October 20, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 10/20/2008

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)
Pentagon spending growth outpaces auditors - Government reports are not known for plain language, much less candor. But in a report issued in March, Pentagon Inspector General Claude M. Kicklighter summed up what had been growing increasingly evident for years: Defense spending has been growing so rapidly that auditors can no longer keep track. (READ MORE)

Obama gains $150 million, Powell's nod - Sen. Barack Obama announced that he had raised more than $150 million for his campaign in September, collected the endorsement of former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on Sunday and continued to see the kinds of signals that suggest he is positioned for a big night on Nov. 4. (READ MORE)

Economy, politics limit ambitions on Iraq, Iran - Iraq and Iran will top the foreign policy agenda for the next U.S. president, but the financial crisis and Iraq politics are likely to limit options no matter who wins. The Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, has rejected a deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, saying any such decision should be based on conditions on the ground. (READ MORE)

Military report: Terms 'jihad,' 'Islamist' needed - A U.S. military "Red Team" charged with challenging conventional thinking says that words like "jihad" and "Islamist" are needed in discussing 21st-century terrorism and that federal agencies that avoid the words soft-pedaled the link between religious extremism and violent acts. (READ MORE)

Teetering hedge funds fuel swings - The recent wild swings in stocks and other markets, including some of the biggest point losses and gains ever seen in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, are widely attributed on Wall Street to shadowy hedge funds experiencing big losses and forced sales that have the power to move entire markets. (READ MORE)

Iraq's ruling Shi'ites hedge on U.S. military accord - BAGHDAD Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ruling Shi'ite coalition withheld support Sunday for the proposed security pact that would keep U.S. troops here for three more years, dealing a setback to American hopes of a speedy approval of the agreement. (READ MORE)

Consensus Emerges to Let the Deficit Rise - Like water rushing over a river’s banks, the federal government’s rapidly mounting expenses are overwhelming the federal budget and increasing an already swollen deficit. The bank bailout, in the latest big outlay, could cost $250 billion in just the next few weeks, and a newly proposed stimulus package would have $150 billion or more flowing from Washington before the next president takes office in January. (READ MORE)

China’s Growth Is Slowest in 5 Years - HONG KONG — Economic growth in China slowed to 9 percent in the third quarter of this year, the slowest pace in more than five years, as industrial production and construction slackened because of weak exports, a slumping real estate market and temporary restrictions imposed during the Beijing Olympics. (READ MORE)

Obama Recasts the Fund-Raising Landscape - Senator Barack Obama’s announcement on Sunday of his record-shattering $150 million fund-raising total for September underscored just how much his campaign has upended standards for raising money in presidential campaigns. His campaign has now raised more than $600 million, almost equaling what all the candidates from both major parties collected in private donations in 2004. (READ MORE)

Many Holes in Disclosure of Nominees’ Health - Fifteen days before the election, serious gaps remain in the public’s knowledge about the health of the presidential and vice-presidential nominees. The limited information provided by the candidates is a striking departure from recent campaigns, in which many candidates and their doctors were more forthcoming. (READ MORE)

China Enacts Major Land-Use Reform - BEIJING — After days of uncertainty, the governing Communist Party on Sunday announced a rural reform policy that for the first time would allow farmers to lease or transfer land-use rights, a step that advocates say would raise lagging incomes in the Chinese countryside. (READ MORE)

New Doubts Cloud Iraqi Security Pact With U.S. - BAGHDAD — Hopes that a security agreement between Iraq and the United States could be concluded swiftly receded Sunday as several of the leading Iraqi political parties, including some that had negotiated the agreement, appeared to back away from quick approval. In a public statement posted on semiofficial government Web sites, the United Iraqi Alliance, which represents several powerful Shiite parties that back the government... (READ MORE)

As Fuel Prices Fall, Will Push For Alternatives Lose Steam? - Just four months ago, a conference here on electric cars drew four times as many people as expected. District fire marshals ordered some of the crowd to leave, and the atmosphere was more like that of a rock concert than an energy conference. A brief film depicted an electric car owner driving off with a beautiful woman to the strains of "The Power of Love" while her original companion struggles to pay for gasoline. The audience cheered. (READ MORE)

