Saturday, November 19, 2005

Saturday Catchup

Tara Esler, a physical therapist and therapy director, and Negar Adlib, physical therapist, at work at the Children's Center in Washington DC

Is it then not a mistake to precipitate the time of awakening? Not the greatest master can go even one step for his disciple; in himself he must experience each stage of developing consciousness. Therefore he will know nothing for which he is not ripe.

---De Lubicz

I gave up my house
and set out into homelessness.
I gave up my child, my cattle,
and all that I loved.
I gave up desire and hate.
My ignorance was thrown out.
I pulled out craving
along with its root.
Now I am quenched and still.


Seek simplicity and distrust it.

---Alfred North Whitehead

My early Saturday morning coffee usually is spent scouring through the online newspapers. I try to read more carefully stories I only had time to glance at through the week...and usually Washington sources like to sneak out releases late Friday afternoon they hope will be lost in Friday night and Saturday afternoon football activities. I do all this before going to my favorite blog sites for the more cutting edge stuff. I've found this week's main stories rather earthshaking.

The NY Times arrived in this emailbox a couple hours late this morning...and no wonder. For the second night in a row, the House of Representatives went into loud extra innings fighting over the war in Iraq and budget cuts to education and Medicaid. Last night's debate was on a hastily-drawn resolution to support the President's vow this morning to stay the course "until we have achieved the victory that our brave troops have fought for."

"The battle boiled over when Representative Jean Schmidt, an Ohio Republican who is the most junior member of the House, told of a phone call she had just received from a Marine colonel back home.
"'He asked me to send Congress a message: stay the course,' Ms. Schmidt said. 'He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, Marines never do.'
"Democrats booed in protest and shouted Ms. Schmidt down in her attack on Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, a Vietnam combat veteran and one of the House's most respected members on military matters. They caused the House to come to an abrupt standstill, and moments later, Representative Harold Ford, Democrat of Tennessee, charged across the chamber's center aisle to the Republican side screaming that Ms. Schmidt's attack had been unwarranted.
"'You guys are pathetic!' yelled Representative Martin Meehan, Democrat of Massachusetts. 'Pathetic.'
"The measure to withdraw the troops failed in a 403-to-3 vote late Friday night."

If I had C-Span I'd be watching these sessions, and I haven't turned on the radio or TV yet this morning; but Thursday night's fight got a soundbyte on NPR's Friday morning news. I must say I've never heard our Congress sound like this. The 2 sides were shouting at each other like some of the legislative bodies that have struggled in Eastern Europe. It's not like the comparatively sedate shouting in the House of Commons. It sounds like fists are ready to fly. The argument was about this~~~

"The health-education-labor bill was headed for completion Thursday until a band of House Republicans joined Democrats in voting to defeat the measure, which would cut spending by $1.4 billion.
"The cuts would have hit social programs including children's health, Head Start preschool programs for poor children, job training, drug abuse programs, and money for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

Yesterday's Washington Post ran a moving account of what the proposed Medicaid cuts will mean to families in all walks of life who are caring for disabled children. Do click on the photo there for a very brief slide show of some of those beautiful people.

That previous Post story up above is a good summary of the various appropriation bills under discussion...including of course a $3100 a year pay raise for our Congresspeople. The Associated Press story on that one is seeing the most print.

The other story that has captured my attention this morning is about the Plame Affair. Yesterday Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced he will appear before a new grand jury to continue his investigation. On Thursday "a group of former intelligence officers urged President Bush not to pardon anyone convicted of leaking Valerie Plame's name to reporters and to pull security clearances of any White House officials implicated in the investigation.
"Plame's husband went on the airwaves urging the Washington Post to conduct an inquiry into why top reporter Bob Woodward kept his editor in the dark about an interview 17 months ago with a senior administration official about Plame's identity and her work at the CIA, a conversation a month before another journalist published her name."

The Post seems to be responding to both the New York Times (and their approach with Judith Miller) and to Joseph Wilson's appeal with an editorial this morning~~~

WE'VE SAID from the start of the investigation into the leak of Valerie Plame's identity that if administration officials deliberately set out to unmask a secret agent, they should be punished. But we've also said that, absent evidence of such behavior, criminalizing communication by officials to journalists would run counter to the public interest. Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation is continuing -- he said yesterday he's going back to a grand jury -- and new facts may come to light. But the principle remains valid: It's not in the public interest for reporters to be forced to reveal their confidential sources in cases such as this. That's why Post reporter Bob Woodward should not be vilified for protecting the identity of his source in this complex affair.
Here we remind readers that the editorial page operates separately from those who gather and publish news in The Post. Mr. Woodward doesn't answer to us, and he has no input on our page. Like other interested observers, we have noted that Executive Editor Leonard Downie, to whom Mr. Woodward does report, has faulted his investigative reporter for failing to tell him sooner what was going on and for expressing personal opinions on television about the Fitzgerald investigation, and Mr. Woodward has apologized. Both rebukes strike us as reasonable -- as does Mr. Downie's characterization of Mr. Woodward as "one of the most careful, accurate and fair journalists I have ever worked with."
But the Woodward flap has significance beyond The Post's newsroom. The longtime Post reporter disclosed this week that, while conducting research for a book, he received information from an administration official about Ms. Plame before her identity was revealed by Robert D. Novak in a July 2003 column. That information was potentially relevant to Fitzgerald's investigation and to a news story that has been extensively covered in this and other papers. Mr. Woodward said he told one Post reporter at the time what he had learned but did not disclose the source. Mr. Woodward recently testified to the prosecutor, with the source's permission and after the source had spoken with Mr. Fitzgerald, but still (again according to his agreement) has not publicly identified the source.
Much of the public finds the media's extensive use of confidential sources objectionable, and understandably so. Their use should be as limited as possible. When they are relied upon, reporters should impart as much information as possible about the sources' motives. Those guidelines are accepted but too often ignored by the press.
But over the years innumerable cases of official corruption and malfeasance have come to light thanks to sources being able to count on confidentiality. It's astonishing to see so many people -- especially in the journalism establishment -- forget that now. Many of those who condemn Mr. Woodward applauded when The Post recently revealed the existence of CIA prisons around the world, a story that relied on unnamed sources.
Is there a distinction to be made based on the motives of the leakers? If so, Mr. Woodward might have had to pass up his first big scoops three decades ago, because his Watergate source, Deep Throat -- recently revealed as FBI official W. Mark Felt -- was disgruntled at having been passed over for the post of FBI director. Newspapers face difficult questions all the time in evaluating the reliability of sources and the appropriateness of publishing their secrets. But if potential sources come to believe that they cannot count on promises of confidentiality, more than the media will suffer.
© 2005 The Washington Post Company

This latest development, involving Woodward and Fitzgerald's announcement, has brought comment from John Dean (his bio is here ). You may have seen him last night on David Brancaccio's NOW on PBS, where he affirmed again he thinks the prosecutor may have Cheney "in his sights." A couple weeks ago John Dean wrote about the possibility of a Cheney-Libby conspiracy in his column at Yesterday his column presented an Open Letter to Patrick Fitzgerald. If you enjoy legal intricacies...or just are impatient about what's going on, you may want to read this~~~

I think that's about it. Time for breakfast and all those Saturday chores! Peace.

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