Yes, we’re still the land of opportunity

Oh dear, oh dear, pity poor Americans, because, you see, the system is rigged against the vast majority who were not born filthy rich. No less an authority than presidential candidate John Edwards says so, and he says so firmly.

Others chime in, telling us that the poor just keep getting poorer and that most of us are frozen in place in ever-worsening circumstances. Upward mobility is done for, they say. The middle class is disappearing. You don’t believe it? Have you listened to Lou Dobbs on TV lately?

Sure seemed like a good idea at the time

I was going to write a column this week about how several people whose opinion I respect have told me recently that my columns have been getting increasingly shrill and vitriolic.

Deja Vu all over again

Although the Bush White House tried to put the best face on it, there’s no getting around the fact that a national intelligence finding that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program four years ago and that it remains mothballed is a black eye for administration credibility and a blow to its hard line policy toward Iran.

A fitting monument to Martin Luther King

In November, Gilbert Young visited Barre, Vermont, the “Granite Center of the World,” on behalf of an organization called King is Ours.

His mission was to direct attention to a decision by the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, which has awarded the commission for the production of the centerpiece of a planned memorial to Dr. King to a communist Chinese sculptor named Lei Yixin.

Another mess in the nation’s capital

Just in case you are returning from a long Thanksgiving vacation on Mars, let me catch you up on what may be one of the worst municipal corruption scandals in American history, at least in the sheer audacity, duration, and amount of money stolen.

Iran ended nuke program years ago

Iran halted its secret effort to develop a nuclear weapon four years ago and doesn’t appear to have restarted the project, a comprehensive new U.S. intelligence report said Monday.

Iran’s decision to stop the program in mid-2003 indicates that it’s “less determined” to acquire nuclear weapons and “more vulnerable” to international pressure than U.S. intelligence agencies had previously believed, the U.S. intelligence community said.

Don Imus back on the air

Don Imus returned to the airwaves Monday — eight months after his firing for racist and sexist remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team — by introducing a new, diverse cast that included a black woman.

As he did several times in the days after the episode, Imus called his remarks “reprehensible” and said the women were “innocent people” who didn’t deserve to be made fun of.

U.S. used Jordan to grill detainees

The US Central Intelligence Agency has reportedly used its ties with its Jordanian counterparts to detain and interrogate at least 12 terrorism suspects in Jordan.

Citing unnamed documents, former prisoners and human rights advocates, The Washington Post said the detention center located on the outskirts on Amman was mostly used as a covert transit point for CIA prisoners captured elsewhere.

Some were detained during stopovers at Amman International Airport, the report said.

Speaking out for gay rights

Military opponents of the US “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy banning openly gay soldiers from serving in the military spoke out this week in Washington, in the latest criticism of the legislation.

Coinciding with the law’s 14th anniversary Friday, 28 retired generals and admirals put their names to a letter to Congress, demanding that the controversial legislation be scrapped.

“We respectfully urge Congress to repeal the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy,” the letter said.

A troubled man in troubled times

Leeland Eisenberg was already in trouble before he walked into one of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign offices. Three days earlier, his wife had filed for divorce; he was due to appear in court with her for a domestic violence hearing in about half an hour.

Then, the nicely dressed, gray-haired man peeled open his jacket to reveal what looked like dynamite strapped to his chest, authorities said, and things got much worse.