Weve been eager to

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We’ve been eager to hit the half-a-million monthly TPM readers benchmark. And in March we finally did.

Stats for March: Unique visitors: 560,957; Total visits 2,577,021; Total pageviews 3,540,296. As always, a sincere thanks to everyone who made those numbers possible.

A few other points to discuss.

According to The Hill, Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee may try to subpoena Doug Badger, President Bush’s White House healthcare adviser, if he doesn’t show up to testify on Capitol Hill. They want to ask him about possible White House involvement in fudging the numbers of the recent Medicare prescription drug bill.

(The story is also covered here by Knight Ridder.)

Normally, Committee Republicans can shut something like this down on a party-line vote. But a mix of political pressure and genuine Republican disgruntlement over being lied to may prevent that.

The White House is refusing to make Badger available. Why? One guess … Separation of powers.

One would imagine that Badger’s testimony would be allowable under the White House’s recently-discovered ‘scandal exception’ to the normally high bar on testimony from White House aides. But apparently that theory is no longer operative. Or perhaps it’s one of those precedent-less arguments which only apply to Condi Rice. One way or another it’s apparently down the memory-hole — which is starting to get rather full, in case you haven’t noticed.

(A Note to White House gaggleers: This is a spoon feed, folks. Just last week the White House argued that the separation-of-powers bar on testimony applied to questions of policy not appearances tied to scandal or congressional investigations into wrongdoing. This clearly falls right into that category. It’s wrapped in a bow. Why not ask?)

And speaking of White House shenanigans …

Yesterday, Rep. Henry Waxman wrote a letter to White House Counsel Al Gonzales asking whether he had placed calls to “selected” members of the 9/11 Commission during Richard Clarke’s testimony last week, as reported today by the Washington Post. Presumably this was to feed them White House talking points to be used when they got to question Clarke. We’ve just posted the letter to the TPM Document Collection.

Longtime readers know we used to keep the TPM Document Collection section of the website very up-to-date — confidential documents, video of nasty attacks ads, public records that should be more public, etc. But with all the rush of events over the last several months, we haven’t been able to update it often enough. And the existing design isn’t up to snuff.

In any case, with some expanded resources we’re going to redebut the Document Collection with a new design and other added features. One of the things we’re going to do is more marking up of the various electronic documents we post — highlighting key passages, interlinear notes, stuff like that.

And here’s where I’d like to enlist your assistance. To do this I’m probably going to need to get one of these Tablet PCs to allow me to handwrite on electronic documents, mark them up, and so forth. Now, about seventy or eighty thousand people visit this website each day. So I figure there must be more than a few people out there who have a sense of which are well-designed and which aren’t. So any input would be greatly appreciated.

And one other thing.

In case you missed it, make sure you read Steve Clemons’ oped in the New York Times yesterday on part of the collateral damage from the war on terror — namely, the steep decline in educational, scientific and cultural exchange visas issued since 9/11. Steve is going to be opening up his own blog in the near future. And if he ever gets the lead out and puts the thing online we’ll be linking forthwith since it’s sure to be a must-read.

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