Tuesday, October 1, 2002The Los Angeles Times interviews U.N. diplomats who say that over the last decade, respect for American resolve has given way to qualms about bullying, and that "the U.S. has dropped persuasion as its main tactic and replaced it with intimidation."
Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar call on President Bush to build an international coalition before striking Iraq. Plus: Congressional Budget office says that war with Iraq would cost up to $9 billion a month.
A retired Marine colonel has a few questions that he'd like to ask his commander in chief.
Two of Bill Clinton's counterterrorism aides contend in a new book that the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. repeatedly misled former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh about the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing case, and that the Bush administration discounted the terror threat before 9/11 and failed to follow through on Clinton initiatives. Read an excerpt from "The Age of Sacred Terror."
In an investigation of intelligence watchdogs, Russ Baker writes that "When I tried to track the whereabouts of a former staff director whom one Congressman recalled as being of refreshingly independent spirit, I found him working at the CIA (he quickly hung up on me). Just how convoluted does this game of musical chairs get?"
The Memory Hole shows and tells about two pieces of 9/11 artwork that the public is no longer allowed to see.
Speak No Evil A search of the White House Web site indicates that President Bush has not made an unprompted mention of bin Laden's name since March 8.
How politicians apologize not for controversial remarks, but rather for the interpretation of the remark.
Why aren't Democrats talking about the fact that Republicans are one vote away from winning control of the entire federal government in November?
The Daily Howler says that E.J. Dionne did something on "Reliable Sources" that "Major Pundits never do—he criticized another Major Pundit."
On the same show, Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank said that the media has allowed the White House to define the news agenda with its focus on Iraq. Spinsanity examines last week's "somewhat misleading" article by Milbank, that fueled the furor over partisanship.
Nation of Rogues Iraqis hijack Western brands, watch pirated Hollywood movies on TV and take commercial flights through a "no-fly" zone. Plus: Beyond the sound bites with Reps. Jim McDermott and David Bonier in Iraq.
Are special forces operating in western Iraq?
Ha'aretz reports that the settlement movement's policy now favors increasing its land holdings over increasing the population, establishing outposts -- each populated by a few people -- to prevent Palestinians from occupying the land.
Sam Bahour, a Palestinian-American businessman who lives in the West Bank, says that the occupation has put the Israeli economy at serious risk: "I, as most Palestinians, fear that the threatening socio - economic collapse of Israel may bring even more death and destruction upon us."
Turkish police seize five ounces of substance containing zinc, iron, zirconium and manganese.
Wednesday, October 2, 2002
The wife of a highly regarded spy in Britain's M16 intelligence service breaks the code of silence among secret-service spouses, because of what she says was the agency's shabby treatment of her cancer-stricken husband.
Congress is poised to pass a defense budget with the biggest increase in spending since the Reagan administration, but it doesn't include the entire Pentagon budget for Star Wars, unforeseen spending for the war on terrorism or the costs of a new war with Iraq.
Can the U.S. stop weapons' inspectors from returning to Iraq?
FAIR reports on how fox hunting trumped peace activism at the Washington Post and the New York Times.
Brendan O'Neill writes that opposition to invading Iraq by marchers and speakers at the London demonstration "seemed to be based more on tactics than principle - more a question of how to best sort out Saddam, rather than challenging America or Europe's right to do it in the first place."
An Israeli general argues that the Bush administration is exaggerating the risks that Saddam poses and that it's mistakenly attributing to him the same motives today, that he had before the Gulf War.
Bill Vann contends that three (1,2,3) articles that appeared in major U.S. newspapers last Friday -- warning of a "nightmare scenario" of urban warfare in Iraq -- were the beginning of a campaign "to prepare public opinion for a massive slaughter of innocent Iraqi civilians, as well as substantial American military casualties."
We're Number One! Reporting on America's poorest city.
Smoking gun e-mails hook white-collar crooks.
Movie studios busted for touting their own films in Web site posts.
An investigation into the death of a playmate turns up more questions than answers, as the Playboy "family" distances itself from a former member.
Hef says he wants less sex and more "journalism of importance" in "new" Playboy.
A Manhattan dating service charges wealthy men thousands of dollars to "spend the evening with models, Playboy bunnies and other curvy sirens," with the profits going to fund a children's journalism program.
Two reporters for the University of Maryland's student newspaper describe their 23 hours in custody, after being arrested by D.C. police while covering the IMF-World Bank protests.
Thursday, October 3, 2002
U.S. launches its largest Afghan ground operation in six months, with 2,000 troops searching southeastern mountains for Taliban and al-Qaeda holdouts.
A former Pakistani army chief says that eastern Afghanistan -- the only one of five autonomous regions which is not under the control of warlords allied with the former Northern Alliance -- is where about 15,000 hard-core Taliban fighters have melted into the civilian population.
Best outcome for U.S. is that bin Laden's fate remains a mystery.
A BBC correspondent tells of being hailed by two U.S. soldiers who said they were sick of uttering the sound bites printed on their "how to deal with journalists" card.
Bill Clinton warns his successor of the "unwelcome consequences" of launching a preemptive strike against Iraq and echoes Al Gore in suggesting that the U.S. focus on the fight against al-Qaeda. Plus: Clinton speech equal parts "revivalist meeting, pop concert and Oscars night."
Gore calls for Bush to focus on the economy: "How can it be essential that we go to war prior to the election but absolutely fine to wait until after the election before we take any action to deal with the economy?" Transcript and Gore's game plan.
"Dogs of war keep nation's focus off ugly numbers."
Democratic leaders ridiculed by pundits for questioning the justification for war with Iraq.
GlobalSecurity.org director John Pike says the leaked U.S. proposal for a U.N. resolution -- that allows the Pentagon to deploy forces inside Iraq during inspections -- was worded in such a way that Iraq was almost certain to reject it: "I could never imagine Iraq agreeing to this. If you're going to be invaded you might as well make the invading force shoot their way in."
After Secretary State Powell suggested to USA Today that President Bush's policy of "regime change" could leave Saddam in power if he disarms fully, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer denied a shift in U.S. policy: "Do you honestly believe that all these conditions can be met by Saddam Hussein?" Plus: Still working the al-Qaeda angle.
An Iraqi vice president suggests a duel between Bush and Saddam.
Former chief weapons inspector in Iraq, Richard Butler, says that "I flinch when I hear American, British and French fulminations against weapons of mass destruction, ignoring the fact that they are the proud owners of massive quantities of those weapons, unapologetically insisting that they are essential for their national security, and will remain so."
In a New York Times op-ed, Gary Hart tells Democrats to get a defense policy, instead of "responding to a Republican president as individual entrepreneurs trying to protect themselves against the traditional conservative charge of being 'soft on defense.'" Plus: Democrats desperately seeking something.
Sen. Paul Wellstone says that he will vote against any plan to allow the U.S. to launch unilateral strikes against Iraq. As for how that might impact his reelection chances, Wellstone told staffers that "We'll just let the chips fall where they may."
The general manager of CNN's "Headline News" recently said announcers were working in slangy expressions such as "whack," "ill" or "sick" -- "the lingo of our people," he said -- to help attract younger audiences. Lou Dobbs is Jive Talkin' too.
