July 17, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 07/17/2008

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)
Iraq's security 'remarkably better' - The nation's top military officer Wednesday declared the security situation in Iraq "remarkably better," so good in fact that he expects to recommend more U.S. troop reductions this fall if conditions hold. (READ MORE)

Justice denies request in agent's death - White House and Justice Department officials on Wednesday refused to tell 39 members of Congress why U.S. prosecutors never asked Mexico to detain a suspect in the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent or sought his extradition. (READ MORE)

Judge to consider blocking Gitmo trial - WASHINGTON (AP) – A federal judge is considering whether to block the first Guantanamo Bay war crimes trial from beginning next week. If he does, it could throw another kink into the Bush administration's legal strategy in the war on terrorism. (READ MORE)

Capitol Hill hits low in ratings - Self-proclaimed Democrats - disgruntled by the failure of their party's leaders to keep key campaign promises - pushed Congress' job-approval rating to an all-time low in a Gallup Poll out Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Swap raises stakes for Hamas deal - TEL AVIV Hamas Wednesday congratulated Hezbollah for securing the release of five Lebanese prisoners in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, calling the deal a "victory for the resistance" that will up the ante for the release of Israeli prisoner Cpl. Gilad Shalit. (READ MORE)

Obama hauls in $52M during June - Sen. Barack Obama Thursday morning announced his second largest fundraising haul since becoming a presidential candidate -- $52 million during the month of June. (READ MORE)

Run on Washington - Washington's biggest names – from President Bush to Ben Bernanke to Nancy Pelosi – have all trotted out publicly this week to declare their profound concern about the American economy. Alas, our leaders are promising to do everything except what might really do some good: Abandon what they've been doing for the past year. (READ MORE)

California as No. 1 - New York City has long been the highest tax jurisdiction in the United States, but California politicians are proposing to steal that brass tiara. California faces a $15 billion budget deficit and Democrats who rule the state Legislature have proposed closing the gap with a $9.7 billion tax hike on business and "the rich." There's a movie that describes this idea: Clueless. (READ MORE)

Slowing Economy Gives Way to Global Role Reversals - The global slowdown stemming in part from the deepening U.S. financial crisis is hitting the world's richest nations the hardest even as emerging nations, some with once-fragile economies, are proving relatively resilient. (READ MORE)

Administration Wanted Loyalist As Justice Dept. Legal Adviser - Then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft offered the White House a list of five candidates to lead the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel in early 2003, but top administration officials summarily rejected them in favor of installing a loyalist... (READ MORE)

Guard's Status Rising With Leader's Rank - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday made the first nomination for a four-star general to lead the National Guard, a move that should give the reserve force a significant boost in influence inside the Pentagon... (READ MORE)

Saudis Look Beyond Oil to New Economy in Desert - MEDINA, Saudi Arabia -- Clouds of yellow dust swirled in the air as tractors moved back and forth, leveling a huge, barren piece of land dotted with billboards announcing the city that will rise from the sand here. (READ MORE)

Court Orders U.S. to Halt Execution of 5 Mexicans - CULIACAN, Mexico, July 16 -- A U.N. court ruled Wednesday that the United States should halt the executions of five Mexican nationals -- including a convicted killer sentenced to die in three weeks -- until their cases can be reviewed. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Karl Rove: Voters Want Economic Leadership - Elections are often reshaped by unexpected and fast-moving events, and when this happens a candidate who quickly takes the lead on the new issue can bolster his chances to win. There is such an opportunity now for Barack Obama and John McCain with the crisis facing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The mortgage giants touch tens of millions of people because their core business is to buy, insure and securitize home loans. But they act like huge hedge funds with their portfolios worth hundreds of billions. As government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), they have an implicit federal guarantee that allows them to borrow money more cheaply than competitors. They have used that advantage to make ever-larger bets in their portfolios, generating big profits when home prices were rising, but big losses when housing weakened. Congress ignored an early warning sign when Fannie and Freddie failed to produce accurate accounting statements in 2002. (READ MORE)

