March, 2005 link archive

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

A new poll on Social Security reform is bad news for President Bush, according to USA Today -- 35 percent approve of his record on the issue, down from 43 percent three weeks ago. In the same poll, 32 percent said that they "never heard of" or "had no opinion" on new DNC chair Howard Dean.

White House officials reportedly tell GOP lawmakers and "allies on K Street" that they have six weeks to turn the tide, with the Treasury Department monitoring progress from a new "war room," aka the "Social Security Information Center," which will "track lawmakers' remarks to their local news outlets."

Paul Krugman calls out Sen. Joseph Lieberman in warning of the likelihood that "any compromise that created private accounts would turn into a Trojan horse that let the enemies of Social Security inside the gates." Plus: Sen. Joe Biden lauded for "minor masterpiece of counter-bamboozlism," and Democrats urged to fight or face consequences.

House Democrats release a report charging that the Social Security Administration "has modified its communications strategy to undermine public confidence in Social Security," adopting a "new pessimistic tone and emphasis [that] echo President Bush's warnings about the future of Social Security."

"Bush has a strategy of discrediting, end-running, and even faking the news," says the head of the Annenberg School of Communication. "Those prepackaged videos sent to local TV stations 'looked' like news, much the way Gannon 'looked' like a reporter. We're seeing something new: Potemkin-village journalism." Plus: 'From Russia With Love.'

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration gets in the act with a "video news release" extolling a proposal that ends mandatory lunch breaks for many hourly workers. Or, as the narrator says, permits workers to "eat when they are hungry, and not when the government tells them." Plus: 'news-like video brings backlash.'

Breakfast with Halliburton. CJR Daily heralds the arrival of the newest member of the U.S. media contingent in Afghanistan: "The Taliban? 'Nobody is afraid of them anymore.' The troops? 'Happy as can be!'"

The State Department's annual report on human rights details torture, rape, illegal detentions and other abuses by the U.S.-installed Iraqi interim government, but reportedly "did not address incidents in Iraq in which Americans were involved, like the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib."

Jim Lobe writes that the report also named "the usual suspects," who, says Ari Berman, also top the list of U.S. weapons recipients.

Yesterday's massive car bombing in Iraq, which killed at least 120, ripped not only through a line of government job applicants but also through a crowded market: the Washington Post adds that Iraqi police beat cameramen and prevented reporters from speaking with the wounded at a hospital.

Columnist Margie Burns writes that with the long-delayed release of a memo written by Richard Clarke to Condoleezza Rice, Clarke's testimony to the 9/11 Commission "is now thoroughly vindicated."

Joshua Frank, 'Recovering From Kerry,' complains that "silence is complicity, and the antiwar movement is speechless." Earlier: The Nation looks for the back-story among 'Peace Activists in the War Room.'

Danny Schechter writes that despite the silence of CNN's Eason Jordan, a number of journalists covering Iraq continue to believe that the 'Independent Press Was a Target in Iraq.'

'Allah and Democracy Can Get Along Fine,' argues Dilip Hiro in a New York Times op-ed, citing the example of Qatar, which, although "the Islamic Shariah is the main source of legislation," has universal franchise, a free press and freedom of worship, and women are "free to drive and wear jeans and blouses."

After Lebanon's prime minister resigned, following massive demonstrations calling for Syria to "Leave Us In Peace, Not in Pieces," a spokesman for Hezbollah was quoted as saying that "as long as Israel is on the other side of the border, Lebanon and Syria will be in the same bunker. We share a bilateral destiny."

Juan Cole argues that "if Lebanese people power can force a Syrian withdrawal, the public relations implications may be ambiguous for Tel Aviv," raising the question of why, "if Syria had to leave Lebanon, Israel should not have to leave the West Bank and Gaza."

Blogger Aaron Swartz counters a complaint that Republicans are outnumbered on university faculties -- by citing polls showing that people who believe in telepathy, demonic possession and astrology are even more severely underrepresented.

Sarah Posner investigates the Council for National Policy, a tax-exempt 'Secret Society' founded by Tim LaHaye, whose "Left Behind" serial "gives an eerie ring to the No Child Left Behind Act." The group has no web site and "makes a concerted effort to hide" its journal.

Three newspapers decline to run "Boondocks" strip suggesting that President Bush "smoked weed" to "take the edge off the coke." And the Indianapolis Star's editor answers reader's questions, including: "I heard you refer to the Internet as a sewer pipe. What did you mean by that?"

TalkLeft spies a hot potato rolling New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's way, after the state house voted to abolish the death penalty.

February 28

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Citing "evolving standards of decency" and invoking "global norms," the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for juvenile murderers 5-4, prompting Justice Antonin Scalia to accuse the majority of imposing "the subjective views of five members of this court and like-minded foreigners." Plus: 'Reshaping Capital Punishment.'

A New York Times report on the terrorizing of federal Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow in Chicago, who found her husband and mother dead of gunshots to the head, says that "Already, some white supremacists were celebrating the killings on the Internet." Orcinus has more on this 'ominous tragedy.'

France and the U.S. find common ground on Lebanon, with Secretary of State Rice "hinting at possible support for an international presence to ease the transition or fill the security void," but 'Don't Rush on the Road to Damascus,' warns one Middle East analyst and former Bush administration national security team member.

Rice has reportedly "deferred" plans to visit Canada, in response to Ottawa's announcement that Canada won't be part of a U.S. missile defense program.

As the U.S. accuses Iran of "cynically" developing nuclear weapons, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern explains why "preaching to Iran and others about not acquiring nuclear weapons is ... like the village drunk preaching sobriety" as long as Washington "keeps looking the other way as Israel enhances its own nuclear arsenal."

With negotiations in Iraq to form a new government reportedly stalled, UPI's Martin Sieff argues that Monday's massive car bombing in Iraq "blasted to smithereens the key operating myth of the Bush administration," that January's elections had "finally turned the tide."

Gunmen cut down two members of the special tribunal that will try Saddam Hussein, "a day after the Iraqi special tribunal announced the first charges in the approaching trials of former senior officials in Mr. Hussein's government."

Iraqis decry lack of democratic participation following a closed-door decision by government officials to extend the weekend through Saturday.

An Iraq war resolution challenging the U.S. military's dependence on the Vermont National Guard and calling for the U.S. to take steps to withdraw its troops from Iraq, was passed in some version by almost all of the 50-plus Vermont towns that debated it on Tuesday. Vermont leads the nation in per capita casualties.

The WSWS monitors political developments in Romania, which "has stood unconditionally on the side of the Bush government during the Iraq war" despite overwhelming popular disapproval, and where a new government dependent on ultra-right support has joined the race to reduce taxes with a vengeance. Plus: NPR and Radio Romania compared.

Left I On The News says who better to be a "spokesman for the world's poor" than someone who earned $188.6 million in the last five years, not counting severance pay? Plus: 'Cry Wolf and let slip the dogs of war.'

Senate Majority Leader William Frist has reportedly indicated that President Bush's push for Social Security overhaul "may have to wait until next year and might not involve the individual accounts," while House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is "disappointed" in the number of town meetings held by GOP members.

Josh Marshall suggests that it's time to "take a deep breath, appreciate the gravity of the moment, and then burst out laughing at the hapless representative from the 4th district of Louisiana..."

Ann Coulter called a contest in which competitors vied to name her next book, "a welcome change from all the vomiting and fainting after the election season." The prize-winning entry: "Roosevelt: Wheelchair-riding, America-hating terrorist."

Editor and Publisher's Greg Mitchell, who followed the "blog probe" into the "Jeff Gannon" case from day one, reports amazement at the resources and skills brought to bear by the pajamadeen.

Editor & Publisher also reports on a New York Times review slamming a memoir by former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. Plus: Eric Boehlert on the Bush administration's war with the media.

Calling cable TV "a much greater violator in the indecency area" than over-the-air broadcasts, Sen. Ted Stevens said he wants to expand the FCC's decency standards to include cable and satellite TV and radio. Ask Rupert Murdoch what he thinks about that.

Noting that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 161 other House Democrats "voted for censorship" in supporting the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act, The Nation's John Nichols writes that "unfortunately, most Democrats appear to believe that censorship is what America is all about."

Antonia Zerbisias covers a talk given by the BBC's Michael Buerk on "The Trivialization of the Media," especially foreign TV news coverage. Buerk is best known for alerting the world to the Ethiopian famine in 1984. Plus: 'Jessica Simpson's tummy aches, next on Headline News.'

Robert Christgau examines the politics of Sri Lankan-born dancehall singer Maya Arulpragasam, aka M.I.A., whose debut album is titled Arular, the name her Tamil Tiger father goes by.

March 1

Thursday, March 3, 2005

As a new New York Times/CBS News poll shows that President Bush and most Americans have different priorities, both foreign and domestic, with "strong resistance" to "the signature proposal of his second term," the Administration pulls out the stops.

With Republicans throwing splitters at the AARP and Congressional Democrats over Social Security reform, Billmon suggests that Treasury Secretary John Snow may have taken the bat right out of the hands of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

As the gay couple whose wedding photo was used in an anti-AARP ad considers suing USA Next, Media Matters finds that TV coverage has "generally left the impression that USA Next is a grassroots, issue-based advocacy organization representing seniors. In fact, USA Next is something quite different..."

With U.S. military deaths in Iraq climbing past 1,500, AP reports that nearly a third of all homeless men in America this year will be U.S. veterans -- 500,000 of them. Molly Ivins adds that Republicans voted down a military exemption to the bankruptcy bill while adding loopholes for the rich.

Discussing her nine months in Iraq, the Washington Post's Jackie Spinner says, "When I write a story that some perceive as critical of the U.S. military, I get nailed from people accusing me of being anti-American ... I know from talking to fellow journalists in Iraq that we don't feel we have the support of the American people."

AFP reports that Peter Arnett has resurfaced -- in the April edition of Playboy -- to claim that "the biggest proponent of regime change inside Iraq" as U.S. forces advanced on Baghdad was Uday Hussein.

Jonathan Schell argues that the "world's only superpower" is looking a little 'less super' after invading Iraq, while its economic rivals cultivate "another kind of power."

A Gallup poll found that more than one in four Americans are ready to nuke terrorists, which Running Scared attributes to the spread of cowboy mentality.

As human rights groups denounce the appointment of an Afghan warlord as chief of staff in Kabul, the Washington Post reveals the death of a young Afghan at a secret CIA prison in 2002. The victim was chained naked to a concrete floor and left to freeze to death, while his CIA keeper went on to be promoted.

Responding to an NPR report that the Dept. of Homeland Security has required more than 1,700 immigrants applying to remain in the U.S to wear the same electronic ankle monitors worn by rapists and other criminals, TalkLeft points out that "these people have never been accused of a crime."

As a "top aide" to Prime Minister Sharon warns that "If the Palestinian Authority will not start acting against the terrorists, the future will be very bleak for Abu Mazen," a Fatwa is issued allowing Bedouins in the Israeli army to fight fire with fire in removing settlers. Plus: Why 'Bush Keeps Fueling the Fire' in the Middle East.

The Globe and Mail reports that the collapse of Lebanon's pro-Syrian government may have left Hezbollah holding the balance of power -- which, according to one analyst, puts the militant group "in a tough spot."

Geov Parrish "reality checks" the new domino theory, and a CounterPunch article describes 'How the White House Stage Managed the "Get Syria" Movement.' The authors also made the film, "Syria: Between Iraq and A Hard Place."

