Bloggers on Prince Harry in Afghanistan

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Feb. 29 2008 6:10 PM

Royal Mess

Bloggers have a field day with Prince Harry's deployment to Afghanistan. They also weigh in on new incarceration statistics, and pooh-pooh Hillary Clinton's latest ad.

Royal mess: The Drudge Report on Thursday trumpeted the news that Britain's Prince Harry has been serving in Helmand province, Afghanistan, since December. Although the British media had unanimously agreed not to publicize the story until Harry's return, British journalists broke their silence upon Drudge's discolsure, and Harry was rushed home.

Bloggers are split about the decision to pull Harry out. "I am very happy for Prince Harry that he has been able to do what he has always wanted to do. And happier still that he is safe. I'm looking forward to news of his safe return to Britain," gushes House of Wales-friendly Maricarat Merry Royals. "Pulling him out is a form of retreat and hands the Taliban a propaganda victory. I reckon we should keep Harry out there for as long as it takes," snarksStephen Newton, who advocates sending Prince William, as well.

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"The positive publicity for the mission in Afghanistan will do no harm at all. After Iraq, nation-building is very definitely out of fashion among the European public," writes Scotsman Mr. Eugenides at Pajamas Media, noting that British troops are feeling forgotten as the war drags on. He adds: "Harry didn't have to spend his Christmas on his belly in the dirt and dogshit of Afghanistan; he volunteered for the army, as his forebears have for hundreds of years, at least partly out of a sense of duty and an awareness of his place in public life."

Should the media have agreed to the blackout? "It would be almost unheard of, in this day and age, to have the child of the leader of the United States to go into harms way as did Prince Harry. Instead, our press has to report the deployment and put him and his unit in harms way," points out BizGrrl on the progressive TennViews. "In truth, the surprise is that the agreement lasted so long," discloses Jon Williams, a contributor to BBC's Editors blog. Williams, who was in on the secret, assures, "We don't do this stuff lightly - there are no other 'voluntary agreements' in place at the moment, there's nothing else we're not telling you." On the Guardian's Comment Is Free, George Galloway (yes, that George Galloway) fulminates, "Out with the images of partying in a Nazi uniform, in with the young warrior who lost his mother when young but who has now grown up. So the greatest collusion of all by the media is in perpetuating the myths of this war and in helping to craft the perfect recruitment poster."

Drudge has come under fire from several quarters. Crooks and Liars' Logan Murphy notes, "Apparently, Matt Drudge thought he had an exclusive on Prince Harry's whereabouts serving in the military in Afghanistan. It turns out that he didn't get the exclusive, but as Keith Olbermann points out on Thursday's Countdown, he does get all the blame." But media snark-blog Gawker salutes Drudge: "British tabloids are usually much more ruthless than American ones. But ultimately the British really do care about the royals. There's no ironic distance there. And between an asshole in fedora and believing in the Divine Rights of Kings, Matt Drudge wins any day."

Read more about Harry in Afghanistan.

One in 100: Bloggers ponder a study claiming that the U.S. prison population is at an unprecedented high. The study reports that "more than one in 100 adults is in jail or prison," and that the U.S. incarcerates more people than even China, which has 1 billion more people.

"America's disproportionate investment in corrections rather than prevention maintains what the Children's Defense Fund aptly calls the 'Cradle to Prison Pipeline.' This system is a terrible short-term and long-term investment, both fiscally and in lives," suggests the Huffington Post's Dan Brown, author of a memoir of teaching in the Bronx, N.Y.

On Reason's Hit & Run, Jacob Sullum quarrels with the Pew Center's stats claiming that the United States incarcerates more people than China: "[I]n the process of criticizing the U.S. criminal justice system, whose numbers are pretty reliable, let's be careful not to minimize the oppressive policies of countries like China and Cuba, whose numbers may be fictitious." Law professor Eugene Volokh points to a graph  suggesting a strong relationship between the decrease in mental institutions and the increased prison population. And at the progressive American Prospect's Tapped, Kate Sheppard finds a connection with a new Eisenhower Foundation report that documents disadvantages in the African-American community. She writes, "American society doesn't provide the same economic and social opportunities to its black members as it does whites, thereby increasing the rate at which black Americans to wind up in jail because of drugs and other non-violent crimes."

Read more about the prison stats.

Phone tag: Bloggers are dissecting Hillary Clinton's latest ad that says, "It's 3 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone in the White House, and it's ringing. Something's happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call."

"Perhaps the most provocative ad Hillary Clinton has run this cycle," pronouncesMarc Ambinder. "Arguably, this is her best ... argument .. against Barack Obama, and yet it's taken her 13 months to make it so explicitly."

Others are not so moved. "That 'be afraid' strategy is so 2002. It's the mindset that got us into the Iraq war in the first place," writesAMERICAblog's liberal Joe Sudbay. "Looks like she took the advice of leading neocon Bill Kristol who just this weekend suggested Clinton play the 'politics of fear.' " Conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters gloats: "I'd call this the last act of a desperate woman." The New York Observer's Politicker Steve Kornacki compares the ad to a 1984 Mondale spot but cautions, "Whether the 'red phone' ad was a key ingredient in his comeback, though, is debatable."

And on the National Review's Campaign Spot, Jim Geraghty rubs it in: "[I]it is awfully nice of Hillary to test out John McCain's key theme against Obama. Too bad it's only running in Texas; McCain could use the 'Obama's not ready to be commander in chief' message spread through Ohio, too."

Read more about Hillary's phone ad.

Bidisha Banerjee is the San Francisco-based co-author of a forthcoming Yale Climate and Energy Institute/Centre for International Governance Innovation report on scenario planning for solar radiation management. She is collaborating on a geoengineering game and has written about geoengineering governance for Slate and the Stanford Journal of Law, Science, and Policy.