January 17, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 01/17/2008

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

In the News: (Registration may be required to read some stories)
U.S. Boosts Its Use of Airstrikes In Iraq - The U.S. military conducted more than five times as many airstrikes in Iraq last year as it did in 2006, targeting al-Qaeda safe houses, insurgent bombmaking facilities and weapons stockpiles in an aggressive strategy aimed at supporting the U.S. troop increase by overwhelming enemies with air power. (READ MORE)

Conflicting Interests Present Hurdles to Stimulus Package - A rush by President Bush and Democratic leaders to assemble an economic stimulus package to stave off a recession is being complicated by a potentially debilitating brew of presidential politics, ideological differences and special interest lobbying. (READ MORE)

47 Killed as Insurgents Take Key Fort in NW Pakistan - ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Jan. 16 -- Hundreds of insurgent fighters mounted a brazen assault on a key fort in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, seizing it from security forces in a battle that left at least 47 people dead, the military said. (READ MORE)

Democracy Activists Disappointed in Bush - CAIRO, Jan. 16 -- President Bush on Wednesday ended a Middle East tour that political activists saw as lacking the strong calls for democratization made earlier in his administration, disappointing those once encouraged by the statements of American leaders. In Egypt and elsewhere, people are growing more concerned with food than with rights. (READ MORE)

Army Chief May Shorten Tours In Iraq, Afghanistan by Summer - Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army's chief of staff, said yesterday he hopes to shorten the 15-month tours in Iraq and Afghanistan this summer. The move would end a policy, required by the buildup of nearly 30,000 U.S. troops in Iraq last year, that has placed significant stress on soldiers and their families. (READ MORE)

Republicans and Taxes - As the rugby scrum that is the Republican Presidential race heads to South Carolina, the players are wrestling on conservative turf. So it's a good time to wrestle ourselves with an issue that has become a conservative signature -- taxes. (READ MORE)

Papal Inquisition - American universities aren't the only places where politically incorrect speakers are silenced nowadays. This week in Rome, of all places, Pope Benedict XVI found himself censored by scholars, of all people, at one of Europe's most prestigious universities. (READ MORE)

Europe v. U.S. Business - EU competition chief Neelie Kroes's determination to cow large, successful American firms with antitrust laws is nothing new. But the latest Brussels sally against Microsoft is a good time for Washington to wake up to Europe's regulatory imperialism. (READ MORE)

Olmert Ally Quits Ruling Coalition - A hawkish minister pulled his party out of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government yesterday, weakening the coalition as it begins talks on core issues with the Palestinians. (READ MORE)

NATO Seen Cool to Hot Spots in Afghanistan - The U.S. has to send Marines to Afghanistan because other NATO members don't want to deploy forces to more violent areas and have not come through on their promises to send troops, congressional critics and intelligence officials say. (READ MORE)

Kyl Slams Democrats on Economy - The Senate's new No. 2 Republican yesterday said the Democrats' economic-stimulus plans threaten to do more harm than good but that election-year pressure for quick action could fracture Republican opposition. (READ MORE)

Ex-Republican Lawmaker Accused of Aiding Terrorist - A federal grand jury in Missouri has indicted an Islamic relief agency, several of its former officers and a former Republican congressman on charges of illegally transferring cash, along with stolen government funds, to a U.S.-designated terrorist. (READ MORE)

New D.C. Museums Offer Variety for a Price - Three new high-profile museums that charge admission fees will be vying for customers in the District this spring, but they all insist they can compete with each other as well as the city's existing free museums. (READ MORE)

Huckabee Vows to Send all Illegal Aliens Home - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee yesterday continued to move to the right on immigration during this year's presidential campaign, signing a pledge to enforce immigration laws and to make all illegal aliens go home. (READ MORE)

From the Front:
1romad: The Doldrums (this could be a dangerous post) - I just realized that my last post was New Year's Day. Well 16 days later and not a lot has changed. And therein lies the danger! One begins to look for ways to "shake things up"--which is generally discouraged in a military environment. Yes, the addition of a hot water maker (a big coffe maker without the coffee filter) made enough of a difference to keep me thoroughly occupied for days. But, like the neglected toys weeks after Christmas, the hot water maker has lost its novelty. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: View from the Overlook - The BBC reports today that the international organizations of the IMF and UN are optimistic about Iraq. "Iraq faces a period of economic growth and political progress, according to assessments by the International Monetary Fund and the UN," says the story. How good does it look? "The IMF sees 7% growth in 2008 and a similar rise next year, and says oil revenues from buoyant exports should be up by 200,000 barrels a day." (READ MORE)

Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: Sheikapalooza - Red and black headdresses scattered the scenery below, colors flamboyantly marking allegiances in the same manner they do for streets gangs back home. Next to roving groups of scared teenage boys armed with AK-47s, on the roof of a community center that would befit a drug kingpin’s villa in Vice City, five Gravediggers and I overwatched a mass meeting of 100ish local civic leaders and Sheiks. As per the Arabic tradition, they were screaming at each other, and hand gesticulation operated on Ostentation Level 10. I looked over at SFC Big Country, who shook his head and took another drag from his cigarette, while his other hand maintained its’ presence near his rifle’s trigger. (READ MORE)

Lt. Nixon Rants: Welcome to the New Era of Malaise - The Onion recently ran an article entitled "Failure Now an Option" depicting sullen looking soldiers in their ACUs as the graphic. I don't think it's The Onion ragging on our troopers, since the gist of the humor piece is that Americans in general are starting to feel a lack of confidence and general malaise. The Iraq war is still going on, and despite some slow, steady progress, the bossman reminds us that we may need to be here awhile. (READ MORE)

Matt Sanchez: 20 Years Later - I first remember seeing Col. Oliver North raising his hand and giving testimony in front of Congress. As a kid, I didn't understand much about the televised and highly publicized Iran Contra Affair hearings, all I saw was a man in uniform raising his hand and answering questions. But so much of communication has little to do with what is actually said. "I did do it, I am not, as I said in my statement, at all ashamed of any of the things I did. I had a mission and I tried to carry it out," he said. (READ MORE)

Andrew Lubin: BACK TO IRAQ! - Finally - I’m off to Iraq! Writing about the efforts of our Marines and Soldiers at war is an honor, but doing it from the safety of my desk is a bit embarrassing. But tomorrow evening I’m off again to Iraq for approx a month, from where I can report back to you from out in the field. It’ll take me a few days to get out in the field, but from approx Monday, I’ll have three reports for you weekly. I’ll be in the “Bagdad belts” for a week; going out in the field with the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 30th ID continue to drive AQI from their area. Working from here, I’ll be reporting to you on their efforts, as well as the follow-on work of the Provisional Reconstruction Teams help the locals rebuild the economy. Especially in Iraq the cry is “Its job’s, stupid!” (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Things I've learned, part 2 - After eight months in Afghanistan, here are some of the things I've learned. (Click here to see other things I've learned.) A "five-star hotel" and a "Five Stars" hotel are two very different things. How many Afghans can you fit in a car? One more. Even if it is culturally acceptable, two guys holding hands looks gay. Warming up the engine can mean building a fire underneath it. Saying goodbye to your wife is never easy. American women don't know how good they have it. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Richard W. Rahn: Inflation and the Tax Man - Rudy Giuliani's tax-reform proposal includes indexing capital-gains taxes for inflation -- that is, putting the original price of the asset in today's dollars. All of the Republican candidates have called for low or lower taxes on capital gains, while the Democrats favor higher capital-gains taxes. But inflation-indexing of capital gains should be part of every candidate's "economic stimulus" package, regardless of party affiliation. (READ MORE)

John Fund: Voter-Fraud Rethink - Both Democrats and Republicans are good at practicing hypocrisy when they need to. But it's still breathtaking to see how some Democrats ignore that it was only last week they argued before the Supreme Court that an Indiana law requiring voters show ID at the polls would reduce voter turnout and disenfranchise minorities. Nevada allies of Hillary Clinton have just sued to shut down several caucus sites inside casinos along the Las Vegas Strip, potentially disenfranchising thousands of Hispanic or black shift workers who couldn't otherwise attend the 11:30 a.m. caucus this coming Saturday. (READ MORE)

David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey: Justice for the CIA - Last week, a federal judge in Washington, D.C. refused to open his own inquiry into the CIA's 2005 destruction of videotapes showing the interrogation of high-level al Qaeda prisoners. In rejecting this demand by lawyers for various Guantanamo Bay detainees, Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. noted that there was no evidence that the Bush administration had violated court orders, and that he fully expected the Department of Justice to investigate the matter, following the facts "wherever they may lead." (READ MORE)

Soccerdad: Arabist apologia - via memeorandumMcClatchey’s Washington Bureau provides an analysis of President Bush’s recent tour of the Middle East, Bush departs Mideast with few apparent gains, experts say: “President Bush wraps up a weeklong tour of the Middle East Wednesday, leaving many Mideast political observers mystified as to the purpose of the visit and doubtful that the president made inroads on his twin campaigns for Arab-Israeli peace and isolation for Iran.Bush is heading back to Washington mostly empty-handed, said several analysts and politicians throughout the region. Arab critics deemed Bush’s peace efforts unrealistic, his anti-Iran tirades dangerous, his praise of authoritarian governments disappointing and his defense of civil liberties ironic.” I guess the “experts” of the headline are “Arab critics.” (READ MORE)

