February 8, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 02/08/2008

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)
Iranian Nuclear Rewrite - Give Admiral Michael McConnell credit for trying to walk back the cat. Questioned this week by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Director of National Intelligence defended the "integrity and the professionalism" of the process that produced last December's stunning National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran's nuclear program. Yet his testimony amounts to a reversal of the previous judgment. (READ MORE)

Romney Bows Out - Mitt Romney dropped out of the Presidential race yesterday, telling a packed room at a conservative conference in Washington, "Because I love America, I feel I now need to stand aside." The former Massachusetts Governor stopped short of endorsing his chief rival, John McCain. But he made the case that it was time for the Republican Party to unify behind one candidate ... (READ MORE)

Stimulus Games - So much for "postpartisan" Beltway harmony. Remocrats and Depublicans were supposed to be making beautiful music together on economic "stimulus," but Senate Democrats apparently didn't get the song sheet. They spent most of this week assailing Republicans for refusing to spend even more than House Democrats want to spend -- solely with a goal of picking up more Senate seats next year. (READ MORE)

Romney Out, McCain Looks Ahead - Sen. John McCain effectively sealed the Republican presidential nomination yesterday when former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney abruptly left the race. The senator from Arizona immediately turned his attention to repairing relations with disgruntled conservatives and to opening the general... (READ MORE)

Justice Dept. 'Cannot' Probe Waterboarding, Mukasey Says - The attorney general yesterday rejected growing congressional calls for a criminal investigation of the CIA's use of simulated drownings to extract information from its detainees, as Vice President Cheney called it a "good thing" that the CIA was able to learn what it did from those subjected to the... (READ MORE)

Airport Security Technology Stuck In the Pipeline - In the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, government officials and industry leaders talked excitedly about how they expected technology to plug many of the gaps in airport security. (READ MORE)

Aid Groups Work to Avert Disaster Among Chadians in Cameroon - JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 7 -- The United Nations and aid groups raced Thursday to head off mass hunger and an outbreak of disease among tens of thousands of refugees from Chad who have pushed west across the border into Cameroon. (READ MORE)

Shift in Tactics Aims to Revive Struggling Insurgency - BAGHDAD -- The Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq is telling its followers to soften their tactics in order to regain popular support in the western province of Anbar, where Sunni tribes have turned against the organization and begun working with U.S. forces, according to group leaders and American intelligence officials. (READ MORE)

Israel to Intensify Strikes If Rocket Fire Continues - JERUSALEM, Feb. 7 -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak threatened Thursday to intensify military operations in the Gaza Strip if fighters continue using the Palestinian territory for rocket attacks on southern Israel. Earlier in the day, Israeli troops supported by tanks, artillery and fighter jets raided Gaza, killing six Palestinian gunmen, according to Palestinian and news service accounts. (READ MORE)

Hillary Still in Bed with '96 Scandal - Nearly one in five "HillRaisers," the elite big-money fundraisers for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign, have ties to the 1990s fundraising scandal that tarnished her husband's presidency by offering Democratic donors sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom and other perks inside the White House. (READ MORE)

Huckabee On Track to Play the Spoiler - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is a tremendous long shot for winning the Republican presidential nomination, but he has the potential to undermine Sen. John McCain's general election prospects, as Pat Buchanan did to President George H.W. Bush in 1992. (READ MORE)

Anglican Head Backs Some Islamic Rules - The archbishop of Canterbury called for applying Islamic Shariah law in Britain in certain instances, saying its use there "seems unavoidable" and may help maintain social order. (READ MORE)

U.S. Foes Target Latin America - Iran, Cuba and Venezuela are working together against the U.S. by undermining democracy in Latin America, allowing trafficking of illegal drugs and creating safe havens for extremist groups, intelligence officials said. (READ MORE)

