in southern Lebanon for as long as it takes, even several months, until a multinational force takes control of the territory, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.

"The IDF knows how to operate for as long as it takes even if it means remaining in the territory for a long time," Kaplinsky told the Post during a visit to a military base along the northern border. The general said the IDF was currently working according to an operational plan in which IDF troops would push their way through southern Lebanon until the Litani River, some 40 kilometers from the border with Israel. But if necessary, he said, the IDF was prepared to travel even further northward.
Meanwhile, the NY Times reports that Dubya's zeal for Zion is making his dad's crowd uneasy ... ya think??? The story starts with an alarming look at the naivte ... and sheer goofiness ... of our commander in chief:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 — When they first met as United States president and Israeli prime minister, George W. Bush made clear to Ariel Sharon he would not follow in the footsteps of his father.

The first President Bush had been tough on Israel, especially the Israeli settlements in occupied lands that Mr. Sharon had helped develop. But over tea in the Oval Office that day in March 2001 — six months before the Sept. 11 attacks tightened their bond — the new president signaled a strong predisposition to support Israel.

“He told Sharon in that first meeting that I’ll use force to protect Israel, which was kind of a shock to everybody,” said one person present, given anonymity to speak about a private conversation. “It was like, ‘Whoa, where did that come from?’ “

That embrace of Israel represents a generational and philosophical divide between the Bushes, one that is exacerbating the friction that has been building between their camps of advisers and loyalists over foreign policy more generally. As the president continues to stand by Israel in its campaign against Hezbollah — even after a weekend attack that left many Lebanese civilians dead and provoked international condemnation — some advisers to the father are expressing deep unease with the Israel policies of the son.

“The current approach simply is not leading toward a solution to the crisis, or even a winding down of the crisis,” said Richard N. Haass, who advised the first President Bush on the Middle East and worked as a senior State Department official in the current president’s first term. “There are times at which a hands-off policy can be justified. It’s not obvious to me that this is one of them.”

Unlike the first President Bush, who viewed himself as a neutral arbiter in the delicate politics of the Middle East, the current president sees his role through the prism of the fight against terrorism. This President Bush, unlike his father, also has deep roots in the evangelical Christian community, a staunchly pro-Israeli component of his conservative Republican base.

The first President Bush came to the Oval Office with long diplomatic experience, strong ties to Arab leaders and a realpolitik view that held the United States should pursue its own strategic interests, not high-minded goals like democracy, even if it meant negotiating with undemocratic governments like Syria and Iran.

The current President Bush has practically cut off Syria and Iran, overlaying his fight against terrorism with the aim of creating what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls “a new Middle East.” In allying himself so closely with Israel, he has departed not just from his father’s approach but also from those of all his recent predecessors, who saw themselves first and foremost as brokers in the region.

In a speech Monday in Miami, Mr. Bush offered what turned out to be an implicit criticism of his father’s approach.

“The current crisis is part of a larger struggle between the forces of freedom and the forces of terror in the Middle East,” Mr. Bush said. “For decades, the status quo in the Middle East permitted tyranny and terror to thrive. And as we saw on September the 11th, the status quo in the Middle East led to death and destruction in the United States.”

Now, as Mr. Bush faces growing pressure from Arab leaders and European allies to end the current wave of violence, these differences between father and son have come into sharp relief.

“There is a danger in a policy in which there is no daylight whatsoever between the government of Israel and the government of the United States,” said Aaron David Miller, an Arab-Israeli negotiator for both Bush administrations, who has high praise for James A. Baker III, the first President Bush’s secretary of state. “Bush One and James Baker would never have allowed that to happen.”
... and when the administration of Bush I starts to look good to me, I KNOW we're going to hell in a handbasket.

Last but not least, what at this point are Israel's objectives? According to Haaretz, they're lowering their standards...

for all the speeches, this conflict is lacking the kind of image that will help make it memorable - images like the paratroopers at the Western Wall or Ariel Sharon with a bandage around his head. What will the image of the second Lebanon war be?

Officials at the prime minister's bureau say it will be the image of soldiers in the multinational force who will deploy on the Lebanese side of the Blue Line and at the Syrian and Lebanese border crossings. It's hard to believe, but there you have it: The Israeli political elite are looking forward to the arrival of Captain Francoise of the French Foreign Legion and his comrades, who will be stationed on the border along with Lebanese army units. That hadn't crossed anyone's mind three weeks ago, and now it's the objective of the Israeli war; Olmert promised to continue fighting until the international army takes control of positions and villages that Hezbollah had been using until the war.
Well, just so there's a goal.

