Wednesday, June 13, 2007

How's that Democracy Thing Going?

The Bush administration's push for democracy in the Middle East included promoting elections among Palestinians in the wake of Yasser Arafat's death. Proving conclusively its utter lack of understanding of the political situation among the Palestinians (or anywhere else for that matter), White House was astonished when jihadi-loving Hamas soundly beat the incrementally-less-militant Fatah faction (whose primary concern seems to be lining its leaders' pockets). Fatah did not, shall we say, take its electoral defeat with a stiff upper lip. Predictably, the Palestinians little experiment in democracy isn't on its way toward producing a Jeffersonian Republic on the Gaza Strip.

Fighting between the two factions, which nominally share power in the Palestinian government, spilled into the Fatah-dominated West Bank. Dozens of gunmen loyal to Fatah surrounded a pro-Hamas TV production company in the city of Nablus, and tried to break into its offices, where about 10 people were holed up.

The gunmen said they wanted to torch the company, Al Thurayya, in retaliation for the violence in Gaza. There were no immediate reports of injuries, and Palestinian police were not intervening.

The violence in Gaza has rapidly spiraled toward all-out civil war, with more than 50 reported killed since Monday. Hamas has systematically taken control of security positions in the north and south, apparently leaving the main battle for the strip's security and political nerve center in Gaza City for last.

An announcer on a Hamas radio station said the offensive would proceed to the presidential compound and the national security headquarters in Gaza City.

Separately, Hamas demanded Fatah-allied security forces in the north relinquish their weapons by 7 p.m. (1600 GMT) Friday, or risk having them taken by force. The ultimatum was delivered in text messages and radio announcements.

Hamas leaders blamed the Gaza fighting on Abbas, saying his security forces were corrupt and riddled with criminals. Abbas called the fighting "madness" and appealed to Hamas' exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal, to end the violence.

Shops in Gaza City were shuttered tight Wednesday, and streets were mostly empty as terrified residents huddled in homes that could at any moment turn into battlegrounds. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency said it couldn't distribute food to the 30 percent of the Gaza Strip that relies on international food aid.

The agency's Gaza director, John Bing, said the agency would scale back its operations after two of its Palestinian workers were killed by crossfire, but insisted, "We are scaling back, we are not pulling back."

Hamas has been logging strategic wins against the far-larger forces affiliated with Fatah. On Wednesday, the Islamic militant group said it seized and flattened a Fatah post on the main north-south road, and where security forces often stopped cars carrying Hamas loyalists.

Yet another example of the miraculous powers of democracy to transform Muslim populations and nations. Just like Iraq, Lebannon, Egypt and Iran (hey, they have elections, too).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Peddling the Same Lies

With a zeal rivaling the most fanatical jihadi, President Bush is intent on getting his immigration AMNESTY bill through Congress, despite the overwhelming evidence that the overwhelming majority of the American people - whose interests he allegedly represents - do not want the bill passed.

During a rare meeting on Capitol Hill, President Bush pushed lawmakers Tuesday to move forward on immigration legislation that he said enforces U.S. borders and workplaces.

"This is a highly emotional issue," Bush said after a luncheon with Senate Republicans.

"Now's the time to get it done. It's going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of effort."

"I believe without the bill, it's going to be harder to enforce the border," Bush said. "The status quo is unacceptable." (Watch Bush press for passage )

This is exactly why most Americans don't support this bill. Ah, Mr. President, don't we already have laws on the books mandating border control and immigration law enforcement? We do? Well, then why don't you ENFORCE those laws before enacting news laws? And if the current laws aren't being enforced, why the hell would anyone believe that the government will enforce new laws?

The reason Bush and the open borders crowd are so insistent on pushing the "comprehensive" reform package is that they know they could never get an amnesty only bill through Congress, so the border enforcement provisions are added for window dressing. But those provisions are just that - meaningless words; neither Bush, nor Kennedy, nor any of the other backing dogs on the pro-Amnesty side ever expect to see the border enforcement provisions carried out. Just like that fence they promised to build last year. Not built yet - and probably will never be. This is why the open borders crowd blanches and changes the subject when asked why they don't have a border-enforcement only bill first, then after the border is under control, measures to deal with illegal immigrants still here. That is not even open for discussion, because they have no intention of ever enforcing the border. They also know that a border enforcement bill would sail through Congress in record speed, backed by huge majorities of the American people, and if successfully carried out, would cripple any subsequent Amnesty proposals by changing the momentum of the debate.

So when President Bush goes to Capitol Hill to say he needs this "comprehensive" bill to help border enforcement, the only thing you can be sure of is that he is lying through his teeth.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bush Adamant on Amnesty; Lax on Competence

Returning from his trip abroad, during which he was confronted by protests throughout Western Europe, but cheer by Muslim Albania (for helping pry Kosovo from Christian Serbia), the President made it clear he intends to revive the horrible McCain-Kennedy immigration bill that died so unceremoniously in the Senate last week.

[from today's New York Times]On immigration, Mr. Bush is facing a backlash in his party’s conservative wing, whose members decry the bill as amnesty. On Tuesday, he plans to attend the Senate Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill — a rare step for a president who typically has lawmakers come to him at the White House — in an effort to revive the measure.

“I’m under no illusions about how hard this is,” he said, adding that he was disappointed that the measure had been “temporarily derailed.”

Mr. Bush did not do much lobbying from afar. While on Air Force One Friday evening, on the way from Poland to Rome, he telephoned three top Republicans: Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the party leader; Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, the whip, and Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, an architect of the bill.

“The political process sometimes isn’t pretty to look at,” Mr. Bush said. “There’s two steps forward and one step back. We made two steps forward on immigration, we took a step back, and now I’m going to work with those who are focused on getting an immigration bill done and start taking some steps forward again. I believe we can get it done. I’ll see you at the bill signing.”

For a president who gives so much lip service to promoting democracy around the world, he certainly doesn't seem to give a damn what his own people think when trying to ram unpopular legislation through Congress. Meanwhile back in Washington, observers continue to be amazed by the sheer lack of competence demonstrated by the administration and its underlings.

Republican insiders who complain about Bush filling mid-level government vacancies with "children" cite a classic case. In September 2005, the president named Julie L. Myers, then 36, to head the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau. She has never been confirmed, amid bipartisan agreement that she lacks the five years of management experience required by statute.

Myers is serving on a recess appointment. But 175 Bush nominees for federal offices (including 85 executive positions) were in unconfirmed limbo until Henry Bonilla -- a seven-term Republican congressman from Texas who was defeated in 2006 -- bowed out last week. After 2 1/2 months of inaction by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he figured he would never be confirmed for the important post of U.S. representative to the Organization of American States. The White House, working hard to save Gonzales, did nothing for Bonilla.

The testimony of Monica Goodling, several weeks back, exposed how this administration is largely run by people hired solely for their political inclinations or personal connections regardless of age, credentials or experience. When Bush first moved into the Oval Office in January 2001, many conservatives proclaimed "the adults are back in charge!" Now, six years later, it's obvious that adult supervision is the one thing most lacking in this White House.