June 17, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 06/17/2008

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)
Report Questions Pentagon Accounts - A Senate investigation has concluded that top Pentagon officials began assembling lists of harsh interrogation techniques in the summer of 2002 for use on detainees at Guantanamo Bay and that those officials later cited memos from field commanders to suggest that the proposals originated far down... (READ MORE)

Taliban Seizes Seven Afghan Villages - ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 16 -- Hundreds of Taliban fighters took control of seven villages in southern Afghanistan on Monday in what appeared to be a major offensive near the country's second-largest city, according to Afghan officials. (READ MORE)

McCain Seeks to End Offshore Drilling Ban - Sen. John McCain called yesterday for an end to the federal ban on offshore oil drilling, offering an aggressive response to high gasoline prices and immediately drawing the ire of environmental groups that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has courted for months. (READ MORE)

White House May Keep Documents in E-Mail Flap Private, Judge Rules - The White House does not have to make public internal documents examining the potential disappearance of e-mails sent during some of the Bush administration's biggest controversies, a U.S. district judge ruled yesterday. (READ MORE)

Ex-Civil Rights Official's Testimony Under Review - A grand jury is examining possible discrepancies in testimony last year by former Justice Department civil rights division chief Bradley J. Schlozman, people familiar with the investigation said yesterday. (READ MORE)

Iran to Face New E.U. Sanctions, Brown Says - LONDON, June 16 -- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced plans Monday for new European sanctions against Iranian banking, oil and natural gas interests, signaling a growing willingness by Western allies to join President Bush in punishing Tehran for its nuclear enrichment program. (READ MORE)

The Torture Gambit - Nearly seven years after 9/11, the U.S. homeland hasn't been struck again and American civil liberties remain intact. So how does Congress say "thank you"? By trying to ruin the men who in good faith set the legal rules that have kept us safe. (READ MORE)

Albany Attacks New York - Attacking Wall Street is almost a national pastime. But who would have guessed that one of the most anti-investor responses to the housing downturn would be enacted in New York State? Within days, Governor David Paterson is expected to sign a bill destined to wreak further havoc on the value of the mortgage-backed securities held by New York financial houses. This is like the French attacking pinot noir. (READ MORE)

Old China News Agency -- II - It's been more than a year since we wrote about Xinhua's efforts to muscle in on foreign news companies' business in China. Now the U.S. and European Union have taken the dispute to the World Trade Organization, which we trust will provide a reality check. (READ MORE)

Britain joins Bush in pressuring Iran - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown gave a ringing endorsement of President Bush's pro-democracy agenda in the Middle East, and said he will increase British troop levels in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

EU tries to rescue treaty after veto by Irish voters - DUBLIN EU foreign ministers faced mounting confusion at a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday in an attempt to salvage a political union of the 27-nation bloc after a veto by Irish voters. (READ MORE)

Nuclear dangers rise with oil costs - The rush of countries seeking to obtain nuclear power as the price of oil soars is going to make U.S. efforts to contain nuclear proliferation and keep terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction even harder, the Energy Department's top intelligence chief warned Monday. (READ MORE)

Democrats ride Obama's surge - Down-ticket Democratic candidates usually limited to stumping for votes along parade routes and shaking hands with 40 people at pancake breakfasts will get a nice boost this year, thanks to the man at the top of the ticket. (READ MORE)

VA testing drugs on war veterans - The government is testing drugs with severe side effects like psychosis and suicidal behavior on hundreds of military veterans, using small cash payments to attract patients into medical experiments that often target distressed soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, a Washington Times/ABC News investigation has found. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Wesley Pruden: Not dead yet, and cooling - We were all supposed to be dead now, done in by AIDS, the gift of the gays. After that it was SARS, bequeathed to the world by China. Then it was avian flu, which, to be fair to the alarmists, did in fact result in the deaths of millions. The millions were all chickens, true, but chickens have feelings, too. You could ask the folks at PETA. One by one these terrors subsided, done in by reality, which is never as much fun as telling ghost stories around the campfire. (Let's not forget the killer bees.) The hysterics in newsrooms and faculty lounges stumbled on, and finally found something truly hot, hot as in hip, and this one came with a messiah to lead us to heaven on earth. Now those hallelujahs and hosannas are beginning to subside as well. Reality is stripping even Al Gore of his priestly robes (in earth tones). (READ MORE)

