Saturday, June 11


About time.

Faced with plummeting public support for the war in Iraq, a growing number of members of Congress from both parties are reevaluating the reasons for the invasion and demanding the Bush administration produce a plan for withdrawing US troops.

    A bipartisan group of House members is drafting a resolution that calls on the administration to present a strategy for getting the United States out of Iraq, reflecting an increasing restlessness about the war in a chamber that 2 1/2 years ago voted overwhelmingly to support the use of force in Iraq.


I tried various sites that posted video of Rep. James (R-Wisconsin) Sensenbrenner's outrageous behavior yesterday in peremptorily adjourning the House hearings on the U.S.A. Patriot Act, and this was the only one I could get through.

The gist of the thing is, Sensenbrenner, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, had held 10 hearings on the subject prior to this, those hearings being largely packed with witnesses supporting the renewal of the Patriot Act. Dems called for this, the 11th hearing, and handpicked the witnesses, all opponents of renewal. When witnesses and their Democratic questioners got into the areas of the Guantanamo Bay prison and immigration issues, Sensenbrenner declared that all he was hearing was irrelevant to the Patriot Act, and he was (though peppered with requests to yield by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who had earlier yielded herself) shutting down the session. Rep. Jerrold (D-NY) tried to call for a point of order but was ignored by Sensenbrenner.

"Do we have any press that want to hear our side of the story?" Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee asked immediately after Sensenbrenner and the other Republicans walked out. When the Dems tried to continue, Repug staffers shut off the microphones. After that, they shut off most of the lights.

I won't add much to the chorus of comments about this disgraceful episode except to note the reaction of James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute as the Democrats attempted to keep the hearing going (to the best of my memory):

"This is so inappropriate. There are no microphones, no record. If we are lecturing foreign governments about the conduct of their behavior in regard to opposition or minority rights, what lesson are we teaching by a display like this? As an American, I'm troubled that this is the lesson we are going to teach other countries in the world about how an open society deals with opposition."

More on Sensenbrenner here.


The last days of U.S. humanitarian aid worker Marla Ruzicka:

Now, talking on the phone with McMahon, Ruzicka sounded upbeat. In the past few days, she had obtained a document that was her holy grail: a detailed report showing that the U.S. military keeps its own civilian-casualty records, something the Pentagon has repeatedly denied.
At approximately three o'clock in the afternoon, Ruzicka and Faiz were heading east on the airport road, toward Baghdad. Also on the road were a U.S. military convoy and a convoy of private security contractors. From a nearby on-ramp, a suicide bomber merged into the traffic, most likely gunning for the military convoy, which he missed. Instead, he detonated beside his next best choice, the security convoy. Behind them was a Mercedes.
Ruzicka is perhaps the most famous American aid worker to die in any conflict of the past ten or twenty years. Though a novice in life -- she had less than four years of professional humanitarian experience -- her death resonated far beyond the tightly knit group of war junkies and policymakers who knew her. She stands as a youthful representative of a certain kind of not-yet-lost American idealism, and darkly symbolic of what has gone so tragically wrong in Iraq.


Gore finally gets his due:

Officials at the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences honored Gore with the Webby Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of his pivotal role in the development of the Internet over the last 30 years.

Gore had been skewered during the 2000 presidential campaign for his remarks that suggested he was the Net's creator. But Vinton Cerf, one of the scientists who helped craft the actual Internet architecture, acknowledged that Gore was responsible for crafting important legislation and lending needed political support for "the information superhighway."

The former vice president accepted the award from Cerf. But like other Webby winners, the usually talkative Gore had to limit his acceptance speech to five words or less.

Thus, remarked Gore, "Please don't recount this vote."

Friday, June 10


Associated Press Poll conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs:

1. Do you think religious leaders should or should not try to influence government decisions?

Should: U.S. 37%, Canada 25%, Mexico 20%, S. Korea 21%, Australia 22%, France 12%, Germany 20%, Italy 30%, Spain 17%, UK 20%
Should not: U.S. 61%, Canada 72%, Mexico 77%, S. Korea 68%, Australia 75%, France 85%, Germany 75%, Italy 63%, Spain 76%, UK 77%
(All other not sure)

2. How important would you say religion is in your own life?

Important: U.S. 86%, Canada 64%, Mexico 86%, S. Korea 63%, Australia 55%, France 37%, Germany 54%, Italy 80%, Spain 46%, UK 43%
Not important: U.S. 14%, Canada 35%, Mexico 14%, S. Korea 34%, Australia 45%, France 63%, Germany 46%, Italy 19%, Spain 52%, UK 57%

3. Please tell me which of the following statements comes closest to expressing what you believe about God.

I don't believe in God: U.S. 2%, Canada 6%, Mexico 1%, S. Korea 19%, Australia 11%, France 19%, Germany 12%, Italy 6%, Spain 10%, UK 10%

I don't know whether there is a God and I don't believe there is any way to find out: U.S. 4%, Canada 6%, Mexico 1%, S. Korea 6%, Australia 11%, France 16%, Germany 11%, Italy 5%, Spain 9%, UK 14%

I don't believe in a personal God, but I do beieve in a Higher Power of some kind: U.S. 11%, Canada 24%, Mexico 4%, S. Korea 12%, Australia 23%, France 14%, Germany 33%, Italy 8%, Spain 17%, UK 20%

I find myself believing in God some of the time but not at others: U.S. 2%, Canada 5%, Mexico 4%, S. Korea 15%, Australia 8%, France 11%, Germany 6%, Italy 10%, Spain 11%, UK 12%

While I have doubts, I feel that I do believe in God: U.S. 10%, Canada 14%, Mexico 9%, S. Korea 19%, Australia 14%, France 14%, Germany 15%, Italy 18%, Spain 19%, UK 13%

I know God really exists and I have no doubts about it: U.S. 70%, Canada 43%, Mexico 80%, S. Korea 25%, Australia 32%, France 24%, Germany 22%, Italy 51%, Spain 32%, UK 23%

4. What is your religion, if you have any?

U.S.: 26% Catholic, 30% Protestant, 1% Jewish, 1% Muslim, 1% Buddhism, 31% Other religions, 9% No religion, 1% Not sure

Canada: 39% Catholic, 14% Protestant, 1% Jewish, 2% Muslim, 24% Other religions, 18% No religion, 2% Not sure

Mexico: 83% Catholic, 2% Protestant, 8% Other religions, 6% No religion, 1% Not sure

S. Korea: 11% Catholic, 23% Protestant, 24% Buddhism, 1% Other religions, 41% No religion

Australia: 27% Catholic, 16% Protestant, 1% Jewish, 1% Muslim, 1% Buddhism, 29% Other religions, 24% No religion, 1% Not sure

France: 71% Catholic, 3% Protestant, 1% Jewish, 4% Muslim, 1% Buddhism, 1% Other religions, 19% No religion

Germany: 28% Catholic, 36% Protestant, 2% Muslim, 3% Other religions, 31% No religion

Italy: 92% Catholic, 1% Protestant, 1% Other religions, 5% No religion, 1% Not sure

Spain: 80% Catholic, 1% Protestant, 1% Other religions, 17% No religion, 1% Not sure

UK: 14% Catholic, 56% Protestant, 1% Jewish, 1% Muslim, 8% Other religions, 19% No religion, 1% Not sure

(Hat tip to Eugene Oregon at Demagogue.)


