December 22, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 12/22/2008

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)
Trade Barriers Toughen With Global Slump - Only a few weeks after world leaders vowed at a Washington summit to reject trade protectionism and adhere to free-market principles as they combat the global financial crisis, a host of nations are already breaking that promise. (READ MORE)

Secret Tapes Helped Build Graft Cases In Illinois - CHICAGO -- The wide-ranging public corruption probe that led to the arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich got its first big break when a grandmother of six walked into a breakfast meeting with shakedown artists wearing an FBI wire. (READ MORE)

U.S. Won't Support Zimbabwe if Mugabe Stays On, Envoy Says - JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 21 -- The United States will not support a unity government in Zimbabwe that includes President Robert Mugabe, a top American envoy told reporters in South Africa on Sunday. (READ MORE)

Quantum of Solis - There is joy in Unionville this Christmas. Barack Obama's pick for Secretary of Labor -- Hilda Solis -- brings impeccable big labor credentials. The California Congresswoman first rode to power with labor backing against a fellow Democrat, has voted with the AFL-CIO 97% of the time, and got three-quarters of her campaign contributions from unions. (READ MORE)

Striking Against Students - Teachers unions routinely claim that the interests of students are their top priority. So we would be interested to hear how the Pennsylvania affiliate of the National Education Association explains the proliferation of teacher walkouts in the middle of the school year. (READ MORE)

Proliferators on Fifth Avenue - There's no place like New York for the holidays -- the tree at Rockefeller Center, the decorated store windows, the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. Now there's something else for shoppers to think about as they stroll along Fifth Avenue: nuclear proliferators. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
CJ: “Fort Dix Five” Trial Still Deliberating - In May of last year, five men were charged with plotting to kill Soldiers and Civilians based at Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey. They are charged with conspiracy to murder military personnel and attempted murder. The trial ended five days ago and would you believe that jurors are still deliberating the case? I think I know why. See, these guys are extremist Muslims and our court system and media want to protect them. Screw the Soldiers who were targeted. After all, they have probably killed Muslims themselves and deserve to die. But, underneath it all, the reality is that the media seems to think that the Fort Dix Five have it easy. They’re being given access to our courts while those poor, lost souls in Guantanamo are forced to rot in that 5-star hotel detention facility in Cuba. Elmer Smith, of the Philadelphia Daily News, thinks the Albanian born accused terrorists deserve our rights just as those in Gitmo do. (READ MORE)

Donald Douglas: Forget Marriage, Gay or Not ... Kill Tradition Altogether - Bob Ostertag, in "Why Gay Marriage is the Wrong Issue," is brutally honest in revealing the subterranean agenda that girds the left's blitzkreig assault on tradition - from marriage itself (which will no longer have original meaning once homosexuals enjoy the same right of union that's by both nature and tradition only available to one man and one woman) to the entire Western ethical system based in Judeo-Christian morality: “Through years of queer demonstrations, meetings, readings and dinner table conversations, about gay bashing, police violence, job discrimination, housing discrimination, health care discrimination, immigration discrimination, family ostracism, teen suicide, AIDS profiteering, sodomy laws, and much more, I never once heard anyone identify the fact that they couldn't get married as being a major concern. And then, out of the blue, gay marriage suddenly became the litmus test by which we measure our allies. We have now come to the point that many unthinkingly equate opposition to gay marriage with homophobia.” (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: The Palestinian War Against Israel Never Ended - The Palestinian war against Israel never ended, it just took a deep breath. Hamas and the other terrorist groups operating in Gaza never stopped attacking Israel or plotting attacks or stockpiling weapons during the past six months. The media and the diplomats simply ignored the kassam attacks, the mortars, the infiltration attempts, and terror attacks that occurred by Palestinians stealing construction equipment to rampage through the streets of Jerusalem. By ignoring those events, the terrorists in Gaza knew that they could continue low level attacks even while demanding that Israel maintain the Palestinian hudna since it enabled Hamas to simultaneously attack Israel and largely insulate itself from reprisal attacks. Hamas must have stockpiled sufficient weapons, because they feel confident enough to say that the hudna is over. (READ MORE)