Obama Endorsed By Colin Powell - Colin L. Powell yesterday became the most prominent Republican to endorse Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, with the former secretary of state and retired four-star general declaring the senator from Illinois to be a "transformational" figure who would "electrify our country . . . [and] the world." (READ MORE)

Shiite Bloc's Demands Stall U.S.-Iraq Pact - BAGHDAD, Oct. 19 -- Key members of the Iraqi parliament's largest political bloc have called for all American troops to leave this country in 2011 as a condition for allowing the U.S. military to stay here beyond year's end, officials said Sunday. The change sought by the influential United Iraqi Alliance would harden the withdrawal date for U.S. troops. (READ MORE)

Obama's Carbon Ultimatum - Liberals pretend that only President Bush is preventing the U.S. from adopting some global warming "solution." But occasionally their mask slips. As Barack Obama's energy adviser has now made clear, the would-be President intends to blackmail -- or rather, greenmail -- Congress into falling in line with his climate agenda. (READ MORE)

Racial Preference on the Ballot - While choosing between tickets featuring Barack Obama or Sarah Palin this November, voters in Colorado and Nebraska will also be able to bury the idea that blacks and women in America still need special help to get ahead. In those states, the ballot will carry civil rights initiatives to end race and gender preferences in public hiring and education. (READ MORE)

Nafta-Plus - Barack Obama's promise to unilaterally rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement if Canada and Mexico won't go along with his ideas on labor and the environment has not gone unnoticed in Ottawa. If Canadians are going to have a tougher time selling their goods and services south of the border, who can blame them for looking east -- across the Atlantic to Europe. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
L. Gordon Crovitz: Don't Sell Hedge Funds Short -After a dinner in April with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld emailed the good news of what he learned to his general counsel. Mr. Fuld reported that Mr. Paulson wanted to "kill the bad" hedge funds and "heavily regulate the rest." Mr. Fuld was delighted to hear that Treasury sided with Lehman against hedge funds that were short selling its shares, along with those of several other investment banks. Instead of blaming hedge funds for their prediction that the Lehman share price would fall, Mr. Fuld should have acted on the short sellers' clear warning, months ago, that he was atop a powder keg of mortgage-related securities that would soon explode. Instead, Lehman is bankrupt and Mr. Fuld is a former CEO. (READ MORE)

John P. Avlon: What Independent Voters Want - Independent voters, once a political afterthought, are now the largest and fastest-growing segment of the American electorate. This shift led to the nomination of two candidates who ran against the polarizing establishments of their own parties, while preaching the need to reach across the red-state/blue-state divide. Now independent voters may determine who is elected president. Forty-three percent of undecided swing voters are independents and 47% are centrists, according to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. Independent voters have been on the rise while the parties have been playing to a shrinking base. This is a generational change. There are now six states where independents outnumber both Republicans and Democrats -- the swing states of Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire as well as New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. (READ MORE)

Frank Turek: The Party of God? - Joe Biden recently asked why his Democrat Party isn’t seen as the “Party of God.” He then went on to answer his own question with this stunning observation: it’s because Democrats are “uncomfortable talking about God.” If they would only talk more about God, their party would be seen as the “Party of God.” So if Bill Clinton had only talked more about monogamy, most voters would have thought he was the model husband? This is one of the major problems of liberalism—it’s more about what you say than what you do. If you’re Joe Biden, as long as you talk about giving to the poor, you don’t actually have to do so yourself—you can give less than a tenth as much as the average American and then advocate that everyone pay higher taxes because it’s “patriotic” to do so. If you’re Al Gore, as long as you talk about “saving the environment,” you don’t actually have to do anything yourself—you can have a “carbon footprint” twenty times larger than the average American. (READ MORE)

