January 6, 2009

Web Reconnaissance for 01/06/2009

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)
Obama Pitches Stimulus Plan - President-elect Barack Obama arrived on Capitol Hill yesterday and immediately set to work reassuring skeptical Republicans about his massive economic stimulus package -- part of a campaign that earned him praise for seeking their input but questions from those averse: (READ MORE)

Panetta Chosen As CIA Director - President-elect Barack Obama stunned the national intelligence community by selecting Clinton White House chief of staff Leon E. Panetta, a longtime Washington insider with little intelligence experience, to serve as the next head of the CIA. (READ MORE)

Kaine Says Top Priority This Year Is Va. Budget - RICHMOND, Jan. 4 -- Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said Monday that his main focus this year will be working with Republicans in the General Assembly on the state's budget crisis, even as he pivots into his new additional role as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. (READ MORE)

Data Breaches Up Almost 50 Percent, Affecting Records of 35.7 Million People - Businesses, governments and educational institutions reported nearly 50 percent more data breaches last year than in 2007, exposing the personal records of at least 35.7 million Americans, according to a nonprofit group that works to prevent identity fraud. (READ MORE)

Details of Ivins' death released in police report - An intentional overdose of acetaminophen led to kidney and liver failure and eventually death for Bruce Ivins, according to an investigation by the Frederick Police Department. Ivins, 62, a Fort Detrick microbiologist and the FBI's prime suspect in the 2001 anthrax attacks, was found unresponsive in his home around 1 a.m. July 27. (READ MORE)

What Congress Knew About 'Torture' - Barack Obama's choice of former Congressman Leon Panetta to lead the CIA at least puts a grownup, if also an intelligence rookie, in that crucial job. It also means that Mr. Panetta and Director of National Intelligence-designate Dennis Blair will soon have to decide if they want to join the left-wing crusade to purge their agencies of anyone who had anything to do with "torture." (READ MORE)

Feel Like a Trillion Bucks - Amid the Great Society spending boom of the 1960s, Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen famously quipped, "A billion here, a billion there -- pretty soon, you're talking real money." How quaint. In modern Washington, trillion is the new billion. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Lawhawk: Obama's Choice For Director of Central Intelligence: Leon Panetta?! - Of all the people that President elect Barack Obama could choose to be Director of Central Intelligence, he picked a guy who has absolutely no intelligence experience, no military experience, and is strictly a numbers guy: Leon Panetta. What does this say about Obama and the intel community from which he had choices? Admiral Dennis Blair was also named to be national intelligence director, according to officials. Panetta is qualified to be DCI why? How? What are his qualifications? Admiral Blair is more qualified to be DCI than Panetta. Then again, according to Blair's wiki, he's got himself a thing for not following orders and odd relationships with defense contractors. (READ MORE)

Richard Landes: Meditations on Moderation and Demopathy - One of the major themes in CNN and BBC early coverage of Operation Cast Lead, is the issue, will this conflict encourage Arab moderation as the Israelis say they hope will happen, or, instead, will it backfire on the Israelis and strengthen Arab solidarities around Hamas. Indeed, one might argue, this is one of the Palestinian talking points that the media has fully embraced (see next article). In order to understand what’s at stake here, I lay out some of the key issues involved in defining “moderation.” First let’s just sort out the difference between moderation and pragmatism: Moderation means taking a “reasonable” approach that renounces violence as anything but a last resort, a willingness to negotiate, to come to a positive-sum solution. Moderation depends on being able to treat one’s foe with reciprocity, to see their point of view and make compromises to reach a mutually agreeable solution to the hostility. (READ MORE)

Big Dog: Franken Gets Lead And Suddenly It Is Over - It happened in Minnesota just like it did in Washington. A Republican had a small lead at the end of election day and then during the recount a bunch of previously undiscovered and unsecured ballots from heavily Democratic areas were mysteriously found and miracle of all miracles they are votes for the Democrat who happens to suddenly gain the lead. The entire time the Republican leads we are cautioned that all votes must count and to wait and as soon as the Democrat goes ahead bam, the counting is over and he is declared the winner. This is how the low life maggots that infest the Democratic Party operate and Al Franken is just the latest to benefit from the mischief. Franken had been behind for most of the counting but then things that were deemed statistically impossible began to happen. Hundreds of ballots turned up and they were votes for Franken in disproportionate numbers. In other words, the found ballots favored Franken by much more than the vote on election day did. What are the odds. (READ MORE)

