September 3, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 09/03/2008

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)
Bush hands GOP to McCain - ST. PAUL, Minn. President Bush turned over the reins of the Republican Party to John McCain on Tuesday night and then stepped aside as Mr. McCain's friends touted him as a maverick and teamed up to blast his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, as the least-qualified nominee ever. (READ MORE)

Border drug wars threaten U.S. - An escalating turf fight between warring drug cartels in Mexico is spreading into the United States with federal officials warning that deadly shootouts and ambushes along the southwestern border pose a serious threat to both U.S. law enforcement and American citizens, according to a confidential multi-agency government report. (READ MORE)

Charges against Palin raise profile of her address - ST. PAUL, Minn. As Hurricane Gustav released its grip on the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, was turning into Hurricane Sarah - a storm of charges and countercharges that further roiled the gathering. (READ MORE)

Ex-POWs say McCain experience clear - ST. PAUL, Minn. There are 24 of them here, the men who went through hell with John McCain in Vietnamese prison camps four decades ago. A few are politicking and organizing, but most are here simply to support the man they say represents a choice for America between honor and image. (READ MORE)

Protesters, police clash outside RNC - ST. PAUL, Minn. Police and protesters clashed again outside the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night, a day after authorities arrested more than 280 people during rioting. (READ MORE)

McCain Praised as His Own Man - ST. PAUL, Minn., Sept. 2 -- Republicans began laying out a vigorous argument Tuesday for electing John McCain to the presidency, using the second day of their national convention here to portray the senator from Arizona as an independent-minded leader who would put the best interests of the nation... (READ MORE)

U.S. Rejects Claims of Afghan Deaths - ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 2 -- U.S. military officials on Tuesday flatly rejected claims by the United Nations and the Afghan government that a U.S. airstrike in western Afghanistan two weeks ago killed at least 90 Afghan civilians, saying that a complete investigation into the incident found that... (READ MORE)

Report Describes Careless Handling of U.S. Secrets - Former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales told investigators that he could not recall whether he took home notes regarding the government's most sensitive national security program and that he did not know they contained classified information, despite his own markings that they were "top secret... (READ MORE)

2.5 Million Indians Stranded by Floods - NEW DELHI, Sept. 2 -- Nearly 2.5 million Indians remained stranded, homeless and hungry in flood-ravaged villages in the eastern part of the country Tuesday, 17 days after a river burst a dam in neighboring Nepal and changed course. (READ MORE)

La. Officials Tell Evacuees It's Too Early to Return Home - NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 2 -- Even though Hurricane Gustav did not wreak the destruction expected when it struck the Gulf Coast on Monday, officials said Tuesday that they were not ready to allow many of the 1.9 million Louisiana residents who had evacuated to return to their homes. (READ MORE)

The Beltway Boys - Even as the Obama camp ponders how best to handle John McCain's veep pick of Sarah Palin, the high priests and priestesses of the media have marked her as an apostate. The Beltway class is in full-throated rebellion against a nondomesticated conservative who might pose a threat to their coronation of Barack Obama and the return of Camelot-on-the-Potomac. (READ MORE)

Obama on Fannie Mae - First John McCain called for ending the private profit and public risk business model of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And now Barack Obama has weighed in with his own critique of the taxpayer bailout for the two government-sponsored mortgage giants. "Long term, what we have to do is go ahead and make a decision," Mr. Obama said last week in Davenport, Iowa, in response to a question. (READ MORE)

'Stop! Or We'll Say Stop Again!' - With apologies to comedian Robin Williams, that's the line that comes to mind when weighing the European Union's declaration Monday on Russia's continued occupation of Georgia. At a special meeting in Brussels, EU national leaders told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to abide by the terms of a French-brokered cease-fire, including a pullback of Russian troops to their preconflict positions. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Robert J. Samuelson: The Real Economic Scorecard - Just last week, the Census Bureau released its annual study of household incomes, poverty and health insurance -- often called the nation's "economic report card." Its hard numbers seemed to confirm how many Americans feel. Sure, we're prosperous, but prosperity is fraying. Except for the rich, living standards are stagnant. Poverty is up; health insurance coverage is down. Naturally, both Barack Obama and John McCain seized upon the report to claim that their policies would restore progress. Hold it. Though echoed by policy wonks, pundits and politicians -- last week, Bill Clinton -- the conventional wisdom is wrong or, at least, misleading. Here's a more accurate assessment. For most Americans, living standards are increasing, albeit slowly, over any meaningful period. But rising health spending is eroding take-home pay, and immigrants are boosting both poverty and the lack of health insurance. (READ MORE)

