December 18, 2007

Web Reconnaissance for 12/18/2007

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)
U.S. Joins Rebuke of Israel - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined her counterparts in the international "Quartet for Middle East peace" yesterday in a rare formal rebuke of Israel for its plans to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank. (READ MORE)

Hillary Leads in the 'Anti-' Vote - Forty percent of Americans say they would vote to keep Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton from winning the presidency, more than twice the total for their No. 2 "anti-" pick, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. (READ MORE)

Rice Sees Progress During Iraq Visit - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unannounced visit today to Kirkuk in the oil-rich Kurdish region, where the U.S. administration has emphasized what it sees as new signs of cooperation and progress, and then flew to the Iraqi capital for meetings with national leaders. (READ MORE)

McCain Outflanks Giuliani in N.H. - Sen. John McCain's resurgent strategy to capture independent voters in New Hampshire is forcing a flagging Rudolph W. Giuliani to scale back his efforts in the state and pin his hopes on later primaries. (READ MORE)

Spending Bill Shrinks Border Fence - Congress last night passed a giant new spending bill that undermines current plans for a U.S.-Mexico border fence, allowing the Homeland Security Department to build a single-tier barrier rather than the two-tier version that has worked in California. (READ MORE)

S. Korea Probes Top Candidate - South Korea's presidential campaign took a dramatic turn yesterday, with the national legislature authorizing an independent prosecution team to investigate front-running candidate Lee Myung-bak just days before tomorrow's vote. (READ MORE)

McCain's Surge - Endorsing John McCain for President yesterday, Joseph Lieberman stressed that his Senate colleague would always elevate his country above his party. Coming from a man who was excommunicated by Democrats for his views on Iraq, this was a fitting sentiment--and it may also explain why Mr. McCain seems to be staging something of a primary resurgence. (READ MORE)

U.S. Helps Turkey Strike Rebel Kurds in Iraq - Goal of U.S. program is to identify the movements and activities of the Kurdish Workers' Party in northern Iraq, senior administration official says. (READ MORE)

House Approves Domestic Spending - The House last night approved a $515.7 billion domestic spending measure that shaves billions from spending levels desired by Democrats and uses emergency spending and other tactics to challenge President Bush on his budget demands. (READ MORE)

FBI, CIA Debate Significance of Terror Suspect - Al-Qaeda captive Abu Zubaida, whose interrogation videotapes were destroyed by the CIA, remains the subject of a dispute between FBI and CIA officials over his significance as a terrorism suspect and whether his most important revelations came from traditional interrogations or from torture. (READ MORE)

From the Front:
1romad: Typical 48 Hours for a ROMAD - What is a typical 2 day mission like for a ROMAD in Afghanistan? I have no idea what "typical" would look like, but I can tell you about my most recent operation (the names have not been changed because there are no innocent): We were tasked with supporting an operation that would helo insert about 50 infantry, engineers, terps, and ODA into a village in the far north. This village has been supporting the government and trying to keep the insurgents out, but they are beyond the reach of any local US forces and have thus not seen any aid. (READ MORE)

Desert Dude: 17 December - So last night I was getting some guitar lessons from a couple of the guys here that put together a band…they were practicing and coming up with a set list to play at our little Christmas party we are having in a few days…I just happened to sing a song along with them and one of the guys said “you’re singing that one”…they wrote it down on the list and put my name next to it—it might as well have been set in stone…I tried to back out because I can’t really sing… (READ MORE)

Far From Perfect: Regular Life - So I have made it home again. We arrived back a few days ago and I have been spending all my time enjoying my family and catching up on all the stuff that I have missed. Its kind of surreal right now. My mind and body is on one set of routines and schedules and my life is on another. I guess it will take a while to re-adjust, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything. Its so good to be with my family, eat real food, sleep in a soft bed, and not worry about things exploding at any time. As a final word, so far I have not missed my weapon, dodged a pothole, ran a redlight, or attacked anyone! (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Commercial Cole - ABC News did a segment the other day about wild rumors in Iraq, and one of the experts it turned to for examples was Prof. Juan Cole. The example he offered was pretty wild, all right, though not necessarily for the reason he suggested. To set the scene, the segment’s first example was given by Baghdad correspondent Terry McCarthy. He cited Internet gossip among Iraqis about Israeli soldiers in Babil, noted the difficulty of proving a negative, etc. Fine. Then it was Cole’s turn. (READ MORE)

