January 27, 2009

Web Reconnaissance for 01/27/2009

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 and Iraq - In a week of symbolic breaks with the ancien regime, President Obama called in U.S. war commanders last Wednesday to signal his desire to get out of Iraq. Then, meeting over, he issued a vague statement about planning "a responsible military drawdown" that omitted mention of his campaign promise to pull out within 16 months. (READ MORE)

World Bank Omerta - The billion-dollar accounting fraud at Indian computer giant Satyam continues to make headlines, weeks after founder B. Ramalinga Raju admitted he'd cooked his company's books for years. But at least one major Satyam client couldn't have been too surprised. That would be the World Bank, which spent years dealing with -- and concealing -- its own Satyam-related corruption issues, until media reports forced a break with its code of omerta. (READ MORE)

Speaker Nancy Malthus - One of the more curious items in the $825 billion House "stimulus" is $87 billion to help states with Medicaid, specifically including an expansion of family-planning services. The implication is that more people mean less economic growth. Following a White House meeting with President Obama on Friday, Republican John Boehner, the House Minority Leader, asked how spending millions of dollars on birth control will help stimulate the economy. (READ MORE)

Stimulus Bill Sends Thrill Through Region - As Congress prepares legislation to pump more than $800 billion into the economy, governments in the Washington region are lining up for their share: dollars that could mobilize stalled projects to mend water mains, repave roads and rebuild schools, as well as plug other budgetary holes. (READ MORE)

Layoffs Cut Deeper Into Economy - The nation's employers, including some of its largest and most sturdy, announced plans yesterday to slash more than 55,000 jobs, a staggering one-day toll that highlighted how quickly layoffs are accelerating and how widely misery is spreading throughout the labor market. (READ MORE)

The Effort to Roll Back Bush Policies Continues - President Obama announced a series of new policies yesterday intended to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, capping a week of widespread changes aimed at reversing the legacy of George W. Bush. (READ MORE)

Obama Issues Orders Toward More Fuel-Efficient Cars - President Obama issued two orders yesterday that could ultimately toughen fuel efficiency requirements for new cars and light trucks in what could prove stiff medicine for a U.S. auto industry already hobbled by financial troubles. (READ MORE)

Rove Ordered to Testify To Congress on Firings - House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) issued a new subpoena yesterday to former Bush White House aide Karl Rove, months after Rove deflected an earlier effort to compel his testimony about the firing of nine U.S. attorneys and other political disputes that swirled around the... (READ MORE)

E.U. Willing to Help U.S. on Guantanamo - BERLIN, Jan. 26 -- European diplomats said Monday that they are willing to help the Obama administration empty the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but stopped short of making specific promises to give inmates new homes in Europe. (READ MORE)

Obama Voices Hope for Mideast Peace in Talk With Al-Arabiya TV - President Obama expressed optimism yesterday about the prospect of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but he said a peace accord will take time and require new thinking about the problems of the Middle East as a whole. (READ MORE)

Critics say Obama's economic bill lacks stimulus - From $400 million for NASA climate-change research to $650 million for digital TV converter-box coupons, the unprecedented spending in President Obama's economic stimulus plan is provoking questions about whether it can create jobs and jolt the country out of recession. (READ MORE)

Paul warns of inflation, depression - Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, warned Tuesday that President Obama's $835 billion plan to stimulate the economy will cause inflation and lead to a depression. "This stimulus package is going to cause every American $6,700 of more debt," he told CNN in an interview. (READ MORE)

Obama tackles Mideast, climate - Making his first forays on his pledge to boost U.S. leadership in the world, President Obama on Monday deployed a special envoy to the Middle East to work on the peace process and sought to claim to leadership on global warming by erasing Bush-era rules and pushing auto manufacturers to make more fuel-efficient vehicles. (READ MORE)

