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Bush to Karzai: Will You Just Shut Up About Iran?

Things got a little testy at the Camp David Summit between Afghan President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and American President George Bush.

Karzai, who when he is in the U.S. is expected to act as a puppet of the Bush administration, made the mistake of actually speaking his mind. In a CNN interview broadcast Sunday, the Afghan president said terrorism in Afghanistan is getting worse, that the hunt for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is at a standstill and, then, he described Iran as a positive player -- "a helper and a solution" -- in the region.

All of these statements are objectively true.

But George Bush does not deal in the realm of truth. And he certainly does not like his puppet presidents getting off their strings.

On the eve of the summit, Karzai told CNN that:

1. "The security situation in Afghanistan over the past two years has definitely deteriorated. The Afghan people have suffered. Terrorists have killed our schoolchildren. They have burned our schools. They have killed international helpers."

2. "We are not closer (to catching bin Laden), we are not further away from it. We are where we were a few years ago."

3. "So far, Iran has been a helper (in the fight against terrorism)."

All of those statements, made by Karzai in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on the eve of his trip to Camp David, were corrected by Bush upon the Afghan president's arrival.

On the security situation, Bush told Karzai not to believe what he was seeing on the ground in Afghanistan. "There is still work to be done, don't get me wrong," Bush said. "But progress is being made."

On the bin Laden search, Bush spoke of how the hunt is progressing and declared that, "With real actionable intelligence, we will get the job done."

On Iran's positive role in the region, Bush again told Karzai not to believe his own experience but instead to accept the neoconservative version of events. "I would be very cautious about whether or not the Iranian influence there in Afghanistan is a positive force," the American president pointedly told the Afghan president.

So there you have it, a meeting of the minds Bush-style.

A foreign leader from a region of supreme interest to the United States comes to Camp David to brief the American president on what is going on. The foreign leader speaks his mind, offering his best assessment of the experience he is living. Then the president tells the visitor from abroad that he is wrong.

As Bush famously declared at a policy session in 2005, "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."

And it is just so damned inconvenient when a puppet who is supposed to help spread the propaganda instead messes everything up by talking about what is really happening.

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John Nichols' new book is THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure forRoyalism. Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson hails it as a "nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use ofthe 'heroic medicine' that is impeachment with a call for Democraticleaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by thefounders for the defense of our most basic liberties.'"

Mea Culpa Time

It's a bad Sunday when I don't agree with Frank Rich. His brilliant, elegant New York Times column has consistently and mercilessly exposed the cruelty, folly and hypocrisy of government and media war supporters.

Yesterday, in an otherwise superb column, Rich praised a New York Times Magazine piece by former war supporter Michael Ignatieff as an "eloquent mea culpa." Judge for yourself.

I read Ignatieff's August 5 piece of repentance--""Getting Iraq Wrong: What the War Has Taught Me about Political Judgment"--as an apology that features everything except remorse. As a friend wrote me this morning, the piece reads like "a positioning statement for the political aspirations of Mr. Michael Ignatieff; advice to the reader on the exceptional connections and insider's knowledge enjoyed by Mr. Michael Ignatieff; expressions of disdain for the academic discipline that Mr. Michael Ignatieff used to take money for teaching. And why was this serious, honest, morally profound Ignatieff so wrong about the Iraq war? Actually, he doesn't say. He just accuses the people who were right for having had the wrong reasons. We didn't really know anything, you see. We were just being ideologues."

A new report by Oxfam out last week reveals that the war has produced a huge rise in poverty, disease and malnutrition. Some 43 percent of Iraqis live in absolute poverty; a third of the population depends on emergency aid, but over 30 percent of the people who have been displaced by fighting or sectarian murder have lost access to the subsidized food rations on which they used to rely. Some two million have fled their homes to neighboring countries, the entire region is thrown into bloody chaos, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed or maimed, close to 4,000 US men and women are dead and thousands more grievously wounded.

Yet it wasn't Ignatieff's fault but ours--those who opposed this unnecessary and disastrous war, those who, as he puts it, "correctly anticipated catastrophe but did so not by exercising judgment but by indulging in ideology."