Re the hue and cry over Howard Dean's remark that the Republican Party is "pretty much a white, Christian party" that "all look the same."

In the current, 109th Congress, there are 43 African-Americans, all Democrats. Of the 29 Hispanics, 21 are (D) and six are (R). There are eight Asian-Americans, seven of whom are Dems and one who is a Republican. The single Native American is a Repug.

So out of 81 minority members of Congress, 10% are Republican. Yeah, they're awash in diversity over in the (R) bracket.

UPDATE: Finally found statistical information about the racial makeup and party affiliation of minority state legislators:

In the year 2003 (the most recent for which I could find hard data), 88.7% of state legislators were white, 11.3% minority (8.2% African American, 1.9% Latino, 1% Asian Pacific American, 0.9% Native American).

44% of all white state legislators were Democrats, and 94% of minority legislators were Dems (97.4% of African Americans, 85% of Latinos, 85% of Asian Pacific Americans, 86% of Native Americans).

55% of all white state legislators were Repugs, and 6% of minority legislators were Repugs (2.1% AA, 14.3% Latino, 15% APA, 14% NA).

There were, nationwide, 607 AA state legislators, 140 Latinos, 72 APAs, 36 NAs.

U.S. Census Bureau, 2000: U.S. population was 69.1% white, 30.9% minorities (12.3% AA, 12.5% Latino, 3.7% APA, 0.9% NA)

This data was taken from the study "Money and Diversity in State Legislatures, 2003" by Samantha Sanchez, 2005 (published by the Insitute on Money in State Politics" -- I found a reference to it on Red


An interesting statistic.

FINALLY IT CAN BE TOLD: There ARE Progressive Evangelical Christians

Great article about progressive evangelical Christians (hat tip to Mainstream Baptist).

Like Jimmy Carter, Tony Campolo is a tireless campaigner for social justice, especially for the poor, for the environment and for oppressed populations in the Third World. Like Carter, he is also an evangelical Christian — a Baptist minister, in fact.

Although many Americans see evangelicalism as a monolithic construct, “in reality, there are a whole lot of us evangelicals who think differently,” said Campolo, who founded the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education.
Whoever is correct, one thing is clear: There are millions of progressive evangelicals. And yet, the conventional wisdom resolves to a very simple equation: “Evangelical” = “religious right.”

That may gall progressive evangelicals, who are proud of their heritage at the forefront of  campaigns for civil rights, racial justice and religious diversity...

“In a nutshell, we hold to the same kinds of theology. We just read the Bible differently than our right-wing friends. When we read the Bible, we see a Jesus who is much more radical,” Campolo said.

Where he and other progressives see Jesus most differently is in the importance placed on compassionate treatment for the underdogs in society.


My five kids could all read before they started school. Every morning we spent time with Sesame Street and Electric Company (where we fell in love with Morgan Freeman's character "Easy Reader") and, when we could, watched Reading Rainbow. We lived in a log house 15 miles outside Harrison, Arkansas (pop. under 10,000) and got very little television reception - no networks, no cable, no satellite - but we DID get PBS via Springfield, Missouri. It was all we watched except for rented videotapes. I assume many others living in rural areas are as dependent today on PBS as we were then.

Now the Republican House wants to eliminate spending for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Goodbye, Big Bird and Elmo. Goodbye, commercial-free educational programming.


What they said.

PRESIDENT BUSH apparently thinks he can dismiss the damning "Downing Street memo" with a few glib words.

If he is right, it is a sad commentary on the state of American democracy and values.
Americans deserve to have a more intensive investigation and expansive explanation to the extremely serious allegation that their government "fixed" intelligence to justify a pre-emptive war. The White House wants to dismiss it as "old news" and the Republicans who control both houses of Congress assume they can shrug off the demands of a bloc of Democrats -- led by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. -- for hearings on the Downing Street memo.

There should be no statute of limitations -- or shortness of public attention span -- on an issue that cuts to the core of this government's integrity and credibility. Congress must fully investigate the actions in Washington that led the highest officials in Great Britain to be convinced that the Bush administration was hell-bent on war and working to concoct a rationalization for it.


"That's white of you, George."

BUSH: Well, first, as I've said in my statement, we've tripled aid to Africa. Africa is an important part of my foreign policy. I remember when I first talked to Condi, when I was trying to convince her to become the national security adviser, she said, "Are you going to pay attention to the continent of Africa?" I said, "You bet."

Good Lord, is he a honky or what? Someone asks him about aid to Africa, and the first thing he says is that he talked with his house Negro about it. I'm surprised he didn't mention Colin Powell, Willie Mays, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and Wayne Brady.

What an idiot. It's revealing that he apparently thinks of this Africa thing as a cause that only black people would be interested in—you know that in his heart of hearts, he couldn't give a shit about it.


Hot dog. A chance to show Howard some love.

Dean will be in Dallas June 17 for a rally, reception and dinner. I can't afford the dinner ($5,000 per plate), but I've bought my tickets to the rally, one for me and one for a friend.

I'd love to know who the Dallas Democrats are that can afford $5,000 to have dinner with him.

If you're local and you want to know the details, let me hear from you.


Wish I could see the video.

The press chorus then devolved into a cacophony of competing screams. (And Dean knows screams!) After several seconds, a booming voice cut through the noise. It belonged to Brian Wilson, a Fox News correspondent who was standing in the middle of the crowd. He asked Dean "if people are focused on the other things that you've said about hating Republicans, about Republicans being dishonest and then this latest comment about the Republican Party is full of white Christians. You say you hate Republicans -- does that mean you also'' hate white Christians?

Dean didn't respond and Reid talked about having a "positive agenda." Wilson was so insistent that at one point, Durbin asked, "Does he run the press conference?" After Reid took the one question of the morning that was not about Dean (it was about Iraq) there were a host of disjointed and semi-decipherable follow-ups (none of which was about Iraq).