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross: The Superpower and Its Courts - In December, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. government, as part of an agreement it reached with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, has terminated $6 billion in judgments against Libya. Though it has been called "the forgotten flight" because most attention focused on Pan Am Flight 103, the explosion of Union des Transports Aériens (UTA) Flight 772 back in 1989 killed 170 people from 17 different countries. The family members of American victims seemingly gained some closure in January 2008 when U.S. district court judge Henry H. Kennedy awarded 44 relatives $6 billion in damages against Libya, so they were justifiably livid when the U.S. government nullified their judgments. Anne Carey, whose mother died on Flight 772, told the Post: "We fought this fight. We stood up to terrorists who took our loved ones and we did so in federal court." She added, "We felt we accomplished something. For it to be dismissed is beyond comprehension." (READ MORE)

Noah Shachtman: Spooks Scratch Their Heads Over Obama CIA Pick (Updated) - The incoming Obama administration has named Leon Panetta, of all people, as its nominee for the Director of Central Intelligence. Some observers are confused, to put it mildly, about the pick. The guy -- a former White House chief of staff and House Budget Committee chairman -- has a reputation for being a tough, competent manager, they say. But can he really be an effective CIA chief, with experience in the cloak-and-dagger world? About what about those pledges, to keep the intelligence community out of politics? "I find the choice of Leon Panetta to head the CIA a curious one," one well-connected former spy tells Danger Room. "On the one hand, if you are looking to pick a nation's top spook, it is generally a good idea to pick someone with more than a cursory exposure to the intelligence business. It is also more than a little annoying that we can't seem to find a CIA chief that hasn't spent all of their adult life playing politics." (READ MORE)

Hamilton, Madison, and Jay: Fitzgerald gets what he wants; extension granted - We knew this was going to happen when we first heard rumblings that Fitzgerald was going to be asking for an extension on the deadline to present his case to a grand jury for indicting Governor Rod Blagojevic on corruption charges. Fitzgerald has gotten his wish, and the deadline has been extended to 7 April, rather than expiring this coming Wednesday. The judge overseeing this case, James F. Holderman, claims that due to the complexity of the case, an indictment coming down at this juncture would be "unreasonable." Neither side argued with the judge,and agreed to his decision. Remember that the number one reason why Fitzgerald moved in on him was over the flak of "selling" Obama's Senate seat; an act that didn't occur, therefore if that's issued during grand jury testimony, Blagojevic's defense team can argue to have that struck from the list of charges because the deal never went down. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Great American War Correspondent - Weighs in. Robert Kaplan pulls way back for some perspective on what the fight in Gaza is about, and counsels the destruction of Iran’s proxy army at the outer edge of the modern Persian empire. You’ll want to read the whole thing. Personally, I think Obama needs to do more than quietly root for Israel. He needs to plan out his ongoing assault on the Persian empire. To include a full range of measures across its sphere of influence, including pressure on the Russians who aid and abet it, pressure on Syria, pressure on Iran’s proxies and allies in Iraq, pressure on the skittish Gulfis and Saudis, and pressure in Afghanistan, and support for all those who choose the right side. The mullahs also need to be aware that he is willing to blow their nuke facilities to bits, or maybe will and won’t object if his Israeli pals do that for him. He can do all of this with a big Kumbayah smile on his face, but he needs to do it. (READ MORE)

Daniel Byman: Israel’s ghosts - The Israeli assault on Gaza is about more than ending the latest spate of rocket attacks from Gaza or even forcing Hamas to the negotiating table to renew the ceasefire it foolishly ended. Israeli is also trying to exorcise several ghosts in its fight against terrorism, some from the past and some it fears in the future. Israel’s 2006 debacle in Lebanon is the most recent specter haunting Israel. In the summer of 2006, the Lebanese terrorist and guerrilla group Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed several others, sparking a massive air assault and, eventually, a ground invasion of southern Lebanon. Although Lebanon itself suffered tremendously, the war was widely perceived as an Israeli defeat. As is the case with Gaza today, Israel’s attacks did not stop Hezbollah rockets. Many Hezbollah fighters died facing the Israelis, but their effective resistance led the movement to be lionized throughout the Muslim world. (READ MORE)

Parrothead Jeff: I’m Not Alone! Flopping Aces Post Makes Me Even More Proud of U.S. Military - I found a wonderful post over at Flopping Aces via Lex that no sierra brought a tear to my eye. I’ve always been proud of the U.S. Armed Forces and a believer that they are due all the respect we can give them for having the strength, courage and conviction to see that the U.S. stays free, that our allies stay free, and also act as providers of comfort where disaster has struck. What I find to a nauseating degree around me lately is a throng of people who keep up the bit about supporting the troops, but not the war. They mimic Harry Reid with the “The war is lost - the surge has failed” line of utter filth. They complain endlessly about Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. They spew forth sewage copying John Kerry’s line of BS about “going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children.” That’s not the military I know. That’s 180 degrees from the men and women I know in the U.S. Armed Forces. (READ MORE)

McQ: New Taxes: Most likely Indirect and regressive - The government is hungry for money. And it is looking for innovative ways to get it. However, they don’t want to take it from you directly. You see that’s political suicide. So when we hear about the great 300 billion middle class tax cut that the Obama administration is so graciously planning on granting, we should realize that most of it will be recovered by indirect taxes. For instance: “Indirectly it could be considered a cheeseburger tax, but one of the suggestions offered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) for regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act is to levy a tax on livestock.” The plan? $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per beef cow, and $20 per hog. Now obviously a dairy farmer isn’t going to absorb that cost. And if all dairy farmers have to pay it, then it is a cost quite easily passed on to the middle class (and poor) consumer. Consequently this regressive tax will add 7 to 8 cents to a gallon of milk. And the same goes for beef and pork products. Consequently a nice little chunk of the promised 300 billion is recovered. (READ MORE)

The Redhunter: The Israeli War on Hamas and Personal Responsiblity - Once again, here goes another post on the Middle East in which I have to check the "Moral Clarity" category box as well. Of all the issues around the world, the Israeli-Palestine one is the absolutely most frustrating from this standpoint. It generates more moral confusion than any other. And let me be clear on this; I'm not talking about whether it was wise for Israel to attack Hamas, or Hezbollah in 2006. One can be morally clear on the issues and simply believe that there was another way to deal with the problem. Here is a typical news story, this one from the AP: “Israel ignored mounting international calls for a cease-fire Monday and said it won't stop its crippling 10-day assault until ‘peace and tranquility’ are achieved in southern Israeli towns in the line of Palestinian rocket fire.” They never call for a cease fire when it's only Israel getting hit. Nor do they call it a "crisis", a word you see all over the news now that Israel is shooting back. (READ MORE)

Dan Riehl: What's Wrong In Minnesota? - I haven't yet had much to say about the election stealing nearly complete in Minnesota. Nothing is more disastrous, nor more dangerous for our Republic than corrupting the integrity of our elections as partisan politics is now doing more and more. It's just as sad as it is anger producing. But with partisan hacks controlling elections in more and more of America, I'm not sure how the trend can change. Much of the so-called electorate doesn't even seem to care. But that isn't the only problem in Minnesota. This whole process doesn't say much for Norm Coleman either. If a sitting Senator doesn't have enough support to win an election, Third Party candidate, or not, clearly not enough Minnesotans were impressed with Coleman to care about his candidacy all that much. Frankly, I don't know much about him. And I certainly didn't want him, as a Republican, to lose. But then, what's a Republican anymore? (READ MORE)

Shrinkwrapped: Adolescence and Societies - Two of the developmental tasks required in order to make a successful transition from adolescence to adulthood involve achieving final independence from the regressive pull to a lost idealized state of dependency and the abandonment of persistent fantasies of childhood omnipotence, often expressed through the concept of omnipotentiality. Allow some brief elaboration, with the customary disclaimers; there are many ways to become a fully functioning adult; what I am describing is just an aspect of the typical pathway: Psychological development occurs in the psychic tension between wishes to grow up (and become an adult, more powerful, more beautiful, etc) and the regressive pull back to a fantasied state of dependency where all one's needs are satisfied and life is blissful (the fantasy of childhood union with the all powerful early mother.) (READ MORE)

