After a year or more of running this blog without rules, we seemed to have recently crossed the Rubicon: in moving from our internal member conversations to a more open, perhaps wild frontier on the Net, the dialogue has gone from that of mutual respect and intellectual exchange to anonymous insult and emotional attack.

So, as of today I am putting the same rules in place on this blog as we use in our newsletter.  They are very simple:

1. All comments must be signed, hopefully with real names.  Since we are not naive, there is also:

2. Comments should be about issues, and not personal and / or emotional attacks.  Fine to say you don’t agree or like something, but say why.

3. We will allow anonymous (to the public) comments in only one situation: when the poster would suffer career damage from the expression of ideas.  In these cases, we will require the poster’s real name be shared with us, and we will post the comments anonymously.

In other words: vigorous debate is encouraged, hate mail is not allowed. 

I have no doubt that my recent posting on Bush administration officials being tried and jailed for crimes made some folks angry.  Fair enough: write a comment, with your name, indicating why you think these people are innnocent. 

I will note that Keith Olberman, the object of one hate mail, tonight reported two major new stories that all Americans should find of interest: first, that the NSA has been warrantlessly wiretapping every U.S. citizen, at home (not overseas), with a special focus on journalists; and, second, that the top U.N. official in charge of war crimes investigations believes that Bush and Rumsfeld are guilty of same, that his charter does not require domestic prosecution first, and that he is therefore free to pursue Bush and Rumsfeld as of now.

That didn’t take long.