Today's Blogs

Barack O-blah-ma

Liberal bloggers are surprisingly indifferent to Barack Obama’s almost-certain presidential run. They also see civil war all over the latest car bomb that ripped through a Shiite university in Baghdad, and await Netflix’s new streaming-video feature.

Barack O-blah-ma: Sen. Barack Obama, who made an electric national debut at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, has announced, to no one’s surprise, that he’ll create an exploratory committee for a White House bid next year. Yet plenty of lefties aren’t so sure the junior senator has graduated to political long-pants just yet.

At catchall blog locussolus, Paul Goyette writes: “[R]egardless of what his own ambitions or experience say to political handlers, it’s the politcal opportunities—and in particular whether he has something powerful to offer—that should govern his decision.”

John in DC, a lefty at AMERICABlog,has some fraternal advice for the contender’s boosters: “Teach your boss to use the word ‘I.’ Obama was on CNN last week, talking about Bush’s Iraq escalation plan, and he kept talking about (and I paraphrase) how ‘our office was considering that’ or how ‘my staff is looking at that’ or how ‘we are certainly thinking about that.’ It’s no your office, it’s not your staff, and it’s not we. It’s you. It’s I.”

Liberal Shakespeare’s Sister is lukewarm on Obama but doesn’t think his inexperience automatically disqualifies him: “[C]uriously, it always seems to be the folks who have the least faith in the decency and integrity of our federal government (and the people who run it) who also argue that longevity of service is a prerequisite for the presidency—which is, ultimately, counterintuitive. If Congress is a cesspool of crookedness, then the best presidents would be the ones who rise above it earlier rather than later.”

Lefty John Bohrer at The Huffington Post investigates the dual meaning of presidential race for a black candidate: “[D]on’t be surprised when, in the next few weeks, you see the media touting polls of African American voters and using them to rate Obama’s meteoric rise. Or fall. … As Dayton Duncan once said about the media and polls, ‘They create it, pay for it, and then report on it.’ “

Read more about Obama’s semi-official White House aspirations. On Slate, John Dickerson and Andy Bowers parse  the video announcement, and Juliet Eilperin wonders if Obama’s speaking voice will suffer should he quit smoking.

Civil War U.: A devastating series of attacks—two car bombs and one suicide bombing—killed 70 people and injured more than 100 at Mustansiriya University in Baghdad today, just days after the botched executions of Saddam’s Sunni Baathist associates. Bloggers see the Shiite school as the latest target in an ever-widening sectarian conflict in Iraq that threatens to become, if it hasn’t already, a civil war.

Iraqi Mojo, a Baghdad native who grew up in the United States, thinks the university should have concealed the school’s Shiite credentials: “I’m surprised the university allowed photos of Sadr on the walls. They should take those photos down, if they can. Maybe that is the problem—perhaps the university feels the pressure from the Mahdi army, which should not be the case.”

Michael Toler at Arab-focused Al-Musharaka Blog notes that “[i]t is not the first time that universities have come under attack, further stoking concerns about the fate of intellectuals, scholars and students in the country. In November, for example, the Scholars at Risk Network issued a statement calling for action after an assault on the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Scholarships and Cultural Relations Directorate, an institute responsible for granting scholarships to Iraqi academics seeking to undertake research abroad.”

Mideast analyst Juan Cole at Informed Comment blames Bush’s “zero-sum” policy of handing Iraq over to the Shiites for this latest massacre. Additionally, “[t]he female university students are among Iraq’s few hopes for the future. Iraqi women were once 75% literate, but US/UN sanctions and the poor economy of the 1990s drove down the percentage to only 25%. So women well-educated enough to get to university are a small minority in Iraq. Fewer and fewer families feel comfortable letting their girls go out under these circumstances.”

Read more about the Mustansiriya University bombings.

Watch (our stock) now: Financially embattled company Netflix is going to offer streaming video-on-demand for its PC clients. With “Watch Now,” you get 18 hours of free monitor-based movie time and can choose from about 1,000 titles—television and film.

B. Greenway at Home Theater Blog says: “Devices like AppleTV, the PS3 and DVR’s would obviously offer quicker (and less expensive) entry points into the internet connected living room than a proprietary Netflix ‘box’, but … [i]f Netflix and Microsoft were to enter into a partnership to deliver Netflix “rentals” to Xbox 360 owners the ramifications could be huge.”

Hacking Netflix’s blogger was invited to the company headquarters to get a sneak peak at “Watch Now.” He was disappointed that the service isn’t yet Mac-compatible: “I bugged [Netflix founder] Reed Hastings about it during the demo (I use a MacBook), and he said they eventually want to be platform agnostic. … The selection is still a bit weak, but there were some surprises. There are about 9 movies from my queue available (out of 435).” (A video demo of the feature is available here.)

Read more about Watch Now.