Obama’s attempted freeze-out

As questions intensify about what President Barack Obama has actually accomplished, the administration has taken to the offensive by attacking Fox News.

On Thursday, the administration announced that White House pay czar Kenneth Feinberg would give interviews to all of the members of the White House TV pool — CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS — except Fox News. The attempted strong-arm tactic follows a series of critical remarks by White House officials aimed at discrediting Fox News. Appearing on CNN, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said that the administration is essentially blacklisting Fox News because the president doesn't want "the CNNs and the others in the world [to] be led in following Fox." Emanuel later added that Fox News “is not a news organization so much as it has a perspective." Translation: The American president is attempting to co-opt the national dialogue by censuring an entire news organization.


Let’s put Balloon Boy to bed

This has got to be the most ridiculous waste of everyone's time by a media that seems incapable of having a serious discussion of serious issues for serious people.

Someday this matter will find a place in the Museum of Natural History about our inability to have intelligent debates on urgent matters while engulfing ourselves in freak-show media and loony-tune television spectacles of zero importance.


The NFL did what the Republican Party won’t: It sacked Rush Limbaugh

This really was an easy call. Boot Rush off the field. Not because they are Democrats or liberals. Not because they are Barack Obama’s buddies. Heck, most of these owners are big-time Republicans. As Michael Wilbon put it: “A few are so far to the right politically they think Limbaugh is liberal.”

Nope. Pure and simple, the NFL could not stomach his racial slurs over many years. Taking on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, lamenting the number of black players (“NFL looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips”), racial attacks against Barack Obama and Sonia Sotomayor — after all, ESPN fired him.


Right-wing pundit (in outer space) denounces Keith Olbermann

To understand why one conservative writes to other conservatives about "the death of conservatism," don’t miss Armstrong William on The Hill's Pundits Blog denouncing Keith Olbermann, claiming that on his best day, Olbermann's audience is less than 200,000.

Excuse me? Under 200,000 on his best day? Armstrong, is your problem a dearth of fact-checking? Is your problem you don’t care about the facts and just make things up as you go along? Earth to Armstrong Williams: Why don’t you try a little bit of research, and a lot less of this jib-jab, cheap-shot, hyper-partisan delusion, and tell us the accurate audience share for Olbermann, which is hugely different than what you falsely claim.


Ignorance defined

There must be something in the water over at MSNBC studios that causes guests on Keith Olbermann's excuse for a show to temporarily lose a lobe of their brain. The latest victim to get caught up in Keith's mindless rants was former Newsweek columnist Richard Wolffe. Did you all see his segment? Of course not; on its best day, the show averages fewer than 200,000 viewers, and most of them are his relatives or buried in the DNC.


Fact-checking matters — even for columnists and bloggers

I write columns and post blogs regularly, and I’ve made my share of factual mistakes.

So I do not sit in judgment of someone who goofed. But if you make a factual mistake, there are certain rules of the road that responsible writers and bloggers should follow: (1) immediately correct the error as soon as you find out — and in the same publication; (2) if it was also a personal attack in any way, which turned out to be based on a false statement, then personally apologize — no ifs, ands or buts; and (3) learn a lesson for next time — be more careful.


Ars gratia publica

FDR’s New Deal has been a reference point for President Barack Obama’s legislative planners. Many elements of our current economic crisis are reminiscent of those FDR faced. There are major differences in those times and ours, of course.

One feature not discussed currently is the extraordinary programs FDR implemented to employ artists to portray American culture. We remain beneficiaries of those programs today. Writers, painters, photographers and musicians crossed the country defining and at the same time contributing to our culture — the dire conditions and the humanity that prevailed.


Dangerous books

When I wrote my book on the American correction system, I traveled around the world (thanks to a grant from the Ford Foundation) visiting prisons that were, reportedly, innovative. At one modern facility in the Netherlands, I was shown around by the official in charge. The pleasant building was modern and didn’t look like the prototypical dungeons one sees in this context. At one point on my tour, my guide searched his vast ring of keys to find the one that opened a door to the library — a rather pleasant-looking room full of books. I asked why the door was locked.

“The prisoners might steal the books,” he reported.

“How nice,” I replied. “Where would they go with them except to their cells to read — the purpose of a library, no?” He looked at me with a strange glance, and we proceeded on our tour.


David Frum's lonely crusade

In case you didn't quite hear any compelling Republican arguments for healthcare reform this week — with issues like ACORN, White House czars and the martyrdom of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) taking center stage — I found a good one at

David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter who famously coined the phrase "axis of evil," has taken on a lonely crusade to rebrand conservatism and reform his party. His movement doesn't have half the momentum of the tea party crowd, but his message is smart, sound and sane advice for an increasingly angry and disengaged party searching for a way back to power. His advice: persuade instead of provoke, enlarge the coalition instead of narrowing it, and choose to govern instead of enflame.