February 19, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 02/19/2008

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)
Pelosi's Wiretap Offensive - For the next 9/11 Commission, we nominate the first witness: Silvestre Reyes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He's the man now telling everyone to chill out, take it easy, there's nothing to worry about, after his fellow Democrats last week scuttled a bipartisan compromise on warrantless wiretapping of al Qaeda. (READ MORE)

GOP Flake Out - House Republicans have been taunting Democrats for turning down their offer to eliminate spending earmarks, and Democrats reply that the GOP isn't serious. The Republicans seem intent on proving that Democrats are right, as GOP leaders showed last week in denying Arizona's Jeff Flake a seat on the Appropriations Committee. (READ MORE)

Pakistanis Deal a Blow to Musharraf - ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Feb. 19 -- Voters in Pakistan appeared to deliver a sharp rebuke to President Pervez Musharraf on Monday, handing significant victories to the country's two leading opposition parties in parliamentary elections, according to early returns and Pakistani politicians. (READ MORE)

Unilateral Strike Called a Model For U.S. Operations in Pakistan - In the predawn hours of Jan. 29, a CIA Predator aircraft flew in a slow arc above the Pakistani town of Mir Ali. The drone's operator, relying on information secretly passed to the CIA by local informants, clicked a computer mouse and sent the first of two Hellfire missiles hurtling toward a cluster... (READ MORE)

Amtrak Stepping Up Security Checks - Amtrak passengers will have to submit to random screening of carry-on bags in a major new security push that will include officers with automatic weapons and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolling platforms and trains, the railroad planned to announce today. (READ MORE)

Kosovo Gains Recognition By U.S., Some in Europe - KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Kosovo, Feb. 19 -- The United States and the European Union's largest countries recognized the independence of Kosovo on Monday, a major boost for the fledgling state, which still faces intense opposition from Russia, Serbia and even some Western European countries over its... (READ MORE)

Obama Wave Stuns Clinton's Black Supporters - You can see the confusion on some of their faces, hear the concern in their voices. How in the world do we deal with this? Hillary Clinton's black supporters -- especially the most prominent ones -- hadn't expected their candidate to be in a dogfight right now. (READ MORE)

Castro resigns - HAVANA (AP) — An ailing, 81-year-old Fidel Castro resigned as Cuba's president this morning after nearly a half-century in power, saying he will not accept a new term when parliament meets on Sunday. (READ MORE)

Early count backs rivals of Musharraf - Pakistanis who braved the threat of terrorist attacks to vote in nationwide elections yesterday backed candidates opposed to the party of President Pervez Musharraf, according to early and unofficial results. (READ MORE)

Bush honors Rwandan dead - KIGALI, RWANDA -- President Bush today said that a visit to a Rwandan genocide memorial shook him to his “very foundation” and called on the international community to act decisively in Kenya to prevent anything similar from happening. (READ MORE)

Europe urged to aid Kosovo - The United States yesterday coupled its formal recognition of newly independent Kosovo with an appeal for the European Union and the World Bank to help turn the impoverished territory into a prosperous Muslim-majority state. (READ MORE)

Green crusades lot of talk - Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have called for strict mandatory limits to control greenhouse gases but they aren't leading by example — each has failed to pay for offsets to cover all of his campaign's carbon emissions. (READ MORE)

Clinton campaign accuses Obama of plagiarism - When Sen. Barack Obama questioned whether "I Have a Dream" was "just words," his booming oration prompted big cheers from Wisconsin Democrats but opened the door for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign to accuse him of plagiarism. (READ MORE)

Delegate-picking panel seems stacked in favor of Hillary - At first blush, the Democratic National Convention's Credentials Committee, facing an impasse over the disputed Michigan and Florida delegations, looks like it could be in Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's hip pocket. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Christopher Hitchens: Mr. President, Don't Forget Iran - Dear Mr. President: A few months ago, it became possible to hear members and supporters of your administration going around Washington and saying that the question of a nuclear-armed Iran "would not be left to the next administration." As a line of the day, this had the advantage of sounding both determined and slightly mysterious, as if to commit both to everything and to nothing in particular. (READ MORE)

