January 18, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 01/18/2008

A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

In the News: (Registration may be required to read some stories)
We're All Keynesians Now - So famously declared Richard Nixon back in 1971, in what we thought was a different economic era. But after yesterday, we're not sure what decade we're in. With Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and President Bush both endorsing temporary tax cuts and more federal spending as "fiscal stimulus," an inflation-adjusted version of Jimmy Carter's $50 rebate can't be far behind. (READ MORE)

World Bank Purge - The World Bank on Wednesday announced the resignation of Suzanne Rich Folsom as director of its anticorruption unit, or INT. "She was not forced out, she was not asked to leave," said external relations chief Marwan Muasher. That's one way of putting it. (READ MORE)

Fed Chairman Backs Stimulus - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke endorsed government efforts to stimulate the economy yesterday, as congressional leaders and the Bush administration moved closer to agreement on a plan. (READ MORE)

Coal Industry Plugs Into the Campaign - A group backed by the coal industry and its utility allies is waging a $35 million campaign in primary and caucus states to rally public support for coal-fired electricity and to fuel opposition to legislation that Congress is crafting to slow climate change. (READ MORE)

CIA Places Blame for Bhutto Assassination - The CIA has concluded that members of al-Qaeda and allies of Pakistani tribal leader Baitullah Mehsud were responsible for last month's assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and that they also stand behind a new wave of violence threatening that country's stability, the... (READ MORE)

DHS to Replace 'Duplicative' Anti-Terrorism Data Network - The Homeland Security Department spent more than $90 million to create a network for sharing sensitive anti-terrorism information with state and local governments that it has decided to replace, according to an internal department document. (READ MORE)

A Scholar's Legal Peril in Poland - WARSAW -- Polish prosecutors are considering taking the unusual step of filing criminal charges against an Ivy League professor for allegedly "slandering the Polish nation" in a book that describes how Poles victimized Jewish survivors of the Holocaust in the aftermath of World War II. (READ MORE)

Bernanke Backs Stimulus Plan - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke yesterday embraced congressional plans to quickly pass an economic stimulus package of up to $150 billion including middle-class tax rebates, investment tax breaks, and unemployment and food assistance for the poor. (READ MORE)

State Doubles Military Advisers - The State Department is doubling the number of resident diplomatic advisers that it sends to the offices of the nation's top military commanders at home and overseas — a move encouraged by the Pentagon as its uniformed leaders take on larger public roles abroad. (READ MORE)

Obama Hit Over Labor Union Ads - Sen. Barack Obama's presidential rivals yesterday accused him of hypocrisy because a labor union that backs his candidacy is running attack ads against Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. (READ MORE)

McCain Rallies S.C. Supporters - It was almost as if Sen. John McCain wanted to overwhelm his supporters with firepower: 40 minutes of endorsement speeches here yesterday from the Republican Party's top spending-cuts advocate, a leading tax-cuts advocate and a who's who of South Carolina leaders. (READ MORE)

Russia Revives Military Boast of Soviet Days - Reviving yet another iconic image from Soviet days, Russia's military announced plans to stage a parade of ballistic missiles, tanks and platoons of soldiers this May through the Kremlin's Red Square. (READ MORE)

From the Front:
A Battlefield Tourist: Hearts and Minds - Afghanistan 2004 - Last year I completed a six-part chronicle in history covering the year of 2004 in Afghanistan. I arguably traveled more miles than any other videojournalist in Afghanistan that year. In part one of this series, I take a look at the “Hearts and Minds” operation that kicked off in spring of that year. I tag along as the coalition works to inform the people of this country about the upcoming presidential election, as well as helping to bring basic needs, to a needy population. The idea: By winning hearts and minds, you turn the population against the enemy. (READ MORE)

