Filtered news 10/4/06

Greedy corporate SOBs trash national treasure Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. Just a tragedy.

"We have thrown away the most valuable
asset we had -- the right to oppose both
flag and country when he believed them
to be in the wrong."
-- Howard Zinn,

For a whole lot of people in a whole lot of places, this really is . Hard to look at it any other way. Be glad you have a computer and electricity and wifi and food and clean water and laws and that sort of thing. Real glad.

Bush, the Saudis and the price of oil examines yet another aspect of Woodward's book that has ramifications during this election period: From of State of Denial by Bob Woodward:

[..]But, elsewhere in his narrative, Woodward provides compelling evidence that the real problem may be worse — the rogue's gallery of outside advisors who do have regular unmediated access to the president. It is not accidental that "State of Denial" begins with a reprise of the Bush family's intimate relationship with a former Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar. At the instruction of his father (Bush 41), Bush (soon to be 43) met with Bandar in 1997 and confided, "I'm thinking of running for president … And I don't have the foggiest idea about what I think about international foreign policy." You do not have to be a Michael Moore-style conspiracy theorist to find it worrisome that a Saudi prince is put in charge of giving a future president his worldview.

Bandar, who may now be much more willing to go public with Woodward since he has returned home to Saudi Arabia, keeps popping up in the narrative in chilling ways. The administration's infamous rendition policy … may have begun shortly after 9/11 when Bush told Bandar, "If we get somebody and we can't get them to cooperate, we'll hand them over to you."

The book also describes Bandar's Oval Office meeting in early 2004 with Bush, Condi Rice (then the national security advisor) and White House chief of staff Andrew Card (another source, since he has now left the administration). Bush, Woodward writes, "thanked Bandar for what the Saudis were doing on oil — essentially flooding the market and trying to keep the price as low as possible. [Bush] expressed appreciation for the policy and the impact it could have during the election year."

(Read the rest of this story…)

Jon Stewart had his usual hilarious approach to Foleygate last night. - WMV - QT Stewart: "There you have it. ABC's Brian Ross - worst phone sex operator ever" It is amazing how Stewart can take something so disturbing and put a humorous spin on it.


The moral decline of....well...everybody has a post making the rounds of left blogistan. It reports that CBS News invited Brian Rohrbough, the father of a student killed at Columbine High School, to contribute a "Free Speech" piece discussing yesterday's shootings at an Amish schoolhouse:

This country is in a moral free-fall. For over two generations, the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum, expelling God from the school and from the government, replacing him with evolution, where the strong kill the weak, without moral consequences and life has no inherent value. We teach there are no absolutes, no right or wrong. And I assure you the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including by abortion. Abortion has diminished the value of children.

Wow. As a commenter at TP pointed out, this gentleman apparently believes the Amish don't have enough religion in their schools. But in the end and as usual, :

Don't get me wrong --- I think the guy has the same right to free speech as everyone else. But CBS was nervous about Bill Maher's commentary which was critical of religion. The fact that they let this man speak, obviously without restriction, while balking at Maher means that CBS's little exercize in free speech is not just a milquetoast middle of the road program, it is affirmatively asserting that far right views are acceptable while Maher's are not. This man says that abortion and teaching evolution are causing school shootings. That's not mainstream.

No, it is not, not even among conservative Christians. In fact, it's very extreme, and it reflects exactly what is wrong with the moral discourse in this country. It's not just that morality has become "politicized": the idea that we could somehow separate our concepts of good and evil from our use of power is a pipe dream. But what has happened is that morality has become politicized in a particular direction with no countervailing pressure. A reactionary social, political, and economic movement has been allowed free run of public discourse for the better part of twenty years, and as their furthest moral edges have become increasingly radical, a corporatized media has thought it to be in their financial best interest not to challenge the move out of the mainstream.