John Yoo: The Supreme Court Goes to War - Last week's Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush has been painted as a stinging rebuke of the administration's antiterrorism policies. From the celebrations on most U.S. editorial pages, one might think that the court had stopped a dictator from trampling civil liberties. Boumediene did anything but. The 5-4 ruling is judicial imperialism of the highest order. Boumediene should finally put to rest the popular myth that right-wing conservatives dominate the Supreme Court. Academics used to complain about the Rehnquist Court's "activism" for striking down minor federal laws on issues such as whether states are immune from damage lawsuits, or if Congress could ban handguns in school. Justice Anthony Kennedy -- joined by the liberal bloc of Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer -- saves his claims of judicial supremacy for the truly momentous: striking down a wartime statute... (READ MORE)

Wang Qishan: No More Chinese Knock-Offs - Prior to this week's economic talks with the U.S., the Chinese government unveiled the Outline of National Intellectual Property Rights -- a new strategy to tackle the many issues surrounding IPR. This new strategy will improve IPR protection in China and attract greater intellectual resources from abroad. Moreover, the implementation of this strategy -- a milestone in the institution of China's IPR regime -- will boost innovation at home and turn China's abundant human resources into intellectual resources, with a positive and far-reaching impact on economic and social development in China. China entered its new historical stage of reform and opening-up in 1978. It wasn't until then that China began to introduce the concept of intellectual property rights and put in place an IPR regime. Since then, China has promulgated and enforced a host of IPR laws and regulations... (READ MORE)

Michael Judge: After the Flood - Iowa City, Iowa - Watching the waters of the Iowa and Cedar Rivers rise and subsume whatever they please -- homes, churches, businesses, museums and libraries filled with cultural treasures -- it's easy to see why floods play such a central role in mythology. The water gives and takes life. From Gilgamesh to Noah, in Roman and Greek mythology, in nearly every culture and religion known to man, the flood comes -- and with the destruction comes renewal, rebirth, a chance at a better life. As Gov. Chet Culver told reporters on Saturday, "[W]e will rebuild Iowa, and we will be stronger at the end of the day." Our young governor then added: "Iowans are at their best when their backs are against the wall." Against the wall they are. (READ MORE)

Norman Stone: Irish Miracle - The Irish find themselves for the first time ever being showered with compliments from the English. This writer -- a Scot -- does not really approve of Ireland's independence. They are us, bless them, and their independence has been a bore, a little bit like East Timor's. Friends, family, writers -- all belong to an Ireland that's greater than the sum of its parts. Now that greatness has been manifested. The Irish have done a miracle and wrecked the latest project of the European Union, in a referendum where general cussedness has been expressed. The proposed changes to the way Europe works amount to a constitution, but the powers-that-be tried to smuggle it through as a treaty. The British were supposed to have a referendum as well but since everyone knows that Europe is just not a popular cause, the government weaseled out of one. The French and Dutch did hold referendums three years back and the formal constitution was turned down. (READ MORE)

Kyle Wingfield: Let 'Europe' Vote - After the Irish voted down the Lisbon Treaty last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy had this to say: "A lot of Europeans do not understand how we are shaping Europe right now and building Europe, and we have to take account of that. . . . We have to change our way of building Europe." "Building"? Mr. Sarkozy, whose country takes over the EU's rotating presidency next month, would have sounded more credible had he called for a new way of bullying Europe. For that's what seems to be happening. In the wake of the Irish rejection, other nations on the fence about Lisbon -- the U.K., the Czech Republic, perhaps Sweden -- are being pushed to proceed with ratification. Ireland has been threatened with near-expulsion from the Union unless Dublin finds a way to sneak the treaty past its voters. If Monsieur le Président and other EU leaders were sincere about building a new Europe, they'd face the people. (READ MORE)

George Will: The Most Fearsome Power - WASHINGTON -- The day after the Supreme Court ruled that detainees imprisoned at Guantanamo are entitled to seek habeas corpus hearings, John McCain called it "one of the worst decisions in the history of this country." Well. Does it rank with Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), which concocted a constitutional right, unmentioned in the document, to own slaves and held that black people have no rights that white people are bound to respect? With Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which affirmed the constitutionality of legally enforced racial segregation? With Korematsu v. United States (1944), which affirmed the wartime right to sweep American citizens of Japanese ancestry into concentration camps? Did McCain's extravagant condemnation of the court's habeas ruling result from his reading the 126 pages of opinions and dissents? More likely, some clever ignoramus convinced him that this decision could make the Supreme Court [...] a campaign issue. (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: Is Prestige Worth It? - The obsession of many high school students and their parents about getting into a prestige college or university is part of the social scene of our time. So is the experience of parents going deep into hock to finance sending a son or daughter off to Ivy U. or the flagship campus of the state university system. Sometimes both the student and the parent end up with big debts from financing a degree from some prestige institution. Yet these are the kinds of institutions that many have their hearts set on. Media hype adds to the pressure to go where the prestige is. A key role is often played by the various annual rankings of colleges and universities, especially the rankings by U.S. News & World Report. These rankings typically measure all sorts of inputs-- but not outputs. (READ MORE)