William McGurn: Press Corps Quagmire -When a man hangs up his byline to write for a president, he gets more than a new job. He gets to see how the press and pundit corps look from the other side of the notepad. And over three years in the West Wing, you see a few things. You see who's a straight shooter, and who's full of snark. You see who's smart, and whose outrageous behavior would have made its way to Drudge had it involved White House staffers instead of White House correspondents. (READ MORE)

Ronan Farrow and Mia Farrow: One Olympic Victory - Almost a year ago on these pages we questioned Steven Spielberg's position as an artistic director of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. We highlighted China's role as business partner, diplomatic protector and underwriter of Sudan's campaign of ethnic destruction in Darfur. The piece, which labeled the games the "genocide Olympics," provoked immediate self-protective action from the People's Republic of China. (READ MORE)

Paul Ingrassia: Detroit's (Long) Quest for Fuel Efficiency - "Our cities have been straining at their seams," declares a full-page newspaper automotive advertisement. "Traffic is jam-packed. Parking space is at a premium. And our suburbs have spread like wildfire. People are living farther from their work, driving more miles on crowded streets." Were these words touting a new, fuel-efficient small car, such as the Toyota Prius or maybe the tiny Smart Fortwo? Not exactly. (READ MORE)

Bret Stephens: Putin's Political Prisoners - In its Soviet heyday, Moscow's dreaded Lefortovo prison served as a way station to the Gulag for political prisoners such as Yevgenia Ginzburg, Vladimir Bukovsky and Natan Sharansky. Under Vladimir Putin, it performs exactly the same function. In December, Russian scientist Igor Reshetin was sentenced to 11½ years in a "strict regime" prison colony on charges of having sold dual-use technologies to China for its space programs. (READ MORE)

Cal Thomas: Misplaced Hope Can Be Dangerous - "Hope is a dangerous thing," says "Red" to "Andy" in the 1994 film "The Shawshank Redemption." Red, played by Morgan Freeman, means that Andy, played by Tim Robbins, risks despair if he hopes to get out of prison. The sentiment is worth considering when it comes to politics. Can too much trust in a politician also be dangerous and lead to despair, even cynicism? Those old enough to recall the political scene in the '60s when first John F. Kennedy and then his brother, Robert, were assassinated, know the dangers of hope and what can happen when such hope is crushed. In the '60s, crushed hope produced rebellion, even anarchy, along with despair. (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: 'Supporting the Troops' - The Berkeley city council has made national news by telling Marine Corps recruiters that they are unwelcome in that bastion of the academic left. It is a shame that Berkeley is not on some island in the South Pacific, because then they could be given their independence and left to defend themselves. As it is, members of our armed forces who put their lives on the line to defend America are also defending people like too many in Berkeley for whom the very word America, and the American flag, bring only sneers. Unfortunately, Berkeley is not unique. A professor at Harvard who put an American flag on his car after 9-11 provoked looks of astonishment from his colleagues. (READ MORE)

Patrick J. Buchanan: Does Balkanization Beckon Anew? - When the Great War comes, said old Bismarck, it will come out of "some damn fool thing in the Balkans." On June 28, 1914, Gavrilo Princip shot the archduke and heir to the Austrian throne Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, setting in motion the train of events that led to the First World War. In the spring of 1999, the United States bombed Serbia for 78 days to force its army out of that nation's cradle province of Kosovo. The Serbs were fighting Albanian separatists of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). And we had no more right to bomb Belgrade than the Royal Navy would have had to bombard New York in our Civil War. (READ MORE)

Chuck Norris: Are We Reaping What We've Sown? - On February 14, 1929, five members of the North Side Irish/German gang led by George "Bugs" Moran were shot and killed in Chicago, Illinois, by four members of Al "Scarface" Capone's South Side Italian gang. On February 14, 2008, five students at Northern Illinois University were senselessly killed in DeKalb, Illinois, when a former graduate and gunman dressed in a black trench coat walked into a lecture hall and opened fire with a shotgun and two handguns. In all, I've counted at least 14 different shootings at colleges or universities since 2000, resulting in approximately 60 fatalities and dozens more wounded. And the question we're all once again asking is, "Why?" (READ MORE)

