Thursday, July 20, 2006



The Washington Post

No Shame, No Sense and a $296 Billion Bill

By Robert J. Samuelson
Thursday, July 20, 2006; A23

For those who believe our leading politicians are utterly shameless, there
was dreary confirmation last week. President Bush publicly bragged about the
federal budget. Here's the objective situation that inspired the president's
self-congratulation: With the unemployment rate at 4.6 percent (close to
"full employment" by anyone's definition), the White House and Congress
still can't balance the budget. For fiscal 2006, which ends in September,
the administration projects a $296 billion deficit; for fiscal 2007, the
estimate is $339 billion. How could anyone boast about that?

Easy. In February the administration projected a $423 billion deficit for
2006, so the latest figure is a huge drop. A skeptic might say that the
first estimate was inept; some cynics argue that it was deliberately
exaggerated to magnify any subsequent improvement. Naturally the president
had a different story. The shrinking deficits, he said, proved that his tax
cuts are working. The economy is great; the budget benefits. All around
Washington, Republicans staged media events to hug themselves for their good


The Washington Post

End the Slow-Motion Diplomacy

By David Ignatius
Wednesday, July 19, 2006; A19

A week ago the United States was struggling with two wars: the one it was
fighting in Iraq and the one it hoped to avoid against Iran by maintaining a
solid coalition to stop its nuclear program. Then came Hezbollah's
kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and the ferocious Israeli response, and, as
strategists in Tehran must have anticipated, this third war complicated
America's strategy on the other two fronts.

The Hezbollah war has certainly clarified the threat from Iran and its
proxies. Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah has shown himself as a reckless,
self-appointed guardian of Lebanon whose actions threaten the Lebanese as
much as they do the Israelis. Unfortunately, Israel's retaliation has
undermined (to put it mildly) the Lebanese government of Fuad Siniora, whose
reformist Cedar Revolution was, until a week ago, one of the few bright
spots in the region.


The Washington Post

Barney Frank's Reminder
Congress Is Meant For Oversight, Not Afterthought

By David S. Broder
Thursday, July 20, 2006; A23

Forgive me, please, for not writing about the war in the Middle East. It is
the most important topic of the day, but I have nothing to add to the
lamentations and exhortations that have filled newspaper columns since it
started last week. And a speech was given in the House of Representatives on
July 13 that deserves more attention than the international crisis allowed
the media to give it.

The speaker was Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the exceptionally bright
liberal who has long been a respected voice in Democratic debates. His
subject was the Bush presidency.

Frank began by separating himself from the strident voices on the left --
frequent in the world of blogging -- that accuse Bush of subverting American
democracy. "Some of the words that get thrown around, authoritarianism and
worse, should not be used lightly," Frank said. "This remains, in the sixth
year of the Bush presidency, a very free country."


The New York Times

July 20, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

The Fever Is Winning

It happened just over a year ago in Key West, of all places. We'd come down
for a conference organized by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, and
one afternoon two friends, Reuel Gerecht and Jeffrey Goldberg, squared off
for a debate on the prospects for democracy in the Middle East.

Gerecht and Goldberg are Americans whose fascination with Islam has taken
them to ridiculous places. Gerecht, a former member of the C.I.A.
clandestine service, spends an astonishing amount of time in spare rooms in
Middle East backwaters talking fatwas in klatches with bearded

Goldberg has lived in a madrasa in Pakistan. His pieces from inside
Hezbollah won a National Magazine Award for The New Yorker. In the fall he
has a book, "Prisoners," coming out about his time as a prison guard in the
Israeli Army, and his friendships with the Palestinian detainees.
Leading to Low Ground

"We are different from our enemy and we must remain so."
- Elisa Massimino

The United States had complete command of the moral and ethical high ground
in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. Most of the world was with us.

For some reason, the Bush administration deliberately abandoned those
heights to pursue policies that were not just morally questionable, but
reprehensible. Administration officials have fought like tigers to retain
the right to torture. They have imprisoned people willy-nilly, without
regard to whether they had actually committed offenses against the United
States. They set up a system of kangaroo courts at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba,
that was such an affront to the idea of justice that it should have sent
shudders of shame down the spines of decent Americans.

In fact, most Americans never bothered to notice.


The New York Times

July 20, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor

The Taliban's Silent Partner
Stockbridge, Mass.

