Saturday, August 11, 2007


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The New York Times

August 11, 2007
Political Memo

Appearing Now on a TV Near You? Surely a Debate

DES MOINES, Aug. 10 - There was a time when running for president of theUnited States meant visiting with voters in New Hampshire living rooms,eating your way across the Iowa State Fair, delivering speeches and raisingmoney.

These days, running for president has also become a marathon test of analtogether different skill: debating. This campaign has turned into amind-numbing blur of 90- and 120-minute debates and forums that has consumedthe Democratic candidates in particular. They are trudging from coast tocoast at the beck and call of television networks, unions, state politicalparties and whoever else may want to throw them together on stage in frontof a television camera and a blinking red and green light.

In this Summer of Debates, Democrats appeared before bloggers in Chicagolast Saturday, union members in Chicago on Tuesday and gay leaders in LosAngeles on Thursday. The Republicans, with fewer organized interest groupsand thus fewer such demands, debated here in Des Moines last Sunday morning.

The Democrats will be back here a week from this Sunday for anotherbright-and-early debate. The night before, there is a labor forum in CedarRapids, a two-hour drive away. And there is also a labor forum thisWednesday afternoon in Waterloo.

For those who remember the effort by the Democratic national chairman,Howard Dean, to limit the number of debates - at the request of candidateswho find them time-consuming and not particularly profitable - news flash:it failed.

And to what end?


The New York Times

August 11, 2007
The Need to Know

Like many in this country who were angered when Congress rushed torubber-stamp a bill giving President Bush even more power to spy onAmericans, we took some hope from the vow by Congressional Democrats torewrite the new law after summer vacation. The chance of undoing the damageis slim, unless the White House stops stonewalling and gives lawmakers andthe public the information they need to understand this vital issue.

Just before rushing off to their vacations, and campaign fund-raising, bothhouses tried to fix an anachronism in the 1978 Foreign IntelligenceSurveillance Act, which requires the government to get a warrant toeavesdrop on conversations and e-mail messages if one of the peoplecommunicating is inside the United States. The court that enforces the lawconcluded recently that warrants also are required to intercept messages ifthe people are outside the United States, but their communications arerouted through data exchanges here.

The House and Senate had sensible bills trying to fix that Internet-ageproblem, which did not exist in 1978. But that wasn't enough for Mr. Bushand his aides, who whipped up their usual brew of fear to kill off thosebills. Then they cowed the Democrats into passing a bill giving Mr. Bushpowers that go beyond even the illegal wiretapping he has been doing sincethe 9/11 attacks.

The new measure eviscerates the protections of FISA, allowing the attorneygeneral to decide when to eavesdrop - without a warrant - on any telephonecall or e-mail message, so long as one of the people communicating is"reasonably believed" to be outside the country. The courts have no realpower over such operations.


The New York Times

August 10, 2007
Analysts See 'Simply Incredible' Shrinking of Floating Ice in the Arctic

The area of floating ice in the Arctic has shrunk more this summer than inany other summer since satellite tracking began in 1979, and it has reachedthat record point a month before the annual ice pullback typically peaks,experts said yesterday.

The cause is probably a mix of natural fluctuations, like unusually sunnyconditions in June and July, and long-term warming from heat-trappinggreenhouse gases and sooty particles accumulating in the air, according toseveral scientists.

William L. Chapman, who monitors the region at the University of IllinoisUrbana-Champaign and posted a Web report on the ice retreat yesterday, saidthat only an abrupt change in conditions could prevent far more meltingbefore the 24-hour sun of the boreal summer set in September. "The meltingrate during June and July this year was simply incredible," Mr. Chapmansaid. "And then you've got this exposed black ocean soaking up sunlight andyou wonder what, if anything, could cause it to reverse course."


The Washington Post

Religious Investments

Faith-Based Groups Increasingly Turn to Wall Street to Push Their MoralAgendas
By G. Jeffrey MacDonald
Religion News Service
Saturday, August 11, 2007; B09

Religious activists with a moral agenda for corporate America used to relyprimarily on consumer boycotts and sympathetic lawmakers to get theattention of Wall Street.

But now their toolbox is growing -- and there's a lot more money it.

Over the past decade, America's market for religious investment products hasgrown by more than 3,500 percent, according to data from fund-trackerMorningstar Inc.

