Monday, July 31, 2006
Atrocities in Lebanon and Cloud of Lies
Despite Israel's protestations that it is doing everything it can to avoid civilian casualties, it is clear that its military strategy is aimed at maximising the suffering of the Lebanese people as a whole. This was declared quite openly on day one of the campaign, when Israel's chief of staff, General Dan Halutz, promised to "turn back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years", and confirmed again yesterday with the horrific slaughter at Qana. The approach is identical to the one taken in similar operations in 1996 and 1993, when Yitzhak Rabin admitted: "The goal of the operation is to get the southern Lebanese population to move northward, hoping that this will tell the Lebanese government something about the refugees, who may get as far north as Beirut." Populations will move like this only if they are in fear of their lives.
The same applies to Gaza, where the pretence at discrimination is even thinner and Palestinian civilians are being subjected to a brutal siege and acts of violence that have no military justification. As in Lebanon, the intention is to force civilians to turn on the militias by inflicting as much pain and suffering as the Israeli government thinks it can get away with. What is this if it is not terrorism? It is certainly a war crime. So let's hear no more hypocritical utterances about the evils of terrorism from Bush and Blair. Not until they are able to speak with genuine moral authority by condemning all forms of illegal violence, irrespective of who commits them.
Although the United States has urged Israel to use restraint, it has also strongly defended the military assaults as a reasonable response to Hezbollah rocket attacks, a position increasingly at odds with allies that see a deadly overreaction. Analysts think that if the war drags on, as appears likely, it could leave the United States more isolated than at any time since the Iraq invasion three years ago and hindered in its foreign policy goals such as shutting down Iran's nuclear program and spreading democracy around the world."The arrows are all pointing in the wrong direction," said Richard N. Haass, who was President Bush's first-term State Department policy planning director. "The biggest danger in the short run is it just increases frustration and alienation from the United States in the Arab world. Not just the Arab world, but in Europe and around the world. People will get a daily drumbeat of suffering in Lebanon and this will just drive up anti-Americanism to new heights."
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Condoning Butchery - The Bush/Blair Axis
How will history judge us when the bombs and rockets stop falling, when the shooting ends ? "JERUSALEM, July 30 -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was forced to cancel a trip to Beirut Sunday after an Israeli airstrike killed more than 50 people, mostly women and children, in the southern Lebanese town of Qana in the bloodiest attack since the hostilities began between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia. But she did not call for an immediate ceasefire."
BEIRUT, July 30 -- In an attack that the Israeli military said was aimed at destroying Hezbollah rocket launchers, Israeli warplanes blasted a group of buildings in a southern Lebanese village Sunday, killing more than 50 people, most of them women and children, according to Lebanese officials and on-scene interviews by Lebanese television reporters.
Coming at a particularly sensitive point in negotiations to end the conflict, the attack on the village threw the painstaking process of building toward an agreement into turmoil. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said he would not hold talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice until a ceasefire is called.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
The Eloquent and Deferential Prime Minister
Tony Blair, True Believer ?
Blair has been calling almost from the beginning of the crisis for a multinational force to help police southern Lebanon. U.S. officials -- mindful of the political difficulties the situation is creating for Blair at home -- said the prime minister has been influential in helping to convince the president that the idea makes sense as a way of helping the Lebanese government reestablish authority.
At the news conference yesterday, Blair put little daylight between himself and Bush, casting Hezbollah as the instigator of the crisis and coming to the president's defense -- with a passionate plea to look at the larger stakes -- when Bush was questioned about declining U.S. clout in the world. Blair said the growing violence in the Middle East is not a function of declining U.S. influence but a global movement of Islamic radicals determined to subvert democracy in that region and elsewhere.
A report in the BBC mentions threat of a wider conflict:
The agony of Lebanon was, like the carnage in Iraq, part of the birth pains of the New Middle East for the neo-conservative ideologues in Washington. This was Israel's contribution to the war on terror, dealing a blow to a proxy offspring of those "axis of evil" nations, Syria and Iran.
This was Israel's contribution to the war on terror, dealing a blow to a proxy offspring of those "axis of evil" nations, Syria and Iran.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Floyd Landis - How Would It Play Out ?
