Saturday, July 22, 2006

Just an appearance?

The US is speeding up delivery of bombs to Israel. Nice.
he 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.

Please. The "appearance" that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign? Is the NY Times so cowed that they can't say the truth straight out?

Of course we're aiding them. We're giving them arms and the money to pay for them, and we've blocked any and all efforts by the international community to get a cease fire. For fuck's sake. Quit pussy footing around reality.

I suppose the Cheney administration thinks the situation needs a little more clarity. Not enough bouncing rubble or corpses yet.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday kitty blogging

The best lion kitty in the world. In all his whiskery glory.

False Promise

Via CNN breaking news banner:
"U.S. Secretary of State Rice says a cease-fire would be a "false promise" if it simply returns Israel and Lebanon to the "status quo.""
July 21, 2006

Of course. It would be a false promise to the Lebanese that they might actually survive this catastrophe. They obviously haven't had enough "clarity" yet to be ready for a cease-fire. Rice will let them know when the rubble has bounced high enough. What's next? a quote from Rice on how, "no one could have imagined that so many civilians would be killed by bombs."?

Another goddamned day when I am horrified to be an american.

More Clarity

AP/Mohammed Zaatari

Billmon links to a Washington Post story that illustrates something I wrote about a few days ago. In Mideast Strife, Bush Sees A Step to Peace. Billmon excerpts this quote:
One former senior administration official said Bush is only emboldened by the pressure from U.N. officials and European leaders to lead a call for a cease-fire . . . "He thinks he is playing in a longer-term game than the tacticians," said the former official, who spoke anonymously so he could discuss his views candidly. "The tacticians would say: 'Get an immediate cease-fire. Deal first with the humanitarian factors.' The president would say: 'You have an opportunity to really grind down Hezbollah. Let's take it, even if there are other serious consequences that will have to be managed.' "

Nice. Serious consequences that have to be "managed."

I think this quote is even more illustrative:
"The president believes that unless you address the root causes of the violence that has afflicted the Middle East, you cannot forge a lasting peace," said White House counselor Dan Bartlett. "He mourns the loss of every life. Yet out of this tragic development, he believes a moment of clarity has arrived."

Does that sound familiar? As I noted a few days ago, this view isn't new.
"The President, in fact, had said in the first NSC principals meeting of his administration that Clinton had overreached at the end of his second term, bending too much toward Yasser Arafat - who then broke off productive Camp David negotiations at the final moment - and that "We're going to tilt back toward Israel." Powell, a chair away in the Situation Room that day, said such a move would reverse thirty years of U.S. policy and that it could unleash the new prime minister, Ariel Sharon, and the Israeli army in ways that could be dire for the Palestinians. Bush's response: "Sometimes a show of force by one side can really clarify things.""

The One Percent Doctrine
Ron Suskind

Remember that this was before 9/11. Billmon is right. Bush is a psychopath.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


AP/Jonathan Hayward

If I were Canadian, I might have seen this lovely sunset and I might not be so annoyed at my government today.

Welcome to the party, Pal.

Via TalkingPointsMemo, the WAPO reports that republicans on the hill are cautiously backing away from their previous protestations of PROGRESS!! in Iraq. GOP Lawmakers Edge Away From Optimism on Iraq
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.

I'm sorry, worse than who had been lead to believe? Doesn't the man read the papers? Are they really that delusional? Good grief.
The shift is subtle, but Republican lawmakers acknowledge that it is no longer tenable to say the news media are ignoring the good news in Iraq and painting an unfair picture of the war. In the first half of this year, 4,338 Iraqi civilians died violent deaths, according to a new report by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq. Last month alone, 3,149 civilians were killed -- an average of more than 100 a day.

"It's like after Katrina, when the secretary of homeland security was saying all those people weren't really stranded when we were all watching it on TV," said Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.). "I still hear about that. We can't look like we won't face reality."

What assholes. People are dying over there and they're worried about how it will affect them politically.

