October 9, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 10/09/2008

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)
Rate cuts raise bigger concerns - Six central banks slashed interest rates Wednesday in the first coordinated rate cuts since the 2001 recession, signaling they think the U.S. and world economies are in danger of imploding from rapidly deflating bubbles in real estate, credit, commodities and some stock markets. (READ MORE)

Bargains await cash-rich China - BEIJING When the world's economies bottom out, the most populous nation will be better poised than others to turn the financial implosion to its advantage, leading Chinese economists say. (READ MORE)

Wall Street set for higher open - NEW YORK (AP) – Wall Street appeared headed for a strong open Thursday after IBM Corp. reaffirmed its profit outlook and investors hoped that the panic selling that cascaded through global markets a day earlier was overdone. (READ MORE)

European markets recover lost ground - LONDON (AP) – European markets on Thursday recovered some of Wednesday's hefty losses after a relatively steady performance in Asia overnight, with British banking stocks in particular enjoying a strong rally in the wake of the government's 500 billion pound ($865 billion) rescue plan. (READ MORE)

Taxpayers foot bill for trip to Hawaii - You're a federal worker whose government is struggling to manage its overburdened checkbook. So what do you do? Head to Waikiki Beach in Honolulu for a paid trip to discuss future technologies for preventing terrorism with international partners? (READ MORE)

The Next $300 Billion - John McCain got the diagnosis right in Tuesday night's debate with Barack Obama -- the economy won't recover until home prices find a bottom. We're less convinced that his plan to buy underwater mortgages at taxpayer expense is the cure this patient needs. (READ MORE)

Dmitry's Diatribe - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev dumped a truckload of vitriol on the United States yesterday in Evian, France (so much for the water). Mr. Medvedev said that after 9/11 the U.S. missed a chance to build a "truly democratic world order" and instead chose to "consolidate its global domination." He urged Europe to work instead with Russia to "unite the whole Euro-Atlantic region on the basis of common rules of the game." (READ MORE)

A Plan -- at Last - It may not look like it, but the world's political leaders are making progress against the global financial panic. The biggest step forward was taken yesterday in London. The U.K. government said it would inject up to £50 billion into eight major banks and others that may qualify. This is a much-needed recognition that a capital hole and the resulting lack of trust among bankers lie at the heart of the global financial rout. (READ MORE)

Thailand in Turmoil - Two years after the Thai military ousted then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the full cost of that bloodless coup is finally becoming clear. Violent antigovernment protests this week have left two people dead, 443 injured, and the country's democratic prospects in jeopardy. The struggle is over whether Thai citizens will continue to enjoy their democratic rights. (READ MORE)

China's Monetary Paradox - China yesterday did what many economists expected it to, and cut both the lending rate and the reserve requirement on banks. The move is intended to serve as a classic monetary stimulus as China faces its biggest economic test since 1978. But a different, paradoxical, strategy might be better: a stimulative tightening. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Wesley Pruden: The kitchen sinks are ready - It's October and time to start throwing the kitchen sink. Throwing the kitchen sink is fun because it makes a lot of noise when it shatters against an opponent's head, particularly when the sink is full of dirty dishes. The dirty dishes this year are mostly from the Obama's Good Time Diner on Chicago's always interesting South Side. However, you're not supposed to criticize Sen. Barack Obama, because only racists do that. Good citizenship requires keeping some dirty dishes segregated. But somebody forgot to tell Gov. Sarah Palin, the Wasilla housewife who knows about sinks and stones and stacks of dirty dishes. Her displays of Mr. Obama's dirty dishes from Chicago frees Sen. John McCain to mine the rich vein of Democratic contributions to the corruption of the nation's economy. (READ MORE)

Ann Coulter: Pull the Hair Plug on This Guy - If Sarah Palin had made just one of the wildly inaccurate statements smugly uttered by Sen. Joe Biden in last week's vice presidential debate, there would have been 3-inch headlines in newspapers across America. (I can almost hear Katie Couric asking me, "Which newspapers?") These weren't insignificant errors, such as when Biden said, "Look, all you have to do is go down Union Street with me in Wilmington or go to Katie's restaurant or walk into Home Depot with me where I spend a lot of time, and you ask anybody in there whether or not the economic and foreign policy of this administration has made them better off in the last eight years." It turns out that Katie's restaurant, where Biden gets his feel for the average American, closed 20 years ago. The only evidence that he spends any time in Home Depot is that it appears that a pipe wrench fell on his head one too many times. (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: The Real Obama Part II - A recent Republican campaign ad sarcastically described as Barack Obama's "one accomplishment" his supporting a bill to promote sex education in kindergarten. During an interview of a Republican spokesman, Tom Brokaw of NBC News replayed that ad and asked if that was something serious to be discussed in a presidential election campaign. It was a variation on an old theme about getting back to "the real issues," just as Brokaw's question was a variation on an increasingly widespread tendency among journalists to become a squad of Obama avengers, instead of reporters. Does it matter if Barack Obama is for sex education in kindergarten? It matters more than most things that are called "the real issues." Seemingly unrelated things can give important insights into someone's outlook and character. For example, after the Cold War was over, it came out that one of the things that caught the attention of Soviet leaders early on was President Ronald Reagan's breaking of the air traffic controllers' strike. (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: The Real Obama: Part III - What about those "real issues" that Barack Obama's supporters in the media say we should get back to, whenever some new unsavory fact about his past comes out? Surely education is a real issue, with American school children consistently scoring below those in other countries, and children in minority communities faring worst of all. What about Senator Obama's position on this real issue? As with other issues, he has talked one way and acted the opposite way. The education situation in Obama's home base of Chicago is one of the worst in the nation for the children-- and one of the best for the unionized teachers. Fewer than one-third of Chicago's high-school juniors meet the statewide standards on tests. Only 6 percent of the youngsters who enter Chicago high schools become college graduates by the time they are 25 years old. The problem is not money: Chicago spends more than $10,000 per student. (READ MORE)

Larry Elder: In Defense of "The Rich" - So, what do "the rich" pay in federal income taxes? Nothing, right? That, at least, is what most people think. And Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama wants to raise the top marginal rate for "the rich" -- known in some quarters as "job creators." A recent poll commissioned by Investor's Business Daily asked, in effect, "What share do you think the rich pay?" Their findings? Most people are completely clueless about the amount the rich actually do pay. First, the data. The top 5 percent (those making more than $153,542 -- the group whose taxes Obama seeks to raise) pay 60 percent of all federal income taxes. The rich (aka the top 1 percent of income earners, those making more than $388,806 a year), according to the IRS, pay 40 percent of all federal income taxes. The top 1 percent's taxes comprise 17 percent of the federal government's revenue from all sources, including corporate taxes, excise taxes, social insurance and retirement receipts. (READ MORE)

George Will: Is This It? - WASHINGTON -- Time was, the Baltimore Orioles manager was Earl Weaver, a short, irascible, Napoleonic figure who, when cranky, as he frequently was, would shout at an umpire, "Are you going to get any better or is this it?" With, mercifully, only one debate to go, that is the question about John McCain's campaign. In the closing days of his 10-year quest for the presidency, McCain finds it galling that Barack Obama is winning the first serious campaign he has ever run against a Republican. Before Tuesday night's uneventful event, gall was fueling what might be the McCain-Palin campaign's closing argument. It is less that Obama has bad ideas than that Obama is a bad person. This, McCain and his female Sancho Panza say, is demonstrated by bad associations Obama had in Chicago, such as with William Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist. But the McCain-Palin charges have come just as the Obama campaign is benefiting from a mass mailing it is not paying for. (READ MORE)

Victor Davis Hanson: Wall Street 101 - Until the past few weeks, the financial panic was still mostly far away on Wall Street. But not now. Car loans, mortgages and college financing are suddenly harder to come by. Millions are stuck in houses not worth what is owed on them. Cash-strapped consumers are cutting back. The economy is slowing. Jobs are disappearing. Who wants to open quarterly 401(k) statements only to learn that everything they put away in retirement accounts the past two or three years is gone? There is plenty of blame to go around. Greedy Wall Street speculators took mega-bonuses even when they knew their leveraged companies were tottering -- and someone else would pick up the tab. Crooked or stupid politicians allowed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to squander billions, as they raked in campaign donations and crowed about their politically correct support for millions of shaky -- and now mostly defaulting -- buyers. (READ MORE)

Emmett Tyrrell: Palin vs. Biden - WASHINGTON -- How is it that an attractive woman who has been involved in state and local government since the early 1990s without much controversy is passed off in the media now as an airhead? Yet her opponent -- long known as an airhead, a braggart and even a plagiarist -- now is passed off as a statesman? I have in mind Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska and Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware or Scranton, Pa., or wherever he now claims to hail from. In September, Gov. Palin sat before ABC's Charlie Gibson and CBS' Katie Couric and was asked any question that popped into their minds or the minds of their researchers. The comely governor responded adequately. She might not win first prize on "Jeopardy," but then no "Jeopardy" winner has governed Alaska. Nonetheless, she is portrayed in the mainstream moron media as an airhead, and Sen. Biden is a statesman. Well, take a glance at Sen. Biden's performance just last month. On Sept. 22, he bragged to a Baltimore audience: (READ MORE)

Scott Bensing: Fail Me Once, Shame on You - In a few short weeks, Americans will go to the polls to cast their ballot. During this period politicians will be making their final push to convince an engaged electorate why they are the best choice. Unfortunately for Democrats, increased scrutiny does not bode well for their electoral chances. Simply put, America stands at the precipice of an economic abyss and the failed policies of liberalism are not the answer. Policies such as taxing hard working Americans will not stimulate the economy. Such tactics further harm our economy, making growth much more difficult. Yet, the next generation of left-wingers that national Democrats are trying to elect, including Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Jeff Merkley of Oregon have a history of opposing pro-growth policies at the state level. While on the federal level, Boulder Liberal Mark Udall (D-CO) has aggressively advocated for economy choking taxes to fund bigger government. (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: The ACORN/Obama Voter Registration "Thug Thizzle" - Systemic corruption of our election process continues. Barack Obama and his old friends at ACORN and Project Vote are leading the way. This radical revolution is taking place in your backyard. And as I've reported before, this voter-fraud racket is on your dime. On Monday, the two liberal groups announced the wrap-up of a 21-state voter registration drive targeting low-income people and minorities in battleground states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Wisconsin. What's wrong with that? For starters, these two groups are militant partisan outfits purporting to engage in nonpartisan civic activity. And their campaign comes amid an avalanche of fresh voter-fraud allegations involving ACORN in many of those same key states. On Tuesday, Nevada state officials raided ACORN's Las Vegas office after election authorities accused the group of submitting multiple voter registrations with fake and duplicate names. (READ MORE)

Kathleen Parker: Put the Gloves Back On - WASHINGTON -- When Sarah Palin said she was taking off the gloves, she wasn't just whistling "Onward, Christian Soldiers." Or was she? In the wake of the vice presidential debate, Palin has trained her moose-hunting sights on bigger trophies -- Barack Obama and the media. In Colorado a few days ago, she told fans that Obama pals around with terrorists. Later in Clearwater, Fla., resplendent in white against a backdrop of red, white and blue, she said, "This is not a man who sees America the way that you and I see America, as the greatest source for good in this world. I'm afraid this is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country." "Booooooooooooo." On Monday, Bill Kristol wrote in his column that Palin thinks Obama's association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright needs to be discussed more. Because hardly anyone ever mentioned it? (READ MORE)

John Stossel: Try Free Enterprise - The bailout passed! Too bad. When so many politicians speak with one voice in support of the biggest act of government intervention in the economy in generations, I cringe. Everybody talked about the "freeze" in the credit markets, but why, I wonder, were the cable news programs that repeated the credit-freeze mantra pausing for commercials from companies trying to lend me money? Ditech and LendingTree still hawk mortgages at under 6 percent. Some credit freeze. Economist Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute looked at the credit numbers kept by the Federal Reserve. He writes: "Although certain financial institutions are undeniably in deep trouble -- difficulties of their own making ... -- credit markets in general have not ceased to operate. Moreover, lenders are extending credit in historically great amounts". Maybe this is why CNN business reporter Ali Velshi broke ranks when reporting on "dried up" credit and said, "When I say 'dried up,' I don't mean there's no mony. (READ MORE)

Walter E. Williams: Lessons From the Bailout - In my more cynical moments, I think that we Americans deserve what we get from our politicians, many of whom can be generally described as nothing less than loathsome. You say, "Williams, that's a pretty heavy putdown." My question to you is how else would you describe these congressmen who are now blaming the financial mess on the failure of the free market? Starting with the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, that was given more teeth during the Clinton administration, Congress started intimidating banks and other financial institutions into making loans, so-called subprime loans, to high-risk homebuyers and businesses. The carrot offered was that these high-risk loans would be purchased by the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Anyone with an ounce of brains would have known that this was a prescription for disaster but there was a congressional chorus of denial. (READ MORE)

Karl Rove: Voters Haven't Decided Yet - Tuesday night's presidential debate was good entertainment. Both candidates were animated and loose throughout a wide-ranging discussion. Sen. Barack Obama did well in Sen. John McCain's favorite format. Mr. McCain was more focused and sharp than in the first debate, though the cameras above him made his balding pate more prominent. Tom Brokaw was often a distraction: Did he really need over a hundred words -- including the name "Sherard Cowper-Coles" -- to ask about Afghanistan? Mr. McCain's advocates were cheered by him advancing the theme that Mr. Obama lacks a record of accomplishment or bipartisanship in the Senate. Mr. McCain also described how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac constituted "the match that started this forest fire" that's engulfed our economy, and nailed Mr. Obama and Democrats for being AWOL on GSE reform. (READ MORE)

Dorothy Rabinowitz: News Flash: The Media Back Obama - Both time and events have dimmed those defining moments that early on revealed the difference between the two presidential aspirants. Not only did the financial crisis arrive but so, in her uproarious way, did Sarah Palin. Tuesday's debate between two candidates paralyzed by caution altered nothing. It was a relief, of course, not to hear about Sen. McCain's record as a "maverick" -- a word that would, in a merciful world, be banned from public discourse for the next decade. It was too much to expect Barack Obama to spare us further recitals of the McCain-Bush connection. The single constant in the eternal election remains the media, whose activist role no one will seriously dispute. To point out the prevailing (with honorable exceptions) double standard of reporting so favorable to Mr. Obama by now feels superfluous -- much like talking about the weather. (READ MORE)

Daniel Henninger: Uncle Sam: Too Fat to Fail? - Three weeks before the selection of a U.S. president, we are witnessing a generalized global collapse of confidence in financial and political institutions. On Tuesday, after another dramatic plummet in the Dow Jones Industrial Average of 508 points, the American people sat down at night to watch the two men running for the U.S. presidency "debate." Foregoing Ambien the first time this nightmarish week, they rose in the morning to learn that the Federal Reserve and four European central banks plus Canada's cut interest rates a half point to boost confidence in their financial markets. Hours later, the Dow in the U.S. opened and fell 250 points. America's financial institutions are being dragged down by its own excess, says Wonder Land columnist Daniel Henninger. (Oct. 9) The rarest coin in the realm now is confidence. Let us posit that John McCain and Barack Obama in their debate or at any given hour are doing next to nothing to raise confidence. (READ MORE)

James Taranto: The Lone Arranger McCain's mortgage-relief plan, and some alternatives. - Breaking with political tradition again, John McCain used last night's debate to announce a new initiative, dubbed the Homeownership Resurgence Plan. As described on the campaign Web site: "The McCain Resurgence Plan would purchase mortgages directly from homeowners and mortgage servicers, and replace them with manageable, fixed-rate mortgages that will keep families in their homes. By purchasing the existing, failing mortgages the McCain resurgence plan will eliminate uncertainty over defaults, support the value of mortgage-backed derivatives and alleviate risks that are freezing financial markets." The campaign estimates this would cost $300 billion of the $700 billion allocated in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, "because the purchase of mortgages would relieve homeowners of 'negative equity' in some homes." That is to say, the taxpayer would pick up the tab... (READ MORE)

John Fund: NBC Explains Itself - NBC's "Saturday Night Live" has lampooned everyone over the years. Just two weeks ago it descended into tastelessness by implying that Todd Palin had committed incest. An actor portraying a New York Times reporter was shown ruminating about Palin scandals: "What about the husband? You know he's doing those daughters. I mean, come on. It's Alaska." As raw as that was, it was passed off as humor and defended by NBC. But the network's reaction was quite different after last Saturday night's sketch dumping responsibility for the housing meltdown on the political fecklessness of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Finance Committee Chairman Barney Frank. Financier George Soros and mortgage investors Herb and Marion Sandler were depicted as benefiting from the subprime boom and its subsequent collapse. The Sandlers were given especially brutal treatment over their $24 billion sale of subprime mortgages to Wachovia Bank, which helped precipitate that institution's collapse. (READ MORE)

Vernon L. Smith: There's No Easy Way Out of the Bubble - Since 2006 the U.S. economy has exhibited the features of a crash following a classic bubble. But the bulge was not precipitated by general stock-market excesses nor by an economy-wide bubble-crash. The excesses were focused in the housing and related financial markets -- banks, mortgage, and insurance companies -- starting in 1998 and accelerating to 2006. This created the mother of all housing bubbles. True, the crash has been exasperated by the increase in oil prices, up from a mere $12 a barrel in 1998, to $90 in January 2008, then a spike to $147 in July. But the economy has rolled tolerably well under that punch, and it does not pose the systemic risk of the housing debacle. Housing is one-third of all U.S. wealth, totaling $19.4 trillion in the second quarter of 2008, according to the Federal Reserve. Almost all of the mortgage debt on those assets will be paid. (READ MORE)

Robert J. Sheller: Good Financial Information Matters More Than Ever - The subprime crisis along with its associated financial and economic problems is due, in good measure, to some failures of democracy -- financial democracy, that is. Many working-class people and first-time home buyers who took out high loan-to-value mortgages with adjustable rates did not have ready access to information about what they were doing -- the kind of information easily available to wealthier people -- and so made serious mistakes. By the same token, many people who bought securitized mortgages had little access to financial advice that might have warned them how risky these instruments really were. Fortunately, this country has a history of financial democratizers who have made the financial system work for the people as well as it does, and who have made the U.S. financial system, despite its flaws, the envy of the world. (READ MORE)

Manuel Hind: It's Time for Banks To Put Their Chips On the Table - The Federal Reserve injected $480 billion domestically and globally last week and it doubled the dose this Monday, injecting more than $900 billion in one single day. That makes for almost twice the $700 billion rescue package that Congress approved with so much discussion last week. Yet banks are still refusing to lend to each other, and when they do lend they charge a record-high risk premium -- which more than cancels out any Fed rate reductions. At the same time, banks have absorbed about $1.5 trillion in cash from the Fed, more than twice the most likely loss in the mortgage markets (about $600 billion). It now seems that they will absorb as much cash as the Fed decides to throw at them. What we are witnessing is what economists call a rise in the liquidity preference, which was the main factor leading to the Great Depression. (READ MORE)

Dafydd: My Fellow Prisoners - In Wednesday night’s debate John McCain made a verbal gaffe in which he referred to his audience as “my fellow prisoners.” Not yet. But that comes later. Because under even the most optimistic scenario, if either of these two boobs wins the election— and obviously as John McLaughlin would say, the chances that one of them will become president approaches metaphysical certitude—we are in a world of hurt. Both are total illiterates when it comes to knowing about the many forces that shape economies. McCain, at least, has admitted his ignorance. Obama has this knowing smile, like Chauncey Gardener in Being There that implies that he possesses some secret knowledge. But when he opens his mouth it is obvious that he too has no idea what to do about the economic tornado that we have all been snatched up by—but which his political allies Barney Frank and company had much to do with creating. (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Obama’s Middle Name Brings In The Feds - A sheriff mentioned the name Barack Hussein Obama at a rally when he was introducing a speaker. Now the federal government is investigating him for a violation of the Hatch Act. I thought the Hatch Act applies to members of the federal government and not local politicians. Seems the feds have it in their minds that the Hatch Act applies. Let us assume it does. How on Earth does saying the complete name of the guy constitute a violation of campaigning laws? Hussein is his middle name. We refer to Franklin Delano Roosevelt as FDR which is using his middle initial. We refer to Clinton as William Jefferson Clinton but somehow it is against the law to use Barack Obama’s middle name. This is an example of your hard earned tax dollars at work. It is also an example of the lunacy that will engulf us if Obama is elected. He already has his Nazis out in Missouri to ensure no one says anything negative about The One. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Just so - An overwhelming desire to live “just so” seems to have infected Western civilization. A woman who immigrated to Britain from Afghanistan has been given £170,000 a year to live in £1.2m house,” according to the UK Telegraph, because the government regulations require that a family with seven children must live in a five bedroom house. And only house available in the neighborhood with five bedrooms was a mansion. “Toorpakai Saindi, who has seven children, has been granted an estimated £400 a week in child and local tax benefits, while her landlord receives £12,458 a month because there is no other suitable property available. …Landlord Ajit Panesar, who is acting within his rights, fixed a value for his Acton property so that the Rent Service – an executive agency of the Department for Work and Pensions - could advise the council what it should pay. It came up with a figure of £12,458 a month. … Her son Jawad Saindi, 20, said although it felt like they had won the lottery, his mother complains that the house is too big to clean. ‘If someone gave you a lottery ticket would you leave it? No. You take what you get given,’ he said. …” (READ MORE)

Bill Whittle: RIGHTS - During the debate last night, Barack Obama was asked if he though health care was a "right." He said he thought it was a right. Well, if you accept that premise, you can ask some logical follow-up questions. For instance, food is more important than health care... you die pretty quickly without food. Do we have a "right" to food in America? What about shelter? Do we have a "right" to housing? And if we have a right to housing, what standard of housing do we have a right to? And if it is a right -- due to all Americans -- doesn't that mean that no one should have to accept housing, or health care, that is inferior to anyone else's, since it's a right? Do we have a right to be safe? Do we have a right to be comfortable? Do we have a right to wide-screen televisions? Where does this end? (READ MORE)

Don Surber: McCain is wrong - “Homeowners in crisis need relief now”? No, they need to get off their butts and pay their bills. On Aug. 29, the presidential race became Republican John McCain’s to lose. My goodness is he doing a swell job of it. Republican Sen. Howard Baker once said of his friend, Democrat Sam Ervin, that every time Ervin calls himself “an old country lawyer,” Baker puts his hand on his wallet. So when it is with McCain’s “my friends” line. I doubt that there are enough homeowners to warrant a $300 billion bailout. If you have a Wii, you ain’t in crisis. If you have an iPod, you ain’t in crisis. If you have a cell phone, you ain’t in crisis. If you have cable TV, you ain’t in crisis. If you have air conditioning, you ain’t in crisis. If you have 2 cars or more, you ain’t in crisis. If you have a PC or a laptop, you ain’t in crisis. If you ain’t in crisis, shut up and pay your damned bills, you deadbeat, you. McCain is 72. He should know this by now. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Snoozer’s Jolt - The debate was a snooze that changed little. Except maybe one thing. McCain trotted out his proposal to have the government get in the corner of people with bad mortgages, and renegotiate to keep them in their houses. While the pointy-headed media types are working themselves into a lather over “that one,” I’m guessing millions of Americans are quietly thinking about their home values and mortgages. As long as we’re going socialist and shoving chickens in pots in this financial crisis, maybe it makes more sense to bypass the Wall Street middle men and just give that $700 billion* to homeowners to keep them in their houses on Main Street, make those debts good. But what do I know. Like I said, my understanding of high finance is on the Neanderthal level, though at last check, the shamans are pretty much just reading sheep guts. News and shamanistic trancing babble re the McCain mortgage plan follows. Hey, I’m not the only one wondering why the radio silence. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Soviet document shows Biden sold out human-rights concerns - According to internal Soviet Union documents from the SALT-2 negotiations in 1979, Joe Biden effectively told Soviet negotiators not to worry about American rhetoric about human-rights concerns. In fact, Biden also told the Soviets that the Senate didn’t really care about European security, but only in giving the appearance of caring about it. Vladimir Bukovsky and Pavel Stroilov parse the dispatch from the deputy head of the International Department of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union for Front Page Magazine: “The delegation did not officially raise the issue of human rights during the negotiations. Biden said they did not want ‘to spoil the atmosphere with problems which are bound to cause distrust in our relations.’ However, during the breaks between the sessions the senators passed to us several letters concerning these or those ‘refuseniks’.” (READ MORE)

