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President Bush made a good point when shrugging off the recent shoe-throwing incident in Baghdad -- compliments of Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi -- by saying that such outbursts are to be expected in a free and open society.

Certainly if Saddam Hussein's iron fist still ruled Iraq, and Mr. al-Zeidi dared untie his size-10 shoes and hurl them in the direction of the Iraqi president and his visiting foreign guest, the scribe would have been dragged screaming and kicking in stocking feet to the beheading chamber and his skull split open, crown to chin, with a dull blade.


Regarding Tuesday's item quoting philosopher Mahatma Gandhi as saying, "Three-quarters of the miseries and misunderstandings in the world would finish if people were to put on the shoes of their adversaries and understood their points of view," Inside the Beltway reader Sander Fredman writes:

"Presuming a trial or an admission of guilt by Muntadhar al-Zeidi, an appropriate punishment would be to have the Iraqi reporter walk around in a pair of shoes of our president for one day."


As of September 2008, the amount of funding Congress provided the Pentagon for the global war on terrorism declared by President Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks: $808 billion

-- Government Accountability Office letter to Congress, dated Dec. 15, obtained by Inside the Beltway


Columnist and talking-head Pat Buchanan, suffice it to say, does not support President Bush and President-elect Barack Obama stimulating and bailing out everybody and everything in America.

"Bush and Obama are competing to shovel out trillions of dollars, so we can return to the good times of yesterday. But wasn't yesterday the root cause of today? Didn't saving nothing and spending more than we earn, purchasing what we cannot afford in cars, consumer goods, and houses, buying far more from abroad than we sell abroad - didn't that cause this crisis and crash?

"A family man in America's condition, awash in debt, spending more than he makes, would cut back consumption, find a second job, and get out of debt. Or declare bankruptcy, accept the shame and humiliation, change his ways, and start anew. Is it different for a nation?"


National Review's editors heard conservative columnist Michelle Malkin joke that after the money-lenders and jalopy-makers, ailing U.S. newspapers would come around asking for a government handout.

"Michelle shouldn't tell jokes," the editors state. "Connecticut politicians are considering support for several ailing newspapers, the Herald (of New Britain) and the Bristol Press among them. There are many reasons to oppose such an action."

Not the least being that it is "impossible to have a free press bankrolled by the government: A press that is not financially independent is not editorially independent," the magazine notes.

One of the Connecticut newspapers is operated by the Journal Register Co., its stock having gone from $25 a share to a penny.


"Sight for Sore Eyes on CNN," praises the Columbia Journalism Review -- cleaner TV screen space:

"A visual calm (well, not quite that) has come to CNN. The cable network has retired its bottom-of-the-screen news crawl (The Ticker) and replaced it with rotating phrases/headlines (The Flipper) that actually stay static on the screen long enough to be read (and sometimes even have something to do with what the anchor is saying at the time).

"CNN exec Bart Feder is touting the lack of visual clutter, the cleaner 'screen space.' This from the channel that brought us presidential debates with such on-screen graphics as the 'perception analyzer' and pundit scoreboards."

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