January, 2004 link archive

Monday, January 5, 2004

'Quarantining Dissent' The San Francisco Chronicle adapts an American Conservative article on the "free speech zones" that keep protesters from President Bush. Earlier: David Neiwert on the Nixonian roots of the zones.

"Still think the Patriot Act and similar legislation won't be used against you?" asks TalkLeft. "Then we hope you didn't go to Vegas for New Year's." More from Newsweek, which says one hotel that refused the FBI's request for a list of who booked rooms was slapped with a subpoena. The city's marketing slogan is "What happens here, stays here."

Where's the Beefs? "The military and police mobilization over New Year’s failed to produce any arrests or evidence of a terrorist plot," writes David Walsh on the World Socialist Web site. "Yet this far-flung operation did not provoke the slightest skepticism or criticism from within the media and political establishment." Plus: Jimmy Breslin on terrorism by politicians.

In an essay adapted from his new book, "The Naked Crowd," Jeffrey Rosen writes: "The vicious cycle at this point should be clear. The public fixates on low-probability but vivid risks because of images we absorb from television and from politicians. This cycle fuels the public's demand for draconian and poorly designed laws and technologies to eliminate the risks that are, by their nature, difficult to reduce."

The Toronto Star reports on Ontario trade ministry documents warning that the U.S. would virtually close the border with Canada if a terrorist attack were launched anywhere near it.

As Brazil begins fingerprinting U.S. citizens who travel there, Ira Chernus raises the possibility of WMD in Brazil becoming a campaign issue in America's presidential election.

Al-Jazeera airs an audiotape said to be of bin Laden, and the Observer reports on telephone intercepts that it says "make clear that Islamist terror cells are deliberately targeting 'well-educated' foreigners."

"Ironically, the United States supported Iraq when it possessed and used weapons of mass destruction and invaded it when it didn't," writes Robert Scheer, in a column about recently released documents detailing U.S.' support for Saddam under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

An American soldier who was wounded in Iraq tells his hometown newspaper: "I thought it'd be kind of enjoyable. War, Iraq -- this is going to be awesome. Not really."

'Army, Inc.' The New Yorker's James Surowiecki writes that "The worrisome thing isn’t what Halliburton and other big contractors are supposedly doing behind the scenes. It’s what they’re doing in plain sight." Plus: Oil being secretly pumped out of Iraq?

The Guardian looks at the White House's effort to rebrand President Bush as a 'man of peace,' and StrategyPage asks: 'Where Will There Be War in 2004?'

The New York Times reports on Pakistan's emergence "as the intellectual and trading hub of a loose network of hidden nuclear proliferators," in an article that includes a cover graphic of a sales brochure from a Pakistani research laboratory, touting its centrifuge technology.

Reporters Without Borders accuses a Pakistani intelligence official of telling "a State lie, which involves exhibiting on television a journalist who is being held in secret confinement while at the same time denying to judges that he is imprisoned."

Loya jirga delegates approve new constitution for "Islamic Republic of Afghanistan." The New York Times reports that security surrounding President Karzai's appearance to congratulate the assembly was so tight that he arrived by helicopter rather than drive the one mile from his office.

The Bush administration is reportedly considering -- "pre-decisional" -- a plan to increase drug co-pays for military veterans, that would save the the Pentagon more than $700 million, as part of an election-year budget that Josh Marshall describes as "classic Bush." Plus: E. J. Dionne on the 'Year of the Forgotten.'

Pat Robertson said on his "700 Club" program that "I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way." After Saddam was captured, David Frum wrote that "it's becoming increasingly difficult to doubt that God wants President Bush re-elected."

Text accompanying a Time photo essay reads: "Like many Texas ranchers, the President fights a continual battle with cedar brush."

Republicans slam Moveon.org over "Bush in 30 Seconds" contest entry that morphs an image of President Bush into Adolf Hitler.

Blogger Needlenose flags an AP article that begins: "For a brief time in their debate Sunday, Democrats seemed to be hewing to a New Year's resolution to stick more carefully to the facts on taxes, the budget and more. But old habits die hard."

New York Times' ombudsman Daniel Okrent is "puzzled by the notion that a [gay marriage] poll conducted by the Times is front page material... when any news organization touts its own polls while failing to note reputable polls conducted by others, I pat my pocket to make sure my wallet is still there. This isn't news; this is awfully close to promotion." Read GLAAD's alert on the poll and story.

December 31-January 4

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

The AP reports the U.S. Labor Department "is giving employers tips on how to avoid paying overtime to some of the 1.3 million low-income workers who would become eligible under new rules expected to be finalized early this year... even as it touts the $895 million in increased wages that it says those workers would be guaranteed from the reforms." Plus: Tax prep goes offshore.

'Class Warfare' The Nation reports that the University of California's labor studies program is under attack from a political alliance of the state's current administration and a lobby for nonunion construction companies, as well as a think tank that has received millions in funding from conservative philanthropies.

As Israel joins the U.S. in training foreign armies for cash, Israel's Justice Minister warns his country that it could face an international boycott unless the separation barrier is rerouted.

'Nukes 'R' Us' An unnamed Bush administration official tells the New York Times that Pakistan is "now three for three as supplier to the biggest proliferation problems we have." Plus: 'Don't touch that dictator!'

A "60 Minutes" segment profiles the head of Turkmenistan.

The U.S. Army is reportedly expanding its "stop loss" authority to keep about 7,000 soldiers serving in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan from leaving. Rep. Dennis Kucinich says that amounts to an involuntary draft. Earlier: 'Army stops many soldiers from quitting.'

Riverbend describes New Year's in Baghdad: "Immediately after twelve, the sounds of warplanes and explosions got so heavy, we could hardly hear the television. There was nothing on the news, as usual. Al-Iraqiya was showing some lame fading in and out of its motto on a blue background while all hell was breaking loose outside."

Tom Engelhardt unpacks an 'Empire of Lies,' and Brendan O'Neill gauges the reliability of "chatter" as an indicator of terrorists' intentions.

The Bush administration has filed a request with the Supreme Court to keep its arguments secret in the case of an Algerian-born resident of Florida who was secretly jailed after the 9/11 attacks. He worked as a waiter in a restaurant that the FBI says was patronized by at least two of the hijackers.

'Two Loud Words' William Rivers Pitt finds it "frankly, amazing," that "Bush Knew" has fallen down the memory hole. Earlier: 'How all the president’s men buried Coleen Rowley.'

Send Up the Clowns Media Whores Online returns from hiatus with a special presentation announcing the nominees for its annual awards competition.

The Sacramento Bee's ombudsman says that "The Roger Ailes School of Twisted Journalism has managed to convince many readers and television viewers that 'fair and balanced' extends to opinion, and as a result strong editorial stances have devolved into glorified analyses in some newspapers." Plus: Twist and shout.

Packing It In The Washington Times reports that the Club for Growth PAC will begin running a TV ad in Iowa, in which a farmer and his wife suggest that Howard Dean "take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading ...Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs."

The Annenberg Public Policy Center's FactCheck.org, run by recently sacked CNN correspondent Brooks Jackson, came down on the Club for Growth's side, in its analysis of an earlier ad calculating the cost of Dean's proposed repeal of Bush's tax cuts.

Will the candidate with a quick temper be able to maintain his composure?

William Saletan's award for the biggest stretch in Sunday's Iowa debate goes to Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who said: "To change the subject as Howard does and to say that we haven't obliterated all terrorism with Saddam in prison is a little bit like saying somehow that we weren't safer after the Second World War after we defeated Nazism and Hitler." Plus: Political reporters are off to the races.

Newsday looks at the pre-trial PR push by "domestic arts expert" Martha Stewart.

January 5

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

In an article headlined 'Iraq's Arsenal of Ambitions,' the Washington Post's Barton Gellman writes that "investigators have found no support for the two main fears expressed in London and Washington before the war: that Iraq had a hidden arsenal of old weapons and built advanced programs for new ones."

Gellman, who co-authored an August article that debunked claims made by Bush administration officials about Iraq's nuclear weapons program, also writes that investigators "have found the former nuclear weapons program, described as a 'grave and gathering danger' by President Bush and a 'mortal threat' by Vice President Cheney, in much the same shattered state left by U.N. inspectors in the 1990s."

The San Francisco Chronicle reports estimates that from 7 million to more than 12.5 million Iraqis are homeless. The Coalition Provisional Authority got none of the $2 billion it requested for housing in fiscal year 2004, "a figure they estimated would meet about 7 percent of the overall need." Scroll down for more on what the UN/World Bank needs assessment said about housing.

Iraqis revive old word to describe new occupiers, and Web administrators at a U.S. military base in Baghdad ban access to Electronic Iraq.

Wired examines the 2004 Intelligence Authorization Act, which, with "little more than a single line of legislation... grants the FBI unprecedented power to obtain records from financial institutions without requiring permission from a judge." Plus: Radical politics meets file trading.

The Los Angeles Times reports on digital pirates driven by ego, not cash, whose goal is to be the first to post movies on the Internet, before they're officially released on tape or disc. Graphic illustrates 'chain of piracy.'

A three-judge federal court upholds Texas' congressional redistricting plan, rejecting claims that the redrawn map dilutes minority voting strength. A dissenter wrote: "Modern technology effectively allows a state to dictate electoral outcomes and to favor or disfavor a class of candidates by enabling extreme partisan gerrymandering."

