November 29, 2007

Web Reconnaissance for 11/29/2007

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)
Foes Use Obama's Muslim Ties to Fuel Rumors About Him - In his speeches and often on the Internet, the part of Sen. Barack Obama's biography that gets the most attention is not his race but his connections to the Muslim world. (READ MORE)

In Debate, Romney and Giuliani Clash on Immigration Issues - ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Nov. 28 -- The Republican candidates for president engaged in a two-hour free-for-all Wednesday night, repeatedly confronting one another directly even as they fielded video questions submitted by Internet users in the most spirited debate of the 2008 presidential campaign. (READ MORE)

Moscow May Host Middle East Follow-Up - Russia and the United States are tentatively planning a second Middle East peace conference, in Moscow in early 2008, with major parties hoping to begin a comprehensive peace effort that would include direct talks between Israel and Syria, according to U.S., Russian, Arab and European officials. (READ MORE)

Judge Calls for Data on Telecom Lobby - An electronic privacy group challenging President Bush's domestic spying program scored a minor victory when a judge ordered the federal government to release information about lobbying efforts by telecommunications companies to protect them from prosecution. (READ MORE)

Bill Clinton's Claim of Opposing Iraq War From Outset Disputed - A former senior aide to then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice disputed Bill Clinton's statement this week that he "opposed Iraq from the beginning," saying that the former president was privately briefed by top White House officials about war planning in 2003 and that he told them he supported the invasion. (READ MORE)

Citi of Arabia - Investors seem delighted that Abu Dhabi is injecting $7.5 billion into Citigroup, bidding up stocks in general on new confidence that the mortgage solvency crisis might ease. We hate to spoil the party, but it strikes us as unfortunate, if not a tragedy, that America's largest bank had to go hat in hand to Arab sheiks because of bad management and blundering U.S. monetary policy. The Citi play is being spun as a master-stroke by Robert Rubin, the chairman of the bank's executive committee. (READ MORE)

Romney, Giuliani Battle in Debate - The eighth Republican debate got off to a blistering start and quickly became the Mitt and Rudy Show, with the two front-running candidates going toe to toe on immigration, interrupting each other until they were booed by the boisterous crowd. (READ MORE)

Musharraf now Civilian President - Pervez Musharraf embarked on a new, five-year term as a civilian president of Pakistan today, a day after ceding the powerful post of army chief – the basis of his rule for the past eight years. (READ MORE)

U.S. to hold N. Korea to Nuclear Promises - The chief U.S. negotiator with North Korea, concerned that Pyongyang might fail to provide a full declaration of its nuclear-related materials and activities by year's end, as it has promised, will return to the North on Monday, U.S. officials said yesterday. (READ MORE)

Immigrants, Illegals use Welfare More Often - Both immigrants and illegal aliens are more likely to be poor and to use welfare programs than native-born Americans because they come to the country with lower levels of education, according to a new study looking at U.S. Census Bureau data. (READ MORE)

Iraq a Loud No-Show at Talks - Faced with a difficult political and military insurgency at home, and having to balance competing sectarian and diplomatic demands, the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki decided it did not have the time or resources to attend Mr. Bush's high-stakes gathering. (READ MORE)

From the Front:
A Battlefield Tourist: More Positive Effects of the “Surge” - Sunni attacks up because areas have no security. Rush in troops to indicate to the locals, who are scared to death, “We will support you.” Locals see support and believe in it. They gain confidence to defend themselves from Al Qaeda; the “Concerned Citizens” are born. “Concerned Citizens” of great trust are id’d and brought into intel services. Intel services get better and begin planting spies. Spy network is set up to begin interdiction of attacks. Attacks decrease as high value targets are taken out, attacks are successfully defended and insurgents are running around wondering who the spies are. (READ MORE)

Badger 6: So Much Misinformation - Watching Fox News this morning and they are reporting live from the headquarters of Force Protection, Inc. as they celebrate the delivery of their 1000th MRAP. The biggest problem I have with these news reports is they make it seem like the MRAP is a panacea to protecting Soldiers and Marines from Improvised Explosive Devices. They are not. They are another tool and they are better for a variety of reasons than the HUMVEE, but they don't solve all the issues. People should not be lulled into thinking they do. (READ MORE)

Fightin' 6th Marines: Iraqi family culture - In the story below it tells about Marines with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, visiting people in their homes in Fallujah, Iraq. This is an introduction written by Pfc. Brian Jones about the some of the circumstances of Iraqi culture that Marines have discovered for themselves and have curiously questioned. As violence subsides in Fallujah, “the city of mosques”, Marines find time to indulge in investigating their cultural curiosities of the Iraqi people who surround them. Marines communicate, work and in some cases live with them offering ample amounts of opportunity to get to know them. (READ MORE)

