March 31, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 03/31/2008

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)
Bush to Meet NATO Allies Divided Over Adding Troops in Afghanistan - President Bush heads to Europe today to try to rescue the faltering mission in Afghanistan, and key NATO allies plan to meet his demands for more forces with modest troop increases, though not by as much as U.S. military officers say is needed to put down a stubborn Taliban insurgency. (READ MORE)

Obama, McCain Forged Fleeting Alliance - A year into his tenure on Capitol Hill, Barack Obama (D-Ill.) approached John McCain on the Senate floor to propose the two work together on a lobbying and ethics reform bill. The four-term Arizona Republican, 25 years Obama's senior, quickly saw a willing apprentice to help shake up the way... (READ MORE)

Sadr Tells His Militia To Cease Hostilities - BAGHDAD, March 30 -- Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers Sunday to lay down their arms and end six days of clashes against U.S. and Iraqi forces if the government agrees to release detainees and give amnesty to Sadr's fighters, among other demands. (READ MORE)

Blogger outreach boosts McCain - Even as talk radio was brutalizing Sen. John McCain in the Republican presidential primaries, conservative bloggers reached a respectful truce with the Arizona senator over touchy issues and gave him what the campaign called a "tremendous positive psychological" boost. (READ MORE)

U.S. used suspended security firm - Federal contracting officials signed off on millions of dollars in work last year to a Washington-area security contractor weeks after it was suspended by the General Services Administration and months before two top former executives were charged in a massive bribery and tax scam, government records show. (READ MORE)

Paulson plan aims to temper regulation - A sweeping overhaul of financial regulation that Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. will propose today started out last year as an effort to streamline and deregulate oversight of global markets, but the administration was forced to add elements addressing the mortgage crisis as it escalated this year. (READ MORE)

Mass grave uncovered in Iraq - The graves of more than 50 people thought killed by al Qaeda in Iraq during their two-year reign of terror in Diyala province's "bread basket" region have been found in a pomegranate orchard in a village near the town of Himbus. (READ MORE)

Clinton, Obama debate electoral-map strategy - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama have very different views of what plays and what will win in the remaining primaries in both red and blue states. (READ MORE)

France will push U.S. on EU defense - French commitments to send 1,000 additional soldiers to Afghanistan may be conditional on U.S. support for the European Union's defense plan that some say will shift power away from U.S. and British interests. (READ MORE)

Cleric Suspends Battle in Basra by Shiite Militia - The Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr on Sunday called for his followers to stop fighting in Basra and in turn demanded concessions from Iraq’s government. (READ MORE)

McCain Faces Test in Wooing Elite Donors - Senator John McCain has so far managed to enlist only a fraction of the heavyweight fund-raisers who helped drive President Bush’s two runs for the White House. (READ MORE)

Maliki's Mettle - Among the worst mistakes of the Iraq war has been starting battles we weren't prepared to finish. Think Fallujah in 2004. We hope Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki absorbed that lesson before he began his campaign last week to defeat rogue militias in Basra. (READ MORE)

Hillary's Bad History - No, not sniper fire in Bosnia. We're referring to Hillary Clinton's lament last week that the U.S. is flirting with a 1990s Japan-style deflation. Perhaps it's a good time to remind everyone what really happened in Japan, so Mrs. Clinton and the rest of Washington don't make the same mistakes. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Burt Prelutsky: Liberals and Their False Idols - There are major differences between liberals and conservatives, and that’s why I never know what people such as Barack Obama are talking about when they speak of bringing us all together. And I suspect that Jeremiah Wright’s surrogate son doesn’t know, either. For instance, if I support the surge in Iraq and you insist on bringing the troops home by next Thursday, what’s our compromise? Bringing our troops only partway home? Say as far as the Canary Islands? If you’re in favor of same-sex marriages and I happen to think the whole idea is a very silly joke, where’s our common ground? Doing away with opposite-sex marriages? (READ MORE)