George F. Will: Impulse, Meet Experience - ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The word "experience" appears 91 times in the Federalist Papers, those distillations of conservative sense and sensibility. Madison, Hamilton and Jay said that truths are "taught" and "corroborated" by experience. These writers were eager to "consult" and be "led" by experience. They spoke of "indubitable" and "unequivocal" lessons from experience, the "testimony" of experience and "the accumulated experience of ages." "Accumulating" experience is "the parent of wisdom" and a "guide" that "justifies," "confirms" and can "admonish." America's Founders were empiricists and students of history who trusted "that best oracle of wisdom, experience," which is humanity's "least fallible guide." A telling touch, that "least fallible." The Founders represented the sober side of the Enlightenment. They knew, as conservatives do, that all guides are fallible. Hence conservatism's inclination to discern prescriptions in traditions: (READ MORE)

Kathleen Parker: Palin the Impaled - ST. PAUL, Minn. -- If conventions are supposed to be about message discipline and stagecraft, Republicans have been improv street theater to the Democrats' Broadway. Every day has brought a brand new buzz -- and that was before the convention got started. Republicans euphoric about vice presidential pick Sarah Palin hardly got to enjoy a news cycle before Hurricane Gustav stole headlines and resurrected the ghosts of Katrina. Then came the news that Palin's 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant. To say that this convention has gotten off to a jaw-dropping start would not be hyperbolic. While Democrats chant, "Yes we can," Republicans have been lip-syncing, "OMG." There are, of course, other ways to view recent events and Republicans have rallied their best angels. Thus, Gustav wasn't so much an unwelcome interruption as an opportunity to demonstrate priorities: People matter more than agendas. (READ MORE)

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann: Stick With Sarah - Sarah Palin's selection will end up as a big win for John McCain. He has to stay with her and quell any talk of pulling an Eagleton (after the time when 1972 Democratic nominee George McGovern yanked the plug on Missouri Sen. Tom Eagleton, who had been his choice for vice president). McCain and Palin will confound their critics and gain good yardage in the presidential race. None of the criticisms of Sarah Palin amounts to any misconduct on her part. Her daughter got pregnant. Her husband had a DWI 20 years ago. Her sister married a bum -- a state trooper -- who admits he shot a tazer gun at his 11-year-old son to instill discipline, and a lot of her friends and family badgered his boss to discharge him. Palin, acting without explanation, but with ample justification and within her authority, fired the trooper's boss. All this comes to a massive, so what? The important thing about Sarah Palin is her public life. (READ MORE)

Paul Greenberg: Hillary Clinton's Act of Grace - Listening to Hillary Clinton's warm-up act for Barack Obama at the Democrats' still slightly divided convention, it occurred that, if only the lady had been that graceful and gracious, that poised and personal, as in control of herself and her surroundings, and just generally as well-organized and focused during her long, long and almost, almost successful drive for her party's presidential nomination ... she herself would have been giving the acceptance speech at the Democrats' national convention. Even through the distorting lens of the television camera, you could feel the same thought percolating through the convention itself. But it's too late now. The die has been cast, or rather the votes have been. So there was Hillary Clinton, the presidential nominee who might have been, demonstrating that she would have been the better choice by showing how defeat had improved her. Life is just full of ironies. (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: Foreign Policy "Experience" - Now that the Democrats have recovered from the shock of Governor Sarah Palin's nomination as the Republican's candidate for vice president, they have suddenly discovered that her lack of experience in general-- and foreign policy experience in particular-- is a terrible danger in someone just a heartbeat away from being President of the United States. For those who are satisfied with talking points, there is no need to go any further. But, for those who still consider substance relevant, this is an incredible argument coming from those whose presidential candidate has even less experience in public office than Sarah Palin, and none in foreign policy. Moreover, if Senator Barack Obama is elected, he will not be a heartbeat away from the presidency, his would be the heartbeat of the president-- and he would be the one making foreign policy. (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: The Four Stages of Conservative Female Abuse - There's something about outspoken conservative women that drives the left mad. It's a peculiar pathology I've reported on for more than 15 years, both as a witness and a target. Thus, the onset of Palin Derangement Syndrome in the media, Democratic circles and the cesspools of the blogosphere came as no surprise. They just can't help themselves. Liberals hold a special animus for constituencies they deem traitors. Minorities who identify as social and economic conservatives have left the plantation and sold out their people. Women who put an "R" by their name have abandoned their ovaries and betrayed their gender. As female Republican officeholders and female conservative public figures have grown in number and visibility, so has the progression of Conservative Female Abuse. The astonishing vitriol and virulent hatred directed at GOP Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is the most severe manifestation to date. (READ MORE)

