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Outlaw in office 


 We know that Bill Clinton was not the first horny president, despite what his critics said, but George Bush is surely the first torturemonger.
As old-time Southern congressmen resisted anti-lynching laws, so Bush defies restraints on his use of torture. After first opposing legislation that would prohibit “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” of suspected wrongdoers, Bush appeared to change course and signed the bill, to general applause. Torture is in bad odor with most people.
Then it was revealed that the president found giving up torture “cold turkey” too difficult, that he was reserving the right to bypass the new law under his powers as commander in chief, that he will continue to indulge in fingernail removal and genital electroshock when the craving becomes really strong.
Republican lawmakers who accused Bill Clinton of putting himself above the law tried to impeach him for it (and failed for lack of popular support). Bush states openly that he won’t be bound by laws that apply to lesser men, and the Republican majority in Congress acquiesces. “Nobody died when Clinton lied” is a well-known slogan comparing the former president’s deceptive comments about a consensual sexual encounter to Bush’s untruths that have caused thousands of unwilling deaths in Iraq. Bush’s insistence on an unlawful right to torture suggests that some of those who are dying will die in agony. Prior presidents would have thought this un-American.

He’ll keep on keeping on
 The speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives for the 2007 legislative session wants to give more tax breaks to corporations and listen more closely to the advice of special interests. He’s not an innovator, in other words.
Rep. Benny Petrus, D-Stuttgart, says he wants to advance economic development by providing “performance-based” tax incentives to business and industry. He also wants to consider exempting the utility bills of manufacturing plants from the state sales tax.
If giving tax breaks to corporations would make Arkansas prosperous, the state would be as rich as a Texas defense contractor by now. The legislature hands out these favors at every session, with little or no benefit to the people of Arkansas.
Petrus also says he’ll seek counsel from Sen. Bob Johnson, D-Bigelow, a former speaker who has become perhaps the foremost champion of corporate enrichment in the whole legislature. Johnson’s bill that could endanger the drinking water of Central Arkansas in order to benefit Deltic Timber Corp. will be back before the legislature next year, having narrowly failed in 2005 (while Petrus was allowing a Deltic lobbyist to work out of Petrus’ apartment, incidentally). Same old song.

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  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.

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