December 11, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 12/11/2008

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)
Auto Bailout Clears House but Faces Hurdles in Senate - The House last night approved an emergency plan to prevent the collapse of the nation's domestic automobile industry, but the measure faces serious opposition in the Senate, where Republicans are revolting against a White House-brokered deal to speed $14 billion to cash-starved General Motors and... (READ MORE)

Rep. Jackson Denies Offer Of Favors for Senate Seat - CHICAGO, Dec. 10 -- In the wake of the most brazen Illinois corruption case in years, President-elect Barack Obama and the entire Senate Democratic caucus called on Gov. Rod Blagojevich to resign Wednesday, while Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. said he did nothing wrong in seeking a Senate appointment... (READ MORE)

Cleaning Firm Used Illegal Workers at Chertoff Home - Every few weeks for nearly four years, the Secret Service screened the IDs of employees for a Maryland cleaning company before they entered the house of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the nation's top immigration official. (READ MORE)

Mumbai Investigation Focuses on Possible Indian Collaborators - NEW DELHI, Dec. 10 -- Having blamed a Pakistani terrorist group for last month's deadly attacks in Mumbai, investigators are turning their attention to homegrown suspects who may have assisted with attacks on Indian soil. (READ MORE)

Escapee Tells of Horrors in North Korean Prison Camp - SEOUL -- In Camp No. 14, the North Korean political prison where Shin Dong-hyuk was born and where he says he watched the hanging of his mother, inmates never saw a picture of Kim Jong Il. (READ MORE)
Case Confirms Rezko Is Talking With Prosecutors - A footnote to the 76-page criminal complaint and affidavit charging Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) with soliciting bribes confirms what has long been rumored -- that a former longtime friend and fundraiser for President-elect Barack Obama is talking to federal prosecutors in hopes of a reduced sentence. (READ MORE)

Whitewashing Fannie Mae - Henry Waxman's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform met Tuesday to examine "The Role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the Financial Crisis." Alas, Mr. Waxman didn't come to bury Fan and Fred, but to bury the truth. (READ MORE)

Political Favors at the FCC - Most people don't think Silicon Valley billionaires need government subsidies, but Kevin Martin isn't among them. Before he exits his post next month, the Federal Communication Commission Chairman is trying to put in place rules for a wireless spectrum auction that all but guarantee the licenses go to a company backed by venture capitalist John Doerr. (READ MORE)

Senate GOP puts brakes on bailout - The $15 billion bailout loan for Detroit automakers that the House passed Wednesday is still far from a done deal as a collection of Senate Republicans is raising roadblocks to the taxpayer-funded handout brokered by Democrats and the White House. (READ MORE)

Obama eyes cuts in expensive weapons systems - President-elect Barack Obama's transition officials are in early talks about making significant cuts in some high-priced weapon systems, seeking savings to offset budget deficits and help pay for arms sought for conflicts in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. (READ MORE)

Obama to set health goals, tap Daschle - President-elect Barack Obama is expected to announce his health care priorities at a news conference Thursday and has tapped an energy and environment team likely to assuage fears from liberals that they had been left in the cold, multiple sources said Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Duncan wants to keep RNC chairmanship - Republican National Committee Chairman Robert M. "Mike" Duncan has officially announced his bid for a second term and is willing to consider naming a general chairman to serve as the "face of the party," he told The Washington Times on Wednesday. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Donald Douglas: Browner Proves It: The Second Clinton Administration! - Carol Browner, who was head of the Environmental Protection Agency for both terms of the Clinton administration (1993-2001), is expected to be tapped as "energy and environmental czar" for the incoming Barack Obama administration. Well, that does it. I'm putting my foot down, finally. I've held off on criticizing Obama for his oppressively stale administrative appointments. But, I mean let's be honest, this is a de facto Second Clinton Administration, with a token black chief executive who'll be sitting in the Oval Office. This is not just a disaster for the Democratic Party, but for Barack Obama's personal claim to embody hope and change, not to mention post-partisan transformation. (READ MORE)

