|January, 2003 link archive
Friday, January 31, 2003The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists says forget hawks and doves, the post–Cold War political struggle is between "dominators" and "conciliators." Plus: "Arming for Armageddon."
Tim Dunlop looks at the Bush administration's ever-shifting timetable for weapons inspections in Iraq.
U.S. keeps on pushin' aluminum tubes claim.
Josh Marshall interviews Iraq hawk Ken Pollack, who says that Hans Blix "handed the administration the smoking gun that they were unlikely to get in terms of the Iraqis actually blocking an inspection or we find a Scud or something along those lines." Plus: "Report charred."
Blix says the U.S. is misquoting his report.
Jimmy Breslin on war's bottom line.
VP Dick Cheney surfaces to address a Conservative Political Action Conference gathering, where attendees could purchase "No Muslims -- No Terrorism" bumper stickers. Earlier: A blogcentric brouhaha over Muslim bashing.
USA Today reports that the system of public financing for U.S. presidential campaigns is in dire financial straits. The money to support the fund comes from a $3-per-person checkoff on federal income tax returns. But only about 11% of taxpayers check the box, down from 28% two decades ago.
Parody campaign Web site skewers Sen. Joseph Lieberman: "A new kind of Democrat. The Republican kind."
Who's really behind U.S. anti-war protests?
"For all their numbers, the peace marchers have been a featherweight in the balance of war's choreographers," writes Pierre Tristam. "Congress, the White House and the media are spoiling for war in rituals of their own, because a preemptive war requires its preemptive rituals."
Bruce Kluger says that Fox News has capitalized "on the very real notion that Americans embrace acrimony over civility and conflict over resolution," which may explain why MSNBC is betting the farm on Jesse Ventura.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair afforded American superhero status.
British officials claim al-Qaeda had gained the expertise and possibly the materials to build a "dirty bomb."
The Guardian's Rory McCarthy reports from Pakistan's tribal hinterland, where several locals have been killed for giving information to the FBI and directing them to al-Qaeda supporters.
Thursday, January 30, 2003
U.S. intelligence officials tell the Los Angeles Times that they're puzzled by the Bush administration's renewed assertions of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda.
The New York Times calls most of the "largely dated and previously disclosed" evidence "ambiguous," and reports that "The question of an Iraqi connection with al-Qaeda has created tension between the White House and some senior intelligence officials" who are said to be "under intense pressure to find evidence."
One senior intelligence official tells the Washington Post that "The president showed very little leg" in his State of the Union address, "but there are those now who are wanting to push disclosure up to the thigh."
"Holy War Inc." author Peter Bergen says that President Bush's claim that Saddam "aids and protects" al-Qaeda is "somewhere between tenuous and non-existent."
David Corn says that President Bush's State of the Union address showed an eagerness for combat: "With war, relieve-the-rich tax cuts, Social Security privatization and Medicare reform, Bush has set up several mother-of-all-battles for himself."
Corn takes questions on the speech in a Washington Post online forum.
Civil liberties groups consider legal challenges to Bush proposals on the use of vouchers to fund religion-oriented drug rehab programs and the use of federal housing funds to pay for construction of buildings where worship is held.
Notes on the Atrocities does the numbers on President Bush's SOTU address. While zero percent of the speech was devoted to race and affirmative action, Saddam Hussein was mentioned 19 times.
Saddam rated a dozen mentions during a Grand Rapids, MI, speech that the president gave in front of a "Strengthening MediCare" backdrop: "The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein and his willingness to terrorize himself."
Is demonizing Saddam a tired strategy?
Read remarks by Sen. Robert Byrd, who introduced a resolution calling on President Bush to seek clear authorization from the U.N. before launching military action against Iraq. Plus: Breakfast with Byrd.
White House cancels poetry symposium over concerns that the event would be politicized.
As anti-war protesters announce Feb. 15 rallies, the Globe and Mail interviews military experts who say their best guess now is that an attack will begin shortly after Feb. 14, the date of the U.N. weapons inspectors' next report.
Is it unsafe for anti-war protesters to rally in London's Hyde Park?
Da Bishop! Melvin Talbert, a high-ranking Methodist bishop, appears with Janeane Garofalo in an anti-war commercial aimed at convincing President Bush, also a Methodist, to let inspections work. View that ad and another, with Susan Sarandon and former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Edward Peck, here.
The Los Angeles Times interviews Arianna Huffington about her recent embrace of anti-SUV activism, which led to The Oregonian's decision to dump her column. Plus: "Luxury tanks rolling off showroom floors."
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
The Guardian says that the biggest winner in the Israeli elections may be former journalist Tommy Lapid and his "aggressively secular" Shinui party, which "identified the ultra-religious as the biggest enemies of the Jewish state." Much more on the elections here.
Peace Now has identified Jewish settlements as the biggest enemy of the budget, in a report claiming that the Israeli government spent $1,500 more per capita on Jewish settlers living in Palestinian territories than on citizens living in Israel.
Japan says that 206kg of its plutonium is unaccounted for -- enough to make 25 atomic bombs similar to the one dropped on Nagasaki.
Slate's William Saletan notices something missing from President Bush's State of the Union address: The state of the union.
Bush reiterated that Saddam "has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production," even though the head of the International Atomic Energy has said that Iraq made a plausible claim that the tubes were for making nonnuclear rockets.
An AP article headlined "Bush Speech Casts Issues in Simple Terms," says allegations that Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction and has ties to al-Qaeda were "thicker than the evidence."
Sen. Edward Kennedy says that he will introduce a resolution calling on President Bush to present Congress with "convincing evidence of an imminent threat before we send troops to war with Iraq."
Biggest pundit suckup following the SOTU address? Atrios' readers offer nominees for the "Fineman Award."
In the Green Party's first response to a State of the Union address, Minneapolis City Councilwoman Natalie Johnson Lee said that "Bush is no reluctant warrior, he is a warmongering draft-dodger, and together with a weak and compliant Democratic Party in Congress, he is threatening American interests."
