Saturday, October 28, 2006

NATIONAL & WORLD DIGEST October 28, 2006

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The New York Times

End of the Line for Ford Taurus

DETROIT, Oct. 27 - The Ford Taurus is dead. Long live the Taurus?

This week produced one of those stranger-than-fiction moments in Ford'shistory: the last Taurus rolled off the assembly line Friday, in the sameweek that Ford's new chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, said the strugglingcompany needed to transform itself with grand new ambitions - the same kindof ambitions that gave birth to the Taurus, which became the symbol ofAmerican automotive renaissance when it first went on sale in 1985.

The storyline is even more ironic, given that Mr. Mulally, as a topexecutive at Boeing, used the development of the Taurus as an inspirationalcase study for his team as they overhauled the way that Boeing built planes.

And, in a sense, he is doing the same again. "Ford's on a new plan," Mr.Mulally said last week. "We're in business to create value."


The New York Times

October 28, 2006

Rice's Counselor Gives Advice Others May Not Want to Hear


WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 - For the last 18 months, Philip D. Zelikow has churnedout confidential memorandums and proposals for his boss and close friend,Condoleezza Rice, that often depart sharply from the Bush administration'scurrent line.

One described the potential for Iraq to become a "catastrophic failure."Another, among several that have come to light in recent weeks, was an earlycall for changes in a detention policy that many in the State Departmentbelieved was doing tremendous harm to the United States.

Others have proposed new diplomatic initiatives toward North Korea and theMiddle East, and one went as far as to call for a reconsideration of thephrase "war on terror" because it alienated many Muslims - an idea thatquickly fizzled after opposition from the White House.


From Rep. John Conyers

Three Congressional Races Crucial for Democrats to Retake The House

I am writing today to ask you to support three candidates who are contesting seats crucial to winning back the House. They are fighters who value the Constitution and public service more than the politics of personal gain. These three have run terrific campaigns. What they lack is the millions of dollars that their opponents have raised from big money interests and right wing organizations.

John Cranley, Ohio's First District

John Cranley is running on a message for change that is resonating deeply with Ohio voters. His record of bipartisan reform on the Cincinnati City Council is being welcomed by voters as a contrast to the corruption and scandal surrounding Ohio Republicans in Columbus and Washington. John is running in Ken Blackwell's hometown, against an extremist Republican who has over $1 million to spend on ads distorting Cranley's distinguished service on the City Council.

Donate Today

Jerry McNerney, California's 11th District

Environmental groups such as the League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, and Defenders of Wildlife are heavily involved in this race, and Jerry McNerney continues to hit the Republican incumbent, Richard Pombo, for his record on the environment as chairman of the Resources Committee. McNerney has been endorsed by nearly every local union and local Democratic group, and has attracted such widespread grassroots support that he will reach more than 50,000 voters on Election Day.



The Washington Post

The Education Revolution America Needs

By Eugene Hickok
Special to's Think Tank Town
Friday, October 27, 2006; 12:00 AM

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings recently commented that the No ChildLeft Behind Act is nearly perfect. "I talk about No Child Left Behind likeIvory soap: It's 99.9 percent pure," Spellings said.

Even if Secretary Spellings were right that NCLB is 99.9% pure, it stillwould not be the formula for what ails American education.

The current debate over NCLB overlooks a critical problem: Nothing theadministration does under NCLB will ensure the law's promise that everychild will be proficient in reading and math by 2014. For reasons unrelatedto the law's merit, NCLB is simply not up to the task. Something far moreprofound and transformative must happen for American education to offerevery child the opportunity to succeed.


The New York Times

October 28, 2006
Conserving That Compassion
When future generations of Americans look back on the current era, they'llpuzzle over what it was about George W. Bush that made people imagine therewas anything compassionate to his conservatism.

Having apparently lost all hope that he can use terrorism to scare votersinto electing Republicans this November, the president has now begun raisingthe threat of gay marriage.

