A few days ago, The Swords of Truth, a Gaza organization of Muslim holy men that had burned down Internet cafes and Christian book shops, threatened to slash the necks of female broadcasters. Behead them, that means. This is now something of an epidemic in the Muslim world. And, of course, George Bush is culpable for its spread. On Tuesday night, north of Kabul, a woman radio program host, Zakia Zaki, was shot dead as she slept beside her 10-month old child. Seven bullets were pumped into her, leaving six children orphans. All of this according to the Times's Abdul Waheed Wafa.


Mandate Mayhem

Do you remember those days in childhood, when you felt like everybody was out having fun while you were stuck inside doing your homework? That's how I felt yesterday. Everybody was blogging about health care reform and mandates. But there I was, holed up in university library, doing archival research for an upcoming article. Wait for me, guys! So let me try to make up for lost time. First, and most important, two folks who worked with Senator Obama on his health care plan -- David Cutler and Jacob Hacker -- have posted items clarifying the plan's virtues.


Right Said Fred

Uh oh. Now Fred Thompson has a website. Look out world! Last week, when I wrote that I thought Thompson was the Republican version of Wes Clark--i.e. an overhyped potential candidate who'll flame out once he actually gets in the race--a few people objected by pointing out that, unlike Clark, Thompson isn't a political novice. True. But is there anything in Thompson's political career that makes you think he's actually ready for a presidential campaign?


If one clear winner seemed to emerge from Sunday night's Democratic debate, last night's Republican gabfest produced no such consensus. That's perhaps to be expected, given the ideological divisions within the GOP. Still, McCain and Giuliani remain ahead of the pack, according to this survey of Internet opinion: Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post Winner: McCain "As is usually the case in a Republican debate, the big winner of the night was God. But John McCain finished a close second. This was vintage McCain.


by Sanford LevinsonThe latest CBS/New York Times poll conducted between May 18-23 shows the "favorable" rating of Vice President Dick Cheney at a record low. See here. Perhaps the White House takes heart that the "not favorable" rating has actually dropped because the "undecided"s and "haven't heard"s went up by a total 14 points.


by Eric Rauchway A while back, my department hosted a panel officially titled "Historical Scholarship and the New Media," but everyone called it "the blogging panel" anyway.


The Authenticity Gap

by David GreenbergMichael Kazin's recent post about our hunger for authenticity in presidential candidates--really, in all politicians--takes on what I think is one of the most important and difficult issues in our political culture today. Although the charge of inauthenticity sticks to some politicians more than others--and not always fairly--few if any are immune. I wrote a book suggesting that in the post-World War II era Richard Nixon became a magnet for our collective anxieties about this kind of inauthenticity.


Quote Of The Day

Since TNR is now Porn Central... From the Times's front page story on how the adult film business is adjusting to the internet: "There's not a whole lot of story--it's basically right to the sex, but we're consistent with the quality," [a porn producer] said, noting that the company is also careful to pick interesting backdrops. "We use different locations, rooms and couches."[Italics Mine] Different couches! Wow. --Isaac Chotiner

One candidate seems to have emerged as the consensus winner of last night's Democratic debate: Hillary Clinton. Here's a sampling of opinion from around the Internet. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish "There were times when her robo-lecture act began to wear down my ear-drums, but, in general, Senator Clinton bestrode the debate as an authoritative figure. In fact, I've never witnessed a U.S. political debate in which a woman clearly dominated as she did tonight... It kills me to admit it. But there you are. And as it sinks in, a dreadful specter emerges. Think June 2008. Think Romney vs Clinton.


Not A Pretty Picture

Who says there is no vibrant civil society in Gaza? Why, groups and grouplets crop up all the time making their claim to the patriotic Palestinian people by doing real deeds. The Army of Islam emerged when it abducted the BBC's Alan Johnston, and it has kept him in captivity for three months. We've already experienced the Swords of Truth in the destruction of Christian bookshops and internet cafes in Gaza. This group actually does what it threatens.