A Surgeon's Letters Home From Iraq: 18 DEC 2007 Livin’ FOBulous - Happy Birthday, M.!!! I love you. I wish I was there with you. Hopefully I get a chance to call later. I’ll try to call you later. Fortunately I realized that it was far too early to call, and didn’t mark your birthday by rousting you at the crack of dawn. Today has been good. What a load of clean up operations we have to do from our surge of patients two days ago! Fortunately, after this round, most of them will be well enough to leave. The wounds from this war are usually high energy tissue damage. (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: I'll be home for Christmas - Greetings from Kuwait. As a few of you picked up from my post Sunday when I said I was at Bagram Air Field, I am on my way home for my two weeks of R&R. The past couple of days in BAF felt like they would never pass. The same is true of my time in Kuwait. I am ready for the break. I likely will not post something here every day while I'm at home, but I will share some of the stories because this, too, is part of my deployment experience. (READ MORE)

LTC Rich Phillips: KAF - Well, I've arrived at Kandahar Airflield. This blog was never meant to be a "this is my life" blog. I originally concieved of it as just a good way to keep my family informed of my adventures in Afghanistan. I never thought anyone outside my immediate family would ever read this blog. But, since it is read by so many now it has become a way for me to share one Soldier's experience in Operation Enduring Freedom. And, in keeping with that objective, my last post and the next few posts will describe how quickly things can change during a deployment and the wide variety of living and working conditions one can experience throughout Afghanistan. On 12 December I was at FOB Salerno, happy and content with my life and my mission, when I received an order to "get to KAF as soon as possible". Well, as soon as possible is not always very soon in Afghanistan. On 16 Dec I finally got a flight to BAF and after about 36 frustrating hours I got another flight to KAF on 17 Dec. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Dennis Prager: Secular Europe or Religious America? - Last week, New York Times columnist Roger Cohen wrote a column titled "Secular Europe's Merits," in which he explained why he prefers the secularism of Europe to the religiosity of America. To his credit (other New York Times columnists do not generally agree to debate anything they write -- Paul Krugman, for example, has refused to discuss his new book on liberalism with me), Cohen agreed to come on my show, and proved to be a charming guest. (READ MORE)

David A. Ridenour: Hurricane Forecasters' 0-for-2 Record Reveals Limits of Climate Science - With the official hurricane season now over, we now have a better idea of what 85%+ forecast certainty meant: Wrong 100% of the time. In August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast a 85% probability there would be an "above normal" hurricane season. This is the second year running the government hurricane forecast was wrong. This 0-2 record may tell us something about other similarly "certain" forecasts, such as those issued by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (READ MORE)

Mike S. Adams: The Fair Tax: America's Last Best Hope - Shortly after 911 one of my conservative friends said that the country was going to hell in a hand basket. He declared that the conservative movement had officially lost its way in America and that the fall of the republic was near. I disagreed with him then. But I must admit that the current selection of Republican candidates has me more worried than I’ve ever been. Despite the negative outlook, I think there is one last chance for America to regain its past glory and, perhaps, to turn back the tide of socialism that threatens our future prosperity. This last chance comes in the form of a single piece of legislation which, if passed, will cure almost all of what is ailing America. (READ MORE)

David Limbaugh: Huck: Playing to Our Inner Jimmy Carter - At the risk of incurring a roundhouse kick from the great Chuck Norris, I must confess that I'm even more troubled by Mike Huckabee's direction than I was last week. On "Meet the Press" in January 2007, Tim Russert asked Huckabee, "You said this: 'I have a hard time seeing (Sen. John McCain) being elected president, just because I think, at times, some of his views have alienated very important segments of the Republican Party. I'm not sure he can mend the fences with the evangelical wing of the party, the pro-life part of the party.' You stand by those words?" (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: Academic Intimidation - There is an article in the current issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education -- the trade publication of the academic world -- about professors being physically intimidated by their students. "Most of us dread physical confrontation," the author says. "And so these aggressive, and even dangerous, students get passed along, learning that intimidation and implied threats will get them what they want in life." This professor has been advised, at more than one college, not to let students know where he lives, not to give out his home phone number and to keep his home phone number from being listed. (READ MORE)

