December 21, 2007

Web Reconnaissance for 12/21/2007

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)
Bush Is Upbeat About Economy's Prospects - The White House is betting that the steps it has taken to address the housing and financial crises will be enough to avert a recession without resorting to a major tax cut or new spending, as leading economists in both parties have urged, senior administration officials said. (READ MORE)

Springfield Church Welcomes Many Nations Under God - Even in an era of mass immigration that has produced suburban tamale shops alongside halal meat markets and created a market for television programming in Hindi and Arabic, places of worship remain bastions of racial and ethnic uniformity. (READ MORE)

Disaffected Iraqis Spurn Dominant Shiite Clerics - NAJAF, Iraq -- Two years after helping to bring to power a government led by Shiite religious parties, Iraq's paramount Shiite clerics find their influence diminished as their followers criticize them for backing a political alliance that has failed to pass crucial legislation... (READ MORE)

Spending Bills Still Stuffed With Earmarks - Twice in the past two years, Alaska lawmakers lost congressional earmarks to build two "bridges to nowhere" costing hundreds of millions of dollars after Congress was embarrassed by public complaints over the pet projects hidden in annual spending bills. (READ MORE)

Dim Bulbs - The White House is boasting that the energy bill President Bush signed on Wednesday is actually less ambitious than the agenda proposed in his State of the Union address earlier this year. That's praising with faint damns. As recently as last week, it seemed the final draft might have raised taxes on the oil and gas industries by some $21 billion to fund subsidies for wind and solar projects. (READ MORE)

Irish Opening - A pair of former enemies in Northern Ireland recently traveled together to Boston, New York and Washington, where they met with President Bush. They also stopped by to see us. The message Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein politician Martin McGuinness came to deliver: Sectarian violence is in the past and now they want to promote a booming ... (READ MORE)

Election Shenanigans - Push is coming to sucker punch at the Federal Election Commission, the regulatory agency tasked with enforcing campaign finance laws. The Senate has declined to confirm the nominations of three commissioners whose recess appointments will soon lapse, so the FEC will no longer be operational. We sympathize with those who welcome such a prospect. (READ MORE)

Bush Hits Congress' Continued Pork - President Bush yesterday promised to crack down on wasteful spending in the just-passed federal budget, lambasting Congress for including too many earmarks in the $555 billion spending bill. (READ MORE)

China Taps into U.S. Spy Operations - China's intelligence service gained access to a secret National Security Agency listening post in Hawaii through a Chinese-language translation service, according to U.S. intelligence officials. (READ MORE)

India's Nuclear Bargain Blocked - Communist Party leaders say they are trying to keep U.S. influence at bay and protect India's poor from ruthless foreign enterprises by blocking a deal on nuclear energy with the United States. (READ MORE)

Webb: Illegals Broad Issue - Sen. Jim Webb yesterday said localities and states should do what is in their best interests to address their problems with illegal aliens. (READ MORE)

Open Borders Raise Concerns in W. Europe - Nine new countries joined the passport-free Schengen travel zone today, easing trade and travel but raising fears in some quarters that crime syndicates and terrorists will find it easier to reach Western European capitals. (READ MORE)

Scientists Doubt Climate Change - More than 400 scientists challenge claims by former Vice President Al Gore and the United Nations about the threat of man-made global warming, a new Senate minority report says. (READ MORE)

From the Front:
never as funny the second time: the palace that Saddam didn’t build - Saddam Hussein, during his tenure as absolute dictator (or benevolent father, depending on who you ask), built somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 palaces for various purposes. some were for his sons, some were vacation retreats, and some were meant to accomplish government business. but the 15th gem in this crown of palatial residences, the edifice to outshine all edifices (see if you can find anyone else who has used “edifices” in a sentence - i dare you!) cannot be other than the room that the rhino and i moved into two weeks ago. (READ MORE)

Michael Yon: One Step Forward - Local police estimated that the crowd of parade viewers reached 10,000, some of whom undoubtedly turned out because of the press. But I’d heard from the soldiers about a special person who would have been a parade of one to greet their return. Before the parades and publicity, the soldiers knew this one person was always with them. While we were out lurking around the Iranian border, several soldiers talked to me about her, saying things like, “Please write something good about her.” They wanted her to know how much they appreciated her many gestures of support, especially the handwritten letters she sent to the wounded soldiers—who numbered over seventy—and their families. (READ MORE)