Vindication or Disgrace * The Warrior Princess In A Cream Colored Suit
"We know all of this. We know the sport is one test tube away from becoming the WWE and is the dirtiest one of all. We know many cyclists dabble in drugs and violate rules by toiling in technologies designed to create supermen. Only instead of capes, they don yellow jerseys.
But Landis? Wasn't he supposed to be different? Wasn't he the anti-Lance Armstrong? There weren't supposed to be steroid rumors swirling around Landis as there have been around Armstrong. There was not supposed to be a smoking needle, err, gun.
There is a chance a plausible explanation exists for the elevated testosterone levels allegedly discovered in the Landis sample. He might be completely innocent. His second sample could be clean. He could also be the victim of bullied blood work. The French and others have been accused by American cyclists of being sophisticated saboteurs. Armstrong has had numerous run-ins with their various cycling bodies and pernicious French media. The French, we are told, would love to be riggers of the Petri dish. They hate American cyclists so much that when one tests positive for some illicit substance, the moment is treated like Bastille Day.
Please let it be that. Please let it be some legitimate mistake or conspiracy. Because how many more times can our Tour de France champions, or even our NFL and baseball heroes, go through performance enhancing drug scandals before we all become so cynical we don't care if our athletes cheat?
Or have we long passed that point?"
The Gloating Secretary of State
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Lebanon, July 2006 - Guernica, April 1937
Editorial in The Guardian : "It seems astonishing that the world is still watching rather than acting two weeks after the Lebanon war began. After the international embarrassments of the 1990s, in which Europe watched as Sarajevo's civilian population was assaulted from its surrounding hills and the UN failed to intervene to halt genocide in Rwanda, audiences in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, seeing nightly on television the carnage and despoilation of the Lebanon, rightly expect their governments to respond. And yet nothing happens.
The US alliance with Israel has been a fact of international life for decades, but seldom has Washington acted so blatantly in support of the country and with such disregard for the rest of the international community. By blocking diplomatic action, the US has alienated the Arab world even further. And Britain, shamefully, has been a party to this. Washington and London argue that there is no point in calling for an immediate ceasefire because it would only be a temporary solution and what is needed is a sustainable ceasefire. This is an unusual approach to conflict. It is normal to press for a ceasefire and then try to work out peace terms. To demand a workable peace plan for the Israel-Lebanon first is the stuff of dreams. Israel and Lebanon have now been in conflict since 1982: there is no easy solution on offer.
And Our Soldiers In Iraq
As President Bush plans to deploy more troops in Baghdad, U.S. soldiers who have been patrolling the capital for months describe a deadly and infuriating mission in which the enemy is elusive and success hard to find. Each day, convoys of Humvees and Bradley Fighting Vehicles leave Forward Operating Base Falcon in southern Baghdad with the goal of stopping violence between warring Iraqi religious sects, training the Iraqi army and police to take over the duty, and reporting back on the availability of basic services for Iraqi civilians.
But some soldiers in the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division -- interviewed over four days on base and on patrols -- say they have grown increasingly disillusioned about their ability to quell the violence and their reason for fighting. The battalion of more than 750 people arrived in Baghdad from Kuwait in March, and since then, six soldiers have been killed and 21 wounded.
"It sucks. Honestly, it just feels like we're driving around waiting to get blown up. That's the most honest answer I could give you," said Spec. Tim Ivey, 28, of San Antonio, a muscular former backup fullback for Baylor University. "You lose a couple friends and it gets hard."
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Lebanon: The Elusive "Enduring Peace"
Thrust and Parry in Rome
|After listening to the news conference, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora expressed despair. Saying his country was being "cut to pieces" by Israel, Siniora said: "We really wanted, on the one hand, to really ask the participants to provide humanitarian relief assistance, which is important, and to provide all other assistance. . . . But more, we wanted a cease-fire, an immediate cease-fire."|
U.S. officials briefing after the meeting played down disagreements. But others did not. Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said that "we agreed upon what we could agree upon, but that does not change the fact that the European Union has called for an immediate cessation of hostilities" while the United States has not.
According to a detailed timeline of the incident provided by an unidentified UN officer and reported by CNN, the first bomb exploded around 200 metres from the post at 1.20pm (11.20am BST) yesterday.
