Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Three quick things to warm your heart for the holiday season

The Most Nauseating Speech of the Season Award: Really no contest, this just outclassed the field in so many ways that the judges didn't even have to count the votes.
President Bush urged Americans to help the neediest among them by volunteering to care for the sick, the elderly and the poor in a Christmas Day call for compassion.

"Many of our fellow Americans still suffer from the effects of illness or poverty," the president said in his weekly radio address. "Others fight cruel addictions, or cope with division in their families, or grieve the loss of a loved one."

"Christmastime reminds each of us that we have a duty to our fellow citizens, that we are called to love our neighbor just as we would like to be loved ourselves," Mr. Bush added.
The "Fanaticism is Forever Busy" Award: This was more contentious, with such a wide variety of possibilities, including most anything coming out of the mouth of Jerry Falwell or Osama bin Laden, to name just two contenders. But the judges went for subtlety, for a less-noticed but high-quality example.
Outside are protesters, praying or proffering pamphlets with grisly photos. Inside, young women sit quietly in a room furnished with a TV set and a gumball machine, waiting for their appointments at Mississippi's only abortion clinic.

These are busy - but worrisome - days for the Jackson Women's Health Organization, which has added many clients since the other remaining clinic closed last summer. The clinic's staff and supporters know their adversaries will try relentlessly to shut their office down, taking another step toward making legal abortions in the state virtually nonexistent. ...

"Mississippi is the picture of the future," said Susan Hill, a North Carolina-based businesswoman who owns several clinics, including the one in Jackson. "It's the perfect laboratory for any restriction - there's no way, politically, that it won't sail through the legislature." ...

"I would love our state to be the first to be abortion-free," [anti-abortion activist Roy] McMillan said. "The governor should send the Highway Patrol and the National Guard to close this clinic down."
The Most Transparent Bullshit Award: This is usually a tricky one because of the shifty nature of really quality BS, but this time it was easy because of the sheer audacity of the transparency.
She lies curled up, fetal, vulnerable: like a homeless person hugging the marble of a grand doorway on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Except her doorway is a ledge 50 feet in the air. ...

She is Jamie Loughner, 40, an activist for the homeless who was once homeless herself. She won't come down. She won't eat, either. She has taken the traditions of the hunger striker, the flagpole sitter and the tree sitter and blended them into a new form of protest that has the authorities baffled and fuming.
She's trying to get the city to keep open a downtown shelter for the homeless now in a building the city council voted to sell to the Corcoran Museum.

No, she doesn't get the award. The DC Protective Services police, and particularly their chief, Gerald Wilson, do. Wilson has declared that
communicating with the hunger striker is forbidden [because] such conversations might distract Loughner and cause her to fall.
That alone would deserve the award with oak-leaf cluster, but add to that the fact that in another touching display of their deep, deep concern for her welfare, police are refusing her requests for water, apparently under the notion that dehydration will make her safer, and you have a runaway winner.

Okay, my cockles are warmed enough for one night.

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