April 2, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 04/02/2008

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)
Memo: Laws Didn't Apply to Interrogators - The Justice Department sent a legal memorandum to the Pentagon in 2003 asserting that federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes did not apply to military interrogators who questioned al-Qaeda captives because the president's ultimate authority as commander in chief overrode such... (READ MORE)

Goofy Characters and Weird People -- Sounds Like a Hearing - International financial markets are in turmoil, gas is pushing $4 a gallon and a recession looms. But don't worry, folks: The House Energy and Commerce Committee is on the case. (READ MORE)

Centers Tap Into Personal Databases - Intelligence centers run by states across the country have access to personal information about millions of Americans, including unlisted cellphone numbers, insurance claims, driver's license photographs and credit reports, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post. (READ MORE)

Mugabe Losing Support of Elites - HARARE, Zimbabwe, April 1 -- Some members of Zimbabwe's jittery ruling elite have concluded that President Robert Mugabe must step down after apparently losing an election last weekend and have begun reaching out to opposition leaders to resolve the four-day-old political standoff... (READ MORE)

Congressman Ordered to Pay in Wiretap Case - A federal judge has ordered Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) to pay nearly $1.2 million to House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), settling a legal dispute over McDermott's actions in leaking the contents of an intercepted 1996 conference call involving Boehner and other Republican leaders. (READ MORE)

Democrats hit Big Oil - Capitol Hill Democrats yesterday chastised executives of five big oil companies for not doing enough to curb skyrocketing gasoline prices and investing too little in renewable energy, as pump prices hit a record high. (READ MORE)

Bush on NATO: 'Russia is not our enemy'- President Bush today said NATO is no longer a body focused on countering Russia, in a speech intended to soften Russian resistance to the alliance’s expansion and to a missile defense system in Eastern Europe. (READ MORE)

Pro-life groups slam Obama - Pro-life activists say Sen. Barack Obama's abysmal record on abortion issues is reflected by his remark that he would not want his daughters to be "punished with a baby" if they were to make a "mistake" as teenagers. (READ MORE)

Process thrusts panel in spotlight - Twenty-five Democratic activists named to an obscure party committee face the prospect of doing what millions of primary and caucus voters across the country so far haven't — choose their party's presidential nominee. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Phyllis Chesler: The Anti-Semitic Intelligentsia - This was my first piece for Frontpage Magazine and I gave it to them only after both the New York and LA Times turned it down. A group of Israeli feminists wanted to show a film. The Swedish filmmaker absolutely refused his film to be shown in Israel. Within 48 hours of posting my article, Lukas Moodysson, the filmmaker, changed his mind and allowed his brilliant anti-trafficking film, "Lilya-4-ever" to be shown on a one-time basis at an anti-trafficking conference in Israel. Moodysson knew my work in Swedish and he wrote to me, furious that I had challenged his reputation as "prejudiced." But he changed his mind. I was impressed by the results and sent it to all my feminist listserv groups. The left-feminist groups refused to read the article or to hear about its results because, many said, I had dared to publish it in a "right wing rag." (READ MORE)

John Stossel: Threat to Homeschooling - The cat is finally out of the bag. A California appellate court, ruling that parents have no constitutional right to homeschool their children, pinned its decision on this ominous quotation from a 47-year-old case, "A primary purpose of the educational system is to train schoolchildren in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare." There you have it; a primary purpose of government schools is to train schoolchildren "in loyalty to the state." Somehow that protects "the public welfare" more than allowing parents to homeschool their children, even though homeschooled kids routinely outperform government-schooled kids academically. In 2006, homeschooled students had an average ACT composite score of 22.4. The national average was 21.1. (READ MORE)

Mike S. Adams: Letter to a Secular Nation - In his short book, Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris begins by talking about the torrent of hate mail he received in response to his previous book, The End of Faith. He has this to say about the worst of it: The most hostile of these communications have come from Christians. This is ironic, as Christians generally imagine that no faith imparts the virtues of love and forgiveness more effectively than their own. The truth is that many who claim to be transformed by Christ’s love are deeply, even murderously, intolerant of criticism. Such a statement would be alarming to Christians were there not a fundamental logical error involved. One way to grasp that error is to imagine me starting a book with the following: (READ MORE)

Austin Bay: Whittling Away at Sadr - After his outlaw militiamen raised white flags and skedaddled from their latest round of combat with the Iraqi Army, radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr declared victory. He always does. He understands media bravado. He wagers that survival bandaged by bombast and swathed in sensational headlines is a short-term triumph. Survive long enough, and Sadr bets he will prevail. This time, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a contrarian press release, however, calling the Iraqi Army's anti-militia operations in southern Iraq a "success." A dispute over casualties in the firefights has ensued, as it always does. (READ MORE)

