Friday, July 18, 2008

The economy is basically sound


Saudi Overture

by: Le Monde | Editorial

Saudi King Abdallah shakes rabbis' hands at the interreligious conference sponsored by King Juan Carlos of Spain. Le Monde's editorialist notes, "The first Saudi sovereign to visit the Vatican, where he met Benedict XVI [in 2007], today Abdullah does not fear evoking the common values of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam." (Photo: AP)

    No one would have ever imagined associating Saudi Arabia with audacity in religious matters. Islam is practiced there in its most intransigent form - Wahabism, a variant on one of Sunni Islam's four great schools of thought, Hanbalism. The kingdom is also well-known for its inflexibility with respect to other religions - which may be practiced in that country underground only and in the most complete secrecy. This intransigence pertains as much to the thousands of - mostly Catholic - Philippine immigrants as to Shiite and Ismaelian Saudis of the Hasa and Najran provinces, whom the most radical Sunni sheiks too often hold to be miscreants.

    Yet it's the Saudi sovereign, King Abdullah Ben Abdelaziz Al-Saud, who, on Wednesday, in the so very symbolic land of Spain, opened an interreligious conference that proclaims its intention of bringing together the three great religions of the Book, accustomed up until now to separate dialogues. Coming from a man who was long presented as an out-and-out conservative, and who, in the evening of his life in 2005, succeeded to the highest responsibilities in the land of Mecca and Medina, the initiative compels respect.

    The first Saudi sovereign to visit the Vatican, where he met Benedict XVI, today Abdullah does not fear evoking the common values of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the same spirit, he multiplies overtures to the Shiites, in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, even though there still remains much to be done to disarm sectarian hatreds.

It Gets Worse

Sadly, No!
Sadly, No!
The wheels are in motion, things are happening!

So I tried to escape the toxic levels of wingnuttery this evening by flipping through my roommate's copy of Newsweek. Amazingly, I flipped to page 36 and found this:

The Truth About Torture

To get a full accounting of how U.S. interrogation methods were used, the president should give those accused of 'war crimes' a pass.

By Stuart Taylor Jr. | NEWSWEEK

Dark deeds have been conducted in the name of the United States government in recent years: the gruesome, late-night circus at Abu Ghraib, the beating to death of captives in Afghanistan, and the officially sanctioned waterboarding and brutalization of high-value Qaeda prisoners. Now demands are growing for senior administration officials to be held accountable and punished. Congressional liberals, human-rights groups and other activists are urging a criminal investigation into high-level "war crimes," including the Bush administration's approval of interrogation methods considered by many to be torture.

It's a bad idea. In fact, President George W. Bush ought to pardon any official from cabinet secretary on down who might plausibly face prosecution for interrogation methods approved by administration lawyers.

Question: why did we ever develop the Geneva Conventions in the first place? Why does the Constitution ban cruel and unusual punishment? Hell, for that matter, why did we ever sign the goddamn Magna Carta*? Because what Stuart Taylor, Jr. is telling us is that government officials should simply be able to break the fucking law. And not just the laws against lying about blowjobs under oath — we're talking about laws against goddamn torture. We're talking about laws that for years have prohibited the government from performing cruel and heinous acts on prisoners. This is important shit. But to Stuart Taylor? Pfffffft, yeah it's bad, but so what? We'll only learn the truth about this stuff if we just pardon everyone beforehand. Because fuck it, laws are only meant to be obeyed by the little people.

Nine House Republicans Vote for Impeachment Hearing


10 Republicans Abstain, Measure Passes 238-180...

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.

There will be a hearing related to Rep. Dennis Kucinich's Article of Impeachment against George Bush in the House Judiciary Committee. That was assured by a vote of 238 to 180 on Tuesday. (Details on that hearing, now posted here.)

An unidentified government official of a U.S. ally wants to participate if and when Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich makes his case to impeach Bush before the House Judiciary Committee.

But, according to Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's "Countdown" last night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has mandated that questioning in the hearing be relegated to Bush's abuses of power, not his criminal wrongdoing.

"There's never been one [hearing] that accumulated all the things that constitute an imperial presidency," said Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, according to CQ Politics. He indicated topics covered in the hearing would include the firing of U.S. attorneys for political reasons, the betrayal of CIA agent Valerie Plame and Bush's alleged lying to Congress about the reasons for invading Iraq.

Kucinich's single Article of Impeachment only deals with Bush's lies to Congress.

There were no Democratic votes against holding the hearing. While 180 Republicans voted to follow their Dear Leader lock-step over the cliff, 10 Republicans abstained and nine Republican members of Congress voted with the Democrats. Here are their names...

Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas)
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (Md.)
Rep. Walter B. Jones (N.C.)
Rep. Don Manzullo (Ill.)
Rep. Tim Murphy (Penn.)
Rep. Ron Paul (Texas)
Rep. Dave Reichert (Wash.)
Rep. Christopher Shays (Conn.)
Rep. Mike Turner (Ohio)

Kucinich, who earlier this week smartly summarized why Impeachment matters, promises a surprise witness against Bush. Also from CQ Politics: "An unidentified government official of a U.S. ally wants to participate if and when Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich makes his case to impeach President Bush before the House Judiciary Committee, according to the Ohio Democrat."

Romney not getting his $45m back

 Says he won't seek gifts to repay campaign loans
Some analysts said Senator John McCain, shown with Mitt Romney in Denver in March, might undermine his reform message if he picks Romney, someone who bankrolled so much of his own campaign in the primary.
Some analysts said Senator John McCain, shown with Mitt Romney in Denver in March, might undermine his reform message if he picks Romney, someone who bankrolled so much of his own campaign in the primary. (Mary Altaffer/associated press/file)
By Michael Kranish
WASHINGTON - Mitt Romney, whose prospects of becoming John McCain's running mate appear on the rise, is preparing to formally declare he will not seek donations to repay $45 million in personal loans he made to his failed presidential bid - the biggest ever made by a candidate in a primary campaign.

John McCain Thinks Social Security Is A "Disgrace"


On Monday, during a town hall in Denver, John McCain proposed a radical "fix" for the way Social Security is funded. Responding to a questioner who claimed Social Security "will not be there" when current workers retire (which is wrong), McCain said this:

Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that's a disgrace. It's an absolute disgrace, and it's got to be fixed.

As anyone who knows anything about Social Security understands, "paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers" is pretty much the functional definition of Social Security. Always has been. That's what John McCain is calling an "absolute disgrace."

His master's voice



by Ted Rall

Nothing Honorable About the Vietnam War

Every presidential candidacy relies on a myth. Reagan was a great communicator; Clinton felt your pain. Both storylines were ridiculous. But rarely are the constructs used to market a party nominee as transparent or as fictional as those we're being asked to swallow in 2008.

On the left--OK, not--we have Barack Obama. "The best orator of his generation!" says Ed Rendell, the Democratic power broker who has a day job as governor of Pennsylvania. "The best orator since Cicero!" Republican strategist Mary Matalin swoons. No doubt, Obama reads a mean speech. Take his Teleprompter away, though, and the dude is as lost as George Bush at a semiotics class. Forced to answer reporters' questions off the cuff, Obama is so afraid of messing up that he...carefully...spaces...each...word...apart...

Still more laughable than the notion of Obama as the second coming of JFK is the founding myth of the McCain campaign: (a) he is a war hero, and (b) said heroism increases his credibility on national security issues. "A Vietnam hero and national security pro," The New York Times calls him in a typical media blandishment.

John McCain fought in Vietnam. There was nothing noble, much less heroic, about fighting in that war.

Some Americans may be suffering another of the periodic attacks of national amnesia that prevent us from honestly assessing our place in the world and its history, but others recall the truth about Vietnam: it was a disastrous, unjustifiable mess that anyone with an ounce of sense was against at the time.

The Three Biggest Myths the Bush Administration Wants You to Believe About Offshore Drilling

Conservatives are preying on concern over gas prices by propagating false myths that drilling for oil off our coasts will lower the cost of gas.

This story was written by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Ali Frick, Benjamin Armbruster, and Brad Johnson.

Yesterday, citing the "squeeze of rising prices at the pump," President Bush rescinded the presidential moratorium on offshore drilling.

The moratorium on lease sales in the Outer Continental Shelf was established in 1990 by his father, George H.W. Bush, in response to the devastating Exxon Valdez oil spill and extended by President Clinton.

Bush's action pressures Congress to follow him in "capitulation to the oil companies" by lifting their moratorium, which must be renewed annually. In response, Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) said at a press conference that Bush "is invoking the specter of another WMD: wells of mass deception."

our illegal immigration plan is working


Bush is enjoying his post-presidential lazy days

News Groper: These Blogs Are Not Real

July 18th, 2008

A busy news week around the world and in celebrity uteri. The Pitt-Jolie babies came out, and Brad blogged on News Groper: "I wanted to name one of the babies Georgeclooneyisnumber1 but Angie said baby names aren't passwords." Obama responded to the Times criticism that there's nothing funny about him with a list of humorous factoids such as: "I was born in Hawaii. That's a weird state, right?" Read about those stories and more of our best below...

Me so happy by Brad Pitt

Eddie Murphy


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