To not have shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak.

There is so much irony in regards to this weeks manufactured outrage by the right-wing blogs regarding Al Gore’s supposed ties to Saudi Arabia that its difficult for me to take seriously. Part of the noise now and always is to deflect from whatever real scandal the House of Bush has currently got itself involved in or the newest corruption charges against a congressional conservative. If Al Gore has close ties to the Saudis, he’s pushing over Bush family and associates to make contact. The Barreling Bushes

George H.W. Bush was the first CIA director to come from the oil industry. He went on to became the first vice president — and then the first president — to have either an oil or CIA background. This helps to explain his persistent bent toward the Middle East, covert operations and rogue banks like the Abu Dhabi-based Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), which came to be known by the nickname “Bank of Crooks and Criminals International.” In each of the government offices he held, he encouraged CIA involvement in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries, and he pursued policies that helped make the Middle East into the world’s primary destination for arms shipments.

Taking the CIA helm in January 1976, Bush cemented strong relations with the intelligence services of both Saudi Arabia and the shah of Iran. He worked closely with Kamal Adham, the head of Saudi intelligence, brother-in-law of King Faisal and an early BCCI insider

In internet time its ancient history now, but there was mention of BCCI in the background of the 2004 presidential election. How John Kerry busted the terrorists’ favorite bank.

….the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) was a highly respected financial titan. In 1987, when its subsidiary helped finance a deal involving Texas oilman George W. Bush, the bank appeared to be a reputable institution, with attractive branch offices, a traveler’s check business, and a solid reputation for financing international trade. It had high-powered allies in Washington and boasted relationships with respected figures around the world.
[ ]..Kerry had helped dismantle a massive criminal enterprise and exposed the infrastructure of BCCI and its affiliated institutions, a web that law enforcement officials today acknowledge would become a model for international terrorist financing. As Kerry’s investigation revealed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, BCCI was interested in more than just enriching its clients–it had a fundamentally anti-Western mission. Among the stated goals of its Pakistani founder were to “fight the evil influence of the West,” and finance Muslim terrorist organizations.

full Senate report here, The BCCI Affair
note the section on Henry Kissinger, the guy that lead footed the Paris Peace accords and who George W. Bush originally proposed to head the 9-11 Commission.
Everyone probably knows that Saudi Arabia turned somewhat of a blind eye to charities that were fronts for funneling money to Osama Bin Laden and associates. That somewhat changed after al-Qaeda attacked three housing complexes in Riyadh. After this the Saudis killed 11 al-Qaeda suspects and arrested over 200. INSIDE THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA
I don’t pretend to know the answers, but it does seem that the majority of Saudis are more pro-west, then pro al-Qaeda. The Saudi royals and privleged class get to have it both ways, they enjoy traditional power and patirarchy at home, yet because of their wealth get to enjoy a little weatern decadence when they travel. A practice that fundamentalists like OBL would stop if they were in control ( a shared obsession of Muslim and Christian fundamentalists is the percieved threat of popular culture to so-called traditional values). So who are we to take our cues from, a Whitehouse that says we should have good relations with the Saudis for the sake of the hearts and minds war, and of course for cheap gas. Or should we take our cues from right-wing bloggers who deny the three generations of Bush ties to the Saudis who are trying to deflect srutiny away from President Bush and his Saudi policies to relatively unimportant talks given by Al Gore to actually carry out Bush’s stated goals of promotong democratic values in the middle-east. What Al did was right out of Dale Carnegie – hi , sorry about the whole rosting and hate crimes thing after 9-11, and ya know you guys could help with the whole Iran as a nuclear power threat.

update: via Mahablog this report from Bush’s own Department of Justice Inspector General,  Issues Report on Treatment of Aliens Held on Immigration Charges in Connection with the Investigation of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks

With regard to allegations of abuse at the MDC, the evidence indicates a pattern of physical and verbal abuse by some correctional officers at the MDC against some September 11 detainees, particularly during the first months after the attacks and during intake and movement of prisoners.

If moderate Americans are at the point where they don’t have much confidence in what President Bunnypants says, its because his stated goals and supposed accomplishments don’t quite live up to the hype, Bush Administration Leaves Chemical and Nuclear Plants, HazMat, Ports and Water Systems Vulnerable to Terrorists

Eighty-five percent of the nation’s critical infrastructure is controlled by the private sector. However, the Bush administration has been notoriously hostile toward the reasonable regulation of private industry, including the industries mentioned in this report. It has blocked efforts to create rules to strengthen security at chemical and nuclear plants, make the transportation of hazardous materials more secure, ensure the safety of the drinking water supply or secure the nation’s ports.

