Monday, August 07, 2006



Forwarded from Ron Mills

A massive, 91-page memo to Senate Republicans outlining strategies for "homestretch" campaigning during the August recess.

For News And Commentary:


Forwarded from Ron Mills

Conyers releases BIG ASS report: The Constitution in Crisis

It's over 350 pages of Bush White House and Republican Constitutional abuses.

The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception,
Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War, and
Illegal Domestic Surveillance

Read Report:


A Bad Status Quo
We Must Address the Roots of the Mideast Crisis

By John Waterbury
Monday, August 7, 2006; A15

BEIRUT -- Unfortunately, it is all connected: Hezbollah, Israel, Palestine,Syria, Iran and, indeed, Iraq. One cannot "solve" the Hezbollah problemwithout coming to terms with all the pieces. Anyone who has dealt with thesuccessive Middle East crises over several decades knows there is a kind ofinfinite regress of cause and effect. I cut into the process somewhatarbitrarily in 1967.

Next June will be the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War. Six days and 40years. I wonder if, at the end of formal combat in 1967, Moshe Dayandeclared "mission accomplished."

Out of the Israeli triumph of 1967 there emerged a status quo that hasprevailed with some modifications ever since, and no matter howunsatisfactory, the international system prefers the status quo to change.

Israel has had a distinct preference for the status quo, founded onconventional military superiority over all its neighbors and some strategicdepth through its retaining the occupied territories.


Hugo Chavez: the Next Castro?

By Ibsen Martínez
Sunday, August 6, 2006; B01

CARACAS, Venezuela

The democratic opposition in Cuba and abroad looks to the island's new day,without Fidel Castro at the helm, as a moment of transition. But Castro andhis regime's apparatchiks refer instead to a "succession," as though livingin a monarchy. Nearly 200 years after Latin American nations began winningindependence from imperial Spain, and on a continent that has produced so
many wondrous novels about deteriorating despots succumbing to the perils ofabsolute power, it seems we still can't let go of our kings.

The only problem with succession planning, of course, is that dead dictatorscan rarely stick around to supervise their elaborate designs. Today, thingsin Havana seem to be developing much as the ailing Castro desires, withyounger brother Raúl assuming control. Nevertheless, the Shakespearean logicof royal successions suggests that more than one duke of Gloucester will try
to crown himself Richard III. The extraordinary difference in this case isthat not all the dukes vying to succeed Castro can be found in Cuba. To the south, across the Caribbean, another duke has emerged: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.


August 3, 2006

Evolution Fight Shifts Direction in Kansas Vote

TOPEKA, Kan., Aug. 2 - Less than a year after the Kansas Board of Educationadopted science standards that were the most wide-reaching in the nation inchallenging Darwin's theory of evolution, voters on Tuesday ousted theconservative majority on the board that favored those guidelines.

Several of the winners in the primary election, whose victories arevirtually certain to shift the board to at least a 6-to-4 moderate majorityin November, promised Wednesday to work swiftly to restore a sciencecurriculum that does not subject evolution to critical attack.

They also said they would try to eliminate restrictions on sex educationpassed by the current board and to review the status of the educationcommissioner, Bob Corkins, who they said was hired last year with littlebackground in education.

In a state where a fierce fight over how much students should be taughtabout the criticism of evolution has gone back and forth since 1999, theelection results were seen as a significant defeat for the movement of intelligent design, which holds that nature by itself cannot account for life's complexity.


Chávez's War of Words

By Jackson Diehl
Monday, August 7, 2006; A15

Last week Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held a news conference at which he launched into a vitriolic denunciation of Israel, "the usurperZionist regime," for its bombing of civilians in Lebanon. For a politicianwho has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and called for Israel's extinction,it was pretty routine stuff.

Then the visiting head of state standing next to Ahmadinejad piped up. "Do they want war because they have the devil inside them?" demanded VenezuelanPresident Hugo Chávez, speaking of the Jewish state. "I say to them fromhere, from Iran, once and a thousand times: Murderers! Cowards! Frankly,their fate has been sealed, from the depths of the people's soul."

No wonder Ahmadinejad had just described Chávez as a "brother and trenchmate." But the Venezuelan wasn't finished. Israel's acts, he said, remindedhim of a time when Simon Bolivar had invoked the story of Cain and Abel to talk about an enemy. "Bolivar said that day: 'God, if you have justice, throw a lightning bolt at the monsters,' " Chávez pronounced. "I would say
today: 'God, throw the lightning bolts at the monsters.' Inshallah ."


A Trickle Out Of The Republican Party

Aug. 5, 2006

(The American Prospect) This column was written by Benjamin Weyl.

What's the matter with Kansas Republicans? In a state where Bush capturedover 60 percent of the vote in 2004, a tiny revolution is taking place, withmore and more Republicans running as Democrats in state elections. Itsripples may be spreading throughout the country.

