Distraction Attraction

darth cheneyProf. Jay Rosen @ PressThink adds depth to my belief that the White House is having a field day with the OCD-ification of the press regarding such meaningless sideshows as the Harry Whittington Slow Train (or is it a short bus)? Read his insightful post today in which he expands up his theory of the post-Watergate/Vietnam-era “rollback” strategy as set in motion by our powermonger-in-command, Big Time:

[The White House] has a larger aim: to roll back the press as a player within the executive branch, to make it less important in running the White House and governing the country, but also less of a wild card in fighting enemies of the state in the permanent war on terror.?

A host of worthwhile links are embedded in Rosen’s post today. If only the WH Press Corps would bother with reading the latest Foreign Affairs instead of drumming up more fodder for Entertainment Tonight:

How does it hurt Bush if for three days this week reporters are pummeling Scott McClellan over the details of when they were informed about Cheney?s hunting accident? That?s three days this week they won?t be pummeling Scott McClellan over the details of this article from Foreign Affairs by Paul R. Pillar, the ex-CIA man who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year.Here?s what the article says: ?During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq? the Bush administration disregarded the community?s expertise, politicized the intelligence process, and selected unrepresentative raw intelligence to make its public case.? Pillar was there; if anyone would know he would.

Indeed, Cheney is riding high into the weekend on the cthulu of attention he’s received since shooting his way out of his bunker.

Not only can the #2 American public figure drink beer and shoot up his friends, he saw in Wednesday’s chummy interview with Fox News‘ Brit Hume a golden opportunity to claim lawful authority to declassify, for example, the identity of certain covert CIA operatives.

Steve Clemons debunks Cheney’s claims (slipped into his interview with Brit Hume on Fox News yesterday) in orderly fashion at the Washington Note.

Even George Will is fed up with the administrations utter disrespect for the Constitution.

Terrorism is not the only new danger this era…. The administration, in which mere obduracy sometimes serves as political philosophy, pushes the limits of assertion while disdaining collaboration. This faux toughness is folly….

Sunday super Sunday

The perspective from the United States seems more than a bit removed when it comes to racial baiting, unrest, and public debate regarding religion. We are so distant from such events as the recent civil unrest in France and the unqualified chaos that has resulted from the reprinting of months-old Danish cartoonery that not a soul flinches when our “born again” dear leader — aspiring liberator of all ten planets — concludes his speeches “may God bless America.” Talk about a blasphemy complex….

The debate over freedom of speech versus rules of faith rolled out into the streets of Syria Saturday, as fire was set to the Danish Embassy there. Journalists have been arrested and fired after reprinting the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten‘s infamous Mohammad cartoons. Managing editor of the Paris nightly France Soir also lost his job. The discussion has turned philosophical with references to Salman Rushdie. U.S. newspapers did not print the cartoon, avoiding inevitable karmic consequences, while the White House wisely stayed mum on the controversy. As Zakaria writes, Washington sounded convincing for some time in successfuly repressing Islamic fundamentalism.

In Iraqi oil news, the New York Times reports that “government corruption” resulting in the diversion of Iraqi oil revenues into the hands of the insurgency is “threatening to undermine Iraq’s strugging economy.” This follows an L.A. Times report of a mortar attack on a petroleum facility in Kirkuk on Thursday, described by an Iraqi oil executive as the “most severe attack we have ever faced on an oil installation.”

The Washington Post has further analysis on the results of the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program. The front-page article is critical of the program, noting that few if any of the nearly 40,000 employees in the NSA are even capable of translating the phone calls, and concluding that nearly all of the citizens suspected of terrorist involvement as a result of eavesdropping were later cleared. According to Time, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will assail the press for its coverage of the warrantless wiretaps story. Among the remarks prepared for Gonzales presentation to Arlen Specter and the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday:

“These press accounts are in almost every case, in one way or another, misinformed, confused, or wrong.”

The law profs weigh in: UofC’s Stone, Georgetown’s Cole, NYU’s Feldman.

hugo chavez fidel castroVenezuelan President Hugo Chavez continues with threats to jail U.S. diplomats in Venezuela and close oil refineries to the U.S. while he purchases more weapons. After Sec. Rumsfeld compared Chavez to Adolf Hitler on Thursday, Chavez compared President Bush to the Nazi leader. The U.S. depends on Venezuelan for about 15% of its annual oil consumption, importing 1.5 million barrels a day.

AP: The U.S. will release 50 Iraqi detainees on Sunday, however, none of the four known female detainees are expected to be among these. The kidnappers of Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll demanded the release of all female Iraqi detainees as a condition for Carroll’s release.

Worldwide pleas for the Carroll’s releaes continue to roll in following the broadcast last week of a second video featuring the reporter in tears. Her friend, Jordanian-born journalist Natasha Tynes, has analysis.

jerome bettis beats the bears, c/o register-mailSeattle v. Pittsburgh. This better be a good one.

I like the “Bus” and “Big Ben,” plus they beat down da Bears this year — so I’m pulling for Pittsburgh. Either way, good Patriot-less football will be a bonus. Super Bowl XL.

Two Op-Eds I Read

Saturday is always the bonus day for guest op-ed contributors at the nation’s finest rags. Today is no exception.

I find little fault with historian Joseph J. Ellis’ “Finding a Place for 9/11 in American History.” In it, Ellis berates the Bush Administration for putting 9/11 on a pedestal (inherently satisfyingn the terrorists) although it hardly stands in Ellis’ “top tier” of events thath were legitimate threats to American security.

He also debunks the Patriot Act as a farcical measure with little historical relevance on par with the Alien andn Sedition Acts, and the short-lived proliferation of McCarthyism.

It’s an eyebrow-raiser to read; The New York Times definitely sways out of its WMD-hunting non-gov’t-bashing comfort zone. Robert Schlesinger dissects it at HuffPo andn Ranting Prof, while not shocked, delves into the “analytical smoke and mirrors.” Much praise for Professor Ellis aside, Right Wingn Nut House will not stand for this historical contextualization of 9/11.
Even farther out, is? Beshara Doumani’s piece in Ssaturday’s L.A. Times titled: “Hamas in Charge.” In it, Doumani, author of Rediscovering Palestine lays theh blame squarely on Israel for the faltering Oslo agreement. I have heard this argument before and do not entirely disagree that Israel had a role in the eventual success, if not in the creation of Hamas. However, Doumani’s analysis reads as qwuite extreme, especially on the pages of the L.A. Times with its conclusion: ” Still, the Hamas victory will make it much easier for Israel to sell the ‘no partner for peace’ line.”

I am on the hunt for further analyses of this piecein the blogosphere and encourage discussion (as always) in the comments section below.

Adding to this The Texas Observer‘s Ronny Dugger’s call to “Impeach or Indict Bush or Cheney” (hat tip: MBlog)