August 11, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 08/11/2008

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)
Kremlin Capers - Grim news continued to flow from Georgia yesterday. The Georgians said Russia had bombed the civilian airport in Tbilisi, while Russian warships off the coast began an economic embargo. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin left the Beijing Olympics and flew to Russian North Ossetia, where he revealingly criticized "Georgia's aspiration to join NATO." (READ MORE)

Cigarette Tax Burnout - Politicians in Annapolis are scratching their heads wondering what happened to all those chain smokers who were supposed to help balance Maryland's budget. Last year the legislature doubled the cigarette tax to $2 a pack to pay for expanded health-care coverage. Eight months later, cigarette sales have plunged 25% and the state is in fiscal distress again. (READ MORE)

Byrd's Bad Idea Is Back - When Members of Congress believe they have a good idea in the national interest, they debate it in the open and demand a vote. When they know they have a bad idea for a chosen few, they work in secret. So it is with the subterranean efforts to revive the "Byrd Amendment," a nasty trade law that offers U.S. companies a double reward for seeking tariff help from Washington. (READ MORE)

Bush visits Beijing church, urges freedom - BEIJING President Bush continued his Olympics juggling act on Sunday, settling for a pointed remark in public to push for wider religious freedom in China and raising further political concerns privately with Chinese President Hu Jintao. (READ MORE)

Centrist voters are tilting from Obama - Sen. Barack Obama is doing what Republicans once thought only a presidential candidacy by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton could do - uniting the right and center. (READ MORE)

House GOP raps energy impasse - House Republicans say they will continue to interrupt their summer break this week to hold daily protests at the Capitol in their ongoing push to expand domestic oil drilling, insisting the "American people are with us." (READ MORE)

Russia intensifies attack on Georgia - Russian planes, troops and artillery units pounded the Georgian city of Gori in a "massive" attack, Georgian officials said Monday as the three-day war over an ethnic enclave in Georgia appeared to escalate. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Mary Anastasia O'Grady: Chávez Sees Cuba as a Model - It is no secret that Hugo Chávez wants to be just like Fidel Castro someday. And last week he took a step closer to that goal by laying down 26 new decrees designed to eviscerate property rights and further consolidate economic power in the presidential palace. He also nationalized the third-largest bank in the country. Yet it is not only in the economic realm that Hugo is mimicking his Cuban idol. What has been less publicized is the Venezuelan president's expanding collection of political prisoners, and his other sinister methods of neutralizing opponents. The economic measures of the Bolivarian Revolution are worrying enough on their own. The government has proclaimed food production and distribution a public good, which means that the state can intervene in any way it wants. Indeed, it already has; and many believe that Mr. Chávez now has the Venezuela food processor and beverage maker Polar targeted for nationalization. (READ MORE)

Mikheil Saakashvili: The War in Georgia Is a War for the West - As I write, Russia is waging war on my country. On Friday, hundreds of Russian tanks crossed into Georgian territory, and Russian air force jets bombed Georgian airports, bases, ports and public markets. Many are dead, many more wounded. This invasion, which echoes Afghanistan in 1979 and the Prague Spring of 1968, threatens to undermine the stability of the international security system. Why this war? This is the question my people are asking. This war is not of Georgia's making, nor is it Georgia's choice. The Kremlin designed this war. Earlier this year, Russia tried to provoke Georgia by effectively annexing another of our separatist territories, Abkhazia. When we responded with restraint, Moscow brought the fight to South Ossetia. Ostensibly, this war is about an unresolved separatist conflict. Yet in reality, it is a war about the independence and the future of Georgia. (READ MORE)

Najam Sethi: It's Curtains for Musharraf - After months of prevarication, the Pakistani government, led by Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, has finally decided to impeach President Pervez Musharraf. Although a fighting man, Mr. Musharraf is expected to quit within the week. He doesn't have enough parliamentary backing to thwart the move, and the army and America, his main sources of support, have abandoned him in the face of popular pressure. The government has been mulling this move for months. Mr. Zardari, of the People's Party of Pakistan (PPP), and Mr. Sharif, of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), both hate the president for political and personal reasons. Mr. Musharraf ousted Mr. Sharif from power in 1999, exiled him to Saudi Arabia, and only allowed him to return last year to contest the February elections because of Saudi pressure. Mr. Zardari was imprisoned for six years, then permitted to leave the country to join his wife Benazir Bhutto in exile in Dubai. (READ MORE)

