January, 2005 link archive

Monday, January 3, 2005

Juan Cole writes that a weekend demonstration by thousands of Fallujans who "demanded that U.S. military forces leave their city" went apparently uncovered by Western media.

A prominent appearance beside a Shiite cleric suggests to a New York Times reporter that Ahmed Chalabi, who says that "we will need American forces to be in Iraq for the foreseeable future," has "gained a strong position within the Shiite coalition."

An Iraqi candidate tells the Los Angeles Times that meet-and-greet campaigning is somewhat constrained by the fact that "we are moving targets in the streets," while parties and voters "can't get answers to basic questions, such as the locations of polling stations."

Baghdad Burning's Riverbend writes that Iraqis sense that upcoming elections are "just the final act of a really bad play," with problems including unknown candidates, the selling of ballots, and "the fact that on all the voting cards, the gender of the voter, regardless of sex, is labeled 'male.'"

Knight Ridder reports that "Sunnis nationwide are deciding to sit it out," and that there are "neither voter registration centers nor any registered voters" in Fallujah, Ramadi and other Sunni strongholds, and an Economist dispatch from Ramadi notes that "when America's well-drilled and well-fed fighters attempt subtler tasks than killing people, problems arise."

Outlook hazy, try again. Baghblog goes behind the Magic 8-ball for a transcript with "all the hallmarks of an interview with an Iraqi official (or an American military source, for that matter)," including "evasive and sometimes cryptic answers."

As U.S. military fatalities in Iraq climb past 1,333, Truthout names the 'Top 10 War Profiteers of 2004,' and Defense Tech explains why the previously-reported $30 billion in Pentagon budget cuts are probably bogus.

The New York Times reports that in the aftermath of the tsunami, "many ordinary Indonesians understood the need for help better than the government did," and that Aceh has been a virtual no-gone zone for foreigners. Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post, private groups seeking permission to help survivors on two Indian islands have been put on hold for five days. Plus: revising Bush's "initial" pledge.

A Times story on 'The Future of Calamity' cites an estimate that "less than 10 percent of the money spent on disaster relief by government agencies and institutions like the World Bank goes to preventive measures," and Critical Montages recalls an essay in which Mike Davis argues that the earth is becoming a 'planet of slums' where the poor are "everywhere forced to settle on hazardous and otherwise unbuildable terrains."

A U.S. columnist responds to an Indian Express commentator's complaint that "Unlike the aftermath of 9/11 -- when not one dead body was shown on screen, not one ghastly image recorded for posterity, and about the only objectionable visual was of a man jumping to his death -- Asia's tsunami is open season" for Western TV networks. Plus: Amateur video fuels TV news and blog coverage.

Michael Froomkin sees the creation of an 'American Gulag' in a report of "long-range solutions" involving "potentially lifetime detentions" for "suspected terrorists" -- called a "bad idea" by one GOP senator -- while King of Zembla liberates from The Atlantic portions of remarks written to be delivered in the year 2011 by that cockeyed optimist, Richard Clarke.

As the Justice Department releases a new memo broadening its definition of torture, Eric Umansky says that recently released torture documents show the government still isn't coming clean. Plus: 'Iraq torture investigators reveal scores of new cases.'

Joanne Mariner reviews the case of Abu Ali, a "U.S. citizen, born and raised in this country [and] valedictorian of his high school class in Virginia," said to have been outsourced for abuse to Saudi Arabia and held there without charges "to avoid the scrutiny of the federal courts."

The New York Times reports that critics of Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales plan to ask him "hard questions" before voting to confirm him anyway. The story says "they hope to lay down a record that will make it difficult for him to be confirmed to the Supreme Court" at a later date.

"The worst I've ever seen it," a senior administration official tells the New York Daily News, which reports 'Bush 2 off to shaky start,' although the Washington Post reports that this time the "transition will be a lot easier."

AP reports that the Bush administration doled out $1.17 billion in 2003 to "faith-based" organizations, including $25,000 to an agency in Tucson where visitors are "greeted by a picture of Jesus and quotes from the Bible."

"George W. Bush's vision for America's future is coming into clearer focus," writes Robert Parry. "For the next generation or more, it appears the American people will be asked to sacrifice their children, their tax dollars and possibly the remnants of their democracy to what a top U.S. commander now candidly calls the 'Long War.'" Plus: Time to use the F-word when speaking of today's conservatives?

A forthcoming book by former EPA head, Christine Todd Whitman, blasts the Bush campaign for ignoring the country's middle: "The Karl Rove strategy to focus so rigorously on the narrow conservative base won the day, but we must ask at what price to governing and at what risk to the future of the party."

Newsweek reports on an interview it conducted with Sen. John Kerry on November 11, after Kerry called to complain about the magazine's election issue. Newsweek doesn't explain why it held the interview, but does tout its inclusion in a new book on the campaign.

'Pravada, Izvestia, Time' Matt Taibbi calls Time's "Person of the Year" issue "positively hysterical in its iconolatry ... From beginning to end, the magazine behaves like a man who knocks himself out making an extravagant six-course candlelit dinner for a blow-up doll, in an effort to convince himself he's really in love."

Chris Hedges profiles MediaChannel.org's Danny Schecter, who says his film, "Weapons of Mass Deception," "will be broadcast on television stations in Australia, Spain, the Middle East and Japan. I am waiting for a station here with the guts to broadcast it." Earlier: Hedges 'On War.'

Commercial Suicide Slate's Jack Shafer defends the right of Hezbollah's satellite TV station, Al-Manar, to broadcast in the U.S., after it was simutaneously added to the government's Terrorist Exclusion List and dumped by its North American satellite provider.

"Democracy Now!" offers up a 2004 year-in-review and re-airs its November interview with former "economic hit man," John Perkins.

December 30-January 2

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

As Iraqi insurgents gun down the governor of Baghdad province and six of his bodyguards, a wave of bombing has reportedly prompted Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi to phone President Bush to discuss election obstacles.

Gilbert Achcar writes in ZNet that "the Bush administration has a clear strategic objective: securing control of Iraq for the long haul. But Washington does not know how to achieve this goal or how to reconcile it with the forecast result of the elections."

Washington appears to be backing away from Arab political reforms and talk of inevitable "democratization" of the Middle East, says Adam Morrow of IPS.

The AP cites an Arab newspaper as saying that the suicide bomber who killed 22 people in a U.S. mess tent in Mosul was a Saudi medical student.

A report that that the resistance in Iraq numbers "more than 200,000 people," according to the country's national intelligence head, gets little play in the U.S., and a Chicago Tribune op-ed argues that it's time to break the Pottery Barn rule.

USA Today reports that members of Congress expect the White House to ask for an additional $100 billion to fund the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the form of a "supplemental" request that would "keep it out of the budget Bush will submit in February."

A WSWS article contends that a joint appearance by the president, his father and Bill Clinton "underscores the growing alarm in U.S. ruling circles over Bush's public display of indifference" to the tsunami disaster, and Doug Ireland says the photo-op was "part of the Republicans' continuing offensive to down-size government by shunting its proper functions to private sector groups."

"It's like the MasterCard commercial," one foreign affairs analyst tells the Christian Science Monitor, "The goodwill that it buys -- priceless." But another is quoted as saying that "if the U.S. really hopes to improve its standing around the world, it has to figure out a way to get out of Iraq and change its policies on the Arab-Israeli conflict."

The London Times reports that Israeli Prime Minister Sharon has been warned that orders to evacuate settlers from Gaza and the West Bank could "spark large-scale insubordination by soldiers" who would refuse to obey, and thus "threaten the very fabric of Israeli society." Plus: "Britons rank Israel 'worst country.'"

A Los Angeles Times story headlined 'An Afghan Quandary for the U.S.,' says that "having ousted the Taliban from power, the Bush administration now finds that its three main policy objectives in [Afghanistan] -- counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics and political stability -- appear to be contradictory."

The AP reports that confirmation hearings this week for Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales "may become more contentious because the White House has refused to provide copies of his memos on the questioning of terror suspects."

'Third' Rail The Bush administration intends to propose formula changes to Social Security that would result in "cutting promised benefits by nearly a third in the coming decades," reports the Washington Post, with one analyst comparing the move to "sticking your hand in a wasp nest."

Calling Social Security privatization "a fake solution to a fake crisis," Paul Krugman says the "Bush administration's scaremongering over Social Security is in large part an effort to distract the public from the real fiscal danger."

In advance of a scheduled visit by President Bush to an Illinois county deemed America's worst "judicial hell hole" by the American Tort Reform Association, CJR Daily's Susan Stranahan looks at how reporters are covering the issues surrounding Bush's proposed reforms. Earlier: 'Lowering the Bar'

"I just play one on TV ..." American Prospect's Greg Sargent profiles Richard Berman, a self-styled consumer advocate who "works for corporate America."

The House GOP backs away from ethics rule changes, leading one GOP Rep. to say, "I feel like we have just taken a shower." And possibly avoided a floor vote? Plus: "Can The Hammer remain The Hammer after such an ignominious climb-down?"

Family Value An AP report notes that "despite the modifications made by Republicans at a closed-door meeting Monday," other rules changes will still "make it harder to proceed with an ethics investigation," as well as allowing "lawmakers and their staff ... to take a relative along on lobbyist-financed trips."

Carpetbagger finds Bush's Inaugural committee chair "unusually helpful" in "effectively admitting" that the upcoming inauguration won't actually honor U.S. troops but will instead "acknowledge their sacrifices by making them the theme of the festivities."

The Billings Gazette chronicles a "bizarre" move by Montana House GOPers, who "voted en mass" to elect a Democrat as Speaker -- and to defeat the choice of the Democratic caucus for the post.

'Blog-Gate' The Columbia Journalism Review's Corey Pein examines the reporting on "Memogate," and finds that while "Dan Rather and company stand accused of undue haste, carelessness, excessive credulity, and, in some minds, partisanship ... CBS's critics are guilty of many of the very same sins." 'Critics' at Wizbang and Free Republic take aim at Pein and CJR.

Alan Greenblatt criticizes journalists for responding entusiastically to a Bush-bashing speech by Norman Mailer at a December conference put on by Harvard's Nieman Foundation for Journalism. Scroll down to "A gaping hole in Greenblatt's logic" for responses.

January 3

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Doctors in Fallujah tell a U.N. news service that with two-thirds of the city's neighborhoods yet to be searched, more than 700 bodies have been recovered, and "more than 550 were women and children," and a resident sheik says that "even when some journalists are here they are being followed by the Marines."

Greg Moses says 'Ask Not Who Bankrolled Fallujah' -- and argues that "anyone interested in cutting ties to this war can stop paying taxes."

Juan Cole questions "why the governor of Baghdad did not have better security," and says the fact that "six of his bodyguards were also killed ... speaks more highly of them than it does of the bodyguards who survived."

The Los Angeles Times quotes a "senior State Department official in Baghdad" as saying, "Frankly, I don't think the security situation is deteriorating," but a senior U.S. Embassy official" there tells the Washington Post that "The war's worse, the insurgency's worse," and notes that the formerly sunny interim prime minister now "routinely refers to the situation as 'our catastrophe.'"

According to AP, U.S. troops in Afghanistan have orders to take fewer prisoners, to head off more complaints about abuses "after at least eight prisoners died in custody."

In a Democracy Now! segment on 'ExxonMobil, Aceh and the Tsunami,' participants note that while the oil giant has donated $5 million to tsunami relief, it is "by far the largest corporation operating in Aceh" and is "being sued for gross human rights violations" there.

Atrios finds Andrew Sullivan complaining that "I pay for those soldiers to fight," not help tsunami victims, and Nicholas Kristof on a 'Land of Penny Pinchers.'

As Gov. Jeb Bush takes the world stage, he and Secretary of State Powell lend a hand in Phuket.

Deficit-cutting sleight of hand leads Daily Howler to conclude that the "White House has made a clear decision -- that there is nothing so phony and fake that the press will refuse to accept it."

Seeing the Forest provides the background on the license renewal challenge filed Monday by reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson against a Fox affiliate in Tampa. Akre and Wilson were prominently featured in "The Corporation" -- scroll down to "The Price of Whistleblowing."

Staples lands new stockholder following decision to pull ads from Sinclair Broadcasting's "The Point."

As retired military officers and religious leaders express concerns over the nomination of Alberto Gonzalez as attorney general, an ad opposing his nomination is headlined, "You may not know Alberto Gonzalez, but we're sure you'll recognize his work." Plus: 'Does the Right Remember Abu Ghraib?'

A Tapped post urges Senate Democrats to focus Thursday's Alberto Gonzales hearing less on torture memos and more on the fact that the would-be attorney general "looked at a man with known and thick mob ties, and decided he would be an appropriate man to head up domestic security."

The Center for American Progress reports that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist filibustered a Clinton judicial nominee in 2000, then lied about it on "Face the Nation" this past November while "preaching about the evils of judicial filibusters."

Rep. Maurice Hinchey charges the FDA with "spending taxpayer dollars to defend drug companies who are being sued in state court."

Patrick Moore writes that coverage of Susan Sontag's death, in both the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times, amounted to 'a case of curious silence' regarding her sexual identity. Plus: 'Sontag and Tsunami'

The Washington Times reports that in addition to considering a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, Virginia lawmakers "will consider creating a special driver's license plate for supporters of traditional marriage."

Editor and Publisher reports that a new Gallup poll shows 'Press Image of "Gun Owner" Not Far Off, Except For All Those Women.'

Raw Story publishes a fund-raising letter from Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, in which he boasts of helping to "deliver" Ohio for President Bush, and a spokesman for Sen. Barbara Boxer says "she is considering" signing an objection to the counting of Ohio's electoral votes, when Congress meets on Thursday to formally tally the vote.