House Democrats Refuse to Ban Pork - House Democrats yesterday rejected a Republican bid to halt pork-barrel spending and set up a panel to write more earmark reform measures. Republicans, eager to reclaim the party's reputation for fiscal responsibility and turn the pork-spending issue against Democrats, used a procedural move to force the vote on the earmark-reform bill. (READ MORE)

From the Front:
all expenses paid afghan vacation: a cold day - We’ve had snow on the mountains around us since early December now, yet it either there hasn’t been enough cold or precipitation to see snow at our level. That all changed a couple days ago on a cold and rainy morning, with freezing rain slowly turning to huge snowflakes the size of silver dollar. While it was short lived, the snow only stuck on the ground for a few hours till the afternoon, it was still quite a sight for all of us…considering we’re from Arizona and how hot it felt here in the summer. Baghdad had some light snow too for the first time in like 75 years or something, what happened to global warming? (READ MORE)

Babylon & Beyond: The art of political persuasion - Lobbying the government for money to build local projects sometimes takes on a disreputable air in America. But in Iraq, it is precisely the kind of skill that U.S. officials think local officials, tribal sheiks, teachers, contractors and others need. So the U.S. Agency for International Development, with support from the Marines, is funding a class here near the border with Syria. Among the topics being taught to three dozen Iraqi students: How to gather your facts, figures, cost estimates, construction timelines and other information to convince the provincial government in Ramadi and the central government in Baghdad of the region's needs. (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Meet the press - It's rare as a reporter to find myself the subject of a story rather than the one writing it. Camp Vulcan's journalist population has tripled in recent days. Reporter Jim Landers and photographer Erich Schlegel of The Dallas Morning News have been embedded with us for the past few days and will be for a few more. Jim is blogging about his time here "With the Troops" which you can read by clicking here. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: All Dressed Up with Nobody to Kill - WaPo takes up where USAT left off yesterday, with a story about the loneliness of the AQI terrorist. The Post's reporter says indeed AQI is trying hard to win back Sunnis in Iraq. But, he says, "Reclaiming the support of local Sunnis may prove to be a significant challenge for al-Qaeda in Iraq." The story is based on an AQI internal communique, which was intercepted by the U.S. military. The leader, or emir, says that his fighters should focus on killing U.S. and Iraqi soldiers, CLCs and cut back on the civilian murders. (READ MORE)

Jason's Iraq Vacation: Stay Tuned - "For who? For what?" No, this isn't Ricky Watters after the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Bucs in '95. It was me, after the latest episode of "but, Life's Not Fair!" In that episode, I learned that despite being about 40 days from going home, I am being reassigned to the IZ! Apparently, my superhuman bitterness had not prevented people from thinking highly of me because I was supposedly requested by name. Go ahead and laugh - I did. (READ MORE)

Fearless 1st Marines’ blog: ‘Football’ dreams come true for Iraqis thanks to Operation Ultimate Goal - HABBANIYAH, Iraq (Feb. 5, 2008) – No longer worried about insurgents and improvised explosive devices, children at a local school here battled it out during a soccer game held at their school yard Feb. 3, wearing uniforms donated by various organizations from the United States through Operation Ultimate Goal. Operation Ultimate Goal is an organization put together through a few Marines from 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1. (READ MORE)

With The Troops BLOG: Car bomb - FORWARD OPERATING BASE VULCAN, Ghazni, Afghanistan -- An Afghan soldier and a civilian were killed this afternoon when an apparent Taliban suicide bomber blew up a car in front of an Afghan Army pick-up truck 200 yards from the gate of this military camp. Five other Afghan soldiers were wounded. The blast rocked this base and threw a hammer-shaped white cloud high into the sky. It was the first suicide bombing inside the city of Ghazni that any of the 35 American soldiers here could remember. (READ MORE)