The Barnyard: A Democrat Special Interest Group, Big Labor - Barack Obama ran on the promise of ending special interest groups influence in DC so will he push for the passage of the Orwellian named Employee Free Choice Act as a favor to the big Unions? It is hard to say because like everything else that is controversial he has been very intentionally vague. Jennifer Rubin at Contentions points to this WSJ article that says the Blagojevich scandal and his negotiations with the SEIU for a cushy job in return for a pro-labor Senate appointment may just throw a monkey wrench in the works. The SEIU has donated many millions of dollars over the years to politicians with the vast majority of those funds going to the Democrats. The SEIU is also under investigation in California for running a phony charity among other scandals. They have donated 1.8 million to Blago over his political career and gotten several favors for it in return so I am sure they were playing on the same court, a pay to play court. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Pumping money - The President Elect has “expanded his goals for a massive federal stimulus package”, according to the Washington Post. The incoming administration is not only seeking ways to increase spending, but to focus it on certain types of controlled spending. The WaPo says, “Democratic lawmakers have also agreed to ban earmarks, which direct funds to individual lawmakers’ favored projects. ” “Because they are intended to pump cash quickly into the economy, stimulus measures are released from the usual budgetary constraints that require the cost of new programs and tax cuts to be covered by cutting spending or raising taxes elsewhere. Given a free pass to spend more than the nation spends on the Pentagon each year, the temptation to tack on favorite projects could be high. Summers and other Obama advisers said they are keenly aware of the problem, and are already working to persuade lawmakers of the wisdom of limiting the package only to projects likely to create a large number of jobs quickly for as little money as possible.” (READ MORE)

Confederate Yankee: Good News: BB Guns Now Classified By Journalist as Assault Rifles - I sincerely hope than any journalist ignorant enough to write "BB-gun" and "snipers" in the same sentence doesn't have firearms of his own, or else he'll likely end up as another subject of my research at the Media Violence Project (or a Darwin Awards candidate). Savor the idiocy: “Two alleged BB-gun snipers facing felony charges, including assault with a deadly weapon, used a laser scope and a BB gun that looks like a fully automatic AR-15 assault rifle, according to deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. The arrests Tuesday night capped a two-month shooting spree with more than two-dozen shootings investigated since Nov. 1. Victims include a 53-year-old man shot in the head and a 13-year-old girl waiting for a bus, both shot with a BB. Christian Morfin, 18, of Saugus, and a 17-year-old Canyon Country male were booked at the Sheriff's Station on felony charges of vandalism and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with several shootings.” (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Dick Cheney unleashed - Cheney: “Is 29 percent good enough for me? Well, we fought a tough reelection battle. We won by an adequate margin in 2004. We’ve been here for eight years now. Eventually, you wear out your welcome in this business.” He is the antithesis of cool, which makes him cool. Cheney has a job to do and he gets it done. His job is riding shotgun in the Bush administration. He has the president’s back. So they call him Darth Cheney and he doesn’t care because that’s his job. In an interview by Chris Wallace, Cheney remained unapologetic. Poll numbers? CHENEY: We didn’t — if — we didn’t set out to achieve the highest level of polls that we could during the course of this administration. We set out to do what we thought was necessary and essential for the country. That clearly was the guiding principle with respect to the aftermath of 9/11. I feel very good about a lot of the things we’ve done in this administration. I think that they will be viewed in a favorable light when it’s time to write the history of this era. (READ MORE)

Jenn Sierra: Chertoff worried about Lonewolf ‘Right Wing Crazy Nut’ - In an incredible “did he really say that?!” moment, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff explained in an interview broadcast by FoxNews that the number of threats to Obama’s life is already higher than any other President prior to the inauguration, and expressed concern about not only jihadis, but also a lonewolf, right-wing-crazy-nut, racist. There was no mention in this segment of any concern about left-wing-crazy-nuts. Obviously, it is important to protect the President of the United States, and politics aside, any threat upon his life from anyone, especially a citizen of the United States, is completely unacceptable. With all due respect Mr. Chertoff, this comment was an incredible slap in the face to American conservatives, and doesn’t make any sense. There’s been a lot of rioting in the streets since the last election, and the rioters haven’t been “right wing.” (READ MORE)