Meryl Yourish: Rocket barrage hits Israel, media buries story - You would barely know that 41 kassam rockets were fired into Israel on Tuesday, and another 30 so far today. You would barely know that there’s been another civilian injured. You would barely know this because the media are suppressing the news and burying it when they do mention it. CNN doesn’t think a rocket barrage on Israel merits a separate story from Yisrael Beitenu leaving Olmert’s coalition. But they do find it newsworthy to put the news of Palestinian civilian deaths, and the death of a senior PIJ terrorist, in their “Highlights” section. (READ MORE)

Michael Tanji: A Dearth of Fresh Ideas - From a security and intelligence perspective, the new year in the long war has started out like previous years. Faced with serious and often overwhelming problems, the government proposes several solutions aimed at improving our security that are almost certain to fail to achieve that objective. The FBI for example, would like to build a giant biometrics database to help identify terrorists and other evil doers. Additionally, the Director of National Intelligence is about to argue that the intelligence community should gain access to all Internet traffic transiting the US. (READ MORE)

The Sundries Shack: You Know What Our Problem Is? Not Enough Tyrant-Coddling From The MSM - Sometimes you read something that makes you laugh even though it’s not funny at all. This paragraph definitely counts: “What’s missing in America’s mainstream media is the voice of realism. As the label implies, realists think foreign policy should be based on the world as it really is, rather than what we might like it to be. Realists see international politics as an inherently competitive realm where states constantly compete for advantage and where security is often precarious.” Realists also have propped up dozens of tyrants over the decades. Realists were responsible for building up Saddam Hussein and for leaving him in place after the Gulf War. Realists are responsible for the house of Saud, for the Muslim Brotherhood having a choke hold on Egypt, and for both Assads holding Lebanon in thrall for the better part of twenty years. (READ MORE)

Stop the ACLU: Global Warming's Communist Underpinnings - If you need any more proof that the concept of Global Warming is less "science" and is more just a replacement for the kind of failed concepts of communism and socialism that is increasingly being rejected by the world, two recent stories helps clarify the point. The first is a recent article by one Kellie Hastings, a writer who claims that her "research is thorough" and her "articles are written with style and intellect." In a piece titled "Deadly Ozone From Drive-Thru Mania," our Miss Hastings pours out her considerable "intellect" into the theory that drive thru windows are destroying the planet and making us a bunch of fatties. (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: The Advantages of Adversity - Shortly after entering Medical School, in a class filled with young people who were extreme.ly skilled in accumulating facts and taking tests, it became clear in short order that no one would ever be able to fully master the material. The quantity of material was simply too great for anyone to completely understand. As well, much of the information was made obsolete between the first day of a course and the last day of the course; we were told explicitly that the half-life of our Medical Education was 7 years. Many of my classmates were terribly troubled to learn that the amount of studying that earned them 95% in college would barley earn a passing grade in Medical School. On some tests, half the class would score below 60%. It took a long time for me to realize that there was a method to the madness. (READ MORE)

Right Wing But House: Of "God's Standards" and Conservatism - Mike Huckabee has said some very strange things this campaign season – mostly to obscure his center-left record as a tax and spend populist while governor of Arkansas. But during his speech Monday night in front of his most fervent supporters in Michigan, Huckabee said something that revealed perhaps the true nature of his candidacy and what it means for America and his brand of “conservatism:” “[Some of my opponents] do not want to change the Constitution, but I believe it’s a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that’s what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards,” Huckabee said, referring to the need for a constitutional human life amendment and an amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. (READ MORE)

Rhymes with Right: "Constitutional" Does Not Equal "Best" -- Or Even "Good" - I've tried making that point before. A law or practice can be bad without it running afoul of the Constitution. The solution to a problem may not be the courts -- it is the legislature, or a private individual, company, or organization. That's why the US Supreme Court ruled as it did. “If it's possible for Supreme Court justices to uphold a law while holding their noses, that's what happened yesterday when the court delivered a unanimous victory for party bosses and ‘smoke-filled rooms’ in New York. The state's convoluted process for electing trial court judges may discourage outsiders, empower party bosses and even be bad policy, the court said, but it is constitutional.” (READ MORE)

Reformed Chicks Blabbing: Anti-war groups defeated by Bush - They are finally admitting defeat. One thing the article doesn't mention is the fact that since the surge appears to be working the left really doesn't have much leverage. They can't say that we are in the middle of a civil war or that the Iraqis aren't working on political solutions. All their talking points have come to naught. “After a series of legislative defeats in 2007 that saw the year end with more U.S. troops in Iraq than when it began, a coalition of anti-war groups is backing away from its multimillion-dollar drive to cut funding for the war and force Congress to pass timelines for bringing U.S. troops home.” (READ MORE)