Armstrong Williams: Avoiding Math and Science Like The Plague - Take a minute to think about the following: When was the last time you made a mathematical calculation in your head or by hand (yes which means not using a calculator)? Surely, some of you avoid math like the plague – especially when your teenage child comes around looking for help on their math homework – but you must admit that even in this compalculator era it comes in handy to be able to tally your bills in your head or figure out the miles per gallon you’re getting while driving along in traffic. Surely it seems reasonable to expect that people with high school diplomas and college degrees shouldn’t be afraid of a little algebra. We all took math in school, and although most of us struggled with the subject, and many of us hated every second of it, we did it and we got by. We got by, and it has helped us in some way or another while at college, work, or home. But if you thought math was hard for you, consider how hard your kids have it. (READ MORE)

Dinesh D'Souza: Ten Truths About The Election - 1. Obama's connection with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright makes him unelectable in the general election, even though neither he nor most of the pundits seem to have recognized this yet. Obama continues to campaign as if he is still viable. The mainstream media continues to cover him as if he was still viable. In reality, Obama’s candidacy is seriously imperilled, and Hillary Clinton—yes Hillary Clinton!—is the strongest Democratic candidate left in the race. 2. John McCain is the strongest candidate the Republicans could have nominated. This is not to say he is the perfect candidate. He is not conservative across the board, although he is conservative on the things that matter the most. He is a bit too old, and it shows. Still, he has the best chance of winning out of the GOP field. The irony is that if it were left up to the right-wing pundits, they would have chosen Mitt Romney. (READ MORE)

Star Parker: An open letter to John McCain - Dear John McCain, Every relationship requires effort. I want to do my part. But there needs to be common ground to start with, and you're making it harder and harder for me to find where it is. I'm an optimist and a woman of faith. I believe we are strong because our nation is meant to be, as President Reagan often reminded us, a "shining city upon a hill." You spoke in Los Angeles the other day about our country and its place in the world. You talked about political, economic and military strength, and international citizenship. (READ MORE)

A Soldier's Mind: Movie Review: Stop-Loss - Unrealistic… Inaccurate… Inconsitent… Those are the words that come to mind after seeing this movie on Sunday. The movie starts out portraying a military unit, dressed in DCU uniforms (Desert Camoflauge Uniform), conducting checkpoints in the middle of Tikrit, Iraq. That leads you to believe that the timeframe the movie is based in, is during the initial years of the conflict in Iraq. From the beginning, the movie is unrealistic, as it portrays the wrong way to set-up a checkpoint. As far as portraying what our Troops might encounter in this situation, that’s probably the most realistic part of the movie. Suddenly, they’re confronted by a white taxi-cab who refuses their orders to stop, as it approaches the checkpoint. As the Troops fire warning shots, the car turns and a passenger in the rear seat begins firing upon the Troops at the checkpoint. Realistic enough. They immediately radio in that they’re being fired up and in pursuit of the taxi. (READ MORE)

AFSister @ Argghhh!: Bringing Matt Home - It's been confirmed: SSG Keith "Matt" Maupin's remains have been positively id'd through DNA evidence. He's really gone. It's something I've always "known", but somehow, getting that confirmation tonight is just numbing. I keep finding myself saying "He's really gone", and breaking out in tears again. His parents NEVER gave up believing that he would be found, alive, and brought home. They were partially right- he was found, and will be brought home.. but not alive. He's really, truly, beyond doubt... gone. (READ MORE)

Richard Landes: When is a Christian who cites a Jew criticizing another Jew guilty of Anti-Semitism? In French Court - John Rosenthal, one of the best journalists covering the strange world of French politics and Jihad, has an article at PJMedia on the Kafka-in-Wonderland world of the infamous Chamber 17 of the French court system, dedicated to cases of defamation. In this case, to which I have only alluded, a French Christian is found guilty of “anti-Semitism” for posting an article by an Israeli Jew, Stephane Juffa, criticizing, among others, Charles Enderlin, that “veritable pyromaniac of war.” The logic of the accusation brought by Enderlin is nothing short of staggering, and the guilty verdict of the judge, Nicholas Bonnal (who has, at other times, shown sober judgment), mind-boggling. I quote some key passages below. (READ MORE)

