December 23, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 12/23/2008

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)
More Rockets From Gaza - AFTER SIX months of relative calm, hostilities once again are escalating between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Between Friday and yesterday some 60 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel, whose air force responded with strikes against the launchers. (READ MORE)

European Countries May Take Detainees - European nations have begun intensive discussions both within and among their governments on whether to resettle detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a significant overture to the incoming Obama administration, according to senior European officials and U.S. diplomats. (READ MORE)

5 Men Convicted in Plot to Kill Soldiers at Fort Dix - A federal jury in New Jersey yesterday convicted five foreign-born Muslim men of conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix and other military installations as part of what prosecutors charged was a plot to launch an Islamic "holy war" against the United States. (READ MORE)

Pakistani Jets Scramble As India Hardens Tone -NEW DELHI, Dec. 22 -- In signs of growing regional tension since the Mumbai attacks last month, Pakistan scrambled fighter jets over several of its larger cities Monday, and India's foreign minister told a gathering of Indian diplomats in New Delhi that the country is keeping all its options open... (READ MORE)

Bush and Scooter Libby - Rarely can Presidents improve their legacy in an Administration's twilight days. But President Bush now has that opportunity, by undoing a measure of the injustice inflicted on I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. (READ MORE)

Colombo the Asbestos Sleuth - Good legal news for a change: The courts keep making progress against phony asbestos lawsuits, this time in Michigan, where Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Robert Colombo, Jr., has risen to the challenge of a case we wrote about in November. (READ MORE)

The Domestic Threat - The Fort Dix plotters were convicted Monday of conspiracy to murder members of the U.S. military, a charge that could send the five Islamists to jail for the rest of their lives. The jury's verdict is notable because media coverage of the plotters' arrest and trial traveled a familiar arc: (READ MORE)

Obama wants Bush war team to stay - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is asking many of the Bush administration's 250 Pentagon political appointees to remain on the job until the incoming Obama administration finds replacements -- a move designed to prevent a leadership vacuum with U.S. troops engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Mullen urges trials for terror suspects - Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen urged Pakistani leaders on Monday to prosecute cases against members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group charged with carrying out last month's terrorist attacks in Mumbai. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
In From the Cold: The S-300 Saga Continues - U.S. officials are demanding answers on Russia's reported sale of S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran. A senior intelligence official tells the Associated Press that the U.S. believes that Moscow is selling the advanced air defense system to Tehran. However, the official said it appears that equipment deliveries have not yet occurred. With a maximum range of more than 150 miles, the S-300 poses a threat to American aircraft operating over the Persian Gulf and in Afghanistan. The S-300 also has the ability to intercept tactical ballistic missiles. The intelligence official's comments offered a bit of clarification on the system's status in Iran. Last week, a Russian press agency reported that deliveries of the S-300 to Tehran had already begun. That claim was reprinted in other outlets, including Aviation Week's defense blog. (READ MORE)

The Virtuous Republic: Bias, Thy Name is The New York Times - How is it possible to assign blame for the housing mortgage crisis with naming Bill Clinton and the Community Reinvestment Act and the incestuous relationship between Democrats like Dodd and Frank with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae? Impossible you say? Well, not at The New York Times. In fact, it was so bad, the White House officially responded. You can tell the Bush administration is at its end, because they certainly took off the gloves. Too bad liberals have outgrown shame: “Most people can accept that a news story recounting recent events will be reliant on ‘20-20 hindsight’. Today’s front-page New York Times story relies on hindsight with blinders on and one eye closed.” (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Going forward - James Howard Kunstler argues that the current Crisis — for want of a better word — has undermined trust and therefore legtimacy in American institutions. It isn’t that people don’t see the problems, it is that they don’t see the solutions. “The tipping point seems to be the Bernie Madoff $50 billion Ponzi scandal, which represents the grossest failure of authority and hence legitimacy in finance to date in as much as Mr. Madoff was a former chairman of the NASDAQ, for godsake. It’s like discovering that Ben Bernanke is running a meth lab inside the Federal Reserve. And out in the heartland, of course, there is the spectacle of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich trying to desperately dodge a racketeering rap behind an implausible hairdo. What seems to spook people now is the possibility that everybody in charge of everything is a fraud or a crook. Legitimacy has left the system.” (READ MORE) New York Times faked out by forged letter - The New York Times didn't bother to verify the authenticity of an emailed letter it received, purportedly from the mayor of Paris, France, and went ahead and published the contents anyway. The email criticized Caroline Kennedy for seeking the US Senate seat being vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton. "We French can only see a dynastic move of the vanishing Kennedy clan in the very country of the Bill of Rights. It is both surprising and appalling," the email said. The author supposedly was Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe. A sharp-eyed editor of a Franco-American website discovered the hoax, thinking the wording sounded out of place for a mayor of the French capital city. Delanoe's office pronounced the letter a forgery. "We have asked the New York Times for a denial and an apology," a spokeswoman tells the Associated Press. "Clearly, this was never sent by Bertrand Delanoe." (READ MORE)