Melanie Phillips: The Hamas Broadcasting Corporation (ctd) - Last night’s BBC TV News at Ten featured a highly partisan report about Gaza by Jeremy Bowen. Making no mention of the direct hit yesterday by a Hamas rocket on a kindergarten in Ashdod (which was empty for fear of precisely such an occurrence) Bowen concentrated heavily on the growing civilian casualty toll among Palestinians, making no acknowledgement of any Hamas operatives among these figures. The piece de resistance of this item was a report from Gaza’s Shifa hospital by a Gazan BBC producer, Rushdi abu Alouf. He claimed that ‘hundreds of kids, women and children’ had been brought to the hospital for medical treatment. Undoubtedly there are many casualties -- tragically, including children -- and the hospital is obviously under pressure. This though may help explain some of that pressure: “Hamas has set up an independent hospital in the Gaza Strip to treat its operatives wounded in fighting with the IDF - and, according to Israeli estimates, it is pilfering a significant portion of the medicine allowed into the Strip.” (READ MORE)

Stop the ACLU: Why Liberals Still Think Like The KKK - The Democrat-led KKK opposed the liberation of blacks. The “anti-war” Leftists of today oppose the liberation of everyone else: Anyone who spends time reading message boards related to online news articles today can see things that are readily self evident. One of these self evident truths is that today’s political and theological left still very much represent the racism they did when they initiated a secret society named the Ku Klux Klan. They do so in the policies they argue for and more importantly in the criticism they level against those who are brave enough to take action. Their anti-war extremism is one of the most telling signs. But don’t merely take my word for it. Here is a sample from the Jerusalem Post from an American named John Ash: “I never realized Israel and its supporters had so many people who cheer on killing and destruction. The enthusiasm for the ‘brave IDF’ is kind of weird when you consider that the air force is dropping bombs on defenseless people and the army is invading with tanks and artillery. The Gazans have not one airplane or tank, so where is the bravery in bombing and invading a defenseless area?” (READ MORE)

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred: Where Ideology, Theology And Islam Collide - ‘It is only the unsayable that is worth saying’- so goes a quote attributed to just about everybody who put pen to paper, starting with the cave dwellers. That idea has been the inspiration for more than one writer questioning the status quo, and it is that idea that serves as the basis for this essay. We strongly urge you to read Shame, The Arab Psyche And Islam, by Dr Sanity. It is an excellent essay that underscores and defines the nuances of the Arab psyche- and by extension, helps us to understand what comprises our own value system. We will discuss the differences between Islam, Judaism and Christianity. As a matter of preamble, we wish to say that we are discussing those three faiths, today. We are not looking to ’stack the deck’ by comparing apples with oranges, so to speak. Rather, we want to examine the realities as we- and everyone else, sees them today. We will discuss ideologies and theologies- where they meet and merge, and where they collide and careen off each other. (READ MORE)

Harmless Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Watching, Waiting, and Praying - My son, Sgt Devildog, and his unit are in training, getting ready to deploy...somewhere. Since his last deployment, he's moved up to a leadership position. This summer, he was meritoriously promoted after he won his Battalion's Corporals' board and he's now a squad leader for a Marine infantry unit. (Can you tell that I'm extremely proud of him?) It's that pride in his demonstrated leadership and his accomplishments that conflicts with my mother's instinct to protect him and keep him safe. Even though I want to protect him in any way I can, I know that he has chosen a dangerous career. I know that he loves what he does, and genuinely cares about "his" Marines and "his" mission. I know that he is a "Marine" through-and-through; even if I don't fully understand all that being a "Marine" entails. (I was a rear-echelon Air Force attorney, after all.) So as mom, I will support him while he's deployed, in any way I can. (READ MORE)

The Virtuous Republic: His Qualification for CIA? Gravitas - First, We in Hell had to look up gravitas. We figured it was a word bandied about by the same people who think Brie cheese and $100 bottles of vinegar like wine are all the rage. Then We saw the New York Times use it. Hell’s online dictionary describes gravitas as, “dignity, seriousness, or solemnity of manner.” The dictionary even gives an example of its proper use in an almost prophetic way: “a post for which he has the expertise and the gravitas.” Well maybe Panetta has gravitas, but he certainly lacks “expertise” to be the CIA Director. Two years as Clinton’s Chief of Staff and 16 years in Congress. Great. On the other hand, Obama’s recreation of the do little Clinton Administration is continuing. The only problem, this time, there is no Republican Party in opposition. (READ MORE)

John Hawkins: You Can't Put Your Children On The Front Line And Complain When They Get Killed - Isn't this kind of ironic coming from people who give their children military training, brainwash them from birth to support terrorism, and celebrate children who blow themselves up as martyrs? "Fighting intensified on the northern outskirts of Gaza City yesterday as a Hamas leader warned that the Islamists would kill Jewish children anywhere in the world in revenge for Israel's devastating assault. "They have legitimised the murder of their own children by killing the children of Palestine," Mahmoud Zahar said in a televised broadcast recorded at a secret location. "They have legitimised the killing of their people all over the world by killing our people." Hate to sound hard hearted here, but the Palestinians voted Hamas into office. Hamas then -- and now -- openly supported waging a genocidal war against Israel, they believe in using children in that war: (READ MORE)

In From The Cold: The Wrong Choice - More than a few spooks, current and former, are shaking their heads over the appointment of Leon Panetta as the next CIA Director. Mr. Panetta is the consummate Washington insider who is best know as Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff during the Monica Lewinsky episode. Before that, he was Clinton's first Director of the Office of Management and Budget and a Democratic Congressman from California for 16 years, serving primarily on the Budget and Agriculture Committees. In the early days of his political life, Panetta was actually a Republican, working as an aide to California Senator Thomas Kuchel before joining the Nixon Administration. During his first stint in Washington, Panetta served as assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare and later ran the Office for Civil Rights. He left the administration--and the GOP--in 1971, accusing the White House of being "soft" on enforcement of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. (READ MORE)

AJStrata: Obama Going To Govern A Lot Like Bush? - If current trends continue President-Elect Obama is going to really screw with the far left and far right in this country - and perhaps retain a strong centrist base from which to execute two terms in office. Right now Obama is really defying many of claims he will govern as an extreme liberal, defanging the far right as their dire predictions of pending doom fail to materialize and driving Obama’s far left base insane as they find another centrist democrat ignoring their risky policy schemes. So far Obama seems to on a pretty reasonable line with Iraq, keeping Secretary Gates on board and dumping any talk of a hasty and risky retreat. In Afghanistan he is promoting an increase in forces and investment to drive a security and policy wedge between the Taliban and the rest of the Muslim community there. And let’s not forget Obama voted to keep the NSA-FISA surveillance changes Bush put in place after 9-11. (READ MORE)

Cal Thomas: Pigs at the Trough - Like pigs waiting in line to get their snouts in the feeding trough, come many of the nation's governors -- on the heels of the mayors -- asking Washington for bailout money. Democratic governors from overspending states like New York, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Ohio are among those seeking financial deliverance. The governors want Washington to pony up $1 trillion for their absolutely-essential-non-negotiable-if-we-don't-get-the-money-people-will-starve programs. New York Governor David Paterson claims that, because tax revenues have plunged, 43 states now have budget deficits totaling around $100 billion. No, those states have deficits because when times were good and the money was rolling in they thought they could get away with endless new programs, while putting little or no money aside for the inevitable rainy day. Neither did they consider which programs were necessary and which ones were just politically beneficial. (READ MORE)

Chuck Norris: Invasion USA - The USA is being infiltrated by illegals, sold to foreign powers, and abandoned by its government. But are Americans enabling the dissolution of our economy and country, as well, by continuing to buy foreign goods? America literally is being sold out from underneath Americans. According to the 2008 Economic Report of the President: "The United States is both the single leading recipient and leading source of foreign direct investment in the world. In 2006, total cumulative FDI in the United States was almost $1.8 trillion, 15 percent of the world total." In 2006, foreign-owned assets in the U.S. totaled roughly $16 trillion. And where does all that foreign investment go? (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: The Economic "Stimulus" - Two centuries ago, when there were plans to create a huge fund of money to pay off Britain's national debt, the great classical economist David Ricardo objected on grounds that-- no matter what the money was said to be for-- politicians could spend it for whatever they wanted. Two centuries later, we have not yet caught up to that plain reality, even though the $700 billion that was supposed to be used to rescue financial institutions has already begun to be spent on other things. Regardless of what President Bush or Secretary of the Treasury Paulson may have had in mind when they promoted this huge bailout package, with all due respect to these gentlemen what they had in mind will not matter in the slightest after January 20th. All that money is just a gift to the Democrats to spend in whatever ways will advance the interests of their constituents and of the Democratic Party. (READ MORE)

