Friday, July 14, 2006

Hatfields and McCoys

I’ve been hesitant to comment on the latest fighting in the Middle East, knowing that when I do I will probably be attacked for being anti-Israel or some other such nonsense. But I am thoroughly disgusted right now with the Israeli response to the aggression from Hamas and Hezbollah.
Israel is the strongest and most developed country in the region, both economically and militarily, and thus they should be setting the example for others to follow. By this I mean that they should use more restraint in dealing with these militant groups yapping at their heels and not meet every provocation with an equal and more devestating provocation.
And yet Ehmud Olmert, the new Israeli PM, has let loose the dogs of war at the latest provocation by the militants on their border. Many people will say this is entirely justified, but I believe it will only further enflame tensions in the region and force Israel into an ever increasingly defensive posture. It is unfortunate, because Ariel Sharon would probably have had more leeway to use restraint, but it appears that Olmert feels it necessary to take the “eye for an eye” approach to a whole other level. I just have one question, though. When has “getting tough” like this ever worked to resolve all their problems in the past? I have no sympathy for the Hamas and Hezbollah militants, but wreaking havoc on the entire Lebanese population will only serve to radicalize that population as it has done to the Palestinians and will ultimately drive more and more people into the arms of the militants. Al Quaeda, I’m sure, is overjoyed at the prospect.

I essentially agree with this commenter from TPM:

The larger points in the current Israel/Palestine/Lebanon crisis are two: Olmert's apparent lack of "maturity" as PM for lack of a better word, and seeming inability to measure his govt's response, has escalated the situation close to a point of no return. Given the harsh rhetoric and extreme measures being taken it appears the the situation is being run by the war-makers in the cabinet and there seems to be no countervailing voice of reason, moderation or diplomacy. The other is that the crisis has exposed in stark relief the US' utter inability to influence the situation. Bush has nothing to offer, having bought wholesale into the rhetoric of "terror"-he can't ask for moderation, he can't use any bargaining chips, he can't bully Olmert in any of the ways his predecessors have done.

Bush’s response during this ordeal has been truly pathetic.
The most he will do is to meekly ask Israel to “try to limit civilian casualties” as they continue to step up their attacks.
“Hey guys, Try not to kill too many innocent civilians over there, OK? Thanks.”

Maybe someone else will step up to the plate and try and talk sense to these people. It’s obviously not going to come from this administration. We have done nothing to promote peace and stability in the Middle East and have, by contrast, only stirred the pot of resentment with our unprovoked invasion of Iraq.

Poll: Americans want Democrats in power

Woo Hoo!!

With less than four months to the midterm elections, the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that Americans by an almost 3-to-1 margin hold the GOP-controlled Congress in low regard and profess a desire to see Democrats wrest control after a dozen years of Republican rule.

Let’s just hope that this pans out on election day.

The same poll also shows President Bush’s approval rating has slipped back into the mid-30s after climbing briefly back up to the low-40s.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

We need a new law

So Robert Novak has now acknowledged publicly what Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald knew long ago, that White House consigliere Karl Rove was one of his sources for his infamous column that exposed one of our covert CIA operatives.
And yet, even knowing that Rove blabbed to Novak, Time Magazine’s Marc Cooper, and who knows how many other reporters, it still appears that he will not be charged in connection with this crime. How can that be?
The most obvious explanation is that Fitzgerald has determined that the law has so many provisions and loopholes in it that he cannot make a case stick against any of the conspirators for reasons he has yet to reveal. This has resulted in great fanfare in conservative circles (along with sighs of relief), but it should garner a different reaction from folks who care anything about the security of our nation. The law needs to be changed.
We cannot tolerate having our covert agents and their operations left vulnerable to exposure by politically malevolent presidential administrations in the future. Once the outcome of this case is final, we will need to draft a new law to better protect our covert operatives so that they will never again become pawns in a vengeful political game.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tangled Up Tubes

Sen. Ted Stevens, the Octogenarian Republican from Alaska, gave a hilarious reason last week for why he is opposed to net neutrality.

Now, Steven’s explanation has been immortalized for all time in a remix version set to some snazzy electronica music.

Who’s on First?