It was a keen sense of history and clear judgment--not the ideology displayed by neoliberal hawks like Ignatieff--that led this magazine and other war opponents to understand how disastrously it would end. Mr. Ignatieff--time for a real "mea culpa"?

An Overwhelming Vote for Waste, Earmarks and Corruption

In a Congress where it has become fashionable to gripe about earmarks of a few hundred thousand dollars to pay for small-town museums and urban parks – and, until last week, for construction and repair of bridges – the most expensive waste and corruption is always contained in the annual Department of Defense appropriation. Nowhere in the whole of the budgetary blueprint for allocating tax dollars could a serious observer of federal programs find more bloat, inefficiency, hidden excess and overt overspending that in the Defense plan.

Yet, while members in both parties preach from their bully pulpits about the need to do away with earmarks, the House with virtually no debate on Sunday approved $459.6 billion in new money for the Pentagon. You want earmarks? "This bill has more than 1,300 earmarks. The notion that these had proper review is simply not reasonable," said Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican who gave a good speech but still joined the overwhelming majority of House members in voting for every one of those earmarks – and the rest of the $459.6 billion in spending.

Of course, that amount does not include the extra $147 billion in Iraq war funding that the Bush administration has demanded that Congress approve when the Congress returns from its August recess.

Nor does it include the include the various and sundry additional requests to cover nuclear weapons costs, international FBI expenses, the rising demands of the General Services Administration's National Defense Stockpile and Selective Services requirements. Add on debt costs attributable to defense spending and, according to authoritative Center for Defense Information estimates, U.S. taxpayers will dole out at least $878 billion to cover military costs in 2008.

As CDI notes, the final total "will probably be even more."

The key word there is "probably," because even the most skilled analysts can never place a precise figure on what the Pentagon is or will be spending.

What is certain is the fact – confirmed by conservative and liberal analysts – that the bloated defense budget contains waste on a scale unimaginable to even the most ardent earmarkers.

So why was there no serious debate on the Pentagon budget? It's not just that the Bush administration and its Republican allies in Congress continue to use the war on terror as an excuse to enrich defense contractors such as Dick Cheney's Halliburton. As Winslow Wheeler, a veteran of 31 years working with mostly Republican senators on defense issues and a former assistant director of evaluations of national defense programs with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, "Now in control of Congress and having made multiple promises to restore oversight of the war in Iraq and the executive branch in general, the Democrats have been successfully rolled by the White House, the military services, and the big spender pundits."

Adds Wheeler, who now directs CDI's Straus Military Reform Project, "Knowing a patsy when they see one, the defense contractors are now piling on…" And they are getting a lot more "free money" than any of the communities across the U.S. that hope for a tiny earmark here or there to pay for a new bike path or a polka museum.

So how many members of the House refused to get rolled? Not many. The final vote on the Pentagon appropriation for the 2008 fiscal year was 395-13. The "no" votes came from: California's Bob Filner, Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey, Georgia's John Lewis, Massachusetts' Barney Frank, Minnesota's Keith Ellison, New York's Nydia Velázquez, Oregon's Earl Blumenauer; New Jersey's Donald Payne, Ohio's Dennis Kucinich, Washington's Jim McDermott and Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin – all Democrats – and a single Republican "fiscal conservative": Michigan's Vernon Ehlers.

Twenty-four additional members, 14 Republicans and 10 Democrats, did not vote. Two Republican presidential candidates were among their number: Texan Ron Paul and Colorado's Tom Tancredo.

Kucinich, it should be noted, is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

So far, he is the only contender for the presidency to actually come out against the most excessive and irresponsible spending in the federal budget.

Other presidential candidates – Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd an Joe Biden and Republicans John McCain and Sam Brownback – will have a chance to vote on the Pentagon spending bill after the August recess.

How they vote will tell Americans everything that needs to be known about who is "fiscally responsible" and who is not.

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John Nichols' new book is THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure forRoyalism. Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson hails it as a "nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use ofthe 'heroic medicine' that is impeachment with a call for Democraticleaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by thefounders for the defense of our most basic liberties.'"

