Today's Blogs


Bloggers ponder a new statistical low for President Bush and try to determine whether a newsstory about the hideous murder of an Iraqi journalist is accurate. They also wonder about Wal-Mart’s attempted trademark of the smiley face.

Thirtysomething: A new Gallup poll has the president at a 31 percent approval rating, making him the third-least-popular sitting executive in half a century, behind only Nixon and Carter. Support from Bush’s conservative “base” has steadily eroded, and on specific polices such as gas prices and the handling of the Iraq war, things are looking even bleaker.

In a post titled “Bush Still Beats Kerry,” conservative Andrew Sullivan points out: “W is at 31 percent; JFK is at 26 percent. Don’t even think about it, Mr Senator. … But in the sweep of history, it is fitting that Bush, for the first time in his entire life, actually face the consequences of his own recklessness. It is also important for conservatives to see up-front what abandoning limited government and embracing fundamentalism leads to: the collapse of a coherent conservatism.” Bill Quick at the right-leaning Daily Pundit thinks Bush brought it all on himself: “Well, when your opposition goes into spit-drenched frenzies of hatred at the mere mention of your name, and in response you then do your damnedest to drive off your most loyal supporters, what would you expect to happen, Mr. President Dumbass?”

Mulling over the implications of the plebiscite for the left, Garance Franke-Ruta at TAPPED, the blog of the liberal American Prospect, writes: “[B]ecause around 90 percent of liberals do not approve of what Bush is doing, it’s not an exaggeration to say that disapproval of Bush could be considered the new liberal litmus test. To the extent that Joe Lieberman is under attack from the netroots (and he most certainly is), it is largely because he has tied himself so closely to the President.” James Mann at the liberal Truth to Power is too staggered by the free-fall to gloat: “3 points in a week. A week that saw the head of the CIA flee (from hookers), a pending Rove indictment, and numerous attacks on American troops in Iraq. We still have a way to go before its all over- three years of nonsense is a lot of nonsense.”

And at pro-Republican Powerline, John Hindraker advises the president to toughen up on border control and reduce spending to accommodate those tax cuts. “If you do these two things, you will reinvogorate your administration. … And you will assure that, with continuing Republican control of Congress, the remainder of your administration will be devoted to productive work on behalf of the American people, not defending yourself against politically-motivated ‘investigations’ and impeachment proceedings.”

Read more about the dismal Bush numbers.

Investigation into a beheading: An article in the Sunday London Times lamented the fate of Iraqi journalist Atwar Bahjat, referring to a video delivered to the publication that ostensibly depicts her horrible mutilation and decapitation. There was some confusion as to what faction was responsible for the crime, but that might be resolved by recent evidence unearthed by the blogosphere and Wikipedia, which suggests that the video is a hoax.

First, responding to the prima facie information related by the Times, Bay-Area software engineer Paul Craddick at Fragments Philosophica has the condign punishment for the murderers: “If only someone could find Atwar Bahjat’s bestial killers and give them the Mussolini treatment - or the Dostoyevsky treatment followed by the Mussolini treatment.”

However, Greyhawk at The Mudville Gazette first aired doubts about the authenticity of the pixilated recording: “What’s known at this time: Atwar Bahjat was kidnapped and murdered while covering the Samarra bombing… According to that Times story, the paper received a video of an execution that concludes with a close-up of the victim’s face. The author has seen the video. The video is ‘cell phone’ quality. The author says the victim is Atwar Bahjat.” Dr. Rusty Shackleford at The Jawa Report links to this translation of a story from Al-Arabiya and adds: “The Jawa Report can reveal that the Times and Halal Jabar, the author of the article, are victims of a hoax. The video actually shows the gruesome murder of a Nepalese man by the Army of Ansar al-Sunna in Iraq from August of 2004. The man was one of 12 victims executed by the terrorist organization–the other 11 were shot.”

But lest such undigested barbarism seem diminished by a falsely labeled snuff film, Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom quotes from an e-mail sent to him by Shackleford concerning what that film does in fact depict: “These guys were around BEFORE the invasion and were busy fighting the secular Kurds before we bombed them into oblivion. Oh, and they were funded by ‘friends’ in Afghanistan (OBL). They also had a truce with Saddam since their main enemies were secular Kurds. They also once had a fellow by the name of Abu Musab al Zarqawi as one of their operatives before the invasion.”

Read more about Atwar Bahjat and her Times coverage.

Don’t worry, sue:Wal-Mart is trying to trademark the “smiley face” in response, it says, to threats by a French industrialist to trademark the image himself. The head of Smiley World owns the rights to the logo in 80 other countries.Daniel Nairn at some strange ideas is fine with the hostile but winsome takeover: “Seeing the largest retail corporation in the world adopt Mr. Smiley to help them sell us stuff seems very fitting. Wal-mart has every reason to promote this superficiality, as I’m sure their marketing executives have been well aware of for years. Now they want to claim the smiley as their own and prevent all competitors from using it. Well, you can have the Smiley as far as I’m concerned.”

In reply to an AlterNet post that’s iffy on the intricacies of intellectual property, commenter “joeblo” writes: “There is a difference between copyright, which would entail ‘ownership’, and trademark, which is what wal-mart is trying to do. This is a often made mistake for the general public when it comes to business law . Mal-mart is applying for trademark status in using THAT PARTICULAR SMILEY when used along with its business practices. …While I harbor no love for wal-mart, and go out of my way to NOT shop there, this is simply an exaggeration of the facts. It is completely within the law for wal-mart to file this claim with the USTPO.”

Read more about the Wal-Mart smiley stand-off.