Dan Senor: Who Obama Should See in Iraq - Barack Obama is headed to Baghdad, probably within days. It's a shame he chose to pre-empt the visit with a big speech and an op-ed on the subject. He just might learn a thing or two while he's there. I helped plan these congressional delegations (or CODELS) to Iraq for over 250 congressmen and senators when I worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority. I know that congressmen find them illuminating despite the obvious limitations imposed by time and security concerns. Here are some individuals and groups Mr. Obama should make it a priority to see: (READ MORE)

George Melloan: Inflation and the Bush Legacy - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke clings to an easy money policy while assuring us that he is keeping an eye on inflation. Glendora Rider, a pensioner in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., also has an eye on inflation. Glendora, a onetime newspaper colleague of mine, sees this phenomenon from ground level, not the commanding heights occupied by the Federal Reserve Board: "Two years ago, I nearly emptied my billfold pulling out $15 for six gallons of gas. Six gallons of gas at $4 a gallon (many places more than that) now cleans me out of $24, and that's not filling the tank. Consumers are now advised to gas up in the early morning before the heat expands the gas and you get less for your money. Most stations are adding 10% ethanol to the mix and this makes my 2001 Chevy truck limp along in a state of depression and attrition leading eventually to a high-priced mechanic. (READ MORE)

Bob Barr: Judges Are No Reason to Vote for McCain - The judiciary is becoming an important election issue. John McCain is warning conservatives that control of today's finely balanced Supreme Court depends on his election. Unfortunately, his jurisprudence is likely to be anything but conservative. The idea of a "living Constitution" long has been popular on the political left. Conservatives routinely dismiss such result-oriented justice, denouncing "judicial activism" and proclaiming their fidelity to "original intent." However, many Republicans, like Mr. McCain, are just as result-oriented as their Democratic opponents. They only disagree over the result desired. Judge-made rights are wrong because there is no constitutional warrant behind them. The Constitution leaves most decisions up to the normal political process. However, the Constitution sometimes requires decisions or action by judges – "judicial activism," if you will – to ensure the country's fundamental law is followed. (READ MORE)

Max Stein & Gary Ginsberg: It's Not Too Soon to Plan the Transition - Dear Senators, We know you're busy campaigning and the election is just four months off. But what should be occupying a large portion of your time right now is how you will govern after the election when you have some 4,000 posts to fill. With two ongoing wars, the threat of terrorism, a flagging economy and only 77 days between the election and the inaugural, the decisions – or lack of decisions – you make today may well determine whether your presidency is successful. Yes, you need to choose a competent running mate. To be ready on day one, you also need to start planning for the transition from this administration to your own. The key to an effective transition is getting your appointees in place and up to speed as quickly as possible. But if history is a guide, your administration won't have its full team in place until the spring or summer of 2010. (READ MORE)

Ann Coulter: This is Not a Drill - Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, or as she is called on the Big Dogs blog, "the worst speaker in the history of Congress," explained the cause of high oil prices back in 2006: "We have two oilmen in the White House. The logical follow-up from that is $3-a-gallon gasoline. It is no accident. It is a cause and effect. A cause and effect." Yes, that would explain why the price of oral sex, cigars and Hustler magazine skyrocketed during the Clinton years. Also, I note that Speaker Pelosi is a hotelier ... and the price of a hotel room in New York is $1,000 a night! I think she might be onto something. Is that why a barrel of oil costs mere pennies in all those other countries in the world that are not run by "oilmen"? Wait -- it doesn't cost pennies to them? That's weird. In response to the 2003 blackout throughout the Northeast U.S. and parts of Canada, Pelosi blamed: "President Bush and Rep. Tom DeLay's oil-company interests." (READ MORE)