Someone asked whether Dean would "change his ways," or if he planned to be "less confrontational in the future" or whether he "regrets" anything he has said. An aide to Reid announced that the photo op was over.

"We'll decide when we're ready," Wilson said.
Later, Durbin would recount the scene with some exasperation. He chided the media for avoiding important issues in favor of trivial matters. "Please, for a minute, get to the substance," he said to a group of reporters. "You guys should be ashamed of yourselves."
[Emphasis mine]


The Wall Street Journal reports that former Senator (and ordained Episcopal priest) John Danforth of Missouri has joined the board of Republican Unity Coalition, which opposes a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Danforth recently wrote an op-ed piece in the NY Times where he said, "Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians."


I'm sick of the spectacle of prominent Democratic politicians distancing themselves from Howard Dean, and that includes you, John Edwards, and you, Joe Biden, and you, Bill Richards, and all the rest of you.

Democrats are demonized EVERY DAY by jillions of Republican politicians and their talk radio mouthpieces. We're "traitors," we have a "mental disorder," Howard Dean has a "screw loose," John Kerry betrayed his country and his fellows in the military, we harass and oppress Christians, we hate America, we're appeasers, we're immoral, we're destroying the family, we always side with anyone who is against America, etc. Every day we are insulted and maligned, and it's been happening forever; but since FDR it seems to be a deliberate strategy on the part of the Republicans.

These big famous Democrats who are now criticizing Dean better begin to understand that the rank and file LIKE Howard, we LIKE his toughness and his candor. We don't like their cynical, mealy-mouthed compromises on judicial filibusters, we're appalled at the bankruptcy "reform" bill. Howard DOES speak for us, and WE are the Democratic Party. We will remember in 2006 and 2008 just who continued the fight against this corrupt administration and the radical right and who caved.



Why is this happening? I'll have more to say on that another day, but for now let me just point out that middle-class America didn't emerge by accident. It was created by what has been called the Great Compression of incomes that took place during World War II, and sustained for a generation by social norms that favored equality, strong labor unions and progressive taxation. Since the 1970's, all of those sustaining forces have lost their power.

Since 1980 in particular, U.S. government policies have consistently favored the wealthy at the expense of working families - and under the current administration, that favoritism has become extreme and relentless. From tax cuts that favor the rich to bankruptcy "reform" that punishes the unlucky, almost every domestic policy seems intended to accelerate our march back to the robber baron era.

It's not a pretty picture - which is why right-wing partisans try so hard to discredit anyone who tries to explain to the public what's going on.
Above all, the partisans engage in name-calling. To suggest that sustaining programs like Social Security, which protects working Americans from economic risk, should have priority over tax cuts for the rich is to practice "class warfare." To show concern over the growing inequality is to engage in the "politics of envy."

Never mind that straw man, the politics of envy. Let's try to do something about the politics of greed.


Every day I drive through downtown Dallas on my way to work in Uptown, and along the way I pass First Baptist Church of Dallas. This morning I drove behind a minivan with a First Baptist Academy decal in the back window and a bumper sticker I never thought I'd see turning into FBA -- it read "Christian Democrat" and in small letters underneath, "Let there be light!"

Awesome. I wonder if I can get one or if I'll have to make my own.

Thursday, June 9


I'm still coming off my outrage at the Newt Gingrich aspersion on Jimmy Carter that I posted on last. Thank goodness, I happened upon a wonderful reminder of our Lord's teachings. If you believe, like I do, that Christ Jesus was sent to us to "reveal the Father" (his nature), you'll have a hard time reconciling right-wing rhetoric and agendas with this.

Jesus' teachings are hard. For context, and argument, see this.

God is Dad, Hallelujah!


Just heard Newt Gingrich on the Greg Knapp Experience (Dallas talk radio KLIF). The morally deficient (check out this) former Speaker of the House had the gall to speak of former president Jimmy Carter, widely acknowledged as the "best former president in history": "Jimmy Carter's never gotten over being fired by the American people in 1980...he'll do anything to hurt America." Jimmy, you see, made the outrageous suggestion that we should close the Guantanamo prison camp and give the prisoners the benefit of Geneva Convention rights.

Jimmy Carter "hurt America"??????? ExcUUUSE me?

He was such a straight arrow that he thought "lusting in his mind" was just as wrong as a "sin of the flesh."
Marred by high inflation and the Iranian hostage crisis, Carter lost in a landslide and quietly left town.

Two years later, he re-emerged and founded the Carter Center, a research group that seeks to "promote peace and human rights, resolve conflicts, foster democracy, and fight hunger and disease." In that endeavor, Carter has been tireless.

He has been building houses for Habitat for Humanity for 20 years. He has monitored elections around the globe to ensure that true democracy prevails. He has mediated crises from Haiti to North Korea.

He has rescinded his membership in the Southern Baptist Convention for its refusal to accept gays and lesbians. And he has traveled to Cuba to denounce Castro in his own back yard. While his focus has been broad, his acts contain the common thread of equality for everyone.

Unlike his fellow ex-presidents, Carter has never joined corporate boards for pay. He has never gone on the lecture circuit to make speeches for profit. In short, he has refused to cash in on the presidency for personal gain, choosing instead to use his status as a former president to advance the cause of "suffering people around the world," on whose behalf he accepted the Nobel Prize.

He joins Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson as the only other American presidents to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. And it is hard to imagine he will be joined by any other American president, current or former, in the foreseeable future.

Jimmy Carter is one of my personal heroes. I will be joining him and others in the Jimmy Carter Work Project for Habitat for Humanity in Detroit a week or so from now. It is a long-standing tradition in our company, which has been Habitat's #1 corporate partner for nearly a decade. Republicans like to throw spears and arrows at Jimmy because he lives according to what they give lip service to: the teachings of Jesus Christ.


Don't you just love self-discovery tests? Thanks to Existential Ramble, here's an interesting one, What is Your World View?

My results:

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

Cultural Creative 88%, Postmodernist 63%, Idealist 44%, Existentialist 44%, Fundamentalist 38%, Romanticist 31%, Modernist 3%, Materialist 19%.



Miss Molly:

David Cay Johnston, the invaluable New York Times reporter who specializes in our tax system, has come up with some staggering figures on what he calls "the hyper-rich," the wealthiest one-thousandth of the population, and their taxes.

"The share of the nation's income earned by those in this uppermost category has more than doubled since 1980. ... The share of income earned by the rest of the top 10 percent rose far less, and the share earned by the bottom 90 percent fell.