Patrick J. Buchanan: Return of the Censors - Freedom of the press is on trial in Canada. The trial is before a court with the Orwellian title of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. The accused are Maclean's magazine and author Mark Steyn. The crime: In mocking and biting tones, they wrote that Islam threatens Western values. Had Steyn written that, given the Crusades, colonial atrocities in Africa and the slave trade, Christianity had been on balance a curse, he would not be in the dock. In the United States, these charges would have been tossed out by any federal judge, who would have admonished the plaintiffs that, here in America, we have a First Amendment. The United States, however, is an isolated exception, as Western nations seek to impose wider restrictions on what has come to be called "hate speech." Questioning the Holocaust is a crime in Canada and Europe, as British historian David Irving discovered when he was sentenced to prison in Austria. (READ MORE)

Ken Blackwell: America Will Regret High Court's Decision - The Supreme Court’s 5-4 opinion in Boumediene v. Bush will go down as one of the most egregiously-wrong decisions in history. Breaking 200 years of settled precedent, the Court has rewritten the Constitution’s allocation of national security powers. In essence, the narrow majority attacked the actions of a Commander-in-Chief in time of war. It attacked the law as rewritten by Congress in response to a prior decision of this very Court. And. it attacked the Court by aggressively ignoring its own prior decisions. The "logic" of this case sets up a bare majority of the Justices as supreme over the President, the Congress, and even other decisions of the Court itself. The four dissenters were Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito. Roberts and Scalia wrote dissents, with all four justices signing both. (READ MORE)

Dennis Prager: When Young People Get Excited - We regularly hear about Barack Obama's appeal to youth, about how he has been able to excite and mobilize a generation of young people to become politically involved, his rare ability to excite young people, and about how many new voters will register (and vote Democrat) as a result. All this seems to be true. The question, however, is whether it is a good thing for the country and not just for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. The answer is that it probably is not. With a few exceptions -- and those exceptions are usually those rare cases when young people confront dictatorships -- when youth get involved in politics in large numbers, it is not a good thing. Of course, there are those who believe that the mass movement of America's young people in the late 1960s and early 1970s was a great thing for America -- a bright shining example of young people mobilized against an unjust war and on behalf of a world filled with love. (READ MORE)

Chuck Norris: America, Are You Still Sitting on Your Gas? - In my column last week ("Congress, Get Off Your Gas, and Drill!"), I called upon Americans to sign Newt Gingrich's petition, "Drill here. Drill now. Pay less." The goal is to mandate that Congress do something immediately to bring down gas prices. As a result, several hundred thousand people signed the petition. That's a fantastic start, but we need more -- lots more. And we can use your help. Are the rest of the 300 million Americans actually enjoying doling out $50 to $100-plus for each fill-up? It's time to wake up the Americans who are snoozing in our petroleum nightmare. If we are going to drive down gas prices, we've got to get this country as mad as hell to do it. I got so riled up this past week that I went on "Fox & Friends" to send out a battle cry to all Americans, and I just recorded a new YouTube bit for Newt, titled "Chuck Norris Drills Congress." I think you'll like it. (READ MORE)

Cal Thomas: The Next Attack: Coming Soon - When the terrorists attack again - as Homeland Security has repeatedly warned us they will - how many survivors will be consoled because the Supreme Court and the State Department looked out for the "rights" of terrorists before the rights of their dead loved ones? Will the dead be wrapped in a copy of the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling granting foreign detainees, whose mission is to destroy our Constitution, our country and way of life, the right to appeal to U.S. civilian courts to challenge their detention, a right that should be reserved only for American citizens? Perhaps inside the caskets can go a statement by the State Department refusing to close Islamic schools underwritten by the government of Saudi Arabia, which teach visceral hatred of Jews, Christians and all things Western. To the second issue first. Despite the recommendation from a federal panel that the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, Va., be closed for promoting hate... (READ MORE)

Ed Feulner: Wages: It Pays to Look At the Big Picture - Charles Dickens captured the spirit of an era in a single sentence: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” For American workers, that sentiment still seems to apply. On the one hand, there’s a lot to be grateful for. “Today, the typical job involves less mindless repetition or physical exertion and more mental activity than in the past,” notes economist James Sherk of The Heritage Foundation in an upcoming paper. He adds it also requires a greater level of education and is safer and more comfortable than it was a generation ago. Still, a case could be made for the second half of Dickens’ sentence -- that we’re in the “worst of times.” According to RealClearPolitics.com, polls show that almost 80 percent of Americans think the country is on the “wrong track.” And a recent USA Today poll found more than half of all Americans think “their standard of living is no better today than five years ago.” (READ MORE)

