November 19, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 11/19/2008

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

In the News: (Registration may be required to read some stories)
Ted Stevens Loses Battle For Alaska Senate Seat - Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) defeated Sen. Ted Stevens, ending the tenure of the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, after the counting of more ballots yesterday gave him a larger lead than the number of votes still untallied, Alaska elections officials said. (READ MORE)

A Skeptical Outsider Becomes Bush's 'Wartime General' - The pressure on Henry M. Paulson Jr. in early September was greater than at any other time during his tenure as Treasury secretary. As he pored over the books of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he discovered that they were about to collapse... (READ MORE)

U.S. Seeks New Supply Routes Into Afghanistan - TORKHAM, Afghanistan, Nov. 18 -- A rise in Taliban attacks along the length of a vital NATO supply route that runs through this border town in the shadow of the Khyber Pass has U.S. officials seeking alternatives, including the prospect of beginning deliveries by a tortuous overland journey from ... (READ MORE)

Guantanamo's Yemeni Detainees Epitomize a U.S. Security Concern - The single biggest opportunity -- and potential difficulty -- for the incoming administration's plan to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, comes from the same group of Yemeni prisoners, who make up fully 40 percent of the detainees still held there. (READ MORE)

China's Environmental Retreat - SHANGHAI -- In February, the Fuan textile factory became one of the first major casualties of China's anti-pollution campaign when the multimillion-dollar company was shut down for dumping waste from dyes into a neighboring river and turning it red. (READ MORE)

The Environmental Motor Company - When is $25 billion in taxpayer cash insufficient to bail out Detroit's auto makers? Answer: When the money is a tool of Congressional industrial policy to turn GM, Ford and Chrysler into agents of the Sierra Club and other green lobbies. That's the little-understood subplot of the Washington melodrama over a taxpayer rescue for Detroit. (READ MORE)

The Lieberman Pardon - Bygones will be bygones -- at least when the future of the Senate is at stake. Yesterday, Democrats decided not to boil Joe Lieberman in oil after all. Mr. Lieberman's colleagues are still seething about his support for John McCain and his more heretical defense of President Bush -- and many were intent on postelection retribution. (READ MORE)

Pirates' Delight - The latest ship to fall into the hands of pirates off the coast of northern Africa is a Hong Kong-registered cargo vessel captured yesterday in the Gulf of Aden. The unfortunately named Delight is now steaming toward Somalia, where it presumably will be held for ransom. It joins the Saudi supertanker, Sirius Star, seized over the weekend. (READ MORE)

Indian navy sinks suspected pirate 'mother ship' - NEW DELHI – An Indian naval vessel sank a suspected pirate "mother ship" in the Gulf of Aden and chased two attack boats into the night, officials said Wednesday, as separate bands of brigands seized Thai and Iranian ships in the lawless seas. (READ MORE)

Obama eyes posts for Cleland, Holder - President-elect Barack Obama is quickly shaping his White House staff and policy - considering former Sen. Max Cleland and Eric H. Holder Jr. for top administration posts and promising governors and world leaders he would pursue an aggressive global-warming plan because "denial is no longer an acceptable response." (READ MORE)

Intel panel foresees lesser U.S. role - The top U.S. intelligence panel this week is expected to issue a snapshot of the world in 2025, in a report that predicts fading American economic and military dominance and warns of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. (READ MORE)

Steele chastises 'country club' GOP - Republican National Committee Chairman candidate Michael S. Steele castigated Republican Party leadership Tuesday for having a "country club" mentality and being out of touch, and said if he is chosen to represent the party, he will help transform it into an inspiring choice for young and minority voters. (READ MORE)

Al-Qaida No. 2 insults Obama - CAIRO,Egypt (AP) – Al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri insulted Barack Obama in the terror group's first reaction to his election, calling him a demeaning racial term implying that the president-elect is a black American who does the bidding of whites. (READ MORE)