Dafydd: American Special Forces in Afghanistan Accidentally Defend Themselves - This is rich. First read AP's headline: “US Special Forces mistakenly kill 6 Afghan police” Next, the beginning of their lede graf: “U.S. Special Forces killed six Afghan police and wounded 13 early Wednesday in a case of mistaken identity...” Finally, here are the complete first two paragraphs: “U.S. Special Forces killed six Afghan police and wounded 13 early Wednesday in a case of mistaken identity by both sides after the police fired on the Americans during an operation against an insurgent commander, officials said. A U.S. military statement said police fired on the American forces after the troops battled and killed an armed militant in the city of Qalat, the capital of the southern province of Zabul. The Americans returned fire on the police but only later learned their identities. One Afghan civilian was also killed in the exchange.” (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Thinking the no longer unthinkable - Fox News reports that Barack Obama is offering Israel an nuclear guaranty against Iranian attack, signalling that a nuclear Iran is inevitable. “President-elect Barack Obama will offer Israel a strategic pact designed to fend off any nuclear attack on the Jewish state by Iran, an Israeli newspaper reported on Thursday. A senior Bush administration source reportedly said the nuclear umbrella was ridiculous and lacked credibility. ‘Who will convince the citizen in Kansas that the U.S. needs to get mixed up in a nuclear war because Haifa was bombed? And what is the point of an American response, after Israel’s cities are destroyed in an Iranian nuclear strike?,’ he said.” The really interesting question is what the American nuclear umbrella will add that the Israeli nuclear arsenal does not already provide. (READ MORE)

Blonde Sagacity: Obama's Endorsement - I'm not insinuating that Obama knew what Illinois mayor Rod Blagojevich was up to...but you can't listen to the tapes of this guy and tell me that it wasn't obvious he was a slimy little 'anything goes' kinda guy. THIS is what Conservatives meant during the election when we pointed to people like Reverend Wright and Ayres...Obama has a well documented history of BAD JUDGMENT and shady associations. He's from Chicago, it's inevitable. Chicago, New Orleans and Philly are all notorious of their play-to-play politics ---and quite frankly if you can make it in any of the aforementioned...your probably not opposed to engaging. Aside from the discrepancy between Obama's response to the scandal and his adviser David Axelrod, is the fact that Obama personally endorsed this man twice: (READ MORE)

Chickenhawk Express: Under the Bus Party on Aisle 5 - Heh-Heh - this Blago scandal is just what we needed to brighten our holidays and distract us from the screwing we're getting from Congress via the Big 3 Bailout circus. I'm not going to rehash and re-post all the reports on the "Intertubes" because it would take 3 days to gather it all together. But a couple of points from someone "outside the beltway"... Jesse Jackson Jr - AKA Candidate #5 - fileting himself in front of the cameras and throwing out the race card - "judge me by the content of my character". Coming from the son of the original shakedown artist, that is really a damning indictment. Does anyone really believe JJJ is an innocent pawn in this case? If you do, I have a Senate seat I'd like to sell ya. Especially now that Jesse "nut-cutter" Jackson has lawyered up... hmmmm (READ MORE)

Victor Comras: UN Acts to Designate Lashkar e Tayyiba’ Offshoots and Its Leaders As Terrorists Associated With Al Qaeda - Last month’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai focused anew a spotlight on the activities of Lashkar e Tayyiba, its offshoots, and its possible links with Al Qaeda. The investigation conducted by India, Pakistan and other cooperating countries has produced new evidence that Lashkar e Tayyiba operatives were directly engaged in planning and providing material support and assistance for the series of Mumbai urban attacks that shook the international community as well as India. Based upon this investigation, and the formal request of the Government of India, the United Nations Al Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions committee agreed December 10th to expanded its designation of Lashkar e Tayyiba to specifically include 4 of its leaders: (READ MORE)

Confederate Yankee: CNN's MRAP Story Feasts on Ignorance in Effort to Demonize Marine Corps - Once again, CNN puts its ignorance and dislike of the military center stage: “The U.S. Marine Corps knew of the threat posed by roadside bombs before the start of the Iraq war, yet did nothing to buy protective vehicles for troops, according to a report to be released by the Pentagon. Additionally, Marine leaders in 2005 decided to buy up-armored, or reinforced, Humvees instead of Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles to shield troops in Iraq from mines and other explosives -- a decision that could have cost lives, according to the report obtained Tuesday by CNN.” What the author of this CNN article fails to explain is that you can have either mobility, or you can have armor; you can't have both. A vehicle that can withstand IEDs built from artillery shells is going to be too heavy (14 tons in some variations) to leave the main roads or even cross many of the world's bridges. (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Adult swim time - House Intelligence Chairman to President Obama: Keep the guys who supported waterboarding and the terrorist surveillance program. Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, told Congress Daily: “There’s got to be some continuity, and the leadership of both the CIA and the DNI is going to be pivotal to keeping us safe and secure. I made a recommendation that they stay on during the transition so that there would be a period of time that there would be overlap.” That means keeping Mike Hayden on at CIA and Mike McConnell as Director of National Intelligence. Hayden has defended waterboarding, telling Congress it was necessary even if it is no longer legal. It was used on 3 al-Qaida members including KSM, the mastermind of the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. (READ MORE)

Allahpundit: (Video) Ayers still not sure nonviolent protest is better than setting bombs - “I think we made enormous mistakes,” he concedes, then quickly qualifies it by urging us to remember the context of the times. I searched for a way to describe his shtick here but can’t do better than this bit from Timothy Noah’s review of his book: “Ayers periodically expresses mild regret for his crimes, in tones reminiscent of a middle-aged insurance executive who wishes he hadn’t gotten drunk quite so often at his college fraternity. ‘We took ourselves so seriously–OK, a little too seriously, we were too earnest by half and way too insistent,’ he writes at one point. ‘[F]rom the edges, we were entirely inflexible, maybe even a bit goofy.’ But in the process of describing such youthful indiscretions, Ayers invariably winds himself up into a self-exculpating frenzy.” The frenzy begins about a third of the way in, after he and Matthews spend a few minutes playing pattycake over how mean Sarah Palin was to “exploit” the fact that our next president used to fraternize with a terrorist. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Is China now more capitalist than the US? - In response to the financial crisis of 2008, the United States has responded by nationalizing industries and electing a president who promised to raise taxes on entrepreneurial efforts. China, the nominally Communist nation, has responded by cutting business taxes to stimulate growth. Remind me which nation supposedly supports capitalism and free enterprise (via Q&O): “CHINA may soon cut business tax as part of its efforts to prop up the slowing economy amid the global financial crisis, state media reported on Tuesday. The government is ‘very likely’ to soon cut the business tax for enterprises by one percentage point, the China Daily said, citing an unnamed source close to policymakers.” While China improves its business climate by lowering the burden of state confiscation, the US plans to increase it, and in some cases by a significant amount. (READ MORE)

Patterico's Pontifications: L.A. Times to Readers: You Can’t Handle the Truth! (But a Judge Can, Apparently) - The truth is sometimes muddy. But clean it up too much and the result isn’t clean truth; it’s a half-truth. The L.A. Times learned this the hard way today, when a judge rejected an inmate’s claim of innocence — based on facts that the newspaper had known, according to former L.A. Times reporter Chuck Philips, but deliberately chose not to publish. And why not report the facts that the judge found so important? They were too complicated, Philips told, and “muddied up” the front-page story touting the inmate’s innocence. (READ MORE)

Pirate's Cove: Global Warming? Not So Serious, Says IPCC Chairman - For Believers, this is the equivilent for conservatives if Bush said “we need to get along with the jihadis” “There is no clear evidence that global warming is an imminent danger to the world, says Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” No. Clear. Evidence. But, hey, good news, Climahysterics! “Even so, it would be good for governments to go further with proposed cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions to deal with dire predictions made in a 2007 panel report, he told the Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday.” Anyone getting the picture that the global warming hysteria is about control, and not “the environment?” (READ MORE)

Scott Johnson: MAD about Iran? - Edward Jay Epstein asks whether the CIA was wrong (again) in its 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. "In a stunning departure from all the previous estimates dating back to 1997 under Presidents Clinton and Bush," Epstein recalls, the CIA declared in its 2007 NIE: "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program." Reviewing the most recent evidence, Epstein concludes that the CIA got it wrong. "[I]n light of all the developments in the past year," Epstein writes, "America's new president will have to confront the reality that Iran now has the capability to change the balance of power in the Gulf, if it so elects to do so, by building a nuclear weapon." (READ MORE)

