Jim Webb speaks out on race, addresses grievances of white America

It’s refreshing when someone makes the effort to advance the discussion of this year’s election beyond debating a black/white divide. So when that someone is oft-mentioned potential Democratic running mate Jim Webb, it’s worth taking note.

Webb appeared on Morning Joe today to speak about his newest book, A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America, and to dodge questions about whether he would accept a spot on Barack Obama’s presidential ticket. But since the Kentucky primary had just provided pundits with fodder to discuss the ever-popular “Does Obama have a working whites problem?” Webb weighed in on the election results and his Scots-Irish heritage.

Clinton desperate to count votes, compares Fla. primary to Zimbabwe

Desperate to get attention for her cause to seat Florida and Michigan delegates, Hillary Clinton compared the plight of Zimbabweans in their recent fraudulent election to the uncounted votes of Michigan and Florida voters saying it is wrong when “people go through the motions of an election only to have them discarded and disregarded.”

“We’re seeing that right now in Zimbabwe,” Clinton explained. “Tragically, an election was held, the president lost, they refused to abide by the will of the people,” Clinton told the crowd of senior citizens at a retirement community in south Florida.

McCain backer Hagee said Hitler was fulfilling God’s will

John Hagee, the controversial evangelical leader and endorser of Sen. John McCain, argued in a late 1990s sermon that the Nazis had operated on God’s behalf to chase the Jews from Europe and shepherd them to Palestine. According to the Reverend, Adolph Hitler was a “hunter,” sent by God, who was tasked with expediting God’s will of having the Jews re-establish a state of Israel.

Lebanon’s brush with civil war

When Israel commenced its bombardment of Lebanon on July 12, 2006, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his general staff declared that the air raids were provoked by Hizballah’s kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers that day. As the destruction piled up over the ensuing 33 days, then, Lebanese did not ask themselves, “Why is Israel bombing us?” Rather, the question in many Lebanese minds, those of ordinary citizens and analysts alike, was “Why did Hizballah provoke this? Why now?” The implicit answer — that the Shi‘i Islamist party was acting in the interests of its friends in Tehran and Damascus rather than those of its constituents and compatriots in Lebanon — has reverberated through the country’s political discourse ever since, with few bothering to recall the rhetorical and historical precedents for the abduction operation.

The bloody clashes that broke out between opposition and government gunmen on May 7 have sparked fevered speculation as well. That Hizballah militants could take over West Beirut came as little surprise. Many were astonished by the speed of the advance, however, and the low number of casualties left in its wake, as the reports of 50-caliber machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as small arms, reverberated in West Beirut for a second day. The pertinent question, then, is not “How could Hizballah do this?” but “Why did the Lebanese government choose to provoke Hizballah at this time?”

Lebanese rivals set to elect president after historic accord

Lebanese lawmakers are set to elect the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, General Michel Suleiman, as president on Sunday after rival political leaders clinched a deal in Doha on Wednesday to end an 18-month feud that exploded into deadly sectarian fighting and threatened to plunge the nation into all-out civil war.

The deal that was reached at Doha after four days of intensive talks will lead to electing Suleiman, forming a national unity cabinet, and drafting a new electoral law for the 2009 parliamentary elections.

After Guantánamo

These days, it seems, everyone wants to close Guantánamo. In January 2002, the Bush administration created a detention camp at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba to imprison what former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called “the worst of the worst” terrorism suspects. The facility has since become an embarrassing stain on the United States’ reputation. With some inmates now having endured more than six years of detention without charge or trial, and with no end to their ordeal in sight, Guantánamo has come to symbolize Washington’s flouting of international human rights standards in the name of fighting terrorism. Now, even President George W. Bush says he wants to shut it down.

Rumsfeld’s claim notwithstanding, more than half of the 778 detainees known to have passed through Guantánamo have been released, and many others deserve to be. But there is a hard-core group — the Bush administration speaks of some 150 — who have allegedly plotted or committed acts of terrorism or would do so now if they could. Shuttering Guantánamo would force the government to decide what should be done with these allegedly dangerous individuals. Should they be given criminal trials? Or should they, as a growing number of lawyers and scholars suggest, be subjected to a system that permits detention without charge or trial because authorities believe they might pose a future threat — a system known as administrative, or preventive, detention?

Report details dissent on Guantánamo tactics

In 2002, as evidence of prisoner mistreatment at Guantánamo Bay began to mount, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents at the base created a “war crimes file” to document accusations against American military personnel, but were eventually ordered to close down the file, a Justice Department report revealed Tuesday.

The report, an exhaustive, 437-page review prepared by the Justice Department inspector general, provides the fullest account to date of internal dissent and confusion within the Bush administration over the use of harsh interrogation tactics by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency.

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