January 3, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 01/03/2008

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

In the News: (Registration may be required to read some stories)
President Bloomberg - The first Presidential nominating contests are only beginning, but already New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is stealing attention as a potential third-party candidate. We trust he's read the history of what usually happens to such candidates--they lose, finishing essentially as spoilers. (READ MORE)

Last Pitches Before the First Vote - The presidential candidates made their final appeals to voters Wednesday in the earliest-starting and most expensive campaign in Iowa history, fanning out across the state in search of a victory and crucial momentum headed into a front-loaded primary season. (READ MORE)

Choosing a Candidate, and More - So far, the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign has little of the tone of past battles, such as the 1984 fight between Walter F. Mondale and Gary Hart, or even Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign to rebrand the party with his New Democrat label. (READ MORE)

Suicide Blast Targets U.S.-Allied Iraqi Force - A suicide bomber blew himself up on the hood of a car driven by a member of Iraq's burgeoning Sunni-dominated security forces, the latest in a series of recent attacks against the U.S.-backed militiamen, according to U.S. military and Iraqi officials. (READ MORE)

Justice Dept. to Open Criminal Probe in CIA's Destruction of Tapes - Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey announced today that the Justice Department will open a criminal investigation of the CIA's destruction of videotapes that showed harsh interrogation tactics of suspected terrorists. (READ MORE)

U.K. to Help Pakistan Investigate Bhutto Case - KARACHI, Pakistan, Jan. 2 -- A team of Scotland Yard investigators will probe the killing of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced in a nationwide address Wednesday night. Musharraf also defended the postponement of parliamentary elections until Feb. 18,... (READ MORE)

From the Front:
BlogIraq: Just too much hatred - Everyday I look into about 40 to 50 websites to look for news, views, and discussions about Iraq. Many of the websites I browse are Iraqi. And it is just disgusting how much hatred everyone is spreading. It is actually starting to get into me. I mean I used to be a very calm person. I used to turn the other cheek". And I used to get angry when someone keeps annoying me with very harmful things for like a thousand years. But now, when I look into what everyone around is writing, I just feel disgusted. How have we turned to this? (READ MORE)

Desert Dude: 2 January - Just another day on the FOB…kinda got bitched at because I haven’t worn my actual uniform in a few days…we are supposed to wear our uniform during duty hours except on Fridays and Sundays—those are NOT down days, but days of relaxed battle rhythm…whatever…they are down days except for people who need to work…which is every day here…anyhoo…I was asked what my duty hours are and what days we are working…my answer is very simple –if there are broke trucks we work, if there are no broke trucks we don’t work…that’s it… (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: When a Conspiracy Plot is All You've Got - You probably know that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki was in London over the weekend for medical tests. You may even have seen footage of him at the Baghdad airport, climbing up the stairs to the airplane that would take him to the U.K. But did you know that Al-Maliki had just suffered three strokes within 72 hours, that his trip to London was an “emergency evacuation,” and that this “health crisis” may even be connected to a reorientation of U.S. policy against Shiite clerical parties? (READ MORE)

Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: Gravediggers Redux - Since my original Gravediggers entry covered the men who were there when I first arrived to the platoon over a year ago, I figured I should clarify the characters who will shape the coming months of my life, and who I hope to bring into sharper focus for you via this online journal. Cue simplistic-yet-perfectly-fitting sports analogy: Here’s the lineup. (READ MORE)

A Surgeon's Letters Home From Iraq: 2 JAN 2008 The kids are alright - Shot up people come here in helicopters. They get their bellies, chests, and heads opened up. It continues on and on. I recently learned this proverb from friends. (You know who you are!) I'm going to paraphrase it, so my apologies if it comes out caterwampus. A man is walking along a river. He hears a drowning man calling for help. He jumps into the water and pulls the man to safety. As he climbs out of the water, he hears another drowning man calling for help. Again he jumps in and saves this second man's help. The three are standing on the bank of the river and they hear more drowning men calling for help. The first man starts to head upstream. The two men he saved say to him: (READ MORE)

