February 13, 2009

Web Reconnaissance for 02/13/2009

A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Chicago Boyz: British Lords A-Leaping - in outrage - Britain’s House of Lords is our second, or revising, chamber. Until the middle of the last century, the lords referred to were all hereditaries and many of their antecedents had had a seat in the English Parliament since its inception. It wasn’t a full time job and didn’t pay anything. Most lords had ancestral fortunes to conserve, ancestral lands to manage and family businesses to further. Some who lived in London attended fairly frequently, but most of the rest of them rolled up whenever there was a debate to which they could contribute something by way of their expertise. They got a little daily allowance – their lunch allowance and their train fare - and rolled back to the ancient pile. In 1958, life peers (the title dies with the holder) were created as a means of widening the range of expertise in the Lords, and for rewarding those who had served the country. Such peers are created by the prime minister of the day. (READ MORE)

Smooth Stone: Israel Votes: Who Won? Netanyahu and Jerusalem - Via OneJerusalem: Over four million Israelis braved substantial wind and rain as they cast their ballots in Israel’s national election. Election night reminded us of 1996 when Benjamin Netanyahu defeated Shimon Peres. Like 1996, this year the Right or National camp roared back into power in dramatic fashion. Even the Left wing press spent little time promoting Livni and Kadima as winners. Winners govern and the decision on who will govern rests with the Right. In the new Knesset the Right will increase their presence in the Knesset from 50 to over 64 seats. This dramatic rejection of the ways of Kadima puts Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud in the drivers seat. (READ MORE)

The Virtuous Republic: Obama Lied About Middle-class Tax Cuts and Infrastructure - You remember, during the debates, hell, at every campaign stop, Obama promised middle-class tax cuts and to rebuild the infrastructure. As far as the infrastructure goes, you know, from my past posts on what is actually in the stimulus, that less than 10%, if that much, is going to roads and bridges. So Obama lied to you about spending money there. Want to guess whether he lied about tax cuts? While you are thinking about that, you might want to consider what you are going to do with your $13 a week the President is sending you. Thirteen freaking dollars! “Economic stimulus legislation at the heart of President Barack Obama’s recovery plan is on track for final votes Friday in the House and Senate after a dizzying final round of bargaining that yielded agreement on tax cuts and spending totaling $789 billion.Obama, who has campaigned energetically for the legislation, welcomed the agreement, saying it would ‘save or create more than 3.5 million jobs and get our economy back on track.’” (READ MORE)

McQ: Details, Pork, Promises And Other Fun "Stimulus" Package Stuff - As the details of the compromise stimulus package come out, most will find plenty to not like. For instance, those stimulative tax cuts for 95% of Americans: Q: What are some of the tax breaks in the bill? A: It includes Obama's signature "Making Work Pay" tax credit for 95 percent of workers, though negotiators agreed to trim the credit to $400 a year instead of $500 -- or $800 for married couples, cut from Obama's original proposal of $1,000. It would begin showing up in most workers' paychecks in June as an extra $13 a week in take-home pay, falling to about $8 a week next January. $13 bucks a week for 6 months, down to $8 bucks a week by January. $338 in '09, and, if it stays in place for all of '10, $416. Wow. 800 billion of your dollars and in the next year and a half you're going to see $754 of it. Go make that down payment on the new house or car now! (READ MORE)

The Duck of Minerva: Obama's NSC - I want to call attention to a WaPo article from Sunday on the emerging structure of Obama's national security council--it was front page, but largely lost among the coverage of the Stimulus package. Indeed, only Rozen really seems to have picked up on it. While largely an interview with new National Security Adviser James Jones about organizational charts and workflows, it nevertheless offers a substantial insight into the new Administration's ability to deal with foreign policy--both crises and long-term issues. Students of foreign policy analysis focus on the decision-making process that Administrations use to make foreign policy. At the heart of that process is the NSC. Since the Kennedy Administration (remember Ex-Comm?), the NSC has largely taken over from the cabinet agencies as the President's main source for foreign policy management, planning, and coordination. (READ MORE)

