December 2004 Archives

December 31, 2004

Gladiator Journalism

R.S.Johnson, a fellow Chicagoan, has established a provocative blog called Gladiator Journalism. I found it while reviewing weblogs at Blogger.Com and immediately put it in my favorites log. If this blog is regularly updated, with interesting posts, it could become widely read and influential.

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Fellow Republican Tells Dino Rossi 'New Vote Not Needed'

Greg Kimsey, the Clark County, Washington auditor and chief elections official, disagrees "with fellow-Republican Dino Rossi's call for another gubernatorial election," reports Don Jenkins, a staff writer for The Columbian in Washington State.

"Every time we have a close election, are we going to resolve it with another election?" Mr. Kimsey asked, according to the Jenkins report. "If somebody believes there is fraud or illegal votes, they should go to a judge with that information." That makes sense to me.

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USAbroad: 'Bush Administration Stiffs People in Need, Weakens U.S.'

The blog USAAbroad, which offers "news for U.S. citizens who live and travel abroad," charged in a December 31, 2004 post that the "Bush Administration continued its four-year blackening of America's reputation by pledging a pathetic $35 million in response to one of the worst natural disasters in world history.

"The Administration initially suggested $15 million would be an adequate relief amount, but increased the sum after criticism from the U.N.," writer Bob Neer said. "The desperately selfish offering confirms the image of our country as a rogue nation: a problematic neighbor unwilling to participate constructively in the global community."

UPDATE: The Bush Administration has since pledged $35 Million to the disaster relief effort in South Asia and East Africa.

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Virginia Delgate Wants to End State's All-or-Nothing Electoral College

Virginia Delegate James M. Scott "has reintroduced a bill that would allocate Electoral College votes on the basis of the popular vote in each of the state's 11 congressional districts," according to the Associated Press. "The statewide vote would continue to apply to the two electors representing Virginia's senators.," the wire service said.

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Yanukovych Faces Reality, Rossi Should Do the Same

Ukraine's Prime Minister, Viktor Yanukovych, has resigned after being defeated for the presidency by Viktor Yushchenko. "I have made the decision and am formally submitting my resignation," he said in a televised address according to the BBC and other news outlets. Now, it's time for Dino Rossi, the Republican candidate for governor in Washington State, who lost to Democrat Christine Gregoire, to do the same. He lost in a recount and has demanded a revote.

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South Asia Leaders to Hold Summit on Aid and Restructuring

Zaman Daily Online reports that Indonesia Foreign Minister Hasan Wirajuda has announced that the presidents and representatives from 10 members of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation will meet January 6, 2005 in Indonesia. They will discuss regional needs and restructuring following the December 26, 2004 earthquake and tsunami that struck South Asia and Africa. They were scheduled to hold their 13th Summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, January 9-11, 2005. It was postponed because four members were hit hard by the disaster, which has taken more than 125,000 lives.

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Hefley stands up to The Hammer and May Get Nailed

The Denver Post noted in a December 30, 2004, editorial that "Congressional leaders are rumored to be considering replacing Rep. Joel Hefley as House ethics committee chair, in order to protect [Representative] Tom DeLay" of Texas. Here is why. Also see Judicial Watch's compilation of complaints against Mr. DeLay.

More on Replacing House Ethics Leader
Hastert Weighs New Ethics Panel Chief--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
GOP Wants to Make Ethics Probes Harder--The Washington Times
House to Consider Relaxing Its Rules GOP Leaders Seek Ethics Changes--The Washington Post
Watchdog Groups Criticize G.O.P. Plan on Ethics Complaints--The New York Times
Questionable Standards--Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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Justice Department Posts New Torture Definitions

"The Justice Department late yesterday published a revised and expansive definition of acts that constitute torture under domestic and international law, overtly repudiating one of the most-criticized policy memorandums of President Bush's first term," reports The Washington Post and other media outlets. The news definitions issued December 30, 2004, say:

Torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and to international norms. This universal repudiation of torture is reflected in our criminal law, for example, 18 U.S.C. §§ 23402340A; international agreements, exemplified by the United Nations Convention Against Torture (the "CAT")'; customary international law2; centuries of Anglo-American law3; and the longstanding policy of the United States, repeatedly and recently reaffirmed by the President
Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under the Federal Freedom of Information Act, allegations made by military lawyers and photos from torture sessions at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq have shone an embarassing, global spotlight on the U.S.' use of torture while condemning others for using it. Read the new definitions here.

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Andrew Rosenthal: 'Bush's Lawyers are Housebroken'

Lawyers in uniform were adamant that the United States follow the Geneva Conventions against torture while some civilian lawyers in the Bush Administration sought ways to justify torture at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. At least that's the assertion of Andrew Rosenthal in an article in the International Herald Tribune headlined Bush's House Broken Lawyers. The same article appeared in The New York Times. Frankly, I was surprised that military lawyers would challenge the administration on the use of torture. I expected them to follow whatever guidelines came out of the White House and the Pentagon.

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Constesting Elections in Washington State

Lewis Lamb, a reporter with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, reported December 31, 2004, that, "If Dino Rossi and the Republicans contest the [State of Washington] governor's election, they'll be sailing into uncharted waters." "While there are examples," he wrote, "contested elections in Washington are a rarity." He quotes John Pearson, state deputy director of elections for the Secretary of State's Office, as saying:

We don't have a lot of experience with contested elections in this state. We do have some in local races, but I can't recall any contested election of a statewide office, such as governor.
Under Washington state law, "any registered voter in Washington can contest the result of an election in court," Mr.Lamb reported.

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December 30, 2004

Indian Ocean Disaster Blog

Subramanyan Nageswaran calls his Indian Ocean Disaster blog "a single station for most of the latest information about the disaster and the relief efforts that are underway in the 11 nations affected by the killer Tsunami in 2004." I can't vouch for the blog, but it does seem to have good links to news about the disaster. There are also links to aid organizations.

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The Persicope Says Media Politicizing the Tsunami Disaster

The Periscope says "Amid the tragedy of the Indian Ocean tsunami and the 100,000 plus lives lost because of it, a disgusting wave of politicalization has been making its way through the media due to the interests of those intent on playing the game." I think The Periscope's position has merit. Read it here.

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Rothschilds: 'New York Times Says Tsunami Kills White People, Too'

Matthew Rothschilds, editor of The Progressive, makes a provocative observation about news coverage of the earthquake and tsunami that struck south Asia, southeast Asia and the east coast of Africa on December 26, 2004. See New York Times Says Tsunami Kills White People, Too.

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If Most Tsunami Victims Were European, Christian and White

"George Bush is a bad Christian and a bad president," says John in DC in a post at Americablog in a post about Mr. Bush's initial position on the disaster that sruck Asia and the east Africa coast on December 26, 2004. "And the religious right and their pseudo faith in God is right there along side him," the poster added. "One wonders if the reaction would have been different had the victims been European and Christian. And white." One can wonder.

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Gentlemen, the Election is Over

Lawyers for Green Party candidate David Cobb and the Libertarian Party's Michael Badnarik asked a federal court December 30, 2004, to "force a second recount of the Ohio vote, alleging county election boards altered votes and didn't follow proper procedures in the recount that ended this week," according to the AP.

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Jeb Bush, Not George, Scheduled to Vist South Asia

Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the brother of President George W. Bush, "will travel to southeast Asia with Secretary of State Colin Powell and visit the areas devastated by tsunamis," Alia Faraj, the governor's spokeswoman, said December 30, 2004. Question: Why is the president sending his brother instead of going himself? Is that the kind of thing the leader of the most powerful nation on earth doesn't do?

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Rumsfeld and Neo-cons Found Each Other Useful

Joseph L. Galloway, senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers and co-author of the national best-seller "We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young." argues that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "was never a neo-conservative. He just found them useful as he took over the Pentagon for the second time.

Clearly the neo-cons found Rumsfeld useful as well as they pushed their ideas on transforming the Middle East. So what happened? Why is Rumsfeld being stabbed in the back by those he trusted the most to back his play? By the very people who have argued for years in favor of taking out Saddam Hussein, installing democracy and creating a bully pulpit, and the military bases, from which the Middle East would be weaned from dictatorship and an implacable hatred of Israel and the United States.
"Simple," Mr. Galloway said. "They want someone else to be blamed besides them for fouling up their marvelous plans and schemes - someone who is a handy lightning rod and who is NOT a card-carrying neo-conservative. So who better than Rumsfeld?" Read Mr. Galloway's article here.

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Marijuana and Aleve: Which is More Lethal?

Salim Muwakkil, a colleague of mine at a newspaper in Chicago during the 1970s, noted in a December 29, 2004, article published by Common Dreams that, "Last week we learned that the pain relief drug naproxen, sold as Aleve, was found in a study to increase the risk of heart problems. This news followed a flow of bad PR on the pharmaceutical front about other pain relievers," he wrote, adding:.

"But while we openly discuss the lethal potential of legal pain relievers, shouldn’t we question why one the least lethal medications remains illegal? That medication is marijuana." Reader views are welcome.

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Why Was Campaign Contribution Charge Against Sears Dropped?

Prosecutors in Travis County, Texas "have agreed to drop an illegal campaign contribution charge against Sears, Roebuck and Co. in exchange for the company's cooperation with a state investigation of contributions to a Republican political action committee," according to the AP. Sears was one of eight corporations "accused of making a $25,000 donation to Texans for a Republican Majority during the 2002 legislative campaign," the AP noted, adding: "The use of corporate money for political purposes is illegal in Texas.

I wonder whether House Majority Leader Tom Delay of Texas is worried by this development. Three of his associates have been indicted during the investigation, which has gained the attention of House Republicans. They made a rule change to make it possible for Mr. DeLay to continue to hold leadership positions if he is indicted.

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Mr. Rossi, it's Time to Throw in the Towel

Despite the fact that Democrat Christine Gregoire has been certified as governor of Washington state, her Republican opponent, Dino Rossi, had not conceded defeat when this item was posted. He reminds me of Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, who refuses to concede that he was defeated by Viktor Yushchenko in the December 26, 2004, revote for the presidency of Ukraine. It will be interesting to see which man concedes first.

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December 29, 2004

Dino Rossi Wants a Revote

Rick Edwards over at PowerPundit supports Washington State Gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi's call for a revote, which "county election officials across the state have turned down," according to the December 29, 2004, edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Mr. Edwards wrote:

Dino Rossi and the Republicans in Washington state are not backing down. Rossi tonight has called for a revote in the governor's race.

Good for him!

If the Democrats and Gregoire refuse they will create the impression that they fear a certain loss and reinforce the impression that they have stolen the governor's race. The Democrats can only lose in the court of public opinion, regardless of how they attempt to spin it, if they refuse a revote.

Question: How are they going to reinforce the impression that they have stolen the governor's race by not endorsing a recount? Has a poll been conducted that shows that the majority of Washingtonians think the Democrats stole an election in which a state-wide hand recount of 2.9 million ballots cast during the November 2, 2004 election shows that Democrat Christine Gregoire won by 130 votes? If one was conducted, I haven't heard about it. Of course, that doesn't mean it wasn't done.

It's easy to understand why Mr. Rossi would call for a revote. He was initially declared the winner by a 42-vote margin. Because of that, he wants a revote. Is he going to pay for it, the way Democrats paid for the recount? As Robert Jamieson of the Seattle Post-Intelligence stated in a December 24, 2004 column, "Hell hath no fury like a political party scorned."

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Getting a Ticket to Bush's Free Inaugural Gala Isn't Easy

If you want to go to President George W. Bush's free inaugural gala, you had better contact your senator or representative. According to the Associated Press, "each senator, regardless of party, gets 400 tickets to distribute. House members get about 200 apiece. To meet the demand, Republican lawmakers are asking Democrats for their leftovers, since not that many Democrats plan to make the trip to celebrate Bush's victory." Now that's a smart move.

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December 28, 2004

Thanks to The National Debate

Thanks to Robert Cox at The National Debate for referencing a post I did called "What is Greg Mitchell's Crime?" My post was a response a TND post headlined "120 Years Down the Drain at E&P."

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Slate: Iraq 2004 Looks Like Vietnam 1966

Phillip Carter and Owen West contend in a December 27, 2004 post at Slate that "Generational contrasts are implicit today when casualties in Iraq are referred to as light, either on their own or in comparison to Vietnam." They also said:

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, for example, last July downplayed the intensity of the Iraq war on this basis, arguing that "it would take over 73 years for U.S. forces to incur the level of combat deaths suffered in the Vietnam war. But a comparative analysis of U.S. casualty statistics from Iraq tells a different story. After factoring in medical, doctrinal, and technological improvements, infantry duty in Iraq circa 2004 comes out just as intense as infantry duty in Vietnam circa 1966—and in some cases more lethal.
The writers said "even discrete engagements, such as the battle of Hue City in 1968 and the battles for Fallujah in 2004, tell a similar tale: Today's grunts are patrolling a battlefield every bit as deadly as the crucible their fathers faced in Southeast Asia." Their argument makes sense to me. Read it here.

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Are Blogs Becoming More Specialized?

Bruce Bartlett of TownHall.Com stated in a December 28, 2004 post on blogs and bloggers: "What I have discovered in the past year is that there is increasing specialization among bloggers, with more staking out narrow areas of commentary. Since my main interests are economics and tax policy, I have singled out a few blogs in these areas that I have found to be valuable resources." Click here to see Mr. Bartlett's list of blogs.

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Some Folks are Still Debating the Presidential Election

If you care, the John Kerry 2004: The Unofficial Kerry for President Blog says "Americablog has an overly simplistic look at the election: Kerry sucked. The problem with such theories, beyond being incorrect, is that if we blame the candidate rather than looking at the problems which resulted in losses by both Gore and Kerry, we are doomed to repeat such losses," says poster Ron Chusid. People are still interested in the subject because "Kerry Sucks" had generated 140 comments the last time I looked.

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The Commonwealth Conservative

Attorney John Behan of the Commonwealth Conservative has moved the blog from blogspot to its own domain. The layout looks good, and the posts are still interesting. Congratulations, John.

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December 27, 2004

Red State Debunker

One of my favorite blogs, The American Muckraker, is now the Red State Debunker. I like The American Muckraker, however in a December 25, 2004 post, Debunker said the name was changed "In recognition of the harsh reality of the November election results, as seen in both the electoral and popular votes." At least the provicative analysis hasn't changed.

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Zbigniew Brzezinski Thinks Invasion of Iraq Not Worth It

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, had this to say about the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq

I personally think it was not worth it, in the sense that we have paid a high price in blood. And it's increasing. You cannot underestimate the suffering that this has already produced to tens of thousands of American families.
Mr. Brzezinski appeared on CNN along with Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state and national security adviser under President Richard Nixon. Mr. Kissinger supports the war, but said the Bush Administration had misjudged the situation in Iraq. Read more here.

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In Denial About Social Security

Ruben Navarrette, a Dallas Morning News columnist, says "it's past time for a grown-up discussion about how to fix Social Security. That's also what the country needs with nearly 70 million baby boomers on the cusp of retirement." He said "defenders of the status quo insist there is no "crisis" and that the program is in fine shape. Talk about being in denial," he added. Read more here.

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December 26, 2004

Tsunami Blogging in Malaysia

The Jan in Malaysia blog has photos, video, links and vivid descriptions of life in Malaysia after it was struck by a Tsunami that killed over 11,000 people in several countries. My heart goes out to those who lost their lives.

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Is Bush Planning to Give Top Posts to Sunni Leaders in Iraq?

