November 26, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 11/26/2008

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)
U.S. Moves to Revive Consumer Lending - The government said yesterday that it will deploy up to $800 billion to make it cheaper for Americans to get a home mortgage, take out a car loan or borrow money through a credit card, as the government's intervention in the financial system expands to directly address the impact of the credit... (READ MORE)

Gates Said To Be Near A Deal to Keep Post - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is close to finalizing an agreement to remain at the Pentagon for at least the first year of Barack Obama's presidency, providing the new commander in chief with a Republican in his Cabinet and continuity for a military waging two wars, according to Democrats... (READ MORE)

Thai Protesters Seize Part of Airport - BANGKOK, Nov. 25 -- Activists trying to bring down Thailand's government seized key parts of the capital's main airport Tuesday, forcing authorities to cancel all departing flights and dealing a further blow to the country's reeling tourism industry. (READ MORE)

Obama Offers Recovery Proposals - In his second news conference in as many days, President-elect Barack Obama continued his assertive approach to the nation's financial woes, naming two more top economic officials and promoting a broad array of recovery plans he intends to push upon entering the White House in January. (READ MORE)

Iraqi parliament delays vote on US pact - BAGHDAD – Iraq's parliament speaker says that a crucial parliamentary vote on a proposed security agreement with the United States has been delayed until Thursday. (READ MORE)

Official says sunken 'pirate' ship was Thai boat - NEW DELHI – The pirate "mother ship" sunk last week by the Indian navy was actually a Thai fishing trawler seized hours earlier by pirates, a maritime agency said Wednesday. The Indian navy defended its actions, saying it fired in self-defense. (READ MORE)

Karzai says US, NATO created 'parallel' government - KABUL, Afghanistan – President Hamid Karzai criticized the U.S. and other foreign countries for creating a "parallel government" in the countryside during a blunt overview of Afghanistan's problems before a U.N. Security Council delegation. (READ MORE)

Iran says it now runs more than 5,000 centrifuges - TEHRAN, Iran – Iran has more than 5,000 centrifuges to process uranium at its enrichment plant, its nuclear chief said Wednesday, in the country's latest defiance of U.N. demands that it halt the controversial program. (READ MORE)

Court unseals Hatfill anthrax documents - The U.S. District Court for Washington unsealed several search warrants Tuesday served on Steven Hatfill and Peck Chegne, with whom Hatfill shared an apartment during the first year of the investigation into the 2001 anthrax mailings. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Aaron David Miller: Start With Syria - President-elect Barack Obama will be bombarded with recommendations about how to approach Arab-Israeli peacemaking. One piece of advice he should not take is to make Israeli-Palestinian peace his top priority. There's no deal there. But there is a real opportunity for an Israeli-Syrian agreement, and Obama should go for it. There are, of course, strong arguments for making Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking a priority. The Palestinians deserve a state of their own, and an Israeli-Palestinian agreement is not just key to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace but to Israel's long-term survival as a Jewish democratic state. A new president eager to repair America's image abroad may be tempted to try for an agreement, but he should avoid the sirens' call. No conflict-ending agreement is possible now, nor is one likely to be anytime soon, and the stakes are too high for America to harbor illusions that would almost certainly lead to yet another failure. (READ MORE)

Jack Goldsmith: No New Torture Probes - There has been much speculation about how the Obama administration will deal with what many view as the Bush administration's harsh, abusive and illegal interrogation program. Some have called for an investigation by Congress or the Justice Department, possibly leading to criminal sanctions. Others think such investigations are infeasible or would smack of political retribution, proposing instead that a bipartisan commission look into the matter. These are all bad ideas. They would bring little benefit, and they would further weaken the Justice Department and the CIA in ways that would compromise our security. (I worked at the Justice Department from 2003 to 2004 on issues that probably would be subject to new investigations, so readers should consider my views accordingly.) To begin with, all of the relevant facts -- who approved what, what the legal opinions say and what actually happened -- are well known inside the government. (READ MORE)

Michael Medved: Big Lies that Poison Thanksgiving and Subvert Our Sense of Honor - For some of Barack Obama's most ardent supporters, his resounding victory represented the first sign of redemption for a wretched, guilty nation with a 400-year history of oppression. Filmmaker Michael Moore, for instance, considered election night "a stunning, whopping landslide of hope in a time of deep despair. In a nation that was founded on genocide and then built on the backs of slaves, it was an unexpected moment, shocking in its simplicity." Actually, Mr. Moore's summary of America's origins is a wholly expected distortion, shocking in its mendacity. Like so many other revered figures in the worlds of entertainment and academia, the portly provocateur thoughtlessly recycles the darkest assumptions about the generous nation that provides his privileged, prosperous life. (READ MORE)

Terence Jeffrey: Drafting Ken Blackwell - After Ken Blackwell graduated from college, he did a short stint with the Dallas Cowboys, but soon decided playing professional football was not his destiny. Now some longtime Republican activists are seeking to draft Blackwell, Ohio's former secretary of state, into the race for national Republican Party chairman. They believe it is his destiny to lead the GOP. Blackwell is seriously considering running for the position. "You could not find a person better suited to the job," said one of the activists who spoke to me on background. First, these activists argue, Blackwell knows how to win elections. He started his political career back in the 1970s in his hometown of Cincinnati, where he was initially elected a city council member and then mayor. (He later served under the senior President Bush as under secretary of housing and urban development and as ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission.) (READ MORE)

Ken Blackwell: GOP Strength Rests in Its Core Beliefs - "It's that time again. Throngs of delirious Democrats are invading the streets and suites of Washington to celebrate their victories in November. "Across town, members of that other party gather in hushed bands, mourning their loss of power, employment and staff. The more prolific have taken the op-ed pages of every newspaper as their pillories, to flog themselves for their defeat. "As a member of that other party, enough is enough. It is time to look forward, not back." I wrote those words for a column in February 1993. Back then, the future of the GOP could not have looked dimmer. The party needed to refocus and recharge. The following year Republicans took control of both chambers of Congress and state legislatures across the country. Now, after two disastrous election cycles, it is clear the Republican Party must refocus again. (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: Ivan and Boris Again - There is an old Russian fable, with different versions in other countries, about two poor peasants, Ivan and Boris. The only difference between them was that Boris had a goat and Ivan didn't. One day, Ivan came upon a strange-looking lamp and, when he rubbed it, a genie appeared. She told him that she could grant him just one wish, but it could be anything in the world. Ivan said, "I want Boris' goat to die." Variations on this story in other countries suggest that this tells us something about human beings, not just Russians. It may tell us something painful about many Americans today, when so many people are preoccupied with the pay of corporate CEOs. It is not that the corporate CEOs' pay affects them so much. If every oil company executive in America agreed to work for nothing, that would not be enough to lower the price of a gallon of gasoline by a dime. (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: Playing Games at Gitmo - The human rights crowd is right: Life is hard for a Guantanamo Bay detainee. The deprivation is unspeakable. According to the facility's "cultural adviser," their brains have not been "stimulated" enough. So this Thanksgiving, America is drawing up plans to provide the 250 or so suspected jihadists at the "notoriously Spartan" detention camp with basic sustenance including, as reported by the Miami Herald, movie nights, art classes, English language lessons and "Game Boy-like" electronic devices. Next up: Wii Fit, Guitar Hero, Sudoku, People magazine and macrame. Anything less would be uncivilized. On a deadly serious note, the detainees aren't the only ones playing games at Gitmo. Some top legal advisers and supporters of Barack Obama, whose name detainees chanted on election night, are now rethinking the president-elect's absolutist campaign position on shutting the center down and flooding our mainland courts with every last enemy combatant designee. (READ MORE)

Kathleen Parker: Bailing Out Ignorance - WASHINGTON -- So much for the wisdom of The People. A new report from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) on the nation's civic literacy finds that most Americans are too ignorant to vote. Out of 2,500 American quiz-takers, including college students, elected officials and other randomly selected citizens, nearly 1,800 flunked a 33-question test on basic civics. In fact, elected officials scored slightly lower than the general public with an average score of 44 percent compared to 49 percent. Only 0.8 percent of all test-takers scored an "A." America's report card may come as little surprise to fans of Jay Leno's man-on-the-street interviews, which reveal that most people don't know diddly about doohickey. Still, it's disheartening in the wake of a populist-driven election celebrating joes-of-all-trades to be reminded that the voting public is dumber than ever. (READ MORE)

Walter E. Williams: Trade versus Protectionism - There's a growing anti-trade sentiment in our country. Much of the dialogue is grossly misinformed. Let's try to untangle it a bit with a few questions and observations. First, does the U.S. trade with Japan and England? Put another way, is it members of the U.S. Congress trading with their counterparts in the Japanese Diet or the English Parliament? An affirmative answer is pure nonsense. When I purchased my Lexus, I had nothing to do with either the Japanese Diet or the U.S. Congress. Through an intermediary, a Lexus dealer, I dealt with Toyota Motor Corporation. While it might be convenient to speak of one country trading with another, such aggregation can conceal a lot of evil, particularly when people call for trade barriers. For example, what would be a moral case for third-party interference, by either the Japanese Diet or the U.S. Congress, with an exchange between me and Toyota Motor Corporation? (READ MORE)