Badger 6: Update on Sergeant Samuel Nichols - Eric R. Nichols, father of Sergeant Samuel E. Nichols, a Marine whose unit worked with Task Force Pathfinder in Ramadi, and was wounded in an attack that killed four of his comrades, leaves this comment: “Hello All! It's Sam's Dad (Sgt Samuel E Nichols, USMC)here. I want to report he is doing well with measured progress every day. When the doctors told us there was no hope 5 and 1/2 months ago, we refused that prognoises and began believing God for his promises of miracles of healing.” (READ MORE)

Desert Dude: 17 January - Last night after band practice we hit the chow hall …while I was eating the captain from another unit here on the FOB joined us and told us about his adventures for the day…they rolled out to J-Bad and along the way they came across two jingle trucks carrying US military cargo—one had two shipping containers, the other had a 5 ton cargo truck…both trucks had been set on fire and were burnt to the ground …literally sitting on the rims because the tires had been burned also… (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: What's Scary About the Truth - The Arabic media proudly show any negative result of U.S. military action. We can all agree that they gave plenty of air time and newspaper space to the murders in Haditha, Mahmoudiya, etc. We can look at some angry blogs who post photos (with the caption of you won't see this in the western press) of the Arabs who display their hate for Bush. And though even al-Jazeera broke down and reported security improvements in Iraq, you can be sure that the mainstream, nationalist and leftist Arabs will not report on the real work of the soldiers. Why not? One reason is they dismiss this kind of story as propaganda. (READ MORE)

Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: Phantom Embers - When it was going down, I didn’t know if my platoon was a part of Operation Phantom Phoenix. Hell, even days later, I'm still not certain, and the only reason I'm aware that such an offensive even took place is because I read about it on the internet later. Things like that don’t always make it down the chain to our level; layers upon layers of brass, taskings, and PowerPoint presentations separate LT G from General Petraeus. All I know for sure is that the same day our Army’s massive offensive was said to take place across Iraq in January, 2008, the Gravediggers were perched up on an Iraqi roof, scanning into a neighborhood with binoculars and sights. We were watching the Iraqi Army clear through a neighborhood house-by-house, while some of our sister American troops provided inner security. (READ MORE)

A Surgeon's Letters Home From Iraq: 17 JAN 2008 Back on the plane, the journey continues - (Please note that I am safely and happily home, but the story must be told, and it comes out slower than I travel!) Once on the plane, I did my best to settle in to the narrow spot allotted to each body. I had my 72 hour bag at my feet, since there was no more overhead space. My boots touched both my bag and the front of the seat under me, leaving them no room to move. To my sides, I was touching the troops to my right and my left at the hips and shoulders, locking me in laterally. I had balled up my Goretex parka with gloves and watch cap and placed it on my lap. (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Our mascot - Camp Vulcan now has a new mascot: A bobblehead replica of the famed Vulcan statue in Birmingham - The bobble-butt.The bobblehead (which also features a bobble-butt) was one of many gifts in an overflow of packages awaiting me when I returned from leave. Thank you, DavisDenny public relations firm in Birmingham for sending it to us. DavisDenny also sent a book of photographs of home from Birmingham photographer Karim Samshi-Basha. I've worked with Karim before and he is a good man and a talented photographer. The book is perfect for those times I feel homesick. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Newt Gingrich: Real Change Now: The Opportunity to Listen to the American People - With the victory of Governor Huckabee and Senator Obama in the Iowa caucuses, “change” rapidly became the buzzword that defined the 2008 primaries. In New Hampshire, Senator McCain rallied independents behind his record of reform in Washington and Senator Clinton scored an upset win by rapidly shifting her sales pitch from focusing on her experience to focusing on her track record of change. Tuesday in Michigan, we saw this pattern emerge again, with a victory by Mitt Romney who emphasized economic issues to illustrate his message that "Washington is broken." (READ MORE)

Bill Thomas & Alex M. Hill: No Stimulus Gimmicks, Please - Washington is abuzz these days with calls for economic stimulus. The presidential candidates are eager to "rescue" voters, and the administration doesn't want its final chapter to end on a sour note. The current tax code -- designed to discourage capital accumulation and projected to collect rising levels of revenue in increasingly complex and distortionary ways -- does need serious reform. (READ MORE)

