<!-- Begin meta tags generated by ORblogs --> </meta name="keywords" content="progressive, liberal, politics, government, edit, language, grammar, accuracy, honesty, clarity, world, news, media" /> </> <!-- End meta tags generated by ORblogs -->> Editor at Large: January 2005

Monday, January 31, 2005

Sexual abuse at Guantanamo "beyond belief"

A former American Army sergeant who worked as an Arabic interpreter at Guantanamo has written a book detailing the ways female interrogators used sex and religion to try to break Muslim detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba. As the NY Times' Maureen Dowd says, "It's not merely disgusting. It's beyond belief."

The yet-unpublished book has been deemed classified pending a Pentagon review, but the Associated Press interviewed the author, Eric R. Saar, who recounted the following harrowing anecdote:

A female military interrogator who wanted to turn up the heat on a 21-year-old Saudi detainee who allegedly had taken flying lessons in Arizona before 9/11 removed her uniform top to expose a snug T-shirt. She began belittling the prisoner—who was praying with his eyes closed—as she touched her breasts, rubbed them against the Saudi's back and commented on his apparent erection.

After the prisoner spat in her face, she left the room to ask a Muslim linguist how she could break the prisoner's reliance on God. The linguist suggested she tell the prisoner that she was menstruating, touch him, and then shut off the water in his cell so he couldn't wash.

"The concept was to make the detainee feel that after talking to her he was unclean and was unable to go before his God in prayer and gain strength," Mr. Saar recounted, adding: "She then started to place her hands in her pants as she walked behind the detainee. As she circled around him he could see that she was taking her hand out of her pants. When it became visible the detainee saw what appeared to be red blood on her hand. She said, 'Who sent you to Arizona?' He then glared at her with a piercing look of hatred. She then wiped the red ink on his face. He shouted at the top of his lungs, spat at her and lunged forward," breaking out of an ankle shackle.

"He began to cry like a baby," the author wrote, adding that the interrogator's parting shot was: "Have a fun night in your cell without any water to clean yourself."

As Maureen Dowd says, "Who are these women? Who allows this to happen? Why don't the officers who allow it get into trouble? Why do Rummy and Paul Wolfowitz still have their jobs?"


The cost of war in Iraq

For an appalling reminder of how much it's costing us to make Iraq "free," visit http://costofwar.com/

The site features a running tally of how much we've spent so far in Iraq ($152,505,000,000 at this writing) and lets you see how much it has cost your state and several individual cities in your state (for example, Portland, Oregon, was up to $201,495,000 when we logged on). You can also compare the cost of war to how much is being spent on pre-school education, kids' healthcare, public education, college scholarships, public housing, world hunger, the AIDS epidemic, and world immunizations.

Warning: the site isn't for the faint of heart. But then, neither is living in this imperialistic country.

(Thanks to Linda Larsen.)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Bush says he would pull out of Iraq if asked to do so

When Bush was asked in an interview yesterday with the NY Times if, as a matter of principle, the United States would pull out of Iraq at the request of its new government, he said: "Absolutely. This is a sovereign government. They're on their feet."

OK. Remember you heard him say that. But also remember that you've heard him say a lot of other things...


Ronald McDonald to become "health ambassador"

In an effort to appear to consider to attempt to address the child obesity issue, McDonald's is sending Ronald McDonald into elementary schools to push fitness. So now McDonald's "chief happiness officer" will also be the company's "ambassador for an active, balanced lifestyle," says McDonald's Chief Creative Officer, Marlena Peleo-Lazar.

Can't you see Ronald doing his best Richard Simmons impersonation while wearing a clown costume, his painted simpering grin barely concealing his contempt for his lame, pointless, meaningless, dead-end job?

Think this has anything to with the recently reinstated lawsuit against McDonald's in which two New York teenagers claimed they became fat because the company concealed the health risks of its food?



Thursday, January 27, 2005

New education secretary asserts her homophobia

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has denounced PBS for spending public money on a cartoon with lesbian characters. The yet-unaired episode of "Postcards from Buster'' shows Buster (an animated bunny) on a trip to Vermont—a state that recognizes same-sex civil unions. The episode, called "Sugartime!", focuses on farm life and maple sugaring but happens to include two lesbian couples.

