February, 2005 link archive

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Le Figaro declares a winner in Iraq's elections, and the Los Angeles Times reports that President Bush was working the phones, in recognition that "spreading democracy beyond Iraq will be impossible without the support of European allies."

Fingered. Eric Umansky notes that in one Iraqi town voters have had their ink-stained fingers shot off as punishment for voting, and King of Zembla surveys reports suggesting that for Iraqi voters, 'the carrot was quite literally a carrot.'

A Newsweek effort at 'Unmasking the Insurgents' describes the "potent combination" by which "Zarqawi's people supply the bombers, the Baathists provide the money and strategy." The story mentions neighborhood "renunciation centers," where "those who get death threats must go to publicly proclaim they'll no longer work with any organization targeted by the insurgents."

Arguing that "the U.S. command in Baghdad still does not reliably know the composition of the insurrection," William Pfaff writes that "the unacknowledged factor" in the U.S. promise that the Iraqis will govern themselves is that "the United States is already unable to govern Iraq."

The loss of a Hercules C130 "is likely to cast a long shadow over celebrations" and may mean that "the rebels are far from beaten," says a London Times report, adding that "the implications of a possible missile attack are very serious for the coalition, which relies heavily on transport aircraft to ferry troops and supplies ... because the roads are regarded as too dangerous." Plus: 'Arab TV shows "shooting down" of British Hercules.'

A Guardian commentary, playing off a 1967 New York Times article headlined 'U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote,' says that "the echoes of this weekend's propaganda about Iraq's elections are so close as to be uncanny."

Shiite exit polls reportedly showed interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's bloc coming in third behind the Kurds, raising 'New Doubts About Allawi.' And Turkey warns that it "could not stand passively by if Kurds took control of Kirkuk."

'The Shiite Earthquake' Juan Cole writes that a Shiite-dominated parliament "will almost certainly move in two controversial directions" -- replacing civil law with religious law, and "a centralized government versus a loose federation."

With the votes being counted, the New York Times quotes a Shiite coalition leader as saying, "Believe me, the back-room dealing has already begun." The story mentions that Ahmad Chalabi is seeking a job in the new government: prime minister. Plus: 'Together, Again.'

The Washington Post reports that election security allowed Iraqis to vote despite a record 260 insurgent attacks, and quotes a U.S. official as saying that had Baghdad been secured after the invasion, "maybe they wouldn't have looted the whole [expletive] place."

With the combined war costs of Iraq and the "amazing shrinking asterisk" of Afghanistan said to be 'Closing in on Vietnam,' a memo from Defense chief Donald Rumsfeld supports restoring funding, cut by Congress, for completing a study of a new bunker busting weapon called the "Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator."

Reuters reports that U.S. troops shot and killed four detainees during a riot at Camp Bucca, the main prison camp for detainees, guarded by "recently arrived military police reservists" and touted as a "model for good conditions" after Abu Ghraib. Iraq's human rights minister is said to be seeking answers.

Highway robbery AP reports that four soldiers were fined and demoted for an Iraqi convenience store break-in, but that nine others alleged to have robbed Iraqis at a checkpoint were not prosecuted despite an "inch thick file," because "Army investigators could not find the alleged Iraqi victims."

Paul Krugman on Social Security privatizers' Catch-22: "any growth projection that would permit the stock returns the privatizers need to make their schemes work would put Social Security solidly in the black." Read about the playmaker behind Congressional Republicans' playbook on selling privatization.

State of the Union prebuttals from Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid, and a claim check on President Bush's previous SOTU addresses.

U.S. Justice Department puts $372,999 price tag on Freedom of Information Request by People For the American Way, regarding the decision to seal the records of immigrants detained in the wake of the 9-11 attacks.

A survey of more than 100,000 U.S. high school students found that 36% believe newspapers should get "government approval" of stories before publishing, and 32% say the press enjoys "too much" freedom. "These results are not only disturbing; they are dangerous," said the head of the foundation that sponsored the survey.

The Washington Post's Paul Farhi describes being mindered at an inauguration ball, one of "Several reporters covering balls [who] were surprised to find themselves being monitored by young 'escorts,' who followed them from hors d'oeuvres table to dance floor and even to the bathroom."

The Post is disputing a claim by syndicated columnist Maggie Gallagher that the paper retracted something it had written about her, and Media Matters responds to a column by the Post's ombudsman, concerning allegations that columnist Charles Krauthammer sat in on White House strategy sessions about presidental speeches. Plus: 'Mr. McBobo, the intellectually nearsighted pundit.'

Media Matters' monitoring of Sunday's cable coverage of the Iraq election found that Fox News heavied up on Republicans and conservatives. Fox has recently gone beyond its claim that "Real journalism: fair and balanced," is "why we're No. 1," with anchors now regularly saying it's "the only network for real journalism, fair and balanced."

The State of the Union is Strong! Cursor & Media Transparency would like to thank all of the readers who contributed to January's fund-raising drive. Your generosity, coupled with a matching grant, allowed us to raise the $15,000 needed to help cover operating costs over the next four months.

January 31

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

'Fear of A Shia Planet' The Village Voice's James Ridgeway considers the fact that Iraq's election "places into at least nominal power the first Shia government outside Iran."

As leading Sunni clerics call Iraq's vote "illegitimate," the Decatur Daily airs claims by Iraqi Christians that they were "prevented from voting both in Iraq and in the United States."

In an interview with the Financial Times, Hoshyar Zebari -- Iraqi's interim foreign minister and a leading official in the Kurdistan Democratic Party -- says Kurds are now the "arbiters" of Iraqi politics and hold the balance of power after the elections.

British MP George Galloway tells "Democracy Now!" that Iraq's elections were "a farce ... rigged ... flawed beyond redemption," and warns of "the Yugoslavization of Iraq." Galloway also discussed his victory in a libel case in which he "had to risk absolute and utter ruin" to combat allegations that he secretly took money from Saddam Hussein.

Dahr Jamail reports from Iraq that knowing 'What They're Not Telling You' about the election might cause one to "to view the footage of cheering, jubilant Iraqis in a different light." Plus: Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies on 'Reading the Elections.'

Jamail also weighs in on 'Life Under the Bombs in Iraq,' in heavily populated cities under attack by American air power.

Chaos Theory Saying it would be "complete nonsense for them to leave in this chaos," interim Iraqi president Sheik Ghazi al-Yawar suggested that "maybe by the end of the year we can see a gradual decrease in foreign forces in Iraq."

The Marine Lt. Gen. who told a panel audience that "it is fun to shoot some people," previously said "Let's not be naive" when refusing to apologize after reports of a wedding party massacre in western Iraq.

Israel's Attorney General has halted a government plan, first reported by Ha'aretz, to seize Jerusalem real estate holdings of Palestinians cut off from their land in the city by the West Bank separation barrier.

'Black Toy Down' TBogg reacts to reports that an Islamist web site apparently threatened to behead an action figure by naming the one hero who could save the day.

The London Times reports that the crash of a British C-130 Hercules Iraq on Sunday, raised "fears that the insurgents have acquired a deadly new weapon to use against aircraft" -- among the theories cited by The Sun in a story with photos from a video aired on Al-Jazeera. More analysis by Tim Ripley of Jane's Defense Weekly.

The War Against Toner Turf battles at Homeland Security have caused the department's investigative arm, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to operate "under severe financial crisis for more than a year," reports the Washington Post, "to the point that use of agency vehicles and photocopying were at times banned."

As President Bush prepares to deliver his State of the Union address, Will Durst provides 'Rules of the Game' and Merriam-Webster approves a new pronunciation.

The New York Times cites Democratic observers who call Howard Dean's apparent victory in his quest to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee a "fait accompli," and reports that Republicans are "somewhere between being delighted and amused." Plus: Usual suspects targeted for not responding to Iraqi elections.

Senate Democrats, reportedly firm in opposition to Social Security privatization, say they won't fillibuster Alberto Gonzales' nomination to be attorney general.

AP reporter Paisley Dodds, who broke the story about allegations that female interrogators were sexually taunting Guantanamo prisoners, details the findings of a report by U.S. military investigators who reviewed videotapes involving "Immediate Reaction Forces" at Guantanamo, including one that showed an all-female squad "traumatizing some Muslim prisoners."

Boston Globe columnist and self-described "war hawk," Jeff Jacoby, writes that "If this were happening on a Democratic president's watch, the criticism from Republicans and conservatives would be deafening. Why the near-silence now?" And a theology professor outlines four steps that he says "must now be taken to clarify that our government has truly abolished torture."

Sen. George Allen, who once defended the Confederate flag and hangman's noose in his law office as "mere decorations," is out front in efforts to re-cast the GOP as "the party of civil rights."

CJR Daily lauds a New York Times article airing teachers' concern about "the chilling effect that the anti-evolutionists in a few places are having on instruction in a lot of places," and, identifies a problem "Much less recognized ... but more widespread" than payola pundits: "the infiltration of the nation's op-ed pages by agents too clever to attract the 'payola' tag."

'Lobbing Softballs and Grenades' Media Citizen chronicles the "moving towards center stage" fight between Media Matters and Talon News, over the White House's credentialing of a Talon representative who describes himself as "A conservative journalist embedded with the liberal Washington press corps."

One-time "industry prude" Adelphia Communications, "has quietly become the nation's only leading cable operator to offer the most explicit category of hard-core porn," reports the Los Angeles Times, noting that Adelphia once dropped Spice because founder John Rigas "considered X-rated programming immoral." Plus: it ain't over 'til... the lawsuit's filed.

February 1

Thursday, February 3, 2005

After President Bush shifted rationale for private Social Security accounts in his State of the Union speech, abandoning his claim that they would help solve the system's fiscal problems, a GOP strategist told the Los Angeles Times: "Oh, my God ... the White House has made a lot of Republicans walk the plank on this. Now it sounds as if they are sawing off the board."

The Washington Post's Robert Kaiser cites a briefing to reporters by an administration official who revealed "that most or all of the earnings from new 'personal' or privatized accounts will be paid not to the holder of the account, but to the government." He refers to Jonathan Weisman's analysis of this "benefit offset" or "clawback."

Bush attributed "the most unpopular Social Security ideas" to Democrats, writes William Saletan, while encouraging Congress to rise above "partisan politics." Plus: Say hello to the 'birth tax' and the defecit in Bush's speech.

In 'Battered Women,' Benjamin Wallace-Wells writes that the career of Hilary Swank's character in "Million Dollar Baby," "traces the arc of the sport: What began as a few day-dreamy women in gyms, believing they could punch back as hard and as fast as some of the guys, has devolved into something very ugly, very violent." Earlier: 'How Dirty Harry Turned Commie.'

David Corn says "the most interesting political moment of the night" was when "Bush remarked, 'By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt,' Democratic legislators shouted, 'No, no....' It was reminiscent of question time in the British Parliament." Running for Congress in 1978, Bush warned that Social Security would go bust in ten years without personal accounts.

Responding to the notion of Republican lawmakers inking a finger purple to show solidarity with Iraqis, CNN's Lou Dobbs said: "It does make one wonder why there's any more required than 150,000 U.S. troops, more than 1,400 killed in combat, 10,000 wounded, to express solidarity with the Iraqi people." Plus: 'Ink-Stained Irony'

'Tangled Up In Purple' Slate's Dana Stevens notes that while some TV pundits initially thought the mother of a U.S. soldier had given her dead son's dog tags to the Iraqi woman she embraced, they had only "gotten caught on a button on the Iraqi woman's cuff" -- and "there couldn't be a better metaphor for our country's current position in Iraq." Plus: Republicans outnumber Democrats six to one on "Hardball."