Matt Sanchez: Trauma, shrapnel and the fight for life - One of the rules for a media embed is that you're not allowed to show the faces of injured people without their consent. I had to keep that in mind while spending time recently at the Air Force hospital in Balad, a level three facility, which makes it the best hospital in the entire Middle East for trauma. "Any doctor who has spent four months here is probably ready to handle anything," Lt. Col. Christopher Coppola told me. What set the newly completed facility apart from emergency rooms back home was the typical patient and "the severity and multiplicity of wounds," Coppola explained. (READ MORE)

On Point: Spinning Up the Afghan Army and Police - Although most of the military and media attention remains focused on Iraq, there is still a vicious war raging in Afghanistan. Islamic extremists from Pakistan cross the border nightly in an effort to destabilize the Karzai government by terrorizing the local populace; home-grown extremists have adapted IED and suicide bomber tactics they’ve seen so popular in Iraq, and the drug lords and local criminal element work hard in advancing their own corrupt agenda. In the midst of all this are 24,000+ American troops and a large contingent of troops from NATO and other countries who are attempting to stabilize the country, defeat Al-Qaeda, and perhaps drag it into the 21st - or at least the 20th - century. (READ MORE)

This War and Me: Don't Come Home Soon - The other day a friend of mine and I were talking and I realized that I hate to hear phrases like, "Come home soon" or "Wish you were here". The holidays are upon us and I have missed many of them. There are several days lately, hell throughout the past year, that I get depressed knowing I am missing things that I enjoy back home. The good intentions of those from home are quite appreciated, but annoy me just the same. To say, "We love you, come home soon" is annoying to me. There are only a couple of ways I will get to come home soon and I do not like any of them. Even the option of a total military withdrawl where I come home alive and in one piece, means that we leave before the region is stable enough to stand on it's own and my brothers and sisters have died in vain. (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Different kind of dusting - Since we arrived in Afghanistan in May, we have seen more than our share of dust due to the dry, desert, powdery sand that seems to find its way on everything, indoors and outdoors. But we awoke this morning to a different kind of dusting. Last night it snowed for the first time since we've arrived. The inch or so covering the ground was minimal compared to the four or five feet of it we can expect on the worst days we're here, I'm told. Still, it was kind of a pleasant surprise to step out the door in my mostly un-clothed body on the way to the shower and walk through the snow rather than on top of the bare gravel. (READ MORE)

Michael Yon: Men of Valor: Part III - The 4 Rifles first trip into Basra brought more than 15 hours of fighting that left a Pakistani driver killed, dragged away and never seen again by the British. Two British killed in action and many more wounded, a convoy of banged-up vehicles that ran the damage gamut from flat tire to complete destruction, and almost no break before it was time for Major Steve Webb to saddle up and move on again, his Welsh Warriors always taking point on another convoy. Major Steve Webb fought through those 15 hours two days before. Webb became one of the most respected leaders in the battalion. Each time one of his men described Webb, they said things like, “he’s a very courageous man,” or, “Major Webb is inspiring.” High praise in such company. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Bill Whittle: Freedom versus Justice - Are you in favor of Freedom? Well, who isn’t? What about Justice? Put me down for that too. Everybody wants freedom, and everybody wants justice… but it occurs to me, if you really get down to brass tacks, that pure freedom and pure justice are mutually exclusive. For example, if one was truly free, utterly at liberty to do whatever one wanted, whenever they wanted to do it, then that person would leave a vast wake of injustice. To walk wherever you wanted: trespassing. To take what you wanted: stealing (or rape if it was who you wanted). If you were absolutely, utterly free you could murder at will. Or perhaps just drive as fast as you want. The fact that you are not able to do any of these things puts constraints on your liberty. It limits your freedom to act. (READ MORE)

John C. Hulsman: A Man on a Mission - Michael Gerson, long praised (some would say over-praised) as President Bush's genius speechwriter, is also, it turns out, a would-be moral philosopher and political strategist. In "Heroic Conservatism," he calls for the Republican Party to redefine itself and brighten its future by casting aside its suspicion of big government and pursuing lofty projects of statist do-goodery. Let us hope that Republicans ignore him. (READ MORE)