The report suggests that this is in part because industries representing the five homeland security areas examined in this study collectively have:

Raised at least $19.9 million for the Bush campaigns, the Republican National Committee or the Bush inauguration since the 2000 cycle.
Provided 10 Rangers and 20 Pioneers – individuals who raise at least $200,000 and $100,000, respectively – to the Bush presidential campaigns.
Spent at least $201 million lobbying the White House, executive branch agencies and Congress from 2002 through June 2004.

Did Herman Melville have an aternate ending to Moby- Dick ? Technology is reshaping literary scholarship on Herman Melville through recovery of his lost annotations
and more here, Melville’s Marginalia Online

Steven Olsen-Smith, an associate professor of English at Boise State University, has recovered the notes that Melville made in his copy of a critical source for Moby-Dick: Thomas Beale’s 1839 book, The Natural History of the Sperm Whale. At the Web site, an edition of Beale’s book has been transformed into a browsable, searchable PDF file with check marks, underlinings, and notations inserted in the spots where Melville had them.

It’s available as a searchable pdf file.

Neither the right or left escapes criticism in this review of the cartoon wars and censorship, A Cartoon’s Portrait of America

I’m not one to follow conservative newspaper pundits very closely. Besides being incredible bores, they’re the elite of conservative hypocrites. Knowing that their audience has the attention span of a two year old with a new toy, they repeatedly contradict themselves within the space of their next ten columns, but having made sure that the column on any given occassion has left room for interpretation, they can always later claim on being caught that what they said was not what they meant, they meant something else all together. Thus we have Jonah vs Jonah, wherein Jonah Goldberg gets involved in identity politics and knocks out his opponent, himself.

More on That Report on Guantanamo

The administration’s response to that allegation, according to the Associated Press, is that it is incorrect to

judg[e] U.S. treatment of detainees according to peacetime human rights laws. The United States contends it is in a state of conflict and should be judged according to the laws of war. “Once you fail to even acknowledge that as the legal basis for what we’re doing, much of the legal analysis that follows just doesn’t hold,” a State Department official said.

One wrinkle in that argument, though, is that (as the St. Petersburg Times notes today), more than half of the people being held at Guantanamo have “no history of engaging in hostile acts against the United States or its allies.” Fully 86 percent of those held were turned over to the U.S. by Afghan or Pakistani forces, and the detainees may

include many noncombatant humanitarian workers and teachers who had no animus toward the United States. Rich rewards gave the Afghans and Pakistanis incentives to offer up any Arabs they could find. The federal government took the prisoners on faith and has not made much of an effort to investigate the veracity of their claims of innocence.

Additionally, according to The National Journal, at least 8 of the more than 500 detainees continue to be held “even though they are no longer designated as enemy combatants.”

Since I did something on Melville up front, lets end with something a little different, Jon Stewart’s take on the Dick Cheney hunting accident. “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” (Comedy Central)

Jon Stewart: “Peppered. There you have it. Harry Whittington, seasoned to within an inch of his life.
* * *

Jon Stewart: “I’m joined now by our own vice-presidential firearms mishap analyst, Rob Corddry. Rob, obviously a very unfortunate situation. How is the vice president handling it?

Rob Corddry: “Jon, tonight the vice president is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Wittington. According to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time there were quail in the brush.

“And while the quail turned out to be a 78-year-old man, even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face. He believes the world is a better place for his spreading buckshot throughout the entire region of Mr. Whittington’s face.”

Jon Stewart: “But why, Rob? If he had known Mr. Whittington was not a bird, why would he still have shot him?”

Rob Corddry: “Jon, in a post-9-11 world, the American people expect their leaders to be decisive. To not have shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak.”

Jon Stewart: “That’s horrible.”

Rob Corddry: “Look, the mere fact that we’re even talking about how the vice president drives up with his rich friends in cars to shoot farm-raised wingless quail-tards is letting the quail know ‘how’ we’re hunting them. I’m sure right now those birds are laughing at us in that little ‘covey’ of theirs.

Jon Stewart: “I’m not sure birds can laugh, Rob.”

Rob Corddry: “Well, whatever it is they do … coo .. they’re cooing at us right now, Jon, because here we are talking openly about our plans to hunt them. Jig is up. Quails one, America zero.

Jon Stewart: “Okay, well, on a purely human level, is the vice president at least sorry?”

Rob Corddry: “Jon, what difference does it make? The bullets are already in this man’s face. Let’s move forward across party lines as a people … to get him some sort of mask.”