In a commentary on the speech and the official Democratic response, WSWS says that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid "sought to drag in references to God, religion, family and values in nearly every sentence," while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's "major criticism of the Bush administration was that it had not spent enough on homeland security."

A report from The Hill calls Howard Dean's expected election as chairman of the Democratic National Committee 'the last nail in gun control' and cites one expert's opinion that the issue may return again in "a few years."

Former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker warns that the findings of his investigation into the U.N. oil-for-food program "do not make for pleasant reading," and CNN reports that according to State Department documents, the U.S. "knew about, and even condoned, embargo-breaking oil sales by [Saddam's] regime, and did so to shore up alliances with Iraq's neighbors."

Although Halliburton has announced that a controversial South Pars gas field project "would be its last in Iran," a columnist explains why the company "seems likely to remain in Iran through 2009." Plus: 'GE halts new business orders in Iran.'

As the U.S. Marines miss a recruiting goal and Congress is told of a National Guard recruiting shortfall, the Telegraph reports that "coalition" commanders in Iraq say the desertion rate among the 125,000 policemen and soldiers that they claim to have trained is "as high as 40 per cent."

Iraq's insurgents are "back with a vengeance following a post-election lull," killing 12 Iraqi army recruits, several civilians and two U.S. Marines.

Peter Galbraith says that the Kurds did their own "exit polling" during Iraq's elections, with an informal referendum in which "the tally was running 11 to 1 in favor of independence."

Trump card? The New York Times reports that a Sunni boycott of Iraq's election could spell doom later this year for a new constitution: "a two-thirds 'no' vote in three provinces would send the constitution down to defeat. The Sunnis are a majority in three provinces." An IWPR report quotes a Sunni cleric as saying that "we have the right to reject it."

"Mercedes Refugees" The Washington Post reports that of the 700,000 Iraqis who have swarmed into Syria since the invasion began, about ten percent are "senior Baath Party officials and other Hussein supporters," who "come and go with relative ease."

Chicago Sun-Times columnist and war opponent Mark Brown, says he's still trying to figure out what to make of the reaction to his column asking, "What if Bush has been right about Iraq all along?" As for Rush Limbaugh quoting from the column and complimenting it, Brown writes that "it pains me to give him succor."

Embattled professor Ward Churchill defends himself against "grossly inaccurate media coverage" of "what I actually said" about the 9/11 attacks, while Colorado Gov. Bill Owens accuses him of "pro-terrorist views." Alexander Cockburn writes that "Churchill asked people to accept the burden of reality. These days, that's a risky thing to do." Plus: 'Fox News Puts Me In Its Crosshairs.'

A Tennessee high school principal is said to have told Veterans for Peace and a Quaker group that while their "anti-American" and "anti-military" books, fliers and pamphlets "may be proper for adults," they are "inappropriate" for his students. Plus: Summer Camp for 'Christians in Combat Boots.'

Maureen Dowd offers a sneak peek at the Creation Museum currently under construction in Petersburg, Kentucky, and Doug Ireland surveys 'The New Christer Censorship.'

The AP reports on how a South Dakota business has survived legal challenges from politicians and members of the group, "Citizens Against Nude Juicebars and Pornography."

February 2

Friday, February 4, 2005

The New York Times reports that "less than a day after President Bush declared he was 'working with European allies' to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program," Secretary of State Rice said the U.S. 'Won't Aid Europe on Iran Incentives.' Plus: 'Rice talks language of diplomacy - but it has alarming echoes.'

Responding to partial results from Iraq's elections, a party leader describes a "Sistani tsunami" and says that "Americans are in for a shock," adding that "one day they would realize" that "we've got 150,000 troops here protecting a country that's extremely friendly to Iran, and training their troops."

Comparing "effusive coverage of the Iraqi election" in the U.S. media to "earlier examples of press acquiescence," Robert Parry warns that "the election may be just another mirage" and that "the military disaster in Iraq ... could be just a prelude to more catastrophes to come."

Norman Solomon finds 'Too Much Stenography' and 'Not Enough Curiosity' in Iraq media coverage, which tends to handle the contradiction "between democratic rhetoric and military occupation" by ignoring it. Plus: Karen Kwiatkowski on 'Those Unintended Consequences.'

'Operation Founding Fathers' "The U.S. military consistently downplayed its role as Iraqis went to the polls," reports Newsday. "But at least in Mosul, whether through physical presence or verbal instruction, the United States was the maestro behind a complicated and volatile experiment in democracy."

Reuters reports that at least 36 Iraqi policemen are missing after insurgents ambushed a large convoy, killing 2 and wounding 14 -- and that at least 12 civilians were killed across Iraq, some of them "singled out because they had voted." Plus: villagers fight back.

'Triage at Abu Ghraib' Authors of a New York Times op-ed describe "surreal" medical care under "hellish" conditions, from medically approved leashing, to "a surgical service without surgeons," in which "a dentist did heart surgery."

A Senate panel hears from Defense Deputy Paul Wolfowitz that "Iraqi Army units had absentee rates of up to 40 percent," and from a Marine colonel's e-mail that "they have been lying about their numbers in order to get more money ... They have no interest in learning the job, because right now the Marines are doing all of that."

Wolfowitz also stated that there is 'no nationalist insurgency in Iraq,' and Sen. John McCain said that "we went from a few dead-enders to killing or capturing 15,000 in the period of a year, and that's why there's a certain credibility problem here."

As the Senate confirms Alberto Gonzales as attorney general, King of Zembla salutes the six "pro-torture Democrats" who voted for him.

The Washington Post reports that President Bush, while "campaigning, election-style" for his Social Security privatization plan, and targeting three Senate Democrats for defeat, told a "mostly partisan crowd" in Fargo that he would never "play politics with the issue."

The White House said that a list of 40 people barred from attending Bush's speech in Fargo, "was apparently the work of an overzealous staffer," according to a city commissioner whose name was listed along with a number of university professors, a Democratic campaign manager and the producer of "The Ed Schultz Show."

"The president is finding hardly any Republicans in any of these states who are willing to go on the record in support of his plan," writes Josh Marshall. "This is why I would never make it in the news business. I woulda thought that'd be a big story."

Left I on the News poses 'Some simple questions on Social Security,' beginning with: "If Bush's plan is so essential to solve a problem of critical, time-sensitive importance, why does he propose to phase it in in 2009, after he's left office?" Bob Harris rounds up "fact checks" of the SOTU speech and Moving Ideas "reality checks" it.

Bush "came as close to a flat-out lie as Big Major Pols ever get" when he claimed that "By the year 2042, the entire system would be exhausted and bankrupt," says The Daily Howler. "But don't expect to hear such news from your nation's powdered 'press corps.'" Plus: 'Understanding The Bush Plan.'

"Was that purple ink" on all those fingers at the State of the Union, "or did Congress stir the purple Kool-Aid with its collective fingers?," asks the Toronto Star's Antonia Zerbisias. "And are Americans expected to drink it, the way so many swallowed the administration's lies about weapons of mass destruction that the media reheated and served up?"

Staff members at the EPA support the inspector general's contention that the agency "ignored scientific evidence" and bent protocols to bring limits on mercury pollution in line with the Bush administration's political agenda, with one staffer telling the Washington Post that "everything about this rule was decided at a political level."

Matt Wheeland surveys the field of global warming deniers who are nominees for the new Flat Earth Award, and notes that "the emphasis on balance in the mainstream media requires that all stories must have two sides, even if one side is made of 928 peer-reviewed science articles and the other is made up of a few industry front groups."

The AP reports that University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill's pickup truck was vandalized with swastikas, TalkLeft covers the melee at a university regents meeting, and a Rocky Mountain News editorial advises the regents on "what to look for" in Churchill's writings. Plus: Echoes of previous dissent at CU.

Following a run-in with state security agents, the chief organizer of a new Russian youth movement called "Walking Without Putin," tells a Knight Ridder correspondent that "We shall definitely keep our name. But for now, for the sake of the preservation of the movement, we might not directly mention Putin or Chechnya."

With emotions continuing to run high after Washington's governor's race, Gov. Christine Gregoire has reportedly received a death threat and her defeated GOP rival has "around-the-clock protection." Plus: James Wolcott gets Kinky with an early endorsement in another governor's race.

Doug Ireland flags a new survey that reveals increasingly conservative attitudes among college freshmen. One example: 61 percent of males surveyed believe that "there is too much concern in the courts for the rights of criminals."

Suggesting that a lack of respect for press freedoms among high schoolers may have something to do with their parents diminished opinion of the mainstream media, a Kansas City Star columnist says: "I blame Rush Limbaugh ... guys like Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Whining Bill O'Reilly have built careers denigrating the press."

Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, appearing on the TV show "Jimmy Kimmel Live," reportedly said, "I would put the Minnesota media in the same class as a pedophile."

February 3

Monday, February 7, 2005

The apocalyptic alarms that have been "going off since the beginning of one of the warmest Januaries on record ... all came together last week," reports the Independent, at a conference on "Avoiding dangerous climate change." Plus: 'Mired in denial, lost in the present.'

In 'What Bin Laden Sees in Hiroshima,' Steve Coll argues that "in focusing all-out on nuclear aspirants such as Iran and North Korea, the United States may be distracting itself from an even graver problem" -- citing the belief held among "a startling number of U.S. nuclear and terrorism specialists" that "the threat of a jihadi nuclear attack in the medium term is very serious."

Although Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani backed another top cleric's "surprise" demand that Islam be the sole source of law in the new Iraq, Vice President Dick Cheney said that he "doesn't see" an Iraqi theocracy developing.

"The Republican Party spin machine was bouncing around the airwaves like an overloaded washing machine on Sunday," writes Juan Cole, "attempting to obscure from the American public that they had by their actions managed to install a Shiite religious ruling class in Iraq." Plus: Cole vs. Jonah Goldberg, rounds one and two.

As new attacks by Iraqi insurgents reportedly kill at least 30, Left I on the News asks: "How on earth do you "misread" a report that says that 36 people were killed?"

Noting that the Iraqi election "was an Iraqi idea," The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg thinks that its apparent success may show that "the power of the democratic idea ... can even survive the fervent embrace of George W. Bush," and columnist Richard Clarke argues that it's "not the lack of democracy that produced jihadist movements, nor will the creation of democracies quell them."

'PNAC's Happy Warriors' Jason Vest, writing in The Nation, observes that the Project for A New American Century's call for rising troop levels to sustain a "generational commitment" in the Middle East did not include demands for "radical overhaul of the Army's command structure" or "reform of key Army personnel policies."

'Hunger for Dictatorship' American Conservative's Scott McConnell surveys Libertarian warnings to conclude that "the invasion of Iraq has put the possibility of the end to American democracy on the table," arguing that there is now "a constituency" for fascism, and that "when there are constituencies, leaders may not be far behind." And Bill Moyers contends that "the delusional is no longer marginal."

In 'The Abu Ghraib scandal you don't know,' Time reports on a New England Journal of Medicine article, whose authors last week charged that "the Army all but abdicated its responsibility to provide care to the thousands of people it kept in custody." Earlier: situational psychologist Philip Zimbardo on why 'You can't be a sweet cucumber in a vinegar barrel.'

Photos leaked to the New York Daily News showing U.S. military policewomen mud wrestling at Camp Bucca in Iraq, leave Army 'red-faced.'

The New York Times' ombudsman addresses the issue of reporters going on TV and appearing to speak for the paper, following Judith Miller's post-Iraqi election turn on "Hardball," where she claimed "the administration has been reaching out to Mr. Chalabi."

President Bush's new $2.5 trillion budget reportedly proposes to radically cut or eliminate 150 programs, a third of them in education, and would more than double the cost of prescription drugs to veterans. Plus: It's 'All in the Math.'

