June 10, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 06/10/2008

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)
How HUD Mortgage Policy Fed The Crisis - In 2004, as regulators warned that subprime lenders were saddling borrowers with mortgages they could not afford, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development helped fuel more of that risky lending. (READ MORE)

2 Picked For Top Spots in Air Force - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday recommended two nominees to the White House to take the top leadership positions in the Air Force, just days after he ousted the service's secretary and chief of staff amid concerns about the security of the nation's nuclear arsenal and other recent... (READ MORE)

China's Local Leaders Hold Absolute Power - XIFENG, China -- When Zhang Zhiguo took over as Communist Party leader in Xifeng county, he was determined to make his mark, to push this impoverished corner of northeast China into the mainstream of swift economic development. (READ MORE)

Tomatoes Pulled After Salmonella Warning - Restaurants are removing tomato slices from sandwiches and grocery stores are plucking red plum tomatoes from their produce aisles following a nationwide alert that raw tomatoes may have infected scores of people with a rare form of salmonella. (READ MORE)

U.S. Official Cites 'Hardening' of Iraqi Detainees - U.S. combat commanders are currently sending about 30 prisoners a day to the main U.S.-run detention centers in Iraq, with more of the detainees likely to be held for longer periods as security risks than those prisoners taken when the U.S. troop buildup first began last year, according to Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone Jr., the former head of the Iraq detention program. (READ MORE)

British Premier Bruised Ahead of Vote on Controversial Bill - LONDON, June 9 -- Prime Minister Gordon Brown approaches a key vote on anti-terrorism legislation Wednesday facing rebellion within his Labor Party and some of the lowest approval ratings in modern British history. (READ MORE)

Dubai's Favorite Senators - The first refuge of a politician panicked by rising prices is always to blame "speculators." So right on time for this election season, Congress has decided to do something about rising oil prices by shooting the messenger known as the energy futures market. Apparently this is easier than offending the Sierra Club by voting for more domestic energy supply. (READ MORE)

Look for the Union Label - What do the farm bill, the cap-and-trade global warming bill, the clean water bill, the housing bailout bill, and the school construction bill all have in common? Not much, except that in each one and countless others the Democratic majority in Congress has inserted "prevailing-wage" requirements that amount to a super-minimum wage. (READ MORE)

Of Human Bondage - The biofuels boom has contributed to the recent spike in food prices that threatens the world's poor. In Brazil, home of ethanol made from sugar cane, it's had another unintended consequence: slavery. The use of forced labor to work in sugar cane plantations is "a growing trend," according to the U.S. State Department's latest report on human trafficking. (READ MORE)

The Dhaka Backslide - Call it the Dhaka two-step. For every success in moving the country toward elections in December, the caretaker government takes two steps back. The latest example – the arrests of more than 10,000 people since May 28 – is a worrying setback in a country that needs elections to temper the reach of a radical Islamic fringe. (READ MORE)

Economy is top worry - The economy is far and away the voters' No. 1 concern this year, and what happens to it in the next five months will significantly influence the presidential election. With the economy barely growing at 0.9 percent... (READ MORE)

Senate debates windfall profits tax on oil - WASHINGTON (AP) – With gasoline prices topping $4 a gallon, Senate Democrats want the government to grab some of the billions of dollars in profits being taken in by the major oil companies. (READ MORE)

U.S. contractors must verify staff - Federal contractors now are required to check the citizenship and legal status of their employees by using a free federal service that some business groups and state lawmakers have criticized as unreliable. (READ MORE)

Refugees in Jordan wait out violence - AMMAN, Jordan Sitting and waiting - not by choice, but by the lack of any alternative - describes the life of Iraqi citizens sheltering here from the daily violence in their war-ravaged country. (READ MORE)

FBI security checks called deficient - Security procedures used by the FBI to check immigration and naturalization applicants have "serious deficiencies" that have resulted in large backlogs and raised questions about the reliability of the information, a Justice Department report said Monday. (READ MORE)

