Monday, July 31, 2006

A wish for peace

Hundreds are now dead in the latest Middle East war between Israel and Lebanon/Hezbollah, including more than 50 women and children yesterday.

We need peace now.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Best of 2006 ... so far ...

Headsfull — Amy Millan Honey From The Tombs
Black Horse And The Cherry Tree — KT Tunstall Eye To The Telescope
Rabbit Fur Coat — Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins Rabbit Fur Coat
Gomer — Jo Mango Paperclips and Sand
Not Ready to Make Nice — Dixie Chicks Taking The Long Way
Star Witness — Neko Case Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
I Was Watching You — Rosanne Cash Black Cadillac
An Old Familiar Scene — Elf Power Back to the Web
Sukie In The Graveyard — Belle and Sebastian The Life Pursuit
Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken — Camera Obscura Let's Get Out Of This Country
Snakes on a Plane (Bring It) — Starship Cobra Snakes on a Plane Soundtrack
Pull Shapes — Pipettes We Are The Pipettes
SOS — Rihanna
Jack Killed Mom — Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins
Gold Lion — Yeah Yeah Yeahs

--I still have to get Regina Spektor, Kasey Chambers, Cat Power, Van Hunt, Rocco DeLuca among others ...

Bottom line this has been a great fucking year for music and there's still the possibility of new stuff from Mindy Smith, Rachael Yamagata, Tift Merritt and maybe even Rilo Kiley and Radiohead and the Shins and Joanna Newsom and Nellie McKay.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Absentia somewhat explained

Minor wrist damage Sunday morning has had me trying to limit non-work typing the past few days. Plus it's been asstastically hot in SoCal so just not in the mood to enjoy the extra heat from my iBook.

More soon.

Quickly, though, children should not be allowed in the theater.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Commerce can make a difference

That's the URL for the store.

That's the URL for one of the most creative ways to promote free speech and pissing people off

AIDS is 25 years old and we still don't have a cure

Friday, July 21, 2006

Save the Sabres (uniforms)

Make sure we don't end up with this ... I mean, do we really want to be the Buffalo Chargers, as my friend Kerri christened this logo! (see what you can learn at phd school.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Mommy, can I swear like a President?

So President Bush got "caught" saying "shit" in a private conversation with Tony Blair while they were discussing the escalating conflict in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors Palestine and Lebanon. Who gives a FUCK? It's an English-language profanity. Oh well. Once again, the media overblowing a non-story while the Middle East burns, the janjaweed continues to run largely unchecked in Sudan, New Orleans remains a disaster zone, farmers are paid to fallow their fields while thousands die of famine every day, um, need I go on?

And as for Israel v. Lebanon and Hezbollah ... it's very sad how many are dying. And as Israel's allies argue over the merits of the "proportional response" I am sickened by the notion that there is an acceptable amount of people to kill.

Today's must-read is from's Today's Papers written by Eric Umansky:

A piece inside the Post mentions in passing that an Iraqi official said 628 people were killed in Baghdad last week, "a figure that far exceeded the numbers previously suggested by news reports." The story also details just how complete the breakdown has been in Baghdad the last week: In some neighborhoods, people haven't been able to go out and buy food. Meanwhile, some residents have reportedly "sold off their furniture to buy AK-47 assault rifles and ammunition." In a day of stiff competition, this is today's most sobering story.

The NYT notices that followers of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr boycotted the Iraqi parliament yesterday. "It's become obvious that the occupation forces are responsible for the devastation taking place in our country," said a legislator from Sadr's bloc. Sadr has been threatening to attack U.S. forces as a solidarity move with Hezbollah.

Only the Journal seems to flag news that the Taliban seized two towns in southern Afghanistan and "forced police and government officials to flee."

As of the early morning hours, about 300 people were reported killed by the tsunami that hit the south coast of Indonesia's main island, Java; another 160 were missing. The U.S. issued a tsunami alert 15 minutes after the underground earthquake that created the wave, but Indonesia hasn't installed such a system yet.

The WP off-leads a fine program approved by the president back in 2002 meant to compensate ranchers who've faced droughts. Ranchers don't have to prove they were actually affected by drought. And, go figure, it seems plenty of them weren't.

