I don't know if anyone is still reading this, but I'm back from my time off.
Anyway, since the TV news sources went a few days without broadcasting any actual news last weekend (instead choosing to focus all their energy on a single nine-year-old murder case in Colorado), I figured I'd fill people in on what happened during those few days:
- The cease-fire in Lebanon ran into trouble as Israel bombed a Bekaa Valley Hezbollah stronghold. Apparently, Hezbollah was using the location to import weaponry from Syria and/or Iran. Perhaps we should be a little bit clearer on the concept of "cease-fire." Bombings and weapons trafficking are not cease-fire activities. And here's hoping the Lebanese people realize that as long as Hezbollah continues to have weapons, Lebanon will never be a functioning state. Some experts define a state as an entity with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force - if Lebanon allows Hezbollah to continue using force against Israel (or anyone for that matter), it has no power.
The irony here is that the Lebanese are so fearful of Israel that they run into the waiting arms of Hezbollah, whose entire reason for existence is to provoke Israel into doing things that make the Lebanese people fearful. In a sense, Lebanese fear is self-perpetuating. Lebanon's government could do a lot by disarming Hezbollah and investing more in their own military; it'd be nice if the Lebanese could trust someone besides a bunch of nutty loose cannons with their security.
Reasons I could not be President: I would start an international incident when I got the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, Israel, Iran, Lebanon, and the PA in a room together, called them all "fucking idiots," and locked them in said room without food or water until they had resolved their differences. Or when I put Operation Giant Doobie into effect.
- A court in Detroit struck down the warrantless wiretapping program, but allowed it to continue until higher courts weighed in. The Bush administration is predictably calling the decision "partisan" - a bit of cynical hypocrisy from an administration that was allowed to take office by a partisan judicial decision. I guess the Republicans only like partisan judicial decisions that go their way. Oh, and congressional Republicans: none of this would have happened had you actually exercised your powers of oversight. You have no one to blame but yourselves.
Also, does anyone know how FISA's retroactive warrant requirement is such a burden on administration intelligence gathering? It still doesn't seem to me like getting a warrant from a secret court within 72 hours is such an onerous task.
- Budget predictions are in. Looks like we got a windfall this year that kept the budget deficit at a "mere" $260 billion or so. In the long term, we could come close to balancing if Bush's tax cuts are allowed to lapse in 2010 - otherwise, we're looking at a budget deficit in the $700 billion range. Oh, and more money is currently spent on servicing our debt than on all federal anti-poverty programs. (It's about $200 billion right now.) Tax cutters, take note.
- Virginia Senator George Allen was awarded the Mel Gibson Memorial Foot-In-Mouth Award when he referred to Fairfax native S.R. Sidarth, a darker-hued campaign volunteer for opponent Jim Webb, as "macaca" and bade him "welcome to America and the real world of Virginia." Boy, that "welcome to America" bit wasn't condescending to the entire Indian-American community at all, was it? I have the feeling Allen was one brain fart away from making a Slurpee joke. As for what he meant by the "macaca" bit, I quote The Daily Show's Rob Corddry: "I don't know, but it sure as shit sounds racist." (Apparently, a macaca is a kind of African monkey, and so I would definitely treat it as a racist slur if I thought that there was any way in hell George Allen knew what a macaca was.)
- From today, Iran isn't giving up its nuclear program. They say they have a "new formula" for dealing with the issue. The formula, apparently, is this: your indignation + our middle finger + ten years or so of this crap = nuclear weapons. How many years are left on A-Train's term again?