Where is the democracy in this? The Bush administration has decide to give top posts to Iraqi Sunni leaders so as to keep a balance even if they do not do well in the elections," according to a report in the International Reporter. "A certain number of seats or posts shall be guaranteed to them," the paper said.

I thought people were suppose to come to power through elections under the Bush plan for Iraq. Instead, if the report is accurate, the administration will continue its policy of installing certain people in power. I almost forgot, colonial powers have always done that. Why expect this one to act differently?

Note: This article is also posted at The Foreign News Observer

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'It's Not Acceptable for Anyone to Interfere in Our Business'

ChristianIraq.Com reports that "Iraqi Electoral Commission spokesman Farid Ayar outright rejected U.S. administration proposals to set aside a number of seats, on the 275-member National Assembly, for Sunnis." Said Farid:

“It is not acceptable for anyone to interfere in our business. That will not be allowed to happen,” and “Who wins, wins. That is the way it is. That is the way it will be in the election.
ChristianIraq.Com said "the U.S. has been looking for ways to make sure that Sunnis are represented in the new Iraqi government whatever the election outcome."

Don't be surprised if you see a campaign in the near future to discredit Mr.Ayar. How dare he show some independence.

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December 25, 2004

Will 98 Uncounted Votes in Alaska Help Dino Rossi Become Governor?

Seattle Times staff reporters David Postman and Ralph Thomas reported December 24, 2004, that "Alaska's elections director said yesterday [December 23, 2004] she has 98 uncounted ballots from Washington's November 2, [2004] election and would like to send them back here. Dino Rossi's campaign wants to see them," they wrote. Mr. Rossi was the Republican candidate for governor in Washington State.

As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported December 25, 2004, Mr. Rossi "lost the third and theoretically definitive count in the race against Democrat Christine Gregoire by just 130 votes out of about 2.8 million cast. Rossi won the original tally by 261 votes and the mandatory machine recount by 42."

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December 24, 2004

Neuharth: The Best Way to Help Troops in Iraq is to Bring Them Home

Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today, says U.S. troops in Iraq "can only dream of holidays at home." After describing his experiences during World War II, he said:

Despite unhappy holidays, nearly all of us who served in WWII were proud, determined and properly armed and equipped to help defeat would-be world conquerors Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy and Hirohito in Japan. At age 80, I'd gladly volunteer for such highly moral duty again. But if I were eligible for service in Iraq, I would do all I could to avoid it. I would have done the same during the Vietnam War, as many of the politically connected did.
He added:
Support Our Troops" is a wonderful patriotic slogan. But the best way to support troops thrust by unwise commanders in chief into ill-advised adventures like Vietnam and Iraq is to bring them home. Sooner rather than later. That should be our New Year's resolution.
Editor & Publisher's report on Mr. Neuharth's December 22, 2004 column, according to editor Greg Mitchell, generated hundreds of e-mails, many of them critical. Read Mr. Neuharth's article here.

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Columnist: 'Hell Hath No Fury Like a Political Party Scorned'

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Columnist Robert L. Jamieson says "All Washington state wants for Christmas is a new governor."

"Just when it seems as if Indecision 2004 could not get more serpentine, surreal or saddled with conspiracy theories, some monstrosity, like a fanged beast from an old black-and-white movie, jumps out," he opined on December 24, 2004. "The latest twist involves bloodsuckers with briefcases: lawyers." Read Jamieson's column here.

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What is Greg Mitchell's Crime?

The National Debate is one of my favorite blogs although I disagree with 90 percent of what Robert Cox, its proprietor, writes. I also recommend it to friends and acquaintances, and have links to it on my sites. I consider it a must read. I also predict that this blog will become very influential in 2005 as the blogosphere, with its opinionated writers, continues to reshape journalism to the chagrin of some mainstream journalists and pundits.

As I read today's posts at The National Debate, this headline-- "120 Years Down the Drain at E&P--caught my attention. I read the article and saw that The National Debate was taking Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher magazine, to task for his views on President George W. Bush, the Iraq War, etc.

"Has their ever been a better poster-child for bias in the media than Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher magazine?" the blog asked. Mr. Cox admits that:

I happen to like E&P. I like reading Joe Strupp and the breaking news stories are terrific. Yet the editor of the magazine is constantly using this platform to advance his far left, anti-Bush, anti-Iraq War agenda. I have no problem with Mitchell having an opinion but what does it say about the state of journalism today that the editor of the "authoritative journal” for the "North American newspaper industry" has no qualms about openly lobbying his readers - newspaper editors and journalists - to use their newspapers to rally America against the Bush administration and against the war in Iraq. What does it say about the magazine's publisher that they have no opposing views expressed from a similar perch within the magazine - or the industry that no such person is available.
The National Debate cited several articles that supposedly illustrates Mr. Mitchell's bias over the past year.

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December 23, 2004

Chicago Sun-Times Condemns Jewish Settlers' Protest Method

The Chicago Sun-Times today condemned the protest methods used by some Jewish settlers who oppose Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to give up the Palestinian land their settlements occupy. Specifically, the paper condemned them for handing out orange Star of David patches to settlers who are scheduled to be evicted

"Earlier this week some Israeli settlers in the Gaza decided to hand out orange Star of David patches to their compatriots as a protest against Ariel Sharon's plan to dismantle the 21 Israeli settlements there. They, too, sewed them onto the left side of their chests. But their action is outrageous and extreme. The proposed closure of the settlements, slated for next year, in no way compares to what happened during World War II.
The Sun-Times noted that, "In order to effect the annihilative Final Solution, the Nazis wanted to make sure they could identify Jews, immediately sort them from the general population. The method was a yellow badge in the shape of the Star of David. On Sept. 1, 1941, both German and Polish Jews were ordered to sew the Stars onto their outer clothing, on the left breast, and display them at all times.

"The yellow badge thus carries a lot of historical and emotional freight," the paper added. "It is a profound reminder of the Holocaust, and some of these badges have been preserved in museums --poignant, visual remembrances of the millions of lives lost."

The pro-Israel paper said "If the settlers choose to protest the closing of their homes, that is fine, but using the symbol of the Star of David badge is shameful and insults the memory of those who died in the Holocaust." I doubt the settlers will be disturbed by the paper's editorial.

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Novak Defends Donald Rumsfeld

In his December 23, 2004, column, syndicated columnist Robert Novak, said getting rid of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "does not answer agonizing questions." The questions he posed are: "Was the change of regime in Baghdad worth going to war? Could Saddam have been removed from power by other means? Is the use of U.S. military power to topple undemocratic regimes good policy?"

Mr. Novak said "There are no clear answers. To say simply that all would be well in Iraq, save for Don Rumsfeld, only begs these questions."

Mr. Novak's defense of Mr. Rumsfeld comes as Neoconservatives and Republicans, led by William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, are gathering forces to oust Mr. Rumsfeld, who screwed up their plans for a "cakewalk" into Iraq, with his use of light, highly mobile forces during the March 20, 2003, invasion of Iraq.

While Mr. Rumsfeld's forces successfully invaded and occupied Iraq, it has not been able to subdue it, and will never be able to do so. That's because a highly motivated and sophistated resistance movement continues to inflict heavy casualities on U.S. forces, and their Iraqi allies. Secondly, the U.S. does not know who to trust in Iraq, so any Iraqi could be the enemy, and will be treated accordingly thus causing more hostility. Read Mr. Novaks column here.

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Will Ending Pell Grant Lead to More Military Enrollment?

The New York Times reports that, "Because of the changes, which take effect in the 2005-06 academic year and are expected to save the government $300 million annually, at least 1.3 million low-income students will receive smaller Pell Grants, the nation's primary scholarship, according to two analyses of the new rules."

"In addition," The Times said, "about 89,000 students who would otherwise be getting some Pell Grant money will get none." I suspect many more Americans, especially the poor, will join the military to get money to go to college. That's why my niece joined. Read more here.

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They Really Made Every Vote Count in Washington State

"Democrat Christine Gregoire won the second and final recount in the Washington governor's race by a margin of 130 votes over Republican Dino Rossi," according to the AP. They really made every vote count in this one. I'm glad it's finally over.

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Plagued by Comment Spam

Like many blogs, The National Political Observer has been hit by comment spam. Today's total was 131. Consquently, I've turned off unregistered comments until software is installed to handle the spam problem

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December 22, 2004

The Washington State Vote Count

The controversial vote counting in the Washington State governor's race seems like a replay of the 2000 vote count fisasco in Florida between then presidential candidates George W. Bush and Vice-President Al Gore. The U.S. Supreme Court interfered and stopped the recount, thus giving the presidency to Mr. Bush, who was officially ahead in the count. In Washington State, according to the AP, "the state Supreme Court ruled that King County, a stronghold for Democrat Christine Gregoire, can add hundreds of previously disqualified ballots to a hand recount of the unbelievably close governor's race." She is battling Republican Dino Rossi.

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American Opinion on Iraq

Professor Juan Cole over at Informed Comment says "a new CNN poll shows that the views expressed at Informed Comment on most issues related to Iraq and Donald Rumsfeld have become mainstream in the American public. A majority of Americans thinks Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld should resign," he wrote on December 21, 2004. "I called for his resignation after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal broke last spring." So did many others.

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Out-of-control Federalization

Gene Healy, senior editor at the Cato Institute, and editor of the new book Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything, has a insightful piece at ReasonOnline headlined "Making A Federal Case Out of Almost Everything: It's time to rediscover constitutional limits," he contends. The article is about "out-of-control federalization."

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Daily Kos asks:"Who Will Be the Last to Die for Bush's Mistakes in Iraq

Daily Kos says "Bush destroys another 22 families" and asks: "Who will be the last to die for Bush's mistakes and his administration's incompetence?" I expect him to be attacked, as usual, by some denizens of the Blogosphere who want Americans to follow lockstep behind Mr. Bush on Iraq, no questions asked.

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Yglesias and Merry Christmas, Mr. Krauthammer

Matthew Yglesias' Merry Christmas, Mr. Krauthammer, an American Prospect article about how the majority Christians in the United States are bullied by a minority, namely "Jews, secularists, and Jewish secularists," is a fascinating look at a subject many writers are afraid to touch. He cites a "few brave souls" who are not afraid to speak up, among them "the Catholic League's William Donohue, who recently explained that Hollywood is "controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular." This revelation by Mr. Yglesias really caught my attention:

My father, though he doesn't control Hollywood personally, is a secular Jew who's been known to work in the film industry, and he's often discussed with me the way he has managed to insert anti-Christian themes into his work. For example, in one of his films, Fearless, the non-Jewish Jeff Bridges was forced to portray a character named Max Klein with a son named Jonah. The similarities between such de-Christianification of the cinema and the comprehensive censorship laws enacted by the South African government in 1974 in order to prevent the news media from covering protests by anti-apartheid groups should be clear.
I highly recommend this piece, not because, as Mr. Yglesias put it, "all people -- whether Christian or otherwise -- have a duty to fight against what Bill O'Reilly has aptly termed an "anti-Christmas jihad," but because it is a subject, like race, that needs to come come off the untouchable list. I also recommend Mr. Yglesias' blog. By the way, the title for Mr. Yglesias' article is a tribute to Washington Post Columnist Charles Krauthammer, one of the "few brave Jews" who, according to the writer, "have spoken out against the "absurd" and "relentless" campaign by "deracinated" Jews to "de-Christianize Christmas." He said "Krauthammer, however, takes a soft line against these misguided souls, advocating "pity" rather than anger as the appropriate response.

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December 20, 2004

Bush Reiterates Support for Rumsfeld

During his December 20, 2004, defense of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfled, who has been accused of being arrogant and insensitive towards U.S. soldiers and their families, President Bush said:

I have heard the anguish in his voice and seen his eyes when we talk about the danger in Iraq and the fact that youngsters are over there in harm's way."
The bottom line is that the "youngers" don't have to be in harms way. Bring them home and it will end. They won't have to worry about being shot at or blown up. If they stay in Iraq, the casualities will mount. When they reach a certain level, others besides Rumsfeld will be called to account.

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A Wonkette Response to a Question Causes a Stir

InDCJournal is upset with Ana Marie Cox, the Wonkette, for her answer to this question posed by Newsweek:

What did you think of the bloggers' role in the Dan Rather affair?

I think they did a disservice to the debate because they made the debate about the documents and not about the president of the United States. There was another half to that story that had to do with verifiable events of what Bush may have been up to.

The blogger behind InDCJournal said question and answer "angers me on many levels namely the typically clueless questioning publication, the narrow minded, ideologically-driven inaccuracy of the quote itself ... and the distasteful identity of the overhyped interviewee. The merit of Bush's service can be viewed as a completely distinct issue from the use of blatantly false documentation by a major news organization just prior to an election."

The National Political Observer finds it interesting that the question and Ms. Cox's candid response could cause such anger.

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FBI Worried It Would Be Left Holding the Bag on Prisoner Torture

On December 20, 2004, the Americal Civil Liberties Union's issued a press release headlined "Newly Obtained FBI Records Call Defense Department’s Methods "Torture," Express Concerns Over "Cover-Up" That May Leave FBI "Holding the Bag" for Abuses. Here are Records released in response to the ACLU's Freedom of Information Act requests for records on torture at Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq.

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La Shawn Barber Highlights The Blogosphere’s Smaller Stars

The National Political Observer congratulates La Shawn Barber on a well-written and informative aritcle on "The Blogosphere’s Smaller Stars." The article, dated December 20, 2004, was published by NRO online. It's subhead is "There’s a vast alternative to Dan Rather." Her blog is called La Shawn Barber's Corner. She's worth reading.

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December 18, 2004

Tom Watson Says He's Retiring From Blogging

On December 18, 2004, in a post headlined The Self-Hating Blogger, Tom Watson announced his "retirement as a blogger. This is my last blog post," he wrote. "Thanks for the memories. Blogging audiences are the greatest audiences in the world."

I hope he is not serious. I enjoy his posts and his ability to zero in on issues and do critical analysis with bite, without going overboard. I'll still check Tom Watson to see if he's changed his mind. By the way, this is a post about a blogger but The National Political Observer is not a blog about bloggers although we will continue to cite other bloggers from time-to-time.

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Will The Intelligence Reform Act Change Spy Agencies' Behavior?

Bush after signing terrorism Bill.jpg

On December 17, 2004, President George W. Bush, at podium, signed the The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. It creates the position of Director of National Intelligence. According to Mr. Bush:

"The Director will lead a unified intelligence community and will serve as the principle advisor to the President on intelligence matters. The DNI will have the authority to order the collection of new intelligence to ensure the sharing of information among agencies and to establish common standards for the intelligence community's personnel. It will be the DNI's responsibility to determine the annual budgets for all national intelligence agencies and offices and to direct how these funds are spent. These authorities vested in a single official who reports directly to me will make all our intelligence efforts better coordinated, more efficient, and more effective.
Mr. Bush also said "The Director of the CIA will report to the DNI. The CIA will retain its core of responsibilities for collecting human intelligence, analyzing intelligence from all sources, and supporting American interests abroad at the direction of the President. He added:
The new law will preserve the existing chain of command and leave all our intelligence agencies, organizations, and offices in their current departments. Our military commanders will continue to have quick access to the intelligence they need to achieve victory on the battlefield. And the law supports our efforts to ensure greater information sharing among federal departments and agencies, and also with appropriate state and local authorities
It remains to be seen whether a law can change the territorial imperative that is the hallmark of the nation's 15 intelligence services. I predict that turf battles will continue as usual, and that the DNI will have a hard time reigning in the various agencies. Click here for Mr. Bush's remarks on the Intelligence Reform Act. Photo courtesy of The White House.