Stimulus bill a 'moving target' - The economic-stimulus bill being fashioned by the Obama administration and Congress fails in many cases to meet the standards for stimulus spending, the former head of a congressional watchdog agency said Monday. (READ MORE)

Climate change fallout irreversible - Many damaging effects of climate change are already basically irreversible, researchers declared Monday, warning that even if carbon emissions can somehow be halted temperatures around the globe will remain high until at least the year 3000. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
AJ Strata: What Price Peace Mr President? - Obama took and interesting, if impotent, move today by making his first press interview directed towards the Muslim World:
But in tone, his comments were a stark departure from those of former president George W. Bush, who often described the Middle East conflict in terms that drew criticism from Palestinians. By contrast, Obama went out of his way to say that if America is “ready to initiate a new partnership [with the Muslim world] based on mutual respect and mutual interest, then I think that we can make significant progress.” Emphasis mine. America has always been ready to partner with the Muslim world and has done so for decades. Our allies in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Kuwait (to name a few) know this. Our new allies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan know this. It has nothing to do with America. We are not the ones crying death to America, death to Israel. We do not use suicide bombers to wipe out markets, restaurants and schools. We do not attack ’soft targets’. (READ MORE)

Victor Davis Hanson: It Isn’t Easy Being a Saint - All of you readers have had this odd experience. Just remember a bit. Someone you know, even know well, whom you thought was reasonably conservative, if perhaps at least a centrist, who would have welcomed a McCain “moderate” campaign, rather than a hard-core conservative candidacy, suddenly, without warning in a conversation, perhaps over the phone, confesses that he was voting for Obama! And he was not just voting for Obama, but doing so in almost teen-aged hysterical fashion. I’m not talking of a Colin Powell phenomenon, but someone who had no political interests or career concerns, or need for psychological remissions of sins, someone whose entire political philosophy was seemingly antithetical to Obamism. It made no sense, you thought, given that the apostate’s previous protestations about being conservative, but not a Bush conservative, would have led naturally to an affinity for McCain. (READ MORE)

This Ain't Hell: FTA: Jane Fonda fundraiser for IVAW - I read the other day that the anti-war crowd are having trouble raising money because the average anti-war less-whackos are a bit reticent about criticizing the new president’s policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and less likely to give up their money to fund the more-whackos like IVAW, Code Pink and the old coots at Vets For Peace. So they have to come up with more unique ways of tapping wallets. A few weeks ago I found a blurb about the possible return of Jane Fonda to a more active role in the anti-war movement. I sent the blurb to someone who emailed me back a Village Voice article today that verified it; How much more proof do you need to recognize that these clowns are trying to relive the 60’s? They’re screening a 37-year-old movie with the 72-year-old actress on hand to yammer about her anti-war antics with some 74-year-old guy who looks strangely like Jack Bauer. I wonder if they’ll have a Depends dispenser in the restrooms for the old coots. (READ MORE)

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred: Conformity And Self Expression - No one can deny the interdependent nature of life, culture and society. As in nature, much is predicated on delicate checks and balances and hierchal structures and realities. As we see the blurring and blending of these once separate and necessarily distinct differences, we also see the results of those efforts. We find ourselves dealing with child rearing issues our parents never faced- or even imagined, an education system that is at best, broken and at worst, a system that knowingly produces unleashes ineffective and ill prepared citizens on our society. We live in a world where being heard and ‘look at me!’ is more important that substance and relevance. Many decry a democracy, that participatory form of government that responds to a community as a whole, that doesn’t ‘deliver’ the outcome they desire (’If my guy doesn’t win, I’m leaving!’). (READ MORE)

Soccerdad: Lynch-ing Israel - At Foreign Policy Marc Lynch asks, How badly did Gaza poison the well? (via memeorandum) Needless to say, Lynch opposed Israel’s effort to defend its citizens. But here’s one of his conclusions: “There’s no question that Gaza has weakened the hand of moderates and strengthened more extremist voices across the political spectrum.” No question? This is a mantra, supported by absolutely no evidence. It’s just an outgrowth of the “there’s no military solution to terrorism” faith. Noah Pollak wrote in his Gaza post-mortem: “The political fallout among the Palestinians remains to be measured, but there is some anecdotal evidence that people in Gaza aren’t feeling terribly proud of the resistance as they wade through the rubble.” (READ MORE)