Spellings said the "Sugartime!'' episode does not fulfill the intent Congress had in mind for programming. By law, she said, any funded shows must give top attention to "research-based educational objectives, content, and materials.''

Lea Sloan, vice president of media relations at PBS, responded: "The fact that there is a family structure that is objectionable to the Department of Education is not at all the focus of the show, nor is it addressed in the show." However, Sloan also said, "The department's concerns align very closely with PBS' concerns, and for that reason, it was decided that PBS will not be providing the episode.''

Again, if you haven't already ordered your 'HOMOPHOBEPHOBE" bumper sticker from our online store (www.cafepress.com/editoratlarge), now is a good time to do so.


Suicidal man may face death penalty

This one is from the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction file: The Los Angeles man who parked his car on train tracks—then jumped out of it before the train crashed into it—may face the death penalty for homicide. The crash killed 11 and injured more than 180.


Bush hires commentator to defend his hiring of commentators

Well, not really, but it wouldn't surprise us if he did. Yesterday House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and nine colleagues released a report showing that the Bush administration spent more than $88 million last year on contracts with public relations firms.


Why would Bush feel the need to spend that kind of money—our money—to promote his agenda? Could it be...that he knows his agenda is bogus? That it needs all the promoting he can buy—with our money?

Bush, of course, accepts no responsibility for the travesty. He said yesterday that Armstrong Williams and the Education Department had made a mistake, and that federal agencies should stop awarding contracts to outside commentators. "All our Cabinet secretaries must realize that we will not be paying, you know, commentators to advance our agenda," Bush said. "Our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet."

Well, yeah, it ought to. But it never will, as long as Bush refuses to stand on his own two feet.


Oh...so ending tyranny is an IDEAL?

President Bush backpedaled yesterday on his "ending tyranny in our world" comment in his inaugural adddress, saying that it's a long-term ideal, not a new policy.

Damn. We were hoping he had turned over a new leaf.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Poll: 31% of Americans are ashamed of Bush

A new poll by Zogby International finds that 31% of Americans are ashamed that Mr. Bush is their president. A month ago it was 26 percent. Buyers' remorse?

In addition, 76% believe the U.S. "should let Iran determine its own future and are opposed to the U.S. trying to bring about regime change in the Islamic state"—i.e., we should not attack Iran. Ya think?

Not that it will make any difference, but we hope both numbers continue climbing.


Clever cartoon compromised by write-o

A cartoon in today's The Daily Barometer shows a man, presumably a naïve college student, flying horizontally alongside a "Skittlz" truck, with his tongue stuck to the image of a rainbow on the side of the truck. The image and its execution are humorous enough but they are unfortunately compromised by a write-o (a handwritten typo) in the caption. The caption reads:

"Bob realized it wasn't such a good idea to taste the rainbow in sub-degree temperatures."

We think the cartoonist meant "sub-freezing," but perhaps he or she was preoccupied with which degree to pursue and Freud slipped through the crack...


Quote of the day

"I don't like to impugn anyone's integrity, but I really don't like being lied to repeatedly, flagrantly, intentionally. It's wrong; it's undemocratic; it's un-American; and it's very dangerous. It is very, very dangerous. And it is occurring far too frequently in this administration." —Senator Mark Dayton (D-Minnesota), to Condoleezza Rice at yesterday's Senate hearings on her nomination for secretary of state


What is wrong with this world?

Two young women—one of them five months pregnant and the other a criminal justice student—have been accused of beating an 82-year-old woman with a wrench and robbing her house in Springfield, Oregon.

The women forced their way through the back door of the elderly woman's house as she was preparing for her grandson's birthday party.

Notwithstanding the weirdness and twisted irony of a pregnant woman and a criminal justice student beating an elderly woman, how can one even begin to fathom such darkness, let alone illuminate it?