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Bush Says Economic Plan Will Put More Money in Your Pocket

During his White House Conference on the econony, President George W. Bush said he likes "the idea of people being able to say, I'm in charge of my own health care." He added:

In other words, if I make a wise decision about how I live, I end up with more money in my pocket when it comes to a health care savings account. I particularly like the idea of a Social Security system that recognizes the importance and value of ownership.
Mr. Bush said "People who own something have a stake in the future of their country and they have a vital interest in the policies of their government. " Click here to read his December 16, 2004, statement on the Budget, Tax Relief and Social Security.

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Is Bush's Social Security Plan a Scam?

South Knox Bubba weighed in on the Social Security Debate on December 17, 2004. He said:

As I predicted on November 4th, Bush has Social Security in his crosshairs. This is all part of the GOP master plan to eliminate entitlement programs through privatization and cutting off their oxygen with tax cuts and deficits.

They're trying to get Wall Street on board with visions of brokerage fee sugar plums dancing in their heads. I'm no expert, but it also looks like they plan to prop up the stock markets with big Santa bags full of cash. With all this new money flowing in, there could be another boom like in the 90s.

South Knox Bubba said "Bush and the GOP want to artificially prop up the markets by tapping a previously off limits reservoir of cash and in the process they will put a lot of folk's retirement at risk."

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Yglesias' Suggestion For College Students

Matthew Yglesias, one of the brightest bloggers in the blogosphere, has another post on the important Social Security debate heating up in the United States. In a December 18, 2004, post, he said:

In case I still have college age readers out there, let me suggest that one very helpful thing students could do regarding the Social Security debate is try and place op-eds in your campus paper making clear that, contrary to widespread belief, there is no "crisis" that will cause the program to go bankrupt or otherwise become unable to pay benefits to members of our generation. Students are normally considered a reliable liberal constituency, but on this issue they are, in fact, the core of the conservative coalition.
Mr. Yglesias said "Any measures that undercut support for Social Security abolition among relatively upscale young people could have a devastating impact on the abolition campaign." Here's more of his analysis.

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The Destruction of Social Security Would Harm Black Communities

Maya Rockeymoore, PhD, contends that "A big hoax is about to be pulled on the American people in the name of Social Security reform if President Bush and the Republican Congress get their way and send Social Security money to Wall Street. If this happens all Americans will lose big but African Americans will likely receive the shortest end of the stick." Her interesting analyis can be read at The Black Commentator.

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Watching Black Advocacy is Like Watching Re-Runs

Anthony Asadullah Samad, in a provocative opinion published by the The Black Commentator, says "As African Americans continue to confront the vestiges of slavery and segregation, largely racial animus and economic subjugation (educational differences are a challenge that is partially self-inflicted), the community’s problems have outlived the advocacy born to address the problems, and most of the leaders that emerged to help remedy the problems.

God raises a new leader to deal with each generation’s issues. However, the advocacy no longer seems to work. Whether it’s protest, negotiation, boycott or voter revolt (the latter two of which we rarely, if ever, use), watching black advocacy is like watching re-runs of Sanford and Son; you know what’s about to come next – and what the line is going to be when Redd Foxx grabs his chest.
Mr. Samad said, "If we know what’s coming next, don’t think the people to whom the protest is directed haven’t seen the same re-runs. I have visions of racial discriminators, progress oppressors and equality obstructionists sitting around a television saying, “Okay, this is the part where they march in.” “Now, they’re about to holler and scream, and give long speeches, watch ‘em.” “Here is the part where they put the community mothers up to cry, sigh, ain’t it sad?” “Now this is the part where they march out singing ‘We Shall Overcome,’ then they’ll go home and be quiet until the next time we get caught violating them or their interests. But the response will be the same.” Click here to read Mr. Samad's article.

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Schwarzenegger: Republicans Should Move Slightly to the Left

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily in an interview that "the Republican Party [in the United States] currently covers only the spectrum from the right wing to the middle, and the Democratic Party covers the spectrum from the left to the middle," according to The Associated Press. He added:

"I would like the Republican Party to cross this line, move a little further left and place more weight on the center. This would immediately give the party 5 percent more votes without its losing anything elsewhere."
I wonder how long before conservative bloggers attack Mr. Schwarzenegger for daring to say the Republican Party should move slghtly to the left. Many use the word "left" and "liberal" as if the words were poison.

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The Stakeholder

I think Jesselee over at The Stakeholder, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee weblog, does a good job of providing interesting information and links. You don't have to be a Democrat or Republican --I'm neither--to appreciate it.

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Does Rumsfeld Need Supporters Like Frist and McConnell

The AP notes that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn) and Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), the GOP whip, "voiced support for Donald Rumsfeld" December 17, 2004, "as allies of the defense secretary sought to outflank increasingly vocal GOP critics in and out of Congress." Mr. Frist said in a written statement:

I am confident that Secretary Rumsfeld is fully capable of leading the Department of Defense and our military forces to victory in Iraq and the war on terror. Most importantly he has the confidence of his commanders in the field and our commander in chief.
Mr. McConnell, whose has been in the Senate since 1985 and Majority Whip since November 2002,said Mr. Rumsfeld "is an excellent secretary of defense, and we are fortunate to have a man of his courage and vision serving the president at this critical time."

Questions: If Mr. Frist and Mr. McConnell think Mr. Rumsfeld is doing such a good job, why did they wait so long to say it? Were they afraid that the Republicans that started attacking him after President George Bush was re-elected would come after them? If so, what made them change their minds?

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December 17, 2004

Mr. Dean's Return

Rick Edwards at POWERPUNDIT says "Howard Dean is back and rested. He's even acting mild and very polite. He's laid off the coffee and put his hyperactive scream in the closet. How far back in the closet is yet to be determined." Mr. Edward's analysis of The Return of Howard Dean is thought-provoking. I recommend it.

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Truespeak Sees 'Dissension In The Ranks'

Truespeak notes that, as George W. Bush continues to stand by his embattled Secretary of Defense, the rest of his party is getting the hellout of Dodge. A link to the post is here.

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Right Wing News:Weenie Republican Brigade Out to Get Rumsfeld

Right Wing News thinks "There's a concerted effort being made, mostly by the weenie Republican brigade in the Senate, to take out Donald Rumsfeld." I think Right Wing News is right. And they will get him, too.

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Are Republicans Turning on Rumsfeld?

Milwaukee's Brewtown Politico says "The momentum is growing within Republican ranks for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to be given the boot." Here's more.

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December 16, 2004

NRO Comes to Rumsfeld's Defense

The National Review Online stands up for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in a December 16, 2004, editorial. An excerpt:

The get-Rumsfeld crowd — mostly Democrats, joined by the McCain-Hagel caucus and a few stray hawks — takes great umbrage at Rumsfeld's answer to a National Guardsman's question about an insufficient number of up-armored Humvees. Hagel intoned, “those men and women deserved a far better answer from their secretary of Defense than a flippant comment.” But Rumsfeld wasn't being flip. One wonders whether Hagel has even taken the time to read the full transcript of the secretary's remarks. The troops gave Rumsfeld a standing ovation at the end. Is it the position of the secretary’s critics that the troops were too stupid to realize they had just been belittled?
NRO suggests that Senator John McCain and Senator Chuck Hagel's recent criticism of Mr. Rumsfeld was for political reasons. Here is a link to the editorial.

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Is There a 'Pattern of Discontent' Among U.S. Troops in Iraq?

Brad Knickerbocker of The Christian Science Monitor sees a pattern of discontent among U.S. troops in Iraq. He noted that "Griping among the troops is as old as armed conflict, illustrated most memorably by cartoonist Bill Mauldin's "Willie and Joe" characters during World War II. But something more than that is happening now in Iraq with what appears to be growing resistance from the troops." He added:

Evidence includes numbers of deserters (reportedly in the thousands), resignations of reserve officers, lawsuits by those whose duty period has been involuntarily extended, and a refusal to go on dangerous missions without proper equipment. There's also been a willingness at grunt level to publicly challenge the Pentagon - as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld found out recently in a trip to the war zone, where he got an earful about unarmored humvees
The National Political Observer wonders how long before Mr. Knickerbocker becomes a target of those who want only good news out of Iraq.

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Mr. Kerik's Business

Josh Marshall has some interesting Talking Points today on Bernard Kerik, the man President Bush wanted for Director of Homeland Security. The Kerik story will be around for awhile unless...

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What's On The 'Global Menu' Between 2005 and 2015?

Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International, has a piece in The Times on what he calls Coming geopolitical quakes. It's an attempt to let readers know what's on the global menu between 2005 and 2015.

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Yglesias and Sirota on the Democratic Leadership Council

David Sirota, described by The Nation as "the former top spokesman for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee," has an interesting article in The Nation headlined Debunking 'Centrism." It's about the Democratic Leadership Council's alleged claim that, according to Mr. Sirota, "progressive policies are hurting the Democratic Party."

Mr. Sirota's article caused Matthew Yglesias to respond with an article headlined Debunking "Debunking Centrism." He states in his lead:

It seems to me that David Sirota's latest attack on the DLC and other "centrists" is in need of a response. The problem here is not that the things he says are popular are not, in fact, popular. Rather, the problem is that he's gone off and created a straw man here, attacking the nefarious DLC for positions it doesn't hold.
Both writers are good, and present their arguments well. Mr. Yglesias' piece has generated many interesting comments. Hopefully, Mr. Sirota will respond to Mr. Yglesias' critique, preferrably on the latter's blog.

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This Soldier Really Didn't Want to Return to Iraq

This is desperation:The Associated Press reports that Philadelphia police say they have arrested Army Specialist Marquise J. Roberts, of Hinesville, Ga, for having his cousin shoot him so he wouldn't have to return to Iraq. I wouldn't be surprised if we hear of more soldiers deliberately injuring themselves to avoid returning to Iraq. Read the story here.

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December 15, 2004

Mystery Pollster Comments on Measurement Error in Vote Counts

Mark Blumenthal at Mystery Pollster has a post today headlined "Measurement the Count." in what he calls "A quick break from exit polls...," Mr. Blumenthal said:

Alert JW, a resident of Washington State, asks this interesting question highly relevant to the ongoing recount in that state's race for Governor:

Can a vote that is only "decided" by 42 votes out of 2,800,000 ever really be accurate? We're going into our 2nd recount, and I bet that the various totals given by each recount approximate the variation that exists in sampling polls if your sampling size was 2.8 million. Does anyone ever talk about this thing?

Mr. Blumenthal answered the question this way:
Actually, some have. When the presidential recount in Florida came down to a margin of a few hundred votes either way, Johns Hopkins University President William R. Brody penned a Washington Post OP-ED piece on this very point./blockquote>Mr. Blumenthal cites a long excerpt from the Brody piece and adds comments of his own. Read them here.

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Leiter on 'More Paranoid Fantasies on the Right...'

Brian Leiter has a post at Leiter Reports on what he calls "More Paranoid Fantasies on the Right...or Why Christopher Hitchens Needs to Drink Less."

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What Prompted This TransAtlantic Assembly Post?

The TransAtlantic Assembly, a "blog of American and European lawyers and academics on legal issues, current affairs, and whatever pops into" their "heads," asks in a December 15, 2004, post:"Are human rights groups like having "the one-legged kid at school" being your grade school soccer team star?"

The headline is followed by this

:"The infamous Glenn Reynolds (aka InstaPundit) has struck again. Is he InstaIgnorance (as Brian Leiter insists) or does he have a point? Here's a shortened version of a reaction to Reynolds' Fox News article on international law and whether international law is being harmed by obtuse rhetoric or is an all purpose tool of Anti-Americanism in 2002.Sadly, my correspondent wishes to remain anonymous. So for our purposes, we will call him Anonyman. To save space, some messages are combined.
This is followed by an exchange between Anonyman and Scott M. Sullivan, one of the contributors at The TransAtlantic Assembly. Interestingly, the dialogue is about a Reynolds article dated February 07, 2002, and headlined "Overselling International Law." I wonder what prompted commentary on this two year old article? Click this link to read the exchange between Mr. Sullivan and Anonyman.

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Is There a 'Baby Gap' Between Republicans and Democrats?

Steven Sailer, in an article in the December 20, 2004, issue of The American Conservative headlined "Baby Gap: How birthrates color the electoral map," contends that "voters are picking their parties based on differing approaches to the most fundamentally important human activity: having babies.

The white people in Republican-voting regions consistently have more children than the white people in Democratic-voting regions. The more kids whites have, the more pro-Bush they get.
"I’ll focus primarily on Caucasians, who overall voted for Bush 58-41, in part because they are doing most of the arguing over the meaning of the red-blue division," Mr. Sailer wrote. "The reasons blacks vote Democratic are obvious, and other racial blocs are smaller. Whites remain the 800-pound gorilla of ethnic electoral groups, accounting for over three out of every four votes."

What is the obvious reason that African-Americans vote Democratic? What about those that vote Republican, independent or split their vote in general elections? Do they count?

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Andrew Sullivan: Kristol Comes Through

Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish has worth-reading post called "KRISTOL COMES THROUGH." He wrote:

"Well, they said they'd voice their real criticisms once the election was over. And Bill Kristol comes through today with a stinging piece in the Washington Post on Rumsfeld. It reads at times like the arguments on this blog. The most effective argument is about Rumsfeld's absolute refusal to take responsibility for any of his own errors, and his instinct, when in trouble, to blame others. This is not straight-talking; it's buck-passing. And, of course, Kristol's points about insufficient manpower for the post-invasion period remains blindingly obvious - except, of course, to the people running this war. Check out this simple statistic from one of the official reports on Abu Ghraib: at one point, General Sanchez had only 495 of the 1400 staffers he needed. There were 92 military police guards for 7,000 prisoners in Abu Ghraib. The responsibility for the consequences of that under-manning lies with Rumsfeld and the president. It's a responsibility they still both refuse to take. And by reappointing Rumsfeld and anointing Bremer and Tenet, Bush has just told his critics to pull a Cheney.
Mr. Sullivan thinks "the stakes in Iraq are too great for this kind of petty intransigence. But that's the president we have," he added.

The ideological vetting that is likely to occur during President Bush's final four years in office should get interesting. Secretary of State Colin Powell was the first casualty. Based on Mr. Sullivan's observation, it looks as if Rumsfeld is next.

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Juan Cole Strikes Back

Porfessor Juan Cole over at Informed Comment notes that "My allegation that the IraqTheModel website is far outside the norm of Iraqi public opinion as measured by polling has caused a stir in the weblogging world among, apparently, dittoheads who can't read polls." Here is Mr. Cole's initial post.

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How Dangerous Is Depleted Uranium? Helen Thomas Wants to Know

Hearst Newspapers Columnist Helen Thomas wants to know: How Dangerous Is Depleted Uranium? "The Pentagon claims that American forces and Iraqis are not at risk from contact with depleted uranium, which is used in armor-piercing munitions and protective tank plating," she recently wrote, adding:

"That's baloney to some scientists who insist the widespread use of depleted uranium during the American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq poses a grave danger." I think its a valid question.

Ms. Thomas, a former United Press International White House Correspondent, recently was the subject of a scathing attack by Frank Salvato, managing editor of The Rant. His piece was headlined "Helen Thomas: The Vitriol of a Woman Scorned."

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Is the "U.S. Caught in Kabul?"

Is the "U.S. caught in Kabul?" Toronto Sun Columnist Eric Margolis thinks so. Click here to read why.

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Why Shouldn't Giuliani Use Kerik to Grab DHS Dollars?