The WP goes inside with a Democratic House report concluding that 20 of 23 federally funded "pregnancy resource centers" gave bogus info, telling callers (Democratic staffers) that abortions increase the risk of breast cancer and infertility.

Another piece inside the Post says Justice Department investigators backed up the claim by the FBI's highest-ranking Arabic speaker that he was blacklisted after he complained of being cut out of counterterrorism programs.

Meanwhile the U.N. estimates that 14,000 Iraqis have died in 2006 and puts its figure for the entire war at a ceiling of 43,600 dead. That does not include more than 2,500
U.S. military personnel. Check out:

Monday, July 17, 2006

Why people question whether "sports journalism" is even journalism

I sent this to ESPN's ombudsman this morning.

To take nothing away from the mission of an organiZation [when I sent this to it had the spelling error of a missing Z. I'm an idiot.] like Make-A-Wish or from the generosity of the players involved, it seems like ESPN's participation in orchestrating meetings between children and their athletic heroes represented a HUGE potential ethical mine field journalistically. How can ESPN be expected to be fair with a Tedy Bruchsi (who personally I admire as a contemporary of his at Arizona) or any of the athletes who participated? I assume individual ESPN reporters to be beyond allowing these corporately produced "stories" to affect their newsgathering, nevertheless, as a former newspaper reporter I understand as well as anyone that perception is reality, and ESPN has clearly opened itself up to fair questioning about its reportorial objectivity. Thanks for the time. Great column!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I pity the fool (who doesn't read this)

This short dispatch from the Television Critics' Association courtesy of Scott Collins appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, July 15. I need not say anything more ...

"To my chagrin, I missed the TV Land panel Thursday morning at the press tour in Pasadena to plug Mr. T's new self-help show, 'I Pity the Fool.' So I didn't observe the following priceless exchange, which is quoted verbatim from the transcript provided later:

Question: Mr. T, why do you pity the fool?

Mr. T: That is a good question. That is a good question and a legitimate question. And I'm the man to answer it. You pity the fool because you don't want to beat up a fool. You know, pity is between sorry and mercy. See, if you pity him, you know, you won't have to beat him up. So that's why I say fools, you gotta give another chance because they don't know no better. That's why I pity them.

Who says the press tour is a waste of time?

I love life.

Friday, July 14, 2006

célébrez les Français

Happy Bastille Day!

Mike Quixote?

Two things picked up by's Eric Umansky today ...

The deal, which is contained in a bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, "represented a clear retreat by Bush" proclaims the Post. Maybe politically, but in terms of substance it's questionable at best: The bill says the oversight is actually voluntary, and the proceedings in the FISA national-security court will be held in secret, with no outside lawyers, and the ruling itself may be kept mum. Also, the Specter bill actually loosens some of the current restrictions on wiretapping.

One other thing flagged by the WP in the 28th paragraph: "Specter agreed to repeal a section of the original FISA law that made it the exclusive statute governing such intelligence programs." The reason that might have been worth mentioning, oh, say, 27 paragraphs higher: That's the section that makes the current program likely illegal.


A frontpage NYT piece profiles the GI now accused of raping an Iraqi girl and killing her along with her family. He was a high-school dropout with three misdemeanors and was accepted into the Army just as the military, desperate for recruits, began issuing more "moral waivers."

It's like I don't even know what to say anymore about our government and the executive branch's decision making. Are my liberal friends and I just tilting at windmills? And I also don't understand why President Bush refuses to press Israel to agree to a cease-fire. I mean, I do understand why politically, but he needs to have the courage to call for peace for all sides.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

I am the most immature person in the universe


I think that I'm also in the camp of among the most hurt about something irrelevant and I am experiencing a hurt that shames me.

btw, my neighbor the beautifully singing bird is back and loud. aww yeah, er not.

Would you like some tree King Kong?

