April 22, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 04/22/2008

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)
Tax on Talking - Among the better ideas John McCain announced last week is a ban on new cellphone taxes. For America's 257 million wireless subscribers, the GOP Presidential candidate is advancing a sensible policy with political punch. A recent analysis by economist Scott Mackey in the journal State Tax Notes shows that the average monthly tax burden on wireless customers is more than 15% – double the average sales tax burden. (READ MORE)

That 'Insulting' Pope - It's not everyday that a backbencher in Congress draws international attention by insulting the spiritual leader of one in four Americans. But Colorado Republican Tom Tancredo, the anti-immigrant obsessive, wasn't about to miss his moment. (READ MORE)

Cynicism and Big Tobacco - Congress wants to give regulators more authority over the tobacco industry – so what else is new? The surprise is that currently there are no plans to give it to the Environmental Protection Agency. Surely cigarette smoke qualifies as a dangerous pollutant. (READ MORE)

Candidates Playing Expectations Game - If Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton gets the big win, she'll have more evidence for her claim that Sen. Barack Obama is unable to deliver in major swing states and, her team says, it will raise serious questions about his electability. (READ MORE)

Food Prices Bite Haiti - Nowhere in the world have rising food prices — which have sparked protests and riots in several countries — had such a devastating impact as in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, where about 80 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day. (READ MORE)

Hamas Rebuts Carter's Claim of Concession - Hamas said yesterday it was prepared to accept a Palestinian state within 1967 borders, but contradicted a statement by former President Jimmy Carter that it would accept Israel's right to exist if that was the will of the Palestinian people. (READ MORE)

WHO at Odds With Indonesia Over Bird flu - A dispute over sharing samples of the bird-flu virus between Indonesia and the U.N. World Health Organization (WHO) is jeopardizing efforts to prevent a global influenza pandemic and putting lives at risk, international health officials warn. (READ MORE)

'Green' Promises From Hill Fall Flat With Activists - Democrats promised a wave of "green" legislation when they took control of Congress in January 2007, but their failure to produce major legislation to address global warming has left many environmental activists seeing red. (READ MORE)

Clinton, Obama Make Last Pitches To Pennsylvania - PHILADELPHIA, April 21 -- Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama offered Pennsylvania voters their closing arguments on Monday, winding down a nearly two-month campaign in the state that has done little to bring clarity to the Democratic presidential contest. (READ MORE)

U.S. to Insist That Travel Industry Get Fingerprints - The U.S. government today will order commercial airlines and cruise lines to prepare to collect digital fingerprints of all foreigners before they depart the country under a security initiative that the industry has condemned as costly and burdensome. (READ MORE)

Carter: Hamas Ready To Live Beside Israel - JERUSALEM, April 21 -- The armed Islamist movement Hamas is prepared to accept Israel as a neighbor if the Palestinian people approve the terms for peace, former president Jimmy Carter and the group's exiled leadership said Monday following a visit to the region... (READ MORE)

On the Web:
William McGurn: The Pope and the President - He came. He spoke. He confounded. In the run-up to Pope Benedict XVI's visit to America, the assurance was that the Bishop of Rome would take the president of the United States to the papal woodshed. One of the more wishful versions appeared in the Washington Post, whose author confidently asserted that "Pope Benedict XVI will show how much his worldview differs from President Bush's when he denounces the continuing U.S. occupation of Iraq before the U.N. General Assembly." (READ MORE)

