February 29, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 02/29/2008

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)
Democrats Blaze Trails In February Fundraising - Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama continued to rewrite fundraising records this month, with Clinton announcing yesterday that she had rebounded from a disappointing showing in January to raise $35 million in February, by far her biggest one-month total of the campaign. (READ MORE)

Did 'SNL' Go Beyond the Pale With Fauxbama? - When Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president last year, some observers questioned whether the senator from Illinois was "black enough" to embody the hopes and aspirations of African Americans. (READ MORE)

Kenyan Rivals Sign Power-Sharing Agreement - NAIROBI, Feb. 28 -- Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga signed a power-sharing agreement Thursday to halt ethnic violence that has killed at least 1,000 people and displaced 600,000 in a post-election crisis that has ushered this nation to anarchy's door. (READ MORE)

Dutch Film to Slam Islam - Europe's uneasy relationship with its Muslim minority faces another blow next month, when Dutch politician Geert Wilders releases a 15-minute film that compares Islam to Nazism and communism. (READ MORE)

Banks in Crisis Cut Lines of Credit - Consumers from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., Miami to Detroit are facing unexpected difficulties as banks stung by losses on defaulting second mortgages are shutting off credit lines and turning down home-refinancing applications, citing falling prices. (READ MORE)

Bush Weighs in on '08 Race - President Bush yesterday unloaded his most forceful criticism yet of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama for his promise to meet unconditionally with leaders hostile to the United States. (READ MORE)

High Costs Force Chinese Firms to Move to Cheaper Options - Outsourcing has hit the hub of China's Pearl River Delta, with soaring costs pushing the world's longtime workshop for low-cost goods to move its factories overseas. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Do the Right Thing: War OF Jihad Part 2 - The Islamic Jihad or Holy War shows no signs of being in regression any time soon. The United States in Feb. 2008 offered official recognition to the newly formed (unilaterally) state of Kosovo, which is roughly 90% Muslim. With that support and the support of the European Union, one has to wonder just precisely what type of death wish the current administration of the United States has. It’s not enough that we’re already fighting against rogue groups of Islamists unaffiliated specifically with a nation State? We need another challenge at this point to bolster some ideal of national pride? (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: Pushing Green Could Drive Taxpayers Into Red - Once again, Mayor Mike Bloomberg's nanny state tendencies are taking hold. The Taxi and Limousine Commission is requiring that the ubiquitous black Town Cars will become a thing of the past as the city demands higher mileage requirements on those vehicles. The City is forcing the owners of these vehicles to switch to hybrids and other vehicles claiming that they're going to reduce emissions. This is an unfunded mandate on those businesses, which is to be carried by those businesses. So, he's also pushing for tax breaks: (READ MORE)

A Soldier's Mind: Quick Withdrawl From Iraq Would Wipe Out Security Gains - For quite some time now, we’ve heard the anti-Bush crowd rant, rave and scream that we needed to bring all of our Troops home from Iraq now. We’ve stated all along, as have most milbloggers, how unrealistic that demand is. For just as long, milbloggers have said that to do so, would spell disaster for our Troops as they were leaving the country, as well as disaster for the Iraqi people. Many of our Troops who have or are serving in Iraq, say that there are visible signs of progress and they want to finish the job that they started. Milbloggers have shared story after story of schools being built, hospitals being renovated, security being improved and essential services being restored. We’ve wittnessed countless Iraqi’s standing up and taking ownership in the well being of their country and it’s people, by joining the Iraqi Security Forces and volunteering for community watch groups. (READ MORE)

Donald Douglas: U.S. Will Succeed in Iraq, Poll Finds - I've long noted that public opinion on Iraq is far more complicated that the standard left-wing line that Americans want to "bring the troops home." Indeed, not only are claims of a public demand for withdrawal unsupported, a recent Pew Research poll finds that a majority of 53 percent of Americans sees the United States ultimately prevailing in the conflict. Here's some background from Hot Air: “In case you were wondering why the Democrats are running from this debate, it’s because the more public opinion shifts, the more their willingness to abandon Iraq looks less like a “realist” exit strategy than calculated defeatism. Even so, note how inelastic most of the results are despite the security gains (especially in Anbar). The microresults show impressive shifts — click the image and follow the link to see double digit swings in the ‘Growing Perceptions of Iraq Progress’ graph — but the baseline results below are static. I wonder why.” (READ MORE)

