John Podhoretz : "Is the surge in Iraq working? Consider this plain, simple and overwhelmingly powerful fact: Hundreds and hundreds of Iraqis are alive today, on Oct. 2, who'd be dead by now if there had been no surge. There were 1,975 Iraqi civilian fatalities in August. In September, the number fell to 922 - a drop of 53 percent. How do we know this decline is due to the surge? We can't know for certain, of course." Wow, this is like the easiest blog post I've ever written. --Matthew Duss
Karim El-Khashab writes in Al-Ahram on the rebirth of the adversarial press in Egypt. "Certainly the number of daily and weekly papers has increased dramatically in the last decade, with many adopting a critical position towards the government and regime. Hitherto uncrossed red lines have been repeatedly crossed, and now, argue many commentators, the backlash is setting in. The battle lines have been drawn: on one side are those who complain that press freedom is being curtailed, on the other those that complain such freedom is being abused. The background to the confrontation is succinctly set out by Baheya , one of Egypt's most popular bloggers. She plots the rise of the independent press from the mid-1990s, when the falling readership of party newspapers such as Al-Wafd and Al-Arabi -- a reflection of growing disenchantment with party politics -- left a gap in the market that was quickly filled by independent publications, Al-Dostour being among the first. [...] Critics of the...
The conservative response to outrage over Rush Limbaugh 's " phony soldiers " comment is instructive, with numerous righties contorting themselves into impressive rhetorical asanas to demonstrate that Limbaugh didn't say or mean what he clearly did say and mean. Compare this to the progressive counter-response to the outrage over the "General Betray Us" ad, which I recall as being somewhat less unified and on time. I don't mean to insult MoveOn here by implying that they've ever said anything remotely as offensive as the magniloquent flatulence that Limbaugh regularly releases into the atmosphere, only to point to this as yet another example of how the right goes to the mattresses for its soldiers, especially those like Limbaugh who, despite a mile-long record of bigotry, sexism, and blatant dishonesty, is understood by conservative elites to be essential to the task of whipping the rubes into a frenzy and getting them to the polls. --Matthew Duss
There's a lot to digest in the leaked transcript of a February 2003 conversation between President Bush , Spain's Jose Maria Aznar , and Condoleezza Rice on the impending invasion of Iraq, but it pretty much confirms what we already knew about the president: By February 2003, he was already committed to going into Iraq, UN mandate or not; he viewed the entire UN process, at best, as a form of theater necessary to calm the concerns of other world leaders less gifted with heroic vision than he (and given what we now know about the utter fiction of Colin Powell 's WMD pageantry , he treated it as such); he was completely unreflective and unprepared for anything but the best possible outcome; as indicated by his reference to Iraq having "a relatively strong civil society," he was surrounded by advisers every bit as incompetent as he. --Matthew Duss
Via LGM , the heartwarming story of a multitude of wingnuts working themselves into a sanctimonious froth over a movie still. Let's all join D in issuing a hearty, Nelson Muntz ian "HAW-haw!" to Right Blogistan. Despite the photo in question being, repeat, a movie still , it remains true that that Iran continues to engage in the hideous practice of stoning , just as it remains true, despite the Killian documents apparently having been forged, that young George W. Bush was granted a spot in the Texas Air National Guard through the intervention of his family's powerful friends while other, less privileged Americans were sent off to fight and die in a war that Bush claims to have supported, just as it remains true, despite the addition of some extra smoke into this photo , that Israel bombed the rotting hell out of Lebanon last summer. But, as always with the nutters, there's truth, and then there's truthiness. --Matthew Duss