Josh Marshall responds to what he calls the "increasingly brazen tendency for conservative columnists to label any critical discussion of neoconservatism as a form of anti-Semitic diatribe." Plus: 'Let's Play Simeball' and 'Smearing General Zinni.'

ConWebWatch announces 2004 Slantie Awards, for achievements in conservative media bias, and Ann Coulter maintains her lead over Paul Krugman for Lying in Ponds' most partisan pundit.

The ADL and Billmon weigh in on 'Howard the Coward.'

Juan Cole defends statements by Dean that the capture of Saddam Hussein had made America no safer and that bin Laden deserves a fair trial if he's caught.

Challengers question if Dean can win, in first radio only presidential debate since 1948. Hear, here, or read the transcript.

MoveOn.org "exposed a flank to critics waiting for an opportunity to discredit" it, writes Antonia Zerbisias, who finds it "laughable that, say, the mighty Wall Street Journal feels threatened by a little Web site run by six people in their homes scattered across the U.S."

White House spokesman Scott McClellan dodges a question about whether or not President Bush thinks his aides should sign forms releasing reporters from confidentiality pledges regarding the leak of the identity of Valerie Plame. Plus: Did they or didn't they know that she was undercover?

Slate's "Chatterbox" stumped by Laura Bush's 'whopper.'

Where the Boys Are The Village Voice's Cynthia Cotts reports on a Brown University study that found 72% of all books reviewed in the New York Times Book Review were written by men, and that 66% of all reviews carried a male byline. Scroll down for Graydon Carter's evolution from Spy satire to Vanity Fair hagiography.

A survey by MobyLives.com, found that in 2002, more than 75% of the writing that appeared in The New Yorker was by men. In this week's issue, men have 14 bylines and women have two.

January 6

Thursday, January 8, 2004

The Flog of War Jim Lobe reports that according to research conducted by the publisher of the Tyndall Report, the three major U.S. TV networks' evening news programs devoted a combined total of 15 minutes to global warming in 2003, 39 minutes to AIDS and 4,047 minutes to coverage of Iraq.

"Night after night the network television evening news is dominated by the situation in Iraq and the Bush Administration's dealings with that forlorn country," writes Ralph Nader. "After a while, it might occur to viewers to ask -- what about what's going on in America?"

"Democracy Now!" reports that a major inequality in health care billing is going on, with the poorest patients billed at prices many times higher than what insured people are charged for the same treatment, including an appendectomy patient who was charged five times what Medicaid would have paid. An audio-only segment asks: 'Are debtor prisons returning to America?'

International Monetary Fund report warns that rise in U.S. debt is global threat.

In a Christian Science Monitor op-ed, 'The myth of the populist stock market,' the author of "The Cheating Culture," says that at the height of the stock market boom, "the bottom three-quarters of American households owned less than 15 percent of all stock."

The Houston Chronicle reports on plea bargain negotiations involving Enron's former chief financial officer, Jeffrey Fastow, and his wife, a former assistant treasurer at Enron.

Conference on energy and air-pollution issues offers participants opportunity to "help Congress write its to-do list." And a four-figure gift gets Wisconsin donors lunch with legislators and with Oliver North, who reportedly commands a five-figure fee.

"How much does it cost to buy good will from George Will?" asks the New York Observer. "And what’s the going rate to get a bucking-up from William F. Buckley?" Plus: 'None of Our Business?'

According to an article in The Hill, Time acceded to a request from Donald Rumsfeld, that it not follow through on plans to make him its Person of the Year, instead, taking his suggestion that the citation go to "the American volunteer." The "volunteer" was not among the 19 possibilities mentioned by the magazine's editors, when the year-end issue was being publicized in November. Earlier: Pentagon gives CNN "big thumbs-up" on military analyst choices.

Agence France-Presse reports that when Rumsfeld was asked if there was a political agenda behind the Pentagon's decision to award troops a single decoration for the war on terrorism, instead of separate campaign medals for service in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said: "Not that I can imagine, no. This department is not involved in politics."

Rumsfeld said the decision "came from below... approved by the chiefs in the tank." But a Washington Post op-ed, written by two military analysts, claimed that it was a "politically inspired decision... ultimately taken by politically appointed civilians from the Bush administration."

Following up on the announcement by occupation head Paul Bremer, that the U.S. plans to release about 500 Iraqi detainees, the Los Angeles Times reports that the detention of "roughly 13,000 prisoners -- most of whom have not been formally charged," has "triggered intense disgust" among Iraqis.

The Daily Howler hunts down the source of the "neocon outing organized by Dick Cheney to hunt for humans," that David Brooks referred to in his latest attention-grabber. Plus: Making 'The Case for Cannibalism.'

The Washington Post reports that researchers involved in a study published in Nature magazine, say "global warming at currently predicted rates will drive 15 to 37 percent of living species toward extinction by mid-century."

Scroll down to read how the U.S. State Department flip-flopped, and is now asking Brazil to change its policy on fingerprinting and photographing American visitors. The city of Rio de Janeiro plans to sue the Brazilian government over the practice.

George W. Nixon? In a New Yorker profile, Howard Dean draws parallels between the Bush and Nixon administrations: "a tremendous cynicism about the future of the country; a lack of ability to instill hope in the American people; a war which doesn’t have clear principles behind it; and a group of people around the President whose main allegiance is to each other and their ideology rather than to the United States."

Howard F. Kennedy? Arianna Huffington calls the contention that Dean is not electable, "nothing short of idiotic," and says that the historical parallel to Dean's candidacy isn't George McGovern in 1972, but Bobby Kennedy in 1968.

Salon's Joan Walsh says "the MoveOn.org flap this week is a good warm-up for the ugly battle to come," when the Democratic nominee will be depicted as soft on Saddam and bin Laden "by GOP hatchetfolk, while the Bush campaign and its media echo chamber insist it's Democrats who represent the party of hate."

As The New Republic makes its choice for president, Gary Hart is reportedly considering a run for the U.S. Senate, and Rep. Katherine Harris is teasing a Senate run against 'Bush's Mr. Cellophane,' recently departed HUD Secretary, Mel Martinez.

Although CNN says that it will forego gavel-to-gavel coverage of upcoming celebrity trials, a Seattle columnist complains of waiting in vain to see CNN report on the latest American military deaths in Iraq, as "viewers were treated to rebroadcasts" of an interview with Kobe Bryant. Plus: Wisconsin man has beef with cable too.

January 7

Friday, January 9, 2004

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's "WMD In Iraq: Evidence and Implications," concludes that "Iraq was not an imminent threat, that UN inspections were working far better than realized, that our intelligence process failed, that officials misrepresented the threat, and, importantly, that war was not the best -or only- option."

'Media AWOL' Senate intelligence committee chairman, Pat Roberts, said in December that there might be public hearings on the WMD claims, beginning sometime in February. The Carnegie report and this weeks Washington Post article by Barton Gellman, should give the committee a lot more to work with says Bill Berkowitz, but "Will the mainstream media come along for the ride?"

An MSNBC article characterizes Secretary of State Powell's acknowldegment that he had seen no "smoking gun [or] concrete evidence" of links between Saddam and al-Qaeda, as having "reversed a year of administration policy." In response to Powell's assertion that the WMD "game is still unfolding," Josh Marshall says "Game, indeed."

Sidney Blumenthal describes an interview with the Washington Post as Powell's "valedictory note," and says that "His presence has lent the appearance there could have been another course, when on the important issues that has been proved an illusion."

Powell said "I don't do book reviews," when asked to comment about "An End to Evil," whose authors, Richard Perle and David Frum, argued in a recent op-ed, that it's "the soft-liners who are driven by ideology, who ignore or deny inconvenient facts and advocate unworkable solutions." Scroll to the bottom for a "NewsNight" interview with Perle and Frum.

David Miller writes in the Guardian about "information dominance," which he says is part of the U.S. government's strategy of "integrating propaganda and news media into the military command structure more fundamentally than ever before." Read the introduction to "Tell Me Lies," the anthology that Miller edited.

Nancy Snow, author of the books "Information War" and Propaganda, Inc., is "mad about... the BIG LIE that broadcasters keep throwing at us with their 'we're just giving the public what it wants' freedom cover."

NPR's Daniel Zwerdling reports on the difficulty of obtaining information about the roughly 9,000 U.S. troops that have been evacuated from Iraq because of injury or illness, and the head of Disabled American Veterans accuses the Pentagon of "severely restricting" the group's access to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. 

Billmon puts the brakes on a U.S. military commander's assertion about Iraq, that "we're on a glide-path toward success. We have turned the corner, and now we can accelerate down the straightaway." Plus: GIs in Iraq not up for re-upping.

Unconfirmed reports have a detained former aide to Saddam dead, and Saddam dying.

Following up on an article about Defense Secretary Rumsfeld declining Time's Person of the Year citation, CNN reports that when managing editor James Kelly met with Rumsfeld late last year, "Kelly said the troops were already in the running, but that Rumsfeld's unprompted comment helped tip the scale: 'In my mind, there were two leading candidates the American soldier, and the secretary of defense.'" But the American soldier was not among 19 candidates named by the magazine in late November.

A new survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors finds a steady rise in hunger and homelessness, with more than 80% of the cities surveyed having turned away homeless families due to lack of resources. Plus: "Now that there are more homeless people blogging," says The Homeless Guy, his work is done.

A Spanish-language TV ad opposing President Bush's immigration plan, asks viewers to call the White House and tell them that este plan es una pesadilla.