The odd link of the day, and thanks to Al at the Poynter Institute for publishing this first ...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Belle and Sebastian concert review

The Belle and Sebastian concert on July 6 at the Hollywood Bowl was amazing, although this was one of the oddest rock concerts i've ever been to, because of the setting and the fact that the Los Angeles Philharmonic played along with Belle and Sebastian for pretty much the entire set. During the first few numbers the audience was remarkably subdued. Everyone was sitting very still in their seats. That in and of itself is not unusual for the Hollywood Bowl—the audiences tend to be a little older and drink wine and eat Trader Joe's brand Brie. But the presence of the Philharmonic had people really glued to their seats. I mean there wasn't even much of the headbobbing and rhythmically gentle swaying in the seats and stuff. but it wasn't like the band came across as bored or anything. it was just that everything felt extra classed up and people didn't want to disturb the serenity. Despite the ultra-relaxed (though not marijuana-induced for the most part, we did smell some on the wind) vibe, the band was awesome!

By the fifth song, Sukie In the Graveyard, the crowd members seemed to remember that they were at a rock show and not a wine tasting. I wish I was a bigger fan of the band, thoug because I really cannot recall many of the specific songs from the set list in any order, but I recognized a fair share of tracks, having acquited The Life Pursuit (free from emusic) shortly before the show, and also having seen them earlier this year at the Wiltern.

Stuart Murdoch (lead singer) was great and his energy started slowly getting more people out of their seats after Sukie. He ran around the catwalkish platform that separate the orchestra area seats from the rest of the boxes and interacted with the crowd at one point asking for a dress (which someone had an extra one to give) and mascara, which he allowed someone to apply during Dress Up In You (I think it was that song?). Also anytime a happy sounding, tenor-voiced Scottish boy talks to you, one cannot help but be lightened.

Perhaps what makes a show stand out for me almost more than anything is when I can sense that the band members are really digging the vibe and seems appreciative of the fact that they make their living as musicians who get to perform most every night. And Stuart and Co. definitely did that. They were genuinely thankful to the Shins, who opened and were excellent, and also the L.A. Phil multiple times calling out for the audience to give it up for some of Los Angeles's finest. The addition of the orchestra was mostly excellent. They did a nice job with the arrangements avoiding the classic pitfall or laying down elevator music-orchestrations underneath pop songs. Instead the strings and harp!!!! just added texture to a band that already enhances its songs with lots of keys and some horns and solo strings.

Another thing that I truly love is when the encore closes a show bigtime. And this show did not disappoint. The band came out sans Philharmonic for its encore—something that really brought the crowd out of its seats and into the asphalt walkways that separate the tiers.

[Aside: And since it's a Hollywood Bowl crowd at a KCRW show (that's not associated with like Chocolate City of Sounds Eclectico) it was VERY white so lots of people who danced like they learned watching the Woodstock movie. That's not an exact compliment. I mean, it's cool that these people had the music in them, but still ...]

And when the band closed with The Boy with the Arab Strap the show blew off the metaphorical (though non-existant) roof. People cheered and more took to their feet as the opening bars were played, but when Stuart ran out on the catwalkway again someone pulled himself (or herself hard to tell from the second last row of the second last tier) and started dancing with Stuart. Then seeing that Stuart was into it and the security seemed at least not against it, dozens of people joined them up there. [at this point most people in the lower sections were on their feet.] As Stuart emerged from the dancing mass back on the stage, people's courage and enthusiasm really bubbled up. They hopped on the stage and engaged the band in a spirited Dance Party USA thang to which the band responded with cheers and more dancing. Security even was reasonably tolerant not utilizing any pro-wrestling takedowns and even indulging the fans for a minute. As the band started to disappear behind the fans though, security started moving in and gently encouraging people with force to vacate the stage (no tickets though, as we saw fans immediately just head back to their seats).

"It's the last song, let 'em stay!" Stuart yelled out though to thunderous applause and wild cheers. But the security peeps didn't pay that any heed as future stage hoppers were immediately escorted, gently but with force.

Meanwhile, the scene near us in Row 19 of Section R, had finally cleared out pretty much, as many of the fans nearby were whitedancing in the aisles. This was a welcome change because the fans in the two rows in front of us couldn't stop with the getting up and musical chairing. It was good-natured, but nevertheless disruptive, though.