Phil Gingrey: Mitt Romney: A Leader To Turn Off The Sanctuary Magnets - Our borders and ports of entry are hemorrhaging with illegal immigrants, and the American people are ready for a president that will have the courage to stand up and lead. America needs a president that will come to the White House with new ideas and demand results. For years, our country has maintained a system that both encourages and ignores lawlessness and we can no longer afford to keep the status quo. Mitt Romney has the values, vision and track record to provide the much-required leadership our nation needs to address this current crisis. We are a nation of immigrants, but we also have an obligation to protect our national security, economic wealth and citizens. (READ MORE)

Dinesh D'Souza: The Unbelievable Tenacity of George W. Bush - Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. --Theodore Roosevelt Listening to the fatuous Al Gore claim his undeserved Nobel Prize and maunder on about how America is ruining the planet makes me realize how fortunate America is to have as its president George W. Bush. Yes, Bush has his ample share of failings. He occasionally speaks at the fifth-grade level. He is too willing to surround himself with cronies and sycophants. An unsupple man, Bush sometimes reminds me of the toy soldier who walks into the wall and keeps going. (READ MORE)

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.: Not On Our Dime - Few spectacles more clearly demonstrated what is wrong with the United Nations than the UN World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa in September 2001. Thanks to the domination of that conclave by a substantial majority led by the most despotic – and racist – regimes on the planet, “Durban” became synonymous with unbridled vilification of the United States and Israel. Even the most pro-UN Secretary of State in memory, Colin Powell, was so infuriated by the proceeding that he felt constrained to walk out. (READ MORE)

Bret Stephens: Why TR Claimed the Seas - On Dec. 16, 1907, the 16 battleships of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet sailed from Hampton Roads, Va., on a 43,000-mile journey around the world. The occasion was immediately understood as Teddy Roosevelt's way of declaring that the United States, already an economic superpower, was also a military one. Unnoticed by most Americans, this past Sunday marked its centennial. There is an enduring, bipartisan strain in American politics (think Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich) that wishes to forgo the military role. As wonderfully recounted by Jim Rasenberger in "America 1908," the voyage of the Great White Fleet, as it was popularly known, was energetically opposed by members of Congress, who sought to cut off its funding when it was halfway around the world. Sound familiar? (READ MORE)

Jonathan V. Last: This Is Not Your Land Anymore - The legal phrase "eminent domain" has become all too familiar to nonlawyers in recent years as the U.S. Supreme Court has gradually expanded the power of municipalities to condemn private property and seize it for "public" use--even if they just end up handing property over to another private party. The court's now infamous Kelo decision (2005) no doubt pleased the city fathers of New London, Conn., who had taken possession of some residential neighborhoods for the sake of private developers. But it outraged nearly everyone else, not least Susette Kelo, the plaintiff whose home was coveted. (READ MORE)

Bill Whittle: A Brief Lesson in Elementary Self-Defense - A few nights ago, just before bedtime, I was swimming a final blog lap for the day and came upon an entry at my friend Rand Simberg’s blog, Transterrestrial Musings. It was a simple comment about Mike Huckabee’s plan to be “energy free by 2017.” Rand was merely pointing out that a commenter had made the coveted Simpsons Nerd / Physics Nerd / Political Nerd trifecta: “In this campaign we obey the laws of thermodynamics!” Ha-ha! And now a quick scan of the comments before off to bed… and I find the following – apropos of precisely nothing – nasty little cut-and-paste slash job: (READ MORE)

Cassandra: Home For Christmas - This is a different kind of coming home story: Jerome Lee of Stonewall has been a trooper for Troop H of the Mississippi Highway Patrol since 1982. He can still vividly remember his six-year old son, Dustin, playing in his patrol car. “He always wanted to call the dispatcher on the radio to tell them I was in service,” said Jerome Lee Thursday afternoon. “I let him play with the siren and lights some. He wanted to become a state trooper.” But Dustin Jerome Lee won’t be able to fulfill his dream of being a trooper and following in his father’s footsteps. (READ MORE)