Bloomberg quotes Sen. John McCain as saying on ABC's "This Week" that while he supports Bush "in principle" on Social Security, "there's a number of members of the Senate and House who are not happy about President Bush coming to a neighborhood near them."

'Birth of a Salesman' A Washington Post story on Bush's stump technique reports that when a single mother told him that she worked three jobs, he replied, "Fantastic," and asked her if she gets any sleep. Plus: 'Lobbying war hits airwaves.'

The Post also reports on 'A Quiet Revolution In Business Lobbying,' through which "corporate groups now raise big money ... to help the Republican president enact his fiscal agenda" -- or "risk losing administration backing for parochial matters critical to their industries." Plus: 'Relations with that Corporation.'

With Howard Dean reportedly having a "lock" on the DNC chairmanship, columnist Robert Novak writes that Democrats are "concerned about the massive negative research" on Dean "stockpiled by President Bush's political operatives."

In an interview with the Rocky Mountain News, Ward Churchill called a university regents' resolution apologizing to America for his writings "ridiculous," and he told CNN that it is the "media sources that have me calling for the deaths of millions of Americans" who owe an apology. Plus: Jim Baumer on the silence of the left, and Kurt Nimmo asks: 'Is the Attack on Churchill Orchestrated by Neocon Fellow Travelers?'

Last August, speaking in Vancouver, Churchill discussed the development of his activism from "U.S. out of Vietnam," through "U.S. out of the Persian Gulf," to "U.S. out of North America, U.S. off the planet, and take Canada with you when you go!"

Doug Ireland recounts how Ann Coulter "finally found someone to stand up to her, in Canada" -- where a CBC reporter confronted her claim that Canada, which "used to be one of our most loyal friends ... sent troops to Vietnam." Coulter has also released a documentary on herself.

Paul McCartney delivers on "a guarantee that he'll be innocuous," and fellow travelers find work as tour guides in London.

February 4-6

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Noting that President Bush has submitted a budget "more than a third bigger" than the one he inherited four years ago, a Los Angeles Times analysis proclaims that "the era of big government is back."

'Breathtaking,' editorializes the Washington Post, which also reports that amid all the cutbacks in public health, funding would increase for sexual abstinence programs and double for apprehension of Army deserters.

'Spearing the Beast' "The attempt to 'jab a spear' through Social Security complements the strategy of 'starve the beast,' long advocated by right-wing intellectuals," writes Paul Krugman, adding that "the starving was on full display in the budget released yesterday." Plus: The 'Rentership' Society.

Needlenose drills in on an attempt by President Bush to explain his Social Security plan, after he told an audience in Tampa that acquiring "financial literacy" would be "a smart idea." Plus: White House not shooting straight about Fargo blacklist?

Reacting to news that a White House-ordered inquiry won't be assigning individual blame after looking into intelligence failures on Iraq's WMDs, Carpetbagger writes: "a White House launching a war under false pretenses, then covering up the scandal through a commission that promises to hold no one responsible for the debacle ... This is the era of accountability that Bush has ushered in."

A Washington Post article calls the awarding and subsequent revocation of Purple Heart medals for 11 Marines, "a final indignity added to the shattered bones, crushed intestines and broken teeth they suffered in a war zone." Plus: 'Army Bills 129 Wounded Soldiers.'

A federal indictment alleges that W.R. Grace and Co. "knew a Montana mine was releasing cancer-causing asbestos into the air and tried to hide the danger" in a case identified by David Neiwert as possibly being one of the "frivolous asbestos claims" denounced by President Bush in his SOTU address. Earlier: Mother Jones investigated 'Libby's Deadly Grace,' and a film documented the town's plight.

The authors of "An Air That Kills," recount how the Bush White House and others went to bat for Grace, preventing the EPA from declaring a public health emergency in 2002. Read an excerpt that depicts Sen. Conrad Burns in action, and, "Welcome to Libby! -- where 'You can walk the streets without fear of asbestos exposure!'"

'Fraud & Corruption' "If you think the UN's oil-for-food programme was leaky," writes George Monbiot, "take a look at the CPA's oil-for-reconstruction scheme."

A Financial Times report on post-election politics in Iraq quotes an official with Iraq's most influential Sunni religious organization, as promising to issue a fatwa "calling for an end to the insurgency if Iraq's new government set a date for the withdrawal of U.S. troops."

Post-election violence continues to surge in Iraq, as preliminary returns show interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's coalition slipping into third behind the Kurds.

"The battle for Iraq is far from over. It has merely entered a new stage," writes Tariq Ali in a Guardian commentary, calling media coverage of the elections in Iraq and Afghanistan "little more than empty spin." Plus: 'Turning the Corner.'

In a Foreign Policy in Focus report, Frank Smyth argues that Iraq's election results "are not likely to enhance American influence" and that "U.S. progressives could help Iraqis reach their goal by ensuring that a transfer of power actually occurs."

IPS quotes an Arab party leader in Kirkuk as saying that "this was not an election. It was a census." And after the Christian Science Monitor reports a relatively high voter turnout in Fallujah, called "probably the safest city in the country" by a U.S. Marine officer, the turnout is calculated to be "a whopping 5 percent."

As Israeli and Palestinian leaders vow that their people will end the violence against each other, a Palestinian cabinet minister who attended a working lunch with Condoleezza Rice was quoted as saying that the Secretary of State had paid "a public relations visit."

Probing the alliance between neocons and prominent liberals who are said to "share their idealism about America's global mission," Right Web notes that a recent call for increased overall U.S. troop levels "includes endorsement of key liberal analysts."

Regarding what it calls "the Right's systematic assault on the Black body politic," Black Commentator suggests that "for every outraged Black preacher howling that he's giving up on the Democrats because of the gays, there is a check or the promise of a check. And maybe a visit to the White House." Earlier: Bush 'Unfamilar' with Voting Rights Act.

'It Won't Be Science' Canadians respond to reports that conservative U.S. religious groups are spending "whatever it takes" to fight same-sex marriage in Canada, with one blogger warning that "they won't stop at telling us which Canadians shouldn't be allowed to marry ... they'll be telling us what to teach in our science classes." Plus: 'Canada or Bust.'

The New York Times previews a report by a Congressional agency calling for the appointment of "a high-level protector of refugees" after finding that many asylum-seekers are "treated like criminals ... strip-searched, shackled and often thrown into solitary confinement," with women and children "at greater risk of harm."

The formerly anonymous author of "Imperial Hubris" reviews the reviews of his book and concludes that he has "failed to stir any sort of substantive debate."

Jonah Goldberg's "punditry is empty," charges Juan Cole. "All he has to offer us is a party line and a strongly held opinion. Not all pundits are in this category. Goldberg is particularly unsubstantive."

Hard Corps Connection ABC News reports on cable companies that provide porn to consumers and political contributions to politicians "elected, in no small part, because of their stance on 'moral values.'"

February 7

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

The New Yorker's Jane Mayer, reporting on 'The secret history of America's "extraordinary rendition" program,' -- an estimated 150 people have been sent abroad to be tortured since 9/11 -- calls rendition "just one element of the Administration's New Paradigm." Mayer discussed her article on "Hardball."

Questions for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were vetted in advance of her speech at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, reports the Washington Post, with all but a handful of students "kept well away." Said one American student in attendance: "There was a lot of 'liberty.' It was liberty, liberty, liberty and freedom..."

In his column for The Hill, Dick Morris urges Republicans to draft Condi if they want to "stop Hillary," and Bill Berkowitz profiles Arthur Finkelstein, the GOP consultant/spin doctor who is 'Hunting Hilllary.' Plus: "a presidential campaign, an inauguration, a State of the Union address and now this."

Front & Center A suicide bomber killed 21 people at a recruiting center in Baghdad, bringing the death toll from post-election violence in Iraq to 168. A witness tells the Washington Post that it was the fifth time the center has been attacked.

Gunmen in Iraq also killed a reporter for the U.S.-funded TV station, Al Hurra, who was shot dead outside of his house in Basra.

After two sons of an Iraqi candidate were gunned down, Juan Cole wrote of "a looming danger for elected parliamentarians. They can't remain anonymous while serving in parliament, and the guerrillas will target all 275 for assassination."

'Hecho en Mexico' Arguing that "the Mexican imprint was written all over the recent Iraqi elections," John Ross reports that "Mexico played host" to scores of Iraqi election workers, who studied registration and vote-counting at a 15-day seminar "held behind locked gates at Military Camp #1."

'The Coming Clash Over Kirkuk' A New York Times op-ed says that "Washington sees Turkish military involvement as a looming possibility" and that the U.S. may find itself "forced to turn its military power" on the Kurds. Plus: Dahr Jamail with 'Stories from Fallujah.'

U.S. military academies see a fall off in applications, including one-year drops of 20% at the Naval Academy and 24% at the Air Force Academy.

New budget figures released by the White House reportedly indicate that in the coming decade the new Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost more than $1.2 trillion, three times as much as President Bush originally promised when urging Congress to enact it. Plus: 'Your Money or Your Life.'

Pandagon drills a billion dollar revenue assumption -- a potential dry hole -- in the Bush budget.

Karl Rove has been promoted to deputy chief of staff, a job that is said to "involve him in most White House policy and not just politics."

A new CNN/USAToday/Gallup poll finds 55 percent opposed to private accounts. Most popular solution polled: tax all the wages of the wealthy and limit their benefits. Plus: 'White House Balks at Submitting Social Security Plan,' and tour moniker grows in popularity but can't break through to mainstream.

A standing-room-only crowd at the University of Colorado applauded professor Ward Churchill when he said that "I am not backing off an inch" from his message that the 9/11 attacks were provoked by U.S. foreign policy. TalkLeft has more and Mickey Z. on 'What Churchill Didn't Say.' Earlier: Machinery manufactures dissent.

"A voice goes silent," with the resignation of Talon News' "reporter" Jeff Gannon, characterized by Media Matters as White House press spokesman Scott McClellan's "lifeline during briefings."

Letter from congresswoman to President Bush, asks him "to please explain to the Congress and to the American people how and why the individual known as 'Mr. Gannon' was repeatedly cleared by your staff to join the legitimate White House press corps?"

Announcing that he will not seek reelection in 2006, Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton said, "I do not believe that I am the best candidate to lead the DFL Party to victory next year," and that "I cannot stand to do the constant fundraising necessary to wage a successful campaign."

A GOP operative was sentenced to five months and fined for jamming Democrats' phone lines in the 2002 New Hampshire general election, and an operative loyal to Maryland's governor resigned after admitting he had spread rumors about the personal life of Baltimore's mayor, who has likened Bush's proposed budget cuts to the 9/11 attacks.

February 8

Thursday, February 10, 2005

North Korea claims to "have manufactured nukes for self-defense to cope with the Bush administration's evermore undisguised policy to isolate and stifle the DPRK," and says it's pulling out of 6-nation talks. Plus: "admits" vs. "claims" and Nicholas Kristof on why President Bush "isn't talking much" about North Korea now, and, the 'Hermit Nuclear Kingdom.'

Calling the Iraq invasion "the War of the Vanishing Raisons D'Etre," Harold Meyerson ponders what the U.S. will do next if it turns out that it was in effect 'Fighting for Islamic Law' and Iraq becomes "Iran-lite." Plus: Jonathan Schell on 'Iraq's Unpredictable Politics.'

The New York Times profiles Iraqi finance minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, "a witty, affable, French-trained economist" said to personify a secular vision of Iraq's future -- and to have been "a boyhood playmate of Ahmad Chalabi, a rival for the job of prime minister, and Ayad Allawi, who now holds the post."