Right Wing News: Retailers Taking The Christmas Out Of Christmas - Anyone suprised? Now, personally, I do not mind when people say "Happy Holidays!" and retailers use "holiday(s)," depending on their intent. It is the holiday season, and I remember growing up and people using those words and phrases as a way of denoting Thanksgiving, Hannukka, Christmas, and the New Year. Of course, growing up in NJ, people often said "Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas!" But, sometime over my 41 years, the intent, particularly from retailers, has changed. Now, they just do not want to offend anyone, as the article points out. Heck, you go in to many retailers and all you see are snowflakes and such, not even a Christmas wreath in evidence. And because the companies are afraid to say "Christmas," the people working there are often afraid to say. They have been conditioned not to. I know I rarely do at work, unless it is a customer I know, or the customer says it to me first. (READ MORE)

David Freddoso: See Jane’s Big Carbon Footprint - Before they boss us around, shouldn’t Obama’s science team act like they believe in global warming? What’s your carbon footprint? Next year, it will probably be much smaller than that of Jane Lubchenco. The renowned climate-change crusader and professor of marine biology is Obama’s choice for administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). National Review Online has obtained an e-mail from Lubchenco’s husband, Oregon State University professor Bruce Menge, suggesting that the couple will contribute mightily to global warming next year after she takes the job by making frequent cross-country plane trips. In the e-mail, Menge is enthusiastic about the appointment, but he also mentions the “the hardships it will impose on us and our academic family.” Their solution? “The plan is for her to be in WDC and me to remain in Oregon at OSU, with frequent weekend trips back and forth,” (READ MORE)

Robert Stacy McCain: Rousing the Rabble - Evidence that Democrats consider Sarah Palin a potent political force for the future continues to mount. A Huffington Post blogger went rooting around the comments at the Team Sarah website over the weekend and emerged to announce that he had discovered "something very ugly happening out there in the hinterlands these days -- a brewing cauldron of racist anger being directed at President-elect Barack Obama." This accusation of "mean-spirited bigotry" was based on a relative handful of comments, far less dramatic than the huffy HuffPoster's hyperbolic introduction suggested. The Christian ladies who run Team Sarah -- Marjorie Dannenfelser, Jane Abraham and Emily Buchanan of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List -- responded immediately with sanctions against commenters who cross the lines of political decorum. (Of course, decorum is not even an afterthought at Huffington Post, DailyKos or any number of liberal blogs where the comment fields routinely boil with vitriol, but conservatives have long since become accustomed to this sort of double standard.) (READ MORE)

Michael Laprarie: It's hard to be a Healer - It's hard to bring people together. It's hard to transcend partisanship. Just ask Barack Obama. Last week, he announced that Rick Warren would deliver the invocation at his Inaugural. Warren is, I believe, a very good choice. He is easily the most visible leader of the American Evangelical movement, which indicates that Obama -- unlike so many Democrats and high-profile progressives -- isn't going to cast aside Evangelicals simply because they tend to vote Republican. Warren is also a relatively fresh face in the American political scene, and he might be a good replacement for the Left's somewhat shopworn faith gurus like Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis. And unlike Campolo and Wallis, Warren is not a spontaneous apologist for the Democratic party. But in the eyes of the Left, Warren epitomizes the worst kind of evil -- "HATE" -- because he supported California Proposition 8. (READ MORE)

Bob Owens: The Op-Ed the New York Times Wouldn’t Run - An FBI informant's response to Bill Ayers' rewriting of history got the cold shoulder — but you can read it here. On December 5, the New York Times afforded former domestic terrorist Bill Ayers a chance to publish an op-ed, in which he defends himself from various charges made during the 2008 presidential campaign. That Ayers was given such an opportunity by the Times seems extraordinary; Barack Obama’s other mentors, former pastor Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Pfleger, were subjected to as much public scrutiny as Ayers for their extremist politics and multi-decade associations with the president-elect, and yet it seems only Ayers was presented editorial space in the Times to defend himself. Perhaps even more extraordinary, however, is that the Times allowed Ayers to publish obvious lies about his terrorist past and rejected a rebuttal by the former FBI informant who lived through the history Ayers tried to rewrite. Ayers claimed in his fantasy that: “I never killed or injured anyone. I did join the civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, and later resisted the draft and was arrested in nonviolent demonstrations.” (READ MORE)

Warner Todd Huston: Euro Journo Sides With Muslim Hate Over BDS Shoe Toss - Mitch Potter of the Toronto Star is the quintessential example of a self-hating European, I must say. He is a journalist that sides with those who advocate the destruction of his own culture just so he can puff himself up that he “gets it” and he does this willingly ala the useful idiots of old. In his latest pretense at journalism, Potter takes such glee indulging his Bush derangement syndrome (BDS) that he ends up accepting the terms of what “insult” means among Muslim hatemongers and terrorists and employs that as a weapon against Bush and the USA. It does not occur to this writer at all that we should scoff at what they think is an insult because he accepts their cultural concepts in place of our own. First of all, the Toronto Star gives our Euro-weenie the exalted status of “Mitch Potter, Europe Bureau,” though it would have been better grammatically — less clumsy at least — to say he is “Mitch Potter, European Bureau,” but be that as it may. (READ MORE)