Columnist Robert Scheer, "a Senior Lecturer at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication, where he teaches a course on media and society," asks in a December 14, 2004, Los Angeles Times article:

Why wouldn't [Former New York City mayor Rudy] Giuliani push his onetime chauffeur [Bernard Kerik] and now a senior vice president in his firm to be Homeland Security czar, overseeing 22 federal agencies with a combined budget of $37.7 billion? The war on terror is a mother lode to be mined by those who are connected. Come to think of it, Kerik shouldn't have been rejected by the Bushies. If they were honest, they would celebrate him as the prototypical GOP operator, playing the people for a profit.
Here is Link to Mr. Scheer's column.

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Josh Marshall: Bush's Social Security Argument Based on Lies

Joshua Micah Marshall at Talking Points Memo has posted a strongly opinionated commentary on the Bush Administration's Social Security plan. He writes:

As Paul Krugman, Kevin Drum and many others have been making clear in recent days, the entirety of the president's argument is based on a series of well-constructed lies. The president's advisors were never more truthful than they were when they compared the coming round of disinformation and fear-mongering to their public campaign in support of the Iraq war in 2002.
Mr. Marshall, one of the more influential and informed bloggers, also argus that,"The Social Security "crisis" is manufactured; there is no crisis." He adds:
To the extent there are long-term financing problems, the president's plan will gravely worsen them. The problem we face isn't over Social Security, which continues to run up huge surpluses (just as it was intended to under the early-80s reform), but that our non-Social Security budget continues to run massive structural deficits. Or rather, it has returned to running massive structural deficits after getting into the black in the late 1990s through the combined exertions of a Democratic president and a Republican congress. Social Security isn't the problem, but rather George W. Bush's reckless fiscal policy
Regardless of your position on the Social Security debate, or political persuasiaon, the Talking Points Memo post is worth reading. In fact, I read as many conservative and liberal views on this complex subject as time allows. Some I will note in The National Political Observer and some I won't. Here is more of the Talking Points Memo argument.

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December 14, 2004

A Saddam Hussein Trial Could Spell Trouble for the U.S.

Mark Leon Goldberg has an insightful post at the American Prospect that asks whether the United States really want to put former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on trial. He notes:

The day after the capture, December 14, 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority’s chief, Paul Bremer exclaimed, “We got him!” The phrase was reprinted in headlines throughout the world. But now that we got him, a surprising dilemma has surfaced: Do we want him convicted? On one charge, at least, doing so might have lasting repercussions for the United States down the road.
What is it that could cause the U.S. problems down the road? Read the answer here.

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Garvey's Ghost Comments on WSJ's Defense of the NAACP

Garvey's Ghost: Black Talk has an interesting post titled "The IRS, NAACP and short sightedness." It's a commentary on The Wall Street Opinion Journal article "discussing the Tax trouble that the NAACP faces due to a speech given by Julian Bond where he flat out discussed George Bush which seems to be in violation of the 501c3 tax-exempt status of said organization," according to the blog. The writer says:

My early warning system went up when I saw it was The Wall Street Journal that was attempting to defend the NAACP. It turns out, however that The Wall Street Journal isn't really backing the NAACP as much as it would like to defend other organizations (which it would have more agreements with) from having the same threat carried out against them.
Garvey's Ghost: Black Talk quotes WSJ as saying:
The NAACP is just one of 60 or so nonprofits now under investigation by the tax police. Our sources tell us that some of these outfits are conservative, and all fall under the 501(c)(3) section of the tax code, which prohibits them from endorsing candidates, making campaign donations or otherwise engaging in partisan conduct. Since the groups receive tax-deductible contributions, goes the reasoning, allowing them to engage in such activities would amount to an indirect subsidy from taxpayers.

One option is simply to tax the errant remarks. The seldom enforced 527(f) section of the code says that if a 501(c)(3) organization engages in campaign intervention, the amount that it expends on that activity is subject to tax at 35%. Why not tax the speech, thus eliminating the subsidy, and leave the status alone?

"Let's understand something here," the blogs says, "most "liberal" non-profit organizations cannot afford to lose their exempt status. On the other hand many "conservative" non-profits have many large corporate entities through which they can get their funds." I recommend this analysis. Read it here or click on the headline above.

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Michael J. Totten 'Fisking Juan Cole'

Michael J. Totten has also taken a shot at Professor Juan Cole of Informed Comment in a December 13, 2004, post headlined "Fisking Juan Cole." He said:

I hardly ever - ever - pick fights with other bloggers. But I'm not finished with Juan Cole yet. It's long past time to give the professor from Michigan a double-whammy shellacking. Yesterday he made up a conspiracy theory (all by himself, this time) about the Iraqi bloggers who write at Iraq the Model.
Mr. Totten wasn't mean-spirited in his criticism of Mr. Coles'observations about Iraq The Model in his December 12, 2004, post headlined"Manipulation of the Blogging World on Iraq?" He didn't come off like Joseph McCarthy going after Communist in the 1950s. It was a joy reading this analysis.

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Iraq The Model Comments on The Return of the Professor

Iraq The Model has an interesting post headlined "The return of the professor." It is a response to a commentary Professor Juan Cole at Informed Comment made December 12, 2004, about Iraq The Model and Baghdad Burning. Ali, one the Fadhils brothers behind Iraq The Model had this response to Mr. Cole's contrast, which was headlined "Manipulation of the Blogging World on Iraq":

As I was looking through the blogosphere to find out more news about my brothers (they've been sending mails, but I needed to know more) I stumbled upon this post by martinirepublic. The author post some questions directed to us about the visit. I posted a comment there and got an answer from one guy not the author on the same column (you should really read the comment section. Amazingly funny guys with brilliant analysis!)

Joseph's post was picked up by our celebrated professor Dr. Juan Cole who added some interesting analysis but didn't forget to repeat Joseph's whining about poor little Riverbend and how she's not getting the attention she deserves, unlike us who are overrated. This seems strange when you know that she is linked by much more blogs than ours and when one sees that our blog was awarded the best middle east/Africa blog while she came on the 5th place and I know some people would say that the guys on that site are on the right wing but I don't suppose they were preventing anyone from voting for her!.

I find it interesting how civil Ali sounds in his response to Mr. Cole compared to Jeff Jarvis' response. Most of the European bloggers I read are also quite civil. Rarely do I see name calling. Why?

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Jeff Jarvis, Juan Cole and Iraq The Model

Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine really tore into University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole on December 14, 2004, for daring to question the motives behind Iraq the Model, an Iraqi blog favored by some supporters of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. In a December 13, 2004, post on Informed Comment, Mr. Cole asked if there was manipulation of the blogging world on Iraq. He contrasted the approach of the Fadhils brothers' Iraq the Model and Riverbend, whose Baghdad Burning, opposes the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Mr. Jarvis, who views the Fadhils as "my freedom-loving friends from Iraq, called Mr. Cole "pond scum," adding:

Prof. Juan Cole libels my freedom-loving friends from Iraq.

The man is pond scum. I know no other way to say it. This guy Cole (supported by your tax dollars in Michigan) decides that if he disagrees with someone, he should imply that that someone must be backed by the CIA or other nefarious forces. Prof. Cole is too deaf, dumb, and blind to see the liberal irony in that; back in the day, when people disagreed with those on his side of the political spectrum, people on the other side implied that they must be backed by the Soviet Union, by Commies. It's an old trick, Prof. I'm ashamed of you for using it.

Ever since America engaged in Iraq, Cole has spent every day on his blog doing nothing but collecting bad news -- never good news. And people looking for bad news -- chicken liberals -- celebrate him for that. I'm a liberal but I don't celebrate Cole. I haven't bothered reading him for months, because he never had anything new to say.

But I had to read him today as he libeled my friends Omar and Mohammed from Iraq The Model

Mr. Jarvis calls Mr. Cole's views "spiteful idiocy," and a few other names. Most of the comments from his readers follow the same line. This is what has Mr. Jarvis in a snit.
Joseph Mailander of the Martini Republic weblog has an extremely important posting on Sunday about the dangers of "blog trolling." To "troll" in the world of the internet is to lurk on a discussion board and make deliberately false and inflammatory comments, to which all the other posters feel they must reply, so that it roils the list. There is also a connotation of dishonesty about the troll's real identity.

A related practice has been called by Josh Marshall "astroturfing," where a "grass roots" campaign turns out actually to be sponsored by a think tank or corporation. Astroturf is fake grass used in US football arenas. What Mailander is talking about is not really astroturfing, but rather the granting of some individuals a big megaphone.

The MR posting brings up questions about the Iraqi brothers who run the Iraq The Model site. It points out that the views of the brothers are celebrated in the right-leaning weblogging world of the US, even though opinion polling shows that their views are far out of the mainstream of Iraqi opinion. It notes that their choice of internet service provider, in Abilene, Texas, is rather suspicious, and wonders whether they are getting some extra support from certain quarters.

Contrast all this to the young woman computer systems analyst in Baghdad, Riverbend, who is in her views closer to the Iraqi opinion polls, especially with regard to Sunni Arabs, but who is not being feted in Washington, DC.

The National Political Observer commented on and linked to the column in question, on December 13, 2004. We also linked to Iraq The Model's comments on the attention some of its bloggers visiting the U.S. were getting. There was confusion about who they were, which necessitated a "correction" from Iraq The Model.

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Booker Rising: A News Site for Black Moderates and Conservatives

Booker Rising, a "news site for black moderates and black conservatives," offers great news and commentary. I read it to get information I don't usually find elsewhere.The National Political Observer highly recommends this blog.

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December 13, 2004

Newsweek: Kerik Enjoyed Night Raids With South African Mercenaries

Newsweek, in an article in its December 20, 2004, issue headlined A Tough Guy Tumbles, says Bernard Kerik's "somewhat cavalier attitude is best captured by his time in Iraq. After the invasion in the spring of 2003, Kerik was sent to Baghdad to organize the Iraqi police.

But Kerik didn't seem to show much interest in Iraqis, said a senior U.S. official who worked with him. He appeared to enjoy going on night raids against "bad guys" with some South African mercenaries who were serving as bodyguards to U.S. officials.
"On his screen saver," Newsweek added, "Kerik had a photo of a big house he had just bought in New Jersey that he said was across the street from former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms's. Kerik told his colleagues he planned to be in Baghdad for three months while the house was undergoing renovations. "So," the official says he told Kerik, "you're here because you needed a place to go while they're doing renovations on your house." Kerik grinned and cocked a finger as if to say, "You got it." A spokesman for Kerik said that story was "absurd" and that Kerik was a patriot."

The questions I raise from this excerpt is: Why were South African mercenaries serving as bodyguards to U.S. occupation officials in Baghdad? Aren't there enough home-grown mercenaries? Just asking?

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Michael Moore: 'It's Time to Stop Being Hit'

Michael Moore says "The days of trying to move the Democratic Party to the right are over.

We lost a very close election (a one-state difference) by running the #1 liberal in the Senate. Not bad. The country is shifting in our direction, not to the right. But the country was attacked and people were scared. They were manipulated with fear. And America has never thrown a sitting president out during wartime. That’s the facts. Oh, and our candidate could have run a better campaign (but we’ll have that discussion another day).
Despite constant attacks, Mr. Moore is not afraid to speak his mind. In his latest post, he takes on what he calls "abusive" Republicans and corporate Democrats. I think "It's Time to Stop Being Hit...a letter from Michael Moore"is worth reading.

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Kerik Gets a Brief Reprieve

Rober Cox at The National Debate says "If Bernard Kerik thought withdrawing as Bush's nominee for Homeland Security late on Friday would minimize attention, he thought wrong. Yet just as the coverage heated up with a slew of new allegations, the Petersen jury announced it had reached a decision in sentencing Scott Petersen and cable news spotlight swiveled out to Redwood City." Mr. Cox's observervation shows that you can always count on the next "big story" to push the previous one out of the spotlight. However, I think it's only temporary in Mr. Kerik's case. Here is why.

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PatioPundit Wants to Know: What Happened to Mark Steyn?

PatioPundit asked in December 13, 2004, post: "Does anyone know what happened to Mark Steyn?" Good question. I haven't seen him lately in the Chicago Sun-Times. Not that it matters, he's too rightwing for me. When it comes to conservative columnists, give me George Will, Robert Novak, Pat Buchanan and Justin Raimondo.

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Six Soldiers Court-Martialed for Scrounging Equipment

Is this pay back? Is the Army brass sending a message? I don't know but I find it interesting that, according to John McCarthy of The Associated Press:

At a time when some U.S. troops in Iraq are complaining they have to scrounge for equipment, six Ohio-based reservists [from the 656th Transportation Company based in Springfield, Ohio] were court-martialed for taking Army vehicles abandoned in Kuwait by other units so they could carry out their own unit's mission to Iraq.
According the the AP, "The soldiers say they needed the vehicles, and parts stripped from one, to deliver fuel to Iraq, but their former battalion commander said Sunday the troops should at least have returned the vehicles to their original units. Members of unit said "they needed the equipment to deliver fuel that was needed by U.S. forces in Iraq for everything from helicopters to tanks," the AP added.

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Riverbend Comments on Iraq Gas Shortages, the Elections and Borders

In addition to writing at length about gasoline shortages in Iraq, Riverbend, the Baghdad Burning blogger, also comments on the scheduled January 30, 2005, elections in a December 12, 2004, post. She wrote:

People are wondering how America and gang (i.e. Iyad Allawi, etc.) are going to implement democracy in all of this chaos when they can't seem to get the gasoline flowing in a country that virtually swims in oil. There's a rumor that this gasoline crisis has been concocted on purpose in order to keep a minimum of cars on the streets. Others claim that this whole situation is a form of collective punishment because things are really out of control in so many areas in Baghdad- especially the suburbs. The third theory is that this being done purposely so that the Iraq government can amazingly bring the electricity, gasoline, kerosene and cooking gas back in January before the elections and make themselves look like heroes.

Riverbend, whose blog is 83 on Technorati's list of Top 100 most read blogs, also said

We're also watching the election lists closely. Most people I've talked to aren't going to go to elections. It's simply too dangerous and there's a sense that nothing is going to be achieved anyway. The lists are more or less composed of people affiliated with the very same political parties whose leaders rode in on American tanks. Then you have a handful of tribal sheikhs. Yes-tribal sheikhs. Our country is going to be led by members of religious parties and tribal sheikhs- can anyone say Afghanistan? What's even more irritating is that election lists have to be checked and confirmed by none other than Sistani!! Sistani- the Iranian religious cleric. So basically, this war helped us make a transition from a secular country being run by a dictator to a chaotic country being run by a group of religious clerics. Now, can anyone say 'theocracy in sheeps clothing'?
Riverbend also comments on Iraq's borders. I highly recommend her posts, which are in sharp contrast to Iraq the Model, which also should be read for a sense of the various political currents in Iraq.

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Iraq the Model Makes 'Some Corrections'

Iraq the Model, in a post headlined "Some correction," told its readers on December 11, 2004, that "Some blogs were reporting about my brothers' visit to the states and I was waiting for them to give us an update but it seems that they have been too busy to do that. And out of respect to our readers I thought I should post something especially that there has been some confusion about the trip.

