May 12, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 05/12/2008

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)
Environmental Stances Are Balancing Act For McCain - In December 2005, Republicans were poised to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, an achievement they had sought for decades. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) had attached the provision to a must-pass defense spending bill... (READ MORE)

Spread of Nuclear Capability Is Feared - VIENNA -- At least 40 developing countries from the Persian Gulf region to Latin America have recently approached U.N. officials here to signal interest in starting nuclear power programs, a trend that concerned proliferation experts say could provide the building blocks of nuclear arsenals in some... (READ MORE)

Burma Faces 'Public Health Catastrophe,' Charity Says - BANGKOK, May 11 -- An estimated 1.5 million Burmese are on the brink of a "massive public health catastrophe," the British charity Oxfam warned Sunday, as survivors of Cyclone Nargis poured out of the devastated Irrawaddy Delta into regional towns in search of water, food and other help. (READ MORE)

Clinton's records vanished after warning of 'very serious' problems - Hillary Rodham Clinton's Rose Law Firm billing records, found in the White House residence in January 1996 two years after they had been subpoenaed by government regulators, disappeared shortly after the first lady was warned that the firm's billing problems were "very serious." (READ MORE)

Hezbollah 'redrawing' Mideast map - Hezbollah's dramatic gains in Lebanon last week are just part of a regional process that began last year in the Gaza Strip and will continue in Jordan and Egypt, a Hamas official in the West Bank told The Washington Times. (READ MORE)

House GOP seizes on voters' call for change - House Republican leaders, facing a potentially disastrous election this fall, will introduce a campaign message today in which they promise voters "the change you deserve" while arguing that Democrats in Congress have dropped the ball. (READ MORE)

McConnell: Democrats will 'turn us into France' - The Senate's top Republican says Democrats' sights are set on European-style socialism, and derided likely Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's claims of being a unifier — one of the major selling points the Illinois Democrat makes on the campaign trail. (READ MORE)

Tornado survivors return to wreckage - Stunned survivors picked through the little that was left of their communities yesterday after tornadoes tore across the Plains and South, killing at least 22 people in three states and leaving behind a trail of destruction and stories of loss. (READ MORE)

The Biggest Housing Losers - You may not know it, dear reader, but Congress is playing you for a sap. During the housing mania, you didn't lend money at teaser rates to borrowers who couldn't pay, or buy a bigger house than you could afford. You paid your bills on time. As a reward for that good judgment and restraint, Barney Frank is now going to let you bail out the least responsible bankers and borrowers. (READ MORE)

Wind ($23.37) v. Gas (25 Cents) - Congress seems ready to spend billions on a new "Manhattan Project" for green energy, or at least the political class really, really likes talking about one. But maybe we should look at what our energy subsidy dollars are buying now. Some clarity comes from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), an independent federal agency that tried to quantify government spending on energy production in 2007. (READ MORE)

The Union Police - Unions keep losing membership as a share of the national workforce, which explains why organized labor's main political focus is changing the rules to force more workers into unions. Witness a bill that Senate Democrats are pushing this week to require that hundreds of thousands of local police and firemen submit to collective bargaining. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Star Parker: Is Obama really the man blacks need? - It appears that Barack Obama has survived a tough couple of weeks. In the words of some, he's shown that "he can take a punch." But, frankly, I think Senator Obama is still getting kid gloves treatment from a press corps that tilts left. Despite the hounding about his "bitterness" remarks, and the ongoing story of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, there's been hardly 10 seconds of attention about his incredible statement that he wouldn't want his daughters "punished with a baby" if they "make a mistake." This in a discussion about HIV/AIDS in which he said that contraception should be included alongside of abstinence in sex education. Regarding his two young daughters, Obama said, "I am going to teach them first about values and morals." (READ MORE)