Melanie Phillips Blog: The Jews of the gathering night - One of the most agonising and tragic aspects of the current global wave of Jew-hatred is the prominent part played in this by Jews. This is not a new phenomenon. Throughout the centuries of Jewish persecution, from the medieval ‘conversos’ to Karl Marx and beyond, there have always been Jews who, for a variety of reasons, have been ready and willing to advance the agenda of the persecutors of the Jewish people. Today, the west is teeming with their successors – almost always on the left, very often but not always highly secularised and with a tangential or deeply conflicted relationship with their Jewish identity, they are in the forefront of the movement to demonise, delegitimise and destroy Israel. They do it to no other country; only the expression of self-determination of their own people inspires in them such frenzied and obsessive loathing. (READ MORE)

Stop the ACLU: Lawsuit Czar Proposed - The Moonbat Messiah will bring change, all right. As it stands, America’s economy has been crushed beneath a thousand tons of regulation and litigation. With Obama, it will be crushed beneath a million tons of regulation and litigation. The next nugget of hopey change: enshrining an official lawsuit czar, who will preside over the looting of the productive by the verminous locust swarm known as trial lawyers: “One thing the Obama White House doesn’t lack is czars. So far, there are or soon will be an energy czar, an economy czar, a health care czar and an urban affairs czar. There may yet be a White House car czar, and, if the class-action trial lawyers have their way — which they almost always do when the Democrats they bought and paid for are in power — there will soon be a lawsuit czar, too.” (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: "Realist" Fantasies in the Middle East - Stephen Walt apparently considers himself a realist when it comes to the Middle East. He is one ot the authors of The Israel Lobby, whose thesis is that American Jews working for Israel have distorted American foreign policy in th Middle East to the detriment of American interests in he region. There is little point in discussing this thesis. He believes it,as do many others. I will assume that Stephen Walt is not particularly anti-Semitic and actually believes that a more even handed approach to the Middle East will bring about peace. In his post yesterday, Stephen Walt takes issue with Tom Friedman's article on Sunday suggesting that squaring the circle in the Middle east will take an extraordinary effort and extraordinary skill. In response Stephen Walt thinks achieving peace in eh Middle East should actually be pretty easy: (READ MORE)

Rantings of a Sandmonkey: On Playfulness - Many people, over the years in which I have written in this blog, have accused me of being a callous and insensitive human being. The reason behind such accusation, they would tell me, that I seem to find the humor in the most horrifying of things and events. This has increased lately, due to the whole Ghaza conflict thing, with many e-mails accusing me of many many things, like undermining the gravity of Egypt's "Betrayal of the palestinain cause", or calling bullshit on theor doncpsiracy theories regarding the "real reason behind the Ghaza offensive" (Alaa, the person who started pushing that idea around, refsued to debate me on the merit of his argument and called me a "subhuman", and then deletd any comments I made challenging that claim. (READ MORE)

Bryan Pick: About that CBO stimulus study - As discussed in my post yesterday, there was a bit of a dust-up over a preliminary CBO report on the stimulus, with some questions in particular about how quickly the money would be spent. Bloggers on the Left insisted that the money would be spent quickly, and that the bill had changed a lot since the preliminary report. Well, now we have the new CBO report breakdown via the CBO Director’s blog, so let’s take a look: “Assuming enactment in mid-February, CBO estimates that the bill would increase outlays by $92 billion during the remaining several months of fiscal year 2009, by $225 billion in fiscal year 2010 (which begins on October 1), by $159 billion in 2011, and by a total of $604 billion over the 2009-2019 period.” So, it will spend only 15% of its allocated funds over the next eight months, and another 37% over the next 12 months after that. So, only 52% of the spending comes in the next 20 months. (READ MORE)