Reporting the killing of 6 Iraqis and 4 U.S. soldiers, the Washington Post quotes a senior U.S. Embassy official in Baghdad, assessing efforts to defeat the insurgency, as saying that "I think this is going to take quite a number of years. I do not see an early end."

The AP reports that a car bomb exploded in central Baghdad "moments after an American military convoy passed," and that in Mosul, U.S. forces "raided the house of a high-ranking Iraqi National Guard officer and arrested four of his security guards."

A soldier's uniform in a noose dangling from a Sacramento rooftop, with the words "your tax dollars at work" scrolled across the chest, "has not gone unnoticed," reports KCRA-TV, "In a community full of patriotism." A critic of the display asks: "How about a picture of Bush next to a sign that says '1597 dead and counting...' or some such?"

As 'Saudis Gingerly Experiment With Democracy,' the Los Angeles Times cites an Arab political scientist who says that when the Bush administration "talks about democracy and freedom in this region ... people are not dumb, and the contradiction they see is just too stark."

A post on the Center for American Progress' blog, says that President Bush has "essentially kept silent on the Saudi decision to not allow women to vote in their upcoming elections," and that "we can either spread democracy or peddle hypocrisy; we cannot do both."

The U.S. House, with White House backing, is reportedly poised to pass the Real ID bill, touted as "disrupting terrorist travel" by banning driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, limiting asylum claims and mandating that the secretary of Homeland Security "waive all laws" to complete a border fence.

The New York Times reports that a previously undisclosed 9/11 commission report, which the Bush administration is said to have blocked from release for five months, reveals that while 52 FAA security branch intelligence reports from April to Sept. 10, 2001, mentioned bin Laden or Al-Qaeda, the report also "finds no evidence that the government had specific warning of a domestic attack."

Doughnuts, anyone? The FBI is reported to be looking for sniper rifles, scopes and ammo stolen from a SWAT van sent to Jacksonville to provide extra security for the Super Bowl, a "Level One Homeland Security Event."

The International Herald Tribune explores "the side of Brussels that President George W. Bush will probably not see" when he visits later this month -- a city where English is the lingua franca, but where an American accent has become a 'professional liability' because "there is this association." Plus: Secretary of State Rice is "afraid of a few French schoolkids?"

President Bush has reportedly nominated Lynn Scarlett to be the new Deputy Interior Secretary. Scarlett, a proponent of the "New Environmentalism," was the subject of a Clear Project report in 2001, when she made the jump from Reason to the Interior Department.

The Art of War The 93-year-old former host of "Kids Say the Darnedest Things," now fronting the United Seniors Association, calls AARP "the largest liberal lobbying group in Washington." Plus: 'How Dirty Harry Turned Commie.'

"What's going on here, Howie?," asked Wolf Blitzer, amid "growing buzz here in Washington, as well as over on the Internet, about a White House reporter some say was acting on behalf of a conservative group."

The sudden resignation of a 'Bush press pal' is not a story about lifestyle but about "acting as a White House shill," says MediaCitizen, "lobbing softball questions to Press Secretary McLellan and President Bush and posting, wholesale, administration press releases as 'news.'"

Interviewed on NPR, "Jeff Gannon" said that he had never worked as a journalist before receiving White House press credentials, but that he had "spent a lifetime of writing, none for pay unfortunately." Plus: Congresswoman calls for probe.

The legendary Jimmy Smith's Hammond B-3 organ will 'roar no more' -- the great jazz organist died in his sleep at 79, during an afternoon nap.

February 9

Friday, February 11, 2005

'Better Red Than Dead?' Eric Alterman runs the table on the stratagems used by mainstream media to "keep up the scripted charade," arguing that since "almost everything this Administration tries to sell to Americans is snake oil ... the mere act of reporting it without comment implicates the media in the fundamental dishonesty that is this President's modus operandi."

Jim Lobe hears 'Iran War Drums Beat Harder' in Washington, while a new report from a group called the Iran Policy Committee looks at a map and urges the White House to "pursue a policy of supporting regime change in Iran rather than military action."

"Democracy's global ambassador" The Nation's Ari Berman goes underneath a Washington Post headline "straight out of The Onion: "Iran-Contra Figure to Lead Democracy Efforts Abroad."

Counterpunch's Jeffrey St. Clair writes that although Congress eliminated funding for "bunker-busting nukes" in 2004, "such victories tend to have a very brief half-life," as evidenced by an obscure appropriations bill item for "something called the Reliable Replacement Warhead program."

Referencing Jane Mayer's 'Outsourcing Torture' article, in which she details the U.S.' "extraordinary rendition" program, Bob Herbert asks: "How in the world did we become a country in which gays' getting married is considered an abomination, but torture is O.K.?"

A spokesman for Britain's Channel 4 says a TV "reality show" called "Guantanamo Guidebook," that the station plans to air this month, seeks to "raise questions about whether torture is justified and if it works and what does it say about our values as a western society." Plus: 'Abu Ghraib and the mirror.'

The Washington Post's report on a Pentagon inquiry confirming allegations that female interrogators at Guantanamo "repeatedly used sexually suggestive tactics," rings the globe.

A Post analysis of North Korea's decision to up the ante in its nuclear stand-off with the Bush administration says that "So far, brinkmanship has worked well for the North Koreans ... Every time a red line appears to have been drawn, North Korea has crossed it without penalty."

The AP reports that a shipment of nuclear material lost by Halliburton in October was found in Boston on Wednesday, a day after the company finally alerted federal authorities.

Although President Bush's job approval rating has dropped to 45%, according to a new AP poll, "A bright spot for the administration was increased confidence in the likelihood of a stable, democratic Iraq."

During a day of carnage, as a car bomb reportedly killed 13 at a Shiite mosque in Iraq, and gunmen cut down 11 at a Baghdad bakery, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld visited Iraq, "observing Iraqi security forces in action."

A London Times correspondent, on a Baghdad ride-along with U.S. and Iraqi forces, writes that "I do not know what effect the Iraqi soldiers will have on the enemy, but they terrify me," a feeling echoed by a U.S. trooper quoted as saying, "I'm more scared of going out with these guys than clashing with the insurgents."

The Washington Post reports that "checkposts manned by insurgents have sprung up" southeast of Baghdad, where a number of Iraqi police (but apparently no insurgents) were killed in a two-hour gun battle that left nearly 20 cars burning.

'The Next President of Iraq?' Aaron Glantz says that the Kurds won't join the new government unless Jalal Talabani, who has had "one of Iraq's most colorful careers," becomes president or prime minister. More on 'Kurdish Aims.'

Knight Ridder reports that former Bush administration favorite Ahmad Chalabi is 'still a player,' citing an unnamed State Dept. official as saying that "the absence of an internal constituency is turning into one of his strongest assets."

After a federal jury convicted defense attorney Lynne Stewart on five counts of "providing material aid to terrorism and of lying to the government," the National Lawyers Guild condemned the verdict, calling it part of a Justice Dept. "campaign to deny people charged with crimes of effective legal representation" by "intimidating attorneys from providing zealous representation to unpopular clients." Plus: 'Free Lynne Stewart!'

No Spin Zone Although she considers Ward Churchill's 9/11 comments to be "patently offensive," Slate's Dahlia Lithwick says they were not hate speech or treason, and that "Firing him only now suggests that Bill O'Reilly, as opposed to his faculty peers, gets the deciding vote on who is allowed to teach our young people."

'L'Affaire Plame' timeline makes the case that a classified 2002 CIA memo about a meeting in which it was suggested that Joseph Wilson be sent to Niger, was leaked to "Jeff Gannon," who had been "planted by, and used to help, the administration."

The New York Times reports that two Democrats in Congress are asking the independent prosecutor in the Plame case, to investigate how "Mr. Guckert ... had access to classified documents that revealed the identity of Ms. Plame." The article notes that Guckert told CNN that he used the pseudonym Gannon because it was "easier to pronounce and remember."

CNN's Aaron Brown gets an earful from AMERICAblog's John Aravosis, who said "the larger question here for me isn't so what about this guy, is he a journalist or not but how did somebody get this kind of access to the White House and this kind of CIA information? I think the White House is behind this." Plus: Eric Boehlert, who appeared with Aravosis, on 'Giving "Gannon" a pass.'

"I asked a question at a White House press briefing and this is what happened to me," Guckert told the Wilmington News Journal. "If this is what happens to me, what reporter is safe?"

White House press spokesman Scott McClellan said that "in this day and age ... it's not an easy issue to decide ... who is a journalist" -- and that he had known previously that "Jeff Gannon" wasn't the Talon News rep's name. More on Gannon and the White House from MediaCitizen and Media Matters' David Brock, who was interviewed by the Guardian and appeared on Court TV.

King of Zembla ponders what lesson is to be learned from l'affaire Guckert, and Rigorous Intuition finds an answer in a previous scandal that "died one of the quickest and quietest of deaths." Plus: Dave Lindorff says, 'No Wonder Nobody Noticed This Guy! He Fit Right In.'

February 10

Monday, February 14, 2005

The counting of final election results from Iraq reportedly shows a likely razor-thin majority for a broad Shiite alliance in the new parliament, after "heavy Kurdish voting in the north and secular voting in Baghdad and Basra offset the alliance's sweep in most of the southern provinces," setting the stage for "protracted maneuvering."

An analysis by the Washington Post's Robin Wright cites observers as saying that the election's outcome, "a government with a strong religious base -- and very close ties to the Islamic republic next door," may be "the last thing the administration expected from its costly Iraq policy -- $300 billion and counting."

USA Today interviews Kurdish presidential contender Jalal Talabani, the Los Angeles Times profiles senior Shiite cleric and power-broker Abdelaziz Hakim, said to have been catapulted to power by the elections, and the Washington Post traces Adel Abdul Mahdi's path from prison to prospective premier.

The New York Times reports that Ahmad Chalabi, who is now "maneuvering to become the country's prime minister" only nine months after U.S. soldiers ransacked his compound, "has seen his usefulness in Washington ascend again."

With 'Post-election Optimism Ebbing in Iraq,' and insurgents directing a wave of carnage at civilians, the Independent reports that "training of Iraq's security forces ... is going so badly that the Pentagon has stopped giving figures" for the number of combat-ready Iraqi troops, who may number as few as 5,000 out of an overall target of 270,000.

Four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi general were among 11 killed Sunday as Iraqis prepared for another Ashura and Valentine's Day came under fire.

Tangled Up In Tape The Orlando Sentinel describes the plight of wounded or injured Iraq vets trapped in "medical holdover." They made it back to the U.S. but can't get home -- and they feel "more like prisoners than patients."

The New York Daily News reports that senior Pentagon officials ignored repeated attempts by military judge advocates at Guantanamo Bay to stop inhumane interrogations.

As Hamas and Islamic Jihad agree to hold their fire, Israel delivers bodies for burial, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas reportedly says that war with Israel is "effectively over," while Eric Margolis counsels caution and Gideon Levy bids 'Good morning to the Israeli left.'

Lebanon's former prime minister, reported to have resigned last fall after "a sharp dispute with Syria," was killed along with 9 others in a massive bomb explosion that left a "motorcade of bulletproof vehicles ... a burning wreck" in Beirut.

The Washington Post describes "a budgetary landmine that could blow up just as the next president moves into the Oval Office," thanks to what one analyst calls the "shadow budget coming in behind" the one submitted by Bush last week, with costs ballooning after Bush leaves office.

Appearing on "Meet the Press," Sen. Chuck Grassley said that "The president is a Professor Bush ... out there having a seminar with the American people on the problems of Social Security" -- after which, Rep. Charlie Rangel said, "I'm telling you now, Social Security reform by the president is dead, and he killed it." Plus: We have 'Nothing to Fear But Bush Himself.'