Rosemary Mariner: The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Overview - My thanks to Eugene for the invitation to guest blog and to Prof. Browne for a copy of his book. Also, my thanks to all for considering a different perspective on gender integration in the military and the much larger issue of how to best provide for the common defense of the republic. My central premise is that military effectiveness is enhanced by the inclusion of the best qualified individuals in a gender integrated force, including combat roles. Participation should be predicated on individual performance and not presumed group traits. Women are neither inferior nor superior to men; we are all individuals first and foremost, accountable for our actions. Not only does this make for the best defense, it is consistent with the oath that all servicemembers take to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. (READ MORE)

Nick Grace: Zawahiri: A Review of Events - The As-Sahab Foundation, which represents al-Qaeda’s media wing, released its 94th video in 2007 on December 16, an interview with Ayman al-Zawahiri called “A Review of Events: As-Sahab’s Fourth Interview with Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri.” The video, which lasts one hour and 37 minutes, is Zawahiri’s 14th appearance this year and consists of a question and answer session between the group’s operations chief and an off-camera producer. Subtitled in English, the video is a strategic PSYOP product meant to frame recent global events into al-Qaeda’s narrative and ensure that the narrative carries down to the rank and file. Although Arabic remains the lingua franca of al-Qaeda, an effort is underway among its members to maintain English-language forums and to distribute propaganda products in English. (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: Tortured Illogic - A long time ago, a guy I knew said that there almost seems to be an inverse relationship between the level of one's education and the level of one's common sense. It's a horribly overbroad generalization, but every now and then I come across something that affirms that sentiment. Such is the case with this column by Professor Darius Rejali, published in yesterday's Boston Globe. Professor Rejali has a new book coming out, entitled "Torture And Democracy." And his thesis seems to be this excerpt from his Globe column: (READ MORE)

Jim Addison: If there is no Quagmire, it is necessary to invent one - You may recall, during the deadliest months of the Iraq War, how major media defended their incessantly negative coverage. It was, as one CNN big-wig put it, their "obligation to report the news, good or bad." Naturally, once the news ceased to be overwhelmingly bad, they simply forgot their "obligation" to report the "good" news. In fact, they have gone out of their way to find and report more bad news, even if it isn't true. Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit details no less than SEVEN false stories about mass killings, bombings, and other atrocities reported in major media within the last seven weeks: (READ MORE)

TigerHawk: The CIA and coercion - Stuart Taylor is rather good on the question of coercive interrogations, and whether it is wise to outlaw them (as the Democrats propose). His essay reveals rather starkly that neither Democrats nor Republicans are covered with glory on this question. Teaser: “Imagine that U.S. forces capture Osama bin Laden or a high-level lieutenant in Pakistan next month and hand him over to the CIA, amid intelligence reports that a massive new Qaeda attack on America may be imminent. Does Congress really want to make it unlawful for the CIA to threaten to slap Osama bin Laden (if he is captured) in the face?” (READ MORE)

A Newt One: The Problem With FISA - The problem here is not that there is a spy program being utilized to trap and snare enemies of the United States, ie terrorists. The problem is that GWB is using it very effectively and the Jihadi sympathizers loyal to CAIR in the name of the lethal concept of multiculturalism are upset. The root cause of this disingenuous behavior of the anti-Americanist groups that are whining the loudest is BDS. Where was the outrage during the Clintonian years when Echelon was being used? “People in Europe and the United States are beginning to ask why. Has the NSA turned from eavesdropping on the communists to eavesdropping on businesses and private citizens in Europe and the United States? The concerns have arisen because of the existence of a sophisticated network linking the NSA and the spy agencies of several other nations. The NSA will not confirm the existence of the project, code-named Echelon.” (READ MORE)

A Soldier's Mind: Disabled Iraqi Children Get New Wheels - While conducting patrols in Radwaniyah area near Camp Striker, the medics of 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), encountered disabled children who were in dire need. They had no wheel chairs and had to be carried from place to place by their parents. So the medics decided that they were going to do something about it. Due to their desire to make a difference, 15 disabled Iraqi children now have more mobility. The wheelchairs were donated by an organization called “Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids.” The medics assembled the wheelchairs at the Radwaniyah Palace Complex Civil-Military Operations Center. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Bally High - Here's how the UN climate conference delegates kept their cool. The Sydney Morning Herald reports: “The air-conditioning system installed to keep more than 10,000 delegates cool used highly damaging refrigerant gases - as lethal to the atmosphere as 48,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, and nearly the equivalent of the emissions of all aircraft used to fly delegates to Indonesia. ... Staff from Australia's Natural Refrigerants Transition Board and the London- and Washington-based Environmental Investigation Agency noticed the stockpiled cylinders of hydrochlorofluorocarbons - a refrigerant likely to be phased out over the next few years because it devours ozone in the upper atmosphere. In addition, the refrigerant is a potent greenhouse gas, with each kilogram at least as damaging as 1.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide.” Uh-huh. (READ MORE)

