Roy Bean In The New York Times

Trust in my judgment of the book. Besides, you’re gonna hang no matter what it says in there, ’cause I am the law, and the law is the handmaiden of justice. Get a rope.

-Judge Roy Bean

Update: Check out former SF Operator Uncle Jimbo’s overview of Haditha

Today the NYT has an article about Haditha. Here’s the lede:

Last December, when the Marine Corps charged four infantrymen with killing Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq, in 2005, the allegation was as dark as it was devastating: after a roadside bomb had killed their buddy, a group of marines rampaged through nearby homes, massacring 24 innocent people.

In Iraq and in the United States, the killings were viewed as cold-blooded vengeance. After a perfunctory military investigation, Haditha was brushed aside, but once the details were disclosed, the killings became an ugly symbol of a difficult, demoralizing war. After a fuller investigation, the Marines promised to punish the guilty.

I’d laugh if I wasn’t so disgusted.Here’s the deal. If – as the New York Times appears to do – you believe in the process of law, you don’t get to make determinations like those in these paragraphs until the process has worked its way along and reached a conclusion.

You can argue – as many did during Jim Crow – that the process is deeply flawed, and point out the flaws, as many did. Here’s the best the Times can do:

Experts on military law said the difficulty in prosecuting the marines for murder is understandable, given that action taken in combat is often given immunity under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Something bad clearly happened at Haditha. Was it a crime? I doubt that we’ll ever know, and the sad truth is that this – like the millions of other cases of civilian death in wartime – will rest primarily on the consciences of the young men who pulled the triggers.

But ask yourself this – do they deserve this?

“We can’t say those guys didn’t commit a crime,” said Michael F. Noone Jr., a retired Air Force lawyer and law professor at Catholic University of America. “We can only say that after an investigation, there was not sufficient evidence to prosecute.”

The Times actually has some sensible quotes, which it buries mid-article:

“It certainly erodes that sense that what they did was wrong,” Elizabeth L. Hillman, a legal historian who teaches military law at Rutgers University School of Law at Camden, said of the outcomes so far. “When the story broke, it seemed like we understood what happened; there didn’t seem to be much doubt. But we didn’t know.”

It appears that the Times, facing the fact that they don’t know what really happened at Haditha has made a simple decision. The Marines must hang, no matter what it says in the book.

The article was by Paul Von Zielbauer; there’s a list of his stories here. Note the one that’s titled “Investigator Urges Dismissal Of Charges Against Marine” (behind the paywall).

The Times’ Public editor can be emailed here, I’d encourage it.

Gay Sex & Screwing The People

…if that doesn’t get some Google traffic, I’ll sell my shares…

More seriously. I don’t know enough to have an opinion on what Sen. Craig did or what the legal fallout of it was or ought to be; I’ll leave that to people with more experience than me in hot men’s bathrooms and courtrooms (and, especially hot, men’s bathrooms in courtrooms!).

But I’ll come out here and say that Craig should resign now. Not in response to his legal issue, but for his first response to it.

According to the police report, the senator presented a business card and asked, “What do you think about that?”

I’ll call that the Lindsay Lohan Defense, after Ms. Lohan:

Here’s the money quote from Lindsay Lohan during her night of drunken partying and driving:

“I can’t get in trouble. I’m a celebrity. I can do whatever the f**k I want.”

What do I think about that, Senator? I think one piece of 8-1/2″ x 11″ paper with your signature on it could go a long way toward making you right with God and the American People. Of course, you’d have to give up the business cards…

Iraq, August 2007

The elephant in the room in political discourse these days is, of course, Iraq.

It’s a combination of who to blame for the current situation, and what to do going forward. It’s made far more complex by the fact that Iraq is as much an internal political issue as it is an external issue; a consequence, I think of our somewhat foolish belief that internal arrangements of power matter far more than our circumstances in the world.

But that’s the reality we face, and to deny it is as stupid as to deny that the tides will come in whether or not we whip them.

I’ve been wrestling for months with my own position, trying to find a position where I didn’t feel like a fool and waiting to see whether events would clarify things for me.

I haven’t and they haven’t.To be blunt, all of the significant positions seem somewhat foolish to me.

The “stay the course regardless” position is foolish, first and foremost because those playing that hand don’t have the chips to stay in the game. There is not today enough political commitment in the US to see another three years of the war as it is through, and I can’t imagine the war as it is lasting less than three years. It is also foolish because the rationale behind the war has lost its strategic heart – the reason to do it – and no one has yet come up with a meaningful replacement. So we’re playing Irish sit-down except with guns and bombs.