First, some blogs referred to my brothers as "Mohammed and Omar Ali" which was confusing to others and even some of our readers and I wasn't surprised that Andrew Sullivan thought he was supposed to meet Omar and Ali (I still hope we could meet some day Mr. Sullivan). Only our dear friend Arthur Chrenkoff corrected this in Power Line blog (Thank you Arthur). We were always known as the Fadhils brothers and I don't know who made this confusing change and why, but I have an idea about it.
The poster added: "We were all invited in the beginning and I was very excited to meet our friends that we met through this blog, and I wanted to be able to say "Thank you America" in America, but I decided few days before the trip not to go (for reasons that I'll discuss in the future, probably). However, my invitation was cancelled even before I tell the people who set up the trip about my decision. So I asked Mohammed and Omar to go ahead, as I thought it might be good for our project "Friends of Democracy" and Iraq."

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Is There Manipulation of the 'Blogging World' on Iraq?

Professor Juan Cole over at Informed Comment posted a commentary on December 12, 2004 that asked is there Manipulation of the Blogging World on Iraq? He noted that:

Joseph Mailander of the Martini Republic weblog has an extremely important posting on Sunday about the dangers of "blog trolling." To "troll" in the world of the internet is to lurk on a discussion board and make deliberately false and inflammatory comments, to which all the other posters feel they must reply, so that it roils the list. There is also a connotation of dishonesty about the troll's real identity.

A related practice has been called by Josh Marshall "astroturfing," where a "grass roots" campaign turns out actually to be sponsored by a think tank or corporation. Astroturf is fake grass used in US football arenas. What Mailander is talking about is not really astroturfing, but rather the granting of some individuals a big megaphone.

Professor Cole said, "The MR posting brings up questions about the Iraqi brothers who run the IraqTheModel site.
It points out that the views of the brothers are celebrated in the right-leaning weblogging world of the US, even though opinion polling shows that their views are far out of the mainstream of Iraqi opinion. It notes that their choice of internet service provider, in Abilene, Texas, is rather suspicious, and wonders whether they are getting some extra support from certain quarters.

Contrast all this to the young woman computer systems analyst in Baghdad, Riverbend, who is in her views closer to the Iraqi opinion polls, especially with regard to Sunni Arabs, but who is not being feted in Washington, DC.

When I read about the brothers visit to the U.S. and the White House in a December 11, 2004 post by Jeff Jarvis at Buzz Machine headlined "The bloggers in the Oval Office," I wondered if they were part of a disinformation campaign. I have no proof that they are bloggers on the payroll of the CIA, or any other intelligence service. It was just a thought.

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All Bloggers Out

Jerome Armstrong at MyDD.Com tried to cover the Democratic National Committee meeting in Orlando Florida held December 10-12, 2004, to hear candidates that want to succeed DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe. The conclusion I drew from his reporting is that, Bloggers were not particularly welcome at the three-day event. For example, he wrote: "There's something wrong when the chairs and executive directors go on and on with their praise toward the internet that's brought millions into the coffers of the DNC, and then turns around and kicks Joe Trippi and his band of bloggers out of the meeting room when the "closed" (edit: closed to the press, but open to the public) Q & A with the DNC Chair candidates occurs." He adds:

You could have walked right in off the street and into the candidate Hall unencumbered, but if you happened to be a blogger, or the guy who brought the strategy of embracing the small donor activist on the net for the Democratic Party, and he's got a blog, out you go.
Mr. Armstrong's well-written report elicited strong and interesting commentary from his readers. If their comments are indicative of the average Democrat acoss the nation, the traditional party leaders are in trouble. From what I've seen since the 2000 presidential election, they should be. Here is Mr. Armstrong's report.

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Is Harry Reid Trying to Make a Name By Attacking Justice Thomas?

Columnist Armstrong Williams, in a December 13, 2004, column at Town Hall.Com headlined Senator Reid only betrays his ignorance, argues that,

"Incoming Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid disparaged Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, calling him “an embarrassment to the Supreme Court” during a recent appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." The remarks came amid speculation that Justice Thomas might be promoted to the nation’s highest judicial position.
Mr. Williams said, "Tellingly, Reid’s critique was short on details. No mention was made of any actual decisions by Justice Thomas," he said. "In all likelihood, Reid has never even read an opinion by Justice Thomas. So let’s call this what it is: a desperate attention grab by a neophyte politician who is trying to fatten himself on an easy target." Is that so?

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December 12, 2004

A Black Church Marches in Atlanta Against Gay Marriage

Patricia Newman has a post at, datelined Atlanta, that says "An anti-gay marriage march here that was led by a black mega church and began at The King Center this weekend attracted thousands of supporters, but was denounced by black critics as a blow to the spirit of equality promoted by Martin Luther King Jr." I expect more such marches to take place if the effort to force heterosexuals to accept homosexual marriage continues.

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The Social Security Debate

Allan W. Smith, who "has a Ph.D. in economics from Indiana University, Bloomington, and has taught economics at the university level for 30 years," according to PR Newswire, argues in Dissident Voice that:

The Bush administration is gearing up to pull off one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated against the American people. Under the guise of a plan to save Social Security, Karl Rove and company are pushing a scam to destroy Social Security, as we now know it. Although there are multiple motives behind the attack on Social Security, the prime motive appears to be an effort to cover up the theft of $1.5 trillion of Social Security money by the federal government over the past two decades, more than one-third of which has occurred under George W. Bush.
Mr. Smith would fit the category of analysts that New York Times Columnist David Brooks castigated in a December 11, 2004 column titled Real Reform for Social Security. He said:
The people setting the tone for the opposition to the Bush Social Security effort depict the financial markets as huge, organized scams where the rich prey upon the weak. Their phrases are already familiar: a risky scheme, Enron accounting, a gift to the securities industry, greedy speculators preying upon Grandma's pension.
Mr. Brooks would prefer that everyone accept his view that the debate is "about the market. People who instinctively trust the markets support the Bush reform ideas, and people who are suspicious oppose them," he claims in an argument that has generated considerable commentary in the Blogosphere.

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Retired Army Colonel, 70, Sent to Afghanistan

When I read a Gannett News Service article in The Marion (Ohio) Star about Dr. John Caulfield,70, being called to active duty, I thought it was a joke. But it's no joke. According to reporter P. Norman Moody, Dr. Caulfied "thought it had to be a mistake when the Army asked him to return to active duty. After all, he's 70 years old and had already retired - twice. He left the Army in 1980 and private practice two years ago."

"My first reaction was disbelief," Mr. Moody quotes Dr. Caulfield as saying. "It never occurred to me that they would call a 70-year-old." He is now in Afghanistan. I wonder how many retired veterans will be called up? The rest of the story is here.

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The Wall Street Journal's Farnaz Fassihi is Back in Iraq

Antonia Zerbisias of the Toronto Star, in an article headlined U.S. media still hiding bad news from Americans, reports that:

"Farnaz Fassihi, the Wall Street Journal reporter whose harrowing private e-mail to friends describing the hazards of Baghdad made international news, is back on the war beat after what many suspected was a month-long suspension. She returns despite vicious criticism from the right that she is too "biased" to work there — just because she felt it was a deadly situation.

But then, what would she know? She's just there, in very real danger of getting killed. Stateside, she's threatened with being shot down, along with other reporters, just for telling the truth.

Mr.Zerbisias article is about Americans that want only good news about the U.S. occupation of Iraq, when, according to some reporters, there isn't much good news. I take the position that reporters in Iraq, rather than armchair commentators in the U.S., should know whether the news is good or bad. I seem to recall a similar debate during the Vietnam War,when Neal Sheehan, David Halberstam and other correspondents began to report that the war wasn't working, which was contrary to the rosy reports we were getting before they decided to no longer accept the military press handlers' version of how the war was progressing.

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Insurgency in the Democrat's Ranks

Matthew Yglesias notes that, Ed Kilgore at New Donkey.Com "offers something of a peace pipe to the netroots, but wonders if the 'Dean/MoveOn insurgents understand that the Washington status quo includes the leaders of many of the Democratic interest-and-constituency groups they think of as the party's base.'" He adds:

It's a good point. One of the downsides of being an outsidery movement and a bottum-uppish movement is that you tend to lack the specific, detailed knowledge of what's what and who's who that a more hierarchical, establishment organization would have. I regularly see, for example, comments, blog posts, or emails that seem to betray a good degree of confusion about what the different components of the alphabet soup of Beltway party organs are, what they do, and they relate to one another. On the other hand, in my experience the leading lights of the insurgency (if not always all of their followers) do grasp Ed's point.
The National Political Observer wonders whether the Democratic National Committee, who is seeking a leader outside of the Washington, D.C. power corridor, has taken this into consideration. Do they want someone unfamiliar with the power centers in Washington to guide them in their battle with the Republicans for control of the country? Will they rely on D.C.-based staff to guide them? There is something to be said about experience vs. enthusiasm. However, enthusiasm can bring new life to an organization. Perhaps the better course is to combine the best of the old and the best of the new. Anyway, it will interesting to see how the professional Democrats handle the insurgents in their ranks, led by Howard Dean and Here is the Dean/MoveOn group's position.

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The Washington Post Tells Its Readers 'How To Start a Winning Blog'

The December 12, 2004, issue of The Washington Post has an informative article on How To Start a Winning Blog. Among its suggestions are: (1) Pick a good name for your blog (2) Write what you are passionate about(3) Post often, and well (4) Proliferate your opinion; and (5) Promote thyself."

Among the blogs mentioned were Jennifer Book's The Real World: DC; Rebecca Blood's Rebecca's Pocket; Bill Ardolino's InDCJournal. These bloggers were quoted along with Blogger specialist Biz Stone of Google.

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December 11, 2004

Rumsfeld and the Question Heard Around the World

The Defense Department media managers responsible for spinning news coverage of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's December 8, 2004 town hall meeting with soldiers at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, blew it. They decided that journalists could not ask Mr. Rumsfeld questions. They did not say that journalists could not give soldiers questions to ask Mr. Rumsfeld.

So that's what Edward Lee Pitts of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press did. He got Specialist Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team of the Tennessee National Guard to ask the most devastating question put to Mr. Rumsfeld that day. He used ingenuity in a war where the Pentagon has used journalists as propagandist, and many journalists have gladly allowed themselves to be used. Here is how the exchange went, according to the Defense Department:

Q: Yes, Mr. Secretary. Our soldiers have been fighting in Iraq for coming up on three years. A lot of us are getting ready to move north relatively soon. Our vehicles are not armored. We're digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that's already been shot up, dropped, busted, picking the best out of this scrap to put on our vehicles to take into combat. We do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I talked to the General coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they're not needed, to a place here where they are needed. I'm told that they are being — the Army is — I think it's something like 400 a month are being done. And it's essentially a matter of physics. It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it.

As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time. Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate that they believe — it's a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously, but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment.

I think if they had let Mr. Pitts ask the question, it would not have had the impact that it did coming from Mr. Wilson. Also, it probably wouldn't have received cheers from the soldiers gathered to hear Mr. Rumsfeld in what he apparently thought would be a pep talk, followed by softball questions. The fact that a solider asked the question has made it the talk of the world.

If Mr. Rumsfeld is embarassed by the questions, tough luck. It doesn't matter that his supporters, think the soldiers, who ought to be brought home instead of deployed to Iraq, were wrong for putting their boss on the spot. But since they are about to be deployed to Iraq, give them the means to protect themselves. Thanks to Mr. Pitts and Mr. Wilson, the troops will get the armor they need. At least the military and President George W. Bush say they will. As one who has a sister and a niece waiting to see if they will be sent to Iraq, I don't think that's asking too much.

Finally, as expected, Mr. Pitts has been criticized for his role. Some observers say he should have revealed in his article that he collaborated with soldiers on the devastating questions put to Mr. Rumsfeld. They are probably right. But while he did not reveal the collaboration in the article he wrote on the incident, he did tell a fellow reporter in an e-mail that ended up on Romenesko's blog.

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'Reporting and Creating the News'

Blogger Michael Williams has an interesting perspective on a Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Edward Lee Pitts collaborating with soldiers on questions to ask Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during his December 8, 2004 town hall meeting at Camp Buehring in Kuwait. On December 9, 2004, he wrote in Michael Williams--Master of None:

I really don't see all the fuss about Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Edward Lee Pitts planting questions for soldiers to ask Donald Rumsfeld. I mean, yes, it violated the general essence of "reporting news" and crossed the line into "creating news", but that's hardly novel. As bloggers are so fond of pointing out, journalists aren't a magical breed of wall-flowers, they're just regular people who write stuff down..)

Mr. Williams said, "The only problem I have is that Mr. Pitts didn't reveal his involvement when he wrote the story, which was rather misleading. He was a major player; he should have made sure his readers knew about the set-up, just like whenever reporters run sting operations," he opined. "Was he trying to damage Mr. Rumsfeld? Maybe. But is the lack of armor appalling? Yeah, they've had a long time to get the armor there, and the problem needs to be solved. It's damaging because it's true. (Assuming my assessment of the armor usefulness is correct, of course, but it's not as if the Army is saying they don't want or need it."

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Blogging in Greensboro, N.C.

Edward Cone of the Greensboro, North Carolina News & Record says "A new kind of alternative press is emerging in Greensboro.

The writers are local people who publish at their own Web sites. As individuals, these bloggers offer reporting and commentary that is useful, provocative and addictive. Collectively, they are building what could become the most important information channel to hit town since television arrived just after World War II.
Mr. Cone said, "It all starts with your neighbors, dozens of whom are now publishing the online journals called weblogs. They write what they know and what they see and what they would like to see." Many mainstream journalists don't like this form of citizen-journalism. I say: So what? There's nothing they can do to stop it.

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Newsweek Takes a Look at 'The Alpha Bloggers'

Steve Levy of Newsweek has written an interesting article on "The Alpha Bloggers" and invites the magazine's readers to "Meet the highly evolved community of 'A-listers' with growing influence over the tech agenda. They show how radically power can shift in the age of the Internet," he opines. It's worth reading.

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Republican Talk Radio's 'Bait and Switch'

Carl Luna, described by SignonSanDiego.Com as "a professor of Political Science at San Diego Mesa College and a lecturer on politics and international political economy at the University of San Diego, contends that:

The Republican Talk Radio Machine seemed caught off guard by the ferocity of the questioning [Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld received in Kuwait City, especially the ballistic question from Spc. Thomas Wilson, a scout with a Tennessee National Guard unit, over the lack of adequate armor for guardsmen vehicles being deployed north into Iraq.
Mr. Luna said "Limbaugh was mum when the story broke, and most of the rest said scarcely a word in the face of news reports that belayed their continuing assertions from their broadcast bully pulpits that all is well in Iraq but for the slanted reporting of a treacherous American liberal press. Come the next day, however, they had their talking points in line." Here is the rest of the column. It's thought-provoking

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What Impact Will Kerik's 'Embarassing Nomination' Have on Giuliani?

Glenn Thrush of Newsday wrote on December 11, 2004, that "The short, embarrassing nomination of Bernard Kerik ended with a whimper and so, too, has Rudolph Giuliani's Teflon period -- a three-year stretch when his status as "America's Mayor" largely obscured his own shortcomings and the foibles of close associates." Here is the rest of Mr. Thrush's analysis. It's an interesting attempt to put the Kerik withdrawal into a broader political context.

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From 'Confederate Boulevard' to 'Springer Boulevard'

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Columnist Paul Grenberg said "It seems that a month before the Clinton presidential library and shrine was formally opened here (in Little Rock), Little Rock's mayor - Jim Dailey - asked the state highway department to change some signs on the highway" leading from the airport to downtown. Mr. Greenberg added:

He wanted, and got, Confederate Boulevard changed to Springer Boulevard.That way, our more politically correct guests won't be embarrassed by the reference to what the genteel in these latitudes refer to as the Late Unpleasantness.
The columnist said, "With luck, the geographically challenged among them might even assume Arkansas was somewhere in the Midwest." So many midwesterners have flocked to Arkansas in recent years that one could forgive them for such thinking.

