Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Other Items

A year after a sweeping government reorganization began, the agencies charged with protecting the United States against terrorist attacks remain troubled by high-level turnover, overlapping responsibilities and bureaucratic rivalry, former and current officials say.
Progress has been made, most of the officials say, toward one critical goal: the sharing of terrorist threat information from all agencies at the National Counterterrorism Center. But many argue that the biggest restructuring of spy agencies in half a century has bloated the bureaucracy, adding boxes to the government organization chart without producing clearly defined roles.

The above is from Scott Shane's "Year Into Revamped Spying, Troubles and Some Progress" in this morning's New York Times which treats the whole thing as nothing more than an intramural playoff. Insiders then and now plus Susan Collins (Republican) and a kook from the Heritage Foundation get to weigh in. (No, no Democratic Senator weighs in and no equivalent from the center or left to Heritage is to be found in the article -- the Times calls this "balance.")
There's an NSA hearing today, though you might not know it from reading this morning's paper.

Lloyd notes Ruth Conniff's "Fat Tuesday for Disaster Profiteers" (Ruth Conniff's Online Column, The Progressive):

As a depleted population struggled to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans, new reports emerged about corporate cronyism and disaster profiteering under the Bush Administration.
"Six months after Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast, government contracts have gone to politically connected corporations with track records of fraud and violations of worker rights," says a report by the
Gulf Coast Commission on Reconstruction Equity.
"The Gulf Coast has been besieged by large corporate profiteers, while many workers don't even receive their wages," said the Reverend Nelson Johnson, president of Interfaith Worker Justice.
At the same time Johnson’s group was calling its press conference on the damage done by cronyism in New Orleans, the New York Times reported that the Army has decided to pay Halliburton nearly all $2.41 billion in disputed costs on its controversial no-bid contract to rebuild Iraq. The Army is paying the bill "even though the Pentagon's own auditors had identified more than $250 million in charges as potentially excessive or unjustified," the Times reports.
The Bush Administration seems to be applying the same wasteful, crony-capitalist model in both Iraq and New Orleans.

Cindy notes Thom Hartman's "When Americans No Longer Own America" (Common Dreams):

The Dubai Ports World deal is waking Americans up to a painful reality: So-called "conservatives" and "flat world" globalists have bankrupted our nation for their own bag of silver, and in the process are selling off America.
Through a combination of the "Fast Track" authority pushed for by Reagan and GHW Bush, sweetheart trade deals involving "most favored nation status" for dictatorships like China, and Clinton pushing us into NAFTA and the WTO (via GATT), we've abandoned the principles of tariff-based trade that built American industry and kept us strong for over 200 years.
The old concept was that if there was a dollar's worth of labor in a pair of shoes made in the USA, and somebody wanted to import shoes from China where there may only be ten cents worth of labor in those shoes, we'd level the playing field for labor by putting a 90-cent import tariff on each pair of shoes. Companies could choose to make their products here or overseas, but the ultimate cost of labor would be the same.
Then came the flat-worlders, led by misguided true believers and promoted by multinational corporations. Do away with those tariffs, they said, because they "restrain trade." Let everything in, and tax nothing. The result has been an explosion of cheap goods coming into our nation, and the loss of millions of good manufacturing jobs and thousands of manufacturing companies. Entire industry sectors have been wiped out.

There's already an e-mail (on the previous entry) stating that the Times does cover the port issue raised in the Washington Post (Jonathan Weisman's article, see previous entry). No, it doesn't. It does intramural in Carl Hulse and David E. Sanger's article. Once again, they're focused on official reactions -- what will Frist do! They don't explore the issue and they don't even summarize it well. They do round up a lot of adminstration people and a lot of Republicans. (Hillary Clinton, senator from New York, in case the Times forgot, held a press conference. They get to that in the fourth to last paragraph of the long article.) There are issues to be covered, issues that matter. The paper of record is too busy being a stenographer to the powerful to cover the issue.

Read the two articles. Read the Times first and see what you walk away with. (I'm guessing the official talking points from officials -- mainly Republicans.) Read the Post. You'll have an understanding of what the Coast Guard found -- not what officials say was found or what they feel about what was found or . . . That's not to suggest that the Post is the voice of the people. We don't have a major daily that is. That is to say that on this story, the Post is covering it and the Times is falling back to its usual routine of reducing an issue (sidelining it) and instead focusing on official-speak. If a national problem occurs and no official speaks, does it make a sound? Not in the paper of record. (Also, in answer to the question in the e-mail about this, I didn't find those articles from the Post, Martha noted both of them -- and is credited for that.)

I noted in the previous entry:

News that deserves to be treated as such and covered as such. (I'm not seeing either issue getting an article devoted to it in this morning's New York Times -- though I haven't read the briefs -- national or international. The Times' ports "coverage" appears more interested in a poll -- big surprise.)

It does. You get the officials talking points from Hulse and Sanger and you get a poll summary from Elisabeth Bumiller and a new trainee in the Elite Fluff Patrol squad. The issues the Coast Guard's 'released papers' were actually concerned with aren't addressed. How official spokesperson (Republicans for the majority of the article) want to spin them gets huge play. Reality? The paper's not so concerned with that.

As noted last night:

Remember that the Senate holds another NSA warrentless, illegal spying hearing. Want to listen? Tuesday Pacifica will air the NSA hearings, gavel to gavel, live.

Be sure to listen if you're able. And if you listen to Democracy Now! but it doesn't air on on the usual radio station you listen to as a result of the above, remember that you can hear, watch or read transcripts at the website.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.