Ace of Spades: Grim Milestone: Media Interest In Surge Success Falls To Dangerously Unstable Levels - Correlation is not causation? Sure, whatever. “After heavy coverage of the shift to a new Iraq policy in January and February 2007, the TV coverage began to closely track the rising and falling death rates for U.S. soldiers in Iraq. When the number of U.S. fatalities jumped in May, TV coverage jumped, too. When U.S. casualties began to steadily decline, TV coverage of Iraq dramatically decreased. While the amount of coverage has shriveled, the tone remains more negative than positive.....” (READ MORE)

American Ranger: The Last Mission - Since my return to my home base at the end of 2007, I have been preparing for what will be my final mission in the Army. My previous job was to mobilize a battalion of military police soldiers who are now successfully engaged in one of the war zones. Tomorrow I make a brief one-day trip to give a pre-mobilization briefing to another military police unit, but next week I begin that final mission. I have been attached to a team that will spend the next few months preparing an infantry unit for its tour at war. Yep – my last mission will be with a unit of “grunts”, the same type of hardened “bayonet and bullet” warriors with whom I shared my first experience at war. (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Democrats; Party of Racial Division - For years and years the Democrats have painted Republicans as a party of old white guys that is not inclusive of blacks or other minorities. They like to point out that there are no black members of Congress in the Republican party and Howard Dean recently said that the Democrats look like the modern party while Republicans looked like they were still stuck in a time long ago. These geniuses never stop to consider that most blacks are registered as Democrats so it would be difficult to find black Republicans who would want to run for Congress. Why would they? If they are Republicans they are labeled as “Uncle Toms” and sell outs by other blacks. (READ MORE)

Blackfive: Paratroopers Fighting in Afghanistan Need to Hear from You! - Not too long ago, Blackfive readers, joined by thousands of readers from other blogs, sent over 30,000 emails of support to Marines in Iraq. The Marines had to shut down the email address because you all were causing bandwidth issues with the support we were sending. Now, as if the Taliban and Al Qaeda, bad weather, and lack of support here at home weren't bad enough, the New York Times has published a one-sided view of the paratroopers tour in Afghanistan. And so now we have cause to band together again and send massive support down range. Here's why: (READ MORE)

Deebow @ Blackfive: Bias, Bias Everywhere... - LW sent this over to me and he obviously has no concern as to how high my blood pressure could possibly get. "I went to Afghanistan last fall with a question: Why, with all our technology, were we killing so many civilians in air strikes?" Up, Up, Up it goes... not even a break. Like 3 paragraphs into the story. Elizabeth Rubin, in this writer's humble opinion, has published an article and it is a load of bull-pucky, centered around true events. The article covers Battle Company, commanded by Captain Dan Kearney, son of Lt. General Frank Kearney, Commander of SOCCENT (Special Operations Command Central Command) and their actions while fighting in the Korengal. (READ MORE)

Blonde Sagacity: Looking for an Anti-War Explanation - I keep asking Obama supporters (who always seem to use the war as their reason for choosing him after his neophyte status is pointed out) how they as civilians, drinking lattes and attending palates classes, can vote for someone because he'll bring the troops home --when the troops don't want to come home. When the troops believe in their CIC and their mission and 100% believe they are making progress. Their answer? "Well, some want to come home." Duh. I just don't get how people here -that really have no idea what's going on there - would presume to pretend they do. Do you think for one second that I want even one more finger (let alone life) sacrificed for a Muslim country? Don't these anti-war fanatics realize that the pro-troop people love these guys and HATE the fact that they are dying for people that don;t seem to appreciate the sacrifice? (READ MORE)

