Brian dead cable news

I’ve had MSNBC on all day and I’ve heard virtually nothing about the situation in Iraq, despite the developing story regarding the increase in violence and the battles in Basra.

Of course, they’ve given plenty of air time to Barack Obama’s bowling score and the Monica Lewinsky questions lobbed at Chelsea Clinton.

The costs of free trade

Newsweek has a disturbing story about the millions of Asian working who are working in slave-like servitude.

Some of the world’s leading computer makers don’t want you to know about Local Technic Industry. It’s a typical Malaysian company, one of many small makers of the cast-aluminum bodies for hard-disk drives used in just about every name-brand machine on the market. But that’s precisely the problem: it’s a typical Malaysian company. About 60 percent of Local Technic’s 160 employees are from outside Malaysia—and a company executive says he pities those guest workers. “They have been fooled hook, line and sinker,” he says, asking not to be named because others in the business wouldn’t like his talking to the press. “They have been taken for a ride.” It’s not Local Technic’s fault, he insists: sleazy labor brokers outside the country tricked the workers into paying huge placement fees for jobs that yield a net income close to zero. “They say they were promised 3,000 ringgits [$950] a month,” the manager says. “How can we pay that? If we did, we would be bankrupt in no time.”

So why don’t those foreign employees just quit? Because they can’t, even if they find out they’ve been cheated by the very brokers who brought them there. Malaysian law requires guest workers to sign multiple-year contracts and surrender their passports to their employers. Those who run away but stay in Malaysia are automatically classed as illegal aliens, subject to arrest, imprisonment and caning before being expelled from the country. “Passport, company take,” says a Bangladeshi who has worked at Local Technic. (Like other workers in this story, he fears possible reprisals if he is named.) “They say, ‘You come to this company, must work for this company and cannot work other place.’ They say, ‘If you work [for] someone else, the police will catch you’.” He paid a broker in Bangladesh $3,600 to get him a job at Local Technic. When he arrived, he says, he learned he was making $114 a month after deductions for room, board and taxes. The math is simple: minus the broker’s fee, his net monthly pay is $14. If he never spends a penny on himself, three years of labor will earn him a grand total of $504.

Free trade is absolutely necessary to the global economy, but we need to start getting serious about labor and environmental standards. Putting an end to this type of forced labor would be an obvious place to start.

Brutality in Iraq

This story in the Washington Post shows how low we’ve been willing to sink to restore “security” in Iraq. We’ve basically turned Fallujah over to a thug from Saddam’s regime, and he’s happily using Saddam’s tactics to control the city.

Why are our soldiers dying for this?

The reduced death toll from Iraq is a mirage. What price are we paying to reduce the death toll numbers just to convey the impression of improved “security”?

4,000

The death toll for U.S. soldiers in Iraq hits 4,000.

Brilliant column from E. J. Dionne

All those conservatives blasting Obama and Reverend Wright while praising Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. might want to read this column. Dr. King was a great man, but he hated war, and he did not mince words about America’s war in Vietnam.

Chris Wallace blasts his Fox News colleagues for “Obama-bashing”

The mayhem at Fox News this morning shows that some members of that organization are becoming uncomfortable with Fox’s attempts to destroy Obama and distort everything he says.

This morning, one anchor on Fox News literally walked off the set after his two-co-anchors continuously tried to distort Obama’s statements and take them out of context.

Then, Chris Wallace came on air and said he was watching the program for two hours and expressed his disappointment that the program was basically engaged in “Obama-bashing” all morning, especially on a day when Obama was being endorsed by Bill Richardson and we have the passport controversy.

Good for Wallace. It’s nice to see he hasn’t completely forgotten the concept of journalistic integrity.

MIke Huckabee on the Wright controversy

It’s statements like this that explain I always liked Mike Huckabee and why he was able to generate so much support. I don’t agree with many of his policies, but the man is a true Christian. He has empathy for other people and tries to understand their plight. He also understands that we’re all human and we make mistakes.

And one other thing I think we’ve gotta remember. As easy as it is for those of us who are white, to look back and say “That’s a terrible statement!”…I grew up in a very segregated south. And I think that you have to cut some slack — and I’m gonna be probably the only Conservative in America who’s gonna say something like this, but I’m just tellin’ you — we’ve gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names, being told “you have to sit in the balcony when you go to the movie. You have to go to the back door to go into the restaurant. And you can’t sit out there with everyone else. There’s a separate waiting room in the doctor’s office. Here’s where you sit on the bus…” And you know what? Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. I probably would too. In fact, I may have had more of a chip on my shoulder had it been me.

Reverend Wright said some very stupid things. They should be condemned and Barack Obama condemned them. But, it’s clear this man is very angry about the injustices that blacks have endured in this country. This does not justify his statements, and as Obama explained, this anger can cloud one’s judgement. Wright could not see the progress we have made.

That said, it was incredibly gracious for Huckabee to show some compassion and understanding, and to not kick Wright while he’s down. Here’s the video.

Obama blasts McCain on Iraq

Over the past several days, John McCain has twice repeated a ridiculous statement about al Qaeda in Iraq, saying that Iran (a Shiite nation) was training al Qaeda terrorists (who are Sunnis). This is almost as ridiculous as his recent statements that al Qaeda would take over Iraq if we left, as if the majority Shiites would ever let that happen.

Today, Barack Obama went after McCain on his fundamental misunderstanding of the situation in Iraq.

Now we know what we’ll hear from those like John McCain who support open-ended war. They will argue that leaving Iraq is surrender. That we are emboldening the enemy. These are the mistaken and misleading arguments we hear from those who have failed to demonstrate how the war in Iraq has made us safer. Just yesterday, we heard Senator McCain confuse Sunni and Shiite, Iran and al Qaeda. Maybe that is why he voted to go to war with a country that had no al Qaeda ties. Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America’s enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades.

Jack Murtha endorses Hillary

Murtha’s endorsement is a huge win for Hillary in Pennsylvania. She already has a big lead in the state, and this will help even more. He also helps her with the Iraq War issue as well.

On the other hand, Murtha is known as one of the biggest earmark spenders in Congress. He knows how to play by the old rules and he’s cozy with the lobbyists. I’m sure Obama’s reform agenda does not sit too well with him.

Obama’s speech on race

There will be endless commentary on this incredible speech, but it’s important for every American to see it and form their own impressions.

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