A Surgeon's Letters Home From Iraq: 21 DEC 2007 Suicide Bombing - It’s a little after midnight, and I’m spent. I’ve operated for about 18 hours today. We had a sudden rush of patients after a suicide bombing in a city near us. We received several injured US troops, and they had us busy in the OR for a while. I also helped put an IV in to a baby who had been shot in the head. How did it happen? All I was told was that it was an accident. There are no accidents. Another troop was treated for intentionally hurting himself. He said he only wounded himself because he couldn’t drum up the nerve to kill himself. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Obvious Enough for You? - WaPo offers a classic example of clueless reporting. Sudarsan Raghavan traveled to Najaf to interview Iraqi Shiites unhappy with the top religious leaders, and he missed what the people were telling him. The headline says, "Disaffected Iraqis Spurn Dominant Shiite Clerics." And the story begins this way: "In recent interviews in this spiritual capital, the subtle backlash against the marjaiya exposed the depth of popular frustration over the lack of long-term progress, even as violence in Iraq has declined under a 10-month-old U.S.-led security offensive." So far, so good. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Frederick W. Kagan: Our Friends in Baghdad - Will the United States remain committed to supporting its friends and opposing its enemies in the Muslim world? This question has been asked for decades by people from Indonesia to Morocco and throughout the Middle East. And there is no clear answer. American engagement in the Muslim world has been fitful and incoherent, leaving our friends and our opponents believing that we are at best unreliable. In the past, supporting our friends has been taken to mean Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. In the case of the last three, it has meant helping more or less authoritarian governments retain power in exchange for their help in stabilizing the region. (READ MORE)

Peggy Noonan: American Pastoral - I didn't see the famous floating cross. What I saw when I watched Mike Huckabee's Christmas commercial was a nice man in a sweater sitting next to a brightly lit tree. He had easy warmth and big brown puppy-dog eyes, and he talked about taking a break from politics to remember the peace and joy of the season. Sounds good to me. Only on second look did I see the white lines of the warmly lit bookcase, which formed a glowing cross. Someone had bothered to remove the books from that bookcase, or bothered not to put them in. Maybe they would have dulled the lines. (READ MORE)

Kimberly A. Strassel: Leap of Faith - As pigs in pokes go, the Democratic Party bought itself a big one in 1988. Michael Dukakis was relatively unknown, but he was also the last man standing. Only too late did his party, along with the rest of the country, realize Mr. Dukakis was a typecast liberal--a furlougher of felons, and a guy who looked mighty awkward in a tank. This is what happens when a party takes a flyer, and it could be Republicans' turn with Mike Huckabee. The former Baptist minister and governor of Arkansas is surging in Iowa, and is tied with Rudy Giuliani in national polls. He's selling his party on a simple message: (READ MORE)

William Wilson: A Gift from Divided Government - Amid all the stories of gloom and doom filling the news as we crawl to the final days of 2007, a bright and shining nugget was given to the American people this week. More surprising yet, this wonderful gift came from none other than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. While the professional commentators and self-appointed gurus bemoan “gridlock” and the ills of divided government in Washington, the actual results of inaction are a blessing for all those who believe in constitutional principles and the Bill of Rights. (READ MORE)

Joel Mowbray: Official Behind Open-Door-For-Saudis To Resign - Defying the axiom that no bungling bureaucrat goes unrewarded, the woman ultimately responsible for the backlog of 2 million passports this year — and who then withheld the truth from Congress — was passed over for a major promotion, and consequently will resign her post early next year. While the millions whose honeymoons, vacations and business plans were ruined will be pleased that someone has been held responsible, it is U.S. border security that could be the biggest beneficiary of consular chief Maura Harty stepping down. (READ MORE)

Rich Tucker: The Foolishness of Fearmongering - It’s important to remember the past and to learn from it, but you’ll never move ahead if you spend all your time looking backward. So why do so many presidential candidates spend so much time peering over their shoulders? “The first time I ever came out to Iowa was with Senator Culver on his first campaign in ’74. And one thing seems different now. You ride across this magnificent state and you see so much open land -- and so few farmers,” Sen. Joe Biden said during a Democratic debate on Dec. 13. And, he wondered, “How do you preserve family farmers? (READ MORE)

Oliver North: A Christmas Gift From Our Troops in Iraq (Part 4 of Series) - BAQOUBA, Iraq -- It is nearly Christmas, and most of the young Americans with whom we have spent this month are going to miss the holiday with their families. For many, it is their third Nativity season away from home since Operation Iraqi Freedom began in 2003. Though you may not have noticed it beneath your tree, the troops here have sent you a gift that is far more valuable than a new hand tool or iPod. It's a present that they made by hand with extraordinary care so that you can use it every day for the rest of your life -- and that your children can use after you are gone. (READ MORE)