Somali pirates hijack Thai fishing boat - NEW DELHI (AP) – Separate bands of pirates hijacked two ships and captured their crews, while yet another opened fire on an Indian navy ship before being driven off -- clear signs that the brigands roaming the Gulf of Aden are becoming bolder and more violent, officials said Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Democrats say no to drilling ban - A top House Democrat on Tuesday said his party will not push to reinstate a ban on offshore oil and natural-gas drilling next year. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland said there will be serious discussion as to the "parameters" to which offshore drilling will be pursued... (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Rick Wagoner: Why GM Deserves Support - Much has been said about the impact of the credit crisis on U.S. auto makers, and whether or not the government should assist the industry during this extraordinary financial turmoil. In these discussions, many critics simply ignore the substantial changes that U.S. auto companies have already made -- changes much like those the critics are calling for as part of any aid package. At General Motors, we have been responding to fierce competition here and abroad by transforming our business. Over the past decade, we have taken tough actions to cut costs, at the same time investing billions in fuel-efficient vehicles and new generations of advanced propulsion technologies. n the cost-cutting side, we have been streamlining our U.S. operations while simultaneously improving quality and productivity. (READ MORE)

David B. Rivkin Jr., & Lee A Casey: Pirates Exploit Confusion About International Law - On Saturday, off the coast of East Africa, pirates seized their largest catch ever: a giant Saudi-owned oil tanker called the Sirius Star. The brazen attack came on the heels of the capture of a Ukrainian vessel (loaded with armaments destined for Kenya) by Somali pirates in September. Humanitarian food shipments into Somalia have had naval escort for nearly a year -- evidence of how much the security of sea-lanes has eroded. Media reports suggest that Somali pirates have already attacked more than 80 ships in 2008. These are unprecedented and dangerous developments. Suppressing piracy and the slave trade, accomplished by the last quarter of the 19th century, were among mankind's great civilizing achievements. These were brought about by major maritime powers such as Great Britain and the United States. (READ MORE)

Holman W. Jenkins: Obama Hears a Giant Sucking Sound - His friends advise Barack Obama to launch a "New" New Deal. Maybe that's because the old New Deal is sinking fast. Mr. Obama's one deeply false note during the campaign was his harping on "deregulation" as if that were the source of current troubles. His real problem is the crack-up of the world FDR built. Barack Obama gets taken for a ride by the UAW. Fannie Mae was a New Deal creation, subsidizing the securitization of mortgage debt. FDR's successors piled on the subsidies for housing debt and incentives directed at low-income borrowers. Kaboom. Then there's the UAW, born in 1935. For decades the UAW steadily traded away domestic auto market-share to imports and transplants to keep its aging membership toiling away toward their golden pensions and collecting wages and benefits twice those of their competitors. (READ MORE)

Thomas Frank: It's Time to Give Voters the Liberalism They Want - It is possible, I suppose, that the pundits are right and the public didn't really mean it when it elected a liberal Democrat president and gave Democrats even larger majorities in both houses of Congress. Maybe America really wants the same nice, reassuring, centrist thing as always. But it is also possible that, for once, the public weighed the big issues and gave a clear verdict on the great economic questions of the last few decades. It is likely that we really do want universal health care and some measure of wealth-spreading, and even would like to see it become easier to organize a union in the workplace, however misguided such ideas may seem to the nation's institutions of higher carping. That was the sense I got when I met last week with officers of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). (READ MORE)

Robbie Cohen: I'm Still Inspired by John McCain - I am a 24-year-old, idealistic, socially liberal Manhattan resident who voted for John Kerry in 2004. I should have been part of Barack Obama's base. Yet for the past four months, I worked my heart out -- 15-hour days, seven days a week - for John McCain. When asked why he wanted to be president, his answer was always: "I want to use the office to inspire a generation of Americans to serve a cause greater than themselves." Sen. McCain, despite the outcome of the election, I want you to know that you've done just that. Your service in Vietnam and Senate record is inspiring enough. the honorable way you conducted your campaign is also a great inspiration, especially your decision to sponsor comprehensive immigration reform; the passion with which you escalated your campaign during the final weeks; and your decision not to discuss the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy. (READ MORE)

