SYNDICATED COLUMN: Propagandists First, Journalists Second

How the New York Times Won 2004 for Bush Should the news media be patriotic? When a journalist uncovers a government secret, which comes first–national security or the public’s right to know? In the United States, reporters consider themselves Americans first, journalists second. That means consulting the government before going public with a state secret. “When I was at ABC,” James Bamford told Time in 2006, “we always checked with the Administration in power when we thought we had something of concern, and there was usually some way to work it out.” In a new book about the Bush Administration’s efforts to expand the president’s powers at the expense of the legislative and judicial branches, the assumption that the press shouldn’t publish security-sensitive stories is so hard-wired that New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau accepts it as a given. But it’s a very American concept, and one that relies on the presumption that the U.S. government may make mistakes, but…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: The Silver Lining of Economic Collapse

Student Loans Crunch Starves Greedy Colleges First came school vouchers, subsidizing private schools with public money. Now, as the economy contracts, the government faces mounting pressure to pour increasing amounts of our tax dollars into private colleges and universities as well. The push comes from two fronts: a desire to make sure that student loans keep flowing in spite of the credit crunch, and to raise benefits for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are guaranteed an education under the GI Bill. Student loans are a big segment of the banking industry, amounting to about $85 billion last year. Until recently, they were also hugely profitable. But the credit crunch has caused some lenders to pull out of the federal program. As a result, the pool of money for college loans available has fallen 13 percent. Congress is considering various ways to make sure students can continue to borrow the money they need. The Ensuring Continued Access to Student…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Obama: The Other White Meat

Wright Fuss Weakens Dems, Squanders Chance to Get Serious I argue with my friends. Some of them thought invading Iraq was a good idea. Almost all believed that Afghanistan was “the good war,” the one from which Iraq distracted us. (They’re starting to come around.) A few are even bigots. We disagree about these issues, often vehemently. But we’re still friends. I would never diss a friend in public (or, in politicalese, “distance myself”). Even a former friend deserves respect. Crisis reveals character. In politics, it reveals judgment. Barack “Uniter Not Divider, This Time We Really Mean It” Obama was praised for dumping (“distancing himself from”) Reverend Jeremiah Wright. (“What Barack Obama did was a profile in courage,” said the Reverend Al Sharpton.) But the McCain campaign’s silence indicates that it is quietly editing its fall attack ads. Obama’s apology, they’ll say, came too little, too late. Obama has fallen for one of the hoariest old tricks in the political…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Arrest Bush

Bush Confesses to Waterboarding. Call D.C. Cops! “Why are we talking about this in the White House?” John Ashcroft nervously asked his fellow members of the National Security Council’s Principals Committee. (The Principals were Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General Ashcroft.) “History will not judge this kindly,” Ashcroft predicted. “This” is torture. Against innocent people. Conducted by CIA agents and American soldiers and marines. Sanctioned by legal opinions issued by Ashcroft’s Justice Department. Directly ordered by George W. Bush. An April 11th report by ABC News describes how CIA agents, asked by previous presidents to carry out illegal “black ops” actions (torture and killings), had become tired of getting hung out to dry whenever their dirty deeds were revealed by the press. When the Bush Administration asked the CIA to work over prisoners captured in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, Director…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: One Nation, Under a Heartless God

Why Is America So Mean?“The 82nd,” the man ahead of me in the security line at the Kansas City airport said. He was 64 and white, very Hank Hill and not the kind of guy you’d typically see chatting up a skinny 20-year-old Latino dude. But they were both veterans. Common ground is a given. “I was in the 82nd too,” the kid told the old man. I looked down. The kid’s legs were gone. He was standing on metal. Implausibly and heartbreakingly, white Converses adorned the tips of his prosthetic legs. High tops. On the other side of the metal detector, I caught up with the young vet (Iraq? Afghanistan?). HomeSec was giving him the whole treatment: arms stretched out, the wand, stern expressions and stupid questions. The wand beeped and beeped. The TSA guy scowled. “I’ve got titanium all the way up my spine,” the kid explained. You’re kidding me, I thought. After what he’s been through. After…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Party Like It’s 1929