Christopher Hitchens: The Perils of Identity Politics - Let us give hearty thanks and credit to Rudy Giuliani, who has never by word or gesture implied that we would fracture any kind of "ceiling" if we elected as chief executive a man whose surname ends in a vowel. Yet actually, it would be unprecedented if someone of Italian descent became the president of the United States and there was a time -- not long ago at that -- when the very idea would have aroused considerable passion. (READ MORE)

Mary E. Peters: Gas Taxes Are High Enough - Anyone who drives on the highways knows we have a serious and growing traffic problem. This problem has grown from a nuisance to a major economic, environmental and energy threat that costs the country over $78 billion each year in lost time and wasted fuel. Traffic is just as bad in areas that have low gas taxes as it is in areas that have high gas taxes. And roads are just as jammed in areas that spend a lot on transportation as they are in areas that spend a little. (READ MORE)

Kimberly A. Strassel: Huckabee and the Values Vote - TIGERVILLE, S.C. -- This should be home for Mike Huckabee. North Greenville University is a Baptist-affiliated school ("Where Christ Makes the Difference") and its students have turned out to see the upstart Republican make his presidential pitch. Toby Keith's "How Do You Like Me Now?" is blaring from the speakers, and there's a boisterous mood in the dining hall. (READ MORE)

A Newty One: Global Cultural Jihad - Thou shalt NOT criticize Islam! Thou SHALT criticize Christianity and you WILL like it or some Islamic scum sucking sheethead is going to cut your damn head off. HT to Yid With Lid via WND, we have a story - one of many - where Global Jihad, Global Islam, Global Cultural Jihad, Global Caliphate is coming to YOUR home neighborhood and if you DARE "whine" about it, expect law suits and other such whale dung. You, as an American, do NOT have Freedom Of Speech. You have the freedom to accept the murderous teachings of Islam or off with your head. (READ MORE)

A Soldier's Mind: A Legacy Of Giving Back - It is often said that a person’s character is evidenced by their actions. The actions that they take, regardless of who is watching. Not because they have to, but because, by their very nature, they feel the need to help out other people. Some people live their entire lives thinking of others and what they can do to help them, what they can do to make the lives of other people, easier. By doing so, they leave behind them a legacy of giving and doing for others, even after they pass on. One Soldier who served with D Company, 1-503 Infantry, 173rd Airborne left behind him a legacy of giving back, when he was killed in Afghanistan on December 12th. SSG Michael Gabel who died of wounds received in combat in Afghanistan, left a legacy behind him that will continue on, when he donated more than $20,000 of his life insurance to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team’s rear detachment. (READ MORE)

Richard Landes: “So What if Al Durah was Staged?”: Meditations on the Colonization of the Israeli Mind - I recently gave a talk at a conference on Media and Ethics in Jerusalem, where I presented the case against Enderlin’s version of the Muhammad al Durah story. Apparently, the presentation was relatively convincing since one of the first criticisms I immediately received from a prominent Israeli professor of communications was: “So what? According to reliable statistics, the Israeli army has killed over 800 Palestinian children since the second Intifada. So what difference does it make if this case is staged or not?” His intervention was followed by a round of applause from about a third of the 200-some person audience. The remark should not have surprised me. (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Chris Matthews Gets Hard Balled - Chris Matthews is supposed to be this rabid commentator who plays hardball. He interrupts, raises his voice, and challenges those on his show. However, Matthews was hard balled recently for some comments he made regarding Hillary Clinton. Matthews should know that it is against the rules of the media to say anything negative about she who would be Queen. The Clintons have enjoyed a media blackout on all the bad things they have done and their illegal activities were either under reported or ignored. Those that were mentioned were never investigated with the zeal of a Woodward and Bernstein in pursuit of Nixon. That can't happen and despite Bill Clinton's claim that Obama gets better press coverage, the media is ignoring Clinton's past. As an aside, perhaps Obama gets better coverage (if he does) because he allows the media in and Hillary does not. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: The riddle of the sands - Michele Dunne at Harvard looks at Bush's brief stop in Egypt, where "Bush seemed to try to compensate for the shortness of his stop with the fullness of his public statement, a virtual tour d’horizon of the U.S.-Egyptian relationship." One of her commenters, former US Ambassador to Egypt Dan Kurtzer rhetorically asks, "Is Egypt still “worth the money?” This requires a more thoughtful discussion than a few lines of comment, but the short answer for now is 'yes.'" The more interesting question is why. (READ MORE)