Robert D. Novak: McCain, Huckabee and the Evangelicals - WASHINGTON, D.C. -- John McCain, who has spent the last two months trying to consolidate right-wing support as the Republican candidate for president, has a problem of disputed dimensions with a vital component of the conservative coalition: the evangelicals. The biggest question is whether Mike Huckabee is part of the problem or the solution for McCain. An element of the Christian community is not reconciled to McCain's candidacy but instead regards the prospective presidency of Barack Obama in the nature of a Biblical plague visited upon a sinful people. These militants look at former Baptist preacher Huckabee as "God's candidate" running for president in 2012. (READ MORE)

Dinesh D'Souza: Atheism and Child Murder - Peter Singer is a calm, lucid and able debater, and our debate at Biola University in Los Angeles on April 25 was lively and hard-fought. Not for nothing is Singer considered a world-class philosopher and advocate. To watch the debate go to and click on my AOL blog. Singer praised me for not simply making assertions of faith or hurling Bible passages at him but rather for using reason and argument to make my case . And I complimented Singer for stepping, so to speak, into the lion's den. (Biola actually stands for Bible Institute of Los Angeles.) Unlike the pusillanimous Richard Dawkins, who doesn't dare to debate me even at his home campus of Oxford, Singer was brave to come to a Christian campus to dispute the resolution "God: Yes or No." The audience of 3,000 was mostly though not exclusively Christian. (READ MORE)

Burt Prelutsky: Why Jews Vote the Way They Do - If I am asked one question by my readers far more frequently than any other, it’s why do so many American Jews insist on aligning themselves with the far left. Believe me, being Jewish myself, it’s the question I most frequently ask myself. It’s certainly not because Jews are stupid, evil, unpatriotic or dependent on government handouts for their survival, four reasons that certainly explain why millions of my fellow Americans will eagerly line up to vote for any political crackpot so long as he or she is running as a Democrat. Having given it a great deal of thought, I believe the explanation is to be found in the way we tend to be raised. It’s not so strange if you think about it. (READ MORE)

Peter J. Wirs: The Fundamental Problem with the Republican Party - Kingrandy66 wrote in response to my prior column that "the fundamental problem with the Republican Party is that it is a top-down organization: You give us marching orders, and expect us to execute them with military precision. But for most Americans (and, an increasing proportion of rank-and-file Republicans), there's nothing left in it for us." The writer cites Lincoln, TR, Goldwater, Reagan, the party’s history regarding civil rights, and woman’s suffrage as evidence of the party’s historical legacy. But, as Kingrandy66 concludes "I understand and appreciate Reagan's quip: ‘The Party left me.’ Politics is about enlightened self-interest, and real folks like me have no interest in the Party as [it is] now configured. I refuse to send one more dime or take one step for the Party unless and until it makes some radical changes in the way it does business. And as the numbers appear to show, I am not alone." (READ MORE)

Guy Benson: Constitutional "Empathy" - John McCain delivered an important speech at Wake Forest on Tuesday, but how many Americans even heard about it? Much of the media was too busy obsessing over the latest twist in the Democratic primary to pay McCain's remarks much attention. As the press breathlessly declared Hillary Clinton's demise (again) and wildly celebrated—er, objectively reported—Barack Obama's solid win in North Carolina, conservatives were showering McCain with positive reviews on a crucial issue: The federal judiciary. Republicans who remain unsold on McCain should take heed. My friend Hugh Hewitt likes to quip that there are seven reasons to embrace John McCain—the war, and six Supreme Court justices over the age of 68. The line often gets a laugh, but it's no joke. (READ MORE)

Michael Barone: Rethinking the Iraq Critics - In trying to understand news about the conflicts in Iraq, I work to keep in mind the difference between what we know now about decision making in World War II and what most Americans knew at the time. From the memoirs and documents published after the war, we've learned how leaders made critical judgments. But at the time, even well-informed journalists only could guess at what was going on behind the scenes. Today we're only beginning to learn about what went on behind the scenes in regard to Iraq. One important new source is the recently published "War and Decision" by Douglas Feith, the No. 3 civilian at the Pentagon from 2001 to 2005. (READ MORE)