Ben Shapiro: The Hypocritical, Woman-Hating Left Targets Palin - "There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women," former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once remarked. Where, then, are the liberal women when it comes to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin? Palin became the first woman to grace a Republican ticket on Friday, August 29, when Senator John McCain selected her as his running mate. The following day, a diarist at the mainstream left-wing Daily Kos (Barack Obama himself appeared as a Kos diarist back in 2005) suggested without any evidence whatsoever that Sarah Palin's son, Trig, recently born and with Down syndrome, was birthed not by Palin but by her daughter. Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic jumped on the bandwagon, demanding that the McCain campaign release Trig's medical records. The rumor, of course, was demonstrably false -- Kos took down the post. Sullivan, however, stubbornly claimed that the questions about Palin's pregnancy were legitimate. (READ MORE)

Terence Jeffrey: Married Liberals With Children - Suddenly, the liberal establishment is earnestly interested in traditional family life, and there is a good -- if cynical -- reason for this. When Michelle Obama, a Harvard Law grad, appeared at the Democratic convention last week, she did not come a la Hillary Clinton, who bragged when her husband first ran for president that if you elected him you would also get her -- "a two-for-one, blue plate special." Mrs. Obama did not pitch a co-presidency, but the image of a traditional family. In her carefully crafted text, she said "Iraq" twice, "health care" four times and "family" or "families" nine times. The Democrats made a calculated decision: Present Michelle Obama as a sister, daughter, wife and mother. "I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president," she said. (READ MORE)

David Limbaugh: Who's Being Hypocritical? - Liberals are outraged at the supposed hypocrisy of Sarah Palin (and conservatives) for supporting abstinence-only education and family values generally in light of revelations concerning the pregnancy of her teenage daughter. It's only fair, then, that they should be called upon to explain their own hypocrisy in the compassion, privacy, gender and race departments. Liberals are sick and tired of conservatives lecturing them about family values. Yet it is liberals who do most of the moralizing and sermonizing, seeming to derive their entire sense of superior self-worth in favorably comparing themselves with heartless, bigoted conservatives. Liberals claim a monopoly on compassion for the poor, minorities, women and homosexuals. Yet when they get the chance to score political points, they abandon their allegiance to these groups as quickly as Barack Obama threw the Rev. Jeremiah Wright under the bus. Just ask Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice or Michael Steele. (READ MORE)

Keith Marsden: Bush Has a Good Economic Record - Successive speakers at the Democratic National Convention poured scorn on President Bush's economic record. The clear aim was to justify the party's call for "change," and to undermine support for Republican presidential nominee John McCain. His election would mean a "third Bush term," delegates groaned. Yet Democrats cited no good evidence for their claims that the administration has produced a stagnant economy, widening disparities of income and wealth, high unemployment, and a heavy burden of government debt (supposedly resulting from an unwise military intervention in Iraq). How does the performance of the U.S. economy really compare with other advanced economies over the eight years of George Bush's presidency? Data published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, the International Comparison Program (ICP) (a cooperative venture coordinated by the World Bank): (READ MORE)
Judy Shelton: The Market Will Punish Putinism - In the early years of the Soviet Union, Marxist policies for a "workers' paradise" wrought such devastation on the Russian economy that Vladimir Lenin was forced to restore certain aspects of market capitalism -- limited private ownership, trade with foreign countries -- to salvage the future of Bolshevism. The line above comes from a famous Russian satire about two scoundrels who took full advantage of the widespread corruption under the New Economic Policy (NEP) to accumulate illegal fortunes. Fear of financial failure is a recurring nightmare for Russians, who recall with angst the collapse of the Soviet economy at the end of the 1980s. The following decade, in August 1998, a newly constituted Russian Federation defaulted on its government bonds as the ruble lost two-thirds of its value in less than a month, plunging the nation back into bankruptcy. (READ MORE)