Jacob Sullum: The School Crotch Inspector - There are two kinds of people in the world: the kind who think it's perfectly reasonable to strip search a 13-year-old girl suspected of bringing ibuprofen to school, and the kind who think those people should be kept as far away from children as possible. The first group includes officials at Safford Middle School in Safford, Ariz., who in 2003 forced eighth-grader Savana Redding to prove she was not concealing Advil in her crotch or cleavage. It also includes two judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, who last fall ruled that the strip search did not violate Savana's Fourth Amendment rights. The full court, which recently heard oral arguments in the case, now has an opportunity to overturn that decision and vote against a legal environment in which schoolchildren are conditioned to believe government agents have the authority to subject people to invasive, humiliating searches on the slightest pretext.(READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: Meet a Left-Wing Housing Thug - Last week, a mob of screeching protesters invaded the Bear Stearns headquarters in Manhattan demanding more aid for homeowners. As you know, I oppose federal bailouts of every make and model -- and that includes both the Bear Stearns deal and the bipartisan stimulus-palooza in Washington. But the bank-bashers who held their demonstration in New York City against Bear Stearns and JPMorgan are totally unhinged. And out of control. Here is the face of the entitlement culture gone mad: "We will go to their neighborhood, we will educate their children on what their parents do. They should be ashamed," said Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) founder Bruce Marks in a nasty warning issued to employees of both banks. (READ MORE)

Johnnie B. Byrd: The Light Bulb and the Road to Serfdom - Economist Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992) dedicated “The Road to Serfdom” to the “socialists of both parties.” Our so-called federal energy policy should be likewise dedicated. Albeit Hayek’s initial audience was a post-World War II Britain teetering on the verge of another European experiment in full blown socialism, his lessons should be heeded by 21st century American energy policymakers. Enter the condemned incandescent light bulb, the caricature for modern U.S. energy policy. Hayek would not be shocked since he knew and understood the socialist heart and the forces that drive a society to socialism—down the road to serfdom. But first, who are the “socialists of both parties” in America? Well, I say if the shoe fits, wear it! (READ MORE)

Jerry Bowyer: Meet Barry Obama, Fair Housing Lawyer - Last Saturday, I was a guest on Larry Kudlow’s WABC radio program. Larry’s a good friend and we have been talking quite a bit lately on his TV and radio shows about the ways in which Federal regulations have created the sub-prime mortgage crisis. This is far and away the most underreported aspect of the mortgage story, and aside from Larry’s shows and a few conservative media outlets, such as Townhall, it has been completely missing from the discussion. That’s a shame, because there simply was no such thing as a developed Subprime mortgage industry until the US congress created it by ordering banks to issue loans to people who were not credit worthy. Community activist groups (such as the Public Interest Research Group and Acorn) and civil rights law firms (such as Miner, Barnhill & Galland) had make their living by accusing banks of racism when the banks hesitated to approve loan requests from minority citizens with poor credit scores.(READ MORE)

Donald Douglas: Clarifying Basra's Implications - The implications of Nouri al Maliki's Basra offensive against Iraq's Sadrist militias are not fully known. We do know, however, that war opponents are spinning last week's fighting as proof that Iraq is irreconcilable, and that the Bush administration's surge strategy was doomed from its inception (for some initial flavor of the debate, see Memeorandum). It's thus important to evaluate the knowns and unknowns of the battle, which is the goal of Frederick Kagan and Kimberly Kagan in their piece this morning, "The Basra Business": “MUCH OF THE DISCUSSION about recent Iraqi operations against illegal Shia militias has focused on issues about which we do not yet know enough to make sound judgments, overlooking important conclusions that are already clear.” (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Latte liberals - McCain: Their idea of liberty is “the right to choose among competing brands of designer coffee.” Oh this is going to be a fun race until November. As Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York fades like a stain on an old blue dress, Republican Sen. John McCain is cranking it up as the crank in the race. I like cranky. Quotes from a Reuters story on his visit to Annapolis (where he has a son in the Naval Academy) and a Don Imus appearance and a few places in between: (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Pro-Liberation - Pro-acts of resistance vs. the occupiers, aka the Great Satan. That’s us. It’s Moqtada al-Sadr a couple of days ago, via MEMRI. Saddam was bad but America is worse. Baathists are still abroad in the land. The goal of the Mahdi Army is to liberate Iraq, whatever it takes. Also, a more Islamic society, the Mahdi will be here shortly, and al-Sadr’s got Iran on-side. No big surprises there, but it’s nice to hear our latest partner for peace say it. The interesting part is that he says the battles against the Great Satan must take place in the open, not in the cities where they might harm civilians. This would be something new and different for the Mahdi Army, which reiterated its preference for the urban, human-shielded battlefield as recent as last weekend. I hate to say it, Mookie, going out in the open is probably not a great idea. But you gotta do what you gotta do … (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: Where Have You Gone, Mary Mapes? A Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes To You - Boy howdy, ain't this campaign fun? The crap never stops flying, and it always manages to land on those most deserving of a faceful of crap. This time, it's Hillary Clinton. She doesn't talk about it much, but her experience in matters presidential extends well before her inauguration as First Lady and Co-President on January 20, 1993. Almost exactly 20 years before that, she was on the House staff that was preparing the impeachment of President Richard Nixon. And her old boss from those days recalls her and her then-colleagues (Bernard Nussbaum and John Doar). He reports that the three of them attempted to subvert Constitutional rights and clear orders from their nominal bosses in their attempt to railroad Nixon into a completely unfair Impeachment hearing. (READ MORE)

American Soldier: Uncommon Valor - I wanted to post about something that many people lack. Not that they don’t want to have it but that their fight or flight reaction steers them away from things like danger. You don’t know you have it until you are actually faced with a dangerous situation. I’ll give you two examples and you will see and also read what that trait is all about. “Proctor served with 1st Battalion,1st Brigade, 7th Iraqi Division as a trainer in the Anbar Province of Iraq. He was in almost constant danger patrolling the most violent areas of the 5 Kilo District of Tammim, often with only one other coalition force member present. ”Proctor spent several days at Observation Post 293, one of the most isolated areas in Ramadi.” (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: After the Surge - About three days ago, when the clash between the Iraqi Army and the Madhi army was in its fourth day, I asked a senior officer returned from Iraq after his presentation whether Maliki would go all the way against Sadr. He said he didn't know, but added that militias were a problem that had to be eventually addressed. Another questioner asked about the quality of the Iraqi Armed forces, and on this point the answer was more definite. The quality was uneven. Many parts of it were rudimentary; some parts of it were extraordinarily good. But the subject of the talk that night on the strategic history of the campaign in Iraq provided the perfect background to understand how the fight with the Mahdi Army might develop. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: Reject the U.S. and Implement Jirga - To read the reports of the results of the recent visit of Deputy Secretary of States John D. Negroponte to Pakistan (along with US Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher), one might be tempted to think that all was well with U.S. -Pakistani relations. But the reception was described as cold, and many in Pakistan saw the visit not only as ham-handed pressure, but panic over the Pakistani turn away from the U.S.-led global war on terror. In Misinterpreting the Pakistani Elections we discussed the common (and incorrect) narrative that the recent elections saw the rejection of the Islamists in Pakistan (in reality the rejection was of the old guard’s ability to govern rather than the views of the Taliban). In Pashtun Rejection of the Global War on Terror we discussed the turn away from U.S. interests by many in Pakistan. The blame, they say, rests with the U.S. (READ MORE)

Dadmanly: Update on Iraq - Glenn Reynolds posts an update on the situation in Iraq, linking to an excellent analysis by Austin Bay at Real Clear Politics, and passes along a real time situation report from a deployed Colonel. Read both. Bay ’s assessment: “The firefights, white flags, media debate and, for that matter, the Iraqi-led anti-militia offensive itself are the visible manifestations of a slow, opaque and occasionally violent political and psychological struggle that in the long term is likely democratic Iraq's most decisive: the control, reduction and eventual elimination of Shia gangs and terrorists strongly influenced if not directly supported by Iran. Other Shia militia and gangs confront Iraq, but Sadr is the most vexing case. His father, a leading Shia cleric, was murdered -- many Iraqis believe at the order of Saddam Hussein. That makes his father a political and religious symbol. And Sadr knows it. So do his financiers.” Bay should be required reading for his mainstream media counterparts, who seemingly are oblivious to the context for any news (especially news that can be used to portray our efforts in a negative light). (READ MORE)

Discerning Texan: Destroying the Strawmen - I started off today--as I hope you will--by having a good laugh at Harry Reid's expense. Watching Reid go through painful contortions to try and explain to an interviewer how we really have a "voluntary" tax system is a great way to start off the day with a good laugh. And Allah has provided the opportunity this morning to do just that. But all humor aside, deeper things trouble me today, namely this: how is it that our friends and neighbors continue to be so obtuse that they would elect these neo-Marxist Democrat bozos? I have been watching HBO's excellent series on John Adams, and what strikes me about this excellent adaptation of David McCullough's superb biography, is that back then when our Founding Fathers discussed their political differences, they did so in a civilized and poised manner that which shames the daily conduct of today's lowest-rated-in-history Democrat Congress. (READ MORE)

Baron Bodissey: The Danes Won’t Quit - When I read the story of Col. Lars Møller — the Danish tank commander in Bosnia who was willing to break the rules and actually shoot back at the enemy — it made me I realize that the Danes are the kind of guys you want covering your back when you’re in a tight spot. Since the beginning of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Danish troops have been assisting the United States and its allies with military operations in those countries. There isn’t a whole lot of coverage in the media about it, but the Danes are right there in the thick of it with the USA and the UK — not just handing out candy and painting schools like some of our NATO partners, but actually fighting and winning battles. And also taking casualties. For such a small country, Denmark has had to bear a heavy burden of wounded and killed. But that’s not stopping the Danes, and they aren’t going to pull out of Afghanistan. According to The Copenhagen Post: (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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