Today's Blogs

Pressing Ahead

Bloggers analyze the president’s Wednesday morning press conference. They also fret about cerebrum-enhancing drug use among students and try to extract the right humor-nastiness ratio contained in the “Hadji Girl” song.

Pressing ahead: In the immediate wake of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s death, the president’s surprise visit to Iraq, and the non-indictment of Karl Rove on criminal charges in connection with the Valerie Plame scandal, Bush held a press conference Wednesday morning in the Rose Garden. His admitted jet lag may have been a boon, because most bloggers—even diehard critics of his administration—rank the performance as among his best.

At conservative site Common Sense Justice, FrankLaughter writes: “Bush made one mistake that caught my attention. He said that the Iraqi people have spoken and now its time for the government to deliver. He didn’t say what it would take to get a similar system here in America.” Fellow righty Laure Lee Donoho at The Wide Awafe Café thinks the president can’t catch a break, even when he’s on a roll: “The reporters are very unhappy about the U.S. Military’s success in Iraq, Karl Rove’s escape from indictment and the president’s surprise trip…Some of the reporters must be angry that they were left out of the trip to Iraq because they are being especially ugly.”

Even one of the diarists at DailyKos is offering two cheers for the president. Mike Pridmore argues that Bush always plays by the polls but nonetheless presented himself effectively this morning: “So Mr. President, congratulations on a good press conference.  But don’t think we didn’t notice that you were playing politics the whole time.  And if we succeed in Iraq it won’t because you are a man of vision who started out by promoting an ideal and stuck to it.  You started out somewhere else and ended up at that ‘ideal’ after your initial rationales proved false.”

Wonkette was positive, too: “It had a relaxed feel. Bush engaged in joking banter about jet lag with Jake Tapper, whom he complimented on his question. The president also praised David Gregory’s stylish neckwear.” Though the D.C. snarksters had to change their tune after realizing the most entertaining moment—reporter Peter Wallsten’s approaching the microphone in sunglasses and Bush’s playful taunting him for it—turned out to be a gaffe: “Oh shit. Turns out Wallsten is legally blind. Blame it on your jet lag, Mr. President!”

Read more about the Bush press conference.

Feed your head: According to this Washington Post article (note: Slate is owned by the same parent company), use of “bootleg” prescription cognitive drugs is up among students looking for that competitive edge during exam time. Adderall and Provigil are two popular brands that increase concentration, as well as concerns about long-term addiction and safety.

Simon at Better Humans, an “evolving community of forward thinkers,” is worried that cerebral enhancement won’t stop at the diploma: “With all these college-age kids gaining experience and comfort using such drugs for enhancement, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll stop once they’re out of college. Rather, I think think that it’s far more likely they’ll continue enhancing their performance as additional means become available.” James Elwood at Thought Mechanics starts off with unencouraging news about U.S. education stats and then slips in to tsking the brain candy: “[R]ather than improving teaching methods or building newer and better schools why not partner with the pharmaceutical industry to provide government subsidized Adderall and Provigi. It would be a one-two punch as the drug companies would gain entrance to an emerging market and our children would have the tools necessary so that they are not left behind.”

Cory Doctorow at “directory of wonderful things” boing boing is more sanguine: “This strikes me as the canonical cognitive liberty fight: why shouldn’t you be allowed to make an informed decision about what state of mind you’d like to be in? Why will the law allow people to kill brain and liver cells with stupefying booze, but not smart drugs?”

At ZiefBrief, a blog run by two librarians at the University of San Francisco’s Dorraine Zief Law Library, John Shafer and Lee Ryan examine the ramifications for law students: “Use of these drugs without a prescription is clearly illegal…and getting caught with them would certainly put a crimp in a legal career. Even without the criminal nature of using ‘smart pills’ there is the issue of fairness. How can you properly compare the examination results of a ‘doped’ student against a ‘clean’ classmate?”

Read more about “A Dose of Genius.”

Hadji Girl: An online video has emerged in which an alleged marine sings a parodic song, “Hadji Girl,” about a comely female jihadist who lures him into a Burger King. He’s instantly taken with her but can’t understand what she’s saying—she speaks in Team America: World Police-isms. Yet when her family opens fire on the guy, he uses her little sister as a human shield. (See the video here. Registration required.) The Council on American-Islamic Relations has denounced the song, and cyberspace is either in an uproar about the ditty, or in an uproar about the uproar.

Conservative blog Little Green Footballs takes the media to task for not listening to the actual song before summarizing its contents: “This description appears in both the BBC and the AP, and again, to paint their distorted, ugly picture, they leave out the most important part: the people who kill the ‘little sister’ in this darkly humorous song are — not the Marines — but her father and brother, as they attempt to perpetrate an ambush.”

Pakistani-American Baraka, however, is disgusted. At Truth and Beauty he writes: “Even more disturbing than the lyrics are the listeners’ reactions to the song, which apparently they find hilarious…This makes me nauseous.”

The song is pretty funny and inoffensive, according to Chad Evans at righty site In The Bullpen: “The entire ‘dirka, dirka, jihad’ line should give this whole thing away as comical relief. Yes, even our soldiers who are in harms way need comical relief…Is the song really that bad? I submit that it isn’t and frankly, I am sick and tired of defending Marines from the vulchers that reside within some press organizations.”

Read more about the “Hadji Girl” song.