Although a Reuters analysis concludes that 'Iran's arguments for nuclear power make some sense,' Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, tells members of Congress that Iran should have realized that "achieving a nuclear weapon" would "invite attack by one of the regional powers."

Abizaid also said that U.S. forces "do best in attacking the network as opposed to looking for a specific person" -- who made a rare appearance in remarks at a Washington ceremony.

The AP reports that a widening investigation into an alleged '$180 Million Halliburton Bribery Scandal' could result in a denial of future government contracts, quoting one observer as saying, "How far the Justice Department takes it becomes the real issue."

The New Scientist reports that pain researchers in the UK are "furious" about U.S. research to determine how much pain can be induced in individuals, as part of the U.S. military's development of a Pulsed Energy Projectile designed to trigger extreme pain from a distance of more than one mile.

Carpetbagger writes in 'Guess who's worried about his home district' that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay "suddenly has to watch his back" and could eventually be done in by his own re-districting scheme.

Sacked CBS producer Mary Mapes reportedly plans to shop a book in which she will "argue for the veracity" of the Killian memos, and FAIR disputes the notion that Dan Rather "has used his CBS platform to disseminate left-wing propaganda over the last two decades."

A warning from a Republican FEC commissioner regarding the Internet implications of a campaign finance law is said to mean that "the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over."

Barely Tenured tracks down a condemnation of public ice cream eating -- a "catlike activity" -- from Leon Kass, the president's top advisor on bioethics, who wrote that "eating in the street is for dogs" in his book, "The Hungry Soul."

"Wish you were here." A U.S. citizen living in Canada ponders 'Postcards from post-election America."

March 2

Friday, March 4, 2005

The Guardian reports from Iraq that "the daily drip of U.S. casualties passes almost unnoticed now," and quotes a U.S. soldier on patrol in Mosul as saying, 'I just want to survive and go home with all my body parts.'

Paul Glastris and Phillip Carter are interviewed about their Washington Monthly article, 'The Case for the Draft.' (scroll down)

As Ahmad Chalabi reaches out to insurgents, and Gen. John Abizaid advises Iraqi forces to protect themselves from suicide bombs, The Nation's Ari Berman compiles 'The Real Story of the Insurgency.'

The New York Times surveys "bursting" detention centers in Iraq, "the main incubators for terrorists and insurgents," according to RAND analyst Bruce Hoffman, who told the World Economic Forum in January that the U.S. has created "the cult of the insurgent."

With a tit-for-tat "report card," China is said to have joined the ranks of nations "suggesting that the government that produced the Abu Ghraib prison abuses has no business commenting on what happens elsewhere."

Left I On The News corrals recent reports of allegations by interim Iraqi government officials that the U.S. was guilty of using chemical weapons in the assault on Fallujah, and that Saddam Hussein was innocent of using them in Halabja in 1988.

Noting that the U.S. military targeted Hilla with cluster bombs in 2003, the WSWS condemns both the suicide bombing campaign in Iraq and the Bush Administration's "hypocritical denunciations" of the recent Hilla bombing. Plus: Robert Parry on 'Neocon Amorality.'

With the Bush Administration reportedly looking for ways to spend money on Iranian opposition elements, a senior official chortles that "the guys at the State Department were too afraid to try anything during the first term." A possible drawback: "giving U.S. funds to reformers may doom them." Plus: West urged to recognize the diversity of Islamic activism.

As Syria reportedly prepares to announce a redeployment, a Saudi demand is said to offer officials in Damascus "a way to bring their soldiers home without appearing to be bending to the will of the West," at a meeting where "points of view were identical." Plus: 'The buzz on the Syrian street.'

During an appearance on CNN's "Inside Politics," Senate Minority leader Harry Reid called Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan "one of the biggest political hacks we have here in Washington," while a spokesman for Reid accused Greenspan of "shilling for the president." Plus: Paul Krugman on "Greenspan's game of fiscal three-card monte."

Greenspan gave his "cautious backing" to a national consumption tax, which "would shift some taxes from upper-income to middle-income households," according to a 2002 Treasury Dept. resource cited by the New York Times.

The Los Angeles Times reports that credit card company profits are rising at a higher rate than personal bankruptcies, by putting many cardholders on a treadmill and by devising "ways to make money even on cardholders who eventually go broke."

The report notes that the Senate voted along party lines Thursday to reject a 30 percent ceiling on consumer interest rates, along with several other proposed amendments.

In an open letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a former Canadian foreign minister explains why his compatriots "can't quite see laying down billions of dollars in a three-dud poker game." Plus: 'Don't blame Canada.'

A GOP congressman from Nevada says he "had no idea" that a speech by an Alabama Republican, from which he plagiarized 15 paragraphs verbatim to whip up the faithful in his Lincoln Day address, was copyrighted.

'A Fascist America' Tracing the growth of "the fascist impulse" since 9/11, Justin Raimondo argues that the U.S. may be "a single terrorist incident away" from falling into a trap. Plus: Bill Moyers bids 'Welcome to Doomsday.'

In 'Gonzo Gone, Rather Going, Watergate Still Here' Frank Rich writes that Hunter S. Thompson's 1972 "diagnosis of journalistic dysfunction hasn't aged a day," and George McGovern finally concedes that he picked the wrong running mate.

March 3

Monday, March 7, 2005

Italian press sources report that a ransom of up to $6 million paid for the release of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena may have led to "misunderstandings" between U.S. troops and the Italian secret service -- triggering a familiar protocol in response to "the usual 'tragic incident'" and generating more revenue for Iraq's 'boom industry.'

Discussing the shooting of Sgrena by U.S. forces in Iraq, a founder of her newspaper, Il Manifesto, tells "Democracy Now!" that 'This Was an Attack on Unembedded Journalism.'

An Italian official urged Sgrena to be cautious in her account of the incident, in which an Italian agent died trying to shield her from U.S. bullets along the 'Highway of Dread.'

Kurt Nimmo notes that ABC News, in addition to giving "wide play to the Bushcon version of events," referred "to Sgrena as a 'left-wing journalist' -- and yet William Kristol is never called a 'right-wing journalist' when he writes for the 'conservative' Weekly Standard." Plus: 'Why We Don't Mourn.'

The Washington Post reviews the "many incidents in which civilians have been killed by mistake at checkpoints in Iraq," while the Washington Times reports a dramatic increase in coalition "friendly fire" incidents over the past few months, as detailed by Reuters.

As post-election maneuvering continues in Iraq, insurgents killed at least 31 in a wave of Monday attacks.

Hezbollah tells its followers to take to the streets in Lebanon, to protest "foreign" demands for Syrian withdrawal, with its leader charging that "U.S. demands are a photocopy of Israeli demands," while Syrians denounce Lebanese ingratitude.

'Who Killed Rafik Hariri?' AntiWar's Justin Raimondo returns to the question "lost in all the shouting," and reviews evidence pointing toward not Syria but al-Qaeda.

Doug Ireland recounts the New York Times' "really bad day," when its report on "extraordinary rendition" by the CIA neglected to mention the Bush Administration's aggressive use of the state-secrets privilege -- and "served as an uncritical transmission belt" when the Pentagon used cost-cutting as a rationale. And "60 Minutes" asks: 'CIA Flying Suspects To Torture?'

As the White House approves a day pass for the blogger who does FishbowlDC, AMERICAblog's John Aravosis complains in a Los Angeles Times op-ed that "Mainstream media editors act as if our investigation of Guckert is about prurience and lacks merit." Plus: Time has no time for the story.

Jay Rosen on the Bush administration's effort to 'de-certify' the press and Josh Marshall on how Bush is like Nixon.

The Los Angeles Times profiles the Justice Department's religious-rights unit, and its defense of the right of conservative religious organizations -- to "hire or fire people based on their religious views, even when administering publicly funded programs." Plus: 'Evangelical conservatives find a spiritual home on the hill.'

Nathan Newman analyzes what he calls Sen. Rick Santorum's 'Sweatshop Expansion Bill,' under which "while 1.2 million workers could qualify for a minimum wage increase, another 6.8 million workers ... would lose their current minimum wage protection."

With some Republicans now calling for tax hikes "as a way to pay for a restructuring of Social Security," the Washington Post quotes Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, as saying that "The spenders are fighting back."

Despite 'Ten reasons why Paul Wolfowitz would be perfect for the job of World Bank president,' U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow admires another candidate.

The Bush administration's choice to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is U.N.-basher John Bolton.

Alexander Cockburn writes that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, ratcheting his nurse problem, is learning to his sorrow "what happens when you trip over a 5'2" woman in nurse's scrubs." Plus: Nurses press Schwarzenneger, who's promising to introduce legislation "that would ban all the sale of junk food in the schools."

The editor of New York Press has resigned in the wake of criticism over Matt Taibbi's cover story on 'The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope.'

March 4-6

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

As President Bush reportedly "feels validation" from a "snowball effect" in the Middle East, a Christian Science Monitor analysis warns that "many of the countries could turn even more resolutely anti-Western as the public gains freedom and power."

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Beirut, waving "Thanks to Syria" signs, lead War in Context to wonder whether the massive turnout will be hailed as expressing "the will of the Lebanese people and their desire for self-determination," as was the case with much smaller anti-Syrian rallies.

A Financial Times article says John Bolton's nomination as U.N. Ambassador reflects a "growing sense of vindication ... over the decision to go to war in Iraq. Plus: 'Bush to U.N.: Drop Dead.'

Although "even some Republicans privately expressed dismay," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's office was said to be spinning the nomination of the "World's Greatest Reaganite" as a "Nixon goes to China" move.

The U.S. Army's official historian for the Iraq war reportedly concludes that "the army could lose the war," because the U.S. military "lost its dominance by July 2003," shortly after invading Iraq, "and has yet to regain that position."

'Ramadi Madness' The Palm Beach Post obtained a video shot by National Guard soldiers from Florida, which shows them kicking a wounded prisoner in the face and waving a corpse's hand to "make him say 'Hi.'"

A U.S. soldier who complained about abuse of prisoners in Samarra was reportedly given a psychiatric exam and sent out of Iraq, and an ACLU attorney says that "it is increasingly difficult to understand why no senior official, civilian or military, has been held accountable."

A Salon investigation by Mark Benjamin finds that "flights carrying the wounded arrive in the United States only at night," with those transported to Walter Reed "unloaded into hallways empty of the patients, families and media who typically are present during the day." Earlier: 'Behind the walls of Ward 54.'

Last September Benjamin reported that Pentagon "casualty counts" failed to include almost 17,000 troops medically evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan that weren't hurt by enemy bombs and bullets. He now puts that number at more than 20,000, and also refers to the U.S. military's combining of its public affairs and PsyOps offices in Iraq.

A 41 percent drop in black volunteers since 2000 is a big factor in the U.S. Army's recruiting woes, according to Pentagon studies cited by the AP.

People on terrorist watch lists are reportedly buying firearms eagerly and legally in the U.S., and Al Qaeda operatives are said to be filling out applications at American spy agencies.

Bulgaria's president summoned the U.S. Ambassador to complain of "a lack of coordination among coalition troops" after "friendly fire" apparently killed a Bulgarian soldier.

Italy's foreign minister says that the car carrying wounded journalist Giuliana Sgrena and slain agent Nicola Calipari was not speeding, and that Calipari had "made all the necessary contacts with the U.S. authorities," while a Pentagon memo reportedly says that no "safe passage" arrangements were made. Earlier: Sgrena on reports that the U.S. napalmed Fallujah.

Baghdad Burning's Riverbend says that the "event of the week" in Baghdad wasn't the shooting of the Italians ("usually they save those rounds for Iraqi families in cars") but the beating of doctors and nurses by Iraqi National Guardsmen who wanted preference over civilians at a hospital.

