February 6, 2009

Web Reconnaissance for 02/06/2009

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)
Pakistan frees accused head of nuke black market - ISLAMABAD -- A Pakistani court on Friday lifted restrictions that had kept nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan under house arrest, freeing the man charged with running a black market that disseminated nuclear weapons know-how to rogue states including Libya and Iran. (READ MORE)

USS Cole suspect charges dropped - The U.S. government has dropped charges for now against the Saudi man it accuses of masterminding the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 American sailors as the ship sat at the dock in Yemen. (READ MORE)

For Obama, a Trusted Voice Who Knows the Terrain - After decades moving through the revolving door between the private sector and government service, Gregory B. Craig has landed at the White House, serving as counsel to a young administration in need of a steadying hand. (READ MORE)

Agencies Await New Leaders And Direction - Since President Obama took office, the Food and Drug Administration has been criticized for lax food safety inspections, the Securities and Exchange Commission has been berated for missing Bernard L. Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, and just this week the Drug Enforcement Administration... (READ MORE)

CIA Nominee Panetta Vows An End to Disputed Tactics - Leon E. Panetta, President Obama's surprise choice to be CIA director, yesterday promised a "new chapter" for the embattled spy agency, telling a Senate panel he would banish controversial interrogation policies while demanding greater candor and accountability with Congress and the American public. (READ MORE)

Treasury Overpaid for Bank Assets in Bailout, Oversight Panel Says - The Bush administration received assets that were worth $78 billion less than the amount it invested as part of the massive infusion of capital into the country's banks, congressional investigators have found. (READ MORE)

President's Stimulus Plan Tests Power of Persuasion - Attempting to persuade a nervous nation and skeptical lawmakers to back his economic rescue plan, President Obama has morphed into the nation's fiscal salesman in chief, pitching his prescription for financial recovery everywhere he can. (READ MORE)

Clinton Packs Full Asia Agenda for First Trip as Secretary of State - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Asia on her first voyage as chief diplomat, skipping the more traditional itinerary of Europe or the Middle East in order to place a renewed focus on an area with half the world's population and gross domestic product. (READ MORE)

Toys for Congress - The runaway train that is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is heading toward a collision next Tuesday. That's when new federal rules will make it illegal to sell some children's products, if Congress doesn't amend its awful handiwork. (READ MORE)

Obama's Trade Deflection - Amid the bacchanal that is the Beltway stimulus debate, a rare note of sobriety has sounded. President Obama exercised some leadership on trade this week, and the Senate proceeded to water down the "Buy American" provisions in the House version. (READ MORE)

A Republican Fannie Mae - How's this for a bright idea to boost home prices and goose the economy: Have two government-chartered entities exploit Uncle Sam's low borrowing costs to subsidize mortgage rates. Lower borrowing costs will make housing more affordable and increase demand for unsold homes. If this sounds hauntingly familiar, that's because it is. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Home on the Range: GROUNDS OF PLAY - There's a playground which I pass on my way home, small, built at the edge of one of the subdivisions on the south edge of town. I rarely see children in it. Perhaps the kids have all grown up and moved. Perhaps they're indoors. Kids want to play electronic games, videos, TV, all of which capture their attention within the confines of a home. I look at photos of myself as a child and they were most often taken outdoors, we kids lean, muscled. I watch the kids as they leave the bus now that drives them a whole two blocks from school and many are already battling obesity. Young colts hobbled by an electronic rope, too many growing jaded before their time. Certainly, as children, we had our indoor activity. There were times when the cold and the rain kept even the range cattle looking for cover and for those days there were trains and books; fun learning about tools with Dad in his wood shop. (READ MORE)

Stage Right: Frank Rich Is a Big Fat Liar - Before Frank Rich used his arrogance to tell us who we should vote for, he used it to tell us what plays we should see. Rich was, arguably, the last uber-powerful NY Times Theatre Critic. Unless a show had a huge advance and a great resume of talent behind it (”Cats,” “Phantom”) a pan from him would severely threaten a show’s future. Meanwhile, if he and he alone liked a show, he had the power to keep it afloat much longer than natural market forces would have allowed (”Sunday in the Park”). Now theatre-boy Frank is an op-ed columnist and is known for erudite and vicious slams at all things Republican. This week, in trying to support President Obama’s disastrous spending bill, he not only assails the House Republicans, but takes frequent shots at the former President. As classless and cheap as it is to continue to beat President Bush up, I am especially nauseated by this passage: (READ MORE)

