August 26, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 08/26/2008

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)
More Pay for Good Teachers - AT BOTH ends of the country, high-profile fights have broken out over teacher contracts. At issue in both cities -- the District and Denver -- are proposals tying big salary increases to improved student achievement. Some union leaders don't countenance the idea of being held accountable, and that's bad news not just for the children but also for the many teachers whose good work is being shortchanged. (READ MORE)

Cheney To Visit Georgia Next Week - Vice President Cheney will travel next week to war-ravaged Georgia as part of a swing through several former Soviet republics, making him the highest-level U.S. emissary to visit the country since hostilities between Russia and Georgia broke out this month, officials said yesterday. (READ MORE)

For Those From Swing States, The Watchword Is...Worry - DENVER, Aug. 25 -- The anxiety comes in several forms, but particularly common is the pained look, followed by the quick glance away and the lengthy pause, in the face of a simple question: How is Barack Obama doing? (READ MORE)

Maliki Demands All U.S. Troops Pull Out by 2011 - BAGHDAD, Aug. 25 -- Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki demanded a complete U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq by 2011 as he embarked Monday on an attempt to win support among Iraqi leaders for a draft security accord with the United States. (READ MORE)

Governing Coalition Collapses in Pakistan - ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Aug. 25 -- Pakistan's ruling coalition broke apart Monday amid a political battle over the presidency, paralyzing the U.S.-backed government at a time when Taliban insurgents here and in neighboring Afghanistan appear to be gaining ground. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Michael Totten: The Truth About Russia in Georgia - Virtually everyone believes Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili foolishly provoked a Russian invasion on August 7, 2008, when he sent troops into the breakaway district of South Ossetia. “The warfare began Aug. 7 when Georgia launched a barrage targeting South Ossetia,” the Associated Press reported over the weekend in typical fashion. Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn't start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994. At the same time, the Russian military sent its invasion force bearing down on Georgia from the north side of the Caucasus Mountains on the Russian side of the border through the Roki tunnel and into Georgia. This happened before Saakashvili sent additional troops to South Ossetia and allegedly started the war. (READ MORE)

Lt. Nixon: Why the DNC Makes Me Hate America - It's often been remarked by my cohorts and I that we should just get out of this damn country and open a go-go bar with babes on roller skates in Thailand or something. You know, just sort of give up on life. At no time has that feeling been more sharp than tonight's viewing of the MSNBC coverage on the Democratic convention. The weeping delegates, the chortling MSNBC commenters practically in a fit of lust over their messiah, the stupid fucking signs, the dorky white people dances to crummy songs you hear on your local "soft rock" radio station, and the grandiose setup in a secured building that is presumably supposed to be speaking to the "common man". The festivities started off with Ted Kennedy looking all schmoozy and smug on his yacht followed by a wretched speech about how he was the savior of America by directing taxpayer dollars from one group of Americans to another under the guise of healthcare. (READ MORE)

Michael Rubin: Biden's Blink on Iran - In selecting Joseph Biden as his running mate, Barack Obama acknowledged the importance of foreign affairs to this year's election. His Web site trumpeted Biden as "an expert on foreign policy" and a man "who has stared down dictators." As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden is well versed in policy debates and carefully choreographed trips. But his record on the Islamic Republic of Iran -- perhaps the chief national security threat facing the next president -- suggests a persistent and dangerous judgment deficit. Biden's unyielding pursuit of "engagement" with Iran for more than a decade has made it easier for Tehran to pursue its nuclear program, while his partisan obsession with thwarting the Bush administration has led him to oppose tough sanctions against hard-liners in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. (READ MORE)

Eugene Robinson: The Worrywart Party - DENVER -- If they want to win in November, Democrats have one task to accomplish this week: Snap out of it. Somehow, tentativeness and insecurity have infected a party that ought to be full of confident swagger. It's not that Democrats don't like their odds of winning the presidency and boosting their majorities in both houses of Congress. It's that they are even bothering to calculate and recalculate those odds. That's what you could catch Democrats doing last weekend as they assembled for the convention. We'll win, they would say, but we just have to do this or Barack Obama just has to do that or the Clintons have to do this, that and the other. And the stars have to align just so. (READ MORE)