We broke Iraq and your party was cheerleading all the way. Live with it. And for once, take responsibility for what you've done.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Late night plushapalooza

Mr. Plushy wants to help his Aunt Vicki with her high blood pressure.


Via CNN, apparently the US has decided to give Israel the time they need to "defang" Hezbollah.
Senior administration officials said more time is needed to shape the diplomacy and to create conditions on the ground for a permanent change of the situation -- not merely a cease-fire. Israel needs time to "defang Hezbollah," said one of the officials, who asked not to be named in light of the ongoing diplomacy.

Allow me to translate, "We'll stop bombing when all of Lebanon looks like this:"

AP/Smaer Husseini

More Clarity

AFP/Qassem Zein

For the first time, we're hearing accurate reports of just how many civilians are dying in Iraq. The answer is, over 100 per day, and over 3,000 in June alone. The numbers are truly horrific. Just yesterday a suicide bomber killed 53 near a Shi'ite mosque and today 20 sunnis were abducted.

Our goverment is on the case though:
The American energy secretary, Samuel W. Bodman, who met with Iraq’s oil and electricity ministers in Baghdad, had a rosy view of progress here since his last visit in 2003.

“The situation seems far more stable than when I was here two or three years ago,” he said in an interview in the fortified Green Zone. “The security seems better, people are more relaxed. There is an optimism, at least among the people I talked to.”

Delusional to the last.

On a personal note, when I saw the photo above, I was immediate moved to tears. Of all the terrible photos I've looked at, this one struck me the hardest. There it is- all the terrible agony of war and the cost to the civilians caught in a war zone. What I hate the most is that our government, and our president, seem incapable of seeing these casualties for what they are- terrible tragedies visited on people who never asked us to come there.

They did not ask for this. What we have done to Iraq is monstrous.

Think about it. Over a hundred a day dead. Over a hundred families everyday shattered and in mourning. Billmon is right. Satan has a special place ready for Bush and his minions.

Plushy mind wipe

When all the news is bad, ease your fevered brains with a little plushy fix.

War is Bad. The End.

From CNN: Boys wounded in an Israeli warplane missile attack in Srifa, Lebanon, sit on hospital beds.

"Custer was a cunt. The End."

Calamity Jane
Deadwood: Episode 25

Israel is continuing its assault on Lebanon today, complete with gun battles on the ground with Hezbollah fighters. Via
More than 300 Lebanese have been killed and more than 1,000 injured after a week of Israeli airstrikes, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said in a televised address to the nation Wednesday.

Siniora denounced Israel, which he called "this savage war machine," and restated his call for a comprehensive cease-fire.

29 Israelis have died in the conflict so far. More than 500,000 people have been displaced in Lebanon while the U.S. looks away, whistling.

People who wage aerial war on civilian populations without regard to their lives are cunts. Plain and simple. The boys in that photograph are not terrorists.

Will anyone be surprised when they become terrorists in the future?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Late Night lion kitty

Mr. Plushy!!

Something beautiful

AP/Larry Price

"The sun sets over Conanicut Island as viewed from the Newport side of The Claiborne Pell Bridge in Rhode Island, in this August 2005 photo."

My mood is pretty bleak today, as all the news is infuriating. I've rarely been so angry with my government. So I went searching for something beautiful to take the edge off.

Promissory Note

It's official. US citizens being evacuated from Lebanon are being asked to sign a promissory note before the US will take them out of the war zone. Via CNN:
Before being evacuated on U.S.-chartered ships, Americans are being asked to sign promissory notes to repay the U.S. government for the journey.

That demand outraged House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who said the United States has an obligation to get citizens out of harm's way without "quibbling over payment."


White House spokesman Tony Snow said Tuesday that the payments -- or "reimbursements" -- to the State Department were mandated under the 2003 Foreign Relations Authorization Act passed by Congress.

Is that true? And if so, WTF?? Oh, right. The president can ignore law whenever he thinks it's convenient, but in this case, his hands are tied.