LTC Gian Gentile: What Lies Beneath - Compromises only mask the underlying issue behind Iraq’s civil war - Reports from Iraq are showing that the war-torn country might finally be on the road to some mix of local and national reconciliation. The recent reduction in violence suggests this might be the case and Iraq’s bleeding may have been stopped. Yet deals cut with our former Sunni-insurgent enemies to stop fighting us and become our allies against al-Qaida, along with the hope of compromise between the different factions in Iraq and the Iraqi government, may be taking our eyes off the fundamental issue that has yet to be resolved: Who will hold absolute power in Iraq, Shiites or Sunnis? One observer in Iraq noted that the Shiites and Sunnis still have not recognized the need to share power and acknowledge that one group cannot dominate over the other. How this fundamental conflict is resolved, through compromise or civil war, is still anything but clear. (READ MORE)

The Captains' Journal: Body Armor Wars in the Marine Corps - Foxnews is carrying an article on a dust-up over body armor within the Corps. It is frankly difficult to imagine that this issue could have become so confused to so many people. Hopefully this article will be enlightening for the careful reader. To begin with, it is necessary to show a picture of a Marine in Fallujah during Operation Alljah, wearing the IBA (Interceptor). This picture comes to you courtesy of Bill Ardolino who embedded with the 2/6 Marines in 2007. Take particular note of the thing hanging on the side of this Marine’s IBA (Interceptor Body Armor) vest. It is called a side SAPI plate (small arms protective insert, or the enhanced version is ESAPI). The side SAPIs are not used when Marines train stateside. They are issued upon entry to the theater. (READ MORE)

Blue Crab Boulevard: Today’s I Told You So - The electrical grid operator in Texas had to invoke stage two emergency load shedding when the wind suddenly stopped. When the 1,700 MW of wind generation suddenly dropped to 300, they had a big problem and had nothing more to put into the grid as the frequency began to drop. By quickly cutting off large industrial customers, they managed to keep the grid from going down. “HOUSTON (Reuters) - A drop in wind generation late on Tuesday, coupled with colder weather, triggered an electric emergency that caused the Texas grid operator to cut service to some large customers, the grid agency said on Wednesday.” (READ MORE)

Chickenhawk Express: Angelina Jolie Or Harry Reid - Who Ya Gonna Believe? - Interesting contrast of opinions today. First we have a WaPo commentary written by Angelina Jolie about humanitarian aide in Iraq after her visit. Take note of her opinion of the SURGE... “As for the question of whether the surge is working, I can only state what I witnessed: U.N. staff and those of non-governmental organizations seem to feel they have the right set of circumstances to attempt to scale up their programs. And when I asked the troops if they wanted to go home as soon as possible, they said that they miss home but feel invested in Iraq. They have lost many friends and want to be a part of the humanitarian progress they now feel is possible.” Well she can forget about any further awards from her brethren in Hollywood - she's probably on their blacklist. (READ MORE)

Matthew Levitt: AQI Facilitation Networks Still Active in Syria - In its latest effort to target al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) financial and logistical networks operating out of Syria, the Treasury Department designated today four members of a key terrorist facilitation network. Such facilitation networks have long operated out of Syria and have been the target of periodic designations. As recently as December 2007, Undersecretary of the Treasury Stuart Levey called on Syria to “take action to deny safe haven to those supporting violence from within its borders.” Today’s designation suggests Syria still has far to go in this regard. Known as the “Abu Ghadiyah” network and run by Badran Turki Hishan al Mazidih (aka Abu Ghadiyah), the group designated today controls the flow of much of the money, weapons, personnel and other material through Syria into Iraq for AQI. (READ MORE)

David Hambling: When Royals Go To War - You can't turn on a television or pick up a newspaper in Britain today without getting more details of Prince Harry's deployment to Afghanistan. The latest: the Prince appears to be heading home, after all the media exposure. It was pretty much inevitable that he was going to see action somewhere. The tradition of English royal princes proving themselves in war goes back to Crecy in 1346 when Edward III's son (also Edward, and known as the Black Prince to avoid confusion) was hard pressed at the height of the battle. According to the Chronicles of Froissart written in 1523, the king ordered his son should fight on without extra assistance: (READ MORE)