Rich Lowry: Whose Politics Of Fear? - Last week, in the words of Nancy Pelosi, House Democrats struck back against "fear" and "fear-mongering." They let the terrorist surveillance program expire, thus making a stirring gesture of national self-confidence and fearlessness. House Democrats probably can't sustain their stand against renewing the program over the long term, so they will have managed a Pyrrhic defeat, losing on the policy and exposing a major political vulnerability for the fall. President Bush compromised with Senate Democrats on a renewal of the surveillance program that passed by a 2-1 margin. (READ MORE)

Phyllis Schlafly: Judges hold no rank in military chain of command - Federal courts in San Francisco and in Los Angeles just ordered the U.S. Navy to limit its use of sonar, the underwater technology essential for tracking enemy submarines and detecting the ocean floor. These rulings tie the Navy's hands and are the latest outrage committed by judicial supremacists. The lawsuits were brought by environmental groups on behalf of whales and other sea creatures, using the claim that their ears and brains might be damaged by the high-frequency sound waves emitted by sonar. The court rulings allow environmentalism to trump what the Navy needs to do to protect U.S. national interest. (READ MORE)

Paul Greenberg: Ron Paul, American Artifact - American history is so remarkably continuous, like American institutions, that sometimes it’s scarcely necessary to consult the history books to find out what some past political cause was like. We need only observe a current one. Consider Ron Paul. The man is this year’s perfect historical artifact. He’s running for president in 2008, but he could have stepped right out of 1888, or 1898, when populism was all the rage, literally. It was Mary Ellen Lease, one of the great populist fire-eaters of the time, who urged restive Kansas farmers to raise less corn and more hell. (READ MORE)

LtCol Robert Weimann, (Ret): Open Letter to the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps concerning the 3/1 Haditha Marines - Since the invasion of Iraq, I have been reading every piece of material and watching every news story I came across about the war. Books entitled My Men are Heroes and No True Glory now sit in my bookcases along with books such as With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa, Victory at High Tide and Fire in the Streets. I focus on the war because, at least for this old Marine, it is a tremendous source of pride, especially, when I read about and watch Marines in combat. From the Iraq invasion, to battles in Ramadi and Fallujah, I have been deeply impressed with the Marine Corps newest generation of combat veterans. This generation of Marines understands their history and their combat legacy. I am concerned, however, that my feeling about the Marine Corps leadership is changing significantly. (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: Jihadi v. Jihadi - Is al Qaeda in Iraq in its death throes? Well, the fact that they're murdering their former allies because those allies weren't nearly as dedicated to the cause as al Qaeda hoped is a possible hopeful sign. “In the video provided by coalition military officials, armed men wearing masks are shown standing behind nine kneeling men, all of whom are wearing blindfolds or hoods with their hands presumably tied behind their backs. The video shows the men being executed.” (READ MORE)

Donald Douglas: Large Majority Opposes Immediate Iraq Withdrawal - Americans oppose a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, a new Gallup survey finds. And while the public continues to back some form of timetable to begin the redeployment of American troops, public opinion is at odds with the war proposals of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination: “Roughly one year after the United States began increasing the number of troops it has in Iraq, Americans give the ‘surge’ their most positive assessment to date. Nevertheless, basic attitudes about the war are largely unchanged, including views about setting a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal.” (READ MORE)

Ace of Spades HQ: She Just Doesn't Know it Yet - After Super Tuesday, the Clinton campaign got a shock when it started to dig into Texas' delegate rules. They'd planned to use Ohio and Texas to end Obama's winning streak and put Clinton comfortably ahead with wins in large-delegation states. Pundits all over are calling it the Giuliani strategy, and it's having about the same success for her as it did for him. She would be in bad shape if Texas were merely a proportional allocation state. But it is much worse for her than that: (READ MORE)