AJStrata: Liberal Arrogance Implodes Democrats - The so called stimulus package being considered by Congress is collapsing in an implosion of reality. People are starting to focus on the make up of the bill, which apparently President Obama wants us to ignore. He knows it is in trouble, so he has claimed we should close our lying eyes, ignore the details and vote for this pile of BS! “‘Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the essential,’ Obama said while acknowledging criticisms of the plan. ‘A failure to act and to act now will turn crisis into catastrophe and guarantee a longer recession. [...] These criticisms echo the very same failed economic theories that led us into this crisis in the first place — the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems, that we can ignore fundamental challenges like energy independence,’ Obama said. ‘I reject those theories — and so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change.’” When Obama comes up with the ‘essential’ bill we can debate it, but the criticisms are right on target per the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scoring and analysis. (READ MORE)

In From the Cold: The Comprehensive Approach - Asked how he plans to deal with Iran, President Obama has said, on multiple occasions, that he wants a "comprehensive approach." Presumably, that means that all options are on the table, but a closer reading reveals that Mr. Obama favors policies based on diplomacy and economic incentives. Offer enough carrots, the thinking goes, and even the mullahs in Tehran will give up the nuclear weapons and long-range missile programs that threaten to destabilize the Middle East. Perhaps someone ought to ask the president how that approach is faring, given Tuesday's space launch in Iran. It received little attention in the United States, but Tehran's successful orbiting of a small satellite represents a milestone for the Islamic Republic. After years of trying, Iranian engineers have mastered the technologies associated with multi-stage rockets and putting a small package in orbit around the earth. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Let’s make a deal - “Give him the woiks!” This staple of 1930s gangster movie dialogue comes to mind when reading a NewsAlert comment on a story about Patrick Fitzgeralds reopening a case of systematic torture by South Side detectives in the 1980s to obtain confessions. Why is Patrick Fitzgerald intersted in ancient history? Because Richard Daley is part of it. A Huffington Post piece of a few months back noted: “U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald finally has done what Richard M. Daley should have done 26 years ago: He has indicted retired Chicago Police Detective Jon Burge for leading a band of brutal white cops who tortured hundreds of African-American suspects in criminal cases...Rather than acting, as was his duty at the time, Daley and his top assistant, Richard Devine, who is the current state’s attorney, joined a conspiracy of silence that has cost city taxpayers upwards of $50 million in legal costs and civil settlements.” And when skeletons are walking abroad in Chicago, everybody gets nervous. (READ MORE)

THE TYGRRRR EXPRESS: An Arab Terrorist Professor Surrenders - A small victory in the War on Terror has just taken place. A vicious university professor and terrorist supporter has been brought down. I want to make it clear that not all Arabs are terrorists. In fact, not all Palestinians are terrorists. Ok, now that the politically correct drivel is out of the way, let’s get back to the facts. Most terrorist acts are committed by young Arab Muslim men. Timothy McVeigh was a statistical aberration. The Bush Doctrine declared that those that support, harbor, or finance terrorists are terrorists themselves. Lisa Hajjar may not have ever helped somebody put on a suicide belt, but she absolutely has fostered a climate in academia that offers the most mild and tacit criticism of Palestinian terrorism. (READ MORE)

Meryl Yourish: Shoes fly, don’t bother me - You know, the throwing of shoes at people you don’t like or agree with has become epidemic, and yet, it has managed to remain the most utterly stupid means of protest since the pie-in-the-face died out (mostly). Israelis, of course, suffer from the most amounts of shoes thrown. I read of one protest in London (I think) where hundreds of shoes were left at the end of the anti-Israel march. And all I could think of was, “Ooh, good idea! I have some old sneakers I want to get rid of, and it’s a shame to throw them away.” Are you all familiar with the term “poseur”? It is one of the terms I use only when I am really, really mocking the person(s) being called poseurs. It is probably at least number three in my list of insults, possibly number two. And I have to say, with the exception of the Iraqi who threw a shoe at President Bush, every other person who has done so since then is a poseur. (READ MORE)

Stop the ACLU: Another downfall for the Warmist attempt to “get rid of” Antarctic cooling - They used known bad data. Professor Eric Steig last month announced in Nature that he’d spotted a warming in West Antarctica that previous researchers had missed through slackness - a warming so strong that it more than made up for the cooling in East Antarctica. Whew! Finally we had proof that Antarctica as a whole was warming, and not cooling, after all. Global warming really was global now. The paper was immediately greeted with suspicion, not least because one of the authors was Michael Mann of the infamous “hockey stick”, now discredited, and the data was reconstructed from very sketchy weather station records, combined with assumptions from satellite observations. But Steve McIntyre, who did most to expose Mann’s “hockey stick”, now notices a far more embarrassing problem with Steig’s paper. (READ MORE)

Melanie Phillips: Hamas war crimes? Obviously. So blame the victim - Even by their usual standards, the excuse that ‘human rights’ groups have now come up with to explain the fact that, while they devote obsessive attention to alleged human rights abuses by Israel they all but ignore those unambiguously committed by Hamas, is pretty jaw-dropping. It’s because the war crimes by Hamas are too obvious. The Jerusalem Post reports Sarit Micha’eli of the Israeli NGO B’tselem as saying that it was clear that Hamas was in violation of the requirement of the distinction between civilian and military targets: “‘It makes it quite easy regarding Hamas. It is quite clear that they are attacking and targeting civilians. When someone straps a bomb on themselves or fire missiles at civilians, the details are less important. It is clearly a war crime without even looking at the details,’ she said. ‘Even if they fired a Kassam missile as a military target, the fact that it is an inaccurate weapon, it would still count as an indiscriminate attack.’” (READ MORE)

Some Soldier's Mom: people will never knowingly adopt socialism - If we forget history, we lose a very valuable tool! Norman Mattoon Thomas (November 20, 1884 - December 19, 1968) was a leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America. The Socialist Party candidate for President of the US, Norman Thomas, said this in a 1944 campaign speech: “‘The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of “liberalism,” they will adopt every principle of our socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without ever knowing how it happened.’ He went on to say: ‘I no longer need to run on the Socialist Party ticket because the Democrat Party has now adopted our platform.’” As the Wall Street Journal opinesabout the "stimulus" bill: (READ MORE)

ShrinkWrapped: Some Thoughts on a Model of the Mind and Our Current Crises -Most Americans would assume that their fellow Americans want to be free to live the way they want, to worship and speak freely, that they desire to find a loving mate and have a family, and that they want to find rewarding and satisfying work, among other things. Most of us would also assume that there are a fair number who do not value these things quite so highly and are more interested in other attributes of status and success in our culture. There is also a tendency to assume that people of other cultures are "just like us", that they think the way we think and value the things we value. This belief persists in the face of mountains of data suggesting that some cultures truly are alien to us and are consistently misunderstood by us. Our political class has a particularly difficult time recognizing that culture matters. Interestingly, in Academia, the narcissistic inability to recognize the "others" mind as alien rests upon a fascinatingly muddled discourse. (READ MORE)

Donald Sensing: Newsweek's Hirsh loses grip - Just as more and more Americans are thinking that the federal government should just stand there, not do something about the economy, Newsweek's Michael Hirsh awakens from mental hibernation to the energetic state of somnambulance. How else to explain his diagnosis of how Obama lost control? Yes, Hirsh is right that Obama " has all but lost control of the agenda in Washington at a time when he simply can't afford to do so," but his diagnosis is looney. He's lost control because he's no longer setting the terms of the debate, says Hirsh. Well, duh. How long does Mr. Hirsh think that even Obama can control public discourse? Does he expect that all the vested interests in the D.C. kabuki theater will be passive just because Obama is in office? (READ MORE)

Dan Riehl: So, How Much Do Auto CEOs Get To Make? - Given that our government has opted for the disastrous road of fixed executive wages, more likely to punish good talent coming in to some financial corporations, as opposed to poor talent that should be fired anyway, isn't the logical next step the car companies? We know they're coming back for much bigger bucks. Or do they get a free pass? Why not set their wages and watch any seriously good talent flee to foreign car makers where they'll get a competitive wage? Just how does one decide what a financial CEO versus one in Detroit is worth? I've never heard of a valid formula for that. I guess they'll just make it up as they go along. I ask here as I sort of doubt our government has given it much thought. They don't seem to be doing that with much of anything these days. Well, that's not entirely true. Some members of congress have talked about simply taking over the oil industry. (READ MORE)

Scott Johnson: Why not him (right now)? - Al Franken has filed a petition in the Minnesota Supreme Court seeking an order for the issuance of a certificate of election to Al Franken. Franken argues that Minnesota law requires, and that federal law also preempts state law and requires, the issuance of the certification. With the election certificate, Franken seeks to be "provisisonally seated" in the Senate. Franken accordingly asks the Court to order Governor Pawlenty and Secretary of State Ritchie that state law precludes them from issuing until the conclusion of the election contest that is proceeding in the Minnesota courts. Governor Pawlenty and Secretary of State Ritchie have elected to abide by state law and declined to issue Franken the election certificate. Last month Franken's attorneys sent a letter to Governor Pawlenty and Secretary Ritchie asking them to sign off on an election certificate that names Franken winner. (READ MORE)