David Zublick: Auto Bailout Was A CYA Move - The bailout of Chrysler and General Motors was a simple case of CYA for the Bush Administration. Bush did not want to go out with the collapse of the auto industry happening on his watch. The $17.4 billion lifeline extended by Bush will not do much in the way of preventing the total collapse of these companies. The viability of the industry is in question and the reckless decisions by management over the course of many years cannot be turned around within a three month period. By March, these guys will have their hands out again, with no significant restructuring plan for retooling themselves. What will the incoming Obama regime do? Obama has pressed the industry for major changes, including increasing fuel efficiency and reducing carbon emissions. He also wants the maximum number of jobs saved. But at what expense? The problems G.M., Chrysler and Ford face now have been building for decades. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: War Is Heck - Exhibit A, Andrew Sullivan re Dick Cheney on presidential war powers: “One thing you have to concede to Dick Cheney. He says what he thinks. How can the suspension of all laws into the power of the executive branch in wartime be seen as a defense or protection of the Constitution? Perhaps for a brief amount of time in a dire emergency, after which there would be a thorough accounting to the Congress and the Courts. But indefinitely? As inherent in the office? And with jurisdiction over the entire United States as well as the world? With ‘enemy combatants’ defined as anyone the president calls an ‘enemy combatant’ and no distinction between citizen and non-citizen? Including the right to torture? Indefinitely?” Breathless histrionics his. Whatever alternative United States Sullivan has dwelt in for the last seven years, sounds like it’s been a living heck. All laws suspended indefinitely. Enemy combatant labels slapped on everyone, everyone tortured … indefinitely. (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: Document drop: The story behind - I’ve obtained documents sent to a reader in response to his FOIA request regarding the creation of Barack Obama’s website. It gives you the rest of the story. You’ll recall last month that I blogged several questions about the propriety of allowing the perpetual Obama campaign to use a .gov domain name for what appeared to be a fund-raising front. Readers and industry observers noted that the decision appeared to violate General Services Administration rules governing government domains. Guess what? They were right. The FOIA documents sent to Lance O., which he forwarded to me, reveal that the GSA initially rejected Obama’s application for “” On Oct. 21, Peter Alterman, Deputy Associate Administrator of Technology Strategy at the GSA, denied the Obama campaign’s request for a government domain because: (READ MORE)

Dan Riehl: The Incredible Lightness Of Being Andrew - It seems someone has stumbled upon recent proof of Andrew Sullivan's conservative bona fides, though some might just call it being cheap in this case. If you search Andrew Sullivan's URL, there appear to be about 27 posts in which Andrew Sullivan implored his readers to donate to the Proposition 8 initiative in California. Here's one example from October 23. Perhaps Andy has a different definition for the word "us?" “Pretty much unchanged since the last poll but with a small uptick in the numbers against marriage equality. We have our work cut out for us. You can donate here.” A link as far back as September "renders" this: “You can donate to the effort to prevent countless married gay couples in California from having their marriages rendered void here.” Such passion. Such compassion. Such a voice. But is that all there is? (READ MORE)

Melanie Phillips Blog: Prosecute him - The Centre for Social Cohesion has noticed that Ashok Bukhari, the extremist who runs the Islamist Muslim Public Affairs Committee website, has now been openly glorifying terrorism. On a public facebook discussion forum, he said: “Muslims who fight against the occupation of their lands are ‘Mujahadeen’ and are blessed by Allah. And any Muslim who fights against Israel and dies is a martyr and will be granted paradise. The concept of Jihad is a beautiful thing, and logical to those with a sincere heart. It tells the human being to stand up and fight against those who bring evil and oppression on this earth, and by standing up - roll back that oppression until the people are free from it. There is no greater oppressor on this earth then [sic] the Zionists, who murder little children for sport...Any public attack on Islam and the Ummah is not going to be tolerated by men like me. I have dealt with these Zionists before, a veneer of reason, below which lies a crooked mind plotting and planning to extend their hatred against us.” (READ MORE)

ROFASix: Bubba! Did DoD take over the USA? - I have always accepted without question the reason the military moved into State and other federal agency areas of responsibility was because those agencies refused to step up to the plate in Iraq and Afghanistan. In State's case, I had no reason to doubt that Foggy Bottom was so opposed to the Iraq war that they refused to participate in Iraq. Members of State would only accept a posting to Iraq when given the choice of "do it or be fired," I was told more than once. That was pretty much confirmed a couple of years ago when news stories to that effect surfaced a couple of years ago, when the guys and gals in pin-striped suits essentially mutinied against Secretary Rice over Iraq. That was also about the time the silly talk about her replacing Cheney on the ticket ended. All that is why I found, The Pentagon is muscling in everywhere. It's time to stop the mission creep," in Sunday's Washington Post, so interesting. (READ MORE)

