November 28, 2007

Web Reconnaissance for 11/28/2007

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

In the News: (Registration may be required to read some stories)
As Lott Leaves the Senate, Compromise Appears to Be a Lost Art - In January, as a dormant Senate chamber entered its fourth hour of inaction and a major ethics bill lay tangled in knots, Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) took to the Senate floor with a plaintive plea. (READ MORE)

Palestinians Give Voice to Contempt for Annapolis Talks - JERUSALEM, Nov. 27 -- Thousands of Hamas supporters rallied in the streets of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday against the U.S.-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, and a second armed Palestinian movement vowed to intensify its attacks on Israel... (READ MORE)

In France, 'a Bomb Waiting for the Match'- VILLIERS-LE-BEL, France, Nov. 27 -- On the morning after a mob of angry youths torched the library in this small, immigrant-heavy town north of Paris during a second night of rioting, a group of local leaders stood outside the charred remains Tuesday and tried to make sense of what they saw. (READ MORE)

Bill Clinton Tells Iowans He Opposed Iraq From Start - Former president Bill Clinton said yesterday that he "opposed Iraq from the beginning," glossing over the more nuanced views of the war he has expressed over time. Clinton made the remarks while campaigning for his wife in Iowa -- a state where many Democrats are against the war -- and as he expressed bitterness over getting a tax cut with money that could have been spent on the military. (READ MORE)

In Praise of 'Thought Competition' - Monday: After a long day at his New York City private school, Ben, 16, heads to my creative writing lab to work on his heartfelt memoir about his parents' bitter divorce. Tuesday: Alison, 15, rushes from her elite private school in the Bronx to work on her short screenplay about a gifted, mean and eccentric boy. Lily, 13, pops in whenever she can to polish her hilarious short story narrated by an insomniac owl. (READ MORE)

Hollywood Bombs - What if they held a war movie, and no one came? That's the tale of woe at this year's fall box office, where Tinseltown's bleak vision of Iraq has many movie-goers taking a pass. Films from Brian De Palma's low-budget screed "Redacted" to Robert Redford's star-studded "Lions for Lambs" are playing to empty seats. Small wonder. (READ MORE)

Flat Tax Fred - Fred Thompson's Presidential campaign has been struggling, in part because of a sense that he lacks passion and an agenda. But late last week he unveiled a tax reform that is more ambitious than anything we've seen so far from the rest of the GOP field. Mr. Thompson wants to abolish the death tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax and cut the corporate income tax rate to 27% from 35%. (READ MORE)

Olmert, Abbas Set Goal - President Bush and the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority yesterday agreed to work toward finalizing a peace agreement by the end of 2008, at a summit attended by more than 40 nations at the U.S. Naval Academy. (READ MORE)

Musharraf Relinquishes Military Role - President Pervez Musharraf finally removed his military uniform today, completing what has become the longest striptease in Pakistan's history. (READ MORE)

China's Action Troubles Admiral - China's refusal to allow U.S. warships to visit Hong Kong recently was carried out to protest U.S. sales of Patriot missile equipment to Taiwan, Bush administration officials said yesterday. (READ MORE)

From the Front:
ETT PA-C: Free For All - Some of you know that we've been building our camp up out back so we can have our own little part of the world without the ANP staring at us all the time. Well, we have 50% of it done and we should be able to move in within the week. I'll be so glad! You have no idea. We are the only embedded team with the type of mentoring that we do. Most teams live on a compound near by. We live in the same compound about 10ft away. Gets old after a while. You just want a little bit of space. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Media Say Iraq Coverage Inaccurate - There are those who say that I have been a bit too harsh on the journalists who cover Iraq. But a brand new survey tells me that I haven't been hard enough. Because the opinion of reporters indicates that the journalists themselves are even more critical of their own Iraq coverage. Here's what the poll found: "The survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center showed that many U.S. journalists believe coverage has painted too rosy a picture of the conflict." (READ MORE)