Amanda Carpenter: Obama Surrogate Targets Mrs. McCain - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has promised he would not make his GOP rival John McCain’s wife a political issue, but at least one of his television surrogates is trying to make her personal wealth a major campaign issue. “I would never consider making Cindy McCain a campaign issue and if I saw people doing that---I would speak out against it,” Obama said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network on June 18. Now, less than a month later, an Obama loyalist deployed by the Democratic National Committee to various television shows for the purpose of promoting Obama’s candidacy says Mrs. McCain’s wealth presents a “red flag.” Jamal Simmons, a communications consultant for the DNC, blasted Mr. McCain on CNN Tuesday evening because “he doesn’t talk about what’s going to happen to Cindy McCain if he goes into the White House” and “he’s not leading a transparent campaign.” (READ MORE)

Cal Thomas: School for Scoundrels - Despite a report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Va., has continued to use textbooks that teach hatred of everyone not of their specific brand of faith, the U.S. State Department has yet to act to close down the school. Officials of the academy, which has about 1,000 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12, promised to excise passages in the textbooks that disparage Jews and Christians, but according to an examination by The Washington Post for the 2006-2007 school year, though "much of the controversial material had been removed, at least one book still contained passages that extolled jihad and martyrdom, called for victory over one's enemies and said the killing of adulterers and apostates was 'justified.'" Once again, Islamic Saudi Academy officials have promised to clean up the text. There are at least two questions that should be asked. (READ MORE)

Ken Blackwell: The Gathering Threat to Freedom - House Speaker Pelosi is hinting at reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, and many of her liberal colleagues in Congress are doing the same in both chambers. Alleging the press isnt balanced, they say government should be making sure all viewpoints meaning the lefts are fairly represented. I agree the press isnt balanced, but Mrs. Pelosi has it backward; liberalism dominates the press, including the three major networks and most major newspapers. Though originally the Fairness Doctrine did not require opposing time be equal, it came to be the standard. The concern at the time was the prevention of a single viewpoint from dominating the news and biasing the people. By the 1980s, there were many radio and TV stations available. And many believed the Fairness Doctrine was unconstitutional in any event. So in 1987, Ronald Reagans Federal Communications Commission repealed the Fairness Doctrine, opening every press outlet to freely decide what content to carry. (READ MORE)

Rebecca Hagelin: Government is Costing You a Bundle - Congratulations: The rest of your 2008 paychecks belong to you and your family. Enjoy! Oh, you didn’t hear? The “mainstream” media probably didn’t tell you, but July 16 was this year’s “Cost of Government Day.” As Americans for Tax Reform notes, that’s the date on which the average American has paid his share of the financial burden imposed by the spending and regulation that occurs on the federal, state and local levels. And just think: It only took you a little over half a year to do it. I wish I could say things are improving on the government-cost front, but they’re not. This year’s date is four days later than it was in 2007 (July 12), and 17 days later than the “Cost of Government Day” notched as recently as 2000. In fact, COGD has fallen later than July 16 only four other times since 1977. Something’s clearly out of whack. And we know what it is -- the free-spending ways of our elected officials in Washington. (READ MORE)

Victor Davis Hanson: America is Not Post-Anything - In the last 20 years, we were lectured constantly about “post-industrial” America. Experts proclaimed that the United States had evolved into an “information society” of “high-tech jobs.” The traditional sources of American strength -- manufacturing, the production of food and fuel, and the assembling of cars and trucks -- were apparently passé. Instead, others less fortunate abroad were to do those more grubby tasks, while Americans, with their BlackBerrys and laptops, funded, organized, lectured and critiqued them. Illegal aliens might cook our meals or change our children’s diapers to free us up for far more important tasks of litigation, finance and environmental review. The Chinese would make everything from our shoes to our phones. The Japanese would supply us with quality high-end goods like cars and cameras. The Africans, Arabs, Iranians, Russians and Venezuelans would drill oil in nasty, dirty places so we wouldn’t have to. (READ MORE)