The Smoking Gun has posted court documents filed in the case of Douglas Faneuil -- the assistant to Martha Stewart's stockbroker -- which, detail the insider trading scheme.
Arrest of former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow could mark the beginning of the end for Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay.
Slate's Jack Shafer says that page one obituaries for publishing tycoon Walter Annenberg "barely scrape the festering keratosis that was his career in crime, journalism, and politics."
Is Lula the Man? Paul Knox says that if Worker's Party candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is elected president of Brazil on Sunday, "it will be one of the most remarkable political feats in recent Latin American history -- perhaps more momentous than Vicente Fox's 2000 triumph in Mexico."
Friday, October 4, 2002
David Morris predicts that after midterm elections, the saber-rattling will taper off, and "George W. Bush, besides laughing all the way to the polls, will have in hand a blank check for using force against Saddam Hussein in the future. Which means if the President ever needs to again distract the country from debating the real problems that bedevil us, he can start rattling those sabers all over again."
"Blind and improvident, Mr. President. Blind and improvident." Read the transcript of Sen. Robert Byrd's stem-winder of a speech, in which he also said "The resolution before us today is not only a product of haste; it is also a product of presidential hubris."
Experts on presidential power say that the open-ended nature of the "war on terrorism" may be fundamentally and permanently tipping the constitutional balance to the president's advantage.
As chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix backs British and U.S. calls for opening Saddam's presidential palaces to inspectors, the Guardian offers an interactive look-see at the sprawling sites. More palace intrigue.
David Corn writes that "Gephardt and other Democrats are essentially agreeing with Bush's argument that the nation's number-one priority is the anti-Saddam crusade. Not rising poverty. Not the rising number of Americans without health insurance. Not rising unemployment. Not pension reform. No matter how loud Gephardt thumps the podium on the House floor when he claims these are the real issues of the ongoing congressional campaign."
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer dismisses Al Gore's criticism of Bush administration economic policies: "Nobody pays a lot of attention to what the former vice president said." Plus: "Assassination is a four-letter word."
Patriotism Police finger two new enemy combatants.
The third "Baghdad Boy," Rep. Mike Thompson, says that conservative partisans in the U.S. got more mileage from his trip than Saddam did.
Nicholas Kristof finds few Iraqi's willing to fight for Saddam, but plenty of nationalists "willing to defend Iraq against Yankee invaders."
Kristof notes that Iraqi's listen to a wide variety of news, including the BBC, Iranian and Israeli radio. He also cites "an excellent new American broadcast called Radio Sawa, which mixes popular music with news -- a triumph of the Bush administration's focus on public diplomacy abroad." Have a listen at Sawa's oddly minimalist Web site.
After listening to a day's worth of newscasts on Radio Sawa and the BBC's Arabic service, Ali Abunimah found that the upstart's "bland format and lack of content leave no room for an actual exploration of people's views and the creation of a dialogue between the U.S. and the people it wants to influence."
Texas radio show reaches captive and growing audience.
In her debut Times of London column, "Lunching in New York," Tina Brown describes how many of her former dining partners have also been downsized.
Read what commentators from across the political spectrum -- Bill O'Reilly, Chris Matthews and Eric Alterman -- have to say about this Senate candidate, who claims to be running "America's best campaign."
Monday, October 7, 2002
The Los Angeles Times editorializes that "Congress is caught up in the White House's obsession with Saddam Hussein, and neither the administration nor lawmakers are doing anything significant to battle the [economic] slump."
As the Brazilian presidential race appears to be headed to a second round, an economist says the election could determine when a day of reckoning arrives that "will make Enron, the internet bubble, and the Savings & Loan crisis seem like child's play."
Christopher Layne warns that America's displays of power today could well come back to haunt Washington tomorrow: "U.S. policymakers have succumbed to hubris in the false belief that American hegemony is an unchallengeable fact of international life."
One school of thought promotes the theory that the American empire is already over.
Panel of experts explain why the U.S. must go to war with Iraq.
Oily Diplomacy Russia and France fear that oil deals with Iraq could evaporate along with the Saddam regime.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham says that a war in Iraq could provoke terrorist cells within the U.S. to attack Americans, but that intelligence agencies have resisted declassifying enough information about it to inform the public.
USA Today founder Al Neuharth asks: Why so hell-bent on war?
More than 1.5 million Italians protest a possible war with Iraq.
All Star Militia A different kind of draft would put America's elite corps of professional athletes on the front lines.
Impure Play Michael Ryan comments on a new mutual fund that offers a view of American capitalism through the ultimate prism -- complete amorality. Plus: Salon stock reaches new level of affordability.
SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt is reportedly backing away from his choice to lead the new federal agency that will oversee the accounting industry, following complaints that the SEC's pick is too tough on the industry. Plus: Senate report faults SEC in Enron debacle.
The Miami Herald reports on "the puzzle" that is Florida Governor Jeb Bush's 20-year career in business.
Thinking Out of the (Ballot) Box The creative Minnesota adman who helped elect two populist longshots -- Paul Wellstone and Jesse Ventura -- discusses the state of politics and why the national parties want nothing to do with him. See his agency's work for Ventura, Wellstone, and Ralph Nader.
A New York Times report on Sen. Wellstone's reelection bid notes that he's the only incumbent in the half-dozen closest races who has vowed to vote no on the Iraq resolution. He says that his office has received 1,300 calls supporting the decision and 30 calls opposing it. Plus: Minnesota voters repeatedly ask Wellstone's opponent to talk about his views without mentioning Wellstone.
"The intensity of the media's anti-Gore obsession is a bit bizarre," writes Eric Alterman, "but even more so, given the strictures of journalistic objectivity, is the lack of compunction they feel about openly demonstrating it."
Mayor asks Somalis to stop coming to Lewiston, Maine.
Alliance between conservative Jews and evangelical Christians called "fine example of the political exploitation of religion."
Bin Bluffin'? The Observer reports that American spy satellites intercepted a telephone call less than a month ago, during which Mullah Omar told a third person who was near him that "the sheikh sends his salaams [greetings]".
Tuesday, October 8, 2002
One year after U.S. forces launched the Afghan war, Brendan O'Neill counts down the top 10 errors of the campaign.
As Afghans grow increasingly resentful of the U.S. military's presence, the Northern Alliance's dominance of the government raises fears of a revolt in the south that could split the country in two.
Why U.S. generals both dream and worry about "e-bombs."
Enemy on Ice George Monbiot says that the U.S. -- with Britain's help -- has been seeking to prevent a resolution of the Iraq crisis for the past eight years.
Hawks Take Flight Senators Edwards and Lieberman, co-sponsors of the war powers resolution that Congress is debating, give foreign policy speeches slamming President Bush.
Perpetual presidential campaign defies the law of supply and demand.
Ken Layne calls articles about Bush's speech -- posted online before he delivered it, but written as if he already had -- part of "a game of fakery played by politicians and press," that "shows just how useless most 'news' really is."
You Don't Say The Washington Post's ombudsman addresses complaints that over the last two weeks the paper has virtually ignored a major speech by Sen. Edward Kennedy, questioning the Bush administration's policy and timing on Iraq, passed on reporting Senate testimony by retired four-star generals who cautioned about attacking at this time, and failed to report on European antiwar rallies when they occurred.
