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Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This column’s item “ACLU and the flag” was based on a misreported quote from the American Civil Liberties Union. The entire item has been retracted.

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ACLU and the flag

On Monday, the White House took down the e-mail address, flag@whitehouse.gov. But before burning the “flag” story altogether, let’s wallow a bit in the liberal (non)reaction.

Linda Douglass, the communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform who said “one of my jobs is to keep track of all the disinformation that’s out there about health insurance reform,” had appeared in a White House blog post.

The text of the post said that “since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help” by sending any “fishy” information on health care reform and the source to that e-mail address, which prompted conservative and libertarian blogs to deride it as a snitch program and the soliciting of government informants.

But remember when the American Civil Liberties Union thought the White House couldn’t be trusted? In the ensuing furor, the ACLU was asked by FoxNews.com for reaction.

The statement said “the White House blog is a ‘bad idea that could send a troublesome message.’ But the organization added, ‘While it is unclear at this point what the government is doing with the information it is collecting, critics of the administration’s health care proposal should not fear that their names will end up in some government database that could be used to chill their right to free speech.’ ”

Or as the conservative blog Stop the ACLU paraphrased: “You just have to trust Barry, ‘cause he is just so cute and fuzzy!”

And “Slublog” at the Ace of Spades site recalled that the ACLU took a different tack once upon a time, citing a case when George W. Bush administration officials warned about speech that could aid terrorists.

“Remember when [Bush press secretary] Ari Fleischer said Americans should ‘watch what they say’? Back then, the ACLU said that was a warning to ‘remind us how easily our precious First Amendment rights can be lost,’ ” Slublog remembered.

“The White House snitch program under President Obama, though, is just a ‘bad idea that could send a troublesome message.’ They also want you to know that even though the White House may be collecting personal information, it’s cool. They’re totally sure Obama won’t do anything with it. Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I sure feel reassured. Whew. I mean, it’s not like Obama wants his critics to just shut up or anything, right? Right?” Slublog concluded by linking to a video of Mr. Obama saying that conservatives should be silent, “I dont want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking.”

Jackson Lee I

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas Democrat, sure knows how to talk.

Not only did she take a cell phone call during an Aug. 11 Houston town-hall meeting, but when asked about the video, which went viral last week, she talked at, up and around the question. Just not “about” it.

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