Update: As usual, it appears Tony Blow is speaking out of his ass. I googled the 2003 Foreign Relations Act and this is what I found:
Reimbursements for Emergency Overseas Evacuation. Section 201 would allow the State Department to seek reimbursements for the emergency evacuation of employees of the U.S. government, their dependents, private U.S. citizens, and foreign nationals. According to the department, this section of the bill codifies existing practice and would have no impact on the budget. (my emphasis)

From the Congressional Budget Office H.R. 1646, Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003, Pay as you go Estimate.

Mandated my centaur ass.


AFP/Oussama Ayoub

Israeli generals are saying the offensive will last only weeks, not months. (article here). I'm sure the Lebanese people are so relieved to hear that. But if the Israelis want the Lebanese army to take control, why are they targeting them?
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said talks are needed, although he offered no specifics on how to bring any of the parties to the bargaining table. Blair's office said he believed any cease-fire would have to include halting Hezbollah rocket fire into Israel and releasing two captured Israeli soldiers.

"Unless there is some negotiated process, then we're not going to be able to get a cessation of hostilities," Blair said.

The Lebanese base in Kfar Chima took a direct hit as troops rushed to bomb shelters, killing at least 11 soldiers and wounding 35, the Lebanese military said. The base is in a hilly area adjacent to Hezbollah strongholds in southern Beirut that have been frequently targeted by Israeli jets in recent days.

There was no indication why the base was hit, but Lebanese media suggested Israel may be trying to prevent the quick repair of previously destroyed bridges and roads.

The Lebanese army has largely stayed out of the fighting, confining itself to firing anti-aircraft guns at Israeli planes. But Israeli jets have often struck Lebanese army positions.

Not for nothing, but just what is going to be left of Lebanon to bomb after another week of this? It occurs to me that the Israelis have adopted Cheney's "One Percent Doctrine," deciding that there's a one percent chance that the Lebanese army or lebanese civilians will side will Hezbollah. Which makes it okay to bomb a sovereign nation into rubble.

I think I'm with Wolcott on this war:
You know what, I don't want to be an Israeli. Include me out. Pardon me for not wanting to be conscripted into the Israeli division of the 101st Fighting Wankers. I'm an American, a New Yorker, and a world citizen, and I don't see why empathy is supposed to reside exclusively on the Israeli side when Lebanese civilians are suffering so. Why I should identity with the humanity of those fleeing Haifa and not with those fleeing Beirut? Is this supposed to make me want to become an honorary Israeli?

"Israel struck at large numbers of targets on Sunday, and early Monday morning, that had nothing to do with Hezbollah. The far north of Lebanon is Sunni, as is the port of Tripoli, where the Israelis killed a Catholic Lebanese soldier. They also hit factories in north Beirut, not a Shiite area. They bombed a village near Zahle, a notorious center of Greek Orthodox, killing 3 civilians. The Israelis are either not very good shots, since they have murdered 140 civilians since Wednesday and only managed to kill about 17 Lebanese military personnel. Or they just don't give a damn." (via Juan Cole)

While I'm at it, let me just add that I agree with Professor Cole on this as well, here:
If the reports coming out of Lebanon can be believed, the Israelis are only sometimes striking known Hizbullah safe houses or facilities or missile emplacements. A lot of their bombardment appears aimed at punishing civilian populations and forcing them north to Beirut. Such an approach would help explain the high number of civilian casualties. That is, there may be an element of ethnic cleansing in Israeli tactics.

The situation is intolerable, as is our government's decision that civilian deaths are tolerable in pursuit of the bigger boogeyman.

We could pressure Israel to knock it off. But we won't. It's another day when I'm embarrassed to be an American.

Midday plushiness

He always looks annoyed these days, doesn't he? It must be the heat.

Update: Just in case any of you are worried, he's actually not annoyed with life at all. He spents oodles of time purring and being a cuddlemonster.