Brent Bozell III: Liberalism = Genius? - If there is a dreadfully overused word in the giddy countdown to the Obama inauguration, it is "smart." Not just "smart," but also its stronger cousins like "brilliant" and "genius." These words have been offered shamelessly for nearly every person assigned a role by President-Elect Obama. They are assembling an "all-star cabinet." This was not an honor for those having attended all the right schools, but a tribute to people who have all the "right" ideas. Liberals are smart because they're liberals. Conservative beliefs are honed from having been dropped on your head as an infant. Last week, Newsweek almost comedically compared Obama to Lincoln, hailing the strength of his "humility." How could anyone stay humble with all these hyper-flattering cover stories about whether you're Lincoln or you're Franklin Roosevelt? Nobody asked: But what if he turns out to be another ineffective Jimmy Carter? Then again, not to worry. (READ MORE)

Kathryn Jean Lopez: Mormons in the Crosshairs - Mormons have a reason to be nervous. I didn't fully appreciate it two years ago, when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first came under an intense political spotlight. In 2006, Mormon officials had begun making the media rounds, prepping for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's expected try for the Republican presidential nomination. This protective measure stood out. No evangelical contingents were giving theological primers in anticipation of Mike Huckabee's run. Few officials were warning Catholics to not do as Rudy Giuliani does on abortion before his run. Why did the Mormons need to do advance work? We quickly saw why. Many members of this young, uniquely American church understandably did not desire the intense scrutiny that Romney's run would bring. It didn't take long, as it turned out, for journalists and popular blogs to raise questions about undergarments, theology and points of history. (READ MORE)

Frank Turek: The Preposterous Premise for Gay Marriage - After the passage of Prop 8 in California, homosexuals are still howling that they don’t have “equal rights.” Hopefully, the California Supreme Court will respect the equal rights of voters by affirming Prop 8 because the howls of homosexuals are false. The truth is every person in America already has equal marriage rights! We’re all playing by the same rules—we all have the same right to marry any non-related adult of the opposite sex. Those rules do not deny anyone “equal protection of the laws” because the qualifications to enter a marriage apply equally to everyone—every adult person has the same right to marry. Homosexuals want the court to believe that because of their sexual desires they are a special class of persons that is being discriminated against. In other words, they think that sexual desires guarantee people special legal rights. (READ MORE)

Ben Shapiro: Unions Fight to End American Capitalism - In the 1979 film Norma Rae, Academy Award-winner Sally Field, playing a textile worker, chats with Ron Liebman, a union organizer. I know the unions the only way were gonna get our own voice, make ourselves better, he tells her. She nods. I guess thats why I push, she says. Todays labor unions arent pushing for a voice. Theyre pushing for better benefits; theyre pushing for higher wages; theyre pushing for more retirement pay. And theyre pushing American-style capitalism over a cliff. While Americas trade unions are hardly conspiring to bring capitalism down about our ears, trade union leadership couldnt care less about the current economic crisis. Theyre still pushing for their perks. The union leadership is no longer in business to create decent jobs -- the union leadership is in business to boost its own power. Take the Big Three automakers, for example. (READ MORE)

Paul Weyrich: Feds Get It Wrong Again: Ethanol, a Troublesome Substitute for Oil, Natural Gas, Coal, and Nuclear Power - Last Monday the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) increased the amount of renewable automobile fuels required to be sold in the United States next year from 7.8% to 10.2% of the 138.5 billion gallons of gasoline consumed. The vast majority of this mandate requires higher levels of ethanol in gasoline. The higher standard is required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), a law that increases the use of renewable fuels each year in order to reach a goal of 36 billion gallons by 2022. Supposedly the use of ethanol and other renewable fuels will help gasoline to burn cleaner, creating less pollution, and to reduce America's reliance upon foreign oil. While burning cleaner gas is an admirable goal, the Federal Government's ethanol mandate has ensured that the American corn industry has consumers and businesses in a stranglehold without producing quantifiable benefits. (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Looking At Presidential Pardons - Presidents have the authority, under the Constitution, to grant pardons and their decision to do so is absolute so no one can overturn them. Clinton pardoned a number of people and in the flurry of activity during his last day in office he granted a pardon to Marc Rich. That was a bought and paid for pardon but it cannot be overturned. Charges could have been brought against Clinton if it could be proven that he was paid for the pardon. Clinton also pardoned members of the FALN, a violent Puerto Rican nationalist group. One of Obama’s nominees had a little something to do with the Clinton pardons… President Bush has been stingy with the pardon pen and has issued about half of those Reagan or Clinton issued. This past week President Bush issued pardons or sentence commutations to 16 people. Some of them are for people who were involved in drugs (either smuggling or using) and others were for a variety of crimes, none of them appear to be for people who committed violent crimes. There are two pardons that are missing and should have been made a long time ago. (READ MORE)

Blue Crab Boulevard: I Don’t Suppose This Will Get Any Attention In The Media - But at least the firmly in the Obama tank Politico reported on it. It’s a start. There is a growing consensus that there is no consensus on Anthropogenic Global Warming. “Climate change skeptics on Capitol Hill are quietly watching a growing accumulation of global cooling science and other findings that could signal that the science behind global warming may still be too shaky to warrant cap-and-trade legislation. While the new Obama administration promises aggressive, forward-thinking environmental policies, Weather Channel co-founder Joseph D’Aleo and other scientists are organizing lobbying efforts to take aim at the cap-and-trade bill that Democrats plan to unveil in January. So far, members of Congress have not been keen to publicly back the global cooling theory. But both senators from Oklahoma, Republicans Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe, have often expressed doubts about how much of a role man-made emissions play.” (READ MORE)

Herschel Smith: Dealing with Pirates - There have been so many accounts and reports of piracy in the last several weeks that tracking them, linking them and providing commentary has simply been impossible. In an interesting piece at the Wall Street Journal entitled Why Don’t We Hang Pirates Anymore?, Bret Stephens give us a synopsis of exactly where the world stands with respect to pirates. This account of the legal head-scratching, hand-wringing and worrying over law of the sea rules closely parallels the ridiculous suggestions we have seen (that are also not worth linking), like the Naval officer who suggested that we actually spend time and resources to deploy small units of U.S. Marines aboard merchant ships to counterattack in the case of piracy. This is really not so difficult, and the complications are mostly introduced by the lawyers, as is usually the case. Our prior recommendations for dealing with pirates closely follow the 18th century provisions and stipulations. (READ MORE)

Baron Bodissey: The Official Non-Existence of CAIR - It’s been a rough week (so far) for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a.k.a. CAIR. As we reported at the time, on Sunday night at its annual banquet the executive director of the Islamic advocacy organization was served with a summons on a federal fraud and racketeering complaint. Yesterday the Holy Land Foundation — a CAIR-affiliated charity — was convicted on 108 counts of funneling money to Hamas. And today comes the biggest surprise of all: legally speaking, CAIR doesn’t even exist. That’s because the organization failed to file the proper paperwork this past September to renew its charter as a non-profit corporation in the District of Columbia. Jihad Watch and WorldNet Daily have reported that David Yerushalmi’s lawsuit — the same one that named Nihad Awad when it was served on Sunday evening — demonstrates that beccause its registration has lapsed, CAIR is officially non-existent. (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Rangel - He pays Lanny Davis $121,000 rather than paying his taxes. Can you believe Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel of Harlem? He runs the House Ways and Means Committee, which handles taxes, and then ducks out of paying taxes at every turn. The New York newspapers recently got a buzz in their ear finally about his years of abusing the tax system and rent control. Those stories have led to calls to investigate him. So Rangel gave lawyer Lanny Davis $121,000 to fix it, the New York Daily News reported. Davis was the fix it man for Bill Clinton through numerous scandals. Now that the Ethics Committee is probing, Rangel switched lawyers. More checks. Rangel is a classic case in short-term thinking. He seems to have paid more to lawyers in the last month than he skipped on taxes. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Thanks, George - Obama, acknowledging his debt of gratitude to George Bush, will keep Robert Gates on as Secretary of Defense. It’s been looking up for some time, ever since George Bush told Congress, Obama etal to get stuffed on surrender, and apparently, they’ve now entirely capitulated. Thanks to Bush, Obama can fulfill his campaign promise, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, without precipitating a disaster. Who better to carry this forward but the people who got us to this point? A Saddam-free U.S.-allied Iraq, with al-Qaeda on the run, and the same counterinsurgency artiste who ran them out of Iraq now free to go to work on Afghanistan. Stay the course, and try not to screw up Iran, Obama, everything will be good. Just like I told you. But is it really necessary to rub it in? … Yeah, I think so: (READ MORE)