Political Pistachio: Obama, and his friends, not doing so well - Bad President, bad bad prez. . . - Timothy F. Geithner has been confirmed as Treasury Secretary - hmmm, just the guy we need to run the IRS. . . a guy known to run from the IRS, not pay his taxes, and then say, "Oops, my bad." Wow, Obama, you can sure pick 'em. In typical, arrogant, liberal fashion, Blagojevich can't be bothered by a pesky impeachment trial - he's hitting the television interview circuit instead. Obama's approval rating is at 68% after only a week in office. But wait, wasn't his approval rating 83% before he took office, while he was doing absolutely nothing? Heck, that is a 15% drop in only a week. He is only in office one week and the messiah's approval rating is plummeting! Just wait until his presidency really gets into swing, his new programs take hold of our economy, and everything goes to hell! Question is, when Obama starts screwing up the nation, will the media report it? (READ MORE)

GayPatriotWest: Joy Behar Says Obama Too Perfect for Mockery - No wonder President Obama doesn’t want Republicans listening to Rush Limbaugh. That conservative radio talk show host represents one of the few outspoken talking heads in the media who has not yet fallen under the president’s spell. On Sunday night, while doing my cardio, I caught what appeared to be rebroadcast of an episode of Larry King LIve. King asked The View’s Joy Behar why comedians didn’t make fun of the new president. The comedienne replied that this prez was just too perfect.* Can you imagine how the media would react if a conservative had chastised a comedian for making fun of former President George W. Bush because he was “too perfect”? A few google searches yielded no mainstream criticism of Miss Behar’s panegyric to the president (not even on the right–maybe that’s because no one else was watching?) (READ MORE)

Big Dog: What Did Democrats Say About The Constitution? - For the last eight years Democrats have told us time and again that George Bush shredded the Constitution. They complained about the warrantless wiretaps of overseas calls that involved Americans and said it was a violation of Constitutional rights. I pointed out several court cases where the courts concluded it was an inherent right of the president and that Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter had done the same thing. That did not stop the liberals from screaming about the Constitution. The courts recently upheld the inherent right of the president. (READ MORE)

Thomas Sowell: What Are They Buying? - Everyone is talking about how much money the government is spending, but very little attention is being paid to where they are spending it or what they are buying with it. The government is putting money into banks, even when the banks don't want it, in hopes that the banks will put it into circulation. But the latest statistics shows that banks are lending even less money now than they were before the government dumped all that cash on them. Even if it had worked, putting cash into banks, in hopes that they would put it into circulation, seems a rather roundabout way of doing things, especially when the staggering sums of money involved are being justified as an "emergency" measure. Spending money for infrastructure is another time-consuming way of dealing with what is called an immediate crisis. (READ MORE)

Chuck Norris: The Most Underrated Part of the Inauguration - I know inaugural news and commentary are already passe. But I could not find one report this past week that caught what I believe was the most subtle, strategic and possibly subversive moment of the inauguration ceremony. Did you catch it? Like most news agencies, U.S. News & World Report reported that the Rev. Rick Warren's invocation "clearly opted for a conciliatory tone that eschewed any mention of culture-war issues." But Warren hardly was pacifying the elites or anyone else -- if you truly understand what he prayed. The invocation seemed like a rather benign blessing that even his most ardent foes could have interpreted as inclusive. But the real portrait of his prayer was quite to the contrary. First of all, Warren's prayer was nearly five minutes long -- about 486 words. He certainly didn't cower to typical audience intolerance for long prayers and opt for a short grace before meals. (READ MORE)