During the same period, faith-based mutual funds, which routinely agitatefor social change in corporate board rooms or shun stocks they deem immoral,grew from about $500 million to more than $17 billion.

What's emerging, observers say, is a market-based response to popular demandfor ways that people of faith can make their voices heard on issues closestto their hearts. And people of faith -- especially social conservatives --are seizing what they see as a new opportunity to make a difference.


The Washington Post

Raising a Political Bigot
By Catherine Rampell
Saturday, August 11, 2007; A17

A message to my elders: Grow up.

For a while now you've been trying to drag the voting-age members of mygeneration, the so-called MySpace Generation, into your festering pool ofpartisanship. Now, apparently, you're going after our generation's youngestmembers.

I'm referring to a few highly publicized children's books that deal withpartisan politics, the most well-known being "Why Mommy is a Democrat" and"Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed!" These books (which have sold22,000 and 30,000 copies, respectively) teach young kids which party is thebringer of goodness and light and which is the party of destruction and thedevil, all with the help of a few cuddly animals and some less cuddlycaricatures. Both have been Internet sensations, with a seemingly endlesssupply of fawning and fuming customer reviews on and otherheavily trafficked sites. Both have messages about sharing, fairness, safetyand greed. And both, oddly enough, have Web sites that prominently feature atestimonial from Rush Limbaugh (one positive and one negative, of course).Support from such partisans has inspired follow-up books, including "Help!Mom! The 9th Circuit Nabbed the Nativity!"

Now, I don't begrudge parents the ability to teach kids their "moralvalues," whatever they may be. There's also nothing wrong with parents'putting politics in the mouths of babes. Even Dr. Seuss's books werebrimming with political lessons and allegories, from "The Lorax" (aboutenvironmentalism) to "Yertle the Turtle" (modeled on Hitler). More recently,books such as "Heather Has Two Mommies" have created healthy nationaldialogues, exposing kids to different points of view.


The Washington Post

How We Won the Mainstream
By Susan Gardner and Markos Moulitsas
Saturday, August 11, 2007; A17

Three years ago things looked bleak for the Democratic Party. George Bushhad just won a second term while his party consolidated its grip onCongress. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay crowed about a "permanentRepublican majority," and Beltway Democrats acquiesced as Republicans builttheir unchallenged (and lawless) unitary executive.

Democrats appeared to be on the run, disorganized and demoralized. Butoutside of Washington there was hope. Grass-roots Democratic activists hadseen the future of our politics in Howard Dean -- plain-spoken andunapologetic. His presidential candidacy had come up short, but its fresh,optimistic approach -- predicated on offering clear contrasts between thetwo parties -- was poised to redefine the party.

Dean was elected chairman of the Democratic Party despite predictions ofelectoral doom by the usual suspects in Washington, including the DemocraticLeadership Council. In the House, Democrats chose Nancy Pelosi to lead themover current DLC Chairman Harold Ford, who warned of disaster if Pelosi won.Calling her a "throwback" who practiced a "destructive and obstructive"style of politics, Ford proclaimed, "I don't think Nancy Pelosi's kind ofpolitics is what's needed right now." Today, Nancy Pelosi is the firstfemale speaker of the House.

Ford, like his fellow Washington insiders, grossly misunderstood theAmerican electorate. He and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley continue to do so[" Our Chance to Capture the Center," op-ed, Aug. 7].


The Washington Post

India's Tough Choice on Iran
By Sadanand Dhume
Special to's Think Tank Town
Saturday, August 11, 2007; 12:00 AM

With last month's consummation of a landmark agreement to cooperate with theUnited States on civilian nuclear programs, India took another large stridefrom the periphery to the center of the global order. Not many countries canboast a special relationship with the world's sole superpower, an economythat's expanding at upwards of 8 percent per year, and a democracy laudedfor holding together a billion people of every conceivable class, color andcreed.

Indeed, at times it seems as though most everyone has reason to smile upon arising India. For idealists here's proof that democracy belongs as much topoor countries as to rich ones, and that you don't have to choose betweendemocracy and development. For realists, a large English-speaking country with a free market and rule of law is a reassuring presence in aneighborhood that includes both an unpredictable China and the turmoil ofPakistan and Afghanistan. For the first time since India's independence 60years ago the West appears willing to see it as the pivotal power in an arcstretching from Singapore to Aden.

But as the world adjusts to India's new clout, India itself is struggling tocome to terms with new responsibilities.


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