A New York Times article on President Bush's proposed ventures to the moon and Mars, says that his policy directives on immigration and space "would allow the president to be portrayed as an inspirational leader whose vision goes beyond terrorism and tax cuts."

When the moon plan was floated in early December, a Bush administration official said the president's "aides are promoting big initiatives on the theory that they contribute to Bush's image as a decisive leader... 'Iraq was big. AIDS is big. Big works. Big grabs attention.'"

Berry's World looks at 'Another Day on the Campaign Trail' for the Democratic presidential candidates, and the New York Times ignores Paul Krugman's proposal that political reporters not talk about clothes.

Peggy Noonan "would like to like" Howard Dean and David Brooks was just kidding about the neo in neocon being short for Jewish.

World's oldest cub reporter turns 75!

December 8

Monday, January 12, 2004

Josh Marshall calls the attention given to former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's claim that the Bush Administration began making plans to invade Iraq eight months earlier than previously reported, "an example of the common pattern by which open secrets only get discussed by the press once a prominent person states them publicly."

"The Price of Loyalty" jumps 1.5 million spots on Amazon's sales charts.

In an interview with Time, O'Neill casts doubt on evidence that Iraq had WMD, and also says that when he tried to lobby Vice President Cheney against additional tax cuts, Cheney said that "Reagan proved deficits don't matter. We won the midterms. This is our due."

Cheney told the Denver Post that he would support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and said of the Iraq war: "I can think of few times in our history where there has ever been so close a link between what our forces are asked to do overseas and our safety and security here at home."

The Washington Post reports that a study published by the Army War College, accuses the Bush administration of "taking a detour into an 'unnecessary' war in Iraq and pursuing an 'unrealistic' quest against terrorism that may lead to U.S. wars with states that pose no serious threat."

"It's time to be blatant," writes Ralph Omholt in the military-insider newsletter, DefenseWatch. "The US Military is getting desperate in Iraq." He describes a radical change of tactics that "return[s] to the strategies and tactics used in the Vietnam War" and "subtly betray the administration's worst fears -- that Iraq is becoming another Vietnam."

British Prime Minister Blair suggests that WMD may never be found in Iraq, and the Danish Army claims a possible blister gas find, with the discovery of 36 mortar rounds that it says seem to have been buried for ten years.

A letter writer takes the Star Tribune to task for publishing a photo of Saddam Hussein captioned: "Saddam's interrogation may be quite different from that of other Al-Qaida prisoners." (Scroll down to 'Don't let that lie in.')

A conservative talk-radio show host at a Clear Channel station in Phoenix, describes how his anti-war views got him relegated to "radio Outer Darkness." A boycott call decried the "leftist subervsive Bush-bashing rants" of "Charles Chirac Goyette."

The New York Times reports that President Bush is more focused on the presidential campaign than he's letting on.

Last week in Knoxville, Bush said: "I'm loosening up, and I'm getting ready. But there will be plenty of time for politics." A Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist writes that "One can only imagine what it's going to be like when this president begins to campaign." Plus: Respondents to Presidential Prayer Team poll plan busy year.

'Blanket' Coverage The Daytona Beach News-Journal's Mark Lane decries political commentary about what candidates are wearing: "These days, the media isn't covering the horse race, it's covering the horse blanket."

Scroll down to read Bill Moyers' interview with The Center for Public Integrity's Charles Lewis, about "The Buying of the President 2004." Plus: 'Bush takes on Soros.' 

The AP reports that during Sunday's Iowa debate among Democratic presidential candidates, "it seemed that a candidate's place in the polls dictated how often and sharply he or she was attacked...'I was beginning to hope someone would attack me,' said Sen. Joe Lieberman. No one did."

The Des Moines Register endorses Sen. John Edwards, writing that if he "wins the Democratic nomination, voters this fall would have a choice between two men who almost perfectly embody the rival political philosophies in America today." Commenting on his poll that puts Edwards at 13%, John Zogby said that "Edwards has picked up a lot of steam each night."

Trippi Interview Howard Dean's campaign manager accuses CNN's Paula Zahn of "trading on rumors," during a contentious exchange concerning what Dean actually said about President Bush and 9/11.

Grist reports on an exodus of senior talent from the EPA. A former agency official says the Bush administration is working on a master plan to get rid of the senior career staff, and another is quoted as saying that "With us goes the institutional memory of the agency."

Reuters initially reported that the EPA's top enforcement official was leaving "to become head counsel for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.", but later corrected it to "a lawyer for Sam's Club." Earlier: Worker-friendly Costco thrashes Sam's, bucks Wall Street.

As the U.S. shrinks its estimate of new jobs created in October and November, Canada reports adding 53,000 new jobs in December.

Group promotes displaying union label on blogs.

January 9-11

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Naomi Klein calls 2003 'The Year of the Fake': "fake rationales for war, a fake President dressed as a fake soldier declaring a fake end to combat and then holding up a fake turkey....But 2003 was about more than embracing fakery and forgery -- it was also about punishing truth-telling," and 'trashing the media.'

'The Wrong War' In a lengthy editorial, the Star Tribune argues that "The outcome of the invasion [of Iraq] and the reasons for it have always been separable questions. They need to remain that way."

Slate asks liberal hawks: "With the benefit of hindsight, do you still believe that the United States should have invaded Iraq in March 2003?"

In an article headlined 'Post Tramples Times on Iraq Weapons Story,' Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman tells the Washingtonian that the "The Bush administration misstated and exaggerated it pretty substantially." Plus: 'Bush's WMD case weakens further.'

The New Yorker interviews Ken Auletta about his article on the Bush administration's contempt for the press. "Fortress Bush" isn't available online, but a press release from the magazine and a New York Daily News column provide details, including President Bush's statement to Auletta that "No President has ever done more for human rights than I have."

Newsweek reports that the White House proposed granting an extension to the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks, if it would agree to release its report in December. But the offer was rescinded and the official policy continues to be opposition to any extension beyond the original May deadline.

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, Kevin Phillips argues that "the Bush dynasty's many decades of entanglement and money-hunting in the Middle East have created a major conflict of interest that deserves to be part of the 2004 political debate."

In a review of Phillips' "American Dynasty," the Washington Post's Jonathan Yardley writes that "Other than accumulating a certain amount of money and achieving a measure of what passes for aristocratic social position in this country, the Bushes have achieved nothing of distinction and appear to believe in nothing except their own interests." Plus: John le Carre directs anger at Bushes in new thriller.

Phillips talked about his book, excerpted here, in recent interviews with "Democracy Now!" and Rolling Stone, and in a speech at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

A "secret" document provided to "60 Minutes" by former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, was made public six months ago in response to a lawsuit by Judicial Watch. Dana Milbank notes that the Bush administration released sensitive documents to Bob Woodward, who wrote in "Bush at War," of "notes taken during more than 50 National Security Council and other meetings."

The AP reports that O'Neill "said that he did not mean to imply that the administration was wrong to begin contingency planning for a regime change in Iraq, but that he was surprised that it was at the top of the agenda at the first Cabinet meeting."

The world's largest small-arms manufacturing plant, and the only one used by the U.S. military, can't meet demand. Plus: Dover 'mortuary sees no let-up from Iraq war dead.'

Reuters has lodged a formal complaint with the Pentagon over the arrest of three of its staff members by U.S. troops in Iraq, reports the Guardian, which relays the unattributed claim that the three were "brutalised and intimidated." The U.S. military initially said they were "enemy personnel" who had opened fire on U.S. troops.

In 'The media vs. Howard Dean,' Salon's Eric Boehlert writes that "Suddenly, as with Gore in 2000, it seems Dean is battling not only his Democratic opponents and Republican Party officials, he's also wrestling members of the media's chattering class who view him with growing unease and even contempt." Plus: 'Newsweek's grand inquisitor.'

Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean's absence from the campaign trail is portrayed as a political liability for her husband, in a New York Times article that gives the sentence "She has never been to Iowa." its own paragraph and buries the one supportive quote. Plus: Wilgoren Watch on what was left out of Howard Dean "loses his temper" coverage.

The Media Channel reports on the ceremony announcing the winners of the "Bush in 30 Seconds" ad contest.

January 12

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

"Democracy Now!" hosts a war on terror debate between Paul Krugman and Richard Perle.

Perle's "track record would send most armchair generals limping back into private life. But that hasn't happened to Perle," reads a TomPaine.com op-ad. "He still has the president's ear. And not one interviewer has forced him to fully answer the conflict of interest charges."

An ABC News source -- described as "an official" and "the official" -- who claims to have been in the same National Security Council meetings as former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, confirms O'Neill's account that President Bush ordered the Pentagon in early 2001 to explore the possibility of a ground invasion of Iraq.

Billmon says the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998, which is being cited as proof that a military overthrow of Saddam Hussein was official U.S. policy when Bush took office, does not "by any stretch of statutory construction or right-wing imagination, authorize a military invasion of Iraq."

Whoasama! The New York Times reports that a document found with Saddam when he was captured "warned his Iraqi supporters to be wary of joining forces with foreign Arab fighters entering Iraq to battle American troops."

'Last Copter Out of Baghdad' Rick Perlstein looks at how the Bush administration's war aims in Iraq have become a casualty of the 2004 presidential campaign, and an unidentified reporter describes the bubble that CPA employees operate in.