Subsunk @ Blackfive: Press On! Victory Awaits! - The race is not always to the swiftest, nor the contest to the strongest..... but that's the way to bet. There are many examples of the underdog winning contests and achieving Victory. There are also many more cases of the acknowledged superpower achieving its goals at the expense of lesser capable forces. In all those Victories, there is one absolute. The Victor is the one who NEVER gave up trying to Win. Victor Davis Hanson has provided an analysis of our conflicts with a perspective that students of history will recognize as wise and correct. (READ MORE)

Uncle Jimbo @ Blackfive: Troops mutiny in Iraq? Not Quite - I just read a very cautionary tale about the horrors of war and the toll they take on our troops. Army Times has a lengthy piece about a platoon that reached the line and more. “It was just another bad day to add to many — and DeNardi’s platoon had already faced misery that seemed unbearable. When five soldiers with 2nd Platoon were trapped June 21 after a deep-buried roadside bomb flipped their Bradley upside-down, several men rushed to save the gunner, Spc. Daniel Agami, pinned beneath the 30-ton vehicle. But they could only watch — and listen to him scream — as he burned alive. The Bradley was far too heavy to lift, and the flames were too high to even get close. The four others died inside the vehicle. Second Platoon already had lost four of its 45 men since deploying to Adhamiya 11 months before. June 21 shattered them.” Eventually they refuse a patrol and technically they may have committed a mutiny, but it would be more fair to call it mental collapse of their will or ability to fight or to fight properly. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: As Long As The Axe Has His Name On It - Have the Senate Democrats decided to dump their most egregious porker from his leadership position? The Politico reports this morning that Robert Byrd may get pressured to leave his position as chair of the Appropriations committee, a move that could call into question his ability to function at all in the Senate. Pork has nothing to do with this move: “A group of Senate Democrats has begun quietly exploring ways to replace the venerable Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) as chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, believing he’s no longer physically up to the job, according to Democratic senators and leadership aides familiar with the discussions.” (READ MORE)

Cool Calm and Collected: Back to Square One... Or Worse? - You all know that sleeping hasn't exactly been my 'thing' since Jim was killed, but I just recently started getting to where I felt a bit more 'rested' when I wake up in the mornings--on some days, anyways. Which is huge for me. Anyway, I also hadn't dreamt since then, either. Which I don't like very much at all. Mr. Holtom told me about a dream he had that was so vivid. You can see it in his eyes when he's telling how it went, that it was very real to him. It sounds like such an awesome dream, and I want the same one so bad!! I've begged God for just one good dream. If only for a minute of happiness and being with Jim again. I would do anything to just dream that I was with him. (READ MORE)

Counterterrorism Blog: A Spook's Slippery Tale of Waterboarding Al Qaeda - Last week, the debate over waterboarding terrorists took a slippery turn when an obscure ex-CIA officer named John Kiriakou went public to disclose that the interrogation technique many consider torture was used to allegedly break the first Al Qaeda lieutenant nabbed after 9/11. Kiriakou’s remarkable media blitz began on network evening news broadcasts on Dec. 10 and continued the next day on morning shows and cable nets as he recounted how Al Qaeda associate Abu Zubaydah was broken within 30 seconds of being waterboarded after his 2002 capture in Pakistan. But Kiriakou’s outpouring of details about one of the most highly classified programs in the U.S. government - possibly intended to nail a book deal - may get him into hot water. (READ MORE)

Matthew Levitt: Credibly Prosecuting Terror Finance - In closing arguments contesting the federal prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation and five of its former officials, a defense attorney representing Holy Land CEO Shukri Abu Baker argued that the government's prosecution was inherently deceptive and based on selective evidence. "Do you really trust the government?" the defense attorney asked the jury. Given the outcome of the trial, it's a question that warrants consideration. On October 22, the trial of the Holy Land Foundation and several of its officers ended in a mistrial with jurors deadlocked on nearly all charges. The mistrial comes on the heels of the government's failure to secure convictions on major terror offenses in several recent cases surrounding terror financing - that is, convictions for providing "material support" to designated terrorist groups - which has fed the public skepticism on which defense attorneys sought to draw. (READ MORE)