Unifil observers then telephoned their designated contact with the Israeli military, who assured them the attacks would stop. In the following hours, nine more bombs fell close to the post, each one followed by a call to the Israeli military, the UN officer said.
The main Unifil base in the town of Naqoura lost contact with the post at 7.40pm, seemingly the time when the post received a direct hit.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The Imperial Presidency - (I Think) "I Am The State"
The panel members described the development as a serious threat to the Constitution's system of checks and balances, and they urged Congress to pass legislation permitting court review of such statements.
"The president is indicating that he will not either enforce part or the entirety of congressional bills," said ABA president Michael S. Greco, a Massachusetts attorney. "We will be close to a constitutional crisis if this issue, the president's use of signing statements, is left unchecked."
The Guardian: "The American Bar Association, an independent lawyers' organisation, issued a report on President Bush's prolific use of "signing statements" and found he was using them to create unconstitutional loopholes to laws passed by Congress.
The ABA found that the president used signing statements to make more than 800 challenges to congressional legislation, 200 more than all previous US presidents put together. Signing statements have been issued since the nation's founding but they have traditionally served a ceremonial function, extolling the virtues of the legislation just signed.
Forbes Magazine: "We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will...authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president's acts declared unconstitutional," Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said on the Senate floor.
It will be interesting to see how this vitally important issue plays out.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Looking Back, Looking Forward - Mossadeq to Ahmedinejad
The United States In A Familiar Role
"It's clear the Americans have given the Israelis the green light. They [the Israeli attacks] will be allowed to go on longer, perhaps for another week," a senior European official said yesterday. Diplomatic sources said there was a clear time limit, partly dictated by fears that a prolonged conflict could spin out of control.
US strategy in allowing Israel this freedom for a limited period has several objectives, one of which is delivering a slap to Iran and Syria, who Washington claims are directing Hizbullah and Hamas militants from behind the scenes.
Blood and Oil-Stained Hands
An Arabic newspaper on the History of the Green Light.
Also see Washington Post columnist David Ignatius and Fareed Zacharia's "Is the war making the world safer for Israel, America and their allies or more dangerous?"
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Lebanon: Britain Takes a Stand, Away From G.W. Bush
Applause, Britain does the right thing
The Observer/Guardian, July 23, 2006
- Britain dramatically broke ranks with George Bush last night over the Lebanon crisis, publicly criticising Israel's military tactics and urging America to 'understand' the price being paid by ordinary Lebanese civilians.
- The remarks, made in Beirut by the Foreign Office minister, Kim Howells, were the first public criticism by this country of Israel's military campaign, and placed it at odds with Washington's strong support. The Observer can also reveal that Tony Blair voiced deep concern about the escalating violence during a private telephone conversation with the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, last week. But sources close to Blair said Olmert had replied that Israel faced a dire security threat from the Hizbollah militia and was determined to do everything necessary to defeat it.
- Britain's shift came as Israeli tanks and warplanes pounded targets across the border in southern Lebanon yesterday ahead of an imminently expected ground offensive to clear out nearby Hizbollah positions, which have been firing dozens of rockets onto towns and cities inside Israel.
The BBC: The UN's Jan Egeland has condemned the devastation caused by Israeli air strikes in Beirut, saying it is a violation of humanitarian law.
No Chocolates and Flowers For U.S. Troops In Iraq
Comparison with Vietnam back again! Lessons, what lessons? Cannot be true. It is a piece of leftist, anti-war propaganda. The chocolates and flowers are late in coming. The Iraqis will eventually greet us as liberators after the Iraq they knew ceases to exist. Thomas E. Ricks write in the Post: "In Iraq, Military Forgot Lessons of Vietnam"
- But there is also strong evidence, based on a review of thousands of military documents and hundreds of interviews with military personnel, that the U.S. approach to pacifying Iraq in the months after the collapse of Hussein helped spur the insurgency and made it bigger and stronger than it might have been.
- The military ROE in Iraq are central to most homicide cases against U.S. troops and are at the heart of a major investigation into the killings of two dozen civilians in a group of homes in Haditha. Lawyers representing several Marines in that case -- which has so far yielded no charges -- have said they plan to argue that their clients were following the ROE when they thought they were under attack.
- Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that four Army soldiers charged with killing three detainees they captured in raids near Samarra told investigators their ROE were to kill "all military-age males." They said commanders authorized the rules for a special mission and initially cleared them of wrongdoing, according to the AP.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Bombs for Lebanon With Love From Uncle Sam
The New Barbarians
All of them are not on the Lebanese side of the border.
- The New York Times
- July 22, 2006
- U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis
- By DAVID S. CLOUD and HELENE COOPER
- WASHINGTON, July 21 -- The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.
- The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran's efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.
- The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion-dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel's request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel still had a long list of targets in Lebanon to strike.
Wounded Civilians 15
An Israeli human rights organization presents a view from the other side.
You, Me, and President Bush: Summer Reading
So Many Books, So Little Time
Nancy Pearl lists "Books That May Make You Skip Work":
- The Brief History of the Dead - Kevin Brockmeier
- The Little Friend - Donna Tartt
- The Girls - Lori Lansens
- Citizen Vince - Jess Walters
"The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you the knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination."
--- Elizabeth Hardwick
Friday, July 21, 2006
How to Make An Omlette: The G.W. Bush Way
Bush, the Peacemaker * Bush, the Black Vote Seeker
- When hostilities have broken out in the past, the usual U.S. response has been an immediate and public bout of diplomacy aimed at a cease-fire, in the hopes of ensuring that the crisis would not escalate. This week, however, even in the face of growing international demands, the White House has studiously avoided any hint of impatience with Israel. While making it plain it wants civilian casualties limited, the administration is also content to see the Israelis inflict the maximum damage possible on Hezbollah.
Bottom Line: Republicans Need Black Voters
- Bush's remarks met with largely lukewarm applause from the crowd and at one point near the end of his speech, two hecklers threatened to disrupt the address. The president pressed ahead undaunted, though.Bush said the Republican Party wrote off the country's African-American vote for too long and many African-Americans also wrote off the Republican Party. "It's not good for our country," Bush said.
"The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has warned that war crimes may have been committed in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. BBC News website World Affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds examines the issues."
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Destruction of Lebanon
It is a naked demonstration of power. Power of vastly superior military force. Let the pundits argue about "over reaction" and Hezbollah's "miscalculation". It is indisputable that Israel is determined to destroy Lebanon's economy and infrastructure. If hapless civilians get caught in the attacks and die, it is the cost they must pay to be Lebanese or a resident of Lebanon. President Bush made it clear where he stood on the issue; according to him the Israelis are defending themselves. The peace mission by Secretary Rice is not likely to take place until the Israelis have achieved their objective, world opinion be damned. But in the long run are they really going to be safe? For every innocent life they take they create a recruit for extremist Islamic groups. They can be defiant but at the cost of being despised not only in the Middle East but also in much of the civilized world. Misery and suffering being inflicted upon thousands of people are bound to have a long lasting effect that will bode Israel no good. Washington Post: "The United States faces growing tensions with allies over its support of Israel's military campaign to cripple Hezbollah, amid calls for a cease-fire to help with the mounting humanitarian crisis."
- European allies are particularly alarmed about the disproportionately high civilian death toll in Lebanon. They are also concerned that the U.S. position will increase tensions between the Islamic world and the West by fueling militants, playing into the rhetoric of Osama bin Laden and adding to the problems of the U.S.-led coalition force in Iraq.
- The fragile Lebanese government has pleaded for a cease-fire, and France has urged the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution calling for an end to hostilities, proposing political and security measures. France also has called for "humanitarian corridors" to guarantee safety for civilians fleeing areas under fire.
- More than 500,000 people -- about one in eight in a country smaller than Connecticut -- have been displaced, according to the Lebanese government.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
The Endless Loop - E-Mail between An Israeli and A Lebanese
Henry Kissinger, Former Aider and Abetter of Torture and Murder, Pontificates * India Blocks Bloggers
- I do not believe that Israel ever had the intention of fighting Hezbollah. From the first day of their attack, they only wanted to destroy our civilian infrastructure.
- The fighters of Hezbollah are in the south and Israel hasn't sent a single tank there. Instead they destroy the civilian airport, bridges and power plants. How can they justify that?
- Lebanon has lost many civilians - children, old people, all trying to escape. In Beirut, we haven't been able to go to work. Life has stopped.
- Maybe Israel has a special obscure and twisted logic that nobody else understands I do not know how such actions will free their two soldiers.