Matthew Engel calls for banning the words "Hitler" and "Nazi" from the political discourse: "Since the Iraq dispute began, mild overuse has turned to plague, and both sides have been as bad as each other."
Rep. Jim McDermott draws the line at Caesar, saying that the issue at the heart of the Iraq debate is whether Congress or the president has the power to declare war: "This president is trying to bring to himself all the power to become an emperor — to create Empire America."
Daily Kos writes that if Bill McBride becomes Florida's next governor, "the genesis will be traced to the Democratic primary campaign -- three opponents who refused to go negative on each other, and who are now working together in pursuit of this election cycle's ultimate prize -- Jeb's head on a platter."
Spurned Fox News Channel keeps Paula Zahn in its PR cross hairs.
Pluto takes another hit. Is it even a planet?
Sailors use government credit cards to run up "restaurant and dining bar" tabs at Nevada brothels.
Wednesday, October 9, 2002
Knight-Ridder reporters interview more than a dozen Bush administration officials who say that dissenting views on Iraq are being squelched and that intelligence analysts "are under intense pressure to produce reports supporting the White House's argument that Saddam poses such an immediate threat to the United States that pre-emptive military action is necessary."
Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counter-intelligence, charges that the flow of intelligence to the top levels of the administration has been deliberately skewed by hawks at the Pentagon: "Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA."
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says Tenet's suggestion that Iraq is unlikely to strike the U.S. first doesn't undercut Bush's warnings that Saddam would attack America. He also questioned the accuracy of the intelligence-gathering that led to Tenet's assessment.
Total Eclipse The latest TomPaine.com op-ad asks: "When did Iraq become more important than America?"
Rep. Henry Waxman on the real issues that the White House doesn't want to debate.
Old Enough to Know Better Newsday columnist Ellis Henican hears "the sweet sound of one man's dissent."
John Nichols writes that "Rarely in the history of the Senate has a member so bluntly identified the hypocrisy of the White House on a question of warmaking."
After reading "The National Security Strategy of the United States," The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg concludes that "The Bush vision is in the end a profoundly pessimistic one, and, as such, more than a little un-American. It is, among other things, a vision of perpetual war."
Talk Back to Your TV! The Institute for Public Accuracy provides a point-by-point critique of President Bush's speech on Iraq.
Gulf War veterans group calls for the resignation of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld for denying under questioning by Sen. Robert Byrd that he knew anything about U.S. shipments of chemical and biological agents to Iraq in the 1980s. Read their press release.
The Pentagon acknowledges for the first time that the U.S. held open-air biological and chemical weapons tests on American soil -- in at least four states during the 1960s, in an effort to develop defenses against such weapons. Previously, it disclosed that similar tests had been conducted at sea.
A visit to a recruitment barbecue put on by the U.S. Army's 11th Psychological Operations Battalion, offers insight into how "Psy-ops" warriors -- "part ad men and part ethnographers" -- go about trying to win hearts and minds, often with "a collection of harebrained schemes [that] is sometimes almost too colorful to believe."
With the wait to obtain a visa now up to six months, many foreign artists are being forced to cancel U.S. appearances. An immigration attorney says that the slowdown started before 9/11, when the INS began charging $1,000 to expedite visa requests.
The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Eldred v. Ashcroft, a lawsuit seeking to overturn the 1998 law extending copyright terms for an additional 20 years. The Christian Science Monitor reports on the potential landmark case.
Go for a ride on the Internet Bookmobile, which will be parked in front of the Supreme Court after crossing the country to promote the idea of making books available to everyone.
Thursday, October 10, 2002
President Bush's message is that "Saddam is coming, Saddam is coming," writes David Corn, "and the United States better take the sucker out before he strikes America--meaning, you. But Bush has a problem: the CIA doesn't back him up on this. In fact, it says the opposite."
The New York Times reports that "divisions between the CIA and the White House and civilian Defense Department officials over intelligence on Iraq have been simmering for months," and that CIA Director Tenet's letter to the Senate Intelligence committee brought them into the open.
In opposing the Iraq resolution, Sen. Russ Feingold said "the relentless attempt to link 9-11 and the issue of Iraq has been disappointing to me for months, culminating in the President's singularly unpersuasive attempt in Cincinnati to interweave 9-11 and Iraq, to make the American people believe that there are no important differences between the perpetrators of 9-11 and Iraq."
Nothing Personal After Rep. Pete Stark finished speaking against the Iraq resolution, -- "So we have a President who thinks foreign territory is the opponent’s dugout and Kashmir is a sweater." -- House members were reminded that it was out of order to refer to the President in personal terms.
HarvardWatch, a student-alumni group that monitors the school's investments, has issued a report which says that Harvard's University's financial relationship with Harken Energy was deeper than previously understood, with the schools management fund creating a legal ''off the books'' partnership with Harken that helped keep the company afloat.
William K. Black, a former federal banking regulator who examined the arrangement called it "beyond nuts from an institutional investor's standpoint." Black said that Harken ''transferred an enormous amount of liabilities to the partnership. You don't see the Harvards of the world doing things like this.''
Halliburton goes on the PR offensive, with the current CEO attempting to distance VP Dick Cheney from the accounting change that prompted an ongoing SEC investigation.
Ha'aretz reports that an Israeli defense official has told the U.S. that a full invasion of Gaza is just a matter of time.
A revenge killing has brought the Palestinian Authority into conflict with Hamas, leaving the Gaza Strip on what Palestinians say is the brink of civil war.
Iran joins Iraq in banning CNN's Christiane Amanpour. Iran's foreign minister says that it was in retaliation for American treatment of Iranians who want to visit the U.S., including film director Abbas Kiarostami.
Kiarostami was unable to get a visa in time to attend the September premiere of his new film "Ten" at the New York Film Festival. In reporting on Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's decision to boycott the festival in protest, Salon's Charles Taylor wrote that "The stakes for America right now are too high for us to allow our leaders to make us rubes in the eyes of the world."
Tim Judah investigated Tehran's underground in "The Sullen Majority" and Michael Lewis profiled the "Satellite Subversives," an unlikely group of Iranian expats who are helping to sow the seeds of revolution in Tehran, from a TV station in Hollywood.
A U.S. official says that a voice recording of Ayman al-Zawahiri -- in which he threatens new attacks on the U.S. and its economy -- appears to be genuine and to have been recorded in the last few weeks. The New Yorker's Lawrence Wright discusses al-Zawahiri, whom he recently profiled.
Enlisting Support A philosophy professor suggests that if the media and President Bush are genuinely interested in whether Americans support a military occupation of another country, they should ask citizens if they are willing to enlist in one of the armed services, encourage their son or daughter to join the military and renew a draft of all 18-year-olds.
The Daily Howler says that "the doctor is IN," as the Washington Post's David Broder plays shrink in analyzing "the disarray and despondency among Democrats" over the Iraq resolution.
Mark Fiore offers a sure-fire way to deal with Saddam.
The Memory Hole has posted photos of military personnel filming protesters at September's D.C. demonstrations.
Police chief slams media for reporting leaked information about the so-called serial sniper and suggests that maybe the press should take over the probe.
