Watchdog Blog

Archive for February, 2009

Gilbert Cranberg: Clawback Time

The New York Times devoted a massive chunk of its Sunday Feb. 22 business section – 142 column inches by my count – to the hundreds of millions of dollars paid to executives of seven financial institutions despite their dismal management records. The question explored by the Times was whether compensation supposedly for performance should [...]

Herb Strentz: As Yepsen Leaves, It’s the Ending of the Guard

Sometimes you need to draw a distinction between “the changing of the guard” and what might be called “the end of the guard.” That’s the case with the announcement that David Yepsen, the political columnist for the Des Moines Register, will leave the paper in April to become director of the Paul Simon Public Policy [...]

Dan Froomkin: A One-Man Destroyer of Groupthink

Chas Freeman’s selection to be chairman of the National Intelligence Council (first reported by Laura Rozen of is notable not just for his surprising (and, to some, disturbing) even-handedness about the Middle East. The man is one of a rare breed: He is a Washington insider, and yet he is also a ferociously independent [...]

Carolyn Lewis: The High Cost of Doing the Right Thing

It was just a small item in The Washington Post: California’s Republican Party voted to deny party funds for the 2010 election to six GOP lawmakers who broke ranks with the party to support a tax increase. The increase was desperately needed to pass a state budget facing a $42 billion shortfall. The party’s decision [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Dear Abbie, What Should I Have Done?

My wife and I had dinner recently at a place we frequent. This time we were involuntary witnesses to the sexual abuse of a child. The party at the adjoining table consisted of six persons — a couple of girls of about seven or eight, two youngish women, one of whom appeared to be the [...]

Mary C. Curtis: I’m Just Not into That

While commentators debate whether a New York Post cartoon that links cops, a dead monkey and perhaps a president is stupid, racist or both (that last one gets my vote)… While citizens weigh in on Attorney General Eric Holder’s labeling of America as a nation of “cowards” when it comes to dealing with the issue [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: A Misbegotten Arrest and Ruling

Irving H. Feiner was no household name, but on Feb. 3 the New York Times gave him a 27-inch obituary worthy of a celebrity. Why the big spread? Feiner was arrested in 1949 for a high-decibel harangue in inner-city Syracuse, N.Y., while he was a student at Syracuse University. His prosecution and conviction for disorderly [...]

Herb Strentz: Happy Birthday, Charlie. (You too, Abe.)

As you likely have been told, time and again, Thursday, Feb. 12, marks the bicentennial of the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin — two men who “changed the world forever,” as Smithsonian magazine notes. The National Geographic joins in with a tribute just to Darwin. Let’s focus on Darwin. The February issues of [...]

Carolyn Lewis: The Ones Who Lost

No wonder President Obama is showing signs of frustration. He’s tried everything – kindness, cookies, sweet reason – and the Republicans, the ones who lost the last election, refuse to play the game. They refuse even to acknowledge that the game, courtesy of a majority of the voters and the economic crisis, has changed at [...]

Gilbert Cranberg: Will the Bush Library Tell It Like It Was?

Now that George W. Bush has vacated the Oval Office he will have time on his hands, some of which he plans to devote to the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the campus at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. That may not be altogether welcome to some SMU faculty and staff. Word that the [...]