Amendments raising the minimum wage are stripped out of a bankruptcy bill that Paul Krugman sees as a "significant step" in the direction of a "debt peonage" society. The bill has also become an 'Arena for Abortion Fight.'

There was some cringing in the amen corner when a speaker addressing the National Religious Broadcasters' convention reportedly said, "I love America. But if it came to a choice between Israel and America, I would stand with Israel." Plus: 'American Wahabbis and the Ten Commandments.'

In 'Bush, God, and the Media,' David Domke argues that "Fundamentalism in the White House is a difference in degree, not kind, from fundamentalism exercised in dark, damp caves." And Thomas Frank, Ted Rall and Jeff Koyen, who resigned as editor of the New York Press following the paper's cover story on the Pope, join the religious fray on "Scarborough Country."

As Walter Cronkite tells CNN's Wolf Blitzer that Bob Schieffer should have had Dan Rather's job "a long time ago," Rather expresses his "big concern": that the American press will now "settle for mediocrity," either "in exchange for access" or by being "intimidated."

In an op-ed headlined 'Lizard-Brain TV,' Martin Kaplan, host of Air America's "So What Else Is News?", writes that "many local television executives apparently think that audiences are content with what they get and that naive public interest advocates simply don't understand that local news is really a cash cow for a large, often very large, corporation."

The Boston Globe's Mark Jurkowitz reports on the "ongoing tension" between the press and the White House, and Washington Post readers tell the paper's ombudsman "that the press generally, and the Post, have been timid in challenging the Bush administration." Plus: FishbowlDC blogs the gaggle and the briefing, calling the latter 'Reality TV At Its Worst.'

March 7

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

CNN reports that bodies found at various locations in Iraq include 26 shot in the forehead near the Syrian border, 15 beheaded in a warehouse south of Baghdad, and two stuffed in barrels with explanatory notes attached.

Blue-On-Blue The London Times reports that U.S. troops in Iraq are being given special "anti-fratricide" training, for which American commanders "asked the British Army to supply vehicles, men and flags to teach their soldiers what their allies looked like."

"What I find really disturbing," writes the Toronto Star's Antonia Zerbisias, is "how few American journalists are protesting" when at least 73 of their colleagues have been killed in Iraq -- especially after yet another "Baghdad speeding ticket." Plus: 'Target: Al-Jazeera.'

A Le Monde article translated for Truthout reports that the head of the Shiite Alliance says Iraq's new National Assembly is scheduled to convene for its first session on March 16, and that coalition forces must be given a specific departure date "as soon as possible."

War in Context takes the Washington Post's David Ignatius to task for a column highlighting "nice" interrogation stories provided by Arab intelligence services.

'The War Path of Unity' Joshua Frank recounts how Democrats joined Republicans in ignoring millions of anti-war protesters prior to the invasion of Iraq, in an excerpt from his book, "Left Out: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush."

Marc Cooper introduces his Atlantic Monthly article -- 'Thinking of Jackasses: The grand delusions of the Democratic Party' -- with a warning that "this is not pleasant reading for giddy liberals." Plus: "Do progressives and Democrats have a future in the South?"

President Bush repeated his demand that Syria withdraw from Lebanon, mentioning freedom more than twenty times in a speech, without referring to Hezbollah, which was also said to be "playing the game" with a turnout of half a million in Beirut. Plus: "George Bush asked for democracy."

Slam-Dunked After a 14-month review, a presidential commission is said to have found U.S. intelligence on both North Korea and Iran not only lacking but, in the case of Iran, "scandalous" and "not complete enough to allow firm judgments about that country's illicit weapons programs."

Nicholas Kristof recounts his 2002 lunch with Matthew Hale, David Neiwert suggests an "excellent hire" to assist U.N. ambassador-designate John Bolton, and Eric Alterman chats up Paul Wolfowitz.

John Marshall goes headline hopping on Social Security as Bill Berkowitz sizes up the legions in 'Richard Viguerie's Army.'

A Los Angeles Times investigation details how House Majority Leader Tom DeLay found company under an ethics cloud involving foreign golf junkets and lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Still Settlin' In The Washington Post reports that the Israeli government is directly involved "in outpost construction that violates not only Israeli law but the 'road map' peace plan," according to a government-sanctioned report. Plus: Film said to be "first German-Jewish comedy since World War II."

"Democracy Now!" marks International Women's Day by interviewing 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner Wangari Maathai. See a world of photos.

'Dan Rather's Long Goodbye' The New York Observer investigates CBS' attempt to find out the source of the National Guard documents, and Tim Goodman writes that "From the tut-tut tone of Wolf Blitzer to the transparent hate of, the people seemed to want blood, and they got it."

The American Prospect's Garance Franke-Ruta examines the political connections of bloggers that were instrumental in recent takedowns, including PowerLine, which will be celebrating Rather's sign off at an event sponsored by a party-line think tank.

A "Nightline" program devoted to blogger ethics is scooped by a blogger, and Liquid List skewers a panel of media illuminati.

California's governor is attracting 'A New Kind of Crowd' reports the Los Angeles Times, and "they're not looking for his autograph."

March 8

Thursday, March 10, 2005

More than 40 people were reportedly killed at a funeral by a suicide bomber in a Mosul mosque, while according to news e-mailed from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, 30 American contractors were wounded by a car bomb at a hotel, a blast felt and heard by Baghdad Burning's Riverbend, who makes a surprise pick for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Following discovery of the execution-style deaths of numerous National Guardsmen, a "spooked" Iraqi soldier told the Washington Post that "We are all waiting for death like the moon waiting for sunset. We don't know whose turn will be next."

William Pfaff examines mounting popular and political pressures in Italy 'After the checkpoint shooting' -- and recalls another "horrific accident" in which Italians died at the hands of the U.S. military. Plus: testing Italy's patience.

Jason Vest explains why roadblocks are necessary in Iraq -- and why the U.S. government has budgeted $10 million for compensation claims stemming from checkpoint shootings in 2005 alone.

Robert Parry suggests that a reluctance to give Al-Jazeera "credit for spreading the seeds of democracy" has led the U.S. media to adopt the new conventional wisdom: "that George W. Bush and his neoconservative advisers are the new liberators of the Middle East." Plus: 'Which War Is This Anyway?'

The Neoconservative disputes a former U.S. Marine's claim that Saddam was captured one day earlier than announced, and was found in "a modest home in a small village and not in a hole."

As Lebanon's parliament renominates the pro-Syrian prime minister who had resigned nine days earlier, a Lebanese official says that President Bush is focusing on Syria "as if he has no other work."

A Bush Administration official is quoted as saying that the U.S. government is overcoming its "absolute aversion" to admitting that Hezbollah, an organization the White House places "in the same category as Al-Qaeda," has a role to play in Lebanon.

A Pentagon probe, characterized as a "gap-filler," is said to be the latest internal military inquiry to exonerate both brass and policy, finding "no link between approved interrogation techniques and detainee abuse." Plus: the Abu Ghraib hand-off.

At a hearing on the probe's findings, Sen. Carl Levin said, "I can only conclude that the Defense Department is not able to assess accountability at senior levels, particularly when investigators are in the chain of command of the officials whose policies and actions they are investigating."

Sidney Blumenthal writes that U.N. ambassador-designate John Bolton is not so much a neoconservative as a "neoprimitive," with "no use for romantic rhetoric about the 'march of freedom' and 'democracy.'" Plus: 'Ten Questions' the Senate should ask.

A secret FBI report is said to contradict past testimony by FBI Director Robert Mueller, that several sleeper Al-Qaeda cells were "probably in place" in the U.S.

TalkLeft rounds up reports of police taserings of a man chained to a hospital bed in Florida and another man at a Chuck E. Cheese salad bar in Colorado. Amnesty International called for a suspension of Taser use in November.

As the Organization of American States reopens an inquiry into the 1981 slaughter of more than 800 unarmed peasants in El Salvador, David Corn takes a hard look at 'The New York Times, a Massacre, and Bush's Deputy National Security Adviser,' the "triumphant, pardon-clutching" Elliott Abrams.

Robert Novak touts his idea of a "thoughtful compromise" on Social Security, and says it may "chip away at a few brave Democrats" and "look better than nothing, in the eyes of the White House." But the White House's top economic advisor called bipartisan proposals to make Social Security solvent before dealing with private accounts "absolutely a non-starter."

The gay couple whose wedding photo was used in an anti-AARP ad is suing USA Next and a political consulting firm for $25 million. Last week USA Next's CEO told the Washington Post, "They ought to be suing all the left-wing blogs for circulating this." Plus: 'Fox News whitewashes another Republican front group.'

As Senate Republicans attempted to eliminate more than a quarter of the tax cuts sought by President Bush in his budget proposal, and in some cases to restore proposed cuts in domestic programs, Paul Craig Roberts says, 'So Much for the New Bush Economy.'

After Bush's "Clear Skies" initiative foundered in committee, Sen. George Voinovich reportedly "threw up his hands," explaining that Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who voted with the Democrats, thinks global warming is "the biggest problem facing the world," while Chairman James Inhofe "has a sign in his office saying this is a hoax."

Discussing what became of his party, former U.S. Senator Dave Durenberger says Republicans "talk about freedom and values, but they really don't believe in representative government," and that "We use the words 'national security' to justify absolutely everything that goes on in this country. And that's not American. But that's the track [Bush] is on."

National Journal's Chuck Todd ranks the U.S. Senate races, predicting which seats are most likely to change parties in 2006.

Warning that "We're turning the clock back to the days of Hays," Frank Rich, who's on a list of Pulitzer finalists, celebrates HBO's "Deadwood," and "The Aristocrats," which one reviewer called "Obscene, disgusting, vulgar and vile," adding that it "might be the funniest movie you'll ever see."

Responding to criticism of his "The 52 Funniest Things About the Death of the Pope," Matt Taibbi writes: "If there was hate in the piece, it was not for the pope. It was for the agonizing marathon of mechanized media grief and adulation we so inevitably go through after the passing of each and every hallowed leader or celebrity."

March 9

Friday, March 11, 2005

U.S. officials have reportedly admitted that the shots which killed an Italian intelligence officer and wounded journalist Giuliana Sgrena, were fired by American military personnel providing extra security for U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, who was expected to travel the same road. His replacement as ambassador to Iraq will travel from Kabul to Baghdad.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a suicide attack which killed 47 funeral mourners outside a Shiite Muslim mosque in Mosul came after U.S. and Iraqi forces "killed or captured hundreds" of rebels in the city, where "neighborhoods have seesawed between insurgent and U.S. control."

"Something happened on the way to the wars of the future," says another Times article on rethinking the Pentagon's big-picture strategy: the military got "bogged down in an old-fashioned, costly and drawn-out war of occupation."

'1500 deaths ago' Knight Ridder's Joseph Galloway remembers the arguments advanced for invading Iraq before the war, now that we are told "we had to attack ... Saddam" because "he wasn't a democrat." Plus: 'After the War Comes Cancer.'

Citing a "steel-hard consensus in the international community," a top U.N. official says that Syria must take four steps to withdraw from Lebanon or face "total political and economic isolation." Plus: Beirut is not Berlin, Lebanon is not Ukraine, and mum's the word for Israel.

AntiWar's Justin Raimondo sets off to find 'The Wonderful Wizard of Washington' after reading that the Lebanese revolution is "much smaller and more stage-managed in real life than it appears in photographs," while a Guardian commentary says 'that's not democracy that's on the march in the Middle East.'