Robert D. Novak: Cost of Cronyism - WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As financial storm signals appeared the last 18 months, there were Bush officials who urged drastic reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But, according to internal government sources, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson objected because it would look "too political." The Republican administration kept hands off the government-backed mortgage companies that are closely tied to the Democratic establishment. Paulson is a Republican, but as head of the Goldman Sachs investment bank, he had close ties with Democratic-dominated Fannie Mae. After prominent Democrat James A. Johnson left Fannie after eight years as chairman and CEO and joined the ZymoGenetics biopharmaceutical firm, he was named head of Goldman Sachs' compensation committee, helping set Paulson's abundant salary there. That connection clearly was not enough for Paulson to consider recusing himself from dealing with the crisis threatening Fannie, Freddie and the whole American economy. (READ MORE)
Mario Diaz: Justice and Fairness Dead in Judicial Confirmation Process - No matter how much spin the Democratic leadership wishes to put on their treatment of President Bush’s judicial nominees, the fact is that the American people can see that there is no justice or fairness left in the process. It was John Adams who said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” The Democratic leadership’s record on judicial nominees is indisputable and indefensible; they have taken the obstruction of judges to a whole new level. Consider that on July 17, 2008, Judge Robert J. Conrad, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, will have been stuck in committee for 365 days. And not only has he been there without getting a vote, he hasn’t even had a hearing to discuss his nomination. (READ MORE)

Phil Harris: Immoral Indignation And Log-Infested Eyes - Two groups will find this discussion to be unpalatable, despite the fact that they are otherwise diametrically opposed to each other. Perhaps, if this sliver of insight gets under some of the hard scabs that have encrusted our social skin, some measure of healing is possible. Of course, my own bias leads me to believe this is possible for one side, and unlikely for the other. My bias is the result of believing several things to be true, all of which used to be the accepted social consensus. Examples of such are that homosexuality, sexual promiscuity and/or perversions, and abortion are not good things and consequentially lead to the downfall of individuals and the community. I segregate these from all other social “sins”, because these are interrelated in cause and consequence. Homosexual activism has been stunningly successful through the years at perverting the social conscience. (READ MORE)

Rep. Thelma Drake: Reduce Boutique Fuels, Reduce the Price of Gasoline - While Congress further takes up the debate on offshore drilling and continues to speculate on the role of speculators, there are things we can do now to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our nation’s energy infrastructure. “Boutique fuels” are so named because they are specialty blends which seek to mitigate poor air quality standards in certain areas. While the Clean Air Act specifically requires certain areas to utilize federal reformulated gasoline (RFG) in order to reduce emissions and improve air quality, in some cases states are able to create their own standards in order to meet air quality goals. The numerous unique boutique fuel blends now sold in this country all share the same goal to improve air quality standards. However, the negative impact of these differing standards is incompatibility. Specialty blends often cannot be moved from one area of the country to the other in order to meet demand: (READ MORE)

A Newt One: Nancy Pelosi Needs To Resign Or be Evicted From Office - There are some among the Leftinistra that take offense that there are others that refer to Nancy Pelosi as Nancy Mussolini. Well, if the shoe fits and all that, why not? Remember what she said when Rep Pence introduced a bill that would ban the Fairness Doctrine forever? John Gizzi wrote an article 25 JUN 08 describing his close encounter with Nancy Troll Mussolini Pelosi: “The speaker of the House made it clear to me and more than forty of my colleagues yesterday that a bill by Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) to outlaw the ‘Fairness Doctrine’ (which a liberal administration could use to silence Rush Limbaugh, other radio talk show hosts and much of the new alternative media) would not see the light of day in Congress during '08. In ruling out a vote on Pence's proposed Broadcaster's Freedom Act, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-CA.) also signaled her strong support for revival of the ‘Fairness Doctrine’ -- which would require radio station owners to provide equal time to radio commentary when it is requested.” (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: Sorry Charlie - So, Rep. Charles Rangel's (D-NY) neighbors are realizing that there's a double standard in how Rangel was treated and how they are treated when it comes to rent stabilized housing in the Olnick Organization's Lenox Towers in Harlem. They say that they would never get the kind of preferential treatment had they broken the rules as Rangel had done. “Although landlord-tenant battles, especially in rent-stabilized buildings, are a staple of New York life, residents and housing advocates say that after the Harlem real estate market began to soar around 2000, the situation at Lenox Terrace grew intense. The Olnick Organization, the owner of the development, brought in a new manager at that time and began aggressively seeking to evict tenants from rent-stabilized units. While some of those evicted were clearly in violation of rent laws, tenants say the company went beyond those cases, pressuring legitimate residents to give up their homes.” (READ MORE)