Dennis Prager: California college student: Terror is the New Communism - As they say on the TV show “24,” the following took place last week between 9 and 10 p.m. on a flight from Los Angeles to Denver. I spoke for a few minutes to the 20-year-old woman seated across the aisle from me. She: What brings you to Denver?” Me: I am giving a speech. She: What do you do? Me: I'm a radio talk show host. She: Who did you vote for? Me: McCain She: Why? Me: Smaller government and the war on terror. She: Terror is the new communism. Me: Communism killed about a hundred million people. And who do you think attacked and killed 3,000 of us on Sept. 11? She: The government. (READ MORE)

John Hawkins: Fight Back Against the Tolerance Fascists - Despite America's inspirational legacy, this has not always been an exceptionally tolerant nation and there are few Americans who would deny that. That being said, we've now gone so far in the opposite direction that it has become problematic as well. Tolerance taken to an extreme has actually impeded our ability to rationally discuss vitally important issues that will determine whether our country continues to be successful and prosperous over the long haul. For example, the debate over gay marriage consists largely of one side talking about thousands of years of human experience and a potential devaluing of marriage that could lead to more society-damaging out-of-wedlock births in the future -- while the opponents of traditional marriage throw tantrums, try to get people fired for disagreeing with them, and shriek "homophobe" at the top of their lungs. (READ MORE)

Lorie Byrd: Opposing President Unity - After eight years of savaging George W. Bush, those on the left now believe that supporting the President is good for the country. Supporting the new President, that is. Barack Obama has only been in office one week, but he has already provided plenty of ammunition for his opponents on the right. In addition to his failure to cure all the ills of the country instantaneously on just the power of his Obamaness, the new President has made a few missteps. Instituting a ban on lobbyists working in his administration only to issue a waiver to the ban the following day, and nominating as Treasury Secretary a man who failed to pay all his taxes, are a couple that have received some attention. If President Bush had done either one of these things he would not only have been strongly criticized by those on the left for it, but the most sinister of intentions would have been ascribed to his actions. What a difference an election makes. (READ MORE)

La Shawn Barber: Supreme Court to Hear New Haven Race Case - New Haven firefighter Frank Ricci did what he was supposed to do. He bought the recommended books and studied for a promotion exam. Despite his dyslexia, Ricci scored high enough to qualify for a promotion, but the department threw out all test results. No blacks and only two Hispanics scored high enough to be promoted. Over a dozen white firefighters and one Hispanic filed suit against the city in 2004, claiming it violated their constitutional rights and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against them based on race. Had the fire department certified the test results, however, the lower scorers likely would have sued the city under Title VII's "disparate impact" provision. The fire department was damned if it did and damned if it didn't. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the city and dismissed the case. A three-judge panel of a federal appeals court affirmed the dismissal. (READ MORE)

Bret Stephens: Guantanamo Is No Blot on U.S. Honor - President Obama's decision to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay within a year is being hailed as a necessary step in restoring the good name and moral hygiene of America. Fundamentally, it tests the proposition that self-esteem can be a form of self-defense. Nobody ever actually liked Guantanamo. It was a strange growth on the body of American law, made necessary by extraordinary circumstances that existing institutions were ill-prepared to handle. Even Donald Rumsfeld had reservations: In his excellent memoir, "War and Decision," former Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith writes that his boss recoiled at turning his department into "the world's jailer." But the best case against Guantanamo was always inherently odd. (READ MORE)

Stephen J. Entin: Corporate Tax Cuts Should Be Part of the Stimulus - This week the House will be voting on a two-year, $825 billion economic stimulus package. This is on top of vast sums already being spent in the financial bailout packages. The program is immense. Will it work? The idea is to jump-start "aggregate demand," according to traditional Keynesian precepts. Milton Friedman, on the other hand, taught us that government spending and tax handouts do not stimulate demand, because every dollar doled out by government must be first taken in by taxes, borrowing or other spending cuts. The net effect on aggregate demand is zero. Still, Republicans apparently like that $275 billion, or a third of the package, comes in the form of tax cuts. (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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