After delivering a foreign policy speech, Rep. Dick Gephardt described Howard Dean's statement that Saddam's capture had not made America safer, as "ludicrous." But respondents to a Fox News poll are split, with 46% saying his capture has made America safer, and 46% saying it has not.

It's Sen. John Edwards' moment, says the Nation's John Nichols, citing the Des Moines Register's endorsement of Edwards, praise for his book "Four Trials," a "William Jennings Bryan-style call to arms" stump speech, and a focus on issues, including a plan to raise 10 million working Americans out of poverty. Plus: Edwards wields optimist's club.

The New York Times reports on a new study that debunks arguments for tort reform, with its finding that both the average price of settling class-action lawsuits and the average fee paid to lawyers who bring them have held steady for a decade. Earlier: Tort reform lobby and media accused of scaring the public to promote a reform agenda, and the conservative movement's well-funded attacks on trial lawyers.

Locations Disclosed A Portland TV station reports that since June, Vice President Cheney has spoken at 59 campaign or fund-raising stops, accounting for 76 percent of all his appearances outside the White House. (Scroll up for how to talk to the president.)

Novelist Stephen Elliot, who also writes a poker report for McSweeney's, does the 'Dennis Kucinich Polka' in Iowa.

Kucinich has enlisted the services of legendary adman George Lois to create his TV spots and posters. Plus: Did MoveOn.org judges pick a winner?

Dean supporters create postcards in response to a Club for Growth ad telling Dean to take his "left-wing freak show back to Vermont..."

One-year deal with liberal radio venture will put Al Franken on the air opposite Rush Limbaugh. Last week the Boston Globe reported on the challenges facing liberal talk radio and On the Media talked to radio talker Ed Schultz, who went from the right to the left side of the dial.

'Answer the &$%#* Question!' "Today it's a rare public soul who has not been media trained," writes Trudy Lieberman, who reports on the advice doled out by PR pros who command $4,000 to $10,000 per day to "teach the art of performing for the press." Plus: Reprising Diane Sawyer's greatest hit.

January 13

Thursday, January 15, 2004

The New York Times reports that the executive director of the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks, "a close associate of Condoleezza Rice" who helped formulate national security policy for President Bush's transition team, has been interviewed by the commission. "He has a huge conflict of interest," says 9/11 widow Kristin Breitweiser. "This is what we've been concerned about from Day 1."

Sen. Edward Kennedy called the Iraq war a "political product" marketed for electoral gain, in a speech in which he noted that President Bush "had nothing to say about Bin Laden or al-Qaeda" in his State of the Union address, less than five months after 9/11: "Why not? Because of an extraordinary policy coup. Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz -- the Axis of War -- had prevailed. The President was changing the subject to Iraq."

What caught Juan Cole's eye was Kennedy's allegation that the Bush administration is bribing other countries to send troops to Iraq, with the $1.5 billion a month that a Congressional Budget Office report said was unaccounted for: "That's an interesting idea... But I also wonder whether a lot of people inside Iraq aren't being bribed not to make trouble."

An AP article on an increase in the suicide rate among U.S. soldiers, also lumps Iraq in with the war on terrorism: "Meanwhile, about 2,500 soldiers who have returned from the war on terrorism are having to wait for medical care at bases in the United States, said Dr. William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs."

Sean Penn writes in the San Francisco Chronicle about returning to Iraq: "It's a compelling experience to have been in Baghdad just one year ago, where not a single Iraqi expressed to me opinions outside Baathist party lines, and just one year later, when so many express their opinions and so many opinions compete for attention." Part two: 'Getting out of Iraq even tougher than getting in.'

Penn was in Iraq at the same time as a delegation of military families. The Arizona Republic interviewed a member of the delegation, whose son was serving in Iraq. Penn also met up with the editor of Iraq Crisis Report, which recently ran an article on the difficulties faced by Iraqi men named Saddam.

'Two Murders and a Lie' A Reporters Without Borders report accuses the U.S. Army of "criminal negligence" in the deaths of two journalists who were killed when an M1 Abrams tank opened fire on Baghdad's Palestine Hotel in April. The report also charges that U.S. officials initially "lied about what happened."

The Washington Post reports that "Bush's new space policy had a partly political genesis, with presidential advisers saying that it emerged from a White House search for a bold goal that would help unify the nation before Bush's reelection race and portray him as visionary." Plus: 'The wrong leap for mankind?'

Appearing on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country," Florida Congressman Tom Feeney said "I think America is the only country with the moral capability and authority to establish what I consider a Monroe Doctrine in space, guarantee all free nations can use space, but no hostile nation will use it to take us over."

As a National Academy of Sciences committee recommends that the U.S. guarantee health insurance for every citizen by 2010, a survey of some 400 American companies, each with more than 1,000 employees, finds that 10% said they had eliminated subsidized health benefits for future retirees, and 20% said they probably would eliminate the benefits by 2007.

Letter writers slam a New York Times profile of Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean, but Maureen Dowd sees the profile and a People interview with the Deans, as evidence of an "unusual relationship." See the "startling picture" of Dean's wife that accompanied the Times article.

PressThink's Jay Rosen explains why he both loves and dreads the idea of individual media watchdogs adopting a reporter.

CBS signals that it may not run MoveOn.org's "Bush in 30 Seconds" ad during its Super Bowl broadcast. A spokesman said that he didn't think the ad would pass standards and practices, prompting the question: 'CBS has standards?'

American Politics Journal reprints hateful e-mails sent to comedian Margaret Cho, after Matt Drudge published remarks she made at the "Bush in 30 Seconds" awards ceremony.

Michaelangelo Signorile invites Drudge and Andrew Sullivan to respond to prophecies from Washington Times' publisher Rev. Sun Myong Moon, who spoke of "a purge on God's orders" in which "gays will be eliminated."

A media panel debates celebrity news, the Michael Jackson molestation case is described as the 'blob that ate media credibility,' and Newsweek reports on how Martha Stewart is spinning herself as homespun.

Recently filed tax return documents for Donald Trump's foundation, leads The Smoking Gun to brand Trump as "probably the country's least generous corporate baron."

January 14

Friday, January 16, 2004

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

Clarence Page alerts readers to "Citizen King," a new PBS documentary that focuses on King's "forgotten years."

Atlanta police used city buses to shield President Bush from protesters who resisted being moved to a designated protest area. More reports and photos from Atlanta's Indy Media.

"The Bush administration rather cynically made providing democracy in Iraq its fallback justification for an Iraq war," writes Juan Cole. "First, the primary justification, of weapons of mass destruction, fell through. Now the fallback position is creating its own problems, since from an administration point of view the Iraqis are taking it way too seriously!"

Cole also notes the "supreme irony" of the U.S. seeking U.N. help in defusing the crisis. The New York Times reports that "Secretary General Kofi Annan is said to be highly reluctant to give his blessing to what is widely seen as a jerry-built process in effect concocted to let the United States hand over sovereignty to Iraq by June 30, as the American elections get under way."

The World Socialist Web site's Patrick Martin says a recent Times' editorial that "whitewashes" Iraq, "is particularly reprehensible because it seeks to masquerade as a critique of the Bush administration's preparation and launching of the war." Plus: 'Powell's shrinking credibility on Iraq.'

'Who Gets It?' "The real division in the race for the Democratic nomination," writes Paul Krugman, "is between those who are willing to question not just the policies but also the honesty and the motives of the people running our country, and those who aren't."

Molly Ivins finds a new favorite "Bushism" to replace October 2001's "We need to counter the shockwave of the evildoer by having individual rate cuts accelerated and by thinking about tax rebates." She also refers to the president's "obviously bored and disengaged performance in Mexico"

The Council on Foreign Relations' Web site has foreign policy statements from major party presidential candidates, but nothing from a primary challenger to President Bush.

Slate picks the lamest press releases of the 2004 presidential campaign so far. Plus: Can Fred "The Mayor" Hoiberg help deliver Iowa to Sen. John Edwards?

Updated caucus coverage from the Des Moines Register, Daily Kos and The Note.

CNN's Lou Dobbs cites Matt Drudge as his source for an allegation that congressional testimony by Wesley Clark, in September 2002, proved that Clark had supported the invasion of Iraq. Scroll down to "New Low For Lou!"

Columbia Graduate School of Journalism launches "Campaign Desk" to monitor 2004 coverage.

A former employee of Kellogg Brown & Root, says she was sacked for doing her job -- monitoring the quality and safety of food served to soldiers at a U.S. military base in Iraq. Plus: Prison privatization takes hold in Iraq.

Chalmers Johnson writes that "If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases in other people's countries, but no one -- possibly not even the Pentagon -- knows the exact number for sure, although it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years."

As Israel's deputy defense minister backs off his statement that the founder of Hamas would be hunted down and killed, the Israeli government is reportedly considering adopting the name "Terror Prevention Fence" for its West Bank security barrier.

U.S. military lawyers criticize military tribunal in a "friend of the court brief" that states: "If there is no right to civilian review, the government is free to conduct sham trials and condemn to death those who do nothing more than pray to Allah." Plus: U.S. says Guantanamo teens staying put.

Secret service questions creator of "I Love Karl Rove!" Web site.

Mein Comic Dennis Miller bashes comparisons of President Bush to Hitler, but he was kampfing it up in mid-90s' jokes about then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

CBS turns down Super Bowl spots from MoveOn.org and PETA. "Our ad has all three of advertising's most popular elements -- sex, humor, and animals," said a PETA spokeswoman, "so the network should jump on it."

