Under the Bush administration, the safety of Americans' health is based solely on one thing: The Profit Motive.

Don't believe it? Look at a recent FDA panel's vote to keep Bextra and Vioxx off the market, despite the curious and unintended effect those drugs had on patients — the tendency to kill them.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest recently conducted a review of these panels and found that 10 members had ties to the drug makers.

The kicker, from AP:

The New York Times reported its own analysis in Friday editions, indicating that the 10 individuals in question voted 9-1 in favor of allowing the drugs to be sold.

Without their votes, the Times said, the result would have been 12-8 to recommend withdrawing Bextra and 14-8 to keep Vioxx off the market.



The Washington Post's "Reliable Source" serves up news of what could possibly be the worst insult I've ever heard: Calling someone an "Ashcroft."

You're an Ashcroft! No, you're the Ashcroft!

Imagine hearing that exchange in a movie — you'd think that Hollywood had come up with a crazy new insult. Well, it turns out that some airline passengers watching the Oscar-nominated film "Sideways" on foreign flights are, in fact, hearing "Ashcroft" as a substitute for a certain seven-letter epithet commonly used to denote a human orifice.

The Post's Monte Reel, based in Buenos Aires, tells us he heard the former attorney general's name substituted at least twice in "Sideways" dialogue when he watched the film earlier this week on an Aerolineas Argentinas flight to Lima, Peru. The movie was shown in English and the dubbing was done "in the actual voices of the actors," Reel reports. Star Thomas Haden Church utters the A-word.

Profanity is typically cut from in-flight movies to make them suitable for general audiences, but how did the studio come up with "Ashcroft"? Hoping for enlightenment yesterday, we queried Fox Searchlight Pictures, the studio behind "Sideways." A spokeswoman initally e-mailed us to say she had "all the info" about dubbing, then failed to respond to our followup questions.

Ashcroft did not return our phone message, but we're certain he was busy and not just being an ...

Let that eagle snore.

[Thanks to C.D. for this.]



Nicholas Kristof leaves no doubt that what is going on in Sudan's Darfur region is genocide, pure and simple.

Four photographs, a rarity on the New York Times op-ed page, show the horrific toll militias have taken indiscriminantly innocent women, children and men:

Last is the skeleton of a man or woman whose wrists are still bound. The attackers pulled the person's clothes down to the knees, presumably so the victim could be sexually abused before being killed. If the victim was a man, he was probably castrated; if a woman, she was probably raped.

There are thousands more of these photos. Many of them show attacks on children and are too horrific for a newspaper. ...

Web sites like www.darfurgenocide.org and www.savedarfur.org are trying to galvanize Americans, but the response has been pathetic.

Where are our collective consciences?



Exhibiting a penchant for unseemingly non-ironically intended double-speak, Robert Zoellick railed against "creeping authoritarianism" — in Latin America.

Chavez has accused the United States of meddling in a recall referendum last year and of supporting a military coup that almost drove him from power in 2002. The Bush administration has denied both allegations.

Zoellick said a new breed of authoritarians follows similar patterns. "You win the election, but you do away with your opponents, you do away with the press, you do away with the rule of law, you pack the courts," he said. ...

Chavez, he said, wants to portray his relationship with the United States as comparable to "David and Goliath." He added that the United States "shouldn't be afraid to say, 'Well, he's taking away liberties.'"

Glass houses, throwing stones ... it might all be simply amusing if it weren't so hypocritical and dangerous to espouse such views.



Though not universally loved, "The Gates" by Christo and Jeanne-Claude drew large crowds during its opening weekend, its bright saffron-colored fabric alternatingly resembling flames through the trees, a sliver of sunlight and a river of gold undulating along 23 miles of Central Park.

In writing to a friend, I described them as such:

It was a once-in-a-lifetime event — creating a beautiful, resplendent current of life and light as unique and spectacular as the park itself, at once eternal and transient.

I was one of those people who couldn't stop smiling — it was pure joy!

... experiencing it was truly like the essence of love.

I also loved what the Times wrote:

Thousands of swaths of pleated nylon were unfurled to bob and billow in the breeze. In the winter light, the bright fabric seemed to warm the fields, flickering like a flame against the barren trees. Even at first blush, it was clear that "The Gates" is a work of pure joy, a vast populist spectacle of good will and simple eloquence, the first great public art event of the 21st century. It remains on view for just 16 days. Consider yourself forewarned. Time is fleeting.

... The shifting light couldn't have been better to show off the effects of the cloth. Sometimes the fabric looked deep orange; at other times it was shiny, like gold leaf, or silvery or almost tan. In the breeze, the skirted gates also appeared to shimmy like dancers in a conga line, the cloth buckling and swaying.

The photos at a "Gates"-specific blog were quite nice and included the following quote:

"A great object of all that is done in a park, of all the art of a park, is to influence the minds of men through their imaginations." — Frederick Law Olmstead,Central Park architect



How disheartening to see the paper of record shovel the B.S. put forward by the established misleader-in-chief in his latest propagandist push, er, I mean, State of the Union.

Part of the proposed $2.57 trillion budget — which doesn't include allocations for sustained military action in Iraq (i.e., as large a fallacy as one can make by omission) — includes cutting the less than one-tenth of 1 percent ($257 million) it takes to run Even Start.

The president said the 16-year-old program, which serves low-income children of illiterate parents, was ineffective.

"I can't think of anybody in the Congress who is not for helping low-income families become literate," Mr. Bush told the crowd, which included the chief executives of Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler. "The problem is, is that after three separate evaluations it has become abundantly clear that the program is not succeeding."

As 49 percent of the country realizes, just because he says it doesn't make it true.

The Times story incorporates meaningless quotes but no real, objective assessment. Slate's "Today's Papers" conducts a cursory Google search and finds a government-commissioned study that concludes:

On the whole, Even Start projects are meeting their legislative mandate. They recruit and serve needy families. And, a high percentage of families take part in core services and receive an amount of service that compares favorably with other existing programs.

Spoon-fed B.S. is still B.S.



Who could deny that a sizeable number of Iraqis made their way to the polls to cast their ballots in that country's historic election on Sunday?

Bravo to them, but shame on the Bush administration for such twisted logic that turned a hunt for non-existent WMD — remember those? — into a fight for democracy and nation-building.

I call B.S.

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz writes:

The 60 percent figure is based on the notion that 8 million of 14 million eligible Iraqis turned out. But the 14 million figure is the number of registered Iraqis, while turnout is usually calculated using the number of eligible voters. The number of adults in Iraq is probably closer to 18 million, which would lower the turnout figure. And the registration figure itself is questionable. Anyone who received a ration card was deemed registered, and there was no effort to remove duplicate names or those who sought extra food rations. Election officials concede they did not have a reliable baseline on which to calculate turnout.

No one seems to mention how the Bush administration, for all its expertise in carrying out massive voter fraud, could possibly be trusted to run someone else's elections honorably.

[Thanks to P.O. for this link.]