Brendan Miniter: No Room for RINOs - South Carolina's Mark Sanford is one of three GOP governors now being widely mentioned as potential saviors of the Republican Party between now and 2012. All are conspicuous for calling on their own party to live up to its principles. Most notably, none have advocated the GOP move to the left. Mr. Sanford is a two-term governor known for vetoing spending bills, pushing market-oriented policy reforms (such as moving his state's Medicaid system to a private account-based model) and criticizing the lapses of the national GOP. "Some on the left will say our electoral losses are a repudiation of our principles of lower taxes, smaller government and individual liberty," he wrote on after this month's elections. "But Tuesday was not in fact a rejection of those principles -- it was a rejection of Republicans' failure to live up to those principles." (READ MORE)

Michael Medved: The Dangers of Premature Obama Bashing - When is the right time to begin bashing Obama? Everyone knows that within the next few months the GOP must fight fiercely and effectively to derail major aspects of the new president's disastrous left wing agenda. But conservatives will make a serious mistake if we begin the conflict before Obama even takes office. The most important factor to remember is that most Americans feel exhausted and weary from a seemingly endless two year campaign and seriously crave a break from politics. Part of the general sense of relief and exultation on election night involved the shattering of an historic racial barrier, of course, but the public also felt gratitude because they sensed that a bitter partisan struggle had at long last lurched, coughed and sputtered to its climactic conclusion. They not only welcomed the unifying, bipartisan tone of both Obama's victory speech and McCain's singularly gracious concession... (READ MORE)

Glenn Beck: 5 Questions: Glenn's New Sweater - Glenn Beck, one of our nation's leading conservative voices, recently chatted with Townhall Magazine in advance of his newest book, The Christmas Sweater, hitting stores this season. What kind of message does your new novel, “The Christmas Sweater,” contain for your audience? My message is simple: Every single one of us has the power to start over again. Outside of Manhattan and Berkeley (you know, in those annoying “fly-over states”) they call it “redemption”—and it’s the greatest gift in the world. For years, I didn’t understand redemption or atonement—I thought they were just words used in sermons to get more money into the collection basket. Then, one day, I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that I’d become a mean, unemployable, alcoholic who was quickly losing his friends and family. I started listening to those sermons more closely, and I decided to change. (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: The Insane Rage of the Same-Sex Marriage Mob - Before Election Day, national media handwringers forged a wildly popular narrative: The right was, in the words of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, gripped by "insane rage." Outbreaks of incivility (some real, but mostly imagined) were proof positive of the extremist takeover of the Republican Party. The cluck-cluckers and tut-tutters shook with fear. But when the GOP took a beating on Nov. 4, no mass protests ensued; no nationwide boycotts erupted. Conservatives took their lumps and began the peaceful post-defeat process of self-flagellation, self-analysis and self-autopsy. In fact, in the wake of campaign 2008 there's only one angry mob gripped by "insane rage": left-wing same-sex marriage activists incensed at their defeat in California. Voters there approved Proposition 8, a traditional marriage initiative, by 52 percent to 48 percent. (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: The Right To Win - Among the many new "rights" being conjured out of thin air, a new one seems to be a "right" to win. Americans have long had the right to put their candidates and their ideas to a vote. Now there seems to be a sense that your rights have been trampled on if you don't win. Hillary Clinton's supporters were not merely disappointed, but outraged, when she lost the Democrats' nomination to Barack Obama. Some took it as a sign that, while racial barriers had come down, the "glass ceiling" holding down women was still in place. Apparently, if you don't win, somebody has put up a barrier or a ceiling. The more obvious explanation of the nomination outcome was that Obama ran a better campaign than Hillary. There is not the slightest reason to doubt that she would have been the nominee if the votes in the primaries had come out her way. As the election approached, pundits warned that, if Obama lost, there would be riots in the ghetto. (READ MORE)