Mike S. Adams: Effective Interactions With African-American Males - There is a new course being offered at UNC-Wilmington in the spring semester of 2009. Before I go any further, let me assure you that I’m not making this up. The course, called “Effective Interactions with African-American Males,” is offered for credit in both the Social Work and Education departments. Unbelievably, it is offered, not just for senior credit, but for potential graduate credit, too. A brief course description may help readers understand why I’ve asserted for years that social work and education are in a tight race to determine which can become the most intellectually vacuous and least relevant discipline in academia. I’ve reprinted each of the two paragraphs of the course description with a few questions for the professor (Dr. Lethardus Goggins II) following each paragraph: (READ MORE)

Michael McBride: Why Costco is Better than Obama - I love Costco. It’s not the giganto-normus TVs that greet you as you enter. Not the great deal you get on the bazillion pack of AA batteries. Not the discount you receive for buying a super tanker load of super-absorbent, quilted toilet paper. None of those. I love Costco for the samples. It is a great marketing strategy, because before you can expect someone to make a year long commitment to consuming eight gallons of multi-vegetable juice extract, they may want to sample a little swig of it; just to make sure that if nothing else, it will go well with vodka on a Saturday morning. Chicken tenders. Cookies. Cereal. Sausage. Cinnamon rolls. Trail mix. And Dino-nuggets have all been sampled by this household. Some of those sampled items made it home and were thoroughly enjoyed. Yet others, like two gallons of cilantro infused, bohemian mango chutney, should have gotten a bit more scrutiny before they were passed across the check-out scanner. (READ MORE)

Austin Nimocks: Finally, "Straight Talk" From the Homosexual Agenda - We all love and appreciate honesty, and it’s finally coming from the most unlikely of sources—the homosexual agenda. No matter what side of the issues of homosexual behavior you may find yourself supporting, a standing ovation is appropriate. John Corvino, I salute you. You see, back in August, my jaw hit the floor when I read a column Corvino wrote that was breathtakingly honest. You see, for many years, the homosexual agenda’s intentions, goals, and beliefs have been shrouded in smokescreens of “equality,” “benefits,” and “fairness.” Yet Corvino provided a breath of fresh air, telling us what those who engage in homosexual behavior really want: moral approval. Of course, many of us have known this all along, but it’s nice to finally hear about it from the other side. This groundbreaking concession now provides an opportunity for an honest public discourse on what homosexual advocates are really after. (READ MORE)

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann: Joe the Plumber Paves Way for Tax Offensive - The most important political contribution of Ronald Reagan to the American political dialogue was his ability to move the issue of taxes from its economic populist cast into a populist, blue-collar issue. But under Bush, the issue switched back to one of class warfare, as an increasing number of Americans paid no taxes at all and the rates on those who did pay them were lowered. Now a chance encounter with Joe the Plumber has afforded the Republicans the chance to use taxes as a blue-collar issue. The opening Joe provided, as McCain skillfully exploited in the third presidential debate, gives the Republican ticket its first shot at victory since its candidate punted on the bailout bill -- the terrible, pork-laden corporate giveaway that Congress passed and Bush signed. Now McCain finally has an issue. Obama's tax plans and spending programs have emerged as the key point of difference between the campaigns. (READ MORE)

Terry Paulson: Why Electing Obama Is an American Nightmare - If elected, Senator Barack Obama will be my president as well. In these difficult times, I will support him in the few areas I can and major in challenging him where I must, but here is a summary of the reasons not to give him that opportunity. In these perilous times, Obama’s lack of a proven record and relevant experience is a major concern. When you hire anyone to a critical job, you look to their experience. The President of the United States should not be an entry-level position! Experience matters! It’s not a sufficient qualification, but it’s certainly a necessary one. Without a track record of impressive experience, voters look at a candidate’s judgment. That’s why Obama’s judgment in picking friends and advisors remains relevant. His close associations with the fraudulent-ridden ACORN, controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright, convicted influence-peddler Tony Rezko, and unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers invite more questions than trust. (READ MORE)