David Neiwert says 'Replaying Florida in Washington,' but with a different outcome, thanks in large measure to a Republican "secretary of state with genuine integrity," has brought out the GOP's "Stalinist side."

AP reports that new rules will allow House members to utter the word "Senate" and to name actual senators, "as long as they don't get too personal," proving perhaps that Leonard Cohen was right.

Patridiot Watch wonders whether the decision by the Bush Twins to hire Kid Rock to entertain at their inaugural party means he'll bring his A-list family values lyrics.

The Economist seeks nominations for the 'wisest fool of the past 50 years,' "must be fundamentally an idiot, but a shrewd or cunning one." Uggabugga tips one likely nominee, a much-worshipped "man of no known distinction."

January 4

Thursday, January 6, 2005

A Knight Ridder report on tsunami relief efforts notes that after touring Banda Aceh, Secretary of State Powell called the devastation "worse than anything he's ever seen." The New York Times reports from a hospital there, where injured survivors face amputation of "grossly infected limbs" because "the seawater that swamped the city consisted of a foul mixture of sanitation waste, garbage and debris."

'Gosh, That Went Well' Gadflyer picks up on reports that a four-nation tsunami relief "core group," whose existence was announced only last week by President Bush, has "served its purpose."

The Los Angeles Times reports on how promised aid doesn't always materialize, and Media Matters documents Michael Savage as having said, "We shouldn't be spending a nickel on this." Plus: 'Networks fooled by fake tsunami pictures.'

'Self-Portrait with Shackles' A Tom Engelhardt column ponders "the extraordinarily rendited island of Diego Garcia," home of "Camp Justice, saved from the tsunami's surprise impact by a special Pentagon warning."

'Meanwhile, Back in Iraq ...' Jim Lobe presents evidence that "the situation for the United States and its dwindling number of allies in Iraq appears to have worsened," while MSNBC reports '18 Iraqis seeking jobs at U.S. base found dead.'

An excerpt from the Nelson Report cites "rising concern amongst senior officials that President Bush does not grasp the increasingly grim reality of the security situation in Iraq because he refuses to listen to that type of information."

The New York Times reports that in phone calls with Iraq's interim prime minister and president, who both expressed misgivings, Bush "pressed his point that the voting has to go ahead as scheduled." Plus: Poet says he has had enough of "George Bush strutting, smirking / As if the mad plan was working."

Matthew Yglesias says he feels "much better now," after an anonymous State Dept. official invokes the Algerian model to make "the case for optimism" over Iraq's elections.

The Washington Post reports that Sen. John Kerry lunched in Baghdad's Green Zone and called Iraqi elections "something that has to happen," on a day when "spectacular" car bombings killed 15 policemen and the entire Baiji city council resigned, "joining the electoral commission that had stepped down earlier."

An AP article on a warning by the chief of the Army Reserve, who wrote of the "Reserve's inability under current policies, procedures and practices ... to meet mission requirements," conflates the conflicts, reporting that the Reserve has 52,000 soldiers "on active duty for the war on terrorism, mainly in Iraq."

U.S. Army shuts down blog of doctor who headed emergency room team when Mosul mess tent was bombed. Earlier: 'War diary brings conflict home.'

'If elections can happen in Iraq, why not Haiti?' writes Bill Fletcher of TransAfrica Forum, adding that "demonstrations are taking place in Haiti on a regular basis calling for the return of elected President Aristide." Plus: AP says Haitian gunmen opened fire on UN peacekeepers.

Article about Democrats challenging Ohio electors quotes a spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert as saying that objectors "are really just trying to stir up their loony left."

A leaked White House Social Security strategy memo "allows us to see the whole matter clearly," writes Josh Marshall ... "this isn't about the fiscal soundness of Social Security or the babyboomers moving toward retirement or anything else. As [the author] himself says, this is the best chance the opponents of Social Security have had in six decades of trying to phase-out the program."

The Los Angeles Times reports that the National Assoc. of Manufacturers will spend millions promoting conservative judicial nominees, in a shift that "puts the business lobby on the same side as social conservatives."

As the ACLU releases more internal FBI documents, executive director Anthony Romero contends that Alberto Gonzales "bears much of the responsibility for creating the legal framework and permissive atmosphere that led to the torture and abuse at Guantanamo and elsewhere." Editorial: 'Gonzales has blood on his hands.'

An op-ed by Mark Danner, author of "Torture and Truth," argues that the likely confirmation of Gonzales as attorney general will confer "full legitimacy to a path that the Bush administration set the country on more than three years ago." And a retired U.S. General tells "Democracy Now!" that Gonzales has "endangered our soldiers."

Maureen Dowd writes that "you know how bad the situation is when the president's choice for attorney general has to formally pledge not to support torture anymore." Plus: 'What Did Rumsfeld know?'

Gitmo detainee files petition to halt U.S. from returning him to Egypt, where he says he was previously "rendered" for six months of torture and "hung by his arms from hooks."

The Washington Post summarizes an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, which finds "probable cause for suspecting" that Army doctors "participated in torture" and "thereby breached the laws of war" at both Abu Ghraib and Gitmo.

Presidential Treatment In an article about CNN dumping Tucker Carlson, the network's head says cable has overdosed on programming devoted to arguing over issues, and that "I doubt that when the president sits down with his advisers they scream at him to bring him up to date on all of the issues. I don't know why we don't treat the audience with the same respect."

The AP reveals that President Bush's inauguration will feature Guy Hovis, a vocalist from Tupelo, Miss. who performed on the Lawrence Welk show, singing Attorney General John Ashcroft's composition, 'Let the Eagles Soar.'

January 5

Friday, January 7, 2005

In the deadliest day for U.S. troops in nearly three weeks, nine soldiers were killed in Iraq, seven of them when a roadside bomb blew up their Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

With major areas of four Iraqi provinces, where more than half of all Iraqis live, said to be "still not secure enough for citizens to vote," former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft warns that Iraq's elections could "increase the risk of civil war."

Under the Same Sun notes that while most international observers "will monitor the Jan. 30 vote from the safety of neighboring Jordan," they have "not ruled out going into Iraq or parts of Iraq."

In a new TomGram, Dahr Jamail, said to be "possibly the only unembedded American reporter" on the ground, surveys 'Iraq: The Devastation.'

A Los Angeles Times article on Fallujah, headlined 'After Leveling City, U.S. Tries to Build Trust,' describes a "hearts and minds" campaign as coming straight from the Marine Corps' "Small Wars Manual," and quotes one Marine as saying that "it's hard to look these people in the eye after blowing everything up."

Mike Whitney points to "the elephant in the room," namely "the racist component of the war on terror," fed by a media that he argues is "using its national platform to demonize both Arabs and Muslims."

Analyzing the 'Media's Double Standard,' Paul Janensch writes that "If it's OK to show us images of dead Indians, Sri Lankans, Thais and Indonesians killed by a giant wave, then isn't it OK to show us images of dead Americans? ... Why is that? Do we think that only Americans deserve privacy in death?"

In 'The "tsunami" victims that we don't count,' Derrick Z. Jackson writes that the U.S. government is committing "an atrocity of silence" regarding civilian casualties in Iraq that "makes the torture in Abu Ghraib pale in comparison."

Following the dissolution of a group of nations that the U.S. formed to coordinate tsunami aid and recovery efforts, War In Context asks: "why are the countries hit by the tsunami turning to the UN and not the United States?" And Danny Schecter on 'Helicopter Journalism: What's Missing in the Tsunami Coverage.'

Salon's Tim Grieve describes Thursday as "a day of humiliation and futility for the Democrats who still have jobs on Capitol Hill," with signs of their "increasing powerlessness ... everywhere." Plus: 'Kerry's Last Flip-Flop' and 'Did Al Gonzales say the president can authorize torture?'

An Iraq war vet traces the path 'From Alberto to the Insurgency,' and Bob Herbert on 'Promoting Torture's Promoter.'

The Washington Post editorializes that "The message Mr. Gonzales left with senators was unmistakable: As attorney general, he will seek no change in practices that have led to the torture and killing of scores of detainees and to the blackening of U.S. moral authority around the world."

David Neiwert finds that a cartoon exemplifies "the pervasive identification of liberals (and the 'liberal media') with the Enemy, that is, with terrorists," among "the rank-and-file right."

The Columbia Journalism Review editorializes that conservative commentators are "defining bias downward, as anything that challenges a GOP point of view."

USA Today reports that the Education Dept. paid conservative commentator Armstrong Williams $240,000 to promote No Child Left Behind on his nationally syndicated television show, as part of a campaign that required Williams "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts" and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige. The majority of stations broadcasting Williams' "The Right Side" TV show are Sinclair stations.

After Editor & Publisher reported that Williams also discussed NCLB in his "The Right Side" syndicated newspaper column at least four times last year, Tribune Media Services terminated its contract with Williams. Plus: GAO finds that 'Bush's Drug Videos Broke Law.' Read the finding.

Actions of Bush administration and its promoters said to be reminiscent of a good movie and a bad novel.

Doug Ireland predicts that "the patronage system known as 'faith-based initiatives'" will be "considerably expanded" following the appointment of Claude Allen as the president's chief domestic policy advisor.

'Musical chairs' Carpetbagger reviews how the GOP called the tune in filling three committee chairmanships, preferring the dependably loyal to the "non-partisan, fair, or middle-of-the-road."

'The Spy Who Billed Me' Mother Jones visits a job fair for intelligence contractors in Virginia, in a business "driven by a network of lobbyists and a web of close connections between government and the private sector."

According to the New York Times, a classified CIA internal report is sharply critical of former director George Tenet, awarded the Medal of Freedom last month, and deputy James Pavitt, concluding that they should be "held accountable for failing to allocate adequate resources to combating terrorism before the Sept. 11 attacks."

An online chatter comments to the Washington Post's investigations editor that "Given the Bush administration's obsession with obedience and secrecy ... I would have thought that investigative reporting would be having a heyday." And another asks, "why is it that only Knight Ridder seems to have a backbone in covering the President?"

Among the examples the editor cites to defend the Post's performance is "The Fine Print," a series on the Bush administration's use of regulations to achieve its policy goals.

Responding to speculation that President Bush sometimes wears a portable defibrillator and that his VP is suffering from congestive heart failure, Dan Kennedy asks: "is there value to certain types of non-nutty Internet speculation that the mainstream media, for the most part, refuse to touch?"

A local TV news report on a gas explosion that destroyed a building and killed 3 people, a scene that onlookers were said to have compared to 9/11, leaves a viewer feeling "nothing but suspicion for the messengers." Plus: Dallas 'radio station pushes limits with terror promo.'

Rue Morgue Precinct. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer discovers that at least eight dead people voted in Washington's race for governor.

January 6

Monday, January 10, 2005

Left Behind? The Boston Herald takes note of a "doomsday" plan passed by Congress "with no fanfare," which would, in the words of Rep. Brian Baird, who opposed the provision, "allow less than a dozen lawmakers to declare war on another nation."

An analysis piece by the Washington Post's Jim VandeHei, about President Bush returning to his first-term tactic of "defining crises that demanded decisive responses," quotes Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid as saying, "This White House had made an art of creating crisis where a crisis does not exist."

VandeHei notes that Bush used the word "crisis" four times Thursday in a "campaign-style speech" on medical liability reform, in which he also said, "We don't want our little towns ... not having any health care." According to a 2002 CBO report cited by VanDeHei, malpractice costs amounted to less than 2 percent of health care costs. Plus: 'Malpractice Mythology'

The New York Times surveys complaints that Bush is "greatly exaggerating the problems to sell his plan to scale back Social Security," and a Times' editorial accuses the White House of "manipulating information" while "ignoring the far more pressing problem of Medicare."

A Newsday commentary argues that 'Bush proposals for Social Security are about dismantling the current system -- and not saving it.'

Admitting that it mistakenly bombed a house outside of Mosul, killing five people, -- local officials say the number was 14 -- the U.S. military released a statement expressing regret at the loss of "possibly innocent lives."

Financial Times reports that the bombing, combined with a second incident less than 24 hours later, in which U.S. soldiers "mistakenly opened fire on Iraqi police and civilians," will feed calls to set a date for U.S. withdrawal.

As the "assembly line of carnage ... continues unabated," Bob Herbert whiffs 'The Scent of Fear' wafting from "the places that are supposed to provide leadership in perilous times -- the Pentagon and the White House." Plus: 'Meet the new Memo, Same as the Old Memo?'

Reporting on recenty released documents by the FBI and the Defense Intelligence Agency, Newsweek's Michael Isikoff acknowledges that "many of the scenes alleged by ... Gitmo detainees may actually have happened."

Newsweek also reports that the Pentagon is weighing 'the Salvador option,' considering the use of death squads against Iraqi Sunnis who support the insurgency, a story which 'Central America' blogger David Holiday says may mean that "the U.S. military (or the CIA?) is finally and rather brazenly owning up to its role in the Salvadoran conflict."

Former Coalition Provisional Authority adviser Larry Diamond counsels a "one-time postponement of the vote" in Iraq, and interviewed by the Washington Post, Diamond says that by insisting on holding the elections on time, Bush has crossed the "fine line between Churchillian resolve and self-defeating obstinacy."

Al-Hayat quotes "a source close to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani" as saying that "the representation of our Sunni brethren in the coming government must be effective, regardless of the results of the elections."

"They are kidding themselves." The entire electoral commission in Iraq's Anbar province is said to have resigned and gone into hiding, with the commission's chief calling the upcoming vote "impossible."

Meanwhile, a "team hired by Iraq's electoral commission" was called "totally ignorant or incompetent or both" and said to be "still scrambling to find polling stations and hire personnel," not in Iraq but in the U.S., where up to 240,000 absentee voters, many of whom have never set foot in Iraq, are expected to cast ballots.