- I live in Shlomi on the border with Lebanon. I can see a Hezbollah lookout post from my balcony.
- Shlomi was among the settlements shelled on Wednesday morning. This shelling brought Israeli soldiers to the border area where they were ambushed: seven were killed and two were kidnapped.
- What option did Israel have? Should we have said: 'Well done Mr Nasrallah, got us this time, we'll do whatever you want' And for what purpose?
- This was Nasrallah [Hezbollah's chief] trying to improve his standing in the Arab world.
- It is difficult to believe that the interest of the Lebanese people was in his mind when he gave the order for this.
- What others call negotiating is really a call to give in blindly to his demands, and that puts my life and the life of every other Israeli at risk.
One of Our Elder Statesmen, A Friend of Butchers
Censorship Raises Its Ugly Head in India
BBC 19th July 2006:
- Internet professionals and lawyers believe that blocking sites really serves no purpose in a large country like India with an increasingly thriving blogging community.
- "The ISPs can block a specific site, but the person who runs it can easily tweak its name a bit and return," says Mr Tiwari.
- There are an estimated 50 million internet users in India, according to ISP industry estimates.
- Only seven million people subscribe to the internet, of whom 1.5 million receive broadband services.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
The First Veto by Our President - Crusader Against Evil
Stem Cell Research, Morning After Pill, Women's Right to Choose
- "The president feels he made the right decision, and a principled decision, and he's not going to be swayed by the fact that he may not have the votes on Capitol Hill," said Jay Lefkowitz, a New York lawyer who helped Bush craft his position while a staff member at the White House.
- By refusing to budge from his position, the president also appears to be reaffirming his bona fides with religious conservatives who make up an important part of his political base, even while he differs with other prominent Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and former first lady Nancy Reagan.
Where Are We Heading?
- Around the United States, health workers and patients are clashing when providers balk at giving care that they feel violates their beliefs, sparking an intense, complex and often bitter debate over religious freedom vs. patients' rights.
- Legal and political battles have followed. Patients are suing and filing complaints after being spurned. Workers are charging religious discrimination after being disciplined or fired. Congress and more than a dozen states are considering laws to compel workers to provide care -- or, conversely, to shield them from punishment.
- The issue is driven by the rise in religious expression and its political prominence in the United States, and by medicine's push into controversial new areas. And it is likely to intensify as doctors start using embryonic stem cells to treat disease, as more states legalize physician-assisted suicide and as other wrenching issues emerge.
- For Debra Shipley, her duties as a nurse began to conflict with her Christian faith when the county health clinic where she worked near Memphis required she dispense the morning-after pill."I felt like my religious liberties were being violated," said Shipley, 49, of Atoka, Tenn. "I could not live with myself if it did it. I answer to God first and foremost."
- But Paige Gerson, 37, of Leawood, Kan., believes doctors and nurses should never let their personal values interfere with patient care. Her doctor refused to give her the morning-after pill, citing religious objections.
"Seeking Care, and Refused". Love of God, fear of God, or just inability to accept those who are different?
- Desperate to have a baby, Guadalupe Benitez was hoping her next try would finally work. So Benitez was stunned when a crucial moment arrived in her cycle and her fertility clinic refused to do the insemination procedure.
- "I was in tears," said Benitez, 34, of Oceanside, Calif. "I wanted to be a mom. I was in a panic."
- The clinic told Benitez, who is gay, that staff members were uncomfortable about treating her because of their religious values. "I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was almost surreal," Benitez said. "It was so upsetting."
- Benitez eventually conceived a boy, then twin girls, with the help of another specialist. But she sued the clinic and two of its doctors in 2001, charging discrimination."
- When the dispatcher called, Stephanie Adamson knew this might be the run she had feared. But it wasn't until her ambulance arrived at the hospital and she saw the words "elective abortion" on the patient's chart that she knew she had to make a choice.
- "I just got a sick feeling in my stomach," said Adamson, an emergency medical technician from Channahon, Ill.
- Adamson called her boss to say she could not transport the patient to the other hospital where the procedure was scheduled.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Sound Bites, Photo Ops, and Reality
Paul Krugman Exposes the Sham
Paul Krugman's collection of quotations demonstrates the lies and utterly cynical positions held by the president and his supporters. Perhaps they are without memories; for them the past is a blank slate, each day a new day.