Dadmanly: Times Reports Internet Buzz - The NY Times continues in their partisan campaign to find ways to discredit or diminish Sen. John McCain as Presidential Candidate. This time, the always reliably partisan Carl Hulse was tasked to pound out a tendentious cloud of oblivious blather about whether John McCain is eligible to run for President. Hulse begins with this howler of an assertion: “WASHINGTON — The question has nagged at the parents of Americans born outside the continental United States for generations: Dare their children aspire to grow up and become president? In the case of Senator John McCain of Arizona, the issue is becoming more than a matter of parental daydreaming.” (READ MORE)

Dr. Sanity: THE NEO-MARXIST AGENDA OF THE ANTI-MILITARY LEFT - On January 29 of this year, the Berkeley City Council called the US Marines "unwelcome", "uninvited", and told them to get out of their city. They authorized the radical group, Code Pink, to harass the local recruiting station by granting them a preferred parking space in front of the office and waiving any permits they might need for 6 months of 'activity'. This sort of floridly anti-military and anti-American behavior on the part of the nut clusters on the political left seems to be a fairly frequent occurrance in this day and age. Berkeley happens to be one of the main players in these little psychodramas, but you can find the same sort of moral insanity wherever the species academicus pseudointellectualis runs rampant, i.e., in most university towns. (READ MORE)

Don Surber: The 9/11 next time - Would House Democrats rather smear Bush than protect the United States? By refusing to take up FISA legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is undermining national security, two Republican congressmen said. Pelosi refuses to schedule a vote on FISA that would allow our spies to intercept foreign communications. New York’s Peter King and Vito Fossella wrote in the Washington Times today: “Half of all the information we obtain on future attacks against our nation comes from electronic surveillance, according to National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell, who warned that failure to pass the Senate bill will degrade all intercepts by two-thirds. We can’t expect intelligence officials to connect the dots when they have one arm tied behind their back collecting them.” That’s a serious problem. (READ MORE)

Flopping Aces: Iraq War Leaves Democrats at a Loss - Be careful what you wish for…Democrats wanted power in 2006, and vowed to end the war if they got it. They got power, and showed that they had no clue how to end it, and no intention of doing so in any event. There was talk of cutting funds for the war, and they could have done that, but instead chose to push their party agenda rather than make concessions needed to pass a funding cut measure in a bi-partisan way. Instead they tell their constituents that the Democratic Party needs more power. They need enough power to override vetoes and opposition to measures that would leave Iraq in chaos; they need unchecked political power. On the Presidential campaign trail, we’ve heard all kinds of positions from the Democratic Party candidates; from vowing to stay in Iraq until 2013 to ordering an unconditional withdrawal on day 1. Two things are clear: 1) The Democratic Party has no idea what to do with the Iraq War 2) The Democratic Party must continue to tell their base that they are against the war (READ MORE)

Allahpundit: Good work, Drudge: Brits pull Harry out of Afghanistan, send him home - Per yesterday’s post, mightn’t Drudge have been doing the Brits’ secret bidding by spilling the beans? Er, probably not: Harry was due back anyway “in a matter of weeks,” which, on the one hand, makes the leak seem not so bad and on the other makes it totally gratuitous. Bummer: “Sky defence correspondent Geoff Meade said it could take at least 24 hours to bring him back to the UK. He added: ‘There will be a degree of frustration - not least from the Prince himself - and anger.’ (READ MORE)

Amy Proctor: (VIDEO) GEN Casey: Troops More Interested in Victory Than Coming Home - GEN George Casey affirmed the military’s positive morale and desire to win in Iraq and Afghanistan rather than coming home leaving a failed mission before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday saying: “‘As I talk to the soldiers…the most important thing to them is winning, not necessarily coming home.’ ‘Everything I have personally observed during my visits in December and that I continue to hear is that morale in both in Iraq, Afghanistan, and among returning forces is very positive. They believe in what they’re doing, they see themselves making a difference in a very difficult environment, and so I believe morale is very good.’” (READ MORE)