LTC Richard Phillips: Meanwhile back at Salerno - Happy New Year! I received an email from TOP: I haven't had computer access for a few weeks. I did want to write you and tell you that I sent you a couple of disks with pictures on it.. a lot of them. There is the old tent complex and then the new hospital... Right now it is just a building and when the new unit moves in a few weeks, then it will be a hospital with personnel and equipment that can and will accept patients. I contracted most of it and coordinated a lot of the building. We had a building acceptance ceremony and then LTC Phillips left the AO. (READ MORE)

Sergeant Grumpy: Thanks to the Mil Supporters everywhere - I want to wish everyone a belated Happy New Year. We all were very busy on New Years Eve Day, and weren't quite sure we would RTB in time to actually count-down the New Year, but in the end we did. MTF. What I really want to post is this e-mail from a friend of mine, to Hope of Hoperadio, who is a great supporter of several deployed units. I am guessing that out of humility Hope won't post it, but I want all the great milsupporters out there to get to read this. I could never say thank you better than this: (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Daniel Henninger: The Pre-Election Paradox - On New Year's Eve, Gallup's poll delivered unto us the good news that 84% of Americans say they are satisfied with how things are going for them personally. What Woody Allen might say about that phenomenal datum of good cheer one can only guess. One then has to account for the darker data Gallup released two weeks earlier: Some 70% of those responding believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction. (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: The Flawed but Useful Iowa Caucuses - This much is certain on the day after the Iowa caucuses: There will be plenty of kvetching and moaning about the system. The winners will praise the Hawkeye State's voters as the wisest voters in America and celebrate the process as a shining example of democracy in action. The losers will assail it as unfair, exclusive, convoluted, unrepresentative, archaic and in screaming need of reform. One Hillary Clinton supporter -- much to the campaign's chagrin -- couldn't keep his lips buttoned before the votes were cast. (READ MORE)

Ken Blackwell: Ballot Box Integrity v. Voters without Borders - On January 9, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments for one of the biggest election law cases in years. This case might decide who becomes president of the United States in a close election, and shape the future of the country. The Court will hear arguments in the consolidated cases of Crawford v. Marion County and Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita. At issue in the case is Indiana’s new voter ID law. This law requires people showing up on Election Day to show government-issued picture identification. (READ MORE)

Matt Towery: Give Me Back My Party - When I started both this column and our now nine-year-old polling and political electronic news firm, I swore off partisan politics. I don't campaign for candidates and don't really care who wins any particular race. I have to treat politicians like a proctologist treats, well, nevermind . . . But my non-partisanship doesn't keep me from looking at the Republican Party -- the one that gave us Ronald Reagan and took over the U.S. House in the 1994 elections -- and ask, "Who stole my party?" (READ MORE)

William Rusher: Iraq In 2008 - There is always much about the future that is obscure, but of one thing we can be reasonably certain: In 2008, the United States will be involved militarily in Iraq. It may be a largely peaceful involvement, centering on the military occupation of key areas, or it may have a major combat component, depending on the enemy's capability and intentions, but that America will be there, there is no doubt at all. The occasional politician demanding prompt and total withdrawal from Iraq is simply fantasizing, and the Democrats know this, as well as the Republicans. (READ MORE)

Donald Lambro: Lame Duck? Bush is the Comeback Kid - WASHINGTON -- Well, 2007 was the year when people predicted the economy would be in a recession, the Iraq war was lost and Democrats would be dictating policy to a weak, lame-duck president. But the U.S. economy is still expanding, racking up nearly 5 percent growth in the third quarter, violence has plummeted in Iraq as a result of President Bush's military surge, the first of American troops are coming home and the Democrats lost all of the major legislative fights of the year. So much for those predictions. (READ MORE)