William Rusher: Here Comes Same-Sex Marriage - On Monday, June 16, San Francisco began implementing the ruling of the California Supreme Court authorizing same-sex marriages in the state. Meanwhile a state constitutional amendment negating the ruling is heading for the ballot in November and seems likely to pass. What one thinks about these developments depends, primarily on one's concept of the nature and function of a marriage. There is no reason to believe that partisans on either side of the issue are insincere, or even unjustifiably biased. To supporters of same-sex marriage, a "marriage" is a social and legal arrangement whereby two people affirm their love for each other and undertake commitments that include (normally) certain obligations: sexual fidelity and the duty to care for one's partner in crises, including health problems, financial distress and the like. There is no obvious reason why two people of the same sex may not enter into such reciprocal relations, and many do. (READ MORE)

Rich Lowry: Al-Qaida's Vietnam - Lately, the Iraq War has looked more and more like another Vietnam -- not for us, but for al-Qaida. CIA Director Michael Hayden says the terror group has suffered "near-strategic defeat" in Iraq. It has been routed from Anbar, Diyala and Baghdad provinces, and now is getting a beating in its last stronghold of Mosul, in the north. It is reviled by the Iraqi populace, and its downward trajectory began with indigenous uprisings at its expense. When the United States lost Vietnam, it lost credibility and saw an emboldened Marxist-Leninist offensive around the Third World. Al-Qaida is a global insurgency and not a nation-state -- and thus its circumstances are radically different from ours 40 years ago -- but it has suffered a similar reputational loss. The Iraq War had been a powerful recruiting tool for al-Qaida when it was winning. No more. (READ MORE)

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.: Foe, Not Friend - The United States is in mortal peril from a false friend: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The peril emanates from the totalitarian legal-religious-military-political code the Saudis call Shariah and their assiduous efforts to impose it worldwide. The danger is enormously exacerbated by the almost-complete failure of American officials at every level of government to acknowledge, let alone act to prevent, the Saudis’ true agenda. Three examples are instructive: A recent expose by New York Times reporter Philip Shenon of congressional and independent investigations of the murderous September 11, 2001 attacks describes evidence of financial, logistical and other material support by Saudi government personnel to the perpetrators of those acts of terrorism. In The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, Shenon suggests that the Bush White House, the FBI and, not least, Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar went to considerable lengths to suppress such evidence. (READ MORE)

Phyllis Schlafly: Judicial Supremacy Strikes in Oklahoma - The elected representatives in Oklahoma passed a law to stem the tide of illegal immigrants and, faster than you can say "judicial supremacy," a federal judge blocked its enforcement. The court suspended key sections of the law even before it was due to take effect on July 1. The Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act was designed to prevent illegal immigrants from taking jobs from Americans and from evading taxes by working in the underground economy. The Oklahoma law passed the State Legislature by overwhelming, bipartisan, veto-proof majorities (88-9 in the House, 41-1 in the Senate) and was signed by Democratic Gov. Brad Henry. Public opinion polls reported that the law enjoys 88 percent public approval, and it was recognized as a model for other states to copy. The law required employers who have contracts with the state of Oklahoma to use the Oklahoma Status Verification System to verify the legal status of their employees. (READ MORE)

Joe Hill: Iraq at a Crossroads - It’s hard to believe good news from Iraq. For five years, the drumbeat of insurgency, terrorism, and civil war was relentless, while successes were few and far between. Even when there was good news, it was reported by an Administration that had little credibility. People felt manipulated by the way the war was sold, and the Administration did little to win back trust after the war began. Until the Republican losses in the 2006 election, the Administration delivered only rosy pronouncements, as if seeing only success in Iraq would make it so. But since the mission was not accomplished and the insurgency was not in its last throes, skepticism was not only appropriate but necessary. Facts are stubborn things. When the Administration tried to sell Iraq as a success story in 2006, reality made a mockery of these claims. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and facts are the best antidote to political spin. But the truth does not serve any one political side, either. (READ MORE)

