Obama, Chávez, Jane Harman, and the Spy Scandal to End All Spy Scandals

Bloggers on Jane Harman, AIPAC, Obama, Chavez, and the death of journalism.

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Our daily look at stories and topics that are lighting up the Internets:

The Next Spy Scandal?

An interesting story from Jeff Stein in Congressional Quarterly published yesterday has ignited speculation from all corners of the blogosphere today. If the story is true, as conservative Michelle Malkin puts it, "this is a blockbuster scandal of historic proportions." Joshua Keating explains the accusations: "California Representative Jane Harman was recorded on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would intervene on behalf of American Israeli Public Affairs Committee officials, who were being charged with espionage." Liberal Marc Ambinder speculates on the motivations behind "the person or persons who provided Stein with the information." Andrew Sullivan wonders: "Is it more of a scandal that the Bushies were wire-tapping Harman and then were in a position to blackmail her if she didn't provide public support for ... their warrantless wire-tapping? Or is it just another day at the office for AIPAC." Liberal Josh Marshall examines the possibility that Haim Saban might be the Israeli agent here and here. And Jeffery Goldberg thinks the whole thing smells funny. Expect many, many more bloggers to weigh in before this story is through.

The Day in Diplomacy

A handshake? A book? A walkout? Serious diplomatic discussions took a turn toward gossip in the blogosphere today. (Don't act like you're surprised—this is, after all, the blogosphere.) The focus? A handshake Obama shared with Venezuelan populist-dictator Hugo Chávez at this weekend's Summit of the Americas. A few in the GOP sparked the outrage with calls like these. Liberal Steve Benen reacts: "Leading Republicans make it sound as if America's stature is so fragile, it is easily weakened by casual courtesies at an international forum.... It's painfully absurd." The more substantive conservative critiques seem to center upon Obama's "outreach-to-enemies approach to foreign policy," more than particular diplomatic incidents, as this post from Johanna Neuman implies. Turns out that Chávez also handed Obama a book at the Summit, which, incidentally, has skyrocketed from obscurity to an Amazon.com best-seller in a matter of hours after news broke of the gift. The gift is only one part of Chavez's attempt to heal relations with the United States after referring to President Bush as "the devil" not too long ago. In other news that has bloggers talking, a number of diplomats stormed out of a racism conference during an offensive rant by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And this liberal blogger thinks Obama's policies have the al Qaeda PR machine on the run.

The Death of Journalism

Writing in the Atlantic, Oswald Garrison Villard uses flowery language to predict the death of journalism: "It is the danger that newspaper conditions, because of the enormously increased costs and this tendency to monopoly, may prevent people who are actuated by passion and sentiment from founding newspapers that is causing many students of the situation much concern. What is to be the hope for the advocates of new-born and unpopular reforms if they cannot have a press of their own, as the Abolitionists and the founders of the Republican party set up theirs in a remarkably short time, usually with poverty-stricken bank accounts?" The catch: these words were written in 1918. Some things never change, eh? John Kerry is as concerned as anyone about the issue—but too bad his solution is nothing more than a "beautiful incongruity," writes conservative Matt Welch. Liberal Jason Linkins is angry that the New York Times is full of it. And liberal Eric Boehlert, reacting to this beat-down on certain members of the media, writes that the White House press corps just isn't at the top of its game.

... Meanwhile ...

The most amazing thing you could ever do with bacon (besides eat it)... When's the last time you saw Eritrea in the news?... The Second Amendment makes a crappy song... And this is just plain freaky.