Today's Blogs

About Abu

Bloggers weigh in on further revelations on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s death. They also bid Tom DeLay an unfond farewell, and they think it’s about time indeed that a vaccine for the human papilloma virus was approved by the FDA.

About Abu: News outlets are reporting that Iraq terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi did not die instantly in the bombing of his safehouse in Hibhib Thursday, nor are some politicians and pundits refraining from using the event to sneer about its “convenient” timing for Bush. In other second-day analysis, some bloggers are looking at the mechanics of the strike that took out Iraq’s most wanted terrorist.

David Axe at has a useful précis on the evolution of the turn-on-a-dime attack protocol, which was responsible for killing Zarqawi. He argues that the Air Force has improved its capability since the start of the war: “Despite the sophistication of U.S. warplanes, sensors and ordnance, all results of billions of dollars of investment – and despite great progress in prosecuting [Time Sensitive Targets] – most decapitation strikes have been undermined by tardy or faulty intelligence at the ground level. The Zarqawi killing represents the first time in more than four years that intelligence has allowed the technology of surgical strikes to fulfill its potential.” McQ at free marketeer The QandOBlog seconds this point about improved tactical surveillance and adds that the snuffing of the “prince” of al-Qaida “removes a charismatic icon from the field. Zarqawi was feted in soap operas, pop music and other venues in the Arab world. Many had come to believe he was invulnerable. His dead face on Al Jazera ends that bit of nonsense forever and again serves a very visible and useful warning to those who are thinking about joining the extremists he represented.”

At the WorldViews, the blog of the Christian evangelical World magazine, Vincent responds to Maj. Gen. William Caldwell’s relay that before dying, Zarqawi staggered toward military police bearing a stretcher: “The $64,000 question: What were Al-Zarqawi’s last words?” (From the comments section: “Can a brother get some Tylenol?” “Oh Shiite!” “That’s hot.”)

Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice is fed up with the partisan bickering that has followed Zarqawi’s demise: “[Y]ou’d think there would be a sense of relief: one of the people linked to the group responsible for 911 … won’t be around to give his troops instructions anymore. … So it was a day of national unity in the U.S., right? Wrong.” Gandelman then cites his favorite examples of conservative and liberal bloviation on the topic.

Read more Day 2 ruminations on Zarqawi’s death. ReadSlate’s coverage of Zarqawi.

Hammer timeout: Former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay, enveloped in a far-reaching lobby scandal, left Congress Friday in a mood of defiance. In his last speech he scorned the idea of any desirable comity between political parties, which is just about the only thing cyberspace grants him credit for.

Paul the Spud at the left-leaning (and Morrissey-inflected) Shakespeare’s Sister writes: “Now, I’m not completely naive; I realize that just because he’s not in Congress doesn’t mean he won’t be trying to influence anything. But this is a step in the right direction, no?”

David Weigel at libertarian Hit and Run, the blog of Reason magazine, is at least impressed by the outgoing senator’s to-hell-with-all-that attitude toward a bipartisan stroll down memory lane: “It’s a Texas-bred, Abramoff-bribed version of Federalist No. 10. If you want to hear something pathetic or actually corrosive to the Republic, take an insulin shot and try to stomach politicians who talk about ‘ending the partisanship in Washington.’ Nine times out of ten, they’re trying to silence political speech or crafting a bold new state-expanding program.” Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt agrees: “Tom DeLay understands the role of party as few do, and hopefully the leadership and the rank-and-file of the GOP will keep in mind that their majority is what allows the agenda to move forward, though slowly and in fits and starts. Majorities are tremendously difficult to build and easy to throw away.” PJB at Bloomington, Ind., blog (parenthetical remarks) also appreciates the Hammer’s pounding the nail of divisiveness back into the legislature as a parting salvo. However, “DeLay was never one for compromise. No, it usually [allegedly] took cold hard cash to get him to budge from his ‘core principles’. Like when the adamantly pro-life DeLay scuttled legislation that would have banned sweatshops in the U.S. Territory of the Northern Mariana Islands that forced workers to have abortions—at the request of one Jack Abramoff.”

Read more about DeLay’s exit.

HPV vaccine: The FDA approved Gardasil, the first vaccine against a strain of cervical cancer caused by the human papillomavirus. Conservative religious and cultural groups have argued that abstinence is its own vaccine, a stance many angrily attribute to the sluggishness with which drugs like this appear on market.

Guest poster Steve Benan at the liberal Washington Monthly’s blog The Political Animal says: “The reason this was even a debate at all in public health circles is that some far-right political activists have criticized the vaccine, regardless of its benefits, because they feared young women might believe they can have sex without getting cervical cancer.”

Ed Brayton at the science-and-zeitgeist intersection Dispatches From The Culture Wars has even less patience with the religious demurrals: “And remember, these people are ‘pro-life’ while demanding that life saving vaccines be denied to women. This is so insane that the word insane hardly seems strong enough to convey the lunacy. Apparently, using the vaccine leads to dancing, which leads to gay marriage, which leads to beastiality. Or something.”

Read more about the HPV vaccine. In Slate, Arthur Allen explains why the vaccine will take years to have a societal impact.