Monday, July 24, 2006



The high costs of keeping broadcasting decent


Over the past generation, under both Republican and Democratic
administrations, the federal government has staged a broad
retreat from broadcast regulation. Rules requiring balance in
presentations of public controversy, forcing networks to buy
programs from independent studios, limiting the number of
stations a single company can own -- all and much more have
been loosened or scrapped. But in one area regulators not only
haven't retreated, they have launched a fierce
counteroffensive. That's indecency. For decades, the Federal
Communications Commission's response to bad language was
largely confined to slapping around radio shock jocks for
outrageous sexual banter, a Washington Post compilation of
enforcement actions found. George Carlin's 1973 ''seven dirty
words'' broadcast made him famous, but it didn't cost him a
dime. If not for Howard Stern, who apparently has to ask all
his interviewees about their first sexual experiences, there
were perhaps a dozen fines exceeding four figures before the
new millennium.


The New York Times

July 24, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor

He Who Cast the First Stone Probably Didn't

LONG before seat belts or common sense were particularly
widespread, my family made annual trips to New York in our
1963 Valiant station wagon. Mom and Dad took the front seat,
my infant sister sat in my mother's lap and my brother and I
had what we called "the wayback" all to ourselves. In the
wayback, we'd lounge around doing puzzles, reading comics and
counting license plates. Eventually we'd fight. When our fight
had finally escalated to the point of tears, our mother would
turn around to chastise us, and my brother and I would start
to plead our cases. "But he hit me first," one of us would
say, to which the other would inevitably add, "But he hit me
harder." It turns out that my brother and I were not alone in
believing that these two claims can get a puncher off the
hook. In virtually every human society, "He hit me first"
provides an acceptable rationale for doing that which is
otherwise forbidden. Both civil and religious law provide long
lists of behaviors that are illegal or immoral - unless they
are responses in kind, in which case they are perfectly fine.


The Washington Post

Detainees, if Freed, Could Help U.S.

By James Hailer
Monday, July 24, 2006; A19

Since the Supreme Court's decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld ,
much ink has been devoted to what should be done about
prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I have a simple solution:
Turn 'em loose. Why? First, I think we may have extracted as
much intelligence as we are going to get from these guys. They
have served their purpose; they can go. Second, we could
finally shake the albatross of Guantanamo from our neck. A
friend of mine who recently returned from Switzerland said
that even though Europe was in the middle of World Cup frenzy
(with the Swiss playing well), the topic du jour at dinner was
not soccer but Guantanamo. Americans, for the most part,
ignore Guantanamo, but for the rest of the world, it is
front-page news. The sooner we bathe this wound the better.


The New York Times

July 24, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

Find a Better Way

It's too late now, but Israel could have used a friend in the
early stages of its war with Hezbollah - a friend who could
have tugged at its sleeve and said: "O.K. We understand. But
enough." That friend should have been the United States. It is
not difficult to understand both Israel's obligation to lash
back at the unprovoked attacks of Hezbollah, and the
longstanding rage and frustration that have led the Israelis
to attempt to obliterate, once and for all, this unrelenting
terrorist threat. Israelis are always targets for terror -
whether they are minding their own business in their homes, or
shopping at the mall, or taking a bus to work, or celebrating
the wedding of loved ones. (A quick example from a seemingly
endless list: An Israeli security guard prevented a
Palestinian suicide bomber from entering a mall in the seaside
town of Netanya last December. The bomber detonated his
explosives anyway, killing himself, the guard and four


July 24, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

Black and Blue

According to the White House transcript, here's how it went
last week, when President Bush addressed the N.A.A.C.P. for
the first time: THE PRESIDENT: "I understand that many
African-Americans distrust my political party." AUDIENCE:
"Yes! (Applause.)" But Mr. Bush didn't talk about why
African-Americans don't trust his party, and black districts
are always blue on election maps. So let me fill in the
blanks. First, G.O.P. policies consistently help those who are
already doing extremely well, not those lagging behind - a
group that includes the vast majority of African-Americans.
And both the relative and absolute economic status of blacks,
after improving substantially during the Clinton years, have
worsened since 2000.


American Bar Association Panel Criticizes Bush's Practice of
Challenges to New Laws

7/24/06 3:26AM GMT

By GINA HOLLAND , Associated Press Writer

President Bush's penchant for writing exceptions to laws he
has just signed violates the Constitution, an American Bar
Association task force says in a report highly critical of the
practice. The ABA group, which includes a one-time FBI
director and former federal appeals court judge, said the
president has overstepped his authority in attaching
challenges to hundreds of new laws. The attachments, known as
bill-signing statements, say Bush reserves a right to revise,
interpret or disregard measures on national security and
constitutional grounds. "This report raises serious concerns
crucial to the survival of our democracy," said the ABA's
president, Michael Greco. "If left unchecked, the president's
practice does grave harm to the separation of powers doctrine,
and the system of checks and balances that have sustained our
democracy for more than two centuries."