October 2, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 10/02/2008

A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

In the News: (Registration may be required to read some stories)
Senate Approves Bailout - The Senate last night easily approved a massive plan to shore up the U.S. financial system, but the measure faces a tougher test tomorrow in the House, where leaders will try to reverse the stunning defeat the legislation suffered earlier this week. (READ MORE)

FDA Takes End Run to Award Contract to PR Firm - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had an image problem. For months last year the agency had been pummeled by Congress for poor inspections of tainted vegetables, drugs and other products. (READ MORE)

A Delicate Changing of the Guard - BAGHDAD, Oct. 1 -- The Iraqi government on Wednesday began assuming control of the U.S.-backed armed groups that have helped curtail violence here, in a high-stakes test for the American strategy to stabilize Iraq. (READ MORE)

Senate Backs Far-Reaching Nuclear Trade Deal With India - The Senate last night approved a historic agreement that opens up nuclear trade with India for the first time since New Delhi conducted a nuclear test three decades ago, giving the Bush administration a significant foreign policy achievement in its final months. (READ MORE)

Senate passes rescue; House in doubt - The Senate easily passed an amended version of a $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill Wednesday evening, but it remained unclear whether the revisions would change enough minds to prevail in the House, which has scheduled a vote on the revised measure Friday. (READ MORE)

Democrats play up Palin's abilities - ST. LOUIS — First, Democrats portrayed her as a small-time mayor from the nation's most remote state, a one-time beauty queen who was wholly unworthy of becoming vice president of the United States. (READ MORE)

Teachers union e-mail touting Obama scorned - An e-mail distributed by a Virginia teachers union encouraged members to bring politics into the classroom by wearing blue in support of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama and simultaneously suggested that the union's voter registration efforts include those "you teach." (READ MORE)

Stocks head for mixed open after vote - NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks headed for a mixed open Thursday and credit markets appeared steady as investors awaited readings on unemployment and factory orders. Investors also digested the Senate's overwhelming approval of a $700 billion financial rescue package, which now moves to the House. (READ MORE)

Obama has many surrogates, McCain has few - Voters in Wisconsin got to see Barack Obama while his wife, Michelle, courted Colorado and Missouri residents and former President Bill Clinton appealed to Floridians. And that was just yesterday. (READ MORE)

Rescue package includes tax relief bill - WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate has sweetened its $700 billion rescue package for tottering financial companies with tax breaks broad enough to save 20 million people an average $2,000 a year in higher taxes and narrow enough to help makers of wooden toy bow-and-arrow sets. (READ MORE)

What They Said About Fan and Fred Article - House Financial Services Committee hearing, Sept. 10, 2003: Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.): I worry, frankly, that there's a tension here. The more people, in my judgment, exaggerate a threat of safety and soundness, the more people conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see. I think we see entities that are fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disaster scenarios... (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Ann Coulter: Biden Secret Service Codename: 'Assassination Insurance' - While Gov. Sarah Palin is being grilled on her position on mark-to-market accounting rules, the press can't bother to ask Joe Biden if he could give us a ballpark estimate on when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president -- or maybe take a stab at guessing the decade when televisions were first available to the public. Being interviewed by Katie Couric on the "CBS Evening News," Biden said: "When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'" For those of you who aren't hard-core history buffs, Biden not only named the wrong president during the 1929 stock market crash, he also claimed a president who wasn't president during the stock market crash went on TV before Americans had TVs. (READ MORE)

Victor Davis Hanson: America's Nervous Breakdown - And the World's - Ancient thinkers from Thucydides to Cicero insisted that money was the real source of military power and national influence. We've been reminded of that classical wisdom these last three weeks. In a manner not seen since the Great Depression, Wall Street went into panic mode from too many bad debts. The symbolic pillars of American monetary strength for years - AIG, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Shearson-Lehman and Washington Mutual - in a matter of hours either went broke, were absorbed or were reconstituted. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed like the house of cards that they were. Even though the U.S. government rushed to restore trust, hundreds of billions of dollars in paper assets simply vanished. Friends and enemies abroad were unsure whether the irregular American heartbeat was a major coronary or a mere cardiac murmur. How strong really was the world's greatest economy? (READ MORE)

Michael Medved: Democrats Make False Promises of Spiritual Repair - For people who feel lost and lonely, what’s the best way to work your way back to home and wholeness? Does it make more sense to rely on faith or politics? In this autumnal season of electoral fever – and of the Jewish high holy days – the choice between God and government significantly divides right and left, Republicans and Democrats. At their Denver convention, the Democrats adopted the most unabashedly liberal platform in the party’s history, including the following remarkable promise: “We will provide immediate relief to working people who have lost their jobs, families who have lost their homes and people who have lost their way.” While one can imagine frenzied Democratic efforts to muster “immediate relief” for lost jobs and lost homes, how, exactly, do they propose to assist those who have “lost their way”? (READ MORE)

Cal Thomas: The Blame Game - When Speaker Nancy Pelosi took to the floor of the House on Monday to blame Republicans for the financial turmoil and charge them with a laissez-fare attitude toward regulation, it seemed like a calculated effort to shift attention and accountability from what Democrats have done to create the current conditions. Fortunately, we have YouTube so Democrats can run from their records, but they can't hide. At a 2004 hearing of the Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee, then-Chairman Rep. Richard Baker, Louisiana Republican, predicted the collapse of Fannie Mae if nothing was done. Baker called for more regulation, something Democrats claim Republicans never wanted. In an editorial Tuesday, The New York Times got it wrong when it accused Republicans of engaging in "free markets-above-all ideology." That just isn't true. President Bush was calling for more oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in his first year as president: (READ MORE)

Heather Higgins: Conflict of Visions - Unlike the days of debates about lipstick comments and flag pins, the past week has been dominated by major issues. The House bailout bill, which we were told early and often was sure to pass, suffered a bipartisan defeat. A spate of stories and polls claimed to show that if Sen. Obama loses, it will be because of racism, particularly on the part of many Democrats. An interview of Gov. Palin by Katie Couric led several pundits to suggest Palin should withdraw from the ticket. Disparate as they are, these events are not unrelated, but rather are all emanations of the great underlying current of this election. Sen. Obama, when he was a relatively unknown underdog, captured the idea that he was the embodiment of change. But with time, as the public heard his comments about bitter clingers, and learned of his affiliations with leftists who damn America, that change came to seem politically too radical and culturally too conformist. (READ MORE)

R. Glenn Hubbard & Chris Mayer: First, Let's Stabilize Home Prices - We are in a vicious cycle: falling housing values cause losses on securities, which reduce bank capital, thereby tightening lending and causing house prices to fall further. The cycle has spread beyond housing, but housing is the place to fix it. Housing starts are at their lowest level since the early 1980s, while there are more vacant houses than at any time since the Census Bureau started keeping such data in 1960. Millions of homeowners owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth. Foreclosures are accelerating. House prices continue to fall, weakening household balance sheets and the balance sheets of financial institutions. But this can stop. The price of a home is partially dependent on the mortgage rate -- a lower mortgage rate raises house prices. (READ MORE)

John C. Whitehead & Peter L. Malkin: What CEOs Can Learn From Paul Newman - History will certainly remember Paul Newman as an icon of modern cinema. But he was far more than just an actor. Paul was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word who embodied the American ideals of extraordinary integrity, a tireless work ethic, a commitment to family, and a deep sense of responsibility to the people who made his success possible. Paul used to joke that he had to keep making movies to support all of his philanthropic projects -- and that wasn't too far from the truth. To millions he's perhaps better known as the face of Newman's Own food products than he is for his superb performances in "The Hustler," "Cool Hand Luke," "The Verdict" and scores of other films. What many may not know is that he donated 100% of post-tax profits and royalties from the Newman's Own company to charities world-wide -- more than $250 million to date. (READ MORE)

Karl Rove: The Tax Issue Still Resonates - Conventional wisdom says tax cuts have lost their political power. "Cutting taxes has run its course," "America's great fever for lower taxes . . . has cooled," and "Republicans relied too easily on tax cuts," are among the assertions I've seen recently from different pundits. One reason offered for the alleged decline of tax cuts as a potent issue is that since 2000, tax cuts have taken 13 million filers off of the income tax rolls. Today, one-third of all filers have no federal income tax liability and nearly 40% of all federal income taxes are now paid by the top 1% of taxpayers (60% by the top 5%). The fewer people who are paying taxes, the fewer people who care about tax cuts, or so goes the reasoning. But don't tell the presidential candidates tax cuts are unimportant. Mr. McCain promises to renew the '01 and '03 tax cuts and proposes new tax cuts for health care, education and business. (READ MORE)

John R. Bolton & Nicholas Ererstadt: The World Shouldn't Fear The Collapse of North Korea - As panicky U.S. negotiators raced this week to save the endangered Six-Party Talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, they faced a major new issue: Who would be calling the shots in Pyongyang when the breathless American diplomats arrived? Kim Jong Il's absence from the North's recent 60th-birthday celebration unleashed a world-wide torrent of speculation and rumors about his failing health. In both Washington and Pyongyang, voices have been raised essentially arguing that a regime crisis is the last thing we should want. But is the stability of an internationally criminal, cruelly dictatorial, nuclear-weapons-equipped North Korea really something we should value above all conceivable alternatives? Nightmare predictions of loose nukes, an out-of-control North Korean military, a tsunami of refugees and the prospect that the South might have to absorb over 20 million impoverished new citizens are keeping some awake at night. (READ MORE)

