Today's Blogs

Not for All the Uranium in Pyongyang

Bloggers are shocked by reports of flawed intelligence on North Korea, celebrating the achievements of Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and panning Laura Sessions Stepp’s take on casual sex.

Not for all the uranium in Pyongyang: Testifying before Congress Wednesday, U.S. intelligence officials distanced themselves from the Bush administration’s 2002 claims that North Korea has an active uranium enrichment program. The belief in these facilities led to the unraveling of the 1994 Agreed Framework. While the existence of the uranium facilities is now in doubt, North Korea proceeded with its plutonium enrichment, conducting a nuclear test late last year.

Liberals are full of righteous anger. At Eschaton, prominent liberal Duncan Black revisits Bush’s 2002 tactics. “[T]he original ‘Bush doctrine’ was known as ‘Anything But Clinton.’ Basically, if Clinton had anything to do with it, it was time to scrap it. This included a lovely little agreement which had prevented North Korea, charter member of the ‘axis of evil,’ from obtaining nuclear weapons,” he writes. Jim, the liberal at Simply Palaver, concurs. “The odds look decent, in other words, that the administration effectively let the DPRK build nuclear weapons for absolutely no reason at all other than its generally bad attitude toward diplomatic agreements and ‘stuff Bill Clinton did.’ “

“It’s a screw-up that staggers the mind,” Joshua Micah Marshall of liberal Talking Points Memo states. “[I]t was always clear that the uranium program was far less advanced than the plutonium one, which would be ready to produce weapons soon after it was reopened. Now we learn the whole thing may have been a phantom.” Houstonian moderate Daryl Hooper at Polimom is aghast. “If we’re going to say that a country is part of the Axis of Evil, suspend relations, and wax belligerent, then it stands to reason that we outta be really really sure we know what we’re talking about. Right?”

Wonkette, D.C.’s most reliable purveyor of snark, delivers once again: “Remember 2002, when we were all flyin’ high on paranoia and dread? Those reassuring warpigs in the Bush Administration knew what we needed: more enemies with more firepower, to keep America on its toes. … We bravely we cut off North Korea’s oil and they threw out the weapons inspectors. Now we’re all five years older, and because things are going so swimmingly in Iraq, the Bush administration has done the gentlemanly thing and admitted that NK’s never really been all that likely to enrich uranium any time soon.”

Washingtonian Effwit spins this news positively. “Oddly enough, this may be a good sign. Lately the intelligence has fallen apart only after we have attacked the nation in question. Analytical rigor could be making a comeback.”

Many conservatives are mum on the revelation. Conservative pundit Ed Morrissey at Captain’s Quarters chides liberals who call for perfect intelligence. “Intelligence is not an exact science, and conclusions have to be drawn on spotty evidence at times. The United States cannot allow itself the luxury of academic analysis paralysis; we have to prepare to meet danger before it becomes an unassailable fact.”

The Economist’s Democracy in America points out that the story dates from 2005, linking to thisForeign Affairs article.

Read more about uranium enrichment (or the lack thereof) in North Korea.

Farewell, Schlesinger: Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. passed away Wednesday at age 89. In his long career, he worked as an aide to President Kennedy and won the National Book Award and two Pultizer Prizes.

Arianna Huffington of the eponymous Huffington Post fondly remembers Schlesinger, with a touching story about how he would fax his blog posts to the online news outlet. During a lunch at New York’s Century Club, he asked her, “What is a blog? And what is blogging?” “So in this bastion of the Old Guard, I found myself explaining to a man who didn’t do e-mail, and who considered his fax machine a revolutionary way to communicate, what blogging is. Of course, he got it instantly,” she writes. Rebecca Anne Goetz at group history blog Cliopatria believes that “Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. can still serve as a model for how historians can do excellent scholarship but still write for a broader audience and engage in public service. I can’t think of any historians now who serve in a similar capacity.”

Writing on National Review’s The Corner, Rick Brookhiser ruminates on Schlesinger’s legacy. “He was an eminence as well as a historian—not, generally, a good thing for a historian to be. But let us take the sweet with the bitter—he enjoyed life, and had his fatal heart attack in a restaurant. Way to go. R.I.P.”

Read more about Arthur Schlesinger’s legacy.

On Unhooked: The New York Times highlights the growing controversy around Laura Sessions Stepp’s new book on college girls who, she says, forsake love for casual sex. In Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both, Sessions Stepp finds that a culture of  “hooking up” has invaded college campuses and hampers women’s chances of entering healthy relationships. Critics have dubbed the work anti-feminist and derided it for not considering how boys are affected.

At a Bird and a Bottle, a feminist and politics blog, twentysomething New Yorker Bean trounces Sessions Stepp’s findings. “For someone who calls herself a feminist, as the author does, her arguments sound suspiciously like Eric Keroack’s. …Why the assumption that hookup culture may not sometimes be damaging for men and gravy for women?” The Heights, a blog of the Boston College newspaper of the same name, college student Christy Dunn is skeptical:. “[I]t seems a little alarmist to say that hooking up is killing our chances for real love because doing so makes us destroys our ability to love. Our generation did not invent hooking up. If anything, we might have just made it more out in the open.”

The thirtysomething Catholic woman at Seraphic Singles is horrified by the sexual escapades of Generation Y as portrayed in the book. “One of the driving forces behind hook ups is despair. The young don’t believe in romance anymore. Romance is seen as fake, patriarchal, anti-feminist and unrealistic. Sex-without-strings, however, is advertised as healthy, ‘liberating’ (from what? Not HPV), feminist and fun.” She wonders why college students today can’t “dance the Charleston, swallow goldfish and cram themselves into phone booths like their ancestors?” she asks.

Read more reaction to Laura Sessions Stepp’s Unhooked. In Slate, see Meghan O’Rourke’s critique of the book.