The Flopping Aces: New Jersey Saves The Killer Of Megan - Now this is just wonderful. The lefties have succeeded in saving the life of a man who raped and killed a seven year old. They should all be so proud: “The man who raped and killed 7-year-old Megan Kanka — the 1994 crime that inspired ‘Megan’s Law’ — is one of eight men whose sentences were commuted to life in prison this week as part of New Jersey’s new ban on execution. The Garden State on Monday became the first state in more than three decades to abolish the death penalty after a commission ruled the punishment is ‘inconsistent with evolving standards of decency.’ Gov. Jon Corzine the day before commuted the sentences of eight men sitting on the state’s death row. They will now serve life in prison without parole, according to the governor’s office.” (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Military goes ‘green’- But safety, not the environment, may be the reason. Military bases have been environmental disaster zones. Explosives from target practice and jet fuel dumping are among the evidence of a long history of a cavalier attitude toward the environment. But that is changing. A C-17 is making a transcontinental flight using a blend of synthetic fuel. Gitmo has something banned by liberals in Massachusetts: Wind turbines. Fuel cells, hybrid vehicles and the like are among the emerging technologies being employed... (READ MORE)

Baron Bodissey: A Blueprint for the Suppression of Dissent in Europe - The disappearance of liberty in Europe will not be accompanied by the loud knock of a jackbooted thug at the front door. Basic freedoms are already being eroded imperceptibly by the European Union. The process has been going on for many years, drip by silent drip. In order to create Eurabia, the will of the people is muffled, suppressed, and discarded by the elites of the EU. We have reported several times on the Framework Decision, a document generated by the EU bureaucracy which outlines the steps to be taken to suppress “xenophobia and racism”. Among the punishments sought against offenders would be imprisonment, fines, and “temporary or permanent disqualification from the practice of commercial activities, a judicial winding-up order, exclusion from entitlement to public aid”. (READ MORE)

Congressman John Campbell: Omnibus Wish List - Late last night, Democrats released the omnibus spending bill that will be coming to the floor of the House for a vote tonight. With barely 24 hours to look at this bill, it will be a mad dash to see what is exactly included in this spending measure that funds nearly every federal agency and will cost almost $1 trillion. Democrats have talked a lot about fiscal responsibility, but they have not “walked the walk”. In the short 10 months, while Democrats have been in the majority, Congress has passed legislation that would increase discretionary spending by a whopping $275 billion, and entitlement spending by $179 billion, over 10 years. Here are a few things that I hope to see from the consideration of the omnibus spending bill and any other spending bill for that matter. (READ MORE)

Jihad Watch: Iran making diplomatic inroads in Nicaragua - And an Iranian foothold gives rise to numerous concerns, including weapons smuggling, the presence of more Hizballah fronts, as in Venezuela, and Iran's other possible plans, recalling the 1994 bombing in Argentina in which high-level Iranian officials have been implicated. Not to mention the possibility of Iran's using Nicaragua as a base from which to attack the U.S. and other targets in the Western Hemisphere in the event of military intervention against its nuclear program. "Iran making push into Nicaragua," by Todd Bensman for the San Antonio Express-News: (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Iraq by the numbers: Graphing the decrease in violence - Multinational Forces-Iraq has released the data of the effects of the "surge" on the security situation. The reduction in deaths, attack trends, sectarian violence, and improvised explosive device, suicide, and car bomb attacks is dramatic. The number of weapons caches found per year has more than doubled. The graphs below have been provided by Multinational Forces Iraq. Click each graph to view in detail. The weekly attack trends are now down to or below 2004 levels, with fewer than 600 attacks overall reported per week. These numbers include ineffectual attacks. The number peaked during the summer of 2007, with almost 1,600 attacks in one week in June. (READ MORE)