Iraq: The Purgatorium: Flight Of The Valkyries - Oh-Dark-Fuck-Me-Rotten and we throw our gear on. I'd spent the previous night preparing. "Suspect, here ya go, we're supposed to carry these," says our resident New Guy. He hands me a frag grenade, a flashbang grenade, a smoke grenade, and a star cluster thing. They've never given me grenades before. Ah SHIT, what's this all about? Fuck, this is going to be some kind of crazy-ass hardcore mission or something isn't it? The Last Bastion Of Anti-American Bastards in a crazy Alamo fight, with every type of ordnance and dirty tactic in the book, ten foot tall desert warriors, complete devastation and total annihilation. Why the hell are they putting me back on the ground NOW? I'm SHORT! I go on leave real fuckin' soon! What kind of fucked up God would let me get hit right before leave?! (READ MORE)

Acute Politics: One Year - We turn 101 years old today. As I write this, it is one year almost to the minute from the event that would age us all more than any other. It was a hard week for our battalion- we had just remembered CPL Steve Shannon, who had been killed the night of January 31st. Then this morning, a year ago, we lost 3 good men to the biggest bomb anyone in our Task Force would have the misfortune to encounter. To Mel, Dave, Brandi, families of Ross, Jim and Ray- we remember. We could never forget. (READ MORE)

Badgers Forward: Badgers Down: One Year Later - Today in Idaho people will gather to remember our brothers-in-arms, Sergeant James Holtom, Sergeant Ross Clevenger, and Private First Class Raymond Werner, who died on that road in Karma, Iraq a year ago. Although I remain in Iraq, I am with them in spirit. Here is what I wrote about that day. My fellow Blogger and Badger, the Teflon Don at Acute Politics, wrote this. Recently I read Day of Battle; the epilogue contained this passage: (READ MORE)

CJR: Up Close With the Counterinsurgency - Last week, the news from Iraq was grim. Five U.S. soldiers were killed near Mosul, two female suicide bombers killed scores of civilians in Baghdad, and leaders of the Concerned Local Civilians—Iraqis who are paid $300 a month by American forces to police their own neighborhoods—were targeted by Al Qaeda and indigenous insurgent groups. But there was a lot more going on in Iraq that never registered on the U.S. press’s radar; (READ MORE)

Bill Ardolino: Inside Iraqi politics – Part 2. A look at executive branch progress - The Government of Iraq’s executive branch has several goals central to maintaining security gains and achieving sectarian reconciliation: effective hiring and management of the highly publicized Concerned Local Citizens (CLCs), the auxiliary security forces greatly responsible for the significant reduction in violence; the delivery of reconstruction resources, including basic services, to Baghdad and the provinces; and the creation of jobs and economic opportunity for average Iraqis. The Concerned Local Citizens and the IFCNR: (READ MORE)

Andrew Lubin: Super Bowl Sunday in Ramadi - JSS Sacatash: Last year this building was known as the 17th Street Security Station, but last January Ramadi was a different city. The building’s name in Arabic reflects the new situation; these days the Marines provide “presence patrols”, “sweat patrols” and managerial advice to their district councils while the IA’s handle the vast majority of the security. The system works; there has not been a shot fired in anger in Ramadi in some 255 days. We stepped out with a Marine ‘presence patrol’ on Sunday morning. Led by Sgt Michael Mulherr (Medford, NJ), the mission was simply to maintain a boots on the ground presence; to see and be seen by the locals. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Pat Toomey: McCain's Veep Options - While congratulations are still premature, with Mitt Romney dropping out of the race yesterday it is now very likely that the Republican Party will nominate Sen. John McCain for president. If that happens, the GOP will, for the first time since 1976, select a candidate at odds with a large portion of its conservative members to be the standard bearer. At the same time, the party is more estranged from independent swing voters than it has been for decades. (READ MORE)

Victoria C. Bunce and J.P. Wieske: Mandate Update - To hear some of the presidential candidates, you'd think that health-insurance companies are the driving force behind the growing cost of health insurance. The more likely culprits are our politicians and the laws they pass. Since the early 1990s, the Council for Affordable Health Insurance (CAHI) has tracked state health-insurance mandate legislation in all 50 states, and our actuarial team estimates the impact of those mandated benefits on the cost of a policy. (READ MORE)