Grocery raid reveals donor letter to Currie - ANNAPOLIS The recent FBI raid on the Shoppers Food Warehouse corporate headquarters uncovered a letter from a major campaign donor to Maryland state Sen. Ulysses S. Currie concerning a liquor license for a Shoppers store in College Park, a summary of seized items shows. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
William McGurn: Obama, Religion and the Public Square - Barack Obama is no John Kennedy. And that may turn out to be a good thing. At least with regard to reversing one of the unintended consequences of Camelot: the idea that religious voices have no place on the public square. At first blush, Sen. Obama may appear to be an odd choice to lead such a reversal. Until very recently, he worshipped at a church whose preachers apparently regard America as something to be abhorred – and have a distressing penchant for being filmed while they do so. Earlier in the primaries, Mr. Obama took flak for his own comments describing small-town Pennsylvania as a place populated by those who "cling to" religion because they are "bitter." And Mr. Obama's positions on hot-button issues like abortion – as a member of the Illinois Senate, he voted against legislation protecting a child who was born alive despite an abortion. (READ MORE)

Bret Stephens: The Case Against John Lennon - This month is the 20th anniversary of the founding of Sajudis, one of the most consequential national liberation movements of the 20th century. Here's betting that you've either never heard of it or, if you have, that you've long since forgotten what it was about. Sajudis was the Reform Movement of Lithuania, organized by the Baltic state's leading intellectuals just days after Ronald Reagan met publicly with Soviet religious figures and dissidents in Moscow. In a speech to Russian university students that May, Reagan spoke of the moment "when the accumulated spiritual energies of a long silence yearn to break free." Within weeks, 100,000 Sajudis activists took to the streets to demand greater liberalization. Within months, a quarter-million poured out in protest of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which secretly consigned the Baltic states to Stalinist rule. (READ MORE)

Kimberly Kagan & Frederick W. Kagan: How Prime Minister Maliki Pacified Iraq - America is very close to succeeding in Iraq. The "near-strategic defeat" of al Qaeda in Iraq described by CIA Director Michael Hayden last month in the Washington Post has been followed by the victory of the Iraqi government's security forces over illegal Shiite militias, including Iranian-backed Special Groups. The enemies of Iraq and America now cling desperately to their last bastions, while the political process builds momentum. These tremendous gains remain fragile and could be lost to skillful enemy action, or errors in Baghdad or Washington. But where the U.S. was unequivocally losing in Iraq at the end of 2006, we are just as unequivocally winning today. By February 2008, America and its partners accomplished a series of tasks thought to be impossible. (READ MORE)

Matthew Kaminski: Bush Leaves a Robust Atlantic Alliance, After All - George W. Bush's five-country farewell tour of Europe this week has Pavlov's pundits barking. In Britain's Guardian newspaper, Timothy Garton Ash distills the conventional wisdom that "so much of the [post-9/11] dust-up [with Europe] had to do with Bush himself: his unilateralism, his obsession with Iraq, his cowboy style, his incompetence." Not since Ronald Reagan has America had a less "European" president. Such bad press plays into the election-year narrative of friends lost and alliances tarnished in the Bush era. So how's this for an inconvenient truth: This American president will bequeath his successor an alliance with Europe as robust and healthy as at any time in the post-Cold War period. Pro-American governments are in charge in Paris, a first since 1945, as well as every other major European capital (London, Berlin, Warsaw, Rome) except Madrid. (READ MORE)

Steve H. Hanke & David Ranson: The Fed and the Price of Rice - Rice prices have ratcheted up during the past three years. In the last year alone, they've more than doubled, sparking urban food riots in several countries. Politicians have been quick to blame speculators and hoarders. Their blame is misplaced. The most recent rice price spike is partially the result of countries such as India and Egypt imposing restrictions and bans on exports, plus the desire of other governments including the Philippines, the world's largest rice importer, to bulk up their stockpiles. But the blame for the long-term trend of higher prices should be placed upon those who've delivered a weak U.S. dollar. Not surprisingly, those who reside inside the Beltway, including Donald Kohn, vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, disagree. (READ MORE)

Edward J. Markey: Why Is Bush Helping Saudi Arabia Build Nukes? - Here's a quick geopolitical quiz: What country is three times the size of Texas and has more than 300 days of blazing sun a year? What country has the world's largest oil reserves resting below miles upon miles of sand? And what country is being given nuclear power, not solar, by President George W. Bush, even when the mere assumption of nuclear possession in its region has been known to provoke pre-emptive air strikes, even wars? If you answered Saudi Arabia to all of these questions, you're right. Last month, while the American people were becoming the personal ATMs of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Saudi Arabia signing away an even more valuable gift: nuclear technology. (READ MORE)

