Olbermann vs. the Wingnuts

Glad to see this highlighted over at AmericaBlog. If you really hate Bill O’Reilly there is actually something you can do: Watch “The Countdown” with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, which comes on at the same time as “The Factor.” I won’t besmirch Keith’s journalistic integrity by calling him a “liberal” but as a regular viewer of his show I can tell you that he comes closest to Jon Stewart in calling the Bushies on the bushit.

From Keith’s blog, Bloggermann:

…The Three-Card Monte Players at Dr. James Dobson’s “Focus On The Family” have reopened the can of worms that is SpongeBobGate, and have focused not on the family but on me, and in so doing embarrassed themselves and undermined the validity of their own concerns.

Dobson, you will recall, joined the singularly inoffensive animated character “SpongeBob SquarePants” to his conspiracy theories of a “pro-homosexual” agenda, in order to get headlines. When he got those headlines, he promptly complained about getting them. Dobson, like many other exploiters of Amoral Values, ran immediately to the easiest way out of a stupid fix of his own creation: he blamed the big old ugly media.

His website asked readers to send emails of protest to me and four other reporters who had covered this foofery – it even provided them with an email-generator with which to do so. But because I responded to nearly all of those missives with something other than “I’m sorry, please don’t send me to hell,” Dobson has determined I need more exposure.

So Keith gets what he deems a rather underwhelming amount of emails from the wingnuts – a very small amount of mail compared to the response after he dared to report on questions about the validity of the vote count in Ohio in November.


Ted Turner Compares Fox News to Nazis

Thank God for Ted Turner, the Mouth of the South. Maybe he should be chairman of the DNC! From North County News/AP:

Cable news pioneer Ted Turner used an appearance before a group of television executives to criticize the Fox network as a “propaganda voice” of the Bush administration and to compare Fox News Channel’s popularity to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany before World War II.

Turner, 66, in a speech Tuesday before about 1,000 people at the National Association of Television Programming Executives targeted “gigantic companies whose agenda goes beyond broadcasting” for timidity in challenging the Bush White House.

“There’s one network, Fox, that’s a propaganda voice for them,” Turner said. “It’s certainly legal. But it does pose problems for our democracy when the news is ‘dumbed-down.”‘

Fox News in New York issued a statement Tuesday saying, “Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network and now his mind — we wish him well.”

Turner stepped down as vice chairman of AOL Time Warner in May 2003.

During a wide-ranging hour-long question-and-answer session moderated by former CNN anchorman Bernard Shaw, Turner called it “not necessarily a bad thing” that Fox ratings top CNN and other cable news networks.

“Adolf Hitler was more popular in Germany in the early 30s than … people that were running against him,” Turner said in remarks videotaped by conference administrators. “So, just because you’re bigger doesn’t mean you’re right.”

Convention spokeswoman Michelle Mikoljak said the association had no comment about Turner’s comments and that Turner was no longer in Las Vegas at the conference that continued Wednesday at the Mandalay Bay Event Center.

Turner heads an Atlanta-based philanthropic and business empire that includes restaurants serving buffalo steaks and other American dishes.

He wrote an article published last summer in the Washington Monthly magazine titled “My Beef With Big Media” in which he focused on what he called a loss of quality, localism and democratic debate.

Christian Coalition sued for welching on debt

It’s not like they don’t have the money!

From the Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

The nonprofit Christian Coalition of America is being sued in Tarrant County in an $87,000 dispute with an Oklahoma direct mail company.

Global Direct of Tulsa, Okla., filed the lawsuit in Tarrant County civil court recently, saying the coalition failed to provide a mailing list to the company to conduct a mass mailing solicitation program.

Global Direct said in court documents that the coalition had promised to use as much of the proceeds as necessary to pay off an $87,000 debt outstanding with the Oklahoma company.

The suit says the debt has not yet been paid.