Newt Gingrich: Prizes to Improve Life - Historically the greatest improvements in the quality of life have come from two long patterns -- the extension of the rule of law and the development and diffusion of technology. First, there has been a gradual extension of the rule of law, which protects the weak from the predatory and ensures private property rights, which encourages the accumulation of wealth and the expenditure of effort. In places like Darfur, Myanmar and Zimbabwe, the extension of the rule of law would do more to improve human lives than any other approach. In authoritarian states like Russia, the reassertion of the rule of law would improve the process of wealth creation and increase the security and prosperity of the middle class. Unfortunately, the extension of the rule of law is a complex and difficult process and $10 billion would have little effect on it. Therefore it would be better to focus on the development and diffusion of technology. (READ MORE)

Jerry Brown: Saving $10 Billion With Efficiency - The cost of energy in the United States, on an annual basis, has now soared beyond $1 trillion. Our massive purchases of foreign oil represent perhaps the greatest transfer of wealth from one people to another in all human history. And, paradoxically, this wealth transfer is from a far more technologically advanced nation to poorer countries -- some unstable and hostile -- whose only claim is the oil that lies under their ground. Wake up America! We must stop the hemorrhaging of our national treasure, and we need to do it now. I propose that we take the $10 billion and invest it in curbing our energy appetite through efficiency programs and incentives. The efficiency I envision would allow us to enhance our quality of life, but do so in ways that reduce the huge quantities of oil, gas and coal that we now consume. California has kept its per capita electrical consumption flat for the past 25 years: (READ MORE)

Tom Tancredo: President of What World? - Senator Obama went to Berlin and told a crowd of 200,000 Europeans that he was speaking to them not as a candidate for President of the United States, but as “a fellow citizen of the world.” He then proceeded to insult the memories of any German over age 30 and the intelligence of every American who remembers what the Berlin Wall was all about. In Berlin, Obama credited the “people of the world” for bringing down the Berlin Wall. That will be surprising news to the people of Mexico, Switzerland and dozens of other nations who not only sat out World War II as "neutrals" but never gave one penny to support the 1949 Berlin Airlift or NATO. Contrary to Obama’s rosy Code Pink revisionism, the “people of the world” were bit players in the 40 year struggle against Soviet occupation of East Berlin and Eastern Europe. But Obama's misunderstanding of the Cold War is not the root of his effusive one-world utopianism. (READ MORE)

Burt Prelutsky: A Few Words of Wisdom - For my latest book, “The Secret of Their Success,” I interviewed 78 notable people, including the likes of Gerald Ford, Billy Wilder, Ginger Rogers, Steve Allen, Art Linkletter and the recently departed George Carlin and Jo Stafford. One of the many questions I asked them was the best piece of advice they had ever received. In most cases, the gist of their responses was that people should never cease pursuing their passion, whatever it might be. Even I can’t quibble with that. I do believe that far too many people surrender their dreams far too soon. I mean, unless you believe in reincarnation, this one life here on earth is all we have. Why be so anxious to settle for less than you really want? I have never been invited to give a commencement speech at a college graduation, and that is probably just as well, seeing as how the order of the day seems to be to praise the youngsters to the heavens, to insist that they’re the shining hope of the future. (READ MORE)

Mike S. Adams: Unholy Toledo - Mike, below is the statement that Larry Burns referred to earlier. Please let me know if you need anything else. Thanks, Matt - “The University of Toledo is a value-driven institution. UT’s values are clearly stated in our strategic plan and elsewhere. One of our primary values is inclusiveness. This means UT’s doors are open to every student, employee, patient and the community. “The University welcomes respectful dissent and input from others on all issues with the understanding that free speech and debate make our institution stronger. However, people holding certain jobs within a public institution have special responsibilities concerning the utterances they are allowed to convey. “The requirements of the job previously held by Crystal Dixon required her to lead a critical function regarding personnel actions for the University..." (READ MORE)

Mark Hillman: What Would Obama Fight For? - Unless you've been imbibing 100-proof hope-and-change, you could hardly listen to President — er, make that, Candidate — Obama's Berlin speech without questioning whether there is anything that he is truly willing to fight for. Not merely fighting metaphorically or deploying persuasive prose, but actually committing American lives to defend a principle that must not be compromised. When Obama's campaign appropriated Brandenburg Gate as the backdrop for his "citizen of the world" speech, his handlers certainly expected the venue to frame him in a distinctly presidential stature. Instead, the staging created an unmistakable contrast between courageous presidents who faced down genuine threats from dangerous enemies and the empty, self-aggrandizing platitudes of Obama, who seems to take for granted his election and now awaits transfiguration. (READ MORE)

Congressman Thomas Price: Madam Speaker, Where Are You? - This morning, Republicans will return to the dimmed floor of the House of Representatives to continue to fight on behalf of American families hurting from high gas prices. It has now been ten days since House Democrats turned off the lights and breezed out of Washington for a paid vacation without any meaningful action to bring down energy costs. For months, the American people have demanded more energy production, yet this Democrat majority found the pleas of their constituents just a petty annoyance. But as Speaker Pelosi - off on her self-promoting book tour - has found, when House Republicans rose to speak in a darkened chamber, the American people stood with us. What began as a spontaneous protest to the Speaker's heavy-handed parliamentary tactics to silence Republican House members and the American people has evolved into a national movement. (READ MORE)

Star Parker: Black Politics? You mean liberal politics - A feature story in this week's New York Times Magazine asks, "Is Obama the End of Black Politics?" This in the wake of a full week of TV talking heads asking if presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama played the "race card" in his response to John McCain's Obama "celebrity" ads. And an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal by black journalist Juan Williams saying "The Race Issue Isn't Going Away." Williams is right. The race issue isn't going away. And the New York Times feature, which profiles new young black politicians around the nation -- like Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, Newark, N.J., mayor Corey Booker, and Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter -- sheds little light on the issue in what it says. More revealing about the Times piece is what it doesn't say. The Times reporter never found it relevant to note that every black politician he spoke to is a Democrat. (READ MORE)

Janice Shaw Crouse: The Nanny State and the Common Good Meet at the Home Depot - Several years ago, British politician Margaret Hodge gave a speech in the United States in which she described the “nanny state” as a “force for good.” I’m reminded of her terminology each time I hear a leftist politician or so-called evangelical progressive recommend policy “for the common good.” You just know that they aren’t referring to Aristotle’s ethical understanding of the concept or to the tradition of Catholic Social Teaching. Instead, they are usurping a term that is based on the Golden Rule and central to moral theology for the benefit of progressive social and political values. Indeed, one of the highest recommendations for progressives is to describe a political or social policy as contributing to the “common good.” The prevailing tenets of the left are based on the idea that society can be perfected into a framework that is effective for everyone’s “good..." (READ MORE)

Donald Douglas: Democrats On Edge as Obamania Cools - The Democratic National Committee has announced that Michelle Obama will give the opening-night address to the party's Denver convention in two weeks. The buzz also has it that Chelsea Clinton will introduce her mother, Hillary, when the New York Senator giver her address on the convention's second night (Chelsea will speak instead of her father, Bill, a switch approved by Barack Obama himself, perhaps as a matter more of relief than retribution). While the national party conventions have been criticized in recent years as anti-climactic, the closeness and controversies surrounding election '08 have placed a premium on campaign choreography and candidate image. With the Democrats first to hold a nominating convention, and with Obama's novelty wearing thin, the totality of the events in Denver - both inside and outside the convention hall - could dramatically impact the Democrats' presidential prospects after Labor Day. (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: War Continues in South Ossetia and Georgia - The Russians continue their bombardment of Georgian cities and towns, and they're complaining that the US is airlifting Georgian troops who were previously stationed in Iraq as part of Georgia's commitment there. Georgia had sent 2,000 peacekeepers to Iraq to help with the US efforts in Iraq. Now, they're needed back home as Russia continues its assault on Georgia. Georgian civilians are paying the price as they are the ones who are suffering for Russia's militarism. For those who were wondering what the US could possibly do to help the Georgians, that's about it. As it is, this clearly puts the US in Georgia's corner, and anything more could trigger a direct confrontation between the US and Russia, which neither side wants. (READ MORE)

Atlas Shrugs: ANTI-OBAMA BLOG SHUT DOWN: RELEASE THE COLB! - Texas Darlin who, along with myself, has been doing seminal work on exposing the forgery of Obama's certificate of live birth has been suspended. Her blog is down. Silenced. I don't know what happened. Texas Darlin pursued the faked COLB after I broke the story here. She was one of the few courageous blogs brave enough to publish the bombshell revelations of Obama's obfuscation and strange skulduggery. We took a ton of blogblowback. But why kill the messenger? The COLB is a forgery. Why shut her up? Why shut her down? WTF? RELEASE THE COLB ALREADY! Texas Darlin is one of the few blogs doing the hard work in reporting the news the media refuses to touch. I will keep you posted. Here last post (that I saw earlier today): Quick Note to a Few Obsessed Bloggers (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Berkeley Works For The Military - It is well known that University of California at Berkeley is a bastion of liberal idiocy and that the people of that town and who attend that college, by and large, are anti American and have supported our enemies in this and in past wars. The people of Berkeley are so anti American that they have allowed anti war groups to protest a Marine recruiting station. Berkeley also has trouble with recruiters on the campus and the legislative body has passed resolutions calling the Marine recruiters uninvited and unwanted. The Berkeley campus is full of liberal twits who oppose our military and its use. They want other Americans to stop supporting the troops and they want the country to stop spending money in Iraq. So why is it that this anti American, anti military college accepts money from the military to do research? (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: What Next? - Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Sunday afternoon. The exchange is reported by the AP as: “‘The vice president expressed the United States’ solidarity with the Georgian people and their democratically elected government in the face of this threat to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,’ Cheney’s press secretary, Lee Ann McBride, said. Cheney told Saakashvili ‘Russian aggression must not go unanswered, and that its continuation would have serious consequences for its relations with the United States, as well as the broader international community,’ McBride said.” The key terms here are “Russian aggression” and “must not go unanswered”. (READ MORE)

Confederate Yankee: HuffPo: War in Georgia Engineered To Help McCain - Sadly, he appears to be serious: “In classic ‘Wag The Dog’ scenario there is a neat little war brewing between American and Russian proxies, and real Russian troops, in the Caucacus Mountains on the Russian border. It couldn't come at a better time for the Republicans. McCain gets to act and talk tough against the Russians, while Obama is on vacation in Hawaii, issuing ‘can't we all get along statements.’ It perfectly augments Republican campaign points: Obama is not ready. He is not tough, experienced enough to deal with a dangerous world.” Do you appreciate the power and planning that went into this? I don't think you do. Not only did McCain engineer the the build-up of Russian forces along the border of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, he also orchestrated the Georgian offer of a ceasefire last week, the South Ossetia separatist's response of shelling Georgia, and the Georgian counterstrike that triggered the pre-planned Russian invasion— all carefully timed to coincide with Barack Obama's vacation. (READ MORE)

Douglas Farah: A Look At the Resignation of Mazen Asbahi and the Muslim Brotherhood - In the week since the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report (free registration required) revealed the ties of Mazen Asbahi to Muslim Brotherhood legacy groups and his immediate resignation as an adviser to the Obama campaign, it has been fascinating to watch the Brotherhood response, particularly those of CAIR and the Muslim Student Association. This is relevant because of the MB's historical ties to radical Islamist terrorism and the ties of members of legacy groups in the United States to multiple terrorist cases, investigations, etc. The line of inquiry would have been just as valid had Mr. Asbahi surfaced in the McCain camp, or any major political campaign. (READ MORE)

Dadmanly: Prepackaged Slander - The Editors at the NY Times have long proved themselves overwhelmingly biased and nakedly partisan, throughout 8 years of relentless attacks against any move the Bush Administration has taken to fight terrorism or our terrorist enemies. They make no pretense of logic, consistency, or even sanity, as long as all slurs and insults point Bush-ward. They have no need of facts, let alone opposing viewpoints, especially not those heretical ones that refute the received wisdom of the Times. They assume venality in every case, cause, and controversy, and have championed the alternate universe inhabited by most of the Left, whereby their political opponents are evil, every intention is ulterior and sinister, and every partisan (on the other side) is less than human. The NY Times doesn’t just drink the Kool-Aid, they concoct huge batches of it for public consumption. (READ MORE)

The Discerning Texan: The Wages of Appeasement - It just keeps getting worse: (Georgia capital) Tiblisi Airport under heavy attack, and now the Russians are attacking Abkhazia. Is Putin moving on the entire sovereign nation (and US Ally)? Meanwhile the appeaseniks at the UN and in Europe continue to sit on their hands and look at each other helplessly, even as Germany and France now see where their decision to block bringing Georgia into NATO has led. We've been through this before. Then--as now--the voices of appeasement hold the day. Will our European neighbors ever learn from their previous errors? COB6 over at Blackfive echoes my own deep concerns about Putin's intentions with Georgia--and what inaction now might portend for the very near future: (READ MORE)

Richard Landes: The Nouvel Obs Petition Signers: Study #1 - Jon Randal - In my initial responses to the Nouvel Obs petition supporting Enderlin, I noted that in the future, PhD theses on the dysfunctions of the media in the late 20th early 21st century will begin by exploring the identity and journalistic record of those who signed. Ivan Rioufol already identified a number of signers as having behaved like Enderlin, guilty of the same journalistic offenses. And John Rosenthal identified a number of people who had not business signing so partisan a petition. I’d like to begin a series here on some of the signers and I welcome anyone who wants to prepare a dossier. Jon Randal. Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, in her devastating discussion of the petition signers, has this to say about Jon Randal of the Washington Post: (READ MORE)

Don Surber: NYT math - 3% of a reserve is not the same as 25% of use. Numbers are fun. Whenever someone uses percentages, be skeptical. Be very skeptical. The New York Times provided a good case in point. In an editorial today, it dismissed drilling for new oil altogether: “A nation that uses one-quarter of the world’s oil while possessing less than 3 percent of its reserves cannot drill its way to happiness at the pump, much less self-sufficiency. The only plausible strategy is to cut consumption while embarking on a serious program of alternative fuels and energy sources. This is a point the honest candidate should be making at every turn.” The 3% and 25% figures have nothing to do with it. In fact, if the nation used 100% of the oil in the world, oil prices would fall precipitously. Why? Because instead of using 86 million barrels a day, the world would use only 20 million; the Times 25% figure was off a little. (READ MORE)

GayPatriotWest: My Nephew Takes on Paul Krugman - ...and wins. When I returned to my Dad’s after a day with my one of my younger brothers, his son and daughters, my blogging nephew (the second son of my older brother) was frantically typing away on his grandpa’s (the PatriotFatherWest) laptop. He told me he was taking issue with Paul Krugman’s latest column. As my nephew blogged, I picked up the New York Times from the kitchen table and read the column. To take issue with this fact-free attempt to label Republicans would be akin to shooting fish in a barrel. But, to do so with well-directed sarcasm is quite a gift. And that’s how my nephew did it, observing: “As for the basis of your entire column that the Republican party has become the ‘party of stupid,’ it is just sophomoric and pointless. Your column didn’t express any new information or perspective, it just reiterated old liberal talking points that you have recycled and reused in each of your past columns.” (READ MORE)

Gribbit: While the Dem-Cong Vacations - Oil Bubble Bursts? How Can That Be? - As Congressional Democrats take their much deserved late summer recess, oil prices begin a decline; the question is - why? Oil speculation wasn’t the Dems first villain, it was big oil and profits. BUT according to recent reports, a stronger dollar is being given partial credit for the rebound. Hmmm - the free-market at work. It seems that dollar dominated commodities such as oil and gold (which has also seen a recent rise in price) are used as hedges against a falling dollar. Go figure. H/T Drudge THE biggest problem we have is our dependency on foreign countries that are not entirely friendly toward the United States for our energy supplies. We need complete independence from foreign oil. And how do we do that? Short-term is by tapping into domestic supplies and that means drilling. Long term solutions involve that yet undiscovered source of energy that would replace oil. (READ MORE)

Yankeemom: Stunning - I’m sitting here at my desk, looking out the window at our pond, all peaceful and blue as it catches the morning sun. I just received a wonderful email from one of the units that my chapter of Rolling Thunder held a donation drive for. The NCO also sent photos with the email. The landscapes couldn’t be more different. Our situations couldn’t be more different. All safe and sound, I sit at my computer reading about wars happening far, far away from our little bit of paradise here in Northern Virginia. The NCO sits at her desk looking out at barren ground ringed by huge mountains, writing a thank you email to me, a stranger, (a civilian who has no comprehension of her world) for shampoo, toothpaste, lotions, goodies and other various items sent to make it just a bit easier for her unit so far from home. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Number 301: George Clooney - Guess who’s one of Barack Obama’s foreign-policy advisers? According to the Daily Mail, it’s that other celebrity hunk, George Clooney. According to their sources, Clooney advises Obama on a regular basis through phone calls and text messages, and not just on looking his best in front of the cameras: “But Democratic Party insiders have revealed that Clooney and Obama regularly send texts and emails to each other and speak by phone at least twice a week. One said last night: ‘They are extremely close. A number of members of the Hollywood community, including Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, offered to help raise funds for Barack but it was with George that he struck up this amazing affinity. ‘George has been giving him advice on things such as presentation, public speaking and body language and he also emails him constantly about policy, especially the Middle East.’” (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: Taking on the Left’s speech-chillers - The ACLU is outraged about the new move to intimidate political donors by targeting them with “warning” letters. Not. Just testing to see if you’re paying attention. No, it’s Judicial Watch that’s on the case of the Accountable America speech-chilling campaign. Glad someone’s holding them accountable: “Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it is launching an investigation into a nationwide effort by a liberal activist group to intimidate supporters of Republican and conservative causes. According the August 8 edition of The New York Times, Accountable America, a liberal group, plans to send a letter “to confront donors to conservative groups, hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions…The warning letter is intended as a first step, alerting donors who might be considering giving to right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.” (READ MORE)

Neptunus Lex: The return of history - Russia has a very great weight of history. It is a story of encirclement and betrayal, hardship and endurance which comes down to Russian souls from deep antiquity and whose character did much more to shape the Soviet Union than did the communist philosophy which ostensibly underpinned that enterprise. For those of us in the West who have either never truly studied history or else forgotten its relevance to modern times, it was tempting at first to write-off as something from another century the Russian reaction to Georgia’s ill-conceived adventure in its northern marches: The government attempted military force to reclaim de facto sovereignty to go along with its de jure primacy over the break-away provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Perhaps the Georgians thought that the successful advancement of democratic government and institutions had endeared them to the West. (READ MORE)

Michael W: Is Accountable America Blatantly Violating The Law? - While these sorts of cases are rarely 100% clear, given the group's admissions in the NYT, it sure looks to me like the liberal group is in direct and knowing violation of 18 U.S. Code § 241: “If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; ... They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both;” What is Accountable America doing that violates the act? They are specifically targeting donors to Republican candidates with a systematic campaign of intimidation and thinly veiled threats (emphasis added): “Nearly 10,000 of the biggest donors to Republican candidates and causes across the country will probably receive a foreboding ‘warning’ letter in the mail next week. The letter is an opening shot across the bow from an unusual new outside political group on the left that is poised to engage in hardball tactics to prevent similar groups on the right from getting off the ground this fall.” (READ MORE)

McQ: The Bear resurgent - The Russian invasion of Georgia is more than just a military action, it is a statement to the world that Russia is back and seeking to regain its superpower status. In a carefully chosen military action, it is essentially thumbing its nose at the West and especially NATO. I say carefully chosen because unlike the Ukraine, for instance, there is very little if anything we can do of any immediacy to help Georgia right now. Mounting any sort of military operation would be extremely difficult without the ability to support them from, say Turkey or Armenia if we're talking about ground and airforces. Getting the permission to do that is very unlikely. That leaves the sea and the same sorts of difficulties. Again, permission to pushing a fleet through narrows of the Dardanelles is not likely. It would also be of limited military value. And then we'd face a Russian Black Sea fleet. (READ MORE)

Stop the ACLU: Obama’s Dual Citizenship Disaster - Since the story broke late Saturday that Barack Obama’s real Birth Certificate, now in Republican hands, has the name Barry Soetoro and not Barack Obama, as we predicted a couple of weeks ago, I notice that many people are still confused about the implications of dual citizenship for Obama. The matter is somewhat complex, so I’ve decided to try to provide a summary, with the help of resident expert “Judah Benjamin.” Indonesian Connection - Soetoro is the name on Obama’s Birth Certificate (BC) because a new BC was issued when he was adopted by Lolo Soetoro, his step-father. His original BC, which we assume was issued for Barack Hussein Obama at birth, would have been sealed at the time of the adoption. Barry Soetoro probably acquired Indonesian citizenship in approximately 1965-1966, and may still hold it. (READ MORE)

Susan Katz Keating: Georgian President: "Wake Up, Everybody" - Developments in South Ossetia continue to confound. The Georgian President, Mikhail Saakishvili, has signed a cease fire agreement brokered by the European Union; but Moscow not only rejected the document, but also pressed its advance through Georgia proper. Russian troops now reportedly have reached the far western sections of Georgia. Beleagured President Saakashvili pointedly is asking the West: "Wake up, everybody." He says Russia wants nothing less than total regime change in Georgia. For its part, Russia continues to reach into its mold-festooned KGB propaganda bag of tricks, and has resurrected its clumsy yet oddly productive favorite: The Outright Lie. The latest from "Truth" claims that the United States orchestrated Georgian aggression against Russia, and that Russia is merely defending itself. (READ MORE)

Ron Winter: McCain Was Right About Putin; And Russia Is Just Warming Up! - When President Bush met Vladimir Putin for the first time in 2001, Bush said, "I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue. "I was able to get a sense of his soul." Obviously when he looked into the window on Putin's soul the shades were pulled down and Bush saw only what Putin wanted him to see. John McCain on the other hand, said he looked into Putin's eyes and saw the letters KGB, the Russian secret police and terror organization Putin had headed until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990. Now Russia, under Putin, has invaded the sovereign land of Georgia, one of those former Soviet republics that went independent as fast as it could in the 90s. Georgia became a US ally, and has been petitioning to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: Putting The "Rank" in "Rank And File" - There are plenty of folks who still strongly support unions. There are those who say they still serve a valued purpose in today's world, that they still offer much to workers, employers, and society as a whole. On the other hand, there are unions like the Service Employees International Union, which seems hell-bent on proving all the anti-union folks 100% right. The SEIU represents over two million workers in the United States and Canada, mainly in the health care, public services (government workers), and property services (janitors and the like). Well, the SEIU is under investigation for some rather interesting financial shenanigans. It seems that they haven't been looking out for its own people as well as it should -- they manage the pension funds for both its members and its employees. The members' pension fund is only about 75% funded, while SEIU employees' pensions are only about 91% funded. (READ MORE)

Soccerdad: “Punishing” al Jazeera - Dion Nissenbaum’s in high dudgeon because Israel is “punishing” Al Jazeera. How’s that? “The Israeli government stopped helping Al Jazeera after the station aired a birthday celebration for Samir Kuntar, the Lebanese killer freed last month in a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah. Danny Seaman, the head of Israel’s government press office, called the celebration ‘unfathomable’ and said he would stop helping the station by providing press cards and work visas for its reporters.” Nissenbaum admits that Al Jazeera “apologized” for the celebration, but he doesn’t seem quite clear what Al Jazeera is. At the end of his post Nissenbaum quotes Danny Seaman with the definitive reason for Israel’s refusal to continue enabling Al Jazeera. (READ MORE)

The Sniper: South Ossetia, Russia, Georgia, And Putin's Dangerous Chess Game - I generally try to keep things light here and inject humor into everything (like Texas' executions... get it? "Inject" humor?) I write, but this post is different. This post is just analysis of a crappy situation that' getting worse by the moment. If you care to skip the humor and read something serious for a change, read on. If not, skip down to my Olympic post. When this whole mess started up in South Ossetia I started getting some phone calls from friends that knew that I had spent a good chunk of time in both Georgia and Russia and that I had worked with soldiers of various types from both sides. The phone calls turned into e-mails and the e-mails turned into some very well-informed and knowledgeable analysis of the situation there. The following are excerpts from those e-mails posted here for the purpose of trying to shed some light on the current situation there for those that aren’t as “in the loop” ... (READ MORE)

Dr. iRack: The British Aren't Coming, the British Aren't Coming - When Prime Minister Maliki launched his Basra offensive (principally targeting JAM and Iranian-backed special groups) in late March, the Iraqi Army (IA) suffered a string of initial setbacks and desertions. To stave off defeat, Multi-national Corps-Iraq rushed forward a surge of combat advisors (including advisors embedded and deployed with more capable Iraqi units from Anbar), aviation and ISR assets, U.S. special operations forces, and other "critical enablers." All told, perhaps 1,000 U.S. forces were sent down to stiffen Iraqi resolve and strengthen the capabilities of the IA. The result was profound. Not too long ago, Dr. iRack toured Basra with the IA and saw a city that was formerly under the grip of militias and criminal gangs, but is now largely in the control of the Iraqi government. (READ MORE)

Information Dissemination: Russia's OPSEC Problem - LiveJournal - Russia has realized OPSEC has gone out the window with LiveJournal, and there may be a purge coming. A lot of rumors in Russia are discussing the possibility that SUP Fabrik is under pressure to delete several LiveJournal diaries. If you are a LiveJournal user, you may want to get a back up in case the purge goes wild. Is it a legitimate problem? It is unclear, the Russian LiveJournal community appears to be very popular among soldiers, and for some reason, there appears to be plenty of bandwidth for updating diaries during the military conflict. Apparently, there is a lot of downtime. I can say that most Russian language readers we know are spending a lot of time looking through the Russian LiveJournal entries. At worst, one finds links to the better media coverage quicker. At best, you get an inside look at events on the ground. (READ MORE)

Kings of War: Enough already - Maybe its just bad weather outside, but I’m slightly weary of reading or hearing that ‘there is no military solution’, that the ‘war on terror’ cannot be won by arms alone, or that force on its own cannot solve the problem. First, its an overworked cliche that avoids examining complexity in any depth. Throw it in with ‘the enemy gets a vote’, ‘don’t fight the last war’, and ‘know the enemy.’ Second, its banal. Thirdly, who is disagreeing? Who exactly does still argue that the military on its own can bring lasting strategic triumph to every problem? Even Bush and Rumsfeld, somewhere along the line, talked a lot about other instruments of power and the importance of diplomacy, intelligence, economics, propaganda, etc. (READ MORE)

Greyhawk: A Time For Lines? - Reuters: 'Clear timeline' urged for U.S. troop withdrawal – “The United States must provide a ‘very clear timeline’ to withdraw its troops from Iraq as part of an agreement allowing them to stay beyond this year, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Sunday.” This should be welcome news on all sides. Iraq is in an upward spiral. While "fragile" may be an appropriate adjective for that spiral it's also less so every day. And in spite of endless claims to the contrary, the US didn't intend to remain in Iraq in force indefinitely. “Based on this and other hopeful suppositions, the command’s planners projected what the American occupation of Iraq might look like. After the main fighting was over, there was to be a two- to three-month ‘stabilization’ phase, then an 18- to 24-month ‘recovery’ phase. That was to be followed by a 12- to 18-month ‘transition’ phase. At the end of this stage — 32 to 45 months after the invasion began — it was projected that the United States would have only 5,000 troops in Iraq.” (READ MORE)

Allahpundit: Rasmussen: 64% now support offshore drilling - The bad news: Today’s numbers are actually down three points from when Rasmussen polled a similar question two months ago. The good news: Poll after poll puts support for drilling at above 60 percent, with fully 37 percent of potential Obama voters on board — the same percentage, you’ll recall, as the number of Democrats who want to, er, nationalize the oil industry. The better news: “The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that over half (55%) agree with [McCain's] proposal to build more nuclear plants, although 32% disagree…More than twice as many likely McCain voters (73%) like his idea of building more nuclear plants versus 35% of potential Obama voters. Similarly, 72% of men favor building more plants as opposed to only 40% of women.” I’ve always thought drilling was politically feasible but that new nuclear power really isn’t, thanks to green paranoia. (READ MORE)

Uncle Jimbo @ Blackfive: Salon author replies about his lame hit piece - I received a response from Alex Koppelman, who wrote the piece flinging poo at the VFF Back to Iraq embed trip. His answers are a patchwork of quibbles and evasions that attempt to say that he didn't actually state that the embeds were political operatives being given a free ride by the administration and carrying water for W and McCain. No he only raised the possibility that this could be the case. Well I can throw a BS flag on that. He smeared VFF, all the brave folks who are now in Iraq and Blackfive by implying that was the case, even if he thinks he used enough weasel words to cover his ass. Now I understand why his editor wouldn't let him on a live call with me. I would have ripped him a new one and sent him home crying. Anyhow, as I promised here are his responses in full. (READ MORE)

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