AP photo carries caption: "Fear of mad cow disease hasn't kept customers from eating the deep-fried cow brain sandwiches served at the Hilltop Inn in Evansville, Ind."

January 15

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

A Los Angeles Times news analysis of the Iowa caucuses, cites a poll finding that while Howard Dean ran ahead among those who said the war in Iraq was their most important issue, they represented just one in seven caucus goers. Slate's Chris Suellentrop writes that "In his final days in Iowa, Dean's campaign was about his campaign." More from The Note.

The New York Times reports that Secretary General Kofi Annan is signaling that he will accept a request to send UN experts to Iraq, but Fareed Zakaria warns that "It may be too little, too late."

Juan Cole says that one reason he's pessimistic that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani will back down from his call for direct elections, is because Sistani has gone to the streets: "He must have known that crowds will be hard to rein in if some basic modicum of his demands are not met, even if he himself is willing to compromise."

U.S. military officials in Kabul said they had no information about a raid in Afghanistan, that local officials claim killed 11 civilians, the majority of whom were women and children.

"The jury's still out" on whether Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, said Vice President Dick Cheney, during what USA Today describes as a "rare," 30-minute interview. He also said he feels badly that former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill "ended his career on this note." The Los Angeles Times says the interview was Cheney's first with a national newspaper in nearly two years.

"The Price of Loyalty" author Ron Suskind says that he plans to post online many of the documents that were given to him by O'Neill.

The Star Tribune editorializes that O'Neill's comments shed light on how badly the Bush administration messed up the war against terrorism prior to 9/11, with its focus on Iraq instead of al-Qaeda: "This was not, as administration officials now claim, a continuation of President Bill Clinton's approach; it was a sudden, radical change." Robert Reich says that if O'Neill is telling the truth, "there's serious doubt about the loyalty of this administration to America."

The Washington Post reports that President Bush and House Speaker Dennis Hastert have decided to oppose granting more time to the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks. Last week Newsweek said the White House had made, and then rescinded, an offer to extend the commission's deadline if it would delay its report until after the November elections.

The Post article doesn't include National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice among a list of Bush and Clinton administration officials that it says are likely to testify in upcoming public hearings. In December, Time reported that Rice was "arguing over ground rules for her appearance in part because she does not want to testify under oath or, according to one source, in public."

David Corn argues that it's "false advertising" to apply the term "special counsel" to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who was named to lead the probe into who leaked the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

FAIR catches Fox News' commentators condemning the "Bush in 30 Seconds" submissions comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler, while ignoring Ralph Peters' 'Howard the Coward' column in the New York Post, that compared Dean and his supporters to Nazis. Plus: 'Heil Hit-Slur!'

Economists for Dean accuses New York Times' ombudsman Daniel Okrent of trying "to whitewash their anti-Dean coverage." Plus: The White House script for reporters, and Dean tells news media to "get a new life."

An AP article on Sen. John Edwards erroneously reported that President Bush was "Texas-born." Although it was changed to "Texas-reared," many news outlets failed to note the correction.

The Washington Post looks at President Bush's unrealized promise to be a uniter, not a divider: "Republicans, and even some Democrats, say there is little that Bush could have done to restore civility... But it is also clear that Bush did not make his pledge to change the tone a top priority."

Salon's "War Room '04" flags an "extraordinary" conversation that Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie had with a St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist, during which he admitted that "Bill Clinton did a lot of bad things, but he didn't murder anyone."

Tools for analyzing President Bush's State of the Union address include a dictionary and viewers' guide from the Center for American Progress, and TomPaine.com's scorecard. Plus: 'Going for Broke.'

Northwest Airlines claims that its CEO was unaware of the company's role in a secret government study when he denied that the airline gave away passenger information. The documents on the study were obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Closed Shop  The New York Times reports on Wal-Mart's "highly unusual" policy of locking in overnight workers. "It's clearly cause for concern," said one retail consultant. "Locking in workers, that's more of a 19th-century practice than a 20th-century one." Plus: 'Working (Poor) in America.'

Claiming copyright infringement, Microsoft wants a Canadian high school student to give up his Mikerowesoft.com domain name.

January 16-19

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

'Threat of Terrorism' Charley Reese wonders why the U.S. declared a "war on terrorism" instead of just a war on bin Laden: "In the first place, there aren't that many terrorists in the world... In the second place, most of the world's terrorists are local guys with local beefs against local folks." Plus: U.S. said to have master list of five million terror suspects.

"21st-century phrenology," is how one privacy advocate describes an anti-terror database that it being built by NASA, using flight-safety records. "You might as well stick a couple of employees in a sub-basement and have them read tea leaves."

The Palm Beach Post editorializes that "the man who prides himself on leading the fight against terrorism has higher priorities" than getting to the bottom of the 9/11 attacks.

Conflater-in-Chief A Washington Post analysis of President Bush's SOTU address, quotes the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Joseph Circincione as saying that "nothing [Bush] said about the Iraqi programs a year ago has turned out to be true and he tried to avoid this with some clever phrases and merging the WMD issue with the liberation of Iraq and the war on terrorism."

David Corn says that Bush "continued his slippery ways" and a Baltimore Sun editorial calls on the president to "level with the American people."

Game Over Noting the speech's lack of the words and phrases "environment," "pollution," "natural resources," "global warming," "clean air," "clean water," and even "Clear Skies," Timothy Noah concludes that "Apparently Karl Rove has decided that the environment isn't even worth paying lip service anymore." Plus: ACLU says Patriot Act needs, fixing, not extending.

South Knox Bubba writes that "My favorite moment was when he said that parts of the Patriot Act would expire soon. This brought a round of applause from the Democrat side, and an angry glare in their direction from Bush." Scroll up to see how much the speech raised for charity.

Bring 'Em On Tom Shales says "the fact that Bush appeared to be so happy, so elated, so giddily primed for another political slugfest was a little bit disheartening, and even a little bit scary." Plus: Howard Dean goes guttural and Bush hits a wall.

James Ridgeway examines Wesley Clark's stance on lobbyists, the former School of Americas and the Patriot Act, and says that he's "cagey when answering questions on" the latter. Steve Perry finds it "hard to imagine that Clark is anything but Karl Rove's first choice for an opponent on the morning after Iowa."

As Clark 'enters the spin zone' and CNN's Lou Dobbs reads the script, an eBay seller offers a lower-cost alternative to Clark's argyle sweater.

Des Moines Register endorsement credited with lifting Sen. John Edwards in Iowa. The paper's editorial page editor tells Editor & Publisher that the choice was unanimous among the seven-member board. Slate's William Saletan says of Edwards' optimism: "I'm one of the cynical pundits who finds this message fake and meaningless."

Matthew Yglesias fact checks AP reporter and blogger target Nedra Pickler, who he says has invented "a new standard for honesty whereby a Democrat is lying every time his or her comments neglect to include literally the whole truth, whether or not the overlooked fact actually contradicts the claim in question."

The Christian Science Monitor reports on attempts by Japan's Defense Agency to mute media coverage of Japanese troops in Iraq, by asking journalists to leave the country and prohibiting the family members of military personnel from speaking to the press.

Guardian article claims "US-led coalition in Iraq is on the verge of bowing to Shia Muslim pressure for direct elections before the handover of power on June 30."

As thousands of Shi'ite Muslims march to demand death for Saddam, Iraqis interviewed by Reuters say that his U.S. backers should also be put on trial.

In an interview on "Democracy Now!", a Sierra Club legal director says that Wallace Carlin, owner of the camp where Supreme Court Justice Scalia and Vice President Cheney hunted ducks together, may be one of the energy industry people Cheney spoke with when he was forming the nation's energy policy. Plus: Who paid for those Gulfstreams?

Minnesota public radio talker picked as Al Franken's co-host on new liberal radio network.

January 20

Thursday, January 22, 2004

A Slate correspondent reports from Abu Ghraib on 'The Us and Them of Central Iraq.' He interviews Iraqis who were held at the prison there, and members of the city's police force, who he describes as being "stuck in the middle of the disconnect between the Americans and the local population."

Abu Ghraib prison is said to be the focus of an investigation into reported abuse of Iraqis detained by U.S. soldiers.

In an extensive package of articles, Southern Exposure magazine investigates "the new war profiteers."

Jim Lobe says that President Bush "appears poised to repeat" his father's political mistakes, following a SOTU address that "underlined how firmly his course has been set and how little he can or is willing to do to change it."

After toting up how many times Bush used certain words, Tom Engelhardt asks: "Can anyone doubt that it's a vision meant to scare Americans to death?"

Laying in State Likening the speech to the sham that Enron perpetrated on investors, Richard Cohen writes that "I didn't feel Bush had an obligation to tick off everything that had gone wrong about Iraq, but I didn't expect him to pretend that somehow the WMD allegations had been substantiated."

Party Line The speech contained the same line as a Republican congressman's op-ed from October: "dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations."

In an interview with NPR, Vice President Cheney repeats his "jury is still out" line about alleged WMD in Iraq, adding that "It's going to take some additional considerable period of time in order to look in all of the cubby holes and ammo dumps in Iraq where you might expect to find something like that."

A former Australian ambassador revisits the issue of the country's special forces jumping the gun in Iraq. They attacked Iraqi positions 16 hours after President Bush's 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam to cede power. Plus: 'Canada quietly supported U.S. Iraq invasion.'

