The generally pessimistic  David Sanger has Wednesday's lead story on Bush's televised speech from Ft. Bragg justifying the Iraq war, "Bush Declares Sacrifice In Iraq To Be 'Worth It.'"
Like his colleague Richard Stevenson does in his "News Analysis," Sanger emphasizes the negative right from the start: "President Bush, facing a growing restiveness around the country and in his own party over the constant stream of casualties in Iraq, declared Tuesday night that the daily sacrifice of American lives in Iraq 'is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country.'.While offering no new strategies in a war that has now stretched for 25 months, with no diminishing of attacks on American forces, he explained that he would not send more troops to face the insurgency in Iraq, unless asked by commanders there, because it would 'undermine our strategy of encouraging Iraqis to take the lead in this fight.' But with the Iraqis slow to take up that role, Mr. Bush's task on Tuesday night, his aides acknowledged, was to bridge a widening gap between the daily news of American and Iraqi casualties and his periodic declarations that the United States is winning. The Department of Defense has identified more than 1,730 casualties among American military personnel."
As if American's suffering casualties and America nonetheless winning the war are somehow mutually exclusive.
Sanger brings up topics tangentially related to Bush's speech about maintaining resolve in Iraq in order to better bash Bush: "Mr. Bush sidestepped arguments about whether his rationale for entering the war was flawed, or based on faulty evidence that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and he made no reference to recently disclosed British government memorandums that show his major ally in the war harbored deep doubts about whether the White House had thought through the risks of the post-invasion period."
Again, Sanger stretches the confines of the story to include one of the anti-Bush brigade's favorite moments in presidential history: "The president has chosen other venues outside Washington for other major speeches, including his May 2003 speech aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln to declare that the Iraqi leader had been ousted and that 'major combat operations' were over. That speech, noted for the banner behind the president that read 'Mission Accomplished,' has been seized upon by his critics as evidence that the White House entered the war without thinking sufficiently about the high cost, in money and blood, of the post-invasion period."
For the rest of Sanger's lead story on Bush's speech, click here: 
"A Split in His Own Party" for Bush Over Iraq
White House reporter Richard Stevenson's "News Analysis" of Bush's televised speech from Ft. Bragg Tuesday night, "Staying the Course in Iraq: Acknowledging Difficulties, Insisting on a Fight to the Finish."
Just as colleague David Sanger did in Wednesday's lead story, Stevenson right from the lead sentence pits Bush against his own party: "President Bush set out Tuesday night to reshape perceptions of what is happening in Iraq after months in which the persistent insurgency has undermined public support for the war, provoked signs of a split in his own party and prompted inconsistent statements from administration officials about how soon things might improve."
Stevenson has some backhanded praise for Bush - he's no longer being as misleading: "He was more forthright in acknowledging the problems the United States has encountered, and more direct than usual in raising and rebutting criticism of two elements of his policy, his opposition to setting a timetable for withdrawal and his decision not to send more American troops to quell the insurgency." The text box strengthens the theme: "Greater frankness, perhaps, but no change of direction."
Not even a positive statement about Bush is left untainted by a balancing critique: "Mr. Bush and his aides have always said they will not make policy based on polls, especially concerning national security, and one of Mr. Bush's characteristic qualities is his steadfastness - his critics might say stubbornness or rigidity - in the face of changing circumstances."
Later, Stevenson again relays pro-Bush points before returning to default mode: "Mr. Bush certainly has cause for some optimism. While the bloodshed goes on unabated, the Iraqis have made real progress in establishing a political system that includes Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. American and Iraqi forces have been capturing or killing leaders of the insurgency and scooping up caches of weapons. Yet the last year has also made clear that the insurgency is bigger, more determined and better organized than it initially appeared. At the same time, Mr. Bush's credibility has come under fire. Recently disclosed memorandums written by British officials in 2002 have given new ammunition to critics of the president who say he was willing to manipulate intelligence and failed to plan adequately for what would happen once Saddam Hussein was deposed."
You can read the rest of Stevenson's analysis here: 
Still Whitewashing Plame-Gate Star Joseph Wilson
The raft of decisions from the Supreme Court's final day of its term includes declining to rule on the case of two reporters facing jail for refusing to reveal sources in the case of Valerie Plame, the C.I.A. operative "outed" in a column by Robert Novak.
Legal correspondent Adam Liptak explains on Tuesday's Page One: "The one-line order by the Supreme Court yesterday was the resolution of the gravest confrontation between the press and the government in a generation, and it came at a time when the news media are under growing pressure and scrutiny over issues of accuracy, credibility and political bias."
Liptak traces the tale back to Joseph Wilson, the itinerant diplomat who is husband of Valerie Plame and is at the core of the controversy: "[Joseph] Wilson was the author of an Op-Ed article critical of a rationale offered by the administration to justify the war in Iraq that was published in The Times eight days before the [Robert] Novak column. Mr. Wilson based his criticism on a trip he took for the C.I.A. to Africa. Mr. Novak's column suggested that the trip was a boondoggle arranged by his wife. In an interview yesterday, Mr. Wilson said the imminent jailing of the reporters 'is a direct result of the president refusing to hold his own administration accountable.' He also said the reporters' sources 'have acted cravenly.'"
But Liptak says nothing of Wilson's own craven behavior, ignoring that despite his denial, Wilson's wife Plame really recommended him for the trip. Furthermore, Wilson's findings actually strengthened the case that Saddam Hussein had attempted to buy uranium from Niger, although in public he claimed the opposite - that the allegation had been debunked by his trip and that Bush had ignored that evidence in his rush to war. But the Times has yet to properly explain  Wilson's deception.
An editorial rundown of the Supreme Court's raft of decisions warns darkly that the Court's decision not to review the case of two reporters threatened with jail for refusing to reveal their sources in the Valerie Plame leak investigation. The headline to that editorial: "And Strikes a Blow at a Strong Press" (as if that's going to break everyone's heart).
While heaping abuse on columnist ("conservative columnist," that is) Robert Novak, who "has stood mute as the two reporters faced imprisonment for defending his rights as well as theirs," the editorial again reveals nothing about the discrediting of former liberal hero Joseph Wilson: "Ms. Plame is the wife of Joseph Wilson, a former diplomat who had been asked by the Bush administration to investigate a possible purchase of uranium by Iraq under Saddam Hussein. He found the claim to be highly dubious and wrote that in an article on the Op-Ed page of The Times."
For the Times editorial click here: 
For Liptak's story click here: 
ACLU, Barry Lynn Not Liberal?
David Kirkpatrick's "Conservatives to Seek Voters' Support for Commandments" is on activist reaction to the Supreme Court's decision that government displays of the Ten Commandments are prohibited on some public property, and it's predictably loaded up  with the "conservative" label: "Christian conservatives said they were taking their fight for government displays of the Ten Commandments to the polls, using the Supreme Court's bookend rulings on Monday for and against such exhibitions as a call to arms in the battle over judicial nominees. Several lawyers and organizers for the Christian right said the most resonant part of the rulings was Justice Antonin Scalia's accusation, in his dissent defending one display of the Commandments, that the majority used the case to 'ratchet up the court's hostility to religion.'"
While Kirkpatrick readily locates "the Christian right" and later "conservative Christians," there are again no liberals, though he quotes favorite  source Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the legal director of the ACLU. Lynn is not a liberal activist but is merely "on the other side."
To read the rest of Kirkpatrick, click here: