March 10, 2009

Web Reconnaissance for 03/10/2009

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

Knee Deep in the Hooah!: His Name was Earl - He came off of a military jet at Dover Airfield in the 1950s. He had a family. He had a wife, an unborn daughter, a mother, a sister and other siblings. His name was Earl. My uncle died October 31st, 1955 in Germany. He did not die in battle. He did not die with a gun in his hand. Regardless, he died suddenly and with little warning. He also died thousands of miles away from his pregnant wife, his loving mother and his adoring sister. We are still unsure exactly what he died from. He was my mother’s oldest brother. The first born of a family of 16 children. He died at the age of 21. We had always believed that he died of a brain hemorrhage. That was what his medical records said. It was the official report. His daughter, who grew up to become a nurse, uncovered some documentation that has since led her to believe he died of complication from a very fast growing and deadly brain tumor. She feels pretty confident in her findings. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Manchurian President? - Most political analysts do well to remember this axiom: avoid assigning to malice what can be explained by incompetence. Kevin Hassett of Bloomberg News wonders whether that applies to Barack Obama and his performance on the economy. Hassett makes the argument that Obama has declared war on business, and that the stumbles of his administration appear calculated for maximum damage: “It is no wonder that markets are imploding around us. Obama is giving us the War on Business. Imagine that some hypothetical enemy state spent years preparing a ‘Manchurian Candidate’ to destroy the U.S. economy once elected. What policies might that leader pursue? He might discourage private capital from entering the financial sector by instructing his Treasury secretary to repeatedly promise a brilliant rescue plan, but never actually have one. Private firms, spooked by the thought of what government might do, would shy away from transactions altogether. If the secretary were smooth and played rope-a-dope long enough, the whole financial sector would be gone before voters could demand action.” (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Man Up - That’s the word from el Heraldo’s house feminist re Obama’s “Nerd Herd.” While cutting remarks about men’s manliness are … hurtful, Boston Herald’s Margery Eagan cuts to the essential point men and women have always known, even through the depths of 1960s bra-burning feminism. Leadership requires presence. People look to primeval, know-it-when-you-see-it evidence of authority. That said, the mythical “Revenge of the Nerds” theme* tells us that brains can best brawn, and women insist smart is sexy. I’d suggest the Obama admin’s problem is not so much the nerd factor. It’s the raging hypocrisy/bad ideas overload. Nerd only works as nerd smart. Meanwhile the boss … who does have the strong jaw/abs/swagger thing going on, and isn’t stupid … seems to be missing something. You know, the inspiring confidence, rallying people in times of hardship, knowing the right thing to say, knowing the right things to do parts. A little too much stumbling, saying the wrong thing, backtracking. Empty suit? We’ll see. (READ MORE)

John Hinderaker: Charles Freeman: It's Time To Go - We have written here, here and here about Barack Obama's nomination of Charles Freeman, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, to head the National Intelligence Council. Freeman's nomination should be a non-starter. He is a paid publicist for the Saudi monarchy whose views, to the extent they can be identified independent of the Saudi party line, are outside the American mainstream. As Martin Kramer has shown, he has flip-flopped on such fundamental issues as the significance of the September 11 attacks by al Qaeda. Kramer's continuing research now adds this nugget: Freeman warned in 2002 against designating terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah as enemies of the United States: (READ MORE)

The Redhunter: Obama's Unlimited Stem Cell Research - No Ethics Allowed - Today the Obama Administration reversed President Bush's ban on certain types of stem cell research. It was done by executive order, and you can download it here. The key in my first sentence is "certain types." If you don't know why, don't worry, for many in the media don't appear to know either. The issue is that there are two types of stem cells, embryonic and adult. Too many people on the left talk about "stem cells" as if that's all there was to it. I'll give you my bottom line up front; I think that embryonic stem cells, like embryos in the womb, are individual, separate, human beings and as such should be protected by law. As I oppose abortion, I oppose creating and killing embryonic stem cells. As you'll find out below, I'm sure about embryos in the womb, but not 100% on the embryonic stem cells. (READ MORE)

