Today's Papers

To Russia: No Love

The Los Angeles Times leads with a piece saying that funding for a U.S. program to help Russia dismantle its own chemical and biological weapons has stalled. A few Republicans in Congress have put the kibosh on the program because they don’t think that Russia has made effective use of the money it’s already received. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox (online) with word that Kenyan authorities have refused to give Israel some evidence from Thursday’s hotel bombing. The Washington Post  leads with a peek at an academic study that shows that nearly half of the people who joined the U.S. workforce during the 1990s were immigrants. That’s the highest total in years; during the ‘80s immigrants account for about a quarter of the workforce growth. USA Today leads with a war-on-terror wrap-up: Responding to Thursday’s failed missile attack on an Israeli airliner, some senators on the Sunday talk shows said that the government should move to protect American planes from such threats. But that probably won’t happen since it would cost millions per plane to equip them with anti-missile technology. (James Fallows has a piece in Slate on the same issue.) The New York Timeslead checks in on the level of support among Saddam’s neighbors for a potential invasion. There’s nothing new here: Most of the countries’ leaders suggest that, to varying degrees, they’ll support a takedown of Iraq provided—or with the hope—that: 1) it’s done under U.N. auspices; 2) the U.S. promises to try to keep a post-invasion Iraq from splintering; 3) the campaign is short and there aren’t loads of civilians killed; and 4) the U.S. ponies up some “financial assistance” (what’s known locally as baksheesh).

The authors of the workforce report, which comes out of Northeastern University, contend that without the infusion of immigrant labor, there would have been labor shortages during the ‘90s and the boom might have floundered. As an example: 7-Eleven wouldn’t have been able to expand as aggressively.

A few months ago, USAT covered the lack of disarmament funding. But the story didn’t get much attention or follow-up.

The WP goes above-the-fold with a piece contending, “ANTIWAR EFFORT GAINS MOMENTUM.” The story says that there are an “extraordinary array” of people opposing any war with Iraq, including religious groups, unions, and corporate leaders. And who exactly is in this wide coalition? The only “corporate leader” mentioned is Ben Cohen, of Ben & Jerry’s fame. (By the way, Cohen doesn’t own the company anymore.) Then there are the anti-war union leaders. The Post rolls out AFL-CIO president John Sweeney,who has been “speaking out against an attack.” Except he hasn’t been. As evidence of Sweeney’s antiwar cred, the Post cites a letter he sent Congress in October. But the letter is solidly middle-of-the-road: “Our nation’s long-term interests require that we assemble a broad international coalition for an aggressive and effective policy of disarmament in Iraq.” Sweeney never says he opposes military action. The antiwar effort may or may not be picking up speed, but the Post’s piece is just sloppy, the result of reportorial wish-fulfillment.

The NYT mentions inside that B-52s bombed a militia group (not AQ or Taliban) in Western Afghanistan after two factions began fighting and one of them fired on American Green Berets.

The Journal runs a Page One piece pointing out that mostPentagon satellite programs, including those for missile defense, are way behind schedule and over budget. The article blames technical hurdles and the “inconsistent funding” of the 1990s (read: the peace dividend). One possible reason that is not mentioned: Many of these programs are part of the “black-budget.” That is, their funding is classified. So, there’s less oversight, which occasionally leads to things like, say, cost overruns.

A front-page piece in the NYT notes that Republican leaders in Congress have consolidated their power by instituting a new system for appointing chairmen of the appropriations subcommittees. Those subcommittees ultimately decide where the government spends most of its discretionary funding. Under the old rules, chairmen were appointed based on seniority. Now, GOP congressional leaders will make the picks.

Everybody mentions that Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., all but made it official yesterday that he’s running for president: He said he’s setting up an exploratory committee, which is what you need to do in order to start raising money.


The NYT flags a coming Esquire interview with a former White House aide who says the administration is obsessed with the political impact of things and doesn’t give two hoots about actual policy: John J. DiIulio Jr., who used to head the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and is, it should be noted, a Democrat, said, “There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you’ve got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.”