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Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

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Liberal vs. liberal

In the blue corner: Glenn Greenwald of Salon. In the red corner: Keith Olbermann of MSNBC and DailyKos. The issue: Sen. Barack Obama’s reversal of his opposition to a bill to update the 30-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which largely grants the administration what it wants on the hot-button issue of immunity for telecommunications firms.

At his Salon blog Unclaimed Territory, Mr. Greenwald noted Mr. Olbermann’s having called the provision a “literally textbook example of Fascism” being pushed by “the bureaucrats of the Third Reich.” Then he crammed down Mr. Olbermann’s throat an MSNBC transcript in which the host praised the Obama vote as “not cowering to the left, not going along with … the new conventional thinking on the FISA bill.”

“What’s much more notable is Olbermann’s full-scale reversal on how he talks about these measures now that Obama - rather than George Bush - supports them,” Mr. Greenwald notes. “Grave warning on Olbermann’s show that telecom amnesty and FISA revisions were hallmarks of Bush Fascism instantaneously transformed into a celebration that Obama, by supporting the same things, was leading a courageous, centrist crusade in defense of our Constitution.”

In a pungent response in his DailyKos diary, Mr. Olbermann said he had changed his mind about the poisonous nature of the FISA bill after talking to John Dean, whom he said had told him that it would only grant the companies civil immunity, but they still could be criminally prosecuted.

Mr. Olbermann said he hoped Mr. Obama’s strategy was to “shut up and take the criticism and hope the Republicans don’t see the loophole,” though a cynic might question the wisdom of saying this publicly at one of the most widely read sites on the Internet. He then went on to the kidney punches (“I don’t know much about Mr. Greenwald and I didn’t read his full piece”) and the rabbit punches (his “suggestion of some kind of betrayal on my part is simplistic and childish.”)

Mr. Greenwald fired back the next day, criticizing both Mr. Olbermann’s rationalization (noting the skepticism of both Mr. Dean and “Kos” himself Markos Moulitsas) and also the mentality he said it reflected (throwing the lowest liberal blow: a comparison to President Bush).

“There are likely many reasons for [the bill to confine] immunity to civil liability - including the heightened difficulty of proving criminal intent and, most importantly, the fact that Bush, on his way out, can pardon telecoms from criminal but not civil liability. So it’s far from certain that Obama - even if he did have a Secret Plan criminally to prosecute telecoms once in office - would even be able to do so,” he noted.

“To give Obama a pass on his support for such a heinous bill … based on this imagined secret plan for the Good that Obama is harboring is to illustrate exactly the sort of blind faith in political leaders that is so dangerous. That’s been the Right’s mentality to excuse every last thing Bush does.”

L’Electrique slide

Ronald Reagan used to say that “government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

The latest French social fad - line dancing - has become so popular that the civil service has made a prophet again of Mr. Reagan.

“Sure they have a relatively sane President now and a smoking hot first lady but the place is still messed up beyond redemption. What’s the latest craze in France? Country line dancing! And they’ve managed to muck even that up by regulating the [heck] out of it,” wrote Drew M., one of the bloggers at the redesigned conservative blog Ace of Spades.

“In a peculiarly Gallic approach to the phenomenon, French civil servants say line dancing should be submitted to the same rules as sports such as football and rugby. This means imposing training courses for line dancing teachers and a state-approved diploma for anyone who wants to give lessons or run clubs,” read a recent London Times article being quoted at the site.

“Of all the things that the French could pick to worship from America they go with line dancing and Jerry Lewis. And they think they are so superior why exactly?” Drew M. wondered.

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