MichaelW: Cerberus Starting to Get Some Attention - As I wrote about last week, one thing in particular that truly stinks to high heaven regarding the Big 3 Bailout is that Chrysler’s parent, Cerberus Capital, has more than enough money to fund whatever the ailing carmaker needs. If they aren’t going to do so, then why should the taxpayers? It seems that the stench is finally getting some attention: “Why is Cerberus, one of the world’s richest private equity firms, begging for a bailout? When I wrote about the bailout blunders of the auto industry two weeks ago, I thought the Big Three had most likely topped out on the political outrage meter. But that was before the shady story of Cerberus, the uber-connected private equity firm that owns Chrysler, reared its three ugly heads over the weekend.” (READ MORE)

Warner Todd Huston: NYT Columnist Wants To Keep Joe the Plumber From Publishing Book, Says Joe is ‘A No Good Citizen’ - Talk about arrogance, but apparently New York Times Columnist Timothy Egan wants to stop Joe the Plumber from being allowed to have his book published and calls the government oppressed blue collar man a “no good citizen” and a “no good plumber.” Arrogantly, Egan imagines that Joe somehow doesn’t deserve to have a book deal. Egan imagines himself more qualified than Joe to write a book and in his column Egan asks Joe if he wants him to fix a leaky toilet? He then haughtily replies, “I didn’t think so.” You see, Egan thinks he is smarter than anyone as low as a Joe the Plumber. “And I don’t want you writing books. Not when too many good novelists remain unpublished. Not when too many extraordinary histories remain unread. Not when too many riveting memoirs are kicked back at authors after 10 years of toil. Not when voices in Iran, North Korea or China struggle to get past a censor’s gate.” (READ MORE)

Susan Katz Keating: Colin Freeman: To Speak or Not to Speak; Part 1 - What is the best way to handle a hostage crisis? Should you publicize the situation, or conceal it? These questions currently are being debated within the international community of foreign and war correspondents, and with good reason. Two expeditionary journalists, Colin Freeman and Jose Cendon, were kidnapped while on assignment in Somalia last month, and have remained captive ever since. Freeman is chief foreign correspondent for London's Sunday Telegraph. Cendon is a Spanish freelance photographer. As you might imagine, the men's families, friends, and colleagues are deeply distraught by the kidnaps. Some have tried to organize public support efforts, with mixed reception. (READ MORE)

Joshua Goodman: Political Turmoil in Canada: Should Americans Care? - It is likely a fair assumption that more Americans are familiar with Stephen Aboutman, the fictional head of the WGA made famous by South Park, than Stephen Harper, Canada’s Prime Minister (in the interest of full disclosure, I am Canadian and proud of it). To be fair, Canada has done little to garner any real international attention, thus evading the notice of many Americans (despite the fact that the U.S. and Canada are neighboring - spelled neighbouring up north - nations). But over the past few weeks, Canada has been embroiled in a political crisis that would rival anything the U.S. political system could conjure up: (READ MORE)

TigerHawk: The ban on French jokes continues: Sarko bashes the mullahs - Unconditional meetings may be all the rage in Washington (until, at least, Secretary Clinton draws upon her inner harshness), but French president Nicholas Sarkozy is having none of it: “Iran has summoned the French ambassador in Tehran over comments made by the French president about his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Nicolas Sarkozy said earlier this week that he would not be able to shake hands with someone who said Israel had to be wiped off the map. Ambassador Bernard Poletti was told of Iran's strong objections. He was told there would be repercussions for relations if such remarks were repeated.” (READ MORE)

Urban Grounds: Mr. Obama: How About Demanding that Islam Reboots Their Image? - Barry Obama wants to do what? Reboot American’s image in the Muslim world? Are you fucking kidding me? What does that even mean? That’s a rhetorical question — I know what it means: it means that Barry Obama wants America to apologize to the Moooslims for us not better understanding and accepting their barbaric culture. Riehl World View expresses my exact sentiment when he asks: “Still, from the Marines in Lebanon, the USS Cole, 9/11 … to Mumbai, among many other issues and incidents, not to forget our sacrificing to liberate millions of Muslims in Iraq and Bush’s careful rhetoric all along …what the Hell is it we did to the Muslim world that requires us to improve our image?” Let me tell you what we did…nothing. (READ MORE)