Dennis Prager: When I Was a Boy, America Was a Better Place - The day the O.J. Simpson verdict was announced, I said to my then-teenage son, "David, please forgive me. I am handing over to you a worse America than my father handed over to me." Unfortunately, I still feel this way. With the important exception of racial discrimination -- which was already dying a natural death when I was young -- it is difficult to come up with an important area in which America is significantly better than when I was a boy. But I can think of many in which its quality of life has deteriorated. When I was a boy, America was a freer society than it is today. If Americans had been told the extent and number of laws that would govern their speech and behavior within one generation, they would have been certain that they were being told about some dictatorship, not the Land of the Free. (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: Cocky Ignorance - Now that Senator Barack Obama has become the Democrats' nominee for President of the United States, to the cheers of the media at home and abroad, he has written a letter to the Secretary of Defense, in a tone as if he is already President, addressing one of his subordinates. The letter ends: "I look forward to your swift response." With wars going on in both Iraq and Afghanistan, a Secretary of Defense might have some other things to look after, before making a "swift response" to a political candidate. Because of the widely publicized statistic that suicide rates among American troops have gone up, Senator Obama says he wants the Secretary of Defense to tell him, swiftly: (READ MORE)

Amanda Carpenter: Obama's Vetter Gets Vetted - Ever since Barack Obama chose former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson to vet potential vice presidential choices, critics have questioned Johnson’s ties to Countrywide Financial Corporation, a mortgage lender that gave Johnson millions in below-market loans. The Obama campaign issued a vehement statement Monday calling questions about Johnson’s loans “overblown and irrelevant.” Obama’s GOP opposition, however, is showing no tolerance for Johnson’s role in Obama’s campaign and is eagerly tying the scandal to Obama’s disgraced landlord friend, Tony Rezko. While Obama was kicking off a two-week battleground state economy tour in Raleigh, North Carolina on Monday, the Republican National Committee was busy blasting out emails to reporters with “Obama’s Hypocrisy on Housing” in the subject line. (READ MORE)

Cal Thomas: Lessons From the Poor - Listening to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton repeat stories they claim to have been told by the poor and the unemployed, who are unable to pay for food and medicine and feel miserable about it, is enough to make one think we are living in a Third World dictatorship and not the United States of America. But victimhood and a "can't do" spirit is what the Democratic Party has mostly been about since the Great Depression. A more positive narrative comes from a new book, "Lessons from the Poor: Triumph of the Entrepreneurial Spirit," edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa and published by the Independent Institute. The book is an optimistic triumph and a lesson about the unlimited capacity of the human spirit, properly inspired and unencumbered. (READ MORE)

Ed Feulner: At This Restaurant, Taxpayers Are Cooked - Recently, an attendant on my United Airlines flight drew groans when she announced that the price of our in-flight meal had gone up. Her captive audience would have to pay $7 instead of $5 for a box lunch with soft drinks and coffee. Still, those of us in the air were better off than those who have their meals catered by the U.S. Senate restaurant. There, a simple sandwich and chips commands a hefty $11.50. Of course, that includes coffee or tea. Good thing, too, since a gallon of brewed coffee costs $26. And you thought $4 gasoline was expensive! Apparently even those prices aren’t high enough. “In fiscal year 2007, the restaurants lost $1.3 million, and we could easily see losses topping $2 million this year,” the chief clerk of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee warned in a recent e-mail. “The prices for food and other items may need to be increased at least 25 percent.” (READ MORE)

Chuck Norris: Congress, Get Off Your Gas, and Drill - Last Thursday, oil prices increased $5.50 per barrel in one day. Last Friday marked the biggest single-day surge in oil price history, rocketing $11 more to $138 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In just two days, oil costs increased 13 percent. Average Americans literally are driving to the poorhouse on financial fumes. With gas at $4 per gallon, roughly two cars in every household, and the average annual gas usage at 700 gallons, you do the math. Americans are being forced to use their hard-earned money that once put food in their stomachs to put petroleum in their tanks and to drive the exact same distances they drove a decade ago for four to five times the price. As oil and gas prices skyrocket, Congress continues to play the blame game. (READ MORE)