What a little daylight can do The Bush Administration is reportedly "seeking to transfer hundreds of suspected terrorists to prisons in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Yemen" from Guantanamo -- "because the legal landscape has changed."

The ACLU releases newly-obtained documents pointing to a "memorandum of understanding" that the Washinton Post reports was signed by top military officials and the CIA to "establish procedures" for holding ghost detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. Plus: "I don't care if we're holding 15,000 innocent civilians. We're winning the war."

The New York Times cites Bush Administration officials as saying that they view Bush's willingness to join Europe in negotiations over Iran's nuclear program, and to offer some economic incentives, as "part of an effort to speed along the negotiating process so that Iran's intentions become clear." Matthew Yglesias has another name for the new policy.

One day after DNC Chairman Howard Dean called the exclusion of non-Republicans from town-hall meetings on Social Security "not an American thing to do," the Los Angeles Times reports that "three hecklers managed to sneak past the White House ticketing process ... and position themselves in separate locations around the auditorium." Plus: An Alabama brush-off.

'Blocking Move' The New Republic's Jonathan Chait make the "principled case" for obstructing the president's attempt to privatize Social Security.

"The appalling bankruptcy bill oozing through the Senate" with the support of many Democrats, which The New Republic called "a truly contemptible piece of legislation," drives James Wolcott back into the arms of Walter Karp.

Opposition to bankruptcy bill unites left and right in cross-blogosphere coalition. Plus: Joe Conason on 'The gospel of the rich and powerful.'

Left I On The News finds evidence in news of record long-term unemployment that 'The retrain has left the station.'

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert called on Democrats to "put the ethics process above partisan politics" and accept Republican rules changes that would restrict the power of the ethics committee, which has admonished Majority Leader Tom DeLay for official misconduct three times in the past year.

Arguing that the "reform" plan of California's governor "mirrors the Rove agenda," ArnoldWatch suggests "that just like Karl Rove is Bush's brain, maybe Arnold is Rove's robot." Earlier: "Maria, Define 'News' for Him."

David Neiwert writes that the reported suicide of a man claiming to have killed U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's husband and mother means that the murders were not, after all, "an act of domestic terrorism," despite "the response on the extremist right."

"For better or worse, we've entered the age of tabloid democracy," writes the San Francisco Chronicle's Steven Winn, but "With everybody jumping into the pond together, the tabloid world lacks the kind of rank tang it once had." Plus: 'Pajamas! He arrived in Pajamas!'

'Neo-McCarthyism Slugs Baseball' as Congress summons seven players to testify on steroid use -- but not Barry Bonds, described as having been "deeply politicized in recent years" and likely to remind "Congressional hacks" of "the last time they dragged out a proud, angry Black man with nothing to lose."

The Blind Boys of Alabama, who first met in 1936 and sang together under various names "from little boys to old men," say goodbye to a founding member.

March 10

Monday, March 14, 2005

As "Sunshine Week" kicks off, the New York Times reveals the extent to which the Bush administration prepackages TV news, reporting that at least 20 federal agencies have made and distributed "hundreds" of segments in the past four years that are routinely aired by local stations without informing viewers of their origins.

Critical Montages provides links to many of the "news" producers mentioned in the article, which has already inspired a campaign to 'Stop Fake News.' Last week the Los Angeles Times reported that additional "mock news videos" produced by California Gov. Schwarzenegger's administration had surfaced. Plus: 'Dems cry foul over Schwarzenegger videos.'

A Memphis coffee shop owner says he was contacted in advance of President Bush's visit to the city last Friday by someone claiming to be a "special agent," who said he was "calling businesses to tell them not to put up any ... signs in their windows that were negative toward President Bush." He's scheduled to be on Air America Monday.

CJR Daily interviews former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who, according to Salon's Eric Boehlert, is 'Still saying nothing after all these years.' Plus: Former NPR host Bob Edwards calls Bush administration "all-time champion of information control."

Editor & Pubisher reports on the Project for Excellence in Journalism's "State of the American News Media 2005" study, which found that while almost the same percentage of stories on the Iraq war were positive as negative, those on Fox News were twice as likely to be positive.

The study also found that 73 percent of the Iraq war stories on Fox News included the opinions of the anchors and journalists reporting them, compared to 29 percent on MSNBC and 2 percent on CNN. A Fox News producer tells Howard Kurtz: "I encourage the anchors to be themselves ... They're, number one, Americans, and number two, human beings, as well as journalists."

After two more U.S. contractors were killed in Iraq, ABC News reported that "every one of them died helping to rebuild that war-torn country," but Left I On The News advises another look.

Private Screenings The Los Angeles Times profiles U.S. troops as amateur music video editors, trading scenes of carnage from Iraq "like baseball cards," and showing "whooping and hollering" audiences back home that "This isn't some jolly freakin' peacekeeping mission."

AP takes to the streets of Baghdad, to find "a cacophony of automatic weapons fire, explosions and sudden death." Elsewhere, responding to request for an update on Fallujah, Juan Cole is "sorry to say that there is no Fallujah to update."

Newsweek looks in on the more than 1,000 U.S. children who have lost a parent in the Iraq war, and reports that "characteristically, the military and Congress have responded to the urgent needs of the survivors by adding new layers of bureaucracy."

A New York Times report details new official Iraqi government accounts of the "highly organized" looting operation that made off with equipment that could be used to make "missile parts, chemical weapons or centrifuges essential for enriching uranium for atom bombs" after the invasion of Iraq. Plus: 'Hunting deadly treasure in Iraq.'

As negotiations to form a new government drag on and 'Irritated Iraqis Wait for Change,' AFP reports that Kurdish chieftain Jalal Talabani is insisting that the new government include outgoing prime minister Iyad Allawi, "who has so far refused any post other than premier."

Karen Greenberg argues that the Bush Administration's courtroom prosecution of the war on terror, characterized by "a powerful sense of apparent desperation and hype," is "less than helpful" in defending against actual terrorism, and calls on the courts to reassert some professionalism.

'The Spoils of War' Vanity Fair reports that the revelations of a KBR whistleblower on how the Halliburton subsidiary spent some of its reported $12 billion in Iraq war contracts include $73 million per year for "living expenses" in Kuwait and a laundry subcontract that "went from $62,000 a month to $1.2 million a month" in 60 days.

Former Homeland Security nominee Bernard Kerik has accepted over $75k in royalties from a book of Ground Zero photos "published to raise money for the families of heroes" killed on 9/11, according to the New York Daily News. Plus: 'Watchdog details run-ins with Ridge.'

After Syria reportedly agrees to follow 1559 and remove its forces from Lebanon, Joshua Landis writes that "In the American embassy in Damascus, the view is that the game is finished. Now everyone is trying to understand who won."

GOP House members and aides are said to be worried about Majority Leader Tom DeLay's ability to survive "the volume of the revelations" about his ethics problems, with one consultant reportedly calling the situation "negatively fluid."

The Washington Post reports on the widespread implementation of a "polished strategy" to challenge the teaching of evolution by an appeal to academic freedom -- and its origins in a conservative think tank called the Discovery Institute.

The Harvard Crimson covers the story of a Nicaraguan historian who cancelled plans to teach at the university after being denied a visa because of her alleged role in "terrorist activity" -- supporting the overthrow of Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza.

A new poll finds that the more people hear about President Bush's vision for Social Security, they less they like it.

March 11-13

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

As campaign cash trumps family values, The Hill discovers at least 40 members of the House carrying $10,000 or more in credit card or charge card debt.

'The $600 Billion Man' Paul Krugman on how Sen. Joseph Lieberman stood alone among Democrats in trying to have it both ways on the bankruptcy bill, and "gave the administration cover by endorsing its fake numbers" on Social Security.

"Democracy Now!" interviews Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Laurie Garrett, who left Newsday with a memo slamming leaders of its parent company for mirroring "a general trend in the media world: They serve their stockholders first, Wall St. second and somewhere far down the list comes service to newspaper readerships." Plus: 'The Top Down Media.'

PR Watch's John Stauber tells "Democracy Now!" that "In the more than ten years that I have been investigating and reporting on the widespread use of public relations as news, there's never, ever been a story like this."

Stauber also says the Radio, TV, and News Director's Assn. "has for decades now turned a blind eye to this, and it clearly violates their ethics code," but "There's so much money to be made or saved ... that this will continue to be a widespread problem unless there's a mobilization of outraged news viewers..."

As the Bush administration rejects a GAO ruling that its PR videos "violate provisions in annual appropriations laws that ban covert propaganda," a State Department spokesman says: "I wouldn't describe it as propaganda. It's, you know, video clips that are put together and people can use to report on things." Plus: a call and response at This Modern World.

David Corn recalls two of his "favorite instances" of Karen Hughes "going on a spin-bender," and What Would Dick Think? wonders: "How long before we'll see townhall meetings in the Middle East backed by green banners with white Arabic script reading 'Strengthening US-Muslim Friendship'?"

Reuters reports that during an Asian tour, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to "nudge India and Pakistan further down a year-old peace process" -- perhaps by selling F-16 fighter jets to both countries. Plus: Chalmers Johnson on 'Coming to terms with China.'

A massive demonstration in Beirut, at which "women with Louis Vuitton backpacks chanted anti-Syrian slogans next to college students in Che Guevara T-shirts," prompted a Lebanese businessman to say that "this will counterbalance last Tuesday, and now we can sit and talk."

Robert Fisk reports that President Bush will probably announce Wednesday that Syrian military intelligence officers were involved in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, whose two sons are said to have fled the country for safety.

As Baghdad car bombs kill five more, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers visits Camp Victory and says the U.S. is increasingly battling criminals, not insurgents in Iraq. Plus: putting in a word for 'Tariq Aziz, victim.'

The Los Angeles Times investigates an Iraq contract supervised by a U.S. general, and finds over $24 million missing, and a U.S. contractor dead -- eight days after he sent an e-mail warning of "serious legal issues that will land us all in jail."

A Halliburton spokeswoman explains the logic of charging the Pentagon $27.5 million "to ship $82,100 worth of cooking and heating fuel to Iraq."

U.S. military doctors are dealing with more cases of chest pain, back pain and hernias, says a Landstuhl cardiologist, because "We've never gone to war with guys as old as this before." Plus: Helen Thomas reports that women are "doing their share ... and taking their hits."

A woman handcuffed and arrested for carrying a "Stop the War!" sign outside a designated "free speech zone" at Auburn University was released by a Montgomery magistrate who cited her First Amendment rights. Plus: Ralph Nader on 'Restarting the Anti-War Movement.'

Opponents of industrial logging draw 'A Line in the Ancient Forest' as they try to save 30 square miles of old-growth trees in Oregon after "the largest Forest Service timber sale in modern history." Seventy-five year-old Joan Norman, one of 50 people arrested, said, "We have no laws protecting our forests so we will be the law." Plus: The woes of Kilimanjaro.

An opponent of same-sex marriage reportedly said that a California court ruling which found "no rational purpose" for restricting marriage to opposite-sex partners will "put rocket fuel" into a push to amend the U.S. Constitution.

After Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia denounced "politics on the court," citing the recent decision to strike down the death penalty for juveniles as evidence that "we have rendered the Constitution useless," TalkLeft makes the case for viewing Scalia as a judicial activist.

A "bestselling C.I.A. memoirist," discussing the growing number of spook-written tell-all books, is quoted as saying that "at the risk of 100 percent hypocrisy, I think it's a bad trend."