WHEN the American-led coalition invaded Afghanistan five years ago,
pessimists warned that we would soon find ourselves in a similar situation
to what Soviet forces faced in the 1980's. They were wrong - but only about
the timing. The military operation was lean and lethal, and routed the
Taliban government in a few weeks. But now, just two years after Hamid
Karzai was elected as the country's first democratic leader, the coalition
finds itself, like its Soviet predecessors, in control of major cities and
towns, very weak in the villages, and besieged by a shadowy insurgency that
uses Pakistan as its rear base.

Our backing of an enlightened government in Kabul should put us in a far
stronger position than the Soviets in the fight to win back the hinterland.
But it may not, and for a good reason: the involvement of our other ally in
the region, Pakistan, in aiding the Taliban war machine is deeper than is
commonly thought.


The New York Times

July 20, 2006

Advocate for China's Weak Crosses the Powerful
BEIJING, July 19 - Only a few years ago, Chen Guangcheng, a blind man who
taught himself the law, was hailed as a champion of peasant rights who
symbolized China's growing embrace of legal norms.

Mr. Chen helped other people with disabilities avoid illegal fees and taxes.
He forced a paper mill to stop spewing toxic chemicals into his village's
river. The authorities in his home province, Shandong, considered him a
propaganda coup and broadcast clips from his wedding ceremony on television.

All that changed last year, when he organized a rare class-action lawsuit
against the local government for forcing peasants to have late-term
abortions and be sterilized. Mr. Chen, 35, is now a symbol of something
else: the tendency of Communist Party officials to use legal pretexts to
crush dissent.


The New York Times

July 20, 2006

Tap-Dancing as Fast as He Can

This is how President Bush keeps his promise to deal with Congress in good
faith on issues of national security and the balance of powers: He sends the
attorney general to the Senate Judiciary Committee to stonewall, obfuscate
and spin fairy tales.

Testifying on Tuesday after months of refusing to show up, Alberto Gonzales
dodged questions about President Bush's warrantless wiretapping operation.
He refused to say whether it was the only time that Mr. Bush had chosen to
ignore the 1978 law on electronic eavesdropping. In particular, he would not
say whether it was true that the government had accumulated large amounts of
data on Americans' routine telephone calls. "The programs and activities you
ask about, to the extent that they exist, would be highly classified," Mr.
Gonzales intoned.

Mr. Gonzales did answer when he was asked who had derailed a Justice
Department investigation, requested by Congress, into Mr. Bush's decision to
authorize the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on phone calls and
e-mail without a warrant. Mr. Gonzales said that Mr. Bush himself did it, by
refusing to grant the needed security clearances to the lawyers involved.


GOP Lawmakers Edge Away From Optimism on Iraq

By Jonathan Weisman and Anushka Asthana
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 20, 2006; A01

Faced with almost daily reports of sectarian carnage in Iraq, congressional
Republicans are shifting their message on the war from speaking
optimistically of progress to acknowledging the difficulty of the mission
and pointing up mistakes in planning and execution.

Rep. Christopher Shays (Conn.) is using his House Government Reform
subcommittee on national security to vent criticism of the White House's war
strategy and new estimates of the monetary cost of the war. Rep. Gil
Gutknecht (Minn.), once a strong supporter of the war, returned from Iraq
this week declaring that conditions in Baghdad were far worse "than we'd
been led to believe" and urging that troop withdrawals begin immediately.

And freshman Sen. John Thune (S.D.) told reporters at the National Press
Club that if he were running for reelection this year, "you obviously don't
embrace the president and his agenda."

"The first thing I'd do is acknowledge that there have been mistakes made,"
Thune said.



Bush and the NAACP
July 20, 2006

WHEN THE presidency of George W. Bush enters the history books, he won't be
remembered as a leader who helped bridge the nation's racial divide. For all
Bush's talk of being a uniter, this has been a presidency stained by a
weakening of the Justice Department's civil rights arm, threats to minority
voting rights, and the ugly racial undercurrents of Hurricane Katrina. In
his record on race, one blemish has separated Bush from every president
since Herbert Hoover: During his time in office, he has rejected invitations
to address the oldest and most recognized civil rights organization, the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

That distinction will end today, when Bush, after months of negotiations
between NAACP leaders and the White House, will address the group in
Washington. It's doubtless no coincidence that the thawing of relations
comes in an election year and at a time when Bush enters legacy mode in the
twilight of his presidency. But after six years of bad blood between him and
one of black America's leading voices, this is a detente that is long


Survey: Bloggers Are Young Internet Users

WASHINGTON, Jul. 19, 2006

(AP) Bloggers are a predominantly young group of Internet users who are
novice storytellers, enjoy describing their own experiences and have a
growing audience in the online world.

