Today's Blogs

Judgment Call

Bloggers react to Republican Sen. John Cornyn’s pronouncements about violence against judges; they also discuss Iraq’s new government and respond to author Saul Bellow’s death.

Judgment call: Liberals are aghast at Sen. John Cornyn’s statement Monday about courthouse violence: “[I] wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence. Certainly without any justification, but a concern that I have.”

“Senator Cornyn should resign. How a lawyer and the former Attorney General of Texas can say such a thing is incomprehensible. Where is the rule of law?” asksBlondeSense’s lefty bombshell, Jaye Ramsey Sutter. “[Cornyn is] issuing a warning, not as an advocate of courtroom violence, but as someone who very much does not want to see it happen,” insistsThe Sundries Shack’s conservative Jimmie Bise Jr. He rebuts thisNew York Times editorial condemning Cornyn and asks, “Is it so unreasonable to say, publicly, that maybe judges ought to stick to what they’re supposed to be doing instead of acting as the Voice Of What The People Would Say If They Weren’t Such Rubes because if they don’t, they’re drawing more and more of the wackjobs’ attention?”

Cornyn issued a clarification Tuesday—”I am not aware of any evidence whatsoever linking recent acts of courthouse violence to the various controversial rulings that have captured the Nation’s attention in recent years”—but it’s too little, too late for some: “Cornyn doesn’t regret what he said. He only regrets that people took what he said ‘out of context,’” snipesThinkProgress, the blog of self-described “bipartisan thinktank” American Progress Institute. “Cornyn is just digging his hole deeper.” Democrat Simianbrain suggests that Cornyn’s “retraction” seems illogical, given his earlier speech.

Read more about Cornyn; read Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick’s take on the issue here.

Iraq progress report: Today, the Iraqi National Assembly agreed on an interim president (Jalal Talabani, a Kurd) and two vice presidents (Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shiite, and Sheik Ghazi al-Yawar, a Sunni).

“This is a great day in my life, one of the days that I probably never thought would ever happen,” crowsIraqithoughts, a Kurdish blog. “Obviously the average non Kurdish Iraqi will not be too pleased with the results of today but it was an ARAB IRAQI who destroyed Iraq.” Right-wing Little Green Footballs also rejoices: “Excellent news from Iraq, where Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani (not an Arab, and not a religious fanatic) has been picked as Iraq’s interim President.” On Dude, Where’s the Beach? a U.S. soldier in Iraq thanksArthur Chrenkoff for posting a survey conducted at an Iraqi university. “63% support the multi national forces staying in Iraq for the current time. 85% expect the new transitional government to succeed in its goals.” The soldier writes, “Wow, we’re losing the war….??? (Scratching my head, I drink another shot… still confused… Must… have… more… alcohol… to… comprehend….)”

The Washington Monthly’s Kevin Drum highlightsSpencer Ackerman’s speculation  that Iraq’s factions reached compromise in part because they agreed to “institutionalized militias outside formal state control.” Drum writes, “If the Kurds have a militia, and the Shiites have militias, then it’s a sure bet that the Sunnis will keep their militias too. And if everybody has a militia, what are the odds that the streets of Baghdad, Fallujah, and Kirkuk will ever be peaceful? Not too high.” British blog ALogical Voice links to this piece about the U.S.’s plan to “arm small militias backed by US troops” in Iraq and writes, “[I]n the event the amount of vote fraud wouldn’t produce the results they wanted, [the U.S.] gave the Kurds veto power in the assembly, and are now arming the very people they were fighting to overthrow in the first place. Mess? Disaster? You decide.”

Read more about the new Iraqi government; read Professor Juan Cole’s roundup of international coverage of Iraq.

The Bellow of the Americans: Saul Bellow, the Nobel Prize-winning author of such books as Herzog, Mr. Sammler’s Planet, and The Dean’s December, died on Tuesday. “I do not read fiction. The works of Saul Bellow and even Roger L. Simon are a mystery to me,” writes a commentator on conservative mystery writer Roger L. Simon’s blog; nonetheless, the commentator salutes Bellow for asking politically incorrect questions like “Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus? The Proust of the Papuans?”

“Who is the Pushkin of Chicagoans? The Dumas of Bostonians?” responds writer Laurence Jarvik. Nonetheless, Jarvik admires Bellow’s complicated political resonances and reminisces about attending a neoconservative panel that condemned Bellow’s Ravelstein: “Practically Soviet-style denunciations for deviationism, from a very dour and drab set of panelists, who didn’t like the idea that a neo-conservative was being ‘outed’ as a complicated human being, even as a fictional character.”

Bellow didn’t make much of an impression on finance professional Noah of When Writers Marry; he writes, “In my quest to achieve pseudo-intellectualism by reading at least one book by every Important Writer–a quest I abandoned years ago–I read Saul Bellow’s first novel, Dangling Man, mostly because it was a lot shorter than Hertzog [sic].”

A commentator on I Love Books reveals, “augie march changed my life, herzog i turn to in difficult times the way some people turn to the bible i guess.”

Read more about Bellow on Technorati; literary blog The Elegant Variation has a roundup of Bellow news; read Slate’s Christopher Hitchens on Bellow here; read an account of a fight between Bellow and Hitchens here.

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