U.S. and Pakistani officials are said to have again admitted that Osama bin Laden's trail has grown cold, although they "almost caught him" 10 months ago.

U.S. officials reportedly used immigration laws to arrest 103 Mara Salvatrucha gang members, after the Justice Department had rejected claims that the group had ties to al-Qaeda, including a Texas Congressman's warning that "Middle Easterners have been sighted on the banks of the Rio Grande."

March 14

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

As a new EPA rule reportedly requires Wisconsin to scale back mercury controls, environmental groups say that western states can also expect to see a significant increase in mercury emissions. Plus: clearing the way for ANWR.

As a call goes out for "250,000 Americans to fight fake news & government propaganda," Sen. John Kerry asks the FCC to investigate the dissemination and airing of prepackaged news segments produced by government agencies. Earlier: '$226 Million in Govt Ads Helped Pave the Way for War.'

A New York Times editorial spanks "the nation's news organizations" for playing a "large and unappetizing role in deceiving the public," while the Washington Post editorializes that "it's disingenuous for administration officials to blame the stations, given that many releases are crafted precisely to disguise their government origin."

Keith Olbermann writes of "a whole army of bloggers, radio hosts and TV people who have decided that any deviation from their political view is to be persecuted -- and the Olbermann Watch and Bozell jokers are foremost among them ... They want conformity and a deliberate, institutionalized, pro-Republican slant. Guess what? They're never going to get it."

Jay Rosen, who sees "A whole front in the Culture War" devoted to "disqualifying the traditional press," asks: "How did things get to this point?"

In response to Joshua Green's Atlantic Monthly article criticizing Air America, James Wolcott writes that "when rightwingers talk garbage and go over the top, they're called 'entertainers,' 'showmen,' 'deliberately outrageous.' Only liberal broadcasters are expected to bear the lamp of truth and foreswear the 'anger-laced polemic' that offends Green's tender buds."

A new poll finds that a majority of Americans still think the Iraq war was not worth fighting, and while a majority now "say they believe the Iraqis are better off" for it, 70 percent say the price in U.S. casualties was too high.

An explosive atmosphere surrounds the opening session of Iraq's newly elected parliament, as U.S. troops reportedly kill an Iraqi general in another checkpoint shooting.

As more nations "scramble to get out" of Iraq, President Bush denies that the "coalition of the willing" is crumbling.

Although U.S. bombing of Iraq has "decreased substantially" since last November, "the bombs are still falling" reports the Village Voice's Jarrett Murphy, and for "cash-constrained news operations covering the massive story of the Iraq war, air combat is admittedly a tiny piece of the picture."

A New York Times investigation finds that at least 26 prisoners have died in confirmed or suspected cases of criminal homicide while in U.S. custody in Afghanistan and Iraq -- more than four times the number cited in the Church report.

Robert Kuttner offers five reasons why Democrats are 'Asleep at the Wheel,' when they "should be eating Bush's lunch" instead of voting with him and leaving the impression that they "don't know what they stand for." Plus: The New Yorker on 'The Unbranding' as Democrats try to "look tough."

As Senate Democrats threaten to withhold the unanimous consent required for virtually all business if Republicans invoke the "nuclear option" to confirm President Bush's nominees to the federal bench, Sen. Robert Byrd invokes the Ides of March.

Paul Craig Roberts examines the effects of outsourcing on 'America's Has-Been Economy,' while the author of 'Help Tech -- Jail the Poor' finds a "solution" through leveraging the bankruptcy bill and outsourcing "quality assurance" to people in domestic debtor's prisons.

Legal observers tell the Los Angeles Times that the federal conviction of former WorldCom chief Bernard Ebbers in an $11-billion accounting fraud scheme is bad news for other "toppled executives" who were counting on using a "know nothing" defense.

'New Democrats' Pat Buchanan writes that "with his enthusiasm for mass demonstrations, free elections, and majority rule, President Bush has unleashed a whirlwind from which Hamas and Hezbollah may be the beneficiaries." Plus: Bush settles on a "compassionate" and "decent" pick to head the World Bank.

Juan Cole argues that if the Bush Administration wanted to "genuinely push for ... peaceful democratization" in the Middle East, instead of merely "taking credit," unsupported by evidence, for "spreading freedom," it could do so "by simply showing some gumption and stepping in to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute."

As the U.S. announces a policy to "contain" Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who 'Casts Himself as the Anti-Bush,' Slate's Fred Kaplan handicaps Karen Hughes' chances of successfully selling "Brand USA."

Electronic devices like Chinese cellphones and castoff VCRs are 'Penetrating North Korea's Isolation,' reports the New York Times, with smuggled soap operas so popular that state television is said to be "campaigning against South Korean hairstyles, clothing and slang." Plus: 'The real digital divide.'

As prosecutors announce plans to charge Brian Nichols with four murders, the Atlanta shooting suspect gets a new lawyer from "death camp."

On the anniversary of Rachel Corrie's death, Kathleen Beckett writes that 'we still haven't learned the lesson' from the activist's heroism. Corrie's father and sister, who are suing both the Israeli government and Caterpillar, Inc., were interviewed on "Democracy Now!"

March 15

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Three Democratic senators voted with Republicans to give President Bush a 51-49 victory on ANWR, a vote seen as "the opening wedge in a broader campaign." "I'm trying to smile again," rejoiced Alaska's Senator Ted Stevens, wearing an Incredible Hulk tie. Joel Connelly salutes those about to get drilled.

A Democratic effort to save Amtrak's federal subsidy loses steam in the Senate, after a prominent GOP supporter changes tracks.

Swift Dispatch Sinclair Broadcasting's new Washington bureau chief was reportedly greeted with "loud booing" when he interrupted an ANWR-related press conference to ask Sen. John Kerry about "some amazing accusations regarding your military career," by Jerome R. Corsi, co-author with John O'Neill of "Unfit for Command." Earlier: 'The Puppetmasters'

At a wide-ranging news conference, an "ebullient" President Bush defended government videos disguised as news reports, and discussed Hezbollah's participation in Lebanon's elections, joking that "Maybe some will run for office and say, vote for me, I look forward to blowing up America." Plus: "DC gaggle ... laughs along with a joke told at its expense."

Bush proposes longest-term fix for Social Security while saying "I have not laid out a plan yet, intentionally."

Former NPRer Bob Edwards speaks of "a sort of corporate control of information" practiced by the Bush administration, "as if the details of meetings and policy formation are trade secrets never to be known ... even to the stockholders."

Claim: "Foreign investors don't want to trust their money to a country governed by propagandists."

Wolfowitz for Wolfensohn at the World Bank, while pleasing to Israel, is seen elsewhere as proof that "the U.S. couldn't care less what the rest of the world think." A Financial Times article notes that "several years ago the bank resumed lending to Iran ... overriding the objections of the U.S."

"You screw up a war, you get to run the World Bank," writes The Nation's David Corn, noting that Wolfowitz is following in Robert McNamara's footsteps, while Jude Wanniski says "Follow the money" and War in Context's Paul Woodward sees neither a triumph nor a purge of neocons, but a scattering.

As the AP reports that "at least 108 people have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of them violently," an Arab diplomat tells the Washington Post that the CIA's practice of obtaining "verbal assurance" that prisoners sent to other countries won't be tortured is "really more like 'Don't ask, don't tell.'"

A Pentagon spokesperson calls an Iraqi police captain's claim that U.S. forces killed an Iraqi general at an al-Anbar province checkpoint "categorically untrue," and a trucker tells the Christian Science Monitor that all roads lead to terror for anyone trying to leave Baghdad.

Public patience is said to be wearing thin as Iraq's post-Saddam parliament meets in the Green Zone, with interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi still in charge and Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani conceding during a "bright moment" that "You can't say an oath when you don't know what you are saying."

In Jakarta's parliament, the Speaker of the House apologized after Indonesian MPs, angry over rising fuel prices, tried to beat him with his own gavel.

Chilling effect. A Reuters report bids "Welcome to sexual abstinence-only education in 2005," while a 9th grader sits down on the pledge, and during a week of campus resistance it's Billmon to the barricades with 'Scenes From the Cultural Revolution.'

The Christian Science Monitor reports on last month's "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference held at Florida's Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, where "Taking back" was "a major theme -- taking back the schools, the media, the courts." More on the Rev. Dr. D. James Kennedy's 'Christian Crusade.'

Breaking News Letter to Romemesko begins: "Any lingering doubt that the national cable news channels have lost their collective minds should have been dispelled on the afternoon of March 16." Plus: 'Only on Fox' and "This ... is CNN?"

March 16

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Senate Budget Committee Chairman wonders how his fellow Republicans "get up in the morning and look in the mirror" after they voted in favor of "erasing Bush's plans for cutting Medicaid, community development and school aid," while Sen. Pete Dominici said, "We didn't know what we were doing" when the Senate approved far more in tax cuts than President Bush or the leadership had proposed.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, done with the 'progress and perils' of Iraq, won't be observing the second anniversary of the invasion in Baghdad, where the 'jury's still out' on Iraq's future.

Norman Solomon argues that it's time to listen to 'The loud, clear voice of Iraq war's wounded vets.'

'They met, but they did not agree to meet again' The Iraqi newspaper editor who wrote that headline tells USA Today that he feels "sorry for those who risked their lives to vote for this farcical assembly."

Big Oil Smackdown Greg Palast reports for the BBC's "Newsnight" that former Shell Oil CEO Philip Carroll may have foiled a neocon scheme to privatize Iraq's oil fields during his time in Baghdad.

Dilip Hiro provides the historical context for 'Playing the Democracy Card' in the Middle East, and Time's Tony Karon says that the U.S. should 'Beware the results of Arab democracy.'

Michel Lind writes that critics are wrong about World Bank nominee Paul Wolfowitz, a "friendly, soft-spoken, well meaning and thoughtful" man who "would be the model of a scholar and a statesman but for one fact." Plus: 'The Ugly American Bank.'

As the U.S. military considers long-term bases in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Rice, in what was described as "a seven-hour, on-message visit" there, during which she made "little if any acknowledgment" of the country's problems, announced the third postponement of parliamentary elections.

Nostalgia for the Taliban is reported to be springing up in Afghanistan, along with enough poppies to account for 87% of world opium production.

"Does the phrase 'Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound' have any meaning here?" asks Will Durst, who offers Karen Hughes a little help in her extreme makeover of the U.S. image abroad.

'Where's the outrage on torture?' asks conservative Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, who wrote in January that if "abuse of prisoners in military custody" was "happening on a Democratic president's watch, the criticism from Republicans and conservatives would be deafening."

CIA chief Porter Goss told the Senate Armed Services Committee that torture is "not professional interrogation. We don't do torture."

In 'The Age of Missing Information,' The Federation of American Scientists' Steven Aftergood offers up a "selection of categories of data that have been withdrawn from public access in the Bush years." Earlier: 'One man against secrecy.'

With Ken Lay having "crawled out of Houston's shadows for a media curtain call," and a new book and documentary on Enron being released, Frank Rich revisits the 'Patron Saint of Bush's Fake News.'

'Forked-Tongue' The head of ethics watchdog CREW, which last week released a report on members of Congress who accepted at least $10,000 from porn purveyors, suggests establishing an award highlighting the hypocrisy of the "skin caucus." Plus: 'GQ inks major spread on gay Republicans.'

Salon's Mark Follman writes that in embracing hostage hero Ashley Smith, religious conservatives "seized the moment not only to talk about loving their enemy but furthering their cause, be it spiritual or political."

