Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
When Senate Democrats refused to allow consideration of all three competing resolutions on Iraq yesterday, seeking instead to bring only two to the Senate floor, Republicans stopped them from bringing the issue up at all. The Democrats then complained that Republicans were blocking debate on Iraq, and mainstream media outlets immediately agreed.
"Republicans block Senate Debate on Iraq," said the AP. "GOP blocks a debate over Iraq policy," concurred the New York Times. "GOP stalls debate on troop increase," echoed the Washington Post.
In fact, of course, both sides were trying to have the debate on terms most favorable to their party, but in this case, the Republicans were actually seeking a broader debate with more resolutions considered while the Democrats wanted to address just those that seemed most likely to come out their way.
Newsweek magazine assistant managing editor and noted author Evan Thomas was asked on a local Washington TV program the other day whether the media has been bashing the president unfairly. His response — "our job is to bash the president. That's what we do." He went on to say that the President had lost support after he "kissed off the Iraq Study Group."
Thomas in the past has acknowledged the media has a bias in its reporting — saying the press favored John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. His comments over the weekend followed an assertion by National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg — that the president had received a "free ride" for years, and now is getting fierce coverage.
Show Me the Money
Last week New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin complained to Congress that his city is being shortchanged in its effort to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina — and not getting promised funds fast enough. But it turns out the federal government is actually trying to recover more than $300 million in grants it should not have paid — the result of fraudulent applications.
The AP reports FEMA believes nearly 70,000 Louisiana households improperly benefited. It says applicants received compensation for almost 163,000 homes that did not even exist before the storm. The Justice Department has so far prosecuted more than 400 people for storm-related fraud — and recovered about $18 million.
And Zimbabwe is threatening to throw the country's remaining 400 white farmers in jail if they don't give up their farms. Zimbabwe is finishing up a policy started in 2000 to seize all land from the country's 4,500 white farmers — in order to correct what are called colonial-era imbalances in ownership.
The program has transformed Zimbabwe from what was called the breadbasket of southern Africa into a country that the U.N. estimates has four million people in need of food. Zimbabwe now has to import what used to be its staple crop — maize. The agricultural upheaval has led to shortages of hard currency, gasoline, medicines and essential imports. Critics say the new black farmers were given land on the basis of political patronage and lack the dedication and resources to be successful.
—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.