Al Hubbard & Noam Neusner: Why Obama Can't Close the Sale - Even before John McCain shook up the presidential race by tapping Gov. Sarah Palin to be his running mate, polls weren't showing the late-August lead that Barack Obama (and many Republicans) expected. Why so? It's not because of the brilliance of the McCain campaign. Rather we believe that -- despite the media's best efforts to exempt Mr. Obama's policies from critical examination -- American voters aren't sheep. They pay attention to the candidates and positions and make wise decisions about who should lead the country. True, Mr. Obama enjoys several advantages. Republicans are struggling nationwide in head-to-head contests. Democrats lead in voter registration, and have a well-funded presidential candidate. Yet Americans have not committed to Mr. Obama. Why? (READ MORE)

Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.: The Inflation Hurricane - Panic, evacuate, return -- and repeat. That's the future of New Orleans until (as before Katrina) residents decide they will no longer obey mandatory evacuation orders. Our bet: Once will be enough. By the next storm (which could be later this month), conspicuously fewer citizens will be prepared to participate in an exodus ritual that only serves as an unrealistic and irritating substitute for organizing a city in a way that actually makes sense in light of the predictable hazards it's exposed to. New Orleans is still far from being able to withstand a 100-year storm -- in other words, a storm that has a 1% chance of happening next year, a 10% chance in any given decade, and a 30% chance during the duration of a standard mortgage. An individual might accept these odds, but not a rational insurance company for any price most property owners would be willing to pay. Thus the city couldn't have found a better time to rehearse its vulnerability: (READ MORE)

Thomas Frank: Happy Labor Day. Drop Dead. - This is the season for hypocrisy spotting. Pundits have pounced on the moral contradiction presented by the pregnant but unwed daughter of the right's latest family-values champion. They have figured out that riding the Amtrak home to Delaware doesn't automatically make Joe Biden a regular guy. But as they ponder these personal failings of the mighty, it's easy to overlook the great, yawning hypocrisies that make up the very substance of political life. Take, for instance, the venomous backlash against the Employee Free Choice Act, a bit of union-backed legislation that might allow labor to start reversing decades of decline. Almost wherever there is a close race for a Senate seat, you can see TV commercials assailing the initiative in the most strident terms. Currently, employees at a given workplace can form a union after a majority of them choose to do so in an election. The new legislation would allow them to do it after a majority of them sign cards. (READ MORE)

The Anchoress: The Silence of the Rodham, the Unfree Press - Some of my friends and I are wondering at the utter silence of Hillary Clinton since Gov. Palin’s introduction last Friday. Aside from her generic “we should all be proud” statement, Mrs. Clinton has been pretty mum, and my friends and I have been wondering about it, in a “so much for sisterhood” sort of way. You’d think Hillary - a “lifelong advocate for women and children” - would be stepping up, mildly, even, to ask her Angry Left friends to at least pretend - give a little lip service - to the long-standing idea that women and their choices, and their children were sort of, you know…to be respected, a little? Where is Hillary? We don’t know. BUT…the National Enquirer, which if I remember rightly is published by a FOB/FOH, is going to try to pimp Troopergate into “the scandal that will rock America”. I’m thinking Hillary is quite aware that no less a leftie smarty than Camille Paglia heard Gov. Palin speak last Friday and then enthused: (READ MORE)

Ace of Spades: Must Read: The "Invisible Preganacies" of Presidential Candidates' Daughters - A good point and I'm surprised Slate is making it. Although it would be unnecessarily cruel and invasive to wonder about which specific daughters of previous presidential and vice presidential candidates may have had an "invisible pregnancy" -- that is, one terminated by abortion -- it's less invasive to simply take the cohort as a group and play the percentages game. Saletan here, for reasons I would call "mystifying" but are anything but, restricts the possible candidates to those between ages 17 and 30 when their fathers stood for election, rather than stood for election and then served, which is an utterly contrived parameter designed specifically to exclude Chelsea Clinton (who was of course dating during her dad's term, and was 16 when he ran for re-election) from consideration. Note how they yet bend over backwards to refrain from smearing a child whose parents they like. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Not the medium but the message - Joshua Muravchik at Commentary reviews the history of summitry from Potsdam to Nixon in China and concludes that personal contact between leaders is no substitute for sound diplomacy based on a shrewd appreciation of national interests. In fact the illusion that “world peace” is automatically advanced by talking proved fatal on more than one occasion. Muravchik notes that two of the most disastrous meetings in recent history — between Neville Chamberlain and Hitler in Munich and FDR with Joseph Stalin in Potsdam — set the stage for conflicts which would subsequently shake the world. [...] The chief danger when two heads of state meet to resolve conflicts occurs when one, who has no clear idea of his own national interests, is manipulated by his counterpart by playing on his vanity, credulousness or innocence. Even illness and physical weakness can be exploited. Stalin knew how to play the dying FDR like a fiddle. (READ MORE)