Sgt HooK: The Multaka Night Watch - They’re tired of the bombings. They’re tired of the killing. They’re tired of not counting. They call themselves Sahwa, an Arabic term that translates to Awakening. Their awakening comes in the form of a neighborhood watch. "The neighborhood watch programs were established Nov. 14, two weeks after local citizens approached Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, with the idea. More than 1,000 citizens showed up, ready to be recruited to take up arms in defense against the terrorists in the region." (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: MWR makeover - It's not exactly "Extreme Makeover: Camp Vulcan Edition," but the MWR room certainly has a lot of new life. Actual couches to sit in!Not only did we deck it out with Christmas decorations, but we have furniture, games and more. The reason we had a five-ton that broke down in Kabul recently was because we needed the truck to haul back some exercise equipment, furniture and MWR items. Our MWR room was pretty barebones, except for a pool table, some laptops and a small television (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Austin Bay: Al-Qaida's Emerging Defeat - The postwar relationship between Iraq and the United States is now a broader public topic. This week, the White House and the Iraqi government announced that state-to-state discussions are taking place with the goal of reaching detailed agreements that will govern Iraq and America's long-term political, economic and military ties. Iraqis have asked for "an enduring relationship with America." I use the term "broader public topic" because this matter has been a subject of constant discussion since April 2003, with little of that discussion hush-hush. (READ MORE)

Paul Greenberg: The Wasteland: the Presidential Campaign So Far - Lincoln-Douglas this isn't. Once again the issues being debated in this year's presidential campaign are of the greatest importance - war or peace, freedom or slavery, national unity or a house divided against itself. But today's debaters do not rise to the stature of the questions facing the country and the world. Both major parties have platforms and policies and soundbites to offer, but neither yet offers a clear vision. Their leaders are adept enough in the give-and-take of political repartee, but the object of the game has become how to echo the voters' concerns, not shape them. (READ MORE)

John Stossel: The Free Market Does It Better - Another global warming skeptic has dared speak up. Meteorologist John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel, calls global warming "the greatest scam in history". "Environmental extremists, notable politicians among them create this wild 'scientific' scenario of the civilization threatening environmental consequences from Global Warming unless we adhere to their radical agenda. I have read dozens of scientific papers. I have talked with numerous scientists. There is no runaway climate change. The impact of humans on climate is not catastrophic. Our planet is not in peril. In time, a decade or two, the outrageous scam will be obvious." (READ MORE)

Ben Shapiro: The Democrats' Experience Gap - None of the Democratic frontrunners is qualified to be president of the United States. How do I know? They say so themselves. This week, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., attacked odds-on-favorite Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., explaining that Hillary's years in the White House weren't her years -- they were her husband's. "The fact of the matter is that Sen. Clinton is claiming basically the entire eight years of the Clinton presidency as her own, except for the stuff that didn't work out," Obama said. "There is no doubt that Bill Clinton had faith in [Hillary] and consulted with her on issues, in the same way that I would consult with Michelle [Obama's wife], if there were issues. (READ MORE)

Kathleen Parker: Survival of the Stupidest - Hey, did you hear the one about the woman who aborted her kid so she could save the planet? That's no joke, but Darwin must be chuckling somewhere. Toni Vernelli was one of two women recently featured in a London Daily Mail story about environmentalists who take their carbon footprint very, very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that Vernelli aborted a pregnancy and, by age 27, had herself sterilized. Baby-making, she says, is "selfish" and "all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet." (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: Fuzzy Math: A Nationwide Epidemic - Do you know what math curriculum your child is being taught? Are you worried that your third-grader hasn't learned simple multiplication yet? Have you been befuddled by educational jargon such as "spiraling," which is used to explain why your kid keeps bringing home the same insipid busywork of cutting, gluing and drawing? And are you alarmed by teachers who emphasize "self-confidence" over proficiency while their students fall further and further behind? Join the club. Across the country, from New York City to Seattle, parents are wising up to math fads like "Everyday Math." Sounds harmless enough, right? It's cleverly marketed as a "University of Chicago" program. (READ MORE)

Jonah Goldberg: At Peace with Pax Americana - The United States is getting tagged as an "empire" from all quarters. Indeed, it's been a century since the notion of an American empire got such wide circulation, and back then Washington truly had designs on such expansion. (Google "Spanish-American War" if you're interested.) The empire charge has long been a staple of the political extremes. It's even bubbled up in the presidential race. Lefty Rep. Dennis Kucinich insists that we must abandon "the ambitions of empire." Hyper-libertarian Rep. Ron Paul says we could afford health care if we weren't running a "world empire." (READ MORE)

