Today's Papers

No French Kiss

Most of the papers lead with Iraq: The Wall Street Journal  and Washington Post emphasize France and Germany’s blockage of a proposal by the U.S. to have NATO offer indirect help with any invasion. The New York Times leads with the White House’s response: Officials said they might try to embarrass France and Germany by somehow pushing them to acknowledge that Iraq hasn’t fully lived to up to the resolution’s demands. The Los Angeles Times plays up President Bush’s warning to Iraqi generals: Use chemical weapons and you’re headed for a war tribunal. USA Today leads with a new Fed report showing that economic inequality grew during the twilight years of the boom: Between 1998 and the end of 2001, the net worth of families in the top 10 percent of income grew 69 percent, to $833,600. During the same period, the net worth of families in the bottom 10th grew 24 percent, to $7,900. The Fed survey also found that 52 percent of families own stocks, up from 37 percent 10 years ago.

Citing “administration officials,” the NYT’s lead says that Franco-German opposition is even ticking off Secretary of State Colin Powell. Supposedly Powell is now open to the idea of non-U.N.-endorsed invasion.

The NYT also says that the administration plans to argue that, “Iraq has failed to disprove the contentions of the United States and others about its weapons of mass destruction.” As TP has mentioned before, to simply assert that the administration is trying to prove a negative doesn’t do justice to the facts: There were tons of chemical weapons that inspectors had marked for destruction in ‘98; Iraq should have records that it destroyed the stuff, yet it says it doesn’t. Asked about the discrepancy, Hans Blix said (in the LAT) the Iraqis “simply say there is nothing left of this, and there is no evidence that we can view, and there are no more documents.” Asked if Iraq was actively cooperating with the resolution’s demands, Blix said, “No, I don’t think they have come to that stage yet.” An intriguing op-ed in USAT (really!) agrees with that and says the U.S. still shouldn’t invade.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice decides to visit enemy territory and pens a NYT op-ed: “Iraq is still treating inspections as a game. It should know that time is running out.”

The 10th paragraph of USAT’s lead briefly mentions: “Median net worth for whites rose 17 percent to $120,900 but fell 4.5 percent to $17,000 for minorities.” If those stats are correct, they deserve a lot more attention.

The Journal says that the White House’s top economist, Glenn Hubbard, plans to resign. White House officials said Hubbard, who was one of the key shapers of the proposed tax cut, just wants to spend more time with his kids in New York. According to the WSJ, Hubbard will likely be replaced by Gregory Mankiw, a well-regarded Harvard economist who, as it happens, has long argued that big budget deficits are a bad thing.

A Journal poll found that 61 percent of respondents think Bush’s tax cut won’t help the economy. They’re right, says a  column in the NYT’s business section: “It is hard to imagine $670 billion in tax cuts that would stimulate the economy less than the Bush proposal.” (The column is worth reading; it’s a particularly clear assessment of the potential economic impact of the cuts.)

A front-page Post piece notices that one of President Bush’s appointees to an AIDS advisory panel has called HIV the “gay plague” and contended that “Christ can rescue the homosexual.” The Post notices that the offensive phrasing was removed from the guy’s site after AIDS activists starting rumbling about it. (Here’s  one of the pages, pre-scrubbing.)

As the NYT predicted, SEC commissioners—led by Harvey Pitt, who’s sticking around until his replacement gets confirmed—voted yesterday to water down some of the rules that last year’s corporate reform bill outlined. The move scores the rare hat-trick, earning outraged editorials in the LAT, NYT, and WP.

The NYT says that the administration plans to allow religious groups to use federal housing money, so long as whatever is built with the funds is used to deliver social services. Buildings that are duel-use will be eligible for dough, so long as the money is used for only secular areas. Of course, as critics noted, there might not always be such a clear line between a building’s sacred and service quarters. Which led Rep. Barney Frank to wonder, “Are we going to start sending in the inspector general to charge people with committing a bar mitzvah?”