Today's Blogs

Another Surge?

Bloggers target Bush’s plan to send more troops to Afghanistan, and they mock Fox News Channel’s foray into comedy and the U.S. Mint’s new dollar coin.

Another surge? President Bush announced his decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan, urging other members of NATO to follow suit. Under Bush’s plan, the Army’s 10th Mountain Division would remain in Afghanistan for another four months, until the 173rd Airborne Brigade, originally headed for Iraq, replaces them. A surge from the blogosphere ensued, bearing cynicism toward both NATO and Bush.

Kos at progressive blog Daily Kos faulted Bush for pressuring NATO: “Fact is, even Bush’s staunches allies in Europe have given up on the failed Bush presidency. NATO nations Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Hungary have already ditched him in Iraq, with Poland and the UK eager to get out this year. Bush is toxic in those countries, and more than one government has fallen in part because of having too close a relationship with Bush. And he’s going to demand troops from them?”

Retired intelligence officer Rick Francona of Middle East Perspectives gives NATO even more of an onus: “The so-called ‘resurgence’ of the Taliban is a reflection of the replacement of U.S. forces with NATO troops. When NATO units arrived in the area, many of the countries placed restrictions and conditions on the use of their forces. …If the other NATO countries want to be treated like allies, they need to start acting like allies.”

Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters doubted the significance of Bush’s public urgings: “I’m not sure why this speech got so much attention. There’s nothing much new here, and it’s one of Bush’s poorest performances on the stump. He sounds like he’s ad-libbing a great deal of the speech, and he’s not a good enough speaker to do it.”

Politics/entertainment blog The Darkefang Post colored the plan politically: “He’s combining the surge in Iraq - which has lukewarm support at best - with a surge in Afghanistan - which will be overwhelmingly supported. It probably wouldn’t happen either way, but there have been rumblings in Congress about not passing funding requests from the White House that would go toward financing the surge in Iraq. By taking troops from the surge and sending them to Afghanistan, he’s marrying the two efforts. Anyone opposing a funding bill for Iraq is now also opposing funding the effort in Afghanistan. Stopping the surge means also taking what will be an unpopular stand. Plus, you’ll be setting yourself up for accusations of undermining the troops on two fronts.”

Read more about the troop increase.

FNC attempts LOL: Fox News Channel will broadcast the first episode of The Half-Hour News Hour Sunday, adding a right-leaning tinge to the current fake-news canon. 24 creator Joel Surnow’s answer to The Daily Show and, however, received mostly ridicule from bloggers. Watch the video.

Brian at The Blue State Conservatives decried the laugh tracks: “The writing needs some work but that is not the worst of it’s problems. The worst thing I saw from the two clips are the canned laughter. While some jokes are honestly funny, not all jokes demand a ‘level 10’ laugh from the crowd. While the crowd at the Daily Show has honest laughter, this show, at least from the two short clips I’ve seen, uses what can only be seen as forced laughter. It’s as if they are trying to tell me when a joke has been made.”

At Titivil, Mr. Brent sums up the general reaction: “This is sweeping the Internets like wildfire.  A very, very unfunny wildfire. … How not funny is it?  It’s about as not funny as saying, ‘I need to wash my eyeballs with bleach.’”

Read more about The Half-Hour News Hour.

Dollar-in-chief: The U.S. Mint will begin circulating a new round of $1 coins, this time adorned with presidential mugs, scheduled to change every three months (the first wave of coins displays the face of George Washington). Bloggers largely view the scheme as ill-considered.

Johnmscalzi voices the classic durability concern: “Americans prefer their dollars in bill form (or think they do, anyway), so as long as they keep making the bills, people will use them instead of the dollar coins. Dollar bills are more expensive than the dollar coins (bill cost less to make, but they wear out sooner), and it makes sense just to cut out dollar bills entirely, but the US Treasury doesn’t seem to want to do that. So expect to see these coins rarely if at all.”

Ben Langhinrichs at the blog for Genii Software cited the coins’ design as their tragic flaw: “The United States has tried a couple of times before to convince its people that they (we) should use dollar coins, to a resounding lack of success.  There have been various reasons for this lack of success, but at least one problem has been that people have collected the coins rather than using them. … So, the U.S. Mint plans to combat these problems by putting out a new series of coins featuring U.S. presidents, which will be the exact same size, weight and color as the Sacagawea. In other words, combat the problem of people collecting the coins by making them even more appealing and collectable …”

Read more about the dollar coins.