Bret Stephens: Afghans Build an Army, and a Nation - From a hard and arid plain about a 30-minute drive out of downtown Kabul, a squad of Afghan soldiers is mounting an attack on a small rise to the south. Three soldiers lie flat on their stomachs, providing covering fire as four of their comrades rush forward, Kalashnikovs in hand. Shots are fired, startling a visiting columnist. "Um, they're blanks," explains Lt. Col. Paul Fanning. "Live-fire exercises take place behind that hill over there," he adds, pointing north. (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: The Economics of College - A front-page headline in the New York Times captures much of the economic confusion of our time: "Fewer Options Open to Pay for Costs of College." The whole article is about the increased costs of college, the difficulties parents have in paying those costs, and the difficulties that both students and parents have in trying to borrow the money needed when their current incomes will not cover college costs. All that is fine for a purely "human interest" story. But making economic policies on the basis of human interest stories -- which is what politicians increasingly do, especially in election years -- has a big down side for those people who do not happen to be in the categories chosen to write human interest stories about. (READ MORE)

Dennis Prager: Time Fights Carbon Emissions; Military Fights Evil - The state of the liberal mind is on display on this week's cover of Time magazine. The already notorious cover takes the iconic photograph of U.S. Marines planting the American flag on Iwo Jima and substitutes a tree for the flag. Why Time's editors did this explains much about contemporary liberalism. The first thing it explains is that liberals, not to mention the left as a whole, stopped fighting evil during the Vietnam War. As I wrote in my last column, whereas liberals had led the fight against Nazism before and during World War II, and against Communism after the War, the liberal will to fight Communism, the greatest organized evil of the post-War world, collapsed during the Vietnam War. (READ MORE)

Cal Thomas: A Matter of Life and Death - The Supreme Court has ruled 7-2 that the death penalty by lethal injection in Kentucky, which uses a cocktail of three drugs, is not a violation of the Constitution's prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment." Other states, which had placed their lethal injection methods on hold pending a court ruling, are now expected to proceed. No news report I saw appreciated the irony of the 7-2 vote, the same margin by which the court decided in 1973 that unborn babies could be killed in any manner, with or without drugs to dull their pain. As death penalty opponents on and off the court lament the execution of convicted murderers who are getting their just desserts, some definitions might be helpful. The two phrases associated with this procedure are "death penalty" and "capital punishment." (READ MORE)

Mike S. Adams: Five Great Cigars and Why I Smoke Them - Padron 7000 Maduro. This 6&1/4-inch x 60-ring cigar is a medium to full-bodied smoke with a rich and unique flavor. It is best described as a dominant coffee flavor with a smooth cocoa flavor for added complexity. My suit against UNCW is going well. The university was fortunate enough to get a federal judge (to hear their motion to dismiss the case) with an astronomically high rate of dismissal. They were probably feeling pretty confident. But, unfortunately for them, confidence is sometimes misplaced. Despite the unfavorable circumstances, I won easily. The judge said that my case is “ripe for adjudication.” Previously, an angry feminist had logged on to my Amazon.com page and said my case had been dismissed. That was wishful thinking. Welcome to reality. And let the depositions begin. (READ MORE)

Patrick J. Buchanan: The Greenhouse Effect - Last week, the Supreme Court held, 7 to 2, that Kentucky's method of lethal injection remains a constitutional way of executing the rapist of a child. Justice John Paul Stevens concurred. In his opinion, however, Stevens exhilarated liberals by coming out of the closet as a born-again abolitionist of capital punishment. Said his honor, it is time to reconsider the "justification for the death penalty itself." Court decisions and state actions that justify it are but "the product of habit and inattention rather than an acceptable and deliberative process." Enlightened men and women, the justice is saying, will abolish capital punishment as a barbaric relic of a blessedly bygone era. (READ MORE)

Chuck Norris: Win Ben Stein's Monkey - Evolution. Intelligent design. These are terms that can cause great consternation in the minds and hearts of many, particularly opponents of each view. Now, that anxiety and debate have resurfaced in theaters everywhere with Ben Stein's new documentary, "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." The press kit says, "('Expelled') exposes the widespread persecution of scientists and educators who are pursuing legitimate, opposing scientific views to the reigning orthodoxy." (To see a trailer of the movie or access its free resources, go to www.getexpelled.com.) I like Ben Stein. I think he's funny, creative and an insightful commentator on a host of issues. I'm not bent on defending him or "Expelled," but I'm glad he made it. (READ MORE)

