November 12, 2007

Web Reconnaissance for 11/12/2007

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)
'24' Chief Scoffs at Hillary - Hollywood producer Joel Surnow dismissed as "nuts" the notion that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton can be elected president and said he and other conservatives in the entertainment industry are leaning toward supporting Republican Rudolph W. Giuliani's presidential campaign. (READ MORE)

Al-Maliki Trumpets Decline of Terror Acts - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said yesterday that suicide attacks and other bombings in the Iraqi capital have dropped dramatically since last year's high, calling it a sign of the end of sectarian violence. A top U.S. general here said he thinks the drop is sustainable, as Iraqis turn away from extremists. (READ MORE)

Bloomberg: U.N. Unsafe for Visitors - Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has threatened to halt visits to U.N. headquarters by New York City schoolchildren until a number of safety hazards are addressed. (READ MORE)

U.S. Plan for Pakistan Askew - The confrontation between Pakistan's two most powerful secular forces — the military led by President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistan People's Party led by Benazir Bhutto — is upsetting the neatly laid plans of U.S. officials, who foresaw the two of them joining forces against Islamist extremists. (READ MORE)

Hurdles Stall Plan For Iraqi Recruits - BAGHDAD -- The U.S. effort to organize nearly 70,000 local fighters to solidify security gains in Iraq is facing severe political and logistical challenges as U.S.-led forces struggle to manage the recruits and the central government resists incorporating them into the Iraqi police and army... (READ MORE)

Ethanol Backlash - Like water seeping out of the giant High Plains Ogallala aquifer, support for corn ethanol seems to be ebbing in Congress. As political news goes, this is of the miracle variety, but apparently the market distortions caused by ethanol mandates are finally having an impact. (READ MORE)

Royal Reprimand - Spain's King Juan Carlos is revered for his decisive role in restoring democracy in his country after the death of General Francisco Franco. Over the past quarter century, the Spanish royal has been a voice for civility and reconciliation, both in his home country and throughout the Spanish-speaking world. (READ MORE)

Arnold's Imperialism - "Our future depends on us taking action against global warming right now," Arnold Schwarzenegger said at a press conference last Thursday. And so California has sued the Environmental Protection Agency to force the EPA's hand on local laws that regulate carbon emissions from California automobiles. "We sue again, and sue again, and sue again, until we get it," the Governor promised. (READ MORE)

From the Front:
Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Finding the meaning of Veterans Day - I was wondering what I might say on this day. On Veterans Day, you're supposed to wax poetic, stir emotions, appeal to the patriotism that should well up deep down inside us all this day. I've seen the physical and emotional scars forming on my fellow soldiers here who have joined the ranks of our veterans. It's impossible to grasp the sacrifice. It's hard to find the words. But as I struggled to come up with something inspiring to share with the readers of this blog on this important day, inspiration found me instead in the chorus of some small voices. (READ MORE)

Those Wacky Iraqis: Veteran's Day - A year ago today I was in London for Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day) and the Lord Mayor's Parade which was the very next day. What I remember vividly is that the entire country comes to a stand still for two minutes on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year. It was originally a time set aside for the British public to remember their terrible losses in WWI but has since been magnified to remember all those lost in combat no matter which conflict. (READ MORE)

This War and Me: Veteran's Day to Me - Today, I have reached another milestone in my service to my country. Another special day has arrived as I am fighting a war far from home and again I am forced to sit back and think about what it means to me; to be a soldier on this day - Veteran's Day. Today, I read stories of celebration and remembrance of our military veterans and I take pride in being among that group of Americans. I am one who sacrifices selflessly in pursuit of a better life for me, my family and others. Today, I fight in the sand far from home to kill bad guys in their homes and not in ours. Today, I fight to help a country stand on its own so that they too may one day have the freedoms that America has. (READ MORE)

Northern Disclosure: Sandy land of Plastic - Like old Albert Einstein taught, time is relative. I was walking back across the sandy wasteland to my tent after returning back from leave and and realized with the help of others that I had not been away that long. Infact I had been on several missions that kept me away from my bunk alot longer than I had just spent with my family and friends. Those outside the Bad Voo Doo family propably didn't know that I went home on leave infact two soldiers thought I had been on a mission up north. Which was comforting to realize and know that life moves on without me. (READ MORE)

