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Last week, Politico reported that the Washington Post had planned to put on an exclusive off-the-record "salon" at the home of its publisher, where corporate lobbyists would pay as much as $250,000 to gain access to Post reporters and editors, as well as Obama administration officials and members of Congress. The news provoked an outcry in DC journalism circles -- the Post's own ombudsman called it "pretty close to a public relations disaster" -- and the the event was quickly canceled.

But the notion that the Post's gambit represents some sort of new and uniquely outrageous collapsing of the wall between the editorial and business sides of a news publication is badly off the mark. In fact, it would be closer to the truth to say that the paper got caught pushing the envelope on a money-making and influence-building strategy that other outlets had been quietly deploying for years.

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Thousands of right-wing activists across this country rang in the Independence Day holiday with yet another round of tea-party protests against President Obama, inadvertently highlighting an interesting divide in the Republican Party. On the one hand are the hard-line activists who attend these things, versus the more mainstream politicians who want to win elections and are looking for their votes -- and are running into all manner of conflicts as a result, or finding themselves taking on some rather interesting policy stances along the way.

Most notably, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, was booed at the event in Austin -- on the grounds that he's part of the problem in Washington, having voted for the Wall St. bailout last fall. "I'm not part of Washington," Cornyn said in his own defense. "I happen to work there, but on behalf of Texas, and I can vote 'no' on these reckless spending bills, on the refusal to cut taxes."

Gov. Rick Perry -- who famously seemed to raise the specter of Texas seceding from the union during the April Tax Day protests -- was also booed at the same Austin event as Cornyn. Attendees saw him as yet another tax-hiking tyrant, because he supports toll roads in order to relieve traffic congestion.

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Robert S. McNamara, pictured here at Fort Bragg in 1961, served as defense secretary under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. The Vietnam War was known to many as "McNamara's War."

Cecil Stoughton, White House photographer via Wikimedia

McNamara at his desk in the Pentagon. President Kennedy recruited him as secretary of defense after just a month as president of Ford Motor Co. He was the longest-serving secretary of defense, staying in that role for seven years.

MSGT Frank Hall/ Rapport

Kennedy and McNamara in the Cabinet Room in 1962.

Cecil Stoughton, White House photographer via Wikimedia

McNamara and General William Westmoreland speaking with a general about the Vietnam War in 1965. Although initially proud of his association with the war, he expressed regret in his 1995 memoirs.

Dept. of Defense via Wikimedia

Secretary of State Dean Rusk (left), President Johnson and McNamara at a Cabinet meeting in 1968. "He's like a jackhammer," President Johnson said, as quoted by the New York Times. "No human being can take what he takes. He drives too hard. He is too perfect."

White House via Wikimedia

By the mid 1960s, McNamara was having doubts about whether the war was winnable. But he didn't publicly acknowledge these doubts until his 1995 memoirs, in which he called his own conduct "wrong, terribly wrong."

White House via Wikimedia

McNamara speaks at a 2005 event for the WMD Awareness Programme, an organization that opposes nuclear weapons. "My sense of the war gradually shifted from concern to skepticism to frustration to anguish," he wrote in his book. "I had always been confident that every problem could be solved, but now I found myself confronting one -- involving national pride and human life -- that could not."


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At least two of the key senators writing health care reform legislation seem to think a pre-August recess deadline for passing a bill in the Senate is too ambitious. Speaking on Face the Nation on Sunday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said a completed Senate bill might have to wait until September. "If we can reach a compromise, we can get this done by Aug. 8 or at least get it out of committee by Aug. 8," Grassley said.

Likewise, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT)--who has taken the lead on health care reform efforts in the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, doesn't sound terribly optimistic. According to Roll Call, Dodd "signaled late last week that Democratic leaders do not expect a bill to clear the Senate in the next five weeks." Instead, Dodd thinks a more realistic goal is to merge the HELP and Finance committee bills before recess and debate the bill on the floor after Labor Day--a process that, if all goes smoothly, may still take two weeks.

All of which calls into doubt whether a final bill will reach President Obama's desk by mid-October, as he's requested.

Rep. Pete King (R-NY), a potential Senate candidate in 2010 against either incumbent Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand or Rep. Carolyn Maloney -- it depends on who wins that primary -- has taken to YouTube to send a strong message about media coverage of Michael Jackson, as opposed to coverage of real heroes like our servicemen and women, teachers in rough neighborhoods, policemen, firefighters, doctors and nurses, etc.:

"Let's knock out the psychobabble, this guy was a pervert, he was a child molester, he was a pedophile, and to be giving this much coverage to him day in and day out, what does it say about us and our country?" said King. "I just think it's too - we're too politically correct. No one wants to stand up and say, 'We don't need Michael Jackson.' You know, he died, he had some talent. Fine. But people are dying everyday. There's men and women are dying in Afghanistan. Let's give them the credit they deserve."

Robert McNamara, the defense secretary who served under John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and helped lead America into the Vietnam War, died today at the age of 93. Here are selections from today's obituaries:

From the New York Times: "The war became his personal nightmare."

By [1995] he wore the expression of a haunted man. He could be seen in the streets of Washington -- stooped, his shirttail flapping in the wind -- walking to and from his office a few blocks from the White House, wearing frayed running shoes and a thousand-yard stare.