North Korea says it has never had an AIDS case

Considering the plenitudes of woes suffered by the people of North Korea, it is a downright miracle the country has never had an AIDS case. The reason for this miracle, according to a commie gubmint official, is an even bigger miracle: Turns out the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is completely homo-free. Not one homosexual in the whole country. Ever.

Rex Wockner in Windy City Media Group:

You gotta love wacky North Korea. Last month the nation reported that it has never had an AIDS case and also doesn�t have any homosexuals.

The AIDS statistics could be true. This is, after all, the most closed, isolated, secretive nation on the planet. But no gays? Poor, deluded North Korea.

The claims were reported by the Pyongyang Times in an interview it did with Han Kyong Ho, director of the wonderfully named Central Hygienic and Anti-Epizootic Center of the Democratic People�s Republic of Korea Ministry of Health.

�The DPRK is the sole country on the earth that has no AIDS-related patient so far,� Han said. �As a medical worker I feel sure that there will not occur a case in the DPRK in the future, either. The DPRK … encourages the population to have a noble viewpoint towards love, marriage and family, and observe a sound lifestyle. The country has neither licensed and private prostitutes nor homosexuals and drug addicts.�

There�s more. �The socialist system in the country has nothing to do with any socio-economic background giving rise to all descriptions of immorality and depravity,� Han said. �The sound lifestyle prevailing in the society will be upgraded more and more as the people�s standard of ideology and culture is on the rise and education on the socialist morality develops. It is crystal clear that AIDS can never penetrate into this environment.�

I suppose if police keep all foreigners under watch 24/7, North Korea could stay AIDS-free. But, Han did note that 27 foreign workers who tested HIV-positive recently were sent home at their own requests. At some point, a foreign worker who doesn�t know he�s HIV-positive and one of those non-existent North Korean homosexuals are gonna do the deed in a broom closet, beyond the eyes of prying officials, and Han�s disease-free utopia will be history.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day…

The Guardian has new details on President Bush’s grandfather’s financial entanglements with the Nazis:

George Bush’s grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.

The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.

His business dealings, which continued until his company’s assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than 60 years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.

The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator’s action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

The debate over Prescott Bush’s behaviour has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady internet chatter about the “Bush/Nazi” connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis’ plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler’s rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.

Remarkably, little of Bush’s dealings with Germany has received public scrutiny, partly because of the secret status of the documentation involving him. But now the multibillion dollar legal action for damages by two Holocaust survivors against the Bush family, and the imminent publication of three books on the subject are threatening to make Prescott Bush’s business history an uncomfortable issue for his grandson, George W, as he seeks re-election.

While there is no suggestion that Prescott Bush was sympathetic to the Nazi cause, the documents reveal that the firm he worked for, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), acted as a US base for the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the 1930s before falling out with him at the end of the decade. The Guardian has seen evidence that shows Bush was the director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen’s US interests and he continued to work for the bank after America entered the war.

Rush to Judgment?

It�s good to see Florida Attorney General and 2006 Republican candidate for governor Charlie Crist defending our right to privacy. Charlie jumped to protect Rush Limbaugh, and all the rest of us, no doubt, from overzealous prosecutors.

According to stories in the South Florida Sun Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post, Crist’s brief before the Florida Supreme Court supports a lame compromise where they would have, “�a judge review all seized medical records in chambers to decide which ones are pertinent to a criminal investigation before releasing them to prosecutors.”

So have a judge read over all the records first, figure out which parts support or deflate a case, hand the evidence to the lawyers, and then sit back and hear it. Is it me, or is there a flaw here somewhere? Why not just have the judge plead the case too?