Roger Clegg: Equal Rights Nonsense - Now that the excitement of Super Tuesday has passed, we should remember the kinds of policies and principles at stake, Exhibit A: three pieces of legislation pending in Congress that would dramatically increase the liability of private companies for alleged acts of employment discrimination. The first would resurrect the discredited idea of "comparable worth." The second would add various sexual orientations to the classifications protected from employment discrimination. (READ MORE)

Nicole Gelinas: The Rise of the Mortgage 'Walkers' - Fitch Ratings, while telling investors last Friday to expect additional "widespread and significant downgrades" on $139 billion worth of subprime loans, has cited a new factor in their "worsening performance." "The apparent willingness of borrowers to 'walk away' from mortgage debt," the analysts noted, "has contributed to extraordinary high levels of early default" on loans issued during the 18 months before the mortgage bubble burst. (READ MORE)

Peggy Noonan: Can Mrs. Clinton Lose? - If Hillary Clinton loses, does she know how to lose? What will that be, if she loses? Will she just say, "I concede" and go on vacation at a friend's house on an island, and then go back to the Senate and wait? Is it possible she could be so normal? Politicians lose battles, it's part of what they do, win and lose. But she does not know how to lose. Can she lose with grace? But she does grace the way George W. Bush does nuance. (READ MORE)

Kimberly A. Strassel: Divided They Run - Give the media credit for getting the political story line right this election. Now if only they'd applied it to the correct party. Division, disunity, the potential end of an era -- these were the watchwords for the GOP in 2008. The election was supposed to break the Republican Party, maybe even bring an end to the Reagan coalition. Mitt Romney's withdrawal yesterday instead ends a spirited GOP debate. John McCain faces a big challenge unifying and rallying his base, but his Super Tuesday wins show he's making some progress. (READ MORE)

Michael Franc: The Other State of the Union - His State of the Union address began with a focus on our government’s foremost responsibility -- national security. This, the first of many bold policy proposals, would reverse the debilitating effects of the generation-long “procurement holiday” that has plagued our military since we prevailed over Soviet Communism in 1991. The solution: make it the stated policy of the U.S. Congress to adequately fund the “weapons systems, the armament, and the number of troops that we need to secure the nation.” That translates into committing no less than 4% of our gross domestic product each and every year on what Pentagon experts refer to as the “base” defense budget. (READ MORE)

Paul Greenberg: Down With Polls - It's a snap commenting on yesterday's elections the morning after. The hard part is saying something about the elections before the results are in, which is when this column is being written. And my crystal ball is in the shop, dangit. The late not-so-great Westbrook Pegler started out as a talented sportswriter and engaging political commentator back in the last century, but wound up a sodden right-wing crank. He once confessed that, contrary to popular belief, it wasn't his hatred of Eleanor Roosevelt that had driven him bonkers. It was having to write on Monday and not being published till Friday in those slow-motion, Via Air Mail days. (READ MORE)

Paul Greenberg: The Debates: A Preview of the Campaign Ahead - Memo to the nation: We really do need a better schedule of presidential primaries, one that tests the candidates over time, not in just a series of uncoordinated jump starts that could settle both parties’ nominations almost a year before their nominating conventions. A staggered system of regional primaries would be a big improvement; so would a system that lets smaller states go first, followed by the larger prizes later. With a schedule of primaries like this year’s, there may be time for the candidates to strategize, but not to think. The current hodgepodge of primaries prompts people to pick a candidate to root for (Americans love sporting events) but it leaves people little time to ponder their choice. (READ MORE)