Michael Yon: Thank You - It was from Baqubah in February 2005 that I first wrote about the civil war in Iraq, although it wasn’t something that got much attention until the summer of 2006, and even then most of the attention was in the form of debate or denial. Ignoring the obvious civil war, along with having ignored the obvious insurgencies all the way back in 2003, led to uncountable Iraqi deaths and far more Coalition deaths than ever need be suffered. In retrospect, it’s hard to see how anyone missed growing the civil war 2005. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Afraid of a Slowly Improving Iraq - At the risk of scaring some people, the British Observer newspaper reports that students are returning to class in Baghdad: "It begins and ends with the children. They stayed away from the al- Gazaly school in southern Baghdad when the streets were murderous - their parents moved out and their PE teacher was shot dead during the mundane act of having a haircut. Now, one by one, cautiously, determinedly, noisily, they are returning to their desks, bringing the school back from the brink. Their hopeful faces reflect, perhaps, the new and fragile optimism dawning in Iraq." (READ MORE)

Far From Perfect: Officially Cav? - Due to a complete lack of anything interesting to write about, I bring you the boredom that is my current situation.... We are definitely winding down. My CHU is packed and I am just waiting on word to move to the temporary billets. We have to get Connexes inspected by customs which is a nightmare. Imagine packing a Railroad Boxcar to the hilt, then unpacking everything so customs can check it. Lastly, you pack it all back up so they can seal it. Still patrolling. Still going “outside the wire” daily. Everyone has short-timer syndrome. Every day seems to drag on and we have entered some weird dimension where time has stopped. Lastly, and probably the most interesting thing: (READ MORE)

Badger 6: A Different Veteran's Day Post - There will be many posts around the blogosphere today thanking Veterans of all the services and for the various times they served. Those men and women did not choose the war or peace that was visited upon their service, rather they stood by, ready to serve their nation when called. The Badgers Forward Veterans Day post though is dedicated to the Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Not only were you ready, willing and able to deploy and serve, you have tangible results to show for your sacrifice and efforts. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Pete DuPont: Unions 2, Children 1 - One hundred eleven years ago, in 1896, the state of Utah joined the Union. Today its Legislature is focused on enacting sound policies that will help improve its education system. Its citizens, though, have a different view, for in Tuesday's referendum they voted down a very strong parental school choice bill. Last February the Utah Legislature enacted the Parent Choice in Education Act, giving parents the option of a $500 to $3,000 scholarship, depending upon their household income, to send their child to the private school of their choice instead of the public school they are attending. (READ MORE)

Norman Pearlstine: A Test for Mr. Mukasey - The Senate hearings that led to the confirmation of Michael Mukasey as the next attorney general suggest he will be tough on crime but careful about the law. He declared torture unconstitutional and warned President Bush that the Constitution applies to him as well as all other government officials. Although he didn't endorse "waterboarding"--simulated drowning--he was right to withhold his opinion on the legality of its use on suspected terrorists before being fully briefed on the facts and circumstances surrounding the practice. (READ MORE)

Suzanne Fields: The Wall Came Tumbling Down - Nearly 20 years ago, the Berlin Wall finally came tumbling down. If Humpty Dumpty had been foolish enough to sit on it, that's where he would have had his fatal fall. Not all the East German guards nor all the Stasi operatives who spied on everyone could have put poor Humpty together again. It was a defining moment for mankind, exposing the ultimate failure of the brutal and goofy Marxist economic system. As John F. Kennedy noted on his visit to the Wall in 1963: "There are some who say communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin." (READ MORE)

Donald Lambro: Dems Tie Up Fiscal 2008 Appropriations Bill in Pork - Despite the Democrats' pledge to get control of their addiction to wasteful spending, their mountain of pork-barrel provisions has prevented Congress from passing its appropriations bills for fiscal year 2008. Exhibit A is a Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill taken up by the Senate last week that was filled to the brim with pork (also known as earmarks). This "minibus" bill was engineered by Democrats attempting to draw just enough votes to make it veto-proof. (READ MORE)

Robert D. Novak: A Failed Congressional Ploy - The ploy had been hatched behind closed doors by Democratic leaders of both houses. A pork-laden appropriations bill filled with $1 billion in earmarks would combine with veto-proof spending for veterans. Instead, the two measures were decoupled in a Senate party-line vote last Tuesday. The Democratic scheme to present President George W. Bush with a bill that he could not veto seemed a clever strategy, but it was based on presumption of Republican ignorance and cowardice. As late as last Monday, savvy GOP Senate staffers predicted Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's decoupling motion would fail. (READ MORE)

Michael Barone: Teacher Unions' Gain Is Children's Loss - Education is not ordinarily thought to be in the purview of a Federal Reserve chairman. So it's striking when Alan Greenspan in his memoir, "The Age of Turbulence," raises the subject. "Our primary and secondary education system," he writes, "is deeply deficient in providing homegrown talent to operate our increasingly complex infrastructure." The result: "Too many of our students languish at too low a level of skill upon graduation, adding to the supply of lesser-skilled labor in the face of an apparently declining demand." (READ MORE)

Phil Gingrey: Veterans funding by Veterans Day - This is the first time in the last 20 years that the Congress has failed to send a single appropriations bill to the President at this point in the fiscal year. The most egregious example of this abdication of responsibility is the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill. More than four months have passed since the House overwhelmingly approved the largest increase in veterans funding in history, and yet the Democratic Majority has failed to send this bill to President Bush. Instead this week, the Democrats attempted to use the popular veterans funding legislation as a vehicle to advance a controversial bill that had no chance of being approved on its own, and moreover, had absolutely nothing to do with veterans! (READ MORE)

Marine Historian: Iraq veterans earn thanks - As we pause to remember and appreciate all our veterans, there is increasing cause to give particular thanks to our most recent cohort; those who have served in Iraq. The American public has been steadfast in its support for Operation Iraqi Freedom servicemen/women. They recognize the bravery and selflessness of these troops and are conscious of the difficulty of the mission. Yet, until recently, it wasn’t clear to many outside the war zone what was being accomplished in the larger sense of American national interests. For much of the post-Saddam phase of the war, it has seemed outwardly more a matter of “keeping the lid on” than moving forward. Recent events and reporting indicate this status quo is beginning to change. (READ MORE)

Cassy Fiano: Happy Veteran's Day - To all those who are serving or have served: thank you. There are not words to adequately thank those who stood up and answered the call to serve their country. There are not words to adequately describe the gratitude and humility I -- and most Americans -- feel. From the veterans who fought to liberate Europe in World War II, those who fought in Vietnam and Korea, and to those who are fighting to bring freedom to the Middle East -- we are forever in your debt. Each and every person serving in our military is a hero, and they deserve our thanks and our support. (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: Avast! - Over the weekend, I saw this story that really caught my attention. It seems some pirates had seized the crew of a cargo ship, but a United States Navy helicopter showed up and demanded their release. The pirates complied, the crew was returned to their ship, and all was well. First, I was reminded of how important it is that we have a strong navy. While it is true that we are the unquestioned ruler of the seven seas, with only one nation (Communist China) even close to posing a potential challenge (and they're years away from being able to project power more than a couple of hundred miles from their shores), there are other threats out there that need to be met. Fighting piracy has been a function of navies since time immemorial. (READ MORE)

The Torch: The Dead - I know that In Flanders Fields is the tradional poem for Remembrance Day. The iconic stanzas most of us memorized in grade-school are eloquent and evocative, which is why I chose the title of this blog from among them.
But Rupert Brooke's The Dead has haunted my heart since I first saw the opening lines chiseled into the stone of the Memorial Arch at the Royal Military College of Canada. (READ MORE)

TigerHawk: Is it victory? - If you have an open mind about the military progress that is being made in Iraq, you ought to read two posts, one from Greyhawk of the Mudville Gazette and the other from Richard "Wretchard" Fernandez of the Belmont Club. Roughly, Greyhawk looks at counterinsurgency, Petraeus-style, from a tactical level, and Fernandez at an operational level. Both are well worth reading, as is this comment of Wretchard's: "It's interesting to reflect, on Veterans Day, that all bravery can ever buy is time. What we do with that gift of time, so dearly purchased, is always what momentary victory is all about. It's a chance, nothing more." (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Thank You - Today we observe Veteran's Day. It is truly humbling to recognize how much we owe to those who gave so much for our freedoms. In far too many places on this planet, we would not have the opportunity to write whatever we desire, to worship however we desire, to earn the living we desire, to criticize those who are powerful, and to vote them out of office when they fail us. Our freedoms are forever at risk. Thank a veteran today. And take some time to thank those who put their lives on the line to protect us today from a new enemy who desires nothing more than to destroy our freedoms. (READ MORE)

Right Wing Nut House: Flowers on a Grave with no Name - There are some cemeteries in my little corner of America that are surprisingly old. I say that because there is so much newness surrounding us here that it’s easy to forget that this part of Illinois was settled before the Civil War. First the fur traders, then the farmers, and finally the merchant and the railroad man began to fill up this part of northern Illinois beginning in the 1820’s. Some of the best farm acreage on planet earth – thousands of hectares – has been plowed over to make room for gleaming office buildings and cookie cutter strip malls. The rich, black loam that at one time nurtured the growth of food crops that fed middle America now supports the suburbanite’s lawn and rose garden – a trade off for progress that some might find disturbing but which actually defines America in more ways than one. (READ MORE)

Ericka Andersen: To Our Beloved Veterans - I owe this day very much to the veterans of our country. To the 21-year-old kid who just got back from a year in Afghanistan to the 90-year-old World War Two vet in a wheelchair in Nebraska. Most especially, to the ones who lost their lives, who paid for our freedom -- for standing by America and making so much possible. America endures and provides hope to so many across the globe. But that survival would be impossible without those who hold us up with their combat boots, iron discipline, and fierce dedication to something greater. They exist for something more. They are the beginning of what has become known as “paying it forward.” (READ MORE)