Pamela Geller: Justice for Halimi? - First, please review lan Halimi: Islamic Jew Hatred in France. Halimi's brutal fate after a horrific, barbaric campaign of unrelenting torture and finally murder in a "homemade concentration camp" by Jew hating French Muslims is impossible for a human being to conceive. “France sends 29 to trial over kidnap and murder of Jewish man' - The 2006 kidnapping, torture and killing of Ilan Halimi revived concerns about anti-Semitism in France. Authorities found the 23-year-old naked, handcuffed and covered with burn marks near railroad tracks in the Essonne region south of Paris.” He died on the way to the hospital after being held captive and tortured for more than three weeks. Targeted and kidnapped for being a Jew. (READ MORE)

The Barnyard: Anti-Zionism's Acceptability - Anti-semitism has been a feature of humanity ever since the Mount Sinai Event. Our Sages taught that the Torah was given on a mountain called Sinai because of the deep sinah, hatred, that emanated from that moment. In the TaNaKh, there are two recorded incidents of attempted genocide: Pharaoh and Haman's Final Solutions. The Talmud declares firmly that Esau soneh et Yaakov, Esau hates Jacob. 60 years after the Holocaust which destroyed two-thirds of European Jewry, anti-semitism is only an alarming rise. It is frightening not only in its exponential increase but in its acceptablitily in polite society and its blatent nature. When a white supremacist rants about "big-nosed Jews" controlling Wall Street at the annual neo-Nazi conference, one hardly raises an eyebrow. (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Democrats Have Always Enjoyed Owning Blacks - I recently wrote a piece where I stated that I could not understand why the black population votes for Democrats when that party does nothing but keep them down. I mentioned that the Republican Party got rid of slavery (and lost hundreds of thousands doing so) and that I could not understand why blacks would stick with the Democrats. I had someone write to me and basically say, wow, the Republicans got rid of slavery 150 years ago. What about now? Why is it so many Jews vote Democrat. Basically, the idea was that the Republican Party was a bunch of white elitists. I read an article today that, in honor of President’s Day, discussed the three worst Presidents of all time. Her is an outline of history under Lyndon Johnson: (READ MORE)

Blonde Sagacity: Young Americans...FINALLY! - "...This spring, Pat Dollard's Young Americans will air on cable television, the result of years of work. But there's a good reason for the time it has taken: Pat Dollard is a man obsessed with reality, his reality of the war he experienced while embedded with the 3rd battalion 7th Marines in Ramadi. ...In an article written for Vanity Fair, Pat Dollard is excoriated as a pro-war cheerleader. Surprisingly, The New York Times also gave an unflattering portrayal of Dollard. Despite the criticism from places both expected and not, Dollard's Young Americans will be a make or break endeavor. (READ MORE)

Blue Star Chronicles: Michelle Obama Has Never Been Proud of America - Wow! Did you listen to that? Every since the first time I heard Michelle Obama speak I thought she sounded like an angry and domineering woman. I wondered what she had to be so angry about? She’s certainly, by all appearances, has had more opportunities than I’ve had and she most certainly has more material wealth than I have. So what is she so angry about? I still don’t know why she’s so angry, but every time I’ve heard her speak since then I’ve been more convinced that she’s angry and negative. And now this …. “‘For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am proud of my country … because people are hungry for change.’ Barack Obama’s response to this is that its no big deal. (READ MORE)

The Captains' Journal: The Taliban and Snake Oil Salesmen - Michael Semple is the one who coordinated the turnover of Musa Qala to Mullah Abdul Salaam. Salaam is the erstwhile mid-level Taliban ‘commander’ who promised to field military forces (from among the tribes) to battle the Taliban, and who then retreated to his domicile and screamed for help when the battle between British / U.S. forces and the Taliban started. This same Michael Semple believes that we can persuade the Taliban to show good form and play nice. “Two-thirds of the Taliban-led insurgents in Afghanistan can be persuaded to abandon violence, according to a British aid worker expelled from the country for opening talks with some of those allied to the militant group.” (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Shame On The LA Times - The Los Angeles Times puts itself in the unusual position of scolding John McCain over his opposition to torture, claiming that he betrayed his principles in voting against the legislation sponsored by Dianne Feinstein in the Senate last week. The editorial says McCain should be ashamed for his vote and accuses him of abetting torture, when McCain has good reason to believe that the Feinstein bill does more damage than benefit: “One of John McCain's most admirable traits has been his eloquent opposition to the use of torture against suspected terrorists. During a Republican presidential debate last year in which other candidates tried to out-tough each other by endorsing ‘enhanced’ interrogation methods…” (READ MORE)