Michael McBride: Kerry Will Go Down “Swinging” in Round Two - Naval Aviation hopefuls are trained to box. The Navy is not really trying to develop the next Mike Tyson, but they have a specific purpose for this training and it serves its purpose. The boxing program is designed to test three things about the flyboy wannabes; their response to training under duress, their physical fitness, and their mettle. All of the qualities that it takes to be a viable aviator in combat, post-shoot down survival, or life in a POW environment. For anyone that has boxed, jab-jab-hook is as easy as it comes on the heavy bag or in front of the mirror, but throw in a couple of rounds of shuffling around the ring, and take a few shots to the brain/housing group, and jab-jab-hook becomes more like walking a tight rope in a hurricane. (READ MORE)

Mary Katharine Ham: Anderson Cooper on Choosing Questions From the YouTube Madness - Republican candidates are gearing up for a fight in St. Petersburg at Wednesday night’s CNN/YouTube debate, as critical mailers and rhetorical punches have begun to fly with just five weeks to go until primary voting kicks off. This is the debate that almost wasn’t. Republican candidates, skeptical of the user-generated questions and how they’d be chosen, at first declined invitations, but changed their minds after a flurry of debate within the right-wing blogosphere and mainstream media. (READ MORE)

Michael Medved: Gloom-and-Doomers Wrong on U.S. "Moral Collapse" - The United States has displayed a remarkable and long-standing tendency not only to tolerate, but to honor and reward, those who decry the nation’s morality and predict its imminent and inevitable doom. Consider Pat Buchanan’s new bestseller, “Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology and Greed are Tearing America Apart.” This magnum opus follows his similarly cheerful (and successful) releases, “State of Emergency” and “The Death of the West.” In the opening pages of the most recent book, “Pitchfork Pat” dramatically declaims: (READ MORE)

John Fund: English-Only Showdown - Should the Salvation Army be able to require its employees to speak English? You wouldn't think that's controversial. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding up a $53 billion appropriations bill funding the FBI, NASA and Justice Department solely to block an attached amendment, passed by both the Senate and House, that protects the charity and other employers from federal lawsuits over their English-only policies. The U.S. used to welcome immigrants while at the same time encouraging assimilation. Since 1906, for example, new citizens have had to show "the ability to read, write and speak ordinary English." (READ MORE)

Joseph Bottum: Trading Places - If the news of major breakthroughs in cell research should turn out to be correct, we are about to witness something like victory in the fight over embryonic stem cells. And that will open a nest of interesting questions, beginning with this one: All those editorialists and columnists who have, over the past 10 years, howled and howled about Luddites and religious fanatics thwarting science and frustrating medicine--were they really interested in technology and health, or were they just using all that as a handy stick with which to whack their political opponents? (READ MORE)

A Newt One: Treachery at Annapolis - From President Bush's remarks at the Annapolis Peace Conference: taken out of context and interspersed with my comments. [Emphasis added for clarity] “The Palestinian people are blessed with many gifts and talents. They want the opportunity to use those gifts to better their own lives and build a better future for their children. They want the dignity that comes with sovereignty and independence. They want justice and equality under the rule of law. They want freedom from violence and fear.” So, why did they elect HAMAS to a majority in their legislative body? How are those statements to be believed in the face of "from the river to the sea", "a million martyrs marching to Jerusalem and “With our soul, with our blood, we will sacrifice for Palestine.” ? If they wanted peace they could have made it any damn day in the last 60 years, including today. They choose not to. (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: Iran Celebrates Not Attending Annapolis With Missile Claim - Iran wasn't invited to the party in Annapolis, but they're celebrating anyways. With a new 1,200 mile range missile. The AP report posts a most curious caveat: “Many of Iran's weapons development claims have not been independently verified.” Heh. In fact, many of Iran's weapons development claims have actually been debunked or show bogus footage or footage swiped from other weapons tests. (READ MORE)