The “get the hell out now” position is more foolish, because it – first and foremost – implies that the world is really a hall of mirrors where all the motion and action is simply a reflection of our own. If we come home and sit quietly, this position says at root, then things will be OK. There is a variant, which I call the ‘magic underpants’ model, in which we will pull out quickly and then – SOMETHING WILL HAPPEN – and then all will be better. What, exactly, is something? And while I’ve acknowledged that the current war is a strategic failure, it may not be the worst failure we can have strategically – and while it is not a tactical success, there are tactical outcomes I can readily imagine that are a lot worse for the Iraqi people and for us.

Then there is the “walk a tightrope” position, which somehow believes there is a variant – a twist to the left with the fingers crossed behind the back and an over-the horizon force ready to bomb the crap out of people and fastrope out of helicopters and Do Some Damage – kind of withdrawal which is not really a withdrawal. I was in high school, trying to convince reluctant girls to have sex with me the last time I used arguments like that. “Yeah, it’s sort of like sex, but not really, because…we have most of our clothes on!!”

Look, the people taking those positions are serious people; I’m not choosing Djerejian or Lind as punching bags, because they are no one’s punching bags.

This last position is close to, but sadly too far from the honorable position, which is to look at what we’re doing in Iraq, see that it’s a part of a larger conflict, and set out a clear discussion of what exactly it is that we mean to accomplish, how we’ll do it, and how we’ll know it’s working. It’s a different path that doesn’t involve threats we can’t back up, total abdication of responsibility, or lying to the world and to ourselves about what we’re really doing. It’s the place I’d really like to be, and a political movement I’d like to be a part of.

And the real problem is, if you’re just a random citizen like me, that you need to go stand with someone else to have any say in what happens in a situation like this. Where I want to stand is with some sensible people; people who don’t give a damn about domestic politics and who care deeply about how this plays out in the world more than they care about how it plays out in their own careers in the commentariat, academe or politics.

If anyone has found those people, please point them out to me in the comments.

So I’ve got to pick a position, and pick a group to stand with.

Bluntly, after a whole lot of thought, I’ll stand with the “stay the course” folks. Yeah, not a deep shock, but not a gimme decision either. Why do I take that position? There are a few reasons.

First, and foremost, the other side is evil – I have no other word for people who slice people’s necks and videotape it as a boast and a threat. What’s our military might for if not to occasionally kill evil people, and make other people wonder about the evolutionary advantage of choosing evil over good? If you listen to the troops in Iraq, the sheer badness of the people we’re fighting over there – the ones who set off truck bombs in marketplaces crowded with women and children – is one of their main motivations to keep going. I see no reason to disagree with that. I do recognize that we’re fighting a bunch of factions there, and when we’re just fighting the one that fights us, as opposed to the one that sets off bombs in laden gasoline tanker trucks in the middle of neighborhoods, I’ll be happy to reconsider.

Secondly, because while the other positions I know of – ‘quit’ and ‘kind of quit’ – are really hard to back away from (it’s really hard to convince a retreating army to attack), it’ll be a lot easier to back away from “we’ve decided to win” when and if someone comes up with a better plan that gets us to where we want to go and costs a lot less in lives and treasure.

Third, because who knows – we just might win while we’re figuring out what else we’d like to do.

Fourth, because as a negotiating position “we’re going to win, thank you very much” is pretty much impossible to beat. Try negotiating with someone while telling them “My wife says I can only stay and negotiate with you for fifteen minutes, and if we can’t make a deal, I have to give you what you want.” Almost all wars are won at the negotiating table. the desired outcome of this war is a negotiated settlement. How the hell do people think they can make a successful negotiation out of “you have until September and then we quit”??

Fifth and last, because I look at the people on different sides of the argument, and I just can’t stand with most of them. The ones I can stand tend – almost entirely – to be the Victor Hansens, the Blackfives, the Norm Gerases. There are good people struggling with the issue on the other side – Phil Carter comes to mind immediately – but you know, most of the people beating the drums for withdrawal are just doing it for reasons that I can’t make sense of. Yes, they want to save lives, but I don’t see a historic awareness that goes past Howard Zinn. When I talk to them about the likely consequences of withdrawal, their response tends to be Bush broke it, it’s his problem. Well, I helped him, I guess, and fixing it is partly my problem as well.

And I honestly can’t see either of the Standard Positions as leading Iraq – or the Middle East, or the Islamist/western conflict – any closer to resolution.

