Today's Blogs

Playing at Recess

Bloggers respond reflexively to the appointment of John Bolton as U.N. ambassador. They also worry over an alarming report on the threat of avian flu and digest the news that Saudi King Fahd has died.

Playing at recess: President Bush named John Bolton the new ambassador to the United Nations this morning, circumventing the stalled Senate confirmation process with a recess appointment. 

“Those popping sounds you hear are the exploding heads of lefty bloggers,” chideslittle green footballs’ conservative kingfish Charles Johnson. For bloggers of all political stripes, the appointment and the partisan reaction confirm expectations of behavior across the aisle. “Bush thinks he’s flashing the middle finger at Democrats, but in reality he’s setting back his own cause for reform at the United Nations,” writes liberal firebrand Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos. “But this administration has done nothing but give F.U.s to the world community for five years running. This is simply par for the course.”

Conservatives, predictably, are more upbeat. The appointment “bring[s] to a close a long and embarrassing chapter of Senatorial obstructionism,” says conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters. Democrats, he writes, should stop bellyaching: “They still have not learned that elections have consequences and that when voters put a party in charge of both the Executive and the Senate, it means that they intended to see smooth implementation of that party’s agenda.”

Many on the left are troubled by the appointment’s pugnacity. “At a time when America itself and this administration especially have a serious credibility gap and reputation for bullying in the world, it’s good to know that the Bush administration is addressing that by sending a man who has a credibility gap and reputation for bullying to the U.N. as our top diplomat,” jeers Daniel J. Cody, a systems administrator, at A little game I call ‘back in my brain.’  

“Bolton would have been an effective ambassador had he been approved by the Senate, even if the nomination had been reported out without a recommendation,” writes Daniel Berczik at Bloggledygook, a rare voice of ambivalence. “He is likely to be modestly successful because the UN will know that he speaks for the administration, yet as his tenure will last only until the next Congress in January 2007, a moribund UN will be able to wait him out. Even if he had gotten unanimous approval the job would have been almost undoable.”

Read more about the Bolton appointment.  

Flu season: Health officials say the world is woefully unready to combat an “inevitable” avian flu pandemic, the Washington Post reports. The paper warns that the public has failed to grasp the severity of the avian flu that has swept across Asia in recent months.

“A major flu pandemic is pretty much inevitable sooner or later,” concedes libertarian law professor Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit. “On the other hand, many of the casualties from the 1918 flu were people who were weakened by TB, meaning that perhaps lethality won’t be as bad this time. But I certainly think that we need to be working hard on antiviral drugs, and protocols for the rapid production of new vaccines, not only to be ready for bird flu but to be ready for all kinds of potential natural and unnatural outbreaks.”

“There is an ember of hope that avian flu might be stopped soon, while it remains only a spark and not a raging conflagration,” says zoologist and naturalist Fred First at Fragments from Floyd. “Will the nations with the most to lose economically gamble on the altruistic (read: economic self-preservation) move to put out the small fires in Indonesia, Viet Nam and Thailand by sending their supplies of antivirals and vaccines there to possibly contain the spread?” At Right Wing Nut House, Rick Moran is more alarmed. “[T]here’s probably nothing that can be done to avoid what could turn out to be the most calamitous event in American history,” he writes. “…[S]eeing how the WHO has been scrambling for the last 18 months to try and contain each and every outbreak of human to human contact, I’m not very optimistic.”

Read more about the Post report and more about avian flu. This Slate article explains what avian flu means for birds.

Saudi succession:“King Fahd, the absolutist monarch of Saudi Arabia who guided his desert kingdom through swerves in the oil market, regional wars and the incessant, high-stakes scrimmage between Islamic tradition and breakneck modernization, died today,” the New York Times reports. Crown Prince Abdullah will succeed his half-brother.

Most think the succession will have little practical effect. “Abdullah’s been running the day to day affairs for a while now, so this shouldn’t mean much in terms of policy shifts, at least in the short term,” says Greg Prince at UNCoRRELATED.

“[T]he House of Saud is divided and analysts wonder what the new king can do as he faces powerful rivals in Defense Minister Prince Sultan, the new crown prince, and Interior Minister Prince Nayef,” suggests Michael Young at Reason’s Hit and Run. “… Abdullah, Sultan and Nayef are all old men, near or past 80, so that, as in the U.S.S.R. during the mid-1980s, the changeovers might be swift in the coming years. No doubt the myriad sons are looking to be in a position of influence for that time.”

Read more about King Fahd and more about King Abdullah.