Digby thinks this is a result of CBS becoming gunshy after "Rathergate." I think it comes more from the urge to capture the same market demographic that FoxFaith is chasing. After all, they're easily identified and they show great brand loyalty. Meanwhile, the broader, more diffuse society - what we used to call the "mainstream" - and their moral concerns get shut out of the conversation. Hey, they don't move units, because they don't move units. That's a problem. Until we get serious about building agreement on principles by not catering to the extremes of one side of the conversation, we're all in line for a little decline and fall, with the costs written out in the blood of the innocent.


And in case the sex makes us forget :


BAGHDAD (AFP) - At least 17 US soldiers have been killed around Iraq since Saturday, including eight in a single day in Baghdad, the US military announced, saying the toll had brought "a tragic day". The toll represents a dramatic spike for US casualties in Iraq which generally average no more than a couple of wounded a day, especially for the Baghdad-based forces. "I don't have any comparative figures," said Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson, who declined to say whether the toll was an increase. "We have tragic days and this was a tragic day."

Every day is a tragic day in Iraq.


Bush goes back to his electoral old faithful, :


“Time and time again, the Democrats want to have it both ways. They talk tough on terror, but when the votes are counted their softer side comes out.”

That softer, fleshy material is called the brain.


The stink factor John Gard, current Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, is running to replace Green in the WI-08. It's the only open seat in Wisconsin and consistently on pundits' lists of top 30 races around the country. As such, it's been getting a lot of attention, particularly from the Republican leadership--the same Republican leadership that protected Mark Foley and covered up his actions for almost a year. And Gard is rolling in their money:

  • Gard received $10,000 from Republican Majority Leader John Boehner's . Boehner not only knew about Foley's problems, but helped cover up fpr them. He also lied for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, retracting a statement originally claiming he'd told Hastert after the Speaker's office initially denied it. Now Hastert's office admits to knowing.
  • Gard also took $5,000 from Hastert's .
  • Gard took another $10,000 from the , which is the PAC of Tom Reynolds--the Congressman from New York, not the nutty Wisconsin State Senator. Reynolds, who chairs the NRCC--the campigan committee for House Republicans--was the first elected official that was told of Foley's behavior almost a year ago. That's right--the first guy told was the political guy, not the Speaker of the House, the Majority Leader, or even the Republican on the House Page Board. Tells you where their priorities are, eh?
  • Finally, Gard scored $2,000 from John Shimkus's . Shimkus is the Republican member of the House Page Board, the group that oversees the House Pages and makes sure everything goes okay with that program. Shimkus and the Board's clerk met, reviewed the allegations against Foley, and decided against doing an investigation or even informing the lone Democrat on the panel, Dale Kildee.

Gard needs to explain how and why he thinks it's a good idea to keep $27,000 in PAC money from men who knowing participated in the cover-up of crimes and inappropriate behavior. (An email to his campaign--you guessed it!--unreturned so far.)

Some good bits from the weekend

Freedom of religion only for non-muslims The is reporting that the United States government has denied a visa to renowned Islamic scholar , currently Professor of Islamic Studies and Senior Research Fellow at St. Antony's College (Oxford). Prof. Ramadan, a Swiss national, has been a consistent opponent of Islamic terrorism, and he has also been highly critical of U.S. policy in the Muslim world. For more on the legal issues surrounding Prof. Ramadan, see the AAR press release linked above. From Prof. Ramadan's website ():


I fear that the United States has grown fearful of ideas. I have learned firsthand that the Bush administration reacts to its critics not by engaging them, but by stigmatizing and excluding them. Will foreign scholars be permitted to enter the United States only if they promise to mute their criticisms of U.S. policy? It saddens me to think of the effect this will have on the free exchange of ideas, on political debate within America, and on our ability to bridge differences across cultures.