So we stand here with our finger in the leak – in the bloody wound – and we try and keep the bleeding to a level where the patient doesn’t die while we look for a better plan.

And I have no illusions about the condition of the patient – as Iraqis continue to vote with their feet (one thing I will give the antiwar commentariat props for is their push to open the doors to Iraqi refugees. As much as I wish they would and could stay and fight, I am the last person – from the safety of my pricey New York hotel room – to block the door).

But as long as every other position looks worse, the position to take is the best one available to you. And so I’ll take a stand, and start doing something about it.

Because one other reason for my taking this position is that it is fundamentally the only one where some of the facts on the ground can be changed. American public opinion – which is the strongest card the opponents of the war have to play – is volatile right now. And maybe a large enough chorus of small voices could help shift the needle enough to matter.

So it’s time to start singing, I guess.

There are some other things we need to do, as well. We need to look at how we can make this war far less expensive – less expensive in lives – ours and Iraqi noncombatants – and treasure. While we are doing far better on the ground in much of Iraq, we’re doing a horrible job here. One thing I’d love to see would be some Truman Committee hearings here; here’s someplace where John McCain could spend some his remaining political capital, and maybe build the place he deserves in history. Something else for the vets to request while they are in Washington.

Meanwhile, I’ll go stand behind them, as I stand behind them in almost all things.

Drezner, Quiggin, Smoking, and International Legitimacy

I’ve been watching the Daniel DreznerJohn Quiggin debate about the centrality of policy elites and international law (based, amusingly enough, on a Glenn Greenwald post).Drezner cites Quiggin:

John Quiggin asks some valid questions about my rephrasing of Glenn Greenwald’s take of how foreign policy analysts think about the use of force (“The number one rule of the bi-partisan foreign policy community is that America can invade and attack other countries when vital American interests are threatened. Paying homage to that orthodoxy is a non-negotiable pre-requisite to maintaining good standing within the foreign policy community.”)

Unless “vital national interest” is construed so narrowly as to be equivalent to “self-defence”, this is a direct repudiation of the central founding principle of international law, prohibiting aggressive war as a crime against peace, indeed, the supreme international crime. It’s more extreme than the avowed position of any recent US Administration – even the invasion of Iraq was purportedly justified on the basis of UN resolutions, rather than US self-interest. Yet, reading this and other debates, it seems pretty clear that Drezner’s position is not only generally held in the Foreign Policy Community but is regarded, as he says, as a precondition for serious participation in foreign policy debates in the US.

Drezner then replies:

Quiggin is clearly bothered by the idea that this conception of the use of force is a violation of international law — nay, “the supreme international crime.” Without making a normative comment one way or the other, most positive analyses of world politics would conclude that there hasn’t been a whole lot of adherence to that tenet of international law. As James Joyner observes:

The UN Charter’s outlawing of war has, from its outset, been observed only in the breach. It has stopped the United States from declaring war but not from going to war.

This applies to every other state in the international system as well. Quiggin wants international law to be a powerfully binding constraint on state action. That’s nice, but what Quiggin wants and what actually happens are two very different animals.

Another way to look at it is this:

When I started grad school at U.C. Berkeley, one of my core professors was Stephen S. Cohen (he’s still there, teaching with Brad DeLong). I met him at the first session of his class; there was an overflow of students, and Professor Cohen walked in, smoking a cigarette. This was 1974 or so, and smoking had just been banned in classrooms.

As he stood there and started explaining the class, an aggrieved student interrupted. “Professor Cohen, Professor Cohen…there are rules against smoking in class you know…”

Cohen looked cooly at the student and took a big drag on his cigarette.

“There are also rules against cheating on exams and screwing students. None of those seem to be very closely enforced either.”

I was a fan for life.

Quiggin and other fans of international law want to wish into existence an international polity in which law has or can be given adequate legitimacy to check the ambitions of the actors contained.

Personally, I’m less than thrilled with the idea that I am supposed to be subject to a set of laws crafted with the approval of Robert Mugabe or Hugo Chavez. I do appreciate the restraint that the concept of international legitimacy ought to bring to the table. But when so many of those who are granting it are themselves despots or otherwise legitimate only through the most brutal application of force of arms, what – exactly – does that legitimacy rest on?

I have my own take on the “Foreign Policy Experts” issue, but I want to dig out my copy of Gaddis and find a quote first.

So Let’s Talk About Shutting People Up.

