August 15, 2007

Web Reconnaissance for 08/15/2007

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)
Arnold's Health Flop - After Arnold Schwarzenegger unveiled his universal health-care plan for California in January, almost everyone was laying down palms in Sacramento. Here was a Republican Governor putting aside political squabbling and "doing big things that Washington has failed to do," as Time magazine put it. What a change seven months later, with the plan on the cusp of collapse. There's a lesson here about health-care "bipartisanship" when it's merely a cover for bad policy. (READ MORE)

Iranian Unit to Be Labeled 'Terrorist' - The United States has decided to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country's 125,000-strong elite military branch, as a "specially designated global terrorist," according to U.S. officials, a move that allows Washington to target the group's business operations and finances. (READ MORE)

Obama Says He Can Unite U.S. 'More Effectively' Than Clinton - Drawing a sharp contrast with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, his main rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama said in an interview that he has the capacity she may lack to unify the country and move it out of what he called "ideological... (READ MORE)

Terrorism Suspected In Russian Rail Blast - A high-speed passenger train derailment that injured at least 60 people en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg was caused by a bomb, Russian authorities said Tuesday. They opened a formal terrorism investigation and announced plans to tighten security ahead of national elections in coming months. (READ MORE)

Suicide Bombers Kill 175 in Iraq - Four suicide bombers hit Kurdish Yazidi communities with nearly simultaneous attacks yesterday, killing at least 175 persons and wounding 200 others, said Iraqi military and local officials in northwest Iraq. (READ MORE)

U.S. Agents Accused of Aiding Islamist Scheme - A criminal investigations report says several U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees are accused of aiding Islamic extremists with identification fraud and of exploiting the visa system for personal gain. (READ MORE)

Bloggers Emerge as Force on Right - Conservative bloggers still may not carry the political clout of their liberal counterparts, but a group of Washington-based online journalists and activists has increased its influence in the past year. (READ MORE)

Americans Declare Their Pursuit of Happiness - Americans say they're annoyed with politicians, vexed by the press and unsure about the war in Iraq, toxic Chinese imports and the stock market. (READ MORE)

From the Front:
Michael J. Totten: Balance of Terror - BAGHDAD – The American soldier sitting next to me flipped open his Zippo lighter and gloomily lit a cigarette. “Do you know why this base isn’t attacked by insurgents?” he said. I assumed it was because his area of operations, in the Graya’at neighborhood of northern Baghdad out of Coalition Outpost War Eagle, had been cleared of insurgents. Many American military bases and outposts in Iraq are attacked by Al Qaeda terrorists and Mahdi Army militiamen with mortars and rockets. War Eagle was quiet and had not been bombarded for months. “We aren’t being attacked because the Mahdi Army is in the next building,” he said. “They don’t want to hit their own people.” (READ MORE)

Michael Yon: Into the Sea - It was after midnight and there was to be no sleep. Thinking of the war. I stepped out of bed already dressed, pulled on the shoes without socks and walked a minute or so to the beach. August 15 had begun. On the beach the small stands selling skewers of cooked meat, soft drinks, beer and water were closing. I sat in the dark looking out at the dark sea. Some light shined from behind and to the right, but mostly there was darkness, the sea, and scattered Balinese people. No moon. The sea was mostly quiet, the waves gentle. Thousands of stars twinkled above the Bali Sea. The Milky Way was clear. (READ MORE)

Northern Disclosure: STAY CLASSY! - I know I talk about my Dad a lot but thats just becasue of the huge influence he has had in my life. Like Dads should! One of the many lessons that this Canadian back woods senior fellow taught me was about integrity. I, like many other kids had to learn the lesson about taking credit for our deeds, whether good or bad. Sometimes I would lie to avoid the inevitable which was stupid because NOTHING got by my Father. I would lie to myself and pretend like I slipped something past but there he would be looking at me with that why would you do that look. Dad had a little change jar that I would "dip" into to feed my candy habit. (READ MORE)

Far From Perfect: Night Moves - We pull into this village under the cover of dark. Its dark, really dark. So dark that even using night optics, its still hard to see. Everything is quiet as we pick our way through the streets, even the radio. Under the cover of night, this village seems relatively nice for something in Iraq. The streets are clean, there is no sewage or trash along the road. There are a few lights on, even at this late hour, which casts an orange-brown glow on small areas of the neighborhood. My platoon’s job tonight is to set up cordon for some searches that will be occurring in the town. I hate cordon security. It means I sit there and keep everything outside - out, and everything inside - in. It means we sit in a location for a long time without moving. That sets us up as easy targets. (READ MORE)

Matt Sanchez: Finally Coming Home--After an Extension - Soon after I met the 118th Military Police (Airborne), I learned that, unlike many of the "surge" units who deployed at the beginning of the year, the Mighty 118th MPs were actually extended. Back in April, the 118th were getting ready to return home, in fact, they had even packed their bags. The original mission was to train the Iraqi police and they performed magnificently. (READ MORE)

W. Thomas Smith Jr.: Why Soldiers Cry - AL MANSOUR (Baghdad) — U.S. forces have launched a new offensive north of Baghdad in an attempt to crush insurgents who have recently fled Baqouba. A major bridge was attacked on the outskirts of the city (several killed). And some roundup raids, which I cannot get into, may be stepping off in the city center as we speak. Most of this morning and afternoon, my team — part of the U.S. 1st Cavalry Division — has been running a series of foot and mounted combat patrols in Baghdad's Al Mansour district. (READ MORE)

Wesley Morgan: Haifa Street: The day after - In the morning (Wednesday, August 8), I geared up before first light. We were supposed to roll back to the forward operating base around 0600, but there was a delay: The cameras positioned on the perimeter of the outpost showed very few pilgrims. Apparently the holiday hadn't really started yet – the marchers last night had been Shia from southern Iraq who had arrived early. "Nobody knows when this damn holiday actually starts," Peterson told me in frustration – the terps, apparently both Sunnis, had no idea either. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Lisa De Pasquale: Are We Hypocrites for Not Enlisting? - Last week we got another glimpse of the Left’s true feelings about our troops. At a campaign breakfast in Iowa, anti-war Daily Kos diarist Rachel Griffiths asked Mitt Romney why none of his five sons enlisted in the military. It’s a popular form of ‘gotcha’ that the Left likes to play in order to bring out their favorite cat call - Hypocrite! Romney responded, ‘My sons are all adults and they’ve made decisions about their careers and they’ve chosen not to serve in the military and active duty and I respect their decision in that regard. One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I’d be a great president.’ (READ MORE)

Austin Bay: The United Nation Returns to Iraq - Four years after an explosives-packed suicide cement truck blew up and destroyed the U.N. headquarters building in Baghdad, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to expand its operation in Iraq. (READ MORE)

Douglas MacKinnon: The Two Things To Know Before Your City is Nuked By Terrorists - Tragically, horrifyingly, but quite predictably, it’s going to happen. The only question being which American city or cities? (READ MORE)

John Stossel: Dead Men Farming - Farm subsidies are popular with politicians because Big Agriculture lobbies hard, and many people believe that without subsidies, we wouldn't have a reliable food supply. (READ MORE)

Walter E. Williams: Deadly Environmentalists - Environmentalists, with the help of politicians and other government officials, have an agenda that has cost thousands of American lives. In the wake of Hurricane Betsy, which struck New Orleans in 1965, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed building flood gates on Lake Pontchartrain, like those in the Netherlands that protect cities from North Sea storms. In 1977, the gates were about to be built, but the Environmental Defense Fund and Save Our Wetlands sought a court injunction to block the project. (READ MORE)

Paul Weyrich: Two Other Authorities Expose So-called Ethics Reform - I have not spoken recently with Paul Jacob. Years ago he was a leader of the movement to establish term limits for elected officials. Jacob is one of the most honest men in Washington. I always listen to what he says. (READ MORE)

Kathleen Parker: Innocent in Haditha - "Innocent until proven guilty" is a favorite, if sometimes ignored, American trope. We are reminded of that once again with charges being dropped against two Marines in the so-called "Haditha Massacre" of November 2005. As well, we are reminded of the difficulty in applying civilian perceptions and standards to military conflict. (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: Sanctuary Nation or Sovereign Nation: It's Your Choice - Will the execution-style murder of three young students in Newark, N.J., finally turn the tide in the immigration enforcement debate? (READ MORE)

Terence Jeffrey: Monkeying With Man - Some believe the greatest emerging threat to the human race can be found in the Middle East, where terrorists seek weapons of mass destruction. Others point to melting glaciers, adamant they have discovered proof of environmental doom. (READ MORE)