Diana West: Obama Skirts the 'L' Word - Something went by in a blur on the road to Super Tuesday. The National Journal ranked Sen. Barack Obama the No. 1 liberal U.S. senator of 2007. Sen. Hillary Clinton came in somewhat less left-wing at No. 16. Horrors. According to his press notices, Obama isn't supposed to be any kind of a liberal at all -- let alone "Number One" -- but rather the great non-partisan hand-holder and country re-maker. As in: "We (have to) decide to join hands and remake this country." (My response: Why? It's pretty well-made already.) Turns out he's not so non-partisan after all, at least not according to the, well, non-partisan criteria first devised by the National Journal back in 1981. (READ MORE)

Oliver North: Women and Children First - WASHINGTON -- When it sailed from Simon's Bay near Cape Town, South Africa, on Feb. 25, 1852, under the command of Capt. Robert Salmond, the British paddle wheel frigate HMS Birkenhead was loaded with more than 640 men, women and children. Mostly, however, the passengers were British soldiers, their horses and ammunition. Their destination was Algoa Bay, South Africa, as reinforcements for Sir Harry Smith in the eighth campaign of the Kaffir War. Several hours after sailing, the Birkenhead struck a rock at Danger Point in the dead of night and was instantly in distress. While many of the military men sleeping below decks drowned immediately, others who reached the main deck were told to maintain order and discipline. (READ MORE)

Charles Krauthammer: The Sheriff Comes to Town - WASHINGTON -- On Super Tuesday, John McCain secured the Republican nomination. How did that happen? Simple. In the absence of a compelling conservative, the Republican electorate turned to the apostate sheriff. In the beginning, there were two. There was America's mayor, Rudy Giuliani, determined to "go on offense." And there was America's maverick, John McCain, scourge of Iraq wobblies. Both aroused deep suspicions among conservatives. Giuliani's major apostasy is being pro-choice on abortion. McCain's apostasies are too numerous to count. (READ MORE)

Linda Chavez: Time to Unite - The bitter squabbling on the right over the presidential nomination has now entered a dangerous phase. Politics is about winning elections, not winning prizes for ideological purity. Do the conservatives who consider John McCain an apostate really believe their cause will be better served by having Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the White House? Because their truculence at the point when Republicans should be uniting is almost guaranteed to produce that result. To his credit, Mitt Romney was not willing to make that gamble. "I cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror," Romney told a group of conservatives at the CPAC conference on Thursday. (READ MORE)

John Hawkins: There's Nothing Conservative Or Principled About Helping A Democrat Beat John McCain In November - "(Don't let) the perfect (be) the enemy of the good." -- Voltaire I keep hearing conservatives say that if John McCain is the nominee -- and barring a miracle, he will be at this point -- that they're going to sit out the election or even vote for the Democratic nominee because of "conservative principles." As one conservative -- and not as a "John McCain conservative," but as a "I supported Duncan Hunter and Fred Thompson, oppose amnesty and abortion, fought to get Samuel Alito instead of Harriet Miers, believe in small government, term limits, tax cuts, and balancing the budget" conservative -- to another, let me tell you that I very respectfully, but also very strongly disagree with that definition of "conservative principles." (READ MORE)

A Soldier's Mind: Army Hospitals Continue Caring For Kids In The War-Zone - I found this article very interesting, because I know how hard our Troops try to do what they can to help the children of Afghanistan and Iraq. Throughout the history of American forces in combat, there’s always been the inclination for the Troops to go out of their way to take care of and protect the innocent… the children. I’ve seen countless photos of our Soldiers holding an injured child in their arms, with tears running down their faces. (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: Cause and Effect Still Mystery To Media - Israel continues to battle with Palestinian terrorists who wage war against Israel. The New York Times proffers the following: “Two brothers, one belonging to Islamic Jihad and one the military wing of Hamas, were killed in clashes with Israeli ground forces, and four more Hamas members were killed in Israeli air strikes, according to Hamas and medical officials in Gaza.” (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: On speech codes - It's now possible to commit a crime by simply holding an inappropriate attitude. "Prominent scientist David Suzuki says that people should look for a way to hold politicians who ignore climate change science legally responsible, according to the National Post". His spokesman later said "the call for imprisonment was not meant to be taken literally, Dr. Suzuki reportedly made similar remarks in an address at the University of Toronto last month." By slow degrees we are told what we must say and must not say. (READ MORE)