David Limbaugh: Party Unity My, er, Eye - In one sense, it's incomprehensible that Barack Obama would forgo an opportunity to reunite his party by picking Hillary Clinton as his running mate. But in his place, wouldn't you be willing to sacrifice a little if it guaranteed you'd never have to view and smell Bill Clinton's sock feet propped up on the Oval Office desk? But whatever will this messianic emissary of change do to unite his party? That is a legitimate question, is it not, since unity, harmony, love and bliss have been Obama's main campaign themes since his entry onto the presidential campaign stage? How, inquiring minds wonder, can Obama join us all together -- bitter clingers and all -- in one big communal bond of sentimental good will if he can't even inspire unity in his own party? That's unfair, you say? It's not his fault? It's those grudge-holding Clintons and their die-hard supporters who won't bury the hatchet? (READ MORE)

Cal Thomas: Biden's Toughest Opponent: Himself - DENVER - In selecting Sen. Joseph Biden as his running mate, Barack Obama gains some needed foreign policy expertise, but loses some credibility. If Washington is as bad as these two say it is, was Biden a contributor or an enabler during his six Senate terms? If 36 years in the Senate doesn't make you an "insider" and part of the problem, what does? Presidential candidates love to run against Washington and pretend they are outsiders, even when they have been insiders. The same applies to John McCain, who has been an insider for 26 years, 24 of them in the Senate. But while McCain has been critical of some Bush administration policies - notably the initial way the Iraq War was fought with too few troops - Biden has a litany of criticism of Obama, which the McCain campaign will use to undermine whatever enhancements Biden brings to the Democratic ticket. (READ MORE)

Dennis Prager: On Shooting Taggers: Why Conservatives and Liberals Differ - Earlier this month Andrew Sullivan, a well-known writer, once in the center, now on the left, nominated me for what is apparently his lowest badge of distinction for defending citizens who shoot to wound graffiti vandals, or "taggers," while committing their vandalism. Under the heading, "Malkin Award Nominee," Sullivan provides a quote from my radio show: "'So you will now say -- I hear the voice of an ACLU member -- 'Dennis, do you think that this guy should have shot these people spray painting graffiti on his shop?' To which my answer is yes. I do. Not to kill. Not to kill. But if he shot them in the legs or in the arms I would have considered the man one of the great advancers of civilization in my time. And that is what divides left from right. Because anybody on the left hearing this would think that this is barbaric whereas I consider not stopping these people in any way that is necessary to be barbaric.' (READ MORE)

Dick Morris & Eileen McGann: Obama Needed a Woman but Wimped Out - It doesn't take a political genius to realize that Barack Obama needed to nominate a woman for vice president. Obama's key problem is that there is no gender gap. In the most recent Zogby poll, he runs only 2 points better among women than among men. A Democrat should be running 10 to 15 points better among women. If Obama is to have a hope of winning, he needs to improve his performance among female voters. The Fox News poll indicates that only about half of those who backed Hillary Clinton in the primaries are voting for Obama and that fully one in five is now planning to back McCain. Attractive to women voters because of his maverick positions on issues and his willingness to defy the Republican orthodoxy, McCain is garnering votes from women who should be part of Obama's core constituency. So why didn't Obama name a woman? (READ MORE)

Chuck Norris: 100 More Bottles of Beer on the Wall and Campus - Last week, about 100 college presidents (including some from the most prestigious universities) recommended that the U.S. lower the drinking age to 18. Their reasoning? They say dropping the legal age would lessen the appeal and underground culture of college drinking. They believe it also would reduce binge drinking and prompt 18- to 20-year-olds to be more moderate in their alcohol consumption. Are they joking?! Do they also suppose that fraternity parties will turn into tea-sipping study sessions? Leading the pack with this so-called Amethyst Initiative is John McCardell, who challenged Vermont in 2005 by saying in The New York Times, "The 21-year-old drinking age is bad social policy and terrible law." McCardell recently added, "All the data show that by the time (students) go to college, they have already experienced alcohol, so how can anyone say the law is working?" (READ MORE)