The American League has won eight straight All Star Games since 1996 and it looks like they will win another one tonight.
Here is the lineup:

American League
Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners, RF
Derek Jeter, Yankees, SS
David Ortiz, Red Sox, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, 3B
Vladimir Guerrero, Angels, LF
Ivan Rodriguez, Tigers, C
Vernon Wells, Blue Jays, CF
Mark Loretta, Red Sox, 2B
Kenny Rogers, Tigers, P
National League
Alfonso Soriano, Nationals, LF
Carlos Beltran, Mets, CF
Albert Pujols, Cardinals, 1B
Jason Bay, Pirates, RF
Edgar Renteria, Braves, SS
David Wright, Mets, 3B
Chase Utley, Phillies, 2B
Paul Lo Duca, Mets, C
Brad Penny, Dodgers, P

I’m not even familiar with half the players on the National League team. I’m also disappointed that the defending National League Champion Houston Astros are not represented in the starting lineup. Of course, the World Series Champion Chicago White Sox were likewise shut out of the starting lineup for the American League.
But the lineup the American League does have looks like a modern update of Murderer's Row.
The Post article notes that since MLB began awarding homefield advantage for the World Series to the winner of the contest, the American League has dominated the series and swept the World Series the last two years.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Conservatives heart Kennedy-McCain

Conservatives are rallying behind Ted Kennedy on immigration reform.
Yes, you read that right.

A group of 31 prominent conservatives signed an opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal that essentially agrees with the major tenants of the Kennedy- McCain Immigration Bill.

Funny how these pro-immigration conservatives have to run in tight packs like this to keep from being picked off one-by-one by the ravenous anti-immigrant hyenas of the far-right. They also try and couch their support for rational, common-sense immigration reform as if it were blessed in advance by Saint Ronny himself.

Unfortunately, this Congress has already squandered its best opportunity to get immigration reform legislation passed this year before we slouch into the mid-term election cycle.

Do nothing Congress

I suppose with the group of right-wing yahoos currently running things in Washington, this is pretty much a blessing: Congress has many unfinished tasks.

US lawmakers returning today from a weeklong break will resume work on a long list of unfinished -- and possibly insurmountable -- tasks that could help decide whether voters will reelect them in November.

I’m not sure who other than sadomasochists could possibly justify returning these Republicans to office in November. Even a hardline conservatives like former House Republican leader Dick Armey is disgusted by this Congress’ inability to get anything done.

``I'm not sure what this Congress has accomplished," said Dick Armey, who is now with FreedomWorks, which advocates lower taxes and less government.

In the first two-thirds of the 2006 legislative session, the Boston Globe reports, Congress has passed two major bills: renewal of the Patriot Act and an extension of $70 billion in federal tax cuts. That’s it. What a pathetic record of non-accomplishment. Political scientist Larry Sabato sums things up pretty well:

``Historically, this is certainly not a Congress that will be remembered," said Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. ``There is just not much there."

Instead of tackling serious issues like the dozen spending bills that have to be addressed by Oct. 1 or legislation needed to shore up pension protections for 44 million workers, we have watched lawmakers waste time posturing over flag burning amendments and gay marriage.
Republican lawmakers should be happy that they are not working in the private sector or else they would have been laid off a long time ago.

Nothing to brag about

Think Progress spells out what should be obvious to everyone. The Bush administration has presided over an anemic economy while at the same time exploding our national deficit. Recent efforts by the administration to put their economic accomplishments in a good light suddenly pale when placed in the proper context.

Let’s set aside for a moment that the “fact sheet” conveniently ignores the 22 months of jobs losses that proceeded August 2003. Instead, let’s put Bush’s job record since August 2003 in perspective:

1. Monthly job growth since August 2003 is 50% lower than the average of President Clinton’s entire term. Since August 2003, job growth has averaged 160,000 per month. During Clinton’s eight years in office job growth averaged 236,000 per month.
2. Real wages have fallen since August 2003. The average worker’s real wages were twenty cents lower in June 2006 than they were in August 2003.

Any way you slice it, Bush’s economic policy has resulted in slower job growth and lower wages. That’s nothing to brag about.