Blogging While Female

So far today I've watched Hillary Clinton take unscripted questions in a small room, seen Barack Obama wow a separate crowd of inquisitors, had Mike Gravel smartly answer something I asked him about eminent domain and was among a crowd of about 1,500 who witnessed an entertaining debate among the Democratic contenders (minus Joe Biden).

But, by far the most interesting and worthwhile thing I saw today at the Yearly Kos Convention, the largest gathering of political bloggers to date taking place this weekend in Chicago, was a panel on blogging while female organized and moderated by The American Prospect's Garance Franke-Ruta. Featuring Jessica Valenti, Amanda Marcotte and Gina Cooper, the panel asked what happened to the long-lost idea that gender was of no consequence on the Internet--that voice and content were all that mattered. The ensuing conversation cut to the heart of critical issues facing users (and abusers) of the Internet, especially, but not only, women. It was also funny, entertaining, inspiring and, most importantly, intent on continuing to build on the strong foundation these pioneers have laid for the coming generation of female political bloggers.

There was relief that the debate has moved beyond the silly question, "Where are the women bloggers?" The answer is that they've been around as long as blogs, it just took their male counterparts a little while to recognize and start linking to them. And, now, as Cooper, the lead organizer for the convention explained, women are well-represented in leadership positions at Yearly Kos as well as at many A-List blogs.

So the issue currently is how to best band together to thwart the obstacles to the continued deployment of the promise of the medium for empowerment. The detailing of countless efforts by unnamed cyber-idiots to try to silence these voices was sobering--Valenti even made the point that online harassment, in important respects, can be more threatening than the off-line variety as you can't gauge its seriousness--but their stories of push-back were transcendent.

I wish I had more time to recount all the many insights of the panel but the Teamsters are hosting a BBQ and I'm late. (Parties are paramount here at Yearly Kos, as at most political conventions!) Those of you well-versed with the liberal blogosphere will be familiar with the online exploits of the panelists. But many Nation readers probably don't regularly read Marcotte on Pandagon, Valenti on Feministing, Cooper at her eponymous blog as well as at Daily Kos and Franke-Ruta at Tapped and TheGarance.com. Check them out if you don't already. Their sites are a great place to steer anyone still inexplicably wondering about the supposed dearth of females in the blogosphere.

Lieberman v. Feingold and the Constitution

During Friday's debate in the US Senate on various proposals to alter the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, Connecticut's sort-of-Democrat, sort-of-Independent, but always loyal to the Bush White House when it comes to debates on how to conduct the War on Terror senator angrily objected to the fact that the chamber was even discussing the difficult challenge of balancing the need to gather intelligence with the requirement that civil liberties be protected.

Joe Lieberman, who in an appearance last Sunday on ABC's This Week referred to efforts to assure that any reform of FISA take into account the right of American citizens to be free from unwarranted government surveillance as "nonsense," told the Senate on Friday that he regretted his colleagues were debating the issue.

In Lieberman's view, congressional oversight of Bush-Cheney Administration moves to expand spying programs amounts to "fiddling" at a time when he just wants to "figure out how to pass a law to modernize this electronic surveillance capacity." The Connecticut Senator's no fiddler. He gruffly told the Senate that it must enact a plan, crafted largely by the White House to dramatically expand President Bush's authority to eavesdrop on suspected foreign terrorists without court warrants.

Lieberman got most of what he wanted, in the form of a six-month expansion of presidential spying powers. That happened because Lieberman and a number of other members of the Democratic caucus voted to cede the authority of the legislative branch to that of the executive branch on a 60-28 division.

The House failed to do the same, however, so the debate that so frustrates the Connecticut Senator continues.

Lieberman's impatience with the dialogue is rooted in the legislator's dismay that matters usually discussed behind closed doors by shadowy men with the highest security clearances--and a few friendly senators --were being reviewed in an open and transparent matter.

Lieberman is a lawyer. Indeed, he is a former state Attorney General.

But he is anything but a Constitutional scholar, let alone a senator who takes seriously the oath he swore to "support and defend the Constitution"--a document that, it should be noted, includes an amendment reading: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Thankfully, another member of the Senate, Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, feels himself duty-bound to respect the Constitution, and to preserve the rights it outlines.