Federal prosecutors and the SEC have widened their investigation of Martha Stewart to include whether her public statements about why she sold ImClone shares, if proved false, were intended to boost the price of her own company's stock and constituted securities fraud.
Friday, October 11, 2002
Possible war in Iraq offers hook for renewed PR campaign by al-Qaeda.
Pro-Taliban parties fare surprisingly well in Pakistani elections.
Hear, Here! An "increasingly outspoken" Sen. Bob Graham rips colleagues for rejecting his attempt to change the Iraq resolution by authorizing U.S. force against Hezbollah and four other terrorist groups. He said that ''blood is going to be on your hands'' if action is not taken to foil terrorist attacks in America should the U. S. invade Iraq.
"The Bush campaign for war against Iraq has been insulting to American citizens," writes Michael Kinsley, "not just because it has been dishonest, but because it has been unserious. A serious and respectful effort to rally the citizenry would offer the real reasons, would base the conclusion on the evidence rather than vice versa, would admit to the ambiguities and uncertainties, would be frank about the potential cost."
Evidence is for Losers According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, 66 percent of those surveyed think that Saddam was involved in the 9/11 attacks and 86 percent believe he has nuclear weapons or is close to acquiring them. Plus: Connie Chung, true believer.
CalPundit on how poll respondents lie about voting.
The chairman of the Nobel committee says that the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Jimmy Carter "should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current administration has taken. It's a kick in the leg to all that follow the same line as the United States."
The New York Times reports that the Bush administration is developing a plan to install an American-led military government in Iraq if the U.S. topples Saddam.
In endorsing the suggestion made by an Iraqi vice president that Iraq and U.S.' leaders solve their dispute with a duel, Lew Rockwell writes that "To personalize foreign policy in this way would mean the end of war as we know it. To institute duel-based dispute resolution among statesmen would help make them accountable in a way in which they are not now."
A Washington Post reporter calls President Bush's plan to hit the road for 14 straight days before the Nov. 5 elections, "a taxpayer-subsidized campaign spree that appears unconstrained by preparations for war."
Consultant's memo offers Democrats "strategic guidance" on selling their vote on the Iraq resolution politically, as well as on the best way to turn the national debate back to domestic issues before the election.
Montana's Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate quits the race, blaming a state Democratic Party television ad -- which he said insinuated that he was a gay hairdresser -- for destroying his campaign. See the ad here.
D.C.-area motorists paying for their gas and then driving away without pumping it.
Trojan Horse Nerve.com interviews Phil Harvey, "one of the most unlikely Robin Hoods in the annals of American business," who uses the profits from his adult mail-order business -- Adam & Eve -- to help finance family planning programs in the developing world.
Monday, October 14, 2002
Thom Hartmann examines the present-day consequences of the 1886 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that recognized corporations as persons -- granting the right to free speech and allowing them to meddle in politics. He says that the ruling was a fiction created by the Court's reporter.
Slate's Daniel Gross invokes Casey Stengel in questioning the ability of the Bush administration's economic team: "Can't anybody here play this game?"
Sen. John Edwards calls for a roll back of tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest one percent and Sen. Chuck Hagel tells Bush to focus on the economy, saying that "Maybe we should have a new team over there regarding the president's economic policies."
Ralph Nader calls Iraq war talk "a distraction strategy by the Bush administration to avoid being implicated in corporate scandals," but says that "It's not going to help him much, though, because people know what matters are local issues and issues that affect the economy."
As the White House is accused of trying to torpedo a 9/11 commission, Newsweek reports that VP Dick Cheney is said to have played a behind-the-scenes role aimed at derailing the agreement. Plus: Smiling faces...
Journalists say they can't remember a White House that was more grudging or less forthcoming in informing the press.
In a speech to the U.S. Naval War College, national security analyst William Arkin said that "the Bush team feels that it doesn't need to convince anyone of what it is doing. Its attitude is that there is such a grave threat to America, that they, the custodians of our national security, not only are doing what is right, that only they know the truth, and moreover, that they have no obligation to convince the American public, that no one has a right to question them."
A recent upsurge in terrorist attacks, culminating in the bombings in Bali, is fueling criticism of the Bush administration over its Iraq focus. Sen. Bob Graham argues that the Iraq resolution "misstates our national priorities in a dangerous way."
A British tourist who survived the Bali bombing tells the BBC what it was like.
War, Inc. The New York Times reports on the mainstreaming of mercenaries, as the Pentagon increasingly relies on "private military contractors" -- many of them subsidiaries of Fortune 500 companies -- to assist in waging war.
U.S. Army considers recruiting Middle Easterners to make up for its lack of native Arab speakers.
#1 Without a Bullet Antiwar activists crash MTV's "Total Request Live."
Organizers tout growing strength of antiwar effort.
A Times of London correspondent reports from the Shia city of Karbala, the spiritual home of Iraq's repressed majority and site of the 680 AD massacre that led to the great schism between Sunnis and Shias.
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld tells war planners to prepare for a short-notice strike on Iraq.
Now that President Bush has been given the power to determine if a U.N. inspections regime in Iraq is adequate, how will we understand the factual issues involved in that judgment? The Daily Howler says don't count on cable's talking heads to be of much help. Plus: Is truth Bush's #1 enemy?
Washington D.C. "has always been a place where people say the opposite of what they mean," writes Maureen Dowd. "But last week, the capital soared to ominous new Orwellian heights."
An e-mail message forwarded from the account of a White House intern criticizes Democratic Hispanic members of the House who voted against the Iraq resolution and "doddering old Bob Byrd, the senile senator from West Virginia."
Joshua Micah Marshall explores the sniper subculture.
Speculating on the possibility that the D.C. attacks are the work of a sniper affiliated with, or inspired by, al-Qaeda, William Safire writes that "even if, as expected, the relentless rampage turns out to have been the work of one or two crazies, the example will not be forgotten in the cells of al-Qaeda."
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland says that in addition to failing militarily in the war on terror, the U.S.-led coalition has failed politically. He cites as examples the west's refusal to implement an alternative energy strategy and the U.S.' decision to leave its troops in Saudi Arabia, while failing to commit serious political muscle to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Bill Berkowitz profiles booking agent Eleana Benador and her clients -- a constellation of right-wing politicos and conservative think tankers who have come to dominate the public discourse over Middle East policy.
The Washington Post explores the degree to which VP Dick Cheney dominates the administration debate over foreign policy. A "senior official" says that having steered the Middle East to the policy back burner, Cheney now "has only four talking points: War, war, war and war."
Paul Krugman says that although the biggest terrorist threat faced by the U.S. is that one or more big Muslim countries will be radicalized, the Bush administration "wants to fight a conventional war; since al-Qaeda won't oblige, they'll attack someone else who will."
Pat Buchanan wants to know what the U.S. has in mind for Iraq: "Eliminating its weapons, installing a friendly regime and coming home? Or staying on and reshaping Iraq in the American image – a Herculean task involving decades of a U.S. occupation that will be fiercely resisted across the Islamic world?"
The Telegraph reports that a Washington Post article on divisions within the Bush administration over a U.N. resolution, has raised concern among U.S. allies at the U.N. that the administration has two separate policies on Iraq, one for domestic consumption and one for the outside world.