Michael J. Totten: The Forgotten War - Immediately following Russia's invasion of Georgia and its de-facto annexation of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the phrase “frozen conflicts” was bandied about so often among the world’s foreign policy commentariat that it briefly became a cliché. Yet there is another frozen conflict in the South Caucasus that few have even heard of, fewer know much about, and even fewer have thought to include in any analysis. This war, the forgotten war of Nagorno (or “Mountainous”) Karabakh, has so far racked up a much higher body count – tens of thousands – than any in Georgia lately. Many more people – more than a million – were displaced. An uneasy ceasefire holds most of the time, but the conflict itself is not even close to being resolved. It’s a Mideast- and Balkan-style ethnic bomb that could easily blow up the region again and tempt Russia with another imperialist adventure in its “near abroad.” (READ MORE)

Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee: I Am A Hollywood Conservative - As are some of my friends. Is the tide turning? I've been involved with the Creative Coalition, a bi partisan citizen activist group & I agree with them: Great actors will always work regardless of their politics. Hollywood worships at the alter of the twin gods of Big Box Office dollars for features & huge ad revenues for successful tv series; political leanings become irrelevant if you bring in the bucks. While I don't disagree with the all too real Conservative Black List, my experience has been that is a selective black list - with many but not all conservatives being targeted. But the time has come for that list to be banished completely. The Conservative Film Festival aka The Liberty Film Festival is growing and some films with strong conservative values and/or Christian themes, have been generating impressive box office revenue. (READ MORE)

Dadmanly: Columbia is the Key - Columbia is the key to the enigma who is Barack Obama, and you won’t find any mainstream media kicking over any stones within a hundred miles of the place. Andy McCarthy, writing at National Review Online, reflects on the real significance of Obama’s abiding radical relationships. (These aren’t “associations,” which suggest that you may know a person’s name or occupation. When you form a mutual admiration and support cooperative, you have a relationship.) Read the whole thing. Here’s McCarthy’s conclusion: “In short, Bill Ayers and Barack Obama moved in the same circles, were driven by the same cause, and admired the same radicals all the way from Morningside Heights to Hyde Park. They ended up publicly admiring each other, promoting each other’s work, sitting on the same boards, and funding the same Leftist agitators.” (READ MORE)

Confederate Yankee: AYERS: "Capitalism Promotes Racism and Militarism" - As Barack Obama's political godfather of 21-years, Bill Ayers has long plotted to use education as well as pipe-bombs to spread his hatred of the American way of life. A reader sent me a link last night to Ayers' November, 2006 speech before the World Education Fourm in Caracas, Venezuela, posted on Ayers' blog. In this speech, Ayers' praised Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his version of Bolivarianism, a blend of South American socialism and communism, and the support of Marxist terrorism, as practiced by Chavez's proven support of his friends in FARC and other terrorist groups. Ayers' strong dislike of American capitalism and self-loathing towards white America permeates this speech as is has permeated every aspect of his academic and terrorist work over the past 40 years. Here's a taste of Ayers' philosophy which has helped shape Barack Obama's worldview since at least 1987: (READ MORE)

McQ: More Obama vetting being done by blogosophere - After all the fuss about Sarah Palin possibly being a member of the Alaska Independence Party, it appears that Barack Obama was a member of the "New Party", if you believe what New party literature said back then. In a 1996 piece bragging about their successes, they note: “Illinois: Three NP-members won Democratic primaries last Spring and face off against Republican opponents on election day: Danny Davis (U.S. House), Barack Obama (State Senate) and Patricia Martin (Cook County Judiciary).” And this from The Progressive Populist: “New Party members and supported candidates won 16 of 23 races, including an at-large race for the Little Rock, Ark., City Council, a seat on the county board for Little Rock and the school board for Prince George's County, Md. Chicago is sending the first New Party member to Congress, as Danny Davis, who ran as a Democrat, won an overwhelming 85% victory. New Party member Barack Obama was uncontested for a State Senate seat from Chicago.” (READ MORE)