A Soldier's Mind: God And Country: The Untold Stories Of The American Military - Lately, the movie industry has bombarded us with their anti-war, anti-Troops sentiments in recent movies that have been released. Apparently most of the country, is not real impressed with their product, as they’ve not done well in the box office. I’ve not watched any of them and doubt that I will. Many of these movies, depict our Troops as blood thirsty thugs and murders and even go so far, as to imply that their belief is that those who refuse to serve are heroes in their eyes. We know better and thankfully, a director/producer feels the same way that we do. I was recently contacted about a new movie that is in the works about our Troops and the fantastic humanitarian work that they do in other countries. Things we don’t hear about in the media. (READ MORE)

Donald Douglas: Israel's Right to Exist is Non-Negotiable - Israeli and Palestinian negotiators reached agreement today to enter into formal diplomatic negotiations on a possible peace treaty, the Washington Post reports. But the opening statments by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas - who both made reference to the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees - indicates how deeply problematic progress toward compromise is likely to be: “Abbas referred to a U.N. resolution that Palestinians believe gives them a right to return to their land in Israel, while Olmert mentioned a 2004 letter that President Bush gave former Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon which said the return of such refugees was unrealistic.” (READ MORE)

Ace of Spades: The "Thought Crimes Act" Threatens - The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 is poised to be come the next greatest threat to American democracy. No, really: "not since the "Patriot Act" of 2001 has any bill so threatened our constitutionally guaranteed rights." I looked for a generally unbiased article to link for you, but everything out there about the bill opposes it. It doesn't look like legacy media have picked up the story yet. If you like, you can look through the legislative text. The bill passed the House in October by a vote of 404 to 6. A Senate committee is considering it now. (READ MORE)

Atlas Shrugs: "I do hope that France will survive" - Riots have broken out for a third night in the poor French suburbs as violence is spreading despite the heavy police presence. “Youths rampaged for a third night in the tough suburbs north of Paris and violence spread to a southern city late yesterday as police struggled to contain rioters who have burned cars and buildings and -- in an ominous turn -- shot at officers. A senior police union official warned that ‘urban guerrillas’ had joined the unrest, saying the violence was worse than during three weeks of rioting that raged around French cities in 2005, when firearms were rarely used.” Sophie, our intrepid correspondent in France, stayed up late into the night on the third straight night of Muslim rioting to file this report for us. She signed off, “Many kisses I do hope that France will survive.” (READ MORE)

John Donovan: Following through - You may remember that I got invited to the White House and, with my Band of Brothers, got to spend an hour with the President of the United States, forever being branded a sycophant in the process. I asked a question. “‘Mr. President, since you clearly see the war as necessary, and lasting beyond your administration, how do you set the conditions to ensure that the effort will continue beyond 2008, regardless of who wins the White House?’ His answer was along the lines I expected, and neutrally stated. Mr. Bush responded, ‘The private rhetoric of the occupant of the Oval Office may be much different from their public rhetoric once they have access to the information the President has access to.’ He added that ‘Iraq has asked for a permanent political, economic and military relationship with the US’ which I took to mean that Mr. Bush would be putting formal relationships into place that would make it more difficult for his successor to just repudiate things.” Well, some Dem candidate rhetoric has changed over time, and it was reported that President Bush had been talking to the candidates about that very issue… (READ MORE)

Augean Stables: The Sweet taste of Moral Schadenfreude: Archbishop of Canterbury Denounces US to Muslim Journal - An interesting article in the London Times by Abul Taher discusses an interview with Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Emel, a British Muslim lifestyle magazine. (Actually the article is itself a fairly editorial write-up of the interview. I wonder how Archbishop Williams feels about it.) Given that the Times’ article makes Williams’ even more anti-American than (his own words in) the interview, it raises an interesting question we will address at the end of this post. Is the author doing a hatchet job on the Archbishop by making him sound even more ludicrously anti-American than he really was? Or is he trying to spell out for his readership the anti-American lessons that the Archbishop was too subtle to articulate as clearly as the “reporter” wanted? (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Brand A and Brand B - How well would a country with no almost no accountability to the public, able to apply unrestricted amounts of brutality and firepower and unconstrained by legal or humanitarian rights fare against a Jihadi foe? While those who believe that President Bush actually is Hitler may think the foregoing is a reference to the US campaign in Iraq, it is more accurately a reference to the Russian campaign in Chechnya. The Russian campaign in Chechnya is interesting as a control case to Iraq not only because it lets the historian examine a counterinsurgency waged without American political constraints but also provides a real-world benchmark for what constitutes a truly brutal campaign as opposed to one only imagined that way by Hollywood directors like Brian de Palma. (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Schumer Now Likes Arab Emirate Business - A few years back Dubai wanted to purchase several ports in the United States. Democrats, trying to make people believe they were tough on security, raised a stink about the security implications of such a move. The deal was eventually halted and the Democrats got their way though there was no real reason for their opposition. Interestingly, none of their toadies made comments about hating people with brown skin. It was just accepted that a partner in the war on terror would undermine our security and cause us harm. Chuck Schumer was one of the loudest (and most annoying) voices to express opposition. (READ MORE)