Andrew Cochran: Reported New "Peace Agreement" Between Tribes and Authorities in North Waziristan - While President Musharraf's allies are losing the Pakistan parliamentary election, two Pakistan papers are reporting that tribal elders in North Waziristan have reached a new "peace agreement" with the North Waziristan political administration against "extremism" and "terrorism." The Daily Times quotes a press release: "The political administration of North Waziristan and all sub-tribes and clans of Wazir and Daur tribes have agreed to jointly struggle against extremism and terrorism throughout the agency... “The agreement was signed in Miranshah (headquarters of North Waziristan)." The Dawn news agency reported on two key differences between the new agreement and the September 2006 agreement which ceded control of the NW provinces to terrorists: (READ MORE)

Dennis Lormel: The Intelligence Bill Should Not Be Held Hostage by Politics - The Senate did the right thing early last week and put politics aside. They passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This legislation would have given the intelligence community broad authority to monitor telecommunications of suspected terrorists. Since having been named Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Mike McConnell has repeatedly stated that the intelligence community requires the broad collection and monitoring capabilities provided under the Senate legislation. Disappointingly, The House of Representatives couldn’t get past politics and allowed the existing temporary legislation to lapse. House leaders, who let the FISA bill expire, strongly disagreed with Mr. McConnell’s assessment that not enacting FISA legislation weakened national security, thereby placing us at greater risk to terrorism. (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Kissinger on Iraq - “The issue is: Are American forces withdrawn as part of a political settlement? Or are they withdrawn because America is exhausted by the war? In the latter case, the consequences of an American withdrawal would be catastrophic.” Dr. Henry Kissinger has kept a low profile it seems on the war in Iraq. At 84 and 32 years removed from his turn at the helm, perhaps he prefers to stay out of the limelight. But Der Spiegel fleshed him out. I’m tempted to lift the whole thing (which really would be plagiarism) because it is that good. (READ MORE)

Freedom Eden: Be Proud of America, Michelle Obama - In order for Barack Obama to get voters to buy his themes of change and hope, he has to sell them on the notion that the country is currently an utter mess. Obama says that he wants Americans to have a brighter "Yes we can" sort of future, but in the process he's not accentuating the positives of the present. According to him, everything sucks. Americans are hungry for change and he promises to deliver. Blah, blah, blah. Michelle Obama has done her part to depict America as a hellhole and Americans as lost and broken. Yesterday, in both Madison and Milwaukee, Michelle Obama told crowds that they're miserable. (READ MORE)

Dymphna: Semper Fi Springs Eternal - Tonight Larwyn sent around a post from American Thinker that brought back old memories…places and times from my youth. They are tarnished with the years and overlaid with later, harsher memories, but when I clean them up, spit shine the nicer ones, they are pleasant to contemplate. First, my tale, and then Mr. Vaughn’s neologism for today’s military. These guys don’t have PTSD he says (though I think a solid minority do indeed suffer from it. An inevitable by-product of all wars); rather they have Chronic Warrior Syndrome. He does not mean that pejoratively. Both our tales are predictable in their way. Easy sentiment for the old days. But in the end, that's what I want: something easy and uncomplicated. Youth is way too complex and uncertain to endure again. (READ MORE)

Baron Bodissey: Kosovo Declares Independence - Today Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia, and was recognized by the United States and various European countries as a sovereign nation. In 1999 the United States waged an air war against Serbia to drive Serbian forces out of Kosovo and allow the UN to take charge of the province. At the time some people insisted that Bill Clinton was using the opportunity presented by Kosovo to distract attention from his impeachment. However, he may just been making nice with the Saudis and doing a favor for the Europeans, who were alarmed by the bad press coming out of Serbia. In any case, the Clinton administration started us down the path that led to today’s events. (READ MORE)