Political Pistachio: Claremont School District Erupts into Battle over Thanksgiving Celebration, and Political Correctness - Remember when you were a little kid and at Thanksgiving you would make turkeys by tracing your hand on construction paper, and dress up as pilgrims and Indians to celebrate the early friendship of the new Americans and the natives that already lived in North America? For forty years kindergartners in the Claremont Unified School district have done something similar, dressing up as pilgrims and Indians as one school visits another to share a feast. Today, however, when the kids planned to meet for this tradition, due to the complaint of a single parent, the children's parents were ordered to not allow their children to wear their hand-made costumes, and instead wear their school spirit shirts for the festivities. The complaining parent, Michelle Reheja, claimed the event was "demeaning" and "inappropriate." (READ MORE)

McQ: Stupid Column of the Day - It comes to us from Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley who calls on Nancy Pelosi to start impeachment proceedings against George Bush to save the economy - or something like that: “If Congress moves quickly and forces the president to focus on impeachment, then he won’t have so much time to push through last-minute regulatory changes that will continue to hurt our country and our ideals. Yeah, you see, apparently this administration is a linear one, only able to do one thing at a time, like focus on impeachment or ruin ‘the country and our ideals.’” The far left’s wet dream about impeaching Bush is slipping away for good and they’re pretty desperate to find any reason, no matter how loony, to urge Congressional leaders to salve their hate of Bush. (READ MORE)

Dan Riehl: Is Obama Doomed To Fail? - This one quote below - tucked away at the bottom of page 2 in this Politico item dealing with Democrats at odds - highlights my chief concern over an Obama Presidency. For all his inflated press, Obama has never really painted himself as a leader, so much as he has a mediator. That sounds great on paper. But it has the potential to be disastrous in the real world. It can raise a number of serious problems. “‘You have campaign fault lines now incorporated into [Obama’s] Cabinet,’ warned Tom Andrews, a former congressman from Maine and leader of the group Win Without War. ‘We have to watch the inside baseball of defense spending, missile defense program. That’s an important fault line. ... The Republicans are going to play that hard — that will be a fault line issue. They will target the red-state Democrats and the new Democrats.’” Both good and bad actors on the International front like predictability in America. (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Don't Just Do Something, Stand There! - Barack Obama is not even President yet and he has already begun his spin to the middle. This suggests that even if he is the ideologue many fear him to be, he is also smart enough to know that left wing economics has failed wherever it has been tired and if his goal is to have a successful Presidency, getting the economy moving is his first order of business. In the current circumstances, pragmatism is another word for non-ideological. As someone who believes that recessions are an unfortunately necessary part of the business cycle, and that economic laws have not recently been repealed (despite the ubiquitous cries that accompany every bubble that this time is different) my hope is that the new Administration will do minimal damage to the economy while trying to save it. Obama's appointments thus far, though top heavy with Goldman-Sachs cronies, does suggest some disinclination to tamper with the underlying fundamentals of the economic. Time will tell. (READ MORE)

Susan Katz Keating: L'Affaire Meo Continues: Army Explains U.S. Chain of Command to NATO - L'Affaire Meo grows curiouser and curiouser. In light of recent revelations, it appears that a certain London-based newspaper does not quite grasp America's freedom of speech laws; and that a certain United Nations-spawned organization does not understand its own boundaries. As discussed below, disgraced British journalist Nick Meo asked NATO's International Security Assistance Force [ISAF] to tell the U.S. Army to muzzle American milbloggers after we called out Meo for dissing our troops. But it appears that not only Meo, but also his employer, the Sunday Telegraph, made this absurd request. According to a source with intimate knowledge of events: "It's true - [Meo] and the Sunday Telegraph actually believed ISAF would come running and yelling..." at United States Forces - Afghanistan and other commands. It doesn't end there. (READ MORE)

DJ Drummond: The Liberal-Conservative War - Comments on this and many other blogs make clear that a war continues between people of liberal and conservative nature. The way that partisans have treated the last two presidents elected, demonstrate how harsh the judgment and rhetoric has become. Bill Clinton was blamed for all manner of offenses by conservatives, and later liberals, for his presumed liberal policies and on the other hand for 'betraying' liberals by working with republicans on some issues. George W. Bush, on the other hand, received even more vitriol for being conservative, or for not being a 'real' conservative. The extremists on either end were displeased with both presidents; they demanded a polarity which would have been impractical and unreasonable, yet they poisoned the reputations of both men out of spite. From what I can see, there has never really been a purely 'liberal' or 'conservative' President elected yet; (READ MORE)

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