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CIA Officer Alleges Retaliation For Refusal to Falsify Intelligence on Iraq

Dana Priest of The Washington Post reported December 9, 2004 that "A senior CIA operative who handled sensitive informants in Iraq asserts that CIA managers asked him to falsify his reporting on weapons of mass destruction and retaliated against him after he refused."

The post said , "The operative, who remains under cover, asserts in a lawsuit made public yesterday that a co-worker warned him in 2001 "that CIA management planned to 'get him' for his role in reporting intelligence contrary to official CIA dogma." Read "Officer Alleges CIA Retaliation" for more details. I wonder how many CIA agents have a similar story to tell.

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Bill Moyers: I'm Going Out Telling the Biggest Story of Our Time

Veteran Journalist Bill Moyers will host the last espisode of Now, his weekly PBS newsmagazine," on December 17, 2004, according to the The Associated Press. The wire service quotes Mr. Moyers as saying:

"I'm going out telling the story that I think is the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee. We have an ideological press that's interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that's interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don't have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people.
The AP said Mr. Moyers "does have one immediate project: a book he will write about his years with [President Lyndon B.] Johnson. But he has no TV ventures in mind." Read "Citizen-journalist Moyers signs off" for more details.

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I agree With You, Mr. Marshall, There is More to the Kerik Story

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo is "very curious to hear the follow-on reporting about what really happened," to cause Bernard Kerik to withdraw his name as President George W. Bush's nominee for director of the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Marshall asked:

What was the problem that did him in? When did the White House send the message? How did they do it?
The National Political Observer also thinks there is more to the story. See my post below.

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'White: Whiteness and Race in Contemporary Art'

On December 10, 2004, Maurice Berger, curator of "White: Whiteness and Race in Contemporary Art, was quoted by Associated Press Writer Deepti Hajela as saying:

"It's assumed on the part of many white Americans that it's the job of people of color to deal with the issue of racism," said ," which opened Friday at the International Center of Photography.

"What I'm arguing is that since white people are part of the structure of race and racism ... that white people and whiteness itself must come into the dialogue fully, openly, in order for us to have hope that certain kinds of prevailing attitudes and ideas are going to change."

I agree. The sensistive subject of race in the United States generally is about people of color's reaction to Caucasian power and influence instead of Caucasians' attitudes about race. What do you think?

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Rumsfeld's 'Master of War' Attitude

Tom Watson, a blogger I predict will one day be among the elite bloggers because of his ability to critically analyze issues with bite, without going too far, has one of the best takes I've read on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's response to Army Specialist Thomas Wilson's internationally reported question about lack of safety equpment for troops preparing to enter Iraq. He reminds readers:

Make no mistake, if you voted for President Bush, you voted for Donald Rumsfeld, and you upheld the Administration's view on the wisest course in the war against terrorist organizations around the world. You also voted for an attitude about our military services, about our frontline troops, about those from our midst who go overseas to fight and bleed and die. It's a video game attitude, a masters of war attitude, a chess piece mentality. And that attitude had its most naked bearing in Rumsfeld's off-handed and regal response to this question from Army Specialist Thomas Wilson:

“Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?”

Mr. Watson noted that, "The Defense Secretary -who did not hold the "town hall" meeting in Iraq but in neighboring Kuwait because of the deteriorating security conditions in-country - hesitated and glared like he was looking at a pesky AP reporter at the Pentagon daily briefing. Then he brushed off the concern of Specialist Wilson thusly:
“You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have.”

I agree with Mr. Watson that, Mr. Wilson is a brave soldier. If my sister and niece end up in Iraq--there is a possibility that my niece will--I hope they have the courage to speak out, if they are not provided with equipment that could minimize the danger they would likely face. Read more of Tom Watson here.

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Is a Nanny Problem Kerik's Only Reason for Withdrawing From DHS Post?

Is an embarrassing "nanny problem" the only reason tough guy Bernard Kerik, New York City's former top cop, withdrew his name as President George W. Bush's homeland security secretary? I don't know. But I suspect there is more to it than that. We will soon know what it is. Maybe it's getting rich from a company that does business with the Department of Homeland Security. Or this. This is not a favorable picture, either.

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December 10, 2004

Wellington Webb Wants to Succeed Terry McAuliffe

Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb is one of the Democrats vying to succeed outgoing Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, according to Denver Post Staff Writer Susan Greene. She reported that Mr. Webb visited Washington, D.C., on December 8, 2004,"lobbying congressional leaders in his quest."

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Thomas Wilson's Question to Mr. Rumsfeld

Seattle Post-Intelligencer blogger Brian Chin's "weblog surveys the Web to spot what people are talking about," according to Seattle PI. One of things his readers are talking about is the pointed question Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, of Nashville, asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on December 9, 2004, during Mr. Rumsfeld's visit to Camp Buerhling in Kuwait:

"Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?"
As expected, Mr. Chin's readers'views are varied. Read them here. The National Political Observer wants to know what you think about the question.

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The Army Soliders Have is Not the One They Were Promised

Progressive Trail.Org asks in a December 10, 2004, post:

How many Americans would have signed up for Bush’s military if they knew at the time they’d be trapped in rotating tours of the Iraqi hell-hole? Probably not many.
Progressive Trails contends that, "In Kuwait yesterday [December 9, 2004] at Camp Buehring, [Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld basically told a gathering of soldiers and Marines tough luck, you’re in the army now.
You go to war with the Army you have,” he told them, “not the Army you might want or wish to have.”
"In other words," Progressive Trails said, "the Army the soldiers “have” is not the same Army they were promised when they signed up. But then that’s what happens when you turn yourself over to the government—you become a slave drone and bullet-stopper for the Strausscon version of World War IV." Read the entire article here.

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December 9, 2004

What is the 'Dangerous' Spy Program Senator Rockefeller Opposes?

What is the "dangerous" spy program that Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) complained about on December 8, 2004, and called "totally unjustified and very, very wasteful and dangerous to the national security"? The program's funding is reportedly included in what Ted Bridis of The Associated Press calls "Congress' new blueprint for U.S. intelligence spending."

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Kevin Drum's Questions for Conservative Bloggers

"Political Animal" Kevin Drum of The Washington Monthly is "sure that conservative bloggers are feeling pretty smug about the Beinart-Drum-Atrios-Yglesias tiff regarding liberals and national security." In a December 6 post, he asked "for a moment" of their time before they "bust a collective gut" over the tiff, and suggested that conservative bloggers could all stand to have a brutally honest conversation about a few things. "Just to get you started," he said, "here are a few questions — numbered for easy reference." I'm waiting to see who responds.

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UPI: Iraq War Veterans Beginning to Show Up at Homeless Shelters

United Press International reported December 7, 2004, that "U.S. veterans from the war in Iraq are beginning to show up at homeless shelters around the country, and advocates fear they are the leading edge of a new generation of homeless vets not seen since the Vietnam era." If this is true, it's shameful. Read the UPI article here.

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A U.S. Army Chaplain in Iraq Plans to Resign: Why?

Anthony Loyd of The Times of London, writing from Ramadi, Iraq, reports that, "A U.S. Army chaplain who left the rebellious western Iraqi city at the weekend is resigning his commission and reconsidering his vocation. The core of his belief was overwhelmed by the loss of so many men, the suffering of the wounded and the all-pervasive violence," Mr. Loyd wrote. Here's more on U.S. chaplains in Iraq.

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Give Thomas Wilson a Medal

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Editorial Board said in a December 9, 2004 editorial that:

"There ought to be a medal to reward the courage demonstrated yesterday by Army Spc. Thomas Wilson, one of the Tennessee Army National Guard citizen soldiers who make up most of the 278th Regimental Combat Team preparing to leave Kuwait for action in Iraq. To the cheers of his comrades, Wilson asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?"
The paper said "Rumsfeld, whose cold-iron scowl can wilt uppity members of Congress, asked Wilson to repeat the question.

"We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry us north," Wilson insisted.

"Rumsfeld's flinty response: "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time." In other words, quit your bellyaching." I predict that there will be more bellyaching and rebellion from soldiers before the war is over.

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December 8, 2004

At Least 19 Journalists Under Legal Siege For Not Revealing Sources

Besides Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York Times and Matthew Cooper, reporter for Time magazine, "more than a dozen other journalists around the nation are under an unprecedented legal siege, battling the efforts of prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys to acquire information about their confidential sources," according to Elizabeth Fernandez of the San Francisco Chronicle. Click here to read Hernandez's article

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Who is Tim Pawlenty?

Dave over at Political Prognostications has "a growing suspicion that the Republican nominee in 2008 will come either in the form of Rudy Giuliani or John McCain. But that doesn't mean that a dark horse candidate isn't lurking in the heartland, quietly readying his arsenal to take the 2008 primaries by storm," he wrote on December 7, 2004. "The most likely dark horse: a little-known governor from the northern midwest named Tim Pawlenty." The National Political Observer thinks it will take four years just for the Minnesota governor to make himself nationally known.

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Howard Dean: We Are Not a Nation of Red and Blue States

Former Presidential Candidate Howard Dean, who wants to be head of the Democratic National Committee, spoke at George Washington University on December 8, 2004, according to Blog for America. Karen Gasper, an organizer at DC for Democracy, wrote about it.

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Media Law Developments

Robert J. Ambrog, a lawyer and a journalist based in Rockport, Mass, keeps up with media law developments at Media Law: A Blog About Freedom of the Press. A media law news round-up was posted today.

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Do Journalists Need a Better Shield?

Do Journalists Need a Better Shield? That's the question Paul McMasters, columnist and First Amendment Ombudsman at the First Amendment Center, and Geoffrey R. Stone, Harry Kalven, Jr. Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago, have debated this week at the Legal Affairs Debate Club blog. I found their discussion interesting.

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Planting Explosives in the Suitcases of Unsuspecting Passengers

Jocely Gecker of The Associated Press reports that,"Four days after police at Charles de Gaulle Airport slipped some plastic explosives into a random passenger's bag as part of an exercise for sniffer dogs, it is still missing -- and authorities are stumped and embarrassed." According to the AP,"Police have sought to minimize public concern by insisting there's nothing to worry about: the explosives had no detonator and are unlikely to pose a danger."

That's beside the point. I can imagine the trouble awaiting some unsuspecting passenger entering an airport somewhere in the world with explosives planted on him or her by policemen, or intelligence agents. Who is going to believe that passenger if he or she says: "The French police planted it on me?"
During the 1970s and 1980s, when I was a staff writer and later foreign affairs editor for a newspaper in Chicago, I often wondered whether some of the bombings of airplanes and various facilities around the world weren't carried out by intelligence services. I still do. The French have simply reinforced the notion.

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Paper: Florida's Constitution Needs Protection

The News-Press of Florida contends that "Florida's Constitution should serve only very basic purposes.

Chiefly, it should set out the structure, powers and processes of government and define the rights of individual citizens and the general public. But citizen initiatives and resulting referendums have turned the constitution into a vehicle for all sorts of laws that don't belong there.

The paper added:"That's why we wish success to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden, in his efforts to streamline the constitution and make it harder to amend it through citizen initiative." Click here to read the entire editorial.

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Is Sudan Divestiture Movement a Knee-jerk Reaction?

The Decatur (Alabama) Daily thinks "activists seeking to pressure the Retirement Systems of Alabama to halt investments in Sudan should avoid a knee-jerk reaction that harms those they intend to protect." Read why. By the way, this same argument was used by those that opposed the successful campaign against Apartheid in South Africa.

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Senator Pryor Forced Off Armed Services Committee

Senator Mark Pryor, D-Ark., has been "forced off the committee that handles military issues as Senate Democrats reshuffled their assignments for the new Congress," according to Alison Vekshin of the Little Rock-based Stephens Media Group's Washington Bureau.

"The first-term senator lost his seat on the Armed Services Committee, from where he had worked on bills affecting the Pine Bluff Arsenal, the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith and other Arkansas military installations," according to Ms. Vekshin.

"That's an involuntary departure on my part," Pryor told the reporter. "I hate to lose it. It's just the way the numbers worked this year."

Mr. Pryor "was reassigned to the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and the Select Committee on Ethics." He "also kept his seats on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship committees," according to the Stephens Media Group report.

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'Democrats Face Problems So Basic and Vexing'

Arkansas News Bureau Columnist John Brummett says "Democrats face problems so basic and vexing as to seem almost insurmountable.

If they stay to the left to play to their crowded grandstands on the coasts, they perpetuate their alienation in middle America and with it their minority status. If they move to the center, they risk smothering the vital fund-raising passions on the coasts.

Remember that the Republican Party was the embedded minority party in Congress when people like Gerald Ford and Bob Michel led it along a moderate and obliging path. Only after Newt Gingrich brought in flame-throwing did Republicans make their move.

Mr. Brummett argues that, "centrist Democrats got beat across the South because centrism is seen as veiled liberalism or liberal-lite, as mealymouthed imitations of honest-to-goodness conservatives. Democrats, at least the sane ones, always will be to the left of people like Oklahoma's Tom Coburn, unless they're willing to say we need the death penalty for abortion doctors," he added, asking: "What, then, to do?" His answer is here.

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Gallup" Nurses Tops List in Ethics and Honesty Poll

On December 7, 2004, the Gallup Organization released its "annual survey on the honesty and ethical standards of various professions." The survey "finds nurses at the top of the list, as they have been all but one year since they were first added to the poll in 1999." Gallup noted:

Almost 8 in 10 Americans, 79%, give the nurses a "very high" or "high" rating, down slightly from 83% last year. In 2001, shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, nurses were topped by firefighters, who received a very high/high rating from 90% of Americans.
"More generally," Gallup added, "this year's honesty and ethics poll shows that Americans continue to give their highest ratings to the public service professions, like the military, teachers, and members of the medical profession. Public protectors also rate highly. The lowest rated professions tend to be those connected with sales or big business, lawyers, elected officeholders, and reporters."

I'm not surprised to see journalists near the bottom of the list. However, I didn't see Bloggers on the list at all. Is that good or bad? Is it important?

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U.S. Supreme Court Settles Kansas-Colorado Water Dispute

Jerd Smith of the Rocky Mountain News noted in a December 8, 2004, article that "Colorado scored a key, $24 million legal victory Tuesday [ December 7, 2004 ] when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state would not have to pay interest costs to Kansas to settle a 20-year dispute over the Arkansas River." Here is more.

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No, Mr. Reynolds, ACORN Didn't Elect Bush

Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit asks: "DID ACORN re-elect Bush?" No, Mr. Reynolds, millions of voters, some of them Democrats, elected Mr. Bush. ACORN is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

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Tennessee Paper 'Working To Pass Pro-Life Amendment'

The Chattanoogan.Com, in a December 7, 2004, editorial, said "With the election of so many pro-life leaders, including a pro-life President and a pro-life majority in the Tennessee State Senate, it is apparent that hearts are beginning to change." The paper added:

Seven of ten state senate candidates endorsed by Tennessee Right to Life Political Action Committee won their races. In the state House, pro-life forces won more than 75% of endorsed races including those of both pro-life Democrats and pro-life Republicans. We're very excited about these victories and want to thank you for your part in making that happen.

The Chattanoogan also said, "We have exciting new possibilities to transform our state and nation in the months and years ahead. We will continue to work for the passage of a pro-life amendment to the Tennessee Constitution, which would protect the pre-born and women of our state." Here is the entire editorial.

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Is Fox Using Audience Members to Challenge Some Guests?

