I'm a retired reporter now, which makes it hard to know how seriously to take the charges that the Obama administration is turning into something like Richard Nixon's. Dana Milbank in a Washington Post column called "Criminalizing Journalism" says that's more or less what's going on.
Milbank says, "The (James) Rosen affair is as flagrant an assault on the civi lliberties as anything done by George W. Bush's administration, and it uses technology to silence critics in a way Richard Nixon could only have dreamed of." Again, I'm not covering this, but Milbank is a serious reporter. So--wow.
The Justice Department seized Rosen's e-mails and phone records, tracked his movements – scrutinizing the newgathering trail of a journalist. Milbank says, treating "a reporter as a criminal for doing his job…deprives Americans of the First Amendment freedom on which all other constitutional rights are based." Again, wow.
I remember from a campaign more recent than Nixon's a one-word Obama slogan: Change. Please, Mr. President, stay there. Don't change back. That's something we just don't need – something I hope we would not stand for.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Monday, May 20, 2013
Washington is subject to little fits of scandal, or maybe scandal wannabee. We seem to be having one now.
Today's list includes a scandal over the Internal Revenue Service's scrutiny of conservative groups, another over the Justice Department's scrutiny of journalists, a third over Benghazi. I've seen headlines wondering if we are headed back to something like the bad old days of Richard Nixon. I was alive then and working then and, trust me, the answer is no. Or better, hell no.
We don't have an enemies list in this White House that I know of. No pro-Nixon group has broken into Democratic headquarters. And we have not, thank heavens, had the kind of anger amongst the pols and the people we had then.
Pols? We've not seen the president sweating under the lights saying things like, "I am not a crook." The House has not debated resolutions of impeachent against Obama as it did against Nixon. Back during Watergate Nixon supporters yelled at reporters covering the story, "We'll get you!" None of that now…so far.
The situation today really isn't so hysteria-fraught. Let's all take a deep breath and resolve not to go crazy. It's just Washinton; it'll pass.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
It must prove I used to cover politics. I find myself already wondering about 2016--another round--the Iowa caucuses, all that good stuff. I don't know who the candidates will be, of course, but on the Democratic side, at least, age will be a factor.
Vice President Biden has hinted he'll run. Only a fool would rule out Hillary Clinton. If either run and win, they'd be seventy, the oldest new president we've ever had. Ronald Reagan, my computer says, turned seventy during his first year in office. Still, people live longer than they used to; it could certainly happen.
There are too many Republican possibilities to worry about age. Their struggle is more likely to be ideological--between the moderates, who would trim some government programs, and the radicals, who would take an axe to entitlement programs--limit social security, maybe; limit or repeal medicare, and so on.
That will be an interesting and important battle with serious consequences for us all. No predictions--I'm not nearly smart enough to be calling winners that far down the road.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
When I was kid--long, long ago, I rooted for the Chicago Cubs baseball team. My excuse? I lived there and my dad was for them. They had an announcer who, when they won, would boom over the radio (no TV then), "Cubs win!" He never got a sore throat or any thing because they didn't--win, that is--very often. Never have they in all the years since. He'd have loved yesterday. They won--but hey, it wasn't their fault.
The Washington Nationals scored a run early. Just one, but their pitcher was throwing a no-hitter early. But the Cubs got a couple of singles and the Nats took him out. In the eighth a Cub singled, a pinch runner came in, went to second, then third, and then another Cub singled. Tie game; 1--1.
In the ninth, what turned out to be the winning run scored when a runner advanced after a foul ball was caught--yes, that's how it happened. Then the Nats came up--bottom of the ninth--and failed. I didn't hear anyone shout "Cubs win!"
I think they've forgotten the words.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Every once in a while, if you write a column, you sit in front of the computer wondering what to write about. I want to thank the voters of the First Congressional District in South Carolina for answering that question. I can write about the astounding election they had yesterday.
You may remember former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. He disappeared for five days telling his staff and security that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. Nope. Turned out he'd been in Argentina with his mistress. He dropped her, of course, as the scandal broke? Nope again. She is now his fiance and was with him on Tuesday, Election Day. He lost his job as governor? Nope. He kept his job but he did lose his wife. His mind? Well, that's another question, isn't it?
Now he is the newly elected Congressman Sanford.
What does this prove? True love conquers all? Well, his wife back when the scandal broke would probably argue with that. Congressmen are weird. Some, surely, but in this case weird was also lucky or blessed or whatever.
Once upon a time, before the scandal, some talked about Sanford as a presidential possibility. Now? Seems unlikely, but of course getting the House seat must have seemed pretty damned unlikely too.
Miracles happen. Maybe this guy has a special gift. You'd have to ask the voters in South Carolina.
Monday, May 6, 2013
How often do you get to report a miracle? The Washington Post has one today relegated, for reasons I don't understand, to page 5. "First leg of solar flight completed." The plane, powered by the sun, flew above the earth, landed in Phoenix. Might it some day travel toward the sun?
The story notes that the plane can store the sun's power, that it flew "for several hours after sundown."
The story says there are other solar planes--I didn't know that, but this is the most advanced. The pilot, Bernard Picard, said, "It's a little like being in a dream."
Most of the news these days is depressing--wars, sieges, plots, terror. This seems an act of joy, something that makes us proud of humankind,
Go, pioneers. Dream on and explore the heavens.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Jason Collins, a center for the National Basketball Association's Washington Wizards, has announced that he's gay. "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center" he told Sports illustrated, "I'm black and I'm gay."
It's a first for the NBA and, I think, for men in professional sports generally. There have been women, notably tennis stars like Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova. When King was outed, she reportedy lost endorsements and therefore money but she came back.
We don't know how this will affect Collins. Initial reports are that his teammates are supportive. One Washington Post report quotes Condoleeza Rice, "You have to make the impossiible inevitable."
I was never an all-star at any sport, but if I had been I'd like to think I owed it to talent, period, not sexual preferences.
Good luck, Mr. Collins.
We're in an odd position, heading into summer. The world is as troubled as ever, but most of the troubles are in other countries, not here. We may be headed for a summer of boredom here. That might not be so bad.
I mean, you pick up the paper and know at once that Syria's in trouble. That's too bad, I have nothing against the Syrians, but it's nothing to do with us. There's a column on the op-ed page about Chechnya. I wish them well, but again, it's not my game.
There's a story about how Britain is now produciing classy wines. Well done, chaps, but no threat to the good old USA or the French and Italian and, yes, American yummies on your shelf.
Headlines tell of police shot in Rome, of censorship muddying politics in India.
And so it goes. Lots of troubles. but elsewhere, not here. We have problems, of course, but not crises. Maybe, oddly, this will turn out to be the summer of our lack of discontent.
*Mr. Morton's editor apologies