Charles Krauthammer: Success Against the Axis - WASHINGTON -- Just four months after 9/11, George Bush identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the "axis of evil" and declared that defanging these rogue regimes was America's most urgent national security task. Bush will be judged on whether he succeeded. Six years later and with time running out on this administration, the Bush legacy is clear: one for three. Contrary to current public opinion, Bush will have succeeded on Iraq, failed on Iran and fought North Korea to a draw. (READ MORE)

Jonah Goldberg: Hillary's Holiday Hogwash - Well, the most disgusting, craven, shameless political ad of the election season has just come out in time for Christmas - and, no, it's not from Mike Huckabee. It's from Hillary Clinton. Huckabee's ad has gotten all of the attention because of its alleged "floating cross" masquerading as a bookshelf (or vice versa) and its overall 700 Club Christmas Special feel. But you know what? There's no public policy involved in his ad. Sure, there's a dose of Christian identity politics - more than a dose according to some - but no one following the race is particularly stunned to find out that Mike Huckabee is a committed Christian. His ads say he's a "Christian leader" and that his faith "defines" him. (READ MORE)

Linda Chavez: Destroying CIA Tapes Deserves a Thank You - His name isn't yet familiar to most Americans, but I expect it will be by the end of 2008: Jose A. Rodriguez Jr. He is the man, according to recent press reports, who ordered the destruction of interrogation tapes made by the CIA, which allegedly show the effects of waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" used against terrorists Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. In the next few months, his name will likely be dragged through the mud, and he will be vilified as a rogue official engaged in a massive cover-up. I think he deserves a medal. (READ MORE)

Mona Charen: Torture and the Democrats - It didn't get a lot of attention, but in mid-December, U.S. forces in Iraq discovered an al Qaeda torture center north of Baghdad. Muqdadiya is about 60 miles north of the capital. American soldiers found a blood-spattered room where chains still hung on the gory walls. A metal bed frame was still connected to an electric shock generator. The Americans also found bloody knives and swords. Outside, the bodies of 26 people were buried in common graves. That al Qaeda has made rape, torture and murder its calling card in Iraq is not news. (READ MORE)

Ann Coulter: There’s a Huckabee Born Every Minute - Despite the overwhelming popular demand for another column on Ron Radosh's review of Stan Evans' book, this week's column will address the urgent matter of evangelical Christians getting blamed for Mike Huckabee. To paraphrase the Jews, this is "bad for the evangelicals." As far as I can tell, it's mostly secular liberals swooning over Huckabee. Liberals adore Huckabee because he fits their image of what an evangelical should be: stupid and easily led. (READ MORE)

Ross Mackenzie: Two Marvelous Gifts From the Democrats in Santa's Workshop - Christmas and the holidays are a time of giving and presents. So what better time to check the list of our ever-generous, oh-so-good friends the Democrats? In Santa’s workshop this year, the Democrats in Congress have, let’s see: (1) attempted to raise entitlement spending by $179 billion; (2) tried to add $300 billion to the deficit over the next decade through 11,351 pork-barrel projects (such as the millions Hillary Clinton sought for a proposed museum to the Woodstock Nation on property owned by a billionaire Clinton donor); and (3) sought to add $98 billion in news taxes over the next 10 years. (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: A Little Morning Heresy - In my recent theological explorations, I've encountered a certain mentality among the more evangelically-minded -- their faith is so strong, so absolute, that nothing can shake it. But their subject of faith isn't God, but the environment. The agnostic in me gets its rankles up when I'm told that certain things are simply indisputable, beyond question, and cannot be argued with. That seems to be the attitude a lot of people have in regards to global warming. (READ MORE)

Jim Addison: McCain, Drudge, and the NYT - The Drudge Report is headlining a leaked New York Times story alleging Senator John McCain gave "special treatment" to a lobbyist for the telecommunications industry at some unspecified point in the past (presumably while he was Chairman of the committee overseeing that legislation). No details are yet available, but part of the Drudge story is that the McCain campaign, and the Senator himself, has urged NYT Editor Bill Keller not to run the story. McCain himself confirms contact, but denies they are "in talks" with the paper. (READ MORE)