Dafydd: Give a Big Hand to Mitt! - I was just saying yesterday to Friend Lee that, since it was inevitable (for all practical purposes) that John McCain was to be the Republican nominee, I sincerely hoped that both Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee would bow out of the race ASAP... so that we could have months and months of a presumptive GOP nominee spending all his time and money bashing the Democrats -- while the two punch-drunk Democratic candidates spend those same months bashing each other. (READ MORE)

Grim @ Blackfive: COIN and CJR - The Columbia Journalism Review is the flagship of the Columbia School of Journalism, which may be the most important producer of card-carrying journalists in the world. CJR itself tries to serve as a "watchdog" for the journalist community, to uphold what they see as best traditions of their trade. I mention this today because they have done something remarkable: dispatched one of their writers to embed in Iraq. More, he's going out and living at patrol bases, not just sticking around Baghdad. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: Disagreement Between Mullen and McNeill - In U.S. Intelligence Failures: Dual Taliban Campaigns, I reported on the disparity between Major General Rodriguez and open source information concerning the split in the Taliban, and the resultant focus on two fronts this spring - one in Afghanistan and the other in Pakistan. The poor intelligence analysis didn’t stop here. In The Afghanistan Narrative I reported on the disparate views within not only NATO, but also the Pentagon, as to the state of the insurgency and counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan. I followed this up with World in Disarray - Lack of Strategies in which I pointed out more public and vocal disagreements (up to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates) concerning the state of the campaign in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Dr. Sanity: The Real Agenda of the Fascist Environmentalists - Now we come to the real agenda of the environmentalists (via Jonah Goldberg): “Liberal democracy is sweet and addictive and indeed in the most extreme case, the USA, unbridled individual liberty overwhelms many of the collective needs of the citizens. The subject is almost sacrosanct and those who indulge in criticism are labeled as Marxists, socialists, fundamentalists and worse. These labels are used because alternatives to democracy cannot be perceived! Support for Western democracy is messianic as proselytised by a President leading a flawed democracy…” (READ MORE)

Don Surber: The price of AnybodybutMcCain-Feingold - Sitting out in November will cost more than control of the Supreme Court for the next 30 years. Radio yakker Hugh Hewitt gave 7 reasons for voting for McCain: “The war and six Supreme Court justices over the age of 68.” Mark Tapscott gave another reason: Fiscal restraint. It is worth noting that McCain was introduced at CPAC by Tom Coburn, the top battler against pork spending. Roger Clegg, president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, gave a few more reasons: The Fair Pay Act (co-sponsored by Obama) and the Paycheck Fairness Act (Mrs. Clinton’s plan). (READ MORE)

Baron Bodissey: The Archdhimmi Speaks Out - As a reluctant member of the Anglican Soviet Communion, I’ve been embarrassed more than once by the leaders of the hierarchy. The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, and the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, have given me ample reason over the last few years to wince and turn my head away. If it weren’t for the muscular evangelical version of Christianity that prevails in Africa and Asia, there would be no hope left for Anglicanism. But Dr. Williams has hit a new low today. He has, in effect, announced the full dhimmitude of the Church of England: (READ MORE)

IMAO: The Future of the Republicans - What now for the Republican Party? It's been in a downward spiral for some time, but it never has seemed to hit rock bottom... at least not enough to try and do any better. Now we can't even get a conservative elected in a Republican primary; can it get much worse? I guess the Republicans are like a self-destructive alcoholic, and the Democrats are enablers by sucking so badly that the Republicans don't have to strive to be any better. Now, a party that is an abusive drunk would actually be kinda cool if it took out all its inebriated rage on foreign countries, but the Republican Party is more of a quiet drunk, sitting in the corner mumbling while wasting all its money on booze. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Balancing Act - Michael Graham at the Natural Truth with some thoughts on what McCain needs to do to win. He’ll need a woman and/or a minority, he needs to bring in a state or two, and he needs someone presidency-ready, or its over. I’d add that he’d better make that someone who appeals the paleo-cons and con-cons of all stripes, or its over. Meanwhile, Vodkapundit takes a sober look at McCain, is afraid he’s a wackjob who shouldn’t be allowed to have his finger on the button, offers up his veep ideas. (READ MORE)

