More “going to hell in a handbasket” — roundup

We’ll start stateside, where Republicans in Congress, who can’t seem to get it together for an immigration bill or much of anything (not even elimination of the Paris Hilton tax!) , can at least agree that the one thing they all despise is a free press, took time away from trying to pollute the constitution with bans on flag desecration and gay marriage, and the House Speaker announced introduction of a resolution to condemn the New York Times for, you know, reporting the news. As I’ve said before, if there’s one thing this country just can’t abide, it is knowing what its government is doing, especially when told by a free press. [And Howell Raines is off somewhere doubtless savoring his own role, with Judy’s help, of course, in helping this Administration hold power with the Iraq war gambit. The war effort was certainly helped immensely by the Times‘ uncritical reprinting of propaganda associated with non-existent WMDs and not-the-least-bit-credible “Iraqi defectors”, as well as its own deliberately underreporting (and ridiculing) the extent of public opposition to the war going in… If the Times thought the seat it was buying at the tough guys’ table was a permanent one, it is now getting its richly deserved comeuppance for that. And the only cost to the rest of us for this is the loss of the viability of our First (Third, Fourth, Fifth, etc.) Amendment.]
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Capitol, senators led by Arlen Spector were seeking what redress they had available to take back the prerogatives delegated to Congress and Congress alone by the Constitution in light of the President’s insistence on issuing “nose-thumbing” signing statements, purporting to reserve his non-existent right not to enforce and execute the laws as Congress passed them. [If they want advice from this talking dog, I suppose that members of Congress could start by taking off their own dog collars.]
But why should things go to hell in a handbasket only on this side of the pond? Back in the usual bucolic and peaceful Middle East, we start by noting that Israel has apparently added to its incursion into Southern Gaza with one into Northern Gaza, Israel has arrested the Hamas Deputy Prime Minister, and Palestinian militants claim to have killed an 18 year old Israeli student they picked up (and a body was recovered near Ramallah that may well be him). For good measure, the one arguable bright spot in this, that Hamas may have signed off on a deal with Fatah that implicitly recognizes Israel, seems to be fading, as Hamas doesn’t “read it that way.”
And since we’re in the peaceful and quiet Middle East, we’ll move over to particularly peaceful and quiet Iraq, where it seems, Russian President Vladimir Putin is peculiarly incensed at the murder of four Russian diplomats in Iraq, after being kidnapped by insurgents, and has apparently ordered Russian forces to hunt down and kill those responsible. Time will tell with this one.
Perhaps there will be more excitement tomorrow.