Monthly Archives: July 2006

License to Kill Babies

Andrea Yates, the Christian woman who claimed that she heard voices that caused her to kill her five children, was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She’ll be confined to a mental institution with periodic reviews to determine when she can be released.

The children’s father said the jury had reached the right conclusion.

“The jury looked past what happened and looked at why it happened,” Rusty Yates told reporters outside the courthouse.

Rusty, you’ll recall, was the guy who basically wanted to keep Andrea barefoot and pregnant because of his deeply religious views. Once she killed the children, he divorced her and remarried.

Just wondering what the Christian Right’s position is on this verdict. Do they agree that juries should look at “why it happened”? And does that hold for poor black kids as well as Christian white women?

Ideas: Big & Bold?

The Democratic Leadership Council has unveiled its Saving the American Dream agenda.

I know a lot of progressives are already sniffing their noses because it’s from the DLC. In the past, I’ve been one to cast a jaundice eye at DLC initiatives, but I think if Dems are going to win back this country, it helps if we find solutions that win elections. I don’t think there are too many Democrats who will abandon our traditional support for the underdog, but how we get there matters. They’ll be a big press conference today.

I haven’t had the chance to read the new issue of DLC’s Blueprint magazine just out this morning, I believe. But I will and I hope you do, too.

I’m traveling for the next couple of days. If you get to it first, let me know what you think.

History, Give Me Re-Write!

It seems most of the media have now bought into the idea that the latest Middle East conflict is entirely the fault of Arab extremists. References to Israeli culpability seem to be systematically scrubbed from news reports, such as The Washington Post changing the lede in its story the other day about the G-8 statement. The earlier lede reminded readers that Israel has kidnapped a number of Palestinian Authority government officials. But The Post and other media seem to back the administration’s idea that democracies are only valued when they elect leaders we like.

CBS News anchor Bob Schieffer apparently towed the line in a recent broadcast, but fortunately FAIR, the media watchdog, provides some perspective.

The media assumption is that in withdrawing from Gaza in September 2005, Israel ended its conflict with at least that portion of Palestine and gave up, as Schieffer put it, “what the Palestinians supposedly wanted.” In reality, however, since the pullout and before the recent escalation of violence, at least 144 Palestinians in Gaza had been killed by Israeli forces, often by helicopter gunships, according to a list compiled by the Israeli human rights group B’tselem. Only 31 percent of the people killed were engaged in hostile actions at the time of their deaths, and 25 percent of all those killed were minors.

From the time of the pullout until the recent upsurge in violence, according to B’tselem’s lists, no Israelis were killed by violence emanating from Gaza. Although during this period Palestinian militants launched some 1,000 crude Kasam missiles from Gaza into Israel, no fatalities resulted; at the same time, Israel fired 7,000 to 9,000 heavy artillery shells into Gaza. On June 9, just two weeks before the Hamas raid that killed two Israeli soldiers and captured a third, an apparent Israeli missile strike killed seven members of a Palestinian family picnicking on a Gaza beach, which prompted Hamas to end its 16-month-old informal ceasefire with Israel. (Though Israel has denied responsibility for the killings, a Human Rights Watch investigation strongly challenged the denial, calling the likelihood of Israel not being responsible “remote”; Human Rights Watch, 6/15/06.) Hamas has repeatedly pointed to the Gaza beach incident as one of the central events that prompted its cross-border raid—indeed, Schieffer’s own CBS Evening News has reported that claim (CBS Evening News, 6/25/06). Even so, Schieffer seems unable to recall this recent event (see Action Alert, 6/30/06).

Hamas also points to the capture of some of its leaders by Israel as the provocation for its raid. If Israelis had every right, as Schieffer said, to respond with force to the capture of one soldier by Hamas, then how are Palestinians expected to feel about the more than 9,000 prisoners captured and held by Israel—including 342 juveniles and over 700 held without trial (Mandela Center for Human Rights, 4/30/06)?

Moreover, Israel’s withdrawal did not remotely give Palestinians “what they wanted.” In addition to its continued deadly attacks on Gaza, Israel has continued to control Gaza’s borders and has withheld tens of millions of dollars of tax revenue in response to Hamas’ victory in democratic elections in January 2006. Israel’s actions crippled the Gaza economy and prompting warnings from the U.N. of a looming humanitarian disaster (UNRWA, 7/8/06).

None of this is to say that Hamas, which has regularly ignored the distinction between military and civilian targets, does not share part of the blame for the current crisis. But to act as though Israel had been behaving as a peace-loving neighbor to Gaza until the soldier’s capture is a willful rewriting of very recent history.


Enron founder Kenneth L. Lay had three severely clogged arteries and had experienced at least two heart attacks before he died, according to an autopsy report that blamed severe coronary artery disease for his death.

Lay’s family expressed relief at the surprise announcement, which confirmed that indeed Ken Lay had a heart.

50-State Has ID’d Me

I’ve got to stop writing about Dean’s 50-state strategy. I think the DNC has a feed looking for any mention of “50-state.” They pounce immediately, hitting me up for another $50. “I know you gave just last month, but could we count on you again to support us?” the voice on the phone says. When I agree, she wastes about 30 seconds before asking me if I’d double my contribution. They are relentless. Go, Howard!

Constitutional Amendment

The House voted to kill another proposed constitutional amendment, disappointing many in the country.

The White House, in a statement Tuesday, urged passage of the measure. “When activist judges insist on redefining the fundamental institution … for their states or potentially for the entire country, the only alternative left to make the people’s voice heard is an amendment of the Constitution.”

Thus died this amendment:

The Supreme Court, even if held hostage by its activist members, shall never elect a president.

There is So a Free Lunch

It’s not “free beer,” but it’s the next best thing–“free lunch.”

The New Politics Institute is hosting a lunch this Thursday in Washington to discuss “How Progressives Can Leverage an Array of New Tools and Media Right Now.” Included will be discussions about blogs and my favorite “new tool” the cell phone.

You can read about it here. You must sign up.

But hey, it’s free food!