Cassandra: Obama's "No Contact" Depends On Meaning of "No" and "Contact".... - Important update: via Tom Maguire, this tape of Gov. Blogojevich on Nov. 5th stating that, as of that date, he had not spoken with Obama about filling the Senate seat. I think that settles the question of why the two KHQA articles were pulled, though obviously it would have been better to simply correct them in place. A few thoughts: 1. The Governor is hardly a credible source, but on the other hand I see no real reason for him to lie about something like this. Absent some other evidence the two met or talked that day, it makes sense to assume they did not. 2. As Clarice Feldman notes, the mere association with Blago is embarrassing for Obama. Embarrassment, however, is not evidence of guilt: (READ MORE)

Victor Davis Hanson: Blagatrocious - Like some of you, I had the following reactions reading the transcripts of Illinois’s Governor Blagojevich. 1) Here in the 21st-century are we back to the 1860s of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall, or the cesspool Chicago of Mayor Big Bill Thompson in the 1920s? All our moral claims about cleaning up government, all our postmodern sophisticated ethics, our vaunted notions of ‘transparency’ are reduced to a two-bit thug in the governorship of a large state like Illinois? For all our high-tech gadgetry, or our angst about situational morality, or self-help pop therapy, we revert to a foul-mouthed, profanity-spouting wretch, trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat the way a corrupt 4th-century AD emperor auctioned off proconsulships in the twilight of the Empire? (READ MORE)

Soldiers in the Blogosphere: Fill the gap: milbloggers roles in communicating with the nation - By this point in my reading, research, and dialogue with the readers of this blog, I’m now completely convinced that we (the Army) must do more in the blogosphere. Really, we need to do more with new media in general, but for this post I’m restricting comment to blogs. Knowing that we must do more, there has been some valuable discussion about how we can encourage and educate Soldiers to effectively engage the blogosphere. Some useful tips to consider when blogging have been offered; justification for Soldiers’ blogs has been provided in light of the fundamentals of information espoused by the public affairs community; and discussion about the need for credibility has begun. I turn my attention in this post to some things we should encourage Soldiers to blog about: what I’ll call “filling the gap.” (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: Reboot What? - So, President Elect Barack Obama says that he's hoping to reboot America's image abroad, particularly among the world's Muslims. What should anyone make of this nonsensical statement. How exactly is he going to do this? Obama, for all of his keen intellect, is a poor student of history, but a great student of propaganda. The Muslim world, particularly in the Middle East, has suffered at the hands of dictators, despots, and totalitarian regimes for decades. fact, many are little older than Israel. All were formed in the aftermath of World War I when the Ottoman Empire was carved up by the victorious British and French. (READ MORE)

Ann Coulter: Minnesota Ballots: Land of 10,000 Fakes - What is the point of having a hand recount of ballots in the Minnesota Senate race if the Democratic secretary of state is going to use the election night totals in precincts where it will benefit Democrat Al Franken? Either the hand recount produces a better, more accurate count, or there was no point to the state spending roughly $100,000 to conduct the hand recount in the first place. But that is exactly what the George Soros-supported secretary of state has agreed to do in the case of a Dinkytown precinct near the University of Minnesota. The hand recount of the liberal precinct produced 133 fewer ballots than the original count on election night and, more important, 46 fewer votes for Franken. So he's proposing to defer to the election night total over the recount tally. (READ MORE)

Matt Towery: Why More and More Politicians Are Rotten to the Core - That the governor of Illinois would attempt to sell a U.S. Senate seat didn't shock me. Across America, there is a growing sense of entitlement among more and more elected officials. Not all, of course, but too many. From city councils to Congress, elected positions have evolved from their intended part-time status to full-time obsessions. And as governments have grown, so have their access to big money. Political leaders now hold life-and-death fiscal power over people and businesses. Most states' legislatures were designed to be part-time, citizens' deliberative bodies. The harvest schedules of old agrarian societies were a reason. So were comparatively modest government budgets. (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: The High Cost of Favoritism - O.J. Simpson has attracted less attention by being declared "guilty" in Nevada than he did by being declared "not guilty" in California. Yet his story is more than the tragedy of one man. O.J. is not the first star athlete-- or movie star, political leader or pacesetter in some other fields-- to fall from the heights to the depths. Often they are people who have taken enormous risks that were completely unnecessary and with little pay-off. Think about it: What did Richard Nixon have to gain by setting up the kinds of illegal operations that finally cost him the presidency-- and could have landed him in prison, without President Ford's pardon? Why would star quarterback Michael Vick have risked a multimillion dollar career for the sake of staging dog fights? (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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