Gabriel Malor @ Ace of Spades: More Doomsday Predictions - Rick Moran riffs off of this NY Times piece to speculate about the dangers of scientific progress. First, let's talk about the Times' article and then we'll get to Rick's comments. It's really quite simple. A couple of guys think that CERN's nearly completed Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland might cause the destruction of the Earth when it is activated. They think our options are either being sucked into a black-hole or fused into one big lump of strange matter, Ice-nine style. Their solution is to sue the Department of Energy and Fermilab (both of which are alleged to contribute to the project) for failure to file an environmental impact statement. That should be enough, they think, to derail the collider. They included CERN as a defendant, but it's doubtful the federal courts have jurisdiction over a European physics lab. (READ MORE)

Dafydd: Fascism Defined - I believe Ayn Rand was correct in her constant admonition that one should always define ones' terms. I have used the phrase "liberal fascism" several times on this blog, so it's high time I told you what I mean by it. The purpose of this post is to provoke discussion, so feel free to chime in on the comments; I am of course open to rewriting and modifying this definition based upon input from our insightful readers. In this case, "liberal" means doing something to help people "for their own good," as opposed to doing it for direct personal power and aggrandizement. I believe that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama sincerely believe that their leadership -- not their policies, as they really have none beyond collectivism and pragmatism; everything else is spur of the moment and temporary until they think of the next policy -- their leadership will bring about world peace, brotherhood, and a loving village (à la "the Prisoner") in which no one will ever hurt again. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: Flushing out the British Narrative - Preliminary reading: The Battle in Basra & Continued Chaos in Basra. In the midst of the chaos in Basra at the moment with the British forces sitting at the Basra airport, it is necessary to construct a narrative for what happened and why. One problem is that not even all of the British commentators agree on that narrative. Some Brits are saying that the current battle is just what we’ve been waiting for. It’s good that it has finally come and that the Iraqis are carrying it out. “The British military always knew the test would come and it has arrived with the offensive that Iraqi forces have launched in Basra against the Shi’ite militias and criminal gangs who have run too much of the city for too long. British-trained Iraqi units have been in action, directed by Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, in what is clearly a crucial encounter for the future of Iraq.” (READ MORE)

Dadmanly: NYT vs NSA - The New York Times this week attempted to add historical perspective and justification for their infamous exposure of highly classified National Security Agency (NSA) terror surveillance programs. The Times, of course, considers their illegal and arguably treasonous acts in revealing classified programs and information as valued public service, of a piece with other disclosures of classified information. Significantly, the editors at the Times only consider national secrets worthy of public exposure when they do maximum damage to their political opponents. A.J. Strata provided excellent and reinforcing rebuttal to the Times self-serving rationalizations: NY Times Reporters Try To Defend Grave Mistake - Of Course Fail. (READ MORE)

Noah Shachtman: Sadr Calls for Cease-Fire? (Updated) - Great news, potentially. According to the AP, "Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said Sunday that he was pulling his fighters off the streets nationwide and called on the government to stop raids against his followers and free them from prison." “The Iraqi government quickly welcomed al-Sadr's apparent move to resolve a widening conflict with his movement, sparked Tuesday by operations against his backers in the oil-rich southern city of Basra.” (READ MORE)

Bruce Kesler: Explaining Obama, Clinton and Kerry’s False Histories - It’s a wonder to observers that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry so blatantly -- and relatively easily revealed as otherwise -- invented their histories as heroic, exemplary and worthy of leadership. Their formative education coincides with a post-war radical trend in historiography called leftist revisionism. Although revisions of historical understandings are a commonplace occurrence as new sources come to light, the radical left in post-war America veered into a myth that the causes of the Cold War, and of Vietnam and now Iraq, came from avaricious and racist motives and are furthered by outright mendacity and secret cabals. (READ MORE)