Debra J. Saunders: Obama, Clinton, Biden and McCain - DENVER -- The goodie bag given to attendees of the Democratic National Convention includes maps, magnets and Dale Carnegie's Golden Book. The first principle for Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" is: "Don't criticize, condemn or complain." No. 2: "Give honest, sincere appreciation." Clearly Carnegie didn't write an opinion page column, but in that I think my original take on Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's choice of running mate was a tad harsh, I would like to address what was positive about his choice of Joe Biden. My first take? I felt the same as when I watched the end of the last episode of "The Sopranos." Let down. The go-to-black ending may have been nuanced, but as far as I was concerned, the producers punted. They chose a non-ending because they couldn't decide on a strong ending. (READ MORE)

Paul Weyrich: Kobe Bryant, a Voice of Patriotism and Appreciation - Is patriotism a thing of the past or is it still kosher to take pride in America? That question was put to basketball great Kobe Bryant at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Sportscaster Cris Collinsworth asked Bryant why he would give up his summer to play with the American Olympic team when he could be earning big bucks at home. Bryant said that when he got the Olympics uniform he spread it out on his bed and gazed at it for a long time. Bryant said, "Our country, we believe, is the greatest county in the world and it's given us so many great opportunities and it's just this sense of pride that you have, that you say, you know what, our country is the best." Collinsworth was not expecting that sort of comment. Taken aback, he asked Bryant if such pride isn't a relic of a bygone era. "Is it still cool to talk about fighting for the red, white and blue?" Bryant didn't care for the question. (READ MORE)

Matt Barber: Obamacide - How does one properly describe another who would – for purely selfish political reasons and with deliberation – intentionally refuse a thirsty child water or a hungry child food? More specifically, what does one call a lawmaker who would condemn to death the child survivor of a botched abortion by permitting doctors to refuse that child, once born alive, potentially life-saving medical treatment and nutrition? A number of things come to mind. Mr. President isn’t one of them. Based on National Journal’s vote ratings – an objectively tallied assessment of congressional voting records – Barack Obama has properly earned the dubious distinction as the single most liberal Senator in Congress during his brief, albeit overstayed, tenure. But a cursory review of his words, deeds and associations reveals that this ivory-towered Harvard boy is no run-of-the-mill lefty. He’s an extremist among extremists. (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: Russia Indeed Started Georgian Conflict - Don't take my word for it. Definitely don't take Pravda's word for it - or the New York Times or the Associated Press, which willingly and openly pushed the Russian government line that it was the Georgians who started this conflict. Russia engaged in a premeditated and preplanned invasion of Georgia, using the South Ossetians as a wedge to invade. The Russians already had the troops in place, as they were holding exercises in the nearby Russian territories, and simply used those forces for this invasion. Michael Totten, who is interviewing folks on the ground in Georgia, reports: “Virtually everyone is wrong. Georgia didn’t start it on August 7, nor on any other date. The South Ossetian militia started it on August 6 when its fighters fired on Georgian peacekeepers and Georgian villages with weapons banned by the agreement hammered out between the two sides in 1994.” (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Let Your Unconscious Be Your Guide - Major Garrett at Fox News reports from Denver backrooms. “Top Clinton strategists, gathered by Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager Maggie Williams, met privately late Monday in Denver to plot convention strategy. The main topic: what to do about Wednesday’s roll call vote.” And the answer will not surprise you. “During the question-and-answer session, a person who attended the meeting informs The Bourbon Room, Williams said delegates still loyal to Clinton, even after her appeals to support Obama, should ‘vote their conscience.’ A Clinton ally who was not at the meeting but who spoke to Williams directly said the context was the delegates should vote their conscience if they felt they had no other choice. Meaning, if Clinton’s appeals weren’t enough, they must follow their deeply held beliefs. Williams explained after the meeting that it would have been insulting to tell delegates anything else. Williams said her ‘vote your conscience’ line should not be interpreted as an act of sabotage against Obama, but merely a recognition that some Clinton supporters will do what they feel they must.” (READ MORE)

