Today's Blogs

Hanging Tough

Bloggers cheer or lament the death sentence against Saddam Hussein. They also complain about repeated “robo-calls” from GOP backers that give the impression that the calls are from Democrats and debate the yuck factor of scientists fusing human DNA with cow eggs.

Hanging tough: On Sunday, an Iraqi jury sentenced Saddam Hussein to death by hanging for his role in the execution of 148 men and youths from Dujail, a small Shiite town north of Baghdad. As the verdict was read, Hussein shouted: “Long live the people! Long live the nation! Down with the occupiers! Down with the spies!”

In a fake news report at Whiskey Bar, billmon suggests that news’ proximity to the U.S. elections, is anything but coincidental: “[A]nalysts noted that the court made several controversial decisions—such as barring a number of defense witness from taking the stand—that seemed designed to hasten the trial’s conclusion. ‘If I didn’t know better, I’d almost say the judges were trying to meet some sort of arbitrary deadline,’ said one Iraqi lawyer, who asked to remain anonymous in order to stay alive.”

Austin Bay, a syndicated columnist and Iraq veteran, doesn’t share the cynicism. “Is this a November surprise for the US election? I doubt it, because sensationalist media focus on the immediate moment, not historical context. … But this grand story is about belated justice, a justice once thought impossible to reach by the real victims, the Iraqi people. It’s also about the slow, difficult birth of a democratic society in a region caught in the terrible yin-yang of tyrants and terrorists—a nation moving from the whim of the Big Man and the fear of terrorist bombs to the rule of law and democratic polity.”

At the left-leaning Needlenose, greenboy sees irony in the death sentence: “[A] former enemy of fundee Islam is about to be transformed at the hands of the Great Satan into a Jihadi martyr. Future generations of Sunni Arabs might remember the guy not for torturing and gassing his own people, but rather as a Sunni Jihadist, standing against the evils of Western Nihilism and resurgent Shi’ite Heresy.”

Read more on Saddam’s sentence. In Slate, Anne Applebaum said Saddam’s trial was just; Christopher Hitchens argued against the dictator’s execution.

Paranoid android: People in hotly contested congressional districts are angry about the repeated automated phone calls they’ve been getting, which at first seem to be from Democrats. But Dems are even angrier, as the calls are actually from organizations backing the GOP, which listeners only discover if they stay on the line till the end of the call.

“Given that harrassing repeat calls have been reported in congressional districts around the country, it is unlikely that this is merely a contractor’s ‘glitch,’ ” says TPM Reader DK at the liberal Talking Points Memo. “But the repeat nature of the calls was not immediately recognized as part of the NRCC’s national robocall campaign. The NRCC robocall campaign thus flew under the radar exactly as intended.”

Some Dems hope that the calls will backfire for Republicans. “The only joy to be had is that robo-calls are so completely unintelligent that, unlike New Hampshire phone-jamming, they work against everyone without discriminating … ,” writes Eve Fairbanks at The Plank, the New Republic’s blog. “My dad spent some of his weekend making GOTV calls for the RNC … and reported that he was uniformly hung up on by people so angry at the number of robo-calls they’d gotten that they refused to speak to a legitimate Republican volunteer working the phone banks.”

Righty blogs make scant mention of the calls, though Enlighten-New Jersey reminds its readers that about an article in The Hill back in March that cited Dems as pulling a similar trick during the Dubai ports-management controversy.

Read more about robo-calls. Read Slate’s midterm election coverage here and reports about various voting problems here.

Oh, the cow-manity: Scientists at Newcastle University and Kings College, London, have applied for permission to create embryos by fusing human DNA with cow eggs for stem-cell research. The proposal comes in response to a shortage of human eggs for research, which require surgical removal from a woman.

“When it comes to the debate about embryonic stem cell research, I understand the sides,” writes casey, a Toronto doctoral student in theology, at rain falls on everyone. “But how do you even begin to discuss the ethical implications of creating ‘chimeras,’ part human, part bovine, and the ‘right to life’ issues that this poses. … My prediction, stated with tongue only mildly in cheek: we will see an unlikely alliance between Focus on the Family, and other right to life groups, with PETA.”

But the experiment is “actually (slightly) less scary than it sounds,” offers RyanL, commenting at The Curt Jester, a blog written from a Catholic perspective. “What they are trying to do is remove the ‘goodies’ (DNA, etc.) from the inside of a bovine ovum (egg) and replacing it with entirely human DNA. … The resulting embryo is a human clone, not a Frankenstein-esque mix.”

Read more  about human-cow embryos.