Columnist Ellis Henican, contemplating the fate of a conservative theologian who lost his job after officiating at his gay daughter's wedding, argues that 'When it's personal, the right veers left.' A possible exception: the daughter of Alan Keyes, reportedly "thrown out of the house."

The Los Angeles Times reports that members of the Association of Former Members of Congress were part of a paid lobbying campaign to declare Cameroon's 2004 election "free and fair," and that one "observer" later "signed his own lobbying contract with Cameroon, promising to show that the country was making great strides in human rights and democracy."

Analyzing the "standard demonstration election apologetics" of the U.S. media following the election in Iraq, Edward Herman cites instances of "internalized" media acceptance of Bush administration positions, and writes of one New York Times editorial: "Would Pravda have had the nerve to write something this brazen about Czechoslovakia in 1968 or Afghanistan under Soviet proxy rule?"

As CNN runs the same photo purporting to show nuclear facilities in both Iran and North Korea, "Democracy Now!'s" Amy Goodman tells AlterNet that with the U.S. media acting as a "conveyor belt" for official lies, "you have to ask if we had state media in the United States how would it be any different?" Plus: 'The News Is Broken.'

'Bloggers Nail Another Skin to the Wall,' as CNN news head Eason Jordan resigns over remarks he allegedly made about U.S. soldiers intentionally killing journalists in Iraq. Follow the links for more and scroll down for a debate on the relative importance of Jordan's resignation compared to the resignation of 'a man called Jeff.' Plus: New York Times accused of "lashing out at weblogs."

Conservative bloggers' brief against Jordan fails to mention the April 2003 revelation on CNN's "Reliable Sources" that won him a P.U.-Litzer Prize: "I went to the Pentagon myself several times before the war started and met with important people there and said ... here are the generals we're thinking of retaining to advise us ... and we got a big thumbs-up on all of them. That was important."

'The News That Fits' Southern Poverty Law Center profiles a "freelance writer" who believes that "efforts to accommodate minorities" have made the U.S. a "den of iniquity," and whose work is regularly published by her husband, the managing editor of the Washington Times, along with "articles taken from white supremacist hate groups."

Speaking at what was described as a "state funeral for black America," Burt Reynolds said of the late Ossie Davis, "He took a bad part of the South out of me. My heroes were a lot of John Waynes. I know what a man is because of Ossie."

In an appreciation of Arthur Miller, David Mamet writes that after telling Miller that a scene in "Death of a Salesman" reminded him of his relationship with his father, Mamet realized that "he has probably heard it from every man who ever saw the play." Terry Gross began an interview with Miller by asking if Willy Loman was based on his father.

In 2003, Miller told Esquire that "We have never, in my opinion, met up with this kind of an administration, which is extremely intelligent and has terrific control over the political life of the country." Other writers mourn Miller's passing, including Harold Pinter and theater critic Charles Isherwood, who says Miller firmly believed, "To sell out your brother is to sell out yourself."

In his autobiography Miller revealed what he called a "grotesque suggestion" relayed to him from the Pennsylvania congressman who chaired the House Un-American Activities Committee. On the eve of Miller's 1956 testimony he offered to drop the subpoena if he could be photographed with the newlywed Mrs. Miller. Plus: 'Why Miller Matters: Even if you missed his plays.'

February 11-13

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

With the Kyoto Protocol set to go into effect on Wednesday, a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed, arguing that "it is already too late to prevent global warming," warns that "rising sea levels and more weather-related disasters will be a fact of life on this planet for decades to come, and we have to get ready for them."

"We're going to turn up the heat on Syria, that's for sure," a senior State Department official tells the New York Times, "even though there's no evidence" linking Syria to Monday's assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut. Plus: 'U.S. withdraws ambassador from Syria.'

Lebanon's Daily Star reports that the assassination has thrown a giant cloud over parliamentary elections scheduled for May. And Robert Fisk, who "saw the blast wave coming down the Corniche," on 'The Killing of "Mr. Lebanon"' and 'R.I.P., Man of Silk.'

In a case pitting the U.S. government "squarely against its own war heroes and the Geneva Convention," the Los Angeles Times reports that the Bush administration has been fighting U.S. pilots in court, many of whom were tortured at Abu Ghraib prison during the 1991 Gulf War, to prevent them from collecting nearly $1 billion in compensation -- because "today's Iraqis are good guys, and they need the money."

Senior U.S. officers in Iraq tell the Washington Post that despite intensified efforts, "the long-term damage done to the insurgency remains difficult to gauge," with one U.S. general saying that "political outreach will have more impact on the insurgency than our military operations."

The Post also reports that President Bush's $82 billion emergency wartime spending request includes $5 billion to help the Army reorganize its divisions, quoting one analyst as saying: "Why this funding is in an emergency supplemental is hard to explain. It looks as though they want a bigger defense budget without admitting it."

Analyzing 'Bush's New Defense Budget,' Robert Higgs calculates that the Pentagon's $419 billion request notwithstanding, "the government's total military-related outlays in fiscal year 2006 will be in the neighborhood of $840 billion."

Reuters reports that interim vice president and Dawa Party leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari has emerged as the front-runner for the post of prime minister in Iraq's next government, while a Boston Globe article names Ahmad Chalabi as "one of three front runners" and quotes a U.S. official as saying, "I don't know that there is a more savvy political player in the world."

In her first post-election report, Baghdad Burning's Riverbend recounts a visit to Iraq's Ministry of Higher Education, where she was admonished to "Please dress appropriately next time you come here."

An interceptor missile didn't get off the ground in yet another failure for the nation's missile defense system. The AP report notes that the previous test, on Dec. 15, "failed under almost identical circumstances."

Crash & Spurn The New York Times reports on a new study of local political coverage that found big city TV stations "devoted eight times as much air time to car crashes and other accidents" than to campaigns for state and local offices. And in Seattle, 95 percent of newscasts examined carried no reports on Washington's razor thin gubernatorial race in the month before the election.

Losing the War Broadcasting and Cable reports that the same study found that network affiliate stations spent less time on Iraq war coverage than on "sports, weather, health, crime, injury, economy, 'other,' and even bumpers, teases and intro music."

Immediately after re-nominating several candidates to the federal bench, including Thomas B. Griffith, a man previously reported to have been "practicing law in Utah without a state law license for the past four years," President Bush said, "I've a constitutional responsibility to nominate well-qualified men and women for the federal courts -- I have done so."

Carpetbagger throws the book at moralist William Bennett, who apparently sees the virtue in being able to "secure a lucrative Bush administration contract ... one day, then turn around and offer 'independent' analysis of the administration as a political pundit the next."

In what the Washington Post calls "a rare breach of discipline," a former White House Deputy Director of the Faith-Based Initiative alleges that despite public promises, "there was minimal senior White House commitment to the faith-based agenda," especially the "poor people stuff."

David Neiwert surveys efforts by white supremacists to tie themselves to mainstream conservative issues -- and "a conservative movement that has in fact been moving in their direction in recent years." Plus: the Black Commentator on 'Black History, Bush-Style.'

'They Shoot Journalists, Don't They?' Commenting on the recent resignation of CNN's Eason Jordan, alleged to have said that U.S. forces targeted journalists in Iraq, an AlterNet article says that "credible reports of the killing, torture, and harassment of journalists by 'coalition' forces in Iraq have existed since the start of the U.S. invasion, and have been well documented."

Appearing as part of a "NewsHour" panel that included PressThink's Jay Rosen, David Gergen said that "there was a vigilante justice kind of quality here of people who were going after Eason Jordan not because of what he said but because of what he represented, and that is he represented CNN."

Salon's Eric Boehlert on '"Jeff Gannon's" secret life,' about which The Poor Man asks, "Think about it: what are the chances that a media whore like Gannon would turn out to be an actual whore?"

Columnist Denis Horgan publishes the transcript of a 'White House Briefing' not found on the official White House web site. Plus: In the Zone.

February 14

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Ibrahim al-Jaafari, reportedly the leading candidate for new Iraqi prime minister, tells the AP that "Islam should be the official religion of the country, and one of the main sources for legislation, along with other sources that do not harm Muslim sensibilities." Ahmad Chalabi is said to remain "a compromise candidate."

Juan Cole warns that Jaafari "is not a secularist" as he is being portrayed in some reports, and that a Jaafari defeat of Adil Abdul Mahdi, who favors privatizing the petroleum industry, would be "the second largest Bush defeat after that of interim PM Allawi."

AlterNet reprises a "Democracy Now!" interview with "Confessions of An Economic Hit Man" author John Perkins, who says the U.S. invaded Iraq only after the economic hit men failed to bring Saddam around "to a deal like the royal House of Saud had agreed to" -- and after "the jackals" were sent in to try to overthrow him. Read an excerpt from the book.

As 'Syria Feels the Heat' following the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, Russia announces its decision to supply Syria with advanced missile systems and Lebanon's Daily Star analyzes Moscow's desire to trade ideology for business in the Middle East.

Calling the U.S. response "striking in its speed and extreme bellicosity," the WSWS says that by Monday evening, the American media "was full of unfounded speculation that Syria was responsible for the attack, along with discussion about the possible retribution that would be meted out by the American government."

Following a report by the Norman Lear Center that documented an "incredible shrinking news hole" in major local markets, Sen. John McCain introduced legislation to tighten license renewals for broadcasters, saying that "If a local candidate wants to be on TV and can't afford advertising, his only hope is to have a freak accident."

After discovering that CNN ran the same photo purporting to show nuclear facilities in both Iran and North Korea, Brad Blog found that the photo -- labeled "Iraq-nuclear.jpg" -- was also used in a U.S. government-funded news organization's report on North Korea's nuclear program.

'Success' Story Left I on the News notes that after a CNN reporter observed that the Pentagon was batting .500 on tests of the missile defense system, anchor Miles O'Brien added a caveat: "Well, we should note that those five 'successes' all came when it was known when and where the missile would be coming."

Former president Jimmy Carter gets a Seawolf-class nuclear attack submarine named after him -- and a conservative blogger charges that "Carter isn't just misguided or ill-informed. He's on the other side."

A federal appeals court unanimously upheld a ruling that reporters Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time must reveal their sources in the Valerie Plame case or join the ranks of jailed reporters.

Both the Times and Miller, in a joint appearance with Cooper on CNN, noted that "the reasons that one of the justices gave for deciding against us are redacted ... censored from the ruling." And Slate's Jack Shafer, who thinks they should get a new lawyer, airs claims that no crime was committed in the outing of Plame.

The New York Observer reports that three CBS staffers who were asked to resign following "Rathergate," are still employed and have hired lawyers, as questions remain about the independent report on the networks use of the Killian documents. One legal expert is quoted as saying, "the report is unable to conclude whether the documents are forgeries or not. If the documents are not forgeries, why is the panel writing the report?" Plus: CJR on how the CBS report stacks up.

"Racial bigotry is like a virus ... it can quickly spread from the fringes into the mainstream," warns David Neiwert, who says charges currently being aired by conservative media outlets that immigrants are "spreaders of disease," parallel claims made early on in the campaign against Japanese immigrants, as described in his forthcoming book, "Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community."

Critics responded to the FDA's announcement that it will create a drug safety advisory board by calling it "a cruel hoax" and a "reshuffling of the deck," and by questioning the board's lack of independence, authority and funding.

'The Next Vieques?' Facing South reports that, after losing its bombing range in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Navy is training its sights on a series of locations in the rural South, where "resistance can be defused with appeals to patriotism or fear of losing military dollars."

