Saturday, October 01, 2005

Short Takes

- I had the opportunity last night to attend a "town hall meeting" at Old South Meetinghouse here in Boston with historian David McCullough, who many of you may know is one of my favorite authors. McCullough spoke about and read briefly from his newest book, 1776, which I reviewed here. He also took questions from the audience, which led to a fascinating discussion about the way he "does history" and his research. He ended with a response urging us to remember the characters he writes about as they were, not as some kind of "actors in a costume pageant." He said when he composes his books, he doesn't think about what today's reviewers are going to say, or how the public is going to receive the work - he thinks about what those he writes about would say if they were leaning over his shoulder as he wrote. I think that's just abou the best way that I can think of to do it. If you ever have the chance to see McCullough speak, I urge you, take it. He is, truly, one of America's great treasures.

- If you read one thing today, make it this essay by Senator Barack Obama. I hope to be able to discuss it in more detail because it is utterly fantastic. He's addressing readers on the DailyKos site who have been giving those Dems who voted for Judge Roberts a pretty rough treatment. Obama speaks to their concerns ably, thoughtfully, and eloquently - and the piece ends up being quite probably the best defense of my brand of strong centrism I've ever read. Don't miss it.

- I'm pleased to see that the president believes Bill Bennett's comments this week (discussed yesterday) were "not appropriate." They were that, and much more. Joe Gandelman at TMV has a very good post on this whole thing as well.

- A finding by the GAO that the Bush Administration acted illegally by paying off news commentators and columnists for favorable treatment of its policies is certainly another welcome development. The report, quoted in today's Times, says that by purchasing positive coverage, the Administration was distributing "covert propaganda," a violation of federal statutes. I strongly agree with the findings in the report, and would hope that the Bush folks have learned their lesson. But since I presume they probably haven't, keep on your guard.

- According to Reuters, the White House is once again threatening to veto the Defense Appropriations bill if it contains an amendment (backed by John McCain and John Warner, the two highest-ranking Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, among others) that would regulate the treatment of enemy combatants held in American custody around the world. As I wrote endlessly back in June-July when this amendment was introduced, it is an absolutely necessary amendment to ensure that our men and women in uniform have clear guidelines on prisoner treatment, so that we never again have scandals like those seen at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. The Senate should insist on this amendment, and the president should accept it.

- A bill moving through the Senate pipelines should be worrisome to us all ... the LATimes reports today that the Intelligence Committee recently approved legislation as part of the intel appropriations bill that would "end a long-standing requirement that military intelligence officers disclose their government ties when approaching an American citizen in the United States - a law designed to protect Americans from domestic intelligence activities by the Defense Department."

- Finally a little bit of fun - via PoliticalWire, this site lists the nicknames President Bush has bestowed upon people: his family, his aides, members of Congress, reporters, foreign leaders, etc. It's an annoying habit, in my opinion, but at least somewhat amusing.


At 10:07 AM, Blogger Phil S said...

Jeremy, regards Obama; be sure and read some of the ANTI-Obama diaries at dKos before you post-some were quite strong in their disapproval of what Obama had to say. I, for one, agree with much of what he had to say; that said, I think there are times the Dems (and centrists) should be more vocal in their outrage about many of BushCo actions.


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