Phil Orenstein: Patriotism, Freedom and the American Dream - What a month. America’s college basketball fans have been riveted to their TV screens as the NCAA tournaments roar into the Final Fours during the month of March Madness. But what has recently been inundating the scene in the world of politics, religion, academia, the economy and international call-girls rings should be dubbed March Madness as well. This March, we’ve seen our share of madness from the pulpit as Barack Obama’s radical pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright vilified America and Israel and cursed the white race in venomous sermons played relentlessly over the internet and cable TV. (READ MORE)

Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee: Open Letter to Senator Obama - Eloquently written, powerful & evocative. “Dear Senator Obama: I have now read and reread your speech, understanding you take this to be a “teaching moment,” I have applied myself to its lessons. But some questions have arisen and I need a little more clarification. You tell me Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s horrendous remarks will take on a different meaning if I will but contextualize them and understand he has seen terrible things in his time, a burden shared by all African-Americans. A fair proposition; from Kant to Auden and beyond we learn we define by comparison and only by internalizing can we grasp true meaning. So I have done precisely that: looked inside myself to understand how hatred might need to be contextualized.” (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Queer politics - They’ll meet for workshops on beating the Republicans, and for do-it-yourself sex toys. When RuPaul was popular on TV, one of my kids asked me what I thought. I replied that this is America; you can be whoever you want to be when you grow up. Still, I am amused by an LGBTQ group in Chicago’s press release on its convention this weekend. LGBTQ? At the rate they are adding letters, they’ll run out of consonants. They “oppose oppression both in and out of the ‘movement.’ Racism, Patriarchy, Heterosexism, Sexism, Transphobia and all oppressive behavior.” Well, don’t we all? (READ MORE)

Flopping Aces: Will They Admit Progress? - Great job as usual by Michael Goldfarb in describing the fighting in Basra. Basically saying that those who moan and cry about Iraq always like to point out that the militia’s are still running rampant. Well now Maliki is doing something about it and what do we get? More whining. Michael: “Faced with an intractable problem, Maliki bet big and confronted the most powerful militia in Iraq. When one looks at the rest of the Middle East, it’s not at all apparent that the region’s more problematic regimes are inclined to do the same. Take Pakistan, where broad swaths of the country are controlled by militias, the Taliban, al Qaeda. If only Musharraf had the resolve to violently confront these threats to his government’s sovereignty. It’s the same in the Palestinian territories, where Mahmoud Abbas must rely on the IDF to keep him in power. Abbas might be willing to confront Hamas, but he is unable. And in Lebanon, a weak central government lacks the resolve to strike at Hezbollah. It strikes me as a good thing that Maliki can and will go after those who directly challenge his government–even to the New York Times it looks like progress.” (READ MORE)

Fjordman: Boycott the United Nations! - The United Nation’sSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Wilder’s movie Fitna as “offensively anti-Islamic,” and said that “There is no justification for hate speech or incitement to violence.” Does that mean that the UN is now going to ban the Koran, which does both? As Robert Spencer commented, “What exactly is ‘hate speech’ about quoting Qur’an verses and then showing Muslim preachers using those verses to exhort people to commit acts of violence, as well as violent acts committed by Muslims inspired by those verses and others?” Earlier in March, the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is dominated by Muslim countries, passed a resolution saying it is deeply concerned about the defamation of religions and urging governments to prohibit it. The only religion specified is Islam. (READ MORE)