This November, nine former Kansas Republicans are running as Democrats,including one for the office of lieutenant governor and another for that ofattorney general. For years, moderates and conservatives have been battlingwithin the Kansas Republican Party, mostly over social issues such asabortion and evolution. As moderates get pushed out, they sometimes wind up with a 'D' next to their name.

"It was a drip, now it's a trickle," says Joe Aistrup, head of thedepartment of political science at Kansas State University. Mark Parkinsonis part of that trickle. Parkinson chaired the state GOP from 1999 to 2003but is now running as the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.
"They were fixated on ideological issues that really don't matter to people'severyday lives," he told the London Observer in June. "What matters isimproving schools and creating jobs. I got tired of the theological debateover whether Charles Darwin was right."



Why a bigot should confront being a bigot


Here's how I see it:

An excess of alcohol, like an excess of money, does not change a personalityso much as magnify it. Booze and wealth make you more of whatever it is youalready are, bring to the fore demons ordinarily kept under lock and key bycivility, political correctness and plain old common sense. Which brings usto Mel Gibson and his dual apologies for the anti-Semitic rant he launched
last week as he was arrested for drunken driving.

As public expressions of remorse go, Gibson's get high marks for earnestness.

God bless him for calling his comments vitriolic.

God bless him for seeking treatment for his alcoholism.

God bless him for reaching out to the Jewish community.

God bless him, in fact, for every thing he said. Everything but this: ``Please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not abigot.''

Beg pardon, but yes, he most certainly is. What was it he asked sheriff'sDeputy James Mee? ''Are you a Jew? F---ing Jews. The Jews are responsiblefor all the wars in the world.'' Sorry, Mel, case closed.



Bush and Iraq: a happy bubble of self-delusion


I write this in order to say I told you so.

Not for me. Well, maybe a little bit for me. But also for some people whowould probably never publicly say it for themselves. As a general rule, goodsoldiers toiling on government payrolls don't do that sort of thing. Columnists toiling on newspaper payrolls, however, do.

Two years ago, the National Intelligence Council produced and presented toPresident Bush a 50-page report on the future of Iraq.Its forecast: continued instability and a possibility of civil war. Thepresident's response to these dire prognostications? ``They were justguessing as to what the conditions might be like.''

That's what he told reporters, that the best thinking of the best minds onthe most pressing item on the American agenda amounted to ''just guessing.''Later, Bush corrected himself, saying he should have used the word''estimating'' instead, but who can doubt that the initial reaction, the
off-the-cuff dismissal of information he didn't care to believe, reflects the man's truest character?


MoveOn hopes to claim its first victories in 2006 races
By David Espo, AP Special Correspondent | August 7, 2006

HARTFORD, Conn. --Other than the candidates, no one has more riding on this week's Connecticut Democratic Senate primary than, a liberalorganization at the edgy intersection of politics and the Internet.

With victory for Ned Lamont, the group can claim a role in helping ananti-war challenger dump Sen. Joe Lieberman, who supports President Bush's policy in Iraq and has the backing of the Democratic establishment.

A come-from-behind win for Lieberman would mark yet another setback for MoveOn in its parallel campaign -- to strengthen its credentials as a forceto be heeded by Democrats as they seek congressional majorities this fall.

"The bottom line is: We and our members think you get there by boldlystanding up on the most important issues that we face, on Iraq, on energypolicy and on health care," says Eli Pariser, the group's 25-year-oldexecutive director. "Some in the party, and Joe Lieberman for sure, don't
think that's a winning strategy."

To say that MoveOn represents a departure from traditional political activity is an understatement.

Its political organization claims more than 3 million members, communicates through e-mail alerts, charges no dues and holds no national conventions.


Key to energy reform: Let our oil prices soar

It will take tough love and market realism to spur alternatives to America's
dependency on petroleum

Dennis Byrne, a Chicago-area writer and consultant

August 7, 2006

I'm rootin' for higher gas and oil prices.
And honest environmentalists would admit that they are too.

Am I insane? No more insane than folks who would wait until the oil gauge ison empty and gasoline is at $80 a gallon. Having higher oil prices now isthe only way to brake oil consumption and develop other ways to fuelAmerica. No amount of government decrees will do it. No recycling orconservation. No appeals to give up Humvees and other rolling tanks. Money
being the biggest economic motivator, $5- to $10-a-gallon gasoline would becrippling now to a world economy built on oil. But it would be the only wayto set off an energy revolution of the sort that changed American in the mid-1800s when we began our oil dependency.


McCain: The Vice Candidate

Aug. 5, 2006

(National Review Online) This column was written by Kathryn Jean Lopez.

The vice president usually has an edge going into the primaries because he'sclose enough to the president to associate himself with the credibility thatcomes with being leader of the free world, and just far enough away todistance himself from full responsibility for unpopular presidential
decisions. But in the absence of a Cheney 2008 charge at the White House, asubstitute VPOTUS-like candidate has emerged. I don't know if running as theVPOTUS-like candidate will work for John McCain, but it has its advantages.The key thing? While having some pretty extreme differences here and there,he can latch onto something reassuring at a time of war: experience andcontinuity.