High Unemployment and High Inflation Make This Recession Different “Why is this recession different from almost all other recessions?” asked Herbert Barchoff. The economist, a former president of the Council of Economic Advisers, answered his own question: “This is not only the usual cyclical recession, but also a structural recession.” Barchoff’s dark assessment appeared in a letter to the editor of The New York Times–in June 1992. Then, like now, Americans were suffering through a long, grinding recession following a boom (under Reagan) that had primarily benefited the wealthy. There were mass layoffs. The real estate market had collapsed. Foreclosures were rampant. George H.W. Bush, who had expected to coast to reelection on the strength of his near 90 percent post-Gulf War approval ratings, projected a Herbert Hoover-like resolve to not lift a finger to alleviate the misery. The Federal Reserve cut interest rates, but it didn’t help. Six months later, angry voters fired an out-of-touch president who seemed unwilling…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Bigotry, Apology, Repeat as Necessary

THIS WEEK’S SYNDICATED COLUMN: BIGOTRY, APOLOGY, REPEAT AS NECESSARY The Rise of John McCain In the 1993 film noir “Romeo is Bleeding,” the late Roy Scheider plays a mob boss. “You know right from wrong,” he tells a hopelessly corrupt cop portrayed by Gary Oldman. “You just don’t care.” It’s a perfect summary of John McCain’s political career. Time after time, McCain weighs a decision. Then, after careful consideration, he chooses evil over good. In the short run, evil gets him what he wants. Later, when the devil comes to collect his due, McCain issues a retraction. Running for president in 2000, John McCain squared off against George W. Bush in the key South Carolina primary. Asked whether the Confederate battle flag should continue to fly over the state capitol, McCain sided with the rednecks: “Personally, I see the flag as symbol of heritage.” A few months later, he’d lost South Carolina and quit the race. He apologized–not to the…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Don’t Move On. Start Over.

Next Prez Must Make Bush an Unperson “No one owes obedience to a usurper government or to anyone who assumes public office in violation of the Constitution and the law. The civil population has the right to rise up in defense of the constitutional order. The acts of those who usurp public office are null and void.” –Article 46, Constitution of Peru Comedian Bill Maher is a brilliant contrarian. He dislikes George Bush. Yet his view of the stolen 2000 election is conventional, ahistorical and quintessentially American: Forget it! Move on! “Oh, Ted,” he replied when I mentioned the judicial coup d’état on his TV show, which aired October 3, 2001. “That’s so September 10th. It really is.” It has been nearly eight years since the U.S. Supreme Court violated the Constitution by installing George W. Bush as president. Their ruling was immaterial. They shouldn’t have agreed to hear Bush v. Gore in the first place. Under Article II of…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Is Chicago Burning?

Hillary Clinton, Superdelegates, and Playing with Fire Will there be race riots if Barack Obama is denied the Democratic nomination? Despite the continuing fallout over his association with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the Illinois senator has won the most state primaries, the most votes and the most delegates. Polls have him running between one and four percentage points ahead of Clinton. Four centuries after the first blacks came to America in chains, the prospect of seeing one of their own become president is so close that African-Americans can taste it. Will they sit quietly at home and change the channel if white America dashes their hopes? “One big fact has largely been lost in the recent coverage of the Democratic presidential race,” write Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen of Politico.com. “Hillary Rodham Clinton has virtually no chance of winning.”But what if she does? Stars, planets and a bunch of asteroids would have to fall into perfect alignment in order for…
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SYNDICATED COLUMN: Obama/Dukakis 2008

Dem Wimp Throws His Truth-Telling Preacher Under the Bus If Americans were represented by an animal, it wouldn’t be an eagle. It would be a tiny shrew, nervous and paranoid and living in constant terror of being attacked by predators. Our national prey mentality doesn’t have much basis in reality. The last attack on U.S. soil took place two-thirds of a century ago; Hawaii wasn’t even a state at the time. Before that, you have to go back to 1846–and we provoked that one. Whatever the historical basis–or lack thereof–for this innate fearfulness, U.S. voters look to their president as a Father Protector figure–someone who, if threatened, will ferociously defend what is now called, stupidly and horribly, das Homeland. Republican candidates win elections in years when national security is a top concern. In 2004, it didn’t matter that John Kerry volunteered for, fought in, and returned with medals from Vietnam. What mattered was that he turned the other cheek to…
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