Melanie at News Hounds reported on December 7, 2004, that,

"Occasionally I've wondered whether or not Fox News "plants" people in the studio audience at the Dayside w/Linda Vester show. Every once in a while Vester shoves a mic in front of someone who asks a question or makes a statement which is perfectly attuned to Fox's message. Such a thing happened today (December 7, 2004) on Dayside.
Since I rarely watch Fox, I can't say. In fact, I've never seen Dayside w/Linda Vester. Is Fox using audience members to challenge guests? Do other networks do it? I only have questions, no answers. Here is Melanie's article.

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Our Clandestine Military Torturers

As The Washington Post noted in a December 8, 2004 report,the Bush Administration has often said prisoner abuses in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay are "isolated events and the Pentagon's response has been swift" when reports surface. However, no matter what the Administrations claims, reports seem to surface that contradict it and reinforce the fact that the U.S. is no exception when it comes to torture and prisoner abuse. The American Civil Liberties Union has released 43 new documents that reinforce this fact. The documents were obtained under the Federal Freedom of Information Act. Click here to read the Post article.

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Soldier-litigants Say Pentagon's "Stop-loss" Program is Unfair

"Eight soldiers filed a lawsuit yesterday [ December 7, 2004 ] challenging the Army's policy requiring them to serve longer than the terms of their enlistment contracts," according to The Associated Press. My sister, whose 20-year stint in the Army was supposed to end in March 2004, had her tour extended. She didn't like it. Was she part of the suit? No.

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If Spitzer Becomes Governor of New York

Newsday opined in a December 8, 2004, editorial that, "The gubernatorial candidacy of [New York State] Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has appeared inevitable for so long that his formal announcement yesterday seemed almost anticlimactic. But no one should underestimate the event's importance to Albany," the Tribune Company paper said. "Spitzer has been an excellent attorney general, and he is a force to be reckoned with as a candidate for governor." I can imagine smiles on the faces of many corrupt business people who probably would rather see him in the governor's mansion instead of the AG's office.

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Virginia AG Didn't Want to Know About GOP Spying on Democrats

Tyler Whitley of TimesDispatch.Com reports that Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, who is expected to be the Republican candidate for governor in 2005, "concedes he purposely avoided learning details about illegal Republican eavesdropping on [a November 22, 2002] Democratic conference call when he first found out about it." Governor Mark R. Warner "was among the Democrats on the call," according to the Times Dispatch. Mr. Kilgore "acknowledged in a deposition" that, had he learned more, he might have prevented a "second illegal interception" that reportedly occurred on March 25, 2004. Click here to read why Mr. Kilgore did not want to know about the spying.

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December 7, 2004

Neocon Ideology Still Part of U.S. Foreign Policy

Peter S. Canellos, the Boston Globe's Washington Bureau chief, noted in his December 7, 2004 National Perspective column, that:

With the departures last week of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, it became clear that President Bush will enter his second term with a sharply different team. But what is different pales in comparison to what will remain the same: Donald Rumsfeld will continue as defense secretary, and as long as he stays the neoconservatives who dominated the first term will hold sway over foreign policy.
Mr. Canellos, who writes a "weekly analysis of events in the capital and beyond," said "Whither the neocons was the great question of the Bush campaign. And it was, perhaps, the most important question of the entire 2004 election, because it would define Bush's doctrine of preemption. But it was not answered until last weekend, when Rumsfeld confirmed that he was keeping his job." A link to the entire article.

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December 6, 2004

Some Dakotans Still Debating Daschle V. Thune

Some South Dakotans are still debating why Senator Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) lost to Senator-elect John R. Thune on November 2, 2004. Doug Wiken of Dakota Today has some interesting observations on the subject. Read them here.

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Joe Trippi's Answer for The Democratic Party

Joe Trippi, author of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Democracy, the Internet and the Overthrow of Everything,” says "The answer for Democratic Party is not to move left or right— it is to lift itself up to the high principles on which our nation was founded." Click here to read Trippi's columm.

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USA Today: The Mood at CBS is One of Uncertainty

USA TODAY reports that "the mood around CBS News" is one of uncertainty "as an independent panel prepares to release its findings on the circumstances surrounding Dan Rather's controversial "Memogate" piece on the Wednesday edition of 60 Minutes this fall that questioned President Bush's National Guard service." Here is a link to the entire story.

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The Becker-Posner Blog Generating Considerable Interest

The National Political Observer welcomes U.S. Appellate Court judge Richard A. Posner and Nobel Prize Winning economist Gary S. Becker to the Blogosphere. They have started The Becker-Posner Blog, "that will explore current issues of economics, law, and policy in a dialogic format."

Initially, they said in their December 5, 2004, introduction, "we will be posting just once a week, on Mondays. In time we may post more frequently." Their first dialog was posted on December 5, and is titled "preventive War." It has already generated many comments.

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December 5, 2004

Advice for Texas Democrats

Marc A. Campos and Matthew Emal, two Houston-based Democratic consultants, have some advice for Texas Democrats, if they "aspire to win statewide offices in 2006." Democrats can only win if they make serious adjustments and a significant investment in the Hispanic community," they said, noting that, "according to the Willie C. Velasquez Institute, there are over more than 1.5 million unregistered Hispanic citizen adults in Texas." The field is wide open. It remains to be seen if Democrats are up for the challenge.

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The Politics of Personal Destruction in South Louisiana

Jeff Sadow at BayouBuzz.Com has a good analysis of two south Louisiana’s congressional contests waged by what he calls "two practitioners of the politics of personal destruction."

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Should Journalist's Privilege Rules Apply to Bloggers?

Eugene Volokh, a professor of law at U.C.L.A. who runs the Volokh Conspiracy,  a blog with more than 10,000 daily readers, penned a thought-provoking article for The New York Times on the widely debated question of whether journalists should have "privilege" to protect sources during investigations such as the current one into who told columnist Robert Novak and other journalists that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent under non-official cover.

She was allegedly exposed to punish her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for debunking the Bush Administration's claim that Iraq bought yellow cake uranium from Niger.

Mr. Volokh's article, which appeared in the December 2, 2004 edition of The Times and is headlined "You Can Blog, but You Can't Hide,"also discussed whether privilege should apply to bloggers. Despite arguments that it should be granted to all journalists, which includes bloggers, The National Political Observer does not see privilege being granted to bloggers when the the courts and the various legislatures are split on the issue as it relates to mainstream journalists. Yet, I think Mr. Volokh's argument is valid. It is the subject of considerable discussion in the blogosphere.

Notwithstanding that, perhaps a greater concern for bloggers should be how to defend against the threat of a lawsuit by a large company such as Sony on a charge of breaking copyright law. That happened to Jason Kottke.

NOTE: This post can also be found at The TDT Observer Review.

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Greely: It Didn't Take Bush Long to Become a Lame Duck

In his December 3, 2004, column in the Chicago Sun-Times, Andrew Greely, the outspoken Catholic priest and author, said

"It didn't take George Bush long to become a lame duck president. While he was off in South America, two congressional Neanderthals, representatives James Sensenbrenner and Duncan Hunter, at the urging of the Pentagon, scuttled the intelligence reform bill. All the years of work in establishing the committee and producing its lengthy report went down the drain, though it was supported by the president, the vice president and, somewhat weakly, by the secretary of defense.
He said, "There were plenty of votes in the House to pass the bill, but Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, something of a Neanderthal himself, refused to permit a vote on it, lest it require Democratic votes for the compromise hammered out by the House and Senate to pass and go to the president's desk." President Bush is now begging Republicans to pass the bill, which was initially opposed by the Pentagon and Richard B. Meyers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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Muslims Do Not ‘Hate Our Freedom'

The Defense Science Board (DSB)is a "Federal Advisory Committee established to provide independent advice to the Secretary of Defense." On September 23, 2004, the DSB's Task Force on Strategic Communication issued a 111-page report that got very little discussions in the mainstream press. The reason, it was held until after the November 2, 2004, presidential elections. Besides issuing recommendations on strategic communications, especially with the Muslim world, DSB report made an important observation that goes contrary to the Bush Administration and it's media supporters pronouncements on why many Muslims have chosen to fight the U.S. effort to impose its will on the Muslim world. The DSB said:

"Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy."
"Nothing shapes U.S. policies and global perceptions of U.S. foreign and national security objectives more powerfully than the President’s statements and actions, and those of senior officials," the report noted. "Interests, not public opinion, should drive policies. But opinions must be taken into account when policy options are considered and implemented. At a minimum, we should not be surprised by public reactions to policy choices. Policies will not succeed unless they are communicated to global and domestic audiences in ways that are credible and allow them to make informed, independent judgments."

The DSD said "Words in tone and substance should avoid offence where possible; messages should seek to reduce, not increase, perceptions of arrogance, opportunism, and double standards. These objectives mean officials must take full advantage of powerful tools to measure attitudes, understand cultures, and assess influence structures – not occasionally but as an iterative process. Policies and strategic communication cannot be separated."

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All Mosquitos, No Swamp; No Elephants Either

Former CIA agent Ray McGovern's article, "All Mosquitos, No Swamp; No Elephants Either, reprinted on December 5, 2004 by Truthout, discusses foreign policy issues that many mainstream media organizations, including The New York Times, seems afraid to touch, namely Israel's impact on U.S. Middle East policy. Mr. McGovern's article initially appeared at TomPaine.Com.

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Do Democrats Need a Scholar to Tell Them Why They Keep Losing?

Edward Epstein of the San Francisco Chronicle's Washington Bureau reported December 5, 2004, that "House Democrats, seeking to take the offensive against Republicans in an effort to win back a majority, will talk Tuesday with a Berkeley scholar who says Republicans have succeeded by framing the nation's political debate on their terms." If the Democrats need a scholar to tell them that, they deserve to keep losing. Here is a link to Mr. Epstein's article.

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'The Clinton Riddle'

The Northwest Arkansas Times reported December 5, 2004, that "eleven of the nation's top political scientists and historians gathered at the University of Arkansas in 2002 to examine the Clinton presidency from their own viewpoints." The paper added:

Their overwhelming consensus was the perfect title of the resulting compilation of papers, "The Clinton Riddle."
Jeannie Whayne, chairwoman of the UA history department, was quoted as saying, " A hundred years from now, people are still going to be trying to figure out former President Clinton, just like they are Franklin D. Roosevelt now." Read the entire article here.

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The 'Equal Right to Govern Amendment'

Have you ever heard of the "Equal Right to Govern Amendment?" I hadn't until I read USA TODAY Reporter Martin Kasindorf's article headlined "Should the Constitution be amended for Arnold?" Mr. Kasindorf, whose article was posted December 2, 2004, on USA TODAY's website and updated December 3, 2004, wrote:

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah ), a political ally of Schwarzenegger, introduced the Equal Right to Govern Amendment in July 2003, a few weeks before the actor declared his candidacy in the recall election in which Californians ousted Democrat Gray Davis as governor."
Mr. Kasindorf said "If Hatch's amendment is adopted, an immigrant who has been a naturalized citizen for 20 years could run for president or vice president." He also noted that Mr. Schwarzenegger, "57, has been a U.S. citizen since 1983. He has retained Austrian citizenship."

What is the likelihood of the Hatch's resolution passing? It "must withstand daunting tests for proposed amendments: approval by two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress, followed by ratification by three-quarters of the states - 38 of them," Mr. Kasindorf wrote.

What do you you think? Should the U.S. constitution be amended so Mr. Swarzenegger, or any other immigrant, can run for president of the U.S.?

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December 4, 2004

Jerusalem Post Claims AIPAC Staffers Were 'Setup'

The Jerusalem Post claims that Steven Rosen, director of foreign policy issues for the American Israel Public Affairs Committe, and Keith Weissman, an Iran expert at AIPAC,were set up. They were subpoenaed last week to appear before a Federal grand jury investigating possible espionage by pro-Israel Pentagon staffer Lawrence "Larry" Franklin on behalf of Israel. According to Haaretz,

"Franklin is suspected of obtaining classified material from internal Bush administration discussions of policy on Iran and Iraq, and transmitting it to AIPAC staffers."
The Post's Janine Zacharia asks in an article in the December 5, 2004, issue:
What prompted the years-long FBI investigation into the activities of AIPAC, which featured this past summer's "setup" of two AIPAC officials now revealed by the Post, and which has reached its height with the issuing of subpoenas last week?
Ms. Zacharia said "The issuing of subpoenas last week to four AIPAC officials to appear before a grand jury later this month could mean that indictments are in the works. If so, the circumstances that triggered the probe will become evident, as will the nature and gravity of any alleged wrongdoing." Click here to read the entire article. The National Political Observer is not surprised by the set up charge. It's a classic defense.

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Thune Reportedly Paid Two South Dakota Bloggers $35,000

"John Thune paid $27,000 to Jon Lauck of the "Daschle v. Thune" blog for five months work," says Ben Hanten at Daily Caucus.Com. "Jason Van Beek of "South Dakota Politics" was paid $8,000 for the same period," he added. Click here to read the entire post.

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Wilkens See Hypocricy in South Dakota Blogger Alliance's Leadership

Doug Wilken at Dakota Today has interesting commentary on the South Dakota Blogger Alliance leadership's relationship with Senator-elect John Thune, the man that defeated Senator Tom Dascle on November 2. He wrote on December 1, 2004:

For months, the promoters of the "Dakota Blog Alliance" have been attacking the Argus leader for liberal bias they think they see running off the pages nearly all the time. But, like most GOP charges, there is more than a little hypocrisy involved. Check the Daily Caucus--$35,000 Paid by Thune to Bloggers story for a few details. It seems that these bloggers at Daschle v. Thune Blog and SD Politics blog had more than public spirit as motivation for their continuous timely shilling for Thune and their attacks on Daschle and the Argus. They were getting around a $100 a day for their effort.
Mr. Wilken added:"I guess if they had printed a disclaimer on their blogs like that required for political advertisements, this would not be so egregious." I wonder how many other bloggers were on the payroll pf politicians during the recently completed election cycle?

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Does Helen Thomas Still Have a Right to Call Herself a Journalist?

Frank Salvato, "a political media consultant and the managing editor for The", wrote in a December 3, 2004 post:

It’s always a sad, and sometimes an uncomfortable thing to see someone who was once at the pinnacle of their game try to remain long after their days at the top have gone. Show me someone who doesn’t wince when they see an over-the-hill Hollywood elite trying to recapture their glory days, dozens of facelifts stretching their skin over their skull like plastic wrap on a Tupperware container, and I will show you someone who is truly desensitized to their surroundings. Such is the case with White House correspondent Helen Thomas.
Mr. Salvato concluded his article by saying, "Helen Thomas has no business calling herself a journalist anymore. She is fleecing her employer. She is a racist and a malcontent. She owes both the president and Condoleezza Rice an apology. She is a disgrace to her former profession. She has graduated from being a dilapidated old windbag to being a vitriolic troll and I will never apologize for the use of those words." Read Mr. Salvato's enire article. The National Political Observer thinks she should write until she can't write anymore, for whatever reason.

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Discrimination Can Sometimes Be Costly

Staples Inc. has agreed to pay a $50,000 settlement to Jesse Williams of Clinton, Md., in a discrimination lawsuit he filed because a Staples store in Winchester, Virginia allegedly refused to accept his check because he is African-American. The suit alleged that the store rejected out-of-town checks from African-Americans but accepted them from whites. Read The Associated Press version of the story here.

Note: Here in Chicago, I've seen store clerks demand identification from African-Americans and Hispanics before accepting their checks, while not asking Caucasians to show identification. For the record, not all stores disciminate in this way. Such practices would probably lead to boycotts.