Robert Knight: My Big Fat Green Wedding and Other Media Nonsense - From carbon footprint calculators to electricity-free weddings, the media’s promotion of anti-global warming hysteria is warming up with the approach of Earth Day on April 22. ABC’s Good Morning America was actually running a Countdown to Earth Day every morning, beginning last week, as if we were all like kids waiting for Christmas Day. Maybe that’s how it is at Al Gore’s house. The New York Times Magazine on Sunday devoted the entire issue to a “low-carbon catalog” of ideas for the environmentally inclined. However, as Folio magazine notes, it was printed on new, wasteful paper, not recycled pulp. Monday’s Today Show on NBC had segments on “eating green,” wind power, recycling electronics, and green investing. Over on ABC, Good Morning America also had viewers grazing on a segment about eating green. (READ MORE)

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann: Nuts On Nukes: Hillary's Mad New Policy - In last week's Philadelphia debate, Hillary Clinton said she would commit the United States to a retaliatory attack against Iran, presumably with nuclear weapons, if it dropped the bomb on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or Kuwait. Asked if "it should be US policy now to treat an Iranian attack on Israel as if it were an attack against the United States," Clinton astonishingly responded that she'd use American nukes not just to defend Israel, our traditional strategic ally, but also other neighboring states such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait from an Iranian nuclear attack. Barack Obama's far more sensible answer was simply to commit to definitively and aggressively extend our deterrent protection to Israel - period. (READ MORE)

William Rusher: The McCain surge - The remarkable performance of John McCain in the past few months has rightly garnered a lot of attention. Time was, not so long ago, when he was just one of several contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, along with Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson, and not necessarily the front-runner at that. His support for illegal immigrants had turned off a lot of conservative Republicans, and his general reputation as a maverick didn't help, either. And yet, before so much as a single primary has been held, one after another of his rivals has dropped from contention, and today McCain stands alone as the inevitable nominee of his party. (READ MORE)

Rich Lowry: The Wages of Polygamy - Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas can be forgiven for thinking they are being punished for making just another "lifestyle choice." The compound of the polygamous sect -- a breakaway from the Mormon Church, which long ago forswore plural marriage a century ago -- was raided by Texas authorities, who took more than 400 children from their parents. The group's family tree is so opaque that DNA tests are under way to determine which children belong to whom. "It's just like in any society in America," one woman at the ranch told a reporter, by way of explaining the confusion over the children. "A mother might have been in two or three relationships, and a child may be confused about what name to give." (READ MORE)

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.: Foggy Bottom's Impatience - During a Camp David press conference with South Korean president Lee Myung-bak last Saturday, George W. Bush appealed for patience with respect to his administration’s efforts to secure through negotiations North Korea’s nuclear disarmament. Ironically, the people most in need of such counsel are not Americans convinced by Pyongyang’s past behavior that it will breach today’s denuclearization accords as it has all previous ones. Rather, the folks who really need to heed the President’s injunction against impatience are those in Foggy Bottom responsible for these negotiations: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill. (READ MORE)

A Soldier's Mind: Learning About Commitment - Commitment… What exactly does that word mean to you? It’s a word that can have many different meanings, depending on the context the word is used in. Such as a parent’s commitment to ensuring that their children are raised properly and have what they need physically and emotionally, to grow into healthy and productive members of society. It could also mean a person obligating themselves to a contract, such as what many of us do when we purchase a home or car, when we obligate or commit ourselves to making our payments on time. Commitment could also refer to a person, who because of their strong personal and moral beliefs, commits themselves to serve a specific cause, such as persons who dedicate themselves to working with various charities or perhaps commit themselves to a specific form of employment. (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: Like You Didn't See This Coming? - Michael Moore has come out and endorsed Obama in the elections. Wow. Consider me floored. I couldn't see that one coming like a hurricane (or a 300 pound Jabba the Hutt look-a-like). Moore informed everyone, like we actually care what he thinks about politics, in a 1,100 word manifesto that touched on why he dislikes Hillary Clinton and what makes Obama his guy. Obama's experience isn't what does it for Moore. Actually, Moore points out that Obama doesn't have any. Of course, when Moore spews, he has to throw in his jabs at the Bush Administration, even as Bush isn't running again. (READ MORE)