Dave In Texas: 3.9 MM Acres in Alaska Opened up For Drilling - Bureau of Land Management clears the way for explortion and drilling on almost 4 million acres in Alaska (not ANWR). Here's the plum: “But the Bureau of Land Management, an agency within the US Department of the Interior, said the Alaskan land that will now be offered requires no other approvals and will be up for leasing in the autumn.” Note that the area was approved for exploration decades ago, but lawsuits from environmentalist groups held it up. Keep that in mind whenever you hear Democrats cry that the oil companies aren't exploring on the (pick your number, it changes) 58, 68 or 104 million acres they have now. It's not just about the economics of where to invest money to explore, "setting aside the land" isn't the end of the process. Marxist Environmental groups have been given standing in Federal courts to sue to block everything, and they do. (READ MORE)

Donald Douglas: Iran's Threat to the Strait of Hormuz - Could Iran close international access to the Persian Gulf, in the event of American or Israeli strikes on Tehran's nuclear program, causing a potentially catastrophic decline in available world petroleum supplies? The possibility of this conflict scenario is examined by Caitlin Talmadge, in "Closing Time: Assessing the Iranian Threat to the Strait of Hormuz." The article's particularly timely. Just last weekend OPEC oil ministers warned that global oil prices could skyrocket in the event of a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran, and with the oil price-per-barrel currently at record highs, Western vulnerability to economic blowback is acute. Further, some commentators in the press have recently reported details of clandestine planning - at the highest levels of the U.S. government - for a preventive attack on Iran's nuclear program. (READ MORE)

Ace of Spades: US, Afghan Troops Repel Attack from Taliban Invaders With 8:1 Advantage - What the media didn't bother reporting. They reported, accurately, that the attack resulted in the highest number of US casualties since a helicopter was downed and all 16 lives aboard lost. They lost interest in the story when the US won, in an engagement Jeff Emmanuel calls an Alamo with a better ending. “International newswire activity spiked two mornings ago when word came from Afghanistan that nine U.S. troops had been killed in an attack on a remote coalition base. [...] Had those mainstream reporters continued paying attention, chances are they would have noted something remarkable about Sunday's battle.” The media's narrative on war is as simple as it is simple-minded: If the enemy attacks at all, they win. If American troops are attacked at all, we lost. (READ MORE)

Pamela Geller: Attempted honor killing of "bad Muslim girl", Reporter insists "nothing to do with Islam" despite would be killer's confession - In an extraordinary act of dhimmitude and deception, staff writer Michael Zeigler in the Democrat and Chronicle (in a terrible story getting little press) goes to extraordinary lengths to paint this attempted Islamic "honor" killing of a young girl as anything but Islamic -- even pulling that oldest and most stale of canards out of his ass, "mental illness". The first half of the article reports the story, an Islamic "honor" killing. The second half the reporter turns himself inside out to assure readers that it is not Islamic (though the would be murderer insists it is). Zeigler digs up a a taqiya spewing Muslim who is a retired Professor of Pharmacology as his expert. Got that? Zeigler should be fired. He's not a reporter. He's a propagandist for Islam and sharia law. Does he begin to understand the harm he is doing in misleading the uniformed? (READ MORE)