Ralph Nader: U.S. military expenditures are draining the civilian economy.
Comcast rejects anti-war commercials that were to have run during the State of the Union speech.
Ready for War? "The anti-war movement is at a critical juncture," writes Steven Rosenfeld. "To keep growing and stop this war, its leaders must confront the war's defenders head-on: They must state when they could support military action."
Norwegian warplanes joined the biggest Afghan battle since "Operation Anaconda," dropping their first bombs since flying from British bases to attack Nazi positions in German-occupied Norway in WW II.
UN Report: Afghan environment "ruined" by war.
Fortune uncovers what appears to be "a bizarre link" between the chairman of the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks and al-Qaeda.
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
The Bush administration says that it will release intelligence showing that Iraq has been moving and concealing banned weapons systems from U.N. inspectors, and, that it will produce new evidence linking Saddam with al-Qaeda. Plus: How the CIA is tracking Saddam.
Reporters pepper Ari Fleischer with questions about the flurry of recent claims by U.S. government officials that Iraq and al-Qaeda are in cahoots. Plus: Fleischer tries to have it both ways on "background" quotes.
Chuck Sigars finds it "reasonable to wonder what percentage of Americans understand the relationship between Iraq and the perpetrators of 9/11, what with war and death and all that coming up."
In an interview with Editor & Publisher, Daniel Ellsberg critiques Iraq coverage.
Pakistani columnist imagines Tom Brokaw interviewing Saddam Hussein.
A Consortium editorial suggests that the U.S. political establishment may be "trapped in a cycle of 'enabling' and 'denial' over Bush's failings as a leader." It analyzes a "fawning" profile of him in the New York Times Magazine and a Washington Post piece "slamming" Bush-critic Paul Krugman.
In "A Credibility Problem," Krugman reminds readers that there was more to last year's State of the Union Address than the "axis of evil." The president also said that "our budget will run a deficit that will be small and short-lived," and that my "economic security plan can be summed up in one word: jobs."
Appearing at the National Press Club, Sen. Tom Daschle and Rep. Nancy Pelosi accuse President Bush of creating a "credibility gap," by promising things that he has no intention of delivering.
Talk radio guest is "ambushed and abused" by "Limbaugh wannabees."
The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland reports on Israel's other wars -- the bitter internal divisions over race, religion and politics.
An Israeli military intelligence officer has been removed from his post for obstructing an air attack against the Palestinians, according to Maariv, which reported that he held back information "for reasons of conscience" because he believed the attack would harm civilians.
Monday, January 27, 2003
"USA Oui! Bush Non!" Eric Alterman samples European opinion and finds that while the "alleged outbreak of a new anti-Americanism turns out to be a kind of journalistic mirage, ...you find virtually no support for the tone or the substance of the current Administration's policies."
Why President Bush needs Europe.
E.J. Dionne says that "George W. Bush has a choice. He can be a commanding and unifying leader who rallies the country behind the war on terrorism and major foreign policy endeavors. Or he can be a partisan and ideological leader who tries to transform domestic policy and politics. He cannot succeed at both. Yet Bush is certain he can."
So is William Safire, claiming a "clear link" between Saddam and bin Laden followers in Kurdistan.
Secretary of State Powell says that the U.S. plans to make public soon its evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.
Janeane Garofalo tells Howard Kurtz that "You have anchors saying all the time, well, we know Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. No, we don't. We do not. We do not know that."
Robert Fisk decries the cozying up to the military by war journalists and offers "a thumbnail list of how to watch out for mendacity and propaganda on your screen once Gulf War Two begins."
Australian investigator points to "Cocktail" innoculations that included Anthrax vaccine as the cause of Gulf War syndrome.
A Pentagon proposal calls for bulldozing into mass graves the bodies of U.S. soldiers killed by chemical or biological weapons in Iraq or future wars, to save the lives of surviving troops.
Greenpeace activists reportedly block UK military port in Iraq protest.
Weapons of Mass Combustion To make up for an oil shortfall from Venezuela, the U.S. has doubled its imports from Iraq.
SpOILing For War? Scotland's Sunday Herald reports that "The U.S. government's promise to hold Iraqi oilfields 'in trust' for the people of Iraq is now looking like an international, U.S.-led promise to spread the spoils between U.S., French, Chinese and Russian oil companies."
Friday, January 24, 2003
Brendan O'Neill says that "war for oil" arguments are "a slippery slope to nowhere" that sound "more like a conspiracy theory than a considered political opposition to war. What about other, genuine reasons for opposing military intervention — the fact that it overrides nation states' sovereignty, that it often disregards peoples' democratic rights, that it can destabilize regions further?" Plus: War with oil?
Hand-written documents obtained by the BBC, that are said to have been smuggled out of Iraq by the opposition, indicate that the country's key military units are being equipped with protection against chemical weapons.
Malaysia's president tells the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos that "The forces against the 'axis of evil' are not going to win because the target is wrong. It will create more anger." He also said that the Third World War has already begun between "the axis of evil and Satan."
Moveon.org solicits donations to run its remake of the "Daisy Ad" during the Super Bowl and the Office of National Drug Control Policy announces that it will use the game to launch two new campaigns, one of which is "designed to show teens some of the ways that using marijuana can cripple a young person's future."
Annoyingly Virtuous Michael Kinsley on what's good and bad about Sens. John McCain and Joseph Lieberman.
Alternet's Marty Jezer says that "In the United States, confidence in the Bush Administration is evaporating, and it's no wonder. Reality is out-running the rhetoric." Plus: Gene Lyons on "The Politics of the Herd."
Thursday, January 23, 2003
As NATO wavers on war, the New York Times reports that the U.S. is set to demand that "France, Germany and other skeptics of military action against Iraq," agree publicly that Iraq has defied the U.N. Security Council.
French leaders react angrily to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's description of France and Germany as the "old Europe."
The Chicago Tribune's Tom Hundley says that "The reason for the growing qualms of European political leaders is simple. It mirrors the mood of voters."