Shooting death of Baghdad's deputy police chief called "another major blow to the Iraqi security forces at a time when they are preparing to play a major role protecting the elections."

Maureen Dowd says to "get ready for a Mohammedan mountain of spin defining victory down" in Iraq. "Come what may ... this administration will call it a triumph. Even for a White House steeped in hooey, it's a challenge."

As 'Politics muddy tsunami relief efforts' in Sri Lanka and India, read what Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist was looking to get during his trip to Sri Lanka.

Knight Ridder reports on Christian evangelical groups who see the tsunami as "a phenomenal opportunity" and the answer to prayer, with one group actively planning to "to build 'Christian communities' to replace destroyed seashore villages." And Media Matters documents Catholic League president William A. Donohue as having called the tsunami "these poor Asian people['s] ... gift to the world."

As CIA head Porter Goss cuts back his daily terrorism briefings to three-a-week, the White House assures that "if something exploded, [Goss] would get briefed right away."

AFP quotes a national security analyst as saying that even had Osama bin Laden been caught at Tora Bora, "it would have been already too late because he had already brought down the World Trade Center. After this 'magnificent' act, his ideology had already metastased." Plus: "We're better off with him at large," says former #3 at CIA.

Richard Clark tells Frank Rich why he turned to fiction to get his views about fighting terrorism across, in a column in which Rich argues that "government bureaucrats are busier fighting each other than Al Qaeda." Rich also cites Jonathan Raban's review of books about terrorism.

Nine women protesting at FDA headquarters to demand making the morning-after pill available without a prescription, were arrested by officers of the Department of Homeland Security.

Exit polls showed Mahmoud Abbas easily winning the presidency of the Palestinian Authority after an election with lower-than-expected turnout, in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees were unable to participate. A Haaretz analysis calls Abbas 'Arafat in a Suit.'

In an editorial headlined 'Democrats rubber-stamp Bush victory in Electoral College,' the WSWS argues that "Bush's victory in 2004 must be attributed, not to hijacking of the electoral process ... but to the political bankruptcy of the Democratic Party, which offered no alternative."

USA Today reports that Armstrong Williams is refusing to return the $240,000 he was paid by the Education Dept. to promote No Child Left Behind, saying, "That would be ludicrous because they bought advertising, and they got it." He also characterizes the deal as being for "paid advertising" in an apology published at TownHall.com.

But as the Washington Post points out in an editorial headlined 'Administration Agitprop,' the deal "not only obliged [Williams] to run advertisements during his show but to also 'regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts' and to encourage other producers to 'periodically address NCLB' as well." Plus: 'Armstrong and Wrong' and No Bush left behind.

CBS News reports that it has ousted four employees over 'Memogate,' after an independent panel found that CBS News "failed to follow basic journalistic principles" and "compounded that failure with a 'rigid and blind' defense." But the panel also said it "cannot conclude that a political agenda ... drove either the timing of the airing of the segment or its content."

January 7-9

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

'City of Ghosts' The Guardian introduces its joint investigation with Channel 4 news into "What really happened in the siege of Falluja?," reported by an Iraqi doctor who entered the city in December to find "unburied corpses, rabid dogs -- and a dangerously embittered population."

An Electronic Iraq editorial calls "What has happened in Fallujah ... a powerful example of the self-defeating insanity of the Bush Administration strategy in its 'War Against Terror' -- a war which doesn't seem to grasp the difference in terms of international legitimacy between acts of resistance against foreign occupation and acts of terrorism against civilians."

As roadside bombs in Iraq destroy two heavily armored Bradley Fighting Vehicles in a week, AP reports that "insurgents have increased the power of the explosives they are using against American troops."

AFP cites U.S. officers who say that Iraq's insurgency is gathering steam, and the Washington Post reports that ski masks are now standard issue for Iraqi police, soldiers and National Guard. Plus: The Poor Man conjures 'the "good news" you aren't hearing about.'

The Financial Times catches interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's campaign alliance handing out cash for coverage of its press conferences. One recipient "jokingly recalled how Saddam Hussein's regime had also lavished perks on favored reporters."

The New York Times reports that "rumblings about disengagement" from Iraq "have grown distinctly louder" on Capitol Hill. Plus: Fired for supporting the troops.

Paul Rogers argues that "it would be an extraordinary irony" if it turned out that Iraq's insurgents in effect shot down missile defense in the U.S. And a TomDispatch poses '37 Questions for Donald Rumsfeld.'

In 'The Pentagon's New Math,' Lawrence J. Korb argues that the Pentagon is playing a "shell game" with the major budget cuts it was ordered to make, and that "a large amount of the money that is supposedly being cut is in fact only being transferred from the Air Force and Navy budgets to the Army's."

Tortured Defense As prosecutors at the trial of Charles Graner presented what a Reuters report calls "shocking new videos and photos from Abu Ghraib prison, including forced group masturbation," Graner's attorney, referring to piles of naked prisoners, said, "Don't cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year? Is that torture?"

'When Doctors Go to War' Critical Montages has key excerpts from a New England Journal of Medicine study which found that doctors complicit in military interrogations "tend not to see these practices as unethical," a view endorsed by a Pentagon official.

Billmon returns to provide both the bumper sticker and the backgrounder for Newsweek's story on 'the Salvador option' for Iraq.

Eric Umansky excerpts a postage-due 'Letter From Baghdad' by William Langewiesche from Atlantic Monthly, which notes that Iraq's insurgents "are responsible for fewer unintentional 'collateral' casualties than are the clumsy and overarmed American forces."

Danny Schechter contrasts the fate of Dan Rather with the lack of accountability by the presidents of the Big Three news networks, whose operations "uncritically conveyed deceptive information that convinced the public an invasion of Iraq was the only option."

A researcher who runs The Awol Project takes issue with the 'Rather Report,' in which he in mentioned three times, -- "twice inaccurately labelled a blogger" -- calling it "so factually inaccurate simply in terms of Bush's records themselves that it [is] laughable." Much more at TV Newser.

CJR Daily focuses on the report's "description of the way the network allowed its news division to morph into a PR machine in defense of itself... Somehow, we can't imagine, say, the New York Times putting Jayson Blair in charge of coverage of the Jayson Blair affair."

An article on the DNC's search for a new national chairman begins with a help wanted ad: "Political party with self-esteem problem seeks inspiring, tech-savvy leader ... Must have the brain of Karl Rove and ... be willing to take the blame if the party keeps losing." Howard Dean said to be applying for job.

'Fire the Consultants,' writes Amy Sullivan, lamenting that "Democrats seem incapable of taking this basic managerial step" and continue to "promote campaign advisors who lose races." Doug Ireland finds confirmation in a new Annenberg survey that "bad advice handed Bush the victory."

Gingrich for president? "Anything is possible," the former House speaker tells AP before heading off to Iowa and New Hampshire.

President Bush ignores 'The People's Choice' in picking a new Homeland Security head -- Michael Chertoff, who "helped craft the early war on terror strategy" and served the GOP in the senate as chief counsel on Whitewater. Chertoff described as 'Kerik without the sex.'

Washington D.C. officials say that the Bush administration is forcing the city to divert $11.9 million from homeland security projects to cover inauguration costs, and Helen Thomas suspects that Bush's Second Inaugural address will be missing a piece.

Many Republicans are reportedly going wobbly on Social Security privatization, with one U.S. Rep. telling the Washington Post: "Why stir up a political hornet's nest? ... When does the program go belly up? 2042. I will be dead by then." Plus: The latest stayings and goings among the "Fainthearted Faction" and Paul Krugman's 'The Iceberg Cometh.'

"The older the voter, the stronger the opposition" to Bush's plan to privatize Social Security, a new poll finds, with the strongest opposition coming from the people most likely to vote. Plus: 'Go Slow, Young Man.'

The Seattle Times runs a special report on Capt. James Yee, the Muslim U.S. Army chaplain who was honorably discharged last Friday, and who spent 76 days in solitary confinement, "often in leg irons and manacles," before the government's case against him collapsed.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to a Florida law banning gay adoption, turned a deaf ear to Ralph Nader, and silently sided with the Ku Klux Klan on highway litter cleanup.

Editor & Publisher reports that in an interview with the Boston Globe, Sean Penn had some choice words for those who used the fact that he's an actor to criticize him for speaking out against the Iraq war. He also discussed his new film, "The Assassination of Richard Nixon."

Bill Clinton said to now be a friend of George W., with the two reportedly having "grown surprisingly warm and personal over the last six months."

January 10

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Jason Vest responds to reports that U.S. officials are considering the use of death squads to kill Iraqi insurgents by arguing that "the U.S. counterinsurgency tactics used in El Salvador are at best a case study in how to prolong an insurgency, not end it."

The 'Salvador option' provides futher evidence that President Bush is pushing the U.S. "toward becoming what might be called a permanent 'counter-terrorist' state," writes Robert Parry, who also suggests that Bush may be prepping brother Jeb for president as a way to guarantee "that any incriminating documents stay under wraps."

As a new Gallup poll finds Americans "tilting against the war in Iraq," with 50% now calling it a mistake to send U.S. troops, Pat Buchanan says that "Bush is nearing his Tet moment."

After interim Iraqi Prime minister Ayad Allawi admits that poor security will prevent "pockets" of Iraq from voting on January 30, Juan Cole writes that "I suspect the pockets amount to about 3 million persons."

The continuing inability of the U.S. military to understand the nature of the Iraqi insurgency, as reported in a New Yorker article, points to "one extraordinary but glaringly simple fact," writes War In Context's Paul Woodward, "America has virtually no friends in Iraq."

No Bang For Your Bucks The hunt for Iraqi WMD has ended, reports the Washington Post, noting that "Congress allotted hundreds of millions of dollars for the weapons hunt, and there has been no public accounting of the money. A spokesman for the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency said the entire budget and the expenditures would remain classified."

A case of "suicide by cop" in California involved a 19-year-old Marine said to have been "determined to die rather than return to Iraq."

Bad Play A former inmate at Abu Ghraib testified at the court martial trial of reservist Charles Graner, that "They were torturing us as though it was theater for them ... I was extremely emotional because (even) Saddam didn't do this to us."

Monty Python's Terry Jones asks, 'Why are there no fundraisers for the Iraqi dead?' -- given that Iraq is "a human catastrophe of comparable dimensions" to the Asian tsunami.

Writing in Foreign Affairs, Jon B. Wolfsthal says that "the growing currency of nuclear weapons and a growing sense of nuclear fatalism" could set off 'The Next Nuclear Wave.'

DC's Inside Scoop finds that as of today the White House "continues to maintain formal ties" with cash-for-coverage pundit Armstrong Williams. Plus: 'Open Wide and Eat Your Propaganda' and 'No Pundit Left Behind.'

As multiple FOIA requests are filed to uncover government agency deals with PR firms, Laurie Spivak writes that the Armstrong Williams affair is part of a bigger story, -- the story of the 'conservative marketing machine' that has been "shaping American public opinion for more than a quarter century."

Seeing the Forest's Dave Johnson describes a "conventional wisdom" machine set up by the Right, that in addition to working through conservative media outlets, attempts to influence more mainstream opinion leaders to "reject 'marginalized' information sources," including "Progressive online news sources or blogs." Plus: 'They can dish it out, but...'

Tom Tomorrow offers a primer in 'How to argue like a right-wing pundit.'

Calling Bush a 'President of Fabricated Crises,' Harold Meyerson writes that "In this administration, it is the role of a government agency to turn out pro-Bush news by whatever means possible." Plus: "Chief Executive as confidence man."

"A political party is dying before our eyes," writes Howard Fineman, "and I don't mean the Democrats. I'm talking about ... the AMMP (the American Mainstream Media Party)," which once "helped validate the civil rights movement, end a war and oust a power-mad president."

'Kerik without the sex' Will Bunch writes that Michael Chertoff is "arguably a worse choice" than Bernard Kerik to head Homeland Security, citing Chertoff's role in detaining hundreds of "material witnesses" of Arab descent after 9/11, none of whom "had anything to do with the terrorist attacks." Plus: 'Some Questions, Mr. Chertoff.'

Exploring 'Chertoff's Dirty Little Secrets,' Doug Ireland writes that while serving as U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, Chertoff was "a political attack dog ... indicting and convicting a raft of Democratic officeholders ... but one who Chertoff deliberately let get away was his big buddy, Bob 'The Torch' Torricelli."

"Stop me if you've heard this one," says Carpetbagger: "a high-ranking Bush administration official makes a tragic mistake, gets caught, and finds himself promoted."

Columnist Sally Kalson riddles, "What happens when you base a big project on questionable information? Well, if you work for CBS News, you get a pink slip. If you work for George W. Bush, you get a promotion or a medal."

Ethics Offensive. In The New Republic, Quin Hillyer compares "the rancid ethical display Republicans have put on to open the 109th Congress" with the "Contract With America's" promise "to restore accountability to Congress [and] to end its cycle of scandal and disgrace."

'Riding the Polarized Express,' Steven Laffoley warns that "One track leads to the republic rediscovered. The other track, to dictatorship and empire."

"Consider who is really blocking progress" writes Robert Kuttner, arguing that Washington's partisan gridlock is a myth.

King of Zembla reports that a Virginia GOPer's fetal-death notification bill has been 'Strangled in Its Crib' after opponents who quoted the text directly were accused of "misrepresentation."

In its obituary for James Forman, who led "the shock troops of the civil rights movement" and later pressed the claim for reparations, the New York Times says that "few outside the movement knew the extent to which he choreographed the now-legendary demonstrations and campaigns."