The moment the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a ruling on the subject thisweek, Mr. Bush began using every possible excuse to bring up "activist"judges and gay weddings on the campaign trail. "I mentioned his love for hisfamily," Mr. Bush said at a rally for a Republican Senate candidate inMichigan. "He understands what I know, that marriage is a fundamentalinstitution of our civilization. Yesterday in New Jersey we had anotheractivist court issue a ruling ..."

The court in New Jersey, for what it's worth, was hardly activist. The StateLegislature had given gay couples the ability to unite in domesticpartnerships that gave them most, but not all, of the legal protectionsavailable to married heterosexuals.


Bush Renews Attack On 'Activist Judges' Following N.J. Gay Ruling
by The Associated Press

October 26, 2006 - 5:00 pm ET

(Des Moines, Iowa) President Bush said the ``sacred institution'' ofmarriage between a man and a woman must be defended against what he calledactivist court rulings.

Bush briefly brought up the topic, unprompted, while raising money here fora Republican congressional candidate, a day after the New Jersey SupremeCourt decided that same-sex couples must be given the same rights as marriedpeople. (story)

The court left it up to the state's Legislature to decide whether to extendthose rights under the structure of marriage, civil unions or somethingelse.

The president said the ruling ``raises doubts about the institution ofmarriage.''


The New York Times

October 28, 2006
'Brothels, Sex Kittens, Pedophilia?'
Republicans panicking is not a pretty sight.

Candidates around the country have been race-baiting, gay-baiting, MichaelJ. Fox-baiting and Hispanic-baiting. But now it has come to this:Republicans are novel-baiting.

Still trying to recover his balance, after slipping on a macaca andadmitting he was a Jewish bubba, one criticized for using racist language,displaying a Confederate flag at home and keeping a hangman's noose at hisold law office, Senator George Allen of Virginia unleashed a vicious attackon Jim Webb Thursday night. He called him a fiction writer.

Senator Macacawitz, as he is now known in Washington, sent the cyber- gossipMatt Drudge a press release called "Webb's Weird World." It featured racyquotes from his rival's novels and the contention that they were "verydisturbing for a candidate hoping to represent the families of Virginians."It said Mr. Webb's novels about the military and war portrayed women as"servile, subordinate, inept, incompetent, promiscuous, perverted, or somecombination of these."


The Washington Post

Thought Police in the Lecture Hall

By Asheesh Kapur Siddique
Saturday, October 28, 2006; A15

Universities are the bulwark of democratic societies -- places whereindividuals with diverse viewpoints come together to learn and to producenew knowledge for addressing social concerns, free of ideologicalinterference. But these centers of freedom are under attack from people whowant to inject partisan politics into our classrooms.

Led by activist David Horowitz, some conservatives are pushing for theadoption of an "Academic Bill of Rights" (ABOR) across America. The billtakes the form of student resolutions or legislative proposals claiming toprotect the academic freedom of college students from ideologicalindoctrination by professors.

My classmates at Princeton passed a modified version of the bill in astudent referendum in April. In July, Philadelphia's Temple Universitybecame the first institution to officially adopt the policy. Arizona'slegislature is preparing to consider a version of the bill.


The Washington Post

The Grand Ayatollah Behind the Curtain

By Colbert I. King
Saturday, October 28, 2006; A15

The question directed this week to the National Security Council pressoffice was straightforward: "Has the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani met withany American official, either military or civilian, since the U.S. invasionin 2003?" The answer reveals the extent to which the Bush administration isnow, and always has been, out of its depth in Iraq.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is Iraq's most powerful figure. Under the reignof Saddam Hussein, Sistani was forced to keep a low profile, since he waspart of the Shiite majority that Hussein's ruling Baath Party controlledwith a heavy hand. Sistani was on the receiving end of assassinationattempts by Hussein's thugs. But all that changed in the spring of 2003,when the United States toppled the Iraqi regime.


Forwarded from Susan Fishkorn
Tri-County -

The New York Times

October 28, 2006

Report Says Iraq Contractor Is Hiding Data From U.S.


A Halliburton subsidiary that has been subjected to numerous investigationsfor billions of dollars in contracts it received for work in Iraq hassystematically misused federal rules to withhold basic information on itspractices from American officials, a federal oversight agency saidyesterday.