An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds that President Bush's popularity ratings are "eroding across the board." It puts his overall approval rating at 54 percent, with 72 percent of respondents believing that Bush should show evidence of Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction.
Diplomats say that the U.S. doesn't have the votes necessary to pass a U.N. resolution authorizing an invasion of Iraq.
What a Saddam exile could mean for reality TV.
Battle of the Brands Political science professor Catherine Scott writes that "the war on terror and the plans for war against Iraq have highlighted new and startling trends in the way U.S. foreign policy is presented as a brand to both citizens and the world."
Scott Ritter confirms to CNN's Aaron Brown that he was arrested in 2001, but that "the case has been dismissed and the record has been sealed by a judge's order. And I'm obligated, both ethically and legally, not to talk about that case." But Brown says that according to New York law, "There is nothing in a sealed case, zero, that prevents you from talking about it." (scroll down)
Justin Raimondo calls Ritter "the victim of what may be the sleaziest set-up job in recent history," and asks: "Could it be that the records were sealed not to protect Ritter, but to protect whomever tried to set him up?"
The Memory Hole parses an October 2001 interview that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld gave to Parade magazine, in which he said that there were "lots of warnings" prior to 9/11 and mentioned a "missile" that damaged the Pentagon.
Masking the Truth When President Bush spoke at a St. Louis shipping company to tout tax breaks for small businesses, he appeared in front of a painted canvas backdrop made to look like stacked boxes stamped with the words "MADE IN U.S.A." But when it was discovered that some real boxes that were also to be used as props bore the words "Made in China," their origin was taped over. A Bush press flack attributed the cover-up to an "overzealous advance office volunteer."
A New York Times analysis of the Bush administration's tax plan argues that it "would have far less stimulative impact than has been promised in both the short run and the long run. What we have here is a huge tax cut for the rich without a commensurate bang for the buck for the economy."
A Federal Reserve report shows that between 1998 and the end of 2001, the net worth of families in the top ten percent of income grew 69 percent, to $833,600, while the net worth of families in the bottom tenth grew 24 percent, to $7,900.
A Bush administration appointee to the Presidential Advisory Commission on HIV and AIDS, has characterized AIDS as the "gay plague," called homosexuality a "deathstyle" rather than a lifestyle and asserted that "Christ can rescue the homosexual."
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Trading Floor Congress meets Wall Street in this "State of the Union" poster.
An Atlantic Monthly project also investigates "The Real State of the Union," but Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman say that it ignores the "C" word. Earlier: Mokhiber and Weissman disrupt a Library of Congress homage to Coca-Cola.
As the White House launches a PR blitz on Iraq, with the release of a report titled "Apparatus of Lies: Saddam’s Disinformation and Propaganda 1990-2003," Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says that Germany will not back a U.N. resolution authorizing war against Iraq.
Prime Minister Blair reportedly "astonishes onlookers with a frank answer" to the question: "Is there any link between al-Qaeda, Iraq and terrorist groups in Britain?"
Ari & I "So you and the President have said that Saddam has repeatedly gassed his own people -- why do you leave out the part that the United States, in effect, gave Saddam the green light?"
Intervention's Stewart Nusbaumer monitors cable coverage of the anti-war protests. While C-Span was going overboard on the Muslim angle, Fox News was expressing "downright hostility" to the protests.
Sen. Edward Kennedy thumps President Bush in a CNN viewer poll that asked: "Whose views are most like yours when it comes to the Iraqi crisis?" Kennedy called Iraq "the wrong war at the wrong time," in a National Press Club speech that Fox News dubbed "Ted's Tirade."
Gary Hart ponders a presidential run, says "If I were in Bush's shoes, I'd be scared to death. When the next attack occurs, he will be judged very, very harshly." Hart is testing the waters with a series of speeches in January.
Although Hart does carry some baggage, John Nichols writes that he "is saying more of consequence than anyone else pondering a presidential bid," and that on ABC's "This Week," he was "staggeringly strong on the subject of terrorism threats and how U.S. attack on Iraq will increase them." TalkLeft picks up the Hart beat.
The independent commission investigating the 9/11 attacks has a budget of only $3 million, which is $2 million less than a 1996 federal commission that studied legalized gambling.
Sen. Charles Grassley is concerned about the FBI's ties to the Total Information Awareness project.
The New York Times reports on the many taxes that "create a double, triple or even quintuple burden. And unlike the double taxation of dividends, which mainly affects the wealthy, the burden of other forms of multiple taxation — sales taxes, import taxes, payroll taxes, among others — often falls most heavily on poorer Americans."
In "The Class President," Maureen Dowd writes that "The Bushes seem to believe that the divisive thing in American society is dwelling on social and economic inequities, rather than the inequities themselves."
Afghanistan's senior judge, who comes from the same Pashtun tribe as the Taliban and taught for many years in a madrassah, outlaws cable TV, which he says is filled with "prostitution" and "nudity" and contains programming "clearly contrary to Islam and against morality."
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
The Washington Post reports that a longtime bodyguard of Osama bin Laden, a Moroccan who is now being held at Guantanamo Bay, took possession of bin Laden's satellite phone at Tora Bora, and used it as he moved away from bin Laden and his entourage, in an effort to fake out the Americans.
The Christian Science Monitor profiles an al-Qaeda training camp located ten miles inside Pakistan. It reportedly houses 300 fighters, and is one of a dozen camps along the Afghan-Pakistani border that are located in a legal gray area that is outside of the control of the Afghan and Pakistani governments, and too far into Pakistan to allow for U.S. raids.
As Defense Secretary Rumsfeld turns up the volume in his condemnation of Saddam, U.S. war planning hits a snag, with France vowing to prevent the U.N. Security Council from passing a resolution authorizing military action against Iraq, and Russia, China and Germany signaling that they're willing to let the inspections continue for months.
"The last thing that the hawks inside the administration, and their friends outside the administration, want is a coup d'etat that would replace Saddam Hussein," said Bob Novak on 'Capital Gang.' "They want a war as a manifestation of U.S. power in the world and as a sign that the United States is capable of changing the balance of power and the political map of the Middle East." Plus: "Saddam's Bogus Journey."