Right Truth: Re-evaluating America's Biggest Threat - When I began Right Truth blog, my goal was to share information on the terrorist threat to America. Over the past seven years since the attacks on September 11, 2001, I have come to several conclusions about the threats to the US and also the enemies of America. As Vincent Gioiasays, "The people in any country are only able to protect themselves and assure their freedom if they are aware of what is going on that affects them. ... The unfortunate consequence of filtered and selected news reporting is that the public is not told all the facts and is generally deprived of information that would waken them to imminent threats to liberty. " That is where are are today. “With this in mind I call attention to what is the biggest threat to America that is largely unreported to Americans or merely glossed over or explained in a politically correct manner. That threat is ISLAM. Unless the Islamic threat to our liberty is made clear in no uncertain terms, the public will not insist on taking action to avert a disaster.” (READ MORE)

McQ: Britain, War, Obama, Political Leadership and the Military - Michael Portillo writes an interesting column on the thesis that "Britain has lost its stomach for a fight". After saying that Britain failed in Iraq and the primary reason was political, he covers the secondary reason for their failure: “The secondary cause of failure was a misplaced British disdain for America, shared by our politicians and senior military. In the early days in Iraq we bragged that our forces could deploy in berets and soft-sided vehicles while US forces roared through Baghdad in heavily armoured convoys. British leaders sneered at the Americans’ failure to win hearts and minds because of their lack of experience in counterinsurgency. Pride has certainly come before a fall. British commanders underestimated both the enemy’s effectiveness and the Americans’ ability to adapt. Some apparently failed even to observe how much had changed. At a meeting in August 2007 an American described Major-General Jonathan Shaw, then British commander, as “insufferable”, lecturing everyone in the room about lessons learnt in Northern Ireland, which apparently set eyeballs rolling: ‘It would be okay if he was best in class, but now he’s worst in class.’” (READ MORE)

Neptunus Lex: Popularity Contests - Will Kristol notes that the two most unpopular politicians of their respective parties are Dick Cheney and Rod Blagojevich. Compare and contrast. (It turns out that Blagojevich has read Kipling. Which is really only surprising because it means that he can, you know: Read - Who knew?) Perhaps Cheney’s image would have been softened by doing in public what he did in private. Meanwhile, it’s Christmas in Baghdad. And although I do like Kipling, for my own part - in this context, at least - I prefer Theodore Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and gain, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Kumbayah, My Whatever - I was getting ready to snark on this Melissa Etheridge post at Huffpo, as heartfelt celeb activist statements are eminently snarkable. But it actually seems to represent a sincere effort to bridge divides, understand others, and get away from labeling everyone a homophobe who doesn’t like the way a handful of judges are reordering society … to include some gays who feel like they are being dragged into a banzai charge they don’t agree with, up a hill they don’t particularly care about or intend to hold. Gay people do have a tough road in life. I am very sympathetic to that and have known people who have had to deal with it, including violence. Their road has often been bloody, horrible and disheartening. But “From being blamed for 9/11 and Katrina …” is a tad overly dramatic. Don’t forget Iraq and the “God hates fags” crowd, as long as you’re shouldering the burden of religious extremists’ ridiculous statements. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Disclosure’s for peasants! - Caroline Kennedy really wants to replace Hillary Clinton in the US Senate, but ambition has its limits. While JFK’s daughter tries to make the case that she can campaign for the seat in two successive elections in 2010 and 2012, she’s already refusing the normal disclosure rules candidates would follow. Kennedy won’t reveal her investments or even her criminal record, the New York Times reports: “If she were applying to be, say, an undersecretary of education in Barack Obama’s new administration, Caroline Kennedy would have to fill out a 63-item confidential questionnaire disclosing potentially embarrassing text messages and diary entries, the immigration status of her household staff, even copies of every résumé she used in the last 10 years.” Paterson says he will require any potential appointee to submit that information prior to selection. Paterson just got bit by the disclosure bug himself when his closest aide’s failure to pay income taxes for five years surfaced a few months ago. It seems unlikely that he’ll rely on Caroline’s assurances of propriety before sending her to Washington. Besides, what would Caroline need to hide? (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Afghanistan - Maybe having the US go it alone (for the most part) will work. I have had doubts about the Afghanistan War since it began. Given the terrain and the people and the history, the prospects were unhopeful and it has been 7 years of warfare there, light as it is. Nato covered it while and the Canadian army proved to be quite heroic. The rest, well, the Germans are the Beermacht. The announcement that we would add 20,000 troops next year made me nervous. But now, I am thinking the lessons learned in Iraq can be applied here and if tehUSA commands everything without the Eurobureaucracy, we can succeed in a final push to extricate ourselves from Afghanistan. The LA Times reported today: “Many military officials think a short-term troop increase would help, but they believe it should be paired with improved efforts to train local militias, strengthen provincial governments, coordinate U.S. policy on Pakistan and Afghanistan, and make better use of U.S. civilian expertise. (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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