Today's Papers

Desperately Seeking Czar

The Washington Postleads with word that the White House wants to appoint a new czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but, not surprisingly, is having a hard time finding someone who wants the job. The New York Timesleads with a look at how a federal panel in charge of carrying out research relating to elections played down claims by experts that there was little evidence of voter fraud. This statement was removed from the final version of a report, which merely said the issue of voter fraud is currently under debate. The panel also appears to have played down assertions that there continue to be problems with voter intimidation.

The Los Angeles Timesleads with a new poll that reveals Americans are worried about the state of the economy but are still optimistic about the future of real estate investments. The Wall Street Journal tops its world-wide newsbox with the latest round of heated words between President Bush and Democratic lawmakers regarding the war spending bill. The president invited lawmakers to the White House to discuss the bill but emphasized he’s not willing to compromise. Democrats stood firm and said that sort of meeting would be useless. USA Todayleads with the National Transportation Safety Board saying that fatigue among air-traffic controllers is causing a real problem in aviation safety. Controllers who had not gotten much sleep played some role in at least four incidents that could have been fatal. The NTSB says the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t consider how much a controller’s performance can be affected by lack of sleep. 

The administration hasn’t revealed publicly that it is on the lookout for a new Afghanistan-Iraq czar, but the Post found out that at least three retired four-star generals were approached and they all said no, thanks. The administration apparently wants someone who would have a broad command of both wars and coordinate the often-contentious relationship between the Pentagon and the State Department, as well as some other agencies. But it’s having trouble finding someone who is interested, even among those who have traditionally been supporters of the administration.

The changes from the original to the final version of the report published by the Election Assistance Commission seem to follow the Republican point of view that voter fraud is a problem and intimidation at the polls really isn’t. Many looked at the evidence and say that the commission changed conclusions to support Republican-held beliefs. Members of the panel, however, say the wording of the report was changed because the supporting data was not up to par. The commission is supposed to have two Democrats and two Republicans but at the time the final report was released, one of the Democrats had left and had not yet been replaced.

Perhaps proving that most people don’t pay much attention to the news, only 16 percent of those polled by the LAT said they anticipated a decrease in real estate prices. But 60 percent said a recession is to some degree likely in the next year. Economists claim it’s important to pay attention to these feelings because regular people often sense a shift before experts see it reflected in statistics. Meanwhile, the NYT takes a look at housing prices and says on Page One that, despite conventional wisdom that has built up over the years, renting might not be such a bad economic decision after all.

The Post fronts, and everyone mentions, lawmakers delivering the first subpoena in the investigation into the firings of eight U.S. attorneys as they demanded the Justice Department turn over hundreds of uncensored documents. Although several subpoenas have been authorized in the past few weeks, this was the first one issued. Justice Department officials are furiously working to prepare Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for his appearance before the Senate next week, which many believe could seal his fate.

The NYT and LAT front the latest from Iraq. The NYT goes high with what is widely described as the fiercest day of fighting in Baghdad between Sunni militants and Iraqi and American forces since the start of the new security plan. The NYT gets word that the fighting broke out after the Iraqi army raided a mosque and killed two men. The LAT mentions the fighting but goes high with the female suicide bomber who killed as many as 19 people outside a police station northeast of Baghgad. Meanwhile, the U.S. military said four more American soldiers were killed. The Post notes there have been 45 U.S. casualties so far this month.

The papers have plenty of coverage on the continuing public apologies by Don Imus for his comments about the Rutgers University women’s basketball players. The Postand the WSJ go high with news that at least three advertisers decided to pull their ads from his program. “I don’t deserve to be fired,” Imus pleaded. In a news conference, the Rutgers coach said Imus’ statements were “deplorable, despicable and abominable and unconscionable.” The players said they will meet with Imus. The NYTand USATfront stories focused on the big business of his show and the money Imus makes for his bosses. The LAT talks about how previous questionable comments (Slate’s Timothy Noah has a handy list) have never hurt Imus’ ability to book guests.

Still want more Imus? The LAT publishes an op-ed by a civil rights attorney who says that “Imus should only be fired when the black artists who make millions of dollars rapping about black bitches and hos lose their recording contracts.” Over in the Post’s Style section, a piece examines how those who are accused of racist things always say they didn’t mean it, and another looks at how Imus’ regular guests are facing the difficult decision of whether they should go back to his show.