Topic: Breaking News
One Man's News Is Another Man's Tedium. Did Things Just Heat Up?
Our columnist Bob Patterson and I have been disputing what is the most underreported story of July 7, the day of the bombings in London. Both of us caught Harry Shearer's Sunday morning radio show from Santa Monica (syndicated nationally), Le Show, where he commented on the July 7 item in the Asia Times about Saudi Arabia's ongoing efforts to build nuclear weapons with the help of Pakistan. As Shearer comments:
Yep. That's pretty amazing. And not a peep in the press. So what are we doing about nonproliferation in the Middle East?
Ah maybe it's not true, and if not true, it would be nice to see a denial from the Saudis. Maybe it is true. The Saudi's - friends of the Bush family and the Carlyle Group but having a large segment of their population enamored with fundamentalists who really don't like us much, and do like jihad - were they do go nuclear, would pose an interesting new dynamic in the mix. Israel has long had nuclear weapons. If the Saudi's get their own nukes? That would be tense. On the other hand, Pakistan and India both have nuclear weapons aimed at each other and no one has pulled the trigger yet. Why worry? And the Saudis are the guys with the oil. They've spent billions on the Bush family businesses and kept Halliburton and Enron afloat for forever (well, Enron didn't work out) - so how bad could it be for them to have a few nukes? They're like family – depending, of course, on just who is your family.
We should worry about North Korea, if Nicholas Kristof is no just making things up in the July 12 New York Times with this -
Fifty bombs a year? Yeah, we're fulminating about Iran's efforts, and we let this one slide. And the Saudis nuke up too, to begin to match Israel.
Well, Israel is being sensible, right? They're not stirring this up, unless you think the Middle East expert Juan Cole is right when he says this about the final decision about their big wall:
Well, there may be a few more terrorist attacks, but no one, no even the Saudis, has a real bomb, this week. Still, the size of the bomb doesn't matter much to the person bombed, does it?
In any event, after his long discussion of the historical roots of terrorism in that reason, Cole claim this one is underreported too -
It's pretty clear that these days Eisenhower these days would be called a cowardly liberal wimp - what with all that talk about containing the military-industrial complex, his belief the UN was useful, his reliance on diplomacy - not to mention his socialist big-government taxpayer-funded projects like the Interstate Highway System. Karl Rove would eat his lunch.
But all that is drifting away from the other competing underreported news story the no one noticed as there were those bombs in London. No one seems to be commenting on our new puppet government in Iraq entering into an agreement with Iran - for troop training. See BBC July 7 for this odd item -
Wait, wait, wait. Iran is one of the members of the Axis of Evil, and we're almost ready to do something like bombing the hell out of them if the continue trying to finish up a nuclear bomb or two.
What's up with this? We liberate Iraq to bring them western-style free-market capitalism and some form of democracy, and they start off with a military pact with the worst of the bad guys?
We fought this war for what? Wasn't the WMD (oops), and the flypaper-will-keep-us-safe thing is looking shakier by the day (but is was London, after all, and not Chicago, or even Peoria), and it seems spreading democracy will have to wait until the constant suicide and remote-controlled bombings stop. (Think about that - we created a battlefield over there so we wouldn't have one here, but at the same time we saying we're bringing the folks there peace and security so the place will no longer be a battlefield - so you can do both at the same time?)
Anyway, did we fight this war to install a government there that will join up with Iran in all sorts of military agreements? We're not doing that well at rebuilding the infrastructure there that we kind of messed up with that shock and awe business, and too, the somewhat understaffed and not-well-thought-out occupation has had its problems. The new government is turning elsewhere? To Iran? We created, possibly, a new client state of the worst-of-the worst, Iran?
This too was underreported.
What was reported on Monday the 11th was amusing however.
One Associated Press item opened this way: "For two years, the White House has insisted that presidential adviser Karl Rove had nothing to do with the leak of a CIA officer's identity. And President Bush said the leaker would be fired."
A less punchy AP version (Pete Yost) goes like this -
Ah, conflict is good for news. Judith Miller of the New York Times goes to jail for not revealing her sources, and the Cooper fellow from Time doesn't go as the magazine gives up his source stuff against his wishes and his sources say just testify - and Robert Novak, the columnist who actually exposed the CIA agent, helping someone or other at the White House commit what seems to be a felony doing great damage to our country's espionage work, smiles on CNN and draws his big salary, continues his column for the Chicago Sun Times and just sneers at the suckers who are in trouble. Then Newsweek prints the email showing Rove was in on this.
Great drama. And now the reporters turn on the president's press secretary and bat him around -
And AP lists a few more dramatic moments late in the day:
- Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said it is "disturbing that this high ranking Bush adviser is not only still working in the White House, but now has a significant role in setting our national security policy."
- Sen. Frank Lautenberg D-N.J., and a private group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, called on Bush to suspend Roves security clearances, shutting him out of classified meetings.
- Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., asked the Republican chairman of the House Government Reform Committee to hold a hearing where Rove would testify.
- Rove should resign or the president should fire him, said Tom Matzzie, Washington director of the liberal advocacy group, MoveOn PAC.
- Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., asked Rove to detail any conversations he had about Plame before her name surfaced publicly in Novak's column.
Neat. No dull stuff about the Saudi bomb or Iraq hooking up with Iran. This is high drama. It's not another missing attractive white woman, or a hurricane or shark attacks, but it'll do.
Kevin Drum here -
Well, we'll see about that.
Over at Martini Republic ("Lead, Follow, or Have a Drink") you get some harsh words: "Rove is the leak who busted Plame's cover, beyond any doubt. The only question is whether semantic quibbles and shystering can lessen a potential felony to a level of merely stupid meanspiritedness which did harm to our national interests."
Ah, this is all in the world of blogs.
On SLATE.COM - recently sold by Microsoft and MSNBC to the Washington Post Group, and which supplies content to National Public Radio's noon on-air news magazine "Day to Day" - Tim Noah just says 'Turdblossom Must Go'.
But Keith Olbermann at MSNBC saying this
Well, that will never happen. The White House will counter attack in some way. There'll be another London.
But for the moment it's hot news. Lies! Revenge gone wrong! Cover-ups! Betrayals! Reporters off to jail! Investigations!
It's a lot more interesting than the Saudis getting the bomb or the new Iraq getting in bed with the unreformed Iran, or the wall in Israel that will inflame those who are already disposed to feeling powerless, betrayed, scorned, and very, very angry - and ready to strike out against these perceived wrongs.
It's a lot more interesting. Not really as important. But news is what's dramatic, not what can get us all killed and turn the current war even more pointless. That's for policy wonks.
Underreported news? Flurries of concern for almost two weeks on the right side of things about the proposed sale of Unocal, the giant oil company based right out here in El Segundo, just next to LAX, to the Chinese - the wrong ones on the mainland, the communists, not the good ones on the island, the free-market capitalists. The president has been curiously silent. Then the Washington Post reports - 12 July - that James C. Langdon Jr., chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and a major Bush fundraiser, met last winter with investment bankers in China to help secure his law firm's role in lobbying for a state-run Chinese energy firm and its bid for Unocal.
Newsworthy? Probably not. The anti-Communist patriots on the right, still fighting the Cold War fifty years too late (Hey, we WON, guys!) may squirm a bit at this. But they can always shift to the "the business of America is business" line as a fallback position. There are more important things than ideology.