John McCaslin: Yee-Haw! - "It can be tough to lose a hard-fought race - I know, because I've been there." So recalled Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, the leader of the pack in early polls for the 2004 Democratic presidential primary, following Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's endorsement Saturday of the party's presumptive presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama. Lest anybody forget, Mr. Dean was riding high in his campaign for the White House four years ago when, for whatever reason, he delivered his infamous "I Have a Scream" speech. The Internet-based Urban Dictionary suggests his exuberance "was played around 700 times on CNN within the next 24 hours." Closing a chapter - The first page of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's official presidential campaign Web site Sunday simply posted this message: "Support Senator Obama Today. Sign up now and together we can write the next chapter in America's story." (READ MORE)

Confederate Yankee: Impeachment: Just Do It - Former Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has filed articles of impeachment against President George W. Bush. I hope that the Democrat-controlled Congress will not treat this event with the seriousness that it deserves, and instead, high on their own fumes, launches full-blown impeachment proceedings. Let's do this thing. We've been listening the fringe left grow ever more hysterical over the past few years, perpetrating the "Bush lied, people died" hyperbole so long and hard that they now accept their fevered fantasies as fact, even as their own politically-motivated investigations proven otherwise. (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Don’t Worry New York, It’s Just a Cold Sore - The major US cities are heavily populated and an overwhelming number of those people are Democrats. Those cities are crime ridden and they have fiscal problems as Democratically controlled governments institute more and more social programs that keep people in poverty and keep them under the thumb of their task masters in government. These cities are so densely populated that a very small number of them can supply more votes for a Democratic candidate than the rest of the country combined. This is why Al Gore won the popular vote but won fewer than 1000 of the 3000 cities and counties across the country. This is also why the electoral college is very important. A new study shows that 25% of the residents in New York City have genital herpes. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington - The LA Times describes how the heavens expressed themselves as Hillary reached the end of the road. “On Wednesday afternoon, Hillary Rodham Clinton visited her Arlington, Va., campaign headquarters and disclosed that she would finally concede her long primary fight. That same afternoon, a fierce storm system developed over northern Virginia and unleashed a tempest of high winds, driving rain and even a tornado. The heavenly outburst was a fittingly symbolic expression of the anger and frustration that defined the last days of a candidate who once seemed to have a lock on the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.” The scene recalls the foreboding Shakespeare described at Caesar's as the Ides of March approached: (READ MORE)

Madeleine Gruen: Online Social Networks Expand a Sense of Community Among Members and Supporters of Extremist Groups - Hizbollah has a page on Facebook. So does Tanzeem-e-Islami and the Muslim Brotherhood. Hizb ut-Tahrir has at least three pages on Facebook and another four on Orkut—And those are just the official pages. There are many more pages to browse that were assembled as paeans by devotees of these Islamist groups and others. Facebook, Orkut, and other online social networks, are designed to provide a way for people to maintain existing relationships and to make new relationships with others who share common interests in one tidy cyber environment. The social networks promote a sense of belonging that might not be available in the physical world. This is particularly true for members or sympathizers of Islamist groups who live in countries where participation is banned, such as in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, and Jordan. (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Vetting the vetters - Mr. Judgment picks 2 guys to vet his veep candidates who were poorly vetted themselves. Democratic Sen. Barack Obama selected 3 people to screen applicants for his vice president for any embarrassing. He should have screened the screeners. One was Eric Holder, who green-lighted the ridiculous pardon of Marc Rich, an international billionaire fugitive from justice. Another was James Johnson, who is up to his eyeballs in the sub-prime mortgage mess. Oh well, I’m pretty sure Caroline Kennedy is clean. 1 outa 3 ain’t bad. If you are a batter in the National League. (READ MORE)

Flopping Aces: How Pres. Clinton Marketed the Invasion of Iraq - Much has been made for the past six years of President Bush and his administration’s efforts to convince the American people and the world of the necessity to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein. It is an issue that has left few stones unturned, and as such, the time has come for history to examine the role that President Clinton and officials from his administration and the era of his reign had in marketing the idea that Saddam Hussein was a WMD threat. The rhetorical buildup to the invasion of Iraq started with the inclusion of Iraq in the famous Jan 2002 Axis of Evil comment made at the State of the Union address. However, there was almost no more rhetoric from the Bush Administration for the following 9 months-not until his Sept 12, 2002 address to the United Nations where President Bush challenged the UN to peacefully resolve the question of Saddam’s missing WMD after 11years of UN failure to do so. (READ MORE)