Under the Bush tax cuts, the 400 taxpayers with the highest income -- a minimum of $87 million in 2000, the last year for which the government will release such data -- now pay income, Medicare and Social Security taxes amounting to virtually the same percentage of their incomes as people making $50,000 to $75,000."

"Those earning more than $10 million a year now pay a lesser share of their income in these taxes than those making $100,000 to $200,000."
When Republican cuts to programs for veterans, troops, education or health care come up, Rep. David Obey, D-Wisc., has regularly offered amendments to restore funding and pay for it by reducing (not eliminating) the Bush tax cuts to the hyper-rich slightly. Every time, the Republicans vote to keep the tax cuts for the millionaires and let the troops or education take the hit. What Johnston's study shows is that the hyper-rich are now taking advantage of the merely rich. So now what will the Republicans do?

Every morning, every evening
Ain't we got fun
Not much money, oh but honey
Ain't We Got Fun
The rent's unpaid dear, we haven't a bus
But smiles were made dear for people like us

In the winter, in the summer
Don't we have fun
Times are bum and getting bummer, still we have fun
There's nothing surer
The rich get rich and the poor get children
In the meantime, in between time
Ain't we got fun

Every morning, every evening
Don't we got fun
Twins and cares, dear, come in pairs dear
Don't we have fun
We've only started as mommer and pop
Are we downhearted, I'll say that we're not
Landlords mad and getting madder
Ain't we got fun
Times are bad and getting badder
Still we have fun
There's nothing surer
The rich get rich and the poor get laid off
In the meantime, in between time
Ain't we got fun

Night or day-time, it's all play-time
Ain't we got fun
Hot or cold days, any old days
Ain't we got fun
If wifie wishes to go to a play
Don't wash the dishes, just throw them away
Street car seats are awful narrow
Ain't we got fun
They won't smash up our Pierce Arrow
We ain't got none
They've cut my wages, income tax will be so much smaller
When I'm paid off I'll be laid off
Ain't we got fun?

Wednesday, June 8


Watergate didn't enter mainstream America's general attention overnight.


"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."
  --  James Madison

"The accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands, whether of one, a few or many, and whether hereditary, self appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."
-- James Madison



John of AmericaBlog has the scoop on what should be the end of the Family Research Council.


Thanks to Political Teen (which looks to be a wingnut site), we've discovered that No More Apples was quoted (and the site shown) today on MSNBC's segment "Connected Coast to Coast" on the Ron Reagan show. The issue: The 9/11 World Trade Center memorial. If you happen to download the MSNBC video, please take time to read the full post so you get the whole story.

The Sage, Silmarill and Augamire are not going to believe this. Maybe they'll post more from now on, you think?


Bush's big payoff.

As he concluded closing arguments in the six-year-old lawsuit, Justice Department lawyer Stephen D. Brody shocked tobacco company representatives and anti-tobacco activists by announcing that the government will not seek the $130 billion that a government expert had testified was necessary to fund smoking-cessation programs. Instead, Brody said, the Justice Department will ask tobacco companies to pay $10 billion over five years to help millions of Americans quit smoking.
"It feels like a political decision to take into consideration the tobacco companies' financial interest rather than health interests of 45 million addicted smokers," said William V. Corr, director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Feels like? Read about the administration's ties to the tobacco industry here, here and here.


"Nominating John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations is a little like nominating Jeffrey Dahmer for surgeon general."

It's not enough to seek allies when suddenly some multilateral project is really important to you; you have to have built alliances by helping allies on projects that are important to them. Building international support, like building social support, is a long-term project, best left in the hands of people who understand this.

Now Bolton, in having to scramble desperately to secure confirmation, is paying for all the enemies he's made in Washington. To some extent America is in the same position. Under President Bush it has made more enemies than it had to, because his foreign policy has been counterproductively unilateralist and gratuitously antagonistic.


Watching Tony Blair's stiff countenance during most of his press conference with Dubya reminded me of the scene in the film Love, Actually where GB Prime Minister Hugh Grant joins U.S. President Billy Bob Thornton for a press conference after Thornton has made it abundantly (and arrogantly) clear that he expects the UK to just fall in line with whatever he proposes, with little or no payback for Grant and his country.

Reporter: Mr. President, has it been a good visit?

President: Very satisfactory indeed. We got what we came for and our special relationship is still special.

Reporter: Mr. Prime Minister?

Prime Minister: I love that word "relationship." Covers all manner of sins, doesn't it? I fear that this has become a bad relationship. A relationship based on the President taking exactly what he wants and casually ignoring all those things that really matter to Britain. We may be a small country but we're a great one, too. The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter. David Beckham's right foot. David Beckham's left foot, come to that. And a friend who bullies us is no longer a friend. And since bullies only respond to strength, from now onward I will be prepared to be much stronger. And the President should be prepared for that.

Bet the Brits wish Tony would take a page out of Hugh's book.


I'm a Deaniac and proud of it. I love the man's passion, his candor, his intellectual honesty, his toughness, his courage. I don't love what he's saying about "Republicans" because I think it's poor politics. He can say anything he wants about this administration, but it's a bad idea to lump all Republicans in with the Bush gang. Many Republicans are well-meaning saps. Insulting them is a good way to drive them further into the arms of their wingnut masters. Change "Republicans" to "Republican Party leaders" and I'm okay with it.

So Howard, rock on and tell it like it is. But remember who the real opposition is -- the power players, not ordinary Americans no matter their political affiliation.

And Joe Biden, keep YOUR mouth shut -- don't continue the Democratic tradition of cannibalizing our own. Next time someone asks you about Dean's remarks, elucidate them, don't condemn them. Say, "Howard is speaking of the administration and party leaders, not ordinary Republican rank-and-file voters, whom they have misled and betrayed. And in that context, I agree with him 100%."


A Dallas resident has become the highest-ranking U.S. fatality in the Iraq War.

On CNN's American Morning show today, I heard a report that Col. Westhusing had died of a single bullet wound. The implication of the report was that he might have committed suicide. The military has promised a "thorough investigation." A professor at West Point, Westhusing had volunteered for service in Iraq, where he was training Iraqi security forces.


This is the way the thugs work.

Hat tip to Smirking Chimp.

Tuesday, June 7


Think the Pope is the only one who opposes birth control? Don't believe it. It's a part of the agenda of the Christian right. Read this post at Demagogue for background and details.