Warner Todd Huston: Is Libel Law Turning Against Us, New and Old Media Alike? - This is not a story of bias in the media. It is a story, rather, that affects both the Old Media of newspapers, TV and radio, as well as the New Media of the Internet. Our disagreements with the Old Media aside, we both stand to see trouble if a recent court case in Massachusetts gains momentum or is applied liberally henceforth. The Associated Press reports on a libel case in Boston that pits a fired employee of the Staples office supply chain against his former employer. Staples, as it happens, sent out an emailed newsletter informing its employees that salesman Alan Noonan was fired for padding his expense account. Noonan sued for libel. Alarmingly, even though the emailed newsletter was reporting the strict truth the court held that truth was no defense in this case. What does this mean to us? Journalists (and that means us too, folks) have been protected for decades by the concept that “truth isn’t libelous” allowing things of a nature vexing to people in the news to be published without fear of a lawsuit. (READ MORE)

The Sundries Shack: Medical Miracles Don’t Happen By Accident, Except All the Ones That Did - Something from President Obama’s signing ceremony today really bothered me but I couldn’t put my finger on it until just a few minutes ago, when I read some of his statements in isolation. Here’s what I read: “Medical miracles do not happen simply by accident. They result from painstaking and costly research,” Obama said. That’s not actually true. Lots of seemingly-miraculous medicines and technology are with us today thanks to fortunate accidents. The President (and his speechwriters since there weren’t enough “uh’s” for his statement to have been off the cuff) managed to ignore Penicillin, Quinine, Minoxidil, the cowpox vaccine, Teflon, and iodine. Those are the ones I could come up with off the top of my head. I’m sure there are dozens more. (READ MORE)

Cassandra: Working Affluent *DO* Work Harder - Not that this is anything new for Matt Yglesias, but this latest post takes his habitual illogic to new heights: “... there’s the obscene implication that if people are poor, it’s because they don’t work hard and certainly not as hard as those long-toiling business executive. Indeed, one of the main advantages that professional career offer is precisely that, money aside, they don’t involve the sort of taxing physical labor associated with many low-skill jobs. Guys who move furniture are, of course, working extremely hard.” So what? Look, I'm the last person in the world who is going to tell you manual labor isn't "hard". But that's not the point most of the "revolting overclass" are making. They're not saying that no one else works hard. They're saying that contrary to some of the insinuations casually being tossed by the Obama administration and its defenders, affluent workers are affluent for a reason. Several reasons, to be precise: (READ MORE)

Cassy Fiano: Connecticut looking to regulate the Catholic Church? - The separation of church and state is one of the biggest myths out there. There is no separation of church and state clause in our Constitution, although people do have a right to freedom of religion. The separation of church and state argument comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson, and was noted by Jefferson as a reassurance that the state would not interfere with any church. That's basically what the First Amendment and the Establishment Clause say: that the government cannot meddle with anyone's religious freedoms or with the structure of a religious organization. Well, I guess in Connecticut, that constitutional right no longer matters, because the (Democrat-controlled) Judiciary Committee has introduced a bill giving the state the right to organize Catholic parishes and diocese according to state requirements: (READ MORE)

Michael McGruther: The Obama Presidency: Another Lousy Remake - Mr. President, the fact that you and your party spent the better part of 8 years systematically and falsely tearing down the presidency of George W. Bush to seize this moment of power is reflective of the fact that your party is corrupt beyond belief. Only a corrupt organization can behave with one singular, mean-spirited and patently false message like that for eight long years. You’re not a real leader, but instead you’re a brilliant MIS-leader. I’ve intentionally held back from being too critical long enough to give the President and his staff time to really show their hand to the American people but enough is enough. This is a disaster that is going to last 4 slow, long years and will likely end with legions of young Democrats, completely disenfranchised, running to our party because we’re the only ones who actually read and understand the fine print. (READ MORE)

