EDITOR’S NOTE

In recent days our UN correspondent, Ian Williams, has come under attack from a variety of right-wing pundits and media organizations like Accuracy in Media for writing about the UN while “writing articles for the world body and even coaching UN officials on how to deal with the press.” We believe the key here is disclosure. Williams disclosed these activities on his personal website and, in the future, we will do so in the magazine as well. We continue to have full confidence in Williams’s reporting.

HUNTER S. THOMPSON

Hunter S. Thompson died in February by his own handgun. One of the most original political journalists of our time, he shed the faux objectivity of the breed and made himself the hip narrator-protagonist in the story. Thompson got his big break through The Nation in 1965, when editor Carey McWilliams sent him the state attorney general’s report on California motorcycle gangs, “sure that the subject would intrigue him.” It did. Also, Thompson was broke, so The Nation‘s demure $100 fee looked munificent, he later recalled. When his article appeared (“The Motorcycle Gangs,” May 17, 1965), he was deluged with offers of assignments by high-paying magazines. He expanded his Nation piece into his first book, Hell’s Angels, a bestseller in 1967 and now a classic. (An article on Thompson by Warren Hinckle will appear in next week’s issue.)

MINORITY/MAJORITY

Another in David Sirota’s series on what Democrats are doing to hurt/help their chances of being in the majority.

Permanent Minority

: Eighteen Senate Democrats voted with all Republicans to pass a bill limiting citizens’ ability to bring class-action suits against abusive corporations. Barack Obama, touted as a future progressive leader, voted for the measure, despite its being attacked by civil rights organizations, labor unions, consumer groups, state prosecutors and environmental advocates.

Toward the Majority

: Senator Harry Reid staked out a strong principled position against the class-action bill, saying, “It limits corporate accountability at a time of rampant corporate scandals” and it is “one of the most unfair, anticonsumer proposals to come before the Senate in years.”

BUSH’S REGULATION ‘REFORMS’

Emily Biuso writes: Buried in the White House’s recently released budget plans is a proposal to give the President sweeping authority to scrap many environmental, consumer and labor protections. For example, the Administration has proposed the establishment of two commissions that would alter the way government regulations are made and eliminated. The “sunset commission” would require each federal program to justify its existence after ten years or be abolished unless explicitly reauthorized by a Congressional vote. The “results commission” could be appointed at any time to propose consolidating federal programs it considered obsolete. Its recommendations would go on a fast track for Congressional passage. Thus, an unelected panel, likely dominated by corporate lobbyists and Administration pals, would override Congress’s own priorities. Wesley Warren, a former OMB official under Clinton, now at the Natural Resources Defense Council, sees the two commissions as a continuation of the GOP drive to do away with all government regulations. “There’s a difference between making government that works right and government that doesn’t work at all,” he said.

NOW THEY TELL US

“[CIA Director Porter] Goss said that the war in Iraq had served as a useful recruiting tool for Islamic extremists, and that both the low Sunni Muslim turnout in elections there and the violence that followed demonstrated that the insurgency remained a serious threat. He warned that anti-American extremists who survive the war were likely to emerge with a high level of skills and experience, and could move on to build new terrorist cells in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries.” —New York Times, February 17, 2005

NEWS OF THE WEAK IN REVIEW

Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma and new member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, offered his expert medical opinion during a meeting on the bill restricting class-action suits: “You know, I immediately thought about silicone breast implants and the legal wrangling and the class-action suits off that. And I thought I would just share with you what science says…. In fact, there’s no science that shows that silicone breast implants are detrimental and, in fact, they make you healthier.”