Limited Results a Necessary Trade-Off?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

After claiming that the Bush administration had no right to request information from its database in a government probe to monitor online pornography, popular Internet search engine Beijing in censoring the output on its Chinese search site, limiting results from such search terms as "democracy" and "human rights."

For example, a search for the outlawed religious group Falun Gong that turned up more than 3.5 million hits on the U.S. Google found just 537 in China — most of which were government sites condemning the group. Google called its decision a necessary trade-off to allow Chinese users greater access to other information.

Nonpartisan NSA Report?

Democrats have made much of a report released last week asserting that President Bush broke the law in authorizing the National Security Agency to intercept phone calls from suspected terrorists overseas to the United States, noting the "nonpartisan" nature of the group that prepared it. But the Washington Times notes the author of the Congressional Research Service report, national security specialist Alfred Cumming, is not only a registered Democrat — he served as staff director for the Senate Intelligence committee under since-retired Florida Democrat Bob Graham and contributed $1250 to John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.

Joel the Joker?

Conservatives worked up by Los Angeles Times columnist Joel Stein's Monday article in which he said he does not support the troops in Iraq because he does not support their mission, may be taking the Times' columnist and his views more seriously than he does. Stein, after all, has acknowledged that after offending the New York Times' op-ed diva Maureen Dowd in an earlier column for Time Magazine, he apologized at length over the telephone.

Later, fearing that the apology had not succeeded, Stein considered sending Dowd a bottle of wine to make amends, but wound up sending her a case of Chardonnay, which she subsequently returned unopened. Stein claims, "I've since employed various people in Washington and New York to call me whenever Dowd is at a restaurant so I can have a bottle of unwanted chardonnay sent to her table."

Dubious Endorsement

Someone who does take his work far seriously is William Blum — the author who made the news when Usama bin Laden recommended his book, "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower," in that audiotape released last week. Bin Laden specifically praised Blum's claim that terrorism could be stopped if only the president would apologize to "all the many millions of victims of American imperialism."

Far from being repulsed by bin Laden's endorsement, Blum, who describes his life's mission as "slowing down the American empire...[and] injuring the beast," tells the Washington Post he was glad for the "good publicity,” calling it "almost as good as being an Oprah book."

— FOX News' Dominique Pastre contributed to this report