Tags: , , , , , , , Bush, Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Politics, war, Iran, Iraq,
posted by JReid @ 9:28 AM  
Who is sacrificing for this war?
Who is shedding blood for the U.S. war in Iraq? Not the sons and daughters of members of Congerss. Yes, Democrat Max Baucus just lost a nephew in Iraq, and Republican John McCain has a son who just joined the Marines. That makes two. Other than that, the military is down to begging for old dudes.

Tags: , , Politics, Bush, War, News, War On Terror, Military
posted by JReid @ 9:19 AM  
The pot at the end of El Rainbow
It didn't take long for the Cuban exile community -- at least the part of it that left large haciendas and dark complected maidservants behind when they fled the island in Castro's wake -- not to mention money-minded American businessmen everywhere -- to start calculating the potential benefits of a "democratic" Cuba. (Here's hoping that's not "democratic" in the Iraq sense...)

From CBS 4 Miami:
Some See $$$ Signs In A Free Cuba

(CBS News) MIAMI As Cuban-Americans in Miami begin to hope that Fidel Castro’s illness could lead to real change in their homeland, where they see a chance for freedom, others are seeing a chance to make a buck. A Cuba free of a US embargo could be a goldmine in everything from grocery stores to condos.

Savvy investors look at a free Cuba with anticipation, because the largest island in the Caribbean offers a host of opportunities. The infrastructure needs replacing, businesses and shops are in disrepair, consumer product manufacturing is almost non-existence, and the only real-estate investment has been done with foreign partners.

Developers see miles and miles of shoreline, and for those un-interested in the beach, mountain get-a-ways in the famous mountains of Cuba.

Tourism alone could bring a huge opportunity; Miami-based cruise lines eye potential new ports with a built-in clientele, including millions of refugees eager for a visit home.

All that’s needed is a friendly government and an end to US restrictions, and, say some exiles, a look toward the human factors.

“There are many people on the island who have nothing”, one Miami Cuban exile pointed out. “Before we start building condos, let’s build bridges and help them first.”

Blimey.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration is trying to figure out how to step out of the wee, little box U.S. policy toward the communist island has left us in ... it's not entirely clear whether Castro is healthy, unhealthy, or dead ... reports of suspicious troop movements are raising the excitement level in Miami ...

...and Miami exiles aren't waiting for a death certificate to begin counting up the spoils.

Tags: Cuba, Fidel Castro
posted by JReid @ 7:44 AM  
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
The question that sums it up
This headline speaks volumes about what's going on in the Middle East:

Man who loses family asks, ‘Who is to blame?’

Who, indeed.

And lest we make like CNN and forget, another 44 people were killed by a bomb attack in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the neocons apparently have fallen in love with George W. Bush all over again :
“This is exactly the right strategy, which you could call ‘Don’t just do something, stand there [while Israel continues its military campaign]’,” said David Frum, a former speechwriter to George W. Bush, who helped draft the president’s 2002 ‘Axis of Evil’ address.

“What we are seeing are precisely the same divisions as we saw over Iraq with the neo-conservatives rallying behind Mr Bush and almost everyone else feeling rising panic at the direction of American diplomacy,” said Francis Fukuyama, a former neo-conservative.
Isn't amazing how the sight of dead Arabs just does wonders to lift those wacky neocon spirits?

Tags: , , , , , , , Bush, Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Politics, war, Iran, Iraq,
posted by JReid @ 9:57 AM  
Seeds of peace, or war, war, war...
NBC's Andrea Mitchell reported yesterday that Condi Rice was a bit irked during her chat with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who apparently was speaking Yiddish with his colleagues during their meeting. That wasn't the problem, though. The problem, according to Mitchell, was what they were saying. Mitchell reported that while Olmert was making peace sounds to Rice, he was telling his colleagues that the war would not only continue, it would escalate. And the Likudniks talk about Arabs saying one thing to the West and another to "the street."

There are also reports that the U.S. has lost so much credibility in the region that Israel is apparently reaching out to the Russians to try and get them to intervene with Syria, who they then hope will intercede with Hezbollah. And who has the most leverage on the ground right now, including being the likely providor of most of the troops for this coming international "security force?" ... that would be the French.

Now to today's developments. Israel may have put itself in such a tight box with its overwrought offensive against Lebanon (even some American Jews supportive of Israel are wincing, and suggesting Israelis begin thinking Marshall Plan...) that it cannot now salvage the world public opinion that has turned so sharply against it. Given that, one of two things could happen:

1. Israel could become more amenable to making a deal -- and to that point, Haaretz is reporting that the Olmert government has told British wimp Prime Minister Tony Blair that a ceasefire could come as soon as Saturday, if a stabilisation force can be put in place that quickly. Also, reports the moderate Israeli daily:
Also Monday, government and defense officials said that Israel will release two Lebanese prisoners in return for the two soldiers abducted by Hezbollah as part of a cease-fire agreement.

The sources added that the UN Security Council would call for a cease-fire in Lebanon on Friday, and it could take effect as early as Saturday.

Alternatively, the fighting might continue for a few more days.

Immediately after soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were captured, Olmert said that Israel would not negotiate a prisoner exchange for their release - a position he also took following the abduction of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit in the Gaza Strip. Olmert's position received international support in the concluding statement issued by the G-8 summit, which called for the unconditional return of all Israeli captives.

However, with the fighting still ongoing, government and military sources said recently that Israel would find it difficult to insist on this position in negotiating a cease-fire.

The sources said that Israel would apparently agree to release Abu Amra Mamad, convicted of weapons possession, plus one illegal alien. It will not agree to release Palestinians. A government source added that Israel would also refuse to release Samir Kuntar, who murdered the Haran family and a police officer in Nahariya in 1979. In the last prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, the "Tennenbaum deal" of January 2004, it was agreed that Kuntar would be released only in exchange for information about missing airman Ron Arad.
2. Or, Israel could harden its position and use this opportunity to strengthen its hold on occupied Syrian/Lebanese territory, and will not stop its crushing offensive against Lebanon. In fact, the conflict on the ground is escalating. From the same Haaretz article:
On Saturday, Olmert rejected a proposal by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel agree to discuss a withdrawal from Shaba Farms, on the slopes of Mount Hermon, as a gesture to strengthen the Lebanese government headed by Fouad Siniora. Olmert told Rice that there was no reason for an Israeli concession on Shaba, since Israel has already completely fulfilled the UN's demand that it withdraw from Lebanon - a fact affirmed by the Security Council in 2000.
Also, this from the Guardian:
Kofi Annan told Jack Straw of his anger at Britain's stance on the conflict in a phone call last Wednesday to the former foreign secretary, it emerged last night. The UN secretary general rang Mr Straw hours after Britain and the US blocked a call for an immediate ceasefire at the Rome summit, and a day after Israel bombed a UN monitoring position, killing four observers.
Two days later Mr Straw broke rank publicly, attacking Israel's "disproportionate" actions.

A spokesman for Mr Straw confirmed that Mr Annan had called him but said Mr Straw had no comment. A spokeswoman for Mr Annan said he had called Mr Straw for a private conversation.

"It was a personal call, there was no note taker," she said. "But the reports about him trying to pry Blair away [from the US] on Lebanon are false."
And is the pressure, including from within his own government and circle of advisors, getting to Blair? Time will tell.

Tags: , , , , , , , Bush, Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Politics, war, Iran, Iraq,
posted by JReid @ 9:31 AM  
No time for Dubya
Dolphins coach Nick Saban says thanks, but no thanks, to a dinner with the Prez...

Tags: Bush, ,
posted by JReid @ 9:26 AM  
I hate Blogger 2.0
From time to time I post about how much I hate, despise and detest the Blogger program, which I'm stuck with for now because I don't have the time to wade through the still complicated process of switching to WordPress. Well, the hate is back!

So if there's an enterprising Blogger expert out there who can 'splain how to get the right sidebar to stop floating to the bottom, I'd surely appreciate it!
posted by JReid @ 8:07 AM  
Es finito Fidelito?
In Miami today, it's all about Fidel Castro transferring power ... to his baby brother Raoul.

Analysis from Slate. And an overseas perspective from EITB.

What will be the implications for the U.S.? And what about the oil...?

Previous:

Guess who's got oil?

posted by JReid @ 7:39 AM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
Listen now:


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