The contracts awarded to the company, KBR, formerly named Kellogg Brown &Root, are for housing, food, fuel and other necessities for American troopsand government officials in Iraq, and for restoring that country's crucialoil infrastructure. The contracts total about $20 billion.

The oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for IraqReconstruction, said KBR had refused to disclose information as basic as howmany people are fed each day in its dining facilities and how many gallonsof fuel are delivered to foreign embassies in Iraq, claiming that the datawas proprietary, meaning it would unfairly help its business competitors.


The Washington Post

Official in Abramoff Case Sentenced to 18 Months

By Susan Schmidt
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 28, 2006; A03

A federal judge yesterday sentenced David H. Safavian, a former top Bushadministration official, to 18 months in prison for lying and concealingunethical dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

During an unusual hearing that lasted much of the day, U.S. District JudgePaul L. Friedman wrestled with how to mete out justice to Safavian. He saidSafavian was a man who had "pulled himself up by his bootstraps" and hadbeen "a very good person to a lot of people." But, the judge said, Safavianalso committed "an abuse of the public trust" in his relationship with thelobbyist.

"Did he believe in public service? I guess he did," Friedman said. "But healso wanted someday to join Mr. Abramoff in that lucrative lobbyingbusiness."


The Washington Post

Does the Code Still Work?

By Eugene Robinson
Friday, October 27, 2006; A23

The Republican Party built its "solid South" in part with an appeal toracism against African Americans and other minorities. Sometimes the messagewas explicit -- Jesse Helms's mugging of Harvey Gantt in 1990 was perhapsthe most blatant example. Usually, though, latent prejudice had to besummoned more subtly, using a code that white voters could easily decipher:I'm on your side. The Democrats are with them . Who you gonna vote for?

Election results in Tennessee and Virginia will give us a benchmark, to useGeorge W. Bush's new favorite word, of how much the South has changed -- andalso, by the way, will probably determine whether the Democratic Party pullsoff an upset and captures the Senate.

Rep. Harold Ford Jr., the scion of an African American political dynasty,wasn't expected to mount a serious challenge in Tennessee for the Senateseat being vacated by retiring Majority Leader Bill Frist. But with lessthan two weeks to go, most polls show him in a virtual dead heat withRepublican Bob Corker, a former mayor of Chattanooga. That Ford is evenwithin striking distance says a lot about how disillusioned manyself-described independent voters are with the Republican pooh-bahs inWashington, who have been running the country long enough that they can'tcredibly blame Democrats for much of anything.


The New York Times

October 28, 2006


The Disillusionment of a Young White House Evangelical

In an election season, how could an "inside story of political seduction,"to quote the subtitle of David Kuo's "Tempting Faith," not be mined forevery politically explosive example it offers?

And Mr. Kuo, who once wrote speeches for William J. Bennett, Pat Robertson,John Ashcroft, Bob Dole and George W. Bush and who served more than twoyears as second in command at the White House Office of Faith-Based andCommunity Initiatives, offers plenty.

In his tenure at that office, warm words about compassion, he argues, werebelied by meager financing and bureaucratic indifference. Federally financedconferences for religious leaders, he says, were adroitly arranged tobenefit threatened Republican incumbents. The conservative Christianleadership that was publicly stroked, he reports, was being privatelyderided by members of the White House staff.


October 25, 2006
Republicans and the Culture of Stupidity
By randyholhut

DUMMERSTON, Vt. - For the second year in a row, Vermont was ranked thesmartest state in the union by the Kansas-based research group MorganQuitno.

Rankings such as these are always in the eye of the beholder, but the MorganQuitno study measured school spending, graduation rates, standardized testscores, dropout rates, student-teacher ratios and the percentage of studentsin public schools.

The study gives more weight to test scores than to school spending, sospending more on public schools doesn't necessarily count for more thanactual performance by students.

Vermont has smaller class sizes and higher per-pupil expenditures than moststates. Our students usually do well on standard tests and the overallquality of secondary education is good. That's why Vermont hasn't finishedlower than third in the five years the Morgan Quitno study has been done.