Phyllis Chesler: Help! The Visitor - Has everyone seen Thomas McCarthy’s universally praised film The Visitor? Or at least read the reviews about it? Having no idea what the film was about, I slipped in yesterday expecting to see a “romantic comic drama” which is how the snapshot review described it. What I saw instead was a poignant, touching film about illegal immigration in post 9/11 America which, I now understand, has been embraced by almost every film critic. Now, guess where the illegal immigrants are from. Which country or countries with terrifyingly surreal human rights records and almost permanent civil wars do our sympathetic heroes hail from? Congo or Sudan perhaps–or is it Rwanda or Somalia? How about Algeria, the former Yugoslavia, Guatemala, Chile, even Mexico since Mexican immigration is such a hot-button issue for us? (READ MORE)

Blonde Sagacity: How the "strawman" argument goes unnoticed - The news of Tim Russert's passing has dominated the television for the past day. Many conservatives have praised Russert and conducted themselves with more class than the left ever did at the death of a non-leftist. I noted from watching Russert's old interview with Charlie Rose last night the real difference between Russert and someone like Keith Olbermann. Russert was not a one-trick pony. He could speak about a variety of topics with conviction and thoroughness. Olbermann seems to have nothing to talk about except for his hatred of the Republicans. Even when Oblermann hosts the NBC Sunday football program, the viewer expects that he is about to drop the football talk and explode into a "Bush is Hitler" rant. Regardless of ideology, there is more to Russert than Olbmermann or Chris Matthews or many others. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: You don't know me - Rezko and Odinga are important persons in their own right, but it is their connection to Barack Obama that has the press interested. First, Kenyan PM Raila Odinga is not going to meet with Obama when he visits the US. "Mr Odinga has said he is a cousin of Mr Obama’s, although the senator’s representatives deny that the two men are related. The Kenyan-American presidential candidate may wish to avoid meeting with the PM due to concerns that such contact would be used to stoke rumours intended to wound Senator Obama politically. ... Right-wing extremists have been circulating baseless claims on the Internet that Senator Obama is closely allied with Prime Minister Odinga, who is described by the Obama-haters as both an Islamist and a socialist.". Over in Chicago, Tony Rezko says prosecutors pressured him to talk about Barack Obama. The prosecutors deny it. (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: The Stability Fallacy - The peace process. Negotiations between Hamas and Israel. Conflict avoidance. All are undertaken in the name of seeking stability in the Middle East. Since when is stability a good thing in a region where all too many regimes seek to do the US (or Israel) harm? Since when is stability a good thing in a region where those decisions to stabilize matters means that terrorist groups end up having a veto over the democratic government in Lebanon? Since when is stability a good thing when a terrorist group gets to set up shop on the border with Israel and continues a war of attrition? Stability is now the name of the game since President Bush has only months left in his term as President. So, that's why we get Secretary of State Condi Rice peddling stability as an end unto itself. She now says that power-sharing in Lebanon between Hizbullah and the other political factions is necessary. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: Concerning the U.S.-Iraq Security Arrangement - As the negotiating continues over a replacement agreement for the U.N. mandate (in which Iraq and the U.S. are “partners” in Iraq security), there are reports that Iraq is refusing to grant the U.S. immunity from Iraqi laws, rejecting the right of U.S. forces to operate free and independently (and without Iraqi approval), and refusing to grant use of Iraqi skies and waterways at all times. Iraq knows that it needs U.S. troops, and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has said that negotiations are not dead from their perspective, even though PM Maliki has said that there is an impasse. Making sense of the situation takes on the characteristics of the presuppositions taken to the analysis. Or better stated, our paradigm dictates the outcome of our thought game. Nibras Kazimi, who is a very smart Iraq analyst and doesn’t mind telling us so, has said little about this subject, partly because he has a huge blind spot. (READ MORE)

Noah Shachtman: Iraq Ain't No Insurgency, Says Former Petraeus Aides - Iraq cooled from a raging boil to a slow simmer, thanks mostly to tactics taken from the military's counterinsurgency manual. Or, at least, that's the accepted wisdom. But a group of military thinkers and Iraq veterans says the established narrative is all wrong. According to them, Iraq may not even be an insurgency at all. In the classic insurgency scenario, you've got a group of guerrillas on one side, and an otherwise-legitimate "host government" on the other. It's the job of a military like America's to tip the balance towards stability and order, by keeping the insurgents from overthrowing that government. But in Iraq, "the bulk" of what used to be the insurgents have "now realign[ed] themselves with the American forces" against "the nihilistic-Islamist terrorist Al Qaeda in Iraq..." (READ MORE)