And when the show ended after a 1:45 minute set from Belle and Sebastian it was standing O and mad cheering. Wow!

btw, I'd like to post a picture, but I don't want to steal, so check out this link.

I'm so 2006

I did my first video chat today with great friend Amy, who works for the Detroit Free Press. Wow! It was beyond cool. I am a nerd for thinking it was so cool. By acknowledging that I am trying to determine whether that makes me nerdier or less nerdy.

Serious link of the year

My friend Scott forwarded this ...

click the database link, this is painstaking effort.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Thank you, Mr. President, I am definitely re-assured now

President Bush to People Magazine on global warming: "I think we have a problem on global warming. I think there is a debate about whether it's caused by mankind or whether it's caused naturally, but it's a worthy debate. It's a debate, actually, that I'm in the process of solving by advancing new technologies."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fleeing oppression day

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred. to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

— John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Patriotic thoughts for this year's Independence Day

This is Frank Rich's column in Sunday's NYTimes ...

Published: July 2, 2006
July 2, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist

Can't Win the War? Bomb the Press!

OLD GLORY lost today," Bill Frist declaimed last week when his second attempt to rewrite the Constitution in a single month went the way of his happy prognosis for Terri Schiavo. Of course it isn't Old Glory that lost when the flag-burning amendment flamed out. The flag always survives the politicians who wrap themselves in it. What really provoked Mr. Frist's crocodile tears was the foiling of yet another ruse to distract Americans from the wreckage in Iraq. He and his party, eager to change the subject in an election year, just can't let go of their scapegoat strategy. It's illegal Hispanic immigrants, gay couples seeking marital rights, cut-and-run Democrats and rampaging flag burners who have betrayed America's values, not those who bungled a war.

No sooner were the flag burners hustled offstage than a new traitor was unveiled for the Fourth: the press. Public enemy No. 1 is The New York Times, which was accused of a "disgraceful" compromise of national security (by President Bush) and treason (by Representative Peter King of New York and the Coulter amen chorus). The Times's offense was to publish a front-page article about a comprehensive American effort to track terrorists with the aid of a Belgian consortium, Swift, which serves as a clearinghouse for some 7,800 financial institutions in 200 countries.

It was a solid piece of journalism. But if you want to learn the truly dirty secrets of how our government prosecutes this war, the story of how it vilified The Times is more damning than anything in the article that caused the uproar.

The history of that scapegoating begins on the Friday morning, June 23, that The Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal all published accounts of the Swift program first posted on the Web the night before. In his press briefing that morning, Tony Snow fielded many questions about the program's legality. But revealingly, for all his opportunities, he never attacked the news media.

Far from Swift-boating the Swift reportage, he offered tentative praise. "It's interesting," he said, "because I think there's a fair amount of balance in the story in that you do have concrete benefits and you do have the kind of abstract harms that were mentioned in there." He noted that there had been "no allegation of illegality" in the Times article.

This was accurate. The story was balanced, just as Mr. Snow said. And it was no cause for a national-security alarm for the simple reason that since 9/11, our government has repeatedly advertised that it is following the terrorists' money trail, a tactic enhanced by the broad new powers over financial institutions that Mr. Bush sought and received. In November 2002, he and the Treasury secretary at the time, Paul O'Neill, even held a televised event promoting their Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Center, established expressly, in the president's words, to "investigate the financial infrastructure of the international terrorist networks." As for Swift, Dan Froomkin of points out that it can't resist bragging on its own Web site that it "has a history of cooperating in good faith with authorities," including treasury departments and law enforcement agencies, in trying "to combat abuse of the financial system for illegal activities."

Only a terrorist who couldn't shoot straight would assume that Swift was not part of the American effort to stalk terrorist transactions; that's tantamount to assuming that cops would track down license plate numbers without enlisting the Department of Motor Vehicles. But, unfortunately for us, terrorists are not so stupid: it's been reported as far back as 2003 (in The Washington Post) and as recently as this month (in Ron Suskind's must-read best seller, "The One Percent Doctrine") that our enemies long ago took Mr. Bush at his word and abandoned banks for couriers, money brokers, front companies and suitcases stuffed with cash and gold. Tom Brokaw summarized the consensus of terrorism experts last week when he told Chris Matthews of MSNBC: "I don't know anyone who believes that the terrorist network said, 'Oh my God, they're tracing our financial transactions? What a surprise.' Of course, they knew that they were doing that."

