Today's Papers

Back to Basics

Today’s Washington Post lead says the Democrats’ agenda is all but stalled, partially due to the Iraq funding debate. The New York Times leads with an investigative panel that wants MLB players to testify about the nexus of steroids and baseball. For its part, the Los Angeles Times leads with a local story and a human interest story from Iraq—off-leading with recommendations from the U.N. climate change panel and Paris Hilton’s sentence to 45 days in the slammer.

Some Democrats are worried that the debate over Iraq war funding has become a legislative quagmire, impeding progress on their “Six for ‘06” agenda. Despite an early bill-writing blitz, none of their proposals for homeland security, the minimum wage, tuition, prescription drugs, and energy—to name a few—have become law. Dems aim to have more done by Memorial Day, but several told the WP not to count on it.

Former Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, says his panel will ask more than three dozen MLB players to answer questions about steroids. Mitchell has no subpoena power, and players are allowed to take the Fifth, but Mitchell sounds pretty determined. Barry Bonds, already in trouble for possible perjury, may be asked to testify “down the road.”

The NYT off-lead says many Guantanamo Bay detainees are refusing to cooperate with their lawyers because they think they’re powerless and/or tools of the U.S. government. The NYT says a recent Department of Justice crackdown on the lawyers’ access to detainees and unfavorable rulings on habeas corpus have made things worse. The paper also reports that Gitmo investigators are intentionally undermining detainee trust in their lawyers by—for example—telling them that their lawyers are gay and Jewish.

Can we afford to combat global warming? Depends on which paper you read. A U.N. panel recommended several climate-change options costing from .1 percent to 3 percent of global GDP. The NYT calls the plans eminently doable, while the LAT says they’re unrealistic and doomed to failure. The WP says, well—you know—there are trade-offs. The papers also disagree on how politicized the U.N. panel’s processes were. According to the NYT, world governments were remarkably cooperative and didn’t seriously interfere with the report’s findings. To hear the LAT tell it, China, the United States, and India tried to gut the report over the objections of overzealous Europeans.

The WP says the Democratic and Republican parties are trying unsuccessfully to stop states from moving their primaries ever earlier. Florida’s move to Jan. 29 will probably prompt moves from New Hampshire and Iowa. The parties are threatening to disqualify delegates from states who schedule too early. True to type, the GOP wants zero tolerance for such moves, while the Democrats say they want to negotiate with Florida.

Both the WP and LAT front a Department of Defense report saying many U.S. troops wouldn’t report their fellow soldiers for abusing civilians in Iraq. The report details soldiers’ attitudes toward torture and the abuse of civilians, noting that longer tours of duty increase the risk to mental health, which in turn makes such abuse more likely. Everyone notes that Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently ordered tours of duty lengthened by 90 days.

The NYT and LAT front profiles of presumptive French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The NYT piece focuses on race: The Hungarian Sarko is not overly popular among France’s black suburban minorities—in fact, he can’t even venture into the suburbs for fear of inducing violence—yet he’s also a strong supporter of integrationist policies like affirmative action. The LAT instead fronts a shameless mash note comparing Sarkozy to visionaries Reagan and Thatcher.

The NYT also fronts White House preparations for a white-tie dinner with the Queen of England, which it calls the social event of the entire Bush administration. The piece plays up the contrast between the informal president, who “drinks water straight from the bottle,” and the Xtreme protocol required for a royal visit. TP didn’t know it was impolite to drink water straight from the bottle!

Everyone says Scottish nationalists beat Labor in elections yesterday, putting a referendum on Scottish independence awkwardly on the table and embarrassing soon-to-be Prime Minister Gordon Brown (a Scot). There were also massive voting irregularities caused by, according to the WP, a man with a golf club attacking boxes of votes—plus heavy fog that prevented helicopters from delivering tallies.

The LAT fronts Paris Hilton sentenced to jail for driving with a suspended license.

And when John Edwards soft-pedaled a question about hedge funds during last week’s debate, he couldn’t have known that he was defending Gordon Gekko. That’s right: the NYT reports that the notorious inside trader will return as a hedge-fund manager in Fox’s planned sequel to Wall Street. Which America does he belong to again?