Brian M. Carney: Air Combat by Remote Control - The sniper never knew what hit him. The Marines patrolling the street below were taking fire, but did not have a clear shot at the third-story window that the sniper was shooting from. They were pinned down and called for reinforcements. Help came from a Predator drone circling the skies 20 miles away. As the unmanned plane closed in, the infrared camera underneath its nose picked up the muzzle flashes from the window. The sniper was still firing when the Predator's 100-pound Hellfire missile came through the window and eliminated the threat. The airman who fired that missile was 8,000 miles away... (READ MORE)

Douglas E. Schoen: Obama and the Values Question Mark - With the Democratic nomination all but decided, it's time for Barack Obama to start defining himself in the context of the general election -- before the Republicans define him. Most importantly, he must answer this question once and for all: What are his values? Mr. Obama began to do so last Tuesday night, by speaking more generally about who he is and how he defines himself. But this is just a first step. Exit polls in Indiana and North Carolina show clearly that fewer than 60% of white voters believe Mr. Obama shares their values. In a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, only 45% of the American electorate said they can identify with Mr. Obama's values, compared to 54% who say they can identify with John McCain's values. (READ MORE)

Carlos M. Gutierrez & Arnold Schwarzenegger: Keep America Open to Trade - As immigrants, we're proud of America and the strength it derives from being uniquely open to trade, to investment, and to ideas and people. Recently, prominent voices in punditry and politics have questioned the benefits of America's openness and called for an isolationist U-turn that would choke off our innovation and prosperity. In every state of the union, such a retreat would be disastrous for jobs, economic growth and consumer choice. Nowhere is this more clear than here in Torrance, Calif., where today we are visiting a Hitachi plant that remanufactures auto parts. This "foreign" company employs 16,000 Americans -- 8,000 in California alone -- and is just one of hundreds of overseas firms that invest directly in the U.S. From where we're standing, what America needs is more openness here and abroad -- not less. (READ MORE)

L. Gordon Crovitz: From Wikinomics to Government 2.0 - You don't need to have a Facebook account, or to have edited a Wikipedia entry, to understand that the Web is in another highly disruptive period. Online tools under the rubric Web 2.0 are changing how information flows, with social networks letting people communicate directly with one another. This is reversing the top-down, one-way approach to communications that began with Gutenberg, challenging everything from how bosses try to manage to how consumers make or break products with instant mass feedback. The institution that has most resisted new ways of doing things is the biggest one of all: government. This is about to change, with public-sector bureaucracies the new target for Web innovators. These include Don Tapscott, the business-strategy consultant who, with his New Paradigm consulting colleague Anthony Williams, in 2006 popularized Web 2.0 with the bestselling "Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything." (READ MORE)

Mary Anastasia O'Grady: The U.S. Role in a Mexico Assassination - Stories of campus drug use in the U.S. are so common that last week's arrest of 75 alleged dealers at San Diego State University was shocking chiefly due to the number netted. The occasional big bust aside, the long running drug war has become almost background noise. At least in this country. American nonchalance about drug use stands in sharp contrast to what is happening across the border in Mexico. There lawmen are taking heavy casualties in a showdown with drug-running crime syndicates. On Thursday the chief of the Mexican federal police, Edgar Millán Gómez, was assassinated by men waiting for him when he came home, becoming the latest and most prominent victim of the syndicates. (READ MORE)