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Another $80 billion (for now) and at least two more years in Iraq

Bush wants another $80 billion to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the U.S. Army plans to keep 120,000 soldiers in Iraq for at least two more years.

Bush administration officials say the additional funding is the result of continuing high costs incurred battling an unexpectedly strong insurgency in Iraq. Oh—and failing to capitalize on all that Iraqi oil, due to the unexpectedly strong insurgency.


Homophobes threaten Bush

A coalition of conservative Christian groups is threatening to withhold support for Bush's Social Security makeover unless Bush renews his commitment to a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

In a confidential letter to Bush puppetmaster Karl Rove, the group said it was disappointed with the White House's decision to put Social Security and other economic issues ahead of its opposition to gay marriage. Here's an excerpt from the letter:

"We couldn't help but notice the contrast between how the president is approaching the difficult issue of Social Security privatization where the public is deeply divided and the marriage issue where public opinion is overwhelmingly on his side. Is he prepared to spend significant political capital on privatization but reluctant to devote the same energy to preserving traditional marriage? If so it would create outrage with countless voters who stood with him just a few weeks ago, including an unprecedented number of African-Americans, Latinos and Catholics who broke with tradition and supported the president solely because of this issue. When the administration adopts a defeatist attitude on an issue that is at the top of our agenda, it becomes impossible for us to unite our movement on an issue such as Social Security privatization where there are already deep misgivings."

To express your fear of these very scary homophobes, go to www.cafepress.com/editoratlarge and order several copies of our "HOMOPHOBEPHOBE" bumper sticker today!


Quote of the day

From The Borowitz Report (www.borowitzreport.com):

"Elsewhere, the conservative group Focus on the Family pressed for a constitutional amendment banning marriage between a man and SpongeBob SquarePants. "

Monday, January 24, 2005

Undoubtably? Doubtable

In his latest column ("Inaugural II: This time it's personal"), Will Durst was not only hilarious as usual, but inventive—he coined a new word:

"...more fiber is undoubtably a good thing."

Strangely, "undoubtable" is in the dictionary but "undoubtably" isn't. The word Mr. Durst may have meant to use (unless he was just being creative) was "undoubtedly."


Quote of the day

"Let me tell you something important. As long as my country is under occupation, I feel that my vote means nothing."
—Walid Muhammad, the imam of a major Sunni mosque in Iraq


What in hell were they thinking?

OK, so they made the right choice in removing it...but why the hell did they develop it in the first place? A tsunami GAME? And a cartoon dancing frog?

From today's NewsScan Daily (www.newsscan.com):

Afraid it would be seen as unintentionally trivializing the recent tsunami disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has removed from its Web site an online game that was meant to educate kids about tsunamis. The game, designed in 1998, asked players to guide beach objects back to their proper places after they were scattered by a tsunami.
Game-winners were awarded with a link to a cartoon dancing frog. (AP/San Jose Mercury News 21 Jan 2005)


The U.S. is environmentally unsustainable

The U.S. ranked 45th out of 146 countries studied in an index of environmental sustainability that ranks nations on their success at such tasks as maintaining or improving air and water quality, maximizing biodiversity, and cooperating with other countries on environmental problems.

Even Russia ranked higher than the U.S., at 33rd.

The study, performed by researchers at Yale and Columbia universities, is based on 75 measures, including fertility rates, water quality, overfishing, emission of heat-trapping gases, emissions that contribute to acid rain, and the rate at which children die from respiratory diseases.

The top 10 countries: Finland, Norway, Uruguay, Sweden, Iceland, Canada, Switzerland, Guyana, Argentina, and Austria.


Friday, January 21, 2005

FCC chairman Powell resigns

Like father, like son...FCC chairman Michael Powell, like his father Colin Powell, who resigned as secretary of state, has announced his resignation, saying that he wants to spend more time with Janet Jackson and Howard Stern.

Just kidding. But the real reason he's resigning is equally bizarre: he feels he has accomplished his goals...which apparently included 1) deregulating the communications industry so that individual companies could own TV stations reaching nearly half the nation's viewers and have combinations of newspapers and broadcast outlets in the same community, and 2) assessing a record $7.7 million in indecency fines for broadcast programming.