Maher Arar, the Syrian-born Canadian who says he was tortured after being deported to Syria by U.S. authorities, who apprehended him while he was changing planes at JFK airport, is reportedly set to file a lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft.

On Wednesday, the home and office of an Ottawa Citizen reporter were searched by Canadian Mounties seeking the source of an alleged leak stemming from a story she wrote about Arar. An executive at the paper's parent company called the raid something "one might equate with the former Soviet Union rather than a Canadian democracy." More from Obsidian Wings, in part 16 of its series on Maher Arar.

The New York Times reports that an analysis of a Pentagon-funded system to allow soldiers and other Americans overseas to vote via the Internet, beginning with this year's primaries and general election, found that the system "is inherently insecure and should be abandoned."

A Pentagon report warns that existing testing data gives only limited confidence in the U.S. missile defense system, which is scheduled to be deployed in October.

In an interview with an Israeli newspaper, Prime Minister Sharon says he is "not about to resign" over the "Greek Island Affair" scandal. The article cites a poll finding that 49 percent of Israelis believe he should resign or suspend himself from office. Plus: 'Will Sharon be pushed into pensionhood?'

Israelis erect new settlement overnight, in secret operation designed to block what the Jerusalem Post calls "the widespread land grab by Bedouin."

Massachusetts cable access channel takes heat over proposed airing of "Mosaic," a digest of news broadcasts from Middle Eastern countries.

The Thin Man? Josh Marshall writes that while watching a New Hampshire town hall meeting with Sen. John Edwards, he "didn't have much question that Edwards would be the eventual nominee. He's that good... And yet, an hour or so later, after his presentation and after and Q& A, I had a bit of a hard time remembering quite what I was so dazzled by." Plus: 'Two visions of America.'

After the New York Times reported that during negotiations for an interview with Michael Jackson, NBC made a written offer to pre-empt a "Dateline" investigation of Jackson, NBC said "The proposed pre-emption was in no way offered as a cancellation of "Dateline's" investigative piece. Merely a scheduling change." Appearing on CNN, Michael Wolff called the scheduling change excuse "bunk." (Scroll to bottom of transcript.) 

January 21

Friday, January 23, 2004

"I don't think they existed," says former chief U.S. weapons hunter David Kay of Iraq's alleged stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons. "What everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last (1991) Gulf War, and I don't think there was a large-scale production program in the '90s."

Knight Ridder reports that when President Bush proclaimed in his State of the Union address that "the people of Iraq are free," he was fresh from discussing the prospect, based on a verbal report from CIA officers, that Iraq may be heading into civil war. Responding to a press briefing question from NBC's Jim Miklaszewski, the Commanding General of the 4th Infantry acknowledged that "we have to be aware of that potential."

On the day after Bush called for extending the USA Patriot Act in his SOTU address, the Los Angeles City Council became the 237th -- and largest -- local government to adopt what the ACLU calls a "pro-civil liberties resolution," urging a narrowing of the act.

Jane's Intelligence Digest reports that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is considering plans to target Syria by striking Hizbullah in Lebanon's Bekka Valley, where deploying U.S. forces "would almost certainly involve a confrontation with Syrian troops," which, "may well prove to be the objective..."

Republican staffers of the Senate Judiciary Committee "infiltrated opposition computer files," reports the Boston Globe, exploiting a computer glitch that allowed them to read secret Democratic strategy memos, which Democrats say were then funneled to reporters, including Robert Novak.

A group of former intelligence officers is pressing for a Congressional inquiry into the Valerie Plame affair. "For this administration to run on a security platform and allow people in the administration to compromise the security of intelligence assets, I think is unconscionable," said former CIA analyst and "registered Republican," Larry Johnson. Plus: 'Grand jury hears Plame case.'

The Washington Post reports that an 18-month investigation by the Justice Department into the leaking of classified messages intercepted by the National Security Agency just days before 9/11, is targeting Sen. Richard Shelby, who denies that he is the focus of the investigation. Shelby, who became a Republican in 1994, filed for re-election only a week before the new reports surfaced.

In the German trial of an accused accomplice of the Sept. 11 hijackers, a surprise witness has reportedly told prosecutors that the attack was a joint venture between al-Qaeda and Iran, an account that "looks a little bit constructed" according to one intelligence official.

Sixty-eight percent of Israelis don't believe Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's claim that he "knows nothing" about the bribery scandal for which he is under investigation. Sharon refuses either to resign or to explain his relationship with a real estate developer indicted Wednesday for paying roughly $700,000 to Sharon's son in an effort to obtain political favors.

Halliburton has fired two employees of its Kellogg Brown & Root subsidiary, that allegedly demanded and received up to $6 million in kickbacks from a Kuwaiti company for awarding work supplying U.S. troops. The revelation comes less than a week after Halliburton was awarded a new $1.2 billion contract to boost oil production in southern Iraq.

A Washington Post article fact-checks assertions made by Vice President Cheney during an interview with NPR, in which he said "there's overwhelming evidence" of an Iraq-al Qaeda connection, that "we've never had confirmation one way or another" on a link between Iraq and 9/11, and that semi-trailers found in Iraq provided "conclusive evidence" that Saddam "did in fact have programs" for WMD.

During Thursday's Democratic presidential debate, ABC's Peter Jennings asked Wesley Clark why he hadn't contradicted Michael Moore's characterization of President Bush as a "deserter," which Jennings called a "reckless charge not supported by the facts."

In a November 2000 interview with the Globe, then-Sen. Bob Kerrey asked of Bush: "If he is elected president, how will he be able to deal as commander in chief with someone who goes AWOL, when he did the same thing?'' And Sen. John Kerry addressing a 2000 election rally wondered: ''How is it that someone who's supposedly serving on active duty... can miss a whole year of service without explaining where it went?''

After the debate in which ABC's Peter Jennings called on Wesley Clark to distance himself from Michael Moore's characterization of President Bush as a "deserter," Moore wrote that "Pundits immediately went beserk," Factcheck.org told Moore to 'calm down' and a stumped Wolf Blitzer mumbled "I'm asking the questions here." More on the "deserter" from David Neiwert and The Daily Howler on 'Peter Jennings Missing Years.'

In an interview on "Democracy Now!", the author of "Secrets of the Tomb" discusses what Sen. John Kerry has in common with both George Bushes: their refusal to discuss their membership in Yale's highly-secretive Skull and Bones society. In a recent New Yorker profile, Joe Klein described young Kerry as looking like "the pre-hallucinogenic George Harrison."

A General Accounting Office report identified $443,000 in questionable USO expenditures on behalf of celebrities who were innocently but improperly treated to first-class airfare, booze and limousines, in violation of Pentagon and federal regulations. GAO investigators say they are unable to determine how much support the USO gets from the federal government.

Not mentioned in the article were USO performers Toby Keith and Darryl Worley. Last April, Worley gave a Pentagon performance of his song linking Iraq to 9/11.

Weeks after the Agriculture Department banned "downer" cows from the human food chain, three witnesses say the Holstein that tested positive for mad cow disease was not a downer after all, reports the Oregonian. Earlier, one of the witnesses told his story in CounterPunch.

January 22

Monday, January 26, 2004

In an interview with the New York Times, former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay says that the CIA and other intelligence agencies didn't realize that Iraqi scientists had presented ambitious but fanciful weapons programs to Saddam and had then used the money for other purposes.

"I think [this] is the real explanation for what happened," writes CalPundit, but "I don't think this absolves the Bush administration of anything. The CIA was indeed fooled, they issued guarded reports saying that Iraq had WMD, and the Bushies then cherry picked the reports and removed the qualifiers when they made public statements... There's plenty of blame for everyone in this fiasco." Plus: 'Cheney vs. The Truth.'

Syria denies Kay's claim, made in an interview with the Telegraph that "some components of Saddam's WMD program" may have been shipped to Syria before the war.

As the Bush administration requests a 7% increase in defense spending, Robert Higgs explains why the Pentagon's budget is bigger thank you think, and Ben Cohen uses Oreo cookies to illustrate just how big.

President Bush "is fusing Big Government liberalism with religious-right moralism," writes Andrew Sullivan. "It's the nanny state with more cash. Your cash, that is. And their morals."

Some Republican attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference wondered aloud whether Bush is conservative enough. "Bush Sr. jumped over the line and we had to whack him," recalled Grover G. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

'Davos Man Gets the Blues' Billmon sums up the mood at the World Economic Forum, gauges reaction to Vice President Cheney's speech, and blogs about blogs.

PressThink's Jay Rosen has more on the reaction to blogs among Davos' attendees, who are being discouraged from tying one on.

Sens. Patrick Leahy and Joseph Lieberman have written a letter to Chief Justice William Rehnquist, questioning the propriety of Justice Antonin Scalia's recent hunting trip with Vice-President Cheney, which was made at Cheney's invitation. Plus: 'Scalia's Misjudgement.'

Republicans are asserting that no laws were broken by staffers who exploited a computer glitch that enabled them to gain access to memos by Democratic Judiciary Committee staffers. A "fact sheet" distributed by C. Boyden Gray's Committee for Justice, says the documents were "inadvertently disclosed."

Democratic Senate staffers responded by observing that Judiciary chairman Orrin Hatch had called the breach of confidential files "improper, unethical, and simply unacceptable" after conducting his own preliminary probe last November. Meanwhile, federal investigators looking into the matter have reportedly seized a staff computer from Sen. Bill Frist's office.