Paul Krugman, The New York Times,July 17, 2006
"Since those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it -- and since the cast of characters making pronouncements on the crisis in the Middle East is very much the same as it was three or four years ago -- it seems like a good idea to travel down memory lane. Here's what they said and when they said it:
- "The greatest thing to come out of [invading Iraq] for the world economy would be $20 a barrel for oil." Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation (which owns Fox News), February 2003
- "Oil Touches Record $78 on Mideast Conflict." Headline on www.foxnews.com, July 14, 2006
- "The administration's top budget official estimated today that the cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion," saying that "earlier estimates of $100 billion to $200 billion in Iraq war costs by Lawrence B. Lindsey, Mr. Bush's former chief economic adviser, were too high." The New York Times, Dec. 31, 2002
- "According to C.B.O.'s estimates, from the time U.S. forces invaded Iraq in March 2003, $290 billion has been allocated for activities in Iraq." Additional costs over the 2007-2016 period would total an estimated $202 billion under the first [optimistic] scenario, and $406 billion under the second one." Congressional Budget Office, July 13, 2006
- "Peacekeeping requirements in Iraq might be much lower than historical experience in the Balkans suggests. There's been none of the record in Iraq of ethnic militias fighting one another that produced so much bloodshed and permanent scars in Bosnia." Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense and now president of the World Bank, Feb. 27, 2003
- "West Baghdad is no stranger to bombings and killings, but in the past few days all restraint has vanished in an orgy of 'ethnic cleansing.' Shia gunmen are seeking to drive out the once-dominant Sunni minority and the Sunnis are forming neighborhood posses to retaliate. Mosques are being attacked. Scores of innocent civilians have been killed, their bodies left lying in the streets." The Times of London, July 14, 2006
- "Earlier this week, I traveled to Baghdad to visit the capital of a free and democratic Iraq." President Bush, June 17, 2006
- "People are doing the same as [in] Saddam's time and worse. " These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things." Ayad Allawi, Mr. Bush's choice as Iraq's first post-Saddam prime minister, November 2005
- "Iraq's new government has another able leader in Speaker Mashhadani. He rejects the use of violence for political ends. And by agreeing to serve in a prominent role in this new unity government, he's demonstrating leadership and courage." President Bush, May 22, 2006
- "Some people say we saw you beheading, kidnappings and killing. In the end we even started kidnapping women who are our honor." These acts are not the work of Iraqis. I am sure that he who does this is a Jew and the son of a Jew." Mahmoud Mashhadani, speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, July 13, 2006
- "My fellow citizens, not only can we win the war in Iraq, we are winning the war in Iraq." President Bush, Dec. 18, 2005
- "I think I would answer that by telling you I don't think we're losing." Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, when asked whether we're winning in Iraq, July 14, 2006
- "Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits for the region. Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad. Moderates throughout the region would take heart, and our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced." Vice President Dick Cheney, Aug. 26, 2002
- "Bush -- The world is coming unglued before his eyes. His naive dreams are a Wilsonian disaster." Newsweek Conventional Wisdom Watch, July 24, 2006 edition
- "'It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril." Senator Joseph Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut, Dec. 6, 2005
- "I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now." Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, on the campaign against Slobodan Milosevic, April 28, 1999
Sunday, July 16, 2006
The Cowboy From Crawford and His Missions Not Accomplished
Smoke and Mirrors, and "Filters"
"Now it is Operation Together Forward! You'll have to give credit to the team that concocts the names for the president's grand illusions. Look behind the sound bite and there is nothing, absolutely nothing. Timely column by Frank Rich, NY Times. A must read.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
People of Lebanon and the Cedars of Lebanon
- Local residents told al-Jazeera TV the villagers were targeted after being ordered to leave Marwahin, and refused shelter by the UN forces.
- Ahmad Ali Ubayd said many did not own vehicles and a main road has been under continuous bombardment.
- "Where is the international justice when children, women, and the elderly are killed?" he said.
- Correspondents say there is nowhere safe to go for many trying to flee the south.
- In past hostilities much of the mainly Shia population of the south has sought refuge in the capital Beirut's largely Shia southern suburbs, but this time they are under attack too, the BBC's Jim Muir reports from Damour, south of Beirut.