Dafydd: Does a "Pakistani Awakening" Forthcome? - The Taliban in Pakistan has begun to behave as bloody-mindedly as did al-Qaeda in Iraq, when it seized control over the Sunni areas of Iraq under Musab Zarqawi in 2004, when he publicly declared his allegiance to the main al-Qaeda. The more AQI practiced indiscriminate human sacrifice upon the Iraqi Sunnis, the more desperate the victims became; in the end, they turned on AQI with the ferocity of the damned. We now call this moment the "Sunni Awakening," and it played a crucial role in our victorious counterinsurgency strategy against the insurgent forces in that country -- as Gen. Petraeus and his top COIN advisor, David Kilcullen, along with COIN architects Fred Kagen and Gen. Jack Keane, always knew it would. Simply put, they realized that if you give fanatic death-worshippers like al-Qaeda power, life under its rule will inevitably turn intolerable, even impossible. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Jounral: Maliki Undercuts Awakening Movement - The U.S. forces have performed heroically, and many lives have been lost or irrevocably changed with wounds that will never heal. The U.S. has expended a significant part of the country’s treasure to free Iraq and start it on a course of freedom and democracy. Certain lines of effort in the campaign have been clear and important throughout the history of the campaign for Iraq, one of which is the awakening movement (leading to the concerned citizens). TCJ has made it clear from our initial coverage of the concerned citizens (later called the “Sons of Iraq”) that given the indigenous nature of much of the Sunni insurgency, settling disputes with the Sunnis was necessary (which was possible because they weren’t fighting for religious reasons like al Qaeda or the Taliban). Befriending those who were once shooting at you is a hard thing to do, but both the Sunnis and U.S. troops managed to do it because it was the right and smart thing to do. (READ MORE)

Don Surber: The ad Obama doesn’t want you to see - His lawyers will attack any cable outlet or TV station that dares to run the ad that points out that the political career of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama was launched at the home of unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers. Oops. Did I make a mistake and tell the truth? My bad. The ad that Obama does not want you to see. Please, do not click it. It comes from one of the people who funded the Swift Boat ads and a former campaign staffer for Republican Sen. John McCain. ABC News’ Tahman Bradley reported: “The Obama campaign is using a new television ad to take on the issue of Obama’s association with a 1970s radical who bombed the Capitol and Pentagon.” And this: “Obama has denounced Ayers’ actions with the radical group, but has also referred to Ayers as ‘mainstream’ and ‘respectable,’ a point that conservatives continue to pound the soon-to-be Democratic nominee about.” OK, so Obama is standing by Ayers. But Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, his political mentor? Jones apparently called a black woman supporter of Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton Uncle Tom late Saturday night. Obama immediately threw Jones under the bus. (READ MORE)

Gay Patriot West: Will the Clintons Sink Obama? - ...or maybe it’s the way Obama treated the Clintons which prevents him from rising. As the Democrats gather in Denver, their presumptive nominee has missed the chance to turn the quadrennial partisan shindig into an event focused on his election. Instead he has let it become a forum showcasing his party’s divisions, largely because he failed to find an an appropriate means to handle his most tenacious rival from the primary contest and her husband, the only Democrat reelected president since World War II. When a party controls the White House and the incumbent is not up for reelection, it cedes the first night of the convention (which would be tonight for the Democrats) to that incumbent. The Democrats should have done the same thing with their party’s most recent Chief Executive. And since his wife did so well in the primary contest, they could make the night about them, call it a “Tribute to the Clintons.” (READ MORE)