Baldilocks: Heretics! - Obama's father's beliefs and associations are irrelevant. However... The beliefs and associations (and observed judgment) of Obama himself are most certainly not irrelevant and seem to be forming a picture of the man who's running for president on character alone or the content thereof. The senator and his supporters were okay with this until the first unsavory association popped up. After that came the next one and the next one--along with the specter of a radical belief system or two--magically transforming the examination of the candidate's beliefs and association--the examination of the only elements available by which his character can be judged--into "distractions." (Then there are the vacillations, or, more descriptively, the "flip-flops"--a manifestation of the candidate's quality of judgment.) (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Al-Qaeda speaks - The Iraq Status Report has a translation of al-Qaeda's Zawahiri's call to do or die in Iraq. The full text follows after the Read More. The most comedic moment comes when he tries to revile Moqtada al-Sadr as a poseur and a loser; saying in effect that the Boy Wonder is all hat and no cattle. What old whiskers fails to realize is that he might very well be talking about himself. “‘Iraq today is now the most important arena in which our Muslim nation is waging the battle against the forces of the Crusader-Zionist campaign. Therefore, backing the mujahidin in Iraq, led by the Islamic State of Iraq, is the most important task of the Islamic nation today.’ -- Ayman al-Zawahiri, audio message, April 18, 2008” (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Nora Ephron has White Penis Envy - Nora Ephron has a piece in today’s Huffington Post where she discusses the Democratic primary and the soon to come general election in terms of how white males will influence the outcome in each of those contests. Ephron contends that the idea that white men have been powerless is a lot of bunk and always has been. She contends that the white male vote will decide the outcome of the primary and of the general elections. She also points out that white men cannot be trusted as any woman who has dated one can attest to. I guess Nora suffers penis envy and that is why she attacks white males as a group that cannot be trusted with elections while she conveniently forgets that it was the white women who gave us Bill Clinton. (READ MORE)

Mark Grimsley: The Very Model of a Modern Military Analyst - Winging homeward yesterday from Ogden, Utah, site of this year’s Society for Military History annual meeting, I read the multi-page New York Times exposé about the cozy relationship between the military analyst talking heads on FOX, CNN, etc., the Pentagon, and certain defense contractor business interests. It made for awkward in-flight reading, since it’s hard to flip so many newspaper pages within the cramped quarters of economy seats. But my need for a full brief on this new manifestation of the military-industrial complex overrode the comfort of the hapless passenger next to me. Several blogosphere pundits have given the piece the gravitas the NYT thought it deserved; e.g., Phil Carter in Intel Dump: (READ MORE)

Blogmeister: Investigating CEO Pay? Investigate Others, Too! - Those of you who think that everyone is out to keep you poor will love my suggestions on Pajamas Media today:
This being an election year, don’t expect Congress and presidential candidates to listen to people like Thomas Sowell, who know what they’re talking about. They must do something to look as though they’re appeasing the masses. More bread and circuses! And so, in that light, I’d like to suggest a few other areas of salary inequity they may want to look into. No, it’s none of their business how much these people make, but neither is CEO pay. And it would make some really good press. (READ MORE)

