Today's Blogs

Strategery for Victory

Bloggers ponder the president’s speech about Iraq; they also discuss an Australian man whom Singapore is about to execute for smuggling heroin, and they peruse a blog “seminar” about the novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

Strategery for Victory: In yesterday’s speech about U.S. strategy in Iraq, President Bush said that Iraqi troops have made a lot of headway, that he has a plan for getting U.S. troops out of Iraq and for attaining “complete victory.” He encouraged all Americans to read the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, however, Bush provided no timetables. (Read the speech.)

Many critics of the war are finding only boilerplate and inaccuracies. “Bush’s speech tries to mimic Churchill. … Bush’s speechwriters often try to weave this familiar poll tested cadence into his Iraq war and War on Terror speeches. It rings hollow because the Churchillian style, no matter how well done, is ultimately alien to Bush’s biography and personality,” writesGotham Image. Egalia of the progressive Tennessee Guerilla Women mocks the president for speaking in front of the Naval Academy: “If you had Bush’s credibility problem, you’d choose a captive audience too,” she writes alongside a picture of midshipmen napping before the speech. Eunomia’s Daniel Larison, a British conservative, writes, “[I]f the enemy is automatically defined as Saddamist and terrorist (as Mr. Bush has done) there is theoretically no end to the time when ‘Saddamists and terrorists’ threaten Iraq’s ‘democracy.’”

And on Think Progress, the blog of the nonpartisan think tank American Progress Institute, Judd Legum notes Bush’s claim that Iraqi troops led the attack on insurgents in Tal Afar; he quotes Time reporter Michael Ware, who told CNN’s Anderson Cooper last night, “I was with Iraqi units right there on the front line as they were battling with al Qaeda. They were not leading. They were being led by the U.S. green beret special forces with them.”

Michelle Malkin does her own debunking from the other side. In October, she noted that the New York Times had published an excerpt from a letter written by deceased Cpl. Jeffrey Starr that quoted only a section where Starr predicted that he was going to die. Malkin shared Starr’s letter with her readers to show that he believed in the war. And yesterday, she commended the president for reading parts of Starr’s letter during his speech: “Good for the White House for fighting back against MSM bias.”(Read more of the letter.) Ankle Biting Pundits’ Bulldogpundit believes, “The President is doing now what he should have been doing all along. He’s getting out there defending his decision to liberate Iraq and getting specific on what more needs to be done to ensure victory and get out, and today he focused on the training of Iraqi forces.” Commenting on PoliPundit, Mike, a Marine, enthuses: “I am going back for my second tour in Iraq and am glad the President articulated what we are doing and how well we are doing in such detail!” And Power Line’s John Hinderaker lauds Bush’s rhetoric: “[I]n a series of speeches extending over a period of years, President Bush has articulated his policy vision more consistently and more eloquently than any President since Lincoln.”

Read more about the speech.

Execution, Singapore-style: Singapore will hang 25-year-old Australian Nguyen Tuong Van Friday morning. He was caught carrying about 14 ounces of heroin in the Singapore airport in 2002.

Some bloggers are sympathetic to Van, who has claimed that he was taking the drugs back to Melbourne in order to settle his twin brother’s debts. “He didn’t kill anyone, and he wasn’t exactly carrying quantities of epic proportions, now was he? Shame on Singapore for behaving in a savagely despotic manner; that’s what I think,”  opinesMAD’s Blog, which belongs to an English teacher in Thailand. TheCallowQueen, a Kansas magazine editor, remembers the outcry over the Michael Fay caning and writes, “America was in an outrage then. What would be the media coverage if it were an American this time and not an Australian?”

However, Curiouser & Curiouser’s right-leaning Michael points to justifies the Singaporean position: “There were many avenues to seek help, but he transported drugs, which was the thing that created this problem.”

Read more about Nguyen Tuong Van.

Better than Harry Potter: Group blog Crooked Timber is hosting a “seminar” about Susanna Clarke’s novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Many of the site’s regular bloggers (a mix of academics and professionals) have posted lengthy critiques, commenters have weighed in, and Clarke has responded. The book, which came out last year, is about two rival magicians in an alternate version of 19th century England. (Read the PDF version of the seminar.)

Maria Farrell, who works for ICANN, writes, “One way of reading the novel is that magic is the return of actual history, with its struggles, complexities and brutalities to the artificial ‘histories’ of our collective imagination. It’s a sort of irruption of reality into the constructed universe of politesse that we imagine Regency England to have been.” Novelist Belle Waring says, “[W]here are the female magicians? … I feel a small twinge of disappointment when I read an amazing book like this, written by a female author, in which (male) heroes come to know themselves, restore order, and recapture their lost women from the villain’s bondage.”

And Clarke prefaces her extensive response by saying, “The author couldn’t come. The author has left the building. She left when the book was finished. I’m just the person who remains now she is gone. I may be able to help you because I seem to have a pile of her memories over here—also lots of her notes and stuff.”

Read more about Crooked Timber’s seminar.

Got a question, comment, or suggestion? E-mail