Missiles and stilettos: Princess Diana would be proud! - PRINCE Harry received a heart-wrenching letter in the front line from brother William telling him: “You’re making mum proud.” It was among a treasure chest of personal messages sent to the Royal as he took on the Taliban in Afghanistan. Fellow Blues and Royals officer William reminded his younger brother of Princess Diana to provide a vital boost, after hearing from other soldiers in the regiment how tough life was in Helmand Province. Harry said: “Hopefully, she would be proud. She would be looking down having a giggle about the stupid things that I’ve been doing, like going left when I should have gone right, finding myself in an awkward position earlier today. “William sent me a letter saying how proud he reckons that she would be.” (READ MORE)

The Monkey Tennis Centre: "I'm a free human being in Europe, and I'm not a slave of the European Commission." - With this existential cry, Czech Republic interior minister Ivan Langer today ripped the electrodes out of his head and disconnected the downlink from Brussels, in his country's latest act of defiance against the Borg-like entity that is the European Union. The BBC reports that the Czech government could face legal action after signing its own deal on visa-free travel with the US, having become fed up waiting while the EU haggled over a Europe-wide deal: The European Commission fears the accord undercuts its own talks with the US on an EU-wide visa agreement. But Czech interior minister Ivan Langer criticised the EU. "We've been waiting years and nothing happened," he said. (READ MORE)

Political Pistachio: Rally Behind Lt. Col. William Russell - Dirty Politics. That is a common practice by Democratic Candidates. Hillary Clinton is now using a tactic the press calls the "Kitchen Sink Strategy" because in her desperation of trying to stop the rise of Barack Hussein Obama, it seems like she is throwing everything at him but the kitchen sink. John Murtha is another cheating, lying, unscrupulous politician that will do anything in his power to ensure his 34 year reign in the United States Congress continues. John Murtha's years in Congress have been spotted with scandals. (READ MORE)

John Hinderaker: The Times Goes Looking for Media Bias - Not, as you might expect, in the mirror. Instead, the Times pointed its finger at a television station in the Republican South. This is a spin-off from the recent 60 Minutes story that apparently claimed it was Karl Rove's fault that former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman was convicted of bribery and mail fraud. I haven't followed that story closely, assuming that it is another 60 Minutes hoax. The Left blogosphere got excited over the fact that one Alabama television station, WHNT in Huntsville, didn't air the 60 Minutes segment on Siegelman; it went dark for a few minutes just as that segment was in progress. The Times joined its friends on the creepy Left in seeing all the signs of a conspiracy. The paper went so far as to editorialize on the power outage: (READ MORE)

Scott Johnson: Brad Smith responds to Senator McCain - I was intrigued by Paul's account of the blogger conference call with Senator McCain yesterday. Senator McCain justified his refusal to shake the hand of former FEC Commissioner Brad Smith on the ground that Professor Smith had engaged in attacks on Senator McCain's character. Checking out Smith's 2001 book on the problems with campaign finance regulation -- Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform -- Professor Smith's comments on Senator McCain and the then-proposed McCain-Feingold reform bill, one finds only Professor Smith's reference to McCain's "minimal" role in the Keating Five scandal and criticism of the bill itself. A Google search on Brad Smith on John McCain similarly turns up nothing personal in nature. Professor Smith's consideration of John McCain as a presidential candidate is accessible here. (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Does Hamas Want War? - There is an unspoken assumption that underlies most of the reporting from the area since Israel withdrew form the Gaza strip. That assumption is that, like the scorpion who kills the frog and thus drowns, Hamas and the Gazans must attack Israel with their rockets because "its their nature." In this conception, Hamas cannot possibly want war because it would devastate Gaza, kill many innocent Palestinians, and destroy Hamas's power base. There may be some truth to this, but it is always worth considering, when an escalation takes place, cui bono?, who benefits? The Middle East has always been an incredibly complex web of interconnecting moving parts. An action in one area often has reverberations elsewhere in the region. Most often the connections are hidden; this is facilitated by a compliant, easily manipulated and managed press, and an incurious West. (READ MORE)