Dennis Hans says that President Bush is racking up "frequent liar miles," by successfully employing a strategy of "lie and rely," that depends on the media to disseminate his deceptions. Earlier: Hans on Phil Donahue, "incompetent liberal."
Robert Weiner, CNN's executive producer in Baghdad when the Gulf War erupted, speculates on the various ways in which the media may be muzzled during a war in Iraq. Plus: "Wolf Blitzer for the Defense (Department)."
Although the Pentagon has pledged that if the U.S. goes to war with Iraq, reporters will have greater access to the battlefield than in recent conflicts, the Baltimore Sun's David Folkenflik wonders if the media can overcome military pressure and its own foibles.
Egypt's Al-Ahram looks at the U.S. media's attempts to marginalize Hollywood actors who protest war against Iraq.
As Robert Redford prepares a sequel to "The Candidate," the 1972 film about an idealistic lawyer who sacrifices his principles to win election, Maureen Dowd says that if Redford wants it to be as unnerving as the original, "he will have to ratchet up the cynicism level."
Time reports that President Bush has revived a presidential tradition that was halted by his father in 1990: Paying homage to Jefferson Davis, by sending a Memorial Day wreath to the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.
Time points to Richard T. Hines as a likely force behind the revival. He played a key role in helping President Bush defeat John McCain in the South Carolina primary, but "more to the point," writes Josh Marshall, "Hines is a leading neo-Confederate and the former Managing Editor of the 'Southern Partisan,' the crypto-racist magazine which is the venue of choice for Republican politicians looking to cater to the neo-confederate yahoo vote."
Marshall notes that Hines is also a leader of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, whose Web site offers instructions on how to report a "Heritage Violation," which it describes as "Any attack upon our Confederate Heritage, or the flags, monuments, and symbols which represent it." Uggabugga diagrams the "ridiculous and arcane" reporting procedures. Plus: The two sides of diversity.
The Washington Post's Terry Neal writes that "some political observers say the Bush campaign strategy, and his strategy in office, has been less about attracting black voters than it has about sending a message to moderate, white suburban voters -- especially women -- in the north that he is a different kind of southern Republican, one who doesn't use racial code words and divide by race." He quotes a "prominent black conservative activist" who says that "This doesn't have a damn thing to do with black people. It's all about suburban white women."
In a review of "High and Mighty: SUVs -- The World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way," Gregg Easterbrook says that SUVs are both a public policy and existential fiasco: "These vehicles have converted driving from a convenience and sometimes a pleasure into a nerve-wracking Darwinian battle. Justified as a response to road rage, SUVs and light pickups are actually the root cause of it."
Chris Mooney takes highly respected pollster John Zogby to task for the "creative polls" that he conducts for various special interests groups. But Mooney's slam doesn't stop Zogby from splashing an out of context quote from the article across the home page of his Web site (now removed).
The Associated Press reports that ten days before the Bush administration's top policy expert on telecommunications asked the FCC to repeal restrictions that major cellular companies had long complained about, she allowed lobbyists from Cingular Wireless, SBC and Motorola to help pay for a private reception at her home.
William Safire warns against "Media Giantism," an issue that he notes is editorially ignored by the film, television and newspaper conglomerates.
Michael Wolff says that there's a generation gap at the media conglomerates: "The men who invented these companies are egomaniacs and fabulists; the men who are in line to take them over ... are managerial rationalists."
Sneaky Synergy In a segment titled "Golden Globe Gift Boxes, Exciting Expensive," CNN's Daryn Kagan spends five minutes marveling at the $12,000 worth of merchandise that "In Style" magazine doled out to presenters at the Golden Globe awards, but doesn't mention that "In Style," like CNN, is part of the AOL Time Warner family.
Friday, January 17, 2003
Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen find something missing from TV coverage surrounding Martin Luther King's birthday: It's the last several years of his life -- "as if flushed down a memory hole." They say that national news media have never come to terms with the class perspective that King developed during his final years, when he called for "radical changes in the structure of our society" to redistribute wealth and power.
In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the 1998 "Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act," that extends most copyrights until 70 years after the author's death, "NOW with Bill Moyers" looks at the digital future of intellectual property.
As Microsoft announces its first ever dividend, Nathan Newman notes that under President Bush's "bold" new tax plan, Bill Gates, whose dividend payout is $97.9 million, will save -- and the treasury will lose -- $37.8 million.
Paul Krugman says that the Bush administration has fallen off the wagon: "As a drunk is to alcohol, the Bush administration is to budget deficits."
Krugman cites economist Brad DeLong, who wrote about how the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers recently flip-flopped on deficits, and now denies that they raise interest rates and depress private investments.
"In a time of war, is it really urgent to plunge the country ever deeper into debt to give Cheney and comparably placed taxpayers that much relief?", asks E.J. Dionne. "The administration is placing the burden of helping the wealthy now on our children and grandchildren. This is not only unjust, it's nuts."
Get your anti-war on here.
Moveon.org revives the "Daisy" ad, that was produced by Lyndon Johnson's campaign and aired only once during the 1964 presidential race. It suggested that if Barry Goldwater was elected president, he might lead the U.S. to a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Original and remake.
Did ABC censors delete the loud boos that reportedly greeted former President Bush when he appeared on tape during the American Music Awards?
Eric Alterman revisits the second 2000 presidential debate, during which candidate Bush explained what he meant by "affirmative access."
Appearing on "Hardball," Sen. Joe Biden asks University of Delaware students: "How many think if your daddy went to this school you should have an advantage? Guess what, you do if your daddy went to this school."
More on legacy admissions from Joe Conason: "The president opposes affirmative action. So how does he defend the institutional favoritism that got him into Yale?" ABC's Terry Moran valiantly attempts to get an answer.