An update on 'Trent's Lott in life' finds that while he may have been the most powerful man in the U.S. Senate at Bush's first inauguration, "at this one, he's the party planner." Lott is also said to have been "recently stripped of his Capitol Police security detail and driver."

The Washington Post reports that the Inauguration Day clampdown will include closing "roughly 100 square blocks of downtown Washington to vehicles ... and to restrict traffic on another 100 square blocks."

January 11

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Knight Ridder reports that an official document puts the number of Indonesian dead or missing from the tsunami at nearly 210,000, while "rescue workers think even that number may be low."

With unofficial estimates predicting a turnout as low as 10 percent in some areas for Iraq's elections, a "senior administration official" appears at a White House briefing to "encourage people not to focus on numbers."

The New York Times reports that Iraqi election workers are 'Under Fire' from insurgents and are said to "function like an underground," with their names made public only "in death, when they appear in newspaper obituaries." Plus: secret ballots taken to new level.

Cash payments in the form of $100 bills handed out to journalists by interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's organization, are said to have amounted to nothing more than "hospitality."

One commentator projects a winner, another says elections are "likely at best to be irrelevant, at worst to plunge Iraq deeper into the abyss," and a report from the Institute for Policy Studies suggests 'How to Bring the Troops Home and Internationalize the Peace.'

Iraqi guerrillas have released an English-language video touting their cause and offering to protect U.S. troops who "lay down your weapons and seek refuge in our mosques, churches and homes."

"Oh, absolutely," said President Bush, when asked by ABC's Barbara Walters if the Iraq war was worth it, even if there were no WMD. In January 2004, ABC's Diane Sawyer told Bush that it was "stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that [Saddam] could move to acquire those weapons still." Bush's response: "So what's the difference?"

AP silently compares Bush administration comments on WMD, before and after the war in Iraq, The Poor Man compares and contrasts "Rathergate" and the hunt for Saddam's WMD, and Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell says that "neither scandal would have ever happened if journalists had done a better job."

A Los Angeles Times report on the impending freedom of a Gitmo detainee said to have been "mistreated" in a "grisly torture cell in Egypt," quotes a "recently retired CIA clandestine officer" as saying that "we rendered a lot of people to Egypt, Jordan and the Saudis in particular ... Ultimately, the agency just wants these people to disappear forever."

According to the New York Times, after the Senate voted 96-2 last month to impose "new restrictions on the use of extreme interrogation measures," the White House prevailed on Congressional leaders to delete them.

Army Spec. Charles Graner's defense said to be under 'Friendly Fire,' as a former interrogator denies having told Graner "to punch or kick prisoners, to pile them into a pyramid, make them masturbate or roll in the mud," but did say that guards were encouraged to "threaten them with dogs."

A Newsday op-ed calls Graner a "tempting scapegoat," and argues that "no legitimate investigation can stop short of the White House and the Pentagon."

Daily Howler says that the journalists who have "seemed surprised" in recent weeks by the "news" that Bush's plan to privatize Social Security would reduce future benefits "might as well have been typing from Mars," and Kevin Drum adds that "people like George Bush have no incentive to stop lying if the press lets them get away with it."

Matthew Yglesias offers basic instruction on 'How to Cover A Liar,' while Jeff Horwitz marvels at the "hard-hitting questions the Washington Times' editors asked in between finishing Bush's sentences for him and addressing the president in the third person."

'The Crisis Problem.' The Washington Post's Dan Froomkin catches the White House rhetorically backtracking on Social Security, pointing out that during a "conversation" on Tuesday, "Bush only used the word crisis once, when mocking his critics. Problem, he used 29 times." (scroll down) Plus: 'NBC Short on Social Security "Crisis" Critics.'

Scripps Howard reports that parade performers at next week's inauguration have been warned "not to look directly at Bush while passing the presidential reviewing stand, not to look to either side and not to make any sudden movements." Plus: 'Protesters get prime spot,' encouraged to "TYBOB."

A Bloomberg report says that corporate sponsors and campaign donors are finding the inauguration to be an opportunity for 'lobbying without limits.'

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says he is thankful he was recently able to hire as a speechwriter "a former newspaper editor who left his job in November amid public allegations of plagiarism and sexual harassment."

Hammer Down? Carpetbagger rounds up news reports indicating that 'Prosecutors keep getting closer to [House Majority leader Tom] DeLay.'

The New York Sun reports that the State Dept. is "looking into" a contract won by Halliburton, said to be worth over $300 million, to develop an oil and gas field in Iran.

U.S. bearish on reported Russian plan to sell missiles to Syria that could strike any target in Israel.

NPR's ombudsman suggests that charges of bias limit coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, writing that "Anecdotally, I am told that some news organizations are now so battered that they tend to avoid the story as much as possible."

As Sinclair is said to be "going out of its way to distance itself from its prime-time pundit," PR pros talk up word of mouth, with one industry analyst telling the Wall Street Journal, "If a guy mentions a product and gets paid for it, that's where the world is going." Plus: 'Williams Payoff Tip of Iceberg.'

Frank Rich searches for "honor among bloviators" in 'All the President's Newsmen' and finds it on "Crossfire," which "came up with the worst show in its fabled 23-year history" when it "covered" the Armstrong Williams scandal. Rich also describes Williams' 2003 interview on Sinclair with Vice President Cheney, as "a scenario out of 'The Manchurian Candidate.'"

Get Real New CNN head says network must "provide more real information ... Because the world, post-9/11, is just more complicated and scary. And people need as much information as they can get. Real information."

January 12

Friday, January 14, 2005

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that 16 House Democrats have urged President Bush "to begin the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq," and Electablog shorthands a speech by former Sec. of State James Baker calling for a phased withdrawal.

'Hold the elections, then get out,' says the Guardian's Robin Cook, who calls the biggest surprise in word that the search for WMD in Iraq has ended, "that there was anyone still out there looking for them." Plus: 'The High Price of Official Lies.'

As Iraqis -- in the U.S. -- prepare to vote, Knight Ridder reports that the "grandfatherly face" of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is ubiquitous in Iraq, even though "he hasn't even left his home in five months."

With the Iraq war now costing the U.S. an average of $4.8 billion per month, a new report from a CIA think tank says that Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as a training ground for terrorists.

A research group sees the real costs of "don't ask, don't tell" represented in the fact that the U.S. military discharged 26 gay linguists -- 20 Arabic and six Farsi speakers -- for violating the policy between 1998 and 2004.

In a new Tomgram, Michael Schwartz measures 'Desolate Fallujah' against five goals the U.S. had for the city. Plus: Iraqis make strides toward economic and personal freedom.

Bringing it all back home. The Lexington Herald-Leader chronicles a "high speed case of road rage" in which Marine fired on fellow Marine during a freeway shoot-out.

A federal judge in Georgia has ruled that Cobb County schools must remove from high school biology textbooks, stickers that say "evolution is a theory, not a fact." Earlier: Print out your own textbook disclaimer stickers, and 'Public doubts Darwin, evolution, poll finds.'

With questions about inaugural costs coming from both supporters and opponents of President Bush, the Los Angeles Times examines the "awkward challenge" faced by inaugural planners with "the world in mourning": how to "spend $40 million on shrimp, spirits, floats and frivolity" and yet avoid the appearance of having "too much fun." Plus: Let the countown begin!

"I don't know if you'd call it a regret," Bush told reporters regarding his "Bring it on" and "Wanted: Dead or Alive" utterances, "but it certainly is a lesson that a president must be mindful ... of the consequences of the words."

The Financial Times cites a report that Bush recently asked Colin Powell for "his view on the progress of the war." "We're losing," was the reply, upon which Bush "asked the secretary of state to leave."

'Bush Plans Sharp Cuts in HUD Community Efforts,' the Washington Post reports, "to make way for tax cuts, a mission to Mars and other presidential priorities," say critics.

Triumph of the Bill The Post also reports that the campaign to sell Bush's Social Security plan will use his "campaign-honed techniques of mass repetition, never deviating from the script and using the politics of fear to build support -- contending that a Social Security financial crisis is imminent when even Republican figures show it is decades away."

A former CBS producer asks: "Where Did the CBS Documents Come From and Who Created Them? ... I think that the network would have been far better served by dispensing with the Thornburg/Boccardi investigation and hiring some highly reptilian private investigators to dig up the truth about the documents instead."

In Socialist Worker, Lance Selfa writes that "many of the liberals who complained about voter suppression in 2004 were also the same people who spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours to make sure that Ralph Nader would not appear on ballots across the country."

Raw Story reports that Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee will ask the Department of Justice to begin a criminal investigation into Ohio Secretary of State, Kenneth Blackwell, who, complains Rep John Conyers, "wouldn't even bother to try to set the record straight on a single irregularity."

Carpetbagger finds one Republican insider still defending the Bush administration's use of $241,000 to pay columnist Armstrong Williams to promote No Child Left Behind.

William Powers writes that Williams "deserves some kind of prize for candor" for a remark he made in an online chat, when he said that "We delivered on our goals and they delivered on their compensation." More on Williams and other conservative pundits from Eric Alterman, who asks: 'How Low Can They Go?'

An op-ed by a former newspaper editor that celebrates CNN's axing of Tucker Carlson and argues that the "insult-charades" of "shout-and-interrupt commentary shows" like "Crossfire" give partisanship a bad name, touches off a debate about cable news. Scroll to 'Yes, CNN has its problems, but...'

Wired sings the 'Heartaches of Journalist Bloggers' who must serve "two competing masters," and bloggers who received cash from Howard Dean's campaign are defended 'In The Interest Of NonStories.'

'GOP seeks criminal records,' says Seattle Times headline, "as party attorneys search for felons who cast illegal ballots" in hopes of overturning the outcome of Washington's gubernatorial election.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer follows the 'meandering money stream' into a northwest "Twilight Zone" of fund-raising that continues "even now, more than two months after Election Day" in "the seemingly never-ending battle that's become Governor's Race 2004-05."

'When Harry Met Hitler' A Speigel commentator says that British disgust over Prince Harry's costume party attire, at which the theme was "colonials and natives," is "not free from hypocrisy."

January 13

Monday, January 17, 2005

In 'The Coming Wars,' Seymour Hersh reports that the U.S. "has been conducting secret reconaissance missions inside Iran," and quotes a "government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon" as saying, "The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible." A Pentagon spokesman responds.

Interviewed on CNN about the article, Hersh, who described what he's been doing for the last three years as "alternative history," said "the CIA has been sort of downgraded totally by this administration. The White House doesn't like them, they don't trust them. It's amazing to say that..." He also commented on the trial of Army reservist Charles Graner.

The Washington Post reports on its interview with President Bush, in which he defended not holding anyone accountable for Iraq by saying, "we had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 election." He also said the reason the U.S. has been unable to locate Osama bin Laden is "Because he's hiding." Plus: 'Bush hit for linking Iraq to vote.'

American Leftist flags a White House Q & A in which press spokesman Scott McClellan declares that a CIA report calling Iraq a "terrorist breeding ground" actually "confirms that we have the right strategy."

USA Today reports that "U.S. and Iraqi officials are scrambling to recruit new police and poll workers in Mosul after thousands quit in recent days," and that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has warned that the U.S. cannot provide "absolute security."

'Tribe Versus Tribe' According to Newsweek, Iraqis voting on election day will find the polls guarded by "groups of armed, masked men wearing black balaclavas to hide their faces." And a Shiite politician who survived an ambush, tells the AP that "What we fear now most is terrorists wearing police uniforms."

Arguing that Iraq's elections will by more divisive than Saddam, Robert Fisk says he detects an ominous pre-election lull in the frequency of suicide bombings.

A Reuters article on U.S. efforts to lower expectations for the Iraqi vote quotes Juan Cole as saying, "These elections are a joke," while a column on 'The Day After' quotes President Bush: "I suspect if you were asking me questions 18 months ago and I said there's going to be elections in Iraq, you would've had trouble containing yourself from laughing out loud at the president."

In 'The Critical battle for Iraq's Energy,' the Washington Post surveys what a Senior U.S. diplomat calls the increasing effectiveness of "intelligent attacks on infrastructure, especially oil and electricity."

The U.S. and Polish military forces that used Iraq's ancient city of Babylon as a base caused "substantial damage" to the area, according to a report by the British Museum. The Polish military, which took control of the area in late 2003, is denying the charges.

Baghdad Burning's Riverbed writes that being bombed and invaded for weapons that never existed is "like having a loved one sentenced to death for a crime they didn't commit." Plus: 'U.S. intelligence found no evidence WMD moved from Iraq.'

The wife of a KBR contractor who drove a truck in "the country's first outsourced war," "earning no more than he made driving a truck in the United States," says her husband "brought the war home."

A Connecticut man claims that citations from town officials for housing and property infractions are payback for his anti-war yard sign, the most recent version of which read, "Bush Lies, 1,345, G.I.s R.I.P."

The Providence Mutual Fire Insurance Co. has declined to renew an 80-year-old retired pediatrician and Democratic party activist's supplemental policy because of "the political positions the insured holds." Earlier: 'Doctor drops patient for not backing cause.'

A South Florida Sun-Sentinel analysis found that touch screen voters were 50 percent more likely to cast a flawed ballot than voters using pencil and paper. Plus: Unelected governors riding high.

The Los Angeles Times reports on the "enormous" social implications of expiring import quotas, citing forecasts that "hundreds of thousands of women will be thrown out of work" in global clothing factories.

A WSWS report notes that Thailand's Tourism Authority has "asked for a 50 percent increase" in its post-tsunami marketing budget, with a top official touting word that "some parts of the Andaman Sea around Phuket are the clearest they have been in 20 years."

The New York Times reports that a nuclear-powered submarine, the San Francisco, recently "crashed head-on into an undersea mountain that was not on the charts" -- although it had been photographed by satellite in 1999.