Sharon Weinberger: Pentagon Kicks Off Social Science Consortium - The Pentagon today officially kicked off "Minerva," the department's plan to involve academics and social scientists in research related to the global war on terror. A new Broad Agency Announcement details the types of proposals that will be funded under Minerva, and how (and who) will judge the research proposals. There are a few things that jumped out at me about the project, which has been criticized by a group of anthropologists who are worried about the impact of military funding on academics. First, the money involved is more than what some may have expected. "Total amount of funding for five years available for grants resulting from this MRI BAA {Minerva Research Initiative Broad Agency Announcement] is estimated to be about $50M, subject to availability of out-year appropriations," the BAA reads. "It is anticipated that the awards will range from $0.5M to $3M per year, with typical awards in the range of $1M to $1.5M per year." (READ MORE)

Flopping Aces: Liberals Changing Their Views On Iraq? - Well, at least one is. I have to say, I’m floored….literally floored that an editor of The New Republic has the courage to admit something most of the readers of FA already knew. Bush DID NOT lie us into war. He begins the piece with an earlier example of the flip-flop by Mitt Romney’s father. He had supported the Vietnam war prior to his campaign for President. Once that began he claimed to have brainwashed: “‘When I came back from Vietnam, I had just had the greatest brainwashing that anybody can get,’ Romney told a Detroit TV reporter who asked the candidate how he reconciled his shifting views. Romney (father of Mitt) had visited Vietnam with nine other governors, all of whom denied that they had been duped by their government. With this one remark, his presidential hopes were dashed.” Sound familiar? (READ MORE)

Democracy Project: Obama Interferes In US-Iraq Agreement - In direct interference in US foreign policy and the execution of the war in Iraq, Barack Obama today told the Iraqi foreign minister, according to the New York Times’ Caucus blog report, “While the Bush administration would like to see an agreement reached before the summer’s political conventions, Mr. Obama said today that he opposed such a timetable. ‘My concern is that the Bush administration, in a weakened state politically, ends up trying to rush an agreement that in some ways might be binding to the next administration, whether it’s my administration or Senator McCain’s administration,’ Mr. Obama said.” According to Obama, “The foreign minister agreed that the next administration should not be bound by an agreement that’s currently made.” (READ MORE)

Don Surber: It’s the oil, stupid - Republican Sen. John McCain discovers that we indeed can drill our way out of $4 a gallon gasoline. Michelle Malkin is giving him heck over this, but McCain’s conversion to offshore drilling is welcome news. “We must embark on a national mission to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gases through the development of alternate energy sources,” McCain told reporters, according to the New York Times. As for the AP version, guess what? My newspaper has been a member for nearly 100 years, so I’ll quote the whole thing. AP does not own the news. (READ MORE)

Neo-neocon: Hey whitey, don’t be insulted - It seems clear that the Michelle Obama “whitey” tape is merely an urban rumor and does not exist, except in the fevered minds and wishful thinking of some who oppose Obama. But even if it were found to be based in fact it turns out there’s no harm, no foul. Who says so? The staff of the Chicago Tribune, that’s who. You see, “whitey” can’t be a racial slur, nor can it offend, because whites are not an oppressed group. And anyone who thinks otherwise is just dumb, and therefore deserves to be insulted. I’m not making this stuff up. This is the sort of thinking that passes for reason on the part of some members of the MSM. And while it’s undoubtedly true that “whitey” has a very different history than other racial slurs such as the n-word, since it refers to a majority group in power rather than a minority with a history of being oppressed, it’s still a racial slur. (READ MORE)

Allahpundit: (Video) Left tries again on the McCain “c*nt” rumor - Here’s the thanks you get for being skeptical about the Michelle Obama “whitey” nonsense. Same M.O. as the last attempt to start this fire, when some HuffPo bottom feeder floated it during one of Maverick’s town halls. The “substantive” pretense is that the incident speaks to McCain’s kuh-razy Manchurian-candidate temper (or temperament, per the YouTube description) but in truth it’s an excuse to luxuriate in repeated droppings of the C-bomb. They got their money’s worth, I’ll give ‘em that. As such, please observe this, your official content warning. HuffPo, at least, has moved on to other regions of the bottom to feed on. Exit question: When does Beckel start circulating this one on Fox? You know, to “atone”? (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Young Gaffer alert: Habeas rights at Nuremberg? - One might expect a Constitutional law expert to understand the historical record of the Nuremberg trials, especially if using them as an example in his speeches. Unfortunately, Barack Obama showed his lack of preparation yet again in Pennsylvania as he praised the Boumediene decision by the Supreme Court last week. Obama claimed that it represented a return to American values as represented by the Nuremberg trials — which actually didn’t allow habeas corpus through American civil courts at all: “Obama, a former senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, cited ‘that principle of habeas corpus, that a state can’t just hold you for any reason without charging you and without giving you any kind of due process — that’s the essence of who we are.’” It’s not as if the military tribunals offered by Congress and the Bush administration fell below Nuremberg standards, either. They allowed for even more rights for the defendants than Nuremberg, or would have if the Supreme Court hadn’t twice stopped them before determining whether they worked. In fact, the tribunals as conceived in the last iteration closely match what American soldiers receive for their own trials under the UCMJ. (READ MORE)