While it was widely reported that Halliburton had fired two employees for taking kickbacks of $6 million from a Kuwaiti subcontractor helping to supply U.S. troops in Iraq, Reuters reported that Halliburton "declined to say the employees had been fired," and a CBS News report cited unnamed sources who claimed the two people "left before the problem was discovered and were not fired." (Video only)

When a Halliburton TV spot that is currently airing debuted in November, a critic found it reminiscent of Saudi Arabia's post 9/11 public image campaign and unique among U.S. contract holders, who "do not have TV spots ballyhooing their business in the Middle East." In a Houston Chronicle advert, Halliburton's CEO cites flipping omelets for troops as an example of a "special skill," not a "special interest." [scroll to bottom]

Military mental health specialists have been warned to expect high levels of psychiatric casualties among U.S. troops serving in Iraq, says a report in the Observer. Experts predict that one in five homecoming servicemen and women will suffer eventually from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Denver Post reports that 37 female veterans of the Iraq war, including many of high rank, say they were sexually assaulted by fellow American soldiers, and that some say they have been threatened with punishment for reporting what happened.

A study published last year in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that more than 75% of service women report some sort of sexual harassment during their service; 30% report an experience of rape or attempted rape, while 75% of military rapes go unreported. The Miles Foundation offers more stats on military rape and domestic violence.

Tom Englehardt unpacks the Newsweek poll which found Sen. John Kerry leading Bush by 49% to 46% percent, with 52% saying they don't want Bush re-elected. Englehardt also traces the "pummeling" of Dean back to "the moment of Saddam's capture when all the other major Democratic candidates collapsed in a heap of praise for the President."

Atrios flags a report that some voters in New Hampshire have been getting 4 a.m. robo calls purporting to be from the Dean campaign, which issued a statement saying that it doesn't call between 8:30 p.m. and 8:30 a.m and that "Our calls are made by respectful people, not droning machines." Plus: Bryan Keefer on the "cheap shots at Dean disguised as hard news reporting." (Scroll down.)

A spokeswoman for Sen. Kerry tells the New York Post that he's not backing down from his 2000 comment wondering "how it is that someone who is supposedly serving on active duty having taken that oath can miss a whole year of service without even explaining where it went." Plus: 'AWOL Bush: Debunked? Hardly!'

January 23-25

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

A report by the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks reveals that as many as eight of the hijackers entered the U.S. with doctored passports that contained "clues to their association with Al Qaeda."

Slate's Fred Kaplan says that most of David Kay's recent statements are not much different than what was in his report of last fall, but now that he has quit, "he can tell the same story—but without the smokescreen." Except, when he "continues to state that Iraq was a danger to the world, worth going to war against, even if not for the same reasons that Bush claimed." Plus: 'Mr. Cheney, Meet Mr. Kay.'

The AP reports that during Monday's press briefing, White House spokesman Scott McClellan "refused to repeat oft-stated assertions that prohibited weapons eventually would be found" in Iraq, Reuters notes that during a speech in Italy, Vice President Cheney "made no mention of earlier U.S. charges that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons," and a New York Times headline reads: 'White House shows less certainty now on Iraq's arms.'

In a new biography of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, an aide of his is quoted as saying that Cheney "waged a guerrilla war" against attempts by Blair to secure U.N. backing for the invasion of Iraq. More on the book and Cheney's dodging of WMD-related questions in 'War Issues Cloud Cheney Trip.'

A Times of London article said the book also details Cherie Blair's "displays of open animosity towards President Bush," which included picking a fight about the death penalty over dinner.

Speaking to reporters while in Austria, Attorney General John Ashcroft said that invading Iraq was justified even if no WMD are found there, because it eliminated the threat that Saddam might again resort to "evil chemistry and evil biology."

As Human Rights Watch releases its annual global survey, executive director Kenneth Roth argues that "The Bush administration cannot justify the war in Iraq as a humanitarian intervention, and neither can Tony Blair... such interventions should be reserved for stopping an imminent or ongoing slaughter. They shouldn't be used belatedly to address atrocities that were ignored in the past."

"Democracy Now!'s" Jeremy Scahill confronts Wesley Clark about his actions as NATO Commander during the 78 day bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

CJR's Campaign Desk joins the fray in 'Peter Jennings vs. Wesley Clark vs. Michael Moore vs. George W. Bush,' and David Neiwert asks: "Can anyone name any veteran who has been a major candidate for the presidency in the past half-century who has not released his military records?"

A Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist writes that "We who work in the news media owe Howard Dean an apology... We are responsible for a grave injustice." Plus: 'The Punch and Judy Dean Show.'

In a parsing of President Bush's SOTU address, The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg wonders if Bush was speaking ironically when he said: "For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible, and no one can now doubt the word of America." Earlier: E.J. Dionne on the 'four wedge issues' spelled out in the speech.

A Russian academic says that Bush's moon plan is more about resource harvesting than election-year politics.

A new Get Your War On includes the line: "So who does more STEROIDS -- Afghanistan or Iraq?"

Blogger Jesus' General has a suggestion for Fox News' head Roger Ailes -- a reality show "about a bunch of Americans living in Iraq... We could call it something like 'Occupied Territory' or 'Preemption House.'"

Sunday's 'Blogging of the President' radio show is now available online.

AlterNet removes article after author complains about "phony copy." Scroll down for AlterNet's reply.

A FAIR action alert details a "variety of contradictory excuses" that have been put forth by Dennis Miller and CNBC, in response to conflict of interest charges involving a consulting producer for Miller's new talkshow, who is also a consultant and fundraiser for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Get Real  The Los Angeles Times reports on the first death-penalty case to reach Schwarzenegger, a clemency plea from a convicted killer of four who faces execution in early February.

Federal judge takes first bite out of USA Patriot Act.

A Toronto Star columnist says the RCMP will come to regret its search of Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill's home and office, and the Globe and Mail reports on calls to review anti-leakage provisions in Canada's version of the USA Patriot Act, that were used to justify the raid. O'Neill said "I think what's happened to me is a dramatic example of why this is a wake-up call for people to look at that legislation."

'Documentaries eclipse dramas at Sundance,' with two of the more controversial being "Super Size Me," in which the director investigates America’s obsession with fast-food by eating only at McDonald's for a month, and "The Corporation," about which a reviewer wrote: "Noting that corporations are defined by law as legal persons, it shows how this person perfectly matches the criteria of a psychopath." 

Nathan Callahan imagines what Errol Morris might say in his acceptance speech if he wins an Oscar for "The Fog of War," his documentary about former U.S. Defense Secretary, Robert McNamara, who breaks his silence on Iraq in an interview with the Globe and Mail.

January 26

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

'Break Through or Die' William Saletan's post-New Hampshire handicapping includes a guess that "the military stuff will play big" in the southern strategy that Sen. John Kerry previewed on Tuesday night, "but the populism will bust." Josh Marshall lauds Howard Dean's speech, but thinks the campaign is "in desperate shape. And I think they know it."

Andrew Sullivan thinks President Bush is the one who's in trouble. He cites the passion of Dean's supporters as one example of how "thoroughly energized the Democrats are to win back the White House. Bush is in the Rove-Cheney cocoon right now. From the SOTU, it looks like he's going to run on 9/11. Bad, backward-looking idea."

The New York Times reports that the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks is seeking a deadline extension until at least July, "raising the prospect of a public fight with the White House and a final report delivered in the heat of the presidential campaign."

In a series of ambush interviews, "Democracy Now!" asked Democratic presidential candidates why they said Iraq had WMD. Rev. Al Sharpton and Rep. Dennis Kucinich are the only remaining candidates who consistently called the allegations into question.

Interviewing Kucinich, CNN's Wolf Blitzer wouldn't take go for an answer, repeatedly asking Kucinich when he planned to drop out of the presidential race, despite his claim that he's in it for the long haul.

David Kay tells the Washington Post that U.S. weapons inspectors found new evidence that Iraq quietly destroyed some stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons in the mid-1990s, and that the Iraq Survey Group's job is 85 percent complete, with the "major pieces of the puzzle" covered.

Joe Conason says that President Bush was "fantasizing again... about the circumstances that led to war," during a press conference in which he repeated the "weird statement" that Saddam didn't let in weapons inspectors.

The Financial Times reports that Vice President Cheney, in his first public response to Kay's comments, backed off the claim that Saddam had possessed WMD, but said "There's still work to be done to ascertain exactly what's there, and I am not prepared to make a final judgment until they have completed their work." Plus: Hawk presents Dove of Peace to Pope.

Jim Lobe speculates on the possibility of Cheney being dumped from the Republican ticket. Citing a New York Times article that described Cheney's recent flurry of interviews and his European trip as "a calculated election-year makeover to temper his hard-line image at home and abroad,'' Lobe writes that "what was remarkable is that he might only have confirmed the growing impression that he remains a zealot."

Lobe quotes "one prominent Republican activist, who thinks Cheney should be dropped," as saying, "I think he knows that he's in trouble. I don't think there's any other way to explain why he would sit for a puerile interview for the (Washington Post's) 'Style' section. You know he despises that sort of thing.''

Eric Boehlert reports on a new battle Cheney has provoked in the White House war with the intelligence community, by his touting of a Weekly Standard article -- that was disavowed by the Pentagon -- as definitively proving links between Saddam and bin Laden.