When I read the NY Times the hotel gave me this morning, this article piqued my attention:

Criticism of a Gender Theory, and a Scientist Under Siege
Earlier this month, members of the International Academy of Sex Research, gathering for their annual meeting in Vancouver, informally discussed one of the most contentious and personal social science controversies in recent memory.

The central figure, J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University, has promoted a theory that his critics think is inaccurate, insulting and potentially damaging to transgender women. In the past few years, several prominent academics who are transgender have made a series of accusations against the psychologist, including that he committed ethics violations. A transgender woman he wrote about has accused him of a sexual impropriety, and Dr. Bailey has become a reviled figure for some in the gay and transgender communities.

The dispute isn’t any longer about the research, but about the researcher.

Earlier this month, members of the International Academy of Sex Research, gathering for their annual meeting in Vancouver, informally discussed one of the most contentious and personal social science controversies in recent memory.

The central figure, J. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University, has promoted a theory that his critics think is inaccurate, insulting and potentially damaging to transgender women. In the past few years, several prominent academics who are transgender have made a series of accusations against the psychologist, including that he committed ethics violations. A transgender woman he wrote about has accused him of a sexual impropriety, and Dr. Bailey has become a reviled figure for some in the gay and transgender communities.

And people took action against him.

Dr. Conway and Dr. McCloskey also wrote letters to Northwestern, accusing Dr. Bailey of grossly violating scientific standards “by conducting intimate research observations on human subjects without telling them that they were objects of the study.”

They also wrote to the Illinois state regulators, requesting that they investigate Dr. Bailey for practicing psychology without a license. Dr. Bailey, who was not licensed to practice clinical psychology in Illinois, had provided some of those who helped him with the book with brief case evaluation letters, suggesting that they were good candidates for sex-reassignment surgery. A spokesman for the state said that regulators took no action on the complaints.

Based on some questionable facts…

Dr. Dreger is the latest to arrive at the battlefront. She is a longtime advocate for people born with ambiguous sexuality and has been strongly critical of sex researchers in the past. She said she had presumed that Dr. Bailey was guilty and, after meeting him through a mutual friend, had decided to investigate for herself.

But in her just-completed account, due to be published next year in The Archives of Sexual Behavior, the field’s premier journal, she concluded that the accusations against the psychologist were essentially groundless.

For example, Dr. Dreger found that two of the four women who complained to Northwestern of research violations were not portrayed in the book at all. The two others did know their stories would be used, as they themselves said in their letters to Northwestern.

The accusation of sexual misconduct came five years after the fact, and was not possible to refute or confirm, Dr. Dreger said. It specified a date in 1998 when Dr. Bailey was at his ex-wife’s house, looking after their children, according to dated e-mail messages between the psychologist and his ex-wife, Dr. Dreger found.

And with meaningful professional consequences…

One collaborator broke with Dr. Bailey over the controversy, Dr. Bailey said. Others who remained loyal said doing so had a cost: two researchers said they were advised by a government grant officer that they should distance themselves from Dr. Bailey to improve their chances of receiving financing.

“He told me it would be better if I played down any association with Bailey,” said Khytam Dawood, a psychologist at Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Bailey said that the first weeks of the backlash were the worst. He tried not to think about the accusations, he said, but would wake up in the middle of the night unable to think of anything else. He took anti-anxiety pills for a while. He began to worry about losing his job. He said that friends and family supported him but that some colleagues were afraid to speak up in his defense.

“They saw what I was going through, I think, and wanted no part of it,” he said.

This is what it looks like when people ask why “…should the marketplace of ideas be open to those who espouse reprehensible and repugnant views?”

And it’s a train wreck, morally, politically, and scientifically.

“What happened to Bailey is important, because the harassment was so extraordinarily bad and because it could happen to any researcher in the field,” said Alice Dreger, an ethics scholar and patients’ rights advocate at Northwestern who, after conducting a lengthy investigation of Dr. Bailey’s actions, has concluded that he is essentially blameless. “If we’re going to have research at all, then we’re going to have people saying unpopular things, and if this is what happens to them, then we’ve got problems not only for science but free expression itself.”

Some people have no problem with throttling free expression. They see it as a way of redressing what they see as imbalances in power, and see free speech as a way or reifying existing power relationships in society. I’ve cited Stephen Hicks before:

What we have then are two positions about the nature of speech. The postmodernists say: Speech is a weapon in the conflict between groups that are unequal. And that is diametrically opposed to the liberal view of speech, which says: Speech is a tool of cognition and communication for individuals who are free.