Gymnastic reasoning aside, one wonders about Crist’s objectivity. As the Post pointed out,

“Often, the attorney general fights for criminal investigators and on the side of the prosecution. But the office of Crist, a Republican, has refused to help Democratic State Attorney Barry Krischer in this case. “

Apparently Crist just doesn’t want anyone getting carried away. He stated in his brief, quoted in the Sentinel:

“Florida’s constitutional right of privacy guarantees citizens freedom from unwarranted observation of, and interference in, any aspect of their medical records. “

Doctor My Ears

I don’t know about you but I’m about up to here (gestures toward neck) with every single news story and pundit using “Doctor” on second reference to Condoleeza Rice. What is she, the first person ever in government to hold a frickin’ Ph.D.? O.K., I admit she does stand pretty much alone among Bush appointees as having completed some post-graduate work but come on, her official bio says she got her doctorate at the University of Denver! Which I’m sure is a fine state school BTW.

The point is, it’s not like she ever won a Nobel prize, and there are some actual medical doctors out there (paging Gov. Dr. Howard Dean) that are never referred to in the press as “Dr.” Seems like yet another example of the press doing as they’re told by the White House without question.

Mixed Week for Jeb

It must be hard when your unassailable arrogance is tested. Jeb was forced within days of appointing him to accept the resignation of his new speechwriter. Lloyd Brown, recently fired for plagiarism and previously counseled for workplace porn addiction, evidently couldn�t stand the heat. The South Florida Sun Sentinel published part of his letter of resignation but did not state if Brown took the paragraph off a web site or if he wrote it himself.

“�Sensationalized news stories using accusations made against me years ago as a device to attack Gov. Bush have convinced me that I can better serve my family and the governor by not being a distraction from the important work he is doing on behalf of the people of Florida,� Brown said in his resignation letter. His resignation is effective Jan. 31.”

Yes, Jeb is doing important work all right. The budget he introduced this week includes cutting taxes for rich folk while raising community college and state university tuitions AGAIN, privatizing Medicaid and eliminating coverage for catastrophic illness, and eliminating doctor visits and hospital stays for the poorest families and elderly people.

But as the Lakeland Ledger explained, people with at least a quarter-million to toss around for speculation can breathe easy.

“His largest tax-cut proposal this year would continue the phase-out of the intangibles tax on about 233,000 Floridians who hold stocks, bonds and other investments worth more than $250,000. Bush had promised to eliminate the tax, which he calls an ‘insidious’ levy on investments, when he ran for governor in 1998�The tax would be completely eliminated in 2006, Bush’s last year in office.”

Maybe Jeb doesn�t need a speechwriter right now after all. He could just take some of W�s speeches, tweak them a little here and there and, viola! Same stuff, different Bush.

The Party of Wacko Religious Nut Cases

Creepy story in Florida’s St. Petersburg Times.

“A mysterious committee backed by members of a secretive religious group whose members are forbidden to vote spent more than $500,000 on newspaper ads last year supporting President Bush and U.S. Senate candidate Mel Martinez.”

The group was one of many that tried to worked around campaign finance reforms by not identifying itself until the final days of the election, according to the paper.

“The group of men who formed the committee belong to the Exclusive Brethren, a reclusive religious group with roots in England and Australia. The group includes members from Knoxville, Tenn., Omaha, Neb., and other U.S. cities. Members of the Exclusive Brethren do not vote, read newspapers, watch television or participate in the outside world, according to published reports. So why would they care who gets elected in the United States?

“That’s hard to say and members contacted by the St. Petersburg Times wouldn’t say anything except to praise President Bush and say they wanted to see him re-elected.

“Steve Truan, owner of a Knoxville map store, was listed as the contact person for the group, which formed just days before the November election. He said the group likes to �fly beneath the radar� and refused to talk about the ads, all of which were placed by a Knoxville advertising agency whose owners refused to answer questions.”

Of course Bush and Martinez, who seem to have benefited big time, claim the donation was unsolicited.

“The ads included a full page in the New York Times and a smaller one in the Tampa Tribune supporting the president, and a quarter-page ad in the St. Petersburg Times endorsing Republican Mel Martinez for U.S. Senate because of his support for traditional marriage.

“Both campaigns denied knowing anything about the committee or its members.”

How can these guys get away with claiming they represent mainstream Americans? And why do the Democrats let them?