"How does he do it?", asks David Corn. "Every day Ari Fleischer takes the stand -- so to speak -- but, luckily for him, it's not under oath ... A plainspoken fella -- someone like our tax-cutter-in-chief -- might feel compelled to brand a deceptive answer a 'lie.' But in the case of Fleischer v. Truth, I'm going to let you be the jury."
A change in Belgium's law on human rights could put Israeli Prime Minister Sharon back on trial.
Bailed Out Doug Ireland says the reason that Sen. Tom Daschle decided not to run for president was that "In the end, he calculated that he couldn’t survive scrutiny of his persistent service to the clients of his wife, " Linda Daschle, who has been one of the airline industry’s top lobbyists for two decades.
House Republican leadership abandons the traditional method of choosing chairmen based on seniority, now favors members who demonstrate both fundraising savvy and party loyalty.
Big Brother wants to get in your pants.
Thursday, January 16, 2003
NBC reports on prison labor camps in North Korea, a country noted for the widespread jailing of political prisoners’ families. Three generations can be put away simply on the basis of a denunciation.
"Moon Shadow" Wayne Madsen looks at the clout that "Reverend" Sun Myung Moon and his Washington Times carry with the Bush administration. He says that Moon's influence loomed large over the White House decision-making process when the president added North Korea to his list of "Axis of Evil" nations.
Israeli intelligence officials tell the Moon-owned UPI that "Israel is embarking upon a more aggressive approach to the war on terror that will include staging targeted killings in the U.S. and other friendly countries." An official at the Israeli Embassy in Washington said "That is rubbish."
As the Pentagon warns Iraq against using human shields in a possible war -- a pro-Iraqi group in Jordan claims that 100,000 Jordanians have signed up -- the Independent's Andrew Buncombe examines the ethical nightmare that child fighters would pose for allied troops. He cites a briefing document by a Brookings Institution analyst that says there are up to 8,000 in Baghdad alone.
The Orlando Sentinel reports on a furniture salesman's obsessive quest to prove that he's the son of the former shah of Iran.
Leave No Adult Behind "Clearly, the White House thinks your Mental Age is 3," writes Bob Somerby. "They are now attaching the treasured word 'bold' to everything Bush says and does. And make no mistake—this is a plan."
How the GOP put a new twist on "lynching."
Something From Nothing To justify a possible war if inspectors don't find any weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. is increasingly focusing on what Iraq left out of its weapons declaration.
The Telegraph takes a Robert Novak column on complaints by Republican Senators that they're being kept out of the loop on Iraq, and turns it into a "smoking gun" story, in which the phrase "don't worry" becomes synonymous with "powerful intelligence."
Although U.S. military officials say that bombing in Iraq's southern "no-fly" zone is initiated only in response to Iraqi fire, the Washington Post reports that "military planners are taking full advantage of the opportunity to target Iraq's integrated air defense network" and ease the way for U.S. forces in a possible war. Earlier: "No-fly" zones are not authorized by the U.N.
Sen. Russ Feingold announces plans to introduce a bill calling for a halt to the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness program, and the ACLU releases a new report titled "Bigger Monster, Weaker Chains: The Growth of an American Surveillance Society."
CIA does editing work on a book that was co-written by a New York Times' reporter.
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Narco News criticizes the New York Times for "one-sided and inaccurate Venezuela coverage," following the resignation of Francisco Toro, a Times' correspondent whose "anti-Chavez position in Venezuela was publicly known after last April's coup."
In a blog posting titled "A plausible defense of the lunatic's legacy...," Toro praises a Mother Jones article by Barry Lynn, calling it "probably the best defense of chavismo I've ever read ... He avoids the pitfalls inherent in trying to lionize Hugo Chavez the man by focusing instead on the effects his government has had on how poor Venezuelans relate to politics."
A recent Knight Ridder poll finds that 65 percent of respondents think Iraq and al-Qaeda "are allied and working together to plan new acts of terrorism," and 44 percent say that "most" or "some" of the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens. (scroll down)
In a Times of London commentary piece headlined "The United States of America has gone mad," John LeCarre writes that the Bush administration's success "in deflecting America's anger from bin Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history."
Maureen Dowd says that President Bush's recent drop in the polls reflects unease "about the inconsistency of his foreign policy and the inflexibility of his domestic agenda, with conservatives setting the pace at home and in Iraq."
Al Franken tells "On the Media" that he's considering a radio talk show gig, but says that he wouldn't ape Rush Limbaugh: "People on the left -- liberals -- don't want to hear simplistic demagoguery. They want to hear information."
"The growing trend of news in this country is interpretation ahead of the facts, of talk rather than information," says the associate director of Project for Excellence in Journalism, in response to a recent Gallup poll in which 22% of those surveyed said they get their news every day from talk radio programs -- double what it was four years ago.
During a speech to the National Press Club, presidential candidate Howard Dean said that Democrats should call for the complete repeal of Bush's earlier tax cuts and support no new cuts "until we figure out how to pay our bills." He also said a debate that should be happening is how to get to universal health care for all Americans, "but the folks in my party are so timid they don't dare."
In a new op-ad titled "Whose 'Class Warfare'?", TomPaine.com calls for "a real debate about class in America. That’s just what the people screaming 'class warfare' fear most, so bring it on."
Republican Senator charges Democrats with "attempted coup" over committee funding.
Salon interviews a branding expert who says that the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) made a "brilliant" move when it became "NARAL Pro-Choice America," switching the emphasis from abortion to choice. Plus: "Bush Declares Sanctity of Human Life Day."
In "Persecuting Pee-wee," Richard Goldstein writes that "This is no ordinary tale of celebrity justice. It raises major questions about censorship and criminal intent. Because the Reubens case dramatically expands the parameters of what is considered child pornography, it should trouble us all."
Jason Gross offers his eclectic picks for the best music-related writing of the last year in "25 Favourite Scribings for 2002."
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
University of California, Berkeley, officials halted the mailing of a fund-raising appeal for the Emma Goldman Papers Project, because it quoted Goldman on suppression of free speech and opposition to war. They said that it could be construed as a political statement by the university in opposition to U.S. policy toward Iraq.