Neptunus Lex: Precise fires - Army Rangers on a raid hunting an al Qaeda assassination cell in Mosul on Christmas morning got an unwelcome present: The sight of two gunmen playing the “human shield” game. Unfortunately for the terrorists, it’s hard for two grown men to hide behind an eleven year old child. Using precise fires, the Rangers killed both men, leaving the child unharmed. That’s when it started to get interesting: (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Pakistani troops abandon second fort in South Waziristan - The Taliban have captured a second paramilitary fort in the tribal agency of South Waziristan, but this time the fort was taken without a fight. Pakistani paramilitary troops from the Frontier Corps deserted the Saklatoi outpost on the Afghan border after the Taliban threatened to attack. About 40 paramilitary soldiers fled the post without a fight. The surrender of the Saklatoi outpost comes just one day after the Taliban launched a conventional military attack on a fort in Sararogha in South Waziristan. The Taliban overran the fort after breaching a wall with explosives during a nighttime assault. Reports put the number of Taliban forces used in the attack between 400 and 1,000. Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar said Baitullah Mehsud personally led the attack. (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: The statistical proof of liberal intolerance - When I was on the book tour for Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild, critics predictably countered by playing the moral equivalence card. Show them how intolerant, racist, sexist, hateful, conspiratorial-minded, and violent the Left can be, and they sputter “B-b-b-b-b-ut the Right is just as bad.” Spend anytime in the blogosphere and it’s clear that the two sides of the political galaxy are not created equal. One side burns effigies of American soldiers and craps on the American flag. The other does not. One side wraps itself in assassination chic. The other does not. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Allies Miffed - When maybe they need to look more closely at what Gates said and consider while they’re at it whether it’s time to pull the plug in Afghanistan, just because war is hard. More to the point, how come all our pals are losing enthusiasm for what is supposed to be the real war, forcing the US to commit more Marines when our allies won’t. I’m talking about the war in Afghanistan vs. al-Qaeda. Europe, as we’ve seen, isn’t that far away. Chertoff told the Beeb the other day he’s worried about homegrown Euro-Islamic terrorism and the ease with which Euros can enter the U.S. Here’s a Brit at the Guardian who agrees. (READ MORE)

Heading Right: This Must Be Beltway Insight - David Broder has breaking news in the presidential race. He has discovered, through his own investigation that — brace yourselves — none of the leading Democratic candidates for President has executive experience. He points out that this leaves the Democrats at a serious disadvantage to their Republican counterparts: "It was fascinating to watch the three top contenders for the Democratic nomination discuss their concept of the presidency during Tuesday night’s MSNBC debate in Las Vegas. But it was also stunning to realize that the three current and former senators who have survived the shakeout process — Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards — have not a day of chief executive experience among them." (READ MORE)

Gribbit's Word: Arizona Cracks Down Mexico Complains - Mexican illegals are flocking back to the Mexican state of Sonora because they cannot find work in Arizona any longer. This has Mexican officials in Sonora up in arms and meeting with pro-illegal immigration/open border morons in the Arizona Legislature in an attempt to get those officials to repeal the law cracking down on employers offering jobs to illegals. Their argument? That the flood of Mexicans returning to Mexico is stressing the ability for Sonora to provide housing, jobs, education, and other services for these returning Mexicans. Define irony… (READ MORE)

Neo-Neocon: A mind is a difficult thing to change: (Part 7B: the Vietnam photos revisited) - I no longer remember where, how, or why I came across the two Vietnam photos again. It was probably a random thing. Perhaps I found a link to them on a blog, perhaps somewhere else. No matter. I saw something that caught my attention and clicked on a link that led to a piece about them. Just one of many articles I saw every evening as part of my online reading. Here were the familiar images—the field execution, the napalmed girl. I hadn’t seen them in decades, but I remembered them well. I felt the shock and sadness again seeing them once more, even after all these years. (READ MORE)

DiscerningTexan: Dems "Double Down" on Defeat Shows they've learned Nothing - When it comes to Iraq, it is going to be enormously difficult for Democrats to sell America on snatching defeat from the clutches of victory in the General Election--especially considering the success of the surge. And many of the Freshmen Dems in Congress--who won in Republican districts last year on a "strong defense/support the troops" platform last year--are going to have an equally difficult task is appearing to support whichever candidate at the top of the ticket makes it through the Clinton-Obama slime-fest. Unless some catastrophe occurs, it is shaping up to possibly be a much better year for Republicans than has been the "conventional wisdom' of the media elites (who have hardly been on a 'hot streak' lately...); which makes their suicidal pandering to the Kos crowd last night even more puzzling: (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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For those who keep saying there’s “no political progres in Iraq”, here is some cou from Pros and Cons

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