This morning on his "Morning in America" radio talk show, Bill Bennett spoke with Debra Burlingame, author of today's Wall Street Journal opinion piece, "The Great Ground Zero Heist." In the course of his show Bill called ground zero "a holy place," and asserted that Democrats and liberals don't want a place (9/11 memorial) where people will go to get mad, the implication being that Bill and his cronies do. Of course! The wingnuts want to keep people's ire stoked up and the flames pouring out of their mouths; that's how they won the election. Demonize somebody, anybody -- keep the base afraid and fired up. And if the people we're demonizing just happen to be our fellow Americans, well, why not? Everybody knows liberalism is a mental disorder, so we liberals should be put away in institutions so our madness can't spread.

"Holy place?" The 9/11 victims were not martyrs who willingly gave their lives to a cause; their lives were terminated against their will. There's nothing holy about ground zero. It's the scene of a mass murder. If it were "holy," people wouldn't get angry at the memorial, they would feel respect, grief, maybe contemplate life and all its myriad mysteries. But Bill WANTS people to visit the memorial and get angry -- get angry so they'll fight the bloodsuckers who perpetrated this dastardly crime...and others we want to get rid of while we're at it.

Soros and the IFC want an educational exhibit about freedom and human dignity to accompany the store of artifacts from the 9/11 tragedy. I like the idea somewhat (as long as it doesn't smack of controversy or partisanship, even on OUR SIDE), but I also think the greater mass should celebrate the extraordinary acts of firefighters and other rescue and volunteer workers, as a part of a theme of Americans pulling together and rising above the attacks. I don't like the idea of promoting victimhood to perpetuate hate; Americans are traditionally overcomers, a tradition I would like to see continue.

I favor Keith Olbermann's proposal. What about you?


Hysterical. Seems NJ Senatorial candidate Bret Schundler (R) had a photo mixup mar his campaign. Marketing/advertising firm Big Fish, hired by Schundler, explains that a "junior staffer" superimposed Schundler's picture over a photo of screaming Howard Dean supporters. Only problem is, ardent young Democrats recognized themselves in the picture:

"I think it's pathetic that he couldn't get a group of his own enthusiastic young people. ... There are plenty of people my age who are, sadly enough, Republican."

In further developments, the photog that shot the Dean photo claimed violation of his copyright.

As a Marketing/Communications executive this is something I deal with every single day. Junior staffers durn sure better understand that they cannot use another's intellectual property without proper licensing and permissions. I question every usage -- "junior staffers" can't just issue something like this without authorization. Every photo used that we don't explicitly own the rights to is vetted by our Law Department. And as for altering photos, we do it all the time, but ONLY as permitted under the licenses and permissions. It costs money to stay within the law, and it takes diligence and commitment to right-doing. The Schundler campaign's agency, Big Fish, is to be faulted for this breach of ethics and law.

But let's get real. No "junior staffer" and no ad agency is going to release something like this without permission of the campaign, either. Someone on Schundler's staff had to give the go-ahead. And the spirit of the thing, doctoring a photograph to make it seem the man had screaming hordes of young people on his side, is, on its face, deceptive. Is that the nature of the Schundler campaign? Is that what was conveyed to the agency?

Monday, June 6


So a retired FBI official says now that individual FBI agents and managers funneled their cumulative knowledge about Watergate through Mark Felt to Bob Woodward. Meet the Deep Throat-ettes.

Daly says that in the '70s, he was the Bureau's liasion with a Senate committee investigating the bureau and the CIA. It was then that Long told him that he, Bates, Kunkel — and others — would get briefings from their agents in the field, then meet with Felt at the end of each work day, and funnel to him all they had on Watergate.
And their motive? "It was done," Daly said, "so that the investigation into Watergate couldn't be contained, so that the news media that were recipients of the leaks would create an atmosphere that would allow the investigation to go forward... They wanted to protect the integrity of the FBI." They were looking to keep the Watergate investigation alive, by keeping the Watergate story alive, in the pages of The Washington Post.

Motives in such cases are nearly always mixed. But what's wrong with this picture, that our national police organization had to go outside the Department of Justice to complete an investigation into wrongdoing by the administration? Is anything different today? Where's the disposition of the Plame case? Where are the whistleblowers? The Watergate model is, to nail any Bushie for anything, we'll have to find a criminal case against some small potato and let it lead upwards. However, lacking a courageous and non-partisan FBI, and an independent, indefatigable press, it'll never go anywhere.


Bill Moyers bemoans the "mugging of the American dream."

Believe it or not, the United States now ranks the highest among the highly developed countries in each of the seven measures of inequality tracked by the index. While we enjoy the second highest GDP in the world (excluding tiny Luxembourg), we rank dead last among the 20 most developed countries in fighting poverty and we're off the chart in terms of the number of Americans living on half the median income or less (ibid).

And the outlook is for more of the same. On the eve of George W. Bush's second inauguration The Economist - not exactly a Marxist rag - produced a sobering analysis of what is happening to the old notion that any American can get to the top. With income inequality not seen since the first Gilded Age (and this is The Economist editors speaking, not me) - with "an education system increasingly stratified with fewer resources than those of their richer contemporaries" and great universities "increasingly reinforcing rather than reducing these educational inequalities" - with corporate employees finding it " start at the bottom and rise up the company hierarchy by dint of hard work and self-improvement" - "with the yawning gap between incomes at the top and bottom" - the editors of The Economist - all friends of business and advocates of capitalism and free markets -- concluded that "The United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society."


So Pope Benedict has condemned gay marriage. Note that he didn't give greater emphasis to the dangers posed to the family by gay marriage than those posed by divorce, non-rhythm-system birth control, and extramarital sex. He also gave no Biblical justification for his pronouncements but called them false expressions of "the true liberation of man." ??? By the way, I've never understood the Catholic opposition to "artificial" birth control but approval of the rhythm system. It's kind of like the logic Bush uses for limiting the stem cells available for research. If the Church's position is that the purpose of lovemaking is strictly for procreation, then how do they justify ANY form of birth control? And why not condemn marital sex when the wife is pregnant?

ROME (Reuters) - Pope Benedict, in his first clear pronouncement on gay marriages since his election, on Monday condemned same-sex unions as fake and expressions of "anarchic freedom" that threatened the future of the family.

The Pope, who was elected in April, also condemned divorce, artificial birth control, trial marriages and free-style unions, saying all of these practices were dangerous for the family.

"Today's various forms of dissolution of marriage, free unions, trial marriages as well as the pseudo-matrimonies between people of the same sex are instead expressions of anarchic freedom which falsely tries to pass itself off as the true liberation of man," he said.