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Will President Bush Have a Political Honeymoon?

Tom Raum, who reportedly "has covered Washington for The Associated Press since 1973, including five presidencies," writes that "Presidential honeymoons are those periods when the victorious candidate is riding high, when the spirit of bipartisanship rules the day and when a freshly elected or re-elected president is the most likely to get things done. Traditionally, these honeymoons last about 100 days."

So will President George W. Bush have a honeymoon? Read Mr. Raum's article for the opinions of those he interviewed on the question.

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Schools Stand to Lose Millions for Banning Military Recruiters

Thomas Adcock , writing in the New York Lawyer, reported December 3, 2004, that, "Despite a significant court victory this week for law schools seeking to ban military recruiters from their campuses, local academicians are wary of the U.S. Justice Department's next move in the decade-long dispute — and uncertain of the Pentagon's motive in pressing a matter involving the hot-button issue of gay rights.

At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars from Washington for law schools and their affiliate universities, in the form of scholarship and research grants, that could be withheld by Congress under a federal law known as the Solomon Amendment. The statute was designed to punish schools failing to accommodate Defense Department interviewers.
Mr. Adcock's report said, "To date, only one state campus has felt the effect of Solomon. Professor Sylvia A. Law said her institution, New York University School of Law, forfeited about $150,000 from 1998 to 2000 when it banned military recruiters." Mr. Adcock' article is here.

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'Both Sides Misguided in Dispute Between Law Schools and Pentagon'

The St. Petersburg (Florida) Times opined December 3, 2004, on what it calls "the latest skirmish in the battle over gay rights. It said:

Both sides are misguided in a dispute that pits two dozen prestigious law schools against the Pentagon over military recruitment on campus. An appellate court panel in Philadelphia ruled Monday that the federal government cannot withhold grant money from universities that deny military recruiters access to their students. Although the decision turned on the court's interpretation of First Amendment protection of free speech, it is really the latest skirmish in the battle over gay rights.-
The Times contends "It is hypocritical for law schools to deny military recruiters access to their students because of the Pentagon's exclusion of gays." The editorial is here.

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WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception: The Film

Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe reviewed Danny Schechter's WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception on December 3, 2004: He starts the review this way:

Just when we thought the November election had freed us from the tangle of crudely assembled, politically slanted, Bush II-era docu-diatribes, here comes "WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception." Based on Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber's book, the movie argues that the American media has failed us in its craven coverage of the current Iraq war and that the war has been handled as much by publicity experts as by the government and military.
Mr. Morris said "Schechter succeeds in being as annoying as Michael Moore as he bops around from interviewee to interviewee, and allows himself to be photographed too closely. Will you mind Schechter less once you see the shot he's included of an elated Desmond Tutu reaching out to embrace him at an antiwar demonstration in New York City? Hard to say. But eventually, the ideas and suspicions come to the movie's forefront, and over the 98-minute runtime, Schechter settles for being the messenger, not the star, doing a serviceable job in laying out a quick history of modern war coverage and letting other people make points, too." Here is the entire review.

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Will Major League Baseball Heed McCain's Threat?

"Major league baseball players and owners should meet immediately to enact the standards that apply to the minor leagues, and if they don't, I will have to introduce legislation that says professional sports will have minimum standards for testing," Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) warned December 3, 2004. "I'll give them until January, and then I'll introduce legislation." Don't worry major league baseball purists. Baseball owners and players will adopt stringent testing standards. There is too much money at stake not to do so.

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The National Debate Wants Help Monitoring Keith Olberman

The National Debate (TND), whose tagline is "where politics, policy and the media meet," took on a new look in October 2004. However, TND's strong opinions on media and politics hasn't changed. Just ask MSNBC's Keith Olberman.

TND owner Robert Cox announced on November 30, 2004, that he has created a blog called Olberman Watch. He launched it while acknowledging that "Watching Keith Olbermann is becoming more than a full-time job and more than a few readers of The National Debate are getting sick of hearing about Keith and his shenanigans..."

You can help with this project by becoming a contributor ,"to help divide up the job of watching Countdown, reading Bloggerman and (monitoring) the web for news stories and blog posts about Keith." If any readers of The National Political Observer are interested, please let him know. By the way, to see TND's old look, click on its September 2004 archives. And while I don't agree with eveything I read at TND, I highly recommend it.

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NBC Reportedly Corrects Error on Latino Support for Bush

The William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI), once known as the Southwest Voter Research Institute, revealed on December 3, 2004, that:

In a stunning admission, an elections manager for NBC News said national news organizations overestimated President George W. Bush's support among Latino voters, downwardly revising its estimated support for President Bush to 40 percent from 44 percent among Hispanics, and increasing challenger John Kerry's support among Hispanics to 58 percent from 53 percent. The revision doubles Kerry's margin of victory among Hispanic voters from 9 to 18 percent. Ana Maria Arumi, the NBC elections manager also revised NBC's estimate for Hispanic support for Bush in Texas, revising a reported 18-point lead for Bush to a 2-point win for Kerry among Hispanics, a remarkable 20-point turnaround from figures reported on election night.
"The NBC announcement came during a forum with the William C. Velasquez Institute's president, Antonio Gonzalez, and other Hispanic analysts at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Hispanic Link Newsletter and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists," according to WCVI. Here is the WCVI press release about NBC's correction.

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Where is the InstaPunditwatcher?

InstaPunditwatch, a blog created to fact check "Instapundit's ass, because he doesn't bother to," had great potential. The writing was good and the blogger was obviously well-informed and kept a critical eye on the subject--Professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit. Unfortunatley--maybe fortunately for Mr. Reynolds--it has not been updated since November 21, 2002. Why was this blog abandoned? Is the InstaPundit watcher critiquing InstaPundit under another blog name? I'd love to know the answer.

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December 3, 2004

Colin Powell: Annan is a Good Secretary-General

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says United Nations "Secretary-General [Kofi] Annan is a good secretary-general and the United States has tried to support him and the United Nations in every way that we can." Senator Norm Coleman (R.-Minnesota) has called on Mr. Annan to resign over alleged corruption in the U.N. administered oil-for-food program. The senator is investigating whether abuses occurred in the program allegedly designed to let Iraq use oil to buy certain food items while the U.N., under pressure from the U.S. and Britain, kept debilitating economic sanctions on Iraq for years.

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Gunning For Kofi Annan

Ramesh Thakur, in a special to The Japan Times, said "One would think that the cheerleaders for waging war on Saddam Hussein's Iraq, on the thoroughly discredited grounds that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, would have retreated into a period of quiet introspection. He noted that:

In fact, it is as difficult to find any trace of embarrassment, humility or repentance as it has been to find a trace of the supposedly ubiquitous and deadly WMD in Iraq. Instead many of the columnists and newspapers that clearly believe that attack is the best form of defense have gone on the offensive against the United Nations and Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Mr. Thakur, senior vice rector of United Nations University in Tokyo, added: "And when Annan dared to suggest that the war had been illegal, and cautioned against a major military offensive in Fallujah because of the heightened risk of civilian casualties, the Wall Street Journal in an editorial described the secretary general's letter as "a hostile act" (Nov. 8).

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The Keeler Political Report Looks at Republican Domination

The Keeler Political Report takes a lot at what it calls "the current domination of Republican power in the United States." The blog boasts that:

"Republicans currently hold all 7 of the "power positions" in the country. This would have been incomprehensible even 30 years ago. The Democrats used to own all of these positions. Now they have none. This is part of the reason they are so mad all the time and turn to people like Michael Moore. They dominate no more."
The Keeler Political Report notes that "...Republicans have won 7 of the last 10 elections and have occupied the WH [White House] for 24 of the last 36 years."

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Brian Williams First Night as NBC's Nighly News Anchor Went Well

TVNewser, which blogs about television news, reports that NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams' first Night as Tom Brokaw's replacement "attracts audience to NBC." TVNewser, cited this press release headlined NBC Nightly News "tops ABC by 26% and CBS by 57% among total viewers on Williams' first evening as anchor and managing editor, among adults 25-54. NBC outperforms ABC by 38% and CBS by 57%." The blog said, "according to fast national data, NBC attracted 11.68 million viewers..."

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American Politics Journal

American Politics Journal offers very interesting and informative reading on political issues in the United States. I highly recommend it.

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Politizine is Changing Its Format

Politizine, "a discussion of politics, music and modern times," is changing its format "from a personal blog to a more collaborative political news site," according to a post at the blog. Starting soon," it was noted, Politizine will have different contributors sharing the news of the day with you," . "Tony Schinella will still be posting occasional columns or news stories. But others will also be posting comments." I look forward to the new format. Politizine was last updated December 1, 2004.

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How Many Poltical Blogs are Littering the Blogosphere?

During the 2004 Presidential contest between President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry, BattlegroundStates Blog, a blog that was "dedicated to documenting -- and helping mobilize grassroots democrats to win -- the political battles" in the undecided states, updated regularly. Today, I checked to see if there had been updates since November 3, 2004. There were none. I wonder how many blogs created to influence voters during the election are littering the blogospheres? I have one--The Political Observer, which was replaced by the National Political Observer. It will be removed as soon as I finish transferring its archives.

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Washingtonians Need Not Apply for DNC Job

The nation's 21 Democratic governors want the next leader of the Democratic National Committee to be a political centrist from outside Washington, D.C. According to Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm :

"The spokesperson has to be somebody who is able to speak the language of values, of being pro-innovation and small business, of reaching across the aisle, of reaching those independents and perhaps moderate Republicans who may feel alienated by a drift that is too far to the right of the Republican Party,"
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell told the AP: "I think Washington gets caught in what I would call Washington-speak, and as a result doesn't understand the significance of how issues are playing in the heartland. We have gotten away from expressing what is the core values of our party and as a result, I think we suffered mightily in the presidential campaign and in various Senate campaigns."

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Several Chicago-area Groups Ask FBI to Release Spy Files

On December 2, 2004, "a diverse group of Chicago-area associations and individuals sharing a commitment to social justice and community service filed federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asking that agency to release surveillance files about those groups and individuals that were opened and maintained by FBI agents," the American Civil Liberties Union announced in a press release. Several Muslims organizations joined the effort to obtain the information.

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If Mr. Bush Truly Cared About Intelligence Reform

Santosh Sagar, writing in the December 3, 2004, edition of The Johns Hopkins Newletter asserts that:

If President [George W.] Bush truly cared about enacting intelligence reform, we would see him at a press conference, with the 9/11 Commissioners and 9/11 widows at his back, demanding that Congress move forward on this legislation. We would see a primetime Oval Office address in which he chews out Speaker Hastert for putting partisan politics above the lives and security of ordinary Americans. We have not, and we will not, see this.
The senior international studies major added that "This is a bill the president never wanted, and he is all too happy to see it die. What is sad about this whole fiasco is that he does not have the courage to tell us as such and that he has no alternative plans for how to make us more secure here at home."

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Why is DNC Boasting About Raising More Money Than Republicans

"Figures the DNC [Democratic National Committee] filed with the Federal Election Commission showed the Democratic committee took in about $17 million more than the Republican National Committee from January 1, 2003, to late November," according to the Associated Press.

Why would the DNC boast about raising more money when the Republicans won the presidential election? Democrats, the contest wasn't about fundraising. It was about winning the White House.

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December 2, 2004

Who is Robert Novak Standing Up For?

Chicago Reader media critic Michael Miner recently took the Chicago Sun-Times to task for portraying syndicated columnist Robert Novak "as a gallant warrior alone on a burning deck" in the Valerie Plame affair while complaining that "other journalists aren't "standing up for their own."

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Novak: The 22nd Amendment Has Rendered Bush a Lame Duck

Chicago Sun-Times Columnist Robert Novak opined in his December 2, 2004 column that,

"It is indeed a different world on Capitol Hill since November 2. Loyal Bushites are newly candid -- though not for public attribution -- in criticizing the president's performance on intel reform. They say a word from the White House is no longer sufficient because [President George W] Bush's political fate no longer is paramount for them. He never again must be tested by the voters, even as House members undergo that ordeal biennially. The 22nd Amendment to the Constitution has rendered Bush a lame duck.
Mr. Novak added: "This makes the president's legislative function vastly more difficult. While Bush has laid out an ambitious conservative agenda for the second term, his poor performance on the intelligence bill suggests to his partisans on the Hill the need for an adjustment to reality at the White House. Thanks to the 22nd Amendment blues, it will be much harder to pass bills far more difficult than intel reform." Click here to read more.

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December 1, 2004

Brokaw: Rather, Jennings Surprised I decided to Quit

Dan Kaplan at New York Post Online quotes former NBC Anchor Tom Brokaw as saying "It's fair to say that they [ABC's Peter Jennings and CBS' Dan Rather] were both a little surprised that I made this decision," in 2002 to step down. The rest of the story is here.

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Should We Care That Brokaw and Rather Are Signing-Off?

On December 1, 2004, Tim Goodman at SFGate.Com put the departure of NBC's Tom Brokaw and the impending departure of Dan Rather of CBS into perspective. He wrote:

The gigantic media fuss about Tom Brokaw stepping down -- this is his last night in the anchor seat -- and Dan Rather following him in March is nothing more than navel-gazing iconology. And wondering what it means to Peter Jennings and the state of the network news is as relevant now as Rolling Stone magazine in a hip-hop world.
Mr. Goodman said "With no disrespect to either man, their departures mean nothing. Brokaw will undoubtedly still pop up on NBC -- the lure of a big event will prove too enticing -- and Rather will still work for CBS." He said network news is a dinosaur Click here to read why.

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Grand Jury Subpoenas Served on AIPAC

The fact that the FBI executed search warrants December 1, 2004 "at the headquarters of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee and also "delivered grand jury subpoenas in an ongoing probe of alleged espionage for Israel is getting considerable attention around the world. It is also being closely followed in Washington and Tel Aviv, according to some press reports.

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FBI Still Investigating Franklin Espionage Case

The Larry Franklin-AIPAC espionage investigation is back in the news. Nathan Gutman of Haaretz reported December 2, 2004, that,

"For the second time in 13 weeks, FBI agents raided the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) offices yesterday searching for information against Larry Franklin, an analyst at the Middle East desk of the Pentagon. Franklin is suspected of obtaining classified material from internal Bush administration discussions of policy on Iran and Iraq, and transmitting it to AIPAC staffers"
Does the fact that the FBI is still investigating mean AIPAC doesn't have the political clout it once had? Time will tell.

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Once In Country, It's Hard to Leave

The Associated Press reports that the Bush Administration will send 12,000 more troops to occupied Iraq "in order to bolster security in advance of" elections scheduled for January 2005. The administration claims the new troop strenght will last only until March 2005, according to the AP. We will see. Once in country, it is hard to get out. It's called mission creep. Remember Vietnam?

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Does Tom Ridge Have a Martyr's Complex

Tim Dickinson at The RS Blog argues that "It is easy to understand why" Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge "would have a martyr's complex.

This is a man who gave up a cushy governorship to take one of the hardest jobs on the planet. Not only did he have to lead a monstrous merger of ossified government bureaucracies, but Ridge became the man responsible for preventing and/or responding to future terrorist attacks on American soil -- both terribly outsized tasks for a man whose public persona seemed the epitome of ordinary. By all appearances, Ridge possessed neither the drive nor the true backing from the White House required to do more than a cosmetically passable job.
Mr. Dickinson said, "It would be false to suggest that Ridge's DHS has been worse than useless -- although its most memorable innovation, the nation's Homeland Security Advisory System certainly is." Click here to read more.

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