Billmon lines up the pieces of the puzzle in the Gannon/Guckert correspondent/prostitute affair, while Nicholas Kristof looks elsewhere for 'Bush's Sex Scandal.'

'Governor, your suits look so beautiful' The San Francisco Chronicle finds even "the attack dogs" of California's media elite in full "marshmallow mode" with the state's top elected official, prompting Doug Heller of ArnoldWatch to say that "people who have spent their lives in the media business ought to have tougher questions for the governor."

February 15

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The AP reports that the winner of the United Iraqi Alliance's nomination for prime minister of Iraq, now a two-man race between Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ahmad Chalabi, will be decided by a secret ballot, "most likely on Friday."

Following his testy testimony before a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told a Senate committee that he couldn't rule out a permanent or long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq, calling it a matter for the president to discuss with Iraqi leaders.

Tom Engelhardt and Dilip Hiro survey the post-election state of Iraq, and America-in-Iraq, with Hiro forecasting "a strong prospect of a crisis in Baghdad soon after the inauguration of an elected government."

Media historian Phillip Knightley tells Danny Schechter that "there will be no investigations" into whether the U.S. military targeted journalists in Iraq. In an earlier interview, Knightley, a contributor to the anthology "Tell Me Lies," spoke about the military's "clear-cut victory" over the media in Iraq.

In a guest column for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Dahr Jamail discusses the filtering of news from Iraq, stating that "mainstream media reportage ... is being censured, distorted, threatened by the military and controlled by corporations that own the outlets."

Top national security officials told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the U.S. occupation of Iraq helps recruit terrorists, and that "our policies in the Middle East fuel Islamic resentment." Plus: President Bush's choice for national intelligence director called 'Unintelligent Choice.' Earlier: 'Death Squads, Dude.'

As 'All eyes turn to Syria' following the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister, whose killing reportedly may "reinforce a rare convergence of interests" as both France and the U.S. seek to "rein in Syria, albeit for different reasons."

As 'Critical Republicans Look to Cut Bush's $82 Billion War Request,' voicing concern that the administration was trying to "sneak through expenses as emergencies so they would undergo less scrutiny," Democrats in Congress, Sen. John Kerry among them, pledged to support it.

In 'The Hogtying of the Deaniacs,' Joshua Frank explains why he believes that Howard Dean's latest victory, "hailed by many as a huge feat for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party," is actually more like "a shot in the head" of Dean's most passionate supporters.

In a cloumn headlined 'A hireling, a fraud and a prostitute,' Sidney Blumenthal writes that "Inserting an agent directly into the White House press corps was a daring operation," while Daily Kos finds evidence suggesting that Gannon/Guckert was already in the White House press corps before Talon News existed.

"I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration," writes Maureen Dowd, "but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the 'Barberini Faun' is credentialed to cover a White House that won a second term by mining homophobia and preaching family values?"

"The errors of real news organizations have played perfectly into the administration's insidious efforts to blur the boundaries between the fake and the real," writes Frank Rich, and Joe Conason imagines the media explosion "if a male escort had been discovered operating as a correspondent in the Clinton White House." Plus: "... in regard to the now-vacant position of White House press corps plant."

The designated chair of the 2005 Young Republican National Convention in Las Vegas, the target of a criminal complaint for allegedly embezzling about $25,000 "to pay off bar tabs, personal loans and credit card debts," reportedly blames the "politics of personal destruction."

The New York Times tracks Interior Secretary Gail Norton on a 3-day snowmobile booster tour through Yellowstone, underscoring "the similar interests of the multibillion-dollar outdoor recreation industry and the current Interior Department." Plus: 'Mustang Sallies,' or, "wild horses, run for your lives."

Running with Scissorhands The Los Angeles Times reports that after President Bush said he was "open" to raising taxes on the wealthy to fund Social Security privatization, White House adviser Grover Norquist asked, "Should it make us nervous when somebody says, 'I would think about cutting off your fingers,' even if you don't think he really would? Yes."

Slate's Dahlia Lithwick reviews the arguments employed to defend "released-time" Christian ed programs in at least 32 states, which some parents say forces children to "choose between being evangelized or ostracized on public school time."

David Holiday assembles the highlights of a live chat from Baghdad with Newsweek's Rod Nordland, in which a participant said, "I've grown sick and tired of you 'politically incorrect' reporters. Why don't you have the gumption to call a spade a spade?" and Nordland replied, "OK, you're an idiot. How's that?"

February 16

Friday, February 18, 2005

As Iraqi Shiites marked Ashoura, eight suicide bombings bombings brought the two-day death toll to ninety-one people.

After interviews with top Kurdish leaders on their post-election "requested powers," the New York Times reports that the Kurd demands add up to "an autonomy that is hard to distinguish from independence."

'First, They Attack the Past' Urging journalists to smash the "one-way mirror" that he says is already inducing "historical amnesia" over Iraq, John Pilger recalls that "only 10 years after the Vietnam war ... an opinion poll in the United States found that a third of Americans could not remember which side their government had supported." Plus: 'Show Us the Bodies.'

An anti-malarial drug previously given to tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq is reportedly linked to paranoia and hallucinations, and non-combat deaths among troops are said to be on the rise in Iraq.

As President Bush tells Syria to get out of Lebanon, Bob Herbert asks: "If Syria is such a bad actor -- and it is -- why would the Bush administration seize a Canadian citizen at Kennedy Airport in New York, put him on an executive jet, fly him in shackles to the Middle East and then hand him over to the Syrians, who promptly tortured him?"

An analyst tells Lebanon's Daily Star that slain former prime minister Rafik Hariri "gave his strongest message in his death. International opinion was absolutely indifferent toward Lebanon. Now, the media is simply overwhelming us."

Billmon reviews the "unique set of skills" Ambassador John Negroponte will be able to call upon as President Bush's nominee for Director of National Intelligence. Negroponte was said to be "eager to leave Baghdad."

Negroponte will reportedly have 'Huge Burdens, Meager Authority,' with "no office, no staff, no budget," a Bush administration official tells the Los Angeles Times, adding, "He's not in the Cabinet. Are Cabinet officers really going to report to him on anything?" Plus: 'Democrats On Negroponte.'

The Washington Post reports on the increasing flow of young Muslims from Europe, recruited to join the insurgency in Iraq through an underground network operated by Ansar al-Islam, a group whose attacks are said to have resulted in over 1,000 deaths.

U.S. troops in Afghanistan destroyed photos of prisoner abuse "taken in fun" after photos from Abu Ghraib were made public, according to new documents released by the ACLU. Plus: A "Palestinian hanging" revealed in Iraq and a 'Detainee Blinded at Guantanamo.'

Rush Limbaugh and Mary Matalin are reportedly bound for Afghanistan next week, for what an unnamed U.S. official calls "a different kind of outreach." Their mission: "to get people to pay attention to all the good things we are doing in Afghanistan."

After it was revealed that "Jeff Gannon" appeared at White House press briefings prior to the March 2003 launch of Talon News, former press secretary Ari Fleischer spun back into action, telling Editor & Publisher that he quit calling on Gannon for about a week until Bobby Eberle, owner of both GOPUSA and Talon News, "assured me that they were not part of the Republican Party."

'The Early Years' Joe Conason on how Gannon/Guckert did the 'GOP's dirty work in attacking Tom Daschle,' and AMERICAblog airs a claim that the former Talon News rep was given advance notice of President Bush's announcement that the U.S. had attacked Iraq.

Following a "firestorm" ignited by President Bush's openness to a Social Security tax hike, Vice President Cheney reportedly told GOP activists that "we must not increase payroll taxes on American workers." Plus: Rolling on and off the table, and a 'Three-Card Maestro' shills for privatization.

The Boston Herald reports that White House aides collected empty chairs at a Bush appearance to obscure the fact that "only about half of the 2,000 free tickets were taken" -- and that some who did come "left shaking their heads" after hearing the president's Social Security reform pitch.

Writing in Mothering, Helen James argues that it is not too soon to start looking for ways to 'Help your peace-loving child avoid the draft,' while Molly Ivins says, 'Screw the Children.' Plus: 'Kids Say the Darndest, Most Stalinist Things.'

Nathan Newman concludes that Wal-Mart got "a real sweetheart deal" from the Dept. of Labor in a settlement over charges of violating child labor laws. The company is now said to be "free to violate the law at will" unless caught, in which case it has fifteen days to give back the money "stolen from its employees."

Left I On the News finds scant coverage of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's opening speech in Parliament on legalizing gay marriage -- despite the alleged importance of the issue in deciding the last U.S. election. Plus: 'When sexuality trumps family values.'

February 17

Monday, February 21, 2005

Following a Washington Post report about a Gulfstream used to transport terror suspects, Newsweek uncovers "further evidence that a global 'ghost' prison system ... is being operated by the CIA." The article notes that a German TV station, in advance of President Bush's visit, plans to feature the tale of a German car salesman pulled off a bus in Macedonia.

Although a Scotland Sunday Herald article may be overestimating the authority that John Negroponte would have as National Intelligence Director, it speculates that his nomination could signal a U.S. switch from invasions to covert operations and dirty tricks. Plus: Group eyeballs Negroponte and deputy.

A report that the U.S. is under 'Pressure To Rebuild Fallujah,' notes that the city recently experienced "its first traffic jam since the offensive. And in another sign of returning normality, Iraqis waited in miles-long lines for fuel, just like in any other city in this country." Plus: Main fear for drivers on Baghdad's airport road is now said to be "trigger-happy security contractors."

Iraqi insurgents have been conducting a sabotage campaign on Baghdad's supplies of fuel, water and electricity that has "reached a degree of coordination and sophistication not seen before," reports the New York Times, quoting Iraq's oil minister as saying, "they have succeeded to a great extent." An accompanying graphic shows the 'Pattern of Sabotage.'

The U.S. is 'Talking with the Enemy' in Iraq, says Time's Michael Ware, who describes a sit-down between insurgents and members of the U.S. military in Baghdad's Green zone. Ahmad Chalabi responds to the report on ABC's "This Week," and also blames U.S. policies for the guerrilla war, which Juan Cole calls "absolutely outrageous."

An AP article on 'Bush's Iraq Coalition Shrinking,' references www.mnf-iraq.com, where a "list of countries in the multinational force" was said to be "readily available" as of last week.

The Washington Post reports on plans by anti-war groups to use the anniversary weekend of March 19 and 20, "as the beginning of an all-out effort to convince the public that the best course for Americans and Iraqis is for the war to end and the troops to come home." Plus: Protesters set sights on Army recruiters and 'Activist nuns take aim at military companies.'

As Palestinian President Abbas suggests that Palestinians will "throw flowers on the Israelis" withdrawing from Gaza, "not stones," the New York Times reports that "Far-right Israelis are growing increasingly strident in the months leading up to the planned withdrawal of Jewish settlers..."

The Los Angeles Times details the 'Confessions of a Saudi Militant in Iraq,' who survived a suicide bombing and now appears in government propaganda videos being aired on state and private TV outlets in Iraq. And Fox News apparently doctored a quote by Sen. Hillary Clinton, changing "suicide bombers" in an AP article to "homicide bombers."

Salon's Michelle Goldberg goes 'Among the believers' at CPAC, where Rep. Chris Cox told the crowd that "We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and facilities to make them inside Iraq," Karl Rove pronounced conservatism the "dominant political creed in America," and the Wall Street Journal's John Fund repeatedly helped himself to bloggers' computers.

Conservative lobbying group chaired by Art Linkletter hires advisers to swift boat vets to attack AARP over its opposition to Social Security privatization.