Amy Proctor: Violence in Iraq At Lowest Since 2003; Security Brings Confidence - U.S. Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, second in command in Iraq, said yesterday that the violence in Iraq is at its lowest since the beginning of the war. Odierno said: “I feel we are back in '03 and early '04. Frankly I was here then, and the environment is about the same in terms of security in my opinion. What is different from then is that the Iraqi security forces are significantly more mature. The violence (in Anbar) last week was the lowest ever.” Meanwhile, Trudy Rubin of the Philadelphia Inquirer takes notice of the change in Baghdad now from his last visit 6 months ago: (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Immigration Advocates Attacked - Yanqui borderistas seek to deprive immigration advocates of their right to launch ball bearings, rocks, bottles and bricks into San Diego. AP: “SAN DIEGO - The Border Patrol says its agents were attacked nearly 1,000 times during a one-year period along the Mexican border, typically by assailants hurling rocks, bottles and bricks. Now the agency is responding with tear gas and powerful, pepper-spray weapons, including firing into Mexico.” (READ MORE)

The Marching Camp: "But I'm not seeing any progress" - The most common thing that gets tossed in my face when I try to discuss Iraq with people is "I'm not seeing any progress." This is fundamentally amusing coming from folks who have never been over to Iraq, but that's almost trivial. What they mean is that the media isn't talking the good news. And if there isn't any bad news, they just invent their own fictional stories. In fact, over the past six weeks, Time/CNN was busted spouting story about 20 decapitations in Diyala Province. Didn't happen. BBC, which also picked up the story, published a retraction. (READ MORE)

The Monkey Tennis Centre: Saudi rape victim is pardoned – no thanks to Hillary - The Democrats, led by presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, had a high old time recently attacking President Bush over the decision by Saudi authorities to sentence a rape victim to 200 lashes, on the grounds that she had been alone with a man when they were both attacked. "The Bush administration has refused to condemn the sentence and said it will not protest against an internal Saudi decision," complained Clinton, adding: "As president I will once again make human rights an American priority around the world." Edwards said: "I am outraged that President Bush has refused to condemn the sentence". Barack Obama wrote to Condoleezza Rice, urging her to condemn the ruling. (READ MORE)

Richard S. Lowry: Recording History Part VIII – Hue City to Fallujah – Search for a opening quote - Captain Ron Christmas commanded a company of Marines during some of the heaviest fighting for Hue City, Vietnam. He was awarded the Navy Cross after being seriously wounded in the fight and then in 1974 was assigned a company of students at The Basic School (TBS) in Quantico, Virginia. Four of his former students are now serving as general officers in the Marine Corps. Ron Christmas rose to the rank of Lieutenant General and command of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force before retiring in 1996. He is now the President of The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation and is considered a master advisor to current Marine leaders. Two of his TBS students were involved in the Fallujah fight. Major General Richard Natonski led the 1st Marine Division and Major General Richard S. Kramlich commanded the 1st FSSG. They have carried General Christmas’ advice with them through their entire careers. Is it any wonder that they turned to the lessons learned from the fighting in Hue City during their planning for the assault on Fallujah? (READ MORE)

Kim Zigfeld: Putin Shuts Down the Presidential Election Before it can Begin - The Other Russia opposition group reports from Russia than over the course of the last week, following the announcement that dictator Vladimir Putin would support the "election" of his sycophant Dimitri Medvedev as his successor, three major contenders for the presidency have been forced to drop their bids. First there was Garry Kasparov, pictured above. Other Russia reports: “According to Russian law, a potential candidate must gather at least 500 supporters (an ‘initiative group’) in one place, gather their signatures, and announce his or her candidacy in their presence. Kasparov had intended to do just that, and had already booked an appropriate venue. Shortly before the meeting was to take place, the management revoked their contract, citing technical reasons.” (READ MORE)

Scott Johnson: In War: Resolution - Regular readers of Power Line may recall that I have occasionally declared the Claremont Review of Books to be my favorite magazine. Our friends at the CRB have just put the new (Winter) issue to bed and we've been afforded the privilege of previewing three pieces from the new issue this week. The entire issue is now available to subscribers online as soon as it's published. Subscribers can access every article individually or download the entire issue (artwork included) in PDF. If you're not already a subscriber, this is another reason to sign up. The CRB has been one of the most persistent critics of the Bush administration's conduct of the war from the right. In the Fall issue, for example, Angelo Codevilla deliberated on "the disaster of Iraq" and sought "to measure the occupation of Iraq against the standards of statecraft." (READ MORE)