- On Saturday, Israeli warplanes also hit the southern suburbs, which are a Hezbollah stronghold.
- Earlier, Hezbollah's al-Manar TV says three civilians were killed in an Israeli attack in Hermel, on the border with Syria.
- They also carried out raids in the north and the north-east of the country for the first time on Saturday.
- A number of bridges, petrol stations and key roads have also been hit, including the main road linking northern Lebanon to Syria.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Insanity Fair - Lebanon, Israel ,Gaza, and A Wound Up Robot
High Civilian Toll
Excerpts from a report by Anthony Shadid and Scott Wilson, Washington Post:
- In Israel, the steady boom of Hezbollah's Katyusha rockets triggered air raid sirens and calls to take cover in basements throughout Israel's northern border area. "This is taking us back 20 years to the Lebanon war," said Rachel Ronen, 54, whose accounting firm was left a shambles by the morning rockets that hit 15 minutes before her secretary was due for work. Asked what Israel should do in return, Ronen, her eyes red from weeping, said, "Hit them."
- Across Lebanon, residents expressed fear that the conflict might drag on days, even weeks. Lines snaked around gas stations in Beirut, as drivers stocked up on fuel. Supermarkets were crowded, and the roads that remained open, especially to the Syrian border, Lebanon's last outlet after the airport's closure, were clogged. Lebanese officials put the toll at 47 dead and 103 wounded, including a family of 12 in the village of Dweir. Residents said three people were still buried under rubble.
- "What do I think personally?" asked Munzir Baram, a 40-year-old Lebanese making his way across a partially repaired bridge spanning the green-tinted Damour River. "It's going to get a lot, lot worse."
As expected the United States stood by Israel. "UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution put forward by Qatar on behalf of Arab states that called on Israel to immediately end its two-week military incursion in Gaza. Ten of the council's 15 member-nations voted in favor of the resolution, while the United States cast the sole "no" vote. Four countries abstained -- Britain, Denmark, Peru and Slovakia."
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Lieberman Behind the Facade - Brother Jeb and the Liberators
What does he stand for? Whom does he represent?
- On the op-ed pages of leading newspapers, we read that Lieberman is "the most kind-hearted and well-intentioned of men" (that's from the New York Times' David Brooks), a judgment that cannot credibly be disputed -- though if ever a road to hell was paved with good intentions, it would start with the anti-Saddam Hussein interventionism of pro-democracy advocates and end in downtown Baghdad today.
Source: New York Times. July 4, 2006
- US in $80m 'Cuba democracy' plan
- US President George W Bush has approved an $80m (£43m) fund which he says will go towards boosting democracy in Cuba.
- Mr Bush said the fund would help the Cuban people in their "transition from repressive control to freedom".
- The fund is part of proposals by a commission analysing US policy towards Cuba after the eventual death of Fidel Castro, who turns 80 next month.
- The Cuban government said the plan was an act of aggression, violating Cuba's sovereignty and international law.
- The president of Cuba's National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon, said the world should be outraged by the actions of the US.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
The Obese and the Rest of Us
Few weeks back a woman friend said I had a hang up about fat people and was unfair in my comments about them. Both of us are thin. Thinking about her comments I had to admit to myself that she was right. I have stopped being critical or, rather, I stop myself from being critical about those who are obese. I no longer contemptuously think that they are responsible for their condition.
- So is fat the new race? I don't believe that it is, though it could become so in the future. But that's not to say that thinking about it in these terms isn't a useful corrective. If we're allowed to want fat people to lose weight, then they're allowed to want thin people to be kind - or, better still, blind. Best not to forget, then, where we started - with a woman walking down a street, feeling as though she might as well be stark naked.
- 'I know ... that when a thin person looks at a fat person, the thin person considers the fat person less virtuous than he,' writes Judith Moore in her memoir, Fat Girl. 'The fat person lacks willpower, pride, this wretched attitude, "self-esteem", and does not care about friends and family because if he or she did care about friends and family, he or she would not wander the earth looking like a repulsive sow, rhinoceros, hippo, elephant, general wide-mawed flesh-flopping flabby monster.'
- Imagine feeling like that. Think before you click your tongue against the roof of your mouth.