The Pope spoke to families at Rome's St. John's Cathedral on an issue that has become highly controversial around the world, particularly in Europe and the United States.

In April, parliament in traditionally Catholic Spain gave initial approval to a law legalizing gay marriage. It is widely expected to be approved by the Senate and to become law.

But just last week, California's Assembly killed off a bill that would have allowed gay marriage in the most populous U.S. state.

The Pope, who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed the Vatican's doctrinal department for more than two decades, said "pseudo freedoms" such as gay marriages were based on what he called the "banalisation of the human body" and of man himself.


Ken Mehlman on MTP speaking about the Downing Street memo (scroll about halfway down):

MR. RUSSERT:  Let me turn to the now-famous Downing Street memo...This is July of 2002.  We didn't invade until March of 2003.  And the prime minister of Great Britain is being told by the head of his intelligence that he went to Washington and believes that a decision had already been made and that the administration was fixing or manipulating the intelligence to support the policy.

MR. MEHLMAN:  Tim, that report has been discredited by everyone else who's looked at it since then...

MR. RUSSERT:  I don't believe that the authenticity of this report has been discredited.

MR. MEHLMAN:  I believe that the findings of the report, the fact that the intelligence was somehow fixed have been totally discredited by everyone who's looked at it.

MR. RUSSERT:  There--let me go back to another sentence from that report. "There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."  ...This memo seems to suggest that the head of British Intelligence told Prime Minister Blair that there was little discussion in Washington to plan for the aftermath of military action.

MR. MEHLMAN: ...We did plan for the future.  There are some things you can plan for.  There are some things that are harder to plan for, but I believe we're doing a very important mission in Iraq, which is defeating the terrorists, promoting democracy and you've seen throughout this spring what the effects of that democracy have been in other Arab nations.

MR. RUSSERT:  The primary rationale given for the war, however, was the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.  And again I refer you to the memo of the prime minister's meeting.  "It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided.  But the case was thin.  Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than half that of Libya, North Korea and Iran."

MR. MEHLMAN:  Well, the president, I think, was responsible in saying we need to simultaneously prepare for war and also try to avoid that war.  There were simultaneous efforts at the diplomatic stages that were made and yet at the same time it would have been irresponsible for us to say we're going to wait and then plan for war later because we wouldn't have had as effective an effort as we did to remove Saddam Hussein from power, so we needed to do both at the same time.
[Emphasis mine]


The WSJ reports that To Fill Ranks, Army Acts To Retain Even Problem Enlistees:

Faced with a long, tough war in Iraq, the U.S. Army has struggled mightily with recruiting. Now the service is battling to keep the new soldiers it has brought into the force.

More of the new Army recruits are washing out of the service before completing their first enlistment, which typically runs three or four years. One recent memorandum from a senior Army personnel official branded the problem "a matter of great concern."
To keep more soldiers in the service, the Army has told battalion commanders, who typically command 800-soldier units, that they can no longer bounce soldiers from the service for poor fitness, pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse or generally unsatisfactory performance. Typically such decisions are made at that level. Instead, the battalion commanders must send the problem soldiers' cases up to their brigade commander, who typically commands about 3,000 soldiers.
Still, some Army battalion commanders are less than pleased with the Army's decision to try to keep more problem soldiers in the service. "It is the guys on weight control ... school no-shows, drug users, et cetera, who eat up my time and cause my hair to gray prematurely," says one Army battalion commander. "Often they have more than one of these issues simultaneously."

So Bill Maher wasn't so far off base with his remarks about desperate military recruiting, was he?

Rep. Spencer Bachus (search), R-Ala., takes issue with remarks on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher," first aired May 13, in which Maher points out the Army missed its recruiting goal by 42 percent in April.

"More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club," Maher said. "We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England (search) fruit, and now we need warm bodies."

Sunday, June 5


JD: I took Al Haig off my list years ago. He's a Nixon apologist, and Deep Throat was not. I'm surprised what Felt did, but I think it was a noble act.

CC: If my cons get the idea that you can break the law for a noble purpose and justify it, it'll be devastating to their moral training. I went to prison, voluntarily, agreed that I was wrong, I wanted to set a precedent because I've seen the wreckage in our society of lack of moral training.

RB: Possibly Felt broke the law, but I think his value was to offer confidence to the WaPo editors that their investigation was on track. I think his position was nuanced -- private, personal motivations a part. Yet he also witnessed how the FBI, the CIA, the IRS were being corrupted, and he saw the WH breaking the law...he could have gone to his supervisor, but Gray had been discredited; he could have gone to Kleinschmidt, but... so it is ridiculous for these Nixon sycophants to rail against Felt when all they wanted was to protect Nixon and themselves...

JD: I don't think Felt was acting alone. I think Felt, in the long run, did the right thing. I've been there.

CC: I completely dismissed Felt as the source. I had consummate confidence in him as a professional. Don't make a hero who did what I essentially did.

RB: Colson still has an issue with loyalty. The deal is, loyalty is supposed to be to the Constitution, not to a man.

CC: I've always thought that Deep Throat was a composite. RB-V, does the end justify the means?

RB: The perfect is the enemy of the good. Mark Felt didn't do the perfect, but in the end, it was good.


Why am I compelled today to watch the opinion shows? "WE WATCH SO YOU WON'T HAVE TO?"

Nice phrase from Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) on Wolf Blitzer: There seems to be a disconnect between "Rose Garden optimism" and "Baghdad Pessimism."

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Majority Whip): There are only two ways we can leave Iraq: either the government asks us to leave or the insurgency is defeated.

Dodd: We have to keep going. And the Iraqi people have to make this work or all the resources of the U.S. will not solve this problem. But we have to be realistic and not keep uttering optimistic statements.

Amnesty International's allegations and the BushCo reaction:

McConnell: The gulag thing is absolutely absurd. Individual soldiers might have made mistakes. Our people aren't perfect. But to compare it to a gulag is outrageous.

Dodd: We're going to have an anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials. Some people thought we should just execute all the defendants. But we ruled by law, and some defendants were even exonerated. What worries me here is that we're getting away from that example, that we're a nation of laws. I don't go so far as to say shut down Gitmo. But it's important for our legacy, for the way people think about us, that we do what's right.

McConnell: Hearings, schmearings. It's hard to run a perfect prison, but the United States does that better than anyone.

There are indications that the U.S. will go to the U.N. to seek sanctions against North Korea. Is that a good idea?

McConnell: I would leave it up to the administration.

Dodd: I don't disagree with that. The key is really going to be China. They're the suppliers to North Korea.

Bolton's confirmation?