McQ: Leadership and the Warrior Ethos - Via Lance at A Second Hand Conjecture, I note that the Superintendent of West Point, LTG Buster Hagenbeck, took the opportunity of the latest defeat during the Army/Navy game as a leadership teaching point. His point, of course, was that regardless of the odds and the mission, leaders don’t quit: “We cannot have leaders who quit. Your Soldiers will not survive under it. Our Nation will not allow it. And the Long Gray Line won’t stand for it.” He reminds them of the Warrior ethos, a seemingly simple 23 words which the Army’s leaders, at all levels, strive to live up too. Those 23 words are not a simple ethos, but one which embodies a spirit and a dedication which can, quite simply, cost you your life. But it is the basis of every thing every leader in today’s Army does. (READ MORE)

Ray Robinson: War on Terror comes to Pakistan - This year, writing for the American Thinker I have used open source reporting to outline what I believe to be a cracking of the jihad alliance in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Conversely, I spoke of a new alliance formed by President Musharraf, opposition and Taliban leader Maulana Fazlur Rahman, and Benazeer Bhutto against al Qaeda and its' allied Taliban tribes. And I spoke of a looming war as the alliances squared off. So how’s it looking? First, the bad news; it appears that Musharraf has gone too far and Bhutto has gotten cold feet about an alliance. Her courting of Sharif is bad news, but not that bad. The main thing she could provide is political stability and Musharraf took action to ensure that on his own anyway. An alliance would have been better, but doesn’t stop the actions against al Qaeda that have happened recently in Pakistan. (READ MORE)

Richard H Collins: The Winds of Change - The great irony of the Democratic primary is that Hillary seems to have won the battle but lost the war. Voters believe she has the best experience to become president but she still can’t get a majority to vote for her. People may respect her accomplishments, or have fond memories of her husband, but that doesn’t mean they like her. Lacking a clear message or rationale for her campaign, and the charm and personality to connect with voters, Hillary now seems intent on winning by going ugly. Thanks largely to the inexperience of her chief rivals, Hillary has amazingly sold voters on the idea that eight ineffective and scandal plagued years in the White House and seven bland pork barrel years in the Senate make her the most qualified candidate. (READ MORE)

ROFASix: Dimwits as Presidential Candidates - I have written of my general abhorrence toward the entire current crop of candidates who think they should be our next President. Most are typical of what you would expect from the days when back room political power brokers sat in cigar smoke filled rooms and decided who their party would nominate. All the candidates are deficient in many ways, but mostly in expressing a vision and having shown a clear way forward for America to pull ourselves from the hole we have dug for ourselves during the last two President's time in power. If we have learned anything from the last two Presidents, it's that 'anybody than him' is a dreadful option. In all honestly the last two Presidents elected were not the only ones where voters faced essentially what were "Hobbesian Choices", but this time the consequences of that decision seem more important than ever. (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Can Israel Survive? - The Israelis are facing not only a hostile, openly genocidal enemy on their south but they also face a hostile, openly genocidal enemy to their north (Hezbollah), northeast (Syria), and further east (Iran.) At the same time they face a hostile international press and have almost no chance to even come close to a neutral battle space in the information war. It is the information war that most limits Israel's responses, as well as the well-founded fear that widening the war would cause universal condemnation upon Israel if the world's oil supply were to be threatened (as it would be if Israel were to go after Damascus or Tehran as the source of the terror against them.) As Hillel Halkin notes in his conclusion, after dismissing all the other options aas unworkable or too risky: (READ MORE)

Melanie Phillips: The Christmas libel - For graphic evidence of the way bigotry destroys rationality, the annual hate-fest against Israel over the plight of Bethlehem’s Arab Christians is a jaw-dropping example. As in previous years, Israel is being blamed for the fact that the Bethlehem Christians have been all but driven out. As in previous years the Church of England leads the charge, with clerics and activists from the Archbishop of Canterbury downwards blaming their parlous position on the ‘wall’, the checkpoints and the economic hardship which are all put down to Israel’s apparent malevolence, with no acknowledgement whatever of the terror mounted against Israel by Bethlehem’s citizens or the terror mounted against the town’s Christians by the ruling Muslim Arabs. (READ MORE)

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