A glimpse of this group was put together by the Pew Internet & American Life

The survey found that almost one in 10 Internet users are bloggers and the
audience for this group of online diarists is growing.

Almost four in 10 of the approximately 147 million adult Internet users in
this country say they read blogs.


Bush's Poverty Talk Is Now All but Silent
Aiding Poor Was Brief Priority After Katrina

By Michael A. Fletcher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 20, 2006; A04

Poverty forced its way to the top of President Bush's agenda in the
confusing days after Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast and flooded
New Orleans. Confronted with one of the most pressing political crises of
his presidency, Bush, who in the past had faced withering criticism for
speaking little about the poor, said the nation has a solemn duty to help

"All of us saw on television, there's . . . some deep, persistent poverty in
this region," he said in a prime-time speech from New Orleans's Jackson
Square, 17 days after the Aug. 29 hurricane. "That poverty has roots in a
history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the
opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold


Reed's defeat raises questions on future
By Greg Bluestein, Associated Press Writer | July 19, 2006

ATLANTA --Before the last of Ralph Reed's campaign signs were stripped from
the swank hotel where he watched his election collapse, his supporters
huddled in small circles to quietly discuss his political future.

They weren't the only ones wondering what's next for the 45-year-old former
Christian Coalition leader, famous for helping lead conservative Republicans
to nationwide victory but unable to win Georgia's No. 2 job.

Some say Reed's ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his convincing
defeat at the hands of little-known state Sen. Casey Cagle will force him to
return to the behind-the-scenes strategizing that made him famous.


Bush Rates Lower With Spanish-Speaking Voters

By David S. Broder and Zachary A. Goldfarb
Thursday, July 20, 2006; A07

A new poll of Spanish-speaking voters shows significant damage to the
standing of President Bush and the Republican Party as a consequence of the
debate over immigration policy.

The survey, paid for by the NDN, an affiliate of the Democratic Party,
questioned 600 registered Hispanic voters for whom Spanish is the dominant
language, in the last week of June. Spanish-dominant voters make up about
half the Hispanic bloc and about 5 percent of the total electorate.

Bush had boosted the Republican share of the overall Hispanic vote to 40
percent in 2004, with almost all his gains coming among the Spanish-speaking
voters. When the Spanish speakers were asked in this survey how they would
now vote, John Kerry led Bush, 59 percent to 23 percent -- far better than
the 52 percent to 48 percent showing Kerry achieved among Spanish speakers
in 2004.


The Washington Post Company

U.S. at Odds With Allies on Mideast Conflict
Citing Civilian Casualties, European Nations and U.N. Eager for Cease-Fire

By Robin Wright and Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 20, 2006; A17

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.

"What there needs to be now is a cessation of hostilities," U.N. Deputy
Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown told reporters yesterday. "The Middle
East is littered with the results of people believing there are military
solutions to political problems in the region." He said civilians are "very
unfairly bearing the greatest brunt of the conflict."


From: Ron Mills

While Beirut Burns

"We have a conflagration in the Middle East, we have raised the debt ceiling
four times to $9 trillion, and this is how the Republican congressional
leadership chooses to spend its time?"

That's because so much of the legislative agenda this year is about making
points, not policy. The Senate yesterday passed legislation to expand
embryonic stem-cell research, even thought it faces a presidential veto.
While the House was debating marriage yesterday, a Judiciary subcommittee
held a hearing titled "Should We Embrace the Senate's Grant of Amnesty to
Millions of Illegal Aliens and Repeat the Mistakes of the Immigration Reform
and Control Act of 1986?" Tomorrow, the House takes up legislation to
protect the Pledge of Allegiance.

3rd Circuit: Erotic Dancing in Bars Not Protected Speech
Wednesday July 19, 2:57 am ET
Shannon P. Duffy, The Legal Intelligencer

Lap dancing in bars is not protected by the First Amendment, the 3rd U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled, rejecting an Atlantic City tavern's
challenge of the constitutionality of a New Jersey regulation that prohibits
"any lewdness or immoral activity" on liquor-licensed premises.