Dafydd: NYT Wonders: Why Didn't Bush Invade Pakistan, As We All Urged? - The New York Times, in the first of an expected 632 installments, explains to us why al-Qaeda is much more powerful now than it was in 2000... and all because President George W. Bush neglected to do what the elite media now claim they repeatedly urged him to do: Send American "commandos" in "ground raids inside the tribal areas" of Pakistan, instead of fighting the thousands of open members of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in the country that al-Qaeda itself declared the core of their jihad. I have never before been so convinced of the existence of alternative realities. Here, on a nutshell, is how the Times perceives the buildup of Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in Pakistan to be Bush's fault: “The story of how Al Qaeda, whose name is Arabic for “the base,” has gained a new haven is in part a story of American accommodation to President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, whose advisers played down the terrorist threat. It is also a story of how the White House shifted its sights, beginning in 2002, from counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan to preparations for the war in Iraq.” (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: British Rules of Engagement and Brave Warriors - In the fall of 2007 British troops in the Garmser area were involved in a firefight in which their rules of engagement placed them in danger, and likely caused the deaths of several troops. “A mission involving British soldiers in Afghanistan in which two men died after coming under heavy enemy fire, had to be stopped for an hour to enable officers to discuss what rules of engagement they were using, an inquest heard today. The night-time operation near Garmsir on September 8, 2007, described by one soldier as ‘Operation Certain Death’ was led by Major Jamie Nowell. Giving evidence to the inquest in Trowbridge, Wiltshire today, Nowell said the problems started when he told his air support to open fire on four militants spotted in a trench. He was then told over the radio that his airborne colleagues were not permitted to engage the enemy. Nowell explained that his men were under ‘429 A’ rules of engagement, which meant they could engage the identified enemy while the men in the air were on ‘Card A’ which permitted them to fire only in self-defence.” (READ MORE)

Jeffrey Imm: False Reports of Jihadists "Quitting" or Abandoning Islamic Supremacism - Another strategic error in the failure to address the ideological basis of Jihad in Islamic supremacism is that the lack of such a strategic debate allows a series of false and misleading reports about Jihadists allegedly "renouncing" jihad or abandoning Islamism. The point of these media reports are to suggest that either (a) there is no jihadist threat, or (b) what threat does exist is diminishing as "extremists" realize the folly of violence. Such reports have one clear purpose: quash public debate on the real ideological basis behind Jihad, with the secondary purpose of questioning Jihad as a "real threat." The Jihadist who is still a Jihadist - One example is the July 13, 2008 UK Guardian/Observer article by Lawrence Wright "The heretic -- How Al-Qaeda's mastermind turned his back on terror." It is clear from a close reading of the article that the headline simply is not accurate... (READ MORE)

Confederate Yankee: While the Media Slept - ...another province, Diwaniyah, was handed over to Iraqi government control. This means that for the first time, a democratically-elected Iraqi government is in charge of a majority of the country (10 of 18 provinces). The largest province and former home of the Sunni insurgency, al Anbar, is on the cusp of being handed over as well. You would think that turning point such as the Iraqis taking over the control of the majority of their country would be a moment that editorial writers, always looking for moments pregnant with symbolism, would gush over. Alas, Iraq isn't as newsworthy with victory so near at hand (and with the anointed candidate faltering so badly), and so this milestone goes all but unreported. (READ MORE)

David Axe: When "Soft Power" Backfires - In a landmark November address, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called on the U.S. to rely less on brute force in the war on terror, and more on so-called "soft power." "We must focus our energies beyond the guns and steel of the military," Gates said in a speech at Kansas State University. "There is a need for a dramatic increase in spending on civilian instruments of national security -- diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and economic reconstruction and development." The idea is to resolve conflicts before they become crises requiring military intervention. But what do you do when "soft power" actually makes things worse? That appears to be what's happening in Sudan and oil-rich Chad, where the U.S. government and private donors have spent around a billion dollars to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees fleeing the five-year-old civil war in Darfur. I explain in a new piece at The American Prospect Online: (READ MORE)