Big Dog: They Attack Palin Out Of Fear - John McCain’s surprise pick of Sarah Palin to round out his ticket has sent shock waves throughout the land of politics. Republicans are energized and Democrats are suddenly fearful. They fear that they might just lose in a year that they should win and do so handily. They fear that Obama made a serious mistake by selecting Joe Biden over Hillary Clinton (a ticket I think would have won). You can tell the Democrats think Palin is the real deal and a threat because of the vicious way that they immediately attacked her and the way they continue to do so. It started when the Obama campaign failed o acknowledge that she is a Governor and it was compounded by the assertion that she lacked any experience. Who could blame Obama for belittling the executive experience that Palin has as a Mayor and ignoring her executive experience as a Governor? (READ MORE)

Jonathan Winer: EU High Court Invalidates Sanctions Against Al Qaeda - In a devastating blow to existing international financial sanctions against terrorist groups, the EU's highest court has today overturned the sanctions program imposed by the European Union on Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The ruling by the European Court of Justice annulled the EU's freezing of the funds of Yassin al-Kadi, a Saudi businessman who has been on terrorist financier black-lists since his listing as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" by the U.S. Treasury in October 2001. The ruling only immediately affects Al-Kadi and the charity Al Barakaat, also alleged to have funded Al-Qaeda, and defers the release of their assets 90 days to give the EU the opportunity to come up with a new sanctions regime that provides the due process rights which the Court were not present in the existing EU regulation. But at first reading, it appears essentially to end the ability of the EU to impose economic sanctions against terrorists: (READ MORE)

Noah Shachtman: Two More Journos Arrested in Iraq - U.S. and Iraqi forces have arrested two journalists in separate raids, IraqSlogger reports. They are the latest in a long string of reporters, cameramen, and photographers that have been detained in Iraq. Ibrahim Jasim, an Iraqi cameraman working with the Reuters news agency, was taken his home in Babil Province by a joint American-Iraqi unit, IraqSlogger says. Akram al-Rabi'ia, an Iraqi correspondent for US-funded satellite broadcaster al-Hurra, was arrested in Najaf while "investigating the suspicious circumstances of a relative’s detention." “Ayman Jasim, the sister of Ibrahim, told the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO) that the joint force raided their home... after midnight Monday night... [She] added that an American officer who was leading the joint force asked her brother Ibrahim about his work, and when he learned that the Iraqi worked as a news cameraman for Reuters,’“he immediately ordered that he be arrested and confiscated four of his cameras, smashed his personal computer, and confiscated his mobile phone.’” (READ MORE)

Discerning Texan: Women, Feminism, and the Sarah Palin Pick - It goes without saying that NARAL and other Left-leaning feminist organizations have come out viciously against Sarah Palin: some because of her personal convictions about the abortion issue--convictions which Palin has lived multiple times in her life now, rather than to simply pay them lip service (e.g by choosing to having a Down baby and by her handling of her own daughter's pregnancy...); some because they see Governor Palin as a (legitimate) threat to Barack Obama's candidacy. And, while the Governor may not fit the stereotypical feminist "archetype" which Democrats have attempted to claim as their birthright, Palin nevertheless presents a serious problem for the so called "champions" of breaking the glass ceiling on the Left. And--as the Left most always does when they overreact--their mudslinging, angst, and thrashing around is only going to make their problem worse. The media seems to be missing the point about Palin: (READ MORE)