An article on the post-9/11 surge in ACLU membership, quotes a letter that K.W. Simons of Rolla, N.D., wrote to the Nation: "Largely because of my age -- 75 -- Sept. 11 didn't change my life one iota. Except for this: My reaction to the fascist foragings of John Ashcroft and the dude who sponsored him has been to rejoin the ACLU after an absence of 27 years."
Pop Matters' Mike Ward offers his "10 Most Startling Speculations and 'Conspiracy Theories' About 9/11 and America's New War."
Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' plans for promoting the memoir that he just sold for an unprecedented $1.5 million: "This isn't a book tour. It's a Federalist Society pep rally."
Jonathan Turley writes that "In the last two years, nepotism has flourished in Washington to a point that would make the most inbred potentate blush," and that it now threatens institutional integrity.
The Washington Post's ombudsman complains that "as a citizen, and a consumer of news, I don't feel prepared" for war.
Mohbiker and Robert Weissman look at corporate influence on the Congressional Black Caucus.
Bill Gates Sr. continues his campaign against repealing the estate tax.
ABC reports that the U.S. military buildup may be greater than the Bush administration originally envisioned and could end up involving more than 350,000 troops for a war and subsequent occupation of Iraq.
Hans Blix warns Iraq, says that it must provide documents, allow U.N. inspectors to interview Iraqi scientists in private, and show physical evidence of what facilities and weapons have been destroyed.
A Newsweek profile of Kim Jong Il quotes former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the only high-ranking U.S. official to ever spend time with him: "It’s hard to tell what he wants. He did talk about economic change and following the Swedish model, which makes no sense at all."
On the first anniversary of The No Child Left Behind Act, that passed the Senate on a 91 to 8 vote, Congressional Democrats are accusing the White House of reneging on funding promises and education officials are worried that the law's provisions for measuring school success will result in a majority of the nation's schools being deemed failures.
An education administrator in St. Paul says that not a single high school in his city could currently meet the 80 percent graduation goal. Plus: The problem with high-stakes standardized testing and how the deck is often stacked against those children who need help the most. Earlier: The Myth of the Texas Miracle in Education.
Monday, January 13, 2003
Military affairs analyst William Arkin lays out Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's war plan for Iraq, which he says "owes more to D-day and World War II than to the 21st century vision of lightning-fast, flexible warfare that has become his hallmark."
A Washington Post assessment of the Bush administration's decision to go after Iraq, describes a "murky process" that began six days after the 9/11 attacks and "circumvented traditional policymaking channels as longtime advocates of ousting Hussein pushed Iraq to the top of the agenda by connecting their cause to the war on terrorism."
GOP senators reportedly slam administration over arrogant treatment of Congress along the road to war.
Slate's William Saletan says that U.S. government officials are pulling a Clonaid with their claims that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, and that the press is letting them get away with it. Plus: Time to shoot the moon?
International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed Al Baradei tells Time that Iraq is "far away" from owning a nuclear bomb and that inspections "should take something like a year." Earlier: Al Baradei disputes U.S. claim that Iraq was seeking to import aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment.
The Project on Defense Alternatives has compiled a compendium of press reports on the first 40 days of inspecting Iraq.
A Knight Ridder poll finds that 83 percent of Americans would support going to war with Iraq if the U.N. backed the action and it was carried out by a multinational coalition, but that only 34 percent would support going it alone.
New Zealand's trade minister accuses the U.S. of "arm twisting" other nations into backing a war.
U.S. military officials say that they have evidence of a planned bombing of a passenger airliner contracted to fly troops and freight to Iraq.
David Broder and Ron Brownstein eviscerate President Bush's tax plan. Broder says that it "reeks of politics" and Brownstein notes that it commits the president to "a goal unprecedented in U.S. history: cutting taxes in wartime. Forget guns and butter: Bush is now offering bombs and caviar."
Bill Moyers interviews the conservative movement's Washington linchpin, Grover Norquist, who says that the goal of the movement is to cut the size and cost of government in half in 25 years -- taking it from a third of the economy down to about 17 percent. Plus: Justice Department said to be screening candidates on ideology.
Former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger responds to Bush administration officials who have blamed the Clinton administration for the North Korea crisis: "And I must say, for some people in the administration, I'm beginning to think that blaming Clinton is a substitute for thinking."
Friday, January 10, 2003
Could a Navy pilot missing since the first Gulf War be the smoking gunner?
"Those who believed that the U.S. could do whatever it wanted, without regard for world opinion, or long-recognized moral and diplomatic precepts, have this eventful week been proved dead wrong," writes Justin Raimondo. "Some in this administration may learn the lesson of these events, but the hard-liners in their ranks will surely not."
Defense Policy Board Chairman Richard Perle trash talks Hans Blix, says the U.S. will not delay a war with Iraq until autumn and is prepared to launch military action without further U.N. authorization.
Priming the Pump Newsday reports that Bush administration officials are considering proposals that the U.S. tap Iraq's oil to help pay the cost of a military occupation. It quotes an unnamed source who says that "There are people in the White House who take the position that it's all the spoils of war. We take all the oil money until there is a new democratic government."
Economists tell the Washington Post that the U.S. budget shortfall could hit a record $350 billion in 2004, as compared to a $236 billion surplus in 2000.
In "The Secret War on Condoms," Nicholas Kristof notes that the U.S. is now donating 300 million condoms annually, down from about 800 million at the end of the first President Bush's term.
That's about 60 million fewer than the number donated through foundations established by Phil Harvey, who "built a porn empire to save the Third World."
Take That, Tivo An hourlong variety program to be broadcast for six weeks this summer on the WB Network, described as a "contemporary, hip Ed Sullivan show," will forego commercial interruptions for the weaving of advertisements into the show.
Richard Blow explains why Michael Moore is rarely a guest on TV, while Ann Coulter, "who's about as conservative as Moore is liberal and also has had a recent bestselling book, is so telebiquitous she might as well have her own channel." Plus: Coulter's sponsored life.