Baron Bodissey: Hijab Chic - Over the last few years it has become evident that radical feminists in the West are in the process of making an accommodation with Islam. As long as the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Hizb ut-Tahrir, etc. remain the enemy in “George Bush’s war”, they are by definition the friends of the Left, and thus their little ideological quirks must be overlooked. Dymphna and I have often speculated about how sharia principles will be reconciled with the tenets of feminism. It has to happen someday, because the Muslims will give no ground, and the feminists have declared by their silence that they have no objection to the way Islam treats its women. So how will this particular frog be boiled? What will be the minute incremental steps between Women’s Lib and Full Sharia? (READ MORE)

GayPatriotWest: Desperate Democrats/Dishonest, then Disingenous AP - Amazing how desperate the Democrats are to find a Bush Administration scandal. While trying to get caught up on my e-mail and checking the news, I chanced on this story, Bush claims privilege to withhold CIA leak records, leading the headlines on Yahoo! My Congressman, Henry Waxman, chairman of House Oversight Committee, is still investigating something already investigated by a zealous and exacting fellow prosecutor. Yup, ol’ Henry is probing the leak of Valerie Plame’s name, even though Patrick Fitzgerald, the aforementioned prosecutor, after a thorough investigation, did not indict anyone for the underlying offense (i.e., that which he was hired to investigate). In other words, there was no crime. What is interesting here is not just the Democrats endless probing of this story, but the disingenuous coverage in the MSM. In the first version I read, the Associated Press’s Laurie Kellman reported: (READ MORE)

Don Surber: $urpri$e - Republican Sen. John McCain is ahead of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama by $23 million. Obama’s money-making skills are phenomenal but they come at the expense of his own party’s fundraising. In a year where everything seems to be coming up Democratic, the party is having difficulty raising money for its convention and for its national party. While Obama raised a record $52 million in June to McCain’s $22 million, Obama and the DNC ended June with $72 million in the bank, AP reported. McCain and the RNC ended the month with $95 million in the bank. Granted, a $30 million-a-month gap in personal fundraising quickly erases that lead. But McCain does not have to do any fundraising. He gets $84 million from taxpayers on Sept. 1 for the fall campaign. While conventional wisdom is that hurts him, I don’t know. McCain detests fundraising (Obama enjoys it). The welfare check frees McCain from that chore. (READ MORE)

Hamilton, Madison, and Jay: The Very Definition Of Naivete - I have had so much fun beating Senator Obama like a bongo drum today that I figured that I should not stop yet. Senator Obama, thy name is naivete. (Yes, the link is to an AP story, but I will not cite it here.) Basically, this story is about a roundtable discussion he had at Purdue University today. The subject of the discussion was of his plans to disarm all nations of nuclear weapons within his first term in office. Not only is this simply obtuse on its face, but it is nearly impossible to achieve. The United States will not give up its nuclear arsenal. It is a deterrent, and Senator Obama should know this. (Of course he does not because he does not believe we need it now, or that we probably never needed it.) Let us face some facts here that I am sure he did not take into account. (READ MORE)

Michael Totten: Is the War Over? - Independent reporter Michael Yon has spent more time in Iraq embedded with combat soldiers than any other journalist in the world, and a few days ago he boldly declared the war over: “Barring any major and unexpected developments (like an Israeli air strike on Iran and the retaliations that would follow), a fair-minded person could say with reasonable certainty that the war has ended. A new and better nation is growing legs. What's left is messy politics that likely will be punctuated by low-level violence and the occasional spectacular attack. Yet, the will of the Iraqi people has changed, and the Iraqi military has dramatically improved, so those spectacular attacks are diminishing along with the regular violence. Now it's time to rebuild the country, and create a pluralistic, stable and peaceful Iraq. That will be long, hard work. But by my estimation, the Iraq War is over. We won. Which means the Iraqi people won.” I’m reluctant to say “the war has ended,” as he did, but everything else he wrote is undoubtedly true. The war in Iraq is all but over right now, and it will be officially over if the current trends in violence continue their downward slide. That is a mathematical fact. If you doubt it, look at the data. (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Narcissism, the Ego Ideal, and Winning the War on Islamic Terror - Last week, Grandmasta at Arabic Media Shack discussed the Saudi Militant Amnesty Programs which are designed to rehabilitate Saudis who have become involved in Islamist terror. The basic premise is that those who become involved in terrorism have been misled by poorly educated Imams and if they can be reeducated, they will return to the path of peace: “Many Westerners are extremely suspicious of these types of programs. Surely these guys are just saying these things so they can get out of jail? But, Grandmasta believes they are approprirate for the local socio-cultural-religous context. There is a sense in the Middle East that support for Al-Qaeda type ideology, not cheering when the US gets attacked, but actively buying into their religous philosophy, is a product of poor Islamic education upbringing. Watch these comments (specifically last 2 minutes) by the Mufti of Egypt, Ali Guma, for a good explanation of this point. According to Guma, noone who has ever gone through ‘proper’ Islamic schooling, ie Al-Azhar, has ever commited an act of terrorism. So since the problem is bad schooling, the solution is easy- educate them of the right path.” (READ MORE)

