Balking at using torture

At least one government agency, the FBI, felt the administration’s harsh treatment of detainees, which top Bush officials repeatedly tried to justify, was wrong.

A report by the Justice department’s inspector general, long delayed because of infighting between the department and the Pentagon over how much should be made public, praised FBI agents for refusing to join harsh and abusive interrogation techniques by the military and CIA in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. The agents described some of the techniques as “borderline torture.”

We’re not number one

Being a patriotic fellow, I am always saddened to learn that the good ol’ USA isn’t No. 1 in all fields.

That was my reaction last week when I read an Associated Press story from Edinburgh, Scotland, that said a collector had paid $12,840 for 35 original poems by a William Topaz McGonagall, “internationally celebrated as the worst poet ever to assault the English language.”

The appeasement smackdown

Did you see that smack-down by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews of Los Angeles conservative radio commentator Kevin James? Matthews’ question to James was simple.

Olbermann’s ‘cold-hearted killers’

When MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann last week said President George W. Bush created an American that “includes ‘cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives,” he set off a firestorm in the rabid right-wing blogging community with demands he be fired. Many accused the acerbic MSNBC commentator of calling the troops “cold-blooded killers.”

Olbermann fired back last night with a new commentary that clarified that when he talked about “cold blooded killers,” he was talking about hired mercenaries like Blackwater USA and cold-hearted politicians like Dick Cheney.

Shame on us

In a Baghdad shop recently, a young man bent over to pick up an item and a badge identifying him as a civilian employed by the United States inadvertently fell from his pocket. It cost him his life.

A world without automobiles

The adjective “quixotic” must have been invented for the idealists who would like to rid the world of automobiles. The word, which we owe to the fictitious knight-errant Don Quixote, usually implies the impractical, or even foolish or unbalanced, pursuit of an idealistic and romantic cause. And what could be nuttier than trying to abolish the car, the worldwide symbol of success and prosperity?

The FBI does not play well with others

There is little new in recent reports of a long standing feud between the nation’s two top law enforcement agencies, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In fact, since 1924 when J. Edgar Hoover took over the ineffectual and corrupt Bureau of Investigation in the Justice department, the FBI has been at odds with nearly every one, usurping the jurisdiction of every police agency from the sheriff’s office to its own siblings, like ATF.

Clothes don’t make the kid

When I was about 10, I received for Christmas a robe and nightgown which I later spied Jan Brady wearing in an episode of “The Brady Bunch.” My brush with celebrity fashion sent me to 7th heaven.

Homeowner bailout draws ire

As Congress moves to aid distressed US homeowners, the prospect of a new rescue is drawing fire from a diverse array of activists, economists and consumers opposing what they call a bailout.

Scum, thy name is terrorist

Recently the Department of Homeland Security came out with a report on the proper verbal etiquette federal agencies should use in talking about the murderous scum who are trying to kill us all. The report found its way to the Associated Press and a good thing, too, because the rest of us need to know this stuff.