Dafydd: Moslems, Mormons, and Mitt - Everybody seems to be jabbering about this supposed faux pas of Mitt Romney in response to a question by Mansoor Ijaz; but no such judgment can be made without knowing not only the exact question Ijaz asked... but also the preceding conversation, which set the context of the question. Power Line was the first place I read it; now it's been discussed on Captain's Quarters (and here, too), Real Clear Politics, National Review, and goodness knows where else, mostly but not exclusively to Romney's discredit. Here's the buzz. According to an opinion piece by Mansoor Ijaz in the Christian Science Monitor, the following exchange took place at a Mitt Romney fundraiser in Las Vegas earlier this month: (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: Will the State Department Play Along? - Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates made a provocative speech today at Kansas State University. It was sweeping and far reaching in terms of the mobilization and leveraging of symbiotic power of the United States as a complete, holistic nation state, to effect and achieve its ends, those ends being most particularly the security of the same. This symbiotic power couples multiple power centers (diplomacy, monetary, military, etc.) in a way that makes the combination of them more potent than the particulars taken separately, or so the vision goes. At The Captain’s Journal we have been hard on the State Department and their lack of participation in such endeavors, but Gates has laid down the gauntlet. In part, Gates said: (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: The Cabbie Factor - The last few months have shown a remarkable decline in violence in Baghdad and Iraq, and the Western press has finally begun reporting it in earnest. For a while, the media would report the numbers but include enough anecdotal reporting to cast doubt on them. Now even the anecdotal reporting supports the progress made by the Americans and Iraqis in dialing down the violence. Today's Washington Post reports on the cabbie factor for measuring progress: “Haider Abbas, a 36-year-old taxi driver, had only a few moments to answer what is often a life-or-death question in this city: Would he drive a passenger home? The home, on that scorching afternoon last month, happened to be in Adhamiyah, a notoriously dangerous neighborhood where several cabbies had been gunned down. Abbas hadn't been there in two years. But the fare pleaded that it had become safer, so the cabbie reluctantly agreed to go.” (READ MORE)

Noah Shachtman: How Tech Almost Lost the War - And How We Still Might Win - My Iraq story for WIRED magazine is finally out. It's an attempt at explaining why we've seen such a drop in violence in Iraq in recent months, and why it took so long to see a shift. My short answer: the U.S. dropped its somewhat techno-centric approach to prosecuting the war -- and started focusing on Iraq's social, political, tribal, and cultural networks instead. Take a look, and let me know what you think. The war was launched, in part, on a premise that you could wipe out more bad guys with fewer troops, as long as those troops were networked together. Businesses like Wal-Mart made their supply chain more efficient through information technology; the military could do the same with its "kill chain," the theory of network-centric warfare went. (READ MORE)

Dr. Sanity: The Path to Self-Destruction - A long time ago I attended a seminar run by noted philosopher and author Dr. Tibor Machan, and during the course of the discussion, he asked us to consider the question (and I'm paraphrasing), "In a democratic and free society would it be legitimate to vote in a dictatorship?" The question took me by surprise because I had never even considered the possibility that free people would consciously and deliberately choose a totalitarian system. Of course I was wrong about that. Modern history gives us many examples of exactly that scenario transpiring (consider the Palestinians and what passes for democracy in Iran, or the "99%" of the vote in Iraq for Saddam. (Consider Jimmy Carter smiling and blessing such travesties if you really want to be ill). (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Clinton lies about Iraq - Do we really want to bring back this soap opera for 4 more years? Patrick Healy of the New York Times reported that Bill Clinton is telling people on the campaign trail that he opposed the war in Iraq “from the beginning.” Of course that’s not the truth. CNN reported on June 23, 2004: “‘I have repeatedly defended President Bush against the left on Iraq, even though I think he should have waited until the U.N. inspections were over,’ Clinton said in a Time magazine interview that will hit newsstands Monday, a day before the publication of his book ‘My Life.’” (READ MORE)