Star Parker: McCain must state obvious: Obama is a socialist - As John McCain tries to salvage his presidential campaign over the few weeks he has left, he ought to think about the Coca Cola Company in 1985. That was the year that Coca Cola, based on what the company thought was good internal market research, introduced a new, sweeter formula to replace the taste that American consumers had always associated with Coke. The result was disaster. Consumers were unhappy with the new flavor that replaced a product that was more than a drink. It was a time tested American tradition. In short order, Coca Cola brought the old traditional Coke back to market, and in a real feat of marketing gymnastics, was selling both New Coke and Coca Cola Classic. Sales of Coca Cola Classic swamped sales of New Coke, and shortly thereafter, New Coke was gone. Today John McCain heads the ticket of a Republican Party that many Americans have fallen out of love with. (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: New Oliver Stone Flick "W" Limps Into Fourth Place - So, how do you want your biased bio-pic served up? You want it served up as good news as "edged out for first place" or do you want the cold hard reality "fourth place behind Secret Life of Bees". The cold hard reality is where the movie is stuck, and it's not going to get any better. It's heading towards oblivion as the fourth place movie in a soft week. “Movie-goers elected a "W,'' but it was Mark Wahlberg, not George W. Bush. Wahlberg's action flick "Max Payne'' debuted with $18 million to outdo Oliver Stone's film biography of George W. Bush, according to studio estimates Sunday. Stone's "W.'' actually ran fourth, opening with $10.6 million to finish behind the family comedy ``Beverly Hills Chihuahua'' (No. 2 with $11.2 million) and the chick flick "The Secret Life of Bees'' (No. 3 with $11.1 million).” (READ MORE)

Dafydd: The Howl of Powell; Does It Matter? - In a move somewhat unexpected, though broadly hinted at for several days, Colin Powell, the first secretary of state of President George W. Bush, endorsed Barack H. Obama today -- while also praising John S. McCain: “Colin Powell, a Republican who was President Bush's first secretary of state, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president Sunday and criticized the tone of Republican John McCain's campaign. The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said either candidate, both of them senators, is qualified to be commander in chief. But he said Obama is better suited to handle the nation's economic problems as well as help improve its standing in the world.” Some might think race trumped politics, but I disagree: Powell has always been a Lincoln Chafee Republican, and McCain is just too far to the right for his taste. (Actually, in the quotation above, Powell seems to be saying he endorses Obama because Obama is younger than McCain!) (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Kristol clear - His New York Times column: What part of “We, the people” don’t you understand? Bill Kristol got off a good column today. He took on Peggy Noonan’s sniveling: “In the end the Palin candidacy is a symptom and expression of a new vulgarization in American politics.” Kristol calls it the twaddle that it is. Elites think they know better than the people, but he finds a common sense among the people, who are the heart of American politics, that is missing among his fellow elites. Underestimate Americans at your own peril. Wrote Kristol: “In the 1930s, the American people didn’t fall — unlike so many of their supposed intellectual betters — for either fascism or Communism. Since World War II, the American people have resisted the temptations of isolationism and protectionism, and have turned their backs on a history of bigotry.” (READ MORE)