What's missing from TV coverage of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday? It's the last several years of his life, "as if flushed down a memory hole," wrote Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen in 1995. They noted that Time had called King's 1967 "Beyond Vietnam" speech, "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." More on 'The Anti-War King.'

"Never since his assassination in 1968 have I felt the absence of Martin Luther King more acutely," writes Bob Herbert. The Nation's John Nichols reflects on 'MLK's moral values' -- and his "commitment to peace," while Greg Moses argues that "we must not be afraid to remember that King was a Christian." Plus: 'Civil Rights, Brought To You By... Republicans?'

King Flip-Flop Blue Lemur reminds that when Vice President Cheney was a Congressman from Wyoming, he voted against a national holiday honoring King, before he voted for it.

Free at Last Acclaimed journalist Wilbert Rideau has been released from Louisiana's Angola prison after serving 44 years for the 1961 killing of a bank teller. In addition to editing The Angolite, which has received numerous awards, Rideau co-directed "The Farm," which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1997.

January 14-16

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Knight Ridder cites a senior administration official as indicating that "all major U.S. intelligence agencies share a pessimistic prognosis for Iraq's future" and reports that the State Department's intel assessment "is so grim that it's referred to as the 'I agree with Scowcroft's analysis' report."

Citing a "new, sober assessment" by top officials that "American troops will never entirely defeat Iraqi insurgents," the Los Angeles Times quotes a senior administration official as saying that "training Iraqis is the whole nine yards ... If they don't get better, we can't get out of there."

Catch and Release. Gunmen kidnapped and later freed a Catholic archbishop in Mosul as Iraqi officials announced plans to seal the border during the January 30 election. And as 'Iraq violence spreads to "safe" areas,' 'Eight Questions for Condoleezza Rice' includes: "How would you evaluate your performance as head of the Iraq stabilization group?"

A Financial Times article on the Pentagon lashing out at Seymour Hersh over "The Coming Wars," says that not only "It is rare for the Pentagon to issue such a long and detailed response to a single news account," but "It is also rare that defence officials single out a specific journalist for such vitriol. In one part of his statement, Mr DiRita appears to accuse Mr Hersh of anti-Semitism."

DiRita's statement also twists a quote by Hersh, saying that "By his own admission, Mr. Hersh evidently is working on an 'alternative history' novel." Sunday on CNN, Hersh said "I've been doing alternative history for three years," which is how Hersh's non-fiction reporting is often described by himself and others.

A Christian Science Monitor op-ed finds "Orwellian overtones" in administration plans for "Camp 6" -- where hundreds of people could serve lifetime sentences "outside the U.S., and thus beyond the reach of its constitutional protections." Plus: Selective listening in This Modern World.

The Raleigh News and Observer reports that soldiers of the 18th Airborne Corps are now "packing the necessities of modern warfare: M-4 carbines, ceramic-plated body armor and a plastic wallet card that lists talking points for interviews," including, "We are a values-based, people-focused team that strives to uphold the dignity and respect of all."

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "the nation's military system is quietly preparing for one of its toughest missions in decades" -- helping returning soldiers battle the enemy they will face when they come home.

In a newspaper op-ed headlined 'Will war dead cross Bush's mind at inauguration?', a Sports Illustrated writer says "Bush's greatest triumph was to sell the idea -- not a new one -- that if you question the war you're failing to support the troops. That is logic at its most asinine, but effective nevertheless..."

Reelect & Retreat The Washington Post reports that Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's recent backtracking on last April's announcement that al Qaeda terrorists might strike during this week's inauguration festivities, "marks the latest retreat from last year's terrorism warnings."

In an essay asking 'Will the Inaugural Protests Be Covered?', Danny Schecter refers to Dennis Loy Johnson's "The Big Chill," about how the media ingnored protests at President Bush's first inauguration. Plus: 'A party for regular elitists.'

"Without a clear mandate." The Washington Post reports that its new poll "found few signs that the country has begun to come together" since the presidential election, and that "the communications battle to frame the problem and the solutions may prove crucial to the outcome" of the Social Security debate.

Josh Marshall extracts the "big news" from a New York Times article emphasizing Vice President Cheney's role in the Social Security privatization debate: he supports putting 95 percent of individual contributions into private accounts.

Responding to an earlier Times report, Gadflyer's Paul Waldman writes that "The administration has instituted a true propagandocracy ...tax cuts, the war, now Social Security. Each one was sold with a campaign of outright, shameless lies, and in each case your tax money was used to convince you what a great thing it was." Plus: 'Bush's Propaganda Machine'

Paul Krugman says that one of the reasons why the selling of Social Security privatization shouldn't be the slam dunk that selling the Iraq war was, "is that we're not talking about secret intelligence; the media, if they do their job, can check out the numbers and see that they don't match what Mr. Bush is saying."

But Slate's Chris Suellentrop cautions that playing the numbers game "misses the point of the president's plan entirely. Like supply-side tax cuts, Social Security reform is a subject on which conservatives prize philosophy -- or, if you prefer, ideology -- over arithmetic."

An NPR segment on Social Security features The Center for Economic and Policy Research's Dean Baker debating The Club for Growth's Stephen Moore.

Daily Howler says the press seems to be staying inside the lines on the Social Security debate, and Robert Parry writes that breaking the Bush Rule has become a "career-killer" for journalists.

George Monbiot argues that U.S. journalists "do what almost all journalists working under repressive regimes do: they internalize the demands of the censor, and understand, before anyone has told them, what is permissible and what is not."

In an interview with CJR Daily, Eric Boehlert says that "One of the things I continue to be amazed about while working at Salon is how easy it is to find a voice that's different from the rest of the press pack." Plus: Salon lines up "34 scandals ... worse than Whitewater" from Bush's first term.

A Washington Post article on the U.N. Millennium Project's just-released blueprint for reducing world poverty, says that the U.S. would need to increase annual development aid spending by $30 billion to meet a commitment Bush reaffirmed in 2000. Scroll down for an interview with project head Jeffrey Sachs, who describes a "silent tsunami" in which 150,000 children in Africa die each month from malaria.

In the wake of the south Asia tsunami, Forbes previews what is likely to be 'The Next Big Killer,' a global influenza pandemic.

January 17

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

New U.S. intelligence assessments are said to predict that Iraq will ask the U.S. to set a date for withdrawal after the January 30 elections, and to warn of "more violence ... possibly even leading to civil war."

Op-ed writers suggest that the U.S. ask the Iraqi people to set a withdrawal date, by means of a referendum soon after the elections: "Tell them we'll hold the referendum every nine months until they vote us out or we determine it's time to leave."

The Washington Post reports that four car bombs in a 90 minute period killed at least 26 in Baghdad this morning.

Quoting Iraq's interior minister as saying "there will be chaos, and we will have a civil war" if the elections don't succeed, the New York Times reports that "gunfire rattled behind him nearly the whole time he spoke." The story also quotes a freed archbishop as saying that he told his captors, "We are Christians, and we believe the Americans are occupiers."

Referring to a report that Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi executed six suspected insurgents last June, The New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson writes that "A well-known former government minister told me that an American official had confirmed that the killings took place." The U.S. official also reportedly said: "What a mess we're in -- we got rid of one son of a bitch only to get another."

Hotel, No-Tell "In many cases," writes Robert Fisk, "viewers and readers are left with the impression that the journalist is free to travel around Iraq to check out the stories which he or she confidently files each day. Not so." Earlier: 'European press reduce Iraqi coverage.'

A Los Angeles Times op-ed probes the 'Military's Self-Inflicted Wound,' citing Pentagon stats that "three to four gays and lesbians, on average, have been sacked every day for the last decade" while U.S. forces are "hurting for qualified soldiers."

Writing in CounterPunch, Jennifer Van Bergen previews a forthcoming scholarly legal article by a federal judge who "concludes that the Abu Ghraib prison abuses were the reasonably foreseeable results of a decision by President Bush to ignore the mandates of the Geneva Conventions relating to prisoners of war."

Human Rights Watch counsel Reed Brody argues that rather than aggressively seeking 'Justice for Abu Ghraib,' the U.S. is "doing what every dictatorship and banana republic does when its abuses are discovered: covering up and shifting blame downwards."

The BBC publishes photos of Iraqi prisoners being abused at a Basra facility known as Camp Bread, that were shown at a British court martial, and TalkLeft reports on the case of a U.S. national held in secret detention in a Saudi prison, where he has allegedly been tortured by FBI agents.

Before a Senate committee voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice, the New York Times editorialized that "senators acted as if she were not part of the serial disasters of the administration's foreign policy ... except when Sen. Barbara Boxer reminded Ms. Rice of her apocalyptic remarks about nonexistent Iraqi nuclear weapons..." Have a look. Plus: 'Demur, Defer, Deter'

Boxer objected to Rice calling the tsunami disaster a "wonderful opportunity" that "has paid great dividends for us," and Left Coaster says that "to talk about working closely with allies while your bosses are already planning the next unilateral war is a little much, even for this administration."

Seymour Hersh describes the marginalization of the CIA by the White House and Pentagon in a "Democracy Now!" interview, and sets Lou Dobbs straight about pre-Iraq war dissent within the intelligence community over WMD in Iraq. Scroll down to "Woah. Sy, Sy, Sy."

Tom Engelhardt weighs the odds on whether the future stands a chance against "the bizarrely upbeat 'fiction-based reality' of the Bush White House."

The Daytona Beach News-Journal's Pierre Tristam writes that Bush is "about to scare the country into waging war on its own government programs," adding that "never has the nation so knowledgeably re-elected its own executioner, or so willingly bought into its own bankruptcy."

But the House Ways and Means chairman called Bush's Social Security privatization plan a dead horse walking due to partisan politics. A Tacoma News Tribune letter writer took his representatives to task for doing "exactly what Karl Rove wants them to do" by "studiously ignoring" the issue of privatization, adding that "at least Armstrong Williams is getting paid to follow the Bush administration's script."

WSWS reviews plans for a "massive and pervasive police/military presence" at what Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge called "the most visible manifestation of our democracy."

In Seven Oaks, Derrick O'Keefe writes that the two celebrations held in the U.S. this week -- MLK Day and Bush's Inauguration -- "couldn't be more opposed," revealing the chasm between 'two Americas.'" Plus: Southern states said to give "equal time" to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Madison Capital Times columnist Ed Garvey muses on what "the likes of those who created the Swift Boat commercials" would be doing to MLK, were he alive and running for office today. Plus: "Honoring" King while dismantling HUD.

National Association of Black Journalists "astounded and dismayed" over remark by Las Vegas TV weatherman.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's speechwriter has resigned following allegations of plagiarism and sexual harassment during his career as a newspaperman.

Pray It Ain't So! Social conservatives are said to have "inundated the White House with phone calls" urging the president to press for a same-sex marriage ban and complaining that he is "dropping the issue he passionately touted during the campaign now that he has been reelected." Earlier: "amendment has never had a prayer..."

Michelle Malkin calls dropping of f-bomb at Inaugural Youth concert by the lead singer of Fuel, "simply inexcusable." Fuel wasn't even listed in the inaugural ball entertainment lineup that does include Don King, photographed with both George W. and Laura Bush during the campaign.

January 18

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Although USA Today quotes President Bush as saying that the theme of his inaugural address is "liberty is powerful and freedom is peace," the Washington Post reports that "Bush and his Cabinet nominees have been sending a firm message as they kick off a second term: no mistakes, no regret, no comment."

Outgoing Deputy Sec. of State Richard Armitage, in an interview with The Australian, says that his "biggest regret is that we didn't stop 9/11. And then in the wake of 9/11, instead of redoubling what is our traditional export of hope and optimism we exported our fear and our anger."

The Guardian reports on a 21-country poll that found "a clear majority have grave fears about the next four years," with traditional U.S. allies in Europe "expressing the most negative feelings" about Bush's re-election.

The New Optimism While 58% of respondents to a New York Times/CBS poll say they are optimistic about four more years, a majority also doesn't expect a troop withdrawl from Iraq or a better economy before President Bush leaves office, and believe the deficit will be larger and there will be no improvement in health care or education.

"In his first term, he promised 'compassionate conservatism,'" writes Sidney Blumenthal. "In his second term, he pledges casino conservatism, the restoration of boom and bust, which he calls 'the ownership society'. He has gambled his presidency on it."

As 'corporate America throws a party,' what $40 million could buy and other inaugural equivalences and excesses, including a $10,000-a-night "President for a Day" hotel package that comes with two faux Secret Service agents. Plus: One reporter questions why so many resources poured into TV coverage, and 'Giving Bush a pass -- again.'

David Corn writes that "there are weeks when I detest our political-media culture" for failing to "cut through this 'fog of phony war' ... and this is such a week."

"[T]he torture story has all but vanished from television," observes Frank Rich, but "What happened in the Fort Hood courtroom this month was surely worthy of as much attention as Harry's re-enactment of 'Springtime for Hitler': it was the latest installment in our government's cover up of war crimes."

Tom Engelhardt and Jonathan Schell discuss 'What Is Wrong with Torture' -- and with "the torture vote" as the Senate stalls the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General.

Helter Shelter An attorney describing conditions under which prisoners are being held at Guantanamo Bay said: "Compared to these men, Charles Manson is living in a palace, and these men have been convicted of nothing."

British officials said to urge U.S. to signal an exit strategy from Iraq, while Alexander Cockburn argues that "politically, there will never be a more opportune time to start a withdrawal" than shortly after the January 30 elections.

Reminding how the media ignored Sen. John Kerry's debate statement about the importance of convincing the Iraqis and the Arab world that the U.S. "doesn't have long-term designs" on Iraq, Ari Berman says, "The fabled 'exit strategy' may be not to exit."