DJ Drummond: The American Imperative - The mainstream media was long ago identified as an enemy of the Conservative Movement in the United States. So it should be no surprise that whenever an opportunity arises to disrupt the Republican Party to the advantage of Liberals, the media is quick and eager to assist in that mischief. This, in sum, is the media's reason for their fascination with Congressman Ron Paul's candidacy, the perverse hope that casting him as a true Conservative will split the Republican vote and assist the Democrats' candidate in claiming the White House. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Winning ways - Clint Watts, a former US Army Infantry Officer, FBI Special Agent and Executive Officer of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point argues against slavishly reproducing the tactics that have been so successful in Anbar in Afghanistan. The U.S. is correct to seize upon any opportunity to dislodge al-Qa’ida from Pakistan’s tribal regions, especially if it involves the use of surrogates. However, it should not use a blanket strategy of alliances with al-Qa’ida’s hosts if the social, cultural and geographic conditions make its chances of success unlikely. If it does, U.S. forces might be the ones entangled, stretched logistically, and in conflict with the local ideology. As al-Qa’ida in Somalia and Iraq has learned, this is a bad place to be. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Congressional Dems Want Surrender On Surrender - Congressional Democrats have finally tired of fighting for surrender and will pressure Nancy Pelosi to end the battles over Iraq war funding. The Politico reports that Pelosi and Harry Reid haven't gotten the message yet, even with the fatigue clearly showing in their latest efforts to block war funding without strings attached: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, despite their pledges to continue pushing to end the war in Iraq, face growing pressure from their rank-and-file Democrats to focus more attention on domestic, 'pocketbook' issues in the upcoming election year." (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Go CFLs - Marketplace economics includes supply, not just demand - The new energy bill passed by Congress and signed by the president includes the phase out of the incandescent lamp after 125 years of service. Well, it had a nice run. Telegraphs are gone. Crank telephones are gone. This is not the 1890s. Some conservatives are crying foul. Marketplace economics! Marketplace economics! Marketplace economics! The phrase is shouted like Gomer Pyle screaming “Citizens arrest!” at Barney Fife’s patrol car. Sam Kazman of the American Spectator wrote wistfully of Thomas Edison’s invention, and made 5 get-a-horse arguments against these new-fangled contraptions. (READ MORE)

McQ: Radical Islam - the goal - It's probably not the clearest statement of the goal, but then many others belonging to radical Islamic factions have said basically the same thing. There is a part of Islam, a radical faction, which wants world-wide Islamic control to become a reality. Per Jihad Watch, the latest announcement of such a goal comes from our good friend President Ahmadinejad in Iran in a statement he made in Saudi Arabia: “IRI President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said here Wednesday on Al-Adha Eid Day in Saudi Arabia [that the] philosophy of Haj can be defined merely through considering Islam's aim at establishment of a global government.” (READ MORE)

John Hawkins: On The Nature Of Ron Paul's Support - One of the stories that's really circulating in the blogosphere right now is about Ron Paul's ties to white power and Nazi groups. Here's what you have to understand about Ron Paul: once you get beyond the anti-war libs who like him because he wants to leave Iraq immediately and a few mainstream conservatives with little "l" Libertarian leanings, his support is made up mostly of people who are on the fringes on politics. They're anti-war paleocons, Big "L" libertarians, truthers, the North American Union crowd, and other people who are generally ignored by mainstream politicians. (READ MORE)

Ilya Somin: Political Ignorance and the Iowa Caucuses - One of the underanalyzed questions in the current presidential election is the extent to which the results are likely to be influenced by political ignorance. In general, primary voters are likely to be better-informed than the average citizen, and caucus goers even more so (because attendance at a caucus requires a much higher investment of time and effort and therefore tends to draw more committed voters with a higher level of interest in politics). Nonetheless, this recent Des Moines Register poll of likely Iowa caucus voters suggests that ignorance may well have a major impact even in the election with perhaps the country's best-informed voters. The poll asked "likely" participants in the Republican and Democratic Iowa Caucuses whether they believe they need more information about 19 major issues in the campaign. (READ MORE)

Winds of Change: US Army Refuses to Give Soldiers Rifles that Won't Jam in Combat - It seemed like a routine request. Order more M4 carbines for US forces in the pending FY 2007 supplemental, FY 2008 budget, and FY 2008 supplemental funding bills. It has turned into anything but a routine exercise, however - with serving soldiers, journalists, and Senators casting a very critical eye on the effort and the rifle, and demanding open competition. With requests amounting to $375 million for weapons and $150 million in accessories, they say, the Army's proposal amounts to an effort to replace the M16 as the USA's primary battle rifle - using specifications that are around 15 years old, without a competition, and without considering whether better 5.56 mm alternatives might be available off the shelf. (READ MORE)

The Tygrrr Express: General Petraeus and the CAIR Bears - Although Time Magazine has not been relevant for a couple decades, their “Person of the Year” award is a clever marketing tool that allows the magazine to convince people once a year that people actually read the thing. Long known as a liberal shill, U.S. News and World Report left it in the dust by making the revolutionary decision to actually report the news (hence the title) rather than editorialize it. In the great tradition of the Academy Awards and the Nobel Peace Prize, The Person of the Year is another way of crowning somebody on the political left. The only time anybody right of center can win is under situations so calamitous that pressure mandates it. (READ MORE)