Mitchell Blatt: Sexism in the Media? Hillary Was Right. - Hillary Clinton’s campaign complained about sexism in the media during his primary battle vs. Barack Obama, and we are seeing now just how right she was about sexism in the media. Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol has been revealed as being pregnant, and that story has dominated election coverage recently. (Note to networks: Bristol isn’t running for VP; Sarah is.) Not only are the networks trying to drag this story out, they are also saying Palin is neglecting her children by running for vice president. (Stay at home, women, preferably in the kitchen!) Palin Neglecting Her Children: CNN’s John Roberts said, “Children with Down’s syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of Vice President, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?” Um, how about using good time management skills and receiving help from her husband? (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: The reason for the Palin bashing in the media - The selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate has apparently deranged the mainstream media. They’ve reported that she belonged to a secessionist party for a while, but she’s been a lifelong Republican. They’ve reported that GOP convention attendees have started talking about an “Eagleton option” for her withdrawal, when the only people I’ve heard discuss it at the Xcel are the media themselves, and Palin remains wildly popular with the Republicans. What in the world has pushed the mainstream media into this kind of insanity? The Wall Street Journal has a good analysis — fear: “Even as the Obama camp ponders how best to handle John McCain’s veep pick of Sarah Palin, the high priests and priestesses of the media have marked her as an apostate. The Beltway class is in full-throated rebellion against a nondomesticated conservative who might pose a threat to their coronation of Barack Obama and the return of Camelot-on-the-Potomac. …” (READ MORE)

Allahpundit: (Video) Gingrich rips the media for belittling Palin’s achievement - Something to start the day off right, like a video version of a hearty breakfast. Jonah Goldberg’s correct that the talking point about leading the Alaska National Guard sounds lame, and to the extent Newt means Palin showed guts in taking on an incumbent governor, Barry O surely showed some too in challenging the Clinton machine that ruled the party as of last year. Righteous stuff otherwise, though. I only wish he’d thought to call out The One’s charming habit of demeaning Palin by referring to her as the mayor of Wasilla instead of the governor of Alaska. Perhaps she’ll return the compliment tonight by addressing him as the state senator from Chicago. Color me shocked, too, that our modern-day Murrow didn’t seize the opportunity provided by the satellite hook-up to take Gingrich on. (READ MORE)

Good LT @ The Jawa Report: Then & Now: NYT Got the Surge Wrong...Again, and Again, and Again - Here's the NYT two days ago: U.S. Hands Off Pacified Anbar, Once Heart of Iraq Insurgency: Barack Obama could not be reached for comment, but did release a statement saying that making such foreign policy decisions like that required for the surge to be implemented was "above his pay grade." Noted foreign policy strategists and military experts Maureen Down, Frank Rich, Paul Krugman, Nick Kristof and the all-knowing ed board itself have plenty of crow to eat. Good job by Eric Posner at the Volokh Conspiracy for rounding these gems up: “The only real question about the planned ‘surge’ in Iraq — which is better described as a Vietnam-style escalation — is whether its proponents are cynical or delusional. -- Paul Krugman, NYT, 1/8/07” (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Her Turn - It gets a little embarrassing sometimes, being an ink-stained wretch, when you see the way the other scribblers can’t stop piling on one and can’t stop worshipping the other. Here’s a great Dem talking point, compliments of the Washington Post: Palin slashed funding for teen moms. Not a peep on what the increase was, what the money was actually for, what else she might have slashed, whether the program is actually worth a damn or well managed, or anything else resembling context. Maybe it was the horrible, meanspirited act of a hypocritical pol, but with no indication anyone bothered to ask any of those questions, who knows? A little shoddy. Hnag on, here we go. New media makes old media look bad again. Via Malkin: Slashed line item was a threefold increase. Then there’s the rampant lefty sexism. Even some of my own pals can’t help themselves. The funny part is how they think a couple days of partisan squawking will be enough to force her out. (READ MORE)

Libertarian Leanings: Prudence as principle - In today's complaint at the perceived inexperience of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, the inimitable E.J. Dionne elevates prudence to the level of principle. Say's Dionne; “This week's convention will be overshadowed not only by a hurricane but also by McCain's choice of Palin. The Republicans once hoped to use their gathering to persuade Americans not to trust Obama. Now, as the speakers here make their case, the media will rightly be doing their job, trying to figure out who Palin is. Palin, not Obama, will be the issue, in a way that Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty or some other well-known figure would not have been. But that's a matter of politics. There is also the question of principle. In picking Biden as his running mate, Obama made a prudent choice.” My, my. How principled of Obama. Maybe it's just me, but aren't we setting the bar a bit low by calling the selection of known plagiarist and Senate fossil Joe Biden "principled" only because it is somehow the safe choice? It's an odd column that laments the inexperience of Sarah Palin while it extols the prudence of Obama for admitting his own. (READ MORE)