Dodd: What's holding this up is a desire to get some additional information about Bolton. I have no desire to have this go on any longer. But the Senate as an institution has the right to this information, and I don't think we should back down from that.

McConnell: It'll be up to the Dems whether he gets an up or down vote. If he does, he'll win confirmation. I was guilty of holding up nominations when we didn't get the information we were entitled to in the past.

Bush judicial nominations?

Dodd: Reasonable is the key word. Reasonableness of the nominations and Democrats' reasonable responses.

McConnell: Every judge got an up or down vote before. If they go back to filibustering, the "Constitutional option" is still on the board and will be exercised.

Howard Dean?

Dodd: He's doing a good job as party leader.

McConnell: I can't think of anybody we'd like better heading your party than Howard Dean.

Interview with WaPo's John Harris, author of The Survivor, a tome about Bill Clinton.

JH: One of the keys is the relationship between Bill and Hillary. During her 2000 Senate campaign Bill remarked, "Women want to know why you stayed with me." Hillary: "I've been wondering about that myself." Bill: 'Because you're a sticker." He is too. It's a genuine relationship motivated by mutual respect and, even, love. But she likes having her own role. We're seeing this fascinating role reversal. Everyone I've talked to in the Clinton circle is operating on the assumption she's going to run for president.

Was Bill poll-driven? No, his values always rose to the top of any issue. The time to really listen to Bill Clinton was after the workday was done, when he would inevitably say what he really thought, constantly he'd throw the notes away. You could almost always read Clinton, he wasn't dark or secretive.

How did he survive Monica?

The personal and the political. The country said look, we'll look at the personal stuff but on the political and economic front we're happy. Bill Clinton has a hunger, he'll never be beaten, that penchant both gets him in trouble and gets him out.

Bin Laden:

BC is highly attuned to risks and he can always see the trade-offs, it sometimes inhibits him from taking risks. It puts him in the middle zone of good or perhaps not in the tune of great.

Al Haig and Zbigniev Brzezinski:

ZB: I doubt these are the last throes of the insurgency. Iraqis are nationalistic and they do not like the occupation. It's keeping the insurgency alive.

AH: We are making progress, but the real issue all along is, can we close the border? Not enough resources to deal with it. It's not comparable to the Ho Chi Minh Trail, but it's a grim artery.

ZB: I don't think it's a Vietnam because we were facing an organized army supported by Red China and the Soviet Union. In Iraq, we're dealing primarily with the insurgency, and it's not outside forces. We have not produced hardly any serious foreign agents in combat. These are Iraqis who don't want to be occupied by a foreign power.

AH: There are some civil war overtones associated with the current dilemma. The potential threat, ultimately, is from non-Arab Muslim fundamentalist countries. Turkey, Iran. We have to be very careful that we do not force non-Arab countries who are concerned about American non-resolve and manlihood, that we will also fail them.

ZB: It's important that Europe does not push Turkey into becoming another Middle Eastern problem. We must face the fact that Iraq is going to be living to Iran, Turkey and Syria, forever, and will find its balance only when the problem-maker is gone. Without us I'm convinced they'll find some stability -- not democracy, but stability. Otherwise the blood is going to go on and on and on...

Exposing Saddam's crimes will probably help somewhat. Where is the Iraqi leadership located? In the Green Zone, a closed American station.

AH: We're not ready to withdraw from Iraq.

ZB: I would like to encourage the Iraqi officials to tell us, "We're ready for you to leave."

AH: If we can keep our patience, our resolve, stay behind the policies --

Cheney on North Korea?

AH: Very important that we get China's cooperation. We should handle with a little less public diplomacy and more private talks with those who share our interests. And China shares our interests. They don't want a country with a nuclear weapon on their border.

ZB: I agree basically with Al.

ZB: Just think of that statement. It came from the DefSec that's spending more on military than the combined countries of the world. And he says, "China has no enemy."

AH: I think we should cool some of the anti-China rhetoric coming from the Pentagon.

Deep Throat?

AH: John Dean perpetrated the idea that I was Deep Throat. It's a dead story, Watergate, and certainly Deep Throat. The true death kneel for Mister Nixon was the tapes. The American people were offended by those tapes, which resulted in the deserting of the "Boll Weevils" of the South. I thought Mark Felt was Deep Throat. It wasn't difficult because the really accurate part of the Woodward/Bernstein book was the "follow the money" part, and that was the FBI's responsiblity. Felt should have gone through channels, like I did when I resigned from two administrations. He should have gone upstairs and said, "This isn't tolerable."

UPDATE: Apparently, this is where Dodd got his pithy "Rose Garden optimism versus Baghdad pessimism" phrase. It's also worth reading the whole article.


Probably the best thing I have read since the identity of Deep Throat was revealed, by Jonathan Alter. A must-must-read.


A most moving Memorial Day address by a pro-war father who's changed his position since his son was killed in Iraq and his efforts to give that sacrifice meaning brought him to more knowledge and understanding. Read both linked articles.

It should be unacceptable that wounded are sent anonymously to Walter Reed without name or acknowledgement by their neighbors or government.

It is unacceptable for generals to dishevel the truth; to fail to provide the troops with the tools they need to finish the job.

It should be unacceptable for analysts to distort intelligence, or for leaders to lie because it is expedient.

It is wrong to hide the costs of war.

To break the faith with the public is to break the faith with the dead who gave so much.

It is wrong not to speak in a democracy. Democracy cannot fear discourse or dissent. Silence is deadly.

It has become too easy to send another man’s son to war.


Margaret Carlson on what is absurd: not the allegations of Amnesty International, but BushCo's spin.

I feel like I have to note I come from a military family if I so much as criticize unarmored Humvees or else risk being accused of being unpatriotic. Bush on May 31 said that only those who hate America would allege such abuse. But if the charges are true, it is the perpetrators and their superiors who show contempt for America and what it represents.

Watching the government stonewalling and lie about the fatal beating of an innocent man is as disturbing as watching the torture McCain suffered 30 years ago rather than betray what America stands for.


Bob Schieffer thinks today's press intimidation doesn't come close to what the Nixon crew tried and/or contemplated to do to the media.

David Gergen: Woodward and Bernstein vetted their sources and got double confirmations before they went to press. Not being done so much today, too much reliance on single anonymous sources. Richard Clarke is an example of the honorable way to handle dissent, he resigned and then went public openly.

Schieffer: Watergate shows how it should be done. They didn't just buy what one source told them, they checked it against other sources. The truth is the result and it is its own defense against bias.