Walter E. Williams: Evil Concealed By Money - Evil acts can be given an aura of moral legitimacy by noble-sounding socialistic expressions such as spreading the wealth, income redistribution or caring for the less fortunate. Let's think about socialism. Imagine there's an elderly widow down the street from you. She has neither the strength to mow her lawn nor enough money to hire someone to do it. Here's my question to you that I'm almost afraid for the answer: Would you support a government mandate that forces one of your neighbors to mow the lady's lawn each week? If he failed to follow the government orders, would you approve of some kind of punishment ranging from house arrest and fines to imprisonment? I'm hoping that the average American would condemn such a government mandate because it would be a form of slavery, the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another. (READ MORE)

Ken Blackwell: 21st Century Welfare Questions - This week Congress meets to consider giving away another $25 billion of taxpayers’ money to dysfunctional corporations. With a renewed sense of urgency, others are forming a line at the Capitol seeking to take money out of the wallets of America’s working families to further support dysfunctional ways. This line now includes cities and even a state, all of which are far more politically significant than handout-seeking corporations. All of this is building a culture of dependency that is rapidly expanding the scope of the federal government, ruining competitive markets, and creating a massive debt that will burden our children and even our grandchildren. This must end now. The Big 3 automakers—General Motors, Ford and Chrysler—are asking Congress to give them $25 billion of taxpayer money. These companies recently had $25 billion earmarked to them by the federal government to pay for retooling and redesigning... (READ MORE)

Mike S. Adams: Debbie Does Malice - Dear Deb, Thanks for taking the time to write me from your personal email address, which I am including here ( for interested readers of my column. I am responding below to each of the three paragraphs of your brief email: I am extremely concerned about the hateful tone of pundits who make money from stirring up needless division and spreading misinformation. Deb, it may surprise you but I agree. That is why I’ve stopped reading the New York Times and all of its local affiliates, including the Wilmington McTimes, here in Wilmington, North Carolina. I have also blocked access to The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and on all of the computers in my home. I’m really trying to do my part. So far, I have no problem with anything you’ve written. The hate-mongering and fear-spreading used by the Right to try to salvage its power... (READ MORE)

Kathleen Parker: Heresies and Other Truths - WASHINGTON -- As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit. Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D. I'm bathing in holy water as I type. To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh. Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that. The choir has become absurdly off-key, and many Republicans know it. But they need those votes! So it has been for the Grand Old Party since the 1980s or so, as it has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners. (READ MORE)

John Stossel: Government "Fixes" Slow Recovery - Is the stock market trying to tell us something? It seems like every time Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson goes on TV, stock prices drop. I can see why. Businesses would be reckless if they made investments that might lead to recovery when they have no idea day to day what Paulson or his successor might come up with next. By my count, Paulson is now on his third plan for how to spend the pile of cash Congress gave him. First he was going to buy "toxic" mortgage-based assets from banks. A few days later, taking his lead from the Europeans, Paulson decided that some of the money should be used to buy stock in banks, both healthy and ailing. Let's put this plainly: The Treasury, on its own initiative, decided to partially nationalize the nine largest banks and many smaller ones. They would be given no choice in the matter on the logic that voluntary participation would stigmatize the participants. Direct big-business socialism had come to America. (READ MORE)

Ben Shapiro: The Never-Ending Bailout and the End of American Economic Dominance - Our political leadership -- folks like President George W. Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and President-elect Barack Obama -- told us that the government would save us. They said that the economic crisis was so dire, so grim, that we needed to allow the government to spend our money to bail out Wall Street. They stated that Paulson, with full authority and no oversight, would be able to right the ship. We were ignorant enough to believe them. Now they tell us that Paulson has exercised his authority recklessly. They say that they want their oversight back. They state that they need more cash for bailouts, and they need more leeway to create new regulatory schemes. Will we be stupid enough to believe them again? So far, the federal bailout, which was designed to jumpstart lending, has cost $300 billion and produced no effect. This is not a surprise. (READ MORE)