David Limbaugh: Are They All Democrats Now? - Barack Obama, itching to implement his gigantic stimulus package as soon as possible, is dangling the idea of combining his spending package with a tax cut in hopes of securing another kind of stimulus: Republican support for his package. Republicans should remember that when you polish manure, you still have manure. Obama went to Capitol Hill Monday to promote his stimulus plan of between $675 billion and $775 billion. An estimated 40 percent of the package (between $270 billion and $310 billion) would consist of tax cuts. Obama strategists say the proposed tax cuts are based on historical and empirical evidence of what works, not ideology. But despite his denials, Obama's intention to target the cuts to the "middle class" and exclude higher-income earners, whose stimulated activity has been shown to have the greatest economic impact, betrays his crippling bondage to ideology. (READ MORE)

Dennis Prager: A Question for My Friend Alan Dershowitz - Harvard Law Professor Alan M. Dershowitz is that rare individual who is both a highly respected academic and well known to the general population. But in another regard he is even rarer. He regards himself as a man of the left, yet on one of the defining moral issues of our time, attitudes toward Israel, he has nothing in common with the left. He is not only one of Israel’s staunchest supporters, he spends much of his time defending Israel. He has written innumerable articles and four books defending Israel: “The Case against Israel's Enemies: Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others Who Stand in the Way of Peace,” “The Case for Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can Be Resolved,” “The Case for Israel,” and “What Israel Means to Me: By 80 Prominent Writers, Performers, Scholars, Politicians, and Journalists.” This past week, Dershowitz wrote two eloquent columns defending Israel’s attack on Hamas in Gaza. (READ MORE)

Dan Gainor: Obama Comes Up With 'Create'-ive Solution to Jobs - What a difference a year makes. President-elect Barack Obama hasn’t even taken office and we’re experiencing climate change. Not the global warming variety that keeps bypassing the bone-chilling American winter. It’s change in D.C. Obama, who promised a government of “change” unveiled a switcheroo in his Jan. 2 radio address, also available on the Change.gov Web site. Obama is releasing details of his economic recovery plan that includes spending hundreds of billions of dollars. It also entails a major jobs component. “The No. 1 goal of my plan, which is to create 3 million new jobs, more than 80 percent of them in the private sector,” he says in the new video. That’s quite a goal for a new government that only recently was snowing the American public and the media on the very same issue. Call it the great snow job of 2009. It wasn’t the fluffy, light kind of precipitation reminiscent of Hallmark cards. (READ MORE)

Mike S. Adams: How Jesse Helms Helped Promote Diversity - Dear Mack: I wanted to take the time to respond to your rather harsh statements about the legacy of North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, who, like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, passed away on the Fourth of July. I regret that I did not have the time to respond sooner. I assume that you were serious when you said that having Jesse Helms as a North Carolina Senator once hurt the UNC system in its efforts to attract quality faculty from around the country. I further assume you weren’t exaggerating when you said that on more than one occasion (when you were a department Chairman) a job candidate declined a position, at least in part, because he did not want to live and work in “Helms country.” Actually, Mack, I would argue that Jesse Helms really helped us out in those job searches. But, before I make that argument, I’d like to enumerate the three reasons why I think Leftist academics hated the late Senator Helms. (READ MORE)

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.: Israel's Invasion: Should We Support This Action? - Israel’s ground invasion into northern Gaza last weekend was surprising for many people. Unfortunately, the ground war had to occur in light of Hamas’ failure to cease bombing Israeli citizens. Palestinian sympathizers are already depicting the struggle as a David vs. Goliath conflict. In a strange biblical reversal the Israelis are now being painted as Goliath because of their superior military power. In reality, the Palestinians have been the aggressors who hope to win the war for public approval and sympathy. As I have analyzed the situation, it seems to me that Israel’s recent escalation of the conflict is ironically the only way they can actually hope for peace. Israel’s goal is obviously to topple, impair, or reform the Palestinian government. They hope that a governing entity will emerge from this ground invasion with which someone can reason. (READ MORE)