Gergen: In the Reagan administration we had a policy that a certain number of people would meet with certain media on a regular basis to provide background. We believed it was important to establish relationships with reporters to build trust, which is the coin of the realm.

Schieffer: I couldn't have done my job without anonymous sources, but again, you have to check it out.


None of us could do our jobs without using anonymous sources.

Are we worried about legal action against journalists protecting sources? Kelli Arena: Yes, there's been a sea change. Steve Roberts (Cokie's husband): Felt was a hero. He was the classic case of a government whistleblower with conscience. The problem with defending the reporters protecting their sources involved in the Plame case is that we're dealing with a sleazebag who outed a CIA agent for political purposes. It's hard to defend. Arena: Yes, but do you want to start us on the slippery slope? Jackie Judd: We don't press anonymous sources enough to go on the record because it's "sexier" to cite anonymous sources, it adds credibility to the story.

Motivations behind Mark Felt revealing himself as Deep Throat? Jackie Judd: Probably as complicated as his reasons for leaking in the first place. In the end, it only matters that the story is true.

Kelli Arena: I think all news organizations are reviewing how anonymous sources are to be used. There's a push by editors to, if not get the name, to at least characterize the source's position as closely as possible, and to put into context their motivations in speaking out.

Steve Roberts: No such thing as a pure source. Everybody has a reason, whether honorable, ego-related, whatever. You always have to factor that in. And, like Jackie said, check check check.


JOE BIDEN on This Week with George Stephanopoulos: Iraqis aren't capable or lawfully able (because of the de-Baathification of the military) to train their own troops, we'll have to have patience and get on with it, though we're a year and a half behind. If we leave there'll be a civil war and indeed, some of my colleagues are concerned it's already happening.

The president will probably win Bolton's confirmation, but it will be very close with 45-47 votes against. Bush will probably crow about it as a victory, but I think that would be a mistake. Such a close vote reduces confidence in the administration and in the tough calls in the future, the president will have less credibility.

Darfur: a small force would have a phenomenal impact, 1500-3000 troops would change the whole complexion of the area. We could radically change the number of lives being lost at very little cost. I would include American troops. We should do it now and the Europeans should not be let off the hook. I wrote the president about this 6-8 weeks ago.

Howard Dean's remarks this week about Republicans: Dean's not doing the party any good with that kind of rhetoric. He doesn't speak for me and I don't think he speaks for most Democrats. I hope he listens to the reactions of the majority of Democrats and changes his rhetoric.

BEN BRADLEE: I didn't feel really scooped (about the identity of Deep Throat being revealed), Vanity Fair's not out yet. All the mysteries never are solved, there may be something that I don't know, but the world now knows what I know.

If we start listing the number of people who lied about this you'd have to start with Chuck Colson and Gordon Liddy. I don't know why we have to listen to and believe them, they went to jail.

People talk to journalists for a reason. It's up to the journalist to understand that reason as best he can, and I think we did understand Mark Felt. He was disturbed by what he saw happening in the White House, what was being covered up, and he went public. Who could he go public to? He couldn't go to the Attorney General, who was on his way to jail. He couldn't go to Pat Gray, head of the FBI, his boss, who destroyed evidence (burned letters from Howard Hunt). So I don't know where he could go. I think he made a great choice.

We knew that Woodward had a friend. We knew that he was right. That's the important thing. We knew he was high up in the Justice Department. But the most important thing to the Post was that his information turned out to be right. I didn't ask his identity earlier because I thought I knew enough.

The one thing we got wrong was the $350,000 slush fund being exposed to the Grand Jury. The mistake was that he didn't tell the Grand Jury, he told the prosecutor, and it was $750,000. In 48 hours we made that correction. I think we could withstand the pressure in today's environment. It was pretty tough even back then.

I don't want to get into criticism of the Post today. i've been out of the job for 13 years and every time I read the paper I find something wrong with it. You probably do too. But Len Downey's doing a great job. I think there's some merit to criticism. I think it's fair to say that after Watergate the Post and other media were cowed by "what hath we wrought?" in taking down a president. I think we've backed off and probably shouldn't have.

THE PANEL: Sam Donaldson vs. Cokie Roberts and George Will. Steph: Could the press do the same (re Bradlee discussion) today? Sam: I think they could, but it'd be tough. Remember, the WH tried to bring down the Post. I think the Bush administration would do the same today. You couldn't find a highly placed source like Deep Throat today, not in this White House. Cokie: I like what Bradlee said, we're not in the business of bringing down presidents. Steph: Evolution is back as an issue. 20 states are debating allowing "intelligent design" to be taught in schools. Cokie: I don't see what the conflict is. I don't see why you can't believe in a Creator and evolution both. Sam: The problem is, if you force in secular schools young people to believe in a Creator. Will: It's the mechanism of evolution they don't like; what they want to say is, it's not random, it's purposeful. The problem with intelligence design theory is that it's not falsifiable, it has no place in a public classroom. Sam: Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's.


F.A.I.R. points out a largely overlooked issue in the onslaught of criticism against Newsweek for its short item about Koran abuse at Gitmo: the fact that the magazine submitted the article to the Pentagon for review before publishing it.

But is showing articles to government officials prepublication really "the right thing" to do? Such advance looks can't help but imply that journalists are asking for permission to publish critical articles about the government—a dangerous impression to give if the news media hope to maintain a free press. The prepublication review also invites officials to give feedback not only on facts but on questions of balance, organization and tone as well—areas in which government officials have no special expertise, but which as interested parties to the story they have every incentive to weigh in on.

Of course, checking facts is an important part of the journalistic process. But fact-checking traditionally involves asking sources about the facts in a report, not giving sources a chance to review the entire report ahead of time. This not only protects the story from attempts by sources to participate in the editing process, it's also less fallible than Newsweek's method. When an official is shown a story in advance and makes no comment about a particular allegation, that can mean many things: "That's true"; "I don't know if that's true or not"; "That's less important than other things I'd like to comment on"; "I hope publishing this false report blows up in your face."
When asked to explain the discrepancy between the White House's criticism of Newsweek's anonymous sourcing of its Quran item and the fact that the White House itself regularly gives anonymous briefings to reporters, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said (5/17/05) it was acceptable to quote anonymous "officials who are helping to provide context to on-the-record comments made by people like the President or the Secretary of State or others"; the real problem was that "some media organizations have used anonymous sources that are hiding behind that anonymity in order to generate negative attacks."

It's easy to see why the White House press secretary would approve of anonymous sources when they help the administration and condemn them when they don't. What's more puzzling is that some in the media seem to be judging anonymous sources the same way.