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Today's starter: Is the term Islamofascism an appropriate one? Joe Loconte argues yes.


This is damage, too.Well, finally. Nearly a month after the conflict between Israel and Hezbullah has ended, the news wires finally give us some glimpses of some of the distruction caused by Hezbullah's unguided, ball-brearing-filled rockets. Too little, too late, guys. If you genuinely wanted to be fair, you would've sent these photos over the wires a month ago. We're also learning from these captions that Amnesty International has suggested that Hezbullah may have committed war crimes by targeting civilians deliberately. Hello? Any mention of their hiding behind civilians would be nice. This report, of course, makes no mention of anything of the sort, even though Amnesty has previously said they would investigate the use of the population of South Lebanon as human shields.


Remember Al Gore’s "Saturday Night Live" skit where he pretended to be president and the world was a glorious place? Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter played that game in his column this week, suggesting that if Bush had been more Gore-like, just imagine what a paradise we would all be living in.



By now, many of you likely heard about the embarrassing and utterly disgraceful comments made by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks as reported here and here.



Remember all the talk from the Democrats about not mixing religion and politics? Well, it is just talk. When it comes to blatantly mixing religion and politics for advancing themselves in campaigns, the Democrats are not at all shy about wearing religion on their sleeves. But will the media notice?



Matt Lauer had a chuckle at the expense of his guests - then took Dems to task.  Michael Smerconish scolded a Republican. And Meredith Vieira gave further evidence of a style looser than that of her perky predecessor.

That's the nutshell wrap on the first half-hour of this morning's Today.



If you look hard, you can see the Democratic optimism about the fall elections fading, off the front pages of the newspapers. On the bottom of the front page of a separate "Campaign 2006" section of The Washington Post today (they call it page A23), you can read the account by Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza about Democrats getting worried about superior GOP turnout programs.



The L.A.Times published a story on the 13th that treated Chinese dictator, "Chairman" Mao, as a beloved and "iconic" figure but found no room in their story for any mention of the "great leader's" human rights abuses, tortures or the many murderous pogroms which took the lives of millions of his fellow citizens decade after decade as he ruled with an iron fist.



Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines spews Bush hatred in public, so it's not exactly a surprise to see her grow more unhinged in private:

The international press won't get their first look at the documentary Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing until its gala premiere at the Toronto Film Festival tonight. But EW.com got an early look at the sure-to-be-controversial doc in Los Angeles and can attest that the film will continue to bring the (ex?) country trio more plaudits from progressives and further condemnation from conservatives. And if you think singer Natalie Maines had some harsh words for President Bush in public, wait till you hear what she had to say about him behind the scenes.

In one memorable scene, Maines watches news footage of the president being interviewed about the furor that followed the singer's on-stage comment that she was ''ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas,'' which resulted in the group being dropped from most radio stations, as well as protests and plummeting sales. ''The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind,'' Bush told Tom Brokaw at the time, adding, ''They shouldn't have their feelings hurt just because some people don't want to buy their records when they speak out. You know, freedom is a two-way street.''

After watching this footage, Maines repeats the president's comment about how the group shouldn't have their ''feelings hurt,'' incredulous, and then says, ''What a dumb f---.'' She then looks into the camera, as if addressing Bush, and reiterates, ''You're a dumb f---.''

Hat tip to Sister Toldjah who adds: "Ever notice how she tends to make these disparaging comments about the Prez. when she’s NOT in the US? What’s the matter, Natalie? Too chick(s)en to say ‘em on your home turf?"


Is Nancy Grace, the crime-obsessed CNN Headline News host and former prosecutor, at least partly to blame for the suicide of a Florida woman whose son has been reported missing?

According to the family of Melinda Duckett, a harsh interview Grace taped with Duckett was one of the factors that put her over the top:

Duckett shot herself a day after taping an interview with CNN Headline News' Nancy Grace, who frequently focuses on missing-persons cases. Stumbling on questions like whether she had taken a polygraph test or where, specifically, she was shopping with her son before his disappearance, Duckett, speaking by telephone, became audibly exasperated.

Before it was over, Grace was pounding her desk in a raised voice, saying, "Where were you? Why aren't you telling us where you were that day?"

"Nancy Grace and the others, they just bashed her to the end," Melinda Duckett's grandfather Bill Eubank said Tuesday. "She wasn't one anyone ever would have thought of to do something like this. She and that baby just loved each other, couldn't get away from each other. She wouldn't hurt a bug."

As you would expect, Grace denies this. On Monday's show, instead of focusing on 9/11, she devoted basically the entire program (except for a small mention of the terrorist attacks at the end) to the Duckett case. Everything Grace said about the case, plus a comment, is below the fold.


Putting aside the fact the Arianna Huffington dubiously implied on tonight's Factor that Bill Buckley and Chris Shays agree with John Murtha about a strategy for Iraq, what was frankly unbelievable was her ignorance and abject indifference towards the plight of the Kurds under Saddam Hussein. Huffington argued that the Kurds were free before we invaded Iraq, that their situation has not changed "one iota" since the


A truly disturbing report was filed Wednesday by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (hat tip to Drudge). It appears that terrorists or terrorist sympathizers are using the website YouTube to post graphic videos of American soldiers being killed in Iraq:



They have already put on their black mourning cloth over the imminent demise of Air America. The declaration of bankruptcy by that failing liberal radio network is expected to take place this Friday.



Bob Schieffer, CBS's Chief Washington Correspondent and host of Face the Nation, used the “freeSpeech” segment on Wednesday's CBS Evening News to denounce the Bush administration's “secret prisons,” arguing in establishing them the U.S. has adopted “the methods of our enemies.” But our terrorist enemies don't put Americans into prison -- they murder Americans. Schieffer, who anchored the CBS Evening News until two weeks ago, told viewers of the broadcast now anchored by Katie Couric that he was “glad” the U.S. took the “suspected 9/11 ringleaders” out “of those secret CIA prisons. For me, it's a matter of national security -- ours. Democracies have no business running secret prisons. That's what our enemies do. If we are in a battle for the hearts and minds of people around the world, as the administration says we are, I won't feel very secure if the people around the world believe we are no different than our enemies.”

Schieffer also contended that “weapons didn't win the [Cold] War. We won when the people under Soviet domination could finally look across the Iron Curtain and see that open, democratic government made for a better life. Their governments were buying missiles when all they wanted were better schools and washing machines.” He concluded by arguing: “As Americans, we do believe our system offers a better way. But the only way to convince others of that is if we live by our values. Real security begins with remembering who we are. We gain nothing by adopting the methods of our enemies.” (Transcript follows)



Chris Matthews is as frustrated as an able-bodied seaman after six months without shore leave. While Matthews clearly senses this is the year for the Dems to snatch back the Speaker's gavel, hisfrustration is born of the fear that the Dems will squander the opportunity out of timidity - an unwillingness to attack President Bush on the war in Iraq.