"The GAO is sending a clear message to the Bush administration: shut down the propaganda mill," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, after the comptroller general warned federal agencies against the use of "video news releases."

Just days after saying he was through talking to the press, "Jeff Gannon" gave three -- 1,2,3 -- interviews in one day, was interviewed along with former boss Bobby Eberle, and also told Newsweek that he is "considering suing liberal interest groups, bloggers and others for a 'political assassination' that drove him from his job..."

Howard Kurtz, who complained that he "didn't go into journalism, frankly, to be looking at websites like hotmilitarystud.com," moderated a "Reliable Sources" segment on the outing of Gannon and the ousting of CNN's Eason Jordan. Plus: Editor describes difficulty in getting White House to play ball on day passes, and CBS News raises the possibility of a 'Rove-Gannon Connection.'

Predicting that "Gannongate" will turn out to be "Nothingate," The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg writes that "If Bush ends up having an easier time of it in his second term than any of his two-term predecessors since F.D.R., it won't be because the scandals aren't there. It'll be because the tools to excavate them are under lock and key."

The Bush family friend who secretly taped nine hours of conversations with George W. Bush between 1998 and 2000, said he never intended for the conversations to become public, but that it "all became unraveled" after the New York Times got wind of the tapes.

Read the last column written by Hunter S. Thompson, who reportedly committed suicide at the age of 65, or 67. In 'Fear and Loathing, Campaign 2004,' Thompson asked: "Where is Richard Nixon now that we finally need him?"

Feb. 18-20

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Ahmad Chalabi has reportedly dropped his bid to become Iraq's prime minister, throwing his support to Interim Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who must now be "approved by a coalition that likely will include the Kurds, and then ... by a majority of the newly elected National Assembly."

Riverbend of Baghdad Burning ventures into the marketplace and finds hope fading fast for a secular post-election Iraq, and no one registering surprise "that the same people who came along with the Americans ... are the ones who came out on top in the elections."

An attack on a medical team reportedly killed three U.S. soldiers in Baghdad, and insurgents target Iraqi barbers as Western-style haircuts become "crimes punishable by death."

King of Zembla rounds up allegations that the Pentagon is "cooking the death count" in Iraq, especially with regard to "green card recruits," and the Chicago Tribune reports on the 'unsung toll' being paid by U.S. contractors in Iraq, "at least 232" of whom have been killed.

According to Nick Turse, an inquiry into what didn't the Secretary of Defense see, "and when didn't he see it," may reveal whether the "new" Donald Rumsfeld has been 'Dropped from the Loop.'

Seymour Hersh becomes "the most honored individual laureate" in the history of the George Polk Awards, earning number five for his reporting on Abu Ghraib. Plus: 'Filkins' Fallujah'

A U.N. report paints a 'dismal picture' of conditions in Afghanistan and accuses the U.S. of helping to create a climate of "fear, intimidation, terror and lawlessness," with one official quoted as saying that "the country has a long way to go just to get back to where it was 20 years ago." More on 'The Real Afghanistan.'

Claims by Scott Ritter that President Bush "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and that the U.S. manipulated Iraqi election results, find few takers. Earlier: Watch Richard Perle get shoed on stage.

President Bush reportedly called a spud a French fry at a working dinner in Brussels with French President Jacques Chirac, after receiving "warm but not enthusiastic applause" for his speech.

"This is the first dinner since I've been re-elected on European soil," said Bush, "and it's with Jacques Chirac. And that ought to say something." Last week Bill O'Reilly asked, "When is enough enough, ladies and gentlemen?," as he renewed his call to boycott France, because "Jacques Chirac won't call Hezbollah terrorists."

"It is now possible to contemplate, and openly speculate about," the 'Collapse of the American Empire,' argues Kirkpatrick Sale, based on four measures: environmental degradation, economic meltdown, military overstretch and domestic dissent/upheaval.

The Washington Post traces the history of the current battle over Social Security privatization, from its obscure origin as "the craziest idea in the world" to its place "at the top of President Bush's domestic agenda." Plus: Paul Krugman launches pre-emptive strike on 'Wag-the-Dog Protection.'

As the Swift Boat advisers attempt to dynamite the AARP over its opposition to privatization, as part of what Molly Ivins calls 'The $200 million disinformation campaign,' Bull Moose wonders, "What's next -- a Regnery book titled "Unfit to Age?"

Conservative groups denounce Thomas Jefferson as an "enemy of the gospel" and alert parents to cross-dressing and transgender themes in a movie said to be "billed as harmless entertainment."

PowerLine apologizes for a not-so-"Minnesota nice" e-mail sent to a fellow Blue-state blog.

Reviewing the Gannon/Guckert story, Danny Schechter writes that after "Helen Thomas and hard questions were frozen out, deference became the order of the day," but he still wants to know, "Where was the rest of the press corps(e) while all this was going on for TWO YEARS?"

Hunter S. Thompson is remembered by Ralph Steadman, as well as the Pitkin County Commissioner, who tells the Aspen Times, "The guy used to call me at 3 a.m. and talk about land use."

William Rivers Pitt writes that Thompson "was a flawed man, a maniac, in so many ways the antithesis of what a journalist is supposed to be. Worst of all, he told the truth."

Interviewed in 2003, Thompson said: "I try to be more accurate than other journalists, which is not that difficult. You have to distinguish between what happened and what the situation was." Plus: 'The Thompson Style.'

In an extract from his book, "Kingdom of Fear," Thompson wrote: "I am the one who speaks for the spirit of freedom and decency in you" -- unlike "these flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid rich kids like George Bush ... who ... speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character."

February 21

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

'Inside' Information Tiny Revolution explicates a portion of Rep. Chris Cox's speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, in which he said that "We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and the facilities to make them inside of Iraq."

A new Harris poll finds a significant increase since November in the percentage of people who believe that Saddam Hussein planned and supported, and Iraqis helped carry out, the 9/11 attacks, while a new Zogby poll finds evidence of "war fatigue" and strong opposition to sending troops into Iran or North Korea.

After declaring in Brussels that "this notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous," President Bush reportedly "elicited laughter" when he added, "having said that, all options are on the table." Plus: 'Why Europe Ignores Bush.'

After France agreed to contribute a single military officer to help train Iraqi military police outside Iraq, a senior Bush administration official was quoted as saying that "We're very pleased that we have not only unity in theory, but ... unity of purpose." More on the French contribution.

Spiegel reports that a Town Hall meeting, said to have been intended as the "main highlight" of Bush's visit to Germany, has disappeared from the schedule after German officials were "unwilling to permit a scripted event with questions approved in advance." Plus: 'Neocons fret over tilt to Europe.'

The Los Angeles Times cites China experts as saying that a disagreement aired in Brussels over lifting a ban on weapons sales to China "is not all political symbolism" and "really does have the potential to blow up into another U.S.-Europe crisis."

'The Dragon Chases Oil' David Morris argues that "China has become a far more formidable economic competitor than it ever was as an ideological opponent."

A Pentagon spokesman offered this clarification after Time reported that U.S. military officials have been negotiating directly with insurgency leaders in Iraq: it is Iraqi officials who are "reaching out" to insurgents, "negotiations aren't for the United States to conduct, and to my knowledge, we're not conducting negotiations."

Jim Lobe, calling Ibrahim al-Jaafari's emergence as Iraq's likely next prime minister 'A Win for Administration Pragmatists,' writes that a U.S. assessment that its offensives against Najaf and Fallujah "may have succeeded only in dispersing the rebels and moving Iraq closer to civil war ... appears to have been behind the recent contacts."

Knight Ridder notes that "al-Jaafari's term would last only until the end of the year, when Iraq is scheduled to hold new elections," and describes him as a man who "speaks in a whisper while barely moving his lips, and shuts his eyes often during conversation." Juan Cole comments on a "minor tiff" involving al-Jaafari and Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Although Ahmad Chalabi will not be the new prime minister, he is still reported to be a political winner in Iraq, and said to be "expected to take over a senior ministry -- possibly defense or finance," and Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is not going down without a fight.

After Defense Secretary Rumsfeld reportedly directed the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to 'scale back military education' to free more officers for deployment, the Christian Science Monitor asks, 'Will there be a draft?'

Over breakfast with journalists, Newt Gingrich reportedly offered ethics advice to Rep. Tom DeLay and "expressed surprise that Democrats aren't piling on more on issues such as Republican contracts with conservative commentators and the White House's admission of a pro-Republican male hooker to the press corps."

Eric Boehlert explains why "Gannongate" is 'worse than you think,' the Senate Democratic leadership calls for an inquiry, and Soundbitten investigates the 'Daisy Chain' relationship involving Gannon/Guckert and South Dakota's anti-Daschle bloggers.

In its official blog, the AARP defends itself against a new ad campaign orchestrated by USA Next, a group founded by Richard Viguerie, 'Still Thundering After All These Years.' Liberal Oasis probes 'What's Behind The AARP Attack.'

Josh Marshall tracks USA Next through several aka permutations to the firm's colocation with a marketing company whose client list includes the Republican National Committee.

My DD recounts how college Republicans showed their support for Sen. Rick Santorum in Philadelphia by chanting, "Hey-hey, ho-ho, Social Security has got to go!" And "when Santorum asked a rhetorical question ... 'what happens in 2008?' Before he could answer his own question, someone shouted 'Bush leaves office,' and the room went wild." Watch the video.

A report released on January 19 by the organizations that conducted election day exit polling, serves to "bolster suspicions that the official vote count was way, way off," argue the authors of an In These Times article. And in the March issue of Vanity Fair, Christopher Hichens offers some "non-wacko reasons to revisit the Ohio election."

Ten state senators, said to regard the Cascade Mountains as an "indisputable wall between political ideologies," are calling on President Bush to create a new state in eastern Washington.

The Los Angeles Times reports that war-related profits earned by a St. Louis-based defense contractor have trickled down to "a familiar family name."

Parting Shot The Denver Post reports that friends of Hunter S. Thompson are "searching for a cannon and researching firing techniques to grant the author's wish that his cremated remains be blasted into the sky." Read the New York Times' 1972 review of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," and, 'Raising One for Hunter.'

February 22

Thursday, February 24, 2005

"Look, America has a lot of influence in the world," President Bush reportedly told a group of German citizens, during a visit said to reveal "how far the United States has fallen from 'hyperpower' status." And as Bush avoids a "town square test" in Mainz, King of Zembla wonders, "who's charmin' whom?"

Reacting to a Pentagon plan to conduct Special Ops in foreign countries without informing U.S. envoys, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is quoted as having issued specific instructions to "dismount, kill the horses and fight on foot" to preserve "chief of mission" authority.

As at least 16 Iraqi police die in bombings, 'Kurds name their price,' while the New York Times is said to have found a 'new secular hope.' And Kurt Nimmo asks: "How many times can the Times call Ayad Allawi 'Dr.' in one news article?"

The Guardian interviews Allawi's likely successor, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who is said to have something in common with Saddam Hussein: "lots of people want to kill him." Plus: Judith Miller gets one right.

Robert Dreyfuss analyzes the factors driving the CIA's dialogue with "former regime elements" in Iraq, an initiative that he says "represents a frontal challenge to the pro-war U.S. neoconservative axis and their Iraqi allies."

'The Downside of Democracy' In a commentary for the Los Angeles Times, Juan Cole cautions that "the people of the Middle East might well explode" if "Washington falls back on its traditional responses" should democratization produce regimes "that don't share American values and goals."

On his blog, Cole cites an Al-Hayat interview with an "informed Iraqi source" who says that U.S. officials are now "asking privately if the U.S. shed so much blood and treasure in Iraq to help fundamentalist Shiite allies of Iran take over Baghdad."

"It does not come down to rooting either for Bush or for the insurgents," argues Matt Tabbi, in response to Kurt Andersen's 'When Good News Feels Bad.': "Andersen ... thinks he knows that in our hearts, many of us are rooting for the insurgents, and he is trying to tell us that renouncing this instinct automatically translates into unqualified support for Bush."

In a 'purported confession' aired on the "U.S.-funded" Al-Iraqiya TV, a Syrian man said he was part of a group recruited and funded by Syrian intelligence to "cause chaos in Iraq ... to bar America from reaching Syria." Plus: American program manager claims no U.S. funds for Al-Iraqiya.

The Christian Science Monitor reports from Operation River Blitz in Anbar province, where U.S. Marines are said to be rounding up police forces that appear to be "completely compromised by the insurgents."

Gavan McCormack argues in 'Pyongyang Waiting for the Spring' that while "in Washington's view, North Korea is simply troublesome, lunatic, or evil," Pyongyang's Asian neighbors see something "essentially just" in North Korea's "demand for security, however shrill."

After a bipartisan review by the National Conference of State Legislatures issued a "scathing rebuke" for President Bush's No Child Left Behind, depicting it as "a coercive, unconstitutional act," an Education Department official reportedly said that "the report could be interpreted as wanting to reverse the progress we've made."

Riffling through a 160-page playbook produced by Frank Luntz, Think Progress finds the GOP strategist advising conservatives to stress context over specifics when discussing the economy, reasoning that "much of the public anger can be immediately pacified if they are reminded that we would not be in this situation today if 9/11 had not happened."

Writing in New Politics, Thomas Harrison analyzes 'The 2004 Elections and the Collapse of the Left,' arguing that while "working for Kerry was a fool's errand," with a "calamitous" impact on progressive politics, "disillusioned radicals ... are simply wrong to write off the American people as permanently reactionary."

Ellis Henican writes that "You're a card-carrying member of the AARP" could become the new "No. 1 conservative insult in Washington," as 'Swifties Slime Again' and Josh Marshall uncovers "a pretty serious all-nighter." Plus: 'Coming soon to a GOP theatre near you.'

Citing a "sobering government projection," USA Today reports that costs are 'ready to explode' for the world's most expensive health care system.

Gunsmoked Carpetbagger reports on efforts by the NRA and the mining and various industries to shoot down a new Bush plan to raise taxes on explosives, evidently including ammo.

As 'Both Houses of Congress Get Involved in "Gannon" Case,' Talon News goes dark.

Frank Rich writes that while the campaign against "indecency" has little impact on the "entertainment industry juggernaut," including "the porn peddlers of the right," it "inflicts collateral damage elsewhere."

The Nation reprises a 1965 article by Hunter S. Thompson that led to "Hell's Angels," and "Democracy Now!" transcribes a 2003 interview with a Colorado community radio station, in which he said, "I don't hate Bush personally. I used to know him. I used to do some drugs here and there." Plus: shooting up and shooting out.

February 23

Friday, February 25, 2005

As Presidents Bush and Putin 'Exhibit Tension Over Democracy,' a Guardian commentary names the one word no one mentions during the U.S "charm offensive," that "makes this show a mockery."

Bob Herbert interviews Maher Arar, who was 'Thrown to the Wolves' and "rendered" by the U.S. to Syria, only to have his torturers conclude that he "is not linked in any way to terrorism." Plus: 'Abuse of detainees? Problem solved.'

In a joint appearance with Putin, Bush was asked "What is this lack of freedom all about?" by a member of the Kremlin press pool, described as "a handpicked group of reporters ... selected for their fidelity to the ... rules of the game. Helpful questions are often planted."

As Lufthansa threatens to sue over 92 cancelled flights and hundreds of delays caused by security for Bush's visit, Danny Schechter writes that "the good news is that the President's trip to the old world is over. The bad news is that he's coming home." Plus: "Look! No One Threw Up!"

The Canadian Press reports that a warning from the U.S. ambassador saying that Canada has given up sovereignty over its own air space by declining to join the U.S. missile defense program, was "no slip of the tongue" -- meaning that the U.S. "will decide when to fire missiles over Canadian airspace whether Canada likes it or not." Prime Minister Paul Martin fired a rapid response.

After Defense Secretay Rumsfeld called China a country that "we hope and pray enters the civilized world in an orderly way," a Boston Globe commentator offers a clarification: "civilized" countries are "those who play roles written for them by the Bush administration."

The Washington Post's David Ignatius dines with "Lebanese intifada" leader Walid Jumblatt and finds him "sounding almost like a neoconservative," proclaiming that elections in Iraq mean that "the Berlin Wall has fallen" in the Arab world. Two months ago, Jumblatt was quoted as saying that "We are all happy when U.S. soldiers are killed [in Iraq] week in and week out."

A witness reportedly saw "bodies flying" as a roadside bomb killed three and wounded six U.S. soldiers on foot patrol, and the 3rd Infantry Division rolls back into Baghdad.

The suicide bomber who blew up police headquarters in Tikrit during a new wave of attacks was reportedly dressed in a "police captain's uniform" and carried "an official-looking document."

"Hundreds of low-level councilors have been killed" for participating in a U.S. project to set up local councils in Iraq, with many groups reportedly "scared out of existence" and one victim's brother quoted as saying that "The U.S. pulled us into something that we thought was going to make our lives better and then failed to protect us."

Responding to a Los Angeles Times commentary, which argues that 'We Aren't Fighting to Win Anymore,' but are only seeking to "buy time" in Iraq, Michael Gaddy argues that 'There Was Never an Intention to Win,' because "this war was, from the very get-go, designed to be a war of occupation."

As an ethics watchdog group sues the Social Security Administration for copies of its contracts with PR firms, Democrats criticize the COO of the SSA for appearing with Republican members of Congress at pro-privatization public events. Plus: Social Security Trustee reportedly signs on as advisor to group advocating phase out of program.

"Despite weeks of campaign-style barnstorming and rides in the presidential jet and limousine," trying to sell his plan for overhauling Social Security, USA Today reports that President Bush has yet to entice a single Democrat to his side.

The Denver Post's media critic takes a sweep at ABC's Peter Jennings for having "thrown in with the corporate bean counters who would rather have their anchor host a two-hour prime-time marathon about UFOs during February than, say, a straightforward, in-depth analysis of Social Security."

The Washington Post characterizes a statement by Ralph Nader as an attempt to "jump-start" an antiwar movement, which Nader says "took the year off in 2004 out of deference to John Kerry. It didn't want to upset his freedom to mimic Bush." Nader also accused several Bush family members of war profiteering.

The Rocky Mountain News reports that a GOP member of the Colorado House threatened a colleague with a non-parliamentary procedure during a floor debate.

As Kansas' attorney general demands the medical records of "nearly 90 women and girls who had abortions," Paul Krugman has 'Kansas on My Mind.'

Media Matters documents how Fox News doctors AP reports "to conform to Bush administration terminology," replacing the terms "suicide bomber" and "suicide bombing" with "homicide bomber" and "homicide bombing." Plus: 'Love, Hannity Style.'

Having heeded e-mailers' calls to further investigate "Gannongate," David Corn writes that "What I found leads me to ask--gasp!--if Gannon/Guckert, on a few but not all fronts, has received a quasi-bum rap." And while Talon News may be silenced, "the new media" has a new "voice."

"Ten days ago, James Guckert told E&P he was through talking to the press," writes Gregg Mitchell, "and now he won't shut up." Plus: Russell Mokhiber's "Scottie & Me" is cited in a Wall Street Journal article on the 'White House Press Room as Political Stage.'

February 24

Monday, February 28, 2005

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers says that judging by historical precedents, the Iraqi insurgency could last anywhere from seven to 12 years, despite Iraqi voters "sticking that ink-stained finger in the eye of the insurgents."

A suicide car bomber killed more than a hundred people in the single deadliest attack in the two-year insurgency, and Al-Qaeda mocked a claim by Iraqi officials that they "expect to take al-Zarqawi soon."

Knight Ridder's Hannah Allam reports on the little-noted war between Shiite vigilantes and former Baath Party members taking place in Iraq in the shadow of the insurgency. Plus: 'Another one bites the dust.'

As the Christian Science Monitor reports that 'Opposing agendas snarl Shiite, Kurd cooperation in Iraq,' the Washington Post explains why 'Shiites See an Opening in Saudi Arabia.'

Defense Tech reveals the Pentagon's practice of dipping into money earmarked for soldiers' paychecks and then daring Congress to "Give us more money, or soldiers aren't going to get paid."

USA Today spotlights efforts to treat American soldiers who are suffering from more "catastrophic amputations and serious brain trauma" than in previous wars.

Kurt Nimmo rounds up reports of the growing scandal over the use of uranium munitions by the U.S. military in Iraq, now said to be the "definitive cause" of Gulf War Syndrome and "the reason Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi stepped down earlier this month." Plus: mining the Matrix.

The Independent's Andrew Buncombe describes the 'Death of a Democracy' in Haiti, "crushed by the dark hand of US foreign policy" -- and interviews the man believed by some to be exiled president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's designated successor.

'Potemkin World' "Here's one of the strangest things about our President," writes Tom Engelhardt. "He travels often enough, but in some sense he never goes anywhere." Plus: Administration officals "strive to create a Potemkin press village at home."

A senior Administration official tells Time that a conversation with Vladimir Putin was "like something out of 1984," because "Putin thought we'd fired Dan Rather."

Proponents roll out nine-year-old to stump for Social Security privatization, Kraft puts the brakes on roadkill candy, and Hollywood finds some strange bedfellows not into swapping.

David Sirota looks at a few GOP governors who, by "embracing progressive policies during their states' budget crises," including higher taxes, now "threaten the conservative movement more seriously than any Democrat in America."

As former Sen. John Edwards touts his party's "core beliefs" and tells ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he's only focusing on his wife's health, Alexander Cockburn reveals 'How A Politician Defines "Focus."' (scroll down)

A GOP congressman was reportedly cheered in a Texas church for saying that he had volunteered "on the porch of the White House" to personally nuke Syria.

Columnists ask, "where's the outrage from the Christian right over the Jeff Gannon Affair?", and, 'Why have conservatives been silent about new evidence that the Bush administration sanctioned torture?'

Ann Coulter's syndicate edits her comment that "Press passes can't be that hard to come by if the White House allows that old Arab Helen Thomas to sit within yards of the president."

Propagannon finds that Coulter is not the only conservative attempting to equate Gannon with Thomas -- who, meanwhile, was more interested in how '$9B Goes Missing In Iraq.'

In 'Battered Women,' Benjamin Wallace-Wells says the career of Hilary Swank's character in "Million Dollar Baby" "traces the arc of the sport: What began as a few day-dreamy women in gyms, believing they could punch back as hard and as fast as some of the guys, has devolved into something very ugly, very violent." Earlier: 'How Dirty Harry Turned Commie.'

"People are confusing and their motivations are unclear and life is not a series of narrative arcs. But hey, check out that mimic!" says a Canadian film critic. Plus: Bush wins and would win again.

Calling Hunter S. Thompson "one of the last of the true believers," The New Yorker's Louis Menand writes that "although the drugs and the guns and the whole paranoid 'gonzo' routine long ago became tiresome and embarrassing ... the news of his death hit a nerve." Earlier: 'Wife details family gathering with Thompson dead in chair.'

Amnesty International remembers founder Peter Benenson who died on Friday at the age of 83. The Observer notes that Amnesty was created in the wake of an article he wrote in 1961, "after being outraged by the arrest and imprisonment of two students who had drunk a toast to liberty in a Lisbon cafe."

February 25-27

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