William Teach: Global Warming Could End White Christmas’ - Um, OK, sure, whatever you say. “The odds of a “white Christmas” in temperate parts of the northern hemisphere have diminished in the last century due to climate change and will likely decline further by 2100, climate and meteorology experts said.” Did you ever notice (I’m typing in Jerry Seinfeld) that Climahysterics love to throw out “2100?” Why is that? Could it be because most people reading it will not be around in 2100, so there is no way for anyone to disprove it at this time? And by Climate Change, they mean Man made, not natural, which is primarily what has occured since around 1850, when the Little Ice Age ended. They want us to believe this tripe, yet, they can’t even get a 7 day forecast correct. Now I am waiting for the “but, that’s weather. Climate is totally different!” Suckers. “Even though heavy snow this year will guarantee a white Christmas in many parts of Asia, Europe and North America, an 0.7-degree Celsius (1.3 Fahrenheit) rise in world temperatures since 1900 and projected bigger rises by 2100 suggest an inexorable trend.” In other words, don’t pay attention to the man behind the screen, means nada. But, 1.3 F in almost 110 years? (READ MORE)

The Sundries Shack: You Don’t Know Mike Duncan, But He Should Be Fired - I bet that none of you right now can tell me who Mike Duncan is. That’s a problem, if you’re a Republican. On the other hand, I bet that most of you can tell me who Howard Dean is. If you can’t, I’ll help you out. Howard Dean is the guy who led Democrats to a series of solid victories this past election over a slate of generally pathetic Republicans led by Mike Duncan, the chair of the RNC. Duncan was Elmer Fudd to Dean’s Bugs Bunny, the Margaret Dumont (without even the stately dignity) to Dean’s Groucho Marx, the Hamilton Burger to his Perry Mason, the…well, you get the idea here. Normally, someone so disgraced would slink off into a cushy job at a think tank, or would write a middling book or something like that. Not Duncan. He’s decided to run for RNC chair again. (READ MORE)

Cassandra: Wrong Question - Leonard Downie, former executive editor of the WaPo, asks a question: “The death last week of W. Mark Felt -- Bob Woodward's secret source, indelibly dubbed ‘Deep Throat,’ who played such a crucial role in this newspaper's Watergate reporting -- coincided with the appearance of Richard M. Nixon, as played by Frank Langella, on local movie screens. As I watched Langella's Nixon being interrogated about the conspiracy and coverup by Michael Sheen's David Frost in ‘Frost/Nixon,’ I relived strong memories. And Felt's death raised the inevitable question: Could the kind of reporting that Woodward and Carl Bernstein pulled off be done today, more than three decades later, in the age of the Internet?” But that's the wrong question, isn't it? With a Democrat in the Oval Office - a candidate the media singularly failed to even make a pretense of vetting, the question isn't "could" the kind of investigative reporting that uncovered Watergate be pulled off today? It's would it even be attempted? Let's face a few inconvenient truths. (READ MORE)

Mark Steyn: Can You Still See the USA in Your Chevrolet? - ‘See the USA in your Chevrolet!” trilled Dinah Shore week after week on TV. Can you still see the USA in your Chevrolet? Through a windscreen darkly. General Motors now has a market valuation about a third of Bed, Bath And Beyond, and no one says your Swash 700 Elongated Biscuit Toilet Seat Bidet is too big to fail. GM has a market capitalization of just over two billion dollars. For purposes of comparison, Toyota’s market cap is one hundred billion and change (the change being bigger than the whole of GM). General Motors, like the other two geezers of the Old Three, is a vast retirement home with a small loss-making auto subsidiary. The UAW is the AARP in an Edsel: It has three times as many retirees and widows as “workers” (I use the term loosely). GM has 96,000 employees but provides health benefits to a million people. How do you make that math add up? Not by selling cars: (READ MORE)