Paul Mirengoff: Washington Post fires latest front page salvo against Israel - The reliably anti-Israel Washington Post features a front page story today about the "isolation and exclusion" of Israel's Arab citizens. It begins with a portrait of a young Arab-Israeli couple. We learn that they were educated at a prestigious art and architecture academy in Jerusalem and live in "an airy," stylishly furnished house in the Galilee. They have many Jewish friends with whom they take vacations. However, their application to live in a new community of 150 families on state land was rejected, and they seem to have good reason to believe this was due to the fact that they are Arabs. In response, they have filed a complaint of discrimination. Meanwhile, Arab members of the Jewish parliament, working with the Jewish majority in that body, have mandated the construction of a new city in the area for Arabs. (READ MORE)

Charlie Munn: Where for Art Thou, NATO? - Afghanistan was made a NATO mission ala Kosovo, in the hopes that the countries of the world would pitch in and send troops, easing the burden on the US, increasing cooperation between militaries, and joining in protecting against a security threat to the world. First, we got caveats: “The restrictions, also called caveats, vary and are imposed by governments who fear casualties or don't agree with all parts of the mission. Other caveats are due to a lack of training or equipment.” Most specific countries’ caveats are classified, but they generally include issues such as not fighting at night, not using crowd control weapons, not responding to local security incidents, and not participating in extended patrols. Now, caveats seem to have been dispensed with in favor of just not any sending troops: (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: Open borders principal: “We’ve been bloggercized” - Hey, remember that Open Borders 101 high school course I blogged about last week–where the students put themselves in an illegal alien’s shoes and were taught how to evade the law and cook up schemes to fraudulently gain legal status, but were never taught to put themselves in the shoes of anyone who has a dissenting perspective on illegal immigration? Well, the school has responded to the Internet backlash. They’re standing by the propagandizing teacher. Via the Columbus Dispatch: (READ MORE)

Amy Proctor: (VIDEO) 266 Soldiers From One Unit ReEnlist in Baghdad - Ten months into their 15 month deployment in Iraq, 266 soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division in Baghdad were sworn in by Chief of Staff GEN Casey in a mass re-enlistment ceremony in one of Saddam’s old palaces. One of the soldiers, SPC Michael Lee, said: “I feel great. I feel honored to be re-enlisting right now. It’s about my second one (re-enlistment), so I feel like I could try to make this a career.” (READ MORE)

Quid Nimis: A Picture, As They Say... - According to an article at, there are currently plenty of public housing units to meet demand. Nevertheless, some city council members are resisting the demolition of Katrina-damaged buildings because the mixed-use area that would replace them reduces the number of public housing units to about a third of what it was in the antedeluvial New Orleans. It's politics, of course- people aren't moving back and it isn't really because the government hasn't made it attractive enough to move back. Even the government can't raise NOLa twenty feet above sea level. But all of this back and forth isn't nearly as interesting as the picture some subversive editor decided to include with the story, here with the actual caption: (READ MORE)

Jihad Watch: "Allah willing, we will reach America....The eyes of the nation of Muhammad are set on Washington, London, Moscow, Paris, Delhi, Beijing, and other countries" - Note the references to the necessity to imitate Muhammad's example. Will CAIR issue a response to this? Will other Muslims who claim that Islam has no expansionist agenda? What do you think? "Leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan: 'Allah Willing, America Will Soon Be Annihilated… We Will Reach America… The Eyes of the Nation of Muhammad are set on Washington, London, Moscow, Paris, Delhi, Beijing,'" from MEMRI: (READ MORE)

Susan Katz Keating: This Just In Re the CIA Interrogation Tapes - Keep an eye on the District of Columbia court filings this afternoon. I have it on excellent authority that the James Madison Project plans to file a lawsuit today aimed at lighting a fire under the tailbones of the info-guardians at CIA. The folks at James Madison - an anti-secrecy nonprofit organization - want to compel the Central Intelligence Agency to speed up the processing of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking release of documents pertaining to the destruction of terrorist interrogation videotapes. Got that? The James Madison group, under the stewardship of director Mark Zaid, wants to know why and how the CIA got rid of those tapes. The group wants the CIA to tell the truth and be quick about it. (READ MORE)

Have an interesting post or know of a "must read?" Then send a trackback here and let us all know about it. Or you can send me an email with a link to the post and I'll update the Recon.

No comments: