March 21, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 03/21/2008

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)
Katrina victims 'pray' for help - The government's ineptitude in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is a good red meat applause line for the Democratic presidential hopefuls, but the residents still sifting through broken lives in Mississippi and Louisiana stopped waiting for help from politicians long ago. (READ MORE)

Voters, McCain differ on quick economic fix - As the economy sours, voters are increasingly demanding immediate government relief — a boost for Democrats who propose just that sort of quick fix, but a problem for Republican Sen. John McCain, whose focus has been on longer-term solutions such as tax and spending cuts and free trade. (READ MORE)

Clinton didn't wait to push health care - Hillary Rodham Clinton hit the ground running just days after her husband was sworn in as the nation's 42nd president, scheduling nearly daily meetings with her top aides and several members of Congress in a bid to create a health care task force, her daily schedule shows. (READ MORE)

Female bombers spread terror - A female suicide bomber who blew herself up yesterday on the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion reflects an expansion of the pool of terrorist recruits and a new favorite tactic in the war in Iraq. (READ MORE)

Bush insists Iraq success worth sacrifices - President Bush yesterday marked the five-year anniversary of the Iraq war by saying U.S. successes in the past year are a significant defeat for al Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, and that the conflict's price in lives and money has kept Americans safe. (READ MORE)

Clinton claims momentum amid rival's woes - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign yesterday pointed to her rival's flattening poll numbers as evidence she has new momentum while she lobbied for a do-over primary in Michigan. (READ MORE)

Fantasies on Iraq - THE FIFTH anniversary of the invasion of Iraq prompted a flurry of speeches from President Bush and the Democratic candidates who hope to inherit the White House next year. Sadly, what they had in common was their failure to grapple with hard realities -- beginning with the elusiveness of any clear or quick path toward Mr. Bush's promise of "victory," or that of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to "end this war." (READ MORE)

Cheney: Afghanistan Needs NATO Help - KABUL, Afghanistan -- Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday the United States will ask NATO countries to step up their commitment to help Afghanistan recover from years of tyranny and war. "We believe the commitment needs to continue and perhaps needs to be reinforced," Cheney said. (READ MORE)

After a Decade at War With West, Al-Qaeda Still Impervious to Spies - BARCELONA -- A decade after al-Qaeda issued a global declaration of war against America, U.S. spy agencies have had little luck recruiting well-placed informants and are finding the upper reaches of the network tougher to penetrate than the Kremlin during the Cold War, according to U.S. and European... (READ MORE)

In Hillary Clinton's Datebook, A Shift - Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in the White House with a schedule befitting a president, packed with policy sessions, meetings with senators and trips to promote an ambitious political agenda. But after the collapse of her health-care plan in 1994, she largely retreated.. (READ MORE)

On War's Anniversary, Bush Cites Progress - President Bush sought yesterday to convince a skeptical public that the United States is on the cusp of winning the war in Iraq, arguing in a speech at the Pentagon that the recent buildup of U.S. forces has stabilized that country and "opened the door to a major strategic victory... (READ MORE)

Vaccine Failure Is Setback in AIDS Fight - The two-decade search for an AIDS vaccine is in crisis after two field tests of the most promising contender not only did not protect people from the virus but may actually have put them at increased risk of becoming infected. (READ MORE)

Expenses At U.N. Balloon 25 Percent - UNITED NATIONS -- Despite long-standing efforts by successive U.S. administrations to rein in U.N. spending, the United Nations this month presented its top donors with a request for nearly $1.1 billion in additional funds over the next two years -- boosting current U.N. expenses by 25 percent.. (READ MORE)

Wounded Vet Again Tackles Basic Training - Nearly four years after losing most of her left leg in Iraq, Melissa Stockwell is one of more than a dozen veterans hoping to qualify for the U.S. Paralympic squad. (READ MORE)

Clinton's Experience Is Debated - On March 22, 1999, Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived at the Itihadiya Palace in Egypt for what her schedule said was a "courtesy call with President Mubarak." Aides blocked out 9 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Then she embarked on visits to a mosque, museum, clinic, bazaar, youth center, groundwater project... (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Victor Davis Hanson: The Tragedy of Obama's Speech - The tragedy of Obama's speech and the mindless endorsement of it was the rejection of any constant moral standard—an absolute sense of wrong and right that transcends situational ethics, context, and individual particulars. And once one jettisons such absolutes, they won't be there when one wishes to seek refuge in them in a future hour of need. When he failed to "disown" Rev. Wright, and then brought in parallels of things purportedly as bad, or offered excuses that Wright had done good things to balance the bad, or that there were certain mitigating circumstances that explain his hatred, then the universal wrong of Wright's racism and lying disappears and with it any ethical standard by which we have moral authority to condemn such vitriol. (READ MORE)

Michael Medved: Three Big Problems With Barack's Speech - The reactions to Barack Obama’s widely celebrated Philadelphia speech have generally fallen into two categories. First, and most obviously, we’ve been deluged with rapturous and emotional responses, as sometimes tearful commentators described the address as a life-changing, history-making, barrier-busting, altogether unforgettable experience. To TV producer Norman Lear, “Obama reached for the stars. And he found them.” On MSNBC, Sally Quinn hailed the speech as one of the greatest in all human history, then later retreated to proclaim it merely “the greatest in 45 years.” Andrew Sullivan expressed similar enthusiasm, and delivered the verdict that “this searing, nuanced, gut-wrenching, loyal and deeply, deeply Christian speech is the most honest speech on race in America in my adult lifetime. It is a speech we have all been waiting for for a generation.” (READ MORE)

Michael Reagan: It's Not Compassion -- It's Wright-Wing Racism - Most of the media and their fellow liberals were positively giddy over Barack Obama's speech Tuesday, all but comparing it to the Sermon on the Mount. I won't deny it was a masterful piece of oratory -- the man can be spellbinding -- but when you stop to consider what Sen. Obama was really doing up there on the podium, invoking the specter of slavery and Jim Crow and the era of "whites only," it becomes clear that it was a con job designed to make the voters as giddy as he knew his worshippers in the submissive media would be. (READ MORE)

Ken Blackwell: Homeschoolers in the Crosshairs of the NEA - Recently a landmark ruling that stunned many parents and could have legal repercussions for families across the country was handed down by a California state appellate court. Judge H. Walter Croskey wrote a court opinion that declared California children were only allowed to be taught by teachers credentialed by the state. Such a decision was a stark about-face from the previous California policy that provided parents with options in determining how best to educate their children. A decision such as this has profound ramifications that stretch beyond educational choice, from parental rights to privacy laws. (READ MORE)

Matt Towery: The Most Dangerous Topic: Race - As a pollster, I truly don't care who wins the presidency. I can't allow myself to do that. This makes my former Republican colleagues angry and Democrats suspicious. What I offer is analytical opinions, and I'll offer one on Barack Obama and his pastor. First, an admission on my part. Unlike the other two major presidential candidates, I have never spent time with Sen. Obama, or spoken with him by phone. This has simply been a matter of scheduling and availability. And it's too bad, because he seems to be a thoroughly likeable man. To me, Obama isn't the "angry black man" who secretly desires to "get the white man." I know of people who think otherwise. They aren't racists. They've simply heard or heard about the controversial comments from his pastor and find it hard to believe that Obama isn't just skillfully dancing away from Jeremiah Wright without truly distancing himself from the man. (READ MORE)

William Rusher: What Will Happen in the Next Eight Months? - When the state legislatures decided to push the presidential nominating process into the early months of 2008, one wonders what they expected. Whatever it was, the two parties have settled on spectacularly different ways of filling the nearly eight months between now and Election Day. The Republicans, probably by pure accident, agreed on their nominee almost at the very start. The conservatives who dominate the party had no favorite for the nomination, and it wound up going, very early and almost by default, to a distinguished but distinctly moderate conservative, John McCain, who will appeal mightily to independents in November. Meanwhile, he will generate what excitement he can over his choice of a vice president. (READ MORE)

Donald Lambro: As Washington Dithers, the Fed Rides to the Rescue - WASHINGTON -- While the economy struggled to pull itself out of a financial hole this week, most of our political leaders were out of town or concerned with other things. Congress was on spring break in the midst of Wall Street's turmoil that reverberated across global financial markets. The presidential candidates, one of whom will be elected in November, were focusing on other issues like Iraq, seemingly ignoring the fact that the economy is the No. 1 election issue in the country. Hillary Clinton, attempting to save her sinking candidacy, was delivering another speech on Iraq Monday, while the Federal Reserve was trying to reverse a loss of confidence on Wall Street in the face of Bear Stearns' liquidity collapse in the continuing credit and subprime-mortgage debacle. (READ MORE)

Larry Elder: Obama: From Valiant to Victicrat - Billed as an "important speech about race," presidential candidate Barack Obama condemned some of the remarks of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright. But Obama refused to denounce the man himself, considering him family. Commentators gushed over this "groundbreaking," "stirring" speech about the "state of race relations in America." Funny, some people actually thought that Obama might explain why he chose and attends a church led by a hateful, anti-Semitic, racist America-condemning pastor, a man whom Obama refers to as his "spiritual advisor." Long before the blowup over Barack Obama's pastor, I wrote about this angry, "Afrocentric" church in my new book, "Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card -- and Lose." (READ MORE)

Ann Coulter: Throw Grandma Under The Bus - Obama gave a nice speech, except for everything he said about race. He apparently believes we're not talking enough about race. This is like hearing Britney Spears say we're not talking enough about pop-tarts with substance-abuse problems. By now, the country has spent more time talking about race than John Kerry has talked about Vietnam, John McCain has talked about being a POW, John Edwards has talked about his dead son, and Al Franken has talked about his USO tours. But the "post-racial candidate" thinks we need to talk yet more about race. How much more? I had had my fill by around 1974. How long must we all marinate in the angry resentment of black people? As an authentic post-racial American, I will not patronize blacks by pretending Obama's pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is anything other than a raving racist loon. (READ MORE)

Mary Katharine Ham: Wimping Out: Obama's Squandered Chance at Post-Racialism - There are things I like about Barack Obama. Until the most vitriolic of the Jeremiah Wright sermons surfaced, Obama's post-racial rhetoric was appealing to me. I believed that he believed it, and that his candidacy really did have the power to lift the nation and the Democratic Party, which has trafficked shamelessly in racial demagoguery for decades, above the "racial stalemate" he speaks of. The new revelations of Rev. Wright and the fact that Obama chose him as a close spiritual adviser for 20 years makes it nearly impossible for me to buy what the Messiah is selling. His distancing speech was more a justification speech than anything else. Rev. Wright and other, older black citizens are understandably still angry about discrimination they experienced, he said, and those frustrations are given voice at dinner tables and in fiery sermons. This is all right, Barack posits, because white people are angry, too, for much less justified reasons, like affirmative action. (READ MORE)

Burt Prelutsky: Making the Case for McCain - A while back, I admitted that John McCain was not among my three favorite candidates for the Republican nomination. But I went on to say that if he emerged as the standard bearer for the GOP, he would get my vote. And to tell you the truth, I don’t feel I’ll have to bite the bullet in November so much as maybe gum it a little bit. Needless to say, I have been hearing from a great many conservative hardliners. Among the things they’ve called me are sell-out, traitor, closet liberal and a mole for the Democrats. When a few of them settled for calling me a fool or an idiot, it almost felt like a compliment. (READ MORE)

Oliver North: Iraq: The Real Story - WASHINGTON -- Five years ago this week, 170,000 American and coalition soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines launched Operation Iraqi Freedom. When they commenced their attack, they were outnumbered nearly three to one by Saddam Hussein's military, yet it took U.S. troops just three weeks to liberate Baghdad. No military force in history has accomplished that much so fast with so few casualties. Despite a lightning-fast victory over the dictator's army, Republican Guard and fedayeen, the challenge of leaving Iraq better than we found it proved to be daunting and dangerous. Unfortunately, few Americans know what their countrymen in uniform have accomplished in the Land Between the Rivers. (READ MORE)

John Hawkins: 10 Of The Greatest Pieces Of Conservative Wisdom - "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -- P.J. O'Rourke We have gotten to a point in our society where people can pursue courses of action that we know, they know, that everyone knows are highly likely to end in disaster. But then, when the aforementioned tragedy inevitably occurs, there is a demand that the federal government "fix the problem." But what's wrong with saying, * You're about to lose your house because you got a subprime loan to buy a house $300,000 more than what you could afford. Sorry, but it's your own fault. (READ MORE)

Rich Lowry: Obama's Speech -- A Glorious Failure - In his hour of political need, Barack Obama went to his base -- the media. He delivered a speech about the nation's racial divisions that couldn't possibly get anything but lavish praise from the press, burying for now the controversy over his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. A gifted writer, Obama can plumb depths most politicians can't, and he spoke truths about the state of race relations in America in an unusually frank and subtle way. But Obama's speech, like his congregation at Trinity United Church of Christ that he described so lyrically, contains multitudes. Swaddled in all the high-mindedness was rhetorical sleight of hand about the Rev. Wright. (READ MORE)

Cliff May: The Long War - Five years ago this month, American troops liberated Iraq from Saddam Hussein. Then came the hard part. American intelligence had been wrong about Saddam’s stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction: They were nowhere to be found. Most academic experts had failed to perceive the currents of religious extremism and sectarianism running just beneath Iraq’s secular surface. State Department consultants and U.N. advisors proved unequal to the task of building democratic political institutions quickly from scratch. The media had understated Saddam’s barbarism: It had been too risky to report in depth on the mass graves Saddam filled with dissidents; the tens of thousands of Kurds gassed to death in their villages; the camps where Saddam trained terrorists for assignments abroad. As a consequence, few anticipated how severely Iraqis had been traumatized. (READ MORE)

Flopping Aces: McCain’s High Road - I fear that McCain will take the same high road approach to politics as Bush did. I have a huge amount of respect for Bush, as any regular reader knows, and believe that he was the right man at the right time to lead this country….and he did it well. Not perfect, but no President has ever been perfect. That goes for Lincoln and Washington also. But when he took the high road with political appointments, meaning he didn’t can the Clinton appointed ones, he set himself up for the The Shadow Party to take command. And did they ever take command. Now we have a very honest debate on the decisions and character of a Democrat opponent and McCain is going to take the high road instead of highlighting it: (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Deja vu all over again - When Andrew Sullivan called Barack Obama's defense of his relations with Jeremiah Wright "the most honest speech on race in America in my adult lifetime ... a speech we have all been waiting for a generation" he might more accurately called it 'a speech we have all been waiting to hear again in this generation." Nearly 40 years ago, almost to week, Robert F. Kennedy extemporaneously made an eerily similar speech with almost identical themes before a crowd in Indianapolis. The day was April 4, 1968. The situation was the run-up to the Democratic Convention. The occasion was the breaking news of Martin Luther King's assassination. (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Fired - Someone looks at Obama’s passport records. Someone gets fired. Obama wants to milk it. Two contract employees at the State Department were canned after they snooped into private data on Sen. Barack Obama’s passport. Obama’s calling for an investigation. Seems there already was an investigation. And two people were fired. Good. Obama’s spokesbot: “This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years. Our government’s duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes. (READ MORE)

Baron Bodissey: The Motoons Take a Road Trip to the Czech Republic - Everywhere they go, the Danish Mohammed cartoons cause uproar and consternation. Their most recent appearance was yesterday in Brno. Our Czech correspondent Viktor Svoboda sent us this report: Yesterday (March 19) dozens of posters showing the cartoon of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban appeared on the streets of the Czech city of Brno. The posters say “Freedom does not come for free” and are signed by “Friends of Freedom of Speech”. Czech Foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg told the press, “The Prophet did not know a bomb in his time; it’s pure mockery. Such posters are in my opinion an expression of intolerance and aggression on the part of those who posted them. It’s a sad fact that something like that appeared in the Czech nation.” (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Rove: Democrats out of step on Iraq - Karl Rove has news for the Democrats — the Iraq political narrative has changed dramatically since 2006. The positions taken by both Democratic frontrunners only have the support of 18% of the American people, and two-thirds want the US to act responsibly for Iraq rather than abandon Iraqis to their fate. Rove sees disaster for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama if they continue to play the withdrawal card in the general election: “One out of five is not a majority. Democrats should keep that simple fact of political life in mind as they pursue the White House. For a party whose presidential candidates pledge they’ll remove U.S. troops from Iraq immediately upon taking office — without regard to conditions on the ground or the consequences to America’s security — a late February Gallup Poll was bad news.” (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Idiotgate - Two idiots fired for looking up Obama’s passport information. Third idiot under investigation for same. Washington Post here. Washington Times here. Fourth idiot knows it isn’t but wants to snark that this is evidence we live in a banana republic. I think he must be confusing that situation with this one. Which may be rearing its head again. It’ll be interesting to find out how interesting passport files are. If all they have is application information, they should be pretty boring, and these people are idiots who broke the rules for, basically, nothing. But if they include memos, maybe results of investigations prompted by any particular circumstances, they could be fascinating. (READ MORE)

Allahpundit: State Dept: Two contractors fired for accessing Obama’s passport records - A Nixonian dirty trick? Must be. Just imagine the type of spam one could send if you knew a candidate’s e-mail address: “Passport application data includes such details as date and place of birth, e-mail address, mailing address, Social Security number, former names and travel plans. Mr. Obama was born in Honolulu in 1961 to a Kenyan father and American mother. He lived in Jakarta, Indonesia, from age six to 10.” A State spokesman says the data wasn’t copied or altered and doesn’t appear to have been accessed at anyone’s behest, but it’ll knock the Wright stuff off the front page for a day and give the left the opportunity it’s been searching for the past week to return to victimhood. And darned if Obama’s team isn’t seizing it with both hands. (READ MORE)

McQ: Schumer and AP: Selective Amnesia - An interesting recent claim about al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) says it is a totally homegrown and separate entity from the al Qaeda (AQ) that Osama bin Laden heads. Sen. Chuck Schumer, on Tuesday's "Larry King Live" said, "The al Qaeda the president is talking about is different than the al Qaeda of Mesopotamia, which is the al Qaeda that's in Iraq. The al Qaeda that bin Laden is in charge of is a totally separate organization." And AP's Jennifer Loven, in an article on the same day, claimed that AQI ""is mostly homegrown ... ". She further claims that, "[t]here has been no evidence presented that the group is plotting or intends attacks outside of Iraq," and, "[t]here is little or no evidence of coordination between the two groups." (READ MORE)

Jim Addison: The Mystery of Global Warming's Missing Heat - What if they gave a meeting on Global Warming, and had to cancel it due to frozen pipes? You just can't make this stuff up . . . well, you could, but you don't have to, as Richard Harris reports for National Public Radio: “Some 3,000 scientific robots that are plying the ocean have sent home a puzzling message. These diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren't quite understanding what their robots are telling them.” Quite right - if you don't get the results you want, adjust the data. (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: Stones - I have my problems with John McCain, but I have to say there's one thing you can't fault the man for: sheer physical courage. This is a man who had his plane shot out from under him while he was sitting on the flight deck of the USS Forrestal, by a misfired American rocket, and got the hell out of an explosion and fire that killed 134 sailors before it was controlled. He was literally at "ground zero" of that disaster. Later, he had a second plane shot out from under him, this one by enemy fire, and was injured when he bailed out. Then he spent over five years undergoing various tortures by an enemy that declared that, as a "war criminal," the Geneva Convention didn't apply to him, but offered him favorable treatment (as the son of an admiral) if he'd cooperate. (READ MORE)

Atlas Shrugs: Converting the Pope to Islam - It defies basic logic that we have allowed this intimidation and thuggery to go so far, so fast but we have and so it spins furtherout of control.Yesterday I reported that the Saudi Shoura Council rejected calls for an international pact to respect all religions. Now it seems they will accept the Pope's conversion. The fact that they won't allow other houses of worship indicates how afraid they are that people will leave Islam and convert to other religions. (READ MORE)

Jack M. @ Ace of Spades: Is Hillary Clinton a Hitler-worshipping cult member? - Quick Answer: No, she's more the Mao worshipping type. At least in sartorial attire. Longer Answer: Apparently, some conspiracy embracing writer at that "reality-based" magazine "The Nation" thinks she is. I know the far left is imploding over the fall of the Obamessiah. But this is really pushing bullshit and, I believe, religious bigotry, to the outer limits: “You can find all about it in a widely under-read article in the September 2007 issue of Mother Jones, in which Kathryn Joyce and Jeff Sharlet reported that ‘through all of her years in Washington, Clinton has been an active participant in conservative Bible study and prayer circles that are part of a secretive Capitol Hill group known as "The "Fellowship," also known as The Family. But it won't be a secret much longer. Jeff Sharlet's shocking exposé The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power will be published in May.’” (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: Diplomat Dunces - The Russians think that they can build on the progress of Annapolis and somehow get Israel to return the Golan Heights to Syria. Fat chance of that happening. There wasn't any progress as a result of Annapolis, unless you want to count Hamas deciding that Gaza should have an open border with Egypt and invaded Egypt en masse. Why would Israel engage in diplomacy with Syria, which harbors terror masters from Hamas and Hizbullah, and who supplies both groups with equipment, personnel, and assistance, not to mention is a destabilizing presence in Lebanon and thwarts Lebanese sovereignty at every turn. (READ MORE)

The Wolf @ Blackfive: Fighting on... - I've got multiple items to cover in this post, so I hope you'll bear with me... after 5 years, I have some more things to cover. I just finished reading a couple of books that I thought I'd review for you- On Call in Hell by Richard Jadick, and We Were One by Patrick O'Donnell. Both were excellent reads, and I recommend them both. What is becoming more interesting is how these books both cover the same battles in Fallujah (On Call more so Fallujah I) but seem to be very separate battles; very different perspectives, and this is why I enjoyed reading them back-to-back. On Call can best be described as a 'Battlefield Surgeons Guide to War'. It details how the good doctor was able to convince his superiors that bringing the aide station into the battle was the best way to save lives. (READ MORE)

The Sniper: OK, calling all Spotters - I'm tired and lazy right now, but this is your warning order if you need a weeks notice to get time off of work. But I sent this to a list of people I had who are bloggers. Any of you that can help, you know how much I'll appreciate it. Most of us have been to these schools, so, lets put out for ole Uncle Sugar's future SSG's, ok? I'm doing this in OPORD format, since most of us know that format the best. SITUATION: I was contacted today through work by SFC Barry Nelson, US Army, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He is the Senior Group Leader of the Basic Non-Commission Officers Course (BNCOC) on the grounds at Walter Reed. Any of you who have been to PLDC, BNCOC, ANCOC or Sergeant Majors Academy no doubt remember these courses. They're not exactly R&R. Now imagine doing it as a wounded troop. (READ MORE)