A Newt One: The Will Of The Congress Will Be Done - Harry Reid stated just the other day that the will of the Congress will be done. That sounds "Rather" definitive to me and has an air of inevitability. It is also very unconstitutional. Therefore, his very statement is grounds for impeachment proceedings against him. Where in the United States Constitution does the Senate Majority Leader get his validity and his finality of this statement "Congress will work its will"? Nancy Pelosi tries to explain it all here... “‘Ever since yesterday's vote, House leaders have been in frequent communication with each other and the White House to find a plan that can win strong bipartisan approval in the House. Many Members have offered ideas to modify the emergency bill narrowly defeated yesterday, and we are discussing those recommendations. The Senate has made a decision about how to proceed and what can pass that body. The Senate will vote tomorrow night and the Congress will work its will.’” (READ MORE)

A Soldier's Mind: Military Spouses And Careers - It’s a well know fact that when a man or woman joins the military and they have a family, it’s often very difficult for the spouse and children, due to the frequent moves that military life requires. For the children, they face having to move from school to school, often leaving friends behind and facing the difficulty of making new friends. For military spouses, it’s difficult to begin a career of their own, also due to the frequent moves. Employers often won’t hire a military spouse, because they know that they will be eventually moving on, leaving the employer to replace them. Acknowledging this fact, President Bush signed an executive order on September 25th making it easier for military spouses to obtain jobs in the federal government. The order Bush allows hiring managers for all federal agencies to hire qualified military spouses without going through the competitive process. (READ MORE)

Ace of Spades: Sunspots at 50 Year Low; Observation in Ozone Hole May Strengthen Case for Solar-Powered Warming Cycles - Warming? Caused by the Sun? Outlandish, I know. Crazy-talk. But stay with me for a minute. Look, Ma, no sunspots! A lack of sunspots has been theorized to translate to low global temperatures which... well, how about that, which we're now currently experiencing. Meanwhile, a solar scientist has done something Global Warming "Scientists" can never seem to do: He's made a prediction, you see, the truth or falsity of which will directly strengthen or undermine his theories. Hmm... making predictions based upon theories, said predictions thereby tending to prove or disprove a theory. Who would have thunk it? Apart from Aristotle, I mean. (READ MORE)

Atlas: DISAPPEARING BRITS WITH SENSITIVE TOILETS - Jacqui Smith, UK home secretary, whose dhimmitude we have laughed at before, unveiled the UK's new identity card - with no sign of Britain (more here.) The UK's first identity card for 60 years has been unveiled by Jacqui Smith - with no sign of the union flag or mention of the word Britain. Instead, the credit card-sized plastic cards carried a picture of a bull - in common with other European Union identity cards - as well as five stars drawn from the stars on the official flag of the EU. You remember dhimmi in charge aka "Home Secretary" Jacqui Smith, the tool who defined Islamic terrorism as being "Anti-Islamic activities" (more here) and kissed the ass of terror masters while banning Jews. (morehere.) Further, while they completely erase a grand and illustrious past and national identity, they bow to Islam, the religion of brilliant human advancement, womens rights, science, freedom - no toilets to face mecca. Wow. (READ MORE)

Dafydd: While Washington Wilts, Soros Schemes - With the failure of the intricately worked-out compromise bill to rescue the frozen credit market, torpedoed on Monday by House Republicans and many House Democrats -- the former on ideological grounds, the latter because they didn't want to be left holding the baggage -- the hard Left is vulturing down from the trees to muscle into the hand. George Soros, who I believe needs no introduction, now proposes his own version of a bailout -- a real bailout, not a "buy out" or rescue -- according to an article by Alexander Bolton in the Hill: “Soros has outlined his plan in an opinion editorial in the Financial Times and circulated a concept paper among decision-makers. Specifically, the liberal philanthropist has proposed that government funds should be used to recapitalize the American banking system by purchasing equity in banks and investment firms.” (READ MORE)