GayPatriotWest: Chris Dodd Fails to Disclose Dubious Dealings - While this blog has been particularly harsh on Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, for his responsibility for the mortgage meltdown, he at least acknowledged the need for regulation of the government-supported enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the current Congress. Still, the Massachusetts Democrat remains certainly one of the leading culprits of the collapse. A Senator, however, perhaps holds the distinction of being the legislator the most to blame for the current catastrophe. Like Frank, Connecticut’s Chris Dodd, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, refuses to admit his role in the crisis. Indeed, as the Hartford Courant’s Kevin Rennie reports, the Democrat won’t even “release documents from his $800,000 in sweetheart mortgages from subprime titan Countrywide Financial.“ A loan he received while he served on the very Senate committee overseeing the lender. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Watercooler Buddies - Almost sounds like palling. Gateway wanders over to the University of Illinois Chicago and finds a hotbed of dangerous radicalism … with Bill Ayers and Obama in offices on the same floor of the same building for years. Small neighborhood, Gateway notes. WPost/ABC poll finds 60 percent of Americans don’t care about Ayers. Maybe because 90 percent of the nation’s major media organizations have been telling them not to. They’ve barely been allowed to know about the dangerous radicalism, the murder, etc. I bet most of them don’t even have a clue about the lying. I mean Obama’s. But then there’s major media orgs, which aren’t just looking the other way. They’re scrubbing like mofos. Patterico on the LA Times re Obama’s career launch: (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: ACORN pressured canvassers to generate registrations - Most sales organizations pressure their staffs in order to boost production. From the lowliest telemarketing firms to the highest-end car dealerships, management uses both positive and negative incentives to get more product out the door. One of the best examples of this in film came in Glengarry Glen Ross, the seminal David Mamet film that served as an updated version of Death of a Salesman. Of course, in sales organizations, this approach makes some sort of sense, even though it occasionally results in abuse, as Mamet starkly portrays in this film. Applying these principles to other efforts makes less sense, especially when working in activities that involve public trust. ACORN apparently took a page from Mamet in its high-pressure tactics in boosting voter registrations, according to its workers: (READ MORE)

Chickenhawk Express: New Revelations in the Obama Ayers Saga - Geez - stay away from the computer for a couple of days and the poo hits the fan... The connections are just damning and prove that Obama is a liar. Yes I said it Obamatrons - a LIAR. Now for those of us that have followed the saga of the Empty Suit the liar title is nothing new - it's just more of the same from the golden throat of the biggest fraud that has ever been thrust upon the lemmings in America courtesy of the lapdog media. Yet - the silence is deafening... I mean - what is more important? The divorce records of a hard working America who dared question Senator Government or the background/associations and generally freaky world of a man who has already been installed as the leader of the free world? Rather than rehash some of the great sleuthing from the blogosphere which should shame the media into the next milleneum, I'm going to highlight the points and link directly to the sources... (READ MORE)

Knee Depp in the Hooah!: Is this the unity that Powell talked about? - Powell comes out in support of Obama and one of his arguments is that we need “unity” as a Country. I guess he thinks that Obama is the one to supply us with this unity. General Powell, why don’t you ask Joe the Plumber and anyone else who has dared to question the Obama camp about anything, what kind of unity is offered to them. It’s called threats, intimidation and public defamation. I have experienced this myself, publicly, when we dared question Obama’s ability to lead the military. Death threats, death wishes on my soldier, and public attacks on me and my family. I feel the love. No, actually what I feel is a forced facade of “unity” in the name of strong armed political bullying. It’s getting scary. Unity in a democracy does not come from everyone falling in line and following a leader out of fear or intimidation. Unity in a democracy only comes when our freedoms are upheld above the thin skinned complaints of a public servant. (READ MORE)

Confederate Yankee: More Totalitarian Than You - For the longest time, "Politics" and "Media" were two distinct categories that I had to organize posts on this blog. I can't precisely recall when it occurred, but at some point during this Presidential campaign the dividing line that existed between the two categories became so blurred as to become meaningless, as media bias has become overtly political in nature. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the political hatchet job being carried out against Joe Wurzelbacher in the past week. Wurzelbacher was playing football with his son in his front yard when Barack Obama made an unscheduled stop in Toledo, Ohio to stump door-to-door for votes. Obama came up to Joe, and Joe told Obama that his tax plan was going to charge him more. Obama infamously answered, "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." (READ MORE)

Neptunus Lex: A Breath of Fresh Air - Many of us were ambivalent about last spring’s decision in the pol-mil ranks to eschew such words as “Islamist” and “jihadi” when discussing our enemies in the war on terror. Like most policy pronouncements, it had at its core a sensible rationale: The really bad actors in the current global struggle are at most a tiny fraction of the Islamic ummah, even if tiny fractions on a population of 1.2 billion people adds up to a lot of opportunities for realistic marksmanship training. Did it really make sense to alienate the other 99.9% by declaring that their core philosophy of life was the center of gravity in our assault on terrorism? And “jihad” is a word with textured connotations. It can of course mean the religious requirement for Muslims to take arms everywhere against “oppression”, “injustice” and “occupation” brought by non-believers in any co-confessional land. (READ MORE)