HughS: Democrats To Banks: Surrender Your Rights - Every private sector employee or self employed individual should take note of what the Democrats are writing into the still yet to be revealed stimulus bill ( BTW, where is the draft of that bill they promised to post on the net?). Bankers get little sympathy in the crucible of populist debate, but if they are coming for the bankers now no one will be safe later. Democrats are drafting language in the current stimulus legislation that will allow the federal government to claw back bonuses paid to Wall Street bankers in the year 2008. A claw back provision essentially empowers Congress to unwind and recover from recipients any bonuses paid in excess of $100,000 to employees of banks that received TARP funds in 2008....retroactively. That's right, Congress wants the power to unwind legal agreements between private sector parties after the fact. Let that sink in. (READ MORE)

Kim Priestap: Leahy Sets up Truth Commission to Investigate Bush - Note how he calls it a Truth Commission, not a fact finding mission. There's a big difference between truth and fact. Everyone has his or her view of the truth based upon his or her opinions, beliefs, and feelings whereas facts are indisputable. So Patrick Leahy is out to find what he can in order to prove his truth, not to clarify facts. And he writes about his quest to find his truth in...wait for it...The Huffington Post. You can't be surprised: “We have just emerged from a time when White House officials often acted as if they were above the law. That was wrong and must be fully exposed so it never happens again.” Wait a minute. Is he serious? We've got Tax Cheat Geithner as head of the Treasury, and Barack Obama nominated a number of other tax cheats to cabinet posts before they had to bow out for breaking the law, yet here Leahy says we need a truth commission because the Bush Administration acted like it was above the law? What gall. (READ MORE)

Ilya Somin: The Politics of the Economic Crisis in Russia - The financial crisis and especially the recent decline in oil prices have hit the Russian economy hard, and have shaken previously strong popular support for Vladimir Putin's regime. In late January, there were widespread anti-government demonstrations organized by a variety of opposition groups. Russia's growth during the 8 years of Putin's rule has been overwhelmingly based on revenues from oil exports, which boomed as oil prices rose. Now, however, the game seems to be up. Although oil prices might go up again, they are unlikely to regain their pre-recession levels anytime soon. Putin's popularity has suffered enough that even Russian President Dmitry Medvedev - whom Putin handpicked for the post - is beginning to distance himself from his longtime patron - criticizing Putin's economic policies and tabling a Putin-sponsored law that would have criminalized most political dissent as "treason." (READ MORE)

Cassandra: More on the Soldiers' Coffins Issue - I decided this morning not even to go into the logistical issues involved with gaining consent from the families and why this is so wrong. Suffice it to say I don't trust a press that can't even look up irrelevant "details" like the difference between an officer and an enlisted man or between the Army and the Marine Corps to be diligent enough to ensure it was the authorized family member who consented and quite frankly I don't trust an already overburdened military bureaucracy either. Mistakes happen all the time but once an image is out there, there is no calling it back. There are no 'do-overs'. When a family member takes the time to contact the media, there's little doubt of their intent and though they may later come to regret letting the media have access (and some have), it was clearly their decision. Burdening families still in shock from the death of a loved one with a potentially contentious request (how many stories have we seen where one parent welcomes press coverage and the other wants to avoid it?) doesn't strike me as particularly compassionate or caring. (READ MORE)

Tel-Chai Nation: Suspect arrested and charged in arson attack in Australia - Strangely enough, they're not releasing that many details here: “MELBOURNE, Australia – Authorities charged a man Friday with lighting one of Australia's deadly wildfires and whisked him into protective custody amid national fury that arsonists may be to blame in the blazes that left more than 180 people dead. Police said the man was charged with one count of arson causing death and lighting a wildfire near the town of Churchill, one of hundreds that raged through southeastern Victoria state last weekend, police said. He also was charged with possessing child pornography. More than 180 people died and more than 1,800 homes were destroyed in the blazes. The official toll for the Churchill fire is 21 dead. The suspect's identity was being kept secret for his own safety, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Dannye Moloney told a news conference. He was brought from Morwell, near the fire zone, to the state capital of Melbourne, Moloney said.” (READ MORE)