MountainRunner: Filling in the gaps of ITP’s article on Smith-Mundt and the Defense Department - Two weeks ago, I spoke to a reporter from Inside the Pentagon, a subscription only news service. We had a long conversation on the phone as I explained to her the salient (and not so salient) points of the Smith-Mundt Act. The purpose of her investigation was talk about legislating (or creating a rule for) an exception from Smith-Mundt for the Defense Department. The second article (there is a third due soon) for which I was interviewed is below the fold. However, let me throw out some comments now. Feel free to jump and read the article and come back. First, let’s start with the facts that have been seemingly lost to history. Fact: the Defense Department is not covered by Smith-Mundt. Fact: Smith-Mundt was not a law to prevent propaganda, but rather Public Law 402 institutionalized information activities (propaganda) as well as creating the capability to counter adversarial propaganda. (READ MORE)

Pirate's Cove: Huffington Post Attacks McCain On Military Record - I Guess The Dem Idea Of Hating Swiftboating Is Out The Window. In Liberal World, of course, Swiftboating means lying about a someone in politics, and now they are attempting to swiftboat McCain McCain’s Secret, Questionable Record “‘At a meeting in his Pentagon office in early 1981, Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman told Capt. John S. McCain III that he was about to attain his life ambition: becoming an admiral…. Mr. McCain declined the prospect of his first admiral’s star to make a run for Congress, saying that he could “do more good there,” Mr. Lehman recalled.’ So claimed the New York Times in a front-page article on May 29 this year. This story is highly improbable for several reasons, not least of all because John McCain himself has always told a very different story about his stalled naval career.” Jeffrey Klein goes on to tell us why he thinks McCain’s record is BS, and that he was a subpar Navy employee, and even suggests collusion with the North Vietnamese so that he was not treated as harshly as other POW’s. (READ MORE)

McQ: Old Time Politics: About those health care savings ... - Perhaps, somehow, amid the flurry of promises the presidential candidates have been throwing out there like confetti at a World Series parade, you remember this one: “Obama says his health care plan will garner large savings – $120 billion a year, or $2,500 per family – with more than half coming from the use of electronic health records. And he says he’ll make that happen in his first term.” So, says Obama, if we do it his way, each family out there will save $2,500 because of it. And most of that, per Obama, is tied into the use of electronic health records. That alone, per his campaign, will save $77 billion a year. Well, FactCheck.org begs to differ. About those electronic records and that $77 billion savings and the promise to have it all done in his first term - not quite: (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Five Minutes to Midnight? - In January of 2007, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that they had moved the "Doomsday Clock" forward from 7 minutes to midnight to 5 minutes to midnight. “IT IS 5 MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT - 2007: The world stands at the brink of a second nuclear age. The United States and Russia remain ready to stage a nuclear attack within minutes, North Korea conducts a nuclear test, and many in the international community worry that Iran plans to acquire the Bomb. Climate change also presents a dire challenge to humanity. Damage to ecosystems is already taking place; flooding, destructive storms, increased drought, and polar ice melt are causing loss of life and property.” Over the weekend, in a story that has found surprisingly little resonance in the media or the blogosphere (not even listed at memeorandum) the New York Times reported that the A Q Khan network had in its possession, computer files detailing how to construct a more sophisticated and compact nuclear bomb than had been hitherto expected: (READ MORE)

Loren Heal: Obama's False Hope - Yes, it's a struggle to raise a family, pay the bills, do right by our neighbors, and keep the bottom line of net worth going up. But I do not think that our struggles are anything like those of our forebears who tamed a continent, fought world wars, and passed it all on to us. Barack Obama, more than most politicians, is making his name on the scurrilous notion that only the government can provide for us. Rather than providing hope, he is actually crushing the hopes of those who follow him. He offers a block of government cheese, when a seven-course meal is waiting for those who will but learn to shop, cook, and set their own tables. The fact is that while a "sluggish" economy may be a more difficult environment in which to succeed, there are always places that are booming in the midst of the bust. There are always people who need services, and things which need to be made. So even in a tough economy, the will to succeed and the right plan can overcome the obstacles. (READ MORE)

