Monday, January 17, 2005


If Iraq’s election monitors will be in Jordan, Western journalists still have to cover the country from in their countries, practicing “hotel journalism.” Robert Fisk reports that NBC journos not only don’t leave their hotel, but their security advisers have told them not to visit the hotel’s pool or restaurant. He notes that during the invasion, reports from embedded reporters were prefaced with warnings that they were produced under military restrictions, but now, when their only “reporting” consists of reaching out from under their bed to grab the latest press release issued by the US military or the puppet government, themselves isolated in the Green Zone from the real situation in Iraq, no such warnings are given.

With British elections coming up sometime in spring, the talk is of a further Tory party meltdown. Still, none of the parties are going in to the election with the leader they want. The Conservatives have discarded three party leaders since the last time they were in office, and Michael Howard is doing no better with the public. The Liberal Democrats are led by a man with a disconcerting resemblance to Conan O’Brien, enough said there. Labour would do better with anybody but Bush’s poodle, and there are fierce battles, all leaked to the press, being waged over when to replace him with Gordon Brown, the current chancellor, so they’re not looking too great either. Labour are currently thrilled that they were able to arrange for a Tory MP and former minister for higher education, Robert Jackson, to defect to Labour, although 1) he’s not planning to run again anyway, 2) all the issues on which he disagrees with the Tories are ones on which Labour is further to the right (charging tuition for universities, Iraq, etc).

Bill “Here Kitty Kitty Kitty” Frist says that Americans might have to “take some medicine” in the form of lower Social Security benefits. You know, as awful as Frist is as a senator, if poverty is his idea of medicine it’s probably just as well he gave up the doctoring gig.

Speaking of evil ex-doctors, the New Yorker just posted not only the Sy Hersh story about secret incursions into Iran, but also an interesting profile of Iyad “Comical” Allawi, another detailed biography which still doesn’t answer my question whether the guy ever practiced medicine.

In, pathetically, the boldest Democratic move yet on Alberto Gonzales, Ted Kennedy says he is “leaning against” voting to confirm him. But if you consider support for torture to be an absolute disqualification for the job of attorney general, and funnily enough I do, you don’t “lean” because there is nothing left to consider. You do not “lean” on issues of principle.

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