Marvin Olasky: Wanted: Sam Adams Republicans - Humorous Mike Huckabee has become the sum of all fears for many members of the GOP establishment. Some of the attacks arise out of plain old Christophobia, and Huckabee can't do much about that. But some come from concern that he's a Christian-only candidate: On these matters he can take lessons from Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry. Adams failed as an 18th-century brewmaster but mastered the art of building coalitions without losing a biblical edge. Adams, sometimes called "the last Puritan," prayed every morning, read the Bible with his family every evening, and frequently emphasized the importance of "Endeavors to Promote the spiritual kingdom of Jesus Christ." (READ MORE)

Larry Elder: Baseball's 'Broken Trust' -- What About Traditional Media? - When the Mitchell Report came out -- accusing more than 80 professional baseball players of using performance-enhancing substances -- television commentators lectured viewers about "broken trust." One commentator, in particular, somberly expressed his disappointment. I found myself asking, "Wasn't this the same guy who, as a motorist, struck someone on a bicycle? And even though witnesses yelled, 'Stop! Stop!' he continued through two red lights while dragging the bicycle underneath the car?" The commentator insisted he was "unaware" he'd hit the cyclist. (READ MORE)

Emmett Tyrrell: Adieu, Crybaby Kerry Clock - WASHINGTON -- James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal's resident anthropologist, put it perfectly when he described Sen. Jean-Francois Kerry as "a comic perpetual motion machine." And as such, the junior senator from Massachusetts provides an invaluable service to us. He provokes us to laugh about wholesome excess -- not the ribald mishaps of a Sen. Larry Craig or, if your memory is well-tuned, of Rep. Barney Frank. The Hon. Kerry -- with his ponderous gravitas, his implausible presumptions to achievements in the arts, in athletics and, who knows, perhaps in ballet -- is the reductio ad absurdum of the modern American politician's colossal claims to greatness in all the departments of human endeavor. (READ MORE)

Ann Coulter: Kwanzaa: Holiday From The FBI - Is it just me, or does Kwanzaa seem to come earlier and earlier each year? The same goes for the Iowa caucuses -- the early scheduling of which forced me to run an attack on a synthetic candidate, rather than a synthetic holiday, last week. I've seen so few mentions of Kwanzaa this year, I was going to declare my campaign a success, but I see that President Bush issued another absurd Kwanzaa message in December, referring to millions of African-Americans gathering to celebrate Kwanzaa. (READ MORE)

Dinesh D'Souza: Why the Left Hates Democracy - Commenting on Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, I recently commented that there are three groups that oppose democracy in the Muslim world: the secular dictators like Musharaff, the Islamic radicals of the Bin Laden stripe, and the cultural left here in America. In response, several people expressed indignation. One challenged me to provide a single example of a leftist who opposed Muslim democracy. Other liberals noted that they favored the idea of democracy but alas it wasn't succeeding in Iraq. Certainly it does seem odd that a left which is always calling for "more democracy" in America would resist democracy in Muslim countries. (READ MORE)

Rich Galen: Last Days in Iowa - The Iowa Caucuses will be held tomorrow night and there should be some clear results by about 9 PM Central time and some clearing of both the Republican and Democratic fields shortly after. Last night I had dinner with two senior political reporters which included a drop-by with a senior political operative for one of the major Democratic candidates. The rule of the encounter was we are "on background" meaning no names, no affiliations. (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: Dishonorable Killings - The practice of relatives murdering those who they perceive to have dishonored their families is unfortunately far more widespread than we'd like to hope for. While some call the practice honor killings, I'd prefer calling them dishonorable murders, because that's exactly what they are. The person commiting the murder is the one engaged in the dishonor, not the woman (and it invariably is the woman) who did something to offend their family. Sometimes, the act of "dishonor" is wearing clothes that are too revealing. Sometimes, it's being seen with a boy. Sometimes, it's going against their father's wishes. The net result, however, is the murder of a family relative. (READ MORE)