Melanie Phillips Blog: Sack the people! - I am attending a conference in Berlin where senior EU panjandrums are reeling around clutching their heads over the ‘disaster’ of the Irish vote against the Lisbon constitutional treaty. Of course, they take it for granted that everyone will agree that the Irish vote was a disaster. This is a given here. If you say brightly that actually you think it was the best thing that’s happened for a very long time, you are looked at with total incomprehension, disbelief and distaste rather as if you had just got up and announced that paedophilia should be made compulsory. One very senior Eurocrat sighed this evening that the Irish hadn’t really studied the constitution and so the vote couldn’t really be taken as a rejection of the constitution at all. Ah yes, of course – the people deliver the wrong result, so the people must be stupid or ignorant or both. Sack the people! After all, a stupid thing like democracy mustn't be allowed to get in the way of the behemoth of Brussels. (READ MORE)

Andi: Weekend Homework Assignment: Has War Changed You? - Last night, I was listening to Thursday's SBTR show with America's Favorite Mom, Patti Patton-Bader, and something Semper Fi Wife said caught my attention. She said, "I don't even know that I know who I was five years ago anymore. I'm not that person now." Semper Fi Wife and Patti were talking about how war, and serving those who serve, has a tendency to change one's outlook. For so many people, war has changed everything. Everything. Before September 11, 2001, being an Army wife (for me) was not unlike being an electrician's wife, or a car salesman's wife or any of the other hundreds of possibilities. I didn't eat, sleep and breathe the military lifestyle, as I do now. (READ MORE)

Mark Steyn: OCEANS ELECTION - The short version of the Democratic Party primary campaign is that the media fell in love with Barack Obama but the Democratic electorate declined to. "I felt this thrill going up my leg," said MSNBC's Chris Matthews after one of the senator's speeches. "I mean, I don't have that too often." Au contraire, Chris and the rest of the gang seem to be getting the old tingle up the thigh hairs on a nightly basis. If Obama is political Viagra, the media are at that stage in the ad where the announcer warns that, if leg tingles persist for more than six months, see your doctor. Out there in the voting booths, however, Democrat legs stayed admirably unthrilled. The more the media told Hillary she was toast, and she should get the hell out of it and let Obama romp to victory, the more Democrats insisted on voting for her. The more the media insisted Barack was inevitable, the less inclined the voters were to get with the program. (READ MORE)

Ron Winter: Obama Offers Tax Break - to Congress ; Sticks it to Nation's Most Productive Workers - Under the guise of helping out the poor downtrodden American working class that earns "only" up to $102,000 per year, and hammering the "rich" who make more than $250,000 per year, Barack Obama has suggested an income tax package that ultimately could benefit - his buddies in Congress! If he isn't elected president and his opponent, John McCain, nonetheless says "Hey, what a great idea!" and carries through with it, Barack himself could benefit. Isn't this a great country? And the media ate it right up, spit it back out at us and never made the point that Congress could benefit from the Obama Tax! (READ MORE)

DJ Drummond: Obama's Delusion Continues - Some time back, I promised that a Republican would win the White House in 2008. Good job I didn't promise a Conservative, but then again, the closest thing the GOP has put up to copy Reagan was George W. Bush. No, I am not saying W is a pure Reaganite, but look at our nominees and major candidates since Ronnie left office, and you will see what I mean. It's not as if the RNC has been looking hard for The Next Gipper. As a result, there has not really been an opportunity since 1984 for Americans to say whether they want another Reagan. Given that fact, winning three of the last five gives an indication of just poor the Democrats' selections have been. And that tradition of snatching defeat from the jaws of opportunity is one which Barack Obama seems determined to continue. This morning, CNN posted an article wherein Senator Obama boasted that he does not need either Ohio or Florida to win... (READ MORE)

Nibras Kazimi: Pro-Obama Iraqi-American Ex-Convict Supports Increased Attacks on U.S. Troops - There’s so much vileness here that I really don’t know what to mop up first. Ayham Alsammarae, Iraq’s slimy ex-Minister of Electricity under the Bremer and Allawi administrations, who had escaped from an Iraqi prison by hiring an American security company to break him out back in December 2006, has resurfaced in the Jordanian capital Amman where he gave a press conference today saying, among other things, that he hoped that the insurgency in Iraq “would continue [against U.S. occupation] and avenges the Iraqi people.” Alsammarae, an Iraqi-American Chicagoan, added during remarks carried by Radio Sawa (Arabic link) that he had contributed the maximum allowable of $2,300 to Barack Obama’s campaign. But there’s another Obama link to Alsammarae: while serving as electricity minister Alsammarae had been involved in brokering deals in the Iraqi electricity sector for Antoin Rezko, Obama’s long-term friend and patron. (READ MORE)

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