The Christain Science Monitor reports on the debate that ensued in South Africa after the state-run news station announced that it might replace CNN with Al-Jazeera.
A seemingly innocuous gossip item in New York magazine has created front-page headlines in Guatemala and landed the columnist in the middle of the country's presidential election.
Ten minutes into a nationally televised news conference, Israeli media pulled the plug on Prime Minister Sharon, after the chairman of the Central Elections Committee decided that Sharon's defense against bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges, violated a law preventing the broadcast of election propaganda in the month before a vote.
Steve Niva sees Sharon's fingerprints on the latest suicide bombing.
Niva refers to a "scathing" Ha'aretz editorial by Doron Rosenblum, who chides the public for not being suspicious enough of Sharon, and charges the government with not being interested in the cessation of the terrorist attacks, "for they constitute its raison d'etre"
Thursday, January 9, 2003
British government officials are reportedly urging the U.S. to delay war against Iraq. The Telegraph quotes one source as saying that "The Prime Minister has made it clear that, unless there is a smoking gun, the inspectors have to be given time to keep searching." Hans Blix: No "smoking guns."
"Causa Belli" Britain's poet laureate questions motives behind possible attack in a new poem.
ABC talks to a former Yugoslav engineer who helped build Saddam's bunker. He says it's a knock-off of a more elaborate model that was built for Yugoslavian dictator, Marshal Tito, subject of the amazing titoville.com.
Hard-Edged Soft Drink A French entrepreneur hopes to cash in on anti-American sentiment around the world and make Mecca Cola the soft drink of choice for Muslims. It's tagline is "No more drinking stupid, drink with commitment," or, "Ne buvez plus idiot, buvez engage."
Arab boycott of U.S. consumer goods spreads as clerics denounce American brands.
Sens. John McCain and Joseph Lieberman team up to challenge the Bush administration on global warming, by introducing a bill that would cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Sen. Russell Feingold plans to reintroduce legislation that would limit the consolidation of radio station ownership. Feingold says that McCain, who now chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, will likely support the bill and could hold hearings on the issue.
As Democratic presidential hopefuls try to capture McCain's "mojo," USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham says that Sen. John Edwards "is the only one who gives Republican political strategists the willies." He cites the Republican National Committee's extensive oppo research on Edwards, that appeared online one day after Edwards announced his candidacy.
In "Vice Grip," Josh Marshall assigns VP Dick Cheney blame for almost every major screw-up that has happened on the Bush administration's watch: "Indeed, on almost any issue, it's usually a sure bet that if Cheney has lined up on one side, the opposite course will turn out to be the wiser."
Time sources tell the Washington City Paper that the magazine prepared a Person of the Year cover commemorating the partnership between Bush and Cheney, but that it fell through after the White House refused to give the magazine access, preferring that the president appear alone on the cover.
Dana Milbank on Bush's swing for the fences approach.
Some bachelors are more eligible than others for NBC's reality show, "Around The World In 80 Dates." (may have to scroll down)
TV networks strike market research gold with Vegas tourists.
Wednesday, January 8, 2003
The CIA warns on WMD, claiming that Libya, Syria and possibly Sudan are trying to acquire or expand secret arsenals and that bin Laden "has a more sophisticated biological weapons research program than previously discovered."
As Israel's election campaign begins, the Telegraph reports on a "new sleaze blow" to Prime Minister Sharon.
Yasser Arafat continues his long-running star turn in Likud campaign commercials. The latest batch is produced under the direction of American consultant Arthur Finkelstein, who hasn't let being Jewish and homosexual stop him from crafting anti-gay and anti-Semitic appeals for his clients.
In "Age Before Booty," William Saletan notes how "tax cuts for the rich have become tax cuts for the old." The Bush message is that the plan is a boon to the elderly, who pay roughly half of all dividend taxes, but by one estimate, nearly three-quarters of the tax benefits would go to the 19 percent of seniors with incomes above $75,000.
Michael Wolff calls the Bush presidency the "most spectacularly managed media presidency." They "likely see their singular job as managing media. They recognize that if you can’t manage media, then you have a failing presidency. That It’s the media, stupid. Good press, or at least a quiescent press, is the absolute goal."
Although legislation to reinstate the draft appears to have little chance of passing, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has already made his decision: "We're not going to re-implement a draft." Plus: Has Rumsfeld joined a bad club?
Reservist call up for Iraq could result in police shortage.
Saddam sacks his oil minister, whose wife is known to be one of the biological weapons scientists the U.N. wants to interview.
Jordan likely to be a big loser in an Iraq war.
In "Flaws in the War Machine," Peter Hartcher asks: "Why does a country with 5 per cent of the world's population and a quarter of the world economy need half the world's military spending?" Plus: A bridge too far?
A New York city's cable access presentation of "Army Newswatch," a program produced by the U.S. Army, was interrupted by roughly 20 minutes of explicit gay pornography, that was described by callers to a local radio station as having a "German military theme" to it.
The vitriol flies in this very lively "Donahue" show on media bias, that features Phil, Al Franken and Mario Cuomo, ganging up on "Bias" author Bernard Goldberg and conservative radio talker Jeffrey Whitaker. Read comments here.
Get Down Press leans more negative than left.
What a "Rush-of-the-left" might look like.
Has NORML found a new spokesperson?
Tuesday, January 7, 2003
Paul Krugman says that President Bush's stimulus plan is one more example of the administration using a problem to promote its political agenda, rather than trying to solve the problem. Plus: Dissecting the competing plans and the myth of double taxation.
E.J. Dionne asks: "Who's Playing 'Class Warfare'?"
Reason interviews three former drug warriors who underwent battlefield conversions and now think that the war on drugs is a mistake.
"Terror suspects" story revealed to be informant's fabrication.
Spinsanity looks at recent attacks on dissent related to the war on terrorism and 9/11, and finds that "smear tactics designed to stifle debate about U.S. security policy are still all too common."
Sen. Trent Lott's sin? "He was sooo old-school."
High Fidelity Read how two Miami radio-show hosts called Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and got him to believe that he was talking to Fidel Castro.
Venezuela's energy minister floats a plan to split the state-owned oil company in two, as a way to break the strike.
The head of the U.N. agency searching for evidence of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq says that inspectors have found no evidence of such a program. An AP report says that inspectors' failure to turn up any sign of prohibited weapons is "complicating the Bush administration's task of justifying an armed invasion."
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports what happened to the Census Bureau demographer who postulated in 1991 that 158,000 Iraqi men, women and children died during and shortly after the Gulf war.
The U.N. warns that the humanitarian crisis resulting from a war in Iraq would likely be worse than in 1991, partly because a decade of U.N. sanctions has made the Iraqi population almost totally dependent on government handouts for survival.
Iraqi tribes may be harder to bribe than Afghan warlords were.
Helen Thomas begins Monday's White House press briefing by barraging Ari Fleischer with questions about Iraq, including, "Have they laid the glove on you or on the United States, the Iraqis, in 11 years?" And Russell Mohbiker asks: "Can you give me a list of convicted criminals on the White House staff, other than Elliott Abrams?"
In Itasca, Texas, the weekly high school newspaper is the only game in town.
Veteran Jesse watcher thinks that Ventura may have what it takes for TV -- "he gets bored easily and doesn't seem much interested in details."
Editor & Publisher says that "Ventura's press-bashing was so clumsy that he couldn't even make the news media look arrogant."
Monday, January 6, 2003
Two economists say that President Bush's plan to eliminate taxes on corporate dividends paid to shareholders would do little to spur economic growth or reduce the unemployment rate. Earlier: "The folly of eliminating taxes on dividends."
Preemptive Strike "No wonder that Mr. Bush, even before officially unveiling the plan tomorrow, waved his magic 'class warfare' amulet," editorializes the Washington Post, "seeking to obscure the obvious -- another tax cut for the rich -- by preemptively accusing his accusers."
Newt Gingrich also uses the class warfare gambit during a tax plan debate with Paul Krugman on ABC's "This Week."
Brazil's new president chooses butter over guns, postponing a $750 million purchase of a dozen new jet fighter planes so that the money could be spent to relieve hunger.
Atrios spots a local TV newscast in the U.S. running what sounds like a video news release from opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, alleging a link between Chavez and al-Qaeda. More from Sun Yung Moon's Insight magazine.
As the U.S. media and government look for terror connections in South America, diplomats doubt claims that left-leaning governments are sympathetic to al-Qaeda or other anti-U.S. terror groups.
The Observer's Peter Beaumont argues that the war on terrorism won't be won until the West grasps the fact that it's fighting a lethal idea rather than a tangible enemy: "Al-Qaeda is less a hierarchical organization led by a sinister mastermind, than a dynamic dialogue between like-minded radicals conducted via mosques, radical publications and the Internet."
The story of the five "terror suspects" falls apart, as the FBI admits that there was no proof that they had come from Canada, had crossed the border, or were connected with terrorism.
"One essential element in the fight against terrorism is to lower its media profile," writes Ha'aretz's Arie Caspi. "The war should be fought by intelligence organizations in silent, highly focused ways. Ever since September 11, Bush has done the opposite, fanning the flames of the conflict and in the meantime breeding more terrorist cells."
FAIR campaign prompts HBO to add a disclaimer to its Gulf War movie.
Sources tell the Washington Post that CBS delayed the broadcast of Crooked E," -- a made for TV movie about Enron that was originally scheduled to air on November 3 -- because network heads were uncomfortable with the prospect of appearing to criticize the Bush administration.
Gallup Poll looks at where Republicans, Democrats and independents get their news.
New blog launches with campaign to dump Attorney General Ashcroft.
Friday, January 3, 2003
Amid allegations of vote-buying and kickbacks, recent polls show that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud party is expected to lose seats in the upcoming elections. Plus: Pat Buchanan on Sharon's shakedown of the U.S.
Lawyers for two U.S. pilots charged with manslaughter in the April "friendly fire" bombing of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, say the Air Force forced the pilots to use Dexedrine, but did not tell them about a manufacturer's warning that they should not operate heavy machinery or engage in potentially hazardous activities while using the drug.
TalkLeft slams Rep. Charles Rangel's "obscene" and "despicable" proposal to reinstate the military draft. A political science professor says that the proposal is "a political move to call attention to whose ox is gored in a war."
The chairman of MIT's aeronautics and astronautics department has reversed himself, and is now recommending an investigation into charges that fundamental flaws in the testing of the proposed U.S. Missile Defense System have been covered up.
In "The Price of the 'Liberal Media' Myth," The Consortium's Robert Parry writes that "most journalists have about as much say over what is presented by newspapers and TV news programs as factory workers and foremen have over what a factory manufactures."
PETA asks Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to support legislation for better animal treatment as a way to atone for fraudulently adopting cats from animal shelters then experimenting on and killing them while he was a medical student.
William Saletan writes that "Republicans think they can frame Edwards as another Clinton in all the bad ways. But a campaign truly modeled on Clinton's would defy such an attack because Clinton's genius was in taking the focus off himself and putting it on you."
The New York Times' Adam Clymer interviews historians, legal experts and lawmakers, who say that the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy has resulted in what Clymer calls "a sea change in government openness." Plus: A "bitter" year at the Times.
Former LA Weekly editor sees political motives in Justice Department's probe of alternative weekly deal.
The Guardian calls on President Bush to call off war with Iraq, and Los Angeles Times' columnist Steve Lopez contemplates the possibility that "As soon as the bombs start falling in Iraq, maybe we start getting hit at home."
Josh Marshall begins a series on North Korea, by calling the crisis "an administration screw-up of mammoth proportions. The administration is trying to portray this as just another crisis that happened on their watch. But that woefully understates its own responsibility for the situation we're now in." Plus: Paul Krugman imagines the view from Pyongyang.
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