Today's Blogs

Caspian Comrades

Bloggers speculate about Vladimir Putin’s visit to Tehran, fume about Verizon handing over records, and analyze Doris Lessing’s reaction to news of her Nobel win.

Caspian comrades: Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Iran Tuesday to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other leaders whose nations border the Caspian Sea. Putin declared countries “should not even think of using force” against Iran for its pursuit of a nuclear energy program, saying he has not seen evidence that Iran is trying to make weapons. Some bloggers agree with Putin’s assertions; others see the beginning of a new Cold War.

“Vladimir Putin’s warnings against military action against Iran deserve to be taken very seriously,” writes liberal Matthew Ygelsias. “Since we’re not contemplating actually conquering Iran and trying to occupy its territory, people need to understand that the post-strike diplomatic environment is going to be much more important to the future of the Iranian nuclear program than is any damage that bombing Iran with our on-the-table options might or might not do.” Liberal Ezra Klein agrees with Ygelsias: “The more our aggressiveness unsettles the world, the more they’ll seek to curtail our hegemony, create states able to asymmetrically ‘balance’ our threat, unite against our interests, and throw down markers signaling that we can’t take international dominance for granted. Put another way: The more we scare the world, the less they’ll cooperate on vanquishing countries we perceive as threatening. The BooMan Tribune waxes pessimistic: “This isn’t exactly what Michael Ledeen, William Kristol, Joe Lieberman, and Dick Cheney want to hear. … I think this is going to make these people desperate and make it more likely that Israel will attack Iran (rather than the U.S.).”

Conservative FullosseousFlap joins the harbingers of Cold War II: “No surprise that Putin is snuggling up to Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Mullahs. Putin wants control and to re-create the Soviet empire of the Cold War era. Iran wants an oil-exporting partner with military hardware to exert hegemony over the Middle East.”

La Russophobe condemns Putin for the trip: “How would Russians react to a picture of George Bush proudly shaking hands with Shamil Basayev in Grozny? While the whole world condemns the maniacal despot in Tehran, Vladimir Putin makes friends with him and seeks to protect him. It’s barbarism, pure and simple.” Aptly named Liberally Conservative summarizes the visit and then adds, sarcastically: “It wasn’t stated if all Caspian nations sang Kumbaya but a possible fishing troop to Kennebunkport, Maine, could be in the works. Putin always brings flowers. Maybe this time he could bring terrorist Ahmadinejad too.”

Read more blogger reaction to Putin’s trip to Iran.

Telecontempt: Verizon told Congress that it has turned over customer records to federal authorities without court orders for “emergency cases” 720 times since 2005. Despite the 94,000 times that Verizon did wait for a subpoena or court order, bloggers don’t buy the company’s defense that it didn’t want to delay anti-terrorism operations.

The news incenses liberal Firedoglake’s Christy Hardin Smith:“Why the end-run of 720 times of emergency information grabs? Some of these might have been wholly legitimate emergency situations, but the overuse of these provisions across the board coupled with significant questions about security of the information gathered … ought to raise a whole host of red flags for potential abuse.”

Liberal David Pleasant at the PoliticalChase *   doubts Verizon’s argument: “First, why did Verizon provide records beginning in January 2005, rather than back to 2001? The Times exposed Bush’s illegal wiretapping program on December 16, 2005, but had evidence of the program for approximately one year before reporting it, which would reasonably parallel the period covered by Verizon. Is that mere coincidence?” Steve Soto at the Left Coaster has more questions: “So what was so urgent about these 720 cases that Verizon felt an NSL was sufficient, given the relatively few terror prosecutions that the Bush Administration has undertaken? If you accept the relatively charitable explanation that these 720 cases were all counter-terrorism cases, then how plausible is it to assert that the FISA court could not deal timely with 720 cases since 2005, when the record shows that the FISA court has in fact been quick-responding?”

But libertarian-minded Doug Mataconis at Liberty Papers doesn’t blame Verizon or the other telecom companies. [I]t’s not their job to enforce the provisions of the Fourth Amendment. That responsibility lies with law enforcement and, ultimately, with the Federal Courts who authorize the warrants to begin with.”

Read more about Verizon’s letter to Congress.

Hard to impress: Doris Lessing’s reaction when she learned from a news crew camped outside her home that she had won the Nobel Prize for literature? “Oh, Christ.”  Her bluntness charms bloggers.

Law professor Ann Althouse wonders: “Do you think she said ‘Oh, Christ’ because she’s so cool or she’s a true artist and above mere worldly prizes or some some such thing? I don’t. … Everyone thinks ‘Oh, Christ’ means so much. It’s profound. But, really, it’s not as if she could have squealed like an actress winning the Oscar. You don’t think she was thrilled, inside? Or maybe she was kind of pissed, and said ‘Oh, Christ’ in the sense of: So, now, finally they get around to me … after all those second-rate hacks who got the prize all those years when I was ready with my hair done and my makeup on and a nice quote ready to go.” 

Other bloggers are less pensive. Book-blogger Red Molly exclaims, “Is that not exactly the perfect response to discovering one has won the Nobel Prize for literature?” Good Girl Lit’sAnne Dayton asks, “What kind of a reaction is that, Doris Lessing? You just won the !@#* Nobel Prize! Get excited!” The Ephemerist puts in, “Seriously, Dor, could you at least fake some enthusiasm? So the folks who lost to you don’t feel even worse?”

Read more bloggers on Lessing’s response.

Correction, Oct. 18, 2007: The article originally misidentifed the Political Chase as the Paper Chase. (Return to the corrected sentence)