We hope retirement gives Powell a chance to reflect on the indecency of allowing Fox and Clear Channel to monopolize our airwaves and brainwaves.


Cheney: Iran is next

In an interview with Don Imus yesterday on MSNBC's "Imus in the Morning," Dick Cheney all but declared war on Iran.

He said Iran is a top threat to world peace and Middle East stability and accused Tehran of promoting terrorism against Americans and building a "fairly robust new nuclear program."

"You look around the world at potential trouble spots," Cheney said. "Iran is right at the top of the list."

Cheney also warned that Israel "might well decide to act first" against Iran if the U.S. and its allies fail to resolve the situation diplomatically. "Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel," Cheney said, "the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards." Kind of like we've done with Iraq?

"We don't want a war in the Middle East, if we can avoid it," Cheney said. But we can't avoid it—right, Mr. Cheney?


Bush concedes presidency to Kerry

Well, not really, but he did say yesterday in his inaugural address that he has "the great objective of ending tyranny." Sounds like a concession to us...


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Who has one damn dime to spend?

Today, Bush's inauguration day, is also Not One Damn Dime Day—the idea of which is to protest Bush's inauguration by refusing to support what he stands for—corporate interests.

Of course, if you're like most working people, you're recognizing Not One Damn Dime Day by default: thanks to Bush's failed economic policies and the war, you don't have one damn dime to spend.

Quote of the inauguration day

"Perhaps over the next four years we would all be wise to suppress our natural talent for happiness and strive instead to be truly, deeply distressed." —Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology at Harvard


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Quote of the day

"Elsewhere, at the U.S. Senate, Secretary of State nominee Condoleezza Rice began her second day of not answering questions." —The Borowitz Report (http://www.borowitzreport.com/)

Boxer steams Rice

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), the lone senator with enough balls to challenge the Ohio vote, challenged Condoleezza Rice yesterday during the confirmation hearings for Rice's appointment as secretary of state.

"I personally believe," Boxer said to Rice, "that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell this war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth."

Rice's response: "'I have never, ever, lost respect for the truth in the service of anything." Except, of course, in the service of her husb—er, the president. (Rice, who is unmarried, recently referred to Bush as "my husb—the president").

Ms. Boxer, keep those gloves on—and watch out for the right jab.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Harvard president thinks women are intellectually "different" from men

Last week at an academic conference, the president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, suggested that innate differences in sex may explain why fewer women succeed in science and math careers.

Yesterday he said he stands by his comments but regrets if they were misunderstood. "I'm sorry for any misunderstanding but believe that raising questions, discussing multiple factors that may explain a difficult problem, and seeking to understand how they interrelate is vitally important."

A difficult problem, indeed. One that you yourself have created, Dr. Summers.

Nancy Hopkins, a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, attended the conference but walked out when Dr. Summers made his ill-advised remarks. "When he started talking about innate differences in aptitude between men and women, I just couldn't breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill," Dr. Hopkins said. "Let's not forget that people used to say that women couldn't drive an automobile."

Memo to Dr. Summers: Those "innate differences" are real, all right—women, obviously, are smarter than men.


Neener, neener, neener

Bush to the Washington Post:

"We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections. The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me."

Excuse our British, but what a wanker. Does Bush honestly believe that because he allegedly edged out John Kerry by three points, "the American people" chose his policy on Iraq?

We should know by now that it's futile to keep hoping Bush himself will ever have an "accountability moment."


Kerry finally breaks his silence about the vote

At Boston's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Breakfast yesterday, John Kerry finally had somethng to say about the election results:

"Voting machines were distributed in uneven ways. In Democratic districts, it took people four, five, 11 hours to vote, while Republicans [went] through in 10 minutes—same voting machines, same process, our America. In a nation which is willing to spend several hundred million dollars in Iraq to bring them democracy, we cannot tolerate that here in America too many people were denied that democracy."

Too many people are denied democracy every day in America, and Mr. Kerry is right—we cannot keep tolerating it.