Left I on the News combines a photo and a story from Iraq to illustrate the meaning of 'out now!' The BBC has more photos of the incident, in which U.S. troops at a checkpoint reportedly killed a mother and father in front of their children.

"From where I sit in Iraq, things are not all bad right now. In fact, they are going quite well," writes a U.S. cavalryman, adding that "In the distance, I can hear ... a symphony of destruction."

Editor & Publisher follows up on a Raleigh News & Observer article, reporting that media training for Iraq-bound soldiers "has been stepped up," with "Talking point" cards for military personnel "being updated regularly as the war progresses -- often as much as once a week -- to keep up with the conflict's changing issues and the proximity of embedded reporters."

In an interview on PBS' "NewsHour," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said, "I'm more concerned about bringing down our casualties than bringing down our numbers. And it is worth saying that since June 1, there have been more Iraqi police and military killed in action than Americans." Pandagon presses the point.

Knight Ridder covers a "peace day" meeting aimed at winning over "people suspected of supporting the insurgency" in Baqouba, where the largest political sign reads: "Ayad Allawi is an agent of the Americans."

The Los Angeles Times reports that the FBI is investigating the killing of a U.S. contractor who was gunned down in Iraq last month, along with a business associate, a few days after blowing the whistle on a kickback scheme by Iraqi Defense Ministry officials.

MP representing Tony Blair's government reportedly heckled "at every opportunity" by audience for Independent-sponsored debate: "Have critics of the Iraq war been vindicated?"

Asked by "Hardball's" Chris Matthews, "What did Iraq do to start the war with us?", Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said, "They were intertwined with other terrorist organizations." Pressed to name which ones, she said, "Chris, these terrorist organizations have tentacles that go all over the Middle East." (scroll down)

About Condoleezza Rice asking Sen. Barbara Boxer to "refrain from impugning my integrity," a Star Tribune editorial asks "Well if not now, when?", and TBogg writes that "Rice lost her integrity cherry back when she called 'Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US' a 'historical document' and said: 'The PDB does not say the United States is going to be attacked. It says Bin Laden would like to attack the United States.'"

As Rolling Stone rejects an ad for a Bible, CJR Daily describes how a newspaper and a TV reporter failed to keep faith with readers and viewers.

The Jeb Bush speechwriter who resigned over allegations of plagiarism and sexual harassment, had been hired one day after the Florida governor fired another top official over sexual harassment allegations.

'La Cage Aux Spongebob' Gadflyer's Paul Waldman writes, "First they came for Tinky Winky, and I did not speak up ..." Earlier: 'SpongeBob GayPants?'

Josh Marshall suspects that editors from The Onion are now writing headlines for CNN: 'Poll: Nation split on Bush as uniter or divider.'

'Canada, here they come ...' The Independent reports on "the feeling ... that a considerable northward migration is under way," including a Vietnam vet whose ancestor wrote the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner."

January 19

Friday, January 21, 2005

A Washington Post analysis finds the "soaring rhetoric" of President Bush's liberty-themed inaugural address "at odds with the administration's increasingly close relations with repressive governments in every corner of the world," and quotes the head of Human Rights Watch as saying "the decision to speak in terms of liberty instead of human rights was deliberate."

Billmon marks the contrast between Bush's declaration that "every man and woman on this earth has rights" and the finding by his nominee for attorney general that a ban on cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment need not apply in all cases to "aliens overseas."

American Prospect's Harold Meyerson wonders, "why, knowing that you are preaching the gospel of liberty and equality, would you ever let yourself be introduced by Trent Lott?"

Robert Dreyfuss foresees "four more years of Christian jihad" against "outlaw regimes" that happen to "sit on top of oil," Juan Cole provides a pictorial commentary on the first line of Bush's speech, an AP analysis begins with a word not mentioned, and Greg Palast takes on the 'Oaf of Office.'

Dana Milbank describes Sen. John Kerry's Inauguration Day, appearing at festivities that "at times resembled a campaign rally more than the solemn inaugural ritual. ... And every time they flashed his picture on the Jumbotron, the crowd -- full of wealthy Republicans -- jeered." On Monday, Kerry will introduce a plan to provide health coverage to all children.

Quoth the Maven: Fourmore ... Rahul Mahajan offers a grimly prescient passage from Edgar Allan Poe as a commentary on the inaugural festivities. Plus: 'Some in black tie; others, body bags,' and 'Ballgowns and hospital gowns.'

In Iraq, a car bomb killed 14 Shiite worshippers at a mosque in Baghdad, and a new 'Zarqawi tape vows lengthy war.'

A resolution to be introduced by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, calling for U.S. troops to come home from Iraq as soon as logistically possible, "has the potential to serve as a catalyst for nationwide debate," writes Norman Solomon, but "If left up to newsroom editors and mainstream pundits," it "will scarcely cause a ripple in the national media pond."

In an interview with Mother Jones, Noah Feldman discusses his book, "What We Owe Iraq," and cautions that "just because you've elected a government doesn't mean a government can actually govern."

Knight Ridder's Joseph Galloway writes that the Pentagon is "doing the old robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul thing" while 'scrounging to boost troops in Iraq.'

An Iraqi woman who was granted refugee status in the U.S. after claiming that she was tortured and her husband executed under Saddam, "appears to have made false claims," reports the Washington Post's Peter Finn, one month after Esquire published "The American Dream," a prospective biographer's account of how she came to the same conclusion, and six months after Finn initially wrote her up.

Water Torture. A New York Times story on reconstruction efforts in Basra, quotes an Iraqi engineer as saying that before recent improvements to the water system, mainly carried out by giant U.S. contractor Bechtel, "we had to pump for 30 minutes to get any water, and now we pump for 20 minutes."

Carpetbagger deconstructs Vice President Cheney's response to an invitation to name his mistakes in planning the war in Iraq: "he expected the Iraqis to be better at reconstruction. The citizens of the country he attacked under false pretenses aren't moving fast enough for him. This is the error that stands out in Cheney's mind." Plus: Cheney explains Iraq to Imus.

In his interview with Don Imus, Cheney also said, "You look around the world at potential trouble spots, Iran is right at the top of the list," but added that "We don't want a war in the Middle East, if we can avoid it."

Cheney is also said to have "expressed concern" that Israel "might well decide to act first" to eliminate any nuclear threat from Iran. Scroll down for an example of Cheney's "concern" about Israel having taken out an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981.

Writing in CounterPunch, Joshua Frank says, 'Look Who's Backing Bush's Next War' -- namely, Sens. Barack Obama and John Kerry, and Howard Dean, said to contend that Bush has been "far too soft" on Teheran.

Senate Democrats are reportedly angling for a nine-hour debate on the confirmation of Condoleezza Rice. A proposed agreement would provide one hour each for Sens. Boxer and Byrd.

As Afghan President Karzai just says no to aerial spraying of opium fields, Christian Parenti sojourns among the country's opium farmers for the London Review of Books, writing that he "can easily imagine the poppy economy and the new Afghan state merging into a narco-mafia with a flag and a seat at the UN."

The WSWS reports that "tens of thousands" took to the street to protest an inauguration which "took place in a police state atmosphere." TalkLeft has inauguration photos, including shots of protesters being pepper-sprayed during the parade

James Wolcott says "It's ridiculous" for TV commentators "to wax patriotic about presidents and inaugurals past as if there were some heartening continuum at work when there are snipers perched on the roof of the White House and enough riot police to protect a Latin American dictator." Plus: "Get used to it."

Running Up the Score Media Matters finds that during 10 hours of Inauguration Day coverage, "Republican and conservative guests and commentators outnumbered Democrats and progressives 17 to 6 on FOX, 10 to 1 on CNN and 13 to 2 on MSNBC." Watch a 'Fair and Balanced' Meltdown.

As Air America expands to 45 markets, the company's chairman tells the Wall Street Journal that "What happened on Nov. 2 may have been bad for America but it sure was good for Air America." The article refers to a survey that found conservative programming totaled over 40,000 hours a week, while progressive, or liberal, programming totaled just over 3,000 hours.

"I don't negotiate with terrorists," says a Florida state senator, referring to the Florida Marlins.

January 20

Monday, January 24, 2005

A report from a task force co-chaired by GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe, warns that the 'Point of no return' for global climate change is fast approaching.

The new chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, who is said to have been hand-picked by the Bush administration after Exxon complained that his predecessor was too aggressive on global warming, has reportedly wandered off the reservation.

Al-Hayat is reporting that a member of the leadership of interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's party said Sunday that "if other parties win, it will provoke a civil war," according to Juan Cole, who adds: "This reminds me of Cheney saying that the U.S. would be struck by terrorists if John Kerry were elected."

Baghdad Burning's Riverbend writes that "People in many areas are being told that if they don't vote -- Sunnis and Shia alike -- the food and supply rations we are supposed to get monthly will be cut off." Her writings have been collected in a new book.

"There will be no turbans in the government," a senior Shiite leader tells the New York Times, which reports that "the conviction that the Iranian model should be avoided in Iraq is apparently shared by the Iranians themselves."

An AP report on Iraq's "election woes" quotes Sec. of State nominee Condoleezza Rice as saying that "The Iraqis will be ... just fine."

With the number of detainees held at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq nearing 8,000, a new high, a U.S. intelligence officer tells the Los Angeles Times that "we want to eliminate as many of these guys as possible to stabilize things for the election." Plus: Iraqi security forces claim arrest of top Zarqawi aide.

Beyond the Fray USA Today, reporting that the Air Force and Navy are having banner recruiting years while the Army and Marine Corps struggle, adds that "of the more than 1,350 U.S. deaths during the Iraq war, 41 have come from the Air Force and the Navy."

"Talk to the wounded in five years," writes Fred Reed, predicting that "These men will come to hate. It will not be the Iraqis they hate."

Reporting international reaction to President Bush's inaugural speech and Vice President Cheney's comments on Iran, the Los Angeles Times notes that "Europe's last dictator," the president of "outpost of tyranny" member Belarus, blasted Bush, two days after its state television aired "Fahrenheit 9/11." Plus: 'Bush Pulls "Neocons" Out of the Shadows.'

War In Context says a column by neocon leading light, Robert Kagan, "gives the game away by pointing out that the most significant thing about Bush's address was the absence of the word terror. ... The monumental shift that Kagan is highlighting is that terrorism is a concept that has out-lived its utility for the Bush administration. No one needs to declare victory in the war on terrorism if they simply let the notion wither away."

Carpetbagger finds the White House appearing to channel comedian Steven Wright in spinning and unspinning the speech.

Bush's father, during what the AP describes as "an informal visit to the White House briefing room," said of the inaugural address: "People want to read a lot into it -- that this means new aggression or newly assertive military forces. That's not what that speech is about. It's about freedom." Read what columnist Charles Krauthammer said about his role in drafting it.

'Dream On America' A Newsweek report probes the danger of "a delusional America ... lost in the reveries of greatness, speechifying about liberty and freedom," while abroad "the anti-Bushism of the president's first term is giving way to a more general anti-Americanism." Plus: "If Bush wanted to tackle tyranny, he could start with regimes under U.S. control."

Leading Friday's National Prayer Service, Billy Graham said in a prayer, "We believe that in Your providence, You've granted a second term of office to our president, George W. Bush, and our vice president, Richard Cheney," and that "Their next four years are hidden from us, but they are not hidden from you." Compare press mentions of the first and the second parts of the quote.

"They need a new law for these protesters: 'You cross the line, you do the time,'" said Kenneth E. Boring, 80, described by the Washington Post as "still apparently irritated by the experience as he waited to leave Reagan National Airport." Boring called for "a stop to all this nonsense, protesting and causing confusion."

Israel has reportedly invoked a 1950 law -- allowing for the seizure of property owned by Palestinians who had left Israel during the 1948-49 war -- to seize Jerusalem real estate holdings of Palestinians cut off from their land in the city by the West Bank separation barrier. The story was originally reported by Haaretz, which said seized assets "could add up to half of all East Jerusalem property."

The New York Times reports that secret commandos are operating in the U.S. under a program code-named "Power Geyser." King of Zembla has much more, including a link to the book said to have "supplied most of the information in the Times article."

Last week Seymour Hersh said that in marginalizing the CIA, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld "won a major bureaucratic fight," now the Washington Post reports that the Pentagon "has created a new espionage arm" and is reinterpreting U.S. law to give Rumsfeld "broad authority over clandestine operations abroad."

"Encirclement? A new Cold War? World War IV? From the media's point of view," writes Tom Engelhardt, "Alfred E. Neuman's old motto might suffice: What me worry?"

MediaCitizen continues its 'Pyongyang on the Potomac' series, reporting on how Armstrong Williams "is working overtime to restore his standing within Washington's political establishment."

Sun Who? Moderating a debate about Doubleday's plans to publish an Al-Qaeda reader, a CNN anchor asked: "Now really, what good do either one of you believe ... could come from this? Why should we know our enemy?"

Alexander Cockburn eulogizes John Hess, dead at 87, who "grew old the way journalists are meant to go old, but almost never do. He never stopped stamping on the toes of the powers-that-be, never lost his edge, never got out of harness."

'There Goes Johnny' In a rare interview for a 2002 Esquire profile, Johnny Carson said of President Bush: "Can you believe this Enron mess? I love how his good friend 'Kenny Boy' suddenly turned into 'Mr. Lay'... Give me a break!" The profile notes that Carson gave all of his awards to the museum in his hometown of Norfolk, Nebraska. Plus:"'Tonight' and Forever."

January 21-23

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A new report by Human Rights Watch charges that "systematic torture and other abuses against people in detention" are being committed by Iraqi security forces. A Financial Times article quotes the report as saying that the country's Iyad Allawi-led interim government "appears to be actively taking part, or is at least complicit, in these grave violations of fundamental human rights."