The Discerning Texan: Another Hillary "Funny Money" Man Pops up in Texas - A money bundler for Hillary Clinton in South Texas named Alonzo Cantu has, according to the Washington Post, raised some $640,000 in Hidalgo County, Texas--an area along the Mexican border in which one would be being very kind in describing as 'not exactly the Hamptons'. In the same area, over the same timeframe. Barack Obama has raised $2,086. Lee Cary looks closely at the Cantu story, and recalls that it evokes the ghosts of LBJ's 1947 stolen election in Duval County, also in South Texas: “When the Texas Election Bureau closed on Election Day, Stevenson led by 854 votes. But the counting wasn't done, and neither was the voting. Resolution of the contested results would be a precursor of the 2000 Presidential Election drama in Florida, except more crudely complicated. Johnson eventually won by 87 votes in an election where 988,295 votes were allegedly cast. ‘Allegedly’ is the operative word.” (READ MORE)

Democracy Project: Waffling On Winning - San Diego, like most metropolitan areas, has a liberal center surrounded by a more conservative suburbia, in San Diego’s case a bit less liberal in-all than most. Its major newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune exhibits similar tendencies, its reporting mostly drawn from liberal newswires (although often blended to get better info) but its editorial and opinion pages containing less liberal lock-step than most. This has been played out in its recent editorials on Iraq, exhibiting the lack of clear-sightedness that plagues our media, and how secondary markets are affected by the leading memes that emanate from New York and Washington newswires. (READ MORE)

Gribbit's Word: Symbolic Promises: An Effort to Buy Votes - The Dems who gained control of Congress promised to better the plight of the working poor by increasing the federal minimum wage. They campaigned on it but they couldn’t get it to pass on its own merit. They finally pulled one over by tagging it on the War Supplemental thereby sneaking it passed the debate process of the Senate. This said, who does it really help? Not the working poor. A Heritage Foundation study of the then proposed increase in the federal minimum wage suggested that the only people who would actually benefit from an increase in the federal minimum wage would be high school students, college students, those working second jobs and the like. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Terrorism Summit - Didn’t Dr. Evil do this? Ahmadinejad is gathering terrorist leaders who were snubbed by the United States at Annapolis … not that they’d want to be caught dead shaking hands with filthy Zionists … for a big counter-peace summit in Tehran. AFP: “TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran said on Tuesday that it had invited Palestinian militant factions to a meeting in Tehran aimed at countering a US-hosted Middle East peace conference seeking to kickstart the peace process.” (READ MORE)

The Monkey Tennis Centre: Facts are held hostage at the BBC - Alan Johnston, the BBC's Gaza correspondent who was held hostage for nearly four months by Islamic terrorists before being freed in July, is probably the first kidnap victim to develop Stockholm syndrome before being abducted. His solidly pro-Palestinian reporting made him an unlikely target for the militants, and as Melanie Phillips has written, his kidnapping was very likely staged as a prelude to Hamas’s takeover of Gaza a few weeks later. That’s not to belittle Johnston’s ordeal. But the way the BBC has milked the episode to wallow in self-importance, and generally promote its global brand, leaves a nasty taste in the mouth – to say nothing of its kid-gloves approach to the terrorists of Hamas in the months since. (READ MORE)

Amy Proctor: The Misreported War in Afghanistan - Bottom Line Up Front: The war in Iraq isn't the only engagement misrepresented by the media. Progress in Afghanistan is also overlooked and misreported. U.S. GEN Dan McNeill, now NATO commander in Afghanistan, sat down with Bill O'Reilly in that country and said the media isn't accurately portraying the successes of the war. GEN McNeill was commander of 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, basically the daddy of the 82nd, 10th Mountain Division, etc., when we were at Bragg in 2000-2004. (READ MORE)