Blue Crab Boulevard: Full Metal Straitjacket - Ralph Peters savages the New York Times' "investigative report" that attempted to smear all returning troops as psychos just waiting for a chance to kill. (I posted about that slime job here.) Peters says that the Times is trying to place a leper's bell on returning veterans. If you don't know what a leper's bell is, this will explain the term.) “The purpose of Sunday's instantly notorious feature ‘alerting’ the American people that our Iraq and Afghanistan vets are all potential murderers when they move in next door was to mark those defenders of freedom as ‘unclean’ - as the new lepers who can't be trusted amid uninfected Americans.” (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Blindsided By National Security? - I receive promotional e-mails from other blogs by the score, most of which I just cannot use, although I do try to read it all. One this morning caught my eye, a message promoting a Tom Edsall essay at the Huffington Post. Both the e-mail and the essay wonder whether Republicans will "blindside" the Democrats on terrorism and national security in the general election: "While many Democratic strategists are confident that the deteriorating economy virtually assures the victory of their presidential candidate on November 4, there is a quiet debate over whether the party and prospective nominee are likely to get blindsided by Republicans raising issues of terrorism and national security." (READ MORE)

Matthew Levitt: GAO Misleads on Iran Sanctions - In a piece I wrote for the Middle East Strategy at Harvard (MESH), I argue that the recent GAO report on Iran sanctions misses the point: There are no foolproof metrics by which to measure the impact of sanctions, whether related to proliferation, terrorism or other issues. On that discreet point the recent GAO report on the impact of Iran sanctions gets it right, and its recommendation that more be done to assess the impact of sanctions is constructive. Given the nature of the targets in question (terrorist networks, rogue regimes), assessing the impact of sanctions will never be easy. Open source financial data isn’t enough. Intelligence is needed to isolate the impact of each specific sanction. The effect of sanctions is often felt over an extended period of time, making the impact of any particular sanction difficult to isolate from the impact of other efforts aimed at the same targets over the same (or overlapping) periods of time. (READ MORE)

Christopher Hitchens: The Case Against Hillary Clinton - Seeing the name Hillary in a headline last week—a headline about a life that had involved real achievement—I felt a mouse stirring in the attic of my memory. Eventually, I was able to recall how the two Hillarys had once been mentionable in the same breath. On a first-lady goodwill tour of Asia in April 1995—the kind of banal trip that she now claims as part of her foreign-policy "experience"—Mrs. Clinton had been in Nepal and been briefly introduced to the late Sir Edmund Hillary, conqueror of Mount Everest. (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Iraq timetable - American Army’s “troop withdrawal” plan: Come home victorious. Alas, most Americans don’t care. Ah, those caissons keep rolling along. The Army is preparing to bring home more troops in the coming months including 3-star general Ray Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, who goes home to Fort Hood next month. Turning security over to Iraq is going according to schedule — in fact a little ahead of schedule. “What we don’t want to do is suddenly pull out a whole bunch of U.S. forces and suddenly turn things over to … the Iraqi security forces,” (READ MORE)