Response from the editor of NewsScan

Touchy, touchy, touchy. (Or is it touché, touché, touché?)

In response to our blog entry, "Maybe they will be able to afford a literacy course for headline writers," NewsScan Daily editor John Gehl wrote:

"With all due respect, you seem not to understand the distinction between being literate and being careful. Perhaps YOU are the one who needs to take a literacy class."

Perhaps. But before we enroll, please allow us to explain what we were trying to do. We were trying, however feebly, to point out the irony in the misspelling of "libraries"—those bastions of literacy—in your headline.

We are very sorry, Mr. Gehl, if our scoffing impugned either your literacy or your carefulness. From now on, we will try to ignore any irony we find in your very literate e-newsletter, NewsScan Daily (http://www.newsscan.com/).

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Maybe they will be able to afford a literacy class for headline writers...

In today's NewsScan Daily:



Thousands dead, billions spent, no WMD

The hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has officially ended with no WMD ever found.

In an interview with Barbara Walters that will air on ABC's "20/20" tomorrow (Friday, January 14) at 10 pm, President Bush tells Walters, "I felt like we'd find weapons of mass destruction—like many here in the United States, many around the world. The United Nations thought he had weapons of mass destruction. So, therefore: one, we need to find out what went wrong in the intelligence gathering. . . . Saddam was dangerous and the world is safer without him in power."

One, what went wrong in the intelligence gathering was that Bush ignored the intelligence. Two, everyone agrees that Saddam was bad, but our invasion of Iraq has bred thousands more terrorists and potential terrorists with even greater anger toward Americans. Does that sound like a safer world?

When Walters asked Bush whether the war was worth it even if there were no WMD, Bush responded, "Oh, absolutely."

Worth it to Bush, perhaps, because it won him a second term (Americans are reluctant to remove a sitting president during wartime), but to whom else? Raise your hand if it was worth it to you, or to your neighbor whose kid was sent to Iraq and was killed, or to the soldier who lost a limb or an eye or is otherwise physically or emotionally scarred for life, or to the wife who lost a husband, the husband who lost a wife, the daughter who lost a father, the son who lost a mother...


Monday, January 10, 2005

Did Jon Stewart precipitate the demise of "Crossfire"?

A couple of months ago, Jon Stewart, star of Comedy Central's brilliant and hilarious "Daily Show," appeared on CNN's political commentary show, "Crossfire," and told hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson that their show was "partisan hackery" that was "hurting America."

Now CNN President Jonathan Klein, who said he agrees with Jon Stewart's assessment of "Crossfire," is cancelling the show and steering CNN back toward actual news.

Thank you, Jon Stewart. We hope you've started a trend.


Speaking of integrity...

The Education Department paid conservative commentator Armstrong Williams $241,000 to help promote President Bush's No Child Left Behind law on Williams' syndicated TV and radio shows.

Williams, one of the most prominent black conservatives in the media, said he understands "why some people think it's unethical." When asked whether people would be justified in thinking he sold his opinions to the government for cash, he said: "It's fair for someone to make that assessment."

It's also fair that Williams' newspaper syndicate has canceled his column, a television network carrying his program has dropped it pending an investigation, and Congressional Democrats are accusing the administration of trying to bribe journalists.


Kenneth Blackwell strikes again

Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, already under scrutiny for allegedly mishandling the presidential vote, sent a fundraising letter for his 2006 gubernatorial campaign asking for illegal contributions.

A pledge card accompanying the letter said, "corporate & personal checks are welcome." The only problem is, corporate donations are illegal in Ohio.

It wasn't Blackwell's fault, of course. He said the request was an oversight, and his campaign's fundraising coordinator, Jeff Ledbetter, blamed the printer.

How does Blackwell plan to remedy the situation? His spokesman, Carlo LoParo, said that any corporate donations they receive will be returned.

That's a relief. It's good to know Blackwell is a man of integrity.