The real news conveyed by The Times and its competitors was not the huge program to track terrorist finances, but that per usual from the administration that gave us Gitmo, the program was conducted with little oversight from the other two branches of government. Even so, the reporting on the pros and cons of that approach was, as Mr. Snow said, balanced.

Or so he said Friday morning, June 23. By Monday, the president had entered the fray and Mr. Snow was accusing The Times of putting the "public's right to know" over "somebody's right to live." What had happened over the weekend to prompt this escalation of hysteria? The same stuff that always happens when the White House scapegoats the press (or anyone else): bad and embarrassing news that the White House wants to drown out.

One such looming embarrassment was that breathless arrest in Miami of what federal authorities billed as a "homegrown terrorist cell." This amazing feat of derring-do had all the melodramatic trappings of a carefully staged administration P.R. extravaganza. On June 22, the F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller, just happened to be on "Larry King Live" speaking about his concerns about "homegrown terrorists" when, by a remarkable coincidence, Larry King announced a "report just in" from a Miami station on a federal terrorism investigation. The next day — the same day the Swift story was published — brought the full-dress dog-and-pony show by the intrepid attorney general, Alberto Gonzales.

But rain soon started to fall on this parade. The seven men accused of plotting to take down the Sears Tower in Chicago and collaborate with Al Qaeda on a "full ground war" turned out to have neither weapons nor explosives nor links to Al Qaeda; both the F.B.I. and the Chicago police said there was no operational threat. By Saturday the administration's overhyped victory against terrorists was already deflating into a national punch line, a nostalgic remembrance of John Ashcroft orange terror alerts past.

Sunday brought another unwanted revelation (from Michael R. Gordon of The Times): Gen. George Casey Jr., the commander in Iraq, was drafting a plan for sharp troop reductions there, some of them to precede this year's election. Inconveniently enough, the Casey approach was a virtual double for the phased withdrawals advocated by Senate Democrats days earlier and incessantly slurred as "cut-and-run" defeatism by Republicans.

By the time of the Bush-Snow eruption on Monday, the Democrats were holding hearings on the Hill about prewar intelligence. It was better that Americans hear tirades about traitors in the press than be tempted to listen to the testimony of Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, who described Mr. Powell's February 2003 United Nations presentation on Iraq's W.M.D. as "the perpetuation of a hoax."

It's not only the White House that has a vested political interest in concocting a smoke screen by demonizing the fourth estate as a fifth column. The Democrats were holding their hearing because Pat Roberts, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, has for two years been stalling his panel's promised investigation into how the administration used intelligence before the war. Hoping that we'd forget about that continuing cover-up, Mr. Roberts last week made a big show of calling for an investigation into the Swift story's supposed damage to national security.

Representative King, so eager to label others treasonous, has humiliating headlines of his own to counteract: he's the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee who has so little clout and bureaucratic aptitude that he couldn't stop the government led by his own party from stripping New York City, in his home state, of 40 percent of its counterterrorism funding. If there's another terrorist attack, he may be the last person in New York who should accuse others, as he did The Times on the House floor on Thursday, of having blood "on their hands."

Such ravings make it hard not to think of the official assault on The Times and The Washington Post over the Pentagon Papers. In 1972, on the first anniversary of the publication of that classified Pentagon history of the Vietnam War, The Times's managing editor then, A. M. Rosenthal, reminisced in print about the hyperbolic predictions that had been made by the Nixon White House and its supporters: "Codes would be broken. Military security endangered. Foreign governments would be afraid to deal with us. There would be nothing secret left." None of that happened. What did happen was that Americans learned "how secrecy had become a way of life" for a government whose clandestine policy decisions had fomented a disaster.

The assault on a free press during our own wartime should be recognized for what it is: another desperate ploy by officials trying to hide their own lethal mistakes in the shadows. It's the antithesis of everything we celebrate with the blazing lights of Independence Day.