Eric Umansky retrieves an Oregonian report which dates U.S. awareness of -- and complicity with -- Iraqis torturing detainees back to June 29, Iraq's first official day of sovereignty.

Palace revolting. The Los Angeles Times reports that the latest wave of documents released by the ACLU disclose multiple cases of horrific abuse at Adhamiya Palace, where U.S. guards allegedly "sodomized a disabled man and killed his brother, whose dying body was tossed into a cell, atop his sister." 'How low can we go?'

The White House reportedly plans to request another $80 billion for this year's costs of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing the total spent since 9/11 to half the cost of World War I or Vietnam. Plus: 'U.S. plans "robot troops" for Iraq.'

The Washington Post reports that, despite "speculation that the Bush administration could be preparing to reduce the number of U.S. troops significantly this year," the Army will "keep its troop strength in Iraq at the current level of about 120,000 for at least two more years."

Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell interviews Knight Ridder's Joseph Galloway about reaction to a column in which Galloway wrote that "there may be only one good way out of the deepening disaster that is Iraq: Hold the elections on Jan. 30, declare victory and begin leaving."

Heavy fighting near the Baghdad airport was said to prevent international flights from landing, one of which carried Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan.

According to VOA, a Saudi would-be suicide bomber has told interrogators that Iraqi police may have captured, and then released, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi two months ago because they failed to recognize him. USA Today also obtained a videotape of the interrogation, in which the young man reportedly says that his fellow insurgents "blew me up in the truck."

As the 'WSJ Votes Chalabi,' the Chicago Tribune reports on the 'Fear eroding Iraqis' resolve to vote,' with candidates being warned to 'Stay indoors and don't tell anyone your name.' Plus: "calling cards of the insurgency" and 'Dominican sisters flee Mosul.'

Reporting from Basra, the Washington Post finds that Shiite religious rule has brought political killings, shuttered liquor stores, vigilante justice and an education system in which women are "encouraged -- often by force -- to wear veils." Plus: 'Shiites Are Coming, Shiites Are Coming.'

The Post also reports that the White House has "scrapped" its 45-member "coalition of the willing" list, but that a "senior administration official ... could not say when or why" the action was taken.

Siege of State A Los Angeles Times correspondent says most Western journalists in Iraq have "determined that their only option is to turn to the U.S. and British embassies for transportation help ... to leapfrog the ring of danger around Baghdad and visit the rest of the country." Earlier: Robert Fisk on 'Hotel Journalism.'

"Those who defend the prewar coverage ... say they reported accurately the falsehoods leaked to them by those who sought to wage war," writes Chris Hedges. "By making such an argument they are also saying they are morally neutral, that they are little more than conduits for lies, half-truths and truths all rolled into one unintelligible message.They forget the contract."

Observing "the absence of critical commentary in the U.S. media on President Bush's inaugural speech," Patrick Martin of WSWS contrasts the likely reaction "if the president of China, Russia, Japan or Germany had given a major speech in which he claimed the divinely ordained right to remake the entire world as he saw fit."

Newsday editorializes that White House staffers and others who say that Bush's speech represented no change in U.S. foreign policy, "tell us that we didn't hear what we heard or that he didn't really mean it."

After MojoBlog demonstrates that Bush's speech "wasn't so much penned by Michael Gerson, as lifted from an acceptance address 50 years ago," Ezra Klein wonders whether Gerson knows "what happened to the man who scribbled down the original?"

As Numeralist goes strictly 'By the Numbers' for the Bush administration's first four years, predictions for round two of 'Bushies Vs. the Press' includes one sure bet.

Asked on "Meet the Press" whether Congress "would accept any formula that said that people would be treated differently because of their gender or their race" in determining Social Security benefits, Rep. Bill Thomas answered, "If we discuss it and the will is not to do it, fine." Plus: Chris Rock on why "Black people should get Social Security at 29."

Josh Marshall finds an "AARP vs. GOP poll smack-down" on Social Security to be "truly a delight to behold."

Crazy Like a FOX Media Matters reports that NBC anchor Brian Williams said in an interview with C-SPAN's Brian Lamb, that "it's my duty to listen to Rush" Limbaugh and that "Rush has actually yet to get the credit he is due." Pandagon has more, and in 'The Nascar Nightly News,' Frank Rich described Williams as "eager to hunt down an audience, not a story."

A 'Nuclear Incident in Montana' last week was followed by an NRC "Alert" in Michigan after a coolant leak and shutdown at the Fermi 2 Nuclear Power Station.

The judge in a 1996 Texas drunken-driving case tells Newsweek that Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales asked him to "consider" striking his client, George W. Bush, from the jury, contradicting Gonzales' version of events: "In public, they were making a big show of how he was prepared to serve. In the back room, they were trying to get him off."

Gonzalez told the Senate that if confirmed he would "make the investigation and prosecution of obscenity one of my highest criminal enforcement priorities," but that could be complicated by a federal judge's ruling, in favor of Extreme Associates, that the government's anti-obscenity laws are unconstitutional. In a 2002 Frontline interview, the head of Extreme said he "would welcome" being the test case.

The Shadow of His Smile. Raw Story reports that Sen. Norm Coleman may not have paid the cosmetic surgeon, who proudly displayed before-and-after photos of the senator's teeth, until after the story broke. Update: Did Coleman violate ethics rules?

'Sponge Bob Puts Move on Me,' testifies a Chattanoogan columnist, who worries that "many other cartoon characters have gotten through [the] relatively dense safety net" of the Religious Right.

The New York Times stakes out "a genuine velvet-rope hot spot" in Georgetown, said by Newsweek, in 'Jesus and Jack Daniel's,' to be known for "keeping the wanna-bes lined up out on the street even when the place is mostly empty" -- and as a "clubhouse" for two famous regulars. Plus: Rolling Stone gets religion.

January 24

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

On "the deadliest day for U.S. forces since the March 2003 invasion," a CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter crash kills 31 in western Iraq, with AP citing a Brookings Institution report that "at least 33 helicopters" have been lost in the war, the majority shot down by hostile fire. In a press conference following the crash, President Bush said that in Iraq and across the world: "I firmly planted the flag of liberty."

Knight Ridder catches top Iraqi politicians backtracking on campaign promises to set withdrawal deadline for U.S. forces, while the New York Times picks up on insurgent leaflets warning "those of you who think you can vote and then run away," that "we will shadow you and catch you, and we will cut off your heads and the heads of your children."

The Times also reports that, based on much lower-than-expected voter registration turnout, 'Iraqis Abroad Seem Reluctant to Vote, Too.'

The Washington Post profiles U.S. taxpayer-funded efforts to "coach" Iraqi candidates in what one instructor calls the "crack cocaine" of door-to-door campaigning. Plus: 'Pothole Politics.'

In a Financial Times commentary, Michael Lind writes that the U.S. has become 'the World's Dispensable Nation' -- while "the rest of the world is building institutions and alliances that shut out the U.S." And British Prime Minister Tony Blair says 'U.S. Needs to Integrate With World.'

Reporting that U.S. officials "no longer believe this weekend's election will finish off the rebellion," the Los Angeles Times quotes a "Western official" in Iraq as saying that "it is unlikely that these elections will do much to bring violence down; let's be honest about it."

No Exit. Dilip Hiro says the elections are "set to become but the latest in a series of 'turning points' touted by the Bush administration, which in reality turn out to be cul-de-sacs," adding that "while voters may be unaware of the locations of their polling centers, guerilla groups are not."

'Microwaving Iraq'? William Thomas writes that "occupied Iraq has become a 'saturation environment' of electromagnetic radiation" as the U.S. military experiments with "pacifying" rays.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Congressional Budget Office's long-term cumulative deficit forecast has grown by 60 percent in just four months, to $1.3 trillion over the next decade, despite President Bush's promise to halve the deficit by the end of his term. A New York Times graphic shows the deficit ballooning toward $4 trillion if the Bush tax cuts are made permanent.

Even though the Senate confirmed Condoleezza Rice by a vote of 85 to 13, the 'Boxer Rebellion Spreads,' according to the Nation's John Nichols. Plus: Failing her way to the top.

Molly Ivins writes that "It is extremely difficult to convince people that you are killing them (and torturing them) for their own good," and Helen Thomas wonders, "Has Bush ever heard of the Marshall Plan, the Peace Corps, the Voice of America and exchange student programs?"

"Democracy Now!" interviews Gore Vidal about "The most un-American speech" he's ever heard, and the Progressive's Matthew Rothschild tells Amy Goodman that President Bush "embeds in his speeches very hidden messages to his evangelical base, and so I wanted to go hunt those down, and I did so." Plus: Dick Morris concedes that 'Bush's speech even beat mine.'

In the interview, Vidal said, "I don't see much future for the United States, and I put it on economic grounds. Forget moral grounds.... We are going to go broke." Robert Kuttner agrees: 'Oh yes, it can happen here.'

Left Coaster peruses a new Zogby poll which found a higher percentage of Americans saying they are ashamed that Bush is their president -- 31 percent, up from 26 percent last month.

The AP holds back on actual wording of "derogatory" and "profane" anti-Bush bumper sticker that prompted a Denver police sergeant to tell pickup owner Shasta Bates: "You need to take off those stickers because it's profanity and it's against the law ... or I will come and find you and I will arrest you."

An aide from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's new communications "war room" was arrested for disorderly conduct after holding up a sheet that said "No War" during Bush's inaugural speech.

A St. Louis mayoral candidate and current School Board member says that he may kill himself, adds that "to be mayor, of course, of St. Louis, ... is what I was meant to do before President."

New Jersey Gov. Richard Codey to radio shock jock: "I wish I weren't governor, I'd take you out" -- for saying that "Women who claim they suffer from this postpartum depression ... they must be crazy in the first place." The governor's wife has publicly described her struggle with post-partum depression.

Howard Kurtz reports that syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to help promote President Bush's push for a $300 million marriage initiative. After being interviewed by Kurtz, she wrote: "I should have disclosed ... I would have, if I had remembered it. My apologies to my readers."

"In Gallagher's case -- and to some degree in Williams' too -- this seems less like a matter of payola than a Bush administration make-work program for third-tier GOP pundits," writes Josh Marshall, who notes that Gallagher was hired at HHS by movement conservative Wade Horn, founder of the well-endowed National Fatherhood Initiative.

Marshall also sums up an exchange he had with Frank Luntz on "The Al Franken Show," in which Luntz said it's inappropriate for reporters to use the term "private accounts," since President Bush has switched to calling them "personal accounts." The Franken show's blog points out that "Social Security already has personal accounts, so using that phrase to refer to privatization is both hollow and misleading." Follow the links to find out who's using what.

Fuhrer Factor "Ted Turner called Fox a propaganda tool of the Bush administration and indirectly compared [its] popularity to Adolf Hitler's popular election to run Germany before World War II," reports Broadcasting & Cable, which also quotes Turner as having said: "We've spent 200 billion destroying Iraq. Now we've got to spend 200 billion to rebuild it, if they'll let us -- and all to find a nut in a fox hole..." Earlier: 'My Beef With Big Media'

Right Choice? The Hill reports that according to New York Times "insiders," retiring columnist William Safire "turned down Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.'s offer to succeed Daniel Okrent as the newspaper's ombudsman."

As the FBI probes allegations that the Boy Scouts used "ghost units" to boost funding from agencies in three states, a board member tells the AP that he "knew something was wrong when he saw that 20 kids on the list for a scouting program all had the same last name: Doe." The story quotes the co-founder of Scouting for All as saying: "This isn't the way to deal with dwindling numbers -- being inclusive is."

January 25

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Amid "intense pre-election violence," the New York Times' John Burns reports that "Baghdad is not under control, either by the Iraqi interim government or the American military," adding that while the "American military command has cited surveys purportedly showing 80 percent of Baghdad's residents are eager to vote ... In one Baghdad office, only one of 20 people who were asked said he intended to vote."

A Project on Defense Alternatives briefing report calls the Iraqi elections a case of "bait and switch," in which "most Iraqis will go to the polls expecting to achieve one thing" -- ending the U.S. occupation -- "while actually legitimizing a different outcome." Plus: "Here Comes 'The Freedom.'"

A TV reporter, in Iraq to cover the elections, was with a convoy when four U.S. Marines were killed and "all hell broke loose" in Haditha.

As U.S. network 'Anchors Try To Get Close To the Story In Baghdad,' the New York Observer cites one news director as saying that "striking a balance between 'good news' and 'bad news' was no longer the dominant issue ... News organizations just want to get an interview and leave in one piece."

"It's almost a policy," a White House advisor told the New York Times, referring to President Bush's omission of any reference to the deaths of 31 Americans in his opening statement at a hastily-called press conference. The article says the White House's communications strategy for Iraqi elections is "not only to lower expectations but to avoid any definition of success."

"A rigid approach to staying on message and a clampdown on access for reporters and the public have been increasingly used by the executive branch," writes American Journalism Review's Lori Robertson. "The current Bush administration has shown that the method can be perfected, with little to no downside for the White House."

The article quotes 20-year White House veteran Bill Plante as saying the current occupants have exhibited a "tighter rein than I've ever seen anybody successfully do." At Tuesday's press conference, Bush dodged Plante's question about Condoleezza Rice, as well as the follow up: "No reaction to the lying? No reaction?" Plus: You can call me...

Bush also said he was "unaware of the case" of Jordanian Ali Hattar, after a reporter asked if he would "condemn this abuse of human rights by a key American ally." Hattar was arrested after delivering a lecture called "Why We Boycott America." An article reprinted on the foreign ministry's Web site says: "The lecture was organized by the Professional Associations Council and its Anti-Normalization Committee, which was ruled illegal ... in 2002.