Flopping Aces: Imagery In Islam - We are bombarded daily by imagery and visual representations. In a literate society, images form a reinforcement to the written word and illustrate concepts. However, in societies with low literacy or which employ foreign languages in concepts, images are paramount. This is the case with Islamic imagery. Most Islamic followers do not speak Arabic, yet the Koran, Sira, Sura, and Hadiths are all written in a certain Arabic dialect. Translations are considered, by apologists and certain Islamic clerics, to take away from the Arabic “pureness” and are considered “inferior”. Many Islamic followers also hail from areas where literacy in general is low and literacy in Arabic is nonexistent. Thus, imagery flows through Islamic organizations as a means to identify and separate themselves. (READ MORE)

Bryan Preston: Military says 75% of Baghdad neighborhoods are now secure - Astonishing. "About 75% of Baghdad’s neighborhoods are now secure, a dramatic increase from 8% a year ago when President Bush ordered more troops to the capital, U.S. military figures show. The military classifies 356 of Baghdad’s 474 neighborhoods in the ‘control’ or ‘retain’ category of its four-tier security rating system, meaning enemy activity in those areas has been mostly eliminated and normal economic activity is resuming.” (READ MORE)

Iowahawk: Bylines of Brutality - A Denver newspaper columnist is arrested for stalking a story subject. In Cincinnati, a television reporter is arrested on charges of child molestation. A North Carolina newspaper reporter is arrested for harassing a local woman. A drunken Chicago Sun-Times columnist and editorial board member is arrested for wife beating. A Baltimore newspaper editor is arrested for threatening neighbors with a shotgun. In Florida, one TV reporter is arrested for DUI, while another is charged with carrying a gun into a high school. A Philadelphia news anchorwoman goes on a violent drunken rampage, assaulting a police officer. In England, a newspaper columnist is arrested for killing her elderly aunt. Unrelated incidents, or mounting evidence of that America's newsrooms have become a breeding ground for murderous, drunk, gun-wielding child molesters? (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Al Qaeda in Iraq's shrinking area of operations - Nearly one year to the day of the announcement of the "surge" of US forces to Iraq and the change in counterinsurgency plan, Iraqi and Coalition forces have shrunk al Qaeda's ability to conduct operations inside Iraq, a senior US commander said. During a press briefing in Baghdad, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, the Commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, said al Qaeda in Iraq has been ejected from its strongholds in the cities to the rural regions of Iraq. From late 2006 into 2007, "Iraq was caught in a cycle of bloodshed under the dark cloud of al Qaeda," said Odierno. Al Qaeda was "entrenched in numerous urban safe havens across Iraq" until the surge forces launched Operation Phantom Thunder in June 2007. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Popping the Question with Iran - JFK School Kumbayah chorus leader weighs in on Iran. Samantha Power sees American arrogance, saber-rattling as a problem, especially since Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been revealed as another Bush lie. No mention of Iran arrogance, saber-rattling, etc., and this essay suffers from other flaws in facts, perspective. But Power may be onto something when she counsels engagement with Iran. (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: “People don’t say what they mean” - Barack Obama isn’t fit to be president, but you have to admit, it has been rather enjoyable watching him make the Clintons seethe and squirm. Billy Boy can’t keep his “purple fits” in check. And now, Obama is openly mocking the forked tongue of Hillary Clinton. We’ve been saying it for years. Glad to hear a Democrat saying it, no? Barack Obama has stepped up his campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton, and he’s trying to use humor to bring her down before this weekend’s Democratic presidential caucus. (READ MORE)

Patterico: What Do Hillary and I Have in Common? - What do Hillary and I have in common? We were both in Compton yesterday. I was doing a trial at the Compton Courthouse, while Hillary was giving a campaign speech at the Citizens of Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 2 1/2 miles away. I wish I could have gone to watch her speech. I would love to have seen whether she used her accent that she uses to talk to black folks, like she did here: And here: I rather suspect she did, given this line from her Compton speech: (READ MORE)