After Lieberman lodged his complaints, Feingold addressed the Senate.

"Mr. President, let me just respond a bit to what the Senator from Connecticut just indicated.," said Feingold, who was the only member of the chamber to vote against the draconian USA Patriot Act in the Fall of 2001, and who now proposes censuring President Bush for abusing civil liberties and Constitutional requirements in the years since then. "At times of war we don't give up our responsibility in the U.S. Senate to review and make laws. The notion that we simply defer this to the Director of National Intelligence and whatever he says is an abdication of our duties especially in time of war."

To Lieberman's expression of frustration with the fact that intelligence initiatives, such as the Administration's spying program, were being discussed in an open forum, Feingold replied, "The senator regrets we're debating this and some of these very important matters that are generally kept secret are being discussed; I agree, but why aren't they secret? Because the administration was conducting an illegal wiretapping program, and somebody inappropriately blew the lid on it. That wasn't the doing of anybody in this body. That was due to the incompetence and inappropriate conduct of this administration in the first place."

Feingold sees himself as a senator, as as such as a member of a branch of government that is co-equal with the executive branch. It was in that role that he objected to the decision of the chamber to give in to the president's demands for more spying authority. "The day we start deferring to someone who's not a member of this body ... is a sad day for the US Senate," said the Wisconsinite, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution. "We make the policy--not the executive branch."

On that point, unfortunately, Feingold was wrong--at least temporarily.

As long as Lieberman can muster the needed Democratic votes to help the White House's Republican allies give the president whatever authority he demands, senators do not make the policy. The White House does. So Friday was, indeed, a sad day--for the Senate, for the Constitution and for the Republic.

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John Nichols' new book is THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure forRoyalism. Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson hails it as a "nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use ofthe 'heroic medicine' that is impeachment with a call for Democraticleaders to 'reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by thefounders for the defense of our most basic liberties.'"

Exposing Block & Blame Conservatives

No progress on ending the war. No advances on new energy policy. No movement on health care costs. Why is Congress gridlocked?

There has been much smart debate over this vexing question at Yearly Kos, the annual convention of the country's progressive bloggers, currently taking place in Chicago. Different factors prevail but a main one is the GOP's conscious strategy of tying up any potential progress that could come out of Congress as an amusing and effective new video starring Jason Alexander and made by Julie Bergman-Sender suggests.

The video premiered yesterday at the confab with the sponsorship of the Campaign for America's Future. Bergman-Sender is the innovative film producer and media strategist who was responsible for the great Will Ferrell ACT video from two years ago. This time around she's transformed Alexander into a Harry Potter-inspired character called Rovemort who stands at the center of the vast right-wing conspiracy. In her presentation at Yearly Kos Bergman-Sender talked about her hopes that the video will be useful as a tool to pre-empt the Republican contention that this Democratic Congress is a "do nothing" body.

The truth is, as she explained, that as far back as January, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear that he would insist on a 60-vote majority, rather than a simple 50-vote majority, for getting bills through the Senate, claiming that this is "the ordinary procedure." But it's not, as the Campaign for America's Future has painstakingly documented. The reality is that McConnell's abuse of Senate procedures to block the majority will on legislation is "unprecedented" according to CAF. Senate Republicans have launched 43 filibusters on popular reforms in the first seven months of this Congress. That's on pace to triple the previous record. McConnell and Senate Republicans like the filibuster now, but they felt differently when Democrats used it far more sparingly in the 109th Congress against President Bush's most extreme judicial nominees.

Watch the video, pass it on and then click here to tell the Senate obstructionists to stop blocking progress on Iraq, energy policy, health care and more. And check out Ari Melber's Nation reports as well as Garance Franke-Ruta and Ezra Klein at Tapped, among many others, for more on Yearly Kos.

Now That's a Patriot Act

Now here is a Patriot Act everyone can get behind. It's called the Patriot Corporation of America Act and it rewards the companies that don't screw their employees and weaken the country by moving the jobs to China and elsewhere.