Thursday, January 06, 2005

Laser pointers made in Corvallis, Oregon

The laser shined at a helicopter pilot in New Jersey last Friday (resulting in the arrest of Parsippany resident David Banach) was made by a company in Corvallis, Oregon, called (don't laugh) Bigha. The outdoor company, best known for its high-tech recumbent bicycles, says the lasers are intended for bird watchers, astronomers, and lecturers to point out faraway objects. The lasers have an advertised range of 25,000 feet, or 4.7 miles. They retail for $119.

According to Bigha founder John Acres, the company warns users not to aim the lasers at aircraft, cars, or homes. (While you're at it, don't think of an elephant.) Ever since the NY Times ran a story about the helicopter incident naming Bigha as the laser's maker, the company has been inundated with orders from around the world.

We wonder how many of those orders came from Al Qaeda.


Senator Barbara Boxer will challenge the Ohio vote

California Senator Barbara Boxer is planning to stand up and join House Democrats in their requests for an investigation into the Ohio presidential vote. Certification of the vote takes place today in the Senate, and due to Senator Boxer's objection, a two-hour debate will take place regarding Ohio election irregularities.

It's highly unlikely that the debate will change the outcome of the election; however, it will bring some of the voting issues to broader national attention.

In a letter to Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), Boxer wrote: “I have concluded that objecting to the electoral votes from Ohio is the only immediate way to bring these issues to light by allowing you to have a two-hour debate to let the American people know the facts surrounding Ohio’s election.”


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Well, isn't he magnanimous?

This will silence that twit who said Bush was stingy: Bush has pledged $10,000 of his own money to tsunami relief efforts.

Bush's wealth is estimated at $13 million, so his pledge is about .08 percent of his disposable assets (independent of income).

Perspective: if you had $1,000 in savings, you'd have to pledge $8 to match Bush.


This is outrageous

Ohio’s Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell has sent a fundraising letter to his Republican constituents that boasts of helping to “deliver” Ohio's vote to President Bush—reminiscent of the promise made by Diebold CEO Walden O'Dell to "deliver [Ohio's] electoral votes to the president." Blackwell's letter also said he was “truly pleased” to announce that Bush had won Ohio—before all of the state’s votes were counted—and that Senator Kerry was a “disaster” who would have reaped “terrible” and “horrible” results on both Ohio and the United States.

The letter, a plea to support Blackwell’s campaign for governor, also says, “Without your enthusiasm, generous support and vote, I’m afraid the President would have lost . . . And an unapologetic liberal Democrat named John Kerry would have won. Thankfully, you and I stopped that disaster from happening.”

Not outraged yet? There's more—a lot more. Over a span of six single-spaced, barely literate pages, Blackwell affirms over and over his commitment to advancing his agenda, which consists primarily of defeating liberals and homosexuals and spreading "Christianity." You have to read it to believe it—and even then, you'll be incredulous: http://rawstory.rawprint.com/105/blackwell_campaign_letter_105.php

Fortunately, Rep. John Conyers' (D-Michigan) report to Congress today about voting irregularities will include references to Blackwell's letter: “Many have strongly suspected that the inexplicable and arbitrary decisions of Secretary Blackwell stemmed from partisan political motivations. This suspicion is apparently bolstered by Secretary Blackwell himself in a recently-sent fund-raising letter.”

Conyers’ report scorns Blackwell for his pleasure in announcing Bush’s victory. “Such a blatant statement acknowledging the commingling of his official duty to ensure a fair election with his partisan duty to re-elect President Bush, made in a political fund-raising appeal, evidences Secretary Blackwell’s poor judgment at best, and the manipulation of election administration for partisan purposes, at worst.”

Stay tuned...you should be hearing more about this. If we hear more, we'll post it.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

We're not as free as we think

For the first time, the United States is missing from an annual ranking of the world's 10 freest economies.

The Index of Economic Freedom, published since 1995 by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, finds that the U.S. economy is faltering while other countries are prospering. The index analyzes 50 economic variables in 10 categories, including property rights, banking/finance, monetary policy, and fiscal burden of government (the U.S.'s biggest downfall).

The top 10: Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, Estonia, Ireland, New Zealand, U.K., Denmark, Iceland and Australia (tied for ninth), and Chile. The U.S. tied for 12th with Switzerland. Russia came in 124th.