Gabe Ledeen: ‘Brothers at War’: An Iraq Movie Worth Seeing - As a Marine veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I care a great deal about how Americans perceive the war and those of us who served in it. It is no secret that Hollywood has exclusively produced films opposing the war, portraying us as criminals, mental-cases, victims, and simpletons. By and large these movies failed to attract audiences, even as they were praised by the anti-American European fraternities and their L.A. and New York groupies. The success of HBO’s “Taking Chance” demonstrates that Americans are in fact interested in the Iraq War, are willing to watch movies about it, and want to know more about those who fought against incredible odds and proved the naysayers wrong. I was recently privileged to attend a pre-screening of a film that shows Americans exactly what we’ve been missing. “Brothers At War” dares to give viewers an honest and intimate look at a family that supports two brothers on the front lines, from the perspective of a sibling who decided not to serve in the military. (READ MORE)

William McGurn: When Congress Spends, Worse Is Better - The worse the omnibus spending bill now before Congress gets, the more likely that Congress will pass it -- and that Barack Obama will sign it into law. The reasons confuse most Americans. But the iron logic is well understood by every Beltway politician. We were given a glimpse of it Sunday on CNN, when Peter R. Orszag, President Obama's budget director, called the $410 billion omnibus "uglier than we would like" -- and in the next breath urged Congress to go ahead and pass it anyway. What explains this disconnect? The answer is that politicians and citizens understand earmarks in different ways. Politicians understand that not all earmarks are pork, and not all pork comes in the form of an earmark. They also appreciate the ease of inserting pet projects into large spending bills without any debate or scrutiny. (READ MORE)

Meredith Whitney: Credit Cards Are the Next Credit Crunch - Few doubt the importance of consumer spending to the U.S. economy and its multiplier effect on the global economy, but what is underappreciated is the role of credit-card availability in that spending. Currently, there is roughly $5 trillion in credit-card lines outstanding in the U.S., and a little more than $800 billion is currently drawn upon. While those numbers look small relative to total mortgage debt of over $10.5 trillion, credit-card debt is revolving and accordingly being paid off and drawn down over and over, creating a critical role in commerce in America. Just six months ago, I estimated that at least $2 trillion of available credit-card lines would be expunged from the system by the end of 2010. However, today, that estimate now looks optimistic, as available lines were reduced by nearly $500 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008 alone. (READ MORE)

Bret Stephens: Obama's National Intelligence Crackpot What does the Jewish lobby have to do with China's dissidents? - On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal published a letter from 17 U.S. ambassadors defending the appointment of Charles Freeman to chair the National Intelligence Council. The same day, the leaders of the 1989 protests that led to the massacre at Beijing's Tiananmen Square wrote Barack Obama "to convey our intense dismay at your selection" of Mr. Freeman. If moral weight could be measured on a zero to 100 scale, the signatories of the latter letter, some of whom spent years in Chinese jails, would probably find themselves in the upper 90s. Where Mr. Freeman and his defenders stand on this scale is something readers can decide for themselves. So what do Chinese democracy activists have against Mr. Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia? As it turns out, they are all, apparently, part-and-parcel of the Israel Lobby. (READ MORE)

Robert P. George & Eric Cohen: The President Politicizes Stem-Cell Research - Yesterday President Barack Obama issued an executive order that authorizes expanded federal funding for research using stem cells produced by destroying human embryos. The announcement was classic Obama: advancing radical policies while seeming calm and moderate, and preaching the gospel of civility while accusing those who disagree with the policies of being "divisive" and even "politicizing science." Mr. Obama's executive order overturned an attempt by President George W. Bush in 2001 to do justice to both the promise of stem-cell science and the demands of ethics. The Bush policy was to allow the government to fund research on existing embryonic stem-cell lines, where the embryos in question had already been destroyed. But it would not fund, or in any way incentivize, the ongoing destruction of human embryos. For years, this policy was attacked by advocates of embryo-destructive research. (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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