A Newt One: War News: National Security Is Our #1 Issue - As The Mighty Knight says, "We must be living in upside down land." Despite the current Administrations' inheritance of the free-falling Clinton economy; despite the catastrophic event of 91101; despite the ills and woes of the housing market; despite of the stock market collapse in the early years of the Bush Administration; the American Economy, the Bush Economy, has grown each and every month with employment being at all-time highs and the unemployment being at all time lows. In some magical and mythical way, the Bush Economy is said to be the worst ever in the history of our nation. One would think, listening to the Democrat Party presidential aspirants, we are in the throes of the Great Depression Part 2. This is clearly not the case. It has been said that the Clinton Economy with an unemployment rate of 5.9% was a "nirvana" economy whereas the Bush Economy with an unemployment rate of 4.9% is considered tanking. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Invasion Burma - Time Magazine has an article entitled "Is it time to invade Burma?" In it, they argue that "with as many as 1 million people at risk" from the leaders of this Chinese-allied country, "it's time to consider a more serious option: invading Burma." In a very clever phrase the author says, "we still haven't figured out when to give war a chance". There are probably any number of people who are now rhetorically asking 'if we will go to war for oil, then why not go to war for humanitarian reasons?' But anyone who examines this sentence carefully soon notices it contains a number of assumptions, none of which are true. First of all the United States does not acquire oil by conquest. It buys it on the open market. If America actually made war to seize oil it would be lifted without paying the invaded country a dime or at artificially low prices. That's the definition of "seize". Not a single barrel of oil in Iraq has been "seized". It's all being sold at world market prices. (READ MORE)

The Captains' Journal: Winning Anbar: Diplomacy with a Gun - It remains as important today as it was a year ago to understand why counterinsurgency was successful in the Anbar Province. The tribal “awakening” was attempted in other parts of Iraq, most notably in the South with the release of Moqtada al Sadr in 2004 at the behest of Sistani and the British, in the hopes that he would lead his Shi’a faction into peace. Why the difference in results? The National Journal recently carried an article entitled Chess with the Sheiks that, while far reaching and sweeping in terms of our understanding of the importance of tribe, gives us an insight into the success in Anbar. This is the money quote. “Westerners tend to think of fighting and negotiating as incompatible. Arabs tend to see them as complementary. The West’s great military theoretician, the 19th-century Prussian Carl von Clausewitz, is often quoted as saying, ‘War is a continuation of politics by other means,’ as if normal politicking suddenly switched off when violence switched on. But Clausewitz’s actual point is more nuanced and more applicable to Iraq:” (READ MORE)

Don Surber: 2nd opinion - Alaska may spend $2 million to see if polar bears really are “threatened.” How dare they ask scientists to examine the science behind global warming? The Great And Powerful Oz (Al Gore) has spoken! The ice caps will melt off by 2050 and it is all George Bush’s fault. The Alaskan Legislature though, wants a second opinion. While certainly, a warmer globe would help Alaskan farmers, global warming is being used to harass the oil industry that pays the freight in the 49th state. The bureaucrats want to place the polar bear on the threatened list. Before that happens, Alaska’s legislature wants to check the science. Lawmakers appropriated $2 million toward this. Enviros are unhappy. (READ MORE)

Dymphna: A Girl, a Gun, and a Prayer Book - Universal conscription for Israeli citizens is a fact of life there. Which is not to say that military service is easy. However, in a country beset on all sides, each able-bodied citizen must take part in its defense. Rachel Papo served her time in the Israeli Army. An American citizen who was raised in Israel, she later returned to the US to pursue her education in photography. As part of her master’s thesis, she went back to Israel fifteen years later to photograph the young women currently on active duty: “Walking onto an army base after all these years was very disorienting, as memories began to surface, and blend with feelings of estrangement. The girls who I encountered during these visits were disconnected from the outside world, completely absorbed in their paradoxical reality. They spoke a language now foreign to me, using phrases like ‘Armored Cavalry Regiment’ and ‘Defense Artillery.’ Would it have made any difference to explain to them that in a few years the only thing they might remember is their serial number?” (READ MORE)

The Daily Ramble: "Power And Coups" - Street fighting in Beirut? What's up? Is Little Satan's rowdy BDay Bash kickoff kicking something else off? Is Great Satan on another regime changing rampage? Nope. Maybe. Recent events could easily be interpreted that there is a 3 way battle going for Lebanon's very soul. And it's at the airport. Lebanon's gov (what hasn't been blown up by Syria) is making a stand against a Resistance movement that seems more adept at resisting their own legit gov than any foreign chicanery. Lebanon's Cabinet took action against Hiz'B'Allah - sacking the security chief at Rafik Hatriri Internat'l Aerodrome. General Wafiq Shucair lost his gig when the gov freaked about HBA real time super spy tech deployed at the airport. Hey - that's fair - either he knew about such hanky panky - which would suggest some type of ties or even worse - he was totally obliviously conned. Either sucks on a resume'. (READ MORE)