Political Pistachio: What's the Point? - I hear the question, "What's the Point?" often. It seems that folks are becoming tired of business as usual, but don't seem to think their voice carries much weight in the broad scheme of things. Republicans of late desire a resurgence of conservative values, a kind of Red November, hoping for the emergence of some kind of Reaganesque candidate, but quickly realizing that none of the Presidential Candidates fit the bill. It seems as if Conservatives fear that during these uncertain days only the worst possible scenario looms on the horizon. And as the concern for a return to conservatism arises, the news offers little solace. (READ MORE)

Kim Zigfeld: Confronting Russian Barbarism - The Moscow Times reports today that "the European Commission, France and Britain added their voices Monday to criticism from Washington of the police crackdown on weekend opposition rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg" which led the arrest of major opposition political leaders Garry Kasparov and Boris Nemtsov. It would be as if George Bush had arrested Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for attending an anti-Bush rally hosted by European Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso said: "I was very concerned to see reports of police harassment and arrests of politicians and peaceful demonstrators in Russia. The right to peaceful free speech and assembly are basic, fundamental human rights, and I very much regret that the authorities found it necessary to take such heavy-handed action." (READ MORE)

The Redhunter: Some Questions for Muslim Schools - The Islamic Saudi Acadamy, located in the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC, should be closed simply because it is operated and funded by the Wahabist government of Saudi Arabia, which is a totalitarian nightmare. But what about Muslim schools where we cannot find a direct link to a jihadist government or organization? How do we determine if the school has a jihadist or Islamist curriculum, or whether it is simply a religious school that happens to be Islamic? M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim American and former Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy, answers these questions in an article posted at Family Security Matters. Mr. Jasser is the founder and Chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a Phoenix based organization. That Family Security Matters is a pretty conservative outfit vouches for the AIFD by itself, but please visit his website if you'd like to be reassured. These days, it's understandable. (READ MORE)

Paul J Cella: Israeli apartheid? - A new round of Israeli-Arab peace talks is under way. Whether something enduring will come of it seems rather unlikely, though even some normally skeptical observers have expressed guarded hope. There is one curiosity here worth expounding: Thanks to Jimmy Carter, you’ll probably need both your hands to count the number of times the charge of APARTHEID will be hurled against Israel, sometimes with the esteemed former president actually cited, during interviews of Arab PR men. “Apartheid system,” “apartheid regime,” “apartheid state,” “apartheid government,” possibly even the infelicitous phrase “apartheid occupation” — over and over and over: these guys are suckers repetition of striking phrases. And while we’ve heard the apartheid accusation before, it is Carter’s recent book has vastly increased its currency. (READ MORE)

John Hawkins: The Democratic Underground Poll Of The Day: When The Conspiracy Theorists Become The Mainstream - This thread at the Democratic Underground, "Poll question: Do you believe George W. Bush was elected in 2000 and re-elected in 2004?," is a real eye catcher. Take a look at these poll results […] What this shows is how the conspiracy theorists have taken over the Left, lock, stock, and barrel because the "stolen election" pap in 2000 and 2004 is only marginally less kooky than the 9/11 conspiracy theories that libs seem to love so much. Let's take a quick look at the 2000 election first. Here's an excerpt from my column, "The Two Year Old's Tantrum That Never Ends". (READ MORE)

Mark Steyn: Bold as Brass - The other week, in Wednesbury in the English Midlands, an unusual crime occurred. A thief passed down a residential street and methodically stole every single front door handle and house number. The victims discovered the burglary when they tried to leave their homes and found the door no longer opened. An Englishman's home may be his castle but if you can't let down the drawbridge it's indistinguishable from a dungeon. Trying to get a, er, handle on property crime in the United Kingdom is a problematic business. Why would anyone steal door knockers? Well, there's a construction boom in India and China. Demand for lead is higher than at any time since 1980 and the price of copper has quadrupled in two years. And in a globalized market place that hasn't escaped the attention of Britain's criminal gangs, for whom "scrap metal" has become a far more lucrative proposition than it might once have been. (READ MORE)