Chuck Z: Fiscal responsibility - Has escaped the RNC and the DNC, apparently. Now that the wicked witch of the west wing has formally withdrawn from the race (and no, she won't be VP, either) (if you need to ask why, google "vince foster") that means that the two major parties have exactly one candidate each in the race for POTUS. So, since both parties are SO trying to out-responsible the other when it comes to wisely spending money, why are they both continuing to hold national conventions? Why fly all the delegates in, pay for hotels, meeting halls, parties, wine, dine, and woo $upporter$, why spend the MILLIONS of dollars each party will collectively spend so they can either vote for the party's ONLY candidate or not vote? An election with only one person on the ballot is just stupid. (READ MORE)

The Foxhole: British Government Gave Grant to Jihadist Website - Congratulations, Britain. You’re one step coser to Dhimmihood. “AN Islamic website which backs suicide bombers got a £35,000 Government grant – a month before the anniversary of the 7/7 attacks. Muslimyouth.net carries dozens of rants by fanatics on its ‘support group’ site. One member wrote of suicide missions: ‘If you can blow dozens of people up at the same time, great, absolutely great.’ And in another vile message a member PRAISED a beheading video of British hostage Ken Bigley. It said: ‘I like the beheading videos of the prisoners of war – especially the Daniel Pearl and Ken Bigley one.’ But the Department for Communities and Local Government agreed to fund the group’s film on problems faced by UK Muslims.” (READ MORE)

Jihad Watch: Iran tells Iraq that U.S. troops are "main obstacle on the way to progress" - Or are U.S. troops the main obstacle to Iraq's becoming a full-fledged client state of Iran? Or are U.S. troops in Iraq the main enabler of Iranian meddling in Syria and Lebanon, since they know the Americans will do nothing while they are tied up in Iraq? "Iran tells Iraq: U.S. troops are 'main obstacle on the way to progress,'" by Ashraf Khalil for the Los Angeles Times, June 10 (thanks to Morgaan Sinclair): “BAGHDAD -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki concluded a three-day visit to Iran after meeting Monday with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who warned that the continued presence of U.S. troops was ‘the main obstacle on the way to progress and prosperity in Iraq.’ The session with Khamenei, Iran's top religious and political authority, served to further highlight the delicate position of the Iraqi government -- caught between the U.S. and Iran, each seeking to pull Iraq out of the other's sphere of influence.” (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Canada deports cancer patient to save costs - When people tell you how much more humane government-run health care is, ask them to explain the case of Juana Tejada in Canada. Tejada came to Canada as part of the government’s attempt to attract foreigners to fill roles as live-in caregivers, apparently to help the Canadians to save some money on wages. When Tejada herself became sick with cancer a few years after her arrival, suddenly the Canadians didn’t find her valuable enough to treat (via QandO): “Juana Tejada wants to stay – and die – in Canada. A live-in caregiver from the Philippines, the terminally ill cancer patient will be forced to leave when her work permit expires in two months, even though her period of service here as a nanny was supposed to be the gateway to permanent residency. Tejada has twice been denied a chance to stay, however, because her illness puts a burden on the health-care system...” (READ MORE)

Congressman John Campbell: Senate Food Fight - Since 1993, the Senate side restaurants have lost more than $18 million and it is estimated that the cafeterias have lost as much as $2 million already this year, and without a $250,000 subsidy from taxpayers, the Senate won't make payroll next month. I know this may seem like something of pure fantasy, but I assure you it is true, and yet another example of government mismanagement. Last week in a late night voice vote, the Senate passed a measure agreeing to privatize its restaurants and cafeterias. According to GAO, the Senate Restaurants bring in more than $10 million a year in food sales but have turned a profit in only seven of the last 44 years in operation. (READ MORE)

Allahpundit: Anglicans: British gov’t pays more attention to Islam than to us; British gov’t: Of course we do - Yeah, well, there’s attention and there’s attention. I want the feds “engaging” with both Islamic radicals and Christians, but when it comes to prioritization and, er, thoroughness, there’s no question who comes first. “It is ‘common sense’ for Christianity to be sidelined at the expense of Islam, a Government minister claimed on Sunday… She said it was right that more money and effort was spent on Islam than Christianity because of the threat from extremism and home-grown terrorism. Ms Blears told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme: ‘That’s just common sense. If we’ve got an issue where we have to build resilience of young Muslim men and women to withstand an extremist message…’” (READ MORE)

Michael J. Totten: A Dark Corner of Europe, Part II - Sarajevo can be startling for first-time visitors. Shattered buildings, walls riddled with bullet holes, and mass graveyards are shocking things to see in a European capital in the 21st Century. The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was more violent than the others in the former Yugoslavia, and it shows. If I believed in ghosts I'd say Sarajevo must be one haunted place. At the same time, the reconstruction and cleanup work is impressive. The destruction gave me a jolt, but at the same time I was slightly surprised I didn't see more of it. Bosnia is a troubled country with a dark recent past, but it is no longer the war-torn disaster it was. Sarajevo was under siege for almost four years by Bosnian Serb forces on the surrounding hilltops who fired mortar and artillery shells and sniper rounds at civilians, but it’s over and it has been over for more than a decade. (READ MORE)

neo-neocon: Remaking this great nation: “L’ changement , c’est moi!” - In closing his victory speech last Tuesday Obama intimated that his victory will mark the beginning of the time when we “came together to remake this great nation.” I wasn’t aware that greatness needed such extensive renovation. Fine-tuning, yes. But a makeover? Obama’s statement is no accident, however; he certainly knows what words mean. And it is underlined by the fact that in the previous sentence he said something very similar: his ascendance will be the time when America “restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.” Remake. Restore. Images. Isn’t Obama’s statement an oxymoron of sorts, as Mark Steyn points out? If we’re so great, why is the extreme makeover team being hauled in for the job? (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: The buzz about Barack’s birth certificate - Jim Geraghty takes a look at longstanding blog buzz over Barack Obama’s birth certificate, which the campaign refused to release to the St. Petersburg Times in April: “We tried to obtain a copy of Obama’s birth certificate, but his campaign would not release it and the state of Hawaii does not make such records public.” Has anyone seen it? Why shouldn’t the record be in the public domain for presidential candidates? Geraghty walks through various rumors now circulating in the wake of the Obama campaign’s birth certificate blackout, including this one: “Rumor Three: His mother did not want to name him after his father, and his birth certificate says “Barry.” Perhaps the most plausible of the rumors, as Obama was known by that name through much of his childhood and young adulthood. If true, this would spur a new round of ‘When Barry Became Barack’ stories – a minor headache for the campaign, but hardly a major scandal.” (READ MORE)

Pros and Cons: On protecting Germans from poles and Czechs - An earlier post got me thinking about the false beacons of isolationism. Isolationists, like Marxists, occasionally ask useful questions, but they are absolutely off on foreign policy. That is because they ignore the morality of state behavior (always a relative thing, but very clearly there) and the balance of power. For example, Pat Buchanan’s piece, cited in the earlier post, is almost a caricature of isolationism tinged with some Feinian antagonism towards British Allies. Furthermore, it gets its history wrong. Poland was an ally of Hungary and Germany against Czechoslovakia as each state tried to make good its territorial claims against the worlds most modern army in a thin sliver of a state with a reinforcement corridor through Rumania in the distant east. (READ MORE)

The Shield of Achilles: Al-Qaida right in our backyard - Several news outlets have recently commented about this website: "The Ignored Puzzle Pieces of Knowledge". It's a jihadist site that cheers on the enemies of the United States and the destruction of US forces abroad. It also calls for global Shariah (Islamic law). What's worse is that it is based not in the Middle East, but right here in our own backyard. The author is a 22 year-old man named Samir Khan who lives in Charlotte, NC with his parents. His family emigrated from Saudi Arabia when he was seven years old. In other words, he is another one of these parasites who enjoys the very freedoms of the very country he is condemning. If Sharia law is so wonderful, one wonders why he doesn't move back to Saudi Arabia to enjoy it? (I would even help him pack) Khan is able to get away with this because his site is careful not to outright call for violence against US soldiers, in order to barely stay within the limits of our nation's laws. (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Energy & Food and the Coming One Term Presidency - Whether or not Barack Obama can learn on the job may be crucial and the portents are uncertain. Unfortunately, there is very little in Obama's record or his speeches to convey how, or if, he thinks strategically. Much of his approach has been traditional mushy quasi-pacifistic liberalism with little indication of any real growth since he entered politics as an uber-conventional democrat. Further, the radicals he has surrounded himself with in the past do not encourage hope that he has a particularly nuanced view of the world. Do Obama or McCain connect our current oil and food prices, international affairs, and our reluctance to drill in any meaningful way? The next president is going to come into office facing an increasingly chaotic and dangerous international environment. Inflation, that most destabilizing of economic crises, is already placing untenable strains on various developing countries. (READ MORE)

Stop the ACLU: Miami Herald: 2nd Amendment is ‘Mythical Right’ - The Miami (FL) Herald let lose with another propagandistic broadside against the 2nd Amendment on Thursday featuring some more moaning and false statements about how horrible it is for America that the misnamed “assault weapons ban” has lapsed. There is much wringing of hands, waterworks, histrionics and over dramatics by the aptly named Fred Grimm here. In “What’s a few dead cops to the gun lobby?” Grimm’s final pronouncement is that the 2nd Amendment is a “mythical right” but in between there are many misstatements and out right lies. Grimm starts out putting on some faux “shock” that a modern “semiautomatic assault rifle” he had the occasion to handle was so light. “The shock was in the weight of the thing. Less than six pounds,” Grimm writes. And, what exactly does this mean? A butcher knife weighs less then a pound and can kill, too. What does weight have to do with anything? Then the scare tactics: (READ MORE)

Eugene Volokh: What Next for Don't Ask, Don't Tell? - Recall that last month, the Ninth Circuit parted from several other federal courts, and held that Don't Ask, Don't Tell might be unconstitutional. It then concluded that the case should be remanded to the district court, "to develop the [factual] record" as to whether Don't Ask, Don't Tell "significantly furthers the government's interest [in 'unit cohesion' and the like] and whether less intrusive means would achieve substantially the government's interest." It wasn't clear, though, that -- even if the Ninth Circuit refused to rehear the case en banc -- either the government or the challengers would ask the Supreme Court to hear the case (the government asking for Don't Ask, Don't Tell to be upheld even without further district court hearings, and the challengers asking that it be invalidated even without further district court hearings). (READ MORE)

Winds of Change: The Raid Sounded Like a Freight Train - I fairly regularly listen to National Public Radio’s news programs on my way to and from work. I really don’t know why I do it. It is either some sort of strange impulse of masochism or else it’s simply because other morning talk shows on regular formats drive me nuts. Possibly it is because NPR employs some very talented writers and I have a real weakness for a well turned phrase, especially in the spoken word. Whether the cause is boredom or a dangerous curiosity, the pleasure I recieve from listening is somewhat akin to plunging my head in a pot of boiling water. Halfway to work I’m screaming invectives at the radio and must change the station to something more soothing – like the local heavy metal station – in order to calm down. The problem with NPR is that for all their talent with well cut words, they aren’t actually the news agency that they might at first blush seem to be. Nor are they in my opinion actually old media, though their biases totter in the same direction. (READ MORE)

Meryl Yourish: Democratically-elected govt. of PA bombards Israel - The democratically-elected government of the Palestinians fired 18 mortars and four kassam rockets at Israel today, in an attempt to prove that war means peace. That’s right, they’ve threatened that if Israel doesn’t make peace, Hamas will make war on them. (As opposed to making war on them whether or not Israel agrees to the truce, but that’s beside the point because the Arabs always live in extra-special Arab Bizarro World, where “truce” means “war” and “war” means “war.” And, in fact, breathing means war, living means war, looking sideways at a terrorist means war, well, you get the idea.) “Eighteen mortar shells were fired from Gaza toward the Nahal Oz area noon Tuesday, as the ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ - consisting of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni - was expected to reach a decision on whether or not to launch a military operation against Palestinian terror groups in the coastal enclave.” (READ MORE)

Jim Spiri: WHERE TO GO FROM HERE - By Jim Spiri It’s June now, 2008. I’ve been back stateside for over half a year now. During that time I was able to visit several states, gave a few talks, saw the kids and grandkids, and tried to settle into the day to day routine of what happens next. I’m pondering the situation that all of us are facing these days and I find myself quite startled at what is going on all around me. Let’s take a look at what I mean. The war in Iraq continues. Each day I watch closely and follow from afar what I can as best I can. It gnaws at me that I am not there at the moment. Lately, I have kept informed on Afghanistan as well. A friend or two whom I was able to patrol with in Iraq have found themselves in Afghanistan doing more of the same with less. Day to day in these two places keep me a little ahead of the curve ball stateside with all the other recent economic realities that tear at each of us like an open wound. (READ MORE)

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