Hamilton, Madison, and Jay: Correcting the myth over Basra campaign - A few on the Left have made the efforts in Basra out to be something they're not. Namely, they point to the rise of Sadr's Mahdi militias as a sign that the Surge has failed, and Iraq stands on the brink of a civil war. (How many civil wars is that? I forget.) As Captain Ed explains when the Brits left Basra, the thugs down there fought for control. Mookie al-Sadr's boys won, and decided to push their limits. The Iraqi forces weren't up to snuff in 2005/2006, at least not on par with what was needed to take on the Shi'ite militia. However this time around the security forces, working in concert with US forces, were ready. Guess who lost this fight? Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Sunday ordered his fighters off the streets nationwide and called on the government to stop raids against his followers and free them from prison. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Politico: Obama lied about survey - Politico has caught Barack Obama in another misstatement about his past, and this one goes right to the heart of his posing as a New Politics candidate. Working on a tip from opposition sources, Kenneth Vogel found a survey with Obama’s handwriting that he had previously denied handling. It shows that Obama himself established much more liberal positions on gun control, abortion, and other issues than he has admitted in his campaign: “During his first run for elected office, Barack Obama played a greater role than his aides now acknowledge in crafting liberal stands on gun control, the death penalty and abortion– positions that appear at odds with the more moderate image he’s projected during his presidential campaign.” (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: “Part of the Problem” - Persians magnanimous agree to call off their Shiite militias. I guess this means we don’t have to “alleged” or “U.S. accuses Iran of involvement” or any other qualifiers anymore. Apparently the mullahs are calling the shots. Iraqi lawmakers went to Qom over the weekend to ask an Iranian general to kindly stand down his murderous stooges. “Iraqi lawmakers traveled to the Iranian holy city of Qom over the weekend to win the support of the commander of Iran’s Qods brigades in persuading Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr to order his followers to stop military operations, members of the Iraqi parliament said.” (READ MORE)

Hot Air: MyDD: Watch out for the evil GOP doing something … like this! - Apparent Hillary Clinton supporter Universal at MyDD wants the Democrats to realize the predicament they face in November if Barack Obama wins the nomination. He thinks the Republicans will create unfair and devastating advertising that will appeal to fear, using 9/11 imagery to derail Obama. Universal wants to protect the Democrats from this fate — so he cranked out an ad to kneecap Obama first (via Instapundit): “If we choose Obama as our nominee, we are locked-in to this narrative. There is no going back, no bogus NBC polls to save the day. No Anderson Cooper softball interviews or phony charges of racism that will rescue us. The opponent doesn’t care. All the thoughtfulness and restraint of a Democratic adversary will be gone.” (READ MORE)

Neo-neocon: Obama didn’t go to law school for nothing - Law requires an exceedingly precise use of language. People who are attracted to the profession often already have this tendency, and then they are schooled further in the honing of the ability. Bill Clinton was reviled for his lawyerly use of language in the service of weaseling, of parsing his words so carefully—especially when in the service of self-defense—that although they seemed to say one thing they really said another. Listeners learned not to take his words at face value, but to scrutinize them the way a lawyer would the language of a contract about to be signed. Now comes Barack Obama, another lawyer, not an unusual profession for politicians. Not all lawyer-politicians are up there with Bill in the word-parsing competition, but Obama is revealing himself—far more than Hillary—to be Bill’s true heir in that department. (READ MORE)

Melanie Phillips Blog: What the west needs to know - A propos the Wilders film Fitna, another longer film is now on line which does a much better job at informing people about Islam and exposing the absurd (early) claims by Tony Blair and George W Bush that Islamic terrorism apparently had nothing to do with Islam. Called What the West Needs to Know, it explains in a scholarly, authoritative but nevertheless accessible and balanced manner how the basic tenets of Islam have given rise to the global jihad, their implications and consequences and how they are the principal motor behind major conflicts around the world (the defining battle of Vienna in 1683 which is pictured above and where Europe repulsed the Islamic advance took place on...September 11); and it also explains, not at all comfortingly, how the many millions of Muslims who live entirely peaceful lives relate to these precepts (they are either ignorant of them, says Robert Spencer, or else they reject them on flimsy theological grounds; let's hope that's not the whole story). (READ MORE)

Mark Tapscott: Duke blasts another hole in First Amendment on campus - It shouldn't surprise or sadden me anymore to read about a once-noble university now acting as if the First Amendment was never adopted, but it still does. Remember the Duke lacrosse team outrage? Well, the players and their families are suing all of the responsible parties, including Duke. I doubt there have been many cases in which a damages suit was more justified than this one. Frankly, there would be such sweet justice if the three young men whose lives were shattered by false rape charges end up owning Duke University, so they can fire school president Richard Brodhead and the faculty members who aided and abetted the students' defamation. (READ MORE)