Rhymes with Right: Must Not Offend The Muslims, Part 39,756 - And so the light of freedom continues to dim around the world lest the followers of the decidedly no-peaceful “Religion of Peace” become outraged. “The editor and publisher of a top English-language Indian daily have been arrested on charges of ‘hurting the religious feelings’ of Muslims. The Statesman's editor Ravindra Kumar and publisher Anand Sinha were detained in Calcutta after complaints. Muslims said they were upset with the Statesman for reproducing an article from the UK's Independent daily in its 5 February edition. It concerns the erosion of the right to criticise religions. In it, the author, Johann Hari, writes: ‘I don't respect the idea that we should follow a :Prophet” who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn't follow him.’” Now those are historical facts, attested to by Muslim sources. Why is it that stating that one is unwilling to follow the teachings of such a depraved individual constitutes a criminal offense? (READ MORE)

Paul Mirengoff: The United Kingdom turns its back on freedom of speech and freedom of travel - Geert Wilders is the chairman of the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands. He is also a member of that country's parliament. Wilders is a leading voice, if not the leading voice, in the fight against the Islamization of Europe. This week, the government of the United Kingdom banned Wilders from entering England. Today, Wilders flew into London's Heathrow Airport anyway. His purpose was to attend a screening of his film Fitna, which attempts to show the relationship between the Quran and terrorism/jihad, and argues that the problems of Islam are not at its fringes but at its core. However, British authorities detained Wilders at the airport and, as I understand it, sent him back to the Netherlands. (READ MORE)

neo-neocon: Reaping what the 2008 election sowed: undivided government - In the buildup to last November’s election I wasn’t an Obama fan, as anyone who reads this blog knows. But I was actually less concerned about Obama in the White House than about Obama in the White House plus the probability of a Congress (especially the Senate) becoming so filled with Democrats that the party would be able to pass virtually any legislation it so desired. The power of the minority in Congress acts as a check on the majority, and this is true whether it’s Democrats or Republicans in the driver’s seat. This state of affairs is not an accident; it’s part of the wisdom of the original plan. It makes Congress a slow and ponderous body, but that’s by design—and it’s generally a good thing, if you look at the composition of that oh-so-august assemblage. The current imbalance of power is reflected in this stimulus package: (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Reid scavenging for votes - Can Harry Reid deliver sixty votes in the Senate on Porkulus? Apparently, not even Reid can answer that question. According to CNN, Ted Kennedy is too ill to return for the vote, and that means one vote lost from the previous tally could kill the Obama-Pelosi-Reid omnibus stimulus-spending bill: “CNN has learned that one day after securing an agreement on a giant economic stimulus bill that is expected to pass narrowly with the votes of three moderate Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is calling other Republican centrists trying to persuade more of them to vote for the measure.” The math was obvious even last week. Without at least three Republicans, the bill will die on a procedural vote. That has already created some hard feelings among House Democrats, who reportedly got rolled in conference this week: (READ MORE)