Jonah Goldberg: Karl Rove: Bush's Napoleon - There's an old maxim that if Napoleon had been struck by a cannonball on his way to Moscow, he would be remembered as an unrivaled military genius and liberator. But Napoleon overstayed history's welcome and was treated harshly for it, first by the Russians and Mother Nature, then by his own people and, ultimately, by historians. (READ MORE)

Patrick J. Buchanan: Architectural Failure - If one had to sum up the legacy of Karl Rove as political adviser to the 43rd president, it could probably be done in four words: tactical brilliance, strategic blindness. (READ MORE)

Tony Blankley: Democrats' Disgrace - Sometimes we can better understand where we are politically from afar than from within. Consider this assessment from Europe's biggest and Germany's most influential magazine, Der Spiegel, this week: (READ MORE)

Fred Thompson: Sanctuary Cities - If you listen to folks who oppose immigration and border enforcement, you get the feeling they think we put locks on our doors to keep everybody out. The truth is we have locks so we can choose who comes in. (READ MORE)

Stephen Bird: The Summer of '81 - After months of lobbying and five months following an assassin?s attempt on his life, President Reagan headed for his beloved Rancho del Cielo where he signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act into law on August 13, 1981. (READ MORE)

John Boehner: Earning the Majority: The Road Back - People often tell me that their first emotion on the night of November 7, 2006 was disappointment. Indeed, after spending many nights on the road last summer and fall, traveling around the country and seeing firsthand the enthusiasm and commitment of Republican volunteers nationwide, our loss in the House and Senate was a bitter pill to swallow. But my personal disappointment quickly gave way to resolve, and I knew that if Republicans were going to earn back the congressional majority in 2008 we would have to start the next morning. (READ MORE)

John McCaslin: Global warming in the '20s - D.C. resident John Lockwood was conducting research at the Library of Congress and came across an intriguing Page 2 headline in the Nov. 2, 1922 edition of The Washington Post: "Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt." (READ MORE)

David E. Bernstein: Mother, Judge and Speed - Someone's been watching too many old sitcoms: “The labor pains were coming, so Jessica Hodges got going. The 26-year-old bank teller from Burke sped toward Inova Fairfax Hospital, but before she got there, the law got her--57 mph in a 35 zone. Reckless driving. Hodges's labor pains subsided--they turned out to be a false alarm--but the agony from her ticket is mounting.” (READ MORE)

Stephen F. Hayes: The Cheney Imperative - Dick Cheney sat transfixed by the images on the small television screen in the corner of his West Wing office. Smoke poured out of a gaping hole in the World Trade Center's North Tower. John McConnell, the vice president's chief speechwriter, sat next to him and said nothing. Then, a second plane appeared on the right-hand side of the screen, banked slightly to the left, and plunged into the South Tower. "Did you see that?" Mr. Cheney asked his aide. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: It Wasn’t Already? - Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to classed as a “specially designated global terrorist” organization. Specially designated for missile strikes, air raids and spec ops assaults, I hope. WaPo: “The Bush administration has chosen to move against the Revolutionary Guard Corps because of what U.S. officials have described as its growing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as its support for extremists throughout the Middle East, the sources said.” (READ MORE)

Allahpundit: U.S. to Revolutionary Guards: You’re all terrorists - For a lot of reasons, it comes as no surprise. Robin Wright, who’s responsible for tonight’s scoop, reported five days ago that hawks had regained the momentum within the administration on all things Iran so a new escalation wasn’t unexpected. And in fact, this is just a logical next step from what’s been happening for six months. The two rounds of UN sanctions on Iran for noncompliance on its enrichment program specifically targeted the assets of the Guard’s top commanders; (READ MORE)

Bryan Preston: Illegal alien hit-and-run kills 2 Maryland men Updated - He hit five construction workers along Rt 29 in Burtonsville, MD and then fled the scene. Two of the five have now died. “A second construction worker has died from his injuries after a van slammed into five construction workers on Route 29. Montgomery County Police say 37-year-old James Cronin of Glen Burnie died Tuesday. On Monday, Cronin was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.” (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Spinning Rove - Jeremy Herron of the AP did something so obviously unfair that I am surprised his editors in New York allowed him the pixels to do so: Herron openly whined about being scooped. In so doing, Herron exposed once again the liberal bias in most of the media that tries to undermine Republican accomplishments by passing them off as spin. (READ MORE)