Blue Crab Boulevard: Slamming Bio-Fuelishness - I have been writing for quite some time about the biofuel scam and warning that the growing political demands to convert food into fuel would cause serious problems. It seems others are finally waking up to the facts. “The willingness to try, fail and try again is the essence of scientific progress. The same sometimes holds true for public policy. It is in this spirit that today, Earth Day, we call upon Congress to revisit recently enacted federal mandates requiring the diversion of foodstuffs for production of biofuels. These ‘food-to-fuel’ mandates were meant to move America toward energy independence and mitigate global climate change. But the evidence irrefutably demonstrates that this policy is not delivering on either goal. In fact, it is causing environmental harm and contributing to a growing global food crisis…” (READ MORE)

The Captains' Journal: IRack, Iraq and Iran - Today HS dropped by Abu Muqawama’s place for a rockin’ and rollin’ good time. We’ll do so again. The discussions in the comments, other than a good bit of sophistry to attempt to prove that Iran really isn’t involved much in Iraq, is fairly complicated and you can drop by to study them. HS feels pretty jazzed and is ready to challenge some of the boys to a mixed martial arts cage match. Yep, HS here is 48 mature years of age with a distinguished mixture of silver in his hair, but his bench press is pretty good and he wouldn’t hesitate to throw down with the best of ‘em. HS feels some Gracie Jiu-Jitsu coming on. But there is an issue that is so important that we’ll tackle it again. We never tire of pointing out the truth. (READ MORE)

Crazy Politico: Why The Frustration? - Yesterday I read a lot of blog and newspaper entries on the Democratic debate from last week. The biggest sense from all of them was frustration. While on the surface it seemed to be aimed at the questions and questioners, below the surface it is more likely aimed at the process that brought about this debate. One of the more common lines was that McCain wasn't going to face such a debate between now and the convention. There wouldn't be a Gibson to ask him about his famous temper, since he doesn't have to do any more debating. But that's not because he was the only candidate. Hell, six months ago John McCain was consider a DOA candidate. But the GOP primary system allowed him to sew up the nomination early, and concentrate on the broad picture. The Democrats, on the other hand, have developed a "fair" primary system, that has tied their party in knots. (READ MORE)

Dadmanly: A Suit with Agenda - The Associated Press ran a story today reporting on a class action lawsuit that’s been filed against The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). According to the AP, the lawsuit was filed by two “non profit groups representing military veterans.” MILBLOGGERS have long recognized this line of criticism against our military, the VA, and the Bush Administration. Much of what’s been written and press-released for the public has been filled was misinformation and distortions, if not outright fabrications. There’s been no “epidemic of suicides” in the military, and the suicide rate for the military is actually lower than the rates for non-military when like data sets are compared. Some of the reported distortions about a non-existent epidemic of suicides have been due to faulty data analysis, that fails to account for higher proportion of young women and particularly young men in military populations. (READ MORE)

Democracy Project: NYT’s Couldn’t Find An Expert - The New York Times reports on the extraordinary efforts the Department of Veterans Affairs is making to offer hotline help to distressed veterans, some of whom may be contemplating suicide. Midway through the article, the reporter asserts, “Experts agree that veterans are more likely, perhaps twice as much, to commit suicide as people who have never served in the military.” The reporter, within 1458 words, couldn’t cite any expert or source. Curious, I searched for a source. CBS did a research project, of which CBS said in November 2007 the results showed such a high rate. (READ MORE)

Danger Girl: TOLD YOU SO!! Agenda driven film FLOPS!!! - I wrote this piece "Spotlight on Iraq Themed Films Fades to Black" in SEPT 2007 after attending the Toronto Film Festival in which I spotlighted Nick Broomfield's agenda driven lied filled, hate filled polemic on the Haditha Marines: "Director Nick Broomfield of "Battle for Haditha" told Reuters – ‘I think there was a hope until about two years ago that there might be a way forward, that democracy was going to work, and I don't think anyone has that belief anymore. We need to look at things in detail to make informed decisions.’ But Bloomfield makes no bones about his intent: he wants to persuade the US government to pull troops out of Iraq.” (READ MORE)