Donald Douglas: Recall Specter Hangs Over California Supreme Court - Last Saturday, I argued that the case of Rose Elizabeth Bird, the late Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, who was rejected at the polls in 1986, should be the model for today's Yes on 8 proponents contemplating political options in the event that the Ronald George court decides to strike down the November 4th ballot measure. It turns out, as the Los Angeles Times reports, that the state high court is fully aware of the possibility of an electoral backlash should a majority on the bench overturn the wishes of a majority of the state's voters: “Six months ago, California's highest court discarded its reputation for caution and ended the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Now the moderately conservative state Supreme Court is being asked to take an even riskier step -- to overturn the November voter initiative that reinstated the gay-marriage ban and possibly provoke a voter revolt that could eject one or more of the justices from the bench.” (READ MORE)

Dafydd: Riddle Me This... - The Bush administration has provoked a "furor" by promulgating a new rule designed to protect health-care professionals from being forced to perform or assist in abortions, sterilizations, or other medical procedures that might shock their consciences: “The proposed rule would prohibit recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to perform or to assist in the performance of abortions or sterilization procedures because of their ‘religious beliefs or moral convictions.’ It would also prevent hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices and drugstores from requiring employees with religious or moral objections to ‘assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity’ financed by the Department of Health and Human Services.” Opponents of the new rule offer two main objections: (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Where Is The Change In Clinton Part II? - Barack Obama ran a two year campaign for the presidency with a chant of hope and change and a claim that he is a Washington outsider and that he will change the way things are done. Change is on the way, he has chanted for the past two years. He lamented about the way business is done in DC and how he will change all that. No more business a usual. A lot of people bought this load of bunk but just as many voted for him to cleanse their souls of white guilt or because he is black. In any event, how much change is this so called “outsider” bringing? During the primaries Obama said that Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton were part of the problem in DC. They were part of the business as usual network and electing them would bring more of the same. Then, after he won the primary, Obama picked Biden to be his Vice President. Biden has been in the Senate nearly as long as Obama has been alive and yet this is the best Obama could come up with for “change.” (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: That’s Rich - The Chicago Tribune says, “President-elect Barack Obama would like to nominate former top Justice Department official Eric Holder Jr. to be his attorney general, and his transition team is now trying to gauge whether there is sufficient bipartisan support for him in the Senate, sources close to the transition confirmed Tuesday. … Holder, a well-regarded prosecutor turned corporate lawyer in private practice, would be the nation’s first African-American attorney general. He did not respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment, and Obama’s transition team declined to discuss the matter, except to say that he had neither been offered the job nor accepted it.” Holder is no stranger to the Justice Department and no stranger to being noncommittal. Wikipedia notes that Holder played an interesting part in pardoning fugitive from justice Marc Rich. (READ MORE)

Nathan Hodge: Top General: Reconcile with 'Lower Case t' Taliban - The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan seems to be backing the notion of reconciling with Taliban -- at least on the local level. Gen. David McKiernan -- who is commander of both the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan -- told an audience at the Atlantic Council of the United States that he sees the insurgency divided into roughly two camps: “I like to refer to the Taliban as Taliban with a small 't' -- those who pick up weapons and fight for the Taliban because they are either unemployed, they are fighting for intra-tribal reasons, they are fighting because their family is intimidated, they are fighting for reasons of power, a variety of reasons -- and to the Taliban with a capital 't,' those who perhaps fight for ideological reasons.” (READ MORE)

