Today's Blogs


Bloggers respond to President Bush’s speech; they also discuss Pakistan’s handling of Mukhtar Mai’s rape trial and mark the passing of historian Shelby Foote.

Speecherific: On the one-year anniversary of Iraqi sovereignty, President Bush addressed the nation yesterday in Fort Bragg, N.C. He insisted that the war is worthwhile and encouraged more Americans to join the military.

Bloggers are all over the speech. At conservative Power Line, John Hinderaker takes issue with those who fault Bush for linking Iraq and Sept. 11 and for equating “terrorists” with “insurgents.” Conservative blog champion Andrew Sullivan commends the president for reiterating why the U.S. entered Iraq; he also salutes Bush’s resolve. However, he finds the speech “alarmingly short on persuasiveness.” He emphasizes that the porous Syrian border enables jihadists from other countries to flock to Iraq, and writes, “Instead of going round and round on the troop level question, let’s get specific and ask why the border cannot be sealed.” On Capital Games, The Nation’s David Corn insists that Bush said nothing new last night and offered no proof “that he holds a more accurate view of the war than, say, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel who days ago exclaimed, ‘The reality is that we’re losing in Iraq.’ ”

Others are cataloging Bush’s omissions. Right-wing Libertyblog notes, “I left out the best part of Bush’s speech: What he left out. He spoke for half an hour about the war with no mention of Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, which is all the attention they deserved. Whatever you think of the war, these were distractions.” And the left-leaning Daily Dissent’s Dionysus has put together a chart documenting the number of times that Bush mentioned key words. He clocks 33 mentions of “terror, terrorism, terrorists,” 29 mentions of “free, freedom,” and 0 mentions of “WMD,” and “Exit Strategy.”

Read more about Bush’s speech; read Slate’s William Saletan and Fred Kaplan on the speech.

Whose Mai?: Pakistan’s Supreme Court has decided to re-open the case of Mukhtar Mai, who was gang-raped three years ago, allegedly on orders of a village tribal council, because Mai’s then 12-year-old brother had visited a woman from a rival clan. In 2002, a court sentenced six of Mai’s assailants to death, allowed eight others to go free, and awarded her compensation. Earlier this year, another court, supported by the Supreme Court, acquitted and released five of the six men. After Mai appealed, all 14 men were re-arrested and are awaiting a re-trial. (Read a timeline of the case here.)

Most bloggers are saluting Mai, who used the money that she was awarded in the case to start schools in her village. Majikthise’s liberal Lindsay Beyerstein, an “analytic philosopher,” ponders why Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf imposed a travel ban on Mai and placed her under house arrest when she was invited to speak to an American NGO in New York earlier this month. “Gen. Musharraf can’t see Mai as source of good PR, even though her accomplishments objectively support the image is is trying to promote,” Beyerstein writes. “As long as women are assumed to be the property of men, a woman’s rape is a defeat to whoever ‘owns’ her. According to this warped wordlview, a rape victim who speaks out about her ordeal shames not only herself, but everyone who was supposed to have been controlling her (her husband, her male relatives, her community, and even her nation).”

The Heretik’s Joe Ivory Mattingly writes, “What people forget in the west is that Pakistan is an Islamic republic with religious as well as state courts. Who decides may be more important than what is decided. A woman’s word alone has only recently been given the credibility so critical in rape cases there.” And on Impedance mismatch over HTTP, an Indian blogger asks, “What about our own Mukhtaran Mai?” He points to the case of Imrana, a Muslim woman in India who was raped by her father-in-law. Religious leaders have proclaimed that she can’t live with her husband anymore, even though she doesn’t want to leave him. Impedance credits bloggers for bringing media attention to Mai’s case and urges them to do the same for Imrana.

Read more about Mukhtaran Mai.

Shelby Foote, 1916-2005: Bloggers are distraught about the death of historian and novelist Shelby Foote, who was catapulted to prominence by his numerous appearances in Ken Burns’ documentary series The Civil War.

“His voice was like butter melting in a hot frying pan. I loved listening to him speak. I will miss him,” mournsThe Newest Industry’s Stephen Pierzchala, a Canadian computer specialist. Mark in Mexico, blogging from an English-language school in Mexico, recounts his favorite Shelby Foote stories—including one in which Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston volunteered to serve as a pallbearer for his one-time adversary Gen. William Sherman. Although it was a cold and rainy day, Johnston supposedly refused to put on a hat saying, “I knew that man Sherman, and if he were in my place and I were in his place, he would not put on his hat.” A few days later, Johnston died of pneumonia. Conservative Bloggledygook defends Foote against charges that he wasn’t “academic enough,” and writes, “Foote seemed to me to be a kind of Grand Uncle who drew you to his knee to tell you the stories that illuminated your people’s history.”

Read more about Foote.

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