Susan Katz Keating: Castro: Not With Bang... - I had my first political laugh in October, 1962, when I tagged along with my mom to the grocery store, and spotted the Mad magazine Fidel Castro "exploding cigar" cover. For decades afterwards, something inside me kept waiting for that cigar to go off, either in Castro's face, or - after being flung into a powder keg - on U.S. territory. At one point, my mom even stocked up on canned goods, and bought material to line our windows, the way her own parents blocked the household windows in Ireland during World War II. As it turns out, though, we never went directly into hot war with Cuba. And now, the Cuban El Supremo simply has stubbed out his own stogie. (READ MORE)

Knee Deep in the Hooah!: Redeployment Anxieties - I am not superstitious. Not only am I not superstitious, but I am painfully suspicious of most things that are rooted in intuition and other immeasurable things. I am a skeptic. I learned to scrutinize every possible explanation for cause and effect relationships while working in research. There’s an alternate explanation for nearly everything. So, why am I now haunted by and succumbing to these superstitious feelings that I could somehow “jinx” his redeployment? I know it’s irrational, so I am not entertaining the thought as even a remote possibility, but rather I am processing the wild and erratic ride my heart has had me on for the past several months. (READ MORE)

The Monkey Tennis Centre: BBC's US chief thinks al-Qaeda is rooting for McCain - I want to thank Justin Webb, the BBC's North America editor, for helping to shift the blogger's block/laziness/crisis of confidence I've been experiencing for the past couple of months. What got the juices flowing again was a post by Webb on his blog entitled Al-Qaeda's Choice. In the post Webb is commenting on an article in the London Times, in which William Rees-Mogg suggests that al-Qaeda would rather see Barack Obama become the next President of the US than John McCain. Webb concludes: “Islamic terrorists want war. They want suffering - among others and their own people alike.” (READ MORE)

Amy Proctor: Marines Save Iraqi Girl (Code Pink Doesn't) - This little Iraqi girl isn’t a casualty of war but the Marines got her help back in the States anyway for a medical condition that would have claimed her life. She and her mother like the Marines. Watch their story below: Code Pink says they support the troops, but they call the U.S. troops “Bush’s Death Pimps” and killers and hope Americans will support the insurgents and al-Qaeda trying to kill our troops and Iraqi civilians. (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: America, 1. ACLU, 0 - You may recall in December 2005 when the blabbermouths at the NYTimes revealed a classified program set up by the Bush administration monitor terrorist communications in the US (which inspired an entire gallery of media blabbermouth posters like the one above). The ACLU quickly and literally followed suit to kill the program. Well, the outcome of their obstructionist efforts is just across the wires: “The Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the Bush administration’s domestic spying program. The justices’ decision Tuesday includes no comment explaining why they turned down the appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union.” (READ MORE)

Political Vindication: Sharon Stone Slams America…In Egypt - Unemployed actress and full time moonbat Sharon Stone needs to speak out about how bad America is, so naturally she flies off to Egypt and insults her country from a place that jails its citizens who doing the same thing. Sharon Stone is like a walking Rorschach test - when I see her, irony and Bush Derangement Syndrome collide. “The actress said in an interview with the Al Hayat daily that she fails to understand how the American public supported those wars to start with, only to denounce their fallout later. She also bemoaned what she called America’s decision to ignore the deaths of so many Iraqis.” (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Pathologizing the Opposition - During the Soviet era, Russian Psychiatry became ignominious for their use of Psychiatry to diagnose disorders in political opponents. Dissidents were often sent to Psychiatric hospitals, treated against their will with powerful anti-Psychotic medications (which, at the time, had much more significant side effects and dysphoric effects than our current drugs), and marginalized as anti-social or worse for merely desiring more political freedoms. In the United States, during the 1964 presidential campaign between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater, a group of American Psychiatrists purported to diagnose Barry Goldwater, whose Conservative politics were anathema to their liberal sensibilities. As I documented in my post, PsychBlogging and the Goldwater Rule, this led to some changes in the ethical standards applied to Psychiatrists: (READ MORE)

Steve Schippert: Castro Resigns, Cuba Handed to "Old Guard" Brother - The 50-year communist reign of Fidel Castro is over. The ailing dictator resigned and said in a letter to the Cuban people that they “can still count on cadres from the old guard” to carry on the Revolution. His brother Raul is now formally in power, though he has been the de facto ruler since the older Fidel has been seriously ill and under medical care. London’s Times Online speculates that the sibling Castro, called ‘The Prussian’ for his “cold, efficient style,” may move Cuba from the authoritarian Soviet-style communist model and adopt the new Chinese model of communism, one with ‘less economic restraints but full political control.’ (READ MORE)

TigerHawk: Conservatives need to get a grip - Christopher Buckley, who absolutely writes the funny words good, has a little fun while arguing -- seriously -- that conservatives ought to get over their issues with John McCain. Best part: “Some of the anti-McCain shrieks on the right have averred that it would be preferable to let a Clinton (Hillary, technically) or an Obama have the presidency, so that the post-George W. Bush (‘compassionate conservative,’ small or large C not mattering much at this point) mess will land on Democratic laps and not ours.” Conservatives who want to pull the rug out from under John McCain -- as opposed to nudging him to the right -- obviously have a very different view of their political position than I do. From where I sit, conservatives are massively misjudging how far the country has moved to the left in the last six years. (READ MORE)

Ilya Somin: Zoning and the Subprime Mortgage Crisis - Randal O'Toole has an interesting post rounding up evidence showing that zoning and other government land-use restrictions have played a major role in causing the subprime mortgage crisis. Zoning helped cause the crisis in two ways: by artificially inflating the price of real estate, and by increasing the likelihood of a "boom-bust" cycle in real estate prices. As Harvard economist Edward Glaeser and UPenn economist Edward Gyourko showed in this 2002 paper, restrictive zoning greatly increases housing prices by artificially reducing the amount of land on which new housing can be built and also by reducing the amount of housing that can be built even in those areas where residential construction is permitted. (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: Nothin' From Nothin' Leaves Nothin' - Well, the political world is all afire about Barack Obama using several phrases and notions from Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and I thought I would offer my thoughts on the matter. First up, I am absolute death on plagiarism. I have personally hounded off the net several sites that stole my pieces, and have a special level and type of hatred for those who do so. That being said, and as someone who's been quietly observing the parallels between Obama and Patrick for some time, I think it's no big deal. (READ MORE)

DJ Drummond: The Politics of American War - One aspect of American Politics which deserves discussion this election cycle, is the way that wars are treated as leading issues. The United States has been at war in various forms for most of its history, and so it is hardly surprising that the course of a given war will be a factor in elections, especially of the President. This article is necessarily only a brief overview, with consideration of the record focused on the 2008 Presidential election. From the political perspective, wars with regard to American politics fall into one of three broad categories; minor successful wars with little perceived risk, major wars of consequence, or costly wars which should have been avoided, in the sense of the common opinion. (READ MORE)

Phyllis Chesler: First They Came for Ayaan..Don't Ask for whom the Bell Tolls - Ayaan Hirsi Ali is begging the EU to undertake the enormous expense of funding her security. This article, below, suggests that she has begged in vain. Taslima Nasrin has been under house arrest for her own protection in India and has now been advised that she must either accept this or leave the country. (Nasrin lived in hiding for years in Sweden but chose to leave her European haven). Geert Wilders has been (temporarily?) banished from Holland and his film put on hold. Kurt Westergaard , the heroic Danish cartoonist, has been in hiding and on the run. (PJM's own Flemming Rose has covered his plight and informed us of the principled decision of 17 Danish newspapers to reprint the original Mohammed cartoons). Either the democratic West will have to fund each person, one by one. Or we will all--millions of us at a time--have to commit similar acts of resistance. If we fail to fund, and absent that, fail to resist, our civilization will suffer a fatal, self-inflicted blow. (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: