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Why didn’t I think of this 

If you’re an information junkie like me, you’ll wonder why you didn’t come up with NationMaster. The site lets you do interactive country comparisons on a pretty wide range of data.

Faction fighting 

It’s worth reading Brad DeLong’s deconstruction of reports on the administration’s approach to Middle East peace. As a former Washington insider, I trust Brad’s teasing out of faction fighting in the White House.

I have many ideological differences with the Bush administration. That’s no surprise. But what I find so astonishing on a virtually daily basis is the scale of incompetence the administration displays in just about every area it touches. I wish I could be optimistic on the Middle East, but nothing in the administration’s record so far suggests to me that they have the competence or attention span to see things through.

Salam Pax in The Guardian 

Salam Pax provides a better insight into life in Baghdad than the scores of western journalists filing from the city.

“I got five papers for 1,750 dinars, around $1.50, it felt like I was buying the famous bread of bab-al-agha: hot, crispy and cheap. When the newspaper man saw how happy I was with my papers he asked if I would like to take one for free. Newspaper heaven! It turns out that no one is buying any copies of the paper published by the Iraqi Communist workers party; he just wants to unload it on me. Look, I paid for the Hawza paper so why not take the commie one gratis?”

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