When you see people pushing people out of the marketplace of ideas, you’re seeing speech as a weapon. And – like many mythical weapons – it is one that once used entraps and poisons the weilder.

To The Moon…

I’ve commented in the past on the newfound interest not just to win whatever the debate of the moment is, but to drive one’s opponents before you from the field in doing so, etc. etc.

I think this is a moral and political train wreck, because more than anything the core of our political system is that the losers are expected to play along with the understanding that they continue to be part of the system. We don’t do purges, and that’s a good thing.

I’ve talked about it kind of seriously, and am not just going to throw my hands up and try something different.

Here’s Atrios today:

Is Tom Friedman a Bad Person?

All signs point to “pretty hideous human being, one which all good people should shun.”

So today, Atrios is the winner of the first Moon Unit award, which I’ll give out to people who think that gagging someone – with or without a spoon – is an appropriate political response.

To be honest, the progblogs are going to be racking up a huge number of these ‘Moon Units’ – but from my point of view, they really aren’t on the same planet anyway…

Religious Takeover – Or Event Marketing 101??

Patterico’s on vacation, so someone needs to step up and slam the LA Times today.

I only go to churches for weddings and funerals – and to hear my wife sing in her classical choir. Evangelical Christianity makes me mildly itchy, combining as it does spirituality, community, and a uniquely American kind of salesmanship. My own spiritual calls are quieter.

Having said that I curse and tear my hair out when I read stupid c**p like Tom Krattenmaker’s opinion article in today’s LA Times:

Should God go to the ballgame?
Events such as ‘faith day’ at Dodger Stadium signal the Christianization of pro sports.

On Sunday, Christian baseball fans will stream into Dodger Stadium for what is becoming more common fare at professional ballparks across the country — “faith day.”

Following the Dodgers vs. Rockies game, fans with special tickets will gather in a corner of the parking lot for a concert by the Christian rock band Hawk Nelson, an appearance by characters from the “Veggie Tales” Christian television program and testimonials by several devout Dodgers. The purpose, according to event organizer Brent High, is to promote the Gospel of Jesus.

High and his Christian events-promotion company, Third Coast Sports, have been organizing faith days and faith nights around minor league baseball for years. They reached the major leagues last season with three events at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, and will be in 10 major league cities this season. The event at Dodger Stadium will be the first in L.A.

Tim, please learn something about major league sports marketing before you sit at the keyboard and write something like this again.

Or check out the helpful site

In recent years, a growing number of MLB teams have hosted gay and lesbian community events or groups, including the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, New York Mets, Oakland A’s, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals and Toronto Blue Jays. And others, such as the San Francisco Giants, Florida Marlins and Baltimore Orioles, have hosted AIDS Awareness Days.

Or go to

Viva Los Dodgers

Presented by Coca-Cola, Time Warner Cable, and Toyota. This year is the 10th anniversary of the music festival that celebrates Hispanic music and culture. Arrive early for the August 18 game for great music, prizes and food.

Tim, is it that you don’t get Internet access at work? You couldn’t pick up the phone and talk to anyone in the event marketing industry (I can suggest some names)? You know, do some freaking research?

Sunday Is A Big Day For Me.

Update:Stoner 1st – 25 points; Rossi – 7th – 9 points…hee hee…

It’s the Brno motorcycle Grand Prix, and this season has been particularly exciting as Ducati and young Aussie Casey Stoner appear to have taken the measure of Yamaha and five-time champion Valentino Rossi.

I have a whole lot at state this season, and so I’ll be watching very closely.

Last season I managed to get a sucker knowledgeable race fan to bet Rossi against the field, and Nicky Hayden won.

The payoff was – in a manner of speaking – delightful –

Well, Flashdance wasn’t happy about his public appearance, and requested a rematch. One of the group who’d bet against him stupidly changed the bet for all of us to Rossi vs. Hayden in this series, and because of Honda’s engineering foolishness in building a 3/4 scale racebike for the year, Hayden has essentially no chance to win.

So four of us will be dressing up as the Village People (I’m going to be the Tool Guy) and blessing a Los Angeles restaurant with a well-choreographed version of “YMCA”.

But since the family motto is “never give up” I managed to get the victim Rossi fan to accept a side bet.

Rossi vs. Stoner. If Stoner beats Rossi in the season by more than 13 points, my Flashdancing friend will have to dress up as a sumo wrestler and greet all the patrons at the restaurant we choose for the performance with a bow and a hearty “moshi! moshi!” Of course, if events go the other way, I’ll need to bring a 2nd costume to dinner…

As it stands today, Stoner is ahead of Rossi by 44 points.