GayPatriot: NY Times Reveals Iraqi Success, Hell Freezes Over - I thought I saw Al Gore’s cold breath in the air last week…. the New York Times finally admits success in recent surge by Iraqi troops in Basra. “Three hundred miles south of Baghdad, the oil-saturated city of Basra has been transformed by its own surge, now seven weeks old. In a rare success, forces loyal to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki have largely quieted the city, to the initial surprise and growing delight of many inhabitants who only a month ago shuddered under deadly clashes between Iraqi troops and Shiite militias. Just as in Baghdad, Iraqi and Western officials emphasize that the gains here are “fragile,” like the newly planted roadside saplings that fail to conceal mounds of garbage and pools of foul-smelling water in the historic port city’s slums. ‘The circle of fear is broken,’ said Shaker, owner of a floating restaurant on Basra’s famed Corniche promenade, who, although optimistic, was still afraid to give his full name, as were many of those interviewed.” (READ MORE)

GayPatriotWest: Disgruntled, Divided Democrats - When I called the PatriotMomWest this morning to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day, our conversation ranged from family matters to matters educational, intellectual and political. A Democrat, my Mom expressed frustration with the two Senators running for her party’s presidential nomination: “When Democrats have such a chance to recapture the White House, they couldn’t have picked a worse selection of candidates.” While my Mom and I do differ on politics, we both agree on the Democratic contenders, her views in accord with my view that if the Democrats had a strong nominee, my party would be toast this year. I wonder if there are more Democrats like my mother, familiar with the political landscape and the issues of the day, but dissatisfied with their choices in the current presidential contest. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Mahdis sign over Sadr City to Maliki, victory celebrations in media pending Update: NYT acknowledges success on front page - Get ready for more celebrations of Moqtada al-Sadr in the American media. Earlier today, he signed over control of Sadr City to the Nouri al-Maliki government in Baghdad, effectively ending his grip on any territory in Iraq. In the document, the Sadrists recognize the elected government as the sole legitimate authority in Sadr City and everywhere else in Iraq:
“We have signed the agreement today,” said Khalid al-Attiyah, the deputy parliamentary speaker from the main Shiite political bloc, United Iraqi Alliance. Al-Attiyah said the cease-fire went into effect on Sunday and Iraqi forces will be allowed to enter the area as early as Wednesday and “take over the security there.” (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Heart of Darkness - You can almost hear the “Scree! scree!! Ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo!!!” of exotic plumed birds and shrieking monkeys as this intrepid scribbler hacks his way into the clearing where he encounters natives heretofore ignorant of all trappings of civilization. It’s a tour de force of the genre as the UK’s Financial Times attempts to explain why Obama is going to tank in West Virginia. Apparently because the back of beyond is loaded with ignorant bigots who underscore the deep insight of Obama’s anthropological observations re bitter small-town gun-toting bible-thumpers. Let’s listen in as Andrew Ward reports on these exotic creatures who puff upon the smoke of rolled up tobacco leaves and voice bizarre superstitions, one of “several” he encountered when he ventured deep into the Heart of Darkness. (READ MORE)

Allahpundit: Telegraph: Obama clinches? - Remember a few weeks ago when Claire McCaskill claimed that he’d already locked up a bunch of superdelegates but that they were holding off on declaring their intentions while the rest of the primaries shook out? No foolin’: “Barack Obama believes he has already secured the private support of enough super-delegates to beat Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic White House nomination, The Sunday Telegraph has learned… A senior Democrat strategist, familiar with discussions at the highest levels of the Obama camp, has revealed that Mr Obama is now confident of the support of around 120 of the remaining 260 undeclared superdelegates…” Supposedly they’ll start coming out of the woodwork after the last contests in Montana and South Dakota on June 3 — unless Hillary really pastes him in West Virginia this week and he needs a sudden momentum boost, which he well might. (READ MORE)