This Aint Hell: Running on a record - Back in Novemeber 2006, I predicted right before the election that the Republicans would lose in the midterm elections because of their greatest success - preventing further attacks against Americans on our own soil. Nearly two years later, nothing has changed - there have been no further successful attacks. The Left continues to use the Republicans success against them by intimating that there is no threat because there’ve been no attacks. Democrats have successfully diverted the discussion away from security and on to the subject that gets them the most votes - the economy. Today, in the Wall Street Journal, the Left’s favorite boogeyman, Karl Rove writes that the left avoids talking about national security because, as we used to say in the infantry, they’re LIW - Lost In the Woods: (READ MORE)

Phyllis Chesler: Burqas Come to Bohemia. Greenwich Village, 2008 - A friend calls to tell me that suddenly, a completely burqa-ed (or abaya-ed) woman seems to have moved into the legendary apartment building for artists-only in Greenwich Village that my friend calls home. She says: "This woman also wears dark sun glasses so you can't even see her eyes." Then, another friend who lives in the same building calls me. She says: "This woman is spooky. But I'm afraid to talk to her, to ask her whether she or perhaps her husband are artists. She has some really big men with her. If she were friendly, she might stop and talk to another woman, wouldn't she?" It's 2008 in Greenwich Village, which has a long and honorable history of radical "attitude"--and my phone caller is whispering. (READ MORE)

Meryl Yourish: Political correctness hits Israeli airline security - Oh, no way this could go wrong. Civil rights groups in Israel are trying to stop Israeli security, which has successfully stopped all hijacking of Israeli planes, from profiling potential hijackers/bombers. Airline security faced a legal challenge yesterday from a civil rights group charging that its practice of ethnic profiling is racist because it singles out Arabs for tougher treatment. At a Supreme Court hearing, civil rights lawyers demanded an end to the policy, which they say violates Israeli law. Such profiling is illegal in the U.S., where passengers must be singled out for security checks on a random basis. And the whining: (READ MORE)

Westhawk: What was the mission five years ago? - On the fifth anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, how well is the U.S. government doing with this project? About as well as could be expected, perhaps even better, given the task it has taken on. To the extent that much of the American public, and the U.S. military itself, grumbles about the costs and duration of the Iraq conflict, this grumbling has come about because the task that the U.S. government has taken on in Iraq seems so much bigger than the task everyone assumed the country was taking on when the war started five year ago. In October 2002, when the U.S. Congress debated and then approved a resolution authorizing military action in Iraq, the forthcoming military mission seemed discrete: remove the Hussein family and its entourage from power, and then secure Iraq’s stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and surface-to-surface missiles. (READ MORE)

Cassandra: Obama's Subtle Race Baiting - Whilst slicing vegetables early this morning, the editorial staff reflected that it's been far too long since we regaled the assembled villainry with the pithy rhetoric of the Obamessiah. As we lovingly packed the finished Spousal Repast into a pinniped choking, Gaia-raping receptacle, we firmly resolved to heed the words of America's savior and eschew further delay. After all (we pondered snidely) me we are the change that me we seek: “We were watching the Obama speech, but at some point, we got tired of listening. Its the old Eminem defense: Rev. Wright is only giving you things you joke around with your friends inside your living room, the only difference is he’s crazy enough to say it out loud. Fabulous. Additionally, white people may vote for John McCain because they resent black people.” (READ MORE)

The Tygrrrr Express: Yes to Rules, No to Do Overs - I still believe that despite everything that mathematics tells me, Hillary Clinton will defeat Barack Obama for the demagoguic nomination for President. Every indicator says Obama has it all but wrapped up. Yet the “all but” part makes me queasy. To avoid rehashing past columns, I support John McCain, but like Obama as a person. I have little positive feelings towards Hillary. I fear that she will win. The way the rules are set up, Obama looks like he is in the catbird seat. Yet Hillary will win because she will simply break the rules and get away with it. Rules have mattered to the Clintons in the same way that taxes mattered to Leona Helmsley. With all respect to Chelsea, I wonder if Hillary would leave her profits from commodities to Socks the Cat. (READ MORE)