Jihad Watch: "Man," probably a Methodist, arrested by terror police in UK - Actually, it's unlikely that he was a Methodist, since this story starts talking about jihadi websites. But rest assured, I will not rest in my determination to find a living, breathing illustration of what everyone knows to be true: that the Bible is just as violent, and just as likely to inspire violent acts, as the Qur'an. And that there is no essential difference between Western, Judeo-Christian culture and Islamic culture. After all, everyone knows these things are true, just as everyone knows that the threat of terrorism is over and the Islam and the Qur'an have nothing whatsoever to do with the upcoming election. Everyone knows these things. We'll find some proof eventually. Anyway, this arrest could ultimately mean one less hole in Blackburn, Lancashire. "Terror police arrest in Blackburn," from the BBC, August 26 (thanks to Charles Martel): (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Vets for Freedom ad: Acknowledge our victory! - Vets for Freedom has a new ad released that demands acknowledgment from Democratic Party officials that the surge succeeded in stabilizing Iraq. VFF makes the lack of recognition personal in this spot, with Iraq War veterans making the point that they comprised the surge, and that they deserve the recognition that comes with victory: “Vets for Freedom Chairman Pete Hegseth, a decorated former Army infantry platoon leader in Baghdad, said in a statement: ‘Vets for Freedom will not stand by and let the incredible progress of our troops go unnoticed by the American public and lawmakers from either side of the aisle.’ Hegseth is at the convention to tell lawmakers, delegates and the press about his observation during a recent return to Iraq.” (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: DNC Noise - I thought Dems were anti-old guy. Here’s one they love for the barnburners, even if they didn’t want him for president. Michelle Obama, only lately made proud, now loves this country. Apparently she stayed on script. Star sightings by the Herald’s Inside Track are a little sparse. C’mon, Hollywood, can I get an Alex Baldwin and a Sean Penn. Forget them, where Scarlet Jo … Cruel, cutting remarks by Howie: “Last night’s convention theme was America, and Americans. Ted Kennedy is a great American. Michelle Obama loves America. And John McCain has eight houses - in America. Good God, what a night for the Red Sox to take off, especially with Monday night football still two weeks away. The local guy who’s having the toughest week has to be Sen. John Forbes ‘Liveshot’ Kerry. America’s Gigolo will never admit it, of course, but he and his friends, all of whom could fit in a phone booth, still seriously believe he won the 2004 election.” (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: Fighting back against Obama’s thugs - I cannot stress how outrageous the Obama campaign’s attempt to silence the creators of the Ayers ad is. Mr. Hope and Change is applying Chicago-style mafia tactics to intimidate those who want to alert the nation to Obama’s troubling ties to, and longtime relationship with, the unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist. Obama’s lawyers and minions are playing hardball with TV stations that have dared to air the ad. They have the gall to champion campaign finance integrity — even as Obama has just admitted hiding payments to his Chicago cronies at ACORN. The Obama campaign can’t cite anything false or defamatory about the ad because it is accurate and truthful. This intimidation campaign is of a piece with the left-wing MoveOn effort to bully GOP donors. Remember? I’ve just obtained the response of the group running the ads that Obama doesn’t want you to see: (READ MORE)

neo-neocon: Judgment and war: Obama and the Democratic party - It’s ironic that the surge’s success has made the issue of the Iraq War less central rather than more in this campaign. “Ironic,” because the passage of time has made it clearer that, no matter what one thinks of the wisdom of the war’s genesis, those who counseled that the surge was a failure even before it began (and that includes both nominee Obama and most of the Democratic Party leadership) were wrong. If we had followed their leadership, Iraq would have been an even worse failure—and tragedy—than Vietnam was decades ago. Fortunately, they did not prevail this time. But how is it that this party and these leaders can ask us to trust their judgment and elect them to make decisions about military matters in the future? One possibility is that they are saying that their poor judgment on the surge is canceled out by Bush and the Republicans’ poor judgment on the start of the war. But that conveniently ignores the fact that most of the Democrats voted for the war at the outset. (READ MORE)

McQ: Night 1 of the Democratic Convention - I caught parts of the Democratic convention last night, but unfortunately missed the main event (Michelle Obama’s speech). My wife watched it and gave her a good grade. She said she came across very effectively if the purpose of her speech was to introduce Barack Obama to the increased audience of voters now paying attention to the race. Rich Lowry also found Michelle Obama’s speech effective. Jim Geraghty says it did what it was supposed to do - little or no harm. I did catch Nancy Pelosi’s opening speech. I was very glad for her when it was over - she still makes Denny Hastart look good. And Jim Leach? Well he’s not Zell Miller. And he made Pelosi look good. Jay Nordlinger provided about the only positive point that can be made about his speech: “His speech at the Democratic convention, and his support of the Democratic nominee, will make his new life at Harvard much, much easier. Much.” (READ MORE)

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