A Soldier's Mind: Flag Of My Father - When I read the article I’m going to relate to you, I felt it was a story that our readers would enjoy reading and would appreciate the meaning behind what this young man is doing. This is a story about a young man who is carrying on his family’s tradition of service to our country and who’s proud of the honor and integrity that goes along with one’s service to our country. This story says a lot about pride in our country and showing that pride through a persons actions. "When he goes out on patrol, PFC Alexander Cesario, a forward observer with Company A, Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, makes sure that he has each piece of eqiuipment that he’ll need for that mission." (READ MORE)

Dafydd: Use an iPod, Go to Jail - The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has found a clever, new way to jump the shark and make itself look like an organization of dangerous buffoons. I could simply tell you what they're doing; but it's so bizarre, you would accuse me of making it up. Instead, I'll advance the central point of this post via a quote from the Washington Post: "Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer." (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Voting Democrat is Bad for Your Health - Everyone of the Democrats wants some kind of universal health care that is paid for by taxpayers. They want ever person in this country covered (citizen or not) and they want to ensure that the government has its grubby little hands in the mix from beginning to end. What they want is to be able to make all the decisions for you. Over weight? You don't get treated. Smoker, no treatment for you. Eat meat, you can't be treated. Drink alcohol, too bad, so sad. The only people who will get great health care are those in Congress who abuse the military health care system that they claim does not take care of the troops (but there is a private floor just for them). (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Iraq casualty numbers - US deaths in Iraq are at the lowest 3 month total ever (hat tip: Free Republic). The three month total for October, November and December 2007 is 93. It's also the first time a 3 month total has dropped below 3 digits. The table is given after the "Read More". (READ MORE)

Blackfive: Operation Puppy Love - Bringing DJ Home - [Editor Note: While a bit lengthy, the entire tale of Operation Puppy Love is published with no Jump. These men and the efforts of Blake, Tom, and others need to be told. Feel free to forward, print, post, publish - Blackfive] Meet a few heroes. The men of 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas, were on patrol in Iraq in 2007. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: And They Came Home - It’s been a while but now is the time to write. The troops I covered in both Mosul, Fallujah, and other places in Iraq, including my own son in Taji, have returned home now. For many, the reunion was glorious and very long awaited. I was able to be present on one particular homecoming on December 8, 2007, at Biggs Army Airfield, in Ft. Bliss, Texas, near El Paso. Members of 2/7 Cav came home via commercial airliner and arrived to a multitude of family and friends all quite excited. It was a sight to see and a lasting image in my mind shall remain forever. I felt that it was the culmination to a long journey that had to be witnessed. As many of you know, I’ve been home since October. I knew that the others would follow by early December. My wife and I made the trip from Albuquerque to El Paso one day in early Devcember and coordinated with the ones in charge to be present. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: The Final Polling In Iowa: Clinton Fades - The final polling before the Iowa caucuses has come from a joint Reuters/Zogby/C-SPAN survey, and the news for Hillary looks bad. She now comes in third behind the inexperienced duo of Barack Obama and John Edwards. This continues a slow fade for Hillary that had its start in a botched November debate answer: Democrat Barack Obama surged to a four-point lead over John Edwards in Iowa, with Hillary Clinton fading to third just hours before the first presidential nominating contest, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Thursday. (READ MORE)

Dennis Lormel: Looking Back and Forward at Terrorist Financing and Money Laundering Highlights - As 2007 ends and we embark into 2008, a look back at the past year and forward to the coming year offers interesting observations about terrorist financing and money laundering. An issue that has been constant and was certainly prevalent in 2007 in the U.S. financial services sector was Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and U.S. PATRIOT Act reporting requirements. One specific requirement, Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs), has been an area of contention. Current regulations require financial institutions to file CTRs for transactions over $10,000. (READ MORE)

Zachary Abuza: Southern Discomfort: Thailand's Insurgency Enters Year Five - Narathiwat, Thailand. Friday, 4 January, marks the 4th anniversary of the start of the insurgency in Southern Thailand. To date, more than 2,700 people have been killed, 8,000 wounded. There have been more than 850 bombings, and many more failed or aborted bombings, including six bombs on New Year’s Eve in the border town of Sungai Golok, that wounded 32. There have been more than 600 arson attacks, including well over 250 schools. Militants have assassinated nearly 1,400 people. (READ MORE)

Don Surber: TV welfare - Live in the stone age of television, collect $40 from taxpayers. On Feb. 18, 2009, the United States will join most of the modern world and switch to digital broadcasting only of television. If you still have rabbit ears — an antenna — to receive the broadcast, you will need a converter. Welcome to the 21st century, Luddites. But hey, AP reported that taxpayers will pay $40 to each of these people who apparently still watch TV in black and white. Congress mandated this TV welfare. Cost: $1.5 billion. Welcome to the 20th century, taxpayers. (READ MORE)

Dymphna: “Honor” Killings in Texas? - There are news reports of the “honor killings” in Texas of two adolescent girls by their father: “Area police continue to search for a man who they believe killed his two teenage daughters and left their bodies in a taxi at an Irving hotel. Police sealed off a street and surrounded the man’s home in Lewisville for more than five hours Wednesday but found that Yaser Abdel Said, 50, a cabdriver, was not inside. He is being sought in connection with the deaths of Amina Yaser Said, 18, and Sarah Yaser Said, 17. Both victims died of multiple gunshot wounds, the Dallas County medical examiner’s office ruled Wednesday…” Most of the reports I’ve read focus on the names and ages of the father and daughters. I wasn’t going to report on it, but I realized this is just going to be labeled another Islamic “honor killing” - which hardly does the tragedy the justice it deserves. (READ MORE)

Kit Lange: Americans Standing Up in Philadelphia - On Sunday, 30 December, 2007 , the Veteran’s for Peace (the old holdovers from VVAW), Code Pink, the usual assortment of leftists and one poor IVAW vet assembled in Philadelphia to call for impeachment of both the President and Vice President. This pathetic assemblage was led by Bill Perry, Vietnam vet and “Winter Soldier” participant. I have included Bill’s testimony below so you can see exactly whom we are up against. Although we were out-numbered 5 or 6 to one, we made our voices heard and were able to rain on their little America hate-fest. Perry even threw the microphone to the ground when I read his “Winter Soldier” testimony aloud, and the chants of “Soldiers died when Perry lied!” rang out. (READ MORE)

Amy Proctor: Iraqi Saves U.S. Troops and Civilians From Suicide Bomber - CLCs, or Concerned Local Citizens, are volunteers who take a vital stand in fighting terrorism in Iraq by acting as an armed neighborhood watch in their communities. Without these CLCs, the progress in of Iraq would not nearly be what it is today. A large part of the success of this program is a result of the example of local sheiks in organizing and leading these initiatives. A sheik in one such CLC group described an incident in which U.S. soldiers were registering volunteers for the CLC program at a local outpost when a suicide bomber broke through security. The sheik described how one CLC grabbed the suicide bomber as he ran toward U.S. soldiers and Iraqi citizens and dragged him 15 yards away before the bomber detonated himself. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Blood Dividend - Wretchard and his commenters on the latest grim milestone: plummeting casualty figures hit lowest three-month total to date. Fewer Americans and Iraqis are dying. The American and Iraqi deaths and injuries in the first half of 2007 bought this calm. Security within which political solutions may be arrived at is achieved in this manner. It is no frivolous accomplishment and nothing to be dismissed or frittered away, because it was bought with the blood of our people. The bitter lesson of history is that walking away ultimately will cost more, whether in Iraq or elsewhere. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Mullah Omar confirms firing of Mullah Mansoor Dadullah - At the end of 2007, the Afghan Taliban made a radical leadership change that has sparked controversy in the ranks of the terror group. On Dec. 29, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed issued a statement that Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, the commander for southern Afghanistan, was relieved of his command by Taliban leader Mullah Omar. Dadullah stated he had no knowledge of the dismissal and claimed it was a "conspiracy by my enemies." Omar responded by issuing a signed statement ordering Dadullah's firing. Omar's dismissal of Mansoor was published on Voice of Jihad, a well-trafficked jihadi Internet forum, ThreatsWatch's Nick Grace informed The Long War Journal. The release was signed by Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid, the Ameer al Mu’meneen, or the commander of the faithful. (READ MORE)