Right Wing Nut House: Conspiracy Mill Churning on Obama Passport Story - Two low level clerks under contract to the State Department have been let go for snooping in Barack Obama’s passport files on at least 3 separate occasions. Another State Department employee has been disciplined as a result of the incidents. This is what is known at the moment. But does that stop our intrepid internet paranoids, goofballs, nitwits, and other denizens of the left from creating a grand conspiracy involving evil Bush and his evil minions out of the thinnest of news items? The ever rational and reasonable Americablog: “This is not good. We know how much we can trust anyone who works for George Bush. NOT AT ALL. The first Bush administration did the same thing to Bill Clinton.” (READ MORE)

Paul Mirengoff: A bargain becomes a challenge - In A Bound Man, Shelby Steele's insightful book about Barack Obama, Steele distinguishes between two types of successful African-American public figures: bargainers and challengers. Bargainers state, in effect, "I will presume that you're not a racist and by loving me you'll show that my presumption is correct." Blacks who offer this bargain are betting on white decency. Naturally, whites respond well. Challengers take a different approach. They say, in effect, that whites are racist until they prove otherwise by conferring tangible benefits on them. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are paradigm challengers. In fact, Steele finds that black politicians tend to prefer this approach because not adopting it leads to suspicion among black leaders and their constituents who fear that if whites are let off the hook too easily, black power will be diminished. Barack Obama made his political breakthrough as a bargainer. (READ MORE)

Amy Proctor: Sadr: "I Couldn't Liberate Iraq and Make it an Islamic State" - Attacks in Baghdad are down 75% since June 2007 thanks in part to a boost in US troop levels and a ceasefire by the radical Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia. Al-Sadr, whom Newsweek once dubbed The Most Dangerous Man in Iraq, now has called for an “indefinite cease-fire” and admitted he failed in his attempt to make Iraq an Islamic state. According to the Cairo based Al-Ahram newspaper: “Al-Sadr, who is believed to travel between Iran and Najaf from time to time, also felt sorry about the inability to ‘liberate’ Iraq. Al-Sadr has turned away from fellow Shia Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and has pulled his ministers from the Shia-dominated government. ‘I couldn’t liberate Iraq and make it an Islamic society till now. I don’t know who is responsible for this failure, me or the society,’ the statement said.” (READ MORE)

ROFASix: Lessons from the 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War - What lessons can be drawn for Israel's war on Hezbollah in 2006? It is a question that professional soldiers need to ask and find answers to. They are likely germane in every respect to what the US Army may experience if it repeats the story of "We Were Caught Unprepared: The 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli War" (pdf). It is a fascinating read. If we learn from history we will never find ourselves writing about the US Army such words at this study contained which included: “No conflict in recent past provides a more illuminating study for the US Army than the 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli war. After years of conducting successful counterinsurgency operations against the Palestinians, the Israeli military encountered substantial problems in shifting its focus to major combat operations against Hezbollah.” (READ MORE)

Pirate's Cove: Global Warming Today: National Geographic Goes Climahysteric - I can usually count on National Geographic to at least be fair and honest, as well as discuss all sides of an issue, but, with their reprint of an AP article on global warming, they have lost it. “Washington, D.C.’s famous cherry trees are primed to burst in a perfect pink peak about the end of this month. Thirty years ago, the trees usually waited to bloom until around April 5.” 15 days early? I wonder when they were blooming during the high heat decade of the 30’s. And consider that there is the urban heat sink effect, where cities are much warmer then the surrounding countryside. Here’s what gets me, though: (READ MORE)

Monkey Tennis Centre: The BBC accuses Bush of 'claiming victory' in Iraq again. He didn't. - The BBC's headline on its report of President Bush's Iraq speech is 'Bush speech hails Iraq victory'. I was surprised that he would have said such a thing, given the way in which previous claims of success have been used to criticise and ridicule the Commander in Chief. Most famously, in 2003, Bush landed on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and declared: "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." He was speaking in front of a banner that said 'Mission Accomplished', words that have been recalled with a sneer by many a news anchor and New York Times writer in the years since (apparently the banner was the Navy's idea). (READ MORE)

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