Today's Papers

No Cloture Club

The Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and New York Timesall lead with mostly Democratic senators blocking a second attempt to confirm John Bolton as U.N. ambassador. Fifty-four senators voted for cloture, that is to end a block on the nomination, six votes short of what was needed. The Washington Postfronts the latest Bolton defeat but leads withSecretary of State Condoleezza Rice visiting the Middle East, where she took a few swings at the undemocratic ways of the U.S.’s allies there. USA Today’s lead goes with another wrinkle on housing exuberance: The number of unbuilthouses for sale has climbed 47 percent in the last year. “Builders have a long pipeline for development that will be difficult for them to shut down, even when demand begins to weaken,” warned one analyst.

As the WP emphasizes, Bolton has lost ground: The last time his nomination went up for a vote, three more senators backed him.This time, one Republican, Sen. George Voinovich, voted against cloture, and six senators, including three Republicans, simply didn’t vote. Those supporting a continued block on Bolton cited the White House’s refusal to hand over documents a Senate committee has requested.

As the Journal puts it, there are “White House signals” that President Bush might now bypass the Senate and go for a recess appointment—basically hand Bolton the job on the down low while the Senate is outta town. If that happens, Bolton would get an 18-month stint. Slate’s Fred Kaplan says if the president were to do that, it would be “extremely peculiar—beyond precedent, in fact.” The Republican chair of the Senate intel committee didn’t seem thrilled with the possibility, either. “Let’s not go down [that] road,” he said. 

While Rice saved her harshest words for Syria and Iran, and while her criticism of longtime U.S. buddies was couched, her ally-directed jabs were stronger and more direct than anything U.S. officials have said in the region before. The promised Egyptian elections “must meet objective standards that define every free election,” she said in Cairo. Rice later flew to Saudi Arabia, a country, she said, where “many people pay an unfair price for exercising their basic rights.”

The Post off-leads and LAT fronts a top cleric in Iran claiming the recent vote was rigged. The cleric was a candidate in the elections and has resigned from one of the religious councils that holds power behind the scenes. A spokesman for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard warned the cleric to “revise his statement. There are certain red lines nobody should cross.” Meanwhile, three reformist papers that carried the cleric’s accusations were ordered closed. With runoff elections scheduled for Friday, the LAT says there’s a “sense that momentum is surging” for Tehran’s hard-line candidate.

About three dozen people—mostly members of Iraqi security forces—were killed in attacks across the country. The deadliest bombing occurred in the normally quiet Kurdish town of Erbil; about a dozen Kurdish militiamen were killed and 100 were wounded. The LAT’s story, datelined Erbil, has plenty of detail on that attack.

The NYT reefers Afghan officials saying they foiled an assassination attempt against the outgoing U.S. ambassador minutes before it was set to happen. Three men, reportedly Pakistanis, were captured with rockets and rifles in their car. The United States acknowledged that the men were taken but said it wouldn’t confirm that the ambassador was the target. Then there’s this potentially more substantive bit:

Afghan officials abandoned their long-held reticence over Pakistan’s behavior toward Afghanistan, and the two senior officials accused Pakistan on Monday of interfering in Afghanistan and of supporting militants […] Afghanistan has asked for a high-level meeting with Pakistan and the United States to discuss the problem, but so far Pakistan has expressed willingness only to meet at a lower level.

The NYT says inside that the man secretly hired by the chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to monitor one show’s political leaning was himself an employee of a conservative-funded media foundation

Everybody mentions that a judge sentenced Adelphia cable giant’s founder, 80-year-old John Regis, to 15 years for fraud. His son was sentenced to 20 years.

Face Time … The NYT’s science section looks at a study in which students were given one second to peek at photos of not particularly prominent opposing Senate candidates. The students were then asked to name the more competent-looking politician of the two. Turns out the student-chosen lookers had been the winners in 72 percent of the races

Oh, Wiki, You’re (Not) So Fine … Last Friday, the LAT launched a “wikitorial“—an editorial in which readers took part in a grand, group rewriting—or what’s known in colloquial terms as a clusterf***.  It was taken down Sunday afternoon. This morning’s LAT gives the gory details:

Sometime after midnight Saturday, [one Times editor said], he stopped monitoring the site for the night, and later pornographic images began to pour in. One image that was repeatedly posted is infamous on the Internet for its depiction of a man’s private parts.

TP is familiar with the image. But he won’t be, er, goated into revealing it. Meanwhile, with the wikiperiment getting all the attention, the LAT editorial page has quietly launched a more modest, much better, innovation: Ripping on other papers’ editorials, in near real time.