Cassandra: The Government We Deserve - Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.- Henry Louis Mencken: There have been times, these past few weeks, when I have seriously wondered whether I am dreaming. If so, the dream has lost its charm and I am long past ready to wake up. By temperment and long habit I have for years steadfastly refused to take the news as seriously as those around me. Perhaps this is a defense mechanism. Or perhaps, having all my life loved books, I just see the danger of becoming too mired in the quotidian. We are awash in data, force fed disconnected and all too often one sided facts. Yet we are starved for context. In many ways living in the information age renders us little better than over watered plants, slowly drowning in that which ought to nourish and inform us. We cannot possibly take it all in. (READ MORE)

Eric Posner: Plan B (C?) - The original TARP idea was to hold reverse auctions for mortgage-backed securities. The government would hold them to maturity or resell them. Whatever one thinks of this plan, it puts relatively little burden on government decisionmakers. However, one criticism of the plan was that government agents would not be able to set the price correctly, whether through the auction mechanism or in some other way, and therefore end up underpaying (in which case the plan would not work) or overpaying (enriching greedy investment bankers). It is now clear that Treasury will take a more aggressive approach. Not only will it buy commercial paper; it will buy equity in banks. It may well be that liquidating the market in MBS’s would not have been adequate, and more aggressive measures are needed. But if one has doubts about the ability or incentives of government agents to price correctly MBS’s, then one ought to have even more doubts about the new agenda. (READ MORE)

Steve Schippert: Where Eagles Dare: A Message For Senator McCain - Straight to the point: There's reason to doubt that oft-repeated pledge of 'supporting the troops' when you've worked for a man who tried to kill the troops. So said Jim Geraghty, who hit the nail on the head. I borrow his words and embrace them as if they were my own. If only our candidate would do so and stop affording a hard core leftist plausible deniability through avoidance. The time has come. It is time for John McCain to bring up Barack Obama's ties to - friendship with - William Ayers. Not through Sarah Palin, not on a campaign stop, but directly, in debate on national television. Obama is daring him to, expecting John lacks the fortitude. John seems the only one who is hesitant to do so. It is time for a direct, open and national look at The Plot to Bomb Fort Dix, hatched, planned and botched by William Ayers' minions during the Vietnam War. (READ MORE)

Cassy Fiano: Women hate Sarah Palin because she doesn't worship at the altar of feminism - Hey ladies! Did you know that you and your hard work accomplished absolutely NOTHING? Everything you have today, you can thank second wave feminism for. Had that never happened, I know I wouldn't have accomplished any of the things I'm doing today. Thank God for second wave feminism, because surely I'm not capable of building my own future. Apparently, this is how women are required to think. Just ask Katie "Boys are stupid and violent" Granju. The real reason women "hate" Sarah Palin? Because she thinks she's the one who accomplished everything in her life, and doesn't worship at the altar of feminism! DUH! God, the horrors. You mean, Sarah Palin doesn't kiss her framed photo of Betty Friedan? That's just so insulting, for her to think that she's the only manufacturer of her own life! (READ MORE)

Information Dissemination: Why They Still Love Americans - You may have heard a rumor that the United States has lost its prestige around the world. Politically, that is true, but when people imply the United States brand has a problem, they exaggerate too much when it is suggested beyond the political. The visit of the TR to South Africa is another reminder that while the world may not like the flavor that always comes from the candy in Washington, the US is still respected in the world. “The carrier Theodore Roosevelt and its strike group sailed from the South African city of Cape Town on Tuesday, having paused there for three days on its way to the Persian Gulf. The ship’s visit was part of an unusual trip for a Norfolk, Va.-based carrier, most of which usually steam across the Mediterranean and down through the Red Sea. The TR was the first nuclear-powered carrier to visit Cape Town, and the first U.S. carrier to visit since the conventionally powered flattop Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived in 1967. According to reports in the South African press, there were concerns until just days before the TR arrived about whether the country’s regulators would issue the ship a special nuclear permit so it could drop anchor in Table Bay. Once it did, the strike group was evidently a hit. Thousands of people turned out to see the carrier and its escorts.” (READ MORE)

J. D. Pendry: Dear Congress, media, assorted Hollywood nitwits, and beltway bandits and pundits of all brands - I am that segment of America you all currently call Main Street. I am as Middle America as middle gets. I have much more than blue collar roots. Well at least you could see Dad’s blue collar, rest his black lung racked soul, when he shook the coal dust out of it. I also did some time on the factory floor in Chicago before enlisting in the Army. There was no community organizer pretending to look out for me. Life is not always easy out here where people live a real life, but most of us wouldn’t trade it for anything else that the rest of the world, including the alternate universes you live in, has to offer us. Your universe? That is where the basic principles of honor and morality were discarded long ago – replaced by self-adulation. You lie to one another; you lie to us and worst of all you, with relative ease, you can look at your image in the mirror and lie to yourselves: (READ MORE)

The Virtuous Republic: ACORN Voter Registration Fraud - ACORN is under investigation in 7 states for voter fraud. And do you want to guess who at one time worked with this far left and corrupt group? You get a gold star, why of course, that mainstream politician, whose pastor praised America in every sermon, Barack Obama. Read about his association with Acorn here. On to the allegations… And from the Ohio GOP (hat tip Tim B.), we get a short history of ACORN and its bad habits: “FOR THE RECORD: ACORN’s Ohio Fraud File - The Columbus Dispatch, 5/9/07: In what might be a Franklin County first, a Reynoldsburg man was indicted yesterday for voting twice in the November election. … [An attorney] said Gilbert was registered in both counties by ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a nonprofit agency that has come under fire in 12 states for voter fraud.” (READ MORE)

Kings of War: To the managers go the spoils… - Behind all the mousse between Carlton-Smith and Gates, there is a fundamental question. Is war winnable? By abstracting the issue (that is, not talking specifically about any one war in particular) we may interrogate it more effectively. So, philosophically speaking, we can say that there are wars that are winnable (like WWII) and others that are not (like the DR Congo, perhaps). The difference between the two types is not solely because of ‘morale’ or ‘troop levels’. There would be something constituitive of each type of war that made it winnable or not; that is, there would be something in the very make-up of a conflict that made it impossible for ANYONE to win, in the sense of conventional victory. This would be quite different from a situation where it was impossible for OUR SIDE to win. In these cases, the lack of victory might be chalked up to incompetence, lack of resources, etc. Are we fighting a winnable war, or not? (READ MORE)

abu muqawama: Negotiating (or not) with the Taliban (whoever they are) - A minor kerfuffle of sorts occurred earlier this week when the Financial Times reported that the Karzai government was engaged in Saudi-brokered peace negotiations with representatives of the Taliban (ed: Which Taliban? More on that later). CNN took the story one further by alleging that “Taliban leaders are holding Saudi-brokered talks with the Afghan government to end the country’s bloody conflict — and are severing their ties with al Qaeda.” The Afghan government has denied that such negotiations have taken place, but expressed hope for peace talks with the insurgents. Contradicting suggestions made earlier in the year that the Taliban could co-operate with the Afghan government, spokesman Mullah Brother vehemently rejected the idea of negotiations with Kabul and there is no supporting evidence that Mullah Omar has broken with Al-Qaeda. (READ MORE)

This Ain't Hell: IAVA’s weak response - I’m sorry. This started as a comment in TSO’s last post, but it took on a life of it’s own and became an entire post. I found Paul Rieckhoff’s response to be one of the most condescending POS ever written. Especially the parts about TSO using an alias and how he can’t respond to every blog that writes about his little band of mental midgets. Is there anyone on the internet that doesn’t use an alias? Where has Riekhoff been the last 12 years or so? Since our contact information is prominently displayed on an entire page, he could have asked TSO for his creds. And I understand that he can’t respond to EVERY BLOG that criticizes his organization, however, not EVERY BLOG was criticizing his organization yesterday. He could’ve even put our admin address in the same email he sent Blackfive in the cc’d box. How hard is that? It would seem courteous since B5 has generally just been linking to us and cut and pasting TSO’s posts. (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: A Failed Debate - Most of the commentary I have seen from the right on the debate last night followed a similar template. There was general agreement that McCain "won on points" but that such an outcome was a de facto win for Obama, who merely had to appear moderate and Presidential and not make a major gaffe. Aside from that formulation, there was also a general sense that the debate was boring and uninformative. As Bill Kristol put it on Fox News, the Town Hall format is designed to elicit unscripted interactions with the candidates, and between the moderation of Tom Brokaw and the canned nature of both candidate's utterances, any chance to learn something about how the candidates think about problems was lost. This is unfortunate. What came across most strongly for me was the apparent lack of understanding of the nature of the economic crisis we face and the lack of any evidence that either candidate have been able to come up with any creative ideas for how to either explain the current crisis or approach the crisis. (READ MORE)

Cassandra: Quiet Courage - This post is dedicated to my friends. We hear a lot about the men of this war - the ones who fight. What we do not always think so much on is the quiet courage of the women of this war. Not the military women, but the wives, daughters and mothers of our men and women in uniform. I think of them as the real "remain behind element", because when our men and women deploy they take a huge part of someone else's heart with them: a mother's hopes and fears for her firstborn; a young bride's breathless anticipation for a lifetime of love; a pregnant mother's joyful expectation of new life, echoing like a loud noise in an empty room since she aches to share each moment with her absent love. The calm practicality of the staff NCO's wife who, married for decades, has weathered scores of deployments. She spends her days pouring herself out to younger wives, steadying them, reassuring them. It is only in the middle of the night that she wakes up alone in bed and reaches for that empty space. And then the tears come, but only when no one can see. (READ MORE)

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