Lee Smith: The Tea Boy - The other day the Obama campaign distanced itself from Robert Malley for his dealings with Hamas. Never mind the disingenuousness of a campaign that up until the day before yesterday when he was fired from the campaign said Malley was not with the campaign, even though a New York Times defense in his behalf said he was with the campaign. What is manifestly clear however is that Obama and his banished adviser/non-adviser share the same worldview. Consider this passage from a press release expressing his “support” for Lebanon. “It's time to engage in diplomatic efforts to help build a new Lebanese consensus that focuses on electoral reform, an end to the current corrupt patronage system, and the development of the economy that provides for a fair distribution of services, opportunities and employment.” Yes, the problem with Lebanon is not the militia backed by Damascus and Tehran that who have squared off against almost every US ally in the Middle East. No, in the Obama worldview, the issue is about “the corrupt patronage system.” (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: Back To Normal At The Boston Globe - OK, things are back to normal. I was a bit worried when the Boston Globe came out AGAINST a new tax, but today all is normal again and they are opposing a tax break. This time, the city of Boston is considering a tax break for a big financial firm that is looking into getting out of the city -- and taking over 500 high-paying jobs with it. Instead, if they get the deal, JP Morgan Chase plans to add almost 400 new jobs. The Globe is deeply troubled by this. They fear that unless the city sets a solid policy regarding who might get tax breaks, there might be a stampede by companies threatening to leave the city unless they are given deals. Indeed, the Globe even warns about a "tax-break arms race." As if that is such a bad thing. (READ MORE)

Mark Steyn: DISSING THE BIG ME - Four score and seven years ago ... No, wait, my mistake. Two score and seven or eight days ago, Barack Obama gave the greatest speech since the Gettysburg Address, or FDR's First Inaugural, or JFK's religion speech, or (if, like Garry Wills in The New York Review of Books, you find those comparisons drearily obvious) Lincoln's Cooper Union speech of 1860. And, of course, the senator's speech does share one quality with Cooper Union, Gettysburg, the FDR Inaugural, Henry V at Agincourt, Socrates' Apology, etc.: It's history. He said, apropos the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, that "I could no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother." But last week Obama did disown him. So, great-speech-wise, it's a bit like Churchill promising to fight them on the beaches and never surrender, and then surrendering a month and a half later, and on a beach he decided not to fight on. (READ MORE)

Stop the ACLU: Show Me state says Show Me some ID - Recently there has been an uproar because the Supreme Court finally upheld the legality of requesting an ID from a person before allowing him to vote. This is a common sense item but I have always known that common sense is not that common. The fight over IDs to vote has been a long one with liberals and the ACLU leading a charge against the idea that a person has to prove he is who he says he is in order to participate in one of our most important civil duties. The claims are always the same. Lower income people and the elderly will be disenfranchised. This process is designed to keep certain groups from voting. The arguments continue as to how it is wrong to require people to show ID before voting. We are constantly told that the very same people who have IDs to cash welfare and Social Security checks will not have an ID to vote. (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Ignorance, Stupidity, Laziness, or Venality? How the Left Deals With the Middle East's Complexity - Is it possible to understand a convoluted and complex situation such as the fighting in Lebanon between Hezbollah and the Sunni and Druze who have been described as pro-Western and pro-government (of Fouad Siniora) without exploring the relationship between the fighting in Lebanon and the strategic interests of Iran and Syria? Apparently, the New York Times thinks so; their article starts with a brief description of the renewed fighting: “Fierce Fighting Breaks Out East of Beirut - Fierce clashes broke out on Sunday in the mountains east of Beirut between supporters of the Western-backed government and followers of Hezbollah, the militant group backed by Iran. The fighting, in the Shouf and Aley districts in the mountains overlooking the capital, Beirut, followed overnight clashes in the northern city of Tripoli that left at least two people dead and five wounded, according to security officials.” (READ MORE)

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