Today's Papers

Lone Rangers

The Washington Postleads with a look at how more than a third of President Bush’s most important campaign contributors haven’t given money to any of the Republicans currently running for the White House. The New York Timesleads with the increasing likelihood that the resolution calling the killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire genocide won’t pass the House. Since the beginning of the week, almost a dozen lawmakers have withdrawn their support for the resolution due to concerns that it could damage relations with Turkey. The Wall Street Journal leads its world-wide newsbox with Russian President Vladimir Putin issuing a “veiled warning” against attacking Iran. Five Caspian Sea nations meeting in Tehran declared that none would allow their countries to be used as a base for military strikes against any country in the region.

USA Todayleads with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson calling the housing downturn the “most significant current risk to our economy” and warning the problems are far from over. Paulson called on lenders and the government to help homeowners who are in trouble and said there should be changes in the credit industry, although he offered few details. The Los Angeles Timesalso leads with problems in the housing market but gives the story a local focus by noting that September home sales in Southern California fell to the lowest level since the data was first compiled almost two decades ago.

Bush’s Pioneers and Rangers, as his main fund-raisers were known, are not only staying away from the current race, but more than two dozen have actually given money to Democrats. This is seen as a particularly poignant example of how disillusioned some traditional GOP backers are with the party and the current crop of candidates. “It’s the first time I’m really a bit confused about what I should be doing, or where the country should be headed,” a Bush Pioneer tells the Post. Some party strategists hope these fund-raisers will come back to the fold later in the race, particularly if Sen. Hillary Clinton is nominated, but right now, these missing contributors are at least part of the reason why Republicans continue to trail Democrats in the money race.

Democrats seemed to be overwhelmingly in favor of the nonbinding resolution calling the killings of Armenians genocide when it passed the House foreign affairs committee. But now the number of lawmakers who are listed as official co-sponsors of the resolution fell short of a majority last night, and several senior Democrats are trying to convince the leadership not to call for a vote on the issue. (The LAT has a useful table  detailing which lawmakers withdrew their support). The pressure to drop the resolution will intensify today as a group of senior Democrats will hold a news conference to urge their party to reconsider the vote. The matter is particularly complicated for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has an important Armenian constituency and had vowed that the full House would vote on the resolution.

The LAT also fronts Putin’s trip to Iran and says that it illustrated “the differences between the Russian and American relationships” with Tehran. Putin said Iran has the right to continue enriching uranium and characterized it as a “peaceful nuclear energy program.” At the same time, Putin seemed to be careful not to anger Western countries too much by refusing to set a date for completing a nuclear power plant in Iran.

One of Iraq’s vice presidents was in Turkey yesterday trying to urge leaders not to go through with a much talked-about invasion of northern Iraq to attack Kurdish separatists. The Turkish prime minister made clear that although the parliament will likely give him the authorization to launch a military operation that won’t mean an invasion is imminent. While it’s clear that a military offensive would complicate things for the fledgling Iraqi government and the United States, who would have to mediate between two allies, the WSJ also notes that Turkey faces a daunting challenge if it decides to attack. There are an estimated 3,000 Kurdish guerillas in northern Iraq, and they have been preparing for war. The guerillas “stand a chance of holding off Turkish troops, forcing them into an extended presence or an embarrassing backdown,” the WSJ says.

The NYT fronts word that Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants all armed security contractors in Iraq “to fall under a single authority.” Not surprisingly, he wants that authority to be the U.S. military, which the State Department is resisting. If all armed contractors fell under one authority it would probably mean they would all have to follow the same rules, although it’s unclear whether they would also be subject to military law. American commanders appear adamant that this is the only way to keep track of the armed contractors and make sure they don’t interfere with operations in Iraq.

The LAT notes that although Iraqi militants had vowed it would be a bloody Ramadan, the number of attacks during this year’s holy month was much lower. In total, violence was down 40 percent compared with last year, and figures suggest fewer U.S. troops died during this Ramadan than any other since the invasion.

USAT points out on Page One that many U.S. troops are still being sent to Iraq without the best possible anti-IED training. Although the training has vastly improved from the war’s early years, when most troops headed to battle with “little or no knowledge of IEDs” many say it still falls short of what is really needed. Even if they do receive the best training possible, the vast majority of troops never get a chance to practice with the same equipment that could save their lives in Iraq, mostly due to widespread shortages.

The LAT notes that a booklet titled Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq During World War II has turned into a surprise hit for the University of Chicago Press. The 44-page book has “several passages that are ominous in the context of the current war,” notes the paper. Including this little gem: “The Iraqis have some religious and tribal differences among themselves.”

Although more graphic sex is being depicted in TV and movies, much of it is, simply, not fun and often quite painful to watch, says the LAT. “It seems each year the needle of permissiveness moves further north (or south, depending on your point of view) but the fun-ometer barely registers a tick.”