(Thanks to Eric Dickey for the scoop.)


DeLay tries to create the appearance of considering doing the right thing

In response to pressure from Democrats, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) has asked his fellow Republicans to overturn the rule they enacted last November that allows party heads to keep their posts even if indicted. Three of DeLay's Texas associates have been indicted by a grand jury in Austin on charges of violating fund-raising laws.

DeLay's spokesman, Jonathan Grella, said DeLay was confident he would not be indicted and decided to seek the elimination of the rule protecting him because he didn't want to give Democrats an issue. "We want to make sure the substance comes first. Anything that could undermine our agenda needs to be nipped in the bud," Grella said.

Hmmm...let us know when we should start watching for evidence of that substance.

House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-California) said DeLay "made a very courageous statement that allows us to put this issue to rest."

Brendan Daly, spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), had a different perspective. He said Republicans pulled back on the discipline rule because "the issue simply became too hot for them to handle."

DeLay is deft but not daft; he remembers what happened to the spectacularly arrogant Newt Gingrich and wants to avoid a similar fate. DeLay's history, however, indicates that he can't resist the temptation of power, and if he dodges this bullet there will be yet another one...and another one...and another one...


Yeah, yeah, yeah

The governor of Baghdad and his six bodyguards were killed today, and once again we get the hackneyed response from the Bushies—this time from the increasingly irrelevant and incomprehensible Colin Powell:

"It once again shows that there are these murderers and terrorists, former regime elements in Iraq, who don't want to see elections. They don't want the people of Iraq to chose [sic] new leaders. They want to go back to the past. They want to go back to the tyranny of Saddam Hussein's regime and that's not going to happen.''

No, that's not going to happen—instead they'll have the tyranny of George Bush's regime.


Monday, January 03, 2005

OK, enough fireworks in nightclubs already

For the second time in about two years, fireworks in a crowded nightclub have resulted in mass carnage. This time, 175 people were killed and 700 injured in a fire caused by fireworks at a nightclub in Buenos Aires.

We're not big fans of fireworks anywhere at any time, but it seems to us rather obvious that fireworks were never meant to be used indoors, in crowded places full of drunken fools...

Any comment, Darwin?


Dobson threatens violence against senators

James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and one of the nation's most influential evangelical leaders, is threatening to put six Democratic senators "in the 'bull's-eye'" if they block conservative appointments to the Supreme Court. In a letter sent to more than a million of his supporters, Dobson promised "a battle of enormous proportions from sea to shining sea" if Democrats filibuster to block conservative nominees.

We agree with Ralph Neas, president of the liberal group People for the American Way, who said, "Mr. Dobson's arrogance knows no limits. This is the kind of tactic that ultimately backfires. These senators have served their constituents well and have courageously voted their consciences. I don't think they will take kindly to threats from Mr. Dobson, and I don't think the voters will either."

Yeah, and what was it the Bible said about pride, Mr. Dobson?


Cowboy Bush whips out big gun

In response to being called "stingy" by UN emergency aid coordinator Jan Egeland, and in reaction to the news that several smaller, poorer countries had pledged more, Bush is now pledging $350 million in aid to tsunami-stricken Asia—a tenfold increase over his commitment of a few days ago. That makes the U.S. number one in aid pledged. About freaking time! We don't want to be number two...or three...or four...

Where will the money come from? "Existing accounts," says White House spokesman Trent Duffy. The same mysterious place all government money suddenly materializes from—especially when the heat is turned up.


Rep. John Conyers will object to Ohio Electors

Representative John Conyers, ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, has stated his intentions to object to the counting of the Ohio Electors from the 2004 Presidential election when Congress convenes to ratify those votes on January 6. In a letter sent to every senator, Conyers indicates that several other members of the House will join him in objecting to the Electors. Conyers is doing this because he believes that the allegations and evidence of election tampering and fraud render the Ohio Electors illegitimate.

Go, John Conyers. And John Kerry, how about stepping up and joining Conyers?