Leather Penguin: Jacques Kerry Plays the “Pay Attention to Me!” Game; Fails Miserably - It’s sad, watching a washed up politician struggle to try draw attention to himself, especially immediately after endorsing a candidate (along with the Swimmer and the Massachusetts governor) who proceeded to lose in his own backyard. That should have been enough for a normal person to understand as being a signal of his personal irrelevency to the commonwealth. But not for our boy Horseface:Sen. Kerry Blames Tornados on Global Warming: (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: The Julie Myers fiasco: It’s not the racism. It’s the stupidity. - Back in November, when the latest Julie Myers fiasco broke out, I said I had no tears for her. She’s the crony DHS head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau whose unpreparedness for the job I’ve spotlighted repeatedly over the years. When word spread about her photo-op at a Halloween party with a politically incorrect employee wearing a prison costume and darkened skin, I noted that however much she might have tried to compensate for her inexperience the last two years, she reinforces the perception (and reality) that the White House still doesn’t take immigration enforcement seriously enough. (READ MORE)

Neptunus Lex: Farewell to all that - The Church of England was a product of the Protestant Reformation, elements of which established the separateness of the secular and religious magisteria. This in turn generated a counter-reformation in the Roman Catholic Church. The creative tension between the two led to an unprecedented eruption of intellectual advances in science, art and humanism culminating in the Renaissance. Secular law had its place in society, with an increasingly liberal social contract developing between the citizen and the state. Religious law more and more became a matter of individual conscience. (READ MORE)

Neal Boortz: So...Did he Say The Right Things? - This for all of you "die-hard Reagan Republicans" out there ... you know, the ones who are acting like you're not going to support John McCain in this year's election .. and who may even sit this one out. By now you should have heard about McCain's speech yesterday before CPAC. Here are just some of the things McCain said he would do: (READ MORE)

Political Vindication: Liberal Myth: Free Speech Means Speech Without Consequences - We’ve heard the Dixie Chicks say it. We’ve heard Hollywood actors wax indignant about it. We’ve heard liberal radio hosts whine about the unfairness of it all. Today brings us another quote from the left that captures the ignorance perfectly: “I was under the impression that we have the right of free speech,” said Xanne Joi of Code Pink. “To me, I thought free speech meant you get to say what you want without recrimination.” This kind of myopic reasoning of freedom is why all of our freedoms are in danger where the left congregate on streets or in political houses across the nation. (READ MORE)

Scott Johnson: The Mandarin and the Empress's New Clothes - Last month AFP reported on remarks by Bush administration special envoy for human rights in North Korea Jay Lefkowitz at an American Enterprise Institute forum (the text of Lefkowitz's remarks is accessible here). Lefkowitz candidly acknowledged the dead end the administration has reached with North Korea. Secretary Rice reacted to Lefkowitz's remarks as though he had asserted that the empress wears no clothes. Rice dressed Lefkowtiz down as a fool who was too benighted to observe the administration's fine new policy threads. In a remarkable postscript, Claudia Rosett discovered that the State Department sent Lefkowitz's speech down the memory hole. In the various reports on Rice's comments on Lefkowitz, however, Rice has cited no fact that belies his observations. (READ MORE)