CNN, which can't stop talking about Smith, pre-empted "NewsNight" for two nights running to air segments on her and on "The Purpose-Driven Life," which is being driven up the charts. Plus: "Mr. Ratzman's 'purpose.'"

The timing of the Vatican's denunciation of a work of fiction as a "pack of lies" reportedly "had a few people scratching their heads."

Following the Energy Department's revelation that a Geological Survey employee may have "fabricated documentation of his work" on the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste repository, a reporter, interviewed about his article, put the facility's opening at "sometime between 2017 and never." Plus: Yucca rail line irks 'Art's last, lonely cowboy.'

Somali lawmakers reportedly "threw heavy chairs ... and beat each other with sticks" during a parliamentary session.

Sen. Jim Bunning, a Hall of Fame pitcher, told a hearing that records of steroid-users should be wiped from the books because "they don't deserve them." Bunning was re-elected after being accused of cheating by an opponent whom he said looked like "one of Saddam Hussein's sons," and claiming that al-Qaeda was "out to get him" and "there may be strangers among us."

'This Is Your Congress on Steroids' Slate's Josh Levin writes that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa sat "three feet apart for more than three hours" without bashing forearms or even "acknowledging each other's existence."

After a San Diego business man failed to tempt Terri Schiavo's husband with a $1 million bribe, former Green Beret commander James "Bo" Gritz of the Fellowship of Eternal Warriors tried to arrest Mr. Schiavo and the judge who ordered her feeding tube removed.

George Kennan, described as "an unabashed elitist who distrusted democratic processes," is dead at 101. Kennan, the architect of Cold War containment strategy, became an arms control advocate and spelled out his "pipe dream" that the U.S. should be broken up into a dozen "constituent republics."

March 17

Monday, March 21, 2005

As 'Year Three Begins,' at least 45 people died in Iraq violence and U.S. troops and insurgents fought a pitched battle at high noon on the outskirts of Baghdad, as antiwar demonstrations were held around the world.

Two years after the invasion of Iraq, Americans are no safer and "the terrorism problem" is worse, experts tell the San Francisco Chronicle, and Paul Craig Roberts says that "it is America that has undergone regime change."

The impact of the Iraq war is now being felt across the Middle East, writes 'The Independent's Robert Fisk, as "the smaller Arab nations of the Gulf await the next assault" after a suicide bombing in Qatar.

The WSWS hears "a growing drumbeat ... to exonerate the Bush administration for launching an unprovoked war ... and credit American militarism with advancing democracy." Plus: "If thousands marched in New York, why did the Times highlight the 350 in Times Square?"

A Guardian commentary says that "we have entered a world where reality is just a minor blockage in a flood of official, upbeat declarations and statements." Plus: 'The intelligence made me do it.'

The Guardian also visits Afghanistan and finds 'One Huge U.S. Jail' with a "floating population" of more than 10,000 "ghost detainees."

An Australian lawyer who represented a Guantanamo Bay detainee says that 500 hours of videotape from Gitmo would, if released, be "as explosive as anything from Abu Ghraib."

With an average of 18 U.S. soldiers a week being killed in Year Two, almost double the Year One rate, King of Zembla notes that the Pentagon has scaled back the Three Laws of Robotics, while research into 'weapons of excruciating pain' reportedly has ethicists up in arms.

'Female GIs hard hit by war syndrome' The Chicago Tribune cites a VA study's finding that women in the military are twice as likely as men to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. A popular children's book among military families: "Why Is Mommy Like She Is? A Book for Kids About PTSD."

Making the Sunday talk show rounds, Defense chief Rumsfeld blamed Turkey for the scope of Iraq's insurgency, citing its refusal to allow U.S. forces to invade from the north, and warned Iraqis to be "darned careful" in forming a new government because the U.S. has got "too much invested and too much committed and too many lives at stake."

President Bush interrupts a vacation after the Washington Post reports that "an unsigned one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators," said the debate over Terri Schiavo would "appeal to the party's base." Plus: The Los Angeles Times on 'The Midnight Coup.'

Gadflyer's Paul Waldman says that a new poll by ABC News shows that Republicans "can't even get a majority of evangelicals on board with this thing."

Mike Farrell examines how the president who rushed back to Washington because "the issue had become one of 'defending life'" has been 'fighting to save capital punishment.' Plus: 'The man has his priorities.'

"We need a list," says Barbara O'Brien, "of politicians and commentators, including bloggers, who have been calling for cuts in Medicaid but who now have joined in the 'save Terri Schiavo' cult."

No More Mr. Nice Blog says that the Democrats have "thrown up their hands" on the Schiavo matter, while Alexander Cockburn describes the etiquette of 'Three Card Monte and the One-Party State,' as Democrats provide key votes to help the GOP "drive through the corporate agenda on tort reform and bankruptcy and on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve."

Barbara Bush enlisted to tout Social Security idea that her husband once called "dumb." Plus: whatever happened to real Republicans?

Newsweek reports on the terror warning Vice President Cheney ignored -- in 1976, when he was White House Chief of Staff.

March 18-20

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

With Iraq's parliament preparing to elect a speaker, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani voiced displeasure over the delay in forming a new government, and a roadside bomb killed four women and three children, as attacks on progressive women increase.

As a 'Record Number of Female Soldiers Fall' in Iraq, fueling debate over women's role in combat, Women's eNews quotes former Rep. Pat Schroeder as saying that the old rules "no longer make sense" in Iraq because "the whole place is literally a front line."

Citing "an unusually tough recruiting season," and the opinion of one analyst that "warfare has become more suitable for middle-age troops," USA Today reports that the Army has raised the enlistment age for the National Guard and the Army Reserve to 39. Plus: 'Pull Out All Stops.'

Iraqi insurgents are said to be recycling rusty munitions left over from the Iraq-Iran conflict, "more than enough to guarantee insurgents a steady supply for the foreseeable future" in a nation said to be 'Shocked and awed into freedom.'

"If we had a better press we might not have had this war at all," writes Danny Schechter, who argues that the U.S. media is 'Miscovering Anti-War Protest (Again),' despite "more anti-war actions in more cities than ever."

'The Things They Carried' Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell finds "very revealing, if buried, comments by some of the unnamed respondents" to American University's survey of journalists covering Iraq.

Reuters reports that according to a recent survey, U.S. businesses now see the federal budget deficit as a greater threat than terrorism.

'Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolfowitz?' Jason Vest reviews the resume of the World Bank nominee who "bungled Iraq, the Pentagon, and East Timor," and quotes a senior military officer as saying that "It wouldn't surprise me if he sets up his own little Office of Special Plans over there at the Bank."

Jim Lobe finds the Pentagon's 'Globocop Role' reaffirmed in the "National Defense Strategy of the United States of America," which makes no mention of NATO or the U.N. and warns against "those who employ a strategy of the weak using international fora, judicial processes, and terrorism."

A "central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal" is said to have become an important source of information for hard-liners who "want evidence that Iran is up to no good."

Sen. Carl Levin says that the unredacted version of an FBI memo confirms his suspicion that "the previously withheld information had nothing to do with protecting intelligence sources and methods, and everything to do with protecting the DOD from embarrassment."

Noting a Wall Street Journal report that "Republicans and Democrats alike" privately question the Karen Hughes appointment at State, David Sarasohn writes that "for Hughes' skills to really apply, the Syrians would have to run in the New Hampshire primary." Or if not the Syrians, Condoleezza Rice, says Helen Thomas.

As Vice President Cheney's push for privatization comes to shove, Sen. Jon Corzine, who said Cheney had "a virtual career of disdain for Social Security," also reportedly "compared Cheney's appearances to sending Saddam Hussein to campaign for democracy in Iraq."

"I thought I'd seen everything," writes Justin Raimondo, but a Washington Post article about a fake document accusing William Arkin of serving as a spy for Saddam, "had even me gasping with incredulity."

Arkin came under fire from right-wing radio talker Hugh Hewitt, after launching "the assault" on Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin.

The Washington Post reports that top officials at the Environmental Protection Agency ignored the findings of a peer-reviewed study funded by the EPA that supported stricter limits on mercury emissions.

The shooter in Monday's bloodbath on a Minnesota Ojibwa reservation, the deadliest school shooting incident since Columbine, and "the latest multiple shooting in a month of deadly gun violence," reportedly left messages on Neo-Nazi Web sites.

As the White House criticizes a feeding tube ruling by a federal judge, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is accused of "practicing medicine without a brain," while Marie Cocco diagnoses Washington's Palm Sunday descent into madness.

"The hottest item in South Dakota" is said to be a candle that allows buyers to smell Jesus for $18.

March 21

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The AP reports that a Pentagon document states as a fact that a Guantanamo Bay detainee "assisted in the escape of Osama bin Laden from Tora Bora," undermining assertions made last fall by Gen. Tommy Franks in an op-ed and repeated by President Bush and Vice President Cheney on the campaign trail.

Give and Take As Israel confirms a plan to add 3,500 housing units to its largest settlement, three miles from Jerusalem, a Jordan Times commentary says that in pledging to dismantle 24 outposts, "Israel 'gave' on the outposts with the left hand but 'took' all of East Jerusalem with the right hand."

Strict new residency rules, part of a crackdown on foreign Arabs, are said to be especially alarming to the 30,000 Palestinians living in Iraq, most of whom reportedly would have "nowhere to go" if expelled.

An Iraqi spokesperson emphasized the number of Arab dead among the 85 fighters reportedly killed in a raid on a "suspected guerilla training camp." Plus: Headline vs. the 22nd paragraph.

Baghdad Burning's Riverbend recalls being stuck in a stairwell with "bombs falling loud and fast" two years ago this week, "when the fear was still fresh -- and the terror was relatively new."

The London Times reports that dozens of armed men, said to be followers of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, invading an "immoral" picnic in Basra, beat two students to death for playing music, because "we are authorized by Allah to do so and that is our duty."

"President George W. Bush and Republican congressional leaders like Tom Delay have taken us one step closer to theocracy on the Muslim Brotherhood model," says Juan Cole, adding that "like many of his fundamentalist counterparts in the Middle East, Tom Delay is rather cynically using this issue to divert attention from his own corruption."

'Pull the Plug On Pandering' Molly Ivins reminds that the House Majority Leader's response "upon being chastised three times by the House Ethics Committee ... was to change the rules and stack the committee." Plus: Frist flopping and then some.

A "process conservative" tells the New York Times that Congressional intervention in the Schiavo case was a "violation of federalism," while President Reagan's solicitor general argues that 'Federalism Has a Right to Life, Too.'

Bioethicist Arthur Caplan decries what he sees as "the growing influence of right wing conservative foundation[s]" on bioethics, and reprints a finding that "many of the attorneys, activists and organizations working to keep Schiavo on life support all these years have been funded by members of the Philanthropy Roundtable."

A Saudi lecturer in linguistics, accused of "mocking long beards" and sentenced to over 200 lashes and four months in prison, reportedly escaped the punishment when the ruling was quashed from above.

With the major private oil companies "failing to discover promising new sources of petroleum just as demand for their products soars," Michael Klare surveys 'The Energy Crunch to Come,' which "cannot be wished away, nor can it be erased through drilling" in ANWR. Earlier: creator of Gaia hypothesis calls nuclear power 'the only green solution.'

An "unusual coalition," said to include a "number of folks ... wearing elephant lapel pins," urges Congress and the president to scale back the Patriot Act.

The Hill reports that Democratic lawmakers called a meeting with John Podesta of the Center for American Progress a "success" after voicing objections to charges by CAP fellow David Sirota that some House Democrats were supporting bankruptcy-reform legislation because they received political contributions from banks and credit card companies.

Closing the Sale eBay has removed from its site the auction of the U.S. Social Security System, "conducted" by Billionaires for Bush.

On the Media does fake news, including an interview with the head of the Radio and Television News Directors Assn., who says, "I don't think we really know how prevalent" the practice of TV stations doctoring government VNRs is. In an attempt to find out, Free Press is 'Calling All Propaganda Busters.'

While 99 percent of the clients who pay for a VNR "want it to highlight the great work being done," writes Jay Rosen, "in Bushland there is, we're told, none of that stuff ... Just the facts, Uncle Sam." Plus: 'Dan Rather gone, but White House isn't sated yet.'

'Red Lake to white media: stay out' The Blotter reports that "journalists who expected to cover the Red Lake High School shootings on a mayhem-as-usual basis got something of a surprise."

The U.S. wants Japan to hand over Bobby Fischer, who was just granted citizenship by Iceland's parliament, the Althingi.

March 22

Thursday, March 24, 2005

AFP reports that 'Insurgents control raided Iraq camp,' finding 30 to 40 fighters who say they never left the site where Iraqi officials claimed that Iraqi commandos and U.S. air support exacted the highest "guerilla death toll" since Fallujah.

Two Italian policemen were reportedly blocked by the U.S. military from examining the car in which Italian secret service agent Nicola Calipari was shot to death as he accompanied journalist Giuliana Sgrena to the Baghdad airport. Plus: 'Checkpoint Killings Unchecked.'

"With ethnic and sectarian tensions coursing through Iraqi politics and seeping into the streets," Knight Ridder's Hannah Allam reports on the 'Latest casualties in Iraq.'

The U.S. Army reportedly plans to address its recruiting shortfall with "a revised sales pitch appealing to the patriotism of parents." Democracy Rising's Kevin Zeese writes that counter-recruitment efforts are gearing up, too.

'Pentagon to Reuters: what torture? where?' After refusing to reopen an investigation into claims that soldiers abused three Iraqi Reuters employees, whom it never interviewed, a Pentagon spokesman recommends embedding.

John Gorenfeld writes that President Bush's Ambassador to Italy ran 'His Own Private Abu Ghraib' at a teen drug rehab program, and interviews a survivor, "calm for now under the spell of Xanax."

The U.S. Supreme Court takes a pass on the Terri Schiavo case, as 'a confederacy of shamans' conducts "rites of necrophiliac spiritualism" and Maureen Dowd examines the personal stakes driving the strategy of 'DeLay, Deny and Demagogue.'

A CBS poll found that "68 percent of white evangelicals think that Congress and the President should stay out of the Schiavo case." The poll also found a drop from last month in President Bush's approval rating, from 49 percent to 43 percent.

The Village Voice looks at how 'World Media Views Schiavo Vigil,' while 'Terri's new guardian' runs a 'Full Court Press' and Pat Buchanan is said to urge the White House to send the troops in.

The American Prospect's Garance Franke-Ruta sees the Republican fight against the courts on Terri Schiavo as "a perfect set-up for the Republicans' next major congressional initiative: packing the courts with President Bush's conservative judicial nominees."

Arguing that 'Cynical games can mean big losses,' Newsday columnist Sheryl McCarthy recalls another instance of "the shameless insinuation of politics into a family's most private affairs," only "that time Republicans were shouting the directions, while Democrats were driving the car."

Hundreds of media outlets go for 'broke' on the annual report of the Social Security Trustees, but "Social Security cannot go broke!" exclaims CJR Daily: "It can run out of savings (that trust fund), but for as long as it exists in anything remotely like its current form, it will have an income (from payroll taxes) of many millions of dollars per day."

Two independent trustees break ranks, arguing that "Medicare's financial outlook has deteriorated dramatically over the past five years and is now much worse that Social Security's," but "Senator Bullroar ... won't stop his public lying about the Social Security program."

Media Matters notes a pattern of failure to correct the senator's "bogus claims."

Left in the West argues that "if Democrats don't want to be attacked for taking money from credit card companies and then voting for their corporate interests," there is a solution.

An opponent of an "Academic Freedom Bill of Rights," under consideration in the Florida House, which "would give students who think their beliefs are not being respected legal standing to sue professors and universities," says passage would mean that "suits could be filed by students who don't believe astronauts landed on the moon."

"We'd like to take Brent Bozell's Media Research Center seriously," writes Brian Montopoli. "But because MRC is so insistent on pushing its overreaching and not-so-hidden ideological agenda, reasonable people have a hard time taking it seriously, even when the organization has a legitimate point to make."

Seoul Pursuit A reporter finds it "surprisingly difficult" to meet any of the 6,300 North Korean defectors said to be residing in South Korea, and North Korea's footballers play for the country's first World Cup spot since 1966 and 'The Game of Their Lives.'

Slate's Jody Rosen profiles 50 Cent, "a pioneer of the hip-hop beef as postmodern marketing strategy," shrewdly exploiting "the dirty little secret of rap fans," who are "more gossip-obsessed than Cindy Adams and a roomful of her girlfriends." Plus: '40, but Sporting a $38 Million Figure.'

March 23

Friday, March 25, 2005

The New Standard reviews accounts of a raid on a rebel camp in Iraq and finds them filled with praise for a "successful" assault, lacking in visual evidence, and 'rife with discrepancies.'

A suicide bomber killed 11 Iraqi policemen, five U.S.-employed female translators were gunned down and a friendly fire shootout between Iraqi police and Iraqi soldiers in civilian clothes left five dead, on a day that also saw a "no to terror" protest march in Baghdad.

Scripps Howard reports on the 'Phony Iraq warriors beginning to surface,' including a Navy SEAL imposter exposed by VeriSEAL, which says it is now investigating "hundreds of millions of dollars ... being paid to Special Operations impostors and the 'security' companies that employ them."

A popular twice-daily Iraqi TV show, "Terror in the Hands of Justice," presents men identifying themselves as captured Islamic insurgents "confessing" that they held gay orgies in mosques. A spokesman for Iraq's Interior Ministry says that "if this were not an emergency situation, we would not have run this."

A Pakistani commander tells the Christian Science Monitor that Osama bin Laden and his security entourage travel in cross dressing caravans to escape detection.

The Pentagon requests $257 million to help Afghan forces combat bumper poppy harvests, said by Defense sources to "far exceed even the most alarming predictions," with opium production now "beyond most people's worst nightmares."

"Gunner Palace" The Santa Cruz Sentinel's film critic says a "scruffy documentary" wouldn't feel so "fresh and immediate" if "the media weren't programming the Iraq War like a sweeps-week spectacle to government specs."

Tom Engelhardt runs "a thought experiment" to show how the "lethal cocktail" of "imperial impunity and national goodness" narrows the boundaries of discussion in the mainstream media about the U.S. "mission" in the 'One-Way Planet' of the Bush years.

Nathaniel Frank deconstructs a 'Bush Team Theme' -- "It turns out we were all wrong" -- and the "deeply troubling" logic underlying it: "if you simply believe in what you're doing, that's enough to make it right." Plus: 'Paranoia in high places.'

Billmon's apologia recounts his confrontation with "the fact that truth alone is impotent in the face of modern propaganda techniques -- as developed, field tested, refined and deployed by Madison Avenue, the Pentagon, the think tanks, the marketing departments of major corporations, the communications departments of major research universities, etc."

Trickle Down An Indianapolis police robot reportedly fired a water cannon at a backpack full of clothes belonging to a disgruntled bank customer because "In today's world you can never be too careful."

After Native Americans criticized President Bush for his silence on the Red Lake school shootings, including AIM's Clyde Bellecourt, who complained that "the so-called Great White Father in Washington hasn't said or done a thing," Bush offered his condolences. His 2006 budget calls for cutting $100 million from Indian programs.

'Team Schiavo's Deep Pockets' Bill Berkowitz follows the money behind the legal and public relations campaign to prolong Terri Schiavo's life, a campaign that included enlisting Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry as the Schiavo family spokesman. Plus: 'Cables covered Operation Rescue protests without noting group's controversial past.'

The GOP's stance on the Schiavo case is called "the perfect set-up" for "packing the courts with President Bush's conservative judicial nominees," although apparently no judge appointed by Presidents Reagan, Bush or Bush is known to have voted to "grant relief."

A Florida man caught running his own rescue operation told police he tried to steal a gun so he could "take some action and rescue Terri Schiavo."

"While the press and the public are distracted by one sensational news story after another," writes Bob Herbert, "the president and his party have continued their extraordinary campaign to undermine the programs that were designed to fend off destitution and provide a reasonable foundation of economic security for those not blessed with great wealth."

'Shame On John McCain,' editorializes the St. Petersburg Times, for "resorting to the kind of questionable tactics that once had been used against him" and knowingly dispensing misinformation on Social Security. Not only is the future of the program at stake, says the paper, "but so is McCain's reputation." Plus: 'Broken Discourse!'

Casting Call A "movement ... burbling just below the surface" is said to have reached critical mass, as the GOP ponders the matter of succession. Plus: blasted "by both the local press and his hand-picked audiences."

A Slate contributor unfolds the fine print giving notice of 'Important Changes to Your Citizenship Agreement.'

Historian Jo Guldi analyzes outraged response to a re-staging of DaVinci's "Last Supper" by a Parisian "denim purveyor" during 'Holy Week in France.'

March 24

Monday, March 28, 2005

Quoting a former CPA adviser who says the Bush administration has turned the Iraq occupation into a "free-fraud zone" by failing to join a whistleblower suit against Custer Battles, Newsweek reports that the administration argues that the CPA "was a multinational institution, not an arm of the U.S. government. So the U.S. government was not technically defrauded."

As Bob Herbert asks, 'Is No One Accountable?,' the ACLU charges the U.S. government with "attempting to bury the torture scandal involving the U.S. military," complaining that documents the government is under court order to release to it "are being issued in advance to the media in ways calculated to minimize coverage and public access."

It refers to documents released "late on a Friday of what for many is a holiday weekend," and says that "Select reporters received a CD-ROM with the documents before they were given to the ACLU." Saturday reports included, 'U.S. Troops Tortured Iraqis in Mosul,' '27 Iraqis, Afghans killed in U.S. custody,' and the 'Pentagon Will Not Try 17 G.I.'s Implicated in Prisoners' Deaths.'

Another report released on Friday, by the Homeland Security Department's acting inspector general, said the Transportation Security Administration agency "misled the public about its role in obtaining personal information about 12 million airline passengers to test a new computerized system that screens for terrorists," reports the AP.

"The Pentagon's reasons for denying the media access to the caskets returning to Dover AFB are widely reported and legally contested," says Cox News Service. "What isn't so well known is that the Pentagon refuses to allow the families of dead soldiers access to the caskets," a policy "created in 1991 by then-secretary of Defense Dick Cheney." Plus: 'Entries for a Devil's Dictionary of the Bush Era.'

'Hard Toll From a Hard Sell' The New York Times interviews Army recruiters about the stress they're under to "make mission," which for this year is more than 100,000 new active-duty Army and Reserve soldiers. Earlier: 'No Troops, No Wars,' and 'Declining to enlist, kids vote with their feet.'

In an interview with Air America's "Ring of Fire," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Bill Hendrick talks about his 'Targeting Teens for Troops' article, and refers to a group that his paper wrote about called Young Marines, for kids eight years old and up.

Diana B. Henriques, who won a 2004 Polk Award for her series about soldiers being scammed by insurance and investment firms, reports on how some creditors are making 'illegal demands' on soldiers, despite a law that "protects all active-duty military families from foreclosures, evictions and other financial consequences of military service." Read how one Iraq war vet went 'From Hero To Homeless.'