In these troubled times, doesn't that sound like common sense? Government policy presently works in opposite ways. It literally assists and subsidizes the disloyal free riders who boost their profits by dumping their obligations to the home country. It's called globalization. Establishment wisdom says there is nothing politicians can do about it.

But the bills introduced Thursday by three senators and seven representatives, all Democrats, can begin to reverse this political perversity. Don't expect a roll call anytime soon, but I think the governing principle is pivotally important.

And some Democrats have come up with a potent new version of patriotic politics. While the nation is fighting this ugly, costly war in Iraq, employers should be doing their part to defend the homeland. Will Republican warriors want to vote against that?

The House and Senate bills appear to be differ slightly but pursue the same goal. In the House, a "Patriot Corporation" would get tax breaks and preferences in federal contracting for employers who produce at least 90 percent of their goods and services in the US and with American workers. The companies must invest in research and development domestically, provide adequate health care and pensions and--surprise--comply with federal laws like workplace safety, environmental protection and consumer regulations.

The Senate's "Patriot Employers" version would give a 1 percent tax credit on taxable income for companies that maintain or increase their US employment in relation to their overseas workers. They must also keep their corporate headquarters in the US. The Senate bill adds a "living wage" requirement. Its initial co-sponsors are Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Dick Durbin and Barack Obama of Illinois. Obama's sponsorship, I would guess, may attract other celebrated names.

House co-sponsors are the same nucleus of progressives pushing party leaders to undertake a thorough revamp of US policy on globalization and trade. They are Schakowsky and Hare of Illinois, Sutton and Ryan of Ohio, Woolsey of California, Kagen of Wisconsin and Ellison of Minnesota. Senator Brown and Rep. Jan Schakowsky endorse both House and Senate versions.

The principle at stake is straightforward. Multinational corporations cannot continue to have it both ways--moving more and more value-added production and jobs offshore to capture cheap labor, while still enjoying all of the rewards and benefits of claiming American identity. It's not just the outrageous tax breaks. The American military defends their freedom to operate around the globe.

These measures can be the beginning of tough new policies on globalization. They are quite limited in scope, but a good start. Thousands of small to mid-sized manufacturing firms that do not offshore their production should salute the initiative since the incentives are intended for them. The rewards are modest gestures at this point. The real fight begins when Congress proposes penalties--higher taxes--for those unpatriotic companies that left home.

The Weekly Standard's Strange Sources

The war in Iraq has sparked a parallel war between two of Washington's most prominent partisan political publications, The New Republic and the Weekly Standard. The war has been akin to the ongoing seige of Baghdad's Green Zone, with the Standard playing the role of Iraqi insurgents, lobbing mortars over the Green Zone gates while TNR rushes to shore up its defenses.

The war began on July 13, when The New Republic published a "Baghdad Diary" by "Scott Thomas," an Army private writing under a pseudonym about U.S. atrocities in Iraq. Thomas described his participation in the mockery of a female soldier disfigured by an IED, claimed he witnessed troops intentionally running over dogs in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and alleged that another soldier played with the skulls of dead Iraqi children.

In attempt to challenge the wild notion that atrocities could occur amidst a violent occupation, the neoconservative Weekly Standard's Matthew Goldfarb published an article declaring that TNR's Baghdad Diary was "looking more like fiction." Goldfarb's piece relied on a series of letters supposedly sent to him by active-duty soldiers that raised questions about the veracity of TNR's story.

As a result of intensifying attacks from the Standard and right-wing blogs -- attacks amplified by the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz -- Thomas was forced to reveal his identity: Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp. According to Foer, the Army punished Beauchamp by revoking his cellphone and email privileges. Right-wing bloggers subsequently seized on TRN editor-in-chief Franklin Foer's disclosure that Beauchamp is engaged to TNR reporter and researcher Elspeth Reeve.

Beauchamp has placed his career in extreme jeopardy and subjected his private life to the scrutiny of right-wing trolls, all to confirm his published account of U.S. atrocities in Iraq. TNR for its part has just completed a review of Beauchamp's diary and found only one minor error. Now it is up to Goldfarb and his allies to back up their incendiary charges. Who are the Standard's sources? Are they reliable? And if they are, why did the Standard omit key details about their backgrounds?

Among all the active duty soldiers used by Goldfarb to undermine Beauchamp, only one is cited by name: Matt Sanchez, a corporal in the Marine reserves. "Frankly, I don't believe ANY of this story," Sanchez proclaimed in the Standard about Beauchamp's diary. Who is Sanchez? According to Goldfarb, he is simply a soldier "who stands behind his work."

But Sanchez is more than a mere man in uniform. As I reported for Media Matters today, Sanchez is also a conservative pro-war activist whose bio includes a stint as the gay porn actor Rod Majors, (star of such filmic classics as "Beat Off Frenzy") and an illustrious part-time job as a male prostitute -- facts he has acknowledged "leaving ... off my curriculum vitae."

More importantly, Sanchez has been under investigation by the Marine Corps for fraud. According to an April 1 Marine Corps Times article, Sanchez was informed in a March 22 email from Reserve Col. Charles Jones, a staff judge advocate, that he was under investigation for lying "'to various people, including but not limited to, representatives of the New York City United War Veterans Council [UWVC] and U-Haul Corporation' about deploying to Iraq at the commandant's request." The email added: "'Specifically, you wrongfully solicited funds to support your purported deployment to Iraq' by coordinating a $300 payment from the UWVC and $12,000 from U-Haul."

There is no excuse for Goldfarb's omission of these facts about Sanchez. They were easily accessible through a simple Google search of Sanchez's name, and have been the talk of the blogosphere for some time. I wrote extensively about Sanchez for the Huffington Post in March and appeared on a segment of Countdown with Keith Olbermann to discuss his strange double life. Sanchez has also been profiled by Radar and by numerous bloggers. He even penned a long auto-apologia for Salon.com about his path from porn to the conservative movement. Couldn't Goldfarb find a better on-the-record source? Apparently not.

The efforts of Sanchez and right-wing bloggers to take Beauchamp down were allegedly supported by a TNR staffer with a bizarre background. I just received a letter from a source close to TNR. The source wrote:

One reason Beauchamp had to go public was that conservative bloggers were tracking him down. And the reason they were was that a temp who was working as assistant for our publisher was leaking like crazy to right-wing websites. Not that he knew much, but he was hanging around, he went to a going away party for Ryan [Lizza] at frank's [Frank Foer] house, eavesdropping and then posting on right-wing websites.

 

That's how they found out about Scott being married to Ellie [Elspeth Reeve].

Anyway, the guy's name is Robert McGee. His online pseudonym: Throbert McGee. Not real hard to track down (especially when he's posting that he works at TNR.)

 

After a little Googling, I found that "Throbert McGee" (seen here embracing his "longtime sidekick Juan") once kept a "blinkin' blog" where he posted about "Faggot fixer-upper wallpaper" and linked to the overtly racist right-wing blog, "Little Green Footballs." On the forum of another conservative blog, Throbert commented favorably about Matt Sanchez's "11" Monster Cock." Throbert also used this forum as his platform to attack Beauchamp and leak information to conservative bloggers about Beauchamp's private life.

I hear there are darker postings by Throbert lurking in the blogosphere, but I will leave it to his right-wing mouthpieces to explain those. And I will wait for the Weekly Standard's Goldfarb to come clean about Sanchez and the rest of the unnamed "active duty soldiers and various experts" he used as sources. So far, the silence is deafening.

Hillary Silent on Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch's takeover of the Wall Street Journal this week is drawing the ire of some Democrats running for President.

Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd called the deal "a serious threat to our democracy." John Edwards urged fellow Democrats to oppose and block the merger and refuse campaign contributions from News Corp execs.

But the Democratic frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, hasn't said a peep. Perhaps that's because Clinton has been courting the Aussie billionaire since she became a New York Senator---and vice versa. Murdoch threw a lavish fundraiser for her at the News Corp tower last year. And he and son James, the heir apparent, both wrote big checks to Clinton's presidential campaign this June. Nine News Corp executives have thus far given a total of $20,900 to Clinton this election cycle.

She calls him "smart and effective." He calls her "a good Senator" and "very, very gutsy originally on the war in Iraq."

So you see, the Journal is not Murdoch's only recent prize.