Sister Toldjah: Just words? Part II (UPDATE 2: CLINTON CAMP WILL MEET TO DISCUSS CTV STORY) - Yesterday, I wrote about a CTV (Canada) story that reported that a “senior member” of BO’s campaign told the Canadian Ambassador Michael Smith that Barack Obama’s tough talk against NAFTA was merely campaign rhetoric, and assured them not to worry. Naturally, all camps denied anything was said (Smith himself, to my knowledge, hasn’t commented). I posted some updates to that story in my original post but wanted to start a new one on it with the info because I think the update deserves it’s own post. CTV is standing by its report: “The Obama campaign told CTV late Thursday night that no message was passed to the Canadian government that suggests that Obama does not mean what he says about opting out of NAFTA if it is not renegotiated. However, the Obama camp did not respond to repeated questions from CTV on reports that a conversation on this matter was held between Obama’s senior economic adviser — Austan Goolsbee — and the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago.” (READ MORE)

Mark Steyn: Dear Leaders - What's wrong with this picture? "Saying he is no longer healthy enough to hold office, Cuban leader Fidel Castro has announced he will not seek re-election after 49 years in power" - the Miami Herald. Hmm. Castro didn't really have to "seek" re-election, did he? He's a - what's the word? Oh, yeah - "dictator." If he "seeks" re-election, he's pretty much guaranteed to find it - assuming for the purposes of argument you can be "re-elected" if you've never been freely or fairly elected in the first place. In its own "news report," the satirical website The Nose on Your Face got closer to reality: "Fidel Castro announced today that he would not seek a new term as Cuba's president, citing concerns that at 81, it may be difficult for him to serve the full, constitutionally-mandated 49-year term." (READ MORE)

Steve Schippert: IAEA Schweizer Käse - While Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hails the latest IAEA report on the Iranian nuclear weapons program as another “great victory” against the United States and the West, significant holes and questions remain. On several “outstanding questions” the IAEA had on the Iranian program, the UN nuclear watchdog agency’s Director ElBaradei was satisfied with the Iranian response. But even some of those seemingly settled issues raise significant questions from within themselves. And a gaping hole remains in the form of indications of the “administrative interconnections” among the Iranian enrichment program, high explosives testing and missile re-entry design programs as well as “their possible link to nuclear material.” (READ MORE)

Wolf Pangloss: I had a dream about Barack Obama - I had a dream about Barack Obama. I was watching Obama give a speech. It felt so good, so hypnotic. He was so beautiful and he spoke like an angel. I remember wondering if I was actually floating in the middle of the air. Have you ever had one of those dreams where you are having a conversation of such surpassing brilliance and insight that you want to remember every single speck of memory from the dream so you can write it down when you do actually wake up? This was one of those dreams. Every idea, every word, every phrase, every syllable that came out of his mouth was so perfect, so absolutely appropriate and energizing, that I knew I was giggling and couldn’t help it. (READ MORE)

Wonkoblog: Conservative bloggers showing more focus than liberal bloggers right now - Every four hours each of the candidates’ Wonkosphere buzz page is re-generated, and it gives you a snap-shot of the 30 most representative posts about the candidate over the last several days (biased towards recent posts). We identify those posts that are most representative by using computerized text analysis, which measures how “close” each post is to another, and then selects those posts that are on average the most similar to all other posts. You’ll note that the 30 the computer chooses are independent of affiliation, so we can look at the ratio of red to blue to get a sense of which side is being more focused. (READ MORE)

Army Girl Chronicles: Oops - Alright. So I haven't been keeping up as planned. Somewhere, I still have the rest of that crazy Basic Training journal, so I'll get it on here one day. At least for the sake of me having it, because Lord knows a beat-up notebook won't last long. Until I track it back down, though, I'll just make this a fun update. So. Updates. Hrm. Well, as for normal life, things are pretty good right now, albeit stressful. It's entertaining trying to keep up a civilian life and an army life at the same time. I met a guy in AIT that I thought I was in love with, so we got engaged pretty quickly. (Spending ungodly amounts of time with someone stuck in training changes things, I guess.) However, I at some point figured out he wasn't very nice, and packed him back off to his mommy. (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.

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