Sister Toldjah: Breaking news: Glenn Greenwald has become a stickler for ‘factual accuracy’ (UPDATED) - Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but the left’s favorite sockpuppet, Glenn Greenwald (who has a couple of NYT “bestsellers,” dontcha know), has developed an obsession of sorts for making sure other people get their facts straight before posting/publishing them. I find this development very intriguing, and definitely worth a much closer look. His target du jour (for many weeks, actually) has been noted lefty “sell-out” Joe Klein, who I should point out is one of the few liberals out there who comprehends and has written often about the importance of the US winning in Iraq. That should be the only clue anyone out there needs as to understand how the far left despises Klein, and why they go out of their way to “correct” any halfway sane liberal who they believe is “horrific” and “deceitful.” (READ MORE)

Jay Fraser: Science, Technology and the "Age of Terrorism" - The old saying was publish or perish. Scientists or academic researchers knew that peer review of their work was critical to gaining acceptance. But since September 11th, serious questions have arisen as to the appropriateness of certain types of research in general, and then the publication of sensitive but not classified information. This first became an issue for discussion when Dr. Mark Buller of St. Louis University and his team developed a vaccine resistant strain of mousepox in 2003 with funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Back then the question was whether the benefits of doing the research, especially when it came to especiallyparticularly virulent and new bio-terror agents, was prudent, and whether the publication of the results outweighed the potential for educated terrorists having the information and potentially being able to duplicate it. (READ MORE)

Ron Winter: Move America Forward Shows What It REALLY Means To Support The Troops - Move America Forward, the nation's largest pro-troop organization once again is underway with a pro-troop, cross-country caravan, this time ending at Ground Zero in New York where a rally will kick off the next phase, Christmas in Iraq. This is the third cross-country caravan this year for MAF. The first was in March when the group joined 30,000 patriots at the Gathering of Eagles in Washington, D.C., where we stood vigil against pro-communist, pro-terrorist forces who had threatened to deface the Vietnam Veterans Memorial during anti-troop demonstrations. MAF staged another caravan in September when they again gathered in D.C., to show support for the troops and Gen. David Petraeus who was reporting to Congress on that status of military operations in Iraq. The anti-war crowd who always claims that they support the troops, but not the Commander-in-Chief, sneaked in to D.C. a week ahead of that rally and defaced the Vietnam Memorial overnight on Sept. 7, apparently as revenge for being thwarted in March. (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: Dum De Dum Dum... - If ever I need something really stupid from the media, I have two sources that I can consistently count on to come through: the Arab News and the Boston Globe. And today, the Globe came through not once, but twice. First up, we have Derrick Jackson. Mr. Jackson today takes Toyota to task for committing a grave, cardinal, maybe even a mortal sin: offering its customers what they want. You see, Toyota, the makers of the blessed Prius, also offers a full-sized SUV, the Sequoia. And the Sequoia is nearly as big as the tree it is named after. It gets horrid gas mileage -- about 14 MPG city and highway. (READ MORE)

Meryl Yourish: Annapolis: The spin is in - And so it turns out that Annapolis has achieved just about nothing. Well, except cause more media outlets, pundits, and world leaders to put the lion’s share of the blame for any failure on Israel. Reuters has an interesting roundup of Arab opinion. “Lebanon’s former telecommunications minister Essam Noman, writing in the opposition al-Akhbar newspaper, said the United States had succeeded in ‘dragging the Arabs to a diplomatic talkfest.’” Notice how the subject of peace is treated as a horrible thing. “Ghassan Charbel, editor of the London-based Al-Hayat daily, said Arab states had gone to Annapolis without illusions. ‘They know that Israel wants to negotiate without being ready to pay the price of the solution. And they are aware that the Israeli negotiator will ask the Palestinian Authority for (conditions) it cannot provide…’” (READ MORE)

Andrea Shea-King: People Who Need Peeeeee-pul - Oh THIS is rich.... The New York Post is reporting... "Hillary Rodham Clinton turned her battle against Sen. Barack Obama into a clash of divas yesterday, rolling out the endorsement of Barbra Streisand to counter the buzz over talk-show star Oprah Winfrey's decision to stump for Obama." Heh... "'Madame President of the United States . . . it's an extraordinary thought,' Streisand gushed in a statement released by Clinton's campaign. "We truly are in a momentous time, where a woman's potential has no limitations." But just in case... "Although she is close to Bill Clinton, Streisand stayed on the fence earlier in the year by cutting $2,300 campaign checks to Clinton, Obama and John Edwards." (READ MORE)

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