From the Washington Post:
He was a brilliant student, a compulsive worker and a skillful planner and organizer, whose manifest talents carried him from modest circumstances in California to the highest levels of the Washington power structure. ... But ... [f]or his role in the war, McNamara was vilified by harsh and unforgiving critics, and his entire record was unalterably clouded.

From the Boston Globe:
No one person can be assigned responsibility for escalating the US role in the conflict. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, national security adviser McGeorge Bundy, Secretary of State Dean Rusk: Each played his part. To many, though, it was "McNamara's war," as US Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon once put it.

"I don't object to its being called McNamara's war," Mr. McNamara said during a 1964 press conference. "I think it is a very important war, and I am pleased to be identified with it and do whatever I can to win it."

From The Associated Press:
McNamara disclosed that by 1967 he had deep misgivings about Vietnam -- by then he had lost faith in America's capacity to prevail over a guerrilla insurgency that had driven the French from the same jungled countryside.

Despite those doubts, he had continued to express public confidence that the application of enough American firepower would cause the Communists to make peace. In that period, the number of U.S. casualties -- dead, missing and wounded -- went from 7,466 to over 100,000.


McNamara served as the World Bank president for 12 years. He tripled its loans to developing countries and changed its emphasis from grandiose industrial projects to rural development.

After retiring in 1981, he championed the causes of nuclear disarmament and aid by the richest nation for the world's poorest. He became a global elder statesman.

From the Los Angeles Times:
McNamara was a colossus of the briefing room, equipped with a steel-trap memory and a facility with numbers that dominated Cabinet meetings and congressional hearings. Early on, a dazzled Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater Jr. called him "one of the best secretaries ever, an IBM machine with legs." Goldwater later altered his view, echoing veteran generals who felt McNamara was "a one-man disaster."

FBI: Palin Not Under Investigation The Anchorage Daily News reports that the FBI has taken the unusual step of affirmatively declaring that Sarah Palin is not under investigation. "We are not investigating her," said FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez. "Normally we don't confirm or deny those kind of allegations out there, but by not doing so it just casts her in a very bad light. There is just no truth to those rumors out there in the blogosphere."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrived in Moscow this morning. At 6 a.m. ET (2 p.m. local time), Obama participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Russian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At 6:50 a.m. ET, he met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, with an expanded working meeting at 7:25 a.m. ET. At 10:30 a.m. ET, they will hold a joint press conference. At 11:30 a.m. ET, Obama and the First Lady will meet with U.S. Embassy personnel. At 12:35 p.m. ET, the Obamas will have dinner with President Medvedev and Russian First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva.

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Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) has now all but officially announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate. Over the holiday weekend, the retired Rear Admiral--who's been dancing around the question for weeks now--continued a listening tour of every county in Pennsylvania.

At a stop in Northampton County yesterday, he spoke of his candidacy as a fait accompli. "This isn't something I wanted to do four months ago, but it has to be done," Sestak told Lehigh Valley Live. "Someone has to be in this race that's credible."

In late May, TPMDC broke the news that Sestak had been raising money from supporters for an intended Senate primary run against freshly minted Democrat Arlen Specter. Sestak has been critical of Specter since Specter switched parties earlier this spring, calling him an unreliable Democrat and questioning his fitness to serve another term.

Palin Attacks "Main Stream Media" Not Understanding Her Resignation Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) released a statement yesterday to comment further on her decision to resign -- and again, she attacks the media for going after her. "The response in the main stream media has been most predictable, ironic, and as always, detached from the lives of ordinary Americans who are sick of the 'politics of personal destruction,'" Palin writes. "How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it's about country. And though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will depart from the White House tonight at 8:15 p.m. ET, leaving for Obama's overseas trip this week starting with Moscow, Russia.

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On Saturday July 4th, in response to questions surrounding her sudden and largely unexplained resignation, out-going Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) released the following message ...

Happy 4th of July from Alaska! Today at 4:55pm On this Independence Day, I am so very proud of all those who have chosen to serve our great nation and I honor their selflessness and the sacrifices of their families, too.

If I may, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the last 24 hours and share my thoughts with you.

First, I want to thank you for your support and hard work on the values we share. Those values led me to the decision my family and I made. Yesterday, my family and I announced a decision that is in Alaska's best interest and it always feels good to do what is right. We have accomplished more during this one term than most governors do in two - and I am proud of the great team that helped to build these wonderful successes. Energy independence and national security, fiscal restraint, smaller government, and local control have been my priorities and will remain my priorities.

For months now, I have consulted with friends and family, and with the Lieutenant Governor, about what is best for our wonderful state. I even made a few administrative changes over that course in time in preparation for yesterday. We have accomplished so much and there's much more to do, but my family and I determined after prayerful consideration that sacrificing my title helps Alaska most. And once I decided not to run for re-election, my decision was that much easier - I've never been one to waste time or resources. Those who know me know this is the right decision and obvious decision at that, including Senator John McCain. I thank him for his kind, insightful comments.

The response in the main stream media has been most predictable, ironic, and as always, detached from the lives of ordinary Americans who are sick of the "politics of personal destruction". How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it's about country. And though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make. But every American understands what it takes to make a decision because it's right for all, including your family.

I shared with you yesterday my heartfelt and candid reasons for this change; I've never thought I needed a title before one's name to forge progress in America. I am now looking ahead and how we can advance this country together with our values of less government intervention, greater energy independence, stronger national security, and much-needed fiscal restraint. I hope you will join me. Now is the time to rebuild and help our nation achieve greatness!

God bless you! And I look forward to making a difference - with you!