Kevin Aylward: Wikipedia Defacing Linked To New York Times Building - Little Green Footballs notes a curious trend in defacing Wikipedia entries emanating from within the walls of The New York Times, starting with the addition of "jerk jerk jerk jerk jerk jerk jerk jerk jerk jerk jerk jerk" to the George W. Bush entry. At little digging via the Wikipedia Scanner reveals that there are many other cases. Here's an update to the entry for Condoleezza Rice... (READ MORE)

Kim Priestap: What's Hillary Trying to Hide? - Hillary Clinton has said that one of the reasons she should be elected president is her experience, a very important part of which is her record as first lady; however, over 2 million of Hillary's records are currently at the Clinton Presidential Library, but she won't let anyone see them until after the 2008 election. So what's she hiding? (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: Al Qaeda's Bloody Tuesday In Iraq - As Jammie notes, al Qaeda was quite busy in Iraq today. They launched simultaneous suicide car bombs in Northern Iraq, in an area inhabited by the Yezidi and Kurds, killing 175 people. “Four suicide bombers hit Kurdish Yazidi communities with nearly simultaneous attacks on Tuesday, killing at least 175 people and wounding 200 others, said Iraqi military and local officials in northwest Iraq.” (READ MORE)

A Soldier's Mind: Despite Devastating Injury, He Still Soldiers On - I never tire of reading the stories of the brave men and women who serve our country in our nation’s armed forces. I never tire of hearing about the courage, bravery, steadfastness, determination, patriotism and alleigence to something greater than themselves, that these Warriors so proudly display, sometimes in the face of what seems to be insurmountable odds. Yet, they continue to Soldier on. I’m inspired each time I read a story like this, in awe of the intestinal fortitude that it takes to continue doing a job that they love so well. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Round and round they go - Barack Obama was apparently misquoted by the Associated Press. His remarks that "We've to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there" were apparently in reference to Afghanistan, and not Iraq as earlier reported. I unfortunately did not pick up the AP error, and I apologize. (READ MORE)

Big Lizards: One Block at a Time - Wesley Morgan, writing at the Fourth Rail, has a fascinating report on a different kind of ambush in Sadr City. Morgan is an embedded reporter accompanying American troops, led by Lt. Col Jeffery Peterson, along their patrol on the infamous Haifa Street, in the Sadr City slums of Baghdad, in the wake of a massive Shiite pilgrimage -- a "four million man march." Col. Peterson and his men made a point of dismounting from their Strykers from time to time to chat with the locals. Morgan found the Iraqi people by and large friendly -- which is amazing, considering where they were: It was on this very Haifa Street in 2004 that a pair of election officials were brutally executed in broad daylight, during rush hour; the murders were photographed by an Iraqi stringer. The "stringer" was later taken into custody as an al-Qaeda collaborator; the American who received the photos got a Pulitzer Prize. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Petraeus To Recommend Pullback - Both sides of the Iraq War debate have waited impatiently for the September report of General David Petraeus. The war's advocates expect the General to report success in the surge strategy and are poised to fight for continued commitment, while the war's opponents plan to counter that with demonstrations and demands for withdrawal. According to the Los Angeles Times, Petraeus' actual recommendations may surprise both sides: (READ MORE)

Uncle Jimbo @ Blackfive: Obama- The Audacity of Dim - I promise to stop piling on Obama the second he drops out of the race admitting he is woefully under-qualified and plus all those questions he kept getting asked were really hard. Barack Obama is a political creation custom-designed for his appealing appearance. he is fit, cute, and oh my god did you know he's African-American? Throw in reliably progressive lefty positions and you have the PC perfect storm. The only flaw in their cunning plan is that Obama is not the brightest bulb on the tree. (READ MORE)

Blue Star Chronicles: We Are the Government - For those who don’t know, WE are the government. Those of us who work and pay taxes are, that is. This comes to my mind following a wasted two hours at Wal-mart trying by some groceries and other odds and ends. It started out well enough. I had been to my mother’s house for a nice dinner and visiting with several family members. Everything was fine and then I made the inexplicable decision to stop by Wal-mart on the way home to pick up a few things. I know how the Wal-mart scene works. (READ MORE)