Neptunus Lex: The last little bit - I should probably let this go, but somehow cannot. A few years back the Hobbit and I learned that we were pregnant, again. We were of a certain age, so there were tests to perform, but our joy was complete as we headed back east to spend holidays with the family for a few weeks. When we returned to California there were multiple messages waiting for us on the answering machine. Each of them couched in increasingly urgent tones. We would have to come in for “counseling.” Right away. It turned out that there was some irregularity in an amino fetal protein test that indicated an outsized chance that our unborn child would be arrive in the world severely disabled. Spina bifida perhaps. Maybe Down’s Syndrome. Not our fault, nothing we had done. These things happen as a couple age. There was just time to “take care of things” under state law. Delay too much, and nothing could be done. Not in California, anyway. How sure were they? we asked. Our hearts dying inside of us. (READ MORE)

J. D. Pendry: Rocking Morton’s world… - I catch the 6 o’clock evening news when I can. However, I long ago gave up on the evening news with Brian or Katie or with whoever it might be on the major broadcast networks. Their too often condescending fashion of delivering news combined with the clear biases that only they appear unable to see got to be a bit much for me. I tune into the Fox News 6 o’clock report when I can. On Friday, I was particularly interested in what the program’s panel discussion might offer up on the selection of Governor Sarah Palin by Senator McCain as his Vice Presidential running mate. I was not surprised to hear Morton Kondracke express some contempt for the choice. He cited her lack of experience to assume the duties of the President as if he fully expected McCain to drop over dead on inauguration day. Why, he’s had two bouts of melanoma declared Mr. Kondracke. (READ MORE)

Van Helsing: Monsters - Liberals continue to be surprisingly forthcoming regarding their contempt for truth and honor, and their willingness to resort to tactics no decent person would employ. It's as if they don't realize you don't have to be a moonbat to access their websites. Earlier we heard this from an enlightened progressive at Democratic Underground who approves of malicious rumors that Trig is not really Sarah Palin's son, but her daughter's: “It doesn't matter if it's true or not. RUMOR IS TRUTH. The modern laws of media hype and political warfare have a useful tenet: Repeat ANYTHING or raise false concern over ANYTHING and it is likely to be planted in the conscious/subconscious of many voters. If people start to think that there might be something fishy with Palin's last kid (if hers), then that's FINE. One more doubt (whether tied to reality or not) is another hesitation at the ballot box.” The Left's propaganda war continues to focus on 17-year-old Bristol Palin. First Things quotes Daily Kos: (READ MORE)

Confederate Yankee: Sign of the Times - It says quite a bit about the state of modern journalism that one of the last national media outlets to post a story about the family of Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin is the National Equirer—and something else again that the Enquirer article is less partisan in tone and apparently more solid in their sourcing than network and cable news channels, national newspapers, and magazines that have published outlandish claims that even Bat Boy would know better than to report. The venom and vigor with which journalists have gone after Palin and her family is unsurprising. According to the practitioners of liberal theology, Palin is a gender traitor for being a conservative, and perhaps even worse, an embarrassing reminder of their own self-centeredness. Palin is guilty of what many of the left consider a most serious offense, knowingly carry to term a child with disabilities and furthermore, pledging to love and care for him. (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: The Closing of the American Psyche - On Monday, FrontPage Magazine entertained a symposium on The Closing of the American Psyche . [HT: NS] The participants were an eclectic and interesting crew, which included several Psychoanalysts and were directed to discuss the question: Why has academia become so hostile to psychoanalytical self-exploration? The discussion is an important one and bears on my thoughts yesterday about the shallowness of so many relationships and the tendency of societies under stress toward regression. The ease with which our political parties manufacture their candidates, including the faux authenticity that leads to such immortal images as Michael Dukakis in a tank and John Kerry in a hunting jacket, would seem to be strikingly at odds with our desire for actual authenticity, yet the faux authenticity of our political class works, if working is defined as "winning nominations." (READ MORE)

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