Jane Novak: Yemen's Intifada - Yemen is facing instability unseen since its 1994 civil war. A war with Shiite rebels in the northern Sa’ada province left over 50,000 internal refugees. The rebellion ended in June but threatens to re-ignite as neither side has fully implemented the cease-fire conditions. The political and economic marginalization of vast segments of society contributed to the rebellion as did endemic governmental corruption, lack of basic services and draconian security measures. These factors are also the catalyst for widespread protests in southern Yemen, some of which attracted over 100,000 protesters. Ten protesters were killed, allegedly by security forces, and many were beaten and arrested. (READ MORE)

Douglas V. Gibbs: The True Conservative Eludes The Republican Party - As the Iowa Caucus approaches in a little more than a day the most widely asked question regarding the 2008 Republican presidential race is whether or not the conservative movement remains. It seems that the surfacing candidates have lost touch with the GOP's grassroots. How else can it be explained that according to mainstream media polls Rudy Giuliani, essentially a social liberal, is the front-runner and possible heir to the party that Reagan led? Economically, Rudy Giuliani is essentially a fiscal conservative, a committed tax cutter, and strong on national security in the sense of the war on the Islamic Jihad. However, Rudy is far from being what I would call a "social conservative." Though he has made it clear he is not fond of abortion, he supports the pro-choice side of the issue. He eliminated a lot of crime in New York as the city's mayor, but is also a gun control supporter. (READ MORE)

Kim Zigfeld: Why Does the New York Times Hate America so Much? - Is it simply because it won't buy their paper? Can there be, anywhere in American society, an institution more loathsome, contemptible and pathetic than this self-styled "paper of record"? In the past few days, we've reported two tremendous batches of good news for America, first on the domestic front and then on the international. We noted, in passing, that the New York Times either concealed the data from its readers or grossly perverted it into malicious propaganda. The Times is undoubtedly fuming because, as we've also reported recently, Repubicans have enjoyed a series of impressive electoral successes while Nancy Pelosi's first term as Speaker has been exposed as a pathetic sham, even as their own stock price and circulation (to say nothing of paper size, ad revenues, etc.) have plummeted. (READ MORE)

Protein Wisdom: The Big Picture(s): Hotel Journalism Update - In “The Big Picture(s),” I noted that the number of embedded reporters plunged from somewhere between 570 and 750 when the invasion of Iraq began in March 2003 to roughly 100 by late fall of that year (it would later drop to as few as nine). The piece looked at some of the results of the rise of what journalists themselves call “hotel journalism” and “journalism by remote control.” Today, United Press International points to how “hotel journalism” affected one of the mission’s significant battles: "A secret intelligence assessment of the first battle of Fallujah shows that the U.S. military thinks that it lost control over information about what was happening in the town, leading to 'political pressure' that ended its April 2004 offensive with control being handed to Sunni insurgents." (READ MORE)

Mark Tapscott: What does your grandmother have to do with earmarks? - Will President Bush sign an Executive Order directing federal departments and agencies to ignore earmarks not explicitly included in the text of that massive omnibus spending bill? We hear Bush is getting lots of telephone calls from Members of Congress from both parties encouraging him not to do it. One of the most frequently voiced arguments in those calls goes something like this: "Sure, there is a bad apple here and there in the earmarks but just look at all the good things we do with the rest of them." It's an appealing argument calculated to make the hearer feel guilty about preventing the good-hearted congressman from using tax dollars to buy some new equipment for a hospital or install a new stoplight at a busy intersection? (READ MORE)

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

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