With CNN gearing up to revisit Iraq, HBO plans to lend a synergistic hand by premiering the movie "Live From Baghdad" -- the story of CNN 's coverage of the Gulf War.
A psychologist who consults with law enforcement agencies fears that the serial sniper has been "unintentionally emboldened by police, politicians, the media and others whose motives are much better than their judgment."
Joan Ryan says that "It's all about entertainment, feeding the beast called market share. The national news outlets can't make the case that a viewer in, say, Los Angeles might help capture a killer 3,000 miles away."
Jude Wanniski thinks the sniping is political: "If I had to guess, I would have to say this man is telling the most powerful nation in the history of the world that one man with a rifle can stop things."
Are U.S. officials rushing to convince themselves of a link between bin Laden and the Bali bombings?
On the same day that the New York Times ran an article in which the White House was criticized for its tight grip on the news, President Bush held an extended Q&A session with reporters, that focused on recent terror attacks.
"Inside Al-Qaida" author Rohan Gunaratna says that al-Qaeda and Indonesia's Jemaah Islamiyah effectively merged in the mid-90s, with shared leaders, training, operatives and funds.
Downsize This! With its leaders in hiding and its finances and communications slashed by the war on terrorism, al-Qaeda is launching more indiscriminate attacks against "soft" targets -- which could prove difficult to predict and prevent.
A former Taliban officer says he has been hiding in fear for his life in a remote part of southern Afghanistan, since his photograph appeared as Mullah Omar on hundreds of thousands of leaflets air-dropped by U.S. forces earlier this year.
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
As President Bush uses the Bali bombings to whip up support for ousting Saddam, David Corn writes that "Bush's bluff -- if that is what it is -- should be called. Either he can prove what he said about the Iraqi regime being in league with al-Qaeda or he cannot. If he is misleading the public about the threat, he should not be followed into war."
Kevin Phillips calls the Bush administration's preoccupation with Saddam "unnerving," and asks: "Where is the congressional opposition raising serious questions about which White House motivations are real and which are spurious?"
Bill Kristol says it's time to stop believing the president: He has made "the case for war, from an impressive clarity of presentation and lucidity of argument. But now his task is not to educate or persuade us. It is to defeat Saddam Hussein. And that will require the president, at times, to mislead rather than to clarify, to deceive rather than to explain."
A weapons systems analyst describes a 1992 trip to Iraq that put the lie to claims that Desert Storm was a "clean war," and revealed the Iraqi governmment to be downplaying the number of civilian casualties for domestic political purposes.
A former national security adviser to Al Gore says that a plan to establish a military government in post-Saddam Iraq "warns us that there may be a dangerous intoxication with American power, and a serious loss of judgment as to its limits, among the most senior persons in our government."
Poll finds four in ten Americans support annexing Canada.
Bush administration officials say that the U.S. repeatedly warned the Indonesian government in the weeks before the Bali bombings that a group linked to al-Qaeda was planning attacks to kill Americans and other Westerners.
An Indonesian commentator says that military support for Muslim extremists has contributed to a long history of terrorist incidents that brought many casualties, but did not dominate world news because the victims were locals.
A former member of the Indonesian Air Force has reportedly confessed to assembling the Bali bomb, but has not disclosed who ordered him to make it.
Blogger mixes condolences with promotion in sending flowers to Australian embassy.
Kuwaiti prisoners mount organized challenge to Guantanamo detention.
Democratic challenger closes in on Jeb Bush while emphasizing qualities over policies.
Microsoft busted for using PR rep in phony Mac-to-PC "switch" ad.
National organization has big plans for Bill O'Reilly.
Thursday, October 17, 2002
On TV news, it's a mean, mean, mean, mean world.
The Washington sniper has hijacked our discourse, howls Bob Somerby, "and our public discussions are back in the hands of the collection of losers, flunkies and know-nothings who led us to September 11 with their mindless Gary Condit debate."
U.S. offers France and Russia a compromise proposal for a two-step resolution on Iraq.
Gen. Anthony Zinni, lays out his reservations about a potential war with Iraq and takes issue with hawks in and around the administration who downplay the importance of Arab sentiment in the region: "I'm not sure which planet they live on, because it isn't the one that I travel."
Revealed: VP Dick Cheney's shocking past!
Down on Don Military and civilian officials tell the Washington Post that there's "a huge discrepancy between the outside perception of Rumsfeld and the way he is seen inside the Pentagon," where he's described as "frequently abusive and indecisive, trusting only a tiny circle of close advisers, seemingly eager to slap down officers with decades of distinguished service."
U.S. tells India no pre-emptive strikes for you.
Mark Steel assumes that "Saddam must be especially pleased after the disappointment of only getting 99.96 per cent last time. Now he seems to have won over the floating voter."
Although the White House insists that it isn't "wagging the dog" on Iraq to divert attention from domestic issues, Antonia Zerbisias writes that "The media dog has not only been wagged, it's rolled over at Bush's feet."
Pollster John Zogby says that "It all has come home to roost" for U.S. voters, leaving Republican and Democratic candidates having to cope with the "politics of disappointment."
Nature writer Richard Coniff, author of "The Natural History of the Rich: A Field Guide," analyzes the behavioral traits of power lunchers at New York's Four Seasons. In the book he argues that rich people are more like animals than are other humans. Read an excerpt.
"Mogul Style" takes conspicuous consumption to the next level.
A new Council on Foreign Relations report says that fundraising by al-Qaeda sympathizers continues unabated in Saudi Arabia, and that the Bush administration's efforts to cut off funds for international terrorism are destined to fail unless it confronts the Saudis.
Pakistan's coalition of six Islamist parties -- which wants the U.S. military out of the country -- has named a supporter of bin Laden as its prime-ministerial candidate.
Can "The Bulldozer" Be Stopped? Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and Hamas are locked in war's embrace, says Amy Wilentz, with Sharon needing Hamas' suicide bombers to destroy Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority: "Once that's done, Hamas will be easier to run under: It has no standing, no international legitimacy, no Western friends. He can just blow it away."
Israelis attack journalists covering settlement dismantling.
Friday, October 18, 2002
Paul Krugman says that President Bush has made good on his campaign promise to change the tone in Washington: "The strategy used to sell the Bush tax cut was simply to deny the facts — and to lash out at anyone who tried to point them out. And it's a strategy that, having worked there, is now being applied across the board."
Slate's Daniel Gross debunks Bush's oft-uttered claim that passage of a terrorism insurance bill will create 300,000 construction jobs: "If a president repeats the number frequently enough, it might enter the lingua franca. But that doesn't make it accurate. In fact, the folks whose jobs the terror-insurance quagmire threatens are more likely to be wearing wing tips than hard hats."
A U.S. District Court Judge orders the release of documents from VP Cheney's energy task force. In what the judge called a "startling revelation," government lawyers admitted that they haven't reviewed all of the documents, despite their claim that every one is sensitive and should be kept secret.
U.S. intelligence officials tell the New York Times that Pakistan supplied critical equipment for North Korea's nuclear weapons program, in exchange for missiles it could use to counter India's nuclear arsenal.
Read an American ex-pat's letter from Bali.
Bali Hai A Sydney writer finds that the Bali bomb has caused "a weird sense of excitement" in Australia, "a sense that, like on 11 September, history is being made and you are the lucky witness."
Australia's prime minister is heckled in Bali, by family members of the killed and missing, who are demanding that the government do more to speed up the process of identifying the dead.
Bush administration officials express concern that the rash of recent terrorist attacks could undermine public support for a confrontation with Iraq.
Nicholas Kristof thinks that "the prattle about creating a democratic model on the Tigris is just a shrewd White House marketing attempt to bait and switch." He quotes the editor of a Kuwaiti newspaper who says "There will not be a democracy in Iraq, not a real democracy. That would mean allowing a Shiite state. America and the gulf countries cannot afford that."
The president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation says that "If we go to war it's not about oil ... But after Saddam, it becomes all about oil."
In a Grand Rapids speech that flew under the national media radar, William Seidman, a senior economic adviser under four U.S. presidents, said that war against Iraq is "probably the most bullish thing I can think of," and, that controlling the country’s oil fields is "at least as important as eliminating weapons of mass destruction."
Monday, October 21, 2002
An Oregon ballot initiative that would create the nation's first universal health care system, is drawing fierce opposition from the health insurance and hospital industries.
Why the anti-anxiety drug Paxil may give you something to worry about.
As the FDA considers loosening rules governing drug advertising, there has been a big drop in agency demands that companies fix distortions in their ads.
Political spending on television ads has eclipsed the record amount of $678 million spent in the 2000 campaign and could hit $1 billion by election day. See how much TV stations in your area have raked in.
Pay to Play A new study that analyzed more than 2,400 local TV news broadcasts between Sept. 18 and Oct. 4., found that 53 percent contained no coverage of political campaigns.
Spinsanity examines the media feeding frenzy that ensued after the Drudge Report linked to a conservative advocacy group's press release that falsely accused the Democratic Socialists of America of planning to send people to Minnesota to illegally vote for Sen. Paul Wellstone.
Justin Raimondo says that the anti-war movement is being unfairly smeared.
London's Sunday Times reports that according to a U.S. intelligence document, an al-Qaeda operative who was arrested in Indonesia last June said that bin Laden financed the Bali bombing, providing $130,000 that was used to purchase three tons of explosives from Indonesian military sources.
Authorities are searching for an Indonesian cleric with the nom de guerre of "Hambali," who is believed to be al-Qaeda's mastermind in the region and who is suspected of instigating the Bali attacks.
Eric Margolis says that the West is overestimating al-Qaeda's reach. He estimates that the "small, tightly knit organization" is comprised of "about 300 hardened jihadis."
Debka claims that bin Laden is in Saudi Arabia and working closely with Baghdad. (scroll down)
Feeding Fundamentalism Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria argues that while the Bush administration has a coherent military strategy in place, "it does not have a similar political one. And on that crucial front, the war on terror is failing."
Ha'aretz reports that Israel is seeking $10 billion in U.S. aid to get its economy moving
Israeli soldiers and settlers come to blows over dismantling of settlements.
Citing a national poll that found respondents more concerned about snipers than other terrorists, William Powers writes that "it's one thing to cover a dramatic regional murder spree, and it's another to hype it so relentlessly that half the people in the country think they might be gunned down the next time they run out to the drugstore."
Journalism professor defends media coverage, citing the public's insatiable appetite for information on the story.
Turkish police believe a man suspected of shooting and wounding seven people with a pellet gun, is imitating the D.C.-area sniper.
Salon reports on how Bob Crane's son Scotty has come to his late father's defense, retailing dad's home porn on a Web site that "may be the first to offer celebrity skin as a protest vehicle."
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
George Monbiot reports that for the past nine months, priests, tribal leaders and a journalist in West Papua, have been trying to warn the world that an Islamic fundamentalist movement -- supported by the Indonesian police and army -- was using their land as a training ground.
An al-Qaeda operative has reportedly told the FBI that Hambali, Jemaah Islamiya's chief of operations, is planning small bombings in bars, cafes or nightclubs frequented by westerners in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia.
A columnist for Pakistan's Friday Times, who notes that Saudi Arabia has been above criticism in his country, writes that the "strident, intolerant, violent voices" of Wahabism, "appear to have set the current Islamic agenda, an agenda whose costs are now being borne by the entire world of Islam, including Muslims living in other countries."
Nicholas Kristof contends that Americans' "harsh denunciations of Saudi Arabia as a terrorist state sound as unbalanced as the conspiratorial ravings of Saudi fundamentalists themselves."
An Egyptian Web designer has exiled to Moscow, after being sentenced to one year in prison for posting a satirical poem written by his father -- a revered Egyptian poet -- more than 30 years ago, following the 1967 war against Israel. More from Al Ahram Weekly.
A Palestinian woman responds to the staging of "Mr. Perfect," a play that deals with divorce and the problems that women have achieving self-fulfillment in Palestinian society: "A play? In Gaza? About feminism? With Palestinian actresses? Unbelievable!"
President Bush and his advisers strategically send mixed signals about whether Saddam could avoid regime change by changing the nature of his regime.
Extra! quotes ten major U.S. media outlets that changed their story on Iraq. In 1998 all ten reported that the U.N. ordered its weapons inspectors to leave the country. But in 2002, they all reported that the inspectors had been kicked out.
Counterspin Central debunks a claim made in a New York Times' article that "The White House has generally been cautious about using the reports of the Prague meeting to help make the case for war with Iraq."
Dana Milbank examines recent flights of fancy by President Bush: "Statements on subjects ranging from the economy to Iraq suggest that a president who won election underscoring Al Gore's knack for distortions and exaggerations has been guilty of a few himself."
Coverage of the war in Chechnya is cited as a reason why Russian President Putin rescinded a 1991 decree guaranteeing broadcast freedoms for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Chechnya's Challenging Census "Take the point, 'size of space occupied,'" says a Grozny census taker. "Many of our residents live in semi-destroyed homes. In my own two-room apartment, one room is closed. The floor has fallen through from the fifth to the first story. What should I say?"
Time reports on a retired computer specialist who has become obsessed with the anthrax killer, launching his own unofficial investigations.
Hardcore promophiles are on the loose, as TV networks and stations hype their sniper coverage.
The Rittenhouse Review's James Capozzola has a few words for Republicans who say "I’m a liberal on social issues, but I’m a conservative on fiscal and economic policy."
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Robert Fisk says that "Bin Laden Unmasked," a new book by Al-Jazeera's Islamabad correspondent, contains a treasure trove of unpublished material, including the claim that 30 Americans fought for bin Laden in Afghanistan during the Taliban era.
Although the use of precision-guided bombs increased from three percent in the Gulf War to nearly 70 percent in Afghanistan, the ratio of civilian casualties to bombs dropped has actually grown, and may have grown even more than is generally reported.
You didn't have to be good to get to play in the "World Series of Journalism" that was Afghanistan, you simply had to show up.
Uzbekiban The banning of billiards halls by Uzbekistan authorrities, on the grounds that they are places of vice, has left some Uzbeks comparing their government's action to that of theTaliban.
Remarks by Jerry Falwell are helping the Pakistani press fan the flames of anti-Americanism, according to an Islamic studies professor: "In Pakistan, very few people would make the distinction of what, say, Falwell is saying and what President Bush is saying, because many of these countries are run by military strongmen so that the official position and the private position are more or less intertwined."
Shiite Muslims takin' it to the streets of Baghdad in rare protest.
Why the Arab street is not as important as the Arab basement.
Pierre Tristam lived in Beirut during the 70s -- when a handful of snipers "could paralyze the whole city." He fears that reaction to the D.C.-area sniper, "points to an obstinate belief in inalienable safety. That kind of fantasy should have expired with Sept. 11. It seems instead to have hardened into a hazardous illusion of invulnerability."
"The cumulative effect of the coverage -- and of each network trying to out-shout the others -- suggests a modern tower of Babel," writes Tom Shales, "with potentially catastrophic consequences."
An LAPD officer says that after watching the "experts" hauled in by the networks to fill the 24-hour news cycle, one thing is transparently clear: "Nobody knows nothin'. Soon we'll be seeing some talking head identified by a graphic such as this: 'Amos McDuff — watched every episode of Mannix.'"
A cantankerous Jimmy Breslin tells CNN's Aaron Brown that the media's role in the sniper case is to "criticize the police. You've got to be on them. You can't leave them alone. And you can't -- I saw them, they were like balances on the television today. I couldn't believe what I was looking at. What is this?" (scroll down)
TomPaine.com op ad asks: "Can A Sitting President Be Charged With Plagiarism?"
Thursday, October 24, 2002
Jonathan Steele calls the Moscow hostage-seizure "a grim reminder to the Kremlin of how badly its hardline policies in Chechnya have failed."
The Moscow Times and "rebel" Web site Kavkaz-Center provide updates. The play being staged -- at "a former house of culture owned by State Ball-Bearing Plant No. 1," -- was "Nord-Ost," billed as "the first Russian daily-running musical show."
Arianna Huffington's latest column -- "I helped blow up a Bali nightclub -- by driving my SUV to work every day!" -- has spawned a fundraising drive to pay for an anti-SUV ad campaign. Plus: Mark Fiore on White House hybrids.
Your Tax Dollars on Vacation The Washington Post reports that more than 300 Bush administration appointees have taken vacation time and are being flown by the Republican party to states with close House and Senate campaigns: "Scholars called Bush's partisan use of the government unprecedented for a midterm election."
DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe says the Democrats top target is Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and that Republicans "made a huge strategic error" by having the president campaign almost nonstop until the election: "It will force him to talk about the economy."
With Workers Party candidate "Lula" poised to become Brazil's next president, Alternet's Steve Cobble suggests that the U.S. "surprise everyone," by embarking on "a new relationship with the South. We could begin a partnership with Brazil, aimed at bridging the rich/poor gap, bridging the North/South gap, and investing in a stable, growing democracy."
Some countries are suspicious that the U.S. has deliberately set a hair-trigger in its new draft resolution to the U.N., allowing it to interpret even a minor violation as the right to launch military action against Iraq.
Like a Hawk Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his senior advisers are making another attempt at tying Iraq to terrorism, by assigning a team to pore over information that has already been analyzed by U.S. spy agencies.
Retro Poll asks: "Does the public opinion reported in major media polls reflect the true values and beliefs of those Americans polled, or not?"
A refuge from cell-phone chatter is under threat, as airlines and regulators push to make in-flight use a reality.
As rival Congolese armies fight for control of coltan -- a vital commodity for the one billion plus cell phones in use -- Globalvision reports on a new Worldwatch Institute study examining the ties between Western demand for consumer luxuries and Third World resource wars.
Friday, October 25, 2002
A Mercury News report that the Bush administration had detailed knowledge for more than a year about North Korea's nuclear program raises questions about why it sat on the threat.
The differences between Iraq and North Korea? Michael Kinsley says oil and Israel, and the president's not talking.
Stratfor suspects that U.S. officials had hoped to keep a lid on the story of a foiled coup plot in Qatar, confirming only that "something happened."
Council on American-Islamic Relations' spokesman Ibrahim Hooper says: "It's like a ball in your stomach. 'Oh God, here we go again.'"
Although there is no evidence of a terror link, beyond claims that Muhammad expressed anti-American sentiments, Justin Raimondo says that hasn't stopped the "War Party" from trying to impose its agenda on the sniper.
"News has become routine and cheap," says Al Gore, "more standardized and homogenized. [The networks] are having to sell a new kind of hybrid product - news plus. News plus entertainment, news plus attitude, news plus opinion."
Pundits and reporters are beginning to question Bush's tendency to dissemble on policy matters, but during the 2000 campaign, they stuck to the "preferred story."
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer responds to Dana Milbank's article, "For Bush, Facts Are Malleable," calling the Washington Post's reporting "dubious, if not wrong." Paul Krugman embraces Milbank's story line, minus the euphemisms.
The most shameless lie in this campaign season?
Saturday, October 26, 2002
David Broder quotes a Wellstone campaign volunteer who says that "People say there are no political heroes left in the world, but we know better. We had one here."
Star Tribune columnist Doug Grow writes that "On election days, Paul Wellstone would board his green bus and the ugliness and the cynicism of modern politics would vanish."
Sen. Paul Wellstone "was a special treasure," writes Joshua Micah Marshall, "a sort of genuinely progressive, utterly engaged and sincere politician who somehow captured what was essential in the aspirations of his party, even if he supported policies that others didn't."
Arianna Huffington: "America loses a bold leader."
"Wellstone was willing to be the "1" in a 99-1 vote," writes Geov Parish, "and that's why people mourn him so."
Wellstone Was Lacking Mickey Kaus says that he "lacked the qualities that make a successful modern U.S. Senator: He wasn't a poser, a trimmer, a schemer, a dissembler, a self-aggrandizing egomaniac or a vicious infighter. He wasn't an a--hole." (scroll down to 10/25)
"I couldn't say this of any other public official," writes E.J. Dionne, "but I think I know what Wellstone would say about what's happened: 'Don't mourn, organize.' That's what he did, that's who he was, and that's why he'll be so hard to replace."
The Nation's John Nichols on Sheila Wellstone's Senate career.
Those who disagreed with Wellstone often called him "the last liberal in America," and "maybe he was," writes Pioneer Press columnist Nick Coleman. "They meant it as an insult but he wore it as a badge of honor. Whatever his detractors said of Paul Wellstone, he had a heart that was bigger and braver than anyone else in Washington."
"He wasn't supposed to have left like this," writes one of those detractors, a conservative radio talk show host. "And you know it wasn't supposed to be like this or else a guy who didn't agree with him on anything wouldn't have felt such a grip in the throat."
In this appreciation of Senator "Softie," the Washington Post's Mark Leibovich calls Wellstone "one of the great agonizers in American politics," who "always seemed to relish the time he spent in gray areas."
Minnesota writer Bill Holm tells of speaking with Wellstone in 1998, just before Jesse Ventura became governor: "How curious, I told Paul, that the two most interesting politicians in Minnesota at the moment should both be wrestlers. He replied with a wry smile: 'But I'm a real one.'"
Read excerpts from Wellstone's "The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda."
"There are some persistent myths about Wellstone that should be corrected before they are set in our collective eulogy," writes Pioneer Press columnist Laura Billings. "The first, that he was an 'extremist' representing 'the far left wing' of the Democratic party, two phrases repeated like a mantra by opponents in his most recent campaign. Look at the people who wept for him... battered women, immigrants, military veterans, young families, gays and lesbians, family farmers and every other underdog group. Then look at the people who won't -- that race-baiting talk radio demagogue who recently wished Wellstone would 'drop dead.' It wasn't Wellstone who was the extremist."
Wall Street Creeps Did the stock market move up on news that Sen. Wellstone had died?
"Senators ain't sissies," writes Peggy Noonan. "They can be one cold crew. But Wellstone touched them in a way that was special."
Sen. Tom Harkin said that "Paul Wellstone was my closest friend in the Senate. He was the most principled public servant I've ever known."
"I love this battle!" Sen. Wellstone was "a force of nature in an era of caution and blandness."
Critics tell the St. Petersburg Times that Russian authorities should have seen the theater seizure coming.
Fox News proposes covering Iraq weapons inspections.
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Brazil takes a leap of faith, and the unthinkable is made real.
Prisoners freed from Guantanamo accuse U.S. officials of relying too much on faulty information provided by Afghan warlords and say that dozens of low-level Taliban foot soldiers and Afghans are imprisoned on the island. One of the men said that he was 90 years old and another claimed to be 105.
In an article profiling al-Qaeda's new leaders, a U.S. official says that "It would be much easier if we had a more centralized structure to aim at, like al-Qaeda was in Afghanistan. Now, instead of a large, fixed target we have little moving targets all over the world, all armed and all dangerous. It is a much more difficult war to fight this way." Plus: The will of Bin laden and his man in Chechnya.
Although one critic of sniper coverage said "the airwaves were hijacked by a story that was important to a small section of the country," Frank Rich argues, in a column titled "What Al-Qaeda Learned in D.C.," that it was a national story, made "both scary and substantial" by the "mercilessness with which it exposed our permeability to a terrorist attack at home, more than a year after 9/11 'changed everything.' "
Rich references the Council on Foreign Relations' report, "America Still Unprepared — America Still in Danger."
Scientists say that a new generation of weapons being developed by the U.S., undermines international treaties on biological and chemical warfare.
Walter Cronkite warns that U.S. action against Iraq, without U.N. support, could set the stage for World War III.
Numbers Gamed By most accounts, last weekend's anti-war rally in Washington, D.C. drew a crowd of 100,000, but the the New York Times' reporter saw just "thousands of protesters" and an NPR correspondent witnessed "fewer than 10,000."
Hawks keep doves at bay on Washington Post's editorial pages.
Jeffrey St. Clair reviews "War Plan Iraq," which he calls "a bracing antidote to the daily trawl of Pentagon-approved press releases that pass for war reporting in the U.S. press."
Former Clinton aide Dick Morris says that for President Bush to salvage a Republican victory this fall, he "needs to stop campaigning, stop futzing with the U.N. and start to recreate a national sense of urgency about Iraq and terror in general."
Run, Don't Crawl Bush bans cable news channels from Air Force One, preferring videotapes of Texas Rangers games and military-themed movies.
Bob Dylan dedicates "The Times They Are a-Changin' " to "a great man and a great senator from Minnesota," in the only words he spoke during a Denver concert.
Although much attention has been paid to Wellstone's vote on Iraq, Paul Krugman says that "the most consistent theme in his record was economic — his courageous support for the interests of ordinary Americans against the growing power of our emerging plutocracy. In an age of fake populists, Paul Wellstone was the real thing."
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
In a Sierra magazine interview, Mark Green, author of "Selling Out: How Big Corporate Money Buys Elections, Rams Through Legislation, and Betrays our Democracy," talks about his plan for limiting the influence of money in politics, and the role that money played in defeating the McCain-Kerry bill to tighten fuel efficiency standards.
Although online gambling is illegal in the U.S., a real-money election option exchange, run by the University of Iowa, has authority to operate as a research and educational tool
Nathan Newman challenges Mickey Kaus' prediction that the U.S. electorate's 50-50 split will be a long-term proposition. Plus: The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg on the long shadow of the 2000 election.
Procession of mourners "looked like God had given new orders to Noah: Bring 1,000 of every kind of Minnesotan."
Palestinian farmers are being denied access to their olive groves, either because they're adjacent to Israeli settlements, in closed military areas, or on the outskirts of surrounded towns. Since October 2000, Israeli soldiers and settlers are said to have destroyed about 200,000 Palestinian olive trees, at a cost to farmers of roughly $10 million.
Israeli military sits on the sidelines as "harvest robbers" deny Palestinians access to bumper crop.
More than one million Japanese men in their teens and twenties have become hermits -- never leaving their rooms. One 17-year-old has spent the last three years sequestered in his family's kitchen.
The Center for Digital Democracy's Jeff Chester explains how big media companies that offer Internet service, like Comcast, ATT and AOL, plan to institute consumption-based pricing -- offering users a limited amount of bandwidth per month, and then charging extra fees when it's exceeded.
CIA challenges Bush administration again, warning that U.S. counterterrorist operations may not eliminate the threat of future attacks because they fail to address the root causes of terrorism.
Thursday, October 31, 2002
Disinformation War Read how al-Qaeda uses its "keen understanding" of the U.S. intelligence-collection system to exploit the natural tendency to over-warn about potential terrorist attacks.
Handwritten letters signed "the hero Mujahadeen of Afghanistan," and found near four girls' schools that were attacked last Friday, appear to confirm that a campaign has begun against the education of Afghan girls. Hundreds of girls' schools have opened since the Taliban were ousted from power.
Debased and abused for two decades, value of Afghani turns to dust.
In a rare interview, alleged Mexican drug lord Arellano Felix tells the Washington Post that "It would stop being a business if the United States didn't want drugs. When something is out of reach, it is more interesting to people. If drugs were like cigarettes or alcohol, there wouldn't be a black market. It would put an end to the capos."
Narco News reports that the U.S. Marines have been ordered into Columbia. Sources say that two batalions -- roughly 1,100 people including support -- will be inserted in February, 2003, with orders to eliminate all high officers of the FARC.
No Joke Representatives from Albania and Russia among those sent to monitor Florida's elections.
David Corn says that Washington loved Paul Wellstone "more in death than in life."
Minnesota Republicans ask for 3 1/2 hour make good on 15-minute political speech, as Governor Jesse Ventura — surprise! — joins the fray. Plus: Soft-spoken CPA surprises all by bringing the heat for a political sidewinder.
A conservative think-tanker endorses the idea of Walter Mondale returning to Washington, because his "maturity might curb a bit of the adolescent carping and partisan bickering that have become staples of the modern Senate."
The author of the short story collection, "Dear Mr. President," says that he received a note from President Bush calling his book "unpatriotic and ridiculous and just plain bad writing." Gabe Hudson also says that FBI agents have been at his recent book readings and that the book's Web site is being monitored by the government. Read an excerpt from the book and an interview with the author.
Independent columnist tells how he became hot in Iceland.
Mesmerizing digital clock draws you in.