What becomes a scandal in this country is a scandal.

We go to the NYT and we are greeted with two furors -- hey, that has a nice operatic sound, doesn't it? In one corner, the scandal that is singing away concerns the outing of the CIA credentials of an ex-ambassador's wife. She worked undercover. Here's a paragraph in, what, the third NYT story on the subject that I spot today:

"The White House encouraged Republicans to portray the former diplomat at the center of the case, Joseph C. Wilson IV, as a partisan Democrat with an agenda and the Democratic Party as scandalmongering. At the same time, the administration and the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill worked to ensure that no Republicans in Congress break ranks and call for an independent inquiry outside the direct control of the Justice Department."

On NPR, Tom Harkin, the Dem senator from Iowa, opined that this was the worst blow in the war of terrorism ever -- or something like that. Iowa is a pretty fur piece from New York City, as Faulkner might put it --- since I would hestitatingly, and in a quavering voice, suggest that 9/11 was pretty bad. Oh, not as bad as the pain inflicted on Wilson, of course -- but almost, don't you think, Tom? Somehow, that Wilson's wife can no longer work undercover for the CIA does not, to us, appear to undermine civilization as we know it. Actually, what undermines civilization as we know it is the continuing existence of an agency that can employ people that it can officially deny employing ... like, for instance, the CIA. But let's not go there.

Ah, and for those who, clinging to the wreckage of civilization laid waste by the Bush leaker, and who want something a little less D.C.-centric, there is Rush Limbaugh on ESPN. Now, that Rush Limbaugh is a racist pig has not been a secret for, oh, fifteen years or so. His demographic skews to professional Confederacy nostalgists -- like our Attorney General. So there the man was -- Rush, not Ashcroft -- doing the usual coded racist thing. That thing has warped, since the Civil Rights era. It used to be that blacks were inferior, ignorant, genetically challenged. Now it has merged with the old anti-Semitic meme -- the one that claims Jews control everything. The result is the idea that blacks get a free ride in this country. So, the remarks about some black quarterback getting disproportionate attention. Suddenly, the remarks get disproportionate attention, and Rush resigns.

Which begs too many questions about race for one morning. Such as, given that corporate TV is the most demographic driven of businesses, what was the thinking about hiring Rush in the first place? Obviously, appeal to the white male market to which he is such a magnet. And not just any white male market. We are looking for blue collar white males, who in the past thirty years, as their economic life form has been systematically devastated, to the advantage of a quite different circle of white males (see under top income 2 percentile), have secreted an almost predictable, enzymatic reactionary attitude that such as Rush live off of -- an attitude that makes it ever more convenient to assign those guys to the dust heap. The vicious circle of cynicism, race, and exploitation, all in a nice neat package. So the cynical manipulators hire a cynical manipulator whose cynical manipulations land him in hot water, since (since, since, since) ESPN has to pretend to not condone open racism.

Not that we are complaining about the latter. The progress of a civilization can be mapped by the structure of its hypocrisies over time. Still, this is a scandal only for the very bored.

Meanwhile, a non-scandal.

Here's the headline: Senate Panel Backs Bill to Give Tax Windfall to U.S. Companies."
And here's the first graf:

"WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 � American corporations that have deferred taxes for years on the profits they made overseas could be in line for a huge windfall from Congress.Hoping to bring more investment to the United States, the Senate Finance Committee approved a bill on Wednesday that would give a one-time tax holiday to companies that have accumulated as much as $400 billion in foreign profits on which they have yet to pay American taxes."

And isn't this the right time for a tax holiday, boys and girls? With a petty 500 billion dollar plus deficit looming, and 87 billion of it going to an unwinnable war for an inscutable object, the Senate is feeling its oats. No doubt many a Dem, who will otherwise complain about the Bush tax cuts, will vote for this one. It is pure icing. Nobody cares, the angry white guys who are going to continue to be screwed by a government that is shifting the burden of its running to lower incomes either by cuts (which fall on those white guys and their families) or by taxes are going to be talking about Rush, the D.C. wonks will be talking about Wilson, and the corporations will, once again, embed the incredible advantage they have accrued in this society since 1980. Cool or what?