Confederate Yankee: Prepping to Lose Afghanistan - U.S. forces have turned over the majority of the country to Iraq security forces with little recognition by a media obsessed with the cost of Sarah Palin's campaign wardrobe. There are units that had shed their once-required body armor because threats of enemy action are so low. Some frontline units have served their tours thus far without firing a single shot. Despite a loathing by the media to declare it such, the Iraq wars are effectively over, and we won. The first war was the second invasion of Iraq where U.S. conventional forces deposed Saddam Hussein, killed his heirs, and defeated his military in 2003. We won that one quickly. The second war, an asymmetrical conflict with al Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni insurgent groups, emerged from the rubble of the conventional conflict as a media war, where seemingly random IED strikes and vicious terrorist bombings that kidded dozens at a time sought to create chaos and defeat the U.S and Iraqi will to win. (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Obamacized - The amusing sport of watching lefties say, this is not the Barack Obama I knew. They are such drama queens. And spoiled brats as well. Obama gets practical, they go ballistic. Firedoglake: “I think I am having an aneurysm. Why in the name of all that is sensible would Barack Obama want a Clinton re-tread as AG? Not just any Clinton re-tread, nope, the brain trust behind the Marc Rich pardon. Do you know how many brilliant, talented lawyers with great judgment he has advising his campaign?” I think I am having a hernia from laughing so hard. Wonkette: “The only problem for Holder is that, like many longtime Democratic party people, he was forced to do a bunch of slimy white trash stuff by Bill Clinton back in the ’90s.” But, but, but Bill balanced the budget and made the sun shine… Kos: “Committee chairs are leadership roles within our party, and it’s time for Sen. Lieberman to pitch in. Far-fetched, you say? (READ MORE)

Baron Bodissey: Palestine Press Agency: Hamas Made Up Gaza Electricity Crisis - Our Israeli correspondent Abu Elvis just sent this machine translation of an Arabic language article at the Palestine Press site. It seems the recent electricity “crisis” in Gaza was manufactured by Hamas for maximum PR advantage. The English translation is rather garbled, but the gist comes through. I’m posting it below exactly as it was sent to us. The note in square brackets is mine: “Source in the Gaza Electricity Company: power cuts in Gaza of Hamas play [pretend? joke?] - GAZA — Palestine Press (special) — The official source in the company to generate electricity generators in Gaza that all power plants feeding electricity to the Gaza Strip working properly a detailed and regular news promoted by the presence of Hamas power interruption in large areas in the sector.” (READ MORE)

GayPatriotWest: Barack Obama: New Kind of Politician - President-elect Barack Obama’s choice to tap former Clinton Administration Deputy Attorney General as Attorney General sees to indicate that his campaign rhetoric notwithstanding, he’s going to govern as an establishment Democrat. Holder was a not just Clinton Administration insider, he also brings with him some of the Clintons’ ethical baggage. As Jennifer Rubin details, his conduct in the pardon of fugitive Mark Rich in the dying hours of that Administration was cited as “unconscionable.” Some kind new of politics. While Obama campaigned on changing Washington, Holder has spent his entire professional career in the nation’s capital where he doesn’t have a record (or the reputation) of someone who shakes things up. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Zawahiri gives Obama the Belafonte treatment - If you can imagine Ayman al-Zawahiri singing The Banana Boat Song, perhaps you’ll get an idea of the irony — and the insult — of his message today to Barack Obama. Zawahiri called Obama a “house slave”, which other translators changed to “house Negro”, in condemning Obama’s election. If that sounds familiar, it should: “Al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader used a racial epithet to insult Barack Obama in a message posted Wednesday, describing the president-elect in demeaning terms that imply he does the bidding of whites. The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies. Ayman al-Zawahri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites, that Obama is ‘the direct opposite of honorable black Americans’ like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader.” (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: AQ’s Race Card - It’s a bit of a double-reverse, double-blind poker bluff. Al-Qaeda’s No. 2, piping up at last, calls Obama the “House Negro.” Nice. Gateway with links denounces the racism.* We already knew they were bigots as well as murderers, and what is more interesting is that AQ has begun its campaign of establishing that the Great Satan is still the Great Satan. About the racial slur, apparently stated as “house slave” but translated in some news reports as “house negro,” it’s worth noting that Arabs and Muslims in general aren’t exactly blameless in the slavery game, far from it, and considerably more recently than the United States. Insults from terrorists are interesting only in for they say about the message the terrorists are trying to put forward. (READ MORE)