Cassandra: Winter Soldier II: The Inconvenient Truths Americans Won't Hear from the Media - The other night as my husband and I drove home from a party in Washington, DC we spoke of the war and wondered how historians will one day view current events. It's strange to think that historians in the time of Herodotus had only the verbal accounts of survivors to reconstruct battles. Future historians will have many and varied sources: news accounts, blogs, emails and letters, pictures and video taken with cell phones, even YouTubes. It boggles the mind. One might, at first, think such a plethora of sources would yield a more accurate picture of war: lead historians to a swifter consensus about what happened; what it all meant. I wonder, though. Will all this information clarify, or confuse? Will we, with our human tendency to sift out what confirms our own biases, simply, seize from this abundance what is useful and discard the discordant notes? (READ MORE)

Ron Winter: If Al Sadr Wants a Truce - He's Getting His Ass Kicked! - So-called militia fighters, who in reality are little more than organized criminal gangs hiding behind a religious facade, have been a wild card in the efforts to build a new and better Iraq since Saddam Hussein's army fell in 2003. The best known, but not necessarily the worst, of the bunch is the Mahdi Army run by a renegade self-anointed cleric known as Muqtada Al Sadr. To give you an idea of his street credibility, there is a slum in Baghdad named after him. Big Whoop! Last week the elected government of Iraq ordered a crackdown on Mookie's army, which has basically been running the show in Basra, and walking around Baghdad scowling and threatening anyone who even dares to hope for peace and prosperity. These are Islamo-fascists, people. They don't believe in peace and prosperity for anyone except them and only under their warped view of their religion! (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: Whose Broad Brush And Bright Ideas? - With the widespread unpleasant response to Geert Wilders' film on Islam, "Fitna," I'm finding myself thinking about the "big picture" thing again. And, as usual, I'm making myself angry. Muslims around the world are calling on all governments to get behind censoring the film. And make no mistake -- it's censorship, plain and simple. Whether it's being done as an "appeal to understanding" or naked threats of violence, the end result is the same -- they are getting their way and suppressing a film that says things they don't like. Their biggest target is the Dutch government. After all, Wilders is a Dutch legislator, so his government should be held accountable for his actions. (READ MORE)

The Midnight Sun: U.N. INDICTS WILDERS AND ‘EXTREMIST MINORITY’ - Self-professed socialist P.M. and now Mr Global, Kevin Rudd has been over licking the boots of the UN in general and Ban Ki Moon in particular. He’s coughed up $35 million of your money to sit his pudgy butt at the round-table of the reprobate. See here. So who’s he buddying up with? The latest headline reads: Ban Ki-moon condemns offensively anti-Islamic film. Those at the top of the global elite are making known exactly where they stand on Fitna…’offensively anti-Islamic film’ , ‘condemn, in the strongest terms’, being the language used by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon: (READ MORE)

SC&A: “What We Have Here Is A Failure To Educate” And Other Kinds Of Child Abuse - One of the most accurate reflections of the state of health and fitness of a nation, culture or society is the state of health of it’s educational system. The more education a nation, culture or society affords it’s students, the more healthy that nation, culture or society. The more a nation, culture or society demands good education, the more advanced that society and culture are. Education is also a barometer of the state of freedom within a a nation, culture or society. The more freedom a citizen has to learn and explore, the freer that society is. Education is not about ideologies or specific beliefs. Education is about the freedom to explore, be it of the armchair or field variety. In a healthy society, education exists along side ideology and specific beliefs. There are Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and Jewish universities where religious beliefs and instruction go hand in hand with the experience of learning and the exploration of new ideas. (READ MORE)

McQ: Gore launches 300 million ’climate crisis’ ad campaign - You know, for a guy who just said in an interview that skeptics are a "tiny, tiny minority now with their point of view, they’re almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the world is flat,", he sure is behind spending a lot of money to convince the world there’s a ’climate crisis’ problem (apparently "global warming" is out - not urgent enough): This is part of a 3 year, 300 million ad campaign directed at "non-news" types who watch shows such as American Idol and what are called other "non-traditional" shows. So what does that mean, traditional folks might be skeptical? People who watch the news might be skeptical as well? (READ MORE)

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