John Hinderaker: What's the Rush? - As Paul notes below, neither Barack Obama nor any other Democrat has even tried to explain why the Dems' pork-fest, which appropriates hundreds of billions of dollars years in the future, needs to be rushed through the Senate in the dead of night as an "emergency." The real reason, of course, is that Obama and the Democrats know that public support for the bill is drying up as more people learn the facts about what is in it. Hence the rush to get the bill passed. The Dems have a real problem, however, in that no matter what the Senate does, the process has a ways to go. The House and Senate bills are different (and probably will become more different still), so a conference committee will have to reconcile them. That can't be done overnight. The final bill will then have to pass both chambers, so Representatives and Senators will have to go on record once more. (READ MORE)

Political Vindication: Lancet Study Discredits Soros - Again. - Hot Air has a post up about the dishonest 2006 study by the the British medical journal Lancet concerning Iraqi civlian deaths during the war there (yes, it’s the one your liberal friends keep parroting). In a rare display of outrage, the author of the study Gilbert Burnham has been publicly rebuked by the American Association for Public Opinion Research for violating its code of professional ethics by refusing to disclose the details behind the claims that 654,965 “excess” Iraqis died because America invaded Iraq. “Both Iraq casualty studies were widely debated at the time of their release, shortly before U.S. elections. The 2004 report was released Oct. 29, just before that year’s presidential election; an Associated Press report at the time said the lead author, Les Roberts, had described himself as anti-war and said he’d insisted the study be released in advance of the election to prompt debate on the subject. The 2006 lead author, Burnham, said he had no political motivations: ‘We do this from science.’” (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Could Be Interesting - Washington Post: Obama to discuss Guantanamo with 9/11, Cole victims and families. “One Sept. 11 activist, who declined to be identified talking about the meeting, said ‘fireworks’ are likely at the gathering because it will include participants who oppose Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay and those who support it.” Be interesting to see what kind of humility Obama is capable of. Hopefully no one’s too awestruck or feels the need to be polite or respectful. I’d suggest taking a cue from Obama himself. and his “I won” and “Stop taking orders from Rush Limbaugh” school of making friends and influencing people. ”Those illegal enemy combatants killed our loved ones,” and “Stop taking orders from MoveOn.” Something like that. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: The Steele purge at the RNC - During the mini-campaign for the RNC chair since the disastrous national election (for Republicans, anyway), we heard rumblings that the most famous of the candidates might not get much institutional support. According to Ben Smith, the feeling was mutual. Michael Steele, fresh off of his fourth-ballot victory, wants to put his own imprint on the party — and has requested the resignations of the entire RNC staff as a start: “A Republican source says newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has requested the resignations of the entire RNC staff and signaled a dramatic turnover at the party organization. Some aides may be retained, though Republicans are under the impression that Steele will lead a large-scale changeover in the institution, which has about 100 staffers. Obama’s new team at the Democratic National Committee also requested mass resignations.” (READ MORE)

TXPoet: Teacher Suspended for Not Giving Up Her Constitutional Rights - What the hell is wrong with this country? A couple of things but one that I have noticed is “political correctness”. Political correctness should be known correctly as, socialist indoctrination language training. This training runs rampant throughout American culture. We have become so fearful of hurting an individual’s feelings that we are afraid to make them a friend. Thereby forcing groups apart by color, race, creed, religion, beliefs, disability, gender, etc. The left-wing has you jumping at shadows; behind every gun is a maniac, behind every joke is racist, behind every gesture is someone out to get you… This is how the Left makes victims for without this step there could be no subjugation of the masses. (READ MORE)

Confederate Yankee: Rider On a Pale Horse - In a profoundly dispiriting missive to the Washington Post, Beelzobama, Lord of the Flying Excuse, has issued forth one of the most negative, doom-proclaiming pronouncements ever issued forth from the Oval Office ,The Actions Americans Need. It is a ledge-walking lament of a false Prophet attempting to extort America into supporting his pursuit of a nakedly partisan ideological agenda. Barack Obama has put radical orthodoxy over country, and chosen opportunism over leadership. It is, in short, an editorial that deserves to be read and understood so that a trainwreck of a President may be properly mocked and scorned. The dishonesty begins with the first proverbial stroke of the pen: (READ MORE)

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