News reports today tell us that Israeli attacks on Lebanon have killed at least 295 Lebanese:

The fighting has killed about 295 people in Lebanon and 25 Israelis, mostly civilians. […]

Ahmed Fatfat, the Lebanese acting interior minister, said Israel was trying to destroy Lebanon’s infrastructure, not just defeat Hezbollah. “Are they turning it into a second Iraq?” he asked.

What is our President doing about the escalating violence? Apparently, he gave the Israelis the go ahead to attack Lebanon to send a message to Syria and Iran:

The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.

The Bush administration, backed by Britain, has blocked efforts for an immediate halt to the fighting initiated at the UN security council, the G8 summit in St Petersburg and the European foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

“It’s clear the Americans have given the Israelis the green light. They [the Israeli attacks] will be allowed to go on longer, perhaps for another week,” a senior European official said yesterday. Diplomatic sources said there was a clear time limit, partly dictated by fears that a prolonged conflict could spin out of control.

US strategy in allowing Israel this freedom for a limited period has several objectives, one of which is delivering a slap to Iran and Syria, who Washington claims are directing Hizbullah and Hamas militants from behind the scenes.

Clearly, despite official crocodile tears about their fate to the contrary, Bush could give a rat’s ass about the deaths of hundreds of Lebanese civilians from the massive and brutal attacks by the Israeli Defense Force. Unwanted frozen embryos, however, whose stem cell lines might help provide cures for many devastating medical conditions, that’s a completely different story:


WASHINGTON, July 19 (Reuters) – President George W. Bush plans to cast the first veto of his presidency, possibly as early as Wednesday, to stop legislation that would expand federally funded embryonic stem cell research. […]

White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush’s veto would be “pretty swift.” Lawmakers expect it as soon as Wednesday, and Bush has scheduled an afternoon White House event to give his views on the issue.

Groups opposed to abortion rights have praised Bush’s stance but some leading researchers and patient-advocacy groups, such as the Christopher Reeve Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, urged Bush to reconsider.

“This bill allows important research to advance and creates an ethical framework that will ensure it is done appropriately,” said Jim Greenwood, head of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

Lebanese civilians dying in US sanctioned attacks by Israel clearly do not have the same moral equivalency for George Bush as frozen, unwanted embryos do. Or perhaps I should say, saving these embryos and allowing Lebanese civilians to die are equally politically expedient for this President. Despite his claims of compassion, I seriously doubt if moral considerations entered into either decision by our Decider. Opposing new stem cell lines helps bolster Bush’s support among the Fundamentalist Christian Right, and dead Lebanese killed by our ally — helps bolster Bush’s support among the Fundamentalist Christian Right. See how easy that was?

I won’t tell you about the promise that medical research on expanded stem cell lines might engender. I’ll leave that to Darksyde over at Daily Kos to run down. I will note that for a party (i.e., the Republicans) claiming to support a culture of life, I’m having a hard time squaring their so-called values with their obvious hypocrisy. When he values a “life “that will never come into existence over the lives of people who already exist, I fail to see the morality in Bush’s actions.

Sadly, those on the Christian Right (and conservatives generally) do. They support killing Lebanese Arabs (and any stray tourists unfortunate to be caught in Lebanon just now) out of some misplaced dream that the Return of Jesus Christ may be nigh. And they condemn future generations to suffering and death from diseases we might cure because of their worship of tiny frozen embryos that will in all likelihood be discarded and destroyed anyway. I cannot fathom the ethical nature of such beliefs, and I suspect neither can they. More’s the pity.