Monday, July 17, 2006

This is really bugging me

I've seen it several times on the leading networks this evening. American nationals who wish to leave Lebanon will receive a bill for their evacuation costs to Cyprus. From Cyprus they're expected to pay their own costs to get back to the US.

This is beyond outrageous. American citizens are trapped in a war zone, and the US government has not only refused to call for a cease-fire, they've blocked other nations from doing so as well. But if you want out, plan on paying for it.

Are other governments doing this? From what I can tell, no. Governments Help Nationals Flee from Lebanon and Israel:
Leah Byrne, 26, an Ohio native, said that she had tried phoning the embassy nonstop — “literally every five seconds” — after Israeli planes began bombing targets south of her central Beirut apartment last week. “I never got through,” she said.

“We could hear all the bombs, could almost feel the bombs in our bodies,” her partner, Miguel Betegon, a 24-year-old Spaniard, said by telephone from Madrid. “She was worried and I was worried because at the time, the only way to get out of the country was by road” — and she had already been turned away once when attempting to enter Syria.

But Mr. Betegon, an intern at the Spanish Embassy in Beirut who made clear he was speaking only in a private capacity, learned that the embassy was planning a bus convoy to Syria, and was told that his friend could come along.

The three-bus convoy, escorted by Lebanese police, reached the no-man’s-land at the border after midnight. The scene, Mr. Betegon said, was “absolutely chaotic,” including vehicles jammed with people and belongings and other people fleeing on foot. Finally the convoy made it to Damascus, where a Spanish military plane flew the evacuees — 116 Spaniards and 10 other nationals, including Ms. Byrne — to Madrid. The Spanish government covered all costs. (My emphasis added.)

I don't know what the French and British are doing, but I'll be surprised if they're as miserly as our bunch of fucking wackos.

I want to know who made the decision to charge evacuees. Is there not a single person in the cheney administration with an ounce of common decency?

Monday Plush

Busy day for me, but Maxx will keep you company.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Show of Force

No one should be under any illusions that Bush gives a damn about civilians in either Gaza or Lebanon, or that the U.S. is ever going to play referee in the current crisis. From Suskind's new book:
Relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States were in tatters. The Saudis has been stewing for more than a year, in fact, ever since it became clear at the start of 2001 that this administration was to alter the long-standing U.S. role of honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to something less than that. The President, in fact, had said in the first NSC principals meeting of his administration that Clinton had overreached at the end of his second term, bending too much toward Yasser Arafat - who then broke off productive Camp David negotiations at the final moment - and that "We're going to tilt back toward Israel." Powell, a chair away in the Situation Room that day, said such a move would reverse thirty years of U.S. policy and that it could unleash the new prime minister, Ariel Sharon, and the Israeli army in ways that could be dire for the Palestinians. Bush's response: "Sometimes a show of force by one side can really clarify things."

Ron Suskind
The One Percent Doctrine

I think the Palestinians and the Lebanese have had about all the clarity they can stand.

On Journalism

WAPO legendary reporter Walter Pincus has advice for the rest of the Washington press corps, Fighting Back Against the PR Presidency:
But I believe a new kind of courage is needed in journalism in this age of instant news, instant analysis, and therefore instant opinions. It also happens to be a time of government by public relations and news stories based on prepared texts and prepared events or responses. Therefore, this is the time for reporters and editors, whether from the mainstream media or blogosphere, to pause before responding to the latest bulletin, prepared event, or the most recent statement or backgrounder, whether from the White House or the Democratic or Republican leadership on Capitol Hill.


A new element of courage in journalism would be for editors and reporters to decide not to cover the President's statements when he -- or any public figure -- repeats essentially what he or she has said before. The Bush team also has brought forward another totally PR gimmick: The President stands before a background that highlights the key words of his daily message. This tactic serves only to reinforce that what's going on is public relations -- not governing. Journalistic courage should include the refusal to publish in a newspaper or carry on a TV or radio news show any statements made by the President or any other government official that are designed solely as a public relations tool, offering no new or valuable information to the public.