Bret Stephens: An Endgame for Israel - Maybe this column would get a better reception if it were titled, "No Endgame for Israel." Because the quantity of commentary claiming that Israel cannot possibly achieve any kind of successful outcome in Gaza is already approaching presurge levels of Iraq defeatism. The argument that Israel's assault on Gaza is an exercise in futility has four main parts. First, say the critics, Israel cannot defeat Hamas by restricting its attacks to the relatively safe distance of airstrikes and a limited land incursion. Down that road lies a reprise of the failed 2006 war with Hezbollah. Next, they say, the human cost of taking physical control of Gaza will be too high in terms of Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians. Down that road lie memories of the 1982 siege of Beirut. Third, we are told that the only method by which Israel can prevent Hamas from regaining power is by resorting to another full-scale occupation. (READ MORE)

Natan Sharansky: How the U.N. Perpetuates the 'Refugee' Problem - Israel's assault on Hamas is just the latest in a long chain of military clashes, the scripts of which are always the same. On one side, there is the Israeli army. Technologically and militarily superior, its soldiers are motivated by a powerful commitment to their country's security. On the other, there are Palestinian terrorists whose aim is to kill as many innocent Israelis as possible by unleashing missiles and suicide bombers on civilian centers. Then, when Israel retaliates, they appeal to the world with gruesome images of Palestinian suffering as part of a global campaign to prevent Israel from defending itself. Sooner or later, the tactics of the Palestinian terrorists work. The voices of protest in response to Palestinian suffering grow louder until international pressure stays Israel's hand. Inevitably, some of these protests come from Israelis. (READ MORE)

Azadeh Moaveni: Iran's Nobel Laureate Has Become a Target of the Regime - The last time I saw Shirin Ebadi in Tehran, the government devoted at least perfunctory attention to her safety. Two state-appointed bodyguards stood watch outside her house, and even accompanied us to dinner. They carefully looked on as we ate under the stars, interrupted every few moments by effusive Iranians who recognized their country's 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner and paused to press her hands in thanks. That was back in 2005, on the eve of the fateful presidential election that brought Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. Ms. Ebadi viewed his election with trepidation, nervous that he would reverse the state's tacit tolerance of her work -- the defense of women, children and political dissidents before the Islamic Republic's pitiless courts. Many considered her anxieties exaggerated. But, as in so many cases, her instincts were exactly right. (READ MORE)

Bert Ely: Banks Don't Need to Be Forced to Lend - Tomorrow, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing to "discuss priorities" for the Obama administration's use of Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. Those priorities could include lending and other directives to financial institutions receiving TARP investments. These directives could be disastrous for taxpayers and the economy if they force banks to engage in unwise lending, or keep weak, troubled banks from being absorbed by stronger banks. TARP has two major shortcomings. The first is a lack of political support. Congress did not explicitly authorize capital investments in financial institutions when it created the $700 billion program three months ago. The Treasury originally was supposed to buy troubled assets of banks and other financial institutions. It quickly realized that this was unworkable due to challenges in determining asset prices. (READ MORE)

William McGurn: Like a Virgin: The Press Take On Teenage Sex - The chain reaction was something out of central casting. A medical journal starts it off by announcing a study comparing teens who take a pledge of virginity until marriage with those who don't. Lo and behold, when they crunch the numbers, they find not much difference between pledgers and nonpledgers: most do not make it to the marriage bed as virgins. Like a pack of randy 15-year-old boys, the press dives right in. "Virginity Pledges Don't Stop Teen Sex," screams CBS News. "Virginity pledges don't mean much," adds CNN. "Study questions virginity pledges," says the Chicago Tribune. "Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds," heralds the Washington Post. "Virginity Pledges Fail to Trump Teen Lust in Look at Older Data," reports Bloomberg. And on it goes. In other words, teens will be teens, and moms or dads who believe that concepts such as restraint or morality have any application today are living in a dream world. (READ MORE)

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