Lawyers for the Moulin Rouge bar argued that the regulation is "vague" and
"overbroad," and that it should not be applied to erotic dancers who wear
bikini tops and bottoms.

Court papers show that the bar was hit with fines when police saw dancers
rubbing their breasts and groins while onstage and straddling a patron to
simulate sexual intercourse.


Republicans Unveil School Voucher Plan

The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 18, 2006; 3:57 PM

WASHINGTON -- Congressional Republicans on Tuesday proposed a $100 million
plan to let poor children leave struggling schools and attend private
schools at public expense.

The voucher idea is one in a series of social conservative issues meant to
energize the Republican base as midterm elections approach. In announcing
their bills, House and Senate sponsors acknowledged that Congress likely
won't even vote on the legislation this year.

Still, the move signals a significant education fight to come. GOP lawmakers
plan to try to work their voucher plan into the No Child Left Behind law
when it is updated in 2007.


Gay Marriage Is Love; Why Are Chuck, Hillary Skittish on the Topic?

By: Ron Rosenbaum
Date: 7/24/2006

It's always seemed to me that groups that have suffered from
discrimination-Jews, women, people of color, for instance-have a special
responsibility to speak out on behalf of other groups still suffering from
bias. And that Senators from New York State have a special responsibility to
take a leadership role in that fight. So ....

Chuck, Hillary, where's the profile in courage? Could somebody explain this
to me? I really want to know: Why is it that New York State's two liberal
Senators have refused to come out in favor of same-sex marriage rights? Yes,
they support civil unions, partnership health benefits, hospital visits-all
admirable. But without marriage rights, it's second-class citizenship.
Separate and unequal.


From the Los Angeles Times
A First Veto for This?

After six-plus years, the president finally finds his pen. Too bad it was
for a good bill.

July 20, 2006

IN 5-1/2 YEARS AS PRESIDENT, George W. Bush has seen more than 1,100 bills
cross his desk. Some were good pieces of law. Some were shortsighted and
silly, and many flat-out contradicted the president's own stated values,
especially in the areas of fiscal prudence and free trade. He held his nose
and signed them anyway.

On Wednesday, after the longest veto-free streak since Thomas Jefferson,
Bush wiped the cobwebs from his veto pen and finally wielded a president's
most potent legislative weapon. To which there can only be two responses:
It's about time - and he shouldn't have.


In First Veto, Bush Blocks Stem Cell Bill

By Bill Brubaker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 19, 2006; 4:56 PM

President Bush today used the first veto of his presidency to stop
legislation that would have lifted restrictions on federally funded human
embryonic stem cell research.

"This bill would support the taking of innocent human life in the hope of
finding medical benefits for others," Bush said at the White House,
following through on his promise to veto the bill. "It crosses a moral
boundary that our decent society needs to respect. So I vetoed it."

The Senate voted 63 to 37 yesterday to approve a bill, passed by the House
last year, that would allow spending for research on stem cell lines derived
from frozen embryos that are stored at fertility clinics and slated for


Studies show young women becoming more violent with partners

Associated Press

July 19, 2006, 11:49 AM EDT

MIAMI -- Marjorie Lamour's relationship with her boyfriend began fraying
with heated arguments over uncontrollable rages and jealousy issues. Soon
there was shoving, slapping and kicking. After the break up, the stalking
started _ phone calls, showing up unannounced, small gifts offered in hopes
of rekindling the relationship.

But Lamour was not the victim of abuse; she was its perpetrator. It wasn't
until her family intervened that Lamour realized she had a problem.


House OKs Bill Guarding Pledge From Courts

Associated Press Writer

July 19, 2006, 4:51 PM EDT

WASHINGTON -- The House, citing the nation's religious origins, voted
Wednesday to protect the Pledge of Allegiance from federal judges who might
try to stop schoolchildren and others from reciting it because of the phrase
"under God."

The legislation, a priority of social conservatives, passed 260-167. It now
goes to the Senate where its future is uncertain.

"We should not and cannot rewrite history to ignore our spiritual heritage,"
said Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn. "It surrounds us. It cries out for our country
to honor God."

Opponents said the legislation, which would bar federal courts from ruling
on the constitutional validity of the pledge, would undercut judicial
independence and would deny access to federal courts to religious minorities
seeking to defend their rights.