Kim Zigfeld: Anti-American Doings over at the Daily Kos - My mind is open to persuasion, but right now I disagree with the large majority of Publius Pundit readers who think it would be better for John McCain to face Hillary Clinton in the fall for the presidency. I believe McCain can whip Hillary, but I'd rather see him face Obama. And my reason is really quite simple. The lunatics at the Daily Kos like him. To me, that says he can't be elected, not any more than Howard Dean (who once also seemed like a formidable grass-roots candidate) could be. It says he's an extremist, and I trust the American people to see that. His weird connections through his church to the maniac Louis Farrakhan is the simplest expression of this extremism. (READ MORE)

Paul J Cella: A Challenge - When Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn delivered a brief address to a town hall meeting in Cavendish, Vermont, where he had lived for eighteen years with his family, in exile from Communist Russia, he paid poignant homage to “the sensible and sure process of grassroots democracy, in which the local population solves most of its problems on its own, not waiting for the decisions of higher authorities.” He declared also that, while “exile is always difficult,” he “could not imagine a better place to live, and wait, and wait for my return home,” than that little town. He expressed his gratitude for its respect for his privacy, and spoke warmly of its neighborliness. For his children, “Vermont is home,” for they have grown up “alongside your children.” With a “God bless you all,” the great Russian finished — to a hearty ovation from those snowbound New Englanders. Calm down and Read on. (READ MORE)

ROFASix: The Forgotten Wars - Many call the war in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the rural Pashtun districts of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan the "forgotten war." It is only "forgotten" by the media, since reporters and journalists trying to cover the events those areas have been murdered with impunity. It is clearly not forgotten by US special operations who reportedly have about 100 personnel working with Pakistani forces in the FATA and the rural NWFP. Earlier this week, Pentagon officials briefed ongoing operations, highlighting the reasons the area remains a concern. (READ MORE)

Sister Toldjah: The cult-like worship of Barack Obama - As longtime readers know, I’ve been very critical of Senator Barack Obama at this blog, even before he officially announced his candidacy, only praising him once that I can recall. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the O-man, but I want to make clear that I hold no personal ill-will towards the junior Senator from Illinois. He seems like he’d be a nice guy. I just don’t think he’s fit to be president of the United States, for reasons mentioned in the posts I linked to in this paragraph. He’s too liberal, very inexperienced, and has very, very bad ideas on how to conduct foreign policy. (READ MORE)

The Torch: Liberal policy on Afstan: No logic - The Liberals insist that Canada cease combat activity at Kandahar as of February, 2009. They also maintain that Canada should keep a military presence in Afghanistan (whether still at Kandahar or elsewhere is never made clear). That further presence however could only engage in development, security (whatever that means) and training--anything basically except "pro-active" combat. Not engaging in such combat appears to mean not to take any action before one is actually attacked--even if a Taliban force is forming up to assault Canadians providing security at a village. Nuts. (READ MORE)

Ilya Somin: What's So Great About Unity? - One of Barack Obama's major campaign themes is the promise that he will "unite" America. Obama is an incredibly skillfull campaigner, so I must assume that he wouldn't be pushing this trope unless there were good reason to believe that it works. Of course, Obama is far from the only politician to promise unity. Remember when George W. Bush promised that he would be a "uniter, not a divider"? That was a fairly successful campaign theme too. This emphasis on unity for its own sake seems misplaced. After all, unity is really valuable only if we are united in doing the right thing. (READ MORE)

Wolf Pangloss: The Anti-Slavery Party - The Republican Party was founded by abolitionists who saw that slavery was a great human evil that must be eradicated from the American land. Abraham Lincoln was a moderate when it came to the abolition of slavery. He famously stated he wanted to save the Union whether it required freeing all the slaves or none. The Democratic Party was the party of Andrew Jackson that believed in killing American Indians, conquering Mexican territory, and slavery for blacks, and it fought tooth and nail against the Republican abolitionist movement. After the Civil War ended and Reconstruction began, the Democrats, both Northern and Southern, opposed the Republican passed civil rights laws and amendments, and after repealing what was left of Reconstruction imposed Jim Crow laws in the former slave-holding states. (READ MORE)

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