The Counterterrorism Blog: Muslim Brotherhood Phonebook Confirms that MAS is Brotherhood's Baby - As the terror-support trial of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) continued today, FBI agent Lara Burns testified that a phonebook found at the home of Ismail Elbarrasse - un-indicted co-conspirator and former assistant to HAMAS leader Musa Abu Marzook - listed the names and numbers of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in the United States. On the first page of the phonebook under the title “Members of the Board of Directors” were fifteen names. Among those names are Ahmad Elkadi, Jamal Badawi, and Omar Soubani: the founding incorporators of the Muslim American Society (MAS). (READ MORE)

The D-Ring: Army tightening its grip on bloggers? - NETCOM, the Army command responsible for the maintenance and preservation of the military’s online network, has blocked access to Blogger, Google’s popular blogging platform, from government computers, according to Army employees. Sources tell The D-Ring that Blogger blogs (which can easily be identified because they have the word “blogspot” in their Web address) were blocked for “security reasons” — there was concern about “malicious code” associated with Blogger blogs. A spokesman for NETCOM denies that they are blocking Blogger. (READ MORE)

Baron Bodissey: That Doggone Mohammed - I have written previously about the Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who had entered several drawings depicting Mohammed as a dog in a Swedish art exhibit, only to have them preemptively censored by the exhibit’s organizers. Mr. Vilks’ response to the controversy, especially after he started to receive death threats, has been to draw more pictures of the Prophet as a dog. The latest, shown at right, is titled “The Prophet Mohammed as a Mullah-Dog”. (READ MORE)

Quid Nimis: Holy Cows and Veiled Threats - I was in the middle of a great big "In defense of religious freedom" post when I had to stop and take care of some non-virtual business. I had worked myself up to a real lather about the British authorities killing a bull that tested positive for bovine tuberculosis. Nothing unusual in that except that the bovine in question was Shambo the Sacred Bullock of Skanda Vale, a Hindu encampment ashram commune monastic community in rural Wales. When I read about the case it was already over but for the shouting: the inexorable forces of the British bureaucracy in the form of the Ag Ministry has sent their jack-booted bullock snatchers into A TEMPLE and ripped Shambo, a god to millions of Asians (as Peggy Hill would say) from the his digs in the sanctuary of the temple. (READ MORE)

Neptunus Lex: Stupid facts - Tawanna Brawley. Duke LAX. Scott Thomas Beauchamp. The narrative. It is one thing to assemble evidence and from them draw conclusions. It is quite another to start with a conclusion and then assemble supporting evidence. Too many reporters and their editors use the latter technique, because, as John Leo points out in his excellent Townhall column, they find the “story lines congenial” even when the facts - those stupid, stubborn facts - get in the way of “the narrative”: (READ MORE)

Scott Johnson: CAIR: The Unindicted Co-conspirator - Reflecting on yesterday's Wall Street Journal wudu editorial that I wrote about here yesterday, I realize that even some sophisticated consumers of news appear not to understand that the Council on American-Islamic Relations is not a bona fide civil rights organization. Rather, it is an Islamist front group. This is a point that Daniel Pipes and Sharon Chadha, for example, have documented in "CAIR: Islamists fooling the establishment." It is a point I tried to make last month in "What is CAIR?" We noted the government's naming of CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator in its case against the Holy Land Foundation this past June. (READ MORE)

McQ: Fingers firmly in the wind, Dems begin subtle change on Iraq - Tony Blankley notes that it is sometimes better to determine where we are politically by reading the press from other countries. He quotes the following from Der Speigel this week about the politics of the Iraq war in the US: "The wind has shifted in Washington. America, not just its president, is at war. The Democrats are still critical of the failed Iraq campaign, but they are no longer opposed to the "War on Terror" in general. It has been accepted, and not just as a metaphor ... Ninety-two percent of Americans are opposed to an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, and a majority doesn’t want to see the U.S.’s special detention camp at Guantanamo Bay closed. At the moment, the American electorate’s biggest criticism of Bush is that he has not been aggressive enough in pursuing terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.” (READ MORE)

The Tygrrr Express: Thank You Karl Rove - As many political junkies dissect the legacy of Karl Rove, I simply want to convey one message. Mr Rove…Thank you sir. Thank you very much. First of all, thank you for your service. I do not believe politicians are inherently corrupt, and I do not believe public service is criminality dressed nicely. You could have made millions more for many years in the private sector, and you chose to help the President. Your millions of dollars and speaking fees await you, and like brilliant strategists such as Newt Gingrich and Haley Barbour, you’ve earned every penny. (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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