Dale Franks: Morally Innocent? - I probably shouldn’t do this. But, sometimes, I just can’t help myself, because certain things get up my nose. And one of those things is that so many of the ACs who’ve kited in here over the last few weeks haven’t just been sympathetic to Steven Rhett, the man I voted to convict on drug importation charges; some of them have been positively glowing in their admiration of this "peaceful trader" who is a "hero of capitalism". Most commonly they’ve referred to him as "morally innocent". Now, you know, that’s an interesting term. It’s interesting in a couple of ways. First, it’s interesting because usually someone is morally innocent because they did not perform an overt act. An innocent person is usually caught up in circumstances beyond their control. They do not contribute to their own difficulty. (READ MORE)

Ray Robison: South Carolina is the first Republican bellwether - In many ways, South Carolina has the future of the Republican Party in its’ hands. Up until now, the Republican primaries have only flirted with defining what the Republican Party wants. Independents in New Hampshire helped push McCain to victory in a small state with little Republican presence. Michigan rescued Romney and was the most populace stage for a Republican primary yet. However, even that win comes with an asterisk in a largely Democrat state with a fair share of activists who were urged to muddle with the Republican primary by fringe left leaders. But his margin of victory should be enough to validate the win. Iowa has probably been the truest test so far but even there the state is trending Democrat. The real indication of who Republicans think should be the next president will be in South Carolina. (READ MORE)

Jeff Emanuel: To the Professionally Offended, there *is* no Right Answer - Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio (yes, the same one that sued the state over its "Choose Life" license plates, citing "viewpoint discrimination" against pro-choicers) filed a lawsuit to prevent Cuyahoga County (the state's largest county, and home to Cleveland and its surrounding communities) from switching its voting apparati from touch-screen machines to what the ACLU believes represents "unequal, inaccurate and inadequate voting technology." The new method of voting, which the ACLU -- one of the most "professionally offended" organizations in the nation -- finds so, well, offensive? The Paper Ballot. (READ MORE)

Donald Sensing: The Pill and the economics of marriage - Economics may be understood not just as the study of how money flows, but more broadly, how value is exchanged. Because value is found in things other than the coin of the realm, economic theories can be used to assess how those things work. Human relationships is one example. Courtship and marriage are two human relationships that lend themselves to economic analysis. Obviously, money plays a large role in both, but things other than value are exchanged, too. Moreover, the wedding ceremony (in the West, anyway) is heavily encrusted with legal, contractual language of obligations undertaken in exchange for promises made. (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: It's the Mind - Psychoanalysts have long known that the feelings and ideas that animate our defenses are unconscious and often rather simple. I love that person, I hate that person; I want to have sex with that person, I want to kill that person. The complexity arises from the specific relationships, the interplay of reality and our desires, our conflicted feelings (when we love and hate the same person at the same time, for example), and the various ways in which we hide the most unpleasant and conflicted thoughts and feelings from ourselves. The layers of complexity and the interplay between reality, our drives, defenses, wishes, etc all eventuate in our manifest behavior. Once the unconscious decision, the summation of our multiple determinants, has been executed, our minds find good, logical, consistent, and coherent explanations for the behavior. Even the most problematic behavior can be explained ex post facto. Decisions in the political arena are no more based on rationality than in our personal lives. (READ MORE)

Steve Schippert: A Flip of the COIN - Defense Secretary Robert Gates voiced candid concern regarding the counterinsurgency (COIN) capabilities and tactics being employed by NATO forces currently in Afghanistan. And while it appears to have ruffled the feathers of some NATO allies the wrong way, Secretary Gates was correct in what he said and also correct in the decision to voice the concerns. In Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times, the Pentagon chief said, “I’m worried we’re deploying [military advisors] that are not properly trained and I’m worried we have some military forces that don’t know how to do counterinsurgency operations.” He has good cause to be worried. And regardless of the angry reactions and dented pride of some NATO leaders, denial will not address the problem. (READ MORE)

Have an interesting post or know of a "must read?" Then send a trackback here and let us all know about it. Or you can send me an email with a link to the post and I'll update the Recon.

No comments: