Warblogger Rusty Shackleford has the goods on American hostage Roy Hallums, who was shown pleading for his life in a video released yesterday. In the tape, Hallums says that he is “not asking for any help from President Bush because I know of his selfishness and unconcern for those that have been pushed into this hell hole. I am asking for the help of Arab rulers, especially President Muammar Gaddafi because he’s known for helping those who are suffering.”

Writes Shackleford: “Ghaddafi?? Bad words against Bush?? This does not sound like the Roy Hallums as described to me by his family and friends. I’m sure the rifle pointed at his head had something to do with his pleas.”

The Left Coaster wants to break out the popcorn, sit back and watch the tug of war between the Bush administration and conservative evangelicals over Social Security reform. (According to an article in the New York Times yesterday, social conservatives are threatening to withhold support for the reform unless the administration gets tough about issues like gay marriage.) “Ever since 1968, the party has succeeded by holding together an incongruous mix of Wall Street/K Street plutocrats and Southern reactionaries formerly within the Democratic fold,” writes the Left Coaster. “But the Social Security debate demonstrates how fragile this coalition truly is. After all, the ideological shock troops can only vote against their economic interests for so long; the prospect of ‘dudes kissin’ in front of the county courthouse may repulse these Real Americans, but so does the possibility of grandma and grandpa living (and dying) in poverty.”

Captain Ed writes that the Democrats’ “desperate need to stay relevant” — as evidenced by their stronger-than-expected opposition to some cabinet appointments — is the kind of “tantrum” that leads to “stupid mistakes, like having an ex-Klansman like Robert Byrd block a confirmation vote on the first black female Secretary of State.” Adds the Captain:

Mature and wise leadership would advise against conducting ridiculous and embarrassing spectacles such as these. Harry Reid, in his short tenure as Minority Leader, has demonstrated a lack of capacity for either quality. The obstructionism rejected soundly by voters across the nation in 2004 will once again be before them in 2006, and Reid may find himself the leader of a much smaller minority after that election if this keeps up.

But over at Tapped, Sam Rosenfeld writes that the Democrats have been “very impressive in using their leverage to make points and cause a little mischief when the opportunity arises.” He applauds what he thinks is “a caucus that has blessedly resisted the myth that ‘obstructionism’ is politically deadly and to be avoided. I’ve been hoping to see (or maybe write) a nice debunking of the conventional wisdom about what it was that caused Tom Daschle to lose his re-election race in South Dakota, but it looks like the Senate caucus at least doesn’t require any such education.”

The Corner’s Rich Lowry is breaking with his site’s regular “MSM” bashing — kinda. In a post headlined “Wonders Never Cease,” he writes that “[f]or the second day in a row, the New York Times has a positive Iraq piece, this one about Sunnis wanting to have a part drafting the constitution. For weeks, administration insiders have been telling me how: 1) the Shiite slate has been amazingly responsible in its actions and statements; 2) there will be plenty of chances to buy reasonable Sunnis into the political process even after the January 30 election. Stunningly, both points have now been reported and given high-profile play in the Times.”

Finally, former Pandagon-ian Ezra Klein has gone solo, and he wants to know if the “suggestive” photo he’s posted on his site should stay. Commenter Chris Rasmussen seems fine with the picture, though he warns that “the idea of ‘blogger beefcake pics’ is something we certainly don’t want to encourage under any circumstances.” And if young Klein is going to brazenly leave his top button undone, Rasmussen adds, he might want to “throw in some gold chains and chest hair.”

Brian Montopoli

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Brian Montopoli is a writer at CJR Daily.