Daniel Henninger: Does Reading Matter? - Time-pressed Christmas shoppers who visit nowadays see a homepage pushing Kindle. Kindle is Amazon's "revolutionary wireless reading device." This ambitious ($400) and ultimately admirable gadget springs from the hopes of Amazon's visionary founder, Jeff Bezos, whose e-company began with books but in time found that profitability required the selling of things that people prefer to do with their ever-dwindling free time. (READ MORE)

Ann Coulter: NYT: An undocumented newspaper - Last week, in an article titled "Walking a Tightrope on Immigration," The New York Times made the fact-defying claim that the illegal immigration issue poses a risk for Republicans who appeal to voters "angry" about illegal immigration. (This is as opposed to voters "angry" that they spent good money buying a copy of The New York Times.) In support of this assertion, the Times was required not only to ignore the stunning defeat of this year's amnesty bill, but also to proffer provably absurd evidence. (READ MORE)

Amanda Carpenter: Signs Hillary Will Tap Clark as VP - Hillary Clinton has been working closely with decorated anti-war retired Gen. Wesley Clark on foreign policy, fueling rumors he could be vice-president on a “Clinton-Clark” ticket in 2008. In recent months Clark has joined Clinton several times on the campaign trail, has been publishing a number of profile-raising editorials, and is making a substantial effort to keep his slick PAC website updated with his media schedule. He also promotes email campaigns that solicit names and contact information, as he did in his recent push to remove Rush Limbaugh from Armed Forces Radio. (READ MORE)

Steve Chapman: The Eternal Life of NFL Sudden Death - The Chicago Bears won a football game Sunday in a way that is possible only in the National Football League. Tied with the Broncos at the end of regulation, they won the coin toss for overtime, elected to receive, took the kickoff, proceeded down the field and kicked a field goal, leaving Denver without so much as a single touch of the football. For those of us who live in Chicago, it was great fun -- but ridiculously unfair. Imagine an extra-inning baseball game decided by this sudden-death approach: (READ MORE)

Hugh Hewitt: Romney Wins. Big. - Mitt Romney won the last night's debate because he emerged as a plausible, indeed compelling match-up to Hillary. Rudy hit him hard --and below the belt, with the "sanctuary mansion" shot. But so what? We aren't expecting the Clinton's to play nice. Our candidate will have to be able to be "strong" without being "mean," superior on the issues and intellect and ahead on the key test of "Who shares my values?" That's Romney, and I expect the Clintons know it and will work overtime to take him off the board in the next six weeks. (READ MORE)

Victor Davis Hanson: A Few Good People - In the last few years, it has become popular to say that history is determined largely by sweeping inanimate forces of technology, the environment, gender, class or race. We play down the role of individuals — as if the notion that one person can shape history is old-fashioned. But that’s hardly the case. Take Nicolas Sarkozy, the new president of France. For 60 years, the power of the state in France had steadily increased. Government workers were handed lavish entitlements and retirement packages while French competitiveness diminished in a new globalized world. (READ MORE)

William Rusher: The Giuliani Conundrum - Rudy Giuliani's candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination presents conservative Republicans with a real conundrum. Should they support the candidate who will put up the best fight, though he (or she) disagrees with them on virtually all of the social issues? Or should they insist on a candidate who truly represents conservative values, even if they suspect he might be a degree or two less combative against (say) Hillary Clinton in the campaign? My own brooding on this question is decisively affected by my conviction that 2008 is going to be a Democratic year. I believe the Democrats are very likely to win the presidency and strengthen their hold on both Houses of Congress. (READ MORE)

Cal Thomas: Changing Nation - No one ever accused Patrick J. Buchanan of lacking conviction or of consulting a focus group before saying what he thinks. In his new book, "Day of Reckoning," the former presidential candidate, columnist and TV pundit confronts readers with many irrefutable facts that if left unaddressed, he believes, will lead to America's destruction. That may sound extreme, even apocalyptic, until one considers his assertions: "The Army is breaking and is too small to meet America's global commitments; (READ MORE)

Emmett Tyrrell: The Intriguing Britney Spears and Iraq - WASHINGTON -- Have you noticed that during the past few days, Britney Spears has vanished completely from the news? For that matter, Paris Hilton has, too, and she has been absent for an even longer period than the intriguing Spears. Possibly their significance to our nation was not as great as the media space accorded them would suggest. For that matter, perhaps the significance of our war in Iraq has been exaggerated, also. It, too, has vanished from the news. There was a wire story on Nov. 27 that the Bush administration is planning negotiations with the Iraqi government for withdrawing the bulk of U.S. forces by the end of 2008, but that story only made it into the indispensable New York Sun and The Kansas City Star. (READ MORE)