McQ: In the end it’s all about the GOTV efforts - After all the rhetoric has died away, after all the charges and counter-charges have been leveled, after each respective camp withdraws to its election eve poll watching venues, it’s all about Getting Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts. And if you’re a fan of the Republican candidate, you can’t be very happy about that particular fact. Unlike 2000 and 2004 when Karl Rove organized surprisingly effective GOTV efforts, it appears the Democrats have learned and improved upon the Rove model. That’s not to say they’re not uneasy about the final effort, they are. Democrats are concerned somewhat with the "Bradley effect" on election day when it is assumed that some percentage of Democratic voters, in the privacy of the voting booth, will refuse to pull the lever for a black man. Although they’ve attempted to play this down, it will be a factor. (READ MORE)

Political Vindication: Liberal Intolerance #81: McCain Supporter Attacked in Manhattan - What is it with Manhattan? Does Keith Olbermann live there? News breaks of another angry supporter, but this time it’s not some fictitious McCain supporter yelling “Kill him!” It’s another Democrat unhinged and physically attacking a person who happens to disagree with them. That’s called liberal intolerance. “While the Democrat-leaning media continues to scare undecided voters with bedtime stories about some mythical angry McCain supporter whom nobody has seen, here is a real district attorney’s complaint documenting an unprovoked assault by an enraged Democrat against a McCain volunteer in midtown Manhattan: ‘Defendant grabbed the sign [informant] was holding, broke the wood stick that was attached to it, and then struck informant in informant’s face thereby causing informant to sustain redness, swelling, and bruising to informant’s face and further causing informant to sustain substantial pain.’” (READ MORE)

Political Pistachio: I am a Conservative . . . - I am a Conservative, rather than a Republican, because I believe that innocent lives should be saved, and guilty, murderous lives should be removed from society; I am a Conservative because war is horrid - but has been necessary to create America, end slavery, and stop genocide; I am a Conservative because success should be congratulated, not punished with Marxist redistribution of wealth; I am a Conservative because I understand that the criminal element prefers their victims to be unarmed, and I refuse to be one of those victims; I am a Conservative because I believe the founding fathers knew what they were doing when they created this nation, and like them I am willing to do whatever it takes to preserve liberty; I am a Conservative because I believe we should be good stewards of our environment, but not to the point of extremism... (READ MORE)

Shrinkwrapped: On Authority and Authoritarianism - I am always impressed that there is such a large market for books that offer advice. There are books that promise to unlock the secrets to becoming rich, books that promise to help you find a lover or spouse, books that promise to make you happy, books (the number of which probably dwarf any other genre) promising to help you lose weight, and myriad other topics of concern; it seems wherever there is a human problem there is an author willing and able to tell you how to fix it. The lucky authors get rich telling others what to do because there is a ready population of people willing and ready to cede some of their own agency to an authority figure. In our modern, increasingly complex world, it is absolutely necessary that we cede some agency to appropriate authorities but because the roots of our need for a reassuring authority run so deep, we must always be cognizant of the risk that between our needs and the authority's ambitions: (READ MORE)

J. D. Pendry: Spreadin’ the wealth? - Or, is it spreadin’ the fertilizer? Joe the plumber reinforced some things for me this week. Some things that are important to me personally and to our country. One of them is the death of objective honest journalism in America. Maybe I was just fooled into believing most of my life that such a thing ever existed here. The hammer and sickle or crescent moon media is not nearly as focused as ours is on achieving their political objectives. When a closed group of people have the power to sway public opinion to support their ideology while leaving them blind to important facts, it is very dangerous. I hereby declare media integrity as the national oxymoron of the United States. In that assessment, I have to include Fox also, especially Brit Hume’s “all-stars’” assessment of the last presidential debate. (READ MORE)

Have an interesting post or know of a "must read?" Then send a trackback here and let us all know about it. Or you can send me an email with a link to the post and I'll update the Recon.

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