Information Dissemination: The Grey Lady Weighs In - The New York Times has published an editorial on funding the Pentagon in the coming years, along with specific recommendations on various big-name Pentagon procurement programs. I won't repeat their recommendations here, since you can easily read them at the link above, but wanted to touch on a few of them. They recommend canceling the Virginia-class submarine (SSN-774) program, and instead spending money to 'extend the operating lives of the existing fleet of Los Angeles class fast-attack nuclear submarines, which can capably perform all needed post-cold-war missions — from launching cruise missiles to countering China’s expanding but technologically inferior submarine fleet.' They further claim that this decision would produce net savings of $2.5 billion. Given that they describe the Virginias as costing $2 billion each, recommending that the U.S. put off the replacement of a submarine force which is already aging and which was acquired initially at a high rate, meaning that it will leave service at the same high rate, for savings amounting to little more than the cost of one of the current boats seems foolish to me. (READ MORE)

Chicago Boyz: The Selfish Left - In the NYTimes, Nicholas Kristof ask why Leftist give less to charity [h/t Instapundit] than do those on the Right. Why do the people who collectively advocate redistributing wealth from producers to the poor donate so little as individuals to the same cause? I think the reason simple: Leftism isn’t about compassion. Leftism is about control. Leftism is about freeing the individual from personal responsibility for anything, including charity. Redistribution via government coercion enhances the power of Leftist in two ways: First, it takes from the productive segments of society reducing their freedom of action and forcing them them to kowtow to Leftist in order to try to avoid even harsher confiscation. Second, it creates a large population of individuals who depend on Leftist for the necessities of life. A poor person in America today relies on government for food, shelter, jobs, medical car, transportation, etc. They can’t be defined as “free” in any meaningful sense. (READ MORE)

Victor Davis Hanson: Desperately Seeking Caroline - The probable appointment of Caroline Kennedy, the 51-year-old daughter of former President John Kennedy, to fill Secretary-of-State nominee Hillary Clinton’s New York Senate seat is both laughable and yet a parable for our bankrupt times. Consider aristocratic entitlement. Ms. Kennedy apparently spends a great deal of her time divided between her Park Avenue Upper-East-Side Manhattan townhouse and her hereditary estate on Martha’s Vineyard. She has had no real experience with the ordinary lives of New Yorkers, either a few dozen blocks away in Harlem (despite a sudden ad hoc lunch last week with the Rev. Sharpton at a soul food diner) or the state’s rural towns to the north. Ms. Kennedy is about as undiverse as one could imagine. She was educated at exclusively private schools among those of her like race and class. Her financial security is due to either inheritance or marriage; there is no evidence of a self-employed stellar legal or business career. But there is plenty of evidence that Ms. Kennedy reflects the current Democratic Party’s obsession with celebrity and Hollywood-like imagery: (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Blago-Rahma: Immunity grant sought by Jackson fundraiser - The Chicago Tribune gives both Rod Blagojevich and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr some bad news. “Individual D”, the person pressured by the Illinois governor to cough up some cash for Jackson’s appointment to the Senate, has requested immunity from Patrick Fitzgerald in return for cooperation: When a witness wants immunity, it’s usually because they’ve committed some crimes. They get immunity by providing information that convicts others of bigger crimes. Nayak must know that Fitzgerald has enough on him to make life very uncomfortable over the next several years, and his request signals that he’s willing to cut deals to minimize that as much as possible. Jackson has been named by sources as Candidate #5, the one Blagojevich considered most willing to play ball but unsure of whether he could provide the cash Blagojevich sought. (READ MORE)

TigerHawk: Christmas in Iraq - What person of good will -- regardless of religion -- cannot take pleasure in the first ever public Christmas celebration in Iraq? It is a measure of Iraq's commitment to stay together as a country that its government, which will soon enough face the voters again, has sponsored such an unlikely event. The picture of Santa Claus in the Iraqi flag is remarkable, to say the least. Naturally, I cannot resist a few observations that will annoy everybody. First, this is another nail in the coffin of the profoundly misguided proposal that Iraq ought to break into three or more pieces. Some reporter somewhere needs to extract a confession of error from Joe Biden, among others. Since he will probably be on television this morning, why not start with this story? Second, "multiculturalism," or at least the institutional respect and acceptance of religious minorities, has its virtues. (READ MORE)

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