Dymphna: "Faith Creates Reality" - Smoothstone says “changing the lexicon restores truth to the Middle East narrative.” He is exactly right. We have not only to change the lexicon in the ME, but in every place the multi-cults have distorted reality with their use of euphemisms and their cries of ‘racist’ or ‘intolerant’ when someone tells the truth. It helps to create a positive reality by using constructive terms. Conservative Swede once referred to himself as a "kafircon" -- a term that is humorous and much better than "islamophobe." To affirm what is good about *us* is much more generative of creativity than to point to the things we fear. (READ MORE)

Baron Bodissey: Farewell to St. George - In recent years there has been some discussion among the multicultural elites in the UK about getting rid of St. George’s Cross as a national symbol and replacing it with something a little more inclusive, a little more welcoming to the “New Britons”, and a little less… well, you know, a little less Christian. After all, old chap, the symbol is redolent of the Crusades and all that, so we’d be better off with something a little more nondescript, don’t you think? And including a star and a crescent in the design wouldn’t hurt, either. Naturally, if we’re going to give up that nasty old cross, the traditional St. George’s Day parade will have to go, too. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: What does the North Carolina debate retreat mean? Update: AOL Hot Seat poll added - The North Carolina Democratic Party canceled what looked to be the final debate between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton yesterday. Hillary had agreed to another debate, but Obama balked, citing scheduling conflicts: “The North Carolina Democratic Party has dropped plans for an April 27 debate, which would have been moderated by CBS’s Katie Couric. Clinton had agreed to the debate; Obama did not, and the party said in a statement that the clock had run out to organize a debate. The party also cited worries about ‘party unity,’ after last week’s combative debate in Philadelphia, a focused grilling of Senator Barack Obama on topics he would have preferred to avoid.” (READ MORE)

This Ain't Hell: Muslims want to distract McCain and voters - In this morning’s Washington Times, Rowan Scarbourgh writes that the Islamic Society of North America is attempting to change John McCain’s descriptions of the terrorists against whom we’re fighting: “A coalition of American Muslim groups is demanding that Sen. John McCain stop using the adjective ‘Islamic’ to describe terrorists and extremist enemies of the United States. Muneer Fareed, who heads the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), told The Washington Times that his group is beginning a campaign to persuade Mr. McCain to rephrase his descriptions of the enemy. ‘We’ve tried to contact his office, contact his spokesperson to have them rethink word usage that is more acceptable to the Muslim community,’ Mr. Fareed said.” (READ MORE)

Meryl Yourish: Jimmy Carter, the terrorists’ bestest buddy - It truly is reprehensible. I can barely find the words to express the outrage as I read the pro-Hamas, anti-Israel spin given to Jimmy Carter’s talks with Hamas. Here are the plain facts: Hamas offered nothing new. Hamas did not agree to recognize Israel in any way, shape or form. Hamas did not give any proof that Gilad Shalit is still alive. Hamas did not say they would agree to visitation for Shalit—which would be within keeping of international law, something that Carter never seems to notice—nor did Hamas make any concessions, changes, or teeny, tiny moves towards a middle ground with Israel. Hamas did not even bother to stop firing rockets while Carter was there, except during the time he was physically in Sderot. (READ MORE)

Mark Steyn: Attack of the Pre-School Perverts - Is American public education a form of child abuse? A week ago, The Washington Post's Brigid Schulte reported on a student named Randy Castro who attends school in Woodbridge, Virginia. Last November at recess he slapped a classmate on her bottom. The teacher took him to the principal. School officials wrote up an incident report and then called the police. Randy Castro is in the First Grade. But, at the ripe old age of six, he's been declared a sex offender by Potomac View Elementary School. He's guilty of sexual harassment, and the incident report will remain on his record for the rest of his schooldays - and maybe beyond. Maybe it'll be one of those things that just keeps turning up on background checks forever and ever: Perhaps 34-year old Randy Castro will apply for a job and at his prospective employer's computer up will pop his sexual-harasser status yet again. (READ MORE)

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