John McCaslin: Go Figure - "Good evening," the U.S. president began in a hastily called address to the nation, which many Americans have chosen to forget. "Earlier today, I ordered America's armed forces to strike military and security targets in Iraq. They are joined by British forces. Their mission is to attack Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors." His expression determined, his goals clear, the president continued: "I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again." (READ MORE)

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)

Ed Morrissey: About That Economy .... - As the presidential election continues to draw nearer, we keep hearing about our collapsing economy from the usual media hysterics. The housing market is near collapse! The credit crunch! The subprime markets are melting, melting, I say! Well, what about the actual economy? Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 4.9 percent in the third quarter of 2007, according to preliminary estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: "CNN: If It's News To You, It's News To Us" - I was feeling tired, so I slept through the Republican debate last night. And it sounds like I missed a humdinger. But as is so often the case, the really interesting stuff was the behind-the-scenes dirt. As Kevin pointed out, it turns out that one of the questioners -- retired General Keith Kerr -- is a Hillary Clinton advisor. And others have been doing some digging, and have found that three other questioners also have ties to Democratic candidates. Michelle Malkin has a good roundup of the plants: the abortion questioner is a proud John Edwards supporter, the Log Cabin Republican is backing Barack Obama, the lead-in-toys mom is an aide to a prominent union leader and John Edwards supporter, and the aforementioned General Kerr also helped John Kerry back in 2004. (READ MORE)

Kevin Aylward: CNN/YouTube Debate Features Hillary Plant - CNN would have you believe that out of all the people THEY selected to ask video taped questions of the Republican presidential candidates the this evening at the CNN/YouTube debate they had no idea that Keith Kerr, retired Colonel., U.S. Army; retired Brigadier General, California National Reserve, was a member of a Hillary Clinton LGBT Steering Committee. Nor did they know was on the National Veterans for Kerry Steering Committee in 2004. CNN was, however, able to find this 13-year-old Mitt Romney quote about gays in the military to make Kerr's question into a booby-trap for Romney: (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: War movies - Roger Simon tries to understand why antiwar movies have been doing so badly at the box office. Brian de Palma's Redacted recently grossed so little worldwide it has excited the pity of even amateur movie makers. The artistic failure, Simon believes, is rooted in the distance between the film-maker and the subject. They don't care about the great perils facing the world. They don't care about the history of war-torn regions. They don't care about the causes of the war itself except as a backdrop to make a political statements. The action of Redacted might be located in Iraq, but everyone knows it is really set in Vietnam. (READ MORE)

Bear Creek Ledger: CNN’s Plants Thrive in YouTube Republican Debate - CNN has once again proved itself incapable of shedding it’s anti-Republican fervor. To say this YouTube debate was pathetic is an understatement. The snowman did make it once again to the screen even though it wasn’t for a debate question. I was following the Free Republic forum thread which revealed early on that the “gay” General was a plant from the Hillary campaign. But Michelle Malkin has exposed 3 additional “planted” questioners - all Dhimmicrats. This is a Republican debate, why so many Democrat questioners? (READ MORE)

Blogmeister: CNN's YouTube Republican Debate: The Shenanigans Continue - Good lord, will CNN never learn? There were 5,000 questions submitted for last night's debate and a *surprising* number of them were from committed Democrat candidate supporters. Michelle Malkin and Hot Air have lots and lots of details. I only caught the second hour of the debate and watched the first half hour of the discussion afterward. The alarm bells first started ringing when Bill Bennett (the only conservative commentator out of six in the after-debate mish mash) said he was getting e-mails saying one of the questioners (I think the guy who said, "What would Jesus do?" about capital punishment) was connected with the Hillary Clinton campaign. Anderson Cooper started hemming and hawing, saying that he didn't know anything about that, but CNN would look into it. Seems to me they might have wanted to look into it BEFORE the debate. Or did they? (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Defining away victory - Chris Matthews’s new definition of Victory in Iraq means we lost World War II. But, hey, we finally won Vietnam. Growing up, I always heard America wins the war, loses the peace. The nation never was big on diplomacy. But in an asymmetrical war, there are no diplomatic negotiations. That’s where some in the media step in to try to give our military victories away. Consider this quote from Chris Matthews on his show last night while he was interviewing David Ignatius: (READ MORE)