Speaking at the conservative Manhattan Institute in New York City recently -a very unofficial pre-primary primary venue (Mitt Romney and Rudy Giulianihave dropped by in recent months) - the Vietnam vet and former prisoner ofwar was clear and adamant about the War on Terror. For him, this war is aunified whole: Not just discrete campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, but thereason for Israel's pounding at Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the reason Syriashouldn't be off the radar. He noted that Israel's enemy is "also dedicatedto the destruction of the United States of America." That's a crucial thingto get and McCain gets it. And that could mean a lot come November 2008.


Here's what's robust and surging -- my confusion
Ralph De La Cruz
Lifestyle Columnist

August 1, 2006

Life by the numbers ... that don't add up.

Mercer Human Resources Consulting reported Thursday that their annual survey of employers shows the average American worker will be getting a 3.7 percentraise in 2007.

Yeeesss. All right. High-five.

But wait. Before you pick up the noisemakers and uncork the $8 bottle ofchampagne, consider that the Consumer Price Index -- kicked in the butt byrecord gas prices -- is expected to increase by 4.7 percent in the sameperiod. That means it'll actually be more like a 1 percent pay cut.

Which is probably why three-quarters of the American public, according to aWall Street Journal/NBC News poll released the same day, feel uneasy aboutthe economy -- much to the chagrin of Wall Street types, who for the pastfew years have been using words such as "robust" and "surging" to describeour economy.


Birth Control

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

August 7, 2006

ISSUE: The FDA pulls Plan B out of limbo.

News that the Food and Drug Administration may make Plan B available forover-the-counter sale to women 18 and older should come as welcome relief,especially after the application spent years being held hostage by politics.But given the agency's unusual history of gamesmanship on the topic, women'shealth advocates are right to view this sudden about-face with suspicion and

The announcement's timing was conspicuous: 24 hours before Dr. Andrew vonEschenbach's nomination as FDA chief was scheduled before a Senatecommittee, and a year after a decision on the contraceptive's approval waspostponed indefinitely. It is no small detail that two senators have blockedthe nomination pending a Plan B decision.


The New York Times

August 7, 2006

Lieberman Confronts Anti - War Criticism
Filed at 9:01 a.m. ET

EAST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- Facing intense pressure in his bid for the Democratic primary, Sen. Joe Lieberman strongly distanced himself from President Bush, saying he opposed the White House's domestic agenda and its handling of the Iraq war.

''I am the only Democrat in America to run against George Bush in a national election twice,'' Lieberman told supporters at a rally Sunday. ''You know why I ran for president in 2004? Because I believe that his agenda was wrong for our country and our future. And that's the truth.''

Meanwhile, a poll out Monday suggested the race may be tightening. Lieberman, a three-term incumbent and his party's vice presidential candidate in 2000, has been dogged by liberal Democrats angry at him for supporting the war in Iraq.


The New York Times

August 7, 2006

Cease-Fire Draft at U.N. Falters Amid Arab Criticism

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 6 - Efforts to speed adoption of a draft resolution to halt the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah faltered at the United Nations on Sunday while sharp criticism of the measure rang out across the Middle East.

The Security Council, despite enormous pressure to take action in a war that has raged unchecked for 26 days, failed to hold an expected meeting to discuss the measure and schedule a vote. France and the United States, which announced agreement on the draft on Saturday, plunged into renewed negotiations to meet objections to crucial terms of the proposal offered in
amendments by Lebanon and by Qatar, the Arab representative on the Council.

The stalling of progress at the United Nations reflected an outpouring of condemnation across the Middle East, demonstrating a conviction that the proposed resolution spoke to all of Israel's demands, backed by the United States, without addressing those of Hezbollah.

The resolution, worked out after a week of intensive talks between Paris and Washington, calls for a truce, asks the current United Nations peacekeeping force to monitor the border area and lays out a plan for a permanent cease-fire and political settlement. But while it called for immediate cessations of "all attacks" by Hezbollah and "offensive military operations" by Israel, it did not require Israeli troops to leave southern Lebanon.


The New York Times

August 7, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

The Iraq War Enablers

So there was Hillary Rodham Clinton grandstanding for the television cameras last week, giving Donald Rumsfeld a carefully scripted chewing out for his role in the Bush administration's lunatic war in Iraq.

Casual viewers could have been forgiven for not realizing that Senator Clinton has long been a supporter of this war, and that even now, with the number of pointless American deaths moving toward 2,600, her primary goal apparently is not to find an end game, but to figure out the most expedient political position to adopt - the one that will do the least damage to her presidential ambitions.

Mrs. Clinton is trying to have it both ways. A couple of months ago, she told a gathering in Washington: "I do not think it is a smart strategy either for the president to continue with his open-ended commitment, which I think does not put enough pressure on the new Iraqi government." She then added, "Nor do I think it is smart strategy to set a date certain."

Slick Willie has morphed into Slick Hilly, as the carnival of death in Iraq goes on.