Juan Cole offers 'The Speech Bush Should Have Given' -- in June 2002, before taking the country to war in Iraq.

A UPI analysis finds Bush spending his political capital "where he least expected -- to fund the soaring, ongoing costs of the endless war in Iraq with no end in sight."

"Delusion is still the defining characteristic of the Bush administration," writes Paul Craig Roberts, who "went overnight from being an object of conservative adulation to one of derision" when he called the U.S. invasion of Iraq a "strategic blunder." Plus: Sidney Blumenthal on 'This Pollyanna Army.'

After Edward Kennedy became the first U.S. Senator to call for a troop withdrawl from Iraq, a Republican National Committee spokesman said, ''Kennedy's partisan political attack stands in stark contrast to President Bush's vision of spreading freedom around the world.''

Knight Ridder reports on the resignation of Undersecretary of Defense, Douglas Feith, "the first resignation of a senior civilian architect of the Bush administration's Iraq policy." The article notes that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said Feith had told him that he wanted to return to the private sector, but will Feith's disability keep him from finding work?

A Capital Times columnist flags a dispatch from Iraq by the police chief of New Glarus, Wisconsin: "The Mosul police chief, Mohammed Al Barhowie, was caught with mortars pointed at our camps on Nov. 10 ... and (was) later arrested trying to flee the country with over $600,000 that he had embezzled ... He was taken to Baghdad, and we just learned that the government is considering appointing Al Barhowie to the position of assistant to the minister of the Interior."

"Sugartime!" On her second day as Sec. of Education, Margaret Spelling sent a letter to PBS, complaining about lesbian characters in an episode of "Postcards from Buster," after which a PBS spokesperson said that "the department's concerns align very closely with PBS' concerns, and for that reason, it was decided that PBS will not be providing the episode" to its 349 stations.

Editor & Publisher airs columnist Maggie Gallagher's beef with Howard Kurtz's article claim that she was paid $21,500 "to help promote the President's proposal" on marriage.

Spinning Out of Control? A report from the Committee on Government Reform calculates that last fiscal year, "the federal government spent $88.2 million on 60 contracts with public relations agencies," compared with $38.6 million spent in fiscal 2000 under the Clinton administration.

Media Matters reports that Talon News, whose "Washington bureau chief" gets called on regularly at White House press opportunities, "appears to be little more than an arm of the Republican Party." Hoffmania adds, "It's a website. No more, no less."

TCFU City Pages follows up on its report about the head of TCF Financial Corporation pulling the company's advertising from the Star Tribune, after a columnist for the paper "all but called for a consumer boycott of TCF" in taking a shot at PowerLine, Time's "Blog of the Year," which is co-written by a TCF VP who calls himself "The Big Trunk." Update: TCF yanks ads from City Pages!

The co-author of Proposition 200, which makes Arizona the first state to require proof of citizenship when registering to vote, says the measure will not inconvenience "ordinary" Arizonans.

Up In Smoke Before Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced that he will not run for New York Attorney General, a New York Press article declared that "The best thing about Kennedy's candidacy is that no one is going to ask him if he ever smoked marijuana. The man was arrested for heroin in the 1980s, so you don't even have to ask if he was banging it."

In a recent interview with Corporate Crime Reporter, Kennedy said "Republicans are 95 percent corrupt and the Democrats are 75 percent corrupt." CCR characterizes a passage in Kennedy's book, "Crimes Against Nature," as implying that "we live in a fascist country and that the Bush White House has learned key lessons from the Nazis." Just released: 'The 10 Worst Corporations of 2004.'

'Welcome to the Jungle' The author of a new Human Rights Watch report on the U.S. meat and poultry industry, "Blood, Sweat and Fear," says "Dangerous conditions are cheaper for companies -- and the government does next to nothing." Read the American Meat Institute's response, and more about the conditions at meatpacking plants.

January 26

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Independent asks eight correspondents to update their answers to key questions about Iraq, beginning with 'Is the World Safer Now?'

Reuters reports that if Iraq's election comes off, much of the credit will belong to Carlos Valenzuela, 'The U.N.'s Electoral Mr. Fix-It' from Bogota, Colombia. Plus: an 'Electoral Fact Sheet' from the U.N.

As Iraq enters the "three-day national lockdown," called an "election holiday" by the interim government, Baghdad is said to have "kicked into panic mode."

Knight Ridder's Trudy Rubin, who talked with top Shiite leaders about "how they plan to handle their new power" and found "some room for hope," writes that the Shiites "frequently use the analogy of South Africa, with themselves cast as the blacks and Sunnis as the whites."

Three days after Knight Ridder reported that 'Top Iraqi candidates won't press for withdrawal of U.S. troops,' President Bush told the New York Times that the U.S. would pull out if asked: "Yes, absolutely. This is a sovereign government -- they're on their feet." He also said Iraqi citizens must be made to "view U.S. troops as helpers, not as occupiers."

The Times cleaned up Bush's response to a question about why the Congressional Black Caucus had been invited to the White House only once during his first term, changing, "Ah, you know, I don't know. It's just the way it worked out," that appeared in an early edition, to "That's just the way it worked out."

According to draft manuscript pages obtained by the AP for a planned book by a former U.S. Army Sergeant who worked as an Arabic translator at Guantanamo, "Female interrogators tried to break Muslim detainees ... by sexual touching, wearing a miniskirt and thong underwear and in one case smearing a Saudi man's face with fake menstrual blood." Ealier: former captive "reveals how prostitutes were taken into the camp to degrade Muslim inmates."

In a letter to Stars and Stripes, a dozen retired generals and admirals say Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales is 'not right fit for GIs.'

Courting Business The Boston Globe reports that during a Texas primary campaign, when he was out-fundraising his opponent "by a 1,047-to-1 ratio," Gonzales legally "took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from companies that had business before him" while on the Texas Supreme Court.

Juan Cole writes that Douglas Feith "is clearly resigning ahead of the possible breaking of major scandals concerning his tenure at the Department of Defense, which is among the more disgraceful cases of the misleading of the American people in American history." Plus: Kurt Nimmo bids farewell to Feith.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports on the 'grim picture' slowly being painted by returning veterans, quoting the founder of Operation Truth as saying that "there's a tremendous human cost of this war, and America isn't prepared for it."

The Honolulu Advertiser reports on community reaction to the death of 27 Kane'ohe Bay Marines in a helicopter crash in western Iraq, with AP relaying that "no single military attack or accident stands out as hitting Hawaii harder since the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor."

Doug Ireland flags an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education exploring how the mainstream media ignored or buried reports of a study published in The Lancet, shortly before the U.S. presidential election, "concluding that about 100,000 civilians had been killed in Iraq since ... March 2003." Plus: 'Why the children in Iraq make no sound when they fall.'

Mike Whitney probes 'The Widening Chasm Among Conservatives,' suggesting that "Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft and James Baker have joined the ranks of anti-war Leftists in calling for an immediate withdrawal of all American troops."

Salon uncovers a third conservative columnist in the pay of the Bush administration, reporting that Michael McManus, a marriage advocate whose syndicated column "Ethics & Religion" appears in 50 newspapers, was paid $10,000 to "foster a Bush-approved marriage initiative. McManus championed the plan in his columns without disclosing to readers he was being paid to help it succeed." Plus: Maggie Gallagher vs. the "elites."

Antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo finds ample historical pretext to ask: "how many pro-war commentators are being paid under the table to promote and defend the war effort in Iraq?" And Media Citizen scores the dust up between Eric Alterman and Jeff Jarvis, that began when Alterman suggested the possibility that pro-American Iraqi bloggers are working in cahoots with the CIA.

"If you're reading this on the Internet, the FBI may be spying on you at this very moment," Nick Turse writes in Part I of 'The Emergence of the Homeland Security State.'

Experts Agree CNN screenshot said to "rule out the terrifying possibility of an unkillable zombie Bin Laden." Plus: "laissez-faire-ing bin Laden."

Molly Ivins pays tribute to the Social Security debate reframers, calling it "a hell of a thing to get a bunch of right-wing Republicans claiming that the word 'private' is pejorative." Plus: 'Little Black Lies'

On the day that Human Rights Watch released a report alleging abuse of workers in the U.S. meat and poultry industry, Cargill announced that it was shuttering its meatpacking plant in Marysville, CA. A Cargill spokesperson reportedly "said the company would not be offering job training" to the plant's 240 employees and "did not know if Cargill would provide severance pay."

Opti-Scam? Raw Story details allegations by volunteer workers observing the Ohio recount, who "have prepared affidavits alleging serious tampering, violations of state and federal law and possible fraud," involving the placing of stickers over ovals on ballots that had been marked for Kerry/Edwards. Follow up: Rep. John Conyers to ask FBI to investigate.

The WSWS points out that when Vice President Cheney participated in a ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, sections of his speech "were lifted virtually unchanged from an address given by Bush when the U.S. president and his wife made a quick tour of the camp a year-and-a-half ago."

The Washington Post reports that Cheney was dressed for the solemn occasion in "the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower."

January 28

Monday, January 31, 2005

'Acts of Bravery' Bob Herbert salutes an "uncommonly brave" but "woefully uninformed" electorate, "much of which was voting blind ... half or more of those who went to the polls believed they were voting for a president. They weren't." Plus: 'The Iraqi Ballot, Translated,' and Anthony Shadid on the campaign 'As Seen on TV.'

Editor & Publisher covers the coverage, including a report by the New York Times' John Burns: "Many voters said they would not have been there choosing new leaders if the U.S. had not led the invasion ... the words seemed reluctant, as if crediting Americans for anything was a step too far." A Baghdad voter who had predicted low turnout now says, "I was wrong, so wrong ... It was like Saddam was running."

Pepe Escobar describes how "everybody is celebrating ... Iraqi Shi'ites, the Pentagon, the Sunni Iraqi resistance, the rest of the world, even Henry Kissinger," and Needlenose reminds that the elections came about "through a process in which Dubya and his crew were dragged against their will, kicking and screaming, every step of the way."

In a post-election appearance on "Hardball," the New York Times' Judith Miller said "the administration has been reaching out to Mr. Chalabi, to offer him expressions of cooperation and support and according to one report he was even offered a chance to be an interior minister in the new government."

Antiwar.com's Justin Raimondo sees a possible exit strategy in 'Sistani's Triumph,' while Politics of Dissent offers six reasons why the elections may not have been a "resounding success." Plus: Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria on why 'Elections Are Not Democracy.'

"A civil war may still erupt," writes Back to Iraq's Christopher Allbritton in an election-day report from Baghdad, "but if it does, the elected government -- one elected by Shi'a and Kurds, for the most part -- will have the moral high ground in it." Plus: 'Arab media focuses on voting, not violence.'

What Did Women Want? The New York Times reports that "in the south, at least," despite predictions of a landslide victory for Shiite clerical parties, the women's vote in Iraq "was actually in considerable doubt."

A report by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, released on Sunday, says that the U.S. occupation authority was "unable to keep track of nearly $9 billion" it transferred to Iraqi government ministries.

As a Los Angeles Times article asks, "Who's Dying in Our War?," a Vermont man calculates that his state is the per-capita leader in Iraq deaths, and a wounded Iraq vet is given 30 days to pay a $3,100 bill he received after injury discharge.

The WSWS says Congressional Democrats are going "out of their way to reaffirm their continued support for the Iraq war," and that Sen. Edward Kennedy's call for an early withdrawal of U.S. troops has thus far attracted "virtually no support" from within the party establishment.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is expected to call Monday for the White House to reveal its exit strategy from Iraq, whose interim interior minister says he expects coalition forces to leave within 18 months.

As Sen. John Kerry appears on "Meet the Press," George Soros, interviewed at the World Economic Forum in Davos, echoes an op-ed by filmmaker Errol Morris, saying that Kerry's campaign "tried to emphasize his role as a Vietnam War hero and downplay his role as an anti-Vietnam War hero, which he was. Had he admitted, owned up to it, I think actually the outcome could have been different.''

Soros also said Democrats need to counter "a very effective conservative message machine,'' and that the Bush administration was "conspicuous by its absence" in Davos. Reuters reports that a dinner held there, "designed to promote dialogue between Iran and the United States," became "the meal from hell." Plus: Halliburton to exit Iran.

'Torture Chicks Gone Wild' Concerning last week's AP report on female interrogators at Guantanamo, Maureen Dowd writes that "By the time House Republicans were finished with him, Bill Clinton must have thought of a thong as a torture device. For the Bush administration, it actually is."

'Bringing It All Back Home' Nick Turse examines the civilian half of the emerging "Homeland Security State," following up on his earlier look at the military side.

As 'Docs Rock Sundance,' award winners include "Why We Fight," a documentary described in the program as "a full-frontal autopsy of how the will of a people has become an accessory to the Pentagon." A Film Threat review calls it "'Fahrenheit 9/11' without the gimmicks, emotional chokehold, or hullabaloo (at least not yet)."

Frank Rich previews a new documentary on Iraq titled "Gunner Palace," and former Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke gets herself a CNN-style makeover. Plus: What's next for Colin Powell?

Sell Jazeera A report that the Qatari government wants to move one of the world's most influential brands, describes "shouting matches" within the U.S. government over what to do about the channel, with a Bush administration official telling the New York Times: "One side is shouting, 'We have to shut them down!' and the other side is saying 'We have to work with them to make them better.'" The U.S. is among six countries criticized for harassing and censoring Al-Jazeera.

Heilway to Hell? American Nazi Party meets resistance to Adopt-A-Road effort in Oregon, as 'Interest in KKK sale dismays town.'

The Observer profiles "21st-century addicts" whose habits include Viagra, text messaging and surgery, and the New York Times magazine checks in with 'Dr. Ecstasy.'

January 28-31

There are 520 link-paragraphs in this archive.