The Guardian and the BBC have extensive coverage of the Hutton report, which called the claim in BBC reports that the government "sexed up" its dossier on Iraq's weapons, "unfounded."

Daniel Ellsberg makes the case for leaking: "I have no doubt that there are thousands of pages of documents in safes in London and Washington right now -- the Pentagon Papers of Iraq -- whose unauthorized revelation would drastically alter the public discourse on whether we should continue sending our children to die in Iraq." He applauds leaker Katharine Gun for her "timely, courageous action."

Knight Ridder correspondents report that "Whispers of 'revolution' are growing louder in Baghdad," with many Iraqi's comparing the current situation to 1920, when Iraq revolted against British rule in what is remembered as "one of the most glorious moments in modern history." Plus: 'Iraqi self-rule splits White House.'

Down Is Up! List spoofing U.S. accomplishments in Iraq is offered up as evidence of progress.

"Michael Moore is crazy like a fox," writes James Ridgeway. "By calling Bush a 'deserter,' he got the big-time journalists -- horrified David Broder, incredulous Peter Jennings, outraged Robert Novak, nonplussed Tim Russert -- to openly raise the deserter issue before millions. It is now a political topic once again."

Moore says "there were 15 million hits this weekend on my website. Everyone who visited the site got to read the truth about Bush not showing up for National Guard duty."

An article about Neil Bush's embarrassing divorce papers, refers to other examples of troubled presidential siblings, including Richard Nixon's brother Donald, who took $205,000 from Howard Hughes in the hopes of opening a fast-food chain selling "Nixonburgers."

Labtop Four Sail The New York Times reports on a subculture of e-Bay users who troll auctions for products that are improperly classified because of spelling slip-ups, "buying items on the cheap and selling them all over again... but with the right spelling and for the right price."

January 27

Thursday, January 29, 2004

'Doing Business With the Enemy' "60 Minutes" visits the Cayman Islands and Dubai offices of a Halliburton subsidiary, as part of its investigation into how public companies exploit a loophole allowing them to deal with rogue states.

Anti-War for Oil? Baghdad newspaper report prompts investigation into possibility that politicians from anti-war countries, including France, took oil bribes to support Saddam. Plus: 'U.S. in no rush to privatize Iraq oil.'

The Independent also reports that roadside bombs, which have become the Iraqi guerrillas' most dangerous weapon, caught the U.S. Army by surprise. "I never heard of this type of bomb until I came to Iraq," said one soldier.

Cookin' Editorials An Editor & Publisher survey of the top 20 newspapers by circulation found that 13 ran editorials on David Kay's resignation and his statements about no WMD in Iraq, with "eight of the 13 -- most of which supported the war -- also raising the issue of White House deceit and its possibly blind pursuit of intelligence that fit its plan for war." Plus: 'Bad intelligence, but more.'

During a PBS' "NewsHour" discussion, Sen. Carl Levin said he saw "troubling evidence of exaggeration of the intelligence by the administration." Asked if he saw evidence of exaggeration or manipulation of intelligence, Sen. John McCain said: "This is a serious charge and I categorically reject it."

A Washington Post article on David Kay calling for an independent inquiry into pre-war intelligence, notes that National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to appear today on news shows, "in which she is expected to continue calling for more time to search." An aide to a Republican Senator said the White House strategy is to "just kick the can down the road."

A Center for American Progress chronology makes the argument that the "Bush Administration repeatedly and deliberately refused to listen to intelligence agencies that said its case for war was weak." Plus: WMD an overrated threat to America?

'Dump Cheney Now!' "The vice president pushed to slough off the allies and the U.N. and go to war partly because he thought that slapping a weakened bully like Saddam would scare other dictators," writes Maureen Dowd. "He must have reckoned there would be no day of reckoning on weapons once Saddam was gone."

Rudy Giuliani floated as possible '04 replacement, as campaign reprises 2000 theme.

The World Socialist Web Site's Patrick Martin looks at the French bribery probe of Halliburton's Kellogg Brown & Root, and asks: 'Will Vice President Cheney be indicted -- and will the U.S. media report it?'

Empire Notes' Rahul Mahajan says that while "Iraq is not the 'biggest' issue in the campaign, measured in gross terms, Iraq will be the defining issue, the issue the Democratic candidate has to get right..."

Trippi(ing) Point Salon looks at how Howard Dean managed to blow through almost $40 million and end up with an insider's insider as CEO of his outsider campaign.

Republican infiltrator manages to get named head of "Central Mississippians for Dean."

201k.com has a 'New England Primer': "I keep hearing people on TV say that John Kerry is 'aloof.' Why? Because he doesn't walk around in a flightsuit and a cowboy hat? Up here we call that "not acting like a jackass." (Scroll down) Plus: Bush campaign shifts gears for John F. Kerry.

Gene Lyons answers attacks on George Soros, including one by the American Enterprise Institute's James Glassman, who wrote that Soros is "emerging as a great threat not just to the re-election of George Bush, but to our truly open society as well."

Scroll down for a Los Angeles Times article on the Sundance premier of "The Hunting of the President," a documentary based on the book by Lyons and Joe Conason. In the film, Lyons says that supposedly sophisticated media folk were "taken to the cleaners by a bunch of junior college drop-outs from Arkansas."

An AP profile of Michael Moore airs critics' complaints and previews his upcoming movie, "Fahrenheit 9-11." Plus: Does Moore's 'deserter' charge hurt Democrats?

Slate's Timothy Noah looks at what he calls Jack Paar's supreme accomplishment: Finishing off the career of red-baiting gossip columnist Walter Winchell.

January 28

Friday, January 30, 2004

The New York Times' David Sanger depicts a White House in disarray over how to deal with the fallout from David Kay's testimony. He quotes a senior Republican leader as saying "They've made a pretty huge mess of it." Sanger sees only three options, none of them attractive: launch an inquiry (the outcome of which might prove damaging), go on arguing that military action was warranted anyway (keeping the issue alive) or admit that "something went badly wrong." Plus: 'Iraq war questions gain momentum.'

In an editorial headlined "Truth catching up To Bush," the Toronto Star's Haroon Siddiqui examines the effort to say that Bush never characterized the danger from Iraq's WMD's as "imminent," only as "grave and growing," and compares it to Clinton's argument that what he had with Monica Lewinsky was not "sex." How many different ways can you say imminent?

In the wake of an inquiry that cleared Prime Minister Tony Blair of improper behavior in the matter of the suicide of weapons expert David Kelly, a member of Blair's own Labor Party denounced Lord Hutton's report as a "whitewash." Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said that "We are still no closer to determining whether this country went to war on a false prospectus." A Telegraph poll finds that a majority of British voters agree that the report was a "whitewash."

Juan Cole reviews attempts to discredit Kelly on the basis of his conversion to the Baha'i faith.

A spokesperson for the U.S. command in Afghanistan says the U.S. military is "sure" it will catch Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar in 2004. At least seven American soldiers were killed in an explosion at a weapons cache 60 miles from Kabul. More than 100 U.S. soldiers had already died in Afghanistan.

The Financial Times reports that January has been "one of the bloodiest post-war months" in Iraq. Despite a drop in the number of attacks, 33 American soldiers have been killed by hostile fire in January, compared to 24 U.S. combat deaths in December.

This year's federal deficit will surpass a half trillion dollars for the first time, and the Medicare overhaul President Bush signed on Dec. 8 will cost one-third more than estimated, the White House now says, to the consternation of conservative Republicans in Congress.

David Corn dis-endorses Howard Dean over his hiring of Roy Neel to replace campaign manager Joe Trippi. Corn calls Neel, who left his job as the head of a group that lobbies for the telecommunications industry to join Al Gore's 2000 campaign, "the embodiment of the 'special interests' that Dean has assailed on the campaign trail."

The New Democratic Network's Simon Rosenberg says that Dean's "insurgent phase," which ended with the hiring of Neel, "also coincided with a remarkable rise of the Democratic Party."

"There's a new sheriff in town," said TruthOut.org's William Rivers Pitt, upon being hired as the national press secretary for Rep. Dennis Kucinich's presidential campaign.

"I never met Al Franken before. He is now my new hero," said a New Hampshire theater manager after Franken helped subdue a Lyndon LaRouche supporter who had already assaulted two security guards at a Howard Dean rally. The Hamster says conservative news outlets used the incident to launch a "smear campaign" against Franken.

Ann Coulter calls Sen. John Kerry "a cad and a gigolo living in the lap of other men's money... like some character in a Balzac novel, an adventurer twirling the end of his mustache and preying on rich women."

Pentagon adviser Richard Perle refuses to disclose how much he was paid for speaking at a charity event, billed as an effort to provide relief to victims of the earthquake in Bam, Iran, which may have had ties to an Iranian group on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Justin Raimondo says 'Perle Must Resign, Or be fired...'

Noting that "The Wall Street Journal lists Halliburton's billings at twice the total of 40 other contractors in Iraq," Lionel Van Deerlin observes that "Clearly, war is not hell for everyone."

The Center for American Progress examines Halliburton's "long record of overcharging the government," including billing the Army $85.98 per sheet of plywood that cost $14.06.

The Rainforest Action Network calls on more banks to follow suit now that Citigroup has responded to four years of protests by adopting "the strongest environmental policies yet of any private financial institution in the world."

Released from jail in Aiken, South Carolina, a man recently named to a senior diplomatic position denies some charges with a familiar ring to them.

January 29

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