Bryan Preston: (Video) Karl Rove says Congress pushed the Iraq war resolution too soon - Former Bush administration adviser Karl Rove appeared on the Charlie Rose show just before Thanksgiving for a wide-ranging interview. When the subject turned to the Iraq war, Rove offered a surprising take: That Congress took up its war resolution too soon, sooner than the Bush administration wanted, and that Congress’ timing made the resolution and thereby the war political. This sequence begins with Rove answering whether the Bush administration has made any mistakes in the war, then flows into the section on the war resolution. (READ MORE)

Allahpundit: (Video) The disappearing Hillary plant; Update: Does it matter who the questions come from? - Tough call for CNN on re-broadcast. Do they stick with the footage of Keith Kerr after having been de-pantsed by Bill Bennett an hour or so before? Edit out the footage? Leave it in with a graphic at the bottom of the screen disclosing his campaign affiliation? Decisions, decisions. Here’s your answer. This is what went down at around 9:45 ET… and this is how it played at 1:45 on re-broadcast: (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Syriously, Though - This is funny, in a sad-clown, third-world tinpot dictatorship and sponsor of terrorism in benighted neighboring countries kind of way. Official Syrian press columnist calls Bush “the Fuehrer of the 21st century” and predicts US empire’s fall. MEMRI: “ … Even a novice to politics and international relations can see very clearly that President Bush Jr.’s escapade in Iraq is a significant turning point that will go down in history as the beginning of the fall of the great American empire.” (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Hunting al Qaeda in Iraq's propaganda cells - After a nearly two-month lull in videos released by al Furqan, al Qaeda in Iraq's primary propaganda arm, two new videos of attacks on US forces have been released over the past three days. Al Qaeda in Iraq is attempting to reestablish its propaganda presence in Iraq, while Multinational Forces Iraq is seeking to dismantle the network. "Despite the recent loss of numerous cells across Iraq, the media wing of al-Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) has produced a second video product, which the al Fajr Media Center posted Tuesday night on the main Jihadi message boards: (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: More diversity lunacy: The Army Intelligence and Security Command’s list of forbidden words; Update: Add “brown people” to the list - Update: Nine-year-old suspended for saying “Brown people.” In response to the Denver diversity video debacle, a military reader shared his own diversity lunacy story: “I’m not sure this tops the Denver story but this past August the Army Intelligence and Security Command’s (INSCOM) Equal Opportunity (EO) promulgated a list of forbidden words. Some of the words on this list wouldn’t be used in the work place by most people with any common sense — but some of the words on the list are ridiculous and epitomize the overreaching hysteria of the PC speech police.” (READ MORE)

McQ: Combat leaders and perfumed princes - Ralph Peters, who usually enjoys smacking the "brass" around, gives some rare praise in his most recent article. I bring it up because of who it is he praises. He praises LTG Ricardo Sanchez’s replacement, LTG Ray Odierno (he also praises Petraus), and he gives voice to why Sanchez is a retired LTG and sniping for the Democrats from the sidelines: “Even as some of us began to suspect that Iraqi society was hopelessly sick, our troops stood to and did their duty bravely. The tenacity of our soldiers and Marines in the face of mortal enemies in Iraq and blithe traitors at home is the No. 1 reason why Iraq has turned around. Without their valor and sacrifice, nothing else would’ve mattered. Key leaders were courageous, too - men such as now-Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno. Big Ray was pilloried in our media for being too warlike, too aggressive and just too damned tough on our enemies.” (READ MORE)

Political Vindication: Leaked Government Report Reveals Serious Weaknesses In Haditha Case - Here is an article from the CNS that is worth reading. I’ll offer a quote or two, and look forward to any thoughts you might have: “Military prosecutors have tried to make the case that the soldiers - supposedly motivated by revenge - intended to kill the civilians after a roadside bomb killed one Marine and injured two others. However, according to a 37-page military assessment recently obtained by Newsweek , the Haditha case is unraveling. The report, by investigator Lt. Col. Paul Ware, said, ‘The evidence is contradictory, the forensic analysis is limited, and almost all the witnesses have an obvious bias or prejudice.’” (READ MORE)

Soccerdad: 60 years old and still premature - In a sense, today Israel is 60 years old today. The partition plan that split the portion of the Palestine Mandate that hadn’t already been lopped off to create Transjordan (now Jordan) into Jewish and Arab sections was approved today. sums it up nicely: “Sixty years later, Israel is still under threat, and continues to strive for recognition in the Arab world. Israel sixty years later, still suffers from Palestinian initiated violence and terror and still strives to live within secure borders. It appears that despite all negotiations for peace, history once again is repeating itself. As Israel marks the 60th anniversary of the UN Resolution 181, the United Nations declares an official day of solidarity with the Palestinian people.” (READ MORE)

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