Greyhawk: Change found in SOFA - The candidate on the SOFA (while it lasts...): "Obama and Biden believe any Status of Forces Agreement, or any strategic framework agreement, should be negotiated in the context of a broader commitment by the U.S. to begin withdrawing its troops and forswearing permanent bases. Obama and Biden also believe that any security accord must be subject to Congressional approval. It is unacceptable that the Iraqi government will present the agreement to the Iraqi parliament for approval—yet the Bush administration will not do the same with the U.S. Congress." (FWIW, me on that on November 7: "This... might not be so important any more, though a pro forma submission might be "doable".") The President-elect on the SOFA: Obama and Biden believe it is vital that a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) be reached so our troops have the legal protections and immunities they need. Any SOFA should be subject to Congressional review to ensure it has bipartisan support here at home. Sounds like someone reviewed the SOFA. (READ MORE)

McQ: It’s not liquidity, it’s uncertainty ... - Why do we continue to see disruption in global markets? Two words: Hank Paulson. As the Heritage Foundation points out: “By the end of September, Paulson was asking Congress for $700 billion in funds he claimed would be used to buy mortgage relates assets from U.S. financial institutions. Less than two weeks after Congress gave Paulson his money, the Treasury secretary switched course and used the funds to buy equity shares in banks. Many of the banks did not need or even want Paulson’s money, but Paulson forced them to take it, hoping to set the stage for a massive consolidation of the banking sector. Then just last week, Paulson shifted gears again. Now he is ‘exploring strategies’ to purchase stock in non-bank financial firms, purchase consumer credit securities, and subsidize mortgage foreclosure mitigation efforts. There are specific problems with each of these policy proposals, but Paulson’s announcement last week crystallized a much larger problem: Instead of being a source of market stability, Paulson has become perhaps the single most disruptive force in the global economy.” (READ MORE)

Cassandra: Beyond the Shadow of A Freaking Penunbra... - Thomas Sowell has discovered the glorious glimmerings of a new right: “Among the many new ‘rights’ being conjured out of thin air, a new one seems to be a ‘right’ to win. Americans have long had the right to put their candidates and their ideas to a vote. Now there seems to be a sense that your rights have been trampled on if you don't win.” In case you haven't noticed the omnipresent and ever increasing references to Franklin Delano Roosevelt of late, this is the source of this mystifying multiplication of rights. As the Princess pointed out many moons ago, it was no accident when The One conjured up the ghost of FDR during his campaign. The continual and overblown comparisons between our current financial contretemps and The Great Depression are no coincidence either. If the Editorial Staff here at VC were more paranoid, we'd be inclined to call Obama's wisecrack about Nan Reagan and seances a Freudian slip. These days, one can hardly turn over a rock without being confronted with the shrieking ghost of FDR blathering on about how we need a second economic bill of rights: (READ MORE)

Victor Davis Hanson: Thoughts, Past and Future - As I wrote in the past, the real issue is no longer whether one has confidence that Obama will prove a gifted leader, but rather to hope that he does. I think most readers wish well for our country—and thus for our President-elect. Here are some more observations on problems ahead. 1) There has to be an end to these serial bailouts—financial, the insurance companies, now cars, next cities and states, and soon mortgage holders (we will de facto punish those who struggle to pay their mortgages on time on homes with negative equity, but reward with reductions those who are late or don’t?). Aside from the fact we are broke and are $10 trillion in debt (a large aside), there is an existential problem here. Without a concept of failure, there can be no success. If we always offer the excuse “too big to fail” to save corporations and firms that were run into the ground by greedy or stupid CEOs, brokers, and traders, or that defaulters always were victims rather than occasionally foolish or even sly, then nothing changes. (READ MORE)

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