The Redhunter: Wahabbists in Northern Virginia - Last week I wrote about Hate in London Mosques, and in the piece mentioned the Saudi Islamic Academy in northern Virginia. Lo and behold but just the other day Stephen Spriell has an article on the academy over at National Review. Appropriated titled "Virginia is for Radicals? A troubling school", Spriell writes that the "curriculum(of the academy) has been the target of legitimate criticism for its use of textbooks that promote jihad and justify violence against Christians and Jews." Their website, as you might imagine, makes them look like just another school, albiet a religous one. The truth of the matter is that according to a 2006 study by Freedom House and the Institute for Gulf Studies, which studied the textbooks at this and other Saudi schools: (READ MORE)

Neptunus Lex: A two-front war - A vector implies knowledge of position and velocity, the latter comprising both direction and scale. In his 1996 book “The Clash of Civilizations”, Harvard professor of political science Samuel P. Huntington took a look at the position we were at in Balkans and analyzed it in the light of history to predict the vector of several civilizations, including the West. His book was best remembered for his politically incorrect statement that “Islam has bloody borders,” which was taken as controversial by the multiculturalists then at the helm of the national dialogue, despite the fact that, you know: It does. But perhaps it ought to be better remembered for its closing chapter on the future of civilizations, especially - at least from my own parochial perspective - the West. How does Professor Huntington’s vector analysis hold up, eleven years on? (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Pakistan frees Mullah Obaidullah, other senior Taliban leaders - President Pervez Musharraf's promise to hunt the Taliban as part of its suspension of the constitution and a virtual state of emergency rings hollow as the Taliban's grip on the northwest Frontier Province tightens. Newsweek reported the Pakistani government has released several senior Taliban commanders captured inside Pakistani territory over the past year. The leaders were among 25 Taliban exchanged for over 200 Pakistani soldiers captured by South Waziristan commander Baitullah Mehsud in late August. Among those freed from Pakistani jails are Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, Amir Khan Haqqani, two brothers of slain Taliban commander Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Usmani, and Baitullah Mehsud's cousin. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Another Step Towards Reconciliation? - One of the more remarkable stories of the "surge" has been the alliance of native insurgencies with American and Iraqi forces to drive out foreign terrorists. Everyone understands this as a marriage of convenience. The insurgents made the mistake of allying themselves with the foreigners and discovered that the American infidels had much more respect for Iraq than the Islamist extremists did. After experiencing the brutality of al-Qaeda in Iraq, the native insurgents decided to cast their lot with the US and the elected Iraqi government, at least temporarily. Nouri al-Maliki has broached an amnesty plan that may keep them in the fold permanently: (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Letters for Lions - Woman bites dog, an Iraq-deployed soldier’s op-ed in a major American newspaper that isn’t a Bush-bash. That’s different. Maj. Elizabeth Robbins at WaPo reports on all the Americans who didn’t get the memo on how they’re supposed to be disconnected from the military: “BAGHDAD — As the veterans of World War II pass too quickly into history, their ranks are being replaced by a new ‘greatest generation.’ The war on terrorism is creating veterans at a rate not seen in decades.” (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Hell no, we won’t go - Finally, someone comes out against the draft - Just in time for Veterans Day, I received a press release from George Phillies for President 2008. He’s a Libertarian, not a baseball team. He opposes the draft. Not only that but he opposes the alternative service it would bring. John Edwards is among those calling for young people to do what Edwards didn’t do: Play soldier or play social worker for 2 years. (READ MORE)

Chickenhawk Express: IVAW Members at Fort Drum Got Some 'Splaining To Do - Oh the tragedy.... those two active duty Ft. Drum soldiers, Eli Wright and Phil Aliff, who spilled their guts to Dahr "liar" Jamail about "search and avoid" missions got called to the principal's office and are now crying about it... “Update November 3, 2007 The Army has begun a very official ‘unofficial’ investigation of out-spokenIraq veteran Eli Wright, an active duty soldier at Fort Drum, New York. Apparently the story below prompted right-wing bloggers to press the military to take action against Eli for either the actions described, or simply talking about them. The military might take action to keep ‘search and avoid’ missions from again becoming an ‘open secret’ as during the Vietnam War. We'll keep you posted on developments, including possible action alerts if needed.” Point of clarification - the "right-wing bloggers" (ahem - ME) asked Fort Drum for verification of the claims made by these two guys. I mean if you're gonna make claims about the members of the Military shirking their duties, you should be ready to back up your big talk. Is it too much to ask for validation about such claims? I don't think so and neither should you. (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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