The Tygrrrr Express: Tony Snow and the Axis of Antisemitism - Tony Snow, like Tim Russert before him, died way too young. Another kind human being beloved by many has been taken from us. It will never make sense to me. Before going any further, I want to offer condolences to the Snow family, and also to radio host Mike Gallagher. In one of the most heart wrenching columns I have ever read, Mr. Gallagher mourns the passing of his wife of 20 years to cancer a couple weeks ago. My own family has felt the pain that cancer inflicts. My cousin died at age 42. Her husband of 17 years will never be the same. Their two children no longer have a mother. It is totally unfair, and I will never make sense of it. Maybe the Billy Joel song is true, that only the good die young. (READ MORE)

All American Blogger: A $50 Billion Bill for "prestige, esteem and respect" - The Senate approved the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), agreeing to give away $50 billion of American taxpayer money to African countries to help stop the spread of AIDS. Current estimates are that 33 million people worldwide suffer from the disease. That is less than one half of one percent of the total population. The Washington Post describes how AIDS in Africa was overstated: “The United Nations started to revise its estimates in light of the new studies in its 2004 report, reducing the number of infections in Africa by 4.4 million, back to the total four years earlier of 25 million. It also gradually decreased the overall infection rate for working-age adults in sub-Saharan Africa, from 9 percent in a 2002 report to 7.2 percent in its latest report, released in November.” (READ MORE)

Matt Sanchez: It's a Long Way Home - Looking anything but military, Robin Long awaits an impending deportation from Canadian soil. Three years ago Private Robin Long arrived at the Canadian border to request political asylum. Long was afraid for his life as the United States military, he alleged, wanted him to participate in an "illegal war of aggression in Iraq." Fresh out of bootcamp, during a time of war, Robin Long was sent to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division based out of Fort Carson, Colorado and was scheduled to deploy to Iraq along with 200 fellow soldiers out of a brigade numbering over 3,700. But Robin Long did not follow his fellow soldiers to Iraq. The United States Army reported Long AWOL on April 11, 2005, said Army spokesman Karen Linne. At the time of Robin Long's desertion, Fort Carson was preparing a memorial service for 10 soldiers from the brigade who had been killed in Iraq over a four-week period, from Feb. 8 to March 7. (READ MORE)

Harmless Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Big Government & Self-Reliance - I heard an interview of Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, today. She (again) stated how off-shore drilling for oil would not solve today's energy crisis, since we wouldn't be able to take advantage of any drilling for at least 5 years. She had all kinds of reasons why the "oil man in the White House" and his plan to help the energy situation were worthless; but the only solution she offered was a call to open up the strategic oil reserves to increase the oil supply and (hopefully) bring down prices. This struck me as a good example of the difference in approaches to problem solving between those who believe the Government can solve every ill and those who believe in self-reliance (as much as possible). Speaker Pelosi's proposed solution was for the Government to give away something put aside for true emergencies. (READ MORE)

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