(Originally published in the Washington Post)

AAR president Diana Eck issued the following statement:


The American Academy of Religion is dismayed to be deprived of the opportunity for discussion and exchange with Ramadan who was to address our annual meeting in November. ... Ramadan is one of today's leading Muslim theologians and his voice is vital to the contemporary discussion of Islam in the West. His ongoing exclusion sends exactly the wrong message about America's commitment to the free exchange of ideas.

(From the )

As Prof. Eck notes, Prof. Ramadan was to deliver the keynote address to the annual meeting of the , the largest professional organization for the academic study of religion in North America.


WAL-MART PUSHES TO CAP EMPLOYEE WAGES, CUT BACK ON HEALTH CARE: Wal-Mart is "pushing to create a cheaper, more flexible work force by ." Employees say the changes will "." Some managers "have insisted workers make themselves available around the clock," and workers are "." Wal-Mart's tougher work schedule is especially taxing for its employees because the chain has more than 1,900 stores open 24 hours. Lower-paid workers have received one-time payments of $200 to $400 to compensate for future wages lost from the income cap. The changes come a year after Wal-Mart's top human resources official circulated a expressing concern that, as wages increase with an employee's tenure, Wal-Mart is "pricing that associate out of the labor market, increasing the likelihood that he or she will stay with Wal-Mart." The memo also recommended hiring healthier and more part-time employees because they are "less likely to enroll in Wal-Mart’s health plan," which currently covers .

Colbert on Foleygate Colbert started his show last night with FoleyGate, and even took blame for what happened - WMV - QT

Get a friggin' life : State Board of Education holds hearings on Harry Potter.

"And before you accuse me of writing about news in your favorite entertainment magazine,
let me assure you Nancy Grace is entertainment...if, that is, you're the sort who watches
NASCAR for the crashes and Survivor hoping no one will. In the increasingly weird world
of infotainment, she is the belle of the Freakers Ball...[Grace] conveys by body language
alone the idea that we're all guilty of something...and she knows it."
-- Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly,

Supreme Court Declines to Take Up Sex Toys The Justices have whether a Texas law making it a crime to promote sex toys shaped like sexual organs is hilarious unconstitutional. As the AP explains, an adult bookstore employee in El Paso, Texas, sued the state after being arrested for showing two undercover officers a device shaped like a penis and telling the female officer the device would arouse and gratify her. Sex toys fill a lucrative—and increasingly mainstream—niche of the multi-million-dollar-a-year sex industry, and let's just say they are increasingly being wielded, brandished, and generally waved around as weapons in the culture wars. Take , where it's a crime to engage in the production and sale of “any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.” Keep an eye out -- this might become a wedge issue.

When in doubt just blame Bill Clinton. That's Hannity's take on Predatorgate. However, Old33 catches him in a ,

he said that Monica Lewinsky was 19 years old - "she was a teenager" - when Bill Clinton began his affair with Lewinsky. Umm….Sean…Monica was . According to the Starr Report, she first met Bill Clinton on That would make her 22 years old at the time. A college graduate. An adult. Hardly the same situation as a Congressman soliciting minors…

-WMP -QT See, a quick trip to Wikipedia is all it took to expose Hannity's lie, but it doesn't matter to him. He throws as much garbage on the wall as he can and then watches what will stick. By the way, O'Reilly said only the far right element brought up Clinton as an analogy to Foley's situation–so Ole Bill slapped Hannity in the face.


Alert. Alert. We’ve got another weak American looking to :


An insurgency is a very difficult thing to defeat in a finite period of time. It takes a lot of persistence — perseverance is the actual term that we like to use.

“Who knows how long this is going to actually last? But if we get the level of violence down to a point where the Iraqi security forces are more than capable of dealing with it, the insurgency’s days will eventually come to an end. And they will come to an end at the hands of the Iraqis, who, by definition, will always be perceived as more legitimate than an external force like our own.”

Who said it? Army Col. Sean B. MacFarland, commander of 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division. Go and get him Fox, er, I mean folks.


October 4, 2006 - 8:16am