Gateway Pundit: Unreal!... Obama Says "We've Gotta Get Serious About Living Within Our Means Instead of Leaving Debt For Children & Grandchildren" (Video) - Put down the coffee... While pushing $1,000,000,000,000 Generational Theft Act, the largest transfer of private wealth to public officials in history, at the Caterpillar Plant in East Peoria, Illinois today, Barack Obama told the crowd: “‘We've gotta get serious about living within our means instead of leaving debt for our children and grandchildren and our great-grandchildren.’ That's not the responsible way. That's not how folks here in Peoria operate in their own lives and they should expect the government is equally responsible.” Unreal. Well that certainly explains the millions for ACORN stuffed in the trillion dollar "stimulus" bill. (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Bum’s rush - Congress cannot wait to actually read the $789 billion spending bill because Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a plane to catch to Italy. Her Highness is going to meet the pope. Apparently he does not mind her pro-abortion stances. So her subjects — the other members of the U.S. House of Representatives — had better just vote on the largest borrow-and-spending spree in the history of the world. Al Kamen of the Washington Post reported: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is leading a delegation to Europe next week for some important meetings in — where else? — the Eternal City, Rome. Details are sketchy so far, but we’re hearing that there’s a meeting with Pope Benedict himself. (Hey, ask him about that Holocaust-denier guy if you get a chance.) Pelosi is apparently going to get an award from an Italian legislative group — she’s huge over there — and then maybe do just a bit of NATO stuff. There may be some other stops.” (READ MORE)

Big Dog: They Will Try To Take Your Guns - The Obama administration and the Democrats following him do not like the Second Amendment. They refuse to follow it and it takes lawsuits before they pay attention and even then they disagree with the rulings. The state of Maryland infringes on the rights of gun owners by putting a number of barriers in place to prevent people (who are not well connected) from carrying a firearm. At the federal level, it will not be long before the Obamatrons use the crisis to confiscate guns. The Socialists at the Brady Campaign for Gun Control want guns taken from law abiding citizens. They think guns are the problem when thinking people know that criminals do not obey laws. Criminals have guns now and they are not allowed but the morons at Brady do not understand. They want to impose Socialism on the citizens of the US and the way to do that is to disarm people. “‘Our task of creating a socialist America can only succeed when those who would resist us have been totally disarmed.’-Sarah Brady” (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: “Like a fire bell in the night” - Byron York describes the current battle over who controls the Census Bureau. Counting constituencies is one of the most sensitive undertakings in a political system. For centuries, and not just in the US, the question of how many belong what sides of the political fence has been key to determining legitimacy. In Lebanon’s confessional society, for example, there hasn’t been a census taken since 1932. In US history, the Missouri Compromise created an uneasy balance between free and slave states, but the balance did not survive as everyone knows. Once a zero-sum game had been set up, it was only a matter of time before a winner-take-all showdown emerged. As the nation expanded, the Compromise began to fail as the balance between slave and free states threatened to tip decisively in one direction or the other. The aged Thomas Jefferson, writing in 1820 to John Holmes Monticello forsaw the weakness in the Compromise, with all the political balance of terror that it implied and knew that it threatened the Union as nothing else. (READ MORE)

Donald Douglas: Boycotting Juan Williams - I'm seeing a pattern here, from the local to the national level, with the increasing intolerance of any speech that's critical of minorities and leftists. Last night I reported on the backlash against Lloyd Carter, the Fresno activist and state deputy attorney general who suggested that illegal immigrants "turn to lives of crime." As I noted earlier, a great many of them do. Now today we have a backlash against NPR senior analyst Juan Williams, who is also a contributor to Fox News, for his comments comparing First Lady Michelle Obama to 1960s Black Nationalist Stokely Charmichael. This letter to the omsbudsman is particular telling of the left's response to legitimate political commentary and criticism: (READ MORE)

Lawhawk: You Don't Say: Pelosi Worried About Murtha Corruption Probe - You could have fooled me that the House Democrats were worried about corruption and the appearance of impropriety. After all, they have been extremely busy defending Rep. Charles Rangel from a GOP effort to strip him of his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee as an ethics panel investigates his tax evasion and ethics violations. They have been busy ignoring Rep. William Jefferson's freezer stuffed with cold cash that is now the subject of a federal bribery and corruption investigation. And now, they're worried about the reprehensible Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania who was reelected to his seat despite showing utter disdain to his own constituents and the residents of rural Pennsylvania and the ongoing concerns about his ties to lobbyist groups and improprieties. (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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