Stoner is on the pole at Brno, with a qualifying time of 1’56.884″; Rossi is 6th with a time of 1’57.640.

They are both incredible racers, cool, calculating, unflappable. It’s going to be an amazing race.

And if Stoner takes at least 10 more points out of Rossi, I’m that much closer to not shaving a topknot into my hair…so I’d like everyone reading this blog to close your eyes and clap really, really hard for Casey Stoner.

I’ll report on the results tomorrow.

Deadly & False Opinions

I saw the news today about the deaths of three rescuers in the Utah coal mine, and after the initial burst of sorrow for them and their families I thought about the incredible sense of commitment miners must have to each other – much like soldiers, firefighters and LEO’s. It’s something that’s there within our society, but is too often buried – our commitment to protect and rescue each other. I’d read about the instability in the mine – either seismic or due to roof failure, I certainly don’t know – and I’d thought about the risks those teams of workers were taking for their colleagues who they may not have even known personally. I wish I’d been wrong about the risks they were taking…

My next thought was to wonder when the first article or blog post blaming this on Bush would come out…and I wish I’d been wrong about that as well…At 10:50 this morning, let me bring you the Liberal Avenger:

Let’s keep in mind that this accident was completely preventable, but efforts to regulate mine safety in the wake of several mine tragedies in 2006 were derailed by corruption and an anti-regulatory mindset within the Republican party. President Bush signaled his unwillingness to regulate the coal mining industry when he appointed Richard Stickler as the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety…

So in the wake of series of fatal mining disasters, the Bush administration decided to circumvent the nomination process in order to put a former mining executive in charge of enforcing mining regulations. Is anyone surprised by the result?

Well, I sure as heck was when I did a little research back in 2006.

So in the news recently are the mining tragedies that have killed 21 miners so far this year. And a lot of coverage has focused on the lower fines, and perceived lax enforcement by an industry-friendly Administration.

So I started a post on the importance of re-regulating the industry, and toughening regulation to save miner’s lives.

And I went to the Mine Safety & Health Administration to trend out the pattern of deaths.

And got the data that made up this somewhat surprising graph:

I updated the graph to include 2006 data and annualized the 2007 data as of 8/13/07:


Notice anything?

Look, I may not like the industry cozyness of Bush’s appointments in this area. And maybe there are exogenous factors that are driving the decline in deaths.

But the deaths are declining. And to ignore that is just plain bullshit. Just as it’s bullshit to cite rising troop suicide rates without noting that they remain below those of the civilian population.

Does that mean we shouldn’t look hard at mine and industrial safety? Absolutely not. Of course we need to keep looking at it. Just as we need to look at the psychic welfare of the troops.

But it’s bullshit, pure and simple, to make arguments like this. First, because they are so easy to pick apart – and if you care about worker safety or about troop well-being, you have an obligation to make good arguments in favor of those things.

There was just news about a newsroom in Seattle that erupted in applause when Rove resigned; the editor wrote a perfect memo explaining why that was wrong:

If we wore our politics on our sleeves in here, I have no doubt that in this and in most other mainstream newsrooms in America, the majority of those sleeves would be of the same color: blue. Survey after survey over the years have demonstrated that most of the people who go into this business tend to vote Democratic, at least in national elections. That is not particularly surprising, given how people make career decisions and that social service and activism is a primary driver for many journalists.

But if we allowed our news meetings to evolve into a liberal latte klatch, I have no doubt that a pathological case of group-think would soon set in. One of the advances of which I’m most proud over the years is our willingness to question and challenge each other as we work to give our readers the most valuable, meaningful journalism we can.

The result: A newspaper that is known nationally for aggressive watchdog and investigative reporting, without fear or favor. From a Democratic United States senator (Brock Adams) to our region’s biggest employer (Boeing) to a large advertiser (Nordstrom) to our school districts and courts and police, we have confronted them all with tough questions to which they had no good answers. The result has been a better community, laws changed, lives saved.

It’s not about “balance,” which is a false construct. It isn’t even about “objectivity,” which is a laudable but probably unattainable goal. It is about independent thinking and sound, facts-based journalism — the difference between what we do and the myopic screed that is passed off as “advocacy” journalism these days.

“It is about independent thinking and sound, facts-based journalism…” Wow. Can I just applaud that line?

And can I ask my fellow pundits to opine away – in fact encourage them to – in favor of worker rights, worker safety, and the well-being of the members of our military? But to do so in a way that’s rooted in provable fact?