AFP reports that in interviews with CNN, U.S. military commanders said that in Iraq, "the percentage of foreign fighters over the past several months seems to have increased" and that insurgents "are able to maintain the level of violence between 50 and 60 attacks a day." Plus: As many as 5,000 Iraqis reportedly kidnapped in the last 18 months.

Large corporations have already reaped the legislative benefits of President Bush's re-election victory and Republican gains in Congress, reports the Washington Post, quoting a GOP lobbyist who says that while lower-profile than war or Social Security, issues such as bankruptcy legislation "have huge economic consequences. And there is more to come on that score."

The Post also spots a "trend" that "has opened a new front in the nation's battle over reproductive rights ... Some pharmacists across the country are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and morning-after pills, saying that dispensing the medications violates their personal moral or religious beliefs." And, Michigan legislation would 'Let Doctors Refuse To Treat Gays.'

Crooks and Liars captures the video of guest Christopher Hitchens telling Joe Scarborough that "You should be ashamed of the show you've been running" on Terry Schiavo, and Frank Rich traces 'The God Racket, From DeMille to DeLay.' Plus: A head-to-head comparison of the Carpenter & the Hammer.

Editor & Publisher reports that none of the hundreds of stories that mentioned or quoted 10-year-old Joshua Heldreth -- arrested for crossing police lines in an effort to take water to Shiavo -- or his father, Scott Heldreth, revealed that the father "is a registered sex offender in Florida -- until the Charlotte Observer mentioned it on Sunday."

Hullabaloo's Digby attempts to sort out World Bank president-designate Paul Wolfowitz's multiple accounts, and Helen Thomas says that Wolfowitz has been 'Wrong so often, he must be promotable.'

As some conservatives complain of liberal bias in a non-traditional media venue, a new media device reaps a mainstream publicity bonanza. Earlier: Web site spells out plan to starve the beast.

A Florida TV reporter sees no conflict of interest in the $100,000 he was paid for outside work by Florida state agencies, and TV news directors say they were surprised to learn that a free syndicated segment called "The Lazy Homeowner," which has run "on hundreds of local news programs throughout the country," involved paid product placement.

Hang Time The Wooster Collective publishes outakes of an interview between British artist/prankster Banksy and the New York Times, which ran a front-page article on how the self-described "quality vandal" surreptitiously placed his anti-war art in four major New York museums.

March 25 -27

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

As Iraq's new National Assembly "degenerated into farce and chaos," then went into secret session, before failing again to name a government, "televisions showing the proceedings abruptly switched to an Iraqi singer belting out 'My Homeland, My Homeland.'" Juan Cole has more on the 'parliament fiasco.'

Iraqi secularists reportedly try to organize a "Stop Jafaari!" campaign, while students in Basra, angry over an attack on a picnic by Shiite Muslim militiamen, are said to have mounted "the first mass response to religious power" in Iraq.

The New York Times reports that Sunni Sheik Harith al-Dari, leader of the Association of Muslim Scholars, "hinted that he would be content with a timetable for American withdrawal," while continuing "to view the armed resistance as legitimate."

Responding to rumors of a 'Rice-Wolfowitz Exit Plan,' Ralph Nader argues that "a corporate withdrawal is also needed," and Billmon hears a hollow ring in a reported U.S. threat to "withhold billions in promised reconstruction aid" as leverage "to control its Shia-dominated client state" in a new Iraq.

Former diplomat John Brown, who resigned in protest against the invasion of Iraq, explains how the Bush administration turned to "democratizing" as a rationale when it realized that "waging World War IV" wasn't selling.

Last week Jim Lobe reported that U.N. Ambassador-designate John Bolton 'Still Faces a Fight,' one that has now been joined by 59 former American diplomats who call Bolton "the wrong man for this position."

"If this is how Washington treats Italy ..." Jeremy Scahill follows up on Naomi Klein's "Democracy Now!" discussion of her interview with Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who said that the car she was in wasn't on the airport road and was fired on from behind.

A new poll reportedly finds that Australians now regard the U.S. as 'our new nightmare,' with American foreign policy frightening them as much as Islamic extremism.

The final report of the presidential commission studying U.S. intelligence failures, "particularly ridicules the conclusion that Mr. Hussein's fleet of 'unmanned aerial vehicles' ... posed a major threat," reports the New York Times, adding that "those assertions were repeated by Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other senior officials in the prelude to the war."

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts promised that after the election, his committee would investigate "how the Bush Administration used -- or abused -- the prewar intelligence to build support for the Iraq invasion," writes David Corn, but with the election over, Sen. Roberts is reneging on his promise.

'Degrees of Not Knowing' Reviewing recent books about Iraq that provide various accounts of "what the Coalition thinks it is doing," Rory Stewart argues that "critics are no better informed than members of the administration" -- and that even "Baghdad intellectuals don't understand the status of ... the most senior Shia clerics."

Stewart, who described his experience working in rural villages in post-war Iraq, was called "the perfect Kipling hero" after walking across Afghanistan in 2001. Plus: 'Forgetting Afghanistan - Again.'

Matt Taibbi calls the Democrats 'Bums' for their "shiny new 2008 position on Iraq and terror," through which they "abandon" social programs and "tell 53 percent of the country that they are mistaken, and throw their chips in with the other 47 percent." Pus: Congressional Democrats MIA?

Bankruptcy judges tell the Los Angeles Times that advocates of overhaul are "pulling the stuffing out of the very part of the bankruptcy law where debtors do pay," with one noting that Mark Twain, Buster Keaton and Walt Disney all filed bankruptcy.

Zero Percent Interest! "Where is the credit card industry?" asked Sen. Dick Durbin at a recent hearing on bankruptcy legislation: "Ten years you've been begging for this bill to preserve credit card debt through bankruptcy and yet you won't come up and testify?"

The Five Percent Solution New Medicare drug benefit applications are said to be "so complex" that "fewer than 5 percent" of the 20 million low-income people who get them may respond, with the form reportedly warning people that they "may be sent to prison" if they submit incorrect information.

The GOP could be losing its grip on Florida in the wake of polarizing efforts to "save" Terri Schiavo and Social Security, reports the Los Angeles Times, quoting a former party chairman as saying,"It may be that we tried to load the wagon with too many watermelons." Earlier: How low can he go?

After it was reported that the parents of Terry Schiavo had authorized the sale of a list of donors to the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation, broker Response Unlimited discontinued advertising the list, according to direct mail trade, DM News, with prospects redirected to a page touting usage for "High-Dollar Rush Limbaugh UGGS Footwear Buyers."

Crossing the Line Former U.S. senator and ambassador to the U.N., John Danforth, begins a New York Times op-ed with: "By a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians."

'Easter Charade' "Not content with telling us that we once used to share the earth with dinosaurs and that we should grimly instruct our children in this falsehood, religious fanatics," writes Christopher Hitchens, "now present their cult of death as if it were a joyous celebration of the only life we have." A neurologist joins Hitchens in confronting Joe Scarborough.

Paul Krugman sees the Terri Schiavo case as "a chance to highlight what's going on in America," and David Neiwert writes that "What is especially appalling about the media treatment ... is how ardently, and unmistakably, it has adopted the supposedly 'pro life' side of the argument."

CJR Daily previews 'The Coming Content Wars,' contrasting a "lazy" New York Times article dismissing FCC "issues that are far from settled," with "a well thought-out counterproposal" for 'Cleaning up TV' by media reform advocates, Robert McChesney and Ben Scott.

A mainstream media 'catfight breaks out' over the National Press Club's inclusion of James Guckert on a panel, with Wonkette, discussing bloggers and online journalism.

March 28

Thursday, March 31, 2005

"Snap out of it." The U.S. is reportedly "limiting its assistance to advice" to Iraq's deadlocked National Assembly -- where U.S. interests are said to be "effectively being represented by the Kurds."

Two suicide car bombers 'Kill 8,' gunman pick off pilgrims and children are said to be "starving" in the new Iraq, where the key to managing danger for Westerners is said to include removing glasses and leaving seat belts unbuckled.

A defense expert tells the Washington Post that a classified Army study detailing "design flaws, inoperable gear and maintenance problems" with the Stryker troop transport vehicle shows that "the Pentagon hasn't yet learned that using the battlefield as a testing ground costs lives."

The number of Iraq and Afghanistan vets diagnosed with mental disorders at VA hospitals is said to be steadily rising.

A memo signed by Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez and released to the ACLU, which the organization says "authorized interrogation techniques that were in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Army's own standards," is given short shrift by major U.S. media outlets. Plus: Sanchez a perjurer to boot?

Eric Umansky ponders possible explanations for a recent doubling in the number of prisoners held by the U.S. in Iraq.

Maureen Dowd calls it "laughable" that the presidential commission report on intelligence failures "offers its most scorching criticism of the C.I.A. when the C.I.A. was simply doing what the White House and Pentagon wanted."

The commission's report followed "a recipe for a whitewash," say Ralph Nader and Kevin Zeese, so that "President Bush will have escaped a challenging re-election without any serious discussion of the failure to find WMD. At this point Bush can once again proclaim 'Mission Accomplished.'"

Kifaya! The Christian Science Monitor examines the "new Arab rallying cry," amid signs that "a real democratic opening" in the Middle East "may not serve U.S. interests."

A doctor says that an autopsy on Terri Schiavo is unlikely to end the dispute, and David Corn writes that "I don't think we should forget how certain scoundrels crassly exploited this family conflict." CBS jumped the gun, posting a draft obit online. See who else is good to go.

Tom DeLay is hammered over his link to the Schiavo case in a new TV ad calling for Congress to wash its hands of the House Majority Leader. And criticism of DeLay is spun as "an attack on conservatism itself," as he 'Goes Off The Deep End.'

The neurologist who asked Joe Scarborough, "How could you possibly be so stupid?", tells the Star Tribune that "I out-Scarboroughed Scarborough. I attacked him before he attacked me." Plus: Sean Hannity has harsh word for Congressman whom he assails for having "wanted to talk about Medicare."

Carpetbagger notes that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani cleared $80,000 for speaking at a tsunami benefit, with a spokesperson reportedly "not even sure whether the benefit's total take had exceeded Mr. Giuliani's fee." Plus: Giuliani's successor lands the Number One spot.

"Election results be damned." In the Atlantic, Joshua Green explores the current fascination with "messaging" and "reframing" among Democrats, and finds more of them accepting the belief that all they really need is a "snazzy new sales pitch."

Kevin Drum sees "only two ways to significantly improve Social Security's finances: benefit cuts and tax increases," but "Bush is too gutless to propose either one, so he's desperately trying to sucker someone -- anyone -- into proposing them first." Bush is also said to be 'keeping cabinet secretaries close to home.'

Although one of three people forcibly removed from Bush's speech in Denver last week told the Rocky Mountain News that "they never intended to be disruptive," White House spokesman Scott McClellan claims that "those individuals, themselves, said that their intent of coming to the event originally was to disrupt it." (Scroll down for more.)

A reporter asked McClellan: "Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has made some extremely strong anti-American statements. Is there a concern that he could turn into the Saddam Hussein of Latin America and be a haven for al Qaeda in the months or years to come?"

"March 31 is a special day in seven states and dozens of cities," writes veteran labor reporter Dick Meister, but if Gov. Schwarzenegger has his way, it will no longer be officially special in California. Plus: 'A great American' and Viva Buchanan!

March 30

There are 453 link-paragraphs in this archive.