Walid Phares: Let the Dissidents Challenge the Jihadists - At the invitation of the Prague Security Studies Institute (PSSI), a think tank for international relations in the Czech Republic, I delivered a lecture on “Jihadist Strategies against Europe: Background, Projections and Options.” The event was co-sponsored by the Brussels-based European Foundation for Democracy, and the forum was attended by PSSI officers, diplomats and NGO members. It is to note that under the forthcoming Czech Presidency, the European Union may be able to take perhaps more daring steps in recognizing the importance of the dissident segments of the Greater Middle East in the process of opposing totalitarian ideologies. In this lecture, part of my second summer European tour, I called on policy makers to focus seriously on a strategic support to dissidents and democracy forces inthe Arab and Muslim world instead of relying exclusively on the so-called hopeless engagement with Jihadist movements. (READ MORE)

Dr. Sanity: SHARIA - ISLAMIC AND LEFTIST VERSIONS - Once upon a time, I could have cared less about Islam and what any Muslim believed or how they lived--as long as they left me alone. Now I have a strange and compelling desire (my "difficulty dealing with authority" personality, I guess) to organize groups to "Flush the Quran" and write mockingly of the idiotic prophet to whom they have sold their souls and the even more idiotic religious leaders who are steeped in paranoia and ignorance. All sorts of possible non-PC civil disobedience flash through my mind; because quite frankly, submission has never been either a personal trait; nor a common American character trait. Islam may find our lack of faith in Allah disturbing, but they have no magical powers to make me or anyone else conform to their religion unless we ourselves give it to them. (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Bidenisms - A lawyer who doesn’t know the Constitution. A historian who doesn’t know history. The vice presidential debate is tonight. Let Democrat Joe Biden be Biden. Some of his public utterances since being nominated despite his inexperience as a chief executive have shown the intellect of a gnat. The Latest. Katie Couric: “Why do you think Roe v. Wade was a good decision?” Biden: “Because it’s as close to a consensus that can exist in a society as heterogeneous as ours.” Yes, that 29th Amendment: Whatever. Then there’s his helicopter ride. Biden: “If you want to know where al-Qaida lives, you want to know where bin Laden is, come back to Afghanistan with me. Come back to the area where my helicopter was forced down with a three-star general and three senators at 10,500 feet in the middle of those mountains. I can tell you where they are.” A snowstorm forced the landing. Ah, but it was a snowstorm caused by bin Laden’s secret Weather Machine. (READ MORE)

Gay Patriot West: More Good News About McCain’s Attitude toward Gays - The evidence keeps coming in about John McCain’s attitudes about gays. And guess what? It confirms what we already know about this good man from Arizona: he harbors exactly the attitude toward gays we would want from our friends, family, colleagues, employers and leaders. He treats us as individuals and does not define us by our sexuality. Yesterday, when checking my e-mail upon returning home from celebrating the Second Day of Rosh Hashanah and running various errands, I discovered a myriad of e-mails from readers and other friends about McCain’s interview with the Washington Blade, “the first known time a Republican presidential nominee has agreed to an interview with a gay publication.” He cites his friendship with former Congressman Jim Kolbe and former Tempe, Arizona Mayor Neil Giuliano as shaping his views on gay issues. He calls 9/11 hero Mark Bingham a “role model.” (READ MORE)

neo-neocon: Pre-debate musings on the bloodsport of dissecting Palin performances - It’s open season on Palin. Of course, it always has been. From the moment she first stepped into the national spotlight, those who want Obama to win were out for her hide. Before she’d done much more than make a couple of fairly effective speeches they’d pronounced her unqualified, incompetent, dumb, and much worse. They then proceeded to set up a large industry to process every element of her life and to lie rather successfully about most of them. These lies, in the famous words of Winston Churchill, got halfway round the world before the truth had a chance to get its boots on. And although there’s nothing new in politicians being lied about and having to correct the record, in Palin’s case it is compounded by four elements: (READ MORE)

Greyhawk: Speaking Truth to Power - Not surprising news - the San Francisco school board wants to ban JROTC from the city's high schools: “If a school board decision stands, San Francisco would become the first city to remove a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program.” Will they succeed? If so, it won't be due to a lack of opposition to their efforts: “Supporters view the elective course as valuable self-improvement — teaching them discipline, responsibility and leadership skills they say they do not get in other classes.” And who are these supporters? They are actual high school students - who are actually taking on the powers that be, attempting to circumvent the board's destruction of their program by fiat using the power of democracy: (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Merry Christmas! - It’s not a bailout so much as a Christmas tree, festooned with all kinds of baubles. Tax breaks all around, which is fine. Hang on, tax breaks for kiddie arrows and Exxon Valdez litigants? Gimme a break. Still looking for my break … looking … it’s gotta be in there somewhere. Looks like maybe I don’t get taxed more, yet. Heavily laden $700 billion squeeze-play passes the Senate 74-25, goes back to the House. Roundup: NYT: Backers optimistic, John McCain grumpy. “WASHINGTON — The Senate strongly endorsed the $700 billion economic bailout plan Wednesday, leaving backers optimistic that the easy approval, coupled with an array of popular additions, would lead to House acceptance by Friday and end the legislative uncertainty that has rocked the markets.” (READ MORE)

Patterico's Pontifications: That Report on the U.S. Attorneys — and the Horrible Reporting that the L.A. Times Did on the Scandal - Throughout the U.S. Attorney scandal, I defended the Bush Administration against unfair attacks, even as I consistently acknowledged some serious issues with the dismissals. In December 2007, I summarized some of the major anti-Bush points I had made in the spring: “I found the timing of the addition of David Iglesias to the list to be highly suspicious. It certainly raised concerns that Kyle Sampson had proposed to lie to Congress about Bud Cummins. And the buffoonish Kyle Sampson had proposed Patrick Fitzgerald for the firing list — something that certainly suggested that he was looking to politics in making his judgments.” (READ MORE)

Paul Mirengoff: The stakes tonight - Sarah Palin's fans have had a ready response to those who criticize her addition to the ticket on grounds of inexperience: she has, they say, as much or more relevant experience as Barack Obama. This argument has considerable merit. However, it overlooks the fact that over the past year and a half Obama the candidate has been thinking and talking about the full range of policy issues that are expected to confront the next president. Palin, by virtue of her status as a new governor and non-candidate, has not been doing this. It's extremely doubtful that thinking and talking about a wide range of issues counts as experience that will materially assist Obama if he is elected president. But it does give him at least one significant advantage in his electoral quest -- it enables to come across as knowledgeable during debates. (READ MORE)

Scott Johnson: The last Bush Doctrine - President Bush's July 2007 announcement of the regional peace conference that convened in Annapolis the following November provided that attendance was to to be limited to representatives of nations that support a two-state solution, reject violence, recognize Israel's right to exist, and commit to all previous agreements between the parties. Adhering to this limitation, however, would have resulted in a small party. The limitation was therefore abandoned in a big way. The Bush administration even made room for a state sponsor of terror (Syria) at the conference. Syria continues to demonstrate the incoherence of Bush administration foreign policy. Stephen Hayes reports that two days after President Bush criticized Syria as a state sponsor of terror in his speech at the United Nations, Secretary Rice met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem in New York. (READ MORE)

Eugene Volokh: Illegal To Use Nonlethal Self-Defense If You Can Safely Retreat? - As I blogged last year, in a very few states, it's illegal to use even nondeadly self-defense if you could safely retreat from the fight (and even if you weren't at all culpable in starting the fight). There's a hot debate about whether you should be able to use deadly self-defense when you could safely retreat, with most U.S. states saying "yes" but a substantial minority saying "no." I had thought, though, that the uniform rule was that you could stand your ground and use nondeadly self-defense, regardless of whether you could have avoided the problem by running away. But a very few states take the opposite view. In any case, this arose in the case of Michael Mette, an off-duty Chicago police officer, who was sentenced to 5 years in prison in such a situation: (READ MORE)

Smooth Stone: Missouri Governor Accuses Obama of Conspiring to Violate Civil Rights - The Governor of Missouri says openly that Barack Obama conspired to misuse his state’s law enforcement resources to “threaten and intimidate his critics.” We cannot overemphasize the gravity of Governor Blunt’s accusation. While we are not attorneys and cannot give legal advice, “Conspiracy against rights” is a felony under the U.S. Code, Title 18 (Crimes). At present, Governor Blunt’s allegation is exactly that, and Barack Obama, like everybody else, is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. On the other hand, the court of public opinion is entitled to render a verdict before Election Day, and the following accusation needs to be either disproven or confirmed to the public’s satisfaction. We therefore encourage our readers to circulate Governor Blunt’s press release, which appears below, as widely as possible. (READ MORE)

The Virtuous Republic: When Experience Doesn’t Mean a Warm Bucket of Spit: Joe Biden - Palin is getting blasted for “lacking experience.” I hold that experience means very little if you are perpetually wrong on the important issues. Case in point, Joe Biden. Biden opposed the first Gulf War, Star Wars, supported the communists in Nicaragua, and opposed the Trident, Pershing, and B-2 weapons systems. Hell, he even opposed the “surge.” Experience is meaningless when you are wrong on the big things. On Thursday, Palin needs to point out that Joe is more than often on the wrong side of American national security. And. AND…make sure to tie that to the Democratic ideology that America is a force for evil in the world—that is why Biden and the Democrats tend to vote for things that undermine American security. (READ MORE)

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